Summer Gets Bigger and Badder!

Eden Royce:

Looking for a big, bad, summer read? My short story, “Voodooesque” appears in this antho along with twenty-three other fantastic authors.

Originally posted on The Dark Oak Blog:

bb2xlgShout, Scream, Holler; do what ever it takes to make this the best summer ever for books!

Everybody loves the bad guys, and this second edition of The Big Bad brings you more to love! A collection of best-selling fantasy and horror writers brings you twenty-four all-new tales of vampires, demons, ghosts, zombies, and the most terrifying monsters of all – humans. Crack open the pages, if you dare, and explore two dozen tales of humor and horror by some of the brightest names in the business!

http://www.darkoakpress.com/bigbad2.html

The Tales:
Mercy’s Armistice – J. T. Glover
A Family Affair – Selah Janel
Old Nonna – Gail Z. Martin
Letters to Logroth – Jason Corner
Skippin’ Stones – S. H. Roddey
The Sea Witch – Kasidy Manisco
A Day in the Life – James R. Tuck
Overkill – Sara Taylor Woods
Voodooesque – Eden Royce
A Fitter Subject for Study –…

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Guest Post: Crafting a Character

I am pleased to have Loren Rhoads as a guest poster on the blog today. Loren was kindly willing to share the origins of one of the characters from her new release, The Dangerous Type, part military sci-fi, part adventure space opera. Read on to see why Publishers Weekly mentioned its “well choreographed action.” 

Crafting a Character

by Loren Rhoads

A well-rounded character draws from many inspirations. Raena Zacari, the reformed Imperial assassin, in my new trilogy was born in ballet class.

I studied ballet as a child. I started the year I entered first grade – in a studio in the basement of the teacher’s house – and continued at a different studio until I went away to university at 19. One of the girls I danced with got accepted into the corps at Joffrey Ballet. Another became a ballet teacher at our studio. All of us in my class were serious about our lessons. We danced as many nights a week as we could afford.

Raena Zacari, main character of The Dangerous Type and its sequels, came directly out of those dance classes. Ballerinas are strong, fierce, and completely unafraid of pain. If something hurts, you suck it up: because if you can’t do the combination, someone else will take your part.

Cover of The Dangerous Type, Book One in the Wake of the Templars trilogy.

Cover of The Dangerous Type, Book One of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy.

I conceived of Raena years before River Tam combined dancing and killing in Firefly, long before I knew Natasha Romanoff had gone to ballet assassin school. Raena’s first appearance in print was in 1986 in a story called “Claustrophobia” in a zine called simply Anthology.

Misty Copeland’s Under Armor video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZY0cdXr_1MA

I was never built like a dancer. Even in the earliest picture of me in costume, I’m thick in the thighs and it’s clear my hips are going to be wide. Still, I loved the narrow, androgynous bodies of my dancemates. Raena’s shape is a tribute to them.

Raena’s size – barely five feet tall in a galaxy of much bigger creatures – is a direct tribute to my vertically challenged female friends. At 5’4”, I’m average height for an American woman, but I still feel dwarfed by most men. My friends who stand under five feet make up the difference with heels or platform shoes, so Raena wears – and fetishizes – her high heels.

I wondered: what if high-heeled shoes didn’t mimic weapons, but actually were weapons? What if your heels were steel instead of chrome? What if they were sharpened? What if your kick had a dancer’s power behind it? What if you could put out an android’s eye with your heel?

And what if my character had spent the early years of her life dressing in black, because black doesn’t show the blood? After she came out of solitary confinement in the dark, what would she wear? As hard as it is for me to imagine personally, Raena is tired of black. She plays with wearing poisonously bright colors or a mirrored cat suit because she’s done creeping around in the darkness.

So that’s the genesis of Raena Zacari and her fashion choices. From the outside, she may seem to fall into the cliché of the tiny fierce warrior waif like Alice from Resident Evil or Buffy Summers, but she’s more directly inspired by Princess Leia, if the princess liked to kill people with her hands. Milla Jovovich actually stands 5’9”, while Carrie Fisher is only 5’1”. The amazing Misty Copeland is 5’2”, plus the height of her pointe shoes. She might be a little tall for Raena as I imagined her in the books, but I wouldn’t want to tell her she couldn’t play the part.

Photo of author Loren Rhoades taken by Ken Goudey.

Photo of Loren Rhoads taken by Ken Goudey.

Loren Rhoads is the author of the In the Wake of the Templars trilogy, published by Night Shade Books. The Dangerous Type is out now, followed by Kill By Numbers on September 1 and the conclusion, No More Heroes, on November 3. She is the co-author (with Brian Thomas) of As Above, So Below and editor of The Haunted Mansion Project: Year Two.

Find out more about the trilogy on it’s home page: http://lorenrhoads.com/writing/the-dangerous-type/

Get your copy of The Dangerous Type below:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Powell’s Books

You can also find Loren around the web on her blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Graveyard Shift Sister: Crystal Connor

And so I come full circle with this latest interview: the phenomenal Crystal Connor–half of the horror writing duo known as Connor Titus.

Earlier in the year, I interviewed Lori Titus on the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog and reviewed her book The Guardians of Man.  You can check that interview out here.

I’ve known Crystal online for years and she is a fearless author, and a force of nature when it comes to branding and marketing her work. She’s also a champion of indie writers and a lover of all things horror.

Read my review of her apocalyptic horror release The End is Now and my interview with Crystal on the Graveyard Shift Sisters blog to find out why she’s “A Trusted Name in Horror”.

Marie O'Henry in Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde.  Don't trust pimps named Silky or men who bring syringes on a date.

Marie O’Henry in Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde.
Don’t trust pimps named Silky or men who bring syringes on a date.

Interview with Eden Royce

Eden Royce:

My interview with author of adult and YA dark fiction Nicky Peacock.
Thanks, Nicky!

Originally posted on Nicky Peacock - Author:

Eden _b_W_ SmallTell us a bit about what you write and where you’ve been published…

I write mainly dark fantasy and horror, although I’ve published a romance novella or three. I’ve had stories published with Dark Oak Press, Sirens Call Publications, Blood Bound Books and a few other presses that are now defunct.  My most recent release, a short story collection called Spook Lights: Southern Gothic Horror and my novella “Containment” I self-published.

You can also find my work on Hellnotes.com where I review horror books and on GraveyardShiftSisters.com where I interview a female horror writer of color and review her latest work.

If you could elect any literary character as Prime Minister/ President – who would it be and why?

Jonathan Howard’s Johannes Cabal from the series of novels of the same name. Cabal’s intelligent, resourceful, and if he needs advice from someone who’s dead, he’s a necromancer.

Which TV…

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The Things A Writer Can Learn In Six Months

I am pleased to have urban fantasy and horror author Amy Braun as a guest poster on the blog today. Amy was kind enough to share what she’s learned as a new author this year. Read on for some great info, even if you’ve been in the writing game for a while.

The Things a Writer Can Learn in Six Months  

by Amy Braun

When 2015 started, I decided to take the leap: I would publish a full length novel by myself. I was proud of my standalone novella, Needfire, which served as a way for me to test the waters of the independent world. But of course, the next step was harder.

I didn’t go to school for writing. I don’t have any mind of independent business. Marketing and press boggle my mind. I thought I was going to gain readers and a following by continuing my method of trying my hand at short story submissions. I’ve had some great successes that way– my stories being favored by readers and even winning an Editors award for my macabre short story “Dark Intentions And Blood” in the AMOK! Anthology– but it wasn’t enough. My muse got a little greedy, and I wanted more.

Path of the Horseman became more than a standalone novel to me when I wrote it in 2014’s NaNoWriMo. I knew the moment I finished it that I wanted to share it with as many readers as I could. I took a risk with an emerging cover artist, worked with an editor I trusted, and chose to release it with a major distribution/publishing company that has helped thousands of independent authors get their work out to the world.

Cover for Braun's novel Path of the Horseman

Cover for Braun’s novel Path of the Horseman

Needless, to say, when the release date came, I was both excited and nervous as Hell. I was given a guide about how to go about promoting my book. I learned that nothing was free, patience is an agonizing virtue, and you still have to hunt for acknowledgement.

Despite all that, I gained more positive feedback than I could have imagined, and not just from my family. People I’ll probably never meet praised my book and left reviews that humbled and honored me. I know that you can’t please everyone, and sooner or later I’ll get a negative review that will leave me doubting, but to know the risk would be rewarded brought me a joy that’s hard to describe.

So I took another risk, and released a novel that’s beyond precious to me. Demon’s Daughter, the first in my Cursed series, has been with me for years. Like Path of the Horseman, I know I’ve done something special with it and have received great feedback on it. But this series is my proverbial baby. I’m watching two of my most beloved characters– Constance and Dro– take their first steps into the literary world. I don’t know how they’ll do, and it’s a little worrying to hear what readers will think about a story I’ve poured my soul into.

That being said, I wanted to give Demon’s Daughter the release it deserved. That meant paying extra to work with a fabulous cover design company and go through the trials of printing and proofing physical copies, and learning the joys of proper book formatting. Oh, did I say joys? I meant agonies. I’m not kidding when I say the hardest part of printing paper books for me was getting the damn formatting to line up. I ordered at least two copies of each book, none of which were free. And don’t even get me started on headers and footers. So I learned the hard way to look at each book with excruciating detail before approving said proof. And if you’re going to print with Createspace, have a CMYK version of your cover available so your book cover isn’t filled with sharp, angry colors fighting to share space on the paper.

Demon's Daughter cover Ooooh...ahhhh...

Demon’s Daughter cover
Ooooh…ahhhh…

Most recently, I learned the value of media kits and submitting queries for reviews. I’m still waiting on some of them, but looking back I should have sent out requests for reviews before I started publishing. That being said, I have a couple reviewers lined up who are generally excited about reading my work and have a significant following that will hopefully trickle over to me. I didn’t choose this career for the money, but it’s not easy working for free.

These are lessons I wish I had known earlier, but I’m new to the writing world. I’m learning from my mistakes, and I know I will be better for it when my next release– the sequel to Demon’s Daughter– comes out in December. Like I said, I don’t do this for the money. While my dream is to walk into my favorite bookstore and see my book on the shelves (or even better, see someone reading that book and surprising the hell out of them by explaining that I wrote it), I would be perfectly happy writing independently for the rest of my life.

The year is barely half over, and I know more lessons, good and bad, are on the way. But the most important thing I’ve learned so far is to keep going. I’ve had days where I’ve been frustrated, days where I’ve been lazy, and days where I couldn’t find motivation to write at all (AKA the worst days ever). But when I have those days, I look up at my desk and see the two printed books resting against the wall. I think about the entire process it took to create them, and how endlessly satisfying it is to see them there, knowing I can do it again. Writing a book is a long, sometimes torturous process. But the end result, no matter how you look at it?

Perfect.

************

photo

Amy Braun is the author of the urban fantasy novels, Path of the Horseman and Demon’s Daughter. She’s been published in anthologies by publishers such as April Moon Books, Ragnarok Publishing, Mocha Memoirs Press, and Breaking Fate Publishing. To find out more about Amy, go to her blog literarybraun. Or you can find her elsewhere online at:

Graveyard Shift Sister: Me!

Whenever I do an interview and review for the Graveyard Shift Sister website, I also post it here in case there’s someone who follows my blog, but isn’t connected to me on Facebook or Twitter.

Since the last post was about me, I’d neglected to do that.

While I have no issue singing the praises of other authors, I have a hard time promoting my own work. A part of me feels like it’s tooting my own horn and I should be more modest. But blogs and books on writing (and my advice to other authors) state you must get over that.

Gretchen Palmer in the Tales from the Crypt episode "Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow".

Gretchen Palmer in the Tales from the Crypt episode “Ear Today, Gone Tomorrow”.

It takes a lot for me to go against my natural tendencies and promote myself and my work.  Thankfully, the super talented Sumiko Saulson was willing to help.  Sumiko interviewed me via telephone and it was great to be able to chat about writing, trends in horror and my own inspirations.

Read the entire Graveyard Shift Sisters interview with me here.

Authors, You Need This: A Press Kit

In promoting my latest book release, Spook Lights, I was asked by a blogger to send my press kit along with an advance reading copy (ARC) of the book. I said, “Of course.”

And then I panicked.

I didn’t have a press kit, sometimes called a media kit. I had a bio that I had written years ago, when I sent in my first few stories for publication, and re-written with each story submission. I’d polished it up a few times, but it was essentially the same bio.

So I went to work using the power of the Internet to find out what a press kit included. In my research into press kits, specifically ones for independent authors, I found I didn’t need anyone to write one for me, I could do it myself. But it would take a bit of work on the outset. Believe me, you don’t want to have to start this from scratch more than once.

No, I won't.  Well, maybe with the blackjack. But not with the hookers.

No, I won’t.
Well, maybe with the blackjack. But not with the hookers.

Maybe every other indie author out there has a press kit, but I didn’t. But I had one by the end of the day. Don’t wait until your work comes out to get your press kit together—do it before you start marketing your book because it can be an enormous amount of information to compile. Even for someone like me, who didn’t think I had anything to put in a press kit as Spook Lights is my first short story collection.

I also found it’s a great way to recap your work. I’d thought I wasn’t getting much done with my writing over the past year or so as I hadn’t completed my novel in the timeframe I’d set for myself. But in putting this press kit together, I found I’d been more active than I’d realized on social media: doing interviews, reviewing books, guesting on podcasts, and the like.

A basic press kit for a writer contains:

  • A one-pager on you as an author. This is your bio on steroids. Make it as interesting as you can, but remain professional. Also include the basics on the book you’re promoting: title, cover image, genre, page count, synopsis.
  • Press Release: One page on your release and what makes it special
  • Synopsis of and praise for your book: This is where to add those blurbs from readers on how your book impacted them.
  • Sample Q&A: This can be in the form of links to interviews you’ve done online or in a document you’ve created.

I’m certainly not an expert on press kits from the research I’ve done. But I want to stress the importance of having a press kit before you need one. Maybe you keep all of your interviews, guest posts, articles, book reviews, and other evidence of your work in one place, but I hadn’t until now. Read below for links to some of the sites I used to get my press kit ready.

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/04/23/press-kit/

http://www.webdesignrelief.com/writers-digital-press-kit/

http://circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.co.uk/2010/09/what-on-earth-do-i-put-in-my-media-kit.html

http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2011/03/book-marketing-your-online-press-kit/

https://robinmizell.wordpress.com/2012/07/21/how-to-assemble-an-author-press-kit-and-why/

Be sure to keep your press kit updated and have it ready to send to bloggers and editors–whoever contacts you for it. (There is a way to contact you on your site, right? Surprisingly, many websites and blogs don’t have one.)

Authors: Do you have a press kit for your work? What do you have in it?