Thursday, January 26, 2012

Progress Report

Last week I had a massive migraine that lingered for days.  It pretty much reduced me into a zombie.  I mostly staggered around the house moaning about my head.  I managed to get a few things done, but my work on THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING came to a complete halt.  Every time I tried to focus on the story I felt like hordes of zombies were ripping into my brain.  I managed to do other work-related things, but actual creative writing eluded me.  Maybe the freakin' migraine storm was in the creative part of my brain.

Finally, I'm back on track, writing my little hands off.  The brain is functioning again and the words are flowing.  I'm even writing so much my carpal tunnel syndrome is acting up and letting me know just how badly I had abused my hands back in the old days of handwriting my stories or typing away on the old electric typewriter.

I hate it when physical ailments slow my progress.  It makes me so cranky.  Writing makes me very happy.  When I'm working on a novel and its flowing, I'm pretty euphoric.  I feel like dancing the rest of the day.  If I go too long without writing, I find its much easier for me to get depressed or moody.  Writing is such an intricate part of my being that to go for any long length of time without doing it makes me unhappy.

So I'm finally back on track and hoping to put the rough draft of THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING to sleep by the end of the month.

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Movie Screen In My Head

One of the most commonly asked questions I am asked during interviews or from fans in emails is how do I write my novels. Do I plot it all out?  Do I just wing it?  How do I create my characters?  Are they based on me?  Other people?  How does it all happen?

Honestly, I always feel like the stories I write just emerge from the ether.  They just appear in my mind, either while I'm sleeping, or listening to music, or just randomly as I'm going about my daily business.  It's literally like a movie screen pops up in my head and starts showing a new feature I have never seen before.  My stories just appear.

I have read where other authors sit down and think of themes and scenarios that intrigue them, or decide they want to write about a particular region, or decide they want to create a character based on someone they know or an aspect of themselves.  They meticulously create a character description and details, outline the plot, and carefully construct their manuscript based on all their notes.  Frankly, I wouldn't even know how to begin to do that.  Not that what they are doing is wrong, or anything like that.  But that process is so far removed from how my stories come into fruition it's like I'm trying to understand someone speaking to me in a language I don't know.

The movie screen in my head has always been there.  When I was kid I always had stories running on it.  As I grew older, those stories became more intricate and epic.  My imagination entertained me through many hours of boring classes in school or long road trips.  I was so accustomed to the movie screen in my head I was surprised when other people told me they didn't have one.  Most of my friends thought I was a bit loopy when I described how my imagination worked.  Though we all liked to play make-believe as kids, I realized that something about my own worlds of make-believe were quite different.

Readers and writers are always intrigued by the writing process of some of their favorite authors.   I've read various accounts of how my own favs construct their worlds, or discover them.  Every writer has their own process or way of unearthing their stories.

I thought I would share a few ways I have uncovered some of my stories.

THE FIRST DAYS (Book 1 of the AS THE WORLD DIES trilogy)

So small.
So very, very small.
The fingers pressed under the front door of her home were so very small. She could not stop staring at those baby fingers straining frantically to reach her as she stood shivering on the porch. The cool morning air lightly puffed out her pink nightgown as her own pale fingers clutched the thin bathrobe closed at her throat. Texas weather could change so fast, and this early March morning was crisp.
The opening scene of THE FIRST DAYS reads exactly how I saw it one day when I was sitting at my desk at work.  One second I was staring at a spreadsheet trying to sort out what I needed from a client when suddenly the movie screen in my head flashed on.  I saw in my head those tiny fingers then my mind's eye-camera panned out to show me Jenni.  The image was so vivid, so intense, it was if I was enmeshed in that world for a few scant seconds.  

As soon as my break arrived, I wrote the opening to my now epic zombie story.  At first I thought it was just a short story, but by the end of the day I had the whole story playing on the screen in my head.  


When she began to stir from her deep slumber, she had no idea she was buried under several feet of moist, dark earth.  Curled into a tight ball with one hand over her face, she shivered as her brain slowly switched on.  Flashes of random memories full of distorted images burst through her mind.
Time to wake up, a voice whispered.
Her eyelids fluttered.
 Before she could fully awaken, her body was seized tight in a spasm of pain.  Her body contorted in on itself as her hands trembled around her face.  The seizure released her and, slowly, she opened her eyes.
Darkness greeted her.
Trembling, she strained to see into the blackness that enshrouded her.  She could barely make out the outline of her fingers curled over her face.  Something heavy and moist was pressing down on her.
Suddenly claustrophobic, she thrust her left arm upward in a desperate attempt to throw off whatever was covering her.
Dirt poured into the tiny space around her face and filled her mouth and nose.  Terrified, she plunged her arm into the earth, trying to push it away.  She tried to roll onto her back and shoved upward with her other hand.  Warm, wet earth pressed down all around her body.
The opening two chapters of PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES were a dream I survived.  Yes, survived.

The dream was terrifying and completely enveloped my mind.  I thought it was real.  I had no idea I was dreaming as I experienced waking up being buried alive and fighting my way out of the forest floor.  My confusion and fear were very real emotions.  The worse part of the dream was when I had thought I had killed people.  It was only then I woke up and realized it had all been a dream.

I was so traumatized by the dream I knew instantly it was the beginning of a story I wanted to uncover. I wanted to know the story of the young woman who woke up buried in the forest.  Once I wrote out my dream, the rest of the story flowed onto the screen in my head.  In this case I had no idea where it was going until I had reached the end.  It was one helluva ride.

THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING (futuristic zombie novel work in progress)

The fan sputtered, then died as the rolling blackout hit her section of the city.  With a groan, Maria peeled the covers from her damp body and sat at the edge of the bed.  Her silky black hair fell over one shoulder, covering her bare breast.  The heat was already rising in her small flat.  The metal walls and high windows made the narrow room claustrophobic and, once the power cut out, stifling."Another glorious day in hell," Dwayne muttered beside her.  He peered at her from under the arm thrown over his face to shield his blue eyes from the sunlight beginning to pour through the window above the rumpled bed.Maria yawned.  "You mean a glorious day in the last great bastion of humanity?""That speech last night really did suck," Dwayne decided, laughing."Our fearless leader is full of shit."  Maria stood up, stretching out her lean, muscular body.  "He's not the best liar. That whole line about 'our time of crisis being at an end' was ridiculous."She sensed Dwayne making a grab for her ass and easily stepped out of reach. He groaned with frustration, then dragged his body out of bed. Scars crisscrossed his muscled arms and chest, a terrible reminder of the day he had almost died while fighting the undead. She had her own scars, her darker skin rising into hard keloids. They were fading slowly, but would never completely leave her.  A panicked soldier had tossed a grenade at the wrong time during the last great battle against the Inferi. Only their battle suits had kept Maria and Dwayne from being ripped to pieces, but some of the shrapnel had managed to pierce through the aging armor.  It had been a terrifying twenty-four hours before they were cleared of the Inferi Plague Virus infection.  Oddly, it was the time in the hospital that had laid the foundation for Dwayne and Maria's relationship.  "Our fearless leader may be full of shit, but it is in everyone's best interest to keep the civilians calm.  We don't need riots in the streets again," Dwayne said, yawning. "I think I'm just tired of being lied to. And to make it worse I have to defend those lies because it’s my duty." Maria twisted her hair back from her face and flipped it over one shoulder. She wasn't vain by nature, but her hair was the one aspect of her looks she actually cared about. It was very long, glossy black, and thick with just a slight wave to it. "We all do what we have to," Dwayne answered with a sigh.
Though my latest work in progress, THE LAST BASTION OF THE LIVING, opens with a very exciting (and gory) battle scene, I dreamed the first chapter of the book when taking a nap one day.  Instead of being in the lead character's head, I watched them as though they were on a movie screen in my head.  I loved their interaction with each other and the sense that they had a rich history between them.  I loved the world Maria woke up in and wanted to make her story into a short story for an anthology.  That failed very quickly. The story was much larger than that.  So I tried for a novella for another anthology.  That failed as well.  The story of Maria, Dwayne and the last bastion of humanity was epic in scale.  I stopped fighting to whittle the story down and embraced it fully.

Though I wrote the first few chapters around two years ago, I had to set aside the project to concentrate on the AS THE WORLD DIES books for Tor's reissue of all three books.  I am now moving swiftly through the novel and I hope to have it done by the end of the month.

The delay between when the story was conceived and now has allowed me to do a lot of background work on the story and for once I actually have a synopsis to look at.  Of course, I have already had unexpected characters show up and new scenes, but the gist of the story is already laid out.

So in answer to the question "how does it all come together?"  my answer is that I really don't know. All I know is that the movie screen on my head is always active and all I have to do is pay attention.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

THE FIRST DAYS' Katie is NOT a Lesbian

Katie as depicted by Detra on original cover
Katie is bisexual.

Yet, you wouldn't know it by the way she is constantly described as a "lesbian" in reviews not only by readers, but professional review sites.

Recently I wrote a post about reviews and how they only bother me when they have misinformation in them.  Katie being cited as a lesbian is one of those things that peeves me to no end.


Katie is not a lesbian who is de-gayed by a magic penis.  If she was a lesbian, she would not have been attracted to a man.  I think its rather insulting when people even assume this.  I have many lesbian friends and they have zero interest in men as partners.  To assume a good-looking guy is suddenly going to make a lesbian straight is really insulting.

Though Katie was married to an awesome lesbian woman named Lydia and loved her more than life itself, Katie is not a lesbian.  She's a bisexual woman who has loved both men and women in her past.  Katie loves people for who they are without regard or preference to their gender.

“But the truth is, I’m bisexual. Always have been. I dated guys and girls all through high school and in college. It just happened that the person—” Katie’s voice caught in her throat and she couldn’t talk for a moment. “—I fell in love with and wanted to spend my life with was a woman. It was her: Lydia.”  Katie in THE FIRST DAYS

Up until this point in the book Katie has not had the need to define her sexuality to anyone.  That her thoughts dwell on her dead wife is only natural.  She is in deep mourning for the woman she loves.

I assume that people get confused because of this earlier scene.
“I gotta pee,” Jenni said abruptly. The urgent need had hit her suddenly. She was a little surprised when Jason and Katie both said, “Me, too.”
Katie stopped in the middle of the narrow road, lifted the shotgun off the console, and looked at Jenni. “You first. Take your gun. I’ll cover.”
Jenni grumbled as she released her seat belt. “This is fucking annoying. Not being able to go without an armed guard.”
Jason cleared his throat and said, “What about me? I gotta go like right now.”
"I’ll cover for you, too. Jenni can cover for me.”
Jason looked at her warily. 
Katie gave him a reassuring smile. “I’m a lesbian. It’s okay. I’m not interested in your boy parts. I won’t look.”
Later on, Katie tells Jason why she told him she was a lesbian.
“I wanted you to pee.” Katie winked at him. 
Katie is the type of person who would have said the exact same thing to Jason if she had been straight. She just wanted him to hurry up and urinate before zombies came shambling along.

In FIGHTING TO SURVIVE Katie once again defines herself to Travis.
“So, the point of all this is, I became very used to living in the LGBT community and sometimes it was very difficult. If I identified myself as bisexual, I was sometimes told I just hadn’t fully accepted that I was lesbian. Lydia always defended me, but I eventually stopped telling anyone that I was bi.” Katie laughed bitterly. “After that, this one woman we knew congratulated me on finally accepting myself as a lesbian and not being in denial anymore.” She gazed into Travis’s eyes. “Lydia understood that I had made a choice to be with her because of who she was, not because her gender. "
Yet, despite Katie explaining to the characters in the story and to the reader who she is, people persistently flag her as a lesbian who becomes straight for a man.

In the story being called a lesbian was to show prejudice in the form of Shane, one of the construction workers that Katie runs afoul with when she kills his infected brother.
“I’m her best friend. Maybe I did it,” Katie said pointedly.
“Crazed lesbian kills ex-girlfriend’s almost killer,” a man’s voice said very sarcastically from behind her. 
When people want to insult Katie in the story, they call her a lesbian.  She ignores them, not allowing them to rile her or define her.  Besides, she doesn't see it as an insult since her beloved Lydia was a lesbian.

But why, I have asked myself, do readers and reviewers persistently peg Katie as a lesbian despite her saying she is not?  Why do they insist on making it seem that a lesbian woman is turned straight by a strong, handsome man?  A lot of times lesbians are threatened with sexual assault so they can be "turned straight."  Katie endures a lot of abuse from Shane and his pal, Philip.
“Shut up, lesbo bitch! Who asked you to fucking open your mouth?” Phil’s voice was full of hate, and his gaze was hostile.
“Nah, Phil. Let her open her mouth. I got something right here for it,” Shane stated, thrusting his cock at her.
In FIGHTING TO SURVIVE Katie suffers an attack from Shane.
“The lesbo wanted to try sex with a man,” Shane insisted through his bloodied teeth.
The myth that a lesbian will go straight if she just has sex with a man is even promoted by the media. The Jennifer Lopez film Gigli, the lesbian character inexplicably falls in love with Ben Affleck.

The website Mutant Reviewers from Hell has even named this romance movie cliche.

Where No Man Has Gone Before 

Movie lesbians are disgustingly easy to "convert" to heterosexuality when the possibility actually presents itself. This is, of course, total crap (unless, of course, they're bisexuals in disguise).

Katie is in disguise to the people in the fort.  She's hiding her sexuality because she knows of Travis's interest in her and she needs the time and space to mourn Lydia.  Yet, she is out as bisexual to the readership throughout most of the book.

But if she is defining herself as bisexual, why do readers (and reviewers) continue to call her a lesbian?

I actually think Katie herself answers this question.

“I often tell people I’m a lesbian so they’re comfortable.”“I don’t get it.”“Well, people like absolutes. And it blows most of their minds to try to think that I could find men and women equally attractive. It just freaks them out. They want me to be one or the other. So, since I was with Lydia, it was just easier to say I was a lesbian.” Katie held the phone against her chest and tried not to cry.“So you could end up with a guy or a girl?”“Honestly, Jason, right now, I can’t imagine being with anyone. I just . . .” She rolled onto her side and faced the wall. “I just miss her.”

One of my proudest moments was when Three Dollar Bill Reviews (a LGBTQ) review site, said this in their review of THE FIRST DAYS about the scene above.
In one part of the book Katie is explaining to Jason about being bisexual and why she has often told others she is a lesbian. What she says to the young man rings so true and many readers will find themselves nodding along in agreement. There’s an honesty to Katie’s character that makes her easy to identify with and creates a solid connection with the reader.
Note:  The reviewer is bisexual.

People do like absolutes.  Even in Hollywood, out bisexual actresses like Amber Heard and Kristanna Loken are constantly questioned about their sexuality.

Amber Heard as 409 in Zombieland
 Recently Amber Heard had this to say, 
 "It makes no difference to me, personally.  I've always been a private person and valued my private life. That being said, a lot of the media attention surrounding my relationship has been frustrating, simply because I'm a private person. But I think there's an important moment happening in our society right now, and I had to do the right thing. At the end of the day I don't label myself one way or another. I come from a place where I find it hard to identify with the label. I've dated men in the past. Now I'm dating a woman, and I see it as ultimately no big deal."

Sounds like Katie, huh?

Kristanna Loken...wouldn't she be a great Katie?
Kristanna Loken had an enormous impact on Katie.  As a straight woman, I didn't know much about bisexuality.  I knew the really bad stereotypes about them such as they are promiscuous, they can't make up their mind and just be gay, they have to have both sexes or they're not happy, etc... I didn't have the bisexual friends I have now, so I was fairly lost.  I ended up googling bisexuality and did a whole lot of reading.  It was actress Kristanna Loken that actually gave me the best insight into bisexuality.
"I have dated and have had sex with men and women and have to say that the relationships I have had with certain women have been much more fulfilling, sexually and emotionally, than those with certain men. I connect with an aura, with energy. And if the person with whom I connect happens to be a female, that's just the way it is. That's what makes my wheels turn."  - Kristanna Loken
Kristanna, by the way, has a lesbian sister.  She knows the difference between bisexuality and lesbianism.  At one point she married a man, and suffered the outrage of a few in the LGBTQ community.  In her defense, she said the following:
"I’m married to a man now. I think I was ready to be in a committed relationship and it could have been with a man or a woman. It just so happened to be a man, but it doesn’t make me not attracted to women." -Kristanna Loken
 She did later divorce and end up with a woman, but even when questioned after her divorce, she still adamantly stated her bisexuality.  I spoke with Kristanna at the Austin ComicCon a few years ago and she was not only beautiful, but very open about her sexuality. I told her all about Katie and even gave her the book.  I thanked her for being so open because it helped me create Katie.  She was thrilled and signed a picture for me that reads:  "Rhiannon, I am so happy that my honesty could help you create your character!!! Good luck!  Kristanna Loken"

Anna Paquin
Another major star that recently came out is actress Anna Paquin from True Blood fame.  She married her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, but still maintains she is bisexual.  Marrying a man did not suddenly make her straight.  A lot of bisexuals do end up marrying straight people, but the statistics are in the favor of that happening.  There is a much larger pool of straight people than gay people. Just because a bisexual person marries a person of the opposite sex does not automatically them straight.

“There is a lot of prejudice against us but the more people talk about it, the less of a deal it will be." - Anna Paquin

Even in the LGBTQ community bisexuals are often regarded with suspicion.  On the iconic lesbian show The L Word bisexuality ended up being portrayed in not so flattering a manner. discussed this in an article called The L Word's Vanishing Bisexual.

From the article:
The L Word’s representation of bisexuality reflects popular and sometimes opposing ideas about bisexuality. One belief--represented best on the series by Jenny--is that those who identify as bisexual are merely experimenting with their sexuality before they choose to identify as strictly heterosexual or homosexual, thus suggesting that a “bisexual” identity is at best a transitional identity, and at worst a false one.
The second is the belief that everyone has the potential to be attracted to people of either sex; in other words, everyone is at some level bisexual. This has been most clearly expressed by the character of Shane (Katherine Moennig), who stated in the second episode, “Sexuality is fluid, whether you’re gay or you’re straight or you’re bisexual, you just go with the flow.”
Third is the stereotype that bisexuals are sexually promiscuous or indecisive, with the added threat that a bisexual woman could, at any moment, leave her female lover for a man.

All of these are damaging stereotypes to bisexual people.  Even Katie relates this pressure in the series.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the confusion (or denial) of Katie's sexuality.  People want absolutes.  We want things to be black and white.  No in-betweens.  Katie lives in the world of gray and in-between.  She is attracted to both men and women.  She has fallen in love with both men and women.  She has found happiness with both sexes with no regrets.  Katie knows her heart and her mind, but the world around her continually tells her she's wrong.

Though I am frustrated when Katie's confession of bisexuality is ignored, I am always touched when bisexual readers thank me for her representation. They rarely see themselves depicted in a positive light.
Being challenged all my life for acceptance of my  in-born bisexuality I had such excitement and pride in how you presented Katie. I FELT her indecision and challenge in her relationship with both Jenni and Travis (lets not forget Lydia). Your complex inclusion of individuals searching for love, tenderness, and meaning in the arms of others is quite an achievement. Particularly in such a wild horror story of zombies with their mindless natures and hideous cannibalism. These three books deserve to be nice hardbacks. - from a fan email
Katie is most likely the first bisexual character in the zombie genre (please correct me if I'm wrong) and probably the first bisexual character many have read about.  In her own way, she is not only breaking ground in the fort, but with the readers as well.

I guess in the end my own frustration stems from the fact I want to defend her.  I want Katie to be able to define herself to her world and the readers and have them accept her. Whether people are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, questioning, or straight, everyone should have the right to define (or not define) themselves and be accepted for who they are.


This was posted on the AS THE WORLD DIES Facebook page:
I understand Katie's sexuality and it makes sense that she would fall in love with Travis. However, when I was first introduced to The First Days I was excited that Katie was a strong "lesbian" character. I felt a sting of disappointment when she admitted to being bisexual. I still love the series and you as an author. I just feel the "bisexual" woman had been done many times before. It was new and fresh to have a lesbian in the forefront.

This was my answer:
I have yet to read a story with a bisexual lead, but I understand your disappointment. Katie is not my only LGBT character, nor my last. THE VAMPIRE BRIDE series has a lesbian character starting in book two, and the upcoming PRETTY WHEN SHE KILLS has an ass-kicking lesbian couple. The point of my artcle is that Katie is not a lesbian turned straight by a magic penis. My characters tend to pop into my mind fully formed, so when Katie said she was bisexual in my head I had to reaearch her sexuality. I also feel that in no way does her bisexuality take away the beauty of her love for Lydia. Lydia is the love of Katie's life. 

Monday, January 23, 2012

How To Write When You Don't Have The Desire/Nerve/Energy

It's not uncommon for me to get questions from people who want to be writers.  They pop into my inbox every once and a while asking basic questions.  I usually link them to a blog post I have already written on the subject, or give them a quick answer if it's a simple question.

But the one question I have been getting a lot of late is probably the one I hate answering the most.  The reason why is because the answer is very simple and not one the person asking the question wanted to hear.

So what is this question?

Usually the email looks something like this:

"I want to be a writer and I have some really great ideas.  But I start writing and then I lose interest/get bored/lose energy/can't make myself write.  How do you deal with this? How do you keep interested in your idea?  How do you keep writing?"

The truth of the matter is you have to make yourself write.  You just have to keep going.  You can't give up.  You have to push through the hard parts.  Even when your energy is down and your interest in the story is waning, you have to just write.

To be a have to write!

Everyone wants the secret formula to success in all aspects of life.  Why else would there be so many self-help books?  Yet, the reality in most cases from weight loss to career advancement is that to be successful you have to work hard.

How marathons start...
I am not a runner, but I have watched marathons during the Olympics (the only time I watch sports).  I always find it interesting how everyone takes off like a shot, trying to get ahead of the pack, then as the pace evens out, the runners usually start to try to conserve their energy while maintaining (or gaining) a lead.  It's always rough watching these people strain to reach the end as the rigors of the run start to wear them down.  There is always a part in the race where they are drenched in sweat, pouring bottled water over their bodies and into their mouths with their faces tense with concentration and you wonder how any of them are going to finish.  Then, the finish line nears and you see runners start to pick up their pace as they rush toward the end.  I'm always surprised when people who looked on the verge of collapse suddenly sprint the last part of the race and through the finish line.

How marathons end...
I'm sure every runner in that marathon wonders at one point if they are going to be able to finish.  A few people never make it past the finish line.  But each and every runner knows the only way they're going to make it is if they push through all the pain to the very end. No one is going to carry them.

Marathons always start with a ton of people...but end as only one person crosses the line.

Well, writing is a lot like that.  You start off with a burst of inspiration and energy.  The idea is fresh and fantastic and you're madly in love with the entire concept.  You rush along at a steady clip then the pace starts evening out.  Slowly, your steam starts to peter out.  There is always a point where you are  trudging along, pushing through the hardest part of the book because you have come too far and you want to get to the end.  It is sheer determination and willpower that power you through.  Then you see that the end is in sight, you get that second rush of energy and sprint to the end of the book.

The problem with most people who want to be writers is that the minute their steam dissipates, they drop out of the race and go back to the beginning to start a different race.  I have seen this happen so many times with very talented writers.  They fall in love with an idea and take off like a shot, but once their interest wanes, they shove the half-written story away and start on another.  They never go all the way to the end.  So many people have told me they have partially written stories stashed away all over their hard drives or tucked into a trunk.  And they always ask me how I finish my novels.  How do I do it?

Again, the answer is I write.  I write when I lose my energy.  I write when I feel I have no inspiration.  I write when I'm tired.  I write when I don't want to.  I write because I want to get to the end of the story.

Here are a few ways I get myself to write even when I don't feel it.

1.  I create a spot for myself where I am comfortable and can be free of most interruptions.  In my case it is my home office, but for others it may be their bedroom, coffee shop, park bench, etc.

2.  I commit to writing X amount of words per day when on a project.  Now, if you're struggling, you may want to set it to a low number like 250 to 500. Mine is between 3,000 and 5,000.

3.  Don't self-edit when writing a first draft.  In other words, don't go back and keep tweaking what you already wrote.  Move forward.  Only read back if you think you've lost a thread.  Too many writers fuss with making the first part perfect before they have written the middle and the end.

4. When I have writer's block it's usually because I dropped a thread in the story.  I'll read back over what I wrote until I find what I missed.  I do NOT self-edit during this time.

5.  Commit to writing for X amount of time every day.  Pick a time and keep to it.  Don't falter.  Tell everyone to leave you alone during this time.  Threaten them if you have to!

6.  Writing sprints help a lot of people.  Set your timer for 5 minutes, and write non-stop the entire time.  Just type. Just go. Don't over think it. Just write.  Take a small break, set the timer, go again.

7.  Listen to music that inspires you and makes you think about your story.  Each one of my novels has different "theme" music that set the mood.

8.  Make character sheets or a database for your novel. Include the characters' vital info and maybe a photo or drawing that resembles them.  If you have some sort of idea of a plot, write that out in a short summary.  Keep it close.  (NOTE:  I use the free program yWriter to build a character database and to write the first draft of my novels).

And finally...just write.  Just do it.  I find that even when I don't want to write, once I get past a certain post, the dam opens and the words pour out.

If you want to reach the finish line, you're going to have to push through.  It isn't easy to be a writer. And one of the hardest parts is finishing the book.

Good luck!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Autographed Bookplates Now Available!!

Recently I was asked by Grace Fonseca of the Livre D'Amour blog if I have autographed bookplates.  I am so grateful she did because I have been receiving a slew of requests from fans wondering how they could get their books autographed.  An autographed bookplate is such a great idea and I wish I had thought of it ages ago. It's a lot easier (and cheaper) for everyone involved than shipping books back and forth and overwhelming my post office box.

So how does it work?

You will need to send a self-addressed stamped envelope (make sure the postage is sufficient if you want a lot of bookplates) and include a note (typed or in clear handwriting) detailing which books you want a template for, what name (or names) you want included in the message, and if you want a particular date included (birthday, anniversary).  I need to know which books I am autographing for since I sign each one differently.

Send the SASE to:
Rhiannon Frater
P.O. Box 4983
Austin, TX 78765

I will be sending out the bookplates every two weeks.  If you need the bookplate for a gift, make sure to request it in advance.

Remember to make sure the return envelope has pre-paid postage on it. I am covering the cost of the bookplates, but you will need to cover the cost of postage.

Thanks again to Grace for the great idea!

FAQ: "Will you read my manuscript and tell me what you think?"

One of the most difficult aspects of finding success in my writing career is that I have had to learn to say "no" when asked particular questions. As someone who tries to please other people (sometimes to my detriment), this is not always easy.

Let me explain what I'm talking about...

One of the major reasons I started this blog was so people could read about my journey and learn from my mistakes, failures, and hopefully, successes. I still believe by sharing my experiences with all of you, I may help you avoid making gaffs you will regret. The other reason for this blog was so my fans would be able to find out the latest news on my road to publication with the As The World Dies series.

I still get a lot of email from people asking me all sorts of questions. Sometimes they are easy to answer, sometimes they're not. I have even referred people to the blog because I already addressed their question in a post.

But there is one question I will always answer "no" to and here it is.

"Will you read my manuscript and tell me what you think?"

When I researched paths to publication before I self-published,  I read the FAQ's on the websites of some of my favorite writers for advice and noticed many times they stated adamantly that they would not look at any manuscripts sent to them.  I thought it was a little odd at the time until I began having my own success.  In the first year, I was surprised at how often I was sent a manuscript from someone I didn't know.  It made me vastly uncomfortable.

I still have quite a few people sending me their work out of the blue. I'll open up my email, have a nice message from an aspiring writer about how they like my work and then they'll tell me they have attached their manuscript for me to read, send on to my agent, or to my publisher.

I dread these emails.  The honest truth is I delete any unsolicited manuscripts from my inbox immediately after answering the author.

To some this may seem like an odd thing for a writer to do.  Sending off the manuscript they toiled over to someone they didn't know seems like a risky proposition. I suspect the practice was born out of some success stories that were touted in the media over the last few decades. The much-hyped stories were about people who landed huge publishing deals after being endorsed by a major author.  Usually the story was that an unknown writer managed to get their manuscript into the hands of this major author, who was so blown away by what they read they immediately passed the manuscript on to their agent/editor and the newbie author got a deal.  This probably only happened a handful of times, but we writers tend to be a desperate lot.  A lot of writers seized onto this idea.

I once read an article about a well-known author and when asked to offer advice, she begged writers not to send their manuscripts to her.  She had to trash them since most of the time there was no self-addressed stamped envelope.  There were even stories of people trying to put their manuscripts on the front doorsteps of their favorite author's homes.

To make matters worse, there is a lot of bad advice out there on the writing forums.  One bit of advice was to get blurbs or endorsements from writers in your genre before you send you manuscript into an agent or editor.  On one thread, a writer was desperately trying to gather author emails to send off her manuscript for them to read.

Established writers do help others get deals, but it is usually because they know them from writing circles and not because a random manuscript landed on their doorstep or in their inbox. I don't know of any authors who actually read unsolicited manuscripts from unknown writers.


These are my own personal reasons:

1.  Legal Issues - Writers need to protect themselves against being accused of plagiarizing another person's writing and the best way to avoid this is to not read unsolicited manuscripts. Lawsuits are not fun, yet the publishing world is full of them. J.K. Rowling has been sued multiple times by writers convinced she pilfered from their work.
If I'm working on a book about witches and someone sends me an unsolicited manuscript about witches, they could later on believe that any coincidental similarities could be due to me reading their work and stealing from it.  To avoid this scenario, I hit delete immediately.

2. Time -  I have my own writing career to build and it takes a lot of my waking time.  I have even turned down reading the manuscripts of author friends because I just don't have the time to give them an honest critique while working on my own writing.
At this time I do three kinds of reading:  1) research for my novels 2) keeping up to date on the publishing world 3) entertainment.  When I used to help other friends who were writers with their stories, it was a lot of time and energy.   An honest critique is a lot more than just reading the story, it's about digging into the meat and bones.

3. Respect for my Agent - I respect my agent and all the things she does for me and her other clients.  I know she works very hard and has countless submissions every day pouring into her inbox.  I have only referred three writers to my agent since I signed with her.  The first writer I referred blindly, because they were a friend.  I hadn't read the manuscript because I was swamped with other things.  I later regretted doing this because I realized I honestly didn't know if that manuscript was any good or even something my agent would enjoy. I realized I could be wasting both the writer and my agent's time with a bad fit.   Nothing came of that scenario.  Later, I referred two more friends, but after they received offers from other publishers (agents love it when there is a deal on the table). I had read both authors' work and loved their writing styles. They also had a history of being published by small presses and growing fan bases.  Referring them to my agent made sense and she thanked me for referring both of them.  She now represents both authors. I respect my agent enough to realize her time is valuable.

4. Tor Will Look At Unsolicited Manuscripts -   My editor at Tor explained to me once how the editors at Tor look at all the unsolicited manuscripts on a pretty regular basis.  They grab all the manuscripts, stack them into piles, and everyone starts reading.  If the first page doesn't hook them, they move on to the next submission.  At the end of the day, each editor ends up with a stack of manuscripts to look at more closely.  She explained that a lot of the manuscripts are going to be rejected, but once and a while they find a real gem in those piles. She even told me to tell writers to go ahead and send in their manuscripts to Tor.  Those submissions will be looked at. But you better have a polished manuscript with a killer opening. There is no point sending manuscripts to me or any other writer when there are still publishing houses that will look at unsolicited manuscripts.  

5.  Self-Publishing - You don't need to have another author lift you up into the upper echelon of publishing when you can find your own success.  As my agent and my editor have both said to me multiple times, sometimes good books don't get published because they're not going to sell big.  Your manuscript may be awesome, but there is no assurance that will land you a publishing deal.  In fact, several authors (JA Konrath comes to mind) have self-published rejected manuscripts and have made thousands of dollars off of them.

So if you're an unknown writer and you want an honest assessment of your novel, what do you do?  I strongly believe in joining a writers group online or in your local area.  It really helps to have your peers look at your work.  Sometimes established authors are part of these groups.  That is where the rare endorsement sometimes comes into play.

My way of helping you (if you're a fledgling writer) is by documenting my own journey on this blog and hopefully encouraging you along the way.

The reality is that every writers journey to success is going to be different.  It's about you making it happen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Kody Boye Decided to Self-Publish

 Today I have a guest blogger.  Kody Boye is not only a really good friend, he's also my web designer, moderator on some of my social networks, and formats my self-published books.  He's also a young, brilliant writer with a great career ahead of him.

Kody Boye recently released his first book in a dark fantasy series called THE BROTHERHOOD SAGA.  This was a complete labor of love and has consumed a lot of his energy and time for the last two years.  I know he has already written the 2nd and 3rd book in the series and is working on the 4th.  He plans to release all five books of the series himself.

I asked him to write a post about why he decided to self-publish and he was kind enough to do so. 

A lot of people question me when they see me self-publishing short fiction via Createspace, Amazon’s Kindle dashboard or even Smashwords. This is understandable. For the past six years, I’ve worked in small-press writing industry as somewhat of an adapter—writing, revising, critiquing, rewriting and then submitting, with the result usually either coming back as Accept or Reject. 

When I get asked why I self-publish, I find it hard to explain—not because I can’t put it into my own words, but because a lot of people don’t understand my reasoning behind going into the self-publishing business. There are usually a few specific reasons why writers are told to go through publishers rather than doing it themselves. 
 A) You’ll get distribution. 
 B) You don’t have to pay for editing, cover art or formatting 
 And C) You’ll get a bigger readership. 

 Now—given that it is 2012 and we’ve seen a massive shift in the publishing industry as a whole (both due to eBooks and the rise of Print-On-Demand publishing,) I feel the need to set something straight. As a writer who’s worked on both sides of the fence, I can honestly explain a few things I’ve found just by being in the industry. 

 So—onto our list from above:

 A) You’ll get distribution. This may be true if you’re a large press publisher. By ‘distribution,’ we ultimately think of getting books in bookstores, convenience shops, in the airport or even at your local grocery market. This is usually by the power of the print count of a book (as in, how many books are printed at a time and then distributed to stores.) Most small press publishers distribute the same way independent authors do—via Smashwords, which sends your books to various online bookstores and ebook market websites; via Createspace, which prints on demand and with their Pro feature gives bookstores and libraries the ability to order books; and Kindle, which can easily be obtained either by opening an Amazon account or by clicking on the ‘Kindle’ tab on Smashwords. In the end writer must pick a publisher based on his or her track record. I know of small-press publishers who distribute to stores based on contracts with higher-market printers, and I know those who only work with print-on-demand technology. Going with a publisher that isn’t considered one of ‘the big ones’ or whose publications have not held up to the industry’s standard of sales is like a double-edged sword—on one hand, you may have someone who can promote the living hell out of your book, while on the other you may have someone who doesn’t know a thing about promotion. 

 B) You don’t have to pay for editing, cover art of formatting. This isn’t something I can contest, as a good publisher’s job is to pay for those resources. 

 C) You’ll get a bigger readership. This, dear reader, is ultimately up to you and your publisher as a promoter. If your publisher isn’t going out of their way to post ads in magazines, online, in other books or in a multitude of various outlets, you’re not going to get any more sales than you would have had even if you did happen to publish independently. With self-publishing, the market has been dragged down. There is no longer a ‘barrier’ for fiction that is deemed ‘acceptable’ or ‘sellable’ to block first-time writers (i.e, the submission/rejection process) from putting bad books out. For that reason, it becomes much more difficult for a first-time author to find an audience unless they’re actually pushing themselves toward it. The amount of readers you have ultimately falls onto either onto the publishing house or you. Sadly, and usually, small press and independent readers are on their own in that regard. 

 With that out of the way, and with those common misconceptions arranged, you’re probably wondering: Why are you self-publishing something that you believe is sellable? (AKA: The Brotherhood Saga.) 

 There’s a few reasons. 

 1.) It’s too long. At nearly five-hundred pages, it’s just 25,000 shy of being a half-million word book. Most small press publishers won’t even look at it. It’s too long. 

 2.) I want to control the income. I have an instinctive gut feeling that if I do this myself rather than sell it through a publisher that I will eventually get somewhere with this series—monetarily. Had I tried going through a publisher, I may have received a substantially-lowered royalty, or I may have been given an advance—which, most likely, would not have been that great, considering I do not as of yet have a good marketplace of readers. 

 3.) It’s personal. The Brotherhood was born out of a brain cancer scare (which I detail in full within the beginning of the novel itself.) Because of that, there’s many strong emotions attached to the book and story as a whole, which is why I’m not so tempted to place it in someone else’s hands to sell it for me. 

 4.) I control everything. I pick who edits it, who formats it (me,) and who does the cover art. It might just be because I work at the speed of light (no joke on that part,) but I don’t like waiting around for other people to do stuff for me—which, to be frank, is a sad and honest truth about the publishing world. Most things go at a snail’s pace if there is no looming deadline. 

 5.) I don’t want my book chopped apart. Though I would not refuse to cut down certain aspects of the book if I believed it would help the story, I find it hard to stomach the idea of cutting a book of this length apart. Blood, the first Brotherhood Saga book in particular, is very story and plot-driven. For me to take those elements out I would have to do extensive rewriting—which, at this point, I’d rather not do. I love the story as it is. I don’t want it to be cut apart and stitched back together. 

 My main goal with my process of self-publishing is to test my limits by seeing just what I can do in regards to promotion. I’ve learned a few tricks in the past two/three years about promoting a novel or a series. 

That alone is enough to assure me that, in my current state, I can do pretty much everything a regular small-press publisher could do. That in and of itself is the primary reason why I have decided to forego traditional publishing with some of my work until a later date.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


As a writer of both self-published and traditionally published works, copyright is something that is very important to me.  I believe people should have the right to protect their copyright.  But I do not agree with censorship of the Internet.  SOPA is not the answer to online piracy.  It is the beginning of censorship of the Internet in America.

I previously posted about SOPA and Senator Lloyd Doggett's appeal to the Judiciary Committee.  Read it here.

A quick overview about SOPA and how it will affect the Internet is here.

The Stop American Censorship website has more information here.

Let your voice be heard.  Join the protest.

Does Horror Exist In Literature Anymore?

When I was a little girl my mother used to take me to a second hand book store in the small Texas town where we lived.  It was in an area of the dying downtown where the sun always seemed to be blasting down on us as we hurried up the sidewalk and into the cool gloom of the store filled with shelves upon shelves of books.

My mother was a voracious reader and was always picking up huge stacks of books to read.  Other than the library, the cluttered second-hand bookstore was to place to find something to read during the warm muggy Texas nights.  As my mother slowly moved through the stacks, I would follow her admiring the covers.  I couldn't read at the time, so I was very small.  I would pull a book out, look at the cover wondering what the picture meant, then shove it right back onto the shelf.  I was pretty well-behaved so my mom didn't really worry about me.  During one visit, I wandered around a corner and found myself staring at a book that had been turned so the cover was facing outward.  I stared at the man with the blood dripping from long teeth clad in a tuxedo, dramatically throwing out his cape to show the red lining in absolute terror.  I had never seen anything like this before.  I couldn't take my eyes off of it. I was scared, but intrigued.  My mom called to me and I rushed away wondering about that mysterious book.

On return trips I discovered that all the books in that section were filled with bizarre covers of monsters and creatures like I had never seen before.  I knew my mom wouldn't approve (how do we always know that?), and tried to look at the covers on the sly.  I'm fairly sure quite a few of them gave me some terrible nightmares.

Of course, at such a young age I never dreamed I would one day be writing about monsters.

I love monsters. I love tales of horror.  I love the things that go bump in the night and the mysteries that surround them.  I am both intrigued and terrified of monsters.  I love a good monster movie (though I don't like slasher films), and always enjoy it when they manage to actually scare me.  A good horror tale is a treasure in my eyes.

Is it any surprise that I write horror?

What's that?  Oh, yeah. I consider myself a horror writer.  You didn't know that?  You classify my novels as post-apocalyptic, or supernatural suspense, or paranormal romance (I don't get this one at all), or urban fantasy. Honestly, that doesn't surprise me.

While in Barnes & Noble during one of my book signings, my husband and friends searched high and low for a horror section hoping to see my book on the shelf.  At the information desk they were told zombies were in science fiction/fantasy.  So my husband and friends searched there to no avail.  At last they found THE FIRST DAYS tucked into general fiction.

"Why would anyone look for a zombie book in general fiction?" my husband wondered.  He even asked the store manager.

Apparently, the lines of genre have blurred so much that even Stephen King, the master of horror, is in general fiction.

Horror has been re-branded  and shuffled off to a variety of corners in different bookstores.  They end up shelved in thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and general fiction.  There is rarely a horror section in bookstores.

I'm not sure why this happened.  Some of the big names in publishing are those of horror writers, or at least people who write about monsters.  Stephen King, Ann Rice, Dean Koontz, and even Stephanie Meyers all write about things that go bump in the night.  But somehow the horror tag has been dismissed, even among readers.

PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES received a pretty favorable review a while back, but was slammed for having a "horror" cover, while the reviewer considered it urban fantasy.  This same cover drew in a YA reader who was upset to find a "horror" novel inside.

I consider the novel firmly in the "horror" genre.  It has brutal killings, disgusting zombies, bloody feasts, and themes of a horrific nature running through it.  Yes, there are some moments of humor and a dash of romance, but the overall plot line is that of a young woman facing down a fearsome vampire/necromancer who can raise armies of the dead.    Yet, the tag urban fantasy gets attached to it over and over again.

Many urban fantasy novels geared toward adults are told via a first-person narrative, and often feature mythological beings, paranormal romance, and various female protagonists who are involved in law enforcement or vigilantism. --wikipedia
PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES is in third person, does feature mythological beings, and has elements of romance, but Amaliya is definitely not in law enforcement or a vigilante.  She just wants to save her ass from the bad guy.

THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE, which I consider gothic horror in the vein (hehehe) of DRACULA and CARMILLA, gets tagged paranormal romance.  This always stuns me.  The book is very bloody and filled with not so nice scenes.  Glynis suffers horribly at the hands of her creator and the whole plot is about her trying to escape his brutality.  There is an element of romance, but its not her abusive creator she falls for, but another person altogether.  I have always understood a romance novel to be primarily about the romance, the plot being secondary.  In THE VAMPIRE BRIDE series, the focus of the story is Glynis and her desire to be free of the constraints of her new nature and her creator.

AS THE WORLD DIES (THE FIRST DAYS, FIGHTING TO SURVIVE, SIEGE) have been tagged as Urban Fantasy, Post Apocalyptic Fiction, and sometimes, yes, Horror (yay!).  But more often than not it is tagged as Zombie Fiction, or Apocalyptic Fiction.

As people categorize my novels in their minds, bookshelves, and reading lists, I have to wonder am I the only one classifying myself as a horror writer?  Is horror in literature now something to be avoided and reclassified as something else? Is it wrong to want to wear the "horror" label with pride and avoid the nicer, friendlier ones?

This is my conundrum.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Never Diss Your Readers

There was another epic author meltdown on the Internet a few weeks ago.  Apparently on Goodreads someone posted a review about a book that wasn't quite to the liking of one of the author's friends (also a writer).  As these things tend to do, it epically blew up and resulted in a bunch of bizarre Twitter comments against Goodreads reviewers.

When Goodreads was compared to 4Chan, I was stunned.  Either the person writing the comment has no idea what 4Chan is, or they are really, really sensitive to any sort of criticism. Or maybe both.

You can read about the mess here.

This, of course, did not go unnoticed by the blogsphere and lots of bloggers immediately covered it.  It spread like wildfire and I stumbled across the blowup while reading the comments on an article about the YA books coming out this year.

Writers behaving badly is not a new phenomena.  It seems every year there is an epic author meltdown over a review and things get nasty fast.  And like kids running to see a fight on the school playground, the Internet swarms around the event logging it for prosperity.

One of the best pieces of advice I ever read on an author's blog was from bestselling author Alison Winn Scotch.  In a post last year she wrote about developing a thick skin.  It's a subject she has discussed a few times on her blog and I felt she summed it up beautifully.

Part of this gig is putting yourself out there, and then, you simply have to dodge the tomatoes that are thrown your way. Hopefully, you can dodge artfully and not get smacked in the face.
Writers often complain that when readers attack their books, it's personal.  That their books are like their children and they have a right to defend them.  I have heard this argument over and over again from writers, and each time I shake my head.

Readers are a writer's best friend.  They will let you know when you screw up. Tell you when you did it right.  Tell all their friends and family about you.  Blog about you. Buy your books (which pays your bills and puts food on your table).  And generally support the writing career every writer dreams of.

And yeah, they can sometimes kick you pretty hard in the teeth.

But lashing out at a reader in any forum is just not a good idea. It's bad form and it makes the writer look like a jerk.  Pure and simple.  Readers don't want to see their favorite author melting down over a bad review or calling another reader an asshole for not understanding all the pain, agony, tears, and long hours they put into their book.  What they see is someone being overly-sensitive to criticism and throwing a temper tantrum.

I admit I have had a few really brutal reviews. PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES got a one star review a while back that was like someone taking a jackhammer to it.  The reviewer hated Amaliya for sleeping with three different men during the course of the book, she didn't like that Amaliya's family turned her away, she didn't like all the swear words, she didn' it.

My favorite quote:
 Why is this book named "Pretty when she dies" it should be "Slut when she dies" or "Bitch when she dies"
Seriously, she took my book down.  BAM!

I sat in my chair in giggled.

Seriously, c'mon.  I had to.  It was such epic hatred.  Apparently she thought the book was a YA book and it was entirely not what she expected.  She had a right to hate the things she did in that context and I understood that.

The review sat prominently on the page for PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES at this particular site for weeks and my sales went UP.  I even stumbled across a conversation about the review where one person told another that obviously the reviewer of the 1 star review judged the book harshly because it was not a YA like she expected.  Then they both agreed they were going to read PRETTY WHEN SHE DIES.

Later, the reviewer tried to remove the review, so its now lined out, but honestly, I hope it stays up there.


As a writer you want people to have some sort of reaction to your book.  You want them to feel something.  Even if they loathe it, that's a reaction.  At least you're not being dismissed outright.  At least you captured their attention for a little while.  And for all the reasons they cite why they did NOT like your book, someone else may LOVE your book.

Reviews are subjective.  Some may absolutely love you, others loathe you, and some may be somewhere in between.  But when they take the time to write a review, at least it means you enticed a reaction from them.

I will admit that sometimes reviews annoy me.  Usually when they state erroneous information about the book or characters.  This happens a lot in the bad reviews and I read them carefully to make sure that I am not failing in accurately describing a plot point or a character.  A review for THE TALE OF THE VAMPIRE BRIDE cited bone-breaking sex scenes or something like that and I was completely confused.  I was pretty sure I had never written such a scene and double-checked to make sure. I have to assume that the reader misread something or skipped over sections of the book. Which is my other peeve: if you don't finish a book, how can you review it?  I have had a few of those as well.  In fact one woman skipped through so much of the book, the things she said she didn't like were completely out of context.

But what can I do?

I let it go. I don't respond. I move on.

Bad reviews with a legitimate complaints (editing errors, plot holes, character underdevelopment) are ones I take very seriously.  I will open up one of my books and see if I screwed up a plot point or check on the character development.  I'll fix errors on my self-published stuff and upload a new version of the book.

Otherwise, if its just a "this book sucks cause this girl was like a lesbian and there was crying" or "the girl is this book has sex with three guys..she's a slut" or something of that ilk, I just blow it off.

A writer who attacks a reader is biting the hand that feeds him/her.  It's that simple.  A reader may not like one of your books all that much, but one of your other books may be their favorite.  You never know.  And attacking them may lose your more than their support.

After the fiasco on Goodreads and Twitter a lot of people said point blank they would not be buying the books of the authors involved.  And that is completely within their right and I can totally understand that sentiment.  By acting out, those authors lost potential sales.

It is never worth going to war with the very people who buy your books.  You will never win.

Update:  The big mess ended up being covered by the The Guardian in the UK.  I just saw this posted on author Rhiannon Miller's facebook page.

Friday, January 13, 2012

My Projects-Updated

Illness, deadlines for SIEGE, and a death in the family pretty much obliterated my writing schedule for my new novels at the end of 2011.  But life happens and you have to adjust accordingly.  One of the most difficult things I've had to adjust to in the last year was setting aside a work in progress to meet a deadline for Tor on one of the three books in the trilogy.

With SIEGE now put to bed, my writing schedule is my own until another one of my projects gets picked up by Tor or another publisher.  In the meantime, I plan to keep working on the series I have decided to self-publish, a few short story collections, and a standalone zombie novel (I may or may not self-publish).  I have also thrown in a YA novel that I am working on with fellow author Kody Boye.  We made some amazing progress when we first started, but have put the project aside because he is dealing with some medical issues.  We hope to be back on track very soon.

So here is my updated projected writing schedule (subject to change, of course).

Writing Schedule for 2012

Last Bastion of the Living (futuristic zombie novel) Projected writing period to finish the novel already in progress - January

Notes: I'm moving swiftly on this project now. Right before I had to set this project aside to work on SIEGE I had hit a wall, but I punched through it this week and I'm zooming!

Blood & Love and Other Vampire Tales (a compilation of short stories) Already written and has been sent to the editor.  Artwork has been commissioned.  Release date is possibly February or early March.

Note: This collection will be in ebook only.

Pretty When She Kills (vampires, necromancers, zombies in modern day Texas) Projected writing period February/Early March for a projected release date in May.

Notes: Artwork is already completed.

As The World Dies Untold Tales Volume 2 (featuring Ken & Lenore's story, Katarina's story, and unknown story) Projected writing period -January- commissioning cover art now  Projected release date is unknown.

Notes: I only have one story left to write.

As The World Dies Untold Tales Volume 3 (featuring Rune's story, the Senator's story, and unknown story)Projected writing period - April for a projected release date in June or July

Rise of the Vampire Bride Projected writing period - June for a projected release date in October

The Midnight Spell YA novel with Kody Boye- Temporarily On Hold

Untitled Short Story Collection A collection of of stories ranging from zombies to robots to the Old Ones.  Projected release date is unknown.

Notes:  All but one story is written.  This collection will be in ebook only.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

2011--The Year of the Female Zombie Author

The end of the year is when lists are compiled and compared by various bloggers, websites, and magazines.  I have been doing my own end of the year lists (a little late) as I reflect back on the year 2011.

THE FIRST DAYS made two lists over on Explorations:  The BN SciFi and Fantasy Blog.  I was extremely excited that the book made the list for The Best Zombie Fiction Releases of 2011, and surprised when it also landed on the The Best Apocalyptic Fiction Releases of 2011.

One thing definitely stood out on both lists...the female author is starting to hit big in apocalyptic fiction.

To quote Paul Goat Allen, the reviewer behind both lists:
Two things strike me as I look back on zombie fiction in 2011: the continued rise of female writers (and female protagonists) in a category that has been traditionally male – writers like Sophie Littlefield, Rhiannon Frater, Mira Grant, Joan Frances Turner, etc. – and the infusion of more than a few stellar debut novelists. Unlike paranormal fantasy, which had very few noteworthy debuts this year, zombie fiction had, well, a horde of stand-up-and-applaud debuts, including Rhiannon Frater’s The First Days,The Becoming by Jessica Meigs, Thomas S. Roche’s The Panama Laugh, and Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel.
I'm personally excited to see one of Permuted Press's female authors make this list.  Jessica Meigs is one of the few female authors from the very popular post apocalyptic publisher and her book appearing on the list was an awesome shout out not only to the debut author, but the publisher as well. Her book is definitely on my "to read" list. It sounds like her character of Cade (an  female Israeli sharpshooter) and my character of Nerit would get along quite well.  The zombies would never stand a chance!

An author that is not on the list, but is definitely making massive waves (and is on a ton of favorite lists across the internet) is Madeleine Roux, author of ALLISON HEWITT IS TRAPPED and the upcoming, SADIE WALKER IS STRANDED.   When Book Chick City compiled her favorite novels of 2011, THE FIRST DAYS shared the top spot with ALLISON HEWITT IS TRAPPED.  I was not only honored to be at the top of the list, but to share it with another female zombie author was freaking amazing!

2011 was filled with awesome zombie fiction from some of my favorite female authors.  Carrie Ryan's THE DEAD-TOSSED WAVES and Ann Aguirre's ENCLAVE were awesome reads in the young adult genre.

There were plenty of new names that emerged as well, like Eloise Knapp with her novel THE UNDEAD SITUATION. Sue Edge's DEAD TROPICS was an indie hit before it was picked up by Permuted Press.

Indie Author Amanda Hocking's long awaited HOLLOWMEN (The Hollows #2) was the exciting sequel to 2010's HOLLOWLAND.  Boasting a strong female protagonist and plenty of zombie carnage, both books are awesome additions to the genre.

And the list of women writing in the genre continues to grow as 2012 brings the highly-anticipated release of THIS IS NOT A TEST by Courtney Summers.

Mira Grant, Cherie Priest, Carrie Ryan, and Sophie Littlefield have lead the charge in traditional publishing while other women (like me) first broke ground in self-publishing or small presses.

Female authors and their unique perspectives are making their presences known in the zombie genre and it's about time.