Thursday, May 30, 2013

Play the What If Game with Author, K.L. Pickett

The “What If?” Game
with Author, K.L. Pickett
            Like many authors, I’m often asked, “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of my stories start out with one simple question: What if?...
            That’s how my middle-grade science fiction eBook SEVENTH GRADE (ALIEN!) HERO began. After watching a falling star (which is really a meteor), I asked myself “What if someone were to find that meteorite? And what if the meteorite turned out to be a tiny spaceship? My story was off and running!
            As a fourth grade teacher, one of my major tasks is to help students become good writers. It never fails when I give my students a topic to write about, one of them says, “But I can’t think of anything to write!”
            That’s when I play the “What if?” game with them. It’s a game I play with myself when I write a story. For example, here is a possible writing prompt: Write a short story about being lost. The “What If?” game might go like this:
Start with the setting:
·        What if I got lost in a mall?
·        What if I got lost in a forest?
·        What if I got lost in an amusement park?
·        What if I got lost in a haunted house?
·        What if I get lost on another planet?
After you have decided on a setting, think about why you got lost:
·        What if I stopped to tie my shoe and my family went on without me?
·        What if I was camping and went to fetch some wood?
·        What if I was visiting a friend and he ditched me as we rode our bikes?
·        What if a bully was chasing me?
·        What if I ran away from home?
Next think about the characters in your story:
·        What if you’re lost by yourself?
·        What if you’re lost with a dog or cat or horse?
·        What if you’re lost with someone you hate?
·        What if you’re lost with a young sister or brother?
·        What if you’re lost with a space alien?
You might also want to think about the time and weather:
·        What if you’re lost during a tornado or hurricane?
·        What if you’re lost late at night?
·        What if you’re lost when it’s really hot?
·        What if you’re lost and it snows?
·        What if you’re lost for several days?
Another thing to think about is how you’ll solve the problem of being lost:
·        What if you follow your dog (cat, dog, horse) home?
·        What if you climb a tree to see where you are?
·        What if you wait until morning?
·        What if find a safe place to stay until after the storm?
·        What if you work with your enemy to come up with a plan?
Finally, look back at all of the ideas you came up with. Choose an interesting setting. Pick a reason for being lost. Decide if you’re lost by yourself or with someone else. Select a time of day and the type of weather. Figure out how you solve your problem.
            Now you have everything you need to write a great story. All that’s left to do is to write it down.
So never again can you say, “I can’t think of anything to write.” Just play the “What If?” game, and you’ll have more ideas than stars in the sky!

K.L. Pickett
By MuseItUp Publishing

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary

Cover Reveal...
Haunting of Ingersull Penitentiary
It may be Heaven checking into "The Big House Inn", but it's Hell checking out! 

Coming in August 2013
Sign up at Muse to be notified when it releases!

I am so excited about this book and a big thank you to Muse It Up Publishing Staff, Editor Nancy Bell, Line Editor Greta Gunselman and Cover Artist Marion Sipe. A big debt of gratitude to my sisters, paranormal investigator Helen Henkel, and my number one cheerleader Tammy Erdmann. Thank you to my “First Look Readers”,
Debra Shadawald-Kohler, Faith Heeg, Kim Frome, Amy Schunk, Becky Schmelzer and author, Valerie Patterson. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Susan Royal, author of In My Own Shadow

     Welcome to my guest author, Susan Royal!

   Thank you so much for having me here today, Vicki. It’s a pleasure to get the chance to talk about something I love, writing.  It’s hard to believe all the work involved in getting In My Own Shadow ready is done!! I have to say I’m almost as excited as I was when Not Long Ago, my time travel/romance/adventure debuted in June 2012. The entire process went as smooth, if not smoother than it did the first time, probably because I knew what to expect this time around.

     Now, let me give you a little peek at In My Own Shadow, a fantasy, adventure/romance.
     Talk about the worst day ever! Lara lets her friend Carrie talk her into a blind date, only it turns out the handsome stranger waiting for Lara after work isn’t Carrie’s cousin after all. And, when they’re chased through a portal to another world, Lara realizes Rhys really is out of this world.
     Lyra, her alternate in another dimension, has left clues to the whereabouts of the Book of Secrets that explains the mystery of time travel in Lara’s subconscious. Or so Rhys thinks. Power-hungry telepaths pursuing them will stop at nothing to get it, even if it means breaking Lara’s mind. To complicate matters, Lara gets tangled up in her feelings for Rhys while exploring her connection with Lyra.
     With Rhys as her guardian, a bear of a man named Azle to guide her, and the spirit of Lyra haunting her dreams, Lara must find the Book of Secrets before it falls into the hands of those who want its power. Only then can she return to her world safely.
     I had so much fun writing the scenes between Rhys and Lyra. At first she’s furious with him for ripping her away from a perfectly ordinary existence. Never mind that Rhys has saved her from the crazies in the parking lot and the nut job that appeared at her front door. Everything he says sets her teeth on edge, and sometimes he acts like he can barely stand to be around her. Every time it looks like they’re going to come to an understanding, something happens and it’s back to square one. Your typical love-hate relationship.
     Here’s a little sample:
     Rhys seemed to have a hard time answering a simple question. “This is all too bizarre for words. You can’t…I don’t…” With an unsteady breath, I threw my hands up, fingers splayed. “You’re out of your mind, and so am I for trying to make any sense out of this.”
     Rhys rubbed his hand across the back of his neck. “I know someone who
might be able to explain things to you better than me. And he can be trusted. I know where to find him, but it’s a long, hard journey.”
     I raised my eyes to the sky. “Sure, why not? I’ll just cancel my dental appointment this afternoon. No biggie.” Above the trees, the constellations glittered in the evening sky, but the moon was ringed like Jupiter, and the stars were spinning. “What’s wrong with the moon…and the stars…?”
     He stared up into the darkness.“We’ve stepped through a portal into an alternate universe—”
     I snorted laughter. “Sorry, I didn’t bring my passport. I wasn’t planning on leaving the country, let alone the damn planet!” His blank expression told me either he didn’t get my joke or else he didn’t think it was funny.

    My supporting characters almost always threaten to take over the story. In this book we have Azle, Chief Historian for the Council. He’s the stabilizing influence on the group, always the diplomat, sensible and patient to a fault. Then, there’s Cobal, the dark good-looking ladies’ man who manages to look polished even while traveling cross-country on foot. Some of my best supporting characters not even people. Nyah and Nigan are burdahs, large creatures that exist in the alternate world where Lara travels. They look like a cross between a draft horse and a llama, with turquoise eyes and long lashes.
     I hope you’ll enjoy Lara’s story as much as I enjoyed writing it. And for those of you who read Not Long Ago, I’m working hard on the sequel. Looks as though I’m about 2/3 of the way done…depending on whether or not my characters cooperate. Also, my thanks so much for your
reviews, comments and encouragement. It’s been music to my ears.

Buy link for In My Own Shadow:
Buy link for Not Long Ago:

     Thanks for inviting me, Vicki. It’s been great.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Author, Tony-Paul de Vissage


Let me tell you how I met three people who changed my life. They were vampires but that wasn’t the reason.  Well, it was part of the reason, but not the entire thing.
It went like this…

At the Castle Andriescu in the wild mountains of Transylvania, it was a dark and stormy night…

Wait, wait…it wasn’t that way at all. It wasn’t night, it wasn’t storming and it definitely wasn’t in Transylvania, not even in the mountains.

It was at sunset, in Savannah, Georgia, and it was on my own private beach…

Well, not so private  and not really my property, since it’s a public beach, but at that moment, it was all mine, because it was night and it was deserted and I was there…all alone.

And it went this way…

It was a beautiful sunset, reflecting on the ocean

…and there I was, minding my own business, splashing barefoot in the surf and collecting salt and sand in the cuffs of my rolled-up jeans, and…

…all of a sudden, there they were…three men in black overcoats (in the summer, in the South!), walking above the tideline…looking for something that was miles away from where we were…

And I was the lucky (?) person they chose to ask for directions…

Little did they know they were about to tangle with a smart-mouthed adolescent. And little did I know I was about to find myself sucked (no pun intended) into becoming the chronicler of three exiled, the most feckless (no, it’s not misspelled, that’s an ‘e’ in there) most hapless vampires in existence.

On my website,  I’ve written a fanciful little piece (in two parts) of how I met the Brothers Andriescu, a duo of vampires who, with their cousin, were touring the South looking for the site of the Battle of Bloody Marsh and how they became my patrons in the Art of Writing All Things Vampire.  Take that with a grain of salt… or a clove of garlic, if you wish.

The Clan Andriescu is the story they told me, filled with pathos, adventure, fear, love and sex (there’s a difference, you know), rebellion, intrigue, humor...and a blood orange or two.


The Clan Andriescu…

MARIUS, head of the Clan…He can’t understand why the woman he loved in 1968 doesn’t want to re-ignite their affair in 2013…

VALERIUS, the baby brother… Ordered to marry, Val makes the wrong choice. Aneke’s all he wants but she’s human…all right to bite but not to marry…

TIMON, the cousin…being married to the most famous writer of vampire novels since Anne Rice can be exciting, until Laura writes an exposé proving vampires are real.


“Back, foul fiend!” TP crossed one forefinger over the other, holding his hands in front of him.
“What the Hell are you doing?” The one called Val demanded, jumping back with a hiss.
Timon reached out, knocking TP’s hands apart. “That won’t help you,” he snarled. “We’re Jewish!”
“Don’t believe him.” Val recovered, leaning forward to whisper rather earnestly, “We’re Russian Orthodox. Really.”
“Back foul fiend?” Marius started laughing when TP spoke and now got himself under control. “I haven’t heard that phrase in at least a century. Where’d you dig up that?”
“I-I heard it in a Dracula movie the other night.” TP looked a little disappointed at their reaction.
        “Dracula.” Marius looked disgruntled. “The best example of bad press, if ever there was. He should’ve bitten his publicist.”
“If you’re through dissing Dracula, would you tell me…W-where am I?” wavered TP. “What have you done to me?”
“Done to you?” They looked at each other and back at him. “Nothing.”
“Don’t lie. I know what you are. Exactly.”
“Okay.” Timon walked over to the fainting couch and slouched on it, legs crossed, hands behind his head. “I’ll bite.” He looked as if he’d like to do just that. “What are we? Exactly?”
“Vam…” He began to laugh, displaying those overlong eyeteeth. “You’ve got a sense of humor, kid, I’ll give you that.”

The Clan Andriescu will be released by Class Act Books on May 15, 2013.

Other novels by Tony-Paul:

From Class Act Books:

From Silver Publishing:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Author, Mark Ozeroff

Please welcome the author of, Days of Smoke, Mark Ozeroff!

Mark Ozeroff holds a near-religious fervor for aeronautical history. A lifelong pilot, he lived until recently on an eclectic airport with aircraft ranging from Sopwith Camel to Learjet – it wasn't unusual during the creation of DAYS OF SMOKE for engine song from a P-51 Mustang to nourish a burgeoning dogfight scene. Though he holds an MBA, it took until his mid-forties for Mark to finally realize he wanted to be a writer. While he may have gotten a late start, Mark can't complain – his debut novel has earned the Gold Medal for historical fiction, from the Military Writers Society of America.
Available at Amazon
I once lived with the most beautiful roommate imaginable – bright, quick, curvaceous, and possessing a classic sense of style. “She” was a 1952 Cessna 195, and we lived together in an airport hangar. This was a dream come true for me, as I’ve been passionate about airplanes since I was a kid. I was very lucky as a boy – I had nurturing, loving parents, who encouraged any interest their three sons’ showed that didn’t include beating the tar out of each other. That’s how I came to get a ride in the copilot’s seat of a 1927 Ford Trimotor, an experience that cemented my interest for life. So perhaps I can be forgiven for once cohabiting with an airplane. You might say I took up aeronautical writing in self-defense – now, when folks caught me drooling over planes for hours at a time, I could explain that I was doing research.
I’ve held a Commercial Pilot license for thirty-five years, and I took a number of my first novel’s flying scenes straight out of my logbook. I flew a lot of hours with pilots at my home airport, who took pity on a starving writer and let me keep my hand in at the controls. Most of these flights took place on beautiful days, and they were almost as much fun to write about as they’d been to experience. But one scene was based on a less than ideal flight. As we approached the airport that day, the engine seemed to be losing power. Fuel pressure and oil temperature were in the green, but the engine continued to rev down, and the pilot announced he was cutting the landing pattern short. As we turned base leg, the engine quit cold. The propeller continued to windmill at first, but after we dropped the landing gear and flaps, we slowed down enough for the prop to freeze in flight. I distinctly recall one propeller blade pointing straight up toward heaven – I didn’t even want to think about where the other blade was pointing. But the pilot kept a cool head and set us down light as a feather. I’d have kissed the ground after jumping out, except that fuel pouring from under the cowling had already formed a gassy lake under the plane.
One of my literary beliefs is that fiction can sometimes tell a more profound truth than history. But that shouldn’t relieve even a fiction writer from doing extensive research. I conducted interviews with several ex-Luftwaffe pilots when writing DAYS OF SMOKE. Chief among them was Gunther Rall, history's third ranking ace, credited with an astonishing 275 aerial victories. General Rall flew the same type of aircraft – over the same area of Russia – as my protagonist, and he generously shared with me the mindset and experiences of a top German ace.
At the time Rall visited my home airport to promote an aviation art sale being held there, I was working on the section of the novel dealing with the war in Russia. I immediately wondered if I might somehow be able to get an interview with him. I was of two minds about this idea, though. The aviation historian in me realized that I stood to discover facts about the war in the air I might never find in any other way. But another part of my mind recognized that Rall had done about as much as any single man to further Hitler’s goals. In fact, he’d basically flown top cover for SS units that down below were exterminating innocent civilians by the hundreds of thousands, including members of my own family. So I was conflicted about meeting him.
Exhibition day rolled around, and I realized I had to go. I arrived at the hangar around noon only to find that everyone had gone to lunch, except for the woman running the sale and an older man resting in the corner. So I took the opportunity to wander around, looking at the world-class artwork. At one point I paused to examine a beautifully rendered oil painting of a Messerschmitt Bf 109F, a model known as the Franz. I was so intently studying the picture that I was startled when the older man materialized beside me, saying in a strong accent, “It is a beautiful aircraft, no?”
Sure enough, he introduced himself as Gunther Rall. He told me that of the many aircraft he had flown in his thirty-five year career (Rall had retired in 1975 as Commander-in-Chief of the West German Luftwaffe), the Franz had been his favorite. We went on to have an undisturbed hour-long conversation about the Messerschmitt fighter and the parameters of aerial dogfighting, from which I learned many interesting details that found their way into the novel.
I later was privileged to attend a lecture given by Rall and Army Air Force veteran Shorty Kramer. I arrived at the hangar that night to find an oil painting set up that I’d not seen before, done from an unusual perspective. It was a head-on shot of a Messerschmitt being chased by four P-47 Thunderbolts, one of which was blasting away with all eight machine guns. The German pilot was looking anxiously back over his shoulder, attempting to elude his pursuer.
Turns out this painting had been commissioned especially for the lecture. Rall was the German pilot, Shorty Kramer the American who was tight on his tail. Rall spoke first, using cultured English that almost made him sound aristocratic. He talked about being newly returned to Germany in the last months of the war, how numerous the Allied fighters were, and how well trained their pilots. He said that on the day depicted in the painting, he’d come closer to losing his life than any other day of the war. Rall was not only an interesting speaker, he was an amusing one as well, drawing laughs from the audience with his self-deprecating style of humor.
Then Shorty Kramer was introduced. Shorty had been born in rural Oklahoma, and in his Southern drawl he outlined that long-ago dogfight, using staccato sentence bursts that somehow reminded me of machine gun fire. Shorty was an amusing speaker as well, although in a much earthier way than Gunther.
At one point, Shorty talked about trying to fasten onto the tail of this German aircraft, and of his amazement at the pilot’s ability to evade his gunfire. Gunther interrupted him to say that he had not been entirely successful at evasion that day – he humorously held up his hand to show that half his thumb had been shot away. Shorty fixed him with a hard stare and said, “Now Gunther, I wadn’t tryin’ to shoot yer thumb off. I was tryin’ to shoot yer ass off!” People about fell out of their chairs laughing, and I couldn’t help but reflect that here were a couple of guys who had as much reason to be intolerant of each other as any two men I’d ever met. And yet here they were, finding more camaraderie in their shared love of flying than they did resentment in the past.
You’re probably wondering just where this rambling story is headed. Well, it all comes together when you consider something every writer must tap into – inspiration. Inspiration can come from anywhere: a subject about which you’re passionate, as I am about flying; people from your past, even as far back as childhood; the unique life experience we all possess; perhaps something as innocuous as a newspaper article. Mix these diverse ingredients together, add a touch of imagination, and you can create wonderfully compelling storylines.

Mark Ozeroff holds a near-religious fervor for aeronautical history. A lifelong pilot, he lived until recently on an eclectic airport with aircraft ranging from Sopwith Camel to Learjet – it wasn't unusual during the creation of DAYS OF SMOKE for engine song from a P-51 Mustang to nourish a burgeoning dogfight scene. Though he holds an MBA, it took until his mid-forties for Mark to finally realize he wanted to be a writer. While he may have gotten a late start, Mark can't complain – his debut novel earned the Gold Medal for historical fiction, from the Military Writers Society of America.

Author website: Mark Ozeroff

Friday, May 3, 2013

Author, Julie Lence

Please help me welcome author, Julie Lence, author of Zanna's Outlaw

Available at Amazon
Zanna's Outlaw Blurb

Notorious outlaw Buck Grayson is set to hang for the one murder he didn't commit, until a last minute pardon sets him free. But there's a condition to the pardon. He's to cease outlawing and bring law and order to Revolving Point, Texas, the border town along the Rio Grande, with a reputation worse than his. Zanna is there and still in danger from the fancy-pants attorney seeking revenge against her. Buck will do anything for Zanna--even pin the tin star to his chest to keep her safe--except say the words she longs to hear.

Former soiled dove Suzanna Reynolds wants respectability, a home and children, and she wants them with Buck. Trouble is, Buck isn't the settling type and has never openly acknowledged she's his woman. Convinced Buck only took the sheriff's job to settle a score and not to please her, Suzanna demands he court her to prove his love. Or leave town for good.      

Excerpt Scene

 Buck  stepped inside, closed the door and didn't make a move toward her. "That woman downstairs is worse than Emma."
"Did you come up here to complain?" She folded her arms beneath her breasts.
"I came to tell you I took this damn job for you.” Plus, it made it easier to flush out Hanson’s hired guns before they harmed her. But she didn’t need to know that. She’d want to help and would do so behind his back if he didn’t let her. “Not because I want a tumble between the sheets, but because you're my woman. That used to mean something to you."
"It still would if you’d tell me you love me."
"Dammit, Zanna. You know I do."
"Then say it," she challenged. "And don't give me the same old line about words being hard for you."
"They are." At least, those words were. The last time he'd said them his family had been murdered. With enemies lurking in the shadows, the same could happen to her. Pissing her off was one thing. He could tolerate her icy glare. Losing her forever was a whole different matter. "That doesn't mean I don't feel them."
She sighed irritably and looked away.
"Doesn’t my coming here count for something when I swore I wouldn’t?”
"If you can't say the words," she returned her gaze to him, "then I want you to prove you love me and intend to stay."
"By courting me."
"What the hell do you think the last three years have been?"
"I thought I knew, but now I’m not so sure.” She glared at him. “You say I’m your woman. Prove it.”
"Sonofabitch, Zanna. Couldn’t you just beat me with your fry pan?"
       "No," she said in that same snotty tone that had beaten him many times in the past.    

Julie grew up in an average-size city in upstate New York. All through school she enjoyed writing as long as she could choose the topic. She even tried to write a novel length story in middle school, but since she was young, she didn't stick with it all that long.
She met her husband during the latter part of 12th grade and married him two years later. He had already enlisted in the Air Force and Julie enjoyed accompanying him on his twenty years of service. By marrying young and entering the work force full-time, the writing bug didn't bite her again until the early 90's when she read Double Standards by Judith McNaught. Having already been hooked on the romance genre and family sagas, thanks to Johanna Lindsey's Malory family, the little critter of a muse dug his teeth in deep, and Julie began penning her own novels. By combining her love for romance, family and the old west, she has settled into a career writing western historical romance. 
Julie enjoys hearing from other fans of the romance genre. If you've got time, email her at:  and say hello. She'll respond back to you.
Julie's Novels:
Weston Family Series:
Luck of the Draw
Lady Luck
No Luck At All
Christmas Miracles (short story)
Revolving Point, Texas Series:
Zanna's Outlaw
Lydia's Gunslinger
Debra's Bandit