Saturday, February 28, 2015

Learn how to track down an agent or publisher at March 7 workshop

Need help finding a literary agent or publisher? For many writers, it can be harder than writing their book. From 10 a.m. to noon, March 7, St. Louis Writers Guild President Brad R. Cook will discuss: “Querying and pitching: How to track down an agent or publisher.”

Held at the Kirkwood Community Center, 111 S. Geyer Rd, Kirkwood, Mo., the workshop is free to Guild members; $5 for nonmembers.

“In this workshop, we’ll explore the process from start to finish—how to find agents and publishers, how to contact them, how to pitch to them,” Brad said.

Participants will learn what goes in a logline and a query letter, what to say in a face-to-face pitch, as well as how to find agents and publishers at conferences and online. Brad will introduce online tools, with the hope of sending participants away with everything they need to query or pitch to an agent or publisher.

“I can’t guarantee you’ll find an agent, but you’ll have the tools to do so,” he said.

Author of a steampunk adventure, IRON HORSEMEN, Brad is an award-winning short story writer who began his writing career as a playwright. He joined the board of St. Louis Writers Guild in 2008, guiding the organization as president since 2011. He is a founding contributor to The Writers’ Lens, a resource blog for writers, and Write Pack Radio, a weekly podcast airing every Sunday. He wears many hats, as you will learn by visiting or follow him on Twitter @bradrcook.

Learn more about the St. Louis Writers Guild at

Friday, February 20, 2015

Molly Gambiza: A WOMAN'S WEAKNESS encourages women to find their voice

Welcome to Molly Gambiza. As a young girl in Uganda, Molly knew she wanted to see the world, so when an opportunity arose to work as a nanny in England, she jumped at the chance. She arrived in the United Kingdom speaking only a little English and taught herself to speak the language by reading as many novels as possible.

Molly met her husband just as she was preparing to return home. She knew he was the one when he travelled to Uganda to ask for her hand in marriage. Now living in the United Kingdom, the couple has been married for twenty-five years. They have two grown sons, who occasionally pop in to make sure they haven’t been written into their mother’s latest manuscript.

While working as a receptionist, Molly is passionate about writing and fashion. She has published three novels: True Colours, Mistaken Identity, and A Woman’s Weakness.

Twitter- @GambizaMolly
Facebook- Molly Gambiza

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? My job is a twelve-hour shift, very demanding but I always find time for my passion. I do my witting on public transport on my way to work, then during coffee and lunch breaks I write a paragraph or two. Then weekend is when I really sink into my writing.

What inspired your latest book? There is a lot to see on public transport, passengers from different walks of life but one woman caught my attention. She was sitting opposite me applying make-up on what looked like a black eye. I said to myself, lady, you can patch up your black eye but does it take away the pain you are feeling inside? What caused it? Who caused it? I thought she was an abused woman, I named her Eva. Paragraph by paragraph, I created A Woman’s Weakness.

What do you think readers will like about your book? A Woman’s Weakness is written by a woman for women. I have written what women fear to talk about; instead they suffer in silence. Silence is a killer. A lot of women have lost their lives because they choose silence, letting their partners turn them into a red carpet to make them feel like celebrities. A Woman’s Weakness encourages women to have a voice, courage and strength to stand on their two feet.

What is the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Being recognised by successful writers.

A WOMAN'S WEAKNESS: At twenty-nine years old Eva’s biological clock is ticking fast. She must find a man of her dreams before she hits thirty. When she meets David, she is in such a hurry she doesn’t check beyond his piercing eyes and his smooth talk. She is a woman in love. By the time she realises her mistake, it’s too late to turn back the clock. With no one to turn to for help, Eva must learn to smile through pain and cry without shedding tears as she takes on the role of a second wife and a stepmother…

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Tragedy forges tangled romance in Rochelle Carlton's family saga

Welcome to today's guest, Rochelle Carlton, who'd like to share a few words of introduction: 
"Here is a little bit about me--the face behind The Quilt, Unravelled. I am older than I would like to admit and have a full and wonderful life.  For a start I live in New Zealand, a country known for its diversity and beauty. My time is shared with an engineering partner and two “almost adult” children. Therefore I probably fall in to the category of an empty nester. Although for me to qualify, they would have had to leave home! Home is a rustic converted shearing shed nestled on the edge of a pine forest only a short drive from Auckland City. My children fondly refer to me as a crazy cat lady, and I wear the term well. I enjoy the horses on or property, historic and exotic vehicles, fishing, travel, reading, writing, good wine, good food and good friends."

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? The characters, if realistic,  create the story. The words paint the pictures and give the characters a canvas.

What do you think readers will like about your book? The Quilt, Unravelled is a journey with several different threads. I personally do not like, and would not be able to write a candyfloss novel, the type of book that is sweet for a few pages, predictable from the first couple of paragraphs, takes a day to read and when it is read you are left unchanged and unmoved. 

The story is based in the dramatic New Zealand high country and as it progresses the reader is taken to the picturesque seascape of Auckland’s Waiheke Island. Through its words the reader will experience a little of New Zealand life, its violent past, the pioneering spirit that lives within the people, the rich farming life and the smells and scenery that make my country unique. 

This story will appeal to a wide cross-section of readers. It follows a family seeking closure, in essence The Quilt, Unravelled is a saga but it is also a tangled romance born through tragedy.

How much fact is in your fiction? Although The Quilt, Unravelled is a story of fiction the practical and historic details are factual. The locations do exist and the later part of the novel is set on Waiheke Island, which is situated within a few minutes of my actual residence.  

What makes your book/characters unique? Each of the characters in The Quilt, Unravelled is a very unique and believable individual. Throughout their life journeys I have wanted the reader to relate to them,  to feel their struggles, be sympathetic to their flaws and consider the consequences of their decisions.  

What's the highest compliment someone could make about your writing? Several reviewers have written that they have been moved to tears at one of the pivotal points of the book,  after experiencing the loss of one of my characters,  that the characters are believable and that the story has stayed with them after the book was finished.  While a story is a form of escapism created essentially to provide entertainment and to remove the reader from their everyday life,  I believe an author is complimented if they can invoke strong emotion, if they can fully engage the reader and if the story leaves an impression.

Fill in the blanks: 
  • Writing/Editing books is like 
    • “Being with a friend that listens and doesn’t answer back”. 
  •  You never know
    • “When home needs to be more than the four walls you live within”.
What tune/music could be the theme song for your book? Stairway to Heaven! By Led Zeppelin 

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and where would you meet? There are two main characters both of whom I would like to meet.  However if restricted to one it would have to be Joanne Kyle. This articulate young woman evolves emotionally throughout the story. She is introduced as a driven and detached person who is restricted by the constraints of her upbringing. Tragedy forces her to question her priorities but throughout her journey she is shown to be a fiercely loyal friend, who is capable of  sacrificing her own happiness to support those who she loves.  

“I love and miss you, my special Joanne. We should all have the privilege of meeting and sharing our life with someone just like you.” 

My inspiration for Joanne came from a friend who I lost far too early.  

Sipping a quality red wine on one of the many  Waiheke Island vineyards would be the ideal location to meet. 

Would you share a bit about your next project? My next novel is a layered contemporary romance with a little bit of suspense.  It is set in New Zealand. Updates will be posted to my blog

THE QUILT, UNRAVELLED: Joanne Kyle watched the image of a naked man waving with one hand while struggling to keep a towel in place with the other. It would have been amusing had it not been her fiancé who was fading from sight in her rear-view mirror. For successful lawyer Joanne, today marks the start of her life being turned upside down.

Paul Clarke has planned his future and it does not include iconic high country station Twin Pines, or his self-absorbed and unpredictable girlfriend, Leslie. But Leslie has no intention of letting Paul leave, and she will stop at nothing to keep him in the King Country.

A heart-breaking tragedy brings Joanne and Paul together on the beach-fringed island of Waiheke. Joanne will soon face the biggest decision of her life. Rebuild her career, or change the course of her life and take another chance on love.
What unfolds is a moving story of friendship and sacrifice. The Quilt is a dramatic New Zealand saga about a family struggling to find closure after a mysterious disappearance, and healing after heartbreak.

PRAISE FOR The Quilt, Unravelled:
This story will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.
Excerpt from review by Dylan Horrocks. “The painful emotional journey they share felt raw and real, moving me to tears more than once. At its best, Carlton's writing brings the intimate texture of the characters' lives to life through these prosaic everyday details.”

Friday, February 13, 2015

Henderson: Story brings writing into focus

Welcome to Helen Henderson, a former feature-story writer and correspondent who has also written fiction as long as she could remember. Her heritage reflects the contrasts of her Gemini sign. She is a descendent of a coal-miner's daughter and an aviation flight engineer. This dichotomy shows in her writing, which crosses genres from historical adventures and westerns to science fiction and fantasy. In the world of romantic fantasy, she is the author of two series: the Dragshi Chronicles and the Windmaster novels. Helen calls herself a tour guide to the stars, the Old West, and worlds of imagination and invites readers to journey with her.

Find her on the web at:
AuthorWebsite  /   Blog   /   Facebook   /   Google+   /  Goodreads

The Writers’ Lens is about "Bringing fiction into focus." What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? I admit it, I am a plotter. For me, the story is what brings my writing into focus. Scenes, bits of dialog, and settings are captured as the video of the story runs through my mind. Sometimes only a bullet or two, or a paragraph is captured. At others, the keyboard taps out a full scene or chapter. But the time the storyboard is finished, a fairly polished draft of the complete story fills the three-ring binder. That does not mean that I plotted out the entire story, once my characters catch onto me, they take control. Although when I begin writing I think I know how a story might end, those whose tales are being scribed sometimes change the ending, and always take a different path to get there than the one I had envisioned.

How do you find time to write and do a demanding job? Although I am not paid for it in earthly coin, I consider my  activities as a 24/7 caregiver as a demanding job. Carving out time to write means skipping a nap or more often taking advantage of time spent waiting for others. It is surprising how much writing can be accomplished in doctor's offices and hospital waiting rooms. And if computers aren't allowed, editing a paper copy helps keep the stories going along.

Fill in the blanks: Writing/Editing books is like a twisting path. You never know where you will end up. And as fuel for the journey? Pizza, a glass of frozen white sangria, ending with a chocolate éclair for a sugar rush.

What inspired your latest book? Hatchlings Curse is the second book in the fantasy series, the Dragshi Chronicles. The start of the chronicles was a short story that that morphed into a full-length novel. The characters refused to leave, demanding to tell more of their lives. Since then the tales of the dragon shifter Lord Branin Llewlyn and the trader girl Anastasia have expanded into a series. One of the problems was aging Anastasia from the young girl of the short story to the young woman of the first novel then a mature woman in the later books. Making it more difficult, there was a real Anastasia who was four years old when the first piece was written, and is now nine going on nineteen.

And as far as what inspired the original piece, growing up on a farm I enjoyed lying on the grass watching the clouds. Airplanes were part of my heritage and I always wanted to fly. However since becoming a pilot (or my second choice an astronaut) never occurred, at least as an author I can soar with dragons.

What do you think readers will like about your book? I have always preferred to be in the shadows, not out in the limelight. Instead of answering this as the proud author (it can be said I'm prejudiced), I'll share a few phrases penned by reviewers. "The characters are fantastic,"  and "The scenes are truly stunningly written."

I will say this, I am very proud of the fact that romance has learned to take its rightful place alongside action in my novels. A factor that I attribute to working with the multi-published author, Carol McPhee.

Would you share a bit about your next project? There are several exciting things on the horizon. Hatchling’s Mate, the third book in the Dragshi Chronicles is nearing publication next year. The fourth book, Dragon Descendents, is being written. On a different front, for those who know me, I also have a non-fiction background. Being readied for a spring 2015 release in connection with an organization anniversary is From the Back Street to Main Street – The History of the Methodist Congregation of Middletown Point.

HATCHLING'S MATE: Lord Branin Llewlyn is a dragshi, a human who can exchange bodies with a dragon. After millennia of waiting...and searching, Branin and his dragon counterpart, Llewlyn, have found their intended mates. But, for the dragshi, the freedom of flight comes with a price. Now Branin has to find a cure for the childlessness of his kind. Cryptic references to mating flights add hope, but dark references about the deaths of suitors threatens not only his life, but the dreams of all dragon shifters.

Click HERE for an more excerpts and a free read of the first chapter of Hatchlings Curse.

Buy Links:   Amazon / Kobo / iTunes / Barnes and Noble 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Brenda Villanueva: Enjoys flexibility of voiceover, audiobook career

AUTHOR'S NOTE: "The Mother Serpent's Daughter" is probably the most challenging of my stories for a narrator, with characters as young as four and ancient Maya, Inca and Aztec names that few people I know would ever attempt to pronounce. Thanks Brenda, for giving it another layer of depth and life!

Welcome to Brenda Villanueva, a professional voice over actor in the San Francisco bay area.  Brenda is currently represented by MDT Agency and has a young, quirky, smart and engaging voice.  Recent projects just completed:  Competitive Mom Radio spot for Footlocker, Announce for, Announcer and Characters for Video trailer for Wattle & Comb Egg Farms and the audiobook "The Mother Serpent’s Daughter" by T.W. Fendley.

Tell us about your training and next steps in your voiceover & acting career? My adventure in voiceover began years ago when I used to work in advertising. I had a Creative Director stop me one day in the hallway and asked me “Have you ever thought about doing voiceover?” I remembered I had no clue what he was talking about but he encouraged me to look into learning more about the industry. That conversation was in 2007 and in 2008 I started training in voice acting at Voicetrax of San Francisco. I trained in acting as well as various genres such as TV and radio commercials, character development for video games and animation, narration and industrials as well as audiobooks. I also take additional voiceover classes in Los Angeles and improv sessions at B.A.T.S. in San Francisco. Moving forward, I would like to continue producing more audiobooks as well as continuing my training in voiceover.

Why/when did you decide to do audiobooks? I decided to pursue audiobooks because I enjoyed the flexibility of performing and the time frame needed to produce the audiobook. You don’t have to record and produce an audiobook in a tight turn around. One can work on it a few hours every day including editing and flush out some great characters within the time frame you are given. I felt  really connected to the characters in my most recent audiobook “The Mother Serpent’s Daughter” and even missed them when the audiobook was completed. That’s how it should always feel when you finish an audiobook.

Recently a friend received several auditions on her book.  She liked their voices, but thought the inflection was wrong (too little, too much) and one gave more of a dramatic reading than a narration. Is it appropriate to give that feedback and ask for "reauditions?" It is definitely a great idea to ask for “reauditions” after hearing several auditions that were not close to what the author was looking for. Voice talent usually interpret the script based off their extensive or limited training and usually we are only given limited direction. If an author wants the talent to “reaudition” the book with additional and new direction, we the voice talent are more than happy to oblige.

Hear a sample of "The Mother Serpent's Daughter": Audible | Amazon

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

White: Author of a memoir...with a dog

Welcome to Rossandra White, author of the memoir Loveyoubye: Holding Fast, Letting Go, and Then There's the Dog, (She Writes Press, April 2014). She’s a fourth-generation South African raised in Zambia and now lives in Laguna Beach, California, where she hikes the hills and canyons with her Staffordshire Bull Terriers, Fergie and Jake. Ms. White is in the process of putting finishing touches on her YA novel, Monkey's Wedding, which is set in Zimbabwe.

What brings your writing into focus—the characters, the stories, or the love of words? Characters do it for me. If something’s not working in my story it’s usually because I haven’t connected in any meaningful way to my characters. That’s where the heart lies.  I look to them to lead me where I need to go.

What are your top three reasons for writing? These three writers put it best:
  • Elie Wiesel: “I write to understand as much as to be understood.”
  • Ted Hughes: “What's writing really about? It's about trying to take fuller possession of the reality of your life.”
  • Dani Shapiro: “Everything you need to know about life can be learned from a genuine and ongoing attempt to write.”
Is there a different genre or type of book you’d love to try and write? Oh yes! I’d love to write a story involving a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, along the lines of Must Love Dogs, or The Accidental Tourist.

What do I think people will like about your book? If you mean the above-mentioned book I have yet to write—no outline or anything yet—I’m thinking people would like it for the same reason they’ve liked my memoir, Loveyoubye: Holding Fast, Letting Go, and Then There’s the Dog.  A brief quote from a reviewer might help.  Rossandra is such an exciting writer. She has an amazing command of the language and her emotional pitch of tragedy and triumph is sublime.”

LOVEYOUBYE -- A soul-searching story of how a journey home to South Africa empowers one woman to make a life-affirming choice when all seems lost.

The book can be purchased at the following locations: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Indie-Bound and Book Depository.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Klann-Moren's award-winning novel rooted in facts of 1965 Selma civil rights' march

Welcome to author and artist, Nancy Klann-Moren, who began her writer's journey as a creative outlet on long plane rides while traveling for work. Her one-page ideas soon developed into fully realized short stories. Her goal―to create unique stories told in a distinctive voice. 

Soon, some garnered awards, and publication in anthologies. Eleven of them are published in her collection of short stories titled, Like The Flies On The Patio.

One morning while in a writers' workshop, she read an excerpt from a story titled, Fate Carries Its Own Clock. When she finished, the instructor asked what she was doing for the next couple years, because, “What you have written isn’t a short story, it’s a novel.” After a year of foot dragging, the seed he planted germinated, and grew into the award-winning novel, The Clock of Life.

What brings your writing into focus-- the characters, the stories, the love of words? My stories tend to all be character-driven. This was definitely true while writing The Clock Of Life. I lived with these unique, compelling characters through their emotional journeys, and felt responsible for being true to their circumstances, and for revealing their weaknesses and strengths honestly. And, of course, fell in love with many of them.

How much fact is in your fiction? Because the father of my protagonist, Jason Lee Rainey, had been involved in the civil rights struggle, there is a good deal of fact in this story. While creating the man's journal about his participation in the Selma to Montgomery march, I was able to score newspaper clippings originally published in the Selma Times-Journal during those days in March, 1965. With these, and the help of Google, the journal is most definitely historically factual.  And, by way of stories told to the boy by his father's best friend, other important, real events are highlighted.
Even though the town in The Clock Of Life is fictitious, its small town charm came to life after I took a road trip through the back roads of Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. Hadlee possesses the real spirit of the many communities I visited. 

I had my husband tell me the true story about the time he got his first suit, and the unfortunate instructions his mother gave the tailor. To go further with this would be a spoiler. Those who have already read the book know the outcome of that one.

What’s your favorite writing accessory or reference? The hours I've spent scouring my tattered Thesaurus in the pursuit of turning a bland phrase into a vivid impression, are many. I've heard it referred to as the "book nerd's bible." Amen.

If you could borrow one person’s zest for writing and/or life, whose and why? This one's easy - Ray Bradbury. I like to start my day with a cup of coffee and a page from The Stories of Ray Bradbury - just one of each - enough to charge my creative batteries. One day I can read about a giant sea creature who falls in love with a lighthouse, the next day a “wonderful white ice cream summer suit! White, white as the August moon!”  

Describe the best writer you know and something wonderful he or she has written. This is a follow-up from the previous answer. “The great fun in my life has been getting up every morning and rushing to the typewriter because some new idea has hit me. The feeling I have every day is very much the same as it was when I was twelve. In any event, here I am, eighty years old, feeling no different, full of a great sense of joy, and glad for the long life that has been allowed me. I have good plans for the next ten or twenty years, and I hope you’ll come along.” Written by Ray Bradbury on his 80th birthday.

If you could meet one of your characters, who would it be and where would you meet? I would like to meet up with Jason Lee's best friend, Samson Johnson. We would meet at their secret spot on the flat boulder overlooking Mosquito Lake. I'm a sucker for Samson's precocious nature and his ability to rise above insults and stay positive and forward thinking.

Is there anything else you would like to add? Yes. Readers hold the key to any writer's heart. Readers are our raison d'être, and I am particularly grateful to everyone who has expressed appreciation for my efforts.

Facebook:  Nancy Klann
Twitter:  @klanncy

THE CLOCK OF LIFE: In the small town of Hadlee, Mississippi, during the 1980's, Jason Lee Rainey struggles to find his way among the old, steadfast Southern attitudes about race, while his friendship with a black boy, Samson Johnson, deepens.

By way of stories from others, Jason Lee learns about his larger-than-life father, who was killed in Vietnam.  He longs to become that sort of man, but doesn't believe he has it in him.

In The Clock Of Life he learns lessons from the past, and the realities of inequality.  He flourishes with the bond of friendship; endures the pain of senseless death; finds the courage to stand up for what he believes is right; and comes to realize he is his father's son.

This story explores how two unsettling chapters in American history, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, affect the fate of a family, a town, and two boyhood friends.

Book Awards and recognition for The Clock Of Life:

2014 - Finalist, Best Kindle Book Awards, Literary Fiction
2014 - Second Place, Writer's Digest Self-Published e-Book Awards, Fiction
2013 - Finalist, Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Fiction
2013 - Finalist, Readers' Favorite Book Awards, Southern Fiction
BRAG (Book Readers Appreciation Group) and five-star review
AIA (Awesome Indie Approved) Gold Medal and five-star review