Tag Archives: Readers

Meet author Cyn Ley

The latest author to appear on my blog is Cyn Ley. I first came into contact with Cyn when she edited one of my short stories for a Solstice Anthology. As you can see below, she is the published author of several short stories herself.

What is the title of your latest book? THE OSSUARY PLAYGROUND AND OTHERCyn 1 UNEXPECTED TALES. It consists of four eerie and touching stories of our world and the ones beyond–whether they are real, or matters of the imagination. One of my readers called it “stunning!” I leave the rest to you.

 My other book is ENCOUNTERS: TALES RECOUNTED AND REBORN. These are the best of my previously published stories from 2014-2016, some expanded and re-imagined. From the blurb: “Ranging from social satire to the paranormal, from fight to flight to friendship, these stories touch base on the encounters of the human experience.” Reviewers have called it “original,” “captivating,” “magical,” “thought-provoking,” and “a satisfying and interesting reading experience.”

Cyn 2 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

Taking your time writing the tale. I think we all get hit periodically with the impetus to hurry through our work—we want that stuff out NOW! The problem is, we tend to leave a lot of the story in our heads and not on paper when we do that.

The most rewarding aspect? There are two. The first is when I can read one of my stories over and say, “Wow. That’s really good.” The second comes when a reader comes up to me and says the same.

 What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Cat toys. Seriously. Write and rewrite as many times as you need to in order to get your wording absolutely right. Wad up the drafts for your cat to play with. No one’s first drafts are that good. Sure, there may be perfect bits. Your goal is to make the rest of the story as perfect.

What are you working on at the moment?

A collection of short stories based around a central concept, entitled Neighborhood Tales. It’s pretty much what it sounds like—tales of the microcosm right outside our front doors. There will be a lot of humor in this one.

I don’t write in a specific genre. It’s more like my Muse smacks me upside the head and orders, “Write this down!”

 Note to aspiring writers: Always obey your Muse. She hits hard.

 What do you like to read?

Everything. I’m a professional fiction editor by day for Solstice Publishing, which means my work runs the gamut when it comes to genres. (I was voted #6 Top Editor in the 2016 Predators & Editors poll.) Any well written story is worth the time it takes to read it. Beyond that, I love history and folklore and things that are generally rather strange. Finding where stories and facts intersect is a constant source of fascination.

Where can readers find you?

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Happy Everybody Reads YA

Hello and welcome to this week’s ‘Happy Everybody reads YA’ #SundayBlogShare.

This week I’m sharing an extract from my short story, A Midsummer Day’s Dream, part of the Shakespeare’s women project.

Student Mia is rehearsing a scene in the woods from A Midsummer Night’s Dream with her boyfriend and two other friends. But she finds that sun, drink, and drama don’t mix!


a midsummer day's dream       Everybody poured themselves a fresh drink, and Mia, knowing that it was far from wise (not with her head for drink, not in this heat, not on a nearly empty stomach— but what the hell, suddenly it didn’t seem the day could get any worse) drank most of her glass down in one gulp. Lenny then called them to order.

In the distance, but in reality only a few feet from her, Lenny was marshalling the others into action. Mia felt thick-headed and slightly sick. If I just sit down for a minute I might feel better, she thought, and lowered herself gingerly onto the ground. As Lenny passed near her, attempting once more to persuade Helen over something or other—Mia was fast getting beyond caring—a sheet of paper fell from his trouser pocket. Mia leant forward and picked it up.  She knew at once what it was.

Links for A Midsummer Day’s Dream



Or, if you want to read other stories in the Shakespeare’s women project (suitable for YA, new adult, and adult readers), try my Amazon Author pages:





Small Presses vs. the “Big Houses” – Something for Everybody

diane-libraryheadshotOn my blog today I am delighted to host the author Diana Rubino again (see  my author interview in September) . Here she talks about the pros and cons of the small presses, and encourages aspiring authors to have a go.

At the end of this blog is information on her New York Saga, and where to buy it.

Diana – Writing for a small press can be a stepping stone to a career leap—or it can be your entire career. Since no author can plan on a best-selling career with a big house, pitching to the small presses can be your ticket to publication.

The independent “indie” publishers are much more willing to take chances on new writers and cultivate their talents. Sure, their bottom line is important, as it is to any for-profit business, but they don’t have the time constraints the big houses have. This gives their editors the luxury of taking more time to work with authors, and spend much more one-on-one time with them on technical details such as point of view, character consistency, and basic grammatical and style issues. Small presses also accept unagented material, so authors can avoid the Catch-22 of not being able to land an agent because they’ve not yet established a track record.

Most likely, your small press book will be POD (print on demand) which means copies will be printed only when a customer orders one. It’s up to the author to visit his/her local bookstores, and some stores will order a few dozen copies, arrange for a signing, and give your books a valuable promotional push. But most small presses run on tight budgets, and the author must take the necessary time and funds to finance a promotion; i.e. costs of designing a website and keeping it current, ads on internet sites such as BTS Book Reviews http://btsemag.com/ and BookDaily, www.bookdaily.com, business cards, bookmarks and other giveaways, travel expenses to signings and conventions, etc.

I always like to inspire aspiring authors by telling my unique story: I received my first publishing contract 18 years after writing my first novel. I believe it was my ninth written novel that became my ‘first novel’ – the first that got published, with British publisher Domhan Books (a small press). At the time I signed my first contract, it was the fastest-growing publisher in the U.S. Unfortunately, the owner suffered health problems and could no longer actively run the company, but my five-year tenure there earned me many rave reviews and a Romantic Times Top Pick award. I never gave up on my dream of that ‘big house’ contract, but continued submitting to small presses, eventually landing contracts with Dreams Unlimited, Stardust Press, Eternal Press, The Wild Rose Press, Solstice Publishing, and Sarah Publishing. Although my agent is currently submitting my most recent works to the big houses, the small presses have been very good to me. I’ve had my backlist republished with Solstice Publishing and The Wild Rose Press, and I do promotional offers such as offering my Ebooks at discounted prices on significant dates, i.e., the anniversary of the Lincoln assassination or the end of Prohibition. The promo I do with Twitter, Goodreads and the author/reader groups on Yahoo have brought me reviews and sales that I’m happy with. My editors at The Wild Rose Press and Solstice Publishing are among the best editors I’ve ever worked with. They make my work sparkle. There’s a lot of talent out there in the small press world, and I advise any aspiring author to submit to them, because they offer great opportunities to start your writing career on the right path.

A few caveats to look out for are the vanity presses, which require that authors pay to have their books published. Some writers decide to go this route and self-publish. Of course some of these books have become best sellers. But make sure you choose a royalty-paying publisher if you don’t wish to go the self-published route.

Small presses have always been around, but with the miracle of the internet, many more are thriving, and authors have the choice of a great variety of outlets for their work. Some specialize in certain genres. You need to do your research to find the best fit for your work. But never before have authors had such a wide range of publishers; something for every taste. Now that the Kindle and other E-book readers have come down in price and their sales are increasing, E-book sales have exploded. E-books have been around since the 90s, but never before have they been so popular.

With the outlets that small presses have to offer, so many more writers than ever before can now share their talents with the world, which shrinks more and more every day!

THE NEW YORK SAGA by Diana Rubino diana-ny

Poverty, Prejudice and Murder Won’t Stand in the Way of True Love

The New York Saga spans three generations of the McGlory family, starting in 1894 amidst the poverty and crime on New York’s Lower East Side, through the wild, boozy years of Prohibition, and ending in 1963 as the country mourned President Kennedy’s assassination.

In Book One, FROM HERE TO FOURTEENTH STREET, it’s 1894 on New York’s Lower East Side. Irish cop Tom McGlory and Italian immigrant Vita Caputo fall in love despite their different upbringings. While Tom works undercover to help Ted Roosevelt purge police corruption, Vita’s father arranges a marriage between her and a man she despises. When Tom’s cousin is murdered, Vita’s father and brother languish in jail, charged with the crime. Can Vita and Tom’s love survive poverty, hatred, and corruption?

In Book Two, BOOTLEG BROADWAY, it’s 1932. Prohibition rages, the Depression ravages, and Billy McGlory comes of age whether he wants to or not. Musical and adventurous, Billy dreams of having his own ritzy supper club and big band. On the eve of his marriage to the pregnant Prudence, the shifty “businessman” Rosario Ingovito offers him all that and more: fame, fortune, his own Broadway musical.
Can anything go wrong for Billy? Only when he gets in way over his head does he stop to wonder how his business partner really makes his millions, but by then it’s far too late…

THE END OF CAMELOT begins on the day Camelot truly ended—November 22, 1963. The assassination of a president devastates America. But a phone call brings even more tragic news to Vikki Ward—her TV reporter husband was found dead in his Dallas hotel room that morning.

Finding his notes, Vikki realizes her husband was embroiled in the plot to kill JFK—but his mission was to prevent it. When the Dallas police rule his death accidental, Vikki sets out to find out who was behind the murders of JFK and her husband.
Vikki falls in love with Aldobrandi Po, the bodyguard her godfather hired to protect her. But he’s engaged to be married, and she’s still mourning her husband. Can they find happiness in the wake of all this tragedy?



The Wild Rose Press: http://bit.ly/2bf8bae

About Diana in her own words:

I’m a self-confessed history nut, my favorite eras being Medieval and Renaissance England, and all American history. I’ve written several novels set in England and the U.S., two time travel romances, a vampire romance, and an urban fantasy, FAKIN’ IT which received a Top Pick award from Romantic Times. I’m a longtime member of Romance Writers of America and the Richard III Society. In my spare time, I bicycle, golf, play my piano and devour books of any genre.




Where did the word ‘blog’ come from?

I’ve been writing this blog since March, and never once given a thought as to where the word ‘blog’ came from. That is, until today, when I decided to do a bit of ferreting around on the Internet. Here is what I found.

Not surprisingly, the word is quite new – less than twenty years old. In 1997 Jorn Barger used the term ‘weblog’ to describe a discussion paper or informal website that was published on the World Wide Web. This was shortened to ‘blog’ by Peter Merholz in 1999. Both used the term as a noun only. But very shortly after, one Evan Williams used the term as both a noun and a verb, and also coined the term ‘blogger.’ So now you know!

Throughout this century the popularity of reading and writing blogs has grown enormously. You can find a blog for every human activity in a multitude of interpretations – news, politics, cooking, child care…. You name it, there’s a choice of blogs about it. We also have ‘micro-blogging’ (e.g. on Twitter) and ‘vlogs’ – video blogging.

By and large, blogs are benign ways of exchanging information between people of similar or compatible interests, advertising and informing people of your services (or latest book – see below!), or getting something off your chest. One can learn a lot of new stuff and make a lot of new friends via blogs. There is a dark side, however, especially in regard to news and especially, especially, politics. As Obama (who famously didn’t want to be parted from his Blackberry and the digital world when he became president) is quoted as saying:


‘If the direction of the news is all blogoshere, all opinions, with no serious fact checking, no serious attempts to put stories in context, then what you will end up getting is people shouting at each other across the void, but not a lot of mutual understanding.’


I don’t feel you need worry about Obama’s concerns too much when you are reading this blog. And, if you’ve read this far, here is a reward. Solstice Publishing has placed my latest YA novel – Girl Friends – on a free promotion for this Wednesday 16th November:


If an anthology is more to your taste, then you can read my story – Mary’s Christmas –  in the Pigeon Park Press anthology – Festive Treats. The anthology is free to download until Christmas.


(Check out the page on this blog re published work for more information)



Whilst sitting in the garden of a public house called the Navigation Inn at the weekend, enjoying the autumn sunshine and watching the barges go by on the nearby canal, I mused as to why a pub in such a location would have the name Navigation. Surely there aren’t many navigational skills required on a canal? Don’t you either go up, or down?

canalWhat I didn’t know then, but a short time with Professor Google has informed me, is that canals were sometimes known as navigations. During the late eighteenth century canals/navigations were built throughout England as a more efficient method of transporting goods than a horse and cart. Digging out the canals required intense manual labour and those undertaking this work were known as navigators, or navigational engineers. But not for long: the term was soon shortened to navvy.canal-navvies

It was hard physical work. The pay was poor, but at least it was regular. By its very nature
it often took a man away from his family, and sometimes his homeland, with primitive sleeping quarters, and limited after-work entertainment.

It was also thirsty work. Not surprisingly, a number of public houses sprang up in areas where canals were being dug and, again not surprisingly, navvies took themselves Group of slightly drunk men, three sitting on Tooth & Co., Limitoff to them of an evening, soon gaining a reputation for drunkenness and unruliness. A far cry from my genteel drinking companions in the Navigation Inn gardens last Sunday.

By the 1830s canal transport was giving way to the speedier railways, and navvies turned their attention to railway line construction. The term navvy was still used in England (and often still is for road builders). But in America, where labour costs were higher, navvy was more often the term used for a steam shovel. The manual workers on the railways there were called gandy dancers, and a popular theory for the origins of that term was the coordinated movement of the line of men using a special tool (gandy) in unison to knock a line into place.

Some people think the term navvy has Irish origins as there were many Irish navvies in the twentieth century. But during the eighteenth and nineteenth century, the majority of workers on the English canals and railways were English. There are however plenty of genuinely Irish words that have come into use in English, as I will explore in next week’s blog.

If you have enjoyed reading my blog, and would like to read more of my work, you can check out my books and purchase links on my blog page for published work. Want to try before you buy? I have a short story in the anthology, Festive Treats, which is currently FREEmyBook.to/FestiveTreats


Meet Author Marie Lavender

Today, the best-selling American author, Marie Lavender, features on my blog.mariealternate-400 

What is the title of your latest book?  

My book which is closest to release is called Blue Vision. It is a sci-fi romance about a young woman who goes on vacation in Montana, and begins to experience some strange phenomena. She also meets a stranger in the forest, only the man isn’t who she believes he is. Blue Vision is due for release on November 15th

 What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?

I think it’s challenging that we take on so many roles during our journeys. It can be hard to juggle everything. The most rewarding aspect is not only being in the midst of a scene and feeling that freedom while writing, but also when a fan tells you how much they loved the book or fell in love with a character. It’s extremely rewarding to know you created something from a seed of an idea.

What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?

Be patient. This industry is challenging enough without adding unrealistic expectations to the whole thing. Cradle your dreams, but also put in the work required to accomplish them and know the journey will take as long as it takes.

marie-directions-of-the-heart-ebook-coverWhat are you working on at the moment?

Right now, I’m working on a romantic drama collection titled Directions of the Heart. I’m also writing the second book of the Blood at First Sight Series, which is titled Blood Instincts.

 What do you like to read?

I read a lot of different types of romance novels usually. My favorites are contemporary romance, paranormal romance and historical romance. Now and then, an author will gift me a copy of a book from a genre I don’t normally read, so I take a chance on it and spread my wings a little.

 Some more information on Marie: 

She is the bestselling multi-genre author of UPON YOUR RETURN and 21 other books. March 2016 Empress of the Universe title – winner of the “Broken Heart” themed contest and the “I Love You” themed contest on Poetry Universe. SECOND CHANCE HEART and A LITTLE MAGICK placed in the TOP 10 on the 2015 P&E Readers’ Poll. Nominated in the TRR Readers’ Choice Awards for Winter 2015. Poetry winner of the 2015 PnPAuthors Contest. The Versatile Blogger Award for 2015. Honorable Mention in the 2014 BTS Red Carpet Book Awards. Finalist and Runner-up in the 2014 MARSocial’s Author of the Year Competition. Honorable mention in the January 2014 Reader’s Choice Award. Liebster Blogger Award for 2013 and 2014. Top 10 Authors on AuthorsDB.com. Winner of the Great One Liners Contest on the Directory of Published Authors.

Marie Lavender lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands. Since 2010, Marie has published 22 books in the genres of historical romance, contemporary romance, romantic suspense, paranormal romance, fantasy, mystery/thriller, literary fiction and poetry. She has also contributed to several anthologies. Her current published series are The Heiresses in Love Series, The Magick Series and The Blood at First Sight Series, though she has many other series in mind.

 Blurb for Blue Vision (book one of the Code of Endhivar Series)

marie-blue-vision-final-cover Brooke Sanders just wants to get away from her life for a while. A remote cabin in Montana fits the bill. She doesn’t expect to encounter a mysterious stranger with unusual blue eyes, or events that cannot be explained…

Colin Fielding is on a mission – scout a planet and return home to Endhivar. Simple really. What he doesn’t anticipate is that fate has a pretty twisted sense of humor. Suddenly, this human calls to him, every part of him, like the call of a true mate, and he can’t deny the connection as he gets closer to her.

Little do they know, someone is out to do them harm, as well as the world Brooke holds so dear. Can they stop what’s coming before it’s too late? Or will the universe lose a perfect gem?


Readers can find Marie on her website, her three blogs, on Amazon and Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook and Google+. She also has a monthly author newsletter, which provides updates. Her full list of links is below. 

Amazon author page: Author.to/MarieLavender



Meet Author Natalie Silk

Natalie SilkToday, I’m handing over my blog to fellow Solstice author – Natalie Silk:

My current work is Snowfall’s Secret.  It’s a about a girl from another world who must live like any other tween on Earth (and she suffers from amnesia).  Of course, she learns to enjoy shopping at the mall with her very own debit card and has a few secrets. At its core is the message that everyone has value and has something special to share.

Snowfall's Secret-1The story was inspired by a dream I had when I was twelve.  I saw five monks standing in a semi-circle.  They were all wearing a triangle-shaped pendant with a red stone in the center.  One of the monks looked at me and said, “You’re not ready,” and I woke.  I had subsequent dreams of a girl with a pendant to the one the monks wore and I wrote them all down.

My favorite character to write about (funny how that turned out) was a secondary one to the story:  Mrs. Margot Greenfield. I based her on a favorite childhood teacher.

By the way, my favorite genre to write is science fiction.  Surprise!  Just kidding.

My focus right now is science fiction for girls; but I’m still playing around with a short story that’s alternative history to give myself a mental stretch.  I have this irrational fear that the last thing I finish writing will be my last.  I wonder if I’m not alone.

I’m pretty ‘old school’ when it comes to my writing habits.  The first thing I do is buy a brand new hand-sized spiral notebook and use it to write the basic story that’s mostly action punctuated here and there by dialogue.   The little notebook helps me believe that I’m accomplishing so much.  I then use my trusty laptop to write the second draft that looks as if I threw words down to see what sticks.  The technical term I like to use is word hurl.  Each subsequent draft looks a little more refined than the previous one.  I then use the little spiral notebook to make notes and jot down ideas for the story.

I began writing when I was ten and back then we didn’t have home computers.

I’ve been asked advice by aspiring writers.  I’m very, very flattered.  But let me tell you, I’m still an aspiring writer. My advice is simple:  don’t ever, ever (and I mean ever) give up.

Please reach out to me on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Natalie-Silk-Author-313822162074307/?fref=ts

Twitter @natalieasilk: https://twitter.com/natalieasilk

My website: www.nataliesilkauthor.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Natalie-Silk/