One Often Overlooked Element of World-Building
A Guest Post & Cover Reveal by Melissa McPhail
Every author should understand world-building. Whether engaged in the writing of genre or literary fiction, an author crafts a unique world with each novel. Even when set in the present day, the novel’s events layer a new dimension upon our visible reality. It’s the dimension of those characters, of that story, but it should feel as real to the reader as his own tangible environment.
One overlooked element in world-building is religion. Often when religion isn’t factoring into the plot of the story, the author may fail to mention it. Yet when we take a look at how religion influences our daily lives—even when we ourselves may practice no particular faith—it’s clear that religion of some nature is part and parcel to nearly every culture that inhabits this earth.
Religion influences our daily interactions with others (moral codes, traditions) and for many, it determines at least in part the way they spend their mornings, nights or weekends. It even influences the words we swear (or curse) by.
Religious symbols and icons are prevalent in society, from cathedrals to dollar bills to the skylines of Earth’s most ancient cities. Sadly, in today’s culture, the subject of religion provides unending fodder for politicians, litigators, pundits and malcontents; yet these detractions aside, the belief in something greater than ourselves continues to offer spiritual succor for a majority of the world’s population.
Whether you as the author practice any faith, it’s impossible to escape the cultural foundations the world’s religions—from the pagan to the divine—have established through the centuries. Why would life be any different for other cultures, other worlds, other lands? Or for your magical vampire hunter detective?
Don’t overlook this valuable tool for making the world of your novel more real to the reader. The inclusion of some religious mention—whether mystical, magical or mythological—can bring greater depth to any story and create instant bonds of reality between the reader and your characters.
With that said, happy writing!
The Cover Reveal & Giveaway
Are you ready for the reveal of the new Cephrael’s Hand cover? Because here it is! What do you think? Does it do a good job conveying the fantasy genre? Is it a book you’d be attracted to in the store? Does it make you want to learn more?
Thank you for helping us celebrate! If you’d like to see the new covers for books 2 and 3 in the series stop by www.MelissaMcPhail.com, and check them out.
Guess what else? The author is offering a special giveaway as part of this grand event. Check out the Rafflecopter form below (it’s also available at www.novelpublicity.com/cephrael-cover-reveal/) to find out how you can win a Kindle Fire. Hooray!
Oh, and don’t miss learning more about Cephrael’s Hand and where you can pick up a copy—that’s below too.
“All things are composed of patterns…” And within the pattern of the realm of Alorin, three strands must cross:
In Alorin… three hundred years after the genocidal Adept Wars, the realm is dying, and the blessed Adept race dies with it. One man holds the secret to reverting this decline: Bjorn van Gelderan, a dangerous and enigmatic man whose shocking betrayal three centuries past earned him a traitor’s brand. It is the Adept Vestal Raine D’Lacourte’s mission to learn what Bjorn knows in the hope of salvaging his race. But first he’ll have to find him.
In the kingdom of Dannym… the young Prince Ean val Lorian faces a tenuous future as the last living heir to the coveted Eagle Throne. When his blood-brother is slain during a failed assassination, Ean embarks on a desperate hunt for the man responsible. Yet his advisors have their own agendas, and his quest for vengeance leads him ever deeper into a sinuous plot masterminded by a mysterious and powerful man, the one they call First Lord.
In the Nadori desert…tormented by the missing pieces of his life, a soldier named Trell heads off to uncover the truth of his shadowed past. But when disaster places him in the debt of Wildlings sworn to the First Lord, Trell begins to suspect a deadlier, darker secret motivating them. Honor-bound to serve the First Lord in return for his life, Trell continues on his appointed path, yet each day unveils new and stranger secrets that eventually call into question everything he knows.
A quick thank you to Cynthia for hosting me today, and for continuing to believe in me J Thank you for your support!!
Today, we are at the bar with Eli. He makes smart sexy 😉
Micah’s brother, human…for now
Eli pushed a strand of hair behind Hannah’s ear before stroking a single finger down her cheek. She curved into the caress. He used the same finger under her chin to lift her head. “You shouldn’t have to play dumb for anyone, Hannah. Smart is sexy. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not. One day, when you’re a little bit older, you’ll understand what I mean.”
Don’t know his name. Do know he’s smokin’ hot.
CHARACTER INSPIRED COCKTAIL/SHOOTER
The Wolf Bite—known to put hair on your chest…proceed with caution.
For a chance to win an electronic copy of DARK CRAVINGS leave a comment (be sure to include your email). I’ll randomly pick a replier within three days for each blog stop. Don’t forget to enter the grand prize (Rafflecopter link at bottom). One lucky winner will receive a $25 gift card from Amazon or Barnes & Nobles.
THE WOLF BITE
1 oz LUCID Absinthe
1 oz Midori Melon Liqueur
1 oz lemon-lime soda
1.5 oz pineapple juice
Drizzle of grenadine
In a cocktail shaker, add Absinthe, Midori melon liqueur, pineapple juice, and ice. Shake vigorously and strain into 2 ounce shot glass. Splash lemon-lime soda on top and a drizzle of grenadine.
As a half-breed vampire, Ella Grey’s life sucks. She does her best to pass the time killing demons and secretly admiring her Shadow Hunter partner, Micah. He’s hot, dangerous and knows it. He’d be just Ella’s type if he weren’t likely to kill her the moment she put a toe out of line.
A chance encounter with a succubus changes everything. From the second the succubus’s spell washes over them, Ella and Micah are helpless to keep their hands off one another. The sex, when it’s not leaving them on the verge of death, is earth shattering and for the first time in ages Ella is connected with someone on a level she’d feared lost forever. But a dangerous prophecy has been set into motion, and if Ella’s not careful it’ll pull her straight from Micah’s arms and into the deepest bowels of the underworld.
A Romantica® Paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published under the title Blood Lust Rising. It has been revised and expanded for EC.
ABOUT MADELINE PRYCE
Madeline Pryce wrote her first novel when she was ten, penned with neon-pink ink in a loose-leaf binder. Captivated by romantic literature, yet intrigued by the paranormal, she continues to develop her own voice, writing the kinds of stories that inspired her as a teen.
For many, the purpose of reading is to be entertained. In such, each genre has its own way of entertaining. Young adult fiction teaches lessons in love and life while telling likely stories that create a combination of happiness, sadness, and adventure. Erotica sets out to stimulate sexual desires by telling of fantasies. Horror seeks to leave an individual feeling unsettled, scared, and even squeamish.
To create horror, one must think about creating uneasiness and fear inside of people. What was your last nightmare about? That’s a good place to start. Analyze and dissect what specifically created the feelings of uneasiness and fear. It could be a number of things. For example, a terrifying chase or the presence of an evil entity. Failing to protect one’s family, especially children, would create an unsavory feeling. Another good example is witnessing or being the victim of an atrocity, such as a murder or a brutal torture. It can also be something psychological as opposed to physical.
The important thing is to go for the ‘wow’ factor. When someone reads the story, you want their jaw to drop because they can’t believe what they’ve just read. In The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man, I did this by creating a character that everyone will despise. He is egotistical and cares only for himself. He treats others like they are crap on the bottom of his shoe. Very early in the story the reader learns to hate him so later when he’s at the mercy of the serial killing women, the reader is torn. Do they want him to escape and get out alive? Or do they want him to be tortured and die? This creates an inner turmoil in the reader and leaves them unsettled. These are the feelings that a horror story sets out to create and leave behind.
So what’s the formula for a good horror story? I use the following:
- Start with the ordinary.
- In my horror short The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO, I started with an ordinary father-son relationship and their ordinary outing.
- Make it unordinary.
- Their outing becomes disturbing when the zoo they decide to go to becomes alarmingly real.
- Create a problem.
- They’re trapped in a zoo filled with ferocious man-eating animals. How will they escape them?
- Don’t forget the imagery.
- It’s a horror story, get dirty. Go into detail with the gory scenes.
- End with a bang.
- The crucial part of a horror story is the ending. Your reader has to walk away feeling grossed out, sick and/or terrified. They have to feel like they might possibly find themselves in the same predicaments of your characters.
What is your formula for a horror story?
You can find The Please DO Feed the Animals ZOO and The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man as well as other horror short stories on amazon.com or your favorite online eBook retail store.
Giveaway of The Please DO Feed the Animals Zoo and The Corpses of Old Farm Hill Road: The Arrogant Man
Guest Post from V.J. Chisholm
Hi everyone, well I’m V.J. Chisholm, indie author from bonnie wee Scotland.
I have to thank Cynthia for having me on her blog today
I’ve been a scribbler all my life and my passion for writing was most definitely passed onto me by my nana (who could always make up the most amazing stories on the spot).
I write for an indie publishing company called Vamptasy, which is an imprint of Crushing hearts and Black Butterfly’s, aka CHBB—I love working with them. It’s such a great family feeling there.
Magick Weaved on a Samhain Eve is my debut novella. This was my first shot at writing anything along the sizzling line. (It really come out as more of a sweet, but sassy, paranormal romance at the end of the day—guess my shyness got the better of me yet again, lol) It took a while before my muse & me to get it together on this one and come up with the idea of Alexia with her wicked, witchy ways. Lance took a bit more time to come to life. Despite knowing right away how I wanted him to be, I lacked any idea of what to make him look like. Until a friend of mine was making us gals laugh, (and there was a fair amount of drooling too, lol), one evening over a certain picture she had posted on her blog of a lovely, tasty male treat.
From that photo the looks and movements of Lance were born and so was Magick Weaved on Samhain Eve.
Magick weaved on a Samhain Eve is about Alexia, who is a lively, single, sassy, and sexy coven witch, yet she finds herself and her sex life (or lack of it) the hot topic of her fellow coven sisters after one of the coven’s full moon meetings. Add to the mix the discovery of an old spell and Alexia’s life starts to change very quickly as a spirit named Lance appears. Combine the heat of the full moon and a hint of destiny, and life will never be the same again for Alexia.
I love the team Alexia and Lance make when they clash and get together—so much so I’m currently working on the follow up to Magick Weaved.
I’ve been very lucky with this book as it just got voted to #1 on Goodreads for best short romance fiction and has been climbing in the Amazon.com paid kindle bestseller in the top 100 for drama British and Irish.
Here a little teaser for you all from Magick Weaved on a Samhain Eve.
She didn’t need to open her eyes to know that the spell had worked, as the air within the room had taken on an amazing tingling electric feeling. If that was not enough of a clue for her know that she was no longer in the room, the sudden appearance of a breath touching the back of her neck, and the feeling of a hand running over her bare shoulder, sweeping her hair over to one side, sure as hell did the trick.
Alexia felt like she had been burned by the touch. (There was no longer any doubt in her mind as to whether she would be able to feel her lover’s touch.) The lick and strength of heat the simple touch caused within her body shocked her so much that she would have jumped right off the bed had it not been for the arm that slipped like a snake around her waist, pinning her effectively against a well-defined and toned chest. She pushed back a little, and rubbed herself against it, reacting out of nothing more than pure instinct.
“Stop that now, Alexia, or this first round will before over far too quickly!” a deep male voice growled and purred into her ear.
There was more than a hint of an accent in his lusty voice. It was as sexy as hell, but there were not enough of the little grey cells in Alexia’s head that were still working to work out where it was from.
Goddess, what was up with her? She never melted from the barest of touches, and a few whispered words like this. This was an all consuming rush and need, and not normal for Alexia by any means. Hellfire! She didn’t even know this guy’s name yet. She was not allowed to dwell on that small fact for long.
Cover for Magick Weaved on a Samhain Eve
Author of Magick Weaved
V J Chisholm
Magick Weaved on a Samhain eve on Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com
It’s selling for .77p in the UK and .99 cents in the USA at the time of posting this blog
Links where you can follow V J Chisholm (also sometimes known as VJChisholmbooks) on
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved werewolves. It’s always been one of my guilty pleasures, just without the guilt. My love started when I was eight-years-old when I first saw An American Werewolf In London. I’m man enough to admit when I was little I was terrified of nearly EVERYTHING, but there was something about that movie that just captivated me. The idea that an average, everyday guy could become such a creature was so fascinating to me. I had already been an avid animal lover, and seeing someone turn into one really got to me. It was the first movie where I actually cheered for the monster!
I started looking more into the genre of werewolves. Most of the movies and stories were scary, so I was apprehensive. Being a young boy who was too scared to sleep without Scooby Doo or Gilligan’s Island playing in the background hindered my research quite a bit. Not to mention the media wasn’t as abundant as it is today thanks to the Twilight fad. This was the early 2000’s, so my research didn’t take me far. I read all about werewolves and the early incarnations of the legend, sitting in awe in front of my PC as I read all about these man-creatures that were effected by the full moon. I read the story of Lycaon and his testing of Zeus, cringed at the horrible deal Peter Stumpp made with the Devil, and stayed up all night because of the tale of The Beast of Gévaudan. I was hooked, and slowly my unnatural fear of all things horror-related faded and I became a dedicated “Horrorist” as I like to call it.
I grew to have many passions; karate, boxing, video gaming, comic books, music; but none even came close to my passion for werewolves. Only one thing ever surpassed that passion: writing. So, it was only natural to combine the two things, right? Of course! I attempted hundreds of stories, more than half involving werewolves, the others involving superheroes and vampires and zombies and such. But even with all of these failed projects I never gave up. I continued my study of all things Lycanthrope by watching the movies that have come out during these first years of the 21st century and reading all the books that I deemed “worthy” of my tastes. Even though I love them so much, I don’t just read any werewolf novel that comes out. I’m pretty picky. My guidelines for a werewolf novel have always been strict, and more than once I’ve ignored a New York Times bestseller because it didn’t fit my criteria.
There came a day when my mother, one of the few people who grit their teeth and pretended to be listening politely while I rambled on and on about the full moon beasts, said to me, “If you can’t find any werewolf books that interest you, then why don’t you just write them yourself?”
I remember just staring at her for a second; dumbfounded that such a simple, obvious answer had escaped my grasp. I gave some excuse involving something along the lines of already having tried, and then ran off to my room to think of an idea. After nearly two years of thinking and planning and writing, Dehumanized is now available for all to read!
And I’m happy to say it fits my criteria perfectly.
Michael Loring was born in Bristol, Connecticut, but has lived in a variety of places such as Florida and Tennessee. He likes to think of himself as an amateur Lycanthropologist, studying werewolves ever since he was eight years old when he first saw An American Werewolf In London. He spent most of his life switching between home school and public school, always focusing on his passion of writing no matter what. His interest in writing was sparked in the second grade when his teacher encouraged him to write short stories for the class, earning him more than one award at school assemblies for Creative Writing. He currently resides back in his birthplace of Connecticut with a house full of women who like to drive him up the wall until he finishes his chores. Though they seem to avoid him during the night of the full moon for some unexplainable reason…
Stop by www.MichaelLoring.com to check out the other tour stops;
New guest posts, interviews, excerpts and more!
Check out our review of Dehumanized!
REVIEW BY CASSIE HOFFMAN
DEHUMANIZED by Michael Loring
One bite could change your life forever and that is what happened to Ryan Zachery a nineteen year old young man.
In Dehumanized we meet Ryan Zachery a young man who was bitten and infected by a werewolf. Now Ryan is taken away from everything he knows, and hasn’t seen anything outside the fence surrounding the compound in two years.
When you are bitten you are taken to a rehabilitation center “Werewolf Camp”. No one really knows what it is really like, only the people inside the fence. In reality, it is a prison. Guards think of them as animals and treat them that way. They are mistreated, abused, and not give even a second glance.
Ryan keeps to himself from everyone else. One fight can land you into the “Dungeon” which is a cement room, dark, no windows or light. You are thrown in there naked and have only a bucket to use the restroom in. Ryan has seen that room a few times too many but he keeps finding himself in there.
Ryan finds solace sitting at the fence staring out into the woods, which is his escape from the horror that surrounds him. He has a cellmate name Frederic “Fred” who is a French man. They can’t really communicate because they can’t understand each other. Soon, another person is assigned to their cell and her name is Anna Clark. Anna is a beautiful young woman, who hid what she truly was until they found her.
Getting close to people isn’t a good idea. Ryan tries not to get attached to Fred or Anna because they could be easily taken away from him. Subjects die every day either from mishaps in the lad, lack of nutrition, or getting beat to death by the others or the guards. Ryan tries to keep his distance from his cellmates because if he did get attached and something happen to either one of them, he doesn’t think he could survive it. But, soon he lets his walls come down and let them in. He looks to Fred like a brother. Will his worst fears come true?
Anna and Ryan become closer and closer. Being close to someone and letting others know is asking for trouble so they try to hide it. Ryan has never felt this way for anyone in his life and he finds comfort in Anna.
Ryan struggles with knowing there is a beast in him. He didn’t ask for this and soon he starts having hallucinations. But is he really having hallucinations and is he going crazy? Ryan is in a constant battle of not letting the beast rear its head. He could easily let the beast take over. Does he?
After a lab experiment, something goes wrong. He can remember changing, remembers what happen after the change. Changing is a horrible experience with excruciating pain. He can hear his bones and muscles crunching, spin popping and pressing against the skin on his back. Gums ripping apart, having fangs sharper than some blades. The metamorphosis is soul shattering. Going from logic sense to primal instinct could drive you to insanity.
Thanks to the procedure, Ryan can transform into the wolf when the others only can transform during the full moon. What happen to be able to allow him to do that?
Now that the experiment has allowed Ryan and the beast inside himself to be able to communicate, can they become allies work together and try to escape the prison that has caged them up and tortured them?
Will they escape or will they be captured? Can Ryan and his inner beast live with each other or will one outnumber the other?
I was really fascinated reading this book. It was a totally different take on Lycanthropy. Getting to see how Ryan feels and seeing the inner workings of his change. I was rooting for him the whole time, wanting him to jump over the gate and escape. I’ve read other books about Werewolves but, nothing quite as great as this one. I couldn’t hurry to the next page fast enough and get to the end. The whole book was well written and the characters were fascinating in their own ways. I GIVE IT 5 STARS!!!!
Quotes from the book:
“Everyone is scared to go near you, in fear you’d do the same to them, but I ain’t gonna shiver under my blankets because of you.”
“Your mutation is so unique. We could have learned so much from you, gained so much from you, Mr. Zachery.”
“I think we should bury him, he deserves to be properly buried, like a proper human.”
If you were talked into reading this book, please leave the author a review where you bought it or on Goodreads. Every review helps the author!
Please enjoy this guest post by David Litwack, author of the gripping contemporary novel, Along the Watchtower, and the deep, dark dystopia, There Comes a Prophet. Then read on to learn how you can win huge prizes as part of this blog tour, including a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
The Virtual World of Gaming and the Plight of War Veterans: A Guest Post by David Litwack
Gaming and war would seem to be as far apart from each other as you can get. But while you’re in the midst of them, they share one thing in common—a sense of being in an alternate reality.
I’ve always been fascinated by how much of what we consider to be reality is subjective, how each of us bring our own experiences and biases into play. But when we’re ripped from our normal lives and placed in extreme circumstances, our reality becomes totally fragmented. Such is the case with hospitals and war.
A couple of years ago, I became engrossed in the online game, World of Warcraft, thanks to my son. I’m on the east coast and he’s on the west, so we’d meet every Wednesday evening in the virtual world of Azeroth, where our avatars would go on quests together. I was struck by how immersed I became in the mood of the game as we wandered through castles and crypts, solving riddles and vanquishing demons, how for a short period of time, I could totally buy in to the alternate reality.
The fantasy gaming experience has a dream-like quality to it, which led me to wonder: how would this experience affect the dreams of someone whose reality has been fragmented by the trauma of war? These concepts—war, hospitals, and the fantasy world of online gaming—came together in Along the Watchtower.
I began to research the effects of war on returning veterans. I learned that 30% are diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress. That means after six months they’re still dealing with flashbacks, disturbing dreams, depression and difficulty re-assimilating into their former lives. And that doesn’t account for the many others who are seemingly able to adjust but continue to deal with inner turmoil. The war experience changes all forever. Many have suicidal thoughts (the suicide rate among veterans is triple that of the general population. More soldiers have died by their own hand than in the war itself). Many struggle with dark thoughts and have difficulty forming relationships, unable to “turn off” the normal flight or fight syndrome, leaving them suspicious in crowds and always on alert.
And then, there are the physical injuries. One of the ironic successes of these recent wars is the advance in battlefield medicine. The result is that far fewer die of wounds than in prior wars. The ratio of wounded to dead in WWII was 1.1/1, in Vietnam 1.7/1. In Iraq, it’s 7/1. More are saved, but more come home with debilitating, lifelong injuries. And 68% of the wounded have some form or brain trauma, penetrating injuries from shrapnel or non-penetrating concussions from the blasts of IEDs.
To learn more about brain injuries, I read In an Instant, the story of Bob Woodruff. The brilliant Woodruff had just been named co-anchor of ABC’s World News Tonight. Then, while embedded with the military in Iraq, an improvised explosive device went off near the tank he was riding in. Bob suffered a traumatic brain injury that nearly killed him. The book describes his recovery and recounts how fragile the human brain can be. At one point, the erudite Woodruff could rattle off the names of all prior U.S. presidents but couldn’t remember the names of his own children.
And I read about post traumatic stress. One of the best books is Achilles in Vietnam. Written by Jonathan Shay, a Vietnam War era PTSD counselor, it compares his clinical notes from patients to the text from Homer’s Odyssey, showing how we as human beings have dealt with war trauma across the millennia. He shows how war disrupts our moral compass, leaving re-entry into normal life as a brutal and agonizing experience.
Playing a make-believe fantasy game and going to war both have a surreal quality that takes us out of our normal reality. But for war veterans, the sense of normality doesn’t return without a struggle.
The Wounded Warrior Project is a wonderful organization, dedicated to helping veterans adjust. Their stated mission is: “To foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation’s history.” How successful we’ll be at achieving that goal will tell a lot about who we are. It’s one of the most important stories of our time.
As part of this special promotional extravaganza sponsored by Novel Publicity, both Along the Watchtower and There Comes a Prophet by David Litwack are on sale this week. What’s more, by purchasing either or both of these fantastic books at an incredibly low price, you can enter to win many awesome prizes.
The prizes include a Kindle Fire, $650 in Amazon gift cards, and 5 autographed copies of each book.
All the info you need to win one of these amazing prizes is RIGHT HERE. Remember, winning is as easy as clicking a button or leaving a blog comment–easy to enter; easy to win!
To win the prizes:
- Pick up Along the Watchtower at its discounted price of $2.99 on Amazon
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There Comes a Prophet A thousand years ago the Darkness came—a time of violence and social collapse. Nathaniel has grown up in their world of limits, longing for something more. For what are we without dreams? Get it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or iTunes.
Banksters, politicians, and sinister corporations aren’t afraid of laws or regulators or voters. The only thing they fear is an uprising of the people.
That fear is about to be realized.
The man who now calls himself Thomas Paine lived his entire life by the rules. He went to college, served bravely in combat, raised a family, and paid his taxes. Then his employer went bankrupt, taking his pension and his wife’s medical insurance with it. After her death he’s decided that America needs a Second Bill of Rights, one that he is determined to bring about through an “American Insurgency.”
How many among the desperate and disaffected who see the American Dream turning into the American Nightmare will join him? Can targeted vigilante violence really inspire true political reform and save democracy, or will it just provoke massive government repression, and perhaps even widespread martial law? Is it possible that the insurgency will spawn a successful non-violent third party, or will government seek to squash that as well?
And what about FBI Special Agent Darren Medlin? How far will he go to stop Paine before he draws his own line in the sand? What role will the beautiful young talk show host Crystal Dickerson play? What important decisions will she face, and how will her relationship with Medlin evolve?
Raised in a politically active family, Jess Money majored in Political Science with a minor in Economics. He sold his first magazine article at the age of 16 and has since written everything from ad copy and political mailers to a screenplay for DreamWorks, which earned him membership in the Writers Guild of America. Along the way he had a career in professional motorsports, worked with the U.S. Women’s Olympic Volleyball program, managed two of the entertainment industry’s most acclaimed screenwriting programs, and worked as a bar bouncer when that’s what it took to keep the wolf from the door.
No longer the handsome devil he once was, he decided against posting a picture, even though using an old one might boost sales.
Thanks to Cynthia for inviting me to do this guest post, which is particularly special because, although I’ve had success at many other types of writing, PUBLIC ENEMIES is my first novel, and this is my very first chance to discuss how it came to be.
Although neither paranormal fantasy nor historical romance, PUBLIC ENEMIES shares one thing in common with many books reviewed and discussed here: a young woman caught up in an important struggle. However, Crystal Dickerson, an ambitious but principled young talk show host on a small independent radio station, isn’t struggling with zombies or vampires or paranormal elites. Instead, she’s unexpectedly caught up in an historic struggle for the future of America.
The idea for the book came out of my participation in a citizen’s group fighting overdevelopment in our local community. One night driving home from yet another city council meeting I realized that the developers and their council puppets that run our city didn’t fear anything. Our referendum and initiative petition drives kept forcing public votes, which they kept losing, yet they forged ahead, each time tweaking their plans just enough to force us into another arduous ballot fight or expensive litigation, which they also kept losing. Just as in Washington, nothing seemed to deter them, nothing pried them loose from the grip of special interests. Then I thought, “Well, everybody is afraid of getting shot.”
Of course, in a real world civilized society governed by the rule of law with a functioning judicial system, disgruntled folks can’t just go around knocking off politicians with whom they disagree. But the famous question, “What if?” is the birth mother of fiction. What if a hooker picked up in Hollywood turns out to be someone special, and the guy who did the picking up is really Prince Charming? What if a cute little extraterrestrial accidentally gets stranded in your back yard? Or, what if someone started dishing out vigilante justice to corrupt politicians?”
In a flash the idea for the novel congealed. In Hollywood movie terms it would be DEATH WISH (or DEXTER) meets NETWORK. What if a vigilante set out to administer justice to those so financially powerful and politically connected that they were exempt from the law, beyond the reach of the formal justice system?
The question, “Do the ends justify the means?” always hangs on the perceived merits of whatever the end is. Mere assassinations alone would not be enough to sustain reader interest, or make a plausible case why some portion of a fictional public might embrace this kind of vigilante justice. On the other hand, for years polls have shown that an increasing number of people feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. Naturally, folks differ about exactly what’s wrong and how to fix it, but this still prompted me to examine various reforms that have been suggested to improve our political system.
And thus was born PUBLIC ENEMIES, in which an elusive domestic terrorist using the alias Tom Paine attempts to force enactment of Constitutional amendments he calls “The Second Bill of Rights.” But unlike terrorists who aim for mass casualties, Paine carefully targets only those he considers “the real Public Enemies” — politicians, banksters, lobbyists, and the heads of sinister corporations. By selecting Crystal’s show to communicate his demands, Paine thrusts her into a spotlight she’s not yet fully prepared for, and into conflict with both FBI Agent Darren Medlin, charged with stopping Paine, and entrenched special interests who stand to lose if the proposed amendments are adopted.
Writing the book took a long time, largely because it was hard to explore these complex issues without interrupting the narrative pace or interfering with the emotional connection for the reader. Ultimately the issues shaped the characters, set the stage for crucial decisions each has to make, and provided a terrific vehicle for developing the romantic and professional relationship between Crystal and Agent Medlin. In the end, they become co-co-protagonists. Neither one can succeed or maintain their principles without help from the other.
The professional editor I hired, Hillel Black, called a late draft “fascinating and impressive.” I hope you find the premise intriguing enough to warrant reading, and agree with him when you’re done. I’m particularly interested in what female readers have to say about how Crystal is portrayed, the growth of her character, and how she deals with issues on many different levels. Hopefully I did this well. Of course, I’m also interested in response to the book as a whole.
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Today we have a guest post from author Maggie Thom! Please make her feel welcome and leave comments!
He didn’t commit suicide but who’s going to believe her…
Frustrated at being fired from her latest job and overwhelmed by her consolatory family, Sam decides to move to the family’s cabin at the lake. A place she hasn’t been since her dad committed suicide there twenty years before. Or did he? Snooping is something she’s good at but someone seems to be taking offense to her looking too closely at what has been happening at the lake. What she discovers is shocking. Now she must uncover what’s real and what’s not. All that she learned growing up, may be false. Keegan, who has recently moved to the area to finish his latest book, is also trying to find out if his grandfather, who’d passed away ten years before, died of natural causes or was murdered? The descendants of the four families, who own the land around the lagoon, are dying off. Since Sam and Keegan are the only ones questioning the deaths, they find themselves working together to seek the truth. Are people being murdered? Who would benefit from their deaths? Why would there be barricades and armed guards at the north end of the lake? To stay alive, Sam and Keegan must find the answers and convince others, before more people are killed… including them.
“This is a book that will have you on the edge of your seat. Just when you think the story is over, think again.” Read Your Writes Book Reviews
What the Cover Reveals
By Maggie Thom
Whether you’re book is a paperback or an ebook the book cover is almost as important as the amazing story you’ve written. Some would say that as an ebook it has to be even more enticing and engaging to attract attention through the bombardment of all that is on the internet. People are generally visual and make judgements very fast and move on very quickly, so your book cover needs to grab their attention long enough for them to check out what your novel is about. It is the first impression they have about your book.
Another way to think about the cover is to think of it as the window to your book. So what is the view telling people? If your book is a gentle, cozy kind of book you don’t want fire on the front. The same holds true if you book is about wars or murder. You’re probably not going to have a picture of a beautiful flower on the front, unless it has blood dripping from it or it is gripped in the hands of a dead person. What you put on the cover really needs to reflect what’s inside. People are not only going to determine if they like the cover but whether it is a type of book that they would like to read. So it has to be eye catching but tell a story of its own.
If you’re writing romances than you are more likely to have one or two people on the front. What they are doing and the level of undress can be determined to some degree by how explicit your book is or the depth of the love story.
If you’re writing suspense or mystery, then you want there to be some mystery, some intrigue on the front – maybe a weapon, a dead body, someone hiding.
If you’re writing fantasy than you want something that shows that the people are different or the world is different.
Each genre of book is going to require that there be something a bit different on the cover. It gets a little tricky when your book crosses over several genres but it just may mean you have to include a few more elements on your cover.
Not only does the picture matter but so do the colors. If it is a cozy, warm hearted story than you probably don’t want black or browns or super bright reds or oranges. Softer colors would go with the softer story. If it’s a swashbuckling tale than you are going to want blacks, whites, grays, browns with maybe some splashes of color. So really think about whether your story is dark like horrors or light, like a love story and does it have a happy ending.
There really are a lot of factors to consider in creating your book cover. It needs to entice, to draw people in, to make them curious as to what is inside. Really the front of the book is the packaging. So make it attractive and tempting. Make sure the cover appeals to you but that it is also conveying your story. Ask some of your friends or people who’ve read your book if they feel that the picture goes with the story that you’ve created. There are some amazing book covers out there, make sure yours stands out in the crowd.
What appeals to you on a book cover?
Maggie Thom took the challenge and leapt off, leaving a fulltime, twenty year career in management, to write full time. After her initial panic that she might need a straight jacket, she published her first book Captured Lies, October 2012. And now is excited to release her second novel, Tainted Waters, April, 2013. Her third book, Deceitful Truths (sequel to Captured Lies), available fall of 2013. An avid reader and writer her whole life, she decided to break the monotony of wishing to be an author by making it happen. Married to her best friend, she is learning that humor, love and patience help her navigate her way through her twins’ teen years. Her motto: Escape to read and Read to escape. “Maggie Thom writes a fast paced thriller laced with romance that keeps the reader interested and on edge!” InDtale Magazine
She can be found at:
Jill Elaine Hughes Guest Post
I work full-time as a freelance journalist, and I also have 2 kids, so sometimes writing a novel is something I have to do on the sly. That was certainly the case with ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED. It began its life as a short story that my former literary agent asked me to write for inclusion in a Zombie Romance anthology she was pitching to editors at the time. The anthology sold to a major publishing house, but my story didn’t make the cut. So it just sort of lived a lonely life on my hard drive for a while. I later switched agents, and my new agent encouraged me to expand the short story into three chapters and a book proposal/outline. I did that, but then the “market shifted,” (her words, not mine) and the book proposal didn’t go anywhere. Apparently the main problem with my book idea was the fact that the heroine of the story was 18 and ran into zombies on her first real job out in the adult world. No publishers were buying that sort of zombie story, or so I was told—they wanted big muscular manly heroes, and machine guns, and violent dystopia. That wasn’t my game. So back on the hard drive the manuscript went.
But I was still very attached to my heroine, and my idea for a zombie book that would resonate with readers aged 18-24 who were themselves just starting to make their way in the adult world, and who were probably surprised how different being an adult really is from everything we’re told to expect. I just couldn’t let the idea go. So little by little over a period of about a year, I worked on the book and let the story unfold. I told friends I was having an affair with this book—I had to sneak around between other writing deadlines, dinner with my husband, and taking care of my kids to find time to spend with it—usually an hour or two before bed, maybe twenty minutes over lunch. (Occasionally we’d get a weekend together.) But the book and characters grew and blossomed, and brought me joy. And yet, when the book was finished and I sent it to my new agent, it sat in her queue unread for almost another year.
Why? Same old reason as before—it “didn’t fit any genre.”
Enter the reader-driven New Adult movement and easy self-publishing for the Kindle and other ebook formats. An entire generation of readers who grew up on Harry Potter and Twilight are now new adults, and they’re demanding something to read that fits their tastes. Publishers don’t offer it, but writers do. So one day, I woke up and decided to just put ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED out into the world. My agent actually encouraged me to. And so, here we are. Hello, world! I hope you enjoy this book that I wrote in secret, and built a relationship with, this little book that I could just never give up on!
Information about the Book & Author
ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED: A Katie Allred Novel.
TWILIGHT, but with zombies. No, seriously, it’s an original story. A New Adult zombie adventure fantasy. Book One of the Special Agent Zombie trilogy.
Chicago-based journalist and author Jill Elaine Hughes recently self-published her novel, ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED, a lighthearted-yet-sinister New Adult paranormal adventure fantasy that puts a new spin on the Zombie Apocalypse genre.
A longtime professional journalist and author and a Dayton, OH native, Hughes has written for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Reader, New Art Examiner, the Washington Post, and many other publications and corporate media clients, and she has also published multiple erotica novels under the pen names “Jamaica Layne” and “Jay E. Hughes” with commercial publishers like Ellora’s Cave. One of Hughes’ other New Adult novels, TEMPLAND, is currently among the Top 25 bestselling Coming of Age novels on Amazon.com, alongside other recent breakout titles in the genre like LOSING IT by Cora Carmack and WRECK ME by J.L. Mack.
ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED Summary:
Eighteen-year-old Katie Allred is socially awkward and unpopular at school. The only child of parents who had her right out of high school, Katie is herself about to leave the nest, even though she hardly feels ready.
Katie’s new after-school job at the Zimble Box Corporation draws her into the complex social strata of high school cliques and backstabbing friends in ways she never imagined. Katie soon discovers there’s something very strange about the “in” crowd at school—and about her employer, too. Shortly after starting her new job, the Contagion breaks out, plunging her town and the entire nation into chaos as zombie shadow forces come out into the open, ravaging the streets. Katie goes into hiding and her parents disappear, along with almost everyone else she knows.
But Katie soon discovers she has special powers that help her survive. She’s a Beacon, someone with the innate ability to help zombies produce children. It’s a power her employer — and what little remains of the U.S. government — both want to exploit for their own ends. Not only that, it runs in her family—which has a secret past Katie never knew about until now.
Enter Agent Morehouse of the FBI Special Zombie Control Unit. A reformed zombie working undercover, he suppresses his urge to eat human flesh in order to serve and save humanity. But Agent Morehouse can’t help but be attracted to a Beacon like Katie, and she to him. Even as they fight zombies the world over, they must fight their intense attraction to each other, hoping to keep Katie from suffering Agent Morehouse’s terrible zombie fate.
About the Author:
After many years of writing professionally and commercially publishing novels under pseudonyms, Ms. Hughes self-published ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED and two other other New Adult novels (TEMPLAND and DOMINO) under her own name given the current boom in self-published New Adult fiction. In addition to her fiction and journalism pursuits, Ms. Hughes is also a playwright whose works have been staged in New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, Chicago, Atlanta, Australia, and the United Kingdom, as well as high schools and colleges throughout the United States. Like her New Adult fiction, her plays also appeal to the youth and student markets.
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JILL HAS OFFERED ONE E-COPY OF WINNER’S CHOICE IN FORMAT OF ZOMBIE, INCORPORATED FOR GIVEAWAY! TO ENTER THIS GIVEAWAY, ASK JILL A QUESTION. IT CAN BE ABOUT HER BOOKS, WRITING…OR ANYTHING THAT MAKES YOU CURIOUS.