Bones Of Willow Lake to be released on Valentine’s Day!

bones covers
Back cover, front cover. Both originally artwork by Mark Hogg. Link to his fanpage can be found at the bottom of this post.

Well, the day I’ve been waiting for since forever (no really…FOREVER! LOL) is finally upon us. My most recent novel, BONES OF WILLOW LAKE, has a release date! And, of course, the novel will be released on the very same day my awesome novella, THE DEMON KING, was released. FEBRUARY 14th! That’s Valentine’s Day, in case you didn’t know. Also, it’s my son’s 7th birthday, so Valentine’s Day is special to me for many reasons. Not just book releases, although I do believe I should probably just go ahead and reserve that day every year to release a new book because it looks like it’s just my day.

I promise I won’t just sit here and prattle on and on about how absolutely enamored with myself and my release date I am, though. I promise! Instead, how about I give you a blurb and an excerpt? Will that appease the masses? I sure hope so. We’ll start with the little blurb intended to be printed on the back cover.

BLURB:

Celia Burne bought a house in LaGrange, Georgia, thinking she’s found a place for herself and her dog, Barnibus, to find rest and solitude–a break from the heartbreak of her mother’s death and the resulting incarceration of her younger sister. What she finds in the beginning of her new life, however, isn’t what she bargained for.  Celia discovers two of the house’s former residents still live there decades after their deaths.  

 Although artist Paul Gray only wants Celia’s friendship, and perhaps a little bit more, Celia begins to feel that finding Gray’s body would allow him to pass over into the light.  In order to find the body, however, Celia has to solve a 1947 triple murder mystery, and the angry spirit of Ruth Wilkins doesn’t want this to happen.  With help from an elderly neighbor and her cartoonist grandson, Celia wrestles with the mystery until she’s thrown into a tailspin and is forced to decide whether she is willing to let Gray go or if she would rather keep him for herself.  All the while, the story begs the question of who is helping whom? 

EXCERPT:

The fire is warm and I like to sit in front of it, but the sound of boxes shuffling around is still distracting me.  “Gray!” I shout again. “What on earth are you doing up there?” Frustrated, I push the covers back off my legs and get up to wander to the attic.  I stomp up the stairs, as though my noise is going to aggravate him enough to stop making his noise, and stop at the small opening to the attic at the top of the stairs.

To the left, there is a small broom closet where I keep my ladder.  I pull it out and open it up.  As I climb the few steps to the top, I push the attic opening back and poke my head inside.  It’s dark, but I can see a blue glow from the window.  “Gray?” I whisper as I push myself into the attic.

He doesn’t answer, but I knew that he wouldn’t—he can’t.  “What are you doing up here?”

I walk to the window.  Gray is sitting in the windowsill as still as a picture.  In his hands, he holds a lady’s hatpin.  It is a blue flower, but plain and ordinary.

“Ruth’s.” I say.  It isn’t a question.  There is no one else it could have belonged to.

Gray nods and shrugs before peering back out the window. He is lonely, I think to myself, feeling a bit discarded.  Doesn’t my company mean anything to him—the way his does for me?

I want to shake him.  Ruth is dead.  Henry is dead. They’re obviously not here, but he is.  What’s the connection?

I sigh and rest my hand on his shoulder for whatever comfort I can offer him.  I don’t know what happened to my sweet Gray, but whatever it was, it scarred him for his entire afterlife.

I am going mad, I tell myself.

Gray turns from the window and looks up at me.  There is hopefulness in his eyes and he rests his head against my chest. He raises a finger and sits up.  He begins to trace a word in the dust that’s settled on the glass. I give this one hundred percent of my attention.  His fingertip begins to curve around on the glass until he’s formed a perfect C.  He traces the letters very slowly, as though it’s been a very long time for him—and I’m sure that it probably has been.  Eventually, he’s written my name in the dust.  When he’s finished, he looks up at me and goes back to tracing.

Next, he traces the word alone and looks to me for approval.  I nod.  “I am lonely.” I say.

He folds me into his arms and pulls me close.  He is cool, but not cold.  I allow him to do this because I feel no fear whatsoever in what the dead can do—it’s the living that scare me the most.  Gray rests his cloth-stitched face against my cheek and I feel the weight of each horrible, likely painful stitch and wonder why the bits of dark blue material would be stitched over his entire face like that, but it’s not likely that he’ll tell me anytime soon and I’m too polite to ask. I smile at the awkward ridiculousness of the situation—I have no one alive on this earth save for Velma, but it seems I’ve made a really great best friend in this dead man.

I look up and realize that Gray’s hair is showing today. Typically, he keeps it back somehow and I can’t tell if he even has any.  Gray, it seems, is/was a ginger. I reach up and roll my index finger around in an unbelievably soft lock of reddish-blond hair.  It’s short, but neat, and combed out of his blue-gray eyes.  His face tightens rom under the cloth and I realize that he’s probably smiling at me.

“I like your hair.”  I tell him with a playful grin.

Slowly, he reaches around to teasingly pull at my long, dark ponytail.  Then, he holds his finger over where his mouth should be to tell me to be quiet. Or to shut up.  I’m not sure which one he means, but it makes me laugh and I am enjoying his company.

I wonder if, wherever they are, Ruth and Henry Wilkins can see what Gray and I are doing tonight in the attic—playfully enjoying the night. Then, another thought creeps into my head and I have to ask Gray another question. I’m positive that my questions are an annoyance, but I want to know anyhow.  “Did you know Velma Beatty?”

He nods, but doesn’t look at me.  Instead, he’s staring out the window again. I don’t push the questions further.  Something I’ve said has made him sad.  I wonder if maybe he might have been a lover of Velma’s so many years ago.  I shake the idea from my head—she had a husband and he died in the seventies.  Sometimes, he was all she ever talked about.

Gray releases me and I take that as my cue to leave him to himself.  I back away, but as I reach the little crawl hole over my ladder, I see that the ladder is gone. It isn’t down there at all, so the possibility that my larger than life dog has knocked it over is out of the question and there isn’t anyone else in the house—or at least I thought there wasn’t up until now.

“Gray?” I breathe.  He turns to face me and shifts his weight in the windowsill.  “Gray, my ladder is gone.  I can’t get down.”

It takes only a few seconds before he materializes at my side.  He looks down the hole and then at me.  He is just as puzzled as I am.  He groans as he lifts me in his arms.  He’s cradling me like a baby and, with his index finger and middle finger, closes my eyelids.  He holds his fingers there for a moment and when he removes them, I open my lids and see that we are standing at the top of the stairs and he is no longer holding me. It’s as though time was temporarily erased.

I have no idea what to say, but manage a quick thanks and a nod.  Gray disappears in a low flash of blue light and I look up to see the opening to the attic shut behind him.  He’s up there again, all by himself, and I have no idea where my ladder is.

I go to the broom closet and open the door.  Cold water flows out of the closet as though it’s been submerged.  Some of it falls down the stairs like an indoor waterfall.  My feet are freezing cold now and I see my ladder folded carefully inside the closet. I’m shaking as I step forward and inspect it.  The top rung has a spot of dried blood on it and a discarded sewing needle with twine laced through it.

Of all the houses in LaGrange, I had to pick the one with dead folks, I think to myself. I pull my flannel pajama pants down and pick them up as I  wander to the upstairs bathroom and push them into the hamper. I go to my bedroom and pick a clean pair of sweats from a drawer and put them on before going downstairs to the kitchen and reluctantly pull the mop out of the corner and grab my bucket.  I take the mop and bucket back upstairs to clean up all the water, but when I reach the stairs, the water is gone.

I swallow hard and walk up the stairs to the closet to see that the ladder is back underneath the opening to the attic.  There is no spot of blood or needle on the top rung.  There is no water damage to my closet.

It’s as though the entire thing was a figment of my over worked imagination.

EXTRA STUFF: 

As promised, here is the link to Mark Hogg’s fan page on Facebook, Mr.  Markzilla Artist! Go give him a like and check out all of his artwork!

STAY TUNED FOR: Okay, so we’re going to have a contest called the HAUNTED VALENTINE GIVEAWAY. Yes, we’re giving away a free copy of BONES OF WILLOW LAKE! Stay tuned to this blog because this is where the contest will be posted FIRST.

 

 

 

How to get published and other such nonsense…

I’ve been asked not once, but twice this week how to get published.  I figure this question is best answered through blog since it’s a very broad topic.  For a start, you don’t get published.  There are a million other steps you have to take first.

writer2The first step you have to take is to write a book.  Write from start to finish and don’t worry about the business end of things until much later.  And when I say you have to write a book, I mean you have to have a cast of characters so fantastic your readers can see them clearly and believe they’re real. You have to have a story together that makes sense and (depending on genre) does what it’s supposed to do. 

Step two–Editing.  Oh dear lawd, I hate editing.  I’d rather be stabbed repeatedly than edit one page of a manuscript.  Your best bet is to print off each and every page with at least 1.5 spacing.  Don’t use black ink or pencil to edit.  Use a different color so that it stands out to you.  Be somewhat organized about it.  Then, go forth and edit AGAIN!!  And after you do that, do it again. And again, and again.  When you’re finally sure everything’s in place to the very best of your ability, then you can move on to your computer once again where you will spend countless hours entering all your edits.

And don’t go and assume your work is flawless and you don’t need to edit.  Even Stephen King edits!

Step three–The submitting process.  This step sucks so bad you’ll want to hang yourself by your earlobes midway through it.  First, you have to decide what you’ve written. Is it horror?  Steampunk? Romance? Erotica? Romantica? New Adult? Young Adult? Science fiction? Figure out who publishes those things.  Google helps.  Once you’ve established a genre (and possibly a sub-genre), go ahead and read the submission guidelines to the entire list of publishers you’re planning on submitting to.  Read through carefully! This can be tricky business.

Most publishers are going to ask for a query letter and first three chapters first, which is typically called a partial.  This is the step in the submitting process where you’re going to question your own existence and ask the writing gods to put an end to your misery because writing a query sucks.  I’d rather drink lava than write a query.  But, I have urged through it and I’m a query survivor–several times over.

There are some publishers out there who will ask for your complete manuscript, a query, and your first born.  Send what they ask for.  Which brings me to another evil entity called “Standard Format”…. If the publisher doesn’t ask for any particular format for your MS, use standard format.  If you don’t know what that is, I’m not going to tell you.  Nope.  I had to look it up and you do too.  Why?  Because if you’re serious that you want to write, you’re going to be googling, binging, and hitting the books pretty hard from here on in.  May as well get used to it, kids.

So, where were we? You’ve written a book, decided a genre, submitted to publishers…

Oh, shit. Now you get to just wait for a bazillion years because no one is answering your emails when you want them to.  You’ll be waiting a while, so you may as well start your next project, write some short stories, clean out the storm drains around your house, go to Disney World, write some more short stories, come half way through another novel…

And by the time you do all of those things, you’ll probably have an inbox full of rejection letters.  Cry about it if you want to.  Sometimes it really does help, but remember that all you need is one yes.  Just one.

Now, for the sake of being fair, if you submitted to several publishers at once, please make sure all of them take simultaneous subs.  Some publishers will ask that you not send to other publishers while your work is being reviewed by them.  If you’ve sent to more than one publisher, though, and you get an offer from one of them, make sure you send withdraw letters to the others you subbed to.  You should have kept track of the places you submitted on paper or with a spreadsheet anyhow. It’s common decency and the publishers will all silently thank you for it. Maybe.

fiction-writerYou can bypass all this stuff, though, and just self-publish through KDP or Createspace.  Lots of authors do it these days.  It’s a way to cut out the middleman, so to speak.  Sure, Amazon is going to make money off you, but basically no one else will.

Except the person you hire to edit for you.  I highly recommend you hire someone else to edit your work.  And not me, either. I’m too darned busy with my own stuff. Final edits for The Bones of Willow Lake will be coming to my inbox in the near future and when they’re ready for me to look over and enter, I’ll be a raving lunatic. You don’t want a raving lunatic to edit for you, trust me.

And the cover artist.  Shit.  Yeah, you have to have a cover if you actually want to sell a few copies.  They say not to judge a book by its cover, but let me tell ya, people judge books by their covers…every single freaking day. Unless you’re crafty in that way, please hire someone who knows what the heck they’re doing.  And for Pete’s sake, pay them! Pay them because they’re an artist just like you are and you don’t want to be stiffed, do ya? No, you don’t.  What goes around in the business of writing, tends to come around, linger, and smack you in the face before it runs off again so fast you can’t catch it.

Well, whether you self-published or were published by a traditional publisher, you have a book out and you’re going to have to market that sucker.  You’re going to need a few reviews, some good PR, and friends to push it for you.  Good luck with all that because it’s not easy, either.  Writers are gluttons for punishment, but we’re a strange breed because we like it. Reviewers are sometimes absolutely scathing, but we keep going.  People sometimes mock the very characters we pined over for months, but we keep writing.

My Silly Dreams As An Author

Every writer has them–little fantasies that dance in our heads, mostly things we rarely talk about.  Except to our besties and sometimes with other authors.  For fun’s sake, I decided to write out some of mine.

1).  Probably the most common dream for writers is to have one of their stories made into a movie.  Some of us are lucky enough to have this dream turn into a reality, but that number is very few.  Some of the best book-to-movie/TV adaptations I’ve seen recently are The Hunger Games, True Blood, Game of Thrones, all of the Lord of the Rings movies, and let’s not forget the slew of superhero movies (Comic books…they’re books, too).

If one of my books could make  it to the big screen, I’d probably keel over from shock because the chances are that slim.  However, if I could choose which one, I’d choose THE BONES OF WILLOW LAKE (to be released sometime this year).  I have no idea who I’d really want to play Celia Burne and Paul Gray, but it would be awesome to have Cloris Leachman play Velma Beatty.  Velma is the character who lives next door to Celia and knew Gray in the forties. She was one of the best characters I’ve ever written in my short twenty-nine years as a writer (I was born writing with my own umbilical cord. Just ask my mom.). Whoever played Paul Gray would need to carry certain characteristics through his expressions and, mostly, with his eyes.  Paul Gray is described as having sleepy blue-gray eyes, regardless of the time of day.  Mark Ryder (Canal +’s Borgia) would be a close choice, although his hair is too dark.  The intensity in the eyes is there, though.  Also, I just have a thing for Mark Ryder.

Cloris Leachman
Cloris Leachman

2).  To be on the New York Times Bestsellers list.  I may never see my name there, but it’s interesting enough to dream, right?

3.) To have my book in hardcover.  Face facts, Jack.  Most small publishers do not offer books in hardcover.  Some do, but most do not, which leaves the majority of writers today pining away at their own thoughts, dreaming of the day when they can run their fingers across the spine of a hardcover copy of one of their own creations.  I have no clue why this is so important to so many of us, but it apparently isn’t just me who has this dream.  I consider myself in good company.

4).  To see your books at Wal-Mart, the drug store, K-Mart, basically anything else that ends with “Mart”, Barnes & Nobles, and any other free shelf space in stores. Independent authors fight and scratch to get their books on shelves.  It’s another thing many of us will never see.  Some will, most will not.  The digital age has everyone buying books online, which I have absolutely nothing against (Go now and buy THE DEMON KING from Amazon), but sometimes it’s nice to just shop in real stores and handle the books before you buy them.  I, for one, love going into a store and picking the book up, feeling and smelling the pages, and checking out how it feels to hold it. Honestly, sometimes I’ll refuse to read a book because I don’t like the way it feels in my hand and I’ll choose another format instead (I prefer trade paperback unless it’s a book I wish to collect and then I buy hardback lol).

5). To reach Stephen King status.  That man is awesome.  He has over fifty books in print, several of his books have been made into films and television series, and I see more Stephen King quotes on Facebook than any other author, alive or dead.  Why is he so important and special?  Because he writes greatness.  Some of his books I far prefer over others, but that man writes whatever he wants. He sticks it to the man. He wears tee shirts and jeans and he doesn’t care what anyone else things (at least for the most part).  He scares the shit out of people, which is powerful stuff!

6).  Whether or not I ever reach “Stephen King status” doesn’t matter nearly as much as this last thing on my list.  I want people to read and enjoy my books.  I want to hear from readers and for them to have positive experiences with my books.  I want to hear people say that my book made them feel something. Anything. I want to pull reactions out of the readers and make them want more.  I want to tell the stories in my head and leave them on this Earth long after I’ve gone.  Decades from now, I want my grandchildren to be able to read my books and say, “Wow, my grandma was WEIRD! But, I kinda like her…”

 

Anything else to add? Feel free to add your own dreams in comments!
Also, go buy my book, THE DEMON KING. (LOL!)

From the Torment of Dreams

From the Torment of Dreams by Iain McKinnon
From the Torment of Dreams by Iain McKinnon

I began hearing things about this book long ago.  Immediately, I thought now THAT’S a story I wanna read!  Why, you ask?  Oh, because it’s about a guy dreaming about a lost love.

Sort of. There’s a little bit more to it than that.  Lan, the main character, joins an army just to get away from memories of a girl.  Seriously.  Sound familiar?  Men (and women) do this kind of thing all the time.  It’s a very human reaction to a separation, either by your own doing or by fate.  I like to call it cutting off your nose to spite your face, but I guess you could also call it escaping, if you are so inclined. Just so you can escape (see what I did there?) my prattle, I’ll give you the description of the story from Smashwords:

Lan Agstaff joins the Terran Army to escape the memories of his ex-lover, but en route to his posting on the planet of Neotra his suspended animation chamber malfunctions leaving him to dream without end. Revived in the midst of a war of secession Lan has to fight for his life all the while tormented by dreams of his lost love. 

Also, there’s this…

Adult-content rating: This book contains content considered unsuitable for young readers 17 and under, and which may be offensive to some readers of all ages.

And, yes, the content rating is probably needed.

Iain McKinnon’s writing style is one I can easily follow while reading.  I like that when I’m reading one of his books, I can easily see the picture he’s painting for the readers without a struggle.  The action involved in the story is wonderfully played out and the characters are very human, very likable, very believable.  Lan, our runs-away-from-women main character, gives us all a look into the human mind.  His character, while dreaming of his lost love, made me want to smack him and hug him in an oh you poor little thing! sort of way all at the same time.

The Terran army in and of itself is an element of the story I thoroughly enjoyed, also.  After all, as far as I know, this army doesn’t exist.  It came straight from the author’s imagination.  The war and the background for the story are very well thought out.  It’s fun to get lost in a book, isn’t it?  I love when an author (in this case, Iain McKinnon) creates a totally different world for the readers to lose themselves in.

In a nutshell, I’d say this book has my seal of approval for a wonderful read.  It tugged at my heartstrings, made me crazy with emotions, and made me want to scream at Lan at times–all signs of a great story.

From the Torment of Dreams, trailer.

Buy this book from Smashwords. 

Iain McKinnon’s author profile on Amazon.com.

A chat with Eric S. Brown

Eric S. Brown, author.
Eric S. Brown, author.

Eric S. Brown is one of the busiest authors I’ve had the pleasure of conversing with.  This guy is always, always, always working on something.  From Bigfoot to comics, he’s got his hands in more than one cookie jar.  I’ve read Eric’s work and I can honestly say I’m always entertained. I was lucky enough to snatch a few precious moments of this guy’s time and I asked him some questions.

Me:  What are you working on at present?

ESB:  I am working on the script for the fourth issue of Unstoppable Origins.  It’s one of two comic books I am now the writer on.

Me:  A lot of writers have to have things arranged a certain way before they can write.  For example: I know a certain writer who can’t write a single sentence without her Joe Camel beer huggy (not to name any names, here).  Are there any little quirks in your writing process?

ESB:  If I am writing something strange like Jack Bunny Bam Bam and the Weeper Apocalypse, I really like to listen to Weird Al.  Al’s music is amazing, fun, and very inspirational.

My personal favorite Eric S. Brown character. . .
My personal favorite Eric S. Brown character. . .

Me:  What was the most memorable moment you have ever had through your writing career?

ESB:  I will never forget the day I got my first two acceptance letters.  They both came in the mail on the same day and I was calling all my family and friends to say that not one but two magazines like my first short story enough to publish it.  But also when David Drake blurbed my new Military SF book co-authored by Tony Faville was a huge one too.  I grew up reading Drake and learned to write from studying his style.  I had corresponded with Mr. Drake for sometime but when he agreed to read Homeworld I was walking around on eggshells for a while.  I mean the KING of Military SF was reading my first effort in that genre.  When he wrote back and said he enjoyed it and gave me a cover blurb, well, I think I am still grinning from that.   You know you’ve made to a degree when your childhood hero blurbs your book.

Me:  Are you a plotter or a pantser? (**For definitions of these strange writer terms, see the bottom of this post**)

ESB:  I am so a pantser.  I seem to have a never ending stream of writing projects that come at plus I am a Mr. Mom with two kids.  I tend to do everything on the fly.  I also believe in letting my characters write the story as it goes rather than mapping everything out in advance.

Me:  For readers who have never read your work, which book or piece would you recommend reading first?

For those who didn't know, Bigfoot War is a series! And how 'bout those covers, eh? Nice!
For those who didn’t know, Bigfoot War is a series! And how ’bout those covers, eh? Nice!

ESB:  Depends on what you enjoy.  If you like horror, I would say Bigfoot War.  It was the original Sasquatch apocalypse book out there.  It’s intense survival horror and has over 100 five star reviews on Amazon.  If you enjoy Military SF like I do and love books like the Hammer’s Slammers series or the Honor Harrington series or even just war stuff in general, I would say Homeworld.  Both are available on Amazon in Kindle and Paperback formats.  And lastly, if you’re just looking to see me at my best as a writer, I would try Jack Bunny Bam Bam and the Weeper Apocalypse.  That book is so crazy there are no words.

Thank you, Eric, for dropping by!  If any of you are interested in his work, I’ll go ahead and throw out Eric’s Amazon Author profile link (below) and also give my two cents.  If I were you, I’d go ahead and buy Jack Bunny Bam Bam and the Weeper Apocalypse.  It’s a great story, but also very nuts. NUTS, I tell ya! Entertainment, definitely.  

Also, don’t forget to give him a good, honest review if you do decide to check him out–which, you totally should–and share the links on Facebook, Google +, Twitter, and any other sites you frequent.  Remember, an author cannot continue to bring you awesome books if we don’t show them a little bit of support! 

Eric S. Brown’s Amazon Author Page

eric s. brown 2

 

 

**Definitions for non-writers who probably had no clue what a pantser or a plotter were–

Pantser- A person who flies by the seat of their pants. These writers just sit down and start writing with very little clue as to where their story is going, but for them, it works. 

Plotter- A plotter thinks everything out first.  They plot out every little detail from start to finish with sometimes very detailed notes and outlines.  

If ya ask me, pantsing is a lot more fun, but hey–whatever works for you!  Also, here is a neat blog post about the subject of pantsing vs. plotting. ** 

Naming characters…and I got a new book, too! WOO HOO!

I’m horrible at naming characters.  Every writer has their own method, but I figured I’d share mine since it appears I’m not the only writer having trouble with this.

When I wrote Immortal Ties, I had a perfect vision in mind for each character and had them all named except one.  The character would be a vampire that my main character, Dagan, had known for centuries and he was going to be tall, a biker, and German.  I went ahead with creating a background for him, figured out what his likes and dislikes were, created a good, thorough character sketch and THEN began researching German names.  I wanted popular names and unpopular ones, too.  I eventually settled with Simon Nikolas as his name, even though it’s not a name I’d choose for my child.  I chose a name that I knew would carry the character and serve a purpose, which it did.

But, I also chose this name because it started with an S.  No other characters in that book had a name beginning with an S.  At least not a main character and I already knew that Simon would be the hero in the next Immortal book.  I don’t like having too many characters with names beginning with the same letter unless there is a set of twins named Tim and Tom or something like that–and even then, I shy away from it as much as possible.

I also try to choose names that are relevant to the character’s background.  For example:  If your character lives in medieval Romania, I find it highly unlikely his name would be Randy. Gyorgy, maybe. Or Fitzkobal. Or Pal. Not Randy.  However, medieval Romanian people did have a lot of names that are just earlier versions of names we have today, so you can always choose a name like George and convert it to Gyorgy for your story.  It just takes a little bit of research.  And if your character is a vampire, he may have started out as Gyorgy and lived several centuries to become George.  Finding names for historical characters can take a little bit of research (and this is where Google and Bing come in handy), but finding a relevant name is rewarding in the end.  Never settle for guesses.  Your readers are smarter than that and they deserve more.

Sometimes names for characters just sort of come out of nowhere.  When I began writing Willow Lake, the name for my main character was just the first name I thought of.  Celia Burne!  I love the name Celia, though, and always wanted to use it, so I did.  After I chose her name, everything about her seemed to just fall into place.  Of course, most of her personality was already there, but little bits and pieces I hadn’t figured out began to weave themselves into the Celia Burne fabric lol.  It’s perfectly fine to pick names this way, so never feel horrible or unprofessional because the names of your characters do not have some sort of special meaning.

A good way to find names you might like is to use Google or Bing to find baby names.  When you find a name you like, read the meaning and sometimes that meaning can help you figure the rest of the character out if you haven’t already.  If you have written a character sketch already (or developed one in your head), but you hadn’t chosen a name, sometimes the name meanings can help you write out scenes or visualize this character further.

There is one thing I want to give warning about, though.  When you’re writing a book and you choose your names, be careful about the connotation that comes with certain names.

Example:  Ellen.  Just about everybody knows someone named Ellen and there is also Ellen Degeneres.  We all know who she is also.  When you hear the name Ellen, you might think of your aunt Ellen who always wins the prize for best pie at the family reunion or you might think of Ellen Degeneres, which would take a reader’s mind away from the Ellen you want to write in your story because when you write a sentence that says, “Ellen walked down steps” your readers are imagining Ellen Degeneres dancing up and down the aisles at the studio where her shows are filmed. Be mindful of things like these–most popular names already have a connotation with readers.

This is where I’d say making sure your characters are very well fleshed out helps a great deal.  This can ensure that your readers aren’t picturing Ellen Degeneres dancing every single time they read about your main character, Ellen.  (As a side note, I’m now picturing Ellen Degeneres dancing in my head because I love her! HA! )

Go through lists of names before you decide and read through those lists until you find a name that stands out to you.  Read about that name.  Google to see if anyone famous has that name if you want to (just because it’s fun).  But, you should never think that it’s harder than it is.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be a serious pain in the butt, but when you find names you like and they work with the story, it’s great and it helps your story along.

In other news today…

TPhoto_00466 TPhoto_00462

I got a new book in the mail.  I won a contest recently.  Rhiannon Frater had written a new novella in the Pretty When She Dies universe, and she couldn’t choose a name for it.  The contest was that the name with the most likes (I think…) won.  Mine won. The title is Pretty When They Collide and the cover is great and I’m going to start reading it tonight just as soon as I finish helping my son with his homework.

A good book to read is what the doctor ordered, folks. Seriously, lately I’ve been running on fumes! And with that, I leave you 😀 Night, folks! ~Rhiannon Mills

Best YA Vampire Books I’ve Read

I haven’t pimped any books lately, so I thought I’d gather a list of YA vampire books I think you should check out.   Remember, these books are all on this list because they were favorites of mine at one point or another or are still a favorite of mine.

My preciousss.....
My preciousss…..

1) First, it’s been brought to my attention that there is a Thirst No.5 by Christopher Pike! How I missed this is well beyond me.  I already own the first four so now I have to make it my mission to buy the 5th and any subsequent books he brings forth to the world of vampire goodness.  The first four books are awesome and I love his female vampire lead (Sita…such a lovely, lovely name), the way he describes surroundings, and the way he moves his stories. Keep in mind that each Thirst book is made up of about three YA novels he wrote previously in the 90’s, so this is like repackaged goodness with a little bow wrapped around it.  Although, in this case, the boy may or may not have been dragged through a blood filled mud hole first (cause that’s how Pike rolls–always action packed!).  You should also consider that, though these are YA novels, there is absolutely very little young adult about them.  Adults who do not read young adult books will love them, too.  AAAAANNNNNDDDD, when compared to the Twilight books, I think Christopher Pike has better vampires and story lines.  There is something for every vampire lover in here, but no sparkling and no dancing through the treetops piggy back style.

 

VVV

2)  Companions of the Night by Vivian Vande Velde.  This author is wonderful and writes beautifully.  The book that comes to mind when I hear her name, however, is Companions of the Night.  It’s not a long book (more novella length than novel length), so you can possibly read it in one sitting, but the story is built incredibly.  The characters are wonderful and the terrifying at the same time.  Vande Velde’s vampires are absolutely horrible monsters, which is a plus in my book.  

 

Silver

3) The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klaus.   This book is the one that made me really think about writing vampire fiction.  I’m still thinking about writing more vampires and vampires are creatures I’ll never shy away from all because of this little gem of a book.  I’m told this was the author’s very first book, which makes sense because every single little detail is absolutely meticulously thought out.  The story centers around a young girl named Zoe and a somewhat brooding vampire named Simon.  I don’t want to give out spoilers because that’s just not nice, but I will say that vampire authors everywhere could learn a thing or two from this story.  It doesn’t have a fairy tale ending–and who says all books have to have a fairy tale ending anyhow?  What it does have, however, is a satisfying ending because it’s more real than most.

Also, from Annette Curtis Klaus is a book called Blood and Chocolate (werewolves this time).  Sound familiar?  That’s because some genius made it into a movie, although the movie isn’t exactly like the book. It still ROCKS.

blood and choclate

 

 

Also, I’ll be posting something other than book listings and suggestions in the next few days.  The last few weeks have been hectic and I’ve had little blogging time 😀 ~Rhiannon.

How To Support Authors

When I decided to write this post, I had independent authors in mind, but I do believe this also applies to mainstream authors because, let’s face it, everybody knows writers starve! It’s not a profession to enter into lightly, though when a writer is bopped on the head by the writer fairy, they must answer the call.  Support from readers who love them is sometimes the only thing to keep them from losing faith in themselves because sometimes it’s extremely difficult to keep going when you’re not sure if anyone out there is even reading your work!  BUT, if you love books and you want to keep books by authors you’ve enjoyed readily available for you and others to enjoy, please keep reading.  There are ways you can help.

poster

1.) Buy some books instead of getting illegal downloads.  Most authors hate the pirating sites and I can see why.  You spend months working on your book (which is quite a detailed process in itself) and then some jerk comes along and offers it for free on a free books website.  Yeah. The little devil comes out! But, there are readers out there who can’t afford new books sometimes and they get these free books on pirating sites.  So, if you’re one of those readers who uses pirating sites, at least have the damned decency to take the next few steps (below).

2.) Write a review.  Post this review on Amazon, Goodreads, and in your blog if you have one.  On Amazon, click “like” on the book’s page, share the link on facebook, tag the book, and make sure you’re honest.  In your blog, make sure to add the purchasing link to Amazon and–if you’re feeling froggy–anywhere else the book is sold.  You can leave links to the author’s website, blog, and Facebook/Twitter.  That helps, too! But, whatever you do, make sure you tag your post appropriately.  For example, if you wrote a review for The Demon King by Rhiannon Mills, you could use the tags Rhiannon Mills, The Demon King, demons, paranormal, horror, paranormal romance, romance, etc.

3.)Tell your friends you read X book by Y author and it was FANTASTIC. Or not so fantastic. Be honest, but word of mouth is great. Sometimes friends are so similar they have similar tastes in books, too.  And once you and your friend have both read the book, you can talk about it together.

See.  That was easy, wasn’t it? Independent authors desperately need the support to keep going and so do mainstream authors.  No author could make it out there without the support of their readers and fans and, believe me, we love you all.  And this is also the bit where I go into the fact that authors should also support each other. In most cases, I’ve seen nothing but support from other authors to each other and to me, which is very helpful, too.

 

In Darkness We Must Abide (Death Comes Home, Episode 1) By Rhiannon Frater

In DarknessI absolutely hate serials.   Why, you ask?  Because I’m a fast reader and very impatient. I hate waiting for the second part of something I like.  That being said, I read serials like there’s no tomorrow because I’m a glutton for punishment.  Even though I know that when I finish the last page of an installment, I’ll be chomping at the bit for the next part, stalking around Facebook and Goodreads for any and all information regarding the release of the next bit of story just so I can download it to the Kindle machine and start the whole crazy process all over again. Reading serials is a torture I’ve grown to love and hate.  Honestly, they turn me into a maniac.

This particular serial, In Darkness We Must Abide, is fantastic so far.  The first episode is the only part released, but I was quite pleased with it.  I’m also quite frustrated because I’m ready for the next part and can’t read it yet and I’ve bitten my fingernails down to nearly nothing.  Okay, not really, but I feel like it.

Rhiannon Frater’s characters are very likable and real. There are three siblings:  Roman (oldest), Alisha (middle), and Vanora (youngest).  The beginning of the story shows the reader that Roman is a strong head of the household and that he has both patience and intelligence, but also heart and compassion for others.  The middle sibling, Alisha, seems to be a very competent, yet protective, caretaker for her younger sister, Vanora and I like her quite a bit.  Vanora is only a little girl in the beginning (I’m assuming we’ll see her grow up later), but she is spirited and reminds me quite a bit of my daughter in so many ways.  I won’t give away spoilers, so I’ll give you the description found on Amazon.com.

In Darkness We Must Abide is the epic saga of one young woman caught in the dangerous world of the creatures of the night.Already living in the shadows due to her albinism, Vanora is just a little girl when her older brother inadvertently unleashes a terrible evil from the family crypt that changes their lives forever. As she grows up in a world where beautiful deadly beings hunt by night, one captures her eye and her heart. Yet, can she trust the mysterious Armando? For there is a powerful entity plotting to claim her when she reaches adulthood in order to fulfill an ancient prophecy, and her enemy has enveloped her in a web of deceit, casting doubt on all she believes to be true. Soon, she will have to fight not only to save those she loves, but also for her very soul. Rhiannon Frater delivers a chilling adventure once again with this multi-part epic serial with a dynamic cast, old school vampires, bloody action, a smoldering forbidden love, and a terrifying villain set against the backdrop of a modern day vampire war.Each episode will be between 10,000 and 20,000 words with new installments being published every 2 to 3 weeks.Episode 1: Death Comes Home Roman Socoli inadvertently releases a terrible evil when he has his Romanian ancestors entombed on his estate in Houston, Texas.
 I want to add that I love how Rhiannon introduces the vampire.  He doesn’t show up with a dashing smile, wearing a million dollar suit, with a cheesy, ridiculous romantic flair for womanizing.  Nope.  On the contrary, he’s a very classic vampire, which I absolutely loooooove (lots of o’s are completely necessary there).  This episode exhumes a very gothic atmosphere perfect for the story laid out.  Rhiannon, if you’re reading this review, I hope you know I’m watching you–in a non-stalker kinda way–for the release of the second episode. 😀
I’m not sure WordPress has a thingy to fill out with a star rating, so here are some bats for Rhiannon Frater.  LOL.  I think it’s the only photo I have that includes five of something!
babies

Horror Books Not To Miss

This week’s genre in the spotlight is horror. Since folks seemed to love the post I wrote on Alternatives to 50 Shades of Grey (spotlighting erotica and erotic romance novels and stories), I’ve decided to spotlight a new genre bi-weekly on Thursdays.  I love horror in most sub-genres and there are a lot of awesome Independent authors you should check out as well as the more established authors.  Without wasting too much time yacking, here is the list I’ve compiled:

 

Long Voyage Back by Luke Rinehart. — I don’t know this author and I have not read this book, but Permuted Press posted the link this morning because the ebook is on sale at $1.99 for Kindle.  Also, the book is available for Nook and Kobo.  “Nuclear Armageddon” was mentioned in the description, so I can imagine it’s probably pretty great for those action seeking horror lovers. But again, I have not read this book so I won’t know until I read it lol.

Among the Living by Timothy W. Long— I do own this one so I can vouch for the book and the author.  Right now, the kindle price is at $3.99 and the print copy price is $12.78.  Also, you can get the audiobook from audible for $1.99.

In DarknessIn Darkness We Must Abide by Rhiannon Frater— Folks, don’t forget that there are a lot of awesome, awesome female horror authors out there, too. Rhiannon Frater is one to keep watching.  This particular book is .99 for Kindle download right now.  Snap it up, folks.  This is book one of a serial!

Cthulhu’s Daughter and Other Horror Tales by Rhiannon Frater is also available on kindle and the price is only $2.99.

Also, check out Rhiannon’s Amazon Author profile and scroll around and find more books she’s written.  There are TONS of goodies to choose from.

Domain of the Dead by Iain McKinnon— $3.99 is the kindle price.  Iain Mckinnon is a pretty awesome author and I personally give him a big recommendation.

The Night of the Beasts by Eric S. Brown— I haven’t read this particular book, but I have read others by Eric S. Brown and have enjoyed them quite a bit and this one is priced for Kindle at .99 😀 Enjoy!

cannibalCannibal Corpse by Tim Curran–I don’t know Tim Curran and I’ve never had a conversation with him, but he must have poured magic sprinkles into the pages of this one because EVERYBODY has it on their kindle, either waiting to be read or being read right now.  As a matter of fact, it’s on MY kindle as well lol.  Anyhow, the Kindle price is $7.99 and it IS available for print as well at $14.95.

 
Nurse BloodNurse Blood by Rebecca Besser— This book goes on sale TOMORROW (3/21/13) until the end of the month for .99, but right now is listed at $3.99, just in case you can’t wait until tomorrow lol.  Also, what a beautiful cover!

Tygers by Brenna Lyons is a horror erotic romance, Undead Embrace is zombie fiction ranging from horror-comedy to straight horror,  Undead Underway is vampire comedy, and Monsters of Myth is a  mix of everything 😀  I haven’t read any of her books, but I just may check out some of these.

–FREEBIES–

Lost Girl of the Lake by Michael McCarty and Joe McKinney— FREE for Kindle download for PRIME members and I have this already and am confident in giving it my recommendation.  If you do not have an Amazon Prime membership, the ebook is still only $3.79 😀 Enjoy!

The End by MW Huffman  FREE for Kindle download.  Four star rating with fifteen reviews.

 

Well, that’s it for today, folks! If you have any book suggestions you’d like to share in the horror genre, please feel free to list them with or without links in the comments below so that others may enjoy your suggestions. I’d also like to mention that I do realize today isn’t Thursday, but tomorrow I have a dentist appointment and I have no idea if I’ll feel like blogging when I get back.  Enjoy!