Tuesday, June 22, 2010

APA Guest Spot: Lorrie Struiff

Hello Lauren,

Thank you so much for hosting me today on your blog. I hope the readers will understand more about the small press novelists with my article.


I think of the rock as my stories that I write, and the hard place is trying to roll that rock before the eyes of my target readership.

I’m new to this side of publishing since I’m basically a short story writer. I’ve sold shorts to publishers and then I’m done with them. Forget it, nothing more to do. But, “Gypsy Crystal” is novella length and is now both published in multi-format e-reader and print.

I’m enjoying writing longer pieces for readers now, be it romance, paranormal, horror, or well…whatever.

Since this won’t be my last novella or a full novel in the future, I’ve read many blogs suggesting how to get that rock before the readers. But what new author can afford a PR person? Or run ads in the local newspapers? Was that Grisham I saw on the TV spot advertising his new release? Yes, the same John Grisham who wrote the legal thrillers, “The Pelican Brief” “The Firm” “A Time to Kill.”

So, how do I reach my target audience without paying a huge amount of money?

Authors form a network to promote each other by offering guest blog spots, like today.

Then, there are the usual, Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. This approach helps reach more readers. I have a fan page on Facebook and many have joined to keep up with my latest news.

Review sites are wonderful. They have seasoned reviewers who read our novels and offer the readers honest opinions. It’s always a good idea to follow these sites to see what is new in the publishing world.

Finding an agent to handle your work is difficult, no matter how good the novel. Agents can only handle so many clients per year. Some turn down even the best of writers to preserve their sanity--I’ve heard this at conferences I have attended. “I don’t give a damn if he’s the next Hemmingway, I can’t look at another query.”

We have to grow as writers. To grow we must write more and more novels. We work, have families, and write in whatever free time we can manipulate. Most of us are not overnight wonders. We choose small presses to begin our careers, and it’s a long hard road we travel. If you don’t believe me, ask Mr. King, or Ms. Roberts.

Do you know what I find to be the most amazing side of publishing now that I am with a small press?

I’m stunned at the amount of great novels that are released by small press authors every month. They are wonderful stories by talented authors that so many readers may be missing out on only for the fact that we can’t afford the great PR person.

“Gypsy Crystal” required a lot of research into Roma customs. I love research. It took me more than a year to write the novella—the rock mentioned above-- due to real life interruptions. It happens to all of us. I’m pleased to tell you my reviews have been fantastic. Writing the novella gave me the chance to spread my wings and let my imagination run wild. I want to do it again, soon.

But it will be a while before my next WIP is complete. I’ve found the hard place to be the time I have to spend now in getting my name out there.

Yes, Mr. Grisham, I did see your ad.

We’d like to see more readers making comments. It makes us feel all warm and fuzzy to see the support of our fans. *hint, hint.* Plus, I’d like to hear comments from the readers about how effective you think these blog spots are in reaching our target audience. This information will help us in our future endeavors, so don’t be shy, please share your thoughts.

Thank you,



Everyone has secrets.

Homicide Detective Rita Moldova has a secret, a crystal amulet from her Roma bloodline that shows her the last image a victim had seen before they died. Now, a ritual killer is terrorizing her town and the crystal’s magic has suddenly stopped.

FBI agent, Matt Boulet, is sent to lead the task force and gives the group strange orders. Worse, Rita senses he is holding back a deep dark secret about the killer.

When she confronts her seer mother’s advice, she learns another secret about their clan that she finds impossible to swallow.

Rita swims through a whirlpool of confusion as the investigation continues. Can Rita deny the lore of the ancients? Can she deny her growing feelings for Matt Boulet?


Doc read from the screen. “Body completely exsanguinous. Time of death between eleven p.m. and one a.m.” He looked up at Rita and pushed his glasses higher on the bridge of his nose. “Like the others, this woman was alive when the killer began extracting the blood from her jugular. Once drained, he excised the vein with a sharp instrument, postmortem. Why does he bother?”

Rita shrugged. “He’s performing some sort of a ritual, then taking a trophy. Doc, I still think the women had to be unconscious or bound while he took their blood. Any rational woman would fight, or run like hell.”

“The evidence disagrees. There are no ligature marks on the wrists or ankles of any of the bodies. The bruises on the arms indicate a frontal assault, as if they were pinned or held still. Other than the bruises, no needle marks were apparent, no drugs in any of the stomach contents, no contusions on the heads to indicate they were unconscious until the loss of blood weakened, then killed them. Lack of tissue under the nails also indicate they didn’t struggle at all.”

“This doesn’t make any damn sense.” Rita shivered, imagining the women awake, not fighting, as the life drained out their bodies.

Doc rubbed his jaw, shook his head. “And, no matter what weapon I come up with, nothing matches the excised wounds. All evidence so far suggests the killings took place elsewhere, then the bodies were moved.”

“That’s what my gut is telling me, too.” She glanced through the glass at the woman on the table, the Y incision was puckered and ugly under the harsh lighting in the examining room. “The jogger who found this one on the river path yesterday freaked. Can’t say as I blame her.”

Rita had become familiar with a few of the prostitutes during a previous case and found the women to be friendly and open, once they knew she wasn’t there to hassle them. When she had inspected the first victim, the dead woman’s eyes reflected another working girl Rita had met before. Carmella.

Carmella told Rita that she had bummed a cigarette from the woman before a black van pulled to the corner. Her brief glimpse as the interior light of the van flashed on revealed a dark-haired man with a noticeable bump on his nose. Carmella didn’t bother to look at the plates. The woman who had entered the van turned up dead in an alley a day later. Rita had confirmed Carmella’s alibi.

Her confusion deepened with a different reflection in the eyes of the second dead prostitute. The pizza delivery boy remembered seeing the woman at the Ridge Motel, but his alibi also proved solid.

She should see the last person the victim’s eyes captured--the killer’s. Damn. The crystal had never failed her before. She rubbed her arms to ward off a feeling of dread creeping over her skin.

Rita glanced at her watch. A little after twelve. She had time to find out how good ol’ Bobby Driscoll fit into this scenario.

She jumped when Doc nudged her elbow.

His thin lips tightened into a scowl. “I’m still trying to determine the gouging tool. We’ve made the impressions, but nothing matches. Tell the Chief I’ll fax what I have to him in a few hours. You know, he’ll want you on the task force.”

“Yeah. He already set up the meet.”

The only ones who knew of the crystal’s abilities were Chief Lipinski, Rita’s mother, and her uncle. Her gift had spooked the Chief, but he had sworn to keep her secret. If the others found out, she may as well have “Freakazoid” stamped on her forehead.

Rita patted Doc’s hand. “Thanks, I really appreciate the heads-up.” They left the cubicle. She looked at the dead woman again and sighed. “Damn it, Doc, we need to nail this dude’s ass fast. The newspapers are already calling him ‘Keyport’s own Jack the Ripper.’”

Gypsy Crystal is available in PRINT and Multiple E-book formats at Amazon


Visit my website to read the reviews and more info


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Standing Naked in Front of the World

Good morning, fellow book lovers!

Today, I want to discuss the vulnerable author. By vulnerable, I mean a writer who is not afraid to stand naked in front of the entire world.

How does one do this? Through their words.

You see, Imperfect and Impeccable are books that allow me to stand naked before all of you. The emotions are real. The personalities are real. Everything in this story has a tremendous truth to it. Though the storyline isn't my own, it is me. Those are my emotions, my personality. When you read about these characters, you read about me.

Characters are obviously key in storytelling. Without strong characters, you have no story. Strength, however, does not come from super-human strength. It comes from ethics, conversation, flaws and abilities. If you were to fill a room with several people, they'd all have their own way of speaking. They'd all have their own beliefs and ethics. They all have their strengths and weaknesses, abilities and inabilities. So do we all. So must our characters.

Our characters must have insecurities, things they have to learn; they need to be REAL people. So, look at yourself in the mirror. Allow yourself to see the good and the bad. Then take that, and apply it to your characters. Make them who you want to be, who you are right now, and who you used to be. Characters from your own past are great sources of inspiration, but no one makes for a better character than you.

Just remember that as you write and allow your weaknesses to be seen, that you are standing naked in front of the world. Instead of being scoffed, though, you are being admired! :)

That's it for me this weekend as I will be away. However, please do not forget that I will be on myimmortalstories.blogspot.com on Saturday, 6/5!

Happy reading! :)

Author Spotlight: Misha Crews

Good morning, readers! Today, we have fellow VHP author Misha Crews with us! :)

Good morning, Misha! Jumping right in, my first question is: Both Still Waters and Homesong take place in Virginia and really seem to center around life in a small town. Is there amy particular reason why you picked Virginia and similar backdrops for both books?

Well, I was born in Virginia, I know it and love it. I've seen it change a lot over the past four decades, but more importantly, I've seen how the heart of it has remained constant and unchanged. Housing developments come and go, highways are constructed and then re-constructed, but the mountains and rivers will outlive us all. The land is ancient, eternal and full of stories, many of which will never be told. I've tried to sow my novels with some of that essence: the deep and enticing truthfulness that dwells in the earth.

As for small towns, well, I've been fascinated by them ever since I first read Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories! After having lived in the suburbs most of my life, where hardly anyone knows their neighbor and every shopping mall is like every other shopping mall, the idea of living in a place where everybody is involved in everyone else's business, and each building is unique and different -- well, it's very appealing! And if I can't live there in "real life," at least I can visit in fiction, and hopefully bring my readers along for the trip.

The banner on your website says, "Timeless Tales of Heart and Home." What does that phrase mean to you?

To me it sums up the kind of stories I want to tell: tales of love and family: the places we live and the secrets we keep. "Timeless," because I like telling stories that happen in all different time periods. For example, Homesong, my first novel, was about multiple generations of two families: pieces of the story were told in the late 1800s, the 1930s, 1960s and present day. My second novel, Still Waters, which will be out in August, takes place in the mid-1950s. By the way, you're one of the first people to ask me that question!

Your website is beautiful! One of the things that I love is the picture of the beautiful orange tulips. Do they represent anything to you?

Well first, thanks for that lovely compliment! I'm so glad you liked the website. I spent a long time looking for just the right images for the site, and the tulips struck me right away. It's been said that keeping flowers around is one way to ward off depression; they're bright, cheerful and just make you feel good. That's exactly how I wanted people to feel when visiting my site, and those flowers just seemed to be the perfect fit.

One thing that I have been asked quite a few times, and now am asking other writers is how their characters are a reflection of themselves. Do you see personality traits in yourself that you pass along to your characters? Are your characters the type of person you aspire to be? Readers love to know the connections between writer and character! :)

Another good question! Yes, I definitely see myself in my characters: who I am and who I'd like to be (or who I definitely don't want to be, but maybe sometimes am!). I do find that I'm affected by my characters in unexpected ways. I'll think,"What would Adam do in this situation?" "Am I strong enough to handle this the way Jenna would?" or "Wow, that was kind of a 'Pleasance Fitzgerald' thing to do! Maybe I'd better rethink that!" I think that all writers would agree, we're bound to our characters. They're born in our imaginations, when we put them down on paper, we're unleashing them on the world, for better or worse. And once they're out, they're out! Trying to control them can be like trying to reign in a stubborn teenager, and heavens knows that ain't easy!

Here are my book blurbs. :)

STILL WATERS (now available on Kindle, coming in paperback in August)

A tragic death....
A disturbing photo that can't be explained....
A woman drowning in an ocean of secrets....

In 1950s Virginia, beautiful, serious Jenna Appleton seems to have found the life she's always wanted. But underneath the shallow gleam of her bright suburban world, murky truths are waiting to surface.

On the morning that her husband dies in a tragic accident, Jenna finds a shocking photo of him in the arms of a beautiful woman. And before she can ask him about it, he's gone forever.

Five years later, Jenna has buried her questions and remade her life. But the reappearance of an old love stirs up guilty questions, and she realizes that some secrets aren't meant to be hidden. The deeper she dives for answers, the darker the water gets. How will she find happiness for herself and her family, when every step she takes towards the strange and awful truth seems to lead her right back to her own home shores?

HOMESONG (availble in paperback and in multiple e-book formats, including Kindle)

In a small town, everyone knows everything about everybody. Or do they?
For twenty years, Kate Doyle has been haunted by the night when she was forced to flee from her tiny Virginia home town and abandon her childhood sweetheart, Reed Fitzgerald. So when Kate, now in her mid-30s, escapes her unhappy life in Washington, DC and takes a much-needed vacation, the last thing she expects is to be reunited with Reed. Now, under the warm clear Caribbean sun, amid ancient churches and pink flamingos, Kate and Reed seek to revive the love that they thought was gone forever.

But will small-town secrets ruin their last chance for happiness? Woven into the modern tale of Kate and Reed are the tales of those who came before them. Their mothers: teenagers in the chaotic 1960s, best friends who are in love with the same man – although only one of them knows it. Reed's grandmother: already a bitter old woman by the 1930s, she would do anything to carry on the family name…and would drive away anyone who came between her and her grandson. And even the founder of the town: in 1865, what guilty secret drove one man to bring his two daughters across the ocean from Ireland and settle in the dark Virginia hills?

At its heart, Homesong is the story of a small town: its lies and truths, its beginnings and endings. It's about proud secrets, unrestrained joy, and the old adage that you may leave your home, but it never really leaves you.

Was there any particular person, place or event that stirred you to write either Homesong or Still Waters? They're both so intriguing, I'd love to hear the back story behind them! :)

That's always a difficult question for me to answer, because the story evolves so much from where it starts that sometimes I hardly recognize it when it's written! But with Still Waters, there are a few elements to this story which make it uniquely personal for me, and here they are:

The house in which Jenna and her son Christopher are living is the house that I lived in as a child. It's in a pretty little part of Virginia known as Arlington Forest, a development built in the late 1930s. At the time that they were built, the houses were sold for about $6000 (garage and fireplace extra, of course!). I don't have much memory of the house, since we moved from there when I was around six. But the memories that I do have are pleasant.

The house in which Jenna's in-laws, Bill and Kitty Appleton, are living is the house owned by my grandparents in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The house is in a very old section of Burke, Virginia and it's still there today. I've never been inside, but its existence and the time that my family lived there is an integral part of our family lore.

The house that Adam builds is part of a real-life subdivision called Hollin Hills. Although I have no direct connection to this place, it's not far from where I live now, and it's every bit as magical as I've described.

Jenna's dog is named Fritz, which is the name of the dog that we had when we lived in Arlington Forest. Our Fritz was a black-and-tan collie; Jenna's Fritz is a German Sheppard. The thing I remember most about Fritz was how much I loved him, and that affection is now Christopher's love for his own version of Fritz.

If there was one thing that you really wanted your readers to get out of your books, what would it be & why?

There's nothing I like better than a real page-turner: the kind of book that keeps me up way past my bedtime, because I just can't wait to see how it ends! For that to happen, the characters have to be people that I care about. And that's what I've tried to give to readers, with both Homesong and Still Waters: that feeling that's both heartwarming and breathless, "How will it all turn out?" One reader said of Still Waters, "WOW! I could NOT put it down! My cats were walking all over the book, begging to be fed, and I kept shoo'ing them away. I absolutely had to turn that next page!" That's the kind of feedback every writer loves to hear -- it lets me know I'm doing my job!

Indeed you are, Misha! Thanks so much for joining us today! :)

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

APA: Cate Masters

Good morning, readers! Today, we have the incredible Cate Masters with us! :)

Without further ado, a guest blog from Ms. Masters!

What happens in Key West…

Ever wonder who thought up the slogan, What happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas? I think it originated long ago, in mid-1800s Key West. But the tiny island didn’t need marketing geniuses to bring visitors. Ships wrecking along the reef brought enough. Some people came to Key West by choice. Like Sam Langhorne, the protagonist in my historical romance, Angels, Sinners and Madmen, soon to be released by Freya’s Bower. He longed for the carefree and reckless lifestyle of the wreckers.

What? You’ve never heard of a wrecker? Neither had I, until our family vacationed at Key West in 2003. While visiting a maritime museum, I not only learned the history of the wreckers but became so fascinated with them, I spent the next few days in the Key West library, visiting another wrecker museum and buying up as many local books as I could. I didn’t even mind that my family was out parasailing and snorkeling without me. Finding those articles, letters and wrecker documents, I felt like a pirate unearthing buried treasure! Arrrrr!! (Cough). Sorry, I get carried away sometimes.

Hare are ten little-known facts about wreckers:

1. Wreckers plied their trade not only in Key West, but in the Bahamas, and as far away as the United Kingdom.

2. Because so little diving equipment had been invented, wreckers salvaged ships’ cargoes from the bottom of the sea the hard way – holding their breath for several looong minutes.

3. Though some claim wreckers set traps for wayward ships, no evidence backs this up.

4. In the mid 1800s, nearly one ship a week wrecked off the coast of Florida.

5. Wreckers known as Conchs came from the Bahamas, but were of English descent.

6. Some wreckers lived to ripe old ages, but many perished from drowning, shark attacks, boating accidents or, in the earliest days, at the hands of pirates or Seminole Indian massacres.

7. Because Key West men outnumbered women by ten to one, many wreckers married the women they saved from watery graves. One ship became known as the Ship of Brides, its German passengers marrying wreckers, including a widow and her daughters.

8. Average shares earned by individual wreckers amounted to hundreds of dollars per shipwreck. Imagine how much money that translates to in current dollars!

9. Wreckers followed 13 rules of their trade, but the unwritten rule was to rescue a ship’s passengers first, then its cargo.

10. The Florida wrecking industry continued until the early 1900s.
History’s ingrained in the streets of Key West. Walking down Duval Street, I could almost imagine myself walking in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Mark Twain, John James Audubon, Tennessee Williams or U.S. Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Carter and Kennedy who’d stayed there. Not to mention Jimmy Buffet, whose Margaritaville restaurant we had to try.

Though there’s not much of a beach at Key West, the crystal aquamarine ocean surrounding the island is perfect for snorkeling, sailing in a glass-bottom boat and other water sports. While we were there, the temperature of our hotel’s pool water rose to 105 degrees. The hotel brought in three tons of ice to cool it, but that only lasted a few hours. Suffice to say, Key West is sizzling!

The Key West night life is still pretty wild, with many clubs having rear entrances. I think it’s safe to say the slogan applies: What happens in Key West, stays in Key West. :)

To learn more about wreckers, I hope you’ll read Angels, Sinners and Madmen, available soon from Freya’s Bower: www.freyasbower.com.

What about you? Do you have a favorite vacation spot? An exotic hideaway?
Cate Masters writes fantasy/dark fantasy, historical, contemporary and speculative fiction, described by reviewers as “so compelling, I did not want to put it down,” “such romantic tales that really touch your soul,” “filled with action scenes which made it a riveting story,” and “the author weaves a great tale with a creative way of using words that makes the story refreshing to read.”

Visit Cate online at www.catemasters.com, www.catemasters.blogspot.com or follow her on http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cate-Masters/89969413736?ref=ts or http://twitter.com/CateMasters