Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Shank Those Rejections

Everyone in this writing game goes through rejection. Almost no one has their future handed to them on a golden platter. When the rejections start to pile up, it can be hard to hold up your head, let alone keep the faith. There are times I feel like shrinking into a tiny ball. But that tiny ball has a core of steel. That's where I go to remember why I write.  

Not for money or publishing contracts.
Not to please other people or to fit into the mainstream.

For me. I write to please myself. I suspect most other writers would say the same. That's not to say we won't take suggestions or make changes to our work. But the reason we write is to satisfy something inside ourselves.

Hang on to that when things are dark. There's a ray of sunshine escaping no matter how dense the clouds. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Alys Cohen

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

A new friend, Alys Cohen, is here to give us today's lesson. She goes all the way back to high school (which is farther for some of us than others) to take a look at writing methods we were taught and why they might not work for everyone.

On untying our characters and listening when they speak to us 

 Take out a fresh sheet of notebook paper and a sharp #2. Loosely plot the main points next to capital letters. Beneath each of those, next to numbers, more detail. Beneath those, next to lower case letters, add more detail.

Who? You. 
What? Writing your first manuscript. 
When? Probably right now, or fairly recently. 
Where? I presume somewhere on earth. 
Why? That’s for you to decide. 
How? I’m going to guess using an outline and formulaic methods high school teachers insist are the only right ways to do anything. 

Therein lies the root of many problems. We are trained to plan the details that can’t always be planned. 

Since the dawn of time, or at least the modern educational system, how we write and how we think has been distilled down to a couple methods that all of us are expected to know, use, understand, and love. But there are several problems with forcing all writers, whether students or serious writers hoping to be published, to abide by one narrow method that has little room for creativity, a method taught as the only right way because it’s easier to correct with a red pen. I am going to address just one of these issues today. 

A few writers outline outline outline every tiny detail, and then run with that to write their actual manuscript. But far more often this stifles writers. I can’t even count how many people I personally know who have had wonderful ideas, but quit because they just couldn’t make their characters do what they outlined. Their outlines eventually crushed them. 

Our characters may be figments of our imagination, but they are no less real than a friend we can reach out and touch, especially when given the multiple dimensions (link to TJ’s guest post) human beings have. We feel for them, we hope for them, and we cry for them. They are alive.

So why do we try forcing them down a path set at the very beginning instead of going on the journey with them and making decisions as new challenges arise? Simple. Most of us were graded on our outlines in school. We default back to what we were taught as teenagers and start our hopeful-careers by continuing to listen to the teachers. 

Let go. Move on. Aim for something more than what will get you an A in a high school class. Your readers aren’t your teacher who will check your outline to make sure you did it the way that that teachers sees as the right way. 

Since our characters are real, we must let them speak. If you had planned for Jane to cringe as she’s walking on snow, but after a tender conversation with her new beau, Joe, the words that want to be typed are that she skipped through the snow, slipped, but he caught her in his arms and they shared a laugh, don’t force her to cringe and ruin the interlude. These unexpected moments add realism and depth to our characters. Sometimes the moments that want to happen aren’t so joyous. That’s all right too. If the time is right for two characters to part, or a character to die, then go with it, at least for a while. If it doesn’t work, you can always revert to your script. But those subconscious moments of inspiration are fleeting. 

Sometimes a character will want to disappear, even one who worked so well in your outline. Many of us have relatives like that, or maybe we are that relative. A family gathering comes around, and everyone but that one person wants to play charades. Forcing that person to participate only drags everyone down. Let that person go off on their own and everyone benefits. The same is true in writing. Chances are the characters you read in other works who just seem out of place and add nothing to the story were characters their authors wouldn’t remove. Little Johnny was in the outline, and outlines are made to be followed, right? 

J.K. Rowling tried forcing a cousin in the Weasley family. Mafalda was going to be a Slytherin and an intellectual foe to Hermione. Rowling, though not a beginner by this point, tried to force a character who just wasn’t working with the plot. Mafalda didn’t want to be there. Hundreds of pages into Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Rowling accepted that Mafalda just didn’t work. So much time and energy was lost in the initial writing, and then in rewriting from the start to remove this character. 

Chuck the overly rigid outlines. Use a loose one as little more than a vague plan of action or the general outline of a road trip. Allow for detours along the way and roll with the unexpected. So you didn’t expect to spend an extra half hour staring in awe at the world’s biggest ball of twine and now you won’t have time to see the world’s largest rubber band. Maybe a road ends you blocked off and your detour takes you to an old ghost town on the way to your next hotel. Enjoy the journey and appreciate those things you, or your characters, wouldn’t have experienced if you had insisted on sticking to an outline scheduling the fun down to the minute. Let them have fun and speak through you, and you may be just as surprised as your readers at what your characters have to say and teach you. 

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Fling Off the Filtering

It's been a bugger of a January. Temperatures below zero. Snow every day. A sick son, a sick husband, and now a sick dog. As I have to get groceries and visit the vet, I'm re-running a post on filtering I did as a guest spot. As any writers I beta can testify, filtering drives me nutty. I'm always trying to weed it out of my own writing and pointing it out to others.

Filtering is exactly what its name implies. It is running an observation through your point of view character instead of giving it straight to the reader. It’s pretty easy to spot but can be harder to remove. What happens is you’re having the character share the action with the reader instead of putting it directly before the reader. It’s like a stage direction that shouts ‘look here’. If you have words like ‘heard, saw, watched, looked, realized, knew, understood, seemed, and felt’ then you have filtering. Here’s a heavy example:

She heard the gunshot and dropped her book. It felt like her stomach twisted and dropped into a hole. She knew that her mom had taken matters into her own hands. Going to the window, she saw smoke rising from the rifle crimped against her mother’s shoulder, and she watched as dozens of blackbirds scattered from the cornfield. It seemed Mom had gone over the deep end. 

So what’s so bad about filtering? First off, it adds to your word count. Those words are unnecessary, and they won’t help your cause with agents. It makes the writing look sloppy instead of sharp and concise. 

Second, it’s like twirling your head in plastic wrap, or putting a swimsuit on your kid, covering him with a towel, and adding a parka to top it off before you go to the beach. You’re coating your writing in layers. Those words create a distance between the reader and your character. They filter and slow down the pace, adding a layer to separate readers from getting close to the action. Everything you write, unless you use third person omniscient, is coming through your point of view character. What filtering does is poke the reader in the eye and say ‘hey, don’t forget, my character is here’.

Most of the time, it isn’t necessary though there are exceptions. Rarely, there are times when you do want to draw attention to something such as the fact that your character is in a dark room so you focus on her hearing.

Here’s how it looks without the filtering:

The pop of a gunshot made her drop her book. Her stomach twisted as if it fell into a hole. Her mother had taken matters into her own hands. At the window, smoke rose from the rifle crimped against her mother’s shoulder while dozens of blackbirds scattered from the cornfield. Her mother had gone off the deep end. 

Try writing without filtering words and see how much more vivid and fast paced your writing becomes.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: TJ Loveless

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

My friend, TJ Loveless, is here this week to share her lesson. She claims she's not worthy of the title experienced writer, but she's too modest. You're the tops, TJ. You can find TJ on twitter, her blog or facebook.

Every writer has a story all their own. Whether it is beginners and their first steps, those somewhere in the middle, veterans published with their words out in the big, bad world.  All carry words of wisdom, something to learn, hope to accomplish our shared dream – our words out in the world, enjoyed by others and perhaps, some wisdom imparted.

I'm barely past the newbie stage.

A year ago the opportunity to dedicate myself to writing popped unexpectedly into my family's life. I'd been writing full length novels (60k+ words) for the last three years, but had no clue what to do next. Our move to Wyoming let me stay home and learn.

It's been twelve months, four seasons, three hundred and sixty five point two five days. During that time I've learned how to lessen passive writing, to spot scenes of such poetic visuals as to draw a tear to the eye – and cut those buggers from the manuscript.  I've learned to critique for others, to love red ink, try to write queries (Kryptonite, anyone?), and realize while my stories may be similar to others, they carry my unique signature.

But the biggest lesson I learned the hard way?  To have a sense of humor. To laugh at myself, the mistakes I made – and still make – and find the funny silver lining wherever possible.

Rejections hurt and cause gaping holes in our egos.  Every story has a piece of my heart, sprinkled with a little soul for spice. How can they not love it as I do? Rejections can make an author doubt their talents, abilities and imagination.

I'll use this example:  I'm currently writing an Urban Fantasy and gathering every critique possible as I go. In other words, I'm sending it out in rough draft.  I've gathered more than thirty, and I'm only halfway done. I read the pointers, and often end up laughing with tears.

Seriously?  I wrote the following line: “I hugged myself tightly, wrapping my arms around each other.” I'd turned the MC into a pretzel. Luckily, the agent who critiqued it thought the line worthy of four sentences of puns, sarcasm and a “I haven't laughed this hard in ages. Thank you.”  She knew I sent a rough draft, and quickly forgave me. Go ahead, laugh. I did. It is funny and worth a lot of comments. I don't mind – anymore. Before I might have thought about walking away, cursing my stupidity. 

We are human, we make mistakes. Although I'm thinking of applying for that superhero job.

Learn to laugh at your mistakes. An MS received a full request from an independent publisher.  After I ran around the room, squealing in glee, jumped up and down while trying to hug the Hubby, made a complete fool of myself, Hubby had to force me to send the MS. I sat there, deer in the headlights expression, wondering what on earth I'd gotten into this time. I quickly tapped an email, attached the MS and clicked on “Send” before I could change my mind.

Only to find out I'd left out pertinent information such as: My name. Contact information. Other info requested by the editor.  I was mortified.  Burned so red with embarrassment I gave myself a headache.  Kept thinking, What a bloody idiot! Great email, ya Spaz!  I sent the info, apologizing, but made a few remarks aimed in my direction.

I laughed after the second email. So did the editor - who talks to me on Twitter at least once a week.

I now have a great story for others, let them know they aren't alone in the stupid mistakes we all make. It's worth a laugh, and has helped quite a few relax. 

Moral of this rambling blog? Don't be so hard on yourself. Let the mistakes be a stepping stone, I doubt you'll do it again. Laugh, see the humor, make it fun.  And most of all, enjoy this journey. After all, it bears your indelible signature.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Check me out on Yesternight's Voyage

I'm a guest poster! I'm a guest poster!

I'm over on Joyce Alton's blog talking about the ten things I learned in 2012. It's a top ten list using proverbs to describe my year in writing. Joyce made my story look beautiful. Please head over and leave a comment. 

Song Lyric Inspiration and Snow Pictures

Robin braves the cold. Pippin is hiding inside.

We got a snow day today, no school for the kids and no work for me. With the temperature around four degrees and the wind chill where I don't want to think about numbers, we're inside with plenty of free time. Today you get a two-fer, pictures of snow for those who don't get any and something about what helps me write. I was considering inspiration and where mine comes from. For me, it comes from many places, but a big source is music.

My yard gnome has a new hat.
I keep quite a list of music in both CD form and on my mp3 player. My family hates that I play the same music over and over. It drives them nuts. But I need deep emotion to get my thought process flowing. So I tend to repeat the same songs, making additions every few months. All the music I choose has to be intense. The singer has to make me experience an intensity, a drive. The best source for that, for me, has always been Nickelback. Now I know that lots of people don't care for their songs, but it works for me.

I decided to list some lyric examples as the easiest way to talk about it. I'm probably going to want to hide after admitting all this, but here goes:

Against the grain should be a way of life, What's worth the price is worth the fight -- If Today Was Your Last Day  This is just a good song when querying is getting you down.

Nobody want to go it all alone, Nobody wants to be all alone, You can't give up, when you're looking for a diamond in the rough -- Gotta be Somebody Very cheesy, but this is my search for an agent song. Even after years of playing it, this one sticks with me.
My ornamental grass is buried.

Stealing comes with practice, Lying comes with ease, But neither one is faster than falling to your knees -- Kiss It Goodbye This one is more writing orientated. It's for a character that is a dark hero. A liar, a charmer, and a cheat, but a good man at heart. He is in my shelved manuscript. I'll be back for you someday, Jorge.

Can't see the silver lining down here on the floor -- Trying not to love you This one applies to my last mc, Little Bit. You've got to remember to bring your mc to a low point so they can show their stuff.

I'm the villain you're willing to save -- Holding on to Heaven  This one just completely sums up my favorite villain I've ever created. Some villains are over the top, they are the obvious bad guys or girls. From Kindar's Cure, this character was the opposite, the villain that is hidden in the shadows. Despite doing bad acts over and over, beta readers kept forgiving him. They can't seem to help themselves and neither can he.

I'd fight for you, I'd lie for you, Give my life for you-- I'd Come for You  And this last one, is for my character, Garrett. I'd call him my soft spot character. There is something about this guy I really love. He keeps trying to save his girl no matter what. And of course as she is the mc that can't happen. She can't be a Cinderella. She has to save herself.

No butterflies on this bush today.
I'd could go on and on with more lyrics, but I've embarrassed myself enough for one day. It's funny what can come to symbolize your writing.

So now I've shared my most sappy private stuff. Don't let me be the only one. Don't let this confession die an orphan as my husband would say.

Have a song that represents a character you love? Some lyrics that keep you sending out those query letters? Please share them in the comments.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Joyce (Clippership) Alton

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

I'm excited to kick this series off with the moderator of the Speculative Fiction Forum at AQC our leader, Joyce Alton. You might know her through her mod name of Clippership. Joyce blogs about speculative fiction at Yesternight's Voyage and you can find her on twitter.

Not All Ideas Are Strong Ideas

I’m a cautious person by nature. I’m not reckless, seldom spontaneous, and I like to do my research before sticking my neck out. So I had to sit and stew a bit about the topic of Lessons Learned the Hard Way. I’ve learned plenty over the years in regards to writing craft, dealing with others in the business, and I know I have lots more to learn. The thing is, it’s not as bad when you have that “duh!” moment alone than when someone else points it out or you’ve stuck your foot in your mouth publicly. Most of my learning moments are privately experienced, therefore, not so horrible to fix. One of the hardest realizations I had to come to terms with is that not all stories or ideas are worthy of publication or to put in front of others.

Like many of you, I began writing when I was very young. I was also an avid reader and I loved movies. You know how it goes: you read or see something and your imagination catches on fire. You’re thinking up your own spin on an idea, or meshing several unassociated ideas together. I filled notebooks and 3-ring binders with stories. I also kept several idea journals, an index card file, and a cross-referencing name and place file for every story. I drew some outrageously large maps. And I dreamed – a lot.

Years went by. One day I picked up my master list and read through the almost 200 completed and semi-completed story titles I had amassed. Life is finite. I had other dreams and goals aside from writing. Polishing and publishing that many stories? – um, probably not possible.

The list needed to be trimmed. You’d think that only the completed manuscripts would make the cut. Not so. When deeply analyzing and thinking about each story, I realized painfully, that some of these ideas filled a niche for me personally, but they weren’t for the public eye. I also had to consider the number of likely years a person gets and how long it takes to go through the writing and publishing process. Which ideas did I feel the most passionate about? Which ideas had beta readers loved most? Which ideas had more commercial appeal? The best characters? The most unique worlds?

I cut the list down to thirty-four. That was still being overly optimistic. Letting the other ideas slide into the back of my filing cabinet? – hard. I’d loved those ideas. Time, energy, and imagination went into each of them. Some of them were full drafts, others short summaries. The list is currently down to twenty-nine and I’m sure I still won’t get enough time to do those. I’ve had to prioritize, pulling up one of my strongest ideas to work on first.

I think there comes a time in every writer’s career where they have to face the fact that maybe it’s the story that is the problem. That maybe, it’s not strong enough for publication. Maybe it won’t have wide audience appeal. Maybe there’s not enough to it to make it stand out.

It’s been an eye-opener to research the publishing world. There are thousands of writers out there, each jostling to have their stories noticed. There are millions of rejections. Sometimes it’s because of subjectivity. Sometimes it’s because the story should be shelved. I’m not saying people should give up on their ideas, but there is a disillusionment that comes with being a writer. We grasp our stories with the fierceness of a pit bull and growl if anyone or anything points out the story’s weakness. We don’t want to hear or see that someone else thought of the same thing or something very similar. And certainly, everyone puts their own spin in their own fashion. As much as we hate to admit it, sometimes the difference isn’t that big.

Being a beta reader has helped me learn this as well. I can’t tell you how many stories and characters I’ve seen that sound too much like what someone else is doing, or which don’t stand out from what’s already been done. It’s not that the story’s execution was horrible or the writer has no talent. It’s the idea that is weak or underdeveloped. Sometimes a complete rewrite fixes the problem. Most of the time, it doesn’t. Not if the idea is weak.

I’ve had to face this myself. And since I’m a cautious person, I can promise you that I’m cutting the weaker ideas now before mentioning or showing them to anyone else. There’s nothing quite as humiliating and horrifying as having several people conk you over the head to break the disillusionment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Getting the Call: Kendra DiAngelo

Deciding to self publish can be a really big deal. More and more often, I'm hearing of authors having great success taking this route, especially in romance and sci-fy/fantasy genres. Kendra DiAngelo is one of those brave people, forging their way with the new technology. Thanks, for sharing your story, Kendra.

I had dreamed of being an author since I was in high school. I knew it was what I wanted to do. I’d been blogging and writing stories for as long as I could remember. English and Literature were my favorite classes in school. I was probably about 19 when I started writing my first real novel. I could picture it on the shelves at Barnes and Noble, see it eventually made into a movie.

I never finished it.

Honestly, that was probably a good thing. My writing has come a long way since then, and I keep doing what I can to make it better. 2008 was the Great Year of Suck for me. My grandfather passed away, I was laid off from my job (that I LOVED) and my mother fell and broke several ribs, all within the span of about 5 months. Not exactly the best time. Now I won’t lie, the first month or so of being unemployed was pretty nice. I’d started working straight out of high school at the local library and didn’t know what it was like to not have to go somewhere every day.

After those first few weeks, however, time started to drag. Just as I was getting desperate for some sort of project, a flash of inspiration hit, and I started visualizing scenes from “Prince of Light.” I started writing everything down as fast as I could. I had all day every day, after all. The story just poured out, one scene after another. When the final sentence was complete, I sat back and felt a great sense of pride. I’d never actually finished writing a book before. I was elated.

So I let one of the teens that I had known at the library read it, just to test the waters. She was an avid fantasy buff and checked books out constantly. Low and behold, she loved it! Next step was letting the teen librarian read it, since she did a regular “Book Talk” at the high school and middle school every month and would know whether or not it would appeal to teens. She loved it, too! Several edits and a couple of other readers later, I thought it was ready to start sending out.

Here’s where I show my lack of experience. I thought I didn’t really want an agent. (Go ahead and laugh. It’s okay.) That’s right, I discovered pretty quickly that the majority of publishers out there won’t even acknowledge you WITHOUT an agent. Go figure. Well, I still thought I knew better and researched every small press and publisher that took unsolicited manuscripts/queries. None of them accepted my work.

Looking back now, I can see that my query letter…well, sucked. Big time. I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to sell my book. I didn't have a hook or a dynamic description to make an agent want to read my story. I stumbled across the site and consequently found its sister site, There I found a plethora of fellow writers, several that just so happened to be in the same boat I was. I started lurking at first. Then I got brave and started interacting. Now I love it and visit there every day, if I can. I posted my query for them to rip to shreds and got excellent feedback, then started querying every agent that represented YA and fantasy that I could find. All of this was over the space of about a year and a half.

Not. One. Single. Request.

Does it end there? Nope! I was discouraged, but I still believed in my story. The more I continued to research self-publishing, the more I realized that it was no long a "dirty word." Big name authors were turning to self-publishing so they could have more control over their work. Unknown authors were being discovered. I finally made the decision that I could be one of them. By now I knew it was going to be a lot of work, but I was more prepared than I had ever been before. I got a professional opinion from my cousin-in-law, who is also a young adult author, and finalized the last aspects of the plot/edits. I asked a photographer friend of mine to snap a few photos for a cover (using my brother’s girlfriend as a model) and put those rusty graphic design skills that I’d been hiding to good use. Cover complete, edited to the best of my ability, and blurb as exciting as it could be, I let my work speak for itself, out in the vast interwebs of Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

Do I still want to be traditionally published? Oh yeah. I have a stand-alone novel that’s not a part of the “Prince of Light” series, and I would love to see it get represented by an agent. Am I happy that I chose self-publishing for this particular project? I really am. I had the final say in my story. The cover got to be exactly what I envisioned. I’ll get a higher royalty.

Self-publishing means more work on your end, but I believe that the rewards can still be the same as traditionally published. Ultimately, don’t let rejections or bad circumstances get you down. I probably could have worked at that library for the rest of my life, but if I hadn’t been laid off I would never have written “Prince of Light.” There wouldn't have been enough time. So keep your spirits high, fellow writers! Don’t be afraid to explore what fit is right for you, whatever venue that may be, and never give up. J

Prince of Light on Amazon
Prince of Light on Barnes and Noble
Blog/Web Site:

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Kick off of Lessons Learned the Hard Way

The Speculative Fiction group at AQC is having a giant blog hopping, guest posting, crazy month in January. In honor of it, I've decided to kick off a new series of posts about writing lessons learned along the journey. Lessons that are sort of like being poked in the eye by a pencil but in a good way because they help you grow and make your writing better.

I've invited friends to post their favorite lessons on a range of subjects whether it is querying, writing, editing, or promotion. You'll be seeing those in the weeks ahead.

But first, I kicked it off with a post of my own painful journey. It wouldn't be fair to have my friends recount their own mistakes and not admit my own. You can see my version on TJ Loveless' blog. Please come by and leave a comment so I don't feel lonely. Thank you TJ for that great introduction and for opening your blog to me.

Friday, January 11, 2013

New Release: Human No Longer

Please welcome back Kathryn Meyer Griffith with the story of her latest release. Seventeen books and counting. That's amazing, Kathryn. What's more amazing is this one she self-published. There are just so many opportunities to explore in publishing these days.

Human No Longer. It’s my 17th published book – yeah! – and my fourth vampire novel. First, let me tell you where I got the idea for it. About five years ago, I was still trying to please the agent (who I no longer have) who’d sold four of my earlier paperback novels to Zebra in the 1990’s and, because she didn’t seem to like any of my new potential concepts, I asked her what she would like to see. Out of nowhere, she said, “You know your 1991 Zebra vampire novel, Vampire Blood? I liked that one a lot. The characters. Well, how about writing me a sort of sequel with basically the same cast, but with this premise: A woman, a mother, after being turned into a bloodthirsty vampire, must learn to adapt to the human world and still be a good mother. You know, how would she deal with everything when she had children she loved; didn’t want to hurt or leave them…but still had the need to feed on blood? Still had all the urges and desires of a vampire?

Yikes. I hated the idea but, to please her, I went ahead and begrudgingly wrote the book. I tentatively called it The Vampire’s Children or the Vampire Mother or something like that. I finished it. Not too happy with it. I had never liked writing what other people wanted me to write. Stubborn, I guess.

My agent, in the meantime, had begun her own online erotic (which I don’t much care to write) publishing company and when I’d gotten done with the novel she was too busy to even read the finished book. She handed it off to an apprentice intern. An intern? What? Who didn’t like it at all. Duh. So, disgusted, I tucked the file away on my computer and, fed up with the whole agent thing, returned to writing what I wanted to write. An end of days novel called A Time of Demons and a new vampire novel where the evil vampire wasn’t a mother. In 2010 I went with a new publisher, Kim Richards at Damnation Books/Eternal Press, and she contracted not only those two books but asked me if I’d like to rewrite, update and rerelease all 7 of my older out-of-print Leisure and Zebra paperbacks going back to 1984. Heck yes, I said! So for the next 2 years I was busy doing that. Some of those books were over twenty-five years old and very outdated. Their rewriting, editing and rereleasing took a lot of work and time.

Then, in late 2012, I decided to take a very old book of mine (Predator) which was contracted to Zebra Paperbacks in 1993 but, in the end, never actually released, and just for the heck of it, as my 16th novel, self-publish it to Amazon Kindle Direct. Just in ebook form. A kind of grand experiment. The first time I’ve ever tried self-publishing. See how it’d sell. Dinosaur Lake. A story about a hungry mutant dinosaur loose in the waters of Crater Lake that goes on a rampage. Hey, I wrote Dinosaur Lake before Jurassic Park, the book, ever came out! Really. I had my cover artist, Dawne Dominique make a cover for it…and it was stunning with a dinosaur roaring on the front. And I did everything else myself. Editing. Proofing. Formatting. With forty years and endless publishers behind me I felt I was capable. And it’d been selling so well I decided to self-publish another one…and I remembered the mother/vampire book. Hmmm. So I revamped (ha, ha, inside joke), polished, and self-published it, as well. I retitled it Human No Longer. Got my fabulous cover artist, Dawne Dominique, to make me a lovely haunting cover with a troubled-looking woman standing outside a spooky house, with two children behind her in its shadows, on the front and voila! All in all, I don’t think the book turned out half bad. In fact, with the changes I made I think it’s not bad at all. Now I just hope my readers will like it.

So that’s the story of Human No Longer. My 17th published novel.

Human No Longer Blurb:

Jenny and Jeff Sanders on a summer night become the victims of a bizarre crime, leaving Jeff dead and Jenny in a coma. Their attackers aren’t caught.

She returns to her children and her life. With Jeff’s death his business and their income are also gone. Jenny, a novelist, hasn’t written a book in years, so she must move back to her childhood home in Summer Haven, Florida, where years before she and Jeff destroyed a sadistic family of vampires.

At least her brother, Joey, who owns a local diner, is there to help.

But Jenny has no appetite. She’s edgy. Her eyes hurt. Could be trauma from the attack. Grief. Until one night, after they’ve moved into the rundown family farmhouse, she can’t resist the night woods and going out to drink animals’ blood.

Gradually she accepts the truth. Her attackers were vampires. Now she’s becoming what she once hunted and fears she must either kill herself or run. She can’t abandon her children, but promises never to drink human blood; to find a way to live in the human world. It’s not easy. They renovate the farmhouse, which local gossip says is haunted. At night she hunts, and hides what she’s becoming from everyone. She fights to be a good mother and not let the bloodlust overpower her. Gets a job and attempts to fit in.

People, bodies emptied of blood, begin dying. Like years before. With her blackouts, she fears she may be the killer and confides in Joey. While a Detective, investigating her husband’s and his daughter’s murders, complicates things.

Jenny suspects it’s her attackers doing the slayings. They’ve found her and demand she join them–or her family will die. When she resists, her children are taken; to save them, she becomes part of the vampires’ killing spree. Becoming a monster like them…until she finds a way to outwit and ultimately destroy them.

In the end it takes supernatural intervention, a ghost, and the help of a childhood friend to set her, and the world, free from the vampires once and for all.

About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...
Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had seventeen (ten romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press and Amazon Kindle Direct.
I’ve been married to Russell for almost thirty-five years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.


My Websites: (to see all my book trailers with original music by my singer/songwriter brother JS Meyer) 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Contest Winners

The day is here and the numbers are chosen!

The winner of Grave Intentions by Lori Sjoberg is: Terri Bruce!

And the winner of either A Memory of Light or Eye of the World is: Angie S!

Congrats to the winners and I hope everyone enjoys.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Happy Release Day: Grave Intentions

This morning I woke to a pleasant surprise. My book preorder had arrived for my kindle, waiting to be read. I'm so happy to announce the release day for my friend Lori Sjoberg's, Grave Intentions. I had the privilege of reading a bit of this during an AQC Speculative fiction feedback marathon, and I know I'm in for a treat. Now here's your chance to share the treat from Lori herself:

Thanks so much, Michelle, for helping me celebrate the release of Grave Intentions! (And I'm so looking forward to celebrating the upcoming release of Kindar's Cure as well!) To mark the occasion, I'm giving away a free copy via amazon or B&N (winner's choice). All you have to do is leave a comment below about your favorite read of 2012. Good luck!

Edit: The contest will end on January 8th.

Grave Intentions:

He’s handsome, reliable, and punctual—the perfect gentleman when you want him to be. But this dream man is Death’s best agent—and now he’s got more than his soul to lose…

One act of mercy before dying was all it took to turn soldier David Anderson into a reaper—an immortal who guides souls-of-untimely-death into the afterlife. But the closer he gets to atoning for his mortal sin and finally escaping merciless Fate, the more he feels his own humanity slipping away for good. Until he encounters Sarah Griffith. This skeptical scientist can’t be influenced by his powers—even though she has an unsuspected talent for sensing the dead. And her honesty and irreverent sense of humor reignite his reason for living—and a passion he can’t afford to feel. Now Fate has summoned David to make a devastating last harvest. And he’ll break every hellishly-strict netherworld rule to save Sarah…and gamble on a choice even an immortal can’t win.


Death never took a holiday.

No, Death was the consummate workaholic, more steadfast and diligent than the U.S. Postal Service. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stayed the agents of Death from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.

Always the professional, Death never discriminated, taking young and old, weak and strong, healthy and infirm. It couldn’t be bought, or bullied, or reasoned with. Death had a mission and come Hell or high water, it would be accomplished.

For David Anderson, today was an easy day. As one of Death’s more seasoned agents, he’d been given the task of training the newest inductee in the tools of the trade. And with only two terminations on the day’s docket, it wouldn’t take too long to drink the memories away.

He looked down, checking his watch. Shit. Time to move. He gulped the last of his soda then crumpled the can and tossed it in the trashcan near the curb.

“Let’s roll,” he told Adam Javorski, his latest trainee. He gave a slight nod to the left before sliding on a pair of dark tinted sunglasses. “We’re due for our appointment.”

“Appointment?” Adam asked, looking confused. Then the light bulb went off in his head. “Oh. Yeah, right. Appointment.”

David’s gaze slanted over to his apprentice. The kid looked bright enough. Tall and rangy, with sharp brown eyes and distinctive Eastern European features, he had the look of a man always on the watch for trouble. Which made sense. He’d been a cop in his mortal life, fiercely dedicated to protecting and serving. Well, up until his last assignment, which is what led to his current situation.

“So when’s this going down?” Adam asked with a youthful exuberance, and David let out a mental groan.

Newbies. He couldn’t remember a time when he’d ever been that green. Stopping at the bustling intersection, he closed his eyes and focused inward, tuning out the sounds of early rush hour in downtown Orlando. “Not for another seven or eight minutes,” he said, homing in on the low-grade buzz pulsing through his veins. The vibration was barely distinguishable, but nevertheless, it was there.

“How do you know?”

“I can feel it.” When the light changed, they crossed over to Washington. The last thing David wanted was to be late so he picked up the pace, moving around a homeless man camped out on the sidewalk, a foul odor radiating from the overflowing shopping cart holding all of his worldly possessions.

Adam glanced over at him, a bewildered expression on his face. “You can feel death?”

“Of course.” Then he remembered mortals couldn’t feel death, couldn’t scent mortality like a bloodhound. He cursed under his breath. It had been so damn long since he’d drawn mortal breath he was beginning to forget the little things. Or was it more of a choice? He suspected it was the latter.

“How?” Adam asked, intrigued. “What does it feel like?”

The pair cut through the park, paying no attention to the cluster of small children squealing with glee as they tossed chunks of bread to a trio of greedy mallards. They were close now; David could feel it. The buzzing had intensified, growing stronger and more insistent as it rumbled inexorably toward its macabre crescendo.

Deciding they had enough time for a quick lesson, David came to an abrupt halt at the edge of the park and Adam quickly followed suit. “Close your eyes,” he ordered his trainee.


Patience was never one of David’s strong points. He gritted his teeth and counted to ten. “Just close your eyes, dammit, I’m trying to teach you something.”

Adam shot him a guarded look but complied without further question or comment.

“Now quiet your mind. Ignore everything but the sound of my voice.”

After a few moments, Adam said, “Okay.”

“Do you notice a low hum in the background?”

“I thought you said to ignore everything but the sound of your voice.”

David let out a low growl before clamping down on his temper. “I did,” he said, jaw clenched. “But now I’m telling you to listen for the hum. Can you hear it or feel it?”

Adam stayed silent for what seemed like forever. Then his expression shifted to one of near wonder. “I feel it! It’s kind of like a low electrical current, right?”

For the first time in days, David smiled. The kid might not be a lost cause after all. “Yes. Very good. That’s what you need to focus on. The stronger the sensation, the closer you are to the point of death.”

He paused to scan the area, making sure no one noticed. Of course, he had nothing to worry about. People were such creatures of habit, scurrying about their daily lives, oblivious to the forces working around them. Tourists snapped pictures in front of the fountain while locals hurried along the sidewalk, eager to reach their destinations. A bus eased up to the curb and opened its doors, letting passengers off while others waited to board.

Adam opened his eyes. “How’s this going down?” he asked, his eyes scouring the scenery, searching for any traces of imminent doom.

“I have no idea,” David replied, leaning back against a weathered oak. He watched the bus pull away from the curb, spewing out a cloud of noxious exhaust as it merged into traffic. Out of habit, he checked the time again. Less than a minute.

“What do you mean, you don’t know?” Adam’s brows crinkled. “I thought you knew what was going to happen.”

David shook his head and felt a trickle of sweat run past his temple. So much for fall in Florida. Late October, and the temperatures were still cranked above ninety. “Nope. The docket only gives a place and approximate time.” He watched while Adam’s face scrunched up in obvious confusion. He vaguely remembered giving his handler the same expression when he was new, so he decided to fill in the blanks. “Look, if you really want to know the exact details ahead of time, you can request it. But from my experience, you’re better off knowing as little as possible.”

As far as he was concerned, the less he knew, the less he had to purge from his mind afterward. Just how many times had he stared into the face of death? To be honest, he’d lost count. Maybe that was for the best, too. In his six decades of harvesting souls, he’d witnessed every act of savagery known to man. First, he’d been shocked. Then revolted. Eventually, he’d gone numb. Now he viewed the world through the jaded eyes of an ambivalent spectator, always watching from a comfortable distance.

The sound of tires screeching jerked him from his thoughts. Like countless times before, familiar events unfolded. Horns blared, tires screeched, and metal crunched against metal in a twisted symphony. Somewhere in the distance, a woman screamed. And then everything grew quiet, leaving only the smell of burnt rubber and the faint whimper of the dying. 

Time to get to work.

Lori's contact info is:
@Lori_Sjoberg (Twitter).