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.


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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: 5 Tips for Writing a Humorous Novel with Karina Fabian

NeetaLyffe_ILeftMyBrainsinSanFrancisco_audio_MEDWith all this talk of horror and mayhem lately, I thought it might be nice to feature an author who not only knows her way around a horror novel, but can also make us DIE laughing.  Get it… DIE laughing?  Ahem… anyway, here today at The Belle, author Karina Fabian is going to be educating us on the art of comedy as featured in her new audiobook release, I Left My Brains in San Francisco.  So without further ado…


I’ve always enjoyed being silly. I fell in love while trading puns with a new friend who is now my husband of nearly 25 years. At work, I’ve been known to put our skeleton in funny places, like the bathroom stall for “private time.” When I was asked to write a zombie story, I got into a silly mood, and the story, “Wokking Dead,” ended up being more an apocalypse of puns than undead. However Neeta Lyffe (say it out loud) was a character of such character that my publisher asked me to writer her in a novel. Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator won awards, and now I’ve written the second, I Left My Brains in San Francisco, which comes out in audiobook this month.

Not everyone can write funny stories, nor does everyone want to. But if you’d like to try to make someone graffaw in a library or snort soda out their nose while reading in a cafe, here are some tips:

  1. Make Yourself Laugh. I mean it. If you don’t enjoy your own jokes, why bother writing them? You should laugh when you read your own work. If it’s not funny to you, how can it be funny to anyone else?
  2. Keep your pacing. Just like a comedian needs to pace his punchline, you need to pace the humor of your story. Be sure you set up the joke but don’t overstate it. Get the punch line in and give the reader a chance to laugh. Hit them with a surprise.
  3. A novel is not a series of jokes. It’s a story. Just like no novel is all dialogue or all long descriptions of the scene, a humorous novel is not all slapstick and comedy. In fact, properly placed seriousness can make the jokes all the better. My funniest novels have serious things happen in them. Sometimes, they are quiet moments to let the characters (and the reader) catch their breaths. Sometimes, they are the tragic consequences of what was a humorous scene. Other times, they are touching moments or intense action. You might say it’s a yin-yang kind of thing, but it adds depth and complexity, which makes a better novel all around.
  4. Don’t force the humor. Sometimes, all the machinations in the world will not let a joke go through in a novel, even when it seemed so funny in your head. Cut it the way you would a bad description or laborious dialogue. Also, be careful that your humor, especially political/social/religious humor, doesn’t cross the line to insult (unless that’s what you’re going for, but then be prepared for it to not be so funny after all.)
  5. Don’t expect everyone to get all your jokes. I’ve had critiquers who did not understand my humor. I’ve had editors try to fix the manuscript by changing punch lines (or punch scenes) to funny pieces they did not get. Even “Neeta Lyffe,” which I thought was a pretty obvious pun, has to be explained sometimes. (And pronounced. It’s like Need-a-Life, not Need a Lift.) Having said that, if too many of your beta readers don’t get the joke, then you should rethink it.

Laughter has been shown to reduce tension, exercise the cardiovascular system, and encourage a more positive outlook. Writing funny stories promotes good health! (Or so I tell myself when I skip the gym to write.) The great thing is, you get to share the benefits with others. So go write funny! And if your funny bone needs a workout, consider I Left My Brains in San Francisco. It’s even in audio, so you can listen to it while you run!


About I Left My Brains in San Francisco

Zombie problem? Call Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator–but not this weekend.

On vacation at an exterminator’s convention, she’s looking to relax, have fun, and enjoy a little romance. Too bad the zombies have a different idea. When they rise from their watery graves to take over the City by the Bay, it looks like it’ll be a working vacation after all.

 Enjoy the thrill of re-kill with Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator.

Excerpt:

Survival Hardware hadn’t seen such a rush of customers since the last Armageddon prediction coincided with Black Friday.

Manager Clint Sanders rubbed his hands with glee. Oh, Marley, if only you hadn’t gotten drunk and decided to go zombie hunting. Was it only last Christmas?

He hurried to Customer Service, crafting an announcement in his mind.  “You want to live!  We want to live!  That’s why you are going to file calmly to the back if you need a suit.”

Yeah.  Sense of urgency, plus that “We’re in this together” crap.

He got to the counter and nodded at Bitsy, who had rung up a chainsaw and a half-crate of bleach.

God bless survivors. Clint continued to the back.  Out of habit, he checked the exit door, even though it was always locked from the outside.  He needed to delete Marley’s old code from it.

He cleared his throat.  “Listen up!  You want to live!  We want to live!”

The exit door clicked.

“That’s impossible!” he declared.  The store fell silent.

“Boss?” Bitsy’s voice ended in a squeak.

“That’s not what I meant!  Security team to customer service!”

He reached under the counter for a shotgun.  Bitsy grabbed the chainsaw.  They had filled them that morning—another example of the excellent service at Survival Hardware.

The door swung open, and the zombiefied remains of his late business partner, Marley, staggered through.

Clint to blasted him with the shotgun.  The impact knocked the Marley out the door.

Clint used the gunsight to scan the parking lot.  “He brought friends!  Call Nine-One-One.  I’m putting this place on shutdown.”

“Screw that!  I’ve been prepping all my life for this!”  With a howl of challenge, Bitsy dashed out the door.  She swung low and decapitated her former boss before moving on.

Thundering footsteps signaled the customers following in her wake.

He gaped at the carnage while Dirk called 9-1-1.  It’d be too late by the time they got there.  All that’d be left was to clean up the zombie parts and get the customers back in to pay.

God bless survivors.

Find I Left My Brains in San Francisco (also available in audio) HERE:

Damnation Books: http://www.damnationbooks.com/book.php?isbn=9781615727643

Amazon: http://amzn.to/Nzm01L (paper) http://amzn.to/OBBmkL (Kindle)

More about it at http://zombiedeathextreme.com


About Karina Fabian:

Winner of the Global eBook Award for Best Horror (Neeta Lyffe, Zombie Exterminator), Karina Fabian’s writing takes quirky karinachainsaw2tales that keep her–and her fans–amused. Zombie exterminators to snarky dragons, things get a little silly in her brain. When she’s not pretending to be an insane psychic or a politically correct corpsicle for a story, she writes product reviews for TopTenReviews.com and takes care of her husband, four kids and two dogs. Mrs. Fabian teaches writing and book marketing seminars online.

Website: http://fabianspace.com, http://zombiedeathextreme.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karina.fabian

Twitter:  http://twitter.com/#!/KarinaFabian

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/103660024891826015212

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/10981939-karina-fabian

What I’ve Learned About Editing

me and amy (2)OMG… can it be that The Belle herself is posting on the blog today?  Why yes!  Your eyes don’t deceive you.  It’s really me this time.  I figured that I should share my genius with you since it’s been a while (tongue placed firmly in cheek).  The truth is, I’ve been really busy the last few weeks.  I know it doesn’t seem like it, but I really have.  I’ve got two new releases with Little Red Hen Romance this month and I literally finished the edits on one of those stories the day before release.  I’ve also been knee-deep in the edits for the Sherlock Holmes anthology, An Improbable Truth: The Paranormal Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, which will be hitting eBook shelves on October 27, 2015.  And speaking of editing, that’s the purpose of my article today.

I’ve been a part of several anthologies as an author but An Improbable Truth is the first time that I’ve been on the other side of the editorial desk.  Yes, my evil alter-ego, A.C. Thompson is the editor of this collection.  And lemme tell you, kittens– it’s been a learning experience.  It’s had its ups and downs but I like to think the process has been pretty smooth for all those involved.  But now that I have something to compare it to, here are some things that I’ve learned.

  1. Have a schedule in place.  This is actually good advice for most endeavors, but it’s really essential if you’re going to take responsibility of other people’s work.  Before the call ever goes out, you should have a clear timeline in your head of not just when the release date is but other important things like:  when will the submission window close, when will everyone’s stories be accepted or rejected, how are you going to let them know, when do contracts go out, when do you project having your first round of edits done, your authors turn in those edits by what date, when is the deadline for cover art, etc.  Now these dates don’t need to be set in stone, but you should have some idea.  No one should be floundering at the last minute.
  2. Be a professional.  Let me say that again.  *In her best Christian Bale voice* BE A FUCKING PROFESSIONAL.  Ahem, that felt good.  Anyway, remember kittens– this is not the church bake sale.  This is someone’s hard work that you’re screwing around with here.  These people are not donating their work to your cause, they’re giving you something for publication that they will hopefully make a little money from.  That means that you cannot keep their work indefinitely in limbo never telling them whether their story got in or not or never sending them a contract.  Authors should NOT find out that their story wasn’t accepted by reading the release announcement. Nor should you keep them on a mailing list that constantly says “just because you’re getting this doesn’t mean you’re in the anthology, just fyi.”  It’s rude, it’s confusing, and it keeps an author’s story on the hook for ages when they could be submitting it to someone that might accept it. Rejections are the most un-fun part of the process, but they’re just as necessary as the acceptances.
  3. Don’t become an editor if you don’t have any credentials other than you’ve read a book before.  I decided to pitch the idea of An Improbable Truth because I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, the copyrights had been released, and there weren’t any other paranormal/ horror Sherlock anthologies out there.  Before I made the decision to pitch to my wonderful publisher, Nicole Kurtz, I thought about whether or not I was equipped to edit someone else’s work.  So here it is:  I graduated from Winthrop University with a degree in Education.  Part of that program required that I complete college level work in writing and grammar.  Up to this point I’ve published two novels a slew of short stories and novellas, and a magazine article with several reputable presses.  I’ve written five novels.  I have also been through a hard edit with a professional “big 5” author and editor.  Do I think I know it all?  Hell no!  I have called on the help of my sister who has a Master’s Degree in English as well as other editors many times.  Trust me, commas are not my friends. But if you don’t have a grasp of language in your own writing, you probably shouldn’t be an editor.  Sadly, this is an epidemic in the self-pubbing/ indie world.  We scream that we want to be taken seriously, but kids– big time publishing is never going to take us seriously until we hold our authors to the same standard as they do.  And that means good writing and professional editing.
  4. I am your editor, not your mama!!  Therefore, it is not my job to teach you to write or completely re-write your first draft.  I actually overheard an author tell someone, “It doesn’t matter if I can write.  That’s what the editor is for.”  WRONG! WRONG! WRONG!! It is your job as the writer to write a great story, polish it up (DO NOT SEND YOUR FIRST DRAFT), and edit– not write a ten page dissertation on why the editor is wrong and you’re right.  The editor is an unbiased third party whose only interest is in making your story the best it can be.  Don’t fight them every step of the way.  If you disagree with something, discuss it.  Don’t stomp your feet like a toddler and refuse to change it.  Or make up some silly excuse as to WHY you can’t edit.  It is worth noting that I did NOT have this problem on the Sherlock anthology.  Every single author I have is the picture of professionalism and talent.  I may be slightly biased, but seriously… these guys and gals rock!
  5. Have a plan for promotion.  This is particularly for the editors of anthologies.  Now you might say, “That’s not my division.”  Well Lestrade, yes it is.  If you’re editing an anthology for a small press it IS your division.  Finding as many places to get the word out about your authors and your book is part of your job description.  You don’t just send these things out into the world and expect them to swim on their own!  You have to be creative.  Think outside the box.  While you’re sitting here reading this ridiculously long diatribe, five anthologies just hit the shelves.  You have to make your book stand out.  Why should people buy YOUR anthology and not the other one.  And don’t worry, you aren’t alone.  Your publisher and all those lovely people who contributed to the anthology are there to help you.  They should have a plan for what they’re going to do as well.  And you’ll, hopefully, all succeed together.

So that’s it. That’s what I’ve learned so far and trust me– it’s a process.  I don’t know it all and probably never will.  And of course, these are all just my opinions.  We’ll see if they work at all in a few weeks.

Why Little Red Hen, or How I Found Unexpected Success as a Self-Published Author

hen-logo-goodIt always seems that I’m posting in my blog when the world just becomes too much.  Today isn’t really an exception but I think that I will rekindle some hope by the end of it, so here goes.

I’ve been a published author since October of 2010.  Yep, I’m coming up on my five year anniversary as a “real” writer.  If you’ll notice, I’m writing this post from the computer at my day job.  I’d like to say that I was reciting it to my assistant while I sat by a pool in some tropical locale, but alas I’m still a peon.  I have lots of irons in the fire and I’m still pretty excited about my career as a whole, but some days I just wonder why I bother.  Case in point….

I spend an awful lot of time on social media.  Most of us do, but to an author, social media becomes extremely important.  You find yourself perusing Facebook because you HAVE to, not because you want to.  I actually had to force myself on to Twitter the other morning.  Social media is a great way to get your name out there as an author.  Unfortunately it’s also a cesspool of depraved and broken idiots an awful lot of the time.  It’s really easy to fall into a black hole of thinking that you’re alone in a room full of goldfish.  People have fabricated intellect on nearly every topic.  Their misguided and uneducated opinions that ten years ago they would have kept to themselves are now all out in the open for everyone to see.  And everything feels justified because even if you say that putting babies on spikes is a great idea, there will be a thousand people to rush to your cause in the all-powerful “comment” space.  There are days when I feel as if Facebook, Twitter, Google+, tumblr, etc. are the death knell of life and civilization as we know it.  Days like today when I was perusing my feed and noticed that someone was in a group trying to sell me a book that had a cover with a picture of a woman with her nether regions almost completely exposed and a title that I won’t repeat but had the phrase “bitch ass” prominently featured.  And if memory serves, a woman wrote this book.  And was selling it as a romance.  Another had a teaser with “enticing” lines from the book that were full of grammatical and spelling errors, degrading phrases and just terrible writing.  And this was what the author wanted to FEATURE on her advertising.  On days like today, I start to wonder why I’m even bothering.  If my stuff is going to be drowned in a sea of crap, what is the point??!!

This conversation is not new.  My sister, author Lucy Blue, and myself have had this discussion ad nauseum.  In fact, our brother-in-law told us one day if we didn’t stop that we couldn’t sit at the table with him anymore.  And I’ve also talked about this quite a bit on the blog (see archive).  But today, I’m going to pick myself up by my bootstraps and tell you what Lucy and I have decided to do about this.

Now, I’m giving ALL the credit to Lucy here.  This whole thing was her idea, I just jumped on her bandwagon.  In case you didn’t know, Lucy’s been around for quite some time.  Back in the mists of time she wrote a tie-in novel for Forever Knight, a series of medieval fantasy romances for Simon & Schuster, and another series of vampire romances for Pocket Books.  In other words, she ain’t a newbie.  But several years ago people in positions of power decided that romance was either pornography or nonexistent and she took her ball and went home only to re-emerge as an indie author two years ago.  And what an eye-opener that was.  Suddenly she was dealing with social media and a really strange market.  A market where people weren’t buying good stuff.  They were buying crap because it was either really cheap or so outrageous that it was funny.  A market where people just aren’t willing to spend 8 bucks on a book anymore.  So she did some research in that most unlikely of places:  the beauty salon.

If you’ve never been to a beauty salon in the South, I highly recommend it.  In the small town where we live, we don’t need a newspaper, we’ve got Cuttin’ Loose.  Anyway, while sitting in the beauty salon she could hear some women talking about what kinds of things they were reading on the new Kindles they got for Christmas.  The things that all of them kept saying they wanted:  good stories, without “nasty” language, explicit but not “gross, romantic, things they could read fast, authors that produced a lot of material to feed their appetite, easily accessible, and cheap.  And thus, Little Red Hen Romance was born.

The Coop opened it’s doors in May of this year and since then I’ve seen more success there than I have in the five years I’ve been writing professionally.  So what’s the deal?  What is it?  Little Red Hen stories are short (except for some coming releases that I’ll tell you about later).  They only take about an hour (the space of your lunch break) to read.  They’re extremely romantic stories.  Nobody will be degraded, “hit and quit,” spat on, cursed at, etc. in an LRH story.  The hero and heroine may not be in love when the story begins, but they are by the end.  The writing is strong.  Really strong.  NYT Bestseller strong.  You don’t have to worry about plot abysses, unbelievable turns of events, bad vocabulary, poor word choice, horrendous dialogue.  It doesn’t exist.  We only accept the most talented writers we can find.  Our stories are love stories that are funny, sexy, and have excellent dialogue.  LRH releases 3-4 NEW stories each month, so your appetite is constantly fed.  Even better than that– the first weekend they’re released they’re FREE. And if you’re a member of Amazon Prime, you can read on Kindle Unlimited for FREE anytime.  And once they go off promotion, the shorts are never more than 99 cents.  Never.  In the coming months we’re looking to expand into novels and anthologies but those will still be sold at a rock bottom price.  Most subgenres are represented, but historicals seem to be our bread and butter lately.

So give us a try.  You can peruse our selection at the website by clicking on the picture above.  I promise you won’t be disappointed.  You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter.  We’re constantly having release parties, livetweets and just having a great time.

Just in case you still have any doubt… here’s a sample:

He winked and bid her to sit.  “Please.  Sit with me here.”  She was very careful as she lowered herself on the end of the queenLRHbench, arms crossed over her chest.  He was close, making her anxious.  As he sat she realized that she was actually leaning away from him.  She didn’t want him to see how her hands trembled even weighed down by the magnificent ring of diamond and sapphire.  “You can sit by me, Joanna.  I don’t bite.”

“Of course,” she said, inching closer.  “You’ll have to forgive my nature.  I’m not used to much company.”

“Well, in a convent…”

“…not that they were a silent order.”

“…but what could nuns possibly have to talk about?”

“Indeed.” 

“Our Lord Jesus, hellfire and the virgin Mary are pretty much their repertoire of conversation topics.” 

Joanna giggled, covering her mouth with her hands.  She’d been taught that a lady should never laugh out loud, but she was just so relieved to find that Will was not the wretched king from a child’s story.  “You mustn’t be blasphemous.”

“Oh I should warn you now, then.  I am the most wicked of blasphemers.” He placed his hand atop hers and squeezed affectionately.  “But I hope you’ll forgive me, my queen.”

Joanna looked down at his hand, so large and calloused against her own small and delicate fingers.  She laced hers between and admired the contrast.  “Your Grace is always forgiven.”  She moved closer to him, and he welcomed her into his side, sliding an arm around her shoulders.

A Checklist Before Entering the Imaginarium

imaginarium

I’m a crazy person today.  And it’s not likely to get any better.  Those of you that read the Belle regularly know that this isn’t significantly different than how I normally am.  But today there IS in fact a reason.  In a day and a half, I’ll be heading to Louisville, KY for this year’s Imaginarium Convention.   Most of my author friends attend conventions throughout the year: Dragon*Con, MystiCon, ConCarolinas… VaginaCon… just kidding about that last one.  Conventions are hard work, but they’re probably the most fun promotional event I do as an author.  I get to meet people, network and get together with friends I never get to see.  What is the Imaginarium Convention, you ask?  Only the most awesome concept for a Con I’ve ever heard of.  The whole thing started as an innocent conversation between brainchild Stephen Zimmer and some other authors. What if we could take the fun concept of the sci-fi convention and roll it into those expensive writer/ reader cons like RT Con or Romanticon or Book Expo?  Imagine it– an AFFORDABLE convention where writers in ALL GENRES could get together and do panels, readings and signings AND sell their books AND participate in cosplay AND gather with other fanpeople (because we know that most artists are geeks– after all, let us not forget that all fandoms originate with some sort of writer).  Crazy thought isn’t it?  Not so, says Stephen Zimmer! And thus, The Imaginarium Convention was born.

So back to why I’m a crazy person.  Because, like most Cons I participate in, I’m so not ready.  To the untrained eye, when I do panels, I usually look pretty put together.  I have books and cards and my tablet with a scroll of my book covers and I’m wearing lipstick– the whole shootin’ match.  THIS IS ALL A FACADE!  I have a million things to do between now and Friday at 5am when I leave to go up.

Lexxx’s To Do List: 

*  laundry

*  cheap ass beauty maintenance:  self-serv mani-pedi, eyebrow plucking, moisturizing, trimming the verge…

*  robbing Peter to pay Paul

*  packing

*  cutting up the wiener dog’s epilepsy pills so her poor father doesn’t have to do it

*  update all links for flyers

*  create flyers for the #TeamErotica panel

Ask me how much of this has been done.  You guessed it.  None.  So I suppose I’ll get started on that tonight.  In the meantime, if you’re in the Louisville area this weekend, I’d love to see you!  Admission is $35 for the weekend, but I think you can buy day passes.  It’s a steal for anyone who aspires to write, loves to read and discover new authors or just have a fantastic time.  If you’re there, come on over and look for me.  I’ll be the one in the tiara!

For more information about Imaginarium, click the graphic above OR find us on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/imaginariumconvention

Sharp Decline in Ellora’s Cave Sales… DUH!

me and amy (2)Well, I’ve kept my mouth shut for months now.  People have gone so far as to ask me point blank about the upset going on with Ellora’s Cave and I’ve politely changed the subject.  Or maybe given some cryptic comments like “don’t get me started.”  But I’m not going to hold my tongue any longer because well… what have I got to lose at this point?  I’m also sick of seeing people who have NO idea what they’re talking about making judgments for the sake of pointing and laughter.

Now, you’re probably thinking that this is going to be the start of a rant where I trash Ellora’s Cave and just generally commit career suicide.  Well the joke’s on you, because I’m not going to do that.  I’ve been with EC for over a year now and in that time I can say nothing but nice things about how I’ve been treated as an author.  My editor, Rebecca Hill, is an absolute delight– top of the line (but more about that later).  My royalties were paid out monthly and for the most part on time, despite any glitchy computer issues.  My thoughts and concerns about my books have always been addressed and dealt with.  Ms. Gorlinsky and Mrs. Marks have always been attentive to any communications and very forthright in their answers to concerns.  All this being said, I have to tell you, kittens, that I’m pretty heartbroken over some of the things that have gone down in the last several months.

Let me start by saying that I LOVED EC books.  They’re part of what shaped me as the writer I am today.  They inspired me to believe that I could write the romances that I wanted to read.  That romance wasn’t just for sweet little librarian types (no offense to any librarians) who loved those sweeping bodice rippers where everyone was named Tarquin St. James.  They could be gritty, explicit stories with Alpha heroes that were as smart as they were dangerous.  My very first EC book was Bitten by Sherri L. King.  I read the whole thing sitting on the beach and nearly burned myself to a crisp.  After I turned the last page, I said to myself, “You can do this, Lexxx.  You can write a romance novel for women like you.”  I started writing with every intention of one day becoming an Ellora’s Cave author.  Which I did when I published “One Hundred Strokes” last year.  Since then, I’ve put out three more books with them with one more on the way.  My royalty checks haven’t been horrible, but let’s just say I haven’t quit my day job.  I’d be happy as a clam to continue handing them quality erotic fiction to satisfy their readers as long as they’d have me.  But after the last few months, I’ve started to question my position a bit.

The first blow came in the form of the big announcement that the savior of the press was going to be a book series by Farrah Abraham.  I have not read her book.  I have no plans to read her book.  I only know the image that Ms. Abraham has put forth on the internet and on television.  And this is not an image that I would want people to associate with me or my work.  What I’m selling are story driven books with an erotic edge.  All indications point to Ms. Abraham selling pornography.  Not that there’s a thing wrong with that.  That’s just not me and I can’t say I was happy to see that her books were going to be sitting beside mine on the virtual shelf.  It’s a bit like serving a porterhouse steak on a trash can lid (to borrow from Bill Cosby).  But that wasn’t even what bothered me.  Not really.  What bothered me the most was the way in which it was presented to me.  Ms. Abraham’s series was announced to me in an email that basically painted her like the Jesus Christ of erotic fiction and wasn’t I just pleased as a parsnip to have her on board?  There was this notion that her readers would flock to the press and find the rest of us hacks, so we should do our best to get the word out about her books.  It was insulting, despite how it was intended.  1.)  No one announced my coming to EC like Moses to the Hebrews.  2.)  No one pushed my book out in a couple of months (ebook and print simultaneously).  3.) No one offered me national promotional opportunities (i.e.– Cosmopolitan, syndicated radio, etc.) I shudder to imagine how much money the press has spent on promotion for this ONE AUTHOR when they have scads of really good writers who have been faithful to them for years.

The next blow came weeks later with the now infamous letter about the decline in sales on Amazon that is requiring Ellora’s Cave to cut back on staff.  There are many theories as to why this is happening.  Some theories are painting EC as just another media conglomerate that’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.  The bottom line is this:  of COURSE EC sales are declining.  Once upon a time EC was the only game in town.  They were the only place to buy quality erotic fiction that was written with the woman in mind.  There was no such thing as small press or indie authors (well, there may have been, but nobody was really talking about those).  Self-publishing was still a dirty word.  And then the eBook boom came.  Finally we got the hang of those handy little devices and the big giant head at Amazon proclaimed, “bring me your tired, your trashy, your shower nozzle masturbation material.”  Suddenly the market was FLOODED with “Taken by the T-Rex” for JUST 99 CENTS! and Come read my 1st book in the “Ridin’ Stepdaddy’s Pole Series” for FREE!  You can get your rocks off for free now, isn’t that great!?  It’s tough to compete with 10 book bundles for 99 cents. Especially when Ellora’s Cave is still offering their books for the same prices they always have been.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that we start giving books away.  The people screaming “I’m not paying 7 bucks for 150 page book” make me just as angry because it lends credence to the notion that writing a book isn’t hard work and it isn’t worth paying for.  I mean, come on– you pay almost 7 bucks for a cup of coffee from Starbucks.  Daily.  And making coffee is far less miraculous.  In the words of Harlan Ellison, “Pay the writer!”

The cutbacks have affected me personally by thrusting me into this horrible state of “wait and see.”  I have books almost ready to go, but now, I’m seriously questioning if I want to give them over to a publisher that has, as of late, acted irresponsibly.  It’s a bit like a working mom who needs to work, but doesn’t want to send her child to the daycare down the street with the rusty playground equipment.  My editor, the brilliant Rebecca Hill (who is a freelance editor– shoot me a message if you need one) was one of the victims of the cutbacks.  Which means that I have no editor and therefore no idea what’s going to happen to any future submissions.  Of course, given the article I read over the weekend and the email threads I’ve been a part of— that might not be such a bad thing.  The most recent stink has been the rumor that EC will be copyediting books ONLY (this means just giving it a once over for punctuation, etc.) with no input from the author and releasing it without author approval.  EC of course says this is ludicrous, but there’s a multitude of evidence to the contrary.  Including common sense.  How are 3 or 4 people going to thoroughly edit THOUSANDS of manuscripts?  Simple answer:  they aren’t.  Just out of curiosity– doesn’t that void the contract?  Releasing a book without edits seems to be a violation of rights.

And I’m not going to mention the nonpayment of royalties because that hasn’t happened to me.  Yet.  Again, wait and see.  Do I believe it’s happening to others?  Hells yeah.  Am I pissed off on their behalf?  Of course I am.

I’m not going to rehash what others have done.  Dear Author and other outlets have done that pretty efficiently.  I’m not going to commit career suicide by posting a misspelled and grammatically incorrect rant that makes me look like a crazy person.  The whole thing is turning ugly and starting to look like a bunch of trashy women shouting at one another across the parking lot of the trailer park.  “You better stop talkin’ ’bout me or I’ma come over there and bust you in your eye and turn you over to the secret police!” You know, that sort of thing.  Others want authors to rise up and have some kind of 60s style sit in with signs and chanting.  I’m not sure that’s not a publicity stunt in and of itself.  Personally, I’m going to take care of me and mine.  I’m not going to be silent, but I’m also not going to be hothead.  Voices are powerful, so my advice to my fellow authors is to watch what’s coming out of your face and in the words of Christian Bale:  Be a fucking professional!

internal screaming

 

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!

BLOG TOUR: Top Ten Horror Movie Villains

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Welcome!  Today kicks off the Death’s Dance blog tour.  That’s right, author Crymsyn Hart is stopping by the blog today to talk about her top ten horror movie villains.  And Crymsyn knows horror movies.

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Yes, it’s true I am a big lover of horror movies. Have been since the first time I saw one when I was four. That movie was Poltergeist. I remember peeking out from behind the chair in our living room and watching the movie. Although I can’t recall what about the movie frightened me the most, probably that darn clown doll that attacks the kids because it still creeps me out today. From that first movie I was hooked.

I watch B movies and some I classify as C grade movies because we know they are just so bad that you can’t look away. For a couple of years when I was a teenager and there were such things as video rental places, I would walk up the street and rent a video for $1.25. And the video store was stocked with movies from Full Moon Productions way back in the 1990’s and I watched things like Subspecies, Puppet Master, Meridian, & Trancers to name a few.

Horror villains come in all shapes, sizes, and other supernatural varieties. Here are my favorite top ten.

  • Death – from the Final Destination movies because you can’t cheat death.
  • Blade – From all the Puppet Master movies
  • The Tall Man – Phantasm franchise
  • PumpkinHead – PumpkinHead
  • Pennywise – It
  • Radu – Subspecies Movies
  • Freddy Krueger – Nightmare on Elm Street
  • The Creeper- Jeepers Creepers
  • Chrome Skull – Laid to Rest & Chrome Skull: Laid to Rest 2
  • David – Lost Boys

 

 

So yeah these probably are the typical ones most people pick. However, these are some of my favorite franchises I watch while I’m writing. If you haven’t seen any, I suggest checking them out.

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DeathsDance1200X800Ugh!  How is David from The Lost Boys not higher on the list??!!!  He’s one of my favorites as well.  But I suppose I have to forgive Crymsyn, as she is a true goddess of horror.  This month, she’s spotlighting her new release from Seventh Star Press, Death’s Dance.  Here’s a little taste:

Being a psychic, you would think talking to the dead was a walk in the park. However, it’s not always that simple. The hooded specter haunting me is one I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid. One day, he appeared in my bedroom mirror. Good. Evil. I don’t know what his true intentions are. Enter Jackson, ghost hunting show host extraordinaire, and my ex, to save me from the big bad ghost. From there…well…it’s been a world wind of complications. My house burnt down. I’m being stalked by an ancient evil and gotten myself back into the world of being a ghost hunting psychic. Jackson dragged me, along with a few other psychics, to a ghost town wiped off the map called Death’s Dance.

From there things went from bad to worse.

 

 

You’re asking, where can I get this jewel??  This tome of horrific loveliness that will haunt my dreams so badly that I’ll have to shove it in the freezer til morning?  Well, kittens, you can just click on the cover above or follow these links:

Kindle Version: http://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Dance-Deathly-Encounters-Book-ebook/dp/B00L8JOJAY

Print Version: http://www.amazon.com/Deaths-Dance-Crymsyn-Hart/dp/1941706134

Barnes and Noble:  http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/deaths-dance-crymsyn-hart/1119890521?ean=9781941706138

Kobo:  http://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/books/death-s-dance/8MJfOZ9G80ubXTya7VDoEA?MixID=8MJfOZ9G80ubXTya7VDoEA&PageNumber=1

You can also stalk Crymsyn in many other venues:  CrymsynHart

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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Bio:

Crymsyn 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.

NEW RELEASE: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

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Well baby loves, I’ve been away on vacation for a week but now I’m back and ready to roll!  The last few days I’ve been playing “catch up” at the day job, doing LOTS of laundry and trying to figure out Google+ (Do people really use that?  If you do, please join me there and teach me the ways of your people.).

Well is there a more perfect way to come back after vacation than to have a shiny new release?  I don’t think so.  That’s right, it’s finally available from Ellora’s Cave— “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.”  It’s a short little erotic horror piece that was shamelessly inspired by the craziness of the #Sherlock fandom.  In fact, I’m really expecting some kind of cease and desist order from #BenedictCumberbatch ‘s legal team.  I defy you not to see the similarities in the “hero”, Alexander Kensington and Mr. #Cumberbatch.  Though, I have to apologize a little for that.  I can’t tell you why, as it would spoil the story.  Just keep in mind— it’s erotic HORROR.  “Happily ever after” is not part of the equation.  So I’m going to shut up and give you a little glimpse….

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I did a little research before hitting the salon. Just a little. Alex’s tastes in women haven’t really changed all that much—blonde stick figures with lazy bedroom eyes and pale skin. Or, as I like to call them, corpses. The hardest part, really, was losing the weight. For a year I’ve done nothing but eat seaweed and go for unenergetic walks around the block. The good news is, I now have that ghostly, wan look I’ve always wanted. Then all I needed was a little hair dye, some makeup and a new red dress. Standing in front of the full length mirror in the hotel bathroom, I surprised myself. For a moment I might have believed that I could actually be one of them. One of those posh peacocks who looked like living goddesses as they strolled down the street.

Teetering on high heels, I step out to cross the street to his hotel. It’s late, nearly midnight. He’ll be at the bar, having a drink at a table in the corner and trying to be unobtrusive. It’s been his habit each night for several weeks. Come in from set, take a shower, put on something casual and un-put-together and head down to the hotel bar for a vodka and tonic. He stays there for about an hour. That’s how long it usually takes for some doe-eyed waitress to catch his eye. They exchange niceties. He compliments her smile. She stammers and blushes, immediately recognizing him by that gravely baritone voice. Innocently, he flashes his famous boyish grin and begs for her utmost discretion, which she will, of course give. At least until the next morning on Twitter. He always leaves a pile of cash on the table and then ushers her out of the bar and up to his room. It’s Alex’s M.O. and it isn’t new. Of course, tonight will be different. Tonight I’ll be the prey.

Copyright  © Alexandra Christian, 2014; All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Ok, so now that I’ve tempted you with an excerpt, I better tell you where you can find this jewel.  You can click the image above or go to http://www.ellorascave.com/gentlemen-prefer-blondes.html to download in any of your favorite eBook formats.  I’ve also put together a little muse board on Pinterest if you’re interested.  It has pics, music, recipes and little excerpts from the story:  http://www.pinterest.com/lexxxchristian/gentlemen-prefer-blondes/ .  And speaking of social media– I’ve done a little update page that has all of my links so you can stalk me better.  If you aren’t following me on Twitter, Facebook, etc– you’re missing out.  I’m way funnier on Twitter at 2am.  Just sayin’…