Friday, June 29, 2012

My Publishing Story

This weekend, many of the authors at Musa Publishing are blogging about their publishing experiences. I thought I would share a little of my story about how I ended up there.

When I first wrote Nightfire, I had absolutely zero knowledge of the publishing industry. Everything I knew was based on what I had seen in movies (feel free to laugh here.) I thought I’d just print it off and mail it somewhere. I didn’t even know literary agents existed. Publishing was this huge, strange foreign world.

I wanted to do something with the book I worked so hard on, so I started researching things. Google became my new best friend. I learned about agents and query letters and all the different types of publishing. (I’m still learning new things about it every day.)

With a tiny little bit of knowledge, I started querying agents. I sent out less than ten letters. All were rejections, though one agent was nice enough to write out a long, personal explanation. Pretty soon, agents started to seem a little less thrilling to me.

So I started looking for places that took submissions without agents. To my surprise, there were options available. Even some big house imprints will look at unagented submissions, but the waiting times are unreal. I just didn’t want to wait two years for a tiny chance at a contract. Which meant, for me, small publishers were a great option.

I had just started looking into them when I stumbled on a thread about Musa Publishing. When I saw it, I got a kind-of gut feeling about it. I really wanted to submit there and I couldn’t really explain why.

Musa posts their contract on the site so anyone can read it. I went over it carefully and liked what I saw. The royalty rates were higher than anything I’d heard of and there were clauses built in designed to protect the authors.

I also liked how the director interacted with writers online. It was clear to me that she actually cared about other people and wanted the best for authors.

So, with a good feeling and a lot of hope, I sent off my query letter. I couldn’t believe it when I got a request for the full manuscript the next day. Three weeks later, there was a contract in my email box. (Which is lightening speed in the publishing world.)

Now I’ve been through the full process with Musa and couldn’t be happier. My editor was great to work with, I love how much input I got on cover art, and Musa has all kinds of amazing programs going for their authors. There are classes, promotional opportunities, and lots of other helpful authors available through the network they’ve built.

Musa has worked hard at building not just a publishing house, but a family. I’m so privileged to be a part of it.

If you want to know more about Musa Publishing, here’s a link to their story.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Nightfire Print Proof

Yesterday I got to see photos of a print proof of Nightfire, as well as photos of other print books from my publisher. One thing I really like about Musa is how transparent they are with their authors. They share what's happening every step of the way. Here are the photos in case you want to see them. Hopefully I'll have some print copies to give away in a few weeks.

Limited edition print proof of Nightfire!

All the print proofs hanging out together!

Look at all the pretty books!
Back covers!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another Chance to Win

I have another (yes another!) contest running for a free digital copy of Nightfire over at Authors Promoting Authors. If you want a chance to win hop over-all you have to do is leave a comment.

Nightfire giveaway

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Chance to Win an Ecopy of Nightfire

I'm over at Bitten by Paranormal Romance today. Stop by and leave a comment for a chance to win a free digital copy of Nightfire!

Giveaway link

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Few Random Things

Someone mentioned to me that I don’t talk much about myself on mu blog (which is true, I don’t really like talking about myself) and that I should share more personal stuff. So today I’m sharing some random facts about myself so you can get to know me better.

Here are 10 random facts about me (in no particular order.)

1.I love animals. I have two cats and a ferret (see pics below.) I would love to have a farm with lots and lots of animals.

2. My favorite color is blue. I’m kind of obsessive about it, really.
3. I work for a pharmacy that works just with long term care facilities (basically nursing homes.) It’s not what I consider a ‘real’ job but it’s better than being unemployed.
4. I’m incredibly clumsy. My friends and family are pretty much accustomed to seeing me in braces, casts, on crutches etc….

5. I love to dance. I’ve taken a fair share of classes over the years but ballet is my favorite. I really want to write a horror story set in a ballet studio. It’s on my to-do list, once I get all the other projects on my plate handled.
6. I get really, really excited over small things sometimes. If a song I like comes on the radio, or I find a food a like, I usually squeal with delight. Once me and a friend got super excited over a TV show and yelled so loud that a stranger asked us if everything was okay.
7. I’m terrible at sports. It’s actually a little embarrassing.
8. I’m really shy around new people and can be pretty quiet.
9. I’m kind of into cars, although I don’t often admit it.
10. I’m a hopeless romantic. I sometimes wish I was more practical but that would be way less fun.

Now that you know a little more about me, why don’t you all share some random facts about yourselves?

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nightfire Announcement!

Sometime in the next few weeks, I'm going to be getting some promotional print copies of Nightfire! Which means I'll probably be giving away a copy or two on here (and maybe on Goodreads.) I may even sign them.

These are limited edition copies and not available in bookstores. So please keep an eye out for a contest in the near future. I'm really excited to get to see Nightfire in print and to get to share it with more people!

Monday, June 11, 2012

Author Spotlight: Paul Stansfield

Today I have a guest post by author Paul Stansfield. Paul is the author of Dead Reckoning. You can find out more about Paul at his blog Please give him a warm welcome!


     Whether you’re old at heart like me, and go into the reference section of the library every year to check the latest edition of “The Writer’s Market,” or whether you’re a normal person and find sources online, an important part of the writing process is figuring out appropriate places to submit your work.  Which means you have to look at a magazine’s or publisher’s submission guidelines.  I’d say at least 90% of the time the guidelines are detailed enough and fine; everybody wins.  You don’t end up submitting your Satanic erotica to “Highlights For Children,” or your vegan recipes to “Soldier of Fortune.”

     Occasionally though, over the many years I’ve been checking guidelines, I’ve found a few that stood out, because they were, I thought, too limiting, weird, not helpful, or simple funny.  Therefore, I’d like to list some of these, and then (gently) mock them.  Bear in mind that I write mostly horror/dark fantasy/suspense/erotica, so most of the magazines/publishers printed these types of material.


1)      “No discrimination against race, age, or gender.”  From a magazine that publishes horror, sci-fi, and fantasy.  I get that some magazine’s readership include children.  Also, there’s several kinds of horror, from 19th century-set ghost stories, to H.P. Lovecraft style, barely seen, mostly suggested terrors, to late 20th century splatterpunk and torture porn, and all things in between.  And I can see that the magazine doesn’t want, say, Aryan skinhead manifestos, or the like.  But seriously, no discrimination against race, gender and age?!  So your vampire can kill people, but she can’t deny a person employment because they’re over 60?

2)       Along the same lines, the general guidelines of horror magazines/publishers, sometimes listed as being “edgy,” and “terrifying,” horror, that say no to any graphic language, violence, sex, or gore.  Kind of like the previous one, I understand that not every story has to be “R” rated, or even “PG,” but come on!  No gratuitous profanity, sex, violence, etc., seems like a reasonable request, but having absolutely none of these elements ever must leave some awfully watered-down, tame horror stories.

3)       A magazine which published largely erotica said, “No ‘cute’ or ‘sweet,’ or crude, or sex fantasies.”  So a writer had to hit that narrow medium every time, I guess.

4)       Regional limitations.  I can acknowledge that certain publications want to cater to their area, and maybe even solely feature authors from that area.  If it’s say, Canada, okay, but I saw one magazine that only accepted authors from one California city.  So why even advertise in nationally seen books like “The Writer’s Market?”  Kind of a tease.

5)       “Synopsis of not more than 25 words.”  For novellas, novels, etc.  Asking this as an exercise might have merit, if it’s combined with a normal length synopsis, but just this alone?  Can they really tell much about the book from this?

6)      A magazine with “Mormon” in its subtitle, put out by a Mormon literary society, said it was “Mormon-based, but not religious.”  This seems a little disingenuous, since they can’t stop mentioning their religion.



1)      “Not looking for stories with emphasis on drugs, murder, rape, and body piercing.”  Seems like one of these words is not like the others—can you tell which one?

2)      “No religion, anti-religion, or evolutionary,” for a horror and suspense publication.  Seems oddly precise—talk about not wanting to discuss a sometimes inflammatory political issue.

3)       Like many erotica publications, this one said while they welcomed graphic sexuality, they drew the line (as most do) at “rape, pedophilia, and necrophilia.”  Reasonable so far, but then, “No knives in vaginas.”(!)  The fact that the publication put this in their guidelines is kind of disturbing, and weirdly specific.  Apparently they’ve received many stories with this occurrence.

4)       Another erotica publication specifies, “No excessive profanity, golden showers, scat, ….and felching.”  If you don’t know what the last one is, don’t google it at work, or while you’re eating.

5)       A sci-fi and horror magazine says “no porn or advert gore.”  Advert?  Did they mean “overt”?  “Advertising” gore?  Maybe it’s a typo, or if not it’s an expression I’m not familiar with.

6)       “Things that are shocking, dark, lewd, comic, or even insane are okay as long as the fiction is controlled and purposeful.”  So fiction by a crazy person is fine, as long as their stories are spelled and punctuated correctly, are grammatically correct, have a beginning, middle, and end, and the main character has an arc, etc.

7)      “Audience is anyone concerned with the moral fiber of our country,” and the magazine will publish anything of “Relevance to the growing psychic problem in America today.  Be honest and urgent.”  I submitted to these folks, and they were actually cool to deal with, but to this day I have no idea what those quoted guidelines mean.

8)      “Taboos include rape, except in prison, where it’s a reality.”  Rape isn’t realistic anywhere else?

                                                     Not Helpful

1)      “Well plotted, memorable characters.”  I know that all publications are looking for these things, but is this going to benefit anyone?  Doesn’t pretty much everyone think that stories are well plotted with interesting characters?

2)       “No boredom.”  Similar to the last one, or worse.  Maybe some will acknowledge that their plotting, say, is weak, but does any writer think that their story is boring?  Will this discourage anyone?

3)       “Send your best.”  In theory, again, I see why they say this, but how many authors can overcome their biases toward their own stories?

4)       “No stories that are not well written.”  Same as above.


1)      Stories with “Profound terror and sexual delirium.”  I find this strangely poetic.

2)      Stories which “hurt you, and hurt you to read.”  Again, I like the way this sounds.

3)      From a defunct (?) magazine, “Graffiti Off the Asylum Walls” (great name).  “Send us stuff you’re afraid to show your mother, priest, and shrink.”

4)      “Keep the blood and slime to a minimum.”  So in your stories featuring snails or “Slimer” from “Ghostbusters,” put these characters more in the background.

5)      The magazine wants stories with, “blood, sex and tentacles.”  Perfect for all your S&M octopus orgy tales!  Actually, this referred to the “Cthulhu” character that Lovecraft created, as the magazine was named, “Cthulhu Sex Magazine” (sadly closed now).  You didn’t have to have all three elements in every submission, though—the story of mine that they published just had necrophilia (between humans, not squid) as its main theme.

     To defend these publishers a little, I recognize that I have no experience putting out a magazine or book, and that they have to slog through thousands of submissions, of varying quality, with authors that are often rude, unprofessional, and possibly sociopathic.  I’m just saying that maybe in some cases they might have wanted to edit their guidelines a tad.  I’m sure any writer who read this can think of other examples of these types of things—I’d be interested in hearing them.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Hitting the Delete Button

Today I had to delete a scene out of a story I'm working on. The scene wasn't interesting, didn't move the plot forward and added nothing to the story. I knew it had to go, but somehow, it was still hard hitting that delete button. The scene is gone now and I'm glad because I know it made things better. So why is it so hard to say goodbye to scenes that aren't working? I know it's part of being a writer, but I'm not sure I'll ever enjoy wiping out scenes, or sentences. For the writers out there, do you have a hard time getting rid of things that aren't working?S

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Author Interview

I'm being interview over at Jeanzbookreadnreview today if anyone wants to check it out.

Here's the link

Thanks! :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Author Spotlight: June Kramin

Today I'm hosting author June Kramin. Be sure to stop by and welcome her! :)

Thanks for having me, Alyson!

My latest release, Come and Talk to Me, was released May 29th with Writer’s Amuse Me Publishing. This is my first “cry-your-eyes-out” romance.

I have to give a tissue warning with this one. It was a favorite of my beta readers, but they also said they had the best cry of their lives. I have never been a fan of certain movies where someone finally find happiness and then dies. *cough*Nicolas Sparks*cough*, so I was really surprised when this book took that twist. (Yes, I am one of those writers that let my characters walk all over me. I only do as I’m told.)

People that know me will think they see me and my hubby in the characters and to extent, they are right. Regina grew up in Hawaii, she met a guy in the Coast Guard, they move to Florida before settling in Minnesota. I will be the 1st to admit I stole a lot of little life experiences in this one. Everyone says they have a book in them. With all the crazy things I’ve done, all the jobs I’ve had, and everywhere we’ve moved, I still have quite a few brewing. Someone will always see me in a character to some extent.

I’ve said on many occasions that all I read are friend’s books. I love thinking that as I read these books, my friends are doing that, too, and I get to know them a little more. I have discovered chess fanatics, fencers, amateur magicians, gemologists and so much more.  We’re writers – it’s what we do. Write what you know… and embellish the hell out of it.

Secondary characters are where I draw the line. I would never want anyone to think they see themselves in a character that is less desirable. Every quirky friend is not you. Family and in-laws that do not get along are definitely not my own. How much fun would books be without the conflicts? Without my bitchy MCs? Okay… those are me. ;)

Pull up a tissue box and get settled in. I hope you enjoy reading Come and Talk to Me as much as I enjoyed writing it and revisiting a few places of my past – just not my past story. 

Blurb:  Regina was determined to keep the secrets from her past buried. She had her reasons for keeping her distance from men, but Donovan refused to play by her rules.

Giving in to her heart and marrying him, Regina finally began to feel whole again. When an injury ultimately claims his life, she moves a few states away to a small town where she couldn’t be reminded of him everywhere she turned.

Trying to live her life in isolation, she wasn’t prepared for what the humble cabin next door would bring. Reggie is not sure she will be able to overcome the horrible twist fate has thrown her way.

Available through Writer’s Amuse Me in all e-formats and trade paperback.

Also at Barnes & Noble & Amazon


If a rugged FBI agent is more your thing, check out Hunter’s Find.

Blurb: Hunt is a small town Sheriff who finds himself in for more than he bargained for when he discovers Mandy beaten and unconscious. After repeated attempts of escaping him, he finds himself now her captive instead. Mandy convinces him she’s after her husband who has kidnapped their daughter and will stop at nothing to find her.

Although his instincts tell him differently, Hunt becomes involved with her and agrees to help. What he doesn’t know is there is no child. Mandy is hiding her involvement with the FBI and the mob, and after revenge. Hunt is in over his head tracking her husband to the isolated cabin and the backlash it causes a year later.

Its Sequel, Amanda’s Return, is due shortly with Musa Publishing.


Looking for romantic suspense or a time travel romance? Check out my published novels page: and see what else is coming soon!

Women’s Fiction Website:

Middle Grade Fantasy Series:

Facebook Fan Page: or /AuntyTBugg

Happy Reading!