Monthly Archives: October 2013

Come “Meet the Monsters” at the Awesome Halloween Party

The hosts of the Awesome Indies Halloween party have some mean bad guys hiding among their pages. Today,  the authors open their books and let their monsters take a peek outside. Click on over to the Awesome Indies, read the descriptions, and vote for the monster you think is the creepiest. (Or just vote for Waterspell because you like me. ♥ )

aia_buttonRemember that the Monster 99-Cent Book Sale continues through November 1. Each of the three books of the Waterspell trilogy is on sale for a mere 99 cents. Afterward, the price will return to $2.99 per book, so get ’em while they’re going so cheap!


Happy Halloween!

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Halloween Party and 99-Cent Book Sale! Oct. 30 thru Nov. 1

aia_buttonThink of it as Black Friday for Books. This Halloween you can fill your Kindle for peanuts (or candy corn) with exceptional ebooks from the “Monster 99-Cent Book Sale” sponsored by the Awesome Indies. Choose from more than 40 titles in every imaginable genre, from Memoir to Metaphysical.

The sale runs from October 30 through November 1. Also enjoy a fun quiz (which I helped to write), a meet-the-monster day, and a goody-bag of giveaways, including your choice of more than a dozen paperback books. Here’s the lineup:

Oct. 30 — Click over to the Awesome Indies to discover fascinating facts about Halloween and check out the monster e-book sale. The three books of WATERSPELL are part of the sale, along with many other quality indie reads. The Awesome Indies take the risk out of buying indie. They list only books that meet the same standard as mainstream fiction (or higher), so all you need to do is choose what you think you’ll like. The quality is guaranteed.

Oct. 31 — Happy Halloween! It’s “Meet the Monster” day at the Awesome Indies. The authors of the sale books will introduce the “monsters” in their stories. You’ll meet vampires, werewolves, demons, warlocks, witches and wizards, and several horribles that defy categorization. Come be scared!

Nov. 1 — The 99-cent book sale continues through Friday, and the party will feature a big giveaway. You can download free ebooks and you might win your choice of more than a dozen paperback books.

Please invite your friends by sharing on Facebook or Twitter, and please comment on the posts on my blog and the Awesome Indies site if you pay us a visit. The more likes and shares we get, the greater our visibility to other readers.

Thank you for helping us spread the word about the sale!

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The Fussy Librarian Recommends Waterspell

I’m excited about this! Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock will be featured tomorrow, Oct. 29, at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized ebook recommendations. You choose from 30 genres and indicate your preferences about content (the level of profanity or sex you want, etc.) and then the computers work their magic. It’s pretty cool, and easy to sign up for the daily emails — check it out!

For more details, please see my earlier post about The Fussy Librarian’s recommendations.

First Time Ever: Waterspell Is On Sale

As someone who has regularly paid $15 or more for a book, I think the standard ebook price of $2.99 is a STEAL. At that price, a reader can have all three books of the Waterspell trilogy for under $10, tax included.

aia_buttonBut market forces seem to be driving ebook prices down to a mere 99 cents — the cost of one three-minute song off a CD. As I’ve said before, I have resisted offering my trilogy for such a paltry sum, lest people mistakenly believe that the quality is poor (it isn’t) or that I’m not proud of my work (I am). I spent 16 years writing Waterspell, and what I produced is the best writing of which I am capable. The reviews (excerpted below) bear out my belief that the trilogy is well worth $10.

As an experiment, however, I’ve dropped the price to 99 cents per book to coincide with The Fussy Librarian‘s recommendation and this week’s Monster 99c Book Sale and Halloween Party sponsored by the Awesome Indies.

So get ’em while they’re cheap! Or even cheaper than usual. Depending on what the lower price does for sales, I may leave Waterspell at 99 cents per volume through Christmas. Or I might go back to $2.99 before Thanksgiving. We’ll see. Having never tried this before, I’ll be closely watching the results of this experiment. Please join me.

What People Say: Reviews of Waterspell

“What a brilliant and unforgettable story! I devoured this book … literally consumed by the originality and depth Deborah brings to her characters. She provides a strong balance between action, adventure, fantasy, and romance and Carin’s combination of pride and vulnerability make her a fabulous character! Quite frankly, I am just astounded by the emotions this book stirred in me. It is simply extraordinary.” Feifei Le

“This was an extremely well written fantasy story …  [it] flows well with a very readable style that holds your interest throughout. The world building is solid and intriguing, the magical aspects well drawn and versatile and characterisation is energetic so that you are immediately invested in their future. The ending with its wonderful cliffhanger will ensure that you read on … All in all a marvellous addition to the fantasy genre and I would recommend it for lovers of magical mystical tales.” Liz Wilkins

“I was hooked instantly when I started reading [Waterspell Book 1] The Warlock. I willingly gave up sleep and honestly could not wait to get up to read more of this book. I’m reading the whole series, and I absolutely am loving it.” Sarah @​ Amazon

“If you like epic fantasy that sweeps you to amazing, immersive worlds and while following intriguing characters, be sure to add this series to your to-read list.” Once Upon a YA Book

“Grabbed my attention and kept it. It’s a truly unique book. This is a series not to miss.” Tahlia Newland

“… a fabulous trilogy that should be read by every fantasy reader who would like something a little different. The author cleverly creates tension without resorting to the battles, complex political intrigue and predictable structure favoured by many in the traditional fantasy genre. I give it 5 stars without hesitation.” Tahlia Newland

And there’s more! Additional reviews at

I am deeply grateful to all the wonderful reviewers who have responded so warmly to my work. Thank you all, so very much. And thank you, Fussy Librarian, for the recommendation!


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The Fussy Librarian Recommends Books You’ll Like

The Fussy Librarian is the first website to match readers not only with the genre of books they like but also their preferences about content. Do you read only mysteries without profanity, violence, or sex? Then Fussy will tell you only about cozy mysteries. Do you read only memoirs and gory horror novels? Fussy will confine her recommendations to those genres.

Fussy’s mission is to find you great books. This matchmaking service only bothers with the good stuff. Readers’ time is valuable, so Fussy strives to make sure every time you open one of her daily emails, you’ll find something you like. After all, there’s a reason the service is called The Fussy Librarian.

Fussy has 30 adult fiction and nonfiction categories, plus multiple ratings for language, violence, and sexual content. The database stores all that information and then lets you know only about books that match your preferences. If there aren’t any matches, you don’t get an email.

Sign up for free and Fussy will suggest books for you based on your interests and content preferences. It’s like getting handpicked books from your own personal librarian.

Featured Awesome Indies Authors

The Fussy Librarian is the perfect literary match for the Awesome Indies, a book evaluation group that showcases quality independent fiction for the discerning reader. Fussy and Awesome both work tirelessly to save you, the reader, from having to sort the gems from the slush pile.

October is a particularly great time to sign up for Fussy’s emails, because several Awesome Indies authors are featured this month. Here’s a partial list:

Oct. 15 — Daimones by Massimo Marino

Oct. 22 — Drawing Breath by Laurie Boris

Oct. 25 — Coffee and Vodka by Helena Halme

Oct. 25 — Shadow on the Wall by Pavarti K. Tyler

Oct. 28 — Awakening: Secrets of a Brown Eyed Girl by Carol Davis Luce

Oct. 28 — Doodling by Jonathan Gould

Oct. 28 — I Wish I Could Say I Was Sorry by Susie Kelly

Oct. 29 — Don’t Tell Anyone by Laurie Boris

Oct. 29 — Waterspell Book 1: The Warlock by Deborah J. Lightfoot

Oct. 30 — A Matter of Perception by Tahlia Newland

Oct. 31 — Polly! by Stephen Goldin

For the best in indie fiction, find these and other great reads at the Awesome Indies. Awesome Indies authors have exacting standards. We’re awesomely fussy, too!



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Those Pesky Dangling Participles

An indie author sent me her book in hopes that I’d review it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get past the first two pages. The prose was marred by a series of dangling participles. To wit: “Turning the faucet, hot water filled the tub.” Huh? I’m not convinced that hot water has the necessary dexterity to perform such a maneuver. And: “Lighting the candles, the fragrance reminded me of perfume.” It’s an even greater stretch to picture a fragrance striking a match.


My 99-cent ebook on Self-Editing offers advice for identifying and correcting common errors involving “-ing” words (my nickname for participles). Here’s an excerpt, re-posted from my old blog:

Self-Editing: Part 4

(This series begins with Part 1.)

IV. -ing Words

After using your computer to search for “ly” adverbs, then search for “-ing” words. This can be tedious — you’ll find “thing,” “ring,” “string” and other perfectly innocent words when what you’re hunting for are verb-like words that end in -ing. These “ing” words often cause trouble. You may find you’re using them to “back into” too many sentences:

Flipping her hair off her shoulder, Alice turned to go. Reaching the door, she paused. Turning to face him again, she started to speak. Thinking better of it, she stormed out.

A long string of sentences like these will drive a reader nuts. Rewrite to eliminate at least three-fourths of these sorts of “ing” opening phrases.

Also check for “danglers” that don’t quite say what you meant:

Being late to work, the boss fired her. [The boss wasn’t late. She was.]

Lying in the hammock, it struck her that Bob was OK. [A hammock with a temper?]

While walking his dog, the fire alarm sounded. [Talented fire alarm!]

Every time you find yourself using an “-ing” word to back into a sentence, consider rewriting it in solid subject-verb-object form. The result is usually clearer and crisper:

Running to the stable, he mounted his horse. He mounted while he was running? While the horse was running? It’s muddy. Simpler to say: He ran to the stable and mounted his horse.

Reaching for his gun, he fired several shots into the air. Try switching those two phrases and you’ll immediately see the problem: Firing several shots into the air, he reached for his gun. Just keep it simple and direct: He drew his gun and fired.

Crossing the stream, she tripped. Problem 1: It’s unclear. Did she trip while crossing the stream, or after crossing? Problem 2: It’s telling, not showing. This is a weak sentence that describes action that would be better shown: She waded into the freezing water. The current caught her midstream, slamming her off her feet.

Use the Find feature to locate your -ing words, and study each carefully. Recast any sentences you’re backing into, any sentences that are unclear. I don’t mean that you should eliminate all -ing words. But you should consider the value of each one, and choose carefully which to keep, which to rewrite.

Here’s a brief “-ing” opening that works:
Turning, he lifted the blackjack from the low shelf and slammed it on the counter.

With the emphasis moved to the “-ing” words, however, the sentence becomes weak and far less effective:
He turned his head, lifting the blackjack from the low shelf and slamming it on the counter.

[For more about Dangling Participles, see “Quick and Dirty Tips” from Grammar Girl.]

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I Swear

I’m an information junkie. I’m always collecting it — tearing articles out of magazines (yes, I still subscribe to ink-on-paper magazines); quoting the best bits I read and hear; even passing along catalogs like the one from The Teaching Company for The Great Courses.


(Illustration by Corliss Elizabeth Williams for Time)


Possibly I’m a low-level hoarder. I’ve kept an article I tore out of the August 10, 2009, TIME magazine: “Why Swearing Is Good for You.” Author Tiffany Sharples says that swearing “can do more than vent frustration: it can actually reduce physical pain.” A study in Britain found that test subjects could endure painfully cold water longer while swearing. Repeating “a curse word of their choice” made the ice water feel less intensely painful.

“In swearing,” said the study’s lead author, “people have an emotional response, and it’s the emotional response that actually triggers the reduction of pain.”

I passed along a copy of that article to a writer friend who often advises his colleagues to “put more cussing” in our stories. He seems to instinctively appreciate the emotional power of swearing.

Of course, for those of us who write young-adult fiction, swearwords can be problematical. Some teachers, librarians, and parents frown on including obscenities in stories aimed at teenage (and up) readers.

In my YA / new-adult fantasy trilogy Waterspell, my deuteragonist (the character taking the part of second importance) swears like a sailor, and my protagonist, Carin, can almost match him. Their swearing habits are essential to revealing who these characters are.

To get around the objections that would surely be raised if I had used standard American profanity, I gave my characters a different divinity to swear by. They’re in a parallel universe, so it makes sense that their holy figures would have different names than the gods do on Earth. Instead of swearing “By God!” it’s “By Drisha!” in their world.

Another helpful source of inoffensive profanity comes from old English expressions like “gorblimey,” which is a euphemism for “God blind me.” My wizard is fond of saying “Drisha blind me!” It makes people wince in his world, since it’s such a strong oath to them. But Earthlings are not offended.

In my never-ending quest for good, pain-relieving swearing, I mine sources such as old Irish fairy and folk tales. From them I’ve gotten such gems as “A thousand murders!” and “My breath and blood!”

Thanks to TIME’s Tiffany for giving me even more reasons to collect the best in profanity. My characters get into painful situations that require them to vent via a good outburst of colorful language.

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Heralds in Fantasy Literature

Heralds, in their original and simplest form, were messengers. In fantasy literature, a herald often brings the message or in some other way triggers the events, sets the events in motion.

In The Hobbit, for example, Gandalf is the herald, or the trigger, that sends Bilbo Baggins off on his grand adventure.

In my Waterspell trilogy, Carin is the herald. Her showing up on the property of the wizard named Verek sets the story action into motion. In effect, she will send Verek off on a quest—and she will participate fully with him on the quest, similar to how Gandalf sets Bilbo into motion and also plays his great role in the events of that story.

But behind Carin, there’s yet another herald—another character who is the one that set Carin into motion. So the events actually begin with the original herald, who is described in my Books 1 and 2 as “the wisewoman.” Readers won’t know the wisewoman’s whole story until they get to Waterspell Book 3.

But back to the beginning. When we first meet Carin in Book 1 Chapter 1, she’s not acting entirely of her own free will. The wisewoman has sent her to the wizard Verek.

One thing that complicated the writing of Chapter 1 is that I needed to at least hint that Carin isn’t really sure what her goal is, why she’s come north, or what she’s supposed to do when gets there. She only knows—or she feels, deep in her gut—that she has to be there.

In effect, she’s under a spell—a spell of compulsion. She thinks she’s acting of her own free will, but if she were pressed to explain her motives, she would be hard put to do it. This becomes clearer in Chapter 3, when Verek presses her about her reasons for trespassing on his property. Her explanations don’t satisfy him, and they will—I hope—deepen the sense of mystery that surrounds Carin.

My challenge with Chapter 1  is that many “mainstream” readers expect the main character’s goals and motivations to be clearly laid out right at the start. That’s what they have been taught to expect.

Experienced readers of fantasy, however, will understand that motives and circumstances are often quite murky as the story opens. In Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass, for instance, the main character, Lyra, has no problem whatsoever as the story opens. She’s having fun. She’s exploring a forbidden part of the college where she lives, and she’s enjoying herself. The big problem that she will face does not become clear for a very long time, as the trilogy unfolds.

So what I’ve tried to accomplish with Chapter 1 of my fantasy is to present Carin as a strong, active, decisive character, but I’ve also had to hint that she’s been set on this course, this particular path, by forces beyond her control, by circumstances that she didn’t create. She’s being used, quite frankly, but she’s not a pawn.

In a sense, she’s like King Arthur’s sword, Excalibur. He used the sword—only Arthur as the rightful king could wield it—but Excalibur had magical powers of its own. It allowed itself to be used only by the rightful king.

My girl, Carin, very definitely has a say in how she’s being used by the original herald, the wisewoman in the south, and by the wizard Verek once she follows the wisewoman’s instructions and finds him, up in the north.

The Book 1 Prologue  helps to clarify what’s driving Carin, what her goal is, what problem she must overcome. Here’s an excerpt:


The Path Ahead

The wisewoman never asked directly, never demanded of Carin: “Where do you come from, you strange, surprising child? Who are you?” But she breathed her questions in an undertone when she thought Carin couldn’t hear.

Time passed, and the woman watched with shrewd regard, ever wondering. What’s going on, girl, behind those cool green eyes that view the world with such detachment? You’ve borne up patiently these five years, with your gaze cast groundward to hide your thoughts from those who think you have none. Oh, you’re a self-contained little wight, as guarded in your speech as in your glances. You pretend to be indifferent to your past and resigned to your present. But I have seen you puzzling beside the millpond, gazing into its waters, wondering: ‘What brought me here? Where did this journey start, and where do I go now?’

The seasons turned, and at last the wisewoman drew Carin aside. “I have considered carefully. Indeed, child, I have thought of little else. Still I cannot fathom where your journey began. But I clearly see the path that lies before you now.”

The woman did not point. She would not risk drawing anyone’s eye to the pair standing apart. She merely tipped her head, keeping her hand hidden in the folds of her shawls, tightly gripping the amulet she had fashioned against this moment.

“Go north, girl,” she ordered, her gaze locked with Carin’s. “Run from here. You have no home in this village. Granger is much too hidebound and suspicious for the likes of you. Your place is in the North. If you belong anywhere, child, you belong there.”

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