Requiem at the Death Masquerade Ball

This is the Poem that was the first true seed for my new Secret Passion Project,

The Dark Fairytales.

The imagery in this poem was so visceral to me that the images haunted both my waking and my sleeping hours. It was the first seed for this world that I have fallen in love with and occupies most of my imagination…

Requiem At The Death Masquerade Ball

The time has come to bid adieu

Creatures remove their masks

The sirens sing a terrible requiem

The banshees shriek with unearthly delight

The werewolves howl into the night

The spirits moan with grief

Nasnus rattles his cage of bones and flesh trapped in rage and Grief

Ravens cackle and caw, taking wing bid their dark mistress Morrigan Adieu

Spirits wrathful, Spirits vengeful retreat into Van Gogh’s endless Night

She rises in fire born in Dragons’ breath, Leaving a trail of singed Masks

The fae dance a dirge as the night unmasks decay hidden in dead Delight

A keening claws at the air as the banshees sing their final Requiem

Ghostly queens, haunted kings dance to their madness in sweet Requiem

The sand walker drowns his prey in the immortal sands of Grief

Silvery sidhe spin the bewitched across the starburnt night in Delight

Spirits murdered long ago, kiss their beloved a hallowed Adieu

Samhain’s moon rises in skies of blood, the wild hunt tear away your masks

The gods cursed by pride flee into the murderous Night

Iridescent masks of silver stardust fall away revealing monsters of Night

Feasting on canapés of terror, feasting on nightmares in Hypnos’ Requiem

The blood moon rises, terrible creatures shed their faceless masks

Bones break, spines twist unmasking wolves driven mad by their Grief

Bound by their curse, madness is both their solace and Adieu

Only the forest and fog hide their bloodthirsty Delight

The forgotten gods revel in the music dancing in sinful Delight

Faceless Chaos in mask of anthracite, Nyx feared Queen of the Night

Beautiful Mesperyian cloaked in robes bloodied by those long bid Adieu

All creatures pale to the searing power of their King and Queen’s Requiem

Hades’ dark cruelty masked tonight, His lover’s torment his only Grief,

Persephone, a vision in liquid mercury, glides in his arms watched by Masks

Creatures remove their Masks

The banshees shriek with unearthly delight

The spirits moan with grief

The werewolves howl into the night

The sirens sing a terrible requiem

The time has come to bid adieu

All seekers of night and masks,

Spirits of All Hallows’ eve bid you Adieu

Those graveyards are emptied as the dead rise with delight,

to this Requiem

Forgotten is the grief,

hush as the Spirits dance you into the Night

© All Rights Reserved Kim Koning

Ssshhh… Secret Passion Project |Following Dark Story-Squirrel Trails #CampNanowrimo

So, it’s been a while since I’ve taken part in a Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) event. I had intentions of doing the official Nanowrimo in November last year but my schedule just didn’t allow for it. But this year I am taking part in Nanowrimo events. The first event, Camp Nanowrimo, starts 1 April. I have signed up. To make things even more fun, I’ve corralled my CP, Darcy, (Writing Critique Partner aka Story Sister aka Keeper of My Manuscript when I want to trash it) into joining in the writing madness with me this year. Actually we’ve decided to make the April Camp Nanowrimo (Camp Nanowrimo runs in April, July, September and Nanowrimo runs in November) an annual tradition for us. Our birthdays fall in the last week of March, they’re one day apart from each other, a few days before Camp Nanowrimo begins. So we thought it would actually be a lovely annual tradition to do the April Camp Nanowrimo together annually…

2019 April Camp Nanowrimo Project

This year I’m finally going to start drafting Book #1 of my new Secret WIP Series. I’m really excited to get started with this draft. This is a passion project. It is very different to my main WIP series The Tattooist. But it is still very much a ME project. It is deep, dark and deliciously twisted. But it is not a thriller nor is it crime. It fits into quite a few literary genres. But if I had to sum it up, it is a grimdark mythological dystopian fantasy. I did warm you, it’s not an easy story to peg into just one genre.

It is full of dark gods, monsters, creatures and humans. My main characters are all anti-heroes and villains. It is hard to tell the protagonists from the antagonists because in this story everyone is touched with a vein of darkness, only the degrees of darkness separate the characters.

I wanted to write a huge epic world-building story that just allows me to play on the page/screen. My favourite tv series, The Originals, ended its run and I wanted more of the same. I wanted to immerse myself in a world of ruthlessness and deep story threads set in a fantastical setting. In fact, my beloved Niklaus aka Klaus Mikaelson (main big bad in The Originals) and his ruthless siblings is very much an inspiration for many of my characters.

I wanted to have a project that I escape into, in breaks from rewrites/edits of The Tattooist. I had an epiphany that I work better when I am at work on two projects simultaneously. It is the way I read as well, I never have fewer than 4 books on the go simultaneously. Part of this is because I enjoy switching genres, whether it be in writing or in reading, often two or three completely different genres to match differing moods I might be in. I also find that in my writing, working on two wholly different projects set in two completely different genres feed off each other in inspiration and motivation.

This Passion Project has actually been germinating quietly for the last three years, ever since I got back from Europe. A seed was planted and I have been slowly watering it, waiting for the right time to work on it. I feel it is ready to be written now.

The working title for this series: The Dark Fairytales

That is not the real title, I’m keeping the actual title secret for now. This is a deliciously dark, decadent tale that I want to keep to myself for a while.

I’m going to blogging throughout April giving you snippets of my inspiration behind this series. So keep your eye posted for new posts.

Certain dark things are only meant to be loved in secret…..

I leave you with some visual aesthetics from my series inspiration board (it’s a private board) I’ve set up on Pinterest.

Writers: Tell me, are you taking part in Camp Nanowrimo?

Non-Writers: Tell me, what stories are you reading or watching that has you in their grip?

Camp Nanowrimo
The Originals (Netflix)
What is GrimDark?

The Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Jonathan D. Allen

Upcoming Blog Series: Researching “The Many Ways to Skin a Cat” in Publishing

Over the next few weeks I am going to be looking at all the ways “to skin a cat” in publishing. I am going to interview and feature guest posts with different authors from different publishing options. So if, like me, you are at that painful and exciting point of trying to make the most informed choice…stick around and watch this space. Perhaps one of the options will stand out for you and perhaps one of these authors that I interview or who guest-post will inspire you down the same path.

I am coming at this with a completely open mind and non-judgmental attitude. I am doing this series as much to get more information for myself and educate myself as I am any reader whom finds this interesting or useful.

Open Call

Also if you want to be one of the authors to be interviewed or guest post on this topic in this series, please shout out.

*My Guarantee: No Cats will be harmed or skinned in the writing of this series!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Are you a writer who writes in a hard-to-market genre? Do you cross or blend genres in your stories? Have agents and editors told you they love your work but don’t know how to market it because it is so “different”? Don’t fear…here’s one author’s take on how he made his writing style work for him and how he took the publishing reins into his own hands…

In interview #2 on The Many Ways to Skin a Cat I have the pleasure of Jonathan D. Allen’s company. He kindly agreed to sit down with me and chat about Publishing, the route he chose and  the tips he has learnt along the way. Jonathan found that his talent for blending the genres of dark fantasy and horror didn’t necessarily translate well to the Big6 but this did not stop him. He took matters into his own hand and decided to go the Indie route.

1. Can you tell us what “being Indie” means to you?

Jonathan >> It means being the master of my own destiny. That can be a good and a bad thing – if things go well, not only am I able to take the kudos, but most of the profit comes back to me, and can be re-invested into things like covers and editing. Of course, if things go badly, I also take the burden of those losses and mistakes. It’s enormously freeing but also scary and depressing at times.

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion. Why did you decide to go the pure Indie route of self-publishing?

Jonathan >> After a round of rejections from literary agents (most of them friendly and personal – some even praising the writing but saying they didn’t quite know how to sell it), I realized a few things. One was that, in the old model, the traditional route might well have worked for me. It also answered a burning question that’s plagued me throughout my career: when would I be ready? Those responses told me that I was now ready. At the same time, I realized that the kind of fiction I write has limited mass appeal, and I have no interest in changing what I write. If I really wanted to blend genres in the manner that I’m currently pursuing, it made a lot more sense to go it alone, at least for a while.

3. You hear of authors switching methods of publication from seeking traditional representation from agents & the Big6 to small press to self-publishing. Did you try any other route in publishing before settling on self-publishing and can you tell us what these routes were?

Jonathan >>As I said above, I did try the agent thing. That had been my dream for years – close to 23 now: get the agent, get the publishing contract, and then see my books in stores. I was 13 years old when I figured out that whole equation, and it was just “what you did” if you wanted to be a novelist. I still toy with the idea of going back to the old way of doing things, but sooner or later something occurs that reminds me that things have changed forever. I won’t lie, part of me misses that old system, but I’m also excited about the future of this industry.

4. On the converse side of the debate, are you a dyed-in-the-wool Indie author or would you ever consider the lure of a Big6 publishing contract?

Jonathan >>Right now, I’m flexible. I would prefer to stay indie or possibly move over to a small press that gets what I’m trying to do, but I also won’t lie: I’d love to be able to do this full-time, and if a large six-figure advance dropped in my lap, I’d have to snap it up. I don’t necessarily see that as “selling out”, as I would never accept a contract, no matter the size, that changed what I’m doing. Of course, my current path makes that dream contract a lot less likely, anyway.

5. What would you say is the most important piece of advice you were given in your dream to become a published author?

Jonathan >>”You know, you can do this.” I can still hear that in my head all these years later. Those came from my 10th grade English teacher, who encouraged my creativity at a critical time. She allowed me latitude in the papers that I wrote for that class, and showed me ways that I could use my imagination in not just creating stories, but in my everyday life. I learned from her that I had…well, an exceptional imagination, but I had always believed that either others were better at it, or I was wasting my time with it. She showed me quite the opposite.

6. Being Indie means that you have to be your own Marketing guru and Public Relations expert, what have you learnt about marketing your own books as an Indie Author?

Jonathan >>That I’m not a very good marketer. Actually, I’m not so sure how I’ve done, as I’ve followed a lot of the “conventional wisdom”, consumed marketing books for self-publishing, done book blog tours, etc. and seen very little bang for my buck. I’m slowly realizing that the only real conventional wisdom that works is the oldest one: the best marketing for your books is writing and releasing another book (or short story these days).

7. Everyone keeps on about the importance of developing “your own brand” as an author. Do you agree and how have you built “your own brand”?

Jonathan >>To some extent, I do agree. I couldn’t tell you exactly how my “own brand” would be packaged, but I do know that my stories have certain themes in common, and I can see how they’re evolving as I write them. I think sometimes writers fear that establishing a brand means they won’t be able to write what they want, but I tend to disagree. Look at Stephen King. He’s written sci-fi, horror, straightforward literary fiction, and fantasy, yet each of those stories have an undeniable “Stephen King quality”. It’s all about establishing a signature quality. I’ve focused on that and keeping my book covers consistent as a way of building a brand. The other stuff seems like wasted time.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet. How important a tool do you believe social media is to an author today and what tips would you give an author in how to use it effectively?

Jonathan >>I think it’s incredibly important, but not in the ways that a lot of social media marketers would tell you. Sure, it’s a way to advertise your work and maybe get more people aware of your existence as an author, but I think it’s far more important as a tool to connect with other authors, publishers, and readers on a personal level. I’m a total Twitter junkie, and I always shake my head when I see people who spam a link to their book, with no other information, over and over. I think it’s fair to expect a little of that when you follow an author, but the whole point of something like Twitter is carrying on a conversation or giving micro-blog updates to friends/readers. The same applies to Facebook.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in Indie Publishing,  and would you say the greatest challenge was the publishing aspect or the marketing aspect?

Jonathan >>Marketing. Hands-down. I’m in a difficult-to-market genre, which makes getting across the unique aspects of my story even harder. Many times I wonder if the issue is really my approach or just that I’m writing material that is difficult to package.

10. Considering the question of editing, how important do you think it is that all books (Indie or Big6) be edited professionally?

Jonathan >>Extremely. I will not allow a novel to be released under my imprint without it having been edited professionally. The same goes for the beta reading process – nothing leaves without at least one level of beta reading (usually two). Would you want to buy a product that hadn’t been quality tested at some level? I think it’s the same thing here.

11. If you have a Big 6 contract and/or an agent – you have project deadlines to keep you motivated to finish that draft and keep you from procrastinating. How do you, as an Indie author, keep yourself motivated to keep finishing those drafts?

Jonathan >>I’ve found that deadlines are counterproductive to my own creativity. That’s not to say that I “wait for inspiration”, I’ve set a goal of writing at least 1,000 words a day, but just that when I have a set deadline, I feel pressure and begin to worry too much over mechanical aspects of the work. That’s fine in my day job as a technical writer – in fact, it’s desirable, but fiction is a whole different beast. I keep myself motivated simply by knowing that I’m mentally healthier when I’m writing on a regular basis. That and the 1,000 word goal are enough to keep me going.

12.  If an unpublished writer came to you to get advice on whether they should go the Indie route or a more Traditional route in publishing, what 3 tips would you give that writer?

Jonathan >>

  1. Think about what you want – what you really want – out of your career. Be brutally honest with yourself. Are awards and associations important? Would you rather make more money at the risk of appearing less “legitimate”, or would you like to have someone help you chart the waters? There are lots of pros and cons to both traditional and indie publishing.
  2. Ask lots of questions. Talk to people who’ve been both places, whether it’s one person who has done both or several who only have experience in one or the other. Get a feel for what their experiences have been like. Ask them about their pros and cons, and weigh those against what you want from your career.
  3. Remain flexible. Over the course of my first year, I’ve already gone back and forth between which I would prefer, and while I’m fairly settled at this point, I still have some doubts from time to time. What you want may change as your career evolves – try to be open to those changes.

Thank you for taking the time to chat with me and my readers today Jonathan. What really resonated for me was: “in the old model, the traditional route might well have worked for me. It also answered a burning question that’s plagued me throughout my career: when would I be ready? Those responses told me that I was now ready. At the same time, I realized that the kind of fiction I write has limited mass appeal, and I have no interest in changing what I write. If I really wanted to blend genres in the manner that I’m currently pursuing, it made a lot more sense to go it alone, at least for a while…” So often we as authors want to stretch our wings and pursue a genre that is perhaps a little more off-the-wall than others. Understandably traditional publishing is generally speaking less willing to take a risk on a hard-to-market genre or a blended genre story. This is when Indie is sometimes the best option. At the end of the day, readers will read stories that keep them turning the pages, not caring whether it is an Amazon imprint or a BIG6 imprint. Good stories trump marketing and genre-marketing any day. As you have said Jonathan: “I’m slowly realizing that the only real conventional wisdom that works is the oldest one: the best marketing for your books is writing and releasing another book…”. No matter what route a writer chooses to publish, Keep Writing. ~ Kim

Author Notes

Born and raised in the rural Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Jonathan wrote his first fantasy/sci-fi novel at the age of 13. After studying writing and communication at James Madison University, Jonathan turned his passion for writing into a full-time technical writing career in the DC Metro area, working for companies like Sprint/Nextel, Time Warner Cable, and Sirius XM Radio, where he had an opportunity to combine his love of music with his love of writing.

 He may have drifted away from fiction at times, but it was always his first love – and he always returned to it. Now living in Bethesda with his wife, two cats, and two quirky guinea pigs for whom his publishing company is named, he crafts the kinds of stories that he had always hoped to read but just couldn’t quite find.

You can find him at: