Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween and Happy Anniversary

We come to the end of our celebration. Although at MuseItUp Publishing, we celebrate every day. We celebrate our publisher - our editors - our cover artists. But mostly, we celebrate our family. Yes, Muse has become a family.
I've made many new friends here at Muse and I'm lucky enough to have met several. I was privileged to mee Rebecca Ryalls Russell, Marsha Moore, and Barbara Bockman t in Florida while on a trip to visit my father in law. As if that wasn't enough, I had the pleasure of meeting Ginger Simpson on the way home.
But I've made many other friends besides the ones I've met in person.
I knew Lea a long time ago when I presented a class in one of her earlier conferences. She was also my editor for a time at another publisher.  Lin and Kat Holmes, I met while at another publisher also. In fact they were the ones who told me Lea started her own publishing house. I couldn't wait to submit.
Of course I feel like everyone in the chat room is part of my family. But a few I've gotten to know on a more personal level, like Ginger, Gail, and Tanja.
Everyone here at Muse has been very supportive and if someone needs something - prayers- encouragement - or just a pat on the back, Muse authors are here for each other.
So Congratulations, Muse on your first year and hoping for many more to come.
I hope everyone has a safe and fun Halloween.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hello, Judy Winn

Thank you so much for being here, Judy Winn.

1: What genre do you write?

Right now … Romantic Mysteries.  Those stories where there is a real mystery to be solved, a murder or a theft, but there is a love story that is important.

I write in other areas, children’s, non-fiction, mainstream, even Confession Magazines.

2: Ah my favorite genre. So tell us, how long have you been writing?

Gosh.  The first story I remember writing was when I was 10.  I still remember how my young heroine hid a jewel in a squeeze toy to outfox the villain. I thought that was pretty clever. 

But you know I didn’t really like English when I was little, in grade school.  It seemed a real chore, but I didn’t want to make a bad grade. 

I did a little self hypnosis, I guess you might call it, and told myself “English is my favorite subject”, “English is my favorite subject” until I began to convince myself. It must have worked because I love English, love words, love reading and love writing.

3: English was my favorite subject also. What do you like the most and least about writing?

Plot is hard for me. I think in terms of character, but sometimes I can’t make “my people” get into enough trouble.

What I like most is when I get so involved in writing something that time just doesn’t exist. You know when you get so lost in what you are doing that you think an hour has gone by and then you realize the whole darn afternoon has flown by?  Sort of a meditation, I think.

4: Gosh, that’s what I love most also. Maybe it’s living in another world. And, what do you do for fun and relaxation when not writing?

Well, I love to read.  I’ll read the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table if the morning newspaper is late.
And I like to sew, although I don’t do as much of that as I used to do. Crossword puzzles, sudoko, walks on the beach or the woods, yoga, and sometimes cooking is fun. (I like to read the cookbooks more than make the recipes though, if you want to know the truth.)

5: LOL. So which authors do you like to read?

Oh my.  Well, I really enjoyed your book “Double the Trouble” recently. 

J.A. Jance is my favorite, and Janet Evanovich.  She makes me laugh right out loud.  “The Ladies No.1 Detective Agency” author, Alexander McCall Smith? Those stories set in Botswana are adorable.

Remember Carolyn Keene? I know “she” was more than one writer, but I still think I’d enjoy a Nancy Drew mystery.  When I was around eleven or so, those books were my lifeline.  I’d go to the library and pile them into my bicycle basket, pedal home, and disappear into a world of roadsters, little boats, and a sleuth who could take me away with her.

I like to go into the library and pick up a book by an author I never heard of. Exploring books that way introduces me to lots of new folks.

6: Thank you, I’m glad you enjoyed my book. Wow, I think The Nancy Drew Books are part of the reason I write. I loved  them, too. Tell us, what’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

I’m nice?  Well, at least most of the time.

I have traveled a lot, been married for nearly 53 years…to the same good man, started to college 10 years after HS and my children helped me pass French by drilling me on vocabulary from my textbooks so I could graduate.

I am a pilot, earning my private, instrument and commercial ratings, but I don’t do that anymore.

But that is more than one thing…just one thing? Ok.

I’m nice.  Most of the time. 

7: Multi-talented. My goodness you sound like you had a busy life. I wonder how you find time to write. Tell us about your current novel, where I can find it?

“The Silver Seahorse” is a story about a courageous young woman who has her future planned, when everything she trusts and loves is suddenly gone.  Danger and betrayal surround her when she investigates family secrets. She has to solve some dangerous problems and hopefully learn to love and trust again.

MuseItUp Publishing has a release date projected for August 2012.

8: Sounds like a great story. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

Don’t give up.  Keep writing and keep sending your work out. And read everything you can get your hands on.

9: Great advice. Now a question I get asked often. Do you base your characters on real-life people?

No, they just seem to pop up full blown in my head. I have to name them and then they just materialize. Once they have a name, I can sort of see them.

10: Mind do the same thing. I sometimes wonder where they come from. How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I think the idea of things not being exactly as you have assumed is interesting. My main character Nessie Polite is raised by her mother, and my mother and I lived alone for a number of years, so I can understand the ties being so strong. Nessie’s situation is not mine, but I guess some of my emotions tumble into her.

11: I think of little of us slips into all our characters. What are you currently working on?

I so liked the setting of Beulah Beach in “The Silver Seahorse”, I have an idea for something else happening there.  Not a sequel really, but using the area there and a minor character or two.

12. Sounds great.Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

“The Silver Seahorse” is my first novel to be published and I am so excited to be working with MuseItUp

13.I hope we see a lot more from you. Where can we find you? Website? Blog?

Well.  I’m working on that.  Any suggestions?  Maybe I should get a face book page too.

Definitely get a blog and yes, go on Face book. Readers need a way to find you.

Unedited Excerpt:

The funeral director opened the clasp of the silver necklace, the only jewelry Kaylynn consistently wore, discretely slipped it off the narrow throat and held it out. Nessie felt her Grandmother come up beside her just as she reached for it.
“Bury the damn thing with her,” she hissed. “Nothing but bad luck since she got it. Get rid of it.”
Nessie felt a familiar tremor race down her back with the icy words. Why did Gran always make everything worse? How did she ever give birth to a woman as good, as wonderful, as caring as her mother? Tears burned her eyes but she would not answer her. Instead, even though her fingers were too shaky to make it easy, she deliberately fastened the delicate silver chain with the little seahorse pendant around her own neck.
I’ll take care of it for you, she promised. She stroked her mother’s fingertips for one last touch before taking her seat.
Anne Marie, her mother’s business partner and closest friend, slipped into one of the posh upholstered chairs with mahogany arms beside her at the front of the chapel. She wrapped an arm briefly around her shoulders. “Hang in there, Sugar,” she whispered. She gave her a quick hug, released her, but stayed beside her. Gran settled on the other side of Nessie, still bristled from the exchange by the casket.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Hello, Elle Druskin

Thank you so much for being here, Elle Druskin

1: What genre do you write?

That’s a simple question with a complicated answer.  I wrote my first book, To Catch A Cop, more or less to figure out how to write a novel.  I had a lot of experience in academic writing which undoubtedly helped and I’ll explain why a bit later.  I had a story in my head that wouldn’t go away.  It was always there so I thought maybe if I tried to write the thing, the vivid images and sounds would stop. (Yeah, I know, if you tell certain people about this, you might end up medicated.)

Anyway, I wrote the book like I said, to figure out HOW, presuming nobody would see it but me, so I didn’t worry about genre or word count.  I was more concerned with having a story and plot that hung together, tight pace, realistic characters who spoke believable dialogue, and since nobody was going to see it, well, it didn’t matter what genre I wrote.  When I finally got up the nerve to show it to a few people who would be critical readers (published authors or editors) the first told me it was a rather unorthodox romance, the second said it was “cute mystery and better than others I have read recently.”  Well, that made me sit up.  I KNEW the story had mystery elements, but I didn’t consider them strong.  The third told me he felt the story had some elements of a thriller.  All three said they laughed (that was good, they were meant to laugh at some points), found the story entertaining, and in their opinions, the book should be published.  By then, I had no idea what I had written.  What mattered to me was they all thought it was professionally crafted, a great story and completely engaging.  I figured I should let readers figure out what genre it is.  Interestingly, the reviews have all been mystery first, romance second.  To Catch A Cop was nominated as Best Romantic Comedy of 2010 by The Romance Reviewers.  Go figure.

Since then, I have written contemporary romance and mystery/suspense. 

Going To The Dogs, which is due out with MuseItUp in February 2012, is a contemporary romance about a dog-hating cop on the trail of his partner’s killer.  His new partner is a junk food addicted, country music loving poodle who drives the guy crazy.  Enter chief suspect Jodie McBride, dog trainer par excellance, who’s smart about dogs but not so smart with men.  Mix in some eccentric dogs and their equally eccentric owners and pretty soon everybody is Going To The Dogs.  I am a dog owner, always have been, been to a lot of dog shows and know a lot of “doggie” people so I guess this book was based on some of those experiences.  I had a wonderful time writing it.

2: How long have you been writing?
Probably always.  I come from a family of great storytellers and any book has to start with a great story.  I always enjoyed writing; in high school I worked on school publications and learned a great deal about writing from a wonderful teacher during those years thanks to those experiences.  This was informal learning, not in a classroom, but she had been an award winning journalist and taught us all many technical skills.  In my job as an academic, I continually have to produce scholarly papers, books chapters, etc. and I review submissions for a number of scholarly journals.  It’s a different form of writing but basically a similar process to fiction in the sense that you need the feedback to strengthen the work.  I have published quite a bit in the academic world and I do consider that writing so it’s been many years.

3: What do you like the most and least about writing?

The best part is getting that story out of my head while battling to find the words that express exactly what I am seeing and hearing so readers see and hear exactly what I do.  The worst part is the same; it’s a struggle and challenge.  If this process was easy I guess everyone would do it.

4: What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

I take ballroom dancing classes a few times a week.  I don’t think I am particularly good, but I enjoy them.  It’s great exercise, something I always wanted to learn and during the lessons you have to empty your mind of any other things that are distracting you.  You have to pay attention, so I think it’s good for tension release too.  I also think it helps you learn about movement, posture, working with a partner—you can’t do this alone -- and trust, because you have to trust your dance partner to give the right signals and your partner has to trust you to read them correctly.

I’ve also been trying to learn to surf. (Not the web ).  It’s also always been an ambition and it’s not easy but I keep getting out there and trying.  The first time, I dinged myself with my own board, the second, I was stung by a killer bee and ended up on Prednisone due to a very swollen arm. Last time, my board leash caught the guy who teaches me and I dragged him behind me as I took off with the wave.  No serious damage done and he was quite philosophical, said he figured it was his turn to have something happen.  I will get this, it’s a question of perseverance.  And one of the things I found really inspiring has been a correspondence with THE REAL GIDGET, the woman that the books were based on.  She is 70 (!), still out there and told me, “Don’t forget the Gidget can do spirit. You can do anything.”  That’s great advice for anyone in lots of circumstances.

5: Which authors do you like to read?
How much time have you got?  I love so many writers, the list is endless.  A real favorite is Diana Gabaldon who writes with such skill and elegance.  She is also very accessible to her fans and encouraging to other writers.  I also love the Amy Tan, Herman Wouk, R. F. Delderfield, David Grossman, Sara Donati, Sharon Penman, M. C. Beaton, Jennifer Crusie, Peter Mayle, Matt Benyon Rees, Kathy Reichs, Janet Evanovich, and authors of many classics such as Jane Austen, L. M. Montgomery, William Faulker, John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, etc.   More recent first novels that I loved were Kathryn Stockett’s The Help and Andrew Davidson’s The Gargoyle.

I read in several languages, although much faster in English and I do enjoy discovering interesting writers that are not published in English.

In non-fiction, I especially enjoy Thomas Friedman, Martin Gilbert, Dee Brown, Bruce Catton, Shelby Foote (who also wrote fiction, but his mammoth work on The Civil War is sheer brilliance).  Look, I’m a reader; I read voraciously in almost any genre and I think that is absolutely critical for any writer.  Reading teaches all of us so much—what hooked you?  Why are you engaged with the story?  Why was that word chosen?  There is nothing like the sheer pleasure and enjoyment of sitting down with a good book.

6: What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

7: Tell me about your current novel with Muse, where I can find it? Going To The Dogs scheduled for February release. 

Animal Crackers for May
The Life of the Party for August
Hanky Panky for December

8: Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

I don’t know if I am qualified to give advice but since you’re asking, some general rules are READ and keep reading.  Like I said, reading teaches us so many things.  I assume anyone who wants to write started out as someone who loves to read so why would you stop?  Fatal mistake.  Read anything and everything, not only the genre that you aspire to write.

Research carefully when necessary.  Here is where I think having an academic background was useful for me.  Basically, a doctoral degree involves researching something that has not been done before or approaching it from a new angle, researching thoroughly and then writing it up.  I kind of call the dissertation a book that a handful of people (the supervisor and examiners) will read.  There are some people who have managed to turn their dissertations into best-selling books but that is pretty rare and I wouldn’t count on it. But, the process taught me the skills and rigors of research and how to conduct it. Sorry, but surfing the web is NOT research.  It might be a starting point, but I cannot emphasize enough the importance of relying on sound library skills and preferably a library that has access to many sorts of materials, ideally, a college library.  Again, I have been fortunate because my dissertation involved library research, archival research (which involves many other skills) and interviews.  All of those skills have been useful to me as a writer and I would encourage any writer to develop them.

9: Do you base your characters on real-life people?

Not usually but it has happened.  I don’t sit down and plot and outline.  I have a basic story in my head and I generally know how it is going to end but I am not always sure what might happen along the way.  I write as I see things unfold in my head.  I see and hear these scenes clearly and usually while writing that scene, another one starts to form.  Eventually, they will come together but might need some “gluing”—a transition scene or chapter to link them together.  In To Catch A Crook,(the book that follows To Catch A Cop) the London soap star is based on someone I knew; a wonderful woman who is charming, gracious and generous but yes, she stays up all night and performs.  Anyone and everyone becomes her captive audience, dropping with exhaustion while she is singing, dancing and acting non-stop.

10: How did you come up with the idea for Going To The Dogs?
I am a dog owner, always have been, been to a lot of dog shows and know a lot of “doggie” people so I guess this book was based on some of those experiences.  I had a wonderful time writing it.
See above.

11: What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished work on a suspense/mystery novel.  I’m pretty happy with it but I have to say there were things in it that scared me.  I have no idea where it came from, if I have some deep, dark place in my brain.  I used several readers to check technical details in the story and give me general feedback. They all enjoyed it immensely but also said this was pretty scary—I thought I knew what was coming but I didn’t imagine the end.  No idea what I will do with this work yet, but I hope eventually it will be published.

I also have a contemporary romance series under contract with MuseItUp and all three books are due for release in 2012.  The first book is entitled Animal Crackers (yep, animals again ).  –Karma really has it in for Manhattan workaholic Hayley Weaver.  Fired, kicked out of her apartment and hit by a car driven by a clown all in one day.  She’s desperate and a temporary job house-sitting a movie star’s home sounds great.  Too bad nobody told Hayley that the house is in New Jersey, the place Hayley swore never to return to, and it’s full of more critters than the Beverly Hillbillies.  Local veterinarian Jake Marx is desperate to meet a woman he hasn’t known since kindergarten and with Jake on Hayley’s speed dial to corral the animals, pretty soon the whole town is in on the plot to convince Hayley that Jersey rocks and so does Jake.

The title, Animal Crackersis indeed an allusion to all the animals in the story but also to Jake’s last name, Marx, and the lunacy of the Marx Brothers in all those wonderful, wacky classic comedy films.  Some pretty odd things happen in this fictional Jersey town that might seem eccentric or peculiar but make perfect sense to the residents of Liberty Heights. It’s great fun watching Hayley as the outsider slowly being sucked into all the crazy things that happen and slowly seeing them as “normal” too.

I am sure this book grew out of a Jersey childhood.  It might be just outside Manhattan, but Jersey people are well, different.  I had a ball creating this series and the fictional town of Liberty Heights where anything and everything does happen.  I hope readers will enjoy the books as much as I have enjoyed writing them.  One of the fun things about writing the series has been the opportunity to have a lot of secondary characters and being able to give them more prominence in the second and third books, tentatively entitled The Life of the Party and Hanky-Panky.  Sooo, the editing will be going on over the next few months and that is going to be keeping me pretty busy.

12. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

Isn’t this enough?  It might be more than you wanted to know.

13. Where can we find you? Website? Blog?

You can find me on my website and blog at:

I am also a regular at Books and Writers Forum.  There are wonderful writers and readers there where anything and everything is discussed.

Excerpt (Unedited) Going To The Dogs

 Please be aware that this is unedited and could still change.
Going To The Dogs
Copyright: Elle Druskin 2011
Jodie shoved against a chest as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar. George Clooney scowled down at her, dark eyes narrowed. The burglar had her pinned to the ground like a wrestler, and her panic soared. Why didn’t she lock the back door? She’d left it open in the morning confusion, and a criminal got inside. A thief. A rapist. Or worse.
Her body broke out in terrified shivers, and her fists came down on the burglar’s face like a ton of bricks but the guy didn’t budge. Heckel, the reluctant stud with impeccable bloodlines, slunk off to a corner stacked with dog beds and curled up in the deluxe model. In addition to the dog’s ignorance about mating, the worthless stud was also out of the loop when it came to being man’s best friend. In this case, woman’s, and protect her from intruders.
George Clooney rolled to one side, and a giant white poodle slurped his face, changed direction, and sniffed the female Puli that was in heat. The fluffy white tail beat like a bongo player gone wild.
“Hey, get that dog away from her! That female’s in season and I don’t get paid for cross-breed mutts.”
Jodie forgot her terror and to her relief, the intruder yanked the dog who snarled at him, baring sharp teeth. She got to her knees, crawled to the female Puli, and with one hand, shoved the female into a crate and snapped the latch. The poodle parked himself beside the crate, howling like a lovesick coyote.
Jodie arched her brows. The awful racket sounded like Home On The Range, but that was the least of the problems. She scanned the storeroom for a weapon before the intruder could grab her again. Any weapon.
Rawhide chews, dog shampoo, combs. Not a weapon in sight, not even a water pistol. Panic hit all time record highs as the stranger rose to his feet and towered over her. This wasn’t George Clooney, but the man was big and dangerous looking too, with a desperado stubbled chin and black eyes. If the guy wasn’t a criminal, he’d be  real eye candy. Jodie snatched a hairdryer and pointed it at the burglar’s chest. “Hands up! I’m calling the cops.”
The crook had the nerve to grin and relaxed in a casual pose, legs crossed at his ankles as he leaned against the back wall.
“Planning on giving me a blow job with that?”

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hello, Pat McDermott

Thank you so much for being here, Pat.

1: Standard questions, what genre do you write?

I dabble in a bit of everything. Most of my stories contain elements of fantasy, alternate history, action/adventure, paranormal, sci-fi, and romance. Glancing Through the Glimmer, my first Young Adult novel, is no exception.    

2: Sounds fascinating. So how long have you been writing?

For as long as I can remember. My family included some talented storytellers. My father made up the bedtime stories he told me and my siblings. His tales often kept me awake for hours, they left me so enchanted. I wanted to tell enchanting stories too. I’ve attended writing classes over the years, but my own children were in college before I started putting ideas on paper seriously.

3: So you get it honestly. One of the questions I’m asked most often -What do you like the most and least about writing?

I enjoy research, learning new ideas, and I love being in control of the worlds I create, devising impossible situations and happy endings. I’m sure I’m not alone in stating that I’m not fond of the marketing aspect of writing, necessary evil that it is.

4: Nope, you’re definitely not alone.  When you’re not writing, what do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m usually reading or cooking. Cooking is one of my favorite activities. I even have a cooking blog called Kitchen Excursions. My Irish-American family served basic, simple food, but I’ve learned there’s more to supper than meat and potatoes. I enjoy exploring different ethnic cuisines. I also love hiking, reading, and traveling, especially to Ireland.

5: What I’d give to go to Ireland. So tell us, which authors do you like to read?

Hard to pick a few with so many wonderful authors out there, but here are some of my favorites: Edward Rutherford, Leon Uris, and Diana Gabaldon have drawn me into their historical worlds, John Sanford and John Connolly into their crime scenes, and William Trevor and Sebastian Barry into the joy of phrasing words to create vivid images. I love the adventures of Clive Cussler, L.A. Meyers, and Jack Higgins, and I enjoy the writing styles of Roddy Doyle, Penelope Lively, Kate Atkinson, Dean Koontz, Kate Thompson, and Helen Simonson. I also admire Simon Winchester’s ability to impart scientific and historical facts in an easygoing way that seems more like fiction than nonfiction.

6: A bit more on the personal side, what’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

That I do not and never have suffered from empty nest syndrome. Let’s go!

7: You’re the first one I ever heard say that. Okay, tell us about your current novel, where we can find it?

Glancing Through the Glimmer is a young adult alternate history adventure set in modern Ireland that’s still a monarchy, one in which the present King Brian is a descendant of High King Brian Boru. Seventeen-year-old Prince Liam is the hero, Janet Gleason the heroine. When Janet’s grandfather becomes the new U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, the sixteen-year-old orphan must leave Boston and her friends behind. Janet is lonely in Dublin and unused to her grandparents’ stuffy social life. An invitation to a royal ball terrifies her. She can’t even waltz and dreads embarrassment. The King of the Fairies, learns of her fervent wish to dance. Fancying a new dancing partner, he sends his fairy witch after her.

Prince Liam loathes the idea of escorting another spoiled American girl to a ball. In fact, he detests most of his royal duties. He dresses down to move through Dublin unnoticed and finds himself on his royal backside when Janet crashes into him. Intrigued, he asks to see her again, and she willingly agrees. Unaware of each other’s identities, they arrange to meet, and when they do, the fairies steal Janet away.

MuseItUp Publishing will release the book on November 11, 2011. Here’s the link to the
Bookstore Page:

8: Sounds like something my grandchildren would love. Another question I’m frequently asked - Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

You’re the only one with the ultimate vision of the story you’re trying to tell. Don’t let anyone talk you out of it. Join a writers' group, take classes or workshops, and never stop reading. Go out on a limb and read books you wouldn’t ordinarily read. To paraphrase an Oliver Wendell Holmes quote, a mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original dimensions. Don’t be afraid other authors will influence your personal style. And exercise those writing muscles! The more you write, the easier it is to get your vision onto a printed page. Set goals and deadlines for yourself, and meet them. Persevere in your quest to become a published author, and enjoy the ride!

9: Great advice. Another question most authors get asked - Do you base your characters on real-life people?

Absolutely not, at least not consciously. To me, writing is an escape from real life. I may have a personality type in mind, or use bits and pieces to create a “role” in my story, but I’d never risk hurting anyone’s feelings by basing a character completely on someone I know. I need wiggle room to develop a character’s good and bad traits without having to look under my car at night. Besides, if I did base my characters on folks I know, they’d all want to be in my stories!

10: Isn’t that the truth. I’m curious, how did you come up with the idea for this book?

Glancing Through the Glimmer is the young adult “prequel” to my “Band of Roses” trilogy (A Band of Roses, Fiery Roses, and Salty Roses) coming in 2012 from MuseItUp Publishing. I’d already written the trilogy when an acquaintance suggested the YA angle, and I found I loved writing about my characters as teenagers.

11: What a great idea. So what are you currently working on?

I’m putting the finishing touches on Autumn Glimmer, the sequel to Glancing Through the Glimmer.

12: Again, getting a little personal - Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?

That I really hate green beans? Seriously, most folks are surprised to learn that before the kids came along, I spent a few years as a guitarist and lead female singer in an Irish-American folk band with three very talented guys. I still enjoy traditional Irish music and love the fresh slant the new generation of musicians has put on it.

13: Multi-talented.  Tell us where can we find you? Website? Blog?

My Writing/Travel Blog (Put the Kettle On):

Facebook page for Glancing Through the Glimmer:!/

MuseItUp Bookstore Page for Glancing Through the Glimmer:

My cooking blog (Kitchen Excursions) Provided just for fun, and not necessary to include by any means:


          The first time Liam slipped and fell, he cursed the rain-damp grass. He blamed his second tumble on his haste to catch up with Janet. What on earth had possessed the girl to run off like that? She couldn’t possibly want to find music that badly.
          Music only she could hear.
          The third time he lost his balance, he’d swear someone had pushed him, but no one was there. He landed on his hands and knees and cursed again. He might not be a muscleman, but he was far from a clumsy dolt. A lifetime of sports and outdoor treks had surely left him fit enough to climb a scrubby little hillside.
          Something strange was afoot.
          I’m being ridiculous. The breeze must have kept him from hearing the music she heard. She’d likely gone after the owner of whatever was playing the tune to learn its name.
          Yet the Nose of Howth seemed deserted. How odd for a sunny Sunday morning. Even if Janet had gone off seeking the source of the music, no amount of rationalizing could explain why she’d left so abruptly. The chilling sense that she was in danger had Liam’s heart thumping high in his throat.
          Should he call his cousin? If Kevin was still on the pier, it would take him a while to get here. And practical Kevin would surely think Liam astray in the head.
          Maybe he was, but something told him he had to find Janet, and fast. Keeping close to the ground as if he were dodging radar, he clambered monkey-like up the hill. This time he reached the top of the rise. Lumps in the landscape surrounded him, clumps of rock and rolling masses of heather and gorse that encircled the level spot where he stood. He knew the place well. Except for the curious lack of weekend hill walkers, nothing seemed amiss.
          He listened hard. A seagull cried in the distance. Otherwise, all was silent. No, wait! Music drifted toward him, a plucky harp tune he might have enjoyed under different circumstances. Was that what Janet had heard?
          Where was it? He turned in a circle, squinting in the sunlight, scanning, straining to hear. When he returned to the spot where he’d started, a jolt of fear set his pulse racing.
          A round stone hut had appeared on the highest part of the clearing. Its low thatched roof rose to a ridiculously high point. It resembled a roundhouse, the sort of dwelling that belonged in a prehistoric ring fort.
          Or a fairy fort.
          Liam swallowed hard. He’d seen replicas of such huts in Ireland’s folk parks. He’d also viewed ruins of the original ring forts, all that remained of the structures built by the mysterious peoples who’d lived and died in prehistoric Ireland thousands of years ago.
          Where had this one come from? Why was it on the Nose of Howth? Liam had never seen it before, nor had he heard of any gimmicky tourism plans for the cliff walk. Of course, he didn’t know everything. Convincing himself that he’d failed to see the hut at first because the sun had blinded him, he ventured toward the structure.
          He spotted a doorway and relaxed. Janet was there, speaking to a woman wearing a period costume, medieval or older. That’s what it was, he thought: tourism come to tarnish Howth. How could Uncle Peadar have allowed such nonsense?
          Liam called Janet’s name again, but neither she nor the woman showed any sign that they’d heard him. The wind must have carried his voice away. He stalked toward the roundhouse. As he approached, the costumed woman placed a necklace over Janet’s head.
          The roundhouse flickered, faded, and reappeared. Alarmed, Liam stopped. This was no tourist gimmick. As his thoughts scrambled for an explanation, the woman grabbed Janet’s arm and pulled her into the hut.
          “Janet, no!” His ferocious roar proved useless. Unbelievably, the roundhouse began to dissolve. No longer doubting his horrified senses, he dove at the hut and charged through the disappearing door.
          The world around him melted away.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Hello, Penny Estelle

1: Thank you so much for being here, Penny Estelle.
First up is the obligatory question. When did you first begin writing?

In my mid twenties, which was a VERY LONG TIME AGO, I started the historical, western romance.  I was sure it would be on the best seller list for years.  It took me five years to finish (no computers then) and I put it in a box, put it in my closet, and that is where it has lived for thirty years!

2: Sounds like a familiar tale. What inspired you to write?

I was an elementary school secretary for twenty-one years.  I dealt with kids of all ages when they would be sent to see the principal.  I loved dealing with children’s sense of humor, actions, excuses, stories, etc. I promised myself when I retired I was going to write stories about kids!    

3: We have something in common. I was a school secretary also. Can't write for children, though. I envy the authors who can. So, what do you like the most and least about writing?

When I finish a story and I send it to my grandson to read and I get an email that says, “This is awesome!”  What do I like least – easy – proofing it over and over and over again!

4: That does make it worthwhile, doesn't it. What do you for fun and relaxation when not writing?

Four-wheeling and exploring AZ back roads with my hubby, I like to gamble, movies, reading, and spending time with my grandkids.

5: Sounds like an adventure.  Which authors do you like to read?

Janet Evanovich, Nora Roberts, Fern Michaels, only to name a few.
6: I love those authors, too. What’s the one thing you’d most like people to know about you?

Wow…this is a hard one!  I am retired, I am living on a fifty-four acre ranch, and I am doing exactly what I want to do – write.  I am living the dream!

7: Sounds like a great life. Tell me about your current  Muse novel, where I can find it and your website/blog.

MuseItUp Publishing picked up a short story called Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare. 
It’s a Friday, and Billy Cooper has forty minutes left of school before his weekend starts.  He is watching the clock and thinking about his weekend when his seventh grade history teacher, Ms. Wickware, throws a wrench in his plans.  Every student will draw a piece of paper out of a basket and will then give an oral report on their subject on Monday. Billy is sure he can skate by with a quick search on the computer, but everything changes when he meets his fourteenth century subject in person!
It will be out in May, 2012. I am really excited for this story to be published because I think it’s funny and also educational.  I also am hoping to write a few more, along the same story line, and have a possible series.

I also have a website and blog address:

8: Sounds like a great story. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?

I do and it’s a tip I have to keep telling myself – write, write, write, submit, and write some more!

9: Great advice. Something, I'm frequently asked - Do you base your characters on real-life people?

At this point, my stories have been for MG/YA.  I usually picture a person I know (grandkids, friends, jerks I have met) because it is easier for me to visualize and that keeps it flowing.

10: Another question I'm frequently asked - Where do you get your ideas and what inspired you to write this book?

An Idea can come to me by hearing a simple phrase on TV or an action scene at the movies. 
What actually inspired me to write Billy Cooper’s Awesome Nightmare, was a news show.  It interviewed children of all ages asking if they knew, or had heard of, some of our famous legendary people or places...Pecos Bill, Johnny Appleseed, Atlantis… and most had not! 

11: Amazing what strikes an idea. So, what are you currently working on?

I wrote a very short story called Sasq-what? a few years ago and it was printed in an ezine magazine.  I am expanding that story into a novella.

12. Sounds great. Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I am new to this game. I hope my stories bring a smile to those who read them and will want to see more!

Roseanne – thank you so much for having me on your blog!