Friday, October 28, 2016

Book Review - Harables by Haidji

I rarely read poetry or short stories these days, but I've been meaning to read Harables - a collection of interesting and honest short stories by Haidji - for quite some time. The book was free to download via Kindle Unlimited, which is always nice, and I tore through it in only a few days.

Each story contains meaningful and powerful messages, the central themes being: to not let go of our childish wonder, to be our true selves, and to always look for the good in our selves no matter what. 

Her writing is incredibly vivid, and in many of the stories I was completely swept into the moment, and then left pondering the meaning of each story and how it related to my personal experiences.

Overall, Haidji's stories are unique, peculiar, interesting, alluring, and like nothing I’ve ever read before. Is it worth a read? Definitely! I'm looking forward to reading some of her other books now, especially SG- Suicide Game.


Haidji actually just released a review of my latest book, The Nightmare Birds, today, so I thought I'd share a snippet of it:
"With a fast speed, this book is a mixture of fantasy, mystery and --could I say-- thriller? It is like being in a race where you aren't sure where the finish line is and don't know exactly who is racing with you or against you."
I'm so thrilled that such a talented author said this about my book! You can read her full review HERE.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Five Books You Need to Read for Halloween

Looking for some spooky stories? You’ve come to the right place. :) I recently shared my horror movie recommendations, and this week I’m sharing my favorite scary books. Before you start reading, here's what you need:
  • A nightlight
  • Funny show or movie queued up on Netflix to watch after 
  • A good cup of tea (preferably chamomile) to help you sleep
Here we go…

In a Glass Darkly: I don’t know how this one slipped my radar for so many years, especially since it’s considered a classic, but now that I’ve picked it up, I can’t put it down! Although a bit slow at first, this book has developed into an extraordinarily creepy tale about a metaphysical doctor’s experiences with the supernatural. Each story creates an atmosphere of mystery and dare I say anxiety. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that I’ll never look at a monkey the same way again. This is easily one of my favorite books of all time. This quote pretty much sums up what to expect:
“My memory rejects the picture with incredulity and horror. Yet I know it is true. It is the story of the process of a poison, a poison which excited the reciprocal action of spirit and nerve, and paralyses the tissue that separates those cognate functions of the senses, the external and the interior. Thus we find strange bedfellows, and the mortal and immortal prematurely makes acquaintance.”

Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children: I read this book before it became a sensation (and a movie). It’s an interesting concept and I love the creepy vintage photographs that accompany the story. The one with those twins in the white outfits on the back cover takes the cake for the scariest picture. For a brief time, I started collecting creepy Victorian pics too, but they freaked me out so much I had to get rid of them. Although I didn’t really care for the ending, it’s still worth a read if you’re looking for spine-tingling fantasy.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone: This was a random buy, primarily chosen for its beautiful cover. The description about a devil’s shop of human teeth was equally as intriguing. This story is incredibly imaginative and descriptive, although at times, so descriptive that I felt a bit nauseous.

M.R. James Collected Ghost Stories: Considered to be the most terrifying writer in English, his classic supernatural tales draw on the terrors of the everyday, in which objects unleash terrible forces. Muhahaha.

H.P. Lovecraft’s Book of Horror: I know what you’re thinking. She’s recommending another thing of H.P. Lovecraft. Yes and no. This books is actually a collection of works that inspired Lovecraft. There are stories by Charles Dickens, Robert Luis Stevenson, and Edgar Allen Poe to name a few. I chose to include this book because it's an excellent collection of the masters of horror.

Have a scary book you're reading at the moment? Give me a shout below. I love recommendations. :)

Friday, October 21, 2016

Cybils Award Nominee and Featured Guest

Happy Friday! I'm so pleased to share two pieces of exciting news today:

The first... 

The Nightmare Birds is a 2016 Cybils Award Nominee in the Young Adult Speculative Fiction category.

This is my face right about now.

This is so incredibly exciting and I greatly appreciate those who nominated my book!

Winners aren't announced until next year, but I'll be keeping close tabs on this and will definitely be posting updates.

This brings me to my next piece of news. Angela B. Chrysler, author of Broken, has graciously posted a special feature of The Nightmare Birds on her site, which includes an excerpt of the first chapter. So, if you haven't read it yet, please check it out! Coincidentally, I'm running a Kindle Countdown Deal for both Strange Luck and The Nightmare Birds, which starts today, so both books will be only 0.99 cents for the next couple of days.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

This Old Dog's New Tricks - Guest Post by Joe Compton

The first thing I think about when I hear the name Joe Compton is GoIndieNow - an online platform that highlights, fosters, and supports Indie Artists of all art forms. A few months ago, I had the privilege to participate in a GoIndieNow author panel discussion called Women in Publishing/Exhibiting Strong Leadership. Not only was it a blast, I met some really talented authors, including Joe (who's a fellow metal head by the way :)) Since then, GoIndieNow has added a bunch of really cool new features and hosted more awesome panels. Joe is an incredibly talented and dedicated individual whom has graciously agreed to write a post today about the importance of having an online video presence as an author.

Take it away, Joe...

This Old Dog's New Tricks

How do we market ourselves at a pace that keeps up with the world’s rapid growth and advancements? Are we holding on to tightly too tried and true methods that prevent our actual growth?

Let’s face it, virtually gone are the days wherein authors and artists use mailers and press releases. Even book festivals and writer’s conferences that were once the only quick fire way to have direct contact with industry folks and readers have dwindled in not only attendance but hierarchy. One of the more prominent reasons is the average median age of someone publishing their first novel is between 36-38.

I bring up the age thing because at 36 you are more likely to have a steady job and a family with responsibilities that are not just financial but time consuming. Which makes conferences and festivals logistical nightmares, as most of them fall on a weekend or take place over the course of several days and are very expensive (even if you find one local to you).

Age also slows you down or make your priorities shift. No matter how you might view that statement, it’s fact. You can’t do what you did at 24 or care about what you cared about at that age. That usually equates to missing the best part of the conference or at least the most productive part, the networking events.

Even if you curtail your intake or don’t drink at all, you most likely will be mainlining coffee for 6 hours to keep your eyes open for the next day’s conference lectures, panels, and group exercises. Even if you go to the networking events but leave early you just might miss out on that one or two agents or publishers because they went up to their room or sat in the lobby doing business on a call or on their laptop, and couldn’t get down to the fun till well after your bedtime.

Now if you are 21-30, you might be more apt or in a better place to do these conferences but then again if you are the only one at the bar or in your age range, then it becomes that measuring stick of is it really worth for you as well.

Sure all this doesn’t mean conferences are useless. There is still a lot of great knowledge to glean and opportunities to pitch yourself to established professionals that can help you. It’s all a matter of what it means for you to be there.

Book festivals are an even more harsh reality. As most will tell you, the goal is to sell but in reality the goal quickly becomes to get as many names for your mailing lists or hand out as many rack cards/bookmarks as you can. Half way through the day you start to realize that breaking even on sales would be almost a victory.

Now, again, there are some festivals that are better than others. Sometimes it’s just perspective as they are better for the person next to you or across from you for whatever reason. There are even some unconventional conventions (i.e swap meets, craft fairs, comic cons, etc.) where you fall into a groove and just sell your ass off. Truth of the matter is though, those happen only in 1 out of every 4 and they almost never repeat themselves the next year.

So with these 2 very prominent ideals being on the tail end of their lifespan and almost being shoved into the publishing hospice to be left for dead, what’s an author, especially an indie author to do?

Well social media is redefining itself and its effectiveness everyday for sure. Even that has uneasy and unsettling results though. One month Facebook parties are the best. The next they are stale, and that depends on who you ask. Some look at it like those happy hours that were such a huge part of the physical conference ideal. Some think it’s just seeing the same 6 facebook postings over and over, to the same audience as the last 1 or 5. One month Twitter is the best. Then Instagram kicks Twitter right between the .jpegs. Then there is the cool kids hangs like Pinterest, Hootsuite, or LinkedIn. Interesting to explore, no doubt, but for some hard to understand the appeal and for others it morphs into something else. Then there are the out of touch, who still look to MYSQL/Proboards’ Message boards, GoodReads, and even have the nostalgic love for MySpace.

I have no doubt that some will defend their personal favorite(s) to the death. We certainly lock on to what works and fight for their relevance. Yet the merits are debatable at best but still essential.

Right now though we all can agree that audiences are quick and need to be fed within an arm’s length of them passing you by and that they never or rarely look back. So if you miss them, there is no getting them back or going after them because if you go after them, the next wave comes by you as well. Before this becomes a generational divide argument (which it’s not in my mind) and for as much as we might want to blame or play “the millennials don’t have the attention span and have driven patience away” game, it isn’t just them. All of our lives are faster and we only have so much time in a day, let alone a week, a month, and a year. That means you have to hook and connect them almost before they get to you instead of by you.

Hmm, I wonder where this principle came from? Sounds super familiar doesn’t it?

Yes book festivals and writer’s conferences do hold a merit after all. If nothing else, for the relevance of the audience not being much different. If you sit at your table at a festival, looking disinterested, scared, or downright bored, nobody will stop; not even for a second. You have to get up, engage, and sometimes drag them, even if they are kicking and screaming, to your table. You have to hone your pitch and have answers to questions you never thought of until you went to a festival or pitched to an agent or publisher at a conference. At the very least you have to know your source material so well, like it was your child. So with those principles being what an audience is, and if they are no longer at these festivals or conferences, where then? Where did our audience go? You see it’s not generational, it’s just a different way audiences go looking now.

I give you YouTube, Vimeo, and DailyMotion. Yes, video platforms. You can throw Skype, Facebook live, Snapchat, Vine, Periscope, and Zoom in there for an even more measured two prong approach to this type of marketing.

Why? Why this method?


Let me repeat that..YOU STILL HAVE TO BE SEEN!

While they may not be leaving their living rooms or workplaces, they are Hunkered down on some computer, somewhere. So you being seen makes the connection and makes the metaphysical actually feel physical again. What I mean by that is we are actually conversing in real time and looking at each other. The trick is to turn your conversation to your source material and your expertise.

Honestly here’s the great thing about doing this and doing this right don’t even need to have the best camera, know the best editing methods, be tricky, and/or be so technical that your resolution and pixelation have become resolute and in HD. Just make sure people can hear you and see you. Even seeing you, is not always necessary, as some people use these videos as background and listen more than they watch.

I mean the curve of forgiveness as far as quality goes, right now, is medium to high. Especially right now because not many are doing it perfectly. So it’s just as cool to be out there with it. Eventually you will just get better, you will find what works for you and your audience, and even more so start to get into the technical aspects. Which of course might just benefit you, as those tedious things become important and help you separate yourself from everyone else.

I know, one more thing to stress about but I am telling right now if you aren’t out there with a youtube channel or at very least participating in others endeavors to be out there, you will be left behind and wondering why you are one of the first 2 at the happy hour at the hotel bar at the 22nd Annual Bland Conference. Could it be that maybe, just maybe, you are the only 2 at the bar because everyone else is doing a youtube video or facebook live about their experiences at the same convention you are at right now? Just look at your facebook feed or twitter feed and you will see the answer is yes. It is already happening. I counted 3 facebook friends this week alone who have done just that.

See people are even using this new marketing wrinkle at the old marketing methods. If that isn’t telling you its relevance, nothing ever will, and you can go back to your MySpace profile now. Tell AOL4life on the book tours message board I said hello.

Look there is no wrong way. That’s not what I mean to say when I talk about old methods. Those still work to a degree and for some people it works how they wish it to work. If you are doing all the things people have done since the beginning of time or since the boom of self publishing, and are happy with that, sobeit; more power to you.

However if you are hungry and looking for that game changer and getting to the next level, then follow me into this world.

I spent nearly an entire weekend online, on camera in 2016 at the Brain to Books Cyber Convention. I was up and streaming live for 47 hours. I also created 7 hours of content that ran when I wasn’t online live. That’s how much content I have in my folder on my youtube channel from just that weekend. You can go check it out at my YouTube channel.

It’s under the 2016 Brain to Books Cyber Convention Video Playlist there.

Am I crazy? Yeah probably but that’s what I decided to do. Why you might ask? Well the simple reason is I am crazy, but really it’s because I know making those connections were invaluable. I paid $0 to be a part of that convention. Ok, not true I bought a new camera for $29.95, and posters for another $30, plus all the coffee I drank while I was there. Still I did not need a hotel, still got my drink on, and still had a ton of networking done throughout the weekend in pajamas. I even made 4 sales from it. Pretty awesome considering I wasn’t even talking about my book at this event nor had a goal of making sales for the most part. I was mediating conversations and keeping conversations about other people’s works going.

My point is, there are not that many opportunities like that out there but there is going to start to be. The ones that are out there already are growing and growing faster than they probably even thought they would. Booktubers is a thing. NaNoWriMo has a youtube channel. For those 2 specifically it’s being used as the fun way to connect commonalities we all thought no one else shared.

There are other such formats like Panel discussions. Panel discussions are sharing the most interesting ideals and life lessons within a peer group. It’s invaluable information that is being shared and put out there. If you watch a panel discussion and don’t learn something, wow I feel sorry for you.

Look I know all about the introvert or anonymity thing. Most would feel these are good reasons and yes I will acknowledge that if you have genuine fear or get hurt by the judgemental aspects of being online and criticized, or are a high profile or very private person not wanting to mix your lives with this endeavor, you have some claim to not being or wanting to be a part of this new found glory. However the bottom line is you are the only one hurt by your resistance, no one else. SO you can’t complain about being left behind. I am sorry, you can’t.

I am really sorry, and understand I am not making light of these reasons I have heard for someone not to come on one of my shows or be a part of a Cyber Con or have a youtube channel. I understand, They are real fears and concerns. I can’t imagine what you must go through. It could explain why you are an author and not an actor. I get it but then be who you are and embrace that. Don’t look to the future and think you will reinvent the wheel or that what you are doing now will come back to style so why change. Technology is moving too fast and what I am sharing here may be out of date by the time you get done reading this.

You can’t avoid being swallowed or engulfed by the darkness without stepping one of two ways; forward or to the side. To the side gets you that light and warmth you know but it never rewards you for taking a forward step. It comforts you and leaves you be. There is nothing wrong with that but I guarantee that you all have friends taking those steps forward and they are going to get further away and then you are all alone. If you are good with that, cool. If not why not take that person’s hand who you know is not afraid to step forward and step with them, It is always better to have a friend because they won’t let you fall or be hurt. The buddy system works, remember as a young kid how much better you felt with that ideal? Well right now your buddies are lining up, they are ready to step forward, are you?

Go get yourself a youtube channel, a camera/webcam, and smile. Then take my hand, I promise I won’t let you down.
Great post on how to be seen, Joe. You provided some excellent ways to get out there. You also shed some light on the reality of what events are like for authors, something I don't think many people are aware of. It's been awhile since I've made a new video for my YouTube channel, so this is certainly the kick in the pants I need to start making videos again. :)

Joe Compton is the author of the crime thriller Amongst The Killing, published in March of 2015 under his publishing company Never Mind The Fine Print Publishing LLC. Joe also runs a subsidiary company called GoIndieNow which is an online platform that highlights, fosters, and supports Indie Artists of all art forms. He does this mainly through his youtube channel where he produces, writes, and hosts a few different shows that post on a regular basis there, Joe has made a half dozen short films, 3 of which he wrote and directed. He also served his country in the United States Marine Corps. Joe is working on a sequel to Amongst The Killing entitled, "We The Moral Majority".

Book Links:
Amazon USA (available in Kindle ebook, paperback, and audiobook)
Amazon UK (available in all 3 formats there as well)
Barnes & Noble (Available in NOOK and Paperback):
Smashwords:(available in electronic formats only)

Social Media Links:
Audio podcast version of show 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

A Darling Secret UPDATE!

Me. Writing.
I'm sooooooooo excited to report that I've just started writing Chapter 3 of REALM OF THE SHADOW GODS! This will be the third book in the Strange Luck series and I couldn't be happier with the direction of this story.

You can expect lots more dark magic, an even darker world, and LOTS of strange surprises (*insert evil laugh here). At this point, I'm planning for this to be the final book in the series. I've toyed with the idea of a prequel, but am still undecided. 

I started a Realm of the Shadow Gods Pinterest board where I've been collecting inspirational images. This pic is my absolute favorite:

I want to wear this all day. Every day.
 Love these pics too:

Hopefully these pics will give you an idea of what to expect.

At this point I don't have a release date yet, but I'm hoping summer/fall 2017. I'll definitely be posting any and all updates about my progress here, so please check back. Or, you can sign up for my newsletter.

By the way, I decided to do a spontaneous Kindle giveaway today of The Nightmare Birds. Enter now before it's too late. 

Now, back to writing.... 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Classic and Out-Of-The-Box Movie Recommendations for Halloween

You think our Halloween costumes are scary now? Ha!

Halloween is my favorite holiday (what do you expect from a girl who has a bat tattoo?). It’s a time for pumpkin-spiced everything (yum!), red and gold leaves, crisp air, horror novels, and of course, scary movies!

I like to watch horror movies the entire month of October culminating with Night of the Living Dead (a true classic) actually on Halloween. My favorite flicks usually involve something psychological at the heart of the story and/or an original premise. Whether you’re a horror movie buff, or just getting into it, here are my favorites I watch every year:

A Nightmare on Elm Street: Just watched this the other day. Over the top gore, psychological mind games, a freaky monster man, nightmares, and suspense. Yes, please!

Re-Animator: I’ve said it a zillion times and I’ll say it again. I’m a HUGE H.P. Lovecraft fan. Watching movies inspired by his stories are just another way I can enjoy the brilliance that is Lovecraft. There are dozens of Lovecraft movies out there, but some are much better than others. In my opinion if you watch anything by Stuart Gordon you should be in good shape. He does an excellent job of capturing Lovecraft's works, and the overall budget, acting, and gore is a lot better than most. This campy movie focuses on a deranged medical student hell-bent on bringing the dead back to life.

Dagon: Another Stuart Gordon film of an H.P. Lovecraft story. You wouldn’t think that a story about a demonic fish god could be scary, but holy crap, it is! That scene where he’s trying to lock the door in the hotel gets my heart pumping every time. Fun Fact: The original H.P. story is only five pages long!
Evil Dead 2: This is one of my favorite movies of all time! I can remember seeing it at Blockbuster back in the day and being freaked out by the cover. The cover is definitely still haunting. This movie is freaky, funny, gory, and it has Bruce Campbell. Is that H.P. Lovecraft’s Necronomicon he’s reading? Why yes, it is!

May: This is actually a little-known Indie film, but deserves much esteem. Angela Bettis does a fantastic job playing an incredibly dorky strange girl with the sole mission to make a real friend—no matter what it takes. Hint: She likes to sew. If you’ve ever seen Clueless, Elton (the guy who likes Cher) is the love interest.

Gingersnaps: Another little-known film, but soooooo good! I don't know how I found out about this one, but it's become a tradition to watch. Two sisters have an unnatural obsession with death and one of them manages to get bitten by a werewolf. Chaos ensues. This film is quite clever and different than your run-of-the-mill werewolf movies.

Hellraiser: You opened it, we came. :) The first three are really good. As the series progresses you learn more about the characters and how everything ties in. This series is pretty scary, especially the mattress scene in the second movie, so I don’t recommend watching unless you are very comfortable with gore and nightmarish scenarios.

Mother of Tears: This is a Dario Argento movie. If you aren’t familiar with that name, he is an Italian director whose movies have been banned in a bunch of countries. His stuff is super evil, weird, gory, and imaginative. Mother of Tears is my favorite movie of his movies (and in this particular series), which actually stars his daughter Aria Argento. It’s about an archaeology student who accidentally releases a demonic witch from her ancient prison.

I have a funny story about this movie. Years ago, my husband and I were flying back from Europe and he brought the movie with us to watch on the plane coming home. It was night and everyone was sleeping, so I didn’t think anything of it and we started watching. As we were watching the goriest scene of the entire movie, we caught a glimpse of the woman’s expression in the next seat. Apparently she’d been watching over my husband’s shoulder. Her face was pure horror. I’m talking paralyzed with fear horror. We felt really bad and offered to turn it off, but she said no and insisted that we continue. Although we tried tilting the screen away from her, it was still very awkward the rest of the flight because she wouldn’t speak to us at all or make eye contact after that. If you’re reading this lady from the plane, we are sorry for scaring the crap out of you. I promise I won’t watch a movie like this on a plane again.

In the Mouth of Madness: One of my all-time favorites, and yes, another Lovecraft story. It's about a horror novelist who goes missing and an insurance investigator sets out to retrieve a yet-to-be-released manuscript and ascertain the writer's whereabouts. I've seen this movie a hundred times and every time I watch it, I notice more and more hidden details which make the story even more intriguing. 

Here' me at a Halloween midnight movie when I lived in Florida
What do you watch for Halloween? Give me your recommendations in the comments below.