Monday, April 28, 2014

Blog Ring of Power--Mercedes Yeardley

Today for the Blog Ring of Power, Mercedes Yeardley will tell us about her current work: Nameless, The Darkness Comes. You can find the rest of her interview at these links:

About You : The Writing Life : The Creative Process : Words of Wisdom

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

MMY: My debut novel titled Nameless: The Darkness Comes was just released in January. I’m so excited! It’s the first book in The Bone Angel trilogy, and the next two books come out in January of 2015 and 2016, respectively. It’s an urban fantasy book about a woman named Luna who can see demons. It touches on quite a few realistic subjects including depression, insanity, drug use, etc, but still manages to be funny.

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

MMY: It differs in a couple of ways. Luna deals with the demonic, certainly, but she isn’t a demon slayer. She doesn’t always keep her cool and go after things with a katana. She just wants to be left alone. She bites her fingernails. She wears old rock band tees. She isn’t attached to anyone or anything…except her motorcycle, brother, and niece. Everyone else can go hang.
The other difference is that there’s a very heavy dose of humor. Luna uses her sense of humor to keep the horrors at bay. I find that the people who deal with the darkest things have the wickedest sense of humor. It keeps the book light enough that readers are able to finish it. It’s quite dark, otherwise.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

MMY: I was pregnant with triplets and lost two of them. The third was in NICU for several months. I had to stop writing the book to focus on life for a while. That was difficult, but the book was such a joy to return to. It also helped me cope with the loss. In the book, a little girl goes missing. I found that I was able to work through some of my own pain while Luna explored hers. So it was very therapeutic, in a way. I feel like Luna and her gang have become my friends.

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

MMY: I loved writing the House of Horrors. It’s a nexus of evil. There are some particularly disturbing scenes in that section (so I am told) and I’m quite proud of them. They were all based on dreams that I’ve had. I write them down in a notebook and keep them for future use. The starfish, the thing swimming under the stone, the girl with her pendant? All of those came from Mercedes nightmares. I feel like I’m taking something negative and forcing it to work for me.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?

MMY: George Cotronis did the design. He’s so fabulous! He also did the cover for my novella titled Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love. He has this style that’s really surreal and gritty while being clean and messy at the same time. I can’t explain it. But I wrote up a few things about the story, described Luna to him, and left him alone to create. He came up with this gorgeous, dark cover that nails the feeling of the story perfectly. George captures essence rather than actual scenes. It’s one of the things that makes his covers sparkle so well. Then JM Martin does the font and pulls everything together. People have had wonderful things to say about the Nameless cover, and I couldn’t be more pleased with it.

Mercedes M. Yardley wears stilettos, red lipstick, and poisonous flowers in her hair. She likes to do a little bit of everything, and writes dark fantasy, horror, nonfiction, and poetry. Mercedes minored in Creative Writing and worked as a contributing editor for Shock Totem Magazine.  She is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Sorrows, the novella Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu: A Tale of Atomic Love and her debut novel Nameless: The Darkness Comes, which is the first book in THE BONE ANGEL TRILOGY.  She often speaks at conferences and teaches workshops on several subjects, including personal branding and how to write a novel in stolen moments. Mercedes lives and works in Sin City, and you can reach her at

Blog: Facebook page: Goodreads author page: Twitter:@mercedesmy : Amazon Author Page:
Ragnarok Publications page

Luna Masterson sees demons. She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic’ rolls in on her motorcycle to save the day. 
 Armed with the ability to harm demons, her scathing sarcasm, and a hefty chip on her shoulder, Luna gathers the most unusual of allies, teaming up with a green-eyed heroin addict and a snarky demon ‘of some import.’ 
 After all, outcasts of a feather should stick together...even until the end.




Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Facts for Fiction: The Geography of Nowhere

Since I read so much nonfiction, I'm starting a new blog feature called Facts for Fiction. It'll be about the nonfiction books I read and how they could be useful for writing. I'm not sure how frequently I'll run this feature; it'll depend on how often I read a book that's worth discussing.

The book that inspired this feature is called The Geography of Nowhere: The Rise and Decline of America's Man-Made Escape. (It's by I originally thought it was going to focus on suburbs and the psychological and social effects they have on their residents. Instead, this book is more about architecture, landscape design, and cars. The author's premise is that the promotion of the private car over public transport has not only encouraged the development of the suburbs but resulted in boring buildings and less space devoted to civic and public buildings. Our environment has been designed for cars, not people. Kunstler complains that big businesses build without considering local communities. Although he discusses quality in a way that reminds me of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, his ranty tone can be a bit off-putting at times. Still, I did find this book useful for its ideas on how to design cities for comfort--or lack of comfort. He recommends mixed-use communities that have residents of different classes, a unified style, and transitions from public to private areas. (Some of these things, such as mixed-use, are actually against the law in many areas, which only serves to keep us dependent on driving to the store for a gallon of milk. This may not be sustainable in the long run.) Still, most of this book focuses on the negative, so perhaps it might be more useful if you're planning to write a dystopia.

Have you read this book? If so, what did you think of it? What do you think of American cities and suburbs?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blog Ring of Power: Michelle Pickett

Today for the Blog Ring of Power, Michelle Pickett (a fellow member of the Scene 13 group blog) will tell us about her current work: Milayna. You can find the rest of her interview at these links:

About You : The Writing Life : The Creative Process : Words of Wisdom

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

My newest book is a paranormal romance titled, “Milayna.” It releases December 2nd. It can already be pre-ordered on, Barnes&Noble, and

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

My editor said she was excited to edit the book because it differed from others because the demi-angels and demi-demons were both students in high-school. They were the same age, look, and had the same characteristics as each other. This is different than most books dealing with demons. Although, there are other “levels” of demons in the book.

Another thing that makes “Milayna” different than other books is the main character, Milayna, has visions of future events. These are generally events that are going to happen in the near future and close to her. She must step in and shield humans from any danger created by the event, whatever it may be. And when I say “must,” I mean it literally. She has no control over her actions. Her body takes over and she is compelled to step in and “right the wrong.” While the other demi-angels in the group have visions, too, Milayna’s are strongest—for reasons I won’t go into.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

This question relates to the next question. The favorite part of the book to write was when Milayna found out she was a demi-angel. She had trouble dealing with the change in her life. While it was my favorite part of the book to write, it was also the hardest because while I wanted her to be upset by the news, I didn’t want her to seem like a brat. So there was a fine line between what readers would accept as normal irritation versus being a spoiled brat.

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

My favorite part, without giving too much away, was when Milayna found out she is a demi-angel. She just didn’t say, “Oh, I’m a demi-angel? Okay. Cool.” And go about her business. Some books have characters that react to news like that. “I’m a vampire? Yay, let’s go have a drink!” Yeah, I don’t think so. That’s not how a person would react—at least not a normal person.

When Milayna finds out she’s a demi-angel she isn’t that accepting of the news. She doesn’t take it well and isn’t happy with the new turn her life has taken. I tried to write the part a little closer to how a person might act when thrown a curve ball like that. I hope I managed to get it right.   

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

There are always things I’d change. I look at PODs and think, “Geez, I really wish I would have done this, this, and this.” But, that ship has sailed. So I try not to dwell on what I can’t change and instead make my next book stronger with what I’ve learned. Because with each book an author writes, we learn. Not necessarily because we’re such great writers, but because we get feedback from beta readers, editors, and finally reviews from readers. All these combine and give us a wealth of information that we can use to make our next books stronger and, hopefully, what readers want to see.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

There really isn’t a message in “Milayna.” The book itself is written for escapism, and I hope that’s what I give my readers. But I do have a message: I write because I love to write. But I also write because I hope readers will enjoy the stories I have to tell. If so, please let me know by leaving a review on Amazon or B&N. And drop me a note and let me know what you like and what you’d like to see. My message is simple. I write for you. Tell me what makes you happy, what takes you out of this life and transports you to another world for a few hours, and that’s what I’ll try to give you.   

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
Robin Ludwig Designs, INC did my cover. I was online going through her portfolio and found a cover I fell in love with. I knew it was “Milayna.” I loved the colors swirling around her, almost like good and evil. Then Robin put angel wing overlays all over the design. They are hard to see where the color is darkest, but you can really see them on the model’s face and behind my name. I loved this idea because Milayna doesn’t have wings in the book, but I wanted to have something that represented angels, and I thought this was a great compromise.

The process was incredibly easy. I told Robin what piece in her portfolio I was using as inspiration and she did the rest. I hope to use Robin for the next two books in the trilogy so the books coordinate. I’d like to see each one done in the same format, but maybe using different colors for each cover and the model in a different pose and maybe with another character from the story.

I'm a wife, mother, author, reader, although not always in that order.  I write young adult urban fantasies, science/fiction, paranormal, and young adult and new adult contemporary romances. Reading was one of my earliest passions, writing soon followed. I began writing seriously during college where I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in accounting. Why I chose a career that frowns on creativity remains a mystery.

Red Bull or Monster Khaos are my coffee of choice. I’m addicted to Reese’s peanut butter cups and peanut butter M&Ms and eat way too many while I write (I’m currently trying to kick this habit). I have an abnormal obsession with hoodies and can’t write without one. I hate to cook, but love to watch cooking shows. I’m a hopeful romantic; I love a swoon-worthy ending that will give me butterflies for days. And books that keep me thinking of them long after I’ve finished the last page.

I was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now live in a sleepy suburb of Houston, Texas with my extremely supportive, not to mention gorgeous husband, three school-aged kids, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.


From the bestselling author of PODs comes an unforgettable tale of action, intrigue, and following your heart in the midst of betrayal.

It's hard being good all the time. Everyone needs to be bad once in a while. But for seventeen-year-old Milayna, being good isn't a choice. It's a job requirement. And it's a job she can't quit. Born a demi-angel, Milayna steps in when danger and demons threaten the people around her, but being half angel isn't all halos and happiness. Azazel, Hell's demon, wants Milayna's power, and he'll do anything to get it. But he only has until her eighteenth birthday, after which she becomes untouchable.

With the help of other demi-angels, Milayna thwarts the trouble Azazel sends her way. Fighting with her is Chay. He's a demi-angel who's sinfully gorgeous, and Milayna falls hard. But is Chay her true love...or her nemesis in disguise?

Because when she learns of a traitor in her group, there's no one she can trust...not even the one she loves.


Buy Links for Milayna:

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

What Labels Do Books Need?

Yesterday, The Atlantic posted an interesting article about "The Underrated, Universal Appeal of Science Fiction. The article suggests that the way we use "genre" as both a way to categorize a book's subject and a way to distinguish some books from general fiction may cause us to devalue works in popular genres like mystery, romance, and speculative fiction. General fiction becomes regarded as literature, while genre books are considered fluffy and escapist. I personally think this is an artificial distinction, as genre books can be serious too. However, as both a writer and a reader, I do like having a way to separate books with things I like (magic, science, alternate realities) from books that focus on reality and have no sense of wonder. Therefore, the labels of "science fiction" and "fantasy" do have use for me, and I'm sure fans of other genres feel the same way about their favorite books.

However, I'm now left to wonder how useful the literature label still is. Some stories that are considered classics today were very popular in their own times and might have been considered genre works once. Since self-publishing allows authors to avoid the publisher gatekeepers, any type of work can be published without getting "approved" by "authorities." That means readers will have to find other ways to pick the books they read. Some might rely on reviews or personal recommendations, while others will trust their own judgment. But when everyone brings different preferences and requirements to the same book, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to agree on what is worth reading (or calling "literature") and what isn't. Is this a problem? It might be for teachers, but for readers, more choices are better than less.

What's your opinion on the literature vs. genre debate? What, if anything, separates literature from other books? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Ring of Power--Alys Cohen

Today for the Blog Ring of Power, Alys Cohen will tell us about her writing life. You can find the rest of her interview at these links:

About YouThe Creative ProcessAbout Your Current Work: Words of Wisdom

What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine? Do you use pen and paper or computer? Work at home or at the library/Starbucks, etc.

My writing process lacks regularity.  My actual writing happens on my Macbook Pro.  I do a bit of editing on my iPad Mini, which resides in my purse and goes everywhere with me.  I take notes in a little leather-bound notebook or on my iPhone.  Yes, I’ve drunk the Apple juice.  Since I use so many Apple products, my software is all Mac-based, which has resulted in some confusion with betas and editors.  I keep track of the operating systems and word processors my betas and editors use in a different notebook. 

I write when the urge hits, which is often.  Sometimes I get a few minutes.  At other times, I’ll have hours.  My favorite time is at night when the world as I know it is asleep and I’m less likely to be interrupted.  I am also more energetic at night.

How do you balance writing with other aspects of your life?

I don’t sleep much.  I’m one of those people who can get by on three or four hours of sleep every thirty-six.  Unfortunately for me, if I don’t try forcing myself onto a regular day schedule, that sleep will happen during the day when I have be out and about.  I am generally hyper-organized and can multi-task like my life depends on it.

When do you write?

I think an easier question is when do I not?  If I’m not at my computer, there’s a good chance I’m tossing ideas.  I have an odd ability to think in detail about two different topics at once, an ability which comes in handy quite often.

How much time per day do you spend on your writing?

I’ll go for the easy answer and say a solid four hours per day is spent with writing as the primary recipient of my focus.  If I start adding in hours where I’m doing my regular job while plotting, then we’re getting into obsession-territory.

What has been the most surprising reaction to something you’ve written?

I had an early beta reader, a man, tell me he didn’t understand before why women stay in abusive relationships.  The early chapters of Sacred Blood made him rethink and finally understand.  It’s pretty amazing to be the one to help someone rethink abuse and for that person to stop blaming victims. 

What is the strongest criticism you’ve ever received as an author? The best compliment?

In one edition of Sacred Blood, the book opened with a domestic violence scene.  My goal was to shock the reader.  But a respected friend and fellow author told me that, even though abuse is horrible, he couldn’t really summon up any care for the characters because they are strangers.  I realized he’s right.  While most of us would say we’d care deeply, we have largely conditioned ourselves to put up walls to an extent to preserve ourselves emotionally.  So I rewrote the beginning so that we get to know Juliette a bit first, and to see the dynamic between her and Nathaniel. 

I think the best compliment I’ve received is that Juliette’s character arc brought tears in a reader who swears she doesn’t cry easily because Juliette’s growth inspired her, and then Juliette’s final decision twisted this reader’s heart and left her wanting more than the epilogue.

Other than your family, what has been your greatest source of support?

Trick question.  To me, family is those who love and support you.  Regardless of genetics, those who’ve supported me I consider to be my family.

How do you deal with rejection and/or negative reviews?

Well, no one book will be everyone’s cup of tea.  I know people who don’t care for Angela’s Ashes, the Harry Potter series, of Lord of the Rings.  This is okay.  I’m not offended that there are people out there who don’t care for Sacred Blood.

As for negative reviews, I’ve written a blog post about this topic.  Negative reviews are important.

Blog: /
Facebook page: and
Goodreads author page:
Amazon Author Page:
Smashwords Author Page:

Abused and frightened, Juliette St. Claire has never
known love or kindness in her eighteen years.
Meeting Tristan LaRocque changes that,
infuriating her cruel boyfriend, Nathaniel Jensen.
But Tristan is powerless to help Juliette when merely trying
could result in her death.

As threats to her life intensify,
Juliette uncovers the mystical secrets
they have both kept from her,
and she must make some tough choices
about the men she thought she knew.

Fiercely passionate and profoundly riveting,
Sacred Blood is an outstanding story
that will leave you rethinking
love, friendship, and everything you hold dear.


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Life at Seventeen Syllables a Day Now Available!

I recently finished a year-long, self-imposed challenge to write a haiku every day for a year. I planned all along to publish the collection when it was done, and it's finally ready. It's called Life at Seventeen Syllables a Day: A Journal in Haiku. You can find the paper version at Createspace or Amazon; an eBook version is available here for $0.99. Please check it out, and if you enjoy it, I'd appreciate a review. Thanks!

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Five Tips for Writing (or Traveling) on a Train

I’m sure many of you have heard of Amtrak’s free writers’ retreat or even applied for it. While I haven’t applied, I recently rode from Chicago to Washington DC and back on an Amtrak train to take a family vacation. The train rides were the most productive parts of the trip for writing, but it’s not always easy to actually write on a train. Here are a few pieces of advice if you want to try writing on a train:

1.    Decide your budget, retreat time, and sleeping requirements in advance. – Longer trips mean more writing time, right? Not necessarily. If your trip is overnight, then you may find yourself in a car with quiet time. During this time, the overhead lights are off, and noise is discouraged. I think you’re still allowed to have your personal overhead light and equipment on, but you will need to sleep sometime. Can you sleep sitting up? If you’re in coach, you may have to. (If you can find two empty seats, then you can stretch out--or curl up. You are allowed to sleep in the observation car, but there are more distractions there too.) Sleeping cars are much more expensive. If you’d rather not sleep on the train, then you either need to choose a shorter trip or stay overnight at your destination before returning home. If you do want to sleep on the train, it may be helpful to bring your own pillow and blanket, as well as a sleeping mask and/or earplugs. You can buy them on the train if you forget them, but why not save money if you can?

2.    Decide what to bring.-- You can bring a laptop onto the train without any problems. (Checking in and boarding a train is much easier than a plane.) Even in coach, you’ll have outlets available, though not all trains provide Wi-Fi. (On the route we took, Internet signals were intermittent, since part of the time we rode through mountains and tunnels.) The train can be rocky at times, so it might not be a good choice for you if you write by hand. Snacks and bottled water are available on the train, but they can be expensive, so think ahead and bring your own if possible.  You can check bags and bring on two carry-ons per person.  If you’re traveling overnight, make sure to put hygiene items in a carry-on. It’s not a pleasant feeling to go for a long time without brushing your teeth.

3.    Feel free to move around if necessary.—Because you do need to eat, visit the bathroom, and take some breaks. After the conductor has checked your ticket, you’re free to move about the train. The seats are wider, and you have more legroom than you do if you’re on a plane. You can hang out in the observation car or visit the cafĂ©. It may be a bit disconcerting to pass from car to car while the train is moving, but it’s safer than it appears. Be prepared to steady yourself as you walk around, though.

4.    Be prepared to deal with distractions.—Even if you think depriving yourself of Internet access for a few hours will help you write, there are still conversations by other passengers, official announcements (you don’t want to miss your stop or your dinner reservation!), and unexpected stops that may distract you. Plus, depending on when and where you travel, you may want to watch the scenery. (I wrote this in the observation car and was lucky enough to see a rainbow.) Know what’s going to interfere with your writing and plan accordingly. That could mean bringing earplugs or earbuds or even shutting your curtain.  Oh, yeah, and if you’re traveling with a child or children, they can be distracting too, even if they’re well-behaved.

5.    Consider using the trip as research.—Perhaps you can combine the travel with a stop at a setting you want to experience first-hand. Or perhaps you want to get into the mindset of your characters as they journey from one place to another. Even people-watching on the train or in the station can give you ideas for characters. Remember, sometimes writers need to retreat for a while to write (or to stop and take pictures of their stuffed traveling companions), but you can’t retreat from life permanently.

Have you ever taken a train trip? If so, did you find it useful writing time? Do you have any questions about train travel? Please post in the comments. If you can’t sign in to comment, you can always e-mail me too.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Blog Ring of Power--Kelly Hashway

Today for the Blog Ring of Power, Kelly Hashway will tell us about her current work: Face of Death. You can find the rest of her interview at these links:

About You : The Writing Life : The Creative Process : Words of Wisdom

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

Face of Death is about a group of necromancers who are descended from Medusa and at war with Hades. It’s available for purchase wherever books are sold.

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

Face of Death (and the entire Touch of Death series, actually) show a very different Medusa. She’s motherly and would do anything to protect her descendents, who happen to be necromancers in a war against Hades.

What was the hardest part of writing this book? 

Since Face of Death is the final book in the series, it was very emotional for me to write. I didn’t want to say goodbye to Jodi, Alex, and the rest of the crew. The other tricky part was finding the best way to wrap up everyone’s stories. As the series progressed many of my minor characters developed stories of their own and I wanted to make sure they all got the endings they deserved.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book? 

No, I wouldn’t change anything. I think every book comes out the way it’s meant to. I know not every reader will agree with the choices I make, but I know in my heart that I’m doing what I feel is best for my characters.

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like? 

Kate Kaynak at Spencer Hill Press found the front cover image, which I love, but I really wanted Hades on this cover, too. So I found the image of Hades that’s used on the back cover. Luckily, Kate loved it as much as I did, and if you look at the full cover spread it looks like Jodi is looking over her shoulder at Hades, which is so appropriate since he’s always watching and waiting for her to screw up.

Kelly Hashway grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets.

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:
Amazon Author Page:

Having fallen at the hands of Hades, Jodi's enduring torture like she never imagined. Worse, she has to watch her Ophi friends suffer along with her—the punishment doled out by the very people she'd sentenced to life in Tartarus. Hell. This is one reunion Jodi hoped would never happen, but now she must find a way to free them all.

Except the underworld is nearly impossible to escape.

Jodi's one chance may rest in raising the human soul she killed when she drank Medusa's blood.

But splitting her human soul from her Ophi soul means living a double life: One as an Ophi experiencing unspeakable torture and the other as the human she could have been if she never came into her powers. With her two worlds colliding, Jodi will have to make the toughest decision she's faced yet.


Wednesday, April 02, 2014

April Issue of Indie Writers Monthly--Free 4/2--4/6

Our April Fool's issue of Indie Writers Monthly is now free for five days. In this issue, you can find an interview and short story by Rusty Carl, book reviews and marketing advice from me, and several other interesting features. You can download it here.

We are currently planning the May issue and are interested in accepting articles and ads from other writers. Please let me know if you're like to know more. Thanks!

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