Friday, October 30, 2015

Friday Five for October 30, 2015

1. Big excitement this week as Mayhem in the Air is now available. It's a marvelous collection of short stories from the talented authors of Untethered Realms. My horror sci-fi, "The Silent Wind" is included in the anthology. Next week, we'll start a two week tour with exclusive excerpts and a giveaway where you could win a $40 gift card! The collection is only 99 cents. A steal with all the awesome stories in it!

2. Oh, more fantastic short stories! I received word yesterday that 9Tales Told in the Dark #7 is available for pre-order and will be released November 23rd. My horror story, "All I Want For Christmas" is one of the nine scary tales. This makes up for the rejection I received earlier this week.

3. I've had a good writing week even with my son having a couple of early dismissal days from school. I finished the first novella in a new series for my publisher. The series is called The Sasquatch Susies. I'll leave it to your imagination what that's about for now.

4. My mom will be visiting next week. We do all our Christmas shopping, so we don't have to freak out at the last minute. It's nice to have it all done before December, but it's difficult to find places to store gifts in our little house! Not just store them, but keep them out of sight of my little guy.

5. One day until Halloween! I love this time of year. We had a fun time last weekend at the Trick or Treat Trail, and we went trick or treating at the university on Wednesday. Tomorrow I get to see all the costumes as the kids come to our door. My little guy, er, puppy is super excited.

(My son and his buddy at the Trick or Treat Trail.)


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - giving your readers the creepy-crawlies

Giving your readers the chills is a tough thing to do. There's only one Stephen King. As for the rest of us, we have to use all the tricks at our disposal.

- When I think creepy atmosphere, I think setting. Graveyards, haunted houses, empty streets. Just placing your characters in an ill-lit room will help immensely. Yet it doesn't have to be a horror stereotype. If you're good, you can make any setting spooky. The reader is going to expect something out of the ordinary even if you place the scene in the ladies' restroom or a wig shop.

- It's in the details. Don't over do it with lavish descriptions of dusty cobwebs, the wind blowing the drapes, and something lurking in the shadows. Drop a chilly detail here and there. Something that might be normal but isn't quite. Something that will make the reader wonder. A writer's best tool in creating a spooky scene is the reader's imagination. The reader will always imagine something horrible and help to give themselves goosebumps.

- Part of the creepiness of a story is in creating suspense and tension. You want the reader on the edge of their seat. An effective way of doing this is through the characters' reactions. Don't let your text be filled with too much thinking. Describe what they're seeing, hearing, smelling. Use all the senses. Write their physical reactions. Spooky stories are about showing rather than telling.

- Even with paranormal tales where things are out of the ordinary, try to keep things as realistic as possible. What scares people the most is if they start thinking something like that is possible. Hit on the things that frighten people the most and use them to help build up the tension.

What tricks do you use for creating a spooky atmosphere in your stories?

(Note: I've been a little busy lately. So these tips are reposted from a post I did in 2011. I've been doing Wicked Wednesdays that long? Wow.)

Click on over to the spooky Untethered Realms and find yourself an enchanted drink. We have the recipes! Even one from Jezebel.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Review for Don't Forget To Breathe

Sixteen-year-old Leocadia arrives home from school to find her mom’s bloody body. Unaware that the killer still lingers, she rushes to her mother’s side, only to be grabbed from behind and then everything fades to black.

After a year of retrograde amnesia and battling personal demons, Leo’s dreams are getting worse—she’s starting to remember. More bodies are discovered and they seem to be oddly linked to her mom’s unsolved homicide.

When Leo allows her friend, Henry to drag her into the haunted Lucien Mansion, misty ghosts appear, ghosts that just might lead to her mother’s murderer.

Will Leo let her memories threaten her into a relapse or, will she fight to find her mother’s killer – only to become his next victim?

My review:
The unsolved mystery of her mother's murder has weighed heavily upon Leocadia. She's had a rough year and is trying to find some answers, but things take a dark turn as the anniversary of that terrible night approaches. Leo can't remember what happened after finding her mom's body, but little bits are coming back in dreams and through strange supernatural happenings. Everyone is a suspect, even Leo herself. Yet she must unravel this mystery before it consumes her and she becomes the next victim.

This story had me suspicious of everyone, including the narrator herself, Leo. I do love trying to figure out who's the villain and what exactly happened. There are lots of shadows cast over the characters and tons of red herrings. I did guess who did it, but the bigger mystery was why. It was a lot of fun pulling back layer after layer to get to the big ending.

Leo's a teenage girl who's not just grieving for the loss of her mother, but being the one who found her murdered and possibly knowing who the killer is. Yet she has amnesia, and because of that, her biggest obstacle is herself. Her friend Henry is a loose cannon and she has the hots for a jock with the reputation of a player. To add on top of it all, her father has taken to drinking to drown his own pain.

A fantastic YA thriller with a touch of the supernatural.
Add it to read on Goodreads.
Stalk Cathrina Constantine here.

* * * * *

And check out Cathrina's newest release! Gorgeous.

How far would you go to protect your family?

A peculiar metamorphosis has taken shape since the final days. And the planet is in the throes of healing.

Fulvio McTullan leads his family and a band of misfits to form a new settlement, far from Tallas and it’s nefarious Elites. Their journey takes them into uncharted territories where strange creatures are lurking. It’s a battle of survival, not only from the creatures, but the mutated earth as well.

Meanwhile, Pomfrey Addler, an oppressive Elite squashes the insurrection in Tallas. Suddenly, citizens begin to vanish in the middle of the night and his daughter, Paniess is hell bent on revenge.

Fraught with mishaps, Fulvio finally locates the perfect place to settle. They begin to rebuild until they receive a call. A call which will lure them back into the clutches of Tallas.

Amazon Buy Link: One Click:

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Special post: Kyra Lennon's giving away free books on her birthday!

Happy birthday, Kyra!

For today and tomorrow only, you can get Kyra's awesome contemporary romance ebooks for free!

Game On


Nobody Knows

Author Bio: 

Kyra Lennon was born on the South coast of England, and to this day, still lives by the sea. Fiction writing has always been her passion, but she also has numerous articles on a variety of topics published on prolific websites.

Author links:
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads


Friday, October 23, 2015

Poltergeist's Pleasure is here!

The Paramours - ghost hunting with a kiss.

Claire McKinney has a theory that poltergeists aren't evil spirits or negative energy. When she locates a powerful vortex at the center of a haunting, she discovers a gorgeous man trapped inside. Zendal cannot escape on his own, but if Claire can create enough sexual energy with him, he will be able to break free. Intense as their passion is, it does not release him from the vortex. Claire finds herself caught not only by the ominous portal, but by Zendal's carnal zeal as well. Can she extricate them from the trap or will they forever be its prisoners?

Buy links: Ellora's Cave * Amazon * Kobo

Add it to read on Goodreads.

I always believed poltergeists weren't just noisy nuisances. But what could they be? I don't know if they're gorgeous men trapped in vortexes, but it's a fun thought to play around with.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - tips for multi-tasking manuscripts

That's how I look when I try to do more than one thing at a time. I'm one of those writers who focus on one project and finish it before diving into a new one. Most of the time, I'm highly efficient. So does that make me crazy to want to attempt to work on two projects at once?

I see other writers who are brilliant at multi-tasking projects. I am in awe. But I know all of us are different. What works for one person might not for another. We don't know until we try, though.

Two projects. Yikes. I'm taking a deep breath here. I'm collecting advice from other authors who are successful multi-taskers.

- Create a schedule and stick with it. Sounds easy, but what if you're on a roll? Too bad. Stop and continue again tomorrow. Be firm with yourself.

- It helps if your projects are vastly different from one another. That way, you won't get tired of too much of the same thing.

- Keep writing. Don't edit as you go. Leave that for the revision stage.

- Don't neglect other aspects of your life. Make sure you have time to spend with family and friends, exercise, and sleep. You will be a happier writer for it.

- Finally, finish what you start. If you find your focus is off because you have too much on your plate, drop one project. 

Do you have any tips to share about multi-tasking projects?

Monday, October 19, 2015

Review for Dorianna

Internet followers, beauty, power. It all sounded good.

Until it transformed into a terrifying reality Dorianna couldn’t stop.

When her father is jailed, her mother ships lonely, plain Dorianna to her aunt’s. There, Dorianna yearns to build a new identity, but the popular Lacey bullies her—mostly for getting attention from her ex, Ander.

Ander takes Dorianna to Coney Island where Wilson, a videographer, creates a stunning compilation of her. She dreams of being an online sensation, as she’s never even had a birthday party, and vows she’d give anything to go viral. Wilson claims he’s the Prince of Darkness and warns her the pledge has downsides.

Dorianna thinks he’s joking. She has no idea of how dire the consequences might be.
My review:
This is Dorianna's second chance. She's the new girl at school, and this time, no one will tease or ignore her. When the mysterious Wilson tells her to pledge her soul for beauty and popularity, Dorianna doesn't think he's serious when she does so. She becomes Sungirl and acquires a huge internet following. People adore her, she has a cute boyfriend, and it's everything she hoped it would be. Until her videos grow dark and twisted. Nothing she can do stops them. Her vow to Wilson was more than a joke. And it is far more than she bargained for.

DORIANNA is a YA horror that puts a modern twist on "A Picture of Dorian Gray." I do love the way the author did so with the internet and videos. The descriptions of Dorianna's videos made me feel as though I was watching them. I was shocked and yet reveled in it with how they evolved as her soul darkened.

Dorianna was a girl I liked and hated at various times, but I think that was the intention. She was so caught up in wanting to be beautiful and popular that I couldn't root for her, and even though that could be frustrating, the twist at the end made the read worthwhile. Wilson was an awesome bad boy. Odd, charming, and artistic, he was the perfect dark lure for Dorianna. My favorite character was Bailey, the artsy best friend who was cool without being fake. Lacey as a frenemy worked well, and I think I respected Lacey a little by the end.

This is a fantastic read for YA lovers who love the trouble that comes with high school cliques, popularity contests, and parties that get out of hand all with a supernatural edge.
Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Evernight Teen
Add it to read on Goodreads.
Stalk Catherine Stine here.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Friday Five for October 16, 2015

(Today my blog post is wearing pink in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.)

1. One week until the release of Poltergeist's Pleasure (The Paramours #2). This is a great read for people who want a ghost story but don't want to be scared. Add it to read on Goodreads.

2. One short story rejections this week. It was a hard one since I had been short listed by a pro venue. I submitted it elsewhere the same day. I also got a rewrite and resubmit for a noirish police flash piece. Did that too! Plus tomorrow is my local critique group meeting. I sent in an old flash piece. Hopefully they found some potential in it and I'll have another story to send out.

3. I caught up on everything I missed the previous week, and I wrote out several blog posts for the next five weeks. It feels good when I have everything ready to go and I can spend my time reading other people's blogs.

4. I was hit by a nasty bug on Wednesday and lost my day of writing. I slept 17 hours in total and couldn't manage to eat a thing. I feel better now, and thankfully my husband and son haven't caught it.

5. I booked a blog tour for The Paramours the first week of February. Yup, I'm planning way ahead! I'll keep you updated on the details.

Have a great weekend!

(We had tons of fun at the pumpkin patch last weekend!)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Wicked Wednesday - thinking about covers

(The action cover where the young hero fights a pirate!)

With my newest series, I'll have nine covers. I'd love to be able to afford a cover artist, but for nine covers? Yikes. So I'll be designing them myself.

And yes, I'm thinking about this way ahead of time. I've only finished the first rough draft of the of first novella. But I like to give myself a lot of time to think about important things. Covers are immensely important, after all. Most of us will say we don't judge books by their covers, but a gorgeous one will attract readers.

(The proud moment of accomplishment cover.)

The Totem series is paranormal romance (PNR) along the same lines as the 13th Floor series. Not all romance, but the relationships are pivotal to the plots.

I like to go simple when designing covers. I've learned some new Photoshops tricks since I made the 13th Floor covers. I believe I can step it up a notch this time. But which direction should I go?

Many PNR covers about shifters have the character(s) on the cover with their animals in the background. Or their eyes are animalistic in their beautiful human faces as they stare at the reader. Do I follow the standard formula? Or do I try to go my own way?

Here are my options. I'm curious as to what you as readers prefer.

1) These nine books are about three sisters. Each book will have one of the sisters narrating. They'll each get three books. I could focus on the women alone. Each cover would have the sister who's narrating, so readers will know who it is about.

2) Nine books. Three sisters. Three love interests. The first three books will have one of the sisters on each of them, and the next three books would have the men. The final three books would feature them as couples. I'm leaning in this direction because I believe PNR readers would like to see handsome men gracing the covers. (To this day, Xan still gets compliments!)

3) Nine books. Three sisters. Three love interests. Seven totems. If I don't want to use people on the covers, I could focus on the totem animals. Go with cool Inuit drawings. Yet the problem here is that only books 2-8 will have specific animals. Could I merge the totems with the models? Yes, possibly. I don't want to make my job overly difficult, though. But then what to do with books 1 and 9?

Right now, I need to stop looking at stock pictures and get writing!

(The what-the-heck cover that doesn't make sense when you read the story!)

Note: All the photos are of my son and Thee Bluebeard. He's a hilarious pirate captain looking for a new crew. He invites people on stage and makes them do weird things. It was the one thing my little guy wanted at the renaissance faire since he saw Bluebeard last year. He got his wish and it was awesome!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Review for Once Upon A Nightmare & Sale!

A legend awakens…

A monster hunts us. After hibernating for a decade, it’s ravenous. We long to stop this nightmare, but the end of the road is far. There is no waking up once a legend sets its sights on you.

Disappearances every ten or so years make little impact on the small town of New Haven, Virginia. Hikers get lost. Hunters lose the trail. Even when a body is discovered, the inhabitants’ memories last about as long as the newspaper articles.

No one connects the cases. No one notices the disappearances go back beyond Civil War times. No one believes a legendary monster roams the forests in Southwestern Virginia.

I don’t either until the truck breaks down on an old mountain trail. Cell phones won’t work in this neck of the woods. It’s amazing how much a person can see by starlight alone. So what if we can’t feel our fingers or toes as we hike toward the main road. How many more miles left to go?


Hear that noise?

My review:
Three chilling tales that will keep you awake on long winter nights.

We begin with a short terrifying piece that gives the reader a peek into how a monster is born. Nightmare at the Freak Show pulls at your heartstrings and leaves you pale and horrified, sitting with your mouth agape. Cherie Reich builds great tension in this opening tidbit. It'll leave you hungry for more.

Once Upon A December Nightmare grips you with its vivid detail and nail-biting suspense. It seemed like a normal night for the young folk, but I fast on the edge of my seat, and I couldn't relax even when I reached the end. The most unique part of this story is that the reader is allowed to see through all the characters' eyes. Each of the four characters have their own sections, and it's like peeling back layers of an onion. More is revealed about the dynamics of the group and each individual's inner most feelings. Cherie does a marvelous job with characterization.

Nightmare Ever After is my favorite of the stories. It takes place a decade after the last tale, and lets the reader peek into the life of someone who survived one horrible night. Cassie is a fascinating character that must not only deal with living with the trauma of that night, but also with the fact no one believes her. She struggles with her fears, but she's a survivor. Tim is the perfect complement to her character. They're thrown into the chaos of a case that's never been solved. The mystery haunts the reader through the pages, slowly unveiling the horror. The tension builds as the number of murders grow until you're on the edge of your seat waiting to see what's going to happen. The story has a definite X-Files feel. Though Tim is more Scully where as Cassie would be Mulder.

This is an amazing collection of horror stories. An intriguing mystery, masterful characterization, and heart pounding suspense. Oh, you'll see your fair share of horrific things, but there's so much more to these tales.

Buy links: Amazon * B&N * Book Depository * CreateSpace 

Add it to read on Goodreads. 

Haunt Cherie Reich here.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Friday Five for October 9, 2015

1. If you missed it, I was featured earlier this week at Yolanda Renee's blog with some Halloween fun. Find out what creepy super power I'd want and why Halloween is my favorite holiday. Also, check out Yolanda's blog all this month for scary interviews with other authors. We all were given the same start for a story. Read all the different ways we finished it!

2. My mom's been visiting this week. We've had lots of fun. It's going to take at least a week for me to catch up on my online stuff!

3. I ate way too much.

4. I had a breakthrough for settings in a new story. Yes!

5. Maybe some pumpkin patch fun this weekend. And a nap. I really just need a nap.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

#IWSG for October 2015

The Insecure Writer's Support Group (IWSG) is the brilliant idea of Alex J. Cavanaugh. The purpose of the group is to share doubts and insecurities and to encourage one another. Please visit the other participants and share your support. A kind word goes a long way.

The awesome co-hosts for this month will be TB Markinson, Tamara Narayan, Shannon Lawrence, Stephanie Faris, and Eva E. Solar!

It's that month of things that make us squirm, give us chills, and frighten us to death. For writers, that's every month when it comes to our insecurities.


Just remember...

You are not alone. Don't pull a horror movie faux pas and go off by yourself. We can survive if we stick together.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Review for Demon in the Basement

Thirty-two stories, including a novelette by the same title, to keep you awake at night.

A time-traveling Chevy, an ancient church of evil, a house possessed by black magic. Stories to fill you with dread, draw you into places you'd rather not go, smack you in the face with ironic possibilities.

Meet the monsters of myth, the creatures that lurk under your bed, the phantoms you thought didn't exist. Travel to the real Atlantis, strap in for the Bermuda Triangle. Terror lurks in the ocean, while an asteroid hides a secret .

Leave a nightlight on before you go to sleep. Something's coming for you.

My review:
A chilling collection of thirty-two horror stories that will make your skin crawl and your heart race. Evil like you've never known it and, more frightening, evil that you do know with terrifying twists. It doesn't matter if the characters are good or bad. Each of them live their own nightmares, and some never to wake.

Some of my favorites include "Food Chain" where something so innocuous becomes a Lovecraftian monster. "Metamorphosis" brings us to the beautiful Atlantis with its horrifying secret. And finally, we have the novella which holds the collection's name. Robert is tormented by a demon through his teenage years, and years later, he returns to battle it. But how to defeat it?

Buy it here: Amazon * B&N * Kobo * Smashwords

Add it to read on Goodreads.

Stalk River Fairchild here.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Friday Five for October 2, 2015

1. The edits for Poltergeist's Pleasure (The Paramours #2) are finished. I'm having a great time working with my new editor. She's quick and efficient. That means I have a release date: October 23rd. Just in time for Halloween!

2. I've been editing and critiquing this week, but I managed to get started on the second novella in my Totem series. Totem. Yes, I really like it. The more I type it, the better it feels. It's the same way I felt about the 13th Floor, and I'm still in love with that series.

3. Next week I'll be absent from the internet. It's my son's fall break and my mother will be visiting. We'll be doing lots of fun fall activities which include celebrating my birthday! We'll be going to The Cheesecake Factory for dinner one night. Mmmm... I'm already drooling thinking about the desserts. I do have a book review for Monday and my IWSG post for Wednesday all ready to go.

4. Tomorrow my family and I will be going to a nearby Renaissance Faire with friends. A way to warm up for the Realms Faire festivities coming next month! Keep your fingers crossed that it won't rain.

5. Last but not least, the Realms Faire Thunderclap has been fixed. Huzzah! Please lend your support on social media to help promote this fantastic event. Just click HERE and pick how you'd like to help out.

Have a wonderful week!