Saturday, June 25, 2011

$.99 SALE!!!

 $.99 $.99 $.99 $.99  $.99 $.99 $.99

YES! You read that right! You can purchase Wayward Soul for $.99 right now at AMAZON  and at BARNES AND NOBLE. YIPPEEE!!! I'm posting the book blurb and chapter one below so you can check it out.


When Zanna Seoul accidentally causes the death of a fellow spirit guide’s charge while trying to save the life of the man she loves, she is stripped of her position and banished to Earth to die. In the spirit world, one doesn’t mess with what’s written.

With Zanna no longer guiding him and his memory of her erased, Owen Nash is left wide open as the target of the vengeful spirit guide who feels he’s been wronged. A guide who also happens to be a werewolf. Once on Earth, Zanna refuses to stand by and watch Owen die, so she intervenes again, setting off a chain of events that could mean death for all of them if she doesn’t go back and undo the mess she’s made. Can Zanna succeed before the werewolf does?


Chapter One
“Owen, please don’t go to work today.”
Zanna slapped a hand over her mouth. Did she just say that out loud? What the heck was she trying to do? She was Owen’s spirit guide for goodness sake. Her job was to make sure he followed his charted course while living on Earth. To be the invisible force that directed him toward which decision to make. She knew better than to try and change fate. If his chart said he was supposed to die, that was that. His life had already been mapped out from beginning to end before he was born and it was pretty much
set in stone. Unfortunately, right now she wasn’t his spirit guide, but the woman who loved him.
“Did you say something?” Owen asked from the kitchen.
Zanna stiffened. If she hadn’t already been sitting on his sofa, she would have fallen to the floor. Had Owen heard her? “No, nothing.” Yes. Please don’t go to work. Stay here. Stay safe.
“Do you need me to drive you home? I appreciate you staying here last night with Jamie and getting him off to school,” Owen said, walking back to the living room with two cups of coffee. He sat down on the coffee table and handed her a cup.
“No, I’ll be fine,” Zanna said. I need to go look at your chart on the other side and see if there’s any way to stop you from dying.
“If you keep staring at me like that, I’m gonna to be late for work.” He smiled, revealing the dimple in his right cheek.
Inspiration struck. Maybe she was forbidden from telling Owen to stay home, but if he made the choice on his own…
“Well, we can’t have that, Lieutenant Nash.” She leaned forward, sat the coffee down, and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him on the couch with her.
Desire flashed in Owen’s eyes. “Forget work. I spent all night chasing the bad guy.” His mouth captured hers, urging her lips to part. The minute they did, he deepened the kiss and her conscience receded to a distant part of her mind. Zanna ran her fingers down Owen’s sides and around his back, pulling him closer, her hands dipping lower.
Breathless, Owen broke the kiss to ask, “Are you sure? I mean, I know you want to wait…”
Was she sure? As one of the few spirit guides who had never lived on earth as a human before, she didn’t have a lot of experience in the romantic depart. Slowly, she emerged from the blissful daydream where she was trying to find a place to hide from the impossible dilemma she faced.
Do my job and let Owen die or save him and risk causing bedlam on Earth. Why did it have to be written in his chart that he had to die? Would it really be so disastrous if he lived?
“Earth to Zanna,” Owen said.
“I’m sorry. Did you say something?”
Owen furrowed his eyebrows. “Yeah, I asked if you wanted to stop. I’m sorry. I freaked you out, didn’t I?”
Zanna took his face in her hands. “No, you didn’t scare me at all. It’s just—”
“It’s fine, I get it. I’m sorry.” Owen pushed back off the couch and moved to the door. “I gotta go to work.” He grabbed his gun and badge off the shelf by the door and turned the handle. He released the handle and raked his hand through his hair. With a loud sigh, he removed the gun and put it back on the shelf and then walked back to Zanna. He took both her hands in his and placed a tender kiss on her lips. Tears of relief streamed down her cheek.
“Please don’t cry. I hate it when you cry. I was a jerk.”
“I didn’t mean…It’s not you…It’s just…It’s just…” It’s just that if you go to work, you’ll be killed and I’ll lose you.
He caressed her face with his thumbs. “Why don’t I call and have Smitty bring me the reports I need to finish, and we can spend the day doing whatever you want,” Owen offered.
Zanna’s heart sang with joy. “Yes!”
Owen gave her a sheepish smile. “Okay. Let me call work and then I’ll be all yours.” He opened his phone and dialed.
Zanna fell back on the couch, relief washing through her. Her mind reeled trying to figure out how this was possible. How had it been so easy to keep Owen from going
to work, when his chart said he would end up being shot and killed in the line of duty today?
His voice had taken on a somber note. The laughter completely gone. The way he said her name sent cold shivers up and down her spine. She couldn’t look up, didn’t want to see the solemn expression on his face. She started to tremble and beads of perspiration broke out on her temple. If she didn’t get a grip, she wouldn’t be able to maintain her
physical body and it would be cast back to the spirit side. Owen would then drop dead from shock at watching her disappear.
He sat beside her on the sofa and placed his hand on her forehead. “Are you o—”
His cell phone started chirping. Cursing under his breath, he answered. “Nash.”
Zanna couldn’t hear what the caller was saying, but from the way Owen’s jaw tightened and the vein on the side of his neck throbbed, it wasn’t good.
“I’m on my way.” He snapped the phone closed then tossed in on the table. “I’m so sorry, Zanna. We have a really good lead on the guy we think’s been killing all these young girls. I have to follow it. Why don’t you stay here and wait for me.”
Her throat was so tight she couldn’t speak, so she just gave him a tight smile and nodded.
“Don’t hate me. You know I wouldn’t go if I didn’t have to.”
“I love you, Owen,” she said, her eyes intent.
He pressed his lips to her brow. “Why, I don’t know, but I’m glad you do. I love you, too. Wait for me.”
A few minutes later, she was alone in Owen’s house. Frozen in place, hoping time would stand still.
I can’t lose him. I don’t care what his fate is supposed to be! Think, think, think. There has to be a way to stop Owen from dying without causing chaos and destruction to ensue.
Now Zanna understood why spirit guides were only permitted to take on a physical form to help a charge as a last resort. Why too much interaction between a life director and the human they helped protect was forbidden. The temptation to rewrite a person’s destiny, which in turn would cause pandemonium, was too great. She picked a pillow up off the couch and screamed into it, loud. There was nothing she could do to save Owen.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


I Feel a Contraction Coming On

If I had to pick the one mistake I see writers make over and over it would be that they don’t use contractions. I’m serious. This is by far the biggest correction I make when editing a manuscript. Was not to wasn’t, is not to isn’t, are not to aren’t…the list is endless.

This is jarring to read, it interrupts the flow of the story, and it makes the writing seem choppy. Fiction is supposed to sound natural, and when we speak, we use contractions. Here are some examples from my book Wayward Soul. Read them out loud and see which example sounds better:
A - Please do not go to work. Stay here. Stay safe.
B - Please don’t go to work. Stay here. Stay safe.
A - “Well, we cannot have that, Lieutenant Nash.”
B - “Well, we can’t have that, Lieutenant Nash.”
A - Zanna took his face in her hands. “No, you did not scare me at all.”
B - Zanna took his face in her hands. “No, you didn’t scare me at all.”
A - “Please do not cry. I hate it when you cry. I was a jerk.”
B - “Please don’t cry. I hate it when you cry. I was a jerk.”
Even if you read these examples to yourself, the sentences that don’t have contractions probably felt awkward. The others, more natural and easier to follow. I guarantee this small change will make a world of difference in your manuscript.

On the other side of the coin, sometimes it’s better not to use a contraction. For instance, if you want to add emphasis like in this example from my short story The Ballad of Brenda and Willard:

A - “I cannot believe that you care so little about me that you don’t even remember our anniversary. How dare you. Our anniversary is not March tenth.”
B - “I can’t believe that you care so little about me that you don’t even remember our anniversary. How dare you. Our anniversary isn’t March tenth.”
Either scenario above would work, however example A clearly helps show the character’s emotion and anger just a tad better. This is part of developing your voice as a writer. Just don’t overdo it.
No matter how many times you edit your manuscript, you’ll likely miss some of these. The best way to find them, and avoid spending hours reading and re-reading your story, is to use FIND and REPLACE feature in your word processing program like this:

Whala! Simple. Easy. You can repeat this process to fix any words that should be contracted.

Another alternative is to just use the Find function and search for the word NOT, for example, then click the Reading Highlight button and Highlight all.

This is the quickest way to find words that should be turned into contractions, but it’s certainly not the easiest way to fix them because once you click in the document and make a change, the highlights disappear and you have to repeat the process. However, this will without a doubt ensure you haven’t missed anything. So my advice is to use the table below to help you figure out which words should be contracted, use the Find/Replace function to fix them, and then use the Find function with Highlight to double check yourself.

This list isn’t all inclusive and there may still be some contractions that you miss, but just this one change will make your manuscript much better and more appealing to those publishers when you send it outJ

Saturday, June 18, 2011


It's a Father's Day Six Sentence Sunday!!!! Hope it's a happy one for all! I get to honor my father and remind everyone about a great anthology that I'm a part of for Astraea Press. My six sentences come from Matrimonial Mayhem. So without further ado, here's my six from The Ballad of Brenda and Willard.

My parents’ wedding is the stuff of legends; urban legends, that is. You know what I’m talking about. One of those things where your friend’s cousin’s brother’s uncle’s sister-in-law was there, but you never hear the person’s name or actually speak to them. In fact, my mother never signed the marriage application or license. Well, she was only fifteen and so legally she couldn’t, but if not her, then who did? It’s a mystery I intend to unravel.
Oh, what a story it is! Plus, the five other great stories you get. Just click HERE. For $5 you get a great read and help the tornado victims. Also, don't forget to go check out all the other great posts for Six Sentence Sunday.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Workshop Wednesday with Kay Springsteen

Why Your Book Needs a Realtor

This is it! You’ve decided to move. Maybe your house is too big, maybe it’s too small. Maybe you just want to live someplace else. Either way,you’ve decided you’re finished with the house you’re living in. It’s time to sell it. To do that, you have to put it on the market. So let’s say you’ve been living in this house long enough to get comfortable. You’ve made a few improvements, tweaked a few things. Maybe you’ve put on an addition. And along the way, your kids have grown, so you’ve added growth charts with some cute little nicks in the woodwork of their bedroom doors. Nothing big, and it’s so cute and heartwarming, you just know the house’s next owners will want to preserve those marks forever like you were doing.
And, well, maybe getting in and out of the master bath is a bit awkward because the door sticks, but if you just give it a tiny kick, it opens just fine. Yes, those stains on the carpet are a tad unsightly, but—hey, it was New Year’s Eve of 2000 and Auntie Em thought the world was about to end when the clock struck midnight, so she was chugging the grape juice. And when the countdown ended and the neighbor shot off his gun…yeah, maybe that’s not as cute now that 2012 is approaching and Auntie Em likes prune juice.
So your house has some quirks that not every prospective owner is going to love…some might even hate them. What do you do? You clean it up. And since you have a hard time with destroying the evidence of some of your best memories, maybe an objective opinion is called for.
You wouldn’t consider selling your house without cleaning it up and having a third party (AKA your realtor) evaluate what you still need to do to show it off successfully, right?
So why would you consider doing anything less for that story you’ve been sweating over for the past several months or even years?
You’ve built your world, met your characters, introduced them to the world, added in a plot so they have tasks to accomplish. You’ve given then a voice and shown them participating in activities that lead to other activities. You’ve crafted a heart-stopping climax and finished with a breathtaking flourish. You’re ready to submit to a publisher and take that bow into the world of publication, right?
No one tells the perfect tale in a flawless fashion. We’re all human – more human than the characters we’ve created, actually. We’re bound to miss a period or a set of quotation marks. We probably have too many commas or a misplaced modifier. We may even…gasp! We might have a plot hole or two.
So, your story isn’t 100%. What do you do? You can send it in and risk rejection before the acquisitions editor reads past the second or third page. Or you can polish it.
Oh, you’ve already polished it? What about page 17, where your character said she hasn’t been home in 10 years, and then on page 24, she says she’s been away for 11 years?
It’s easy to miss the small details by being too close to the story you wrote. And it’s those small details the reader is going to notice and say, “Wait a minute!” 
So after you realize you’ve done as much as you can with the story, what do you do? You call a realtor. Or at least a critique partner or a group of them. You need someone to look over your work. Someone who will be able to look at what you’ve crafted with a…well, a critical eye. An objective party. Not the spouse, who will either joke your story’s foibles away or not get it. Not your best friend who will gush about your work because, well, you wrote a book!
You need someone with strong grammar and usage skills, someone who understands fiction and how it’s written. The best critique partners are other authors—this also gives you a chance to critique their work for them to return the favor. Trust me, every time you critique someone else’s work, you will learn also.
Now, I’ve developed a partnership of trust and fun with my critique partners. When they point things out, they’re not trying to undermine me or say my work stinks. They’re giving me insights that I can’t have about my work because I’ve been looking at these pages for so long I overlook things. They’re helping me improve and become a better writer.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t have fun at it. My Achilles heel is the difference between lay and lie. I even tried to teach myself to remember the difference by remembering that chickens lay and people lie. But I frequently miss it because it’s one of those things I grew up with: “The shirt was laying on the floor.” It’s a family colloquialism.
So, what do my crit partners do? They cluck-cluck like chickens whenever they find I’ve done this. We have fun with it because writing fiction, through all its processes, should be fun. Otherwise, why do it?
I trust my crit partners with my baby. I may or may not agree with everything they tell me, but the things they find are things at least I am made aware of. Sometimes, I don’t agree with them and yet I can see I’m not right either, and at such times, critique partners are great persons to brainstorm with. “Obviously plan A isn’t working, so what do you think might fix it?”
As a writer, you owe it to yourself and to the story you’ve been working so hard on, to include crit partners in the process. They are your first line of editing so you can present the most polished manuscript possible to the publisher. And believe me, if you can’t take what a trusted critique partner says without folding, you will have problems when your book goes into the publisher’s editing stage. A crit partner will help you polish your work for the editor to prepare for publication. An editor, on the other hand, has a job to do, and that is to spin your work into gold for your readers to enjoy to the fullest possible extent. The more polished your submission, the easier the process of editing will go.
If you need further convincing about the benefits of a critique partner, consider this personal story. Based on my tag line and brief synopsis, I was invited to a chat pitch with a major publishing house’s top editor. I became finger-tied (the equivalent of tongue-tied) and completely bombed the chat. However, this editor obviously sensed my nervousness, and she changed her question tactic. She asked if I had a critique partner or group, and I told her yes. She asked what they thought of the work, and I told her they liked it. She then asked me for a full submission directed to her attention. Why? She confided to me that my pitch was weak but the fact that I worked with critique partners showed a level of professionalism and dedication, and she knew the manuscript would be more polished than if I submitted it with just my own editing. Editors want the submission to be as polished as you can get it, too. Critique partners are your first line of defense to make sure you get that sought after acceptance letter.
Critique partners can be found in various writing groups at ( is one; others can be found using the search function, and at Also, has a forum in the community tab, where you can reach out to and connect with other writers.

Thanks so much, Kay, for such wonderful information. It is VITAL that you have crit partners to help you with preparing your manuscript. I see book on a daily basis that speak poorly about the author because of errors that could have been avoided. Writing partners will ensure you put your best foot forward.

I hope this was helpful. please check out my post last week on Formatting Your Manuscript and I hope you'll visit my Workshop Wednesday next week:)