Thursday, December 01, 2016


Once again, Imajin Books has launched its pre-Christmas sale! My first Evan Dunstan mystery, DEAD MAN FLOATING is on sale for $.99 until Dec. 7th! If you’re looking for a quick, fun amateur sleuth story with an edge and a bit of humor, then meet campus security guard Evan Dunstan.

Here’s the blurb:

One wrong decision…

Security guard Evan Dunstan didn’t expect to find a body floating in a campus stream. An empty vodka bottle nearby suggests that the highly despised George Krenn, head of the plumbing department, had drunkenly fallen in. Refusing to let the death of a vile man ruin his romantic plans, Evan decides to leave the body for the next shift to find.

One friend in trouble…

When it’s discovered that Krenn was murdered, Evan has a lot of explaining to do. So does his friend Sully, Krenn’s least favourite student. Evan uses his hacking skills and campus knowledge to keep them both out of jail, but the investigation forces him to question Sully’s innocence.

One mystery to solve…

Uncovering the truth proves to be more than challenging. It may cost Evan his job, his friendship, and his woman. Will Evan find the killer, or will the killer find him first?


Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Bittersweet Irony in Valuing a Book

Since 2003, I’ve been receiving, along with many other Canadian authors, an annual payment from Access Copyright Canada. This organization is a nonprofit, national organization who licenses the copying of the work of Canadian creators (including visual artists, publishers, and others) to educational institutions, businesses, governments and so forth. They then pass the monies collected onto the copyright holders. (You can read more about this on their website). 
My highest income came in 2012 (over $870, however, after that time, the Supreme Court of Canada added a “fair-dealing” provision to the copyright law and, let’s just say, it’s been a game changer.

Over recent years, educational institutions and others have since challenged how much they should pay to share, remix, or copy someone’s work. Access Copyright has since been forced to significantly reduce payments to copyright holders.

Despite adding a new book to the roster nearly every year, the cheque I received this year was just over $200.00. A recent article in Quill and Quire reports that the organization might have to reduce payments by as much as 55% in 2017. You can read the reasons HERE.

In a world where writers earn well below the poverty line as it is, and people (I’ve seen them) think it’s quite okay to photocopy an entire book, it’s just another unneeded obstacle in the quest to be paid for our hard work.

Ironically, I’ve been selling my mystery novels at Christmas craft fairs this month, and have found that customers are happy to pay full value for books primarily because they love mysteries and believe in supporting local authors. These people aren’t loaded with money. But they are loaded with goodwill, a love of reading, and respect for artists.

You could well argue that this is an apple and oranges issue; that buying an author’s book at a fair is hardly the same as paying a pittance, if anything, to photocopy copyrighted work for teaching and research purposes. But for me, it all boils down to the same issue: what value do people place on a book? Does it have any value at all? Or only as long as it doesn’t interfere with their own agendas and priorities? Maybe everyone, including, businesses, governments, educational organizations, and even the Supreme Court of Canada, should be giving this further serious thought.

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Fantasy Anthology -- Sword & Sorceress 31

I'm very pleased and proud to announce that I have a short story in this year's annual Marion Zimmer Bradley Sword & Sorceress anthology, this one being 31.


Unicorn Heart Pauline J. Alama
Simplicity Marian Allen
Black Dust Robin Wayne Bailey
After The Swan Song Lorie Calkins
Lord Ruthven’s Masque Steve Chapman
Reading the Future Laura Davy
Pig-Headed Suzan Harden
Shiny in the Shallows Rose Hill
In Her Shoes Melissa Mead
Earth's Daughter Catherine Mintz
Beasts and Monsters Michael H. Payne
Sage Mountain Deborah J. Ross
Hot Milk Before Bed L.S. Patton
Tears of a Dead God Jonathan Shipley
The Sassy and the Naegg Dave Smeds
Tale-maker; Tale-spinner Pam Wallace
The Fountains of Karona Julia H. West 

Sword & Sorceress 31, edited by Elisabeth Waters, was published November 2, 2016 and is entirely suitable as as gift for Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Twelfth Night, Winter Solstice, Yule, etc.

It is available in trade paperback, Kindle, Kobo, and Nook formats.

Marian Allen, Author Lady
Fantasies, mysteries, comedies, recipes

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Fear of Failure, Fear of Success

Ever tried to get over your fears? It’s pretty daunting, isn’t it? For writers, I think there’s plenty of things to worry about, and possibly fear, but I sometimes wonder if we project too much fear into our careers. Although we do invest a lot of time, money, and hopes into becoming published and/or making a bestsellers list, the fact is we’re not surgeons or cops or firefighters dealing with life or death situations. Sure, penning ideas to paper can have high stakes, but not on a daily basis.

Yet, many of us so passionately care about writing, being read, and earning money from our words, that the deep caring can be crippling. For me, I experience both fear of failure and fear of success to varying degrees. Most of the time, they’re well under control, but occasionally the feeling threatens to send me running. I start thinking about packing it in. But I then I remember why I’m really doing this—the love of writing—and then the boiling point relaxes to a simmer.

Doing a little bit of editing and/or writing each day works for me. Stamina and discipline are two things I have going for me. But a blog from John Athanasiou (HarperCollins UK), in which he lists the things that everyone in publishing needs to succeed, gave me pause to think. Although the article might be directed at employees of the publishing biz, I think a great deal of it applies to indie writers.

Some of the things on his list I’m already doing, such as creative problem-solving. Another great tip is called learning with agility. What he means by this is to not be afraid to fail frequently and fast, provided that you learn from your mistakes and move on.

Moving on quickly has been problematic for me. I stuck with the wrong agents for far too long, sought the wrong types of publishers, and attended the wrong types of conferences. I’m still learning to figure out how much time and energy to spend on social media, and to drop strategies that don’t work for me.

In case you were wondering the other three tips Athanasiou offers are:

. Power Communication and High Emotional Intelligence
. Openess, Integrity, and Honesty (openness is sometimes difficult for me)
. Results-Driven Work

He offers clear, concise explanations of each, so I strongly encourage you to visit his blog HERE. Meanwhile, time to get back to the results-driven work J

Sunday, October 30, 2016

FEEDBACK: A Great New App for Writers Coming Soon!

With three successfully published novels to her credit, mystery author, Kristina Stanley and her team have developed Feedback, an app to help writers navigate their way through the rewriting process. It’s a privilege to be able to introduce her new project on this blog! So, here’s Kristina, who asks,

Do You Need Help Rewriting Your First Draft?

Whether you’re a plotter or a panster, you’ve completed a first draft. Congratulations! Now what?
If you’re anything like me, you’re asking yourself:
  • Where do I start my manuscript rewrite?
  • How do I keep track of all the writing tips I’ve read and apply them to my story?
  • What should I change to make my story better?
  • Am I ready to share my manuscript with others?
Wouldn’t it be nice to have an app that would help you through the rewriting process?

But First: What is Rewriting?

A comprehensive rewrite is the first step in the self-editing process. I’m not talking about copyediting or proofreading. You can do that after you’ve completed your rewrite.

Rewriting your first draft means analyzing your story from a high-level perspective and fixing any weak areas. You want to make sure that the story structure makes sense, the scenes are tense, there are no plot holes, and you haven’t left any subplots unfinished.

During the rewrite, you also take a hard look at your characters. How often do they appear? What are their goals? What gets in the way of their goals?  Characters will drive the tension in your story, and tension is what keeps a reader reading.

Finally, the rewrite should examine your settings. Do you make the most of your settings? How often do you use the same setting, and is it too often? Do your settings help with the tone of your scenes? Settings are key to keeping your reader engaged, so don't ignore them.

How can we help you?

We’re building Feedback, an app for writers that provides a guided approach to tackling comprehensive rewrites.

With Feedback, you can focus on plot, character, and setting. You can evaluate on a scene-by-scene basis or on overall novel structure. Feedback will show you the most important structural elements to work on first.

Feedback will guide you through the rewriting process by asking you questions specific to your manuscript, enabling you to evaluate your own story.

Once you import your manuscript, Feedback automatically captures information such as word count, number of scenes per chapter, character names, and chapter and scene breaks, using this information to create the first set of reports. Any updates to your manuscript will still need to be completed in the writing app you used to create your first draft.

Feedback helps you visualize your manuscript. Forget about yellow stickies or white boards. Feedback will draw character arcs, provide reports on scene evaluation, and show your rewriting progress.

Feedback is a learning tool. If you’re having trouble with a certain element of fiction, just click on the rewrite tip associated with that element and find out how to improve your writing. There’s no need to search through dozens of writing books to find the piece of advice you need.

On the technical side, Feedback will be a secure, web-based app. This means you will be able to access Feedback from any device you use.

Find out more:

Our goal is to launch Feedback in the spring of 2017. In order to create an app that is truly useful to writers, we'd like your input on building Feedback. By signing up to our newsletter, we’ll send you updates on the development progress and ask you the occasional question to help define the product. As a bonus, we'll send you rewriting tips available only to our subscribers.

Are you as excited about Feedback as we are? Show your support by helping us spread the word and share this post.

You can find us at

Your support means a lot to us, so thank you!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Deadly Accusations, Second Edition Ebook is Here!

Last month, I mentioned that I’m reissuing the first four books in my Casey Holland mystery series, so I’m very happy to announce that the second ebook edition of Deadly Accusations is now up and running.

For me, the process is far more than copying the manuscript into a new document. It’s about going over every word and line, catching the occasional typo, ensuring that formatting is consistent, and rewriting the blurb until I’m satisfied.

Converting the book into different platforms means that occasional technical glitches need to be fixed. For instance, I have no idea why a small section of text will decide to double-space itself in the converted ebook when the formatting looks identical in my Word doc., but at least it’s fixable.

I’ve been preparing Deadly Accusations nearly every day for five weeks, which isn’t a long time, but the hours certainly add up. Since I’ve always liked the covers, I acquired the rights to use them as well, so the ebook versions will match the print copies.

Here’s the blurb:

Transit security cop Casey Holland is back investigating acts of violence on MPT buses. Someone is constantly smashing bus windows, while racial hatred between pre-teens are erupt into all-out war on another route. But the murder of Casey’s colleague turns her world upside down.

Coworkers and friends come under suspicion. Threats directed at Casey’s young ward, Summer, and the children of a coworker, prompt Casey to take a closer look at friends she’s worked with for years. The killer’s always one step ahead, though, and the police want her to back off. What price must Casey pay to keep loved ones safe before the killer strikes again?

“The novel’s short, punchy chapters whisk the story along to a thrilling climax, while the characters’ relationships and rivalries provided a strong emotional anchor.” - Quill & Quire

And the links:

Stay tuned for book #3, Beneath the Bleak New Moon, next month, I hope!