Thursday, January 31, 2013

How Author's Write- Kim Cresswell

Today I welcome Kim Cresswell to share her writing tips and a sneak peek at her debut romantic suspense novel, REFLECTION.

What do you write?
I mainly write romantic suspense novels but I'm trying my hand at a supernatural mystery series.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
I write in 3rd person, multiple POV's. The options are endless and I love being able to tell a story through the eyes of as many characters as I like.

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?
Since my books are plot-driven. I always start with an idea.

Do you draft quickly?
No, I'm the slowest drafter. It takes me at least six months because my internal editor refuses to shut off. On the other, hand, it saves time editing. I think it all balances out in the end.

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
I research while writing the first draft. I find this also helps me come up with some interesting twists and turns as well.

Do you outline? How?
Yes, I outline the plot and sub-plot(s) by adding the plot points into a story-board spreadsheet. I find this works best for me and I'm able to see any holes in my plot.

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I always name everything up front and rarely change characters names etc.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
I work with a couple fantastic critique partners I've had since 2001. These gals are talented published authors and I value their opinions.

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
As far as books, my favourite is, GMC: Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon. An invaluable resource because without these story elements, you don't have a story.

There are so many great web sites out there as well but I think Writer's Digest is probably one of the best all-around websites for writers.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing.
So much! One of my earlier flaws was not showing enough emotion which left my characters flat and boring.

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?

I'm thrilled to announce my debut romantic suspense, REFLECTION, was released a few days ago! You can find Reflection in eBook at MuseItUp Publishing, Amazon and coming soon to Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other fine retailers. Coming to paperback in late February.

I'm going to be guest blogging on numerous web sites beginning in February, including, RomCon (Feb.1st), JustRomanticSuspense (Feb. 3-4) and TBR-To Be Read (Feb. 7th).

Florida investigative reporter, Whitney Steel, has lived in the shadow of her legendary father long enough. To prove herself she needs to find the “Big” story.

She found it.

Now it may kill her.

After Whitney receives a lead pointing to the world's first cloned human, now a small child, she vows to unravel the truth. However, sifting through the facts proves to have dangerous results, including death threats and murder.

When Whitney is nearly killed, but is saved by undercover FBI Special Agent, Blake Neely, he refuses to let her get in the way of his own objective—at least not right away.

Caught in a lethal game between a billionaire obsessed with genetic perfection, his hit man’s thirst for retribution, and a Colombian drug lord fresh out of prison determined to make Blake pay for his twin brother’s death over a decade ago...

Can they save an innocent child before it’s too late?

Faced with tough choices, with deadly consequences for many—Whitney soon realizes that sometimes a story becomes more than just a story.

Watch the Trailer

Mini Excerpt
Uneasiness slid down her spine. She stopped the recorder. “Mason, you’re scaring me. What the hell is going on? It’s been over three years since we last spoke. Then, out of the blue, you beg me to meet with you today. I know the police don’t believe you killed that woman.”

“But do you, Whitney? Do you believe I killed her? I need to know. It’s important.”

Stunned by the urgency in his voice, she answered carefully. “Of course not. You’re many things, but you’re not a killer.”

“Thank you. That means a lot to me.” He reached for his empty glass and tapped his chunky gold ring against the side.

Whitney turned the recorder on again.

“Carmen was a scientist working for a biotech company in Nevada. ShawBioGen. Heard of it?”

“Who hasn’t? They were one of the first to clone animals in the eighties. Caused quite a stir. But I don't understand. What does that have to do with Carmen’s death?”

He opened his mouth to answer.

The large window behind them dividing the patio from the main restaurant exploded...

About the Author:
Trained as a legal assistant, Kim Cresswell has been a story-teller all her life but took many detours before returning to her first love, writing.

For her, writing suspense fiction is an incredible adventure and she's surprised where the journey takes her. She's also an avid reader who enjoys playing computer games, ghost hunting and loves anything paranormal.

Kim has a few new suspense novels in the works including the sequel to REFLECTION.

Web Site:
Twitter: @kimcresswell

Monday, January 28, 2013

How Author's Write- Brandi Schmidt

Today I welcome fellow MuseItUp author Brandi Schmidt. Her debut novel will release this March. Welcome, Brandi!

What do you write?
Paranormal romance

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
1st person

How do you get started with a book? 
I have been blessed that the all my story's just come to me. I believe in a higher power. I never thought I would be a writer, there must of been some divine intervention.

Do you draft quickly? 
I do drafty quickly - I can write a mind map in minutes. I usually write out each chapter's main points first. I will also do a detailed description of my main characters, so that I know them and what they like and how they would react. My first draft is always written from start to finish. I have never been able to write just a scene. Sometimes the story changes or details come out that I hadn't planned. I let the characters tell the story, it seems to work for me. A first draft can take months for me. Only because I work full time and am a wife and mother of 3. It's hard to fit it in, but I do because I love it.

Do you do research before your first draft, during? 
During usually

Do you outline? How?
Yes - chapter by chapter. I also mind map (a form of brainstorming)

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I name everything upfront, if it changes later then I will go back and edit.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work? 
I have an amazing critique group called "The Lit Ladies". I suggest every writer have one. They read as I go, I take their input and ideas as I write.

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
I love to read. I like to loose myself in a good story. I also follow many authors and agents. Agent blogs usually have great information and some hysterical stories.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
HA! I thought - I'm going to write a book - easy right? NO - it's not it's taken me 4 years from start to publication for my first novel THE KINDLING. I'm actually glad I didn't know it would take this long, I may of given up. Sometimes is the idea of success that keeps you going. If you knew you would fail would you continue?

What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share? 
THE KINDLING is coming out March 2013 by MuseItUp Publishing. My first paranormal romance novel. I will be doing a blog tour the month of Feb and March. I will also be attending The Missouri Writers Guild Conference in April, The RT Conference in Kansas City in May and the RWA Conference in Atlanta GA in July. I will also be featured in the RT book Review Magazine in April - "New authors" section.

Keep faith and always do what you dream!
Debut novel by Brandi Schmidt
Represented by MuseItUp Publishing, Release Date March 2013
Genre: Paranormal Romance

Tru Darling is a Sparkler. She didn't choose to be almost electrocuted, inherit otherworldly powers, and fall for the hottest evil guy in St. Louis—but that's exactly what happened. Her power to see true love spark in the eyes of strangers, to watch it flicker with excitement, fuse with it's perfect match, or witness it burn out from despair, is a wonderful curse that drains her emotionally and physically. But she can't afford to be weak while she's hunting down soul mates, saving others' faith in love, and contemplating if her new hot boyfriend is her guardian angel or the angel of death. Being a Sparkler may have its perks; enhanced vision, intuition, and physical beauty. But what of the personal costs that come with Tru's destiny? Constant danger, unbearable pain, and lost souls she just can't save. Tru must choose between a normal life without love or a birthright that comes with great passion, danger, and responsibility.

Mini Excerpt:

            "We are like these branches. They kindle the flame and allow the fire to grow. When the fire can sustain itself, they disappear into the ashes. You can try to start the fire by holding a flame to the logs, but it's a difficult and timely process, if you complete it at all. Most of the time you would give up, exhausted and frustrated." He paused to look deep into my eyes. "You can try to force a fire, pretend it's there, but eventually you will come to know the truth. A pretend flame doesn't have any heat." He stood and moved toward me with his beautiful blue eyes sparkling in the light of the fire that had already begun to blaze beside him. As he neared me, I could feel my heart race and my face flush.

                He knelt at the couch and continued, "You see, we are the kindling for love. We facilitate the fire that burns between two people." He was whispering now, only inches from me. "Can you feel the heat?"

About the Author:

Brandi Schmidt lives outside St. Louis with her husband, three beautiful children, and one loveable Golden Retriever. She is in love with love and admittedly cries at anything sappy. She graduated from Washington University with a BA in Biomedical Engineering Science, but soon found statistics and facts were too confining for her creative mind. Thus, writing became her release into a new and wonderful world of words.

The Kindling is available for pre-order at MuseItUp. I know I'm looking forward to reading this one! You can find Brandi at:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Daughters of the Sea by Julie Eberhart Painter

Back Cover Blurb: Laura, descended from the Tahitian princess Kura, explores her heritage to find answers to her unusual past. Why did her birth father, the last Polynesian navigator, insist she be raised by her American family? What secret threatens her through her Tahitian bloodlines?
Ian, an English journalist, falls for the lovely Laura the first day she arrives on Tahiti. During her quest, he’s by her side when dej√° vu overtakes her. They are plunged into 1769; Captain Cook’s first landing date on the islands.

Chased by the demons of her ancestor’s and fearing for her sanity, Laura and Ian work together to resolve the inequities in her past

Excerpt: This is the legend Ian shares with Laura via the snail mail from New Zealand, where he is writing a travel article about the Maori culture:
Like Tahitians, Maoris tell stories to explain nature. My favorite so far is based on one of their lakes, extremely deep here, It’s an amazing phenomena, explaining the rise and fall of Lake Wakatipu. Legend has it that the s-shaped lake is 1100 feet deep, and rises and falls five inches every fifteen minutes. This was documented. Although there are a few scientific explanations for the phenomenon, I prefer the Maori version:

A giant coveted the Maori chief’s wife and stole her away from him. His wife was the love of his life, and he lost his ‘mojo’ or powers. Nothing went right for the chief after that and he decided that he couldn’t continue as chief unless he first got his wife back. So he headed out to find her.
He pursued the giant through the forest and came upon his campfire. Held captive next to the sleeping giant was the chief’s beloved wife. Realizing he could never kill the giant in a face-to-face confrontation, he decided to put hot coals over him and burn him up, which he did. However, not everything burned. The giant’s beating heart remained. To this day, his heart beats under the lake, making it rise and fall five inches every fifteen minutes. (Just as mine beats only for you.)

About the Author: Julie Eberhart Painter
I am a native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania and have worked with the elderly in Ohio, Georgia and Florida, where I saw many an adopted old person still wondering about their birth families. As an adoptee myself, the “what if” has been large in my life. 
Watching a special about the Tahitians who settled in New Zealand, calling themselves Maoris, piqued my interest. What if an exotic beauty living in eastern Pennsylvania discovered she was born to a Polynesian navigator who read the waves to find new land in the South Pacific? How would a girl raised by a father she trusted react to learning she was half Tahitian, and no one had told her? Wouldn’t she want to know everything about these ancestors and how she fit into both her American family and her ancestral one? What culture did she leave behind, and where does she belong?
Travel and Duplicate Bridge are my get-away passions. Most recently, Kill Fee, a cozy mystery won both the Coffee Time Romance & More award and Best Book 2011 from Champagne Books. Medium Rare, the sequel, released in December 2012.
As Maggie, I read and professionally review other people’s books for CTR. I’m a regular contributor to!issue-14, an online slick, and write flash fiction at Learn more at

Daughters of the Sea, Paranormal Romance available at MuseItUp Publishing
Novel: Julie Eberhart Painter
Release: January 25, 2013
Editor: Fiona Young-Brown
Cover Designer: Charlotte Volnek

Monday, January 14, 2013

How Author's Write- Terri Main

Today I welcome Muse Author Terri Main as she shares her writing process with us.

 What do you write?
I write many things. Fiction and Nonfiction. I do writing for private clients as well as for my own publication. With fiction I write mostly mysteries and hard science fiction. Hard science fiction is based on current scientific knowledge extrapolated to future settings. I don’t do space opera or science fantasy. My mysteries are usually set in the future as well.

 Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
I use whatever POV seems to work best. In my novel Dark Side of the Moon, I wrote about half the novel in third person before I realized it really worked better in first person. So, I changed everything around. I am working on a novel with multiple POV’s which is a bit more tricky.

How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?
Oh, it varies. The novel I’m working on now started as a piece of a dream I had about a WWE wrestling match on the Moon. That particular scene ended up being just a minor part of the story, but it was a starting point. Sometimes, it will be just a thought. For instance, there is a novel I’m working on that began by thinking “What if magic was used for things that technology is used for in our world. And what if the source of that magic was running out and they needed to discover technology.” That led to a Sword and Sorcery type of novel which has a type of science fiction basis about a planet settled by people from earth who rejected technology, but found on this planet a substance that could turn psychic energy into functional energy through manipulation of sound or singling. The story takes place 10,000 years after the settlement of the planet, and the substance called “essence” is running out. So, they are searching for new sources of essence as well as rediscovering the lost technology, but also battling an embedded distrust for complicated machinery.

Do you draft quickly? 
Oh, I write my first drafts at about 1500 words an hour. I write very fast and furious chasing that story. It’s like I’m watching the story unfold on a screen before me and I’m typing like a maniac trying to write is all down before it moves on to the next scene.

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
Most of my research takes place before I start writing. If there is a minor fact I need like the spelling of a place name or the height of a mountain, I just put in a blank and keep writing. Once I start writing, that’s all I do. I write. I don’t edit. I don’t look things up. I don’t ponder over wording. I just write. Now, I may do many hours of research before I write and many hours of research when I edit, but I don’t interrupt the writing with research.

Do you outline? How?
I follow what I call a discovery method of plotting for fiction. I identify several destination points where the story must go, but I don’t do detailed outlines. I basically throw my characters into situations and see how they make it to the next destination point. I spend a lot of time creating and understanding my characters. Once I start writing I let them make decisions. In many ways, my first draft is my outline.

Now, with nonfiction, it’s different. I do fairly detailed outlines, but many people wouldn’t recognize them as such. If I am writing a magazine article based on a lot of research and interviews, I take copious notes and put them on file cards, one fact or quote per card. I then make stacks of the cards according to topic. After that I ask myself which of these topics logically comes first, which follows that topic and so on. I then jot down notes for each section on cards and slip them in the right spots. I use that as an outline. For short articles, though, I might just jot down the main points on the back of an envelope. It really depends on the project. I’m working on a website now for a client and I’m using a website creation program and I’m just creating blank pages for each section of the website. Then I take and make a card for each page and jot down some notes for each page which I’ll use to create content. Each project suggests an organizational method. I try to find that method and use it. I don’t let myself get stuck using only one approach. Like Abraham Maslow said, “If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything as if it is a nail.”

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I am terrible remembering names. I create them often on the fly while I’m writing, especially minor characters. But I keep forgetting the names and I just leave blanks and come back later. I have used Scrivener to just keep a list of names open in a separate window on the computer, but I often forget about that.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
Not really. If I do, it will be only one person and that will be a professional editor with expertise in that genre of writing. I’ve been in critique groups and have ended up more confused than helped. Sometimes they didn’t understand the genre like I do. Other times, they did, but all they gave me was what they liked and didn’t like personally. They rarely critique according to an external set of standards. So, all I ended up with were a bunch of opinions that represented an incredibly small cross-section of potential readers. With nonfiction, I never use them at all. Nonfiction is too fast paced. I have a deadline for a magazine article in a week and my critique partner is busy taking her kids to their soccer tournament this week. That doesn’t work. I’ve been at this writing game for close to 40 years. By this point I have enough experience and education to be able to look critically at my own work and make fairly effective evaluations of it’s value.

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
The Writer’s Market is far and away the best book for writers. First, there are tons of articles by professional writers about all aspects of writing. Secondly, as you read the listings you begin to see trends in what editors want in different genres. You may have to read between the lines a bit, but it is a great education for the  aspiring writing. I also found the magazines Writer’s Digest and The Writerinvaluable to my success as a writer. There is also a book I read years ago, but I’m not sure if it is still in print called One Way to Write your Novel by Dick Perry. If you can find it in your used book store, it’s worth buying. Otherwise, I’d say every writer should read On Writing Well by William Zinsser.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing.
Writing is a job, pure and simple. It is an enjoyable job, but it is a job. That means you can’t sit around waiting for inspiration or “the muse” or some other mythical bolt from the blue. You just have to work at it. Also, that talent is irrelevant. Most of what we call talent is just an innate ability to do what other people learn to do. Talent usually is only one percent innate most of it is ardent desire to do something coupled with the perseverance needed to carry the job through to completion.  

 What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?
Well, right now, I am most excited about the launch of my new writing business. I am providing marketing support for artists, writers, performers and small businesses, web design, ghostwriting, promotional writing and other types of writing services. I will be doing everything from writing simple press releases to creating websites and digital portfolios. That will be fun. That site is at You can find blurbs from my books and links to buy them on that site. You can find my page on Facebook at . If you mention this blog post, I will give a 25% discount off any of my services.

Captain Horatio Albert Nelson, captain of the Earth Trade Alliance battleship had never found a planet he couldn't conquer. Of course, he called it signing a trade agreement, but nobody was kidding anybody but the folks back home who believed in the moral superiority of Earth. Then he entered orbit around a small, unremarkable planet, marked on the star charts as Hansen's Planet and known to its inhabitants as Jarlinden.The confounded people would not fight, nor would they surrender. They seemed unconcerned that his ship could reduce their planet to space debris. They have no weapons, yet seem confident in their security. Are they fools? Or do they know something the captain doesn't?
MuseItUp Publishing

When history professor and former FBI profiler, Carolyn Masters took a position at Armstrong University on the moon, she thought she had left the past behind her. However, she isn’t on the moon long before she is called in to join Michael Cheravik, a rough and occasionally obnoxious former Dallas homicide detective, to investigate the death of Juan McAlister, astromechanics professor and lunar independence activist.
As the investigation progresses, they find that they must not only solve the murder, but stop a terrorist plot against earth, and maybe exorcise the demons of their past.

Rev. Chris Parmenter enjoyed a comfortable life as pastor of a prosperous suburban church. Then one day, a parishioner reveals that she is a clone and asks a provocative question, “Do I have a soul?” His search for an answer leads him to a surprising conclusion as he balances faith, compassion and the business of running a church.
MuseItUp Publishing

You can find more of my work at, including my new release Death Gets an F.

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your process with us, Terri!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Making a Book Trailer

Book trailers are everywhere. Some feature actors, just like a movie trailer, others pictures and special effects. You can make your own for free, or pay for someone to make it for you. The options are limitless.

This weekend, I decided to try my hand at making my own book trailer, and in the process, I learned a lot about public domain and creative commons photos (and music).

I knew that I couldn't just go and take any old picture I wanted from the internet and use it in my project. So, I researched how to make my trailer, using pictures/film clips that weren't in violation of the usage contracts. Be sure you read the fine print carefully. Some sites that are linked to are not for commercial use (and what is a book trailer if it isn't a commercial?).

Not wanting to run into any problems by using images I don't have a right to use, I did some digging. This is where I learned about public domain images. These are images that you can use for any purpose, and modify as needed. How do you find them? You can do a Google image search for them by putting :public domain after your search word (ie: love:public domain). This narrows it down some, but you still need to check the fine print. Not all the images that come up in this search are public domain, and some public domain images require you to attribute the work to the author. Just keep in mind that it is your responsibility to verify that the images you use are public domain and follow the requirements for attributes. The same for music that you use.

Here are two sites that I found quite useful:  There are searchable images here as well as FAQ's about Public Domain images and how to use and attribute them correctly. There is a lot of music here, searchable by genre, mood, or tempo. The ones I looked at were free to use with attribution, but donations were also welcomed. 

I had a script I put together, found my music and my images, and then I put them all together with Windows Movie Maker. It was fun playing with the different transitions and setting the lengths of the images and the way the text moved on the screen. Don't be afraid to play with them until you get it just right. (And don't do what I did and save over your project when trying to save it as a new one! In the end, it was for the best, but it was frustrating.)  

The longest part? Searching for the images to use and picking the music. In the end, here's what I ended up with. Hope you enjoy! Oh, and if you have a book trailer you've made, share the link below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year!

Wow! Can you believe that we've already made it seven days into 2013? Time just seems to move faster with each passing year.

I hope you all had a wonderful time with your family and friends this holiday season. We had a great time here visiting, playing games, and just hanging out.

I know I said I would be going back to my 'How Author's Write' series on Mondays (and I will) but I didn't get that post ready for today. So, instead, I am going to take a look at last years resolutions and set up some for this year.

Monday I will return to the series. And this Thursday, I am going to share my experience with making a book trailer (and the final project). I learned several things I want to share about this process so I hope you'll stop back to hear about it.

Last year I made these resolutions:

1) Set and keep an exercise routine (I don't know why this one is so hard for me to do. It didn't happen.)

2) Continue to write, edit, and complete the two series I have started (Quest of the Hart, Sleeping Handsome(LOL! This was the original name for Quest. I believe I meant to put The Lost Princess here), and A Different Kind of Knight; The Ruby Dagger and The Silver Shroud) (This I've had some success with. Quest of the Hart is releasing in April from MuseItUp Publishing, The Lost Princess has been submitted to MuseItUp for consideration, and Different Kind of Knight is currently going under revisions for submission. As for Ruby Dagger and Silver Shroud, no progress has been made, and I have set them aside to work on some other projects. Not to worry, I will be going back to them one day.)

3) Keep more balance in my life with work, life, writing, and reading (I'm sure my family would disagree, but I think I've made some progress here. I was able to read several books this year while working on several different writing projects. I spent lots of time with family (sometimes just being in the same room while they did one thing and I another) and work was, well work.)

Now my goals for 2013:
1) Set and keep an exercise routine (Hopefully the third time really is a charm!)
2) Finish editing A Different Kind of Knight, finish drafting Shattering Illusions (both Princess of Valendria novels). Get Magic Bound ready for submission (A YA paranormal I'm working on) and draft Faery Kissed (second book in this series).
3) Work on my social media presence. I have a really hard time tweeting and posting at Facebook, so I need to learn how to get stuff up in both places morning and night, without spamming my friends/followers. Any tips? They'd be greatly appreciated.

How about you? What goals have you set for yourself? And did you meet your goals from last year? Share below!