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Friday, February 29, 2008

Crying In My Pie: The Scalzi Effect

A while back, a meme was going around asking if anyone had ever known anyone important. I discovered that many of my friends have rubbed shoulders with greats and near greats.

The best I could muster is once I met the guy who played Darth Vader. No, not James Earl Jones. The other guy. The one in the suit. Very nice (BIG) man, but not on the red carpet list of greats.

I wracked my brain trying to remember if I ever even came close to meeting anyone famous. Most of my friends have had someone memorable in their lives; rock stars, gangsters, presidents. But me? Zilcho!

And then it came to me. The most famous man I almost "met" was John Scalzi. Yeah, that Scalzi. And he ditched me like an ugly date. LOL

Well. Actually, I missed him by a few hours. A couple of years ago, Scalzi teamed up with Speculative Literature Foundation to act as a mentor. I submitted my pathetic little cry for guidance, with the cryptic message, "I like pie, too." It was a secret code only The Great Scalzi would understand.

Alas, all I got was a nice note from the administrator saying the mentor program was closed to any further submissions. Would I like someone else?

Hell, no! I wanted Scalzi! The guy went to uni in Chicago. He was a copywriter. And he liked pie. Just like me! We were perfect for each other.

So, John Scalzi, my almost mentor, I am still stumbling along, getting published here and there, and learning the publishing ropes all by my lonesome. You broke my heart and you never even knew it.

I have never been able to look at another piece of pie since.

*****
In other news...

Guess who just saw her new cover for TOUCH OF FIRE?
I am very, very stoked!

Can't wait to show it to you!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

KS Augustin, Interview

I met KS Augustin when she made a comment on internet tools over at Broad Universe. I was taken by her command of computers and their weirding ways. So I sent her a little note, asking for more information.

KS was so generous with her time and knowledge, I knew I'd like her right away. This began our long-distance correspondence and friendship.

What I didn't know then was how savvy and smart she was. This woman is phenomenal! KS lives in Singapore with a husband and two kids. Not only does she have a full time job, but she writes like a madwoman. Right now she has several works in progress going at once. Talk about multi-tasking! LOL. I am so jealous.

KS is also a martial arts expert --something I found particularly compelling. I can tell you right now that Asian martial arts is far different from the stuff they teach us in the states. Over there, it's a full contact, no holds barred sport. We're a little more wussy than that here. (grin) Having studied tae kwon do in the Western world, I'm glad it wasn't full contact. I kind of wanted to keep all my teeth.

I've read a couple of KS Augustin's books so far. Right now, I am reading THE COMMANDER'S SLAVE and I like it very, very much. It hits all my favorite things about SF and romance. And with this story still fresh in my memory, I had to ask if KS would be interested in letting me interview her.

Good friend that she is, she said YES! So without further ado, allow me to present, KS Augustin.

Was there a catalyst in your life that made you decide: "Yes, I'd like to write"? How long have you been writing?
I've been writing science-fiction since primary school, would you believe? My very first story was about an alien invasion of Earth. We beat them of course! LOL But I only became serious about writing fiction professionally in 2001. At that time, I was pregnant with our second child, throwing up every day, and I wanted something intellectually stimulating to distract me from four months of nausea and headaches. It was actually my husband, J, who suggested the writing, when he saw how miserable I was. He was one of my early readers, and encouraged me to find a publisher for my, up till then, private scribblings.

What part of the writing process do you like best?
Coming up with a title. That's the most fun. I know they can get changed (although that hasn't happened to me yet), but that's the most enjoyable for me. The rest is just sheer hard work -- the planning, structuring of the book, the writing itself. Oh, I also like the editing, believe it or not. It's nice to revise something that's already finished.

Where do you get your inspiration for your main characters in each story?
Mostly from 'what if' scenarios. What if an hermaphrodite landed on a two-gendered station and had to stay there for an extended period of time? (Prime Suspect) What could possibly motivate a martial artist who was determined to leave her past behind? (Combat!) I've got 2 SF wips at the moment and they pose questions too: how much would you overlook to pursue your dreams? (The Turk) And, what if you found love while masquerading as a murderer? (War Games)

You have an impressive martial arts background. The fight scenes in COMBAT! were often very quick. Do you mentally plan out the strikes and defenses in your head or will you try them out in real life to see if they would look good on paper?
Aw shucks, thank you ma'am. Yes, a real fight ends very quickly if you're good, and usually very messily, especially if you're not. It should not go on and on. For a start, you run out of fitness very quickly, as anyone who's been in a tournament can attest. Just watch a boxing match -- rounds of three minutes, with breaks, encouragement, wipe-downs and refreshments in between, and most of these superbly-trained athletes are reduced to quivering, sweating masses of muscle within three to five rounds.

It's tough. Everyone thinks they can go a round of three minutes, but get in the ring, with the adrenalin pumping, with someone totally focused on knocking your brains out, in a constrained space, fear driving every step, dodging, weaving, hitting, and you'll feel like fainting from exhaustion in 30 seconds. Guaranteed. Even an aerobics diva will flake out, because a different kind of fitness is required.

Martial arts is actually a very intellectual exercise. I have reams of notes on techniques from various styles, my own notebook on what personally works for me (one strategy does NOT suit all), as well as various physiological charts I ponder. Most times I can mentally plan sections of a fight scene out in my head, and I do this multiple times for each section before I set one word to paper. I don't really care how it looks on paper, as long as I've described it accurately.

Some of the moves (such as Ebony hopping onto the Catilian's back) I've actually done myself, albeit in a demonstration two-person set a long long time ago when fitness wasn't one of the f-words for me! :) I'm also very lucky in that J himself was a brown-belt in Judo. He trained at a European championship dojo. When I'm stuck, we'll break out a bottle of red wine and start discussing technique, counterstrikes, that kind of thing. Sometimes talk is enough, other times we'll run through some light-contact scenarios. It all depends.

Do you have any suggestions for writers trying to write hand to hand combat scenes? How can we make our scenes more realistic?
This one's a tough one to swallow, I know, especially when writers have so many other things eating up their time. However, nothing beats some practical footwork. Even signing up for one of those 6-week self-defence courses will give you an idea of what it feels like to have someone else breathing down your neck. If you're only going to write one action-packed book, then I can excuse the omission, but if you think you're going to write several action romances with literally kick-ass heroines, then I think it's the minimum necessary.

Personally, I don't like those short self-defence courses. I've seen friends go through them and come out with a greatly exaggerated sense of personal safety which, ironically, increases their vulnerability (the Dunning-Kruger effect. It even has its own name ... who knew?).

Additionally, I absolutely, thoroughly, and in every way, detest the kind of cop-out instructors who pair women with women. I mean, in any average attack scenario that you can dream up, who are you more liable to be confronted by? A giggling friend or a brutish drunken male? Think about it. But if you just want to get a feel for what it's like to square up with somebody and physically hold onto someone in a way that's other than pleasant *g*, I think self-defence courses have some value.
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I have a heroine who is smaller than her attackers and has no weapons at her disposal. What kind of moves could a female protag use to get the upper hand with a bigger male opponent?
Oh, these are my favourite! Being a small person myself (157cm in the morning ... uh, 5' 2"), almost everyone I meet is taller and bulkier than me, so I've trained these scenarios a lot. And, in unskilled hands, weapons are more of a hindrance than a help, so no biggie not having them.

Without a complete picture of the opponent (and that's the first thing you should put together -- their height, build, major fighting method, strengths, weaknesses), I'd say uppercuts. You have someone small driving a hard fist straight up under someone's ribcage, or even into their genitalia (as van Damme did in the movie Bloodsport) and that's a good start. (As an aside, even hitting or kicking a woman in the groin hurts like hell. I know because it's happened to me. And no, I didn't collapse on the floor. When you know there's a follow-up strike coming -- and there was -- it's amazing how much pain you can absorb.)

All those moves you see on TV -- the overhand strikes, the elbows to the head, the flying head-kicks -- don't do diddly because angular momentum is not your friend at that height, and targeting is difficult; it's plain physics. You have to stay low and bring them down to your level, then start the serious stuff.
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What kind of heroine do you like best?
I can tell you which heroines I dislike most! That's the doormat. I can understand someone who is victimised and eventually learns to fight back. But I don't like a person who remains a doormat no matter what life throws at them. And I don't like a person who vacillates between doormat and kick-ass just so we can move past a series of contrived plot points to pad out the wordage. Indecision is okay if there's a lot of conflict flying around, but intrinsic character flip-flops really turn me off. I like tough heroines, but I want them to be incomplete in some way, just like I want my heroes to be incomplete. I like it best when both people complement each other. In my only fantasy release to date, Ankoll (the tall, handsome hero) is strong, sensitive and out of touch with his world; Gamsin (the small thief heroine) is hard-bitten and cynical. She finds she needs his softness as a shield against what life's thrown at her; he realises that he needs her guidance and knowledge if he's to survive in the world. To me, that's the highest goal of romance: person and person as equal partners, complementing each other's skills and experiences, respecting the other's abilities and knowing when to cede control to their partner.

Where do your heroes come from? Are they an amalgamation of men you know?
I usually create the character from the scenario. Are there traits from men I've known? I'm sure there are. But I'm also equally likely to get inspiration from a character in a movie or an idle comment I overhear while shopping. Even movement can be important. There's one Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode I remember, featuring Gul Dukat. He walks out of a prison cell and it's just a split-second of movement, with his back to the camera. It was a wow moment for me! There was so much encapsulated in that step -- it was Marc Alaimo plus the uniform, plus the setting, plus the dialogue that had just gone before, plus the power implicit in him being able to walk out of that cell so nonchalantly. I became a fan of Cardassian men right there and then!

LOL Just one step .... So there's no consistent source for inspiration. It can come from anywhere.

You live and work in Singapore. How difficult is it to get the attention of English-language publishers? Has e-books made that a thing of the past?
I only have ebook releases, so I may not be the best person to ask! *g* I think, from various agent blogs I've read, living outside the two major English-language publishing regions of the USA and UK is an extra hurdle for writers. Kristin Nelson, for example, blogged recently about the tax law implications of taking on overseas writers. But for every agent that doesn't accept overseas submissions, there are several agents who don't have that as a hard prohibition. Having said that, ebook publishers have certainly made it much easier for me, so I'm very thankful to be able to write professionally at this point of technological advance.

What's next for you? Any new books down the pipe?
Definitely! All four wips I have on the cards for the next 6 months -- and I've mentioned two of them already -- are getting to category or full novel length. This is a change for me as, up till now, I've concentrated on novellas. I really agree with what you have on your blog page, Maria. Writing really is a "craft I work at every day". I think every writer has to strive for that if they're serious about the profession. I try not to physically plonk myself in front of the keyboard on weekends (as a wife and mother, I have other duties as well!), but I'm always thinking of writing. Always. Some of my best plotting has occurred to me while I've been in the shower! The last thing I go through at night and the first thing I think of in the morning are the next scenes in my current wip -- things like dialogue, describing the setting, choreographing the actors' actions. I think writing, and the exercises that lead to the actual writing, are things you have to constantly work at.

If you could write anything, regardless of genre or marketability, what would it be?
Would you believe, science-fiction romance and space opera? No, it's true! I don't want to be a one-book wonder. I'm in it for the long-haul. J and I make our long-term family plans based on the fact that I hope to still be writing (and selling, let's be honest here) in 10 or 20 years' time. While I can see some paranormal and contemporaries in my future, my first loves will always revolve around a science-fiction core. That's where the greatest inspiration comes from.

If you'd like to read more about KS Augustin and her books, here are some links for you to check out.
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Monday, February 25, 2008

Markets

Note: Thank you all for your emails, posts and phone calls after the death of my dog. Your concern and care meant more to me than I can express. I love you guys.


Black Gate

Black Gate publishes epic fantasy fiction at all lengths (including novel excerpts), articles, interviews, news and reviews. We are looking for adventure-oriented fantasy fiction suitable for all ages -- including urban fantasy, sword & sorcery, dark fantasy/horror, "magic realism" and romantic fantasy -- as long as it is well written and original. Create accessible, epic/heroic fantasy suitable for all ages… fiction that incorporates strong elements of heroic myth, adventure-oriented themes and exotic and colorful settings.

We pay 6 cents per word for fiction, and 5 cents per word for non-fiction, on acceptance.

*****

Wrong World

Paying 7.5 cents a word for original scary short stories of 2500 to 3500 words. Accepts SF, horror, fantasy, suspense, thriller, paranormal, supernatural).


*****

Chimaera Serials

PAY: $10 - $50

We are a site dedicated to the art and enjoyment of speculative fiction. We are currently seeking well written, entertaining stories that fit into one of the following categories: fantasy, adventure, dark fantasy, horror, or anything else of a speculative nature. We are seeking unique and well thought out stories with a level of sophistication appropriate for adult readers. Thrill us, and make us think!


*****

CONE ZERO: Scriptus Innominatus

Seeking themed short fiction between 2,500 and 12,000 words. Your story should reflect 'Cone Zero'. Keep in mind that 'Cone Zero' means what it means to you. Payment is £65 (UK pounds). Deadline is 31 March 2008.

*****
Wednesday: We have an extra special treat this Wednesday. You won't want to miss my interview with KS Augustin. One of my best yet!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Chelly

I wasn't going to post again today, but my grief is such that I feel compelled to get it out of my system.

My dog, Chelly died at one o'clock this morning.

That little girl and I were so much alike. We were afraid of things that went bump in the night, but fearless when confronted with battle. She had boundless energy too. In our prime we would run and no one could catch us. We were a team, and a force to be reckoned with.

She was typical for an Australian Shepherd, as close to me as my shadow, constantly looking back at me for reassurance. She was on a one-dog mission to bring order to the world. And in turn, my girl brought order to my world.

I've raised dogs for well over three decades. I even spent a few years as a surgical assistant to a vet. So you would think I'd accept death with a fair amount of grace.

Not so.

As she lay dying, I was angry. Angry at God, angry at fate, angry at myself for not being able to stop the inevitable.

Chelly lost her hearing last year, and her sight had been diminishing steadily. But she seemed to recognize my smell and my touch. So I lay down next to her, knowing she couldn't hear my soft words of reassurance, knowing she couldn't see me anymore. I stayed with her until she breathed her last, and then I broke down. My job was done. I could cry now.

There is an old American Indian legend that speaks of dogs' loyalty to man.

"In ancient times, when man and animals communicated as equals, a crack in the earth erupted. Man was on one side and the animals were on the other. The crevice grew wider and wider separating them and just before it became too large to traverse, the dog alone jumped over the chasm so that he could stay with man."

That was my Chelly. And now she's gone.



Free Books, Advice & Opinion

Posting three times a week rather than five is working out well. I don't get near as many insane impulses to jab a pointy spike in my eye like I used to.

I have a few announcements and links for you to check out today.

Writers' Retreat
If you have the bucks (I already know you'll have the inclination) check out Misque. This is a writer's retreat in Hawaii. (Yeah, try NOT to have a good time there.)

Participation is limited to 20 people and it is held at a 5-star resort hotel with catered meals. The workshop itself will provide very personalized instruction.

It's expensive, but it would make a helluva trip---and you'd get something useful out of it too. By the way, if you decide to go, mention that you saw the announcement on this blog.

Thanks, Christine for contacting me.

*****

Free Books
And from TOR, get free ebooks. Sign up for their newsletter and get on the list.

*****

Need Advice on Promotions?

Both Jessica Faust (through her author Stacey Kayne) and Rachel Vater had excellent advice for promoting your books. They were two of the most thorough and well thought out posts I'd seen on the subject.

*****

A blogger's take on manipulating emotion
My friend and crit partner, Mike Keyton sent me this morsel from sartorias (otherwise known as Sherwood Smith) on emotion in writing.

Sherwood Smith really struck a chord with me. I hate to be manipulated by writers. Do they think they're that clever? Or maybe they think I'm that easy? Neither would be true.

It's not that I can't be swayed to feel a certain emotion. I just don't appreciate being led by the nose. Good writing should be a little more subtle than that. Drop by her blog and see if you agree.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Link-A-Lot

I'm on a mission. During the recent video marathon (otherwise known as my hiatus) I came upon a Eureka moment--which for anyone else would probably amount to "Duh!"

I use a blog reader and it allows me to scan a lot of posts quickly. Now that I understand the scope of a blog reader, I feel comfortable linking to more people because over the span of several weeks I've had the chance to read them far more regularly (and in a more timely fashion) than I would have had I clicked on each individual link.

So I am on a mission to pass information to you via my circuitous route.

Very cool people who have linked to me recently...check out: Joan Mora, Diane Craver and Tia Nevitt. I even got credited for Firefly news over at Boxett.

As I find tidbits of interesting information, I will make it my mission to not only pass on the intel, but to post the link so you can go there too. In turn, if I give you something juicy, let people know where you got it. Let's share the wealth and make everyone brilliant.

Linking does several good things.
• It introduces what might be a new blog to your readers.
• It introduces you to a wider writing community
• Post enough good stuff and people start to take you seriously.
• You are providing a community service to other writers.
• It expands your perception on the world around you.
• Perhaps most importantly of all, it makes YOU visible, both when you link and when others link to you.

If you're like me and want to promote the writing and writers you enjoy, put a link on your post every time they give you something interesting you'd like to pass on. Not only will your blog show up on viral notifiers like Google Alert, but so will theirs.

So link up everyone. Promoting others, promotes you.

****

And since we're talking about sharing good intel, let me steer you toward Yasmine Galenorn. Yasmine had the most incredible 3-part post on the Nuts & Bolts of Publishing. If you're published (and even if you're not) Yasmine gave some terrific advice.

****
Also, the very lovely and talented Colleen Lindsay, had a great post on what sort of credentials you should put on your query. She included Clarion, Oddessey, and OWW where she (brilliantly) acknowledged that OWW has spawned some fabulous writers.

Way to go alma mater!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Markets

Postcards

Pays 5 cents/word.

Postcards from Hell are horror stories. Postcards from Uranus are science fiction stories. Postcards from The Woody End are fantasy stories. If accepted for publication, your story will be assigned one of these three categories. Beyond that, we are open to any territorial crossings you care to explore, not limited to the three above-mentioned genres, plus: future urban fantasy, steampunk science fiction, historic erotic horror, western mystery monster, science fantasy thriller, or whatever strikes your fancy. We like stories that run about 500 words.

*****

Eclipse Two

Seeking strong science fiction/fantasy stories between 2,000 and 5,000 words for annual print anthology. Pay is 6 cents per word. No reprints. Reading period opens February 1st 2008. Deadline is February 29th 2008. Please read guidelines for submission details.

*****

Sex In The Rain Contest

Fee: None
We want your original, erotic stories, and we want it to have something to do with the rain. Be sure to keep the word count under our 1,000-word umbrella, and drop it off, still wet and dripping. Desdmona's Sex in the Rain Contest is an erotic short story contest.

Stories must be 1,000 words or less. Only one story is allowed per author. Stories must be received by Monday, March 31, 2008. Prizes will be awarded to the judges' three favorite stories: First prize: $250, Second prize: $150, Third prize: $75
Honorable mention prizes of $25 will be awarded at the discretion of desdmona.com and the judges.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Josephine Damian

Let me introduce everyone to Josephine Damian. JD has a killer blog (no pun intended) since she does write suspense novels.

You might also recognize her name from the gold star, plus-plus she received from Jessica Faust during the last hook contest.

I actually found Josephine while reading the comments in the latest BookEnds contest, and I'm glad I did. You will LOVE roaming through her archives.

And if you do nothing else this Saturday, you absolutely must go over and read JD's posts on her one-day workshop with Donald Maass. Go here for Part 1. And here for Part 2.

Josephine gave such a fabulous report, she made me feel like I was there.

Welcome, J!

Friday, February 15, 2008

Publishing News

Lots of newsy stuff today.

Verna Dreisbach is a new agent at Andrea Hurst Literary Management.

She represents: Commercial & literary fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller, commercial women’s fiction, young adult, Native American Indian. No sci-fi or horror.

Colleen Lindsay is at FinePrint Literary

She represents: Science fiction, fantasy, horror, paranormal romance, YA fiction, pop culture, and graphic novels.

Samantha Cosentino joined Pippin Properties. This agency specializes in children's books.

Speaking of YA, Laurie McLean at Larsen Pomoda had an interesting blog about trends in YA books.

*****

This blog: It's so easy to get absorbed in blogging. Most of you know I usually post useful information and the occasional funny story, but I think I am going to scale back a little. (Just a little.) I have to write books too, and this blog is starting to get too big to handle everyday.

Starting Monday, we will go to three days during the work week unless something important comes up that I need to pass on to you. I will still post markets on Monday, the occasional interview, publishing news and book or movie reviews. The weekends will be a free for all, so stop in and say hi.

I plan on doing some guest blogging in the months to come so I want to keep my material fresh. On the flip side, I'd like to offer visitors the chance to guest blog here. If you would like to post on a topic related to writing, I'd be happy to host you, and more importantly, link to you.

Shoot me an email if you're interested.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

What's Love Got To Do With It?

I was going to blog on a different subject and then I realized: it's Valentine's Day!

I'm not what you would call overly sentimental. Greg is far more romantic than I am, which makes my women friends jealous. But now that I've been writing for a few years, I've come to realize he's the reason I always put a romance within my stories.

We've been married a long time and it's been a very good marriage. But it doesn't come without work and compromise. I think it's that experience I draw on when I write about the relationships between my characters. And after 33 years, I have a lot of banked knowledge in that department.

I write SFF with a love story at its center. It's the kind of story I like. Too often I read SFF where the author (usually a novice) puts so much work into the alien setting or creatures that they forget about the relationships between characters. After several years of studying the diminishing interest in SF, I'm beginning to suspect that this fatal flaw might be at the core of SF's decline. Note: That's only my opinion as a consumer watcher.

Relationships don't have to be romantic relationships. Great friendships also make for wonderful stories, as do relationships between people working toward a common goal. I happen to like love interests though. I like to see couples work out their differences and reach a conclusion.

I have several crit partners who have terrific stories where a friendship transcends all, or where a young character takes the first tentative step toward first love, or opposing characters join forces for the greater good. Each one of these stories is something I can relate to. The genre is irrelevant. It's the interaction that matters.

This is why I scoff at the notion that romance is not serious writing. What is more serious in our daily lives than relationships?

When people ridicule romance and romance writers I suspect there's a touch of phobia going on. Romance is silly, they'll remark. Yet how many of us (men and women) have never been in love?

You can't tell me men don't get all goofy when they find a woman who floats their boat. I've seen plenty of Romeos that make the characters in a romance novel look staid by comparison.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason some people mock romance is because it's a little too close to home. It's too intimate for them. No one wants to admit they can fall in love or that they have a secret wish to be loved. No one wants to admit that they crave the insane intimacy that drives the human race.

Love isn't silly. It's the core of human nature. And denying that IS silly.

So to all you romance naysayers, enjoy your Valentine's Day, and come out of the closet. We won't judge you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Review of COMBAT!


COMBAT! is a novella by KS Augustin. Judging by the title, I assumed there would be a fair amount of battle, yet I hoped it was more than that. Hoo-boy, was there!

The story is set on an alien planet where combatants willingly enter a high stakes fight. Only the best of the best make it to this level in a no-holds barred contest where the sleazy organizer, Dinoh, holds all the cards.

The combatants are monitored nearly every moment while they're there and their food is drugged with powerful aphrodisiacs, providing for a profitable sideline business for Dinoh who resells the footage for a pay-for-view crowd.

The heroine is Ebony Strike, a woman who feels compelled to enter this game in order to secure much needed funds for her starving planet. (Yes, the prize is that big!)

Her counterpart is Aldanen, a man-sized eyeful who will be her last combatant of this tourney (if she survives that long). Aldanen has an agenda of his own and it interferes with Ebony's plans.

I adore a good fight scene. But in my opinion, it's the one thing most books fail to do well.

Not this one.

Augustin, as I came to find out, is an expert martial artist, and it shows. The fight sequences were tight and easy to follow. There were no unbelievable moves, no angst-filled heroes or heroines thinking out every move, and no yakky dialog. The story moved forward constantly.

And the sex was hot. Augustin really knows how to set the standard for intimacy. Like the fight scenes, the sex scenes were incredibly primal and deliberate. The lovers' moves had an intensity and an energy that paralleled the clash between combatants. The heat is palpable and you can't wait for these people to tear their clothes off.

I recommend COMBAT!. It rocked. Buy the e-book here.

I contacted KS Augustin and as we talked, I was captivated by her very broad and colorful background. This woman has traveled the world and her experience in the martial arts is AMAZING!

Look for an interview with Augustin soon. I think you'll enjoy it.

If you have a question for her, email me or drop in a comment. Here's your chance to ask an expert martial artist and a very accomplished writer some pointed questions.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Markets

TSM Travel Writing Contest

Deadline: February 28, 2008

Genre: Nonfiction

Details: 300 - 1000 words traveling story or a traveling article.
You could provide travel advice, or address philosophical questions pertaining to the traveling community.

Prize: $150

E-mail: travelingstories@gmail.com

*****

A Cup of Comfort for New Mothers

Pay: $100

Submission Deadline: 4/01/2008

Few experiences bring forth as many anxieties, blessings, challenges, wonders, and changes as having a baby-whether it's your first child or fifth, your birth child or adopted child. And nothing is as miraculous as giving birth to or witnessing the birth of your baby. This heartwarming anthology will be filled with birth stories and newborn homecoming stories as well as a wide range of stories about the various experiences, emotions, and concerns involved in adding a new baby to one's life and family.

Potential topics include but are not limited to: nursing (or not), caring for a newborn, bonding/falling in love with infant, lack of sleep, relationship with spouse, how siblings respond, returning to work, balancing responsibilities, post-partum depression, self transformation, unexpected joys, life lessons, small miracles, etc. The majority of the stories will be about birth children, but the book will likely include a couple adoptive stories as well.

Likewise, most of the stories will be written from the new mother's perspective, but we are open to including a few stories written from the spouse's or a very close family member's perspective. All stories will be uplifting and positive, no matter how difficult the situation portrayed in the story might be. We do not want stories that simply recount misfortunes and sorrows and that do not clearly reveal a positive outcome or redeeming result (silver lining).

*****

Coming Of Age, USA

From Council on Aging of West Florida. A seniors-oriented lifestyle and informational print magazine and television program. Accepts queries for features, high-profile interviews and all departments: Caregiving, Health, Travel, Do-Gooders and Hobbies. All should relate to active seniors.

Pays up to $0.15 per word.

*****

Plenty, USA

Covers a broad range of lifestyle topics, from food, travel, and fashion to technology, business, and culture. Looking for creative, well-researched ideas that put a positive spin on protecting the environment.

Pays $1.00 per word usually; $150 for website-only stories.

*****

Tomorrow: A review of COMBAT! by KS Augustin

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Zombie Dog



This 25-second video features TANK, dog extraordinaire, who likes to live life to the fullest.

The voice in the background is Greg, husband extraordinaire, who happens to have a similar mindset about life, the universe and everything.

Since we live apart so often, Greg is great about sending me videos of things that happen around his place. He loves to record the Tankster. And they both like to ham it up. This video is titled, Zombie Dog.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

It's Raining LOTR Men

One more time for "It's Raining Men". This time it's the full version set to a montage of men (and women) from "Lord of the Rings".

Tomorrow is our last video.

Friday, February 8, 2008

It's Raining '300' Men

Forgive me, Greg for I have sinned. I found a video that combines one of my favorite movies with one of my favorite songs, "It's Raining Men" (performed by the Weather Girls). This video is just too much fun.

My only regret is that the music stops abruptly. I will post the entire song with an equally good video tomorrow.

But today is a "300" 2-fer.

The first one was the official movie trailer. The second is a bouncy little number and a lot of hard bodies.

300, the Movie Trailer

"Never retreat. Never Surrender."
I like that.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

I'm Already There

I'm feeling sentimental today.

This song, I'm Already There, by Lonestar inspired a scene I wrote for a novel that has yet to make agent rounds.

The scene was so powerful for me it makes me glassy-eyed when I read it even now. It's the death scene for a main character.

His lover refuses to let him die, and she has the power to keep him in the mortal plane. An older, wiser character reminds her that she may be able to keep her lover's body alive, but his soul is already gone. She has to let the rest of him go.

Ironically, it's a scene I cut because the story went in a different direction, but every time I hear this song, I relive that chapter in the book. It's worth keeping for a future book, I'm sure.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Thanks For All The Fish

And yet another movie link. This one you'll have to go to the site. It's the theme to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.

I liked the movie, especially Marvin, voiced by the scrumptious sounding Alan Rickman. But I think my first love will always be the cheesy BBC radio production of Hitchhiker's.

A few more days of videos before we return to our regular programming.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Firefly and Serenity: Defying Gravity

Serenity is one of my favorite movies. I love the way Joss Whedon developed his characters and it's one of the movies I watch for inspiration when I need to hone in on the characterization within my novels.

You'll be seeing at least one more of my favorite movie videos before the week is out. (Yeah, it's a doosey.)

Monday, February 4, 2008

The Quintessential Romance Novel

Given my penchant for kick-ass heroines and the fact that my current wip is a paranormal historical (with pirates, no less)! I couldn't resist posting this video.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Achmed, the Dead Terrorist

Not one for watching much television, I'd never heard of Jeff Dunham before. Then Greg introduced me to one of his routines through the magic of YouTube. Achmed, the dead terrorist is the funniest of Dunham's characters. ...at least, I thought so. Warning: language.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Good Dog Gone Bad

I am taking a week off to regain my perspective (Read: reclaim my life). But visit daily because I am posting my favorite videos EVERYDAY for a week.

Let's start with a public service announcement on smoking.


Friday, February 1, 2008

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

I am too mentally beat up to post anything of worth, so you'll have to settle for a quiz.

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Aragorn

Putting your appointed path ahead of any inner conflicts, you make your own rules for the benefit of all.

If my life or death I can protect you, I will.

Aragorn is a character in the Middle-Earth universe. There is a description of him at TheOneRing.net.

***

Hmm...I'll take him.