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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Welcome Guest Author Máirín Fisher-Fleming

I have the pleasure of introducing Máirín Fisher-Fleming to all of you. Máirín is a fellow author with MuseItUp Publishing and she has written Dancing on the Dark Side, a supernatural romance. 

Máirín is going to tell us more about herself now. I had the chance to ask her a few questions. 

  • Where were you born and where did you grow up?
I was born in Kamloops, British Columbia, Canada. We moved a lot when I was younger so I spent time in lots of different small towns in BC.  I'm not a city person. Cities are fine in small doses but I'm definitely a rural spirit.

  • What did you like to do as a child?
I loved to play outside. I wasn't a 'girly' girl (Still not) . I was happiest making up imaginary friends and and having adventures with them. Any story I read or show I watched became fodder for my imagination. I was Thierry La Fronde, Red Hugh of Donegal even Eliza Doolittle for a whileAnd yes, those fictional characters will squeal about my age.

  • Where do you live now?
I still live in British Columbia. We have a small farm in the Shuswap region. If I could live anywhere in the world I think I would live near an ocean.  I remember stepping off the plane in New Zealand and thinking 'I've come home.' If you believe in past lives, I'm pretty sure that's an indicator. 
  • Who or what inspired you to begin writing?
I've always written. I just finally got up the nerve to try getting published. But if there was one person, I'd have to say it was my Dad.  He read everything he could get his hands on and used to write poetry. He also wrote hilarious letters to me when he was away from the family.
  • What are some of the other things you like to do besides writing?
I LOVE reading.  I also dabble at gardening although to see the state of the beds at present, you'd never know it.  I have a lot of hobbies, just no time to devote to them.  It's funny, I actually had more time to do stuff when my kids were little. Now that they are more or less adults (they still live at home) I have little time for the things I would like to do.  There is always so many demands on my time. 

I can relate to that, because my kids are adults and live at home. It's funny how you wind up doing so much less than you did when they were little. We do a lot of stuff together, though.
  •  How did you get the idea for Dancing on the Dark Side?
I hope this doesn't sound trite but the concept came to me from a song. I see dancers when I listen to music; I picture steps and rhythms and the flow of movement.  The Goo Goo Dolls' Iris was the seed. The line "I'd give up forever to touch you," mirrors Ciarán's feelings towards Bliss.  And it just flows beautifully. The images I had in my head of the pair of them dancing together were pretty amazing. Not even sure I could put them into words.

Please let our readers know the path to publication for Dancing on the Dark Side.
My beta reader (and the other half of my brain) lives in Florida. We met through a (cringe) fan Fiction site. After a year or so of playing with other people's characters (in our case it was Tanya Huff's Blood Ties characters) we decided that it was time to unleash our own characters.  Considering Dancing started out as a YA first person narrative and the first draft was 244,000 words, it was a rather long road. However, great experiences at the Surrey International Writers Conference led to where the gang (as I refer to the four main characters of Dancing) and I are today.

  • What is a typical day of writing like for you?
I WISH I had a typical day for writing, but I work full time as a shipper/receiver so writing gets squeezed in between my full time job and my other full time job—running the farm, looking after a family and herding cats (there are 7 of them here)

  • Do have any WIP’s that are ready for publication? 
It's nowhere near ready for publication but my current WIP is a sequel that picks up right where Dancing On The Dark Side leaves off.  That was always the plan. 
  • Where can we find Dancing on the Dark Side?
It's available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Kindle and iBooks to name a few. It's also available from the publisher MuseItUP Publishing. 

  • Finally, are you a pantser or a plotter?
I'm a little of both. I have a very vague outline of where the second book is going, or at least where I want it to end up. But I'm dealing with vampires, the Sidhe and other magical beings, so things take on a life of their own. So let's just say that I've sort of plotted it out but whether or not my characters will let me follow that plan remains to be seen. 

Máirín I have enjoyed learning more about you and now I am sure my readers are interested in finding out more about Dancing on the Dark Side. 


Spirited college senior Bliss is preparing to make her mark in the world of contemporary dance. She’s thrilled to be training at the prestigious Windhaven College of the Arts in Salem, Massachusetts. But things get weird the moment she sets foot on the campus.
Her new roommate, Rowan, is a mind-reading, storm-calling descendent of the Sidhe, the Fae of Ireland, with a secret agenda.
Ciarán, the charming TA for her performance class, is the most brilliant dancer she’s ever seen. Too bad he hides from the sun and has a taste for human blood. 
Bliss should have run screaming in terror, but Rowan’s magic has woken memories of a past life she cannot deny. The more she learns of Ciarán’s tragic past and the family of Sidhe he protects, the more she realizes she is a part of their world and her new ‘normal’ is anything but.
Enter the Order, ancient enemy of everything supernatural. To protect Bliss and the Sidhe, Ciarán draws her into the very heart of his magical world. Soon, instead of dancing together, they are fighting a bitter battle to prevent disaster from tearing them apart again. This time forever.

Oooh sounds like a book my readers would like. Let's read something from it:


“Bliss? Would you like to start over?” he asked again, sounding patient in a strained way.
“Should I start before or after I accused you of being a vampire?” She edged a little closer to the end of the bench and set her feet firmly into the turf, ready to run.
“Since you raised the issue, let’s go with that. I’m a vampire. Satisfied?”
She stared at him; how was a person supposed to respond to a statement like that? An icy lump formed in the pit of her stomach. His tone was suddenly much harder. And entirely serious. Laughter edged with hysteria burst from her lips. He didn’t move. There was no possible way it could actually be true. Just couldn’t! But even as she watched he changed. It was subtle, easy to overlook if someone wasn’t completely focused on him, but it was real. The eyes darkened until even the whites vanished, like the eyes of some rare and beautiful beast. And between his slightly parted lips, the points of inhumanly sharp canines gleamed.
“Holy shit!” She cringed and pulled away, promptly falling off the bench. Bliss scrambled back to her feet. While Ciarán, the most beautiful dancer she had ever known, watched an air of remote indifference.
* * * *
He watched her struggle to her feet. Her heart fluttered like the wings of a trapped bird. Gradually it slowed. Bliss looked at him intently for several very long minutes, while she collected herself. “You seem to be managing your condition very well,” she finally observed with clinical detachment.
“I don’t have a disease, Bliss. I’m a vampire.”
“So you’ve said.”
She knew what he was and he had no idea what she would do with the information. As usual, he lost the ability to think clearly in her presence. So he got up and walked away.
“You come back here!” She lurched after him, grabbed his arm, and tried to pull him around to face her. He rooted himself to the ground, and she trotted around to face him instead. “It’s all right, Ciarán.” She sounded unbelievably rational and calm; he was on the verge of losing it completely.
“Bliss, do you realize what I am?” Dear Goddess, he didn’t want to hurt her, but he would protect himself…protect the family…
“Yes I do. But now I need some answers.” She held out her hand to him. Very slowly he reached out and took it, allowing her to lead him back to the bench.
“So…you’re actually a vampire? You’re not a spy or in witness protection or something less exotic?”
“No, definitely a vampire—since sixteen-sixty-four.” He waited a moment for her to fully comprehend his statement.
“You’re over three hundred years old?”
“I suppose. Physically, I’m twenty-three—”
“Oh, my God! Is your entire family—er—coven—is that what you even call a group of vampires?” Bliss grasped his arm, excitement erasing any traces of fear. “I thought that only applied to witches. Are they vampires too? I saw them eat—they ate food—Niamh is an awesome cook—was that just an act for me?’’
“Slow down Bliss. They aren’t vampires, but they aren’t human, either.”
She froze, more shocked by that admission than by his earlier revelation. “They’re space aliens, aren’t they?”
Ciarán laughed in spite of himself. “No, but it feels that way sometimes. They’re Sidhe.”
“Say what?”
“Sidhe. The Tuatha de Danaan? The Fair Folk?”
“They’re just a legend.”
He raised his eyebrows. ”You’ll accept that I’m a vampire but deny the existence of the Fae? We are descended from them.”
“Vampires are actually Fae? Or Shee?” She didn’t quite get the pronunciation but it didn’t matter.
 I was Sidhe before I became vampire. It’s kind of complicated…”
She looked lost. “Everything about you is complicated.”
“It’s just easier to explain my place in their family. Niamh is a descendent of my brother, Aidan.”
“So he’s a vampire.”
“No, he’s been dead for two centuries.”
She looked at him from beneath a furrowed brow, the breeze drifting her hair over her face. She shoved it back impatiently. He could almost hear the wheels turning.
“I’ll try to explain everything but it could take a while. Could we go someplace a little more private?” He took her hand, and she stared at her hand in his for a moment but didn’t try to pull away. “You’ve obviously been thinking about this for a while now.”
 “After I overheard you guys talking, I did some research, but none of it added up. You still seem perfectly normal.”
“Thank you.” There was no attempt to keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
“You’re not what I ever imagined a vampire to be. You work in a coffee house, for God’s sake.”
“Would I be more acceptable if I lived in a castle, wore evening dress, and spoke with a thick Eastern European accent?” He leaned a little closer. “I vant to baht your neck.”
The accent was too much. She giggled.
“I have to blend in to survive. And up until now, I have.”
She sobered briefly. “Do you have a coffin full of dirt?”
“That’s a relief.”
* * * *
Resolve shrieked that she should get the hell out of there now! But Bliss wasn’t getting any nasty vibe from him, which was a little weird. He was three hundred years old. No! He was—immortal. Not to mention that his favourite meal was probably A positive.
Wikipedia needed to be updated. Vampires didn’t smell like rotting meat. Ciarán smelled like a Chicago winter when it was so cold the snow squeaked underfoot. Crisp, cold. Most guys had a sort of musky, sweaty smell…but Ciarán—God, it was intoxicating!

After reading this I am very interested in seeing more of it. Where can our readers find your work?


Although born and raised in British Columbia, Máirín takes pride in her Scots/Irish roots and in her family tradition of oral story telling.  Her love of reading and writing came at an early age, a gift inherited from her Dad.  Her taste in books is eclectic but there is nothing more satisfying than a well-spun tale full of intriguing characters.
            A former teacher of Theatre, Dance, Creative Writing and Journalism, she lives and works on the family farm in the Okanagan Valley, where she is slave to several feline overlords.  In addition to writing, Máirín is passionate about travel, especially to any place with an ocean beach. If she can’t have sand between her toes, Nordic skiing, riding her motorcycle and camping will suffice.


Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog.  Readers are welcome to stop by my Facebook page and ask questions (my website is still under construction—yet another project on my list) 

Máirín thank you for being my guest. I hope you will be back when the sequel to Dancing on the Dark Side is published.

Until the next time I went to see Jason Isbell last night at the refurbished Capitol Theater in Portchester, NY. Fantastic concert and if you have never listened to his music I suggest you do. He writes with truth and emotion and his voice is beautiful. 

I am on J.Q. Rose's blog Girls Succeed talking about After. Why I wrote it, and how you can use your own life experiences in writing your novel. I am giving away a free book of After for anyone who knows the name of one of Carolyn Samuels's best friends in If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. So far no one has answered. Just leave your answer in the comments on her blog.

My radio show, Red River Radio Tales from the Pages is filling up with guests. My May show will feature Whit McClendon, who writes sci fi fantasy. He will be talking about his new book, Mage's Burden. Whit is also a black belt instructor in karate and other martial arts. Here is another show that I know you will want to hear. It will be on Thursday, May 28, 2015 at 4PM EST - 6PM EST.

June show is going to have a return guest, Joseph Aquilino and a new poet friend of mine, Phillip Quotient. It should be a very interesting and lively show so you won't want to miss it. Tune into Blog Talk Radio on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

I met Phillip Quotient on the chat room at World Poetry Open Mic  along with a lot of other delightful people who also write poetry. We read our poems every Friday night. For anyone who has ever wanted to share their poetry this is the place. There is absolutely no judgement and you meet other poets. 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Welcome Guest Author Christopher Maninno

Do you feel the sudden chill on this blog? You are in the presence of my guest author for today, Christopher Mannino, the author of School of Deaths!!! Christopher is a fellow author at MuseItUp Publishing. Though the subject of his book might seem a little chilling, the author is not.

I had the pleasure of interviewing him and I hope you will learn more about this interesting author:

  • Where did you grow up and where do you live now?
As a youg kid, I lived in the Berkshire Mountains in Western Massachusetts. I lived in a very rural area, and spent a lot of time daydreaming while wandering around the woods, which helped inspire me creatively. I now live just outside Washington, DC. 
  • What and or who inspired you to begin writing?
I have been writing since I was very young. I devoured books as a kid, and the love of reading easily led to a love of writing. My first novel (unpublished) took me ten years, beginning when I graduated high school.
  • Besides writing, what do you do for fun?

I love to act, sing, travel, and cook.  
  • Your history of education shows that you really love theater and theater education. How do you incorporate this love in your writing?
I am fortunate enough to be pursuing both of my dreams.  Theatre and writing are two of my greatest passions.  One way teaching has influenced me, is through my daily work with teenagers.  I am a young adult author who interacts with actual young adults on a daily basis.  This helps me understand their needs, wants, and desires better than authors who do not work with kids.  Theatre is also highly creative.  I see the world in a slightly different way thanks to theatre, and the use this ability to create abstract visualizations when writing.

On the other hand, my job makes writing more difficult at times.  I am usually the first teacher to school and the last one to leave, because of the many theatre programs I run.  Time is not my ally, and I struggle to find time to write.  Most of my first drafts are done purely in summer vacations.
  • Please tell our readers what a typical day of writing is for you.
I'm not sure I have a "typical" writing day. Some days I get no writing at all, other days, particularly during the summer, I might write 5 or 6 thousand words. Generally I go for a walk or go outside briefly for inspiration (if possible I write outside). I like to listen to "film scores" on Pandora as I draft. I usually start with a bit of note-taking/outlining, and then just start writing.  
  • When you are writing are you a “pantser” or a plotter?
  I am definitely in between.  I need to have an idea of where I’m going, and I sketch out with pencil and paper where I want my story to take me.  I outline roughly at the beginning, but once I have a general idea, I let the story run its own course. 
  • What inspired you to write School of Deaths?
The idea for School of Deaths emerged when I was finishing my graduate degree at Oxford University.  I spent four months abroad, far from everyone I knew.  Every week, I traveled somewhere I had never been before.  I would climb castle ruins in Wales and visit cathedrals in England.  One of my favorite trips was to Tintagel Castle in Cornwall.  I crept to the cliff face of Barras Nose, a stony peninsula jutting into the North Sea and overlooking the ruins of Tintagel, which some believe to be the birthplace of King Arthur.  It was dawn, there were no other people in sight, and I had to struggle against the wind, fighting to keep my balance so I didn’t crash into the ocean.  I imagined being buffeted by winds, alone, and what that would do to a character, and came up with the character of Suzie, alone in a world of men, buffeted by sexism.

Returning to Oxford, I envisioned Suzie alone in a strange school.  The idea of a school of trained Reapers appealed to me, giving a fantasy edge to her story.  In an early draft, the school of deaths resembled Oxford.  However a beta reader told me, very correctly, that Oxford was the inspiration for JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series. I eventually changed the setting drastically to avoid that parallel.

  • Would you please tell our readers the path to publication for School of Deaths.
School of Deaths was written as the beginning of a series, but a stand-alone novel if necessary. I wasn't sure it would be published. I spent a year following the draft's completion querying agents and eventually publishers. Two publishers actually accepted simultaneously, and I decided to go with MuseItUp.   
  • With everything you are doing, how do you find time to write and publish a book?
I'm not sure myself. I don't sleep much.  
  • Are you planning a sequel to School of Deaths?
School of Deaths is the first book in a trilogy called "The Scythe Wielder's Secret." The second novel, "Sword of Deaths," which is also being published by MuseItUp, is scheduled for publication this coming June. I am currently working on the final novel, "Daughter of Deaths" 
  • Do you have any WIP’s that are close to publication? 
Sword of Deaths releases June.  
  • What kind of promotion are you doing for School of Deaths?
I recently completed a blog tour and a thunderclap campaign. My main efforts, however, are in live events. I am attending a number of sci-fi/fantasy conventions as a vendor, selling both novels and art prints inspired by the books, and painted by my cousin. At the end of this month, for instance, I will attend AwesomeCon, an event with an anticipated attendance of about 55 thousand guests, and will be selling in a booth right near Star Trek's George Takei.  

Just a heads up that MuseItUp Publishing is one of the sponsors for Imaginarium 2015 being held in Louisville, KY in September. You should consider trying to get there for this. I will be there along with a few other MuseItUp authors.
  • Finally, where can our readers find your book?
The best place is to visit 
for all purchase links.  School of Deaths is available both in ebook and paperback, with an audiobook coming in late summer.   

Now let's find out more about your book, School of Deaths


The Scythe Wielder's Secret, Book One

Thrust into a world of men, can a timid girl find bravery as the first female Death? 

Thirteen-year-old Suzie Sarnio always believed the Grim Reaper was a fairy tale image of a skeleton with a scythe. Now, forced to enter the College of Deaths, she finds herself training to bring souls from the Living World to the Hereafter. The task is demanding enough, but as the only female in the all-male College, she quickly becomes a target. Attacked by both classmates and strangers, Suzie is alone in a world where even her teachers want her to fail. 

Scythes hungry for souls, Deaths who enslave a race of mysterious magicians, and echoes of an ancient war with Dragons.

As her year progresses, Suzie suspects her presence isn't an accident. She uncovers a plot to overthrow the World of Deaths. Now she must also discover the reason she's been brought there: the first female Death in a million years.

Wow, can we get a sneak peek at some of this book?


She walked to Hann who stood in the center of the class. He handed her a long scythe, even taller than she was. It was light in her hand; the handle danced with energy. The blade slid through the air like sunlight through water. Life flowed down from the blade, coursing through the handle, sending tingles into her arm. Sweat beaded in her palms and trickled from her forehead.

“Let the scythe do the work,” reminded Hann. “And you’ll be fine.”

She nodded and walked back to her group. She tied herself to Frank and Billy using a tether. Then she held the scythe in her hands and paused.

This was ridiculous. She was a thirteen-year-old girl, a kid from Maryland, holding a scythe. Not some costume piece, but an actual, working scythe. Now she, Suzie, was supposed to Reap a soul. Even her mysteries with Sindril and the Dragon Key suddenly seemed trivial.

“Good luck,” said Frank.

She adjusted her grip and adjusted again. The tingles in the scythe grew stronger, itching her hands and arms. It’s ready. It wants to swing; to do its job. She moved her hands a third time and Frank glanced at Billy. Billy adjusted his mask.

“What’s the matter,” taunted Luc behind her. “Is the little girl scared?”

She clutched the handle and let the blade fall. She hardly moved, but the blade shot downward, slicing air, light, heat, even thought. For an instant, her arm was on fire and the world vanished into darkness.

The smell of strawberries exploded around her as color, form, and details blurred into a single, unending stream of confusion. She heard the sound of screams in the distance, and tears. The scythe pulled her down, down, down between the worlds. She slipped past the twin suns of the In-Between and watched the Mortal World approaching. On the edge of her vision, she glimpsed two bright pools of green fire.

“You grow stronger every day,” said the eyes. “But the greatest challenge is yet to come.”

She tried to turn, but the scythe pulled her onward. She coursed through stars and space, beyond time and emotion. Lighter than a daydream, she slipped through a crevice: the gap between light and shadow. The blade twisted, finding its way.

A face appeared before her: an elderly man she didn’t recognize. Somehow, she sensed a name: Elias Stoneridge.

She landed hard, stumbling as her feet hit a tiled floor. Beads of white light trickled off the blade.

For a moment, she couldn’t tell where she was. She heard beeps and the slow intake of air.

Frank patted her on the shoulder. “You okay?” he asked.


“Remember, don’t let anyone else see us,” said Frank, looking around the hospital room.

Certified Deaths received special robes to help avoid mortal eyes. Ironically, the Deaths who’d inspired tales of the Grim Reaper throughout the ages had been students like her. Students and ones who didn’t make it back. She shuddered, remembering her skeletal appearance. It seemed long ago.

A man lay in a bed, connected to an array of tubes and machines. Suzie walked to the foot of his bed and read the name on his chart. “Elias Stoneridge.” The scythe quivered in her hand. The handle pulsed like a beating heart, or was that only her own heartbeat? No, the blade felt the soul, it was hungry.

“It’s his time,” said Frank, patting her on the shoulder. “Quickly, before someone comes.”

Elias’s eyes stared at her, but he seemed to look through her. He gasped for air and the machines behind the bed beeped.

“A nurse is coming,” said Billy, glancing into the hallway. “She’s only a few doors down.”

Suzie didn’t have time to think, but in a way, she didn’t have to. She didn’t even swing; she relaxed her muscles and stopped fighting the scythe. The blade leapt downward, straight through Elias Stoneridge. As it struck the weak stranger, she felt a strange sensation as the blade swam through the soul. For an instant, she swore she heard chewing, not from Elias, but from the blade itself. The scythe continued down through the floor, before swinging around. It pulled on her, jerking her into a stumble.

Elias sat up, his eyes wide with fear. His body lay on the bed and the machine let out a long, droll beep. The scythe tingled again.

“About time,” said the soul of Elias Stoneridge. “Past few days have been awful. What kept you?”

“Sorry?” said Suzie.

“Quick, quick,” said Billy.

The beeping and hiss of tubes grated on her. The blade at the end of her scythe turned slightly. Had she turned? No, the scythe was ready to go on. The tingling in the handle started to itch. Billy tugged on one of the tethers and waved his hands, telling her to hurry.

“Take my hand, please,” said Suzie.

“You lot are dressed a bit dark for angels. And where’re your wings?”

“Please, Mr. Stoneridge,” said Suzie. “We have to go.” She felt her strength failing her. She could barely stand. She was Reaping a soul. An old man she’d never heard of. A man she was taking from his family. She was taking him away to never come back.

Elias turned and peered at himself. “I am dead, right?”

“We are Deaths,” said Frank. “And we’re here to take you onward.”

After reading this excerpt I want to read the whole thing. If it was possible you took us into a world that has not been explored in this way. This is definitely on my Want to Read list!!!

Here is another look at School of Deaths:

Christopher Mannino Bio 
Christopher Mannino’s life is best described as an unending creative outlet.  He teaches high school theatre in Greenbelt, Maryland.  In addition to his daily drama classes, he runs several after-school performance/production drama groups.  He spends his summers writing and singing.  Mannino holds a Master of Arts in Theatre Education from Catholic University, and has studied mythology and literature both in America and at Oxford University.  His work with young people helped inspire him to write young adult fantasy, although it was his love of reading that truly brought his writing to life.  

Mannino is currently finishing the “Scythe Wielder's Secret” trilogy, and is working on an adult science fiction novel.

Fiction Author
Inspiration - Imagination - Fantasy

Theatre Teacher- Eleanor Roosevelt HS

Christopher it has been a pleasure hosting you today and I look forward to reading your book, School of Deaths. 

Until the next time as we go into May I will be hosting Maureen Fisher-Fleming on May 21st.  

On my radio show, Red River Readers Tales from the Pages this month my guest will be Whit McClendon. Whit is a new author and  he is also an expert in karate. You will want to tune into this show, because he has had a very interesting life. 

I managed to write 30 poems for April and all of them are posted in My Poetry on this blog. This month I hope to continue working on the sequel to If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor, "Jennifer's Story". 

If you are looking for some great summer reading for yourself or a teen you know please consider If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor and After. Ideas for how to use If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor
are also on this blog under Readers/Teachers Guide for If I Could Be Like Jennifer Taylor. Teachers who are interested in using this may use and copy it for educational use. Also please contact me if you are interested in having me visit your class. 

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