Literary Engineer
Because reading and writing are my only obsessions

A to Z – Cheese anyone?

April 3rd, 2014by Suzi

Everyone’s idea of cheesy is different, and I think cheesy is sort of hard to define. Silly or goofy, maybe stupid. Or a roll your eyes song. One you don’t want to admit to liking. Sometimes cheesy is good, sometimes bad. But these songs are ones I like. Not saying I’d listen to them all the time, but they’re good to hear every once in a while.
Two notes about this song.
1. This lead singer totally needs a barrett. That hair… (no explanation needed) And they’re clothes are funny too–they’re a combination of such different styles.
2. I have no clue what those words are scrolling across the top, cause I don’t speak that language, so I apologize
if it’s something not nice.
Safety Dance by Men Without Hats – Totally 80s. SSSS AAAA FFFF EEEE TTTT YYYY, Safe Safe Safe Tee Dance Dance Dance Dance.Total Cheese. I rarely hear this one, but I remember it quite clearly.

Da Ya Think I’m sexy by Rod Stewart – RS has many great songs, but this one isn’t the best. But I get a kick out of it, and it’s totally see it being played at some disco club in the 70s.


Daydream Believer by The Monkees – The Monkees are kinda cool. Anyone remember when Davey Jones was on the Brady Bunch? Even though I think this song is kinda cheesy, I still really like it.


Barbie Girl by Aqua – Not exactly a quality song, but it’s also one I get a kick out of. I was a Barbie girl, meaning I played with them, but I didn’t look like a Barbie girl.


So which cheesy songs do you like?

A to Z – Bad message, good song

April 2nd, 2014by Suzi

There are a bunch of songs I feel guilty about listening to because they have a bad message: songs about drinking or drugs. And part of me feels like I’m promoting those things, but I still like the songs. So here are a few…

This Afternoon by Nickelback – Sitting around drinking beer and smoking pot with your friends. Nope, didn’t do that, but still like the song.


Lit Up by Buckcherry – Doing cocaine… not thanks. Still like the song though.


Mas Tequila by Sammy Hagar – This probably the least worst of the three. Tequila is disgusting, and I have no desire to drink it, nor did I when I was younger. Still like the song.


On the flip side I have a song that has a better message.

MaMa Told Me (Not to Come) by Three Dog Night – Okay, so maybe it’s not that it has a great message, but it shows what can happens to a good kid when he’s hanging out at a party where the above songs are happening. This song always makes me chuckle.

So do you enjoy any songs that you’d never live in your real life?

A to Z – Ages Ago

April 1st, 2014by Suzi

I’m a child of the 80s, which means I had records, and then cassettes. I much prefer paying 99 cents now for one song, instead of a whole record/cassette or CD. But before that we had 45s (records). One song on each side. Of course we only listened to the one side, cause the B side was usually some little known song.
So here are a few of the 45s I had.

Eye of the Tiger by Survivor – I wasn’t really a Rocky fan, but who could forget this awesome song? Not me, obviously. Just recently we saw Survivor in concert, and they have a lot of terrific songs, but this is the best known to me.


Come on Eileen by Dexy’s Midnight Runners – I don’t know if DMR had any other songs, but this one was pretty cool. Hard to dance to, but a good song.


Mickey by Toni Basil – Oh Mickey, you’re so fine, you’re so fine you blow my mind. Hey, Mickey! Hey, Mickey! Now this one was a fun one to dance to, and I think this was a one hit wonder, but I could be wrong.

Abracadabra by Steve Miller Band – Love the SMB. Lots of awesome songs. I think this 45 actually belonged to my brother, but I listened to it often too.

So did you grow up in the age of records? Have any 45s? What were your faves?

For those awesome bloggers

March 30th, 2014by Suzi

I want to thank Lara Schiffbauer for nominating me for the Shauny Blog Award. It was something I hadn’t heard of, but it’s a great way to tell those other bloggers who’ve supported you on your way.
It was created last November by Doctor Rex in honor of Shaun Gibson, a Scottish blogger who lives with chronic pain syndrome.The sentiment in which the award was created is just beautiful and the only rules, if you can call them rules, are these: Show Humanity, Show Love, Be Yourself, Don’t Be Others, Don’t Gossip, and Share This Award with 10 others. (Okay, I only did four. :) )
There are so many awesome bloggers out there, but four of them stand out of the crowd. These ladies are all writers, terrific writers, and they’ve supported me in the blogging and writing world. Because really, I’m blogging because of my writing.
So in no particular order…
Laura Schiffbauer: And seriously, I’m not giving her the award because she did for me. :)
As a blogger: Not long after I started blogging, I found Lara. She had some inspiring posts and other informative writing posts, and she hooked me there. I read her blog for a while before I started commenting, but then finally got more comfortable. Lara also does these Friday Fun post with great pictures of animals and captions. She’s seriously one of the first blogs I read Friday mornings because her pictures are always good for a laugh.
As a writer: Lara’s been super supportive of my projects, always ready to help. And I’ve been lucky to read her work too and can’t wait to see her #2 book in her Adven Series. Someday I hope to meet her and maybe when we both become famous writers, we’ll take a drive and meet halfway between our homes. (Btw, Lara, I checked out the map, and I think South Dakota’s Black Hills would be a perfect halfway point. :)
Cassie Mae
As a blogger: Cassie Mae was another one there when I first got into blogging. She is so funny and so sweet. In my early blogging times, I’d be going around visiting blogs and I’m like, oh—there’s Cassie Mae. Then I’d go to another, and another, and Cassie Mae was like always one of the commentors. I’m not sure how she kept up with them all, but she was everywhere. She is just a terrific blogger: fun and interesting.
As a writer: Cassie Mae totally makes me laugh. Her characters are sometimes sweet, sometimes fun, sometimes silly, and you just love them. She is also another writer I admire, successful in both self and traditional publishing. She’s got so many fires burning, I can hardly keep up with them all, but I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to read her work before it’s published. I met Cassie Mae once, but will get to see her also at the Storymakers Conference.
Jolene Perry
As a blogger: Jolene was also one of those who I started following in my early blogging days. She always had fun posts and I learned a lot about writing and publishing. At first I was nervous leaving a comment on her blog, but I got over that when I found out how cool she was.
As a writer: Jolene is one of those writers I’d love to be. Yes, she writes (and has been publishing) lots of great novels, but… she is just an awesome person. Always willing to help. And I can’t wait to meet her at the April Storymakers conference we’ll both be at.
Theresa Paulo
As a blogger: I didn’t find Theresa right away when I first started blogging, but it didn’t take long. I think it was a blog hop she hosted with another. I hadn’t done a lot of blog hops at that time, but this was a fun one—and if I remember right, relatively easy. And so that’s when I really started visiting her blog. And I’m like, ohh, I love the sound of the stories she writes. They’re similar to what I like to read. And the rest is history. (Of course anything in the past is now history, I suppose. :) )
As a writer: As I said above, I love the type of stories Theresa writes. I’ve gotten to read a ton of hers and love them all. There’s always romance/love in there, but there’s usually some type of emotional issue that the main characters struggle with. She makes her characters struggle a lot. (Which is good. :) ) She’s been so very supportive too, helping me with mine and always there to make me laugh. I’ve seen Theresa twice, but I’m sure there’ll be much more times. The next time I go to NYC, I’m staying with her, because she is totally fun too. (Here’s your warning, Theresa, if I hadn’t mentioned this yet. :) )
So those are my four picks, because as I said, they’re all terrific writers… terrific women… and terrific friends.

Sisters (and brothers)

March 23rd, 2014by Suzi

My friends, Kelley Lynn and Jenny Morris, just released their book, Road to Somewhere. It’s about two sisters, a roadtrip, and apparently cowboys. :) I haven’t had a chance to read it since I just purchased it last night, but I really like the storyline being about two sisters.

I haven’t seen a lot of that in YA. More often when books involve siblings, it’s a brother/sister combination. Or, you typically have a ‘good’ sibling and a ‘bad’ sibling, but this doesn’t seem to be that way either.
So I’m looking forward to reading this story about Charlie and Lucy. And I’m also curious about those cowboys. :)
Let me know what other books you’re read about sisters OR brothers. Or if you’ve read Road to Somewhere.

Road to Somewhere at Amazon or Goodreads

For Charlie, a post-high school road trip isn’t just a vacation, it’s life changing. While her parents think she’s helping a friend move, a chance at fame is the real reason to grab her best friends and drive to L.A. But when her super annoying, uber-responsible, younger sister, Lucy, has to tag along, it isn’t quite the summer of fun she imagined.

Add in a detour to her grandparents’ ranch in Texas, and between mucking the stalls, down-home cookin’, and drool worthy ranch hands, this could just turn into the best, and most complicated, summer of their lives.

The Real Thing

March 21st, 2014by Suzi

Today I’ve got the cover reveal for Cassie Mae’s latest novel, The Real Thing.
Since she’s way more funny than I am, I’m gonna let her introduce it.

Take it away Cassie Mae…


So, this book… it’s about this girl.
And she loves her online time.
Her phone is her buddy.
And her favorite app is her Kindle, because she also LOVES to read.
Read a lot.
Then there’s this boy.
He’s best friends with this bookworm girl.
He sort of has a thing for her.
But, he’s also got major anxiety.
And isn’t sure how to make a move.
So when they end up rooming together for the summer, this guy tries to get this girl to put the screen away long enough for him to win her over.
But of course, it’s not easy to unplug. Especially for an internet junkie.
Hmm… that girl sounds pretty familiar ;)
And here’s the hawt cover for it! 

And here’s the actual blurb, and not my picture version :)

Eric Matua has one friend—his best friend and childhood sweetheart, who needs a place to stay for the summer. Mia Johnson has thousands of friends—who live in her computer. Along with her email chats and Facebook notifications, Mia also devours romance novels, spending countless hours with fictional characters, dreaming of her own Romeo to sweep her off her feet. When she starts receiving supersweet messages from a stranger who thinks she’s someone else, Mia begins to believe that real love is possible outside her virtual world.
When the two friends become roommates, Mia finds herself falling harder than she ever thought she could. But Eric keeps his desires locked away, unsure of himself and his ability to give his best friend what she deserves in a boyfriend. As her advances are continually spurned, Mia splits her time between Eric and her computer. But she soon realizes she’s about to lose the only real thing she’s ever had.

About Cassie Mae :)
Cassie Mae is a nerd to the core from Utah, who likes to write about other nerds who find love. She’s the author of the Amazon Bestsellers REASONS I FELL FOR THE FUNNY FAT FRIEND and HOW TO DATE A NERD, and is the debut author for the Random House FLIRT line with her New Adult novels FRIDAY NIGHT ALIBI and SWITCHED. She spends time with her angel children and perfect husband who fan her and feed her grapes while she clacks away on the keyboard. Then she wakes up from that dream world and manages to get a few words on the computer while the house explodes around her. When she’s not writing, she’s spending time with the youth in her community as a volleyball and basketball coach, or searching the house desperately for chocolate.

The Big Reveal

March 20th, 2014by Suzi

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.

This is my last posting of The Big Reveal for a while. I’m participating
in the A to Z Challenge, and I don’t want the posts to get lost among all the others.
Since this is the last post from this group, it was an easy break
to make. I’ll be back in May with a new set of writers, but I haven’t made
up my list of whom to ask. If you’re a writer and are interested in being a part
of my posts, let me know at literaryengineer (@) yahoo (dot) com.

So thank you to all the writers for participating. It was fun to get to know you all better.

Are you a big reader?



Kyra Lennon
I only read about 30 books last year, which was a massive disappointment. I got so busy with work, time to read fell by the wayside. I’m not doing brilliantly this year so far, either. I’ve read two books that weren’t work related. I need to pick up speed again!


Manda Pepper
One to two books a month, so about 24 a year. I used to read closer to 60-100 but had to cut back when I began writing full time.


Medeia Sharif
I try to read every day and I tend to read three books on average a week.


Rachel Schieffelbein
It depends on what I’m reading. I love middle grade books, especially MG fantasy, and of course I can get through a lot more of them in a month than if I’m reading YA or adult books. On average I’d say three books a month, though.


Ilima Todd
It’s sporadic, and usually only between projects or writing goals, but I average about 50 books a year, almost one a week. A lot of those are critiques for other writers and books for my book club that I’d probably otherwise never read.


Janeal Falor
Not nearly as much as I’d like. I try and read a book a week when I’m writing/editing heavily, which has been all the time lately. When I’m not as busy with writing, I can read about 4-6 books a week. My speed reading allows me to devour books when I have the time. It’s a skill I wish I could share with everyone. Reading is the best!


Julie Sondra Decker
My reading has been dreadful lately due to increasing responsibilities on my own work and all the stuff I’m having to do surrounding publication. But I did make a New Year’s resolution to read more in 2014! I read less than a book a month last year. This year I have no set number but want to try to make time for reading at least an hour nearly every day.

How often do you read?

An Inside Look – Part II

March 16th, 2014by Suzi

Last week, I had Julie S. Decker on my blog to talk about her experience as being a mentor for the Pitch Wars contest. See here for that post. This week, she’s talking about the problems and issues she saw with submissions, which would be helpful for someone querying since her advice is similar to what agents say.
So what were the most common problems with the Pitch Wars Submissions?

The most common problem in queries was lack of trajectory. Many queries failed to tell me about their story arc, and that’s very important in a query. I found a lot of vagueness, like “she must find herself” or “in a race against time, they must succeed before it’s too late” without giving me a clear understanding of what the characters want/need and what will happen if they don’t get it done. I also found that too much detail was a problem, and occasionally I would see explanations of themes or morals that didn’t need to be there. And some authors praised themselves in their queries, told me irrelevant details about their writing process, or included inappropriate personal details.

In the writing samples, the most common problem was infodumping on page one. When I saw awkward recitations of background details or people having conversations that were clearly contrived to convey context to the reader, I froze up and disengaged. Readers should never feel that the characters are standing still while the author lectures. Books need to begin when something is beginning–something we want to watch. It’s a delicate balance to suggest the characters and world have history and depth without halting the story to tell us about it, but that’s why writing is an art! Other problems included failure to get us invested in the characters, “telling” me a character’s attributes instead of showing me, and spelling/grammar/punctuation errors.

I did get a few weirdly categorized books–like projects that were pitched as YA to one mentor but NA to me for some reason–and a few people sent me things I specifically identified as NOT my style in my bio (horror, category romance, stories where women characters are objectified or killed for the sake of the male hero having “motivation”). I think most of the people who didn’t follow directions just didn’t realize that they weren’t allowed to send manuscripts to someone who wasn’t taking their category, but other than that people were good about following the directions.

One thing I’ve always wondered about with these contests is whether the judges (or agents) feel that the submissions were ready for querying. Of course that’s subjective, and part of Pitch Wars was to work with a mentor to prepare the submission, but what did you see, Julie? Were a lot of them query-ready or did they need a lot of work?

I thought most of what I received wasn’t polished enough to get an agent. Sometimes that was just a query issue but usually it was the pages. I’d say around 20% of what I got was definitely not close to ready, and 80% of it (including that 20%) probably needs quite a bit of work (though some might be close enough that an agent will give an R&R or offer representation and then give pointers). Then maybe around 20% of the submissions I received had both a decent query and decent pages which made me think they will do well with agents if they query. Some, I found out, haven’t started querying at all yet. Even the folks I picked for my top three need some help, though there were a couple in my top ten that I didn’t pick for personal reasons and still think they will do well with agents. In a couple cases I have even mentioned that I might be willing to set up a referral even though I didn’t pick them. I don’t do that often though.

I’ve been in several contests over the years, and I can definitely say that I wasn’t ready for some of them. It’s hard not to jump into contests because you’re so excited about getting your story presented to agents, but it’s best to wait and make sure it’s polished and ready.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about contests in general?

I think any author entering a contest should do it more for the experience than the prize. The mentee I chose actually volunteered to me during our first conversation that he was primarily interested in forming relationships with other writers and trying to expand his team of willing beta readers and critique partners. Even if you’re not chosen, you can really enjoy the community and form relationships with others in it, and start following their blogs and learning about their lives s/o you begin to build a network of people with similar interests and similar aspirations.
Thanks for stopping by, Julie. It was interesting to hear about your experiences. For prospective judges, I’d definitely recommend looking into the time commitments before you volunteer. And for contestants, don’t jump into contests until you know you’re ready.
Anybody out there want to be a judge/mentor for a contest? Despite all the work, I think it would be fun, but obviously for me, I’m not quite qualified yet to be a judge or mentor.

Two Today

March 14th, 2014by Suzi

Today I’ve got two cover reveals by my good friend, Rachel Schieffelbein.

The first book, Don’t Fall, is being published by Swoon Romance. There are three options, and you can vote for your favorite cover.

The other cover reveal is for Over the Ocean, which Rachel–writing as Georgia St. Mane–is self-publishing. It’s got the cutest cover ever, so make sure you scroll down after you vote.

Here they are…

Don’t Fall
Release Date: 2014
Swoon Romance
Summary from Goodreads::
In which a teenage girl endures the over-protective love of her adoptive
mother until she falls for a boy who has her wanting to spread her wings,
pitched as a contemporary retelling of RAPUNZEL.

Anya leads a very secluded life in a house on the edge of town with her adopted
mother. She doesn’t go to school, but instead has a private tutor. Her
over-protective mom keeps her so sheltered that she doesn’t even have a best

But Anya doesn’t seem to mind. She has her books, her photography, and her
daydreams, and would do anything to please her mom. Until one day at the
library, the only place she’s allowed to go, she takes a picture of a beautiful

Before long she’s lying to her mom, and sneaking out late at night to meet
Zander. But Zander wants more than a secret romance. If Anya wants to be with
the boy of her dreams, she will have to risk her relationship with the only
other person she’s ever cared about.

Swoon Romance wants you to help
them decide the cover for Don’t Fall!
They have three lovely cover options for you to choose from.  Please vote below on your favorite cover!
Which cover do you like better?
Option #1
Option #2
Option #3

Poll Maker

Option #1:
Designed by, photograph by Beth Mitchell
Option #2: Photographed
and designed by Laura Lanning

Option #3:
Designed by Anna Zaffke, photo from  Aleshyn_Andrei

About the Author
Rachel grew up in a tiny town in Minnesota. She still lives there, with her husband and their four kids. She coaches high school speech and theater, rides Arabian horses, reads as much as she can, and writes stories.


Author Links:

And now…

Over the Ocean by Georgia St. Mane (Rachel Schieffelbein)

When Bree meets Logan, and hears his oh-so-sexy British accent, it’s lust at first sight.

Bree thinks Logan feels the same way, especially when they’re snuggled up on her couch with his tongue down her throat. But when Logan decides that getting into a relationship when he only has a few months left in the States is a bad idea, Bree agrees to be “just friends.”

But every time he flashes his swoon-worthy smile, complete with dimples, Bree has a hard time keeping her thoughts in the “friend zone.”

Over the Ocean at Goodreads

The Big Reveal

March 13th, 2014by Suzi

Welcome to the Big Reveal

I enjoy reading author interviews, but often times they don’t ask the kinds
of questions I wonder about. So I’ve assembled a group of writers at
all levels, from un-agented to published, and every week I will
have a new question for them.

Are you artistic in other ways in addition to writing?


Julie Sondra Decker
Yes. I enjoy drawing (though I’m not professional level at it), and I draw two webcomics—one is a silly manga-style color strip comic about being a writer (updates monthly), and the other is a long-form story comic drawn in pencil (updates weekly–it has been going on for nearly nine years). I also enjoy singing, and majored in music with voice as my instrument. I like making up and performing harmony parts to others’ songs, and I do a lot of karaoke, though I also enjoy singing classical art songs. My website building, home decorating, and baking may also count as creative activities, but I do them to a lesser extent.


Kyra Lennon
A little, I guess. I used to love making jewelry until I ran out of time to do it. But I was pretty decent at it!


Manda Pepper
I paint a little. When words won’t come, I find painting is another good way to get my emotions out. I also love to take photographs, though I’m not even an amateur—that is, I don’t have a bunch of fancy equipment, just my iPhone. I used to sing and act, too, but now I sing only for myself and acting isn’t something I get the chance to do much.


Medeia Sharif
I sometimes paint and sketch. I also enjoy graphic design.


Rachel Schieffelbein
I wish I was more artistic. I do enjoy photography, mostly photographing people. I love the challenge of trying to capture their personality on film. But that’s it. I can’t draw or paint or anything like that. My nine-year-old is seriously more artistic than I am.


Ilima Todd
I’d say yes but I should really say I used to be, only because I don’t spend time on other creative things besides writing now. I used to enjoy decorating and sewing quite a bit, and maybe I’ll break out the sewing machine for Halloween costumes and Easter dresses, but that’s about it these days.


Janeal Falor
While I like tinker on the piano some and doodle (poorly), I’m not very artistic outside of writing. I do like to work on computer graphics, using the skills I’ve learned to make covers and fun things to go with my books, but those skills are limited.


Are you artistic or creative in other ways?