Spy-Craft, or How I Got On a Watchlist

books-read-literature-bookshelf-161877The Phoenix Rising series is a supernatural spy thriller with a romantic thread. It follows the adventures of Macijah “Cage” St. John and his plucky partner and librarian, Phoebe Addison. Think James Bond meets Romancing the Stone… with vampires and zombies.

I’ve always been a lover of spy novels and movies. I think the first movie I was ever just crazy about was A View to a Kill, the quintessential 80s Bond film (Fun fact: Cage St. John is named after Bond’s alias in that movie— James St. John Smythe!). So I’ve always wanted to write a book that had an Ian Fleming, espionage-y feel to it. The only problem is, you have to know stuff to make it authentic. And trust me, anyone who has ever met me knows that I’m not cut out to be a spy. I’m loud, clumsy, and I giggle too easily when I lie. So needless to say I had to do some research. And boy was it interesting. Both for me and The Powers That Be watching my internet usage at work. So here are some sites I found…

Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Espionage

Wikipedia is always good for a few hours of procrastination. You can follow links there forever. BUT, make sure you check them out before taking their words as gospel. Use those footnotes!!

MI:5/ MI:6 (SIS now) Websites:

https://www.mi5.gov.uk/espionage

https://www.sis.gov.uk/

These sites are particularly useful in my case just because Cage is former MI6 (now called SIS). It helped understand their protocols and the language.

MI6: The Home of James Bond 007: https://www.mi6-hq.com/

Your source for all things James Bond. This site is just fun if you’re a fan of the Bond universe. Plus it has links to great source material.

Spywriter: http://www.spywriter.com/terms.html

Spy novelist Jack King has compiled a list of espionage terms on his website that proved most useful.

Business Insider: http://www.businessinsider.com/intel-glossary-2014-7

I was surprised to find this little gem on the interwebs, but the article is actually quite good.

These are just a few of the sites and articles online that I used (we won’t even talk about all the stuff about different types of guns and the physics of firing a bullet), but there are tons. So even if you aren’t a writer, you can sound really cool on your next date…

 

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CLICK to PREORDER!

COMING APRIL 2017— NAKED, Phoenix Rising #1

Following a brutal act of vengeance, MI:6 agent Macijah St. John is left grieving for his slaughtered family and agrees to participate in a secret government experiment that gives him a magnificent and terrible power.  Now he’s a mercenary spy that solves problems for the right price.  His latest job puts him in the path of the greatest catastrophe yet—a librarian.

Phoebe Addison’s life is a disaster. Crippling debt, a non-existent social life, and being the town librarian is hardly the glamorous existence she’d always dreamed of. But when her sister Jessica, an interplanetary archeologist, gets herself involved with a psychotic billionaire bent on world domination, Phoe is about to get more excitement than she bargained for.

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What’s Going On With Lexx?

Greetings everyone! It’s been quite some time since we talked. See what happened was, I normally updated my blog at work when there was nothing else going on. Then, several months ago, “The Powers That Be” decided that we needed to lock down the internet to save bandwidth. They nixed WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, and lots of other sites. Hence, my blog fell by the wayside. But don’t worry, I’ve resolved to fix it and get myself back on a schedule. In the meantime, I’d love for you all to visit my new website at:

http://lexxxchristian.wixsite.com/alexandrachristian

It has news, appearances, book info, and you can sign up for my newsletter, “The Hell’s Belles.” Each month I’ll feature authors, give updates on events, share writing tips, and give away free books! So basically, I’m leaving my blog here to be my heart and my website to be my head.

So what’s been going on? A lot! As you guys who read the blog regularly know, I’ve been trying to sell my book about the shapeshifting superspy for YEARS. Well guess what? I just signed a 4 book deal with Boroughs Publishing Group to release my new series, Phoenix Rising, starring the incredibly sexy spy, Cage St. John. The first book, NAKED, will release on April 13, 2017!

Also, y’all know about my obsession with Sherlock Holmes right? Well it finally paid off! I’ve just signed a contract with Falstaff Books to produce 4 novellas starring Dr. John Watson. In the novellas, Watson will find himself in situations most dire where he’ll need to rely on his wits to escape monsters lurking in the underbelly of Victorian London. And he might even get a little help from his friend, Sherlock Holmes.

So I’ve been super-busy lately! But I also feel super-lucky. I do hope you guys will keep coming back!

Top Ten Horror Movies with Crymsyn Hart

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It’s been a while since we last spoke. Let’s just put it this way, kittens— it’s been a long summer. But now we’re back and the autumn is upon us. You know what that means: it’s time for all things spooky!! And let’s kick off the spookiest season of the year with author Crymsyn Hart. This week she’s hopping from blog to blog promoting her Deathly Encounters series. I asked Crymsyn to pop over and talk to us about her top ten most HAIR RAISING HORROR MOVIES!!!

Since I write about Grim Reapers, you would have to say that I must have been influenced by something. Well, that is true. I am a lover of horror movies. Here are my top ten favorites…

  

  1. Poltergeist – The original not the remake
  2. The Thing – The Kurt Russell version.
  3. The Ring
  4. Jaws
  5. Rose Red
  6. The Shining – the TV movie not the Jack Nicholson version. Great movie, but not one of my favorites.
  7. Dawn of the Dead
  8. The Exorcist
  9. The Conjuring
  10. Puppet Master

Well I don’t know about you guys, but I definitely added some movies to my Halloween Watch-list!

Here’s a little bit about the second book in the Deathly Encounters series, DEATH’S REVIVAL, available NOW from Seventh Star Press…

Becoming a grim reaper was right up my alley. I enjoyed being dead. I helped souls crossover into deathsrevivalcover1200x800either Heaven or Hell with my fellow reaper, Than. For two years, I enjoyed my life and then the killings started. Psychics were being murdered at haunted sites and souls disappearing.

Someone was tampering with the fabric of the universe, trying to draw something evil into this world.

To do that, the killer needed the souls of the psychics and the ghosts he could gather to open the doorway. I was charged with saving those souls and find out who the serial killer was. Yeah, being used as bait was definitely not my first choice, but who can kill a grim reaper?

I’m already dead. With Than’s help, I’ll stop the evil from penetrating this world so I can get back to my soul gathering.

I mean the dead stay dead, right?

Get it now from these fine retailers:

Amazon                                            Barnes & Noble                                         KOBO

About Crymsyn…

crymsynhart_authorphotoCrymsyn is a National Bestselling author of over seventy paranormal romance and horror novels. Her experiences as a psychic have given her a lot of material to use in her books. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her hubby and her three dogs. If she’s not writing, she’s curled up with the dogs watching a good horror movie or off with friends.To find out more about Crymsyn:

Website: http://www.ravynhart.com

Twitter: @crymsynhart

Blog: http://www.crymsynhart.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crymsynhart

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Crymsyn-Hart/e/B002BMJ1Z0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1405515745&sr=8-1

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Author Seeking Complex Readers

 

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Greetings from the world of the living! It’s been a while, but I hope you’ve all been well. I’ve been writing my little heart out the last month trying to finish up my upcoming release from Little Red Hen Romance. It’s a charming little #Sherlock Holmes #mystery entitled “Chasing the Dragon.” It’s a bit longer than the regular LRH release, coming in at just under 30K. But the 30K are well worth it in my humble opinion. As I was talking to my editor about it this morning, we inevitably veered the conversation into that deep, dark pit– how to sell more books? It’s a question that is always on the minds of writers these days. Many of my colleagues have gone from selling enough books to make their car payment to barely selling enough to warrant a check. There are so many layers to this question that we can’t even begin to examine all of them, but I wanted to focus this blog post on the most important one:  YOU, dear reader.

Picture it, Facebook: 2016. A beautiful young writer is browsing the author groups and reading blogs. She is puzzled, as she keeps seeing words like “BESTSELLER” and “5 STARS.” The problem is, all the books that had been tagged as “BESTSELLER” or “5 STARS” seemed to be carbon copies of one another. And they certainly weren’t the kinds of books that the young writer was churning out at light speed. Romances that weren’t even remotely romantic that featured predatory relationships, unreal situations, no high-stakes conflict, increasingly whacked-out scenarios– the list goes on. And apparently readers are lapping it up like milk and honey.

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Something about this just doesn’t gel.

I know readers, particularly romance readers, are smarter than this. I know they want complex stories that aren’t just about the sicky-sweet love and the increasingly disturbing sex. And how these two things exist in the same story still escapes me.

Here’s what I want in a reader: 

Someone who believes in love. I often get the impression that the people writing 50 Shades knock-offs think that love is a joke. That the fairy tale stuff doesn’t exist so we may as well make it a humiliating experience that no one will enjoy. Love ISN’T perfect, but it is out there. Sometimes hiding in the most unlikely of places.

Not a hopeless romantic, but a hopeful one.

Someone who wants adventure and a complex storyline in their romance. It doesn’t have to be all about the romance. There should be more at stake than an old boyfriend blowing back into town. Romance CAN exist in the midst of an international incident. Or on an interplanetary mission to save the sun. Or between a dragon and the slayer sent to kill him on behalf of the government. Romance novels don’t HAVE to be Hallmark Channel movies of the week.

Someone who isn’t just reading from one sex scene to the next to get off. That’s what Penthouse Letters are for.


ChasingTheDragon_1

So where can you find these amazing feats of literary fitness? Well look no further than Little Red Hen Romance. It’s co-op of authors, Lucy Blue and yours truly, work tirelessly to bring meaty love stories to the complex reader. That reader that wants to lose themselves in the magic and adventure of a damn good story and feel the heart flutter as they witness two people falling in love.

I know you’re out there.

GUEST POST: E. Chris Garrison Talks About BLUE SPIRIT

BlueSpirit_cover_1200X800I’m really excited today because I have the pleasure of bringing you to a work close to my heart.  Blue Spirit is a fast-paced modern fairy tale that blends the fantastical and the humorous.  It’s really no surprise as it’s author, E. Chris Garrison whom I find completely hilarious.  I love the book and I know you will too.  But don’t take my word for it….

Introduce yourself and tell us a little about why you’re visiting the blog today.

Hello and thank you for having me on your blog! I’m Chris Garrison, an indie author from Indianapolis, Indiana. I am here because my publisher, Seventh Star Press, is helping get the word out about my latest release, Blue Spirit, a Tipsy Fairy Tale.

About me? Well, I’m a fan of all things science fiction and fantasy, though I mostly write urban fantasy, science fiction, and some steampunk. I am a long time homebrewer, and have been jokingly named Seventh Star’s official Brewmaster. I think it’s just to get me to bring “samples” of my stuff to conventions. I love board games and spending time with friends and family. My favorite band is Five Year Mission, who are doing a rock song for every original Star Trek series episode.

What inspired you to write Blue Spirit

Blue Spirit is a sort of spin-off of my Road Ghosts Trilogy. I had finished those three and wanted to move on to other characters and situations. I had the thought that rather than ghosts and demons, I’d like to write about fairies in our modern world. I also wanted to write something even funnier than the Road Ghosts, and I wanted it to be in first person so I could filter the world through one person’s senses and thoughts. I’d written in a sort of comic relief character in the second Road Ghosts book, Sinking Down, a drunken vampire roleplaying gamer named Skye, and it came to me that she might be the most fun to turn into a protagonist. Originally, I thought about setting it in Chicago where Skye lived, but instead went with what I know and set it here in Indianapolis. It was fun thinking up places in my own city that could be magical.

Blue Spirit is a fairy tale, of sorts.  What are some of your favorite fairy tales and why?

I am a huge fan of the Little Mermaid, and I’m not ashamed to admit that it’s the Disney version that I love best. I empathized with Ariel wanting to transcend the world she’d grown up in to become something else. Skye’s definitely impulsive and brave like Ariel, though she’s a bit older and makes more questionable decisions. I love the story of Pinocchio as a child, because I knew what it was like to yearn to be more than I was. I guess this is a similar theme with the Little Mermaid too, now that I think of it.As an aside, I watched Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons as a kid, and I loved the Fractured Fairy Tales segment most of all. I loved the skewed take on classic fairy tales, the sense of humor, and visual jokes. I guess that’s why I am a bit wry in my telling of my own fairy tales. 

Who is your favorite character in the book?

Although he was meant to be a sort of whimsical side character, I love the Transit King, Bask. He wasn’t meant to be more than a humorous plot device initially, but he’s turned out to not only be my own favorite, but a fan favorite as well. He’s also been borrowed by fellow Seventh Star Press authors R.J. Sullivan and John F. Allen in their writing. There’s just something irresistible about the little Fairy Godfather, riding the buses granting favors to those in need – in exchange for any favor he asks later. Also, I have great fun writing his vaguely Celtic accent and using him to say cryptic and prophetic things to my characters.  

Chris, you’ve been writing for quite a while now.  What are some things that you’ve learned on this journey from aspiring writer to writer with multiple titles under your belt?

I’ve learned that you’ve got to love writing. It’s not a quick path in any sense of the word. It’s a skill you have to work on by doing it often, and by getting feedback from others. I highly recommend finding or forming a critique group with other writers. The most important thing while writing the first draft is to keep going, don’t worry about whether your grammar and spelling or details are perfect. If you’re uncertain about something (say, a character’s eye color, or the length of a zeppelin) make a note as a comment in bold and move on. Write now, fix later. And be sure you do fix it later, go over the result before giving it to beta readers. When you get feedback, don’t feel obligated to change anything, but be sure to listen to what’s being said. If one reader says one thing, but others say different things, then it’s probably a matter of personal preference. But if many readers point out the same thing, it’s probably something you’ll need to fix.

Art seems to be a big part of the Seventh Star marketing model.  The cover art on this book is pretty extraordinary and it’s my understanding that the authors have a lot of say in the covers. Did you work closely with the artist, Anne Rosario? Tell us about that process.

Anne is a fantastic artist, a real professional, and a friendly person. I supplied her with a file containing my (often hilariously 1_Illustration_BlueSpiritbad) whiteboard sketches, along with notes and blocks of text from the book to go with the scene. She came back excited and had many questions about the characters, what they looked like, their personalities, and so on. She sent me pencil sketches of her ideas, and used feedback from me to produce the beautiful artwork you see on and in Blue Spirit. I very much look forward to working with her for the sequel, Restless Spirit. I’m interested to see how she’ll draw my trolls.

Blue Spirit is available right now!  Tell us where we can get it!!

 Print:

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Spirit-E-Chris-Garrison/dp/1941706827

Kindle:

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Spirit-Tipsy-Fairy-Tale-ebook/dp/B00X6571BC

Barnes and Noble Link:

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/blue-spirit-eric-garrison/1105805795?ean=9781941706824

I also have a book trailer video, which features the artwork of Anne Rosario, along with other information about Blue Spirit here:

http://sillyhatbooks.com/blue-spirit

My Blog and contact information are at http://sillyhatbooks.com and I can be found on Facebook as E. Chris Garrison, author.

Thanks once again for having me as a guest!

Synopsis of Blue Spirit: Gamer girl Skye MacLeod can see fairies, but only when she’s tipsy. More Grimm than enchanting, some of these fairies are out to ruin her life, wreaking havoc with her job, her home, and her relationships. With the help of her tiny fairy friend Minnie, Skye has to protect her vampire wannabe gamer friends from all-too-real supernatural threats only she can see. Can she keep it together and hold fast against a wicked fairy Queen’s plot?

Blue Spirit is the first book of A Tipsy Fairy Tale series!

ECGarrisonAuthorPhotoAbout the Author: E. Chris Garrison (who also writes as Eric Garrison) is active in the writing community in Indianapolis, Indiana. He lives in the Circle City with his wife, step-daughter and a cabal of cats. He also enjoys gaming, home brewing beer, and finding innovative uses for duct tape.

Chris’ novel, Reality Check, is a science fiction adventure released by Hydra Publications. Reality Check reached #1 in Science Fiction on Amazon.com during a promotion in July 2013.

Seventh Star Press is the home of Chris’ supernatural fantasy series, Road Ghosts, including Four ‘til Late, Sinking Down, and Me and the Devil.

Querying Author’s Lament: Stop Being Lazy and Triflin’

me and amy (2)So kids, its been some time since we’ve gotten in touch.  I would give some excuse about the holidays and making resolutions and all that crap.  But that’s what it would be– crap.  The truth is, I’ve been balls deep (I’ve ALWAYS wanted to say that even though I don’t have balls) in #querying for #agents.  It’s a long, arduous journey, but it hasn’t been unsatisfying.  I’ve gotten some nice feedback, and met some amazing folks.  If you’re ready to start this process, go to Twitter and meet some others!  There’s an amazingly supportive writing community out there ready to give you a boost when you need one.  Use those #amwriting #query #agenting #pubtips #writetips hashtags to help you on the way.  Probably the most important thing to remember on the path to finding the elusive “traditional publishing success” is to persevere.  This will not happen over night.  Prepare to get rejected.  A lot.  Usually nicely, but not always.  Prepare to do your homework and research folks.  Don’t say yes to the first person who asks without looking them up and seeing what CREDENTIALS they have.  Remember, anybody can call themselves an agent or an editor on the internet.

So on to the things that have annoyed me today.  The first was someone complaining that a writer’s advice to stop talking about writing and just do it was condescending.  Uhm.. no. That’s not condescending.  That’s the truth.  There are tons– literally, tons of “writers” that are more in love with the idea of writing than actually doing it.  They’d rather sit around with their critique groups, re-writing the same draft over and over again while talking about their brilliance at a single sentence. BTW– if you’ve been writing that first draft for 5+ years, move on with your your life.  That story isn’t ready.  Anyway, these folks read blogs and articles and god knows what else all at the expense of actually writing. I hate to break it to you, kids, but writing is more than having that great idea.  You have to have the great idea, be disciplined enough to write it down, and talented enough to write it artfully.  Oh and then be brave enough to show it to others.  And when I say “others,” I don’t mean ya mama, ya girlfriend, the kids in your writer group who have known you for years, or your friends.  I mean people that are not invested in you personally.  I’ve spoken to a lot of writers who say “oh I don’t need an agent.  They just take all your money.”  What that almost always translates to is “I’m too scared that they’ll say no.”  And you know what– they probably will.  Repeatedly.  But if you’re talented and committed, the right person will see you for the brilliant little author person you are.  In the words of Lana del Rey, “Be young.  Be dope.  Be proud.”

internal screaming

Another thing that annoyed me so much was a post where someone took the attitude that they basically were hot shit and wouldn’t any agent just be pleased as a parsnip to represent them?  Now.. they weren’t interested in waiting (btw– the waiting is part of it. Some agents have 3 month + query response times) or having a brand new, polished work to send.  The feeling I got from this person was that they had already proven how wonderful they were and why wasn’t someone already falling all over themselves to represent him.  WTF?!  No.  You need to write a billion query letters and another billion versions of your synopsis of your NEW UNPUBLISHED work and then jump on the burning train to Hell that is querying.  There are too many great writers struggling right now for anybody to start shirking.  Or thinking they can get off easy and not do the work.

Anyhow– I hope I didn’t tick you off with this new and refreshing dose of truth telling, but it needed to be said.  Making art is hard.  If it wasn’t, Justin Bieber could do it.  Be encouraged that you are not alone and that others are glad to help when they can.  Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re going to carry you or your stuff.

Some great resources for the querying writer:

Literary Rejections:  http://www.literaryrejections.com/

Manuscript Wish List:  http://www.mswishlist.com/

Various Twitter pitch sessions:  #adpit #pitchmas, etc.  There’s one coming up on 2/5/15.  More info here:  https://heidinorrod.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/its-coming-adult-pitch-5-feb-2014-adpit/

And don’t forget those Twitter hashtags:  #querytip #agent #amwriting #writetip #pubtip

How to Sell Your Book by Way of a Great Cover, or Cover Lovin’ by David Blalock

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Once more I’ve decided to welcome another author over to the Belle to do my dirty work.  Today, author and cover art critic David Blalock has come over to talk about his Angelkiller Triad and how a really great cover artist can give your book the boost it needs to excel.  Because, as we all know, your book might be the best thing ever, but no one will know if they don’t pick it up.  And if you’re like me, you often choose a book initially because it has an interesting cover.  Seventh Star Press is well known throughout the industry for having the very best in cover and interior artwork and David’s trilogy is a perfect example.  But I’ll let him tell you…

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What can I say about Matt Perry’s artwork that can do it justice? His covers have drawn some significant attention to the series, attention it probably would not otherwise have had. As an artist, Matt has the ability to take an idea and imbue his own personal interpretation into the image without losing the original theme. It is a tricky balancing act, one he has mastered admirably.

 

Click me to buy!

Click me to buy!

 

The cover of Angelkiller is a striking image, unlike anything I’ve seen. His use of atmospheric imagery on that cover gave it that disturbing, unreal feeling that conveys the essence of the Great Conflict. The books are about a war between entities more than human and that cover shows just enough humanity to connect with the reader while retaining that otherworldly quality. The interior images in Angelkiller faithfully reproduce the scenes from the text in an exciting and provocative manner. They more closely connect the reader to the text, inserting more humanity into the art while retaining just enough emotional impact.

 

 

CLICK ME to buy!

CLICK ME to buy!

 

For Traitor Angel, Matt reached into the idea of virtual reality crossing over into mundane reality by presenting the combat between good and evil, represented by the knight and the dragon, against a background of circuitry. As a lot of the book contained just this combat, it was again faithful to the ideas embodied in the text while making a broader statement about the story arc in general. The interior art continues this theme, reaching toward the humanity without letting us forget how different the virtual reality conflict can be.

 

 

CLICK ME to buy!

CLICK ME to buy!

 

Finally, in Doom Angel’s cover, Matt states the Great Conflict in an iconic image that sums up the series marvelously. The feedback about this art has been unanimously positive. Again, he took the road of impression instead of strict interpretation, resulting in a stunningly beautiful, yet slightly troubling, image. The Great Conflict could not have been better presented in a single piece of art. The interior artwork only reinforces and strengthens the conviction that what is happening has a deeper meaning than simply a war between human factions.

 

 

Having Matt Perry as my artist for the series was a struck of incredible luck. I am very fortunate to have such a talented and perceptive individual on my team. And Seventh Star Press has a gem of an artist in their employ.

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Now you all know that while I’m a romantic at heart, I really love a dark urban fantasy.  I’ve just started reading Angelkiller but I’m already in love.  Read this description.  I dare you not to be desperate to read it…

Why do bad things happen to good people? Simple. In the ancient war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Dark won. Now it is the job of an undercover force simply known as The Army to rectify that.

Using every tool available, The Army has worked to liberate our world from The Enemy for thousands of years, slowly and painfully lifting Mankind out of the dark. On the front of the great Conflict are the Angelkillers, veterans of the
fight with centuries of experience.

Jonah Mason is an Angelkiller, and his cell is targeted as part of plot to unseat a very powerful Minion of The Enemy. Mason and his troop are drawn into a battle that stretches from real-time to virtual reality and back. The Conflict is about to expand into cyberspace, and if Mason is unable to stop it, The Enemy will have gained dominion over yet another realm.

Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it?  Okay, kids.  That’s it for me today.  I’ve got a dragon by the fireplace waiting.  He seems pretty tame but he keeps shouting, “Bored!” and breathing fire. If I don’t act quickly, my house may burn down.  See ya, kids!