Friday, April 26, 2013

Kay LaLone's Writing Pet Peeve

Author, Kay LaLone

My writing pet peeve
Hi, I’m Kay LaLone author of Ghostly Clues. My first middle grade novel and I hope not my last. Everyone has a pet peeve, right? My pet peeve is people’s attitude or misconception they have about writers. Most people I know think writing is just a hobby, not a job or a career. Writing is hard work. I have worked years on my craft and have written many stories that might not ever get published. But that is not why I write. I write because I love to write and I have a story to tell whether I ever get another book published or not. (Hopefully I do) To me writing is a career, a job.
I’m a stay-at-home mom which is a job that I love also. I have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law (still waiting on grandchildren) and a teenage son still at home. Writing and mothering are very similar because first I must learn to listen to my characters just like I listen to my children. I need to know them, now what they want and need. Once I know my characters, then I’m able to tell their story. Just like my children, my characters need to grow. How do my characters grow? I put them into situations, conflicts, and problems. There have been many problems my children have gone through that have taught them and as a result they have grown. When my characters have grown and are ready, I send them out into the world. Just like my two older sons.  My teen is still learning and growing.
So it bothers me when people think writing is just a hobby and not a career. People don’t realize that writing is hard work especially when my characters aren’t talking to me. (I’ve been there plenty of times with my kids) Then once I do get a rough draft, there is like what a million revisions to go through before I feel it is ready to send to a publisher. Once I send my masterpiece out (we all write masterpieces, right?), then comes the rejections, and then more revisions before I get the courage to send it back out. Then a magical day happens and there is a publisher who wants to publish my story. (thank you MuseItUp) Happy dance time before back to work on edits. Publication day comes and my book is out there for the world so see. How exciting. My job is done. I can sit back and relax while the money rolls in. Umm … no. Now it is promoting time. Getting the attention of my readers to read my book is hard work. Sometimes I find it hard to work on my next project, but I do.
So people can’t tell me that writing is just a hobby. To me my writing is a career and that is the way I look at it. I work at my writing everyday. And I know someday, my attitude will help my friends and family understand that yes writing is a career. It may take a lifetime to make any money at my career. But one of these days, I hope to make a living off my writing. If I don’t make a lot of money, I’ll continue to write because just like being Mom I love to tell my characters stories. Believe me. My characters have a lot of stories to tell.
Thank you, Victoria, for hosting me on your blog.
Media Kit for Ghostly Clues


The sweet scent of lilacs permeates the air around Grandma’s gravesite. Only Sarah Kay can smell Grandma’s favorite flower, and they’re not even in bloom. 
Sarah Kay and her best friend, Mary Jane, believe the lilacs are a sign from Grandma’s ghost. The girls follow one ghostly clue after another, uncovering a secret that Mom never wanted Sarah Kay to know.
Grandma makes sure Sarah Kay gets the message even from the grave. As the evidence piles up, Mom still refuses to accept the possibility Sarah Kay’s father is alive.
Sarah Kay finds Dad’s parents. A set of grandparents she didn’t realize existed. They make it clear her father is alive but days and miles separate the father and daughter reunion because Dad is a truck driver on a long haul. 
Sarah Kay waits. The news reports a fatal car accident involving a semi and Sarah Kay fears the worse. She runs away which leads to Dad and the truth, Mom wanted Dad to remain dead.
Dad had faked his death so why not just stay dead.  The ghostly clues of Grandma wouldn’t allow Dad to remain dead to Sarah Kay.

The house was blanketed in a quiet slumber. I snuggled under the sleeping bag with Allison, trying not to think about ghosts, as I drifted to sleep.
Random pictures floated in my mind like ghostly images.
I tiptoed among tombstones and my heart ached as if I had lost something or someone. He had to be here, somewhere. The gravestones rose like stone walls. No names engraved on them. No dates. No R.I.P. Nothing. Just smooth, flat stones. Ghosts—grayish, smoky forms with black eyes—floated over the tombstones.  I shivered, suddenly cold, freezing. My breath visible like a little ghost. I didn’t want to look at the ghost anymore so I looked down at my feet. A tombstone with Grandma’s name appeared out of nowhere. The earth moved. The dirt around the headstone broke away and gnarled fingers clawed their way into the air, searching, grasping. Shriveled fingers clutched my leg.  
Something grabbed at my leg—the hand, I screamed and frantically wiggled out of my sleeping bag, bumping MJ as I tried to get away from the hand I thought I felt grab at my leg.

I’m Kay LaLone. Ghostly Clues is my first middle grade novel published by MuseItUp. I live in Michigan with my husband and teenage son (two older sons and a daughter-in-law live near by) and two dogs and a cat. I love to get up every morning and write about ghosts, the paranormal, and anything that goes bump in the night. Or anything that interest my characters. Making my characters come to life for readers is important to a good story. I’m an avid reader of just about any type of book. I do reviews on the books I read and post them on my website and blog.

My website
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Demon in Blue Jeans by Toni V Sweeney

Welcome author, Toni V Sweeney.

With a Song in My Head…Can a Story be Far Behind?

Somebody’s knockin’, should I let him in
Lord, it’s the Devil, would you look at him
I’ve heard about him, but I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans

Words and Lyrics by
Edward Penney, Jr / Jerry Gillespie

Recorded by Terri Gibbs - 1980
© Warner/Chappell Music, Inc.

Does anyone remember that song?  I certainly do. ’Way back in 1980, I listened to it day after day on Station KRNY in Kearney, Nebraska while I was working as a doctor’s assistant.  It conjured visions in my mind of a knock-out blue-eyed hunk tapping on someone’s door and the young woman in question peering through the peep-hole at him and wondering whether or not she should open the door.

The description she gives of her would-be called would make anyone definitely want to open the door. Blue eyes…blue jeans… I kept imagining him as having blond hair, too…a definitely drool-worthy dude.

What could I do?  I had to write the story…and it wasn’t going to be a serious one. How could it?

Nevertheless, when I finished, it wasn’t a novel as I’d expected but a short story.  Very short…28 pages, as a matter of fact. It was a fun write and a fun read and it got some good reviews when it was published as a Black Rose novella by The Wild Rose Press. One reviewer even said she wished I’d gone into more detail and made it longer. So after the contract ran its course and I received back the Rights, I did just that.  I revised, re-edited, and re-wrote. I expounded on Zel, going more into his background…and I gave Satan—the “Big Boss”—a very prominent part in the proceedings.  It still isn’t a novel, but I did come out of it with a novella.  Class Act Books has it scheduled for release within the next couple of months.

“…suspend your belief and get carried away with a total fantasy. And Toni V. Sweeney definitely delivers with Demon in Blue Jeans.”

--Margaret Marr. Nights and Weekends

“I hope Ms. Sweeney has more stories like this because sometimes we all want the short, quirky, fun books to lighten up our day!”—Fallen Angel Reviews
DEMON IN BLUE JEANS provides rollicking fun mixed with heady emotion and enthusiastic sex – a perfect combination!”—Dark Angel Reviews

Kate Carter has always considered herself a good girl, but she’s also a very lonely one because of that fact.  One night, she does something rash…she asks the Devil to send her his baddest Bad Boy, all for her own.
        What Kate gets however is Zel, an underachieving incubus, who’s in line for evaluation.  Zek’s failed every review he’s had for the last ten thousand years, and Kate’s his last hope for promotion.  This assignment is one he’s desperate to pass.
        What follows is a night of passion neither mortal nor demon can forget and that leads to complications…as Kate and Zel realize they’ve fallen in love…and that the Devil had plans for both of them…

“…suspend your belief and get carried away with a total fantasy. And Toni V. Sweeney definitely delivers with Demon in Blue Jeans.”

--Margaret Marr. Nights and Weekends


“Wasn’t that a great movie?” Kate slid into the booth beside Selena. It was a lovely late spring afternoon. She and her friends were lucky to have a four-day work-week and as was their usual Friday routine, they had just left the Ritz Theater, where the latest horror movie was playing and were now at their favorite burger barn.
“Yeah!” Audrey agreed breathlessly, waving at a passing waitress who skidded to a stop and trotted over. “I just looove Sean Donovan.”
Oooh, ooh!” Jennie mocked, clutching her clasped hands to her heart and rolling her eyes upward. “Don’t we just love those Bad Boys?”
“Oh, yeah,” Audrey went on. Her gaze roved over the menu. “Especially those Bad Boys Turned Vampire.
“Huh, not me,” Selena declared, pulling the menu from Audrey’s hands and studying it intently. “I don’t want a bad boy of any kind.”
“Well, I certainly do,” Kate replied. “Mister Sean can put his shoes under my bed any time…fangs and all.”
“I suppose that’d be all right,” Audrey smirked.  “If his shoes are the ones with the fangs, and not the man himself.” She was always correcting her friend’s grammar, much to their irritation.
The debate, about motion pictures, movie stars in general, and bad boys, in particular, especially the paranormal kind, continued. Most of it centered around the movie they’d seen that night. It was a minor epic with a plot about a young hood possessed by a demon. After many transformations and some very excellent special effects involving the hero’s gratuitous semi-nudity and a generous display of six-pack abs, he meets a sweet little social worker. Demon is exorcized by pure love amid fantastic explosion, clinch, closing credits.
“Girl, how can you say that?” Selena stared at her. “Are you saying you’d like to be treated like the girl in that movie? I mean…he was so hateful to her, even when he wasn’t a demon.”
“Oh, I agree.” Kate smiled. “Still…when they got together? Did you see those sparks? Yee-Hah!” The others snickered as she gave a loud theatrical sigh. “He’s so handsome, all that red hair and those green eyes…”
“Wouldn’t touch ’em,” Selena stated. “I always remember what my Granny told me…A red-headed man is the Devil’s own chile.
That earned her a scornful laugh.
“I’ll take him, if you won’t. In fact, I’ll put in a Special Order, right now.” Kate raised her hands, dramatically clasped in supplication. “Ole Debbil Satan, send me your baddest Bad Boy, ’cause I’m ready and waitin’ and definitely willin’!”
There was a bright flash of lighting, illuminating the sky to an eye-blinding brightness. A clap of thunder followed, so violent the glass in the little restaurant’s windows rattled. The liquid in Kate’s cup splashed onto the tabletop.
“Wow!” Kate glanced out the window, looking upward at the sky. “Is it starting to rain?”
“Not a chance,” answered Selena, picking up her burger. She snapped a napkin out of the dispenser and handed it to Kate who took it and began to mop up the spilled soda. “That was just the Devil, granting your wish. Now, eat your fries. They’re getting cold.”

GIVEAWAY: Comment and get your name in the hat to receive a download of My Lord Ax, part of the Lovers of Leonesse series, the story of the tempestuous lord and very spoiled lady founding the ruling family of Leonesse.

Bio and links:

Toni V. Sweeney has lived 30 years in the South, a score in the Middle West, and a decade on the Pacific Coast and now she’s trying for her second 30 on the Great Plains. An accomplished artist as well as writer, she has a degree in Fine Art and a diploma in Graphic Art and produces book videos as well as writing. Since the publication of her first novel in 1989, Toni divides her time between writing SF/Fantasy under her own name and romances often set in the South under her pseudonym Icy Snow Blackstone.   In March, 2013, she became publicity manager for Class Act Books (US) and also Double Dragon Publishing (Canada). She reviews books for TwoLips Reviews and is also on the review staff of the New York Journal of Books. She recently had her 27th book published and has six more scheduled for release in 2013.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary: First Round of Edits Done

Big sigh of relief...I think! I have returned the first round of edits for Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary to my editor at Muse It Up Publishing. In the battle of good and evil, it’s Heaven checking into “The Big House Inn”, but Hell checking out.

In August, be among the first to get notified when Haunting of Ingersull Penientiary is available.

A debt of gratitude to my “First Look Readers”,
my sister and paranormal investigator Helen Henkel, Debra Shadawald-Kohler, Faith Heeg, Kim Frome, author Valerie Patterson, Amy Schunk and Becky Schmelzer.  

Friday, April 5, 2013

Author Debbie Roppolo

My Very First Guest
I would like to welcome my first guest, Debbie Roppolo to my blog. Debbie is the talented children's author of The Amelia Frump Series.

 I'm Here To Catch You
By: Debbie Roppolo 

I shivered and jumped in place, trying to regain feeling in my feet. I’d only been in line ten minutes, and already the autumn night breeze had turned me into a living popsicle.

“Sweetheart, please.  It’s too chilly out here,” Mama said, taking my hand. “Let’s go back to your classroom.”

I jerked away, ignoring protests from the other children as I pushed back into line.  “It’s not my fault,” I pouted.  “You’re the one who wanted me to be a ballerina.  The costume I wanted was a lot warmer.”

My mother rubbed her temples.  “I’ve told you before, little girls don’t dress as Spiderman.  But that’s not the point.  It’s cold, and if you stay out here, you’re gonna get sick again.”

The previous year, in kindergarten, I’d been hospitalized with pneumonia.  Even though becoming a human pin cushion and a disposal for medication wasn’t among my favorite things, nothing would budge me from my place in line.

I frowned and shook my head.  “No.  I’m gonna do this,” I said, pointing at the pony ride.  “And there are just a few more people in front of me.”  We had ponies at home, but this ride was special.

Mama closed her eyes and exhaled. “Okay, ten more minutes, and that’s it.”

I didn’t understand what changed her mind.  Perhaps it’s because she knew the real reason for my stubbornness, or maybe she couldn’t resist an I-told-you-so lecture if I became ill.

I rocked from one foot to the other as the line inched forward.  I glanced over my shoulder, hoping that Mama, caught in a wave of maternal regret, didn’t yank me inside sooner than expected. 

Finally, I reached the front of the line.  The attendant, a distinguished, middle-aged man, smiled and winked at me.   “Well,” he drawled.   “What do we have here, an angel, or a fairy princess?”

I giggled and threw my arms around him, burying my nose in the collar of his duster, enjoying the intermingling scents of Stetson and horses.  “You know it’s me, Daddy.”

“So it is.” He frowned at the sight of my slipper-clad feet.  “Not exactly the right shoes for riding.  Mind that your feet don’t go all the way through the stirrups,” he said, helping me onto a bored sorrel pony.  “But I don’t need to tell you how to ride.”

As the ponies plodded in a circle, my saddle began sliding sideways. I leaned to the right, hoping my shifted weight would straighten it. The pony turned its head and stared at me, a malicious gleam in its eye.  Every few steps, it bounced its back feet off the ground, causing the saddle to slip further.  I gulped and grabbed onto the saddle horn; soon I would be tasting concrete.

The sound of Daddy yelling whoa rang in my ears as I felt strong hands grabbing my waist.  My father sat me on a nearby hay bale.  “Looks like you were  in a pickle.  No need to tell Mama what happened, she worries enough.” 

I threw myself into Daddy’s arms.  “I…I was so scared,” I wailed.  “I thought that mean pony was gonna smush me like a cupcake.” 

My father smiled and wiped away the tears.  “No need to worry,” he said.  “You should’ve known I would be there to catch you.” 

Throughout my childhood, Daddy not only caught me in the physical sense, but metaphorically as well.

The son of a farmer during the Depression, my father believed life was filled with adversity; but coupled with determination and faith, hardships could be overcome.  It was the philosophy he practiced every day, and it was this lesson that helped me cope with his untimely death, and years later, discovering my youngest son, Joseph, was autistic.

A few months after his sixth birthday, against my better judgment, I gave in to Joseph’s pleading when he chose the pony ride at a local Fall carnival. “Are you sure you wanna do this?” I whispered.  “This isn’t like riding the plastic horse at the grocery store.”

Joseph frowned and nodded his head.  “Watch this.” 

Puffing his chest out, he handed the pony attendant a ticket, then mounted the biggest horse in the circle. My child resembled a wad of forgotten bubble gum on the back of the leggy Welsh pony. 

Smiling, he squealed and flapped, a characteristic of autistic children.  My heart plunged, along with Joseph’s bravado as the sorrel pony whinnied, and crab-stepped nervously.  

Pulse racing, I flung the gate open and pushed past the attendant.  “I’m helping him,” I said, pointing at Joseph.  The distance between us seemed ever-widening as I made my way across the trampled sawdust to my child.

“It’s okay,” I soothed, patting Joseph’s knee.  “I’m here to catch you, always.”  And I will be, just as my father had for me.

Debbie Roppolo is an award-winning writer and the author of the Amelia Frump series (released by DWB Children's Line). She resides in the Texas Hill Country with her husband and two children.

For more info about Debbie, please visit: