Friday, May 16, 2014

FNN Report: Bermuda!

FNN Report: Travel Reporter Goes To Bermuda On The New NCL Breakaway

FNN travel reporter, Gina Vagabond, recently cruised to Bermuda on the brand new NCL Breakaway that sailed from New York City. She filed this report about her voyage.

What an exciting week! This new ship is gorgeous and filled with activities, great restaurants and tiny staterooms. All in all, the week I spent onboard was the most exciting in my life and the excitement had nothing to do with the ship.

Here is my daily account of the cruise.

Day 1: The ship was escorted out of the New York City harbor by a Fire Department fireboat shooting streams of water in the air from its water cannons. At one point a cannon became mis-aimed and hosed down the passengers lining the side of the ship to watch the water display and wave at the fireboat crew. No serious injuries were reported but there were many angry, wet passengers who promised to contact lawyers as soon as the ship returned to NYC.

Day 2: Somewhere in the North Atlantic Ocean, we were attacked by a decrepit WWII German U-boat. The U-boat's ancient captain order the Breakaway to stop engines so the U-boat's crew could board the vessel. The Breakaway's valiant passengers defended the Breakaway by hurling beer bottles (empty) at the U-boat as we easily sped away from the submarine.

Day 3: Still in the Atlantic Ocean, the ship had to detour three times to rescue survivors from separate yachts that mysteriously sank in the Bermuda Triangle. The survivors told tales of horror floating in water surrounded by rabid schools of minnows.

Day 4: Bermuda. During the afternoon of our first day in port, the ship was assaulted by the notorious Towel Pirates. They swarmed around the ship in motorized dinghies, rappelled up the side of the ship, stole beach towels drying on balconies and made their getaway with hundreds of damp towels.

Day 5: Bermuda: The local motorbike association hosted a competition between the Breakaway passengers and a second ship docked at the same port. Both ships tied up alongside a concrete dock hundreds of yards long. A dozen passengers from each ship lined up at one end of the dock and raced two at a time down the pier in elimination trials. Many of the bikes hit sixty miles a hour midway down the course. The winner was a 82 year old woman whose bike hit a high speed of 15 MPH. She was the only biker who managed to cross the finish line and stop the bike before going off the end of the dock.

Later on, two salvage ships showed up to fish out the bikes. There was a jurisdictional dispute about salvage territories resulting in a savage gunfight. No one was wounded but the ships took multiple bullet holes in the hull and both sank. Breakaway security later apprehended and ticketed the winner for drunk driving in her motorized wheelchair. She claimed she had drunk a magnum of champaign from her loving cup trophy. The woman was accused of injuring fifteen passengers by running over their toes.

Day 6: Bermuda: In a well-established Bermudian tradition, inebriated, kilt-wearing bagpipers serenaded the ship as it left Bermuda. After that, they marched lemming-style into the sea where a waiting trawler scooped them up in its nets to prevent loss of life.

Day 7: In the North Atlantic: Seal Team Six in a practice exercise, attack the ship and commandeered it. After forcing the ship to sail in circles for several hours, the Seals jumped overboard and disappeared.

Day 8: Our arrival back into New York was delayed by a massive traffic jam in the Lower Harbor near the Statue of Liberty. The rush-hour pile up involved a Staten Island Ferry, two tug boats, seven garbage scows (full), two freight barges, a multi-million dollar yacht, a Coast Guard cutter and four rowboats. It took hours to pluck the crews from the water and clear the wreckage.

All in all, I experienced a most unforgettable week. Oh, and the cruise was pretty cool too.

Hank Quense is the author of 50 published short stories along with four novels and three collections of stories. All of these are humorous and/or satiric scifi and fantasy. In the non-fiction area, he has over a dozen articles published on fiction writing and he's the author of the Fiction Writing Guides series and the Self-publishing Guides series. Both series consist of a number of ebooks. The Fiction Writing Guides and the Self-Publishing Guides are an outgrowth of his lectures on both subjects.

Strange Worlds Online
Hank's Amazon Page
Hank's Blog Page
Self-publishing Guides

Monday, May 12, 2014

Writer's Process Blog Tour

Nicholas C. Rossis, author of the epic fantasy series Pearseus, invited me to participate in a project with global reach, The Writer’s Process Blog Tour.

Nicholas was born in 1970 in Athens, Greece. He loves books and writes children’s books and science fiction. He has had numerous science fiction short stories published in Greek magazines and in an anthology.

Nicholas resides in Athens, where he currently lives with his wife, dog and two very silly cats. I hope you'll stop by and pay him a visit.

Last week Nicholas answered four questions about his work and process on his blog, and nominated three other writers to continue the chain. I was one of them, so it is now my turn to address my writing and introduce you to one talented writer you may not know. Sadly, by the time it came around to me, everyone I knew had already participated.

Please circulate this post on your social media, Twitter, FaceBook and so on to keep the blog tour going!

1) What am I working on?

I'm trying to finish my 2-year-old WIP titled BROKEN MAN. Just broke the 90K mark, so I'm close.

Broken Man is the return (didn't set out to do this) of FBI Agent Mike Canaday (now PI) the hero from DEAD WITNESS.

Though he doesn't show up until chapter 26 in Broken Man, Canaday leaves an indelible mark on my protagonist.

BROKEN MAN is the story of Jason Sinclair, an American expatriate in Vancouver, BC. English professor at UBC, who gives up everything to find the driver responsible for deliberately running down his wife Brigitte in Gastown.

Jason's relationship with his grown daughter Ava is in trouble, but he's too caught up in tracking his wife's killer to fix it. He hires Canaday to travel with him to the UK to follow leads that suggest something happened during Brigitte's business trip to prompt someone to travel to Canada to kill her.

Jason risks everything to find out why. His quest is the only thing keeping him sane.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I love good suspense thrillers. My favourite authors are Eric Lustbader, Tom Woods, Alexandra Sokoloff, and Lawrence Sanders; to name a few. 

What makes my work differ from these authors would have to be me.

We all have our own stories to tell. Mine seem to centre around a protagonist trying to survive a horrendous death in the family. 

I'm not a fast learner, and it probably took completing three manuscripts before I understood I write stories as a way to deal with life's tragedies.

I wrote my first unpublished manuscript Always Father's Child after my dad died. I thought writing his story would keep his memory alive. 

I wrote DEAD WITNESS while dealing with the death of our eldest son in 1991. DEAD WITNESS was published in 2008. 

BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD was edited while dealing with the death of our second oldest son (twin to the oldest) in 2006. 

I wrote OMATIWAK: Woman Who Cries after the death of my mother in 1999. Another twelve years passed before Theytus published it in 2011.

Not the approach I'd recommend. Heaven forbid.

3) Why do I write what I do?

After our eldest was killed in a car accident in 1991, I stopped writing. I thought, how frivolous: Wasting precious moments writing stupid fiction.  

Of course, 18 months later, I realized I wrote to distract myself and because I felt less lethal while writing.  There's a lot of rage associated with grieving. 

To this day I still turn the rage into fiction and push my characters into situations where their only recourse is to fight to prevail, or give up trying.

In DEAD WITNESS, Canadian Valerie McCormick defies the FBI and sets a trap for the mafia killer bent on hurting her children to stop her from testifying against him.

In BROKEN BUT NOT DEAD, UNBC English professor Brendell Meshango takes matters into her own hands and goes after the psycho stalker threatening to harm her and her daughter.

In the sequel to Broken, OMATIWAK: Woman Who Cries, Sally Warner finds the body of her husband dead on the kitchen floor. Having lost their sons the year before, Sally tires to help RCMP Corporal Danny Killian investigate her husband's death while maintaining a snippet of sanity. 

4) How does my writing process work?

Let's just say I'm not someone you'd want to emulate. On a bad day it goes something like this:

6 - 6:30 am. -- Watching the morning news.

7 am. -- Breakfast served up hot. Hubby loves to cook.

9 am. -- Chores (dishes, laundry, bed, vacuuming) finished and I'm sitting down to computer. By that time everyone is gone, cats are napping, and blind is closed so I'm not distracted by what's happening outside.

11 am. -- Finished blogroll and comments, answered email, and am now editing WIP.

12 am -- Stop to have a light lunch and visit with family. Maybe step outside to enjoy sun.

12:30 -  3 pm -- work on WIP: editing, editing, editing.

4 - 5 pm -- Attempt to write new scene. Aiming for 500 words

5 pm -- Having written 500 new words, (yeah right!) stop to prepare supper if I can't talk hubby into cooking.

9 - 10 pm -- retired for the night. 

I generally try to stay away from the computer after dinner. My husband and I watch hockey, then retired for the night. I work on the next scene while attempting to fall asleep. Especially if it's causing me problems.

6 am -- I'm back at it.


As I mentioned above I was unable to find 2 other authors who hadn't already done the tour. However, I was lucky that Carole Anne Carr was free to participate.

If you don't know Carole, boy are you in for a treat. I'm not even sure how we met. It's been several years, and I know with certainty I'm a better person for having met her. 

Carole specializes in writing Children's stories. But she's also a storyteller, illustrator, creative writing tutor, minister, actress, speaker and artist. Mentor!

(In a word: Terrific!)

Carole has worked in a bank in Central Africa, has been a teacher, held the Office of Reader in the Church of England, been a professional actress, and sold her papier-mâché sculptures into Europe. She now works as a poet and writer of children’s exciting adventure stories that are historically accurate and are used by teachers in schools, and in universities, in many parts of the world.

Having had a bit of a rough time later, Carole is now back to writing. She's currently working on RIVER DARK. After it's published, she's planning on a sequel to FIRST WOLF, followed by the sequel to THIN TIME

You can find out more about Carole on her webpage

Carole lives in England with her dear husband.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

IWSG: Ask PZM May 2014

It's that wonderful time again, the time for Insecure Writer's Support Group day, compliments of our very own fierce and noble Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. If you think this group sounds like a good place for you and you'd like to join, click here.

It's a simple process:

"Post your thoughts on your own blog. Talk about your doubts and the fears you have conquered. Discuss your struggles and triumphs. Offer a word of encouragement for others who are struggling. Visit others in the group and connect with your fellow writer - aim for a dozen new people each time. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post."

Our Twitter Hashtag is #IWSG

Alex's other awesome co-hosts for today are Elsie, Mark Koopmans, and Lisa Buie-Collard! Please stop by and thank them for their generous time and effort.

Please help us spread the word about the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Website. And if you don't already know we have a IWSG Facebook site too.

IWSG Facebook Guidelines:

1. Since the focus of IWSG is support, the Facebook page should reflect this ideal.

2. You are encouraged to support your fellow IWSG'ers who share their writerly-related experiences, which include accomplishments/disappointments/challenges, with the rest of the group. Keep in mind that writers are at different points of their respective writerly journeys. Some lurk for a long time, before finding the courage to share with the rest of the group. Since the IWSG is all about community, a word of encouragement or advice may be just what somebody needs. Or even just a smiley face/thumbs up...

3. News & Promotional Saturday is your opportunity to add a link. The IWSG administrators reserve the right to remove promotional links, especially if they are posted haphazardly.

ASK PZM - MAY 2014

Q. Any new changes on social media that are good for authors?

The one change that I think is particularly good for authors is Twitter’s new profile image header option. Basically, this new large-scale image is similar to the image header on Facebook and Google+.

For this new Twitter option I have used an image featuring some of my book covers (as I have on Facebook and Google+). Check out this new option at

And if you are not yet on Twitter, this is a good time to join!

Side note: I actually think this new layout does not work as well for checking out people’s Twitter bios and tweets. But that’s another topic.

Q. Any other tidbits of information?


I’ve often mentioned Wattpad here (and here is a post on my author site about some Wattpad changes –

Recently a Wattpad contest submission period ended. I only knew about the contest because, as an author on Wattpad, I was sent a notice about the contest.

The contest rules allowed each author to submit up to three entries. I quickly removed my screwball romantic comedy novella HOT POTATO from KDP Select and added this novella to Wattpad so I could submit the story as one of my three entries.

Then I added two other of my short stories that, while also available via Kindle, are not on KDP Select: the PTSD short story SOLOMON’S JUSTICE and the YA short story PINKY SWEAR.

This kind of flexibility – that of owning the rights to one’s work – allows us indie authors to take advantage of new opportunities. And we should definitely be on the lookout for such opportunities.

(See the stories I currently have on Wattpad at

Innovative author blog tour:

Prolific author Helen Page asked me to participate in an innovative author blog tour. I said yes and then at first had a hard time finding three other authors with blogs who wanted to take part.

Luckily I was reminded about the LinkedIn book marketing group that I started (and last September turned over the admin of this group). I posted an announcement there and quickly got two very interesting authors.

Here’s the link to the blog post I wrote as part of this tour:

And perhaps this innovative marketing strategy will inspire you to undertake a similar effort.

Q: What about the case of disappearing reviews on Amazon?

This is a serious issue that, as often with big sites such as Amazon, is cloaked in published rules and unpublished actions.

I know from experience that an author friend of mine is blocked from writing a review for any of my books on Amazon even though we have NO financial arrangement with each other and she only wants to do so when she really enjoys one of my books.

Apparently Amazon mistrusts that authors who are friends (and how does Amazon know this?) can actually want to read each other’s books, and if these authors like the books, contribute reviews about those books!

I also know anecdotal information about older reviews being taken down for what appears to be unclear reasons.

Thus the blog post “Authors’ New Amazon Headache” by Sarah Pinneo about authors using Amazon gift cards to give out books is very interesting.

Disclaimer: I cannot be assured that everything in the post is accurate due to the secrecy cloaking Amazon’s relationship with its authors.

That said, here is the link to this informative blog post – decide for yourself what you think of the information:

TWEET #1 - New changes on social media that are good for authors (click to tweet)

TWEET #2 - Newest changes on Wattpad (click to tweet)

TWEET #3 - The case of disappearing reviews on Amazon (click to tweet)

Phyllis Zimbler Miller on Twitter is at and she is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. Her fiction books on Amazon can be found at and her nonfiction books at

She is also a digital marketer who blogs on book topics at and you can download a free copy of her YA short story PINKY SWEAR at

Joylene's afterthought:

I was so caught up in finishing my WIP (just broke 90K words) and preparing for the release of BREAK TIME I forgot to host an ice-breaking contest. If you're new, it's a contest where everyone guesses when the ice is going off Cluculz lake. If we're still here next year, I'll try to remember.

Oh yeah, it left May 2nd.

photographed by Joylene Butler
April 26, 2014

May 2, 2014

May 5, 2014