Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year! (Guest Bloggers Wanted)

Wishing you all a wonderful, healthy, and prosperous 2011. Thank you for following me on my blogging journey. Starting January 4, 2011, I'll be part of a group blog called Write Club. Tuesdays are my day to post. Stop by and check us out. :-)

I need guest bloggers for 2011. I have a few slots taken but the year is pretty much open. If you write dark genre, speculative fiction, let me know. This includes paranormal romance, urban fantasy, horror, paranormal (mainstream), steampunk, cyberpunk, fantasy, science fiction, etc. Yes, even erotica, as long as it's part of one of the genres/subgenres listed above.

Feel free to let other writers know about these guest blogging opportunities. (They can contact me at You can promote your book(s) and include a cover and excerpt. Also, if you have knowledge in an area such as writing POV, creating book trailers, establishing GMCs, you're more than welcome to post. I want this blog to be interactive. And this year proved to be successful in creating a community by and for writers. Let's keep the momentum going. :-)

I guess you're expecting me to talk about my writing goals for 2011. Don't worry. I've already touched upon them in another post. :-)

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Tuesday Guest Post: Rayne Hall

“Keep Out - Danger!”
Creating Suspense

Suspense is a feeling - the feeling of excitement, of tension, of fear, the feeling of needing to know what happens next. As writers, we aim to create suspense, because our readers love it.

Here's a quick trick for increasing the suspense:  Let your protagonist walk through a doorway on her way to danger. 

Film makers use this technique frequently. Next time you watch a thriller, cop drama or horror movie, observe how the camera lingers on the door before the hero enters.  Subconsciously, the viewer perceives the door as a barrier: if the protagonist crosses it, she is entering a danger zone. The viewer screams inwardly 'Don't open that door!'. Of course, the protagonist opens it and enters. By now, the viewer is sitting on the edge of her chair, frightened on the hero's behalf, needing to find out what happens next.

You can use the same trick in your writing: Put a door between your protagonist and the danger, and linger for a moment before she or he enters. Any kind of door serves: a front door, a garden gate, a gatehouse, a trap door, a stile, a cave mouth, even  a gap in a hedge. This works whether your  heroine is  a police officer on her way to confront a serial killer, or a governess tempted to explore the mansion cellar's secrets, whether your hero accidentally stumbles into a werewolves' lair or whether he gets dragged into the torture dungeon.

Slow the story's pace for a moment and linger at the door.  Describe the door: Is dark oak, grimy glass, gleaming steel, or splintering hardwood with peeling paint?  Are there any 'Danger' clues, such as knife marks, smashed glass, ominous stains, thorny plants, perhaps even a sign 'Visitors Unwelcome' or 'Keep Out' nailed to the centre?

Describe the sound of the doorbell, or the weight of the keys in her hand. Finally, describe how the door opens: Does it creak open or screech open? Does it rattle or whisper? Does it whine inwards on its hinges?

By the time your protagonist steps through the door, the reader's  suspense is turned to high volume, intensely anticipating what happens next.

If you want to increase the suspense further still, describe the sound of the door as it closes behind her. For example:  'The door snapped shut. ' 'Behind her, the door groaned shut.' 'The door thudded closed.' 'The door clanked into its lock. '

This suggests to the reader that the protagonist has just walked into a trap, and that her escape route is blocked.

By making your protagonist walk through a door, you can add a lot of suspense to your scene with just a few words.  Try it out, and enjoy.

Hall writes dark fantasy and horror. She has published more than twenty books under different pen names in different genres, and her stories have earned Honorable Mentions in 'The Years' Best Fantasy and Horror'.  She holds a college degree in publishing management and a masters degree in creative writing. She has worked as a museum guide, belly dancer, trade fair hostess, care home administrator, apple picker, development aid worker, magazine editor, publishing manager and investigative journalist.  After living in Germany, China, Mongolia, and Nepal, she has settled in a dilapidated English seaside town of former Regency grandeur. She teaches online courses: 'Writing Fight Scenes', and 'Writing about Magic and Magicians' and - her favourite - 'Scenes of Spine-Tingling Suspense and Gut-Chilling Fear'. 
For courses already scheduled for 2011, see

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Wishing you all a safe and wonderful holiday season and a prosperous 2011.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Open Topic Thursday: Revising Resolutions & a Publishing Opportunity

On November 18, I blogged about reevaluating my writing goals. I mentioned the reason I wasn't seeking an agent was because I hadn't written anything of suitable length (75k to 100k).

I may have to eat my words.

This coming March, Angry Robot is opening its doors to unsolicited novel-length manuscripts. They're looking for science fiction, horror, fantasy (including urban) and the various sub-genres contained therein. And I'm thinking of submitting my current WIP, a horror/urban fantasy/paranormal, if I can get it polished in time. This is a great incentive because I don't want to wait until the last minute.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 6: Excerpt

Hi and welcome to Day 6 of my mini blog tour. :-) Today I'm posting an excerpt from my upcoming short novel, Death Sword. Enjoy! You can learn more about Death Sword here as well as read another excerpt. 
“Wait outside, human,” Samael ordered.

The door swung open. Karla looked at Xariel for confirmation. He nodded. She shrugged and left, muttering expletives loud enough for them to hear.

The door locked again. Xariel tensed. Samael moved toward him, a predatory look in his eyes. Xariel shrank back and Samael huffed in disapproval.

“Not pleased to see an old friend?”

“I wouldn’t say we’re friends,” Xariel retorted.

Samael smiled, tracing a finger up Xariel’s suit jacket sleeve. The latter trembled. “Maybe not. Still, why bring human filth here? A human as an angel of death?” Samael sneered. “Don’t tell me Metatron’s become senile.”


“What do you think?”

“Doesn’t matter. I’ve my orders.”

“Why not have her work with Gabriel?” Samael’s finger caressed Xariel’s nape, his touch icy.

Xariel shivered.

Samael’s smile turned into a smirk. “I forgot. You’re not on good terms with him, are you?”

Xariel glared. “You made sure of that.”

“It’s better this way.” His palm cupped Xariel’s cheek. “We could go back to those days. Remember? You were happy. Don’t deny it.”

Xariel shook his head.

“Do you think it’s over? Or have you already fallen in love with her?”

“Of course not!” Xariel’s voice choked. “We just met.” He liked Karla, but if Samael even assumed he was interested in her, his boss would see an opportunity to cause trouble. Xariel’s skin crawled as he remembered what had happened to the other women in his life.

“Then she won’t mind this, will she?” Samael caught Xariel’s wrist, pulling him into a deep kiss. One arm snaked around Xariel’s waist, holding him fast. Xariel’s eyes widened as Samael’s tongue invaded his mouth, breath hot and smelling of cinnamon mints.

Samael broke the kiss first. He spat at the floor, face twisted in disgust. “I can taste them.” He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and scowled. “You still choose humans over me.”

“You shouldn’t be surprised.” Xariel’s knees gave way. He gripped the edge of Samael’s desk to steady himself. “I told you we’re through.”

Samael didn’t answer. Instead, he walked to a vertical black-lacquered cabinet mounted on the wall behind his desk. Xariel swallowed as he watched Samael remove a rapier, the basket-hilted handle intricately carved with ancient scrollwork. His eyes fixed on the dark yellow substance coating the blade tip. Venom. One drop would kill a human. Even angels weren’t immune.

The sword glinted beneath the lights and Xariel thought he saw, for a brief second, Samael’s eyes blaze red and his hair fan about his face in a fiery halo. Xariel choked back a gag reflex when tiny eyes popped up over Samael’s skin and the chief of satan’s mouth twisted in a cruel grin, revealing sharp incisors.

Xariel closed his eyes and shook his head. When he opened them, the illusion was gone and only Samael’s smile remained, minus the vampire impression.

“Perhaps I should make the human your partner.” Samael stroked the blade, running his tongue between his lips as he watched Xariel’s reaction. “After all, you seem to prefer their company.”

Xariel winced at the inference.

“However, if you think I’m giving you up, you’re mistaken.” Samael lowered the sword to his side. “Dismissed.”

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 5: Talking About Louisville

Sorry for the hiatus. Today I'm talking about why I set Death Sword in Louisville and why people leave this city yet often return.

I moved to Louisville after graduating from college. Small-town girl meets big city. After a short stay, I left for Nevada before returning to Wisconsin. But Louisville called me back. It was a siren call  I couldn't resist.

So when I decided to write Death Sword (and the Angels of Death series) I knew I wanted it to take place in Louisville. Why? Because I love this city. It's home and I want to share it with my readers. 

Two of my favorite areas (and I know I've mentioned this before) are Old Louisville and the Highlands. Xariel lives on St. James Court, famous for the St. James Court Art Show. This court is part of Old Louisville, a neighborhood of Victorian, Italianate, and Romanesque manors. Across from St. James Court is Central Park Every summer Shakespeare in Central Park gives free performances in the Ampitheatre. Old Louisville is also home to cobblestone walks and stone lions guarding houses.

The Highlands is a mix of independent businesses and national chains as well as residential homes. When she first meets Xariel, Karla lives in an apartment in a converted Victorian. Walking along Bardstown Road is one of my favorite pastimes. There are several independent businesses, many part of the Louisville Business Alliance whose motto is "Keep Louisville Weird." Here there are bookstores, coffee shops, galleries, restaurants, and  shops catering to the diverse interests of the locals.

I mentioned how people leave Louisville only to return. I know at least five people this has happened to. What lures us back? Perhaps it's because Louisville offers so many amenities and yet is also manageable, a city with a friendly vibe. It's not a perfect city although the same can be said for any metropolis. But it's home.

As I continue to write stories, I hope to share more of Louisville and its eclectic offerings. Meantime, please feel free to browse my Flickr account and take a look around.
Victorian and Italianate Architecture 
Louisville, Kentucky
Eastern Cemetery

What U.S. cities do you enjoy reading about? For me, other cities include New Orleans, New York, Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, and Chicago.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Death Sword: The Evolution of Samael's Character

This post is in reply to Rayne's comment (December 8, 2010). At first I was going to answer with a comment of my own, but decided a post would be more appropriate.

Rayne asks: "I'm fascinated by a minor character growing into a major antagonist. How did this come about, and at which stage? How did Samael take over as antagonist? Did he do this gradually, by sneakily manipulating the author, or with a quick forceful coup?"

Knowing Samael's techniques, it was sneaky manipulation. LOL Seriously, though, Samael kept insisting I give him his own story. As the series developed and I continued my research, I realized his role was much bigger than I first thought. And it wasn't just about angels of death fighting against one of their own, it was about angels fighting against their oppressors.

The idea to make Samael the antagonist came about when I realized Xariel's role as an anti-hero wasn't working. I couldn't justify his actions and have the heroine, Karla Black, admire him for what he'd done. A murderous angel of death had better have a damn good reason for what he does if the audience is going to empathize with him. And in the first draft, that wasn't happening.

Since Samael is the one who wields the venomous rapier, I decided to have him retain it. But what motive would he have for killing humans and angels? And that's when I got the idea of having him become obsessed with getting his ex-lover Xariel back and threatening to kill when Xariel refuses to return. (Xariel's sex curse doesn't help, either.)

However, Samael's role has continued to grow throughout the second and third books and the position of the antagonist has shifted from him to the Seraphim. The pitch for the Angels of Death series: "What if the Seraphim, the highest ranking archangels, viewing love as the ultimate weakness, decide they are superior to God and create a world of intolerance and fear?"

According to some, Samael's name was originally Lucifer, the greatest archangel and Seraphim before the Fall. And this inspired me to play around with the idea of what if the Seraphim, fearful of Samael's return, order him destroyed but the angels of death rebel against them?

Samael is also an angel of death as well as chief of satans. According to Gustav Davidson's A Dictionary of Angels, Including the Fallen Angels, "Metatron is indeed the supreme angel of death, to whom God daily gives orders as to the souls to be 'taken' that day. These orders Metatron transmits to his subordinates Gabriel and Sammael." (Xariel formerly worked under Gabriel before being reassigned to Samael.)

So Samael moves from being antagonist to the role of inciting character. Antihero? Perhaps. But that's for another book.

My apologies for the long post. Also please remember this is a work of fiction and one of many ways this story can be told.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 3: Trivia

Hello everyone and welcome to Day 3 of my mini blog tour. Today I'm sharing trivia about Death Sword. The first draft was written in 2008 for NaNoWriMo and over 90% of the book was rewritten in subsequent drafts. Which only proves that no matter how happy you are with your initial draft, there's probably room for improvement. :-)

1. Death Sword was originally written in 1st person POV.

2. Karla's name was originally Kyra.

3. Samael wasn't the antagonist. Instead, he was a minor character.

4. Sariel was the antagonist, an archangel of death who stole Samael's poisonous rapier and killed angels and humans with it.

5. Sariel's name was changed to Xariel because of the possible confusion between Samael and Sariel.

6. Samael and Xariel weren't lovers nor was Samael Xariel's boss.

7. Xariel wasn't afflicted with the sex curses.

8. Gabriel was a computer hacker.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Death Sword Blog Tour Day 2

Today's the second day of my mini blog "tour" which continues throughout the month of December. For those who don't know, this is to celebrate the upcoming release of Death Sword, my first book, on January 3, 2011 from Lyrical Press.

For this segment, I'm happy to announce my website is finally live. I'm also working on a Death Sword/Angels of Death mini site which I hope to have up in the next few days.

The cover for Death Sword is up for "Best of the Best Clash of the Covers 2010" at Embrace the Shadows. I would appreciate your vote. :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

NaNo Update and a Blog "Tour"

Sorry about the lack of updates recently. I spent November participating in that little writing frenzy known as National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. While I passed the 50k mark on my project, The Devil Inside, I haven't quite finished it. It's the third book in my Angels of Death series.

The blurb: Karla Black has settled comfortably into her role as an angel of death. But old wounds reopen when her mother tries to commit suicide. Determined to stop her, Karla is interrupted by Azazel, who reveals her mother and he are not her true parents. With this new information, along with her crumbling relationship with Xariel, Karla discovers her past is still filled with secrets, one that may change her life forever.

 Yes, I know, it needs work. :-) I also put up a mock cover. Trust me, no cover artists are in danger of losing their jobs.

Anyway, I spent most of 2010 writing stories. This month I plan to finish two short novels and start the revision process. If I'm successful I will have completed five short novels and one novella. Of course the plot bunnies are vying for my attention with ideas for short stories of the macabre. I've accepted that I'm probably a dark genre writer and that's okay. But I also enjoy writing contemporary M/M romances. Oh, well, blame it on my Gemini nature. :-)

This January 3, 2011 also sees the release of my first book, Death Sword, from Lyrical Press. You can learn more about it here and read an excerpt. To celebrate its release, I'm holding my own "Blog Tour." Death Sword is set in Louisville, Kentucky and, throughout this month, I'll be sharing information about my book as well as introducing readers to the various locations here in Louisville and why I've decided to set my stories in Derby City.

Hope you enjoy the ride!