Thursday, July 23, 2015

What I did for my summer vacation

As I said in a previous post, I am struggling trying to find a way to make a second income and not have to leave home to do it. I decided to become a virtual assistant to authors. I already do so much in the writing realm for myself that I figured, what the heck, might as well do it for others.

So if you are in the market to hire someone to help with your writing life, from formatting an ebook to creating a Wordpress website...let me hear from you. Prices are pretty negotiable, pay by the hour, or by the project.

Anyway, check out my website under the A1 Author's Assistant tab.

If I had to write an essay on my summer vacation, I would probably pen something like this:

Stayed home. Wrote book on blog. Went to work. Promoted self. Slept. Ate. Medicated hubby. Medicated dog. Medicated self.

Yeah, that's been my summer so far. I hope yours is better than mine! Maybe when I go to KY in the fall I will have a lot more info to share. Going places to me is a way to refill the well for writing. I always have more inspiration when exposed to different places.

Why don't you leave a comment about your summer so far? Is it worse than mine?

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

My Mother's Shirt

I hung my mother’s favorite shirt in my closet last week. Bright and airy, with pastel stripes, it reminds me of her. It smells like her. And every so often, I go in and hold it close, needing to remember her scent, to feel her presence.

Of course, I know she’s with me, all around me. I know her spirit is free and out of pain. I know she loves me and watches from on high. But somehow, I need this physical reminder of her, this piece of airy fabric that I remember her wearing so often.

My mother was sweet and funny and oh-so-practical. She had great common sense and a contagious love for life. She taught me well, and I see much of her in myself: that passion for a pastoral scene, for kids, for animals, for food, for anything to do with nature. Yes, that all came from her.

I’ve been catching up on laundry, hanging up my own shirts in front of hers. And today, as if afraid I’d lose her more than I already have, I frantically moved her shirt to the front of the closet again. Afraid it would be lost behind my boring dark-colored shirts. Afraid she’d disappear a little more.

I want her to come to me in dreams, like my father did when he died eighteen years ago. But she hasn’t appeared yet. It’s been five weeks. I think she’s having too much fun reconnecting with her loved ones, but especially with all her animals. Heidi, Trixie, Lil Sis, Mama Kitty, Red, Tag…they are all up there, crowding around her, loving her. And I’m sure she’s smiling from ear-to-ear, enjoying her reunion. I think she’s even petting our old tiger cat, Leprechaun, who had beat-up ears, a stick-out tongue, and some naughty habits I won’t elaborate on here.

I believe she’s sad to be parted from those of us who are still on earth, but she also knows that we’ll meet again. And that probably sustains her, like it will me when the raw, aching pain lessens. I'm trying. I really am.

I love you, Mum. 

Aaron Paul Lazar, July 22, 2015.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Tampa Bay Comic Con - July 31-August 2, 2015

Hello everyone,

We had such fun last year at Tampa Bay Comic Con that we decided to go back. So yours truly, along with fellow Twilight Times Books authors Scott Eder and Maria DeVivo, will return to the Tampa Convention Center and join in this fun and exuberant celebration of fantasy in all of its forms. Tampa Bay Comic Con 2015 runs all weekend from Friday, July 31, to Sunday, August 2. Join us during our author discussion panels as scheduled below and stop by the Twilight Times Books Booth at Artist Alley E19/E20 and say hi. We’d love to see you there.


Tampa Bay Comic Con - July 31-August 2, 2015

Authors Panel Schedule

Meet the Fantasy Authors of Twilight Times Books 

For Information and Tickets Click Here.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

When Characters Outgrow Their Roles


Christine Amsden

We are delighted to welcome Christine Amsden to MB4, in the eve of the release of her new novel, Madison’s Song. Congratulations Christine! Today, Christine shares with us a little about her inspiration for her new novel and how the characters that we know so well sometimes surprise the writer.

Some characters arrive on a blaze of inspiration. They bowl you over, shout their secrets into your mind, and won't shut up until you've written their story. Such was the case with Cassie Scot, the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers who became the heroine in her eponymous series.

Other characters sneak up on you, perhaps whispering their secrets, perhaps trying to grab your attention when it's spent somewhere else. Such was the case with Madison Carter, Cassie's shy, plump friend who outgrew her role in the Cassie Scot series.

I first met Madison as I built a world around Cassie. I'd already given Cassie a large family, a romantic interest, and even a bad guy to fight, but she still didn't feel complete. Of course! She needs friends. Normal friends, I decided, not part of the supernatural world she doesn't quite fit into. Friends who could express doubts about magic. Friends who ended up getting drawn into her world.

If Cassie is, in some ways, the person I would most like to be, then Madison started out as the person I felt I truly was. Maybe this connection made it inevitable that she would grow into something more than a background figure, there to play the role I'd set for her. I don't know. I only know that over the course of four books she turned from sidekick to real person. Ultimately, I couldn't finish her story from Cassie's point of view. Madison deserved a story of her own.

Madison Carter went through hell during the Cassie Scot series. She was outed as a songbird – someone whose voice can influence emotions in others. Worse, she was outed as a very low-powered sorceress, with no training or skills to protect her from those who would take advantage of her. That's what happens to her in the prologue to Madison's Song, which I wrote shortly before writing Mind Games (Cassie Scot #3). That's when it happens, as a matter of fact. An evil sorcerer, having heard about her gift, and believing her unprotected, attempts to steal her soul in order to trap her songbird gift.


One of the biggest challenges I faced when spinning off Madison's story was that it began in such a dark, horrifying way. The Cassie Scot series begins in a lighthearted manner, and though it has its ups and downs, the lighthearted tone remains true to the end.

But Madison isn't Cassie. And Scott, the romantic hero, is not Evan.

Madison nearly loses her soul in the prologue to Madison's Song. Scott saves her, but at a terrible cost. And that's not the only bad thing that's happened to her in the past. In the final two volumes of the Cassie Scot series, Madison is betrayed by her father, her fiance, and her mentor. Already prone to feeling shy, this combination of hurts sends her into a real panic, with fear of werewolves at the heart of it all. Yet I had plans to set her up with a werewolf who loves her.

This was not going to be a lighthearted story, not if I wanted to stay true to the character I'd spent four books building.

I'm a character girl. I've always said so because I see great characters as being more important than anything else in telling a good story. Madison put this mantra to the test as she took me in directions I wasn't sure I wanted to go.

When characters outgrow their roles, when they take on lives of their own, all an author can do is channel them onto the page and hope for the best. They may not have come to life in a blaze of inspiration, but they are alive. Perhaps even more fully realized than the ones who just show up.

And they'll be the ones writing the story. 

 About Madison's Song

Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black...

Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison's nightmares are not.

Despite her fears, when Madison's brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.

Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton's home only to discover that he's vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she's not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott's are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.

About Christine Amsden


Christine Amsden has been writing fantasy and science fiction for as long as she can remember. She loves to write and it is her dream that others will be inspired by this love and by her stories. Speculative fiction is fun, magical, and imaginative but great speculative fiction is about real people defining themselves through extraordinary situations. Christine writes primarily about people and relationships, and it is in this way that she strives to make science fiction and fantasy meaningful for everyone.

At the age of 16, Christine was diagnosed with Stargardt’s Disease, a condition that effects the retina and causes a loss of central vision. She is now legally blind, but has not let this slow her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children.

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