Thursday, August 29, 2013

All The Way

By Billie Sue Mosiman

Unlike some professions, writing is for a lifetime. Unless an author has brain impairment or disease, she can write until the very last day. If you're a doctor or a fireman, a politician or a park ranger, there are going to be finite years for employment. It's rare even a doctor might work into his seventies or eighties, but a writer certainly can.

What this has to do for your future as a writer is that you should think of it as a lifetime pursuit and not one where if you don't make it for a while, it's all over. If your memory and creativity remains, so can the writing. Young writers are all in a rush to “make it.” I know I was. It's an occupational hazard.

I remember it took eight years of submissions and three agents before I sold my first novel. I thought at the time it was forever. It really wasn't. I had a whole lifetime ahead of me to do my work and eight years of practice and learning was really nothing. It wasn't any more time than it takes to become any other professional. Once I got rolling, I was on a rocket ride.

Once your work is accredited and verified as being publishable, nothing can really stop you but yourself. If you grow lazy or slow, if you over reach and fail, or if you become a prima donna people don't like to work with, then you're sabotaging your own career. Yet if you see the road ahead as a long string of years, you can see what you must do is work hard and grow.

I've seen young novelists burst on the scene and flame out. I've seen young writers grow so bitter and evil, it filters into their work and makes it too ugly to be readable. I've seen young authors overvalue their accomplishments and walk around as if the world belongs to them, only to be brought to earth with a few hard knocks. 

As a working writer who has been publishing for thirty years my advice looking back is to think of this as not just a job, not just a hobby, but a way of life. A life involved with the imagination and creation. Whether that works out as well as you think really isn't the point. If you're giving it all you've got, you're not in a crazy rush where you put out unremarkable work, and you realize you've signed on for the long haul—all the way to the end—then the joy of being writer, even into old age, can reward you in ways no other profession on earth can compare.

Billie Sue Mosiman Bio:
Billie Sue is an Edgar and Stoker Nominated author of  more than 50 e-books. She’s had 13 novels published with New York major publishers and recently published BANISHED. Her book of short stories is releasing soon in 2013, SINISTER-Tales of Dread, and her new suspense novel, THE GREY MATTER, to follow.

Billie Sue is the author of at least 150 published short stories that were in various magazines and anthologies. Her latest stories will be in BETTER WEIRD edited by Paul F. Olson from Cemetery Dance, a tribute anthology to David Silva, a story in the anthology ALLEGORIES OF THE TAROT edited by Annetta Ribken, and another story in William Cook’s FRESH FEAR. She’s an active member of Horror Writers Association and International Thriller Writers.

Connect with Billie Sue:
Blog: The Life of a Peculiar Writer

Twitter: @billiemosiman

Amazon page.

You can find all of Billie’s works on Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, or Kobo.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Finding My Way Home

By Maegan Beaumont

I grew up reading books that caused dubious glances and concerned frowns to dance across the face of any adult who made the mistake of asking me, “So, what are you reading?”

What I was reading was whatever I wanted to. And usually whatever I wanted to was considered wildly inappropriate for a “girl my age”… or even a girl in general.

In grade school I was enthralled by Lloyd Alexander’s The Book of Three and Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown. In these books I caught my first glimpse of something that I needed very much—female characters who were like me. Bookish and a bit brazen. Awkward but unflinching in their resolve to be themselves. I still love these books. I own then and will push them on my kids every chance I get. 

I had my brief fling with romance novels in junior high… Dusty cowboys and roguish pirates, rescuing damsels and marrying women they won in card games. I like to joke that everything I know about sex, I learned from Danielle Steele novels. Reading Family Album in the 5th grade changed my life… it also made me the girl no one was allowed to invite over for dinner. 

In high school, I peppered my required-but-very-much-enjoyed readings of Shakespeare and Hawthorne, Dostoyevsky and Dickens with as much Stephen King and Thomas Harris as I possibly could… and it was in books such as Harris’ Red Dragon and King’s The Dark Half where I finally found my literary home.

In thrillers, I felt a click. They made sense to me like nothing I had ever read, before or since. There were no cowboys. No dragons (unless you count the one tattooed on a serial killer’s back…). No pirates. No magical swords. These were not stories of love and redemption or good versus evil in any obvious sense, but in them I found a fundamental truth I’ve never found in any other genre of book. 

We all harbor darkness. 

A good thriller not only shows us this darkness, it entices us to invite it in. Gives us characters we not only relate to, but shakes us to the bone with their disturbing sameness to ourselves. A good thriller will show us what we are made of. Put us in situations that force us to poke at our own secret wounds, to test our own battered moorings. Situations that we can’t help but use to measure what we hope ourselves to be against what we truly are. A good thriller will force us to question how far we’re willing to go to protect ourselves and the ones we love. How close to that darkness we are willing to tread in order to survive…

And if the thriller is great… we don’t always like the answers we come up with.

MaeganBeaumont is the author of CARVED IN DARKNESS, the first book in the Sabrina Vaughn series (Available through Midnight Ink). A native Phoenician, Maegan’s stories are meant to make you wonder what the guy standing in front of you in the Starbucks line has locked in his basement, and feel a strong desire to sleep with the light on. When she isn’t busy fulfilling her duties as Domestic Goddess for her high school sweetheart turned husband, Joe, and their four children, she is locked in her office with her computer, her coffee pot and her Rhodesian Ridgeback, and one true love, Jade.

Fifteen years ago, a psychotic killer abducted seventeen-year-old Melissa Walker. For 83 days she was raped, tortured, and then left for dead in a deserted churchyard . . . but she was still alive.

Melissa begins a new life as homicide inspector Sabrina Vaughn. With a new face and a new name, it’s her job to hunt down murderers—a job she does very well. But when Michael O’Shea, a childhood acquaintance with a suspicious past, suddenly
finds her, he brings to life the nightmare Sabrina has long since buried.

Believing his sister was recently murdered by the same monster who attacked Sabrina, Michael is dead set on getting his revenge—using Sabrina as bait. 

Praise for Carved in Darkness 
"Prepare to be overwhelmed by the the tension and moodiness that permeates this edgy thriller. Beaumont's ability to keep the twists coming, even when the answers seem obvious is quite potent."
- Library Journal (starred review / Debut of the Month) 

"Carved in Darkness is a roller coaster ride of emotion with scary villains and realistic characters. Beaumont draws you into her words and doesn't let you go until the very last page."  
- RT Book Reviews

Thursday, August 15, 2013

She’s Your Agent, Not Your Mother

By Dennis Palumbo

There's an old joke about the relationship between writers and their agents: a veteran writer comes home to find police and fire trucks crowding the street, surrounding the smoking remains of his house. 

Stricken, he asks the officer in charge what happened. The cop shakes his head and says, "Well, it looks like your agent came to your house, murdered your entire family, took all your valuables, then burned the place to the ground."

To which the writer responds, with an astonished smile, "My agent came to my house?"

A telling joke. As a published author myself, as well as a psychotherapist who works with creative people, I'm very familiar with the complicated, confusing and sometimes combative connection between writers and their agents.  Yet what makes that relationship so difficult often has nothing to do with the agent, and everything to do with the writer.

Like it or not, here are three sobering facts:

First, your agent is not your parent. It's not the agent's job to encourage, support or validate your creative ambitions, insofar as they reflect your inner need to be loved and cherished. Such needs were your birthright, and, hopefully, were given to you in your childhood. If, however, they were not, it's not your agent's job to pick up the slack.

Second, your agent is in business to make money. This is not a crime against humanity, an affront to the arts, nor a personal repudiation of your aesthetic dreams. It's just a fact.

And, lastly, while your agent may indeed admire your talent, and share with you lofty creative and financial goals, he or she is not obligated to care about them as much as you do. In fact, no one cares about your career as much as you do. Which means the burden of worrying about your artistic aspirations, income, reputation in the field, and level of personal and professional satisfaction rests entirely on your shoulders.

It’s important to remember these facts. Otherwise, a writer can come to expect too much from an agent in terms of esteem-building, validation and empathy. Which means that every unreturned phone call, every less-than-ecstatic response to a new piece of work or proposed project, every real or imagined shift in vocal tonality during a conversation is experienced by the writer as an injury to his or her self-worth. 

The wise writer understands this, if only theoretically, and should at least strive to keep his or her relationship with an agent in context. Hopefully it will lessen the blows, whatever they are and whenever they come.

Otherwise, what you’re seeking is not an agent but an approving parent. And, hell, I ought to know. I’ve done it myself. And still do, on occasion.  So, despite what I’ve just said, when you find yourself feeling the same way, give yourself a break. Take a breath, mentally re-group, and get back to writing.   

In the end, nothing---and no one---is more validating.   

About Dennis: 

Formerly a Hollywood screenwriter (My Favorite Year; Welcome Back, Kotter, etc.), DENNIS PALUMBO is now a licensed psychotherapist and author of the Daniel Rinaldi mysteries, the latest of which is Night Terrors (Poisoned Pen Press). 

Visit Dennis at

The latest Rinaldi book:

In NIGHT TERRORS, the latest in the acclaimed Daniel Rinaldi mystery series, the Pittsburgh psychologist is asked by the FBI to treat one of their recently-retired profilers. 

After a 20-year career inside the minds of the most infamous serial killers, Agent Lyle Barnes can no longer sleep through the night. Not only is he tormented by horrifying nocturnal images, he's also the target of an unknown assassin who’s already killed three others on a seemingly-random hit-list.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Say Goodbye to The Old Dream

By Robert Gregory Browne

Your book is going to be a bestseller.

You just know it is.

Before long you’ll be invited to appear on The Daily Show or David Letterman or, at the very least, get a chance to yuk it up in the wee hours with Craig Ferguson, where you’ll tell witty stories about how your novel developed from the germ of an idea to the work of genius it is today.

Oh, and signings. You’ll have readers queuing up for blocks, waiting to meet you and get their personalized message on their copy of your book.

The next logical step, of course, is a sale to the movies or television, and people will be arguing over whether or not Tom Cruise is the right guy to play the lead. And after all of this, your publisher will have no choice but to give you a seven figure advance for your next two—

Okay, enough already.

You get it.

Whether we admit it or not, this—or some variation of it—is what we’re all hoping for when we get that first traditional publishing deal, and some of us actually manage to live that dream. Not many, mind you, but there are always exceptions to the rule. Take a quick glance at the New York Times bestseller list and you’ll see a few.

But at the risk of offering you a bit of unsolicited tough love, the reality of being a published author is that the rewards are far less grand and a lot more personal than what we’ve been led to believe. The cold truth is that making a living at writing books is extremely tough, and for most of us it’s a hard and sometimes treacherous slog up a very steep and unforgiving hill.

So if you got into this profession for any other reason than the love of telling stories, the need to create characters and build worlds and develop plots that engage your readers, you’re in for a rude awakening. Because the biggest reward of writing books is a sense of personal satisfaction. Those small moments—like the rush of excitement when you know you’ve nailed a scene, or that email from a reader telling you she couldn’t sleep until she finished your book, or basking in the glow of a particularly good review…

Cherish these moments, because they are sometimes all you have to sustain you in a career that will most certainly have its highs and lows. Cherish the fact that you have done something that many people attempt but few actually achieve, then put your butt back in that chair and keep your head down and write the next book and the next one and the next one. And maybe one day you will hit the bestseller list or get that movie deal.

But even if you don’t, know that with the recent dramatic changes in the world of publishing, you actually can make a good living writing books. Right now is the best time in recent memory to be a novelist. A time when authors are finally taking control of their work and seeing financial and emotional rewards that were once quite rare in this business.

So say goodbye to the old dream and embrace the new reality.

Robert Gregory Browne is an ITW Thriller Award nominee and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling legal thriller, Trial Junkies.  His first novel, Kiss Her Goodbye, was developed and filmed as a pilot for a CBS television series starring Dylan Walsh. Rob has written several acclaimed thrillers and his most recent book is the just released Trial Junkies 2: Negligence.
Rob grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii, but now lives in Southern California with his wife, dog, two cats and seven guitars.

Trial Junkies 2: Negligence
She was found with a bullet in her head, and the kid she was last seen with woke up drugged and disoriented in a neighbor's back yard. Now the kid is awaiting trial for her murder, and crime reporter Matt Isaacs is convinced that there's more here than meets the eye. But Matt's old college pal, Ethan "Hutch" Hutchinson—washed-up actor and newly-minted trial junkie—isn't so sure, until a violent attack propels Hutch and his friends into the middle of a conspiracy that takes them all the way from the courthouse gallery to the not so hallowed halls of an exclusive Chicago prep school... straight into the hands of a killer.