It’s time for the Coffin Hop! Get your free short #zombie story here!

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It’s that time of year again. Time for something scary. How does a free Zombie Bedtime Story sound?

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That’s right! Part 1 of the Zombie Bedtime Stories, Locked In, is free on Kindle October 25, 26, 28, 29 and 30! Tell your friends and family.

 

Now… for the real giveaway. You’ve got part 1. Want the rest? I’ve made this really nifty Rafflecopter giveaway. Sadly, WordPress and scripts don’t get along, so here’s a handy link.

Once you’ve had your fill, just head on back to the Coffin Hop. There’s tons of authors that are dying to meet you.

 

#indieBP Writing, Social Media, and Networking Tips

I’m going to mash the last two posts into one giant post, because there’s a lot of overlap and I’ve been busy this week.

Things I’d wished I’d known when I started writing:

This boils down to two items.

1. Passive voice. I started out writing papers in university, where the passive voice is used extensively. Coincidentally, it was the first thing to go in my creative writing efforts.

2. Show and Tell: Everyone needs to look this up if they don’t already know it. Don’t tell the reader what’s going on. Show it. Animate your characters, set a scene, describe things. When writing takes on a cinematic quality, the story comes to life.

Almost everything else boils down to World War Comma. Commas are mean jerks that will screw up your sentences. Do your research.

Now, for social media and networking:

I’m big on Twitter and Facebook. I’ve never tried Pinterest and I stay away from Goodreads. Working a full-time job, I need to prioritize. I’ve noticed great results with Facebook and Twitter, so that’s where I put my time in.

Here’s the list of DOs:

1. Do engage. Talk to people. They talk back, they’ll retweet your stuff, talk you up to their friends and just be plain awesome if you’re fun to talk to.

2. Keep it (mostly) relevant. Some personal stuff adds flavor and connection. On that note, keep it positive.

3. Set a schedule. This can be with a tweet scheduler, or just a time of day that you log in. Try to do a little bit every day, even if it’s just a short progress report. You’re building a brand, and for that you need constant exposure.

4. Learn how to use social media. Read about the platform and its tools. Figure out if there are any communities or tweet chats that are worth joining.

And some DON’Ts:

1. Don’t spam. If I memorize someone’s tweets, I drop them. I’ve read that 90% content, 10% obvious self-promotion is the way to go.

2. Don’t whine. Life sucks, but if you want to be a professional then don’t habitually bleed all over social media. Doubly so about book sales. Remember, you’re awesome, your life is awesome, everything is awesome. (Especially your book.)

3. If you must tweet excerpts, don’t shorten words into textspeak. Also, make sure said blurb makes sense. When I skim my twitter feed, half of the quotes I read get an “ooookaaaaay…?” reaction. Don’t be that guy. Make sense.

4. Don’t get into fights with reviewers. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t like your book. Thank them and find more reviewers.

5. Don’t mistake social media time for “work.” You’re not working if you’re spending all of your free time on twitter. Social media has diminishing returns. Unless you’re in a tweet chat or event, there is little to gain in spending more than 15-30 minutes at a time on social media. The best way to promote your book is to write more books.

My top 5 books #IndieBP

I heard a rumor that you want to know what my top 5 books are. As always, I’m very happy to oblige!

I’m going to take it from the top.

1. Dune (Frank Herbert)

Dune will always occupy the top spot on this list. I read Dune for the first time when I was 14. It changed my life. The complex universe, storyline, and beauty of omniscient storytelling sucked me in. I’ve read almost everything by Herbert, and I scour used book stores to find his out of print books. What an imagination!

2. Ender’s Game (Orson Scott Card)

Say what you will about Card, but Ender’s Game is amazing science fiction. It’s also a complete head trip. Technically, I enjoyed Ender’s Shadow more, but they’re the same book written from different character’s perspectives.

3. Crime and Punishment (Fyodor Dostoyevsky)

I’ve read this book three times since I was 13. Every time, the story becomes more elevant to my day-to-day life. The book is intense, and forces strong emotions from the reader. Dostoyevsky is a master of writing madness and humanity into his characters. He can drive you into a depression in a paragraph. There’s a reason I call the months I read him “Dostoyevsky Benders.”

I also tend to want to punch his characters in the face. Raskolnikov and the “Underground Man” are utterly insufferable.

4. Wizard’s First Rule (Terry Goodkind)

The first book of the Sword of Truth series blew me away. Neglecting the baggage of the rest of the series, it’s a great read.

5. The Silence of the Lambs (Thomas Harris)

The book is much better than the movie. Dark yet funny. Poignant and charming. It’s an experience. Hannibal (the sequel) would make my top 10, and it’s infinitely better than the movie as well.

Indie Block Party: Want to know what Thea reads?

You did ask, after all.

I’m reading the Iliad, the epic poem written by Homer a long time ago. It’s the story of the Trojan War. Here’s a blurb I found in the Dover edition:

Epic masterpiece chronicles last days of the Trojan War — quarrel of Achilles and Agamemnon, the battle for Helen of Troy, Greek siege of the city, Trojan counterattack, stratagem of the Trojan Horse, many other events. Vast in scope, fresh and noble in literary style. This edition reproduces the celebrated Samuel Butler prose translation.

Now, as for how I discovered the Iliad (and the Odyssey), do I have a story for you. It’s in a way the story of my early life, and how I came to be fascinated by stories and storytelling.

When I was eight, my mum introduced me to Greek Mythology. She gave me two books–children’s editions of the Greek Myths, and an illustrated, simplified version of The Iliad and the Odyssey. She read these books to me every night before bed, until I had them memorized. If I close my eyes, I can still see the pictures and hear the words.

But, I loved the Iliad and the Odyssey. As an adult, I was browsing through Kindle’s extensive selection of free classics, and found them both. I had to do it. I felt compelled to read the entire thing as it was written. Without learning ancient Greek, anyhow. I’m only willing to go so far.

I’m about 20% into the Iliad. It’s brutal. Wordy, complicated. Many characters named, only to fall in the next verse. Often, by being speared in the groin. Random. But, I’m fascinated by classics, especially in translation. I find that I focus more on how the words fall together, and how the vocabulary works. The Iliad paints vivid pictures, and there is incredible characterization for the main characters (The Atredes (not to be confused with House Atreides from Dune), Odysseus, Nestor, Hector, Achilles.) Every word has a purpose, and no space is wasted on telling rather than showing.

I tend to intersperse modern (post 1940s) books with classics. I need to keep my mind on language. Reading is studying for writing. A few months ago, I came to the conclusion that discomfort is good–it’s the side-effect of challenge. Challenge brings improvement. Thusly, I’m getting demolished by the Iliad, but every day I read it, I understand something else about literature. Some new truth. A new appreciation for the timelessness of literature. Some months, I go on Dostoyevsky benders. But, once I come out of it, I know a little more than I did before about language.

I’m actually starting to get into the Iliad. Scary, no? I’m a bit excited for The Odyssey. It was always my favorite of the two.

 

Introducing the latest Zombie Bedtime Story: Bedlam #IndieBP

I have a very special project that I’d like to share with you. My most advanced work in progress is named Bedlam. It’s the fourth part of my bloody and unique Zombie Bedtime Stories. It’s been almost two years in the making, and it finally is making its debut on August 22, 2013. That’s in 3 days.

Let’s roll that cover:

Bedlam cover

Bedlam cover

The idea for Bedlam came to me when I was fleshing out the overall plotline of the Zombie Bedtime Stories. I didn’t just want to write a ton of random zombie shorts. I wanted a persistent, shared universe with recurring characters and a beginning, end and middle point. I mostly pants the stories, with unexpected (and hilarious) results. I know one or two things that have to happen, and I make the rest up as I go along. I’ve tried making outlines, but I ignore them because I’m a force of chaos.

Bedlam marks the end of the beginning. It’s the last story where a new character is introduced, and contains the last pieces of worldbuilding. Now, the stage has been set and we know (or have heard of) all the players. There are 8 total stories planned for ZBS, and a novel to finish it off. I’m hoping to have it all wrapped up sometime during 2015.

I always try give something of myself to my writing. In this case, Samantha was bullied mercilessly as a child, much like I was. We share a love of running, and both want to do what’s right. The story itself is as much about Samantha’s inner struggles and doubts as it is about the zombies. I wanted to put a human angle into a character in an inhuman, savage situation.

Now, for the blurb:

Corporal Samantha Henderson is a member of the Peacemakers—an organization devoted to putting down the riots that plague their nation’s cities. When what starts out as routine guard duty at an elementary school quickly turns bizarre and bloody, Samantha finds that her life is turned upside down.

Citizens have gone into a berserk killing frenzy, dismembering her comrades with ease. Samantha is the only soldier who makes it back to base alive. With her friends missing and only Captain Remus McIntyre for guidance, can Samantha survive the zombie apocalypse? More importantly, can she protect the weak from their enemies—human or otherwise?

Want more? I’ve got a first paragraph for you, too!

“I want my Mommy.” The girl clinging to Corporal Samantha Henderson’s hand choked back sobs, and looked up at her. She couldn’t be more than seven, and her pale blue eyes were bloodshot and brimming with tears. Samantha had been part of a squad assigned to evacuate this large inner city elementary school. She didn’t know if they were going to escape before the rioters closed in, but Samantha was determined to do her duty and get as many kids out as possible. The school was a decaying, squalid building—a leftover relic of the baby boom nearly a century before. The grey hallway dragged on ahead of them, only punctuated by the shadows of closed classroom doors and the occasional splash of children’s art projects. Samantha sucked in a deep breath as she enjoyed hearing the pounding of her boots on the cold granite floor. The echoes gave her the illusion of power and control, when in reality her stomach gnawed around the chill of uncertainty.

Indie Block Party Introductions: Come meet Thea!

I’m taking part in a sweet blog hop called the Indie Block Party. This should be an excellent way to get this blog revitalized.

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The first post is a means of introducing myself. I’m pretty awesome. Post done.

 

Just kidding!

I’ve been writing for three years. I got my start writing movie, music, and theater reviews for a local blog. The editor took a sadistic joy in giving me the more unpleasant assignments. In the end, this gave me the gumption to work on my own creations. If utter crap can make it, then why can’t I?

I started writing mostly because I started having really awesome story ideas. I couldn’t ignore them, or get them out of my head. So, I wrote them down and people seemed to enjoy the results. My favorite genre is science fiction, but I really do love horror and fantasy as well. Speculative fiction is the best way to depict the extreme positives and negatives of human potential. By going outside of our world, we learn more about ourselves and the human condition that we can without the forced change in perspective.

This blog is about my journey as a writer. It has my triumphs, my challenges and everything in between. There’s a great deal of everything, and I try to keep it on topic. When I’m not writing, I’m at my day job, jogging, sleeping, pacing, or practicing my driving. I just got my first car, and I’m working on my standard driving skills. It’s totally awesome.

On sale – #steampunk novel Nefertiti’s Heart by AW Exley!

I’m helping with a little bit of cross-promotion for the big sale that my publisher is having! Today’s post is Nefertiti’s Heart, by A. W.Exley. If (like me) you’re interested in steampunk, then don’t miss this one!

Not convinced? Read more (and buy Sanity Vacuum, already.)

Get lucky with Sanity Vacuum!

Get lucky with Sanity Vacuum!

Cara Devon has always suffered curiosity and impetuousness, but tangling with a serial killer mightcure that. Permanently.

London, 1861. Impoverished noble Cara has a simple mission after the strange death of her father- sell off his damnedcollection of priceless artifacts. Her plan goes awry when aristocratic beautiesstart dying of broken hearts, an eight inch long brass key hammered through their chests. A killerhunts amongst the nobility, searching for a regal beauty and an ancient Egyptian relic rumored tohold the key to immortality.

Her Majesty’s Enforcers are in pursuit of the murderer and they see a connection between thegruesome deaths and Cara. So does she, somewhere in London her father hid Nefertiti’s Heart, a fistsized diamond with strange mechanical workings. Adding further complication to her life, notoriouscrime lord, Viscount Nathaniel Lyons is relentless in his desire to lay his hands on Cara and thepriceless artifact. If only she could figure out his motive.

Self-preservation fuels Cara’s search for the gem. In a society where everyone wears a mask to hidetheir true intent, she needs to figure out who to trust, before she makes a fatal mistake.

Author Bio:

Books and writing have always been an enormous part of Anita’s life. She survived school byhiding out in the library, with several thousand fictional characters for company. At university, sheovercame the boredom of studying accountancy by squeezing in Egyptology papers and learning toread hieroglyphics.

Today, Anita is a writer living in rural New Zealand, surrounded by horses and homicidal chickens.Being a bona fide corset wearing, sidesaddle riding freak, probably explains her fascination forhistorical novels 🙂 She loves to blend steampunk adventures with an Egyptian twist and turn up theheat.