Monday, October 31, 2011

My Interview Is Now Up On Indie Books Blog!

Okay, it was up quite a while ago, but it was not up before I left for school -- and I can't blog at school, so I'm late posting this.
At any rate, go check it out here at Indie Books Blog.

Sunday, October 30, 2011


I've almost got the POD version of Half-Vampire ready to go, but, for some reason, Create Space won't accept my cover PDF.  Max is going to have a look at it and see if he can figure it out.
Once I can get the POD up and running, I'll get the swag (tee shirts, buttons, and bookmarks) ready to roll.
I've finished re-formatting All in the Half-Vampire Family, and now I can begin the final edits.  I hope to have this one out by next spring.
Our school librarian has all the pics and music for a trailer for Half-Vampire, but I haven't heard anything from him on the progress yet.....
And, I have lots of new and improved ideas for The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay!  I can't wait to start working on it again, but everything else has to be finished first!
Oh, and Indie Books should have a review of Half-Vampire up tomorrow!

Friday, October 28, 2011

Check Out My Author Interview At Surrounded By Books!

As she promised, Cherie Reich has posted about me again today, using an e-mail interview we did about a month ago.
Click here to read it and check out other fun stuff at her blog, Surrounded by Books.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Check Out My Review At Surrounded By Books!

Cherie Reich has posted a review of Half-Vampire on her blog.  Click here to check it out.

I'm so excited!  :D

Monday, October 24, 2011

What's Up With The Half-Vampire

Over the weekend, when I wasn't grading tests, I finished the formatting for the POD of Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire.  I also wrote up the AR test for it so our librarian can use the book for school contests (The AR test is available for other teachers, too.  Just click the "For Teachers" tab I added, and you'll see what to do if you want a quiz on the book.)
I also fixed up all the pics and chose the music for a book trailer.  Today, our librarian told me he could easily match up the music and the photos, and we'll get one of the drama students (I have a couple in mind) to do the voice overs.  So that's done.  (I promise I'll get it up on this blog as soon as it's handed over to me and I figure out how to post a video on the blog!)
I even began formatting All in the Half-Vampire Family so that I can (I hope) release it sometime early in 2012.
What's next?  Well, I'm just waiting for Max to have a chance to finish adjusting the sizes on the POD cover for me (of the first book, not the second), and then I can submit my PDFs for the POD.  Very soon, I hope to have real paperbacks available.  (I haven't heard back from Max yet, so I suspect he was off camping this weekend.  :) )

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Samhain: The Battle Of The Summer And Winter Kings

Yesterday's post gave you a taste of the Samhain celebration in Scotland.  Today I'd like to continue that ancient Halloween theme to put you in the mood for our own modern holiday -- and also to get you curious about my upcoming book, Becoming Brigid, which has a lot to do with ancient Celtic festivals.
No one knows exactly what happened at those ancient ceremonies, of course.  CNN wasn't there, and no one posted cellphone videos on YouTube.  In fact, when I attended Samhain in 2004, no one posted cellphone videos on YouTube, either -- and that was only 7 years ago!
However, we know Samhain was the new year festival, and we know it was a time for summer to end and winter to begin.  It is thought that this may have been portrayed in a ritual dance or skit that showed the transfer of power from summer to winter.  (As similar dances/ceremonies/acts of the Beltane ritual of the re-birth of the Green Man through the help of the May Queen have lasted for millennia, this is probably a fairly good guess.)
The modern Samhain festivals generally include the acting out of the Winter King "killing" the Summer King, who will, of course, be brought back to life again in the spring.  I use this idea heavily in Brigid.  (Curious?  Good. )

So, today, for your Halloween pleasure, I bring you photos of the Samhain parade in Edinburgh in 2004, with the two kings in their pre-battle state.

Here the Summer King is carried on his throne.

Here, he pulls grapes from his sporran and eats them.  Yup, this is supposed to be rather sexually suggestive.  Lugh, the Summer King, was a fertility god, after all.  (In real life, it wasn't particularly gross; he was having a good time with the crude humor, and the crowd laughed a lot.)

But all good things must end.  Here the Winter King waits solemnly, with his skull-headed staff of holly.  A bit creepy, isn't he?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Of Ghoulies And Ghosties And Long-Leggedy Beasties And Things That Go Bump In The Night...

I love Halloween.
And you might think that I've put it in my Half-Vampire novels, since it would seem so appropriate with vampires and Halloween.  But Eric isn't undead; he's got a genetic condition that makes him crave blood and have semi-translucent skin and nearly-clear retinas.  So neither Confessions of an Average Half-Vampire, nor its sequel, All in the Half-Vampire Family, contains much to do with Halloween. (Okay, the prologue to Half-Vampire does take place at a Halloween party, but it's far from scary.)
That, of course, does not stop me from putting Halloween into my other YA novels.  My WIP (very much on the back burner right now, since every moment of my spare time is spent formatting the POD version of Half-Vamp), The (Dis)Appearance of Nerissa MacKay, is set during the Halloween season and involves the coolest haunted house set up I could dream up (one I've never heard of before, so I'm going to be irritated if someone else comes up with this before I get the book published!).  And my waiting-for-the-final-revision WIP, Becoming Brigid, most definitely involves Halloween.  In fact, since Brigid is actually the Celtic goddess herself (but she doesn't know it), the original Halloween or the Celtic festival of Samhain plays a huge role in the story.  (Got you interested yet?  Good.  Maybe you'll all want to read Brigid once I can get it published.)
My first experience with Samhain happened when I was living in Scotland in 2004.  One of my programmates at the uni was a born-again pagan from New York, and she got me interested in the Beltane Fire Society and their festivals.  Because of her, I went to both the Samhain and Beltane festivals that year, and my earliest research for Brigid was begun.
So, to put you in a bit of a Samhain mood, to prepare for the end of the year when the veil between the living and the spirit worlds is at its thinnest, let me share with you a few pics I took once upon a Samhain on the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Here the drummers wait to begin the parade.

And what's a parade without horns?

And what's Scotland without a few kilts worn for special occasions?

A Samhain critter or two....

And a few ghosties.....

That's enough for this post.  I'll share a few more tomorrow.
Special thanks to Max, who scanned these old prints for me so I could share them digitally with you.
(Remember to click on the pics to see them full-sized.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Upcoming Reviews And Publicity Spots

Yes, indeed, I've been out peddling my book, and four wonderful bloggers (so far) have agreed to do posts on me.

Confessions Of An Average Half-Vampire will appear on Indie Books Blog on October 31.  (Vampires  on Halloween -- how appropriate!)

Surrounded by Book Reviews is featuring me twice (!): the book review on the 26th and an interview on the 28th.

The Flashlight Reader is hoping to get a review up for me by the end of November.

And Holly Hook at Bargain ebooks currently has me scheduled for review number 415 (she's at #353 as I type this).

In the meantime, go check out the other cool books on their blogs -- and sign up to follow them!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

I Just Got My First Reviews Up On Amazon UK, Library Thing, And Goodreads!!

Cherie Reich, over at surrounded by book reviews, agreed a few weeks ago to read and review Half-Vampire.  Saturday night, she posted her review of the book on both the US and UK amazon sites, at Library Thing, and on Goodreads.
On October 26, her review will show up on her blog, and two days later, she's posting an interview with me.
I'm so excited!  :D

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Judging Books By Their Covers

There's no doubt about it; a flashy outside can really change how even an ordinary product is sold.  Advertisers have known this for decades.  And book covers and/or dust jackets have been playing this ad game for the last century or so, too.
But sometimes we get fooled.  Sometimes the cover is far, far better than the book.
I was totally blown away by this cover, for example:

Isn't that gorgeous?  It's stunning.
But I wasn't at all drawn into the book.  After a few chapters, I tossed it aside, grateful I'd only gotten it from the library and hadn't spent money on it.
Also, the book labels itself as YA, but it isn't; it merely has a youngish protagonist.  The first few pages alone have so many sexual references in them that it ruins the book for school bookshelves.  Really, it's more appropriate for college-age beach reading.

In contrast, there's this book:

The cover's not really great.  It's not bad, but it's not fantastic.
But the book is totally and completely wonderful.  It's not labeled YA, but it's completely appropriate for young teens -- if you can get them past the cover.

As an indie author, I had to go through designing a book cover that I hoped worked well with the book, knowing very well that a lame cover would turn kids off, no matter what the book was like inside -- because kids especially DO judge a book by its cover.
What about you?  Have you ever mis-judged a book by its cover, either for good or for ill?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Half-Vampire Wordle

I love Wordles.   I've got my 9th-graders making them with Sherlock Holmes stories for extra credit this weekend, so I decided to post an old one I made about 3 years ago with Half-Vampire here for you to see.  
The idea of a Wordle is that you can immediately see which words are used the most in whatever piece of text you plug in and play with.  (It does delete words like "the" and "a" and "and" for you, though.)  I wasn't terribly surprised to find that "blood" was the most common word in my book.  After all, it's what's on Eric's mind the most.
Have you ever made a Wordle before?  If you're a writer, try one with the text of your own book or WIP (or poem or whatever).  It's kind of fun seeing your writing become a type of poster.  (If you post your wordle on your blog, be sure to leave a comment here with a link.)