An Excerpt from “Eternally Yours: Bloodlines” by Scerina Elizabeth

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This is not the first time this author has appeared on Writing to be Read as a part of a book tour. At the end of July I had the pleasure of interviewing Scerina Elizabeth as a part of her tour for Nocturnia and Spellbound. Today’s post is a part of the Full Moon Bites book blog tour for her most recent releases, Eternally Yours and Fangalicious Divas, with an excerpt from Ms. Elizabeth’s erotica vampire romance novel, Eternally Yours: Bloodlines. The content may be adult in nature, so this post is for those eighteen and over only.

Unlike my book reviews, where I tell you what I think and rate the work for you, an excerpt speaks for itself and lets the readers decide. So, without further ado…

We all looked at each other, waiting for either Chloe or William to explain it all. It was Chloe who started.

“We had been working for your grandmother for over ten years. I was her housekeeper while William was the groundskeeper. We were the ones who managed the estate when your grandmother fell ill and was unable to handle things on her own. She was a beautiful woman who was the sweetest thing and very generous. She allowed us to live on the estate just above the horse stables. When she was in the last stages of her illness, she told us all about you and your whereabouts. She also told us about your dark family secret which she instructed us to tell you about once you arrived.”

She continued, “Your dark family secret is something you would not believe so for you to truly believe and understand, we must show you.” As she said that, she got up and waited for us by the door that led down to the cellar.

We all followed her down to the cellar where she stood in front of a steel sliding door that was padlocked and chained where she asked me for the keys. Expertly she rifled through the keys to the right one, unlocked the padlock and pulled the chain from the doors. She tossed the chains to the side and stuck the padlock in her pocket. Both she and William pulled the heavy sliding door open. There in front of us was another set of stairs made of stone that looked much older than the house itself. She lit a torch on the wall. Once there was light and we could see better into the stairwell, it looked like something that you would find back in medieval times, like an old dungeon or something. The smell was stale and musty. You could tell no one had been down here in years. She led us down to the lower level of the cellar where at the bottom of the stairs was another heavy, steel, sliding door – chained and padlocked like the one upstairs. She opened the door as she had done before, she knew exactly what she was doing which washed away any doubt I may have had of her. She seemed to know her way around this house and knew much about my family.

The inner room lit up as soon as the doors opened. It looked like a mausoleum, very sterile and white with hints of gold and silver here and there. In the heart of the room, were three white marble slabs and on top of each slab was a coffin.

The one in the middle was an enormous gold coffin with a massive silver crucifix was inlaid with rubies and diamonds in the center of it. Along the sides were more precious gems and it had detailed artwork covering it. It was gorgeous.

The two smaller coffins were bronze with smaller gold crucifixes covered in emeralds and diamonds on them. Just like the center coffin, the two smaller ones had gorgeous detailed artwork.

At the very front of the room in the center, were two silver columns that looked like a doorway. I figured it was mere decorations since two silver columns were not only covered in detailed artwork but more precious gems and diamonds. Not paying much attention and figuring it was just a decoration, I continued to take in the room. It was a family mausoleum clearly and I could understand in a sense why the dark family secret would be kept down here but what I still didn’t understand was – what was it? I was just about to find out because William began to speak.

“What lies in these coffins is your family’s dark secret. From generation to generation your family has watched over and protected the contents of these three coffins. In the center lies your great-great-grandfather Jacob LaBau and in the two smaller coffins lies your great-grandaunts Latrelle & Charlamaine LaBau.

Now what am about to tell you, you will have trouble believing and you might want to have a seat for this next part.” He gestured towards a marble bench on the side of the room and we did as he said.

Scerina Elizabeth

 

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Book Marketing – What Works? (Part 1): Interview with fantasy author Cynthia Vespia

Vespia Books

Frequently I rant about the time I have to spend marketing and promoting my writing instead of actually writing. It’s no secret that marketing is not my favorite author hat to wear, and I know a lot of other authors who feel exactly the same way. But the fact is, in today’s writing industry, the author must carry most, if not all, of the load when it comes to promoting their work and marketing their masterpieces.

Now, I’m a struggling author, just as many of you are, so I don’t have a big marketing budget and I can’t afford to hire someone to do my marketing for me. My promotions are limited mainly to social media marketing, usually the kind that’s free. Even when I have a little money to put into marketing, I don’t really know what avenues would be effective enough to be worth it.

A lot of the information about book marketing that is out there on the Internet today is geared toward marketing your non-fiction book, whether it be self-help, or how-to, or even a cookbook. These articles tell you how to show potential readers why they need your book, how your book can help them, which is great, except most of their strategies do not apply to marketing fiction.

As a result of this discovery, I’ve been doing some research of my own into the matter, but I’ve found that the effectiveness of any marketing strategy depends on many factors, and results vary from author to author.  In this eight part series, we’ll take a look at my findings and interview seven different authors to learn what they’ve found to be effective in marketing their own work. All work and no play makes us all very dull writers, so we’ll get to know a little about each one of them and their books just for fun.

It’s my pleasure today to interview speculative fiction author, Cynthia Vespia. I have review several of her books, including her Demon Hunter saga: The Chosen One & Seek and Destroy and Hero’s Call, Lucky Sevens, and Life, Death and Back. In addition to her great storytelling, Cynthia is also a talented cover artist, designing most of her own covers, as well as working freelance.

Kaye: Would you share the story of your own publishing journey?

Cynthia: Once upon a time I was a young mind hungry for books. I’d read Piers Anthony; C.S. Lewis; and comic books (my favorite being The Punisher). Then one day I stumbled upon a book by Dean Koontz called Intensity. To make a long story short it got me hooked and I knew then I wanted to write. My first novel, The Crescent, was written after seeing a documentary about female gladiators narrated by Lucy Lawless. I self-published it back when self-publishing wasn’t cool. It was fun to see my book in print. Flash forward to today and that same story is in pre-production as a feature film.

Along the road I’ve written several more books and short stories, each of which I’m very proud of. I received a Best Series nomination in 2009 for Demon Hunter.

Kaye: What made you decide to go with self-publishing?

Cynthia: I was published by small publishing houses but I never really saw any benefit when I could do the same things they were doing and they weren’t even really promoting me much. So much like a lot of other authors I’ve gone the indie route.

Kaye: As a fantasy writer, what kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories?

Cynthia: Honestly, the majority of my work is completely created in my head. Recently the type of research I’ve been doing is for superpowers, modeling, and locations for the Silke Butters Superhero Series. And for my upcoming apocalypse trilogy there was a lot of research regarding weapons and safe-houses.

Kaye: What’s the most fun part of writing a novel or short story/screenplay? What’s the least fun part?

Cynthia: The most fun part of writing for me is in the initial creation of the characters and their backstory. It’s like a sculptor molding clay. You breathe life into your subjects.

The least fun part is in the aftermath which is marketing and promotion. It’s so difficult to posture yourself out in front of a very large crowd of other writers all clamoring for attention.

Kaye: What is the strangest inspiration for a story you’ve ever had?

Cynthia: Probably Sins and Virtues. I was at Alcatraz in SF and I went inside one of the prison cells for a photo. Afterwards, I felt a heavy cloak of energy from what I could only feel was a former prisoner’s spirit.

While writing Sins and Virtues I started to see visions of prison escapes that I had no business knowing about. If you read the first chapter you’ll get a taste of what I mean. That feeling stayed with me throughout the entire novel. It only left when I was done writing.

Kaye: What’s the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Cynthia: I’ve heard quite a bit of good advice over the years. I seek it out, and write it down in my journal. Lately, I’ve been falling back on one from Arnold Schwarzenegger where he said “earn it so nobody can say they gave you shit.”

Kaye: What do you see as the pros and cons of independent/traditional publishing?

Cynthia: Sadly, the pros and cons are one in the same in that everyone can publish a book. There’s a lot of good work being published that would probably never see the light of day due to the politics of traditional publishing, but at the same time I’ve seen a lot of awful books out there too.

The other things I’ve been noticing is that it’s no longer about the writing. It’s become a numbers game. How many FB followers or Twitter followers do you have? How many likes did you get? How many reviews did the novel receive? How large is your fan base?

I struggle with that because I don’t have the time to spend all day on social media when I have other things that take up my time like earning a living. There’s people now who are even cheating the system with paid “likes” etc. to bump themselves up into the top spot. To me, that’s not what writing should be about. It’s about the story, not how much attention you can get for yourself. Sorry if I’m coming off very negative but I’ve been doing this for a very long time and the business model has changed so much now that I hardly recognize why I started writing in the first place.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?

Cynthia: I always do my own cover art. That is one of the beauties of going indie, you can have complete control over your cover. Although, I do have to point out that the comic book look of the Karma character in my Silke Butters series was done by an artist named Ka Rolding, whom you can find on Deviantart.

I also create covers for other authors too, so if you’re in need of a custom cover please look me up at http://www.cyncreativeservices.com/authorstudio

Kaye: What’s your favorite social media site for promotion? Why?

Cynthia: None…lol. I’d rather do a face-to-face event than spend time on social media promoting. But if I have to choose I like Twitter because it makes you think and be clever with your 140 characters. BTW, you’re all using hashtags wrong!

Kaye: How much non-writing work, (marketing & promotion, illustrations & book covers, etc…), do you do yourself for your books?

Cynthia: All of it! I’m a one woman show. It’s honestly extremely exhausting. Like I said, I just don’t have the time needed to put in to make a dent. I even bit the bullet and hired a couple people this year and it still didn’t make a difference. But I’m trying every day. That’s all you can do is try, right?

Kaye: You participate in book events on social media often. How effective do you see Facebook release parties and cover reveals, etc… being?

Cynthia: It depends on the crowd and your time slot. I’ve had some that were very active (including my launch party for Karma) and then others where nobody interacted at all, or not until later on. I find them effective for exposure. I’ve actually gained quite a few new FB friends from events so I’ll continue to do them. But I will suggest going in with a game plan and do some interactive posts, don’t just ramble on about how your book is for sale.

Kaye: What works best to sell books for you, as far as marketing goes?

Cynthia: For me, I like face-to-face conventions. Because of the genre I write in I can easily blend into comic cons. I liken it to an actor doing a stage play over doing a movie. In that regard, they get immediate audience reaction when they are doing a play, rather than waiting for box office receipts from a movie. The same can be said about conventions. I get an immediate reaction from readers (some have even come back the next day to compliment my work) where as stuff online I don’t really see what is working and what isn’t. Also, during conventions I keep a tally on how many books are selling and my 2009 Best Series nominee Demon Hunter is still the biggest seller.

Kaye: Why do you think some authors sell well and others don’t?

Cynthia: Again, it’s all who you know. And a lot of that comes from great networking. There’s something to be said for word-of-mouth. I also believe some genres sell better than others, that’s just the way it goes.

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Cynthia: J.K. Rowling or George RR Martin. I’m fascinated by the amount of detail they’ve both put into their respective worlds of Harry Potter and Game of Thrones.

Kaye: What kind of Chinese food do you order all the time?

Cynthia: I don’t always eat Chinese food but when I do I prefer orange chicken and lo mein.

I want to thank Cynthia Vespia for joining us and for sharing her marketing strategies with us. If you’d like to learn more about Cynthia, check out her author profile, here on Writing to be Read, or check out her website.

Be sure to catch Writing to be Read next Monday, for Part 2 of Book Marketing – What Works?, where I will interview the co-authors of the Silverville Saga books and Wild West Ghosts, Mark Todd and Kym O’Connell Todd, who will share their experiences in marketing and clue us in to which ones have been most effective.

 

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Interview with Author Kasi Blake

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I’m pleased to welcome speculative fiction author Kasi Blake to Writing to be Read today. Kasi likes to write about vampires and werewolves and witches, oh my! I invited Kasi to join us today because she’s doing something different with her 4-Ever Hunted series, which encourages reader participation. I thought was kind of clever, and I asked her to share her creative marketing idea with us. But first, lets learn a little about Kasi and her books.

Kaye: When did you know you wanted to be an author?

Kasi: When I was 12. I read The Outsiders in class and then started a short story. It slowly progressed from there.

Kaye: You have three series out. Would you like to tell us a little about each one?

Kasi: The Rule series is basically a YA Urban Fantasy series about a vampire boy who goes legit. Meaning, he turns mortal through a freak event and loses the fangs. This is great for Jack, because he hated being a vampire. He just wants to be normal, but then he falls for a werewolf hunter and discovers his true destiny.

Witch Games

The Witch-Game books are about teen girls with powers. They use them to play games at school beginning with one called Crushed. They enchant boys and compel them to do their bidding. Witch Hunt is more like hide-n-seek for witches. They both have romance and a bit of mystery.

Bait

Bait starts off the Order of the Spirit Realm series. The titles are a little strange here: Bait, Hunter, Warrior, Legend. These are the ranks the students at Van Helsing’s school receive as they work their way up the hunting ladder. Bay-Lee is his daughter, but she doesn’t get special treatment. In fact, the gorgeous hunter assigned to be her mentor hates her on sight. This series is set in New Zealand and has all the action, sweet romance, and monsters you could possibly hope for.

4-Ever Hunted

Kaye: In 4-Ever Hunted, you’re offering your readers a say in how the series turns out. This is a cool and unique thing to do in your writing. Would you like to tell us how that works?

Kasi: After you read 4-Ever Hunted, there is a link at the end explaining that you can choose Dani or Scarlet as his love interest. Read the book and at the end, there is a link to click on, which takes you to my 4-Ever Hunted Facebook page, where you can vote for the girl you’d like to see him end up with at the end of the series. This book is free with Kindle Unlimited, so no purchase is necessary to vote, but you do need to read the story.

Also, feel free to post and try to sway people to your side in the comments. You can change your vote until voting closes after I begin to write book three. Majority rules. I like both girls, so I know how to make either relationship work, depending on who is picked. Trick will wind up falling in love with and sharing a romance (not to mention action-packed adventure) in book three and four.  Think of it as team Edward or team Jacob, with the readers in control. It’s all up to you, the readers.

LegendKaye: Legend is your most recent release. Would you like to tell us a little about that?

Kasi: Legend is the final book in the Order of the Spirit Realm series and wraps up life at Van Helsing’s school for Bay-Lee, Nick, Mike, and the rest of the young hunters. Monsters from the other realm have found a way to blow the doorway between them wide open. It’s all-out war. Who will win? Who will survive?

 

Kaye: What are you working on now? What can we expect in the future from Kasi Blake?

Kasi: I am currently writing 4-Ever Cursed, book two in the 4-Ever Hunted series. I plan to do all four books in a row, if possible. Then, I have an exciting fairy tale series like none other coming your way. Cursed by a Grimm is a dark fairy tale about a fading faerie realm, the wicked Ivory Queen who will do anything to stay in power, and a strange creature hiding in the shadows. The Grimm will either help Shayne save the realm and find true love. Or he will lead her down the wrong path and destroy everything.

Kaye: How do you decide the titles for your books? Where does the title come in the process for you?

Kasi: The titles come from the books themselves. I usually don’t name them until the book is either done or the entire outline is at least finished. Vampires Rule is something Cowboy says to Jack all the time. He loves being a vampire; Jack loathes it. Then it goes from there. Werewolves Rule and so on. Crushed and Witch Hunt are named after the games the witches play. Bait, as I already said, was named after the ranks the hunters get.

4-Ever Hunted is unusual because it comes from the fact that Cowboy and Summer want a fourth for their group. Cowboy is obsessed with having four members. They make the mistake of setting their sights on a hunter though. The question is, will Trick become the thing he hates most in order to save his own life?

Kaye: Are you a plotter or a pantser? Why?

Kasi: Plotter. I feel like I need a map so I know where I’ll end up. I don’t understand pantsers. I would get lost without my map. Although, the outline does change several times during the process as I write. I leave room for character growth. Sometimes they do things that surprise me and turn my outline upside-down.

Kaye: You write about vampires and werewolves and shape shifters. What kind of research do you find yourself doing for your stories? 

Kasi: I only research creatures that are new to me. Most of the mythology I make up so that it will be new and fresh like how vampires and werewolves were created by a faerie.

Kaye: What do you do for cover art? DIY, or hired out, or cookie cutter prefab?

Kasi: I started off doing them on my own, and they were not that great. Crushed and Witch Hunt were published by Clean Teen Publishing, so the covers were created by the awesome Marya Heidel. The Bait series and the vampire series were done by a woman just starting out in the business. I don’t even think she does it anymore. The awesome 4-Ever Hunted books are all by a great artist I found on Fiverr. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember her name, but she is listed at the front of the book as the designer.

Kaye: You have a blog, Supernatural Slant. How did that start?

Kasi: They say all authors need a blog, so this started off as a blog about writing, but I am obsessed with the show Supernatural. So, it went off more in that direction. I still blog about my books, sometimes books I like, but the blog is about Supernatural, the show, and shows like it now more than anything else.

Kaye: What time of day do you prefer to do your writing?

Kasi: I like to write late at night and early in the morning because there are no distractions then. I’m not getting phone calls, and people aren’t asking me to do favors for them or help them out or just wanting to talk. Plus, it is so peaceful when others are asleep.

Kaye: Besides writing, what are your favorite things to do?

Kasi: Reading, shopping, hanging with friends, and I love all my animals. I live on a farm, so taking care of them and watching them do silly things is always entertaining.

Kaye: Which author, dead or alive, would you love to have lunch with?

Kasi: I guess I would have to say JK Rowling, because I really want to know what it feels like to have your world made not only in movies but also in a theme park. I’d never want to go home.

Vampires RuleKaye: My final question is one you may get asked a lot because of your Rule series, but you had to know it was coming. Who does actually rule, vampires or werewolves?

Kasi: I go back and forth on this. Sometimes I like vampires better, and sometimes I prefer werewolves. It depends on which character I’m writing at the time.

I want to thank Kasi Blake for joining us today, sharing about her books and letting us get to know her. If you want to know more about Kasi or her books, you can check out her website, or her author page on either Amazon or Goodreads.

 

Next week there won’t be a Monday post because I’m being interviewed on Authors Talk About It and I’ll be promoting that. Then, on Monday, September 4th, we’ll be treated to an excerpt form author Scerina Elizabeth, before delving into my seven part series Book Marketing – What Works? on Monday September 11th. So don’t miss it, on Writing to be Read.

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There’s No Escaping Hell For “Hell’s Butcher”

Hells Butcher Series

I had the pleasure of reading the Hell’s Butcher series by Chris Barili, Hell’s Marshal and Hell’s Butcher. This series is refreshingly different, a combination of western, speculative fiction and super hero, and somehow, it all works.

Frank Butcher has been appointed Hell’s Marshal, sent back to the land of the living on the trail of killers escaped from hell, bent on wrecking havoc and changing history to aide in the rise of the south. In Hell’s Marshal, Frank and his posse of walking dad and their coyote guide are after the renegade soul of Jesse James before he can revive the confederacy and rise up once more against the union.

They travel on a stage pulled by hell’s steeds, which never tire and move at incredible speeds, and they carry weapons with the power to send souls back to hell, where they belong. But, it isn’t easy to pursue their prey in bodies that have been dead a long time, causing extra difficulties to the chase. The coach is driven by a mortal man with special gifts and they’re joined by an orphan boy with the power to see souls raised from the fiery pit.

In Hell’s Butcher, John Wilkes Booth is the renegade soul, back to build an army to finish the government takeover, the conspiracy around the assassination failed to complete, and Frank and his posse must send them back. In a chase filled with misdirection, and battles with demonic souls inhabiting living bodies, there is no way to triumph without further damning the posse members’ souls.

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I absolutely love these story lines and must say these books are well crafted. Barili does a smash up job of drawing the reader into his world, where condemned souls can walk among the living. My only problem with these books is the fact that Frank doesn’t seem to change much. Guilt and self-loathing are Frank’s fatal flaws as the protagonist, and although it doesn’t necessarily be resolved, there should at least be some evident change by the end of each story arc.  Even by the end of the second book, although he reasons that people should not have to suffer for things they’ve done due to circumstances beyond their control, yet he still resigns himself to whatever punishment the judges dole out, feeling he deserves it, unable to apply the lesson to his own situation, and he is unable to forgive himself.

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Both books in this series, Hell’s Marshal and Hell’s Butcher are entertaining tales with refreshingly original story lines. Each book could be stand alone stories. Regardless of the one glitch found in the protagonist’s character arc, they are fun reads that keep the pages turning. I give them both four quills.

Four Quills3

GuiltyIf you like the Hell’s Butcher series as much as I did, you’ll want to be sure and grab the prequel, Guilty, which is now also available. Guilty tells the story the events in Frank’s life that brought him before the judges and put him in the position to serve as Hell’s Marshal. This book offers insight into Frank’s character, so we can see where all that self-loathing comes from, drawing the series together and giving it cohesion. It is a different, but wonderfully entertaining story line. I give Guilty five quills.

Five Quills3

 

 

 

Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs at no charge. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.