Excerpt from Forever After

In a quiet southern town, a predator lurked.  Or maybe lurking wasn’t really the word for it.  He leered.  A monster in human clothing, he ambled quietly but confidently though the small downtown, taking in the mural on the side of a building on Fayetteville.  Brushing past a laughing couple as they headed home for the night.  Catching a glimpse of his reflection in his peripheral vision, just a flash of movement flitting across the glass front of Foust Photography.  He moved on, knowing the residents of the no longer dry city would be trickling out of Lumina as the festivities ended for the night.  

He loped across the street, avoiding an SUV and weaving around diagonally parked cars as he reached the other side.  He made the sidewalk without incident and proceeded to lean nonchalantly against the building across the street, around the corner from the giant metal mosquito.  His hollow eyes passed over married couples in their forties that had come to sip wine in the hip little establishment and small groups that had met and then quickly disbursed as they reached the parking lot, waving goodbye to their friends and saying farewell as half the weekend was already behind them.  He critically studied the brick building, decorated with a clay tile overhang instead of the standard awning.  He let the white string lights play tricks with his eyes out of boredom.  Waiting for the right moment, waiting for the right person.

Although it would go unnoticed, the corner of his mouth twitched ever so slightly as a young woman, probably barely old enough to drive let alone drink, stumbled out of the establishment that specialized in wine and beer.  He’d always liked them young.  Fortunately, he’d gotten over his fixation with jail bait, not that it really mattered anymore.

He followed the young woman, occasionally keeping her within reach simply by sense of smell, an alluring aroma indeed.  Anymore, a woman's appearance meant far less to him than what she smelled like.  Nothing worse than a woman who wore perfume that directly contrasted her body chemistry or her flavor of shampoo.  This one, on the other hand, smelled intoxicating.  He drank in the bouquet of her as he followed the enticing young woman to the relative seclusion of her car.  She seemed to prefer fruity scents.  Her hair smelled of sweet strawberries and her skin of raspberries, salt, and a slight musk from a long day.  Another almost smile played on his lips as she reached her car.

She fumbled with her keys at first, trying to manipulate the button on her key fob to unlock the doors of her large SUV, which likely only ever held one passenger and NEVER went off road, he thought with a twinge of disgust.  He ambled quietly behind her and whispered, “Excuse me,” his voice both soothing and masculine at the same time.  She let out a strangled noise and dropped her keys.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to startle you,” he lied.  “I seem to have misplaced my designated driver,” he continued coolly, knowing full well he was stone cold sober.

“Huh?” she replied, confusion clouding her face as her eyes met those of the perfect stranger that was suddenly right on top of her in a dark parking lot.  He groaned inwardly to himself.  This one wasn’t very sharp.  He enjoyed it so much better when he saw that instant of illumination in her eyes when she realized how much danger she was in.

He slinked up closer to her and held her chin firmly in his grasp.  “I thought I wanted to play with you.  I like playing.  Makes the game a bit more interesting.”  He could feel her trembling under his touch and a wave of exhilaration swept through him.  As good as sex, really.  “You’re not very interesting though and I’m afraid the games won’t last very long this time.”

“Huh?” she whimpered, this time with fear sending a quiver through the syllable that stretched it more than a southern drawl ever could.  He could feel the slightest smile twitch onto his face as he soaked in the fear that was overflowing from her eyes and trickling down her cheeks.  He licked the salty tears up and said, “Hmm.  You know?  Maybe I was wrong.  Maybe you will be fun.  My mother always said not to play with my food but I never could resist.  Always was the bad boy.”  He let another smile slide across his face, this time letting it fully blossom, his intent showing in the set of his eyes and the glint of a passing car’s headlights on his canines.  She opened her mouth to scream but he silenced it in an instant.  He would play with her, yes.  She scared easily.  Who knows?  If he was lucky, maybe she would be entertaining for a couple of hours.  The only thing he knew for certain was that no one would ever see her alive again.  He smiled his little twisted smile, toying with the idea of the last words escaping those full lips being his name, Giovanni.

I've heard a lot of bad things about traditional publishing, especially the big six - wait five, recently.  I've heard about how they make almost no profit.  I've heard how bookstore returns are strangling them.  I've heard how they take it all out on authors so they can turn a profit.  They see companies like Amazon or people self-publishing as the enemy.  They are tightening down the hatches, preparing for the storm.  

Clearly, something is wrong.

But what can they do to fix it?  I say, change their way of thinking.  Some things would be hard to change, like changing the return policies for bookstores.  It would require an industry-wide change in policies that isn't likely to happen any time soon.  But other things could be implemented right now without difficulty.

Instead of seeing self-publishing authors as the enemy, see them as doing work for them.  After all, much of the losses with publishing companies are from funding losing ventures.  How about only funding the winners?  After all, with self-publishing, we can easily sift the winners from the losers.  Who's a safe bet?  How bout that author that just hit the #1 bestseller on Amazon for 2012.  Publishers could eliminate the gamble in publishing, lowering the risk and increasing the return.

This would mean eliminating what is getting to be an increasing rare beast to begin with - new and mid-tier authors at major publishing houses.  But, honestly, these individuals could do better by other means anyway.  They have the resources.  They are probably expected to do a lot of self-promotion anyway.  They'd be making better profit margins on their own.  After all, some of them already have a fan base.

But how to recruit these Indie-authors away from their current avenues of publishing?  Well, there are some things money just can't buy.  One of those is time.  Take an author that has already made it and give them the freedom to do what they love - write.  Offer to manage the promotion, marketing, and et cetera.  Offer them royalties that, while maybe not as good as what they currently make, aren't that far off.  Hell, offer decent health insurance and I'm sure a few would jump at the chance.

The publishing industry is changing.  A few years ago, I saw publishing a novel, becoming an author, as a pipe dream that had no chance of coming true.  It was the reason I got into science.  I wanted to be an author.  Being a scientist would keep the lights on.  I never expected to be published and saw self-publishing as means for people to pad their own egos.  Now, I see having a published novel as something not in the realm of impossibilities but a possibility, even an inevitability.  It will happen.  It's just a matter of how successful I'll be.
I've come to think that a lot of new authors have this erroneous idea of "the editor".  They see an editor as this end all and be all of editing that makes your book perfect and that's that.  I was probably like this at some time as well.  In truth, "the editor" largely doesn't exist - especially for self publishing.  I've known people that published their books through publishers that were completely unsatisfied with their editors assigned by the publishing company.  Some are better than others.  And even then, you should never rely on the editor.  After all, editors are human too. They'll miss some too, so it's always a good idea to put your book in as many hands as possible.

For clarification, I'd like to also eradicate some myths with regarding to the editing process as well.  Editing is not a one step process.  It has many steps and they can seem endless.

Steps to Editing:
  • Writer Edits (and there are many)
  • Beta Readers
  • Copyediting
  • Proofreading

Though I've only mentioned four stages here, you must also understand that the editing process loops back a lot.  So you've finished the writer edits?  Yay!  On to the beta readers.  Beta readers finish?  Back to the writer edits!  On to the copyediting?  Yay!  Then back to writer edits. Repeat as needed.  And you can get stuck in a vicious cycle, looping between copyediting and writer edits (for example) as you try to work with your editor correcting what he or she sees.

By the time you finish editing, you've seen the book so many times you feel like your eyes should bleed and you get to where you really don't like the story anymore.  I got that way a few years ago and have severely rewritten it since then.

So, whether you are self-publishing or going through a publisher, be paranoid about editing.  It will save you from being surprised by a reviewer later.
Excerpt from Forever After

I was still in the hospital.  The pain was back and the morphine wasn’t worth shit.  So, I just lay there, curled into a ball and whimpering mostly silently.   Unfortunately, between the IV morphine drip and the blood transfusion, I couldn’t bend my right arm and my arm kept twitching as I tried to keep myself from drawing it toward my center.  The light was hurting my eyes again, even though the shades were drawn and they’d turned off the overhead lights.  The nurse had come in to check on me not that long ago but I’d felt okay then.  How long ago had it been?  A half an hour?  An hour?  Two?

“Knock, knock,” a male voice called from the now open door, the light searing even through my closed eyelids.

A moan escaped me as he quickly eased the door closed behind him.

“Sorry,” he moved toward the side of the bed quickly, his slip resistant soles not making a sound against the industrial flooring.  “I’ll go get the nurse or the doctor to look in on you, okay?” He reached to pat my shoulder reassuringly.

I’m not really sure what my brain was thinking.  Maybe it wasn’t.  I sure didn’t remember telling my body to move, even though it did.  Quicker than I thought I was capable of moving in my condition, I seized his arm, holding on for dear life, it seemed.  I finally opened my eyes.

“Wow,” he smiled, trying and failing to disguise a grimace.  “You sure are strong.”

For a dead woman.  The thought crossed my in a brief moment of clarity.  No, no dead.  Dying.  The clarity slipped away and something else took over.  My hand shook where it was still attached to the orderly.

He gently laid his hand over mine where it rested on his arm and slowly tried to pry off my fingers without hurting me.  Reflexively, my fingers dug in deeper.  His grimace returned.  “Easy, Dr. Rossi.  Just let go and I’ll be able to get you some help.  Okay?”  He squinted, looking deeper into my eyes.  “Dr. Rossi?  Are you in there?”

Next, he leaned in closer, moving his throat toward my mouth.  At the time, some part of me thought he was offering me a buffet.  Now, I think he must have seen my lips moving reflexively and thought I was trying to speak.  My eyes drifted closed as he came within inches of my mouth.  I tried to move my face away when I was assaulted by some abrasive cologne, but then was hit with another scent that had my eyes popping open and, before I knew it, I was leaning in and breathing in deep.

“Ma’am?” he said on a startled breath, trying to jerk away.

I didn’t let him, but extended my arm around his shoulders and brought him back.  My teeth were already sinking in before any portion of my mind had the faintest inkling as to what I was doing.  The hot, thick, metallic-tasting liquid started flowing and I started lapping at it without thought.

He tried to get away.  He was yelling and shoving and hitting me but I didn’t notice.  Everything I was at that moment, mostly instinct really, was focused on the liquid flowing down his neck.  My brain didn’t register what it was and I didn’t really care.

The weaker his struggles became, the more I started to come to.  At some point, I realized I was holding the orderly and let go.  He slumped into the floor and my mind reeled trying to grasp what was wrong with him.  I could smell blood.  I looked around and there was blood everywhere.  On the sheets, my gown, my arms.  I could even feel it on my face.  “What?” I said under my breath.  At first, I though the blood bag had somehow ruptured and the orderly had fainted.  Yeah, that made sense.  But I had a nagging feeling I was kidding myself.  So much blood.

I leaned over in the bed on shaky arms to check on the orderly.  He was slumped over on the floor with his head leaned against the night stand at what had to be an uncomfortable angle.  I reached over to touch his neck, which was covered in blood, along with the front of his scrubs.  The blood wiped away to reveal a wound, which was quickly covered in more blood.

The door banged open and I closed my eyes and turned away to protect them from the light from the hallway.  There was a terrible shrieking noise as one of the people in scrubs ran over to me on the floor.  How did I get in the floor?  And what was that noise?

“Dr. Rossi?  It’s going to be okay,” the woman tried to yell over the loud noise.  Someone ran up to the woman and handed her something.  A needle.  It glinted.  The noise stopped.  Darkness.

Excerpt from Forever After

I stormed through the doors with Justine at my heels.  Ben smiled at me from above his book and pointed to my right without even getting up.  I didn’t smile back.  Not yet.  Though it felt like only an instant, I was suddenly five feet in front of Nicki, still moving.  In one fluid motion, my katana left its sheath, sliced through Nicki, moving downward from right to left, and he slid in two pieces onto the floor.  He was dead before he had time to bleed.  I looked down at him, disgusted.  How could he send someone to kill me?  Dumb question.  Better one?  How could he be stupid enough to send someone to kill me?

I was still staring down at his lifeless corpse, contemplating, when slow clapping came from the doorway behind me.  The clapping cut off gasps of surprise and glares from the peanut gallery, those who had once been Nicki's supporters and admirers.  I turned around briskly, knowing instinctively it was not Ben that was applauding my abrupt victory.  Twenty feet before me stood a woman that looked no older than thirty yet held a manner, an aura one might say, that foretold great age and wisdom.  Instinctively, I kneeled and bowed my head.  “Bravo, my child, bravo.  But you need not kneel.  Not for me,” she said in an accent I suspected was English, but held traces of something else, a lot of somethings.  “Come to me.”

She sighed while holding out her arms.  I didn’t understand but I did as she requested.  I felt like a child getting called to the principal's office and not knowing entirely what I'd done wrong.  As if reading my mind, she said, “I will make everything clear to you soon.  I promise.”

In the early days, novels came about as serials.  Serials were books published in magazines much like how TV works today.  Each new "episode" (think chapter) would come out maybe once a month.  The readers were dying to get the next installment.  Readers waited breathlessly for the next copy of The Strand Magazine so they could get their Sherlock Holmes fix or any of a number of other well known authors and series.  But then printing costs went down and the era of the serialized novel evaporated.  It had no place anymore and simply disappeared.

But now we are seeing a new trend.  As new authors try to gain an audience, or maintain their audience between books, many are turning to serialized novels.  The books will eventually be published but, until the book is finished, authors are starting to give readers a jump on their next books.  The era of blogs and email subscriptions has revived this old art and created a new venue for writers and readers to connect on a regular basis.

I think it's great.  I did this with Forever After when I was writing it.  I wrote every week and posted it to my website.  It kept me writing and was rewarding knowing that people were interested.  I loved hearing people ask me when the next installment would come out (there were a couple times when I had to postpone installments due to a heavy class schedule).  I got feedback and the serialization actually helped to mold Justine as I got comments from the woman who is her namesake.

I plan on serializing Book 2 in my series here once the first book gets published.  I hope that it will keep readers engaged and stick in there with me as I finish the book (which is at about 40,000 words right now).

I will keep a list on the sidebar of serialized novels that I find.  Stay tuned and come back often to find more.  Here is what I have so far.

Kirk Allmond
What Zombies Fear

EJ Spurrell
Children of the Halo 
The Liar's Law
Twenty Past Midnight

Yezall Strongheart
Captain Lanie Romein, A.K.A The Ice Queen
A friend led me to this book and it caught my interest from the blurb.  I don't buy books often but I bought this in a sheepish impulse.  I had several books that I already agreed to review so this was bumped further down the list.  All I can say is this book is so much better than its blurb or its absolutely gorgeous cover (and I sort of wish I had bumped it up).

The book tells the story of a seventeen year old girl that finds herself the victim of vampire politics.  It has everything you could want in a vampire novel: blood, violence, death, intrigue, psychos and allies that will die for your heroine.

Though short (Amazon estimates it at about 219 pages for the ebook and I read the book in less than a day), it fits into it digitized pages the action of a much thicker novel, flitting from one harrowing fight scene to the next.  The scenery is well thought out and clearly depicted without detracting from the speed and flow of the plot.

The characters keep you guessing and I thoroughly enjoyed Lucas, a companion that is about as hard to read as a book in braille to a sighted person.  The reactions of Zee, the main character, are realistic and engaging, making you feel for her.  You empathize with her trials.  You fear for her life and the life of her friends.

What Kills Me will keep you glued to the edge of your seat till the very end.  Don't miss out.

Source: Amazon.com
eReader: Kindle for iPad
File type: MOBI

About the Author:

Wynne Channing is a national newspaper reporter and young adult novelist.

She started writing horror/fantasy tales as a girl. She still has the first novel that she wrote when she was 10. It’s (unintentionally) hilarious.

Wynne loves telling stories and as a journalist, she has interviewed everyone from Daniel Radcliffe and Hugh Jackman to the president of the Maldives and Duchess Sarah Ferguson. The closest she has come to interviewing a vampire is sitting down with *True Blood*‘s Alexander Skarsgard (he didn’t bite).

She briefly considered calling her debut novel "Well" so then everyone would say: "Well written by Wynne Channing."

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Author's Website: www.wynnechanning.com
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Excerpt from Forever After...

He saw nothing until he found himself on the ground beside his friend.  He was more fortunate than Lupe, who wasn’t moving.  A dirk’s edge caressed his throat.  A woman straddled his chest, eliminating most of his capacity to breathe.  He was afraid to breathe, to move, but strangely he was not afraid of her.  She was his enemy and yet something in those eyes eliminated all fear.  They were like silk, brown silk.  Like smooth dark chocolate awaiting the chance to be tossed into a mouth.  A smile streaked across her face which he was certain was at least partially because she had just killed a man and yet her eyes calmed him.  If there had been a speck of evil glistening in those eyes, it disappeared as her smile widened.  She was an angel.
This picture looked a lot cooler when it was bigger... Oh well.
I swear, I don't know what I'll do.  I started reading a new book today.  I was really looking forward to it.  I'm about 15% done and feel like strangling the author.  Every paragraph is I said this and Uther said that.  

I've been told that, when it comes to dialog tags, an author should refrain from using tags other than said.  "Said" gets largely ignored by the reader and so it actually speeds up the flow of the conversation to use it.  But clearly there is such a thing as using it too much.  There is no excuse for using it three paragraphs in a row.  There are other ways of indicating who is speaking.  I've ranted on this before and, if you're interested, you can view my blog post, Writing Pet Peevs.

So be careful.  Even said can get repetitive...

I have a tendency to balk at convention.  If something is hip and now, I might pick it up two years from now.  If something is considered the norm, I'll do the opposite.

When writing, we frequently want the readers to relate to our characters.  We want them to see something in our main character that rings true.  We might want to give little anecdotes that make them stop and think things like, "Oh my God, I nearly peed my pants when that happened to me!"  It makes the character seem more real and thus more realistic.  But at what cost?

I am currently working on a story where the main character is a vampire.  This makes the decision easy and the application a little harder.  I can't make a character that the reader can completely relate to because none of my readers (I would hope) are vampires.  But I can make them relatable in other ways.  After all, she wasn't always a vampire.  She has a past that can be related to.  Even some of her actions and mannerisms can connect with the reader's day to day life.

But while that connection to the reader is important, what makes him or her different is equally important.  First, you can't make a character that will relate to every reader, even if you have a very limited demographic.  Second, it's boring.  Readers (at least I) like seeing a person's quirks.  It gives the character depth.  Like not liking coffee or Christmas or sunbathing or liking the number 13.