I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille!

“I’m walking on sunshine…Whoa-oh-oh!” Feet tapping, hands drumming, and head bobbing, this author’s day has gotten a little brighter than it was a moment before. And it was pretty darned bright already with Samhain looming on the horizon!

Why, whatever is going on, B.C.?

Well,if you insist, the first review of my latest novel, A Touch of Darkness, a paranormal mystery, has received its first review today.

Drumroll, please……

FIVE STARS!

Reviewed by Toni V. Sweeney, author of Walk the Blood Trail, Blood Curse, and many many more, the story has received a favorable review and received a Five Star rating!

Try to imagine my immense and total JOY! at this moment, will ya? Now multiple it by, like, TEN THOUSAND!!

Here is Toni’s review as follows:

Abbey St. Michael is a special police consultant, a woman with psychic abilities enabling her to “read” the dead and relive their last moments. This so-called gift recently got her a two-year stay at a special therapeutic facilities in San Cabo, a refuge and rehabilitation haven for people driven to their mental limits by the paranormal. Now, she’s back, and called to the scene of a murder, that of a child…no small task for someone who lost her own baby while in pursuit of a criminal and still carries that guilt with her. Abbey reads the dead by touching them, so keeps herself insulated from any other contact with layers of clothing and special gloves. Anything she touches has to be cleaned continually to wash away residual energy. Even humans carry others memories as well as their own and because of that, Abbey hasn’t touched another living creature in years. That in itself creates problems of a more personal nature.

This present case is one which will push her to the limit. The child’s body carries no memories. Not one. Someone—or something—has erased them. Only the murder weapon holds a trace of the crime but not enough to give the killer’s identity, so the police have nothing to go on. When more children’s bodies are discovered with the same result, Abbey believes a negator, someone who can absorb or destroy living energy, is responsible. Her investigations tell her there are only a few negators registered and they all check out, so the killer is not only not one of them, he’s more powerful than any known so far, and he’s not documented anywhere.

Into this turmoil, Abbey’s personal life takes a sudden wonderful, albeit devastating turn, as she gains the notice of her new neighbor Nik Romanov, a handsome restauranteur. Wanting to reach out to Nik, Abbey refuses to allow herself the pain of absorbing all his memories along with the others she now possesses but Nik doesn’t give up easily. His persistence pays off, and Abbey discovers something wonderful…with Nik, there are no memories. When she’s with him, there a total blank with only her own emotions in play. Her joy—and their lovemaking—is heaven, and even Nik’s statement that he has to tell her something about himself doesn’t quell her desire.

The murders continue, Nik offering Abbey little respites from her inner turmoil over finding the negator. Then Nik’s grandmother tells Abbey her lover’s secret: her grandson is able to block energy, psychic or otherwise. Nik is a negator, a very powerful one, and his family has kept his secret all his life. Now Abbey has to face the truth and force herself to do something which breaks her heart as she realizes the man she loves, the only living creature she’s allowed into her life since her gift emerged full force, may be the killer she’s been pursuing…

MY OPINION: WOW! That’s all I’ve got to say. (Not really.) Followed by tense, gripping, emotion-wrenching, gritty, eerie, sexy, and any other powerful adjective you want to add. Abbey’s angst over her “gift”, her pain over choosing to use it in the face of her grief, and the horror she faces in her decision to continue after the killer—though he may be the man she loves—comes through with heart-breaking clarity. Nik is written in such a way he’ll capture your heart no matter what he turns out to be. More Abbey St. Michael stories, and please keep Nik in them! Abbey need him, no matter what.

RATING: Five Stars

Bom-chika-wow-wow!! Happy dance!

This is the first review A Touch of Darkness has received, but surely it won’t be the last. Here’s to hoping that every review given from here on out is the same (OK, well not “the same” because that would be plagiarism, and plagiarism is bad, kiddies, but you know what I mean). So tonight join me in raising a glass to the first of many awesome reviews for my latest book, A Touch of Darkness! And, if you’re feeling froggy, you could swing by and join me for that raised glass…But, be warned, the happiness dance is usually performed in my skivvies in the moonlight filtering through the windows in my living and/or bedroom, dependent upon my location when the mood to dance overtakes me. 🙂

B.C. Brown

Quinessential Querying

I often hear (and say) that writing a query letter to an agent is one of the the single-most scary (is that even grammatically correct? Ah, screw it!) aspect of being a writer. One might be inclined to think it would more so be a matter of writing anywhere from 60,000 – 120,000 words, or trying to create realistic and believable (hell, even likable!) characters? But, no! You’d be dead wrong! More writers cower in terror (after they conquer their debilitating fear of rejection, that is) of the ever-present and looming QUERY LETTER.

This query letter process might as well be spelled WRITER’S BLOCK. Because that is what happens…we freeze. We get stuck trying to figure out how to sell our story to a person (a professional at that!) without being a) over-eager (and by this I mean pushy as all hell!), b) cheesy (My 120,000 word YA novel is a must-read for any teenager dealing with anger at parental figures, body-image issues, or peer pressure!), or c) plain stupid (People tell me all the time how good my story is!).

It’s not a fear of rejection. (As I believe I’ve mentioned, we’ve jumped this hurdle already and decided to query someone for Pete’s sake.) If we were afraid of rejection still, we wouldn’t be sitting down to write a query letter after all. So what is it that has us so locked up?

It could be those danged questions we have floating around in our brain…like… What do agents/publishers really look for in a query letter? Well, I worship follow this absolutely awesome agent’s blog who gives a low down on exactly what it is that agents he looks for in a query letter. Follow your click-happy-self over to here:

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2008/03/query-letter-mad-lib.html

B.C. Brown

Through the Wormhole- Interview with author P.M. Russell


“Once upon a time…” This is how most children’s stories begin. It’s a rare treat to find a children’s author who takes a journey that does not start off with the classic introduction. Admittedly, I am not a big children’s story reader. As I do not have children of my own, I find myself glossing over most children’s stories on a whole, but an author came to my attention a few years back whose story was intriguing. This woman wanted to write stories for children that had actual scientific information in them. Basically, she wanted to write intelligent fiction for kids. Hum…interesting idea, I thought. After contacting the author, I read her work – and absolutely LOVED it! I immediately wanted to introduce her stories to my nephew (who was then younger) and wanted to read more. So, in my effort to perpetuate good literature of all genres, I asked my friend to join me in an interview. Today we’ll get to know a little bit about my friend and author P.M. Russell. So everyone give her a big round of applause, and we’ll drive right into the meat of the interview!

What made you decide you wanted to write children’s books?

I believe children have a great capacity for learning. They are able to learn an entire language in one year. I think it’s a waste of time to talk baby talk to a baby or read nonsense to a very young child. Children are learning about the world they live in from the very start by using their senses. It is critical to give kids accurate information. My son went to Montessori. It is a wonderful school that believes young children are capable of learning more than they are given credit for. The school teaches visually. My son was reading by the age of three because he was taught whole words, rather than individual letters. He learned math at Montessori by using beads and writing series of numbers. By the time he was ready for first grade, he was tested at third grade level. Conversely, I saw how other children were being trained to be children. They were not exposed to advanced knowledge because they believed children were not capable of comprehending it. That is why I wrote The Wormhole Adventures.

I had trouble finding good books on advanced subjects for children, so I made my own.

Einstein was a great thinker, but not always a good student. This was because he was determined to do things his own way. He sometimes knew more than the teacher and was considered obstinate. I didn’t want my son to be held back just because he was young. He is now 13 and has already taken his SATs. He is in a class with several students like him who are advanced. As a result, they are allowed the freedom to excel. I truly believe if the opportunity were available, more kids would do extremely well.

Do you do a lot of research on the scientific topics you cover in your books?

Research is a very important part of the process. Unless you are writing a complete fantasy without any regard to reality, research is critical. A reader cannot take a fictional tale very seriously if the subject matter completely disregards reality. For example, if you are writing a baseball story, it wouldn’t have the same impact if the rules of baseball were inaccurate. I researched Einstein’s theories as well as the study of ravens when writing my story.

It was important for me to educate as well as entertain. I’ve read historical fiction that wasn’t entirely accurate with regards to history. As a result, I doubted the credibility of the author in other books. If you are going to write on a subject, even in a fictional setting, it’s important to keep the facts surrounding the story accurate.

Many writers have Beta readers to test their stories out on prior to publishing, do you read your stories to kids you know in much the same function?

When I completed my book, I read it to my son and his nephew. They gave me invaluable feedback from a child’s point of view. I did have an editor look it over before I submitted it for technical accuracy.

I know you also freelance write in addition to writing children’s books; tell us a little more about that portion of your writing.

When I was in college, I was required to send off research articles to magazines. I learned a great deal about the process and had an article published in financial magazine. I wrote about a local business which was shutting down and how it affected, not only the workers but the community as a whole. Several individuals attempted to buy the company themselves and reopen it, only to find it was beyond their means.

I subsequently sent off more articles and had work published in several other periodicals. Some were trade magazines, regional publications as well as a parenting magazine. I knew of one woman who wrote over 50 articles on how bleach and ammonia combined is poisonous. Many people were using these common cleaning products together without realizing the dangers. She modified the article to fit the periodical she was sending it to. As a result, she did very well using only one subject matter. I, on the other hand, have written on a wide variety of topics. If I notice something of interest, I research it and decide if there’s a need for more information on the topic. There is so much information out there, but not all of it is accurate. Clarifying a common misconception can make for a great article. Focusing on specific genres can make for interesting topics as well. My sister creates miniature toy theaters. She attends miniature artist conventions and writes about the artists. Any topic can be a basis for a magazine article. Researching the types of magazines available will give you an idea of the themes needed for articles.

Was it difficult to establish yourself as a freelancer? What steps did you take?

As I said before, it was a course requirement in college. My professor, the late Caroline Dow, was a former People magazine columnist. She passed on her great wisdom to her students. She taught me to write with a passion and a purpose. With her as my mentor, I learned to write within areas that I had an interest. You can’t write a good article on a subject you care nothing about. That passion is the foundation for your writing. Accurate background research is also imperative. Together, they can form a timely human interest piece which magazines thrive on. Anything you’ve ever written can be used in a resume. A magazine publisher wants to see what you’ve done in the past. At the same time, they want know your expertise. What have you done which demonstrates your knowledge in a specific field? Career highlights and volunteer work can show where your knowledge and experience lies. There are thousands of periodicals out there. You don’t need an agent to send articles to magazines. The key is to keep sending out the articles. Also, read the magazines in which you are sending the article. You must be familiar with the type of information they publish. Libraries have a large selection of magazines available. Spend time browsing magazines of interest and take notes.

Since you seem to have established yourself in the writing business, what advice would you give to other writers really just getting started?

One thing I learned over the years is to never give up. If you have a passion for something, follow it. Don’t ever talk yourself out of following a dream. I firmly believe that we create our own destiny. If we don’t believe in ourselves, no one else will. Even the most successful authors went through rejection when they started out. Opening yourself up to possible rejection takes courage. The easiest thing to do is nothing. It takes initiative and confidence to follow the path less traveled. However, your life will be so much the better for it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Patricia, for taking the time to speak with me! You can find P.M. Russell’s books on her website www.pmrussell.com and in brick and mortar stores as well as online at Amazon and other fine online retailers. I know I (and my nephew) are eagerly awaiting her next book where we’re hoping she’ll taking us through the wormhole on another fantastic and informative adventure!

UPDATE: Patricia has a new novel since this article published entitled The Wormhole Adventures: The Dickens You Say. Click here to read more about it.