Category Archives: World Horror Convention
When 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.
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!
I have a lot to be grateful for over this past year, so I thought I’d take a moment to appreciate the good things. There are lots more I could list, but these are the big things.
- I finished writing a book. Not my first book, but the first book I’ve really been serious about trying to perfect and sell. I’m going to say it again. I. FINISHED. WRITING. A. BOOK.
- I discovered that there was an audience for that book. I had hoped it would be true, but having people read the sample and then say “I want more” is wonderful confirmation.
- My family is my rock. I am so blessed with the many ways they support me. I could not have completed any of the goals I set for myself without their help, emotionally, physically, and financially. I am truly and deeply grateful.
- I have fantastic friends, both online and off, and they have supported me, given me encouragement, and made my life so much richer. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. You all know who you are, and you are the best.
- Layla is the best dog ever. Seriously.
- After nine years, my house is finally almost done. What a journey it has been! Can I get an “AMEN”? Honestly, this used to be my kitchen.
Now my house looks like this.
The difference is truly astounding to me.
- I have a dedicated office in my house at last, and I finally feel like I can do some serious work in this space.
- My co-workers are such great people to work alongside. I have never worked anywhere that was so warm and caring.
- My health has improved dramatically. This time last year, I was having constant asthma attacks and serious recurrent health problems. Thanks to a wonderful doctor and diligent effort, my asthma, thyroid, blood pressure, anemia, low immune system, and general fatigue are all under control, and in some cases the symptoms went away entirely. I would never have been able to finish writing my book if not for that change, and I am truly humbled by the difference a year makes.
- Going to the World Horror Convention in New Orleans was not only a fabulous vacation which I was thrilled to enjoy with my best friend in the whole world, but I also got over my fear of putting myself out there as a writer. I also met some extraordinary people, including my editor, RJ Cavender, for whom “thank you” is not enough.
- Speaking of RJ, he gets his own gratitude number. I am so lucky to have met him, and his work on my manuscript has taught me things I will carry with me always. He is also responsible for introducing me to an agent and giving me the courage to submit to her, and for that…well…just…that is huge. I will always be grateful.
My best friend, Mike, gave me a printer and part of my Christmas gift office chair, plus he recommended several great apps for my iPad and the Scrivener software for my computer. He went with me to New Orleans. Moreover, he has listened to endless hours of me rattling on about my story without trying to push me to write the story his way, and that is rare. He has been supportive in every way a friend can be, and after almost 30 years of friendship, I am still honored to know him.
The pitch sessions went extremely well. I’ve sent off my manuscript to three different people, and now the waiting begins. Hopefully, I’ll know something in a month or so.
In the meantime, I’m going to be working on Book 2 (still untitled), and trying to get ahead on that while I’ve got my momentum going. I also want to get as much done as possible before the summer is over. Once the fall semester starts, I’ll have to slow down a little on my writing once more in order to keep up with my other obligations.
The next book has already been outlined, and I’ve written up a plan for the chapters. Of course, as I write, the characters may lead me in ways I haven’t anticipated, but that’s what I love. I have some new characters added into the mix that I think people will really enjoy, and I’m doing a great deal of research to prep my mind for what lies ahead.
- Of course, I’ve got a lot of background info for my characters. I never like to be too tied to literal facts when the story can benefit from embellishment, but I do think it’s absolutely essential to read as much as I can about the real lives of the people I’m writing about before I just start making stuff up. Then again, they are vampires, so you can’t expect everything to be factual in every detail. This is fiction, not biography.
- I’m also going to be taking a course in forensics over the fall semester, which I’m extremely excited about. I’ve already bought the book and have taken tons of notes, poring through it in detail. I think it will enhance what I’ve already written and open up new avenues throughout the series.
The entire experience left me feeling even more energized to keep working and improving and moving forward with the next part of the story. I hope that in the next few weeks and months to have some exciting news. Whether or not a publishing deal comes out of the convention, I’m more determined than ever that if those three people aren’t interested, I will find the folks who are. Patience and hard work will eventually pay off.
I made the decision to switch my blog over to Blogger rather than keeping it on Wix where it has been housed. I was just not as happy with some of the functionality of Wix’s blog (though I do love, love, love my author website there). In addition, it’s not as easy to network with other authors on Wix as it is on Blogger or WordPress, and that’s something I definitely intend to do more of in the coming months.
Also today, I purchased my tickets for the World Horror Convention 2013 in New Orleans and reserved my hotel room. It’s official. I’m attending. If you’re also going to be going to this event, let me know in the comments below. I’ll also be taking a few days of vacation time then to see the sights and wander the city with my very best friend in the whole world.
I’m making plans for a release party for the complete novel at the end of this month. Details will be posted soon!
And now some totally shameless self-promotion, as promised:
It’s all five stars for the sneak peek of Ma Cheré Antoinne! Check it out on Amazon for only $.99!
Though I’ve been extremely busy with family things for the last two weeks which has slowed down my writing progress, I have managed to accomplish several things that are very exciting!
- My Goodreads author page is up and running!
- I have a new book trailer!
- I’ve had great fun participating in the Book Crazy 1000 Likes celebration event. It’s been so successful, it’s continued on throughout the rest of this week, and I’ve still got two more copies of my book to give away. To participate, go to their events page. There are lots of other prizes as well.
- And I am very happy to announce that I will be attending the World Horror Convention in New Orleans this summer, June 13-16! This is my first time attending a convention like this, and I’m thrilled to pieces!
All in all, it’s been very productive and exciting, and I’ll be back on track for writing once more now that my mother is on the mend. I’m still planning on a release at the end of February. Watch for a firm date coming soon!