Saturday 29 September 2012


So excited. I've been waiting for FROM STAGE DOOR SHADOWS to come out for about a year, because inside is a story of mine I could never in a million years have imagined I could write. Not only is it my first ever speculative piece of fiction, but it's also the first I ever wrote to a strict prompt: a line from a song lyric, "L.A. Lady".

I'm so thrilled for it to go out into the world. And guess what? You can read it for free for 48 hours, starting from HERE AND NOW.

From Stage Door Shadows is based on Bernie Taupin’s lyrical tribute to California in the 1970s, “Tiny Dancer” (the original title for the anthology). The song appears on Elton John’s fourth studio album, Madman Across the Water and although not a hit at the time of release, went platinum in August last year.
Twenty-six authors trade Tiny Dancer’s California blessed lyrics for the hadowed recesses of stages large and small in From Stage Door Shadows, a speculative fiction homage to the darkness just beyond the limelight of the entertainment industry.
The stories re-introduce the women BernieTaupin wrote about and Elton John sang about: blue jean baby, LA lady, the band’s seamstress, the music man’s wife and the girl dancing in the sand, along with a stellar cast of musicians, singers, thespians, fans, managers, dancers, DJs, magicians, talent show contestants, stars and has-beens.
From vaudeville to opera, piano bar and street corner, hotel suite and beauty pageant, From Stage Door Shadows is a backstage pass to where dreams of fame, fortune and fulfillment live and die in a heartbeat.
The stories all go live on the LMT site, in the order below. Recognize some names? They start 9 a.m. Saturday (Aussie Eastern Time) then roll out per the schedule. Each story will be up for 48 hours and then each story will come down one story and hour until we reach the final one. You know what's really cool about this? They all go live in the order of the lyrics of the song:

09:00 INDIGO Blue jean baby – Jodi Cleghorn
10:00 MUTED L.A. lady – Jessica Bell
11:00 COLOUR OF BLOOD Seamstress for the band – Cath Barton
12:00 TINY DANCER Pretty eyed, pirate smile – Emma Kerry
13:00 THE MUSIC MAN You'll marry a music man – Lisamarie Lamb
14:00 LUMINAIRE Ballerina, you must have seen her - Joanne Anderton
15:00 DANCING IN THE SAND Dancing in the sand – Rebecca L. Dobbie
16:00/17:00 CANDENTIA MUSIC BOX And now she's in me, always with me - Clive Martyn & Laura Eno
18:00 A LIVING DOLL Tiny dancer in my hand - Monica Marier
19:00 FEAR IS THE SIN Jesus freaks out in the street - Alan Baxter
20:00 TIME SIGNATURE Handing tickets out for God - Melanie Saward
21:00 THE GODS ARE JUST Turning back she just laughs - Janette Dalgliesh
22:00 TORCH SONG Piano man he makes his stand - Andrew McKiernan
23:00 OPEN AUDITION In the auditorium - Devin Watson
00:00 MY MOMENT Looking on she sings the songs - Theresa Milstein
01:00 HOUSE OF THE CANTOMANCER The words she knows - Jennifer Muirhead
02:00 DISCOVERING THE GIFT The tune she hums - Len Lambert
03:00 RITE OF SPRING But oh how it feels so real - Graham Storrs
04:00 WHITE POPPY SERENADE Lying here with no one near - S.G. Larner
05:00 SING FOR ME Only you and you can hear me - Laura Meyer
06:00 THE TWILIGHT DREAM When I say softly slowly - Tom Dullemond
07:00 VELVET Hold me closer tiny dancer - Josh Donellan
08:00 THE LAST OF THE UNDEAD BEATS Count the headlights on the highway – Daniel Wynne
09:00 THE PERFECT EVENING Lay me down in sheets of linen - Sam Adamson
10:00 LAST ILLUSION You had a busy day today – Rus VanWestervelt

Looks like a good time to have a read-a-thon! :)

Thursday 27 September 2012

How to Run a Writer's Retreat: Part Three

This is the last of the posts about the Homeric Writers' Retreat & Workshop. If you missed them, here are Part One and Part Two.

Shauna Kelley asked: If you could distill it down to the one most important outcome of the retreat, what would it be?

Hmm ... there were lots of important outcomes, but I guess I would have to say that it was the fact that we were able to educate the attendees in a lot more than just writing. The island is an amazing place, with lots of history and culture, and I think experiencing a Greek island, along with learning about the ins and outs of publishing, was something I would never want to sacrifice. It's ITHACA that made the retreat what it was. Otherwise, why would you come all the way across the other side of the world for writing workshops if there was no opportunity to explore a new place?

Ella asked: How long before everyone was at ease? What was your favorite part?

It didn't take long at all I think. By the time the attendees were in their hotel rooms, settled in, and out to the welcome dinner in Frikes, got a bit of local wine into their bellies, it was smooth sailing from there. My favourite part? Gosh, I was constantly working and running around, I'm not sure I even had time to comprehend what I had organised. Can I say simply the fact that it was successful? I think the favourite part of the attendees, though, was the Stavros Dance Festival. You can read a few testimonials HERE.

Glynis Smy: What would you do differently the next time?

Ah yes, there is always something I would do differently. I'd set the Homer's School Walk for the late afternoon, rather than early in the morning. It got too hot too quickly!

Talli Roland: Did everyone get along? Any salacious gossip?

Ha! Yes, by the looks of it everyone got along really well, so no problems there at all. I was so so pleased with the outcome. People made new friends. Even I made new friends.

Alex J Cavanaugh: What moment was the highlight? At what point did everything just click for all involved?

I think I answered this pretty much for Ella. Definitley the Stavros dance festival. And the welcome dinner was definitely a good idea. Great way to get people talking and become familiar with who they're going to spend their time with. All in all, it was just fabulous.

Interested in attending in 2013? Stay updated via our FACEBOOK PAGE.

Wednesday 26 September 2012

The Artist Unleashed: LEAVING MY RELIGION, by Sophia L Stone

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 24 September 2012

Some common English phrases need a make-over.

I was thinking today about how technological advancement has meant that some common phrases in English no longer make sense.

Such as put one's head down.

We don't really put our heads down anymore though, do we?

They stay up, because we're all looking at computer screens.

I think we should change it to something like put my head forward? Can you think of anything better?

And in this day and age, with social networking and chatting online, a slip of the tongue isn't always relevant either. Perhaps it could be a slip of the pinky or a slip of the digit, you know?

Can you think of any other phrases that need changing? What would you change them to?

Saturday 22 September 2012

Please add The best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012 on Goodreads!

So after this post, the majority of voters chose black. And it was my first choice, so my instincts were confirmed. This is how the cover ended up with a little input from eMergent Publishing:

And it's now on GOODREADS! Please add it to your TBR list. Not for me, but for this amazing cast of authors who have their wonderful work showcased within. I'm sure you'll recognize a few names ...

A.J. Huffman
Aaron Hughes
Adam Byatt
Adrianne Kalfopoulou
Allen Taft

Allie Marini Batts
Amanda Forbes Silva
Amie McCracken
Amy Saia
Angela Felsted
Anne Whitehouse
Belinda Dorio
Benjamin Nash
Bobbie Troy
Carrie Mumford
Cassandra J. Hubrich
Cath Barton
Chelsey Clammer
Christopher Lowe
Colleen Wells
Daniel Davis
David Bottoms
Dieter Moitzi
Douglas Riggs
Eleanor Bennett
Elizabeth Varadan
Eric Nguyen
Francis Raven
Frank Louis Allen
Frank Sloan
Gary Waters
Greg Belliveau
H. Edgar Hix
Hal Sirowitz
Halli Dee Lilburn
Howie Good
Ian Anderson
Isa Lenor
J.R. McRae
Janîce Leotti
Janice Phelps Williams
Jeri Frederickson
Jim Murdoch
Jodi Cleghorn
Joe Dolce
John Biesecker
John Grey
Joyce Goldenstern
Karen Bass
Karina Sims
Karina van Berkum
Kathryn Roberts
Kevin Ridgeway
Kyle Hemmings
Laurel Garver
Lauren Payne
Leah Givens
Lilah Clay
Linda Cassidy Lewis
Lydia Kang
Mark Rosenblum
Mark Tarallo
Mark Van Aken Williams
Matt Hentschel
Matthew MacNish
Melissa Hudler
Melissa Sarno
Merrick W. Allen
Michael Neal Morris
Michael Onofrey
Michelle Davidson Argyle
Misty-Lynn Ellingburg
Monic Ductan
Monica Casper
Monique Hayes
Nicole Ducleroir
Patricia Ranzoni
Paul Cuclis
Pete Madzelan
Rhonda Parrish
Richard Merrill
Rick Sapp
Robert Gambogi
Robert Scotellaro
Ruby Mahoney
Russell Reece
Salena Casha
Scott Russell Morris
Sean L Corbin
Sheila Meltzer
Sheri Larsen
Stacey Larner
Stephanie Thurrott
Stephen Parrish
S. D. Stewart
Susan Gundlach
Susan Azar Porterfield
Tamim Sadikali
Terry Sanville
Theresa Milstein
Tiggy Johnson
Tina Barton
Tom O’Connell
Valentina Cano
Vaughan Chapman
Vicky Ellis
VR Barkowski
William Haas

Thursday 20 September 2012

Vine Leaves Literary Journal anthology cover options. Help me choose a colour?

So I'm skipping retreat questions again this week because I have something a little more pressing ...

The best of Vine Leaves Literary Journal 2012 anthology.

I can't decide on a colour. Would you like to help me decide? I'm leaning more toward black, but that's because I love black and I always choose black. You should see my wardrobe!

Maybe I should give colour a little more of the limelight for a change.
What do you think?

Black? Blue? Red? Yellow? Or white?

Wednesday 19 September 2012

The Artist Unleashed: BOXING LESSONS, by Josh Donellan

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 17 September 2012

I get "writer's block" when I plot.

I've just discovered this about myself recently. Yes, I know. Isn't it strange?

Three weeks ago I started my third novel. It's technically my fifth, but I'm not counting the first one I digitally burned, or the other one I've started, but put on the sidelines for a while because it was too smart for me.

For the first time in my life, I don't have time to binge-write (allocating large slots of time to write my heart out until I can write no more), so I've been forcing myself to get out at least 500 words, every morning, five days a week. Due to this small goal, I've actually averaged 900 a day, which is pretty damn good considering I have a full time job, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and a whole bunch of other literary favours I do for people. Oh yeah, and there's my life away from books and music, I always forget that one ...

Anyway, I started this novel on a whim because I really really craved some finger aerobics (they've been losing a lot of muscle tone lately), and I started it without plotting a single thing. All it started with was an idea of two characters.

Once I started writing, it turned into four solid characters, and I also discovered their motives and a basic story line without figuring out exactly what's going to happen any further than two chapters from where I currently write. And you know what I've discovered? This lack of plot keeps me really excited about my story. I want to know what happens next, which makes me want to sit down and write, and that, in turn, motivates me to get up early and write those minimum 500 words before work.

This is great! You know why? Because I haven't written anything on any novel for around 9 months. The novel that is sitting on the sidelines, is FULLY plotted. And once I'd figured out how it was going to progress, my enthusiasm for it died. Completely and utterly deflated like a defective pavlova.

My second novel, Bitter Like Orange Peel, was completely plotted too. And the first draft was torture. TORTURE. It took me more than a year to write those 73,000 words.

I really can't believe I've been doing it wrong all these years and wondering what the heck was wrong with me. Why did it take me so long to finish a novel? Because I was plotting and it destroyed my spark. I guess plotting isn't for me after all.

How about you? Has your writing rhythm changed as you've become more and more experienced, or have you found your comfort zone and are sticking with it?

Friday 14 September 2012

The Story That Wasn’t, by Leigh Talbert Moore

All of my stories come out with romance in them. That’s no surprise. In the case of The Truth About Faking, the comedy was the big surprise—to me at least. Originally, I had a completely different idea of how this story would go, and it started with the movie Signs by M. Night Shyamalan.

No, the book wasn’t going to be science fiction.

I saw Signs the first time in the theater with my husband and two friends about a week before my oldest daughter was born. At that viewing, the theater was packed, and the unknown girl sitting next to me kept screaming every time the aliens would appear. Naturally, I giggled every time she screamed, and basically I missed the subtext of the film.

Fast-forward seven years, and Signs comes on HBO one night. Hubs and I decide to watch it again, and upon second viewing, I was struck by the other story of the film: The minister who’s lost his faith, who no one will allow to stop being a minister, who tells his brother-in-law about the two kinds of people in the world—those who see miracles and are optimistic and those who believe we’re in this thing alone and are afraid. And the minister who says he’s never praying again.

I love that story! And I was determined to explore it in a book.

So the book that’s out now, which was originally titled Shadow Falls, was going to be more dramatic and serious, and I was going to explore these fascinating themes for myself.

The only problem was Harley. She kept coming out funny.

I’d write a scene where she’s leaving the gym, and wham-o! She’d get hit in the head with a basketball. I’d have her failing to make the cheerleading squad, and her best friend would get her on in spite of her one jump, “The Banana.”

When Jason appeared, things just got better. And it’s funny, because writing the book, I felt myself relating more to Jason than any other character. He loves Harley’s funny self and all her big ideas, which are really ridiculous. And he’s willing to wait for her (or help her) to get over herself and date him.

So for whatever reason, those two characters took over the story, and what was going to be very thoughtful and sad came out wrapped in pink tulle with a sparkly bow on the side.

I think that’s okay. It’s a matter of not forcing our characters to be what we want them to be when they’re really something else. And I think the end product, while it still deals with serious matters, leaves readers smiling.

That’s equally as good as frowning, contemplating heavy thoughts. All that frowning causes wrinkles anyway.

Thanks for having me, Jessica! I hope readers enjoy the story that is.

Book description:

Jason just wants a date with Harley.
Harley just wants a date with Trent.
Trent's still getting over Stephanie.

When Harley and Jason decide to fake date, they uncover a school of deceptions. Trent's got a secret, but so does Jason. And the more time Harley spends secretly kissing her fake boyfriend, the further she gets from her dreams with Trent.

Worst of all, Harley's mom is getting cozy with her hot massage therapy student, and even Harley's Reverend Dad can't fake not being bothered by it. But when the masks finally come off, can everyone handle the real truth?

Purchase Links:

Author Links:

Wednesday 12 September 2012

The Artist Unleashed: COPING AS A BRIT WRITER IN CYPRUS. OR ... WHERE TWO LANGUAGES COLLIDE, by Glynis Smy (+ Giveaway)

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 10 September 2012

HOW I GOT MY AGENT, by Sheri Larsen (+ Giveaway)

This week is a very special week. We have celebrations going on all over the place, so today, Wednesday and Friday, will be taken over by some amazing blogging buddies who have news to share, and lots of goodness to spread! Today we have the amazingly talented, and generous, Sheri Larsen.

So, my awesomesaucesome friend Jessica has offered to help me celebrate a fantastic milestone in my writing career. For those of you who don't know me, I write young adult, middle grade, and picture books. My freelance and short story work can be found in anthologies, magazines, and numerous local publications.

This summer brought me some exciting news. I signed with a literary agent—the fabulous Paula Munier of Talcott Notch Literary. And yes, I'm still hearing pompom cheers when I close my eyes. But within my original announcement HERE, I mentioned that there was more to the story. I hadn't traditionally queried Paula. So Jess has asked me to share how I ended up signing with my agent.

To be fair, I can't go into specifics yet--names, titles, and such. Here's what I can share with you. A year and a half ago, I wrote the first draft of my YA paranormal fantasy MARKED BEAUTY. Not happy with it, I decided to rewrite the entire manuscript, converting from 3rd person past tense to 1st person present tense. Risky? Maybe. But it felt right.

After receiving some amazing insight on my first 50 pages from YA author Michelle Zink, I decided to edit yet again, rewriting the entire beginning. I sent out a small round of queries, which vetted me requests but no takers. I combed through the manuscript another umpteen times and sent out an even smaller number of queries, only twelve. Again, many requests but no takers. I began to consider Indie publishing, even chatted with other Indie authors. That route just didn’t feel right for me at that time. So, this past June, I decided to take my publishing journey into my own hands and began submitting the manuscript to smaller publishers.

And VOILA! I got a hit. And then another. And then another. For now, let's just leave it at I received multiple offers to publish the manuscript with a few already asking for a sequel. Yup. I was totally freaking!! Of course I contacted some of my closest writer friends like AE Rought, Jessie Harrell, JA Souders, LM Preston, and Ciara Knight, asking for advice. Collectively, said ladies felt that querying a few agents and letting them know about my offers wouldn’t hurt.

I received a response within an hour of sending my query letter to Paula. Two days later we spoke by phone. She offered me representation, and I accepted.

So today, I'm inviting you to celebrate with me!! Our amazing writing community has offered up over 40 prizes for you to win from signed books to critiques, to personal chats. Seriously. Won't you celebrate with me and enter? I'd love it if you would. There's only one mandatory entry. Everything else is up to you!!

I know Rafflecopters can sometimes be a pain, but it was the only way to organize such a huge giveaway. Thanks you so much for reading and to Jessica, who is my writing sister across the sea.

List of Rocking Participants: Lenny Lee, Colene Murphy, LM Preston, Darby Karchut, Joanne Brothwell, Patti Larsen, Christine Fonseca, Catherine Stine, Jessica Bell, Kelly Hashway, Leigh Moore, Christine Danek, Alex Cavanaugh, Katie Mills, Matthew MacNish, Beverly McClure, Marcy Hatch, Jennifer Million, Nicole Zoltack,Christina Lee, Kris Yankee, JL Spelbring, Sharon Mayhew, Candice Granger, Dianne Salerni, Lisa & Laura Roecker, Elana Johnson, Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi, Susan Kaye Quinn, Lydia Kang, Julie Musil, Natalie Agurrie, Talli Roland, Medeia Sharif, Kelly Polark, Angela Brown, Sarah Fine, Stina Lindenblatt, Lynda Young, Susan Fields, PK Hrezo, Shannon O'Donnell, Shelli Johannes-Wells, Theresa Brown Milstein.

Links to Rafflecopters:
Giveaway #1: a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Giveaway #2: a Rafflecopter giveaway 
Grand Giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday 6 September 2012

How to Run a Writer's Retreat: Part Two

As I said in this post, I will be answering all your questions about the Homeric Writer's Retreat & Workshop, in a series of posts. Tune in every Thursday to get some answers. I'll be posting until I run out of questions.

Sarah Fine asked: What are the goals of a retreat? Seems like it would be to get away and get a lot of writing done, but judging by those pictures, I have to wonder how that was possible with such excellent surroundings and company!

The goal of a retreat differs depending on who is running it and what kinds of workshops are being held. As was explained in How to Run a Writer's Retreat: Part One, this retreat was very 'how to get published' oriented, rather than, 'let's relax in paradise and pen a masterpiece'.

Okay, it is paradise on Ithaca, there's no denying that fact, and there was free time to write, but that was not the main purpose of the Homeric Writer's Retreat & Workshop. It was basically like an educational vacation: lots of learning mixed with interesting and fun excursions and some time to relax.

I do know that many attendees got a lot of writing done when they returned home, so the retreat proved to be a motivator and the trip an inspiration.

So if you're looking for a retreat to attend, make sure you choose wisely. Personally, I'd prefer to attend one from which I'll leave with a whole bunch of new information and motivation to keep writing. If I wanted peace and quiet to write, I don't need to pay someone else to get that. I'd just book myself a holiday and become a recluse for a while.

How about you? What do you look for in a writer's retreat? Do you want to learn new things, or relax and write? Or how about a mixture of both? (If you want a mixture of both, the Homeric Writer's Retreat & Workshop is for you. To find out what's happening in 2013, check back at the website.

Got any more questions? Leave them in the comments, and I'll be sure to answer them in my future posts.

Wednesday 5 September 2012

The Artist Unleashed: HOW TO GET INVITED TO SPEAK AT SCHOOLS, by Karen Bass

The Artist Unleashed posts have moved to a new domain. Please click HERE to read the rest of this post and for the opportunity to comment. Just search for the title of the post in the search bar on the new site.

Monday 3 September 2012

I'm not a real writer because ...

I do not hear voices. (not even when I'm being spoken to, I'm usually busy.)

I don't get ideas when I'm about to fall asleep. (nor do I have a notebook on my bedside table)

I do not 'zone out' when people are talking to me while I'm writing. (I just ignore them.)

I always leave the house without a notepad and pen. (oops)

I do not purposely eavesdrop in public. (I accidentally do it.)

There aren't any 'plot bunnies' in my head. (that just makes me feel dusty)

I do not write plot ideas on my hands and arms. (that's very bad for your health, you know, the ink goes into your blood stream, maybe that's why you're hearing voices.)

I am not a loner. (okay, I am.)

My first friend was not imaginary. (though I did like to imagine I had an imaginary friend. Problem was, it just seemed so unrealistic ...)

I do not hold conversations between people that don't exist. (see previous point)

I am not an alcoholic. (In fact, I barely drink at all. When I say I'm drinking wine, I'm actually looking at the bottle in the fridge and wishing I were drinking it. I don't do well with alcohol.)

I do not mentally edit people's dialogue when they talk to me. (I just blatantly correct them.)

I do not have a favourite line from every movie I've ever seen, nor can I remember quotes from classics off the top of my head! (I think I gave my memory to my imaginary imaginary friend.)

I think writer's block is bollocks. It's called 'clearly needing a break'. (true)

There you have it. My confession. I'm not a writer. I am just a woman who writes (bollocks). 

Any of these things true for you? Come on ... time to dish. Got anything else to add?

If you missed my post last Friday, String Bridge has been picked up by an Australian publisher, eMergent Publishing, and will be out in paperback again this Christmas. I would really love it if you could all 'like' this publisher's FB page. They stand for so much goodness in this industry, pushing for emerging writers to have their voices heard, read, appreciated. All it takes is one click, and perhaps another one if you're inclined to share! You may know a couple of bloggers who have been published in their anthologies: Theresa Milstein and Len Lambert.