Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Getting the Call: E.B. Black

We are switching gears this week to hear from a writer that decided to go the self-publish route. It sounds like E. B. Black knows a thing or two about marketing and promoting. I'm sure her new book will go far.

Some authors publish their book after getting a call from an agent, other authors publish after getting a call inside themselves. The second kind of call was the one I received.

Most people don't know this about me, but years ago, I ran a general talk forum that was somewhat popular. My friends all tried to do the same and their forums died quickly. I expected that to be the case with me as well.

Instead, my forum lasted for two years, until I deleted it. It had hundreds of thousands of posts and hundreds of members. How did this happen? Because I advertised for my forum every day. I added content to it regularly and held contests on it. I was obsessed with it and got lucky finding the target audience for it.

When I decided that I wanted to be a writer, I began by writing every day. I dreamed that someday I'd be published and in every Barnes and Noble store, until I met several members on AQConnect. I was trying to write my first query letter and needed advice.

I heard about how many of them had self-published. I read their books and was impressed by the quality of them. I realized that although it's very unlikely that a self-published book will sell a lot of copies, it's no less unlikely than me getting a publishing contract and becoming a bestseller.

It reminded me a lot of running that forum and I was thankful for that experience. Advertising is very similar. People get just as annoyed with spamming links to your forum as they do with spamming links to your Amazon Buy page. I learned basic HTML and graphic design in order to keep the lay-out of my forum nice. Now, I use those things to create cover images and format my e-books.

Self-publishing is not for people who don't like doing everything themselves. It's a lot of hard work that doesn't always involve typing out stories. I find it relaxing, but not all writers will feel the same. Because everyone's path in life isn't identical.

Your heart and experiences will call you in the right direction. Follow it.


E.B. Black lives in SoCal with her family and two rottweilers. She daydreams about dressing up like a necromancer for Halloween and fantasy worlds she can throw her characters into.


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Getting the Call: Jennie Bates Bozic

Here's a dose of inspiration just in time for Thanksgiving. I'm sure this author is very thankful to be handled by a great agent. Welcome to the latest success story from another AQC regular, Jennie Bates Bozic. She has just recently got the call and is now on submission for her novel, Damselfly. Good luck and best wishes!  

My “Getting the Call” story is different than most because, to those who don’t know my full story, it probably looks like everything worked out for me in record time.  But it’s true that every overnight success is ten years in the making.  In my case, it was eleven.

I began working on my first novel during my sophomore year of college in 2001.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I did know that the world coming together in my head wouldn’t let me go.  For the next nine years, I worked on it from time to time, but would give up in frustration.  I had no idea how to write a novel and I didn’t have the self-discipline to really go after my dream.  But I still wrote in pieces.  I jotted down pages worth of notes.  I shared my scraps with friends and their responses encouraged me to keep trying.  I bought lots of books on writing and storytelling and spent hours wandering around bookstores, trying to get inspired.

After dozens of false starts, I set that book aside and tried a different one.  That went a little more smoothly… until the hard drive of my computer died and I wasn’t able to retrieve my work.  It was gone forever and all I had left were the chapters I had emailed to friends. 

Two years ago, I got married and my husband got fed up with me constantly complaining about how much I wanted to be a writer.  “Why don’t you actually write then instead of talking about it?”

I was mad at him for about an hour, and then the truth of his words sunk in.  So I started writing.  I went back to my first book and cranked out a rough draft.  I took a class in writing for children and young adults.  A year later, I had an extremely rough draft and a terrible query letter. 

I really wanted to make sure everything was completely ready before I sent my first query letter, so I started revising.  As I chopped and sliced and rewrote, the sad realization that my writing reach exceeded my grasp settled down on me.  My skill still wasn’t at the level it needed to be.

I knew at that point that it would be all too easy to give in to frustration and self-pity.  I had worked SO hard, often getting in my daily thousand words even if I’d worked twelve hours that day, and it still wasn’t enough.  But feeling sorry for myself wasn’t going to get me any closer to my goal of being a professional author. 

So I sat down and thought long and hard about the kind of story I could write next and I came up with Damselfly.  I wrote the query first and ran it by several people to see if it sounded appealing.  The feedback was encouraging, so I poured myself into writing that novel.  Seven months later, it was finished and I sent out my first queries.

To my great surprise, the first response I got from an agent was not a rejection – it was a full request.  Three weeks and two more full requests later, I woke up one morning and checked my email.  There was an email from one of the agents who was reading my novel.  My heart sank and I opened it. 

And then I screamed.  My husband came running in from the other room, convinced I was dying because I am so NOT a screamer.  All I could do was babble incoherently and hold up the phone so he could read the email himself.

Steven Axelrod wanted me to call him at my convenience to discuss representation. 

It took me a couple of hours to work up my courage, mostly because phone calls with anyone other than family and close friends make me incredibly nervous, which was why I had not included my phone number in my queries. He offered representation right away and then we spent some time discussing what that would mean.  I asked most of my questions, but in my nervousness I forgot about half of them.  Then I told him I would get back to him in about a week because I needed to let the other agents know.

And thus began the longest week of my life.  Eight days later, after an extended deadline due to Hurricane Sandy, I was thrilled to accept Steve’s offer.  I couldn’t be happier and I can’t imagine a better agent for my book and my career.

Hopefully I’ll be getting another call soon – this time with the news that my book has sold!


Bio: Jennie Bates Bozic’s first "book" was a short kid's story about a brother and a sister who are sent to Saturn as astronauts and meet an alien named Kleppy. Bestseller material there, I tell you! She has a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Hillsdale College and a diploma in 3D Animation in Visual Effects from Lost Boys Learning. She has spent the last four years creating visual effects for film and television. If you've watched shows such as The Walking Dead, Grey's Anatomy, The Event, Heroes or Greek, chances are that you've seen some of her work. She is married to a wonderful man that she met in the World of Warcraft and they live in Los Angeles with their two cats.

Jennie's website -

Friday, November 16, 2012

Getting the Call: Tony Thorne

Welcome to a special Getting the Call on a Friday, coming to us from all the way across the pond as they say. We've heard from many writers, but this has to be one of my all time favorite writer success stories. If this doesn't give you a dose of inspiration to keep querying or finish that NaNo project, then you picked the wrong hobby. Thank you, Tony, for sharing your dedication to growing and improving as a writer.    

Where amateurs are concerned, fiction writing is a hobby, a spare time art-form. An alternative to one's regular occupation, i.e. the day job. Indulged in, perhaps, as a form of therapy, or even for a spot of light relief. I’m using the word 'amateur' to imply non-professional, defined as 'unpaid labor', which brings me rapidly to the subject of Speculative Fiction.

Most editors, nowadays, probably suspect there are more writers around than readers ... and the art of genre fiction writing is becoming a form of therapy mostly indulged in by amateurs. Perhaps not just as a hobby, but a way to express and analyse one's feelings about the world, and where it's going, and communicate them too. There are easier ways to relieve one's feelings when it comes to pure therapy. In some countries they sell little clay idols, hideous to behold. With just a little imagination, a suitable one can be identified with the galling frustration of the moment. Rage and indignation does the rest. One's trials and tribulations presumably scatter in the breeze with the dust of the manikin as it crumbles in a hairy fist, or shatters against a convenient stone wall.

It seems a lifetime ago when to become your own psychiatrist, the minimum you needed was pencil and paper; but nowadays, a laptop computer is more convenient. Anywhere can become a couch and it's more socially acceptable than talking to one’s self… or beating up your partner.
So put it all down ... scribble away, unbutton that creative belt and let it all hang out. Put all your frustrations down in a story. Develop your characters and let them tell your conscience how you feel.  Above all be honest with yourself, even if it hurts. You may discover that it often does.

That's how I got into all this, with the success I've experienced to date. I'd like to be a really wealthy writer, but I suspect I’ve left it too late in life.  More important to me though, is the fact that I recognize  and have adjusted to, my own limitations.

I spent about twenty five years, in different companies, designing and building up product lines, travelling the world, setting up distributors, crumpling the competition, getting the best out of my staff, listening to their problems, and solving them. Occasionally even my own when I had time. The closer I got to the top of the tree, the more I longed to turn in my collection of emotion-screening masks for an axe, and hack away at the plastic feet of all the false idols I seemed to be worshiping  I was fed up with the commercial rat-race, and the way it submerged my appreciation of the simpler things in life.

I resented the never-ending battle, necessary to just stay level let alone to advance, and I was filled with remorse at the neglect of my home-life and family. Worst of all, my conscience was wearing me down. It refused to believe my contrived excuses and justification for what I was doing. I eventually realized that I really wanted to give it all up, but I needed the money. Some kind of Do-It-Yourself therapy was the only solution that appealed to me.

On aircraft, in trains, restaurants, waiting at airports, anywhere I had the time and the inclination I made notes and kept them. Some of them later turned into cynical poems, several with scientific themes, and I had many of them published. I was also well received whenever I could fit in time to give readings, on various club evenings, as well as radio and TV.

I did have a few short stories accepted, a long time ago, back in my SF fan days, but my first new project was a soul-searching, experimental, self-published, semi-autobiography work, entitled HOW TO BE A CHIEF EXECUTIVE. It took two years to write, and get off the ground, in between all the time I spent developing, and promoting international exports of advanced technology instruments and equipment. Well, last century, I did get a medal from the Queen for that day job, and the book did modestly well too, but whatever I spent marketing it, always brought in orders that almost exactly balanced my costs. This century however, it is available from Amazon and other outlets as an eBook and a paperback, and the revenue arrives at no cost to me at all.

Then one day I finally threw in my executive job and went to work for myself, as a computer programmer and instructor, specializing in developing AI software, which could generate business programs. With no more international travelling, I soon I found I had more time to start writing genre fiction again, and this century I’ve managed to complete over a hundred stories, including shorts and novelettes.

Relevant magazines, anthology publishers, and websites began to take my work, and I had success in several competitions. I’ve also won awards for a couple of my self-published collections, TENERIFE TALL TALES, and MACABRE TALES.

My first novel, POINTS OF VIEW, was published just before my 86th.birthday this year, by Eternal Press, in the USA. Yes, I’m still progressing, and in addition to being nearly ready with my second novel, I believe now that there can be contentment in approaching the limits of one's abilities. The trick is to get as far as you believe you can, or maybe even stop just before that.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Getting the Call: Kathryn Meyer Griffith

Here is a reminder that success takes patience. Careers in writing do not blossom overnight. Thank you Kathryn for sharing your story and showing us that there are many levels of triumphs. The ones we yearn for in the beginning of our journey may not be the ultimate accomplishments we believe them to be. There is much more to come because it truly is an expedition into the unknown.

I started writing The Heart of the Rose after my only child, James, was born in late 1971. I was staying home with him, not working, and was bored out of my skin. I read a horrible historical romance one day and thought I can do better than that!

So I got out my old typewriter with the keys that stuck, my bottles of White-Out, carbon paper for copies, and started clicking away. I tentatively called the book King’s Witch because it was about a 15th century healer loved by Edward the Fourth who was falsely believed to be a witch. At the library (no computers or Internet back then) I did tedious research into that time in English history: the War of the Roses, the poverty and civil strife between the Red (Lancasters) and White Rose (Yorks); the Earl of Warwick and Edward the King.  His brother Richard the Third.  A real saga. Well, all that was big back then. I was way out of my league. Didn’t know what the heck I was doing. I just wrote. Reading that original version (a paperback released from Leisure books in 1985) now I have to laugh. It was pretty bad. All that archaic language I used (all the rage back in the 80’s). Yikes! But people, mainly women, loved it.

And so my writing career began. That was 40 years ago. It took me 12 years to get that first book published as I got sidetracked with a divorce, raising a son, and having to get a real job. Life, as it always seems to do, got in the way. The manuscript was tossed into a drawer and forgotten for a while.

Then one day years later I found it in my bottom drawer and decided to rewrite it; try to sell it. I bundled up the revised pile of printed copy pages, tucked it into an empty copy paper box and took it to the Post Office. Plastered it with stamps. I sent it everywhere The Writer’s Market of that year said I could. And waited. Months and months and months. In those days it could take up to a year or more to sell a novel, in between revising and rewriting to please any editor that would make a suggestion or comment. Snail mail took forever, too, and was expensive.

In the meantime, I wrote another book. Kind of a fictionalized look back at my childhood in a large (6 brothers and sisters) poor but loving family in the 1950’s and 60’s. I started sending that one out, as well. Then one day an editor suggested that since my writing had such a spooky feel to it anyway, why didn’t I just turn the book into a horror novel. Like Stephen King was doing. Ordinary people under supernatural circumstances. A book like that would really sell, she said.  Hmmm. Well, it was worth a try, so I added something scary in the woods in the main character’s childhood past that she had to return to and face in her adult life, using some of my childhood as hers. I retitled it Evil Stalks the Night and started sending it out. That editor was right, it sold quickly.

But right before it was to go to editing, the publisher, Towers Publishing…went bankrupt and was bought out by another publisher! The book was lost somewhere in the stacks of unedited slush in a company undergoing massive changes as the new publisher took over. I had a contract and didn’t know how to break it. Heaven knows, I couldn’t afford a lawyer. My life with a husband and son was one step above poverty at times. Back then I was so naïve. That was 1983 and that take-over publisher was Leisure Books.

As often as has happened to me over my writing career, though, fate seemed to step in and the Tower’s editor that had bought my book, before she left, told one of Leisure’s editors about it and asked her to try to save it. She believed in it that much.

Out of the blue, in 1984, when I had completely given up on the book, Leisure Books sent me a letter offering to buy Evil Stalks the Night! Then, miracle of miracles, my new editor asked if I had any other ideas or books she could look at. I sent her The Heart of the Rose and Leisure Books promptly bought that one in 1985, as well; labeling it, and asking me to sex it up some, as an historical bodice-ripper (remember those…the sexy knockoffs of Rosemary Rogers and Kathleen Woodiwiss’s provocative novels?)!  It wasn’t a lot of money for either. A thousand dollar advance and only 4% royalties on the paperbacks. But back in those days the publishers had a bigger distribution and thousands and thousands of the paperbacks were printed, warehoused and sent to bookstores. So 4% of all those books did add up.

So my career began. I sold ten more novels and various short stories over the next 25 years –as I was working full time and living my life. Some did well (my Zebra and Leisure paperbacks) and some didn’t. Most of them, over the years, eventually went out of print.

And twenty-seven years later, when Kim Richards at Damnation Books contracted my 13th and 14th novels, BEFORE THE END: A Time of Demons and The Woman in Crimson, she asked if I’d like to rerelease (with new covers and rewritten, of course) my 7 out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks, including The Heart of the Rose – and I said a resounding yes!

Of course, I had to totally rewrite The Heart of the Rose for the resurrected edition because my writing when I was twenty-one was immature, unpolished and had been done on an electric typewriter, with lots of White-Out and carbon paper (I couldn’t afford copies), using snail mail; all of which didn’t lend itself to much rewriting. Then also in those days, editors told an author what to change and the writer only saw the manuscript once to final proof it.  I also totally rewrote the book because, as was the style in the 1980’s, the prose was written in that old-fashioned prose using thees and ayes. The dialect of 15th century England. There were sex scenes I had to tone down. It was awful. So I modernized the language, cut all the redundant adjectives and adverbs and helped the characters to grow up a little (they were so dramatic).  The Heart of the Rose-Revised Author’s Edition published by Eternal Press in November 2010 ( ), hopefully, then is a lot better book than it ever was in 1985. It should be…I have had thirty-nine more years of life and experiences to help make it a better book.  Author Kathryn Meyer Griffith

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had sixteen (nine romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books and Eternal Press.
I’ve been married to Russell for thirty-four years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.                                                                                                   

Websites: (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Getting the Call: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

This week we have a special Getting the Call from someone who knows all sides of the publishing business. Danielle Ackley-McPhail is an accomplished writer who also happens to be the project editor and promotions manager for Dark Quest Books. (I do believe I had a partial with them before my novel got placed elsewhere. That makes us family, just like a visit to Olive Garden.) Thanks so much for sharing your story and your colorful cover art, Danielle. Perhaps if readers have some questions for you in the comments, you might shed some light from the publisher's perspective. Tips for promoting new books being high in my own thoughts.

Getting Making the Call: Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Sheer. Dumb. Luck.

Yes, those three words say it all. Way back in my misspent youth I volunteered on the AOL message board The Amazing Instant Novelist. The board was as a support group for aspiring writers. They held two weekly contests and had many discussion boards where people could post their writing for feedback from the site’s dedicated staff, as well as fellow posters.

Eventually I showed up—and commented—often enough I was asked to become official. NOVL tGift was born. This meant that in addition to doing what I was already doing, I also “hung” out with the staff in private chat rooms. The primary topic, of course, was writing.

I can’t tell you how many ideas came from my participating in this site.

No, really…if you asked, I couldn’t do it.

What I can tell you is that without those private chat sessions my first novel never would have been published. Yesterday’s Dreams started out as a story. Just a basic idea of a pawnshop specializing in items linked to a person’s soul. One story turned into a couple of chapters, and so on. The feedback was great, the story fun, but I didn’t realize for a long time that I was writing a novel. Initially I was posting the chapters on line as I wrote them with hokey little animated gifs and everything. See, at that time AOL was just starting to offer free home pages to their members. I wasn’t very good at it, but I had fun playing with their set-up software.

Let me tell you, though…You can put as many links as you want to email the author, but it virtually never happens. I think for the three years it was posted I received maybe five emails commenting on the story and site. But you know…that was all it took.

See, one of those emails…It was someone claiming to be an agent. They wanted to see the story when I was done because “they knew a couple of publishers who might be interested”.

All of a sudden I was writing a novel.

Now you might think that would be motivation for me to get it done.

You would be wrong. Oh, not because I didn’t want to. No. Because I had no friggin’ idea what I was doing! It took me another two years to finish that novel. When I was done it was, as they say, a hot mess. But you know, that guy was still around, so I figured what the heck. I emailed him and very quickly got a response. “Great! Email it to me and I’ll take a look.”

Oh! No no no! (That was what went through my head.) See, email submissions were less formal and less common then. I had all kinds of nightmares of having finished this thing and having it stolen out from under me. Of course, I wasn’t going to turn away from the opportunity either. The first thing I did was print out a copyright registration form and fill it out, print the manuscript, and package it up for UPS. Then I went hunting. I checked out the guy’s member profile and found a link to a publishing website. I visited that site and did some digging. Eventually I found a phone number and I called.

Most of the time you hear dead silence it’s a bad thing, right?

Nope. Not this time the receptionist answers and I ask if the person emailing me is connected with the company. She goes quiet for all of about a minute and then says. “He’s the publisher.”

I immediately hit send (and mailed my package) and then proceeded to wait. And wait. And wait. Eventually I received a very apologetic email and an offer.

Now before you start to hate me for having it too easy this was the smallest of small presses and about all they officially did for me was get my foot in the door and give me a rather shaky credibility that I had to build up considerably over the years. Unofficially? They showed me the possibilities…and I ran with them.

You want to know how? Please do visit my official website,, and take a look at what I have accomplished over the last ten years based on recognizing possibilities.

Bio: Award-winning author Danielle Ackley-McPhail has worked both sides of the publishing industry for over seventeen years. Her works include the urban fantasies, Yesterday's DreamsTomorrow's MemoriesToday’s Promise, and The Halfling’s Court, and the writers guide, The Literary Handyman. She edits the Bad-Ass Faeries anthologies and Dragon’s Lure, and has contributed to numerous other anthologies.
She is a member of the New Jersey Authors Network and Broad Universe, a writer’s organization focusing on promoting the works of women authors in the speculative genres. She can be found on LiveJournal (damcphaillit_handyman), Facebook (Danielle Ackley-McPhail), and Twitter (DMcPhail). Learn more at

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Getting the Call: Lynda Williams

Today I'm happy to bring you an author who actually wrote a short about the despair she felt trying to break into publishing. Now she has not one, but seven books published. That's quite an accomplishment. Here's proof that it can be done and there is a market for a well-developed fantasy series. Welcome to Lynda Williams.

Michelle, I would love to share my "Getting the Call" story with you and your readers and to include the link to my story Going Back Out which I wrote when I was feeling despair about ever being a real writer because I couldn't see how I'd ever compete with the "big guys". The writer-analogy is about Gadar, a Reetion pilot who is depressed to discover Sevolites really do fly harder than she can. But, as Ann reminds her, they don't fly for her reasons and the people she flies for need HER. When you focus on what you are doing, and why, then fears about how loudly you can do it fade away.

Easier said than done, of course, but I have often re-read Going Back Out myself, particularly when I felt angry about some very loud success that jarred me emotionally for the sake of the implied messages about immoral behavior being okay so long as you win. My own "Getting the Call" message has to be when Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy bought Throne Price. I had sold a couple short stories before but the Okal Rel Saga was my big dream. Alison Sinclair and I sold Throne Price to Edge late in the last millenium. At the time, the "buzz" in the writerly world was all in favor of "shorter, meaner, harder", or at least so it seemed to me. A ten novel saga about the struggle to find the common sense to stop destroying the world, and brutalizing people, in the fight between cultures for dominance, felt like a dark horse. But I had lived and labored in the Okal Rel Universe for thirty years. I wasn't interested in doing "something else". 

Now, a mere 30,000 words shy of completing a ten-novel project, with Part 8: Gathering Storm due soon, I am glad I had the courage to keep flying for my own reasons. And this is what really makes it worthwhile -- so are the readers who love my characters.

Lynda Williams, author (Reality Skimming with Michelle Carraway, Tegan Lott,Richard Bartrop) (with David Lott)Opus 6 (with editor Paula Johanson)

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Getting the Call: Linda Hays-Gibbs

Great news! I'm able to bring back these inspirational stories. I want to send out thanks to Terri Bruce for using her connections to bring new authors forward to share how they got published or landed agents. Allow me to introduce Linda Hays-Gibbs. I just met her and already I admire her determination.

When I saw the email that offered writers to write about how they got the call, I thought this would be very interesting.  I think I always had the call.  I made up poems and songs when I was three and wrote stories as young as six.  No one seemed interested in them as my mom was very sick and died when I was young.  My father didn’t believe a girl needed education.  I did have some teachers that tried to encourage me a little.  I was told to bring my imagination under control. I always made good grades so I did what I was told.
I was told by my Latin instructor that my translations were so interesting, I made his teaching career and made his class the most exciting he ever had.  All I know was I tried to translate but my imagination got in the way every time.

I started writing poetry in a journal for my daughter some years back because I was throwing away my poems.  Bea said, “Mom make a book of them and send them off to be published.”  “I said, no one will publish this mess.”  I did send them off and they were published.  I was amazed.  “Sailing in My Sunshine” was my first published book.

You see, I went back to school and got a degree in Anthropology.  Not what I wanted but what the school pigeon holed me into.  It was a mistake but I got a BA.  I wanted creative writing.  I did have a minor in it but all my professors, again said, I was too imaginative.  I didn’t have any order about me. In other words, I had no talent.

I was an older student.  I was Disabled and a widow.  I did not get any scholarships and finally felt like I was not wanted.  I went for my Master’s in Secondary Education after being turned down three times by the Creative Writing department.  It was simply I had no talent. I did get 28 credits in Graduate work as a teacher and taught for a while at local schools but it was not what I wanted.  I became too ill and could not walk to their classes and quit.

A light finally went off in my little brain.  I could write if I wanted to. There was no one to stop me.

Suddenly, I said, to heck with this.  I want to write so I will write.  I don’t need their permission.  I started writing novels. “He Would Make Her Pay” was my first novel and it was very painful.  It had my life intertwined in it and the 1960s were painful. I wrote “Escape into Magic” to escape.  I did not want any real life.  I wanted dreams.  Next I decided I wanted to write about Regency England.  It was all I read.  I love Romances in Regency times.  I wrote “My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls” it was so much more fun but the publisher I had was not helping me.  I looked for another publisher.  I sent off my work and still had little confidence.  All the battering I had over my writing still hurt.  Eternal Press took “My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls.”  Then I waited for reviews.  I chewed my nails and pulled my hair. 

The first review I got was not that great but wasn’t really bad.  I thought well there you are.  You aren’t that good but then I got seven more reviews and they were all great.  The first great review by Marilyn Rondeau made me cry. I was so happy.  I ate up each word and knew that I should never let anyone keep me from my dream.  Her review made my call real.  It became real to me.  I had two publishers and four books published but it wasn’t real until that review.  It made an old woman’s heart sing.  I now have another book coming out November 1, 2012. It is called “Angel in My Heart, Devil in My Soul.” 

I am writing the third in my angel series, “Morovani, The Guardian Angel”. I also have a novel almost finished called, “The Crazies”. It’s a little bit of a clean satire on “Fifty Shades of Gray.” I am afraid I have stories coming out of my ears but it’s still a scary time because these stories need to sell so I am told.  I only know that when Marilyn said my stories were worth something I believed her.  I came out to play, and I have been earnestly playing ever since.  I love it.  Writing is so much fun but you do need verification.  Marilyn was my verification.  I want to thank her again for my review that made my call official.

Linda D. Hays-Gibbs was born in Mississippi and lives in Alabama. She went back to school late in life, graduated with a BA in Anthropology from University of Alabama.  Reading is like nectar from the Gods to Linda and writing is just plain fun. Her great, great grandfather is Daniel Boone and she found that out by researching her family herself.
       Her fourth book, “My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls” really meant more to her because she worked on it for such a long time and because Linda was determined to make her writing much better than it had been.  Kim Richards and Sally Odgers from Eternal Press are inspirations for her. Barbara Metzger, one of her favorite authors gave Linda encouragement too.  Linda loves writing and hopes to continue to do it for the rest of her life along with anything she can do for her God and children.

Blurb for Angel in My Heart, Devil in My Soul: He was a killer, a merciless, emotionless, machine for death.  She was and angel of love and hope and the woman of his dreams.  She could not be around evil, it would kill her and he was all that was evil and foul.  How could she dream of a man like that?
     When he held her in his arms and kissed her she felt her heart stutter and start and moaned when her dream dissipated into the night air.  He caressed boneless pillows of angel dust and silently cried when he awoke.  How could he live without her?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Getting the Call: Anna Walls

More proof the road to publishing is a process. Sometimes your location itself proves the biggest challenge. What do you do when you're miles away from the nearest agent or writers conference?

Did I get the call? Most certainly not. What I got was this really cool little toy, a Dell laptop. It was my very first computer. I had no internet and I had no intention of getting such a thing, not that I had a clue how. That meant that my cool little toy was little more than a glorified typewriter.

By coincidence, since my boys were done going to school from here (they were both in town going to Job Corp now), I had loose leaf binders laying around and plenty of notebook paper, so like I’ve done only two other times in my life, I started writing down a story just for the heck of it. I’d read every book in the house multiple times and going to a bookstore was impossible.

When I was presented with this little computer, my son showed me how to work it and some of its features and then it was all mine. So what do you do with a glorified typewriter? One thing is for sure, it took up less room on the table than my notebook and someone was always setting a cup or some tools on my paper (grrr). With no other ideas, I started to type my hand-written story into my computer. When I caught up with myself, at first, I thought I’d write some and then type that, but it didn’t take me long to just give up on the notebook. I mean, grammar and spell check, and copy and paste? You just can’t find that kind of thing in a notebook. Haha

Such was the very first beginnings of my first published book, King by Right of Blood and Might. It took me upwards of two winters to finish that book, but during that time, I learned lots of things about my cool little toy too. It had a Paint program, and now I could draw pictures and maps. I drew a lot of pictures for that book, only a few of which remained in the finished product.

When I finished it, I did a little checking around into the publishing idea, but quickly discovered that publishers required agents and I didn’t know how to find one. My boss at the time gave me this big fat book with contact information and requirements listed for just about any kind of publishing anyone might want to do, but by the time I was looking, the information was outdated and I had nowhere else to turn.

I found AuthorHouse in the phonebook and sent for a publishing package but even that avenue died, as it was far too expensive. But, I still had my little toy and my winters were filled with discovering these brand new books no one had ever seen before, least of all me. I experimented with the rules of magic. I traveled to distant planets. I even visited Earth from far far away. And many more adventures, only just beginning to see the light of day.

Then the saddest day of my life opened the way for my publishing career to start. My mother died, but there was an inheritance I didn’t expect. Suddenly, I had enough money to see a book published. It was both the best and the worst investment I have ever made. The best because I had a book out there people could read, available on Amazon, no less. The worst because of the publishing avenue I chose. AuthorHouse is a subsidy publisher; they make their money from the writer so whatever the finished product is makes no difference to them. It doesn’t matter if sales go nowhere; they got their money. It was up to me to figure out how to advertise; their only help was to tell me to get a Facebook account and a Twitter account. Well darn, that required internet.

Two years later, after much research, we did just that, also thanks to the money I inherited from my mother. Now my little cabin in the middle of nowhere, Alaska, had a piece of 21st century technology hanging on the side of it, and now I’m doing amazing things like blogging and marketing and lets not forget, doing this interview.

Another thing the internet has allowed me to accomplish is finding publishers I don’t have to pay. Early this spring my second book, Prince in Hiding, went live and apparently hit Amazon by storm (for me anyway). In June, 32 books were sold. In July ,18, but come August, 137 were sold, and just blew me away. Most of those sales were eBooks and they are the craze these days, but not so long ago King by Right of Blood and Might also grew an eBook (not by my request) with no sales from that quarter that I know of.

This year has been an exciting one for me. Through another publisher, The Speed of Dreams is scheduled to come out in February. Then again, sometime in late May, book 2 of my Making of a Mage-King series will hit Amazon with, I hope, as much enthusiasm as Prince in Hiding. The balls are all starting to roll. My stories are starting to find homes. Pretty soon I’ll have to buckle down and write up some more.

King by Right of Blood and Might can be found here

Prince in Hiding can be found here 

My main writing blog is here 

My personal blog is here

My blog novel, The Fortunes of Magic, is here


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Getting the Call: Kate Evangelista

Everyone who has ever looked, or plans to look, for an agent should read this story. Getting the call is not the end of the road. I really want to thank Kate for sharing her tough experience. I'm glad she's found where she belongs, and hope she will come back in October for the release of her second novel.
The Call – A Break-Up and a Triumph

When I decided writing was my career of choice, I had naïve (some might even say fantastical) ideas about the publishing industry. I had it all plotted out: write a book, edit it, submit, get an agent, get published. Five easy steps, right? I see many of you shaking your heads. I was totally wrong and I’m not afraid to admit it.

A year and a mountain of rejection letters later, I finally got “The Call.” That one phone call every budding writer waits for like a girl with a crush on a boy. In less than thirty minutes, my life changed. I got an agent! I had already accomplished four out of my five steps. I was feeling good about myself.

Little did I know that I would become one of those horror stories I’d read along the way to getting an agent.

Almost another year and five rejections from editors later, I got another call.

One of the things you want from an agent: a champion of your work no matter how low you feel about it.

During this fated call, I made the decision of maybe stopping the submission and maybe moving on to another novel to submit. My agent readily agreed. This was the second red flag, the first being I had a hard time getting in touch with said agent.

Still the naïve writer I was, I decided to pitch a novel I had been thinking of writing. Agent gets really excited about this novel and says it will sell easily. This enthusiasm propelled me into writing said novel in a month. In the meantime, I submitted another novel to keep said agent busy.

When I finished writing my third novel, I hurriedly edited it then submitted to my agent. The reply was a very long email that basically said the second novel I had sent was crap with concerns that since I wrote third novel in only a month it would be crap too. I quickly realized agent had not read third novel and had already judged its worth based on my other two works.

Another thing you want from an agent: Someone who will encourage you to do better and that your book will get published. Basically, someone who doesn’t give up.

This didn’t happen. Instead I was put down when I was already feeling low.

So, having once gotten out of an abusive relationship, I recognized the signs and fired said agent. The next email after the firing added insult to injury in that agent finally read third novel and said it was my strongest writing yet. What was I to make of that?

Like any girl fresh from a break up, I was determined to prove myself. I revamped my query letters and submitted to agents and smaller presses. I got the most Full and Partial requests in my writing life during this trying time.

Vindication wasn’t far. I knew it in my bones.

I also gave the universe a deadline. I said if I didn’t get an agent or a publishing contract by the end of the year, I would boldly plunge into self-publishing.

It works to give the universe a deadline because a month later, I signed my first book contract, which produced Taste, my debut novel released last April 30, 2012.

I’d since signed three more contracts after that: two of which are for YA trilogies and one for a companion novel to Taste. The first of one of the trilogies comes out this October. To date (since breaking up with my agent) I have one book out and seven more on the way, three different publishers in all.

The biggest lesson learned? My naïve views of publishing were just that. There are so many roads to a writing career. Just because you don’t have an agent doesn’t mean you won’t get published. And just because you have an agent means you will get published.

I found my vindication, and I’m living my bliss.

“The Call” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. If you get your dream agent, I’m happy for you and wish your writing career the best. If you don’t have an agent yet, it’s not the end of the world. Go for smaller presses. They take care of their writers better, instead of getting into a Big House and being just one of many mid-list writers who can get dropped without a second thought.

At the end of the day I write because I want the stories in my head to be read. It doesn’t matter what road it takes to get to the readers so long as it gets there.

Taste Blurb:

At Barinkoff Academy, there's only one rule: no students on campus after curfew. Phoenix McKay soon finds out why when she is left behind at sunset. A group calling themselves night students threaten to taste her flesh until she is saved by a mysterious, alluring boy. With his pale skin, dark eyes, and mesmerizing voice, Demitri is both irresistible and impenetrable. He warns her to stay away from his dangerous world of flesh eaters. Unfortunately, the gorgeous and playful Luka has other plans.

When Phoenix is caught between her physical and her emotional attraction, she becomes the keeper of a deadly secret that will rock the foundations of an ancient civilization living beneath Barinkoff AcademyPhoenix doesn’t realize until it is too late that the closer she gets to both Demitri and Luka the more she is plunging them all into a centuries old feud.

Author Bio:

When Kate Evangelista was told she had a knack for writing stories, she did the next best thing: entered medical school. After realizing she wasn't going to be the next Doogie Howser, M.D., Kate wandered into the Literature department of her university and never looked back. Today, she is in possession of a piece of paper that says to the world she owns a Literature degree. To make matters worse, she took Master's courses in creative writing. In the end, she realized to be a writer, none of what she had mattered. What really mattered? Writing. Plain and simple, honest to God, sitting in front of her computer, writing. Today, she has four completed Young Adult novels.

Author Website:
Twitter: @KateEvangelista
Crescent Moon Press page for Taste: 

Friday, August 24, 2012

A Little Pep for Your Salt!

Don't you just love the title of this post? I do! Come on...admit're totally smiling right now ;)
Now that I got that little grin on your face...
I wanted to share a little pep talk with y'all. I actually wrote this for a close group of friends when all of us were struggling to get back on the writing train. I was reading it again today and thought--What if someone else really needs to hear this? So I will share this overly peppy (and slightly amended) pep talk with all you awesome writers out there! Time to clean those slates of ours. Wipe away the old, broken promises we made when it comes to our writing.
Come on now!
Clean slates everyone! Clean slates!
*gives one last scribble, crazed laugh, then wipes clean*
There. Ahh...fresh.
Now...How dare you? Oh yes. You! How dare you let those wicked lies fill your head?
I mean those evil haters that whisper failure into your ears. You know the words.
"You started this years ago and you haven't finished."
"You're never going to be published."
"Nobody is reading it. Nobody likes it."
"You're wasting your time."
"You should be doing something else."
"Ugh, you're still chasing that dream?"
"I love you but maybe it's time you..."
"I believe in you but..."
Or worse! The things we say to ourselves are sometimes more horrible! I've heard them..I KNOW.
"I suck."
"I'll never be as good as..."
"I'm never gonna get a deal. I'm never gonna finish. I'm wasting my time."
"I can't get it right."
"Omg! I have to rewrite again? I should just give up."
See what I mean? We're just awful to ourselves. So quit it! What kind of talk is that? Huh? Chin up, shoulders square. (move hips side to side heh heh) Now shake. Shake says I! Just feel that negativity roll right off.
Haha this sounds like a bad workout instructional :D
Now see, it's all gone.
Now listen close: You are master, ruler, captain, etc...of words. You make them come like nobody else. Oh yes. When letters see you settling in to write they just scramble toward you. They practically beg for you to turn them into something fantastic. "Me! Pick me! Use me!"
Oh yes. You hear them? They're calling you now. You are incredibly gifted. Talent can't be bought or taught...and you are TALENTED. Genius is what you are. Brilliant! Must I say it again? Okey dokey...YOU ROCK! Like boulders in a great typhoon. Or maybe like spuds on blue soil.  Yeah...umm.
Oh you rock! Just like the robin in that song.
Now repeat after me: I am the bomb. I am a sexy, naughty little writer who is uber talented. I am going to do this. I will keep writing until I finish--and I will finish--and it will be amazing. I know my story is worth telling. Worth reading. And people will love it! I will let any bad things slip through my ears because they are evil and wretched and not true. I am going to write. I am going to work toward my word count this week knowing I have people in my corner who are rooting me on. And I will...above all...LOVE WHAT I DO.
Now don't you feel special?
I hope so. if not, we're going to have to have a chat, you and I.
Well, I hope this has been sufficiently perky for y'all. Until next time!
Happy Writing!!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Getting the Call: MarcyKate Connolly

Believing in ourselves can be the hardest part of being a writer. The lack of validation from legitimate sources can be a killer. I got a chance to read a couple of chapters of MarcyKate's Monstrous and the voice blew me away. She may not have know it, but I think everyone else knew this book stood out from the crowd. Once again, you have to keep up your courage because it's persistence and talent that pays off. I want to wish MarcyKate the best of luck with her submission process. I'm doing a happy dance for her, too!

First, thanks so much for inviting me to do this guest post, Michelle!

Like many other writers, I’ve spent several years in the query trenches, writing, re-writing, and submitting, all in the hopes of finding that one agent who loves my work. I’ve had more than my share of highs and lows. The 3rd novel I queried came particularly close, garnering a large amount of requests, but in the end, no offers. So when it came time to query MONSTROUS (my 7th book, but 4th I’d decided to query), I had reached a point where I was paralyzed by fear.

I was absolutely (and foolishly) terrified to send out this book. I was scared to send it to my crit partners. Then once they approved, I was afraid to send it to agents. I was even nervous to enter it into blog contests (which normally I love to do!). MONSTROUS is hands down the weirdest and most challenging book I’ve written to date and I was very emotionally invested in it. The thought of it coming close and not being good enough to get an agent yet again stalled my forward momentum, despite my full awareness that I was being a complete ninny.

Then came the Writers Voice Contest in May (hosted by the lovely foursome of Brenda DrakeCupidKrista Van Dolzer, and Monica BW). I got up the nerve to enter and was shocked and thrilled that 3 of the judges wanted my weird little book to be on their team. By the time the contest ended and the agents had voted, I had several requests for MONSTROUS.

This was exactly the push I needed to start sending out queries. I began researching agents on my list who I thought would be a good fit with renewed gusto, but still held back a little. I queried in fits and starts and only when I was in a Go Big or Go Home frame of mind. I’d send them out late at night before I could think better of it and usually woke up the next morning thinking I was crazy to have done that. This was not my normal querying process by any means! Usually I’d send out 5-10 at a time to a range of agents so I didn’t burn through my top picks before perfecting my query. But this time, I felt confident my query and first pages were good (it was just the rest of the book I worried about!) and I ended up querying only my A-list. I was blown away by the response – I only sent out 20 queries, but my request rate was about 70%. Including the ones from contests, I had 18 requests for MONSTROUS.

But, of course, I was still getting rejections – it’s inevitable. About 6 weeks after I sent out the first batch of queries, I got an email response from an agent as I was walking home from the train station. I nearly fell over when I saw the preview of the message on my phone read “Would you be available to chat this week?” I kept telling myself she probably wanted major revisions and that she wasn’t calling to offer. But it was an offer! And she was lovely and she was excited about my book and I was pretty much on cloud nine! After I talked to Agent #1, I nudged everyone else reading my book (8 at the time) and all the outstanding queries (another 5 or so). A couple got back to me bowing out, others with requests.

One of those requests happened to be from a particular agent who I’d long considered to be someone I’d give my right arm to work with, so I was over the moon that she wanted to read MONSTROUS! I sent the manuscript off right away and she got back to me later that night to let me know how much she was enjoying it so far. She finished reading within 24 hours and emailed again, gushing about my book (!), to arrange a phone call.

That was about the time my head exploded.

Fortunately, I managed to pull myself together for our call a couple days later! Agent #2’s enthusiasm for her work, her clients’ books, and MY book completely blew me away. Add to that the fact that her suggestions for revisions were spot on and she was easy to talk to, and I had a feeling she was going to be the right agent for me.

The happy dancing officially reached epic levels (to the point where the excessive flailing was scaring my dogs)!

But I still had several agents reading and wanted to be sure I gave everyone who was interested serious consideration. You really don’t know how you’ll click with an agent until you talk to them. Out of those agents, I received another offer and had another Call with Agent #3. She was as excited about MONSTROUS as the other agents, her clients loved her just as much, and her sales record was stellar. She was even easy to talk to. I could tell she’d be a great advocate for my book.

Then came the hard part – I had to make a decision. All three agents were awesome. I felt certain they’d all work hard to sell MONSTROUS and they were all interested in helping me build a career. It was both wonderful and terrible because I’d have to say no to two of them and there’s nothing I like less than disappointing people (especially nice, awesome people).

But when it came right down to it, I kept coming back to Agent #2. I felt like we really clicked over email and the phone, and she’d made a point of keeping in contact over the course of that week. Not only did I like her ideas for revision just a little more than the others, but her level of enthusiasm was higher and I believed that would translate over during the submission process to editors. When I finally emailed Suzie Townsend to tell her I was delighted to officially accept her offer of representation, part of me was terrified it was all just a dream and she’d email back “Just kidding!”  Fortunately, that was NOT the case J We’ve been working together for the past few weeks preparing to go out on submission and she’s been absolutely fantastic!  

BIO: MarcyKate Connolly is a writer and arts administrator who lives in New England with her husband and pugs. She’s also a coffee addict, voracious reader, and recurring commuter. She blogs at her website and the From the Write Angle group blog, and volunteers as a moderator at Her work is represented by Suzie Townsend of New Leaf Literary & Media. Her short story “Connected” was recently published in the Spring Fevers anthology by Elephants Bookshelf Press.



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