guest post: Accidental Sorcerers print version released

Katherine here: I made Larry's acquaintance via the Friday Flash on-line writing group, and have enjoyed reading (and reviewing) his short stories and novels. It's a true honour to host the cover reveal for the print version of Accidental Sorcerers.

Over to Larry:

Together, we are stronger.

With eBook sales passing 20,000, the Accidental Sorcerers novellas are coming to print in August 2015, with the release of the first three stories in a single paperback. Join Mik Dragonrider, his love and fellow apprentice Sura, and their mentor (and Sura's father) Bailar the Blue, as they journey Termag and stumble into new adventures. A sorcerer's life is supposed to be sedate, but trouble has a way of challenging these three.

In the first book, Accidental Sorcerers, Mik begins his sorcerous career by awakening an ice dragon — and living to tell about it. He finds his mentor, a new life, a first love… and more adventure!

The tale continues in Water and Chaos. The Conclave of Sorcerers sends Bailar, Sura, and Mik to Mik's hometown, hoping to recruit other youths with sorcerous talent. But a misunderstanding sends Mik far away, on his own, to uncover the secrets of a nest of rogue sorcerers.

The Sorcerer's Daughter begins with Bailar teaching Sura and Mik more combat magic, so they in turn can teach it to beginning apprentices. But when Sura discovers her high-born ancestry, and the price it carries, they may need all that training to escape!

The stories carry on… and a second collection (Books 4-6) is planned for a Spring 2016 release!

There will also be a companion eBook. People who buy the paperback can get the eBook free though the Kindle Matchbook program.

Author bio:

Larry Kollar lives in north Georgia, surrounded by kudzu, trees, and in-laws. His day job involves writing user manuals—some of which may have been fiction, but not by intent. He has had short fictional works published in the Hogglepot Journal, the Were-Traveler, and the anthology Best of Friday Flash, Vol. 2. Longer works include his first novel, White Pickups, and the popular Accidental Sorcerers series. For more of his strange fiction, and even stranger reality:


For first looks and exclusive offers, join Larry’s “Fleet Commanders” mailing list:

guest post: how do you find the right writer's group?

One of the things I love about writing is that I can do it all by myself. I can be quiet and retreat into my own thoughts. I tend to lose all track of time.

Unfortunately, that aloneness can also be the biggest drawback to being a writer. It is likely that your friends and family don’t understand how your brain processes things or get the jargon you use to describe your work. And that is when you need to be in the company of writers.

I just finished volunteering at the Willamette Writers Conference, which I do nearly every year. I get a total jolt of inspiration and excitement when I attend. And I love being surrounded by people who know that WIP means work in progress. It’s such a great sense of camaraderie I can’t get anywhere else.

I was lucky in that I stumbled across Willamette Writers soon after my first book was published and I started devoting time to fiction. It was a good fit for me.

But it doesn’t always work out as easily for other writers, especially if you’re looking for a critique group, where fit is of great importance. So, how can you tell if you’re in the right group?

First, make sure the topics of discussion are suited to your career level.

When I interviewed J. Anderson Coats for Pacific Northwest Writers, one of the things we talked about was the group of writers she connected with online. They were all in the midst of getting their first book published, so they spoke the same language, were dealing with the same concerns, and had the same fears and excitements.

You’ll want to make sure that you’re working with a group of writers who can understand the career phase you are in so that you can all support each other and grow together.

Second, you must feel comfortable giving and receiving feedback. The type of feedback offered in critique groups can vary widely, from no-holds-barred editing to kind and gentle sandwiches of positive feedback – opportunity for improvement – positive feedback.

There was a scene in season 1 of Jane the Virgin where she didn’t read the instructions on feedback and wrote some feedback for one of the writers that didn’t fit with the goals of the group. There were madcap antics as she tried to take back the cards she’d written her notes on — and tears as the person receiving the criticism wasn’t emotionally prepared to hear what Jane had to say. Make sure you’re on board with the goals of the group so you can give and get the best critiques of your work.

Have you been part of a writer’s group? What was your experience like? Tell us in the comments below. 


Author Bio: Jennifer Roland is a freelance and marketing writer with more than twenty years' experience in newspaper, magazine, and marketing environments. Jennifer also works as a virtual assistant to writers, helping them build their online presence and connect with readers so they can focus on what they love — writing.

She loves fiction and writes that under the name Jennifer C. Rodland. She hopes to put all of the lessons she learned writing this book into getting more of that published.

Find Jennifer online:



guest post: get off the couch

The couch is a magical, wonderful place to a modern human. Mine is a large sectional littered with pillows, embraced by shuttered windows that open on cooler days, closed off on one side by a pair of French doors into a peaceful sanctuary during Daddy's morning quiet time. The walls of this sanctuary slap you with tomato red (we call it The Red Room), and placed on the far wall, hanging at a slight angle, hovering above us on its throne, its altar, its pedestal, is a 70" Sony, leaning toward us in anticipation. Sony is a jealous god, demanding in worship, seductive with its many recorded shows and one-click movies. After Daddy's quiet time (which begins around 4AM, and ends around 8AM), Sony booms out its commandments, thou shalt buy this, thou shalt buy that, and thus and thus, lest thou misseth this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and be damned forever to the sulfury pit of higher prices. It tells us who we should hate, who we should love, where our beliefs in it and other gods should lie. It molds us into obedient citizens, or incites us to riotous disobedience. It demands thus and thus, and so on, pleading for our attention, insistent, threatening, irrefutable because it will not, cannot hear your pleas and complaints.

Sony booms and stomps through my house as a smaller demigod cradles my lap. Similar, yet different, this deity demands to be touched and tapped, seducing me with fingers not so jealous as Sony. Hewlett-Packard warms my legs with a fan. It stokes my ego with virtual discussions. It provides money for my home, such that I might tithe 10% to the gods of Sony, and to the priests and priestesses who serve it, with a smaller portion to this demigod for its seemingly lesser service.

This second god is humbler, yet no less demanding. While Sony cannot possess me, HP often bows me for hours at its altar, hunched over the keyboard as life — yes, LIFE — happens around me. My young son, sixteen months old, has learned that he need only close the lid to rouse me. So he walks over and presses the lid shut. Stop it, Finn, I say to him. He laughs. I huff, because I am in the middle of something important.

Ah. Something important. I look up. Sony booms at me that I must act now, before it is too late. Now for the news. Apparently I am supposed to hate so and so now, and am no longer allowed to hate so and so. Used to be the other way around. Oh Mr. Orwell, where are you now?

And what is so important anyway, that I cannot rise and play with my son? Well, I am working, and this clamshell contraption is the means by which I earn what, not money, oh no not that, but digital numbers on a banking website, gone before I have time to register the sum in my log book. But who's counting those numbers, and haven't I worked enough for one day? Should I, dare I, shall I disembark from the couch?

And so I do. I let Mr. Finn, Finny-Finny-Foo-Foo as I call him, close the lid. Little Finny-Foo-Foo, gonna make a poo poo, in my diaper, now I need a wiper. That's what I sing-song as I rise, and my wife, stressed because she works in his daycare, stressed because she makes dinner (I clean, so hush up), says, Why don't you take Finn outside to play?

Boy, he hears that and becomes a blur of chunky little bowlegs out those French doors, through the breakfast nook, through the second living area, me rising and loping after him through the playroom, and he's slapping his hands on the front door.

Get off the couch, Daddy. That's all he wants. And we explore the world outside as I did with my older children, teenagers now, both of them recalling sometimes that October swarm of frogs we witnessed, bagging seventeen of them and releasing them at the creek. They recall Ghost Tree, our hikes through the woods, our campouts, how we found a pair of owls and listened to them hoot back at one another. My older son says, Remember when I saved your life from that snake?

Yeah, I say. I just about stepped on a water moccasin, wearing flip-flops. One foot-width to the right, that close, inches, would have earned me a couple of holes in my heel, no doubt about it, right outside my apartment because it backed up to some woods with a winding creek leading out to a drainage dam.

They recall the trip to Colorado, Estes Park, and the week in the Stanley Hotel, home of Stephen King's The Shining. They recall other vacations, other hikes, other adventures, as does my wife, and as will my youngest, still scribing this first chapter of his life and running into the next grand adventure with his arms thrown up and his throat bleating baby chirps and giggles and words that mean something only to the parents and his siblings.

These things I know, and we write what we know, don't we? I know more than the couch. I know more than Sony and HP let on. I draw on this experience when I write, rousing characters who reach into my readers and touch places they forgot were there. I almost stepped on a snake, too, one says. I stayed at the Stanley, too, says another. And so on. We cross paths with our readers, and we cannot do that from the couch.

We must lift ourselves up, off the cushions, let life close the lid on HP and stuff the mouth of Sony with blackness. It only takes one click of the thumb to redeem yourself. Click. Rise. Live.

Then, when you brew your coffee, return to the couch, crack your fingers, and resurrect HP during that morning quietude you have carved out for yourself and those blank pages you fight and struggle with and beat your head against every morning, then you'll have something to write about.

You'll have stories.

Now, off with you.


About the Author

Eric W. Trant is a published author of several short stories and the novels Wink and Steps from WiDo Publishing, out now! See more of Eric's work at:

About Steps, Eric's latest book:

Steps is a well written science fiction novel you won’t want to put down. Following the Peacemaker family through their battle of survival will keep you on the edge of your seat as you wait to see what obstacle is next.

Society is falling to a ravaging virus, and the Peacemaker family is stranded in the mountains of Arkansas. Forced to band with a group of deserted soldiers, they battle to survive starvation, apocalyptic cataclysms, and a growing number of dangerously infected wanderers.
As their dwindling number struggles against ever-increasing odds, they realize they are not alone in the wilderness. A large creature is present in the hills, at first seen only as a fleeting shadow.

Now the family not only faces impending death from the unstoppable virus, they must also deal with the mysterious giant, whose footprints signify that he knows where they are.

Paperback: 218 Pages
Genre: Sci Fi
Publisher: WiDo Publishing (May 21, 2015)

Twitter hashtag: #StepsTrant
Steps  is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon

guest post: it's never too late to dream

Remember when, as children, we were asked, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For most of us the answer ranged anywhere from being the President of the United States to a Flight Attendant. Perhaps you said you wanted to be a Police Officer, a Fire Fighter, a Teacher, or a Doctor. Most kids answered with something that meant security and/or prestige in their minds.

Did you strive for that dream? Did you become what you dreamed of so long ago? If not, don’t feel alone. After all, not all of us could be the President, right?

So what dream took the place of that childhood ideal? I remember I wanted to be a Stewardess—that’s what they were called “back in my day.” After that I wanted to join the Navy, because I scored very high on the ASVAB test. Neither of those things happened. Instead, I followed the expectations laid out for me by my parents and community. I graduated, got married, and had kids.

Now don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with the path I followed. I have two kids that mean the world to me. I wouldn’t trade them for anything, and would want to hurt anyone who harms them.
For over three decades I did what was expected of me as an adult. The unfortunate side-effect, though, was that I thought my dreams no longer mattered. That my dreams and wishes could never happen because they didn’t line up with being the wife/mother/homemaker that I was.

Chasing a dream is seen as a “young person’s” right, not someone who is on the back side of their 30s, 40s, and older. But guess what? Here’s the thing to remember…

Our dreams do not come with expiration dates!

And we are allowed to change what our dreams and goals are.

Yes, I’m too old to go into the Navy, and I’m too overweight to be a Flight Attendant. But that doesn’t mean I’m ready to be put up on a shelf to begin collecting dust. I can still dream…and so can YOU.

Way down deep inside me there was that little child’s wish to write stories. That voice had been quite thoroughly muffled, until a friend helped me discover it. It was time to let that dream see the light of day. Allowing that dream to blossom and grow, has changed my life completely.

Reigniting that long-buried dream has been the best thing I could do for me at this point in my life. I believe this dream wouldn’t have worked for me earlier in life. I needed to live the life I have to gain perspective on the world as a whole. My life to date has been fuel for this dream. And there is no looking back!

How about you? What did you want to be “when you grew up?” How about now; has that dream expanded or changed completely? I encourage you to reach for your own fuel, and feed that dream! Drop a note, if you like, to share your dream. I would love to hear about it.

About the Book:

Penny’s Story” — Penny was supposed to be dead. At least that is what Claire has believed for ten years. Find out what happens when Claire's sister comes out of the Witness Protection Program. Penny is fighting a losing battle with cancer and needs Claire to raise Sunny, Penny's newborn daughter, once the cancer takes its final toll. Why is Penny's ex-boyfriend, Jason, telling his cronies that Penny has money and information about their illegal dealings? How does the cartel find out she has even left the Witness Protection Program? 

Will Marko have to watch as another woman he cares for dies a horrible death? Will he lose his job as Medical Officer on the starship for bending the rules? Can Pacer finally have the peaceful retirement he desires? How will Claire deal with her quiet life being turned upside down? Catch up with Maggie and Daxon, along with Shirley and Mathenzo.

Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Amazon Digital Services (November 30, 2014)
All of the Intergalactic Matchmaking Services books are available as an e-book on Amazon.

About the Author:

Ava Louise was born a U.S. Army brat overseas, in France. She is the proud mom of two wonderful young men. It's taken her a while to figure out what she wanted to be "when she grows up," but Ava has finally found her niche in the writing world. Since writing came to her later in life, she likes to think she is living proof that it's never too late to reach for a dream or to achieve it. Before writing her own stories, she usually reads from a wide array of genres. She loves Science-Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, Mysteries, Thrillers, and Young Adult.

Website and blog:

guest post: Choosing What DOESN’T Make it into the Final Draft

Recently a reader asked me about the sources I used for my novel, Thieving Forest. I sent her this picture:

Actually, I sent her that picture plus two more like it: my index cards listing all the books, journal articles, and web sites I consulted as research. I also filled three index card boxes with the notes I took using those sources, and only one box is filled with the details that actually made it into the novel.

What got left out?

Well, a lot, obviously! I once had a writing teacher who used to say that the most important thing about writing a scene is keeping everything extraneous out. But when you’re writing historical fiction, the odd details of dress and food and setting are needed to create the unfamiliar world you’re describing, and to give a sense of verisimilitude.

But too much detail can overwhelm a reader and slow down the plot. And a novel like Thieving Forest, where a lot happens in the course of five months, requires details that enhance without stopping the action.

So all the details I chose had to do double-duty. They had to color the world, yes, but they also had to suggest an atmosphere or the state of mind of a character. If the character is feeling indecisive and penned-in, I might add a detail about the low, sloped ceiling of the room. If she’s feeling hungry and dirty, maybe I’ll write a sentence about the skinny, muddy cattails she’s walking through.

However, I could not have begun to make these kinds of choices had I not known what kind of houses were built in European settlements in Ohio in 1806, or what flora and fauna existed in the Great Black Swamp. I love languages, so I wanted to include Native American dialogue. I did a search on a few tribes that I knew lived in Ohio at that time and found an online Wyandot dictionary. And so I made the choice even before I began writing, based on the existence of this dictionary, that the most prominent tribe in my novel would be Wyndot.

What details didn’t make it into the novel? That cheluchelus is the word for cricket in Lenni Lenape (previously known as Delaware). That antelope once roamed freely in Columbus. That sod houses were often called soddies. Some great details had to be deleted because they required too much explanation or backstory. Some because the characters wouldn’t know in 1806 what I know now.

But in any case, I learned an enormous amount, and I had fun trying to fit in as many details as I could. And so what if I couldn’t fit in all of my favorites? Maybe, I thought, someone will invite me to write a blog post about it, and I can squeeze in a few more that way… !


About the Author

Martha Conway’s first novel 12 Bliss Street (St. Martin’s Minotaur) was nominated for an Edgar Award, and her short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, The Mississippi Review, The Quarterly, Folio, Puerto del Sol, Carolina Quarterly, and other publications. She graduated from Vassar College and received her master’s degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. She has reviewed fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle, The San Francisco Review of Books, and The Iowa Review. The recipient of a California Arts Council fellowship in Creative Writing, she has taught at UC Berkeley Extension and Stanford University’s Online Writers’ Studio.

About Thieving Forest

Ohio in 1806 is not the Ohio you're thinking's the frontier complete with unfriendly Native Americans, death around every corner and for many, a yearning for "civilization". Seventeen year old Susanna Quiner has never been especially resourceful, hardworking or brave. That is, until her parents succumb to illness and her four sister are kidnapped by Native Americans. Can Susanna rescue them when no one else can? Or will she end up enslaved, married to a Native American or dead?


guest post: making your setting a character

Today's guest post is by Bethany Harar, whose new novel Voices of the Sea is available now! See below the post for details.

When I told my mother I was going to write a post about making your setting a character in your novel, my mom looked at me like I was crazy. “What does that mean,” she asked. “How can a setting be a character? It isn’t alive.” But that’s the beauty of fiction. We can do whatever we want!

I think that giving voice and character to your setting is very important because whether we realize it or not, we are emotionally moved by the world around us every day, and that emotional involvement can give new life to our writing. When our characters look beyond themselves, when they realize that this universe is much bigger than their world, from wherever they matriculate, it adds to our story. And to allow that “universe” to have its own personality helps it comes to life for the reader.

For example, when I started writing Voices of the Sea, I never meant for the ocean to become one of my characters; but, as I wrote, I realized that it had developed a life of its own. It had feelings, it connected to my protagonist and, eventually, I let it speak to her, to express its own emotions in its own way. Without intending to, I made it a character.

People were made to interact with their surroundings. Houses can be haunted, or full of sad memories which torment the protagonist; or a house can be a happy place which lends to new experiences. A simple field can inspire, alienate or hide from the protagonist. A storm can be a more formidable foe than the serial killer who lurks in the basement. Don’t be afraid to take personification to the fullest extreme – make it a consistent, reliable voice in your writing – allow it to develop its own personality - and I think you’ll find that your writing has more meaning, more excitement and more depth.

Title: Voices of the Sea

Genre: YA Paranormal

Publisher: WiDo Publishing

Publication Date: July 22, 2014

Paperback: 285 pages


The Sirens of Pacific Grove, California are being exterminated, and seventeen-year-old Loralei Reines is their next target. Lora may look like a normal teenager, but her voice has the power to enchant and hypnotize men. Like the other Sirens in her clan, however, she keeps her true identity a secret to protect their species.

Lora's birthright as the next clan leader seems far off, until the Sons of Orpheus, a vicious cult determined to kill all Sirens on Earth, begin exterminating her people. When an unexpected tragedy occurs, Lora must take her place as Guardian of the Clan.

Lora is determined to gain control of her skills to help her clan, but they are developing too slowly, until she meets Ryan, a human boy. When Ryan is near, Lora's abilities strengthen. She knows she shouldn't be with a human. Yet, she can't resist her attraction to him, or the surge in power she feels whenever they're together.

And the Sirens are running out of time. If Lora can't unlock the secret to defeat the Sons of Orpheus, she, along with everyone she loves, will be annihilated.

About the Author:

Bethany Masone Harar graduated with a Bachelor's degree in English from James Madison University and a Masters in Secondary English Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has enjoyed teaching high school English ever since. As a teacher, Bethany is able to connect with the very audience for whom she writes, and this connection gives her insight into their interests. As a writer, she wants to make her readers gasp out loud, sigh with longing and identify with her characters. Bethany also enjoys posting on her blog,, is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, and is an avid follower of literary-driven social media. She resides in Northern Virginia with her husband, two beautiful children, and her miniature poodle, Annie.

Author's Links:


Twitter: @bethhararwrites

Guest Post by Nina Amir: How to Evaluate Your Book for Marketability

How to Evaluate Your Book for Marketability

I talk and write a lot about business plans for books. The reason for this is simple. Publishing is the business of selling books. Indie publishers are entrepreneurs. Traditional publishers seek viable products to bring to market. No matter how you publish, you have to produce a marketable book.

I’ve never much liked writing book proposals, but I wanted to get one (or more) of my books published by a publisher. For that, I needed to write a fabulous book proposal.

I write nonfiction, and nonfiction is sold off of a proposal, which serves as a business plan for a book. A nonfiction book proposal contains just a few sample chapters, not the whole manuscript. Fiction proposals tend to be requested after submission of the whole manuscript, although these days more and more agents ask for a fiction proposal with sample chapters as well.

I also have self-published a number of books. These days, however, I write a business plan—a proposal—for my self-published works as well.

Every Book Needs a Business Plan

Actually, I believe every book needs a business plan, which is why I wrote The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively. The process of writing quite a few book proposals sparked the idea for this book, which is my second traditionally published book. I noticed that each time I completed the process, I experienced a moment when I knew I had created a great book idea. By that, I mean a marketable idea, or one that would sell to readers if I could get it to market. Also, at that moment I felt ready, excited about and confident to write the book.

Experience Precious Moments

I call that my “precious moment.” However, there are many smaller precious moments that happen as you write a book proposal or business plan for a book. You experience them when you analyze the market, for instance, and discover that you could angle your book a bit differently to target a larger number of readers. You might experience one when you analyze the competition and realize that another author has left out some information in his book and you could include it in yours. Or you might have a precious moment when you discover your book is a bit too close in subject matter to a few already published titles, which requires you to retool a bit but sparks a new idea and makes your book more unique and beneficial to readers.

How to Succeed as an Author

My precious moments made me realized that every author needs to have this experience to produce the best possible book—a book with the potential of selling the most copies. So I wrote a book that explains how to write a business plan for your book and use it as a tool to evaluate the marketability of your idea as well as your own ability to help your book succeed in the marketplace. In The Author Training Manual I explain exactly what needs to go into each section of the business plan and how to see that information through the same lens use by agents and acquisitions editors, who see book ideas as “products” as well as creative ventures and know how to determine if they are viable. The book even includes sample plans reviewed by agents and editors, which allows you to train yourself to see through their eyes and “training exercises.” When you put all of this together—the business plan, the sample plans with reviews, and the training exercise, you get a manual that takes you through the necessary steps to train to become a successful author and to write a successful book.

Self-Published Authors Need a Plan

While those who want to traditionally publish must go through the process of creating a business plan for their books, it is all the more important to do so if a writer wants to self-publish. Indie authors don’t have agents or acquisitions editors to offer feedback on the marketability or viability of their “products.” Instead, as publishers, they must make that evaluation themselves. The only way to do so is with a business plan and the ability to see their own work through the same lens used by publishing professionals.

So, like it or not, taking the time to produce a business plan provides the means to that precious moment when you know you’ve created a marketable book idea. And it provides you with the opportunity to write a book that sells, which means gets read.

About the Author

Nina Amir, author of How to Blog a Book: Write, Publish, and Promote Your Work One Post at a Time and The Author Training Manual: Develop Marketable Ideas, Craft Books That Sell, Become the Author Publishers Want, and Self-Publish Effectively, transforms writers into inspired, successful authors, authorpreneurs and blogpreneurs. Known as the Inspiration to Creation Coach, she moves her clients from ideas to finished books as well as to careers as authors by helping them combine their passion and purpose so they create products that positively and meaningfully impact the world. A sought-after author, book, blog-to-book, and results coach, some of Nina’s clients have sold 300,000+ copies of their books, landed deals with major publishing houses and created thriving businesses around their books. She writes four blogs, self-published 12 books and founded National Nonfiction Writing Month, aka the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge.

Author’s Websites:

Nina Amir’s website:

Nina Amir’s blog:

Nina Amir’s Facebook:

Twitter: @NinaAmir