Do you have questions for a Literary Agent? #agentchat #amwriting

I’ve been away for a while– traveling and recuperating,  but today I’m back with my  writer’s guest post series in this blog.

It is with great pleasure that I now present Andrea Pasion-Flores from the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She’s a joy to talk to, extremely kind and helpful, yet a thorough professional– a spirit that is reflected in her answers below:

1. You’re both an author and a literary agent. How did this happen, how do you balance the two roles, and how do they affect each other?

For Love and Kisses: Andrea Pasion-Flores

For Love and Kisses: Andrea Pasion-Flores

It’s difficult, but I try to make the time. I’m also a mom and a college teacher. But I find that my many roles feed on each other. My teaching (it helps that I teach literature) and my being a writer certainly help me spot a good story and allow me to help the writers in our list improve their writing.

2. As an agent, what are the sort of books are you looking for?

I’m looking for the distinct voice, fabulous narrative, mastery of language. It’s hard to describe. I guess I want to be blown away.

3. As a reader, who are your favorite authors, and why?

There are so many! At the moment Aravind Adiga, Junot Diaz, Mohsin Hamid, Chimamanda Adichie, Jhumpa Lahiri, Gilda Cordero-Fernando, Kerima Polotan, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Jose Y. Dalisay, Sally Gardner, Zadie Smith come to mind… so many!

4. What was the last book you read as a reader, and not an agent?

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner–fantastic, young adult dystopia. I want to buy all her books!

5. What book, published in recent times, do you think should be more recognized, and one that you think is overrated?

Haha. This is a trick question! I think Asian lit in general should be recognized. It’s sorely underrated and not as widely available. I think most of the independent presses, carried by the indie bookstores, are doing a lot of good stuff. Unfortunately, we’re all used to going to the mainstream bookstores to buy what’s pushed by mainstream media–especially the kind with the movie tie-ins. The answer to the second part of your question is hinted. But, having said that, the “overrated” have their markets–and they do serve an important purpose: they get people into the habit of reading! Besides, who doesn’t enjoy a quick read or two now and then? I certainly do. So I say the overrated books are great. I’d love to pick some out and push them myself.

6. As an author, what is the aspect of writing that interests you the most?

I like discovering where a story will take me, each story being different from the past stories I’ve written although in some sense the same. When I wrote the stories in my book, I didn’t quite realize how easily they fit into each other when I put them together years after they were written.

7. As an agent, what is the one concrete piece of advice you would give to an aspiring fiction writer?

The real writing happens in the revision. One of my creative writing teachers said this to me. The more painful the process, the easier it reads. The first draft shouldn’t be given to anyone, so don’t give them to me. If you let an agent read a first draft, and it’s not great, you’re not likely to be taken on.

8. Tell us something about your latest publication. Where can readers find the book?

Ken Spillman’s blurb reads thus:
“Andrea Pasion-Flores unpacks the black boxes of everyday disasters. Among the casualties are women burned by men and children bruised by the turbulence of relationships around them. Among futile love affairs, irretrievable marriages and unspoken loss, we are brought face to face with hungry ghosts and consuming frailties.”

It’s a collection of stories written over a 10-year period. That span of time yielded many other things for me aside from stories, such as a government job, three kids (two of them twins), etc. So it does feel like a slim volume, given the amount of time it took. However, there was also that feeling that I have to bring out the best of what I’ve written thus far so I do feel those are seven good ones (with varying length and styles to show a range). In Singapore, there are a few copies at the moment with Closet Full of Books.


Andrea Pasion-Flores

Andrea Pasion-Flores

Andrea Pasion-Flores  is the former Executive Director of the National Book Development Board of the Philippines, where she was known for her pioneering work introducing high-impact literary events to the country. Andrea is also a copyright lawyer and teaches English at the University of the Philippines as a member of the faculty of the Department of English and Comparative Literature. She brings her experience in these fields into her role as an agent with the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She is also a Philippine contemporary author in English, and the author of bestselling book Have Baby Will Date, as well as her recently published short story collection: For Love and Kisses.

Dear reader, Have you read any of the authors Andrea mentions? Are you looking for a literary agent? Do you have any questions for Andrea Pasion-Flores? I’ll be randomly choosing one reader from the comments below, to receive a gift copy of Andrea’s book– so fire away!


Want to chat with a Literary Agent? #MSWL #amwriting

As part of my ongoing writer’s guest post series in this blog, Melanie Lee spoke to us a week back. Today, it is with great pleasure that I present Jayapriya Vasudevan, one of the best known literary agents in Asia, who founded the Jacaranda Literary Agency. She answers questions on various topics of writerly interest: feel free to leave your questions for her in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to get answers for them.

Hi Jayapriya, and welcome to Daily (w)rite. What was the impetus behind your becoming a literary agent?

I used to run a bookstore/café years ago, and got to know both writers and publishers really well. The agency started when a writer I adored asked me to introduce him to the head of Penguin, India. It seemed to be the perfect way to use all my experience in the publishing world ( I worked in various aspects of publishing before I set up the store with a partner). I was the first agent in India, and I figured out the business as I went along. An editor friend and I put the word out that we were looking for manuscripts. We received more than 40 in a week. Amongst the authors we took on were Anita Nair (her first novel) and Rohini Nilekani. The writer who started me on this journey, the very first author in the Jacaranda list, Shashi Warrier. I still represent his work. The publisher, David Davidar. Now head of Aleph.

What is your typical day as an agent at Jacaranda Literary Agency?

Insanely busy. We are four agents who work out of four countries, with around 80 writers on our list. With varying time zones it’s mad. The first half of the day is about calls and emails. I speak on Skype with either Helen in Singapore or Andrea in Manila at 6.30 am my time. I spend around two hours reading every day: a fiction manuscript and one non fiction manuscript at a time. Takes me around 10 days to finish two manuscripts. And meetings happen as they will, as well as literary events in Nairobi, put together by various organizations like Kwani, (works with emerging African voices) and Storymoja, (does a chapter of the Hay Festival), and then there are the major book fairs and literary festivals we attend through the year.

What do you look for in an author you choose to represent? What sort of submissions are you seeing too much of, and what are the kind of submissions you’d like to see more of?

Good writing is at the core of everything. At least two of us at Jacaranda need to love it. The agency business is also very relationship based. The author-agent relationship is one of trust, and partnership. The ability to talk freely with the author, discuss edits and ideas is as integral to the agency business as the work itself. We get too much debut writing, of a quality that we’re unable to represent ( also saying here that we read at least 50 pages before abandoning a book). Writing to a trend or a market does not necessarily make for good writing, and that’s what seems to be happening now. We’d like to see more narrative non fiction. More beautiful and personal stories. More memoirs. Writing that stems from real experience or very good research as the case may be. We’re looking to grow our brand new Children’s list, and writing from Singapore, India, The Philippines and East Africa.

If you had to choose three of your favorite authors and their best works, which would they be? Why did you choose these in particular?
Anita Nair. Shashi Warrier. Suchen Christine Lim.( FH Batacan.Krishna Udayasankar. Kiran Khalap. Jess De Boer, Tracey Morton.. I could go on really…) These in particular for their incredibly beautiful writing. Vivid. Nuanced. With real stories to tell.

Will you be at any upcoming writer’s events, festivals, conferences where writers can meet and pitch you?
I will be at Storymoja in Nairobi. Helen and Andrea will be at AFCC.

Any words of advice to authors worldwide looking forward to representation from your agency?

Take the trouble to do more than one draft. Be critical of your own work. Edit. Edit. Edit. Stay with a style that you are comfortable with and not try and copy a writer you admire. Proof your work. Send it out in a format that makes for easy reading.

Jaypriya Vasudevan: Jacaranda Literary Agency

Jaypriya Vasudevan: Jacaranda Literary Agency

Tell us about a project you’ve represented that is coming out now/ soon.

Krishna’s next book this fall. David Grossman’s To The End of the World in Tamil. Shashi Warrier and his wife Prita ( adorable to have husband and wife writing), their novels also this fall. A riveting first person account on being bipolar. Zafar Anjum’s book on the poet Iqbal. FH Batacan’s Smaller and Smaller Circles, and Table for Three.

About Jayapriya: I come from a family of writers. My father was one. My brothers are writers. I studied English Literature in College and have been in publishing since then. I adore the Arts, both performing and visual. Love books, naturally. I have lived in many countries and am delighted that this allows me to experience the literature of several countries as a local. Publishing is the only industry I would be a part of. I live in Nairobi, Kenya.


Dear reader, what are your thoughts on Asian authors? Have you read any of the authors Jayapriya mentions? Are you on the lookout for a literary agent? Do you have any questions for Jayapriya Vasudevan? 

What is #Narrative #Nonfiction? #amwriting

Through the months of December and January, some fab writers have taken over Daily (w)rite and spoken about the art and craft of writing. Check out the posts by Suchen Christine Lim, Sarah Butler, Scott Bryson, Eeleen Lee and Suzy Vitello for some excellent discussions and tips on fiction writing.

Today, I welcome Trish Nicholson. She has a great blog, and her latest offering, Write Your Nonfiction Book: The Complete Guide to Becoming an Author

is on my TBR pile. If you’re intrigued by Narrative Non-fiction, I urge you to check it out. Take it away, Trish!


Writing Your Nonfiction Book: The Complete Guide to Becoming an Author

Writing Your Nonfiction Book: The Complete Guide to Becoming an Author

What is Narrative Nonfiction?
I’ve noticed lately how often I write the phrase ‘applies equally to fiction and nonfiction’. Having had a book on story craft (Inside Stories for Writers and Readers) published last year, and now, a guide to writing and publishing a nonfiction book, the comparison is highlighted.

The fundamental difference, of course, is that nonfiction is not made up; it is based on verifiable facts, which provide its power to inform and influence as well as to entertain.

Because of this, the process requires careful research and planning – we cannot launch into a flight of fancy – but what of the writing craft, voice, structure, imagery?
We can’t invent, but that doesn’t mean we don’t use our imagination, and it is important that we do, because our brains have evolved to understand life around us as stories – narratives – with causes and effects creating and resolving conflicts, producing outcomes. Research into the psychology of reading confirms that our attitudes and behaviour can be changed by our emotional involvement in a story: it stimulates empathy. We understand and learn best through storytelling.

Significantly, this applies also to nonfiction that is written in a style to enlist a reader’s feelings, especially by the presence of ‘characters’ depicted in the narrative. In the US, the term ‘creative nonfiction’ describes the use of story techniques to factual situations, especially for essays and memoir, but the author is central to the composition: an event is explored through the personal experience of the writer. This may not be appropriate to all nonfiction subjects – e.g. for writing histories, biographies, text books, or documentaries with a wider focus. Here, the author may be the narrator, but his or her inner state is not the principal issue. So instead, I use the term ‘narrative nonfiction’.

Narrative nonfiction employs story craft, such as plotting to build tension, deep characterisation, and imaginative description, to present facts in a form that stimulates readers’ senses and engages them emotionally. Learning facts does not have to be a dry, mind-numbing experience. Today, publishers and readers expect to be enthralled, not bludgeoned, by information.

Although Write Your Nonfiction Book guides writers through the whole process – refining an idea, research, writing, editing, implementing publishing options, and marketing – the emphasis is on narrative style, and how to achieve reader-engagement for a wide range of nonfiction genres. And because technology allows writers from almost anywhere in the world to offer their books in the global market-place, I encourage these voices to be heard more widely by providing information that is, as far as possible, international.

Why not let the world hear your voice?


Trish Nicholson narrative non fiction

Trish Nicholson

About Trish Nicholson: Dr Trish Nicholson is a writer, photographer, social anthropologist, and author of short stories, and narrative nonfiction on ethnography, travel, popular science and writing craft. Her latest titles are, Inside Stories for Writers and Readers, and Write Your Nonfiction Book: The Complete Guide to Becoming an Author. You can connect with her on Twitter, @TrishaNicholson, and follow her blog at


       As a reader, what are  some of your favorite non fiction narratives and why?

           If you’re a nonfiction author, what tips would you give a beginner??

Suchen Christine Lim Talks about #amwriting in #Singapore

As part of my ongoing writer’s guest post series in this blog,  Suchen Christine Lim, one of Singapore’s best known authors, spoke to us about her writing journey last Thursday. Today, she answers questions on various topics of writerly interest. Feel free to leave your questions for her in the comments section, and I’ll do my best to get answers for them.

In October this year Suchen’s latest novel, The River’s Song was launched in Singapore (click here for video) and below she answers questions about her writing in general and her new novel in particular.

1. You’ve written novels, short stories, children’s stories and plays. What sort of writing do you find the most challenging, and why?

Writing a novel is the most challenging. Not just because of its length, but also because of the necessary chaos that one has to go through before one can see the beauty of the form and substance woven and integrated into an organic whole. And that journey through chaos may take a year or two or three or four. The novel’s demands are many, and each novel has its own unique set of requirements. Having written a novel doesn’t mean that the next novel will be easier to write. The novelist is forever a beginning writer.

2. Your work shows a fascination with history. What role, in your opinion, does an author play in the recording of a country’s history?

There’s a common saying that history is written by the victor.  Official history textbooks present the official point of view.  Individuals with political, economic, and religious power and influence are identified, named, and honoured. The powerless are always referred to as ‘the masses’.  Faceless and anonymous.
Literature, however, is the great leveller. To the novelist and playwright, the beggar or the king, the rich entrepreneur or the poor labourer, the powerful dictator or the powerless citizen, all are worthy subjects for one’s art. The novel often offers multiple points of view, and historical novels often interrogate the official view of the past.  In fiction, the defeated could rewrite the victor’s version of history. 

3. As an established creative writing guru, what do you look for in your students? What do you think makes a successful writer?

I beg your pardon. I’m not an established writing guru.  I run the occasional writing workshop when universities or organisations such as the Arvon Foundation, the British Council or the National Arts Council invite me.  What I look for in aspiring writers is passion and commitment.  Many young writers are highly talented, but few have the discipline to sit down and wrestle with their writing till the complete draft of a novel emerges.

4. There are various opinions on whether creative writing can be taught. As someone who has long taught creative writing, what are your thoughts on this?

No one can make us creative. But a creative writing course can teach us to hone our writing and storytelling skills.

The River's Song by Suchen Christine Lim

The River’s Song: Suchen Christine Lim

5. What part of your writing life do you enjoy the most, and why?

What part of my writing life?  The first part when I am alone and writing, or alone and walking with a story about to come to birth.

6. Could you tell us something about your latest novel, The River’s Song?

The image of a wiry, bare-chested, sun-browned man crouched among his pots of wilting chilli plants, his lost and vacant eyes gazing through the railings of a 12-storey apartment block, had haunted me for a long time. This memory of a squatter farmer evicted from the Singapore River in the 1970s led me to write ‘The River’s Song’. The novel is both a moving love story between a music professor in UC Berkeley and the master flautist in the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, as well as a fictionalised account of the eviction of boatmen and squatters from the Singapore River.  Today the river is a tourist attraction and a prime residential area of expensive condominiums.

Suchen Christine Lim

Suchen Christine Lim

Author Bio: Born in Malaysia but educated in Singapore, Suchen Christine Lim was awarded the Southeast Asia Write Award 2012. In 1992, her novel, Fistful Of Colours, won the Inaugural Singapore Literature Prize. Critics have described her first novel, Rice Bowl, as “a landmark publication on post-independence Singapore”, and A Bit Of Earth as “a literary masterwork as well as a historical document” that was “un-put-downable – a sure sign of a master storyteller.” A short story in The Lies That Build A Marriage, was made into a film for national television.

Awarded a Fulbright grant, she is a Fellow of the International Writers’ Program in the University of Iowa, and its International Writer-in-Residence. In 2005, she was writer-in-residence in Scotland, and has returned to the UK several times as an Arvon Tutor to conduct writing workshops and read at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Her new novel, The River’s Song, will be launched in London and New York next spring.

—-What are your thoughts on Asian authors? Do you have any questions for Suchen Christine Lim? Leave them in the comments.

Dear Author, Are You Writing a Series?

Through the months of November and December, some fab writers would take over Daily (w)rite. I still have a few slots open for December, so I would welcome guest posts by writers who have something to say about the art, craft, and business of writing. Write me a mail at atozstories at gmail dot com to discuss this.

Today, I welcome Rick Gualtieri. He has a great blog, and his latest offering, , Sunset Strip is on my TBR pile (Just look at that gorgeous cover!). It is a 60k words of paranormal fantasy with attitude, and is now available Kindle, Nook, Kobo . If you haven’t already, I urge you to check it out. Take it away, Rick!

Sunset Strip: A Tale From The Tome Of Bill

Sunset Strip by Rick Gualtieri

Surviving a Series

 I’ve just released the fifth book in a horror/comedy series I’ve been writing.  I’m lucky in that it’s been well-received by readers and has developed a bit of a following.  There’re few better feelings for a writer than receiving a message asking when the next book will be coming out. At the same time, it’s not all wine and roses. It’s very possible to suffer from series burn-out. There’s also the ever-present fear of ‘jumping the shark’, where everything afterward doesn’t quite reach the highpoints that came before.  In short there’re plenty of challenges for series authors. In between writing mine and reading others, though, I’ve come up with some suggestions that hopefully you might find useful.

 -        Know where you’re going.  A series should have a destination in mind.  Even if it’s not an ultimate destination, there should be a culmination to story arcs in mind before starting anew.  Closure is good and gives readers a sense of satisfaction.  Without that sense of direction, your multi-book epic adventure could start to seem aimless. Treat your series like a singular story, except each book represents a chapter.  Make sure you have a coherent beginning, middle, and end when it’s all viewed as a whole.

-        Change is good, as long as it’s not for the sake of change.  Mix things up, kill characters, introduce new ones, and have the survivors grow as a result – as long as it makes sense for the story.  The same thing over and over again is comfortable, but can rapidly become boring.  Just make sure when you change it, you know where you’re going with it.

-        Don’t milk it.  While you wouldn’t be the first writer to throw a few extra books into a series to keep the old cash cow alive, remember that readers aren’t stupid.  If it’s filler, people will realize it. Go to that well too often and don’t be surprised when readers react to the announcement of the next chapter with apathy rather than excitement.  If your series is reaching its end, go for it and go big.  Don’t put off the inevitable just because you hope to squeeze people for a few more bucks.

-        It’s okay to take a break.   You may get some grousing, but it’s perfectly okay to work on a different story in between series volumes.  You need to respect your readers, but that doesn’t mean they should dictate what must come next.   No ideas for a different world? Consider a side story for a sub character. This can be a great way to mix things up and keep them fresh for you, while at the same time expanding upon your universe.  My latest falls into that category.  It was a nice breath of fresh air to help me recharge my batteries, while still treading familiar ground.

Writing a series can be an awesome experience in extended world-building and storytelling.  But much like a long road trip, it’s easy to get lost. If you can avoid doing so, though, you may find it personally rewarding as well as potentially lucrative.


Rick Gualtieri

Rick Gualtieri

About Rick: Rick Gualtieri lives alone in a dark, evil place called New Jersey with only his wife, three kids, and countless pets to both keep him company and constantly plot against him. When he’s not busy monkey-clicking out words, he can typically be found jealously guarding his collection of vintage Transformers from all who would seek to defile them. Defilers beware!

———  As a reader, what are some of your favorite series, and why? If you’re an author, what’s your take on surviving a series?

Cherie Reich: Magna’s Plea

Today I’m excited to introduce blog friend and fellow-writer Cherie Reich‘s work on Daily (w)rite. She is an inspiration on her blog, through her writing and her book reviews.

Here’s more about her latest release: Magna’s Plea.

Magna's Plea by Cherie Reich

Magna’s Plea by Cherie Reich

Book Description: A princess will rise and challenge Fate.
While her father, brothers, and people fight against the Kingdom of Apentha, tenacious eighteen-year-old Princess Magna can only watch the destruction of Amora, her besieged city and kingdom. Her mother, Queen Vyvian, has refused to allow her heir to join the fray.
But Magna won’t take no for an answer. She seeks out an end of the war from Prince Cyrun of Apentha, their prisoner. If she can’t persuade him toward peace, then Amora may fall.

Here’s an excerpt from Cherie Reich’s latest offering, Magna’s Plea :


12-13 Days of Luquiry

Year 1717 AUC

Tendrils of smoke swirled heavenward. The smoldering stench reached Princess Magna at the top of the palace’s northern tower. She wrinkled her nose at the unpleasant odor, yet it still smelled better than the filth plaguing the besieged seven-hilled city.

She’d vowed to protect Amora. Her heart shattered a little more each day at the devastation afflicting her kingdom.

The once grassy and flower-filled plain sprouted dust plumes from the trampling feet. As the sun neared the western horizon, a bloody hue washed over the battlefield. Tiny, metallic dins and men’s shouts rang out. Magical bursts flashed in the sky like Thean’s lightning, beautiful and deadly. A wooden catapult hurled a human-sized stone slab into the city’s wall. Magna jerked away from the opened window she stood before, as if the object had struck her instead. Rock crumbled from the impact, but the barrier held.

When the reddish orb sank lower, the fighting ceased. War’s chaos parted into two orderly sides, and soldiers crossed the field to gather their dead.

She brushed a shaky hand over her cheeks. Tears dampened her face, and she struggled to turn away from the battle before her. Almost two months had passed since the Apenthans had begun their attack Amora. How much longer could the Amorans—she—stay safe behind their impenetrable wall?

This short story prequel includes a sneak peek of Reborn, Book One of The Fate Challenges, forthcoming May 2014.
YA Epic Fantasy
The Fate Challenges #0.5
A 5500-word Short Story

To download this short story for free: Amazon / Nook / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords / Goodreads

Read online at Wattpad, Add to Goodreads


Magna's Plea by Cherie Reich

Magna’s Plea by Cherie Reich

About the Author: A self-proclaimed bookworm, Cherie Reich is a speculative fiction writer, freelance editor, book blogger, and library assistant living in Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in magazines and anthologies, and her books include the horror series Nightmare, a space fantasy novella trilogy titled Gravity, and the fantasy series The Foxwick Chronicles. She is Vice President of Valley Writers and a member of the Virginia Writers Club and Untethered Realms.  Her debut YA Epic Fantasy novel Reborn, book one in The Fate Challenges, will be released on May 23, 2014.

Website / Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Wattpad

Do You Edit as You Write? #amwriting advice by Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon

Today at Daily (w)rite, we’re getting to know author Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon, an author of short stories, articles, and the novel A Place in the World.

A pLace in the World

A pLace in the World

Q: What is the book about?

A: The novel is called A Place in the World and is set in the cloud forests of Colombia.  The story is about a young biologist ex-pat who marries a Colombian and goes to live on his family’s remote coffee finca (farm).  Calamities strike one after another and Alicia ends up running the finca alone.

Q: What was the inspiration behind your story?

A: I grew up in Latin America and the places and people have stayed in my heart and mind through the years.  You could call it a tribute, but like most writers the story was simply in my head. It was my excuse to study and write about the rainforest as well as the culture. (When I first moved to the States for university I wanted to be a rainforest biologist.)

Q: How did you come up with the title?

A: I came up with the title fairly early in the game. A Place in the World is a double entendre as it is both about a certain place – a coffee finca surrounded by an emerald forest – but also about a young woman finding her place in the world.

 Q: Tell us about your cover art .

A: A cover is an important element since it is the first thing one sees.  I had a definite notion of what I wanted, but it took me a long while to find it.  The art work is a painting by Martin J. Heade of a cloud forest and has been a favorite of mine for years.  It captures the essence of the book and is quite beautiful.

 Q: How did you develop your characters?

A : Both consciously and unconsciously.  One thing I do in the beginning is draw up detailed biographies for myself of each member of the cast.  Even though I don’t use all the information I want to know their backgrounds and the personality traits – but sometimes the characters surprised me.  Peter for example was supposed to be a “bad boy” but he turned out to be a romantic interest and a solid man.  I knew Alicia had to evolve from a naïve young woman into a capable and confident person although she just seemed to do this on her own.

 Q: What would you call your genre – why did you choose it?

A : It chose me. I like to think of it as mainstream or literary – that’s what I read mostly.  Is multicultural a genre?  My publisher listed it also as a “romantic adventure”.

Q: Tell us about your writing process. Do you edit as your write?

A : I edited as I wrote and I don’t advise it!  I would finish a chapter and compulsively rewrite instead of moving on with the story. It is better to power through a rough draft and then rewrite …and rewrite again. I began writing scenes as they came to me and then stitching them together without knowing how the story would end.  I needed structure however, so I soon came up with an outline and the realization that I had to decide on the ending.  Until you have your ending you cannot foreshadow and develop your plot.


Cinda MacKinnon

Cinda MacKinnon

Cinda Crabbe MacKinnon grew up in Latin America. Her experiences and love for the people, culture and natural setting of Colombia resulted in this novel. A writer, former university lecturer, and environmental scientist, she has an MS in geology and a longtime passion for botany. This background enabled her to weave in details on tropical nature and geology, as well as Colombian society, into her writing. She lives in northern California with her husband and their golden retriever.


Find Cinda:


VirtualBookworm(for other vendors:ISBN: 978-0-9888483-0-6)

Reviews, e-book and softcover 

Are Chemistry and Compatibility mutually exclusive, or can they Co-exist?

Mina Lobo has been an awesome blog friend, I’m excited to have her guest post for me today! Romance is not my genre, but I read it every once in a while to punctuate my regular fare. Since this book is by an author-friend, it’s already on my TBR kitty. Take it away, Mina!

The Teaser:

“Hmmm, you’re getting possessive now,” Hecate said. “Hades must be thrilled.”

“I expect I have thrilled him, yes.”

“And has his magnificence aided you in reaching a verdict?”

At the reminder of her need to choose, Persephone lost her good humor. “Sadly, no. That is to say, I am happy to find we are compatible in that way.” She ignored the other’s snicker. “And I am developing an understanding of his character. He has both good and bad qualities, as do we all—”

“Speak for yourself.”

“—and I feel that, where our natures differ, we complement one another very well.”

“Then why are you undecided?”

“I don’t know.” Persephone shrugged. “But something does prevent me from binding myself to him.”

The above excerpt comes from my fantasy romance, That Fatal Kiss , set in a mythical Greece. In it, the heroine, Persephone, discusses her love life with her friend, the Witch Goddess Hecate (one of the few Immortals Hades considers a friend as well, and whom he permits to travel in and out of the Underworld freely).

That Fatal Kiss by Mina Lobo

That Fatal Kiss by Mina Lobo

In love with Persephone, but thinking she’d never return the sentiment, Hades ransomed her down to the Underworld to be his bride-queen. For her part, Persephone both resented, yet desired Hades, but eventually they managed to get past their initial friction to…ah…connect with one another. Ahem.

But Persephone’s mother, the goddess Demeter, searches for her, and it’s only a matter of time before Persephone will have to argue for either freedom or proper marriage to Hades. Thus the goddess is faced with a question many a gal has asked herself—How do you know if the dude you’re with is the fabled One created solely for you?

My sister, Star, and I recently discussed what draws us to certain guys and not others, and what’s led us to commit, where we have. I argued that, for myself, I need a bit of chemistry before I can even consider getting serious about a man. Star promptly told me that was nonsense, suggested that this isn’t a reliable method for securing one’s future partner/spouse, and that she’s had the best outcome in dating when she’s taken a more practical approach.
While I certainly appreciate her point (after all, once you get past the first flush of romance, you need an underlying friendship and basic liking of one another to keep the relationship afloat, and when pheromones cloud your vision, so to speak, it’s hard to see past the W00F! factor), I don’t agree that we shouldn’t hold out to feel that W00F! factor. I mean, if that’s important to us. If it is, why settle for life (or life-long coupledom) without it?

What do y’all think? Are chemistry and compatibility mutually exclusive of one another, or can they co-exist? If they do, is that the mark of The One? Or can that sexy chemistry follow a practical decision to date someone who doesn’t immediately float your boat? Tell us in the comments!

About the Book:  In That Fatal Kiss , life-giving Persephone seeks a mate but the goddess’ mother frustrates her plans. Then Hades, King of the Underworld, spirits Persephone away to rule with him below, as his bride. Yet, even as she awaits rescue, Persephone aches to be consumed by the fire in the dark lord’s immortal soul.

About the Author: Mina Lobo writes dark and whimsical romances, dodges the slings and arrows of her outrageous college-aged son, and feels compelled to do things in threes. She digs comedic horror, alternative rock, and Belgian chocolates.Visit Mina’s Web site, Some Dark Romantic, from September 24 – 29, for your chance to win an e-book copy of That Fatal Kiss!

Her blog: Some Dark Romantic
On Facebook: mina.lobo.1
On the Twitter: @GothMomLite
and GothMomLite Will Tumblr For Ya

Blood Orchids and Growing Old

I met Toby Neal during the A to Z Challenge last year. She has become a great blog-friend ever since, and today she is here on Daily (w)rite as a guest, to talk about life, aging, and her new book, Blood Orchids.

Blood Orchids is available as a FREE download on Saturday, Mar 3, Sun 4, and Mon. 5. Go find it now!

Take it away, Toby!!


Getting older. It’s a popular subject these days, and recently my husband and I had a tough year with health issues. Still, even aging brings gifts and I thought I’d share a few I’ve found.

  • The kids are grown. Unlike most of my generation who waited to have kids, I was a mom at 22 and an empty nester by 42. We miss them, the number of rubber slippers by the front door down to only two pairs, but we celebrate the awesome people they are and think happy thoughts of grandparenting someday and being done with college costs.
  • You can afford the hot-babe car. I have one, and maybe I don’t look like a hot babe in it, but when I put down the sunroof and lay down some rubber it hardly f**king matters, I feel so great.
  • You know who you are. For better for worse, half a century of experience has taught us who we are and what we’re about, and I for one have stopped apologizing or trying to be different.
  • You have time-tested, loyal friends. Like good wine, friendships ripen and richen and develop depth, complexity and nuance that has to do with shared history and story.
  • You learn what really matters. I can’t say what it is for you, but for me its doing meaningful work that helps others, following my dream of writing (wherever it leads) and being a person of integrity.
  • You find the courage of your convictions. With the hourglass sifting your days more rapidly than ever, you may find yourself saying and doing things you didn’t expect—circulating a petition, marching in a parade, writing a book, and starting a nonprofit. (Yep, I surprised myself with all the aforementioned)
  • You savor things. You learn wonderful experiences and even miserable ones shouldn’t be missed or dulled by too much alcohol, watered down by excess or cheapened by drugs. Even pain can remind you how alive you are and that each day is precious.
  • You have stories. Oh my, you have stories. The trick is finding people it’s appropriate to tell them to.
  • You get to experience new levels of personal growth. This is my re-frame (something we therapists like) to the PHYSICAL challenges of ageing. I’ll have to do a separate blog on the mental/emotional ones. If I can remember to…*attention wanders*
  • You look death in the eye and begin a friendship. Either that or you run away as fast as you can, probably in your hot-babe car, but either way, Death becomes a regular guest—because now you know a lot of people who’ve died. I count this as Upside because it’s real, and to me, real is good.
  • Sometimes you get things back. My husband’s joint replacement surgery went well, and two months afterward we hike along the Pali (cliffs) with the wind in our hair and our eyes on the cobalt sea, watching whales.  We both feel hopeful that life can get even better and there’s lots more ahead for us.


Toby’s book, Blood Orchids, is a fast-paced crime novel with a twist of romance that readers call “unputdownable!”

Hawaii is palm trees, black sand and blue water—but for policewoman Lei Texeira, there’s a dark side to paradise.

Lei has overcome a scarred past to make a life for herself as a cop in the sleepy Big Island town of Hilo. On a routine patrol she finds two murdered teenagers—one of whom she’d recently busted. With its echoes of her own past, the murdered girl’s harsh life and tragic death affect Lei deeply. She becomes obsessed—even as the killer is drawn to Lei’s intensity, feeding off her vulnerabilities and toying with her sanity.

Despite her obsession with the case and fear that she’s being stalked, Lei finds herself falling in love for the first time. Steaming volcanoes, black sand beaches and shrouded fern forests are the backdrop to Lei’s quest for answers—and the stalker is closer than she can imagine, as threads of the past tangle in her future. Lei is determined to find the killer—but he knows where to find her first.

About author Toby Neal:

Toby Neal was raised on Kauai in Hawaii. She wrote and illustrated her first story at age 5 and has been published in magazines and won several writing contests. After initially majoring in Journalism, she eventually settled on mental health as a career and loves her work, saying, “I’m endlessly fascinated with people’s stories.”

She enjoys many outdoor sports including bodyboarding, scuba diving, beach walking, gardening and hiking. She lives in Hawaii with her family and dogs.

Toby credits her counseling background in adding depth to her characters–from the villains to Lei Texeira, the courageous and vulnerable heroine in the Lei Crime Series.

Wishing Toby all the best with the book—Blood Orchids is available as a FREE download on Saturday, Mar 3, Sun 4, and Mon. 5. It is a great opportunity to go get the book, so grab your copy now!

You, Fascinating You

Multi-published author Germaine Shames talks about her book You, Fascinating You, and her journey towards writing it in today’s post at Daily (W)rite. Take it away, Germaine!


You, Fascinating You is at this moment rolling off the presses.  Yet its seed was planted more than twenty years ago, when I first met Cesare Frustaci.

Reflecting later upon that meeting, I identified Cesare’s defining feature: regardless of where he made his home, he was unplaceable.  He spoke with an accent, not Hungarian exactly, but not Italian either.  Unlike his fellow émigrés, he had no wistful memories of Hungary, nodesire to return.

As we got to know each other, details of his childhood began to emerge—the malnutrition he suffered during World War II, the “shoes” he fashioned for himself from horses’ feedbags, the corpses alongside which he would awaken each morning… He seemed to be describing the perils of an orphaned waif abandoned to his fate, yet he was the son of Pasquale Frustaci (aka “the Italian Cole Porter”), a composer and conductor whose star, while the war cast Europe into darkness, had never shone brighter.  How then, from the age of seven, did Cesare end up alone on the battlefronts of provincial Hungary in the midst of the worst carnage the world has known?

The answer would arrive in my mailbox fifteen years later: a videotaped oral history Cesare contributed to Yale University.  It told the story of his mother Margit Wolf, a Jewish ballerina who fell in love with a dashing Italian maestro and bore him a son—a ballerina who inspired an international anthem to longing only to fade from history without a trace.  How to resurrect her?  How to make her story palpable to a modern audience?

Each time I set out to write a new novel, I feel as if I am standing at the foot of Mt. Everest, craning my neck for a glimpse of the summit and daring myself to begin the ascent. I have written half a dozen novels, and yet somehow the climb does not get easier. You, Fascinating You nearly sent me back to “base camp.”

Like climbing a sky-high peak, there is no simple, practical or unassailably rational reason for writing a novel. Conversely, there are plenty of reasons not to. Here, by way of example, are some that I encountered while writing You, Fascinating You.

Twenty-thousand miles. The distance I traveled retracing the trajectory of my heroine’s journey through Hungary, Italy and Germany.

My ballet recital at age four. Okay, so I froze center-stage as the curtain rose—hardly a stellar foundation for writing a novel set in the world of classical dance.

Rejection, Rejection, Rejection… I made the mistake of trying to land an agent on the basis of a partial manuscript and was treated to a resounding chorus of nays.

Enigma. Although based on a true story, You, Fascinating You presented a welter of mysteries; none more cloaked than my protagonist herself, whose very survival hinged on secrecy.

Tears.  I cried writing this book.  I raged.  Such a relentless tempest of feeling may have benefitted the writing, but took a toll on its author (and, by extension, on the author’s friends and family).

Yet I did complete the book—and all the books before it.  Why?  Drawing again on mountain climbing, in the words of Rene Daumal, “What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen.”

You, Fascinating You, my highest peak so far, gave me a window on the world at its brightest and at its darkest.  A window more stunning for the exertions demanded to reach it.  I have seen. 


You, Fascinating You, by Germaine Shames

You, Fascinating You, by Germaine Shames

In the final weeks of 1938, in the shadow of Kristallnacht and imminent war, a heartsick Italian maestro wrote a love song called “Tu Solamente Tu.”

Its lyrics lamented his forced separation from his wife, the Hungarian ballerina Margit Wolf, in the wake of Mussolini’s edict banishing foreign Jews from Italy. The song, first recorded by Vittorio de Sica in 1939, catapulted to the top of the Hit Parade and earned its composer the moniker “the Italian Cole Porter.” The German version, “Du Immer Wieder Du,” would be performed by Zarah Leander, the foremost film star of the German Reich, and its English counterpart, “You, Fascinating You,” by the Glenn Miller Army Air Force Band.

Twenty-two years would pass before the maestro and his ballerina again met face-to-face.

    You, Fascinating You begins as a backstage romance and ends as an epic triumph of the human spirit.

Available from Pale Fire Press

ISBN: 978-0-9838612-1-8

Germaine Shames

Germaine Shames

Germaine Shames scours the globe in search of compelling stories. Shames is author of Between Two Deserts, two earlier nonfiction books, and three feature screenplays. A former foreign correspondent and contributor to Hemispheres, More, and National Geographic Traveler, she has lived and worked in such diverse locations as the Australian outback, Swiss Alps, interior of Bulgaria, coast of Colombia, Fiji Islands, and Gaza Strip.  With You, Fascinating You the author returns to her roots in the performing arts to reveal a hidden story painstakingly researched across three countries over the course of five years.


Author Websites:,

Blog: http://germainewrites/from-the-heart-germaine/

Twitter: @GermaineWrites

Publisher’s Website: