#CoffinHop Gets Behind Child Literacy | Death by Drive-In

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Remember to enter my contest for a chance to win the DEATH BY DRIVE-IN CoffinHop Anthology…

CoffinHop13AnthologyPromo

AVAILABLE NOW

KINDLE

SMASHWORDS

PAPERBACK

Take a drive to the drive-in.

Be chilled to the bone.

A CoffinHop Anthology.

21 B-Movie Inspired tales to raise the hair on your flesh.

100% of All Profits are going to LitWorld.org,

a 501(c)3 non-profit organization

supporting child literacy and social improvement the world over.

Get your copy now because every child deserves to tell their story.

Every child deserves to lose themselves in the world of imagination.

Help make this happen.

Drive by the Drive-In.

We are also donating proceeds

from our official COFFIN HOP store

for all your COFFIN HOP SWAG!

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56.

#CoffinHop – Day 1| The Abandoned & The Disappeared…Tell me what happened to these ghost towns.

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Dust Devils dance a macabre dervish

Tumbleweed twists in torment

Ghosts of the Disappeared stalk the streets of Death

Screams of silence fill the graveyard of the Abandoned

Gates creak open with unearthly screams

Come down to the Graveyard

Coffins spill their bone chilling secrets

~ The Abandoned and the Disappeared ~

Tell me what happened to these Ghost Towns…

Twist a tale of terror,

Send shivers of horror down my spine with a story,

Flay the flesh from my skin as you open my veins and bleed me out with your poetry…

Rules

Submit your daily entry (1 per person per day) in the comments.

Submit either a Flash Fiction Piece/Prose

or

Short Story

or

Poetry

Prizes

There can be only 1 ultimate winner for this contest.

You will win

CoffinHop13AnthologyPromo

1 * Ebook – Death by Drivein (CoffinHop Anthology)

1 * Mystery Trick or Treat

Contest runs 24th – 31st October 2013

Winner to be announced – 5th November 2013

xxxxx

Kolmanskop / Kolmanskuppe, Namibia, Africa

Image Courtesy of  Damien du Toit from Cape Town, South Africa
Image Courtesy of Damien du Toit from Cape Town, South Africa

Where: Namib Desert, Namibia, Africa

Facts: Founded by a transport driver called Johnny Coleman. Trapped by a sand storm, he abandoned his ox wagon in the desert which became the settlement of Kolmanskop / Kolmanskuppe.

In 1908 a diamond was found here by an employee of the German railway inspector. Germany declared the area a Sperrgebiet (translated – Prohibited Area) and started exploiting the desert as a diamond field.

Driven by the wealth of diamonds and adventure, a town was formed that included modern amenities like a hospital, ballroom, power station, school, bowling alley, theatre, casino, ice factory as well as the first x-ray station in the southern hemisphere and the first tram in Africa.

World War 1 put the town into a sharp decline.

In 1954 the once diamond-rich town was suddenly abandoned and became a ghost town.

Tell me what happened to this ghost town…

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Dig up those coffin-hopping boots,

dance down to the graveyard for more

bone-chilling CoffinHop tricks & treats.

53.

Book Spotlight

AshBloodRush

My good friend, and fellow coffinhopper, Ash Krafton has a new release out

in her best-selling Demimonde Series. Book Two is now out for your enjoyment. 

*This book is on its way to me now and I for one cannot wait to dive into this story.*

Blood Rush 

The Books of the Demimonde, Book 2

Ash Krafton

Genre: urban fantasy
Publisher: Pink Narcissus
Date of Publication: May 14, 2103
ISBN: 9781939056016
Number of pages: 353 
Word Count: 94000
Cover Artist: Duncan Eagleson

Book Description:

 

Sophie doesn’t believe in happily ever after. 

These days, she’d settle for alive after sunrise. 

Advice columnist and newly-appointed oracle to the demivampire, Sophie Galen 

has more issues than a Cosmo collection: a new mentor with a mean streak, a 

werewolf stalker she can’t shake, and a relationship with her ex’s family that 

redefines the term complicated. And then there’s her ex himself, who is more

interested in playing leader of the vampire pack than in his own salvation. 

Becoming a better oracle is tough enough, but when Sophie encounters a deadly 

enemy – one she never dreamed of facing – it will take everything she’s ever 

learned in order to survive.

 

Excerpt: 

I don’t believe in happily ever after. These days, I’d settle for alive until sunrise.

I never thought I’d become a nine-to-fiver. Certainly never thought I’d be too pre-occupied to 

make fun of myself for being one. Sometimes the irony was too great to appreciate. 

While I waited for the elevator to arrive at The Mag’s foyer, I smoothed my scarf along the back

of my neck and hefted my tote bag a little higher on my shoulder. Every chime increased my

trepidation, tightening the fist of anxiety in my chest and the sensation of bees swarming in the

top of my stomach. I hated quitting time.

More underappreciated irony. Why not?

People chatted around me but I fidgeted with my zipper, keeping my gaze lowered and my 

mouth closed. Leaving at five in the afternoon meant more than crammed elevators and crowded

buses; it meant the light would fade soon and with it my peace of mind. The autumn wasn’t a 

happy golden foliage time of year for me anymore.

Although it was only early October, already the longer nights and shorter days made me

feel nervous and brittle. Bad enough I didn’t have a sweetheart to share the long nights but even

worse now that I knew what came out when the sun went down. Although I hadn’t had any 

problems with vampires over the last year, the threat never left my mind.

Vampires were out there. It was just a matter of time until I had to deal with them again.

Halfway during our descent, I felt a vibe. It was a mild one but, over the past year, my empathy 

had become sensitive to the point of being squirrely. The thin thread of power wound its way 

around each of the passengers as the DV who owned it checked out who else was in the car. 

When it reached me, it felt like a poke on the arm. I glanced over my shoulder, catching the eyes 

of an older dark-eyed woman near the back. She sent a tiny pulse of apology-ladened power and 

lowered her eyes. 

I smiled politely and concentrated on tugging my scarf loose. The DV didn’t approach me in 

public where any old human could see. We kept our dealings distant and private. That was the

way I preferred.

The door opened and I flowed out with the crowd, sunglasses on and scarf over my hair. I hoped 

everyone would more or less continue on together today so I could hide in the crowd a bit longer.

Without turning my head, I saw a rail-thin guy, his scruffy head and jeans out of place amongst

the exiting office employees. He leaned against the wall, scanning the people emerging from the 

other elevators. Seemed to have missed me—good. Taking shelter behind a taller woman and her 

chatty companion, I hustled out the front doors.

Outside, my luck ran out. My camouflaging crowd of co-workers suddenly scattered like roaches 

when the kitchen light is turned on. I hesitated, taking too long to pick a direction.

It was all he needed to spot me. I looked back through the glass into the foyer of The Mag’s 

building. He was on the move, eyes locked onto me.

I bolted.

Startled faces blurred past as I hurried through the five o’clock exodus, bumping into one man,

dodging another, and rounding the corner at a speed unfitting for heeled pumps. Steve Madden

would be horrified if he knew what I did in his shoes.

Well, Steve could kill me later. Right now, I was facing a much more immediate threat.

At the corner, a bus was loading and at this point I didn’t care if it was mine or not. An elderly lady

with a big shopping bag struggled on the steps and I danced behind her like a first grader 

with a full bladder. Once she cleared the last step I leapt up, slamming my token into the fare box.

The door closed behind me just as my pursuer caught up. For once I was glad for the driver’s

rude efficiency. The bus leveled and lurched forward. I grabbed the bar, almost swinging into the

laps of the front seat passengers. As we pulled away from the curb, I met the man’s stare through

the grimy glass of the door.

Rusted-orange eyes with wide pupils. 

Non-people eyes.

Werewolf eyes.

I sank onto an empty seat, heart thumping, gradually slowing. Glancing up at the sign over the 

driver’s seat, I realized I’d ended up on the round-about route. Close enough for me. I tugged my

necklace out of my shirt and kissed the pendant, my good luck charm, and offered a silent 

thankful thought to whatever divine powers had saved my behind, yet again.

Reaching into my bag, I pulled out a book of poetry and readied for a long ride home. Ironically, 

when I’d flipped to a random page, I opened to one of Dylan Thomas’s poems.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

I had no energy left for rage. All I could muster was a thankful thought because at least today’s 

escape had gone better than most.

About the Author:

Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is. 

She is the author of the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). 

BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted 

“Reviewer Top Pick” by Gravetells.com. Ash continues the story of Sophie and 

her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). 

She’s hard at work (when she isn’t watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, 

WOLF’S BANE.

Ash Krafton’s poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including 

Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She’s a member of 

Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog 

and contributes to the QueryTracker blog.

Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania 

wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely 

keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.) 

Until then, she writes.

Find Ash at:

The Demimonde blog

Facebook

Twitter

Goodreads

 

 


			

The Next Big Thing #11 | Blood & Ink

I have been tagged in The Next Big Thing by Judith Van Praag @ Hope Filled Jars. So in this game of “Tag, You’re it” my current Work in Progress gets to be tagged and then I have to tag 5 other writers’ WIPs. When Judith tagged me in this post and emailed me the idea behind it, I was thrilled to be in and to be tagged. This blog-tag post is perfect for writers as most writers I know, including myself, hate talking about ourselves but ask us about our stories and our characters and we can wax lyrical. Look for the five writers I have tagged at the bottom of this post – their “Next Big Thing” posts will be posted between the 11th and the 17th of September so make sure you keep your eyes peeled for those.

What is the working title of your book?

The Tattooist – Blood & Ink #1

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was reading an article about tattooing and how intimate an art form it can be and it sparked an idea. A few nights after reading this article I dreamed the first scene of the story. I woke up at 4am and started jotting down the dream and within a couple of hours I had the first draft’s main plot-points drafted out.

What genre does your book fall under?

Paranormal Psychological Thriller

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Heroine = Sasha Roulette
Keira Knightley is the perfect actress to play my main character in The Tattooist. She has that rare quality of being believable as a bad girl turned good but also has this raw vulnerability that gives her depth. Keira IS Sasha in The Tattooist.
Image credit - wallpowper.com
Image credit – wallpowper.com
Hero = Shane Patrick
Colin Farrell IS my bad boy hero. He is the perfect flawed character, the bad boy who you want to reform. He IS Shane Patrick, my bad boy hero.
Image credit - collider.com
Image credit – collider.com
Villain = Michael Dali
For my villain I needed to cast someone intense, charming, seductive but chilling – who better to fit this role than Viggo Mortensen. My villain is known by many names but the one he chooses to call himself is Michael Dali. Killing is not just an occupation but it is a calling and an art form to this ice-cold killer. Viggo IS Michael Dali.
Image credit - releaseddonkey.com
Image credit – releaseddonkey.com

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A paranormal psychological thriller about a tattooist who bonds psychically with the people she tattoos who realizes that she can now read a sadistic serial killer’s mind and is the only one who can stop him but if she can read his mind, can he read hers?

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I will be submitting it to agents.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I am still in the process of the first draft but typically a first draft takes me 4-6 weeks to write.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I have long been fascinated with tattoos and I have been designing my “dream” tattoos for years now. I have not yet found the perfect tattoo that I would want inked on me permanently yet so the search continues. But a tattoo is so much more than a symbol or a fashion accessory, in many cultures it is an integral part of the culture’s history and spiritual practices. Tattooing is a bizarrely intimate ritual: a ritual where a person literally carves a symbol, words or an image into your skin with permanent ink. As a writer alone this bizarre ritual where blood and ink are fused together into a permanent “stain” sparks my imagination. This long-held personal fascination with tattoos and the desire to seek out their history in different cultures + the article I read sparked the idea for The Tattooist.
The Tattooist is the first book in a Series: The Blood & Ink Series. The what if’s started piling up in my imagination and before I knew it I had a plot.
Next the characters themselves inspired me to write their story. All three main characters, the heroine, the hero and the villain have a very strong voice. I also wanted to write a story where the heroine is not your typical girl next door or perfect heroine. I love flawed characters and characters that have to fight their way through life. All three of my main characters are deeply flawed and in this story the truth is never just black and white. Nobody is all good or all bad in this story.
The story’s theme is about facing the fact that we all have darkness within us and that we could all be pushed to give in to that darkness if the stakes are high enough. All three main characters, the two protagonists and the antagonists fight this inner darkness as their own demons threaten to overwhelm them. At the end of the day whether they choose the darkness or the light is what will be both the making and the breaking of them.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

  • Tattooing
  • Samoa
  • New Orleans
  • Crime
  • Criminal Profiling
  • Serial Killers
  • Evil vs Good
  • Darkness vs Light
  • Psychic powers
  • Clairvoyance
  • Precognition
  • Telepathy

Tag, your WIP is “The Next Big Thing”

Message for the tagged authors and interested others:
Rules of The Next Big Thing
***Use this format for your post

***Answer the ten questions about your current WIP (Work In Progress)

***Tag five other writers/bloggers and add their links so we can hop over and meet them.

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book?
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Include the link of who tagged you and this explanation for the people you have tagged.
*****
Writers: What is your Next Big Thing keeping you awake at night?
Readers: What Next Big Novel are you biting your nails for in anticipation?

Kick-Ass Heroes – No! Make that Kick-Ass Heroines

I have two new addictions to add to my telly watching: Missing and Unforgettable. These two shows have been added into my favourites:

  • Alias
  • Nikita
  • Missing
  • Unforgettable
  • Rizzoli & Isles
  • Women’s Murder Club
  • Cold Case
  • Bones
  • Castle

What do all these shows have in common? Crime, Murders, Mysteries, Adventure and Intrigue – Yes! But they all have one important factor. All of them are headlined by powerful Kick-ass Heroes Heroines. What a change to see how far the world has come that top crime shows are no longer just headlined by men but that the shows headlined by women are becoming more and more common.

As a woman this makes me excited and as a writer it makes me doubly excited. I love writing about strong, independent women in a man’s world. I love reading about strong, independent women in a man’s world. What I also love about these shows is that every single one of these kick-ass heroines have not sacrificed their femininity to portray these roles. I love that a woman can still be a woman and do a “man’s job” as well as the man. I love that women are no longer held back by their gender and instead are empowered by their sheer femininity and their differences from men are what set them apart.

What a different world we live in and how things have changed, gender stereotypes most of all. I remember when I grew up, my favourite shows were Magnum P.I., MacGyver, AirWolf, The A Team, Rip Tide. These shows also had the common elements of crime, murders, mysteries, adventure and intrigue but they had a major difference in that they were headlined by men. Admittedly there was Murder She Wrote which was headlined by a woman but as much as I love Angela Lansbury, she was hardly going to be chasing down any criminals in an alleyway.

I shared with you, in a blog post last week, that I would have loved to have been an FBI agent. I guess this is one of the reasons I watch the television shows I do. I also love reading these types of stories. Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, Kathy Reichs’s Temperance Brennan series and James Patterson’s Murder Women’s Club are all favourites of mine. The women in these stories and in these television shows are feminine, intelligent, strong, independent, tough, take-no-nonsense kind of gals.

Kick-ass heroines are also a reason why I do not read romances or watch romances or write romances. I have nothing against romance but I have a big problem with the so-called “heroines” of the traditional romance. In my opinion there is hardly anything about them that can be called heroic. These women are characters who traditionally need a man to fix all their problems, to give them happiness and to show them the way. As a woman I am really annoyed by this completely false and outdated view of women. But this post is not about romances and the romance genre and again each to their own. Those genres have their fans but I am not among them.

Back to my favourite kick-ass heroines…

Not only are these headline characters strong women but the shows have great plot-lines. In particular, Missing is a show full of twists and turns, cliffhangers, lies and secrets: after all what else would a show about the CIA be other than this. But the real winning element of this show for me is the main character played by Ashley Judd. Her emotion and her adrenaline keep me on tenterhooks each week. For those who are unfamiliar with the show, it follows the story of a mother (Ashley Judd), who just happens to be a retired CIA agent, who is looking for her son who has gone missing. Each episode opens up a little more of her back story while also giving the viewer more questions. Each episode also takes us to a new destination in Europe as she is on the run both being helped (at times) by the CIA and more often than not being hindered by them. But nothing will stop her looking for her son and finding him. You know she will not rest until she has found him. What more womanly trait could you find then a mother who will not give up searching for her son and making sure he is safe? But this mother is no housewife. She is a tough, no-holds-barred, trained government agent who ends up getting in more skirmishes than the average mom would be.

As a woman first and a writer second it is so refreshing to watch, read and then to write about stories where the heroine is the one fixing her own world, solving crimes and mysteries and still having to navigate being a woman in a “man’s world”. These women are not given any special privileges because of their gender and if anything have to work harder, be tougher, and prove themselves more to be respected in their roles. They still fall in love, are still emotional and feminine and still feel conflicted about having to walk the tight rope between being a woman and being a woman in a “man’s world”. This is what draws me to their stories. I find they are more complicated, face more challenges and are more conflicted then men in those same roles are. They bring an emotional angle to stories that traditionally shy away from emotion. The best thing is that there will be even more stories to watch, to read and to write about Kick-ass heroines and that makes my day.

This keeps me inspired to write the stories I do. As a woman I want adventure, thrills, chills and spicy romance. Now we aren’t just the swooning young girl or the calculating older woman, we are the kick-ass heroines fixing our own problems and standing on our own feet. No longer are we the Bond girls. We are now Bond! No more Superman needed because we can be Lara Croft.

(Aside: I am also thrilled that for the first time ever, this year’s Olympics was a triumph for women when every single country that took part had at least one woman athlete competing for her place in Olympic history.)

Tell me… Who is your favourite kick-ass heroine?

What do you enjoy about series (television and/or literature) with women lead characters?

Stories: Passports without borders

Stories are passports without borders. Stories are passports without visas. Stories are passports to adventure. Stories are passports into the exotic and the extraordinary. Stories are portal doors into worlds unknown. Stories are magic carpets.

One of the first reasons that made me fall in love with stories is the ability to travel to exotic places, experience exotic cultures all without leaving my chair. I love traveling and often call myself a Gypsy at heart. New places usually mean new people to meet and new adventures to experience. In an unknown place the average and ordinary can suddenly become extraordinary. Having a coffee in my local cafe is very been there, done that. But having a coffee in some little plaza in an Italian village on the Amalfi coast would immediately be extraordinary for me. In the same way, that Italian local may find having coffee in my local cafe an extraordinary event.

For this reason I have always read books that are based in foreign countries and even foreign cultures. I come from South Africa, now live in New Zealand – to me neither of these two places is exotic. They are what I know. They are familiar. But when I have told American friends that I come from South Africa and now live in New Zealand – they are always fascinated. They want to know if I have seen lions in the wild. When I tell them that we had a family of leopard living on one of the farms my father managed, they go: “WOW!”. They want to know all about New Zealand especially since the Lord of the Rings Trilogy that really put NZ on the map. But for me exotic places are in Europe or in Central Africa/Northern Africa or the Amazon in South America. But I doubt those same locals who live in these areas think that they live in an exotic locale.

That is the joy of reading stories and in my case going one step further and creating your own stories. I love writing about places I have not been because I find often what may be fairly ordinary to the locals there becomes extraordinary and special in my fresh eyes. One of my favourite pastimes is searching for fresh inspiration for not just story ideas but setting ideas. Pinterest (new addiction) comes in as a very useful tool in these moments. I also love reading/studying/researching the history of each setting and often finds it seeds an idea in my imagination that I let lie and germinate to see what it could potentially blossom into. Nowadays with the ease of the internet and software like Google Earth/Google Maps your research into a place can become acutely accurate down to the street names and the name of that cafe on the corner in that Italian village on the Italian Amalfi Coast.

But at the end of the day the best research you can do when checking out a setting in an exotic locale (if traveling there is absolutely ruled out) is to talk to the locals on the internet. In this day and age there is an internet group for just about everything and there are blogs for just about every type of subject. So I trawl the blogosphere and see if there are any local-specialised blogs devoted to the locale I want to set my story in. Setting is so much more than just a geographic location or street names. Setting is also about the quirks that make that place unique. Is there a particular smell? Smell is a big one. For instance when I smell oranges and lemons I immediately think of Athens, Greece. One of the strongest memories of my time spent there 12 years ago was the tree-lined streets with trees heavy with oranges and lemons. So the smell of oranges and lemons now sums up Athens for me. Location bloggers will give away a lot of these type of tidbits in their blog posts. And most people are always flattered when you tell them you want to learn more about their home because you find it fascinating.

So while I have begun writing on my next project I have been trawling the internet for setting ideas. So I will leave you with some images from my Pinterest board. Some of them are definite settings in my story and some of just teasing seeds of inspiration right now…Mum’s the word (for now) on which settings I am actually going to be using in both the current WIP and upcoming ones. Perhaps you can guess which settings I have chosen.

Perhaps you have been to these places or live there. I would love to know at least 2 quirks that I could not find out from the internet that is unique to each place. Leave me a comment in the comments.

Tell me>> What exotic places would you like a story to be set in? What places grab your imagination?

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest (Abandoned mountain town in Sardinia, Italy)

Source: worldtopjourneys.com via Kim on Pinterest (Manarolo, Cinque Terre, Italy)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (The City of the Caesars, Patagonia, South America)

Source: underthesunexperience.blogspot.co.nz via Kim on Pinterest (Carcassonne, Languedoc Roussillon, France)

Source: earmchairtraveler.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest (Meteora, Greece)

Source: accommodation-bol.com via Kim on Pinterest (Dubrovnik, Croatia)

Source: une-deuxsenses.blogspot.com via Kim on Pinterest (Swallow’s Nest, Crimea)

Source: toptenz.net via Kim on Pinterest (Angkor-Wat, Cambodia)

Source: weburbanist.com via Kim on Pinterest (Gunkanjima, Japan – “Ghost Island”)

Source: roman-empire.net via Kim on Pinterest (Herculaneum, Italy)

All imaged embedded via My Pinterest boards – Feel free to follow me there…

Unveiling the Debut of Forbidden Territory

Forbidden Territory

by Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson

kim-forbiddenterritory

Book blurb:
Mica and Lexy have been best friends and next door neighbours since they were eight years old. They share everything and have no secrets from each other until… Tom arrives on Mica’s doorstep – a gorgeous exchange student from England. And Lexy is smitten.
 
Suddenly both girls are keeping secrets. Mica is hiding news about Tom’s English girlfriend and Lexy hasn’t got the heart to tell her best friend that her brother Eli, the guy Mica is mad on, thinks of her as only a friend.
 
After a massive fight, the girls decide the best way to mend their friendship is to spend some quality time together. And what better way than to go camping away from their parents and why not invite along the guys they are crushing on.
 
So the four teenagers embark on a geo-caching expedition into New Zealand’s native bush expecting a long weekend filled with flirtatious fun; instead secrets are exposed as they stumble across a hidden marijuana crop and its gun-wielding watchmen. Forced apart they spend the next forty-eight hours racing blindly in opposite directions as they fight to find each other before the hunters do.
Today I talk to the brains and the beauties behind this new YA Adventure Novel: Melissa Pearl & Brenda Howson. 
Melissa and Brenda are two best friends who have co-authored this YA debut set in the spectacular location of New Zealand. The book is filled to the brim with adventure and prove that girls can get up to as much mischief as boys can and live as many adventures. But enough from me. 🙂 Make yourself comfortable and get a little behind-the-words look at the world of Forbidden Territory and the friendship that inspired the friendship and bond of the two main characters: Mica & Lexy. There is even a sneak peek or two from some included excerpts.

1. Where did this story come from? What inspired it?

Melissa – We were out geo-caching with our husbands. We were hunting around the bush, looking for the hidden treasure when one of us said, “This would make a cool story.” That little statement sparked a plethora of ideas and by the end of the day we had each created two characters and come up with a basic storyline.

2. The story is told in two very distinct voices. You each chose a character and co-wrote the plot-line. 

a.) What were the 3 aspects of co-authoring a story that you most enjoyed?

Brenda – 1) spending time with my bestie, 2) creating a story together meant two brains coming up with ideas, which is so much better than one, 3) did I mention spending time with my bestie? She is so awesome and sharing this love of writing is the cherry on top!

b.) What were the 3 aspects of co-authoring a story that you found most challenging?

Brenda – 1) we live an hours drive away from each other and both have kids, so that makes it harder to find time to actually get together, 2) because there are two writers we needed to make sure we knew the other authors character inside out but sometimes we get it wrong, so rewrites are needed (so not a big issue though), 3) this is a future challenge, my bestie is moving to CHINA…. Soooo much more than an hours drive away!!

3. Geo-caching is what sends these two girls on an adventure into Forbidden Territory. 

a.)What is Geo-caching? 

Melissa – Geo-caching is basically modern day treasure hunting. There is a website with hundreds of different cache locations listed. You type the co-ordinates into your GPS then go searching. It is so much fun. You find little trinkets and swap them out for other trinkets. There have been some little badges and things that have made it all the way around the world. SO cool!

b.) Have either of you experienced Geo-caching before? 

Melissa – Yes – Ben got Pete and I into it. I’m not sure how he found out about it… Brenda?

Brenda – My husband Ben bought a GPS for sailing and when he was looking for instructions on how to use it, he came across a website about geo-caching. The first cache we tried, we accidentally put the wrong coordinates in and ended up walking soooo much further than we needed to, heh heh, but we eventually found the cache and were hooked. Treasure hunting is awesome!!!!!

Melissa – We’ve found quite a few caches throughout NZ. It’s a really fun thing to do when you’re away on holiday or if you have nothing to do on a sunny afternoon 🙂

4. Are either of you anything like your characters in nature or are they personality opposites to your real-life personalities?

Brenda – Lexy is not based on me but she does share a few of my characteristics, we are not opposite in nature. We look nothing alike however, she’s much hotter than me, but I did give her the career dream I wanted as a teen (Architect).

I would say that Mica and Melissa’s personalities are opposite though. Mica says things that Melissa never would (out loud anyway) 

5. This book is about the bonds of best friends and is co-authored by best friends. What is the funniest thing you can each tell us about one other?

Melissa – oooo – tough one!! One thing I love about Brenda is the occasional contradiction in her personality. She is an incredibly strong and motivated woman… very talented and goes about making things happen. Yet if it comes to complaining about something in a shop or having to question something in a public setting, she always hides behind me!! What’s with that 🙂

Brenda –  Heh heh… you are so right. I’m a total contradiction. Melissa is WAY braver than me and I take advantage of that. Hmmmm something funny about Melissa would be, she puts mayonnaise on EVERYTHING! This is only a problem for me because I hate the stuff, but Melissa has a love affair with it and I can’t think of anything she wouldn’t have it with… ok, maybe not with chocolate 😉

Totally! How embarrassing. Thanks for not mentioning my addiction to ketchup as well. LOL!

6. I know that Melissa has mentioned that this book might be first in a series of Mica’s and Lexy’s adventures…Can you tell us if this is just a rumour or is this only the first of their adventures?

Melissa – I’m very happy to say, it’s not a rumor. The next book, “Forbidden Waters” is due out next year and is already planned out. We just have to write it now 🙂

The book after that is tentatively entitled “Forbidden Liaisons”. We have some ideas for that story, but haven’t nutted out a firm plot yet. There is much fun to be had… she laughs evilly! Can’t wait to see how Mica and Lexy will deal with the mayhem we are going to dump them in 🙂

7. If you could pick a favourite guy in the story, which would it be and why?

Melissa – I am totally in love with Eli. Whether it’s because he’s my creation, I’m not sure, but I just find him delicious. I also love his quiet strength and the way he is with Mica. I love those two together.

8. If this book were a movie, who would play the lead characters?

Brenda – Agh that’s so hard. I’d actually love some unknown actors to play the leads, as I find over time, popular actors play their characters all very similar and that takes away from the story. I’d love some New Zealand actors to come out of the woodwork and rise up to the challenge. I actually think it would make a really cool movie too!!!!

9. Can you each give us an excerpt of your favourite scene in the story and tell us why they are your favourite scenes?

Melissa – I have so many scenes I love and I don’t want to give away spoilers, but one of my favourite little interactions between Mica and Lexy is…

“Mike,” I could hear Lexy forcing her voice to be gentle, “you told me it was just a scratch.”

“I lied.” Sniffing at the torrent of tears, I kept my head turned away.

Grabbing the side of my face with a gentle tenderness, she wiped at my tears and placed a little peck on my forehead. “I know,” she sighed, “you stubborn little shit.”

I think those few little lines show the depth of Mica and Lexy’s friendship. They are so confident of their friendship they can say anything to each other.

Brenda – This is probably my fave scene, and I’ve pulled a few sentences out so it doesn’t spoil anything, but basically Mica has just called Tom (Lexy’s crush) weedy. This excerpt is written from Mica’s POV:

I looked up at my best friend. Standing in front of me was a determined looking brunette and hanging by her side was the gun we didn’t want to use. Breathing hard, she looked up from the crumpled body and shook her head. “Weedy?” Her eyes narrowed.

“What?” I crouched towards the ground and grabbed the unconscious man’s hands.

“Tom’s not weedy!” Lexy bent to join me, whipping off the man’s belt and wrapping it around his wrists.

“He’s a little weedy.” 

“No he’s not! He’s gorgeous!” 

“I didn’t say he wasn’t gorgeous. I said he was a little weedy.” 

“He’s not weedy!”

I tried to quell my laugher. This was ridiculous, we were probably in the most fatal situation of our lives and we were having a whispering argument about whether or not Thomas Williams was skinny!

“He’s wiry,” Lexy finished with a superior tone and a tip of her chin.

I just love the way Mica and Lexy interact. They have such a deep friendship and know each other so well and sometimes they just have the funniest conversations. Love those two girls.

Melissa – CLASSIC! I nearly chose that scene myself 🙂

10. Thank you ladies for giving us a behind-the-words insight into Forbidden Territory and sharing a little of your own friendship with us. But before I let you go, tell me where can readers buy Forbidden Territory?

Melissa – the book comes out on July 1st and can be purchased digitally from Amazon stores and Smashwords. It can also be purchased in paperback from Amazon.

Here are the links:

Smashwords:

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/177572?ref=melissapearl

Amazon.com:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=stripbooks&field-keywords=Forbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl

Amazon.co.uk:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias=aps&field-keywords=Forbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl&rh=i%3Aaps,k%3AForbidden+Territory+by+Melissa+Pearl&ajr=0

Author bios:

Melissa Pearl and Brenda Howson have been best friends for about 12 years. Both mothers of two young children, both married to school teachers and both lovers of writing, they have a lot in common. Having spent many vacations away together, they have become as close to sisters as two girls can get. It was on one of these holidays away that the Mica and Lexy Series was born.

Melissa is the author of the Time Spirit Trilogy, which was published at the end of 2011. She is a fully trained elementary teacher, but is lucky enough to stay home and watch her kids grow. She is also spending every spare moment trying to turn writing into a full time career – and loving the process.

Brenda was the one who encouraged Melissa to start writing in the first place. Once Melissa got started, Brenda caught the bug and she has been writing for ten years, in between motherhood and working at a local high school in the computer department. She has won two short story competitions and been runner-up in another. Forbidden Territory is her first published novel.
Blog Tour Schedule & Giveaway!! – Click here
** This is what you could win on Melissa and Brenda’s YAlicious Blog**
And now for the giveaway. Please spread the word far and wide. The more, the merrier.We are giving away 3 prize packs, which include:
– a digital copy of Forbidden Territory
– a friendship necklace like the ones Mica and Lexy wear
– Forbidden Territory and Time Spirit Trilogy bookmarks
We are also giving away a Grand Prize, which includes:
– a paperback copy of Forbidden Territory
– a friendship necklace like the ones Mica and Lexy wear
– bookmarks
– a digital copy of Golden Blood (Bk 1 of the Time Spirit Trilogy by Melissa Pearl)

Writing Epiphanies in the Brushstrokes of Picasso

This last weekend I had the rare pleasure of attending an art exhibition of the Modern Masters “Degas to Dali” that called my city a temporary home on loan from The National Galleries of Scotland. With 79 works by over 60 Modern Masters from Renoir to Monet, Degas to Dali, Picasso to Warhol and Van Gogh to Matisse it was a feast for the creative senses.

You are probably wondering what an art exhibition of The Modern Masters has to do with writing and Wrestling the Muse. Everything. Writing is just another form of art. Where the great Masters of the art world used exquisite brushstrokes to create pictures and stir the senses, writers use ink blotches and words to create worlds that a reader can step into. Writing, Painting, Sculpture, Music are all forms of Art. If you are a writer, you are a creator of worlds and an artist of words.

What struck me during my tour of the exhibition was how alike a painter wrestling with his creation is to a writer wrestling with his. We both have a very specific vision of the completed work but at times the journey to get to that point of writing The End or framing that completed canvas is fraught with struggle. There was a room where the quotes of these great Modern Masters had been displayed on a wall. These are some of the quotes that stood out to me. These same quotes could directly be used for us writers.

  • I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. – Pablo Picasso
  • I have a horror of people who speak about the beautiful. What is the beautiful? One must speak of problems in painting  a story! – Pablo Picasso
  • If there were only one truth, you couldn’t paint write a hundred canvases stories on the same theme. – Pablo Picasso
  • Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working. – Pablo Picasso
  • It took me four years to paint write like Raphael (insert a Master of Literature here), but a lifetime to paint write like a child. – Pablo Picasso
  • Action is the foundational key to all success. – Pablo Picasso
  • An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought. – Pablo Picasso
  • Are we to paint write what’s on the face, what’s inside the face, or what’s behind it? – Pablo Picasso
  • Art is the elimination of the unnecessary. – Pablo Picasso
  • Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone. – Pablo Picaso
  • Others have seen what is and asked why. I have seen what could be and asked why not. – Pablo Picasso
  • Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.– Pablo Picasso
  • Painting Writing is a blind man’s profession. He paints writes not what he sees, but what he feels, what he tells himself about what he has seen.- Pablo Picasso
  • The hidden harmony is better than the obvious. – Pablo Picasso
  • The more technique you have, the less you have to worry about it. The more technique there is,the less there is. – Pablo Picasso

Just like the great artists, us writers have to get messy with our creations. We have to be willing to be ink-splattered. We have to be bold and unafraid. We have to let the story take control over the technique. We have to disappear so our characters can talk to the reader. We need to remember to tell stories like a child does. We need to let loose our passions into the story. We need to remember that up close we the artists may see only brushstrokes and mess but from a distance our audience the reader needs to see the full picture. We need to step back and look at our work with the eye of a reader to truly see if we are consistent in the path our story has taken. Remember to not only read but to look at beautiful art, listen to beautiful music, touch a beautiful sculpture. Seek out inspiration and it will show itself to you.


My muse is a tease

My muse has been distracting me this week. I have been teased with images of exotic locales that want to be settings in new stories. This happens to me every time I open my mind up to creating, which is what I have been doing this week. Suddenly I am teased by random pieces of inspiration whether they be, images, words, articles, media – you name it but the doors to inspiration are wide open.

I read an article today that says the average brain has 12 000 thoughts every day and it can run to having up to 60 000 thoughts a day. This does not come as a surprise. Our brains are always off on tangents even when and especially when we are supposed to be concentrating and working. I know mine is.

People always want to know where story ideas come from. It is the no. 1 question that readers like to ask writers and even writers like to ask other writers. My ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, the ordinary, the mundane, the strange and the extraordinary. I have had ideas come to me in vivid dreams. I have heard something on the radio, watched something on television or read something and it has sparked an idea. But the main thing that always starts me on the scent of a new story is: What if? I love teasing out the answers to that mysterious question.

I am lucky enough that I am never short of story ideas. I have two huge lever arch files of story ideas and story inspirations. But the annoying part is that my story ideas come to me while I am working on another current story idea. They never wait their turn politely. Unfortunately too I have a low patience meter so the minute a new idea comes to me I really, really want to drop everything and play with the new idea.

Is this wrong? Should I rather ignore it?

No, ignoring it does not make it go away instead just the opposite. If I actively try to ignore the new story idea, I can think of nothing else. Believe me I know this from experience. Even if I fill my waking hours with work and distraction, the idea will enter my sleep. It tugs at me constantly.

So I have now learnt that the most effective way to deal with new story ideas, to quieten their cries of need just long enough to hear myself think is to write them down and then file them. This way they feel acknowledged and don’t take their creative anger out on me or my sleep. Instead after writing the idea down, I can get to work on the story I am meant to be working on and that new idea has a chance to percolate in the to-be-done file of my imagination.

  • Pinterest is a fantastic tool to accomplish this. I can pin an image from the post that caught my attention and that way I can go back to that article when I am ready to play with it. Pinterest is also fantastic if you are more a visual thinker than a verbal thinker.
  • Evernote is fantastic for quick note taking/idea filing. I have the application downloaded onto both my laptop and my iPod so that even if I get an idea from a dram I can roll over, pick up my iPod and without turning on the light type in the note.
  • Then I also have my trusty Moleskine notebooks: I have a bright green version for my new story ideas and a deep blue one for my current WIPs. (Any excuse to buy more stationery 😉 )

I am truly thankful for an abundance of story ideas but I need to teach my muse to be more disciplined and to wait his turn in bringing me the ideas. But it is a catch-22 because I would hate to get to the spot that I don’t get ideas any more. So for this week, I have shelved the new story idea (it is a very tantalizing one) to percolate and see what comes of it.

Now it is back to work on the stories that need to be written and worked on.

Do you find you have too many ideas clamoring for attention?

How do you handle the new ideas that you just don’t have the time for?

Where have your ideas come from?

Hello June…I am going all Jackson Pollock on You

It’s June!

It’s time to get a little crazy, go a little wild, ride the winds…

I am going all Jackson Pollock on this month!

As stated last week… “I am going to do more than play Hookie with Tattoo. I am going to have a full-blown affair with Tattoo. The urge to write must take control over the urge to edit. I cannot wait for that delicious feeling of playing hookie and that first blush of the first draft.”

For the first time in months I am going to be flinging my creative ink at the canvas of my new WIP without thought of editing and embracing the freedom and unadulterated joy in WRITING that First Draft!

“A dripping wet canvas covered the entire floor … There was complete silence … Pollock looked at the painting. Then, unexpectedly, he picked up can and paint brush and started to move around the canvas. It was as if he suddenly realized the painting was not finished. His movements, slow at first, gradually became faster and more dance like as he flung black, white, and rust colored paint onto the canvas. He completely forgot that Lee and I were there; he did not seem to hear the click of the camera shutter … My photography session lasted as long as he kept painting, perhaps half an hour. In all that time, Pollock did not stop. How could one keep up this level of activity? Finally, he said ‘This is it.’

Pollock’s finest paintings… reveal that his all-over line does not give rise to positive or negative areas: we are not made to feel that one part of the canvas demands to be read as figure, whether abstract or representational, against another part of the canvas read as ground. There is not inside or outside to Pollock’s line or the space through which it moves…. Pollock has managed to free line not only from its function of representing objects in the world, but also from its task of describing or bounding shapes or figures, whether abstract or representational, on the surface of the canvas.”

– Hans Namuth 1950

I love the first blush, the illicit intimacy and the head-rush of a First Draft. First Drafts are all about the Writer, the Creative, the Artist. I love simply getting lost in a first draft and a new story. I love meeting the new characters and watching their scenes in my mind’s eye like a movie. I love that the story can and will go anywhere and everywhere.

What do you love about first drafts?

________________________

In other exciting News just in from this weekend…The anthology that could…

WooHoo! I am now a contributor to an AWARD-Winning anthology! “Tales for Canterbury” just scooped the 2012 Sir Julius Vogel Award in NZ for the Best Collected Works in Speculative Fiction-SciFi/Fantasy/Horror. This is a national award awarded annually at the NZ National Science Fiction Convention to recognise achievement in Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror.  Congrats to our editors: Cassie Hart and Anna Caro on scooping the win! The editing team did a brilliant job in pulling together a great crew of authors, who all contributed incredible stories all for an amazing cause. Once again, I am so proud and pleased to be part of a fantastic crew of authors and editors who helped get this anthology  out there.
There are still print copies available on the current print run of Tales for Canterbury. You can buy them here. *All profits* will be donated to the NZ Red Cross Earthquake Appeal. See talesforcanterbury.wordpress.com for more details. (* ie after we’ve paid any applicable transaction fees, printing, and shipping costs – neither Random Static nor the authors are keeping a cent)
A little background on the Sir Julius Vogel Award: The awards are named for Sir Julius Vogel, a prominent New Zealand journalist and politician, who becamePrime Minister of New Zealand in the 1870s. He also, in 1889, wrote what is widely (though erroneously) regarded as New Zealand’s first science fiction novel, Anno Domini 2000 – A Woman’s Destiny.[1] The book — written and published in Great Britain after Vogel had moved from New Zealand — pictured a New Zealand in the year 2000 where most positions of authority were held by women – at the time of writing, a radical proposition. In 2000, New Zealand’s Head of State, Governor General, Prime Minister, Chief Justice and Attorney General were all women, as was the CEO of one of the country’s largest companies, Telecom.

The Many Ways to Skin a Cat | Maria V. Snyder

 

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!*

😼   😼   😼   😼   😼

Today I have the pleasure of a well-known author’s company. I have been a fan of her’s for just almost 3 years now. When I picked up her book, Sea Glass, I was captured by her writing style, her incredible world building and her exquisitely crafted characters. I couldn’t get enough of her other books. If you are a teen or have a teen in your house, you will know exactly who I am talking about. If you love reading books written by story-weavers then you will know her too. She has carved a niche in readers’ hearts all over the world. She has written 3 successful series of books and many short stories. From when her first novel, Poison Study, was published in 2005, nothing has held her back from creating new worlds and weaving new stories. 

So make yourselves comfortable as the talented Maria V. Snyder and I have a conversation about Publishing.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about you as a beginning author and can you tell us the best advice you ever received before being a published author?

Maria >>  I started writing because I was bored at work (shhh…don’t tell!).  I’ve always enjoyed reading and being creative and I had dabbled with painting, acting, and dancing, but lacked the confidence to pursue any of those for my career.  The best advice I received was to be persistent – to keep writing and submitting.  Truthfully, when I first heard it, I thought it was one of those “eat an apple a day” type of advice – something you say that doesn’t mean anything.  But it proved 100 % true in my case – persistence paid off!

2. Nowadays there are so many options for authors but the sheer amount of publishing options can create confusion.
If you were starting out now as an author, would you still have made the same choices in publishing that you have made?

Maria >> Good question!  At the time I was sending my first book, Poison Study around there were other options like self-publishing, digital formats, and print on demand available, but I really wanted to be published by a traditional publisher and if I hadn’t sold the book, I wouldn’t have pursued those other options.  In today’s market, e-publishing is more popular, but I think it’s very difficult for a new author to stand out without spending lots of time and energy on marketing.  If I was just starting out, I think I would still try to find a traditional publisher first before looking into e-publishing, but I wouldn’t rule it out like before.

3. How long did you spend in the pre-publishing trenches before you got an agent?

Maria >>About four years.

4. Rejection comes with the territory in the publishing industry.
Did you receive many rejections before signing with your agent? How did you persist submitting in spite of the rejections?

Maria >> I received 40 rejections from agents for Poison Study.  After I exhausted all the agents who represented fantasy, I submitted the book directly to the publishers.  I had a list of 20 publishers and I was determined to send the book to all of them before putting it away.  While all this was going on, I wrote another book, Storm Watcher for kids ages 8 to 12.  When I finished that book, I sent it to 20 agents and actually found one who wanted to represent me.  When Poison Study found a publisher (#18 of 20), I called my agent and asked her to negotiate the contract.  She asked me why I didn’t send her Poison Study when I was searching for an agent. I told her she hadn’t listed fantasy as one of the genres she represents and she said, “Oh, I take anything I like.”  Sigh!  This was back in 2003 – she never did sell Storm Watcher, however, I recently sold it to a small publisher (Leap Books).  Even after 9 years, I didn’t give up on it.  It is hard to persist when the rejections keep rolling in, but I was determined to exhaust all the publishers before giving up.

5. Many unpublished authors believe that the golden ticket to success is signing with a top literary agent. Would you agree and why/why not?

Maria >>In my case, I sold Poison Study on my own and my agent helped with the contract. However that was 9 years ago and many publishers were still accepting unagented submissions – I found 20, but today a writer might only find 5 as editors are relying on agents to pick the gems from the slush pile.  An agent is very helpful and I always suggest you try to find one first, but if no one is interested, then to go ahead and submit on your own.  Be careful about which agents you query – not all are reputable.  I’ve an article about finding agents on my website here: http://www.mariavsnyder.com/advice/findingL.php

6. Do you get nervous when a book submission and a new contract is under way, worrying whether it will be accepted or not?

Maria >>Yes!  During contract negotiations, I’m always so thankful to have my agent.  He (my second as my first passed away) loves to negotiate and I can hear the glee in his voice as he reports to me on how it’s going.  He also gives me feedback on my novels as I working on them so I know if I’m in the ballpark or not – since he’s been in publishing forever, he knows if one of my projects won’t fly with my editor.

7. Can you share with us the process you go through once you have finished writing your book up until the time it is published?

Maria >>After I send off my book, both my agent and editor read it and send me comments.  I revise based on their comments and re-submit.  Then I get the copy edits and a few more comments from my editor (or her assistant).  I revise again, and either agree or disagree with the copy edits then re-submit.  Then I get the galley proofs and I have to go through every single line, looking for errors and typos (not fun) and then type up ALL the changes on the Author Alterations (AA) form (which is hell on earth) and send in the form and the pages with the changes.  About six weeks before publication, I receive a box of books in the mail (always fun!).  During this time, I’m also making up bookmarks with the cover art of the new book, updating my website, writing newsletters, preparing for blog tours, sending out review copies to bloggers and media, and doing a ton of other marketing and promotion.  With Touch of Power, I had two blog tours (one in the US and one in the UK) and did a number of events for the Australian release.

8. Nowadays the world is a smaller place through social media and the internet and readers/fans can now have and often demand to have more direct access to authors. 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?

Maria >>Social media is wonderful!  I always encouraged my readers to contact me through email, but I noticed once I had a Facebook page, the number of emails I received went down.  The trap is spending too much time on these sites and not enough writing your book.  I’ve fallen into that one many times.  If you’re a new author, I’d suggest that before your book is released, that you set up a website, blog and make a Facebook page at the least.  Some authors also do Twitter and Goodreads and other sites, but I think if you have too many, it’ll suck up all your time.  I use Facebook, Goodreads, my blog and website and I’m barely keeping my head above water (and I have a quarterly e-newsletter, too).  The nice thing about my blog is – it will automatically show up on my Facebook and Goodreads pages, saving me time.  I’d suggest you set aside a certain amount of time each day for social media and stick to it so it doesn’t dominate your life.

9. What would you say has been the biggest learning curve for you in the Publishing Industry, and what has been the greatest challenge for you?

Maria >> The biggest lesson was that not all books/authors in a publishing house are equal.  Certain titles and certain authors get more support and more marketing dollars because their books sell like crazy.  It’s not personal, it’s business.  The greatest challenge for me is to say no.  I really enjoy marketing and promotion and visiting schools and answering emails, and doing Q&As, that I don’t write as much as I should.  Plus my children are teenagers and will soon be off to college and I want to spend time with them – so juggling all my commitments is a constant challenge.

10. One of the most important relationships any author has is the one with your editor.
Have you had one trusted editor for the length of your writing career or have you had a few different editors?

Maria >> My very first editor, the one who called me to offer my first contract left the company six months later.  I’ve heard horror stories about orphaned authors and I would have had a heart attack, except my new editor called and told me not to worry since she was going to take me on.  And I’ve had the same editor at Harlequin since!  Love you Matrice!

11. There is a lot of talk about how Indie Publishing and Traditional Publishing are at loggerheads with one another.
What are your feelings about the rise of Indie Publishing and the digital book format?
Do you believe it can work alongside traditional publishing or is it a threat to traditional publishing?

Maria >> I believe the rise of Indie Publishing is great for authors.  It gives authors more options and greater control over their stories and more control over what type of stories they write.  I think it will also lead to changes to the traditional publishers’ contracts that will be better for authors.  They’ve always been the gate keepers and authors had to agree to their terms in order to see their books published.  This isn’t the case anymore.  I think most publishers are adapting to the changing climate and both Indie and Traditional will exist together in the future.

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?

Maria >>

  1. I’d tell her to do lots and lots of research – there are a few success stories about self-published books hitting big like Amanda Hocking and E. L. James, but there are far more stories about low sales.  
  2. I’d also recommend he hire a professional artist – book covers are still important no matter the format.  
  3. And I’d suggest no matter what the format, that she give away copies of her books to book bloggers/reviewers – that’s the best way to generate interest and buzz about a book.
Maria, thank you so much for taking the time to sit down and chat with me about Publishing and your writing journey. Thank you for the many generous tips and advice you gave. I know, that you made the Traditional Publishing process much more transparent for me and many others. I think we can all relate to you when you tell us “It is hard to persist when the rejections keep rolling in, but
I was determined to exhaust all the publishers before giving up.”. Rejection is a really difficult pill to swallow and the literary world is such a subjective world that it is hard to know what the perfect formula is for acceptance. “The best advice I received was to be persistent – to keep writing and submitting.  Truthfully, when I first heard it, I thought it was one of those “eat an apple a day” type of advice – something you say that doesn’t mean anything.  But it proved 100 % true in my case – persistence paid off!” – I have to agree that is Brilliant advice. Persistence in writing and determination in seeing your book published is key. Thank you again Maria. It was a true pleasure to hear your views on the “many ways to skin a cat” in Publishing. ~ Kim

Author Notes

Maria V. Snyder switched careers from meteorologist to fantasy novelist when she began writing the New York Times best-selling Study Series (Poison Study, Magic Study and Fire Study) about a young woman who becomes a poison taster.  Born in Philadelphia, Maria dreamed of chasing tornadoes and even earned a BS degree in Meteorology from Penn State University.  Unfortunately, she lacked the necessary forecasting  skills. Writing, however, lets Maria control the weather, which she gleefully does in her Glass Series (Storm Glass, Sea Glass, and Spy Glass). Maria returned to school and earned a MA in Writing from Seton Hill University where she is currently one of the teachers and mentors for the MFA program. Her published young adult novels include Inside Out, and its sequel, Outside In, both are about the dystopian and fully-contained world of Inside.  Her latest release is Touch of Power, which is about healer dealing with a plague stricken world.

You can find her at:

Her Website: http://www.MariaVSnyder.com

Her Blog: http://officialmariavsnyder.blogspot.com

Shivers down my spine…

We all have had those moments of spine-chilling fear…when the shivers of chill make their way slowly down our spine, every hair on our body rises, our bones seem to turn to water and the back of our necks prickles. Our bodies surge with adrenalin and we fight the instinctive response to flee or fight. Fear is one of the core base emotions. We all know what it is. We all know when it has struck…

Sleep, those little slices of death, how I loathe them. – Edgar Allen Poe

I am a part of a stellar group of authors called TESSpecFic ** We are “The Emissaries of Strange: A Speculative Fiction Writer’s Collective” is a group of writers whose fiction fits under the speculative fiction umbrella. Our captain, the lovely Marie Loughin set us a question that stirred in each of our hearts this week: What is Horror?

This is a question that I faced at the end of 2011 when I was getting ready to pitch my WIP to an agent. Genre can be a tricky question. Especially these days when there are so many variations on the classic genres and so many sub genres to further muddy the genre waters. When I set out to write my WIP, I was not thinking in terms of genre. I was thinking STORY and CHARACTER. I wrote the story that poured forth and decided to leave the question of genre until it was absolutely necessary to come up with an answer.

Right up until the moment that I sat before the agent, I was second-guessing how to genre-alise* (Yes, it is a term I made up.) my story. The days before my pitch I researched other stories similar to mine to see how those authors had genre-alised their stories. One term kept on cropping up: Horror.

There is a quake that rips the soul asunder. . . it is the pain of remembering. – Nrb

The day of my pitch arrived and as I sat before the agent and she asked me what genre the WIP was, out came the word: Horror. She allowed me to continue with my allotted 10 minute pitch and then kept me talking because she was intrigued and wanted to know more. After I had basically given her the synopsis, she sat back, clicked her pen on the table-top between us and told me that though she could see how I genre-alised the plot into HORROR, she thought it would sound better as a Paranormal Historical. She was concerned that the term HORROR would limit the marketability of what she thought was a very marketable story.

We make up horrors to help us cope with the real ones. – Stephen King

Mmmh I wonder what Stephen King  would have said if someone had told him HORROR would make his market limited? Seriously, who has not heard of a Stephen King story  whether in books or movies. I think the HORROR genre has served Stephen King very well and he has done more than ok with finding a market for his work.

So what is HORROR and why are so many people afraid of that term? Pun intended*

I think Hollywood and B-Horror movies have given us a vision of blood, gore, guts and general grossness. But that is just one variation of HORROR. Below is the Dictionary.com definition of HORROR…

horror |ˈhôrər, ˈhär-|noun1 an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust: children screamed in horror.• a thing causing such a feeling: photographs showed the horror of the tragedy | the horrors of civil war.• a literary or film genre concerned with arousing such feelings: [ as modifier ] : a horror movie.• intense dismay: to her horror she found that a thief had stolen the machine.• [ as exclamation ] (horrors) chiefly humorous used to express dismay: horrors, two buttons were missing!• [ in sing. ] intense dislike: many have a horror of consulting a dictionary.• (the horrors) an attack of extreme nervousness or anxiety: the mere thought of it gives me the horrors.2 informal a bad or mischievous person, esp. a child: that little horror Zach was around.ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from Latin horror, from horrere ‘tremble, shudder’ (see horrid) .

I think the very origin of the word answers the question: What is Horror? Horror is an involuntary trembling and shuddering from sheer terror. For me however, true horror is those scenes that play with your mind. Psychological fear is far more intense and horrific than mere physical fear. The mind is a scary place. It’s capacity for imagining the worst and the darkest is scary. Think of your favourite horror movie, the imagined monster behind the shadow at the foot of the door that is ajar is far scarier than the monster that is seen and can be fought. What is unknown is far scarier than the known? For me, that is true HORROR.

We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe. – Johann von Goethe

So I take the stand on my trilogy. It is HORROR Paranormal Historical. It deals with death, ghosts and revenge. There are scenes that gave me the creeps as I was writing them. There are scenes that I still don’t like reading after midnight because they literally have me seeing the ghosts I have written become real.

It is dark. You cannot see. Only the hint of stars out the broken window. And a voice as old as the Snake from the Garden whispers, ‘I will hold your hand. – John Wick

Horror is the difference between the UNKNOWN vs the KNOWN and the UNTHINKABLE vs the IMAGINED. Horror is those shivers down my spine, that prickling on my skull and the bone-deep chill that makes my heart want to stop.

This is how Stephen King defines Horror:

“The 3 types of terror: The Gross-out: the sight of a severed head tumbling down a flight of stairs, it’s when the lights go out and something green and slimy splatters against your arm. The Horror: the unnatural, spiders the size of bears, the dead waking up and walking around, it’s when the lights go out and something with claws grabs you by the arm. And the last and worse one: Terror, when you come home and notice everything you own had been taken away and replaced by an exact substitute. It’s when the lights go out and you feel something behind you, you hear it, you feel its breath against your ear, but when you turn around, there’s nothing there…”

What is Horror to you? Is it a misunderstood and misaligned genre-alisation of a core human instinct? Is HORROR just a label or is it more a style of story-telling?

Join my fellow TESSpecFic members on their blogs below as they delve into: What is Horror?

Schedule for blog tour: What is Horror?

Marie Loughin – Wednesday, 9th May

Jaye Manus – Thursday, 10th May

Paul D. Dail – Friday, 11th May

Aniko Carmean – Sunday, 13th May

Jonathan D. Allen – Monday, 14th May

Penelope Crowe – Tuesday, 15th May