I miss Halloween. There was a time when it was the only holiday. I never really cared that much about my birthday. After all, something always went wrong. Like the time we made chocolate chocolate chip muffins for my birthday, went out to do a night time easter egg hunt (my birthday is the 27th of March), lost a Maglite flashlight and came back to find that our dog had eaten all the tops off the muffins. Some of the muffins had been eaten whole, paper included (yeah, he was known for that trick). The twenty pound terrier had to jump at least three feet straight up into the air onto a slick metal surface without sliding off to accomplish that feat. Brava, Trooper. But that's just one example. There are many more. Suffice it to say, my lucky number is 13 (another testament to my weirdness, but that's another story), my unlucky number is 27.
In a child's life, I feel like there are only really three holidays: Halloween, Christmas, and Easter. Maybe this is because each of these holidays involved the receipt of candy. And, boy, do I love chocolate. Even when I used to love Christmas, the other two holidays were easily out shined by Halloween (even if I got more gifts at Christmas). I loved dressing up in costume (and still do thanks to Renaissance festivals) and I've had an obsession with things like vampires, witches, werewolves, ghosts, and et cetera since I could remember. Maybe I watched Gremlins one too many times when I was little. Maybe INXS mutated my brains. For all I know, it was The Little Mermaid that twisted me so.
But there is one thing for certain, if my brother and I loved Halloween with a passion (and all related topics), my dad would become just as adamantly frustrated with it. Not that I blame him. I think just about anyone would eventually tire of hearing about vampires, blood, monsters, ghosts, and what not for half the year. Growing up, I think my Halloween spirit lasted for about nine months out of the year, beginning months before Halloween started and only ending when I was threatened by my dad.
But in recent years, I have stopped celebrating that most favored of holidays. Last year I didn't dress up at all because my family went to the beach for a pirate thing and I couldn't go. This year, my brother's wedding was two days before and I just didn't have time to make plans. I'm not sure what to do about this stagnation of my Halloween spirit. Maybe I need only perpetuate it throughout the year as I did as a child? Maybe, I already do. Maybe, by choosing to write about vampires and werewolves, mermaids, faeries, ghosts, and what not, I am keeping that spirit alive on a day to day basis.
Or maybe I just need to throw convention aside and dress in costume on a regular basis. Do you think anyone at the university would care if I dressed as a faerie?
It never should have happened. None of it should have happened. Looking back, it almost seems inevitable. Like it was fated. Like some twisted fate drew us kicking and screaming from the path we were intended to follow. But isn't that how things always seem, looking back?
Laughably, it started on one of those days that just makes people want to stay indoors. Ominous weather, portentous weather. Windy, rainy, with lightning crackling across the sky, I was in heaven. I love storms. Maybe it was my sensitivity to light that gave me headaches or the ease with which I suffer heat exhaustion. Maybe it's just my overall contrariness. I love doing what others don't. I like rainy days. My favorite number is thirteen. I prefer Halloween (or All Hallow's E'en if you want to get all religious or Samhain if you want to get pagan) to Christmas (wonder of all wonders, another pagan holiday). I never do the popular thing and I like it that way.
That day was no different. I stood outside in the rain and basked in the water and wind beating at my skin. The extra laundry was well worth it. I carried neither raincoat nor galoshes nor umbrella. I wasn't stupid. I didn't want to die today. But people don't always get what they want.
Fate came in the form of a man streaking across my backyard. "Run!" he yelled, grabbing up my arm and yanking me with him. Having had my eyes closed, my arms stretched up to the sky, I jerked off balance and uttered a startled squawk. He never slowed down but dragged me alone until I could get my feet under me.
Long after my legs started to stumble behind him, my heart and lungs protested the abuse. My flip flops were awkward and hurting my feet as they snagged on the uneven ground. I was certain they would break. He turned and crouched down, practically dragging me into his lap. He put a finger up to his lips and mouthed, "Quiet."
Yeah, like that was going to happen. My breath was sawing through my lungs in gasps and starts, wheezing in a way that just sounded wrong to my ears. My heart was jumping around my chest like a Jack Russell Terrier on crack and, no matter what I did, I couldn't seem to keep my movements from stirring the leaves and sticks that littered the ground.
He frowned but pulled me closer, as if he could squeeze my battered lungs into cooperation with his wishes. At least I could say that my face sucking cotton definitely muffled my distress. I didn't see what passed us, but, freak of all freak outs, I felt it. It was cold. Not standing in the rain cold but about to die of exposure cold. As he walked by, I wondered how long it took to get frost bite and marveled at how numb I felt suddenly. My brain scrambled in all directions, trying to flee some instinctual danger but my body unable to comply. I didn't know or care if it was due to exhaustion or fear. It didn't matter. All I knew was we were dead if it found us. The knowledge was like some hereditary instinctual knowledge passed down from when we still lived in trees and hunted like animals.
Long after it passed, I held still, unable to move, unable to breathe. The cold dissipated quickly, but it lingered like an after image. I wasn't really cold, but the memory of it gave me chills and I could almost feel it against my skin, dying to return and possess me. The man I was sprawled across didn't speak, he just loosened his grip and lifted me up until I was standing. He seemed to scan the woods around us, then headed off in a new direction. I was totally lost.
We started running again and my previous hell returned. I lost a flip flop. The other broke shortly after and I stumbled for a few steps before I could kick it off, the man still dragging me by the iron grip on my wrist. By the time he finally stopped, I recognized nothing and felt like I'd been transported to some faraway mythical land, the Kingdom of Back in the Boonies. "What the hell was that about?"
I forgot entirely about keeping quiet and shushed me again. Then he looked at me as if he was suddenly seeing me for the first time. My brain offered comparisons to leeches. I gave him a snide look, daring him try that again when he was the one that dragged me into the middle of the woods with the boogeyman on his tail. Then his face contorted into a look no one ever wants to see. It was a look of condolence, the look a doctor gives you when you only have a few weeks left to live.
"We're dead, aren't we?" I was proud of my calm. Not many could stay calm when confronted with that news. No denial for me.
"Yeah," he bit his lip. "It has our scent. We can't escape it."
"Then why did we run?"
Yeah, I would. Logic might tell me it was pointless, that I was going to die anyway and it would be less painful in the end if I just gave in first, but my body didn't always respond to my brain and my brain didn't always respond to logic. "What if we could disguise our scent somehow?"
"Look around you, what are we going to disguise it with?" His aggravation was slipping out.
"Deer urine?" Yeah, I knew it was a stupid idea but hunting popped into my head and hunters use deer urine to hide their scents. Yeah, dumb idea. I didn't even need to see the eyes he was giving me to know that. "Well, there has to be something!" Then I got mad, "And why the hell did you grab me! It was after you! It would have left me alone!"
"It would have killed you simply because you were in its path."
I shook my head, trying to shake out his logic. I wouldn't believe it. I couldn't. It was his fault. "No, no, no."
"Lady," he grabbed my face in one hand. "Look at me." He tilted my chin, causing my gaze to hit his against my will. "This was the only thing I could do. I'm sorry I passed by you. That was my only sin. I'm sorry."
"No." The word was anguished, filled with everything I was feeling and wishing I wasn't. The feeling of freedom as I held my hands and face to the rain was such a distant memory, I couldn't even fathom the feeling. I was left with a crushing weight that scared me and drove me into a frenzy at the same time it made me feel like giving up. "Can't we try?" The words were small, softly spoken, as if by a child meekly asking to go outside to play.
"Sure, we'll try." I didn't feel it when the killing blow sliced through me, splattering my blood across his face.
This is one of those topics that, in the past, would just be about the art of writing. Or you'd pick a title because you used the phrase in the book somewhere and it was a good representation of the plot. There are a lot of reasons to pick a book title. But, I think a lot of people don't consider the digital era when titling their book. There's more to a book cover nowadays than a catchy cover and a title that draws the eye. We're in the age of SEOs, Amazon, and eDistributors. What works on a bookshelf in Barnes & Noble or your local book store might not necessarily work on Amazon or Google.
So, what needs to be taken into account when naming your book? Searching. You want a reader that is specifically looking for your book to be able to find it. If I search for "The Forever Girl", will that be the first thing that Amazon or Google pops up? Well, I'd hope so, otherwise, you're losing readers that are truly interested.
Now, for some examples. My friend, Glenda Poulter has a book titled Welcome Home. From what I've heard, it is a good book, although I have yet to read it. If you search "Welcome Home" in amazon, it returns 47,372 paperbacks. I will never find her book that way. It doesn't even show up in the first 100 search results. Fortunately, I can find it very easily by searching her name. But not everyone will remember your name. They may remember one or the other, but maybe not both.
Another example is Riley J. Ford's Into You, which is on my list of books to read. "Into You" returns nearly a half a million paperback results, although Ford's book, thankfully turns up first in the search results. I can't guarantee that this isn't because I've been to that page before, though, as search engines tend to be dynamic. I couldn't find this book at all on Goodreads.com and had to add the entry for when I eventually reviewed it. Because the phrase "Into You" is part of a lot more titles that just exactly what I searched, it returned a lot of variations of the title that I didn't want.
I am currently reviewing Heart Song by Samantha LaFantasie. "Heart Song" returns 24,440 paperbacks. LaFantasie's book returns 6th in the search results.
So, I'll close with a word of caution. Do some research before settling on a book title. See how many titles come back when you search a title you are interested in. Tens of thousands might not be bad (even The Forever Girl returned nearly nine thousand results), but I would seriously reconsider anything that returned in the hundreds of thousands range. Be a big fish in a smallish pond, not a zebra fish in an ocean.
Kaycee is an obsessive compulsive copyeditor from Fort Worth, TX and probably has the best grasp of the English language of anyone I have ever met. She is the daughter of a writer friend of mine and there are two things I find unique about her service to writers.
The first is that she will work with you on pricing. Kaycee has been known to work for barter, coordinate with you with regard to scheduled payments and on and on. She knows how hard it can be for a struggling author to shell out the type of money it takes to get a book professionally edited (because she is one) and she really tries to allow her authors to get the editing their books deserve.
The second is that her service is not simply copyediting. You are not paying for a single edit but a work in progress, no matter the tier. She will work back and forth with you, asking questions and for clarification. If you pay for the Level 3 tier, she will help with plot holes and inconsistencies with world building and character generation. She once had a science fiction novel that she asked for the author to write a summary of the world so that she could compare back to it as she edits.
Her testimonials page is filled with rave reviews and I have never heard a bad word about her editing. She has reviewed novels that people actually commented on how well they were edited, that became #1 bestsellers in the genre on Amazon. She helps the author to move the story forward when he or she is blocked by posing questions that can get an author out of a corner.
Kaycee Hawn offers a full service to authors that doesn't stop at the initial edit. She is a resource that cannot be appreciated enough.Renaissance Wordsmith Website
Follow her on twitter @siscilym
Twitter is a great tool for writers to get their name out there, get exposure, network with other authors, gain readers, and learn how to better their writing and learn vital skills they need in order to be successful. But there are also a lot of ways, in our eagerness, that we can end up aggravating our followers and risk people unfollowing us because they're fed up with us.
So, what are some do's and don'ts for marketing on twitter?
So, you've published your book. You've got it in ebook format on Smashwords. You want to shout it from the rooftops. Congratulations. Now lets use that same creativity that helped you write the book to sell it. Anyone will tell you that tweeting, "Buy my book. Buy my book. Buy my book," over and over again is a terrible idea. In fact, what I've found (from my experience on the receiving end) is that the best way to go about it is to never even mention it. Don't mention it. It's okay to say that your book just got published and is on Smashwords. Once, maybe twice. That's cool for those followers that have been waiting impatiently for you to finish. Remember, if somebody is impatient enough to actually care that you've published your book, they can always check your twitter profile directly for the much awaited update. For the rest, you need to draw them in. Think covert, not overt.
Pick quotes from your book and post them with a link to your book's Smashwords page. If you want, you can even mention that it is from your book. I am still undecided as to which would be better, but knowing that it is a quote is important too. You don't want people to give up on checking your links because they think they are always the same. By using quotes from your book, you have a massive supply of varied content to pull from. You could tweet about your book dozens of times a day without actually being repetitive. This is important. There is nothing that will lose you followers faster than repetitiveness, especially for a new author that hasn't established him/herself yet with a reader base.
So, you've published your book. People are reading it. They're raving over it. Again, rooftop shouting time, right? Wrong! Seems like a good idea at first, but eventually reviews get repetitive and if all you do is retweet your reviews, people will stop listening. It's okay to retweet good reviews, but be selective. Pick a few you really like and make it be only a small portion of your tweets. If you do 30 tweets in a day, maybe retweet one review.
Free books. Everyone likes free samples. The quotes thing above falls into this category. A lot of new writers give away books for people that will give reviews. I have a growing number of books that I received that way and look forward to getting to all of them. But it doesn't hurt to come up with little games for your followers to get a free copy. After all, an ebook doesn't really cost anything to give away. Selling it on Amazon or Smashwords costs money (from 15-40% of the book cost), but emailing a free copy is easy and, well, free. A great game that Jacquelyn Frank does is to ask her followers questions from her previous books. The follower has to find the book it is from. "But I don't have a previous book," you say. That's fine. Make them find something from your website or your tweet feed. The first person to get it right gets a free book. Free books = word of mouth = great marketing! People love free and they love to talk about things they got for free. They give reviews, tell their friends, tweet about it, tell their facebook friends. In today's world, a single free copy could reach a massive number of potential readers when it comes to exposure.
Give you an example. I'm just starting with twitter and blogging. I've only been at it a week. Today I have 39 followers. I get about 50 unique visitors to my site a day. I have only 39 friends on facebook. So if I assume overlap, I probably reach about 70 readers directly. Most people have more followers/friends than I do. If one person retweets or comments on it, that's probably at least doubled the exposure of the book, changing that one free book into exposure to anywhere from seventy to tens of thousands of viewers, depending on the follower. That type of exposure would cost a lot of money. More than the average author can afford, for certain.
Nowadays, people are entirely too sensitive. Profanity is one of those things that isn't considered polite in mixed company. Anyone who knows me in anything other than a professional capacity is probably well aware how foul mouthed I am. I know, I try. I really, really try. But it's a lot like trying to dam up the Nile with two toothpicks and a spatula. I have no idea how to do it and it seems really, really inadequate. I do succeed most of the time, and for that, I am proud. I make slips a few times a day, but mostly they are while I am alone and don't really care (e.g. mouthing off someone that cut me off or yelling at my computer because it doesn't do what I want it to).
I really don't understand the problem though. What is so bad about cursing? I've always been of the mind that I would much rather someone bark a curse word out at me in a fit of rage or frustration than a well thought out insult. A curse word isn't anywhere near as demeaning as someone telling you (not in so many words, but this was the gist) that you're a sadistic bitch. Specifically, he said, "You did that on purpose." He had a nerve injury to his hand that caused him pain. My lab coat apparently grazed it without my knowledge. The conversation deteriorated after that and he was a real bastard about it. Treated me like a child, which I didn't take to well. But I was a good little lab tech and tried to ignore him and go back to my job. Eventually, I got in trouble for saying he was acting like an asshole. I got in trouble for saying asshole but he didn't get in trouble for bringing me to tears. Go figure.
Moving on, most people have to stop and think in order not to curse. A person generally means no offense when they say a curse word. It's a heat of the moment thing. It's a way in which to vent. But a person can pack a whole lot of hurt in a sentence if they want to (see the example above). People don't need curse words to be cruel.
So I say, the hell with sensitivity and let 'em fly!
I'll admit it. Yes, I do read romances. I know what you're thinking. They're trashy, formulaic and completely lacking in any literary value. Well, that's sometimes true. And I've definitely read a few like that, but Accidentally Catty (and by association the rest of the series), is not. To my credit, I am fairly discerning when it comes to romances. At least, most of the time. It's like horror movies. Yes, I like the CG blockbusters, but occasionally, you just have to watch those terrible no name flicks that just make you laugh the entire time they are so bad. Back to my point, I am discerning. I almost exclusively read paranormal romance and anything funny (Janet Evanovich, you are awesome). Dakota Cassidy has the ability to blend the two things I like to see in my romance, monster creatures and inconvenient bouts of laughter.
Though the main character is Katie, I've got to admit that I can't help but feeling that the infectious Nina is really the one that makes the book (and by association, the series). Nina is loud-mouthed, profane, and constantly threatens violence. In each book, there is a healthy subset of the cast that is terrified of her. For that, I love her. And that would be enough. I love those types of characters and they are frequently not used enough in writing, in favor of more amicable individuals that are easier to get to know. And yet, once you get beyond her insensitive, callous, symbolically body armored exterior, she is as loving and lovable as a puppy dog. She is loyal to her friends, coos over children, and loves on dogs, cats, and guinea pigs. What's not to love?
Now, on to the main characters, Katie and Shaw. Cassidy has a fondness for the cast aside trophy wife, which she revives in Katie - divorcee to a man that destroyed the life she knew, seemingly out of spite. Though not a trophy wife, Katie has the same feelings of inadequacy, further cemented by the town's reception of her upon arrival. She is searching for that once attained but elusive acceptance, which the town refuses to give. Shaw has amnesia and is cute as a button, personality-wise. He is funny and fun-loving, always with a joke and brightens up the heroine's life. Of course, dastardly plots are a-foot and the couple are stuck in the middle of it, with accusations flying and hope being dashed at every corner.
Because I don't like to write spoilers, I'll conclude with the thought that this was a good read. Suspenseful, intriguing, funny, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, even though it was a romance. Like with most romances, I prefer to read romances that could remove the sex scenes and still have a worthwhile book. Accidentally Catty definitely fits the bill.
I glanced through an article today that bemoaned the UK's tendency to restrict what dictates a good read. I would have read it in full, but I'm supposed to be studying. I just can't seem to focus today (or this week really). I get like that when I've found a new toy (e.g. figuring out blogging, twitter, actually getting somewhere in my editing).
It said that other venues, like the US, have had a movement toward this concept they called "novel-as-art-form". I tend to disagree. I am frequently discouraged, especially as a sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal writer, when people rag on novels in this genre for stretching the boundaries of science and writing plot points "for convenience". An example would be the speed of growth of Renesmee in Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer. Meyer's books (and movies) have a tendency to invoke the rabid dog in people with few people I meet being ambivalent unless they're neither read the books nor watched the movies.
What really saddens me was that the woman that commented on Meyer's writing was a writer herself. I would not have expected it from a fellow writer. To me, writing is the world of infinity. It is everything and no scenario is out of the realm of possibility unless the mind cannot fathom it. In writing, we, as authors, can make any world, changing the politics, the people, even the very laws that government the way the universe is put together. Nothing is sacred and anything goes.
To say that using a writer's creativity and coming up with things that cannot happen in real life is "for convenience" is simple narrow-mindedness. I love writing and reading because there is never a shortage of what the mind can think up. There is always some new, different idea and the written word rarely has the restrictions that other media do, like movies and TV, which have become increasingly formulaic and repetitive.
So I encourage you all, stretch your minds. Reach for the stars. And don't forget that in books, we can reach for worlds we would never, otherwise, be able to visit.
The right edge of my vision darkened. A streetlamp on the other side of the street had winked out. A man stood beside the iron post, staring. The overlapping spread of light from the flanking streetlamps revealed the muted gloss of black shoes with red outsoles and the frayed hem of denim, but otherwise, the shadows obscured his features, leaving him silhouetted against the Jackson family's prized hydrangeas.
My heart flip-flopped, and I narrowed my eyes, a silent dare for him to keep standing there. He stepped further into the shadows. When he didn't reappear beneath the next streetlamp, I squinted into the darkness. He couldn't have disappeared.
This novel grabs you nearly from the first page and it drove me nuts that my schedule didn't allow me to indulge as I wanted to. I am completely and utterly exhausted now as I had only read about a quarter of the book before I picked it up today, but plowed through the rest as if it were nothing at all. To give you an idea how exhausted I am, I woke up at 6:30 a.m. for class and it is now 2 a.m.. It has been a long day, but I've also thoroughly enjoyed myself.
The Forever Girl details the extraordinary events in the life of a young woman named Sophia Parsons. The novel is paranormal fiction with a healthy dose of romance thrown in there but not the formulaic nonsense that some publishers spit out. There's action and drama and suspense and past life regressions, special powers, and supernatural creatures that are up to no good. All in all, a fun read (and yes, it made me laugh and smile at times).
I loved the depth of the characterization in the novel. Sophia is by no means a simple character and, like anyone you truly get to know, she contradicts herself upon closer inspection. She made me smile and laugh at her inner thought and dialogs, many times because of how relatable they are to everyday life. Secondary characters Ivory and Charles are equally deep, even though the Hamilton rarely deviates from Sophia's perspective.
Rebecca Hamilton creates a unique world of supernatural creatures that isn't quite like any I've ever read and pulls it off with an entertaining flair that draws the reader in and keeps you until the last page. I thoroughly encourage you to pick up The Forever Girl by Rebecca Hamilton. Just make sure you have enough time so finish it as you won't be able to put it down!
File type: ePub
About the Author:
Rebecca Hamilton writes Paranormal Fantasy, Horror, and Literary Fiction. She lives in Florida with her husband and three kids, along with multiple writing personalities that range from morbid to literary. She enjoys dancing with her kids to television show theme songs and would love the beach if it weren't for the sand. Having a child diagnosed with autism has inspired her to illuminate the world through the eyes of characters who see things differently.
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