Monday, January 15, 2018

Biological, Chosen, or Fantasy #OurAuthorGang

by Grace Augustine

I dare to wager a some point in your life you have longed for a family other than your own.  I think we all do that. My parents, in the above photo, were older parents. I was their only child. My father, a Filipino, died when I was 9 years old. My Mother died when I was 30. Tomorrow would have been her 100th birthday. 

I didn't know either set of grandparents. I think that was due to age and location more than anything.  My maternal grandparents lived in Missouri and paternal grandparents, from the Philippines, died long before I was born.

There was no one to grow up with. Don't get me wrong, I had neighborhood kids I ran around with, but there was no one to grow up with in my home. Today, my biological family is comprised of my two sons and beautiful feline, Bou. Since I have no cousins, no aunts, one...I've chosen my family. I have chosen sisters and brothers all over the world that are either real, in person friends chosen as family, or online internet never-met family.

photo created by photofunia

When I penned The Acorn Hills Series, I based it on a close-knit group of friends who experienced life together. They grew up going to sporting events, catching each other's tears, and laughing and rejoicing at each other's accomplishments--much the same as a real family would.

Whether you have a fabulous biological family, a family you've chosen through friendship, or a fantasy family that you'd like to someday have, I hope you make memories together that all will remember and maybe one day write stories about.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Our Guest Today is author Brenda Sparks

It's good having you with us today, Brenda.

Brenda has always loved all things spooky and enjoys incorporating paranormal elements in her writing. She refuses to allow pesky human constraints to get in her way of telling the story. Luckily, the only thing limiting her stories is her own imagination. Her characters are strong, courageous, and she adores spending time with them in their imaginary world.

Her idea of a perfect day is one that is spent in front of her computer with a hot cup of coffee, her fingers flying over the keys to send her characters off on their latest adventures.

Brenda may be reached at the links below. Brenda's books are for mature audiences of 18+.


"Julie’s gaze swept the landscape. The moon’s rays glittered on the snowy bows. The birch trees stood with their trunks painted white to match their limbs. Thick pine branches held fast under the weight of the new fallen snow, making them appear as if they wore white blankets made of virginal cotton about each limb. Sparkling mounds cluttered the ground between the trees, hiding the forest’s treasures beneath.
Save the sound of the hooves pounding on the ground, they journeyed through the silent night to a clearing in the trees. Nicholai clicked to his stallion, and with a flick of the reins, the steed increased into a rolling canter up a steep incline. Julie’s thighs pushed against the sides of the horse as she tried to match the new rhythm.
Nicholai’s breath warmed her ear when he spoke. “Not too much further. It’s right up ahead.”
“What’s up ahead?” Just as the words left Julie’s mouth, they crested over the ridge.
The frozen valley below took her breath away. A glaciate waterfall stood still as a statue against the rocky terrain. The cascading water, stopped as if by magic, reflected the moon’s soft rays and cast tiny prisms on the snow below.
Julie’s breath hitched in her throat. She took in the serene beauty of the land as they cruised at a slow trot. Debris rolled under Kedar’s hoofs. It created a hollow rattle in the night, barely audible to Juliette.
When they reached the valley, Nicholai pulled up the stallion and handed the reins to Julie. She patted the horse’s steaming neck as her lover dismounted with a fluid grace. He turned, grabbed Kedar’s reins, then reached up for Julie. Her thick coat seemed to melt as his strong hands clasped around her waist. She put her hands on his shoulders, and the bulge of muscle under his coat played under her fingers when he helped her down. A thrill went through her body.
Her breath frosted the air in a white plume. The lovers held each other, his hands about her waist, hers resting on his shoulders. Quiet as the moon above, they stared deeply into each other’s eyes. Nicholai captured her lips in a gentle caress that welcomed her to this special place."

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Our Guest Today Is Author DW Duke

DW Duke is a Los Angeles attorney with a double major in economics and psychology from the University of Michigan and a Doctor of Jurisprudence from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Missouri. In addition to his work in law, he is a lecturer focused on human rights in the Middle East. He is also a musician and a fourth-degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He is the author of six books.

"Not without a Fight: A Polish Jew's Resistance" is based on the true story of Casimir "Cass" Bieberstein, a young member of the prominent Bieberstein family. Despite their affluence and influence in Poland, with the invasion by the Nazis they were eventually forced to decide, fight or flee. Family friends Sarah and Rachel Goldstein were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp, while the Biebersteins were forced from their home with little more than the clothes on their backs.

The story begins when Cass is a young boy, and follows him through the invasion, life in the ghetto, the brutal murder of his friend Zofia Wagner and his decision to join the Jewish Resistance group Zydowska Organizacja Bojowa.

Written by Duke and Thomas Biebers, Cass' son, "Not without a Fight: A Polish Jew's Resistance" is historically accurate and filled with details of the life before, during and after the Nazi's brutal occupation of Poland. Highly recommended for history and World War II buffs.


Barnes & Noble:

#DWDuke  #WWII  #historicalnovel  #JewishResistance  #ASmallGangOfAuthors

Friday, January 12, 2018

Never Throw Anything Away #OurAuthorGang

Never Throw Anything Away  

Joe Bonadonna

Not long ago a friend remarked that I’m very prolific, citing that since 2011 I’ve published 6 novels and 7 short stories, with two more stories and another novel on the way. I don’t know. Is that being prolific? I don’t consider myself to be prolific. I know people who publish 2 or 3 novels a year. I can’t even begin to tell you how long it took me to write Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser. But I can say that it took me 3 years to write the sequel, Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent, and three or so years to write my forthcoming novel, The MechMen of Canis-9. Hell, it took me 6 months one time just to write a 25-K word novella. Prolific? Not really. But I’ll tell you a secret.

Never throw anything away.

I started writing in 1973, and I wrote a short story each month for over a year. Every one of them got rejected for various reasons. In retrospect, they were pretty awful. But I hung onto them anyway and filed them away. I knew there was a seed or a spark in each of them that could evolve into something else, something different and better, as time went on.

The only story I wrote and tossed into the trash, other than things I’d written in grade school and high school, was the original version of Mad Shadows. This was not the story that starred Dorgo the Dowser. No, this was an entirely different tale, with different characters and a totally different plot. Around 1977 or I submitted it to a number of professional magazines, such as Analog, Fantastic, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Everyone rejected it: old-hat; just another sword and sorcery tale; all plot based around cardboard characters. Mind you, for all the criticisms there were also helpful tips, suggestions, and plenty of encouragement to keep trying. Now, I didn’t throw the manuscript away out of anger and disappointment  . . . I tossed it into the trash because I rewrote it over and over again, changing the plot, changing the “McGuffin,” and finally settled on Dorgo as the main character.

For over ten years I also labored over a 1000-page fantasy epic: Courier font, 12 characters per inch. That’s about 300 words per page, I think. Finally, I knew it was too unwieldly for my meager talent, too unmanageable; the damn thing had become my own Frankenstein’s monster. I then moved on to trying my hand at writing screenplays, which was a great learning experience I recommend every writer try. But I never threw away that 1000-page monstrosity. Nope. I mined that sucker as if I was mining for gold. Two long chapters eventually evolved into the novellas, In the Vale of the Black Diamond and Blood on the Moon, both of which appear in Mad Shadows 1. One other story I’d written during that year-long writing binge also ended up in MS 1: The Man Who Loved Puppets. Another later appeared in Mad Shadows II: The Girl Who Loved Ghouls. Another story became The Blood of the Lion, which was published in Griots II: Sisters of the Spear, and one more turned into The Dragon’s Horde, for Janet Morris’ Heroika I: Dragon Eaters. Pieces and parts from various unfinished projects ended up as chapters in Dave Smith’s and my sword and sorcery pirate novel, Waters of Darkness.

As for the screenplays I wrote? I penned five during a 5-year period?

My space opera, Star Trooper Doon became the novel Three Against The Stars. Then I turned my silly satire, Sinbad’s Summer Vacation into the more serious and dramatic novella, Sinbad and The Golden Fleece, which was also published in Sinbad: The New Voyages #4. Another screenplay became the Dorgo the Dowser novella, The Order of the Serpent, which is part three of Mad Shadows II. A fourth screenplay turned into the three-year project, The MechMen of Canis-9, and another unpublished novel, The Last Warlock, not only was mined for MechMen, but for a number of other stories, as well.

As for the fifth screenplay . . . well, that’s a somewhat interesting story.

In 1997, years before the zombie craze exploded like a nuke, I wrote a screenplay called Twilight of the Dead. Na├»ve me . . . I intended it to be a sequel to the late George Romero’s third “living dead” film, Day of the Dead. I even managed to get in touch with Romero’s agent, who kindly replied that Romero already had a number of films on the drawing board. The agent told me that, as Romero holds no copyright over the use of zombies, and as long as I didn’t use any of his characters or referenced any of his films, I should shop the script around because he and Romero believed a “zombie boom” was about to break big. So I shopped it around, as I did with all my scripts, but nothing happened. Later, I read that Romero was thinking of calling his fourth flesh-eating epic Twilight of the Dead. So I changed my title to Children of the Grave, taking it from an old Black Sabbath song. (Since then there have been one film and at least one novel with that same title.) Someday, hopefully, if I can come up with a good hook, something not yet done, I’ll turn my zombie script into a novel, too.

So what has all this to do with anything?

Nothing. Everything, as Saladin (Ghassan Massoud) says to Balian de Ibelin (Orlando Bloom) in Ridley Scott’s masterpiece, The Kingdom of Heaven.

My point is — my novels, short stories and many of my novellas might never have been written, had I not mined my “writing past” for the sake of my writing future. And that 1000-page, heroic fantasy magnum opus? It will be mined again and again for material until there’s nothing left of it. In fact, about 25-K words of it, perhaps more have already been used for Mad Shadows III: Dorgo and The Heroes of Echo Gate. Only a few Dorgo the Dowser tales, Erika M Szabo’s and my 2-volume Creepy Hollow Adventures, and the stories I write for Janet Morris’ Heroes in Hell series have been written from scratch.
What I’m saying is — your words are precious. They come from your heart and soul, from the very core of your being. They’re born of your blood, sweat and tears. Save everything you write. Store it away for the future. While today’s words may not glitter right now, tomorrow they just might turn out to be gold. So don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

Oh, how I wish I had saved that very first version of the Mad Shadows. That’s why now I never throw anything away.

#heroicfantasy  #swordandsorcery  #spaceopera  #swordandplanet  #horror  #supernatural  #newpulpadventure  #children’sbooks 

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Finding Fantasy in the Bible #OurAuthorGang

By Rebecca Tran 

Finding fantasy in the Bible may sound like heresy to some, and I am not suggesting by any means that the Bible is a work of fiction. I am in fact a christian with great faith. What I am referring to is reading between the lines. You can find inspiration in how and why the Bible was written; what was included and what was left out of this holy text. For me, all it took was a little research and basic understanding of how the Bible came to be.

I've found material for three novels in the Bible. One novel only used a small piece while the other two wouldn't exist without it unfortunately only one is completed so far. During this two part blog, I will show you some of the discoveries I made. Hopefully, you will find it as interesting as I did and inspire you to draw inspiration from one of the oldest books in history.

When researching anything in the Bible, you first have to understand how it was constructed. I say this because their are "unofficial" books of the Bible in existence. Those are writings made by christians or followers of Christ that didn't make the cut to be official canon of scripture. That criteria were as follows:

  1. Written by a recognized prophet or apostle
  2. Written by those associated with a recognized prophet or apostle
  3. Truthfulness in the writing
  4. Faithfulness to previously accepted canonical writings
  5. Confirmed by Christ, prophet, or disciple
  6. (original)Church usage and recognition  (For more info)

Nephilim are nothing new they were mentioned in books before and had a movie made out of them. They are humans born of angels, and yes according to the Bible they existed. However, they weren't 
handsome teenagers with mystical powers or even 300 year old vampires. They weren't even the good guys.

Nephilim according to the Bible were a race of giants. They were evil and led to the downfall of man. Some scholars argue that they were prolific breeders and so corrupt that they led to the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was the Nephilim that God wanted to destroy in the flood. Of course, there is debate everywhere that God did not succeed in killing all the Nephilim. The Promised Land was inhabited by them before the Israelites arrived, and Goliath was supposedly one. For more information here are three sites with interesting arguments. 1. 2. 3.

When I needed a way to re-invent vampire lore in "For Their Sins" Nephilim gave me the perfect opportunity. Who better to track down the world's worst sinners than descendant's of angels. Only this time everything was done with God's approval and under his control.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

#Music, My Muse: part 2 by Toi Thomas #OurAuthorGang

From Pinterest via PicMonekey
Today, in part 2 of the Music My Muse series, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on mood music (see part 1 here).

I feel like most people have the same general idea of what mood music is. It’s all about setting the tone or atmosphere for something specific, usually romance, but not always.

In terms of romance, people often imagine a fancy restaurant with lit candles and a suited man playing a violin. However, some people will imagine star-lit mountains in the background of a small campfire with someone playing an acoustic guitar. What’s more, some people might actually imagine pink silk sheets, a bottle of champagne, and either a sensual rock ballad or a smooth R&B groove. Not one of these is better than the other, yet they are all setting the same tone of romance, in very different ways.

That’s what I love about music. Music is diverse and various. Its capacity to evoke tone, mood, and emotion is so limitless. Music is practical magic to me. It is my muse.

But there’s more to mood music than romance. I for one believe there is a song and or type of music for every mood if you look for it- if you are open to it. I believe the first time I realized that music was a flexible entity that could and should be interpreted in as many ways as necessary to connect to the listener, was when I was just a kid. It all started with Fantasia (1940).

Being the odd child that I was, I was familiar with many classical compositions. After hearing this music on AM radio, I asked my parents to buy them for me. Not knowing what I was asking for, my parents went out and bought cheap cassette tape compilations of various composers. Sure enough, some of the songs I wanted were on them. Then, at the age of 10, Disney released Fantasia on video for the first time and I got to watch fish and mushrooms dance around in place of ballerinas (Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky) and saw the earth evolve to music I’d always thought of as ‘the coming of spring’ song (Rite of Spring by Igor Stravinsky). It blew my mind.
That’s when I begin to realize that music could not only represent specific ideas and themes, it could also be interpretive and evoke emotion. When I began to write my first book, I often turned to my substantial and varied music collection to help me visualize different themes and emotions I wanted to capture, but of course, I had no idea that’s what I was doing at the time.

It wasn’t until later when I struggled to write my first romantic comedy, It’s Like the Full Moon (Sayings One) that I consciously set out to use music to define the tone of my chapters. Be sure to stick around for part three so you see just how music helped me develop It’s Like the Full Moon.

Now for something a little different. In this section, I’ll be sharing quotes from other authors and bloggers, I’ve collected in over 200 interviews, when asked, ‘When the soundtrack of your life is playing in your head, what songs express your glee and what songs bring out your rage?

There are lots of songs that I hear and think, oh that fits what I am writing about or going through. The most current one would be Clarity by Zedd; another is Celine Dion. I almost always find that one or more of her songs make me think of stories I am writing.” ~ McCollonough Ceili

I love Mandisa’s music. That would be the background to much of my life. Pink has some original songs that would fit at times (if you bleep the naughty words for me). “So What” tickles my funnybone! For rage, just look to screamo music. I hate it! My son plays it sometimes when he visits; I think it’s made to feed rage, and that’s not a good thing. I’d rather be happy, so no screamo for me.” ~ Brenda Covert

I don’t listen to music – I have no ear for it.” ~ Darlene Jones
#moodmusic, #music, #romance, #Fantasia, #Pinterest 

Monday, January 8, 2018

Pantser or plotter - there's no wrong way to write your story

By Ruth de Jauregui

I've spent a lot of time thinking and writing about different writing styles -- by the seat of the pants or plotting every inch of the tale.

While I'm forcing myself to write Bitter Nights in a linear fashion, my other project has multiple chapters that will have to be woven into the narrative. That's not always an easy task, and sometimes you have to cut out some of your best writing because it doesn't fit the story any more. (Ummm, cut and paste it into a new doc, maybe you can recycle it into a sequel or entirely new tale!)

I know I'm not the only writer that writes chapters as they appear in my head and then work to tie them all together in a coherent story. As a pantser, it can make it harder to weave a coherent whole. Even a pantser can add a simple timeline to help organize the story and tie new chapters to the ones that need to be later in the narrative. 

It does seem ironic that I'm such a pantser with fiction. I started off my writing career with nonfiction.  I really am accustomed to working with an outline for certain projects. Fiction, not so much. Nonfiction, absolutely. 
My first book
Whether you write your stories in a linear flow, outline them every inch of the way, or write bits and pieces and chapters and then link them together later, there's really no "wrong" way to write a story. As long as the story flows when you're done, you did it right. 

#RuthDJ  #PantserOrPlotter  #Bitter  #ASmallGangOfAuthors

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Our Guest Today is author Ellie Mack

Welcome, Ellie, to our blog. So glad you could join us today.

Ellie received her BS in cartography from Southeast Missouri State University. Since leaving the corporate world for the title of MOM, she has pursued her writing dreams. Nowadays, Ellie charts unmapped territory through her fiction and humor writing. Formerly a columnist for a local paper, her weekly column received a lot of attention. She lives near St. Louis, Missouri with her husband of thirty two years and their college-aged daughters. When she's not writing, she can be found bullet journaling, crocheting or cooking. Ellie loves to hear from her readers and may be found at the sites listed below.

One phone call can change your life...forever.

I've heard it said many times, and I get it, especially if you are a ballplayer waiting for that call to the majors, or if you are waiting for the call that you got the job you were hoping to land. I always thought, however, that most people were just being overly dramatic and using it as a cliche statement.

What if you didn't get that job, but instead got a call from a different company that ended up being a better job?  What if, as a ballplayer, you never get called to the majors, but stay in the minor leagues and wind up being a top-notch coach? What if that call was the worst thing that could happen?

It's always been my view that there are multiple paths that our lives could take. There are numerous opportunities that are presented to us and that one phone call bit was a bunch of hogwash.

Until today.

Until I received that one phone call that changed my life...forever.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Systems of Magic #ourauthorgang

By Rich Feitelberg

Regardless of how you decide to limit magic or the rules of operation you make up for magic, you want some sort of organizational principle for it. I see this all the time. For example, magic spells could be grouped by their effect. So fire related magic go in one bucket and spells related to enchanting items go in another. If you choose this approach, you’ll want to work out all the different types of spells there are so you can account for each grouping.

Another approach is group spells by how powerful they are. So beginning spells are in one category and expert spells go in another. This approach requires knowing all the possible spells so you can put them in a category.

Or perhaps there are no spells at all and all magic is improvised. A variant of this is there are no groups of spells, what matters is how the wizard does his conjuring. For example, perhaps he or she just speaks the words. Or perhaps the words have to rhyme. Or the words also need to be sang — with or without music. Perhaps the mage has to dance first or draw an image. Or some combination of these.

Color is another organizing principle. You hear about white magic and black magic all the time. But magic can be green or red or brown, if you like. Again, you’ll have to work out which spells go with which color.

Above all don’t forget that alchemy requires materials to work, as does rune magic. Be sure to include that your planning.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Winter Skin #OurAuthorGang

My secret to prevent dry and itchy winter skin

I studied Natural Healing and my philosophy as a Naturopath is that “If you can’t eat or drink it safely, don’t put it on your skin either”. 

Unfortunately what I do for my skin doesn't make me this beautiful, but it keeps my skin well nourished, supple, and I don't suffer from constant itching in the winter.


To remove dead skin, refresh the deeper layers of the skin and promote cell turnover, mix:
2 tsp of oatmeal flour.
1-2 tsp water or yogurt.
1 tsp of honey to make a thin, but not watery consistency paste.
You can add one or two of the following according to your skin type for increased vitamin and mineral intake:

Skin types:
Normal skin: smooth and supple, clear in appearance, firm.
Use banana, watermelon, egg yolk.
Dry skin: dull textured, dehydrated, tends to tighten up in wind or cold temperature.
Use avocado, banana, pear, peach, raspberry, watermelon, apricot, egg yolk.
Oily skin: shiny with large pores, tendency for blemishes.
Use whipped egg white, cucumber juice, tomato, grapefruit, lemon or white grape.
Mature skin: expression lines, slackness around the eyes, less elasticity.
Use egg yolk, banana, cucumber juice, apple, watermelon, apricot.

Apply to your face except around your eyes.
Leave it on for 10-15 minutes.
Rub the mask off gently with your fingertips, rinse with warm water.
Moisturize your skin.


Base mix:
2 teaspoon oatmeal flour
1 teaspoon yogurt
1 teaspoon honey to make medium consistency paste

Alpha hydroxy acids reduce wrinkles, spots and other signs of aging but using them in our moisturizers every day in synthetic form is not without danger. Using them daily leaves the skin vulnerable to sun damage and infections. By adding natural alpha hydroxy acid containing fruits or vegetables to your every third-week face mask ensures the removal of dead cells without the side effects of the synthetic acids.

You can add any of the following to your base mix:
Lactic acids: buttermilk, yogurt, powdered milk, sour cream, blackberries, tomato.
Citric acids: lemon, grapefruit, orange.
Malic acids: apple.
Glycolic acids: brown sugar from sugarcane.

For stronger peeling effect you can use papain by adding papaya or bromelain by adding crushed pineapple to the mix. These are not recommended for sensitive skin, a patch test should be done before using them.
Apply the mixture to your face and neck, except around your eyes.
Leave it on for 15-20 minutes.
Rinse with warm water, moisturize.


Very messy, so I recommend using it weekly before you clean your shower.
½ cup sugar, pour almond, pure olive or coconut oil on it to make a thick honey consistency paste. You can add 4-5 drops essential oils from the list mentioned above, according to your skin’s needs. Shower with your usual soap, rinse and then rub the sugar-oil mixture on your body with a circular motion. Rinse it off and pat-dry your skin.

What do you use to moisturize your skin?

Let’s just talk about creams and lotions a little bit:
When you try to read and understand the long list of the ingredients on creams and lotions, I bet you give up after reading the second line.
We’re so careful nowadays with what we’re putting into our stomachs. What about our skin? Everything that we apply to our skin goes right into our body as well. The long list of chemicals can affect not only your skin but also your organs by creating yet unknown chemical bonds and reactions as well as hormonal changes. Nobody would suspect an innocent looking moisturizer 15 years from now as a cause of some of your health or autoimmune problems.

They say, don’t put oil on your skin, but the truth is that in order to make a cream, you need base oil, stabilizer, and preservative to cook it into a cream. So, you have been putting oils on your skin, just not the right ones. The chemists today are doing a wonderful job of replacing natural ingredients with unpronounceable chemicals in order to make the creams and lotions presentable and acceptable. The truth is that all most creams and lotions do is just strip the natural sebum and dead skin from the top layer of your skin and add a thin layer that gives you the feeling of soft and moisturized skin. However, as soon as you wash it off or just stay in a dry room for some time, your skin becomes dry and thirsty for moisture, because below the top layer, your skin is dry.

Next time I will tell you about the natural ingredients I use as moisturizer.

For now, take a few minutes and take a look at my books: