Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Welcome, Joyce Hertzoff

Hi Joyce, welcome to my blog, and congratulations on the launch of your book, The Crimson Orb. I’ve read it and highly recommend it to readers of all ages.

Have you always been a writer, Joyce?

No. Well, not a fiction writer. I spent forty-five years in the scientific information field, writing summaries of journal articles and translating scientific papers and books. I participated in the transition from print to digital publication and the development of searchable databases. The last twenty years of that career, I managed groups of scientists doing that work. I only turned to writing fiction when I retired in 2008.

How did you feel when you were offered a contract for your book series?

Elated! Ecstatic! I never thought I'd ever see my writing published. My publisher, Assent Publications, has been a joy to work with, and the imprint editor for Phantasm Books is incredibly knowledgeable about marketing and promotion.

Did you set out to write a series or did it just happen?

It just happened. The story of The Crimson Orb was gestating in my head for years. I finally started writing it in 2010 for National Novel Writing Month. As I revised it, I fell in love with my characters and realized there was much more of their story I wanted to tell.

What is the genre of your book? Would you consider writing in other genres, like romance or even erotica?

My book is high fantasy. It has overtones of a post-apocalyptic world, romance, and adventure, with touches of science. I've written romance/mystery/thriller stories and I'm still working on those. I do draw the line at erotica. I can neither read nor write it.

What genre is your reading preference? Name four favorite authors.

I love mysteries, especially the ones by Lisa Scottoline, Marcia Muller, Leslie Glass, and Susan Dunlap. If I could name a fifth, it would be Dana Stabenow. I also love fantasy and science fiction.

What are you working on right now?

I'm polishing up book two of the Crystal Odyssey series, developing another fantasy series, and as I mentioned, working on a romance/thriller.

How do you juggle writing with family obligations?

My children are grown and live at opposite ends of the country. We spend about a week at a time with them, and I also love to travel with my husband. But I find time every day to work on my writing, usually when my husband is involved with one of his hobbies.

You mentioned Writer’s Village University in your acknowledgements. Would you tell us more about that?

A writing friend of mine suggested we both try the free survey course F2K a few years ago. I learned a lot from it and have retaken it a few times since.  That led me to try the courses and critique groups at the village. What a find! Not only did I learn from others and the course work and texts, but I made many new friends, including the wonderful writer, Leona Pence.

Thank you for the compliment, Joyce.  I truly enjoy the friendships I've made there too.

What makes Joyce Hertzoff tick? Makes her happy? Keeps her writing?

When I was in school, it wasn't cool for girls to like science and math, but those were the subjects I liked the most. Today, girls can choose any career they want. My passion is to encourage them in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programs. If I can do that with books about strong females who fight for the right to participate in male-dominated fields, then I'll be very happy. 

One Word Answers:
(a)  Writing area – neat or cluttered?  Cluttered.
(b) Coffee, tea, or Pepsi? Coffee, but at times only a good cuppa tea will do.
(c)  Favorite season?  Spring
(d) Cereal or omelet?  Omelet
(e)  Fiction or fact?  Fiction
(f)   Hosting or guesting? Guesting
(g) Editing or research?  Editing (my proofreader background likes to come out and play)
May we see an excerpt from The Crimson Orb?
I sat on a carved wooden bench in my favorite corner in the vegetable garden, watching the boys at their morning sword practice with my father and wishing I was out there with them. My brother Blane, nineteen years old and blond like Father, was easily besting the Duke's son Kerr, as he usually did.
My favorite of the pure black cats inhabiting the Manor jumped up on my lap, licked a paw, then curled up and promptly fell asleep. It was that kind of warm summer day when, if I wasn't with the boys, I didn't want to do anything more than sit in the shade of the old apple tree, inhaling its sweet scent. Since I was ten I've dreamed of learning to feint and parry, thrust and slice like Blane, Kerr, and my other brother Donal. But I'm a girl and it wasn't seemly.
Girls of ten to twenty were relegated to the sewing room, where Jannet, the governess and seamstress, taught us the fine art of needlepoint. I couldn't sew a straight line to save myself, and I really wasn't interested in learning. Our only other lessons were in the kitchens. Cook, whose name was Bridey although no one ever called her anything but 'Cook', not even her husband, taught us to boil an egg and make soup from whatever was available. That wasn't so bad, because we could eat what we made and no one else was the wiser when it tasted awful.


I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the City University of New York, and spent forty-five years in the scientific information publishing business as a translator, indexer, and, for twenty years, as a manager of other scientists. I saw the business go from printing of paper journals to electronic processing and production. In addition to enabling my staff to be productive and accurate as these changes occurred, I recruited staff, developed training materials, and taught workshops,

After retiring in 2008, I left fact-based writing behind and turned my efforts to fiction. I participated in the National Novel Writing program for the first time that year. I have continued to do that every year since, writing several mysteries and fantasy novels, and even finishing some of them, including The Crimson Orb, which was first written for NaNoWriMo in 2010. It gone through several revisions since.

I perfected my writing skills in classes and writing groups at Writers Village University. Classmates there have reviewed portions of this book. I served as a mentor intern for the F2K survey course on writing at WVU.

My flash mystery, Natural Causes, was published in the anthology The Darwin Murders. A longer short story, Princess Petra, appears in The Way Back.

I live with my husband of forty-nine years in the high desert at the base of the Sandia Mountains, where we can watch the quail, roadrunners and other creatures scamper along the top of the wall around our back patio, and the play of light across the mountain face.

Contact links:

 Buy links:
Amazon print (createspace):
 Amazon paperback:
 Amazon Kindle:
 Barnes and Noble for Nook:

Smashwords (temp for Apple, Kobo,  etc.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Luna, The Escape Artist

How many of you have a puppy who became an escape artist? I adopted a cute Spaniel mix puppy who changed my life, not to mention the money I’ve spent to keep her in my back yard. You should see her sail right over a 3 ½ foot chain link fence. Doesn't she look so sweet and innocent? This is her adoption picture. (not my yard)

Max and Sophie lived here for two years without jumping the fence. Of course, they could have, but I think they just respected their boundary. Max, an Australian Shepherd, and Sophie, a Pit Bull, belong to my granddaughter. After they left, I adopted Luna. 

We are in the process of erecting a six foot wooden privacy fence. All that remains to do is build the gates. Luna will once again have the run of the back yard.

Please tell me that it will contain her. I mean, six feet seems like along way for a dog to jump. Her agility amazes me though.  Will she dig under the fence?  God forbid.

If your dog is an escape artist, how did you solve your problem?

Sunday, April 13, 2014


This was originally posted on Mysti Parker's blog as part of her A to Z Challenge.

C is for Charcot-Marie-Tooth
Leona Pence

How many of you have heard of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT)? Named for three physicians (Jean –Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie from Paris, Howard Henry Tooth from Cambridge England) who identified it in 1886, CMT is one of the most common inherited neurological disorders, affecting 1 in 2500 in the United States. There are many forms of CMT, but the type I inherited is CMT1a. 

There are many people in my large extended family with CMT. To pass the gene, one parent must have the disease. There is a 50-50 chance of passing it on to their children. I am one of eight children, three of whom inherited the genetic flaw from our mother.

CMT affects peripheral nerves and muscles. As a result, my lower legs and feet, lower arms and hands are affected. By the time I was eleven, I’d had several surgeries on my feet to correct deformities. I walked with a limp and unsteady gait, but I had a fairly normal childhood. The worst part for me growing up was not having a diagnosis. My mom just said we had bad blood. School children could be cruel. They would ask why I walked funny and I couldn’t give them an answer.

A hearing loss is rare with CMT. However, my family, being rare, inherited that flaw too. My mom was deaf by the time I was born, and my brother was severely hard of hearing at an early age. My sister and I didn’t have hearing problems until our latter twenties. I am thankful I was able to complete my schooling before my hearing was affected. CMT is slowly progressive. By the time I was forty-five, I was both deaf and using a wheelchair. My hands/fingers are too weak for sign language, but I’m an excellent lip reader.

I got married to a wonderful man on my 19th birthday and raised four children with him. Our oldest son inherited CMT. We were given a diagnosis by the Muscular Dystrophy Association when he was in the third grade. At age forty-nine, he works as a microbiologist in Rochester, NY. He is deaf and uses a cane for balance.

My motto is: When life hands you lemons, make the best lemonade possible. I’ve tried to keep a positive outlook. CMT does not affect ones lifespan and can range from mild to severe. Since my hands are too weak to type, I wrote Hemphill Towers using the eraser end of a pencil. I now use an ipad stylus to type with to keep eraser goop out of my keyboard.

CMT is a complex topic. I hope you’ll click the above link to read more about it, and bear in mind that all people who walk with a staggering gait and hold onto walls are not drunk. They just might have CMT.
I don’t know if I’ve overcome obstacles or just worked the best I could with what life offered me. Losing my husband to lung cancer in 2006 was the hardest of all. But it forced me to turn to my computer to save my sanity. A big door to the world opened for me. I made more friends than I ever thought possible. Writing a novel and being a classroom mentor at F2K still boggles my mind at times.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kindle Books and Blog

Today, Hemphill Towers is featured on Kindle Books and Blog for $.99 at Amazon for a limited time. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tour

Come join me on my blog tour with Reading Addiction. January 20 is meet and greet the author. (ME!)

Virtual Book Tour  - January 20 - February 14

January 20 - Reading Addiction Blog Tours - Meet and Greet
January 21 - The Book Diva's Read - Excerpt
January 22 - D.E. Haggerty - Review
January 23 - A Life Through Books - Interview
January 24 - Books A to Z - Excerpt
January 25 - Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews - Excerpt
January 26 - Always Jo Art - Excerpt
January 27 - Unwritten - Interview
January 28 - All About Romance - Excerpt
January 29 - My Reading Addiction - Interview
January 30 - Kawehi's Book Blog - Review
January 31 - Mythical Books - Interview
February 1 - The Frugal Wife - Excerpt
February 2 - All in One Place - Review
February 3 - Indie Authors You Want to Read - Excerpt
February 4 - Pure Jonel - Review
February 5 - My Devotional Thoughts - Excerpt
February 6 - Ashley's Bookshelf - Review
February 7 - Indie Authors You Want to Read - Excerpt
February 8 - Books are Love - Review
February 9 - Andi's Book Reviews- Interview
February 9 - Books Direct - Interview
February 10 - Extraordinary Reads - Excerpt
February 11 - Unladylike Reviews - Review
February 12 - Must Read Faster - Excerpt
February 12-Trinas Tantilising Tidbits-Interview
February 13 - Trinas Tantilising Tidbits - Review
February 14 -RABT Reviews - Wrap Up

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Don't Let Things Get Ugly: Etiquette for Authors by Mysti Parker

Mysti Parker gave me permission to pass on these words of wisdom. Thank you, Mysti!
If you're an author, chances are that at some point you'll make a mistake somewhere along the marketing path. Indie or small press authors have to work even harder than traditionally published authors to keep their careers on the right path. Navigating the waters of public scrutiny is rather like a neverending job interview. You have to maintain a positive image and hold on to your umbrella of integrity, even when the rough winds of criticism threaten to blow it to Timbuktu.

Here are a few guidelines that may help you when it comes to author etiquette:
  1. Avoid asking others (especially fellow authors) to give you glowing reviews, and don't offer to trade glowing reviews either. If you do read your fellow authors' books and wish to review them on your own, make it clear that you will review honestly. When others review your books, stress that you expect honest reviews as well. 
  2. Do not respond to negative reviews. They can certainly make you wince at times, but at least the reader spent their time and effort to read and review what you've written. Respect that.
  3. When promoting your book and building your platform, be extremely wary of large social book websites like Goodreads, Amazon message boards, etc. If you are a member of any of these, simply list your books and use promotional tools within guidelines, but keep your personal interactions minimal. To communicate personally with readers, friends, and colleagues, stick to places where you have control of moderation, like a blog, website, and Facebook page.
  4. Please do NOT plug your book when writing book reviews or in anyone else's comment thread or group. If you belong to any groups on Facebook, Goodreads, or anywhere else, follow the specific rules for that group. If NO promo is allowed, then don't do it. There are plenty of promotional groups scattered throughout the online universe. Find them and utilize them. Otherwise, you're going to look like a shameless promoter.
  5. DO NOT send unsolicited emails, Facebook messages, etc to anyone about your book, neither to advertise it nor to ask for a review. No one likes getting spam. EXCEPTIONS: Sending out newsletters by email is perfectly acceptable, since the subscribers signed up willingly for your correspondence. Also, sending out book review requests to book review sites who accept unsolicited submissions is fine. 
  6. Utilize any acceptable resources you can in order to spread the word about your book. Put a link to your book/blog/website, etc in your email signature. Pay for advertisements in both print and online media. Hire a book promotion site to schedule a virtual book tour. The choices are endless.
Remember, you've worked hard for this. Don't derail it with bad author etiquette. Of course, you're proud of your book, and so you should be. There are a number of ways to share your book with the world, but do it right. If you make a mistake, make amends and move on. And most of all: KEEP WRITING!!! ~Myst

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Christmas Tale

 (At Mysti's House)


Leona Pence         
                                   'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, except Mysti's spouse.
He hung all the stockings on the mantel with care,
His children expected St Nick to be there.
Mysti had filled them almost to the top,
With candy, small toys and a bubble gum pop…
Bryan laughed as these thoughts flitted through his mind as he tried to slip the bulging stockings onto the hooks. Mysti had outdone herself this year. Matter of fact, the eggnog was better too. He turned and drained his third mug of the creamy brew before stepping back to appraise his handiwork. Perfect! He spread his arms, palms up in satisfaction.
He moved across the room to his recliner, and noticed the pitcher of eggnog sitting on the coffee table. He couldn't see any sense in wasting it. One more mug full wouldn't hurt. He relaxed in the comfy chair and let his eyes wander around the room taking in the twinkling lights on the Christmas tree and the brightly wrapped packages nestled beneath its branches.
Zachary would have a lot of fun with the Monster Truck, almost as much as he did when picking it out. Bryan couldn't remember if Mysti had given in to Meg's plea for a cell phone. All kids wanted their own phone in this day and age, but his wife wasn't happy about the idea. Zoe had the right idea. He could still remember his first Nintendo. It was used, and a far cry from the ones made now.
He drained his eggnog mug and poured up the last three inches from the pitcher. He'd have to tell Mysti how great it tasted. Ah, Mysti. She'd worked so hard making Christmas good for all of them. He had a gift of jewelry under the tree for her but she deserved something special. What could he do?
And then, it came to him. Viola! She'd been working on her book for hours on end. He drank half the delicious eggnog in his cup, How hard could it be to finish typing that book for her? He stood and had to grab on the chair to stay upright. He grinned at being so clumsy, but held on to the furniture until he got to Mysti's computer desk and landed heavily in the chair. Thank goodness Mysti left her computer turned on.
How in the world did she get any work done on this blurry screen? It took him ten minutes to bring up her novel file. He squinted his eyes and read the last page she'd written. Elves and dragons. He could write about them in his sleep just by pretending he was playing a video game.
Bryan typed and typed, stopped to laugh at what he'd written, and typed some more. He decided to bring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs into the story to help the elves. Surely elves and dwarves were related and would help each other. Finally, with a satisfied gasp, he typed The End.
He printed out the whole manuscript to wrap and put under the tree. Good grief, the wrapping paper kept wrinkling and he couldn't get the tape to hold it together. Oh well, it wasn't the wrapping that counted. He hoped the pages had numbers though; he'd dropped them twice while looking for the tape.
It felt so good knowing Mysti would be happy that her book was finished. He swayed as he carried his package toward the tree. He gasped and fell backwards onto the couch. St. Nick stood before the mantel adding more gifts and candy to the stockings. The manuscript slid out of Bryan's grasp and fell to the floor. Santa turned and his smile lit up the room like a bright sunny day. He walked over and picked up the manuscript, held it high above his head, and murmured a few unintelligible words. He lowered his hands so Bryan could see a beautiful hardback book with an amazing design. A touch of his finger covered the gift in an embossed gold wrapping with curls of rainbow ribbon gracing the top.
 "Merry Christmas, Bryan…and to all a goodnight"
Bryan fell back on the couch and drifted into a deep sleep. The next thing he knew, Mysti was shaking him awake. He rubbed his eyes and sat up. Oh my God, what a dream he'd had. Mysti would kill him if he'd actually touched her work. Before he could tell her his dream, the kids bounded in to see what Santa had left for them.
He watched as Mysti passed out the gifts from under the tree. The children squealed in delight as they opened their packages. Then, Mysti looked at her own gifts. She held up the gold embossed package and smiled up at him. His eyes bugged out and his mouth dropped open. When she didn't see a name on the tag except her own, she sweetly asked who the gift was from. 
"Santa Claus," he whispered.