Rachael Rawlings

September 16, 2012

I have another guest post, this time from Rachael Rawlings. If you’re a fan of ghost stories and the paranormal you will want to put her on your reading list.



I would like to thank Michael for letting me stop by on my blog hop.  This is my last entry, and I have to say, it has been fun.  I feel like writing these blogs has given me a great opportunity to reflect on my own journey to becoming an author, but also has given me insights into the lives of fellow authors.  One of the most enjoyable things about the writing community is finding those like minded people who live from story to story.

I have been writing for fun since grade school, and won my first award in fourth grade for a poem I wrote.  I think that gave me the bug to begin writing, and I haven’t stopped since.

My most recent published work is Dearly Departed, part one in my Grave Reminders series.  I have completed five novels to be published by Hydra Publications, and am working on a sixth.

Dearly Departed is a mixture of a mystery and ghost story, with a bit of paranormal romance thrown in.  Although I wrote it from the viewpoint of an eighteen year old, I hope that there are other readers like me who enjoy reading the young adult novels, even if we’re a little past that stage in our own life!

The main character in the series is actually not a character at all, but a place.  Duncan Memorial Chapel is a charming little church set in a wooded cemetery within walking distance from my house.  Surrounding the Chapel are homes that date back to when the Chapel was first built, and seem as much a part of the cemetery as the Chapel itself.  I had spent many hours wondering what it would be like to live there, so close to the lovely little place, but shadowed by the idea of the cemetery spread out around it.

The second in the Grave Reminders series will also be set in the same little neighborhood surrounding the cemetery, and we will revisit some of the characters we have already met in Dearly Departed as well as introduce several new ones.  I cannot help but throw in a little romance as well, since I am definitely a romantic at heart.

At the same time, I am preparing for the release of my other novel, The Parrot Told Me, which is a departure from the paranormal genre.  In this novel, I write about a subject near and dear to my heart, African Grey Parrots.  The heroine in the story hears her adopted parrot mimicking a conversation that he has learned from his former owner.  But his former owner has tragically died, and although everyone else has accepted that it was a horrible accident, the heroine has her doubts.

Both of these novels should be released in 2013!

I invite readers to connect with me, comment, or ask questions at:

http://www.facebook.com/rachael.l.rawlings  my facebook page, and http://www.facebook.com/rachael.l.rawlings#!/pages/Rachael-Rawlings/129369250475811  my author’s page.  My book can be found at http://www.amazon.com/Dearly-Departed-Grave-Reminders-Volume/dp/0615680186/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1347582584&sr=8-1&keywords=rachael+rawlings. I am just starting a blog, and hope to link it to my Facebook page once I have it completed.

Dearly Departed

Grave Reminders Series


“You’re out late.”

His voice came, filtered through the heavy air, deep and hushed.

“So are you, I suppose.”  I tried to keep my voice as even as his.

“As always,” he replied, finally reaching the soft light of the moon.  He paused and leaned against the low stone wall, comfortably.

The moonshine was generous to his sharp features, softening them with the forgiveness of the night.  He was all angles and long lines, from the sharp blade of his nose to the golden arch of his brows.  His eyes were impossible to see, but his hands were beautiful where they rested on a moss lined stone. A heavy gold band circled his thumb, looking tarnished in the dim light.

“It’s a quiet night.”  The words that came were not the ones that I would have reasonably spoken.  This was not a conversation that had any of the norms of social interaction.

“Not so much.  The birds are complaining.  They don’t like the fog.”

I looked at him, immersed in the unreality of the scene.  “You know much about birds?”

“More about the night.  I don’t sleep much.  I tend to travel most often at night.”

That explained a little, but not nearly enough to satisfy me.

“Why here?”

“I have my own reasons.” He returned softly, no sting to his words.  “You watch.  I walk.  We all have our little ways of coping with the time.”

The conversation had little substance, but I was reluctant to leave him, even more to turn my back on him.

“Are you staying nearby?”  The questions seemed general enough.

“You assume that I’m passing through?  Yes, I am staying nearby.”  He looked away, the sound of a car’s motor seeming unusually loud.

“And you’ll keep coming back?”  My hushed voice was reverent for the people that lay there, silent in their soullessness.

“Until I find what I need.”

“And that is?”  I honestly felt that I could help him.  After years of living here, the graveyard had become my walking park, my backyard, and my pondering place.  I knew most of the names intimately, as well as the familiar faces of the mourners that came to visit them.

“I’ll know it when I see it,” he responded with a frustrating calm.


Guest Post: Rachel Hunter

September 14, 2012

Pay attention here. I have another great guest post, this time from Rachel Hunter. Trust me, you will be hearing about her and seeing her name all over the place. I just want to be the first to jump on the fan band wagon so ten years from now I can say I knew her back in the day. You will want to do the same.

Rachel Hunter has always been fascinated with words and the intricate way in which they combine. Since a child, she has been an avid writer, winding vibrant tales and elaborate stanzas on folded bits of paper. As the years passed, her love of words never died; her adoration for reading fared no equal. Always with her nose in a book, Rachel took fondly to works spanning all genres. Yet it was the compelling grasp of fantasy and science fiction that wrenched her fascination above all.

In 2007, Rachel was selected a state winner of the Minnesota Promising Young Writers Program. Accordingly, her winning poem, It All Starts with Creativity, was published in An Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans. Senior year of high school proved another momentous year. A winner of the Oklahoma Young Writers Competition, Rachel was awarded with publication of her Sestina of Elven Regret in the 2010-2011 anthology, Growing Voices. In March of 2012, Rachel published her first short story with Trestle Press, titled, Perfect Nothing, which recounted her harrowing relationship with an eating disorder and was also fueled by her passion for psychology. But her writing does not end there. While currently pursuing a degree in nursing at the University of Oklahoma, she aspires also to illuminate the creative spark of eager readers. In her desire to incite intrigue, she is exploring new worlds and creating vast empires of her own. Empyreal Fate is only the first in her Llathalan Annal series. Indeed, it is only the beginning.

Empyreal Fate Blurb:

Filled to the brim with forbidden love, an ancient evil, and a nation in disrepair, Empyreal Fate is a tale of riveting bravery and mortal corruption.

The land of Llathala lingers on the brink of war between men and elves, a dark history surrounding each race. Stirred by tensions of the land, a shadow of the past reemerges, taking precedence in reality and consuming the very soul of mans’ mortal weakness. Darrion, the son of a poor laborer, is ensnared in a hostile world, forced to choose between loyalty to his king or the counsel of the elves. Yet Fate has other plans in store, tying his course to Amarya, an elven royalblood of mysterious quality and unsurpassable beauty. But this forbidden connection incites betrayal from members of their own kin, marking them as traitors to the crown. In a land torn asunder, only Fate’s decree can allow such love to coexist with an ancient enmity.

Behold: A Llathalan Annal: Empyreal Fate – Part One.

Empyreal Fate Excerpt:

Drevan’s loins grew hot as he watched the sway of the woman’s body, and he felt the urge to see her full – to gaze upon her womanly figure and marvel at her sensitive places. It was not often he felt such appetence, and he relished it now, taking pleasure in the maddened spur that gripped him.

            He wet his lips as she flicked her bronze hair to the side and stared at the exposed flesh of her pale neck. He nearly swooned on the spot – the heat of his body intense – and had to grasp hold of the trunk to keep straight. Then, from beneath a tumbled lock, the woman’s pointed ear was revealed. Drevan caught his breath midthroat, nearly choking. He bit his tongue as reality struck a blow. This woman –
she belonged to the elves!

-–Scene from Empyreal Fate– Part One of Rachel Hunter’s Llathalan Annal series.

You can find Empyreal Fate at:

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Empyreal-Fate-Llathalan-Annal-Volume/dp/0615638589
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Empyreal-Fate-Llathalan-Rachel-Hunter/dp/0615638589

You can find our more about Rachel Hunter at:

Blog: http://www.rachel-m-hunter.blogspot.com

Website: http://www.rachel-m-hunter.yolasite.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rachel-Hunter/170131499766376
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/young_author
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Empyreal-Fate-Llathalan-Annal-ebook/dp/B007WWB24W

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5762735.Rachel_Hunter

Guest Post: Jay Noel

September 13, 2012

This is a guest post by author Jay Noel. He has a great book coming out in 2013. It’s a story that has pirates, ninjas, and samurai warriors. On top of all that it’s Steampunk. How cool is that?

Research – Love It or Hate It…I Kinda Like It.

Despite the fact that I write speculative fiction, I felt the need to do some research after the brainstorming and outlining process for my current project. I’ve set my novel in an alternative history, where steam is the main source of power. There’s a little bit of fantasy, and a whole lot of action. Although I’m essentially world building, I still wanted to base the technology and the world I was creating with reality.

I’ve always thought science fiction’s foundation comes down to one question: What If?

Research is a great way to get creative juices flowing and help shape the world you’re creating…but it should never interfere with the writing process. Well, that’s what I told myself, anyway.

I first started research steam power and the mechanics of that. Lots of fun, and I even included a basics of steampower in one of my 26 posts when I participated in the Blogging A-Z Challenge (which I did Steampunk style).

Next, I have a Jules Vernesque Nautilus in my novel, so I did some research on early and modern submarines. I also learned that I’d NEVER want to spend any time underwater in one.

I enjoy world history, and I wanted to really twist things up in my novel. My world is loosely based on the 19th century, but since it’s my world, I’ll do what I want! Going back to “What If?”, I thought: “What if the Europeans never conquered The New World?” In North America, what brought about the downfall of American Indians was their inability to unite and fight against their invaders. Not in my novel! Or “What if an empire based on the Spanish Empire became the biggest Super Power in the world?” There are definitely some very recognizable elements in my story, but with a strange fun spin on things.

I have lots of cool people in book including gunfighters, ninjas, pirates, and samurai warriors. It was a blast when it came to studying them. I wanted the reader to easily identify the characteristics of these awesome people , yet employ the fantastical at the same time. Sure, I got the urge to go buy some shuriken and throw these throwing stars into a tree, but I didn’t. Probably not a good idea. In Hollywood, ninjas wear black. I learned ninjas actually wore regular clothing when going undercover. And if they were to wear any kind of uniform, it would be navy blue. So my ninjas wear navy blue.

Overall, when it comes to doing research, writers do have to be careful. It’s so easy to get carried away. Doing research can be an excuse to not do any actual writing. That’s where outlining the novel comes in handy – I knew what elements I wanted to have in my story, so I could do just enough research to be a little dangerous. I figured that I can always go back and fill in some things. I didn’t want to go overboard with technical details.

That just seems a little boring to me. I wanted to make sure to be able to paint a vivid picture without throwing up a bunch of researched facts onto the pages of my novel. The STORY COMES FIRST, right?

Jay Noel is a one-time high school English teacher, but now works in medical sales. He’s been blogging since 2005, and has spent most of his writing career as a freelance editor. After finally gathering enough courage, he has taken the leap to writing his own work. His first novel, Dragonfly Warrior, is an Asian-inspired Steampunk story filled with pirates, ninjas, gunslingers, and samurai warriors.

They say you must write what you love, and damnit, that’s what he’s done. It will be published in early 2013 by Hydra Publications.

His novel can be found at www.jaynoel.com

Guest Post: James Peercy

September 12, 2012

I have a guest interview with the very talented James Peercy. He’s a science fiction writer and quite the poet.

James, tell us about your book.

It is called ‘Without A Conscious…’.  It is about a college student who wakes up one morning to find an envelope slipped under the door of his apartment.  As he opens the package, he sees pictures of his grandmother murdered.  A call immediately comes in with a strange voice asking ‘Where is it?’ and then hangs up.  The next thing he knows the FBI are knocking at his door.  Not only does he have to figure out who murdered his grandmother, but why, connecting it in with genocide and revenge against the United States of America.

The title came from how the main character finds his clues in the story. Cliff Fulton was taught many techniques of problem solving when he was a child by his grandmother.  He and his family also have a knack for unconsciously putting together facts.  This is what started the idea, ‘Without A Conscious…’, implying ‘Without a conscious thought…’.  Yet
the title is even more than that.  It is the first part of a sentence and each of the next four books in the series will complete the sentence. Of course, that won’t stop the series from continuing beyond five books.

Is anything in your book based on real events?

Yes.  What started it all was when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, and I did research on a solution that did not involve chemotherapy, surgery, or radiation.  I found this solution had been discovered back in 1950.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Though time can vary, in general it takes about a month to do the initial writing, then a month or so to edit, depending upon time.  This does not count prep time such as research which is done before anything else.

What is your work schedule like when you are writing?

Write, eat, a little sleep, and write again.  Sometimes the day job tries to interfere, but I try to ignore that. 🙂

When did you write your first book?

In middle school I wrote my first novella.  In high school I wrote my first book.

What was the most challenging part of writing a book?

Writing has never been a challenge.  It is something I must do, published or not.  If I stop writing, my mind starts coming up with things at the least opportune times.

How many books have you written and which one is your favorite?

I have currently written nine books and a host of short stories. Presently, ‘Moon Half Full’, a science fiction short story, and ‘Without A Conscious…’, book 1 of a mystery series, are published.  ‘The Wall Outside’, book 1 in a fantasy series, is scheduled for Sept 15th.

What do you think makes a good story?

People and their relationships, regardless of the setting, are what create good stories.  If you can make the reader feel the agony, touch the fear, and experience the joy, you will pull them into the story.

How did you choose your genre?

In middle school I fell in love with scifi.  In high school I encountered Dungeons & Dragons and began to mix in fantasy.  It wasn’t until 2010 that I wrote my first mystery due to some research to help my father; he was diagnosed with colon cancer.  (The main character in the mystery book, ‘Without A Conscious…’ is also named after him.)  It would be safe to say I have not limited myself as to a genre, and who knows what is next. Poetry is also something I do every day posting on my storiestotell fb page and my personal page.

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

Everywhere and from everything.  A single word spoken randomly in a crowd of people may trigger a story, just like a dream might trigger another. I’ve learned to keep a list as the ideas hit me simply because there is no way to remember them all.

Who designs you covers?

To date, I have designed my own covers.  Part of my day job concerns business advertising.

Is there a particular author or story that influenced you to start writing?

It began in middle school.  I picked up a book in the library called ‘To Save A Planet’ by Robert A. Heinlein.  After reading that book, I knew I had to write. I began to write everything down: dreams, stories, and novellas.  Once I hit High School, I was writing full books.

What are some future projects you are working?

I currently have nine books already written and in the editing stage, many of which have been written through the years.  One of those books, a fantasy called ‘The Wall Outside’, is supposed to come out this fall.  It is about a couple who goes on vacation and strange things begin to happen as one is kidnapped into a magical realm.  The other must face enormous odds to get them back.

I am also currently working on finishing the edits for ‘Ivan’, a scifi novel about a UCT, Universal Computer Tech, that enters hostile galaxies as a day job.  Troubles wait around every corner.  And of course, I am working on the second book to follow the mystery ‘Without A Conscious…’. There are currently planned four more books, though the series will not be limited to that.

You can learn more about James at his blog; http://storiestotelldotcom.blogspot.com/

Guest Post: Marian Allen

September 6, 2012

I have a guest post interview from the lovely and talented author, Marian Allen. She is a sci fi, fantasy, sometimes horror writer who has a bucket of books published with just as many in the works. Check her out on Amazon.com for all of her works or http://www.marianallen.com

Marian, tell us about your upcoming book.

SAGE is a Taoist fairy tale, more than anything else. The ruler of a kingdom neglects her duties, which causes disorder. Her consort usurps her throne and orders her death and the death of any children she might have had hidden from him. But The Way tends to balance itself, given time and cooperation. Book 1, to be released in 2013, is about the disorder. Books 2 and 3 will be about the struggle between chaos and order, forcible control and correct leadership. (Yes, I’ve been reading the I Ching!)

When did you write your first book?

I was in middle school. It was a rotten book. Luckily for all, it was lost. My first not-rotten book was a paranormal suspense novel that’s been rewritten several times and is currently in submission.

What was the most challenging part of writing a book?

OUTLINING! There are so many possible ways for a story to go, I have to make a plan or I risk just sitting around daydreaming. But I outline, and I write, and another possibility seems better or a new one opens up, and then I have to OUTLINE IT AGAIN!

How many books have you written and which one is your favorite?

I’ve written eight, published three (this will make four, five, and six), and roughed out several more. My favorite is always the one I happen to be working on at the moment.

What do you think makes a good story?

I’ll forgive just about anything, if the characters and dialog are alive.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Yes: When you ask, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” the answer is, “Yes.”

What are some future projects you are working?

Books 2 and 3 of SAGE still need to be edited through the publisher’s editor. I have a series of humorous mysteries I have roughed out that need to be polished. I’m usually working on several short stories for anthologies.

Watch for SAGE to be released in 2013

It’s Not Out of Print

November 15, 2011

Have you ever gone to a bookstore and asked one of the employees if you could order a book and been told it was out of print? Chances are this happened to you in a major chain store rather than a smaller independent book seller.

It used to be, a publisher would order a print run from the printer and when those copies sold or didn’t sell it was up to the publisher to place another order. If they did not order another print run, the book was out of print. Today with electronic files, the only way a book can go out of print is if the author or publisher asks the printer to remove the file so the book can no longer be purchased by the public.

“That’s a few thousand out of many millions.”

If you go to Barnes & Noble and order a book, which you know for a fact is still in print because you can order it on Amazon.com, and the employee tells you it’s out of print, here’s why:

There are hundreds of book distributors who have catalogues containing anywhere from a few hundred to a few million titles. Ingram, one of the largest distributors has a catalogue of 2.6 million titles. Any book seller can order from any of these distributors and receive the book in a matter of days or sometimes hours. But, a book store only has so much shelf space. So, the store Buyer will put together a company catalogue of a few thousand books which have been pre-approved to be placed on a store shelf. That’s a few thousand out of many millions.

 “Many times, the employee doesn’t know any other catalogues exist.”

Why does Amazon.com have millions of books available for sale and big chain stores only have a few thousand? Amazon uses Ingram’s catalogue along with several others as their catalogue. Many independent book stores do the same. The Barnes & Noble website does this but not the stores. If Ingram does not have any physical copies ready to ship, they will list their inventory as having 2 in stock. This means the printer who is holding the file can print a copy and ship it in 24 to 48 hours.

So when you ask that store employee if they can order a book for you, the first catalogue they will pick up is the company catalogue with only a few thousand titles. If they don’t see it there, they will tell you the book is out of print. Many times, the employee doesn’t know any other catalogues exist. Even if it’s available on the stores website, the employee will think it’s only available online.

“Every time a bookstore employee tells a customer, “it’s out of print,” it’s a lost sale for the store.”

This lack of employee training hurts more than you and the author. It means you will walk out of the store without buying the title you wanted. Every time a bookstore employee tells a customer, “it’s out of print,” it’s a lost sale for the store. If you don’t think these few lost sales don’t add up, Borders closed stores across the country due to drops in store sales.

So, if you are told a book is out of print, ask them to look in the distributor’s catalogue. If they tell you their catalogue has all the books in print, go to the nearest computer or pull out your smart phone and show them Amazon.com has the book available. If you’re in Barnes & Noble show them their website has at least 2 in stock.

When Promoting Your Book Don’t Forget to Promote Your Book

November 10, 2011

Preparing for my book signing tour, I’ve been attending a lot of other author‘s events to get some good tips on how to promote my new novel and attract readers. Instead, I have been learning what not to do. What I have found is a large number of authors are scaring away potential customers by simply talking about their books.

I have learned that just showing up for a book signing is not enough. Unless you’re a best seller or a famous person, you will end up sitting at a table in the back of the store all by yourself. Customers will avoid that area of the store thinking, who is that strange person?

The simplest way to attract readers over to you and your book is to schedule a reading and have a Q&A session. If you can add to it with a slide show or video, that’s even better. You’ll have their attention, all you have to do is close the deal. A good presentation will end with the majority of the crowd buying a book and wanting it signed. But, what I have found from watching many authors pitch their book, once they open their mouth, they scare people away.

“…when the author stands before a crowd and tells them his novel is bad, they have a tendency to believe him.”

I’ve witnessed authors try to answer simple questions with ten minutes of meaningless babble where they change the topic several times and end up never addressing what the person asked or even talking about their book. After 40 minutes of this, from one author, I saw people in audience checking their watches and texting on their phones. When it was over, four people asked to have a book signed. The other 20 walked out very fast.

Another author was asked, “How did you relate to your main character when you wrote this book?” He answered, “I didn’t. I don’t like the main character and I don’t even like this story.” Obviously, when the author stands before a crowd and tells them his novel is bad, they have a tendency to believe him. The end result was, out of  a crowd of 30 people, maybe six or seven asked to have a book signed. I’ve saw people who sat with a book in their lap during the presentation put the book back on the shelf and leave. All of these people made an effort to go to the bookstore to hear this author speak. They wanted to buy the novel and were successfully talked out it.

“… if you tell your audience they are too stupid to understand your book, for some unknown reason, they won’t buy it.”

I once arrived to a reading a half-hour early and watched the author and bookstore employee set up for the presentation. During this time, the author, who is not a citizen of the United States, complain about how his book was not selling in the United States because Americans were too stupid to understand it. He gave a 1½ hour slideshow presentation where every few minutes he continued to insult Americans saying they were stupid, morbid and had no idea as to what was really important, such as his book. Because this presentation happened in Colorado, it’s safe to say the crowd was primarily made up of Americans. Of the roughly forty-some people in the audience, two asked to have a book signed. The rest couldn’t get out of there fast enough. What I picked up here was, if you tell your audience they are too stupid to understand your book, for some unknown reason, they won’t buy it.

So the lesson I have learned is, when speaking to a crowd, don’t forget to promote your book. Make it sound like one of the most fascinating stories out there. Let them hear the passion in your voice when you explain why you wanted to write this story and share it with them. Stay on topic, which is your novel and why they should read it. Keep it entertaining, as entertaining as your book.

Oh, and don’t insult your audience, it won’t end well for you.