Sunday, November 29, 2015

NaNo No. 6

As November wraps up, I'm finally ready to admit: I've been NaNo-ing.


This is my sixth straight year of participation in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the annual event that challenges any one, any where, to write fifty thousand words in thirty days. The Office of Letters and Light, the non-profit that runs the show, works year-round to help young writers. It's a fun adventure for a terrific cause.

My first NaNo was back int 2010, and the fifty-odd thousand words I generated then became, after lots of polishing, my second novel (You, Jane - 2014). That first time hooked me, so every November since, I've grabbed an idea, stretched my fingers, told my inner editor to take the month off, and buckled down. In past years, I'd share each days words on my author blog, a kind of real-time serial. That was part of the fun, letting readers see how messy a first draft really is.

This year, though, I decided to NaNo in private. Work and life swirled in ways that gave me pause about trying at all. I didn't think I would "win," get to my fifty thousand. And I hate to lose in public, even if it's only missing a made-up goal of no real consequence.

Plus, the image that came to me in a dream in the last week of October, the image that forced me to start writing, created a story that I want to keep private for a while. Only one person other than me knows anything about the plot or characters.

As I write this post, on the dawn of the 29th of November, I'm sitting at 46,296 words. It's likely I'll make it to 50,000 later today. And, after a quick breather, I will read those words and consider whether they are worthy of serializing for readers, for real, starting in January.

In the meantime, back to the story. I hope you've had an amazing November, whether you are NaNo-ing or not, in public or private, with your own writing adventure.

Elizabeth Fountain writes stories of angels and aliens, love and forgiveness, and of course, dogs who save the world. You can find more of her work here. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Beware of Pirates Feeding Sharks

I had a great tale to share with you about character development. However, an ever growing threat to authors plagues us. There seems to be a growing number of people around the world who believe everything on the internet should be free. Never mind that you spent long hours and tears writing your book so you could make a little money. Never mind that you purchased the copyright as an authentication of your ownership. Never mind that stealing is against the law. There are pirates out there just waiting to feed the sharks. Remember this caution: The Pirate are as dangerous as the sharks.
The pirates are out there, lurking somewhere in cyberspace. Under the cloak of anonymity, they are just waiting to grab your book and give it away for free. Not only are they stealing from you, they are stealing from your publishing company, editor, and anyone else who was to receive legal compensation for your work. As word gets out and multiple authors begin sending Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA")  letters , the pirates begin planning to abandon ship. When the letters first start trickling in, they generally take the publication off the website, upon receiving the letter. However, when the letters become a tidal wave and spill out of their inboxes, most know that if we’re catching on, so is law enforcement. At this point, many will take the site down, only to build a completely new one at a different IP address. A few of them are brazenly bold and have moved to countries without stringent copyright laws or extradition treaties.
So what is an author to do? Bing your name at least once a week. Read through looking for any web listing that comes up on the search of your name and look for the words: free, complimentary, unrestricted, and any other key word that jumps out at you. Once you find a pirate site, send them a DMCA letter. Be sure you specify the timeframe you are giving them to take it down. Make the maximum one week. If you are published through a publishing company, find out what their policy/procedure is for copyright theft. Some publishers prefer to do this for their authors, so they can make sure other publication from their lists are not on the site. Many will track all their listings on the site to make sure they are taken down. While you are awaiting a response, spread the word! Notify your publisher, fellow authors, editors, anyone else you think should know. Use social media. Alert fellow authors on Twitter, Facebook, GPlus, Check on the site to make sure it is taken down.
If the publication is not taken down within the specified timeframe, it is wide to report the theft to the FBI’s IC3 (Internet Crime Complaint Center) at If you are outside of the USA, check with your country’s investigative division to find out who the appropriate bureau is. With the massive volume of complaints they investigate, they may not get around to the site you report until they get a landslide of letters about the same one. So do not skip sending that letter. A sample letter will follow this post.
Hopefully, we can pitch in and alert each other any time we find one of these sites and prevent the loss of income as soon as possible.
Until next time, happy writing!
Sample: DMCA Letter

Re: Copyright Claim

To the ISP Hosting Company/company name:

I am the copyright owner of the eBooks being infringed at:

(place  site name/URL here)

This letter is official  notification under the provisions of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA") to effect removal of the above-reported infringements. I request that you immediately issue a cancellation message as specified in RFC 1036 for the specified postings and prevent the infringer, who is identified by its Web address, from posting the infringing material to your servers in the future. Please be advised that law requires you, as a service provider, to "expeditiously remove or disable access to" the infringing material upon receiving this notice. Noncompliance may result in a loss of immunity for liability under the DMCA.

I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of here is not authorized by me, the copyright holder, or the law. The information provided herein is accurate to the best of my knowledge. I swear under penalty of perjury that I am the copyright holder.

Please send me a prompt response at the address noted below, indicating the actions you have taken to resolve this matter.


(Name of Author)


Sunday, November 22, 2015


Fifty-two years later and the assassination of John F. Kennedy still remains a hot topic for debate. According to Bowker about one thousand five hundred books have been written about that day. Most propound an assortment of conspiracy theories from how the military industrial complex arranged the killing, to how the CIA framed Lee Harvey Oswald. LBJ held a meeting the night before the assassination with several powerful men from government, the oil industry, his own sister and members of the Bush family and planned his presidency. LBJ secretly cheered when Kennedy died.
Conspiracies abound. What are you waiting for? Read two or three of the books and write your own crazy concept of that day in Dallas.
I was young and idealistic, adored the Kennedy family and was devastated at his murder.
 We were driving down to the San Diego Zoo from Los Angeles when I saw a group of men clustered around a road construction truck. Wondering what they were listening to, I turned on the car radio and heard, “…if you can, go into a church and pray for our president.” That was followed by the sketchy details of the shooting. My husband asked if he should stop at the next town.
I said, “No. Last night I saw an upside down flag in the entrance to the hallway. I wondered what it meant, but now I know. The president is dead. There’s no point in praying for him to survive, because he didn’t.”
He stopped anyway and I dutifully went in, knelt at the altar railing and pretended to pray. It made him feel better as he waited outside with our two little girls.
We went on to the zoo.

On Sunday I watched television as Jack Ruby burst through the crowd and shot Lee Harvey Oswald. The immediate reactions started a multi-million dollar business of creating a multitude of conspiracies, but apparently still not enough to satisfy everyone.
I liked the idea of the Kennedys and Camelot. Then I grew up.

Veronica Helen Hart is the author of seven published books, including the award winning Prince of Keegan Bay, from Champagne Books, Elena-the Girl with the Piano, and Escape from Iran from Uppity Women Press. Pictured in the photo is Marie Louise McIntyre at the San Diego Zoo, November 22, 1963. "The gorilla looked sad."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Calling All Authors: Can You Relate?

Since it Veteran's Day as I write this(and it won't be long after Veteran's Day before it posts), (and Thanksgiving Day won't be far behind, and so why not be thankful to our vets on both days), I wanted to honor vets young and old, male and female.

I asked if there were any Veterans or spouses (or people who wrote stories of those people) who wanted to put their opinions and experiences here.

This is what I got:

Tammy Bailey says, 

In my military career, I have met the most amazing people and served with the most selfless souls. It has been an honor to know them and a blessing to call them family. To all who have fallen, to those who remain standing, their noble and gallant service to this country is remembered and honored on this Veterans Day.

Tammy L. Bailey (Author of "Lord Bachelor")

Coni Longdale says of her career,

"Mo of 4 and served 4 years in the US Army at 21.  I joined to escape my home life and get away.  I found travel, history, maturity and the respect for what I have in the USA and that is my freedom.  I am proud every day and instill that life is choices and education continues through life."

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Escape Velocity

As a writer of fantasy I often get readers (or potential readers) asking why I write ‘escapist’ literature. Why not something more true to life, gritty, and urgent? Something with guns and bombs and death and sex and violence? Or, more in line with my genre, something with megalomaniacal necromancers wielding armies of undead minions setting out to destroy the world (which seems awfully counterproductive, but who am I to judge?)

Of course, we read stories in order to experience how the hero(ine) solves the problems thrown at him or her, without having to experience those problems ourselves. It’s the classic “what-if?” by proxy. What if I was in an office building that was being taken over by terrorists (Die Hard)? What if I was the only one who could stop an evil sorcerer who wanted to rule the world (Harry Potter)? What if…?

I’ve nothing whatsoever against gritty, action-packed thrillers. I read them and enjoy them, as do millions of others. Lee Child? Definitely. Jim Butcher? Bring it on!

But sometimes, as Wordsworth said so eloquently, “the world is too much with us”. The recent terrorist attacks in Europe are a prime example. And so I write ‘escapist’ fantasy for exactly that reason. To provide escape. To give people a chance to get away, if only for a little while, from the guns and bombs and death and sex and violence shrieking out at us from any network news program (or the majority of TV shows).

There’s something to be said, I think, for escapist stories. They bring us out of the world that’s “too much with us” and allow us to regroup. To regain some equilibrium in this topsy-turvy, all-too-often violent existence of ours. There are still problems to solve in escapist stories—there must be conflict of some sort, or there’s no story. But in escapist literature, the hero isn’t normally out to save the world, just his little piece of it. And he's more likely to talk (or trick) his way out of problems then to kill off his adversaries. The heroine may find herself up a tree, figuratively speaking, but she’ll find her way down by being clever rather than by wholesale slaughter.

It’s a matter of degree, I guess. And perhaps a matter of wit. Wit in both senses of its definition.

            Wit (n): 1) mental sharpness and inventiveness; 2) a natural aptitude for using words and ideas in a quick and inventive way to create humor.

I like to think that my characters solve their problems by using not only their wits, but also their wit. And that ability to utilize “mental sharpness and inventiveness” combined with a dash of humor provides an example that can be beneficial to anyone trying to overcome their own challenges in life. You can’t often solve your problems with mayhem, a la Jack Reacher. But you can frequently solve them by using your wit and wits. I don’t think this is a bad place to be. So I’ll take the escape, please, and see what I can learn. 


 Keith W. Willis is the author of the (decidedly escapist) fantasy TRAITOR KNIGHT, a light-hearted look at dragons, damsels and deception mingled with spies, scoundrels and swashbucklers. 

 twitter: @kilbourneknight

The more I learn about people, the better I like my dragon.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Muse of Poetry

Further to my blog post last year about being a dreaded teenage poet, here is proof I still write poetry and can’t quite give it up! The poem is based on old Norse legends about Yggdrasil, the World Tree. The inspiration came from reading a wonderful book titled; The Element Encyclopedia of Fairies by Lucy Cooper, an inspiring book that demonstrates so aptly how reading other writer’s work is one of the best muses. I would also like to mention there are nine muses which is just one of those fun coincidences writers often find when branching out in their reading. My diverse reading this month alone has taken me from fairies to game wardens!
                                                                                                          The Nine Worlds of The Vale

Say come fly with me across the Northern Sea,

Mount the rainbow bridge of Asgard gods for free,

Touch the hand of a king in Avalon asleep,

Kiss Excalibur, bow your head, and follow me,

All still alive on Yggdrasil our World Tree.


The land of Alfheim of pixies and elves to pay a fee,

Find worldly giants in Jotunheim, bend a knee,

Trail through Nidavellir the world of dwarves seek,

Beware of Hel’s Goddess hidden the ground beneath,

All still alive on Yggdrasil our World Tree.


Vanaheim gods and goddesses still fear,

Stay clear of Muspellheim of fire and tear,

And Svartalfheim’s elves of dark and seer,

Midgard alone to humans guard near,

All still waiting on Yggdrasil our World Tree.


                                                                   January Bain

                                                         Forever Series of Novels

                                                         From Champagne Books


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Strange Things I'm Thankful For

I hope everyone enjoys an attitude of gratitude, but it seems at least in November, people are reminded to count their blessings. With the up coming Thanksgiving holiday we are reminded of blessings we are thankful for such as our families, pets, friends and freedom. If we have been blessed with a roof over our heads, food on the table and our health, these are necessities we may take for granted. What about being grateful for everything, including a few things we never think of. A few strange things everyone can be thankful for include:

Puss: It might be gross, but while I was in college, the nursing students wore badges for national puss day. If anyone asked them about the badge, they had to explain the benefits of oozing puss. This gross little miracle is the body's reaction to rid it's self of infection. It wasn't very appealing in the cafeteria lunch line. Of course back in those days, it was never appealing in the cafeteria lunch line.

Gravity: Makes life easier to function, but if I think about it, at my age gravity is a blessing and a curse.

Toothbrush and grooming products: I know you all know someone that doesn't take advantage of these blessings, but aren't you glad you can?

Strange things am I personally thankful for:

Discovery Id® True Crime Shows: No matter how bad my day is, compared to the people in these shows, it isn't that bad.

Coffee: Actually you should be all thankful I drink coffee or I could be featured on Discovery ID some days.

Let's hear from you, share something you're thankful for that wouldn't normally make the “I'm thankful for...” list.

 I'm author Victoria Roder and I write something for everyone from mystery novels, ghost stories to children's picture books and middle grade reads. Don't forget to check out my teen/adult puzzle books and children's coloring book. Coming soon from Champagne Books Group my first comedy mystery, Wine, Friends and Murder.  

Friday, November 13, 2015


We have been in a short story frame of mind.  So, once again, with a slant toward the upcoming holidays, we'd like to share another.  Enjoy!

What Holiday Is It Anyway?

“It’s time.”
“For what?”
“Winter Solstice.”
“It feels like spring.”
“Doesn’t matter,” said Miranda, all of eight with the adultness of thirty-eight.  “Today is the day of the year that the Sun is farthest south.  It marks the first day of the season of winter, and is the shortest day and longest night of the year.”
The two of them sat opposite each other in the window seat staring out into a gray, raining day.  The swags and greenery that decorated the Odessa homes looked limp and uninterested, rather than buoyant as they had just a couple weeks earlier.  The only redeeming aspect of the landscape was the girl’s view of the January House’s artistically decorated mail box with its greenery, red bow and white lettering, the house set off in the distance partly hidden by bare branches of the many trees and bushes.  Otherwise, rain faded the world, mud pools replaced snow that had come early and then regretfully melted.
“Usually it is cold,” insisted her younger sister, Julian, by three years.  “It would make more sense if it were snowing.”
“December 22nd or sometimes the 21st is the Winter Solstice regardless of what the weather is like.”
“Is all that in the book you’re reading?”
“Yup.  I got it out of the library yesterday,” she said, holding up the hardbound book from her lap.
“I got The Okapi.”
“That’s a good story.  You’re going to like it.”
“Want to read it to me?”
“Sure, in a bit.  I want to read some more about the Solstice, first.”
“What’s it say?”
Hunching up her knees, Miranda placed the book there and read, “In ancient Rome, The Festival of Saturnalia, which marked the end of the harvest season was a time for joyous celebration and reverent thanksgiving.”
“Wow, they had Thanksgiving in Rome?  Did they invite Indians?”
“It wasn’t like our traditional Thanksgiving, and I doubt they invited Indians since the Americas weren’t discovered back then.”
“Oh,” the younger girl said, looking a bit saddened at the thought of no Indians.
“In our Gregorian calendar, Saturnalia coincides with the Winter Solstice,” Miranda continued to read, “a cosmic occurrence in anticipation of mystery.  The Romans used the Julian calendar and the Winter Solstice or Brumalia occurred on December 25th.”
“Julian?  I have a calendar all my own?”
“No, it’s just called that.”
“Oh,” she said picking at her jumper, making tiny teepees and again looking disappointed, and then saying, “December 25th is Christmas.”
Miranda looked as surprised as her sister.  “Yup, and listen to this.  The Romans decorated their homes and communities with glowing candles, greenery swags and wreaths of holly, cypress and laurel.”
The girls took another look at the homes beyond, and the red and green bows and evergreen suddenly looked perky. 
Miranda returned to her book.  “They had huge public feasts.  They exchanged gifts and greetings of good will.”
“Wow, Christmas started before it was actually Christmas.”
“Who knows, I think it has something to do with a Roman Emperor maybe eventually combining Christmas with some of the traditions of their Winter Solstice.”
 “I’m glad he did, especially the gift part and the decorating part and the party part.  I wonder if they made chocolate chip cookies?”
“Maybe not chocolate chip, but they probably had sweets.”
“I wonder if they had snow.  Don’t you wish it was snowing?  Then we could build a snowman.”  Julian huffed air on the windowpane and then drew a snowman in the foggy cloud it created.
“It’s cold enough to do that,” said Miranda, and then put her book aside as the mature Miranda morphed back into her age.  Wanna build a mudman?”
Both girls grinned. 


We'd love to hear from anyone interested in what we do. Anyone who writes us at (Write - Blog in subject line) and leaves an s-mail address, we will send you a gift and add you to any future mailings.

Angelica Hart and Zi ~ Vixen Bright and Zachary Zane - -