An Interview with Becket, Author of The Blood Vivicanti

Pretty impressive.

...and then there was Sarah

BecketI am pleased to welcome Becket, author of The Blood Vivicanti, for an interview. You may be most familiar with Becket on his Facebook page, where he talks about his job as Anne Rice’s personal assistant, his awe-inspiring years living in a New Orleans monastery, and his love of everything geek. Now, Becket can add “author” to his list of life experiences as he introduces us to the first of six installments in the serial novel, The Blood Vivicanti. The serial involves an entirely new and unique set of blood-drinkers, which were born of a collaboration between Becket and Anne Rice.

I hope you enjoy my interview with the charming and lovely Becket, who, on top of everything else, is just an all-around awesome guy to chat with. And thank you, Becket, for stopping by!

Stay tuned after the interview for my review of The Blood Vivicanti

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2 Day Promotion: Rise of a Queen e-book free Aug 30-31st, get it while you can

Hey evryone! Free ebook available the 30&31st. Please help spread the word. reblog and tweet!!!

J.S. Riddle

As I have been making a few changes to heading strictly to Amazon Kindle for a while I wanted to give a good back to school gift (that is for the parent’s that are jumping up and down their children are back in school) and a wee bit early Labor Day for the United States by making my book free for August 30th and 31st. Rise of a Queen will be free for download to Kindle and Kindle app’s

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USUK, for all other countries look up Rise of a Queen.  The 0 is a great number and a great thing to take advantage of.  I do ask one big thing.  If you’ve download it for free, please leave a review to let others know your thoughts on the book and a nod to me that you enjoyed getting the free gift.

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The Query Letter

Pen & Notebook 3  The Query letter. No, really–it is not an evil device of torture sent from the writing Gods just to make you suffer. Okay, well it might be, but the ability to write a good query letter is also an integral part of any writer’s repertoire.

 

It is difficult to write a captivating and effective query letter that will not only command the attention of an agent/editor, but also shed light on your fiction/non-fiction project and make them care enough about your protagonist/story/piece that they want to see the entire manuscript. Imagine condensing a 100,000 word book into a query letter of less than 200 words…wait…where are you going…I’m not trying to scare you. I’m trying to explain how to do this without tearing out your hair.

 

We are going to break the parts of the query letter down into weekly sections for the next four weeks and discuss each part in depth.

First:

The first part of the query letter:

Depending on whom you ask, a standard query letter will either have 3 or 4 essential parts, also depending on what type of work you are presenting and your personal preference. An outstanding query should include the following:

The introduction, or opening lines:

You only have one chance to make a first impression. This is a common enough phrase and also very true when it comes to a situation where your first hand-shake must be done via paper or electronic media. It is somewhat of a disadvantage to not have the ability to make eye-contact and use your presence when trying to command attention. Still, there is no reason why you cannot exude confidence and let your personality shine through when presenting yourself via the written word.

It may seem like a good idea to use a crazy hook at this point in the query. You want to stand out, right? Asking a rhetorical question or being silly will land your letter in the dust bin. Guaranteed. The agent/editor is busy. They are looking at your query letter to find out basic information about your book. Is it interesting? Is it marketable? Does it have the potential to turn a profit? What makes it unique?

You should begin this section with a brief introduction of yourself and your work. If you have any relevant credits to your name, use them. By relevant, I do not mean “I am a stay-at-home mum and this is my first book.” I mean: “I was a journalist with the Chicago Sun Times for 13 years and have also published previously with-” Relevant information that supports your ability to write well and handle business is all the personal info you should include. You should also include the genre, title and word count of your manuscript at this point.

 

Example of poor query opening:

Dear Editor or Agent, —Always address queries to a specific person.

What would you do if you were abandoned by your husband in the middle of nowhere?–Beginning with a broad and general question like this detracts attention away from the point in your inquiry. My name is Jane Doe and I have been a nurse for 20 years. Please consider my teen romance where you can find out the answer to my above question.–Unless she is writing a book on nursing in some fashion, her job is irrelevant. She does not give anything other than her genre.

 

Example of a well-written query opening:

 

Dear Mr. Waltham, –Query addressed to specific person.

 

I found your agency on “AgentSearch.com” and noted that you are currently open to submissions from speculative fiction authors. After reading your guidelines,–She has noted where she found his listing and let him know that she read and put some thought into the agency’s guidelines before submitting. it is my belief that you may be interested in my novel “The Whispering Brook,” a speculative fiction novel of 55,000 words.–Book title and length included. My book is about a woman in a small Eastern village who must teach her people to trust conventional medicine in order to save the lives of children during a diphtheria outbreak.–A little preview of the book without going into too much detail. Your synopsis will be in the next portion, so this does not need to be detailed. I have a history of small press publishing and have won a couple of awards for my fiction entries in national contests. –Credits that are relevant to fiction writing and support her cause.

 

* you may choose to refrain from mentioning credits until the third part of your query, the author bio. I personally, enjoy reading queries that give a hint of any expertise the author in question may have, right up front.

 

This concludes the opening of the query letter. Please stay tuned next week for part 2: the synopsis.

 

Here are some things to keep in mind until then:

Double and triple check your query for spelling and grammar errors. There is never a more critical time to avoid making these mistakes than when you are trying to impress your abilities as a writer upon an editor/agent.

 

Ensure that you have spelled the name of the person you are addressing as well as the name of the agency correct. There are so many uncommon spellings that it is easy to address something to “John” instead of “Jon.”

 

Remember to include your contact information. Epic fail if you expect an editor or agent to take the time to look you up.

 

If it is not email, include and SASE. For the price of the stamp you are guaranteeing 1 of 2 things. Either your will be 40 some cents less rich than you were before, or you just might have a prayer of getting a response.

 

Polish and refine your query as you did your manuscript. Do not write it and send it the same day. Begin it early, take breaks from it and come back with fresh eyes. If you are a member of a good writer’s group or have beta readers, have them look at it as well.

 

The best query letter in the world does not guarantee you a win, but it can’t hurt.

 

JUST WRITE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Medicine Man: Chief of All Time by S.R. Howen

The Chief of All Time (Medicine Man I)The Chief of All Time by S.R. Howen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

 

Shannon Running Deer is American Indian by blood, he has forsaken his people’s ancient ways to embrace the “modern” world as a wealthy, highly successful trauma surgeon.

His comfortable existence begins to unravel when, seemingly by chance, Shannon finds himself gradually drawn into the past. Pursued by an ancient evil, he knows he can change the future, if he can survive the past.

In the tradition of Diana Gabaldon, S.R. Howen’s MEDICINE MAN is a distinctive and atmospheric novel full of spirituality, mystical time travel, romance, passion, and suspense.

In respect to the author and the genre, I should state that I have not read much Native American literature, so this was a bit outside my usual genre preferences and therefore my perception may not be that of what a more experienced fan of the genre would be.

That being said, this book is well written and intriguing. The story is compelling and the characters are definitely outside the bounds of what I have come to expect from many recent novels. The depth with which S.R. Howen created her background for each character is incredible and the descriptions she gives of them helps the reader clearly get an image of each one in their mind.

I did take a slight issue with some of the jumps back and forth between the past and the present, as I felt some of them were not really expected and that made them somewhat jarring. Still, in the end, this was an exciting story and those few seconds of confusion were a small price to pay for the enjoyment I received.

If I had to choose a favourite thing about this novel, it would be the villain. I have always appreciated villains that do not give up easily and make the protagonist work hard to evade them. This is certainly the case with this one. Aside from never giving up, the villain is also intelligent and crafty, making the next move they make unpredictable for the characters and the audience.

The love story was handled well, without being too mushy or melodramatic. I enjoyed getting to know the characters and watching them learn more about one another. I never felt that the scenes of them together were contrived or overly wrought with silliness as I see in many other books. Their personalities worked well together and they were characters you wanted to root for.

Overall, this was an excellent read and worth the time. If you are interested in Native American lore and fictional books with depth and a good plot, this could be the book for you.

The Returned by Jason Mott

The ReturnedThe Returned by Jason Mott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

 

 

 

Jacob was time out of sync, time more perfect than it had been. He was life the way it was supposed to be all those years ago. That’s what all the Returned were.

Harold and Lucille Hargrave’s lives have been both joyful and sorrowful in the decades since their only son, Jacob, died tragically at his eighth birthday party in 1966. In their old age they’ve settled comfortably into life without him, their wounds tempered through the grace of time … Until one day Jacob mysteriously appears on their doorstep—flesh and blood, their sweet, precocious child, still eight years old.

All over the world people’s loved ones are returning from beyond. No one knows how or why this is happening, whether it’s a miracle or a sign of the end. Not even Harold and Lucille can agree on whether the boy is real or a wondrous imitation, but one thing they know for sure: he’s their son. As chaos erupts around the globe, the newly reunited Hargrave family finds itself at the center of a community on the brink of collapse, forced to navigate a mysterious new reality and a conflict that threatens to unravel the very meaning of what it is to be human.

With spare, elegant prose and searing emotional depth, award-winning poet Jason Mott explores timeless questions of faith and morality, love and responsibility. A spellbinding and stunning debut, The Returned is an unforgettable story that marks the arrival of an important new voice in contemporary fiction.

My thoughts:

I rarely say this with any real emphasis, but this time I have to: This book is unforgettable.

Have you ever stopped and wished you could have someone you’ve lost come back for a minute, a day, any length of time so you could settle something with them? If you have, then this is the book for you.

This story captivated me from the first page. This story is such a surreal experience. At once, you believe that none of this could be possible, but then you wonder, could something like this happen, and if it did , what would you do?

The story of Lucille and her family was a touching one and I enjoyed all of the characters that were tied together through the opening of each chapter. This book reminded me that this world really is small when it comes to how interconnected our lives are. The way the author made these connections throughout the story were subtle, but effective. Read this book with a box of tissues nearby. Don’t say I didn’t warn you first. It isn’t sad, but emotionally moving is not quite a good enough description.

The only thing not 100% positive I can say about this story is that I felt toward the middle of the book there was a slight lag. It wasn’t terrible and soon passed, but I did feel there was a little spot there where it seemed the author wasn’t sure what he wanted to do next with the story and it showed in the shift of writing style.

I have to say, this was a case where my favourite person was not the main character. I was really impressed with the character Agent Bellamy. He is the type of character that displays compassion and makes you want to keep reading to find out what he does for the other characters in the book. I thought whilst reading this, that the author must have either modeled him after someone he loved, or after his own image, because he was so realistic and his traits seemed effortless that it was like getting to know a real person.

If you have been looking for a story that will resonate with you, raise questions and offer you hope that there really is no forever goodbye, this would be a perfect choice. I really enjoyed this. I will definitely be picking up a hard copy of this book to add to my personal shelf.

This review is based off of a digital ARC provided by the publisher.

An Interview with Scott J. Holliday, author of Stonefly

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Today, I consider myself very fortunate for the opportunity to interview Scott J. Holliday, author of “Stonefly.” This is one of the very best books of the year, in my opinion. With captivating descriptions and a unique story and plot, this one is certain to please.

Please take a moment to check out Scott’s Amazon Author page HERE

And check out Stonefly HERE

*Additional links and contact methods found at the bottom of the interview

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Tell us a bit about yourself and what you write

I’m recently a father for the first time¬—a baby daughter—and couldn’t be more proud. I was able to hold her for the first twenty minutes of her life (while her mother recovered) and somewhere in that twenty minutes the train that was my old life derailed and landed on a new track. I’m a Michigan State grad, software developer, and I make my own pizza. The key is in the crust, and I’ve got a secret ingredient that makes all the difference.

I write books about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. I fell in love with reading and storytelling because I could always take something meaningful away from a well-told story. My goal is to tell stories that relate to our own lives so that readers can take something meaningful away from them.

Can you share anything with us about your current WIP?

My current work-in-progress is a coming-of-age tale. It’s about a young boy who’s dealing with some personal tragedy, and then he discovers something in his life that keeps coming back. He sets out to investigate the reason why, and along the way… well, we’ll see 😉 There are some fears and frights in it, but it doesn’t go into all out horror.

Also, I’m working on Broken Horizon, Jacob Duke #2.

What has been the most eye-opening part of being an author thus far?

Sincerely—There’s magic in it. Before I took my writing seriously I thought it was BS when an author would talk about their characters becoming real and taking their own paths through life. I figured it was impossible to be a character’s creator, and still somehow allow that character to make their own decisions. I was so wrong. I discovered just how wrong I was when I wrote my first publishable book, Normal, and my characters were pretty much doing whatever they wanted to do. It was like magic. I followed them and wrote down what happened, if that makes sense. And then I knew just how emotionally taxing it could be when I found myself crying about some of the tragedies and pain that my characters were going through. It’s a surreal thing to be the creator of the tragedy that you’re imposing upon your character, and yet you still feel destroyed by it.

What do you hope for the future of your writing career?

I’d like to be a full-time writer someday. It’s staggeringly difficult to get a foothold in this business, but I’ll keep on writing and keep on pushing because it’s what I do. Ultimately, though, I’d just like to know that my work is affecting people in a positive way. My books are like children. I’m sending them out into the world to do as they will, and I’m just hoping that they do the right by others.

Who are some of your biggest influences and/or favourite authors?

George Orwell. In particular, 1984. The last page of that book made me cry out with a mixture of anger and love. Never has a work of fiction hit me so hard and left me speechless. A masterpiece. I enjoy other classics, too, like Catcher in the Rye and Of Mice and Men. I also loved What’s Eating Gilbert Grape by Peter Hedges, and The Green Mile (the movie was good, but the book was fantastic) by Stephen King.

Other than that, I’ll read just about whatever I can get my hands on. I’ve grown less tolerant of bad writing over the years, though. I stop reading many more books than I used to. I guess it comes with knowing a bit more about what it takes to do it well, and then seeing that sometimes authors are clearly taking shortcuts.

Additionally, I’d say that movies inspire me just as much as books, and even more so, music. Music breaks me down and makes me think differently. So much of what I write is inspired by music, I’m almost embarrassed to admit it.

What first inspired the idea for your story?

I’ve seen too many movies and read too many books about people who’ve been given super powers. They’re suddenly left with the responsibility to use that power correctly. I thought, why not someone who has been given real responsibility, but no super powers? That’s when Jacob was born. He’s just like the rest of us, who have to be responsible to our families and friends, but we’re not given special gifts.

How many rewrites did it take for you to feel you had a marketable book?

From top to bottom I only wrote the book once. After that I’d say it went through five to ten editing passes. It’s just me doing the work, so I have to step away from the project for a bit and get perspective in order to see some things that I didn’t see the first time, the second time, etc.

Where can we find you?

You can find me in Detroit, MI. If you check the Thai food places and I’m not there, check my writing desk 😉

Any final thoughts, advice for other authors?

A final thought—I’d like to thank you, Ionia, for what you do. It’s people like me that need people like you, and I appreciate it. My advice to other authors? I’m hardly qualified to be giving out advice, but I guess I could say one thing about finding success with writing:

You’ve got to belong to it.

http://www.scottjholliday.com

hollidaybooks@gmail.com

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6584659.Scott_J_Holliday

Normal: http://www.amazon.com/Normal-ebook/dp/B00A2W87Q0

The Young Ones: http://www.amazon.com/Young-Ones-Special-ebook/dp/B00CWN9E8W

An IM/CY Production: Arrow in the Butt

Anogre

Ionia: Hey, Charles. So I was walking through Windemere the other day and saw the weirdest thing.

Charles: A troll dancing with a teddy bear? I keep meaning to lock him up.

Ionia: Well, yeah. I saw that too. But no. It was even weirder than that. There Luke was, just kind of hanging out, reading your book and smiling and then ZING! There was an arrow in his butt.

Charles: That had to hurt. Wonder what part he was reading? Wait . . . arrow in butt more important.

Ionia: I have heard that some reviewers can be trolls, but I didn’t realise they meant it so literally. I don’t know which part, but I’m thinking it must have had something to do with Kira. He had that dreamy look again . . . until the arrow in the butt.

Charles: Unless he was reading ahead. I should probably get Aedyn to help him that arrow. Who shot him?

Ionia: That makes me wonder. How would Windemere heroes handle a troll who drinks all the ale and then leaves 1 star?

Charles: Such a terrible tipper. I think Nyx would set them on fire. Then she’d get mad.

Ionia: In the Five Kingdoms we send them to the Murky Bog. Smells like farts and has swamp rats the size of a double-decker bus. Then we encourage them to try the mushrooms.

Charles: Interesting. For Windemere, it would depend on the hero. Although, I can see the Lich being sent after them. He’d have soooo much fun.

Ionia: I have to hand it to Luke though. He kept his cool. He looked around for a moment, finished the chapter and then went on his way. I watched the arrow bounce up and down until he faded into the distance. He didn’t even swear. I heard him mutter something about, “Did you even read this butt before you let that arrow fly?” He may have said book. It sounded like butt.

Charles: Sounds like he was drinking while reading. Then again, he’s learning how to take bad news and let it roll off his back.

Ionia: Only to get himself through the parts with the Lich, surely.

Charles: Or that demon. Still a great scene that he will never live down.

Ionia: I have heard that having cosmic-sized meltdowns in front of an audience can be bad. Hey, do you think he ever got the arrow out? Ah, the demon. Yes. Well, perhaps the demon had an arrow in his butt too.

Charles: If he didn’t then I have a list of people that would yank it out when he wasn’t looking. Most likely Nimby.

Ionia: I was thinking Fizzle might distract him with an apple.

Charles: It’s a large butt. Would the demon ever notice it?

Ionia: He has the cute factor.

Fizzle: Fizzle no know how to share apples!

Ionia: Fizzle, not the demon arse. Hey Fizzle! You always seem to show up when we talk about you.

Charles: I wouldn’t say that out loud to the demon. He’s sensitive about his backside.

Ionia: *What do you mean apple perfume? A demon with a complex about his arse? I like big butts. Look at my header.

Charles: It’s an excellent header. Love the red dress and cupcake.

Ionia: Hey Charles, uhm…you might want to look behind you, I just saw movement behind one of those…ZING!!!!!!!!!!!

Charles: Dang it! I needed that cheek.

Ionia: Hey Fizzle?

Charles: Who keeps shooting at me?

Ionia: There’s an arrow in Charles’ butt.

Fizzle: Fizzle here! Fizzle think that look painful.

Charles: At least it isn’t in the bone. Just the butt flesh.

Ionia: Uhm…Bradley….we saw that. Nine out of Ten he’s going to try and blame the Lich.

Charles: I wondered where he wandered off to. Which Lich would he blame?

Ionia: His or yours? Oh, that reminds me…pretty soon there is going to be another Lich released on the world. Have you heard about this?

Charles: This is news to me. I’m all ears and wounded rump.

Ionia: Your bum is swelling. Here, take one of these…”Perfectly safe mushrooms” and have a rest against that tree. You can find out more shortly about this other Lich by keeping an eye on http://greenembers.wordpress.com

Charles: I’ve heard rumors of that Lich moving into the spotlight. Guess he got tired of the lonely shadows.

Ionia: Until then, we should really do something about that butt… You are looking a bit like J-Lo and it’s wiggling like Jell-o

Charles: That would be shivers of pain. I need more mushrooms.

Ionia: 🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄🍄 You owe me twenty Rubilets—is there a currency exchange around here?

Charles: Behind the tavern and next to the other tavern.

Ionia: but that says “outhouse”

Charles: I have a few diamond spheres though. It does say that. That tavern owner isn’t great at making names . . . or cooking.

Ionia: I’m out of here. Digger was left alone. It can’t be good.

Charles: Yeah that . . . where’s Fritz and Nimby? I think Sari wandered off too. Maybe we should just hide under the bed until they all calm down.

Ionia: No one else wants an arrow in their butt. Let’s. No one accused us of being heroes.

Charles: Ladies first.

Ionia: Be careful not to snag your arse on the duvet. Okay, then go first.

Charles: I promise not to . . . what’s a duvet?

Ionia: B L A N K E T! D U H!

Charles: Oh! You meant my night fort. It’s warm and safe under there.

Ionia: We all know you night fart. Now stop talking.

Charles: Yes, ma’am.

Ionia: Stop wriggling, I’ve almost got it out.

Charles: Just yank it out and get it over with. Keep the arrow though because I want to return to sender.

Ionia: Oops, broke off the tip. You are right. Call Aedyn.

Charles: Good idea. Keep Fritz and his inventions away from me.

Ionia: You know you came to the right place if you want me to entertain a short guy. Well, good luck.

Charles: Thanks. Enjoy the gnome.

Ionia: “OOOOH FRITZ!” * Bats eyelashes. “Charles had an arrow in his butt and now I broke his arse and he said he wants us to invent something to help him see the future…. Why thank you, I rather like this tunic as well…”