Wednesday, March 28, 2012

From the Editing Trenches

For the past month I've been knee-deep in the editing trenches making revisions to my middle grade book coming out in August with MuseItUp Publishing, ANIMAL ANDY. This is the first time I've worked with an editor from a publisher, and it's been an invaluable experience.

I went into it knowing the process wasn't going to be easy, knowing I'd have to change things about the story, including things I liked, but I wanted to keep an open mind and was enthusiastic about it. I received the initial email from my editor and she was excited as well.

When the first round of comments came back, it was difficult to sort through all the red text! I took a deep breath, and approached it one page at a time. I sent back the revisions and was proud of myself. It didn't seem too bad. I asked my editor if we were going to go through a second round of edits. She said, no, we'll probably do about five rounds of edits. WHAT?!

After receiving her second set of comments, I understood why. The first round was more of a read-through, cleaning up language, etc. The second round dove much deeper, looking at specific parts of the story, character, etc. That's when the frustration set in. I happened to vent to a friend of mine who is a techincal editor, and she gave me a very good perspective on the situation. She pointed out that editors are not "your friend." They are there to make your product the best it can be. And she's right!

I took another deep breath, and the rest of my revisions for round two went much smoother. I looked at my editor's comments through her eyes and realized she is doing a great job--afterall, she's the expert! At the end of this process, I will have a  much better book and learned so much along the way that will help me as I write future books. And, I have a feeling I'll gain a friend in the end, too.

I'd love to hear about your experiences working with editors on the revisions process!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Meet Paranormal Romance Author Mike Arsuaga

If you're looking for a little spice and excitement in your reading life, then you should check out The Tenth Legion, an erotic paranormal romance written by my guest today, Mike Arsuaga. Welcome, Mike!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became an author.

I spent a career in the US Navy Submarine force and with the Department of Homeland Security. I’ve been writing on and off since the fifth grade. When I retired completely in the fall of 2007 I went back to writing because the new fall TV season was so bad. I cast about for a genre. By chance I entered a contest for erotic short stories. My entry, “The Girl in the Library” was well received. After some encouragement I grew it into “Subspecies”, the first installment of my Subspecies series, now five books long.

What is one of your favorite books and why?

If you’re asking about books by other authors, I’d go with “1984”. If you’re speaking of my books, I’d choose “The Tenth Legion”, book four in the Subspecies series.

What inspired you to write this book?

I’d already written three books on the evolution of the Subspecies (vampires and lycans) and the challenges they faced over three generations. Originally I envisioned this as a spin-off from the main series. The story is set in the beginning of the 22nd century. The main character is a tough little lycan cop named Lorna Winters, inspired by the Official Apple of my Eye, granddaughter Larrna. I wanted to see if I could write from the POV of a feisty female. My wife Cynthia thinks “The Tenth Legion” is the best of the five books.

How would you describe your writing process?

First the concept followed by broad brush strokes of general plot and character formation. After that, all seat of the pants.

How have you marketed your book?

By blogging, advertising through social networks like Facebook, and through Yahoo


What advice would you give to other authors?

Don’t be discouraged by rejections and when submitting, follow the publisher/agent instructions to the letter.

Please provide a favorite excerpt from your book.

Setting the scene:

 Karla May and Thomas White, hybrid siblings of Vampire Ed White. CEO of Subspecies, Inc. arrive to convince the police to release personal documents of family members being held as evidence in one of Lorna’s cases. At her suggestion the party, accompanied by the Assistant Chief of Police, goes to the evidence locker to demonstrate the documents are secure.

The Scene Unfolds:

The floor above the morgue contained the evidence room. In an age of utility rationing, they were the only completely air-conditioned floors in the building. When the party approached with Lorna in the lead, a bored, sleepy little clerk raised her eyes from a crossword puzzle. She sat on a battered, wooden folding chair behind a steel Dutch door; metal bars composed the other half. Behind her stretched a vast, rambling space of loaded metal shelves. A musty odor of old paper and, to Lorna’s lycan senses, small animal droppings, seeped around the clerk from the room in the rear.

“As you can see, the door is steel, set in a reinforced concrete wall,” Lorna pointed out.

Upon recognizing the Assistant Chief from his uniform brass, the clerk’s mouth dropped. Her eyes acquired an appearance of apoplectic shock. Lorna knew in the drab, quiet world of evidence, with only the inanimate for company, Assistant Chiefs existed as mythological entities, whose appearance portended events like saints coming down from Heaven, cattle giving birth to monsters, or the sun reversing its direction in the sky.

“We need to see some evidence that was recently logged in.” Lorna attempted to break the clerk’s comatose rigidity. Then she added, “It works better if you let us in.”

Her frantic expression passed from Lorna to the Assistant Chief, returning to settle on Lorna.

“Yes. Yes. Of course.”

“Check IDs first.”

The clerk gave a quick thumbs up. In her excitement she checked both police IDs about four times. Lorna signed in the siblings under her badge number.

“We’re here to inspect the Fargo Bank evidence,” Lorna said to the clerk.

Relaxing in the face of receiving a request within her comfort zone, she brightened. “Row twelve, section six,” she said in the monotone of the safe, daily routine where ethereal entities didn’t intrude.

“Got it, thanks.” Lorna pulled a slip of paper from a purse side pocket. She studied the numbers for a second and put it back.

“There it is.” Assistant Chief Durning pointed to a large box, reaching for it. “What the hell?” he queried in confusion as he effortlessly hefted the unexpectedly light box to the floor. The small assemblage observed the empty container with various emotions, none being pleasant.

The siblings inhaled deeply in shock, turning baleful, demanding faces toward the Assistant Chief. He appeared to Lorna at the moment, as if the ground opening up and swallowing him whole held more appeal than facing the consequences of the empty container.

“Wait,” Lorna said. “What you’re seeking is actually over here.” Walking to a box on the bottom shelf of the next steel rack, she slid it out until it hit the floor with a heavy clunk. Removing the cover revealed, to everyone’s general relief, the documents stacked neatly in sealed plastic bags.

“I don’t understand,” Thomas said.

“It’s an old police trick. The officer in charge stores evidence in a secret location if he or she feels there’s a chance of tampering or theft. I had one of my most trusted detectives place documents in a location only we knew. I took this step after word began circulating about the value of this packet.” Addressing the siblings, she continued, “I’m disappointed to say you were correct to doubt the security of our evidence room. In the rifled box, my detective and I placed blank paper in opaque plastic bags of the approximate weight of your papers. The thief wouldn’t know he had the wrong items until he got to some place he believed safe, outside the police building, and opened one of them.”

Thomas nodded approvingly. “Very clever. Excellent work, Lieutenant Winters,” he said, with a quick, frosty-eyed wink.

“I’m convinced more than ever our property must be returned,” Karla added. “Your most guarded places are insecure.”

“I’m as outraged by the compromise as you are and I’ll launch a full investigation as soon as I return to my office, but in order to preserve your property as evidence, I have a solution that might work,” said the Assistant Chief. “Suppose we move your documents to a safe with a combination known only by highly trusted personnel?”

The twins drew off by themselves, not surprisingly, beyond the range even of Lorna’s lycan hearing. Lorna and the Assistant Chief waited in concerned silence while a spirited, at times contentious, conversation ensued between Karla and her brother. After a few moments, the pair apparently reached some kind of agreement. Turning briskly, they returned to earshot. “Will the safe be in a protected environment to prevent deterioration?” asked Karla.

“It can be arranged.”

“In an office where someone is present twenty-four hours a day?”

“We can do that too.”

“May we provide a representative to witness the transfer?”

“Of course.”

Karla conferred again with Thomas. Breaking their huddle, Thomas said, “We agree to your plan. There is one more thing.”

The Assistant Chief, relieved to put the problem amicably to bed, quickly answered. “Yes, anything.”

Thomas pointed at Lorna. “She’s the only one who’ll have the safe combination.”

Where can readers find you and your book?

From MuseItUp Publishing click here

To view the book trailer click here

Mike Arsuaga, author of "Subspecies, Inc." Best Erotic Book for 2011 on the Preditors & Editors Reader's Poll. The sequel "Children of Subspecies" won Best Cover. Both are continuations of award winning "Subspecies" about the deep love between two special beings as they shepherd lycans and vampires (The Subspecies) to their destiny within Creation. Coming soon, episodes four and five, "The Tenth Legion" in February and "Lagrange Point" in May.

Check out the full synopsis and excerpts of all stories at or 

Thank you, Mike! I enjoyed hosting you today!

--KSR Writer

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Musings from the Mind of Author Pat Dale

Today author Pat Dale is back as a guest blogger with some interesting insights into the mind of the fiction author. Welcome back, Pat!

What do you write?
I write a variety of genres; romance, romantic suspense, sagas, psychological suspense, but there’s a hint of romance in almost everything I write.
Why do you choose the genres you do?
I’ve never figured that out. My first effort was a mainstream novel that went on and on. It involved a lonely man’s quest for a proper companion and spoke of romance, though larger themes such as life and death got in the way of the romantic side of the story. After that, I wrote a group of funny romances, a couple of romantic suspense novels, and a smattering of non-romance books. Now I’m concentrating on mysteries but they also have that hint of romance in them. Can’t get away from it! LOL
What made you first want to be a writer?
I started writing while in college, but my music got in the way and I didn’t heed my English Profs who told me I should be a fiction author. Forty years later, I slowed down a bit and smelled the coffee. I’d written the first fifty or sixty pages of half a dozen novels over the years but never finished any of them. Then fifteen years ago, I started writing seriously and haven’t stopped yet. Go figure…
What inspires you?
A beautiful sunrise or sunset. A rainy day when the water drops spatter over the sidewalk. A girl’s smile. A boy’s absentminded shuffle down the street. You name it and I get inspiration from it.
What kicks the brain into gear when you have writer’s block?
Writer’s block usually occurs when I’ve written myself into a corner and it doesn’t play forward. If I stop and wait, I’ll get back on track. Sometimes I have to go to something else and get my mind totally off what I’ve been working on. Often, it’s my dips in mood that I mistake for writer’s block. I have very high highs and very low lows, and that affects my work more than anything else. I hate the lows but it’s a part of my system and allows me to have those highs where everything comes together like some kind of magic.
Who is your favorite character you have created?
My favorite female character is Molly Dennison, from that first book, yet to be published. She epitomizes my idea of an admirable heroine, brought to a sorry position by factors beyond her control, yet she lets nothing or nobody hold her down. Literally an Unsinkable Molly Brown.
My favorite male character is Daniel Quinn, a detective I’m still polishing for the mysteries in my new St. Louis Blues series, the first of which (TOCCATA) will be released in May. He’s a lovable rogue with disparate talents for jazz and detecting, along with an uncanny ability to attract women who can’t resist his charm.
Is there any genre you want to try, but haven’t yet?
Just one. I’ve always wanted to write western stories, ala Zane Grey. Maybe some day, but at my age it’ll have to be soon. LOL
What do you hope readers will take away from your stories?
A sense of enjoyment and satisfaction from a story well told.
What’s your latest news and do you have anything releasing soon?
Good news; I’m still alive and kicking. On a more serious note, I have a suspense saga, set in the eastern Missouri Ozarks that came out in January. The Evil Within is definitely not romance and contains vicious scenes, not for the faint of heart, including violent rape. The story of a soldier back from war to recuperate from PTSD, hoping to find peace and quiet in his little home town. Instead, he finds the same evil in his town, his family, and in his own heart that he’d experienced in Iraq.
Where can we find you on the web?
My website is: but it’s a bit long in the tooth, due for a makeover very soon.
I have a new website: that will be up and running by the middle of the year. It will be dedicated to mystery and non-romance writing.
I also have an ongoing blog at: where I opine on various topics on a more or less regular basis.
I invite all of you to drop by any of the sites to see where my dysfunctional brain has taken me recently.
Ah, who knows the idiosyncrasies of the human mind?
Thanks, Pat! It's great to find out what makes an author tick and pick up a few helpful hints along the way!
--KSR Writer

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Meet MuseItUp Author Madeleine McLaughlin

If you're looking for a quick read and like a little dark fiction, check out Madeleine McLaughlin's short story, The Mountain City Broznes. She is my guest today and a fellow MuseItUp author. Welcome, Madeleine!

Tell us a bit about your background and how you became a writer.

I wrote a lot of poems when I was a child and I made books of them. My father kept those books long after I'd forgotten them but that was my first writing. I did creative writing all through school, sometimes because I made up 'facts' for reports!

In grade twelve I wrote a science fiction story about a computer who gets 'sick' and the teacher said it was the best short story she'd seen from a student. I was pumped and tried to get it published professionally, but they didn't take it.

After that, I didn't write much until I was in my thirties although I always kept journal notes. I took a correspondence course, which is where I began The Mountain City Bronzes and after that kept writing with an eye to publishing 'some day'.

My personal bio starts in Thunder Bay, Ontario, where I was born, but I grew up in White Rock, BC. I loved going to the beach and loved animals. I wanted to have a monkey, but also did a lot of watching TV. I am a college graduate in Travel and Tourism.

What is one of your favorite books?

A few years ago, I would have said Wuthering Heights (it's where I got my quirky punctuation) but since then I've read This Thing of Darkness by Harry Thompson. This book blows me away! It's my new favorite.

What inspired you to write the book?

I used to be a sculptor and I thought I would like one as a character--it's that easy.

How would you describe your writing process?

When I first began I was diligent in doing it every day. I still try to but I have to admit that personal troubles, death, cancer etc. have impacted me. It's not pretty but it is what it is. When I do write it's like a loop, I write the start then continue as I get the start critiqued. After I think about the crits and what to do I improve the whole of the first part and then keep the suggestions for the second part and the third part and so on--like a loop always going to the start and making sure the middle agrees.

How have you marketed your book?

I put up the link from MuseItUp Publishing website so they could go right there and buy. I’m also on Twitter and Linkedin. I printed bookmarks and gave them out at the Muse Retreat in Montreal last November. I've left some in my local library and I sent some to my step-mom to give out in BC. I printed up some posters and put them up on poster collars. And since I've an interest in genealogy, I am on a social media website called KILTR. They have groups called Bookworms and Literature where I put links up and then of course my blog and anyone who wants to do an interview, I'm interested.

What advice would you give to other writers?

Simple. Never give up your dreams. If you find you can't apply yourself right now, keep the dream until you can and when you can, keep honing your skills. Find out who you are (your voice, outlook) and be true to it.

Please provide an excerpt from your book.

The jail was a great refuge in June, but even in the winter, I found it pleasant to play in. There was so much fun imagining the structure when it was full, back in the gold rush. I could almost hear the walls and floors resounding to the voices of the thousands of lawless men that lived back then. In the large, empty vastness of our jail, I loved pretending I needed to find escape routes.

One day after tromping through the halls for an hour, I found a locked door.

Why is it shut tight?  What is behind that door?

Where can readers find your book?

I love the excerpt! This book has received some great reviews, too. Thanks for being here today, Madeleine!

--KSR Writer