Sunday, December 29, 2013

Taste of Darkness Blog Tour!

After waiting over a year, TASTE OF DARKNESS is finally being released!  Yay!  To celebrate, I'm doing a blog tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours.  The tour starts Monday, December 30 and goes to January 10, 2014 (minus the weekends :).  MIRA books has generously offered to give away 12 copies of TOD for this tour and it will include two international winners.

Here are all the stops and what you can expect at these Blogs:

Monday, December 30: Read Now Sleep Later (Interview):
Tuesday, December 31: Tynga's Reviews (Guest Post):
Wednesday, January 1: Fiktshun (Guest Post):
Thursday, January 2: Bibliophilia Please (Interview):
Friday, January 3: Snowdrop Dreams (Review):
Monday, January 6: Parajunkee (Guest Post):
Tuesday, January 7: Moonlight Gleam (Review):
Wednesday, January 8: The Cover Contessa (Interview):
Thursday, January 9: Two Chicks on Books (Guest Post):
Friday, January 10: Mundie Moms (Interview):

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

FREE downloads for my UK and Australian readers!!

It must be all this holiday spirit! Both my UK publisher and Australian publisher asked me to allow one of my books to be offered for FREE through Apple's iBookstore for a week. I said yes (of course!).

Here' the info - the UK Apple iBookstore is offering INSIDE OUT for free download until 3 December 2013.  Here's the link:

Australia's Apple iBookstores is offering TOUCH OF POWER for free download until 6 December 2013.  Here's the link:

Please spread the word and Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Taste of Darkness Winners + Results

Now that I have an ENTIRE box of TASTE OF DARKNESS, I'm planning on doings a number of giveaways. The first one was voting for your favorite cover art - the USA/Canada or Australia/NZ or UK one.

The votes are in - Australia/NZ's cover earned 46 votes and won!  Second is the UK version with a close 42 votes, and the USA/Canada cover received 27 votes.

Thanks to all who voted!  And the winners of the signed early copies are: Ashlee Rea and from my blog and Linda from Goodreads. 

Congrats to all!  And keep an eye on my blog and Facebook page:  for more chances to win!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Taste of Darkness International Covers!!

Yes! Fist Pump! I have received the cover art for both the Australian/New Zealand edition and the United Kingdom edition. And I have information about release dates.  If you're a subscriber to my free email newsletter, you would already have seen these beauties ;> but I also wanted to post on my blog.

So??  What do you think??  I think they're all GORGEOUS! 

Which one is your favorite?  Post your vote on my blog by November 6th for a chance to win an early copy of TASTE OF DARKNESS - please leave an email address so I can contact you (Goodreads friends - no need for your addy).  This giveaway is open to ALL and I'll pick 3 winners! Just so you know, it might be a few weeks before I get my copies of the book - but you'll have it by the end of November for sure!

Australian / New Zealand edition
Release date: December 16, 2013

United Kingdom edition
Release date: January 3, 2014
USA / Canada edition
Release date: December 31, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Darkbeast Rebellion Author Interview + Give Away

So you all know by now that Mindy Klasky/Morgan Keyes is a friend of mine. And she's a wonderful writer - her stories are smart, snarky, fun, and entertaining.  Once again I've invited her to my blog to talk about her latest book, DARKBEAST REBELLION, the second book in her Darkbeast series.  I interviewed her last year about DARKBEAST you can read it here:

For this interview, Mindy/Morgan has generously offered to send TWO commenters a paperback copy of DARKBEAST and a hardback copy of DARKBEAST REBELLION - two books for one comment! To enter, leave a comment by October 20th, 2013 and please include an email address so I can contact you. (Goodreads friends don't need to leave an email addy).  The give away is open to USA residents only.

Cover copy:
Keara, her friend Goran, and the wily old actor, Taggart, are fleeing for their lives. They have all spared their darkbeasts, the creatures that take on their darker deeds and emotions and lift their spirits. But their actions defy the law, which dictates that all citizens must kill their darkbeasts on their twelfth birthdays.

There are rumors of safe havens, groups of people called Darkers who spared their darkbeasts and live outside the law. To find the Darkers, the trio must embark on a dangerous journey—and evade the Inquisitors who are searching for them everywhere. In the middle of winter, freezing and exhausted, Keara and her companions are taken to an underground encampment that seems the answer to all their hopes. But are these Darkers really what they appear to be?

Q&A with Mindy/Morgan Keyes:

1. DARKBEAST REBELLION is the second book in the Darkbeast series.  What's in store for Keara and her companions?

In DARKBEAST REBELLION, Keara begins to realize that the world is a much larger and more complicated place than she ever knew before.  Her initial decision to save her best friend (her darkbeast Caw) leads her on a search for allies against the secular government and the religious hierarchy of her land.  Along the way, she meets new friends – and a few people who might turn out to be enemies.

2. Do you find writing a second book in a series to be harder than the first or easier?

Um, both?  A second book is harder than a first because there are restrictions on the story I can tell – I can't go back and say, "Oh, yeah, everyone has the ability to read minds, I just forgot to tell you that in the first book."

But a second book is easier, because of those very restrictions.  I no longer need to figure out who the Twelve Gods of Duodecia are.  And I don't have to work out the details of the map and the calendar and all those other fiddly bits of worldbuilding.  (That assumes, of course, that I keep good notes J )

3. You used a pseudonym for these books. Has it been difficult keeping your two identities separate?

I'm becoming more and more accustomed to being "Morgan Keyes".  I recently signed several cases of books at Books of Wonder (the amazing children's bookstore in New York City), and I didn't start to write the wrong name once!

I just hosted the book launch for DARKBEAST REBELLION, at the great local-to-me children's bookstore Hooray for Books.  I invited two other authors to join me for the launch – Catherine Jinks and Jonathan Auxier.  At the end of the event, which was attended by many of my friends, in addition to general bookstore patrons, Jonathan came up to me and asked, "What are those people calling you?"  That's when I realized I answered equally well to Morgan and to Mindy!

(Morgan actually keeps a much lower profile than Mindy, because the majority of Morgan's readers are too young to be on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.)

4. Over the course of your career, you've written dark fantasy, chick lit, humor, romance, and middle-grade novels. Do you have a favorite?  And what genre are you going to tackle next?

My favorite is actually "whatever I'm writing at the time."  I adore the detailed worldbuilding of books like the Darkbeast Series, where I get to sort through the causes and effects of entire social structures.  I enjoy the lyrical prose and the search for specific words, almost as if I were writing poetry.

At other times, I truly enjoy trying to be bright and contemporary and sassy and funny, with my light paranormals like the Jane Madison Academy Series.  I love putting my characters into absurd situations and watching them squirm as they try to figure their way out.

Right now, I'm working on a series of very spicy short novels, all romances built around the imaginary Raleigh Rockets baseball team.  I'm having a great time writing from both the hero and the heroine's point of view, especially when I can show them misunderstanding each other because of essential gender differences.

5. What has been the best thing about writing for younger readers?  Have you done any school visits?

My favorite part of writing for younger readers is meeting those readers.  Sometimes, that happens by mail (traditional handwritten letters or email), and sometimes that happens in person.  When I was in school, I loved talking to authors who visited, and I can still remember some of those conversations, word for word.  I hope that I can bring similar memories to budding writers today.

I've gone on many school visits, but I'm always up for more!  My visits have varied from spending an entire day, meeting with all six classes of seventh-grade English (and repeating myself a lot during the day!) to a single assembly where all the kids in two grades are brought into an all-purpose room to hear me speak.  One of my favorite visits was to a third-grade class, where the kids were having a Reader Leader party, celebrating their collectively reading 100,000 minutes since the beginning of the school year.

6. You've also done a mix of traditional publishing and self-publishing.  Do you find that you're reaching a wider audience this way?

While traditional publishing and self publishing form two bright lines for writers, most readers don't really care how their books get to market.  I try to use each system to maximize the audience for particular types of books.

For example, most kids still read books on paper, and many of them get those books from their school libraries.  Therefore, it makes sense for the Darkbeast Series to be published traditionally, where print books make their way to a vast variety of bookstores and libraries.

By contrast, many adults read electronic books, especially romance readers.  Therefore, it makes sense for my Jane Madison Academy series to be published electronically through self-publishing.

One of the great advantages for self-publishing is that I can experiment with reaching out to different audiences.  For example, I've joined up with five other authors who have books similar to my GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, and we've put all six of our books on sale as SIX TIMES A CHARM – six novels for less than a dollar []. We've sold thousands of copies in the past few weeks, many of which were bought by people who'd never heard of me (but had heard of my co-authors.)  I hope to meet a whole new group of readers through this limited time offer.

7. Despite the method of publication, the lion's share of promotion has always been on the author. What have you found to be the best way to spread the word about your books?

I've always loved meeting readers in person –- at bookstore readings and conventions and literary book festivals.  But the sad fact is that those events are expensive to travel to, and relatively few people can attend any one event.

Therefore, I've really pushed to build online communities.  I post several times most days to my Facebook page – blog posts where I ruminate about a wide range of topics, quick status reports where I make comments about the world around me, and desperate questions where I ask my Facebook friends to help me with writing problems, like naming characters, figuring out the comfort food a character eats, or the design of a character's engagement ring.

8. Let's dish about traveling! You, like me, love to travel and have recently gone to Italy.  Do your travel adventures play a role in your fiction?

I do love too travel, and I keep electronic diaries while I'm on the road, complete with a lot of photographs.  I rarely take a trip wholesale and drop it into a novel (it'll be a long time before anyone reads "Jane Madison Goes to Rome"), but I always pluck details from my trips and use them in modified ways.

For example, when I was in Italy, I took a day to go to Ostia, the ruins of the ancient Roman port.  Those ruins include a series of shops, where each of the rooms has a tiled floor, illustrating what was sold in that shop (amphorae filled with olive oil, fish, bread, etc.)  Those ruined shops became a key setting for important events in DARKBEAST REBELLION!

9. You've been researching baseball for a series of novellas.  How much time did you spend doing the research?  Are you a baseball fan?  If so, who's your favorite team? 

"Doing research" sounds so glamorous, doesn't it?  In this case, my research consisted of pulling on my Washington Nationals T-shirt and heading down to Nationals Park – 20 times in the past season.

I never watched baseball while I was growing up, and I definitely never played the game (or softball.)  But I married a lifelong Red Sox fan, and I quickly started to learn about the sport because it was on nearly every night, from March until October.  In between knitting and quilting projects, I discovered that I actually enjoyed watching the game – a truth revealed to me when I was on a business trip and actually went out of my way to buy a local newspaper and look up box scores from the night before!

The Nationals are my favorite National League team, and the Red Sox are my favorite American League team.  When they ultimately meet in the World Series, I'll be a happy fan, because one of my favorite teams will win!

10. Will there be a third book in the Darkbeast series?  How many books are planned?

I have several more stories that I want to tell about Keara, Caw, and their friends.  At the moment, though, I don't have a contract for those books.  (The more copies of DARKBEAST REBELLION that sell, though, the more likely I am to line up that contract in the next couple of months!)

Thank you so much, Maria, for allowing me to visit! [You're welcome anytime!]
Links to Mindy/Morgan:
Morgan Keyes website:
Mindy Klasky website:

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Selling Ur Soul - Interview and Giveaway!

Would you sell your soul to the devil for a mega-hit bestselling book?  Randall the main character in Barry Lyga's latest book, UNSOUL'D does and what follows is a hilarious and sad look of the life of a somewhat successful author's journey to super stardom minus his soul.

Now for the disclaimer :)  Barry and I are friends who go way back to a time before we were both published authors.  We met at a writing workshop at World Con in Philadelphia in the 90s.  Keeping in touch via email and kvetching over our efforts to get published, we sold our first novels around the same time. His debut novel, The Astonishing Adventures of Fan Boy and Goth Girl is a fantastic story and a great insight into a 15 year-old boy's life.

UNSOUL'D is Barry's first book with an adult protagonist.  A warning to my younger readers that this book has lots of sex and adult language and situations.   It's also his first self-published book and only available as an ebook.

Barry has generously offered to give away 9 copies of his ebook!!  So leave a comment by Saturday, October 5, 2013 and you'll be entered to win a copy!  Please leave an email addy so I can contact you (Goodreads friends - no need to leave an addy - I can contact you through the site).  Open to ALL!

UNSOUL'D: Randall Banner is thirty-five years old, a middling mid-list author who yearns for more of everything: More attention. More fame. More money. More fans.

Then, one quiet morning, he meets the devil while pounding away at his laptop at his usual coffee shop. Soon, a deal is made, a contract is signed, and Randall is on his way to fame and fortune unlike any he ever imagined.

What follows is a bawdy, hilarious, yet harrowing tale of one man, one devil, and a deal that could change the world

Q&A with Barry Lyga:

Maria: You've been writing books for young adults for years why the switch to adult?

Barry: I never really thought of it as a "switch," to be honest with you. My YA was never "aimed" at any particular audience, and I've always had a fairly large, vocal adult readership. I don't think in terms of genres or market segments -- I think in terms of stories. So when this story occurred to me, it was just a moment of, "Oh, sure, probably not for kids" and then I went ahead and wrote it. The story wanted to be told, so I told it.

Maria: You also self-published this book. What prompted you to go solo?

Barry: There were a variety of factors that all came together. First of all, it's a tough book for publishers to wrap their minds around -- is it comedy? Satire? Literary? What the hell IS it? Sarah Maclean described it as "Nick Hornby writing Californication" and that's cool, but publishers don't grok that. So, I had an uphill battle ahead in terms of convincing someone to take a chance on it.

Then there was the fact that I come from the comic book world originally, where self-publishing has long been a thriving, important part of the market. I've always been fascinated by the details and minutiae of publishing, so I knew someday I would self-publish something. This was just the perfect opportunity to do so.

Maria: What sparked the idea for the story?

Barry: Years and years ago, I decided I wanted to write a "deal with the devil" story that had a really wicked twist at the end, something that turned such stories on their heads. But I didn't know what form it would take. And then one day a year or so ago, that beginning popped into my head: "That day, I had a bagel for breakfast and sold my soul to the devil. In retrospect, the bagel was probably a mistake." And Randall's whole voice and sad, sad life popped into my head.

Maria: The main character is a published author who sells his soul for a hit book. How much of Randall is Barry?

Barry: Ha! I like to tell people that Randall does and says everything I wish I'd done and said at some point in my life…but now am SO glad I never did! [LOL!]

Maria: I found Randall's character at times hard to like, yet I had to see how his story ended. You didn't sugar coat him at all and I loved the raw honesty. Were you concerned about your readers being unable to connect with him?

Barry: I always think about that because I tend to gravitate towards difficult characters -- people who are damaged or broken in some essential way that sets them off from the rest of us. The outcasts and the outsiders. Those are tough people to love, but I'm fascinated by them. And I truly believe that we can learn just as much about the world and life and ourselves from these people as we can from the more typical "guy I want as a boyfriend" or "girl I wish I could be" sorts of characters populating our fictions.

But you nailed it -- you loved his honesty and you had to see how his story ended. It didn't matter whether or not you LIKED him -- you were INTERESTED in him. That's what I was hoping for. I mean, hell, I don't even like Randall all that much, so how could I expect you to! But I do find him intriguing, and I'm hoping that readers will find themselves hate-reading his story, thinking, "This guy is such a jerk!" while simultaneously thinking, "I can't get enough!"

Maria: Randall thinks about sex a lot. Is this typical for a 35 year old male?

Barry: I can't speak for all 35 year old males, but I think in Randall's case, his obsession with sex is really a cover for his feeling that he's been left out somehow. He doesn't just crave more sex -- he craves more of EVERYTHING. His primal sin is gluttony, really. People who've read the book focus on the sex, but Randall is equally as obsessed with his Amazon ranking, his smoothie choices, his apartment, his Twitter followers, his number of signings, his number of books published, his workout sessions… Randall wants MORE, and sex turns out to be something he can get a lot of, so he really zeroes in on it. But it's not just sex. Not really. People just zoom in on that because, well, it's sex!

Maria: What's next? What are you working on now?

Barry: I am wrapping up my I HUNT KILLERS trilogy as well as starting on a very cool middle-grade project -- the polar opposite of UNSOUL'D! I'm also working on a top-secret YA that will hopefully be announced soon. [Tease!]

Find Barry:

Link to the book:

Friday, August 30, 2013

Golden Leaf Finalist!

Yay!  I found out on Sunday, that my book, SCENT OF MAGIC is a finalist in the Golden Leaf award given by the New Jersey Romance Writers.  If the name sounds familiar, that is because I've won this award before for STORM GLASS and TOUCH OF POWER.

When I told my husband about this honor, he made a crack about not seeing the nomination on the news that night.  I didn't think it was funny.  I thought that was being rather jaded - "oh, just another nomination, no big deal"  type thing.  Well, I don't take anything for granted and to, me, being nominated or winning an award is still as exciting as it was when I first started publishing.

After 21 years of marriage, he picked up on my...disappointment in his reaction. (Yes, it took over 20 years to train him ;)  He brought me flowers and made me a card.  Except he couldn't remember the exact name of the award, just that it had something to do with nature.

Here's a picture of the flowers and card:

I like the sound of the Pink Daffodil award - I want to use it as a prize for something but I'm not sure what.  Any ideas?

And here's what the Golden Leaf looks like:

Monday, August 26, 2013

Dabbling in Pictures

At times, I think of myself as a photographer.  My travel pictures have appeared in magazines along with my articles, but I'm still at the point and shoot stage.  I'd love to learn more and buy a nice DSLR camera, but that would require more time and passion that I'm willing to give at this point.  I've learned that I'm a dabbler in everything but writing.  Plus what I managed to do with my Nikon Coolpix has been fine for me.

Every year our small town hosts a fair and every year I've entered photos into the contests.  Some years I do great and win a few ribbons, other years nothing.  This year, I entered in these six photos.  One of them won first place and one of them earned third place.  If you're the first to pick/guess the right ones, I'll send you a set of the new editions of the GLASS books!  Please leave info so I can contact you.  Yes, it's open international and I'll leave it open until next Monday, September 2nd.

Central Park, New York City, Fall 2012
Entered in the Landscape category

Gorilla behind Glass at the NC zoo
Entered in the Animals category

Lily's Shadow - Walt Disney World
Entered in the Flowers/Plants category

Seashell on Duck, NC beach
Entered in the Still Life category

Grainy Face
Entered in the Any Other category

Wall of Mirrors, Walt Disney World
Entered in the Structures category

What do you think?  Which one won First Place and which won Third?  Leave a comment and enter the contest!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Playing in the Mud!

Yep, I'm a dirty girl ;)  On Saturday, I participated in the Dirty Girl 5K Mud Run - a 3.1 mile course with 12 obstacles and yes, I completed every obstacle no matter how gross. 

Why?  Good question.  My friend Kathy invited me, my daughter, and her friend to go. They immediately said yes (see - I didn't raise a girly girly!) and I said, "hell no."  Well...three against one - I was out numbered.  Actually, I changed my mind once I learned that it really isn't a race to the finish and I could walk the course if I so desired.  Plus this was more a fun run and a portion of the proceeds go to cancer research.  Win - Win (except for my sneakers).  The worst part - the time!  Our wave left at 9:00 am (the am stands for I AM usually asleep until noon).

Here's a before picture of our team the Madames of Mayhem.  Can you recognize me?

Our team, like most teams that participated, dressed alike - black tank top, black shorts (spandex because according to my friend, cotton would have adsorbed the water and been around our ankles by the end), bandana, grease paint (mayhem - remember?), and water guns.  Some teams went all out with pink tutus and rhinestone goggles - one team dressed as the characters from the Wizard of Oz. 

Here's a before picture of me with Jenna and Sam:

And here's a picture of a poster someone did for us! It was very lovely and we were thrilled - however no one knew who the dude who craves the Hawaiian pizza is!  Was it one of you?? I did mention our team name in a Facebook post.  If it was, THANK YOU - we felt very special!

With 300 people in a wave, it's hard to run at first - so we jogged and chatted.  I learned the best way to run in the mud is by digging your toes in and not pushing with your whole foot.  The first obstacle was an inflatable tire course - I tripped midway - too much forward momentum and legs that just wouldn't keep up! Good thing I just bounced right back up.

Most of the obstacles were easy/fun - ropes course, climb over a wall, climb up then bounce down this big inflatable pyramid (my favorite obstacle), climb up then slide down into a big mud puddle.  My least favorite obstacle was the tunnels - filled with water and mud, you had to belly crawl through them. Swimming through mud - not too bad, but being inside a small space not fun - I felt like Trella trapped in a water pipe (if you don't get this reference - go read INSIDE OUT).  There were two of these obstacles, but the second one was better because it had netting over the top. And despite being apprehensive I did them because I wanted to experience it, to get myself out of my comfort zone, and it's all fodder for my books!

Here are after pictures:

I learned a couple of things during the run.  I don't mind being covered head to toe with mud.  Crawling through the muck cuts up your knees and elbows. Sneakers filled with water, mud, and gravel are not comfortable and they weigh a ton. My friend, Kathy is crazy - she made mud angels and splashed in every puddle.  And it reaffirmed that when I do something that my first instinct is to say, "hell no" to - I end up having a blast!  Thanks to Kathy and Jenna for dragging me along.

If you've made it this far, then here's a little sneak peak into my new Study book - the first paragraph: "Ugh mud, Kiki said as she splashed through another puddle. The wet muck clung to her copper coat and dripped from her long tail. It packed into her hooves with each step."

And here's the link in case you want to be a Dirty Girl (sorry no men allowed to run - but you can come and cheer your ladies on!):

Monday, August 5, 2013

Winners announced + 6000 Likes giveaway!

Thanks for all the comments/entries about all my new covers!  I picked the four winners using a random number generator and the following people won:

Jessica from Connecticut
Stephanie from Canada
Brianna from South Carolina
Helene from France

Congrats to all!!

And for those who missed out this time, check my Facebook page. I'm doing another giveaway of 6 prize packs - the prize packs include one copy of the new cover of STORM GLASS, one copy of the new SEA GLASS, and one copy of STORM WATCHER.  Yup 3 books for 6 people.

Just FYI - I'm keeping an eye on the number of subscribers I have to my blog and it's getting close to 1000 - which would be another reason to celebrate :)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

New Looks for My Glass Series + Give Aways

Yes, that's right, my Glass series is getting a new look in both the United States/Canada and the United Kingdom. 

The new US/Canada editions are not quite brand new.  As you can see, the covers are the ones used on the Australian editions a few years ago (which I love since Opal looks just like I imagined her!).  But the size is new.  The Glass books will be printed as mass market sized paperbacks and cost $7.99.  STORM GLASS is coming out next Tuesday, July 30th, SEA GLASS will be out September 24, and SPY GLASS will be released on October 29.  I'm excited about it and hope the new covers and price will attract new readers :)


I did an interview about these new releases with The Reading Frenzy.  Here's a link:
And below are the very brand new covers for the Glass books in the United Kingdom. These were designed to match the new editions of the Study books the UK released back in June (these also used the Australian covers).  To see the new UK Study books go here:  The new UK Glass books will all be released in September and are truly unique! 

To celebrate all these new editions of the Glass series, I'm giving away 4 copies of the new US/Canada edition of STORM GLASS to 4 random commenters on my blog or Facebook posts (open to ALL).  If commenting on my blog, please include your email address so I can contact you.  Post by July 31th to be entered to win!

What do you think about the new editions?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


This is the cover for the US and Canada.  Release date in the US and Canada is December 31, 2013 (I don't have details for the UK or Australian release dates yet).


WELL?  What do you think?  I LOVE it - but that's me :)

Oh and you can already pre-order on Amazon ;>  Here's a link:

Monday, June 24, 2013

Greenshift Cover Reveal

Me and Heidi
NO - this isn't a new book from ME - but a book written by a good friend and fellow Seton Hill graduate, Heidi Ruby Miller.  She is a lovely lady (and today's her birthday - Happy Birthday Heidi!!).  I read parts of her first novel, Ambasadora while in school and enjoyed the story very much.  Greenshift is a stand alone novel so you don't have to read Ambasadora.

Here's the info from Heidi:

To celebrate the cover reveal for Greenshift, the e-book will be temporarily 99 cents at Amazon! Here's the link:

Greenshift is a tale set within the world of Ambasadora.
Mari's rare eye color makes her a pariah within Upper Caste society, which is why she prefers plants to people...except David, the former Armadan captain who shuttles scientists around on a refurbished pleasure cruiser.

But someone else is interested in Mari and her distinctive look--an obsessed psychopath who tortures and murders women for pleasure.

When the killer chooses Mari as his next victim, the soldier inside David comes alive, but it is Mari who must fight for her own life and prove she isn't as fragile as the flowers she nurtures.
Cover Art by Bradley Sharp:
Foreword by Dana Marton:

Space Opera/Science Fiction Romance paperback coming from Dog Star Books: in August 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quick Update

Another month has zoomed by and while I haven't been blogging, I haven't been idle either :)

May is always crazy with my children's end of school concerts, tournaments, banquets. And in June, my son, Luke graduated from High School!  I'm not sure how it happened, I swear I just dropped him off at pre-school in September.  Besides, I'm not old enough to have an 18 year old - must of been a time warp ;)

Luke is going to attend Pennsylvania State University for computer science - my alma mater for my Bachelor's degree and my husband's, too. After the big graduation day and party, we went to the beach for a week to relax.

Some writing news - my Study books are going to be re-released in the UK with new covers.  Well, not new, new as these covers also graced the Australian editions, but new to UK readers. They have the number of the book on the spine and they're called The Chronicles of Ixia.

For those who haven't heard, TASTE OF DEATH is now titled, TASTE OF DARKNESS.  And I owe my editor revisions very soon!

My US publisher is re-releasing STORM GLASS on July 30th with a new cover! Yes, the cover is also from Australia and my favorite of all the different Glass series covers.  And the best news...the book is a mass market paperback, which is the smaller sized book and it only costs $7.99.  So it could be found in various grocery stores as well as online and in bookstores!

I'm heading up to Seton Hill University this week for our semi-annual residency and the In Your Write Mind Workshop.  Here are the details:

June 27-30, 2013   In Your Write Mind Workshop. (Seton Hill University, One Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 15601). I'll be teaching a writing workshop during this weekend-long conference for writers. If you're an aspiring author this is the conference for you. Trust me! At this workshop, you'll find a variety of workshop topics, knowledgeable presenters, plenty of chances to network with agents and editors, and you'll meet fellow writers who "get" you. Register online. 

There is also a MEGA book signing with 20+ authors selling and signing their books that is FREE and OPEN to the public (no need to register) on Friday night, June 28th from 7:00 to 10:00 pm - it'll be in the McKenna Center - you can find it on this map (Building #10):

Did I say this would be quick?  I did.  Oh well :)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Chatting with my Editor Part 4

This is the last post in this series of chats with my editor.  If you want to read Parts 1 to 3, scroll down through my blog :)

At the end of Part 3, I asked Mary-Theresa this question: After the cover and copy are finalized, how much do you get involved with the marketing and publicity of my books?

MTH: That’s the part that I have the least input with and it can be nerve-wracking! Luckily we have a talented marketing and PR group who take the titles to the sales force, discuss where to advertise, what signings to support, how and where to position the title and arrange for blogging tours and interviews. I’m there for backup to talk up the story as needed, review some of the print materials, and talk to whoever needs me! But once I’ve turned in the last bit, I need to let go and hopefully just communicate the information between author and marketing/PR and do all I can to support both sides of the equation.

I need to remember that my focus is now on getting the author to work on the next title and make sure it’s equally fabulous! I will do what I can to support the author and be available for questions, but it’s out of my hands. Probably because each editor would be jumping up and down demanding all attention on her author and title! We all trust the other departments to do their best for each title, and I think we’ve got a great group working for MIRA (and TEEN and LUNA and all the other imprints!)

Bookmark for promotion
Maria—how do you balance the PR with an individual title and the needs of the next book and your personal life as well?

MVS: That's a good question! It's very hard to balance PR with writing and my family. With keeping up with my social media sites, my website, my email newsletter, my contests, blog, setting my event schedule, printing bookmarks, and responding to emails, I could easily spend over forty hours a week just on promoting my books. When my book is first released, it can be overwhelming and I've a hard time getting my writing done for the next book - especially when my book comes out in the US, UK and Australia all at the same time!

In order to balance my time, I've made a few decisions.  I don't tweet and I only use Facebook and Goodreads for promotion, and they're linked to my blog. I limit my time answering emails and I've hired my sister-in-law to keep track of the readers who enter my contests. I only blog a couple times a week (unless I'm close to a deadline, then there won't be any posts that month), and I send my newsletter out quarterly (instead of bi-monthly).  My poor website is update quarterly as well.

Since my new contract is for 4 books to be written in 3 years, I've cut back on my events (book signings, conferences, etc...) and I've cut back on writing short stories (for now!), and I'm not mentoring as many Seton Hill students.  Mostly so I have time for my family.

Right now my day looks something like this: Wake up around noon, eat breakfast and then work on promotion/emails/articles/Seton Hill. My kids come home around 3 pm and I cook dinner and do the mom/taxi thing until they go to bed around 10 pm. Then I write until 3 am and go to sleep. This schedule really works for me and I'm able to get my new book written while still having time to promote my other stories.

Thanks for chatting with me Mary-Theresa!  Working with you all these years has been a true pleasure and I hope we continue to be partners for years to come.  You're not allowed to retire until I do ;>

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Chatting with my Editor Part 3

For those just tuning in - I've been posting a chat with my editor of nine years!  To read part 1, click here:  and to read part 2, click here:

MTH: And while the manuscript bits are happening, we're also trying to find the perfect cover and copy to represent the book. How do you find that process?

MVS: I always feel out of the loop when it comes to the covers for my books.  I know I fill out an art fact sheet about my books, including character descriptions, synopsis, visual elements, etc...  But after that, I've no idea how the artists, photographers and designers take those comments and transform them into a beautiful cover.  I did enjoy the few times I was able to "help."   It was fun picking the direction of the cover model's gaze for INSIDE OUT.  And I tell everyone the glass starfish on the cover of SEA GLASS is yours.  I would love to be more involved, but realize I'm already busy enough and designing covers is NOT my expertise.  Plus I love them all so I've no complaints.

FYI: Since I was a part of INSIDE OUT's cover, here's the process of going from a concept to the final cover (with email comments):

Email from MTH: Just wanted to give you a heads up on the concept we’ll be working with for INSIDE OUT.
The type is wrong, of course, and the heroine is too old with too much makeup. However, the overall concept of her tearing through something, is one that we all found appealing. It’s simple, bright and quite effective we think.
And here's the two pictures of the model for me to choose from - in one of the draft covers right after the concept, the model was looking over the reader's shoulder. Trella wouldn't hesitate to met anyone gaze so and they agreed to change it :)
Email from MTH - I’m leaning toward 88 but some like 65.
Thoughts on which I should encourage? (It will be cropped to match the other image)
We do realize the model’s eyes are blue, and you’ve got brown, so we’re torn. The blue pops and we could use it in the type color to set it off. Can we change Trella’s eye color, or should we change this model’s to brown?

I liked #65 - and I agreed with the blue eyes "popping" so I incorporated her blue eyes into the story.  Then they added the right model and came up with this cover:

Which is still different than the final cover art:

Now back to the chat!

As for the cover copy, I'm so very glad you write them (or your editorial assistant).  I would find it impossible to boil down a hundred thousand word novel into two paragraphs. And it's a fun reversal of roles when I get the chance to edit your copy ;>

Mary-Theresa -- After the cover and copy are finalized, how much do you get involved with the marketing and publicity of my books?

Find out the answer in my next blog post!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Chatting with my Editor Part 2

I'm chatting with my editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey, who's been working with me for the last nine years.  If you haven't read it, check out Part 1 here:

MTH: Maria--how do you see the revision process going?

MVS: The revision process is easier for me.  My first draft is always the hardest to write.  It's when I discover all the story elements and plot.  I start with a character, a situation, and a vague ending, but what happens along the way is usually unplanned.  Once the first draft is finished, then comes the fun part.  I'll do a revision and send it to Mary-Theresa.  When you returns it to me with your comments, I open the file and read through them all.  Then I need a day to calm down!  It's funny how when I first read them, I'll be annoyed, impatient, exasperated, depressed, and excited (when I get that rare smiley face).  These emotions don't happen at the same time--it's like a rollercoaster ride, depending on the comment.

But after a day, I realize you're right about everything and what you're not "getting" I need to explain/show it better.  And there are times I will ask for more details about why you don't like something and you always have a good explanation (grumble - more work for me).  It's very rare when we don't agree. Opal's choice in SPY GLASS is one example. And Kerrick's actions in the beginning of TOUCH OF POWER is another (I actually toned him down a bit!). I think we work well together. Your comments always improves the story.  Always.

Mary-Theresa--since my story proposals tend to be vague and I never follow them, I'm curious about your reaction to my first drafts.  For example, what was your first impression when TOUCH OF POWER arrived?

MTH: I have learned that you tend to follow the story more than the synopsis, but as long as it makes for something stronger, I'm all for it!

Usually I'll first read the manuscript through fairly quickly, just to enjoy the story and to read it as a reader will. But I'll also note places where I got confused or lost or the characters didn't seem consistent. Then I'll go through more slowly, this time making more detailed notes as I go along, and perhaps revising the first ones as things are revealed later. It used to be scribbles in the margins, but now I can type comments on the document, which makes transferring things much easier--though I do occasionally miss curling up in a chair with a manuscript and pencil! I did find that when I switched to commenting on screen it lost some of the immediacy of the good marginalia at first, but that comes back as I stop and "hear" the lines sing, or the endings twist. I then like to let it sit in my mind for another day or so while some things get fleshed out and other concerns come to the forefront. As it settles, the themes and overall structural issues fall into place. Then I will get ready to send back the manuscript with an overview about the larger issues that stopped me.

I always keep in mind the author's intentions and goals, but she is so close to the story that she doesn't always put onto the pages exactly what is meant by this or that. I try to pose my concerns as questions or the occasional what if you did this scenario, but I trust the author to come up with the answers that suit her story best.

TOUCH OF POWER was one of the stories I just gobbled up! The freshness of Avry's world, and her dilemmas was compelling. I still don't think I'd be as willing to take on the pains and scars of others though--the Healers have more generosity of spirit and body than I do! The differences in the Realms went beyond Ixia and Sitia, and I saw that you were creating a new world that was vivid and grounded in different ways. And though I had a couple of issues with the hero, he balanced out Avry's selflessness nicely!

Throughout the manuscript there were shadings of familiar elements as Avry struggled to understand her powers and place in the world, but the situations were so different, and her voice was all her own, that it just felt really new and exciting. I've always looked forward to Maria's stories, and seeing where she's going with them, but TOUCH OF POWER brought me back to some of the early excitement of my first loves--Yelena and Valek--and the wonder of discovering their worlds.

Asking around the office, you'll find that I was saying it was like when we first read POISON STUDY and were captured by that emotion all over again!

And while the manuscript bits are happening, we're also trying to find the perfect cover and copy to represent the book.

Maria -- How do you find that process?

Find out my answer in Part 3!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Chatting with my Editor Part 1

I’ve been working with my editor, Mary-Theresa Hussey of Harlequin pretty much from the beginning of my writing career.  My very first editor, Helen French (out of the UK office) who made the call and bought POISON STUDY and MAGIC STUDY worked with me for about six months before leaving the company.  And, as a brand new author, still shiny, I was immediately worried because I’ve heard stories of orphaned authors, where the editor who loved her story leaves, and no one else in the company is interested at all.

Mary-Theresa quickly stepped in, and she’s been mine…or rather I’ve been hers ever since.  Nine years of answering all my questions, addressing my concerns, and editing my manuscripts.

I thought it would be fun to have a chat with my editor about our nine years together.

Me & Mary-Theresa

MVS:  Let’s start at the beginning.  Back in 2003, you were in charge of Harlequin's new fantasy imprint called LUNA Books and looking for fantasy novels with strong female protagonists and romantic sub-plots.  I sent you the first 3 chapters and a synopsis of POISON STUDY in June (I still have a copy of the letter) and 4 months later I get a call from Helen, asking me for the rest of the story, which she read over the weekend and bought on Monday.  Do you remember that initial submission?  What were you thinking when you sent the chapters to Helen?
LUNA Ladies (left to right): C.E. Murphy, Maria V. Snyder, Mary-Theresa Hussey, Michelle Sagara, Laura Anne Gilman
MTH: 2003 seems so long ago--and really just around the last corner! I do remember that when we were starting up LUNA we had a clear vision in our minds, but it was very hard to explain to authors and agents. So I read a lot of projects and struggled to get that balance right. I had received your proposal and really enjoyed it and marked it to ask for a complete. Then Helen French, who worked in our UK office, but was in our office for an RWA business trip, really wanted to work on LUNA, so I gave her a few projects, including POISON STUDY.

Helen's initial excitement was contagious, and we loved seeing that first glimpse of Yelena in the complete manuscript. And then when Helen left, I was happy to work with you again. So I've actually edited all of your projects for us, and it's been a treat over the years. I still remember that opening scene with Yelena in prison, awaiting execution, was dark and complex, and she was a fresh heroine! The voice and the characterization was vivid and then the twists kept coming as we met Valek, discovered the truth about Yelena's position, her past, her magic, and how the world of Ixia unfolded.

Original USA cover for POISON STUDY - Hardcover October 2005

So I've been lucky to see your career develop over the ten novels and some novellas with Harlequin
(and more to come!). Each book unfolded part of the world, and you had a great, strong grasp of your characters. Even when they make decisions I disagree with [MVS - Opal's choice being the biggest :)], you worked on motivating them so it makes sense. So we talk a little on the proposal, then at the revision stage after I've sent my notes, and then occasionally at the edits, but that's generally some minor stuff. I think we've worked ourselves into a good rhythm.

Maria--how do you see the revision process going?
Find out my answer in Part 2 of Chatting with my Editor!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

May Madness

And I was doing so well with posting!  Then a few things converged and all my extra time for blogging disappeared.  This post will be a quick update on what's been going on and then I'm going to post a multi-part chat with my editor!

BIG News - TASTE OF DEATH has a new title.  Book 3 of the Healer Series will now be titled, TASTE OF DARKNESS.  Various reasons were given - original title too morbid, too serial-killer-ish.  At first, I wasn't too excited about the change, but I trust my publisher and they were excited about the new title and it seems my Facebook friends are in agreement. So I'm happy. The cover isn't finalized yet, but I can tell you Deep Purple - very dark!  What do you think of the new title?

I've also been working on STORM WATCHER revisions.  The book will be out in October 2013, but I'll be signing ARCs for STORM WATCHER at Book Expo America (BEA) in New York City (Javits Convention Center) on Thursday, May 30th at Table 13 from 3 to 4 pm.  Here's a link to BEA:

Here's the rest of my schedule for May and June:

May 18, 2013 Participating in the Lancaster County Women's Expo. (Spooky Nook Sports Complex, 2913 Spooky Nook Road, Manheim, Pennsylvania, 17545). I'll be selling and signing books from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m. The Women's Expo is a fun-filled and information-packed event, featuring 100+ exhibitors, two fashion shows, demonstrations, shopping, free spa treatments, a Hula Hoop contest, and so much more! It's FREE if you register in advance online, and $5.00 at the door.

May 24-26, 2013 Participating in Balticon 47. (Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, Maryland, 21031, 410-785-7000). I'll be teaching a couple writing workshops and sitting in on panels during this weekend-long con. Balticon has over 300 Hours of Multi-Track Programming featuring authors, publishers, editors, artists, scientists, musicians and other creative Science Fiction and Fantasy luminaries. Join over a thousand SF fans for the area's largest and longest running convention of its kind! Visit our huge art show, dealer's room, concerts, dances, gaming room, computer room and video room. Everything Science Fiction and Fantasy in one huge package.

June 27-30, 2013 Participating in In Your Write Mind Workshop. (Seton Hill University, One Seton Hill Drive, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, 15601). I'll be teaching a writing workshop during this weekend-long conference for writers. If you're an aspiring author this is the conference for you. Trust me! At this workshop, you'll find a variety of workshop topics, knowledgeable presenters, plenty of chances to network with agents and editors, and you'll meet fellow writers who "get" you. Register online.

Volleyball has dominated my family for the last three months.  My son, Luke is on the high school varsity team (the Bears) as an opposite hitter.  With games twice a week and tournaments on weekends, we watched a lot of great games.  The best part for me was when my son spiked the ball or had a great block, the crowd would cheer Luuuuke in a deep voice - it almost sounded like they were boo-ing. That was very fun to hear!

The Bears finished in 4th place in section 2, and then played the first place section 1 team in playoffs - needless to say, they lost that game, but not without a fight.  The highlight of the season was when the Bears won their home tournament - the boys all received Champion T-shirts and a trophy for the school!  Congrats to the entire team for all their hard work and dedication!!

My daughter Jenna also plays and she joined a club team - the Chargers this winter/spring.  And by utter coincidence both my children finished their seasons on the same day!  YAY!

As for my co-ed volleyball team - the Tornados (I picked the name - can you tell ;) - we ended our season in 5th place and didn't make the playoffs.  It's a fun church league and good exercise. I'm one of the setters - since we play on a men's net, it's harder for me to spike.

So that's the update on what's been dominating my life this spring.  I am currently re-reading my Study books to get ready for writing the next Study adventure - making notes and listing all the names so I don't re-use them in the new book ;)  I'll read the Glass books next and then get to work.

So much for my quick update!