Monday, December 14, 2015

Welcome to the Season's Readings Holiday Hop!


Greetings and Happy Holidays!  It's a couple of weeks until Christmas and we here at Mocha Memoirs Press are getting the celebration into full swing with the Season's Readings Holiday Hop! We have a collection of authors that have decorated their blogs with holiday stories, recipes, memories, and most of all--- NEW BOOKS!  We want to ensure that everyone who gets a new Kindle or Nook from Santa this year has plenty of romance, sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to keep them warm by the fire.

Mocha Memoirs Press has several offerings to whet your holiday appetite, including a brand new story in Drea Riley's Naughty Klaus series--- It's Christmas, Cupid! We're also spotlighting a bundle of some old favorites with Mistletoe Dreams-- $3.99 for three holiday stories that are sure to melt your snowglobe. If military romance is more your speed, Siobhan Kinkade will delight with her bestselling Under the Mistletoe. But it isn't all smooching here at MMP, we've also got a holiday fantasy straight out of a fairy tale with Selah Janel's Holly and Ivy. A variety of stories to get you into the holiday mood.

So don't just sit there! Click on the button below to be whisked away to another stop on the blog hop. But before you go, you'll notice that there is also a Rafflecopter giveaway of swag, books, and a $10 Amazon GC, so be sure that you enter to win! Winners will be announced on Tuesday, Dec. 15th!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, December 7, 2015

It's December! Let's Talk About Goals...

I am giving a speech tomorrow on the importance of goals, so I thought I would kill two birds with one stone and give you my thoughts on the subject.

Goals. That's a scary word sometimes. But setting goals can really change your life. I've talked enough about my personal challenge goals, but I think something similar is a great things for anyone to do. If you are on the writing side of the table, your goal can be something similar to those I've talked about:

1) submit X pieces in the coming year.
2) get X acceptances (or rejections) in 2017.
3) write X number of pieces next year.

or some other goal focused on whatever aspect of your career you want to improve in the New Year. My goal next year is to increase my income to $5000 from writing/selling books. It's a big goal, but go big or go home, they say.


If you are on the reading side of the table, you can do a goal based on that activity. For example:

1) read X number of books next year.
2) read X number of authors you've never discovered before.
3) read every book in your favorite series (if you haven't already done so -- or find s new series of you have.)


Having a goal gives you something to shoot for. It's like making a sandwich. You decide you are hungry so you want to make a sandwich. That is your goal. Actually making the sandwich is the steps to accomplishing that goal. BUT HERE IS A REALLY IMPORTANT PART. When you finish your goal, reward yourself. If you make a sandwich and set it on a shelf somewhere, the goal may have been completed, but it really isn't finished. Finishing the goal is eating the sandwich.

If you go to all the work to accomplish and complete a goal -- not a little one, like get out of bed in the morning...unless that is something you don't normally do, in which case, it deserves a reward -- you owe yourself some recognition of that accomplishment. You better believe I will somehow celebrate if I make it to the 31st without missing a submission. :)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Finding love in the strangest places...

Combining fiction genres effectively is a challenge for any writer, and a potentially rewarding one.  The challenge lies in letting your imagination soar while still respecting the boundaries of whatever genres you've chosen, even when the border between them blurs.  A publication like Mocha which combines fantasy, science fiction, horror and romance presents that challenge, and in some very offbeat and provocative ways. 

"An Improbable Truth:  The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" for instance, was a daring challenge to effectively combine the familiar style of the legendary Victorian sleuth with dark realms of fantasy and science fiction most people wouldn't ordinarily connect with him, and in such a way that the compelling magic of each would compliment the other.

Genre-mixing can be seen in the currently popular science fiction sub-genre I like to call YAPA (Young Adult Post-Apocalyptic.)  It takes the old sci-fi genre of "After Armageddon", the grim and bloody macho fantasies of survivors fighting over scraps in the rubble of our fallen civilization (a popular if schlocky subject of grade-B sci-fi films in the 70's) and combines it with the unlikely partner genre of young adult romance.  The heroes and heroines of today's post apocalyptic dark visions are young people fighting for their lives and souls against adult-run tyrannies of the future, and finding love along the way.  It effectively marries two very different genres, and provokes a bit of controversy along the way (as all good fiction should, in my opinion.)

 We recently saw the long-awaited wrap-up of the movie adaptation of the "Hunger Games" books.  The saga began with a tragic young love trapped within the seemingly  inescapable nightmare of a monstrous tyranny of the future in which the young are forced to kill each other in gladiatorial games.  The heroine is a normal girl.  All she really wants is to live her life, protect her beloved kid sister and be with the boy she loves.  The obligatory element of the young adult love story is there:  She's in love with two different guys and has to choose.  But, in the nightmare world she has to live in, which one she ends up with may depend more on the course of larger forces she can't control than on her own heart.  She's pitted against one of the two boys in the death sport which proves the first great test of their love.  The society they live in puts their love on display to sell an idea to the masses.  But, is that love real?  It proves to be only at the very end, and has an effect on a world so desperate for change that an individual act of love can literally change everything.  That's the challenge of all good science fiction and fantasy:  to create a character with whom anyone can identify, and make the reader imagine him or herself in a world where none of the familiar rules and boundaries apply anymore.  More than that, to directly connect one with the other.

The saga evolves into a tale of revolution, the young heroine who survived the games and then destroyed them becoming a reluctant but effective spokes model for a populist revolution.  The story continually and effectively dovetails young adult romance with political and social allegory, as the heroine finds herself just as exploited as a televised image by the revolution as she was by the regime.  Her love again faces the critical test, and proves the one unshakeable reality in a world built on lies when she goes against the orders of the revolutionary leaders in rescuing the boy she loves from the regime.  Only to find he has been brainwashed by the enemy, his mind poisoned against her.

As the story continues, the revolutionary war escalates in bloody carnage and brutality,  conveying the grim reminder that life isn't like fiction where the righteous revolution topples the tyranny and all live happily ever after.  The new regime is often just as bad as the old.  Here again, the young love story interweaves with the tale of future war as one of the heroine's two loves becomes a commander of the revolution, the gentle, handsome boy she once loved now a ruthless butcher plotting calculated mass casualties without a glimmer of compassion or conscience.  While the other is fighting an internal war for his own soul.  He doesn't know which of his thoughts and emotions are real and which  where programmed into him by his former captors.  The heroine refuses to give up on him, no matter what.  Again, love is put to the test by larger circumstances, the imaginary world becoming the crucible for that love.

In the end, something resembling a happy ending is finally carved from the tragedy, and even a glimmer of hope for the human condition shines through.  Love proves humanity's one slim hope for redemption. To combine the classic elements of diverse genres:  teen romance, high adventure and dark political allegory -- yes,  a challenge worth doing.   I hope we see more of it.  And, if more such challenges are forthcoming from Mocha, I for one will do my best to answer the call.

Monday, November 30, 2015

COVER REVEAL: Mistletoe Dreams Holiday Bundle

Mocha Memoirs Press is really bringing in the Yuletide cheer this year with a new holiday release, a blog hop and a BUNDLE of Christmas joy courtesy of RaeLynn Blue, Drea Riley, and Laurel Cremant.  It's a triple-header of heart-warming AND heart-stopping romances that will keep you warm all season long.  Not to mention that the 1st story in the Naughty Klauses collection (a prequel to It's Christmas, Cupid!) is included in the bundle.  And *leaning in conspiratorially* you get THREE stories for the rock bottom price of $3.99.  PERFECT to fill up those new holiday Kindle Fires!

Check out the blurb...

There's no time like the holidays for love—whether you are rekindling an old love, finding love in strange places or just expressing a love of the ages. Follow these tales of love, laughter and holiday spirit in Mistletoe Dreams... 

Winter's Guard. . . 

Five years after a broken engagement, Vicky and James have met again. Forced to work together, Vicky hopes to show James that what they had wasn’t all broken. All she wants is time to prove that their hearts hadn’t lied five years ago—they may have fallen in love during a dark moment in their lives, but that doesn’t mean they don't belong together. 

A Trick of Frost. . . 

Two days before Christmas with her ex-husband, Rick, harassing her parents, Jaycee Froste needs a gift to lift her spirits. She stops in at her favorite restaurant, and it brings more than a hot meal. Jaycee finds herself seated across from one of the most annoying and handsome men she's ever met. She would even consider letting him taste her stew, if he hadn't stolen her reservation. With the holidays upon her, Jaycee decides the thing she needs to lift her spirits is J.C., a man who offers her so much more than she ever could have hoped. 

 Naughty Klauses. . . 

 Jessica and Nic have always loved the holidays and this year they are most definitely going to be on the naughty list. When you've got eternity on your side, it's nice to living things up with a little spice. You'll never look at Mr. and Mrs. Klaus the same way again...
 
So... is your appetite whetted?  No?  Not yet?  Then take a look at this cover....
 
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B018EP9EDQ
 
 
I thought that might get you going.  The best news is, you can PREORDER TODAY from Amazon!! So go!  Go now!  
 
 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

COVER REVEAL: It's Christmas, Cupid by Drea Riley

Who doesn’t love a naughty holiday story?  I know I do.  Something about the sparkling lights of the Christmas tree, the spirit of giving, and that suggestive little twinkle in Old St. Nick’s eye just makes me long for the warm touch of that special someone.  Drea Riley is back on December 1st with a continuation of her Naughty Klauses series for Mocha Memoirs Press.  Her new shortie is called “It’s Christmas, Cupid!” and what a Christmas it will be!  Check out this blurb…

With Nick and Jessica cooling their heels in Key West the Klaus children are tasked with running Christmas. Nothing but shenanigans could come from this arrangement. Or murder if Jaq has to spend winter babysitting the son of Cupid. 
Amur new Jaq would rather kill him that speak to him. And he’d stand still and let her do it, but he’d prefer it to be  Ранняя смерть/Rannyaya smert’. Or as the French say “petite mort”. He’d willingly die a thousand times as long as it was between her thighs.

Doesn’t that sound delicious?  So without further ado, here’s the cover for your viewing pleasure….
http://amzn.to/1YhFOqx
 
 
This little piece of Heaven is releasing on Dec. 1st, but you can PREORDER NOW from Amazon! 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Three P's of Success


People are always making tip lists...well, here is another. The three things that will best help a writer in my opinion.

1) Prioritization -- Decide on your goals. What do you want to accomplish most?

Is your writing goal to write a novel? Okay! That's not hard. (Not promising that it will be a good novel, but you can write one.) Make a daily goal. Put it on the top of your To Do list -- Write 1500 words a day (or 1667, and you can get in shape for next year's NaNoWriMo...or start in late on this one--you can catch up.)

Want to write a poetry collection? Make a daily goal. Put it on the top of your To Do list -- Write a Poem a day. Baby steps.

Whatever you want to do is possible. Prioritize it along with the rest of your must dos for the day. Make it a daily habit, and you will be surprised what you can accomplish.


2) Perseverance -- Stick to the goals. It isn't always easy, but nothing worth doing is.

Do that daily goal first thing in the morning. Or last thing at night, if you work better then. Some days, you won't feel like it. Those are the days it is most important to get it done.

If you do miss a day, don't let it get you down. But don't let it slow you down either. Make up the missed day as soon as you can. The whole is greater than the some of its parts, remember. ;)


3) Persistence -- It's similar to Perseverance, but to me, it's not the same. Remember my personal mantra from Galaxy Quest -- "Never give up. Never surrender." Where perseverance gets the work written, persistence is what gets it out there. Once your work is finished, send it to potential markets, self-publish it, whatever you want to do--but get it in front of people.

Remember that sometimes you don't get a homer on your first at bat. You will get rejected. It's part of the business. Don't let it get you down.

I highly recommend the immersion therapy of sending things out until rejection is just another email. You get to the point where you say, "Oh well." But you send it out again. Sure, there will be some rejections that sting more than others--mourn and go on. Send it out again by the end of the day if you can.


So, there are the Three P's for you. 1) Prioritize; 2) Persevere; 3) Persist.

Go forth and write!

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Unusual Settings in Horror: Making Weird Work for You

Like so many people during this month, I'm in the mood for horror and spooky stories. Don't get me wrong, I love the traditional stuff - haunted houses, cemeteries, empty countrysides, creepy small towns, and desolate, winding roads. Sometimes, though, a change of scene can be nice. I love the thought process that Alien was a haunted house movie set in space. Although we're used to the trope of bizarre things happening in modern settings now, Poltergeist was creepy because the hauntings took place in a brand-new subdivision. Look at the diversity in the haunted house industry: there are mazes set in gothic settings and woodland paths, sure, but let's not forget the evil circuses, bogeyman-infested bayous, sinister swamps, macabre meat-packing plants and minimarts, and any other setting you could think of. If it exists, it can be made creepy, I can tell you that from personal experience. Not only does it give a person pause about what's safe and what isn't (which is a huge purpose of horror), but it also makes you appreciate all that can be done with the genre.

I love working with time periods and places that people may not expect the horror genre to touch. What's great about writing is that what seems obvious to me may not be obvious to Fred down the street, or vice versa. All our different interests and experiences lead to some really different, interesting titles. And if they're creepy as hell, even better.

I grew up near the woods. Either I had friends who lived on a decent amount of land or we were near enough to always be hiking through different state parks, and it wasn't unusual that evening drives took us down winding roads where trees looked like they wanted to tear right through the guardrail and get at the cars that passed them by. While forests are peaceful, there's also something inherently claustrophobic about them, especially at night. It's easy to get lost in the trees, and also very easy to be taken unawares, especially by something stronger or more animalistic than you are.

I'm also a history nerd, and I love tales of pioneer America, people working hard to survive and care for their families, doing what they can to stay just a little bit ahead. Their sense of community, faith, morals, and family could be unshakable. At the end of the day, though, they were at the mercy of nature or whatever else life threw at them.

Naturally, that combination just made me want to mess with fictional pioneers and see what would bring a hearty cast to their knees.

Yeah, I wonder about me, too.

Essentially, it's the same kind of logic that made War of the Worlds so terrifying at the time it came out - what if there was something that you just couldn't fight? Remember, the original wasn't the Tom Cruise fest with modern, easy outs. There was a much bigger gap between alien technology and everyday people. In my own work, I wanted to play with people's natural superstitions, and something that might actually be found in the woods, which can be a dangerous and creepy place, anyway. I've also always been interested in lumber culture because I have weird interests, and the term mooner took me by surprise. It's not used often, and I've not seen it filled out very much, other than to allude to some mythical creature that haunts the woods.

Bingo.

That could be a lot of things, and I suppose the obvious choice would have been werewolves, but I really liked the idea of mooners as vampires. After all, in a time period where you're forced to depend on those around you, what happens when your neighbors aren't exactly trustworthy and there's no one else for miles, and travelling miles could take days?

At the end of the day, setting and time period don't really matter. Our fears are primarily the same, we're still wired the same as humans, and react the same way to fear. The fun comes in the research, when you can find specifics to a time period or place that you can play with in your story, making things even harder for your characters and fun for your readers.

It's a lot to think about and a lot to work with. At the end of the day, I'm happy with how the story turned out, but whether it's effective or not is ultimately up to the readers.

So how bout you? What are your favorite unusual settings or time periods in horror?


Historical Horror/Vampire

Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

October Masks


 

                OCTOBER MASKS

 

With October’s chill frosts I waken and creep, through rustling leaves and sighing winds and the shadows of gnarled tree branches that scratch like long bony fingers at window panes by night.  Sweet, sweet night.

Mist thinly veils the sweet, silver moon, like silky veils over an expectant bride.  What footsteps those, on cobblestone streets in the shadow of sleeping towers, in the cold, pale light of the moon?  Echoes, you say?  So you might pray.

What forms will I take, twisting like mist in the breeze, like the leaves changing as the season shifts, as the border grows thin and moonlight falls on headstones while lovers quietly dream?  Am I a shadow lurking on a distant half-lit street corner, or on the creaking dark porch of an abandoned house you hurry to pass, your heart quickening?  Or, am I closer?  A half-recalled memory cloaked in layered guises that waits just beyond the misty border of your next dream?

Or, am I closer still?  Do I hide in the deepest, blackest depths of the heart of the one you love and trust?  Whose mask must you peel aside to find me?  Friend?  Lover?  Child?  Where do I hide, in the light you think you know, and how far away is the onset of night?

Or, am I closer yet?  Am I that half-glimpsed hunger that hides behind your eyes in the mirror?  Do I come only for others, or do I wait behind everyone’s door, waiting only for you to open it?  Am I coming for you next?  Is yours the mask that next I’ll wear?
 
 

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Truth About Being a Writer

All my life, I wanted to be a writer. I'm not sure why the child me decided that was what I was going to do when I grew up, but it did. Almost from the moment I knew what books were, I wanted to write them.

The magic of words! Putting them together to create stories that other people would find interesting. It would be awesome!

But the reality of the profession is not all glamour and accolades. It's not easy, and writing the book is the least of it. After the book is done, there is finding a publisher. After you find a publisher, or decide to publish it yourself, there is marketing/promotion. There is always something else to do. But don't let that fact scare you away.

If you really want to be a writer, you will do it, no matter what the deterrents--but you need to go into the profession with open eyes.

Where do you start?

Sitting at your notebook, or computer, or typewriter and beginning to put letters together into words. Yes, it is that simple.

But that doesn't mean that the words you come up with will be a masterpiece out of the gate. When you finish your first draft, the party has only just begun. Then you need some real, critical beta readers to give it a look. You need an editor who will tell you what works and what doesn't.

Then, once your work is as polished as it can be (in your opinion), there are query letters or submission guidelines to check out. Submission packets go out. The WAITING begins.

When you are finally accepted, then there is the editorial period with the publisher. After the story is finally COMPLETE, and published, then you will be pushing that book from now on.

But don't despair. There are places to go for help.

Writing: Writer's Village University -- online classes
               Writer's Cafe -- challenges and feedback
               NaNoWriMo -- 50k words in 30 days -- good way to push yourself forward

Submitting: Writer's Market -- online version of the best list of mainstream markets
                    Ralan.com -- best list of speculative markets
                    several Open Call groups on Facebook (just ask to join.)
                   
Promotion: Great challenge for building platform going on this month at Writer's Digest (still time to catch up)
                   CafePress -- marketing promotions
                   VistaPrint -- business cards and promotional items
                    4Imprint --  marketing promotions


Of course, that is only the tip of the iceberg. There are thousands of websites that can help a beginning author get started. Just go into the profession with your eyes wide open. :)

             

Friday, September 25, 2015

#FallIntoHorror with Mocha Memoirs Press!

FallIntoHorror.jpg
Welcome to Fall Into Horror with Mocha Memoirs Press!

Mocha Memoirs Press is celebrating the new Fall season by showcasing their love of horror and the authors who write it.

Mocha Memoirs has a a great catalog of  horror stories guaranteed to set your teeth on edge and make you afraid of all the things that go bump in the night. If fear gives you wicked chills in an oh so delightful way, you'll love the reads Mocha Memoirs Press has for you.

For the next eight days our authors will be sharing with you why they love horror, and you lucky readers will get to ask them questions and share your own thoughts as we all FALL INTO HORROR.

Throughout the week you can comment here on the blog or join us in our Facebook Event here. Comment below and click on the rafflecopter options below for a chance to win the tour prize, a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Continue on with this FALL INTO HORROR. You can join Mocha Memoirs Press authors and share in their love of horror on Facebook. You can also click on the links below to meet other horror authors:


ABOUT MOCHA MEMOIRS PRESS:
MMP_Logo.jpg
Mocha Memoirs Press, LLC is a genre-oriented publishing company. Their vision is to provide an outlet for outstanding speculative and romance stories that often fall beneath the radar of traditional publishing houses. They seek to provide quality stories that invigorate the reader’s literary palette like a good, strong coffee. Like great coffee houses, they offer a variety of flavors. They publish stories in the following genres: science fiction, fantasy, horror, and romance, including the sub-genres of steampunk, cyberpunk, diesel punk, alternate history, weird westerns, and mash-ups.
WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | INSTAGRAM

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In The Cafe... with Rie Sheridan Rose



I love to write poetry. It is like breathing to me. It is my favorite form. I write several poems a week.
I also write a lot of lyrics, and while they are related, they are not identical.

What is the difference between poetry and lyrics? Some lyrics are poetry. Some poetry can be lyrics. The differences can be hard to quantify.

Lyrics are often more rhythmic and repetitive than free verse poetry, though some of the more formal poetic forms use these devices. 

Now, there are some similarities, as well as differences. Good poetry and popular songs both connect with their audience in some manner. 

They create an emotional resonance. They allow their creator to express thoughts, emotions, and ideas on a topic. 

I wrote my first song when I was a little girl. It might not be the most polished song, but I still remember the tune. The lyrics were:

Lollipop Land

Where the rain rains lollipops and lemonade
and the sun is a great big gumdrop
No matter how tall
No matter how small
You're really not there at all...

Where the rain rains bats and three-legged toads
and the sun is a great big werewolf
No matter how tall
No matter how small
You don't want to be there at all...

Where the rain rains lollipops and lemonade
is a very nice place to be,
But otherwise is not, you see...
for otherwise is --

Where the rain rains bats and three-legged toads
and the sun is a great big werewolf
No matter how tall
No matter how small
You don't want to be there at all.

When the gumdrop sun is hot, so hot...
It bursts into little tiny pieces
But a new one always grows
As pretty as a rose
In the land of the gumdrop sun.

Where the rain rains lollipops and lemonade
and the sun is a great big gumdrop...
No matter how tall
No matter how small
You're really not there at all...

When I was in college, I wrote a song to the boy I had a crush on. It was a song of love and longing…and became the song that Stefan sings to Daerci in The Luckless Prince. The tune to this one is much richer and more mature. So are the words:

I tried to write a song for you,
To tell you how I feel—
I tried to write a song for you,
But the words won’t come out real….

I’ve loved you from the very start,
The first day that we met—
I’ve loved you from the very start,
And now I can’t forget….

That to you I’m just another note
In an ever changing theme—
And the hope I bear for love’s return
Is only a passing dream….


Presently, I write songs that range from the silly to the serious. My first “professional” song has been recorded by Marc Gunn several times. I wrote it for him after reading about the subject online. Though I’ve had several songs recorded since, this is still my favorite.


SOUL OF A HARPER


Oh, they say ’tis a hanging
that soon I will be–
My body a-twisting from
yonder oak tree–
For daring to think that a man
could live free…
but though I may die,
’tis a harper I’ll be.
The strings of my harp
will never be stilled
while the green of the shamrock
still grows on the hill
for the music of Ireland
is her strength and her will
and the soul of a harper
no mortal can kill.
Oh, the red-headed queen on her
cold golden throne
fears harper freedom
she never has known
Our bright Gaelic passion
comes through in the tone
so she orders it silenced
and broods all alone.
For a man of the road,
death holds no sting.
‘Tis another adventure–
a wondrous thing.
And I know that my music
will evermore ring
in the hills and the rivers
of each Irish spring.


 Check out some of Rie's work with Mocha Memoirs Press:





Monday, September 14, 2015

New Cover Reveal: An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Why yes!  It's finally here!  After months of planning, reading stories, and basically driving all my

loved ones insane, I can finally reveal the cover for the Sherlock anthology!  It's such an honor for

me, as a Sherlock Holmes fangirl but also because I had the chance to work with one of my favorite

people, Anne Rosario.  Anne is the stupidly talented artist who rendered this beautiful cover.  More

importantly she put up with me and all my harebrained ideas to come up with something that's

unique and absolutely fits the tone of the book.

Coming October 27, 2015!!!

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable,

must be the truth.”

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature.  Conan Doyle’s

inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows,

plays and even songs.  With the rise of the BBC series and the release of all copyrights, the beloved

character has found a new life among modern audiences.

In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and

mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most

terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste

of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses

from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.

Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on.  This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock

Holmes.

Look at this list of stories!  Doesn't it sound fantastic??!!

The Fairy Pool by Lucy Blue

Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost by Katie Magnusson

The Diamond Carter Ghost by Matthew Wilson

The Haunted Branch Line by Tally Johnson

The Arendall Horror by Thomas Olbert

Worlds Collide by S. H. Roddey

Time is Running Out, Watson by Adrian Cross

A Voice in the Blood by Dan Shaurette

The Hunt of the Red Boar by Thomas Fortenberry

The Canaries of Clee Hills Mine by Robert Perret

The Chase by Melissa McArthur

The Adventure of the Missing Trophy by Mark W. Coulter

The Case of the Rising Dead by Trenton Mabey

The Adventure of the Slow Death by Harding McFadden

I know, I know... I'm stalling.  It's called BUILDING THE SUSPENSE.  But now, without further ado...


Want to stay abreast of the developments of this exciting anthology and other MMP news? Join our Newsletter! (scroll down to the bottom)

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

One Haitian Woman's journey...


This month marks the anniversary of the Katrina disaster.  Grassroots International commemorated the event in Boston, MA by hosting Juslene Tyresias, a visiting climate awareness and peasant rights activist leader from the Haitian peasant’s rights organization MPP.  I was privileged to attend.

Speaking through an interpreter, before a packed house, Ms. Tyresias was a potent and charismatic figure.  She gave a stirring and heartfelt speech, outlining the disturbing effects of climate change in Haiti.  A predominantly rural country whose peasant population is dependent on subsistence agriculture, Haiti is on the forefront of the climate crisis.  The island nation has been hit hard and to the core by rapidly escalating heat and declining rainfall.  Damage to farming economies has grown worse as crops whither and cattle die.

In her talk, Ms. Tyresias stressed the importance of education and adaptation to the changing climate through organic farming of heat-resistant crops, development of water-conveying village infrastructures and the planting of trees as a means of counter-acting global warming.  (MPP has planted approximately 30 million trees over the past 30 years.)  She also stressed MPP’s continued pressure on Haiti’s government to develop alternative energy sources, including production of solar panels.  One obstacle to this effort she noted was that poverty forced the rural population into clear-cutting for charcoal production, illustrating a direct link between economic inequality and the climate crisis.

Ms. Tyresias outlined her personal growth within the peasants’ rights movement in Haiti since the MPP’s beginnings in the 70’s and the evolution of the women’s movement within the MPP, now a woman-led organization, the number of women growing from a handful in past decades to over twenty thousand today, half the MPP membership.  An inspirational example of the capacity of human societies to rapidly progress in response to difficult circumstances.

Above all, she stressed the importance of recognizing the climate crisis through a global movement which crosses economic, national, racial and gender boundaries.  She starkly illustrated the need for global solidarity and the common problems of rich and poor countries alike in describing her visit to New Orleans.  She expressed her dismay at the stark misery of income inequality in New Orleans, primarily along racial lines, in a country so much richer and more developed than her own, homelessness continuing in the city even a decade after Katrina.  Here, Ms. Tyresias illustrated the point at which the progressive movements of climate awareness and Black Lives Matter dovetailed  by emphasizing the disproportionately devastating effects of climate change on low-income communities of color, both in the industrialized and developing regions of the world.  She raised the subject of land trusts in communities of color to grow food locally and limit development.  Most striking, though, was her reaction to the growing militarization of the police in America and the growing income inequality and alienation from communities of color.

Ms. Tyresias was followed by Trina Jackson, Executive Director of Grassroots International, and leaders of the Black Lives matter movement, who spoke of recent events in Cleveland, OH, stressing that the Black Lives Matter movement drew its strength not from “black militancy,” but from “black love.”  The importance of grassroots leadership, excluding black “celebrity worship” was mentioned.  The speakers also echoed Juslene Tyresias’ emphasis on inclusivity, including the LGBT community.

I found it inspiring.  And, a reminder that all progressive struggles, especially today, are part of a larger common struggle, not just for justice and positive change, but for something as basic as the long-term survival of the human race.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Writing Characters I Don't Like

I don't always like my characters.

Is that weird? I don't know how it is for other authors, but I tend to go where the story is, and sometimes this leads me to share headspace with some people who are just irritating or downright offensive. I'd like to think this helps me cultivate empathy, but it's also really, really annoying. It can also be difficult to try to wrap my mind around a viewpoint that's far, far removed from mine. If that's part of the story, though, that's my job, so I do my best and let the chips fall where they may.

The Other Man is a title near and dear to my heart, though I can't say I'm overly fond of Andrew, the main character. He's blue collar working man and I've grown up in a family of those, so you'd think that'd give him some leeway with me. Nope. His desire to conform, his hunger for the typical, apple-pie American dream, his constant excuses for why he's the victim in his situation, his condescension of others - even his own family, and his paranoid worry about people who aren't like him...it was hard to write, to say the least, especially knowing what was coming with the ending and how it could potentially be viewed.

 The idea of a man unnerved by his wife liking a particular rock star actually came from personal experience - I've known a few people who have actually had to end relationships because their significant others didn't agree with their taste in something or other. One in particular actually broke up with their significant other because of a singer they'd never met, never interacted with, but happened to like a lot. It wasn't to the point of being unhealthy of obsessive, but their partner made a constant deal about feeling like they were living with the singer and didn't measure up. I showed my friend the manuscript before I ever considered publishing it, and thankfully they have a sense of humor and loved it, even if the overall situation was far different than theirs. Still, what the ever-lovin' heck have we come to if we have to bully a person over their musical tastes? It's still a surreal thought to me.

 I've had the experience where I felt like I was being changed or encouraged to change so the other person would be more comfortable, to the point where I just didn't feel like myself anymore. It's a horrible feeling, one I never want to revisit. I really wanted to play with this overall idea, but I also didn't want to make it a gag or a gimmick or some punchline at the end. There is a twist, but hopefully the reveal is  a release of tension and a moment of epiphany and not a gimmick. I'd hate for it to be viewed that way, because at the end of the day, I think we all hide parts of ourselves. Andrew just does it in a very vehement, spiteful way.

Maybe he irritates me because I can understand being disillusioned. You know how it is, we're filled with all these notions as kids to the point we think we can conquer the world as teens, and then we have the rug pulled out from under us. Maybe my discomfort is that I have to acknowledge that I get Andrew's general frustration, even if I don't agree with his motives. I think that helps, though, it keeps him entitled but not a complete monster, or at least hopefully helps the reader look at him with disappointment rather than all-out hatred. He's a good talking point for a character: at what point do we have to get over our life frustrations and try to do the best we can, to what point do we have a right to be disenchanted with how our lives have gone?

His family doesn't make it easy on him, mind you. Granted, they're not terrible, but young kids are weird, and I may have based some of their behavior off mine as a kidlet to make things extra weird. You're welcome. His wife is Ivy League but opted to be a stay-at-home mom, a decision he never quite stopped resenting, because his own background is somewhat less in his eyes. It's an interesting dichotomy, he sees her as above him, worries about what secrets she may harbor, but also knows how to press her buttons, even though everything seems to press his. He's interesting, Andrew. He's irritating and I disagree with his fatalistic attitude, his black-and-white clear cut view of the world, his judgment of people. I disagree with him and he angers me at times....but oddly, I'm glad I wrote him, because he's also, hopefully, a character that will leave people thinking and talking.  If he got me thinking about how I could be a better person and how I can better channel my frustrations, hopefully he can do the same for others. Plus, his kids are hilarious and amazing, so there's got to be some potential in him somewhere.


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