Thursday, April 30, 2015

Do you really want a zombie apocalypse? I doubt it.

Book 11, DEAD: Blood & Betrayal is now out for the masses. This is the book that sets up the finale, DEAD: End which is due out this October. I will freely admit that this entry is about the length of DEAD: Revelations--up to this point, the shortest of my DEAD novels. Still a decent length, but not nearly as epic as DEAD: Spring which came in at over 125,000 words. (Novel length is considered anything over 50,000 which is around where most of my Ava books fall.) I always try to get around 100,000 words per book. I just feel that is a good number and very respectable considering some of the offerings out there. I don't pad my pages with large print or 1.5 spacing between lines. All that said, I anticipate the finale to be the biggest book of the series. I have visions of hitting the 200K word mark, but that will remain to be seen.

I hope that you enjoy this latest offering, and I look forward eagerly to your reviews. For me, that is perhaps as exciting as turning to that first page in a new book is for you.

Now, to the meat of today's post.

We all love the zombie genre. And many times I have been pulled in to the "what if" conversation. Honestly, I think it would be far worse than anything I can put on paper. If people think that I push the edges of human depravity on paper, then imagine the absolute elimination of law and order. I often get attacked for depicting certain things. (I still get hate mail and even a few death threats about Garrett--despite there not being ONE graphic scene written between Garrett and Kirsten.) But I did not invent this stuff. Watch the a history book.

The wife and I were watching Outlander the other day when a scene came on that was quite unsavory. We joked about how that exact same scene would garner me a whole new batch of hate if it appeared in my books. Game of Thrones is simply brimming with such things, but I am getting off topic.

The truth is that society is fragile. Giving any person absolute power is dangerous. Abuse is a very common human trait. Without fear of reprisal or punishment, lines are blurred. I don't and won't get drawn into any sort of feminism argument. Women are very capable, but they are seldom a physical match for their male counterparts. I have one female friend who says very openly that she knows she would not last a week and would willingly rely on some of her male friends for her safety and well-being.

When it all comes down to it, the zombie apocalypse would be horrific. Sanitation? Gone. And I doubt the first waves of looters would be stealing toothpaste and toothbrushes. We would be filthy and miserable. It would be the camping trip from hell to the zillionth power. Once the grid fell, say goodbye to warmth and comfort. Oh, and add in all those pesky zombies trying to eat your face.

I love what I do for a living. I get to bring people into a world where the dead walk. It is fiction. Sometimes there can be a few nasty moments. But that is where I want it to the pages of a book. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

You think you know how to sell your books? Think again.

Being an author, and having done well enough to make at least a semi-decent living at it, I am always interested in how other people go about getting their books an edge over the others on the vast Amazon shelves. 

Ms. Sansevieri has done an excellent job of compiling some tips and hints (I won't call them tricks) to get your books in the hands of more readers. While I have tried and use many of these things mentioned, there were some new angles I had not thought of. The under use of keywords is a real eye opener and worth the book all by itself.

While she made a few points I did not see as being accurate (free books are a crapshoot at best in the over-glutted market, in my opinion) there was still a lot here to digest. Very worth the read.

9 Secrets to Selling More Books at Events

So you got a book event, great! Now you want to maximize it, right? You've heard your writing buddies (or perhaps read online) about the lack of attendance at signings so figuring out how to maximize the event, regardless of the numbers might be tricky.
  1. Marketing: First and foremost is the marketing of your event. But I'm not talking about the marketing you do the media (though that is great too) I'm speaking of in-store marketing, this is what most folks seem to overlook. This is where you supply things to the store to help them market your event. Because the first phase of a successful event is driving people to it. Here are a few thoughts.
    1. Do bag stuffers. You can easily do this in your favorite computer program, do two up on a page, meaning that you use one 8 1/2 by 11 sheet of paper to do two fliers. You'll want to ask the store first if they mind that you provide this, most stores or event venues don't.
    2. Bookmarks: while most in the industry see these as passé, people still love them. You can do bookmarks and bag stuffers (or staple them to the flier) or you can do custom bookmarks with the date and time of your event. Nowadays it's pretty easy to get these done cheaply. Keep in mind that if you are having the event in a mall or other type shopping area, you might be able to drop the bookmarks (or bag stuffers) off at the nearby stores to see if they'll help promote the event.
  1. Book signings are boring: Regardless of where you do the event, plan to do a talk instead of a signing. People are drawn into a discussion and are often turned off by an author just sitting at a table. Marketing is about message and movement so stand up and speak. If speaking in public is intimidating to you, go to Toastmasters or some other local networking/speaking group and see what you can learn.
  2. Unique places: if you want to get more attention for your event, consider doing events in unique places. We've done them in video stores, electronics stores, gyms, even restaurants (on slow nights), doing outside-the-bookstore events is a great way to gain more interest for your talk. Why? Because you aren't competing with everyone else at the bookstore for your crowd. When you do an event at a local that doesn't normally do events, you'll gather more people just because it's considered "unique."
  3. Show up early and talk it up: OK so let's say you're in the store and there are a ton of people in there shopping (a book event dream, yes?) I suggest that you take your extra bag stuffers or custom bookmarks and just hand them to the people in the store. Let me know you are doing an event at such and such time and you'd love it if they can sit in. You'll be surprised how many new people you might pull in this way.
  4. Customize: Regardless of what your talk is about, poll the audience first to see a) what brought them there, or b) what they hope to learn if your talk is educational. I suggest this because the more you can customize your discussion, the more likely you are to sell a book. If you can solve problems (and this is often done during the Q&A) all the better. You'll look like the answer machine you are and readers love that. If you have the answers they'll want to buy from you. I promise.
  5. Make friends: get to know the bookstore people, but not just on the day of the event. Go in prior and make friends, tell them who you are and maybe even hand them your flier or bookmark (or a stack if you can). Often stores have Information Centers, see if you can leave some fliers there instead of just at the register. Getting to know the people who are selling the book is a great way to help gather more people into your event. If your event isn't in a bookstore but attached to a shopping area or mall, go around to the stores (and perhaps you did this when you passed out the fliers) and let them know you have an event and what can you do to help them promote it. If you can rally the troops to help you market your talk, you could triple the numbers of people at your event. No kidding.
  6. Take names: I always, always recommend that you get names and (email) addresses from the folks who attended. Sign them up for your mailing list is a great way to stay in touch with them and stay on your reader's radar screen. If you have a giveaway or drawing, great! This will help you to collect names. If you don't, offer them a freebie or ebook after the event. Often if I'm doing a PowerPoint presentation I will put together a set of them (delivered in PDF) after the event. Attendees need to sign up to get them and then once they do, I include them in our newsletter list which helps me to stay on their radar screen.

Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert and an Adjunct Professor with NYU. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload. AME is the first marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through online promotion and their signature program called: The Virtual Author Tour™ To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at To subscribe to her free newsletter, send a blank email to: Copyright √£ 2015 Penny C. Sansevieri

Book Description:

Amazon wants you to sell a lot of books. And How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload teaches you exactly how to do it. Internationally renowned Amazon book marketing expert, Penny Sansevieri, has created the ultimate guide for mastering the Amazon marketing system.

And in moments it can be right at your fingertips! The savings in time you’ll gain is enormous—when compared to painstakingly researching this information yourself.

When you follow Penny’s time-tested proven formulas you’ll instantly skyrocket the exposure you receive and kick your book promotion campaign into overdrive!

Plus, you can bypass all of the misinformation out there about how Amazon works. That’s because every secret you need to know to understand the Amazon marketing system inside and out is right here. Penny Sanseveri takes you step-by-step through simple and dynamic processes that show you how to:

  • Get top visibility for your book on Amazon
  • Increase sales through perfectly-timed pre-order campaigns
  • Leverage a secret tool to get hundreds of reader reviews
  • Use Kindle Unlimited to your greatest advantage
  • Boost sales by knowing when to give away your e-book – it really works!
  • Use keywords and book descriptions that puts your book in front of tons of buyers
  • Identify and locate secret categories that drive bigger sales
Get your booked ranked #1 in your category!

Author's Bio:

Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.

Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of fourteen books, including How to Sell Your Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet."

AME was the first book marketing and publicity firm to use Internet promotion to its full impact through The Virtual Author Tour™, which strategically harnesses social networking sites, Twitter, blogs, book videos, and relevant sites in order to push an author’s message into the online community. AME has had over eleven books top bestseller lists, including those of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal.

To learn more about Penny’s books or her promotional services, you can visit her web site at

Connect with Penny:  Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Pinterest   Google +

Monday, April 27, 2015

Bridges. Have you seen them?

Bridges. They can be something that we use every day without a thought. However, for some, they are objects of exceptional beauty. That is obviously the case for Michael Saint James. He not only takes you to Paris and shows an array of beautiful bridges, most shot from various views and at different times of day to give contrast, but he also tells you about some of these wonderful structures.

A highlight for me was a bridge that was covered in locks. To discover that a movement of sorts began based on a scene from a romance novel that has led to locks adorning bridges in Paris with one in particular being a sort of Mecca for lovers was simply fascinating. You may never see bridges in quite the same way as Michael Saint James, but I believe you will certainly see an aspect of beauty brought out in something we might take for granted each day.

I discovered that actually leaving this book out on our coffee table drew people in who were visiting. They would thumb through it and get lost for several minutes as they toured these beautiful bridges.

Bridges of Paris is a large-format photography book with over 350 original color images which casts new illumination on the City of Light. The 37 bridges over the Seine River emerge as beautiful, historic destinations rather than unnoticed thoroughfares. The book features stunning portraits of each bridge as well as intimate riverside moments. Once you've experienced this river tour, you will never see Paris the same way again. Living as a Parisian for a year, author Michael Saint James left his American lifestyle and spent his days and nights capturing images from over, on, beside and under the bridges of Paris. With over 30 years experience as a photographer, educator and world traveler, Michael immersed himself in French culture to search out his authentic artist self. The result is a visual treasure to share with everyone.

And now a moment with the author and photographer...

While your book is mostly photographs, you still had to do a lot of historical and technical writing. How was this different than writing fiction?”
Historical writing has to be accurate and every word becomes critical. One historian says the bridge collapsed when a barge hit it and another historian says after the barge hit it. When or after? One word makes a difference. Why? I am a guest of Paris so I feel it was respectful to try to be a accurate a guest as possible when writing about it’s history.

But another challenge was to make my book entertaining. As I researched their history, I uncovered some fascinating bridge stories about goddesses, carousels, floods, kings and spies that I’ve included.

Did you become fluent in French?”
Actually I only speak a few words of French. I’m not very good at learning languages and having traveled to over 50 countries, mastery of a single foreign language, other than English, was always of little use. Rather, I have learned the international language of politeness, in French, politesse, demonstrating respect and tolerance for every culture and every human being. People around the world are more similar than different, we all have the same basic needs. I don’t need to know the local language when I visit a restaurant for a meal. They already know why I’m there. The vocabulary of politesse is simple: slow down and show respect and gratitude. Learn to say: how are you, please, thank you, hello, your food is delicious, your children are beautiful. It’s mostly forgotten in the States, but “please” really is the magic word.

How do the French people perceive Americans?”
The stereotype is that they are loud, fat, dine on extra large potions of cheap food and carry a gun. But when meeting a single American, the French are intrigued and genuinely enthusiastic to learn more about life in the States. I’ve found this to be true in most countries. When foreigners meet one-on-one, all stereotypes are broken. Americans often stereotype French waiters as being rude but I’ve never met one. I’ve found French waiters to be some of the most savvy, humorous people in France. Travel is a key tool in the quest for world peace. We need to build bridges instead of hiding behind walls.

What is your next project?”
Despite this book, I’m not the “bridge” guy looking for his next city or river to photograph. I love Paris and would love to discover another unique aspect of Paris to photograph. I’m also a book packager and book designer for others, so I’d be willing to consider packaging the ideas of others. But really, for me, I’ve always been passionate about the art of Vincent Van Gogh. I do have a fictional book idea I want to pursue on Van Gogh and the impact of his lovers on his art.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Read the warning label!

I have been sober for almost two decades. I learned that I just don't know when to say when and being blitzed out of my head is no good for anybody. However, I also discovered over the years that things like pain meds are not a real good idea either. They alter me to the point that I can't think right.

I have been dealing with an issue for the past 8 or so years where it feels like the bottoms of my feet are being blow-torched. It is a 24/7 issue and wakes me at night. I can't sleep with my feet covered it is so bad. Had my blood checked. No diabetes. Also, no explanations. I finally saw a doctor who gave me a prescription. Gabapentin.

The first few weeks were bliss. The pain was gone. For the first time in years, I had relief. Then it began to creep back. I should say that I have always had some extreme and adverse reactions to any sort of medication. That is why I don't even like to take ibuprofen. Chemicals just screw me up six ways to Sunday.

Gabapentin has some hefty warnings. Like always, I read them. I have to know what is being given to me, and that is when I read three pages of suicide warnings. Apparently this drug can mess with you in your sleep, cause nightmares, and bring on thoughts of suicide.

I have taken this medication as long as I can. Unfortunately, it has gotten into my head to the point where I can hardly sleep. The nightmares are vivid and horrific. (One in particular where I came home to find somebody had killed my dogs and left them nailed to a wall still haunts me.) And then there is the other thing.

Suicide. I once found myself driving along down a winding road and wondering how easy it would be to just launch the car off the edge.

None of this is being mentioned to elicit any sort of response of pity. It is more to make you aware. I am very strong willed and have a good head on my shoulders. However, when chemicals are introduced into the body, it CAN change you at the core. Read that long, boring sheet of paper next time you pick up something from the pharmacy. It might save your life by making you aware of the things you need to be cautious of while in the cycle.

I am coming off the meds soon, and have had frank discussions with my wife on the subject. Pain is preferable to the alternative.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Where have you gone, Missus Robinson, indeed.

You are standing in a line and a person shoves you hard from behind. Once...twice...a third time. When do you turn around and find out what their problem is? And when you finally have enough and confront this person who elbows you in the kidney as they dig through pocket or purse and they have the audacity to act like you are the jerk for saying (a direct quote) "Could you please stop." Sure, you phrased it as a statement instead of a request, but maybe that third time just got to be a bit much.

I have been in or witnessed scenes such as this multiple times over the past several months. I have said as much before, but it is worth repeating: As a society, we have become rude beyond belief. Everybody seems so self-absorbed that they care little or nothing about the humans around them as they careen through life like pinballs. It may seem like a cop-out, but I place a lot of the blame on our social media-driven society.

People spout off in ways that they would never do in public from the safety of their darkened little cave homes. That has carried over to our mobile phones and automobiles. It is like people just tromp through with the mindset that wherever it is that they are going, it is simply much more important than what YOU might be doing.

Add in a little alcohol to the mix and it is 'damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!'

Driving has become something out of "Mad Max" as cars jam themselves in at the last minute and then give you the finger for not just stopping when they want to fit in between you and the car in front of you. Never mind that they have been cruising along the emergency lane so they don't have to actually wait in the same traffic that you have been stuck in for the past hour. In what world did any of this sort of behavior become acceptable?

I have also seen some amazing acts of people taking the classic "victim's stance" when confronted by somebody who has had enough of their churlish behavior. Speak out and the person will deny any sort of wrong doing, and how dare you speak in such a rude way to them, thank you very much.

I realize this seems a bit like soap-boxing, but seriously, this only changes one person at a time. When was the last time you were in line at the grocery with one thing and behind a person with a full cart who waved you through? Or when was the last time YOU waved that person with one thing ahead in line? 

It starts like the cartoon snowball, people. Like that "Pay it Forward" movie. And maybe you never see the reciprocation, but perhaps that lone act of kindness, turns around a person's day.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Dante's got a bit hot this past Saturday.

Music is a driving force in my life. My tastes are pretty varied, but good old ROCK & ROLL is where my heart drifts to most often. Portland, Oregon is fortunate to have a very vibrant and thriving music scene. Even better, this is perhaps becoming the Tribute Band capitol of the world!

Big Words? A bit of a boast? Perhaps, but I think it could be proven as a fact with very little work. Saturdaynight was just another example. Iconic Portland nightspot, Dante's located on Burnside hosted a show consisting of Grand Royale, (Beastie Boys) Shoot to Thrill, (AC/DC) and Unchained (Van Halen). A bit of a confession, when the Beastie Boys first hit the scene, I was so against anything "rap" related, that I refused to even give them a listen. Then I heard one of the best albums ever...Paul's Boutique.

Saturdaynight was my first time catching Grand will NOT be the last. They were smokin' hot and had the act down cold. I have not had that much fun watching an opener in a long time, and I have a feeling they will be moving up on the venue slots before long. Jason Fellman told me about these guys a while ago, and he is (as usual) spot on with his assessment of the amazing talent. And how many other bands do you know that invite an audience member to come up and face them in a beer drinking challenge? Yep...probably just this one.

They nailed the hits and still pulled out a few of the non-pop gems. I would love to hear more from Paul's Boutique (High Plains Drifter comes to mind right away). This is a group that I think we will be adding to our "must see" list any chance we can. They even let me sing along on No Sleep 'til Brooklyn. That was kinda fun.

Shoot to Thrill was second to hit the stage in this 4 hour music extravaganza. This is the premier AC/DC tribute band in Portland, Oregon, and perhaps beyond. They cover both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras. Evan is the voice and ever-improving front man for this group and has the showman chops of somebody much older. He has even worked in wearing the very recognizable Brian Johnson cap during songs from that part of the band's catalog. (You're welcome , Evan...I was the one who spotted it under the drum riser after the show and gave it to one of Jason's crew to return to you. It looks better on you than it ever would on me anyway.)

This band is perhaps one of the tightest musically with a very solid backing band that drives a fierce hard rock engine. They play a great set and own the stage from start to finish. They have a very loyal fan base and once you catch them, you will see why.

This is a band that puts a lot of energy into their shows. They pull off many of the signature show highlights from AC/DC's stage shows when they have room. The small stage at Dante's is fun because you are almost certain there will be a massive collision. One more thing of note, this is a band that features a father-son combo. Evan's dad is Angus. Very cool.

Closing the show was one of my personal favorites. Unchained tosses the audience into a time machine and shoots them back to the early 80s when Van Halen ruled the world of rock. They have the swagger and the personalities of the original four young punks from Santa Monica without some of the drawbacks of the old days like Diamond Dave's propensity for forgetting the lyrics or being too drunk to understand.

If I could win guitar lessons from one person in the Portland Tribute scene, it would be a toss up between guitar iron man Dan Bates or Brad "Shreddy Van Halen" Halleck, DDS. (Yeah...probably the coolest dentist in the entire world!) If you remember the old VH videos, Eddie always had a smile on his face. Brad shows off that very same grin throughout the show and just manages to look so damn cool the whole time. He is a reminder of why we all wanted to be Eddie when we were growing up, the big difference is that he gets to play him on stage with amazing effect.

By the time the show ended, Dante's was sweltering and the only cool thing in the place were the members of the three bands that gave one helluva show. If you missed it, then I suggest that you get your tickets to Harefest V. (They go on sale today, just an FYI.)

Here is the lineup:

Fri July 17

Appetite for DeceptionGuns 'N' Roses
Crazy TrainOzzy Osbourne
UnchainedVan Halen

Sat July 18

Stone In LoveJourney
Ramble OnLed Zeppelin
Grand RoyaleBeastie Boys
Petty FeverTom Petty
Shoot to ThrillAC/DC
SteelhorseBon Jovi
Jukebox HeroesForeigner

Friday, April 17, 2015

Let the waiting begin!

So, anytime a writer launches a new book, there is that waiting period where they check in as often as they dare to see the first reviews. It is good to know if you hit or miss the mark according to the readers. Those are the equivalent of a workplace performance review.

A few days ago, DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon was officially launched. While it is set in the same world created by the DEAD series, this book is its own animal. You won;t find Kevin or Thalia showing up. (Although there may be guest appearances from time to time in future installments.) Fans of the DEAD series might find references to familiar people and places, but this spin off is designed to stand alone.

That makes this something different, and any writer who has produced something even moderately successful will tell you that a new book or series does not usually equate to the sort of sales figures that you see with your big hit. Since this is how some of us actually make a living, it can be a scary experience as a beloved series comes to an end.

So now, I wait for those first reviews to start coming in. I already have one on and Both are very positive. I will continue to watch and wait. It did have a couple hundred pre-orders on release day, which actually surpassed my hopes (since this was my first go at pre-orders, I really had no idea what to expect).

If you have yet to read this offering, I look forward to hearing from you soon. If you have read it already, I hope to see your thoughts on it in the review sections. And stay tuned, I am in the studio recording the audio book version myself!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Portland, Oregon the first city to fall to the Undead in apocalypse.

Portland, Oregon has been overrun by the walking dead!

Yes. You read that correct. Well, sort of at least. As the DEAD series reaches the penultimate book this April 30, 2015 (DEAD: Blood & Betrayal), I am kicking off the newest adventures set in the world created in DEAD. The world that you came to know with the potential for immunity, strange behavior in the zombie children and so much more is all here to some extent. Today marks the official release of DEAD: Snapshot--Portland, Oregon.

Get yours HERE!
The difference is that the DEAD: Snapshot series will focus on a single location. No hopping all over the world, no multiple story lines (for the most part), just plain old zombie goodness. I started in my very own Portland, Oregon because it felt right. After all, this is home and who would not love to see the effects of a zombie apocalypse on their own home town? Judging by the emails, there are a lot of you who are anxious to see exactly that. 

I have a list of over 200 towns so far sent in by you, the readers who make all my dreams come true. And while I can't promise to get through all of them, I will certainly do my best. DEAD: Snapshot-- Leeds, England is actually next on my list. And I am chomping at the bit to get to it since I already have a villain, she will be quite horrible, I assure you.

Still that does not mean YOUR town is out of the running. I have some cities and towns with multiple requests. I even have one town that might possibly have their city council involved in putting on a DEAD day to commemorate the release of a book if their town is featured. There have been  some creative requests. So, feel free to drum up some local supports and let your entire town or neighborhood add spice to your request. I LOVE creativity and am easily swayed by such displays.

And now I must be going, I have cities to destroy, millions to wipe out. The pen is indeed mightier than the sword.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Can you live with it?

Life is all about making mistakes and learning from them. Some can be devastating, but getting to the other side can make you a stronger person. It takes a lot to overcome some of the hurdles that spring up in our path. 

One of the things I learned over the years is that every one of those hurdles can be a defining moment. You just never know which one(s). It is also a hard truth that some of those hurdles are placed in front of us by others.

If you sat down and thought it over, how many hurdles have you placed in the paths of those around you? Sure, some might be very small. Barely a bump in the road as they say. But others can be crippling. 

You might have placed those hurdles quite by accident. If that was the case, did you go back and try to help that person over, or maybe at least slip in and attempt to lower it? And if you did it on purpose, can you live with that? Did you do it out of malice? Jealousy? Or some perceived sense of self-righteousness?

If you took something you thought to be true and used that as the impetus for your actions and later discovered that you were wrong...could you be okay with your actions? Perhaps the easiest way to truthfully decipher that question is to turn the table on yourself and see if you would be okay with having those hurdles thrown up in your path. 

We are a very reactionary society. Much of it (I believe) comes from not having to really ever interact with many of the people we so easily tee off on. Have you ever dealt with somebody in your life and then discovered YOU were the one who had it wrong? How did that feel? And then there are those warnings about being careful what you say since, once it is out of your mouth, (or fingers for this society of keyboard warriors) you can't unsay it.

Really, it can come down to a simple grade school begins with "Do unto others..."

Just remember, if the day comes when you find you are wrong, make sure that all you dished out will fit down your own throat.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Importance of Work by Lee Stephen

Find all your Lee Stephen titles here!
Before I turn this over to author Lee Stephen, I am thrilled to be able to be able to talk about his audio book , Dawn of Destiny. I can already feel a couple of you slump. You just don't want to get into the audio book scene. You want to hold the book in your hand, feel the pages. I get that, seriously. However, if I told you about some really cool radio drama with a cast and music, some of you very same people would be perking up.

That is what you get with Dawn of Destiny, by Lee Stephen. The slick production of the audio version of this book is a real treat. The story is some good old fashioned sci-fi fare like the classic tales we fell in love with. There is an entire universe here and we get a look at a very small part as this first book in the series unfolds. Stephens does an excellent job of introducing us to how thing work here, and his characters are guides as much as anything else.

The narrative is slick, fast paced, and full of enough action to keep you wanting to go on well past your bed time. There are a few times when I found myself stopping to really digest not just the story, but the depth of what was going on in the underlying tones set my Stephen.

Much like the real world we live in, you will meet hard working, and very "human" characters in this story that you can identify with and rally behind. This is not just one action scene on another with space as a back drop. This is a real, fleshed out tale that sucks you in and invites you to stay.

Get it HERE!

We all know the dream. We all have it. Quit the day job and become a full-time writer! It’s what everyone envisions when they set out on their writing journey. We can so easily envision our future selves, looking out the window of a log cabin over a lake, with a laptop on the desk and a coffee in hand. It’s a romanticized look at writing, but it’s one we all aspire to reach someday. And there’s nothing wrong with that! The pitfall comes when we prematurely decide, “now is the time,” and quit our full-time jobs to pursue writing with every fiber of our being and every minute in our day.

You see, there’s a harsh reality about writing as an occupation—and really, this could be said about art in general. It doesn’t pay much. In fact, most people couldn’t live on it for six months. Now, there are a lot of writers out there who sell very, very well, and they’ll be the first people to tell you that yes, it can be done. And it can! But there’s another factor in play that many of them don’t like to admit: that in order to sell very, very well, a certain degree of luck is involved. Now obviously, this doesn’t apply to everyone. Some people are too good to be held down. But by in large, much like getting struck by lightning, a lot of author success has to do with being in the right place at the right time. So what are we to do?

Get a job, and keep a job. There are many writers who consider getting a job “surrendering” to the working world. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, having a job can supplement your writing. It can give you the capital to pursue big things—to aim high. Editors cost money, designers cost money, cover artists cost money. Quality production can carry a hefty price tag! You want to be able to foot that bill. Because of my day job with Homeland Security, I was able to afford the production cost of a $10,000 audiobook adaptation of Dawn of Destiny, complete with a full cast of 30+ actors and full music and effects. Because I was able to afford that kind of quality without breaking my own personal bank, I was able to produce something that not every author has the financial capability to produce. The result? The Dawn of Destiny audiobook went on to win New Apple’s 2014 Audiobook of the Year and Best New Fiction. None of that would have been possible without my day job. My day job directly benefited my writing career and made certain things possible that wouldn’t have been otherwise.
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But, maybe that’s not enough to keep you from handing in your badge at the workplace. If you’re dead set on quitting the job, at the very least, consider these things:

1. Getting a job is hard in today’s economy. If you have one at all, that’s a blessing.
2. A house note, car notes, and utilities could easily run you $2,000 – 3,000 a month. Food could run you another $500-1,500, depending on family size. Can your book sales guarantee you bring in that much income every month for the rest of your life?
3. What happens if something like the dreaded c-word (cancer) strikes? You’re not talking about a medical bill of a few hundred dollars. A year of treatment could cost well over six figures. Don’t think it can’t happen to you; it happened to me. Health benefits from an employer can literally save you from financial ruin.
4. A couple decades at an employer can ensure you and your family retirement paychecks for the rest of their lives. Though none of us can fathom it now, what happens if one day we don’t feel like writing anymore? Or if the market changes? Is what you have in the bank account right now enough to last forever?
5. What happens if you start a family? Think you’ll still have all the time in the world to write? HA! When you’re spending months sleeping in two-hour increments and using the bathroom with a baby in one hand and your lunch in the other (if you’re a parent, you know this is true), I’ve got news for you…writing is going to go bye-bye real quick. When you have kids, your job actually becomes a break!

Remember that there is nothing wrong or surrender-indicative about having a day job. I have one, and even if my writing skyrockets my bank account to never-before seen heights, I’ll still continue to clock in and clock out with Homeland Security. It’s a steady income, health insurance, and retirement. Why the heck wouldn’t I keep it?
The purpose of this is not to dash dreams. By all means, dream on! It’s what we do best. But take care of yourself financially and alleviate the stress that can come from having to support yourself with writing alone. The best way to do that, and to supplement your writing in the meantime, is with a job. You might find that the “dream life” is closer to the mundane than you think.

So tell me, those of you who write and have full-time jobs, how do you balance your time between the two? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Claire Riley, not just another pretty face.

Okay, I used that tag line to get you to come take a peek. And to be fair, just look at those little cheeks...makes ya wanna pinch 'em.

But seriously, Claire is not only an amazing person and very sweet...she is one of the best female horror writers out there. My dream project would be writing a book with her and Rhonda Hopkins. (Yeah, ladies...just throwing that out there in case you ever get the idea that doing a collaboration would be fun.) Claire recently released her third book in the Odium series. Odium III: The Dead Saga. And if you haven;t read that yet...stop wasting time here with me and grab a copy. Start at the beginning and spend a few days with some real talent.

Want a little peek?

"I reached the first one, side-stepping as it stretched its one bony arm for me. The other arm was barely a nub of bone left jutting out of its socket, yet it still moved. I managed to get behind it and I raised my katana high, slamming it through the back of the deader’s neck before it could turn around. The force of my blow knocked it to its knees but didn’t cut it all the way through, and I grunted as I struggled to wrench the katana free from the thick flesh and bone of its neck. I pressed down, begging the sword not to snap.

Finally the blade cut right through and the head fell from its shoulders with a resounding splat. The body slumped forward with a thud, and thick black gore that smelled like rotten eggs and three-day-old sewage pumped slowly from out of the hole in its neck. The mouth of the head continued to snap, and I slammed my sword through the side of its temple to end the deader’s eternal misery and then I moved on to the next one.

Nova was surrounded by two deaders and the ankle-biter, and I hurried across to help her. I jogged to her side, ignoring my own slow-moving deader, and I stabbed through the ankle-biter’s skull. Ankle-biters were scary, because you never freaking saw them coming. I had drawn the attention of Nova’s two deaders, but she stabbed one in the back of the skull before it could even take a step toward me, and the other followed swiftly afterwards.

I turned back to my one, sidestepping it and letting it follow me until its back was to Nova. She used both knives to hack either side of its neck in one swift movement, and the head popped up into the air like a jumping bean and landed on the ground with a small thud. It was still moving, jaws snapping away as it persistently tried to get to me, and I grimaced. It was possibly once a fairly attractive male. Cloudy blue eyes stared up at me hungrily, its teeth still relatively normal instead of broken and black. Even its skin, though pale and sallow, was still covering a full face, instead of having rotted away in parts, leaving us with a gory view of what lay underneath. I presumed this man had died from injuries other than the more standard facial bites, which were what usually got people killed.

Death brought on the zombie infection, not saliva or blood transference, and a chunk out of the face or neck was almost always a sure killer.

Nova’s boot made contact with the head and sent it flying through the air and into the fields to the left of us. Black blood trailed through the sky in an arc and she whooped and fist-pumped the air.

“Touchdown!” she yelled ridiculously. She raised her hand in an attempt to high five me.

“That’s not cool. You need to go find that head and end it.” I bent down and wiped my blade across the now headless deader’s body, cleaning it free of the gore.

“What? Why?” She bent down and cleaned her knives on a different deader’s back. “You’re just miserable. You’re always miserable, especially when you’re sick,” she huffed.

“You don’t know what I’m like when I’m sick.”

Nova rolled her eyes. “Well you’re sick now, and you’re a moody and miserable, so looks like I was right.”

“Whatever. You can’t leave a dangerous head out in the wild like that. What if someone is walking through here and doesn’t see it? What then? A dangerous head like that could kill someone.” I scowled and stood back up, releasing a hearty sneeze. “Go find the damn head.”

Nova stood back up, giving me a hard glare. “No, you go find the damn head if it’s so important to you.” She turned away and started looking through the pockets of another of the dead bodies at our feet, looking for anything useful. “No one would be stupid enough to walk through a field barefoot anyway. People wear shoes, Nina!” She pocketed several items, not bothering to show me what they were, which only pissed me off more, since we were supposed to be sharing everything.

“That’s a dangerous head, Nova. Go kill it.” I bent back down and started to fumble in my deader’s pockets, finding some gum and a lighter, plus a picture of a pretty woman. The picture did nothing to temper my growing anger. “Do they not deserve any goddamn respect?” I muttered to myself more than her. So I was surprised when Nova replied.

“No, no they don’t. I hate them all and they deserve to die a horrible death.”

My eyes snapped to hers. “You’re being a dick now.”

“Since when did you become a union leader for the Undead Society? These aren’t humans anymore,” she snarled.

So do yourself a favor. Grab Claire's book and be prepared to enjoy.

Claire C Riley is a Bestselling British Horror Author, whose work includes: Odium The Dead Saga – book 1, 2 and 3, Limerence 1& 2 (The Obsession Series) Odium Origins A Dead Saga Novella – book 1, 2 and coming soon 3, and several other full length novels including Thicker Than Blood co-authored with USA Today Best Selling author Madeline Sheehan.

She writes characters that are realistic and kills them without mercy.

Claire lives in the UK with her three young daughters, husband, and scruffy dog.