Friday, August 30, 2013

Cover Reveal

The edits for my dark fantasy ebook, Visible Through Darkness, are taking longer than expected. I just got it back from my beta reader. She really liked it! I pushed the publishing date to next Friday. Here's the cover and description to wet your appetite.

What if you were the only one? How strong would you be?

Ethics, morals, compassion— what if they didn't exist? What if the world treated those words as curses? Laws mean nothing. Commitment means nothing. Jade Greer’s parents raised her in the old, moral, ways. She still clings to their teachings. The world rejects her. She has suffered. But, her storm is over. Or, is it?

Don't forget, No Vacancy and Clipped Wings are free until tomorrow- 8/31!


Also, starting Tuesday, I'll be back in school. I'm going for my second Masters. This time it's a MS in Publishing: Digital and Print. Don't know what I'm going to do with it. But, I've been unemployed or underemployed for almost two years now. I'm tired of getting calls from Sallie Mae. Going back to school seemed like the only way to solve my money issues since I'll be getting a nice refund check each semester. And, I can get a job on campus as a work-study. 

Besides, for years, whenever I thought about a career, writer always came to mind. No matter how practical I wanted to be, I always came back to writing. I got my MS in Library and Information Science because I didn't want to be that writer who worked at a job they hated while they waited for their book to explode. Two and a half years of school and I went right back to a writing career. I learned a lot from that program. I just didn't find a new passion. 

It's kind of annoying. I know being a full-time writer is almost impossible. I'm hoping a MS in Publishing will help me find a way into self-employment. You never know. This will be an interesting Fall/Winter- going back to school and my novel, The Sciell, comes out in March! Adventure awaits! 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Free Books

So excited. I'll be publishing my next dark fantasy ebook, Visible Through Darkness, at the end of the week. To celebrate

No Vacancy

Never underestimate the constricting power of fear.


Clipped Wings

What's worse- prison of the body or soul?

Will be free from now until August 31. 

Check 'em out! :D 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Darker Than Black

No, I'm not talking about the anime ;)

When is a story too dark? I've often come across some variation of this question between Goodreads and Google+. It got me thinking about what a dark story is. It's different for everyone.

When someone says a story is dark, what does that mean- to me anyway?

  1. Setting: The story takes place in some Gothic castle, haunted forest or a post-apocalyptic world.
  2. Death: Major characters die. How many doesn't matter. It could be 1 or 5.
  3. Emotions: The book is 300+ pages of sadness, fear, guilt, low-self-esteem i.e. a stew of negative feelings.
  4. Torture- both physical and mental: With my characters, I get to know them then, I think, "beside death and rape, what is the worse thing that could happen to them?" Then, I make it so. 
  5. Inner Demon: This is one of my favorites. It's what I based my trilogy around. It's the darkness inside a person. 
  6. Anti-hero: Another favorite. The story can be dark if the characters are.
I've said it before, I have a fascination with darkness. I've done research on Carl Jung's Shadow (Inner Demons). What I love about horror and dark fantasy is that the stories"go there." I've read books in other genres and, for me, dark fantasy has the best and most entertaining characters.

The authors are sort of required to "go there," but when do they go too far. Can they go too far? 

Here's my response from the Goodreads discussion: How dark is too dark?
I love Prince of Thorns and The Black Jewels Trilogy: Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, Queen of the Darkness because the authors pushed the boundaries of what's considered acceptable behavior. 
That being said, I don't like tragedies. I can deal with a major character dying, Harry Potter is still my favorite series, but I'd rather they didn't. A character doesn't need to die for the story to be dark. For me, darkness in a story isn't about how many characters die. It's about what each character had to go through. We know Harry Potter doesn't die, but from book 4-7 he suffered... a lot and that's what made the stories dark. 
I love anti-heroes. This character type is one of the things that defines a dark fantasy for me- when a story focuses on someone with questionable morals. However, there should be some redeeming quality about them or at least something about them that I like. 
George R. R. Martin comes up many times in theses discussions because he kills off characters like it's nothing. Stephen King comes up as well. Bentley Little is another good example of an author who "goes there." He's not afraid to thoroughly disturb his readers. His scenes are intense. The thing about his images, though, they can be intense, but not so much you never want to read his books again.

But, to answer the question. Yes, an author can go too far. Ever see Stephen King's The Mist and Storm of the Century? Great movies, heartbreaking endings. I mean, those are the type of endings that make you question why you gave the author your time in the first place. 

Anime is also famous for having bleak endings. Wolf's Rain, Full Metal Alchemist (not Brotherhood) anyone? I've heard good things about Jack Ketchum's books. He's another author that pushes the envelop, but I've stayed away from his books. I want to be chilled to the bone not scarred for life. From the reviews, his disturbing scenes are on a whole different level.

That being said, I'm not one to stifle creativity. If you have a dark scene that you love and it fits perfectly into the story, don't take it out because some people may not like it. I'm still struggling with this one ;)

So, the next question is, why on earth are people attracted theses depressing stories? I tackled that question a bit in The Appeal of Apocalyptic Stories and Why Do We Like Horror. A good dark story with a bit of daylight in it or a tale that scares me without making me want to disinfect my brain, makes me really happy. And, that's all that matters. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

To The Master of Horror

image credit: H.P Lovecraft by AbigailLarson
“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”—H.P. Lovecraft

I share the same birthday month as H.P. Lovecraft! Excuse me while I pass out. 

This is what's so amazing about books. Lovecraft has been dead for over 70 years and we still celebrate his birthday. I mean, I just had to write a post today. He's one of my favorite authors. He inspired my writing style. I've marked up his stories so much you can barely see the texts. The pages are even falling out. I love exploring fear of the unknown/darkness in all my stories. His stories have the most amazing monsters. 

image credit:  Mike Bukowski
Check out an amazing look at his life and how he still influences art.

The Horror Writer Whose Stories Influenced Stephen King's Novels, 'Prometheus,' Batman's Arkham Asylum and Countless Other Works - And You May Never Have Heard of Him Before

Here's how people are celebrating his birthday.
Wanting to give the writer his due, fans of Lovecraft are holding this month what they say is the largest celebration ever of his work and influence. It’s billed as the NecronomiCon — named in tribute to a Lovecraft book that gained a reputation for being especially dark and terrible. The convention — this Thursday through Sunday — is being held in Providence, where he lived before dying poor and obscure in 1937; he was just 46....
This week’s conference will include walking tours of Lovecraft’s old haunts, the unveiling of a new Lovecraft bust at one of them, the Providence Athenaeum, and panel discussions on his work, even the negative aspects. He was steeped in the past and suspicious of change; he was also racist and anti-immigrant, themes reflected in his stories including “The Shadow Over Innsmouth.”(The Washington Post)
If only I had the money, I'd be there. This sounds awesome!

This event has passed, but it sounds pretty cool.
The elder gods and ancient pre-human races of pulp-horror scribe H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos are capable of far more than just bringing madness, death and destruction. As evidenced by the first Cthulhu Callinglast year, they also inspire a variety of Nashville-based artists to create imaginative, provocative and even humorous art of unspeakable, unnamable horrors. With more than 13 artists participating this year, including several who are new to the show, more gibbering madness is sure to result. In addition to the artwork, a program of Lovecraft-inspired films will be showing in the Cult Fiction Underground theater. (Cthulhu Calling 2: A Lovecraftian Art Show)

Check out some of Lovecraft's chilling covers. I'd never seen any of these before.

Celebrate H.P. Lovecraft’s Birthday With 20 of His Creepiest Book Covers

Ever wanted to see the inside of Lovecraft's mind? Here's a creep-tastic video for you.

Got you in the mood to read some Lovecraft? Go here :)
The HP Lovecraft Archive: His Writings

Cheers to the man who still inspires horror and fantasy lovers everywhere!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Insidious: Chapter 2 Clip

Another Insidious: Chapter 2 clip was released today. Despite the whole curse of the sequel thing, this one looks like it might be as scary as the first one. I'm so excited for this movie. Insidious, the first onehad actually scared me. It was so creepy. Hopefully, the second one lives up the hype. It hits theaters September 13.

This might be the horror movie of the Fall. Pity. I mean, come on October is Horror Month.  What happened? Well, Carrie comes out in October, but I can't. I just can't. There are some movies you just don't remake. Actually, looking at the movies coming to theaters, this may be the Fall/Winter of Sci Fi/Fantasy. Equally awesome.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Fantasy Village Map

There comes a time in almost every fantasy writer's life when we have to make a map. They can be kind of a pain and they take forever to make. Since my funds are limited, I couldn't hire someone to do it for me. So, I did research. I pulled out all my fantasy books and checked out the maps.

The one in R.A. Salvatore's book, Homelandis close to what I wanted.

Most of the action in my first book, The Sciell, takes place around one area- Raesul (Ray-sul), so this is the map that'll go with it.

The colors are just for fun. It's gonna be black and white in the book. I created this using stock photos, Photoshop and Illustrator.

The trees and grass are stock photos from 123RF. I just cut and pasted them. For the buildings, I had to find a picture of a house I liked...
Opened it in Illustrator and, using the pen tool, traced over the picture to create this vector:
Then, I opened the file in Adobe Photoshop and moved it into my map.

Here's a video on how to create a vector:
Tips for Tracing with Illustrator

Adobe Creative Suite may be expensive, but it's awesome! Transferring images from Illustrator to my map in Photoshop was so easy.

The map for the second book is going to be nightmare. I have to make a digital version of this:

Don't know how I'm going to do it, but it'll be fun.

Here's a site that gave me inspiration for my map:
A Fantasy Reader: Index of Maps

Monday, August 5, 2013

Multiple Voices

Along the lines of multiple perspectives- how do you keep several distinct voices in your head? Even if you have only 3 or 4 POV characters, you're novel could still have a large cast. Each of those characters need their own voice?

The first novel in my series has only 4 POV characters, but has a cast of about 10. Here's how I keep a handle on all those voices. Hope this helps you ;)

Shade Harrellite 

Personality: Has her sweet moments. She acts like a child most of the time, but has her mature moments. Hears her common sense, but doesn’t listen to it. Gets people to like her just by being herself (as long as they look past the exterior). Resilient. She doesn’t stay down, doesn’t give up. Fighter.

Inner Struggle: She's the only half-human being in a village of full-blood beings. The villagers hate her because she's a half-breed and because she never learned her place. She somehow got the protection of the two most popular Del’Praeli which made the villagers even angrier. They've made it their life mission to break her. Because of this daily onslaught, Shade has a poor self-image. She has to often hide her self-consciousness because it is a weakness.

Vayle Slaughter 

Personality: Has little patience. Cares for no one outside of his circle. Determined, persistent. When he gets his hands on a project, something he’s passionate about, there’s little that’ll stop him from completing it. Will do what it takes to protect those he cares about. Thinks little of his own needs. Can be fairly level-headed, but Shade can drive him to see red. 

Inner Struggle: Ever since he was eleven, his entire life has revolved around protecting, training and caring for Shade. Not once had he ever thought about what he wanted out of life or what would be best for him alone. Now that Shade no longer needs him to fill those roles, he’s lost and angry. His brother was his only parent. He's never had a much older figure to look up to. His guardians see him only as a possession.

Lafeyette Slaughter 

Personality: Really arrogant. Believe’s he’s above everyone. A little mean. Really judgmental. Powerful though he was never one to flaunt it. Secretive- he tells people only what he believes they need to know. He doesn’t trust people and hordes information like it’s pirate gold.

Inner Struggle: He doesn't rememeber his childhood but is still effected by it. He was neglected as a child and had to grow up fast because he had a little brother to take care of. He was never allowed to be a child and doesn’t know how to be one. He's overly protective of his family. He visibly withdraws inside himself when those he cares about says something mean to him even if he knows they don't mean it. His guardians see him only as a possession.

Bleak Tahylur 

Personality: Likes to feel superior, but doesn’t strip others down to do so. Instead, she likes to be around people who knows less than she does. She enjoys holding this knowledge over people by talking in circles. She can be calm most of the time. Extremely loyal to her family no matter how they treat her. Loves to use her power and knowledge to teach others.

Inner Struggle: Sanher, her mother, gave her the last of her dark consciousness and died because of it. Now, her father and older siblings blame Bleak for Sanher's death. Bleak blames herself for her mother’s death.

Resnick Tahylur 

Personality: Though he's not the strongest, he is the family patriarch. He enjoys his roles and doesn’t like anyone else filling it. Doesn’t see the reason to use their powers for fighting. He’s brilliant at creating shields and using his power to fulfill the dark desires of humans. He doesn't like weakness, but doesn’t put others down for being weak. Instead, he simply treats them with cold disdain. He’s not a male who sits on the sidelines. Give enough time, he could think his way out of any problem or avoid it in the first place. Stubborn. He thinks he's always right. Doesn't like change.

Inner Struggle: He was good at protecting his family when they weren’t in any danger, but when they really needed him, his inability to use his power for things other than shielding cost him. He sees it as his life mission to solve his children’s problems. After years of protecting his family, he'd no longer needed like he used to be. He's proud of the Tahylur name and doesn't like it that his grandson doesn't call himself Tahylur. He wants to go back to the days when the family revolved around him.

For me, writing things down helps me remember them. I did this for all my characters and refer to it often.You could make it as long or as short as you need it to be. It takes a while to write, but it gets you thinking about all your characters and their relationships with each other. Including the inner struggle makes you add depth to them so they aren't merely 2-dimensional. As this is just to get a handle of the characters' voices, I don't include physical traits and powers. That's another list. 
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