News & Greetings!

Hey, gang! Just wanted to share a bit of news about my latest Moonsongs release, a website, and wish y'all a happy holiday and joyous New Year. 

About the release... 

Vampire's Ball, Moonsongs Book 5

Jenny Moonsong recently inherited the title of "monster hunter" and an ancient tribal journal/how-to manual passed down by her Apache ancestors. Being a girl of action, she has found herself particularly capable when it comes to battling the werewolves, trolls, and other supernatural denizens lurking in the Texas night. Until now.

Vampire's Ball, Moonsongs book 5, finds Jenny and her best friend Marshal in their most harrowing adventure yet. Traveling by boat to an extravagant masquerade party located at a Galveston Island mansion, Jenny must parlay with an ancient vampire in order to secure the release of the dragon princes, Isis. The unexpected return of an old "friend" turns the evening into chaos, and leaves Jenny and company once again fighting for survival amidst a sea of supernatural foes.

Vampire's Ball is approximately 12,500 words of humor, horror and paranormal mystery. It is the fifth volume of the Moonsongs Books, an ongoing series of New Adult, urban fantasy novelettes by author E.J. Wesley.

~Moonsongs Series List~ 

Vampire's Ball, Moonsongs Book 5

Moonsongs, Anthology 1 (Collecting books 1, 2, & 3) - eBook/AMAZON - PAPERBACK

A little help from my friends...

I'm not doing any kind of big release "thing" for this one for a couple of reasons. 1) I've got a big blog tour coming in January, so I'm putting most of my energy into that. 2) It's the holidays and I know most of my blogging friends are very busy doing what they ought to be doing. (Hanging with friends/family, eating cookies, and drinking eggnog.) So I didn't want to ask people to post stuff on their blogs this week.

However, if you could spare a second to tweet or Facebook about the release it'd be HUGELY appreciated. (Or just share this post.) If not, no worries. We're still besties! (More on you being my besties below. :)

Here are some pre-cooked tweets and Facebook things for your ease of use:

(click to tweet)

Tweet: "As it turned out, pretty much everything that had ever given a kid a nightmare was real-" Vampire's Ball #ebook



Warm up your holidays with some action-packed urban fantasy! E.J. Wesley just released book 5 in his Moonsongs series, Vampire's Ball. #NewAdult #UrbanFantasy

"If you haven't started this series and have a thing for heroines with an attitude problem, add it to your TBR list right quick." ~ Amazon Reviewer ~ Vampire's Ball, Moonsongs book 5 by E.J. Wesley is now available. #NewAdult #UrbanFantasy

"As it turned out, pretty much everything that had ever given a kid a nightmare was real..." Vampire's Ball by author E.J. Wesley is now available. #NewAdult #UrbanFantasy

The website...

I have a website now! It's still a work in progress, but feel free to hop over and let me know what you think.

2013 and Holiday Wishes...

So, 2013 was busy/crazy/insane/fun/happy/sad/awesome/meh for me. After spending 6 years in South Texas, my wife and I uprooted and moved to Northern California over the summer. 99% of our family and friends live elsewhere (like far, far away elsewhere). So, as with any move, it has been a transition.

We're making new friends and truly love the area and people, however. Plus, I now live a short drive from Napa/Sonoma, San Francisco, and a bunch of the prettiest National Parks and mountains the US has to offer. So don't shed a tear for me just yet! :)

Meanwhile in 2013, I published 3 more Moonsongs stories, an Anthology, my first print book, joined the team over at the New Adult Alley Blog, helped start a new audio companion show for our New Adult literature Twitter chats (every Thursday night, 9 PM Eastern--if you haven't seen what we're up to lately, stop by in the new year), and started (and trying like heck to finish) what will become my first published novel for next year.

In a time full of change for me, the one constant has been y'all. (My besties!) I've grown as a writer, failed as a blogger (at times), made friends, lost touch with friends, shared in your joys, related to your setbacks, and so much more. 

There are precious few certainties in this writing life (and really, life in general), so knowing that I can hop online no matter where I might wander off to and find friends who are still writing, still passionate about reading, and still encouraging one another has made all the difference to me. 

So with that, I'd like to say thank you one last time in 2013. It's an honor to call you my peers and friends. May the rest of your year be happy, healthy, and blessed. And here's to 2014 bringing you more of the same.


The Ghosts of Aquinnah - Get To Know Stella

Hey, gang! Very excited to share a character profile from my pal Julie Flanders' latest, The Ghosts of Aquinnah. Sounds like Julie has woven yet another superbly suspenseful story for us! (If you haven't read Polar Night yet, do so. Soon. :)

Take it away, Stella!

Aquinnah, Massachusetts
The Ghosts of Aquinnah Character Interview

What is your name?

Stella Winslow

What do you look like?

I’m petite and thin, I’ve always been called tiny. I have long auburn hair, fair skin, and green eyes.

When were you born? Where do you live?

I was born in 1864 and I live in the town of Chilmark on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. I’ve lived on the same farm for my whole life. It used to belong to my parents, now it belongs to my husband.

What has been the most important event in your life?

I helped in the rescue efforts when The City of Columbus sank off the coast of Gay Head in January, 1884. I took care of one of the survivors, a young man named Christopher Casey. That experience totally changed my life.

Have you ever been in love?

I have, once. I’ve also been married once. I didn’t marry the person I loved and I didn’t love the person I married.

Do you hold grudges?

Yes, I do. And I’m like a dog with a bone once I’ve set my mind to something. If I have a wrong that I think needs to be righted, I don’t care how long it takes me to accomplish that.

Who is the person you respect the most? Despise the most?

I respect my parents, they were wonderful people. I despise my husband.

What goal do you most want to accomplish in your lifetime?

I want people to know the truth about Christopher Casey.


A brilliant flash of light transcends through time.

Another freezes a cloaked figure within a frame of salty mist as waves crash against a rocky shore. Her harrowing expression shadows the beacon to a pinprick.

By the next blaze, she is gone. Only the lighthouse remains.

Hannah’s eyes blink in step with each heartbeat. Images of her deceased parents and Martha’s Vineyard explode like firecrackers inside her mind.

She shakes her head.

For weeks this eerie woman dressed in nineteenth century garb has been haunting my webcam, but tonight she stared into my soul.

Why? ...

Who is she? ...

Casting aside months of research on historic lighthouses, Hannah drives to the coast and boards a ferry.

What is the strange connection she has to this mysterious woman suspended in time?

Hannah finds out.

But, it’s not at all what she expects...

Hannah unravels a century old murder.

Buy The Ghosts of Aquinnah:

Author Bio: Julie Flanders is a novelist and freelance writer in Cincinnati, Ohio. She has a life-long love affair with the ocean and has spent more summer vacations than she can count on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. When not writing, Julie can be found playing with her pets, reading, cheering on her favorite sports teams, and watching too much television. The Ghosts of Aquinnah is Julie’s second novel. Her debut novel Polar Night was released in February, 2013 by Ink Smith Publishing.

Find Julie at:

IWSG - A Casual Affair

Hey, gang! Hope those of you who celebrated turkey and togetherness last week did so in grand fashion. It's time to for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post (IWSG). 

What is IWSG? Besides being a collection of awesome people, it's THE support network for writers. We offer each other encouragement and commiseration on the first Wednesday of each month. Click the pic below for more details and to learn how to join.

A fling… 

A flirt… 

A dalliance… 

A romp… 

A cup of devilishly unusual tea in a strange cafĂ© I'll never set foot in again…

Sometimes writing a story is all of those things to me. It's like a pair of expensive shoes so impractical I'll only be able to wear them once, with a specific shirt, and then put them back in the box forever. It's one night spent in the company of a beautiful stranger, no names or phone numbers exchanged.

I firmly believe writing CAN be a casual affair. Thing is, it took me a while to work up to being able to accept that. 

See, I've been something of a serial monogamist when it comes to my writing. For the most part, I'm a Plain Jane, stick-in-the-mud, write-what-I-love kind of writer. 

I like fantasy. The impossible excites me. Thinking about dark things that shouldn't exist frightens me--in a terribly good way. The story is a-rocking when fantastical things come a-knocking so to speak.

I like feisty characters who crack the quip-whip with reckless abandon. (Don't stand too close! She'll snap you!) Bold is usually the first--and main--ingredient in my protagonist soup.

So what happens when I start writing a contemporary story with a main character who is more contemplative than combative? A story where I can't toss in an explosion or fangs when things start to drag?

*breathes heavily into paper sack*

I get a little nervous. The itchy, twitchy shakes set in. If I'm being completely honest, it feels a little like I'm stepping out on my main gal. No, it goes deeper than that. At times it feels more like I'm betraying my very writing nature.

But it's damned fun! Like a kid playing dress up, I get to be something I'm not. I get to be a writer of "serious fiction" (well, not SO serious--War And Peace this is not). In that way it is fantasy I suppose. 

Perhaps the most important aspect of playing in the shadows of my comfort zone is that it has forced me to grow as a writer. Nothing about writing this contemporary story has come easily for me. There's no writing from the cuff. It's a blissful struggle most days. 

And like all meaningful workouts, it sometimes leaves me sore and questioning if I'm fit enough to pull it off. Then I'll re-read a few pages. 

I'll see that I'm letting characters express themselves in ways I've never done before. A good scene will jump out, and I'll think, "I could never have done this in fantasy!" 

I'll find a few nuggets of sparkling brilliance in a mine full of dark rocks. My confidence spikes (a little LOL) and I get back to digging, because I know I might just hit the mother load if I keep at it.

Will I consider myself a master of contemporary fiction when I'm done? Will anyone else? Not likely. But I will have had one heck of a good time doing it. Who knows, maybe I'll even try another one.

What about you? Have you written anything outside of your usual genre or category lately? How did it turn out? Would you do it again?


5 Things To Be Grateful For--Debut Author Edition - Crystal Collier

Hey, gang! I know we're headed into a busy holiday week for some, so I wanted to take the chance to wish all of you safe travels and loads of fun. Also wanted to share some things to be thankful for--with a writerly slant, of course.

So author-friend Crystal Collier put together this great post. Crystal's debut novel, Moonless, is out now, and what a great way to stuff your own stocking this holiday season! (Okay, on the proofread that came out unintentionally tawdry … but I'm leaving it because it also made me snort-laugh like a 7th grader.)

With that, how about I just let Crystal take it away.  :D

Five Things (Or So) To Be Grateful For--Debut Author Edition

E.J., thank you so much for having me here today! It's amazing, as you look back over a period of time, how many people influence your life and help you grow. As a debut author, I've been marveling at how I got where I am, so I want to share the things/people I'm MOST grateful for (publishing wise):

1. The Editor. Have you met the amazing Bethany Kaczmarek at A Little Red, Inc.? My publisher let me choose my own editor, and after much research and communication, I met Bethany. Her style and taste directly complimented my story, and she not only kept me laughing while editing, but caught absolutely EVERYTHING. Some people edit because they can. Some edit because they have a gift. She's the latter--and I'm exceptionally blessed for being able to work with her.

2. Critique Partners/Beta Readers: The biggest support has been my creative partner and husband. He reads everything--even if it's not his genre of choice--and even brainstorms with me. Best. Thing. Ever. I don't know what I'd do without Rachel Hert--from exchanging cheesy emails (where she locks me in a basement to work and keeps me alive with cheese dropped down the laundry chute,) to the continued support. Similarly, T.C. Mckee has been the wind beneath my wings. Her optimism and encouragement gave me the courage to get out there. My writing coach, Sharon Johnston (whose book, Sleeper, releases December 2), bequeathed me with a new title and helped fashion this story so literary agents were clamoring for it. My mom and sister read multiple times.  Lastly, for my amazing beta readers in 2009 (all 32 of you), I am intensely grateful--and especially for your amazing weekly feedback.

3. Readers/Reviewers: Every time someone says they've read my book, every time someone is kind enough to leave a review, I feel like breaking out a turkey and having Thanksgiving dinner.

4. Blog friends/Writers/Support Groups: WriteOnCon connected me with Rachel. (LOVE YOU WRITEONCON ORGANIZERS!) There have been innumerable writers who've been an example of what to (and not to) do. I've been blessed with amazing support groups (WriteOnBuildOn, DayDreamers Anonymous, Writers Support 4U, my Goodreads groups, and YaLitChat)--you've kept me going and taught me so much. Lastly, my bloggies--including the Insecure Writers Group, and What's Up Wednesday peeps, you have been an immense support/staple in my developing career. I'm intensely grateful for Rachael Harrie with her Writers Crusades...ahem, Campaigns, and my buddies with the Choose Your Own Adventure bloghops.

5. Goodreads/Amazon/Cheese: Reading is the key to good writing, so I'm grateful for all establishments that sell books, but especially for Goodreads and the real-world recommendations that keep me in the know. And of course, cheese keeps the brain pumping.

Who and what are you most grateful for this year?

Crystal Collier, author of MOONLESS, is a former composer/writer for Black Diamond Productions. She can be found practicing her brother-induced ninja skills while teaching children or madly typing about fantastic and impossible creatures. She has lived from coast to coast and now calls Florida home with her creative husband, three littles, and “friend” (a.k.a. the zombie locked in her closet). Secretly, she dreams of world domination and a bottomless supply of cheese. 

You can find her on her blog and Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Alexia’s nightmares become reality: a dead baron, red-eyed wraiths, and forbidden love with a man hunted by these creatures. After an attack close to home, Alexia realizes she cannot keep one foot in her old life and one in this new world. To protect her family she must either be sold into a loveless marriage, or escape with her beloved and risk becoming one of the Soulless.

MOONLESS is Jane Eyre meets Supernatural.

"MOONLESS is powerful, compelling, and packed with soul." --Bethany Kaczmarek, editor at A Little Red, Inc. 

"I fell head over heels for the characters." --TC Mckee, BookFish Books 

"Power-packed action, heart stopping mystery, unpredictable twists and turns..." --I Am a Reader Not a Writer

Buy MOONLESS HERE or add it on Goodreads.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Writing With Voice: What's Your 'Thing'? Do You Need One?

Hey, gang! Hope this post finds you all doing well and, especially if you're of the NaNoWriMo kind, pushing toward your goals. :)

One thing I always try to stay aware of as I revise a story is voice. (I know, my hackles rise a bit when that word gets mentioned, too … but stay with me!) I want to figure out what's going to take it from being A story to being MY story as it were. 

This is at least partially because I'm writing urban fantasy, and there are lots (and lots, and lots more) of stories about vampires, werewolves, etc. these days, and I want my work to stand out in some small way.

Now, I was just as confused as everyone else when I first began trying to figure out what voice was all about. I'd read all of these articles, books, and interviews from various-amazing-authors that seemed to give it an almost spiritual quality. 

Apparently, voice was this ethereal ball of gas floating in the subconscious writing portion of our brains that couldn't be contained, only harnessed. And only the wisest and most determined writers would be able to master it.

Yeah, I felt totally screwed. I'm not the wisest writer (by a wide, Grand Canyon-esque margin I'm afraid), and writing--for the most part--for me isn't a very spiritual process. 

When I'm writing, I tend to swear at my computer, drink ridiculous amounts caffeine bang my head on tables, stare at ceilings, curse my dull brain--well, let's just say it isn't all that Zen-like. 

I'm more of a construction foreman for a highly-emotional, chaotic, and never-ending road project than a high priest quietly orchestrating a beautiful religious ceremony.

But I am determined, so something had to give, right?

What I learned was this: Voice isn't abstract, or at least the components that make it up aren't. In fact, it's the furthest thing from it! Is it hard to apply? Yes … mostly … well, just more tedious until you get the hang of it I suppose.

Voice is your personal flavor. It's your spice of choice. Just like how you take your coffee (or iced tea in the South), voice says, "That one is mine."

But it shouldn't be confused with just being description, which is something I did early on. My thought was, "I'm the only person who can describe a sunset the way I see it, so that has to be what will make my writing unique." 

That was only part of the formula. The rest of it includes pacing, dialogue, action/reaction, humor, plot choices, and pretty much everything else that goes into a story. 

Ultimately, how you apply all of that results in your voice, or your "thing". And that's where the discussion gets a little philosophical in my opinion, because that "thing" is pretty much open for interpretation. 

What I think is clever, you might find trite. What scares me, won't necessarily keep you up at night. But when a writer has a thing, we know it--even if we can't agree on what it is, and maybe even if we don't like it.

Think about some of the great "voice" authors out there. Here are examples from a few of my favorites. These are completely random finds from books sitting on my shelf. I'm not looking for a specific paragraph. See if you can guess the authors based on the excerpt:


"I worried about it for a moment as I held the bottle by the neck, but I wanted to trust her, and so I did. I took a minor sip, and as soon as I swallowed, I felt my body rejecting the stinging syrup of it. It washed back up my esophagus, but I swallowed hard, and there, yes, I did it. I was drinking on campus."

If you're a fan of his, you probably immediately recognized John Green's handiwork in Looking For Alaska. 

Components that make up his voice: Long, protracted sentences. (He doesn't get super-clippy unless it's dialogue.) A very mature and pragmatic character perspective (for YA … "I did it. I was drinking on campus."). Using a big, and probably anatomically correct, word like "esophagus" instead of the simpler "throat".

Here's another!


"He could be as quiet as a Viet Cong guerrilla creeping through the bush, but her ears had gotten attuned to him over the last three weeks, and tonight, as a bonus, there was a moon. She heard a faint scrape and clatter of gravel, and she knew where he was going. Ignoring her aches, she followed. It was a quarter after ten."


This one is a little trickier, but Stephen King (The Stand) can create tension like no other. 

Components that make up his voice: Non-lavish, but highly evocative descriptors ("quiet as a Viet Cong", "a moon"). Also, how little he gives the reader in terms of perspective and motivation, yet still manages to convey direction and purpose in the scene. ("she knew where he was going", "It was a quarter after ten.")

Last one--this one has a giveaway if you're a fan, but it's a great example nonetheless.


"I'd made a vampire cry. Great. I felt like a real superhero. Harry Dresden, breaker of monsters' hearts."


Jim Butcher (Storm Front, Dresden Files Book One) is a real case study for anyone looking for examples of voice in first person storytelling. 

Components that make up his voice: You could take almost any paragraph from one of his books and find the same sarcasm and gloomy humor woven throughout.

As I said earlier, and the examples hopefully illustrate, voice isn't an abstract concept. By evaluating things like word choice (are you the type of writer who uses throat instead of esophagus?), description, and tone you can force voice into your work. 

But here's the (another?) thing: There are many talented authors and great stories out there that don't have a strong voice. In fact, I'd argue that many genres of fiction rely heavily on the author NOT pushing their own style overboard. 

Much of the science fiction and fantasy I read is intentionally left bland, forcing the reader to put their own personality into play. There are risks involved with such storytelling, because it can lead to undefined and uninteresting characters. But when the focus is on the world and sociology, I don't believe it's always wrong to let the reader paint the canvas you've given them.

Two of my favorite authors in those genres, Tolkien and Orson Scott Card, aren't overly ham-handed with their style. They simply tell a good story. 

So that leaves me with a bunch of questions: How important is voice? Do we need to have a definitive writing style, or is telling a good story enough? How important is it to readers? 


I'm On Trial For Troll Abuse!

Hey, gang! Yes, this is absolutely as serious as it sounds. I'm taking part in one of the awesome Realms Fair events this year, and as you'd expect, I've already gotten into some trouble.

Seems some folks take issue with how the main character from my Moonsongs series (Jenny) handles the monsters she encounters. We're pleading our case over at Sheriff Gwen Gardner's blog today, so please stop by and help me win my freedom! 
She's meaner than she looks!
I'm afraid Jenny, while well-meaning, might be hurting my cause more than helping. She's a little agitated at being torn away from her video games to argue on my behalf. Plus, she REALLY hates trolls. :)

Also, be sure to check out all of the fun Realms Fair events going on this week. There are giveaways, but frankly they're just a blast. 

Events: Joust ~ Drench-a-Wench/Soak-a-Bloke ~ Stockade Brigade ~ Dueling Bards ~ Phasers ~ Masquerade Parade ~Collective Performance ~ Castle Jumble ~ Dragon Hunt

"Obi Wan Kenobi, you're my--oh hell, just get me out of these things!"

IWSG - NaNoWriMo Edition - Easy Ways To Get More Writing Time

Hey, gang! Time for another Insecure Writer's Support Group post! What is IWSG? A collection of awesome writers who get together once a month to share our vulnerabilities and encouragement. You can learn all about it (and sign yourself up) by clicking the image below.

Carving out writing time--and not folding laundry, feeding kids, playing with dogs, catching up on Walking Dead, going to work, showering, etc., etc.--can be tricky. Why? Because not everyone sees it as such an essential activity as we writers do.

This gets particularly tricky if you're doing National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) types of things, because you're not just ducking out for a quick nip with the keyboard every now and again, but doing the equivalent of a month-long Rocky training montage with your WIP. 

So what's a writer to do? Well never fear, cause ol' E.J. is here to help you out. The next time you need to write and someone tries to stop you, just respond with one of the following--

A world needs saving, and I'm only a quarter of the way into figuring out how it's going to happen.

I have leprosy from 8-10 PM every day.

There are monsters in our (insert writing spot here), and it's going to take a few thousand words to flush them out.

I can't wear pants or remove this clown mask until I reach my word count. However, I'm happy to do whatever it is you need me to do sans pants, clown-mask-on until then.

Our computer was taken over by a gang of vicious cyber-terrorist, and if I don't write they're going to share (insert embarrassing photo memory here) on Facebook.

There are two versions of me: Writing me and pissed-off-bat-crap-crazy-homicidal-depressed-hates-puppies-never-cooks-slaps-babies-sets-fire-to-ALL-the-things me. Which do you prefer?

I'm Facebook chatting with your (insert most annoying family member here) so she won't call. This could take a while. Would you like me to tell her to call you instead?

I've agreed to donate $1 of your money to the local animal shelter for every word I fall short on my goal. Between dirty diapers, work, and getting our eldest child's foot sewn back on, I'm probably going to need around $45,000. Or they've agreed to let us adopt this abandoned litter of 13 very cute--but very feral--kittens instead (show ANY picture of numerous kittens running amok). OR I could TOTALLY just write some more.

This year's NaNoWriMo prize is the producers of Lost will finally tell us what the last episode meant.

This year's NaNoWriMo prize is Miley Cyrus will no longer stick her tongue out. 

I'm working on math story problems--want to help?

You ever read (insert WIP title here)? No? Really? (pull out tuft of your own hair and set it on fire) IT'S BECAUSE I HAVEN'T FINISHED WRITING THE DAMN THING!

You ever read (insert obscure book title here)? No? Really? Let me tell you about it: There's this writer who is frustrated because she never has time to write. So she decides to start acting out her stories instead. It's great, you should read it. But I really need to get back to writing my story. It's about a wife/mom/sister/friend who does horrible things to people's food. Or I could make you a sandwich and we can keep chatting.

Are you NaNoWriMo-ing this year? If so, are you on track to meet your goal? If no, what are you working on? In either case, hope this bit of fun helps brighten your day and keeps you going. :)


Coffin Hop Winners & Blog Changes!

Hey, gang! Hope everyone had a fantastic Halloween weekend, or at the very least enjoyed that extra hour of sleep. (I just got up at the same old time--now an hour earlier into my day. -_-)

Just a few things on the docket today…

Winner! Winner!

Thank you to everyone who left comments on my Coffin Hop posts last week! Had a lot of fun reliving some of my favorite horror stories and movies and sharing some tips for writing scary fiction. 

I did a giveaway for the hop and entered everyone who left a comment on any of the hop posts. (If you left multiple comments, you were entered more than once.) Below is a list of the winners (selected by assigning numbers and using and their winnings:

Digital copies of the entire Moonsongs series to date (Anthology + Dragon's Game - 2 winners)

William Kendall
Donna Hole

Signed paperback of Moonsongs, Anthology 1

A.F. Stewart

Paperback copy of the Death By Drive-In anthology

Julie Flanders

Digital Copy of Death By Drive-In

Shannon Lawrence

Congrats to all of the winners! I'll be in touch. :) 

Blog Changes

Y'all might've noticed a I've put a fresh coat of paint on the joint recently. I'll be rolling out an "official" author website soon and wanted the blog to have a similar feel--but more on that to come in days ahead.

I've also made something of an executive decision regarding cover announcements, book blasts, and other promotional things I do for other authors. I've decided to give them their on page on my blog.

I'm doing this for 2 reasons --

1) So folks can easily find all of the new stuff authors are sending down the pipelines. There are so many new releases, etc. now that they get sprinkled in with all of my other posts and, I fear, get lost in the shuffle. 

Now you can simply click the "All About Books & Authors" tab above and see everything "new" I'm sharing on a weekly basis. Plus, there are usually giveaways associated with these things, so if you're on the lookout for chances to win cool freebies, this'll make it easier to do.

2) I want to keep my posts separate so it's clear what content is coming from me, and what content I'm simply sharing for others.

I'll be sure to highlight everything I've shared on the books and authors page on the main blog page, so don't worry that your announcements aren't going to get noticed.  They'll just actually exist in two different places now. (Once in link form, once in full-post form.)

So what'll you find under the books & authors tab right now?

Echoes by Amy Evans  - Amy is releasing the followup to her YA eco-fantasy, Clicks, with Echoes. And the cover is gorgeous! 

Time On Her Side by Shelly Arkon - Shelly is offering up her latest FREE on Amazon right now, and it's currently #7 in the 'time travel' category. I just snagged my copy and recommend you do the same (tomorrow is the last free day). 

Be sure to click over for a look at the fantastic cover, book description, and more on Shelly if you aren't already acquainted with her. She's a fantastic writing-blogging friend to have. :)

That's it for today! I'll be back Wednesday for IWSG!


Killer Serials Giveaway & Coffin Hop '13 Finale - Four Keys To Frightening Fiction - Pt. 4 - Murderous Tension

Happy Halloween, gang! I'm here to put a bow (or should that be noose?) on this year's Coffin Hop by talking about the final ingredient to writing frightening fiction--creating tension.

But first, I want to share a special giveaway event I'm taking part in…

Just in time for Halloween, some Killer Serials you can sink your teeth into!

Serial and episodic fiction are becoming more and more popular with readers in the digital age. And as many of you know, my Moonsongs series is exactly that, so I'm pretty passionate about the concept.

Who would enjoy serialized stories? Fans of television, for one. Many of these stories are built around the TV model, leaving you craving more at the end of each episode. Others who might enjoy serials are the folks who don't have time to cram entire novels into their daily lives, but would love to read fiction with a purpose. These aren't short stories so much as sagas broken into bite-sized pieces.

I know for my Moonsongs books, I really work hard to give the reader a feeling of fulfillment with each story, but also leave them wanting to see what happens next.
Sound like something you'd enjoy? Luckily, there are several fantastic authors doing them! And beginning today, you can enter for a chance to win some of the most exciting serialized content going--plus, you can sample several of these authors for free. (Including me!)

Here's the rundown of the authors and stories involved in the is special giveaway:

Some Killer Serials you should consider sampling

Andrew Leon: The Shadow Spinner Serie
(34 parts, 40ish pages each) Tiberius has always thought of himself as a normal 10-year-old boy, at least until the day his mother finally decides to tell him about his father, and she tells him things that convince him that one of them is crazy, and he's pretty sure it's not him. That is until the Man with No Eyes shows up and his father falls out of the sky.

Susan Kaye Quinn: The Debt Collector Series 
(9 Volumes, 50ish pages each, all complete, (for you risk-averse readers) first one free) What's your life worth on the open market? A debt collector can tell you precisely.

EJ Wesley: Moonsong Series 
(5th coming in December - no end point necessarily planned, but they are coming in 3-book clusters *6th in January* for satisfying individual story arcs; link to the first one FREE) Jenny Moonsong recently inherited the title of "monster hunter" and an ancient tribal journal/how-to manual passed down by her Apache ancestors. The Moonsongs books follow her adventures as she battles the dark supernatural denizens of the world in a series of action-packed, urban fantasy novelettes.

RaShelle Workman: The Cindy Chronicles 
(4 published of 6 volumes) From a seemingly insignificant word comes the greatest of fairytales... Cinderella is a witch and she's been asked to save a world she never knew existed. 

Hart Johnson: A Shot in the Light Series 
(10 episodes, 100 pages each, 4th available today and the first is free) Deadliest virus in a century, or a social experiment gone awry? Sidney Knight begins to notice inconsistencies in what people are being told and what's going on as half the population dies of the flu... or is it the vaccine?

Visit the authors participating in Killer Serials giveaway:

Andrew -
Susan -
E.J. -
RaShelle -
Hart - 

And here's how you can enter to win some of these great stories!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now to end my first ever Coffin Hop! I've had a blast taking part this year, and I've met a ton of great horror authors. Be sure to check the site and join up for next year if you think you'd like share in the scare! 

Being a writing blog, I decided to cover what I thought were the basics to weaving a little thrill and chill into your stories. My full hop schedule looked like this:

Monday, 10/28 - The Sinister Senses
Tuesday, 10/29 - Oh So Ordinarily Creepy
Wednesday, 10/30 - Mining The Darkness Within
Thursday,  10/31 - HAPPY HALLOWEEN - A Murderous Tension

Also want to mention that the organizers behind Coffin Hop have put together a fantastic collection of horror stories to benefit an even better cause. All proceeds from the Death By Drive-In anthology will go to to promote childhood reading.

*click the image below for more details on the anthology*

As for my giveaway, simply leave a comment on any of my Coffin Hop posts and I'll enter you into a drawing for one of the following items:

1 Digital copy of Death By Drive-In

1 Paper Copy of Death By Drive-In (US ONLY)

- 2 Digital Copies of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 AND my latest, Dragon's Game, Moonsongs Book 4 (1 set to each winner)

1 Signed paper copy of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 (US ONLY)

Lastly, I'll be highlighting one of my fellow Coffin Hoppers at the end of every post--so let's get to it!

A Murderous Tension

Tension in fiction is a weird--and often fickle--thing. It can be created or destroyed with a single word, description, or scene. And while it's important for any kind of story, it's absolutely dire for horror and thrillers.

A reader has to feel the threat pressing down on them like the brutal heat of a summer day in Phoenix, Arizona. An inescapable anxiety has to blanket the story, and the only way out from under it is to read The End. 

No small task! So how do we do it? Here are few quick cheats:

Start in the middle - in medias res is a commonly refereed to concept of beginning a story in the middle of action. It creates insta-tension.

Example: Don't let the reader get all comfy-cozy by getting up to speed with grandma  leisurely driving them through the park on the way to soccer practice. Instead, slap their ass behind the wheel of a car going 150 MPH on the Santa Monica Freeway with a couple dozen well-armed cops chasing them, and a drug lord in the backseat threatening to kill their spouse if they slow down. It works.

Mystery - Uncertainty creates tension. Arriving at a camp known for its unexplained, horrible accidents. A newspaper article about a series of grizzly unsolved murders. Exploring a 'supposedly' haunted house. It intrigues us. It also scares the jeepers out of us.

False Trails - Let the reader chase their tails a bit. Let them presume, guess, and postulate. Then yank the freaking rug out from under them! If you're going to create a scary, tense story, the reader can never feel comfortable. One way of doing that is by encouraging them to guess wrong.

Love and hate, get it straight … or maybe don't - Just like real life, when your characters don't get along, it creates friction. And friction creates--you guessed it--tension for the reader! Even if it's THE love interest for your protagonist, have them fight like cats and water! The result will have your reader on edge, and when you throw that werewolf in the mix, it'll send them over it. :)

How do you work tension into your writing? Any favorite books or films that kept you biting your nails the entire time?

Thanks again for riding along with my Coffin Hop, and have safe and fun Halloween! 


Author Julianne Snow has put together an awesome eight-part flash fiction piece for her Coffin Hop! The link above will take you to part one--and I highly encourage you to check it from the start. :)

Like most all Coffin Hoppers, she's also doing a giveaway of some of her work if  you comment. So be sure to give her a click!

You can check the entire hop below:

Coffin Hop 2013 - Four Keys To Frightening Fiction - Pt. 3 Mining The Darkness Within

Hey, gang! I'm back for round 3 of my 4 part Coffin Hop feature on writing frightening fiction!

So what the heck is a Coffin Hop? Basically, a bunch of us writer types get together to share scary stories, do giveaways, and generally try to get the blog world into the spirit of the season. 

Being a writing blog, I've decided to cover what I think are the basics to weaving a little thrill and chill into your stories. My full hop schedule looks like this:

Monday, 10/28 - The Sinister Senses
Tuesday, 10/29 - Oh So Ordinarily Creepy
Wednesday, 10/30 - Mining The Darkness Within
Thursday,  10/31 - HAPPY HALLOWEEN - A Murderous Tension

Also want to mention that the organizers behind Coffin Hop have put together a fantastic collection of horror stories to benefit an even better cause. All proceeds from the Death By Drive-In anthology will go to to promote childhood reading.

*click the image below for more details on the anthology*

As for my giveaway, simply leave a comment on any of my Coffin Hop posts and I'll enter you into a drawing for one of the following items:

1 Digital copy of Death By Drive-In

1 Paper Copy of Death By Drive-In (US ONLY)

- 2 Digital Copies of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 AND my latest, Dragon's Game, Moonsongs Book 4 (1 set to each winner)

1 Signed paper copy of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 (US ONLY)

Lastly, I'll be highlighting one of my fellow Coffin Hoppers at the end of every post--so let's get to it!

Mining the Darkness Within

Write what you know. Popular writing advice that, frankly, I haven't always found to be true. It takes a good imagination to write fiction, and imagination by definition is basically the art of making crap up.

If I really knew how to stop a nuclear disaster, win a fight club, sweep beautiful people off of their feet, or survive a zombie apocalypse, I probably wouldn't be an author.

But I love to read about characters who do those types of things. Thus, I usually default to: Write what you love--then sprinkle in what you know.

However, when it comes to writing scary, there's some very useful knowledge lurking inside all of us. And tapping into it can really go a long way to creating a terrifying reading experience. 

I'm talking about our fears. Everyone has them. They can be highly unique, like being afraid of truck stop urinals. (Okay, that might not be just me…) Or they can be shared by lots of people. I'll boldly say that more people are freaked out by spiders than aren't.

In either case, what we're afraid of, if we can accurately bring our fears to life on the page, is going to scare other people, too. And it's one of the easier emotions to channel. After all, what's more vivid than our darkest dreams and the terrors of our minds?

The tricky part is examining fear honestly, because it isn't always a comfortable process. If you're terrified of snakes, it can make you a little squirmy to think about EXACTLY what it is about snakes that scare you.

But I bet there's something. Maybe it isn't the fangs, maybe it's the dread of feeling their slimy scales spasming over your bare skin. Maybe it's the way their cold, reptilian eyes express nothing but animal calculation. Or perhaps it's knowing that each flick of their demonic forked tongues is the equivalent of you walking along the buffet to see what looks good to eat. :)

Whatever it is, you're going to have an inside track on what makes it so damned scary, and if you can share that with your readers, they'll be scared, too. 

More importantly, if you can do it for yourself, you can start to easily imagine the deepest dreads for each of your characters.

One of the scariest movie moments for me growing up was an awesome example of sharing an inner fear--something only the character would be able to conjure or imagine--with the audience.

Via Pet Cemetery - Zelda was the sister of one of the protagonists, who she watched die of spinal meningitis as a child. The character recounts her memories in chilling fashion. 

That scene still freaks me completely out! LOL

So what are you most afraid of? Could you make a list of three very specific things about it (plausible or no--like the tormented long-dead sister coming back to live in your attic) that would frighten you the most?

Come back tomorrow as we'll finish off the hop and celebrate Halloween with a look at creating tension! Plus, a surprise for fans of serial fiction. :)


I had the pleasure of getting to talk with Michele for one of our recent NA Lit Chats. She definitely knows her scary! She's also a part of the Coffin Hop and offering a signed copy of one of her books. 

Michelle's blog is featuring some ghost stories, and generally has lots of paranormal goodness going down, so jump over and check her out!

You can check the entire hop below:

Coffin Hop 2013 - Four Keys To Writing Frightening Fiction - Pt. 2. Oh So Ordinarily Creepy

Hey, gang! I'm back for round 2 of my 4 part Coffin Hop feature on writing frightening fiction!

So what the heck is a Coffin Hop? Basically, a bunch of us writer types get together to share scary stories, do giveaways, and generally try to get the blog world into the spirit of the season. 

Being a writing blog, I've decided to cover what I think are the basics to weaving a little thrill and chill into your stories. My full hop schedule looks like this:

Monday, 10/28 - The Sinister Senses
Tuesday, 10/29 - Oh So Ordinarily Creepy
Wednesday, 10/30 - Mining The Darkness Within
Thursday,  10/31 - HAPPY HALLOWEEN - A Murderous Tension

Also want to mention that the organizers behind Coffin Hop have put together a fantastic collection of horror stories to benefit an even better cause. All proceeds from the Death By Drive-In anthology will go to to promote childhood reading.

*click the image below for more details on the anthology*

As for my giveaway, simply leave a comment on any of my Coffin Hop posts and I'll enter you into a drawing for one of the following items:

1 Digital copy of Death By Drive-In

1 Paper Copy of Death By Drive-In (US ONLY)

- 2 Digital Copies of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 AND my latest, Dragon's Game, Moonsongs Book 4 (1 set to each winner)

1 Signed paper copy of Moonsongs, Anthology 1 (US ONLY)

Lastly, I'll be highlighting one of my fellow Coffin Hoppers at the end of every post--so let's get to it!

Oh So Ordinarily Creepy

A clown. A little old lady who sits in front of her bedroom window at the same time every day, watching the neighborhood kids play. A caretaker who isn't very sociable and always seems to have something sharp in his hands. A cabin in the woods. A toy monkey playing the cymbals. A kid riding a tricycle…

Nothing extraordinary there. All are pretty much everyday occurrences or items. But, because you know the nature of these posts, I bet the hairs on your arms stiffened just a touch by the time you finished reading that list--particularly if you're a fan of horror movies and books. :)

Why? Because creepy is all about context, and sometimes, the most ordinary things--when viewed from unordinary perspectives--can be terrifying.

Put that clown in a sewer. Maybe that little old lady HATES children. Make that cabin the only shelter in a violent storm, and the caretaker its only inhabitant. 

Put that toy monkey at the scene of a grizzly murder, then have a down-on-his-luck detective take it to give to his son because he forgot his birthday. The kid takes it everywhere with him, and suddenly the boys, the ones who used to torment him while he road his tricycle up and down the sidewalk, disappear. The kid on the trike becomes the harbinger of death!

I've loosely referenced a few Stephen King stories here with good reason: He's an absolute master of turning the commonplace into our greatest fears. And it's all very basic psychology! After all, most phobias are rooted in the mundane.

I'm using a family ghost story I told recently to illustrate a few of the points this week. You can check the entire story out HERE

Here's a passage from the story where a few ordinary things--moonlight streaming through curtains, a recliner, and vaporous breath on a cold night--take on a more ominous quality.

"With trembling hands, he inches the covers downward until he can see. He scans left, toward his grandmother’s closed bedroom door, hoping she’ll be standing there looking in on him. She isn’t.

He looks straight ahead to the dining room, but sees nothing but the swirls of his own breath in the cold and moonlight tracing funny shapes on the floor through the curtains.

At last, he cuts his eyes to the right, where he knows he should see an empty recliner, a coffee table, and a black-and-white television. All is exactly where it should be, except the chair isn’t empty. Grandpa is sitting in it, wearing his overalls, just as the boy had seen him do in so many of the old photographs lying around the house."

Another author who does fantastically creepy things with very simple ingredients is Neil Gaiman. Here's a passage from The Graveyard Book where we're introduced to one of the best villains ever, the man Jack:

"The street door was still open, just a little, where the knife and the man who held it had slipped in, and wisps of nighttime mist slithered and twined into the house through the open door.

The man Jack paused on the landing. With his left hand he pulled a large white handkerchief from the pocket of his black coat, and with it he wiped off the knife and his gloved right hand which had been holding it; then he put the handkerchief away. The hunt was almost over. He had left the woman in her bed, the man on the bedroom floor, the older child in her brightly colored bedroom, surrounded by toys and half-finished models. That only left the little one, a baby barely a toddler, to take care of. One more and his task would be done.

He flexed his fingers. The man Jack was, above all things, a professional, or so he told himself, and he would not allow himself to smile until the job was completed.

His hair was dark and his eyes were dark and he wore black leather gloves of the thinnest lambskin.

The toddler's room was at the very top of the house. The man Jack walked up the stairs, his feet silent on the carpeting. Then he pushed open the attic door, and he walked in. His shoes were black leather, and they were polished to such a shine that they looked like dark mirrors: you could see the moon reflected in them, tiny and half full.

The real moon shone through the casement window. Its light was not bright, and it was diffused by the mist, but the man Jack would not need much light. The moonlight was enough. It would do."

Thin black gloves, shiny shoes, misty moonlight streaming through a window--just brilliantly chilling stuff! 

Have any favorite authors who do simple-creepy well? Favorite scary movies that turn ordinary things into horribly frightening moments? (How about that shower scene in Psycho? I still don't like hotel shower curtains for that reason! LOL)

Come back tomorrow, and we'll take a look at how you can use the things you're afraid of to scare the loafers off of your readers, too. :)


Jeff is an extremely well-read horror fan, and he's throwing out reading recs left and right during the hop. Today, he's talking about books he reads to get in the Halloween mood--including H.P. Lovecraft's "The Rats In The Walls"!

Jeff, like all Coffin Hoppers, has a sweet giveaway going, so be sure to check him out!

You can check the entire hop below: