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TV Rots Your Brain, and Makes It Tender

Sunday was a really slow TV night for my family.  With our regular shows over, we don't really have anything in our queue to watch.  My spouse and I are forced to find other shows.  On Sunday, he found Freaky Eaters.

I was skeptical at first.  It sounded like it could be disgusting.  It was, but it was also fascinating.  Basically, the show focuses on individuals who have strange/unhealthy eating habits.  For example, one woman has eaten nothing but cheesy potatoes for 30 years, and another guy eats 5 pounds of meat a day with no vegetables. 

Friends and family members call in experts to help their loved ones change their eating habits so they don't die.  It's fascinating.  They give them blood tests so they can see how much damage has been done and show them healthy ways to eat.  I was hooked!  And disgusted.  The show definitely made my bad eating habits look awfully tame.

Of course, we watched several episodes of this show before going to bed, and it affected my dreams.  I dreamt that I was a freaky eater, but do you think it was food I was eating?  Of course not!  I was a zombie!

It was so weird.  My entire family (Mom, Dad, and siblings) were there, along with my spouse, but we were all trying to be normal.  We'd eat "regular" food around other people, but I was never full.  My stomach was constantly growling throughout the dream, and I was starving!  Luckily for me, my mom kept a stash of fresh people in the basement for a snack.  I promptly headed down there to grab myself an ankle bone and foot.

Don't you hate it in your dreams when you can actually taste, but things don't taste right?  Well, that's how this dream was.  I have no idea what human flesh would taste like, but my brain made it up for me.  It wasn't pleasant.  In my dream, I enjoyed it immensely, but when I thought about it after I awoke, it upset my stomach.  It was kind of like dark meat on chicken or turkey.  I'm not a big fan of dark meat, so that was a bit disturbing.

Sitting down and working through the meaning of that dream would probably be fun, but, for now, I'm going to leave it alone.  All I need to know is that TV rotted my brain!


I've said it before and I'll say it again:  I know some of the coolest people in the world!  Horror Artist Jerrod Brown is one of those people.  If I think I've met some awesome people, he definitely takes the cake!  If you check out his myspace page, you'll see pictures of his work and the people he's met at art shows.

At his most recent art show, he got to meet Vivica A. Fox and Linda Hamilton.  He also met Madison Lintz, who was on "The Walking Dead."  He painted my cover for "Life After the Undead," so he took a photo of her holding it and sent it to me.  IT MADE MY ENTIRE WEEKEND!

Seriously, how cool is that?  Now, I can only hope that she went home, bought a copy, read it, thought it sounded like a fabulous idea, and pitched it to her producer friends.  I'm anxiously awaiting the phone call from Hollywood.

No, in reality, I do hope that she does decide to pick up a copy and that her minor endorsement (the picture above) leads to more sales.  That would be fan-freaking-tastic!

Meet An Author Tuesday

SB Knight has seen his poetry and short stories published in both books and magazines. Now, with the publishing of his first novel, he has achieved a goal and dream set many years ago. Currently, he has completed the sequel for Born of Blood and is currently working on another project.

SB Knight is the creator of ‘The New Author;’ a blog that started as a learning tool but has since grown into a community of friends and peers. He is also co-owner of Premium Promotional Services where authors can find the help they need to promote their book on the Internet.

When not writing or generating new story ideas, he can be found enjoying outdoor activities such as hiking and fishing. He resides in West Virginia with his wife and son.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I’m a vampire fan. Actually, I’m an everything that goes bump in the night fan. I enjoy the tales of old, the stories that chilled your blood and made you look over your shoulder while you moved closer to the light. I always wanted to write about vampires, but knew I needed something fresh and new for it to really capture my attention and the attention of readers. My future stories follow that line of thinking. I have an idea for a werewolf that is unique, but that is for another interview.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
It took me approximately two months to research the idea and make my notes. It took about four months to write the manuscript and edit it one time. I shelved it for about a month and then it took one more month to polish it before submission.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love watching the story unfold as the characters direct it. We, as authors, can plan all we want but some characters take control and the story runs where he/she wants it to go. It is fun watching the story move in that direction.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I don’t like the words – The End – because the story is over. Characters stay with you but the journey is done and it is time to move on. It is a bittersweet time.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
This is a tough one. I would say...Stephen King. It would be something special to walk in his shoes, think like he thinks...if only for a day. I can’t help but think that I could improve my writing from that experience.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
My wife pays close attention to expiration dates in the fridge, but one bottle of steak sauce made it by her inspection recently...it was about 3 months expired and no, we did not smell it. It went straight to the trashcan.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
The future is bright! Currently, I am editing Drago’s Revenge, the sequel to Born of Blood. My third novel, Demathia Rising, will be published next year and in the fall, I plan to begin writing the third and final book for The Blood Chronicles. I am always writing down ideas for more stories.


Twitter: @thenewauthor
MuseItUp Publishing

Movie Review Monday

Paul (2011)

This movie totally appealed to the geek in me.  I would love to go to Comic Con.  I bet it's fun and exciting.  I do have an issue with all the people there, though.  I don't know if I could handle that.  I'm sure if I wanted to go bad enough, I'd find a way.

Anyway, like I said, this movie appealed to the dork in me.  It was a spoof on sci fi films and their fans.  I can't tell you how many references there were to Star Wars and the Alien franchise, among others.Clive Gollings (Nick Frost's character) was even striving to become a famous novelist.  Man, I could relate on so many levels!

The movie wasn't knock-me-out-of-my-chair funny.  It did have some humorous parts, so it wasn't a total waste of time.  I was really impressed with the CGI of Paul.  He seemed so real.  It still amazes me what films are capable of doing in the special effects department.  It was a shame Paul was voiced by Seth Rogen.  I don't like him.  At least it was just his voice and I didn't have to look at him!

The film was fun, and I'm glad I watched it.  I would probably see it again just to pick up on all the sci fi references.  If you like sci fi, Simon Pegg, and Nick Frost, you will enjoy this movie.

Chronicle (2012)

I knew this movie was going to be bad the first time I saw the preview.  My spouse begged to differ with me, so we watched it.  Man, I enjoy being right!

The whole movie is told from the handheld camera perspective.  Andrew is a high school student who has a horrible family life (he's abused by his father) and is picked on at school by bullies.  For whatever reason, he decides to document his life.  The film is basically told from his camera.  Occasionally, it switches to other cameras that students are carrying cameras (Why?  I have no idea.)

I get why you would do that in a film.  It limits the perspective and makes the audience relate to one specific character.  However, I don't think it always works.  It limits the perspective.  The audience can only see the things the camera operator wants us to see.  Thank goodness Andrew took the camera everywhere with him.  He would even shoot himself right before bed.  Otherwise, the movie would have been lacking.

That's one of the problems I had with the film.  Really?  He's going to take the camera everywhere?  I guess I don't understand why he would do that.  I know he's emotionally disturbed, but why would he want that documented for the world to see?  I guess I've never been that messed up, so I don't get it.

The movie was supposed to be about three high school boys who get superpowers while running around in an underground cave and finding something weird.  The idea was great.  How many superhero movies start out like that?  The execution was terrible.  First of all, they were high school boys, and they acted like it.  They were immature and irritating.  Secondly, nothing happened!  Andrew spiraled down into turmoil and sought revenge.  He became the bad guy, and Matt had to take him down.

Normally, that would make for a great movie.  But it wasn't.  It was so slow and the focus was on Andrew (again, camera from his perspective).  I get that you're abused and fragile, I get your sensitive and angry.  SO DO SOMETHING!

I get that was probably the point of the film.  Instead of being like other superhero movies that focus on action, this one focused on the feeling and emotional side.  As I recall, I think Iron Man 2 did that, along with several others, but they weren't as painful to watch.  I don't know, maybe I wasn't the right age group or gender.  Perhaps if I was a young, nerdy boy it would have appealed to me.

This Week in Writing

Thanks to some advice from an editor, I've been revising Wucaii.  My passive voice has become screechy and unrelenting.  I have an overabundance of "She did this" and "She did that," so I'm going back through to fix it.  It's actually a really interesting exercise.  It forces me to look at the story and figure out ways to rewrite sentences to make them more active.  I can't take out all the "she's," but I'm fixing what I can.  I love it when I have direction!

As soon as I'm done with that, I plan on getting back to my middle grade book.  It should have had plenty of time to sit and think about what needs to be done.  I'm looking forward to getting back to that.

This week has not been a good week.  On Monday, my kitty, Alia, got out of the house.  The boys were playing in the garage, and while the door to the outside was closed, I left the door that leads into the house open so I could hear them.

The dogs were out and running around, and, normally, Alia stays out of their way.  It didn't stop her this time.  She got into the garage and waited.  When my spouse came home from work, she darted out.  I didn't realize she was missing until Tuesday morning.

This isn't the first time she's gotten out.  And for the first 9 months of her life, she was a stray.  She has street smarts.  However, we live fairly close to an open field, and I know there are fox in there.  I've seen them.  She's been aching to get out for a while.  The nice weather gives her Spring Fever.

As I said, she's gotten out before, but the longest she's been gone from our house was a night.  She comes back fairly quickly.  At lunch on Tuesday, I went to the back door to see if she was waiting.  No kitty.  I did the same thing when I came home after work.  Still no kitty.  The boys and I went walking around the neighborhood to see if we could find her.  No kitty.  By this point in time, I didn't expect her to come back.  I just knew she had made a fox family a lovely dinner.

Wednesday was a horrible day.  It snowed in the morning, then rained all day.  I figured if the wetness and cold wasn't going to bring her home, then she probably couldn't get home.  It was devastating.

On Wednesday morning when I got up, I checked the back yard.  No Alia.  Again, same thing at lunch and when I got home.  Still no sweet kitty.  It was really getting to me at this point, and the 3 year old was having a horrific day and being a butt head.  It was almost more than I could take.  Finally, the boys went to bed, and my spouse and I stayed up talking.  Right before I went to bed, I thought, "I'm going to check one more time."  I turned on the back light and moved the curtain, and there she was, staring back at me.

"Oh, my god!" I screeched and opened the door.  This, of course, got the dogs all excited, so they tried to lunge after her, which made Alia want to run.  Thankfully, we got the dogs corralled and my baby back in the house.

Immediately, she went for her food dish, then curled up next to me all night.  Since Alia is my familiar, I'm not myself unless she's around.  Things have been looking up since my kitty came home, and they can only get better.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

An oldie, but goodie.  Coming from Nowhere was the very first book I had published.  Some days, I despise this book.  When I look back at it, I see how unpolished and unrefined it is.  I cringe and hope I've made progress since this book.  Other days, I think, "Hey, it's not that bad."

Every author has to start somewhere, and this was my humble beginning.  If you get the chance, I'd love for you to read it and let me know what you think!

JD does not have a past--at least not one that she can remember--and that makes living life on Mars challenging.

With nowhere to go, she is sent to the local military academy where she is trained to become a member of the elite secret police. While there, she becomes a pawn in Roger’s struggle for military dominance and Chris’s rebellion to overthrow the military regime.

She supposedly holds a secret that will change the face of the soldier, but, unfortunately, she doesn’t know what that secret is. Her only desire is to find the truth of her existence, and finds herself thrust into a realm where the truth of her past and present is more horrific than she ever imagined.

Promotion is the Game

I have a guest blog here, which explains how I got into writing romance.

Since my first book was published, I've been trying to figure out ways to get my work into the public eye.  I want readers to read it.  The same has happened with every book that I've published afterward.  I send the book out for reviews, I have contests, I make key chains and fliers to hand out.

Still, I don't believe I'm getting my books the exposure they need.  I have limited scope and capabilities.  My lovely friend, Tamara, has sent me some articles and books about branding and making a presence for yourself.  I've only started reading one, so I'm not sure how helpful they are.  However, knowing Tamara, I'm sure they'll have some great advice.

The other option I've taken is hiring a PR company.  It's for my nonfiction book, which apparently is easier to market than fiction.  It makes sense.  There are bazillions of fiction books out there, but you can be an expert and narrow the field for a nonfiction book.  It's something I haven't tried before, so I'm going to see how it works.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it helps with the promotion game.  I think the other thing that would help would be having more time.  That's not going to happen for a while.  Until then, I'll have to make do with what I can do!

Meet An Author Tuesday

Descended from the same bloodline that spawned the likes of James Russell, Amy and Robert Lowell, Margay Leah Justice was fated to be a writer herself from a young age. But even before she knew that there was a name for what she was doing, she knew one thing: She had a deep and unconditional love for the written word. A love that would challenge her in times of need, abandon her in times of distress, and rediscover her in times of hope. Through her writing, Margay has learned to cope with every curve ball life has thrown her, including the challenges of single parenting, the harsh realities of living in a shelter, coping with the diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis, and the roller coaster ride of dealing with a child who suffers from bipolar disorder. But along the way, she has rediscovered the amazing power of words.

Margay currently lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, two cats, and a myriad of characters who vie for her attention and demand that their own stories be told.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
A combination of things: I was fueled by a book/movie I had enjoyed and these scenes kept running through my head but I didn't know what to do with them until I saw a call for a contest with a theme of wolves. But how to turn these scenes into a book? Well, then I read an article about the return of the gray wolves to Massachusetts after a 150-year absence and the legend of the wolves - and consequently, Sloane Wolf was born.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
Initially, probably about a month. The rewrite took longer!

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
When I'm first getting to know the story and the characters - it's like meeting somebody for the first time and learning all about them. I also love to research, so that's always fun.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Editing is tough.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Probably Audrey Hepburn. She was such a talent, but such a humanitarian, too.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
Oh, gosh, probably some spaghetti sauce that I need to toss.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
There's more to come in the story about the Sloanes, so watch for it!

My Links:

Buy Links:
MuseItUpPublishing: http://museituppublishing.com/bookstore2/index.php?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=242&category_id=107&option=com_virtuemart&Itemid=1&vmcchk=1&Itemid=1

Amazon.com: http://www.amazon.com/Sloane-Wolves-Destiny-Falls-ebook/dp/B006M4AGN4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1326586732&sr=1-1
Smahwords: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/116104

Movie Review Monday

Underworld: Awakening (2012)

I am a big fan of these movies.  I remember when the first one came out.  So refreshing and new.  Such a great story.  The effects are fabulous, the characters wonderfully drawn.  The actors are usually top notch and some of my favorites.

The thing that strikes me as so cool with these films is the fact that most of the time, the werewolves are guys in suits.  There is a lot of CGI, too, but that old school way of thinking with monster effects just rocks.  I love that they do that.  I'm not a purist, and I do enjoy the CGI, and the combination of the two makes for a highly entertaining film.

The storyline of this particular film was interesting.  Since the first two films, they've been playing up the love story between Selene and Michael and hinting at the possibility of a hybrid child.  Well, that child shows up in this film.  I liked how they developed the story.  I did have some problems with the relationship between Selene and her daughter, but it was easily overlooked.  As usual, it was full of fabulous fight scenes, cool creatures/characters, and explosions.  My type of movie.

It was pretty obvious Scott Speedman didn't want to be in this film.  They had to write around that, and I hope they can fix it for the next two or three movies they are planning.  I'm sure they are smart enough to fix that, and I'm interested to see where the story goes.

If you like vampires and werewolves, I definitely recommend these films.  You can enjoy this film without seeing the others, but I recommend watching them first.  It will make things a lot clearer.  I had forgotten some things, so I will go back and watch the first ones again.  I highly recommend this movie.

This Week in Writing

I finished a rough draft of my middle grade book.  It's been sitting and ruminating.  With a little luck, it's making itself better.  Wouldn't that be nice if stories edited themselves?  It would save me a lot of heartache.  I have no plans on getting back to it soon, but I will eventually.

I'm working on edits for my short story collection.  I was hoping to have them done by now, but this week has been crazy!  I'll finish them this weekend.  After that, I have edits to make to Wucaii.  An editor was kind enough to give me (unsolicited) suggestions on how to make it better.  That's my next project.  When I'm done with that, I'll go back to the middle grade book.

Since I've been editing this collection of short stories, I've come to the conclusion that I don't really like short stories.  I like to read them, but I'm not a huge fan of writing them.  They are a challenge, for sure, but I prefer working on longer stories.  Maybe some day I'll go back to them, but I think I'm going to stop writing them for a while.  I have so many other ideas that must get out of my head first!

Monday, I picked my boys up from the airport after being gone for a week in Arizona.  As can be expected, they were a little tired and a bit grumpy, but I didn't mind.  I was just happy to see them.  Both boys fell asleep in the car, but the 5 year old woke up right as we pulled into town.  The 3 year old had a harder time getting up.  I carried him into the house and laid him on the couch.

After taking a moment to help bring some stuff in and start unpacking, I sat on the rocking chair with my youngest.  It was nice to snuggle.  My boys are just like their father, and they constantly wear baseball caps.  By the time we were rocking, the 3 year old had taken his hat off.  He was getting off my lap to get something, and I noticed his hair looked different.  I furrowed my brow and stared at him.  Were those bald spots?

"What happened to your head?" I asked and pulled him back on my lap.  I examined his head, and, sure enough, they were bald spots with some scabs an the top of his skull.  "Honey!"  I called to my spouse.  "What happened to his head?"

My spouse came into the living room, chuckling.  "I wondered how long it would take you to notice.  It happened our first night in Arizona.  The boys were taking a shower, and he found a razor.  I heard him start screaming and crying, so I threw open the curtain and he had the razor in his hand and it was full of hair.  Just clogged.  He cut his head to.  I didn't tell you because I didn't want you to worry."

Like I wouldn't notice that!  I notice everything about my kids!  The cuts weren't overly bad, and the hair will grow back, but he will have some bald spots for a while.  I giggle about it now because I know he'll be all right.  I'm just thankful he DOES wear a hat most of the time.

Hope you have a fabulous weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

I am so very excited!  Last week, I found out that you can pre-order my nonfiction book!  It's a little pricey, but it's a hard back and well worth the read!  You can find copies at Amazon and the publishers site.  If neither one of those works for you, Google "Life Lessons from Slasher Films" and see the myriad of other places you can find it!  Whooooooop!

Here is the blurb:

Horror and slasher films are often dismissed for their apparent lack of sophistication and dearth of redeemable values. However, despite criticism from film snobs who turn up their noses and moralists who look down upon the genre, slasher films are more than just movies filled with gory mayhem. Such films can actually serve a purpose and offer their audiences something more than split skulls and severed heads.

In Life Lessons from Slasher Films, Jessica Robinson looks at representative works that have been scaring audiences for decades—from Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal shocker, Psycho, to the cult classic Black Christmas and iconic thrillers like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Scream. In this book, Robinson examines common themes that have emerged in these films, their various sequels, and countless imitators—a maniacal and seemingly indestructible executioner, sexual encounters that invariably lead to death, increasingly gruesome ways to slaughter helpless victims, and a lone female survivor who finds a way to vanquish the killer—and looks beyond such tropes for what these films can teach us about life.

From practical advice (listen to your elders) to moral platitudes (teens never learn), each chapter considers a different “lesson” that these films teach. Robinson discusses how the events portrayed in slasher films can resonate with viewers and perhaps offer constructive advice on how to conduct our lives. A fun read for fans and scholars alike, Life Lessons from Slasher Films offers an entertaining and persuasive look at how life can imitate art, and what art can say about life.

Meet an Author Wednesday

Joy Brooks is a Southern lady in love with the mystery and adventure associated with medieval warriors and royalty. She fills her spare time with reading, writing, cross-stitching, and playing with her seven cats. She enjoys the quiet life in a quaint, historic Georgia town.

You can find out more about her at her website or her blog.  Her stories include Fourth Son, Coming Home, and Christmas Wish.

21 Year old Grayson has been chosen to be the next Jewel and Master of the Green Stone. The stone imparts power to control the dragons – all the dragons. As Master of the Stone, Grayson will live for 7 centuries. Bonding with the Green Stone is a torturous and necessary process. Grayson fights to escape that bonding torment and he flees from the certain anguish of losing everyone and everything that he loves over the course of 700 years.

While Europe faces the ensuing Battle of Waterloo, Gabriel le Anderson travels to her brother's best friend's estate. Lord Marshall Hampton opens his home to her but Gabriel also wants his love. Gabrielle is determined to show him how she feels, but her time is shortened when Marshall is summoned to the war front. Will Gabrielle win the heart of the only man she has ever loved?
Katie Holston, raised in foster homes, wants nothing more than a family to call her own. She meets the man of her dreams in Ian Stokely. Being his five year old son’s teacher, she is in a position to make her dreams come true. Kyle Stokely confides in Katie his greatest wish for Christmas. He wants his widowed father to be happy again. Ian Stokely has a different view than Katie Holston and his son, Kyle. He wishes to be left alone. Can Katie and Kyle convince Ian to live life fully again?

Down in the Dumps

Meet An Author Tuesday will resume tomorrow.

Last week was a pretty tough week for me.  My spouse and kids went to Arizona for a week.  Since I didn't have enough vacation time, I stayed home and took care of the dogs.  They were out of sorts.  They don't like it when their pack leaves.  Riddick, the older dog, settled down the fastest.  He's been through this before.  Ryder, the puppy, had a really hard time.  He was so upset he was pulling up sod in the back yard.  Yeah, good times were had by all.

My schedule was really screwed up too.  I had some relaxing moments and got some work done, but I prefer my kiddos there.  No matter how much crying and yelling goes on, I still want them around.  It makes those happy times so much sweeter.  Needless to say, I didn't sleep very well.

When I don't sleep very well, I get really grumpy.  When I get grumpy, I start thinking about how big of a failure I am.  It's an incredibly vicious cycle.  I always pull out and move on, but I've come to the conclusion that something has to change.  I need to figure out some way to be happy with my writing.

I love the act of writing.  I love creating stories.  I love people reading and enjoying and reading my stories.  I've accomplished a lot, and I'm proud of what I've done.  However, my wish is that I could target a larger audience.  Eventually, I would like to make a living at writing, but the way things are going right now, it's not even a lucrative hobby.  The funds going out exceed what I have coming in.  That's very frustrating.  It makes me feel like I'm wasting my time.

Something needs to change so this is worth my time.  I don't need to make a lot from what I do, but I would like to break even.  I'm going to spend some time looking into other options.  If anyone has any great ideas, I'm listening.

Movie Review Monday

The Chronicles of Narnia:  The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

This was my favorite book out of the whole series.  I read it before my oldest was born, so over 5 years ago.  I don't remember a lot of the details, but I do remember I enjoyed it immensely.

The movie was great.  I thought they did a wonderful job casting Eustace.  He was such a pain in the butt, but, as usual, he comes around in the end.

The storyline was fun and exciting.  Adventure around every corner.  The computer-generated graphics were great.  The books were originally created for a middle grade audience, and I think they appeal very well for that.  The films could be all right for that age.  It all depends on how sensitive your kids are.  My kids, 3 and 5, watched it, and the only thing that scared the 5 year old was the humanish bulls (and they are the good guys!). 

Even though it is geared for a younger audience, it is still entertaining for adults.  The creature at the end is a little creepy, but not overly so.  If you enjoy action adventure and this series, I think you'll like this movie.  I definitely recommend it.

Since my family was gone this weekend, I had a lot of time on my hands.  Besides this movie, I watched some older films.  I watched Slither (2006) and Jason X (2001).  Both highly entertaining and fabulous films.  It was a very relaxing weekend!

This Week in Writing

I am on chapter 7 of the middle grade book.  I'm still undecided on how long it's going to be, but I think I'm getting close to the end.  Maybe 5-7 more chapters.  We'll have to see what the characters want to do.

I have some edits to do this weekend, both mine and other people's.  My weekend is wide open, so they should be taken care of fairly quickly.  Other than that, I have nothing going on.  I've been pretty lazy.

Normally, I have a story about my boys, but this whole week, they've been in Arizona visiting their great grandpa.  I would like to say it's been a relaxing time and I've gotten a lot done, but that would be a lie.  I still have to take care of the dogs, who are incredibly demanding, and I haven't been sleeping very well.  I'm not a big fan of my schedule getting messed up.

I will get quite a bit accomplished this weekend, but I prefer to have my kiddos and spouse here.  Just a few more days...

Hope the rest of you have a wonderful and productive weekend!

With A Little Help From My Friends

I had a wonderful evening with my friend last night (hi, Betty!).  We had some drinks (I had Sprite, she had wine), and shared a HUGE piece of chocolate cake.  We talked about my newest novel.  She's my beta reader, and she had some great suggestions and compliments for my story.  It made me feel better about the book, but it also raised some other questions (not a bad thing, just makes me look at the story in a different manner).

It's very important for an author to have beta readers.  We need an outside perspective for our stories.  We know exactly what's going on because we have the whole thing in our head.  However, if we can't get those ideas onto paper so the reader can understand them, we've failed.  Beta readers are another step in the revision process.

Sometimes, I don't think my readers know how important they really are.  They get to look at my project before anyone else does, which makes them privileged and cool (and they are!).  It's not easy finding beta readers.  You have to find someone who is willing to give you honest and helpful feedback, but they also have to do it in a timely fashion.  A person like that isn't always easy to find.  People say they'll read your story, but then they get side tracked or decide they don't like it but don't know how to tell you.  That's frustrating.  So, with my stable of current beta readers, I make sure I do all I can to ensure their happiness so I can keep them!

I try to send my story to at least two to three outside readers to get perspectives.  They all have their own tastes and ideas of what should happen in the story, and I appreciate the different backgrounds.  Of course, in the end, I have to decide if I'm going to take their suggestions or ignore them.  I balance that about fifty/fifty.  Still, I couldn't do it without them, and I'm very happy they like to help me out!

How Cool Is This?

My friend Jerrod Brown, who did the amazing cover for Life After the Undead and for Death to the Undead (forthcoming), does a lot of shows to sell/show off his artwork.  He had one last weekend, and he was kind enough to send me some pictures.  Now, my only hope is that those translate into some sales!

Meet An Author Tuesday

Anne Brooke’s fiction has been shortlisted for the Harry Bowling Novel Award, the Royal Literary Fund Awards, and the Asham Award for Women Writers. She has also twice been the winner of the national DSJT Charitable Trust Open Poetry Competition.

She is the author of six published novels, including her fantasy series, The Gathandrian Trilogy, published by Bluewood Publishing and featuring gay scribe Simon Hartstongue. More information on the trilogy is available at: http://www.gathandria.com/, and the first of these novels is The Gifting. In addition, her gay and literary short stories are regularly published by Riptide Publishing, Amber Allure Press, and Untreed Reads. Her most recent gay short story is Where You Hurt The Most, a tale of unexpected connections and possibilities published by Riptide. All her gay fiction can be found at: http://www.gayreads.co.uk/.

Anne has a secret passion for theatre and chocolate, preferably at the same time, and is currently working on a gay fantasy novella, The Taming of the Hawk. More information can be found at http://www.annebrooke.com/ and she regularly blogs at: http://annebrooke.blogspot.com/.

Q) What inspired you to write this story?
I wrote Where You Hurt The Most (Riptide Publishing 2012) in response to an anthology call they had about rentboys. The theme gelled with me as I’ve written about male hookers in the past, first in my psychological crime novel A Dangerous Man (Cheyenne Publishing/Bristlecone Pine Press 2010), and then in a literary gay short story called A Stranger’s Touch (Amber Allure Press 2010). People living on the edges of society and who either make their own rules or are responding to past traumas fascinate me, and I find myself drawn again and again to writing about such characters. As a writer of gay erotic fiction, the use of sex in the lives of male hookers is also an intense way of revealing key personality traits in the men I write about, and leads me into some very dark areas, as well as those more hopeful in tone. The blurb for Where You Hurt The Most is:

Adrian is more than happy as high-class escort for a number of regular clients. When his boss and dear friend asks him to entertain his nephew, Adrian readily agrees, but meeting Dan challenges him in ways he'd never imagined. Dan is scarred inside and out from an accident that destroyed a promising future. Despite Adrian's loveless lifestyle and Dan's withdrawal and anger, the two men forge a deep - if unnerving - connection. Soon they find themselves questioning the choices they've made and the futures they've mapped out for themselves.

Yet even bright young men like Adrian and Dan fear the unknown and take comfort in the familiar. Neither may be strong enough to step away from the life they know and toward the one they dare not hope for. But while it's true that love can't heal all wounds, it is the surest balm for where you hurt the most.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
It’s hard to say, to be honest, as I don’t write in one long flow, but tend to dip in and out of a story, depending on what else is going on around me – and, what with recently moving to a new home, it’s been a pretty busy few months! All in all, it took about two to three months this time, which is longer than my usual timings for short story writing, but it did allow me to follow through on certain aspects of the narrative before – and during! – the editing stage more fully.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love creating new worlds and characters, and seeing what they get up to and why – it’s one of the most exciting things I know, probably because I’m a “seat of my pants” writer and not a planner, so I never know what’s going to happen next and it’s a surprise to me too. In that way, I write simply in order to find out what the story is. In terms of what my favourite scenes are, I do always prefer to write sex and/or violence episodes and those do tend to be easier to get down in first draft – I’m just a drama queen, I suppose. Strangely, I also really love getting edits back and then getting stuck into a piece of work in order to improve it – that gives me a real kick.

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
I tend to find the middle of a story or a novel to be the hardest part to write – when the initial excitement of starting is behind me, and the end is rather too far away to make sense of. In those circumstances, I just have to get my head down and slog away until something makes sense – a big part of being a writer is having a huge amount of sheer determination to get you by …

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
Ooh, that’s easy. I’d love to be Ginger Rogers and dance all those wonderful traditional dances with the glorious Fred Astaire. I’ve always wanted to be as elegant and talented as she was, and all their old movies are great – you can’t beat them! Ah, those frocks …

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
This has to be one of our yoghurts. We buy a lot of yoghurt and I swear some of it gravitates to the back of the fridge and then lurks there for weeks and weeks before being discovered. It’s the smell that gives it away in the end, you know. Having said that, I do occasionally find bits of old lettuce that have escaped from the salad bag and are trying to dig their way to freedom. As you can see, I’m not the classiest of domestic goddesses.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
In June, Amber Allure will be publishing the fifth of my gay ménage Delaneys series, The Delaneys At Home. The second of my fantasy trilogy, Hallsfoot’s Battle, will be published this summer by Bluewood Publishing. Literary short story, The Gift of The Snow, will be published by Untreed Reads later this year, and I’m also working on a couple of stories, one for Riptide and one for Amber Allure.

Alongside this, I’m continuing to work on my gay fantasy novella, The Taming of The Hawk, so I think I should be kept fairly busy in the months ahead, that’s for sure!

For my fantasy fiction: http://www.gathandria.com/
Find my gay fiction here: http://www.gayreads.co.uk/
For my biblical fiction and poetry: http://www.biblicalfiction.co.uk/

Giveaway competition details:

The giveaway competition: the prize is THREE ebooks from my backlist if these questions about Where You Hurt The Most are answered correctly:

1. What was Dan's hoped-for career before the accident?

2. Where does Adrian take Dan on their second meeting?

3. What month is it when Max visits Adrian for the last time?

Answers should be sent to albrookeATmeDOTcom (and NOT left on the post), and winners will be notified as soon as possible after 18 May, when the tour ends. Good luck!

Movie Review Monday

Haywire (2011)

This movie had a lot of big names in it:  Tatum Channing, Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, Bill Paxton.  Then, it had Gina Carano, who used to be an Ultimate Fighter and American Gladiator.  I like all of those actors, and I think Gina is a kick-ass chick, but, sadly, the movie wasn't very good.

I would never mess with Gina in the octagon.  She would whoop my butt in about 2 seconds flat.  However, she isn't a very good actress.  I'm sure it will come to her in time, but it was almost painful to watch.  The same can be said about Tatum.  That man is hot, but he shouldn't open his mouth.  The scenes between the two of them were torture!

The movie is about a black ops soldier (Gina) who is betrayed.  As you can imagine, she wants revenge for those who wronged her.  The movie is my type of film:  there is a plot (albeit a cliche one) and the promise of lots of action.  Yet, the presentation was messed up.

The film started in medias res, and most of the action took place as a flashback.  I have no problem with that kind of setup, but the person Mallory (the character Gina plays) is telling the story to should have a larger role in the film.  It opened a lot of plot holes and made the film confusing.  First of all, if she's so good at what she does and goes on covert missions, why would she tell some random, 19 year old stranger about the people she killed and put him at risk?  Then, why would she tell him to tell other people and the police?  Like that's going to save her?  Like they are going to help her?  She still had to take the bad guys out on her own. 

That whole setup also skewed the notion of time.  Eventually, I think we moved from the past into the present, but I couldn't be sure.  It was so very confusing. 

There were also a lot of empty scenes in the movie, too.  By empty, I mean shots that don't further the plot of the film.  For example, there's this 5-10 minute chase scene that showed a lot of Mallory running.  I don't want to see her running.  Get to the point.  There were also some scenes of the special operatives cleaning guns.  They had a small conversation, but nothing of importance.  Why put that in?  Again, get to the point.

The film was only 1.5 hours long, and maybe it only made it to that mark with these empty scenes.  I don't know.  The soundtrack was also weird.  There wasn't a lot of music in the film, and most of the fight scenes were done with the "real" sounds of people hitting each other.  That's fine.  It lends itself to a more gritty, natural-type film...if you do it right.  Again, I'm not doubting Gina's fighting ability.  You can tell she's got some moves.  Still, the scenes seemed forced.

I suppose if you're really bored, a huge fan of any of the actors in it, and don't really have high expectations for a film, this movie would be all right.  Like I said, it's only 1.5 hours long, so only a fraction of your life would be wasted.

This Week in Writing

The winner of this week's giveaway is Laura.  I know where to find you, so I'll get your book to you.

I finished an edit and sent it in, then the author sent it back after making changes.  I need to take care of that soon.  It's short, so it shouldn't take me too long to do.  My family is visiting this weekend, though, so I doubt I'll get to it in the next few days.  It's all good.  I have all week next week.

I'm on chapter 5 of the middle grade book I'm working on.  I've been pretty chill about writing this manuscript.  It's pretty nice.  It's for my boys, so I hope they like it when I'm done.

Earlier this week, the dog had to go to the vet for a staph infection on his chin.  He has to take antibiotics three times a day for the next two weeks.  As you can imagine, we've gotten into a routine of pill taking.  Since he's picky about swallowing the pills, I wrap them in lunch meat.  He swallows that whole.

The kids really enjoy lunch meat too, so every time I give the dog some, they boys need some too.  (Kids and dogs, so easy to train.)  This morning, the boys were sitting at the table eating their turkey, and the 3 year old asks for a drink.

"What do you want?" I ask.

"Ummm, I want...I want..."  He hemmed and hawed for a little while.

His brother whispers to him, "Beer.  You want a beer."

I looked at him.  "You know better than that.  If you can't decide what you want, I'm just going to get you water."

"Yeah, water.  I want water."

As I'm walking to the fridge to get the water, the 5 year old says to the 3 year old, "Why don't you want beer?  Because it makes you fat?  You don't want to be fat?"

"No.  Me don't want to be fat."

Hope you have a great weekend!

Self-promotion Thursday

How about some zombiliciouness?  There's two anthology collections with my stories in them.  Check 'em out!

We all know many of our favourite Zombie flicks and books make their start in or around a hospital but they soon leave the confines of the medical building and start to lay waste to the world but what happens in those first few hours.
Now is the time to find out.

"CODE Z – An Undead Hospital Anthology" is a horror anthology with an undead theme it contains tales of life, horror, excitement and of course the undead. Each author shares with us a unique and new story.

What happened in those few precious hours before the plague of the dead left the hospital?
You can order Code Z here.
In a world where the dead walk...
In a world where the living struggle to survive...
In a world where Munchkins fight alongside flying monkeys...
Those are just some of the things you will find inside this mammoth book of zombie fiction by writers from Michigan to Malaysian, from Austin to Austria.
So, pull on your bibs and prepare to sink your teeth in.
There's plenty of brains for everyone!
You can get So Long... here.

Setting Limits

With the completion of revisions and edits to Wucaii, I have been involved in the most dreaded and loathsome task in the writing world:  querying agents.  Now, I'm not saying agents are dreadful and loathsome, I'm saying the process is.  I hate getting my letter ready and then attempting to find an agent.  Seriously, last week when I started, I had a small inward panic attack.  I looked through the list on agentquery.com probably four or fives times, if not more, before narrowing down the list of agents to send my query to.

Why do I put myself through this?  If it causes me so much stress, why do I even bother sending out queries at all?  Because it's the next step in my writing career.  It's a circular process of self doubt and striving for excellence that I go through to make it to the next level.  I think I'm doing all right where I'm at.  I have several publishers that are willing to put out my work and a great group of readers who are willing to read it.  But I can do better.  I want to do better.  In my mind, the next step to show that I've made it as a writer is to have an agent and to get published by a big agency.

However, I'm not a fool.  I know agencies hand out rejections like candy (sour, awful candy that no one wants, like Bit O' Honey and those black licorice taffies), but nothing is gained if you don't try.  Just because I'm a prolific writer doesn't mean I'm a good writer, and that becomes abundantly clear when I send out queries to agents.  I spiral into a world where I lose my self-confidence and wonder why I'm writing at all.

This round, though, I've decided to approach the whole process in a different light.  To keep from falling too far into depression, I'm limiting the amount of queries I send out.  Does that lower my chances at finding an agent?  Maybe.  But I've played the game before and I know how fierce the competition is.  I would love to have an agent, but if it's not in the cards right now, there's nothing I can do.  I'll continue to write and publish with small publishers and hope one day I'm cool enough to play with the big authors.

I digress.  As I said, I'm limiting the amount of queries I send out.  Normally, I'll throw a query at anyone with a pulse, which can wrack up hundreds of rejections.  That takes it toll.  And it's insane.  After a certain amount of "Nos," you can pretty much assume no one wants your book.  This time, I've sent out 27.  Kind of an odd number, for sure, but a reasonable one.  I tried to pick agents who I thought were the best fit for me and my work, and I can handle that amount of rejection.  After that, I'll send the manuscript to some of my publishers and hope for the best.

I hope by approaching the process in this way, it will help alleviate some stress and give me a different outlook.  I enjoy writing too much to let the process wear me down, and, trust me, it has before.  Wish me luck in my endeavors!

Seriously, leave a comment and wish me luck.  I'll put you in the drawing to win an autographed copy of Life After the Undead.

Meet An Author Tuesday

I have a guest blog up.  Check it out here.  In it, I talk about some things to do before signing a contract with a publisher.

Stories of the Paranormal
Thank you for having me as your guest today, Pembroke! About a year after I was first married, I was fast asleep one night, lost in dreams, when my husband suddenly shook my shoulder to wake me. I blinked in the darkness. What was going on? He climbed from the bed and quickly went into the other room. He returned a few minutes later and told me he had woken up and saw me standing beside the bed, not saying anything, just standing there. He called my name and the figure disappeared! That’s when he shook me. Imagine his surprise and confusion when he found me in bed. The apartment was empty when he searched it.

When my daughter was four years old, I woke up one night to see her standing by the bed. Only she was a grown woman and began screaming at me, shrill and hateful words, full of anger. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, and then the woman simply vanished. To this day I don’t like sleeping facing the door just in case the woman returns.

Can both instances be simple dreams? Perhaps, but my older sister tells the story of one night waking up when we were just kids to see a woman walking from bed to bed, looking down at the children sleeping. Then the woman vanished.

I’m left wondering why this woman is in my life. To me, the paranormal adds a spice of the unknown and thrill of danger to the mundane. I’m fascinated by psychic phenomenon. The thought of telekinesis and mind reading, the power of the mind over matter, fills my world with wonder. What if it is true? What if there are people whose visions are real and dreams foretell the future? It’s this feeling of amazing possibility I try to capture in my writing.

My paranormal thriller novel, ALEX, is the story of an unwilling psychic. I wanted to create a character who, by his very nature, could suspend disbelief for the duration of a novel.

With ALEX, I wondered what extreme circumstances could lead to his psychic ‘gift’. I decided it would have to start with his childhood. Alone and isolated, living with the anguish of an abusive parent, perhaps a person’s mind would expand, seeking escape from the sadness and loneliness of life. I believed his isolation would also make Alex hypersensitive to the people around him. He’d be empathetic to the point where he could sense and sometimes see the emotions of others. Their thoughts would leap to him in a wave of a sympathetic connection.

After ALEX, I wanted to write something lighter, but keep the same paranormal tone. That’s when I came up with the idea of a cemetery and two ghosts, THE TRIALS OF A LONELY SPECTER, where one of the ghosts isn’t really dead.

Then I wanted to write a fantasy, a genre I’ve only dabbled in but thought it would fit what I wanted to do. NATHANIEL is another story of a young man with psychic abilities. I wanted to put him in a fantasy book where his ‘gift’ would seem like magic to the people around him. They would fear him. Call him a witch and ultimately want to destroy him.

But of course, my stories always have to have a happy ending! So I gave Nathaniel a lover to stand by his side against his enemies, Taden is enchanted with the young magic user and falls in love with the vulnerable, beautiful man. In the end, Taden becomes Nathaniel’s hope.

As you can see, my love affair with the paranormal continues! I have several more stories in the works, including several sequels. Happy reading!

ALEX buy link:


The Trials of a Lonely Specter buy link:


Nathaniel buy link:


Feel free to contact me any time!

Dianne Hartsock


Dianne lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally owned gift shop. Which she says is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.