Sunday, 24 May 2020

Book Spotlight: Dark Divinations

Today I have for you a real treat with a spotlight for the new supernatural anthology, Dark Divinations recently released by HorrorAddicts.net Press. Enjoy.





Dark Divinations (edited by Naching T. Kassa)






It’s the height of Queen Victoria’s rule. Fog swirls in the gas-lit streets, while in the parlor, hands are linked. Pale and expectant faces gaze upon a woman, her eyes closed and shoulders slumped. The medium speaks, her tone hollow and inhuman. The séance has begun.

Can the reading of tea leaves influence the future? Can dreams keep a soldier from death in the Crimea? Can a pocket watch foretell a deadly family curse? From entrail reading and fortune-telling machines to prophetic spiders and voodoo spells, sometimes the future is better left unknown.

Choose your fate.
Choose your Dark Divination.






**********

An excerpt from Dark Divinations

The Moat House Cob

Alan Fisher
Tower of London, 1887


I had earned the position of Her Majesty’s Keeper of Wise Animals after a priest witnessed my unfortunate encounter with a foul-mouthed and heretical black goose along the Thames. He reported me to the Lawless Assizes which gave me a simple choice: burn at the stake for witchcraft or turn my talents to the service of the Queen. I, not unwisely, chose the latter. My crimes against the proper way of things would be held in abeyance until I died a natural death or the Assizes decided to end me in flames. The goose—not given such a chance—was burned, squawking out dire curses on all and sundry.
The wise animals were kept in a smallish room at the top of a corner battlement at the Tower of London, except for the Prophetory Raven, who had the run of the entire Tower, like the rest of his wing-clipped fellows. It was escorted to the room each morning by the Yeoman Warder Ravenmaster, where it would spend the day uselessly pecking grubs off a map of the Empire so I could note which grub it went after first. For the past five years, it had favored the flavor of the grubs inhabiting the vastness of the open Pacific, where little of note had happened, or would happen.
Useless, the Prophetory Raven. Useless, the Revelation Mice of Cambridge. Useless, the mad parrot that had once been owned by John Dee and only squawked Enochian riddles, a language I had sadly not been taught at Balliol. Useless, Her Majesty’s Keeper of Wise Animals, but still I walked up the dank stairs every day. Every day I recorded anything the wise animals might reveal and every day I fed them and slopped their shite out into the courtyard and every evening I fled back to my room at the base of the tower.
All in all, still better than being burned alive.
The wise animals were so considered because they had foretold the future, at least once. In most cases, only once. But they were collected, some of them having lived long beyond their years. Dee’s Parrot was in its third century, if indeed it was the same bird that had warned Queen Elizabeth of the coming Armada. The Prophetory Raven was at least two decades beyond the ordinary life of its fellows and was famed in a very small circle for screaming ceaselessly on two seperate days that madmen tried to shoot our Queen Victoria. It was otherwise silent. The six Revelation Mice, who got into ink whilst scurrying about the University Library of Cambridge and left in their tiny footprints an obituary for Prince Albert two weeks before his death, had never written anything again. I should know. I had to apply ink to the feet of the little bastards every evening before setting them loose on a large sheet of white paper. Every morning, I threw out the ink-smeared paper that had no more wisdom on it than the droppings they left.
But then there was the spider. The Moat House Cob was big as my splayed out hand and dark as pitch, except for orange lines crossing its back. Or abdomen, as a spider-fancier once told me it was called. Seemed as if every day the lines were different. It had been found with a witch around 1750. According to the tale, it crawled from her clothes as the flames took her and nearly escaped. An alert executioner trapped it in a goblet. Left in a box for examination, it wove the name of its captor’s son into its web overnight. That day, the boy died of a spider’s bite. The story got to the Lawless Assizes quickly enough and the Moat House Cob was one of the first wise animals brought to the Tower, preceded only by Dee’s Parrot and a stoat that could predict storms at sea but passed away in 1709.
The Moat House Cob was not useless. It was placed in a wide flat glass box, with a map of the world pasted against the back of it. It was my charge—as much as humoring the parrot and inking the feet of the mice—to record where it wove a web. It always wove one, every night, somewhere on the map. I took note of the location in the Ledger of Wise Animals, a series of tomes which went back to Dee’s Parrot first asking for a biscuit in Enochian. The majority of the time, the web’s location meant nothing. After making my notes, I would open the top of the cage—after I made sure the Cob was near the bottom and far from me, which it always was—and wipe away the web.


To read more of this story, and the other great tales, go to Amazon.com or order the special edition, signed copy with hand-painted tarot cards at HorrorAddicts.net



Thursday, 16 April 2020

Guest Post: 5 Must-Do Book Marketing Tips


Today I have a guest post from author Jenn Gott with some helpful marking tips.
Enjoy.



Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay


5 Must-Do Book Marketing Tips to Action Before Your Book Launch

So you’ve written and edited your book to perfection, and now you’re finally ready to take the plunge. Launch day is the moment every writer dreams of — but before you go planning the perfect launch party and acceptance speeches for the many prizes you hope to win, you need to make sure that people actually find out about your new book. And the only way to do that is through marketing.
I can hear some of you groaning already, but I promise: marking doesn’t have to be a chore. In fact, the fundamentals of how to market a book really aren’t that bad! The trick is to understand what actually works, and which common suggestions are just wasting your time and money. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the 5 key things you’ll want to get right before you launch.

1. Commission a cover that sells


There’s no getting around it: your cover is a powerful marketing tool. It’s the first thing most people see, and the single biggest way to get someone to go “ooh, that looks cool!” in a sea of Amazon search results.
A great cover is a work of art, but that doesn’t mean they’re created in a vacuum. Effective covers all share several key elements that make them truly “work,” such as:
  • A clean, striking font that is readable at thumbnail size
  • Artwork and design in line with the covers of bestsellers in your genre
  • A clear sense of the book’s tone
  • Appropriate balance of the various cover elements (title, images, author name, etc.)

If that seems like a lot to juggle, don’t worry; you don’t need to try to make the cover yourself. In fact, unless you’re already a graphic designer branching out into writing, you probably shouldn’t.
Luckily, there are more than enough cover designers out there who are fit for the job and your budget. When browsing their portfolios, make sure to consider not only the quality of the work itself, but whether they work in your book’s genre. While a good cover designer should be able to study a new genre and create something fitting, it will save them time (and save you money) if you choose someone who’s already comfortable in the style you’ll be asking them to convey.

2. Nail your book’s description


Once you’ve gotten them to click on your gorgeous cover, the next thing readers are going to do is read the book’s description. After all, they’ve gotten some sense that this is a book they’ll like, and now they’re looking to either confirm or deny it. This is the moment of truth, so it’s crucial that you get it right.
To craft your book description, try to go back to the core of what excited you when you first started writing the book. Was it the characters? The wildly inventive world? A plot with a twist that took your breath away? Chances are, whatever compelled you to write the book is likely going to be a hook you can use to snare readers’ attention, too. 
Identifying this draw will also help you identify the central promise that your book makes to the readers. It’s those two things — the hook and the promise — that you’ll want to build your description around, as these are elements that make books irresistible to readers.

3. Choose your Amazon categories wisely


If there’s one marketing technique that new authors fail to maximize, it’s this. So many people don’t even consider their categories until they go to upload their book, and by then they’re so exhausted by the publishing process that they don’t necessarily do a good job.
I mean, I get it. You know your book’s genre the whole time you’re writing it, so surely picking a category is just a matter of finding that genre on Amazon’s list… right?
Not exactly. For one thing, there’s an abundance of subgenres in there to choose from — a lot more than you’d think, if you’ve never sat down and browsed them before. You might know you’re writing a fantasy, but is it sword & sorcery, alternate history, or dark fantasy? Is it a coming of age? Does it feature dragons and magical creatures? It is an Arthurian fantasy, a military fantasy, or a romantic fantasy?
This is just a small sampling of the many ways your book can be categorized on Amazon. Each of these categories has a different number of titles to compete with, and each of them also has a different number of fans that you’re all vying for — the trick is to find that “sweet spot” where there’s a lot of interest, but not as much competition.

Of course, you don’t want to lie and misfile your book just because it’s an easy category in which to climb the ranks. That isn’t fair to people who are actually writing in that subgenre — and ultimately won’t help you either, once reviewers start complaining that your book isn’t what it claims to be.
But there may easily be multiple categories that can apply to your book (say, a coming-of-age romantic fantasy about dragons). You’ll want to pick the ones that provide you with the best chance of success, while remaining truthful to what the book is.

4. Gather early reviews 


When it comes to reviews, there really is no such thing as too early. Well, okay — you shouldn’t be trying to get people to leave you a review before you’ve even written the book, but so long as you have a complete story that is at least 95% the same as it will be on release day, there’s no reason to hold back!
Putting together an early review copy of your book really isn’t significantly different than creating a final version. Just be sure to label it as an advanced proof, and make sure that anyone who’s reviewing it knows it’s still subject to a few changes. Then just start reaching out to people. Whether you approach book bloggers, try to form a street team, or use an editorial review service, there are plenty of readers ready and eager for a free copy of a pre-release book.
And if you’ve never seriously considered preorders before, now’s the time. Preorders will not only allow early reviewers the ability to post reviews before release day, but they’ll also give you time to adjust your description and Amazon categories to see what works best for your audience, effectively raising your sales rank before your book has even launched. It’s a single action that packs a triple-combo marketing punch.

5. Prepare your author mailing list 


Selling your book is great, but you know what’s even better? Ensuring that you’ll be able to sell those same readers your next book as well.
Enter the author mailing list, easily one of the most valuable tools in your marketing arsenal. Why? Because it provides access to your previous readers with minimal additional effort, so you can spend most of your time reaching out to new readers. You can then add these readers to your mailing list, so that they’re already taken care of when your next book comes out, and you can spend your time reaching even more readers. It’s snowball marketing, constantly adding to your reader base as you charge ahead.
That said, simply having the mailing list isn’t going to cut it. To properly utilize the marketing power of this approach, you’ll need to make sure that enough readers want to actually sign up!
To that end, you should create a “reader magnet” — essentially, a free sample of your work that serves to a) entice new readers to give you a try, and b) reward loyal readers for their dedication to your work. This can take the form of a free chapter (or several, if you’re trying to get people interested in multiple books at once), a short story, or even a whole book.
Then it’s just a matter of getting the word out! Be sure to mention the reader magnet everywhere you link to your mailing list, such as all your social media profiles, as well as the front and back matter of your books.

And there you have it! By putting in just a little marketing time at the launch of your book, you’ll lay the foundation for healthy, sustainable book sales, which will ultimately free up time to do the next important part: writing the sequel.





Jenn Gott is an indie author and a writer with Reedsy, a platform that connects authors with the world's best publishing resources and professionals. In other words, Jenn basically spends all her time either writing books or helping people learn how to write books! She firmly believes there is no writing skill you cannot learn with practice and the right guidance.

Tuesday, 31 March 2020

Interview With Author Jonathan Fortin

I have a real treat today with an interview with author dark fantasy and horror Jonathan Fortin. Enjoy!

Interview With Jonathan Fortin




Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

My name is Jonathan Fortin, and I’ve just come out with my first published novel: Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus. I won HorrorAddicts.net’s Next Great Horror Writer Contest in 2017, attended Clarion Writing Program in 2012, and graduated summa cum laude from San Francisco State University in 2011. I’m a native of the San Francisco Bay Area, California, and love all things dark and Gothic.


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus is a Dark Fantasy novel about a woman in Victorian England who becomes a succubus, and must battle both a devilish new monarchy and her own repressed upbringing. It’s the first chapter in an epic Gothic saga, being published by Crystal Lake Publishing.


How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I’ve been writing more or less all my life. I wrote children’s books in elementary school and completed my first (embarrassing) novel trilogy in middle school. Lilitu is my first published novel. I have about a dozen short stories published prior to this, some of which are available as ebooks, such as Requiem in Frost (HorrorAddicts.net) and Nightmarescape (Mocha Memoirs Press).


Do you have a favourite character? If so, why?
I’m very fond of Maraina Blackwood, the protagonist of Lilitu, because she’s extremely dynamic and has a very complicated arc. Maraina is a rebellious young Victorian woman who becomes a succubus in the wake of a demonic uprising, leaving her torn between the teachings of her youth and her desire to survive. Determined to make things right, Maraina seeks to end the demonic rule over England, but learns that doing so will mean seducing one of Hell's most wicked demons—and embracing a side of herself she was always forced to repress. Lilitu chronicles Maraina’s emotional transformation from a frightened Victorian girl into a powerful succubus warrior, hell-bent on overthrowing an empire. Through her, Lilitu fashions a heroine from an archetype long demonized: that of the seductress who takes control of her own sexuality.


What do you enjoy most about writing in the Dark Fantasy genre?

Fantasy and Horror have always been my two favorite genres, and Dark Fantasy combines elements of both—mixing the sprawling scale and magic of fantasy with the dark atmosphere and nihilistic tone of horror. Another thing I like, though, is that fantasy in general usually mixes together many different genres. You’ll probably have at least one epic battle in there, but there may very well also be a romantic sub-plot, ongoing mysteries, and horrifying monsters. My interest is in how these genres combine with each other. A streak of comedy or a compelling love story can do wonders to make you care about the characters because you’re laughing with them, falling in love with them, hoping that they can find happiness against all odds. So when things get dramatic later on, it hits harder. The horror is scarier. The tragedy is sadder. The battles are more emotionally intense.

That said, juggling so many genres is a very tough balancing act. Not only do you have to make sure the tone feels consistent, you also have to successfully pull off every single one of those genres on their own terms. If you have a romantic sub-plot, it can’t be boring. If the reader feels like their time (or the character’s time) is being wasted, it’s no good. Similarly, ongoing mysteries need enough development and seeding that their eventual reveals will carry weight, and not just feel like deus ex machinas. Dark Fantasy can also be particularly tricky to get right because Fantasy often features characters with some form of magical powers, and Horror focuses on disempowering the characters as much as possible. So you really need to make sure that your characters remain helpless and vulnerable no matter what magic they have on their side. So Dark Fantasy is a very tricky genre to do well, which makes it all the more rewarding when an author pulls it off.


Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I wrote Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus because I was frustrated about the lack of serious succubus fiction out there. I felt that the world needed a book that used succubi and incubi to explore issues of gender/sexuality, a book where they actually had wings and entered dreams and generally possessed the dark mystique that they command in the folklore.


What advice would you give beginning writers?


Be persistent. Making it in this business is mostly about not giving up. You’re going to be rejected a lot, and that’s okay. The first draft is going to be garbage, and that’s okay, too. Workshop what you write with writer friends who you trust to be honest, and accept that it’s better for them to pull it apart now, so that you can fix it. Recognize that even when people complain about some things, there will still be other things in there that are wonderful and amazing—scenes and passages that move you and everyone else. Recognize that in later drafts you may have to cut those things out to fit with the bigger adjustments. Recognize that anytime anyone says “This isn’t good enough,” all it means is, “This isn’t ready yet.” Practice the bafflingly difficult art of self-compassion. Don’t listen to the critic on your shoulder telling you that you suck. Just put in the time to write, suck up your anxiety about showing it to anyone, and tell the stories you dream of telling.


What do you like to do when you're not writing? Any hobbies?

In addition to writing, I am a trained, working voice actor. I’ve been studying at Voicetrax, a school in Sausalito, for the past four years, and have a few small credits under my belt.


Are you working on another book?

Yes, several. I am currently working on the next books in the Lilitu saga, as well as a horror novel with a protagonist who is on the autistic spectrum, and a Lovecraftian epic that is mostly done but needs serious editing. You can follow my endeavours at www.jonathanfortin.com/ or on Twitter @Jonathan_Fortin.



Lilitu: The Memoirs Of A Succubus is available at Amazon



Thursday, 20 February 2020

Interview with Author Francis H Powell

Today I have an author interview with Francis H Powell, who stops by to chat about his writing and his new book, Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation. Enjoy.


Interview with Francis H Powell




Why don’t you begin by sharing a little about yourself.

I am approaching 60 years old, I am married with a seven year old son and I live in Brittany.


Could you tell us a bit about your latest book?

It is called “Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation”
Set in a different time in a variety of settings and time periods, the past, the present, and the future, the book explores the inevitable unknown that lies before us all "death". Death can arrive in a multitude of forms. Each part of the book explores different themes. There are characters who following their demises have to face up to their lurid pasts. There some who face annihilation and others who are in a crazy pursuit of world destruction. The book aims to contain some ironic twists. Even as young children we build up nightmare visions of what death involves. The reader is often left to distinguish between what is real and what is not, as stories reside within stories and the storytellers can never be fully trusted. Not all the book is doom and gloom, there are Elsa Grun's bizarre encounters with men and Shellys' hapless husband Arnie.


How long have you been writing, and how many books have you published to date?

I have had two published, apart from short stories and poetry, in magazines and anthologies.


Of all the books you've written, do you have a favourite?

My first book I am obviously proud of, but my second I equally like, as it is an evolution from the first.


Why did you decide to write in the horror genre?

It is a genre that fits in well with my style.


What is the hardest part of writing horror fiction?

Writing consistently strong stories.


What do you enjoy most about writing in the horror genre?

Evil characters, in my first book, I have a character called Maggot, who sells his own daughter.


Why did you write this book? What was your inspiration?

I guess I have always been fascinated as well as fearful of death.  There is also so much gloom in the media, newspapers, and TV. It seems like we are going to be hit by some rogue planet or be attacked by extremists.


What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

I got to describe heaven, which in my story is a vast luxurious hotel.


What did you find most challenging about writing your book?

Getting the story to flow. Creating a memorable ending.


What did you hope to accomplish by publishing your book?

Too attract new readers and build up a body of work.


When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

In Paris I started writing short stories. I had some published a small magazine called Rat Mort.


Can you tell us about your writing process? Where do your ideas originate? Do you have a certain writing routine?

I have an idea, which I hope to expand. I don’t really write a definite outline, but at the same time my mind is calculating how the story will evolve. With my first book, with one of my stories, I imagined a character “Bugeyes” about a person with huge eyes and I wrote about all the misfortunes that befall this character.


What’s your next project? Any upcoming book secrets you care to reveal?

I have a project called I am the Priest Killer.


***

Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation



What if the human race was considered irrelevant and then each being was just uploaded then locked away on hard drives called "brain pods"?

What if a subspecies was to come into fruition, then the human race turned on it, hunted it down before trying to annihilate it? Imagine you found out you were an ancient soul, who is reunited with another being from your former life?

Set in a different time in a variety of settings and time periods, the past, the present, and the future, the book explores the inevitable unknown that lies before us all "death". Death can arrive in a multitude of forms. Each part of the book explores different themes. There are characters who following their demises have to face up to their lurid pasts. There some who face annihilation and others who are in a crazy pursuit of world destruction. We are living in an age in which it appears that the doomsday clock is ticking ever faster, as we teeter over the edge of world destruction. The book aims to contain some ironic twists. Even as young children we build up nightmare visions of what death involves. The reader is often left to distinguish between what is real and what is not, as stories reside within stories and the storytellers can never be fully trusted. Not all the book is doom and gloom, there are Elsa Grun's bizarre encounters with men and Shellys' hapless husband Arnie.

From secluded beach houses, to obscure motels, to visions of heaven, which takes the form of the Hotel Paradiso, to the world of the future death is always a wild adventure, that can't be ignored.


Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation is available at Amazon




Excerpt from Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation


THE MASTER’S HOUSE 
Part one

The strange goings on in the life of Amos Toft.
We had found her face down on the sand, as the tide closed in. The moon shed silvery light and there was a soft gentle offshore breeze that glanced our faces. We’d run out of our house, having seen torch light. They had left as quickly as they had arrived. There were sounds of horses, leaving at speed, shadowy figures, hooded, dressed like soldiers, soon fading into the horizon. We presumed she was dead and were relieved when she spluttered and coughed
and fought for breath.
“Let’s get her inside,” my wife said urgently. She was totally naked and had no possessions.
“Are you all right?” I demanded. She did not respond. I repeated myself again, there was just
the sound of her heavy labored breathing.
“She appears in terrible shock,” my wife said, as we helped her up. We draped one of her arms
over my wife’s shoulders while I propped the other. We struggled along the sand and then headed towards our small house, which looked over the large bay.
“What’s your name?” I asked, expecting by now she was in some kind of condition to speak.
Again no response, her eyes were fixed on the ground, she made no attempt to speak. We got her back to the house and sat her down on a couch.
What had happened? Why had she been left naked on the sand, as the tide came
in? What was going through her mind? My wife got a towel and offered it to her to clean her and cover her naked body.
“She will have to stay the night, it is late, at least she will be safe here,” my wife said before searching for some clothes. I hardly dared not look at her. She was evidently young, very beautiful, with long flaxen hair that cascaded down her back.



About the Author



Born in 1961, in Reading, England Francis H Powell attended Art Schools, receiving a degree in painting and an MA in printmaking. In 1995, Powell moved to Austria, teaching English as a foreign language while pursuing his varied artistic interests adding music and writing. He currently lives in Brittany, teaching English and history while writing both prose and poetry. Powell has published short stories in the magazine, “Rat Mort” and other works on the internet site "Multi-dimensions." His first was called “Flight of Destiny” while his most recent is called “Adventures of Death, Reincarnation and Annihilation.”




Saturday, 15 February 2020

Book Spotlight: Chawlgirl Rising

Today, I bring you another book spotlight, this time for science fiction with the novel, Chawlgirl Rising by Tim Young. Enjoy.



Chawlgirl Rising by Tim Young




Every time he shut off a city’s supply of food and water and doomed its citizens to starvation, Lucas Seraph thought he was doing the right thing. In the Indus Hegemony of 2118 AD few resources remain, and only the iron rule of the Hegemony’s sadistic leader Ju-Long Ng stands in the way of society’s collapse. But Lucas chafes at Ng’s cruelty and his wife’s devotion to the Hegemony, and when he clashes with Ginevra, the scarred but beautiful leader of a shadowy resistance against the Hegemony, his faith in Ng’s vision for humanity’s survival is shattered.

Ordered to eliminate the rebels, Lucas instead discovers Ng’s true goal: the forced modification of every Hegemony citizen’s body to adapt to the wasted planet, and the murder of all those who cannot survive the procedure. Horrified, he joins Ginevra in a desperate search for a poor girl from the slums named Shakti who escaped Ng’s experiments and holds the key to toppling the Hegemony somewhere in her damaged mind.

Yet Shakti has been hunting Lucas as well, and may be the avatar of a Hindu god who’s chosen him to aid her own inscrutable plan for humanity’s evolution. Caught between conflicting loyalties and despair at the suffering he’s helped cause, Lucas must choose who and what to believe in the race to stop Ng’s plan before starvation and thirst claim two billion lives. 



Chawlgirl Rising is available on Amazon






About the Author



T.K. Young’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including the Journal of Microliterature, Rosebud Magazine, and Hopewell Publications’ Best New Writing anthology. He’s the author of the flash fiction collection When We’re Afraid and once played a mean lead guitar in one of MTV’s Top 10 DC-area bands.


Subscribe Now:

Search This Blog

Monthly Pageviews