Friday, May 27

Weekly Wrap Up

I hope everyone is having a Happy Friday! And an awesome Memorial Day weekend (or a great weekend period for those not in the US)!

This week hasn't quite been as productive as last week. I finished reading Storm Front by Jim Butcher... wow! I loved it! I've also begun editing the novel I'll be pitching at RWA's National conference, so I don't have any word count progress.

Yeah, I'm kind of all over right now. haha There's just so many things I'd like to work on! But I think I've figured out what I'll be tackling this upcoming week.

Interesting Links:
Have any interesting links you've found? Let me know! How have you progressed through this week?

Wednesday, May 25

Into the Paranormal: Sea Monk

So, as I browsed the list of creatures today, I came across an interesting one I hadn't heard of before, a Sea Monk, which sometimes goes by the name of monk-fish. It was named in 1545 to the fish off the coast of Denmark's Zealand island. The creature got its name by looking like a monk, as you can see from the picture.

It was featured in Conrad Gesner's fourth volume of Historia Animalium, a renaissance zoology book. Gesner, who was a doctor and professor, had previous experience with a similar sea creature in 1531 off the coast of Poland.

The sea monk was made well known in the epic poem La Sepmaine; ou, Creation du monde by Guillaume du Bartas. The poem reflects the belief that everything on land has something that corresponds in the sea.

In the 1850s, Japetus Steenstrup, a Danish zoologist, came up with the idea that the sea monk was actually a giant squid, which lined up next to one another look similarly shaped. Others believed it could be a walrus, grey seal, hooded seal, monk seal, or even a hoax. Although, there's one more possibility, which came about more recently. Some believe it could be an angel shark due to the fact that it's typically called a monkfish or, in Norway, munk.

What's your take on the Sea Monk? Have you heard about it before?

Tuesday, May 24

Guest Author Gabriella Hewitt

Striking Gold With Research

Long ago and far away, my writing partner and I came up with an idea. A mere spark in the dark, if you will, about a detective and an Aztec myth. It was to be submitted for an anthology. We knew next to nothing about Aztecs, only a little bit garnered here and there. So I went to the library and pulled the only book they had, a huge text with beautiful pictures and fascinating stories of gods, rituals, prophecies, timelines, death and
destruction. I mean it had it all. I was riveted and read it every night to the point I was quaking in my boots about the end of the world and the vengeance of gods seeking to annihilate humans. It was crazy. I emailed my partner and let her know that we were so writing this story. Thus was born the Shadow Warriors. We outlined the story and wrote it. The editor liked it, but passed.

We shelved it. Never even considered going back to it.

A few years later and everyone is abuzz about the 2012 prophecy. We got excited except our story is about Aztecs, not the Mayans. We bit our nails and considered if trying to revamp the story would be worth our time. We took the risk because what is life without risk? We read it over and realized we have grown as authors and the story as we originally wrote it no longer held appeal to us. We overhauled it completely. 100 pages straight into the garbage. “What a waste!” you may say, but we didn't. We now knew what we wanted
from the story and what we didn't. We knew that we wanted to make the gods bigger, scarier, and more deadly. We wanted to build a world and mythos that could rival the Aztec warriors themselves and come out the victor.

So we went back to the drawing board and dug deeper, went further, excavated the bowels of the Internet and libraries to find legends, folklore, myths of the Aztecs. What we unearthed had us shaking with excitement. These gods were complex, sometimes even blending with other gods, and their range crossed vast sections of the Americas, from Nevada to Texas to Mexico to Peru. We were astonished by what the Aztecs created and how far their reach extended. What truly made us happy and in some ways humbled us
was the fact that Aztec ways are still celebrated and the culture somewhat remains. Aztecs developed an entire language, which is rare, but there is growing support to bring back the Nahautl language and the culture.

We did create a new myth of the Shadow Warriors, brave men who died in battle and recruited by the sun god to save humanity to earn back their own humanity. These men were given animal spirits as companions until the day they could find their spirit mate—the other half of their soul—before their animal spirit devours them. Still we took much of the fantasy from actual folklore and history. Aztec soldiers wore the skins and feathers of animals after which they modeled their fighting style and ferocity: jaguars, eagles, and coyotes (wolves).

Doing the research is hard work, but it is exciting, wondrous and rewarding. We love getting lost in the lore and there’s nothing like that Eureka! moment when we know we’ve hit gold.

Here are some links to learn more about the Aztecs.
Aztec Civilization:
Aztec History:

About the author:

Gabriella Hewitt is the pen name of creative writing talents Sasha Tomaszycki and Patrizia M.J. Hayashi. Together they weave tales of romantic suspense and dangerously sensual paranormals. Check out the website to find out about upcoming releases and events on their blog.

Available Now

DARK WATERS © Samhain Publishing

Available Now

A predator stalks paradise and she’s next

On a tropical isle, Frankie Montalvo discovers roots to a past she never knew. Tales of witchcraft, missing girls and el chupacabra surround her, but it will take more than superstitions to scare her away. Determined to create her own home, she enlists the help of an enigmatic beach bum.

She doesn’t want to fall for a drifter who will probably break her heart and move on, but when both she and her home are attacked, it’s in Rico’s arms that she finds safety and protection. All she’s ever wanted was to settle down and live life on her own terms, but someone has other plans and Frankie must decide—is Rico her lover or her enemy?

Special Agent Rico Lopez has been to the depths of hell and back. He returns to his native island of Vieques to forget an ICE mission gone wrong only to find himself caught up in the search for a neighbor’s daughter—a victim of the legendary el chupacabra. Paradise has a predator and all leads point to a dilapidated old plantation and its sexy as sin owner. Lying to Frankie is the only way to do his job, but is he protecting her or himself?

As the net around them tightens and their lives are put on the line, he’ll learn the greatest danger he’s ever faced is the risk of losing his heart.

Monday, May 23

Word or Page Count -- How Do You Keep Track?

Ugh! I'm sorry this blog post is late. I've been on a reading and relaxing binge after I sent off my edits, so blogging apparently slipped my mind. lol

Whenever you go to a publisher's submission pages, you see their guidelines in what the publisher is looking for. These almost always include word counts, and if you submit a story not within the certain word count, chances are great that they'll reject it. This alone could make one stare at the word count meter on their word processor, but after a dose of National Novel Writing Month, the problem can lead to word count obsession.

But then, there are authors who go strictly by page count. Some focus more on that than word count, and they're probably just as bad about having desires to reach their goals.

Someone else I knew said they write the story and then submit it based on the length it happens to turn out at. But is that realistic? How about after you've already gotten a book published, and you're writing the sequel? I don't think it's that easy, especially if one is looking to get a novel published. I have to have a goal in front of me to reach for.

How do you handle juggling a good story and fitting it into the word count requirements for submission guidelines? Do you think writers should write the story and submit based on the length it happens to be? I look forward to your thoughts!

Friday, May 20

Weekly Wrap Up + Another Award!

funny pictures - To remove writer's blockHappy Friday everyone! It's that time again for a Weekly Wrap Up. I hope everyone has had an awesome, productive week. The kitty has advice for anyone who might not have been so fortunate.

As for me, I've been putting my Work-In-Progress on hold for now while I do... ta-da... edits, which I'm very near completion on!

Here's my current progress for the WIP, in case you're curious.

7015 / 25000 words

Interesting Link:
Have any interesting links you've found? Let me know! How have you progressed through this week?

And now onto the award! Thank you very much, Inger (Canyon Girl)! I'm honored that you chose me for this. =)

So, for this, I have to tell five things about myself.

  1. I really enjoy learning more about the craft of writing.
  2. I keep alternating between being giddy with excitement and nervous about my upcoming release, Techno Crazed.
  3. I've most recently been switching between playing The Sims 3 and The Sims Medieval when I need to relax or have some fun. 
  4. I've been listening to a lot of trance music on Pandora Radio while writing and editing.
  5. I'm very happy, excited, and grateful for all of the great things that have happened so far this year and the things still to come.
I'm passing the award to:
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! See you on Monday!

Wednesday, May 18


Hi everyone! I'm hastily working on edits this week, so today's Into The Paranormal post will be me rambling some on a topic instead of packed with in depth research. haha

So, reincarnation... Here is Wikipedia's definition of it:
Reincarnation is believed to occur when the soul or spirit, after the death of the body, comes back to life in a newborn body. However, once born in a new body, things from a person's previous life are forgotten. This doctrine is a central tenet within the majority of Indian religious traditions, such as Hinduism, Jainism, and Sikhism; the Buddhist concept of rebirth is also often referred to as reincarnation.
I've seen movies, TV shows, and read novels dealing with it, but I haven't really studied it much. I saw an episode of Blood Ties once about a guy and a woman that had so many lifetimes together, and in each life, they would find each other by going back to a certain tree. In the current life, she was older than him and had gotten married, but he insisted on them being together to the point where he tried to mess up her marriage. It was romantic at first, but then it turned into downright creepy.

I think I prefer the concept of living my life and then my soul moving on to the afterlife. This world can be challenging enough without the thought of living in it several more times! *grins* Besides, if people did reincarnate why would there be such thing as ghosts and spirits trapped here on earth? They would go on to their next life instead right?

Hmm... Never say never...

Interesting Tidbits:
  • Reincarnation from the Latin word means "entering the flesh again."
  • Reincarnation exists in Norse mythology in the Poetic Edda. The poem, Helgakviða Hjörvarðssonar, tells the story of Helgi Hjörvarðsson's love with the valkyrie, Sváfa. They reincarnate twice once as Helgi Hundingsbane and the valkyrie Sigrún and again as Helgi Haddingjaskati and the valkyrie Kára.
What do you think about reincarnation? Do you believe in it, or are you skeptical?

Monday, May 16

What Happens in a Pitch Session?

Recently, my friend Darcy Drake asked on Twitter about what happens during a pitch. There are a ton of articles on crafting your perfect pitch, but if you've never been through it, it can be pretty darn intimidating. I know it was for me. But the results can be awesome! I tied for the win in Changeling Press's Shamrock Challenge after a chat room pitch session during Savvy Authors's DigiCon. Now two of my novellas (a cyberpunk and a paranormal romance) are contracted.

There are pretty much three different kinds of pitching opportunities. One is a face to face with an editor or agent, usually at a conference or retreat. There are also chat room pitch sessions, which mirrors face to face, except you're in a chat room in the comfort of your own home. The third kind is blog pitching, which you post a three-line pitch for. Savvy Authors has several of these coming up this year.

Anyways, the types I'll be talking about are face to face and chat rooms. They each have pros and cons. With face-to-face, you can see the other person's reaction to what you're saying, but it's easier to get freaked out and scatterbrained too. With chat rooms, you can pitch in your pajamas and not be sitting in front of the editor or agent, but it’s harder to tell what they’re thinking during the process because you can’t see their faces.

Now for the process as I've experienced it. You wait for your turn, try to calm your nerves, and hope that it goes well. Then you're off and greeting the agent/editor. With both types of pitching, I usually start by saying, “Hello, my name is Sarah Mäkelä…” and jump straight into it.

After you give your pitch, the editor/agent will, most of the time, ask questions. Although, you might get an editor who says at that they don’t think it'd be a good fit for them. And that is why it's good to have a second story ready when pitching. When that happened to me, I pulled out a pitch for another story since it’d only taken about 3-4 minutes for my first pitch and for the editor to tell me they didn't have much of a market for my story. She ended up requesting the second one though!

But I digress... The questions. Be prepared! I received a question during one of my first pitches where the agent asked what the climax of the story was. I sat there and scratched my head, not remembering what it was or what to say. haha Not good... I got a request for a synopsis from that, but it’s not a good feeling to flub. Other times, there have been questions that made me ponder the answer because it was something beyond what I’d really thought of, but I answered without a lot of trouble. They will let you sit there for a few moments and gather your thoughts. There’s no need to feel like freaking out. All of the people I’ve pitched to have been very nice and if you do get stuck on something, they might try to help out and gently prompt you.

The ones I’ve done have been about 10 minutes long, so you have a decent amount of time, but it usually flies by. At the end, a moderator (both in person and in chat rooms) might pop in to make sure you don’t go over the time limit. At that point, start wrapping things up, maybe exchange business cards and/or copy down information if requests were made. Leave the pitch feeling either super excited, mildly enthused, or disappointed.

Have you ever been in a pitch session? Was it face to face or via a chat room? Any tips you'd like to share?

Friday, May 13

Weekly Wrap Up + Friday the 13th

memes - Cool Cat: Seven Years of Good Luck
In Friday the 13th style, the day has been a little weird... already. Blogger is not playing well, so I've resorted to mobile blogging. Something I had wanted to try, but never had a reason to. Haha. So, I hope everyone has a great Friday the 13th. I know I'll have plenty of black cat action since I own one. =)

Anyways, this week's stats... I'm at 4,264 / 25,000 words on my current WIP. I missed writing on Wednesday, but that's it, which I'm pretty proud of.

Interesting Link:

So, how is your Friday going? What's your weekly progress been? Any links to share? Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 11

Werewolves, My Favorite Paranormal Creature

Yet another Into the Paranormal Wednesday! I decided to do a fun post today.

Photo by Daniel Mott
So, what is my favorite paranormal creature? That's an easy one! It's got to be werewolves. I've had a strong love of wolves for a very long time, ever since I was a child. The possibility of a person being able to change into a wolf utterly fascinates me.

Mind you, I imagine werewolves not as the ugly creatures depicted in some movies, but more a lot more wolflike. Sure! They probably have a half-man/half-wolf form, but I still like to think of them as being relatively attractive in that form as well. Large and very muscular, but not gruesome.

My love for them as continued to grow since I first started reading paranormal romance and urban fantasy. One of my favorite authors who I think writes excellent werewolves is Laurell K. Hamilton. For me, she really sums up how I picture them. Ilona Andrews is another author that really masters shapeshifters in my opinion.

Your turn! What is your favorite paranormal creature? And who are some of your favorite authors that you feel sum up the being really well?

Tuesday, May 10

Guest Author Lisa Kessler

Hi everyone –

Thank you to Sarah for inviting me to blog today!

I met Sarah a few months ago when we formed an online critique group. There are four of us on our “Almost Fabulous” crit crew, and since we created the group all of us have been contracted or published! YAY!

Our group has been supportive and informative about everything from self-publishing, marketing, pitching, and even what it’s like working with an editor to hone a book.

But now that we’re contracted, do we still need a critique group?

My answer is yes.

Even though we’ve sold a book or a series, we will still be writing new material, and the group we’ve got has eagle eyes lemme tell ya! LOL

For example, my new self-published release, Across the Veil

It’s only 26 pages long. It was too long to submit for most short story anthologies, and too short for most ePub novellas. But it was a good story.

I wanted to send it into the world.

I decided to release it myself as an eBook, but before formatting and uploading it, I ran it through our critique group. I’m so glad I did! Even though I had edited the story numerous times, my group found a few things I missed that really cleaned up the book. I’m grateful to every one of them! :-)

With self-publishing becoming a more common practice, I think critique groups grow in importance. As a reader, there is nothing worse than paying for a poorly edited book. It’s frustrating. Didn’t the author care enough to correct typos and be sure they tied up all the loose plot lines in their story?

A great critique group can save you from putting out work that’s not quite ready yet. After I’ve edited a story a few times, I stop noticing missing words, etc. It’s frustrating! You need a fresh pair of eyes that you trust to tell you if a character isn’t working, or their motivations seem a little off.

I’d rather have my critique group find weaknesses instead of a reviewer, right?

So with every good review I see for Across the Veil, I feel like hugging my critique group for helping me polish it until it shined.

If you’re thinking about self-publishing or even if you’re under contract for a book, a good critique group is one of the best tools you can add to your writer’s tool kit.

Thank you to Sarah and the rest of our Almost Fabulous crew for all the feedback! And I hope we can keep helping each other on the path to being full-time writers… :-)

What about you? Do you have a critique group? Are you looking for one?

Where to find Lisa on the Web:
Across the Veil - Available now!

Monday, May 9

Experimenting with Genres

Okay, so it's kind of a given, and it's good to do in all aspects of life. How does skydiving sound? How about taking a pottery class? Having hobbies and exploring things you haven't tried before can bring new excitement and happiness. How does this relate to writing?

Well, I recently delved into the genre of cyberpunk romance. It's new for me, and something I've been wanting to try for a while. In January, I jumped right in and loved it. Last November for National Novel Writing Month, I tried my hand at writing post-apocalyptic paranormal romance. I've done paranormal romance, but the post-apoc part made it feel like such an experiment. That novel was lots of fun to write too. It gave me a chance to try something new and exciting.

Of course, I've heard that people should stick with one genre and go-go-go. Practice your craft and hone your skills. I agree. I've completed 2.5 urban fantasy novels, 4 paranormal romances (and 1 novella), a sweet contemporary, and a cyberpunk romance novella. I can definitely say that sweet contemporary isn't my best genre, or one I'd likely retry in the future. I've gained enough experience with urban fantasy and paranormal romance to know that I love it, but it's good to try new things, especially if you're starting to feel blah.

Maybe you'll find a new favorite genre, or maybe you'll be able to say you've tried it and it's not for you. People shouldn't go chasing the newest trend, but who knows? There's always something to learn, and maybe you and the genre will just click.

So have you tried a new genre or different kind of project that has really excited you recently? Are you planning on it?

Friday, May 6

Weekly Wrap Up + Awards!

This has been quite a week! Wrapped up the A to Z Challenge last Saturday, which was so much fun! I really enjoyed meeting everyone. And then I found out that two of my novellas have been contracted with the winner of the Shamrock Challenge being released in June. Wow! I've definitely been pinching myself.

No progress meter to share this week. I'll get back to that within the next couple of weeks.

Interesting Links:

Have any interesting links you've found? Let me know! How have you progressed through this week?

Thanks for the Versatile Blogger Award, C R Ward!

This award requires that you
1. Link back to the awarder (which I’ve done above)
2. Share 7 things about yourself.
3. Award this to 10-15 newly discovered bloggers
4. Tell said bloggers they have an award waiting.

My Seven Things:
1. I adore cats. They're so awesome.
2. I'm also a huge fan of Finland, that country between Sweden and Russia. =P I've visited there 3 times now.
3. I much prefer the cold to heat. With that in mind, Winter is my favorite season.
4. I almost got an English/History double major in college, but I decided that I wanted to graduate sooner than later.
5. I love music. Trance, Rock, and Symphonic Goth Metal are some of my favorites, but I listen to all kinds.
6. I'm not really a morning person. I prefer staying up late at night.
7. I love gaming. PC games, console games, board games, and, heck, card games too! I love to play.

My list of people are:
Kinley Baker
Claire Goverts
Elizabeth Twist
Canyon Girl
Gabriella Hewitt
Mara Nash
K.C. Woolf
Erin Kane Spock
J.L. Campbell
Charmaine Clancy

Wednesday, May 4

Into the Paranormal: Bigfoot

So, we talked about the Yeti not long ago. Today we'll be discussing his North American counterpart today, the Bigfoot. Typically described as being very tall (between seven and ten feet), having a powerful build, bipedal, and covered in dark red fur, he also has big feet. Surprising, right? According to, "the enormous footprints for which it is named have been as large as 24 inches (60 cm) long and 8 inches (20 cm) wide."

He's mainly spotted in the Pacific Northwest, but there have been supposed sightings across the country. Even as far away as Texas and Florida. He resides in forests.

Members of the Lummi tribe told about experiences with "Ts'emekwes," their version of Bigfoot. Another version is the stiyaha, which were nocturnal creatures that children were warned to not speak its name for fear of the monsters coming to drag someone away to kill them. And even another version from Native Americans residing in Spokane, Washington is that the creatures lived on the peaks of mountains and stole salmon from the fishing nets.

Interesting Tidbits:
  • He's also known as Sasquatch, which is derived from "Sésquac" meaning "wild man" in a Salishan (Native American) language from the Pacific Northwest. 
  • Some believe that a story in Theodore Roosevelt's 1892 book The Wilderness Hunter that tells of an event between a couple of hunters and a pissed-off bear could actually be historical evidence of Bigfoot's existence.
  • Most believe that Bigfoot encounters are either misidentification of mangy bears or hoaxes. Some think that the Bigfoot could be an extinct Gigantopithecus (giant ape) or an extinct hominidae (also an ape). Still Bigfoot believers are positive that he's out there.
What do you think? Is Bigfoot real? Give me your thoughts on the subject. Have you seen a movie or read a book with him in it?

Tuesday, May 3

The Graveyard Wedding

Feel free to comment to let me know what you think!

The Graveyard Wedding was published in Fall Issue by Runes Online Magazine. October '05.

The Graveyard Wedding
by Sarah Mäkelä

Walking through the graveyard one night, I came across a wedding procession. All I wanted to do was just visit my deceased mother. What was going on?

It disturbed me, but I couldn't look away. The moon shone brightly illuminating the event. Only a dozen people were in attendance. It seemed small and quaint. I ducked behind a headstone making sure to keep quiet so I would remain unnoticed.

An immaculate oak table stood behind the wedding party. No dishes or cups lined it. It looked out of place. Why have a table, but nothing to eat?

The bride lifted her veil to kiss the groom. Her smile revealed those sharp, pointed teeth that gleamed in the moonlight.

I shifted my weight and a twig snapped. One of them looked in my direction. I turned to run, but they surrounded me. The groom invited me to dinner with a wicked smile to reveal more pointed teeth. I had no choice. They insisted I join in the celebration.

Next thing I knew they had placed me on the table; my limbs chained. The bride and groom stood to each side and had their toast of me.

Monday, May 2


I have awesome news to share today! I was offered contracts for two stories (one is cyberpunk and the other is a paranormal romance).  I’d done a pitch session during DigiCon at SavvyAuthors in February, and I got two requests. So! I sent them off. Recently, when I checked up on one of them, I was told they were in the contest since they’d been submitted during the time when it was going on. Well, I tied for the win! Yay! :-D

I’m blown away and super excited! If you'd like to read the "contest winner info," it's here under Extras.

For everyone that followed me during the A to Z Challenge, my typical blogging schedule is Mondays: writing topic, (new thing) every other Tuesdays: guest blogger, Wednesdays: paranormal/mythology topic, and Fridays: about my books/me and my Weekly Wrap Up. Today is obviously off-topic, but I so can't hold in this news until Friday! haha

If you'd like to be a guest blogger here, please email me at sarah (at) sarahmakela (dot) com.
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