Tuesday, September 30, 2014

In the Interview Room...

Today I'm being interviewed by Terry Odell over on her blog about my newest release. Go
on over and visit and join in the discussion.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

You mean I have to do…that? (or—how I spent my summer vacation)

While a whole bunch of wonderful Indie short story writers visited my blog over the summer (And if you missed reading these great interviews please refer to the archives), I was writing, reading-over stuff, finding mistakes, editing, writing, finding more mistakes, reading again, re-writing whole sections, reading the whole durn thing aloud until my voice got hoarse, moving paragraphs from here to there, making corrections, having my Mac Book read it to me, and making more corrections, having my tablet read it to me. (How the heck did I miss that ending period the last 50 times?) Repeat the above process a few more times, and you will know get a bit of an idea of how I spent my summer vacation. 

In two weeks I will be releasing Night Watch my very first full-length mystery novel as an Indie author. If you are a blog reader of mine, you will know that I released Strange Faces, my collection of short mystery stories on my birthday this past May as a bit of a trial foray into the Indie world. Actually, it was sort of a birthday present to me. 

This Indie journey? It's not what I expected. It's way more work. Since the early 90s, I have published 18 novels with traditional publishers, and here is a list of all the things I never had to think about before:

Covers: That didn’t stop me from mightily complaining when my publisher came up with a cover I didn't like, but the buck stopped with them. Not me. If readers rolled their eyes at me and said, “What about that cover of yours?” I merely nodded knowingly. It was them, not me. Now, however, it’s me. Scary. 

Editing: I knew enough to hire an editor and a good one right off. 

Copy-editing: Oh my. This is still ongoing. Two weeks out from when Pre-Order turns to Order on Night Watch, and I’m sure there are errors - still. This, basically was my summer. (Read first paragraph. Re-read it. Now re-read it again. Get it?) As a full-fledged Indie author, the buck stops with me. If there is a misplaced comma, it’s my fault. If I’ve left off the ending period or quotation marks at the end of speech, it’s my fault.

Back cover copy: The what? You mean I have to write that? I’m terrible at that! That’s not my gift. Not my calling. I want to retreat to my turret and write the Great Canadian novel. Well, hello real world. 

The book description blurb for sites like Kindle and Kobo: See above paragraph.

eBook formatting: Since I am married to a professional book formatter, I can wipe my hand across my brow and say, "Whew! Got that covered." He, actually, has taken all of my OOPs that I’ve been able to get the rights back to, (Ongoing. Stuff of another blog…) and put them up as eBooks. 

Marketing and Promotion: Since traditional publishers also demand this of authors these days, I had a bit of a clue when it came to this. However, (and a big ‘however’) I have no one to blame but myself if plans fail. 

If you are a reader of books, (and you're probably not reading this unless you're a reader of books),  this is a little behind-the-scenes look into what we go through. It's not all writing anymore. Two thirds of the actual time you spend on the book will be all this other stuff. But as a famous Canadian comedian has said, “Keep your stick on the ice because we’re all in this together.”

Even with all of this, I can't think of anything else I would rather do. I get to sit here in my pajamas all day.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 18 - BEN SOLOMON

With this blog, the Summer Short Story Spectacular ends. Season 1 has come to a close. Tuesday marks the Fall Equinox, a beautiful time of colorful trees here in the east. It has been a joy and fun for me to meet so many short story writers and share their stories here. I hope you have enjoyed this summer with me. 

Next summer? Yes, there will be a Season 2. For spring and summer 2015 I plan to interview fiction writers who write about the sea, or sailing, or set their stories on water. Lakes, brooks, creeks, the ocean—doesn't matter. 

Why am I doing that? To commemorate the birth of my new mystery series. Shhh. Keep tuned to this blog for more. Starting next week my blog will once again go into writing about My Indie Journey. 

For my final spectacular short story author, I am pleased to introduce you to Ben Solomon. 
Ben grew up with Picasso, Cagney and Beethoven. Classical arts training, comic books and Hollywood's golden age rounded out his education and provided inspiration for a lifetime. He's worked across many disciplines, attempting to capture the heart and soul of music onto canvas, translate oils and celluloid into words.

Solomon's passion for the tough guy world of early gangster and PI flicks led to the creation of "The Hard-Boiled Detective," a short story series starring a nameless gumshoe in a throwback era seeking truth, justice, and sometimes a living. He launched the ongoing series online in February 2013, offering three yarns a month to subscribers. His sleuth has appeared in e-zines across the web as well as the 2014 anthology "The Shamus Sampler II." Another adventure is scheduled to appear in an upcoming anthology published by Fox Spirit Books.

What is your all-time favorite short story and why?

I'll pitch you the one that always comes to mind: "Red Wind" by Raymond Chandler. One of the best opening paragraphs I've ever read. An opening I'm sure even Elmore Leonard found a worthy exception to his "Ten Rules of Writing." In five short sentences Chandler creates the yarn's universe, its laws of nature, its tone and sense, its voice. Simply masterful.

What is the most difficult part of writing short fiction?

The voice trips me up a lot. Most of my work's written in first person, and that makes the narrator's perspective and attitude crucial. The voice makes it play, sing. Gives it heart and soul.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

Write your ass off and make it your own.

Which of your short stories should we read first and why?

What a swell opportunity for a plug. The Hard-Boiled Detective 1 just came out in paperback and soon hits the e-shelves. This volume is a collection of the first 11 adventures from the monthly series I began in February 2013. I've been writing three stories a month for this subscription series. With 57 tales and counting, I figured it was high time for the first book. So sure, start out with the daddy of 'em all, "Statement No. 1: Pierre-Louis Leblanc." Each yarn is a stand-alone, but there is a progression to the writing and characters without getting into subplots and backstories.

Where can writers find you, Ben?


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 17 - JA MENZIES

It must have been the early 90s when I first met J.A. Menzies, (Or N.J.) I was enroute to Toronto for a writer's conference and she was the designated driver who picked me up. I think, also, we did a short skit for that conference. We've kept in touch ever since following each others' careers and life. 

J. A. writes contemporary mysteries in the Golden Age style. Her novels include the Manziuk and Ryan Mysteries (Shaded Light and Glitter of Diamonds which many reviewers have compared to the best of Agatha Christie. Library Journal called J. A. a “master of plotting.” Her third mystery, Shadow of a Butterfly, will be out soon. J. A. is a member of a number of organizations for writers, including Sisters in Crime, Crime Writers of Canada, and The Writers Union of Canada. J. A. Menzies is the alter ego of award-winning author and speaker N. J. Lindquist.

Okay, JA, you know the drill. Here are the questions. 
What is your all-time favorite short story and why?

It’s not really my favourite—I don’t think I even like it—but the short story that has stuck in my brain and is always the first one I think of when I hear the words “short story” is “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. I think I was in elementary school when we read it for English, and it was probably my intro to horror writing. The build-up and pacing is just perfect. I hated it and loved it at the same time. 

As for my favourite, that might be “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Anderson. I was given both Andersons and Grimm’s fairy tales when I was very young, so they kind of molded my tastes. I later loved the stories of O’Henry. I just love twist endings, although I prefer them to be happy ones. ☺

What is the most difficult part of writing short fiction for you? 

Narrowing the story down to fit the word-count. My Manziuk and Ryan mysteries are 130,000 words or longer, with multiple point of view characters and complex sub plots. For a short story, everything has to be smaller. You’re baking a cupcake, not creating a six-layer wedding cake. So you need a limited number of characters, either a single plot-line or a main one with one very small sub-plot, and only a few scenes—sometimes only one scene. I usually struggle to find an idea small enough, and to believe that what I have is enough to make an interesting story.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

Read a variety of stories from different genres and addressed to different audiences, and determine what you like or don’t like about them. At the same time, write at least 10 or 20 short stories of your own before you start worrying about getting published. Think of it as you would if you were learning to play the piano by playing a variety of short pieces. You’re practising your craft. Honing your skills. Discovering what you do well. Identifying what you need to work on. I also highly recommend The Elements of Fiction books on developing characters, setting, plots, etc. 

Which of your short stories should we read first and why?

Probably “The Case of the Sneezing Accountant.” 
It will introduce you to my series’ characters, detectives Paul Manziuk and Jacquie Ryan. If you want to know who they are, Publisher’s Weekly said "Ontario police detectives Paul Manziuk and his new partner, Jacqueline Ryan, make an odd team—he's white, an abrupt, patronizing veteran, while she's a recently promoted, vivacious black woman—but in [Menzies'] debut mystery the two rub elbows and tempers to captivating effect.”

This short story will be free on Amazon from September 17-19. 

Where can readers find you?

Amazon author page

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 16 - MELISSA YUAN-INNES

Today I welcome to my blog short story writerMelissa Yuan-Innes!

She is an emergency physician, writer, and cheerfully married mother of two loud children. They wreak havoc outside of Montreal, Canada. Her latest Hope Sze medical mystery, Terminally Ill, was hailed as "utterly likeable" by Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine and hit the Kobo Top 50 bestseller list.

Time for some questions. Melissa, What is your all time favorite short story and why?

I kind of hate picking out my favourites, but when I was growing up, I would re-read "The Most Dangerous Game" and "The Monkey's Paw." Danger! Thrills! A satisfying ending! As an adult, I've read almost all the Best of Fantasy and Horror collections, and one of my favourites is "Gestella," by Susan Palwick, about a werewolf who falls in love with a man, except like dogs, she ages much faster than him...

What is the most difficult part of writing short fiction for you?

Sometimes, I write a very quick bite of a story that satisfies the poet in me, but the only to have the editor respond, "This story's just getting started." So I have to decide if I want to keep the story short and savage, or develop it into a more complex tale.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

Work hard and have fun. 

Sounds like great advice, Melissa! Readers are going to want to know which is your short stories should they read first and why?

I have a soft spot for "Indian Time," featuring a Mohawk man newly released from jail who's trying to get to know his two sons again, only his white mother-in-law stands in his way. Publishers Weekly called it "impressive" and "moving" and criminalbrief.com named it one of the best short stories of 2010.

On a more personal level, I talked to some students at St. Lawrence College about it, and Tesha Sunday, one of the Mohawk students, had made my infant daughter a ribbon dress, "because you wrote about my culture, and you got it right." I had my daughter wear that dress until she ripped the sleeve!

Melissa's links:

Indian Time
And her latest novel: Terminally Ill

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 15 - LINA GARDINER

Even though the calendar still says we're officially in the season of "summer," here in eastern Canada we have had our first "frost warning." Yikes. Does  that mean snow is around the corner? Maybe not for a little while. Autumn is really a beautiful time of year here, despite frost. Usually it's warm and unbelievably colorful, a near-perfect season.

This is a special blog for me today. I'm so pleased to introduce my very good writing pal, Lina Gardiner who is an amazing writer. If you haven't read her books, you owe it to yourself to do so, but I'm not here to talk about all of her works today, I'm here to introduce you to her shorter works - since this is Summer Short Story Spectacular. 

Before we get to the questions, let's get to know her a little:

Lina’s first book was published in 2007. At every point along the way—before 2007 and since—she enjoys the daily routines of being an author: from conceiving an idea to writing and revising, from networking with other authors, to attending workshops and learning sessions and, of course, holding that bright and shiny, newly published book in her hands—always the best experience ever. 

Being a writer is a dream come true for Lina, but the friendships she’s forged with fellow authors and readers are the main perks. Those friendships make that solitary job a richer and more rewarding experience.

Lina belongs to several writers’ groups and has served as a board member and in several chapter positions.

On the home front, Lina Lives in New Brunswick, Canada, a hot spot for legendary ghosts, tall tales and odd happenings which probably add to her love of a good mystery. The spooky stories her grandfather told his grandchildren in the "parlor" when their grandmother wasn't paying attention also sparked the wonders of imagination and a love of storytelling.

It didn't take long for Lina to be "noticed." Her Jess Vandermire Vampire Hunter Series are not to be missed. She's also garnered a number of awards - The  Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Paranormal-Time Travel-Futuristic, the Prism Award for Best First Book, from FF&P (Futuristic, Fantasy and Paranormal Chapter of RWA), and she was a nominee both for the Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards, and  the Paranormal Romance Guild Reviewers’ Choice Awards.
Her books have been well received by such reviewers as Kirkus Reviews and USA Today’s HEA blog, including a 4.5-star rating from RT Book Reviews.

Let's get to the interview questions: Lina, w
hat is your all-time favorite short story and why?

In answer to your question, I’d have to say my favorite short story of all time is “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allan Poe. It’s a wonderful psychological thriller. Not an easy task in a short story. Poe’s Tell-Tale Heart perfectly portrays the inner workings of a madman in a very short time.

A number of my summer guests have chosen that book as an all-time favorite! W
hat is the most difficult part of writing short fiction? 

I guess the most difficult part of writing a short story is keeping it tight and concise. While sub-plots and subordinate characters enrich a full-length novel they don’t have enough room in a short story. Writing a short story means implementing all of the same plot points necessary in a full-length book: Introduction of characters, location, theme, turning points, big-black moment (also known as dénouement) and resolution.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer?

Write your story without thinking about the short stories being difficult. Often times, writers instinctively put in all of the necessary elements. (Even the beginners) After all, we’ve read for years and we have a feel for how the story should play out. Now, there’s a lot more to writing than that but it’s the best starting point. Write, write, write. 

 Which of your short stories should we read first and why?
I’ve only written 2 short stories. A Moment of Truth (free story). It was a test to see if I could do it.  and the second was a book that I’m eventually going to write a sequel to…. Dangerous Exposure from Wild Rose Press.

Where can readers find you, Lina?


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 14 - MARGARET DALEY

As September begins to wind down, I'd love for you to meet Margaret Daley, an award-winning author of ninety books (five million sold worldwide.) All I can say to that is Wow! Great work Margaret! 

 She has been married for over forty years and is a firm believer in romance and love. When she isn’t traveling, she’s writing love stories, often with a suspense thread and corralling her three cats that think they rule her household. 

Here are my questions for Margaret:

What is your all-time favorite short story and why? 

The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe I love that story because of the way suspense was created in it.

I agree. That's one of my favorites, too! I'd advise any short story writer to get ahold of that story and study it. 

Margaret, what is the most difficult part of writing short fiction? 

Flushing out the main characters to add depth to the story.

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer? 

Learn to write tight. Watch your adjectives and adverbs.

Which is your short stories should we read first and why? 

Deadly Hunt and Deadly Intent are novellas (part of the series Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations). I wrote a short story for Love Inspired Suspense for the Harlequin website. It's called Guarding His Child. Click here to read the story.

You can learn more about Margaret's books here:


Buy Deadly Hunt links:

Buy Deadly Intent links:

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Summer Short Story Spectacular, Season 1, Episode 13 - LYN COTE

For my first September blog post I'd like for you to meet Lyn Cote. Lyn has been an online friend of mine for a long time. She's a prolific author and just a really nice person!

Since her first Love Inspired romance debuted in 1998, Lyn Cote has written over 40 books. A RITA finalist and a Carol Award winner, Lyn writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and historical. Her homepage blog features "Strong Women, Brave Stories." 

Lyn, What is your all-time favorite short story and why? 

That’s easy O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” I love that the young couple love each other so much they are willing to give away what is most dear to them. And love the twist at the end. 

What is the most difficult part of writing short fiction? 

Packing so much meaning into each word. I tried to sell to several magazines and most wanted only 1500 words. That’s very tight!

What piece of advice would you give to a prospective short story writer? 

Concentrate on nouns and verbs and the shading of meanings. Keep your thesaurus handy and pick out just the RIGHT word.

Which of your short stories should we read first and why? 

Well, I never play favorites with my “children.” I love each of them equally :-) But after reading my Amazon reviews, I find many readers like the “twist” at the end of “A Diamond in the Rough.”

Where can readers find you, Lyn?