Event: Multi-Author Book Signing

Hi everyone!

I just wanted to share that I am going to be part of a multi-author book signing on April 15, 2017. We will be signing TWO of the anthologies I am in: An Improbable Truth and Curious Incidents. So, if you’re in the Charlotte, NC, area, please come out to Barnes and Noble in the Carolina Place Mall to see us!

Signing Flyer.jpg

Event: Our Books Are Not Free

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to announce that I will be one of the guest authors at the online event, Our Books Are Not Free. It’s a multi-day event, so I hope that you will pop in from time to time to read about all the different and wonderful authors in attendance. My specific time slot is Sunday, February 12 at 9:30 a.m. I’d be delighted if you’d come by and give my posts some “like” love and comment.


Here’s a link to the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/206705409792190/ 

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Press Release: We Are Not This



For Details, contact John G. Hartness


In an “October Surprise” for Governor Pat McCrory and members of the NC General Assembly, Charlotte-based micro-press Falstaff Books today released We Are Not This – Carolina Writers for Equality. The anthology, a collection of 31 short stories, poems, and essays by North Carolina writers or writers who feel a strong tie to the Carolinas, was created as a response to HB2, the divisive “bathroom bill” passed by the NC General Assembly earlier this year.

We Are Not This includes stories from NY Times bestselling author A. J. Hartley, noted singer-songwriter David Childers, Bram Stoker Award nominee Jake Bible, Charlotte Observer columnist and longtime educator Kay McSpadden, Hugo-award nominated editor Edmund Schubert, and a host of other writers. The anthology is currently available as an ebook and will be available in print within the month.

In his introduction, publisher John G. Hartness writes, “We understand that people are people, and all people deserve to be protected from discrimination. We understand that insuring equal rights for one group does not take away rights from another group. We understand that laws restricting freedom and taking away someone’s chance for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the opposite of the values that this country was founded upon. We understand that we are stronger together, and that love is love.”

Proceeds from the sale of the anthology will be divided among NC-centric LGBTQ charities, non-profits, and lobbying organizations. The first group of organizations to receive funding will be Time Out Youth, Queen City Theatre Company, and EqualityNC.

Shadows in Salem Book Trailer

It is with great pleasure that we announce the first FunDead Publications anthology, Shadows in Salem, will be released on September 6, 2016!  Each piece is a work of fiction set in our hometown, S…

Source: Shadows in Salem Book Trailer

ConCarolinas 2016 Wrap-Up

It’s Monday. That means another ConCarolinas is on the books, and I’m brain addled trying to mentally condense all the information that I collected during the past three days. (I love Evernote for that, by the way.)

So, here are some of my possibly not entirely coherent thoughts on the convention as a whole.

  1. It was hot! The A/C wasn’t working so we all melted into puddles of ink in the panel rooms and hallways.
  2. I got to hug so many people! (Hopefully none of them gave me the con crud.) I love hugs.
  3. There was an amazing panel on Writers and Mental Health that I was able to be a panelist on, and it’s one of the best panels I’ve ever done. I learned about SIG-E-CAPS from the wonderful Darin Kennedy. And I just want to thank John Hartness for putting the whole thing together.
  4. I love my tribe.
  5. Writers are wonderful and supportive people.
  6. Stuart Jaffe, John Hartness, Beth Revis, and Gail Martin are awesome at marketing. I learned soooo much from them.
  7. I learned about the importance of a newsletter / mailing list (coming soon!) for authors.
  8. I learned about Amazon Affiliate Links (also coming soon!)
  9. I am wonderfully blessed to be able to write and edit (check out my freelance editing site if you’ve not!)
  10. My parents are awesome for keeping my child while I attended the convention.
  11. Misty Massey is the writer wrangling extraordinaire.
  12. New friends quickly become great friends.
  13. We can give the middle finger to HB2 (there were Prince symbols on the bathroom doors – someone got a picture, right?) Faith Naff, I am SO PROUD of you.
  14. Leann Retell and Faith Hunter are two of the best friends a girl could ask for.
  15. Moderating isn’t as hard as I expected, but it’s super important to prepare.
  16. Nicole Kurtz, Alexandra Christian, Tally Johnson, and Susan Roddey are awesome crazy nuggets and I love them.
  17. Tamsin Silver is the sweetest New Yorker. She needs to move back to the south.
  18. I’m not good at minding a table! O_o


Those Other Things…

Writers wear a lot of hats. And socks, too. With monkeys on them. Well, at least I do.

Some of the other hats I wear are mom, wife, daughter, professor, book reviewer, editor, and personal assistant. Yep, all those! But, I wanted today to tell you a little about (okay, shamelessly self-promote) my editing business, Clicking Keys.

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Ladies of Horror Competition

Hey, look! I did a thing! I made it to the top ten in the Mocha Memoirs Press: Women in Horror 2016 Flash Fiction contest!

The Top Ten stories were chosen by a panel of Mocha Memoirs “Ladies of Horror” and will be compiled into a micro-anthology used to promote the press. I will be sure to share when that is available too!

I would be delighted if you’d extend a vote for me!

Read the Stories and Vote HERE


A New Year

2016Happy New Year!

I am not really all that big on resolutions. Most of the time, we break them and give up, but I do like setting goals. The new year is a great time to reflect on what I’ve accomplished and what I’ve still got to do.

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The White Snake

I walked down the bricked path that hundreds–perhaps thousands–travel every day and was lost deep in my thoughts when a shoulder brushed mine, too close but scarcely noticed. In that moment, that glimpse of the stale horror of reality, I saw something odd.

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Chugging Along

I think I am going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. The problem is that I can’t really decide which story to work on.

I have a couple options:

  1. The cozy mystery novel that I’m working on tentatively titled Paper Wizard. My plan is to look for traditional publishers to query this one to.
  2. The short story that I need to have planned and a synopsis of by December. This one will require significant review of the world in which it’s set.
  3. Maggie #4, which is sorely belated and which I have struck a block on.
  4. Focus on the two short stories, which means I likely won’t “win” NaNoWriMo, but I will get stuff done. Those aren’t word chomping options like #1 because they’ll require lots of planning.

So, what do you think? Are you participating this year? If so, what are you working on?

Something New!?


It’s a new shiny! Look! It wants my attention! It’s talking to me!

That’s pretty much how I feel right now about my latest WIP.

Sometimes as writers, we get distracted by the new idea and have trouble sitting down to the one we should be working on. For example, I really should be working on the next Maggie story because that series is sorely behind. But instead I’ve been slipping in words on this new shiny story.  It’s tentatively titled Paper Wizard and so far it’s sort of a cozy murder mystery suspense romance thing. I am not sure yet which direction it will go (and where it will be after editing!) but it’s sure fun to write. It’s the first thing I’ve ever written that doesn’t have anything supernatural or magical…yet. I’m not sure what I am going to do with it when I am finished — maybe try to publish it traditionally? — but it’s one that I am really excited to write. So, while I try to work Maggie out the dungeon she’s gotten herself trapped in, I’m also slipping in some words on this new shiny.

COVER REVEAL! An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

Coming October 27, 2015!!!

“When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most recognizable characters in Western literature.  Conan Doyle’s inimitable detective has been the subject of literally thousands of books, movies, television shows, plays and even songs.  With the rise of the BBC series and the release of all copyrights, the beloved character has found a new life among modern audiences.

In An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, 14 authors of horror and mystery have come together to create a unique anthology that sets Holmes on some of his most terrifying adventures.  A pair of sisters willing to sacrifice young girls to an ancient demon for a taste of success, a sinister device that can manipulate time itself, and a madman that can raise corpses from the dead are just a few among the grisly tales that can be found within these pages.

Curl up with a warm cuppa and leave all the lights on. 

This is not your grandfather’s Sherlock Holmes.

Look at this list of stories!  Doesn’t it sound fantastic?

  • The Fairy Pool by Lucy Blue
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Hungry Ghost by Katie Magnusson
  • The Diamond Carter Ghost by Matthew Wilson
  • The Haunted Branch Line by Tally Johnson
  • The Arendall Horror by Thomas Olbert
  • Worlds Collide by S. H. Roddey
  • Time is Running Out, Watson by Adrian Cross
  • A Voice in the Blood by Dan Shaurette
  • The Hunt of the Red Boar by Thomas Fortenberry
  • The Canaries of Clee Hills Mine by Robert Perret
  • The Chase by Melissa McArthur
  • The Adventure of the Missing Trophy by Mark W. Coulter
  • The Case of the Rising Dead by Trenton Mabey
  • The Adventure of the Slow Death by Harding McFadden

I know, I know… I’m stalling.  It’s called BUILDING THE SUSPENSE.  But now, without further ado…

Isn’t this cover BEAUTIFUL!? 


**Anne Rosario is the superbly talented artist who rendered this beautiful cover**

What a Ride!

Summer is nearly over, and I am so behind on writing. I’ve had a ton of editing work (which is great, of course!) but that means my daily word count has been lacking. Add in changing jobs and teaching a summer camp for 4th-7th graders, and my summer has been a wild ride.

Summer camps are over now, so I hope to get a few more words in per day now. I have to give a shout-out to all the elementary/middle school teachers out there. Y’all rock, seriously. I was exhausted every single day coming home from wrangling those kids! I was teaching them a computer software called Crazy Talk, which is actually a really cool program.

I’m also changing jobs. I’ve been teaching English at a technical college for just about ten years now, and this will be the first semester in a very long time that I haven’t taught there. Instead, I am going to be teaching five writing courses at my alma mater! It’s been my dream to work there ever since I moved to SC in 1998. I fell in love with the school the minute I stepped foot on campus. Classes start Aug. 24, and I am so very excited. It’s wonderful that I get to do the things I love (teach, edit, write) every single day.

I am planning for Maggie #4 (The Gatherer’s Power) to come out at the end of August, so be sure to look for it! It’s going to be super awesome. It takes place in an abandoned sanatorium! What could be cooler than that?

ConCarolinas Wrap-Up ~ Setting the Mood

These are my notes from the Friday evening panel on Setting the Mood.

Panelists: Darin Kennedy, Wendy S. Delmater, AJ Hartley, Faith Hunter, David B. Coe

DBC: Character’s voice, ambiance, and setting all need to appear on the first page.

FH: Write what you know. Character can come from setting. Avoid purple prose.

WD: World building is difficult in short fiction.

DK: It’s okay to “borrow mood” from existing world.

AJH: Language is connected to genre and sub-genre.

DBC: We have expectations based on the genre.

FH: The way words flow, length of the sentence–form a rhythm, beat of the music to our writing–like a symphony.

DBC: Sentence structure is like the soundtrack for the story.

AJH: You should be able to tell the genre from the first couple of sentences.

DK: A 42 word sentence in an action scene is wrong!

FH: “Par for the course” doesn’t belong in epic fantasy.

DBC: Point of view! If a character is fighting for her life, she won’t talk about the knife being cheap at Wal-Mart. Whatever is important to the character is going to be important.

FH: You want the sentence structure to match the physical feeling of the reader.

DK: Actions have to have repercussions, no antidote for dead, don’t say a character fell off the mountain and isn’t dead.

FH: If you hit something not lethal and they still die? Why?

FH: Story trumps everything, every time. Sometimes you have to cut stuff you love because it doesn’t advance the story.

DBC: Story –> happens to people  / world building and magic system –> backdrop to the story

DBC: Verner’s Law: When writing, you must do 2 or 3 of these things at all times. 1. Develop character. 2. Advance plot. 3. Reveal background.

DBC: Use analogy or metaphor to reveal information. Example: instead of saying “hits like a hammer” you could say “hits like Thor’s hammer” and you reveal more info.

AJH: If it will be necessary in a climactic scene, smuggle necessary information in earlier. Avoid making too convenient additions (ex: time turner).

DK: Delete “as you know…”

AJH: Sherlock stories are unsolvable by anyone but Sherlock. They’re not mysteries like Agatha Christie.

DBC: Don’t tell aspiring writers to write Sherlock.

AJH: Construct an awesome character. The detective holds it together.

DBC: I should have seen that coming! Oh my, of course! –> You need these both.

WD: Don’t forget smell and taste. Textures are important.

FH: Sometimes a character’s preference changes. Example: Faith doesn’t like candles anymore. Hurricane Hugo ruined them for her.

WD: Tap the memories and senses of the reader.

DK: Mix the familiar and unfamiliar. Example: hospital smells like ammonia and roses.

AJH: Go to your actual location. Get away from the idea and get to the actual thing.

DBC: Use the familiar to make the alien not as alien.

WD: Turkey City Lexicon

ConCarolinas 2015 Wrap-Up

ConCarolinas is my favorite convention. It’s a local con, just across the NC/SC border from me, so it’s almost like a great big reunion with all my favorite people every year. This year was a little different though. This was my first year going to the con as a  guest! I was accepted as an editor guest on the writing track (yay, Clicking Keys!) and was able to sit on four fabulous panels with some amazing writers. I’m planning to do a separate post about each panel, so look for that coming up in the next few days. The panels I sat on were “Editors and Agents,” “Blogging for Writers,” “The Bad Ones,” and “Stereotypes and How to Avoid Them.”

What I really want to talk about today is the reason for attending conventions. For me (and many others, I’d imagine) it isn’t to make money or sell hundreds of books. Even though that’s great and definitely a factor, it’s secondary to the best reason for attending. The best reason? The people.

This year I was able to have lunch with two of my favorite writers on the planet have dinner with another wonderful, sweet, and amazing writer; share drinks with friends, fellow writers, and fellow editors; and meet so many new people. By the time I left, I was so exhausted that I could barely stand up, but I was so happy and fulfilled that it didn’t matter at all. I was able to spend time with people that I don’t normally get to see, get to know people I already knew a lot better, and make new friends.

I am so thankful to be a part of the writing community. It’s one of the warmest and most supportive groups I have ever met.

IMG_0304 Here are some of the books I bought over the weekend. We have here (from top to bottom) Raising Hell and Straight to Hell by John G. Hartness, Behind the Red Door by Alexandra Christian, Living Dead Girl and Windfire by Tamsin L. Silver, The Mussorgsky Riddle by Darin Kennedy, and War of the Seasons book 2 by Janine Spendlove.


My buddy Sharon Stogner of Devil in the Details Editing Services took this picture of me and my family in the lobby. How cool is that fountain?


This is my husband, Jason Gilbert (who runs Fail-Flix) setting up the table with his books, Faith Hunter‘s books, and Misty Massey‘s books. (Misty usually has chocolate treasures, y’all.)


And, last but not least, here I am taking a selfie with Baart from I Smell Sheep while waiting for the Blogging for Writers panel to start.

I am ready to do it again! I hope to have printed books to sell next year, as my first season of the Maggie stories will be out at the end of September.

Maggie #3

I’m meeting with some of my favorite folks and fellow writers this evening for a few hours of writing. I’ll be working on the third Maggie the Gatherer story, “The Water’s Edge.”

This story picks up after “The Magician’s Secret” and we get to find out what the Guides decide about Maggie’s magic! Oh, and there are dead bodies washing ashore and waves full of jellyfish. It’ll be fun!

Release date: May 28, 2015

So, here’s the cover! It’s my favorite so far. What do you think?


Confession Time

I have a confession to make. 

I started writing the Maggie stories simply as an experiment. I have been working with self-published writers for about a year now through Clicking Keys. I have worked with them on editing, proofreading, formatting, and some cover art.

The thing I didn’t understand fully, however, was how the process worked once my work was finished. What happened next? What sort of challenges might the author face once they had a formatted and edited document in hand? Those are the things I wanted to know and to experience firsthand.

Thus, I decided that I would self-publish some of my own works, not only to help me be better at my job, but also because I enjoy telling stories. I have learned a lot from the process. I’ve learned what challenges a writer faces when it comes to figuring out KDP’s royalties, what types of files KDP likes best (and doesn’t like), and I’ve been able to experiment more with formatting without the fear of screwing up someone else’s work while I play around with different options.

However, I’ve actually learned more about writing than I expected to learn. I’ve done the entire process from writing to cover art by myself, except the editing part. I have a wonderful editor friend (Yay, Sharon Stogner!) who proofreads my work for me because no writer should ever edit their own work. She gives me wonderful tips and loads of advice. I am forever grateful for her. Through this process, I have learned what kinds of editing marks might be confusing to an author, what the changes look like on the receiving end, and that writers don’t have to accept any suggestion I make. I also learned how nervous writers can be when waiting for their email inbox to ding and see the edited file come back and how great it can feel to read something as simple as “you’re getting better.”

They always say (as much as I dislike the all-knowing “they”) that you learn best by doing. They also say that if you really want to understand, put yourself in someone else’s shoes. So, that’s what I have done. Through this process, I have created characters that I love, but I have also learned so much more about the writer’s side of publishing than I ever expected.

I hope that this experiment will make me a better writer, and I know it will make me a better editor. I am still working on a novel that I hope to publish traditionally, but I plan to continue writing stories in Maggie’s world. Once this set of stories (the first year or season, if you will) is complete, I plan to explore CreateSpace a little more and self-publish the collection in hardcopy.

Thanks for reading, and thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m having a blast.