Deadly Ever After

Archive for the month “August, 2013”

Renee Bernard dishes about Desire Wears Diamonds

Today’s Brew: Cocktails with Renee.  Stick around for this one, folks. We’ve found another one of our own.

by Kristen

When Agent Extraordinaire Eric Ruben, Esq. put out a call for blog hosts for one of his authors this week, I wasn’t sure he’d trust me and Julie with the goods. Apparently, The Esquire has more faith in us than I thought.  In the literary version of Plenty of Fish or OK Cupid, I have to ask myself where Renee Bernard has been all my life.  I love this girl already. She is the perfect blend of Kristen and Julie.  It’s like being a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll.   I’ve only had a chance to read a snipped from Desire Wears Diamonds, and you want check this book out.  It’s available now, so you have no excuses.  And if you don’t just take my word for it (WTF?), please let the fact that she is a USA Today Bestselling Author and that she has an author blurb from SHERRILYN KENYON sway you.

A blurb from Sherrilyn Kenyon. I’d cut a bitch for such a thing. Well, you know, figuratively. Before I get myself in any more trouble, let me turn this over to Renee….

What was I thinking?  Kristen said, “just blog about whatever you
want!” and then I said something pretentious about talking about
writing and the “bones of it”.  As if I’m a lofty expert on the Craft
and can wax poetic without sounding like a complete goof.  As if Chuck
Wendig and I hang out and bash about the Big Questions of Literary
Worth every Thursday night over cocktails… (Okay, that might be a bit
of a personal fantasy of mine that I just accidentally let slip.
Let’s keep moving.  Nothing to see here.  Nothing to see.)

But I said it for a reason.  I said it because as a romance writer,
it’s so easy to get trapped in lively conversations that invariably
revolve around sex.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s not a bad topic.  It’s
just that it’s not the only topic in the world.  EVEN when you’re a
romance writer.

Every romance has the heart-stopping kisses and scorchingly creative
sex scenes (gosh, I hope they do or I may have been doing it wrong)
but behind it, what do we say as writers?  About what we want in our
heroes? About what we long for in our fiction?  And what are the

challenges when you insist on writing outside of the box?

I confessed to Kristen that I hated formula romances and have done my

best to avoid mix and match plots and characters.  If there’s one goal
as a writer, it’s to really make a run at original heroes and new
plots (even if we disguised them as ‘tried and true’ to get past a

publisher once or twice).  And even if we use familiar constructions,
I still love trying to build something different.

I’ve written a series now and a trilogy and I don’t think a single
book was actually what it appeared to be on those covers—those lovely
traditional covers (you know the ones, with the wrong period costumes
on models with the wrong haircuts for the era you set your story
in…but they are pretty!)  In the guise of writing historical romances,
I wrote about self-determination, how villains can be good guys (take
that Wreck-it-Ralph!), about perceptions of feminism and even about
real loss.  Hidden in stories of surrender, there are always
conquests.  And no, not a single bodice was ripped.

Okay.  I did pop a busque once.  But it was warranted.  And that scene
worked.  I stand by it.

I write romances.  Romance is after all, the literature of women.  It
is a fictional extension of our fantasies.  Not necessarily in the
bedroom (although not excluding it) but how We Wish The World Worked.
So I write fewer Alpha males than most because I look at a real world
fraught with peril, a rape culture that makes me lose sleep as the
mother of two little girls, and I write what I want to see.  Kindness.
Equality.  Consideration.  Respect.  Humor.  A Vibrant Exchange of
Power between my hero and heroine that isn’t about ‘winning’.  True
Love, my darlings.  True Love.  If you do it right, it’s like a drug.
A very addictive drug.

Said the pusher.

And how’s that working out you ask?

Not bad.  No NYT bestseller lists in sight but I’m beginning to
question where we set the bar for qualifying a book as a “success”.
No really.  Sure, I’ll take a lottery win on Amazon and giggle off
into the sunset, but until then, something else has to drive you as a
writer.  I’m driven to create a better story, to push myself and my

So, the ‘bones of it’.  I’m at the turning point where I’ve given
myself permission to write the stories of my heart.  (That’s a sweet
phrase writers use to refer to the books you’re dying to write but
can’t sell to Brick&Mortar publishers because: a) your story’s setting
is too exotic and will not sell despite readers clamoring for anything
set outside the British Isles, b) it crosses genres and they don’t
know how to market it, c) no one is reading ____ anymore ((insert
anything you like in that blank! i.e. vampires, westerns, zombies,
witches, fairies, shapeshifters, pick your poison…)), or my personal
favorite, d) they already have one just like it in the works. (They
never do, but it’s cute when they say it and don’t even bother to
think it through.)

I don’t think this will come as a surprise to many of you, but when
your brain refuses to fire up formula stories that neatly fall into
marketing labels, you’re often on your own.  Self-publishing has
become a path to the reader that we could only dream of a few years
ago.  Doesn’t mean it’s a smooth path or a pretty path or even a path
not strewn with the dead bodies of writers that really, really, really
needed an editor or at the very least, God help them, a better
spell-checker…  But it’s a path.

Beyond the Jaded, I’m happy to say I’m working on quite a few things.
There’s a stand-alone historical romance (no one’s doing those anymore
so…) set in Meiji Restoration Japan and Victorian London; an erotic
romance with a pirate in it which I affectionately have dubbed my stab
at “Pirate Porn”; a historical romance series that is a cross between
‘Revenge’ and ‘Upstairs Downstairs’ with a very wicked female lead who
apparently refuses to play nice; a paranormal series I’m working on
called “The Eternity Gambit” which seems to playing out like ‘Office
Space’ meets Dante’s ‘Inferno’ and an alternative future/urban fantasy
series called “The Imbalance” because I was so tired of the same old
same old in post-apocalyptic stories I was getting migraines just
reading the cover flats.

As for the box, I can’t find where I put it.  I’m working toward more
graphic novels, in the midst of an audiobook for “Desire Wears
Diamonds” and I don’t want to look back.  All I know is that there are
stories I want to tell.  Pray for me.  I’m on my path.

Oh, God.  Kristen is regretting this.  She’s wishing she’d asked me
about Victorian sexual mores or birth control in the early nineteenth
century.  I can tell.  Sooo, this will be my first and last appearance
here, I have a sinking feeling.

But it was fun.  Um… thanks for having me.

(Is it time for a cocktail yet?  Can we just say yes to that and put
me out of my misery?)

I loved every minute of it!  Thanks for visiting, Renee.  You will be back.  And now, here’s that blurb I was talking about and a little more about Desire Wears Diamonds:

“One of the freshest voices I’ve seen in ages.” –Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author


The shy soldier and self-appointed guardian of the Jaded, Michael Rutherford, is faced with the ultimate test of his loyalty and honor when he meets the woman who is at once his perfect match and the worst choice he could ever make. The final battle with the Jaded’s greatest enemy will force him to choose between the brotherhood he has vowed to protect and shielding the innocent lady he comes to love. For Michael, it is a dance with the devil for a chance to taste the kisses of an angel.

Grace Porter is no ordinary wallflower or shy spinster hiding in the shadows of her brother’s London home.  She is a quiet rebel with secrets of her own and a woman who dreams of an independent life, free to pursue her dreams as a writer.  Her imagination holds the key to her survival, but it fuels her retreat from the colorless world around her.  Until Michael Rutherford’s arrival upturns her every fantasy and threatens her sanctuary with his lies.  His embrace is intoxicating to her senses but Grace isn’t the kind of woman to lose her head—or her heart.

It’s a knuckle-biting race to the finish for fans of the Jaded as fan favorite, Michael Rutherford, discovers the identity of the Jackal and Michael learns that sometimes the price to pay for justice is the sacrifice of hope and happiness.  He will risk everything as the Jaded call him out as a traitor and nothing is what it seems.


An Original Penny Dreadful by Mr. A.R. Crimson!  “Poseidon’s Curse or The Fatal Storm” – A fantasy serial from the creative mind of Crimson himself!

AND Special Reader Notes and Inside Information from the world of The Jaded Gentlemen!


Inspiration Strikes Even When You Don’t Want It To

Today’s Brew:  Blueberry, I missed your face.

by Kristen

If you are an independent contractor, and you  want to get extremely busy, just announce you’re putting out a book. You will book everyday. This is my first day off after 10 days in a row.

I was working on an ad for one of the Boston Mayoral candidates, listening to someone talk about the Boston School System expired food scandal.  The biggest tragedy of the situation is that some kids depend on that meal to be their only nutritious meal of the day, and it wasn’t even edible.

An idea popped into my brain as I watched for shine on the speaker.  It didn’t go away. In fact it fed itself and grew. By the time I came home, I had pretty much a full synopsis in my head.  It didn’t matter that I had a 14 hour day that day.  I needed to write it all down.  Before I went to bed, I had most of a first chapter down.

I’ve been wrestling with this new story line ever since it presented itself.  I’m supposed to be writing We Own The Night, book three in the Night Songs trilogy.  I’ve already started the first draft.  I had been really looking forward to meeting back up with Callie, Tristan, and Blade, to see what messes they’d get themselves into this time.  But ever since that afternoon, any time my mind wanders into my literary life, it goes to Kyndra and Aiden instead.  These two characters who’ve barged into my brain and told my other characters to chill out and relax for a little while.  They’ll do the heavy lifting.

Last night after another long day at work, I found myself pounding away at the keys fleshing out the rest of the beginning of this story.  It’s beginning to have some life to it.  I even had to get back up out of bed to work on it.  When that happens, I let the characters take control.

I know a lot of people complain about plot bunnies popping up at inconvenient times.  This would be one of them.  But when something sticks in my brain like this, even if it’s just a pair of shoes, I know I want it.  It would be a shame to let this fall into oblivion.

If nothing else, it will keep me working hard, since I’m now working on a novel I didn’t plan to write. When I finally have formal deadlines. As long as I can get the ideas out in the first draft, I’ll know I’ve given these characters their due.

Your Life Doesn’t Suck So Bad

Today’s Brew:  Six cups of coffee, anyone? Oh, that would be me.

by Kristen

(In a country music song twist of fate, Julie has abandoned me this week and has gone to the sticks.  Jillian M. swears she’ll take me back. I’m going to try to look past her indiscretions).

happy homeless

As I arrived at work today, this man wished me and my coworkers a good morning.  We all talked to him, joked around a little bit.  We were filming on the street, so I had some time for one of my favorite activities:  people watching.  I noticed the man was friendly with everyone, scratching the heads of dogs tied up outside of the Starbucks he sat outside of, just generally pleasant.

I didn’t realize he was homeless until someone dropped their change into his coffee cup. I thought he was simply drinking coffee.

This isn’t a post about how normal this guy was, as if homeless people were another race of creatures.  This is a post about him as a person. Clearly, if he’s collecting change in a coffee cup, he’s down on his luck.  But he didn’t let it get him down.  He made my day better.

We all have problems, and most of them are valid. But if this guy (also sitting at the exact spot of the second marathon bomb) could have a smile on his face and feel good, so can’t you.

The World’s Longest Thank You by Julie

TODAY’S BREW: Still drinking champagne.

By Julie

I didn’t move from my laptop the whole morning. This is the text I woke up to from Kristen the first morning Running Home was up on Amazon:



(sees Amazon ranking of 25 in Dark Fantasy and 12,298 in total books. Hurks into mouth a bit.)

Running Home has been out in the world for ten days (at this point), and is still getting better reception than I ever expected. It’s still in the top 100,000 books on Amazon, which to me is like being in the pretty girl’s club. I don’t know how people release books and don’t just cry into their hands all day at the sheer fucking joy of it.

I have these incredible people all around me that never waiver in their loyalty, and stand next to me through everything. This is a team effort. I wrote the book, but this is showbiz, folks, and it takes an army. The people who put me on their blogs, and are writing reviews, and read the damn thing, and tweeted with me while I was querying and supported me while I freaked out, they are my friends, not my team. They are my family, not my pseudo-employees.

I have a small army sorta. There’s not a thank you card in the world that could possibly say how I feel. And there are so many of you! So many people who handed me over their blogs to make a mess of as I please. So many of you who retweet my crap. And all of you who keep me going when I need it most.

Some of the best friends anyone could ask for and that I never thought I would find; Josh Hewitt, the brother I never wanted. Julie Hill, who makes me feel like I can do it, all the time. Beau Barnett, the sweetest, kindest ladies’ man that brings tears to my eyes with his support.

Laura Hughes, Reggie Whitley, Torgs, Megan Paasch, Jessie Devine, and Lou Gornall. You guys are at my very core, and I couldn’t survive without your faces. Or in Reggie’s case, without his hair.

Chris Liccardi and Bobby Salomons. Or Solomons. Bobby, for real, this last name stands in my way. You guys hear more behind the scenes than you probably want to, and I love you for it. Friends forever. I’d get bracelets if I could that said it.

Thanks to Dylan Morgan, who’s been a friend for a long time, and supported me the entirety of it.

My brothers at Books of the Dead Press, especially John F.D. Taff, my old friend, and one of my new favorite people, Mark Matthews. I’m so happy we’ve become the friends we have. And James Roy Daley. You believed in this book right away, and no matter how many bumps we’ve met getting out there, we did it. I have you to thank for making it real.

Thank you Jacke Czel, Elisa, Megan Eccles, Megan Orsini, all the Megans, including the incomparable Megan Kay, who touches my heart every day. Thank you, Imran Siddiq, for reading my book when he clearly has more to do in a minute than anyone on the planet.

Lydia Aswolf, I cannot thank you enough, honestly. The media support alone, but there could be no better woman in the world to make me feel like I really stand a chance out there. You make me a stronger writer.

How can I thank Jolene Haley? Not only is she one of the first friends I ever made on Twitter, but she has given me endless ideas that I execute poorly to promote the book, she sent me a pre-published book by one of my favorite authors, and she is endlessly gushing over me between making sexual comments. I love you, Jolene.

Rob Kristoffersen, Huggy Bear. The work you put into doing my review, and all the virtual holding back of my hair while I hurked. I love you dearly, but even I had no idea that you would come through for me in such a huge way. I’m floored by it.

My friends at Opening Line Magazine! That review and the interview, and the publishing of The Love Abominable stories, and the tweeting, and all the wonderful conversations we have, AND THAT REVIEW! Finding Opening Line was one of the best things to ever happen to me in the release of this book, and when I think “dream come true” I envision that review and the cover of Running Home on your site. Thank you for believing in me.

Thank you to Phil Cone, a man beyond measure, one of my favorite authors and one of the people I never expected to need in my life the way I do. You may tell me I’m a shitty writer all day long, but I know you think otherwise. Also, everyone go buy Paddy Nemesis. You wish you could write with that little filter, but you can’t because you’re not the amazing Phil Cone. You mug.

One of the first people to ever say Running Home was a solid book, even before it was, was JC Michael. This man went to bat for me immediately after my very first somewhat negative criticism on Authonomy. Then I read Discoredia, and we’ve been in each other’s faces ever since. We’ve come so far together, and I couldn’t be more grateful to have a friend in you.


One of my real life people, Jillian Marques. This gorgeous creature was actually a favorite employee of mine over ten years ago, and reappeared in my life, thank God, as a grown adult. I loved this girl from the minute I met her, and still do. Now, she’s not only an amazing support person in my life, and one I can always count on, but she has amazing writing chops of her own. Jilly Bean, I can’t wait until your work is out there for everyone to read. I love you.

Chynna-Blue Scott. The British little sister I never had. I don’t know what I did before you, and certainly won’t ever be able to be without you. Nobody knows just how much we really talk, but you’re one of my best friends in the world, for anyone who doesn’t know. Even if you didn’t have an amazing mind for what to do with Running Home, and didn’t put all the effort in that you do to be my personal cheerleader, I would still think you are one of the most incredible people on the planet. Brilliant, hilarious, beautiful and with a voice unlike any other I’ve ever heard in a novel. I love you dearly. Thank you for everything.

Kristen Strassel. You guys all see that we’re inseparable, but it’s so much more than that. Kristen has believed in my writing since we were kids, and has believed in Running Home even when I didn’t. She is the reason why I’m not in a social media hole. She’s the reason why I know anything about all the avenues I took to get this book published. She’s the reason why I never stopped. She was next to me when I pitched this book to an agent by phone in Hurricane Sandy, when we shouldn’t have driven to New Jersey, but did. Not because she needed an agent, but because I did. She feeds me, listens to me, is loved by my children, mom and husband, and she does more for me on an emotional level than even she realizes, and I can’t ever be without her. Kristen, I can’t wait to do this for Because The Night and Night Moves, not to  mention all the other awesome stuff you’re going to write.

And last, I swear, my husband, Tim Hutchings. You put our entire lives on the line by letting me leave my job to pursue this, because you always knew I could do it. You smile through the hardest times, you hold me when I can’t get out of my own head, you love me when I’m too hard to love. You’ve always seen me, and I’ve always seen you. There will never be anyone in the world who reaches my very soul the way you do. There’s no life for me without you in it. I love you more than you can ever know.

There are more people in the world for me to thank, but not all of them will read this, including Mrs. K, and Mr. Waterhouse, my 5th grade teacher. And Professors Curley and Hurley. (That’s real.) And of course, my mom and stepdad, and my Dad. But this is all I can take for today. I love you all.

Vacation Message

Today’s Brew:  More Raspberry Chocolate Goodness.

by Kristen

We won’t be doing Undead Duo Live this week. It’s Julie’s turn to leave me.  She’s headed to Ossipee, NH. You know, the place that a certain novel is set?  Clan Hutchings are going to visit some long time friends who make us look downright demure.  I expect lots of stories and more pictures.

I’ll be keeping the homefires burning.  There will still be plenty of blog goodness this week.

Because The Night: It’s Happening!

Today’s Brew: Champagne!

by Kristen

I am pleased, okay, over the moon to announce that my debut novel, new adult paranormal romance Because The Night, will be available in November.

It’s being published by (drum roll please)…me.

The time is right for this to happen.  I’ve already been doing publicity for  this book, even before the decision to self publish was in stone.  Seasons in The Sun, the prequel to Because The Night, will be published by Fast Foreward Publishing this fall.  Night Moves is the companion novel to Because The Night.  The book is being polished just as if it was being released by a traditional publisher.  This is not a case of being lazy or impatient.  Simply, it’s a case of moving forward.  I’m ready.  Self publishing wasn’t the path I planned to take, but the more I looked at things, the more sense it made for this series.  The best things in life happen when you take a chance. Nothing happens if you don’t.

This doesn’t mean I’m giving up on traditional publishing. When I told my agent, Pam van Hylckama Vlieg, about my plan she thought I was an excellent candidate for self publishing. Since Pam was a book blogger before she was an agent, she’s got a good feel of what the public will be interested in.   Pam is going to help me with publishing this book as well as the next two in the series.  Publishing a book is so much more than just putting a book out, and I’m thrilled to have such talent in my corner.

Here’s what you can expect:

November 2013: Because The Night
Fall 2013: Seasons In The Sun (YA Prequel)
2014: Night Moves (Book 2) and We Own The Night (book 3)

A little more of what you can expect: a taste of Because The Night:

Instead of bringing us out to seats in the audience, Tony led us to the side of the stage to a spot just behind the curtain, feet away from Tristan. When he spotted me, he only winked at me like we shared a private joke, and continued with his performance. I sucked in my breath and held on for the ride.

It felt intimate to be so close to the band as they put on their show. I felt the heat of the flash pots and saw the sweat on the faces of the background dancers. We moved out of the way as the roadies scrambled to change instruments for the band. I could see all the notes plastered on the stage. I peeked around the curtain every so often to see the crowd, who were completely enthralled with everything the band did.

But mostly, I just watched Tristan. Tonight he wore his signature black leather pants, which clung dangerously low below his hipbones. They ended in black combat boots that were casually untied. He topped the outfit off with a black T shirt adorned with an intricate white pattern that clung like a second skin. His eyes were heavily rimmed with black liner and his hair hung in his face, down on his chest and back. It swung around him as he roamed all over the stage. His fingers moved over his guitar seductively, teasing it, bringing it to the brink of hysteria then coaxing it back down to a purr. Almost as if he was making love to it.

The thought made me flush all over. I could hardly bear to watch him, but I couldn’t look away.

The show seemed to end before I was ready to stop watching. Tristan came right over to me as he walked off stage.

Look who’s my date tonight,” he grinned triumphantly as he approached me.

You have a date tonight?” For a moment I was oblivious to the fact he meant me.

Yes,” he reached out and put his hands on my hips. Even after running around on stage under those bright lights for over an hour, he hadn’t so much as broken a sweat. Even his stage makeup was still perfect. He leaned in so he could speak close to my ear. “And she looks fabulous in her little black dress.”

Thanks,” I managed, but it didn’t seem like enough. It was all I could say though, looking up at Tristan, with his eyes just inches from mine. In the distance—it might as well have been in another universe–I realized the music on the stage had resumed. “Don’t you have to go back out on stage?”

He shook his head, his eyes never leaving mine. “It’s just his solo. And truthfully, Callie, the show will start again whenever I decide to go back out there. They can wait.”

Oh,” I gulped so hard it hurt. What was he going to do?

Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction, So I Use It As Inspiration

Today’s Brew:  Raspberry Chocolate Truffle

by Kristen

Nothing we write about is original. We just have to put an original spin on it.  This includes our characters.  If we’re writing about people, not aliens from another planet, we need to pull from human characteristics.  The best way to do that is experience, observation, and good ol’ people watching.

In Night Moves, I based all my characters on people I knew.  I might have combined characteristics of more than one person into a character, but it’s pretty close to the truth.  This is true for the rock stars and the fetish model.  When I brought this up in my Lydia’s Literary Lowdown interview, someone said they wouldn’t want to find out they were someone else’s “fiction.”

This took me by surprise.

How many times, as writers, have people asked you to put them in the next book?  And as we all know, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

People want to read real characters.  I’ve lived an odd life, and I am very open minded.  I figure the best way to make my characters as three dimensional as possible is to draw from the people I’ve met throughout my life.  I’m very equal opportunity with my characters.  I don’t judge them for what they do.  If they’re bitches or assholes, it is independent of their occupation.

If you’re wondering which character caused the controversy, it was Erin, my fetish model.  Erin is strong and confident about what she does.  I enjoyed writing her tremendously.  I’ve mentioned Erin to my friends who are fetish models, and they loved the idea.  I pulled all of her exploits directly from what they do.

What in the hell was that about? Trixie Temptation?” I practically shrieked.

Shh!” Now it was Erin’s turn to look annoyed. “That’s my stage name.”

Keep talking.”

I’m a traveling model.” Erin explained, looking a little nervous in her reveal. “It’s really the only way I can support myself while I’m out on the road.”

What kind of model?” Erin was just a little bit of a thing with a nose piercing, a pink streak in her hair, and several tattoos. Pretty, definitely, but not in an America’s Next Top Model sort of way.

I do fetish shoots. Artistic Nudes. That sort of stuff.” She said casually. She had a way of dismissing anything anyone else would consider a bombshell.

Erin! That sounds like porn!” I had to put all my energy into keeping my voice down. It was hard. This was just too much.

It’s not! Nobody is putting anything in me. I call the shots, and I know my limits. I probably make more money than you do. I didn’t expect you to judge me, Mel.”

Now I felt bad. “I’m not, it’s just I hate to think of you selling your body so you can support your Drake habit. I mean, this guy’s got more money than God, you’d think he wouldn’t want you doing that.”

It was his idea.” Erin said quietly as she finished off her third cup of coffee. “And face it, Melanie, we’re all selling ourselves in some way.”

–Melanie and Erin in Night Moves

How To Discipline Your Vampire: Getting To Know Mina Vaughn

Today’s Brew:  Cherry Chocolate Swirl, as God intended

by Kristen

How To Discipline Your Vampire

When Mina Vaughn raised her hand in the NECRWA Supernatural Character panel and told us all about her book featuring a dominant schoolteacher who spanked the hell out of a vampire, I knew right then and there I had to be friends with this girl.  Later that day, she and I had lunch together at the world’s coolest lunch table (also featuring Eric Rubin and Tiffany Reisz), we exchanged contact info, and I got my wish.

I was lucky enough to get a crack at How To Discipline Your Vampire before its August 19 release date.  Not only do you get some supernatural BDSM, but you also get a sweet love story.  I asked Mina a couple questions about the book, her writing, and herself, and here’s what she had to say.

K:  Thanks for joining us, Mina!  Tell us, how did you start writing?

M: I’ve always written.  Even when I was a kid, I’d script out my playdates.  😉  I took some creative writing classes in college but didn’t really start writing in earnest until I turned thirty.

 K:  I giggled a little when I saw you scripted your play dates! That isn’t a surprise to me after reading the book!  Who is your favorite character in How To Discipline Your Vampire?

M: Cerise.  It meant a lot to me to have a strong and confident heroine.  Lots of heroines are strong, but most second-guess themselves and don’t fully understand how wonderful they are.  I think this is to keep them from coming off arrogant.  But Cerise is hot, she knows it, but I hopefully don’t think she comes off as self-absorbed.  She’s cool, funny, and powerful.  I love her.

 K: Which character did you create first?

M; William.  I wanted to imagine a guy who’d make your every fantasy come true.  Lots of thought went into this guy, for sure. 😉

 K: Besides William, who are your top three vampires?

M: 1)  Spike from Buffy

2)  Edward from Twilight

3)  Eric Northman from True Blood

 K: Now, you’re hanging out with those three vampires for a night. What do ya’ll do?

M: Wild ass foursome at a Coldstone Creamery.  Ice cream, toppings, and sexy vampires.  All night.  Sticky sweet goodness.

 K: What vampire superpower do you wish you had?

M: I want to be able to not sleep.  I have too much to do!  Sleep is a waste. I love it, but I’d love to not need it.

 K: Oh my God. I love sleep so much. I don’t know if I could live without it!  More superpowers: You are a self proclaimed shoe whore.  What is your favorite find ever?

M :A pair of Tory Burch leather lace-ups marked from $300 to $100.  I nearly died.  Wore them to both NECRWA and RWA Nationals and people went gaga over them.

 K: They were pretty badass. What has been the best part of your journey to publishing so far?  What has surprised you?

M: Everything has been amazing, but the people I’ve met along the way mean the most.  My agent Jessica Sinsheimer, my editor Micki Nuding, the whole Gallery/Pocket team I met in Atlanta, and of course the writer friends (like you) who I met at conferences.

 K: What advice would you give aspiring authors?

M: Don’t be afraid to be different, and keep trying until something clicks.

 K: To wrap things up, I’ll ask my favorite question. What are you dying to share that no one else has asked you about so far?

M: I’m dying to see people liking a non-alpha hero.  I’ve heard some good feedback so far about how refreshing it is to see a guy who just wants to worship at your feet instead of growl and brood.  I’m excited that my William may be a different kind of swoony hero, and I hope other people think so as well!

Thanks for having me, Kristen!

Mina Vaughn Portrait   Kink with a wink. Author of How to Discipline Your Vampire, coming August 19, 2013 from Simon & Schuster’s Pocket Star. Repped by Jessica Sinsheimer.

John F.D. Taff Is Probably Smarter Than Us.

TODAY’S BREW: Swill. This cup’s for you, Chynna-Blue Scott.

By Julie

John F.D. Taff is an old friend of mine from the days of The Nightmares Before Christmas. Now you can all have the pleasure of reading The Bell Witch, which I kinda freaked out about. I mean, look at this cover.

Also, John is just a class act of a guy. I’m proud he’s my friend, and honored that he considers my work to be good because he’s John F.D. fucking Taff. If you haven’t read his stuff, you don’t even know. Here’s a little bit about how his crazy mind works.

My Horror Manifesto

By John F.D. Taff

Julie is being the lovely person she is and letting me take up space on her blog to write about whatever I want to write about.  So, I thought, instead of plugging my new novel, The Bell Witch—$3.99 at Amazon, paperback to follow soon—I thought I’d share with you my manifesto.  Every writer should have a manifesto, I think, whether you’re pecking away in a Manhattan loft or in a tiny shed in Montana.  As I am a writer, here then is mine.

 You may not like everything you read from me, and that’s OK.  I have done this long enough to know that every story is not for every body.  I hope that some of the things I write speak to you, linger, make you uncomfortable in some way, even, I daresay, scare you.  That’s why I choose to dabble in this particular genre and not, say, westerns or science fiction.

Horror writer.  Mention the fact that you’re a writer these days, and you might get a half-interested response, akin to telling someone you make wine in your basement or host a local access cable show.  The fact is, unless they’ve heard of you, unless they’ve bought your book, unless you’re currently on the New York Times bestseller list, you’re just a member of a huge group of people who consider themselves writers…a list that grows dismayingly longer with every blogger, Facebooker, Twitterer (Tweeter?) and half-assed web journalist.

Mention the fact that you’re a horror writer, though, and even that slight regard vanishes in a puff of smoke.  Horror?  Like monsters and ghosts and gallons of blood?  That horror?  The mention that you’re a horror writer is sure to get raised eyebrows at cocktail parties or contemptuous sniffs from academics who view horror as the literary equivalent of snuff films.

Why is that?  Well, there’s a lot of contentious noise these days in the hallowed halls of horror; a lot of ridiculous (at least I think so) talk of what constitutes horror.

If horror even holds together as a serious, clearly defined genre in these modern times.

Even if it should.

And lest you think that we merry writers of horror fiction are shouldering this burden well, let me dissuade you from that quaint and curious notion.  Much of the current collective effort of horror writers today is spent denying that that’s what they write at all.  It’s as if many of them feel a need to explain or…good grief defend…what it is they write.

All of this meaningless mental masturbation sucks a lot of good writers in…and a lot of good readers.  They spend countless hours arguing their views on countless forums—on the increasingly annoying Internet, at conventions and conferences, at signings and in the column inches of the decreasing number of print magazines devoted to…ahem…horror.  All of this when their time might be better spent writing good stuff and reading good stuff.  Who cares what it’s called.

Horror.  Is it a true genre?  Should it be?  I mean, come on, it’s why you punched my dance card, so indulge me for a few more seconds before I let you loose.

Some dismiss horror because it’s become all about blood.  Well, in the movies, at least—or so it seems to me—this is true.  One of the most gorgeous turns of phrase has come out of this trend…torture porn.  Lovely.  But it’s true.  From Nightmare on Elm Street to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and everything in between, many of the movies referred to as horror over the years have been thinly disguised reasons to film outright blood baths.

The Saw series is this sub-genre’s current idiot savant; so wrapped up in the minutiae of the Rube Goldbergesque ways in which it slices and dices its victims, it has forgotten to nurture things like plot, characterization or even one of the more potentially chilling villains to flicker from a horror movie since…well since his brood brothers Michael, Jason and Freddie came along.

Let’s be honest here, though.  There is little more disturbing than violent death.  And if horror is to be a true, full-fledged genre, then there has to be room for a wide spectrum of nuances within its framework.  But I mean, come on, the needle has been pegged on “full-tilt arterial spray” for a few decades now.  There have been a smattering of good horror films that have managed to squeeze through with nary a dismemberment (The Sixth Sense springs to mind), but they are few and very far between.

So how can publishers synergize (excuse me, but that’s their word) with Hollywood?  Because, let’s face it, this is the atomic clock by which book publishers set their watches.  But who wants to write, much less read, a book that has a plot, say, similar to Hostel?  Not many, thank the lord.  But publishers have hitched their proverbial carts to Hollywood, so what to do here?

The answer for horror, then, is apparently not coming from Hollywood.

Conversely, some dismiss horror because it has become sanitized for your protection, like a hotel toilet with a paper band around the rim.  I’m in no position to criticize the author of the Twilight series.  And why should I, other than grinding jealousy or abject poverty?  Vast armies of people, most of them young and decidedly feminine, love her and love the work.  But in making vampires too much like us, some authors have removed what it is that makes them frightening.  Is any teenage girl truly frightened of Edward?  Really?

So, the answer is not necessarily going to come from some new monster or some new way of looking at an old one.

Some dismiss horror because it’s become de-supernaturalized.  Who can argue with that?  It’s a cyclical thing, but most of what is called “horror” these days tends to be of the psychological variety or of the twisted, real world variety—Silence of the Lambs and its innumerable pastiches.  Away with the ghosties and ghoulies and things that go bump in the night.  Give us slashers and serials killers and maniacs with mommy issues.

Again, this is OK.  Some say these are scarier than the made-up monsters of our childhood, and while there may be some truth to that, it isn’t the whole truth.  The fear these madmen bring is the fear of the known or maybe the what could really happen…the guy who sneaks up behind you in the parking lot and conks you on the head in order to haul you away and do various unpleasant things to you in the relative privacy of the pit in his basement.

But our dear monsters represent the fear of the unknown, the fear of what is out there in the dark that is profoundly mysterious and strange. In the best horror stories it is this fear, the fear not just of the unknown but of the unknowable, that makes the reader’s heart beat faster.

Finally, there are those, and you doubtless know a few, who dismiss horror as being a sign of a juvenile mind.  Well, this is an old one.  I remember getting this creaky sentiment from college literature professors who agreed with Henry James that a taste for Poe, and by extension any of his ilk, is the mark of a decidedly primitive stage of reflection.  Well, that’s just utter bullshit, as Penn & Teller would say.  The things that make up horror—monsters, ghosts, violence, retribution, a dark underworld, fate, blood and guts—have all been part of the best of our literature since Day One.  They’re hardwired into us, part of every mythos, creed and religion in the world.

And yet, this is how a lot of people…smart people, literate people…think.  Remember a few years ago when Stephen King was awarded the American Book Award?  Remember the hue and outcry from the literary illuminati?  You’d have thought the Jewish League was presenting Adolph Hitler with its Humanitarian of the Year Award.

And why?

Is Stephen King a bad writer because he chooses to write about vampires and possessed laundry folders and gunslingers from other Urs?  No.  Is Stephen King, indeed, a bad writer at all?  No.

When horror is written well, as many authors do—as I aspire to—labels evaporate, and the reader is submerged in story.  And isn’t that what any writer wants of his work?  For a reader to be lost in the words, transported, lifted out of their life and into another.

It’s what I want of my work, whether it’s called horror or terror or suspense or whatever.

But let’s, for the sake of argument, call it horror.

Because I am a horror writer.

So, there’s my manifesto.  Now go buy a book from me, either my collection Little Deaths or my latest novel, the historical ghost story The Bell Witch.

Dylan J. Morgan Does Cool Vampires. Not Like That.

TODAY’S BREW: Do they make pumpkin champagne? Can I get some of that?

By Julie

Our old friend, Dylan J. Morgan, Defiler of Dreams and Creator of Nightmares does what few do for me—he gives me vampire plot that is classic, but with unique flavor that makes it current and fresh.

Monsters and Mortals is a novella that would do you good to read. Dylan can teach all of us a thing or two about writing, and if you remember him from our Nightmares Before Christmas series, you know this. If you don’t, go read this story now. Seriously, what are you doing here? Go now. It’s called Dreamwatcher and it’s here.

Good, you’re back. Now read this. Support your local or not so local vampires, and pick it up. Then review it. That’s the thing to do.

August 12, 2013

NEW RELEASE – Monsters and Mortals

My new novella, Monsters and Mortals, is finally out. Currently it can only be purchased on the Kindle through Amazon, but that may be subject to change. Please feel free to tweet the shit out of this blog, or re-blog it if you want. Your support is vital.


Quick links for the US and UK.

us —

UK —

Official Blurb:

Rome: a city two thousand years in the making, once the most influential metropolis in the world. Mortal rulers have come and gone, great kingdoms built and destroyed. Yet one empire has outlasted them all, and the largest, most powerful vampire coven in the world has its roots buried deep in Rome’s foundations.

Disgraced medical examiner Fabio Morani travels there, following a trail of dead bodies left behind by a vampire. Deanna Matthews flees from hybrids—a grotesque half-breed mix of vampire and werewolf—and boards the first plane leaving Heathrow, bound for the Italian capital. A chance meeting throws the two mortals together and they find themselves embroiled in a centuries-old supernatural conflict, where the participants are hell-bent on their destruction.

Rome’s vampire coven is out for revenge, and nothing will stand in the way of justice.

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