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Sunday, March 27, 2011

Would You Spend $.99 to Help Japan?


My recent guest author on RRWL Tales from the Pages, Lindsay Below, has written a short story and she is giving all of the proceeds to Japan Red Cross relief. She is selling it for $.99. For this price, who wouldn't buy this story?

However, it is not selling like you would think. Come on people!!! This is to help the victims of the awful life-destroying earthquake and tsunami who are living in a precarious environment due to the imminent possible meltdown of one of their nuclear plants. The way back for this country is long and hard, yet some parts are already being built.

I don't think there is any reason not to buy this story. Anyone can afford this and please go to Smashwords and buy this. It takes two seconds and you have given to Japan. Lindsay is giving all the proceeds to this cause, because she wants to do her part. Please support my fellow Muse author who has such a big heart!!! Here is the link:

Once you have bought this story you should feel a sense of joy that you have done just a little to help. Also you will have helped to contribute to help her get to $10,000.00. Tell everyone you know to go there too.

Thank you to my new followers and please accept my thanks in advance for doing this. If you are a follower for awhile, you know that I don't usually ask for you guys to do anything. This time, though, it's imperative that we all concentrate on this proud, but devastated country.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Keeping Up with Writing Groups!

Lindsay Below, author
Meet both authors on RRWL Tales from the Pages this Thursday!

Muse Special this week. When you see how low these great books are now you will want to grab up a few.
This is a limited time offer.
So go over and check out the MuseItUp Publishing Special Sale


Have you ever felt like these people while trying to keep up with everything a new author must do?

Since I joined MuseItUp Publishing I have been a member of three new Yahoo groups. Two of those groups, composed only of Muse authors, bring hundreds of emails into my inbox every day! These aren't the kind of emails you can discount, because these are Muse sisters and brothers and we are tied together. When something happens to one of us it affects us all. In just a few months I have become tied to this group in a way that didn't happen with any of my other writing groups. The only time this happened was with my first critique group, which is still there for anyone who posts there.

Aside from both of my author's writing groups, I am also a member of several other groups and I keep adding on more groups. I am a member of SheWrites, which is a place where if you stop for a few minutes you can learn so much! Also, I am a member of The Little Things Publishing, Teen Word Factory and YALitChat. In almost every email in my author's groups the author has a link back to their blog. We're family and I have to go check it out! My email time has become the bulk of my time online. Today on SheWrites I met more authors and now I wound up joining another writing group: Night Owl Reviews where I also set up another author page.

Phew!!! Between all the email and now all the new writing sites, plus Facebook and Twitter and chats within my author's groups I'm feeling a bit squeezed!!! My publisher, Lea Schizas, says we should devote only one day a week to social networking. But I don't have one day to devote. Each group has their own day for chats and during the day things pop up that must be attended to immediately. Plus, of course, my own real life with its responsibilities and time crunches infringe on my writing time. I was sad when I realized that I hadn't posted a new blog since March 10th. Today was the first day I had nothing to do.:) I had no students and it was a true vacation where I could have actually gotten to my writing, but it was not to be.

I got on the computer and there was the announcement that SheWrites was having a chat about Marketing and Promotion. That was like catnip to me:) Everything I can learn about promoting and marketing my soon-to-be-published novel is gratefully accepted. So I was off to chat and before I knew it my real life interrupted and I had to leave the chat. I started thinking about this whole problem of joining author's groups to promote our books but not having enough time to actually write.:) Also, and this is big, without a cover I feel a little naked. I have meant to do a banner and I tried to do one the other night, but again, real life interrupted and I had to leave it. I think my goal this week is going to be to make a banner at last!!

I used to be able to play games on Facebook and to even keep up with my messages, but aside from people friending me and my occasionally friending people, I just put up status messages when I can. With Twitter, I also go when I want to promote my blog and radio show. But I don't have any time to keep up with both Facebook and Twitter. I miss the relaxation I once had to just play a game every once in awhile. But now I don't have a chance. Though tonight I posted a recipe question and that was fun:)

On Thursday, March 24th, Terri Main, another Muse author is going to be my guest on RRWL Tales from the Pages on Blog Talk Radio. Also joining her is going to be Lindsay Below, also a fellow MuseItUp Publishing sister. Please join us for another great show!!!

Please let me know what you think about juggling author's groups and email from author's groups.:) I would like to know if anyone has figured out how to manage them all. I don't want to go on digest or go to the websites, because I miss the immediacy of answering when people send them. Also, I love meeting new authors and each time I join a new group I meet new authors.

Until the next time, thank you to my new followers and of course, my biggest thanks to all the people who return to read my meanderings.:) I appreciate your support.:) You know, guys, that I will post my new cover on here as soon as I get it!!! I can't wait to see it.:)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Meet Lori Z. Scott, A Much Published Author!

I met Lori on the RealWritingTeachers' message board. She was on there promoting her book and of course, I told her I was an author too with a YA novel coming out in September. She offered to be my guest here and between the two of us we settled on a date months from the day we were talking. Now it's here and I am very pleased to introduce you all to Lori Z. Scott, author of the Meghan Rose series. She is a second grade teacher, a speaker, and a best selling author as well as the author of ten published books:

Unlike all of my other interviews the questions on here are not mine. Lori sent me an interview she had prepared for someone else. I am reprinting it here, though I don't think it was ever published anywhere else. I apologize beforehand for this, since I always like to have the interaction with my authors. However, this is very thorough and I think you will all enjoy learning about Lori. Here is a little bit about Lori before the interview:

Lori Z. Scott Bio:

Lori Z. Scott remembers three main things about growing up: laughter, prayer, and Super Cat.

As a child, Lori spent hours around the dinner table giggling at lame jokes, puns, and punch lines. Laughter is still a vital part of her everyday life and her writing. (No joke!)

Prayer played a key role in Lori’s life too. After all, with three boisterous sisters, talking to God was about the only place she held a prayer of getting a word in edgewise.

Lori wrote “The Adventures of Super Cat” in the margins of her high school science notebook. This daydreaming/doodling phenomenon has occurred several times throughout her life, but that information remains strictly confidential.

Laughter, prayer, and Super Cat all show up in Lori’s children’s fiction series. The books are funny (she figures, if it doesn’t amuse her, why write it?) and bursting with energy. The main character, named after her own daughter, is a strong, out-spoken first grader. Her best buddy Ryan and duck-loving pal Kayla help round out the cast.

As a speaker, teacher, and bestselling author, Lori Z. Scott has published ten books, contributed to more than a dozen other books, and published over a hundred short stories, poems, puzzles, articles, and devotions for children, teens, and adults.

How does your experience as a teacher help your 

One big advantage to being a teacher is that I’ve worked extensively with my target audience. I understand the challenges they face, the jokes they enjoy, the way they talk and act, and how they play. I believe that understanding gives my writing authenticity. I know the kids I’m writing for…and that better equips me to reach them.

The Meghan Rose series is geared for an age group that has shared a huge part of my life. I taught primary grades (K, 1, 2) for nine years before retiring to raise my own kids. But I’ve also worked with kids this age on a volunteer basis as a leader for VBS, Sunday school, AWANAS, Pioneer Club, and Team Kids at church. I also helped with an Outdoor Education camp, worked at a children’s museum, and ran an after school art club.

The teacher in me also enjoys extending my stories. That’s one reason why I included activities and discussion questions at the end of each book. I put even more ideas, games, and jokes on my web site, .

Tell us about your path to publication. I understand you started by entering contests and writing for 
magazines. Do you recommend that path for beginning writers? Why or why not?

After retiring from teaching to raise my kids, I felt content to be just a mommy.

But God is full of surprises, and he had something fun in mind for me. Step by step I feel like God led me to where I am now. It started with contests. I saw a flyer for an amateur science fiction/ fantasy writing contest, entered, and won second place. Encouraged by my success, I tried MOPS International story writing contest…and WON! After that, I joined a writer’s group, learned more about the publishing industry, and eventually landed a contract for the Meghan Rose series.

I think sometimes it’s hard for people to call themselves a writer when it’s not what they studied to become. I know it was hard for me since I got my degree in Elementary Education. Yet somehow here I am. And I love writing because it thrills my heart much the way music thrills the performer, a horse its rider, or a child her mother. Plus I love playing with and wrestling with words. I also find it curious how I can both lose myself and find myself between the inky lines I pen.

But I’ve wandered way off track! Let me go back to contests. I’ve heard mixed thoughts about entering contests. In their favor, contests help writers learn how to meet deadlines and write tight (within set word counts). Many contests have themes, which is another great way to help develop your craft. Some contests offer critiques, which is an especially valuable tool for beginning writers, while others offer a chance for publication or prize money (such as Highlights magazine’s yearly fiction contest). Plus placing in a contest can serve as a great encouragement.

However, contests have some pitfalls. You have to research the contest diligently…it’s easy to run into scams. Also, if a contest has a stiff fee and low pay-off it’s probably not worth your effort. Some writers I know won’t enter unless they know they’ll receive feedback on their submission.

Like contests, writing for magazines forces you to write tight, meet deadlines, and (often) address a theme. My experience writing short stories for Pockets magazine gave me the confidence and skill I needed to tackle writing chapter books for kids.

Perhaps the best way to break into a magazine is by submitting poems, puzzles, or fillers. Writers would do well to study the magazine’s style and writer’s guidelines before submitting.

Now, to finish answering your question. Do I recommend writers follow the path of writing for contests and magazines on the road to book publication?


I see contests and magazine writing as one a viable option among many. For example, I’ve heard Sunday school take home papers are a great way to build up writing credits and hone writing skills (perhaps for the same reason it’s good to write for magazines). I know some people who developed a speaking platform and used that to launch their writing career. So I guess my recommendation would be to examine your skills and interests, take note of the opportunities open to you, and take advantage of both. Develop your craft, never stop learning, be the best writer you can be, and, no matter what road you take, enjoy the trip. 


I understand you wrote the story for your daughter never intending it to be published. What made you pursue publication?

When my daughter was in first grade, her teacher started reading the Junie B. Jones books in class. Since Meghan liked them, I picked up a few copies. Well, I enjoyed the humor in those books, but when Meghan started acting and talking like Junie B., I started editing out those grammar slips, name calling and bad attitudes…and looking elsewhere. I thought there had to be an alternative choice—a book that was just as funny, but also had a good take-away value. I scoured the Christian bookstores. I couldn’t find any fiction for her age group, only devotional books and Bible stories.

Still, I kept going back and asking about chapter books for K, 1, and 2 grade children. Owners often commented that they wished they could offer such a book. In fact, they’d had numerous parents come to the store, all wondering the same thing: Do you have a fiction book my young child will enjoy reading? Like me, they all walked away empty handed or turned to general market series available for that age group…like The Magic Treehouse, A-Z Mysteries, Judy Moody, and Nate the Great.

Eventually, at my daughter’s urging, I wrote the book I couldn’t find—a book just for her. I put in everything she wanted—an interesting story filled with giggles and characters worth rooting for—and everything I wanted—good moral values (but with nothing preachy about the story at all). (I hate preachy, I love amusing.)

I was preparing a VBS program to pitch at a writing conference when my bookstore conversations came back to mind. Almost on a whim, I wrote up a proposal for a whole series based on the book I wrote for my daughter. After all, I knew there had to be an untapped market because I WAS part of that untapped market.

I see now that bringing that proposal along was God’s leading. All the writing I had done up until that point—the short stories, puzzles, poems, articles—prepared me for that moment when the contract came.

What was your reaction to the illustrations when you saw the finished product, being that your character was based on your daughter?

First, let me say that my illustrator, Stacy Curtis, is amazing, absolutely amazing. He’s an award winning artist and all around great guy. He was very patient with me when we first hooked up. He sketched adorable picture after picture for me, but I kept shaking my head and saying no. The problem was I had the REAL Meghan Rose living with me, so I had a very clear idea of what she should look like. That made me very picky. Finally I found his email address and sent him Meghan’s Kindergarten picture. He said, “Wow! Her personality seems to pop right off the page,” and then he captured that zingy, bouncy, big-smiled energy perfectly.

All the other character illustrations came right out of Stacy’s creative mind, and I’ve been just tickled with them. I also really appreciate Stacy’s sense of humor, generosity, and kindness. Though I wrote the text, he’s the one who designed the Meghan Rose web site…and I’ve gotten oodles of compliments on it. 

Barbara: Yes, I was captivated by the website. It is so perfect for the age group and bright and colorful.

I understand you drafted 3 more stories past the 4 that are included in the series. What can you tell us about them, and when can we expect to see them?

I can’t tell you too much because they are not under contract yet! But I will tell you this…as much as I enjoy the first four books in the series, I like the next three even better! The characters’ personalities shine stronger than ever. Meghan’s friend Kayla is a complete side-stitching HOOT. I laugh even thinking about the punch lines she delivers. And I introduce a new character named Sophie, a perfect foil to all of Meghan’s clever plans.

The titles of those books are Meghan Rose Takes the Cake (published ), Meghan Rose Knows it All, Meghan Rose Is Out of This World (published)*. In them, Meghan explores helping others, humility, and honesty (by title respectively). But, of course, no preaching, only lots and lots of laughs and very subtle life lessons.

*At the time this interview was given these books were not published. They are now available.

Lori's books are available on her website:
Also you can find them on

Thank you for being here, Lori and I look forward to speaking with you on my Blog Talk Radio show, RRWL Tales of the Pages in April. Look for more about this show in coming blogs.

  • My March show is going to feature two wonderful Muse authors, Terri Main and Lindsay Below. Please tune in on March 24th at 3PM Central, 4PM EST to learn more about these very talented authors. In keeping with my highlighting Muse authors I will be having Terri on my blog as a guest too.:)

  • It's getting close to St. Patrick's Day and The MuseItUp Bookstore is having a contest!!! Click on the banner on the top of the page to learn all about it. I'll just say that you could win $25! Unfortunately, I can't participate, since no one from The Muse family can take part. Darn!!! So I hope one of you wins!
Thank you to all my new readers and also thank you to my readers who continue to enjoy my meanderings. Please leave a comment or question for Lori. She is giving away a free book to the lucky winner of the drawing. Only people who comment are able to win.:) Anyway, you know I love your comments!

Friday, March 4, 2011

New Books You Should Not Miss Reading!

Sorry to all of my followers for not posting, but this month has been filled with too much to do in real life. I had physical therapy for my leg and knees twice a week continuing from January and through all of February. Added to this is my tutoring for four hours a day and the responsibilities I have to my family to do all the things they have come to expect from me. So when I got to the computer to check my email that was all I could do. Being a member of a very active authors' group also takes up a lot of my time. The Muse authors always have something going on I can't miss!!

I hope some of you got a chance to catch my February show on Blog Talk Radio, RRWL Tales from the Pages. I interviewed two of the talented authors from MuseItUp Publishing, Lin Holmes and her daughter, Kat Holmes. Kat has one book published and will be having many more books released in the coming months all part of a series. Lin Holmes, writing as L.J. Holmes placed 5th in the Predators and Editors poll for Santa is a Lady. Her newest book is coming out in May: Twilight Comes. Here is a little bit about both of her books:

Santa is a Lady
by L.J. Holmes

Christmas Miracles: Santa is a Lady - Book One in the series

Angie is someone who has had to walk through the fires of hell and battle with death itself to regain the use of her nearly shattered body. It’s Christmas, the time of wonder and magic for Angie, Cam a man who has spent the past nearly two years trying to pry his precious daughter from the unscrupulous hands of his late wife’s greedy Iraqi brother’s, and Jo, the precious daughter, who is finally free and in her father’s awed hands. Three people and one Christmas with so much magic swirling at last in their direction.

Twilight Comes
by L.J. Holmes

It's a typical day in Mick's life. A successful stockbroker, he battles the morning traffic, the zip of numbers across the exchange banner while making fortunes grow his clients, and the number pounding after-images continue to haunt his brain as he drives home.This is his well ordered life.

Home. His work life is numbers, routine, and rational. His home life? Secrets percolate behind closed doors...dangerous secrets...secrets that are about to tip over.

Will Mick survive the explosion about to blow the lid off his private, seemingly perfect world? Will any of them outlast the approaching turmoil and the world finally looking in and seeing the truth behind their closed doors? Or will death and destruction be the ultimate penalty for their secrets revealed?

And here is Kat Holmes. Can you imagine so much talent in one family???
The Lighthouse
by Kat Holmes

When Rachel Westmont inherits a lighthouse from an aunt she didn’t even know she had, she’s overjoyed. The news couldn’t have come at a better time. Newly divorced from a self-serving doctor, the change of scenery is just what she needs. So she packs up and leaves California for a little island off the coast of Maine.

Rachel falls in love with both Star Island and the beautiful lighthouse and cottage she’s inherited. But, odd things begin to happen right from the first day. Cold chills permeate the cottage and books fly off the shelves. And someone seems to be playing pranks on her.

But when the ante gets upped and someone tries to kill her, Rachel must turn to hunky local sheriff Craig Lewis for protection. Now bodies are turning up, people are getting hurt, and Rachel is starting to suspect her aunt didn’t die a natural death. Can Craig stop a killer from claiming Rachel as their next victim? A little help from a ghost may be in order.

You might ask why I am highlighting these authors. I hope to highlight every author from MuseIt Up Publishing that I can. I'm starting with these two, because they were my guests last week and because Lin Holmes has probably the biggest heart of anyone I have ever known. She is certainly one of the bravest people I know and also one of the most compassionate person I know. Yet we have never met face to face. I see it in her interactions with fellow Muse authors and in her beautiful cover blogs she does that have been nicknamed, Stationary Trailers.

Lin's latest book is The Pendulum Swings, and I was lucky to have won a copy in Lin's Glenn Kleier Contest last week. I started reading it and will definitely be writing my review here soon. There are a lot of stories about amnesia, but how many times does someone wake up over a thousand years later in a different body with no knowledge of how you got there? Here is the blurb:
The Pendulum Swings
by Lin Holmes

When you wake up in a strange room, that's bad, but when you wake up in a strange body, time, and everyone hates you, that's REALLY bad...and terrifying.

What do you do when your last memory is being skewered to death and your next is waking up in the body of another, thousands of years in the future?

You set out to be yourself and win over these future beings of course, because for some reason, the gods of your time have decided this is where you are supposed to live out the rest of your life.

Follow Siri as she belly dances, laughs, and teases her way through the distrust of the woman whose body she now inhabits, turning an entire household of haters into her staunchest fans...except for him. Can she win him over, or is he determined to only see the shell of who she used to be?
Kat Holmes has dozens of books coming out in the coming year or two. She centered them all on Greek mythology. Both of these women are extraordinary in their own way. I urge you to check out their writing.

Now for something completely different. Starting on March 7th a lot of the characters are going head to head with each other on the Muse blog. Here is the official announcement:

Come and join us for a week of fun when Muse characters jump out of the pages and duke it out with other characters, each striving to win the MUSE DUKE-OFF CHAMPION award. Vote for your favorite during the week in our character poll.

One lucky reader who leaves a comment will win the Champion's ebook.

One of my own characters from my soon to be published novel, If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, will be right there alongside of the others. You would think it would be Carolyn, but I felt that Jennifer will be more able to deal with some of these other characters. So it will be Jennifer Taylor duking it out with the rest of the Muse characters. She's tough and she has stamina. Don't forget to check out The MuseItUp Publishing blog. Then you can make an easy trip to the Muse bookstore where you'll find all of the new releases and the books I mentioned here. Though Jennifer will be making an appearance starting Monday, she won't be available with Carolyn until September. I think soon I will be putting in a countdown toward that date!!!

My next guest author will be Lori Scott, who has a children's book series published, The Meghan Rose Series. I am looking forward to her visit here. We will be giving away a free book to the lucky person who comments and wins the drawing.

Until the next time, thank you to my new followers and of course, thank you to all of the people who continue to follow even though I have been very lax about adding new content. I promise that is going to change, since I will be trying to interview as many Muse authors as possible as well as highlight them and their books.
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