Friday, August 29, 2008

Some Cool News to Share

First off, I will be attending Fear Fest 3 in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to promote my book. I will be sharing space with my good friends from Creepy Classic Videos. She has some truly awesome zombie t-shirts, caps, totes, and lots of good ol' horror movies. I've attended cons with her before, but this is my first time I'm actually vending my own stuff and not just helping with her table!

I'm so excited!

For details, click on the links in the sidebar of this blog. If you're in the area, please come and check it out, buy and book and chat.

Second good news is my short story Vengeance on Scribd has made the Hot List. I'm very excited about this. It was awesome to get that news today.

This is a very short update, but hopefully I'll have more in the future.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Why I Am An Independent Author

In the last few days I have received more than one referral to a publishing house that is looking for zombie novels. A year ago I would have been dancing in my chair with excitement. Today it just makes me reflect on why I have chosen the route of independent publishing. I'll be honest. Sometimes I have to remind myself.

I think a lot of people who aspire to be writers have a fantasy in their head that is very hard to give up. King, Koontz, Rice, and other big money authors inspire dreams of big houses, no money worries, days full of writing the stories you want to write, shelves full of best sellers, and the world at your feet. For most published authors this is still their fantasy.

Most published authors continue to work day jobs as they churn out their writing. According to multiple sources online, the average advance is around $5,000 (I know a author that was offered $2,000 for three years of hard work and research-she walked away from it). I've seen royalties listed between 6% to 9%. Though some writers do make a living writing, it is not a lush living and they have to work damn hard to keep in the game. Factor in the horror stories I've heard over and over again about royalty payments that do not arrive on time (or at all) and the complexity of some of the publishing housing bookkeeping (you don't get royalties until your advance is paid back), and it makes my head swim just thinking about it.

Additionaly, most of the time, writers are responsible for their own promotion and marketing (unless you're a big name or a celebrity).

Beyond that, writers don't control the name of their book or the cover artwork. Whatever the publishing house decides on, that is usually it. It is rare an author gets input.

Sometimes writers even end up having their manuscripts hacked apart and put back together by someone else to meet the specifications of the editor (who is trying to get out a book that will sell big).

And in the end, the rights to the books are signed over by the writer. I had my own close call when the small publishing house interested in one of my books closed before I could sign a contract with them. I could have ended up with it in copyright limbo.

These are all the reasons why I opted to go the independent. I wanted creative control (cover artwork, title, formatting, content), financial control (my own eshop and listing with monthly accounting and payment), and my own deadlines. Also, I figured if I have to do my own promotion and marketing anyway, might as well make sure the book is the way I want it to be.

Lynn Viehl, a successful writer (she has appeared on the NYC bestseller list) wrote this in her blog "Publishing can be very efficient about some things, like squashing silly expectations. After three years of working this amazing job I'd worked so hard to get, I was unhappy, lonely, ignored and pretty much friendless. I wanted to quit, and I almost did." (you can read the entire post here).

I like the creative process of writing. I also love the creative process of putting my own book together (cover art, formatting, etc). When I held the proof copy in my hands, it was MY book and it was a fabulous feeling.

I had to make a choice earlier this year. Did I want to hammer myself against the gates to the traditional publishing world or do things my way? Which would make me happier? Which would be more rewarding?

I've made my choice. And it did mean killing a dream I had lived with for YEARS. The fantasy I once held dear is now known to be false, but illusion is sometimes so much more alluring than reality. I'm trying to embrace reality. It isn't easy.

But I've made my choice.

And this is only the beginning...

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Nightmares Guaranteed!!

A co-worker announced today that she had a zombie weekend and that I had given her nightmares. To say I am glowing with pride is an understatement. She loved the book (her favorite characters were Travis and Katie) and demanded to know when the next book is coming out. Horror is not her thing, so she read the book to support me. That she ended up loving it makes me feel incredible.

In fact, I feel kind of flushed and giddy.

Another co-worker showed this blog off to his friends last night and they were very excited about the book and my determination to be an Independent Author. That was also encouraging.

Considering that I have done hardly any promotion of the book so far, the sales are doing well and the word of mouth is spreading.

I'm excited to see how things go once I get out there and really start pushing the book.

For those of you who have read the book, please let me know what you thought.

Thanks again for all your support!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Surrounded by Zombies

Strange how I ended up with a zombie trilogy, a zombie novella, and a series of zombie short stories considering my first and foremost love is for the vampire. Though, if I consider my past carefully, I realize that my love for the vampire was born out of my stark fear. They were my childhood bogeymen. They were the things I feared most appearing outside my window. Vampires were my night terror, my personal demon, my greatest fear. The only way I could make peace with that fear was to embrace them, to write about them.

I suppose, in a way, that is what I have now experienced with the zombies. The first time I saw Day of the Dead as a kid, I threw up. It terrified me. I refused to watch anymore zombie movies until an old boyfriend talked me into watching Night of the Living Dead with him. I had such terrible nightmares afterward, again, I swore off watching zombie films.

When my husband and I first started hanging out, we realized quickly we had a lot in common. We were constantly together and never bored, so I suppose it was inevitable we would end up together. For some reason, we decided to watch George A. Romero's Zombie Trilogy. I fell utterly in love with the movies. They scared me to death, but I loved the characters in the stories. I winced for those I cared about when they fell and cheered when ones I hated got their comeuppance. I tried watching a few other zombie movies after I was done with the original trilogy, but none had the feel or the emotional resonance that Romero's did.

I did enjoy the remake of Dawn of the Dead, but again, I only truly cared about whether or not one character lived or died (and he was bitten right before the boat). I feared the zombies, but I just didn't care too much about the characters.

I'm not sure why I wrote that first short story (Tiny Fingers). Maybe it was to gain control over a bad nightmare I had. Or just to try something different. I remember just wanting to get the story into words and posted for people to see. I had read a lot of online zombie fiction before I wrote my own story. And like at lot of the zombie movies, I just didn't really care about the characters or the situations they were in.

As The World Dies: The First Days is exactly what I wanted it to be. A strong zombie story with lots of action, gore and characters you care about. I would never claim to be the master story teller George Romero is in his wonderful tales of the undead, but he definitely inspired me to find the heart of the story and embrace it.

I still love my vampires. I will be returning to them. I admit I was rather snobbish about my vampire novels and treated my zombie story like the red headed stepchild in the beginning. But I have learned to embrace both sets of monsters and the worlds they inhabit.

I'm okay with being not just a writer of vampire fiction, but of zombie fiction as well.

But those's a whole other story...

Friday, August 22, 2008

Zombies, zombies, zombies....and more zombies

I definitely have zombies on the brain. A week after its release As The World Dies is doing well and I'm very excited. I'm definitely pleased with how things are going and I know it is only going to get better. I should have a few new announcements soon for all you zombie fans.
I hope to get a new mini-chapter for Lenore and Ken up soon. I have part of it written, but with the book coming out and family visiting this week, I have not been able to finish it up.
I promise more zombies soon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

As The World Dies is Available on!!!

As The World Dies is now available on Amazon. com. Though I prefer the fans buy the book from my own eShop (I get a better royalty), I realize sometimes it's much easier for people to buy from

My first three reviews are up. When I read them I almost cried.

Two are from the proof readers of As The World Dies. They were lucky (or unlucky) enough to read the proof copy and offer up suggestions. One is a horror writer. The other is also a writer, but doesn't like horror. Between the two of them, I was fairly sure they could give me some great insight and suggestions. I'll be honest. Having a horror writer read your stuff is nervewracking because you want the horror fans to love your story. Having a non-horror fan read it, was nervewracking because it was definitely not her genre. The fact that they both loved the book was very flattering and encouraging.

As soon as they heard that the book was on Amazon, they both hopped over to give their support.

The third review is from a fan. What he wrote literally made me cry. When I showed it to my Mother, she choked up quite a bit, too. My mother is very supportive and I don't think she could be any prouder of me. She HATES zombies and horror novels, but loved my book. And since she has been editing and critiquing my works since I was around 10 years old, I know if she doesn't like something, she will tell me. But she loved the book and the characters. She is so excited she's trying to find out where she can find an old mannequin so she can make me a zombie to carry around to conventions. She is a painter, so I know she would do a great job. She has already volunteered to help me man my table at the convention I am planning to attend in October.

The last few days have been a blur. I've been visiting with family (and having them visit me) and I've barely had time to log on and do anything to support the release of the book. I hope to pick up the slack this week and this coming weekend.

For those of you who have ordered the book, let me know what you think when you receive it. I have heard back from one fan and he declared it "beautiful". Frankly, I think it is, too. The cover artwork just blows me away.

For those of you who have read the story, your reviews on would be highly appreciated. Also, spread the word to any horror fans you may know.

Thanks again for all your support!

Friday, August 15, 2008

I'm a Published Author

My book is officially available to buy. I have a beautiful complete copy sitting on my desk at home. I have a book signing set up. I'm planning on attending a horror convention in October. And I'm watching the book sales slowly come in.

I'm published.

I think I'm in shock.

Of course, some would argue that because I'm an Independent Author my book doesn't count in the traditional publishing world. Frankly, I don't care what they think. It's the opinion of my fans and the new readers that discover As The World Dies that matters to me. My audience is my priority.

This is the beginning and it feels good.

It's The End Of The World As We Know It

Well, actually, this is the day the zombies rise.

YAY! It's the official release date for As The World Dies: The First Days!! It's here at last and I'm so excited! The fans can finally buy the book they've been clamoring for.

Please buy the book if you loved it online. I think you'll be pleased with the updates. And spread the word to anyone else who loves the zombie genre.

This is the first step toward bringing you more solid stories and your support will help make it happen.

Click on the cover of the novel in the sidebar to go the my own eShop where the novel is being sold exclusively. It will be available on in the next few weeks, but my royalty is better if you buy it from my own shop.

If you want a cool new shirt for the new school year or just to hang out in, please check out the As The World Dies t-shirt also in the sidebar.

The proceeds from the novel and the t-shirt will go to funding the next two books.

Thanks again for your support!!!

I'm bouncing off the walls with excitement.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

A Secret For You

If you click on the book cover of As The World Dies: The Firs Days, you will discover a secret.

You can buy it today!!!

This is, of course, just between me and you...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Twilight-Sparkly Vampires and the People Who Love Them

My brush with fandom has been limited, but enjoyable. When I wrote my column Midnight Musings with the Goth Goddess for the Central Texas entertainment mag The Edge Magazine, I was surprised to receive fan mail. I was writing about the scene I love (Goth/Industrial) and it was actually quite a bit of fun. To end up having people writing in to me to tell me how much they were enjoying my column was a surprise, but also quite reassuring. To find out I had an audience was actually a very nice feeling. I wasn't just writing for myself after all.

Fast forward to the original posting of "Tiny Fingers" (the first scene in As The World Dies) a year later and the immediate response I received from people wanting more. Again, I was a little floored. My FIRST FAN, as I like to call him, was nice enough to PM me and encourage me when along with the praise and requests for more, I got a few really snarky comments from old timers on the board. I kept writing and the emails and messages kept coming in. If not for that first batch of die hard fans, I'm not sure if I would have kept going. I never did see myself as a writer of zombie apocalyptic horror, so to end up writing what ended up to be a fairly epic story, shocked me. I give full credit to the fans that kept me going.

Which brings me to the most powerful fandom out there right now. The Twilighters. They are die hard, fanatical, devoted and passionate about the Twilight series. In fact, I was not going to read Twilight at all (though I thought the cover was amazing) until someone in my book club selected that book for the month of August. I picked the book up in WalMart while grocery shopping and ended up devouring it in three days as I rode the Capital Metro bus to work.

I have to say the book was like crack. I could not freaking put it down. And yet I was annoyed with quite a few things in the book, yet I kept reading. I couldn't stop reading. I wanted to finish and figure out what was going on. By the time I hit the last page, I was glad I had read Twilight, but I honestly didn't feel like reading the rest of the books.

If I had read this book in my teens or even early twenties, I am pretty sure I would have plowed through to the end of the series. It definitely is in the tradition of old romance novels and very appealing if you're hoping for a true, romantic love to show up in your life. I think Edward is definitely part of the tradition of the brooding, almost cruel hero from classic literature from Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre. I disliked him a good portion of the book, yet I sympathized with him. Bella came across like most teenage girls and she didn't really bother me at all.

I was disappointed to find out there were going to be three more books. I felt Twilight should have ended with Edward making Bella a vampire. Yet, I couldn't blame the fans for wanting more. I decided to check out of the series because I just couldn't see there being any possibility of a triangle that everyone was talking about (Bella was totally smitten with Edward). The last book, Breaking Dawn, recently came out and a lot of people have been disappointed in its resolution of a love triangle I found difficulty in even believing in after the first book.

Watching the posts flying back and forth between a lot of those who hated the last book and the ones who loved it, I couldn't help but wonder if the fandom had actually worked against their own writer and the series they loved.

What do I mean by that?

By the fans wanting more, the author may have stretched out the story too long. I believe strongly that a story should have a definitive arc to it that makes sense and doesn't feel forced. I believe that well-crafted characters need to operate within the structure of their personality. To force a character to do something that goes against their established nature just comes across as tampering and jarring. To force a story arc to last longer that it should makes the story seem long winded and watered down. And to break the rules of your established cannon, well, that's just wrong.

When you have a fan base, you definitely feel an obligation to give them what they want. Of course, you may take this in a wrong direction and give them what they literally want, point by point, and end up throwing off your own story. I remember The Lost World movie was a huge disappointment to many who had read the sequel to Jurassic Park and Steven Spielberg said he had basically filled the movie with scenes the fans wanted to see. The last of the Twilight series seemed to follow this pattern. One of the common complaints I read against the book was that the pregnancy of Bella and how she gets everything she wants with zero sacrifice, felt like fan fiction.

I adore my fans. I listen to my fans. But I also know what the characters and the story demand to make the books solid reads. Some fans lobbied hard for certain characters to stay alive in As the World Dies and I struggled with a few of the deaths. I'm a big ol' softie by nature, but I knew that certain characters were not making it to the end of the books. Their natural story arc would end in their deaths and to tamper with it would water down the overall story. It was HARD at times to write those deaths. I loved the characters. I loved their voices, but I knew I could not betray the world I had created.

Fans are a powerful force in the lives of a writer. They can lift you up when you're down and feeling overwhelmed. They can inspire you to keep going when you feel utterly burned out. But, I believe that a writer needs to not cater to the specific demands of a fan base, but do their best to give their fans the best damn story they can. No pulled punches. No easy outs.

I think the Twilighters are an amazing fan base. Devoted to a degree that is almost mind-boggling, but the disappointment of so many with the last book in the series did inspire me to deep introspection about my writing and my own fans.

I love you, guys and gals. I'll give you the best story I can. You just may not always be particularly happy with me.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Things Are Kicking Into Gear

We're getting ready for publication of As The World Dies: The First Days and I believe we are on track to hit our deadline. I'm a bit of a nervous wreck to get it all done on time. I'm praying for zero delays. We'll see how it goes.

The shop will be going live next week on my website and there will be a handy button on the main page and the novel page that will take you to my shop where you can buy the book. I believe it will not be available at Amazon until near the end of the month, so my shop will carry the novel first.

A few people asked me about merchandise for the book and we're working on that as well. My husband did design a really kick ass t-shirt you can find here. We will be ordering our own test copy soon, so you may want to hold off until we get a good look at it. But if you want to buy one anyway, that is up to you.

I appreciate all the fan support I have received and thank you again for all your emails.

There is the basic traditional black t-shirt and a variety of styles for women as well. We're working on another idea that will have a new cartoon graphic of Jenni fighting zombies. That won't be ready for a little bit longer.

Any sales of the t-shirts will fund the new artwork from Detra for the next two novels. Since I am an Independent Author, I have to find room in my own budget to pay for all the expenses connected with the book. Any profits from the book and the merchandise will help me continue to publish future books in the As The World Dies series and beyond.