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Buy: Sloane Wolf by Margay; Nora's Soul by Margay; Pandora's Box by Gracen; Hell's Phoenix by Gracen

Video of the Day

We Are Young - Fun

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Happy Halloween!

While it's technically not Halloween, for many places, trick-or-treat and costume parties took place over the past weekend, including today. In honor of that, here are some guilt-free virtual treats!

Below is a short video with some decorating ideas for that last minute treat!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

In the Moonlight With Kelly Whitley and The Hero of Into the Red, Dr. Evan Nichols

Hello, paranormal romance fans! Kelly Whitley here. Thanks to Margay for inviting me to take over her blog for the day.

I’m interviewing my character Dr. Evan Nichols, the hero in Into the Red, my paranormal romantic suspense.

What is your name and occupation? Evan Nichols. I’m an oncologist, specializing in blood diseases. I take care of humans at the Cancer Specialty Clinic here in town, and take care of vampire patients at the Alliance Hospital outside of town. That’s where I do research, too.

How old are you? (looks at ceiling) I’m technically fifty-eight, but in vampire years that’s about the same age as when I transitioned—thirty-three. My best friend Gage says I’m practically a juvenile, since vampires live between 850 and 1000 years. He’s over 300, so I call him old man. (grins)

How did you come by your current occupation? The usual route. College, med school, residency, fellowship. The vampire health care started after my transition. The Alliance—that’s our governing organization—dictates talent allocations within the race. That maximizes resources. Gage is a computer expert. Tara—my wife—specializes in rock climbing. She helps train Purgers, the military’s Special Ops guys.

Do you like your job? Why or why not? I do. I get to use my healing touch to help human patients without their knowledge, and my research is improving the odds of survival for female vampires and their infants during childbirth.

Who is the person/creature you dislike the most? Poisoners. They’re vampires who go rogue and then start to use human blood to get high. It’s very addictive, and drives them insane. It only happens to male vampires, and being alone is a risk factor. The Purgers are responsible for hunting them down and eliminating them.

Were you a Purger? I was, twenty-five years ago—right after my transition. The Alliance reactivated me and Gage to hunt down the recent Poisoner crop. Now I’m back on reserve.

Who is the person/creature you respect the most? I’d say Tara, my wife. She’s tougher than nails. (grins)

Is there anyone special in your life? Tara. And we have good friends in Gage and his mate Mia. The community here is tight knit, and we tend to socialize in that group—it’s safer.

What’s your favorite meal, and do you fix it yourself or have someone fix it for you? I cook, but not anything fancy or gourmet. The steaks at the Savoy downtown can’t be beat.

Favorite color? Used to be black. Now it’s blue, because Tara likes me in blue; says it sets off my eyes.

Football or baseball? Football. All the way.

Favorite exercise? Running, weightlifting, and sparring at the gym with Gage.

I hear you’re planning a winter/summer vacation. Where are you going? Is anyone going along? No vacation right now.

Favorite holiday? Christmas.

Favorite song? Anything jazz.

If you had one wish, what would it be? I’d like kids some day, but until the mortality improves, I don’t want to think about it. For now, finding Tara is a wish come true.


Human blood is an illicit and highly addictive drug--if you're a vampire. Known as Red, its side effects are insanity, and eventual death. A group of Red-addicted vampires known as Poisoners are killing women as part of an extortion plot involving a lost ancient vampiric tome, and they’re leaving a trail of bodies in their wake. The discovery of each new victim risks exposure of the entire vampire race to humans. Then one victim survives…

Dr. Evan Nichols, oncologist and vampire, lives a monk-like existence, by his own choice, focusing on patient care and research to benefit his vampire brethren. It’s been twenty-five years since his world turned upside down—the night he lost his fiancee and discovered his hidden vampire heritage. Now his government has ordered him to take a mate—or they’ll choose one for him. It’s a horrible prospect, and one that might push him over the edge—until Fate throws him together with a human female.
Wary of relationships, Tara West has poured her energies into work and inventing cutting edge climbing equipment. She doesn’t like the gorgeous Dr. Nichols, yet finds herself unaccountably drawn to him.
When a crazed vampire attacks and poisons Tara, Evan rescues her. With time running out, he has to create an antidote to the poison before he loses his chance at love.

In order to make the vaccine which might cure her, he has to find the bastards who poisoned her and take their venom—before they die of their addiction. If he doesn’t reach them in time, saving her will be impossible.

Thus the journey begins—into the Red!

Contact links:  Website   Blog  Facebook   Twitter   Amazon Author Page

Friday, October 26, 2012

500 Word Friday - Part 1

According to some trends, vampires are on their way out. However, I feel that mine will be a different tale and it is yet untitled. I may decide on a title somewhere down the road...

I'm starting with a background scene that isn't going to be part of the main story, but maybe a prologue or flashback for the character involved here. Remember, this is merely part of a whole, so is incomplete. The question here is, are you intrigued to read more?

I wanted to use a pdf, but that didn't work like I thought it would, so I used a jpeg instead. I hope you can read the print. If not,right-click on image and open in a new tab. You'll be able to zoom in to larger size. Thanks! :)

Catriana's Muse: 155. Special Guest: Margay Leah Justice!

Catriana's Muse: 155. Special Guest: Margay Leah Justice!: Why Wolves? Whenever I discuss my latest book, Sloane Wolf, people often ask me, Why Wolves? And I h...

Five Hundred Word Friday!

Welcome readers!

Today kicks of the first of many 500 Word Fridays! Each week either Margay or I will be posting a piece roughly 500 words in length. It may be a complete piece or it may be part of a larger whole. It's up to each individual author.

Please read and enjoy! Constructive criticism is welcome!

The first post will be up later today around noon, so please check back!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Book Spotlight and Kindle Fire HD Giveaway: The Third Grace by Deb Elkink

How to Taste Paris: My Most Memorable Mouthfuls

Greek mythology tells of ambrosia, the food of the gods bestowing immortality, but I’d give up my place at Zeus’s eternal table for a bite of French gastronomy any day. My salivary glands activate just thinking about my next trip to Paris. Here are some foodie tips I’ve picked up that guarantee a nonstop feast while in that gourmet city:  

Plan ahead when necessary, but only if reservations are mandated. I dreamed of dining in the Eiffel Tower and so, in preparation for my first trip to Paris in 1989, I phoned ahead to the Jules Verne restaurant to book a table for two for my mom and me. The chef and his staff delivered a divine haute cuisine meal of quail pâté, tender fish filets in creamy sauce, a cheese board, and meringue with fresh fruit in a raspberry coulis. My most recent Parisian adventure in 2011 with my own daughter required reservations at Brasserie Julien, an Art Deco gem where the traditional French onion soup had a wine-laced bite and the sweet finish of melted Comté cheese. Neither establishment would have been accessible without reservations.

Be spontaneouswhenever possible. I contend that the best food in Paris is found in the markets or along the sidewalks. During a family road trip in1994, we grabbed many awarm and crusty baguette from the closest boulangerie to fill our bottomless pit of a teen son; the back seat of our rental Renault was carpeted in crumbs! French fries really do taste better in France, and heirloom tomatoes plucked from the shelf of a greengrocer smell of the sun-soaked garden.But I consumed my favourite Gallic fast food from a vendor on a curb near the opera house: crêpes hot off the griddle, sugary with crispy edges and dripping with butter.

Forget about calories;you’ll walk them off. The title of MireilleGuiliano’s classic French Women Don’t Get Fat is my mantra when I help myself to cheesesfrom Normandy, andfoiegrasfrom the south, and rich quiche Lorraine,and flaky pain au chocolat (the first treat I buy when I get off the plane). After strolling the Champs-Élyséeshand-in-hand on a romantic stop-over in 2003, my husband and I celebrated our last meal in Paris with a flute of nose-tickling champagne and a burnt-top, vanilla bean crème brûlée. And the wild cherry sorbet I discovered at Berthillon in 2006 is definitely worth the tromp across the Seine to Ile Saint-Louis!

Don’t overeat. There’s more culinary delight around every corner, and dining progressively only multiplies the pleasure. I usually begin my morning in Paris with a café au lait and a melt-in-the-mouth croissantgrabbed along the way, then picnic on gleanings from whatever specialty store takes my fancy: cured sausage from a charcuterie, yogurt from a laiterie, a wedge of cheddar-like Cantal from a fromagerie. Drinking wine in a park or on the banks of the Seine (if sipped discreetly) will not attract the attention of police. If in fact you feel bloated, grab some greens, as I did with my first saladeNiçoise piled high with tuna and anchovies and eggs,from a random eatery nearthe impressionist Musée d’Orsay.But don’t forget to save room for chocolate—lots of chocolate—which might actually have been the ambrosia the Greeks dreamed about!   

Do judge a restaurant by its appearance. I find that in Paris you can almost never go wrong when sitting to eat, so feel free to select an establishment based on the condition of the floors or the comfort of the chairs. One time my travel companion and I, ravenous after an hour or two of fasting, set out to find our supper. We passed over one location because a diner we spotted through the window eschewed his glass and drank straight from a bottle (how crass!), and we disdained a cabaret when we noted the absence of white linen. Finally we settled on a cozy bistro with a fixed-price menu. I ordered the mini pasta pockets stuffed with cheese and topped with creamy sauce and a pile of lardons(yummy bits of sautéed smoked ham). It so reminded me of my mother’s ethnic cooking (in Low German: Varenikje, Schmaunt Fat, Schinkje) that I exclaimed aloud, “The French even make Mennonite food better than the Mennonites!”

Expect the unexpected. We devoured pepper steak glazed with burgundy sauce at Ma Bourgogne in the Marais district, and got talking to a guest seated at a nearby table who turned out to be a famous French singer (Emmanuelle Mottaz, top of the charts just then). She invited us up to her apartment for after-dinner decaf and a peek at her signed lithograph by her father’s friend, Salvadore Dali. Talk about dessert!
Linger. In my opinion and despite the vast epicurean choice in the city, the quintessential Parisian experience will always be “wasting time” at a sidewalk café. The waiters can be rude, dogs are always welcome, and tables are not necessarily clean, but this makes no difference when the platter or mug is set before you. Café Charlot is positioned on a noisy street corner across from the foreboding exterior of the Pompidou Museum. Its renovated 1950’s décor with white metro-style tile walls is very cool, but even so I was unprepared for my first sip of theirchocolatchaud. Bittersweet and thick as molasses, it excited my taste buds to such heavenly ecstasy that I was fairly transported to the Elysian Fields.

So, if you’re on your way to Paris, go hungry, make eating your destination, and expect gastronomic delights of mythical proportion!

Like the author herself, the main character inDebElkink’s award-winning novel, The Third Grace,grew up under the marvelous cooking of a Mennonite mother and freely samples Parisian fare at every turn!

The Third Grace Tour Information:

The Third Grace Tour Page:

About the Author:

When author and city-slicker Deb Elkink fell in love and married an introverted cowboy, she moved from her bright lights to his isolated cattle ranch far off in the prairie grasslands. Still—between learning to pilot a light aircraft, sewing for a costume rental store, and cooking for branding crews of a hundred—Deb graduated with a B.A. in Communications from Bethel University in St. Paul, MN; she also holds an M.A. in Theology (both summa cum laude).

Her award-winning debut novel, THE THIRD GRACE, is set in the contrasting locales of Parisian street and Nebraskan farmyard, and incorporates Greek mythology and aesthetics with the personal search for self. Her writing has been described as “layered and sumptuous,” “compelling,” and “satisfying.”

Visit her website at

Friend her at Facebook at!/deb.elkink.

Pick up your paperback copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Barnes & Noble:

Pick up your paperback copy of Deb Elkink’s THE THIRD GRACE at Chapters/Indigo:

About the Book:

WINNER OF 2012 BOOK OF YEAR AWARDThe past casts a long shadow — especially when it points to a woman’s first love.

Her name was Mary Grace until she fell in love with the French exchange student visiting her family’s Nebraska farm. François renamed her “Aglaia” — after the beautiful Third Grace of Greek mythology — and set the seventeen-year-old girl longing for something more than her parents’ simplistic life and faith.

Now, fifteen years later, Aglaia works as a costume designer in Denver. Her budding success in the city’s posh arts scene convinces her that she’s left the country bumpkin far behind.
But “Mary Grace” has deep roots, as Aglaia learns during a business trip to Paris. Her discovery of sensual notes François jotted into a Bible during that long-ago fling, a silly errand imposed by her mother, and the scheming of her sophisticated mentor conspire to create a thirst in her soul that neither evocative daydreams nor professional success can quench.

The Third Grace is a captivating debut novel that will take you on a dual journey across oceans and time — in the footsteps of a woman torn between her rural upbringing and her search for self.

Book Trailer:

Kindle Fire HD Giveaway! Deb is generously giving away a Kindle Fire HD during her tour, so be sure to enter below. Good luck!

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Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Interview With Sandy Nathan and Kindle Fire Giveaway

Sandy Nathan Interviews... 

Sandy Nathan! 

“I’m Sandy Nathan. I'm sitting in my living room, waiting for Sandy Nathan, the author, to show up. She’s perpetually late. I know her better than anyone else. She’ll give an excuse when she gets here, just watch.” I look around the room.

“I love it here. When we bought this place, back in the days when normal people could buy houses, this room is what did it for me.” I look up at the high, beamed ceilings, the multi-paned windows looking out to the front pastures. I can see golden fields and spreading oaks. More trees tumble down the steep slope across the street. Living here is a dream.

The fact that it’s a great horse property had lots to do withour moving here, too.” I crane my neck. “Can’t see Star from here. She’s my new horse. I’m probably the lamest old lady ever to buy a young, vigorous horse. When I ride her, half the time, I’m terrified. The other half, I’m in heaven.”

I glance at the steps leading down to the sunken living room where I sit and smile broadly. “When we first moved here, this sunken room was so glamorous. Now, many years and several big operations later, I consider it a death trap. The stairs are really steep. Let’s see what happens when Sandy the Author arrives.”

Here she is. Sandy the Author creeps down the stairs one at a time, holding on to the side wall. My husband and I have talked about getting a railing for ten years . . . nothing’s happened. I grin as I watch Sandy the Author descend. I don’t really dislike her, it’s just that she works all the time. ALL THE TIME.

“Hi, Sandy. I’m sorry I’m late. I was working on a scene from Mogollon. I’m writing in the POV, point of view, of a horse!” She smiles as through she’d said, “Barry just got us tickets to Italy.”

“What’s hard about it is that horses don’t think. How can I describe what he’s doing and why, without giving him thoughts?” She’s grinning like a lottery winner. “It’s going to be dynamite. Mogollon is going to be so much better than Numenon.”

“What’s Mogollon?” I ask. “And why the weird name? No one will be able to say it.”

“You don’t think so? It’s pronounced ‘Muggy-yone’ by New Mexico and Arizona residents.The Mogollon are an extinct tribe of Native Americans. The book occurs at a Native American spiritual retreat. It’s the sequel to Numenon, my book about the richest man in the world meeting a great American Indian shaman. That’s the one that won all the awards. “I’m really glad to be working on Mogollon again, and finally making progress.”

“How long have you been working on it?”

“Since 1995.” She looks sheepish.

“That’s ridiculous.”

“I know. I got really bad writer’s block. Frozen does not come near to describing what happened to my creativity on that one.

“But I did write three other books in the meantime: The Tales from Earth’s End Saga. The books are about a group of people who are pushed to the edge of existence time and again. In the first book, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, the world has become a police state under a vicious dictator. People are watched all the time, kidnapped off the streets, they’re tortured, killed, and imprisoned without trial, all with government approval. When the book takes place, a nuclear meltdown will happen the next morning.”

“Why did you write something like that? No one would believe it. Plus it’s so violent and depressing.”

“In the Author’s Notes of all three books, I talk about my inspiration. My brother died a while back. He was only fifty-four.”

“I know, he was my brother, too.”

“So you know how we felt?”

“Yep. ‘Caca’ feels better.”

“Yeah, and being a former economist. You remember that, don’t you?”

“That was the last time we earned a living wage.” I snarl.

"That’s true. We sure haven’t gotten rich writing. We loved being an economist and worrying about things that mattered. Like, will we have eggs at the end of the month? Will the economy crash, as it did in 2008, and put us all on the street? I think about things like that. Those thoughts were definitely in operation as I wrote the Tales series. I think it’s entirely possible that we slip into another Depression and that a dictator could take over. The world I portrayed could come to be, or something like it. That part of the Tales comes from my Inner Economist.

“A short time after my brother died, I had an amazing dream where an angel—or something—came to me. It was a wonderful experience. When it dissipated, The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy was there in my brain. I finished the first draft of The Angel in five weeks. The next book in the series was right behind it, ready to be written down. That was Lady Grace. When I finished that, the third book popped out: Sam & Emily.” 

“Sort of like toothpaste coming out of a tube.”

“Exactly. I finished one book, and the words to the rest were there. That was pretty easy. The rest wasn’t. The editorial process, what you have to do to put out a high quality book, takes a long time. My brother died in 2007. I published the two final Tales books this year, 2012. I’ve been working on the series more than full time. Someone commented on a blog, ‘Do you ever sleep?’ Yes, but not a lot. Five years for three books. Many hours of work.” 

“Do you like the books, after all that?”

“Yeah, I do. Writing is like walking into another reality. Part of my soul remains with the people of Earth’s End, hoping it works out OK. I love those characters, most of them. I’m in love with Sam Baahuhd.”

“Do you plan another book or books in the series?”

“Yes. At least one more in Tales from Earth’s End. It will pick up at the end of Lady Grace, the second book. But I have a whole lot more writing to do in my other series, The Bloodsong Series. That’s the one with the crazy names, Numenon & Mogollon. The Bloodsong Series touches Tales from Earth’s End. A few of the characters from Numenon show up in Lady Grace. I want the two series to come together. Not merge, but have books in common, where the casts of characters join. But I have to get the Bloodsong Series up to speed first. That means in sync time-wise. Numenon is set in 1997. The characters that migrate over to the Tales in Lady Grace come from 2015. I need to tell the characters’ stories in that 18 year hiatus, and beyond.”

“Do the books in Tales from Earth’s End happen right after each other? So Lady Grace happens right after The Angel?”

“The three books aren’t in temporal sequence. The Angel takes place long before Lady Grace.No one knows how many years have passed when the survivors return. Lady Grace is what happens after the survivors come home to a post-Ap

About Sandy Nathan:

Sandy Nathan writes to amaze and delight, uplift and inspire, as well as thrill and occasionally terrify. She is known for creating unforgettable characters and putting them in do or die situations. She writes in genres ranging from science fiction, fantasy, and visionary fiction to juvenile nonfiction to spirituality and memoir.

“I write for people who like challenging, original work. My reader isn’t satisfied by a worn-out story or predictable plot. I do my best to give my readers what they want.”

Mrs. Nathan’s books have won twenty-two national awards, including multiple awards from oldest, largest, and most prestigious contests for independent publishers. Her books have earned rave critical reviews and customer reviews of close to five-star averages on Amazon. Most are Amazon bestsellers.

Sandy was born in San Francisco, California. She grew up in the hard-driving, achievement orientated corporate culture of Silicon Valley. Sandy holds Master’s Degrees in Economics and Marriage, Family, and Child Counseling. She was a doctoral student at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and has been an economic analyst, businesswoman, and negotiation coach, as well as author.

Mrs. Nathan lives with her husband on their California ranch. They bred Peruvian Paso horses for almost twenty years. She has three grown children and two grandchildren.

About Sandy's Books:

Her latest books are The Angel & the Brown-Eyed Boy, Lady Grace: A Thrilling Adventure Wrapped in the Embrace of Epic Love and Sam & Emily: A Love Story from the Underground, which are all part of the Tales from Earth’s End series.

You can visit her website at

Visit her blogs: and (blog for writers) (series blog)

Follow her on Twitter:

Friend her on Facebook:

To purchase a paperback copy of Sandy Nathan’s The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy at Amazon:

Purchase at Barnes & Noble:

About Lady Grace:

Beyond the End of the World The Earth has been devastated by a nuclear holocaust. Technological wizard Jeremy Edgarton and a few of his friends were whisked off planet moments before the horror by the goldies, a race of super-evolved aliens who seemed too good to be true.

Unfortunately for Jeremy, that’s exactly what they were and now he wants out. Jeremy’s mother, Veronica Edgarton, is awakening from a cryogenic sleep in a chamber deep beneath the ice near the North Pole. She is facing life with one of the most ruthless and cruel men ever to have lived. She is not the kind of person to take this lying down. In another place, 105 generations after the missiles struck, the inhabitants of a bunker designed to preserve them until the radiation has receded are preparing to emerge. Regrettably, evolution can work for evil as well as good. Each of these events is potentially volatile. Combine them and the results are explosive! The players from across time and space are catapulted into a struggle of cosmic scale, challenging them to draw upon every ounce of their physical, intellectual and spiritual strength. Lady Grace is a thrilling, action-filled adventure wrapped in the embrace of epic love.

Watch the book trailer!

On to the Giveaway! Sandy is giving away a Kindle Fire!

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Monday, October 22, 2012

Return to the Moonlight

It's been awhile since I've blogged here, but life kinda sucks when you have a migraine all day, every day. Then, just when you figure out the problem, you realize your computer screen is adding to it.

Yep, that happened to me, so I took some time off. Then, it just got too easy to stay away....

Yeah, in that time, I understood why many, many authors decide to just stop for awhile. Sure, you want to keep your name out there and your blog active, but at what cost?

The very thing that inspires my stories and characters - it's called life - was suffering from the stress I put on myself. Okay, it wasn't all just from mental stress, some of it was from physical stress.

Either way, I knew I needed to make some changes, so I did. However, I knew if I were to make these changes permanent fixtures to my life I would have to focus my efforts on making those changes, and keeping them. It took awhile, but they seem to have stuck, and I'm beginning to see some remarked improvement...again.

What changes did I make?

Well, I knew I needed to make some physical changes and get healthy if I wanted to be more physically active and just enjoy life. Sure, I'm still dealing with pain all day every day, but it's not migraines anymore, it's just the normal pain that someone like me deals with and the changes I've made are helping to make this pain more and more manageable.

I tried for a second time to give up Coca Cola, but no luck there, however, it's okay because I managed to make some other very important changes.

While I have tried to eat whole-grain, multi-grain, bread on a regular basis, I just couldn't do it, but I have found I like a whole-grain, honey-wheat bread, and I'm able to eat that more regularly than the other bread. It's become such a part of my diet now that when I go to restaurants, I'm annoyed when I don't see a multi-grain bread as an option!

The same goes for junk food. I've found that I can substitute a peanut butter/dark chocolate granola bar for a candy bar. I've also found that I've lost my taste for most of the candy on the market. If I really, really need dark chocolate, I just eat a couple of chips (about 12 at most) and that seems to satisfy that need. I now eat Kashi Pita Chips and Country Cheddar Crackers for most of my other snack foods (over crackers, pretzels, and Munchos).

My pasta choices are better too. I have now chosen to eat whole-grain pastas. That makes a big difference. With whole-grain pastas, I do not find myself getting hungry so easily like I would with regular pasta.

As a result of all of these changes, I find that on the whole I eat less every day and never feel hungry or starving like I used to feel all the time. That was part of my fear, and why it took me so long to return to regular blogging. I was afraid I'd feel like I was starving and eat while I sat here at the computer. However, I no longer have that fear because I no longer need to eat while sitting at the computer...drink a beverage, no.

I've managed to finally in the past week break that plateau of 195lbs that has been plaguing me for the past couple of months. Granted, I'm not losing as fast as I could, but I figure I'm losing weight and eating much better - all in the face of food allergies to pretty much all fruits and vegetables!

I did not make all of these changes over night, but at a time. I gave my mind and body a chance to adjust to the new changes. I believe that was key - I gave each new habit a chance to take root and boot out an old bad habit before moving on to the next one. I plan on trying to add in regular walks next.

If someone like me can change my lifetime of bad eating habits (30+ years), anyone can. If you want it bad enough, you can make it happen. No one else has the power to truly change your life for you, only you do.

It took me a long time to realize that fact. Once I did, and realized that I wanted to lose the weight for me - and no one else - I became strong enough to overcome those reasons I fed myself junk (I can't have variety in my diet or eat healthy because of all my food allergies) and make the changes that are making my body healthier.

I'll admit, when I was younger, those excuses felt valid as there weren't healthier options I could actually stomach because they were made with fruits and veggies, and better flours were really, really expensive - if you could even find them in the stores around here. Now, there are more grain options out there as well as more and more stores - including national/local chain stores - carrying better breads, better snack options, and better food alternatives than ever before.

Better options exist, I just have to look for them.

I no longer crave junk food these days for the most part. Often, I find myself craving protein. I find myself eating more meat than I used to, so I'm even more of a carnivore than before, which seems hard to believe. However, where I used to want beef all the time, I know what chicken or turkey on a regular basis with some pork or beef thrown in once in awhile to mix it up.

There are so many items like sausage, pepperoni, and bacon made from turkey (which makes them lower-fat, healthier options) today that it's easier to eat poultry than it used to be. I find ground turkey meat tacos to be less heavy, but just as filling. Tacos don't sit like a rock in my stomach anymore. Using a whole-grain/whole-wheat crust, olive oil and turkey pepperoni, pizza has come back on the menu - as a much healthier, and lower calorie version.

Funny, I find my diet to be less restricted once I found I could eat different whole grains than I did before I changed my diet.

So, how does all this relate to writing?

Well, I find that my creativity took a huge boost when I started feeling better!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting Published by Mystical Press, Plus a Giveaway!

5 Secrets to Increase Your Chances of Getting Published

As authors-turned-editors, we’ve learned a number of truths we wish we’d known when we were authors. Though this article is based on our own experiences as small press editors, many of our colleagues—Big 6 included—wholeheartedly agree with the following points.

However, not many of them are willing to share such information. They vehemently shake their heads and exclaim, “No! Don’t tell an author THAT!” When we ask why, they usually stare at us as if we’re daft. “Just don’t!” (AJ & Arial lean in…Pssst! We’re going to reveal some of those secrets. Don’t tell anyone or we’ll be in big trouble! Shhh!”)

Secret #1—Editors Are NOT Rich

As authors, we thought all editors were paid via salary. At a minimum, we assumed they were paid a large chunk of money per book when the manuscript was contracted. Then we became editors—GASP!

Most editors with publishing houses either get paid royalties—meaning they ONLY get paid IF the book sells—or a small flat fee based on word count. Example: a 30,000-word manuscript x 1¢ per word = $300…but the editor usually spends anywhere from 40-50 hours to put out a quality product. You do the math. We’re talking less than minimum wage. And though we editors may have anywhere from 5-50 authors under our belt, we’re usually only working on 2-5 manuscripts at a time due to our many other duties (See AJ’s article “Waiting For Edits… Tick… Tock…”).

So what’s the big secret that affects you? This is a KEY factor in getting your manuscript contracted and why it’s #1 on the list. The less time an editor spends on a manuscript, the more bang she gets for her buck. Editors are looking for stories that are clean, easy to edit, and worth spending time on. Remember…your job as an author is to learn your craft. Which brings us to the next secret…

Secret #2—They Don’t Call It the Slush Pile for Nothing

MOST of the manuscripts that come across our desks are CRAP! We are not kidding and this was a surprise to us, too. And we’re not just talking about the book. We’re talking query letter to synopsis to finished manuscript.

So how do you seriously stick out amongst the kah-kah and craft something sparkly clean? KNOW YOUR CRAFT! We cannot stress this enough. Never stop studying the craft of writing and find a good critique partner who will be brutally honest with you. And we’ll share two bonus secrets—the two biggest trouble spots in 99% of manuscripts submitted to us are show versus tell and unrealistic characters.

Herein lies the rub: If authors are getting form-letter rejections, how do they know what (or how) to fix their manuscripts? That’s where we come in. We have three classes that will help you overcome the above issues AND you will have one-on-one interaction with an editor to learn what you’re doing wrong—not just in these but in other areas, as well: Show versus Tell (SVT) Class Series, Crafting Believable Characters (CBC) Class Series (coming this fall/winter), and How to Write a WINNING Synopsis Power Class. If you’ve never been published, then this valuable interaction with an editor will shave DECADES off your learning curve. No joke.

Secret #3—We Are NOT Looking for an Excuse to Stop Reading

Several agents seem to give this same advice to authors. “Editors are looking for any excuse to stop reading. Your job is to not give them ANY excuses.” Though we clung to those words as if our life depended on it as authors, we were really offended to hear this as editors. We imagined an editor reading a query letter, getting to the part that didn’t appeal to her and collapsing back in her chair. “Oh thank GOD I can stop reading!” WRONG!

Editors are NOT looking for any excuse to stop reading. We are BEGGING to find a good story! (Refer to Secret #2) We’re on your side! We WANT to find characters to fall in love with and worlds we can escape to and storylines that will keep us up all night, wildly flipping pages, dying to know what happens next! We don’t do this job because of the money (refer to Secret #1). We’re editors because we love to read and we love stories.

Now…for the next secret you should sit down. This is going to be quite a shock.

Secret #4—Editors are NOT Gods

We’ll give you a moment to recover. (AJ and Arial pat your hand empathetically.) You okay now? Good. Editors are human beings just like authors so do not put them on a pedestal.

There are indeed some editors who enjoy the “Deity” status and therefore abuse the power. Yes, we are the gate keepers of your manuscript, but in all honestly there are editors out there who don’t know their tushies from a hole in the ground. We were surprised to find out how many editors—Big 6 or otherwise—really don’t know their job well enough to do it properly and consequently we cringe at some of the stuff we read. And make no mistake—we’re learning more every day, so we’re not perfect either. This is why it’s important to know your craft…so you know what to defend in your manuscript and can have an educated discussion with your editor when she suggests a change you feel is wrong.

Authors are not dogs at the table, scrambling for scraps any publisher is willing to throw to the ground…even though that’s what publishing houses might want you to think. Why? If you think you are one of the very few select authors granted a rare audience through the pearly gates of publishing, you will value the tiny royalties you are paid.

Secret #5—You Can Afford to be Picky

Do NOT settle for any publisher. Thanks to the digital explosion, the publishing industry is now in the hands of authors and readers. We’re about to reveal a dark secret that will probably get us black listed—but we are authors first, editors last.

Because of self-publishing, publishers are losing talent left and right. True dat! Publishers’ release schedules are growing thin. Some editors are being hassled by their bosses for content, content, content! And they’re publishing almost anything. Contracts are getting tougher to get out of because publishers don’t want authors self-publishing their novels.

You’re not off the hook, though. Editors are still trying to find the best talent. They still want a good and easy-to-edit story and they’re asking for short projects. Why? Because publishers get paid faster on short edits. Easier to produce and cheaper to sell. This means two things for us authors:
Choose publishers who appeal to you the most—beautiful covers, good quality products, and books that are high on the ranking lists with distributors. Do your research! and Barnes & Noble will let you download samples of any book to your eReader.
Shorter projects will not only increase your chances of getting published, you’ll be publishing more, thereby getting more stories under your belt.

You’re Not Alone

Mystical Press Services primary goal is to help authors bridge the gap between the form-letter rejection and publication. Through our services and classes, we will coach you—one-on-one—through the problem spots in your manuscript. ALL customers receive a FREE consultation on their work and we’ll help you pinpoint what needs improvement.

If you visit our site, be sure to tell us this blog article referred you so your hostess will be recognized.

And for a great article on crafting characters from Mystical Press, check it out here.


We want your feedback. What surprises, if any, did this article have for you? How do you think knowing this information will change your writing or the way you submit to publishers? Are you motivated to self-publish? Why or why not? Or do you think we’re just full of hooey? Please be honest. We encourage you to share some of your experiences with rejection letters, self-publishing or the publishing industry. OR if you have any questions, ask away! If you leave a comment or question, we’ll enter you in a drawing for a $25 eGift good toward any services or classes at our website. Good luck and thanks for participating!

Editor Bios

Mystical Press is the culmination of two authors and professionally trained editors—Arial Burnz and AJ Nuest—who help authors bridge the gap between the form rejection letter and publication. In fact, we believe in this venture so passionately, our tagline is “Helping authors achieve their dreams.” Come dream with us!