Friday, December 26, 2008

Taliesin Meets Pretty When She Dies!!

One of my all time favorite blogs is Taliesin Meets The Vampires. I really enjoy his reviews of all things vampire and, as I stated before, his blog has introduced me to movies I never knew existed.

A few weeks back he mentioned he wanted to read Pretty When She Dies, so I sent him an eBook version. I just wanted to know what he thought of it since he is such a huge fan of the vampire genre. I wasn't really expecting any kind of review, but when he alerted me he was going to mention it in his blog, I started biting my nails. He is a die hard vampire genre fan. His opinion does mean a lot to me.

So tonight (I am up so damn late) he posted about Pretty When She Dies.

*insert girly scream here*

What I was completely thrilled about was this part:
"However, I was even more impressed with the handling of Cian’s character. Here was one of the gone human, softer and more romantic vampires (though thankfully not angst-ridden) and Rhiannon took him as a character and rebirthed him into vampiredom (as it were) through his interaction with Amaliya. In many respects he was like the genre itself having gone soft, tried to be human and then remembering what it should be."

That is EXACTLY what I wanted to do with Cian's character and I loved taking him from a watered-down, more "human" vampire and bringing him back firmly into his vampiric nature.

I feel so good right now.

So, the cover for ATWD 2 is done. Pretty When She Dies gets a nice shout out.

I'm good.

I'm going to sleep now.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive Cover sneak peak!

Detra posted the cover for As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive on his deviantart page. You can hop over to see his remarks on it and leave a comment.

So...what do you think?

I'm still in total shock over how well he captured Jenni and Katie's personalities. And those zombies RAWK.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas!!!

I've been working on a blog post for the last week, but it is nowhere near being done. With the holidays in full force, I just don't have the time to finish it up as we prepare to have friends and family visiting.

Therefore, I am going to take this time to very quickly wish all of you the very best Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Chicken or the Egg? Or is it, the Character or the Story?

We all have a favorite character of a book, comic, movie or TV show. It can be the hero, who inspires devotion, or the villain, who inspires fear. It can be a quirky supporting cast member that adds a dash of something extra into the mix that makes the story richer.
They are so dynamic, so intense, and so vital to the story, you just cannot imagine them not being there. Imagine Family Guy without Stewie.

You got my point.

One consistent comment made in reviews about As The World Dies: The First Days, is that the characters of the story are well-developed and come across as real people. Some fans have written me to say that the two leads, Jenni and Katie, feel like friends.

I understand how they feel. When I write about the dead world Jenni and Katie live in and the people that surround them, I try to portray them as real, flesh and blood people facing tough choices. I firmly believe that if you want your story to be compelling you have to have characters that people care about. I try hard with even minor characters to create people that seem real and feel like someone you may know.

Otherwise, when I kill them, you're not going to cry. *evil grin*
But kidding aside, when people ask me what comes first, the story or the characters, I have no real definitive answer. Sometimes the character just appears in my head and I have no idea what their story is, just who they are. Jenni was like that. She just appeared in my mind's eye one day when I was at work. I saw her standing on her front porch, staring at these tiny fingers pressed under the front door, holding her bathrobe closed with one hand, and shivering in chilled morning air. It was a sharp, vivid image. And I knew nothing about her story, but I wanted to. So I wrote what I "saw" in my mind's eye as soon as I could take a break. I'm an organic writer, so one sentence lead to the next and I was along for the ride. When Katie arrived, I had no idea who she was either! All I knew was that she was saving Jenni from certain death. Once they were safely inside the truck, I finished my "short story" that I named Tiny Fingers.

Or I thought it was a short story.

It's now a trilogy, so what do I know?

What kept me writing (beyond the initial response from readers on the forum I posted it on) was the characters. I wanted to know what would happen to Jenni and Katie and if they would live or die. So I kept writing.

But sometimes, the story comes first and I have no idea who will populate the new world. When that happens, I start considering who might have a role in the story and usually that spurs on my imagination and characters start appearing. There are certain things that help me "discover" a character.

  • What they look like

  • Their name

  • Their occupation

  • Their primary motivation in life
Once I have decided on these traits, the character usually comes into sharp focus and I "get" them.

Example: Peggy from As The World Dies

  • She's in her early forties, somewhat plain looking, obviously a smoker from the condition of her skin, and has a very husky voice that drawls out in a thick West Texas accent

  • Peggy-It just felt right for her. It was almost Patsy, but Peggy just felt more solid.

  • City Secretary of a small Texas town. I have met many of these ladies. They are no nonsense, hard workers who run their towns. Trust me. The power in a small town in Texas is the city secretary, not the mayor.

  • To take care of her town and her son. When she doesn't feel in control of what is going on, her stress levels overwhelm her. She's emotional, but tough
Once I had these basics down, the character became solid and well-rounded.

My favorite books are ones with a solid plot, good dialog and characters I can care about. I can't stand to read a book where the characters seem to slip and slide from one persona to another. They never seem to have an consistency and are just used to forward the plot.

Here are a few pointers to make a good character. I've gleaned this information from my favorite and not so favorite writers as I've figured out from their writing what works and what doesn't.

  • Do not create a perfect character. A perfect person, who knows everything, never fails, never stumbles, never doubts, and never struggles is boring. If the reader figures out the character is so perfect he/she will never make a mistake, all suspense is gone.
  • Don't create a character that has traits that would make she or he unlikable in the real world, but have everyone in your novel love her/him. Your characters should respond realistically. It makes zero sense for your unlikable character to have the undying adoration of the masses if he or she is a total dick.
  • If you establish firmly a certain personality trait about your character, don't abruptly toss it away if it doesn't fit where you want the plot to go. Have a good reason for your character to go against their nature. It causes tension, drama and character development.
  • Keep up a consistency about your characters appearance. I remember being annoyed when I was growing up with the Nancy Drew books. In one book her hair was the color of bronze, the next she was strawberry blond.
  • Don't blur the line between your character and you. Your character is not you and you are not your character. If your character is an avatar for you, then you'll end up doing wacky shit to try and protect her and her choices (no matter how crazy.) Yes, LKH, I'm thinking of you and Anita Blake.
Characters are vital to a story. They should never be treated as secondary. Books I've read that have weak characterization are not ones I remember fondly, or even at all.

If you're about to start a new writing project, or working on one now, I highly recommend working on your character biographies before you dive in. Your story will be richer and better for it.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Artwork For As The World Dies: Fighting To Survive is "Under Construction"

Just so you know, Detra is working on the second cover of The As The World Dies Trilogy. I'm so excited!! He is such an amazing artist and I love how he perfectly captured my girls on the cover of the first book.

He's going to take his first version of the cover and modify it so Jenni and Katie will be on the cover along with zombies!! YAY!!

One major reason I did not sign with the publishing house that made an offer on the trilogy is because I would have lost creative control and not having Detra's amazing artwork on the covers just does not sit well with me. He is freaking awesome and I just could not imagine his artwork not being on the covers.

Even if one day I were to sign with a publishing house and they would release new editions of the trilogy, I would cherish the ones with Detra's artwork. They reflect my vision for the books perfectly.

Please check out his artwork here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Heavy Metal and Zombies...WORKS FOR ME!!! Sorta.

I debated posting this since the Metallica guys tend to be total jerks about the new media despite their kick ass music. I have more than one ex-boyfriend in my past who worshiped these guys. My husband hates them. And their music. And their douche bag ways of attacking the new media.

But...*sigh*...I gotta give them props for the zombie love. This doesn't make me want to forgive them for acting like assholes in the past, but it does make me think they are slightly okay for liking zombies.

And, yes, Metallica, I had my novel online for FREE for years. And we loaded up a free eBook version on the bit torrents. My husband and I are well aware that people like to hold a book in their hands and we didn't see it as a way of killing our sales, but building them. Kinda like when people like a band's music, they buy merchandising and attend concerts.

I still continue to put out free fiction on my Scribd page because I believe if people know you're good at your craft, they will be interested in supporting you.

And this video is pretty damn'm supporting it. know...zombes rawk, babyee!

The Zombie Survial Pack

I want this!

It's soooooooooooooooooooooo cool!

Is it wrong how much I want it?

Hell, I would stuff it full of anti-zombie devices.

I love You can find the absolute most awesome things on there.

Monday, December 8, 2008

A Quickie Update

This weekend was an epic fail on all counts. *sigh*

Basically, I was sick all weekend, miserable, cranky, weepy, and heavily medicated. I laid on the sofa and stared at the TV most of it. The upside to being taken down and out by the common cold was that I actually relaxed and watched some movies I had been meaning to see. The hubby and I saw Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Doom Generation, The Orphanage, and 2001 Space Odyssey. Yep, that's a pretty diverse set of movies, but they were all very good in their own way.

Because of my illness, I didn't get any writing down that I can boast about. I did get a little bit written on my newest short story on Friday night, but Saturday morning I woke up feeling like a zombie and that was that. I hope to jump back in really soon and finish that story up. I really like it a lot.

As The World Dies: The First Days continues to sell really well. I want to thank everyone who has recommended it to friends, forums, family members, and zombie fanatics. I sincerely believe that the fans are the ones fueling the sales. Just on alone, the book has sold over 400 copies since it was published on August 15, 2008. The sales from Kindle and other sources have pushed the total number ever closer to 500. It's very exciting as an Indie Author to see this number increasing. In all honesty, I did not know how well the book would do when I decided to go on this path. I had read where some Indie Authors only sold 50 books in the first 6 months after publication. To have the book doing so well is a confirmation that zombie fans are embracing the story with two female leads and enjoying it.

As The World Dies: Fighting To Survive continues to be on track for publication. I received the edits from the editor today in the mail. It feels awesome to have the edits in my anxious little hands.

Meanwhile, Pretty When She Dies is having a slow start. I anticipated this because I haven't really done much promotion for the novel. The first two interviews for the novel are not happening until February and I have yet to send out the review copies. Also, without the Look Inside feature and more reviews up on, I think its going to be slow going for a little while. But I do believe that once vampire fans discover the book, it will do well. Hell, I'm a vampire fan and I totally love it. And I'm VERY hard on my own writing.

One last thing, As The World Dies: The First Days is the book club selection of the book club I'm a part of. Oh, my gawth! I'm nervous! But the hostess finished the book in 24 hours and told me she loved it, so maybe I won't get burned at the stake.

*bites nails*

I'll keep you updated as things move forward on the next book in the zombie trilogy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Freakin' Zombies.! Why Won't They Leave Me Alone!??!

Last night, all I did was dream about zombies.


It was like watching an anthology of shorts with different people/families trying to escape on the first days of the apocalypse. Sheer insanity. One desperate family was trying to escape a FEMA camp where the zombies were amassing outside the fences, but more survivors just kept getting routed into it. Another was a group of teenagers trying to get home and the older sister makes a really bad choice (when one of the kids opened the back door, I forced myself to wake up). Another was a grandmother, mom, and their kids trying to find safe refuge. There were soldiers firing randomly at cars and people as they lost control of the population. People running on foot when their cars couldn't go any further.


It was awful.

I woke up and I was ragingly sick. Fever, swollen eyes, coughing, sore throat, asthma, the whole shebang.

I thought for sure I would have a nightmare about ghosts since we watched The Orphanage last night or about vampires, since I'm reading Tanith Lee's Blood Opera trilogy about the Scarabae.! I dream about...

...freakin' zombies.


Oh, well. More fodder for future stories, I suppose.

The first of the edits are coming in already on As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive. I'm excited. The first editor to finish reading loved the novel and she felt it didn't suffer from a sophomore slump. That was a massive relief. I want to keep the story taunt, exciting, but emotional.

Anyway, I'm gonna go lay on the sofa now and stare at the TV. I think I may watch the Resident Evil movies. I'm in a cheesy, goofy kind of mood.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Is it Cuz I Say F*ck A Lot?

blog readability test



Well, dang. I feel a little gutted by this. It was drilled into my head a hundred times over in Journalism that I had to aim for a 6th grade reading level in my writing or else. I guess I overshot it.

Just kidding.

I know I write this blog like I talk. Kinda on the goofy end of things and sometimes in the crazy, chaotic RhiaSpeak that confuses the masses. At least I don't write my novels in the same way. In my novels, I have coherent sentences.

This blog is all about rambling, venting, and gushing. It's the way I gain focus when there is none to be got (damn, that sounds Texan) and I need to gain clarity through writing. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't.

I have had a lot on my mind of late. Most of it related to writing, of course. I'm sure I will be pouring out more rambling posts over the next few weeks.

Yer warned.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Ideas Are Ping-Ponging in My Head!! UGH!!! And A Few Writing Tips

I do not suffer from a lack of story ideas.

In one regard, this is very, very good. But in another, it is enough to make me utterly nuts.

Like most writers, I have a day job and that means I don't have the luxury of an entire day spent at the computer typing away on my latest inspiration. Instead, I come home, decompress from the long day, fix dinner, do some chores, maybe watch a show online (I just finished all three seasons of Arrested Development on and try to fit at least two hours of writing in to the end of the day.

And, of course, I try not to ignore my husband (too much) or my pets.

It's rough to have all these ideas being born and feeling like I can't pay attention to them quite yet. I hate putting off writing something just because I got x y and z to take care of. Blah.

It's been especially chaotic in my head. I blame this on the zombie world receding as I put a little distance between me and the trilogy for a little bit. I need a breather from all my freaking zombie nightmares. Ugh! I actually dreamed about a ghost last night and I was pretty happy about that. Killing zombies all night in my sleep can be taxing after awhile.

Not to say that Katie and Jenni aren't far from my dreams or thoughts. I don't have enough distance yet to be totally zombie free. But I need to be this month. I need to decompress and embrace something new for a bit. Trust me, I got a lotta love for de zombies, but right now...

So what is bouncing around in my head at the speed of light? Well, a vampire short story, a dark fantasy, two vampire novels, and a really horrific apocalyptic novel that I am almost afraid to write. That one is going to spawn terrible nightmares.

I've decided to concentrate on the vampire short story and write down notes on everything else. I'll probably plunge into the vampire novel in January.

I won't have a respite from the zombies too long though. The edits are starting to come in and I think I'll put them off just another week. I want to write something fresh and new right now (i.e. the vampire short story) and get some distance from the As The World Dies movie in my head.

I would like to share how I will be getting my ping-ponging story ideas down so I can look at them later. Lynn Viehl has an awesome blog called Paperback Writer. She has created a really awesome tool for getting your ideas in line for a new story. She has The Novel Notebook posted at Scribd here.

I have had many people ask me how I write and I have to admit that it wasn't until the last two years that I figured out how to get my thoughts down in a coherent way. The Novel Notebook definitely helps get ideas down that I can't get to quite yet. But when I do write, I transfer that information into yWriter. yWriter is the BEST writing program in the world. It's amazing and I love it. But its not an editing program. There is no spellcheck or grammar check. It's all about getting your idea down in a cohesive and coherent manner. Once the story is written, you can then export it as an .rtf and edit it in Word or OpenOffice. Write first, edit later.

Anyway, I better get back to making dinner, then I need to get back into my writing groove.

P.S. Please spread the word about Pretty When She Dies to any vampire lovers you know out there! Thanks!

Pretty When She Dies Is Now Available on!!!

The book has now gone live on! You can now take advantage of Amazon's special deals and grab a copy of the book with your other orders.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Writer's Angst!

I have a new thing to dread since I became an Independent Author.

The first of the month.


In one fell swoop, my sales counters reset to zero. I hate that.

Last month, on, I sold 144 books. I liked looking at that number. I also liked looking at how many Kindle books I had sold and my sales from the only brick-and-mortar store carrying my novel. I have to be honest. I felt a great sense of accomplishment-or appreciation-or something along those lines. People actually bought my book!

Then this morning. Everything. Reset. To. ZERO!


Oh, well. A new month. New sales. And, hopefully, new fans.

November was a good month in many ways. I was able to go to my first convention to support my novel. Pretty When She Dies was officially released. I finished the rewrite of As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive. I got a lot of really nice emails from ya'll (don't I sound Texan) letting me know how much you enjoyed the first book of the As The World Dies Trilogy. And to top it off, I got some really good advice fellow writers and publishers that I really appreciated.

Actually, I'm glad I wrote that all down. I was feeling like I was spinning my wheels the last two months, but now I see I've accomplished a bit more than I thought.

So...what comes next?

I think I'm going to finish up a short story that has been lingering on my hard drive for years without a proper ending. I'm going to dive into my Gothic Horror vampire novel and weed through it. I'm going to finish up my zombie story about Lenore and Ken.

And next year, I will write a brand new novel then launch into the rewrite of the final book of the As The World Dies Trilogy. It should be out in the summer.

So much to do! EEK!

Anyway, thank you again for all your support of my writing endeavors and all your kind comments.