Friday, May 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sir Christopher Lee!!

Today is the 89th birthday of Sir Christopher Lee. Though a lot of younger people now know him for his role as Saruman in the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I am fond of him for his portrayal of Count Dracula in the old Hammer films.

I will admit that when I was much younger I liked Bela Lugosi's version of Dracula a lot more than Christopher Lee's. I blame this on the fact that the first version of Dracula I ever saw was Christopher Lee in Count Dracula (1970). He so terrified me that I refused for years to watch another film with him as Dracula. It wasn't until my twenties that I came to appreciate Christopher Lee in the iconic role.

Eventually it was Christopher Lee's portrayal that had the biggest influence on my own version of Count Vlad Dracula in THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. One of the things that irked me about Lee's Dracula when I was younger was that he never kissed the girls. He would always turn their heads and bite them. When I grew older, I came to understand the dangerous sexual power of the vampire. The women desired his love only to be killed.

Christopher Lee's appearance also had a huge impact on my version of Count Dracula. It is uncanny how much he resembles the real Vlad Tepes. It was his appearance as Vlad Tepes in the documentry In Search of Dracula that gave me a clearer vision of what my own Count Dracula would look like.

Christopher Lee has had quite an amazing career. His voice is low, powerful and a little frightening and he has done a lot of voice work over the years . He has appeared in low budget horror films and epic blockbusters. He is famous for his role as Dracula and his interest in the occult has been life long. Though he played a character charged with sexual charisma and the seducer of many young, nubile women, Christopher has been married to his wife since 1961. He was also knighted and is officially Sir Christopher Lee.

I won't lie. Though my heart is broken that I will never meet Bela Lugosi, I hold onto a shred of hope that I may one day manage to make it to a convention where Christopher Lee is attending. Despite the role of Dracula being played by other actors since Lee's reign, he is still the pop culture representation of this epic figure.

Happy Birthday, Christopher Lee!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Ten Things About The Tale of the Vampire Bride

Recently, my gothic vampire novel, THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, has been doing quite well in the Kindle format and gaining quite a devoted following. I noticed a lot of people have been coming to this blog to find out about the sequel, THE VENGEANCE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. Be rest assured that I am working on the sequel and it is coming along quite well. I am currently writing chapter 22 and about 82, 000 words into the novel. I believe I am about 3/4 of the way to the end of the book, so there is a chunk of story left to write.

This post is all about the first book, so if you have yet to read THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, you may want to stop reading now and come back after you've read the novel. For the rest of the fans, I put together some information about the book I thought you might enjoy.

1. THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE is not a paranormal romance. It was written as a gothic horror piece. That it consistently hovers in the top 100 Kindle books under Romance>Vampires leaves me a bit speechless.
Example of tonight's ranking:#64 in Books > Romance > Vampires
I'm not sure how the book got tagged this way, but I certainly didn't do it. I wouldn't even know how to write a romance novel. I do know that the definition of a romance novel is that the story is primarily centered on the romance between the hero and the heroine and the plot is secondary. Lady Glynis' story is one about independence and the fight to attain freedom. It has elements of romance in it, but it is secondary to her battle against Dracula to be free.

I strongly suspect that the novel's labeling has caused some confusion among readers and for that I am sorry. It makes me feel bad when someone picks up the book expecting a paranormal romance novel and ends up with a gory, bloody, horrific tale of vampires.

One more thing, the title TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, basically translates into "The story of a woman Dracula makes into a vampire." I have watched a ton of old vampire flicks and I liked how the women that were made into vampires were always called "the Brides of Dracula." It felt rather scandalous that he had so many women at his beck and call. I did not anticpate that this would be mistranslated into the literal idea of a bride (as in a woman getting married). My big oops!

This kind of Bride.

2. The story was conceived out of a very vivid dream I had after reading Bram Stoker's DRACULA. In fact, the first chapter of the novel is my dream in its entirety. I woke up just as the carriage arrived at the castle and Dracula made his appearance. I was so excited and intrigued by the dream, I immediately started writing the story.

3. Originally, the book was written in third person. I had never written in first person before and it was not a comfortable fit. I wrote about three chapters in first person and was so uncomfortable with the intimacy of the voice of the lead character, Glynis, I rewrote it in third person. I wrote nearly the whole book in third person before my vampire muse shut up leaving me high and dry. I had no idea how the book was supposed to end and I was stuck. I put aside the novel for nearly eight years before rewriting it in first person. It was only then that I found out how the story ended.

4. I did not want to write about Dracula and attempted to make Glynis' creator be another vampire. This effort failed miserably. I realized that a lot of the power of the story was because she was the Bride of Dracula and eventually, Countess Dracula. I finally gave in and heavily researched Dracula. I reread Stoker's DRACULA and several books on the real Vlad Tepes. I watched every Dracula movie I could get my hands on and several non-fiction books that discussed the fictional character and his longevity in fiction. Yet, I struggled to find my own version of Dracula. It wasn't until I read the story of Vlad Tepes killing a woman for not mending her husband's shirt that I had my "a-ha!" moment. I finally understood the nature of Glynis' vampire master. He is a man who has very distinct opinions on what is proper and right and if someone violates his stringent rules, he has no issue killing them. Coupled with the elegance of Bela Lugosi's Dracula, the charisma and brutality of Christopher Lee's Dracula, and the classic manipulative personality of a sociopath, I had my Dracula.

The three Brides of Dracula are never named in Stoker's novel. Therefore, I named them, not once, but three times. I kept changing their names until I found ones that "fit." I also adhered to Stoker's description of the three women: one blond, two brunette. I reread the scene with the three women several times, always feeling there was a rich history behind their words. Their taunting, mocking laughter against Vlad became an important part of my story. They sounded like bitter, scorned women. Also, it was clear that the blond Bride was the leader of the three. Therefore, Cneajna became the Hungarian aristocrat while the brunettes were poor country women Vlad had made into vampires.

6. Erzsebt, the fourth Bride of Dracula and the mysterious Countess Dolingen of Gratz, is based on a character in Stoker's short story Dracula's Guest. The short story was the original first chapter of DRACULA, but was left out of the published novel. I was intrigued by the strange woman in the mausoleum and the iron stake driven through the top of it. In my story, the iron stake keeps Erzsebet in eternal punishment for attempting to leave Vlad Dracula. It is obvious that they had a grand love affair that went terribly wrong. Erzsebet becomes a symbol to Lady Glynis of what happens to the women that defy Vlad. I still have big plans for her, though she does die in Stoker's short story.

7. Though some readers have complained about the brutality of the novel, this was done on purpose. I agonized over each scene that showed the horror of Dracula. The brutality of Dracula was an important part of the story and the Brides' reaction to it was as well. In one (very hard to write) scene, Glynis is raped before the sisters. They ignore her and chide her later for not giving in to their "husband." Glynis firmly believes in her right as a human being to choose her own way in life. That she is regarded by Vlad as his property angers her. That her vampire sisters do not share her beliefs wounds her deeply. Another rape scene was about the act being about Vlad's power over her and how her body is regarded as a vessel for his pleasure. Later in the book, where Glynis finally chooses to enjoy her sexuality and makes love to Ignatius, the scene is the complete opposite of the prior rape scene. This was done on purpose. So...though some of the scenes were hard to write, they were all part of the much bigger picture.

8. Though people keep saying the novel is a Victorian story, it actually is not. It takes place in 1819 at the tail end of the Regency era. Jane Austen is Lady Glynis' contemporary. This is a prequel to Stoker's DRACULA and takes place probably around 60 years before Van Helsing kills Dracula (or does he?).

9. There is no love triangle in THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE. Shocking to some readers, yet true. I never had any intention of there being Team Dracula or Team Ignatius. To me, it was plainly obvious that Glynis fell madly in love with Ignatius. It was also clear to me that she is tangled up in the dark power of Dracula and wants to be free of him. Dracula is a cruel, but very clever sociopath and becomes quite adept toward the end of the book at manipulating Glynis. I found it quite frightening how he began to reshape himself into a new persona to trap her strong will in his power. I studied Stockholm Syndrome at length to create the vampire master/fledgling bond and this quote from wikipedia really sums it up nicely.

In psychology, Stockholm syndrome is a term used to describe a paradoxical psychological phenomenon wherein hostages express empathy and have positive feelings towards their captors. These feelings are generally considered irrational in light of the danger or risk endured by the victims, who essentially mistake a lack of abuse from their captors as an act of kindness.

As emails hit my inbox expressing hope that Vlad rises from his grave and recaptures Glynis, I have come to the conclusion that I have inadvertently given us all Stockholm Syndrome! I have to say I underestimated the power of Count Vlad Dracula! But...there is no love triangle.

10. I suspect there are around 4 or 5 novels in the Vampire Bride series. I'm not really sure. I do feel the first two books are really solid in their story and I probably won't be in a rush to jump to the third book. I want to make sure I have a really good story before I plunge onward in the series. I have tentative ideas for each book, but they will need to be fleshed out.

And a freebie...

Glynis' story has been optioned for a possible TV show. The producer and I plan to work on the script and hope to sell it as a limited TV series based on the first two books. I will keep you informed of any progress, but we probably won't be moving forward in the near future.

In closing, I hope to have the second book out before the end of the summer and I do plan to self -publish it at this time. My husband and I have also decided to change the cover of the first book due to the confusion it has caused some readers. We have been told it appears to be a young adult book on multiple occasions. We plan to commission new artwork for the first book and the second book in the near future.

As always, I am always open to the readers thoughts and I would love to hear them. Please feel free to email me or leave a comment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I finished reading through the "first pass" of FIGHTING TO SURVIVE last night.

I am always excited to see what the formatted pages of the book look like when I receive the first pass. It gives me a pretty good idea of what the book will look like in print. I had already received the cover for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE a few months ago, so I have a complete vision of my head of the second book in the AS THE WORLD DIES series.

It's so exciting. November 8th can't get here fast enough!

Like most writers, I tend to fall in and out of love with my books. When I first write a novel, I am totally in love with the world and the characters. During the revision, I usually come to loathe my writing and I really work hard to elevate the writing to something I see as decent. Usually by the end of this process, I love it again. Then it cycles all over again.

I have to say reading through FIGHTING TO SURVIVE's first pass pages was a little intimidating. I had already revised it, worked on the copy edits, and going through the book again was not something I was looking forward to.

What if I hated it again?

I am happy to say I didn't. I loved it more than I ever have. It felt so solid, so perfect, so wonderful. This is the story I wanted to tell, fully fleshed out, fully realized. No version of the second book in the series has matched the Tor version. I am so grateful to my editor, Melissa Singer, for helping me untangle the plot threads and push me to go deeper in the characterization. I am so damn happy with this version of FIGHTING TO SURVIVE.

I absolutely love it! I hope you will, too!

Make sure to pre-order your copy!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Ladies, would you just do the laundry and the cooking if the zombocalypse happened?

This was posted by Brian Wamsley on his facebook page. I thought I would share it with all you strong women out there!

Hey everyone! I know I have some STRONG women as my friends and family. Really strong women. Can you do me a favor? There is this podcast that I listen to about Zombies, and they are having a discussion about if the zombie apocalypse or just an apocalypse were to happen, what would YOU do to someone that was trying to put you into the role of GOOD HOUSE WIFE?! Or would you just be content to do the laundry while the Men Folk went out and hunted for dinner and such?! Give their voice mail a call and tell them "MeadMan Brian" told you to call and give your opinion on this matter. Their number is: 206-202-2505....

And if you want to listen to the podcast, you can find it on ITunes under Mail Order Zombie. Great show with news and such about Zombie movies, books and etc.

Love you all!

Seriously, would you rather be doing this

or this:

Ladies, give these peeps a call!


Follow Up Post to the Panel At BookPeople-Important Links and Info

Last night I had the pleasure to sit on a panel at BookPeople and talk about self publishing. The event was hosted by the Writers' League of Texas and was titled "The Big Windup: Prepping Your Pitch, Proposal, and Synopsis and How to Decide Between Traditional & Non-traditional Publishing." It was hosted by Sara Kocek from the Writers' League and my fellow panelist was Lari Bishop of the Greenleaf Book Group.

The event was standing room only and quite a few attendees had to sit on the floor. I was impressed by the turn out, but I think it's further evidence how desperate writers are to find their way into the publishing world. I know how it feels to dream about seeing your book in print. I also know how it can feel to find a slew of confusing information out there about how to achieve your dream. It can be heartbreaking and soul crushing to do everything "right" and only face rejection.

So, inspired by last night's panel, here is my own guide to publishing.

I am going to try to break this down into simple bites and hopefully this will help anyone hoping to self publish (or go the traditional route) to find the resources to succeed.

First Stage

1. Write your book!
This will be hard to do, but write the darn thing. You may have to disconnect from your life for a few months, but warn everyone that you will be very selective about your social activities because you will be writing. When you are done with your manuscript it should be around 70,000 words when you're done (give or take). Most publishers do not want to see books that are over 100,000 words, but if you are already set on self-publishing you can push this number. Just remember: the bigger the book, the more expensive it will be.

2. Take a break!
Set your book aside and do not look at it for around two weeks. Go and reconnect with your neglected life. Have fun. Relax. And make sure to celebrate your huge accomplishment of finishing your book. Most people will never do what you just did. Be happy! Once your are done with your writing vacation, grab a red pen and get ready. This is the hard part.

3. Revise your book!
Print out your book and get ready with your red pen. Read your book and be prepared. You will both love and hate what you wrote. At some points you may pat yourself on the back because you did such a great job and at other points you may flinch with embarrassment.

What you are looking for as you do your read through:
1. Punctuation and grammar errors. (below are helpful websites)

2. Continuity errors
  • Example: You have someone pick up an object, but later the object vanishes from the scene.
  • Example: Someone's clothing keeps changing in the same scene.
  • Example: You establish a "fact" in your book then disregard it entirely later on.
3. Often repeated words or phrases.

I am so guilty of this at times. It sucks. But use a thesaurus if you're not sure how to ditch your favorite word.

4. Plot cohesion. Does your plot make sense? Does it have huge plot holes?

Once you're done marking up your manuscript, go back into your original document and make all the new changes. Then walk away from it for two weeks again. Repeat. If the manuscript feels solid, it is time to find a test group to read it. If it doesn't, revise again.

4. Build your author platform.
Create an online presence for yourself by establishing a blog using or Create a facebook account just for your book. Blog about your dream of becoming a writer and your progress or about any other subject that connects to your fledgling writing career or your writing. Connect with other writers in your genre. Remember to be positive and attempt to keep a regular schedule (if possible) with your posts.

5. Get some Test Readers
At this point in the process, you will need a group of test readers. You can pick friends, but they should be friends that are willing to kick in your teeth if the book isn't up to par. They should be able to give you constructive criticism. You can also connect with a local writing group or find one online.

The website Absolute Write has a very valuable forum for all writers that you should check out. You can find a lot of support there and important information. I strongly advise all writers to join if you are just starting out.

After you receive all the feedback from your test readers and address any issues they pointed out, read through your darling one more time. If it feels solid, it is time to move on. If it doesn't, revise again.

Second Stage
(If you are going the traditional route)

1. Make sure your book is in manuscript form.
2. Write a cover letter.
3. Create a synopsis.
4. Subscribe to Writer's Market so you will be able to find an agent or publisher
5. Compile a list of agents (or publishers) that represent your kind of book. Follow the guidelines to the T. Do not send your full manuscript if it is NOT requested. I cannot stress this enough. Follow the guidelines exactly.

6. As each rejection notice comes in (and you will get some), cross that agent off your list. Keep on going until your either find an agent or run out of your list.

7. Make sure the agent you sign with understands your novel and is someone you can get a long with.

8. Understand that having an agent does not mean your manuscript will sell, but your chances just got a lot better.

Good Luck!

Second Stage (If you are self-publishing)

1. Be realistic with your expectations.
Sit down and write out your goals and aspirations. Determine how much time and effort you are willing to exert in making your dream come true. Be realistic.

2. Establish your budget.
Self-publishing will cost you money. If you have enough money to go to a turn-key company that will do everything for you (editing, cover, formatting, etc), and you don't want to deal with doing anything yourself, make sure you do plenty of research to find the right company for you. If you only have limited funds, you will need to work out your budget carefully. Editing will cost you the most money and is worth the investment.

NOTE: If you self-publish, it will not matter how well your book is edited, you will still get criticized for the editing. I know people who spent a lot of money on a professional editor and readers still attacked the editing. It is an almost automatic response by readers when they see a book is self-published.

Resources For Editing
I used createspace for my books and they now offer editing.

At the Absolute Write forums, editors also advertise their rates.

Resources for Cover Art
A lot of small publishers go to
If you find a piece of artwork you like, contact the artist to see if they would be willing to sell their artwork for your cover.

Also, createspace now offers cover art services.

You can also create your own cover using stock photos, your own artwork, a friend's artwork, etc.

Createspace has a cover creator now on their website.

Createspace also has a template creator you can use. Just plug in your book size and how many pages it will have.
You will need to have Photoshop or Gimp to use it. Gimp is open source and is free here.

Interior Design

My friend (and fellow author) Kody Boye does a lot of interior formatting for small presses and independent publishers. He is incredibly affordable. You can reach him at kodyboye @ You can also find resources for interior design at and

You can also do it yourself using the templates at

3, Publish Your Book!!
Once your book is in perfect order (cover, editing, interior), you can use Createspace to publish to all the amazon online stores. Createspace provides publish on demand publishing. In other words, someone orders your book and it is made just for them. Createspace also publishes Kindle. If you want to publish your book to all ebook formats, go to

I highly recommend Createspace because they are affordable and you get more bang for your buck. But it will be up to you in the end.

Remember, bookstores rarely sell self-published or small press books. If you really want to see your book in a bookstore, you may need to work a consignment deal out with them.

4. Market!
Be creative and go for it. If you wrote a non-fiction book about a particular subject, attend shows or events that fit into that subject. Rent a booth and promote yourself. You may not make your money back, but people will begin to remember your name and may buy later. Pass out flyers, excerpts from your books, and be friendly and nice to everyone. Contact blogs or online blogtalkradio shows that talk about your subject. Offer to be a guest blogger or a guest on their show. Keep your blog updated. Post on your twitter and facebook. Connect with online groups that enjoy your book's subject matter.

Good luck!

Important Resources
The Indie Author's Guide
Absolute Write
Writer's Digest

Free Software To Use (Make sure you do the tutorials)
yWriter (the best writing program I have ever used)
Open Office (it's like Microsoft Word, but free!)
GIMP (it's like Photoshop, but free)

Monday, May 16, 2011

THE FIRST DAYS Gets a Starred Review from Publishers Weekly

I can barely type or see the screen right now.

I just received word that Publishers Weekly gave THE FIRST DAYS a starred review!!! This is a huge honor and just has me dizzy with delight. I just can't believe it.

Excuse me while I go hyperventilate.

The First Days
Rhiannon Frater. Tor, $14.99 trade paper (336p) ISBN 978-0-7653-3126-7
"This world is fragile." This truth lies at the core of Frater's intensely compelling first novel. When Jenni wakes up one morning and discovers her husband devouring their baby, she flees into a world suddenly populated by zombies. She is rescued by Katie, a lawyer haunted by her abandonment of her now-undead wife. The two traumatized women escape the city and discover unsuspected reserves of strength as they meet other survivors, some waiting for the government to save them and others trying to support one another through the chaos. Katie and Jenni join a group in a fortified site and are faced with the enormous task of rebuilding the world. This outstanding first effort, the first book in a trilogy, will appeal greatly to zombie fans, but the undead are merely the catalyst for a far more disquieting tale of societal collapse. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/16/2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Another Weird Moment In The Life Of This Writer

Frankly, I am happier now than I have been in my entire life. I'm happily married, I have a pretty neat home, I have good friends, I have a supportive family, my first book from Tor is coming out July 5, 2011, and I'm FINALLY a full-time writer (and working hard to make it stick). I truly love my life right now and I feel I am finally where I have always wanted to be.

Of course, there are some scary spots to flying without a net as a full-time writer. No more regular paychecks is the big one. I'm learning to budget like never before and track all my expenses. Yet, I have never been in this position in my life before. I don't have a "day job," but there is money in the bank and more on its way. It's such a weird, but good feeling.

In the last few weeks I have felt this new reality really sinking in. At Texas Frightmare I ran into multiple fans that instantly recognized me and asked me about my books. I didn't have a booth this year (I was distributing promotional materials and friend's tables and networking)and they were disappointed they couldn't buy some of my newer work, but it was an amazing feeling to actually have readers who like me enough to look for me. Seriously, how awesome is that?

Plus, the Writers' League of Texas has invited me to be a panelist at their monthly workshop at BookPeople on May 19th and also asked me to be a panelist at their big conference in June. Frankly, I was floored to be approached out of the blue. It was even more Twilight Zonish when they said they have known about me for some time. I read the email over twice because it just wasn't registering in my mind that they wanted me to be on a panel. ME! I'm still in shock.

Then to add to the weirdness, I stumbled across two different online conversations where readers were discussing my books (and me). I was just astounded. It felt so odd to have complete strangers discussing my zombie novels and my book deal with Tor.

Yet, it was a reminder that I am on the launch pad for the next big leap forward in my life.

For so long I have fantasized about being published by Tor, having fans, speaking on panels and being a real honest to goodness author. Frankly, when I was just doing the self publishing bit, that felt really good, but this feels a bit more epic.

Somehow, weirdly, strangely, this feels more REAL.

Back when I originally self published, I was very happy with what I was doing and how things were progressing. Maybe a piece of me was even relieved that I was a small fish in a small pond that was doing a-ok for herself and not dealing with the big scariness of the NYC publishing world. I still remember the stark terror I experienced when Joe Mckinney (of Dead City fame) told me it was time for me to get an agent and get ready for the big time.

"I can't do that," I thought.

Yet, here I am. My book and my author page are now part of the Tor website. My books are listed in their Spring and Fall catalogs. I have already participated in the Tor chat on Twitter and the publicist at Tor has started booking interviews for me.

I'm in the big leagues now, babyeee....

Yet, that truth is still dawning on me every day.

About two days ago I was doing the laundry when it hit me like a two-ton truck.

My life long dream has come true.

It's real.

It is here and now.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Loathesome Love Triangle

I may be crushing the hopes of a few readers right now, and for that I am sorry, but I don't like love triangles. In fact, I try to avoid them at all cost.

Of course, love triangles are in every form of entertainment that is out there. They have been a staple of romance novels and soap operas forever.

The website, TV Tropes, defines a love triangle this way:

A is in love with B, but B is in love with C, resulting in wacky hijinks's. Alternatively, A and B are both in love with C, who is torn between the two and must make a choice. In the latter case, A and B tend to be Betty and Veronica; in the former, A will usually be a Romantic False Lead or Hopeless Suitor.
I am very familiar with this soap opera trope. I was a huge fan of Days of Our Lives a very long time ago. Anyone who even knows a little about the show knows about Bo & Hope, the ultimate soap opera couple. Their love is supposed to be so legendary (in the show) that they have probably over twenty years of flashbacks to use in montages. Yet, this couple is never allowed happiness. Amazingly, they constantly fall victim to the love triangle trope. When I watched the show, I got so sick of them being broken up by past loves (that were usually presumed dead and mysteriously were alive again) I stopped watching the show.

Basically, you can blame Bo & Hope for my great loathing of love triangles.

Of course, this means I am squarely outside the norm right now. Love triangles are huge business in movies, books, and TV shows.

For example, the TV show THE VAMPIRE DIARIES loves to tantalize its viewers with images placing the three main leads in love triangle poses.

Even during the first season when the heroine, Elena, made it clear her love was for Stefan, his bad boy older brother, Damon, was constantly in all the promo shots hinting at a future love triangle.

It's not hard to find Team Stefan and Team Damon discussions online. Damon does seem to get more love, but he is the bad boy and played to great effect by the very handsome Ian Somerhalder.

It is obvious from the marketing of the show that the network believes the love triangle is the best asset to the show, despite its excellent storytelling and solid acting.

Of course the ultimate love triangle in recent literary and movie making history is the nefarious TWILIGHT love triangle of Bella, Jacob and Edward. The books (and now the movies) have been such an enormous success that nearly every Young Adult book now has a love triangle as an integral part of its plot. What always stood out to me about this plot in the books and in the movies is that it is always quite clear that Bella and Edward will be together in the end. My personal opinion was that she should have picked Jacob, but I knew it would never happen. The bad boy does usually win these triangles because somehow the heroine's love changes him (another trope I really hate).

The dark and gritty THE HUNGER GAMES even had to have a love triangle.

When the actors for the roles of Peeta and Gale were finally filled, The Los Angles Times had the headline:
The Hunger Games': Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth complete the love triangle"

The series is a triumph with deep characterization, violence, gore, political intrigue, and terrifying scenes of psychological terror. The story is about children killing children! Yet the one aspect of this great series that gets the most attention is a love triangle that I never really felt invested in to begin with. I was more interested in how Katniss was just going to survive!

I am not always opposed to a love triangle if it is done well.

MATCHED by Ally Condie used the love triangle to great effect in that story. It is the love triangle that spurs the young heroine of the tale to slowly begin to doubt the world that has been so carefully constructed around her by the Society. When she falls in love with someone other than the person she has been "matched" with, she begins to see that the Society does not always know what is right for the citizens. MATCHED is a wonderfully subtle and nuance book that had me turning pages as fast as I could.

I suppose my true distaste for the love triangle also reflects the truth that in real life it rarely occurs as it is depicted in books and movies. Two men are not going to patiently wait around for a woman to decide who she loves more. Someone is going to throw down an ultimatum and move on. Or maybe both will. I have seen that more than once. A friend likes two guys, won't decide, and the two men in question go off and find someone who will love them exclusively.

Yet, love triangles are a powerful force in the literary world and are expected if you're writing a supernatural tale. And since it is expected, it is sometimes seen where it does not exist.

Beware of Spoilers! You may want to skip ahead if you have not read my two vampire novels!

In my own vampire novels, people fully anticipate the love triangle trope. In Pretty When She Dies Cian is involved with Samantha, a mortal, when Amaliya (the newly created vampire) lands squarely in their lives. A reader sent me an email informing me that she hated Samantha immediately because she assumed there was going to be a love triangle, and therefore, Samantha had to be the bad guy. She was shocked to realize Samantha was not. The two vampires and the mortal in the "triangle" are all swept away by events outside of their control and all three try very hard to do their best to save each other. Samantha is deeply hurt when she realizes Cian is not the noble vampire she thought he was, but she is also still his friend at the end of the book. The character didn't catch a break with some of the readers because they were already applying the love triangle trope.

In THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, Count Vlad Dracula creates our vampire heroine, Lady Glynis Wright. He rapes and murders her before she is reborn a vampire. He also slaughters her family in the most terrible ways possible. Attempting to break her and make her into his willing Bride, he is physically and emotionally abusive. Later, he comes to appreciate her stubbornness and begins to hone her into not a subservient wife, but a capable ally. Glynis meanwhile, falls madly in love with another vampire and begins a secret affair with him. Ignatius, her lover, is everything that the cruel, sadistic, sociopath Vlad is not and Glynis loves him with all her heart. The entire premise of the story is Glynis fighting to gain her freedom from Vlad Dracula so she may live her own life as she chooses.

So, consider me thunder stuck when I received quite a few emails from readers telling me they hoped that Vlad Dracula would reclaim Glynis as his own in the second book.

I was rather speechless actually.

A fan (and friend) told me that she expected a love triangle, so she just automatically assumed Vlad was somehow in the running for our heroine's heart.

"But he killed her family," I said.

"Well, he did seem to love her," was the answer.

"But he's a sociopath and he only loves her in a sick deranged way," I protested.

"But he's kinda hot and powerful and evil! He's the ultimate bad boy!"

Once again the love triangle trope had been superimposed on a novel where there was no intention of a love triangle. I realized it was expected, therefore, certain aspects of the story appeared to support the trope in the eyes of a lot of readers. The terrible binding power of a master over his fledgling had translated into a "love" connection.

My very wise husband told me, "You can't fight it if they see it there, even if you didn't write it into the story."

Skip to here to avoid spoilers!!!

Reading over countless blogs, comments from writers and readers, and industry articles, I realize how powerful the love triangle trope has become in fiction. Its power is undeniable. So what do I do about it when it comes to my own writing?

I'm going to do as I always do. Write the story that unfurls in my mind and stay true to it. Perhaps a few readers will be disappointed when they realize there isn't a Team Amaliya or Team Samantha, or a Team Ignatius or Team Vlad.

Should a loathsome love triangle appear in my mind as an integral part of a story, I will write it, but as realistically as I can.

Friday, May 6, 2011


I'm nineteen chapters into the sequel to THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and I am pleased with the story thus far. I just sent off the chapters to my test readers and hope for their feedback soon. I will, of course, keep plugging away at the story, but I really need to have an outside perspective at this point. The plot is a bit more complex than the one in the first novel and Glynis is definitely evolving as a person and vampire. There are a slew of new characters that have entered the story and I'm anxious to see how they are received by the readership.

I am feeling a lot more confident about the book at this point, but I admit I'll be biting my nails until I heard back from the test readers. I promise not to harass them too much.

*fingers crossed*

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Come See Me in Austin, Texas!!!

The Writers' League of Texas has invited me to be on a panel, The Big Windup: Prepping Your Pitch, Proposal, and Synopsis and How to Decide Between Traditional& Non-traditional Publishing, at their next event at BookPeople in Austin, TX on May 19, 2011 @ 7PM.

I will also be signing copies of THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE and PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES.

If you are in the area, I would love to see you there!

For more information, please visit the Writers' League of Texas website.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Tale of Three Covers-The Covers for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE

After I initially self-published THE FIRST DAYS, the first book in the AS THE WORLD DIES TRILOGY, the excitement wore off and I realized it was time to do all the hard work again on the second book in the series.

FIGHTING TO SURVIVE was the slimmest tome of the three (at that time) and was the most disjointed in its original online form. It would take months to flesh out the plot to make it a more dynamic book (little did I know the Tor version would end up with even more material!). In the meantime, Detra sent me a painting of a broken down car on a lonely country road with dawn breaking over the trees and wondered if it would work as a cover.

I stared at the amazingly beautiful painting and told him that it would not. The first cover in the series had been very successful because the fans liked seeing Katie and Jenni. I asked that both of the women be armed with weapons. So, he added Jenni and Katie to the second cover and threw two menacing zombies on the back. I loved it!

So this was the first cover for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE.

Flash forward to 2011-I had just finished the massive revision on FIGHTING TO SURVIVE when my email dinged. It was the cover art for the new book. I was pleased with the cover for many reasons. I loved that the two women were on the cover again, I loved the menacing zombies, and I loved that the artist used the ballroom of one of the derelict luxury hotels in the Texas Hill Country. The colors really popped for me and I loved the fragility of Jenni's crossed arms.

Then it hit me. The two women were unarmed and merely gazing at the zombies.

Wait a sec!

I sat back in my chair, staring as I came to the realization that Jenni wouldn't be fragile in that moment and Katie wouldn't be standing with her hands on her hips.

Wasn't the strength of the women the one thing fans loved? The fact they didn't wait around to be rescued, but fought to survive?

Nervously, I emailed the editor with my impression. She thought it was a valid point, though she loved the first cover. A few days later a second cover pinged into my email.

I opened it up and was immediately conflicted.

I loved that Katie and Jenni now had weapons to defend themselves. I loved that we could see Jenni in "loca zombie killer mode." Yet, somehow, the Katie in the first cover felt more like the character. I stared at the covers side by side. I called my husband over to look at them. I emailed the covers to friends for their opinion.

At last, I went on the AS THE WORLD DIES and my personal facebook pages and asked:

I have a question for y'all. Do you like seeing Jenni & Katie holding guns on the cover or with empty hands?

The responses were pretty unanimous.
I'm all for seeing our bad a$$ chicks with guns. :)

Definitely guns!
I even received a few emails voting for the weapons. I forwarded the information to Tor, but knew that in the end it would probably be marketing that made the choice on the cover. I still really like both covers, but I do believe the second one really captures the mood of the entire book. I think it's Jenni's face that really sells it.

Though I have heard horror stories about authors hating their covers, I have to say so far I really love the Tor covers. They are truly beautiful and are good solid representations of the stories inside the cover. I have also been flattered that Tor has listened to my opinion on the covers.

I was hoping to share both covers with you, but wasn't sure if I should or not. Now that the Tor Fall catalog is online and features the first cover, I wanted to share with you the stories behind the three covers for FIGHTING TO SURVIVE.

Remember to pre-order THE FIRST DAYS today!