Monday, October 31, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Flower Child meets a bit o' sunshine

It's the end of the month. The Flower Child Blog Tour is almost done, and Ruthi Cox is celebrating my book with a wonderful review on her blog, Thank you for reading, Ruthi--especially thank you for reading an ebook--and thank you for such a lovely touching review.

While you're on Ruthi's blog, don't forget to look at some of her lovely poetic creations and check out her amazing Squidoo lenses

Ruth Cox believes "a bit o' sunshine can always be found peekin' out o' the clouds."  I've certainly enjoyed the sunshine of everyone's encouragement during this blog tour. Thank you for following and supporting me, and I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Still to come: YES! THERE's MORE!

Anjuelle Floyd will interview me on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 on her radio show

You can find the interview at

Call in time is 12 Noon PT, 1pm MT, 2pm CT, and 3pm ET.

  and the call-in number is: (347) 215-7740.

If you want to join in with questions or comments, you can write something in the comment section on the show page (above) or phone in on the day and talk to me.
Looking forward to meeting you there! And thank you Anjuelle!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Where it all began

Yes, really. This is where it all began, with a cup of tea and a wonderful author treating me as if my writing really mattered... Visit Jane Kirpatrick's very appropriately named Words of Encouragement blog at to find out more.

I love Jane Kirkpatrick's books (see my review of The Daughter's Walk). I love Jane's talks (see my report on her visit to Willamette Writers). I love the way she lifts people up--historical people whose stories she tells, and contemporary people who she leads so gently into stories. I love how her novels take well-researched history and bring it to meaningful life, with women empowered and genuine lessons learned. And I love my favorite quote from her talk--History tells us what happened and when, but stories tell us why.

At the end of the Willamette Writers talk, back in 2008, Jane Kirkpatrick encouraged aspiring authors in her audience to think of a clock face. Twelve o'clock represents really smart; three is kind of smart; six, not so smart; and nine is really rather stupid. Then ask yourself, what's 11:59, and can anyone tell the difference between that and 12? Keep writing, she said, so I did.

Thank you Jane. And yes, this is where it all began, with words of encouragement and a cup of tea.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

BLOG TOUR: That first book...

Today my Flower Child blog tour stops at Anne Petzer's blog, celebrating the end of Anne's first blog month with a post about "my first book." Of course, my first problem was working out which book to write about. Does that pile of paper, hand-written in multi-colored biro and tied up with string in a cardboard box count? Go to and find out.

While you're there, you might want to read some of Anne's other posts--especially if you like cats.

(These links are for you Mum! I hope they work.)

Anne Petzer is the author of the Zvonek 8 series, Cat on Thin Ice, Cat Among the Pigeons, Mau-ow, Return of the Rats, and The Miracle of the Carp, available in two volumes from Gypsy Shadow: With Christmas coming, these sound like purr-fect treats for cat-lovers.

Friday, October 28, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Kimberly Brock asks some great questions

Flower Child's blog tour visits Kimberly Brock's blog today. Kimberly's review of Flower Child brought tears to my eyes--thank you Kimberly! She's interviewed me too, and her interview questions certainly made me think:

Later today (6pm PT), I hope to meet you for a live chat on I don't have the direct link yet, but I'll post it as soon as I get it. The chat is advertized here:

Kimberly Brock is the author of The River Witch, a women’s fiction novel to be released by Bell Bridge Books in late May 2012. She also writes contemporary gothic novels with elements of romance, suspense and historical adventure.

Her first publication, a short story in Summer in Mossy Creek, is part of an anthology published in mass market by Berkley Books.  She has published in parenting magazines and won numerous awards, most notably first place in the Low Country Romance Writer’s Jasmine Contest and the Georgia Romance Writer’s Maggie Award for Single Title Fiction. She lives with her husband of fifteen years and their three children, north of Atlanta where she is working on her next novel.

Meanwhile she runs a great blog--be sure to visit some of her older posts to find more authors and more fascinating interviews.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Not all ghosts are scary

Okay, it's nearly Halloween. But this isn't a scary ghost story, and neither is Flower Child. I'm visiting Tracey Pacelli's Little Red Writer blog today with a post on paranormal experiences. I hope you'll like it--I promise, not a single fright in sight. Click the link to find the post at

While you're clicking links, you might like to check out Gail Lewis's insightful review of Flower Child on

and Anjuelle Floyd's interview with me at 

Tracey Pacelli's latest Young Adult novel, Time Warped has just come out from Gypsy Shadow (in print and ebook form) and looks like a truly intriguing tale: Here's the blurb...

Time Warped by Tracey L. Pacelli 
In her bible-thumping town, Lanie Landry is a teen misfit without a cause. After a tragic accident that kills her adopted mother, Lanie escapes from the hospital where she was admitted for psychological observation. At a service station she accepts shelter from a kindly old woman. The next morning she awakens to find herself in the violent ward of an insane asylum in 1969. How can she escape this horrible nightmare? Remarkably, in the most awful of all places, Lanie finds her biological mother and falls in love with a mysterious inmate.

Visit to find out more--Lanie certainly sounds like an interesting character.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Excerpt, Book covers, and Editing, Oh my!

There's a lovely review of Flower Child on Summit Book Reviews today:, plus a 100-word excerpt on Ruth Cox's blog . Thank you Gail and Ruthi!

Meanwhile I'm putting Divide by Zero on a diet before sending the manuscript to my editor at Stonegarden. The novel comes out next July and already has a gorgeous cover from Peter Joseph Swanson (click on the link to see Peter's excellent books and book covers! I'm totally amazed that he's done a cover for me!)

A friend asked what diet I was feeding my novel on, so here goes:
  1. First I re-read the manuscript, looking for obvious duplication: "She put the cup down, laying it gently on the table" becomes "She placed the cup gently on the table." (4 words removed.)
  2. Then I used my word processor to find every " And ". Admittedly this doesn't find "and" but it successfully avoids "hand" and "grand" so it's not quite so overwhelming. Some of the pages looked awfully yellow with their "And "s highlighted, but they're much whiter now.
  3. Next find " But "
  4. And "that"
  5. And "was"
  6. And "were"
  7. And "Then"
  8. And "So "
  9. And "Meanwhile" too.
  10. Meanwhile I found and removed lots more ands and buts, shortened sentences, and deleted unnecessary adjectives and adverbs in passing ("dark night" and "crept slowly" for example). I'm rereading (again) on a quest for repeated words ("she said" "he said") and hope to finish, maybe, next weekend.
4,000 words removed so far--it's a long slow process, but I hope it'll read a lot better when I'm done. So that's my novel diet.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BLOG TOUR: and another Flower Child review!

Thank you so much to Fran Lewis for posting reviews of Flower Child around the internet today. The Flower Child Blog Tour is visiting Facebook today, where Fran has given Flower Child five special angels! I hope you'll go over there and see.

(If you can't get to facebook, trye to read the review on Amazon.)

Fran Lewis is a prolific book reviewer at Hot Drink, Fireplace, Reviews that Sizzle ( She's also the author of, amongst others, the Bertha books--My name is Bertha, and Bertha Speaks Out--hopeful stories for all children living with differences that so easily make them victims; and of Memories are Precious, and Because we Care, based on her experiences as caregiver to someone with Alzheimers. Plus she's a wonderful supporter of her fellow authors.

Thank you Fran for reading and reviewing Flower Child.

Fran Lewis:

Monday, October 24, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Flower Child has another review!

Christine Amsden, author of the Immortality Virus (reviewed here on gather), read Flower Child recently and has posted a book review and interview with me on her blog, Thank you so much for making me so welcome Christine. It was nice talking to you.

Meanwhile, I've been reading another Christine Amsden book, A Touch of Fate--see below for book reviews. (Just for reference, I loved it!) So... please visit Christine's blog, and come back later today for book reviews on mine.

This week's book reviews (with links to longer reviews on gather, and coffee recommendations for readers)...

Starting, of course, with Christine Amsden's Touch of Fate; a novel that combines mystery, detective work, lives gone wrong and lives beginning to go write, plus intriguing touches of faith and fate, this one's a really pleasing and satisfying read. Enjoy with a 3-star well-balanced, full-flavored coffee.

Heading further into the realms of sci-fi, but still firmly grounded in real-world issues, is P.I. Barrington's Isadora Daystar. A drug-addicted prostitute/assassin finds she has more humanity left in her than she imagined after her latest "hit" goes wrong. Once it gains direction her life almost threatens to make sense, and the story resolves itself wonderfully. You might want a 5-star bold dark coffee to drink with this dark tale.

Isadora's a soldier in a future galaxy, but Melissa Foster's Come Back to Me deals with those affected by war in our present times. Tess's husband goes to Iraq as a photographer. She learns she's pregnant just before she gets the news that he's died, and the novel follows the twin tales of a man struggling to return to his wife and a woman struggling to come to terms with his death. Iraqi and American concerns and characters are drawn with equal skill, making this a really intriguing novel for our times. Read with a 4-start elegant complex coffee. (And look out for Melissa Foster's book tour too.)

Another novel of love and loss is Beyond the Quiet by Brenda Hill. Finding the past wasn't quite as she imagined after losing her husband, Lisa struggles to rebuild her life and memories and restore lost relationships. A tough page-turner with a good ending, this is one to read with a 5-star intense cup of coffee.

Chocolicious, by Geraldine Solon, tells of another woman facing loss and hoping to rebuild her life. Chocolate plays a part, as the title suggests, though it takes a while to appear. Enjoy this one with a 2-star lively coffee as the story springs from disaster to disaster to hope.

Finally two non-fiction books. I don't usually review this type of book, but, after all, I am dreaming of earning my living as a writer, so perhaps some books on the world of business and creative decision-making wouldn't go amiss.

Dilemmas, Dilemmas, by Julie Garland McLellan,is  fascinating tour of board-room problems, from interpersonal to legal to moral and more. It's nicely laid out with a table of cases at the start, and well-presented with answers from three different experts in each case. Plus readers are invited to comment and consider the answers to determine what seems best to them, and why. Drink some 1-star mild crisp coffee with this--don't want too much caffeine while solving dilemmas.

Creatively Ever After, by Alicia Arnold, uses the fairy-tale story of Jack and Jill to teach creative problem-solving--just how will they learn to get water without breaking crowns? It's an interesting approach teaching good lessons with just enough whimsy to maybe keep students' ready to learn. Another one for that 1-star mild crisp coffee to keep the brain actively seeking solutions.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Meet Flickertail

Author Mary Russel is interviewing Angela from Flower Child today at Meanwhile, Mary's dear friend and character, Flickertail, has kindly agreed to let me interview him here. Flickertail stars in some wonderful children's stories filled with mystery, whimsy and word-play--don't forget to look for excerpts on Mary's blog. And, in case you're wondering, Flickertail's a llama.

So, hello Flickertail--you've got to tell us, how did you get your name? I have a white tail, while the rest of me is mostly a reddish brown. When I run, my tail flicks and it’s the most outstanding part of me.

And your friend Paint? Where did Paint's name come from? She’s a Painted Horse.

Where did Paint come from? How did you meet? Paint lives in Texas. We met online through Mary, my owner and Norma, Paint’s owner. They had established an internet friendship on

So you started having adventures and solving mysteries together. Why? That was actually another friend’s idea. Mary had been writing mystery stories to entertain her friends and she had also posted some photos of me when William suggested that she should write stories about me as a Private Eye. Later he suggested that I team up with Paint.

What's the most interesting place you've ever been to? Well we’ve been to Scotland, Ireland, and Bolivia and I’ve loved them all but I’d have to say Bolivia because I was reunited with my llama mama there. I also met another member of my family that I didn’t even know about. I think Paint would say Scotland though. She loves ghosts and the history of Scotland.

What's the furthest you've ever traveled together? Bolivia.

What's the kindest thing Paint ever did for you? She’s done so many kind things but helping me to find my mother would have to be at the top of my list.

And what's the kindest thing you ever did for Paint? I gave up a game I used to play on Facebook, when I realized it was making her unhappy. I was consumed by it to the point where our friendship and detective business were suffering.

Can you tell us a bit about the people and animals you live with? Mary and Tom are the humans and they live in the house with two dogs that they treat like babies. But I like the dogs anyway. The barnyard animals are usually hard to find when there is any cleaning to be done. For the most part though they are helpful, cooperative, and fun to be around. They tease each other but when the chips are down they are all loyal friends. We don’t see Tom much. He works a lot. Mary spends quite a bit of time in the barn with us. She also spends a lot of her time writing about us. She’s a bit scatterbrained at times and frequently needs our help. She loves all of her animals, treats us well, and we take good care of her.

And Mary, when she writes your stories, d'you think she gets things right? She usually listens to us when we tell her what we want her to say. Paint thinks Mary should write about her more but Paint’s a bit of a diva even though she has a heart of gold. 

Does she listen to you if you tell her to change something? Of course. She recognizes who the real talent is and she knows the book wouldn’t be half as good if she didn’t listen to us. Ha ha ha. 

D'you have any other human friends besides Mary? All of the neighbors and their children. Mostly all of the people we meet.  And I hope all of our readers are our friends.

Is there anything else you really want us to know? Our philosophy. We are peace lovers and peace keepers who believe in helping our friends whenever and however we can. Since we don’t have any money, we often have to be pretty creative to do that but that’s all part of the fun of Flickertail & Paint, Barnyard Sleuths.

You can find Flickertail and Paint and other books at Mary's bookstore or on Amazon, etc.

Thank you for hosting me, Mary. And thank you Flickertail for answering my questions.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Meet the girl who loved Rudolph

The Flower Child blog tour is stopping at Mary Russel's blog today answering a question on what genres I write in. I hope you'll wander over there and learn where Flower Child fits in.

Meanwhile Elizabeth, from Mary Russel's novel Rudolph, A child's love story, has agreed to join me here for an interview. I hope you'll enjoy meeting her as much as I have.

How old are you Elizabeth? I'd be 63 now if Mary hadn't killed me off in my late 40s.

Can you tell my readers what you look like--what you see when you look in a mirror? In my mirror, a fat, gray haired woman. In my mind, I see a woman who has discovered that I am a survivor, a woman who has seen enough of life to be able to feel for others.

Do you have lots of friends? No, I have a few very close friends.

What do people say about you--to your face? My closest friend says I am talented and she admires what I have accomplished. On the other hand she also tells me I have no self-confidence and that I am too withdrawn.  Behind your back? What do you think they're saying about you? Probably nothing I would want to hear.

What do people like about you? That I’m strong, compassionate, and helpful. 

Do you want to be liked? Too much I think. Before I learned to like myself, I often sacrificed my identity to become what I thought others wanted me to be so they would like me. That was before I learned that it is more important that I like me and I couldn’t do that if I wasn’t being me.

What do you like about yourself? That my past has made me strong, adaptable, and caring.

Okay, can you tell us your biggest secret? I used to dream that I killed my first foster parents. They made me so angry when they would accuse me of things I didn’t do and then would not let me defend myself.  It’s like they were determined to believe the worst of me.

What's the worst lie you've ever told--the worst you'll admit to I mean? Strangely my lies, are more lies of omission than actually expressed. I let people assume certain things and I don’t bother to correct their assumptions.

What's the hardest thing you've ever done? To forgive, accept, and embrace my past.

Was it worth it d'you think? Oh most definitely! I had to in order to move forward.

Are you happy now? Happier

D'you think you will be happy, as years go by? Each day it gets easier to accept that I am worthy of happiness, so yes.

Is there something else you'd really like us to know? I hope my story as told in Rudolph, a Child’s Love Story will help others who are struggling with acceptance learn how to accept themselves. We all want and need others to love us but we can never find true peace and happiness until we love ourselves. 

 How very true, Elizabeth. Thank you for letting me interview you.

If you want to know more about Elizabeth, you can find Mary's book on Amazon or in Mary's bookstore at Don't forget to look at Mary's other books while you're there, the Sleuth and Scribe teen-safe mysteries, plus Flickertail and Paint of course (see tomorrow's post!).

And thank you Mary for hosting Flower Child on your blog today. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

BLOG TOUR: What's your story about?

Have you ever told someone you’re a “wannabe writer,” or worse, that you don’t really have a job? Friends would say to me, “You write, so you’re a writer,” but it never seemed that simple when it came to answering the question, “What do you do?” 

Find out how I answered this and the follow-up question, what's your story about? on Sutton Fox's blog today where Flower Child makes its next tour stop

Sutton Fox's Christmas Holly is a 2012 EPIC awards finalist (congratulations Sutton!), and her latest Christmas book has just come out from Gypsy Shadow, so if you're looking for an intriguing seasonal romance, you might want to look it up. Here's a blurb to pique your interest:

Glory Dawson needs to catch a break. Thanks to the economic downturn, she’s lost her job, her home, and her child. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, they get weird. A crazy grandmother, muggers, heirlooms, and armor. Armor? Just what a girl needs to save the day.

Christian Knight has spent his life trying to make sense of his family’s patriarchal lore. In the process, he’s built a dynasty. It’s given him everything. And nothing. Despite his sibling’s best efforts, he still spends every Christmas, and most of his life, alone. 

In the search for true love, do two kindred souls look to the future, or the past?

On twitter – suttonfox

Thank you for hosting me, Sutton, and I hope Christmas Knight finds many readers before Christmas night.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

BLOG TOUR: I love my book cover

Have you ever wondered how Flower Child got such a lovely cover, or how books get their covers in general? I've written a post about my Gypsy Shadow book covers for Paula Mitchell; you'll find it on the Community Book Stop today at There's a review of Flower Child too at , and lots of other good books highlighted there, so don't forget to take a tour. Hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, I've been reading and editing. The edits are going pretty well I think--I've searched for "and" and "but" throughout my novel, tidied a few "that"s and ""s, and cut the word-count by two thousand. It feels like an achievement.  Tomorrow I'll start the hunt for "was" "so" "meanwhile" "then" and other much overused words.>

Today there's laundry, leaves, food-shopping and housework calling me. If there's time afterwards I'll write some book reviews...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Memories, and Where it all started

Lyn Hywela has kindly invited me to her blog today. If you go to you'll find my post on how memories inspired the writing of Flower Child. You'll also find the author who indirectly led me to  Gypsy Shadow Publishing.

I was a beginning writer, dreaming of being published, slowly collecting that drawer-full of rejections, and wondering if I'd ever make it. I'd scarcely even heard of ebooks and had no intention of writing one. But I'd learned somewhere that to make it, these days, you need an internet presence. I started a blog and visited other blogs, leaving occasional comments, and slowly making friends. Finding my comment on Lyn's blog won me an ebook was a very nice surprise, especially since the ebook was a wonderful fantasy by Aubrie Dionne. After reading the ebook I visited the publisher's website where I found an intriguing competition... and the rest is history, with my most recent ebook released from Gypsy Shadow being my beloved Flower Child.

It feels kind of appropriate that Flower Child's tour is now visiting Lyn's blog. Maybe someone will read the post (read the book even?) then visit the publisher and...

Thank you Lyn, for inspiring and directing and hosting me!

Hywela Lyn is the author of StarquestChildren of the Mist and Dancing with Fate, all available from

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

BLOG TOUR: Name that character, with Dawn Colclasure

Author Dawn Colclasure is hosting my Flower Child Blog Tour today with a post on the parallel joys of math and writing Meanwhile I'm delighted to host Dawn here in yet another intersecting blog tour.

About the author: 
Dawn Colclasure is a writer who lives in Oregon. Her articles, essays, poems and short stories have appeared in several newspapers, anthologies, magazines and E-zines. She is the author of seven books, among them BURNING THE MIDNIGHT OIL: How We Survive as Writing Parents; 365 TIPS FOR WRITERS: Inspiration, Writing Prompts and Beat The Block Tips to Turbo Charge Your Creativity; Love is Like a Rainbow: Poems of Love and Devotion and the children’s book The Yellow Rose. She is co-author of the book Totally Scared: The Complete Book on Haunted Houses. Her dark fantasy novel, Shadow of Samhain, is due out in Winter 2011. Her Web site is at

Over to you Dawn, and thank you for visiting my blog and hosting my tour. I know this is going to be blogpost I'll come back to again and again--naming my characters always feels like the hardest part of writing, as if by inventing them I've given them the right to choose their own names, and nothing I come up with is good enough.

How to Come Up with Character Names

Character names are probably more important than the title of your novel or short story collection. The names you give to your characters should “fit” them in some way. By “fit,” I mean ethnically, characteristically (their name’s meaning describes them or their personalities match their names) or creatively (it goes with the story’s genre). Your character’s name should also be something that readers will remember them by. A name of “Joe Smith” isn’t very memorable, least of all important. But a name like Ellerby James or Blake Kristoffsen are names that stand out.

But when trying to come up with a name for their character, what’s a writer to do in finding them? Here are some of the things that I do:

Name books. You know those little “baby naming books” they sell in the checkout aisle at grocery stores? I have been known to page through them a time or two – but not because I was expecting a little bundle of joy. It was because I was on the hunt for a good character name. One character naming book I used to cling to and make notes in was Character Naming Sourcebook, by Sherrilyn Kenyon, Hal Blythe and Charlie Sweet. This is the link: Alas, I lost my copy of this book in one of my moves to a new home, but I’ve plans to pick up a new copy soon.

Baby naming web sites. Thanks to technology, finding a name for characters is just a click away. You can visit sites such as Baby Names ( and the baby name directory at Baby Zone ( to peruse their list of names.

Signs, advertisements and flyers. Don’t throw out your junk mail just yet; check out that letter endorsing a group or that flyer advertising a company special to see if there are any unusual or interesting names lurking within those pages. While I was visiting my brother in L.A. one day some years ago, I saw a sign encouraging people to “vote for Napolitini.” That name really caught my eye and I later used it in my NaNo manuscript.

The people you know. This trick can work in two ways. The first way is to use the names of people you know for character names. If you can’t come up with a name for your character as you are writing the first draft of your story, use names of people you know. Then, as you revise your story later and have your character fleshed out better, choose a different name. The second way this works is by talking with friends or family members about character names. Ask for their suggestions. I once asked a friend of mine if I could use her last name for the name of a character in Shadow of Samhain and she gave me her blessing. (This kind of thing can be tricky. For a minor character, it’s not so much of a risk. However, for a major character, one needs to be careful. In my forthcoming book, The Ghost of Sarah Travers, I have a character in that story named Vincent. The thing of it is, this character appeared in the story looking exactly like my daughter’s friend, who happens to be named Vincent! I received permission from his father to proceed with the name, but I’m playing it safe here. No, I won’t “baby” this character and make sure nothing bad happens to him, but I will make sure he is a character the real Vincent will think is pretty cool and something he’ll be proud of. All the same, I’m writing these stories praying I won’t be hit with a lawsuit someday. “How dare you make my son’s character dance with a ghost in Book Two!”)

Use throwaway names. Throwaway names are names that don’t make the cut. If you know a writer who decides not to use a name for a character but it’s a name you are crazy about, use it yourself. The same goes when someone suggests a baby name that you really like but the expecting mother doesn’t like the name at all. In another example, one of my sisters recently had a baby and my cousin posted the wrong middle name. I liked the middle name, but spelled differently. Once I learned this was not the correct name, I added this name to my list of future character names.

Read, read, read. When I was working on earlier drafts for Shadow of Samhain, I needed a name for one of my characters. Nothing seemed to help me come up with a name but I pressed onward hoping to find one eventually. During my research on Druidism, I came across the name of a priest “Jovan.” I liked that name, but spelled with an “I” instead. Thus, the name “Jovin” was created for my character, and it fit him perfectly.

Let your characters pick the names. I Know this sounds crazy. How dare we writers allow our characters to choose their own names? But, a lot of the times, our characters know what kind of name they should have. In fact, many of my characters have come to me fully developed and with their own names. Sometimes I get the name from them quite easily (as with my character Janay) but sometimes I’ll need to do some prodding and encouraging to get the names out of them (such as with my character Alice Crenshaw).  And speaking of characters in Shadow of Samhain, I was recently asked to change the name of the character John. The pairing of “John/Jonathan” in the story might confuse readers, so I had to change the name. In order to figure out what name to use, I turned to John’s mother, Janay. I “put myself into her mindset” so to speak and asked her what she would’ve named her firstborn. To my surprise, she had really wanted to name her son something else: Tom. This name has special meaning to her, because as  a teen, her older brother, Tom, had been killed by a drug dealer during a traffic stop. (Tom was a police officer.) She’d been close to her brother and his murder had always been hard for her to accept. So “Tom” was the name she preferred for her firstborn child.

The above strategies are just some of the tricks I use to name my characters. There are lots of other ways, of course; playing around with words, using anagrams or even getting the name from your dreams. Take some time to think about character names because they are an important part of your character and can add value to your story. With the right name for your character, your story has a better chance of leaving a lasting impression on your readers and encourage them to keep coming back for more.

Thank you Dawn. I really enjoyed reading this. A great topic, and I loved reading how John/Tom got his name!

Monday, October 17, 2011

BLOG TOURS: Angels, Flower Child and book reviews

The Flower Child blog tour is visiting Erin O'Riordan's blog today with a post on angels at Erin's the author of some wonderfully intriguing and sensual fantasies. The first of her stories I read was the beautiful Butterfly Boy in an anthology called Wonder (Wonder reviewed on here)--if you look at the cover you'll see why it's singularly appropriate that my post on Erin's blog should be about angels. But Erin's stories can be very down-to-earth too; I've just finished and reviewed her novel Eminent Domain, written with her husband and co- author Tit Elingtin--a fascinating novel that combines sweet romance with abject dejection, hopeful construction with unfettered despair, and beauty with miserable evil in the tale of an eager young couple driven to distraction by the law. (Eminent Domain is reviewed on here.)

I hope you're having as much fun following this blog tour as I am. But I'm still trying to catch up on my reading too, so here's a few more book reviews, just to prove I can read and blog (and drink coffee) all at once. As usual, the ratings of for my coffee recommendations--some books just need a dark strong flavor while others bounce happily to something lighter.

This being October, I'll start with a short ghost story found on Smashwords--The Ghost in Blackwell Station by Shani Bush. Short and quick, this one reminds me of those black-and-white ghost stories I used to watch on TV--unpolished but intriguing enough to read while snatching a 1-star crisp light coffee.

A set of three short stories comes next in Lindsay Downs' Emily Dahill, CID Part I. A strong female protagonist is paired with a truly wonderful dog, scary action with humor, and fear with generous relationships in these tales of a woman embarking on her career in the army CID. Sip a lively cup of 2-star easy-drinking coffee with this one.

Now for a novella--still short but not quite a short story. The Start-up by Sadie Hayes is the beginning of a fascinating series of novellas set in the worlds of high-finance and high-tech, pitting computer geek against cheating financiers. I read an e-ARC so I'm not sure it's available yet. When it comes out you'd better stick to a 1-star crisp cup of coffee or the caffeine'll keep you awake waiting for volume 2.

Homegrown Muse, by Sally P. Bennett, is a full-length novel that tells of business relationships and romance in the complex worlds of construction and ecology. Blending high-tech and natural world, broken relationships and truly fascinating family dynamics, it's a surprisingly fascinating and enjoyable tale, best enjoyed with a 3-star well-balanced, smooth cup of coffee.

Okay... Now for something completely different.The Snowman's Revenge by Mark Smythe is a delightful picture book for winter--and winter's surely coming as the weather turns cold. Drink some 2-star easy-drinking coffee while sharing the wonderful pictures and delightful story with your kids (or grandkids)--just the right frisson of fear to evoke smiles without causing nightmares.

Finally, two non-fiction books that I've really enjoyed reading:

The Language of Science and Faith by Karl W. Giberson and Francis S. Collins: If you know me you'll know why I have to love this book, faith and science being my twin passions. But I love it especially for it's insights into the history of Christian belief about evolution and it's clear, well-illustrated explanations of the issues and arguments. A wonderfully well-balanced book, to be enjoyed with a 3-star well-balanced coffee.

And What Everyone Should Know about Islam and Muslims by Suzanne Haneef--a book written from the point of view of a former Christian, I picked this out since I wanted to read from the point of view of a believer rather than someone tearing down belief. It was actually quite intriguing to see my own faith from the point of view of a non-believer as I read, but the book is really interesting and taught me just what I wanted to learn. I'd go for a 4-star complex coffee with this one.

So that's my reading for this week... Now back to the blog tour...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Intersecting blog tours: Say a Little Prayer

We're intersecting blog tours again--this time Flower Child's tour and Catherine Cavendish's Say a Little Prayer.

I'm delighted to introduce a fellow Gypsy Shadow author today--Catherine Cavendish, author of the wonderfully musical, whimsical and intriguing tale, Say a Little Prayer (read my review here). While Catherine interviews me on I get to ask her some questions of my own, but first, let me introduce her book:

Say A Little Prayer – the blurb:

Every night, Jane Furnival prays for the souls of the dead celebrities she most admires. Somewhere, in a parallel dimension, those she prays for must gather and it’s an odd assortment of stars – from Jim Morrison, John Lennon and Marilyn Monroe to Agatha Christie who’s still writing plotlines in her notebook. But can they help her resolve the biggest crisis in her life? Her formidable, long-dead Aunt Margaret decides if anyone can, Jim Morrison’s her man, so accompanied by Marilyn Monroe in a skin-tight gown, the two set off on a mission to find $5000 before breakfast.

And now the interview:

Hi Catherine,
I’m so glad you’re going to let me interview you.

1. I love John Lennon’s voice in your story Say a Little Prayer and I notice you say you live in the North of England. Do you live near Liverpool? Have you been to any of the Beatles sites? 

I lived in Liverpool for  a number of years and it’s a fascinating, vibrant city. It’s not all that big as cities go but punches well above its weight and was recently European City of Culture – a title it well deserved. The Beatles are only part of its rich heritage but I have done some sightseeing. I have been to Mathew Street a number of time; the original Cavern is long gone but there is a ‘replacement’. I’ve traveled along Menlove Avenue, seen Strawberry Field (well  the gates anyway!). I used to park my car a short distance from the house in which George Harrison grew up, in Wavertree .

2. Your website says you have a novella coming out soon with Etopia Press. Can you tell us anything about it? 

It’s a horror called ‘Cold Revenge’. Four couples are invited to a dinner party at the opulent home of leading fashion writer, Erin Dartford. You’ve heard the expression ’revenge is a dish best served cold’? Well that will give you a hint of what is to come...

3. Are your stories connected to each other? D’you think you’ll use the gang from Say a Little Prayer again sometime?

No, so far, my stories have been ‘standalones’ but I had so much fun with Jim and Marilyn, they may just go on another mission together one of these days.

4. I’m guessing you used your own favorite characters in Say a Little Prayer. Is that right? How did you choose them, and how much did you need to research them to make them seem so real (albeit dead)?

I have collected books and been fascinated by the stories of both Jim Morrison and Marilyn Monroe for years now so I have learned quite a bit about them and you’re right, t hey are two of my all-time favorites. They are both so much more than the public perception of them. John Lennon is another favorite and there are books on my shelf and DVDs in my collection about him too. His wit and accent, while distinctive, are echoed in characters I have met in Liverpool on many occasions. Liverpudlians (or ‘Scousers’) have a unique sense of humor. I always imagined Agatha Christie to share characteristics with her sleuth, Miss Marple, so I just tapped into that

5.       Do you think your own experience feeds into your stories? I guess the usual question is how much of yourself do you put into your characters, but I don’t imagine there’s room for anyone else in the characters of Say a Little Prayer, except in Jane perhaps.

I don’t think I’m in ‘Say A Little Prayer’ at all but it is true to say that I have recognized bits of myself in other stories I have written. Sometimes, I will give a character a job I once had or a situation that I have experienced. On other occasions, I find they react to a situation in much the same way I would

6.       Does your cat see ghosts?

Quite possibly, although I have a theory that, if she does, she just thinks of them as part of the world around her and accepts them. She no doubt sees me as some sort of  two-legged creature who never got the hang of using all four paws simultaneously and who is responsible for catering to her every need. Maybe she sees ghosts as a slightly fuzzier version of that!

7.       On your website you mention seeing an apparition which no-one else could rationally explain. Is that something you’d be willing to elaborate on? (No problem if it’s not.) 

Some three or four years after she died, I saw the cat I grew up with jump out of a cupboard she used to try and get in at every opportunity. In life she was jet black but in this momentary experience, she was grey - as if on a photographic negative. It was at my parent’s house and there were no other cats there. I can still recall it now. It was on a Sunday, just after lunch and I was clearing plates away

8.       You say you wander round Litopia and Facebook. I don’t know Litopia, but are there other sites besides Facebook that you would recommend to an aspiring writer trying to network?
Litopia ( is an amazing writers’ community and I would recommend anyone who is serious about their writing to join it. I know I wouldn’t be published now if I hadn’t become a ‘Litopian’!

9.       What’s the most impossible predicament you’ve put a heroine into in one of your stories to date?

Ah, that would be telling! All I will say is that the answer lies in ‘Cold Revenge’!

10.   Is there a question you’d love to answer that no one’s thought to ask you yet? If so, would you like to answer it here?

Do you know, Sheila? I cannot think of one except I would love a publisher to ask me if I would be happy to accept a $500,000 advance for a three book deal! Do I need to tell you my answer?

Author Info:

Catherine Cavendish lives in the North of England and in Wales, with her longsuffering husband and a slightly eccentric tortoiseshell cat. She has had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal which intensified when she saw an apparition which no-one has ever been able to rationally explain. She is currently working on a number of new projects, including short stories, a novella and a novel featuring a circle of ancient standing stones.

You can find Catherine at: as Catherine Cavendish!/cat_cavendish 

You can purchase ‘Say A Little Prayer’ from the publishers:


Barnes and Noble

And other online booksellers

Saturday, October 15, 2011

BLOG TOUR: A great interview!

Aaron Paul Lazar interviews me today on Murder by 4: It's a great interview with some wonderful questions--a pleasure for me to answer them, and very thought-provoking too. I could hardly believe he'd found out so much about me before conducting the interview--a true friend, and a great interviewer.

Aaron Paul Lazar is also the author of three very fine mystery series and I'm slowly collecting his books.

The Gus LeGarde mysteries feature a classical music professor, grandfather, gardener, chef, and nature lover, called Gus LeGarde, who plays Chopin etudes to feed his soul and might be described as a “Renaissance man caught in the 21st century.” With an amazing cast of family and friends, LeGarde lives, loves, and solves mysteries in a world so convincingly drawn you'll think you've been from the Genesee Valley to Paris and beyond at his side.

Sam Moore is a recently retired man who worries about his wife's declining health and mourns the brother who vanished fifty years ago. But a surprising discovery leads to delightfully diabolical mysteries with paranormal overtones and perfectly human grounding.

And now there's the newTall Pines mysteries too! Set in the Adirondacks and definitely not just for the birds. A prolific writer who creates landscapes and characters filled with life and depth, Aaron Paul Lazar lives on a ridge overlooking the Genesee Valley in upstate New York with his wife, mother-in-law, Cavipoo, Balto, CaviBichon, Amber, and cat, Cameo.

Friday, October 14, 2011

BLOG TOUR:Flower Child blog tour intersects with super zombies!

M.J.A. Ware is the author of the super teen-safe, boy-friendly, zombie tale, Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb--reviewed recently here. He's interviewing me on his blog today, and in return, I'm interviewing him. Yes folks--it's intersecting blog tours again. And SZJMB really is a very fun book, with genuine teenage characters, coming-of-age type angst, movie-style thrills, and great humor--think Shaun of the Dead for kids (I loved Shaun of the Dead!).

About the author:

 M.J.A. Ware, known as M.J. to his friends, lives in the foothills of the Sierra Mountains with his wife and two daughters.  He wrote Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb because he felt there was a need for a zombie book with a broader appeal than just hard-core horror fans. A book that would not only appeal to both adults and teens, but would be teen safe.

When not writing about aliens, monsters and ghosts, he runs a company where he designs award winning video arcades. He’s currently polishing his latest novel, Girls Bite, a paranormal vampire story told from a guy's perspective.
The Interview:

How old are your daughters? 

My oldest is four and a half. and the baby is year and a half.

Do they enjoy your books? 

One enjoys the cover art; the other likes ripping the pages out. I thought girls were supposed to like vampires rather than zombies.

Do your girls like zombies? 

My eldest loves monsters of all stripes. The first time we took her to a cemetery she was sorely disappointed when she found out there wouldn’t be any ghosts.

Do they like vampire stories? 

Too young, but my wife and I do. I read more ‘chicklit’ than I probably should admit to. Twilight, My Blood Approves, and we both have a weak spot for Meg Cabbot—for me it’s the voice she infuses into her characters.

Does your family inspire you with ideas to write about? 

Sometimes. I often write stories that I think would make good books for my girls to read. Having girls makes me more aware of female role models in my writing. I like my stories to have strong women or girls; even if their strength isn’t in conventional ways.

Do you admit to friends and colleagues that you're an author? 

I really still consider myself more of an aspiring author. I’m not sure at what point I’d say a self-published author has made it. When they can pay the bills—or at least some of the bills—with their earning, maybe?

So I usually don’t publicize it. I don’t hide it either. When I started my Facebook Author Page they all figured it out. But you know guys, they either don’t acknowledge it, or just say, hmm… cool.

What was your favorite part about writing and publishing a book? 

It would have to be the response I've gotten from young people--particularly teens. A couple parents have told me their kids hate to read, but couldn't put the book down. That's what makes it all worth the effort.

When d'you think Girls Bite will come out? (It's a great title) 

Thanks. I really want to have it out before the holidays. However, it takes me tons and tons of read-throughs to get a manuscript in shape. I read and edited SZJMB over 100 times. I’m a little more proficient now, but I bet I’ll have to read and revise another 20-30 times before it’s ready.

Realistically, it should be out early next year.

About the book: SZJMB blurb:

When life gives you lemons, kill zombies -- turns out lemon juice neutralizes the undead.

After a failed attempt at running away, best friends Nathan and Misty return home expecting to face angry parents. Instead, they discover the military has destroyed the bridges out of their rural town and everyone's fled--except a small horde of the living dead. The stress of flesh-eating zombies may be more than their already strained relationship can handle.

Even with the help of the town geek and lemonade-powered Super-Soakers, there's not enough time to squeeze their way out of this sticky mess. Unless the trio eradicates the zombie infestation, while avoiding the deadly zombie snot, the military will blow the town, and them, to pulp.

Their only shot is something with a lot more punch. Something like the Super Zombie Juice Mega Bomb. But even if their friendship survives, there's another problem: Someone has to lure the undead into the trap.

Where to buy it:
Amazon (print and ebook)
Barnes & Noble