Saturday, September 29, 2012

...And What A Year It's Been!

Wow! Musa Publishing is a year old!

That means that I've been a published author for an entire year. I was fortunate enough that my first novel, The Blacksmith's Daughter, was chosen as the first release for Musa's Euterpe line for YA fiction. Everything about that experience transformed my vision of my book, my writing, and myself. I cannot thank everyone at Musa enough for bringing me on board and giving my work a chance.

The folks at Musa brought my work to an audience I could never have reached on my own. It won first place in the OK RWA International Digital Awards for YA long novel. I have actually had a book signing. All this was because Musa Publishing believed in this book.

But the support didn't end with the book's release. Over the past year Musa has offered workshops that cover everything from writing hot blurb copy to book contracts to finding an agent. I have enjoyed and learned from every single one. (I laughed a lot during "How to Write Love Scenes" but learned a great deal during that one too! Some things I didn't really want to know. . . )

Even more wonderful is the incredible group of writers that call Musa home. Everyone helps promote and support each other so generously. Furthermore, I can personally attest to the quality of the work coming out of Musa because I have read a number of Musa books. Every time I finish one I am that much prouder that I am part of the Musa group.

CONTEST: In celebration of this fantastic event, everyone who follows my blog and leaves a comment with their email address will be entered to win a pdf copy of The Blacksmith's Daughter, the perfect format for reading on the Kindle Fire that will be given away to one lucky bloghopper!!! And I am sweetening the pot to include a $10 MUSA PUBLISHING gift card. Yes, I want you to read my stuff, but I want you to read other Musa authors as well!!  Also, please friend me on Facebook at

In case you don't win or just don't feel very lucky, here's the link to an exerpt from The Blacksmith's Daughter and an easy buy link at the fabulous Musa Publishing website (the Amazon link is up at the top).

Now before I forget, here are the rules of the bloghop again:

Rules to Hop

1) HAVE FUN!!!


3) THIS TOUR STARTS: October 1, at Midnight (pst)

THIS TOUR ENDS: Monday, October 7, at Midnight (pst)

Winners will be drawn and posted October 9th! ***

Come Join the Party on October 7th at The Romance Review Forum to enter to win more prizes. (Exact address will be posted as soon as I get it)


5)Grand Prize of a Kindle Fire is for US and Canada mailing addresses only. International winners will receive a $50.00 Musa Gift Card. Winner will be announced on October 7, 2012 at 11 est at The Romance Review Forum.

6) DID I MENTION TO HAVE FUN? ***Authors & Book Pages have full discretion to choose an alternate winner in the event any winner fails to claim their prize(s) within 72 hours of their name being posted or after notification of win, whichever comes first. Anyone who participates in this blog hop tour is subject to these rules.***

To go back to the Linky Link and visit more blogs for MORE CHANCES TO WIN a Kindle Fire and other great prizes, click here!!!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Clarissa Johal Goes Paranormal!

I recently had the chance to interview the super cool Clarissa Johal about her upcoming novel Between (Musa Publishing December 2012). Clarissa's blog "Writing with Scissors" is so much fun to read I wanted to be the first in line to talk to her about writing paranormal fiction.
Between is a paranormal novel, right? How do you approach the paranormal? What do you find interesting in this genre?
Between is a story of the paranormal, yes. I approach it in this novel as being a part of the protagonists “normal” world because she can see spirits; they disturb her but it isn’t unusual for her to see them. Personally, I’ve always felt there are many things in this world we have yet to understand. That’s how I approach writing the paranormal. Yes, it sounds fantastical, but who’s to say one person’s fantastical isn’t another person’s reality? And who’s to say their reality isn’t real?

I find the paranormal genre interesting because it leaves so much wide open as to what you can write about. Anything is possible. Plus, I feel that it’s becoming more widespread and acceptable to admit to believing in the paranormal. Kind of coming about full-circle, if you will. Five hundred years ago, people believed in ghosts, fifty years ago, not so much. Now, I think we’re kind of getting back to that belief stage but trying to “prove” through science that ghosts exist. I find it interesting.

 What qualities does your lead have in Between that make him/her compelling to you? Why did you want to write his/her story?
Well, my two lead male characters wouldn’t leave me alone to write the YA novel I was working on. So, I have to say, I had no choice but to share their story! But Lucinda, my lead protagonist, believes whole-heartedly that everything can be saved. She’s a veterinarian, which is a quality you want in that field. I wanted to write her like that because it’s something that I feel people grow out of. As we mature, it becomes evident that every life can’t be saved, sometimes death takes a hand and takes it without our permission. I wanted Lucinda to still hold onto the belief that she could save every life. It’s what attracts my male antagonist to her because he’s coming from a period in time where nothing anybody did could spare the lives of those you loved.

That sounds really interesting to explore. I am particularly intrigued by the hint that he's not from around here, so to speak!
Tell me about the most unusual inspiration you’ve encountered. What’s the strangest thing that ever inspired a story in you?
I have to say, this story has been the strangest story to come about. Like I said, I was writing the second installment to my YA series and the two male characters kept popping into my head—to the point where I couldn’t concentrate on what I was working on. I knew they definitely didn’t belong in a YA novel. So, I started writing Between and it came fast. There were times I’d write for an eight hour stretch and go back to read what I’d written and not remember writing any of it. I’d dream in Gaelic and Latin, which I don’t know. I’d wake at two in the morning, write it down and look it up the next day to realize that some of the translation actually made sense. It sounds loony tunes, and I realize that, but that was my experience. There were historical details I wrote, and then in checking my facts later, were spot on. So, I don’t know. Strange way to write and definitely not the usual way I write.

 Whoa! I never yet dreamed in a foreign language and I thought my dreams were trippy. That adds a whole fresh layer of paranormal to this book, Clarissa!
So, finally what’s the most unexpected place on earth you want to visit and why?

My friends and family know how much I love Scotland, especially the rainy, cool weather. But, I’ve always wanted to visit the Amazon rain forest. I’m not a fan of insects nor do I like the heat, but I would love to see and experience the wildlife there. My hobby is photography, so I would definitely take my camera with me.

Very neat place! But I agree with the savage bugs. I think I'll just join you on your next trip to Scotland instead!

So to whet everybody's appetite for more  Between, here's a taste of what's to come!


Coming from Musa Publishing on December 14, 2012
Since Lucinda was a young girl, she's been able to see spirits, a gift that didn't come without its problems. Now a dedicated young veterinarian, she is committed to the idea that everything can be saved. When Lucinda is involved in a car accident that kills her fiancé, she is devastated and moves to a small town to live a life of self-imposed exile. There, she meets a newcomer and feels an immediate connection with him.

However, there is another mysterious stranger to the small town, one that stirs within her a mixture of unease and desire. The spiritual activity around her intensifies as Lucinda is increasingly haunted by memories of the accident. As she is drawn into a bitter tug-of-war by the forces around her, she is likewise pulled into a dangerous twist of past and present events. Forced to make difficult choices, she surprisingly finds that the two men are locked in not only a battle for her life . . . but a battle for their salvation.

Now go friend Clarissa and follow her awesome blog, "Writing with Scissors"!!!   

Author website:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

I Put the FAN in Fantasy: Mystery Men

The cast of Mystery Men
In compliance with my recent pledge to myself and everybody else on the Internet, I am amping up the "weird" factor in my web presence to better reflect my truly geeky self. In particular, I am starting a series of posts about one of my absolute FAVORITE topics in the world--fanfiction.

Fanfiction has a less than stellar reputation in the serious publishing industry, but there are at least 2.2 million users posting stories in 30 languages around the world at the biggest site And that doesn't count all you anonymous lurkers out there who read and NEVER REVIEW. Yes, I'm talking to you. Just drop a note that says, "I read this. It was good." You'll be making some poor non-paid author's day (mine included). Plus there are loads more sites like Live Journal and Deviant Art that post fics too.

So in honor of my long held personal and academic interest in the phenomenon of fanfiction, I'm going to address one of the first elements of writing it:

Have a burning desire to write that story.

For instance, I love the movie Mystery Men. It's such a fabulous tribute to, spoof of, and exploration of the superhero movie. In this world, nearly everybody has some kind of weird, marginal superpower. The Shoveler who can shovel really really well. Spleen whose gas is silent but extremely violent. Mr. Furious who gets really mad---really mad. The Blue Rajah who throws forks---hey, anybody can throw a knife, but a fork? Invisible Boy who is only invisible when nobody is watching him and it somehow works. And my favorite, The Bowler with her signature bowling ball containing the skull of her dead father, Carmine the Bowler.

I adore this movie, but I have never once been afflicted with a fanfiction story about it. Maybe the movie wound up all the plot bunnies. Maybe there wasn't somebody I just had to see hooked up (romance is a major thread in my fics). For whatever reason, as much as I loved the characters in Mystery Men, I never wanted to write about them. So I didn't.

Too many times, we writers of "real" fiction spend a lot of time studying the market and trying to come up with the next Harry Potter or Twilight or Hunger Games or Shades of Grey. So we end up with this uninspired pastiche Dirty Harry Games Taking Place at Dusk and we wonder why there are no takers on the manuscript. It's because the burning desire ain't burning.

If, by some chance, you are like me and need your muse to get off her rear and go to work, you better find an affliction of plot. You better stir up an itch you have got to scratch. Fantasize about it. Tumble over the thoughts in the top of your head until they began to bother you at night.

If your original plot isn't coming together, never fear! A great way to break loose the creative mojo is to write a little fanfiction. What's a movie or tv show you love? What is the one thing that never happened in it that you always wished you could see? Now write it. Run it up the digital flagpole at and see who salutes it.

Trust me, somebody out there really wants to read it---unless it just sucks eggs. In that case, definitely start writing fanfiction and work on your creative chops. Learn from your reviews. Ask for honest opinions. Get beta readers. The only way we get good at our craft is to practice it. Fanfiction is a super accessible, fun, free way to toss your pearls before a built in audience and get nearly instant feedback.

But whatever you do, DO NOT start writing Harry Potter fics just because they are so incredibly popular. You MUST have a burning desire to write this piece above all others. Some of my very best work is in the Earth2 fandom---a small but very loyal group---and some of my best writing cohorts and internet best friends started right there (I'm talking to you, NatX!) I wouldn't be where I am without those fics and those readers. They made me better.

So what are you waiting for? Inspiration? Let me toss out a few ideas---romances that never came to fruition, minor characters whose stories beg to be told, missing pieces of the big picture (I'm thinking lots of Firefly fics), continuations of stories that have "officially" ended. Any of these can be your sandbox to play in.

Meanwhile, if you want to read mine----gotta plug myself for a second 'cause I just ADORE reviews---I am at and you can always check out my first real published novel The Blacksmith's Daughterat  from Musa Publishing.

Now what are you waiting for? Go get afflicted with plot!!

Friday, June 22, 2012

I Ask Ted Mendelssohn Hard Stuff

First of all, let me say how much I LOVED Ted Mendelssohn's new book The Wrong Sword. I loved it so much I started writing interview questions for Ted in hopes he'd answer them for my blog because I really wanted to know the answers!! So this isn't the usual author interview.

I am asking HARD stuff!

Thanks so much, Ted, for giving in to my curiosity! First off, the history in The Wrong Sword fascinated me! I loved your attention to detail and depiction of medieval France and England. Are you a historian along with your other many careers?

Thank you! When it comes to history, I'm an amateur, but I was lucky enough to attend a college with a demanding Western Civ requirement. (We read Beowulf in the original.) That got me started.

I like to think of Beowulf as the first action hero in English myself. In particular your depiction of such famous characters as Prince John and Eleanor of Aquitaine was so sharp it was hard to separate the fact from the fiction. Who did you make up? Was Geoffrey Plantagenet a real guy? If so, what in history earned such antipathy towards him that you turned him into such a scary and credible villain?

Well, gosh. You can't see it, but I'm blushing. Here's the deal:

Geoffrey, John and Eleanor were all real people - although by the time of this story, the real Geoffrey had actually been dead for several years. (There are two accounts of his death, the most likely of which is that he died in a joust, trampled by a horse...which I refer to in the novel. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, eh?)

Since Geoffrey died in a joust and was involved in several wars - including revolts against his own father - I figured that he was a typically aggressive member of the Anglo-Norman nobility; so I made him a damned good fighter. As to his cunning, the early Plantagenets were indeed a famously brainy bunch; and Geoffrey's contemporary, Gerald of Wales, described him like this: "He has more aloes than honey in him; his tongue is smoother than oil; his sweet and persuasive eloquence has enabled him to dissolve the firmest alliances and his powers of language to throw two kingdoms into confusion." He was also known not to give two farthings for the sanctity of the Church, raiding and despoiling monasteries and churches whenever he needed money. Add up the persuasiveness, the military experience, and the cynicism toward the sacred, and you have our Geoffrey.

Eleanor was the real deal. The heiress to the Duchy of Aquitaine, she had direct control of more (and richer) land than the King of France himself. She married Louis of France, divorced him, and then married Henry Plantagenet, nine years her junior; Henry became King Henry II of England within two years. She bore ten children in an age when even one pregnancy was dangerous; she went on Crusade with Louis and scandalized the Crusader States; she spoke Poitevin French, Latin, and Norman; she rode, hawked, and hunted; she was a patron of poets, troubadours and writers; and she was so famously beautiful that there was even a drinking song about her - one that survives to this day. She also turned her sons against their father, Henry, and encouraged them to rebel against him. So - remarkable, charismatic, and also a little horrifying. But so was Henry II; they were well-matched.

Of them all, I'm afraid I've done the least justice to John. By many accounts, John was actually an able administrator and a good general; he even reformed English common law for the good. So the idea of him as someone childish and stupid is unfair. However, he did have serious personality flaws, including pettiness, spite, and cruelty. He could apparently vacillate between being amiable and generous and being jealous and prone to fits of anger. He seems also to have had a knack for making snide remarks at the worst possible time, like mocking Irish beards while he was actually trying to govern Ireland. John was also shortish, barrel-chested, and red-haired (like his dad), not the lanky exquisite that I put in the book. Ah, well.

The tone of TWS is a very refreshing mix of current vernacular language with medieval concepts and history. Why did you choose to interject such (I hesitate to say it) anachronistic elements into what is otherwise such an incredibly grounded novel historically speaking?

To the characters who are actually living the story, their speech doesn't sound archaic; it sounds contemporary. What Tristan says to Isolde in Chretien de Troyes sounds archaic to us; but to him, it would have sounded modern. If the language in TWS were *really* contemporary, we wouldn't even be able to understand it; English as we know it today didn't exist. That's my way of saying that every "historical" novel is fake to some degree (even one as beautifully researched as Ken Follet's Pillars of the Earth). I just decided that TWS didn't have to pretend otherwise.

Ted, I absolutely love that answer and completely agree. You handle that little dichotomy with such hilarity as well---one of my favorite elements of the book. So, what was the most fun thing about writing TWS? What was the hardest thing?

Most fun: Chase scenes, food fights, and anything with Brother Wiglaf. Brother Wiglaf is my chance to make all sorts of steampunk in-jokes. Sir Percy is also fun.

The hardest thing? Believe it or not, the fights between Henry and Excalibur. They have to ultimately function as one unit, but still be fighting for control all the time. It's a tricky balance in terms of plot.

And last, because I am desperate for a writer's retreat so I can actually get some work done, if you could hold a writer’s retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go?

I live in New York, which is widely acknowledged - at least by its inhabitants - to be the center of the universe. So maybe the Cuban-Chinese restaurant on 78th Street.

Now I am laughing out loud and wondering if they make a Cuban Egg Foo Yong because I would totally eat that!

Okay, seriously...I'm afraid if you say "anywhere in the world," it's going to generate a lot of places most authors won't get to easily: Venice, Rome, Istanbul, Bangkok, Copenhagen...

They all sound great to me. Let's start getting ticket prices! 

Thanks so much, Ted, for indulging my curiosity. Now, everybody, here are all the links to Ted's web presence and book purchasing. Like I said, I LOVED The Wrong Sword and do not hesitate to recommend!  

The Wrong Sword
by Ted Mendelssohn

For a thousand years, Excalibur has been the sword of heroes.
Unfortunately, its new owner isn’t one.

Henry of Sanbruc, medieval smartass, makes a pretty good living selling "magic" swords to gullible knights. When he's forced to steal the real thing from the Chapel Perilous, his troubles are only beginning: For Excalibur is not just the sword of’s also the sword that won’t SHUT UP. It communicates with its owner, it knows what kind of owner it deserves, and Henry doesn’t even come close.

To keep Excalibur and the world safe from the appalling Geoffrey Plantagenet, Henry will have to masquerade as a knight, crash a royal wedding, rescue a princess, break a siege, penetrate the secrets of the Perilous Brotherhood, and find Excalibur’s rightful bearer, all while trying to reach an accommodation with a snotty, aristocratic hunk of steel that mocks him, takes over his body, and keeps trying to turn him into the one thing he hates most...a hero.

Buy links:

Barnes & Noble

Musa Publishing

Ted's blog is at

Thanks again, Ted, for dropping by!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why I Write Light Fantasy and Romance, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Art

I was listening to Kate Bush's album Aerial on my way home from the day prison--day job, I mean--and as usual, the lyrics to "A Coral Room" made me cry. 

Here's the link to listen to this song---this hauntingly beautiful song---while you read this rant.

I really think Aerial is perhaps my favorite album of hers, but I think that about every new album she releases. "A Coral Room" explores time and memory through the use of ordinary images like a crumbling seaside town and a little milk jug that belonged to her mother.

There's nothing overly emotional about the lyrics. It's not maudlin or sad. In a 2005 interview, Kate said that she was inspired by a statement she once heard about holding an item in your hand with the full awareness that one day it would break and be no more.

Proust also does it in the beautiful passage in Swann's Way in which he extrapolates his entire childhood out of a piece of cookie dunked in tea. I read that piece over 20 years ago and still keep coming back to it in my memory and looking it up to reread it, just like I listen to "A Coral Room" over and over again.

I agree that the artistry and the execution of this lovely marriage between our present and our past merit all the praise I can put upon them. I absolutely LOVE both the song and the passage. I just HATE what they do to me.

Maybe other people are able to reminisce happily and not mournfully but apparently I am not able to do that. Proust's original title in French is A la Recherche du Temps Perdu (forgive the lack of proper punctuation) which when translated by my high school French reads To the Remembering of Lost Time. I find that translation much more to my liking than the usual Remembrance of Things Past.

The past is lost time, time that won't come back. I can't go there in my memory or in my fiction and not be consumed by grief. I steer away from books like Nicholas Sparks writes, not because I think they are bad, but because I can't handle the truth.

I hate breaking open the wall around my memories. When I listen to that song, I get all choked up thinking about my dad, who died in 2003, and about my childhood and about those moments long gone that will never come again. And I just cry and cry and cry. I HATE that!!

Rather than pulling my childhood out of a cup of tea or a milk jug, I'd rather take Douglas Adams' stance and extrapolate my significance in the universe from a piece of fairy cake. Let me frolic in the happy shallows of the present than plunge into the deep waters of memory and loss. Maybe introspection like that is good for the soul, but I think it sucks to do.

Give me fun! Give me crazy times! Give me wild monsters and challenges to overcome! Give me romance! Just don't ask me to hold something precious in my hand knowing one day it will be gone forever.

Real life gives me that already, every single freaking day.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Avengers and the (Hopefully) Rise of Hopeful Fantasy

I recently read a review of the awesome new Marvel movie The Avengers and was delighted to hear that somebody else felt the same way that I did.

Cue movie announcer voice: "In a world where fantasy grows darker and darker, where dystopias reign supreme, out of the gloom rises The Avengers! A movie that actually makes you feel better about life!"

I have to admit I have neither read nor watched The Hunger Games. I am not hating on anybody who has and who loved it. It's just that my life is miserable enough at times without borrowing somebody else's darkness. I don't want to read about a future that's all dystopian and upsetting. Now, when I was in high school, I ate up 1984 and Brave New World like they were candy. I felt positive the world was going to hell in a handbasket and these books were proof!

These days, though, I am much more inclined toward optimism, hence my enjoyment of the happy butt-kicking of The Avengers.

The Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender also had the right mix of current trouble and ultimate hope in my opinion. Aang wasn't an overly troubled teen---or at least his troubles didn't make him angsty. He kept looking for something better in the world and kept believing that he could make a difference. Heck, even thoroughly angsty Zuko (be still my heart) finally came around to Aang's way of thinking.

I want more movies and shows that make me feel positive after I've watched them, like maybe the world is worth saving and that it's not all going to hell in a handbasket.

More Chris Hemsworth in my movies is always a good thing too, but I digress. Ah, Thor (be still my heart---again).

Even though I'm getting ready to put my characters from The Blacksmith's Daughter through some pretty serious crap here in the sequel The Merchant's Son (also involving scary giant man-eating wasps), I don't ever want to lose that little thread of hope that ties it all together. Because when we've lost hope, what else is there?

Well, there's still Chris Hemsworth.

Your thoughts?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Welcome to the Musa Publishing Memorial Day Blog Hop!

Thanks for stopping by! I also want to thank all our troops and their families for their willingness to put themselves in harm's way to defend our country. A special thanks to my father-in-law who served in the United States Army and to my brother-in-law who is currently an aviator in the United States Navy.

In The Blacksmith's Daughter, two of my main characters, Acwellen Lex'Magen and his friend Nerian Elidor, are both soldiers. I spent a great deal of time researching arms and armor and fighting techniques in order to make their story as realistic as I could make it. However, as hard as I tried to make it "feel real" in fiction, I cannot come near to presenting combat as it must truly be from the inside.

I have the utmost respect for those men and women who gear themselves up and head out into danger because they love their country and will risk their lives to defend their homeland. I tried very hard to capture some of that feeling with Acwellen even though the enemies that confront him are wizards and monsters.

I am giving away a free copy of The Blacksmith's Daughter to one lucky winner who comments on this blog and friends me on Facebook--here's the link to my Facebook page! Please feel free to "like" The Blacksmith's Daughter page as well. Just be sure to leave me an email address and preferred e-book format in your comment.

The Blacksmith's Daughter

She believes she is only a blacksmith's daughter, but he must discover

the truth or risk losing his land---and his life.
Acwellen Lex'Magen rules as liege lord of a small country bounded by forbidding mountains and powerful neighbors. When the neighboring baron, allied with a powerful wizard, attempts to take over his land, first by political, then by covert means, Acwellen finds an ally of his own in Enith Roweson, an unassuming blacksmith who possesses powers he's only known of in legends. As he attempts to unravel both the plots against him----including the nature of the monsters sent to assassinate him----and the mysterious powers Enith is only beginning to understand she has, he also finds himself falling in love with the blacksmith's daughter.
Don't feel lucky? Feel free to just buy a copy! Or read the sample for free!!

Now, back to the Musa Publishing Memorial Day Blog Hop! Just click HERE.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Welcome to my little stop on the Happy Easter Blog Hop! I know many of you are looking for romance and I completely agree. I LOVE love! In fact, even though my book THE BLACKSMITH'S DAUGHTER is crossmarketed as a YA read, it's got a romantic subplot to go along with its fantasy. The romance element is YA appropriate mainly due to its sweet level.

 I am also giving away a copy of THE BLACKSMITH'S DAUGHTER to one lucky winner who comments on this blog. Do be sure to leave me an email address and I love followers! Feel free to friend me as Arley Cole on Facebook. Meanwhile, my steamy alter-ego, Leigh Daley, is hard at work on the spicier side! Keep watching for her as well.

Thanks for dropping by and here's a little glimpse for you!

The Blacksmith's Daughter

She believes she is only a blacksmith's daughter, but he must discover
 the truth or risk losing his land---and his life.

Acwellen Lex'Magen rules as liege lord of a small country bounded by forbidding mountains and powerful neighbors. When the neighboring baron, allied with a powerful wizard, attempts to take over his land, first by political, then by covert means, Acwellen finds an ally of his own in Enith Roweson, an unassuming blacksmith who possesses powers he's only known of in legends. As he attempts to unravel both the plots against him----including the nature of the monsters sent to assassinate him----and the mysterious powers Enith is only beginning to understand she has, he also finds himself falling in love with the blacksmith's daughter.

 Don't feel lucky? Feel free to just buy a copy! Or read the sample for free!!

Thanks for dropping by! Now head back over to the Happy Easter Blog Hop by clicking here!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Turning Back for the Donkey

"Sometimes you just gotta turn back for the donkey."

I had no idea what my daughter meant. What donkey? We were on our way to lunch at a new place. I did not see a donkey.

But my daughter had. She and a friend were driving through town one afternoon last week when she spotted of all things a donkey on the side of the road. They drove past, but then my daughter told her friend to turn around. She wanted a better look at the donkey.

The little animal was still there, peacefully ambling down the side of the road as they cruised past it slowly. "He had curly hair on his head," my daughter noticed. "I didn't know donkeys had curly hair."

If you don't turn back and take a second look at things, it turns out there are lots of things you never learn.

We took an extra hour to eat lunch today because we went someplace new. Sure, we could have done the same old thing in town, but we got a chance to experience something different because we took a little extra time to explore the world. We turned back for the donkey.

I spend a great deal of my time on the same old thing. I don't usually stop my routine or go a little out of my way to drive down the street where the flowers are already blooming. I don't take the scenic route to work past the artesian spring. I haven't set up the telescope in an embarrasingly long time.

As a result, I'm missing all kinds of experiences and interactions with the world and with others that would only make life much more interesting and more fun---all because I won't take a few extra minutes out of my daily grind to turn back for them.

But my daughter's words have stuck with me. "Sometimes you gotta turn back for the donkey."

I'm going to start turning back for the donkey way more often.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

From Russia with Love

In case you haven't heard, I have a serious obsession with fanfiction. In fact, I am seriously considering writing a book on how to use fanfiction to help writers get published. I know that my work in fanfiction was instrumental in getting me over the hump with submitting my original works so that I have a book out right now with Musa Publishing--The Blacksmith's Daughter (in case you didn't know.)

One reason why I just love writing and reading fanfiction is its truly international audience. I have made all kinds of online writing friends from literally around the world. Right now, I'm writing a Lost fanfic called Grace Period that has readers in Australia and now in Russia. Yep, one of my wonderful readers, Natasha, like it so well she is translating it into Russian for her community of Russian Lost fans!

It never ceases to amaze me when I pull up the traffic stats and check out the number of countries represented. In the month of February, I have had visitors from 37 different countries, including sixteen different visitors from Nigeria. I wish to goodness I knew what they were reading and how well they like it!

Because sadly out of the 611 worldwide visitors and 2000+ hits to the site, only a handful left a review! However those few reviews were all positive and encouraging.

The internet is such an amazing creation. Only a few years ago, the only way to be read was to land a publishing contract with a traditional print publisher and hope somebody somewhere picked up the book in a store. Only a select few authors managed an international readership.

Now, anybody anywhere in the world can log onto this blog or check out my fanfic page or download a copy of The Blacksmith's Daughter. And if you are one of those people reading, please oh please let me know! Comment here! Review on my fanfic page! Review The Blacksmith's Daughter on Amazon or Goodreads, etc!

When I sit here in my living room, scraping together every second of my spare time to work on my various works in progress, it sometimes feels like I'm working in a vacuum. Sometimes I want to throw up my hands and despair that I'll ever truly reach my audience.

Thank goodness for fanfiction traffic stats. I know my readers are out there--literally around the world. And I hope to reach every one of them with my original works too. So if you are reading, thank you. That's the only reason I keep writing.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Great S. G. Rogers: An Interview

Hey, Suzanne, I’m glad you stopped by my blog to answer a few questions!  First maybe I should reveal how we met.  We’d both sold books to the same publisher and were in a chat room, promoting ourselves to readers.  We ended up promoting ourselves to each other and buying each other’s books!

I remember that, Arley!  That was a lot of fun, actually. I loved the cover and blurb for The Blacksmith’s Daughter. I really enjoyed your book, and I can’t wait for the sequel.  Neither can my thirteen-year-old son, who glued himself to my Kindle and read it in one sitting.

Thanks!  So I’m dying to know…what’s your latest release?

The Magical Misperception of Meridian is coming out on February 17, from MuseItUp Publishing.  It’s a fantasy novelette in which a beautiful commoner and a stammering prince form a magical friendship that can survive almost anything—except the queen’s disapproval.

Ooh, that sounds cool.  What’s the elevator pitch?

Great Expectations meets The King’s Speech maybe. I never actually saw The King’s Speech, but I understand Colin Firth stammers in it.  I guess that’s close enough! 

Magical Misperception sounds a lot different from The Last Great Wizard of Yden.

It’s a romantic fantasy for one thing, and a far shorter story. Also, I usually write characters who are wizards or magical in some way.  In Magical Misperception, the only thing magical about Jona and Lee is their friendship.
Does that mean there’s no magic in the story? I will miss that if there's no magic!

Not at all!  The Wizard Farland pops in and out to provide plenty of magic.  Although he’s one of the secondary characters, the old goat is one of my favorites.

Have you got anything else on the burner at the moment?

I have another romantic fantasy coming out on Leap Day, from The Wild Rose Press.  In Clash of Wills, when an unconventional princess meets a footloose prince, a battle of wits begins.

Awesome! And didn’t you just release another romantic fantasy?  How did you manage to get them all published in February?

Yes, Minna & The Valentine came out February 1st.  I wrote Minna specifically for a February release, but I had no control over the release dates on the other two.  I guess it’s sort of like traffic—sometimes it bunches up for no apparent reason.

Thanks for the interview, Suzanne!  Where can we find you?

My blog is at  There’s a Twitter link there, as well as one to my author page on Facebook.  Thanks, Arley, for having me on to your blog! It’s always so much fun talking with you.

Same here, Suzanne!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I Love Musa Books!

Welcome to my stop on the I Love Musa Books Blog Hop! I am so glad you stopped by!

Since coming on board with Musa Publishing last fall, I have had a chance to read some excellent books coming out under their banner. What impresses me most about Musa is the commitment to quality writing that the editors have established. In this brave new world of e-publishing, anybody can put a book out and sell it online. But Musa has set a goal to become the brand that readers can come back to time and again for great fiction in a wide variety of genres---and I've read several books in several genres! So here we go!!!!

First of all, let me recommend to you The Lost Heir of Devonshire by Grace Gibson! In a blog post, Grace admitted that part of her inspiration for her wonderful hero, Robert, Marquis of Denley, was Robert Plant as a young, blonde, sexy jaded rockstar who'd seen it all and done it all. Robert is just that kind of guy, already cynical at a very young age. But when he meets Miss Mary Fanley, his world gets turned upside down in a very wonderful way.

Musa Publishing's Aurora Regency line still publishes those classic Regencies full of wit and memorable characters like Robert and Mary. I adore a good Regency (Georgette Heyer junkie!) and have not been disappointed by any of the books that have come out of this imprint. By all means, go here for great books!!

But maybe romance isn't so much on your list. In that case, let me recommend the Melpomene line and Martin Bodenham's The Geneva Connection. I don't know how many times I talked back to this book! This financial thriller follows the incredible tale of investment banker John Kent as he tries to save his firm from bankruptcy by making one of those deals that indeed was too good to be true. His new partners, he discovers to his shock and horror, are fronting a violent drug cartel. Before he knows it, he is neck deep in all kinds of trouble with no way out he can see.

But John Kent isn't the only man with issues. The CIA intelligence operative who is trying to stop the cartel is also neck deep in trouble of his own. I promise you, I was on the edge of my seat the entire book and finished it feeling like I'd been watching an intense thriller movie---car chases and everything.

I don't know how Martin made the world of investment banking so exciting, but somehow he did! This is a top pick of mine!!

Finally let me give a shout out to a fellow Euterpe imprint YA author, Linda Benson for her book The Girl Who Remembered Horses. This book was described to me as a "beautiful story" and I cannot agree more. I was hooked on Sahara and her tale from the beginning. Linda shows us a post-Apocalyptic world where the few remaining people scavenge the desert wilderness of the ruins of the modern world for anything of value to trade with other clans. But Sahara has dreams of riding horses, dreams that the rest of her people think are nonsense. Horses are wild animal like deer, in their opinion. No one could ride one.

As Sahara tries to reconcile her growing passion for these beautiful and mysterious animals with her growing interest in knowledge of the old days and with her expanding role as a young woman in her community, I found myself cheering and worrying along with her. So many dystopian and post-Apocalyptic books these days are so dark and foboding. This book is full of hope! I loved it and do not hesitate to recommend it to anybody!!!

In brand new release YA Euterpe territory, we also have Dusty Crabtree's book Shadow Eyes. I have heard great things about it. The premise sounds very enticing and I've got to get me a copy now!!

Another YA new release is a book many reviewers are calling seriously "goosebumpy"! It's The Detention Demon  by Samantha Combs which asks the question all kids want to ask: Is my teacher really human or something that crawled up from the bowels of hell? Oh, please, go check this one too!

Also, let me give a shout out to S. G. Rogers and her upcoming Musa novel The Druid: An Asgard Adventure. Here's her teaser for you until the release April 20th!!!

There is mischief afoot in Asgard, but Odin is not there to stop it. A powerful immortal bent on revenge devises a plot that accidentally ensnares a mortal on Earth. It’s a good thing Dani Avery enjoys fantasy and fairy tales because she’s about to find out the truth behind the legends. Norse mythology gets a modern twist in The Druid, the story of an ordinary mortal who meets a hero from the pages of a book–bigger than life and twice as Elvish.

I love everything I've read by S. G. Rogers and can't wait for this one! Plus, she's got an upcoming interview here in a few days, so keep tuned in!!


In fact, to win a FREE copy of my novel The Blacksmith's Daughter , out now at Musa, please follow my blog and leave a comment with your email address that you did so. At the risk of sounding greedy, I would really love it if you also friended me on facebook at and followed me on Twitter as @arleycole. I swear to follow you back.

Here's a little bit of promo for mine too!

She believes she is only a blacksmith's daughter, but he must discover the truth or risk losing his land---and his life.

Acwellen Lex'Magen rules as liege lord of a small country bounded by forbidding mountains and powerful neighbors. When the neighboring baron, allied with a powerful wizard, attempts to take over his land, first by political, then by covert means, Acwellen finds an ally of his own in Enith Roweson, an unassuming blacksmith who possesses powers he's only known of in legends. As he attempts to unravel both the plots against him----including the nature of the monsters sent to assassinate him----and the mysterious powers Enith is only beginning to understand she has, he also finds himself falling in love with the blacksmith's daughter.

Musa Publishing has something for everyone! So go there now and start reading!

Thanks for dropping by!

To go back to the Linky List go HERE!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Snoopy, Come Home -- Please!!

The other day I was working on a piece -- okay, okay, it was my Lost fanfic Grace Period -- and one of my characters -- okay, okay, it was Sawyer -- was having a childhood flashback that involved Snoopy and it came back to me in my own flashback just how much I LOVED Snoopy when I was a kid.

When I was an elementary school child, I won a plastic Snoopy wallhanging by selling magazines or something in school. That piece of modern art hung on my wall until I left home whereupon it went missing in my mother's storage building. But writing that piece made me remember my Snoopy and how much I loved that thing. So I went on a search for it.

Snoopy was my childhood hero. I didn't just think he was cute or funny. I wanted to be Snoopy -- not the whole sleeping on top of a doghouse thing -- I wanted to be that incredibly inventive individual who was writing the Great American Novel, It Was a Dark and Stormy Night. I wanted to have the kind of imagination that enabled him to be the World War I flying ace shot down behind enemy lines one moment and a vulture in a tree the next.

Snoopy was whoever and whatever he wanted to be whenever he wanted to be it. He wasn't just a dog on a house. He was Joe Cool. He was on a quest to find his brother Spike in the desert Southwest. He was unstoppable. But he was also Charlie Brown's loyal beagle.

I never found my Snoopy wallhanging. That bummed me out because I had a sudden vision of it hanging on my wall in the nursing home somewhere around 2042. I figured I'd hang it in my closet safe until then.

So I got on ebay and found a new one -- well, actually two, so I have a backup.

When it arrives in a few days, I'm going to open it and hold it in my hands and remember. I fully expect to burst into hysterical tears. I wanted to be Snoopy, a writer, an inventor of outlandish tales. Man, I still do! I still want to be that! Maybe The Blacksmith's Daughter isn't the Great American Novel, but it is longer than It Was a Dark and Stormy Night and contains all kinds of wild creatures and magic. And a real publisher has published it so you can buy it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble and Smashwords and such. So that makes me a writer too.

And you know, just like Snoopy, I'm still rocking my day job. Maybe I don't sleep on a house all day, but I too have my mundane life. Snoopy didn't resent his job as Charlie Brown's beagle and I shouldn't resent mine either even thought it cuts dramatically into my creative writing time.

So, Snoopy, when you get here, I'm going to pull you out of your packing, cry hysterically, and probably hang you on my bedroom wall. You won't match, but I won't care. As long as I remember my hero, I'll be able to keep the creative fires burning.

Finally, here's a big "Curse you, Red Baron!" from me to all you other Snoopy lovers out there. Keep the fires burning!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

My Interview with Jeanne Bannon

Everyone please welcome my first guest, Jeanne Bannon!!! I feel like David Letterman! Jeanne's new book Invisible is just out and the first chapter sounds wonderful.

Hello Jeanne. Your latest release is called Invisible. Where does the inspiration for this story come from?
Hi! The inspiration for Invisible came from two sources. My 8 year old daughter hated swimming lessons and one Sunday afternoon while watching her, I had the thought that I bet she wishes she were invisible ... and that how the plot for Invisible was born. The second source came from my own life. There was a time when I was bullied. I remember thinking that if I could just vanish - be a fly on the wall, then I’d be happy.

What was the hardest part of writing the story?
On the whole, writing Invisible was not really hard. I wrote it in four months and that included a few rewrites. That said, there were a few scenes I cried over. But it was in a good way. It was very cathartic.

Can you tell us about your research process?

There was not much research needed to write Invisible. It’s a story about a teenage girl who’s bullied and finds solace in her relationship with her grandmother and best friend. Most of it came from my imagination with a bit of my own life sprinkled in.
Do you feel that you grow more as an author with each book that you write?

Yes. As a matter of fact, there are times when I contemplate rewriting Invisible just one more time because I’ve grown so much as a writer since it’s been published. I don’t there will be a time when I stop growing as a writer.

To date, which of your own works is your favourite and why?
I love Invisible because the story is so close to my heart. The novel I’m working on now, Dark Angel, is pure fantasy and although I love the intricate plot, I don’t feel as close emotionally to the characters as I do to those in Invisible.

Do you have any hobbies away from writing that you would like to tell us about today?
I used to make jewelry. I loved using Swarovski crystal and sterling silver to make beautiful bracelets and necklaces but with all the promotion for Invisible and trying to finish Dark Angel, I don’t have time for jewelry making anymore.

Thank you for joining us today, Jeanne!!
It was entirely my pleasure!


 Excerpt from Invisible
Chapter One
“Lola, get your suit on and help supervise the pool. The more eyes the better,” Justine, the athletic, sun-kissed, twenty-one-year-old camp director orders once we’re off the bus.

Immediately my heart takes off in a sprint. “What? Why?” I try to hide the wobble in my voice.
Curious, expectant gazes turn to me as my fellow counselors wait with evil half-smiles for my reaction. Although I haven’t told a soul, except my best friend Charlie how I feel about wearing a bathing suit, they know my private horror. It’s the horror of every fat girl.

Justine flips through the sheets on her clip board, running a finger down the column of names. “No campers will be sitting out today.”

The impossible has just happened. Not one kid is sick, or has left their bathing suit at home. In my three summers as a counselor, not once has this happened.

For a long, awkward moment, I stand frozen in place wondering how to get out of this. A sudden migraine? My period? My mouth opens, but no words come. Justine leaves and with her, my chance for escape. I’m left teary-eyed, searching through my bag for my black one-piece. Stuffing away the panic, I march past the onlookers, who I’d never consider my friends despite working with them the entire summer. In the change room, I find an empty stall and with great reluctance, pull on my suit.

It’s my last day of work as a camp counselor at Inglewood Day Camp. My group of kids consists of eight six-year olds — four boys and four girls. On Thursdays we take the campers to the local outdoor swimming pool. It’s a short ride, only five minutes on the creaky old school bus and my job is to watch the kids who won’t be swimming, either because they don’t feel well, or they’ve forgotten their swimsuits. Believe me, this job suits me just fine, as a matter of fact, I volunteered for it.

Not only am I fat, I’m freakishly tall. God only knows why, since Mom’s petite and Dad’s on the short side. My older sister, Eva is the spitting image of Mom, fair and fine boned. I take after Dad’s side, bulky, dark and thick. Dad says I must have gotten some of Uncle Sammy’s genes, the giant of the family, who tops out at 6’ 4”. Anyway, I’m sure you’re getting a good mental picture right about now.

My insides drop as if I’d placed a foot on a step that wasn’t there when I peer down at the coarse dark hair creeping from my calves to just past my knees, where it gradually peters out. Then I run a hand across the tops of my thighs. The triple bulge of my belly prevents me from a good look at my sorely neglected bikini area. Even in the blazing August sun I wear baggy cotton Capri pants, never exposing more than an ankle. There’s never been a reason to shave. My eyes mist with tears, but I pinch them away. It’ll be hard enough to go out in public like this, but I won’t give them the satisfaction of seeing me cry. I lift my chin in resolve and open the door.

The whistle blows, signaling the beginning of the session. Screams of delight fill the air, as the kids begin jumping into the pool to find relief from the 90-degree heat.

I fasten a towel around my waist as best I can. Towels never seem large enough to wrap completely and comfortably around the bulge of my belly. To the pool I go, treading silently so as not to draw attention.

“Where’s Lola?” Sonia, a fellow counselor, asks.

At first I think she’s joking because I’m right in front of her. I toss her an annoyed look and don’t bother to answer as I trudge past to the edge of the pool, where I pull off my towel and slip into the cool water.

“She’s probably taken off,” Jerod replies. He’s a year younger than I am, but looks older with his muscular build and chiseled jaw line. The girls love him. “I hope she doesn’t show,” he continues, “who wants to see a hippo in a bathing suit anyway?”

Sonia laughs, a little too hard and places a hand on Jerod’s shoulder.

Puzzlement and anger compete on my face. I’m standing not more than three feet away from them. I’m used to rude comments and know what everyone thinks of me, but this is way beyond mean. The tears standing in my eyes spill down my cheeks and I slip under the water, hoping to wash away the evidence of my pain. Not that anyone would care, but crying could give them more ammunition; just another reason to taunt me.

Kids bounce around me, laughing and playing. Justine stands like a sentinel, looking like a Bay Watch babe in her red suit, one hand gripping an emergency flotation device. Her steel blue eyes are focused on the activity in the pool.

Jerod jumps in, nearly landing on my back. I barely have time to leap out of the way. My anger boils; blood rushes to my temples and pounds there, giving me an instant headache. I hurl myself at him, pushing with all my might, elbows aimed at his chest. I hit nothing but air and fly into the rough concrete wall of the pool, scraping a hole in my one-piece and rubbing raw a patch of skin. Blood pin-pricks to the surface.

“Hey,” I scream, bewildered about how he’d maneuvred out of the way so fast.

Jerod slips under the water and emerges at the other end of the pool in one long, slick glide.

The steel in me comes up, anger replacing humiliation. I pull my bulk out of the water and march over to Justine.

“Did you see what that asshole just did?” I bellow.

Justine brings the whistle that hangs from her neck to her lips and blows two sharp blasts, making my ears ring. “Stop horsing around,” she calls to a group of boys, who offer sheepish grins and stop instantly.

I step forward so she can see me. “Justine?” I reach to touch her shoulder but impossibly, my hand falls through her.

“Justine?” I call again, louder, my voice panic-laced. With both hands, I grab her, or try to. Again, it’s as if she’s not there. My mind is swept along in a current of anxiety. What’s happening?

Then it hits me . . . it’s me who’s not there.
All About Jeanne Bannon
       I’ve worked in the publishing industry for over twenty years. I started my career as a freelance journalist, then worked as an in-house editor for LexisNexis Canada and currently work as a freelance editor and writer. I’ve had several short stories published and won first place in the Writes of Caledon Short Story Contest. My novels, The Barely Boy and Dark Angel were finalists in the 2010 and 2011 Strongest Start Contests. One of my short stories “Thom’s Journey” is part of an Anthology entitled A Visitor to Sandahl and is available at
Invisible, my debut novel, is about a teenage girl who isn’t happy with herself and wishes she could disappear. And one day she does. Invisible is available on Amazon, Smashwords, and the Solstice Publishing website.
When not reading or writing, I enjoy being with my daughters, Nina and Sara and my husband, David. I’m also the proud mother of two fur babies, a sweet Miniature Schnauzer named Emily and Spencer, a rambunctious tabby, who can be a very bad boy.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


I am up to no good yet again. I swear I have lost my mind. Right this moment I have TWO works in progress. This is so not good.

I am about 27000 words into a Lost fanfiction called Grace Period, which I stopped writing in order to get about 27000 words into my new paranormal romance WIP, Golden Coil. But the funny thing is, the writing is going pretty darned good on them both. And they are WAAAAAY different.

I am the type that is so one-track minded I don't read when I write, much less write two things at the same time. Now I'm rocking this split-personality writer thing. I've even got different pennames for each--Arcole for the fanfiction at and Leigh Daley for the paranormal stuff. And The Merchant's Son as Arley Cole is always cooking in yet another crockpot in my brain.

Oh, well, there's a first time for everything. I'll either turn out two books or lose my mind.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Things I Don't Give a Rat's Butt About

I am super glad the world is such a diverse place with such diverse people in it. But on a day like today when I feel like I've been stretched out like pantyhose a size too small, I come to realize there are things in this world I just am not interested in.

Football, for instance. The rest of my bunch is happily tuned into the Cotton Bowl, but I have my headphones plugged in and am writing blog posts and working on my ill-considered WIP (yep, Lost fanfiction - but I swear I'm doing the mental work on my other stuff at the same time). Monday (I think) is the National Championship and everything will stop here in Alabama as the Tide plays LSU. I love my people and will support them with fried catfish as they watch, but I swear I don't give a rat's butt about the game.

I have also found that I do not give a rat's butt about most of the stories that pass for news nowadays. I worked for a newspaper for a while and discovered that very little real news happens. Truly most of what's reported is gossip. Real news of important events that will shape the economic and social future of the world isn't nearly as juicy as who's got a baby bump or who's been arrested for drunk driving, so these stories just don't get as much airplay. Consequently, coverage of an important trade summit will take a back seat to some story about Celebrity X trading in her old mansion for a new mansion. I just don't give a rat's butt where Lady Gaga lives (as long as she doesn't move in next door).

Finally, I am having trouble caring about dinner. What's for dinner? is the clarion call of the nation starting about 5:30, but I am just not in the mood to cook these days. Sometimes I get all enthused about trying a new dish, but right now if it doesn't try to eat me, I am happy. Tonight's football meal was purchased at the local fish and steak house because I don't give a rat's butt about cooking dinner. If Lady Gaga is coming over for a meet-the-neighbors party, she can have fried catfish from the Front Porch Restaurant along with the rest of us.

What I do care about is that my folks are all happily watching a football game with their bellies full of fried catfish (that I didn't have to cook) and that none of them are pregnant or driving drunk or Lady Gaga. That's worth a whole bunch of rat's butts.