Deadly Ever After

Archive for the tag “Tammy Farrell”

What I learned in 2014

Today’s Brew: next to nothing. I had oral surgery yesterday, and my meds aren’t agreeing with me. Most of this was prewritten, but please forgive any whackadoodle typos in this one.

by Kristen

Like I said, I had oral surgery yesterday. I had three teeth that basically needed an overhaul, and I had the last of the hard stuff done yesterday. I’m so glad it’s done. Besides using up the very last drop of my ’14 dental insurance money, I thought it was appropriate. 2014 was about the ugly stuff, and 2015 will be about the pretty stuff. I think that holds true for my publishing career, too.

I had to make some big changes in 2014. I had my hardhat on for much of it, looking at what I had and bringing it to where it needed to be.  Even though I’m in no way an expert on publishing, I learned so much this year. As I was waiting for the procedure to start, I was thinking the tooth analogy worked for my books, too. 2014 was for the ugly stuff, and 2015 is about hitting my stride.

Without further ado….here’s what I learned:

  1. Things in publishing change fast. What might have been tried and true doesn’t work anymore.  What worked in the beginning of the year doesn’t work anymore.  This is what’s going to stay constant: change.  I know a lot of people got burned by Kindle Unlimited. I actually benefitted from it. I wasn’t getting the exposure on the other channels, and even though I did get a lower payout for my full length books, it got them off the virtual shelf and into people’s hands.  As a new writer, that’s what I needed. My full length stuff won’t be in there forever. But I’m going to continue to consider it a tool in my tool box, and try to leverage it so it works.
  2. Writing is the easiest part of the job. For real. My brain supplies me with the stories, and my fingers follow. There’s no rules to the story. I just write. And it’s fun. But then that story needs to be edited and packaged and put out in the world. Putting out a book is like planting a garden. You can’t just forget about it. You need to nurture it to make it grow. I heard a great talk from Courtney Milan at RT, about the phases of being a successful author. I’m somewhere between Phase 1, where I am actively selling every book, and Phase 2, where my books are starting to sell each other.  Getting from Phase 1 to Phase 2 is much harder than writing the book. There’s Phases 3 and 4, but right now, I need to focus on where I am.
  3. You have to spend money to make money. Before you start throwing things at me, hear me out! What did you do before you were a writer? I’m a makeup artist. While that was actually very helpful to me, since I’d already built a career in the arts, a publishing expert it didn’t not make. As an independent author, I pay for editing, cover design, formatting, and publicity. There’s no guarantee I’ll ever see that money back. Tammy Farrell referred to publishing a books as an investment. We need to stop looking at the short game and remember the long game. The books will be available as long as we want to sell them. It’s a business, and you need to treat it as such. Even if you have a publisher, may have to pay for marketing. Your contract may include some marketing, but it may not be enough. Even if you’re going out on your own and contacting bloggers, your time is still an investment. Nothing is free. You have to invest wisely. There’s never any way to tell what’s going to pay off and what won’t.  See #1.
  4. Those who have had success are willing to share. Thank God! So many of those people helped me right my own shaky ship earlier this year. One of the leading voices in makeup business said to us, “you’d never ask someone who’s bankrupt for financial advice, why would you look to someone who’s not successful in your own career for advice?”  Marie Force, Courtney Milan, Zoe York, so many others are putting out some great information on what’s worked for them. I mention Zoe, she’s new to me, but she’s a solid mid list author who is growing. Some of her advice is more tangible for me than what the megastars do.
  5. Publishing is a lot of work! I can sit at my computer from the time that I wake up until the time that I go to bed, and I never get to a point that everything is done. Sure, one project might be complete, but it moves into the next stage, and I start with the next.  It doesn’t feel like work, because most of the time I do it in my jammies. And sometimes I drink. But it’s work.
  6. No two authors will have the same journey. We all have different definitions of what success means. I saw recently someone say no one reads the same book, meaning that our words have a different effect on everyone. That’s so cool! Our stories and schedules are all different. We really are all special snowflakes. Even if you do exactly what another author does, your story and timing is different. Results will vary.
  7. Nobody wants to hear they’re doing it wrong. I made a lot of decisions that were the best ones I could make at the time, and they were God awful. Some people tried to speak up, but again, I thought I’d done all the right things. I brushed them off. Once I was finally ready to listen, I made the changes I needed to. And it was the best thing I ever could have done. We’re not going to get everything write the first time. Some of us are going to fall on our faces pretty spectacularly. I learned so much from the mistakes I made with Because the Night, and I’m a better author for it now. I
  8. Nobody wants to hear they’re doing it wrong, part II. Let’s stop beating up on each other for how we decide to publish. As long as you’re putting the best book you can in the best manner you can, that’s all that matters. A reader shouldn’t know the difference between a self-published book and a traditionally published book. It’s that simple. What I learned in #7 was to make sure the people you ask to work for you are doing the best job they can. For you. That person might do a great job for someone else, but not for you. Stand up for what’s best for you.
  9. Try new things! This is an exciting time to be in publishing. You can be a hybrid author. You can write fan fiction and make a fuckton of money. You can put your books in your own store, or enroll them in Kindle Unlimited. You can write a variety of genres. You can put out as many books as your little fingers can handle typing. Think something is cool? Try it. You might enjoy it.
  10. Writing is the most challenging and rewarding job I’ve ever had. I’ve worked way harder than I expected to, and the journey was nothing like I expected. But I wouldn’t change a thing.
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THE EMBERS OF LIGHT by Tammy Farrell Cover Reveal

Today’s Brew: Benedryl

by Kristen

If you’ve read Tammy Farrell’s debut fantasy novel, The Darkness of Light, you are probably not so patiently awaiting book two of The Dia Chronicles, The Embers of Light. I have a little teaser for you in the form of a cover reveal, blurb, and date.

 

jacket2


The descendants of the ancient gods think they’ve found peace, but the time has come when new magic and ancient powers will collide…

Stripped of his Dia powers and left to rot, Malcolm is a prisoner of Valenia—a sentence he finds worse than death. His thoughts of revenge are the only thing keeping him sane, but when he finally manages to escape, Malcolm discovers that living as a mortal is more dangerous than he ever imagined. After stealing from the wrong man, Malcolm becomes a captive once more, only this time his punishment is one that he won’t soon forget. His only hope of survival is Seren, an enigmatic young girl with golden eyes and a malevolence to match his own.

When he’s led to Mara and Corbin, the two responsible for his fall from grace, their new faction of Dia is in chaos, infiltrated by an ancient power thought to have been banished forever. This only fuels Malcolm’s ruthless ambitions, but he soon realizes that he too is under attack, a pawn in a centuries old game of power and greed. As new battle lines are drawn, Malcolm finds himself in uncharted waters, forced to choose between helping those he’s vowed to destroy or give in to his lingering desire to settle the score.

Debts will be paid, lives will be lost, and no Dia will ever be the same

The Embers of Light will be available November 11, 2014.  Add it on Goodreads!!

RT Recap and How To Convention

Today’s Brew: Is there coffee shock therapy?

by Kristen

If you follow me on Twitter (and if not, why not? You know I’m fun.), you know that last week I was in New Orleans for the Romance Times Convention, or as you saw it a thousand times, RT14.  Simply put, I had a blast. All of us who spent time together are lamenting how weird it feels to get back in to our regular routines at home.

Tammy Farrell, a convention virgin (yes, Tammy, I outed you) asked me a lot of questions about RT, and we figured she couldn’t be alone with having questions about attending conventions.  I had her ask some questions I could answer on the blog that might help you if you’re wondering why the heck we go to these things.

What is the schedule like?

During the weekdays, there are panels scheduled throughout the morning and afternoon. Because a wide variety of people attend this particular convention (writers, readers, agents, editors, bloggers, booksellers, and librarians), there were panels directed at all groups of people.  I looked for ones that were about writing craft, marketing, or self publishing. The nice thing is, if a panel isn’t what you want it to be, you get up and go to another one, or just get a coffee and relax. Because your brain can get overloaded quickly at these things, there are also social events during the day that are just fun and you can meet people.  At night, there were parties to attend, but I found most people stopped by those briefly and either went out to dinner with a group or hung out in the lobby and socialized. Saturday was fan day, and the day of the huge book signing. 300 authors signed at the event. I was waitlisted because I’m an indie author, which was fine with me.  I attended another event that evening called FAN-tastic that I was able to connect with readers at.  

I’d like to know how you get set up to do a signing, what kinds of things (materials) do you need to prepare. 

Don’t quote me on this, because I didn’t get in to the signing in time. I got waitlisted.  It looked like you were automatically able to sign if you were traditionally published. It seemed like there was a predetermined amount of spaces for indie authors.  There was some controversy about calling the indie author room “aspiring writers.”  Shame on you, RT.  Do you know how many NYT best sellers were in the “aspiring” room?  I don’t think there should be any segregation at all. Just first come, first serve, no matter who you are.

If you are doing a signing, obviously you need books. Bring a sign so people can see what you have from a distance.  You want to draw them in and talk to them. Make sure you have something they can walk away with that they remember you and your brand, even if they don’t buy a book. Swag swag swag. LOL.  Before you set foot into the signing space, you need to shout it from the rooftops you’re going to be there. Activity attracts activity and you want to make sure you’re not sitting there looking at Twitter.


What’s the best way to meet people. How do you choose which event to go to?

Charlaine Harris and Jeannine Frost at a RT14 panel. I take lousy photos. Deal with it.

Charlaine Harris and Jeannine Frost at a RT14 panel. I take lousy photos. Deal with it.

Go up and introduce yourself. Just start talking. Everyone is there for the same thing. Yes, that sounds scary as hell, and it is. I suggest the buddy system.  I had two awesome roommates, Angi Black and Sarah Guillory, who I didn’t really know all that well before I went, and thank God they were awesome. It’s a lot less intimidating to enter a room with someone or looking for someone. Reach out to your Twitter or Facebook friends who are going to be at the event, and make sure you find them when you’re there. I spent a lot of time with Zoey Derrick, and because of her met Angel Payne, who was amazing. Anyone you really want to meet? Reach out to them and offer to take them to coffee.

The description of some events will tell you right away if you want to go or not. A YA sleepover party might not interest you, but the NA one? Hell yeah. Some things were publisher hosted, some were general events, and sometimes, you just want to hang out in the lobby and talk.


Best/Worst practices at a convention. 

Have a plan. I like to print out the schedule beforehand so I know what events/panels interest me.
Talk to as many people as possible.
Don’t feel like you have to do everything. Take breaks if you need to.
Try new things.


After putting out all that money, what do you think YOU got out of it? Why is it worth it? 

You might think you have a great reach on social media, with tons of followers and fans, but going to a convention is a way to really get to KNOW those people, for them to put a face to your name, and to get them invested in you, and vice versa.  I talked to Angi on Twitter before we roomed together, but spending five days living with her, I really got to know her. I barely knew Sarah at all, and I was so glad we roomed together because we probably would have never started talking on social media. Other people knew my name, but didn’t really know me, and they got a chance to see what I was all about. Some didn’t realize I had any books out. Twitter moves fast, and everyone has a lot going on.

It was also a chance to get my books in front of readers, simply asking them what type of things they liked to read. The number that said paranormal or urban fantasy was staggering, so I don’t want to hear that paranormal is dead. Readers still want it. A number of people’s eyes lit up when I told them about vampire rock stars. Would they have ever found me in the millions of books available online? Maybe not.

You can also read articles all day long, but to talk to people who are doing things well and pick their brains in person is priceless. Sometimes you find out about things you didn’t even know to ask about that make all the difference in your business. You see marketing, get to see and hear what readers are interested in, and really get to fully immerse yourself into the industry as it’s happening now. I can’t do that on my couch.

Pick conferences well, break out of your shell, and absorb as much as you can.

Writing About Rape and the TRUTH Behind The Darkness of Light

(Today’s post is through Julie but not of Julie)

I’m shaking as I put this up. Our very dear, incredible friend and author, Tammy Farrell gave us the privelege of sharing this story, HER story, and how it transformed into a monumental scene in her novel THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT. We couldn’t be prouder of her for this. Tammy, you’re a hero and a soldier, and we love you.

 

Writing About Rape and the TRUTH Behind The Darkness of Light

They say that if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not growing. Well, let me start by saying that writing this post definitely makes me uncomfortable. Reading it might make you uncomfortable as well. But I’m at a point in my life when I’m ready to start growing…

I think most writers will agree that there is no such thing as 100% fiction. We writers write from our own experiences. We use bits of dialog we’ve heard in real life, we relive our emotions through our characters and, more often than not, no matter how fantastical the story may be, we send our characters on journeys we’ve been on ourselves.

That is what I’ve done in my novel The Darkness of Light, and today I’d like to talk about the REAL inspiration behind this story; the REAL driving force that compelled me to write it.

I’m talking about Mara’s rape.

I want to tell you that I didn’t write a rape scene into my story for the hell of it. I want to tell you the truth behind the fiction. I want to tell you how writing this story was a soul cleansing experience that has given me the courage to unburden myself of my long kept secrets.

*Warning – There will be book spoilers and some triggering content ahead.

Although The Darkness of Light is a fantasy novel, many people don’t realize just how autobiographical this story truly is. I didn’t write this novel to become a famous author. I didn’t write this novel because I wanted to publish it. I wrote this novel because I HAD to write it. I HAD to tell Mara’s story in order to tell my own. In doing so, I was able to rewrite the ending; I was able to give her the strength and the power that I never had.

My hands are shaking.

Let’s start with a deep breath as I begin to uncover the line between fiction and the truth.

I was raped when I was 15 years old. I hate the “R” word. I always have. It feels so sharp to me, like a blade cutting right through my chest. After 16 years I can now write the word, but I still can’t manage to say it out loud without a shudder.

I remember who I was before “IT” happened. I was imaginative and idealistic about life. I felt different from others my age, but in a good way. I felt special, like I knew things others didn’t, like I had notions about life far beyond those of my peers. But, like my character Mara, I was also naïve. I was unafraid. And I was completely unaware of just how close danger lurked.

At 15 I had a boyfriend. Let’s call him “Max”. Max was 17. This was a fairly typical teenage relationship. We dated for several months, hung out after school, and thought we “loved” each other.

While my character Corbin (Mara’s love interest) is mostly inspired by my husband and other fictional characters, he also plays the part of Max, with high moral values, only there is one very important difference between Corbin and Max, which you will see later.

In my novel, Corbin and Malcolm are like brothers. They have a somewhat strained relationship, but throughout the first half of the novel, Corbin feels a loyalty towards Malcolm that blinds him from Malcolm’s true nature. Mara is suspicious of Malcolm right away. He makes her uncomfortable and while she knows in her heart he can’t be trusted, she ignores the many warning signs presented to her.

I made the same mistake. In real life Max had a brother that we’ll call “Ryan”. Ryan was older, 19 years old, maybe even in his 20s, I don’t quite know. I always had an uneasy feeling about Ryan. He was intimidating, large for his age. To me he looked like a full-grown man. He was known for being “tough” and his violent outbursts were well known around town.

The Truth vs. The Book

The Truth – One night in August 1998, I stayed out past my curfew. I thought I’d walk to Max’s house and hang out. We’d had a fight earlier in the evening and went our separate ways. I wanted to apologize and make up. I called Max’s house, he wasn’t home yet, but his brother Ryan was. It was dark outside, so Ryan said he’d meet me half way so I didn’t have to walk alone. I met Ryan at the park and went back to the house to wait. When I got there I discovered that no one else was home. Max’s mom was gone, and his other brothers were out. Immediately I felt edgy, but I wanted to play it cool, so I decided to stay.

The Book – There is a tragedy at Valenia. Corbin is enraged. Mara is devastated. When Corbin decides to leave in order to seek revenge, he and Mara have a falling out. She won’t speak to him. He leaves without resolving the issue, hoping to sort it out when he returns. Mara is left on her own with Rowan, Annora, and Malcolm, Corbin’s “brother”.

The Truth – It seemed like hours went by as I waited for Max to come home, but in that time, hanging out with Ryan wasn’t so bad. We sat in the living room, he on the couch, and I on a big chair, watching TV. We talked a little, and as time went on, I started to think that Ryan wasn’t so bad, that maybe I’d been wrong about him. I remember the phone ringing. Ryan answered it, gave a few terse responses and hung up. “Was that Max?” I asked.
“No,” he said.

Shortly after the phone call, I remember saying I had a headache. Ryan offered me 2 pills and a beer. I foolishly took both, not realizing what was to come. I don’t know how much time passed between taking the pills and the moment my head started to swim. I commented on how tired I was, how funny I felt, how weak I’d become.

The Book – After Corbin leaves, Mara is distraught. Malcolm tries to reason with her, to connect with her, but she shuns him. When she tries to leave Valenia, Malcolm attacks her in her room. He drains her of her power, rendering her weak and incoherent. She can no longer fight him. He has taken all of her power, leaving her in a drugged-like state.

The Truth – This is where time and reality becomes a complete blur to me. I remember feeling like I was floating, being carried to a darkened room. I remember trying to protest, to push him away, but my arms were like Jello, my eyelids heavy. The only thing I remember with clarity is me saying, “What about Max…” hoping this would be reason enough to stop him.

And I remember Ryan’s response. “Sshhhh. You’re my girlfriend now.”

The rest of this encounter comes to me like a vision, like I am out of my body, watching it from the corner of the room before everything goes completely black.

The Book – After Malcolm has taken Mara’s power, he wrestles with regret and his own devious desires. When he eventually gives into the darkest part of him, and forces himself on Mara, she comes to a moment of consciousness and asks, “What have you done, Malcolm?”… to which he responds, “You will be mine now.”

The Truth – The rest of the night remains a clouded mystery to me. I remember bits and pieces that are filled in with dark gaps of the things I don’t know.

I woke up the next morning in agony. Every part of my body hurt and my head pounded like the worst hangover you could ever imagine. It took me a few moments to gather my thoughts, when I realized I was in Max’s room, in Max’s bed. I felt an arm stretched out across me and when I looked over, I was shocked to see Ryan asleep next to me.

I racked my brain trying to figure out what had happened. Had I done this? Did I really do this? I started to blame myself immediately, despite what I already knew in my heart.

Moving as slowly as I could, I tried to slip out from under the arm across my chest. My movement woke him. I froze like a scared rabbit, but then took a deep breath and moved to get up. The arm across me tightened into a painful grip, pushing me back down. I said nothing. I was in a complete state of terror and confusion. I made one more attempt to sit up when he said to me, “Don’t fucking move.”

I didn’t.

The Book – Mara wakes up in agony. Every part of her body hurts. She’s powerless, and confused about what’s happened to her, and as she begins to put the pieces together, she is overcome with sickness. Malcolm comes to her room, smug and arrogant. He threatens to kill those she loves if she doesn’t do what he says. At first she refuses, but to her, his threats are too severe. She eventually submits to his demands and he assaults her once more.

After this she is disgusted with herself, blaming herself for what happened, for not fighting back. At times the reality of it is too much to bear. She lies on the floor shivering, trying to stop the thoughts in her head, and eventually she lets herself fall into a numbed state of anger. All that matters to her now is escape and survival.

The Truth – When I finally managed to get out of that house, and get home, I spent the rest of the day curled in a ball on my bedroom floor. I ignored phone calls. Max called many times wanting to know what was wrong, where I’d been. I couldn’t tell him. How could I admit what happened? How could it NOT have been my fault?

It was two days before I finally agreed to meet with Max…at the park, the same spot I had met his brother 2 nights before. It took me almost an hour to spit out what I had to tell him, and when I finally did, the look on Max’s face was enough to crush my soul all over again. He wasn’t angry. He didn’t call me a slut. But he was cold. I could feel it. Then he told me he believed me. He said he’d called the house that night, asking if I was there and Ryan said no. That was enough to convince him. And suddenly my heart became a little bit lighter. Someone believed me.

Then he pulled away from me. I could feel the coldness return. “Why are you being like this?” I asked.

I’ll never forget what he said…“What do you want me to do? He’s my brother.”

In that moment my entire body felt like it was being crushed. Max ended our relationship right then and there. I begged him not to, begged him not to leave me alone with this. But he couldn’t go against his family, he said.

That night I returned to my bedroom floor, where I stayed for the next few days, until the numbness finally took over.

The Aftermath – Eventually, I went to the police. I made a statement and agreed to press charges. But that’s when the threatening phone calls started, the harassment. I was under attack and I was terrified. When it became too much, I dropped the charges, recanted my statement and lived the rest of my high school years listening to the whispers behind my back. I held my head high, though. When I would pass Max in the halls, I’d keep my chin up, and give him a sad smile. We both knew the truth, but I came to realize that I wasn’t the one who should be ashamed, he was, and Ryan was. Ryan pushed me into the fire and Max was the one who left me to stand in the flames on my own. Ryan was the one who became my awful truth, and Max was the one who chose not to face the truth with me when I had no choice at all.

People have told me not to be angry with Max, and that I should consider how awful his situation must have been. But I’ve never been able to let that part go. Maybe that makes me selfish. But I can’t forget the feeling of being abandoned at my lowest point. I have never gotten over that. It’s a wound that has never healed.

Ryan got away with it, though life dealt him some hard blows. When I was in my 20’s, I began to hear rumors from other women in town, recalling how, in high school, Ryan was known for taking advantage of girls. It wasn’t a victory for me to know this, but it was validating enough to give me some peace.

The Book and rewriting the Truth – Mara is on a desperate search for Corbin. She has to save his life, and her own. But when she finds him, she can’t bring herself to tell him, fearing he will look at her with disgust and turn his back on her forever.

Corbin knows something is wrong, and when he finally gets the truth from her, he is overcome with anger. He leaves her side, screams into the air, pounds his fists on a tree…but when he hears her cries, hears the desperation in her voice, he comes back to reality, crawls to her and takes her in his arms. He soothes her, tells her everything will be all right, and vows to avenge what’s been done to her.

When Mara gets her chance to confront Malcolm, she is terrified, torn between her fear and her determination to get back what he took from her. In the end, Mara does get her power back and gets justice for what Malcolm did to her. But while she gets her revenge, the scars of what he did remain with her, the pain never truly goes away. She does what she can to become whole again, but she can never get back that piece of her that he took. As she says, “Scars are not the reminders of our wounds—they are the marks of our survival.”

And that’s what Mara becomes—a survivor.

In Conclusion

My hands are no longer shaking. Writing this post has been like taking a breath of much needed air. Over the years I have struggled with what happened, blamed myself, felt ashamed. But I’ve learned that I am NOT to blame and that I have NOTHING to be ashamed of. I am finally free from the weight of this story. I thought giving my story to Mara would free me from it. But it didn’t, it gave me the strength I needed to tell my own story, because now I’m not doing it alone. My story IS Mara’s story and her story is mine. We both share the weight of it, making the load much easier to bear.

While I wish my true story had more of a triumphant ending, I can’t change the past and I can’t dwell on it either. Instead, I was able to rewrite it. I was able to call out Malcolm for what he was. I was able to give Mara her power back. That felt like a victory to me.

One review of The Darkness of Light called the ending “Trite” as in clichéd, vapid, unimaginative, stale… I had to laugh when I read that. I’ve spent 16 years dreaming of that ending, wishing for it, desperate for it. That is the ending we all want for stories like this. If that is considered trite, then I am perfectly fine with it.

What’s Next?

A lot of my readers said that they found Malcolm to be an interesting character, and knowing the truth behind the story, you may be wondering why I chose to write the rape scene from his perspective.

I did it because I wanted to understand it. I wanted to understand why someone would do that. I needed to humanize the perpetrator so that he didn’t seem so frightening. In the years that followed my assault, I had to force myself to see Ryan as a whole human being in order to stop fearing him, because monsters are scary, and I couldn’t let him live in my mind as a monster any longer.

The next installment in the series The Embers of Light will have a stronger focus on Malcolm as he deals with his own demons and the consequences of his actions. It’s important to me to tell his story, and to give him the chance to repent, if he decides to.

I also want to study the aftermath with Mara and Corbin. What does this do to Mara in the long run, how does it affect her relationships and can she ever find it in herself to move on? Does she still fear Malcolm, or is she whole again?

There are more truths to come and more endings to be rewritten.
This, my friends, is the beauty of being a writer. We can unburden ourselves of our own truth and create a new story to live with. Thank you for letting me guest blog, thank you to all who’ve read my novel, and thank you for reading MY story. Mara and I are very grateful to you all.

*I welcome questions and I am always willing to speak with other survivors. You can contact me through my website at http://www.TammyFarrell.com, you can find me on twitter @TamzWrite, or on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/thediachronicles

In the United States, April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, please visit Rainn.org for access to resources and support.

Be My Valentine!

Today’s Brew: Caramel Hot Cocoa. Because it’s a special day. Hallmark SAYS SO.

by Kristen

I was at work, bored out of my mind listening to people rave about a new platform to sell investment banking, and I came up with a brilliant idea.  See? Good stuff can come out of sitting in a cubicle.

I decided to ask some of my author friends what their main couples would get each other for Valentine’s Day.

I think Mr. Jacob Farrish would whisk Lady Eleanore Barnaby off for a few days to Bath or Cornwall, to spend time alone. He’s a busy barrister! 😉 She would most likely give him a set of new law books, and a more…um, PRIVATE present later.
–Olivia Kelly, The Heart of a Duke

Corbin would get Mara a new bow and Mara would get Corbin a silver shield. Lol.  Not as fun in the middle ages.
–Tammy Farrell, The Darkness of Light

Beau would get Jack something sarcastic. A slogan tee with ‘If I were chocolate, I’d eat myself‘ written across the front. Or maybe, ‘James Bond 2.0‘  Jack would get Beau a limited edition Yoda doll to replace the one that was broken during the chaos. Or, all things considered, he may get her one of those squidgy stress balls with his face printed on it…
–Louise D. Gornall, In Stone
For their first Valentine’s Day together (if they make it that far, because you’ve got to remember a. They got together two months before graduation and we all know how that usually works out, and b. Tash is kind of an emotional land mine), Grant would most-likely spend weeks stressing over what to get Tash and then eventually ask his mom for guidance. She would tell Grant to get Tash a sweater or something, and Tash would hate it. Tash, on the other hand, would probably be so uncomfortable about the mere thought of taking part in Valentine’s Day that she’d attempt to lighten the mood with some kind of gag gift, and Grant would be horrified because he’d wonder if deep down Tash secretly believes that he would be caught dead wearing a “Female Body Inspector” T-shirt. After a few moments of extremely creative cursing (on Tash’s part) and painful politeness while inwardly violent self-kicking (on Grant’s part), they’d both admit how socially awkward they are and have a good laugh about it together. And then they would make out. The end.
–Isobel Irons, Promiscuous

Abel will give Brandon a customized heart-shaped guitar pick stamped with I PICK YOU, plus a hoodie with the Castaway Planet logo. His valentine card will be very large and festooned with smooching robots, and it will play a tinny “Let’s Get It On” when opened. Brandon will give Abel a limited-edition Captain James P. Cadmus action figure and a giant tin of cinnamon jelly beans, because cinnamon jelly beans will remind him of their road trip always and forever. Also, his construction-paper valentine will look handmade by a monkey with extra thumbs, but Abel will put it under his pillow anyway.
–J.C. Lillis, How to Repair a Mechanical Heart

Tavis would create a special corner in the hedge maze at the Imperial Palace for Faylanna, one with some of her favorite plants from the Gardensia Exotica planted there. It would be secluded, so she could have time to herself if she wanted, or with just Faylanna, Tavis, and their daughter.  Faylanna would secretly arrange with Tavis’ steward to clear several days of commitments and tell him to spend the time any way he wanted, so long as it had nothing to do with being the Crown Prince. They’d end up leaving the city, taking no one but themselves for the week.
–J. Elizabeth Hill, The Nine
 Cerise would give William a doctor costume and he’d go rent a wing of some hospital.
Torren has always loved literature and spent a lot of his free time reading, so as a romantic gift, Lilly would get Torren something book-related, such as an autographed first edition of a book he adores or a new book he hasn’t read yet but which she knows he’ll love. Torren’s romantic gesture for Lilly, on the other hand, would lean toward the experiential rather than the material. He would plan a romantic date and not tell her where they were going. Something super special like showing her a spectacular view she’s never seen before or taking her to a production of Turandot, which was the opera they saw on their first date together and which captivated her and stirred her emotions.
–Jeanie Grey, Awakening 2
Eliza would get Nicholas something ridiculous and so wrong it was right like a plant stand. Nicholas would get Eliza a crazy amount of food, not fancy especially but a lot. Like lobster and stuff. And an onyx necklance. He’d say it was pretty and deathy like her.
–Julie Hutchings, Running Home
Tristan would get Callie an antique sewing machine and some really pretty fabrics, like crushed velvet with a funky dye to it, because she’s been sad she hasn’t been able to make anything since she’s been in Vegas.  Callie would get Tristan a journal, a leather one with a cool cutout pattern for his songs. Then one of them would say something to ruin the whole thing, but they’d make up and have a great night.
–Kristen Strassel, Because the Night

Happy Book Birthday to Tammy Farrell! The Darkness of Light Available Now

Today’s Brew: Blueberry Bliss.

by Kristen

Tammy Farrell’s historical fantasy, The Darkness of Light, is available today! I’m about halfway through reading the book now. It’s a lush fantasy set in the United Kingdom. It’s got magic, murder, love, loss, betrayal…what else can you ask for?  Pick up your copy and we can all chat about how it ends!

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At the dawn of the sixth century, in the aftermath of her mother’s brutal execution, Mara Black is forced to flee the only life she has ever known.

Mara can tell she’s different, but isn’t sure why. After she encounters two mysterious strangers, she discovers her secret is but a drop in an ocean of many. She is a Dia, a descendant of ancient gods, and her mother sacrificed herself to protect Mara from their past.

Summoned by an uncle she didn’t know existed, Mara thinks she’s found the family she’s always wanted, and Corbin, a love she never thought possible. But not everything is as it seems. Her uncle has other motives for protecting her, and her mentor, Malcolm, becomes so jealous, he’ll do anything to get what he wants. When tragedy strikes, and the true darkness among them comes to light, Mara discovers that sometimes love can give you everything, and obsession can take it all away. With her powers gone, and destiny calling, she has to look deep within to find the courage to save herself. Mara, along with Corbin and her newfound family, must fight to get back what was taken, or die trying.

Available NOW!

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FLASH FICTION FRIDAY!! Bones by Tammy Farrell

TODAY’S BREW: This Columbian Something or Other that benefits Save The Children. BECAUSE I AM SO KIND.

By Julie

I LIED! This post isn’t really by me, because today is FLASH FICTION FRIDAY!! And true to our roots, we have a vampire story for you, by the wonderful Tammy Farrell. We’re fans of Tammy’s on Twitter (follow her @TamzWrite), and we’re both really excited for her novel THE DARKNESS OF LIGHT to come out on January 28th!! I mean, LOOK AT THIS COVER.

The Darkness of Light (The Dia Chronicles) by Tammy Farrell (Jan. 2014)

YAAAAAAY!  (Trust me, add her on Goodreads here https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18628472-the-darkness-of-light). For now, enjoy her short story, Bones!

  Bones

The scent of lilacs and orchids swept over me, but it wasn’t from her hair anymore. That surely faded some time ago. Now the aroma came from the vibrant bouquet atop her headstone, mixed with the musty odor of damp soil and a rotting corpse.

I dug deeper, using all of my immortal strength to reach the coffin. The dead were a definite six feet under in those days, sure to keep the plague from rising up. My dark trousers and white cotton shirt were torn and filthy from my frenzied digging.

There wasn’t much time left before dawn.

I swept a strand of black hair from my face, completely unaware of the wretched monster I’d become. What did it matter? No one was around to see me, not at that hour.

Two years had passed since I last saw Clara’s angelic face. She was the picture of innocence at 17, and from the first moment I saw her, I knew I wanted her. The last night of her life, was the first night I went to her. There was no need to glamour her then, for my alabaster skin and fair brown eyes were mesmerizing enough.

She made no sound when I entered her room, and she watched me with large blue eyes as I closed in on her, stepping to the rhythm of her mortal heart.

I wanted her. I wanted her blood, and I wanted her spirit.

“Be with me forever.” I whispered in her ear. “Be my bride.”

She smiled—even in the face of a night demon—she smiled.

I ran my fingers through her precious golden hair, and her perfume coiled through the air until it was all around me. Then I cupped my hand on her warm cheek, and with my sharp thumb-nail, I grazed the smooth texture of her skin.

She let me wrap my arms around her as I leaned in to bite. She was to be mine. Soon I would not only taste her sweet blood, but give it back to her and make her my immortal companion.

My immortal bride.

When I pierced her flesh she gasped, and I drew at the pulsing life that flowed over my tongue like a thick, delectable syrup. While it coursed through my veins I became entranced by the heavenly light that came with her blood.

I was lost in her.

When I finally pulled away it took several seconds before the light faded from my eyes and I was able to see my princess. She was limp on the bed, her eyes were open in a vacant stare and the swell of her bosom no longer rose and fell with each breath. I waited for her to move, but her arms hung at her sides like a fallen branches.

She was gone.

The next week I visited her grave, anguished at my ravenous attempt to make her mine, but instead, like a fool, I took her life.

I watched the freshly dug mound as if she might break through at any moment, but all was silent. Even the little bell attached to her headstone, used by those who had been buried alive, was still with death.

“My darling,” I sobbed into the ground. I was certain I was alone, but my moment of anguish was soon interrupted when I heard a gentle whisper in my ear.

“William. William,” it said in a voice like a thousand ringing bells.

I perked my ears as the voice called to me.

“William, it is Clara, I am here. I am your immortal princess, just as you desired.”

I wiped the tears of blood from my eyes and peered around the cemetery for the source of the ethereal sound. “Is that really you, darling?” I called out. “How is it I can hear you when you are buried beneath the earth?”

“You wanted me forever, and I am yours,” the voice rang out. “I will be with you now forever.”

“Yes, but I did not want a spirit,” I cried. “I wanted you whole.”

“You wanted me and now I am yours.”

I waited for her ghost to appear before me, to see her face once more, but the night was unmoved and I cursed the God that would send a formless spirit to haunt me.

The following evening I was awoken, not from my nightly hunger, but from the echoing chant of my bodiless bride.

“Wake up, my love. The sun has set.”

“Leave me now, child,” I urged. “Go to the heavens where you belong. I have no need for such a being.”

“You said forever, love, and forever is what you will get.”

This was the first of many nights that her presence would stalk me. Even as I wandered the streets, she would speak for my ears alone, and anyone in my company would retreat from my constant bickering with the air. When I hunted, she spoke to me, spoiling the comfort I might find in the blood of my prey. She was vicious and relentless and would give me no peace.

I endured two years of this torment and no amount of pleading or prayer would drive her away. When I found myself back at the cemetery I was desperate, and resolved to unearth her. It was then I noticed the silence. I dug faster.

Finally, when the sharp blade of my fingernail scraped the surface of her coffin, I almost expected her to scream from within. And when I punctured the lid with my clenched fist, her voice remained unheard. Only the crickets and night owls kept me company.

Through the jagged whole of the lid I saw her skull. The large black holes where her beautiful eyes once rested looked up at me, and the wide, toothy grin seemed to mock me. I lifted her out, thinking the skeleton might come to life, but it did not.

Her body of bones was clothed in a white lace dress that had begun to yellow, and I laughed at the irony of it. Here was my bride of bones, dressed in her wedding gown.

Her remains crackled when I gathered them into my arms and for the first time in two years, I knew peace.

My strides were long and steady as I made my way out of the cemetery, cradling the dress and bones close to my chest. I now had my bride, and her voice was finally hushed. That night I went to sleep for the day as I have every day since then, with my bride of bones tucked close by my side. A small price to pay, I suppose, for my peace of mind.

http://tammyfarrell.com/the-writing-life/    Main web page is tammyfarrell.com.

Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss

Today’s Brew:  More Pumpkin Spice.  I’m obsessed with the K cups, but I can’t stomach Pumpkin Spice Lattes. Too sweet.  I know, an angry mob of white girls is going to come take my yoga pants away.

by Kristen

There’s a new Bridget Jones book coming out.

While I applaud the idea of a 51 year old heroine, I’m kind of scratching my head why this series is being dusted off 10 years after the last movie was released.

Bridget Jones Diary

I’m not surprised.  Hollywood loves a remake, we know that.  Are any of them ever better than the original?  There’s a revamped Carrie coming out. The creepiest part of the original movie was Sissy Spacek. That cannot be recreated.  Ever.

You can’t out-creep this.

Entertainment is expensive to create.  Movies and TV shows cost millions of dollars to bring to you, books can cost thousands to launch.  Music videos and tours take an army to execute.  So anyone who’s funding these ventures obviously likes a sure bet.

But is this at the expense of the reader/watcher/listener?  Is there really nothing new worth investing in?

I can’t help but keep an eye on when agents and publishers say what they’re looking for on Twitter.  The #mswl (manuscript wishlist) tag on Twitter is always interesting. But Julie made an interesting and accurate observation.

Agents are looking for something fresh and new. Publishers are looking for something that will sell.

This means a lot of agented manuscripts will fall through the cracks. They might be different, but they’re risky. Again, I ask, what about the reader?

Fellow writer, Tammy Farrell watched a #mswl heavy day and remarked:  “I wouldn’t be interested in reading many of the books these agents are looking for.”

This should be eye opening for anyone working in publishing.  When I asked her more, Tammy said she wants to read adult books, and most of what she saw “wished” for was YA.  Did YA explode because publishing took away our other reading choices?  I gravitate to the YA section in Barnes and Noble, because the books are merchandised the best of any section in the store, and the covers draw me in.  I don’t get that luxury in the neglected Sci Fi section or even the Romance section (which is the top selling genre.)  I have to find those books on my own, through word of mouth and research.  Simply put, I have to work for what I really want.

I’ve had this same complaint about music for a long time.  If I don’t listen to the top 40 or country station, it’s hard to find a song that’s less that 20 years old on the radio.  So, by what the radio is telling me, that means there’s no rock music made in the last 20 years worth championing?  Bull. Shit. Top 40 and Country are sure bets right now.  Rock is risky.  I have to dig on Myspace Radio, Spotify, or simply just ask a teenager what’s good and new.  Think of all the great talent that’s getting neglected. What if the next Led Zepplin or Jimi Hendrix gave up because they just couldn’t financially justify pursuing their music anymore? That pisses me off.  Just as much as being forced to listen to ACDC for the ten thousandth time.

Artists and consumers are losing out.  Eventually, as consumers get more savvy, they will cut out the corporate, mainstream middle man to find what they are looking for. Finally, it will be the publishers and big music companies that will be missing out.

I’m excited about this.  We need to be looking forward for the next big thing, not backward.

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