Thursday, October 30, 2014

Art and the Human Experience

by Annie Anthony

For as long as there have been humans, there has been story. Stories are educational. They entertain. Narratives serve political, religious, and cultural purposes. Art taps into the archetypes of human experience and at the same time resonates on a specific and individual level with you, where you live, as you sit on a couch/bed/in a waiting room reading your book/eReader/smart phone.

October is a month that celebrates Queer stories. Whether in the digital space, in books, with purple t-shirts, or other slogans, for one month of the year our culture celebrates gay romance, coming out, anti-bullying, spirit. But as recently as twenty five years ago (ten? maybe even five?) minority/niche/other fiction was a novelty.

What do I mean? Think Fabio. Romance readers, writers, publishers: where is Black Fabio? Gay Fabio? I think I’ve seen him scaling the brick and mortar walls of bookstores, “popping up” in the digital space.

Part of why I write is to share the stories that are relevant to my own life and experience, and of course I hope that my stories entertain, educate, enlighten. My own coming out process was difficult (agonizing) and protracted (took far too long.) As a publically “out” lesbian, my writing reflects the stories and issues that are meaningful to me. But does that mean I write only for my tribe?

A well-known fact in publishing is that roughly 60% of the readers of MM erotic fiction or MM romance are women. Straight/heterosexual. Married. Women. Why? I have edited MM erotica and romance. I have read in that genre more than I’ve edited, but I don’t think I am the average consumer. As I like to say, I see homosexual men and women as two sides of one gay coin. Reading about gay male experience is relevant, right? To me? A lesbian? Just because the sex doesn’t arouse me doesn’t mean I don’t relate to the humor, the tension, the conflict and oh-so-delicious resolution.

That brings me back to my original statement: story as both archetype and individual.

What do any of us really choose to read and why? Sometimes for pure distraction or sexual titillation; sometimes for education or information. Sometimes we read just to feel that basic connection to a human who has articulated our own personal feelings and thoughts better than we might be able to do ourselves. To connect.

If the fundamental purpose of reading is to satisfy hunger—be it a profound or simple need—why has popular fiction been painfully bereft of Black Fabio? Gay Fabio? Lesbian Fabio… er, Fabia?

The answer to that question is complex and difficult, but the reality is that we have a powerful opportunity today, right now, and never more publically than during the month of October. Writers, readers, publishers, bloggers—together we have access to media and the ability to create material that will allow stories to reach unprecedented economic, social, and personal spaces.

If you want to experience multicultural stories, gay stories, heterosexual stories—there is room for all of us at the table. October is like Thanksgiving for story and for queer—a feast, a celebration, and a joining together.

Whether you participate in Queer Romance Month, Spirit Day, National Coming Out Day—other/none, I invite you to chat up someone at the party this month who you don’t already know. Meet someone new in October. If you’re straight, ask yourself whether gay romance might be entertaining, educational. Power dynamics, economic realities, gender stereotypes—these themes are universal to both heterosexual relationships and queer couples. And what about pure entertainment? Writing about sex is about so much more than body parts… the chemistry, the insecurities, the desire—that hunger. If you’re hungry, if you’re at the party, try talking to someone new this month. You never who you’ll meet and what adventures are there for you to enjoy.

To read an excerpt from Annie's latest release Blue Suede Boi, please click here.

Annie Anthony writes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and lists. She edits professionally but promises she does not critique text messages. Annie volunteers with children who have medical special needs and also with GLBTQ causes. Originally from Chicago, she currently lives in Los Angeles. She is a tattoo lover, a dog mama, and last but not least, a lesbian. Annie hopes you will visit her blog, like her Facebook author page, and follow her on Twitter. Her lesbian erotica short story, Blue Suede Boi, is available from Musa Publishing.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Where did you get the idea for ROAD APPLES?
ROAD APPLES was originally written as a sequel to an unpublished manuscript, though it’s endured as a standalone. ROAD APPLES is a play on the phrase used to describe horse manure found on a hiking trail, and is the name of the coffee house in Tacoma, Washington, where the main characters first meet.

How did you develop your lead characters?
Madeline Benités was inspired through observations of young multi-ethic women in my own family. She comes from a Filipino-American family that’s big on tradition. Wyatt McLain was developed by actively avoiding the white American stereotype of Native American men.

What drove you to write Fiction Noir?
I live in the Bay Area (Northern California), in a region that’s culturally diverse. I wanted to demonstrate how a woman like Madeline, hailing from a semi-urban background, could find common ground with Wyatt, raised on the Quinault Indian Reservation in Washington State. I wanted to put together two lovers mismatched not only by life experience, but in age—a classic “May/December” relationship—with a twist, when Madeline’s ex, Jake, seeing her with a new love interest, realizes the error of his ways, and tries to win her back.

Here is a brief intro to ROAD APPLES.

The time came when I realized that I had lived most of my short adult life in a stupor, my eyes blind to all the possibilities in front of me. I became a believer one fateful night in the rain, at the appointed hour, and all because of a vintage car, a loyal dog, and a cheating boyfriend.

Madeline Benités is a realist, unaffected by the power of destiny, a skeptic who firmly believes in free will. Fed up with the man in her life, Jake Keene, when he becomes engaged to marry another woman, Maddie feels a need for distance to salvage her sanity.

On a road trip, she meets Wyatt McLain, a glaringly honest man, whose compelling past is part of his charm. A true believer in fate, Wyatt is convinced he and Maddie have been put together for a preordained purpose. But the future is thrown into chaos when Maddie discovers she is pregnant, and doesn't know with certainty if the father is Jake or Wyatt. When her life seems headed toward disaster, Maddie must decide whether to allow fate or free will to determine the outcome.

To read excerpts from books by Karen Kennedy Samoranos please click a vendor's name. Musa Publishing - Amazon

An author of Fiction Noir, and Erotic Romance, Karen Kennedy Samoranos co-manages a music education business in the Bay Area with her husband, Clifford, focusing on jazz theory and live stage performance for children ages 5 through 18. She has four adult children, and four young grandchildren. In her off hours, she hikes, is an avid fisherman, and motorcyclist (both dirt and street), and an advocate for regular exercise, the modest consumption of red wine, and adherence to whole foods.

Learn more about Karen Kennedy Samoranos on her website Saraville and her blog Unfiltered Speech in a Politically Correct World. Stay connected on Facebook.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


from Lizzie T. Leaf

Nacho Popcorn
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
¾ cup unpopped popcorn kernels
¼ cup coconut oil, melted
¼ cup nutritional yeast
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ tsp. sea salt
Few shakes hot sauce, optional

Heat grapeseed oil in a large saucepan or soup pot over medium-high heat until shimmering.

Add popcorn seeds and place a lid on the pan. Shake vigorously to coat the kernels with oil.

When the corn starts to pop, shake the pan constantly until the popping stops, 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the popped corn into a large mixing bowl.

Drizzle the melted coconut oil over the corn, and sprinkle with nutritional yeast, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and sea salt. Stir thoroughly and serve with a few shakes of optional hot sauce.

For more spice and flavor kick, add cayenne pepper, or curry powder.

YIELD: 6 to 8 servings (12 cups total)

Now that you're done in the kitchen, sit back with your favorite beverage and your yummy popcorn and check out a lively read from my DEAD series, DEAD Hot.

Will family secrets let her find love with a guy that cats around?

Sharla Gomez’s dream encounter with the man she’s lusted over for months turned into rain-soaked nightmare. Her hopes of love and passion have gone to the dogs. Being a shifter is hell, especially when you’re a Pug/Chihuahua mix, or as some call the breed, a Chug. Even dogs don’t want to be told they’re so ugly they’re cute?

Dorsey Smith wants to get to know the exotic number-cruncher in charge of the strip club’s books. Just his luck she disappeared before he could ask her out for coffee. Instead of taking home the woman he lusts for, he takes home the small, drenched dog shivering in the rain. When he discovers the animal missing the next morning and he senses magic in the air. Has his safe haven been discovered and will his secrets be revealed?

Can two people with deep secrets discover the truth about each other and still find love. Or will the secrets and the evil lurking drive them apart?

To read an excerpt please click here.

To read excerpts from other books by Lizzie T. Leaf please click a vendor's name - Musa Publishing - Amazon.

Lizzie T. Leaf loved books since she opened her first one. Her dream was to write them herself. Lost in the hectic day to day world of family, job, laundry and housework, writing became a distant memory. When the twinkling ember did spark, it was usually doused by someone demanding their share of her time.

Lizzie's life went full circle. The desire to put the stories that continued to play in her head on paper emerged stronger than ever, and at a time when there was someone who encouraged. Now she lives her dream.

Monday, October 27, 2014


Dialogue Tips
by Sloane Taylor

Editors like dialogue. It provides ‘white space’. Readers like dialogue. It moves the story along at a faster pace. You, the author, need to master writing dialogue. Let’s try and make it easy for you with two important factors.

He said, she said, they all said, these are known as dialogue tags.

Many writers wax poetic with; he replied angrily, she screamed out the words, they hissed their answer as one. After you yank your finger out of your throat consider why the three examples are bad.

He replied angrily.

Replied is fine, but angrily is overkill. Your dialogue must show the character’s anger. Add an action to emphasize instead of an adverb. Such as:

He jabbed his finger at her, emphasizing each word.

Once in awhile it may be necessary to add an adverb. Hester Kaplan wrote in a prize -winning short story:

“Cold as hell in New York," she said hoarsely, as though clots of snow were lodged in her throat.

In this case “hoarsely” is important to the reader or they would be confused over a person choking on clots of snow.

She screamed out the words.

Over the top. If your character has to scream, then so be it, but it’s unnecessary to add “out the words”. Because what the hell else is she going to scream – sausages? Again, your verbs in the dialogue should be strong enough to show, not tell, the reader the character is screaming out the words.

They hissed their answer.

Snakes hiss, people generally don’t. Write your dialogue to show their anger or do it with an action. Foot stomping or slapping a wall are good actions.

Every sentence of dialogue by a different character doesn’t need a tag line. If you have two people talking the occasional “said” is sufficient. But if you use an action after the line of dialogue then drop the “said”.

Here’s an example:

“Your perfume is very unusual.” He sniffed at her neck.
“Thank you. It’s my favorite.”
“It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite name it.”
He snapped his fingers. “Exactly.”

Nary a he or she said added, yet you know who is talking.

A few more tag lines will be required when you have a group in conversation. When writing a group it's necessary to add the character’s name.

“Your perfume is very unusual.” Max sniffed at her neck.
“Thank you. It’s my favorite.” Eva smiled at what she hoped was a compliment.
“It reminds me of something, but I can’t quite name it.”
“Rosemary?” asked Ron.
Max snapped his fingers. “Exactly.”

Every character in your story has a different voice. This means the way they say things. Be true to that character and write the dialogue as if they were really speaking.

Now that you have the idea, go though your manuscript in hard copy. Read the dialogue aloud or, better yet, have a friend read it. Then ask yourself these questions;

• Does it seem stilted, unnatural?
• Is that character’s dialogue true to them or do they all sound alike?
• Have you over-dramatized the tag lines?
• Is the dialogue too long?
• Boring?
• Important enough to move your story along?

You’ll be glad you took the extra time to check your manuscript. Those few extra hours will make the difference between a contract and a rejection.

As always, I love to hear from you. If you’re not comfortable posting a comment here or prefer to talk privately, email me at with WRITING in the subject line. I’m happy to spend time with you.


Award-Winning author Sloane Taylor believes humor and sex are healthy aspects of our everyday lives and carries that philosophy into her books. She writes sexually explicit romances that take you right into the bedroom. Being a true romantic, all her stories have a happy ever after.

Her books are set in Europe where the men are all male and the North American women they encounter are both feminine and strong. They also bring more than lust to their men’s lives.

To read excerpts from the erotic romances by Sloane Taylor, please click HERE.

Learn more about Sloane Taylor on her website, and her blog for easy recipes. Stay connected on Facebook and Twitter.

Sunday, October 26, 2014


Where did you get the idea for Guarding His Heart?
I’m always creating backstories for people I see in real life and on TV. Why is he so mean? Why is she so commitment phobic? Then I met author Dominique Eastwick at a writers’ conference where she introduced me to the Wiccan Haus series. As soon as I read her novella Shifting Hearts, my mind started spinning a yarn about an unexpected hero from urban legend. I love her shared world; with several authors involved, there’s always a new novella and new characters to love.

How did you develop your lead characters?
Trevor Greene is a shifter whose innate camouflaging ability makes him the perfect bodyguard. He’s been raised to distrust the humans whose insatiable curiosity put his kind’s existence in constant jeopardy. I considered how a shifter from a secretive society would view humanity. Then naturally I had to complicate his life by providing him with a woman whose compassion, beauty and strength make her irresistible.

What drives you to write Paranormal Romance?
Anything is possible in this genre. There is always a struggle between right and wrong, good and evil. Sprinkling in a little magic enhances both the friction between the characters as well as increase the level of conflict. Who doesn’t enjoy being bewitched?

On an island where paranormals walk secretly among humans, can Trevor trust his heart and his secret to a human woman?

School teacher Cassidy Sinclair’s sanity is questioned after claiming to see her hero appear out of thin air. Her savior dies in her arms after intercepting a gunshot meant for her and her student, Allan Branson. The only person who believes her account is the boy’s father who arranges her one-week stay at an exclusive holistic healing spa called the Wiccan Haus off the coast of Maine.

Trevor Green, a paranormal, is recovering—again—from gunshot wounds at Wiccan Haus. His body battered and his confidence broken, he is tasked to protect the woman he almost got killed. The one he’s fantasized about for months and who thinks he’s dead.

Click a vendor's name to read an excerpt. Musa Publishing - Amazon

Carolyn Spear finds magic in nature. The woods, the river, the beach is where she feels connected with the earth. Native cultures on every continent understand the the relationships between the spiritual and physical realms. Carolyn constantly looks for patterns in everything and finds more similarities than differences in the world's belief systems.

She grew up in a rural county in Virginia where everyone knew everyone. Like many kids from small towns, Carolyn intended to get far away from my hometown as possible. Yet, she can't imagine growing up anywhere else and hates all the strip malls and chain stores that cropped up after she left for college.

Learn more about Carolyn Spear on her website and blog.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


Musa Publishing is thrilled to announce Mage Revealed Book 2 of The Magic Withheld series by CD Coffelt is now available.

Not many can say they were born twice in a lifetime. Not many would want to.

Struck with enough malevolent Spirit to turn him into a raving beast of a man, Bert Reese fights to remain human. Alone, he walks a slender path between sanity and madness. Then, an unlikely source enters his life to help—one of the now-hated mages.

But Ashleigh is different and calms his butchered senses. Her fierce nature is the only rock that stands between him and the crevasse that is beast. In all ways, she walks beside him toward a new beginning. But at the end of their journey lies the one who used Spirit against him. Questions arise; did Tiarra, head of the Imperium, lose her magic, die, or simply give way to the new order? Or, like a spider, does she wait for a mage to blunder into her web?

Forced on him without a care for his humanity, Bert is the mage who should not exist, born with a different kind of magic.

And the gates of Hell are no match for the magic he wields.


Please click a vendor's name to read excerpts from other books by CD Coffelt. Musa Publishing - Amazon


CD Coffelt lives outside Maryville, Missouri with a bemused husband and way too many cats. She adores all things fantasy with a special love for urban and epic.

Learn more about CD Coffelt on her blog and Unicorn Bell a site CD shares with five other authors.. Stay connected on Facebook and GoodReads.

Friday, October 24, 2014


Musa Publishing is thrilled to announce the mystery novel The Long Search for Home, book 2 of Random Survival by Ray Wenck, released today.

When death surrounds you it's time to go home.

When the world changed Bobby and Becca found themselves in constant danger. With no where safe the brother and sister decide to take the long treacherous journey home in hopes of finding their family alive. However, along the way, they are captured by a Colonel who is building an army to protect the country from what he feels is an impending invasion.

Bobby and Becca manage to escape and find their father and a new home, but when an invasion actually occurs and the colonel's army is ambushed, they must decide stay home and be safe, or try to rescue the man who would have kept them imprisoned.

Becca could feel them behind her. They were getting closer. Her breaths were already coming in deep painful gulps, but to quit would be the end. Knowing what they would do if they caught her she raced on, ignoring the pain, but the outcome was inevitable. They were bigger, stronger and more numerous; otherwise she might stand a chance.

Sprinting hard over the open, high grass of what had once been a golf course, she reached down, her hand finding the handle of the long survival knife her father had given her so many years before. In midstride she yanked it free of the sheath strapped along her thigh. With the blade now rising and falling in her hand like a relay racer’s baton, a quick thought of her father flashed through her mind. He was the reason for this journey. Well, if she was going to go down, she would make him proud.

To read excerpts from other books by Ray Wenck please click here.

Ray Wenck has taught for thirty-four years. He began writing three years ago just for fun. Through the encouragement of his student teacher Ray continued writing and submitted his latest work to Musa.

Learn more about Ray Wenck on his website. Stay connected with Ray on Facebook.