In case you missed a stop or two, here's a recap of my guest posts and interviews, with reviews to follow in a separate post...
Meet & Greet
for tour launch
• Describe Fall of Darkness in one sentence.
Fall of Darkness is my paranormal twist on star-crossed lovers in a dark paranormal world/urban fantasy world, chronicling their bittersweet journey.
• What inspired the idea behind the book?
The paranormal-story-horse had already been beaten to death with vampires and werewolves. My story began with the question, “If I wrote a vampire romance, how would I do it differently?” The ideas just snowballed from there.
• What was the most challenging part of writing it?
Editing was definitely the most challenging part of writing Fall of Darkness, partly due to its delayed launch. I actually wrote FoD about six years ago, but never got around to seeking a publisher. It was long forgotten on my flash drive when one of my RWA comrades told me about her success with the indie movement. I thought why not? So I dusted off my old flash drive and got to work, editing my manuscript. Suffice to say that I’ve grown quite a bit as a writer and a person in the past six years. Some parts were so slap-my-forehead terrible, I’d stare at the computer screen for what seemed like forever, at a loss for how to fix the disaster that was my writing. It was a painful process, but I survived and so did the book.
• What inspired the idea behind the series's premise?
I originally had no intention of it being a series. In my mind, Fall of Darkness was an epic stand alone. The trouble is, no one wants to devote their time and money to an unknown author peddling a 600+ page behemoth of a debut novel. So, based on the concept that a debut should be no longer than 100,000 words, I tried to provide a natural stopping point within the story (I hate cliff hangers) and resigned myself to telling the story in pieces.
• How many installments do you plan on being in the series?
There will be at least two, quite possibly three or four. It depends on how the story pans out.
• How does it feel to have your debut out there in the hands of readers?
Terrifying and exhilarating all at once. I was so afraid to share my work, I didn’t even tell my friends and family that I wrote a book until after my ARC reviews were back and the book was published. I still get a little twitchy when someone I know is reading it (what if they hate it?), but am settling down as time passes. Still, nothing beats the feel of holding your very own book in your hands for the first time. Nothing beats those messages and reviews, telling you how much someone loved your work.
• What do you enjoy most about writing?
I love to watch the progression of my stories as I write. I start out with an initial idea, and then see where it takes me. It’s amazing to see how the story develops and changes, how my characters take on lives of their own.
• Besides writing, what other artistic talents do you have?
I’m a total musical theater nerd. I love to sing, dance, and act. I also enjoy photography and digital scrapbooking, so I design all my own cover art. I play the guitar and piano, but not well enough to matter.
• Are you currently writing another book?
Yes, I have several works in progress, two fairly close to completion. The first is the next book in The Chronicles of Darkness series, Dark Redemption. The other is a contemporary romance that snuck its way in.
• What advice would you give aspiring authors?
Write, write, and write some more. When you’re done, edit like a crazy person. After that, have someone else edit. You can have a great story, but few things are more off-putting than poor writing mechanics. Beyond that, just go for it. Tell your story.
• Current obsession: In addition to my ongoing addiction to online shopping (Hubby has cut me off from Amazon, Kohls, and Gymboree for a while,) I am currently hooked on Scandal, Reign, and music by Passenger.
• Last thing you Googled: Mandarin Chinese boy names- Don’t ask, it’s a long story.
• You’re stressed. What’s the first thing you do or reach for? Either my running shoes and ear buds, chocolate, or all of the above.
• You write best with music playing and something to snack on while home alone in your pajamas.
• Inspiration hits, but you're not home or near your computer.
If I have time, I write it with my Alphasmart Neo, which I pretty much drag everywhere with me. If I don’t have time, I’ll put a quick reminder note in my phone.
• Best writing resource:
Hands down, the online writing community. I have met some of the most amazing readers, bloggers, and fellow authors while networking online. That said, I do have to admit to consulting Grammar Girl when I’m unsure of how to appropriately punctuate something.
• Guilty pleasure: Reading in the bath tub
• Automatic buy-list author: Karen Marie Moning (but this list could go on for a while)
• Favorite Paranormal Romance: Either KMM’s Fever series or Sherrilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series
• Character you wish was real so you could meet: Hmm, just about any of my favorite book boyfriends. ;)
My Lists of Tens
by Elle Bright for Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews
Who are your 10 favorite authors?
1- Karen Marie Moning
2- Judith McNaught
3- Jennifer Crusie
4- Julie Garwood
5- Sherrilyn Kenyon
6- John Grisham
7- James Patterson
8- Teresa Medeiros
9- Monica McCarty
10- Mary Balogh
What are 10 weird things about you?
1- I always dip my French fries in my chocolate Frosty when I eat at Wendy’s
2- I enjoy a good blow ‘em up, shoot ‘em up action flick just as much, if not more than, a chick flick.
3- I don’t write my stories in order. I write the scenes as they interest me, and then tie it all together in the end.
4- I refuse to do the dishes if the sink is overfilled. I just can’t do it.
5- I don’t like tomatoes, ketchup, and most marinara sauces, but I love pizza. Go figure.
6- I can pick things up with my toes.
7- I die a little inside when a friend borrows a book and returns it with a banged up cover and creases in the binding. I like my paperbacks to still look pretty on the shelf.
8- I can’t wear cute clothes or shoes on a low maintenance hair and makeup day. It’s just too much of a waste. It’s all or nothing with me.
9- I was obsessed with the movie Titanic and Leonardo DiCaprio in middle school- and I mean OBSESSED.
10- My 18 months old daughter has a more extensive wardrobe than I do. I have a bit of a Gymboree addiction.
If you were stranded on an island what 10 things would you most want with you?
1- My husband, children, and dog. However, there are times when an extended getaway on a deserted isle sounds all too enticing.
2- My iphone. I’m useless without it.
3- Chocolate. I need this to survive.
4- Diet Dr. Pepper. See #3
5- Books. Hardback, paperback, kindle, or kindle app for iphone- it doesn’t matter, so long as I can read.
6- My military poncho-liner blanket. I sleep with it every night.
7- My Alphasmart Neo. So I can write, of course. I take it everywhere with me and will even write while stuck in traffic.
8- Toiletries. I don’t do dirty. Hygiene is a must.
9- Chapstick. I’m addicted and would lose my mind without it.
10- Charmin ultra. Tushy chafe-age is no bueno.
What 10 things absolutely drive you insane?
1- Littering. The garbage is right there people.
2- Red lights that won’t change, even though there’s nobody else on the road.
3- Smoking in populated areas, especially around children. You’re entitled to your habit and I respect that, but that doesn’t mean I want to breathe it.
4- Telemarketers, especially the ones who won’t take no for an answer.
5- Solicitors who ignore the signs that say ‘no soliciting’ and ‘don’t ring doorbell’ and do it anyway. They must have missed the ‘beware of dog’ sign too.
6- Welfare recipients who drive nicer cars, have nicer phones, and wear nicer clothes than I can afford on a nurse’s salary.
7- Sports talk shows. I enjoy watching the game, but can’t stand to listen to a bunch of has-beens and never-beens picking apart athletes, especially before they’ve even played. I don’t care what you think will happen. Shut up and watch the game.
8- Skinny people who can eat anything they want. I can’t blame them for winning the genetic lottery, but it still makes me crazy.
9- People who think they know everything and I mean everything. Just ask them, they know it.
10- Mean people. They suck. There’s no reason to hate or judge. Enough drama, people.
Fall of Darkness Character Interviews
by Elle Bright for The Reading Frenzy
I thought it might be fun to go about this guest post a little differently. Instead of introducing my characters myself, I’d like to interview them and let them tell you a little more about themselves. So, without further ado, meet Kate and Dominic…
So, Dominic, what about Kate first drew you to her?
D: Aside from the fact she is the most beautiful woman alive? (grins) I would have to say her heart. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Kate before I ever met her, but there are some things pictures and words can’t describe. At first, I was merely intrigued by the idea of a compassionate vampire. Then she turned my world upside down. Kate is kind, genuine, and incredibly passionate. She feels with so much intensity and puts her heart into everything. That is one of the things I love most about her.
What about Dominic first drew you to him, Kate?
K: Hmm, well, I guess he’s not bad to look at either, (winks) but I’d have to say it was something about his presence. He doesn’t just enter a room, he fills it. He walks in and he’s all I can see. I don’t know if it’s that dazzling smile or those big brown eyes, but something makes you want to peel back the onion layers and see what’s behind the charm and good looks.
D: The onion layers, cara?
K: Yeah, ‘ogres are like onions.’ (grins) Fine, babe, you can be a parfait. Everybody likes those. The point is Dominic is complex. He has so many layers and it’s fascinating to peel them back and discover new facets of the amazing man underneath.
What are your favorite things to do together?
D: (Raises eyebrows) Besides the obvious? I like helping Kate experience new things. I’ve been around a long time. I have pretty much done and tried everything. Yet when I experience them with her, I feel that first-time feeling all over again.
K: I don’t really care what we’re doing, as long as it’s together. I love to just hang out. Dominic is really fun to talk to and spend time with. He sucks at card games, so that’s always fun….
D: (laughs) I do not. You cheat.
K: (grins and shrugs)
What has been the best moment in your life so far?
K: The night Dominic proposed.
D: When Kate came back to me.
What was the scariest?
D: Telling Kate the truth.
K: Waking up and learning I was a vampire.
What is your biggest regret?
K: Besides being born a vampire? Not trusting Dominic the first time around.
D: Not telling Kate the truth sooner. Not that she would’ve believed me anyway.
K: Hey, you have to admit, it all sounds a little crazy.
What one word best describes you?
D: (sad smile) Traitor
Aside from each other, who do you trust the most? Why?
D: My brother, Giovanni. He would do anything for me and I for him.
K: My best friend, Lindsey. She’s my sister from another mister.
Dominic, how has Kate changed your life?
D: In every way possible. She awakened my humanity and emotions. Before her, I was a machine, a ruthless assassin with only one purpose in life, killing vampires. I knew nothing but anger, hate, and revenge. I feel things with her I never imagined possible. My purpose is to love and protect her. I have turned my back on everyone and everything I’ve ever known for her, but am a better man for it.
Kate, how has Dominic changed yours?
K: Well, since it’s not actually Dominic’s fault I turned into a blood-sucking demon after I met him, I can’t really blame him for it. So, I would have to say he has given me a will to live in a world of which I wanted no part. I can face anything with him at my side.
Kate, what is the best part of being a vampire?
K: Honestly, being a vampire kind of sucks, at least for me. On the bright side, I don’t have to count calories anymore. All the chocolate in the world couldn’t make me fat.
Dominic, what does it feel like to phase into a wolf?
D: When I decide to shift, I focus on my wolf form and energy similar to an electric current races through my body. Power vibrates through every cell in my body as each shifts and mutates into another form. It is painful yet exhilarating, feeling the raw power course through me. I have never been electrocuted, but I imagine it feels quite similar.
Can you share any secrets about the next book in the series, Dark Redemption?
D: If we did, we’d have to kill you. All I can say is it’s darker and grittier than Fall of Darkness. You’ll get to see a whole different side of certain characters and will be surprised by what they’re capable of.
K: It’s all about redemption- for me, Dominic, and Alexander. We’ve each done things in the past that we’re not proud of, but in Dark Redemption we have a chance to make it right.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this small insight into the lives and minds of my characters. The first installment of their story, Fall of Darkness, is available now. The second, Dark Redemption, is due for release early next year. I’m so excited to share more of their story with you. Thanks for stopping by.
Creating the Characters for Fall of Darkness
by Elle Bright for Brandy Nacole's Books
Creating characters is one of my favorite things to do as a writer. My stories usually start with conversations I’ve heard playing out in my head. I write out the scenes as they come to me and let the characters take on lives of their own. It’s fun to see how each character develops as the story unfolds. Sometimes they pick up the story and run with it in a completely different direction than I ever intended.
Although each character is a fictitious creation of my imagination, I have a habit of borrowing characteristics from the people around me to give my characters life. My family tells me there is a lot of me in Kate. A fact I find particularly humorous, considering I was once told Kate was too stupid to live. My husband still teases me about it. That said, my purse is a bottomless pit, I can never find my keys, and I have no sense of direction.
Dominic has a lot of my husband in him, combined with a fabulous dose of book boyfriend perfection, of course. Lindsey is a compilation of several of my past sorority sisters, but has quite a bit of my college best friend in her. I have found that by applying aspects of my real life to fiction, I am better able to lend a sense of realism to my characters.
I tend to use a lot of pictures while I write. If I identify with a picture of a real life person who resembles one of my characters, I will oftentimes open that image on my screen while writing. I found pictures of William Levy particularly motivating while writing about Dominic. ;) I also use pictures to inspire emotion. Dominic’s pain and regret in Fall of Darkness is a product of a black and white picture I once saw of an actor, I believe it was Raoul Bova, clutching his head in his hands. The raw emotion in that photo inspired the scene between Dominic and his father, as well as the Dominic my readers meet in the second half of the book.
Music is another tool I use to inspire emotion. While writing, I tend to listen to music that fits my characters and the emotions they are experiencing in that scene. For example, when Kate is grieving Dominic, I listened to songs like “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy and “Stay” by Rihanna. When writing the darker scenes, I listened to a lot of Breaking Benjamin and Disturbed. I’ve found by listening to mood-appropriate music, I can better channel the emotions my characters would be experiencing in a particular moment.
When I first started writing Fall of Darkness, I made a list of all of my characters and their individual attributes, back stories, and quirks. I really struggled with summing up multi-dimensional characters in singular words. ‘Smart’, ‘pretty’, and ‘funny’ are not the most useful character descriptions. What makes him smart? What makes him funny? Instead, I focused on the causation behind each character’s behavior and used that to develop their personalities and attributes.
When presented with a scenario or challenge in the story, I tried to think of how a person with that kind of personality and back story would respond. Kate has been hurt before, so she is mistrustful and self conscious. This causes her to question everything in her relationship easily. Kate is an ER nurse, so she is adaptable in the face of change. No matter how unhappy she might be with whatever reality she is presented with, she bucks up and finds her own way to deal with it.
One of the major concepts I hope to portray with my characters throughout the progression of The Chronicle of Darkness, is the relativity between good and evil. It’s all a matter of perspective. There are no real good guys or bad guys. (Well, except for that one guy everyone loves to hate in Fall of Darkness. He’s just plain rotten.) Each character has a different understanding of a situation and acts accordingly. Whether their actions are good or bad depends on where you’re standing. This adds depth to the characters and complexity to the story.
Regardless, I have enjoyed getting to know my characters through their creation. I hope my readers enjoy meeting them just as much through my writing. They are a fun and complex group of people, with quite a story to tell. I hope you all will join me for the ride. It’s going to be a wild one.
Vampires vs. Werewolves: Creating the Mythology of The Darkness Chronicles
by Elle Bright for Ebook Escapes
Fiction is filled with many variations of vampires and werewolves. Dracula, Lestat, Vlad the Impaler, the vampires who sparkle… Let’s just say, vampires and their furry counterparts have been around the block a few times. For this reason, the concept of a war between vampires and werewolves is far from new. But, as someone wiser than myself once said, “There are no new stories, only new ways of telling them.” At its core, Fall of Darkness is a paranormal Romeo and Juliet, one of countless reincarnations of an epic love story. My goal is to tell the familiar tale in my own unique way.
The paranormal world of The Darkness Chronicles is a combination of my imagination and select aspects of preexisting folklore. For example, I adopted the legend of Remus and Romulus for the foundation of my world, but altered their story to fit my needs. In my story, the two brothers war against one another. Each seeking an advantage, the brothers bargain with opposing gods for superhuman strengths and immortality, becoming the first vampire and werewolf. Their descendants live with the consequences of their actions.
My vampires are not the traditional undead. They are diseased immortals cursed by the decisions of their forefather. As nearly indestructible creatures with superhuman strength, my vampires are hard to kill, but they must have human blood in order to survive. Thanks to their ancestor’s bargain, the god of the underworld owns their souls and they are damned if they die. When they feed on humans, they steal a piece of their victim’s soul for their dark lord.
In the Darkness world, vampires are either born or created through consumption of vampire blood. Only those born to the Cacciatori bloodline are direct descendants of the original vampire. As such, Cacciatori vampires are royalty to their kind. All others descend from converted humans.
Though children born to vampires seem human, they harbor a mutated gene that doesn’t manifest until adulthood. This sets the stage for Kate, the long-lost Cacciatori heiress. Raised by humans, Kate knows nothing of her dark heritage until after she turns. Kate is the vampire prophesied to free her kind of from the curse of darkness.
So, what about all the traditional vampire legends? Well… My vampires may eat normal food, but only require human blood to survive. They’re very much alive and can be wounded, but heal quickly. Starvation, beheading by another immortal, and sunlight, be it natural or artificial, are the only ways in which a vampire can be killed. They can tolerate garlic and withstand holy water. They do not sparkle, sleep in coffins, turn into bats, or need to be invited in. They can’t read minds, but they can erase and control them. Their primal thirst for blood is the driving force in their lives.
But enough about my bloodsuckers, let’s talk shape shifters. The werewolf is the natural reciprocal and enemy of the vampires in the Darkness World. Created by the god of the heavens to protect man from the soul-sucking demons, the werewolves’ immortality comes at the price of eternal indentured servitude. These shape shifters have all the same strengths of vampires, without their weaknesses. The moon metal, silver, is their only vulnerability, for it is a metal born of darkness and is poison to their immortal bodies.
My werewolves can phase from human form into over-sized wolves whenever they choose. They fight proficiently in both forms, but prefer the speed and strength of their wolf form for hand-to-hand combat. Werewolves are either naturally born into the pack or are humans who’ve been inducted into the sacred brotherhood upon mating a pack member. They are a tight-knit family of vampire hunters who sacrifice their lives to uphold the Pact.
So, how do my werewolves compare to their fictional predecessors? Let’s see… My wolves are ordained guardians, not infected monsters. They are stronger in their wolf form, but also have less self-control. Their bite has no transmittable impact on humans or vampires. They are not cursed, but are enslaved by an ancient agreement. As fast-healing immortals, werewolves may only be killed by a weapon made of pure silver or decapitation by another immortal. My werewolves imprint on their mates, developing a supernatural bond that supersedes all other needs and desires.
So there you have it, a breakdown of vampires versus werewolves. I know it sounds pretty clear cut, vampires are bad and werewolves are good, but it’s not. One of the major concepts in The Darkness Chronicles is the blurred lines between good and evil. It’s all a matter of perspective. The wolves and vampires don’t just hate each other because they are supposed to, but because there’s been a lot of bad blood over the centuries. Each side has committed some pretty despicable crimes against the other. Who the bad guy is depends on where you’re standing when the chips fall.
Self-Editing Tips for the Indie Author
by Elle Bright for Murder by 4
One of the biggest challenges for indie authors is producing a clean, professional copyedit. Most of us don’t have the budget to hire an editor and even more of us desperately need one. So, what is a poor indie author to do? Well, either pony up the cash to hire an editor or learn to self-edit.
While preparing to publish Fall of Darkness, I read and re-read my manuscript so many times in an effort to self edit that I swore I would never want to read it again. No matter how many times I edited it, I found something different to change with each read. Needless to say, I became engrossed in a vicious cycle of edits and re-edits. I would probably be editing still.
As luck would have it, I stumbled across a list of editing tips in the Indie Author Group on facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/smashwordsauthor/doc/210175125681806/) and they have forever changed the way I approach self-editing. Utilizing these tips, I was able to search my manuscript for common errors I had no idea I was making. It was surprising to see how many times I used the words ‘was,’ ‘just,’ or ‘began.’ Searching your document by key word for each rule helps to identify common mistakes you may have overlooked in your proofreading. Today I would like to share a little of what I’ve learned.
First, it’s all about the action. Characters don’t ‘start’ or ‘begin’ to do things. They DO them. Search your document for words like ‘started’ and ‘began.’ Unless they are the beginning of a series of actions for a character, get rid of them. It is much more effective to say, “Joe jogged down the street,” instead of, “Joe started jogging down the street.”
Show, don’t tell. I know we’ve all heard this one, so do it. Search for words like ‘feel’ and ‘felt,’ then eliminate them when possible. Instead of, “Joe felt a spider crawl across his foot,” you might consider, “A spider crawled across Joe’s foot” (and insert shudder here.) The same goes for ‘and then’ and ‘then.’ They’re both telling phrases. Instead of “then he screamed,” just say “he screamed.”
People speak in contractions, so write with them. For example, instead of ‘had not,’ use ‘hadn’t.’ Doing so will help your prose to sound more natural. However, don’t use the universal ‘replace’ function or you may end up inventing words like ‘hadn’ted’ instead of ‘had noted.’ You may want to consider starting a new document when editing, just to be safe. There have been times I wish I had.
Try to avoid using the phrase ‘there was.’ Sometimes it’s justified, but not often. Search for this phrase and try to reword any sentences that use it. While we are on the subject of ‘was,’ avoid passive statements, such as “Joe was screaming.” It is a much stronger statement to say, “Joe screamed.” Identify any sentences in which you use ‘was’ with ‘-ing’ words and try to reword those sentences.
There is a distinct difference between ‘they’re,’ ‘their,’ and “there.” There is also a difference between ‘to,’ ‘two,’ and ‘too.’ Search your document for common misused homophones like these and ensure each has been used properly. It’s all too easy for the eye to scan over a word that sounds the same, but is far from what is meant.
One rule I often find myself breaking is avoidance of words such as ‘very’ and ‘really.’ Joe isn’t ‘very’ hot. He’s either hot or he’s not. The same goes for ‘just’ and ‘only.’ Make sure you truly need them. If you can justify the use of ‘just’ or ‘only,’ make sure it is next to the word you intended to modify.
Another word with which I personally struggle is the word ‘that.’ Although commonly used in speech, “that” is not necessary, but may sound correct when read. ‘That he,’ ‘that she,’ and ‘that they’ are all unnecessary and should be avoided when possible. Also, be careful not to use ‘that’ in place of ‘who.’ It is “the man who drove,” not “the man that drove.”
Perform a search for the troublesome word, ‘like.’ See if ‘as though’ or ‘as if’ sounds better in its place. I’ve found if it’s followed by a full sentence, then ‘like’ is more than likely not the best choice. Another sneaky little unnecessary word is ‘of.’ “Inside it” is better than “inside of it.” Also, try to avoid split infinitives. Although “to boldly go” is generally accepted, other split infinitives, such as “to not go,” sound awkward.
Make sure your singular and plural pronouns match. If referring to a group, the pronoun should be plural. If referring to an individual, the pronoun should be singular. For example, “It brought him to his feet” or “It brought them to their feet.” Never should it say “it brought him to their feet.”
Last, but not least, let’s talk a little about sentence structure. Try to vary how you begin your sentences so they don’t all start the same. It gets boring real quick. Make sure you have all the necessary components, unless writing in fragments for stylistic reasons (which I tend to do a lot- shame on me.) If a sentence contains more than one idea, make sure you use commas, semi colons, and colons appropriately. Which brings me to the overuse of commas- if there are more than two, consider dividing the sentence into two separate ones.
Although I am far from perfect, these tips have enabled me to approach my editing in a much more efficient manner. When searching, instead of reading line by line, I am better able to identify errors I might have missed on a read through. Searching forces me to look at each sentence individually and question its wording and structure. Search for these issues, correct what you can, then read your work aloud to identify flow issues. When at last you feel you’ve polished your manuscript until it shines, recruit another set of eyes to read over it. I’ll bet they still find something to fix. I know my beta readers always do. Best of luck.