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

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