Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Special Halloween Interview: Tabitha Short, Author, THE CORPSES OF OLD HILL ROAD

Tabitha Short, Author

Horror and young adult fantasy fiction author Tabitha Short joins us to heighten our Halloween experience. Tabitha has written several chilling short stories. Her newest contribution to make you scream is THE CORPSES OF OLD HILL ROAD.  You might want to check out her Book Trailer to put you in the mood. 

Tabitha has also written a young adult fantasy novel scheduled for release next year. When she’s not writing, she works as a Supported Employment Specialist for a mental health agency and is involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In her spare time she likes to hang out with her husband watching movies.

Q: What do you consider “horror”?

Tabitha Short: For me a horror story is a combination of appropriate gore and psychological conundrums. I enjoy unsuspected endings.

Q: How do you make your stories such as THE CORPSES OF OLD HILL ROAD “scary”?

Tabitha Short: I include dramatic descriptions to increase visualization. I also invest a lot in character creation and development. I like to make readers identify with the characters so they can feel what they are going through and really get connected with the story. If the reader hasn’t felt something while reading my story then I have failed.

Q: What inspires you to write horror stories?

Tabitha Short: If someone had told me a year ago that today I’d be writing horror stories I’d have laughed. My husband tends to have horrific dreams and shares them with me so the majority of my horror stories have been developed from those.

Q:  I notice that your first novel will be published early 2013.  It is young adult fantasy fiction. Have you crossed out of the horror genre? Or will we see some scary scenes in it, as well?

Tabitha Short:  The fantasy fiction does not include any horror aspects in it, although it does include a murderous scene. I intend to continue writing horror fiction stories, but for the novels I plan to keep them in the fantasy fiction and thriller/mystery genres.

Q: How do you make us care about your characters?

Tabitha Short: My formula for making a reader care about a character is to create characters that the readers can identify with. I give them characteristics that the majority of the population will have. On the reverse side of things, for this story in particular I created a character a reader will love to hate. He is egotistical and arrogant. I can’t stand him and I hope my readers can’t either.

Q: How important is back story? Do you do any research for credibility?

Tabitha Short:  Unless you’re writing a novel a back story is not important at all. For short stories less is always more. One previous short I wrote titled The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO left out the back story because adding it would have created two problems. First, it would have taken away from the story being told because readers would have to detach themselves from the story to learn another story first. Second it would have made the short story into a long story. However, for novels, it’s best to tell the back story because you have the space and time for it.

Q: Why are you a writer?  When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?

Tabitha Short: I write because I am a storyteller. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer. I got a lot of awards for writing growing up and it was pretty much the only thing I was good at. I went to college on journalism scholarships and spent a lot time editing and writing articles.

About Tabitha Short

Tabitha Short is the writer of many horror short stories including The Roller Coaster of Death (found in the compilation titled Misery Loves Company) and The Please DO Feed The Animals ZOO. Her YA novel, Arena Games: Petrova's Legacy, is contracted and due for publication January 19, 2013. You can purchase her books at amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and smashwords.com as well as at her author website at http://www.authortabithashort.blogspot.com. Tabitha also operates the literary blog The First Five Pages.


He wakes up every morning knowing the world owes him something. Every woman was created for his demand, except for Vanessa Roundtree and her mother. Once lured onto their farm in the middle of nowhere he becomes their prey. As they torment his body, they break down his arrogance. Will he be able to escape? Or will he become just another of the corpses of Old Farm Hill Road?


His face lit up as his hand gripped the handle of the car door. His entire body felt relief and his chest rattled with cries of happiness. He pulled the handle and the familiar sound of the car door opening that met his ears brought an unsurpassable amount of joy. He climbed into the driver’s seat, arranging his broken leg with his unbroken arm. It was excruciating, but he had to get through it to get away. He was almost there. Sweat beaded up on his forehead and he prayed he wouldn’t pass out again. He just needed a few more hours of consciousness to get out alive.

As his breaths slowed he felt his way to the ignition switch to start the engine. His heart sank when he discovered the keys were not in the ignition. No worries, I can hot wire it, he said to himself. The wiring was easy to find, hidden behind an access cover. Fumbling with the wires because of his swollen fingers, he quickly found the two he needed. Bending forward was agonizing, but he managed it and used his teeth to strip the wires. He twisted the copper strands together and found the purple wire. It gave him a little bit of trouble, but he was able to skin the plastic covering from it as well.

He heard a loud clunk on the hood of the car and his head jerked to attention. Standing in front of the vehicle was Vanessa. She was jingling the keys in her hand.

"YouÖareÖoneÖstupid girl," he said aloud, most of it coming out as nothing more than mumbles. He hit the wires together and the engine stuttered and then came to life. He laughed heartily, his chest rising and falling painfully. He glanced out the front windshield, ready to enjoy the look on the stupid girl’s face, but she was not there. His fingers quickly moved to lock the doors just as he heard her grip the handle. She was at his driver’s side window.

Her face grew angry when she could not open the door. She removed her shirt, wrapped it around her fist and began hitting the driver’s side window, trying to bust it. Mathew put the car in reverse, looked over his shoulder and began to back down the driveway. He was free! As the car rolled down the curved driveway, Vanessa ran after it. He laughed out loud and considered running her over, but thought against it as he neared the end of the driveway.


Twitter: @tabithashort2

Where-to-Buy Links

Friday, October 26, 2012

What the Experts Say: Pakistani Author Mian Mohsin Zia

Mian Mohsin Zia, Author

Pakistani author Mian Mohsin Zia joins us to discuss writing for an international audience across several genres -- romance, thriller and suspense.  He has published three novels, and endeavors to write “meaningful fiction.”

 Q:  When you’re not writing or teaching, what do you do? Hobbies? Sailing? Knitting? Standup comedy? Favorite music?  Favorite authors? Do you have a muse?

Mian Mohsin Zia: I am a Marketing specialist, therefore I am either busy with work or writing or focusing on my exercise in the gym.

I love exercise, it’s my favorite hobby, along with listening to good music and watching movies.

I like Burl Barer. He is an Edgar award winner and New York Times best-selling author. He has written several books and articles. My favorite article by Burl Barer is “The Day My Father Apologized”.

Q: What inspired you to write? And what inspired you to write your genre?

Mian Mohsin Zia: My first book, THE STRANGE LOYALIST was inspired by true events and that got me into writing. Above all, I believe that “when you are destined to achieve something you do achieve it”.

I don’t think that I should be associated or tagged to a particular genre, because so far I’ve written romance, thriller and suspense novels. I want to be an author who writes in multiple genres. Like an actor tries romance, suspense, or comedy, similarly I want to experiment and come up with something new and different for my readers. I endeavor to touch the hearts of the readers so that they can cherish the story and message long after they are done reading.

Q: You write for an international audience. Do you do anything special to assure your stories are universal?

Mian Mohsin Zia: Yes, I do write for an international audience, and the rule of thumb is to write from your heart. There are always a few niggles here and there. All you need to do is to try to be creative and realistic. People have the same emotions and feelings worldwide. All you need to do is to present them in an international way keeping in mind the diverse cultures and their values.

Q: You write your books to be exciting AND to deliver a message. How do you manage to do both?  Back story? Through your characters?

Mian Mohsin Zia: I endeavor to write meaningful fiction; a book that leaves you thinking once you are done reading. I want readers to get something from my books. If they pay to buy it then it’s my prime responsibility to deliver them entertainment that is worth their money.

That’s the reason why I offer not just the words themselves, but custom poems, a unique story, a custom picture gallery, an international product and above all a meaningful book. So everyone should get something from the book. I try to do it through my plot and characters.

Q: How do you make your characters compelling? What makes us care about them? Are they based on real people?

Mian Mohsin Zia: When you write from your heart then the story and characters do become compelling and readers do get involved in the story. Feel your characters, visualize the scenes in your mind before you write them and you would be able to make them realistic.

Q: Why do you illustrate your protagonist? I tend to favor allowing the reader to envision my characters based on their own imaginations.  You specifically illustrate your protagonist. Why?

Mian Mohsin Zia: To stand out from the crowd, to give readers something unique and different, one needs to come up with unique marketing strategies. One needs to present his work in a way that grabs the attention of the readers. That is why my books have been great entertainers and have given readers a movie experience while they are reading my book.

That is why, my book ONCE is being considered to be made into a movie by Mr. Burl Barer (Edgar award winner and New York times best-selling author, USA), J.S. Chancellor aka Breanne Braddy (Author, USA) and other professionals and readers worldwide.

Like in a movie, you get a custom background score, or custom song, according to the situation. In my book, you’ll get a custom poem. You will get the pictures of important scenes from the book. You will get an international product, which people from all parts of the world can relate to. You will get entertainment and a message that is not preachy but worth pondering.

You need not to offer just a book but to offer a package. People are more inclined to buy packages.

The competition is stiff and if one can’t give something unique every now and then you don’t deserve to be in this field. I believe that “Life is a circus and MIAN likes to perform when it’s a full house.”

Q: Who are your targeted readers and what are they looking for?

Mian Mohsin Zia: Every person, no matter whether they are young or old, is a part of my targeted readers. I write books for people of all age groups. Every reader who looks for entertainment and a solid book is my targeted reader. That is why I have received great reviews from readers from different parts of the world and from all different walks of life.

Even a high school student or a University graduate, a girl next door or a granny in the apartment above yours, all can enjoy and read my books. I think that is the class of an author that he can entertain and keep his readers engaged through his powerful story, characters and plot.

We all live in a real world and people like real and solid books.

Q: In your opinion, what are the most important elements of a good story?

Mian Mohsin Zia: Everything depends upon the story. Even in a movie, everything is dependent upon the story. When people watch a movie, no matter who the actor is or how the songs and scenes are depicted, unless the story is powerful and compelling it won’t work.

At the end of the day it is a story that is shared in the movie that needs to work with the audience.

For a good story one needs to focus on the uniqueness of the plot, thorough research, creativity and how well you depict the scenes.

Q: What tips would you give to others considering a career in writing?

Mian Mohsin Zia: I believe that no matter whatever level you reach in life getting better never stops. I myself am in the phase of learning to get better day by day. Therefore, all I can say is to write from your heart. Do something today for which you are thankful tomorrow. Maybe the book you write today makes you famous. Therefore when you are writing, write from inside.

Q: What’s next?

Mian Mohsin Zia: I have a few projects in the pipeline but don’t know which one will come first.
·      Autobiography of My Evil Deeds
·      One Woman Man
·      Missing

Q: Do you have anything else to add?

Mian Mohsin Zia: I thank everyone who read my books and shared their feedback on them. I kindly request that you share your reviews and star ratings about my books. Your reviews and ratings are very important to me.

Sincere thanks,
Much Love MIAN!

I love you all.

About Mian Mohsin Zia

Mian Mohsin Zia aka "M I A N---No Time for Love" is a brilliant, humble and dedicated author obsessed with writing great books.

He is an Internationally acclaimed Pakistani author and his books have been rated 4 and 5 stars on Amazon and other sales channels. He has set new trends worldwide in novel writing with his books.

New York Times bestseller & Edgar Award winner author Mr. Burl Barer refers to Mian Mohsin Zia as "the brightest light on Pakistan's new literary horizon."

What would you do if you hurt the woman you loved beyond what is in human nature to forgive? That is the problem that Morkel has to overcome. As the celebrated author, 'M---, No Time for Love', Morkel has vowed to never write a love story, or a story with a female protagonist. A staunch bachelor, Morkel is set in his ways; he has vowed to never fall in love. However, during a holiday in Kiev Morkel meets a 'person of interest'; someone who will change his life forever. Though, as his name suggests, he still has 'no time for love'.

Unfortunately, as he is about to learn, love has time for him and it has come knocking at the door of his heart. Will he open the door or ignore the knocking? Will he abandon the title he has worked so hard to create, and, by so doing, forge for himself a new title and destiny?

How long can love wait for Morkel?

How long will Morkel wait for love?

"Mian is the brightest light on Pakistan's new literary horizon." -- Burl Barer, Edgar Award winner and New York Times best-selling author.

In a world of lightning fast communication, one mistake can transcend time; destroy lives....or save your soul.

Deception, resentment, madness, and vengeance -- Ryan Campbell may be famous, but his life is a living hell.

Ryan Campbell is a tireless champion of women's rights. His dedication unquestioned; his deeds exemplary. There is only one problem. In his inmost heart of hearts, Ryan Campbell hates women. Every battle for gender equality is a battle against his own resentments and ingrained prejudices. The greater his deeds, the deeper his shame. Confused and full of unrest, Ryan has only one question he can ask: "Why me, God?"

Sarah was a normal young woman. She was almost through with her degree and was engaged to be married. With the simple click of a button, her life changed forever. Now, abandoned by those whom she once called friends, she can only ask the question: "Why me, God?"

With insight, compassion and an acute sense of human drama, Mian explores the delicate balance between hypocrisy and redemption. Compelling, gripping, and filled with mystery, 'Victim of Shame' will spark endless conversations, arguments, and discussions.

"'Victim of Shame' gives hope where there is none. Mian creates characters you can really feel for." -- Julie Achterhoff, Author-USA.

"'Victim of Shame' weaves a tale of faith, adversity and strength, landing individuals on paths they never thought possible." -- Ellen M. DuBois, Author-USA.

This book is inspired by true events and based upon real people, places and events.

Out of many, Mike Zander is the one: the only one. He had fame, love, success and admiration; he hated them all. He lost everything he ever had for a sister that was never his; one that slipped through his fingers like one slipped on bloody tiles. Scars of loyalty seared themselves into his soul; scars that force him to remember them when he only wishes to forget; he left them many years ago, but still, they follow him. How long will they continue to pester the present and fiddle with his future?

Mike Zander is a loyalist; caring about others more than he does about himself. Having applied and been accepted into the most prestigious educational institute the country has to offer, Mike enters the quixotic world of SOS. SOS - the prestigious School of Scholars or, as Mike quickly learns to rename it, the School of Scoundrels. It is here he learns how easily the outside beauty of people can mask their inner ugliness and infestations, and how the exact opposite can apply. It is here, at SOS, that he learns to determine in whom to put his trust and whom to avoid.

It is at SOS that he observes the death of his sister and is arrested as her murderer.
Upon his exit from jail, Mike vows to find her murderer, yet who is the woman who bears his sister's exact name? Mike has to find the answer to this question and many more before his revenge is complete. Mike, as said, is a loyalist. What are you? Will you journey with Mike and find out whether you are a loyalist like him or a quixotic like the rest of the campus population?


Monday, October 22, 2012

Special Guest Post: JOURNALISTS DON'T (USUALLY) MAKE STUFF UP by Journalist & Author Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sárka-Jonae Miller, Author

Sárka-Jonae Miller joins us today on her blog tour.  She is a prolific health and fitness writer who has published more than 4000 articles. She has just released her first novel - BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS- a fun coming-of-age story.  In the following article, she tells us how her career as a journalist expedited her transition to novelist. For more information on her blog tour and prizes, please see the link at the end of the post.

Journalists Don’t (Usually) Make Stuff Up
By Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sophie Kinsella, Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez, Kitty Pilgrim, and Jojo Moyes are just some of the big names in women's fiction who made the transition from journalism to writing novels. Although in many ways these two writing disciplines are completely different (journalists do not make stuff up, unless they write for a tabloid), a background in journalism does help aspiring novelists in many ways. I majored in Magazine Journalism mainly so I could get a day job that allowed me to write. I wanted to have something to fall back on if my novel writing career never took off.  What I did not realize was that journalism is the perfect way to support yourself and hone your skills until you are ready to start your fiction writing career.

Many aspiring writers think they can slap together a novel in no time, send it out to publishers, and BAM have a huge advance, adoring fans and a dozen offers to turn their brilliant debut effort into a hit movie. The reality is that writing a novel takes time and significant effort. Writing for print publications or websites helps to pay the bills, improve your writing skills, strengthen your research skills, and connect with people who could help you later when your books get published.

The journalism program I went through strongly emphasized editing skills and correct grammar, which frankly many new writers need. When you write for online or print publications, you are expected to turn in articles that require very little to no editing. People who are not journalists, English teachers or editors are not held to as high of standards for their writing. When they sit down to write a novel, they may produce a great story with wonderful characterization that is also filled with typos and grammar errors. Literary agents and publishers do not have the time to edit manuscripts like they once did. When I sent Between Boyfriends out to literary agents, one of the positive responses I heard often was that my novel, compared to other manuscripts, was refreshingly low on mistakes. A background in journalism makes a huge difference in writing with fewer errors.

Writing articles is not that different from novels in some ways. You have to come up with a beginning that grabs the reader's attention. You have to tell a complete story. Articles have to be outlined, structured, and researched just like books. Instead of inserting helpful pieces of dialogue, you include interesting quotes from sources. This helped me while writing dialogue for BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS because I had a relatively easy time deciding when my characters should talk versus when to simply narrate.

Experience with magazine or online writing is particularly helpful for writing novels because you have more freedom to write with a colorful, conversational tone. Of course magazine writing is much more formal than creative writing, newspapers even more so. Your job as a journalist is to the story based on facts and research, not create the story that you want to tell as you do in fiction.

My journalism degree and the thousands of articles I have written have helped me to convince people to read my novel who otherwise may not have given me the time of day. There are many wonderful new writers out there, so many that most readers, reviewers and publishers are not willing to give them a chance unless something about them stands out. A successful writing career is still a successful writing career. Pair writing, editing and research skills with creativity and imagination and you have a great novelist.

Details on Blog Tour Giveaway

For details about Sárka-Jonae Miller's blog tour giveaway and how you can win an autographed copy of Janet Evanovich's novel Motor Mouth or a signed picture of American Idol star Lauren Alaina, check out her blog.

More on BETWEEN BOYFRIENDS, Sárka-Jonae Miller, and Links

Jan Weston is boy crazy, emphasis on crazy, but when "the one" breaks her heart she vows to change. Jan quits dating and takes a hard look at herself, discovering that she does not like the flawed, spoiled individual she sees in the mirror.

Her progress toward positive change is derailed when her mother discovers she dropped out of San Diego State University to attend massage therapy school. Furious at being lied to, Mrs. Weston cuts Jan off. Now Jan is without a guy, her American Express card, and a way to pay for school. She has to do something so despicable, so vile, so cruel, she almost cannot imagine it: Jan has to get a job.

But maybe that is exactly what she needs? Jan is forced to change how she treats people and to reconsider her values. Through a "comedy of errors" and with the support of her real friends (plus the hottie from massage school) Jan is able to survive, barely. But can she really change or is she just between boyfriends?

About Sárka-Jonae Miller

Sárka-Jonae is both a novelist and a health and fitness writer. She has more than 4,000 articles published online and in print. She is a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.
Before writing full-time, Sárka-Jonae was a personal fitness trainer and massage therapist. In her free time, Sarka-Jonae likes to do flash mobs and find her way into music video shoots. She has appeared in the Michael Jackson videos "Hold My Hand" and "Hollywood Tonight." She also practices kung fu and yoga.
Sárka-Jonae is an avid traveler. She has visited Costa Rica, Canada, England, Mexico, and Paradise Island. She has also been to France and Thailand researching her next books.
She lives in San Diego with a menagerie, including two cats, two dogs and a horse.

Author website 

Friday, October 12, 2012

What the Experts Say: Contemporary Fiction Author Rose Dunphy

Rose Dunphy, Author

Please welcome Contemporary Fiction Author Rose Dunphy. She has just released ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES, a love story and a coming-of-age novel based on her personal experience. Of special interest – to me, at least— she loves two of my favorite things – Italian food and Broadway plays.

Joyce: What inspired you to write ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES?

Rose Dunphy: ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES is based on a real event that happened to me. When I was ten and living in Italy, my mother put me on a plane to travel alone to New York to be adopted by an aunt and uncle I had never met. The event traumatized me and haunted me the rest of my life. The only way to heal from it was to write about it.

Writing the book was very therapeutic for me. I always liked to write. I’d already had some publication success with a number of personal essays and timely articles published in Newsday, The New York Times and The Christian Science Monitor, so I began the story that I knew was inside, the one that kept tugging at my heart.

You might ask: Why didn’t I write the book as a memoir if it’s about my life?

Memoirs are the rage nowadays. Well, there are several reasons: 
First, I really wanted to write a novel because the theme of the book – how does a mother give up her own child? – interested me more than writing about myself.  As a novel, the book would have fictional names and fictional characters without affecting the story. 

Second, I wanted to be as objective as I could and a memoir doesn’t allow that.
Third, even as a work of fiction, the story demanded I write it in third person.  Writing in first person was too close to me. I tried and couldn’t do it. So a memoir was out of the question. 

And last, I didn’t want to be sued. Writing the book as a novel protected me from anyone accusing me of libel or defamation of character. Author Natalie Goldberg says if you’re afraid someone might identify with any of your characters, give that character a small penis or a flat chest or flabby thighs.  Then they won’t be so willing to identify with the character.  I could have done that but none of the characters called for it.

Joyce: Why did you choose the title, ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES?  I really like it. Having lived in Italy for a year, it just reminds me of there. 

Rose Dunphy: Deciding on a title was problematic for me.  At first, I had Coming to America.  Then it was A Time to Say Goodbye, then Orange Peels and Cobblestones and last, Marietta’s Legacy.  My sister describes not sleeping because titles floated through her mind all night.  In the end, I went back to Orange Peels and Cobblestones.  The first two titles were much used and Marietta’s Legacy seemed cerebral and nondescript. 

ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES is much warmer and more emotional. You can see the orange color of the peels and the gray of the cobblestones. You can feel the smoothness and softness of the peels and the hardness and unevenness of the stones.  You can hear the sound the orange peel makes if you drop or throw it and you can hear the sound of cobblestones against your shoes when you walk on it. Anyone reading the book will recognize the many references to orange peels and cobblestones throughout the story and I hope will conclude, as I did, that this title fits best.

Joyce: Do you base your characters on real people? 

Rose Dunphy: Yes, to some extent.  I take some characteristics from one person and blend them with those of another to create a new being.

Joyce:  You have written and published non-fiction articles and a book. Did you find it easy to make the transition from non-fiction to fiction? What was different?

Rose Dunphy: No problem at all. The same elements of good writing apply. Start with a slant to get the reader hooked. Then develop it by using the senses to describe scenes, thus, showing rather than telling.

Joyce:  Who are your targeted readers?

Rose Dunphy: Women probably would make up the bulk of my audience but I’ve had men read excerpts of my novel and really love it.  People who love to read of all ages would enjoy my writing.  

Joyce: How did you research the back story for the different locations in ORANGE PEELS AND COBBLESTONES, e.g., post-war Italy, Brooklyn during the 1950s, NY and southern California during the 1960s?

Rose Dunphy: Since it is based on personal experience, I just pictured the scenes from my past and described what I saw. I had to check on certain facts of the time period I was writing about, and I used the internet for that.

Joyce: What’s the most important “message” in your novel?

Rose Dunphy: How does a mother give up her child? 

Joyce: Tell us something about yourself

Rose Dunphy: I love to read.  My favorite food, naturally, is Italian.  I love plays, too.  Since we live on Long Island, my husband and I visit NYC often to see Broadway shows.  I also love to cook, sew and garden.  The cooking reminds me of my mother and grandmother.  The sewing reminds me of my mother-in-law whom I was lucky enough to love like a mother because she treated me with great love.  These activities soothe my soul and I’m left feeing recreated.

Joyce: Oh, we have a lot in common. I love Italian food and Broadway shows – a lot.  Thank you for taking the time to share information about you and your book.


From her early childhood days in Italy to her life as a young wife and mother in Brooklyn, Marietta is haunted by hard questions from her past. In her struggle to be free, she realizes what she must do: discover the truth about her tangled family life even at the risk of losing the little she has left. This is a deeply moving novel about the enduring power of love amidst abandonment, rejection, betrayal and the consequences of others’ decisions.

About Rose Dunphy

Rose Marie Dunphy lived in Italy and now resides in New York. With a Master’s Degree from Stony Brook University, she taught Science for 10 years, co-authored
That First Bite – Chance or Choice, a book of non-fiction, and has written numerous essays and short stories that have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday and other publications. This is her first novel.


To purchase a book, contact the author at orangepeelsandcobblestones@gmail.com.