The Fated Soul Cover Process

Okay, everyone. I’m just too excited about this cover to keep it hidden anymore. I thought it would be super fun to show you all the Fated Soul cover process. I don’t know if you all know, but in a past life (or more like about five years ago), I was a graphic artist and illustrator. Now, normally, I contract out cover art because I simply don’t have the time for it. Honestly, cover art is my favorite part of publishing. I love buying premades, and I love working with artists on custom work. I’ve learned a lot about working with artists, which will be left for another post.

So, for this particular book, which is sort of a paranormal romance, I did hire an artist. In the end, I just felt that the cover didn’t fit what I wanted. Don’t get my wrong, the artist did a great job. It was more that it didn’t feel right. I’m going to use it for a tie-in story (short or novella), but I just wasn’t satisfied. I got inspired one weekend to design a cover myself. Again, I’ve done it professionally (as well as for some of my other books and stories), so it isn’t like I’m some noob.

FSoriginal

 

At any rate, I thought it would be fun to show the process. There was a lot of work and a lot of layers put into it. Starting off is the background (credited to Sirius_sdz) and the character. The BG is a combo of the same texture twice with some masking overlays. The model looks pretty red compared to the BG, but I’ll fix that later. The model is Ellena Wilcox, who was photographed by Cathleen Tarawhiti. Now, this model is gorgeous, but I did a little work to her, such as touching up the skin, lessening the stark highlights, and adding depth to her make-up and hair. Basically thinks to make her stand out.

FSstep3

 

So, here is the result of that. I brushed in some hair (mostly to cover up the areas that were too difficult to cut out from the original picture. On top of that, I played with the makeup color, too. It’s fairly subtle, so you may have to click on it to make it larger to see. You may have also noticed a small difference in the right arm (our left side).

FSstep2

 

The image I had in my head was of a girl holding an hourglass. She is an Exanimus, a keeper of the hourglasses of life. The story is catalyst is a golden, glowing hourglass. I could the perfect model, but her arm was covered. It took me hours upon hours to find the right model and then again to find the right arm (credited to Mizzd-stock). With some photoshop magic, I was able to combine them into exactly what I needed.

 

FSstep4

 

And this is why I needed the correct hand/arm. The hourglass is one that I own and took photos of. I used a bunch of layers to make it look clear. It’s not as easy as you would think! Honestly, that was one of the more difficult parts of this project. The original hourglass was completely black, so I had to do a some photoshop magic to make it look gold. Also, it didn’t have a chain, and I always imagined the character holding the hourglass by a chain.

FSstep6

 

Notice there is now a chain in there? I had to add that since I didn’t have one of my own or on the hourglass itself. Basically, I used part of a silver chain (credited to Gothicmamas-stock) and made it gold and shiny. After all of that, I made the rest of the metal glow and gave it a halo effect. There is also some sparkling that is not pictured here, but you can see it in the final version. I even added tiny specks of sand falling because the ones already there were invisible.

 

Put it all together, and you get the final product! Now, some other things not pictured above include the step where I made the model blend in with the environment. Her skin now matches the background, and she feels more in her own space. Also, I changed a few contrast settings and gave the image a dark edge on the bottom. It’s probably not even noticeable, but I also gave her arm and waist a glow.

FSfinal

I do have the typography completed and all of that, but I’m saving that for an official reveal later on when I have a blurb that can go with it. Fated Soul is set to come out in September, and I’m so excited.

Work in Progress

I thought it would be fun to discuss my current work in progress and share some of the problems and successes I’m having with it. If you are wondering about the project I hinted about before (the one with the mermaids), don’t worry. I’ll be working on that one next. It had to be delayed for this current project because I couldn’t get this one out of my mind. I know, I know. Not the best way to determine what to write and when, but it was one of those stories that just wouldn’t leave me alone. I noticed I write much faster with stories like that.

My current work in progress has a working title of Sands of Fate. In the end, it will have a different title, but I’m the type who needs a title before I can start a project. “Untitled YA Paranormal Romance” just doesn’t cut it for me. That was actually the first place I struggled. Finding the right title is a big deal for me, but a placeholder title works okay for now. (Did you know that Land of No Angels started out as a working title and just happened to become the final version?)

This particular story has a strong theme of breaking free from an oppressive mold to do what is right. It also has a lot to do with death and coming to terms with it. Challenging our role in life and a lot of other things. Sands of Fate is still a paranormal romance, which is a huge change (and challenge) for me, and has a main character from late nineteenth century France who is now living in modern time. This has caused me a lot of headache. This character has watched people from all over the world since her death in 1906. So, she knows about a lot of modern things. How do I balance her original life between her modern one?

Honestly, I’m not sure. It’s tough for me to properly give her a voice. It can’t be a modern one, but how historical should it be? Balancing between a teenager who is out of place, but influenced by, the modern world is the key. I don’t know that I can really use things like having her require a chaperone when being alone around guys. Because of this character’s job, she has been alone around guys plenty of times. Her customs have been diluted by her job, so it wouldn’t make sense to have her insist on them.

One thing I have done is to have her interact with technology. Of course, that’s easy. It’s also fun to write about! On the other hand, there are questions that will come up: how can she understand English (Answer: her job)? If she doesn’t have parents, will people notice (yes, and it gets awkward!)? Will she have to go to school during her time on earth (no…that would be a different story)?  If you can’t tell, this story can get a bit complicated.

The last thing that I’ve had to think about is the character’s name. The idea for this story originated from an ink drawing I did a long time ago. It was of a girl-like creature who carried around an hourglass on a chain. The hourglass represented someone’s life. When I originally drew the picture, I named her Maeva. This is one of the reasons she became a French girl… But I quickly realized that this name wasn’t exactly used during the time in which she was born (1890). So, I went on a hunt for popular names of the time. The two I ended up with are Odette and Adélaïde. And now I can’t decide between the two. What do you all think?

July 15, 2014

Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight

So, Ebook Escapes has me on their Weekend Spotlight today in which I speak about the origin of Land of No Angels. You can also learn 5 fun facts about me, too!  It was really fun reminiscing about the behind the scenes of Land of No Angels. Interestingly enough, I was recently going through old blog posts, trying to find the old Dragon Dictate post, when I stumbled upon a bunch of really great entries I had written while earning my Master’s degree. For those who don’t know, I wrote Land of No Angels as part of my thesis project. Seeing these old posts made me think that my new readers would probably like to see some interesting thoughts and challenges I had while writing the first book in the  Dark Ascension Series. Below, I have linked to several entries that would be worth reading. Also, you should absolutely check out Ebook Escapes Weekend Spotlight. I’m not the only one there, and you might find another great author.

 

Researching the Post Apocalyptic World

Planning for the Apocalypse

What I Learned from the First Draft of My Thesis

Details, Details, Details

 

The interesting thing is that a lot of my thoughts on drafting, outlining, and even revising have changed dramatically since I wrote this book. There are still issues, of course, such as the fact that I still struggle with focus, but I have learned a lot about my own writing and the methods in which I complete the task of storytelling.

Win a Free Kindle Fire

I have some really exciting news! A bunch of awesome authors and I are sponsoring a giveaway, from which you can win a free kindle fire. Isn’t that awesome? So, if you want to win a free kindle fire, then I suggest you read this post and join via the Rafflecoptor at the bottom of this post. Before you go do that, though, you should check out a special guest and author of Soul Taken, Katlyn Duncan.

soulTakenSoul Taken

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After-life just got a lot more complicated

Maggie is a Soul Collector. It’s her job to transport souls from the Living Realm to the After – but during a mission to New England to find a stolen soul, she ends up stuck in a teen mean girl’s body.

Trapped, Maggie’s soul is catapulted into Ally’s life – and the human world she hasn’t experienced for one hundred years. But, as a descendant of the most powerful beings in the After, Maggie must rescue Ally before the girl’s soul dies…

To survive, Maggie must uncover devastating secrets – because with one soul taken by a terrifying enemy, Maggie’s could be next!

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Dragon Dictate Revisited

I’ve spoken about dictation software before in a previous post called Dragon Dictate and No Hands Writing, but I wanted to write an update because I have since upgraded to Dragon Dictate 3. Lately, I’ve been having some nasty pain in my hands and wrists, which are shooting up to about my elbow, so I pulled out my old copy of Dictate and thought I’d download it on my computer (it’s only about a year old). Yes, that’s how long it has been since needing to use Dragon.

Quickly, I discovered that DD2 was not entirely compatible with my current computer, and it was a pain to try to get access to the registration and serial number. So, after searching ebay for about two seconds, I found copies of DD3 were pretty cheap now with 4 just coming out. It was also compatible with my OS. Victory! I bought that like it was TP in the Apocalypse.

For the most part, some of the same issues from my previous review of the product have not changed at all. For example, certain things will NOT correct automatically, no matter how many times I try. In my current WIP, my MC lives in a place called Cava. I’ve tried training Dragon to type it right about 15 times and every time it messed it up differently. I’m only in the outline stage, too, so I can imagine this will bug me worse in the drafting stage. I almost threw a fit when it wouldn’t write my MC’s name. It’s Maeva. Not Maeve. Not “may have.”  Not “Maeve a.” THAT one was unacceptable. It’s the MC’s name. I can’t correct it every time otherwise it could be a LOT of correcting. Thankfully, Dragon was able to figure it out, and I haven’t had a problem since.

I have, however, found that the accuracy of everything else has improved greatly. I don’t think I’ve seen a single mistake that I didn’t caused myself. Huge improvement from when I used DD2. The other amazing news is that it works perfectly with Scrivener now. I’m not sure if it’s a combo of the two programs being updated or what, but I can now dictate directly in Scrivener without issue. It’s pretty fast, too. I did notice, however, that Dragon doesn’t like when I try to dictate directly in WordPress for blog posts. It works, and it’s really not THAT bad, but deleting is a pain because it deletes way more than whatever I had just written. Not a big deal, just a quirk that reminded me of DD2′s issues with Scrivener.

Finally, I’ve found that dictating for outlining is EXCELLENT. I outline heavily, and I can write between 50-200 more words on average in a 30 minute period, depending on how much thinking the scene requires. As I get back into the habit, it will probably get even higher. I’m not convinced that I will dictate directly from my brain to the page when it comes to writing the first draft, though, because the sentences come out clunky. But dictating is wonderful for my outlines. I can get out a lot more of my ideas without pain and with little effort. For the first draft, I will probably use a combo of writing by hand and dictating, if my wrists will allow it.

All in all, I’m so excited to get back into using Dragon Dictate. I think it’s going to make outlining a cinch and help my wrists heal. If you have health issues and typing for long periods of time really cause you pain, then I suggest trying it out. For those of you who have tried it or actively use Dragon, how do you like it and in what ways do you use it?

 

Getting Personal… The San Diego Fires

fireI don’t usually get this personal, but I felt like I needed to write about this… maybe to appease my own fears. Many people may have already heard that, yet again, San Diego is on fire. Why does this matter to me at all? Well, I grew up in SD, particularly I small-ish city in the middle of the county called Poway. For those of you who heard about the fire in Rancho Bernardo, I went to school at RB High, which is right next to where I lived and my family still lives.

Don’t worry, they are fine and haven’t been evacuated, nor are they even worried about anything like that. It doesn’t make anything less scary, though.

There’s fire in Carlsbad… which is where I worked only a few years ago. And, of course, the fire in San Marcos… where I went to junior college and even met met my husband. It’s just crazy.

I remember some years ago that the fires were so bad that people were asked to stay inside to avoid smoke inhalation. We were also encouraged to spend time in our cars or other places with filtered air. It was THAT bad. I also remember the one year my family and I had been dangerously close to being evacuated. Behind our neighborhood is a series of small mountains (bigger than hills, but not huge mountains). I was coming home from work, and I could see an orange glow creeping over the hilltops. Smoke billowed from the top and filled an already dense, gray sky. Thankfully, the fire still had to burn through the second set of smaller mountains behind us, so we had plenty time and security… but anyone who has lived in a place with fires of this nature can tell you that they have the uncanny ability to become deadly within minutes.

I remember a family friend’s entire house burned down… and some of the houses in this area are worth millions of dollars… but the kicker was that the fire fighters had literally been in front of the house when the family was evacuated. The fighters must have been called away or the direction had changed. But the result was heart-breaking.

I mentioned on twitter that fires are a lot like tornados. There are cases when a fire will burn every house on the block to the ground, but one will be left almost untouched. Fire can burn and grow at a rate that is impossible to predict or even comprehend. The aftermath can be absolutely gut-wrenching and tear-worthy. I remember one time, my mother took me and my siblings to check a couple of neighborhoods where my siblings’ friends lived because they had been evacuated and didn’t even know if their houses were still there.

This is one of many, MANY reasons my husband and I left California. A small reason, but it still was a reason. The ironic thing, though, is that we moved to the Midwest. Yep. Right into tornados. However, where we live now hasn’t had a tornado directly hit in a very, very, VERY long time. Sadly, there are very few places that are complete devoid of natural disasters in this country.

I guess I’m done rambling about this. Also, I feel a lot calmer, too.

Guest Post: V.J. Chambers Compelled

I have a really awesome guest today! V.J. Chambers is one of my writer idols. She’s an amazing storyteller and an awesome lady. There’s this killer book set she has out today called Compelled. It contains EIGHT complete books for $0.99! Isn’t that amazing? I’m not talking short stories here, guys. I mean full-blown novels of epic proportions. (Okay, maybe the books themselves are epic, but I’m exaggerating on how huge they are. lol) Also, the box set includes the first book in my two favorite V.J. Chambers series: Dancing Days (The Helicon Muses) and Breathless (Jason and Azazel). I also highly recommend Out of Heaven’s Grasp, which is another one of my favs. So, pick this box set up ASAP because it’s great and so is V.J Chambers.

 

boxedsetsmBuy it Now, $0.99 for Eight Complete Novels

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COMPELLED: a V. J. Chambers collection

Eight complete novels for only $0.99!! (You save $19.)

Dark. Raw. Provocative. Sexy. Tortured.

Are you ready to go to the edge?

In a V. J. Chambers story, love is searing… but it cannot be resisted. Stakes are high. Danger is imminent. Morality is gray. And characters aren’t perfect.

Read the first books in five different series. And get three standalone novels as a bonus!

For $0.99, you get:

Vigil (Standalone): NA Superhero Romance
A journalist intern finds herself falling for a mysterious, sexy masked man, but then discovers his secret identity is a rich playboy—who she hates.

Out of Heaven’s Grasp (Standalone): NA Contemporary about a polygamous cult
A young couple is torn apart by the elders in their strict polygamous community and must find their way back together.

The Killing Moon (Cole and Dana #1): Werewolf Urban Fantasy
When rehabilitated werewolves go astray and kill again, a tracker seeks insight from a man to whom she is perversely attracted—the werewolf serial killer who nearly murdered her.

Slow Burn (Assassins #1): NA Romantic Thriller
A college junior, in hiding from a corrupt shadow wing of an arms corporation, finds herself saddled with a restrained, no-nonsense bodyguard—who also happens to be jaw-droppingly gorgeous.

Frenzy (Standalone): NA Romantic Thriller
A college freshman moves into a dead girl’s dorm room and finds herself thrust into a murder mystery, owing money to the biggest ecstasy cook this side of the Atlantic, and involved with an attractive drug dealer with a secret.

Breathless (Jason and Azazel #1): YA Paranormal
A mysterious boy races into a teenage girl’s life—and soon she must choose between this boy and everyone she’s ever trusted.

Dancing Days (The Helicon Muses #1): YA Portal Fantasy
Fifteen-year-old Nora Sparrow has always relied on Owen to protect her and get her back to her home, Helicon land of the muses. But when they make it there, Owen’s protectiveness begins to seem… obsessive.

The Toil and Trouble Trilogy, Book One: YA Urban Fantasy
A young girl struggles to take over as boss of her mob family—while questioning the truth about her mother’s death.

Buy it Now, $0.99 for Eight Complete Novels

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Guest Cover Reveal: Relinquish

We have another great author here on today’s blog. Amy Thompson is the author of the Lost Souls series and is ready to reveal a beautiful book cover for the second book in the series, Relinquish. Check it out!

RELINQUISH(1)Relinquish (Lost Souls #2)

Regan had a life in Georgia. She was going to school, managed to make some friends, and even found a new love interest in Colter. So what happens when she can’t hide what she is anymore? When do all the lies become too much to handle? And how much longer can she hold onto her sanity, when Agro pushes her closer and closer to the edge of no return, her ascension to Elite?

Colter is beautifully oblivious. Wanting so much to believe that Regan is safe and Agro was halted, he ignores Finn’s constant skepticism at the risk of their friendship. Ignoring what is so clearly right in front of him, Colter passes off Regan’s outbursts of emotion on her recent trauma. Colter can feel Regan, his one exception to his retribution, slipping out of his arms, but fighting her to stay with him may not be an option.

With Colter and Finn at odds, and the newly formed alliance between Kaiden and Exile Max, will this group of Collectors be enough to fight off the new enemies and old threats that emerge in the battle for souls when Regan is broken and their group is on the brink of self-destruction?

The lost will be found, the Collectors will be exiled, and the Elites will reign.

 

amyThompsonAuthor Bio

Amy Thompson graduated from Randolph-Macon College with her B.S. in Biology. She currently works as a high school mentor and has just earned her M.S. in Higher Education from Drexel University. Amy is a self-published author of Retribution, a new adult paranormal romance novel that is the first in the Lost Souls trilogy. She lives in Southern Virginia with her family and two lazy cats. Amy Thompson is currently working on the next book in the Lost Souls trilogy, Relinquish and continues to be an avid reader of all things books.

 

Author/Book Pages
Website: http://amyrthompson.wix.com/author-amy-thompson
Goodreads Page for Relinquish: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21846685-relinquish
Goodreads Page for Retribution: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16170719-retribution
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Amy-R-Thompson/127480004100347

Live Links for Retribution (Lost Souls #1):
Barnes and Noble (Nook Book):
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/retribution-amy-thompson/1115716599?ean=2940016653495

Amazon (Paperback):
http://www.amazon.com/Retribution-Lost-Souls-Volume-1/dp/0615734847/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1371660591&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=amy+thompson+Retribution

Amazon Kindle (eBook):
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00DJA6FPC

Smashwords (eBook):
https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/327433

Guest Post: Fractured Truth Blog Tour

 

It’s finally here!

Fractured Truth, the final novel in the paranormal, YA Fractured Light trilogy, was just released! Follow the blog tour to find out more about Fractured Truth and enter below for a chance to a signed copy or a $25 Amazon gift card!


Llona is determined to end the fight with the Vykens once and for all. All she needs is to find and destroy the Shadow—the ultimate source of dark power. But when she makes a startling discovery about someone she loves, Llona has to fight the toughest battle yet in this exciting conclusion to the Fractured Light series.
 
Buy Fractured Truth
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Contact Author 
Website     |     Blog     |     Facebook     |     Twitter
 
Click the pictures below to find out more about Fractured Light and Fractured Soul, book one and book two. 

 

Click here to sign up for the Giveaway!

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Light-Rachel-McClellan/dp/1599559420/ref=la_B005RFFM9M_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396458040&sr=1-2

http://www.amazon.com/Fractured-Soul-Rachel-McClellan/dp/1462111807/ref=la_B005RFFM9M_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1396458040&sr=1-3

Special Guest: Yasmin Shiraz

On today’s blog, we have a special guest: Yasmin Shiraz! Her newest book, Accused, is the sequel to Retaliation, which is a gritty young adult novel. Here is a little bit about the novel:

 

Accused-CoverAn easier and more peaceful life seemed to be destined for Ahmed and Tashera when they left Washington, DC and entered Georgia Atlantic University. But when Ahmed is accused of a crime that he didn’t commit and begins to be tried in the media, his popularity plummets, his self-esteem suffers, and his dreams of playing college basketball disappear.

Meanwhile, there is a serial rapist on campus who has been attacking freshman girls at record numbers and forcing them to keep silent. As Tashera learns about the girls, she begins to close in on the rapist. But is the attacker too crafty to be caught? Will the state prosecutor ignore key evidence to instead focus on the fame that comes with convicting a high profile basketball star?

Tashera is beyond stressed as she divides her time between trying to find enough evidence to clear Ahmed while at the same time stopping the rapist who roams the campus of Georgia Atlantic. Ahmed and Tashera’s journey into a new life away from home is more challenging than they ever thought that it would be.

 

I quested Yasmin with explaining what her main character, Taresha, would choose in her Apocalypse Survival Arsenal. Here’s what she said:

 

Bottled Water – an unlimited supply that has been stashed someone safe like under a house.

Dried Fruit – especially dried apple and bananas. She wants to maintain her regularity and get some potassium.

An All – Weather Jacket & Pants – Tashera hates being cold.

Flashlight – Never know when there will be no lights. Plus Tashera may way to find other people who need her help.

Tent – Just in case all the houses have been destroyed, she’ll like to sleep in a tent.

Astronaut Food – Tashera is totally up for trying new food. She’s as tough as any astronaut.

Matches – She’s a total girl scout and could rub two pieces of wood together, but she doesn’t want to show off and would also like to use matches.

Hiking Boots – She likes protecting her feet.

Wool Socks – Keep your feet warm and dry.

Sleeping Bag – In case she sleeps outside, she wants to be warm.

Sunscreen – She wants to protect her great skin.

Sat Phone – She wants to be able to call people or be called in case she is needed.

Hat with a Brim and a string – Wants to protect her head from bugs, or protect her skin from the sun.

Bottle of aspirin – Just in case she has an ache.

A swiss army knife – She used to carry a switchblade as a tool for self-defense, she prefers the swiss army knife now for survival.

Lip balm – She doesn’t like chafed, chapped lips.

Pink Nail polish – She wants to remember what it was like to be a carefree girl every now and then.

The Bible – Since it’s the apocalypse, I guess Tashera will need to pray! She wants to learn about the miracles just in case one happens during the apocalypse.

 

YasHBD2013

 

Yasmin Shiraz is the author of The Blueprint for My Girls as well as The Blueprint for My Girls in Love. She is an empowerment speaker and program developer who has delivered programs and keynotes based on her books.

She is the author of the ALA’s Top Ten Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection, Retaliation. She has spoken at over 100 colleges nationwide on topics such as empowerment, black history and hip hop culture.

She is an award winning film director as her film, Can She Be Saved? won 4 film awards including Best New film.

When not writing books, she produces documentaries for her company, Still Eye Rise Films.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads  | Google +

 

Accused-Banner

 

Resources from Write the Dream

I had the greatest time speaking at the Write the Dream conference today! My topics were about Cover Art and Layout & Design. The attendees had some awesome questions, and it was wonderful to meet everyone. As I mentioned to everyone, I have compiled a huge list of resources for both of the topics I spoke about. You can find the pages they are on linked below. If you attended the conference and gave me your email address, I will also send it to your personal email. And finally, if you have any questions regarding anything we discussed in the session, (or any other topic) please feel free to contact me through the contact page!

 

Cover Art Resources

 

Layout & Design Resources

 

I hope to see you all publishing in the near future! Good luck!

 

 

March 8, 2014

Write the Dream Conference

Coming up in March, the Write the Dream conference is happening in Kansas City. If you have always wanted to write a book or you are interested in getting your book in the hands of readers, then this conference is perfect for you. I’ll be there talking about covers and formatting, but there are tons of other authors who will be there to share their wealth of information. There is still time to register, so don’t miss this awesome event.

Write the Dream

Next Project Hints

undineAtSeaSo, I’ve been sending links to images that hint at the subject of my next young adult novel project. It will be a stand alone novel, which I know is a risk. As I work on it, I’ve been inspired by two of my favorite artists: Arthur Rackham and John William Waterhouse.

undineCrystalVaultThe first piece of inspiration is the story and art of Undine, illustrated by Arthur Rackham. He is a well-known artist who illustrated books like Undine and Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland. He is also known for fantastical and whimsical illustrations of the fae folk as well as fairy tales. His artwork reminds me of the ocean, and it is magical. This particular story, Undine, is about a water nymph who is taken in by a fisherman and his wife. She wishes to gain a soul, but in order to do so, she must marry a human. It’s considered a romantic fairy tale of sorts.

 

waterhouseMermaid

After Arthur Rackham, I am also drawing inspiration from John William Waterhouse. I enjoy his artwork so much that I even tried to replicate this particular painting during an art assignment in school. We were supposed to emulate a master painter’s work, and this mermaid was the painting I chose. I wish I could find the old painting, but it has been lost in my recent move. If I find it, though, I get a picture posted. At any rate, Waterhouse is so inspirational because he paints a lot of beautiful, flowing women and water.  (Can you sense a theme?) I love his mermaid, and the way he treats water is just so pretty. These are a couple of my favorites, but I do love Lady of Shalott and The Siren.

waterhouseMiranda

 

Another hint, and this one is really sad, but I never realized that The Prince and the Pauper was not actually a fairy tale, nor did I realize that it was written by Mark Twain. Please don’t think any less of me. I just never put two and two together. So embarrassing!

 

 

So, there are my hints and inspirations. Can you guess the subject of my next YA book yet?

 

Guest Post: Cover Reveal for Eating Sarah

Eating Sarah CoverEver since Sarah was young, all she could dream about was participating in The Hunt — a monthly event in which her people sneak into the nearby cities and villages to gather food. And in Sarah’s world, the food they feast on most is human flesh.

In the deep forests of the Rocky Mountains, Sarah lives in a community of man-eaters. With Fall ending and hunger running rampant, Sarah and her cannibalistic community are forced to change the rules of their Hunt. And with these changes come new risks. When her first Hunt ends in catastrophe, and one of her only friends is lost, Sarah is sentenced to work in the slaughter shack.

Among the dead and dying, Sarah is introduced to Troy: a man she knows she will be forced to kill. As her life crumbles around her, her feelings for Troy grow, along with the knowledge that, if anyone discovers her secret, she will find herself in his place.

With nowhere to turn, and Troy’s time running out, Sarah becomes set on leaving. But, in accordance with their laws, to leave would be to dishonor the family name and, in turn, cause their deaths. As suspicions of mutiny within the colony rise, everyone is watched and every move Sarah makes could be her last.

And then there are the bodies–the ones that are unmistakably their own, complete with missing limbs and markings that oddly look like bite marks.

Boundaries are pushed, allegiances broken, and the very question of what it means to be human is called into play.

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Now Available: Becoming the Night

I know I’ve been MIA since shortly after Halloween, but it’s because I was working really hard to get this novella out into the world before December. Well, I was successful! It ended up having a Thanksgiving release date, but I messed up. Right after I published, the holiday happened, my five-year wedding anniversary happened, and then work slammed me with two fourteen-hour shifts a week. Insanity is my middle name, though. (Actually, it’s Rhiannon… but who’s keeping track?)

The point I’m trying to make, though, is that my efforts paid off, and Becoming the Night is now ready. It really turned out well, and I’m just so proud of it. Kit is my Eponine, and it feels great to tell her story. So, without further ado, Becoming the Night!

Becoming the Night
Becoming the Night
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With exceptional strength and the ability to heal ten times faster than an average person, Kit Cartwright has never felt like a normal teenage girl. Despite her best efforts to fit in and the constant prodding into social activities from her best friend Sky, Kit keeps witnessing weird phenomena wherever she goes, which doesn’t help her feel any more normal.

One night, she and Sky are awoken to the world going to hell with monsters that fall from the sky and ravage their city. Kit must journey through the chaos to reach her father’s fortified laboratory and evade a demonic hunter who wants her to embrace her dark side and join him.

This novella is part of the Dark Ascension series and features Kit, the tragic and feisty half-demon. It spans from before the demon apocalypse to the events that took place in Land of No Mortals.

 

Now Available: Nine Levels

Nine Levels is the story that I had planned originally for a Halloween blog post. Instead, I posted a short, unedited excerpt. The story just became too big for flash fiction. It was something pretty dark that I had been inspired to write based on some fond memories I had of my teenage years during October. The short story is now available at all major retailers, so please enjoy!

Nine Levels by N.R. Wick

Nine Levels
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Kelsey and her friends are spending Halloween night at the Haunted House on Main Street, their town’s biggest spooky attraction. They visit every year, but Kelsey never seems to find the thrill that she wants. This time, she convinces the others to attempt the Nine Levels of Hell, which is rumored to be so terrifying that no one has ever made it all the way through. When one of her friends is kidnapped and another is found dead, Kelsey and her remaining comrades must escape before they are caught by a crazed chainsaw man.

**Nine Levels is a young adult short story of approximately 3,700 words or 13 pages.**

 

YA Week of Creep Giveaway Winner!

tombstones

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Halloween/Samhain on Thursday! I spent the evening teaching and gave my students a themed writing prompt. The posts were really fun to read! Because I live in an apartment, we really don’t get trick or treaters or anything like that, but it was a nice evening to watch some horror movies and relax with my Husband.

I realized that I didn’t post the winner of the Week of Creep giveaway, even though I did contact her. So, without further ado, the winner is…

Natalie E.K.

Her prizes have been sent and shipped! I want to thank everyone who participated, though! I hope you all had fun, and I’m thinking that next year, I may have a super huge giveaway with an epic grand prize… like an actual Kindle, or something. So, I hope you all will join in next year!

On a completely different note, while I wait for my editor to return the Nine Levels manuscript to me with mass amounts of corrections, I’ve been participating in NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, it’s basically a contest where writers try to complete a 50,000-word novel in one month. I’ve tried to “win” off and on for quite a long time, but never seem to reach the goal. Usually, I found excuses to stop half way through, or I’d get behind right off the bat and just ignore it the rest of the month. Terrible, really. This time, though, I’ve been keeping it somewhat to myself and just plugging along with my word goals. It’s only been two days, but I’ve reached my goals and then some. On top of that, I’ve been fairly motivated and consistent, which is probably because I’m working on a project that I know I will eventually publish. This is the first year I truly feel motivated and that I might succeed.

Let me know if you are joining NaNoWriMo and if you want to be buddies on the site!

Nine Levels Excerpt and Cover Reveal

Hi everyone! So, for this special day of Samhain (more commonly known as Halloween) I wanted to write a story based on a yearly tradition I had as a high schooler. Every year, my group of best girl friends used to go to this haunted house attraction during October called Frightmare on Market Street. Of course, this story is much more demented than what usually happened, but it was oh so fun to write even though I disturbed myself a few times. I’ve included the blurb and book cover below, and after that I thought I’d give you all a preview of the first second draft, which is currently with the editor right now. Also, don’t forget that today is the final day to enter the YA Week of Creep giveaway; the submission for it is at the bottom of this post or just click that link in front of the semicolon.

Nine Levels by N.R. Wick

 

Kelsey and her friends are spending Halloween night at the Haunted House on Main Street, their town’s biggest spooky attraction. Every year, they visit, but Kelsey never seems to find the thrill she wants. This time, she convinces the others to attempt the Nine Levels of Hell, which is rumored to be so terrifying that no one has ever made it all the way through. When one of her friends is kidnapped and another found dead, Kelsey and her remaining comrades must escape the haunted house before being caught by the chainsaw man.

 

 

 

Nine Levels (DRAFT Excerpt)

Kelsey huddled closer to her best friend, Sierra, and shivered in the limb-biting, cold night. Pale, orange light beamed down on them from the street lamp, but it didn’t provide any warmth. It was only the end of October, but the nights were already freezing. Beneath her wool-lined jacket, Kelsey’s cellphone vibrated and chirped.

“That better be them,” Sierra said through chattering teeth. “We’re almost to the front of the line.”

Kelsey glanced to her left where another three or four groups of people stood. Most of them were college girls looking for a thrill, but there was one group of guys who looked like they were a grade lower than her and Sierra. The bluish glow from her phone alerted her to a new text message from Kara that read, “C the line b there in 2.”

She texted back, “K hurry we’re @ the front.” Once it sent, she locked the screen and shoved it back into her pocket. The line moved forward, but Kelsey lingered.

“They’re close. Kara said she saw the line.”

Sierra had moved several feet forward. “Wanna meet them? I’ll hold our spot.”

“Yeah, I’ll be back.” She stepped off the curb to maneuver around the crowded sidewalk lined with people yammering about the haunted house. The Main Street haunted house was the biggest, most frightening Halloween activity in town. Even though it was advertised as a haunted “house,” it was really more like an abandoned, underground warehouse made up to look like a haunted house.

Kelsey and her friends went every year, but while her friends were screaming and running as though their life depended on it, nothing ever surprised her. One time, she faked a scream when the chainsaw guy loomed over her with his noisy prop, but in the end, she walked away with a shrug. This year was special, though. They were attempting the Nine Levels of Hell, an off-shoot of the main house that was so scary an entire varsity football team couldn’t get past level three. That was the rumor, anyway.

“Kels!” Kara called. Jeff and Cory followed behind her, as always. They followed her everywhere as if doing so would make her sleep with them. It was a well-known fact that Kara was the hottest girl in school, despite what the “popular” girls wished, with her long, slender legs and perfectly obedient hair. Not like Kelsey’s auburn curled hair that would rather puff around her head than form controlled spirals.

“Sierra’s holding our place. We’re probably next by now,” she said as she and Kara hugged.

“S’up,” Cory said. He hugged her as well, but Jeff just grunted and nodded his head.

Kelsey led the others up the line until they met Sierra, who was waiting next to a guy dressed in a black cloak. He had white and black paint on his face to make it look like a skull. In one hand, he held a plastic scythe, and the other hand rested on the thick, red cord that blocked off the entrance to the haunted house.

“See, I told you they were coming,” Sierra said to him.

“Yeah, yeah. You’re lucky it didn’t hold up the line.” He continued on with his spiel about the rules, which they had heard a million times before. At the end, he said, “If you want to try the Nine Levels of Hell, then you’ll take the right tunnel instead of the left tunnel.”

“Is it true you give us each fifty bucks if we make it all the way through the nine levels?” Cory asked from behind Kelsey, Kara, and Sierra.

The fake grim reaper rolled his eyes. “I wish people would stop spreading that rumor. No, we don’t pay you.” He unhooked the cord to allow them access to the Haunted House. Sierra grabbed Kelsey’s hand and they entered through the first door.

Just on the inside, light from the street illuminated only the front foyer. Beyond it, darkness hid the hallway. A small, neon glow of paint from somewhere within the black painted walls indicated the path that they would take. Kelsey imagined they would need to move in closer before they could see the trail more accurately.

“I think the guys should go first,” Sierra said. Her hand was already trembling in Kelsey’s.

“Agreed,” Kelsey said.

Corey stepped slightly behind Jeff’s bulking form. “What? No way.”

“I think that’s the smartest idea. The guys are way stronger than us and could totally protect us from anything scary,” Kara said in her most pouty voice. As if to solidify this fact, someone screamed from somewhere in the house. Corey didn’t look like he had changed his mind, but when Jeff grunted and pushed past the girls, he couldn’t refuse.

“Fine, but if the chainsaw guy shows up, you’re on your own,” he said.

Kara walked a step behind them with Kelsey and Sierra bringing up the rear. It wasn’t the ideal place to be, Kelsey thought, but it wasn’t as bad as being in the front. Sometimes, people in the back of the group could miss jump scares, but there was also the risk of something creeping up behind them. A roll of thunder rumbled through the darkness. Of course, it wasn’t real thunder, but the surround sound was impressive, nonetheless.

LED lights lined the edge of the floor, and Kelsey kept her eyes focused on them as they walked. They weren’t even in the main house, yet, and her body was already buzzing with adrenaline. Glow in the dark paint decorated the wall at the end of the entrance room leading to two separate paths, which Kelsey had only looked up to see when Corey asked which side they were supposed to take.

“Wasn’t it the left?” he said.

“No, dumbass. He said the right,” Sierra said.

“Are you sure?” Kara asked.

“He definitely said right,” Kelsey agreed.

“Right it is then,” Corey grumbled. He and Jeff led them through the right doorway and into a spinning corridor. It might have been just the walls spinning around them, but between being painted in black and white spirals and rhythmic flash of the strobe light, Kelsey wasn’t sure whether or not the ground was actually moving. Either way, the room made her stomach lurch.

Her friends held out their arms to maintain their balance as they crossed the corridor. A low groan echoed from behind them. Kelsey wanted to look over her shoulder to check if they were being followed, but she could barely look away from the ground in fear of seeing something too scary. The guys hopped down two stairs and disappeared around a black corner. Kara bounced on the balls of her feet toward the next room, clearly trying to be graceful as she stumbled to level herself out. While Sierra took her time transitioning from the spinning corridor to solid ground, Kelsey gratefully obliged and lingered with her.

“The scares haven’t even started and I already want to barf,” Sierra said.

After a moment, Kelsey asked, “Ready? I don’t want to be too far behind. Remember, they love to really scare people who linger.”

“Yeah.” They maneuvered around the darkened corner until they couldn’t see anything in front of them. The walls felt cool and bumpy beneath Kelsey’s fingertips. She felt around until she found another corner, which led into the next room.

The others stood a few feet inside the dimly lit room and crowded around a roped off corner. A flicker of light briefly illuminated the room to reveal ghastly corpses adorned with white gauze and bloody paint. Thunder crashed above their heads. The girls screamed, which made the guys laugh.

“This is the first level of Hell?” Corey said with a scoff. “It’ll be a piece of cake. If they’re all like this.”

“They get scary each level,” Kelsey said. She looked around the room to get a better idea of the potential scares.

The center of the room was clear while all corners had been roped off. The left corner next to her and her friends had the ghouls, some of which were clawing their way out from graves. Others leaned against the wall or headstones. One in particular reached out to them, its skeletal face was frozen in agony. It looked much more detailed than Kelsey had seen in previous years.

The group moved to the back of the room where a doorway led to the next section. In the corners on either side, more of the white billowed around the walls. There didn’t seem to be any ghouls in either of them. Kelsey stared at the left side, hoping to find something no one else had. Lightning flashed again. For a moment, she thought there had been a shadow behind the gauze. When a second flicker of light lit the room, though, Kelsey saw nothing.

Kara backed away toward the door. “Let’s go before—” She shrieked as a pair of arms grabbed her from within the darkness of the doorway. The ghoulish arms wrapped around her chest and waist and pulled her into the black emptiness. Kelsey and the others screamed, but she had disappeared before they could react.

 

Want to read more? Look for the eBook coming soon!

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Five PG-13 Movies on Netflix to Watch for Halloween

If you are like me and don’t have cable (I know, right?), then you might be left trying to find decent, pg-13 rated movies to watch on Halloween. Well, the choices are not as numerous as the rated R counterparts, but there are a few really great one that are appropriate for the teen, young adult, and even adult crowd. So you don’t have to track them down yourself, I thought I’d list the better ones… or at least my favorites.

 

The PossessionThe Possession – This is a pretty cool movie. A bit different than most horror movies where there is Jewish lore involved rather than Christian or Pagan lore. Basically, the guy who plays John Winchester in Supernatural is the main character and is kind of distant and an almost-loser with his family. His wife is irritating and his oldest daughter is a snot, but his younger girl starts becoming possessed by this entity that had been trapped in a Pandora’s box of sorts. Pretty creeptastic and pretty cool to watch despite the awkward and somewhat dysfunctional family.

 

House at the End of the StreetHouse at the End of the Street – I know this movie catches a lot of grief, and I wonder if it’s because many people went into it thinking it was one thing, only to discover it was something else. Remove all preconceived notions about this movie and watch it. It’s actually a pretty great movie, and it has Jennifer Lawrence, who is seriously a goddess. I can’t talk too much about this without giving something away, but basically it’s pretty twisted in the end. Less supernatural and more psychological in a way. Really a good one to see.

 

The Fourth KindThe Fourth Kind – This movie is not paranormal, but it involves aliens and my girl-crush, Milla Jovovich. Usually, I’m not too into aliens (except for Falling Skies, which is a trillion times better than the Walking Dead), but this one has some psychological aspects that I really love about the supernatural. (Aliens are sort of supernatural, right?) And having grown up on X-files, this movie just sits well with me.

 

The HoleThe Hole – Okay, so The Hole is one of those almost cheesy-pie movies. If you see Keira Knightly in the movie, shut it off immediately. LOL, these may have the same name, but I assure you, the one with Keira Knightly is NOT appropriate for 13 year olds. Any way, in the correct movie, some kids find this mysterious hole in their garage, which had been practically shackled closed. The hole is never ending and begins to mess with their greatest fears. This movie is a good one but shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

 

The LangoliersThe Langoliers – This is a long one and based on the story by Stephen King. It’s also kind of old. The Langoliers is probably one of my favorite Stephen King stories and the movie is pretty good. A group of people find themselves alone on a plane and have to figure out what happened to everyone else on the plane, as well as on the ground. The premise itself is pretty cool and the impending crackle of the Langoliers and the antagonistic Mr. Toomy make for some great conflict.

 

 

Do you have any recommendations for PG-13 Halloween-type movies on Netflix?

 

Also, if you haven’t already entered to win some great prizes, do so before the end of October!

 

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YA Week of Creep Giveaway

Since I’m in the giving mood this week, I thought I’d follow suite with my adult horror pen name, Cole Knightly, and host a Week of Creep giveaway, but YA style. Samhain/Halloween is coming up and I always get overzealous with the giveaways and promos. Why? Because it’s probably my favorite holiday (next to Thanksgiving, of course). I did have another promo going on over at The 31 Days of Haloweenpalooza, but the prizes went so fast that I thought it would be good to have another one. If you missed the guest post I wrote about the most frightened I’ve ever been, you should head over to the Halloweenpalooza blog and check it out. I don’t usually share this sort of thing, but it’s something that really stayed with me. Also, I have a flash fiction post coming up on the 31st that I hope everyone will love!

Without further ado, let’s get on with the giveaway!

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