Category Archives: reading

In The Blood – Acknowledgements

18891862_1374521462631701_8327685668608727844_oWhen my review copy of In The Blood arrived,  I was a little overwhelmed by holding it in my hand and seeing it in person, feeling the weight of it, breathing in the new book smell of paper and ink.

Those of you who know me and have followed me for a while know that I was devastated last fall by the loss of my former teacher, Nicki Alexopoulos. I had already intended to mention her in the dedication to one of my novels, but I knew it had to be this one after the events of last year. I hope to present a signed copy to her daughter, and I do hope that she would be proud to see the work I’ve put in to make this book happen.

I started writing the book back in 2012, and in the spring of 2013, I made a first attempt to self publish it. After meeting with an editor at the World Horror Convention, however, I was convinced to take it down and do some major revision. He was right. The book was pretty good, but it wasn’t fully ready to be out there yet. Over the four years since then, I reworked the manuscript and spent time learning about the business side of being an author. I took some online classes, went to some writer’s retreats, and even took a course in forensics so I could bring that knowledge to bear in the novel as well. I also quit my job as a library supervisor and adjunct English professor in order to focus on my writing full time.

Though I could have gone the traditional route with an agent, there are very few who are willing to take a risk on a first time author who approaches them with a series rather than a standalone novel. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever be interested in submitting a manuscript that way, but for this series, starting my own publishing house and doing the work myself was a better choice.

Book Two, Out for Blood, will come out sometime next winter. The book is written and is in the process of being edited. Book Three, Trial by Blood will come out in 2018. I don’t want to make people wait too long for sequels. Those three books finish a story-arch. However, I have ideas and outlines for several more books beyond that, so if this series takes off, then I’ll definitely be working on those stories for a long time to come.

There isn’t room in the book to list everyone who’s helped me along on my journey. I’d like to list a few of them here, though the list is by no means complete.

  • My coworkers at Smiley Library – Cindy, Leasa, Carrie, Crystal, and John – who put up with six years of me talking about what I wanted to do and who were supportive throughout the process. They were inspiring, helpful, encouraging, and understanding, and they never made me feel that I was making a mistake when I decided to go pursue my dream. Thank you.
  • Crystal appears as a character in my novel, and I mention her in the afterward of the book. She asked to be in the book, and after I made the character and gave her life, it turned out she has some pretty tragic things happen to her. Sorry Crystal! I swear, the characters made me! And I promise, this won’t be the only time she’s mentioned. What happens to her will have a ripple effect in later books.
  • The students who became like my children were also a great inspiration and encouragement. John, Stazhia, Cameron, Denise, DaSean, Kelsey, Brenna, Cortney, Thomas, Jordan, Kayla, Jessica, Geofrey, Lindsey, Kelly Jo, Eldar, Megan, Tyler, Bailey, Cecilia, Mariah, Roger, Aubrey, Ginney, Wynter, Dani, Danielle, Shamika, Marco, Vin, Drew, Angelica, Darrell, Jane, Adam, as well as my fabulous student intern assistant Miranda….THANK YOU! I love you all dearly.
  • Keith Abernathy taught my forensics course and never failed to come by my desk just to chat and invite me to things. He passed away last month, and I miss him very much. He was so encouraging and helpful and such an inspiration to all his students. I intend to dedicate Book Two to him. I will be forever grateful for the things I learned from him.
  • My online friends are completely amazing. Those I met because of True Blood or through writing amazing characters together are truly some of the best people in the world. Thank you to Julie, Jenny, Louise, Emily, Susy, Shanda, Melissa, Mayra, Shawna, Shyanne, Suzanne, Cassy, Sharon, Joie, Jyoti, Michaela, Elizabeth, Sha, Latoya, Catherine, Tammy, Geena, Anitra, Kristie, Frank, Missy, Kim, Cyndi, Dawndela, Holly, Maxine, Misty, Rima, Rachael, Mimi, Sara, Tiffany, Renee, Dawn, Kira, Sarah, CeCe, Jennie, and especially Wendy and Andrea who are gone far too soon and I miss horribly. These are only a few. There are many more on Twitter, but I think they know I adore them. I try to tell them as often as I can.
  • My muse and favorite writing partner Bekah who makes me shine and feel inspired all the time, thank you for putting up with me, for supporting me, and for being so completely amazing. You make me look forward to every day.
  • My writing friends through conferences, retreats, and FB and Twitter groups, I thank you. You’ve taught me about craft, and you’ve been a constant source of help, inspiration, and encouragement. My writing buddies from Room 217, THANK YOU. I love you guys. You are all completely amazing. And thank you to the Horror Writers Association for being such a great organization. I’ve learned so much from all of you, and I couldn’t have finished this project without the connections I’ve made there.
  • My friends Erin and Anthony at Vamped and The Vampirologist, who have known me now for over five years, have been fantastically supportive throughout this journey. Thank you for the laughs, the research material, the help, and the friendship.
  • To the friends and family who have known me in the years before the internet and who have backed me up as I tried new things, THANK YOU! Your support means everything.
  • And to my parents for whom there are not enough words of thanks. I have been truly lucky in my life to have parents who understood and believed in my dreams. Thank you.

And with that, I’d like to thank you. If you’re reading this, you’re part of my journey too. Even if your name doesn’t appear above, I am no less grateful for you.

THANK YOU!

Signed copies of In The Blood are available from Eagle Heights Press.

Trade paperbacks can be purchased from Amazon or Barnes & Noble, or you can request an order from your favorite local bookstore.

Ebooks are available for Pre-order from your favorite online outlet.

If you’re reading it, I’d love to know! Find me on Goodreads!


Want to be interviewed on this blog? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

Spring Break Boogie

For the university students at the college where I work, Spring Break begins today. While I don’t have the entire week off from work, I do have two three-day weekends in a row, which is almost as  fantastic. This weekend, I’m working on book revisions, learning to podcast, and spending some time with my family.

Family

DadMy father’s 82nd birthday was last week, but due to the bad weather and my laryngitis, we held off celebrating for a week.

The photo to the right shows him six years ago, working on the front porch of my house on a beautiful day in October. My father, an optometrist by day, acted as contractor for nearly every part of the work that was done on my house, from demolition, rough construction, plumbing, wiring, drywall, paint, finish carpentry…you name it, my dad did it. He did the work in his spare time, giving up days off to help me with the job that would otherwise have been impossible and overwhelming. There is not a room in this house that doesn’t have his stamp on it. Words cannot express the gratitude I have or the impact he’s had on my life.

Though he isn’t able to do as much as he used to, at age 82, I think he’s earned the right to relax. Still, he is always looking toward the next project, and that is an approach to life that I aspire to.

Social Media

Back in January, I started working with my intern assistant, Miranda Herod. To introduce her, she and I did an interview together. Miranda is a business major, concentrating in marketing and advertising, and she’s minoring in communications. Throughout the spring semester, she is working with me on my internet presence, helping to analyze and improve my social media use.

As part of the internship, Miranda and I are working on creating a plan for a regular podcast I’ll host, and I’m looking forward to making that happen.

Author Fangirling

Neil Gaiman PosterToday, I got such a wonderful surprise! I discovered that I won a contest for this Neil Gaiman signed poster! Eee!! I opened the mail and almost screamed, but then I realized I was on my front porch still in pajamas and there were people leaving the building across the street. Once I scurried inside though, totally shameless fangirling happened.

Now I just have to find the perfect frame so I can hang it in a place of honor in my office.

I’m not at all an autograph hound, but I have loved Neil Gaiman’s work for the last 25 years, and this poster is definitely going to be motivational for me. His work inspires me every day.

The only other autograph I’ve ever sought out is Anne Rice’s.

To the best of my memory, it was 1995. I was 24 years old and was in the process of writing my first book (which was dreadful, though I didn’t realize it at the time). I hadn’t yet made up my mind about grad school, but I knew that my dream was to work as an author one day. In addition to my academic reading, I absolutely devoured horror novels, especially Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles.

A friend of mine from college who shared my interests called to let me know that Anne Rice was on a book tour to promote her latest novel. As a gift to me, she got both of us tickets to the signing event at a bookstore near her house. I remember driving two hours and then waiting with my friend for four more hours in line. The demand for the tickets had been much greater than the bookstore had anticipated, and hundreds of people had come from miles around for the event.

Anne Rice AutographImpatient and excited, I clutched my ticket and my brand new copy of Memnock the Devil until my group was called. As long as my day was, when I thought about how long she had been scrawling her name over and over inside book after book, still smiling and saying “thank you,” it made me even more grateful. She must have been there ten hours that day, and she was just as polite and thoughtful to those of us at the end of the line as she had been to the people lucky enough to get there first.

I was so excited about the autograph that I immediately went to buy a second copy of the novel in order to keep the signed one unopened and pristine. I still have it on the shelf next to my computer, and every day as I’m working in my office I see the book out of the corner of my eye and smile.

My Writing

My brain is full of more ideas than I can contain right now. It’s a good problem, but I can’t write fast enough.

Keeping focused on my top priority, I’m making a few more revisions to Book 1 before I send it off for another round of edits and then shop it.

As for Book 2, I’m about 30 pages in. I’ve put it on hold until my revisions are through, but I intend to be back to work on it in about a month.

In addition, I’m working on a couple of short stories which I hope to complete sometime before the end of the summer. One is a ghost story inspired by a dream I had, and I hope that what scares me will scare others. The other is a detective story with a horror twist.

Finally, I’ve had yet another idea for a YA book, also inspired by a dream, this one a dystopian zombiesque story. I have another YA book about werewolves already begun. I’ve made notes on both books and set them aside for the time being so I can concentrate on one thing at a time.

I love being so inspired. I only wish there were more hours in the day.

Layla

LaylaHave I mentioned that I have the best dog ever? Well, I do. She’s a wonderful writing companion-quiet, relaxed, and patient. Layla also makes sure I don’t forget to eat and stretch once in a while. She doesn’t do any tricks except “sit,” and even then you have to give her a treat for doing it, but I don’t need a dog who entertains me. Layla knows how to love, and that is the best.

Dogs don’t ask for much. They cheerfully eat the same thing every day. They love unconditionally.

Things Layla has taught me:

  • Give the people in your life all of your attention.
  • If you love someone, show it.
  • Ask for hugs when you need them.
  • Be excited to meet new people.
  • Show gratitude immediately.
  • Expect the best, always.
  • Appreciate the little things-warm breezes, soft blankets, belly rubs, tasty treats.
  • Slow down to notice the wonder of the world around you.
  • Take walks.
  • Set boundaries and make sure others know them.
  • Try harder.
  • Live in the now.
  • Share your enthusiasm with others.
  • Naps are good.
  • There is comfort in routine.
  • Be willing to follow someone else’s lead.
  • Never give up on something that matters to you.

And on that note, I’m off to work.

Goal Setting for the New Year

Since I was a kid, I’ve always been a big list-maker. One of the most satisfying experiences, in my opinion, is making a list of all the things I hope to accomplish in a day/week/month/year and ticking them off one at a time till they’re all done. I love that sense of completion I get from looking at a list upon which every task has a corresponding checkmark. I also learned early on to break up large jobs into small tasks so that I could simultaneously give myself achievable goals and positive reinforcement that would see me through to the end. This system has stood me well as a writer as well.

I have very ambitious long term goals, but the only way I’m going to see them to fruition is by setting a series of short term milepost goals that will lead me in the direction I want to go.

With this in mind, here are my goals for 2014 (yes, I realize this is a long list, but they’re all attainable given the proper planning):

Writing Goals

  • Find representation (In process) for the book series with the goal of publishing Book 1 within a year
  • Meanwhile, write manuscript for Book 2 between January and May.
    • Write summaries for each character’s storyline, with their key scenes detailed
    • Outline the chapters in order, interweaving those storylines
    • Organize the book into 3 acts (30-35 thousand words per part) in order to give the story structure
    • Create the Scrivener project for the book
    • Set a schedule for each week with a deadline for completing each of the parts (one per month?)
    • Maintain a record of words completed each week
    • When first draft of each section is complete, take a couple of days off and then do at least 3 rounds of revision
    • Update outline as needed until the entire manuscript is complete and ready to begin editorial process
  • Write at least 2 short stories in the summer of 2014 (related to the novel? unrelated?) and shop them for publication in the fall
  • Determine what manuscript I want to work on during The Stanley Hotel Writer’s Retreat

Social Media Goals

  • Set a weekly/monthly schedule for regular blogging/posting
  • Learn how to use analytics to determine content goals
  • Find an admin assistant for my FB and Twitter to help manage postings if needed

Personal Goals

  • Schedule exercise into my weekly calendar 3 x per week and take it as seriously as I do my writing goals
  • Expand my container garden to grow more than just tomatoes this year
  • Reorganize my laundry room and consider purchasing new equipment
  • Learn to crochet
  • Dedicate one room for hobbies and organize supplies
  • Spring cleaning during the week of Spring Break to sort clutter, then store, toss, or donate as appropriate
  • Read 50 books using Goodreads to keep track of my goal

Notice that these are goals, not resolutions. Resolutions seem to always be broken. I am going to do these things, not just say I’m going to. Getting out my calendar now to make my plans. 2014 is going to be a good year.

What are your goals for the New Year?

Things You Should See, Read, Do!

With two jobs in addition to my writing (not including being Layla’s dogmom, which she informs me should be a full-time career), I don’t have a ton of free time to watch TV or movies or for recreational reading or shopping or whatever. Therefore, I’m pretty selective when it comes to how I spend that time. These are a few things I am glad I spend time on, and I think you will be too.

The new FOX television series Sleepy Hollow
If you’re not watching this show, you’re making a huge mistake. Fans of Supernatural, you should be tuning in. I guarantee you’ll love it.

Nicole Beharie as Abbie Mills is a strong, smart, capable woman, and we need more of those. Also, she’s beautiful and sexy without having to be sexualized, and that is refreshing as well.

Tom Mison as Ichobod Crane has great chemistry with his leading lady, and his flashes of wit and humor are the perfect balance to the weighty “save-the-world-from-the-apocalypse” drama. Plus, ladies, just look at him. Seriously, go Google and take a look. I’ll wait. …………………. Mmm hmm. Like I said.

The plot is intriguing, surprising, suspenseful, and not just a little bit scary. I’m hoping this show is around a long time.

Australian Musician Matt Corby
His soulful sound is nothing short of inspiring. If you give him a listen, I think not only will you agree, but you’ll go right out to buy every song just like I did. Here’s a sample.

Warning, he could become addictive.

John Dies at the End

The book is so bizarre and hilarious, I was pretty sure there was no way a movie adaptation could do it justice. Then I saw it was made by the same folks who did Bubba Ho Tep (one of my very favorite Bruce Campbell films), and I knew all bets were off. I ignored the reviews which were done by people who don’t appreciate B cult movies, and man, am I glad I did. Did they include everything in the novel? Heck no. That would be impossible. However, they did stay true to the spirit of the book, and I loved every wacky thing that happened.

The BBC Radio Dramatization Broadcast of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere
I have loved Neverwhere for years. I don’t know how many. Just trust me, it’s lots. I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman since 1989 and have read nearly everything he’s ever written. I say “nearly” simply because he’s written SO MUCH, it is of course possible that I’ve missed something, but I never did so on purpose. But this dramatization is truly fabulous.

With readers like Christopher Lee, James McAvoy, Natalie Dormer, David Harewood, Sophie Okonedo, Benedict Cumberbatch, Anthony Head, the tale comes alive and will remain in your thoughts long after you’ve finished listening.

Note: Unless you like having creepy nightmares, you might want to listen in a well-lit area in daylight since Benedict Cumberbatch’s depiction of the Angel Islington is chilling. Then again, if you enjoy that kind of thing, well, then by all means go right on and ignore my warning. Just don’t say I didn’t tell you.