Friday, August 30, 2013


Release Date:  Sept. 24, 2013

By:  Michelle Muckley
Ben Stone has one aim; discover the cure for genetic disease.  He watched his father die and promised himself that it would never happen again, especially to his own son.  After his appointment as lead researcher in Bionics Laboratories he begins his desperate research.  It takes four years, but he succeeds.  He discovers NEMREC, a serum able to reconstruct DNA and cure the diseases that have driven him.  It should be the beginning of a new future, but by changing the face of the world, he has unwittingly destroyed his own.

After arriving at his laboratory to find that it has disappeared, he is sucked into a world of conspiracy and betrayal.  The Agency wants NEMREC and will do anything to get it, believing it to be the most powerful scientific discovery in decades.  But it wasn't just NEMREC that they wanted.  The Agency wanted Ben dead, but somehow he survived.  His best friend, his wife, and Ami, the beautiful scientist who he has fallen for at work all offer to help him, but each has a different version of the truth.  They all have their own agenda, only one of them wants what he wants, and in a world where you are already dead, how is it that you are supposed to survive?
What I thought:
Michelle Muckley's Identity X was delightfully suspenseful.  The twists and turns left me hanging on, anxiously turning the pages!  The plot was clever & the world Muckley created felt very real.  The cast of characters were well developed as were their backstories.  In a short space of time, I felt as though I not only knew Ben Stone but I was pulling for him.  I can only hope a sequel is in the works.


Saturday, August 24, 2013

What's a writer to do when they lose their muse?

You sit there - staring at your monitor - praying that the words will come - but they don't....

Writer's block. Most of us have experienced it and those that haven't - well, consider yourself lucky. There's probably a multitude of reasons that we seem to lose the connection with our muse. Work, family, sickness...  Maybe it's as simple and as complicated as trying to force our story to follow our carefully laid out "plan" - only the characters in our heads aren't cooperating. Whatever the reason, the outcome is the same.  We're stuck.  No words are coming - not ones we're satisfied with anyway.  So - what to do?

I've come to think that perhaps we need to feed our creative selves just as we feed our physical selves. For me, I head to the beach or down to the river.  I can usually count on something being there to spark my imagination.  A piece of driftwood might bring to mind a shipwreck - and that leads to the sailors that were aboard.  Maybe one of those sailors survived...  A broken conch shell might make me visualize an octopus lying in wait for its next meal and that may lead to killer hiding in the shadows waiting for some unsuspecting person to go on their nightly run.

The thing is, we each have to find whatever it is that recharges our creative batteries so to speak. For me, it's being near the water.  For you, it may be visiting an art gallery or people watching at your favorite coffee shop.  After working full time jobs and taking care of homes and families, we may feel there isn't enough time in the day to recharge.  It's one of those things that we should make mandatory.  If we can put the trash out on Thursday nights, surely we can set aside an hour or so to let our imaginations run wild.

Writing is what makes us happy.  It's the thing that makes us tick.  We owe it to ourselves to find the time to feed our creative selves.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

A visit to Beaufort and Morehead City, NC

I call myself a Weekend Tourist.  After being locked up in an office all week, when it comes to Saturdays, I make my escape.  Living on the coast of North Carolina has its advantages - one of those advantages is being close to so many cool places.  If you're visiting Coastal North Carolina, you've got to have lunch at Morehead City's El's Drive In.  As you can see, it's a tiny place but has plenty of parking shaded by large oak trees.  They have a variety of burgers but it's the Super Burger that you've got to try.  I forgo the onions but the chili and slaw are to die for... Yum!

El's Drive-In
Morehead City, NC

After lunch, you could visit the NC Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores. However, if you aren't in the mood for crowds, then take a short drive to Beaufort, NC and visit the NC Maritime Museum. Honestly, it's not going to take a long time to tour the facility but it is child friendly and quite enjoyable.  

 14'5" Cosine Wherry
NC Maritime Museum-Beaufort, NC

Perhaps one of the best things about Beaufort is the waterfront.  There are plenty of shops if you are into that but I prefer strolling along and enjoying the view.  It's just relaxing and I can hear Otis Redding singing in my head - I'm just a sitting on the dock of the bay, watching the tides roll away...

Beaufort, NC - Waterfront

                                                                  .....sitting on the dock of the bay - wasting time....  

Beaufort, NC - Waterfront

And I can't think of a better place to waste a little time! 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Rules, Parameters and Imagination

I'll admit it.  As a child, I saw monsters in the bathroom and heard wild animals outside my bedroom window.  I loved watching Scooby-Doo on Saturday mornings and as I laid in bed on Saturday night, I was sure that a goblin or witch was hiding in my closet or under the bed.  Some might say I had an overactive imagination.  Others might think I still do.

Imagination is the portal that carries us to other places - whether an imaginary realm, a fictional city, or a table at your favorite cafe.  It introduces us to characters - knights, fairies, detectives, and the girl next door.

As writers, we want to tell stories that our readers will want to believe.  Just as the laws of nature are constant in the real world,  we must set rules and parameters for our fictional world and we must hold true to those rules.  Those rules will serve as a sort of litmus test when considering the actions of our characters and the elements of the setting.  It is the consistency of the story's components that makes it work.

Character assessments are critical.  Each writer has their own way of learning about the characters in their story.  Some may draw character webs.  Others may interview the characters.   The important thing is to use the information as building blocks during development and as a reminder of the character's attributes as the story progresses.  For example:  If I'm writing about a middle aged woman named Rose who is an activist with the anti-gun lobby and the only witness to a mob hit, I'm probably not going to have her choose to carry a gun.  Why?  Because I'm not sure that's believable. Would Rose be comfortable toting a Glock in her handbag?  Would she know how to load the weapon? Or how to use it?  Maybe not.   However, I might give Rose a can of pepper spray.  She may choose to wear a pair of good running shoes or hire a body guard.

We can apply the same reasoning to our imaginary places.   If the leaves of a great oak tree are purple then they should stay purple.  If an ogre is immune to magic, than no matter how tempting, the ogre should stay immune.

By obeying the rules we've set, we enable our story to progress.  Ignoring the rules will cause our stories to stray into the unbelievable.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Trailers - What do you think?

As a writer of young adult fiction, I was interested in having a book trailer.  I have teenaged children so I see daily how much they are on their computers – whether on social media sites or watching videos/listening to music from sites like YouTube.  I did the research – looking at the pros and cons of book trailers and found it to be inconclusive.  Some people raved about it - others not so much.   I realize that books aren't movies but movie trailers entice me – offering tantalizing glimpses at the product being sold.  The same goes for deodorant or cleaning products.  We see the commercial and BAM! – we decide we need to buy the advertised product.   We are visual people and a book trailer is nothing more than a commercial meant to entice potential buyers.

I spent hours looking for production companies and realized that one of the companies I most liked was out of my price range.   My first choice was a company out of Atlanta, GA called Book Candy Studios.  Wow!  Their trailers are awesome!  But awesome comes with a price tag of about $1,000.00.  As a self published author, I don’t have access to a marketing department or unlimited funds.  I have to decide where I’m going to get the most bang for my buck.   If I had an extra grand in my budget, I’d have chosen them.   Their link:

My next choice was a company called Ghostwriter Extraordinaire. They offer packages that range from $99.00 to $199.00 which I thought was very reasonable.  In fact this was the company that I initially decided to use. You can check out their videos at:  

There were companies that offered videos at a cost somewhere between the above mentioned companies.  There were also companies that offered trailers for very nominal fees. 

During my search, I found an article about making your own book trailer.  I wish I could remember the blog it was featured on, but try as I might, I can’t find it.  I have searched the web looking for the particular post with no luck.  The article suggested using Microsoft PowerPoint or Microsoft Movie Maker.  It also suggested using an online video maker like Animoto 
I decided to give it a try.  At the worst, I would have lost the time I spent trying to make the trailer.  At best, I’d be happy with the product and would have saved a little money.  I choose to use Animoto.  After playing around on their site, I decided to purchase one of their upgraded options.  I’m glad I did.   It took a little time to come up with my “script” because the video maker limits the number of characters on any given frame.  Then there were the pictures.  I knew how I wanted the video to “feel.”  Fortunately, my sister owns a great camera and was willing to help me get the photos I wanted.   Animoto has a good selection of background music and I felt like the piece I selected helped set the tone for the video.

So this is the book trailer I created using Animoto's video maker.  Take a look - it may be something you'd like to try:

Of Dreams and Shadow,
Book Trailer