Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Hunt is on!!!

The best part about the small press and Indie writing scene is that everybody reaches out to give each other a hand when the requests go out. It does not always have to fit into that niche genre that you are known you see here. I certainly would not be considered a writer of romance, but that matters not a whit. If you are not willing to cross so-called borders you might be overlooked. So, it is my pleasure to be part of The Heart of the Hunter scavenger hunt.

Title:  The Heart of the Hunter
Author: Natalie-Nicole Bates
Published: December 2013
Publisher: Gypsy Angel Books
Word Count: 54,000
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Content Warning: Contains heavy adult situations and themes.
Recommended Age:  18+
Synopsis: After a devastating accident, Barret Atkins has accepted a quiet, solitary existence. His life is turned upside down, when he finds the badly injured Kansas Smith, left for dead in a case of mistaken identity. As Kansas begins to recover, Barret must face some deep scars of his own. When the couple begin to fall for each other, their lives spin into a revival of past hurts, jealousies, and betrayals, causing Barret to put a halt to their budding relationship. Barret’s hesitation causes his best friend-turned vicious rival, Duncan Craig, to pursue a friendship with Kansas. Where will this leave Barret? Can they all hold on long enough to escape Kansas’s attacker, and will they ever conquer their own inner demons intent on keeping them apart?

~ About the Author ~

Natalie-Nicole Bates is a book reviewer and author.

Her passions in life include books and hockey along with Victorian and Edwardian era photography and antique poison bottles. Natalie contributes her
uncharacteristic love of hockey to being born in Russia.

She currently resides in the UK where she is working on her next book and adding to her collection of 19th century post-mortem photos.

Excerpt from The Heart of the Hunter by Natalie-Nicole Bates:
“So, what’s it like to be married to a rock star?”
Kansas heard this question so many times during her ten year marriage to Quinn that it now caused her head to ache. She didn’t want to talk about her ex-husband with Barret. Still, she knew a lot of people were _______ about marriage to a celebrity.
“Ex, Barret, ex. Quinn isn’t my husband any longer. But to answer your question, Barret, I’ve known Quinn since I was ten years old. When he was Sean Marshall, an ________ person, long before he ever became Quinn Michaels.”
The resentment was evident in her voice. She didn’t want him to think she lived some fairy tale existence with Quinn. In the end, Quinn was just a man with many foibles who was admired by millions _______ of a pretty face and a beautiful voice. Attributes that Quinn took full _________ of.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to pry. It’s just…I’ve wondered why…” he hesitated.
She knew what he was getting at. “______ not prying, Barret. If you want to know why Quinn and I are no longer married, just ask.”
“Kansas,” he touched her cheek, “you are the sweetest, most beautiful woman I’ve ever known, and after his ________ visit here, I can tell Quinn still loves you.”
There was such a soft look in his blue eyes, and once again, Kansas couldn’t __________ why Barret thought nothing more of her than just a surrogate little sister. Didn’t he realize how good they could be together?
“Be that as it may, Barret, Quinn and I will never again be a couple,” she said firmly. “Once a cheater, always a cheater. I __________ the articles in the weekly rags, and the chatter on the internet for a very long time. But when Lynsey Reznor came into his life, I knew I had to get out with what little dignity I still had.”
He cocked his head. “Lynsey Reznor? That name is so familiar.”
“She’s a very __________ true-crime writer from Miami. You can’t walk past a bookstore or watch the Crime Central channel without seeing her.”
Barret averted his eyes. “Oh, that Lynsey Reznor.”
“I can’t hate her too much, though. Apparently she was as ________ to my existence, as I was to hers. She dumped Quinn when she _____ out he was married.”
He shook his head. “Men like your ex-husband give all men a bad name. If we were married, you never would have to worry that I would give a woman a ______ look. I’m loyal to a fault.”
If only, she thought.
“Well, if anything came out of it, you must be pretty well financially set after your divorce.”
For a ______, she considered lying to him, pretend to be a broken little divorcee. But in an instant, she knew she wanted to keep her relationship with Barret honest.
“My financial settlement with Quinn is public knowledge. For ten years, I receive a certain percentage of his previous year’s earnings. If I remarry, all financial support ends.”
Barret let out a low whistle _____ his breath. “I guess you won’t be getting remarried anytime soon—not for the next years, at least.”
Anger sparked inside her. “Do you really think I’m that shallow? That all I’m _________ with is a never ending tap of cash?” she snapped. “Contrary to your belief, I look _______ to marrying a man who doesn’t need mass love to feed his enormous ego. I want a home in the suburbs and a garden full of children.
_______, even if I was all about the money, one of these days Quinn will fall out of favor with his fans, and the money will dry up.”
She felt the need to not mention that even if she never saw another penny from Quinn, she would never be poor.
Kansas didn’t want to talk any more about money. To her, it didn’t matter what either of them had, if they were only ________. Even though his kisses were frequent, and his touches lingered longer on her skin, it was becoming clearer to Kansas with each passing day that she was deluding herself with the belief that she and Barret would have a _______ ever after together. Still, she would stubbornly cling to the small ____ until Barret once and for all, told her to her face that there would never be anything more between them than good friends.
Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
·         Grand Prize: $20 Amazon Gift Card
Two Runner Ups: $5 Amazon Gift Card 

And, all you happy scavengers, it will help you to know that you can hop to the other participants by clicking on the links below:

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DEAD: Darkness Before Dawn is just about here. The newest chapter in the DEAD saga is almost ready for release. I have never been so nervous prior to a book's release. This one is different...let me tell you why.

It is no secret to fans of the series that this baby is slated for 12 books, but here is a peek behind the curtain such as it is. When I write, there is a formula. You already know that there is the three chapter rotation between Billy/Steve--Geeks--Vignettes. Each has 6 chapters per book for a total of 18 chapters each. Also, the tale is told in three book arcs. I try to make sure and provide closure for main story issues with each third book in the series. That means that the middle book of each arc sort of gives you that "Empire Strikes Back" feeling. I mean, I was one of the kids who stood in line for the premier of the second and third installments for original Star Wars movies. How the heck could Lucas do that to us? We are left with Han having been captured and frozen and Luke discovering who his father was in that oft-parodied "I am your father!" moment. And what the heck was Yoda saying..."There is another?" Say What!

So yes, I know the felling of being taken to the edge of a cliff and then dangled over it. This chapter in the DEAD series is probably the biggest batch of Cliffhangers I have ever left readers with. It is a big risk, but at this point in the series, I have to hope that the reader is vested enough to see this as a thrilling moment and not be disappointed.

So here is another secret. My target length for each chapter is around 6,000 words. That gives you about 108,000 words per book. As I begin book 9, I am preparing for that final three book arc. Here is where it gets tricky; obviously these stories could go on forever.  I don't think that is fair to you, the readers. Although I am in the development stages of the DEAD: Snapshot series which will be single books having a start-to-finish story that may or may not have "guest appearances" by characters you know and love...or hate. Book 9 has chapter targets of 10,000 words. Yep, this baby will come in at around 180,000 words. THAT IS A BIG BOOK! But it has to have everything in place for the final drive.

So, please return your tray tables to the upright position...we are set for takeoff. Keep your eyes on my Facebook Author page for word of the release and availability.

Monday, January 27, 2014

The culture of cowardice...blame social media.

Okay, I am in my late 40s, so I may just be turning into that old man yelling at kids to stay off his lawn, but honestly, I think that the social media is turning society into selfish drones who spout off an overabundance of hatred and vitriol.

Back "in the day" if you ran your mouth enough, somebody would eventually come along and smack it shut. These days, most people sit safely ensconced behind a keyboard where they can pound away in relative anonymity. This has built a sense of false security for far too many people who, if face-to-face with the people that they so easily deride and talk trash about, would sit in a corner with their mouths shut tight.

Perhaps you have heard about it, or perhaps not. A good example is the "Richard Sherman" situation. He sent his team to the Super Bowl with a tipped pass that was intercepted by a team mate. He did this in coverage against a person who he does not care for, but still went up to post game/play and gave him a pat. Now, maybe he said "good game" or maybe he said something inflammatory. The end result was he got shoved in the face by that player. Seconds later, the sideline reporter shoved a microphone in Sherman's face. Now, if you have never been part of a physical sport like football, you have no idea what goes on, what is said DURING the game. There is a degree of intimidation and verbal sparring that takes place. You are jacked up...especially if you just beat your most hated rival in a game that gives you a chance to play in the biggest sporting event in the world. So, yeah, Sherman was at full volume and had words for his opponent. What followed was an embarrassment as people took to the social media to sling racial slurs and talk about something that they know nothing about.

And it happens all the time. Cyber bullying has caused children to end their lives. Review sites are now awash with "trolls" whose sole purpose is to spew negativity (often at the behest of a rival author who feels threatened). People prowl the social media searching for somebody to knock down because they know they are safe from a good, old-fashioned ass kicking. And while I am not trying to promote physical violence as a response to words...I do believe that people have simply become too accustomed to being able to hide behind their keyboards and say whatever they feel like.

My advice, imagine those words you are slinging being said to your son, daughter, husband, or wife. And if it still does not bother you, then you are probably a sociopath and think it is okay to torture animals...

Friday, January 24, 2014

Something that could lead to you getting in trouble at work...

Okay, I have something kind of groovy to share with you, but first I wanted to share how my day began. My Spartan Workout of the Day (WOD) is a recovery day that called for a walk, so Denise and I leashed the pups and took them out. Of course they love that sort of thing. Now my dog...Aoife, she is excellent on her leash, so well behaved, no pulling...

However, Denise's little guy wants to be a sled dog. He gives her quite a workout on these little jaunts. However, he has also started Flyball training. (Google it if you have not seen is a blast for the doggies!) He is a natural and they both come home from practice just beaming. 

Anyways, we get home and my daughter Ronni had texted me to ask if I was up. I replied that I was and my phone rang. She is reading Zomblog! She loves it, loves Meredith...and is surprised at how good it is. And it struck me...your family sees you as "just dad" or "just big brother" or whatever. They are not usually your fans and half the time don't see what all the fuss is about. Today, my daughter became a fan of my writing! Today was a good day.

And now for the part that can get you into I said the other day, people send me some pretty cool stuff. Now I admit, I love opening a box from UPS or Mr. Postman (especially the two times that I found a head inside! Seriously!), but there are other things that get sent to me that are equally groovy. So, have fun with this next bit..just don't get in trouble with the boss.

Have fun...

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

People send me the strangest things...SO COOL!!!

I love some of the quirky and fun things that I have received. Sometimes, they have daily use (like marmalade) and sometimes they are just to be admired (like my two life-size zombie heads sitting at my desk). Whatever the case, I always appreciate it and never know how to express what i consider appropriate gratitude. Seriously, 'thank you' seems so lame when people do such wonderful things out of nothing more than the goodness of their heart. Dr. Who memorabilia, KISS trinkets and Cookie Monster are mixed in with all my zombie stuff and surround me while I write.

But sometimes, somebody sends me something that is nothing more than a link to a video...and they tell me that all they could think of was something that I wrote when they see this. It is hard to explain, but as a writer, the hope is that I can create something that will stick. I don't want my stuff to just be data dumped from memory when you pick up the next book. (Yep, that is a writer's ego...welcome to it!)

The other day I got a note from a reader saying simply, "I have no idea if you've ever seen this video or not, but when I think of the littlest zombie children I picture some of these little terrors...that's not a bird they're playing with/eating.  It's an angel.  Hope you like it!"

So...enjoy. Let me share just one of the reasons I feel so lucky. People email me things like THIS!!! And then say it made them think of something that I wrote!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Football hangover...and a possible 'hair of the dog' solution.

I will say it here and publicly, yesterday's game between my beloved Seattle Seahawks and the hated 49ers was POORLY officiated. And I am still cringing at the injury to Bowman... However, the officials did not tip that last second touchdown attempt and cause the game ending interception...that was Richard Sherman, #25...and member of the LEGION OF BOOM...and Marshawn Lynch went into BEAST MODE to gash the Niner D for over a hundred yards rushing. 

And with Seattle Seahawks are going to Super Bowl XLVIII against Peyton and the Broncos. You can bet that I will be on the edge of my seat on February 2nd. It is no doubt that I love my Hawks...but once the big game is over...what will I do?


For years I have ignored the why would I give it a look now? Simple...Portland has a team. Enter the Portland Thunder. As season ticket holders, Denise and I will be in on the inaugural season...and I will be bringing my Seahawk fan mindset to support the new home team. 

Stay tuned.  And now, I have work to do as I bring a new Ava adventure to life before embarking on the 9th DEAD (which will be almost TWICE the length of the others!).

Friday, January 17, 2014

All star horror line up prepares to battle CANCER! How can you help?

And they even have their Cancer Awareness Ribbons!

I am proud to announce that the all-for-charity anthology is almost done. With a fantastic crew of talented authors who contributed their work completely free of charge (not even contributor copies, folks!) and a cover artist who donated his amazing work to bind them all together, This anthology promises to be something special.

To be clear, EVERY SINGLE PENNY generated by sales of this anthology will be donated in a quarterly check to the V Foundation for Cancer Research. MDP will send the check in the name of all the fine contributors basically until the end of time. 

It is with great pride that I present to you the table of contents:

Z Children                      Eli Constant
Of the Dead                    Alyn Day
Memories                        Heath Stallcup
Project Arizona              Gregory Carrico
Just Life                          T. Fox Dunham
Choices                           Claire Riley
Dying Days Mortality      Armand Rosamilia
Gift Wrapped Box            Catie Rhodes
Tunnel                              J. Thorn
One Lonely Night             Chantal Boudreau
Sweet Release                   Mark Tufo
Uncle                                Michael McFarland
The Legacy                       Julianne Snow
The Judas Contingent      Blaze McRob
My Name is Charles         TW Brown
Survival                            Rhonda Hopkins

Now, if you just can't wait, and you want to give the wonderful people of the V Foundation a little dough, then by all means, click on their link and give. If nothing else, go take a look at what they are doing. To quote Dick Vitale..."They're awesome, baby!"

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

I may have lost my mind.

Yep, it might actually be official. 

As many of you may know, I have started on my journey to be in this year's Spartan Race. This is not just the "normal" obstacle course laden 5K. The folks who run these take it pretty serious. To that end, I have started my own training program. The good people of the Spartan Race know that it is tough, so they offer to send you a WOD (workout of the day) as well as offer up a variety of 30 Day Challenges. (Currently it is a nice "easy" mile a day run.

Next month, I will be getting a chance to see just what I am facing and how far I have to go in order to be ready. I will be attending an official Spartan Race workout. "What is that?" you may be asking. Well...I just happen to have a little snippet of video to share:

So there it is. If you have been wondering just what it is that I have gotten myself in to...there you have it. Feel free to comment.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Is a "thank you" so difficult?

If all goes well, I hope to have some really cool stuff to say about our upcoming All-for-charity anthology later this week. However, today I wanted to talk about something that YOU, the writer types who are out there, can do to make a difference to the people who pay your bills. Yep, I am talking about the readers.

Now, I will absolutely not be the person to take credit for starting this, but I would like to be one of the individuals who perhaps starts a wee bit of a "politeness" movement. So, there is no disputing that we writers LOVE reading reviews that tell us how amazing our stuff is and that we are the greatest thing since sliced bread. That is a given.

Some of us even enjoy seeing what worked and what did not. We can divorce ourselves from the ego long enough to see a well-constructed review that points out a few chinks in our armor. After all, that is how we improve.

However, after you have checked your newest reviews and shared the good parts of the best ones with friends, family, and loved ones...I have a suggestion. Take your finger off that mouse and do not just click away to the nether worlds of Facebook and the like. How about this: hit the "comment" button and leave a little note of thanks. After all, they went through all the time and trouble of leaving you a review (which we all crave and want more of). How difficult is it to just leave a comment thanking the individual for taking the time to review your work? It's just a tiny moment of courtesy, but it could lead to fans who feel connected to you like never before. 

I actually had one such person send me an email that expressed hope that it was me and not some member of my staff! Okay...stop laughing, it wasn't that funny. But seriously, as somebody who worked in radio, I discovered that it was not the glamorous life portrayed on WKRP in Cincinnati. The fact is, many of our readers do not differentiate between us and the likes of King and Koontz. We do what we do and think nothing of it because it is simply no big deal to us. We know all of our flaws and failures, but to the daily reader who found you by chance, you are an AUTHOR! Now, imagine some of the authors that you admire and picture what getting a "thank you" from one of them might feel like. Yeah...see what I mean?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Time to reveal a secret...and make a point.

So, in case you missed out, I made an announcement yesterday. In March (provided no unseen obstacles arise) I will begin a series of courses to become a certified copy editor. The course series is offered by UCSD (University of California in San Diego) and has some very nice write ups as I did my research to select the school I would be attending. 

So why now? Some of you may be asking. Well, I will put it like this: just because a person knows the basics of how to work on your car does not make him or her a mechanic. I have been editing for several years...and I can CALL myself an editor. However, no matter how I look at it, I am really just a guy who knows enough to get by. I want to be a professional, and that means that I need to have the education beyond my Associate's Degree and a few select courses in writing and basic English sentence structure. I am never happy with settling for "just good enough".

The indie scene is constantly under fire for shoddy material. There are hundreds of people out there who call themselves editors, and some of them are pretty good. However, just because I shimmy and shake while my music is playing...that does NOT make me a dancer. People have gotten comfortable with claiming things and giving themselves titles. Maybe that has something to do with how everybody gets a "participant" trophy these days. It has fallen out of fashion to say that somebody failed. The reality is that we all fail...perhaps daily. Somewhere along the line, it stopped being okay to say so. And Heaven forbid if we call somebody on being wrong. Well, then we are just being mean. Everything is sugar coated because we don't want to hurt another person's feelings. I got news for you, not everybody deserves a trophy. Being good at something takes work, you don't get to simply speak it into existence.

So, wish me luck.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A whole new pain.

I am no stranger to working out. I have burned through more than my fair share of workout partners (many half my age) because of the intensity of some of my favorite programs. With names like "911 Squat Routine" and "The full body 3 by 20 by 10", when I workout, I am not there to socialize or share stories. I am there to work out...PERIOD.

On January 1st I started the Spartan WOD (workout of the day) in preparation for the Spartan Run in August. Now I am a cold iron plate kind of guy. Toss 'em on the bar and let's get busy. I hate running. Those three words are such an understatement. And forget timing me...unless you bring a calendar or a sundial. Stop watches are stupid.

Each day, I get an email telling me what my workout will be. For instance, on Sunday...I opened this little nightmare:

Dynamic warm-up – each movement x2 at 25 yards each:
High knee walk, high knee jog, butt kickers, lateral shuffle, straight leg march, skip, straight leg skip

Main Set:
Run/Jog/Walk 15 minutes

Perform 1 minute of each exercise, with 10 second rest between:
  • push-ups
  • crunches
  • pull-ups
  • plank
  • squat jumps
  • jump rope (fast)
  • mountain climbers
  • flutter kicks
  • arm curls with sandbag
  • 1-minute rest

Perform strength exercise sequence 1-3 times.

Run/Jog/Walk 15 minutes

Now let me just tell you that pull ups and I DO NOT jive. I made a pact with gravity a long time ago. I promised not to break its laws and it promised not to stop working and let me hurl off the face of the planet and end up in outer space. My "sets" consist of doing a couple, then having to just hang there like an overripe grape.

I am used to the first few days of a new routine causing muscles to hurt...but never in my life had I reached a point where picking up a glass of water caused my lats to fail and for my arm to shake like Michael J. Fox on a six pack of Red Bulls. (And before you get all wincy about that line, he tells even better jokes about his condition and is actually quite good in his new sitcom.)

Happy New Year, everybody. And how are your resolutions coming?

Monday, January 6, 2014

A new year starts with giving back a few things.

I hope that you all had a great and festive holiday season. I was fortunate to be able to take a few days and just unwind my brain. I realized that I had not taken a single day off since just after the July 4th holiday. Between writing and editing, I have been nose to the grindstone.

Well, vacation is over. My three top priorities are to get the new DEAD edited and out at the end of the month, edit Heath Stallcup's new Monster Squad novel (if you have not read them, I highly recommend this is a blast!), and do final edits on an upcoming anthology that will have all proceeds going to The V Foundation (for cancer research) in a quarterly check in the name of all who contributed.

This is where my "calling out" will be, and I promise to keep it brief. I did have one friend who had some very personal and tragic events occur that made participation in this event impossible, but she actually took the time in all the chaos to let me know she just would not be able to send in a story. However, there were about a half dozen contributors who just vanished. No reply to follow up common courtesy. I don't really care if you can't make it, the project will still be wonderful, but to lack common courtesy...well, like my grandfather always said, "BE careful about the asses you kick on the way'll be kissing them on the way down."

Anyway, back to work...have a great day!