Thursday, September 10, 2020

Save The Girls

What started out as a character-study of Sean McGee (the main dude in all of my political crime novels) turned into a novel... Why am I not surprised? I should've known better. He and Sport always take over my narrative. They're very strong characters and often surprise me, as Sean did in this book.

I wanted to explain what in his past had turned him into this noble and protective hero. I started with his enlisting in the Marine Corp, which led to his becoming Recon. He met Randy, Dan, and Craig in Recon. Dan was introduced in Counterpart just long enough to identify his body. In Save the girls, you get to meet him. These four young men go from boot-camp to special forces with the same intensity they pursue their respective careers in Secret Service and as a private bodyguard.

Sean decides to be become a Sacramento City Policeman. He loves it. He loves his training officer, Warrick. Remember that name? Janet Warrick--aka Sport... the woman who starts the series in Counterpart? This is her father.

Sean comes across the his first organized crime in his city--but the criminal lives outside of his jurisdiction. A prostitution ring run by a Russian named Boris. Sean doesn't like it. Boris can easily leave the city limits to the sprawling Greater Sacramento area and Sean can't follow. You all know Sean well enough to know that's not going to work for him. So he meets a guy named Becker (I won't spoil it for you if you haven't read Counterpart, but this is where he meets Sean).

Sean joins the CIA. No more city limits. He goes after Boris by stealing a prostitute. Boris is pissed. Sean is giddy with joy. He steals another one, this time a teen named Jazzy who looks just like the girl on the cover. Now Sean's obsession begins to shift from destroying Boris to saving the girls.

For paperback I'll send you over to Amazon.

Ebooks are available for any reader anywhere. An easy way to get it is through Smashwords.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Piratessa makes Quarterfinalist

I entered the highly competitive screenplay contest put on by TSL. Part of the reason for its popularity is that it's free. I enter contests all the time for both my screenplays. I do it for two reasons; First is it's a means of getting a producer or agent for a nobody like me. Secondly is the feedback, which I usually pay for. Especially in the beginning, this was critical to determine if I had what it takes as a writer to venture into this field. Just because about half the people who read my novels think they should be made into movies, doesn't mean I'm good at writing a screenplay.

So, you can imagine my excitement to have advanced to the quarterfinalist! Here's my email from them:

Good news: your script, Piratessa, is advancing to the Quarterfinalist round of the TSL Free Screenplay Contest. Out of over 13,000 submissions, your script was among the top 1,000! Congratulations!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Susan Miura Book Review

Shards of Light by Susan Miura
Review by H. Schussman

Reader’s POV:
Miura pulls the reader through two young ladies’ lives… exciting adventure and heartbreaking tragedy. Each must learn from their situations.
Shilo has inherited her great-grandmother’s gift of healing. This gift is fragile and powerful. Shilo has to learn when to use it and how to make sure she gives credit where credit is due—God. Her time in Sicily is an opportunity to learn from Nonna Marie and to become embroiled in yet another life and death adventure.
Back home, Melody watches her most cherished dreams as a ballerina crash about her damaged body. Her struggle from anger and self pity to acceptance and new dreams is both painful and encouraging to read. Amidst this is her desire to learn who her biological mother is without hurting her sweet real mother.
Best friends, Shilo and Melody grow in maturity, faith, and womanhood. They both learn what true romance is with their respective boyfriends.

Writers POV:
This is a fast read… a page turner. The language of the young adults is modern and relevant, yet the writing is clean and almost poetic at times. Miura masterfully describes the scenery, action, and emotional angst. Here’s some random favorites:

*  “Can I go with you?” His [a little boy] hope-filled eyes stare as though a blink might ruin the possibility of a “yes.”
*  The green, earthy scent of rain-washed garden mixes with lemonade air.
*  My eyes remain closed. I refuse to acknowledge her perky existence.

At first I struggled with the changing POV between Shilo and Melody, but Miura clearly marked the shifts and I soon adapted. It’s especially tricky because Miura writes in first person for both characters. And present tense. It’s not an easy writing style, but she carries it off well.
Great mix of long and short sentences, with a few illegal ones thrown in for good measure. Well done and enjoyable young adult novel.

I received this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

EBook, Paperback, Book Cover Questions

How do you publish to so many eBook sites? How did you make your book into a paperback? How do you design a book cover? (I've answered the book cover question in more detail on a previous blog post) I've been asked this by so many people, I don't know who to attribute the question to :)
There’s basically two ways to get your book fully distributed. You can either go to each and every eBook website and download your document file to their library, or just download the document to I’m not getting paid by them to write this, but seriously Smashwords is by far the most comprehensive approach. That’s not to say it’s easy. The document must be prepared per their standards… stripped completely clean of any possible corruption. Fortunately, a step-by-step book is free at their website to ensure you can do it properly. Smashwords then takes your perfectly formatted Microsoft Word 97-2003 ‘doc’ (not docx) and formats it for all e-reader devices (each device is different). Believe it or not this is a free service up front. As the sales come in, then they get a portion of the profit. I tried a Fiverr formatter but the guy couldn’t do it right and I ended up doing it myself. Don’t be suckered into their re-assurances that they can do it. Make sure they can, and tell them you won’t pay them if Smashwords doesn’t place you in the premium catalogue.
I’m going to say it again because it’s that important. Follow the Smashwords guidelines exactly. It will probably take you a couple of days. BUT, if you do it right, you will be in their premium catalogue with maximum distribution.

There is only one place who doesn’t accept Smashwords. Can you guess who? Yep, Amazon! When you complete your work at Smashwords, you have to go over to Amazon and follow their instructions. Another couple of days to figure it out. But while you are at Amazon, check out the paperback option at KDP. You have to go to “Author Central” to publish paperback. The great news is they also don’t charge you for the process (which is good because you’re the one doing all the work). They will pay you a percentage. You can choose your price and it calculates your royalty. In the old days, when you had a book made into paperback, you had to purchase cases of books and pile them up in the spare room. Now it’s print on demand. When someone buys your book on Amazon, KDP prints it and then ships it directly to the reader.
Now let’s back up to the question of how to make a book cover. This actually needs to be done before you publish on any site. The easiest way is to go to Fiverr and choose from the hundreds of designers. It’s super cheap (less than $50 usually). At that point bundle your needs for eBook cover, paperback cover, and audio book cover. When you get your cover back you can then publish at Smashwords, Amazon eBook and Amazon paperback.
In my next post I’ll discuss how I got an audio book made…

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Guest Post: K. Bartow

Jim Foster (narrator for Audible) asked, "What drew you to writing? What did you hope to accomplish?"

K. Bartow helped me out by answering this question. Thanks Karina for taking the time to give such a thoughtful and inspiring answer.

Like most children, I skipped around from one idea to another with regard to what I wanted to be when I grew up. I went through the usual choices—ballerina, teacher, and carpenter, my dad’s occupation. As I matured, though, I realized my having Cerebral Palsy would impede my success in all of those fields and many others.

When I was nine, my mom took me to meet a children’s book author at our local library. I listened to her speak and could sense her passion for it, sparking something in me. In the days that followed, I pondered it further and discovered I could do that. I was already a gifted student, especially in English class, and even with only one usable hand, I knew I’d make it happen. 

Once again, however, age made me reconsider my aspirations. As I neared adulthood, I resisted doing something “just because” it was almost the only job I could physically do. I didn’t commit to it upon graduating high school, wanting to investigate other options. In the end, my creativity plagued me and pushed me to put the pen to paper—or nowadays, the keyboard to the word processor.

I didn’t have true objectives starting out, other than having a career and being allowed to use my active imagination every day. Sure, I wanted to create works that publishers and readers alike would enjoy, but that concept eluded me for quite a while. Overall, I guess my main goal was to get to know myself and any talent I may have.

Once I began, I saw everything the craft could give me. I could create a whole world and take charge of every twist and turn and outcome, without there being rights or wrongs. I could use the experiences that had hurt me and state the way they affected me or how I wished I could’ve handled them. Regardless of whether anybody would ever read my words or not, it was a therapeutic release and gave me a freedom I had never known before.

Thus, what started as a sort of “career of convenience” has become a lifestyle I truly cherish.
To connect with Karina visit her at:


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Space Adventure

This adventure began early this morning. We were picked up by a beautiful compact limousine and whisked off to go get Clay Boyce. You may have heard me talk about my newest endeavor… writing a biography? Well Clay Boyce is the subject of that biography. We met him a couple of years ago and were immediately charmed by this guy. It didn’t take me more than ten minutes to realize his story needed to be told. Trust me, as a rocket scientist from the Apollo era, there’s a lot of stories.
We agreed to meet every Tuesday to put his incredible life in writing. I chose to organize the biography in a storytelling format. The reader will join us at the kitchen table and experience his journey in his own words and my response in mine. We’re going on two years now, and he’s going on ninety. Recently he admitted that his Houston days were probably coming to an end. He was debating whether or not he should go to the RNASA black-tie gala for the last time. With the recent loss of his best friend and wife, he would have to go alone. Naturally, being little Miss Adventure herself, I volunteered to go with him. Joe volunteered to carry the bags.
So here we are on a working vacation. The culmination of all the stories Clay’s tried to explain to me about what it was like to be Aerojet’s Chief Engineer on the Apollo Program. We will tour the Space Center, go to old haunts, have dinner with old friends, and party with astronauts (they won’t notice us, but we’ll be there!).
For now we’re enjoying the experience of traveling on Clay’s coat-tails. He uses a wheelchair at the airport, so Joe and I follow him as he’s taken to the front of every line. 
Because he’s a very, very frequent flyer, he gets all the special treatment like pre-boarding and extended leg room… sweet! We also get free booze during the flight, which doesn’t do us any good on a morning flight, but it’s a nice thought.
So, this blog series is a space adventure and it’s mostly about Clay :)