Thursday, July 25, 2013

Muse lightning

I've always liked to joke that my muse has ADD. She never lets me finish one project before tossing more story ideas at me. Sometimes, the stories come out of the blue. Muse lightning. The idea strikes fast, and I have to capture it before it disappears.

Wild Life was like that. The news accounts of the private zoo owner in Ohio committing suicide in 2011 caught my attention - and my muse's. According to the online articles I read, a few animals escaped before authorities could reach the zoo, but most hovered near the fence, afraid and confused. Imminent nightfall forced the hard decision not to risk use of tranquilizer, but to shoot to kill. One person described this real-life tragedy as “Noah’s ark wrecked.” But what if the opposite had occurred, and most of the animals had escaped to invade the town?

In Wild Life, the fictional residents of Tarryville, Ohio, find out. As each person comes face to face with an exotic animal, hidden truths are revealed, and each likewise comes face to face with the harsh reality of their own lives. Perspectives, and priorities, can alter in an instant during unexpected events.

Written under my mainstream pen name of C.A. Masterson, Wild Life releases today from Sunbury Press.

Learn more about my mainstream, literary and speculative fiction at

Friday, July 19, 2013

One week from today!

Every release day is exciting! Bringing a new story into the world is a bit of a nail biting experience, but also a thrill. Decadent Publishing moved up the release date from Aug. 2 to July 26 for Cinderella Dreams!

This short story was actually one of my first to get published with The Wild Rose Press, back in 2009. The rights returned to me, and I revised it with a time travel twist for Decadent Publishing's 1Night Stand series. A very popular series, perhaps because Madame Evangeline, the matchmaker, is so mysterious. She's arranged dates as early as the 1800s, and in this story, helps my heroine, Gen Fuller, return to her past. One date with "the one who got away" - but it's up to Gen to make sure she gets her happy ending.

I hope you'll take a trip back in time with her! Watch my blog for release details:

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Looking for a Great Summer Read?

So excited to see that Susan Gabriel's wonderful, lyrical book, The Secret Sense of Wildflower, is now available as an audio book.

I'm posting Susan's announcement here, along with some super reviews for the print book, including a Kirkus Reviews’  Best Books.

So here's Susan's latest news:

Do you enjoy HEARING a great story? I know I do – it’s the original form of receiving stories, after all, from our parents, teachers and even our cavemen and women ancestors. Stories are how we connect.

So I’m very excited to announce that the audio book of The Secret Sense of Wildflower is finally ready to download to your computer or MP3 devices! What I enjoyed most about the process was literally breathing life into the characters and falling in love with them once again.

Readers write

“The Secret Sense of Wildflower is a historical fiction novel that plays on themes of perseverance, kinship, grief, and the remarkable strength of Louisa May “Wildflower” . . . I am a true lover of historical fiction and I would recommend this novel for any reader looking for an inspiring, intense, and deeply thoughtful story. The Secret Sense of Wildflower is indeed a book that deserves recognition for its beautifully crafted prose, well written characters, and expertly descriptive landscapes.” — Samantha J. Moore, OneTitle Reviews

“Probably one of the best surprises this year almost slipped by me…It turned out to be one of my favorite reads this year… This is a story of family, loyalty, forgiveness and love…This is the type of book that I crave to read. It’s beautifully written in lyrical prose that I found myself slowing down to re-read. It has such a deep familial core, yet also has a darkness that makes you keep reading.. All of the characters are so true to the era and Appalachian culture and are all very believable. It is a true Southern tale. There are both great relationships and some very difficult ones that add even more layers to this story… What I really like is that Wildflower is telling the story from her own perspective. It brings such an innocent honesty that grabs your heart and doesn’t let go. I’m a sucker for a story told through a child’s eye and Ms. Gabriel interprets this protagonist beautifully. Though it has some disturbing moments, the story, as a whole, is wonderful and shouldn’t be missed. This is definitely a story that will stay with me for a long while and recommend it highly.”  - Lisa Evans, Southern Girl Reads

“…this story will move you as it twists and turns and eventually connects the dots left behind whilst developing into a work more than worth the read.  Yes…it’s THAT good… I found the story completely enveloping.  You laughed when the characters laughed, grieved when they grieved and sought happier places when the ugliness of the world presented itself front and center.  In some ways it reminded me of the infamous To Kill A Mockingbird; perhaps because of the young narrator and the strong voice with which she was blessed, perhaps because of the time and setting used, or perhaps simply because it was that striking of a work.  Whatever the reason, it left its mark on me and for that I can only extend my thanks to the author with sincerity from the bottom of my heart…a masterpiece; plain, simple, and resilient like the flowers the young lead is named for.Gina Reba, Insatiable Readers

 "I was pretty blown away by how good this book is. I didn’t read it with any expectations, hadn’t heard anything about it really, so when I read it, I realized from page one that it is a well written, powerful book.” – Erin Beard, Quixotic Magpie

“The story is told from the point of view of Wildflower, which really makes the story even more powerful. I thought the author did a great job of capturing Wildflower. In some ways, she’s wise beyond her years, which makes her incredibly strong and resilient. In other ways, she is still very much a 14 year old girl. At that age, it’s easy to think that you’re really invincible and this is exactly what gets Wildflower into trouble, but her strength and resilience is what helps her find her way back . . . Bottom line: A great story about a strong character!” Meg, A Bookish Affair

The Secret Sense of Wildflower received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews 

Named to 
Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012!

“In this novel, life turns toward a dark horizon for a precocious adolescent grieving for her father in 1941 Tennessee.

“It’s difficult to harbor secrets in a rural mountain town of maybe 80 souls, especially when adult siblings live within spitting distance of the family home. Most of the townsmen work at the sawmill, and most of the young women have been harassed at one time or another by creepy Johnny Monroe. But Louisa May McAllister, nicknamed Wildflower, knows that revealing her frequent forays to the cemetery, where she talks to her beloved late father, would only rile her embittered mother. She also knows to hide her “secret sense,” as it would evoke scorn from all save eccentric Aunt Sadie, who shares her tomboy niece’s gift.

“Those secrets come at a cost when, on one of her graveyard visits, Louisa May ignores her premonition of danger. The consequences—somewhat expected yet still horrific—are buffered by the visions into which the 13-year-old escapes. Sharp-witted, strong, curious and distrustful of authority figures not living up to her standards—including God—Louisa May immerses us in her world with astute observations and wonderfully turned phrases, with nary a cliché to be found. She could be an adolescent Scout Finch, had Scout’s father died unexpectedly and her life taken a bad turn.

“Though her story is full of pathos and loss, her sorrow is genuine and refreshingly free of self-pity. She accepts that she and her mother are “like vinegar and soda, always reacting,” that her best friend has grown distant, and that despite the preacher’s condemnation, a young suicide victim should be sent “to the head of heaven’s line.” Her connection to the land—a presence as vividly portrayed as any character—makes her compassionate but tough; she’s as willing to see trees as angels as she is to join her brothers-in-law in seeking revenge. By necessity, Louisa May grows up quickly, but by her secret sense, she also understands forgiveness. A quietly powerful story, at times harrowing but ultimately a joy to read.”

The worlds of family, friendship, mourning, courage and love are explored in this moving, often humorous, novel about healing and hope. A character-driven novel reminiscent of the work of Reynolds Price in its ability to create a truly original Southern voice, The Secret Sense of Wildflower is certain to be embraced by fans of Sue Monk Kidd (The Secret Life of Bees) and Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird).

And for those of you who prefer a printed book, you can get an autographed copy here.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Confessions of a Novice Novelist

My book is coming out in November, a development that leaves me both exhilarated and terrified. The writing part is just fine -- well, unless you count the knot of fear in the pit of my stomach that everyone who reads the book will hate it. That's no big deal. It's the promotion that leaves my head spinning.

As big publishing houses swallow smaller ones and e-books threaten to take over the publishing world, an author's role in the promotion process grows larger and murkier. While I have little difficulty working the news of my novel's release into a variety of conversations, I'm less sure about subjecting friends, family and would-be readers to a barrage of thinly disguised "buy my book!"messages. Telling people about my book's release in the context of a conversation is organic, born of my own excitement about the culmination of more than five years of work. Parlaying this enthusiasm into a stream of promotional information leaves me feeling, well, unenthusiastic. And a little nauseated.

I know word-of-mouth is important -- essential, even -- for a first-time novelist. I get that. And, to a certain extent, I buy into it.

But I've watched fellow authors (none on this blog, I am happy to say) turn a book launch into a months-long monologue, usually at the behest of a publisher or agent who tells said author that this blitz is necessary to boost sales. I know the author is just following directions, but I also know what my reaction is.

I stop listening. I stop reading their Facebook statuses, I stop checking out their blogs. I do exactly the opposite of what they hope I will do.

So, now that I am that author whose book is due out in less than six months, I am working hard not to be that author who sends people running in the other direction.

I'd really appreciate it if you'd help me out. Tell me - what piques your interest in a new title? What makes you read a book by someone you've never heard of? And what spurs you to do exactly the opposite, turning away from the title, ignoring the new author, running screaming toward the tried-and-true?