Friday, February 26, 2016


Five years ago I began to post  blogs as a fellow author of Five Star's Expressions Line. The Expressions line was eventually dropped along with the Westerns. Since Five Star became an imprint  with Cengage, the "times they are "a-changin" once more. I believe I'm correct that, now,  Mysteries are out and Westerns are back in. I'm hoping  those who write in those genres will correct me if I'm wrong.

 Having noted these changes, I too will be  moving on - literally.
.Tom and I will move from the southwest coast to the southeast coast of Florida, in April.  A big leap for us across the state, but a necessary one.  I'm sad to leave friends, organizations, church ministries,  and our lovely place here on the Gulf of Mexico, but I look forward to a new life beside the Atlantic ocean.

As you can imagine, I will be very busy in the coming days, consequently, this will be my last post on Author Expressions. I will be taking a writing break after six novels, four of them with Five Star.
Many thanks to fellow authors for, interviews, reviews, support and thoughtful emails over the years.

I f you haven't read some of the following books look for them on Amazon, B& N and /or Smashwords and Create Space. Four Summers Waiting was my first novel with Five Star and was given a second edition in LP by Thorndike Press. When rights reverted to me,I placed it on several sites as an Ebook.

Safe Harbor was my last novel, a spin-off of The Maine Shore Chronicles. 
Safe Harbor is available as an Ebook and a Trade Paperback book, on Amazon and Create Space.

 The Boxed set Trilogy,  Maine Shore Chronicles, editions for each of the three books is now available as  Ebooks, as are the individual  books, Finding Fiona, Moonglade and Promise Keeper. All three books were  given second editions in Large Print by Thorndike Press before rights reverted to me.

I have removed The Red Cockade from publication for a re-write and edit by local Middle School students. It has been a rewarding experience for them and for me.  They are presently  writing reviews of this Middle grade/YA  novella. I hope to publish some of the reviews on my Facebook blog page "Mary F. Schoenecker Writes" and on my Amazon Author's Page   Check it out before February ends and hopefully, I can get it all together.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Reboot on Writing

I missed my last month's blogging slot because I was in the Galapagos--on a life-changing trip with animals that show no fear, in an environment that looked like Mars to me (not just exotic, but so different that I really did feel transported). Would you believe green cactus trees growing on red rock? Sea lions who take over your towels and roll around? And nesting birds who don't budge when you come close...

AND I finally met the blue-footed booby, who is an expert dive-bomber fisher and poser for pictures.

I came home exhausted, a little sore from all the hiking on uneven sources up and down volcanoes, and totally exhilarated. This is what travel is supposed to do for you: yank you out of your routines and push reboot--on everything.

Home again to confront the reality of Five Star/ Cengage closing its mystery imprint. I had a manuscript ready to go and didn't want to send it to a publisher who would sit on it another six months and then turn it down. So I queried Wings, who has two of my other books. In business since 2001, Wings has a great staff, 3 excellent cover artists, and a steady track record in multiple genres. Best of all, they have recently made the cut as an MWA Approved Publisher. Wings is accepting submissions in all genres. They produce both ebooks and trade paperbacks.

I was delighted when they accepted Catacomb (coming on April 1). Set in my favorite foreign country, Italy, it's about a conservator who teams up with the Italian police to search for a lost trove of Nazi-looted art under the city of Rome. 

I've been dithering about what to write next, but the Galapagos trip helped me solidify my ideas. The next novel will be set in my home state of Illinois, in a museum with all kinds of problems...

Friday, February 19, 2016

What authors want to know...

I reached out on Twitter and Facebook to see what types of things authors want to know. I'll try my best to answer the questions I received.

1. How to make time to write. This truly is an issue for everyone who has family, a home, eats, gardens, has pets, works an outside job and wants to write. I don't profess to have all the answers but maybe I can share some messages from some creative masters.
  • Never miss a day. ~Leo Tolstoy
  • Time melts when you find purpose. ~Vincent van Gogh
  • Habit is the bed of creativity. Tuck yourself in. ~Stephen King
  • Life doesn't bend to your schedule. Find the time. ~Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
  • Distractions are no excuse. Learn to cope. ~Jane Austen
  • Set a time for concentrated work. ~Thomas Mann
2. How to audition male models for the covers. 

  •  I have no clue on this one, but it might be fun to find out.  
  • Hubby says, "Why go for six pack abs when you can have a keg," as he pats his tummy.
3. How to get publicity for our novels so readers want to purchase them. Now there is a great question, and one that I ask myself every day. All I can really do is share some of the ways I have used to garner publicity that were relatively successful.
  • Hold readings and signings at Libraries in your city and small towns surrounding it. Provide a photo, bio, and make a poster for them to put up. Contact the local newspaper and radio station and let them know about the event. Post something on the author & library social media outlets: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc.
  • Blogging. If you are hosting someone on your blog, let everyone know through social media. If you are being hosted on someone else's blog, the same rule applies. This is one I don't do enough of. 
  • Bookstore readings and signings. See the library item above. Also, be nice to the folks that work there - they are often asked to give book recommendations, so be sure they know who you are and all about your book. They also have an "in" with book clubs, which is the author's best way to a best seller.
  • State and local Book Festivals are a good way to get visibility. Put your best foot forward with signs and/or banners, props that represent something in your book and catch the public curiosity or interest, giveaways. Everyone likes free stuff, so if you can obtain some inexpensive bling use it. I always have candy, grownups like it and it keeps the kids busy while they look. Romance writers can put together a little gift bag with every purchase with lip balm, hand lotion, book marks with steaming photos.
  • Book give away is usually a good way to have people try your books, especially if they give you a book review on or Amazon or B&N. I always leave a review and often buy new books based on reviews. 
  • Take advantage of your novel content and find that niche audience. If it involves knitters - approach the local knitting club. If it revolves around animals, connect with the local pet shops, humane societies, and dog clubs. Find that special group of people and let them know about your story.
This is by no means an exhaustive list. Some people are able to hire a publicist and once you've made it big, the pub houses seem to have no end to the marketing funds. Seems backwards doesn't it?

I think that all we can do is write the best story we can, edit it fully, and with a little luck and lots of hard work we'll get noticed. Debut authors still make the best seller list sometimes, look at Gone Girl. But here again, Flynn had an "in," she had been a writer for Entertainment Weekly.

There is no magic pill or formula that works for everyone. We just can't give up. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Blog Tips on Holiday Writing by Jacqueline Seewald

Today is Lincoln’s birthday. The four-day weekend brings us Valentine’s Day as well as President’s Day. Holidays represent a great opportunity for writing a nonfiction piece, or providing setting for a short story or even a novel.

Most nonfiction publications favor holiday submissions, Christmas being the most popular. However, tip number one, make certain to follow the guidelines. Usually magazines and anthologies will give you submission deadlines. Don’t submit either before or after them. It’s an automatic rejection.

Second, if there are no guidelines provided, plan to submit at least six months in advance of the particular holiday--with some publications, even earlier. Novels are different, of course. Even if you’re self-publishing, you need to figure out how much time is required. You don’t want your Christmas story published on July 4th.

Third, make certain that the reference to the holiday appears both in the submission/query letter as well as the subject line if you’re e-mailing. Editors need that info upfront.

Here are two current markets that specifically want holiday writing:

For short story submissions, check out King’s River Life which, although not a paying market, publishes numerous holiday mystery stories and gives exposure in the form of publicity:

My Valentine’s Day story which is a reprint is provided for free there today. It will give you an idea of what they like to publish:

For a lucrative nonfiction paying market, check out Chicken Soup which right now is again looking for holiday stories:

We are now collecting stories for our next
Holiday book that will be published in 2016. We are looking for stories about the entire December holiday season, including Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, and even New Year’s festivities too.”
Their deadline date for story and poems submissions is April 30, 2016.

If you’re of a mind to read some romantic short stories to celebrate Valentine’s Day consider my collection BEYOND THE BO TREE, a fun book that combines romance, mystery, fantasy and the paranormal:

For teenage girls and their mothers to share, THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER is a clean read romance available in all e-book formats plus print:

STACY’S SONG, another YA romance/coming-of-age novel, is also available from Clean Reads Press: 

For readers who enjoy adult romance and paranormal thrillers, check out my recent novel DARK MOON RISING available in print and all ebook formats:

Also available through the publisher Luminosity:

My most recent published novel is a romantic Western thriller
THE KILLING LAND published by Five Star/Cengage, available in both hardcover and ebook:


Are there any holidays you particularly like to read or write about?

Friday, February 5, 2016

Issues in Compiling and Editing a Collection by Susan Oleksiw

One of my projects for the early winter is compiling a number of Anita Ray stories, both old and new, into a single collection. The published stories in this group first appeared in Level Best Books anthologies, beginning in 2003, with the publication of “The Silver House.” The stories are consistently around five to six thousand words. That was no surprise. To balance these and vary the reading experience, I’ve written six new ones three of which are fewer than two thousand words.

After I arranged the stories and began reading, I expected to encounter certain editing problems, such as two characters in different stories with the same name, or changes in the details of a certain store or hotel. I expected some inconsistencies in spelling, minor copy-editing issues easily corrected. But I found a few other surprises.

First, my writing has changed over the years, becoming tighter in description and sharper in dialogue. I expected some change in my style, perhaps new quirks and idiosyncrasies to be removed, but I didn’t expect this. The discovery raises the question of what is necessary in terms of consistency and creating a whole. Do I go back to the older stories and revise them to match more closely the more recent ones, or do I leave them all as they are?

Second, the more recent stories are more traditional in terms of the crime and criminal, and offer less in the way of the anthropology of the region in India that I find so interesting. I can’t and don’t want to change the stories in terms of theme and cultural features, but I am taking note of the change and trying to find balance in the arrangement.

Third, I have remained consistently inconsistent and indecisive when it comes to the transcription of certain Malayalam words into English. I can’t seem to decide between Pongala and Pongaala, the name of an annual ritual that is known as the largest gathering of women in the world, verified by Guinness Book of Records. They’re up to five million by now. Nor can I settle on one transliteration of the breakfast food called idli or ittali. I most often use idlies but also sometimes use iddalies or ittalies. The first one reflects current pronunciation in the area where I lived.

Fourth, several recurring characters don’t have given names in these stories; not until a later novel do I finally name them. Do I add those names here, to make things easier for readers who know the characters from later stories, or do I leave things as they are?

Fifth, the role of some characters has changed over the years. For a brief period Ravi served in the dining room, but that soon came to an end. Should I simply remove him from that task and replace him with the established waiter, Moonu. (And I should definitely settle on one spelling for his name.)

Sixth, Anita is addressed in different ways depending on the speaker’s perceived relationship with her. Those who know her well but consider her a superior and want to show respect address her as Chechi, Older Sister. Those who have known her most of her life, perhaps as a family servant, and still consider her the child of the family, might call her Anita Missi. I’m relieved to find that I’m consistent in the use of madam and memsahib.

All in all, compiling this collection has been rewarding as well as a reminder that writing is an ongoing job, and what has been written can always be improved.

If you’re interested in reading one of the Anita Ray stories, go to

or to