Monday, October 31, 2011
I'm probably the wrong person to post on Halloween.
I hate horror novels. Well, maybe that's not a fair statement considering the fact I've never really read one. When all the other girls were reading Flowers in the Attic, I reveled, repeatedly, in A Wrinkle in Time. Scary just wasn't my thing.
In fact, Halloween was one of my least favorite holidays. I didn't enjoy dressing up and I really hated trick-or-treating. I like to blame my brother and his friend Paul for scaring me so bad one Halloween that I never wanted to go out in the dark again. Haunted houses weren't my thing and I've never even gone to a haunted house as an adult.
Call me a weenie. It's cool. ;)
What's funny is that two of my favorite novels have been classified as horror (by friends, at least, I'm not sure what the industry refers to them as). Relic by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child terrified me in college. It probably didn't help that I was working in a natural history museum at the time and had access to the deep, dark recesses of collections, just like the monster in the book. I never thought of Relic as horror, though most people I recommend it to chide me for not warning them in advance.
Then there's my favorite novel of the last twenty years - The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan. It might be considered horror, I suppose. To me, the emotional journey of the main character overshadowed any scary zombie action. (Truth be told, I'm a zombie girl - always have been. I don't get the appeal of vampires...probably because they scare the crap out of me.)
I really don't like being scared just to be, well, scared. I don't like the adrenaline rush. What I do like is when I get a story in my hands and there's a human element far outweighing the fear factor. That's when a story sucks me in. That's when I get an inkling of what the thrill seekers love about horror.
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Anyway, I'd like to thank my readers for the support. If it weren't for you and the expressed interest in reading another book in the Ancient Legends series, Voodoo Kiss would probably not exist.
I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
On a trip to Brazil, something awakens inside Sofia -- her legacy, a blessing and a curse, drawing to her every paranormal creature out there: vampires, demons and reapers, ghosts and Shadows, and something much darker that's been twisting its way into her heart and soul. With the help of Thrain, a striking demon of the highest order, she sets out to uncover the truth about herself and the ones she loves.
In a world of love and betrayal, of reincarnation and ancient bonds, to solve the mystery of her sister's murder, Sofia must embrace her own century-old legacy. But do do so, she must also let evil into her soul.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Blue Bloods (Blue Bloods #1) – Melissa De La Cruz
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (or any of the Harry Potter movies!)
Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas
The Corpse Bride
HellBoy 1 & 2
And my most recent favourite Halloween book pick is...
After a terrifying vision reveals imminent danger for the uncle who raised and instructed him, Braden retreats to Belle Dam, an old city divided by two feuding witch dynasties. As rival family heads Catherine Lansing and Jason Thorpe desperately try to use Braden's powers to unlock Belle Dam's secrets, Braden vows never to become their sacrificial pawn. But everything changes when Braden learns that Jason is his father--and Trey, the enigmatic guy he's falling for, is Catherine's son.
To stop an insidious dark magic from consuming the town, Braden must master his gift—and risk losing the one he loves. (Blurb from Goodreads).
Scott Tracey really has created an elegant and vivid world of witch craft. Set in the atmospheric and charged town of Belle Dam, Witch Eyes is full of mystery, magic, romance and intrigue. Seventeen year old Braden is our main character and he comes with a wicked sense of humour, abundance of sarcasm and a gift that is truly unique. I fell in love with the language Tracey used to describe Braden’s vision, utterly in awe of the author’s ability to take something so complex and explain it in a way that I understood – better yet, explain it so I could visualize the beauty and magic of his gift.
The small war Braden stumbles into in Belle Dam is exceptionally intriguing. I found myself addictively turning the page because I had to know what the hell was going on. There are no clichés, no obvious answers, and the twists and turns in Witch Eyes are exceptionally clever. It’s been a while since a book has kept me on my toes. As well as the fantastic and enigmatic plot (can a plot be enigmatic? Yeah, I’m gonna say this one is), the characters in Witch Eyes are…well…wow. I’m a huge Braden fan. I love when I love the main character this much. Braden is just so compelling. I thought it was awesome how, as the reader, we got to see his vulnerable side - the side of him that is bitter about his dad, loyal to his uncle, stripped bare by his gift, crushing on a hot older guy. But then amazingly we can also see how he must come off to the other characters – very self-contained, defensive, independent, wary.
In steps Trey, Braden's love interest. He’s hot, he’s cool, he’s also loyal to the point of being a pain in the ass and as Braden so perceptively points out, he has a bit of hero complex. He’s utterly loveable and I found the two of them together hilarious, electric and entertaining.
Even better the other characters, Jade, Drew, Jason and Catherine, are intriguing in their own ways and I can’t wait to read more about them.
I was hooked from the first page by this riveting young adult paranormal. Cannot wait for Book Two!
Five Massive Massive Stars!
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
I recently read a great blog post by Steven Montano, the talented indie author of Blood Skies and Black Scars. The post (found here: http://bloodskies.com/?p=1491) details the top ten things Steven would tell himself about indie publishing if he could go back in time. With my Daughters of Saraqael trilogy having been out three months this week, I was inspired to blog about my own publishing experience.
My decision to self-publish was heavily weighed. Ignorant of the popularity of independent publication, I dismissed it as an option because I thought people didn’t read self-published books. (I know, I know!). Instead, I tried the traditional publication routine: writing query letters, reaching out to literary agents, waiting for weeks or months only to receive form rejections.
Needless to say, it was frustrating.
Six months later, I had three YA fantasy/romance books that I knew would have an audience, but no one willing to invest in them. So…I decided to invest in them myself. I was inspired by the stories of successful indie authors like Michael R. Hicks, Amanda Hocking and John Locke, and absorbed the passionate and inflammatory (in a good way) advice promoted by J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler about indie publishing. Then I spoke with my husband about it and ultimately took the plunge.
You might ask, “Raine, why should I listen to you when your books have only been out for three months?” That’s a fair question. To establish my credibility (such as it is), I’ll share the results of these early days of my self-publication.
All three books of the Daughters of Saraqael trilogy (Becoming, Central and Foretold) are currently in the top 5,000 on Amazon’s bestseller list for paid Kindle books. Right now, Becoming is #1,668 overall, and just last week it was the #21 bestseller among Romance/Fantasy & Futuristic books. The books have maintained five-star reviewer averages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords and Goodreads, and they’ve been featured on numerous book blogs around the world. Sales have been good enough within these three months that I could live off my earnings.
That said, how did I do it? Well, in keeping with Steven’s great idea, here’s a top ten list for your consideration:
10. Develop a concept that will carry across multiple books. Readers connect with characters and want to read more about them. Even if your book is a stand-alone, be sure you stick to one voice and style across books to maintain reader loyalty.
9. If you're writing a series, have more than one book done when you first publish. I’ve had a number of indie authors say they wish they had waited like I did to publish their books all at once. The biggest piece of advice by any of the successful authors mentioned above is to have books out there for your readers to purchase!
8. Get into social networking. I have a Raine Thomas Facebook account, a Raine Thomas fan page and a Daughters of Saraqael fan page. I post to all of them throughout the week and “like” and comment on the posts of my FB friends. I’ll admit that I was scared to death of Twitter. I joined it for the first time in June, stumbling blindly into a very intimidating social environment. Fortunately, all you have to do is find other authors and avid readers and start up conversations. I’m currently at over 2,400 followers and growing…thus, increasing my potential readership and finding great books to read, as well!
7. Take the time to properly format your books. Regardless of what service you use to publish (I used Smashwords as well as published directly through Amazon and Barnes & Noble), they offer style guides to make sure your books look right on e-readers. Attention to details like this will help your books compete with those offered by traditional publishers.
6. Join Goodreads and create an Amazon author page. Goodreads.com is an excellent site connecting authors and readers. Create an author page there as well as on Amazon, and engage in group discussions about things that don’t pertain to your books. (Yes, I said don't pertain to your books).
5. Submit your book(s) to book reviewers. Book bloggers abound, and they love to read and write about what they read. Amanda Hocking achieved a lot of her success because of them. I’ve been fortunate enough to have bloggers approach me to review my books. I’ll be forever grateful to all of them!
4. Make a book trailer. There are many programs that can help you create your own book trailers. Windows Movie Maker and iMovie are two such programs. Browse trailers you like and try to imitate the feel and quality of them. Good music is essential!
3. Hire a great cover designer. People judge a book by its cover. I had to do little more than use the cover of Becoming as my Twitter avatar to garner interest in my books. It’s worth the investment!
2. Create a website and a blog. You won’t have a marketing team to promote your work. The best way for you to do it on your own is through a website with a regularly updated blog. You can purchase website templates with Wordpress blogs for less than $50. Hopefully it goes without saying that the more professional your website looks, the better it reflects on you and your books!
1. Invest in a good editor. I don’t mean your best friend’s sister’s roommate from college who got A’s in English. I mean a professional and reputable copy editor. I can’t stress this enough! The biggest knock on any indie book is a lack of editing.
So there it is…my personal top ten list of what to do to embark on a successful self-publishing venture. I hope it proves helpful!
What tips do you have for other indie authors?
Friday, October 21, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
I LOVE music – no I mean I really LOVE music. At any given hour of any given day it is playing around me. I’ve always thought it was both eerie and amazing that when you turn on the radio, Pandora or even just hit shuffle on your IPod that the songs that play reflect how you are feeling , and when they play your emotions about your life are intensified. One of the coolest things about musicians or any artist, including writers is that they can invoke an emotion at a distance – you could even argue that it’s their own supernatural power.
A lot of writers often use playlist as they write. For my first book, Insight, I did not have a ‘play list’ to the story - it flowed to rapidly for me to come up with one. While writing my second book, Embody, I noticed that some songs I was hearing on Pandora and my iPod reminded me of the Insight story and that lead me to seek out a playlist for Embody. If I remember correctly I only came up with six or seven songs before Embody was complete. The love of a playlist while writing came into full effect for me during the thought process of my third book Image which will release on Nov 8th.
Music had taken on entirely new role in my life by that point. When I heard songs I didn’t even bother to feel the connection between the lyrics and my life, but instead I connected the music to my story. With that mind set I was compelled to step deeper into music and find new bands or sounds that could inspire me. My friends, who come from all walks of life, were all too eager to help me expand my musical taste. Almost every day a new band or song was suggested to me. I loved every suggestion even if it didn’t fit my story because it allowed me to see how others saw the Insight story – my style of writing.
The way the playlist for ‘Image' was created was nothing short of fate (either that or the universe screaming at me to listen to this certain voice/band). Within the span of one week two people, both named Taylor, one boy, one girl – from two opposite sides of my life handed me the same band, the same album. My only problem was that this new band was mixed in with several other bands that were also new to me. Each day as I drove, worked, or just wrote my iPod would be on shuffle and if a song seemed like if fit the Insight series or inspired me I would put it on a playlist.
There was lyric that I adored in this shuffle ‘We’ve become desolate ’ ( I love unique words that are not used every day!) but every time this lyric played my hands would be full, or I would be on the phone and the song would be over before I managed to see who's singing it. I was so new to my iPod that in my rush to skip back I would skip to far or something crazy like that. Long story short this lyric was illusive to me and it was driving me mad. So much so that one night my husband decided to solve this little problem. After the kids went to bed we sat down in front of the iPod deck and shifted through countless bands and songs ( we had our own little concert going on). Finally, a few hours into this I heard my sound, and discovered my now favorite band, Breaking Benjamin.
I’m one of those crazy people who find something they like and dives deeper into it. So, I put the album Phobia on repeat and went about my life. It was Christmas time and life around me was nothing short of erratic. My plan was to just daydream until the New Year then put the third installment of the Insight story into a word document. Apparently my muse had a different plan and used this band as its own personal weapon. Some might say that the screaming guitars and electrifying drums laced with a hypnotic vocalist was too angry for my love story, but I heard something different. I head a character that I had not given much attention to (beyond the bad guy – stay away) break free in my imagination and tell me his side of the story, yes, Drake Blakeshire began to haunt me day and night as I listened to this band. So much so that I could not bare to wait another second before I began Image. In fact, I sacrificed sleep and food just to get this story out of my system so could have control over my thoughts once again.
What I heard, saw, and felt within the sound of Breaking Benjamin was pleading cry of someone who had been misunderstood and faced a hardship that could not be fathomed. This insight( forgive the pun) allowed me to take the Insight story into a new level – one that was faster paced and much darker, yet somehow the love story remained.
The impact Drake made in the third book was so strong that I had no choice but to go back and re-write Drake’s lines in the first two books. I often wonder what this series would look like if I had not found a band that helped me see Drake clearly for the first time. I also find it eerie that this band created the Phobia album years before I began writing, yet the lyrics and powerful sound match the intensity of my character, Drake Blakeshire.
So today no matter what story I’m writing I manage to add a Breaking Benjamin song to my playlist, even if the song does not match the story. The sound of the band reminds me of how powerful music is when it comes to my imagination and emotions.
Who is your favorite band/song? What about that musician attracts you to them? Keep in mind I am ALWAYS looking for suggestions for new bands/ songs to add to my playlist!
P.S - The song that ROCKED my Muse: Until the End :)
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
I don’t write everyday, though I probably ought to. With four children in home, my time is precious and my dance card can be a bit full at times. I don’t go by word count or by a clock, I feel successful if I can complete a scene or situation, reread it, and not tinker too much. That’s the part I have the most problem with, tinkering with my words. Even after I had decided that the book was done I kept wanting to go back and fidget with it while I waited for editing and such – which is a bad habit I’m trying to break, slowly.
I reread Blood’s Voice both before beginning Blood Bound and again once I had the rough written. I wanted to make sure I kept the feel and ideas straight, even if not all my characters are, lol. Now that I’m just waiting on the final edits for Blood Bound to be returned to me, I will again read BV and then BB in preparation for continuing work on the next book in the series, Glamour Blade. Of course, the next one is not written from Mistress Anya’s POV so it will be a bit different by default.
I hope I like the story later as much as I did when I wrote it. Of course, I hope my readers do too.
Honestly? A bit of all three. I write a section, wait, reread all the way from the beginning, tinkering as I go. I both read silently and aloud to make sure it sounds the way I mean it to, especially since Anya has an often odd way of wording thing. I also have two of my kids and a couple of friends read to make sure it sounds right and flows correctly. Once I have the first full draft, I wait a bit to try to lessen the issue of the brain seeing what I meant instead of what I wrote, and then read and tinker again. I also use a program that helps with the spelling and a little of the grammar as Anya does not write in American English naturally, even though she ‘lives’ in NY.
I was giddy. When I got my first printed proof copy I grinned so hard I felt like my face should split. I used to write but nothing as long and involved as a novel so it was also a proud moment, to know I had finished something that big and could share it with others. Of course, my 15 yo son then proceeded to kidnap the proof, lol. He now has his own e- and print copies.
Reading is a love I’ve had since I was little so I read all the time. I reread books a lot too. I see reading like others see watching TV, why only read one at a time. You don’t watch a show from Season 1, Episode 1, till the final show all at once (well, I have actually but not normally, lol) so it’s the same idea with books. I will not read books in the same series at the same time though – don’t like to ‘read ahead’ even if it’s a series I’m rereading. I’m probably a little weird for that, but hey… as my kids will tell you – Weird is a compliment.
Oh, and yes . . . I do read for learning as well. I still have all my books from college and, believe it or not, have read parts of the psychology and relationship texts while working on my books. Anya is too mentally and emotionally damaged not to.
I can’t imagine not reading honestly. Considering how long it takes to write 100k + words, I’d go into serious withdrawal if I didn’t keep reading throughout. I read all the time, whether writing or not. I agree with the influence issue though so what I do is not read anything similar. While I wrote Blood’s Voice I read a lot of mystery, were(wolf and cat), and psi stories. But only one vampire book – couldn’t help that though . . . Bloodlines was released. How could I not read, lol. But, I also didn’t write for a while after.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Because Genesis takes place in Greece at around 200 B.C., we'll be exploring various aspects of the time - fashion, food, beliefs, culture, society, etc. and how they tie into the book.
I had a lot of fun and learned quite a bit while researching for this story and am excited to share the tidbits I found. Of course, Genesis is just a novella and a work of fiction, so we're barely scratching the surface on the tour and in the book. But hopefully you'll learn something new and have fun along the way.
The Ancient Greeks celebrated most events with festivals and I thought about calling this tour a "festival" but there's just one problem - women generally were not permitted to attend festivals. Men had all the fun! Their festivals could last a day or a week and included lots of food, drink and merriment. That part hasn't changed much, right? Thank goodness we women can now celebrate, too!
this interesting visit from Jordan and Eris, two characters from the novella). And, as I said, lots of prizes, including Soul Savers swag, ebooks and a Grand Prize of signed books, swag and other goodies. For more details on the tour, visit the tour page.
Up for grabs now: Soul Savers Swag Pack. Just comment below to be entered by either sharing something you already know about Ancient or Hellenic Greece or asking a question about something you'd like to know. Be sure to include an email address so we can contact you if you win! Don't forget that your comments here (and on each stop) gain you entries for the Grand Prize, too.
Good luck! Have fun!
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I love reading author blogs because an author is never really who you would expect them to be. Someone can write a book on bird watching and be a tattooed biker or write an out of this world fantasy and be your best friend’s grandmother. You really never know what an author will be like until you meet them. The very first time I met an author my grandmother and I already had a set idea of how she was going to look and act. We were completely sure she would drop down from the heavens like a goddess from above and have floor length scarlet hair and say profound things that would change our lives. I case you haven’t guessed, I was only ten years old when this happened (and already had my over active imagination).
The author we were going to meet was Tamora Pierce, author of the ‘Song of the Lioness Quartet’, ‘Immortals Quartet’, ‘Protector of the Small’, ‘Circle of Magic’, Etc. etc. etc.
I think I was actually the opposite of disappointed. Seeing that she was a real, normal person like the rest of us there did more profound things than anything she could have said if she had been the goddess divine I have imagined her to be. (Which by the way, if you ever read this Tamora, my grandmother and I were sure you would be 7 feet tall!) For a few moments I caught off guard but then she started to talk to us and I was sure she was the creator of the worlds I had been obsessed with diving into. It gave me strength, it made me proud that someone could do that and create that world and made me realize it wasn’t purely magic. That anyone including me could do it if they had those worlds in their imagination.
She was funny, she made all of us laugh and we got to meet her husband and once the two of them were talking together it had us all ready to fall over laughing. It was so comfortable and relaxed but it still felt important and made me feel special for getting to have been there. It made me realize that an author wasn’t just an author. In her case it also made me realize different things about her that I admired including the way she took in everything around her and thought things through almost constantly, you could see her thoughts going as she talked to us and even as she was signing afterwards. Not only that but she made a point of being kind to each of us.
Many of the girls there had dressed like Alanna or had purple pendants on to look like the one she wore in the series so I felt a little out of place in my bright pink pajamas (it was at 11 at night) but I walked straight up to her with my pile of books and got them signed for myself and my friends back home. I was so sure she would laugh at my PJs or treat me like less than these obviously avid fans but instead she smiled at me and talked to me for a few moments longer and added a few little lines in to the novel she had signed. I was on cloud nine afterwards for feeling so singled out and having gotten her personal attention. Which earned me a few glares from some of those girls but I just smiled the entire way out of the store and back home.
When people ask me when I started writing or the moment that led to me becoming an author I almost always say when I came to Washington and my fiancé told me “just do it, write because you want to.” but thinking back, it wasn’t that moment. It was the moment when I was watching the woman who had made my life so much better and more enriched talk to us like we were her equals. It was that moment when she spoke with me and smiled at me and made me feel like I was special. When she proved to me that the people around me were filled with so much more than I had ever realized and that some of them had entire worlds in their imagination. I had always scribbled little lines I would hide away in notebooks under my mattresses but it wasn’t until that day that the seed in my mind was planted that eventually, those notebooks could become something more.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Until last year, I didn't know I had a fear of enclosed spaces. During an MRI, I had a bit of a freak out and since then I've been very aware of the space around me. My heart pounds a little harder in elevators and in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. I honestly don't know if this is a fear I've always had or if that little MRI incident caused it. (The technician left her post, leaving me totally alone. Apparently that's against the rules and she may have gotten fired over it.)
Last weekend I took a weekend vacation with my family in Wisconsin. My hubby had seen a news report on Cave of the Mounds and thought it make be a fun day trip. I agreed, never thinking about the fact that I'd be in an enclosed space - until we stood in front of the doors to enter the cave.
Sturdy grey metal doors, with danger and do-not-open signs, stared at me, daring me to step inside. That familiar heart pounding started and I knew I wouldn't be able to go in the caves with my family. The cave tour was an hour long. How could I survive that time? What would happen if I freaked out? I couldn't just step out of a room. No, I'd be trapped behind doors that once closed, couldn't be opened again. I said to my husband, "I can't do this."
He's so good to me. He took my hand in his and squeezed it. "Hold my hand if you're afraid, okay?" He didn't tell me I was silly or even, for a moment, suggest I stay in the gift shop. He trusted that I could enter the cave and maybe even enjoy myself.
I grasped my five-year-old son's tiny hand and stepped through those doors. For the first ten minutes, we watched a film on how the cave was discovered. I glanced at those double doors and wished I could run through them. I didn't. I looked at all the children in the room and thought How will it affect them if I bolt right now?
I didn't. I entered the cave and wow, am I glad I did. It was gorgeous. I laughed and felt like a kid again. When we entered a portion of the cave filled with stalactites, I said to my hubby, "Wow, this is just like I imagined it in Oubliette." (There's a portion that takes place in a cave - I imagined the whole scene. Now I could write it based off experience.)
You're probably wondering how this relates to my books. Sharing my novels with readers is just as scary. After Anathema was released I wanted to hide until everyone forgot about it. Even though writing has always been one of greatest passions, publishing for the world to see has been one of my greatest fears.
Thank you to everyone who has walked this path with me, or with any other nervous writer (and I'd bet that's about 99% of all writers out there). It's a journey of fear and love, but as I learned over the weekend, it only takes a little courage to step through those double-doors, even if I didn't know exactly what was on the other side.
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Divorce Club's personalized battle plan designed to suit your individual needs:
Put on weight and don't shave your legs, or armpits, or any part of your body for that matter.
Don't wash his clothes and cook rotten meals, preferably ones that'll give him constant diarrhea.
Wear a thong with a mini dress and bend over in front of his friends, but only after gaining weight.
Don't forget: if you're moving, we'll help you pack and unload. If he's the one moving, we'll help you throw his belongings out the window.
A bitter divorce from a two-timing husband leaves Sarah with no money to fend for her daughter, but she won't be beaten, so she opens The Divorce Club, a meeting place for women who want to divorce their cheating husbands, but don't know how.
Soon things start to go seriously wrong. A fake client and her rising interest in him isn't Sarah's only worry; there's also the moody teenager, a stalker, and the club's personalized battle plans that start to involve more than flashing a confident smile and running a 24/7 hotline.
When Sarah's ex-husband moves in without her permission in the hope to patch things up, chaos seems complete.
Full-length novel. Approx. 322pp
The Divorce Club is available in all ebook stores and soon in print. Hope you'll check it out. Thanks so much. Jayde
Thursday, October 13, 2011