Books by Melissa Bowersock

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Author Interview - Carol Wyer

Today I’m sitting down having a virtual chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Carol Wyer, which is a little more difficult because she lives “across the pond,” but we’re managing. I’ve just finished her book, Just Add Spice, which I enjoyed immensely.

Just Add Spice is about Dawn, a mature woman who finds herself butting heads with her unwillingly retired and very grumpy husband. She escapes into her writing and, most specifically, into the antics of her main character, Cinnamon. You know I have to ask: how autobiographical is the book?
Sadly, I am no Cinnamon but I am like Dawn in as much as I have a very grumpy, retired husband and a head filled with characters who talk to me and who are worryingly real. Every time I write a book, I attempt to create the most lifelike characters possible, which often means I try to live and think like they would.
That was all fine and dandy in the early days when I was writing about Amanda Wilson in my first novels. She is a 50 year-old bored housewife who enjoys blogging and drinking wine, but with this book I found I was behaving more wickedly. I spent ages trying to fathom out how to murder my husband and I think I began to worry him. He became extremely anxious when I collared a doctor at a drinks party and asked her if it would be viable to kill someone by putting ground up glass in their food. He’s been much better behaved since Just Add Spice.

I’ll be he’s watching his Ps and Qs now!

Cinnamon is like a modern-day Wonder Woman, righting wrongs and delivering paybacks to cheating lounge lizards. Where did the inspiration for her come from?
I was sitting in McDonald’s plotting a murder/mystery novel with a humorous twist. I was staring at my grumpy husband who was glowering at an email on his iPad, and pondering if it would be viable to murder him by slipping some poison into his Happy Meal, when she popped up in my head. She was a cross between Lara Croft and Wonder Woman.
A couple were opposite in one of the more private booths, kissing passionately. I didn't pay too much attention but after a while, and a lot of kissing and fondling, the woman left. Within a few minutes, the man’s mobile rang. He was one of those people who spoke quite loudly so it wasn't difficult to overhear his conversation which went something like “Hi Hun! Yes, I’m still at the office. I’m just about to pack up. Don’t worry. I've got the bicycle in the back of the car. Is he enjoying his party? I’ll be back for the birthday cake. Love you, Hun. Give the little guy a hug and tell him I have a big surprise for him.” I can’t repeat what Cinnamon suggested she’d like to do to him but some of the ideas are in the book.

I’ll bet we've all run into that sort, and probably would cheer Cinnamon on for her “corrective action.”

Did Cinnamon surprise you as you were writing the book? Did Dawn?
Cinnamon was always a wild card so I wasn't surprised by what she got up to. Dawn surprised me more. I hadn't intended for her to become so confident but as the book developed she transformed and I had to change the ending twice until I felt it fitted.

I've had a similar experience when the ending I thought I wanted was not the ending that the story demanded. Everything, after all, must serve the story, but sometimes it’s hard to give up an idea.

Anything else can you want to tell us about the book?
Watch out for the infamous lollipop scene. I actually witnessed something very like this a few years ago at a party when a stripper was hired for a friend to celebrate his birthday. I still cringe at the thought.


What other books or blogs have you written?
Writing has become an all-consuming passion. I’ll skip over all the books I wrote for children, with titles like Humphrey and the Dustbin Cats, before I became deadly serious about writing. My first adult novel was called Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines. It is about a woman who is facing 50. She begins a blog as way of letting off steam and then has a hot and lusty relationship on Facebook with an ex-lover. It is full of humour and twists. It got a lot of media attention and won several awards. Thanks to its popularity I wrote the sequel, Surfing in Stilettos and am now writing the third, Follow You, Follow me.
I’ve written two non-fiction books that help us face older age with humour – How Not to Murder your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause. Both of these offer advice and lots of laughs.
My blog Facing 50 with Humour is now almost four years old. (I’m now facing 50 from the wrong side.) I’m about to launch a new website/blog called Grumpy Old Menopause which will be all the bits I couldn’t fit into my latest book. Finally, as you know, I write for Indies Unlimited, a site that offers a lot of exceptionally good advice to writers and for the Huffington Post Huff/50.

What are you working on currently?
I’m about to start edits on a short collection of stories, Love Hurts. They look at both the lighter and darker side of love. I’m halfway through Follow You, Follow Me and I’m getting my notes down for my next novel that will be a revenge novel full of mirth. Oh, and my posts for all the blogs. My husband has given up on having a clean house or any food cooked for him. It’s not going to happen any time soon.

No wonder he’s so grumpy!

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?
Planner. I spend months planning. Each story runs through my head several times as a film. Luckily, I have insomnia so I get to watch my film, night after night until I am satisfied with the plot, characters and ending. Some nights, I even eat popcorn while running it through my head! If it’s good enough to make me want to watch it then it’s good enough to get down on paper.

 Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Yes. I always have one going through my head as ideas, one going through the note-jotting process, one being typed and one being edited at the same time. Isn’t that normal?

It is for me!

When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?
Sleeping. Ha! No, I love travelling. I have always been nomadic and if I can’t get away regularly, I sink into a depression; even if I only nip over to France for a few days, I have to get my fix. I blame it on my upbringing. My father was in the army and we were always on the move from base to base The world is a big, beautiful place and I intend to see as much of it as I possibly can before I am too old.

I’m with you on that. Still have too many places to see and cross off my list.

What’s the best part about being an indie writer?
It may sound odd but I love all the marketing and bits that surround the writing as much as the writing itself. I get a real thrill out of doing interviews, radio chat shows, magazine articles and so on. I am such an attention seeker!

 I think you’re much more extraverted than most of us authors, but it’s great that you enjoy all aspects of writing.

You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?
I am the world’s worst cook so they had better be prepared for a lousy meal. I’d like to invite the group ABBA (okay that’s four people…) to sing. Hubby adores ABBA and it’ll keep him in the party mood all night I’d like to have a couple of comedians around for dinner. John Cleese from Monty Python and Fawlty Towers is one of my favourites and Tim Vine who has the best collection of one-line gags…even better than my own.  

Sounds like a hoot. I love John Cleese.

What is the one book that you wish you had written?
Last week, I read Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding by Rob Brynzda. I laughed so much at it that I genuinely wished I’d written it. I’d have liked to have written all the Harry Potter books for obvious reasons, although I also wish I’d written one of the classics like Wuthering Heights. It would be wonderful to be the author of a book that was read by so many and studied in schools.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Be very, very patient. Don’t be in a hurry to publish your book. You have spent so long writing it that a few more weeks or months making sure it is perfect. Edit it thoroughly. (Hire a professional editor.) Create a good cover and make sure you have a blurb written, a synopsis and promotional materials ready before you press that button and publish it.

Carol, thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with all my questions.
It has been a huge pleasure. Many thanks indeed for letting me take up your time and lounge about here. I don’t really want to go now.

Find out more about Carol below.

Carol E. Wyer is an award winning author whose humorous novels take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. Carol has featured on numerous radio shows discussing 'Irritable Male Syndrome' and 'Ageing Disgracefully'. She has had articles published in national magazines such as Woman's Weekly' and on-line magazines. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and author website Indies Unlimited.

Where can we connect with you?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Author Interview: Lynne Cantwell

So I’m sitting down having a chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Lynne Cantwell. I’ve just finished the first book in her Pipe Woman Chronicles series, Seized, which I enjoyed immensely. Lynne, can you give us a quick overview of the series?

Sure! The main character, Naomi, lives in Denver and works as a mediator for a good-sized regional law firm. As the series opens, she is doing extremely well in her career, and the guy she’s been dating off and on for the past ten years has just proposed. Then she finds out that her good fortune is the result of meddling by a Lakota Sioux goddess named White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman. The goddess has enhanced her powers of persuasion so Naomi can mediate a power-sharing agreement between the Christian God and the pagan gods and goddesses whose worship God has supplanted.  She has also gifted Naomi with a team: Naomi’s best friend Shannon, who becomes her Counselor; a Ute shapeshifter named Joseph, who is appointed her Guardian; and an Investigator, Jack, who we don’t meet until the second book.  The series arc follows Naomi’s journey, from a prosaic lawyer who lives an unexamined life to someone who understands and acknowledges her own heritage and who can deal with deities on their level.

Where did the inspiration come from to write about magic in our rather unmagical, urban times?

I never outgrew my love of fantasy. My favorite series ever is still The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever by Stephen R. Donaldson (the tenth and final book just came out, whoo hoo!). The best fantasy writers investigate the psychological depths of their characters by putting them into untenable situations with magical complications, and watching how they react and grow. When I started reading urban fantasy, I realized I could do all that within a fantasy setting, but without having to invest in a whole lot of time in world-building. Seemed like a win-win.

Did you find that magic asserted itself during the writing of the books?

Wouldn’t that be awesome? Alas, no, not for me personally, unless you count the fact that people have read the series and said they liked it. That’s pretty magical.

Shucks, I was hoping you’d say that you set the book aside at night and when you fired up the computer again in the morning, you miraculously had 100 more pages! Where’s Rumplestiltskin when you need him?

Your main character comes from a mainstream Christian background but finds herself drawn into the living mythology of many ancient cultures. Can you tell us about your own spiritual journey? 

My father was a Catholic-turned-atheist and my mother didn’t grow up in any religious tradition. So I had barely darkened the door of a church by the time I got to college. At that point, I started shopping around. But I never really settled on a denomination and considered myself agnostic for many years. When I reached my 30s, my daughters and I were baptized in the Episcopal Church. Eventually, though, I began looking into Paganism, and I realized that it made the most sense to me. In my current practice, I follow several deities: Brighid and Lugh from the Celtic pantheon and Mokosh from the Slavic pantheon. Mokosh is Mother Earth, more or less; Brighid is, among other things, the goddess of bards; and Lugh’s just generally awesome.

We have a lot in common. I, too, have adopted a very eclectic view of spirituality, and have cobbled together many disparate teachers and masters that touch my soul. I have often said that there could be one church for every single person on the planet, just because no two people believe exactly the same way about everything.

Now back to writing. When you started writing Seized, did you know it was going to be a series? Did you have the series all plotted out, book by book? Or when you got close to the end of Seized, did you realize it was going to go further than you thought?

SEIZED was a NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) project. And yes, I had it in mind to make it the first book in a series. I'd been reading a fair amount of urban fantasy and thought I'd sussed out the conventions of the genre, and wanted to try my hand at writing one. As for plotting out the whole series -- um, not totally. I knew I wanted to base the series structure on a Native American medicine wheel (I did a post on it on my own blog; here's the blog post link: That meant writing at least four books, one for each cardinal point on the wheel. But there's a fifth point at the heart of the medicine wheel, and I knew that would be a great metaphor for wrapping up the story. I just wasn't sure I would have enough plot, after book 3, to write two more. Once I got there, luckily, I found I had plenty of complications!

I love the fiery effect of the covers. Do you do your own covers or do you have someone else design them?

Thanks for the kind words on the covers. Actually, I did them myself. I think the naked abs on so many paranormal romance covers are getting to be a cliché, so I went looking at a royalty-free stock photo site for pictures of animals, to play up the shape-shifting aspects of the story. I found that I kept coming back to that fractal owl on the cover of SEIZED, and I thought, "If it keeps catching my eye, it ought to catch others' eyes as well." And that's pretty much how it's worked out. For FISSURED and GRAVID, I couldn't find fractalized pictures pre-made, but I discovered a GIMP plug-in that produced the effect. And I did get advice from a couple of friends who are graphic artists.

As for GIMP, you can download the current version of the program here:
The plugin is called G'MIC, which you can find here: Once it's installed, go to the Artistic tab and click on Rodilius. That's the process/utility/thingum I used to fractalize the photos for my book covers.

Helpful information, thanks. I have a feeling many other writers will be trying their hand at these wonderful effects.

And, by the way, your book is the first I've read in a long, long time that had absolutely no typographical errors; it's extremely clean in that regard. Congratulations on that; it's rare these days. 

What other books or blogs have you written?

I have two other novels published. SwanSong is a fantasy based on an Irish tragedy called “The Fate of the Children of Lír.” The Maidens’ War is also a fantasy, based sorta-kinda on the Czech legend of the same name. It’s set half in sixth century Eastern Europe and half in 1980s West Virginia. I also co-authored a nonfiction book called Living Simply in the City.

My blog is called hearth/myth; I post there every Sunday. On Thursdays, I post a book review at Rursday Reads. I’m at Indies Unlimited every Friday. And I used to write a monthly column for The Indie Exchange before the site went dark earlier this year.

What are you working on currently?

I’ve just wrapped up the first draft of Crosswind, the first novel in the “Land, Sea, Sky” trilogy. It’s set in Washington, DC, ten years after the Big Mediation in Annealed. The second “Land, Sea, Sky” book, Undertow, will be my NaNo novel this year (if all goes as planned!).

What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?

I’m a planner, but I don’t outline every jot and tittle. I write a synopsis paragraph for each chapter, but sometimes the paragraphs will contain more questions than statements! And sometimes, too, the characters have other ideas. In the outline for one of the Pipe Woman Chronicles books, I wanted Joseph to act like a complete jerk, and he just flat refused to do it. In retrospect, I think he was right.

I know the feeling. In one of my last books, my main character developed a very dark and moody side that I hadn't planned on. But like you, I went with the flow and the book was better for it.

Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?

Not usually. Although this fall, I stepped away from Crosswind to write a short story for an anthology called 13 Bites. It’s a Pipe Woman Chronicles prequel with Joseph and his roommate George as the main characters. It was a lot of fun to hang out with those two guys again.

It’s like going back to visit old friends, isn’t it? And the great part is that you can visit them any time you want, just by re-reading the books.

Do you work with a writing/critique group?

No, I don’t. I’ve got an editor and a beta reader, and that’s it.

I don’t either. We always hear writers should get into a group, but it’s just never appealed to me. I’m glad I’m not the only one!

When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?

When I’m not sleeping, you mean? Knitting is my big hobby. I think I have more knitting projects queued up than writing projects….

I don’t knit, but I LOVE naps! Naps are the best.

What’s the best part about being an indie writer?

I love having control over my own destiny. I collected my share of rejection letters in the days before KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). It’s so great now to be able to publish my own stuff without trying to convince an acquisitions editor that my work would make money for a publisher.

I heartily agree. Having control over our efforts is the best. We are actually able to create the book we envision without having to fight someone else over the title, the cover, and the way it’s marketed.

Back to fantasy. If you could only bring three items with you to a deserted island (non-writing items or people) what would they be and why?

You mean I can’t bring my laptop with the solar-powered charger? Oh, fine, then. My Girl Scout wilderness survival kit would be the first thing. Number two would be my Kindle with a solar charger, so I could catch up on my TBR pile. And finally, I’d bring a satellite-capable cell phone, so I could call for rescue when I was ready to come home.

You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?

I think I would invite my two daughters and my father. Dad died several years before my kids were born. I think they’d enjoy meeting one another, particularly now that my girls are in their twenties. I’d be across from Dad, and the kids would be between us on either side.

Sounds like that would be an awesome time for all.

What is the book that you wished you had written?

Any of the Harry Potter books, just to have J.K. Rowling’s royalties!

Agreed! Then we could quit our day jobs and just write!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Read – a lot. And pay attention when you read to how the author does what he or she does. Then sit your butt in the chair and write. Oh, and once your book has been professionally edited (and I can’t stress the “professional editing” part enough), don’t waste your time chasing a traditional contract – go indie!

Could not agree more. I think we need to make up sweatshirts that say that. Lynne, thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with all my questions.

Find out more about Lynne below.


Lynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, "I could do that." The result was "Susie and the Talking Doll," a picture book illustrated by the author about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master's degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master's degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy.

Where can we connect with you?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Fun at the Library

As I posted in my last blog, I was recently invited to speak about my book, Stone's Ghost, at the Mohave County Library in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. My book is about one of the English ghosts who came with the London Bridge when it was dismantled piece by piece and brought to Arizona and reassembled across the Colorado River. 


Since I hadn't been to Havasu in about 30 years, it was great to see the city and the bridge again. And since I wrote the book based on the combination of that 30-year-old memory and online research, it was nice to know that I got most of the details right. As I was walking around the area, though, I realized that I left out some very obvious things, particularly the seagulls flying over the bridge and the ducks that swam under it. Oh, well; can't have everything.

The Mohave County Library is a wonderful place. It's big, bright and open, and the best thing is: it's full of people! How often do we read that print books and libraries are dying breeds, that e-books and e-readers are taking over and ringing the death knell of "real" books? Not true! I was very happily surprised to see this library catering to its clientele in many varied ways, and to see so many people gratefully taking advantage of this wonderful resource. 

And part of that great relationship was my talk and the folks who came to hear it. We had a great group of people who were interested in the behind-the-scenes process of writing the book, and they were full of questions and comments. We had a very informal, fun morning chatting about all sorts of things and supported by the fabulous library folk who provided munchies and drinks. I enjoyed it immensely, and I think everyone else did, too.

I want to thank Mary Jo and Carol and all the Friends of the Library who helped make this possible, and I especially want to thank the people who attended. It's readers like you who make it all worthwhile for writers like me! 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Stone's Ghost Goes on the Road

Many of you know that I released my latest book, Stone's Ghost, at the end of July. I had a fun book launch party across my blog, Facebook, Twitter and some friends' blogs. I sent out press releases and got a lot of good feedback. 

One very surprising result was getting an e-mail from the Mohave County Library in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. Now if you don't know, my book concerns a ghost who haunts the London Bridge in Lake Havasu. I had sent a press release to the newspaper there, which promptly ran a nice little article about the book, and the library invited me to come and speak about the book. At the time, I wasn't at all sure I'd be able to go; I had a lot going on, both in my day job and in my personal life, so it was iffy. However, some of that chaos abated enough to provide a small window, and on this Friday I will head out for Lake Havasu.

My talk there is scheduled Saturday, October 19, at 11am at the Mohave County Library, 1770 McCulloch Blvd N, Lake Havasu City, AZ 86403, phone: (928) 453-0718. If you're at all in the area, please stop by; I'd love to meet you. I'm planning on giving away some prizes and freebies, and I think it'll be a fun time.

What's really cool is that Lake Havasu celebrates Bridge Days in October, a time to commemorate the London Bridge that is so central to the city. It's a perfect vortex of elements: the Bridge, ghosts, Halloween, my book. I could not have planned it better. I'm really looking forward to it.

And, just because I'd like you to share in the fun whether you're in Lake Havasu or not, I'm putting the price of the Kindle version of Stone's Ghost at FREE for the weekend of October 19-20. You read that right: Free. Click on over and download and get ready for a surprising story of ghosts, love and friendship. I think you'll enjoy it.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Publishing Timeline

I recently read a blog post that talked about outlining an author's publishing history, a timeline of sorts. I thought that was an interesting idea. Here's mine:

1974: After quitting college, getting married, getting custody of my three step-kids and moving to Southern Oregon, I finally began writing in earnest.

1978: After sending one of my handwritten books to my mother to type up, unbeknownst to me she showed it to an agent she knew and he agreed to represent me.

1979: My agent sold my first historical romance, The Rare Breed, to Tower Books in New York.

1984: After the implosion of Tower Books and the buyout by Dorchester Publishing, my book was finally published, albeit under the title Love's Savage Destiny. 

1987: My second historical romance, Superstition Gold, was published by Dorchester, but with the name Love's Savage Embrace. Since my agent's attention had waned and he had stopped sending my books out (I sent the second book to Dorchester myself), I fired him and decided I didn't need an agent.

1999: After shopping a few of my next books around for years and getting no response from publishers, I discovered the new trend of author's showcase web sites online. I uploaded excerpts of several of my books on 

2000: I was approached by Elderberry Press, a vanity publisher, about publishing my spiritual fantasy. My title, The Sibling, evolved into Goddess Rising and was published in 2001. At the time, I was unschooled about vanity publishing but since traditional publishers had gotten extremely conservative about taking on new or little known authors, this seemed the way to go. It was expensive, but at the time it was worth it.

2002: New Concepts Publishing found me on Rosedog and published my satire on romance novels, The Pits of Passion by Amber Flame, as an e-book. This is one book I never thought anyone would publish, since it pokes fun at every sacred cow of the beloved romance genre and is a literal bodice-ripper.

2004: Draumr Publishing, a small traditional press, found me on Rosedog and published Remember Me, a contemporary romance. 

2005: Remember Me was chosen as a finalist in Foreword Magazine's Best of the Year Awards. After several printings, my first two books, the historical romances, went out of print and Dorchester reassigned the rights back to me. 

2006: Fortunately or unfortunately, I discovered PublishAmerica. I submitted my action/adventure book, Queen's Gold, to them and they agreed to publish. I quickly discovered their scam: setting the price of the book to three times what it should have been and their constant marketing to me to buy my own books on "sale." Another expensive lesson. 

2007: I discovered iUniverse, a relatively affordable (vanity) way to re-publish my first two books in order to keep them viable. I published them under my original titles. This was my first foray into what would eventually become self-publishing, my first experience with control over title, design, book cover and packaging.

2008: I discovered CreateSpace, Amazon's self-publishing company, and the joy of total control and truly affordable self-publishing. The learning curve was steep, but as I had several books ready to go, I plowed through and figured it all out by myself. 

2009: A banner year. I entered my fantasy novel, The Blue Crystal, in Amazon's Breakthru Novel Award contest. It made the semi-finals. When it did not win nor garner an offer of publishing, I went ahead and self-published it via CreateSpace. I also published my western action/adventure, The Appaloosa Connection and my contemporary romance, Lightning Strikes. With three self-published novels under my belt and after some discussion about the less-than-stellar sales of Goddess Rising, I came to a mutual agreement with Elderberry for my rights to revert back to me, and I self-published it through CreateSpace.   

2010: I finally convinced PublishAmerica that I was not going to buy any more of my book, Queen's Gold, from them, ever, and that of course no one else was going to, either, since the price was too high, and for a small "administrative fee" they agreed to release my rights back to me. I quickly self-published the book through CreateSpace. I also began my first non-fiction, the biography of my aunt who was an Army nurse and prisoner-of-war. 

2011: New Concepts reassigned the rights of The Pits of Passion back to me, and I published it through CreateSpace. I also self-published the biography of my aunt, Marcia Gates: Angel of Bataan. After much hesitation, I began blogging.

2012: I decided to cancel my agreements with iUniverse for both The Rare Breed and Superstition Gold, and once I had my rights back, I self-published them.

2013: I self-published my first paranormal novel, Stone's Ghost, about a ghost who haunts London Bridge in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. I conducted my first online book release party, ranging across Facebook, Twitter, my blog and several guest host's blogs. I also became a regular contributor to Indies Unlimited, an extremely supportive group that works hard to help indie authors by sharing our experience and knowledge. Draumr Publishing announced they were quitting business and reassigned my rights for Remember Me. This was my last book still held by a traditional publisher, and it's on my list to be revamped for self-publishing. At the same time, I got an idea for a new book and hammered it out in a mere 39 days--a personal best for me. Prior to this, the shortest amount of time it took me to write one book was 3 months. Stay tuned!