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Good Morning! I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you have recovered from your turkey coma. Sigh...such great memories to recall. But now, back to the business of writing.

Visiting me today is Rebecca Ryals Russell, aka, the Yellow Hat Writer. Her debut novel, Seraphym Wars Odessa, is slated for release April 1, 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing. This book will be followed by several others throughout 2011. She’s been a very busy writer.

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Welcome Rebecca. Would you tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

I live in a Victorian house on five acres with my family. I also run a Vacation Rental Log House on the property (Florida Black Bear Cabin http://flablackbearcabin.com) It was in this cabin I wrote Odessa within 6 months. I am a fourth generation Floridian. Born in Gainesville (Central Fl), I grew up in Sunrise (South Florida), lived in Orlando for 8 years (Central Fl) and Jacksonville for 28 years (NE Fl) before settling outside Lake City (North Central Fl). The daughter of a school principal and school secretary, for fourteen years I taught Middle Grades, preferring English and Creative Writing. I had several students’ works published in anthologies.  My main interests are my four children, ages 22, 19, 16, 11 and Irish hubby of 35 years. I enjoy spending time writing, drawing, going to movies and reading. My favorite pastime is sitting on our wicker porch swing on a chilly Autumn evening with my husband and usually a kid or two, drinking a beer and eating mixed nuts while chatting about anything and everything.
 

What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

My all-time favorite book(s) are Lord of the Rings. I was in seventh grade when my Daddy introduced me to the series. I started with The Hobbit and moved on to read them all within months. Then Daddy brought home a 1000 piece puzzle of Middle Earth. When I finished it we mounted it and it hung in my bedroom until I left home. I wish I had that puzzle today. The effect that series had on me is clearly evident in my writing. My YA series, Seraphym Wars, is a quest Fantasy with elves and faeries, dragon-demons and strong characters. While writing each book I ask myself constantly, “Would this be in LOTR?” 

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

I write MG/YA Fantasy for several reasons. Firstly, it’s what I read. I don’t enjoy adult fiction as much as YA. Maybe I never grew up at heart because I always identify with the YA characters more. Secondly, I write for teens because I have 4 of them at home. All of my kids read – but NONE read Fantasy. I find that hilarious. In fact, NONE of them have read any of my books to date. Thirdly, because I taught MG for fourteen years, I know how teens think and what they say and feel. I try to incorporate that into my characters. My sixteen-year-old son gets so tired of me quizzing him on what’s happening at school, what are the trends, how would his friends react to such and such. 

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

The first book of the YA series Seraphym Wars will be released April 1, 2011 from MuseItUp Publishing. Odessa is the first of a five book series. So far, the Prequel, Conscientia, due out Sept 1, 2011 and Book 1 Odessa have release dates. Book 2 Harpies is at the publisher now being read.

The storyline for Seraphym Wars was 30 years in the making. I just didn’t have time (or gumption) to write it out, but it was always in the back of my head. When I retired from teaching I began writing it and six months later had a 250,000 word book. Obviously too long I split it in two and revised Odessa 6 times over the next 3 years until I was finally satisfied.

Jacket Flap:

18-year-old Myrna is drawn into the middle of an epic battle between Seraphym and Demons. An average High School student from Florida, struggling with inner demons resulting from a rape at sixteen, she wakes one morning on the Steampunk planet of Dracwald, home of the demon-dragons responsible for her brother’s recent murder as well as many other atrocities in the news. She meets sweet sensitive Michael, who explains that according to prophecy, Myrna must gather the remaining six Vigorios (teen warriors with special talents) then train with the Majikals on an enchanted island. He accompanies her on the quest. A roguish Scientist with suspect motives haunts her dreams, while a sensual dragon warrior defends her against her will.

Will love and lust, jealousy, greed, deceit and distrust break the delicate tie that binds these teen warriors called The Vigorios? Can a troupe of teens help the Seraphym finally defeat the massive empire of evil dominated for eons by the demon-dragons of Dracwald?

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Writing has given me new purpose after leaving the classroom. I tend to give 110% to whatever I do and when teaching I spent 80 hours a week, easily, making lessons interesting, grading work and in the classroom. Now I spend that time and more writing. My favorite part is I can do it from home. My desk is in the living room so I’m in the heart of the family area, everyone comes and goes, but I can still produce my work.

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Before I started writing I tried to think of good ideas for stories and couldn’t. Now that I’ve been writing daily for 4 years, the ideas won’t stop. My advice is Write Often to Write Well. And secondly, don’t second-guess what you’ve produced until it is as perfect as you can make it. If it takes 15 revisions to get the story or voice or characterization, Just Do It.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

It’s NEVER too early to start. If you wait until your book is published, you’ll be running backwards trying to catch up. I started building my platform, as it’s called, before the book was written. But it is only recently that people are recognizing my name. that’s four years of being very visible on the Internet. In fact, I think it was because of that visibility I got my first contract.

Today’s publishing world has changed and is still evolving. It is now the writer’s responsibility to promote yourself. A publisher wants to see that you are Internet and computer savvy and not afraid to put yourself out there. You need a website with a blog that you update at least weekly, twice a week is better. You need to belong to as many groups, website rings, forums and associations as you can find in your genre and BE ACTIVE on them. Get your name known. Brand yourself.

When I go to a writing conference, I wear my yellow hat to the keynote banquet. Why? Because that’s how people know me. And I have writers come up to me and say, “Hi, We’re friends on Twitter or Facebook or such and such forum.” And they knew me because I have branded myself as “The Yellow Hat Writer”. I have a separate website called http://yellowhatwriter.com and it’s only email signature banner, business cards and even used as a forum id in places.

Keep the same photo of yourself for everything. Don’t change your photo or use different ones for different sites. People will recognize you from the photo. Make it a good one and use only one.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

I’m all over the Internet. The best place to look first is my website/blog: http://rryalsrussell.com. I also have a grog (group blog) with several other MG/YA authors. We rotate postings about how to write aimed at Teens Who Write and Those Who Write for Teens. We have author interviews, news, hints, etc. http://teenwordfactory.com. Lastly readers can find me at http://facebook.com/rebeccaryalsrussell or http://facebook.com/myrnawatts; http://twitter.com/vigorio and http://myspace.com/rebeccaryalsrussell or http://goodreads.com/user/show/1941846-rebecca-ryals-russell. I love to make new friends!!

My book can be seen at https://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=64&category_id=6&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1. If you want to buy the book, you can hit the ‘Notify Me’ button and when it’s available you’ll get an email to go and buy it.

Watch for all of my other books to come available as well at http://museituppublishing.com/musepub/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=98&Itemid=82 or my website http://rryalsrussell.com

April 1, 2011      Odessa, YA series Seraphym Wars  http://seraphymwars.com

July 1, 2011      Zarena, MG series Stardust Warriors   http://stardustwarriors.com

Sept 1, 2011     Conscientia, Seraphym Wars

Oct 1, 2011       Don’t Make Marty Mad (adult horror story)

Nov 1, 2011      Jeremiah, Stardust Warriors

Feb 1, 2012       Laman, Stardust Warriors

These have been submitted to the publisher:

TBA                  Harpies, Seraphym Wars

TBA                  Mercy, Stardust Warriors

TBA                  Magaelbash, Stardust Warriors

Thanks for joining us today, Rebecca.

C.K. Volnek
 
 
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Please welcome to my blog today, Author Marva Dasef. Marva is a writer living in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and a fat white cat.  Retired from thirty-five years in the software industry, she has now turned her energies to writing fiction and finds it a much more satisfying occupation.  Marva has published more than thirty-five stories in a number of on-line and print magazines, with her stories included in several Best of anthologies. She has five published books.  See a complete list of her work at http://marvadasef.com/

We’re glad to have you with us today, Marva. (Marva also has a surprise for the readers who visit. Be one of the first four to respond to my contest and receive a free e-book.)

C.K. Volnek

Hi Marva. Please tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

My favorite character is Eddie in “Tales of the Texas Boy.” That's says something about myself too, since Eddie is my father. Tales contains stories based on my father's remembrances of growing up in West Texas in the Depression Era. I like Eddie since building his persona allowed me to envision my father as a kid and to bring his stories to life.

The most interesting thing about me cannot be related to the public. Not criminal, but I have been called a legend in my own time. Ponder that and use your imagination.


What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

You're asking me to take the way-back machine here. Of course, the use of the term way-back machine dates me.

The most influential book I read as a teen was Robert Heinlein's “Stranger in a Strange Land.” It introduced me to science fiction, and I've been hooked, lined, and sinkered ever since.

I have written a few science fiction pieces and do a credible space opera, but some of the SF writers like Clarke, Asimov, or even Heinlein leave me in the dust.


Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

Genre? Singular? Ha! I have written some of everything except erotica. My latest book, “Ultimate Duty,” does have some adult (ahem) scenes, but is mainly science fiction. I have published fantasy, adventure, horror, science fiction, romance, western, memoir. Like I said something for everyone.

 

Tell us about your books.

Because you're an MG/YA author, rather than talking about my new book (Ultimate Duty, an adult science fiction romance), I'd like to list my middle-grade books, which are available in both ebook and print formats.  Everybody's in luck since I've put on a half price sale for the ebooks. Here are some quickie blurbs, the link to the sale book, and the coupon codes to use to get the discount.

Eagle Quest (MG adventure): Take four teens, an old Ranger, and a couple of eagle feather poachers. What have you got? Adventure! Set in the Klamath Wildlife Preserves of southern Oregon. Coupon FQ97G for 99 cents at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/13407

Quest for the Simurgh (MG fantasy): When the village magician goes missing, his students set out on a dangerous trip into the mountains and run into a big trouble from demons and gods set for a war to end the world. Coupon QF84E for $1.50 at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3255

Tales of a Texas Boy (all ages, humorous memoir): Little Eddie tells some almost true Tall Tales set in West Texas of the 1930s. Guess what's true and what Eddie fudged on. Was it about the bear? Cage McNatt's prize sow? The skunk in the cornpatch? Guaranteed for a chuckle. Coupon BC99R for $1.50 at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/3816

First Duty (YA Science Fiction): Nyra Hutchings, a young woman born into a life of servitude on a repressive factory planet, is desperate for a different life. When she's accepted into the Space Service Academy, run by the organization that enslaves her planet, she discovers the truth behind generations of rebellion. Now, she must decide what to believe, where her first duty lies, and fight for more than her life against impossible odds. Coupon CX34J for $1.50 at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/4628

And one more thing, C.K. Volnek has ebook copies of all four books to give away at her discretion. Available formats are the same as with the links above.


How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Since I wrote technical documentation for a good chunk of my life, I'd say it affected my life by earning a nice living. But once I retired from that, I work full-time as a fiction writer. Best part: I set my own hours. Worst part: I don't make much money.


What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

Don't throw out anything. If you're not happy with your WIP or just can't move on with it, do NOT hit Delete. Put everything aside in a virtual junk box, then go back to it later. You might very well find the key to the story when you return weeks or even months later. 


Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

Can they give me any advice? I just try to appear as many places as I can on the internet. Thankfully, authors help each other out by providing a little advertising space. So, I owe you a blog post!

As for seeking publication, be sure to do your homework and never ever ever pay a publisher money to get published. No print fees, no “sharing” the costs, nada. Not a penny.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

My website: http://marvadasef.com

My blog: http://mgddasef.blogspot.com

My FaceBook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/MarvaDasef

Twitter: http://twitter.com/Gurina

Youtube book trailer for Tales of a Texas Boy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUBq1QNtEso

I'm also the member of a dozen or so writers' groups. The above are the main ones you can find out about my writing endeavors.

I'd like to thank C.K. Volnek for being such a gracious hostess today.


Thanks so much for joining us today Marva. Now, for the readers that have made it to the end. Marva mentioned she has free e-books for me to offer here on my blog. So, I will offer these great reads to the first four people who send me an e-mail and tell me who Marva’s favorite character is... please send the e-mail to: ckvolnek@yahoo.com and title the subject: Marva Dasef’s free read.

C.K. Volnek
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-Eagle Quest by Marva Dasef

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First Duty by Marva Dasef

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-Quest For The Simurgh by Marva Dasef

 
 
Greetings all,

Thanksgiving is upon us, conjuring up memories of family and feasts. Such wonderful thoughts. So much to be joyful for. I’m posting a piece today that I wrote several years back and had accepted by
Chicken Soup for the Family Soul. It's a special piece as I remember and treasure the memories of my children, family and friends. I pray for each and everyone of you to have a most blessed Thanksgiving holiday as you celebrate 'just another day.'

                                                                                           Just Another Day
                                                             by Charlotte “Charlie” Volnek

Is it morning already? I rub my eyes and get up to ready myself for just another day. It's just another day...I look out my window to see the sun beaming down, caressing the Earth with its golden rays. Above, white clouds float in the brilliant blue sky. I hear a cardinal singing to his mate as he perches upon my back fence. And a bed of crocus open their purple heads to the heavens in joyful thankfulness.

It's just another day. My small daughter bursts into the room, her giggle ringing through the house as she hugs my neck tightly. Her small hand fits into mine as she pulls me to the kitchen to show me the card she has made. A stick figure with curly brown hair waves from the paper and beneath it, written in purple crayon are the words, "I love you, Mommy."

It's just another day as I stand quietly and watch a handicapped child. He struggles to get his special walker over the curb, but it won't budge. A well-meaning teacher offers assistance, but he brushes her away. With determination, he conquers the curb and is off to laugh and play with his friends. I weep inside for his handicap, but I am inspired by his courage. And I smile as I watch the children play, totally accepting their friend for who he is, not judging him for what he lacks.

It's just another day. My son proudly presents the report he did for school. He shares with me the hopes and dreams he holds for his future. His curiosity and excitement are contagious as we unfold the limitless possibilities that lay before him. I am encouraged that no dream is beyond our reach if we want it bad enough.

It's just another day. My beloved wraps his arms around me and surrounds me in love. I turn to look in the eyes that share my innermost feelings. What a special friend I have. Someone who loves me for who I am. Someone to lean on when I feel down. Someone to share my happiness. Someone to love.

Yes, it is just another day. A day to enjoy God's gracious beauty upon this Earth. A day to kiss the cherub cheeks of my children, and share in their hopes and dreams. A day to learn the value of determination and hard work. A day to learn the value of judging mankind for the quality he has, not what he has not. A day to learn the value of love.

Yes, it's just another day, I sigh. The stars dance in the velvet sky as a full yellow moon smiles cheerfully down. The house is quiet and still. The only sound is the soft even breathing of my spouse. I recall the scripture: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." (Psalm 118:24) And as I lay at the side of my soul mate I pray that God will let me see "just another day"!

God Bless!
C.K. Volnek
 
 
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Greetings,

Today I would like to welcome Ginger Simpson to my blog. She is an accomplished author and her current YA Novel, Shortcomings, will be released in March 2011 by MuseItUp Publishing. She says in her bio...

 “I truly recognized a dream with the publication of my first book, but my real hope is to see my work more readily available to the general public. With the sudden growth of e books, I feel encouraged.. Approaching true senior citizen status, I remind myself that a person is never too old to achieve their goals.  Grandma Moses is my heroine.”

Welcome Ginger.

Greetings Ginger. Tell your readers something interesting about yourself AND/OR your favorite character.

I’ve been published for over ten years now, and I decided to try my hand at writing YA.  I was surprised at how much I enjoyed looking at the work through my heroine’s POV in Shortcomings.

What was your favorite book as a teen? Tell us about it and how it affected you as a person.

Anything written by Laura Ingalls Wilder was a favorite.  If we could access the library check-out cards today, I’d bet my name would be on each book at least three times.

Tell us about the genre you have chosen to write for. Why do write specifically for them?

Although experts say you should stick to one genre and make it your brand, I’ve stretched the boundaries.  I consider myself mainly an historical writer, but  I can’t deny writing whatever story my characters have to tell, so I listen and type like the wind.  All my stories, except for one, have been character driven.  I tried writing totally on my own, and it was the toughest book I’ve written yet.  I like listening to the voices in my head.

Tell us about your new book. How did it come about and share your favorite excerpt/scene.

Shortcomings, which is scheduled for release in March from Muse It Up Publishing is my first attempt at YA.  I believe there is a little of each author in the work they offer up, and after the fact, I realized that drew on some of my own teenage experiences to pump up the emotion.  In my story, heroine, Cindy Johnson faces life with a defect that defines who she is and what she can accomplish.  Dealing with the harsh comments and stares from strangers drivers her further into seclusion, until she dares venture out, make a friend and learn that she’s so much more than just a person with a short limb.

Let me set the scene for you.  Cindy has agreed to help tutor the star quarterback of her high school’s football team so he doesn’t lose his position over bad grades.  Hanging out with the most handsome boy in school is definitely a perk, but a little voice in her head tells her that he could never be interested in her for anything more.

EXCERPT:

Cindy gently closed the front door, but the squeaking hinges announced her arrival. Her mother appeared from the kitchen, wiping her hands on her apron. “There you are. I was beginning to worry about you.”

Cindy shed her backpack and stashed it at the end of the couch. “Sorry. I should have let you know I’d be later than usual. I did a little tutoring in the library.” 

Her mother’s brow rose in a suspicious arc. “Does this have anything to do with the phone call you got the other night?” 

“Actually, it does. Cory Neil needed help with his math and asked me to meet him after school. I’m going to tutor him on the nights he doesn't have football practice. Is that all right?”

“Cory Neil, huh?” A teasing gleam sparkled in her eye. “I hear tell he’s the football team’s handsome quarterback.”

“Yes, Mother, it’s true, but don’t make anything out of this. He needs help with his math, and that’s all.”  How could Momma assume Cory would be interested in a cripple?

“Well, he called you didn’t he?  Besides, I heard while at the grocery story there’s a big dance coming up soon. You never know—”

“Stop it, Momma!  Cory can have his pick of any girl at school. Why in the world would he want to be seen with me?  For heaven sakes," her voice trembled. "I don’t even know how to dance. His interest in me is purely educational.”   Tears of frustration filled Cindy’s eyes. She limped off to her bedroom and slammed the door behind her.

Within a few seconds, there was a light knock. “Cindy, may I come in. I didn’t mean to upset you. I’m sorry.”

Cindy lay across the bed on her stomach. She swiped the moisture from her cheeks, sat, and pulled her feet up under her. “Come in.”

“I’m so sorry, sweetheart. I just—”

“I know. I’m okay. Honest.” Cindy blinked back tears. “I grow so tired of being odd man out all the time. I know it isn't your fault, but why couldn't I have been born with both legs the same length, like everyone else?”

Her mother perched on the edge of the bed and put her arm around Cindy. “You’re so beautiful. Don’t you know that?  Just look at yourself.”  Reaching across to the dresser, her mom snatched the hand mirror and held it up to Cindy’s face. “Look at those beautiful blue eyes… and that long blonde hair. You don’t even have to worry about curling it. Your skin is flawless… and my goodness, you have the most beautiful teeth in the family—so straight and white. Why can’t you see what I see?  Your defect doesn’t define who you are. We all have our shortcomings.”

Cindy peered at the mirror. Shortcomings?  What an appropriate word. Tears peppered her cheeks. She plucked a tissue from the box on her nightstand, dried her eyes and tried to focus on the things her mother described. The deformity blurred her image. It didn’t matter what the glass reflected, it didn’t tell the whole story.

How has writing affected your life? And what’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Being retired is not all it’s cracked up to be.  I miss interacting with friends, students, and associates, and writing has given me a platform for making new friends and colleagues.  Writing is also an outlet.  When my day doesn’t turn out right, I can let my heroine scream, stamp her feet, even kill someone, and it’s all legal and I don’t suffer the consequences.  *lol*

What advice can you give regarding the writing process?

The rules are ever-changing.  Join a good critique group and polish your story as best you can.  Once you submit to a publisher and get a contract, you’ll be assigned an editor who will undoubtedly contradict everything you thought you knew.  *lol*  The learning never stops.

Regarding publication and marketing, what advice can you offer aspiring writers?

I gave a workshop at the Muse On-Line Conference about the pitfalls of publishing.  I can’t stress enough the importance of researching any publisher you consider.  There are resources on the web for finding out dirty little secrets and avoiding entering into a union that makes getting a divorce look like a cakewalk.  Your best bet is asking authors already contracted there.  If they aren’t happy, they’ll let you know.

How can your fans find, follow or friend you?

I’ve been doing this for a number of years, so if a person new to writing Googled my name, I’m sure they might be a tad impressed with how many places I’m found.  Here are just a few links:

http://www.gingersimpson.com

http://mizging.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/mizging

http://www.twitter.com/mizging

and of course, my Amazon Page:  http://tinyurl.com/29mobur 

I’d like to thank my hostess for allowing me time and space on her blog.  This is what teamwork is all about.  
 
 
Life After Vacation

I’m sorry to have shirked my blog but I’ve just returned from a lovely vacation in Italy. My husband and I celebrated time with our oldest son and daughter-in-law stationed there but alas there was little time to internet access.

Life after vacation can be somewhat melancholy. I feel myself floating somewhere between the levels of dreams and reality. My head is a mass of whirling memories. Pompeii, Mount Vesuvius, Churches, Castles, Rome, the Vatican, the Coliseum, Palantine Hill, the Parthenon, Trevie Fountain, Assisi, Capua, Cuma… All breathtaking, beautiful, charming, and oh so mind-boggling… to be able to see and feel all these wonderful pieces of faith and history.

My hands and eyes were busy snapping photos of the sights, but my ears were filled with the multitudes of characters whispering to me, enticing me with future stories….a guard in the Castle Nuovo, a young vestal virgin struggling to keep love at bay on Palantine Hill, a mother rushing to protect her children as the ashes of Vesuvius rained over Pompeii. Oh, my muse is having fun and looking forward to the stories to come from my adventures in Italy. I hope you enjoy a few of the photos and maybe characters from the past will whisper to you as well.

Ciao.

C.K. Volnek
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The Colesseum in Rome.

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Constantine's Gate

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On the road to Palatine Hill. The columns of the Temple of Apollo.

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Castle Nuovo in Naples

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St. Helena, Constantine's mother. After converting him to christianity, he sent her to locate all the Holy Sites in Israel.

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The ruins of Pompeii

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Christmas Alley in Naples. Italy up close and personal.