Friday, March 25, 2011

The World of Wylie

This week, I'm sitting at my computer, ready to type in my weekly post, when suddenly this woman from Canada, named Jennifer Wylie, bursts into my apartment. Now, normally, I wouldn't mind, but with barely a "How Ya doin'?" she hip checks me away from my computer, and takes my chair. Before I can recover, she's hijacked my blog. She spends a few minutes typing away like mad, then she's out the door in a flash. The bad news is, she left the Canadian cold weather in her wake and we had been enjoying sixties here in Iowa for a week or so. The good news is after reading her posting, instead of geting upset, I want to thank her for showing up and letting us know what she's been up to. Come back anytime, Jen, but knock next time, or I'll sic the Mounties on you...

I need a clone. Seriously. The last few months have gone by so quickly I feel as though I simply stepped through a time machine to now. Well, almost...I'm rather tired, and a bit frazzled. My eyes are sore and my fingers cramped. Since I received my first contracts from Echelon Press in September I've been going nonstop. If I'm not editing then I'm writing or marketing. Mostly I edit.

Even though I'd love to take a break and relax I've too many things on my plate to do so. Luckily, I enjoy being so busy, what I'm doing. Occasionally I get a bit overwhelmed, but I have a wonderful support group of family and friends and colleges who keep me from falling over the deep end.

For those of you reading I haven't met before, my debut publication came out in December. Jump is a humorous urban fantasy short story which has done very well, hitting OmniLit's Top 10 Best seller list the day of release, reaching and stay at #1 for over a month. (Currently at #3). This month I was very excited to get the contract for its sequel! (No release date yet though)

In late February my longer short story in my Immortal Echoes world was released. The Forgotten Echo has also been doing very well, currently #2 on OmniLit’s Top Seller list, and the sites Top Rated list. I've just received a contract for another short story in this world, The Untouchable Echo.

Did I mention I've been busy? In February I was also contracted for a short story series- 6 stories total, one to be released the first of each month. That's a lot of writing and editing just in case you were wondering. My Tales of Ever series is part of a new short story program being put out by Echelon Press. Electric Shorts is a pilot program for reluctant readers. Each series contains six short stories presented once per month as electronic downloads (eBooks), much the same as a television series. Tales of Ever is a fantasy series written for young adults (13-17 year olds). My first instalment was released March 1st. I love this world and am very pleased to see Banished doing well too. The second in the series, Fire Girl, will be out April 1st. I'm currently working on edits for it as I write the third story.

If you aren't a lover of short stories, ~gasp~, you'll be happy to know my novel Sweet Light is due out in May. I'm also working with an editor for it. (Did I mention I've been doing a lot of edits lately?)

So you see I've been rather busy, but still trying to keep in touch with everyone. The kiddies are keeping me on my toes, and I'm hoping for more time to show up at some point so I can work on some books I started a while ago. I'm not sure when that will happen...but I'll cross my fingers!

For information on all of my work, and for updates on what’s coming soon, contracted or in progress check out my website:
Do stop by my blog too! Lots of fun stuff there :)

Tales of Ever
Series Blurb:
Welcome to Ever.

Ever, a deadly realm where feared, powerful and dangerous magical beings are banished. Though very large, it is not a world but a magically created prison. You can’t break through its circular boundary. Who, or what, made Ever? I’ve no idea. They were powerful, and cruel. That is all I can tell you.

Ever is like and unlike every other world. Nothing is safe. Safety is a dream. Ever is a nightmare. Few survive their first day. Nothing is what it seems. If something appears safe, it isn’t. If something appears dangerous, well it is, but probably more so than you think.

Ever has no sun, no moon, no stars at night. Time is told by the ever changing color of the sky where portals open, dropping new inhabitants, or new terrors. Time does pass. Don’t worry, you won’t get old. You won’t live that long.

The landscape changes without reason form dessert to jungles. The flora isn’t safe at any time. There is food, if you can find it without getting eaten yourself. Most plants and animals are poisonous. So is the water.

Are you afraid? You should be. This is the end. It gets worse of course. Remember the portals? Do think angels come through? Rarely the innocent do. Mostly, it is people of evil, people too powerful to kill. Their magic works here. The creature’s are worse.

Do you understand? Well you will eventually, or you’ll die. There is no escaping Ever. Ever.

#1 Banished:
My life was normal. It sucked, but it was normal. At least until I got this new power. I can control fire. It would be cool if it wasn’t so dangerous and if I knew how to use it. Pretty much my sucky life took a nose dive once I got it. Yup, everything gone. I suppose I should be thankful some uncle I never heard of took me in. Turns out the whole family isn’t normal and my power is a lot more dangerous than I thought. I thought things couldn’t get any worse. I was wrong. They banished me to Ever.

If I’m lucky, I might survive my first day.

Buy Links:



Amazon UK:


Jennifer Wylie was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. In a cosmic twist of fate she dislikes the snow and cold.

Before settling down to raise a family, she attained a BA from Queens University and worked in retail and sales.

Thanks to her mother she acquired a love of books at an early age and began writing in public school. She constantly has stories floating around in her head, and finds it amazing most people don’t. Jennifer writes various forms of fantasy, both novels and short stories. Sweet light is her debut novel to be published in 2011.

Jennifer resides in rural Ontario, Canada with her husband, two boys, Australian shepherd a flock of birds and a disagreeable amount of wildlife.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Around the Globe with DEBBIE MACK

This week, as the early signs of spring are starting to stay around for awhile, I hop in my transporter and pick up author Debbie Mack and in no time, we're sitting at a table at a streetside cafe in Rome. (You can see a little of where we're having the interview in the picture to your left.) I'm not sure what she's drinking, but I'm trying a very expensive dry red wine. (Hey, she's paying, I'm just the inteviewer.)

1. Who is Debbi Mack and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

Those are tough questions. Much tougher than they look. I can tell you that I’m the kind of person who would never claim to be the most fascinating person in my city, because I live near two cities full of fascinating and eccentric people – Washington, DC and Baltimore, MD. I’ll let you guess which trait is prevalent in which city.

I will say that I’m a good listener. I love to listen to other people’s stories. And I have a few of my own that are pretty interesting. I’ve lived through some unusual experiences and survived some close calls. A few near death experiences, even. It gives me pause sometimes and makes me appreciate what I have and life all the more.

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

I can imagine there are a few things about me that would surprise or even shock people, but I’ll pick just one: In my senior year of high school, I skipped school so many days during one grading period that they marked the number in red. Somehow or other, I managed to pass all my classes with decent grades. I think I had a B average. Maybe. I’d lost interest. Clearly. In fact, I didn’t even attend my graduation. I just picked up my diploma from the office. I was more than ready to move on to something else at that point.

3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an nuclear scientist?

I think my interest in writing began with reading. As I grew older, I started keeping journals and even tried to write stories, without much success at first. It wasn’t until high school that I wrote my first short story. It was science fiction, inspired in part by 1984, with a bit of Star Trek thrown in – in retrospect, I think, I was ripping off a few ideas here and there and combining them. Boy, was I surprised when the teacher gave the story an A-!

Despite that, and even though I ended up majoring in journalism (after starting off in electronics technology – long story), I ended up going to law school, because I figured I could practice law for a living and write as a hobby. But practicing law is time consuming and demanding. Life is too short to spend on things you’d rather not do, when you could be spending that time on things you want to do. Writing was what I wanted to do. So I changed careers.

4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Oh, boy! How big is the table? Let’s start with Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Ross MacDonald and Margaret Millar. These four are among the classic hardboiled mystery authors that have most profoundly influenced my writing. Margaret Millar wrote both hardboiled mystery and psychological suspense. I’d love to add the late Mercedes Lambert to that group, since she wrote a hardboiled mystery series about a crime solving female lawyer in Los Angeles similar to mine. Judith Van Gieson has also written a hardboiled mystery series about female lawyer Neil Hamel in Albuquerque, NM, so I’d include her, too. And, of course, Sue Grafton, Walter Mosley, and the late Robert B. Parker, because these three are among the best known contemporary mystery authors that have influenced my work.

Outside the mystery genre, I’d love to add Mark Twain, because I imagine he’d tell great stories. Erica Jong because of Fear of Flying. Sylvia Plath because of The Bell Jar (yeah, I was a teenaged girl once). J.D. Salinger because of Catcher in the Rye (boy, is the seating going to get awkward or what?). Isaac Asimov, because he was a genius and a visionary. Harlan Ellison because he’s a no-nonsense, straight shooter and a writers advocate. Douglas Adams because he wrote The Hitchhiker’s Guide and he was funny. John Kennedy Toole because it’s tragic that he didn’t get to enjoy the success of A Confederacy of Dunces and I’m sure he’d be great company. I could rattle on and on … but that would get boring fast.

5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?

My books tend to combine the feel and structure of a hardboiled private eye novel with the fast-pace and action typical of a thriller. At the same time, I like to write about real issues, and the characters and situations are often gritty and realistic. Somehow, I think I’m able to strike a balance between realism and the more plot-oriented action/adventure feel to end up with a story that both informs and entertains, and ends well, but not always due to the right reasons. There’s usually a bittersweet or ironic aspect to my endings, sometimes almost a touch of noir, without going so far as being tragic.

6. Share the Mack process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.

Ideas can come from just about anywhere. For example, my idea for my latest novel Least Wanted was sparked after reading about girl gangs in The Washington Post and listening to stories my husband’s friend told about working as a security guard at a Prince George’s County middle school. The two things got me thinking and I wrote a rough draft of an outline for the story. I did some research on girl gangs on the Internet. I read a book about girls in gangs. I also spoke with someone in the PG County State’s Attorney’s Office who had direct experience with the subject. I spoke to an attorney who handled juvenile court work and corresponded with a school guidance counselor. There was also an embezzlement storyline that I had to research and vet, too, and I was fortunate to meet a financial auditor to help me with those details. Otherwise, I tried to read as much as possible on the Internet, including articles, government reports and other documents on various subjects including girl gangs, juvenile crime, juvenile incarceration, embezzlement, money laundering, pawn shops and other topics.

Regarding my writing schedule, every night I always plan out what I intend to do the next day. Usually, I’ll plan to write from around 2 to 4 or 4:30 p.m. (afternoons are best for me), after I’ve set aside time to handle email and marketing chores. I usually write a little every day, unless life absolutely makes it impossible, because that’s my job. My only day off is Sunday. Generally, as I’m writing the first draft, I’ll give the chapters to my writers group. They review them and comment on them, so I’m usually revising and updating as I go. So, by the time the first draft is finished, I have a pretty good idea what changes I want to make for sure. Then I take another look at the whole thing again and go over it once more and make any more changes I think are necessary before I hand it off to my editor.

7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”

First of all, just start writing. Don’t edit yourself. Just start and see what comes out. Get the bones down, as someone once put it. Check your local community college to see if they offer adult education courses on fiction writing. I took a course on mystery writing at my community college when I started out. It helped me understand story structure. You also might want to read books on writing, such as (to give a few examples) Stephen King’s On Writing, Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird or (if you’re into mystery or thriller writing) Carolyn Wheat’s How To Write Killer Fiction. Also, you can learn so much from reading well-written books. Whatever else you do, I encourage you to read, read, read other books of all kinds. Read them with a critical eye and figure out what makes them interesting. As a writer, you may eventually find yourself doing this automatically.

8. I saw an amusing t-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life?

I think my life’s philosophy can be best summed up in one of my favorite quotations from Helen Keller: “Life is either daring adventure or nothing.”

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

Stop writing? Perish the thought. I’ll stop writing when I stop breathing. Right now, I’m working on the third novel in the Sam McRae mystery series. I’m almost finished. I have lots of ideas for more Sam McRae novels to come. I have two other standalone novels I’d like to revise at some point and publish eventually. I have an idea for a young adult novel that I’d like to work on next. I’ve also written a feature film screenplay. Any producers out there interested in hearing the pitch? Hmm?

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

You can read about me and my work on my Web site at and on my blog at I also have four other blogs (yes, five blogs total – insane, I know ), which you can find listed on the sidebar of my Web site.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Around the Globe with KRIS SEDERSTEN

Well, like so many of my authors do when I come to interview them, they just step in and take over my transporter's controls and assume command. This week, Kris Sedersten even took over some of the narrative and, hey, give me back the keyboard-

Stephen and I are meeting at the fabulous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park Colorado. We are here to enjoy the amazing view and check out the haunted history of this beautiful establishment. There is some awesome mojo in this place. We may take a ghost tour while we are here. I’m hungry for Chinese food so I think that’s what we’ll have while we visit.

All right, but you could have waited until the summer to come to Colorado. Anyway, on with the questions.

1. Who is Kris Sedersten and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?

My city is actually a very small town of 900ish people. Believe it or not, there are a number of citizens who are more colorful than I am so I don’t think I’m hardly the most fascinating person in town. I enjoy spending time with friends and family above all else. My husband and I have three grown children and eight amazing grandchildren. I am a budding paranormal investigator so I guess that makes me a ghost hunting grammie, and that’s a lot of fun. I recently founded a paranormal investigation group called Synergy Paranormal Investigations so we’ll see where that leads. So fun!

2. Without revealing a deep dark secret, what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?

Many people would be surprised at my passion for the paranormal. I’m a really down to earth person, generally speaking. Many people were surprised to learn that I write fiction, also. Not a lot of colleagues in the Health Care field do either of those things! Isn’t it wonderful that we all enjoy different passions in life?

3. What interested you to become a writer rather than something else such as becoming a nuclear scientist?

Actually I am a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, so I was much more inspired to enter the helping professions before I was inspired to become a writer. Writing was more of a hobby I tripped over later in life. It was an incidental journal entry that became the catalyst for writing fiction. I found that I love the creative process and now I am quite addicted to writing.

4. Writers are readers. Which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?

Stephen King would be my first choice because he is the master of horror and I love horror stories. Mr. King could join us here at the Stanley Hotel which is where he was inspired to write The Shining. Kathy Reichs could also join us because I love the TV show Bones!

5. If you were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a 4 hour layover at the airport, why would your books be great company?

Mojo is a fast paced paranormal thriller that would keep you engaged until the bitter end. The twists and turns keep you guessing. You may not want to read it too close to dark, especially on the deserted island since you would be very much alone! You might have to sleep with the tiki torch on afterward! lol

6. Share the Sedersten process of writing in regards to idea and character development, story outline, research, writing schedule, editing and number of rewrites.

I start out with the general plot and character ideas which I put into an outline. I often wonder why I bother to do that, however, because the story tends to write itself and it goes where it goes in the end. The end product may slightly resemble what I had in mind to begin with but sometimes only slightly. I write everyday for at least one hour. When I am in the creative process I can honestly write for ten to twelve hours at a time if the world lets me. I get obsessive about getting the story down on paper and it’s hard for me to stop until that is done. I’m learning to edit more as I go to decrease the number of rewrites. Until recently I haven’t edited much during the first draft. I just want to let the ideas free flow and get them down on paper. I do most of my research on the internet or other books on the topic of interest.

7. I think I have a good idea for a story but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice.

My best advice is to just start writing. You will never get your story to go anywhere if you don’t start somewhere! I suggest writing while the ideas are fresh and exciting. In some areas there are writing groups that can be a big help to authors. That is not the case where I live. I would also suggest working with an editor to help you figure out your strengths and weaknesses. That can definitely help you become a better writer. That’s not to say you want an editor who fixes everything for you or essentially “ghostwrites” for you. The good ones won’t do that, but they will challenge you and help you to grow as a writer by teaching you more about the craft and developing your own style.

8. I saw an amazing T-shirt the other day which read, “Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is your philosophy of life.

Phil 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!

9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing? What’s next for you?

I am working on the second installation of the Mojo series. It is in the process of being edited as we speak. It is called “Lost Mojo” and I hope it will be out by the end of the year. I have the third book also on the way. I’m nearly finished with the first draft of that one. I’m very inspired to write a book of true ghost stories also with my new found interest in paranormal investigating. There are a lot of truly fascinating tale of unexplained phenomena out there just waiting to be told! I’ve started putting a few ideas together there as well.

10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?

Well, you can Google me to find information about ezine articles and book reviews from genre bloggers etc. I have some articles published about paranormal experiences and paranormal investigating on and ezines. My website is Please feel free to stop by anytime and leave a comment or a good ghost story!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Salute Editors, Part 2

I continue the interview with Kat Thompson, former senior editor at Echelon Press. Every publisher has individual preferences for manuscripts. Where one will accept a tag line after a question, another will not. As I discovered, the rules continue to be updated, but many are to make the writer think, to be more creative, and to put out a better product.

8. I've learned a lot about writing, as have others, through trial and error and from other writers in critique groups. I strive to put out the best manuscripts I can, to follow all of the rules. However, I've read a lot of books, written by well known authors, where I find all sorts of mistakes I'm not allowed to make? Why do editors let those go by?

Because each editor looks at things differently. For instance - at Echelon, we don't like tags with question or exclamation marks. Other publishers don't seem to have an issue with this - just different styles. Many of the books/guides written by authors are extensions of their own opinions about what is correct. You can get 3 different editors in a room and have 5 different opinions about what is correct in any given situation - that's the craziness of the English language.

9. I'm ready to submit my manuscript to be review for acceptance. I can just mail the whole thing to your attention, correct? Why not?

No. You must check the publisher's website and review the submission guidelines. If you do not follow the guidelines (very often different for different publishers), the publisher will not even consider your submission. The publisher's opinion is if you cannot follow those guidelines, then you may not want to follow other rules of the publishing house and, frankly, we don't have the time to deal with someone who will not follow the rules.

10. Could I ask how many submissions Echelon Press receives on a monthly basis? How do I make myself stand out?

It really depends on the month. I've seen as many as 6 or 8 and as few as one. If you follow our guidelines, your submission will be read. We read every single one of the submissions we get - as long as they have followed the Echelon guidelines.

11. I've submitted a manuscript. Should I wait by the phone or keep checking my email every day expecting a reply? How long should I wait and should I just assume if you haven't replied within X amount of time, you just didn't like what I wrote?

Generally, expect to wait 4-6 weeks. Most publishers do not have a single person or team who do nothing but read submissions, so submissions are being read by the editing staff, in between editing books and dealing with whatever else life is throwing at them at the moment. A good publishing house will acknowledge receipt of a submission and try to give you an estimate of how long you can expect to wait. If, however, after 6 weeks you have not heard anything, it's acceptable to drop a line to the submission email and inquire where you are in the pile.

12. I've made submissions to multiple publishing houses or agents and, wonder of wonders, two have accepted it and would like to offer a contract. How do I choose?

Good question. How do you feel about the publishing house? Which one gives you the best impression? Which one responded first? This is entirely subjective, but good luck with whichever one you choose.

13. Part of Echlon's submission requirements is a request for a marketing strategy. What is this and why should I have one? I mean, I wrote the story, if you publish it people are just going to buy it, aren't they?

Because Echelon expects its authors to market their books, we want to know how you plan to do so. Echelon does not have the personnel to do nothing but marketing. For that matter, the big NY publishers may expect an author to do some of his/her own marketing, too. Without marketing your book may sell - to your family, friends, and possibly friends of friends, but unless you get out there and sell your book, it can be in all the right places (Ingram, B&N, Amazon, etc), yet will not sell enough copies to make it worth the time, effort and cost to the publisher. This is a business, after all, and Echelon, as well as every other publisher, is in the business to make money - for Echelon, the editors and the authors. You have to be willing to help get there.

14. In our frequent correspondence, I've noticed a tag at the end of your emails saying you're in search of 'wandering body parts.' Explain what these are and give a few examples.

Wandering body parts are perfectly correct sentences that create humorous mind pictures. Or they may be sentences that because of word order, create a physically impossible action/movement/scene.
Examples: Small pine trees reached out, and then a row of bamboo shot up in front of him. She squeezed her eyes together. Boots and skirts spun past Ann. Slinging his arm over his eyes on the bed. The Marquis sat in the den reading along with a snifter of brandy, which sat on the highboy next to him.

15. What advice do you have for new writers or already published authors to help them improve their skills to make the writing more fun and your job a little easier?

Write, write, write, then write some more. Pay attention to what your editor says and learn from your mistakes. Accept critiques in the manner in which they are intended - as an aid to improving your story. Read books and study how the authors tell their stories. And write.