Saturday, April 19, 2014

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY: A Glimmer of Guile, by Mary Patterson Thornburg

Today's SPOTLIGHT is focused on another fellow author at Uncial Press, Mary Patterson Thornburg, with her new novel, A GLIMMER OF GUILE:

Vivia has guile. Using only the power of her mind, she can make water boil, heal the sick, create illusions, and even transform herself into a bird or a pirate. But guilish folk are considered witches by most people, and that frightens them. Her first teacher taught her healing arts, and after that she studied with Taso Raym, the most powerful male witch in the land. He taught her many things, and not just guilish skills. Unfortunately, neither Vivia nor Raym could ignore their attraction to each other, and intimacy between them would have meant the end of her guile. So she joined Ladygate, an all-female community, and accepted that love was not for her.

After a while, though, she realizes Ladygate is not where she belongs either. So she accepts the task of investigating the disappearance of a lord's son—kidnapped, it seems, by the malevolent witch Orath. Her guilish training is not quite complete, and she hopes Raym can help her. But Raym has also disappeared. Vivia is on her own, with a task to do—one that now touches her heart. She’s almost sure she has the necessary strength and skill…
…Unless Raym and Orath are in league with each other.

Meeting challenges head on, Vivia learns from her mistakes. Her guile grows with each success, as she follows a convoluted, hazy trail to the sea and, beyond, to the lair of Orath and her tyrannical consort, the Red Prince. There she finds Raym, captive and enthralled by a guile stronger and more deadly than she ever imagined. Planning carefully, she prepares herself for a confrontation she must believe she will win…

Visit Mary at her brand new website:

Thursday, April 17, 2014


I'm editing a book that should never have been sent to me. I fear the author dictated her book into some program, like Dragon, never took the time to "train" her dictation software to understand her (and her horrid, stereotyped uneducated backwoods accent), and spoke with her mouth full.

To make matters worse, it's very clear she never bothered reading her book after it got recorded -- or else she quit school after flunking second grade a dozen times. The grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes are enough to give me headaches and pull out my hair. (I think I need a wig for Easter ...)

Bottom line: She had no right sending it to the publisher to publish, and then expect someone to fix the mangled drivel that should never have been put on the page in the first place. In the age of texting and instant messaging and email ... this alleged author can barely grasp the essentials of conversation. Forget the arrogance of writing a book and expecting people to actually read 50,000 words of reporting in excruciating detail every conversation and text message as her relationship fell apart.

Don't worry -- I don't have personal contact with the people I edit for this vanity publisher. She doesn't know I'm talking about her, and I will never reveal her name, even if you torture me. Of course, after this week , my estimate of my strength is greatly increased ...

I believe that the writing talent is a stewardship. And that means no matter how brilliant you imagine your book is, you still have a responsibility to go through it and make it the best it can be before you "release it into the world." That means even BEFORE you send it to an editor to "fix" it for you.

Several years ago on the EPIC loop, one of the authors griped about having to fix punctuation, grammar, spelling, and formatting. "Isn't that what editors are for? To fix all those things for me? Why should I waste my time?" Needless to say, he got pounded by the editors and publishers on the loop.

With the heavy load of submissions that editors in all levels of publishing receive ... if your story is equal to someone else's in terms of the suspense and characterization and details, but when the editor considers how much time she will have to invest in polishing one manuscript versus the other ... guess who she'll buy? Yep, the book that requires the least amount of work from her.

Your editor, whether the in-house editor, or someone like me who polishes up vanity press manuscripts, or helps an author polish and revise before submitting to that overworked, finicky editor, is NOT there to, in essence, write your book for you. I'm the tailor who puts on the buttons and trims the button holes and fixes the hems. I am NOT here to take whole panels out of your dress, find new material to change the look, change a neck to a sleeve, on and on. You should have your book as close to the finished product as possible before you send it to me. I'm there to clean things up, not change babydoll pajamas into an evening gown!

If you want an editor who does that kind of work, baby, it'll COST you. And you might have to put someone else's name on your book with yours. After all, they did as much work as you did. Maybe more. Because ideas are a dime a dozen, but the talent to actually write a book that people will read -- all the way to the end -- without throwing it against the wall -- that is a priceless and rare talent.

Don't write a book -- don't make a dress -- until you understand what all the tools are there for, what each type of material works best, and where it works best. And for heaven's sake, don't go out in public without making sure your dress doesn't have huge, gaping holes in it!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Off the Bookshelf: THE SON OF SOBEK by Rick Riordan

Ever wondered what would happen if Carter Kane and Percy Jackson met up?

Rick Riordan gives us a short story of one encounter, and maybe a hint of future stories to come. Or else he's just being a nasty tease, laying the groundwork for two of his heroes from two different stories -- and two different mythologies and cultures -- coming together. And then not DOING anything with it! (Please, don't be cruel! )

Carter from the Kane Chronicles is hunting a giant crocodile before it causes harm to innocent bystanders. He runs into Percy Jackson from the Percy Jackson and the Olympians and Heroes of Olympus books, who is doing the same. Since neither side knows that the gods from Greece and Egypt seem to be co-existing in our modern world, they seem to be speaking two different languages, rather than ordinary English ... and that kind of handicaps them in fighting the nasty old croc.

They conclude that someone is out to foment trouble between Greece and Egypt ... but who? I hope Riordan does follow through -- at least with more short stories, if not full-length books.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY: A Bowl of Rice, by Joan Leotta

This week, I'm delighted to feature another fellow Desert Breeze Publishing author!

A Bowl of Rice
by Joan Leotta.

This is the third book in her Legacy of Honor series. Anna Maria O'Shea, daughter of Giulia, the heroine of Giulia Goes to War (book one of the series)  has signed up to become a nurse. 
What is honor? Anna Maria grapples with this question while trying to discover just who she is and how she will serve her country during the Vietnam War era. Her first challenge is her boyfriend, also in the nurse program,  who becomes a protester and does not  plan to honor his pledge to serve. 
Anna Maria also needs to deal with reconciling her mixed Italian and Irish heritage with her feelings for a fellow soldier, rescuing her room mate from the Viet Cong and finally, coming home.

To find out more about the author and her writing, performing and speaking, check out her blog (where there is also a free short story to read!) 
To find out how to purchase the book (2.99 on kindle!) check out this link:

Thursday, April 10, 2014


No, I'm not talking about investing in Visine or taking a nap before you proofread your story.

I'm talking about finding someone to help you with the final polish. Someone to read through it and find all those little glitches and stupid typos that you didn't catch.

Here's the thing: After you've gone through your story a half-dozen times, and maybe paid an editor to go over it with you two or three times, you and your editor get kind of familiar with what's on the page. You have an idea in your head of what you want on the page, how you want the book to feel, the level of clarity. And after you've been over your book again and again and again ... your mind plays tricks on you. You see the sentences and paragraphs as you WANT them to be ... not how they really are. Your brain inserts the right words in there, and you gloss over the mistakes.

Here's what you need to do:
1 -- Find someone who has not read your story yet. Preferably someone you haven't talked to about the story, either, so they don't have expectations.
2 -- Find someone with a good, solid grasp of the rules of grammar, spelling, punctuation -- and the English language!
You might think that's obvious, but it's not -- I've edited plenty of people who speak English as their second or third language, and instead of going to someone who is a native speaker and reader and writer of English, they go to one of their immigrant friends who they consider more skilled with English, and ask them to check the book. Well, chances are good this more skilled friend makes the same grammar, spelling, syntax and punctuation mistakes as the author.
3 -- DO NOT ASK FAMILY OR FRIENDS to read the manuscript. They'll tell you it's wonderful, don't change a thing. Or they'll focus on stupid little things that aren't wrong (for instance, I edited a book where the author's relatives insisted AFTER the book was published that "If you were a virgin, you were allowed to wear white" was wrong, and proper grammar was, "If you was a virgin, you was allowed to wear white." *sigh*) or they'll believe you're talking about them when you aren't, and their feelings will get hurt -- or worse, you ARE talking about them, and they'll want you to totally rewrite the book to suit them.
4 -- DO NOT WAIT until AFTER publication to ask for feedback from your smart, grammatically skilled friends. Do it beforehand, while you still have time to make corrections to the manuscript.
4a -- As a corollary, do not accept or ask for feedback after publication, if you did not ask someone (several someones, preferably) to look at it before publication. I had a client who kept friends and family completely out of the loop of her book. Then, they stood around her at the booksigning/release party for her book and pointed out all the mistakes they thought she made -- in public! To make matters worse, when she accused me of destroying her book, I asked her to tell me what the mistakes are ... and NONE of those mistakes were in the manuscript after I edited it -- she had sent the WRONG version of the book to the publisher, and never checked the galley proofs.
5 -- When the publisher sends you galley proofs of your book, this is the time to look for errors and correct them. This is NOT the time to look at the formatting, and decide if the font is "pretty" enough for you, and if the margins are wide enough, or you don't like the dingbats between sections or other graphics. This is the time to fix the TEXT.

The bottom line is: ASK FOR HELP, and ask those with skill and experience to give that help. Would you go to a stonemason for help with making lace? Would you ask someone from a tropical island to help you design clothes to stand up to an Arctic winter?

Monday, April 7, 2014


This book by the editors of Writer's Digest is kind of like a toolbox. Each chapter by a different author deals with different aspects of writing. For instance:

In the CHARACTERS section, you have chapters on "Emotion-Driven Characters" or "Three Techniques for Crafting your Villain."

Under FOCUS ON THE WRITING LIFE you have "Creative Lollygagging: Work Harder at Working Less," or "Beating Writer's Block."

In PLOT AND CONFLICT you have "Story Trumps Structure" or "Rescue Your Story from Plot Pitfalls."

Instead of an entire book focused on one aspect of writing, such as hooks or revision or plotting, this "toolbox" offers nice bite-sized chunks of advice that deal with specific aspects that might just be troubling you in writing your book or short story. Well worth the time to read straight through, and then go back and visit on a regular basis, just to brush up on things.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

SPOTLIGHT SATURDAY: Murder a la Christie by Marilyn Levinson

Today's Spotlight is on a fellow Uncial Press author, Marilyn Levinson, with her newest release, MURDER A LA CHRISTIE.

Professor Lexie Driscoll is leading a discussion of Agatha Christie’s novels at the first meeting of the Golden Age of Mystery book club, when an old friend is murdered. A free spirit, Lexie finds herself outside her element housesitting in the upscale village of Old Cadfield. As she unravels secret after secret, more members are murdered. Lexie employs Miss Marple’s knowledge of human nature and Hercule Poirot’s cunning to find the killer.

A former Spanish teacher, Marilyn Levinson writes mysteries, romantic suspense, and books for kids.
Her latest mystery, Murder a la Christie, is out with Oak Tree Press. Untreed Reads has brought out a new e-edition of her first Twin Lakes mystery, A Murderer Among Us--a Suspense Magazine Best Indie--and will bring out a new e-edition of the sequel, Murder in the Air, in April. Her ghost mystery, Giving Up the Ghost, and her romantic suspense, Dangerous Relations, are out with Uncial Press. All of her mysteries take place on Long Island, where she lives. 

Her books for young readers include No Boys Allowed; Rufus and Magic Run Amok, which was awarded a Children’s Choice; Getting Back to Normal, & And Don’t Bring Jeremy. Marilyn loves traveling, reading, knitting, doing Sudoku, and visiting with her granddaughter, Olivia, on FaceTime. She is co-founder and past president of the Long Island chapter of Sisters in Crime.

Her website is:
Find her book on Amazon: