Sunday, 29 January 2012

Midnight Oil by Marva Dasef

My special guest today is Marva Dasef. Marva's first book in the Witches of Galdorheim series Bad Spelling came second in the children's fiction section of the recent P&E reader polls. It also appeared in the Top Ten of the YA section.

Marva is offering a free e-book to a lucky blog reader here today. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is read this post and leave a comment.

                            Love the tagline for the book--irresistible.

About Midnight Oil

MIDNIGHT OIL is Book 2 of the Witches of

Shipwrecked on a legendary island, how can a
witch rescue her boyfriend if she can’t even
phone home?

MuseItUp Buy Page:


Kat discovers that an evil forest spirit has
kidnapped her brand-new boyfriend. She sets out
with her brother, Rune, from her Arctic island
home on a mission to rescue the boy. 

Things go wrong from the start. Kat is thrown overboard
during a violent storm, while her brother and
his girlfriend are captured by a mutant island
tribe. The mutants hold the girlfriend hostage,
demanding that the teens recover the only thing
that can make the mutants human again–the
magical Midnight Oil.

Mustering every bit of her Wiccan magic, Kat
rises to the challenge. She invokes her magical
skills, learns to fly an ultralight, meets a
legendary sea serpent, rescues her boyfriend,
and helps a friendly air spirit win the battle
against her spiteful sibling. On top of it all,
she’s able to recover the Midnight Oil and help
the hapless mutants in the nick of time.

The Buddy Story: Rune and Ivansi

Butch and Sundance, Crosby and Hope, Han Solo
and Chewbacca. All buddy movies, despite being
in completely different genres. There’s
something primal about two guys getting
together and going on an adventure.

While Midnight Oil focuses mainly on Kat’s
journey, the relationship between Rune (Kat’s
half brother) and Ivansi (Kat’s grandfather) is
a close second. The two hardly know each other
at the beginning of the story, but learn about
each others’ strengths and weaknesses as they
are thrown together to find the elusive and
magical Midnight Oil.

The young warlock and the old warrior have a
difficult task to handle. They’re the pair who
have to talk to the Nenets gods to locate the
oil, then have a long and difficult journey to
get to it. Most of the trip is by sea, but when
the two hit land, they’re on foot. They’d
really like to find another mode of

Excerpt from Midnight Oil:

Midnight Oil
 The men continued to talk, and Rune listened,
picking up a word here and there. He wondered
if he could sneak a translation spell in with
nobody noticing. Rune decided against it since
it required speaking Old Runic and using a
summoning gesture. Big red letters would form
over his head, spelling out W-A-R-L-O-C-K. Best
to leave well enough alone and just let Ivansi
handle this.

Ivansi and the headman stood. Rune jumped up,
too. The two men walked away from the group
toward a small lean-to shed next to the house.
The man opened the swinging door, and Rune’s

eyes lit up. He quickly suppressed the glow and
grinned. The scooter! It had a logo on its
front end written in chrome italic lettering—

The scooter had a two-person seat. The front-
end consisted of a curved shield designed to
protect the rider’s legs, topped by a
headlight. On the inside of the knee shield, he
saw a couple of dials: speedometer and RPM. A
short windshield stuck up from the handlebars.
It wasn’t much different from the snowmobiles
Rune had a chance to ride with the trolls.
Wheels instead of skids, and it had a much
smaller engine than the snowmobiles. Rear view
mirrors stood up on both ends of the
handlebars. Rune could hardly wait to fire it

The two men bantered a couple of minutes. Rune
could recognize a bartering session in any
language. Ivansi took out his hunting knife
from its sheath and handed it to the man, who
inspected it closely. It was a beautiful knife,
with an etched blade and an elaborately carved
handle made from walrus tusk. The tusk was
yellowed with age, but the blade flashed in the
sunlight, clean and sharp.

The man nodded. Ivansi unbuckled his belt, slid
the sheath from it, and held it out to the man,
who grinned broadly as he inspected it. Then,
he set the knife on a shelf and dug into a
pouch tied on his belt. He handed a key to
Ivansi who passed it to Rune. “Can drive?”

“Oh, yeah! No problem.” Rune slid the key into
the ignition, grasped the handlebars, toed up
the kickstand, and walked it out of the shed.
The man followed, pointing to this or that
control. Rune didn’t know what he was saying
but got the idea. He looked it over, pulled on
the hand brakes to see if they moved smoothly.

The scooter proved to be in excellent
condition. And red! Rune thought it an omen
that the scooter came in ‘his’ color.
Ivansi gave thanks to the Vespa’s owner. Man
and boy mounted their wheeled steed. Rune
turned the key, and the little engine buzzed
like a mad wasp. He let out the hand clutch,
the scooter hopped a couple of times, and they
took off down the road. The purple haze ran
ahead of them, showing them the way to Finland.

                                          * * * *

Learn more about Marva and her work:


Book Trailer: v=tdfNTVeMS1s

Social Sites:
Twitter Handle: @Gurina

Other Books by Marva Dasef from MuseItUp:

Bad Spelling: Book 1 of the Witches of Galdorheim 

A klutzy witch, a shaman's curse, a quest to save her 
family. Can Kat find her magic in time?

Missing, Assumed Dead

Prejudice, murder, insanity, suicide: Every
small town has its secrets.

Thanks and Questions

Thanks for being with us today, Marva. I love buddy stories. If you have any questions for Marva, please post them below. And remember please to leave a comment or question below for a chance to win a free e-book from Marva.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Writing Incentives

 Writing Competitions

 Competitions often make great writing incentives, especially when the entry fee is low and the prize money is relatively high. Add the bonus of publication and you have an ideal scenario.

Eclat Fiction is seeking short story submissions of under 1500 words  for its second be published on March 1. Three top prizewinners plus five runner up entries will be published. The prizes are a generous £100 for first, £50 for second and £20 for third.

The entry fee is a donation via Paypal and it is left to the author to decide what to donate. Be careful to read the guidelines carefully.  The deadline is midnight on February 6 but if you are in USA or Canada, remember to check the difference in time zones. To be safe, send your email with story attached as a word.doc by December 5 at the latest.

You can find the first edition of Eclat Fiction on the site. It's free to read so you can get a fair idea of the standard and what the editor is looking for. There is no set theme but children's fiction and non-fiction are not accepted.

An extensive list of short story competitions including those for flash fiction and children's stories can be found on the Writers Reign website. Note that the closing date for the Twisted Americana competition is now March 12.  But be warned. They are looking for dark, very dark, crime fiction.The clue lies in the title.

Overcome fear of submissions

The only sure way of being published is to submit your work. Seems obvious--but for many of us the submissions process can be too high a hurdle.

For this reason I heartily recommend  Pub Sub 3rd Friday
the brainwave of author and illustrator Joan Y Edwards.

Her point is simple. The more you submit, the more likely are your chances of being published.

It's certainly worth a try.

 Slow writers

And just to cheer up those of us with the everlasting Work In Progress:

Novelist William H. Gass took nearly thirty years to complete his acclaimed novel The Tunnel.

And Californian novelist Thomas Sanchez  has taken nearly a decade to write several of his books.

One of my favourite books is The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society  another wonderful novel which took years to write. Sadly the author, Mary Ann Shaffer died before it was finally published and the novel, a best seller, was in the end completed by her niece Annie Barrows, herself an author.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Starting a Career as a Children's Writer

Three sites and challenges this month are specifically geared to encourage new writers considering entering the world of children's fiction.

The Academy of Children's  Writers based in the U.K. is now promoting its twenty-sixth annual Write a Story for Children competition. It's the ideal event for as yet unpublished children's writers over 18. Even if you have had work published, you are free to enter provided you received no payment.

Tempting cash prizes of £2000 (U.S.$3400, or 2800 euros) for first place, £300 for second and £200 for third placed story certainly make it worth polishing up a 2000 word or less children's story to send by the closing date of March 31. Only one entry per person and the entry fees are reasonable too.

Sadly email submissions are not accepted so you must make sure to post your entry in time. All rules, conditions of entry and the official entry form are on the Academy of Children's Writers website.

The story can be  for children of any age including teenagers. But for younger readers, you may be considering writing a picture book.

So let's find out....

What is a picture book?

Yep, we all know what a picture book is. We all love them but how do you go about writing them? 

Some intriguing information about the basic construction of picture books can be found on the Editorial Anonymous site. I had no idea there was so much involved in the counting of words and pages until I read this. And make sure to read through the comments too to garner a wealth of information if you're new to the business of writing picture books.

Tara Lazar has also an informative account of picture book construction on her WordPress site and 52 comments to add to the info..

Joan Y Edwards has produced a wonderfully useful overview of picture books including 25 listed resources. This is the best place to start if you're new to the genre.

If you still think you'd like to write a picture book, there are two picture book challenges starting this month to give you further practice, mentoring and support.

Picture Book Challenges

The first picture book challenge publicised by Lee Wind of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators has already started and I'm afraid it's just too late for you to sign up officially and be eligible for the Agent Review at the end of the challenge.

But if you're new to the business of creating a picture book dummy, you can learn a lot and profit from the motivation afforded by working alongside experienced writers and illustrators And, of course, pick up some marvelous tips along the way.

The picture book dummy challenge has already started but you still have time to catch up, especially if you already have ideas and inspiration buzzing around in your head.
All you need to know to get started is here on the KidLitArt site.

There are no rules to follow when taking part. The idea is to enjoy yourself while accomplishing something you want to do. To get the most from taking part, involve yourself in the community posts and discussions and check in regularly. You'll meet people who'll really try to help you achieve your ambitions

12 x 12 Challenge

I picked this one up from Julie Hedlund's lovely blog. You have until January 29 to sign up. Twelve drafts in twelve months. Sounds easy, huh? Tell me how you got on next year at this time LOL

The wonderful thing about challenges is that no matter how much or how little you complete, you will always have pushed yourself that little bit further along your road as a recognised writer.

Challenges are easy to find

Challenge yourself. Whatever you want to learn or do, just use your search engine to find a suitable challenge community to join to keep you motivated on the long road to recognition.

Or set up your own challenge on your blog to find more readers and followers.

And a challenge for readers
 I'm now a judge for the Global eBook Awards and you can be too.
Applications and instructions are here

If you like reading, it seems to me a win-win situation. You get to read free e-books in the category of your choice though you can't judge a section where you have a book of your own entered LOL. And you and your website will garner extra publicity from mentions on the Global eBook Award site. You'll be invited to the grand Awards Ceremony later in the year.

And you get this lovely little logo for your website, blog or whatever. Don't tell me it doesn't look imposing. LOL

Are you up for the challenge? What challenges are you considering taking on for 2012?

Monday, 9 January 2012

How to Succeed...

...without really trying is no longer an option. And to be truthful, success has a direct correlation with  achievable ambition. Deadlines met, articles written, books sold: all equate to success though they may not equate to fame. To succeed as a writer, have  the confidence to first of all write, and then to sell.

And there's the rub. The marketing and selling take time, often too much time out of the writing day. Very few writers have the luxury of treating their work as a full-time job. To add marketing into the tricky mix of life commitments can be one job too many.

Some writers are much better at marketing than others. For that reason banding and bonding in writers' groups makes total sense when it comes to spreading the word.

But choose carefully.

The Advantage of Writers' Groups

  •  Meet like-minded authors with the same goals and aspirations
  •  Ask for and receive advice and support about  writing and marketing
  •  Access to all the knowledge and accumulated resources of the group as a whole
  •  Support when it comes to promoting your materials. 

The Disadvantage of Writers' Groups

  •  Too many emails, promoting work you  know nothing about.
  •  Conflicting advice when it comes to problem solving. 
  •  Too much time spent reading and learning from others and too little doing any work of your own. 
  •   Too broad spectrum of interest.

January Marketing Ideas

The best promotion can often be invisible. Create a following for yourself by following others. Promoting to writers ia always good because all writers read, right? But not all readers write.

The January blog comment challenge at Mother Reader has already opened my eyes to new possibilities for writing, reading and promotion. Aimed mainly at children's and YA writers, it invites you to sign up and comment on five of the participating blogs per day. Not as arduous a task as it sounds. Comment on 100 blogs during 21 days. It has already started but you can easily catch up if you want to. I've been going for two days now and thoroughly enjoying it. Thanks Mary Jo for recommending this one.

Think about it. Your name linked to your website is heading every comment and you're hitting 100 new sites.

From participating, I found The European Reading Challenge  which again I shall most certainly take on. There are both European and American sections. (Apologies to my Australian friends. You'll have to check out the site for yourselves. LOL) For this we must read five books and review them before January 31 2013, each from a different European country and written by different European authors.

Several other challenges appear on the site and again it  seems to me a way of inculcating best practice  when it comes to enhancing
  • your writing speed
  • your literary knowlege
  • interest in your own genre and books.
Anybody interested in joining me? Or do you have other challenges and award promotion possibilities lined up for this month?

Friday, 6 January 2012

Seven Steps to Writing for Article Directories

 Today I am delighted to welcome as a guest Karen Cioffi, writer, editor and marketing expert. Karen's children's book Walking Through Walls is riding high in the Preditors and Editors' 2011 Poll and you can vote for it here.

For those who aren't familiar with the book, it's a children's middle grade fantasy adventure. Find out more about Walking Through Walls.


If, like me, you were lucky enough to enrol in the course she co-hosted with Magdalena Bell at Muse Conference last year, you will already know how valuable her advice is.
Without more ado--over to Karen.

How to Attract Customers with Informational Marketing

7 Steps to Writing for Article Directories

( from How to Attract Customers With Informational Marketing)
by Karen Cioffi

Among marketing strategies, writing for article directories is certainly up there. It offers a large readership with the advantage of having those readers click back to your site. It also offers the opportunity of those readers reprinting your article on their blogs and in their newsletters.

While it is writing for free, it should be considered a part of your business expense, at least your time aspect of it. Just like any other form of marketing it is used to create and increase your visibility. It’s an investment.

While it can get tedious having to write and submit articles to the directories, the articles don’t have to be long. Here are seven steps to writing for the directories:

1. Create a title

Your title is by far the most important element of your article. The keywords in the title will allow the search engines to categorize your article properly. This in turn provides a trail for online searchers looking for the topic of your content to find your article.

The title and title keywords should accurately reflect what the article is about. If they don’t, you’ll lose credibility with the search engines.

To check out the effectiveness of your keywords try:

2. Write an outline

This is optional, because there are many writers who can write with the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method. But, if you are more comfortable with an outline, that’s fine. It does provide structure.

3. Create List, How-to, and Step-by-Step articles

This is a popular way to go. Readers love to see simple 1 2 3 lists of what they should do or should NOT do.

Be sure to include your keyword/s in the title, subtitles, first paragraph and a couple of times throughout the article. Just don’t overdo it.

4. Parts of the article

Your first paragraph should be interesting and let the reader know what the article is about, but don’t give away too much – you want the reader to continue reading.

Your second paragraph or section should inform and elaborate on the first paragraph. This part should fulfill the reader’s expectations.

Your last paragraph should sum up what the article is about and conclude with a lead-in to your resource box.

5. Write the minimum word count or just above

Check the guidelines for each particular directory. The minimum word count is usually around 400. But, check the site to make sure. Burn-out is easy with article marketing, especially when you’re writing for your own sites also. Keeping the articles short and to the point helps in this area.

6. The resource box

Some sites allow you to include a resource box which is about you and what you can offer the reader. Check the site’s guidelines because they may have specific requirements for the length of the resource box in relation to the length of the article. And, they may prohibit links to affiliate sites or promotional sites.


Once your article is complete, submit to a number of article directories.

Note: If you are submitting to a lot of directories, try to change the title of the article and spin the content a bit for each directory. This will make the search engines think it’s new content.

If you want to be sure your content won’t be picked up as duplicate content by Google, check out the site below; it will give you a duplicate content score.

WordsFinder Duplicate Content Checker and Article Rewrite Comparison

Karen Cioffi is a published author, freelance writer, and marketer, and to start the New Year with a BANG, from January 1 through February 28, 2012, she is offering all her writing and marketing e-books (purchased directly from her site/s using the Paypal SHOPPING CART) for  $1.19 each. And, this will include new titles added within that time period.

For a complete list of the available titles and links to more information, visit Karen's website.

For a complete list (with brief descriptions of each ebook) go to:

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


New Year 2012 and coming to terms with the fact that I shall never set the world or even the New York Times Booklist alight with my novels. But they have taught me one thing: how to edit better year by year.

Working with Muse It Up Publishing, one of the success stories of e-book publishing 2011, I have learned about genres I might never have considered adding to my own booklist before. My authors are from the world of romance, romantic suspense, cozy mystery, urban fantasy, sci fi, YA, MG and cross-genres.

I am nominated again in the Preditor and Editor's Poll (vote for me please before January 10 LOL) and currently bursting with pride at sitting just behind some of the best editors in the business.

Many of my books edited and published throughout 2011 have also been gaining five star reviews and at the time of writing are topping the polls in their own categories. So the New Year is starting on a real high.

Others I know will top the lists next year.

Must Do Better

This is the bit I log and never look at till the beginning of the next New Year but falling behind in:

Blog: I do this far too irregularly and without focus

Websites: I have two to complete and one to do for someone else. Spent last month learning to set up a Joomla site. Just love the possibilities but need to finish off the content before going live.

Marketing: Yes, editors need to market too, both to promote the books on their list and to find new authors. ...still looking for my Hemingway.


This is always a highlight of the New Year for me--an editing bonanza where professional editors mentor a team of authors working to polish their books to publication standard. Last year's authors are already boasting an impressive list of publication acceptances and many are back completing the next book in their series.

There's still time to join up as we've only just started. If you want to finish that problem book, this is your chance. Or put it on the Christmas present wishlist for next year :-)

At MuseItUp we don't in the main handle literary fiction so this is my chance to work with others in that field as well as those writing more commercial genres.

Coming Soon. . .

Join me Friday when I host guest writer and editor Karen Cioffi with an article on writing for article directories--a great way to get your name out there--and some very special offers. Click her link to find out about the free workshop.