Category Archives: Paranormal

In the Absence of Famine #teasertuesday

 

 

In the Absence of Famine

(book 2 of the Four Horsemen series)


Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

“Blood. Spattered here and there with a rather large puddle cooling just a few feet from where they were standing. Oh gods, how did they get to her here?

“Jules,” he started to say, voice already rising into a shot but Aedan dropped a hand to his shoulder, silencing him. The god was tensed, a coil of muscle so powerful and deadly even Leo, who’d grown as used to the god of the hunt as anything mortal ever would, felt it; the creeping terror of being so close to something so powerful and predatory.

“It’s not Jules’ blood.” The words seemed wrenched from Aedan at great cost. As if he’d almost lost the ability for words already. The hunt was calling him in a voice so strong Leo could almost hear it; a sound like desperate panted breath, the thunder of chasing footsteps and the long peel of a distant horn. “The Method took Mitei here but Jules was not taken also.”

Leo swallowed around a lump in his throat, trying to find the necessary moisture to enable speech. “Where is she then? Where is Mitei? Where are they?”

“Follow,” Aedan released his hand from Leo’s shoulder slowly, as if the effort cost him and dearly, pointing towards a trail of red drops on gray stone. “Follow the blood, I’ll find Jules.””

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The Weird Part

https://jenniferlgadd.files.wordpress.com/2015/10/2015-10-27-19-04-30.jpg

I am an introvert, through and through. I think that’s one reason I’m a writer. I’d rather communicate via email, letter, poem, story, or novel over actual personal interaction about 99% of the time. Because, well, PEOPLE. People wear me out. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a shy bone in my body. I am, however, very, very introverted.

What I’m noticing is that I’ve now reached the part of publishing a book where I have to go out and greet people. And talk about the book. And smile. And, oh lordy, these sillies want me to SIGN MY BOOK!. Me! That’s practically an autograph! It’s too much attention. I very much dislike being the center of attention, and it’s uncomfortable for me. I’d as soon the earth open up and just swallow me whole.

I had a lovely little author event last evening at my own personal public library, the West Wyandotte branch of the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Library. I did some of the writing and researching for the book in that library, so when I thought about an author event, that’s where I wanted to go first. They loved the idea, and the YA librarians went out of their way to make it a good event. I had anticipated a schedule that involved a little talk on my part, a reading, and some Q&A, but folks seemed to be trickling in whenever they could make it, rather than showing up right at the start time.

I was okay with this because it meant I could be more the host of an open house event, and it would be more informal. I could spend more face-to-face time with those who had showed up. It was going great with the old friends who had dropped by. We were chatting, about life, about the book, about lots of things. And then it happened. Someone suggested that I do a read-aloud from the book. Even though I had initially been prepped mentally for it, I had already let it go and decided it was all going a different direction. I have no doubt that I had my best deer-in-the-headlights look on for a while. Then I sat down and read a bit.

It was fine, of course, but there was still that part of me that wanted to turn the spotlight OFF. How about I sit in an another room and read into a microphone? Or maybe phone it in? Anything just to get you to STOP LOOKING AT ME. And these were my friends there!

The thing is, a big part of indie and self-publishing is the promotion. Authors have to get out there and publicize themselves because there isn’t a high-powered, well-financed PR department doing it for them. I can get all that without relishing it particularly. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do it without being embarrassed, though.

All in all, I’d just as soon be writing.

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Happy Halloween

On behalf of Distinguished Press, I wanted to say happy Halloween! Am I saying it too early? No, silly. All of October is a celebration of Halloween, or at least it should be!

Here’s a little Halloween poem I wrote for all of you. Enjoy!

 

I saw a spider on the door

As I reached for the knob.

It spun its web, trapped my hand,

And turned it into one pink blob.

 

I ran to the back door,

Only to be greeted by an army of wasps.

They flapped by my shoulder,

Reminding me that nature is boss.

 

I stared at an empty box

Left in my living room.

And then it opened on its own.

The flaps– like a ghostly flower– bloomed.

 

Spiders, wasps, and ghosts in boxes,

All of this is true.

To cleanse myself from evil.

I jumped in the shower with you.

 

Then my lover said, “come to bed.”

So I crept into the sheets.

But a clown’s face greeted me

With teeth as bloody as beets.

 

I screamed when It bit me,

And the spider cast a web.

Then the wasp formed a nest

And the clown in my bed said:

 

“Happy, happy Halloween

I hope you like my friends!

We’ll be here with you

Until the very end!”

 

A smiling jack-o-lantern

Sat on the window sill.

And with blood running from my face,

I knew that I was so very ill.

 

It was Halloween, all right,

Our greatest fears had come to be.

I had spiders, wasps, and clowns

Horror was all I could see.

 

But I laughed as blood soaked the sheets

And told them they were fools.

You’re messing with the wrong man.

I break all of Halloween’s rules.

 

And so I became the horror

That walked down the street,

To torment and freak

All of those who were meek.

 

On this night, our fears came true.

Do you have strength to fight them?

Because on one night, you will see

The evil only you can imagine.

 

Joe Chianakas is the author of Rabbit in Red, the first book in a horror trilogy with Distinguished Press. Get it here.

Be on the lookout also for Ashwood, an upcoming horror release just in time for Halloween by author C.J. Malarsky! Check out her author Facebook page here!

 

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How Pregnancy Changed My Writing

In early March I experienced a very strange moment. My breasts had been hurting for a couple days, and when I mentioned it to a friend her immediate response had been to ask, “Are you pregnant?”

Well, I stared at the computer screen for awhile with this dulled, blank look on my face as the consequences of potentially being pregnant washed over me. There were the sort of concerns and fears most people have about being able to afford having a child, health insurance, and (selfishly) how it would change my life if my life wasn’t about me anymore. Would I even be a good mother? I’m a great mom to fur babies, but a human baby is completely different. I’d be responsible for raising a child who would have to interact with society. No pressure.

I’d never felt so many emotions as we drove to the store to stock up on pregnancy tests. Excitement. Fear. The purest of both that I’ve ever felt. We talked about names, jokingly, because joking is how we both deal with stress. I barricaded myself in the bathroom and drank glass after glass of water, and then I called him to the door. I didn’t say a word as he opened it, but he lit up when he said, “Are we having a baby? Oh my God, we’re having a baby, aren’t we?”

I told him I wanted more cold water. Yes, I survived that moment.

I didn’t call him to the door, however, when my bladder was so full I had almost no choice except to pee on the stick. I instead had a private little meltdown by myself that involved a few tears, lots of smiling, and borderline hyperventilating. I had a freaking tiny human growing in me who was utterly reliant on me. I was pregnant.

Before I became pregnant, it seemed like the half-assed way to add drama to a story. Dare I say…the easy way out? PREGNANT would always illicit an eye roll from me, even when it came from the best authors. Gwen in The Kiss of the Highlander by KMM? Blech. The mention of Xhex possibly being pregnant after being raped by Lash was marginally better, although (SPOILER ALERT) she wasn’t. It was with some (many) reservations that I decided to incorporate pregnancy into one of my upcoming novels. I loathe to be a  hypocrite, but was convinced that the end justified the means when it came to moving the development of the character forward. My understanding of pregnancy itself had been shallow and superficial. I greatly underestimated the experience. Perhaps that’s part of why it’s been sitting on my shelf, untouched, while people clamor for this sequel.

I’ve met a version of myself I never knew existed. One who swings through phases of eating all-organic and dotes on onesies before catapulting to the nearest Cinnabon, and laments her misery over a caramel pecanbon to whoever will listen. I’ve become multifaceted to the point of almost multiple personalities. My pregnancy hasn’t been terrible, although neither has it been smooth. My normally dormant Tietze Syndrome has become the bane of my existence and I endure pain 24/7, and my IBD is at war with most of my pregnancy cravings. Being pregnant had never been a viable “excuse” before in regard to how people acted. Now I’m riding a roller coaster where censoring myself into staying well-behaved is…hard. Just today, as I sat trying on my first ever pair of Crocs, some kids walked by and shouted into the store at me. It took almost more self-control than I could muster to not go running after them and berate them. I’m six months pregnant, my feet hurt, and you think it’s smart to mock me trying on Crocs? I’ll show you, you little whippersnappers! In fact, the only thing I think stopping me was the fact that my feet hurt too much to chase after them.

The Red Wedding in Game of Thrones is my worst nightmare. In my head I’m already reacting to situations with the sole interests of protecting the unborn young who is brutally hiccuping and kicking me when I’m trying to sleep. A car accident is my most immediate concern, and it’s constantly on my mind. I’d like to say I’m driving like a grandma, except I think we all know old folk are rather…reckless when they’re on the road. My own grandmother could drive blocker for a truck of illegal Coors. I was reading a book a week ago where the female MC learned she was pregnant, and didn’t tell the father on the basis that his previous (and likewise pregnant) fiancee had been shot dead by the mob. Before pregnancy I would’ve just rolled my eyes until they spun right out of my head. How cliche, how ridiculous. But now? It hit me right in the fucking feels. While I might not be pregnant with the spawn of a mobster (I try to take what blessings I find), I could understand. Or, perhaps a better way to phrase it, I finally understood.

I still intend for my character to be pregnant. I intend it more than ever now because instead of thinking it will change her a certain way, I know for a fact it will. And it will make my story fantastic.

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The Long Road to Publication

Cat Moon Final CoverThere are a couple of things that I don’t talk about much when I discuss my upcoming book Cat Moon, Book One of The Were-Children series. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to trot out my lack of success as an author. Maybe I don’t really want to admit that I turned 55 years old this past month. I’m not sure. So here I go. True confessions.

The first is that I wrote it ten years ago. Ten years. An entire decade. My daughters were 11 and 17, just children, and now they are grown women living their own successful adult lives.I was teaching at a different school in a different district. The students who were sitting in my classroom then are grown and having their own children, some of whom are approaching school age themselves. I probably owe them an apology for having assigned so much Silent Sustained Reading so I could scribble furiously on a yellow legal pad by longhand. They know me better, though, than to think I will ever apologize for giving them time to read. But if they ever wondered what I was doing while they were reading, this was it. I was writing this book. It was a long, long time ago.

The second is, I think, connected to the first. Author Stephen King once said he got “dozens” of rejection slips for his first published novel Carrie. I don’t know how many that actually is, but I do know that Mr. King has nothing on me. I have kept all of those rejection slips in a folder, even printing out the many that came via email. Some are from agents; others are from the few publishers who consider un-agented work. I’m pretty sure I could wallpaper my bathroom with them. That, of course, doesn’t count the ones for which I got no response whatsoever. Any author who has queried a novel will tell you that it is absolutely soul-crushing. Oh, most them are so sweetly polite they set your teeth on edge, and they tell you that your work is probably quite good. It’s just not right for them. They let you down easy like that, but inside, you know. You know they thought your manuscript was stinking up their office and that you better not be quitting your day job. You know.

Then came the magical moment when I got a phone call from a reader at a publisher I will not name. (I will, however, tell you that this same publisher’s predecessor company was the original publisher of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, a fact which absolutely delighted me.) The reader loved it and was passing it on to an editor. A few months later, she called back and said that editor was going to pass it on to another editor she thought better suited for it. A few more months passed, and yes, I got another rejection slip. She said it had some good points, but she just didn’t have the time for the work it would take to make it publication-ready. In other words, my manuscript was stinking up her office. I did not quit my day job.

You know what, though? A few more years went by, and the industry started changing. I toyed with the idea of self-publishing, but it was so overwhelming to consider, I just never did much that direction. Technology also changed, and that I felt I had a better handle on. So at the end of 2014, I participated in one of the literary pitch events on Twitter. Distinguished Press “starred” my short pitch, requesting that I query. I queried, fully expecting another rejection slip. This time, though, that didn’t happen. They accepted the manuscript. They love the story. They believe in me as a writer.

Here we are, just a few days after release. Shortly after release, my book–MY book–was in the Amazon Top 100 for three separate categories. For a brief, shining moment, I had higher book sales than the legendary C. S. Lewis. Unprecedented! Many, many thanks to Catrina for taking a chance on my work, to Karyn for the edits, to Vanessa for the gorgeous cover of my dreams, and to Kristina for getting the word out to folks that the book is there to be read. Now I just need to get cracking on the rewrites for the second book!

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Writing and the internet, a marriage made in heaven

Greetings all,

It’s what passes for summer here (I won’t get much into it, I’ll just say the average temperature for the month of  July here is 11C that’s just 52F!) and time for another monthly post. I’ve been slowly working on book 4 of my Newfoundland Vampire series (as book 3 won’t be out until sometime in 2016 I’m certainly not in a rush) and I was thinking how wonderful a tool the internet is for a writer.

I’m a slow reader and I can remember the days when doing research meant going to the library (or in high school digging through my parents encyclopedias/National Geographic magazines) and spending time first searching for a book that might be related to the topic, getting the book, the trying to quickly determine if it was any good for your research before too much time was wasted. It was a treasure hunt and I know for untold hours I would look through journals, textbooks, newspapers, microfilm or even taking the step of ordering the book from the library and waiting for it to come  in.  Sure I got better at it, more efficient and I certainly had help from other students and asked librarians often. Don’t get me wrong I love libraries and enjoyed 90% or more of the time I spent there but still I was thrilled when I did my masters so much material was available on the internet. At that point I had an office (well I shared it with other students but eventually it was just me) and reading stuff on my laptop was just so much easier and convenient but I’m starting to stray.

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When I started to write my first novel “The Newfoundland Vampire” (what, you didn’t think I’d put in a plug?), available now with Distinguished Press, I wanted a main character that was based on a real person from history. Catherine Mandeville Snow was the last woman hanged in Newfoundland in 1834 and seemed like a figure I could really work with. My idea was to get someone from Newfoundland who had a significant/unusual death and she popped up. If I had wrote this book 20 years ago who knows how many hours just discovering that fact may have taken me. In seconds I read a brief bio of Catherine’s life and after a few minutes discovered there was a local author who had written a book on her, I sent him an e-mail and he agreed to meet with me (I did have to leave the house to do that of course).

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To be clear  I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with going to the library and doing research, it’s a great thing if you live nearby and have the time but I find the older I get the more time becomes precious to me. I’m also aware that it is certainly possible to find information on the internet that is exaggerated/half-true or complete lies. Just as you would with a book you check your sources and see if the same info can be found from various sources. It would slow my writing down tremendously if I decided to read a book on a subject I didn’t know about and makes you admire authors like J.R.R. Tolkien or Bram Stoker for the incredible amount of time and effort they put into researching a story. Fortunately for writers past and present (to be precise a those with a publisher) you also have the invaluable tool of your editor to double-check your facts. Ultimately if you’re writing fiction and changing characters (my Catherine is quite different from the real one in many ways) you don’t need to get everything 100% accurate and wouldn’t want to but still do your best.

I’ll finish with another example. This week I was writing a chapter set in New Orleans during Mardi Gras. I have not been to Mardi Gras and so I did a Google image search (if you’re a very young author make sure you have safe search on!) and within a seconds I had dozens of great pictures. I did a little more checking on interesting bars on Bourbon Street, thought about the chapter and I was ready to start. While most of the images have nudity, here is one I can share.

epa03580945 (left to right) A Christian Street preachers yells at a group hanging outside of a bar whiledrag queen Charles Loraine Wendell yells back on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter during Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, 12 February, 2013.  Fat Tuesday is the final day of Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.  EPA/DAN ANDERSON

How great is that? One extreme to the other right in this picture and it’s real. I could right several pages on what these two could say to each other but for me it was just a nice tidbit of what happens at Mardi Gras (besides the obvious beads/drinking/flashing everyone knows about). If Google didn’t exist I never would have thought to write about these two guys and my scene would have been lacking something.

So what do you think? Is the internet a great tool for writers? Should we instead spend untold hours in libraries and more time becoming experts on topics/history? Is there some combination/happy medium I’m missing out on? I’d love to see your thoughts, until next month everyone!

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A CONventional Experience, Part 2

Happy Monday all,

It was a long weekend for me (Victoria Day, or as we call it 24th of May) so I’m happy to have a shorter work week and am feeling fairly rested but onto the post! Last month I told you all about my experience attending conventions, this month will be my experience being a guest/vendor/author at conventions over the years.

SciFiontheRock

My first time as a guest at a convention was at Sci-Fi on the Rock about 6 years ago. Back then I wasn’t an author but I was a huge geek and developed an interest in Klingons, more particularly how to speak Klingon. In high school I used to be really shy, while I had no problem speaking in front of a class (I knew all them after all), giving a talk in front of strangers terrified me. It took a whole degree and diploma at university and my girlfriend (who is now my wife) to finally get me out of my shell. Talking in front of a crowd still makes me nervous and have to rehearse for at least a week ahead of time. Being a teacher for a few years helped me a lot in this regard (I also have a Masters in Education) and I have observed plenty of other speeches by friends, strangers and acquaintances at conventions. I also got involved with this fan made Star Trek show called Star Trek Reliant, a friend of mine asked me to be in an episode and speak some Klingon. I did so and enjoyed it, I was in a few more episodes but eventually didn’t want to give up my Sunday’s, especially in the summer. It did lead me into an idea about turning my lines into a panel on how to speak basic Klingon.

After my Star Trek Reliant time ended I gave a little talk on how to speak basic Klingon phrases, it was fun and it got me into the convention for free. I changed my talk over the years and eventually included some audio clips and handouts. For those who don’t know me I am a lifelong Star Trek fan, I was president of a Star Trek society in University and even have a Star Trek tattoo, so it was a natural step for me. After doing this speech for a while (and having the experience of people walk out of my talk, always annoying) I got tired of it and moved onto my writing talk, “Adventures with Vampires and Publishing”.

The first year  I was a vendor/artist at SFOTR I was very excited and happy. It was April of 2012 and my first book “The Newfoundland Vampire” had just been released and I had my first chance to interact with the public as an author. I gave out candy to get people at my table (I still do that now), had a gift basket (people could put their names down for free) and some bookmarks to hand out along with many copies of my book. I think I sold about 36 copies over the whole weekend and while I was happy with sales, I immediately learned a few things. I wasn’t charging enough for books (they cost me about $10 and I was selling them for $10!) and there was no good trying to push for a sale.

FirstSFOTRTableLowerSizer

The following year book two hadn’t been released by I expanded my table with Magic cards and comic books for sale (and upped my prices). During that second year I had some wonderful experiences, people who had read my book came up to me to talk about it. Some young women asked me to sign them and even wanted a picture taken with me! My ego was through the roof and I had a great time, I don’t remember my exact sales, at this point I started to see that being an author wasn’t about the money but the memories and the people. I gave my talk again (changing the name to “Writing, vampires, and publishing oh my!”) and gave a sneak peek of book two (which came out in September of 2013, also from Penumbra Publishing).

SciFiOnTheRock7Me

You can see my table in the above picture. Being at a convention where you have a table does have its downsides though, I don’t get to see most of the guest, or go to any panels (besides my own). While Friday and Saturday are usually the busy days, by Sunday you can be sitting around for hours with no one coming to your table. I’ve also seen that any time you give something out for free there are always people who take advantage. As it’s just me (aside from family and friends who occasionally stop by), you have to get to know the people around you so you can leave your table for bathroom/food/water breaks. Since then I’m not with Distinguished Press (and I couldn’t be happier! They’re a great bunch of people) and for the sake of length you can read about my latest convention experience here.

Moving on another thing I really enjoyed was being invited to conventions in other places. First it was Atlanti-Con in Corner Brook (about 6 hours from where I live). The main guy, Jeff, knew me from Sci-fi on the Rock and invited me to come to his convention. This meant a free table and a great opportunity to promote my book and meet some new geeky people.

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Sadly I couldn’t find a picture from that first year but the above gives you an idea. My book sold well the first two years (and I already knew some people who travel from St. John’s to Corner Brook as I do) and by year three my sales of comic books made up for declining book sales (I know places to get them cheap and had a large collection up to a few years ago). I also had the unique experience of doing a panel with another author (to increase attendance for both of us). I really, enjoyed that as it took pressure off me and let me have some fun with the other author (whom I’ve known for many years). Corner Brook is on the west coast of Newfoundland and has some amazing scenery here’s some of my favorite pics from nearby Gros Morne.

DSC01844 GrosMorneSmallSunset GrosMorneSmallRiver

Yes in case you’re wondering the above is a moose, they are featured in my books (for reasons you’ll have to read to find out!), the others are several places around Gros Morne, a wonderful place to visit if you ever get a chance. As if being at a convention isn’t enough fun I found that as I drove people there (I believe in carpooling) I would get to know them and even hung out with one women during the convention (Jana, who is really nice and helped me do my book reading later in 2013). I went to a party at a bar where vendors,guests and organizers at Altanti-Con went and I have a wonderful time chatting with one of the actors. I was lucky enough to be staying in the same hotel as the guest and got a chance to have breakfast with one and drinks with another on other nights. The person I’ve really had a chance to connect with at Altanti-Con though is the always hilarious (and really nice) Fat Apollo. Who is he you may be wondering? You’ll have to check on the link to find out. Moving on (I’m nearing the end, promise!)

Everything to (what I thought) a climax in November of 2013, as I was an invited guest to a convention outside the province, in particular Nova Scotia and the city of Halifax. Hal-Con is a much larger convention that Sci-Fi on the Rock or Atlanti-con (I’d say actually bigger than both combined). For first convention my wife came with me and she also experienced the madness of that con. I’m not going to dwell on it but this was probably the worst convention I attended, they didn’t have a author badge for me, a table and it took several people to even find me on the list! Once I was set up I discovered almost no one wanted to buy a book from me and due to a mistake with tickets the fire marshal and even the police had to show up to stop too many people from coming on Saturday. (They sold tickets as any day, not expecting almost everyone to try and come on Saturday). I look on the bright side of things though and I did have some wonderful talks with the other vendors around me and I won some money at a casino nearby.

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As you can see there were some amazing costumes and I always enjoy seeing those. I did also sell some of my more valuable comics (worth $50 each) and get to spend some time in Halifax (which is a cool city with some great restaurants and lovely hotels). I did also get to give my talk with the highest number of attendees (some of them asked some excellent questions that I had to work on for the following year) and had people buy my books right on the spot (which is always a feel good moment).

In the end I’m not sure what I enjoy more, attending conventions or being a guest. I certainly get to see and do more just attending, meet people I’ve admired for years, attend great panels but I don’t get the interaction with people and of course only spend money, not make any. They are both rewarding experiences and I’m certainly looking forward to another two conventions this year. Until next month everyone!

 

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Judge a book by it’s cover

Hi again all,

I’ve had a fair amount of experience with book covers. Two different companies and a bunch of artists/cover designers. I don’t want to hurt people’s feelings and I don’t believe in spreading negativity, so for that reasons some names will be left out. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words and in this case I think the covers can speak for themselves.

NewfoundlandVampire-coverFRONT700.jpg Here’s the cover for the first book (published in 2012 by Penumbra Publishing). There are parts of it I’m happy with (the blood red sunset, the water, Cassandra and the obvious vampire traits.) I’m not much pleased with Joseph or what he’s wearing. Newfoundland is an island so the water is fine (and some important scenes do take place on a rocky beach). After hearing lots of comments on it (and people who said it was terrible) I came to see that it gives an impression. It often makes people think of a romance novel (and a cheesy one) and all the things that go along with it. While there is romance present in the story, I don’t like people to get the wrong idea and not take my work seriously. Let’s move on to the cover for book 2.

 

 

 

NewfoundlandVampire2-coverFRONT  This time I took a much different approach, I paid a guy to make a cover for me (and I don’t mind saying it cost almost $300). He did many versions of this (at least 30) until the cover had to be sent it or the publishing would have been delayed. This came out in September of 2013, also by Penumbra Publishing. I’ll just call the designer Alex, he was agreeable and made many changes as I asked him to and tried lots of different things. He thought I should pick out a scene from the book that was important and created a creepy atmosphere (I picked an abandoned amusement park in New Orleans). I found some real pictures of it from a website (there was no one I could ask permission from) and he incorporated them to my satisfaction. What didn’t occur to me at the time was that the title “Killer on the Road” has nothing do with the cover. I also never thought about how much is going on, looking back I can see it looks jumbled. I do like the eyes above and I thought Cassandra looked even better than book 1 (these are both real people after all). I thought he did her fangs and the blood well, I liked Joseph face hidden almost completely in shadow. I also thought the splashes of blood were cool. The moon above was a nice touch a subtle nod to time passing (as book 1 was a sunset). Still though I wanted something different, which brings us to an attempt I made getting a cover done for book 3.

 

NFLVthumbnail  Here’s the rough draft I got for what could have been the cover to book 3 (tentatively called) “The Gathering Dark.” This time I wanted to try hiring an artist to do something with no stock images and nothing computerized (aside from scanning and minor alterations of course). I’ve been told this looks terrible and while I think it needs work, it has potential. He incorporated what I wanted, each character ready to fight at an airport (St. John’s in particular) in the background, the moon large in the sky (and it would have been blood red), and different characters reflected in each sword. Casandra’s hair is different and their looks are meant to convey that events have taken a dark turn in the story. The artist was a nice guy but ultimately he just said he was too busy to go any further (he never asked for any money in advance.) At this point I decided to leave Penumbra Publishing so this brings us full circle for a look at the new cover for book 1.

NLVampireDPCoverRough Vanessa (Armada West) has been working diligently on a new cover for me now that I’m with Distinguished Press (and I love it here by the way, everyone is great!) What you see here is just a rough mock-up but I like the direction it’s going. Once again I wanted a red sunset and this time I choose a university building (it was a dorm in the book) as the backdrop (several important scenes happen on campus). Cassandra looks great (no vampire traits here) and Joseph is fine but I’m looking for a better model to choose from. This is a return to photo stock images but it’s not costing me $300 and Vanessa has been very accommodating. I’ll be sure to share a more finished version of the cover when it is ready. I still may one day pay an artist for something really different but not for the re-issue of book 1 or 2. Oh I should say book 1 will be out April24th and book 2 will be July 24th (of 2015) and of course from the fine folks at Distinguished Press.

 

 

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Here’s another version of the cover for book 1, this time I choose a different male model, I like him better as he looks more like me (and a regular guy). You’ll notice Cassandra also has fangs and some blood about her lips. It’s an ongoing process but I’m excited for the final version.

So what do you all think? They say don’t judge a book by it’s cover but I think most people do. You can’t help it, a cover is your best form of advertising for anyone browsing in a store or on a website (or app). Talk to you all next month!

 

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My writing journey so far

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

I hope everyone had a great Xmas and holiday season. Mine was nice, quiet with a small family but that’s fine with me. Like most people I ate and drank too much and now cutting back but enough about such boring trivia. Today I thought I’d briefly get into my journey as a writer and how I got here.

I’ve always loved stories, when I was young that made me an avid reader of Archie comics, then all the superheros (and some anime) and then novels of primarily the sci-fi/horror/fantasy genres (and yes I still read comics today, just not as many monthly titles). When I was around 13 I started doing short-stories, I don’t have any of them now but I’m sure they were all terrible but none the less the seed was planted.

In high school I wrote poetry from the school newspaper (again probably lousy stuff but it felt good to do it at the time). I also kept a journal for many years (that I wish I still had but sadly it’s lost to the ravages of time). I was not at happy teenager and my poems were pretty sad. I hope geeky kids have an easier time in school now as I know I sure didn’t.

Time moved on and I found myself writing music and movie reviews for the Memorial University student paper The Muse. I have always loved music (and movies) and the chance to get to see/hear them for free was fun (though most of my reviews never got published). I liked the fact how movie reviews for the paper meant I got to take someone with me to a movie (though the only time I took someone the movie was terrible. If you never saw “Vampire in Brooklyn” count yourself as lucky!).

I finished at Memorial and writing took a back seat, sort of. I always had the need to express myself in a creative manner. Fortunately for me I had Dungeons and Dragons. Role-playing is a wonderful way to exercise your imagination and for me being the Dungeon Master (basically you create a world and control how the story goes, to a point) was enough writing for a long time. My wife (who is not into D&D) said if you’re of the female persuasion (or just want a good laugh) you should watch this video.

Like lots of people who enjoy literature (I did a BA in English at Memorial) I tried to write several times. I attempted a Star Trek book, then a Star Wars, the a vampire one. All three (ok technically two) never amount to more than a few chapters. A book just seemed to big, too daunting.

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I started my vampire tale back in 2002 but it got put aside. Then some 8 years later I found myself at a very boring job, my mind wandered all the time and I began to think of that book I started. I had kept the file and going back to it I found that I still liked the idea of a vampire based on myself. It was a chance to explore fantasies I knew would never come true and it was a way to imagine how my life could have turned out differently if I had made other choices (and if vampires were real). After 4 months I had a rough draft and then began the process of submitting it. I learned some hard lessons (like the first 3-4 drafts are always terrible) but after about 9 months of editing and submitting my perseverance paid off, I had found a publisher (Penumbra Publishing).

Things went well there for a while. My first book did okay (was released in April 2012) and I soon completed book II “Killer on the Road” and it came on in September of 2013. About a year later is when things took a wrong turn. My sales were shabby and no matter what I did I couldn’t improve them (I spend a lot on promotion, getting a website, getting a cover done and other things) and my profit was very small. I eventually became dissatisfied with my Penumbra, I won’t get into all the details as I don’t like to say negative things about a person. My old editor was honest with me and had taught me a a lot about writing, editing and being an author but I knew by October of 2014 that it was time to move on. It was slightly ironic that the day I told Pat I was done with Penumbra my first short story “Robots” was published by them. I am proud of that story and I hope to see it re-released as part of a collection someday. I’ve written some other short stories the past few years and I’d love to have them published someday too.

So this bring me to my new home Distinguished Press. Through Twitter I got to know the friendly, helpful (and talented) Karyn Pearson. She mentioned my work to Jen Leigh and in early November of last year I signed a contract with DP (there is some truth in the saying it’s not what you know but who you know). I am thrilled to be with DP, everyone has been really friendly. There are lots of interaction with authors (it’s one big happy family!), lots of promotional activities we help each other out on and Catrina has lots of great ideas for the future.

I was happy to go back and look at the first book in “The Newfoundland Vampire“. Jen pointed out some things that I hadn’t considered and that will make it a better book (and I’m sure she has other notes for me as well). As writers can attest your characters become your friends and going back to visit them is always great, it’s like re-watching a movie you love or a TV show, just on a much more personal level. Book I will be re-issued on March 27th and book II “Killer on the Road” sometime later this year. That leaves book III (tentatively titled “The Gathering Dark) and hopefully book IV (need to started writing it!) for 2016.

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Well this turned into a lengthy post. I’ll leave you with a question, what has been your writing journey? Inquiring minds want to know! 😉

 

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Diaper Parties and books, what will they think of next?

Greetings and salutations all,

This is my first post at the IWAssociation and as a proud member of the Distinguished Press author family. They have been wonderful so far, very welcoming and fun to talk with. I’ve got a great new editor (and owner) and have already made some new friends. Enough about DP though onto my post.

About a month ago I went to a diaper party, what a diaper party some of you may be asking? (I know what it is because I’ve been to a bunch) Let’s see what the good old interwebs has to say:

“This is the male equivalent to a baby shower. When the mother of the child has a baby shower, the father of the child has a Diaper Party, at which his buddies (usually the significant others of the women attending the baby shower) bring cases of diapers and beer.

Hey man, is your Diaper Party the same day as the baby shower?”

women-history-month-sports-no-interest   The above is from urbandictionary.com and it sums it up. It’s the male version of  baby shower, here’s the problem I’ve had, all my friends are geeks. As such I’ve  never had a very good time at any of them. Yes I know what you’re thinking, maybe that’s more my fault than theirs but let me give you an example of how they can get weird from a brief recount of the one I went to last month. So a friend of my brother’s (and I guess a casual friend of mine) who we’ll call Bill invited me to his party. I brought diapers but no beer (I had been at a party the night before and was more than a little hungover) and it wasn’t a BBQ. You know how you have friends that you only see once, twice or maybe three times a year? Bill is that kind of friend for me. So I went and as expected the hockey game was on (Bill’s a geek but a lot of people he invited aren’t). I have zero interest in sports, at least watching, I’ve haven’t followed a team since high school and couldn’t care less about the Olympics or any playoff/championship game. There was food but of course I’m a vegetarian (no one else there was) so about 90% was not what I would eat. To make this party even more strange is the fact that his parents are there (he doesn’t live at home but this is where the party was held) and they invited all these people in their 50-60s who are all bikers. I knew maybe 6 people there out of 30. All this adds up to a rather boring time for me, at least for the first few hours.

(I couldn’t find a picture of a guy who didn’t like sports but it’s okay, I’m a lot cuter than her 😉 So as I’ve noticed during parties after a while when the early birds leave (or in this case they really out of place biker people trying to social with people 30 years younger than them) break into smaller groups where people chat more. This one guy came in the room and started talking about TV shows (in particular Game of Thrones, which is amazing by the way!) books and movies. Naturally my geek antenna went up and once I had my chance I worked my way into the conversation. We had a nice chat about geeky stuff (there’s a ton of comic books movies these days and lots of good TV). Bill felt his social duties to mix with the rest of party ended and he came in too (I quite like Bill if you’re wondering, I’m just not a family man and I find you naturally spend time with childless couples rather than those with them). Eventually we started talk about books and in particular horror ones (which I am something of an expert on).

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We both agreed that “The Dark Tower” (by Steve King of course, if you didn’t know that you may be on the wrong website!) starts off wonderful but eventually turns to almost unreadable garbage (King basically admits that he pumped out the last two books because he thought he was going to die after a bad accident). And no I haven’t read the latest one (which actually takes place earlier in the series) and yes the comics are generally top notch so I don’t condemn everything with “Dark Tower” on it. I finally found a chance to start talking about my books (“The Newfoundland Vampire” books 1 and 2) and I handed out a bookmark (now double sided!). I don’t know if he’ll buy a copy (I don’t remember his name, I’m terrible with them) but I think I made a good impression. (You know I was going to work a plug in here somewhere!) I always like to hear people’s perspective on vampire books/movies/TV shows in particular as I’m in the editing process for the re-issue of book 1 at my new publishing home Distinguished Press and this should hopefully be available right sometime in July of 2015.

So if you’re at a crappy party by advice would be drink more (if you’re of age and get a ride home of course) or just stick it out and wait for the people you want to chat with. As for diaper parties…they’re not going away here in Newfoundland and at least I can buy the biodegradable ones, plus I find there’s always a few geeks everywhere I go.

Have you been to a diaper party? What did you think of it? Until next time everyone!

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