Monthly Archives: May 2012

Which Comes First, the Author or the Muse?


Crymsyn Hart

Today I have spent most of the day stuffing goody bags with candies and other fun things for this upcoming weekend. I’ll be attending ConCarolinas to hang out with all the other awesome guests and some of my fellow blog members.

While stuffing the bags, plot badgers started rooting around in my brain and a new story bloomed. I hate it when that happens. I think my muses have been eating too many of those pot brownies that I’m not supposed to know about. My muses claim they get together and discuss plot ideas and are relieved when I finally start writing something. I don’t see how they are relieved. I finish writing a book and my brain goes on lock down for at least a week and I can’t even think about sitting at a keyboard. Although my muses end up banging at the bars and want out. So I think my muse’s perspective on things is a little skewed.

She claims they attend workshops to inform me on how to write better, but it’s really me doing all the leg work and researching to make sure I have the details correct if I’m writing on a subject I don’t know.  She thinks she can hide all the drunken parties with the werewolves and gnomes that live inside my mind. Well, she’s wrong. I know all about them. They can’t hide anything from me. *Evil Laugh*

So makes me ponder a question.

Which comes first, the author or the muse?

What do you think?


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Paranormally Speaking


Tina R. McSwain

CAPS is Featured in the June Issue of Charlotte Magazine

We are proud to announce that CAPS is featured in the June issue of Charlotte Magazine.

We would like to express our thanks to Writer, Michelle Boudin, Charlotte Magazine Editor and Staff, and Photographer, Adam Whitlow, for including us in their publication.

Tina R. McSwain, Founder & Director,

The Charlotte Area Paranormal Society (CAPS)

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Who are your favorite Villains?

by Gail Z. Martin

We just finished up a fun session in my Thrifty Author Meetup group about villains.  Everyone had fun talking about who their favorites were and why, and then we hashed out how to create good villains in our own writing.

In no particular order, here are some of the villains who hit our Top Villains list:

Darth Vader (before Episodes I – III)

Dolores Umbridge (everyone agreed she out-eviled Voldemort)

Good ol’ Voldy

Syndrome (from The Incredibles)

Randall Flagg (from The Stand)

The Joker (voted best nemesis of Batman’s)

Angelique (from the original Dark Shadows)

Sauron (LOTR)

Dracula (the Bram Stoker version)

Satan (as portrayed in Piers Anthony’s Incarnations of Immortality series)

I know we mentioned more, so if you were at the meeting and you know which ones I’ve missed, or you just want to nominate some of your own, please add to the list!


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Updates on my convention tour: Ravencon

by Gail Z. Martin

Once again, Ravencon in Richmond VA was a fantastic event.  From the steampunk Darth Vader to the wealth of panels to choose from, to the great dealer room, it’s always a well-run con and a darn fine party.

Personal panel schedules were not available when I checked in, so I started the con by showing up at the wrong panel (they let me stay), but I had a blast anyhow.  One of my favorite panels was on the “magical middle class”—characters in Harry Potter who weren’t main characters, but who kept the world running.  It was the perfect topic for a panel, and we had a full room with people who were not afraid to participate—which is ideal for those of us upon the panel who don’t want to do all the talking.

One of the evening highlights was an invitation-only scotch tasting party where I learned a lot about both scotch and Scotland.  As usual, the Capclave and Barflies parties were both well attended and great places for free-wheeling discussions.  And although I didn’t make it to the Belle Morte concert, I have it on good authority that it was fantastic, as was the masquerade, which I did attend.

Next up is Balticon, where I have a short story in the Spells and Swashbucklers anthology that will be having its launch party.  I hope to see you there!

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The World According to a Muse


Crymsyn Hart

Hello world!

Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually getting to break out of my author’s mind and get a chance to address all of you. It isn’t like my author keeps me chained up and tortures me. Although, there are certain times when my fellow muses and I do have to attend workshops so we can accurately inform our author how to use certain equipment when she writes about it. Those can be exceptionally fun and always breed more entertainment and shenanigans than our author can handle so we restrict her access. But I can tell you that ten muses running around in a BDSM dungeon, set up in some mountain retreat, filled with werewolves and gnomes makes for an excellent weekend party. But shh…we can’t let on to our author that we get drunk and frolic naked. She still thinks we’re all sophisticated sitting around collaborating on ideas all the time.

Of course, there are times we discuss ideas, but that is usually when we are all playing poker and munching out on pizza. I get my best inspiration when I’ve had too many pot brownies. Our author doesn’t imbibe, but what goes on in her mind is a well kept secret. So the current ideas we have lined up for her are starting to pile up. It’s getting rather crowded in our cramped quarters, tucked away in the paradise of her thoughts.

However, when she finally gets to one we will all have some relief, but then the partying gets to start all a new. Until then, I’m going to hide out and munch on some delicious brownies.


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Paranormally Speaking


Tina R. McSwain

Being more than you can be.  CAPS and I are paranormal investigators and researchers first and foremost.  We strive to help those folks who live in a haunted house or otherwise experience the paranotmal and are frightened by it.  However, when you find yourself with such a captive group as the team members of CAPS, we often find other outlets for our talents.

We volunteer our time with the Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.  And, in the next few wkeks, you can do the same.  Like NASCAR?  Want to help the hungry?  Then, read on…

AARP Million Meals packing event needs 3000 volunteers for this special program.
Volunteers will get the opportunity to pack a million meals for seniors living in poverty. The event will take place May 24 – 25 at the Charlotte Convention Center and will be coordinated by Second Harvest Food Bank. Celebrity Race Car Driver Jeff Gordon will be there packing meals and will be working side by side with the volunteers for this event.
AARP and AARP Foundation, in collaboration with the charitable organization Outreach, Inc., are bringing together thousands of volunteers over the course of two days with a goal to package one million nutritious meals through Drive to End Hunger. Be a part of this extraordinary effort to help fight older adult hunger in your community and across North Carolina. The meals packaged will help feed older people in North Carolina. Together we can leave hunger in the dust.
Jeff Gordon, four-time NASCAR Cup Series Champion and driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, will be at the Convention Center on Thursday 5/24 to participate. Also participating are tennis legend Martina Navratilova on Thursday 5/24 and Friday 5/25, and Host of CBS NFL Today James “JB” Brown on Friday 5/25.
All participating volunteers will receive a t-shirt at check-in, on the day of the event.
Please consider volunteering for this event!

Thank you!!

Tina R. McSwain, Founder & Director

The Charlotte Area Paranormal Society (CAPS)

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Value Beyond the Book

by Gail Z. Martin

Think of your book as the ice breaker for an ongoing conversation between the author and the reader. If the book has made an impact on the reader, it’s only natural for him or her to want to continue the conversation, ask follow-up questions, or go deeper. That’s why it’s important for your site to give readers something they won’t find anywhere else—extra value.

“Value” can take many different forms. You could have a forum area where readers can post questions and you can respond, or where readers can discuss the book with each other. You could post extra material that didn’t fit in the book, or updated information that became available after the book went to press. You can add your voice and personality through blogging, audio and video so that readers who can’t see you in person at an event still have the feeling that they’ve met you. Most of all, you can extend what it was that they really liked about the book by giving them more of it.

For a non-fiction author, this can include posting new tips, links to additional resources, quizzes or research results. For a fiction author, it might mean creating new content not available elsewhere, or posting content first on your own site to reward faithful readers. Authors who have a new book in the works definitely want to let readers, reporters and reviewers know, and readers who enjoyed the first book will find it valuable to know that there’s more good stuff to come.

One way to provide this value is through free downloads and an email newsletter. A free download could be a bonus chapter, brand-new article or report, but anything that can be delivered via a web link or email is a possibility, so long as the reader would consider it to be valuable. If you ask visitors who want to receive the free download to enter an email address, you are now building a permission-based mailing list (otherwise known as an opt-in list).

It’s important to have permission before sending out group emails (such as announcements or newsletters) because you can get in a lot of trouble if your emails aren’t wanted and get reported as “spam.” The Internet community takes a very dim view of unwanted emails, and if your emails generate too many complaints, you may find your site taken down or your email disabled.

When visitors choose to enter their email address in order to get a free downloadable bonus, they are giving you permission to use that email to stay in touch. You are also making an implicit promise not to bombard them with sales pitches and junk. Email announcements and newsletters should give readers the option to unsubscribe easily.

Your opt-in list is a valuable tool for staying in touch with readers, and your website helps you to build your list and deliver the downloadable bonus items. Once you have a growing opt-in list, you can use your email newsletter to remind readers of upcoming live and online events, new books, related products, classes and speaking engagements. Treat your opt-in list like a precious treasure and only send information that readers will find valuable.


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Filed under Books, Gail Z. Martin

Paranormally Speaking

By Tina R. McSwain

The Traveling Psychic Fair — Coming May 6th!

Until recently, I did not know just how big the metaphysical community was here in Charlotte.  If you’re in the area on Sunday, come and check it out.

The Traveling Psychic Fair is Back! Join a growing community of talented Healers and Intuitives for a day of food, fun and fortune! Introductory 15 minute readings are being offered by several of Charlotte’s most talented individuals for only $25!! It is the perfect way to “try on” several psychics to see who most resonates with YOU! Date: Sunday May 6th Time: 12:00 – 5:00 Place: Amelie’s French Bakery 2424 N Davidson St Charlotte, NC 28205 There will be: •Aura Readings •Animal Communication •Rune Readings •Psychometry •Intuitive Tarot •Life Purpose Readings •Holistic Energy Readings •Spirit Communicators….and much more! CAPS will be there too with an Information Table. Stop by and Say Hi!!

There will be:

Messages From Spirit – Jonathan Harris Intuitive
Life Readings – Linda Thunberg
OverSoul Readings – Lynn Durbin
Aura Readings – Jennifer Vivian
Scrabble Tarot – Karen Yoder
Animal Communication – Tina Marie Heckman
Rune Readings – Jennifer Halls
Intuitive Body Work: John Mcbride
Psychometry – Sherry Avitan Intuitive
Tarot – Gina Spriggs
Life Purpose Readings – Marcela McBride
Holistic Energy Readings – Jennifer Thompson
Somatic Intuitive readings – Kimberly Beroset
EMF Balancing – Aleksandra Shumaker
How to Make Your Own Pendulum – Shari Claire
Learn More About CAPS – The Charlotte Area Paranormal Society – Tina R. McSwain
Date: Sunday May 6th
Time: 12:00 – 5:00
Place: Amelie’s French Bakery 2424 N Davidson St Charlotte, NC 28205

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What Authors Really Want

by Gail Z. Martin

Of course, authors want people to buy and read their books. Authors also want readers and reviewers to say nice things about the book to others, encouraging more sales. Authors would like to be featured in the media as an expert and as the writer of a successful book. Some authors want to use a book to encourage readers to become clients of their business. Many authors see the value in being invited as a speaker to events, conferences and conventions. They want to use the book as a platform; and they also want to use speaking engagements to connect with more readers.

For authors who plan to write more than one book, they’ll want to keep readers fired up about how much they liked Book One so that they will run out and buy Book Two. Authors who have written a book about making personal, social or political change may also want to keep readers engaged so that readers will put what they’ve read into action. Most authors want to be seen as experts and as successful and credible professionals.

Whether or not your website is successful depends on how well is gives readers what they want and helps you get what you want as the author.

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Stuck In the Mental Mud with Muses Screaming

Devil'sTavern: Vengeanceby

Crymsyn Hart

Have you ever gotten to that point in a book where you’ve gotten stuck?

I’m not really talking about Writer’s Block, but just to that point within the flow of the story where you know what direction you want to go, but you just can’t get there. A wall comes down and for some reason you either lose interest in the storyline or your muses are screaming for you to start something else. I’m at that point right now in a novel. As much as I try to force myself from the mental mud I have gotten myself stuck in, I can’t get out of it and keep sinking deeper into the mire. So what am I doing to get out of it?

The muses are screaming at me to start another book, well four new books to be exact. I’ve ignored them so far on three of those new novels. I have outlined the remainder of the book I am stuck on and that has helped some. But it isn’t the complete answer. The cacophony of voices in my head makes me feel like I’m drowning because I can’t muzzle the muses and the one who is talking to me on the book I’m caught on seems to be losing interest. I guess I’m still trapped and there isn’t a quick and easy way out of the situation.

I’m sure all authors get to this point.

If there are any authors out there who are just picking up their pens or keyboards, don’t get discouraged. It happens and even though I can’t find an easy way out of it, doesn’t mean you can’t.

Anyone have any ideas to muzzle the muses or get me out of the mud?


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Filed under Books, Crymsyn Hart