Category Archives: writing

No Rest for the Wicked

In The Blood is Finally Here!

I am so excited that In The Blood, the first book in The Blood Royal Saga is finally out there for people to read and enjoy.

img_0117For those who are interested in purchasing a copy of In The Blood:

Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947181-00-7

  • Amazon (Link goes to the US Amazon link, but if you search using the ISBN number, you will find the copy, no matter what country you’re in)
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Or you can request an order from your favorite local bookstore

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-947181-01-4
Available from your favorite online outlet

Autographed Paperbacks can be ordered directly from Eagle Heights Press.

I’ve been sending out a lot of signed copies, and it’s amazing and humbling to me how many countries it’s reached. I’m considering getting a big world map and pinning all the locations I’ve mailed to. Yes, I’m sending them out myself, so if you order one of these, I’ll be the one mailing it out to you.

It’s been a very long road to this day, but one week into the sales, and I’m pretty pleased with the comments I’ve gotten back. I’m hoping people find the book exciting and interesting and that they want to keep coming back for more.

I’ve tried very hard not to swamp people with too much advertisement. Some of it is necessary, but it’s hard to find a balance between simply sharing your excitement and feeling like you’re spamming people. I hope I am doing the former rather than the latter. No one likes constant advertising, and I don’t want to do that to my friends.

I know I can’t just sit around and wait for people to buy, however. It’s not just going to become a success without effort.

Help Spread The Word

Some people have asked what they can do to help me get the word out. There are a few things, if you’re so inclined:

  • Post about it on social media to help me find new readers
  • Write reviews on Amazon and Goodreads
  • Tell people you think would enjoy it
  • Request the book at your local bookstore

Those things will help more than anything else, and would be greatly appreciated.

Release Party

On July 15, I’m hosting an afternoon release party open house celebration at my house for anyone who is local. I’ve ordered a cake from The Upper Crust bakery in Columbia (LET THEM EAT CAKE) which I cannot wait to see (It’s supposed to look like my book cover). We will also have champagne, though there will also be punch and coffee for those who prefer it. So far, we’ve got about sixty five people or so who have confirmed that they’re attending, though there may be more.

At the party we will have special guest Marie Antoinette in attendance, and you can have your photo taken with her to celebrate.

With as many people as we are anticipating, we’ve spent a lot of time getting the house ready for the event and have purchased a canopy tent thing where I’ll set up outdoors to sign copies for those who want them. I’ll use the canopy for festivals and outdoor events later on, and may even take Marie on the road with me.

Camp NaNoWriMo and Sequels

Thououtforbloodcovergh this first week of July has been hectic, I still set myself the goal of doing Camp NaNoWriMo and using the time to complete revisions on Book 2, Out For Blood, before sending the book to an editor. I’m planning to finish my work on the book this month so I can publish the book by December, and even get a head start on finishing Book 3, Trial By Blood which I plan to publish in 2018. I don’t want to make readers wait too long for the sequels.

I’ve also made a mockup of the cover of Out For Blood, and I’m very excited to see it come to its fruition. I’m feeling more confident with InDesign, and I truly enjoy that aspect of the job as well. Though being responsible for every aspect of the project is extremely hard work and sometimes I feel like Dick Van Dyke’s One Man Band in Mary Poppins, it’s so rewarding to have every part of the project be something I had a hand in. Every choice has been mine, from font to layout to cover art. Having creative freedom also means creative responsibility, but it’s an aspect of the job that is extremely satisfying to me.

Public Radio show and Podcast

After meeting with the station manager of the local public radio station, KPIP, I’ll be hosting my own show regularly, and that will then be posted online as a podcast. The schedule has to be set, and I am still working on a title for it, but I’m really excited that this is a thing that’s going to happen.

One segment of the show will be me reaching a chapter of In The Blood a week. I intend to compile those once I’m through and put out an audiobook.

I’ve bought a microphone and headset to do the recordings, and the equipment will work on both my desktop computer and on my iPad. That means I can take it with me to events or on research trips and do recordings on the road as well. As soon as I have more information, I’ll be posting about that so people know where to listen in.

As part of the show, I’d like to host regular interviews with other writers as well, and if you’re interested in participating in that, please let me know. I’m happy to do that, and I’d love to hear from you.

In gearing up for that, as well as to prepare for other things I intend to write, I’m doing some research. Here are just a few of the things on my reading list. If you’ve got recommendations, drop me a line, and I’ll add them to my stack.

 

So, anyway, that’s what’s happening with me this month. It’s likely to keep me very busy. It’s a good busy, though, and I’m loving the work.

I’m looking forward to having a little time to go on a holiday this fall, though it’s likely to be a working vacation. So much I want to do and only so much time!

 

 

Counting Down

It’s getting close now. In The Blood comes out July 1st. I’ve been working on this series for so long, and it’s down to the final few days before it comes to fruition.

I suppose I’m like a lot of authors, alternating between extreme excitement and panic attacks.

I go through all the “What Ifs” that plague every introverted creative person. What if no one likes it? What if there’s some horrible error I’ve overlooked? What if my best isn’t good enough? What if it isn’t perfect? What if on the morning after, I feel the way Victor Frankenstein did, looking on his creation not with love but with horror? That is the grown up voice of worry, born of a lifetime of self-doubt.

But then there is the excited childlike part of me that just wants to let it go with joy and wonder at having created something out of nothing, a world born of “what-if,” peopled with characters that leapt out of my brain fully formed. That child in me hopes other people will go along for the ride, suspend their disbelief and play the game of make-believe that I’ve created.

It’s the child in me that daydreamed of being a writer. That inner child is fueled by curiosity and enthusiasm and imagination along with a desire to share and find others who will join in for the love of story.

All my favorite stories were about imperfect people who stumbled and fell and lost their way on their journey. People who suffered and fought and loved hard and took risks, facing danger from overwhelming obstacles and foes. I sometimes felt sorry for the villain, even when I hated their actions. The best stories, for me, were ones that invoked empathy, that brought me to tears, caused me to shout in frustration, made me laugh out loud, and if I didn’t smile at the end, still I felt a sense of completion and satisfaction in the way the story reached completion. I didn’t need happily ever after as long as it brought a sense of closure to the experience.

That’s what books should be, after all. An experience.

There is a give and take between the writer and the reader. A shared collaboration between their imaginations.

When I read Jane Eyre, for example, though nearly two hundred years separate me from Charlotte Bronte, I’m still bringing my imagination to mesh with hers. I’m playing her game of make-believe. Letting her lead me into a world where a naive young governess and a lonely but rich gentleman who’s been disappointed by love and life can find an understanding between them, a kinship of spirit, that transcends the darkness they find in the world around them.

I don’t make any pretense to that sort of greatness. But the same basic rules of the game apply. I, as writer, create the story, while you, as reader, agree to believe the impossible and to care about people who never were.

I hope that I’ve made a good one. I hope you find it entertaining. I hope that when you finish In The Blood, you’ll want more. That’s the best that I can hope, and it’s certainly good enough for me. 15190222775_f14ef58a58_b

So to quiet the negative “what ifs,” I fill my mind with hope and with story, planning for the next adventure and trusting that you’ll follow where I lead.

That’s all any author can hope for.

Book Two, Out For Blood, is being edited with the plan of publishing this winter. Book Three, Trial By Blood, is partly written, and I intend to finish it sometime this summer so it can be published next year. I have several more outlined with ideas and possibilities for all these characters long into the future. But all of that depends on my book finding readers who are ready to join me on the ride.

I hope that you are one such person.


9781947181007-Perfect.inddIn The Blood

Trade Paperback ISBN: 978-1-947181-00-7

Ebook ISBN: 978-1-947181-01-4
Available for Pre-order from your favorite online outlet

Autographed Paperbacks can be ordered directly from Eagle Heights Press.


Want to be featured on this blog? Interested in a review or an interview? Let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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!

“What If….” Generating Story Ideas

One of the most common questions I get asked when people find out I’m a writer is “Where do you get your story ideas?” It sounds like a straightforward question, but answering it is much more complex, however, than I think most people realize.

The simple answer is “They just come to me,” but that makes it sound like some sort of mystical dreamlike process involving fairies or a magic spell or something.

Honestly, sometimes they do come in dreams, but the majority of them don’t, and I don’t know anyone who’s tried to write who didn’t struggle with this issue when they first began.

For me, every story begins with daydreaming about a “what if” scenario.

  • What if vampires were real and one sat down and told his life story to a reporter?
  • What if young medical student found a way to bring the dead back to life?
  • What if on the other side of the mirror, there was another world?
  • What if a poor girl meets a rich guy at a party and they hate each other right away because of bad first impressions?

All of those are the basic premises of books that went on to become wildly successful, but each started from a simple “what if” situation.

The vampire series I wrote began as “What if Marie Antoinette was a vampire and was still alive?” Everything else in the plot developed out of that with a series of reporter’s questions – who, what, when, where, why, how.

  • If she’s a vampire, where is she living now?
  • Why did she move there?
  • How did she adapt to the modern world?
  • What does she do for a living?
  • How did she escape the guillotine?
  • Who helped her?

Once I answered those questions, I  continued asking more “what if” questions to keep searching for a plot.

Asking “What if she still has enemies?” led to more reporter’s questions.

  • Who are they?
  • Why do they hate her?
  • What do they want?
  • Where did she meet them?
  • How long have they been searching for her?

My plot grew out of those questions/answers.

Whenever I find myself stuck, I return to asking myself questions to think through the next scene or plot point.

I keep multiple notebooks where I write down these ideas whenever they come to me. But I find that just waiting around for a muse to arrive doesn’t work. I have to give it a push. My muse is lazy, and she doesn’t seem to bring me story ideas in some magical way. For me, it comes from consciously seeking out story. Allowing myself time to daydream. Actively encouraging daydreaming, in fact.

If I wake up from a dream with an idea for a story, it’s because I’ve been asking myself those what if questions before bed, and my brain worked on the problem while I was sleeping. There’s nothing mystical about it.

There isn’t a trick to suddenly having good ideas for stories. You can’t just sit with blank paper and wait for the story to arrive. Generating them takes effort and practice. Not every idea is going to work, and not every story will become successful. But the more you actively train your brain to daydream in a productive way, the more you learn how to generate interesting stories.


Would you like to be interviewed on this blog? Let me know!

Various and Sundry

Ordinarily, I have a theme I focus on as I write my blog entries, but my mind is everywhere all at once this weekend, so I’m just going to give you pieces of that instead.

What I’m writing:

I’m working on additions/changes to Book One of my vampire series. I’m hoping to have those done by the end of October so I can spend November (NaNoWriMo time) finishing Books Two and Three. They’re outlined, and the word totals for the two books add up to 70,000 words, which is the goal for NaNoWriMo. How awesome would it be to enter December with THREE COMPLETE NOVELS in my series done? SO AWESOME.

I’ve also got a werewolf project I’m planning to co-write with a friend, and I’m very excited about seeing that happen. I’m hoping if we can get more done, I can sign us up for Channillo so it can be published in serial form online.

What I’m reading:

I’m working my way through The Memoirs of Casanova. He’s such a fascinating person. I’m really enjoying his storytelling. There’s such a playful energy to his style and a clear intelligent wit. He’s often laughing, it seems, but at himself as much as at the other people he was surrounded by. I can see why so many women found him appealing.

What’s happening around the house:

New screen doors and trim have been installed on our back porch, and before the cold sets in, we’re having the back of the house scraped and repainted. That wall was the first one that was painted back when the renovations were happening, and some of the paint has begun to peel. It’s been several years now, so I suppose that’s not surprising. I can’t wait to see it looking fresh and new again. As for the back porch, I’m very excited to have that finishing touch completed. I’m looking forward to spending three seasons of the year out there, bug free.

The last big job to tackle is the garage, and that will happen hopefully next year.

What I’m making:

Knitting is relaxing for me. I do it in between writing sprints and as a way to relax my mind when gearing up or gearing down for the day. I let my mind drift, and it seems to help me focus better once I get to work.

For the last month, I’ve been making hats and scarves for five of my friends. I have several projects going at the same time, and I move from one to the other depending on my mood and which room I’m in.

I’m hoping to have them all finished and mailed out by Thanksgiving, and then I plan to make knitted animals for the children in my family as well as a few other people I know would enjoy them.

Next spring, I plan to make my first sweater. I’ve always been a little nervous about doing that since it seems so complicated, but I’m going to tackle my fear and just try. After all, that’s the only way to learn, right?

Nerdy things that arrived in the mail:

Stuff I thought was cool:

How’s ’bout you?

  • What’s new with you?
  • Got any new projects/books you’re excited about?
  • What are you working on? Writing? Reading? Doing?
  • Did you find something cool you think I should know about?

Tell me in the comments!

Want to be interviewed on this blog? Let me know! I’m always looking for writers to promote and talk with.

 

The Stories We Tell

I had planned to spend the entire weekend writing a short story. Unfortunately, my story had other ideas. Turns out that the story idea I’d envisioned isn’t a short story at all. It’s a novella. And while I like the story and think it’s going to be a good one, it doesn’t fit the requirements for the contest I’d been writing for. So…I’m back to square one. I’ll be working this week on finding a more narrowly focused story. Eventually, I’ll come back to my novella idea, but for now it’ll go on the shelf to make room for something new.

In order to switch mental gears, I need to clear my thoughts. Every story for me begins with daydreaming. But in order to daydream about something new, I have to empty my head of the old. Three things are effective ways of accomplishing this. And they sort of need to be done in order. Call it a ritual if you want. I just know this is what works.

  1. Take several hours to do a repetitive task that you don’t do every day. Knitting. Making jewelry. Woodworking. Gardening. It doesn’t matter what it is, but the more repetitive it is the better. It should be something that doesn’t require a great deal of thought, but which keeps your body and hands occupied and allows room for your mind to wander free.
  2. Long walks. Outdoors. With music. No talking. Dogs are great for this. Again, it’s rhythmic movement, repetitive, leaving your thoughts open to drift. And by long walks, I mean over an hour.
  3. Quiet Meditation. Be still. Close your eyes. Count your breathing. Relax your body. Silence your mind. Let go of what occupied your thoughts in the past. Find your stillness.

It’s like cleansing your mental palate. Sweeping away the old to make room for the new. I find that if I do these three things, then get a good night’s sleep, I am much more open and able to generate much better and more creative story ideas.

The Thing About the Writing Thing

I write stuff because I don’t know how to not write stuff. It’s just something I have always done. I tell stories. Sometimes, when I think they’re interesting enough, I write them down. I would write for myself even if I thought no one else would ever read it.

However, I’m going to be honest right now. I want other people to read it. Not in an academic sort of way. I don’t care if something I write gets put into a textbook and studied 100 years from now. Well, okay, a teeny part of me would be flattered. But let’s be serious. That’s about as likely as winning the lottery. I just want to write stuff that people like. Things that entertain. And, yes, I would like to be paid for it. Because if I get paid for it, I can afford the time to write more of it.

Keats Life and LettersI don’t care about writing a book that has a “moral” or a “message” for the reader. Frankly, if a writer cares more about a story’s message than about the characters and whether the reader is entertained, I’m not interested in reading it. That doesn’t mean entertaining books can’t teach us something. I’m just saying, I don’t believe that should be the primary goal of fiction.

Keats wrote in his letters about the purpose of poetry, saying that:

We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us—and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great & unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one’s soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself but with its subject.—How beautiful are the retired flowers! how would they lose their beauty were they to throng into the highway crying out, ‘admire me I am a violet! dote upon me I am a primrose! (Selections from Keats’s letters, Poetry Foundation)

I think you could substitute the word “fiction” where he says “poetry.” I don’t read fiction to be lectured to. If I gain some sort of insight after reading  a story, that’s a bonus. But first and foremost, I want to be caught up by the words. I want to find the book so engaging that I can’t stop reading it. I want to be excited enough to share it with others.

That’s what I aspire to do as a writer. To create something that fascinates the reader. To tell a story that is worth the telling.

Character Questionnaire from The Script Lab – Whenever I get stuck and can’t seem to make forward motion on a story, I work on character. For me, character is where all story comes from. If you know the characters deeply, then every action and reaction flows from that. You can anticipate what they will say, how they will react in given situations, ways that they will challenge other characters, etc. Sometimes, knowing your character means doing research, though it may also mean simply digging deep within to conjure up those details that make the character come alive for the reader.

One last thing about writing that I want to share is this TED talk video with Amy Tan talking about Where Does Creativity Hide, which is a question I find fascinating as well:

Pretty Good Days

Untitled

By Neil Gaiman’s definition, I’ve had some pretty good days lately.

Well, okay, I took a couple of days off to go on a short trip to Chicago. But otherwise, yes. I’m writing every day. I’m keeping to a routine that works. I’m wrapping up changes to the manuscript to give to my editor and will be sending them off by the end of the week. The work makes me happy. The changes feel good. I’m inspired. I’m looking forward to what comes next.

Like anyone else, I could list off a litany of things that aren’t going the way I would like. However, I choose to focus on what is going right, and my writing is a big part of that.

I’m also working with Miranda, the fabulous, on my social media plan, and that project is also making me smile. She’s been very helpful in helping me focus on what works now and what can be better. I’m really going to miss her at the end of the semester.

Random Things That Interested Me:

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.

Random Interesting Stuff (or How I Cut My Distractions and Got Busy Writing Book 2)

How to Break Through Your Creative Block by Maria Popova for Brain Pickings
I’m working on this. I get easily distracted and sidetracked with to-do lists and social media, and then the next thing I know I’m taking a nap. My solution is two-fold.

  1. This blog is going to be my repository of distracting but interesting stuff. Rather than posting several times a day, I’m going to try to limit myself to a few posts at the beginning and end of the day, saving up interesting ephemera for one single blogpost every day or so.
  2. When I’m staring at a blank page or screen, unsure how to start, I take about 5-10 minutes and do a prewriting just to get things rolling. Instead of worrying about how I’m going to say just the right thing, I start instead with writing about what I’m going to write about. I don’t worry about grammar or paragraph breaks or any of that. Sometimes it’s just a list. But I’m thinking about the scene and what I want to have happen. By the time I’ve told myself what I’m going to tell, it’s easy to start telling it. The hard work is done.

Why Dogs Make Fun Writing Partners by Jennifer Robson for Writer’s Digest
I loved this article, and I couldn’t agree more. Layla needs a break about as often as I need a new cup of coffee, so that’s a partnership that works. Plus, she keeps my feet warm. I keep her bed right behind my chair, though she often chooses to lie down under my desk or on the rug at my side. She’s a good companion since she doesn’t say much but is an excellent listener.

“The Poisoner’s Handbook,” American Experience . WGBH | PBS
My high school English teacher sent me a link to this video on Facebook, and it was definitely worth watching. I’ve always loved murder mysteries and true crime, so it was interesting to me to see the development of this end of CSI work.

Vampires: Folklore, fantasy and fact – Michael Molina 


I don’t think I really need to explain why I find this short video sent to me by a friend so fascinating and fun.

Vampire ForensicsVampire Forensics
I bought this book for my Kindle, and I’m really enjoying the details inside. Though I can’t reveal just how (spoilers!), there are definite ways this book will inform some of the things that happen in Book 2. As a reader, I always like knowing that an author has done his/her homework, so I want to be sure I’m following through on that expectation too.

I’ve got a few more books on their way, and I’ll be doing some book reviews once I’m finished reading for those who are interested in vampire lore and history.

History of Magic and Experimental Science
I bought this set of books at the last library book sale. None of them had been read in 30 years or more, but the title alone is fascinating. It’s an encyclopedic study of how superstitions about witchcraft and alchemy developed over the course of several centuries into what we now call the sciences.

These books are far too lengthy for me to read straight through beginning to end, but they are wonderful to dip in and out of. Vampires and other supernatural creatures are discussed throughout history, beginning with the Greek NeoPlatonists. Creepy geeky goodness. There are certainly ways in which I will be using information found here.