Friday, December 30, 2011


Happy New Year. I'm ringing in 2012 by opening up my blog today and tomorrow to anyone who would like to post a tag line/blurb/buy link in the comments section. To play, you must have your own blog set up with the same title so I can hop over and post my info on your site. It's a 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' type of arrangement. I can't wait to see how many great reads we can post.

Since I'm the site owner, I'll post my info as an example. Just remember, don't post an entire book, we want to leave room for other guests...oh, and please keep your blurbs PG rated. Thanks.
Double the Trouble - Two murders, two men, one with five-year old twin daughters, complicate life for Kate Wesley. When the identical twin sister of one of the murder victims arrives in town more confusion erupts.
Stranger on the Shore - It’s not every day you find a body washed up on your shore, but that’s exactly what happened to author, Jordan Blake, during an early Lake Effect snowstorm.

May I Have this Dance - Elizabeth Ashley returns to a place where she fell in love forty-two years earlier. Her memory takes her back. Back to a time when life was fun and she was full of life.
Connection of the Minds - Strange, realistic dreams and visions disrupt Rebecca Brennan’s life, especially when she actually feels someone’s pain.  Determined to find who shares her mind, Rebecca takes a leave of absence from work to search for her mind connection and puts her life in danger.
A Second Chance - Just when divorcee, Christine Rollins discovers new love, her ex asks for a second chance. Will she take the second chance with her ex or give in to her feelings for her new love?
Coming Jan. 4th -
Secrets, Lies, & Love - A dilapidated Queen Anne Victorian, a dead body, and an ex boyfriend complicate life for Meghan Shelby when she returns to her hometown after a ten year absence.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

For Unto Us A Child is Born

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.  Isaiah 9:6 

I remember singing this song in the choir many years ago.I miss those days. Life was simpler then, although I didn't think so at the time.  My children were still young, in school and I worked as School Secretary. Life was good. Christmas was exciting. It was fun waking up Christmas morning and watching their faces as they unwrapped the gifts. We had a system. I didn't want them to just tear into them. It would be over too soon. So we started with the youngest first and with each gift the next youngest opened one first. I made sure there was enough to go around so each child had a turn at being first.

I loved waking up, often before the kids. I'd put on the coffee and wake them each in turn, telling them Santa had come. Yes, we still believe in Santa. How could we not. It's not the same now, hasn't been for years. The kids grew up and married, have their own children and made thier own life. Now they have the pleasure of watching their own children.
For many years now, it's been just my husband and me. Not quite the same excitment. We've started to open our gifts on Christmas Eve when we got home from celebrating with my brohers and sisters. It was usually past midnight, so technically Christmas.
But the excitement of waking on Christmas morning just wasn't there. I have to wait until later in the day to watch the excited faces of my grandchildren. The hours seemed to drag by. I guess I'm still lke a child with the excitement of Christmas. Besides, I love spending time with my family. I'm not used to being alone. I went from a family of eight (a brother and sister were still at home when I got married) to eventually having six children of my own. Obviously, it was a noisy, exciting household and Christmas was a special time. It was my mother's favorite holiday and I followed in her traditions. We started the holiday right after Thanksgiving with decorations, Christmas music and baking. It was a busy time of year.  I wasn't used to living in a quiet house, especially around the hoilidays. 
Finally, the hour came for the kids to come over.  I loved the excitement of everyone, especially the kids. We still didn't let them tear into their gifts. It's so much fun to watch each individual child.
This year, we're doing something different. We're going to my son's for breakfast with my oldest daughter who's children have left the nest. This will be her first Christmas with no children in their house. I remember that feeling. So we're sharing the morning with my son, who wasn't blessed with children.
It won't be the same as when they were young, but at least I have something more to look forward to.
No Christmas morning will never be the same, but the reason for the day will always remain.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. Luke 2:11
I wish everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I'm busy busy being....

Here it is only five more days until Christmas.My gifts are bought and wrapped and now I have nothing to do. Funny, I'm usually panicky this close to Christmas, but this year is different. I'm not sure why. It's not that I'm any more organized, I'm not. I'm one of those people who like to get things done early and always have been. Not just for Christmas, but for everyhing. If I'm having people over for dinner, I have my table set the night before, serving bowls set aside and. if I can make any of the food the day before, I do that too. The more I can get done early, the better.
I was the same way when I worked many years ago as School Secretary. I got there early, put the coffee on and started my day before many of the teachers arrived. I liked to get my work done first thing, that way if anything unexpected came up, I wasn't rushing to get it done. Sometimes I miss working. It was a fun time in my life.
I loved the job, the people and everythign about it. It wasn't all work. We had some fun times in the office between the church secretary, the principal, pastor, and the teachers. It was a relaxed atmosphere.
Some days were busier than others and some seasons busier than others, like the beginning and end of the school year, but I enjoyed every minute of it.
It wasn't all that difficult balancing working with home life. My day started at 8 and ended usually at 3:30. Plenty of time to get home and make dinner. Plus my kids were old enough to help with the housework and laundry. In fact, one got married during my career and I was blessed with three of my grandchildren.
I didn't write back then, well not seriously. I kept a journal and I took a course for writing for children. I just wasn't cut out for that. I did write short stories, but I never submitted them.
Back then, I typed on an old Royal typewriter and then bought a used electric. It was qutite some time before I got my first computer. A  Commodore 64 and a printer. There wasn't an internet back then, so any research had to be done at the library.
Wow, we've come a long way. How much easier to write now then back then. Of course, I no longer work and my children are grown and gone, so I can write pretty much whenever I want. I said, here it is five days before Christmas and I have nothing to do. Maybe I'll go bake some cookies.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Interview with Penny Ehrenkranz

Today, my guest is author and editor, Penny Ehrenkranz. Thank you for joining us, Penny.  

1. What qualifies you to be an editor?
My job as an editor is that of line editor.  When I get a manuscript, it has already been seen by a content editor several times.  I look for grammatical errors, punctuation, spelling, and continuity. I am also on the lookout for anything the content editor might have missed.  For example in one manuscript, the author described her character as always wearing a certain color.  Then a few chapters later, she has her don a sweater which is the wrong color.  I pointed it out to her and she changed it.  An editor needs to be able to keep track and notice when something is off.  Another example comes from the book I’m editing now.  The author switched her main character’s name and used the name of a main character from a previous book.

I have a strong background in the English language, with English my main area of study in school.  I spent a number of years as an executive secretary where I needed excellent grammar skills.  I’ve also been a published writer since 1993, so I have a lot of knowledge. 

Before I became an editor for MuseItUp, I took an exam which tested my skills.  I know some people who applied failed the test.  When I got my job at another publishing house as an editor, it came about after I reviewed a book and found a number of errors.  I wrote to the publisher and jokingly told her if she needed an editor to let me know.  I sent her a copy of the book with my highlights, and she quickly responded with a contract.

2. How much input do you have in accepting a story that’s submitted to MuseItUp Publishing?

All of the editors have an opportunity to read submissions.  The manuscripts are loaded onto a forum.  Whoever has time, and all are encouraged, read the submission and comment as to the quality of the writing, including POV shifts, grammar, content, readability, and whether it is a good fit for our house.  The publisher has the final say, but she takes into account all of the input she receives.  If she decides to reject, she sends our comments to the author.

3. Who decides which editor gets which story?

We choose by ourselves. Sometimes it’s based on our own work schedule. Other times, we choose based upon our own interests. For example, I rarely, if ever, choose to work on a book of erotica. It’s not a genre I read, and so I’m not familiar with it.  I don’t feel it’s fair to the author for me to work on something I don’t really understand. 

If an editor begins with an author on a series, we try to keep the editor with the author for the entire length of the series.  Also, if the editor works well with the author, we try to keep them together even when it’s not a series.  Building a good working relationship helps the editor know the author’s voice and style.

4. What do you like best about being an editor?

Being paid to read.  I love reading, and this is a job where I can read all day long, and no one tells me I have other work I have to do.  I’m already doing it.  I also enjoy the interaction with authors from around the world.  Some I feel have become true friends. 

5. How do you handle a situation where you suggest a change and the author refuses?

I think most authors understand why a change needs to be made. When they do refuse, however, my method is to offer a compromise.  For example, I’ll let them ignore a grammar rule in dialog, but they agree to correcting it within a scene.  Since I started doing this a couple of years ago, I’ve only had one or two authors I remember who stuck their heels in the ground and refused to budge.  I think most authors can understand the need for a change if it’s explained properly and not shoved down their throats as a command. I try to be respectful when I make suggestions and listen to the author’s reasons why he or she doesn’t want to make a change.

6. Do you have a particular genre you prefer editing?

I love to work on fantasy and science fiction, since this is what I read for pleasure.  I also enjoy working on sweet romances, middle grade, and young adult.  I’ve found I like cozy mysteries, too. Besides erotica, there’s very little I don’t want to edit.

7. What’s the one thing you wish authors would avoid?

Point of view slips are the most annoying.  They will take me out of the story, and I stop and ask myself: “Who’s story is this?”  “Wait a minute, what happened there?” 

It’s okay to switch point of view chapter to chapter or scene to scene, but it doesn’t work when the author jumps back and forth between two characters within the space of one scene.

8. Do you have a job other than editing? If so, what do you do?

I retired from my day job in 2008.  I was the Office Manager/Chief Legal Secretary for the Columbia County District Attorney.  Now, I can devote myself to writing, blogging, and editing full-time.  Although I have to admit since I’m retired, I also give myself the luxury of spending time with my family, my pets, my garden and my craft projects, like crocheting.

9. What do you like about editing? What don’t you like about editing?

Since it’s difficult to edit my own work, I like being able to find problems and tighten up a manuscript in someone else’s story.  I wish I could do the same as easily with my own!  I also like that I get paid royalties for book sales, but I don’t have to do the marketing. 

I enjoy getting to know the authors.  I often invite them to be guests on my blog, having them answer questions about their work, and learning about their latest releases.

When I worked with my other publisher, I didn’t like that I only had one opportunity to go through a manuscript.  I have a bad habit of getting caught up in the story initially and missing subtle mistakes.  Having the chance to go through it more than once, allows me to find errors I didn’t find the first time. I have since “retired” from that publishing house.

About the only other thing I don’t like is when I get a manuscript later than I should, and I feel rushed with the edits.  I don’t believe this is fair to the author, however, it happens sometimes.  Life gets in the way, and earlier deadlines are missed.  Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often.

10.          What’s the difference between a content editor and line editor? Which would you rather do?

A content editor has the tough job of finding overused words, making sure the story makes sense, tightening up, and eliminating material which isn’t necessary to the story.  As I mentioned above, the line editor works on the grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as checking for anything the content editor might have missed.

I am very happy being a line editor.  I believe this is where my strengths lie.  Since I find it hard to chop and discard my own words, it’s difficult for me to do content edits on other people’s work, too.  I’ve done a few content edits, but I definitely prefer being a line editor.

11.           You're an author too, how difficult is it to edit your own books? Tell us about your book and please add an excerpt.

I’ve talked about this a bit above. I find it difficult to edit my own manuscripts.  As authors, we become “wedded to our words,” and divorcing them is very hard.  I’d much rather work on someone else’s edits than my own.

I have two books which I’ve been promoting recently.  They are romances released by MuseItUp Publishing.  Lady In Waiting came out in November and Mirror, Mirror will be released at the end of December.

TITLE:  Lady-in-Waiting
Tag Line: Through a series of misunderstandings, Mabriona is forced to live a lie, but when the man she loves awakes from his coma, will she confess her deceit?
Blurb: Mabriona is cousin to the beautiful and spoiled Princess Alana.  When Alana is forced to marry a man she despises, Mabriona is torn between her loyalty to her cousin and her attraction to the handsome Prince Blayne.
Tragedy befalls the cousins on the way to Prince Blayne’s castle.  Servants, believing Mabriona to be Alana, refuse to listen when she tries to explain.
While she waits for Blayne to recover, Mabriona meets his equally handsome younger brother, Madoc, a bard.
When Blayne awakes, will Mabriona choose life with a future king, will she be sent home in disgrace because of her inadvertent lies, or will Madoc win her love with his poetry?


“Today’s the day, Mabriona,” Princess Alana said as Mabriona entered the chambers.  She wiped tears from her eyes with an embroidered linen. “Prince Blayne will be here, and soon I’ll be his wife.  I think the worst part of being father’s daughter is marrying someone I’ve never even met.”
“You’ve always known your marriage would be arranged for the benefit of the kingdom, Princess, but I’m sure he’ll be very nice,” Mabriona replied as she opened the heavy drapes covering the windows. She looked at her cousin and sighed.  She wanted to feel sorry for Alana, but they’d had this discussion so many times. Mabriona was tired of it.  Alana had known from the time she was a child that she would not wed for love.  Why can’t Alana just accept her fate? Outside the day was as wet as the one before and the one before that.
“Nice?  Who wants nice?  I want someone handsome and dashing.  A knight in shining armor who will love me forever.  I certainly don’t want someone like my father who will make me do everything I don’t want to do.”

TITLE: Mirror, Mirror
Tag Line: Lindsay Baker’s purchase of an antique mirror sends her back in time to salvage a love torn apart by class restrictions.
Blurb: Lindsay Baker is intrigued by everything about the middle ages, but when she purchases an antique mirror and a costume to attend a Renaissance Faire, she suddenly finds herself transported back in time.  There she finds she’s been called by a witch to right a terrible wrong. 
Graham loves Prudence, but he can’t marry her because he’s landed gentry, and she is only the baker’s daughter.  Before Lindsay can return to her own time, she must convince Graham to marry against his father’s wishes.  Unfortunately, she also finds herself falling for the handsome gentleman.
Can she find her way back to her own time, or will she be stuck in a time when women had no rights?


After Stefany left, Lindsey adjusted the water spigots on her tub.  A few drops of bubble bath went into the water, and the soothing scent of lavender filled the moist, steamy air.  While the tub filled, Lindsey tried on her Renaissance outfit for the upcoming Faire. She couldn’t believe her good luck at finding the perfect pieces.  She tested the bath water to be sure it was the right temperature. Then she picked up her antique mirror to get a better view. Was this a scryer’s mirror at some point in time? It slipped from her wet hands into the bathtub.
“Nuts,” she mumbled as she leaned over the tub.  She pulled one sleeve up on her blouse and fished around in the bubbles for the mirror. When she pulled the mirror from the water, spots appeared in front of her eyes, and she felt faint.  While she watched her reflection in the old mirror, the background changed.  She no longer saw the inside of her bathroom.  She closed her eyes as the room around her went black.

Friday, December 16, 2011

What is your favorite Christmas gift?

This one is especially difficult for me.  I thought back  through my childhood and came  up with a tea set. I'm not sure what was so special about it. I believe I also got a doll, but something about that tea set stayed in my memory. I don't even remember how old I was, but I do remember it was white with pink flowers. Probably most of them were. Not only did it have a tea pot, cups & saucers, it came with spoons. I was pretty much a tomboy, so why I wanted a teaset I'm not sure. Okay, I played with dolls too, but I really loved climbing trees and playing ball with my brothers (when they let me). I can't say my older sister played with doll much either. I remember she got one also. Hers was taller than mine and walked. Mine didn't do much of anything but open and close her eyes, and it came with a baby bottle. That was okay, I didn't care that it couldn't walk. It was more fun pretending I was drinking tea - or more than likely coffee, since that's what my parents drank. Maybe it made me feel grownup.  I remember drinking hot chocolate in those cups a few times.

As years went on, I'm sure I received many gifts that I loved - Darned if I can remember any of them. Until that year 46 years ago today, when my second daughter was born.  I was getting pretty nervous with Christmas right around the corner. She was already ten days late. Back then doctors didn't think too much of it if you were late as long as everything looked okay. Obviously, it did.

I remember going to the doctor the day before and nothing indicated this baby was ready to be born. No pains, no dialation. Sure, she was down in the birth canal, but heck she'd been down there for a week.  My sister and husband figured they could make me go into labor. My sister actually made me do knee bends and made hubby drive over the railroad tracks real fast. What she thought that was going to do, other screw up my car, was beyond me.  Of course none of that worked. So she came up with this other brainsstorm.  I was to go to the hospital  and tell them I was in labor. Doh....did she think they were stupid and in about ten minutes would figure out I wasn't.  But, I figured, what the heck. The worse they would do was send me home, so off we went.

Well of course I wasn't having pains and when I got there, I had to pretend they stopped. But lo and behold, I was dialating, so they kept me overnight. The next day I wasn't progressing very much, but I was having pains, few and far between.  By 2:30 in the afternoon, the doctor decided to break my water. He said it would be a while yet and left the room. 

I looked at the nurse and said, "my baby's coming."
"No, honey," she said. "The doctor said it's going to be a while."
I shook my head. "No, the baby's coming now."
Maybe it was something in my voice, or maybe just to humor me, she checked me. "Stop the doctor," she yelled. "Her baby's coming."

I guess I just didn't want him to leave the hospital. Anyway, that Christmas we celebrated with two children. My oldest daughter, almost two, was so much fun to watch open her gifts and admire her baby sister. So, I guess, that was my favorite Christmas gift. To be blessed with two beautiful children. 
God was espeically good to us and blessed us with another daughter and three sons and they've blessed me with fourteen grandchildren and now one great grandchild. So what is my favorite Christmas gift? Every year when we get together to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior is my favorite gift.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Meet C.K. Volnek

Meet Tara Cummings

Hello. Oh, I thought we were meeting C.K. Volnek today to discuss her book, A Horse Called Trouble.

Sorry. C.K. asked me to take her place today. She’s busy getting ready for her book birthday on Friday, Dec. 16. She’s really excited and is going to give one lucky reader who leaves a comment on her blog-a-thon a FREE e-copy of her new book, A Horse Called Trouble. I’m Tara and this is the story of how Trouble and I met.

Oh, how wonderful. Can you tell us a little bit about A Horse Called Trouble?

Sure. As I said, my name is Tara, Tara Cummings. I was so happy when C.K. decided to write A Horse Called Trouble. It’s a horse story…of course. Lol. I’ve always loved horses, though until I was sent to this horse therapy program I’d never been around one in real life. Now, after everything Trouble and I have been through, I don’t know how I could live without him. He’s taught me so much.

How old are you, Tara?

I’m 13. I’ll be starting high school in the fall. I used to be afraid to go to high school. I just knew I would be miserable. Now, after meeting Trouble, I think I can handle it. I’ve made some friends and feel confident I can do it.

Good for you. Where are you from, Tara?

I used to wish I lived somewhere beautiful and green, like some place out of a travel magazine. But I’ve always lived in this dirty city. With it being in the mid-west, one would think there would be more green. But not so in the part I grew up in. It was all concrete and garbage. If something did try to grow, it was choked out by car exhausts and people tramping it.

Once, I found a bunch of ‘Little House on the Prairie’ videos in the dumpster out behind our apartment and I watched them over and over at Grandma Kay’s. (She wasn’t my real Grandmother, but I loved her as if she was. She took care of me when Mom was gone or drunk.) Anyway, I used to dream about running in the tall grass like Laura Ingalls does in the show. I never thought I would ever see that much grass. But going out to Freedom Farm was like a dream come true. There is so much grass and tons of trees. It’s the most beautiful place in the world.

At first I didn’t want to be at the farm. I was sent there because I’d been set up. I didn’t take Alissa’s purse…and she knew it. But it was just like her to get me kicked out of our school for it. I learned a long time ago to just keep my mouth shut and try to stay as low as possible to keep off everyone’s radar. Everyone expects me to be trouble. Partly because Mom was a drunk and partly because she dumped me, leaving me to fend for myself in foster care. I quit trying to prove to everyone I wasn’t bad. I couldn’t win. Then I met Trouble. Kind of funny, him being named Trouble. But we had a lot in common. And it’s because of him that I can hold my head high now. I never thought I’d ever feel confident or find happiness.

Freedom Farms sounds like a wonderful place.

Sigh. It is. It’s beautiful. I’d never smelled lilacs before I went there. Oh my gosh, I loved it! My first day, all the kids were gagging because of the smells. It was pretty bad. A guy was cleaning out some really raunchy stalls. But once I got past that, the smells grew on me. I even found myself liking the smell of horse sweat. Ha!

The farm is just outside the city, though it feels like it’s light-years away. It’s fresh and green, with tons of open spaces. Wide open pastures and white rail fences. Horses of all colors and sizes. Peaceful. And quiet. You can even see a million stars from there.

You talked about a Horse Therapy Program. What is that?

It’s a really neat program. In this particular program, they bring troubled kids and horses together. The horses are our teachers. I thought the instructor was so stupid the first day when she said that. How was I going to learn anything from a horse? But they do teach us—a lot. Horses could walk all over us if they wanted to, but instead they choose to work with us…if we work with them. They teach us about teamwork, respect and trust. I’ll never forget the first day Clancy tried riding. Clancy is one of the other kids in our program. He was not working with Homer and Homer let him know it. I couldn’t help but laugh. Yeah, that didn’t go over so well with Clancy. I thought he was going to kill me.

What did Clancy do?

You have to understand, Clancy ruled Marvel’s. Or so he thought. I accidently kicked him where no guy likes to get kicked the first day I got to Marvel’s. I didn’t mean to. He dumped me out of ‘his’ chair and my leg just kicked him there. Anyway, ever since, he’s been after me. I tried to stay out of his way and hoped he’d forget. Except Alissa wouldn’t let that happen.

Who is Alissa?

Alissa is a girl from my other school. She hates me. And I don’t know why. And she is so mean to Trouble, too. That was one of the things we had in common. I had to stop her from hurting Trouble.

Tell us about Trouble.

Trouble is a great horse. And he’s so beautiful. He’s what they call a bay—red with a black mane and tail and a white blaze down his face. At first I was scared of him. He was wild and crazy, ready to kill anyone in his path. But I can see why, knowing Alissa. If I hadn’t met him, there’s no telling what would have happened to him…or me for that fact. He saved me as much as I saved him.

Well, I need to go. Feeding time will be here soon and Trouble likes his oats. C.K. told me to tell you thanks for letting me stop by today. She also wanted to let her readers know where they can find her.

They can contact her at ckvolnek (at) yahoo (dot) com.

They can join her on her web page:, or visit her at her blog:

They can also find her on Facebook (C.K. Volnek) or Twitter (CKVolnek), Good Reads and Jacket Flap. Her book trailer is on YouTube-

A Horse Called Trouble can be found at the MuseItUp Bookstore:

At Amazon:

As well as other great on-line bookstores.

So, on behalf of C.K. Volnek, thanks again. And remember to leave her a comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of the e-book of A Horse Called Trouble.

Tara Cummings

Book trailer

Monday, December 12, 2011

I love this time of year

I mean really. I love everything about it. The hustle and bustle of shopping - okay, I'm not doing much of that this year and truthfully, I miss it. Really I do. I used to love shopping for my kids, trying to remember what I bought and for which one and making sure I didn't buy one child too many gifts. I always kept the packages even. It wasn't fair if one child got five gifts and one got six, or worse four. Yes, I also tried to spend the same amount on each child, but no way was one going to have more packages to open. So sometimes one got something that cost less. In later years, when I bought them mostly clothes, I often got them the same things. My daughters used to laugh because they all got the same sweater only different colors. No one could say I wasn't fair. Now all my children get the same gift. One year I made them all flannel quilts, once I made them home made noodles and perogi. My son said that was his favorite gift. Last year my husband made his spaghetti sauce and canned it. This year I have other homemade gifts. Being on a fixed income, we can't purchase many gifts anymore. It's   enough to make sure the grandchildren get gifts. Four of the grandchildren have moved into the adult category since they have spouses. They get the same thing my children get.
Truthfully, I think they all appreciate these homemade gifts more than the ones I purchased.
I love the Christmas music on the radio. It cheers me up and brings back memories. Memories of my childhood and early days of marriage and when the kids were young. What happy days. I loved waking up Christmas morning and watching the kids open their gifts. Now Christmas morning is just me and hubby and we have to wait until later in the day to enjoy the grandchildren.
This year, my oldest daughter will be alone for the first time on Christmas morning. I remember that first year. So I invited her and my son in law to breakfast and decided it would be fun to make it and take it to my son and his wife who don't have any children. I hope we can start a new tradition and I hope as each of my children experience the first year alone, they'll join us. It'll probably be a few years before that happens.
I love the Christmas lights too. Everything looks so cheeerful. I dread taking down the tree and turning off the outdoor decorations. It all looks so bleak and boring. I don't look forward to that at all.
So as I said, I love this time of year and hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holiday season.

Sunday, December 11, 2011


Wow, what a great turnout we had. Sorry it took longer than we anticipated to count the points.  But without further ado: The Winners of the Muse Family Feud Game are:

First Place: Larriane
Second Place: Jenna Storm
Tied for Third: JoAnna Becker
Tied for Third: Kristin T.

The top answers were:
1. Name something a woman might do to drive her husband crazy.
 a. Tell him how to drive
2. Name something a woman wears that a man doesn't.
  a. a bra
3. Name a man's body part that is bigger now, than when he was 16.
 a. his belly
4. Name a reason a man might send his wife flowers. 
 a. guilt
5. Name something women borrow from each other. 
 a. clothes
1. Article of Clothing You Can't Wash in the Wash Machine 
 a. jacket
2. Name a Recreational Activity Traditionally Done in Hot Weather 
a. swimming
3. How would you know your real life Prince Charming?
a. his smile
4. Name something that a Man Had Better Not Take Along on His Honeymoon 
a. his mother 
5. What might a customer do to Annoy a Waitress?
 a. small tip
1. Name a food that has one or more holes in it. 
a. swiss cheese
2. Name something you mount. 
a. a horse.
3. Name something you lose when you get older. 
a. memory
4. Name something you would play with in the bath. 
a.  a rubber ducky
5. Name something a man reaches for after he climbs into bed. 
a. his wife
Name something a woman might leave her lipstick mark on.
a. a cheek

Again, Thanks to everyone who played. It was fun reading all the answers. Karen will send the gift certificates to the winners. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Muse Family Feud


Okay all you game-player lovers,  Karen Cote’& I  decided to take the Family Feud on the road and bring it home to our own family to create the very first Muse Family Feud. In light of keeping it all-in-the-family, we polled the entire Muse-Staff, i.e. editors, cover artists, and yes we pulled in the big fish, Ms. Lea, to get her answers as well.

Our design, since we are one-big-happy family here, is to create something fun and inviting. So…what do you say? Wanna play? We’re giving away some big prizes…or at least, Lea is. LOL. Three lucky winners will win a book of their choice from the MuseItUP Publishing Bookstore.

All you have to do is look at the questions below and then visit to privately leave your answers (the answer link will be provided below the questions). Each question has a corresponding score and the three people who score highest in the answers polled, wins a book of their choice in our fabulous bookstore.

Are you ready? Set… Go!

For a total of 150 points, we polled the Muse Staff for the top 5 answers on the board.

1. Name something a woman might do that drives her husband crazy. (50 points)
2. Name something women wear that men don't. (40 points)
3. Name a man's body part that is bigger now, than when he was 16. (30 points)
4. Name a reason a man might send his wife flowers. (20 points)
5. Name something women borrow from each other. (10 points)

Double the points for a total of 300 points we polled the Muse Staff for the top 5 answers on the board.

1. Name an article of clothing you can't wash in the wash machine (100 points)
2. Name a recreational activity traditionally done in hot weather (80 points)
3. If you met the real life Prince Charming, how would you know it was him? (60 points)
4. Name something that a man had better not take along on his honeymoon (40 points)
5. Name something a customer might do to annoy a waitress (20 points)

Triple the points for a total of 450 points: We polled the Muse Staff for the top 5 answers on the board

1. Name a food that has one or more holes in it. (150 points)
2. Name something you mount. (120 points)
3. Name something you lose when you get older. (90 points)
4. Name something you would play with in the bath. (60 points)
5. Name something a man reaches for after he climbs into bed. (30 points)

Bonus question worth 100 points: We polled the Muse Staff for the top answer on the board:

Name something a woman might leave her lipstick mark on. (100 points)

DO NOT PLACE ANSWERS HERE! Visit to list your answers. Good luck!  Winners will be notified and announced on Roseanne’s blog Dec. 105h.

Comments are welcome as long as they’re not answers. You don’t want to give anyone hints.

An interview with editor, Tanja Cilia

Today, I'm interviewing Tanja Cilia. First of all, Tanja, thank you for being here today.  

1.    A question many authors used to ask me -What qualifies you to be an editor?
It’s a combination of things – an eye for detail; the ability to enhance a writer’s voice rather than stifle it; an extensive vocabulary; General Knowledge; a reasonably good memory; a sound knowledge of syntax… and practice, practice, practice.

2.  All of that is very important. I know you work for MuseItUp Publishing. Tell us,  how much input do you have in accepting a story that’s submitted to MuseItUp Publishing?
Manuscripts are placed in a loop and we editors each give our points of view about them. What is interesting is that something that screamsyes! to me may be inane or a total loss to someone else.  It may need a total change of point of view, or a drastic re-write and re-submission, according to someone else.

3.    Who decides which editor gets which story?
Again, it’s a combination of things. If it’s YA or MG Science Fiction, I will ask for it upfront – other editors have their own preferences. Sometimes, writers have their preferred editors, and vice-versa. However, Lea sometimes says “You’ll love this!” to one of us.

4.    What do you like best about being an editor?
The fact that I get to read both the raw book and the finished version; the friendships I have forged with writers over the years; and that I learn new things from my authors all the time.

5.    How do you handle a situation where you suggest a change and the author refuses?
If it’s a question of coherence, logic, anachronism, flow or unity, a regional or time-restricted word, the writer usually concedes the point. Sometimes, my suggestions would be at odds with the universe (in Science Fiction) in which the story is set; so minute details to clarify this would have to be inserted elsewhere into the story.  If it’s a deadlock, Lea gets the last word.

6.    Do you have a particular genre you prefer editing?

Definitely – it’s Science Fiction. I was weaned on the Gollancz Yellow Jacket series, you know! The fact that the Public Library was ten minutes away from my childhood home was a bonus.

7.    What’s the one thing you wish authors would avoid?
Some authors think that writing a book is just like writing a long essay – that a beginning, a body, and a conclusion to tidy up loose ends ought to do it. So they jump through loops to make sure that stock characters behave according to (what they think is) type, and woe betide anyone who dares point out that deep sea divers, for instance, do not necessarily pepper their speech with puns about salt and fish and seas non-stop.  Murderers do not consider each person they meet a potential victim.  I also wish authors would stop relying on spell-check.

8.    Do you have a job other than editing? If so, what do you do?
Since I was 14 years old, I have been writing for Allied Newspapers (Malta).  Apart from that [see elsewhere in this interview] I do several other writing-related matters, in Maltese and English, online and in print.

9.    What do you like about editing? What don’t you like about editing?
It’s nice when an author says “Good catch!” or “I never thought of that!” I like it even more when they say I helped them polish their book to as near enough perfection as does not matter. I do not like it when they sleep on the edits although they know that a deadline is looming, in the hope of panicking me into letting awkward bits in the manuscript through because time is short.

10.  What’s the difference between a content editor and line editor? Which would you rather do?
This is a tricky question – for me, at least, when I do content edits. Since I am also a proofreader for magazines, a translator (Maltese to English, English to Maltese), a ghost-writer and a journalist, I tend to tweak language, offer suggestions, check for redundancy and repetition, correct grammatical errors, punctuation and spellings, and point out inconsistencies (including indicating whether the reading level is readership-appropriate) as I go along with content editing – which I prefer. I know that strictly speaking, some of these are the province of line editors. When I do line edits, on the other hand, I cannot resist pointing out some things that are content editor territory.

Tanja has graciously given us one of her flash fiction pieces.

The Stranger at The Crossroad

You know what they say about truth being stranger than fiction?  Well, you can believe it’s true. 
So there I was, convalescing in Rome, reading Murder on the Orient Express, while on one of those buses that have the middle like an accordion so they can go round corners. Bendy buses, I think they call them.
I was thinking that this would have been the ideal vehicle on which to kill someone – you just sit at the back, with a potential victim, when all the people are in the front half, and do the deed. Then you alight from the door serving the hind part of the vehicle, and Bob’s your uncle.
And then it happened. You know how in another book - or was it another film? - Miss Marple saw a man strangle a woman on another train, and since a body was not found the police assumed she was rambling, what with being old and all? We were just nearing Le Quattro Fontane (the Four Fountains) – that group of four Late Renaissance fountains located at the intersection of Via delle Quattro Fontane and Via del Quirinale, the most famous crossroads of the world – or so the Italians say.
Well – I happened to look out of the window and I saw a bus coming the other way, and – suddenly – I saw a woman stand up thump a man on the head with what looked like a frying pan, and then, she just rolled him out of the emergency door.  I gasped, and followed the body with my eyes.
Suddenly, from behind the sill of the Fountain of Diana (the only one of the four, as I recall, designed by the painter and architect Pietro da Cortona, for the rest were the work of the fortuitously-named Domenico Fontana), up jumped a man dressed in black from head to toe.  He sneezed, and put his little fingers to his lips – I am assuming he whistled in that shrill chav ways I hate so much. A Black Maria-like car drew up, the driver hopped out, and together they half-pulled, half-lifted the man into the back.   Hecate would have been proud of them.
Our bus rounded a corner - I rang the bell but the driver did not stop.  I ran to the front of the bus, but I could not make the driver understand what I wanted him to do.  My Italian is patchy at the best of times, and he kept saying something like “Espresso, diretta, non posso fermarmi”.  I couldn’t have cared less about his offer of coffee when we got to the terminus - I just wanted him to stop, so I said “Polizia” and he said something that sounded like “My my my!” and I thought he was telling me I was making a fuss.
Of course, the nuns at the Convent of Saint Elisabeth, at whom I was staying, saw how shaken I was, and they understood what I was saying because a couple of them spoke almost perfect English.  They explained that I had inadvertently caught the direct line that did not stop. What the driver had really said was “Mai!” which means “never”.
So they drove me to the police station where I made a report about what I had seen. They found the body a week later, when they dredged the section of the Tiber nearest the place I indicated, weighted and dumped. Later on, the full story was splashed across the papers, on all three RAI television stations and on the Mediaset ones too. The woman was an Albanian hooker, and the man she attacked had been her pimp. The man at the crossroad was her boyfriend – an ex-client who wanted to give her a better life and had hatched the plan. The pimp had been threatening to have her deported, because she was not earning him enough money, and she did not want to go back home.
I had to stay in Italy longer than I planned, but since I was a key witness I was given free board and lodging for the extra fortnight I remained; and of course, my Italian improved no end, in that short period.  For a time, I was quite the media star.
This is weird, considering that I am a Maltese nun.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Welcome, Christi Barth

Making Waves at Sea – a character interview from Cruising Toward Love!
Welcome to my blog, Callie’s Cogitations.  I founded the largest search engine in the world, WhoWhatWhy.  Running it kept me waaaaay too busy to even daydream about a trip.  But now that I took the company public, made a gajillion dollars and retired at the ridiculous age of twenty eight, I’m off to see the world.  My friends back at my old company want to keep up with my super-exciting first vacation in a decade.  Personally, I think none of them believe I’ve left the country and want proof.  Plus, none of them ever take vacations. In order to live vicariously through me, they convinced me to write a travel blog.
To bring you up to speed, I’m on board the luxury cruise ship Amphitrite, somewhere in the middle of the Caribbean.  I promise I’ll upload photos soon – my pal Reed is the ship’s photographer.  His shots will wow you almost as much as his bulging biceps wow me!  He claims ship rules prohibit him from fraternizing with guests.  Hmm.  The brochure I got said, and I quote, this ship will cater to your every need. And my need is for a tall, slightly nerdy hunk.  When I tried to kiss him last night, he freaked out.  But stay tuned – I intend to find out what’s underneath that uniform of his.
Right now I’m in the solarium.  I thought it would be a soothing place to meet my new bestie, Zoe.  She’s nursing a wicked hangover, and doesn’t look pleased with my choice of locale.  The pale green glass of the ceiling filters the sun’s direct glare, but it still glints powerfully off the swimming pool.  I told her to stare at the wall of bright purple bougainvillea instead.  She brought this misery upon herself.  Sure, Zoe was shocked to discover she’s stuck sharing a cabin with the guy who broke her heart ten years ago.  Is that any reason to guzzle good French champagne like it’s tap water?  I don’t know why she’s so upset.  Apparently the combination of moonlight and a romantic deck stroll got to her, and she planted one on Nate, and then it became mutually hot, amazing smooches.  Huh.  From loathing to lip lock in one day. Might be a world record.
Anyway, Zoe’s got her panties in a twist about what to say to Nate. Should she wait for him to bring up the smoochfest? Or pretend she was so drunk she can’t remember what happened?  All excellent questions, so we need more input. Additional data always clarifies the correct option. Sorry, the computer geek in me typed that last sentence. 
Whoops!  Zoe just snagged my iPad and now is all in a lather that I’m taking notes on her, and I quote, ‘wreck of a life’.  But since we haven’t hit any ports yet, this drama between she and Nate is one of the most exciting parts of the trip.  Let me know what you think in the comments section.  Should she ignore ten years of bitterness and hurt to keep up the lip lock with Nate?  Or find a way to leave him stranded on a tiny island?

Can an unexplained breakup and ten years of heartache be cured by the romance – and endless buffets – of a tropical cruise?  When her sister is left at the altar, small town librarian Zoe Balis jumps at the chance to take the bride’s unused ticket for the honeymoon cruise.  But she didn't count on sharing a cabin with the man who broke her heart ten years ago!
 Army medic Nate Hyatt never told Zoe goodbye when he enlisted - or the real reason why he dumped her on prom night after a year as high school sweethearts.  And he never stopped dreaming about the girl he left behind.  Could this voyage be his chance to fix the worst mistake he ever made?  After all, a Caribbean cruise should be romantic… if he can convince her to move past ten years of bitterness and hurt.  
 Once aboard the luxury liner, Zoe befriends a bored Internet mogul with more heart than tact.  Nate vents his problems to a ship’s photographer battling PTSD.  The four team up on an island hopping treasure hunt.  The stakes grow higher with each of Zoe’s mysterious brushes with death.  They race to discover why she's a target and who's behind it, while still competing in the treasure hunt. Zoe’s never gotten over her first love, and is tempted to let Nate back into her life.  But she already lost him once.  She’s not willing to risk loving a man whose career keeps him in a combat zone.  Can Nate breach her defenses and suture her broken heart?  Grab a deck chair and see if they survive the stormy relationship seas as they cruise toward love!
For more information on all of Christi’s books, please visit or swing by her blog at .