Books I & II of The Lova Chronicles is available now!

The Lova Chronicles kicked off with The Earthen Shroud in August 2013!

Want Your Book to Read Like a Movie?

Check out my book trailer and see how I did it!

Author Book Signing

I've only done this once, but I had the time of my life! You can too; see how.

Food-Inspired Art

Check out my guest post on Notebook Blogairy about how food inspires my writing.

Pages From My Diary

I started a new blog series: awesome, intimate, legendary.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Ira Nayman

I'm pleased to welcome you to another installment of Soapbox Spotlight!  Today, we're meeting with Ira Nayman, well-known for his hilarious sci-fi shorts.  He is winner of the 2010 Jonathan Swift award for satirical writing, and has several projects in the works, three of which he has already self-published.

Weird photo haha!  Tell us about yourself, Ira!

I have two self-published volumes in print, Alternate Reality Ain’t What It Used To Be and What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys, and a third, Luna for the Lunies!, which is available in various ebook formats from Smashwords as well as in print. They are what I refer to as “comic science fiction journalism;” a couple of my readers have called the material “a science fiction version of The Onion.” It’s an odd concept, so I’m happy for whatever help I can get in explaining it. I have also produced the pilot for a radio series based on stories out of the first two books called “The Weight of Information.” It can be found, in two parts, on YouTube. I am currently looking for a producer/broadcaster for the entire series.

What are your goals as a writer?

My main goal is to make people laugh. I used to write for a magazine called Creative Screenwriting. After 9/11, the editor sent out an email asking for articles for a special edition that would deal with the issue of the role of the writer in times of national crisis. My response was a piece called “Laughter is Always Appropriate,” in which I extolled the healing virtues of laughter. I have come to understand that making people laugh is (almost) always a virtuous thing to do. (This article, along with other examples of my non-fiction writing on film, can be found in the archive on my website.) In addition, there is a large vein of satire in my writing. If I can make people think about the state of the world and/or their place in it after the laughter has died down, I have achieved all that I could have hoped for.

Would or have you considered writing in another genre?

I decided that I wanted to devote my life to creating humour when I was eight years old, and I have been doing it on and off ever since. Humour takes many forms and is easy to mix with other genres, and, since I am always looking for new projects to expand my vision, I have taken the opportunity to dabble in avariety of them. In addition to science fiction and satire, I have written comic fantasy, comic horror, romantic comedy, situation comedy, surrealism and absurdism.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

I look at the world (every writer’s raw material) from a skewed angle, then layer a lot of different kinds of humour into my writing. This gives readers many ways into my writing: they can coast along with the word play and silly names, or they can dig deeper and find rich veins of the bizarre and the absurd.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

My willingness to go wherever my muse takes me. Writers generally, but comedy writers in particular, have to be brave enough to say what they feel needs to be said in the way that they best express themselves. Whatever inhibitions I have in other areas of my life (and, being a recovering shy person, I have plenty), I am proud that I have never avoided writing anything no matter how uncomfortable it made me (or I suspected it may make some readers) feel.

What do you love about independent publishing?

I wrote well over a million words before I started seeking an audience in earnest. This allowed me to develop a voice that is uniquely my own. If I had found a publisher early, I may have had to conform to other people’s expectations of what humour I should write, and I may not have gotten to the level I am now.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

Don’t try to divert a herd of charging rhinos with a copy of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale. Either that, or try not to take life too seriously, especially the things you usually take the most seriously. It’s a toss-up, really.

RJS Book Review

Luna for the Lunies is a compilation of “articles” written by reporters employed by ARNS, the Alternate Reality News Service.  Each article details the various happenings through the universe involving outrageous people, “monsters”, and alien beings.  The whole of the world has been turned topsy-turvy, with ironic (and mostly unpronounceable) names and bizarre occurrences that are hilariously absurd.  Woven in between these pieces is an-ongoing story called “Reality Threshold” about Brenda, a young journalist, who can’t seem to avoid trouble—mostly because she goes looking for it.

Witty and ridiculously funny, Luna for the Lunies will definitely have you laughing out loud!  Nayman takes the political and social issues of our world and satirizes them with vivid imagery and humor.  I especially enjoyed the section titled “Alternate Technology”.  While it is the first section of the collection, I truly almost wet myself laughing aloud at technological “improvements” gone horribly awry.  It reminded me of Dave Chappelle’s recurring skit “When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong” because Nayman’s depictions of an evolved and advanced world mimic in the worse way how our elitist mentalities can corrupt even the smallest of things.  Western culture and beliefs show their influence even in alien worlds, and mistakes our government has made light of become catastrophic in Ira’s alternate universe.

I truly enjoyed every moment of this book.  While the language is heavy and often had me reaching for my dictionary, the satire is honest and endearingly comical.  And let’s face it, America, we need to laugh at ourselves sometimes.

4/5 suns: This book can feel like a long read if you don't like sci-fi, but it is definitely entertaining nonetheless!

You can find Ira at the following links:

Les Pages aux Folles

The radio pilot can be heard:
“The Weight ofInformation, Part One:”
“The Weight of Information, Part Two:”

You can find Ira's books here:


Luna for theLunies! (various ebook versions):

Friday, June 22, 2012

Why I Write

I went to a writer's workshop a few weeks ago and was asked a question that seems simple enough now but baffled me at the time--why do you write?  I heard a great many clever answers that day and found even more affable answers on Twitter.  I asked some of my fellow writer friends who seemed almost as stumped as me.

Some said they wrote for the fun of it, the joy it brings them, and even to ease the stories pounding in their heads.  Some of their answers were downright poetic!  And I swooned at the romanticism with which my friends painted writing.  With answers like that, who wouldn't want to write?  With answers like that, writing becomes the lost art it has so often been deemed.

My answer?  It is not elaborate nor is it nearly as poetic as that of my friends.  I write because...well, I love to read.  There's a quote I used in my blog, Writing the Previously Unwritten, from Toni Morrison, "If there is a book you want to read, but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."  I've followed that quote with (nearly) reckless abandon ever since my eighth grade english teacher read it to the class aloud.  That quote is my "aha" moment, the very reason I do what I do.  I write what I would want to read.

That almost sounds arrogant, right?  "You write for yourself?"  Well, I can understand why you'd see it that way.  I know that to be "successful" in this industry, you have to follow the model; there are certain genres and concepts that people want to read about.  The infamous self-published-turned-traditional author Amanda Hocking studied the market and wrote a fantasy series that are still best-sellers on Amazon (hence her publishing deal).  She was making millions on e-book sales at 27 years old, long before a publisher approached her with a contract.  These are the stories each independent author strives to mimic--to become infamous and make their money on writing alone.

But, one day, on my journey to becoming an author of a novel, I realized...I don't want to be Amanda Hocking.  I mean sure, to make that kind of money just writing is every author's dream.  And if I were doing this for the money alone, I'd follow the model like Amanda did.  But my dream was to finish a novel and publish it--and I've done that.  The Grim has been wonderfully well-received, my appearances were more successful than I ever could have imagined, and I sit in my living room and smile every time I glance over at my bookshelf and see The Grim gleaming back at me in this glorious beam of imagined sunlight.  I don't have to sell a million copies; to myself and my family, I'm already a success.

You see, the way I figure it, if I don't like what I'm writing, why would you?  I love The Grim!  I fell in love with the story long before I set fingers to keys to write it.  And that's how I feel about most everything I write, even my prose and blog.  If I'm bored writing it, that boredom will eventually show through in the manuscript, making for a crappy read.  And I wouldn't want to read crap.  So I'm not going to give my readers crap.  I could write a fantasy series or a romance/erotica novel just to meet the demand and put some money in my pocket.  But if it's not what I want to write, I will inevitably become BORED with the very thing I love.  Instead, I write the stories I want to read, even if they don't happen to suit the popular genres.  And if I write it well enough that I would want to read it myself, then there's a pretty good chance you'll want to read it, too.

And that, in a nutshell, is why I write.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Emiliana Erriquez

Thank you for joining me!  Today's Soapbox Spotlight is with Emiliana Erriquez, one of our foreign indie authors!  I'm so honored to have Emiliana here with us to talk about her independent effort on Leave Me Alone, published on Kindle.

Tell us about yourself.

I’m from Italy, and I live in the north of Puglia, in Foggia. I work as a translator from English into Italian now, but I’m a journalist too. I've worked for years in that field. I’m married and have one wonderful four-year-old child. I wrote Leave Me Alone in 2007. It was in Italian, but I translated it into English and had it edited by an American editor.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

I think I was shocked like everyone else by the terrible terrorist attack in Beslan. I started to write Leave Me Alone months before that event, but it was that [event that] made me decide to finish it and have it published. I tried traditional publishing in the past then I went to the indie one.

What was the hardest part about writing this book?

It’s not writing at all, but the feeling I have about the little child. It was hard to try and identify myself with her and her thoughts while she was in that school. I mean, sometimes things are difficult to understand by adults, and I could just imagine how much it would be for a little child, or explain to herself what was happening there, and above all, why.

What made you want to be a writer?

Being a writer is something that I have always desired. I have been writing since I was a little girl. When I read some good books in the past I thought I would have been able to do the same, to tell stories. It is like a need for me, something I feel inside of me. Writing can’t be explained I think. You just feel the need to write down your ideas, your emotions, your thoughts and that’s it.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Well, I don’t know if it is writer’s block but what happens to me is to write for months like crazy and then I stop for awhile. There are days in which I don’t write at all because it looks like my mind is empty, then the time comes when I can’t go out of my room because I just need to be in front of my PC and write and write. If I need to do other things, my mind is always focused on my writing. I never stop thinking about what I want to write during those days.

What do you love about independent publishing?

The indie movement gave me the opportunity to reach people all over the world. I can share with them my ideas, my interests, my reviews, ask them to help and help them in return. I think it is wonderful. That’s why I love to be an indie author.

How do you come up with new novel ideas?

Travelling helps me to have new ideas. Recently, I went to New York City with my husband and child and we stayed there two weeks on vacation. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I’d have written once at home. I wrote down all my impressions and emotions while in the USA. Now that I’m home again, I’m writing my second book, directly in English this time, and it is located in New York City. I think travelling is surely the best way I have to come up with new ideas.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Just to try and look for the right strength to face events inside of themselves. Someone can save himself thanks to some friends of his, someone has to do it by himself but we all find the necessary strength to go on inside of us somehow.

What are your current writing projects now?

As I said before, I’m writing another book now and it is that kind of period during which I can’t go out of my room. It is a story about love, loss and regrets and it is quite different from Leave Me Alone. I have also another book ready, but I have to translate it into English before putting it on Amazon. I just wrote it without editing it at all yet.

Your writing space: neat or messy?

My writing space? I need to have it neat, I can’t write if the room is messy. Recently I discovered I like to have it with some blue displayed inside. It relaxes me. I have my desk under the window and can look at the garden and that’s another thing I like very much.

If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?

I suppose it could be this: never, never, never give up. Never give up on your dream because if you are strong enough to follow them and get over the difficulties, you’ll see them come true one day. It happened to me, so I know what I’m talking about. It happened more than one time.

Thanks for being with us, Emiliana!  Your book sounds incredible!

You can find Emiliana at the following links:

Twitter: @emyerriquez

You can also find her on Facebook, Goodreads, and Pinterest under Emiliana Erriquez!

You can find Emiliana's book at the following links:


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Larissa Hinton

Thank you for joining me on another installment of Soapbox Spotlight!  Today, I'm interviewing Larissa Hinton, who writes both young adult fantasy and paranormal romance.  She's talking about her latest work, Everblossom, an anthology of short stories and prose.

Tell us about yourself, Larissa.

I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia and Chesapeake, Virginia.  I now live in northern Virginia, but I always look forward to going back to the sweet smell of the salty ocean. I have always loved writing, since the age of 12, and hasn't stopped since. After many years of writing whimsical tales of romance and fantasy, I am now proud to be a self-published author. When I'm not writing, I teach English at a local middle school.

Outside of the classroom, I love shopping for the next great Wii game, searching for undiscovered treasure (a.k.a. sparkly jewelry) and plucking some fresh fruits (or vegetables, dependent on the year) out of my small garden.

What inspires you to write and why?

Everything and anything is the broad and truthful answer. Since I'm a college student at Hampton University, I walk to class a lot. Instead of plugging my ears with music (I don't want to draw attention to my hideous dance moves, lol), I think a lot about my books and what I can do to fix them. Practically everyday I do this and even though it doesn't sound inspiring, I always come up with a new short idea or a way to fix a problem in my book. Sometimes thinking about my personal life helps and sometimes just walking in somewhat pure silence with nature brings me ideas.

What first attracted you to your genre?

I was first attracted to paranormal fantasy books because it lets me escape boring reality. In reality, I'm limited by my own experience, but, in fantasy, I can be whatever I want and explore new worlds that were never thought possible. That's what I love about fantasy: pure freedom to dream and be what I want to be.

What inspired you to write your first book, and what was it?

The inspiration for my first book was Nickelodeon's Clock Stoppers. I saw the movie trailer, and I thought, "I could write a better story than that."  So I did.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?

The most challenging part about writing is putting your idea on paper and making it come across [correctly]. Especially for a novel. It's a long journey from the first page until the last, and to make sure it's projecting the idea from cover to cover from word to word is the most difficult part. As a writer, you have to be consistent, persistent, and have excellent time management to be able to complete a novel with style, grace and sanity. Seriously. Ask some writers if they haven't pulled their hair out over a story that just wouldn't translate from their brain onto the paper [properly]. Ah, the makings of a novel.

What is your greatest strength as a writer?

What I've been told my greatest strength is as a writer is my dialogue. I could practically write pages upon pages of dialogue and develop a whole story.

RJS Book Review

Today, I’m reviewing Larissa Hinton’s Everblossom: A Short Story and Poetry Anthology. The work is a compilation of short stories and poetry with varying themes and topics. The compilation is relatively short and can be read in one sitting. Having written a poetry compilation, and anticipating the publication of an anthology much like Ms. Hinton’s, I was eager to read Everblossom.

I, admittedly, had a hard time enjoying the short stories. Being a lover and writer of short stories myself, I suppose I was expecting Hinton’s stories to mimic the format I’ve seen in short story work before. However, these were decidedly different. Each story embarked with a very intriguing concept, but in presenting her conflict, Hinton never actually resolves one. Her stories are significantly underdeveloped and always end abruptly shortly after they start, leaving the reader questioning what happened and why the story is relevant. It is clear the author’s imagination is teeming with brilliant storylines; however, her execution of those ideas frequently left me unsatisfied.

Now, what shines in this anthology is the poetry. The author dismisses them light-heartedly in her introduction, but it was definitely the prose work that I enjoyed most. Her cadences evoke the mood of the poem distinctly, and each topic she discusses portrays an imagery that is vivid and relatable. I had a mind to list some of my favorites in this review, but there were so many that the list grew much too quickly. The industry is lacking poetic minds, and Hinton definitely has one.

Ultimately, the work had strong moments that kept me reading. Take a look at Larissa Hinton’s Everblossom and decide for yourself.

 2.5/5 suns: not because I hate it, but because it's clear the author is better than what she's given us.

You can find Larissa at the following links:

You can purchase Larissa's books at the following links:


Be on the look out for Larissa's upcoming work Angel Diaries!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

My Son's Book Debut

I'm having a proud mama moment :-)  My son, whom you often hear me talk about on my blog, has followed in his mother's footsteps.  Today, my son and his fourth grade class debuted their poetry and artwork as an end-of-the-year writing project in the form of their very own book!  The title is 23 of the Best Poems Ever, which I'm inclined to say they are.  Of course, that's not a fair review; I am obviously insanely biased.
These kids are talented, if I do say so myself.  This miniature "anthology" if you will is littered with poems about baseball, BMX bikes, flowers, moms, and Rita's icecream.  The innocence in each poem is what makes each entry brilliant, unique, and refreshingly original.  The illustrations coupled with each poem is classic elementary school awesomeness, as you can tell by the cover, and some of this work is deliciously hilarious!  I couldn't be more thrilled!

Take my son's poem for example, simply titled "Mustache".  The tale of woe is spun from the first person point-of-view of the mustache, lamenting being buffed, chafed, and dirtied by "corn dogs, hot dogs, even dogs", and finally, the inhumane death of said 'stache when shredded by the "dark sharp bladed machinery" its owner refuses to be careful with.

Yet another child describes a dream he's had of being a superhero flying over his city saving lives.  Another poem talks of a young girl's father and his new mechanical bull; the illustration makes said bull look very...bull-like.  And then, you see the incredible insight these youngsters have in poems like "Love", describing that all the angst of love "doesn't matter, as long as you love you."  Needless to say, I'm in awe of my baby and his talented classmates.  I will cherish this keepsake forever.

If you want to purchase a copy of 23 of the Best Poems Ever, you can email me at  A portion of the proceeds go to my son's elementary school.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Book to Movie Classics: The Woman in Black

For those of you who are movie lovers like me, I'm about to give you a goose of a DVD rental: The Woman in Black (2012).  It stars my beloved Harry Potter--I'm sorry, Daniel Radcliffe--and a creepy friggin' ghost woman that keeps jumping out at the most inopportune moments.

The movie is based on a 1983 novel of the same name by Susan Hill about a young man, Arthur Kipps (Radcliffe), who has lost his wife four years ago and has been unable to recoup ever since.  He is on his last legs with his employer who gives him one last shot at retaining employment: travel to Crythin Gifford to settle up the affairs of the recently deceased Mrs. Drablow.  What no one is willing to tell Mr. Potter--I mean, Kipps--is that Eel Marsh House is not only as drab as the former owner's name, but eerily haunted as well.

I didn't know the movie was a book until after watched it, but, me being me, I ran out and snagged a copy to read, just to say I had experienced both.  Oddly enough (and probably for the first time ever), I'm glad I watched the movie first.  Not because the book sucked, but because horror films and suspense thriller novels are two very different things.

Let me explain: we're talking a visual medium versus a written medium.  The written medium requires imagination whereas a film depicts the visuals for you.  The elements required to make a movie scary are decidedly unnecessary in a book.  The Woman in Black was much more suspenseful in that the reader gets an intimate, first-hand look into how Kipps is feeling.  It makes the scary moments much more compelling as he lingers at that door, deciding whether or not he should go in and discover what is making that loud THUMP THUMP THUMP-ing noise.  And of course, certain elements under which he encounters said ghost are lingering and more ominous.  For example, in the book, Kipps first sees the ghost at church, where you'd expect to be safe from such things, not at the house the way the movie depicts.  This scene, as it plays out in the book, would not have been as creepy in the movie.

Scary movies on the other hand rely entirely on the visual experience.  Odd goings-on in the main character's background that the audience can see but the character can't are necessary to keep the audience's interest.  I can't tell you how many times I yelled aloud, "Look out, Harry!"  (Snap, you know I meant Arthur.)  Or, "Don't go in there, what the H-E-double hockey sticks is wrong with you?!"  I jumped numerous times, huddled behind my pillow, and at one point, I turned the darn thing off, saying, "That's it, I'm friggin' scared."  My son came into the room toward the end of the movie and asked me, "Mommy, why are you hiding in the kitchen?" as I peeked precariously around the corner at the TV screen.

Needless to say at this point, both mediums scared the crap out of me.  I like scary movies that actually scare me.  A horror film that succeeds in being predictably unentertaining is a failure.  But to be genuinely anxious during a film (and then creeped out by it 48 hours afterward) is a win in my book.  The novel does the same by being foreboding and mysterious in all the right places, and filling in all the blanks the movie doesn't have the time to.  Are there obvious differences between the movie and the book?  There always are, but in this instance, you come to the other side thoroughly satisfied with both...even if your pants are a little more moist than when you started.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Soapbox Spotlight: Marita Fowler

Thank you for joining me!  Today's Soapbox Spotlight is with Marita Fowler, the author of a series of size positive adventure books. Her titles include Fat Assassins and Fat Bodyguards. Marita lives in Virginia with her husband, David.  She has worked in the computer and security industry since 1992. While she continues her professional cybersecurity career at Department of Homeland Security - she enjoys writing in her free time.

How did you come up with the title?

My husband and I always have interesting conversations on road trips and the idea for Fat Assassins (and the rest of the series) spawned from one of these sugar and caffeine filled roadtrips. If I remember correctly, the conversation started with a funny bumper sticker I’d purchased.

    Fat people are harder to kidnap.

I love this bumper sticker because it’s true. I couldn’t imagine someone trying to shove me in the back of a non-descript van. My size and my fight are the two reasons I think a kidnapper would find it difficult to snatch me. So, the discussion evolved into stereotyping and how two fat people could be great assassins and nobody would suspect them. And the idea for Fat Assassins was born.

Haha! How interesting, and true!  How do you come up with new novel ideas?

The series is called Fat Adventures, so I look for book ideas that embody friendship, confidence and excitement.

Tell us about your latest work.  Can you share a little of it with us?

My second book, Fat Bodyguards, will be released in June. It continues to follow the misadventures of two curvy country girls - Shasta and Ulyssa - after they accept another job with the mob. This time they’re guarding the mob boss’s daughter!

Does the writing get easier with each new book?

The writing gets tougher with each new book because there are expectations (at least in a series).  Your first book is nerve shattering because you’re worried readers won’t like it, but you’re an unknown, and there are no real expectations. The second book is where readers decide whether or not to add you to their ‘favorites’ list.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

I’ve hit writer’s block a few times. I usually move to a different scene that I’m excited about writing, then I revisit the problematic scene later. If I’m still having problems, it’s usually because the scene doesn’t belong there or I need to change up the wording a little to get it flowing again. My writer’s block is usually my brain’s signal that I’m off track.

What do you look for in a cover?

I have a fantastic cover artist (Les Toil) who paints BBW pinups, so this is an easy question for me. I like the covers to have strength, sexiness and comedy rolled into one image. I usually pick out a few key elements from the book and my wonderful cover artist does the rest.

Have you developed a specific writing style?

With my current series, I have a slapstick humor approach to storytelling. I try to make myself laugh at least once in each chapter.

What do you love about independent publishing?

The indie community is fantastic - from the bloggers to writers. Bloggers invest their reputation in the blogs and build communities of like-minded fans. They’re often willing to introduce indie authors to their blog fans through spotlights, reviews, interviews and giveaways.  Forget the pen wielding, surly editor at the publishing house - bloggers are driving the book market. The support from fellow indie authors (such as yourself, Dalya Moon, and Áine P Massie) is extremely helpful. Many indie authors are willing to share tips and tricks to help others succeed - they’ll also tell you if something didn’t work for them.

The other thing I love about indie publishing is the flexibility to control content, design, pricing and release dates. I enjoy working with my team to get a book out to readers in a timely fashion. Nobody likes waiting 12-24 months to read the next book from their favorite author.

What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?

These are some of the sites that have been extremely helpful for me: SheWrites, KindleBoards, and GoodReads. New authors should cruise around the sites and get a feel for strategies that might work for them. They should also find some writer conferences or blogs for their genre and listen to other authors talk about their experiences. Lastly, they should start building their social networking presence. Social networking sites are great ways to connect with fellow authors, fans and other community members.

Your writing space: neat or messy?

It gets messier with each chapter I write. When I finish a book - I clean off my workspace, organize my notebooks and start fresh. It’s kind of becoming a ritual.

Thanks for stopping by, Marita!

My pleasure!  Thanks for having me, Ray!

You can find Marita at the following sites:

Amazon Page:

You can purchase Marita's book at the below link; Fat Bodyguards available soon!

Available for 99-cents at Amazon: