Friday, May 16, 2014

Life is Crazy

I've come to the conclusion that this life is full of insanity. Insane schedules, deadlines, bills, social interactions or lack thereof, pets, neighbors, and being a parent. I've had trouble, for a long time, with the fact that my time is no longer my own. Hardly any of it. Maybe one hour daily, and it's not even sixty consecutive minutes, is devoted solely to me. And honestly, in six months, the amount of time will decrease.

Some of you may know, some may not, but I'm expecting my second child this coming November. Being a stay-at-home mom, there's a silly impression that we just sit around all day watching TV. I get about 25 minutes of TV time before my toddler is asleep, and that's an episode of "Ni Hao, Kai-lan," the only show he really shows any interest in. The rest of my day is spent cleaning, picking up the same toys some fifty odd times so I don't trip on them, entertaining my son, reading him the same book five or more times in a row because he insists, doing my best to guide him when he has a temper tantrum because he wants to communicate and can only say a few words thus far, changing diapers, taking the brief time he's asleep to walk the dog, take out the trash, take care of my flowers and garden, take a shower if I'm lucky... And if it's a day smiled upon by the gods, I might get to sit down and eat a meal without sharing every third bite with my son and have a bit of computer time before he awakens. The afternoon is lather, rinse, repeat, then my husband gets home, we do dinner, then he bathes the mini monster and puts him to bed so I can do the dishes and sometimes walk the dog a second time.

Regardless, I'm still forcing myself to make time to write. Even if it's just 500 words a day, a page or two is better than nothing. And I know that I feel better on the days when I make that little bit of time for myself. Is it rough, not being able to sit down for hours at a time, just hammering away at the keys while the worlds pour from my brain to the page? Yes. Immensely.

I guess the point I'm trying to get at is this: no matter how crazy busy and stressful life can get, you have to always make time for yourself. It might not be as much as you want, or how often you wish it could be, but if typing on your phone for ten minutes in the bathroom is what you have to do, do it. If you really want to write, dance, paint, sing, or whatever your dream is, lamenting about not having the time to do so takes up precious time when you could be doing that thing you want to. Quit yer bitchin' and get on it!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Sweet Callahan Homecoming by Tina Leonard

Sweet Callahan Homecoming
by Tina Leonard

Will Ashlyn Callahan finally find her magic?  The last Callahan rides in the exciting conclusion to the bestselling series, The Callahan Cowboys!

Four Babies—and Her Whole Family—to Protect

Ashlyn Callahan has always known that her fate can only bring danger to those she loves. That's why she flees Rancho Diablo—and the ornery cowboy she loves—to hide out in Texas Hill Country. But all hell breaks loose when Xavier Phillips finds her…and her four newborn babies.

Xav finally tracks down his warrior woman—only to discover she's the mother of two perfect little boys and two perfect little girls. And he's the father! Now Ash has to marry him. With the future of Ash's entire clan at stake, Xav is ready to lay his life on the line to safeguard the family legacy. Not to mention create a homecoming—and a wedding!—worthy of his Chacon Callahan bride!

Two squad cars pulled in front of the house, and the next thing he knew, a couple of Wild’s finest were yelling at him to put the little lady down.

“I forgot to call and tell the sheriff it was a false alarm,” Ash said, apologetic, as he set her gently on the ground. She was breathless and a bit tousled from being upside down. “You’d better go.”

“I’m not going anywhere until you agree to go with me.” He could be just as stubborn as she. “Go tell the sheriff and his friends that their services aren’t needed.”

“It would be better if you go.”

She gazed up at him, and he caught a funny bit of desperation from her. “Nope,” he said, still wearing stubborn like a badge.

“Ash, is there a problem?” the sheriff asked, and Ash looked at Xav.

“Is there a problem?” she asked Xav, and he realized she was holding him hostage to her demand that he leave.

Well, he’d never been one to go down without a fight.

“Hell, yeah, there’s a problem, Sheriff. This woman won’t accept my marriage proposal. I drove all the way from Rancho Diablo in New Mexico to propose to her. Xav Phillips,” he said, shaking the sheriff’s hand.

The sheriff and his deputies snickered a little at his conundrum. Then the sheriff perked up. “Xav Phillips, Gil Phillips’s son, from Hell’s Colony?”

“Yes, sir,” Xav said politely.

“I knew your daddy before you were even a twinkle in his eye,” the sheriff said, drawing a groan from Ash. The sheriff turned to her.

“Ashlyn Callahan, you hit the panic button because some man has proposed to you? Again?” The sheriff shook his head. “He drives a nice truck, comes from a great family, practically Texas royalty. If Santa brings you a father for those four children of yours, you might treat him a little nicer than calling the law on him.” He tipped his hat to Ash, shook Xav’s hand again, and he and his deputies got back in their squad cars. “Good luck,” the sheriff said to Xav through his open window. “Probably five men in the county have offered to marry this lady, and she’s turned them all down flat.”

He nodded. “Forewarned, Sheriff. Thanks.”

“Are all of you through enjoying a manly guffaw at my expense?” Ash demanded. “Because if you are, I need to get back in the house. I have children who need me.”

“Good night, Sheriff.” He followed Ash back inside, his mind niggling with discomfort and alarm. Five men had proposed to her? Ash picked up a baby that was sending up a gentle wail and sat down on the old-fashioned sofa situated across from the Christmas tree.

He sat next to her. “Hey, Ash,” he said, “the sheriff said something about you needing a father for your children, that Santa had sent you one for Christmas. It was a figure of speech, right?” He looked at her, surprised but not displeased in the slightest that she was undoing the pearl buttons on her white sweater. She tossed a baby blanket over her shoulder, obscuring the baby’s face—and suddenly, it hit Xav like a thunderclap that Ash was nursing that baby.

Which would not be the slightest bit possible unless these were her children. He stared at Ash, and she looked back at him calmly, her denim-blue eyes unworried and clear.

“You’re a mother,” he said, feeling light-headed, and not from the crack Mallory had landed on his skull. “These are your babies?”

She nodded, and he got dizzy. The woman he loved was a mother, and somehow she’d had four children. This perfect four of a kind was hers.

It wasn’t possible. But he could hear gentle sucking sounds occasionally, and he knew it was as possible as the sun coming up the next day. He felt weak all over, weak-kneed in a way he’d never been, his heart splintering like shattered glass.

“Damn, Ash, your family…you haven’t told them.”

“No, I haven’t.”

A horrible realization sank into him, painful and searing. “Who’s the father?”

She frowned. “A dumb ornery cowboy.”

“That doesn’t sound like you. You wouldn’t fall for a dumb ornery cowboy.”

“Yes, I would,” Ash said. “I would, and I did.”

About Tina Leonard
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Tina Leonard writes with humor, sexiness, and fun. With nearly three million books sold, she plans to keep writing the stories readers enjoy. Her schedule keeps her very busy creating independent heroines and the irresistible heroes who love them. Visit Tina at,,, and

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Ballerina and the Revolutionary by Milla V

Title: The Ballerina and the Revolution
Author: Milla V

Vivienne realises she is dying. All she wants to do is see her daughter Giselle one last time and apologise. But Giselle no longer exists and it is Crow, a gender-queer anarchist, who returns to a family home that is plagued by ghosts and violent memories. Crow unravels terrifying secrets, hoping to find closure at last. But can anyone survive the shadows that lurk behind the fairy tales?

Promo video -

I struggled out of the bathroom, my arms full of what were once white bath towels and were now covered in blood.
My brother was shivering outside his bedroom door. His was face so pale and round that he looked like the full moon as he stared up at me from his seated position.
‘Sit with her, Tommy,’ I said, trying to give him my most reassuring smile. ‘Try to keep her calm while I get cleaned up.’
He stared at me then slowly shook his head. I sighed. The bundle was getting heavy and I didn’t know how much longer I could keep doing this. None of the other girls at school had to take care of their mothers and their big brothers. The limit of their responsibilities tended to be tidying their rooms once a week. Why me?
‘Please…’ I begged.
As he stood up the smell of blood must have hit him full force and his white skin turned green. He ran, away from me and away from the bathroom, out of the apartment door, not waiting to close it behind him.
‘At least let Nanny know what’s happened,’ I called after him, not certain whether he heard or cared what I’d said.
I tried to rearrange the bundle so I could shut the front door. I must have tightened my hold on the sodden cotton; blood oozed onto the skin of my right forearm. I swallowed hard and told my stomach to behave. Tears rolled down my face as I made my way towards the kitchen and dropped the towels into the large aluminium sink. I turned on the tap and water rose above the fabric, strings of pink swirling through the fluid.
I washed my arms, scrubbing them clean while Vivienne’s wails became louder. I turned the tap off, grabbed fresh towels, dark ones this time, from the airing cupboard and returned to the bathroom.
Beside the bath, crouched Vivienne. The dressings I’d wrapped around her wrists had already reddened. I sat beside her and firmly held clean towels over the dressings. She stopped crying and stared at me.
‘It’s okay, mummy,’ I assured her. ‘Tom’s gonna get Nanny.’

As I gently rocked her body back and forth she stared at my face. Her eyes were blank and I wasn’t sure she knew who I was. I could sympathise, half the time I didn’t feel like her seven year old daughter, either. I guess I had to grow up fast.

About Milla V
Milla V is the more gentle alter ego of Carmilla Voiez. Milla's YA and NA novels have more universal appeal than her somewhat extreme form of horror writing. The Ballerina and the Revolutionary, to be released on April 1st, is her first full length novel that can be regarded as Magic-Realism rather than horror.
Carmilla Voiez, a British horror writer, resides in Scotland and writes from her home in Banff, where she lives with her daughters and cats. Carmilla sold her Gothic Clothing business in 2012 and has been writing and releasing top selling books and short stories since then. A Goth for over 20 years, her books are inspired by the Gothic subculture, magic and dark desires, exploring sexual obsession and violence in often hard-hitting ways.
The first book, Starblood, which has been nominated for the Commonwealth Book Prize, is set partly in the beautiful Cairngorm mountains and partly in the city where she grew up, in South West England, she finds inspiration in local beauty, stately homes, the Moray Firth and woodlands around the Scottish town where she has lived the past 10 years.
Carmilla Voiez won the title Horror Author of the Year 2013 from HFA and FearVenture Author of the Year 2014. 

Links Amazon
Blog for Milla V and Carmilla Voiez –

Readings can be heard on Room 13 Radio Podcast -

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Blood Sight by Lynn Townsend

Hello! Let me introduce myself; I'm Lynn Townsend, geek and writer (yes, I self-identify as geek before any and everything else... I was a geek before being a geek was cool; but I'm not gatekeepery about it. You look like a PC! Come, join the party!) and this week, we're celebrating the release of my second novel, Blood Sight, Book One in the Demoniac Codex, released by Vamptasy Publishing.

Which is totally awesome!

The book is awesome! Vamptasy is awesome! I'm pretty dang awesome myself! And of course, You Are Awesome!

My daughter, who's ten, wants to be a forensic pathologist when she grows up.

I... wanted to be a writer. Although I often said that I would be a teacher while I waited to make money doing the writer thing... that last all the way up to my student-teaching days and then I wandered away, shaking my head, saying, “Wow, I don't know what I was thinking...”

I first knew I wanted to write in fifth grade – before that, I really didn't know it was a career choice. I thought all writers were dead, which didn't seem like a good long-term plan for myself. But my teacher that year had us make books, and I enjoyed it, quite a lot. I wrote a ten page story – probably five times longer than anyone else in my class, and well above and beyond what we were supposed to do for the assignment.

But I only started writing professionally about 3 years ago. In between, I have been a warranty coordinator for a trucking company, worked in fast food and convenience stores, been an insurance collector for a funeral home, been a copy-editor for a nuclear waste disposal proposal project, a technical writer's assistant, a research and marketing specialist for an insurance company, and an office manager for a real-estate firm.

A lot – and I do mean quite a few – people have asked me why the heck did I write another vampire novel? Aren't there enough vampire romance stories out there?

Well, yes.

But I've always been oddly fascinated with vampires. In high school, I wrote a ten-page thesis paper on vampire mythology and real-life vampires (including Elizabeth Batory, who I continue to suspect was framed and arrested as a land-grab, political maneuvering sort of thing... )

So, I really wanted to try my hand at vampires; but I also wanted to do it a bit tongue-in-cheek, because we all know that vampires really are sort of done to death (ha ha, I made a punny!).

Thus was born Rachael, my reluctant seer with the vampire ex-boyfriend.

Title: Blood Sight (A Demoniac Codex novel)
Author: Lynn Townsend

Reluctant oracle and consultant for the Paranormal Police, Rachel Kristoff, has problems, and the vampire at her front door is only the beginning. Threatened by supernatural foes, hampered by her malfunctioning clairvoyance, and betrayed by the only family she has left, Rachael is forced to rely on her former lover. For the sake of both of their souls, she will make the only choice left open to her: Depend on the vampire, or die.

Bound to the bloodline of the Oracles since the fall of the Roman Empire, accused of murder, and betrayed by his own vampire Childe, Marcus Valerius is a relic of past glories better left in a previous era. For centuries, he has protected the children of Delphi against all who would control the future for their own purposes. Now, saving the life of the only woman he has ever loved means destroying the Oracular abilities he's sworn to protect.

In a world of angels and demons, vampires and werewolves, foresight and past lives, what you cannot foresee just might kill you...

"You are an arrogant bastard,” I said. Millions, trivial. Vampires and their ivory towers.

"And rich. Do not forget that part.”

"Are you teasing me?”

"Perhaps. If you need to ask, I am not doing a particularly good job with it. A curiosity, one that I have never been able to understand,” Marcus mused. He rested his chin on his long fingers, studying me with those depthless black eyes.

"What is?”

"It is nothing important. Merely that you seem to be the only person I know who finds me more annoying than fascinating or terrifying. Your reactions to me, I feel as if I were nothing more than a boy trying to win the affections of his school-marm.”

"Um, thanks, I think. And you ain’t so charming as you think you are. I learned that lesson well, even if it took me a while to do so. You were a phase, Marcus, and I’m so over it.”

I didn’t quite meet his gaze; if Marcus wasn’t, as the phrase went, over it, I didn’t want to see if he was hurt by my words. I had enough guilt on that shelf already. Our last meeting had not gone nearly so well as this one - I was still irate that he was here, but I could understand why he was - and I had been beyond hateful in an attempt to sever our relationship.

"What was that colorful metaphor you used? Ah, I recall. Get a stepladder and get over yourself. I daily make the effort, my dear, although I fear it is you -”

"Don’t go there, sanguire. We agreed not to speak of that.”

About Lynn Townsend 
Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn's interests include filk music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot. She grew up half in central Virginia, half in way-upstate New York and went to college at William & Mary, where she met and later married a guy who grew up half in Kentucky and half in Utica. They have one child, one murder-death-cat, a turtle, and two chinchillas.

Buy Links:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Apocalypticon by Clayton Smith - Goddess Fish Promotions


by Clayton Smith

Three years have passed since the Jamaicans caused the apocalypse, and things in post-Armageddon Chicago have settled into a new kind of normal. Unfortunately, that "normal" includes collapsing skyscrapers, bands of bloodthirsty maniacs, and a dwindling cache of survival supplies. After watching his family, friends, and most of the non-sadistic elements of society crumble around him, Patrick decides it's time to cross one last item off his bucket list.

He’s going to Disney World.

This hilarious, heartfelt, gut-wrenching odyssey through post-apocalyptic America is a pilgrimage peppered with peril, as fellow survivors Patrick and Ben encounter a slew of odd characters, from zombie politicians and deranged survivalists to a milky-eyed oracle who doesn't have a lot of good news. Plus, it looks like Patrick may be hiding the real reason for their mission to the Magic Kingdom...

They stood on the trestles and waved as the train pulled slowly away. Horace blew the whistle in two short bursts and saluted from the engine. When the train had cleared the highway, Ben turned to Patrick and said, “Please tell me you remembered to pack an elevator.”

“Yeah, I did pack it, originally, but then there wasn’t any room for my Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, so I took it out. But fear not, young traveler, for I have the next best thing. Rope!” He pulled the nylon rope from his bag triumphantly and let it uncoil over the side of the bridge. It dangled just over the edge of the tracks.

"Brilliant. You brought a really useful three-foot rope."

“Well, I’m going to find a use for it somewhere,” Patrick said, hurriedly stuffing it back into the bag. “You just wait.”

“You think we could jump it?”

“Sure. It’s only twenty feet or so.”

“Are you being sarcastic right now, or serious? I can never tell.”

“This time, I’m being serious, mostly. Twenty feet isn’t that many feet. It’ll probably hurt like hell, but we’ll live. Probably.”

“Words every man wants to hear in a world without doctors,” Ben muttered.

“There are doctors somewhere,” Patrick reminded him. “They’re just not you or me.”

About Clayton Smith
Clayton Smith is a sometimes-writer, sometimes-napper based in Chicago, where he uses neither his bachelor’s in journalism nor his master’s in arts management. He is often calamitous, and good at bacon. He lives with his impressively tolerant wife.

Clayton’s previous works include Pants on Fire: A Collection of Lies and the comedic play Death and McCootie, which debuted at the 2013 New York International Fringe Festival.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sky’s End (#1 Cassiel Winters Series) by Lesley Young

Title: Sky’s End (#1 Cassiel Winters Series)
Author: Lesley Young
Genre: Science Fiction, Romance

A secret she must never share. A secret that two warring species are determined to control. A universe’s future at stake.

Twenty-year-old Cassiel Winters joins Earth’s new space academy in hopes of finding her brother, one of Command’s top pilots and her only family, who’s been reported MIA. But she quickly realizes she may not be cut out for life in space, where female cadets are outnumbered, competition’s fierce, and she’s already failed her hand-to-hand combat test once.

When Cassiel’s manipulated into a perilous mission, she encounters a warrior species bred to protect the universe from an even greater threat. And she learns that her secret visions are at the heart of it all. Now Cassiel must fight to control her own destiny and race to save her brother—even if it means pretending to be the pawn of Prime Or’ic, the cold-as-steel Thell’eon leader. Even if it means risking her life, facing hard truths, and making the ultimate sacrifice.

Here's a short interview with the author!

Thanks for inviting me to a Q&A on your fabulous blog. I can’t wait to read one of your books R.A. Sears!

When did you first become interested in writing?
For fiction, it was three years ago. After reading Hunger Games, I realized I could, and wanted, to try to write genre.

Where do you get the inspiration for your characters?
They develop as I write them: I suppose initially they are inspired by the situations I want to put them in. The story’s mood is often influenced by music. And I find movies are a great source of plot possibilities—as in ‘wow’ I never realized you could just switch streams that way.

Are you interested in any arts, other than writing?
I am a movie and (closet) comic book fiend. And while I appreciate all arts as much as anyone, I find the combination of history and arts, e.g., visiting museums and listening to those audiotapes to hear the story behind the painting, a great escape.

Do you have a regular job, on top of being an author?
Yes! I am a full-time journalist. I write lifestyle, business and health stories for a wide array of Canadian magazines. It means my eyes are burning and my fingers numb when I finally get back to fiction at the end of the day.

What's on your agenda for 2014?
I am working on the sequel to Sky’s End, Sky’s Surrender. if you’ve never tried a novel set in space, Sky’s End is the one to ease you in. Its fast-paced plot, balanced world-building and wonderfully quirky heroine on a journey to kick-ass-dom will grip you! It’s available in ebook and paperback at

Thanks for featuring me!


“You would understand us,” Prime Or’ic beseeches me, hands out. He places them on the downcore, searching the room, until he spots what he’s looking for. He returns with a stool and sits on it, making him eye level with me. A first. “Our beliefs,” he starts and stops. I’ve never seen him this . . . uncertain.

“Kirs spend a lifetime training and fighting Aeon. We strive to achieve a perfect Horde, knowing the likelihood is incredibly small. And still we prevail. To get the chance to have, to fight with a sift,” he corrects himself, “with you, is . . . sacred. Once given, it is understood to be a right that is earned.”

“So you think I was, what, given to you?”

He rolls his eyes, frustrated. Ah, that’s more familiar. When he focuses back on me, his eyes are different. Earnest, I think.

“Think of how you ‘fell’ into our path. ESE sent you to our ship! You! When you took my beacon portal, then I knew for certain. It was our destiny to have a sift. You belong to us!”

His vehemence scares me more than the simple deduction. Those things all happened, but not so that I could be his sift. Not even so I could help ESE get the sift (isn’t that ironic?). But so that I could save my brother Daz! I’m certain of this. Being their sift is not my destiny. And even if I believed in that crap, I would never belong to them. Or anyone.

“I’m a human being, Or’ic!”

“I know, I know,” he says, touching my hand with his.

I pull away. I don’t like the way he’s looking at me. Not at all. He doesn’t understand that I wasn’t speaking literally. I meant to say that I’m not an object. But he continues, oblivious to his mistake.

And now, for my review!
Rating: 5 stars!

It's been a long time since I enjoyed reading a sci-fi novel. Honestly, they tend to get so engrossed in world-building that their characters take a backseat. That's not the case with "Sky's End"! Cassiel Winters leaps right off the page, and I think we could totally be girls if she were real. Lesley Young's writing style is crisp and, while we're clearly operating in a fictional world, she does it in such a way that disbelief is totally suspended. I love the internal monologue, and watching the way Cassiel grows as a person and changes throughout the duration of the novel.

Admittedly, the page count was a bit intimidating when I opened it up on my Kindle and it said 415 pages. But before I knew it, I was 50 pages in and had been up an hour longer than I'd planned. It's very easy to get drawn in to Miss Young's vibrant prose. My only complaint about the whole thing is that it's written in present tense, but that's just a matter of personal taste. It's done well enough that I got used to it after the first few pages. Looking forward to the sequel!

About Lesley Young
Journalist Lesley Young never thought she would delve into the world of writing fiction, but when she sat down for the first time to put pen to paper, ideas for what would become her first novel just poured out naturally. Young’s first book, “Sky’s End,” is a multi-genre tale that showcases her unique style of weaving romance, action and wit into one page-burning story.

Young was born in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. She holds an arts degree from the University of Alberta and a journalism degree from the University of Victoria.

Young now lives in Loretto, Ontario where she works as a journalist, freelance writer and editor for health, d├ęcor and business magazines. Since 2008, Young has written more than 300 articles for print and online media including Profit, Toronto Life, MSN Green, and Elle Canada among others. She is a regular contributor to Reader’s Digest, Best Health, Canadian Living and House and Home Magazine.

Young has won three gold honors for feature stories from the National Business Magazine Awards and another top media award from the Canadian Dermatology Association.

Soul Mate Publishing released “Sky’s End” on July 15 in paperback and e-book and since its launch, it has remained an Amazon Best Seller. The novel is Young’s first installment in a series about Cassiel Winters, a futuristic heroine, and her outer space escapades.

Amazon Buy Link

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Editing, and how it can make all the difference

This is going to be a big year for me, as far as writing and publishing are concerned. I've just signed the first two books of The Ragnarok Legacy to Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly, and I have my first solo erotica piece hitting digi-shelves March 21st, with it's two following books to come later this year. And, while some people don't find it to be an important part of the process, I've come to discover that editing/revision are just as important as getting the words on the page in the first place.

Just to give you an idea of how awful editing/revising can be, this final version of my novel Lunacy went through FOUR entire rewrites. Four. I wavered between the book being from first person or third, then I realized that I couldn't relate to Kacea at all anymore because she was so much younger than I was. For some people, the age gap doesn't matter, but I wasn't a sixteen year old kid anymore when I got serious about things. So I made her a senior, wanting to be able to skip those awkward formative years of being an older teenager, and getting into more adult stuff at some point in the book. I completely changed the way she talked, the way she acted, and I think I made her a mature enough character that I didn't want to punch her in the face anymore. I've had people say "Teenagers don't talk like that. They sound too grown up." To be honest, that's exactly how my friends and I talked when we were in high school. If the intelligence level of society at large has dropped so low that all they can chat about now is the Biebs and Jersey Shore, we're in a sorry state indeed...

I digress. So anyway, I did a total overhaul of the deity and cosmology system. Originally, I'd written the story with some gods I created on my own, but they were half-assed and didn't do it for me. Now, we're totally immersed in Norse mythology, and I've woven it in with my werewolves in a way that I'm proud of and I'm fairly sure is unique to me. Although I've seen a lot of viking-esque tales on the rise, I don't think there's another quite like mine. =]

I've also been doing a lot of research on things to do to make your story sound more polished, look more professional. The basics of spelling and sentence structure are pretty much a given. Grammar... I feel like it's a fluid concept. You can end a sentence with a prepositional phrase and some people will have an aneurysm, but as long as the words flow together in a way that sort of removes you from the words and draws you into the world... I think you're golden. Stephen King is a master of sentence fragments, as is Laurell K. Hamilton. That's something that would have gotten you shot thirty years ago, but now, with so many books written in first person that run on an internal monologue, I don't think it's that big of a deal. There's a difference between someone being a true grammar nazi, and someone pointing out that you can't spell your way out of a paper bag. =P

Brevity is a big thing I'm learning to embrace when I write. During my first round of edits with Lunacy, I cut over 5000 words. Five thousand. Some people are publishing stories that are the length of crap I removed from my novel. Then I went through and found what I call my "crutch words". The words/phrases you overuse the most that add nothing to the story. My biggest ones are: suddenly, almost, a little/a bit, and smirk. Sometimes, just changing that one word brought in another paragraph of awesomeness. A change you think is insignificant can produce great effects in the long run.

So, to give you an example of how much things change for me, I'll give you a paragraph of one of my WIPs. It's a short for an erotica anthology that's centered on steampunk. My title is "Clockwork Heart".

Here's what the paragraph looked like at first:

Zylphia Locke had heard all the tall tales. The ones about the supposedly dashing airship captain, Jasper Colt. Between her two jobs, working the ranch in the early morn and serving at the saloon once the sun went down, she heard about him everywhere. His battle against the leader of the Ratchet gang, which had led to the bandits breaking ranks and disappearing over the horizon like a distant dream, was the most commonly gabbed about topic lately.

And here's how it looks now. For now. It'll probably morph again before I'm done. =P

I’d heard all the ludicrous tall tales. Lately, more and more of them were about the devilishly handsome airship captain, Jasper Colt. He was taking down pirates, saving little ol’ ladies, and Gods only knew what else. His battle against the leader of the Ratchet gang, which had led to the bandits breaking ranks and disappearing over the horizon like a distant dream, was the most commonly gabbed about topic, in recent days. Between my two jobs, working the ranch in the early morn and serving drinks and food at the saloon once the sun went down, I heard about the scoundrel everywhere I went.

So, as you can see. Editing can make a HUGE difference. To all my author friends, and those just starting to write!, grab those red pens and go to town!