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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


The rescue organizations that are tentatively scheduled to receive the donations.
Subject to change based on response and approval by the organization.
Part of the plot in Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons has to do with animals needing mercy from abuse. In the story, that abuse sometimes comes from neglect, but more often from the misuse of animals for "entertainment" like dogfighting or cockfighting.

As much as I love the Caribbean, and especially the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, one of the dark sides of the region is the prevalence of unwanted animals. Spay/neuter programs have limited success in cultures where emasculating a dog is seen as cruel, but dumping a litter of puppies alongside the road is acceptable. Even where dogfighting is illegal, authorities have a blasé attitude about enforcing those laws.

Needless to say, animal rescue organizations in the region have an uphill battle. The people involved in these operations are true heroes. My friend Guillie Castillo Oriard works with CARF--Curaçao Animal Rescue Foundation--and somehow, even seeing the horrors, she maintains her optimism and enthusiasm.  In this article, she discusses the plight of the animals eloquently. I admire her ability to not use many, many four-letter words regarding those who abuse animals, and to refrain from extracting a bit of "eye-for-an-eye" vengeance on behalf of the animals she works to protect. And she's not that different from all the many, wonderful, and brave individuals who volunteer their time, homes, money, and lives to this worthy cause.

I don't have the heart or the stomach. I know myself enough to know I'd be tempted to start exacting revenge. I'm a curmudgeon enough without seeing first-hand the horrors "humans" can bestow on man's best friend and other animals. So, I'm doing what I can, little as that may be, by donating 100% of the proceeds from e-book sales of Ye Gods! to different rescue organizations each month for the next year.

The e-book cover for
Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons

You may ask, "Why donate the profits from ebooks instead of print?" The ebook cost ($4.95, a little higher than the norm for ebooks, but it's for a worthy cause!) is 1/3 that of the print book ($15.00) so wouldn't that be better? The math of book publishing means, from that $15, the printers costs have to be paid, then the publishers costs, then I get my share from that. I actually make less per print book than I do on ebook sales, even at 1/3 the price. That means the recipient organizations get more, too. That doesn't mean I don't want people to buy the print book. I hope those who do purchase the ebook because it's for a good cause will enjoy it so much they'll want the print book for themselves, too. (Or am I the only one who does that?) The second consideration is that many of the organizations who will benefit from the ebook sales are in the Caribbean where shipping costs can make the purchase of print books exorbitant so ebook sales might do better.

The tentative schedule of what organizations will benefit when is below. Ye Gods! is available as an ebook through online book sellers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

MONTH       ORGANIZATION (*indicates the date/month for this organization to receive proceeds has not been finalized and may change)

May              CARF-Curaçao Animal Rescue Foundation

June              Charleston Animal Society

July               St. John Animal Care Center

August          St. Thomas Humane Society

September     St. Croix Animal Welfare Center

October         Tazewell Animal Rescue Coalition

November      Charleston Animal Society

December       Morningstar Animal Rescue

January           *Pet Helpers, Charleston, SC

February          Animal Rescue Foundation of Rincon

March              St. Croix Animal Welfare Center

April                Broome County Humane Society


The Writing Process Blog Hop is an author-run series, in which indie authors share a bit about their writing process, then pass the buck to the next guy. I’m following Amy Biddle, one of the co-founders of Underground Book Reviews and author of The Atheist's Prayer and Deb O'Neil at Writing Against the Wind

What am I working on?
I'm writing the sequel to Ye Gods! I'd originally planned to hold off on this, write something else first to wait and see how Ye Gods! does and if readers are interested in a sequel. No point in continuing the story if no one wants to read it, right? I'd started a fantasy/magical realism buddy-story about 4 long-time friends who golf together every day at the Charleston Municipal Golf Course, but the characters from Ye Gods! wouldn't shut up long enough for me to really get any traction on Old Putters, so I set it aside. I do have a short story, "Golf Goes On," based on the opening to Old Putters that's been accepted by Fear and Trembling, although I don't have a publication date for it yet.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

While there are a lot of novels that employee magical realism, I think the Caribbean setting in Ye Gods! adds a layer of authenticity to it. There's something about the tropics that makes us believe magic can happen there. I hope my experiences living in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands bring those settings and characters to life for the reader. In Ye Gods! the exotic setting lets people's imaginations run a little more wild than they would in suburbia. It lets the reader suspend disbelief, be more open to the magical quality of it all: There could be a monster lurking in the dense tropical vegetation. Those flickering lights could be a UFO. Those mysterious noises could be the chupacabra.

Waterfall on a Caribbean island (Dominica):
magic could happen here.
While Marina Melee doesn't have the magical realism component, I think the change in George over the course of the novel is due to that magical nature of the Caribbean. Most people think "oooh, tropical island---exotic, paradise," and become captivated, as George did. For people who actually live on tropical islands, the setting isn't "exotic," it just is, it's part of your daily life. Not that you don't recognize and appreciate the beauty, but it's background noise. You go about your daily life the way everyone else does, going to work, to school, the grocery store. You have to pay the bills, think about the cistern running out of water, getting the kids to school on time through the traffic. Throwing someone like George, who arrives in the "ooh, ahh" phase of enchantment, right into the work-a-day world of a tropical island, having to navigate a new culture, lends itself to a lot of humor as he adjusts from the idea of "it's all beaches and umbrella drinks" to "I have to pay the bills and supervise my staff."
Life on a tropical island: it really isn't this all the time!

Why do I write what I do?

Some of the best writing advice I've heard comes from Neil Gaiman: "write the story you want to read." (Thus, my working on "The Un-familiar" now, regardless of its eventual marketability.) He tells authors not to chase after the next big thing because no one can predict that. If you write the current "big thing" it won't be big by the time it gets published, unless you rush it to publication which is a big disservice to the craft of writing and a bigger disservice to the reader. I write what I enjoy reading: quirky satires that, on the surface might just be a fun story, but have some hidden depth that can make the reader think and laugh and look at the world in a different way. I love the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Tom Robbins, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, and Terry Pratchett. They're all masters at making the magical real and the real magical. While I don't think my writing is comparable to any of theirs yet, it's what I strive for.

How does my writing process work?

I'm not one of those diligent and self-disciplined authors who sits down and writes every day. I have to know what I'm going to write, otherwise I end up with gibberish that I'm going to delete anyway. Once I have the main idea of a novel, the "what if..." question and know a few characters, I spend a lot of time thinking about the story and "writing it" in my head. I think out the beginning, ending, and a few way points to get me there while I'm driving, swimming, walking the dogs, doing anything but writing. (Turns out, I make a lot of progress on the plot while doing yardwork, but don't tell my husband that or he'll use it against me!)

Once I have that, I make a plot-line or outline. For Marina Melee, I did it with post-it notes, index cards, and a bulletin board. Now I've moved on to a big roll of butcher paper and colored markers (see the photo below for the first outline of Ye Gods!) I link character interactions and related sub-plots with arrows, color-code characters, and run a timeline along the top of the scroll to figure out how I'm going to get from here (the beginning) to there (the end), hit the way points, and create and connect the dots in between. Then I start writing. Until I get to about chapter 3. Then I go back, re-do the timeline and write a synopsis. Yes, the dreaded synopsis--but I find it really helps for me to write a "pre-completion synopsis". When I write this pre-story-synopsis, I don't have the pressure of knowing "this is what's going to sell my novel to, or get it rejected by, an agent." This is for me. Do I know my story well enough to tell what my story is about in just a few pages? If I can't do that, I go back to the pondering stage to figure out what I'm missing, then redraw the storyline, before I get back to writing.

Mapping out Intersecting Plot Lines and a Timeline for "The Un-familiar."
If that sounds like a lot of work going on before I really make any meaningful progress, you're right, but to me, it seems like a lot less work than forcing myself to write every day just to meet a word count, then throwing those words out, or writing "the end" knowing I'm going to go back and tear it all apart in rewrites. That doesn't mean I don't do a lot of editing and some rewriting, but by the time I even start, I've rewritten it in my head enough times that I'm fairly confident the story I write is the one I wanted to tell.

Following me next week on the #mywritingprocess tour are:

Sophie Schiller, the author of Spy Island
 Jo Anne V Simson, author of Korea, Are You at Peace? and The God That Says, I Am.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

It's My Party and I'll Blog If I Want To!

I wrote a guest blog post on Where Writers Win about my Ye Gods! Book Release Party that I held on Facebook on April 1. Hopefully, by sharing my experience, other authors can throw equally (or more) successful online book launch parties!

For authors looking for helpful resources for marketing, take a look at The Winner Circle at Where Writers Win. Members have access to
  • Our vetted and RATED directory of the Best Book Review sites for your genre
  • Connections to LIVE Book Clubs
  • Indie BOOKSTORES in every state
  • Indie and Hybrid PUBLISHER resources
  • Private WWW Club Forum
  • Free online author marketing TOOLS
  • DEALS and STEALS on services and conferences
...and much more!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Today is the big day--YE GODS! is here!!

That day has finally come! Ye Gods! A Tale of Dogs and Demons is officially released by Casperian Books today!

Stop by the Facebook Virtual Party celebrating the release and discover some amazing authors who will be joining me to discuss their writing, and be entered to win their books!

The schedule of authors and links to their bios and books is in the previous post, so scroll down to see that.