Monday, July 30, 2012

Blog Ring of Power--Interview with Denise Verrico

I hope everyone had a good weekend. Today I have Denise Verrico here to discuss her current work. This is Part Four of the Blog Ring of Power interview; click the links for Parts One, Two, and Three. The interview will conclude tomorrow at Dean's blog.

Denise has a special treat for us today: Comment and leave your email address to receive a free copy of Denise Verrico’s ANNALS OF THE IMMORTYLS, a trio of dark urban fantasy tales featuring characters from her Immortyl Revolution series.

Tell us about your new book—what is it about—and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?

Servant of the Goddess joins the heroine of my first two Immortyl Revolution books with the hero of my third.  Mia and Cedric are both strong and passionate personalities.  Cedric has escaped slavery and just suffered a horrible loss in India.  He arrives in New York with little but the clothes on his lovely body and his considerable wits and talent.  Mia has stood by her lover, Kurt, as he led his rebellion against the Immortyl establishment, but she’s restless in her role as consort.  Here comes this irreverent, hell-bent on revenge vampire kid, Cedric, with intimate knowledge of internal strife within the chief elder’s court.  Cedric is an adept of the ancient arts, the closest thing the Immortyl culture has to a rock star, and even Mia is smitten by his mystique.  The kid is a fire that brings Mia’s discontent to boil.  Needless to say, mayhem ensues.  Politics, both mortal and Immortyl come into play, and Mia and Kurt discover a disturbing turn of events in the race for immortality.

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject? 

DV:  Well, the book is set in NYC in 2001.  I couldn’t ignore 9-11.  At first, I shied away from dealing with it, but then, I made the decision to make it integral to the plot.  The stakes of harnessing immortality become much higher in the post 9-11 world.  

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

DV: Writing about 9-11 was tough.  I’d jotted down some thoughts and feelings I had when it happened, never intending them to come into play in a fantasy novel.  We lived in Northern NJ, less than ten miles from Manhattan.  I saw the smoke plume from my house and workplace.  My husband worked in Times Square for Reuters.  Everything about that day came back to me when I was writing the chapters about 9-11.  I didn’t lose anyone that day.  Everyone I knew who worked there either didn’t make it to work or got out safely.  But like most people I know, I felt a mixture of sadness, fear and anger.  In the book, I wanted to deal with the event itself with taste and sensitivity.  I focused on the effect it has on my main characters and the difficulty it poses for a group that lives off the grid.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I like the exchanges between Mia and Cedric.  They are so different, yet so fundamentally alike.  She’s in her seventies, even if she looks twenty.   Cedric is twenty, and even though he’s worldly wise, he’s a reckless young man.  He loves rock music.  She hates it.  He’s wild and promiscuous.  She’s cautious and forced to be discreet in her sex life.  He’s spoiling for revenge, and she understands this is politically unwise.  Cedric sees Mia as the earthly manifestation of Durga, and she exploits his religious zeal to her ends.  I won’t give it all away, but this relationship raises sparks.  Red hot sparks. 

Kurt isn’t thrilled.

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

I can write a HEAFN ending.  Yes, it was difficult, but I did it.  Whew, I might have to turn in my Melancholic’s Anonymous card now and wear pastels.  No, not pastels--that would be too painful.

About the Author

Ms. Verrico is an Urban Fantasy author and New Jersey native who grew up in Western Pennsylvania. She attended Point Park College and majored in Theatre Arts. For seven seasons, she was a member of the Oberon Theatre Ensemble in NYC. Denise has loved vampire stories since childhood and is a fan of the Dark Shadows television series. Her books are published by L&L Dreamspell Publishing and include: Cara Mia (Book One of the Immortyl Revolution Series), Twilight of the Gods (Book Two of the Immortyl Revolution Series), and My Fearful Symmetry (Book Three of the Immortyl Revolution Series). She currently lives in Ohio with her husband, son, and her flock of seven spoiled parrots.

For excerpts of the Immortyl Revolution Series, character profiles and the Immortyl Lexicon visit

For insider information on the series visit

SOTG Denise Verrico Links:
My website
Servant of the Goddess Excerpt
My Trailer

My Amazon Page
Servant of the Goddess Trade PB
Servant of the Goddess Kindle

Barnes and Noble:
Servant of the Goddess Trade PB and Nook

Friday, July 27, 2012

Science of the Week, 7/27/12

It's hard to believe my son starts kindergarten four weeks from today! I'm more excited than he is.

I don't think Alex is ready for these science news yet, but hopefully you'll find some of them interesting:

New devices double down to detect and map brain signals

Alien multiplanet system oriented much like our own

Tick bite can make you allergic to red meat
(this gives me some ideas for stories)

 NASA successfully tests hypersonic inflatable heat shield

A gene-free gene therapy?

Artifical jellyfish built from silicone and rat cells

That's it for now. See you on Monday!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

ChiCon and Fandom

In little more than a month, it'll be time for ChiCon 7. I was able to attend the last ChiCon in 2000, so I have some idea what to expect. I'm not sure yet if I'll be participating in programming or reading, but I'll probably spend some time at the BroadUniverse table to help promote Lyon's Legacy and other books by members.

ChiCon is different from WisCon (the main convention I attend regularly) in that it attracts a lot of fans in addition to pros such as editors, agents, and writers. While few people wear costumes to WisCon, there will probably be many people doing so at ChiCon. In fact, there's a Masquerade Saturday night. It should be fun to see all the wonderful costumes people create.

One thing that will be a bit odd for me at ChiCon is that since I don't watch TV or movies in my little free time (that's mostly for writing or reading), I'm going to feel out of the loop with some references. Of course, if Busytown Mysteries, my son's favorite show, counts as fantasy, I'm good there. But I haven't watched the latest incarnation of Doctor Who, and I've only read the first book of A Song of Ice and Fire. Maybe I need to read some wikis before Labor Day weekend. Anyone have any suggestions about which fandoms I should learn more about before ChiCon?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Writing Marathon

Once again we're between interviews for the Blog Ring of Power, so you'll have to wait until next week to hear from Denise Verrico. Technically, her series of mini-interviews will start on Wednesday at Terri's blog if you can't wait until next Monday.

 My family gave me a wonderful gift yesterday: a writing day! Normally, it's hard for me to get much writing time on the weekends since I have to catch up on housework and keep my five-year-old son entertained. However, yesterday my husband took our son to the local Railway Museum. While they spent all day riding diesels and taking pictures (my son borrowed my camera and took the pictures posted here), I got to revise Twinned Universes.It's hard to say exactly how much I got done, since I was just tweaking in some spots and writing new material in others. However, since I skipped over some scenes, I probably advanced about one hundred pages in the novel. Ideally, I'd like to finish this pass before Labor Day weekend so I can send this off to my editor for line edits.

How long is your typical writing session? If you get a day to focus on writing, are you productive, or do you do other things instead?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Science of the Week, 7/20/12

It's hard to believe we're headed into late July already, isn't it? Given the summer we've been having, perhaps that's a good thing.

Anyway, here are some science news articles I wanted to pass along this week:

Peering into the heart of a supernova

Chemists synthesize compound that flushes out latent HIV

What would your life be like without antibiotics?

Musical glove improves sensation, mobility for people with spinal cord injury (I keep thinking this is related to Michael Jackson's glove)

Scientists produce the lightest material in the world

That's it for now. Have a good weekend, and see you Monday!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

New Fantasy Short Story Out--"Silver Rain"

Back in the spring, when we were getting the rain that we desperately need now, I saw rain and fog giving familiar places a strange new look. It inspired me with a story idea about a town transformed by rain. It took me a few months to finish it, get it reviewed, and revise it, since I've been mostly revising Twinned Universes, but I finally accomplished it. "Silver Rain" is now available as an e-book for $0.99 on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Here's the description:

Every spring, Marthe's town is covered with illusions by silver rain, but she's the only one who can't see them. When a handsome poet shares his verses with her, she learns to appreciate beauty. However, everyone else stares at her poet as if they know something she doesn't. What is truth and what is illusion, and will Marthe learn the difference between them before she loses her lover?

As an experiment, I also made the cover myself using a royalty-free photo from Dreamstime and GIMP. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Hopefully with more practice (and perhaps a class) I'll learn how to do more advanced stuff.

If you check out the story, I hope you'll enjoy it!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Blog Ring of Power--Janet Beasley

I hope you enjoyed your weekend, everyone!

Today, the Blog Ring of Power is in the middle of a progressive interview with Janet Beasley. Theresa hosted Part One and Emily Part Two; Dean and Terri respectively will host Parts Four and Five. I'm hosting Part Three, The Creative Process.

Where do you get your story ideas? From life's experiences, a fantastical imagination, and nature.

Do you have a specific writing style? It's more like a recipe. 1 part epic, 1 part easy to read, a dash of humor, a pinch of reality (just enough to make the readers cry from being so attached to the character), and it's all topped off with a brilliant icing covered with sprinkles!

How do you deal with writer’s block? I chop it to bits! I can't stand when it hits. It's kind of like "throwing up" - I'll do everything in my power to keep from experiencing either!

How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula? Plots and characters come with the story. I'll have a basic concept, but the story develops in depth as I write. And those few pesky characters that take on a mind of their own; well sometimes I have to kill them off just to get them out of my hair - and no, I can't just "not" use them, they're always someone useful - just annoying at times.

Are you a “plotter” or a “pantser” (do you plan/outline the story ahead of time or write “by the seat of your pants”)? Give me a "P" Give me an "A" you know the rest...yup, I'm a panster for sure!

Do you use critique partners or beta readers?  Why or why not?  No, because writing epic stuff you just can't give them enough of the story to understand where its' going. Now proofreading and editing is done by my sis; the pro editor and proofreader with the English Language Specialist degree keeps me in line, and she understands my style to a tee.

How much time do you spend on research? What type of research do you do?
Depending on the chapter it could be minutes, hours, days, months, or years. My latest, most extensive, research came with the first battle scene in Maycly. My research is probably doesn't fit "the mold" of research as most would think. I not only look up facts, I rent movies with like scenes and watch them over and over - sometimes with my eyes closed listening for sound effects, other times no sound and all action, and yet a few more times to see what kind of shots the camera is taking i.e. close-up, mid, long, wide, pan, etc. I'm a very visual person - and I've had several say they enjoy reading my style as they can actually smell the aromas, capture a visual in their heads, and even hear the sounds I've described.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging to write? Anything that involves truth and facts - I do much better making up my own magic laws, or creating animals and deciding what they eat, where they sleep, and so on. If I create it instead of having to "learn" it, I seem to be able to hold the continuity better throughout the story.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:
Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Twitter: @AuthorJanetB
Smashwords: N/A
Other:  (a page for fans to chat and post about the cool things of Maycly)

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
The collector's edition paperback is 744 pages. It contains all 3 parts, and includes over 70 b/w illustrations, maps, teaser recipes, family trees, and more.

Ebooks: Each part is a separate ebook, sold separately through Amazon. Each ebook contains color illustrations, the map of Maycly, and corresponding back matter.

BIO:     Hi, I’m Janet Beasley; Epic Fantasy Novelist and Scenic Nature Photographer. I am the author of the newly released epic fantasy series Hidden Earth Volume 1 Maycly – Parts 1, 2, and 3.

     I was born and raised in Beavercreek, Ohio where I was a proud 1979 graduate of Beavercreek High School. I now reside in central Florida and love hanging out together with family and friends for food and fun.

     According to those who know me, I’m outgoing, fun, very creative and always try to look on the sunny side of life. Now granted, some of these folks haven’t had the opportunity to catch me on a bad day. You know, like in my writer’s den, when I’m birthing ideas and trying to write them down as fast as they come to me it gets a little hair-raising and the dog looks at me with that “look” where they tilt their head and just stare at you like you’re crazy at the moment…which you are…but you don’t let them know that!

     I’m an animal lover, with dogs being number one on my list. I love to travel. Discovering new places and meeting new people from other lands is always a thrill. I enjoy hangin’ with family - kayaking, hiking, photographing nature, and baking cupcakes.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Science of the Week, 7/13/12

May you have a lucky Friday the 13th today!

Scientists place 500-million-year old gene in modern organism (What's particularly interesting about this report is that the scientists watched to see how the bacteria with the ancient gene would evolve over the generations, and apparently it did not follow the same pathway as before)

Hubble spots new moon around Pluto

Generating electricity by harnessing friction between surfaces

World's fastest camera detects rogue cancer cells

Overweight? There's a vaccine for that.

Not too many articles this week, but I hope you find something useful there.

Enjoy your weekend, and I'll be back Monday with another Blog Ring of Power interview!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Works in Progress Update

Here's a quick rundown of what I've been working on recently:

Twinned Universes--I'm still working on a major rewrite based on a developmental edit. There are several major players with conflicting goals at the climax of the story, along with a new character who needs to be integrated into the story. Lots of "If A does this, then B would react like that..." going on.

"Spring Rains"--a standalone fantasy short story. I finished getting feedback from crit partners on OWW; now I need some time to revise and figure out the cover.

"Totill and the Thresher" and a story with no working title yet--Both of these are intended to be novellas for an anthology about older women in speculative fiction. They're set in worlds I'm already familiar with but deal with minor characters from those worlds. Honestly, I'm not sure if I'll finish either story before the submission deadline, especially with my other projects, since even pre-plotting isn't helping me much with these stories. Maybe they're better off as short stories instead of novellas. However, I can always publish them on my own.

What are you working on, either writing-related or not? How's it coming? Do you ever feel you have so many projects you can't make progress on a single one?

Monday, July 09, 2012

Lyon's Legacy a SpecFicPick

A new moveable interview for the Blog Ring of Power will start later this week and return to my blog next week. In the meantime, Lyon's Legacy was a SpecFicPick feature yesterday; click here to find out more. If you have a book you'd like them to feature, click here to learn the submission requirements.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Mid-Year Reading Review

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! May you stay cool and have power this holiday!

Since the year is halfway over, I thought it would be a good time to look back at what I've read so far in 2012. Although I'm not tracking my books on this blog the way I did last year, I still track them in Goodreads. My Goodreads challenge for this year was to read 150 books (which I increased over my initial goal of 120). According to Goodreads, I've read 98 books so far this year. Some of these items are actually novellas, novelettes, or even short stories, but I guess they still count as long at they're listed independently in Goodreads.

Here's how they break down by genre:

Science Fiction: 13
Fantasy: 53
Mystery: 4
Other: 11
Non-Fiction, Writing: 6
Non-Fiction, Science: 2 (must increase this, although I do subscribe to Scientific American
Non-Fiction, Other: 9

I noted five novellas and five novelettes read so far.

Only five books in this list were in paper form. I am reading another paper book, but it's a nonfiction book that stays at home and is lucky to get five minutes of my attention before bedtime. (It's not boring, but it is a nonfiction collection dealing with womens' lives in the Great Lakes region during the 19th and early 20th centuries--research for a novel idea.) I started that one back in April, so I'm behind as far as clearing one paper book off my To-Read tower every month.

Favorites I've read? It's hard to choose, especially when I've read so many. Here are a few stand-out titles:

To Say Nothing of the Dog (a favorite of mine; this was a re-reread)
Phoenix Rising
Threaded Through Time, Parts One and Two
The Art of Racing in the Rain
The Master of Heathcrest Hall
Half the Sky
Wool Omnibus
The Emperor's Edge

How many books have you read so far this year? Which ones do you recommend reading?

Monday, July 02, 2012

Interview with Danielle Ackley-McPhail

If you're here for the INDIE-pendence Day Blogfest, that post is below, but please stick around to read this one first! Today I have with me a fellow (or should I say sister) BroadUniverse member, Danielle Ackley-McPhail. Since I'm starting this moveable interview, let's get to know Danielle a little better:

How long have you been writing?
My first piece of absolute fiction I can recall writing was in fifth grade, so about thirty years. It was a class assignment and we were supposed to write a story about cooking a turkey for Thanksgiving. I didn’t understand when the assignment was explained so I did the assignment wrong. However, it turned out we had to read our finished story aloud. Both fortunately—and unfortunately—I wasn’t called first so I realized my mistake. When I got in front of the class for my turn I completely winged it so I don’t even have the first thing I ever “wrote”. I got lots of laughs and the only thing I was deducted for (at first) was the fact that Turkeys do not, in fact, take just a few minutes to cook. The unfortunate part of this tale…when I had to actually TURN in the paper my mistake and quick thinking were revealed and my B+ became an F. Surprisingly this did not sour me to the joys of writing fiction. From that point forward I did fairly well on all creative writing—and was sure to listen more closely.

When I hit my early teens I focused more on poetry…it was quicker, easier, and it was harder for someone to tell you it was done wrong. Mostly I just didn’t have the focus for fiction at that point. As I grew older that the short stories started taking over. I played at writing a novel but it never went anywhere…mostly because I have reams and reams of notebook paper written in faded ink…or worse, faded pencil. Then suddenly I accidently found myself writing a novel when I thought I was writing a short story …that one, of course, is the one that got published. Go figure!

When did you first consider yourself a professional writer?
I was published throughout high school and college, mostly flash fiction and poetry, but I never considered myself professional until my first novel came out. Of course, at that point I was more professional than the novel was, but that was a whole other matter. That novel was Yesterday’s Dreams, an urban fantasy based on Irish mythology…basically Irish elves in New York City. It was picked up by a very small, small press. They didn’t put much effort into the professional aspects of my novel and I didn’t know enough to tell the difference. I also didn’t know what I should be doing while they weren’t doing what they should have been doing, so my new status as professional author was a technicality. I’ve since grown into it.

What genre do you write?
Speculative. Pretty much almost anything speculative. Fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, horror, science fiction, military science fiction, science horror. No…I’m not just making things up here. I like cross genres and I love taking reality one or more steps to the left into the fantastic…past, present, and future. Mostly I don’t write drama, mainstream, true-to-life type stuff. No romance or erotica, either, because I know where my strengths and interest lie. Not that I couldn’t write any of those, but I wouldn’t be as invested in it because those things don’t interest me from a storytelling perspective.

What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
I love anything myth- or legend-based. Mostly urban fantasy because the foundation of the “real” world allows me to focus on layering the fantastic elements for a rich, well-woven story. I can’t say I have a favorite theme, but if I can make a literary allusion in some way to add layers of meaning, that really gets me going. I also love to build myths, legends, and religions for my fiction. Considering I stared out writing myth-based fiction by mentally reverse-engineering ancient myths, this isn’t really surprising. I was always wondering what “real” world situation could lead to the creation of the myths and legends. My English teachers loved me when myth studies came up. My fellow students…not so much.

If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
Oh, my…can I chose “kept woman”? No…oh well. There are several next-best-choices I could make…all of them have a creative aspect. Chef, costume designer, special-effects make-up artist. I love anything that lets me make stuff, basically. Creating things really gives me a charge. Of course, most people who know me would tell you that I should be a PR person, without a doubt.

The other parts of Danielle's interview will be posted as shown below:

Part Two--Dean, tomorrow
Part Three--Terri, Wednesday
Part Four--Theresa, Thursday
Part Five--Emily, Friday

Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Her works include the urban fantasies, Yesterday's Dreams, Tomorrow's Memories, the upcoming Today’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court, and the writers guide, The Literary Handyman. She edits the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies.

She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphail, lit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). Learn more at

Website and/or blog,

Celebrate INDIEpendence Day!

It's a double post day here on the blog! Even though Monday is my day for the Blog Ring of Power interviews, I wanted to get an early start on the holiday and help celebrate other independent authors. Yes, I'm part of the INDIE-pendence Day Blogfest hosted by The Indelibles. (Click the link to see all the participating blogs.) Today we're supposed to highlight great indie books, so I'm going to mention two I read this year: The 19 Dragons by SM Reine and the Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey. 

The 19 Dragons is a blend of fantasy, steampunk, and mystery. I don't remember how I learned about this one, though it was probably through a blog. A Land with 19 pillars is home not just to people, but to nineteen dragons in human form. When someone renders the dragons mortal and starts killing them, the Land starts dying as well. Told as a series of vignettes, the story visits each dragon in turn, although a couple of the dragons reappear over and over. It was well-written in a poetic style and fast-paced. I enjoyed this unique story and unique voice.

I learned about Hugh Howey's Wool stories through The Passive Voice blog. The science-fiction saga began with a single short story; when reviewers demanded more, Howey wrote the sequels, successfully increasing the scope of the world and the stakes each time. In a future sterile world, humanity survives in an underground silo. Anyone expressing the wish to go out is exiled--a death sentence. The first story begins with a sheriff whose own wife was exiled; other characters are featured in later stories. Ultimately a young woman engineer becomes the focus of the series. I have to admit I was a little confused in the beginning, but once I understood the workings of this world, I was drawn in. The world-building is believable, as well as the characters. There are several surprising twists in the story, along with scenes where characters I cared about were put into jeopardy. The formatting and copy-editing of this story are of professional quality (and even better than some traditionally published e-books). I don't often give a book a full five-star rating, but I felt this one deserved it. The omnibus edition of Wool has five parts. There is a sixth book out, which I need to read once I clear a few more books out of my "To Read" collection.

If you're on Goodreads, you can find more books featured in this blogfest on this list. Go forth and celebrate the Fourth with an indie book!

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Smashword Summer/Winter Sale!

 All through July, Smashwords is holding a Summer/Winter sale. I've enrolled both Lyon's Legacy and The Book of Beasts for a 50% discount. Use the code  SSW50 at checkout.  Please feel free to pass this on, and don't forget to look at all the other books on sale this month!

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