Monday, December 31, 2012

It's Just Another New Year's Eve

This blog post is repeated every year on this day.

Here's what I'll be listening to when the clock strikes midnight, my own little tradition over the decades. Happy New Year to everyone.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

An Evening with Stephen King

I know this is a little different than my usual Saturday videos. I smurched the link from The Passive Voice. This is an appearance by Stephen King at UMass Lowell earlier this year. It's worth watching the whole thing for a brand new short story that Mr. King reads.

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Little Green Monster

...and I don't mean Oscar the Grouch from Seseme Street.

It's all too easy to get caught up in what other writers have, be it sales, fans, offers, etc. In the long run, it does you no good dwelling on it. You become so bitter and jaded that no one wants to be around you, including your muse.

I know from whence I speak. When I started writing Zombie Love in November of 2005, I googled the title. Nothing, nada, zip came up. Then over the next few years as I pitched my story, agents and editors didn't want to touch it. A zombie as a romantic comedy heroine? Ple-e-e-ease.

Now? Now, we have zombies everywhere. Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Married with...Zombies, The Walking Dead and *drumroll* Warm Bodies: A Zombie Love Story.

I could get pissy and throw a tantrum about why my story, written way ahead of the others, didn't get choosen *gasp*. But it's a "moo" point as Joey from Friends would say. All I can do is keep writing because there are readers who do appreciate what I do.

And I'm not going to be jealous because Warm Bodies looks exactly like the kind of thing I'd want to watch--the whole reason I created Sam Ridgeway in the first place. Here's the first four minutes of Warm Bodies, which will be in theaters February 1st.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Christmas Loot!

What can I say--I have a cool family! For Christmas, another Ghoulia Yelps doll appeared under our tree along with Darth Maul and Monster High earbuds. I'll be rocking as I listen to Metallica and Pink.

In the background, you can see the beautiful new hardwood flooring DH, GK and I installed all by our lonesome. Literally last week, we got the blinds and new curtains put up and moved the furniture back in. It's the first time we've used the family room since the spring of 2008. That's when we started our little renovation project that was rudely interrupted by a hurricane.

In other news, tomorrow will be two weeks since Buddy the Elf Dog showed up in our driveway. He's a full bred Yorkie, male, about 4-5 years old, recently groomed. He's already become a member of  our pack. Last night, he was under the covers with DH and me. We still haven't located his owners, and I fear if/when we do, they entire family will be crying.

Well, I'm off to have lunch with my old critique group, and then muchos writing this afternoon.

Stay warm and safe everyone!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Holiday Movies for Girls Who Don't Think Like Other Girls

It's that time of year again. Frankly, I'm tired talking about the business, so continuing Will Graham, aka William Simon's take on non-traditional Christmas movies, here's a few of my favorites:

RED - Yes, Bruce Willis hits the list again, as retired CIA assassin Frank. The man's just trying to live his life and flirt with cute-sounding Sarah, the government clerk who reissues his pension checks when he tears them up just so he can talk to her. But when someone puts Frank on their hit list and takes out his innocent light-up snowman and reindeer on the lawn, I'm with him all the way as kills the bastards who ruined his Christmas decorations and threaten the spunky Sarah.

National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation - Still the best Vacation ever! Chevy Chase and Randy Quaid are at the top of their game. Between the insane squirrel, the cat shorting out the Christmas tree lights, and Cousin Eddie's well-meaning kidnap plan, the laughs are non-stop. Trivia note: This was one of Johnny Galecki's (The Big Bang Theory) first roles as the latest Rusty. To bad he couldn't appear in the hilarious Old Navy commericals this year.

Scroodged - A modern day take on Dickens' A Christmas Carol, Bill Murray and the cast gives their own perverse spin on the classic. Carol Kane's sadistic Ghost of Christmas Present will always by my favorite. There's been many a time I want to slap someone acting like an idiot, but I don't know if I could do it with her pixie-ish glee.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas - Jack Skellington, the Halloween King, meant well when he accidentally stumbled into Christmas Town. How can anyone resist festive lights, candy canes and presents? But it all goes horribly wrong when Jack believes he and his cohorts can do Christmas better than St. Nick and the elves

What about y'all? Any odd traditional choices you'll be watching tonight or tomorrow?

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays

A little treat for you all!

Friday, December 21, 2012

Uh, So Where's the Apocalypse?

I was a little disappointed this morning. If the world had ended, I wouldn't have had to let the dogs out to pee at dawn o'clock. But then, predicting the end of the world is like the little boy who cried wolf. No one believes you. I wish I could say I was surprised that I did have to let the dogs out.

A couple of weeks ago, GK asked why everyone claimed the Mayans predicted the end of the world. We'd already covered the Olmec civilization in world history. We talked about them being the precursors of the Mayans, how humans tend to settle the same regions over and over again. How several ancient civilizations were just as accurate with the astronomical calculations.

Me: "Think about it. The Mayans didn't have paper. They lived in a jungle. How did they keep records?"

GK: "They carved them in stone like the Egyptians because it's the most durable stuff they had. Metal working wasn't available in the Americas until much later than the Europeans and Asians."

Me: "Right. Now if your chiseling a calendar into stone--"

GK: "That's a lot of work!"

Me: "Yep. We use paper, and how many calendars do we do into the future?"

GK: "One or two. Oh! So they did a few hundred years into the future, their arms got tired, and they figured they do the rest later?"

Me: "Pretty much."

GK: "Does that mean some doofus on TV is going to claim we were stupid seven hundred years from now because our calendar didn't go past December 31st?"

Me: "Probably. But they won't have TVs."

GK: "Fine. Some doofus will claim through the telepathic implant network that we were idiots who thought the world ended on December 31st, 2012?"

Me: "Yep."

GK: "This is giving me a headache. I'm going to make chocolate chip cookies."

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Comediva Does It Klingon Style!

The fabulous folks at Comediva have an excellent present for their fans! A FREE MP3 download of their viral parody 'Klingon Style'!

If you didn't catch Comediva's Star Trek tribute to PSY's 'Gangnam Style' this summer, here's a repeat:

Monday, December 17, 2012

Where the Hell Is the Next Book?

The last two-and-a-half months have been...weird, I guess is the best way to put it.

First, back-to-back colds waylaid me. It's one of the drawbacks of having a chronic health condition that leaves me immune deficient. A friend blames my diseases of the month on my trips to the B&N Cafe' or Starbucks, but there are times when you just need to get out of the house. And I can stay away from strangers, but that doesn't mean DH or GK won't carry some germ home that doesn't affect them in the slightest but sends me to the hospital.

On top of my illnesses, one of GK's wisdom impacted against the twelve-year molar that hadn't erupted yet, shoving it under the six-year molar. This happened in the two months between regular dentist and orthodontist visits (I saw the x-rays), which meant it had to be dealt with NOW. Of course, the kid bounced right back within two hours after surgery.

Mom, on the other hand, had massive amounts of parental stress and financial anxiety. First, the orthodontist and the oral surgeon decided to put me in this middle of their argument over the best course of treatment. Then, the money I had put aside from this summer's excellent sales for the fall slow down had to be used for GK's surgery because the insurance company decided to be dicks about covering the amount that, according their own f***ing policy, should have been covered.

Unfortunately, illnesses, the professional prick-waving contest, and yelling at insurance personnel over the phone meant I fell wa-a-ay behind on my word output for both the Suzan books and the Alter Ego's holiday release. And we won't even talk about editing.

I got the final edits done on Season of Magick: Winter and uploaded the story two weeks ago. That means it was only five weeks late.

I thought if I plowed through, I might get Blood Sacrifice finished and up before the end of this month. Then this weekend happened.

In the wake of certain events, I realized how little time I was spending with GK, how damn lucky I am to have him. I spent a lot of time hugging him over the last three days. At twelve, he's starting to hit the "Mo-o-o-m, really?" stage when it comes to displays of affection. But he's been pretty tolerant after what happened in Connecticut.

On top of everything else, GK found a stray dog in our driveway when he went out to bring in our garbage can Thursday night. Buddy (we had to call him something) appears to be a full-bred Yorkie about four-five years old. We've spent the last four days combing the neighborhood for his owner, posting his picture on our subdivision's Facebook page, and hitting the local vets and pet stores.

The three of us humans agreed we couldn't take him to a shelter. We also couldn't leave him outside when the temps were dipping into the thirties, and a coyote pack has been known to eat other small pets from the neighborhood. Dax the Wonder Dog gave in when he realized he had a playmate closer to his size.

So Buddy the Elf Dog is staying with us until we can locate the owner. This means I get to referee between a long-legged beagle and a Yorkie whose balls are bigger than his brain. It's been interesting.

So what does this all mean?

Hug your kids. Cuddle your puppies. And you'll see Blood Sacrifice sometime in 2013.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

No Words

To the victims and survivors of Sandy Hook, may you find your peace.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The Publishing Gold Rush Is Digging Up Lead

Writers refuse to learn basic business principles. Publishing companies refuse to learn basic business principles. And we wonder why the publishing industry is in such bad shape.

I've complained about Simon & Schuster teaming up with vanity press Author Solutions (which, by the way, is owned by Penguin).

This week, Kris Rusch vented her own frustration at writers refusing to take responsibility for their careers.

Now, yet another small publisher may be in the process of going the way of Triskelion (I don't even want to go there), Dorchester Publishing (extensive chronicling by Brian Keene) and Aspen Mountain Press (Samantha Combs's report of the efforts to save the company).

Now, it appears Silver Publishing sinking rapidly. A publisher paying late is never a good sign. When the publisher starts throwing around legal threats and writers are holding a fundraiser for the publisher, things are bad. There's been several flame wars over the matter already, and it'll probably get worse before Silver finally succumbs. The Erotic Romance Blog catalogs some of what's going on.

Unfortunately, where there's smoke, something burning hot usually lies underneath. The fingerpointing and spinning is too much like the other defunct publishers I mention above to not take this seriously.

If you're a writer wanting to contract with a publisher, for the love of Murphy, CHECK THEM OUT before signing the contract!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Why the Kitchen Sink Is Important

SFF Author Scott Lynch wrote a scathing retort to a reader who complained about Scott's heroine in Red Seas under Red Skies being a black, middle-aged woman.

As I read it, I wanted to scream, "Hell to the yeah!"

I want to read about variety. I want to write about variety. I want to share with my son that variety exists in this world.

One time, another writer read one of my Bloodlines books. Her primary complaint was that I threw in every race and religion as well as the kitchen sink. Most of my characters are vampires. They reflect the culture and religion of the time they were born.

I simply stared at her and said, "You expect me to take that criticism seriously?"

"It will confuse people," she replied.

"So your personal life is confusing to you?"


I leaned back and folded my arms. "Your mom's Mexican. Your dad's American. And you're married to a Chinese guy."

"Never mind."

Monday, December 10, 2012

The End of the World Is Nigh

You got to love a world leader with a sense of humor. (And the Aussies will probably survive!) 11 days and counting...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack - No. 13

I don't think I have to tell you what happens here. *grin*

Friday, December 7, 2012

Season of Magick: Winter Is Live!

Finally! The last book of the Seasons of Magick series, Winter, is available!

The worst thing Tom Laoch ever did in his previous life was to turn down the advances of a goddess. And not just any goddess, but Morrigan, the goddess of war, magick and death.

Now, the gods have sent Tom back to Earth to save a Greenwich Village shop owner from a sorcerer, who plans to use her powers to destroy the human race. But Rain Bean isn’t just any businesswoman, she’s the mortal incarnation of Morrigan. Once she finds out Tom’s true identity, unhappy will be an understatement because everyone knows Hell hath no fury like a goddess scorned…

Novella, approximately 22,000 words or 80 printed pages

Many thanks to my readers for their patience!!

Seasons of Magick: Winter is currently available at the following e-book retailers:

Amazon UK
Amazon US
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Writers Gone Stupid

This is going to be one of my rants, so if you don't want to read it, CLICK AWAY NOW!

See? That was a simple choice, wasn't it? Click away. Don't click away.

So why is it that I get phone calls, e-mails, Facebook comments, etc., from writers who can't make a simple fucking choice?

Even before the Kindle and Amazon turned the publishing industry into the Wild West, writers had some choices. Submit to this editor. Don't submit to that editor. Write romance. Don't write romance. It's really not that hard.

My favorite though is when they ask me for advice and I tell them not to stand in the middle of the freeway at night. Yet, they do it anyway.

So why do so many writers stand in the middle of the freeway at night, stare at the headlights of the oncoming semi-truck, and not move the hell out of the way? I really can't answer that. That's the point I truly lose my faith in my gods and believe Darwin and the atheists were right all along.

These writers, still standing in the middle of the freeway, are stupid enought to ask me what they should do. I shake my head and say, "Die in horrible accident. Don't die in horrible accident. Your choice."

And invariably when I present the choice to the writer that way, he/she says, "What if I've fallen out of my wheelchair and I can't get out of the way?"

If that's your follow-up, I swear to Anubis, I will look at you like you lost your last marble, and I will say, "Wheelchair or not, why the fuck are you stupid enough to be in the middle of oncoming traffic to begin with?"

Monday, December 3, 2012

Writing Inspiration from Howard Stern

Listen to this Howard Stern interview with Lady Gaga. About the forty minute mark, Lady Gaga talks about perseverance. Substitute "singer/songwriter" with "writer" and "music industry" with "publishing industry" and you'll get a very good idea if you have what it takes to succeed in this crazy business.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack - No. 12

I can't tell you why this is Alex's song without revealing a major secret. SORRY!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dear CBS, The Defense Department Regrets to Inform You...

...that your publishers are dead because they were stupid."

Okay, I paraphrased Goose from Top Gun, but the end result is the same.

Simon & Schuster, a Big Six publisher which is a CBS subsidiary, has decided the only way to survive the epic upheaval in the publishing industry is to partner with...

Author Solutions?


S&S is that hard up that they go into business with one of the biggest vanity scam publishers in the f***ing world?

And you think calling your new scheme 'Archway' will hide the fact that it's a vanity scam?

This is part of the reson this blog is so late today. I wrote the first draft, then had to go back through a delete the f-bombs.

Which was pretty much every other word.

David Gaughran has an extensive run down of the epic stupidity of S&S.

What makes me incredibly sad is that I know some poor naive writer will spend his kids' college tuition for S&S/AS/Archway's "deal."

Sorry, folks, but publishing your own book should cost way less than $25,000.

Unless the fucking things are gold-plated.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Part 3

This is the week the folks I nominated should be posting their answers about their Next Big Thing. (At least, I hope they remembered to post them.)

Drum roll please for my nominees!

Onne Andrews
Robin Badillo
RM Brand
Raven Raye
Teri Thackston

I hope everyone had fun and learned something new!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Setting Up a Blog Tour

As I said in last Friday's post, a young lady contacted Diane Holmes of Pitch University with some questions about book review blogs and setting up a blog tour. Diane, in her infinite wisdom, forwarded the young lady's e-mail to me and Jennifer Bray-Weber of Musetracks.

I've edited and expanded my e-mail response to this young writer.

Here the rest of my advice to this writer on setting up a blog tour:
Hopefully, you've been keeping a list of writer/reader contacts as you've been practicing your craft. For example, I met Diane through Romance Writers of America. I met Jenn standing in line at a signing for Sherrilyn Kenyon.

Start with your friends. Some of them have larger followings than you and are more than willing to help out.

Check out other people's blogs and meet people. You never know when a friendly word will lead to something.

Once a blogger has agreed to host you, follow their guidelines on what subjects to blog about. Posting only your blurb and cover and screaming "Buy my book!" does not work.

For example, I tell my guest bloggers they'll get more hits on my blog if they post a funny personal story or something about what they learned on their writing journey. Or hot naked guys. Hot naked guys ALWAYS work (but for some strange reason, male guests are reluctant to do this).

One thing I will say is DON'T get hung up on promotion too much if this is your first book. Announce it, but be working on the next book!

Seriously, a big blog tour with only one book available is a total waste of time. This is the voice of experience. LOL First book? I went ape-shit and promoted the hell out of it. Sales were "meh." My eighth book, the one book I did absolutely no promotion on, has been my best seller. BUT folks loved it, then went and bought all my other titles.

When it comes to promotion though, do what feels right for you, and watch your pennies, and most of all, be working on that next book!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack - No. 11

Alex was one of the very first medical students at Johns Hopkins, but much to his father's concernation, he left school to join the Texas Rangers.

Friday, November 23, 2012

How to Query Book Review Blogs

Last week, a young writer contacted Diane Holmes of Pitch University. She was looking for a guide concerning how to query book review blogs. Diane, in her infinite wisdom, referred the young lady to me and Jennifer Bray-Weber of Musetracks.

Our young writer can't be the only one with that question, so my answer may help someone else struggling with the issue.

Here's a better edited version of what I told her:

When contacting a reviewer, do your homework just like you would if you were querying an agent or editor. Is this someone who reviews your book's genre? Is this reviewer currently taking submissions?

Most reviewers have submission instructions. I'm going to use Big Al's Books and Pals as an example.

Big Al wants a Kindle compatible format e-mailed to him. Period. That's all there is to it.

But remember diffferent reviewers want different formats, like EPUB or PDF, e-mailed to them. Others have a specific upload page on their site. Again, check their requirements. If the reviewer doesn't have submission instructions, then e-mail him/her and ask.

Some reviewers will accept a e-book that's gifted to them through a retailer such as Amazon. Some reviewers won't. Again, check their poicy.

Several review sites have more than one reviewer. Most book bloggers want you to e-mail the e-book in order for the coordinator to forward it to the next available reviewer for your genre.

For me, it's much easier (and cheaper) to convert a file through Calibre (e-book conversion freeware though please make a donation if you use it) and keep the files in a handy folder, than to gift the books from a retailer

But there are two things to keep in mind:

1) I strongly discourage paying for reviews. There's been a backlash among readers who feel they've been misled.

2) If the reviewer isn't sophicated enough to post his/her guidelines, you might want to consider passing on that reviewer.

To my readers, please note:
Most of what I'm referring to involves indie writers seeking reviews. If you're traditionally published, you'll need to talk to your publisher about their process for setting up book reviews for e-books. Many of these publishers encrypt their books files so only the buyer can read them (in other words, digital rights management or DRM for short).

Monday, I'll post the answer to the other half of our young writer's question--What about blog tours?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Part 2

Genial Joan Reeves tagged me in The Next Big Thing. If you're a writer, you'll want to check out her blog Slingwords. If you LUUURRVV romantic comedy like I do, I highly recommend her books!

Basically, I answer the following questions, then I tag five talented writers about their NEXT BIG THING. So awaaaay we go!

What is the working title of your next book?

Blood Sacrifice

Where did the idea come from for the book?

Eons ago, I tried to write a vampire romance. It's a genre I love, and the experts say write what you know, right? Except I didn't want a trope heroine. You know, the young ingenue falling for the centuries-old hunky vampire. I had this image of a millenia-old woman wanting to file a stalking complaint but couldn't because the guy showed up every fifty years or so, and that didn't qualify as "pervasive" under California law. Except no matter how I worked it, the book for Phillippa and Duncan just wouldn't mesh.

Yeah, that's right. For those of you who've read Zombie Love, Duncan originally started out at Phil's hero and Sam was supposed to be with Alex. Oh, and Sam got Turned in a vampire. In other words, dumb, standard crap.

Then one night, my Subconscious delivered the answer in the form of a dream. The girls needed to switch guys! From there, the Bloodlines series fell into place, and readers have been clamoring for Alex and Phil's story, which thrills me to no end.

What genre does your book fall under?

Primarily urban fantasy with a ton of action and adventure and a teaspoon of old lovers getting back together.

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

Ooooo, that's a hard one. The hubby and I have been battling over Owen Wilson and Matthew McConaughey as Alex for a few years, but definitely Catherine Zeta-Jones as Phil.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

What if the one person you want most in the world is the one person you have to sacrifice to save it?

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

Blood Sacrifice will be self-published.

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

It's takes roughly forty-five days to write the first draft of a Bloodlines novel because I'm having so much fun. Don't kill me though! It takes another three-four months of revisions before I even dream of handing it off to my crit partners/editors/beta readers.

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

I was aiming for Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark-Hunter series), but I'm told I'm somewhere between Jim Butcher (The Dresden Files), MaryJanice Davidson (The Queen Betsy series) and Quentin Tarantino ("From Dusk 'til Dawn").

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

I always wanted to write vampire romances. I just thought this book would be my first, not my fifth! LOL

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

Despite their super-fantastic abilities, Phil and Alex are very human. Phil's daddy issues come to the fore. And regular readers of the series will find out the real reason Alex loves being a vampire and doesn't follow the "woe is me" line Duncan and Anne do.

Now, here are five terrific authors you'll want to check out!

Onne Andrews
Robin Badillo
RM Brand
Raven Raye
Teri Thackston

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Dubious Art of Contest Judging

Please welcome my special guest blogger, Raven Raye!

I have had the honor, and yes, it is an honor, to judge many contests. I love judging contests. Someone has the guts to send their blood and sweat in to you and let you pass judgment. That being said, I myself have been a contest queen. I didn’t have a critique group and very few people I knew had the time to be a beta reader. I know there are sites that have beta readers, but I don’t trust them; look what happened to Stephenie Meyer. Needless to say, I have the same fear a lot of you probably have: someone will steal my idea/manuscript and publish it under their own name. Need I mention what happened to Gene Roddenberry before Star Trek came out?

What I’ve learned from those contests, oh yes, what I’ve learned. The scores I got on those first few entries might have scared anyone else away from writing for good. Failed! Worse than failed! One judge told me she hated my heroine so much she was (sniff) TSTL. I know what that means… now: Too Stupid to Live. Another judge said she didn’t know what some of my words meant and they pulled her out of the story then admitted to not liking paranormal; another awful grade. I was devastated. Criticism like this is an abuse of the position; those people should not have judged. I did get some constructive comments, which I cherished like gold leaf on the page. I took their advice and took dozens of online classes, signed up for writing groups like Savvy Authors, followed writing blogs; basically anything I could do to absorb writing knowledge. I learned.

After scores in the 20s and 30s, I made major changes and got scores in the 80s. That was more like it. My grammar was awful so I read blogs about that, tried to notice subtleties in books I read; I bought books about grammar. I learned.

My 80s scores again rose to 90s and a couple perfect scores. Then I began finaling, winning and getting requests. Heaven!

My personal mission when I judge is not to make someone feel the way I did when I got a 27, but to offer critique, not criticism. As far as I’m concerned, no entry should ever get below a 60. As far as ‘grades’ are concerned, if this is what you think you’re doing, does someone’s manuscript really deserve a failing grade? A 60 is below average meaning it needs work. I just got done judging the Molly. One of the entries had POV issues, grammar issues and a few other things needing help. However, the potential for conflict was there and it was a wonderfully imaginative premise. It got a fair grade and critique. Constructive critique. This means you tell them the problem with a certain spot and offer suggestions that may help fix that problem. Maybe tell them how you resolved the same issue in your novel.

All in all, judging is a wonderful opportunity to give back to a community that helped me and support new writers climb the same ladder. So remember, when you’re judging, you have the honor and responsibility to judge the work at hand. You’re not comparing it to Linda Howard or Stephen King; you’re judging the entry based on predetermined criteria. Judge wisely.

Raven's first release is Broken Prophesy. Here's the blurb!
Only Killian’s bloodline was created with the planet. No other can accept the Seal and no human can carry the seed to bear the Heirs of Aeden.

Killian, King of the Fey, is in love with Marcella Rowan, human and forbidden to his kind. An errant Angel, seeking revenge, awakens creatures thought long dead or mythological. Marcella’s life in danger and against the Divine Council’s orders, Killian saves her from death—by claiming her as his soulmate. As earthly and other-earthly creatures polarize toward good or evil, Marcella and Killian must survive the forces driving them apart. Only their love can unite the worlds of magick and mundane. Only their love can force their peoples to put aside bigotry, jealousy, and fear to overcome the evil tearing the earth apart. Only the magick they make together can repopulate Earth’s garden in Aeden.

Broken Prophesy is available through the follwing retailers:
Soul Mate Publishing

Monday, November 19, 2012

Please Don't Feed the Trolls

After three years of a blogging, I'm starting to attract enough of an audience that the occasional troll shows up. Of all the ones I've received so far, I'm not sure which one was funnier: the American man who told me I was sexist for trashing female editors or the French guy who told me it was immoral to vote.

Anyway, if you are dealing with trolls and you're not a billy goat, here's some good advice from a San Diego ComicCon panel:

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Disney's Newest Princess

Oops! Somehow I reversed Saturday's and Monday's links. I can't even blame it on drugs anymore. But the Comediva Princess Leia link is now here. *Sorry*

The ladies who brought you BAMF Girls Club did a brand-new video welcoming Leia into the Disney Princess Club.

Friday, November 16, 2012

The Revolution Is Over! Viva La Revolution!

Except for the occasional blog or magazine title attempting to induce panic, the fervor regarding writers going indie has finally started to fade.

The best thing coming out of the whole brouhaha is that writers are now looking at ALL their options. There's all kinds of deals being made.

Some folks are still submitting to agents and editors. Some are jumping into self-publishing with both feet. Some folks have a foot in each side. Some folks are selling both their print and electronic rights to a publishing house, a la E.L. James and her Fifty Shades of Grey. Hugh Howey kept all U.S. book rights for Wool and sold the foreign book right along with the movie option (to Ridley Scott of all people!).

The most important things for any writer to remember are

1) Writing for money is a business!

2) Find the path that best works for you.

But there's something that SFF author SandraUlbrich Almazan said in her blog recently that realy struck home for me:

My final act of ChiCon 7 was participating in a self-publishing panel. Besides me, there was one other self-published author and two editors from small publishing houses. They were clearly there with an agenda to present themselves as "value-added" and to downplay the pros of self-publishing. The other author and I were united in taking career advice from Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Dean Wesley Smith. Meanwhile, the audience members (we filled the room; I wasn't expecting that on the last day of the con) wanted the nuts and bolts of self-publishing and promotion. I feel like I could have given them much more on that front. I also wish I'd told them more about the pros of self-publishing. I did manage to say that all authors are entrepreneurs, that our stories are our intellectual property, and that you really need IP lawyers, not agents, to handle contracts with publishers if you take that route. But there was so much more I could have said. I could have told them how knowing I had a home for every story inspires me to try new things and come up with fresh ideas. I could have said how I can finally lay some stories to rest instead of endlessly chasing perfection (because, of course, no publisher would ever touch a less-than-perfect book). I could have emphasized how it builds gumption to learn new skills and take charge of my writing career, to be active instead of passively sending out queries and waiting for rejection. Most of all, I could have said that when I first started attending conventions, they taught me "money flows to the author" as a way to avoid getting scammed. I now feel we need to update this for the 21st century; it should be "control flows to the author." I really wanted to use that line and am kicking myself now that I didn't use it in my closing statement.

At least I can say it here.*
"Control flows to the author."

That should be every writer's new mantra.

*Reprinted with permission. For the original blog of September 5, 2012, see Sandra Ulbrich Almazan: Speculative Fiction Author.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Next Big Thing - Part 1

This week Joan Reeves has post her Next Big Thing, her romantic comedy Scents and Sensuality. Check out the writing process of a NYT Bestselling author!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Monday Movie Mania - Skyfall

DH, GK and I went to see the latest James Bond movie. This is a must-see movie! If you plan on going, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER!

Seriously, there're surprises that you don't want ruined by reading any online reviews. Somehow, I managed to avoid online references for the last several months. I couldn't avoid all the TV commercials though. (For some reason, they showed a lot of them during Texans' games.) GK was too cute when we heard Adele's theme on the radio while in route to a dental appointment. ("Mom! That's the new James Bond song!)

Okay, I've stalled enough. If you haven't clicked away from this page by now, it's your own damn fault for ruining the movie...


The best Bond EVAH! And I don't give this stamp lightly.

Nothing against the other guys (because Pierce will always have a special place in my heart), but I thnk Daniel Craig has done the best job of capturing the literary character created by Ian Fleming over sixty years ago. (Yeah, yeah, I know the first book came out in 1953, but as a writer, I know you carry your characters around for a while before you commit them to media and the darn thing actual gets published.)

The pluses!

Javier Bardeem as Silva
If you haven't seen No Country for Old Men, watch it. I can't because Javier scares the piss out of me. Javier's former MI6 agent Silva beats Sean Bean's 006 hands down. He's as rentless as a Terminator because he must kill Mommy, aka M. Something was seriously bent in Silva, something that the head docs in MI6 obviously didn't catch befor he went into the field. And it didn't just break, it shattered when he was captured and tortured with no rescue coming. He resorted to taking his cyanide, only to have that fail him too. Javier makes you sympathize with Silva, and you'll hate yourself for doing so.

Ralph Fiennes as Gareth Mallory
Ralph's Mallory walks the fine line between politician and realist as the Chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee, i.e. M's boss. Maybe I've seen Ralph play bad guys too much. Let's face it, he's played Voldemort for how many years? I spent a good chunk of the movie expecting him to be the big bad behind Silva. But when he defends M from Silva, taking a bullet for her in the middle of Parliament, I was one of the ones cheering him in the audience.

Ben Whishaw as Q
Having a twenty-something computer geek as the new quartermaster of MI6 was a Stroke of Genius. Having Silva outsmart Q, even better. Having Bond lose the new Walther PPK Q just gave him within a day, priceless!

M's Speech before the Parliment Investigation Committee
Dame Judi Dench delivered a pitch perfect monologue (you hear it while on the screen, Bond races from the temporary MI6 HQ to Parliament to stop the escaped Silva). It outlines how much things have changed since Fleming wrote the books during the Cold War. In sum, our enemies are no longer the countries we see, but the individuals we can't until it's too late.

No minuses. Just a quibble.

I've loved Naomie Harris since she played Tia Dalma in PotC. And she was perfect as Eve Moneypenny. My quibble isn't with her, but how the producers, etc., tried to keep this a secret through the whole movie. Like I said, I managed to avoid the internet speculation about Skyfall, particularly that Naomie would play Moneypenny. And no one says her last name until the next to last scene of the movie.

Yet, I figured out who Eve was supposed to be in the f***ing opening sequence! Why? James didn't sleep with her!

This is one of those things where they should have just said she was Moneypenny up front. Her character arc shadowed James throughout the movie. Since Wilson and Broccoli said up front that the Craig movies are a reboot, i.e. showing how Bond became 007, then I would have preferred showing how everyone got to be where they were at the beginning of Dr. No. But that's just my personal pet peeve.

All-in-all, I'd give this movie 4.9 stars.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack - No. 10

Phillippa realizes she still loves Alex, but is it too late?

Friday, November 9, 2012

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I've been able to keep ahead of blogging because of the gigantic list of ideas I have next to me and because I often write them 2-3 weeks in advance. But I've ignored that list in a desperate attempt to catch up on my writing the last two weeks. So when I logged on this morning, it was, like, OOPS!

The reason for the scramble was to finish Seasons of Magick: Winter and my Alter Ego's December release. I'd planned plenty of time when a virus kicked me to the curb on October 2nd. This was the deep chest cold that forced me to resort to Grandpa's whiskey, lemon juice and honey solution.

I was finally starting to recover from that when I contracted a head cold. Add in stress from some personal matters and my health took a rapid nose-dive. DH offered to help multiple times, but when it's the actual writing, there's not much he can do. He did get groceries and cooked several times, which aided me immensely.

On the plus side, Seasons of Magick: Winter is in the hands of my beta readers now. I said I'd have it up by Halloween, so I pray my readers aren't too disappointed in my tardiness.

Now, off to finish up Blood Sacrifice...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Don't Let the Service Preditors Get You

Angry Sheep is about to go on a rampage, so if you don't want to hear the baaa-shit, click away NOW!

Lately, my e-mail and twitter feeds have been inundated with all kinds of "special" offers from cover artists, e-book conversion specialists, writing coaches, you name it. For the record, I have NOT solicited any of these offers.

Now, I totally understand getting help when and where you actually need it. I've got two friend, both of them NYT best-selling self-published authors. In one case, the friend has a chronic condition which severely limits her work-time on the computer. If I gave the laundry list of all the shit that's happened to the other friend, you'd be wondering why she hasn't stuck a barrel in her mouth and pulled the trigger. In both cases, it makes sense to hire out some of the tasks like covers and conversions.

But in both cases, my friends researched (or had their husbands or assistants research) the best available folks at a reasonable price.

For some of these spam ads (and yes, they are spam since they didn't bother to do their research), Angry Sheep is pawing the turf and is about to charge.
I keep getting e-mails from a company called Jenkins Group, Inc.  Their conversion services start at $475. Seriously? Nearly five hundred dollars for a few seconds of work?

Guess what? That does not include formatting for the conversion process to run smoothly.

Also, why send this to someone who's already formatted and uploaded her books?

 After a year and a half, it takes me about a half hour to convert and upload my books to two retailers and one distributor. And that's because--

1) I learned to format as I write to make the process faster.

2) I double-check the book by downloading a copy from the retailer. Something I'll bet Jenkins Group does not do.

Another e-mail I constantly get offers to send my book's title and description to "Showcase your title for nearly 35,000 librarians and 3,200 independent bookstores AND TO OVER 1,000 BOOK REVIEWERS IN THE USA AND CANADA in our monthly Review Direct newsletter" starting at $349 per month.

Oh, wait, Review Direct is owned by Jenkins Group, Inc.

Then I get e-mails touting the Independent Publisher Book Awards ("Ippy"). The entry fee starts at $75. Just one little problem. Guess who owns and controls the Ippy?
While looking through the JGI websites, I started laughing when I read a statement by CEO Jerrold R. Jenkins:

“First, it is important to set a good foundation for your book. Second, you must design the book to be as attractive as possible. Third, we cannot ignore the necessity of using social media. Fourth, don’t overlook specialty markets. Fifth and most importantly, authors must try to create word of mouth. That is one of the best ways to help a book sell.”
If it sounds familiar, it's nothing that folks like Kris Rusch, J.A. Konrath, Bob Mayer and Dean Wesley Smith haven't been saying all along.

And their advice is free.

Angry Sheep signing out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Aren't You Voting? - NSFW

If you agree with this video, go vote - NOW! If you don't agree with this video, go vote - NOW! If you didn't bother to register (and you're over 18 and not a felon), there's no fucking excuse, people. Even SFF author Jay Lake, who's undergoing his third round of chemo, voted.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Infamous Status Report

October sucked the big one. Not just in terms of sales, but because I've been incredibly sick most of the month.

I'm a AAA+ control-freak personality, and I was getting more and more behind on my schedule. When FDA-approved meds couldn't break up the chest congestion, I resorted to Grandpa's infamous Jack Daniels, lemon juice and honey mix. Disgusting way to waste good J.D., but it worked. Between it and D.H. insisting I take a few days break, I'm finally starting to feel a little better.

So what's the 4-1-1 on the business?

Well, first of all I missed my deadline for Seasons of Magick: Winter, which pisses me off. Hopefully, it will be uploaded this week. I'm also significantly behind on Blood Sacrifice. It sucks, but all I can do is still try to meet my December release plans.

August 13th started the autumn slide in sales. Why? Down here, that was literally the first week of school for most private schools. Most of the public schools started the following week.

Am I upset? No. Was it expected? Yes.

A lot of readers are in the same position I'm in. That is, minor children, numerous after-school activities, gearing up for the insanity of the fall holidays. Or as we used to say at the old Day Job, Hallowthanksmas, aka Silly Season. (And right now, I'm kind of glad I'm not there since Silly Season started last weekend.)

So I have no doubt that sales will pick up. The question is, will I have a sales surge over Thanksgiving week like I did last year with readers loading up on material for the trip to Grandma's house?

Total sales by month since June:
July - 608
August - 352
September - 234

So why the discrepancy between the July status report of 240 on the July 20th and now? There's the 50 Shades of Gray effect. My alter-ego's erotica took off during the second half of July. I'm also getting a lot more sales from Apple, Kobo and Sony. But since I distribute to these retailers through Smashwords, there's a delay in reporting.

In fact, my monthly Apple sales are catching up with Amazon US. Right now, my sales at Barnes & Noble still outstrip every other retailer.

One thing I would stress to new indies is that you don't know exactly where your sales will come from until you actually get your books out there. Don't underestimate a possible outlet because it's not "cool."

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack No. 9

Phillippa blames her father for the deaths of her mother and sisters, believing that as a god, he could have interevened and saved their lives.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Paranormal Activity 101 - Robin Badillo

Then there are those folks who'll never admit they've had a paranormal experience like my next guest, paranormal author Robin Badillo.

One might assume that as a paranormal author I’ve probably been inspired by actual events, which in turn sparked my natural attraction to the genre. Alas, no vampires, werewolves or ghosts have tapped me on the shoulder and introduced themselves thus far. Or if they have, perhaps I just wasn’t “open minded” enough to receive the message.

That being said, I’ll admit there have been times when I felt as though someone was watching me, but that says more about my mental state or propensity toward irrational paranoia, than valid evidence of experiencing something supernatural or paranormal.

As an author, those rare events can easily be blamed on an overzealous imagination or muse, if you will. That’s my story anyway, and I’m sticking to it.

Admittedly, it would be awesome to come across any of the creatures I’ve written about. Would I run away in terror at the thought of being eaten alive or maimed? Are you kidding? If a vampire did attack, which is highly unlikely given their broody dispositions, I’d probably ask them to take their time so I could make notes along the way. After all, I wouldn’t want to miss not one snarl, rip or splattering of blood during the process. Research is key when it comes to writing.

If a ghost visited, I’d simply explain that I’ve seen every episode of “Ghost Whisperer” and ask if I could help them settle unfinished business so they could move on into the “light.”

If they were a nasty ghost, demon or other evil, paranormal creature, I’d then reeducate them on the way their kind are properly “ganked” by the Winchester brothers on the CW’s “Supernatural.” I’d then enjoy a messy hamburger and a slice of fresh apple pie after disposing of the “bad guys” properly, just as Dean Winchester would expect of someone in their line of work.

Suppose I were approached by a Blibbering Humdinger, Crumple-Horned Snorkack, Gulping Plimpy, Heliopath, Nargle or Heaven forbid, a Wrackspurt, then I’d grab my eldest daughter, Brittany, and her collection of Harry Potter books and request her assistance immediately. Luna Lovegood’s creative imagination would come in handy when dealing with some of her favorite imaginary creatures.

Then there are the werewolves and shifters. Although, I tend to lean more toward the wolf where shifters are concerned, it’s my belief that a scratch behind the ear and a vigorous belly rub would tame even the most savage of beasts.

I guess, in the end, there would be no need to experience any of these entities in the real world. Books, television programs and movies have brought them to life for me, without the hassle and messy cleanup.

Besides, I’m sure there are plenty of people who have experienced a ghost or unexplained entity in their lives, who may not have found it as exhilarating as I would. Some may even wish the event had never occurred at all. To those people, my hat is off to you, and I congratulate you on your tenacity and will to survive the unknown.

But for those people out there like me, who wouldn’t mind a little peek into the “other world”, I suppose we’ll have to rely on our colorful imaginations, the magic of television, the glamor of cinema, and the wonder of prolific words on a page to sate our curiosity…unless the aliens get us first, then all bets are off.

Robin's next book, Family Ties, comes out on November 14th. Here's a sneak peek:

Every pack needs an alpha and every alpha needs a pack.

Tucker Wilde, a lone wolf, returns to the town where his shifter lineage first began, only to discover his rightful place as alpha has been handed down through another blood-line. To make matters worse, old family secrets threaten the fate of the love he’s destined to find.

Shifter, Tegan Blaid is the key to saving her pack by joining with the son of a powerful pack member, but her heart belongs to Tucker, the one wolf she was never meant to know.

Can Tucker and Tegan fight the forces against them to secure their positions in the pack, or is history determined to repeat itself despite their family ties?

For more information about Robin and her books, click on the following links:

Robin's Website
Evernight Publishing
Robin's Evernight Author Page

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The End of Halloween...Again? - Teri Thackston

While I'm stocking up on decorations for next year in the post-Halloween sales, Teri Thackston talks about communities *GASP* banning the best holiday EVER!

In some parts of the country, Halloween is becoming an endangered holiday. Trinity Church in New York City is cancelling its popular Halloween Fest due to Occupy Wall Street campers near the church. The police department in Knoxville, TN cancelled its Halloween in the City event because they can’t find a venue big enough to hold all the kids who want to attend. Calabash, NC cancelled its children’s mystery dinner on Halloween due to lack of funds. Several elementary schools are eliminating costume parties that have been popular for many years. Various reasons threaten the holiday at many locations around the country.

This isn’t the first time. Back in the early seventies, rumors—and accurate reports—of poisoned candy circulated, causing parents to keep their little goblins indoors or allowing them only to trick-or-treat to the homes of family members. Most such stories turned out to be hoaxes or isolated incidents, but Halloween suffered for a while many years.

But is Halloween really on the way out? Plenty of communities still plan to go all out to celebrate Halloween this year. Costumes, candy, parties and trick-or-treating…how about your community or neighborhood? Has Halloween been cancelled or is it still going strong?

Now my books don’t have much to do with Halloween (yet). But I do think I spin a good ghost story that’s perfect for the season. For example my EPPIE award winning novel Final Words has plenty of spirits and spooky scenes to have you looking over your shoulder as you read it.

A near-fatal hit-and-run leaves Medical Examiner Emma St. Clair able to talk to the spirits of people she autopsies. With his sister’s hit-and-run death unsolved, Detective Jason MacKenzie vows to bring this lethal driver to justice. When a serial killer throws them together, will her ability to talk to ghosts prove deadly…in love and life?

Here’s an excerpt:

A chill breathed over Emma’s skin as Skitch left. Looking down at this body as she had stood looking at so many others, she experienced a sense of unreality. She wouldn’t have been surprised if the woman had opened the one eye left to her and spoken.

This is exactly what Edgar hinted might happen. She closed her eyes as another wave of dizziness swept over her. She reached out to steady herself against the table and her gloved fingers brushed the arm of the dead woman.

“Here now.”

Emma’s eyes popped open. Feminine and faint, the voice shimmied up her spine.

“I wanted to watch that hospital show,” the voice went on. “I always watch that hospital show on Monday night.”

Looking up, Emma saw a woman standing in the shadows near the cooler room door. Her features were difficult to make out in the dimness, so Emma lifted her face shield. It didn’t help.

“Jaime wanted to watch that silly game. ‘Here now,’ I said to him, ‘I watch my hospital show on Monday night’.” The woman’s voice quivered with age. She sounded Hispanic.

Emma narrowed her eyes, taking in the woman’s white cotton housedress and slippers. This isn’t one of the new technicians, she realized.

The woman gestured toward the body. “Jaime did this.”

Shaking off her surprise, Emma moved forward. “Ma’am, you can’t be in here.”

“I had to tell you about Jaime. My brother. He shot me and ran out the back.”

Tiny hairs on Emma’s arms prickled beneath the sleeves of her lab coat. She stopped near the middle autopsy station and studied the other woman’s form again. Small and slight, the figure seemed almost a part of the shadows and, somehow, not quite right. Emma wished that Skitch would return.

“Ma’am, you really have to leave,” she said.

“Here now, young lady.” The woman’s voice shook again, as if she couldn’t quite catch her breath. “I had to tell you what my brother did.”

Emma’s gaze ran over the shadowed form. “You said your brother shot you. Are you hurt? Shall I have someone take you to a hospital?”
“I’m getting tired but I do not hurt, Dr. St. Clair.”

Emma caught her breath. “You know my name?”

The woman stepped forward at last, into the pale light.

Bile welled in the back of Emma’s throat. That face. The woman’s face, lined with age and as dry and pale as paper, stared at her with dark eyes.

Emma jerked around and looked at the body on the table.

“You’re…” Words wedged their way past the bile in Emma’s throat. “You’re her."

When Emma turned back, the space in front of the cooler room door was empty. The woman had vanished.

You can order Final Words by Teri Thackston for only $1.49 at the following:
Ellora’s Cave
Barnes & Noble

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Pillar of Light - Suzan Harden

"I see dead people" is a great punchline.

Except when you can.

The "gift" as DH calls it (I call it something else, and it involves a lot of four-letter words) runs in my mother's side of the family. A few of us admit it we have it. Most of us don't.

You see, we learn at an early age if the ghosts are still semi-coherent and they know you can see them, they will not leave you alone. As my cousin Marie* puts it, "It's like strangers on the subway. Don't make eye contact, and don't engage."

Marie is also the cousin who makes a point of buying brand-new, never-lived-in homes. "So I don't have to deal with someone else's baggage," she says.

I always followed Marie's advice. Then I made my big mistake.

When my paternal grandmother showed up in the townhouse I shared with Marie, my automatic response had been to say, "Hey, Grandma." The teensy little problem was that she'd died three weeks before.

She talked about making pizza the next time I came over. It broke my heart a little, but I knew I needed to be firm. "Grandma, you do realize you're dead, don't you?"

Her expression saddened. "Yes. I'm sorry. Sometimes I forget."

"Why are you still here?" Frankly, her presence didn't make sense to me because she was a very devote Christian.

"I'm waiting for Dad." 'Dad' was her nickname for Grandpa.

So we made a deal. I'd talk to her as long as she visited when no one was around. Marie would have exorcised Grandma if she saw her.

For the most part, Grandma kept her word. Occasionally, I'd catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye while in class or, years later, in court. I had to confess my secret to DH after he caught me apparently talking to myself. I'm lucky he takes the weird stuff in stride.

Grandma waited fifteen years.

I flew home for Grandpa's funeral. Since my father's sisters and their husbands were staying with my parents, I got a hotel room. The morning of the funeral, I awoke to someone stroking my hair.

"Ed, I told you not to touch her!"

It was a rare thing to hear Grandma call Grandpa by his given name. I rolled over. "Hey, Grandma."

Grandpa looked at Grandma. It was the first I ever saw a shocked expression on him. "She can see us?"

Grandma: "And feel us too! I told you not to touch her and wake her up."

Me: "It's okay. I'm glad you did."

Grandma: "We can't stay long. We need to be in Columbus in five minutes. We just came to say our good-byes."

Grandpa (his attention switching between us, a bewildered expression on his face): "She can see us?"

Me: "Have a safe trip. I love you."

Grandma: "We love you, too."

Grandpa (looking over his shoulder at me as Grandma dragged him toward the western wall of the hotel room): "I can't believe she can see us."

That's when I saw the third, well, 'entity' is the best word I can use to describe it. It appeared to be a pillar of yellowish-white light, roughly six feet in height, hovering next to the dresser. A sound came from it, not quite music, but not quite singing either. It felt sentient.

When it realized I was staring at it, not at my grandparents' ghosts passing through the wall, I felt a surge of emotion from it. Shock, distress, surprise. I got the distinct sense that I wasn't supposed to see it any more than I should have been able to see my grandparents.

It drifted about a foot toward the bed. Curiosity replaced its surprise. Again, I felt its emotion. It was torn between figuring me out and staying with my grandparents. After a moment, it drifted through the same spot on the wall of my hotel room.

I glanced at the digital clock beside the bed. 7:29 a.m. I could catch another hour of sleep before I had to be at my parents' house.

Why did Grandma and Grandpa had to rush to Columbus, Ohio, of all places? The last of the family, three of my cousins, flew in the morning of the funeral. Jaye's flight, the last one, arrived at Columbus International Airport at 7:34 a.m.

*Even though my family will recognize the people I mention, I changed the names so they don't get harassed. Or summoned.

Confession time: I used my strange encounter as the inspiration for the ending of Zombie Confidential. The short story will be free until the end of November. It's available through the following retailers:

Barnes & Noble

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Apartment Downstairs - William Simon

Today's guest is William Simon, who also writes as Will Graham. The first work of his I read was Mixed Marriages, which is delightfully creep and hysterically funny at the same time.

When I lived in Miami, I was in an older apartment building, probably built in the early 1930′s or so. I had the upstairs one bedroom 'suite': two apartments that had been re-modeled and connected.

Late night, got home around 2am. I hit the bed, was *just* dozing off, when I heard two explosions from the apartment underneath. To this day, I firmly believe the foot of the bed jumped, that's how powerful the noise was. Flew out of bed, called 911. The officers who came and I were friends, so I joined them to get the manager. She let them in, explaining the downstairs apartment was vacant at the moment. The police went through the whole place, and there was nothing. No squatters, no evidence of a break-in, no signs of anyone having been there for a while.

Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

I *know* what I heard. I KNOW what I heard. The officers said, "Well, okay, but there's no evidence, no sign of anything. If it happens again, let us know." Manager locked up, I went back upstairs with no hope of getting back to sleep.

Flash-forward a couple of years. I had moved into another building with my girlfriend at the time. An older couple who had lived in Miami since 1935 semi-adopted us and we were frequent dinner guests, and vice-versa. One night, I mentioned casually I had lived at Such and Such on This Avenue. The husband paused, looked at his wife, and said, "Isn't that where the S------ thing happened?" She thought a moment, and nodded.

Then he told us the story.

Back in the 40′s, a young couple lived in the downstairs apartment. He went off to WWII, she stayed behind. Like something out of a bad movie, she had an affair with another man. When her husband got home one afternoon, he walked in on his wife and her lover.... and killed them both with a shotgun.

I didn't say a word about my experience..... but in the interests of full disclosure, I did hit the wine a little harder than usual at dinner that night.

William Simon also writes under the name Will Graham. His short story, "Mixed Marriages Can Be Murder" was originally published in the anthology Murder By Magic. It's now available as an e-book short story at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers

Monday, October 29, 2012

The Little Girl No One Cried For - C.C. Hunter

Last year's All Hallows Read guest posts were so popular, I decided to make it an annual event. So I asked some of my favorite people, who happen to write some of my favorite books, to tell their own personal scary stories.

As an added bonus, the always frightening Neil Gaiman is giving away a free story at Audible, but hurry! The offer only good until October 31st!

Back here at WW&W, first up is Creepy C.C. Hunter (aka my buddy Christie Craig)!

I was thirteen and I woke up that morning with sunshine spilling through my window. I stretched my hands over my head and it hit me—the memory of a dream I’d just had came rushing back. There had been no sunshine in the dream.

It was spooky, but more strange and sad. Like an old movie, I could still see it playing in my mind. But unlike a movie, my memory came with all five senses. The smell of wet earth and the scent of a storm brewing somewhere close by. I could feel the wind hit my face, blowing my blonde hair across my eyes. Tombstones, aged and cracked, littered the ground around me. All was silent—deadly silent.

A small group of people stood quietly by a gravesite. All wearing black. Even the sky held a dismal shade of sadness. There seemed to be no color in the image—no joy, all drab and gray. I stared at the faces of those grieving people. Did I know them? Yes, but . . . vaguely. And from where?

Immediately, my gaze shifted to the casket. The tiny polished box carried the only color in the scene. A bright pink ribbon rested on top. My gaze shot back to the people again. They weren’t crying. For some reason that seemed odd. They needed to cry. Cry for the child who obviously lay tucked inside that casket. The child who would never run and play and who would never know life.

I studied the faces of the people again, trying to remember where I’d seen them. How could I know them when they looked so out of place? Like people from old pictures. People from another time, another life.

And then came the realization. The woman dressed in a thick black wool coat, hugging herself against the cold and staring at the casket with empty emotion, was my grandmother, but younger. A lot younger. The woman today was old, in her late sixties. But yes, I remembered seeing her younger face in family photo albums.

Then, I recognized the other people. My mom and dad when they were young. My grandfather and one of my uncles. My gaze shifted from one person to the next.

Then it went to the casket.

Who had died? Part of the answer came with the next cold whisk of wind: A baby. A baby girl.

I wanted to tell someone how sorry I was. Emotion built in my chest. A crazy thought hit. Someone needed to cry for the child. I stood back from the crowd, not really present, but somehow still there. I felt the odd sadness. But why weren’t they crying?

Then my grandmother, my mom, dad and uncle were gone. As if they’d vanished into the air. I saw the casket being lowered into the gaping chasm. Abruptly the dream changed and I saw the gravestone. It simply read, Our baby girl: Christie.

Christie? CHRISTIE? That was my name. How could the baby have my name? That’s when I’d woken up. My heart still thumped against my breastbone at the memory, and I had tears in my eyes. Not wanting to be alone, I went and found my mom cooking breakfast.

I told her about the dream, about the casket with the pink ribbon and seeing my name on the gravestone.

I saw shock hit my mom’s face. “What is it?” I asked, but was almost scared for her to answer.

“This is weird.”


“Your grandmother got pregnant a few months after your dad and I were married. It was a girl. She only lived a few weeks. You were named after her.”

The spookiness tiptoed up my spine as chills skittered up my neck. I looked at my mom and asked, “Why didn’t anyone cry?” Suddenly, I burst into tears.

My mom’s faced paled even more. “Your grandma told everyone no tears. She said she couldn’t handle the tears. We weren’t allowed to cry.”

I dropped down into a kitchen chair and asked the question burning inside me. “How could I have dreamed this?”

“I’m sure you heard the story,” Mom said.

“When? When could I have heard the story? I swear I never knew about her before now.”

“I don’t know, but you had to have heard it. How else would you have known this?”

How else?

To this day I think about that dream. I think about the little girl, my namesake. Did I really hear someone tell that story and my mind simply played it back as a dream? Or did the spirit of Christie somehow visit me? Did she need me to know about her? Did she need someone to cry for her?

I guess you see why my Shadow Falls series involves ghosts. There’s a part of me that believes in them. What about you? Do you believe in ghosts?

C.C.'s latest book, Whispers at Moonrise, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other fine retailers.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack - No. 8

The infamous practical joke for which Phillippa has held a grudge for over a century? Alex jury-rigged a canister of molasses and a box of flour above the front door of the San Francisco vampire coven house (featured in Blood Magick). His intended target was Selene.

Friday, October 26, 2012

More BAMF Girls Club Episodes Are Coming!

"Soft like the fur of a newborn fawn, your golden tresses tickle my arm." - Lisbeth

"Wait. Where did you hear that?" - Buffy

"Spike messaged it to you on Myspace. Why do you still have a Myspace?" - Lisbeth

"I grew up in the '90's!" - Buffy

YAY! Thank you to everyone who spread the word! Comediva's Kickstarter has been funded!

If you want to check out more funny stuff from the ladies of Comediva, check out their website.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

BAMF Girls Club - Episode 3

"For the last time, I'm not Rue and I'm not dead!" - Michonne

Want to see more than four episodes? There's less than THIRTY HOURS left for Comediva to meet their Kickstarter goal! CLICK HERE to make a pledge!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Guest Post by J.D. Faver

Hi Suzan!

Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog. I’m feeling mighty comfy at Wild, Wicked and Wacky. October is the best month to be here in the southeastern part of Texas. Although we don’t experience the gorgeous rush of brilliant colors that most of the country has been wallowing in since September, we experience another huge phenomenon…The humidity and temperatures dip a little lower. Yes! That’s fall here in the Houston area…Priceless!

My latest release, BAD VIBES, is an October baby. It’s the third novel in my romantic thriller series: THE EDGE OF TEXAS. They’re set on the Texas coast, close to the US border with Mexico.

This is a gorgeous, semi-tropical part of the state. South Padre Island is a resort area built on a natural sand bar separated from the mainland by the Intracoastal Waterway. The ICW was dredged by the Army Corps of Engineers during WWII to protect our coast from enemy submarines. It runs all the way from the tip of Texas to Florida. One has to drive across the two-and-a-half miles Queen Isabella Causeway to reach The Island (as the locals call it) from Port Isabel. This area is a paradise for everyone who loves the water and water-related sports, nature and just relaxing.

 If you check out the South Padre Events website, you will see some very colorful boat sails in the background. These are Hobie Cats (catamarans). I earned my freckles racing 16’ Hobies and South Padre was one of our regular regatta stops. Much fun and worth all the subsequent trips to the dermatologist for freckle checks.

BAD VIBES plunges Deputy Darla Calhoun into danger. She’s suffering a major heartache. Lonely and angry over her husband’s financial betrayal and suicide, Darla is carrying on in her usual plucky manner, holding her head high and trying to be a great mom to her twin 4-year-old sons and function as a member of the tight-knit law-enforcement team under the leadership of Sheriff Rafael Solis.

Darla arrests a vagrant, hanging around the marina, but after he’s cleaned up, she discovers a hunky, hard-body with a smoldering gaze hidden beneath the filthy rags. He turns out to be a federal agent working undercover. He’s after a gang of human traffickers using the Intracoastal Waterway to bring sex slaves into the United States from Mexico. Rafael assigns Darla as liaison officer to work with the feds, bringing her face-to-face with the “Iceman”, Mike Burke, the undercover agent she arrested. Darla, Mike and his partner tear up and down the Intracoastal Waterway in pursuit of the human traffickers, but when two local women disappear, the search becomes personal.

In the following excerpt, things have gotten personal between Darla and Mike. They are cruising the ICW with Mike’s partner, Freddy, trying to get ahead of the suspect boat:


Darla reclined in a deck chair, waving to passing boaters like a beauty queen on a parade float. She had a triple dose of sunscreen and wore one of Mike’s long-sleeved shirts.

Ostensibly, they were a trio of boaters out for a pleasure cruise up the Intracoastal Waterway. Fishing rods stood like sentinels in their holders at the stern.

Freddy manned the helm and Mike kept a sharp watch from the port side.

She focused her attention on each boat they passed and called out greetings along the way. All the while she remained acutely aware of the man standing on the other side of the deck.

The previous night, after making love to her in what was the single most awesome, earth-shaking act in her limited sexual experience; Mike had cradled her in his arms for the remainder of the night. Then in the morning, he’d conducted a quick refresher course, in case she had forgotten how incredible he had been the night before. She was extremely grateful that the twins were sleeping at her parent’s house.

She forced herself to pay attention to the other boaters, aware that her wide grin had nothing to do with them.

“What’s that up ahead to the starboard?” Mike called out. He was pointing at a stolid square of black, rusting metal sitting low in the water along the side of the canal.

“It’s huge!” Freddy said. “Some kind of barge.”

Mike took a stroll to the starboard side on the pretense of talking to Darla. “It doesn’t appear to be manned.”

A rusting metal ladder was welded to the side of the barge, extending down to the water line.

Darla made note of the identifying numbers and markings on the side of the barge and passed the slip of paper to Mike. He carried the information to the stern and Freddy called for identification.

Mike returned to where Darla sat and handed her a soft drink in a Koozy.

When he stood beside her, his leg grazed her thigh, sending goose bumps skittering across her skin like a herd of frenzied ladybugs.

He must have felt it too. He grinned at her and then bent down to collect a kiss.

Darla giggled at him. “So, is playing passionate tourist a part of your cover?”

“It is, if you’re going to sit there looking better in my shirt than I do.”

“That’s nice.”

“Remind me to throw Freddy overboard and lick you all over.”

She pretended to make a note of it, all the while nurturing the glow she felt inside. The glow that grew whenever he looked at her, or touched her, or breathed air on the same planet.

She tried to maintain a neutral expression as she glanced up at him. Oh, God! I’m so in love with him!


The order of this series is
(4) BAD DREAMS (Coming Soon!)

If you want to drop me a line, there's my website or you can  follow me on Twitter & Facebook.

I hope everyone has a chance to visit South Padre Island and the Lower Rio Grande Valley. In the meantime, you can visit through my series and keep up with the happenings. My goal is to entertain…and keep you up nights. ;-) *hugs*


Monday, October 22, 2012

Myths About Traditional Publishing

The gorgeous Gemma Halliday posted a blog at Killer Fiction on Friday that is a must-read for all writers. She skewers five Myths About Traditional Publishing. And before anyone accuses Gemma of being "special," this is a writer who has battled in the trenches of Hollywood as well New York.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blood Sacrifice Soundtrack No. 7

Phillippa's biggest fear is losing Alex again. She believed she'd already buried him once.

Friday, October 19, 2012

BAMF Girls Club - Episode 2

"You don't do house points here? You should do house points." - Hermione

Want to see more episodes? There's only six days left for Comediva to meet their Kickstarter goal. CLICK HERE to make a pledge

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Where Most Folks Lose It As a Freelancer

In most cases, when you work at a salaried office job, you get sick leave. If you've been worshipping the procelain god all night, or get a call from school that your kid is, you can curl up at home, take care of things, heal yourself, and not have to worry about money.

Then there's the rest of us.

With hourly-wage folks, there's a monkey on your back called your boss. You know he or she will fire you if you don't come in to work. You need this job to survive, and you force yourself out of bed, swallow some aspirin, and head to the store or factory.

Even if you're a traditionally published writer, there's a contract that gives you a deadline and a publisher that you're accountable to. Penguin has shown that they will no longer put up with writers who don't deliver their manuscripts. So the fear kicks in and you type.

But for those of us who freelance or own our businesses, the only person we're accountable to is ourselves. And I can tell you right now, this is where most indie writers will lose their battle.

It's easy, so very easy, when your nose is dripping, your head is pounding and your throat feels like you've swallowed broken glass to crawl back in bed and say, "Fuck this shit."

It's easy to do it the next day too because you still can't breathe. Then something happens with the kid or the spouse or the dog, and you tell youself, "I'll catch up tomorrow." And the next thing you know, the entire month is gone and you haven't written a damn word. You tell yourself, "It doesn't matter. My first book wasn't selling that great anyway."

You've quit.

Except I can't. Right now, I am selling books. If I don't write more, I have no new stories to sell. If I have no new stories to sell, people can't buy them. If people can't buy them, I make no money for the Ricola cough drops sitting next to me right now, much less groceries, electricity, etc.

On top of me sounding like the entire seal chorus at Sea World, GK had to have oral surgery for an impacted wisdom tooth yesterday. So I'm here in the kitchen, trying not to sneeze in GK's cherry Jell-O I'm making and finish up Seasons of Magick: Winter because I have a business, I have self-imposed deadlines, and I have readers I am NOT disappointing.

[Author's Note: Any typos in this post I thoroughly blame on the manufacturers of the drugs I am currently taking. Except for the folks at Ricola. Gotta love Swiss cough drops!]