Introducing Dana Donovan

Posted on Dec 01 2009

danaDana Donovan grew up in New England where folklore and superstitions can mold a town’s history as much as its people. Since December is often such a busy month, I’m going to focus on Dana’s book of short stories, Death and Other Inconveniences. First off, let’s have Dana tell you about a few of them:

My inspiration for Bi’Dahji was a simple line that popped into my head: “It moved.” Just two simple words and I thought they would make a great first line for a story. Of course, the problem with coming up with the first two words of a short story is that you need another five-to-fifteen thousand deathwords to follow. With little more than a first sentence to go by, it is no wonder that Bi’Dahji took almost as long to write, as did all the other short stories in this collection together, but that’s the truth. Before those words, there was no such thing as a tewechi, peeket, subit or troller.

(Just a side note: Bi’Dahji is a real word. It is Navajo, and means , on the rim, as in mesa).

Although some stories barely seep from pinpricks in the brain, others bleed, indeed hemorrhage onto the page as quickly as I can write them. That was the case with Murder at the Depot, and unlike Bi’Dahji, I had nearly every element of the story in my head long before I sat down to write it. In fact, I probably walked around almost two years waiting to put it down on paper.


The Gemini Effect came to me just as I was starting to fall asleep one night. Oddly, I get many of my ideas at that time. I guess it is the time when my brain starts to shut down for the night and my dream engine starts to purr. Gemini came to me then and in a matter of minutes, I had the entire storyline down in my head. I did not even worry that I might forget it in the morning. It was just that clear to me. The names, of course, came later. Often, a character starts out with one name in a story, but then it changes later. Nearly all the character’s names in Bi’Dahji did that. Oh, and a trivia tidbit for you: the magic words spoken to start the Gemini effect (Nimige ceteff neithso) is simply a scrambled version of

Gemini effect this one. Ooh, spooky.

You can read some of the above-mentioned short stories and find links to Dana’s other books at


Meet Crystalee Calderwood

Posted on Oct 01 2009

crystalee calderwoodCrystalee Calderwood’s first love was reading. She could read before she entered kindergarten. Writing was, naturally, the next step.

For many years, Crystalee focused on poetry. It helped her get through her rocky teen years, and she honed her skills as an English major at Penn State Altoona. In 2006, Crystalee got accepted into the MFA program of her dreams at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. At Chatham, Crystalee began to think maybe poetry was no longer for her.

“It felt like they were putting me into a box,” she says. “Everything was about ‘Is this going to sale?’ I was expected to write like everyone else, and I felt like I couldn’t please anyone.”

During her very first semester, Crystalee took a class called the Craft of Writing for Children and Adolescents. Writing for kids wasn’t an instant passion for her. In fact, it took a picture book writing class a year later to seal the deal. Crystalee picked up writing for children as one of her emphases, but also continued in the poetry program.

Crystalee is now a graduate of Chatham University and the author of her first picture book, Angeline Jellybean. She is a full time Literacy*AmeriCorps member who teaches computer skills to job-seeking adults. She is currently working on two YA novels and a handful of picture books.

Visit Crystalee online at: 



And learn more about her book Angeline Jellybean on Saturday.

What is a blog tour?

Posted on Jul 24 2009

Last week I embarked upon my first blog tour. I thought I was one of the last people to become introduced to this relatively new form of publicity. But when I invited a group of writers to join me on my blog tour and was asked by more than one “What exactly IS a blog tour?”, I thought I should address the question here.

A blog tour is simply an event wherein a number of blogs agree to have an author “appear” via articles or interviews. It’s the equivalent of a cyber book tour.

My blog tour began on Monday, October 20, with WOW! Women On Writing’s blog The Muffin. My blog tour started there because I’m doing my blog tour through WOW! Women On Writing. I chose WOW! because they were the least expensive I’d found. However, Angela Mackintosh has been truly wonderful. She’s guided me through this entire process with diligence
and patience, acting as a virtual tour guide in getting me to various destinations with whatever I’m supposed to bring along.

So far, I’ve done four interviews, six articles and shared one review of Murder Takes the Cake. I’ve still got more interviews and articles to do next week. So, as you can see, it’s a lot of work; but I believe it’s paying off.

I have to admit, I like the interviews the best. Often the questions I’m asked make me stop and think. As I analyze my work or myself, I end up learning as well as providing information.

I’ve been able to follow comments on some of the blogs, and that’s a cool experience as well. For instance, at Whole Latte Life, I talked about integrating cake decorating into my cozy mystery. One of the readers was surprised to learn that I’m not a professional cake decorator. I told her I was actually far from it, and she was encouraged by that.

I’ve watched my website traffic increase throughout this blog tour. Plus, my publisher has me on Google Alerts and is notified when I appear on these blogs. Most recently, I’ve joined a group of like-minded authors who do monthly virtual blog tours at member sites.

If you decide to do a blog tour, do your homework. If you choose to do all the legwork yourself, be sure and read Alyice Edrich’s article, “Host Your Own Event: Take a Blog Tour” at If you prefer to get some professional help, investigate your options before making a commitment. Consider your budget and what you expect to get out of the tour. Ask plenty of questions before deciding which Blog Tour Guide is right for you.

Hope this helps!

For more writing information, please visit my Squidoo Lens at Also, visit my Coaching  page.