Magic and Mermaids: The Fiction of Marsha A. Moore

This week I welcome Marsha A. Moore to the blog. Marsha writes fiction on a wide variety of subjects.

I notice that you have a mermaid series. Could you tell us what inspired you to choose that subject?

I enjoy reading/researching fantasy written through the ages in folktales, myth, legend, and lore. My library of those is constantly growing. I often blend ideas of folklore from around the world into my works.

During the winter of 2008-9, I moved my mother from NW Ohio to Tampa. It didn’t take much to convince me to stay through the winter to help her get settled before I moved my own household the following summer. When I learned about the annual Tampa Gasparilla Festival, I was enthralled and a pirate captain, a mermaid, and a merman became the characters of my writing. Local legends and folklore of the famed pirate Jose Gaspar inspired me to write my fantasy romance book, Tears on a Tranquil Lake, which released earlier this year. The sequel, Tortuga Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy, will release in January, 2012.

My latest release I’m promoting is an historical fantasy about the big-top circus in the 1920s.

Tell me more about Le Cirque de Magie. What inspired you to write that story?

When we first moved to the Tampa area three years ago, we toured the Ringling Museum in Sarasota—a fascinating trip back into the magic of the circus. The spirit of the circus pervades the community, adding to the local cultural heritage. As a hub of circus activity for over seventy-five years, the city has earned the title, “Home of the American Circus.” No other area in the country has served as home base to as many circuses as Sarasota. I was fascinated by the local history, which inspired me to write this story.

Tell me more about Ravi’s magical abilities.
Ravi is a character based upon Sanskrit folklore. He is an Asura god—a human who now possesses magical power or maya. Specifically, Ravi is a Suparna or sun-bird, who receives his powers from the sun. That much is based on Sanskrit legend. In my story, he is a human who can sprout wings and fly when he wishes. The stars give him guidance, and he can channel the sun’s energy through his eyes in various ways.

Add anything you’d like to say about this story.

I enjoy combining topics that interest me in unusual ways. I’ve been a yoga addict for twelve years, and the Indian culture fascinates me, their gods and goddesses. I enjoy studying folklore and legends from this culture. I also love the magical illusion of the circus, as well as nostalgia for the simple pleasures of visiting the traveling big-top show when I was very young. This story combines those interests in a way that explores my new environment in Florida. Those three elements in the story are parts of my regular life.

What books do you have planned for future writing/publication?

In January, I have a fantasy romance novel, Tortuga Treasure: Ciel’s Legacy, releasing from MuseItUp Publishing. This is a sequel to Tears on a Tranquil Lake, in a series about the adventures of a mermaid named Ciel. It involves plenty of fast action and romance, but also allows Ciel to mature through her interactions with the mermaid and pirate communities.

I’m eager to self-publish an epic fantasy romance series, Enchanted Bookstore Legends, I’ve been working on for a year and a half. It is a five-part series, and books one and two are written. The first will release in March, 2012.

As a writer, do you plot extensively, or do you let the story come to you as you write?

I create a detailed outline to make certain I have the correct turning points spaced properly to allow adequate development. I know the major events each chapter must contain. From that, it flows openly with details falling into place. Without some freedom as I write, a lot of the rush of getting swept away by the story would be lost.

What other creative outlets do you explore?

I paint and draw. The cover image for Le Cirque De Magie is my own original watercolor. I’ve wanted to paint my own covers for many years, and with a self-published work I gain the satisfaction of meeting that goal which working with a publisher hasn’t allowed.

Also, I love cycling and ride at least thirty miles each week. During the past year, I’ve been learning kayaking—it’s wonderful! I kayak each week on the big lagoon beyond our backyard which connects to Tampa Bay. I love the beach—can’t possibly be there enough. I write at the beach, longhand in notebooks.

Do you find that having more than one outlet enhances your writing?
Definitely. I draw from all of my interests to feed both my writing content and creative process.

Why Indie?

Like I mentioned, it is fun for me to have more control over my cover design. Also, there is a unique satisfaction that the product is more representative of me, my vision and my creativity.

What advice would you give people considering diving into writing (or into any creative endeavor)?

You must enjoy writing for its own intrinsic value, aside from publishing. One of my favorite quotes: “Don’t seek to be published, seek to be read.” ~Tracy Hickman

This quote helps me take a deep breath and refocus when the publishing industry overwhelms me. Some days it seems like a chaotic mess, expecting me to be capable of the incapable. Maintaining this perspective on a simple, clear goal helps me disregard the muck and consider what is really important–writing for the enjoyment of readers.
This space for anything else you want to say.

The circus is a blur of commotion with last minute preparations for the spring tour. Ravi, the high-wire heart throb, becomes jittery when he meets the company’s newly-hired female dwarf. Hours before departure, his magical perceptions are on fire as he witnesses her involvement in a gory bump off.

The circus manager can’t be found. Ravi is desperate to protect his sweetheart and performing partner, Alice. The train creaks away, beginning the long journey with danger stowed on board. Nicknamed the Great Birdman, Ravi steps forward and exposes his true identity—a real risk during edgy, vigilante times of prohibition. A brave move—but will his Suparna abilities be enough to snuff out this fierce demon?

Le Cirque De Magie Excerpt:

Before the evening show, he dressed early and patrolled the grounds. Nothing appeared suspicious outside, so he stood between sets of bleachers, watching for trouble during the performances. Again, Sadie missed her cue. It seemed too easy for her to give up at his warning—demons liked to fight.

Clowns, trained dogs, unicyclists, and fire-eaters all came and went without issue. Alice was in his sight, in the watchful company of her brother and the manager. Aromas of buttered popcorn and spun cotton candy mixed with animal odors—the typical circus smell. Nothing odd. He looked through the crowd for the dwarf. Instead of finding her, the number of children in the audience impressed him. All those smiling, young faces he must keep safe.

After a deep breath, he refocused, looking for any strange happening in the rings. Clown acts took the right and left rings. In the center, the snake charmer and his assistant wheeled out carts of large rush baskets. Three would contain his Naga friends. Upon the sweet notes of the charmer’s wooden flute, lids of the baskets opened and ropes danced up in response to his calls. Henry, Walter, and Gladys actually controlled those ropes, using their magic to extend them above their bodies. Ravi seldom watched the shows anymore. In full costume, the act came off well, a crowd-pleaser earning lots of cheers.

Tigers growled and pawed the wagon bed of their holding cage as it rolled in behind where Ravi stood. Sensing his magic, they clawed the bars nearest him, creating a spectacle.

Blocked from leaving by the animal wagon and not wanting to walk in front of the crowd, he climbed into the stands. When at last he found a seat, chaos ensued in the center ring.

The Nagas crawled in all directions, writhing and coiling. Above them a white bird with a forked, black tail swooped—a kite. It struck the snake people with both its talons and beak. The charmer, his assistant, and half a dozen other men ran around frantically. Some waved large nets on poles to catch the bird, and others yelled in various languages.
How did the raptor get into the ring?

Ravi jumped to his feet, again wrestling to control his outward appearance.

Soon everyone around him stood, craning to see the ruckus.

The snakes hissed and struck, but the bird soared out of reach. In one ill-fated attempt, Henry missed and bit the shoulder of his trainer.

The men dropped their nets and kneeled beside the wounded man. They slapped his hands and cheeks. It was too late. Few knew the snake people possessed real, deadly venom.

The kite continued to torment Gladys, despite her attempts to slither under a cart. Her snake tail hung limp, wounded. Was that bird another form of the dwarf?

The tigers roared and flung themselves at their cage walls. Spectators screamed and rushed down the steps to leave. The rickety bleachers swayed with the frenzy of motion.

Ravi’s wing tips burst out of the slits in his costume at his shoulder blades. The tangle of people stopped him from getting to the ring, so he climbed atop the handrail and lifted into flight.

Someone high in the stands cried out, “Birdman!”

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Dreams Come True: Interview with Camelia Miron Skiba

My guest this week is Camelia Miron Skiba. She grew up dreaming that anything is possible as long as you want it badly enough.” For a blog about the power of creativity, no statement could be more appropriate. I hope you will be inspired by this interview.

Would you describe yourself as a creative child? Did you make up stories or express creativity in other ways? And how would you say that growing up in Romania, under a Communist regime, affected your creative growth?

Growing up under communism stripped us of many things—pride to be a Romanian, loyalty to a government that was busy fattening up their accounts rather than protecting its citizens, belonging to a nation older than most nations in Europe—but what it didn’t take away from us was the freedom to dream and be creative.

Without electricity and food we learned to entertain ourselves making up games and toys. My sisters and I had one doll each. Summer vacations were spent in remote villages where we weren’t allowed to take our dolls for fear they might be destroyed. Empty boxes and sticks then became our toy dishes. Corn replaced our dolls, sometimes taking us hours walking between rows of corn to pick the perfect doll. Blond or redhead, the longer the hair (meaning the silk on the corn) the better. Twigs formed the limbs. My mom’s aunt used to be a seamstress and her leftover fabrics made for awesome clothing. Dirt and water was the best dessert our dolls had ever tasted. Leaves made for perfect beds where princesses slept until knights came to rescue them…
In looking back, they might’ve resembled anything, but dolls. But to us they meant as much as to a girl playing with her first Barbie.

I might not have had an abounding childhood, but I definitely grew up creating heavenly worlds, and dreaming that anything is possible as long as you want it badly enough. I should know that—I now live the American dream.

Your creativity as a child was so beautifully expressed. As a child, did you also write stories and/or dream of becoming a writer? If not, when did this dream become compelling? What did it take for you to realize it?

There is no other way to say other than: as a child I sucked at writing. Period. I always looked for ways out to escape going to school (eating chalk to fake fever, tons of ice cubes for sore throat, etc—thank God my mom doesn’t read English, otherwise she’d wrinkle her brows at me for all the lies I’ve told her).

On the other hand, my older sister Lumi wrote a love story while in high school. I got sucked in from the first page and fell in love with the heroes. I laughed with them, cried with them, felt my heart melt at the sight of them, lived life through their eyes. Unfortunately my sister hid the notebook so well I couldn’t find it again and I often wonder if they had the happily-ever-after ending.

Since then all I’ve done was to create stories in my head, heroes and heroines looking for love and eventually finding it. Well, fast-forward 20 years later, my son asked me one summer day what were my childhood dreams. I told him about the love story my sister had written and how much I wished I could do it. He said, “Why wouldn’t you? You have nothing to be afraid of. Just sit and write.” For some reason his trust, his words compelled me to do it.

And here I stand with one book published, a second one to be released end of this year and several other stories outlined. Yes, I can do it.

What a moving story about your son. I can sense how important he is in your life.
Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems safe to say that the idea of writing romances has drawn you since you read your sister’s story. I also imagine that growing up in a very unromantic environment, i.e., Communist Romania, may have heightened your desire to imagine a more emotionally fulfilling world.
Getting down to the basics of writing, how fully do you outline before you are ready to write? What kind of research is necessary for your books? Do you find that the characters sometime or often guide you in the story, dialogue, etc?

My son means the world to me. Without his encouragements each time I doubt myself, without his shoulder to cry on when I can’t find my words, none of my stories would’ve been on paper.

My debut novel “Hidden Heart” took me only three months to write the first draft. That was back in 2009. Then I put it aside, starting another story. In parallel I took several online creative writing classes, read lots of books about the English grammar, sentence structure (English is my third language, so I had a lot of learning to do). Then I went back to my first draft and picked it apart, chapter for chapter. With the help of my amazing critique group (at that time only Cindy C Bennett and Jeffery Moore, now we added a new member, Sherry Gammon) I finished a second draft. I had then found three other people who very graciously agreed to read and edit the book. “Hidden Heart” was ready for publishing and saw the printing light seven months ago, end of March.

Since then I went back to finish the story I started while taking the break from “Hidden Heart.” It’s a contemporary war romance titled “A World Apart”, half of the story set in my native Romania, the other half in Iraq. Let me tell you, this has been an experience beyond anything I have ever imagined. We all know what war means—attacks, explosions, army, wounds, victims, etc—but to have a believable story I had to read lots of military documents, learn the acronyms they use. To make it even harder, both my heroine and my hero are doctors, which means I had to switch gears and learn a lot of medical terms, medical lingo, etc. I watched lots of documentaries portraying the Iraq war as well as war movies. I think I spent more time doing research than actually writing the story.

As for my characters … well, sometime they really misbehave. Not the “Hidden Heart” protagonists. They’ve been so eager to leave the small confinement of my brain, they were happy with their story. But the “A World Apart” ones, oh, boy!, talk about stubbornness at its core and class A negotiators—it’s either their way or they don’t talk to me. I had a secondary character set to die, but I had to change the story, otherwise the main characters were done, as they so (ungraciously) put it. The novel was on standby for a month until I gave up, threw my hands in the air and let them have it. I wrote five chapters in less than a week!

How I know those characters who insist on running the show, and I am very grateful for them. I can only imagine the vast amount of research you had to do.
I’d like to hear your thoughts on choosing the path of an independent author. Do you feel a great freedom in choosing subject matter, for instance?

Absolutely! Since I’m a controlling freak choosing self-publishing route was the best-suited venue for me. I write what I want and how I want. My critique group influences me, but they don’t alter the story. I’m in complete control over book size, format, cover, price, where it’s distributed, marketing, everything. I choose how many books a year I want to write, and determine my own publishing dates. To sum it all, I run my own show.

I’ve learned so much about you and your writing habits. Thanks for being so forthcoming. Are there any last remarks you’d like to make?

Thanks for having me over, Connie. Really enjoyed it.

For more information about Camelia, please visit her website

Her first novel “Hidden Heart” came out in March 2011. Her second novel “A World Apart” is coming out in December 2011.
Hidden Heart can be found at:

Barnes & Nobles


Interview with Author Mike Cooley

Mike Cooley, a 9-to-5 engineering consultant, musician, Egypt enthusiast, and husband and father, tells us how these various factors influence his writing.

Since my blog is about creativity, I’m especially interested in your creative process as a writer and also how you came to develop and believe in your creativity.

I consider my creativity and imagination to be my strongest abilities as a writer. My process has evolved over time from just having a basic idea or concept (“What if?”) and building a story around it to being more organized and character-driven. Until last year I was primarily a short story writer. I grew up reading science fiction and fantasy books, which fueled my imagination. I am attracted to writing that is very visual and deals with the nature of existence, so I try to incorporate some of those things in my own writing.

Would you describe yourself as a creative child? Did you make up stories or express creativity in other ways?

I think my parents would say I was off the charts with creativity and curiosity. I was always taking things apart and putting them back together.

My Dad loves to tell the story about when I bought my first computer (Apple II+) and the next day I had it completely apart. He was astonished when I put it back together and it still worked. I read every science fiction and fantasy book in the library while I was in grade school, and took Creative Writing (mostly because I wanted to avoid Speech Class). I wrote short stories and poetry as well. I taught myself electronics and used to build all kinds of circuits.

What inspired you to write your first book?

I started my first novel many years ago. I’ve always had a love for “artifact” stories, so I wanted to write a novel that was about magical artifacts (in this case crystals) that each had unique powers. I am also very fond of strong female characters so I wanted the story to revolve around a female warrior that would be able to use the crystals. I was excited about writing a novel set in a world that had no ties to Earth, so I could make everything up from scratch.

You’re a musician as well as an author. Do you find that these creative paths affect each other in distinct ways?

Very much so. My music is all original and I primarily operate as a one-man band. I find music to be inspiring in many ways, and I find that writing lyrics IS storytelling. It’s just a lot more like poetry than novels. I think that writing music has taught me that sometimes the things you don’t say can be as important as the things you do say. You don’t have to say everything and spell everything out. Let the reader (or listener) write some of the story in their own head.

I notice your interest in Egypt. How does this involvement feed into your creative paths?

The trip to Egypt was completely due to my wife’s involvement in Middle Eastern Dance (she’s a belly dancer and instructor). I was not that enthused about going, but it was a rather amazing place. I’m glad I went. I’m writing a non-fiction book about it now called Before The Revolution – 13 Days In Egypt. I have many ties to Egypt even predating the trip.

One of my good friends had a music site called Anubes (spelled differently on purpose) where a small group of us used to hang out and work on our craft. I have worn an Eye of Horus ring for many years (along with a Thor’s Hammer necklace). That’s kind of the way I am. I don’t play by the rules.

I find various mythologies fascinating. And I experienced things in Egypt that I carry with me. It is a powerful place emotionally and intellectually.

What are your literary influences?

I have many influences. And I’ve met many writers at science fiction conventions over the years. To name just a few of my favorites, I would say: Phillip K. Dick, James Tiptree Jr., Roger Zelanzy, Theodore Sturgeon, H.P. Lovecraft, Samuel Delany, Stephen King, and Harlan Ellison. That should give you a flavor for the kind of writing I’m drawn toward.

You work as an engineering consultant during the day and write at night. How do you switch gears?

It’s not easy. The biggest challenge for me is finding time to write. I’m so busy at work and at home that often, by the time I have an hour to write, I’m too tired to concentrate. If I have time to sit down, I can fall right back into the story pretty easy. I also tend to work on three or four writing projects at a time, so I switch around a lot. I’m a terrible single-tasker, but I multi-task well. I used to get upset at not being able to concentrate on one thing at a time, but now I just accept that that is how I am and deal with it.

How does having a child in your life enhance your creativity?

Kieran constantly reminds me of the most important thing about storytelling: capturing the sense of wonder. He is so unlike me in many ways. He’s much more social than I ever was. And he needs that social feedback and support. I was a loner as a kid, and it really didn’t bother me that I didn’t fit in. It was a source of pride for me that I was different.

He is a good example for me and I draw things from his words and actions that sometimes end up in the more playful characters I write.

Do you feel that being an indie writer gives you greater scope for your creativity and literary imagination

I absolutely feel that being an indie is where I was meant to be. My story is my story. I feel very strongly about that.
Other than spelling and grammar editing, I WANT to be on the line for every word I write. I am happy that I’m not locked into deadlines (other than the ones I impose on myself), and I love that I can write in multiple genres if I want to. I cover a lot of my reasoning in my non-fiction rant Traditional Publishing Is My Bitch.

What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to express his/her creative urges?

My advice is: life is short to not do what you love. Don’t be afraid to fail. Somewhere out there are readers that will instantly understand what you are saying. They will hang on every word and make you proud. You are good enough.

And you will get better. Without risk there is no reward. Just do it! Don’t make me come over there!

Now that you’ve met Mike, get to know his work.

The Crystal Warrior: Legend of the Crystals.

Skin of Giants

Visit him at

and at Twitter: @last_writes

Interview with Cheryl Shireman

Cheryl is a prolific best-selling writer who has harnessed her creativity to produce compelling fiction and nonfiction. But that’s enough of telling. In her interview, she vividly describes her methods for keeping creative energy flowing.

Since my blog is about creativity, I’m especially interested in your creative process as a writer and also how you came to develop and believe in your creativity.

Would you describe yourself as a creative child? Did you make up stories or express creativity in other ways?

I was an only child and if an only child wants to play, they very often have to be creative. I spent a lot of time outside exploring our yard. It was only two acres, but the back of the property used to be a peach orchard, so there were old peach trees to climb and lots of room to roam. Inside the house, I used to play “farm animals” a lot. Farm animals were cheap little plastic animals that you could buy in a bag at any grocery store. I set up fences for them and created worlds where a family took care of their horse ranch during the day and also had time to visit the dinosaur farm and zoo right down the road.

What inspired you to write your first book, Life is But a Dream?

One day I started thinking about how our lives are often defined by our circumstances and we can make informed and empowered decisions, or we can merely float along. I wondered what would happen to a woman who suddenly lost everything that defined her life. I imagined a woman who has given her life to others. She is a devoted wife and mother, but when her husband files for divorce and her daughter leaves for college, she realizes her own life no longer has meaning. Just to make it even more interesting, I wanted the main character to be in unfamiliar surroundings so I placed her, Grace Adams, in a secluded lake cabin. Then I started writing, watching as Grace’s life unfolded before me. It was a lot of fun to write and I came to really love Grace.

Your own main character is highly creative when it comes to dreaming up things to fear. What interested you about developing that character?

I think we all have fears; Grace just has a tendency to allow those fears to take form in her mind, creating problems that may never arise. She can also be quite funny in her musings. I love being able to get into such a character’s mind. I have received many emails from readers telling me they love Grace and can relate to her. I just received one the other day from a reader who told me that she lost sleep over her book because she stayed up until three in the morning to finish it! That is the ultimate compliment for a writer.

What methods do you use to enhance your creativity (i.e., certain music, total solitude, etc.)?

I like to write the first thing in the morning, when I am as close to the sleep state as possible. I pull on the most comfortable clothes I can find (usually one of my husband’s sweatshirts, a baggy pair of yoga pants, and an old pair of hiking socks), wad my hair up in a ponytail, and start writing. For years I wrote in longhand, but now I do all of my writing on my laptop. I have a desk, but I like to write on a couch with my feet up on an ottoman. Comfort is important. I also like solitude and silence. If I have any music on, it is usually soft classical music like Vivaldi. I can’t listen to any music with words when I write. It is distracting. As the writing gets intense, I may even turn that off. I also love to write for long periods of time whenever possible. When I am writing, I very often work ten or twelve hours a day. These are my ideal writing conditions now, but as a mother of three, I seldom had those. I once wrote in a Chucky Cheese while my kids played nearby with probably fifty other kids. Now, that’s concentration!

How do you get yourself back in motion when you get stuck?

I don’t get stuck. I don’t believe in writer’s block. Even when the words don’t want to come, I write something. It might be notes, or brainstorming, or words that I will end up deleting, but I keep writing because you never know when a gem might be discovered. But I also believe in the value of long hot baths when the writing seems to be a mere trickle instead of a constant flow.

Do you feel that being an indie writer gives you greater scope for your creativity and literary imagination?

I love being an indie writer! I have total freedom to write the books that I want to write. I am now working with a professional editor and really feel this is the very best situation for me. I have just rereleased the professionally edited version of my first novel (now titled Life Is But a Dream: On the Lake) and am about to release the edited version of my second novel, Broken Resolutions. I hope to release the second of the Grace Adams Series this fall. And then I will start a new novel after the first of the year that I am already very excited about. The ability to publish independently has opened a whole new world for me. I am living my dreams.

What advice would you give someone who is hesitant to express his/her creative urges?
Nike said it better than I can – Just do it. I believe everyone is born with a purpose. There is a reason you are on this earth. If you have creative urges, they are there for a reason. Don’t ignore them. Nurture them and bring them to fruition. It won’t be easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is. Your talent, your creativity, is unique to only you. If you don’t express it, it will never be expressed, and the world will be a poorer place. Just do it.

Amazon Links

Life is But a Dream: On the Lake

Broken Resolutions

You Don’t Need a Prince: A Letter to My Daughter