When I come across a book like Blood Relations that promises an enticing mix between paranormal, horror, and the male perspective; it is quite difficult to refrain from reviewing (though it’s the only way to clear that otherwise endlessly expanding review list). But, after being teased by the Amazon preview, I have a feeling either book or author may make another appearance on here in 2014.
Family by choice
Fiction and our private lives
by Caroline Frechette
The other day, someone asked me if I was an orphan. I was a little taken aback. I lost my father a little over ten years ago, but I’m not an orphan, I replied. The person proceeded to ask me whether I’d run away from home, or if my family was horrible.
Those are odd questions to ask of someone, point-blank, like that, and yet, I have to admit I know where they come from. In my stories, not just Blood Relations, the first volume of the Family by Choice series, my latest release, but in all my stories, the protagonists almost never have a relationship with their parents. Their parents are either gone, or dead, or abusive, or neglectful, and more often than not, when there is a parent in the picture, the characters end up cutting off that relationship for good.
I didn’t run away from home. And my parents were not abusive or neglectful or bad parents in any way. They were loving, tender people who were always there for us, whether it was to give us a ride out of a bad situation, or lend us a non-judgemental ear when we were in trouble. They supported us, drove us to accomplish everything we wanted. We were loved, and we knew it. In short, they were the best parents anyone could ever have.
So why write consistently about absent relationships with parents, if I didn’t go through that? The answer is both simple and complicated. The short version is, when you write fiction, you try to tackle your inner pain, your unresolved conflicts; it’s what gives true emotional depth to your stories. I don’t really have unresolved conflicts and emotional pain when it comes to my parents, so I don’t feel the need to explore the parent/child relationship from the child’s point of view.
Why then do some of my characters have painful memories when it comes to their parents? For the same reason as above, actually. The exploration of pain and all that. My parents really did their best, and I have no issues with them, but I do have pain and unresolved issues from my childhood. I think everyone does. So I give my characters baggage. It’s not the same as mine; it doesn’t have to be. And, like I said in a previous post, sometimes putting another angle on your issues can act like a safe distance, a protective glass beyond which you can safely observe, and give yourself the opportunity to heal without re-living the trauma.
Because the point to giving your characters your pain is to help yourself heal from it. And, in doing so, you’re helping your readers heal from their own pain. Pain is a universal human experience. It doesn’t need to be the exact same experience for us to relate and heal.
Blood Relations by Caroline Frechette
Published: October 12th, 2013
Life has not been easy for Alex Winters since he used his pyrokinetic powers to take control of the Russian district. Violence and betrayal have become a way of life, but he’s somehow managed to keep the gangsters in line. At barely sixteen, he thinks he’s seen it all. He hasn’t. Things spiral out of control when the latest double cross takes a turn for the supernatural. The new group muscling in on his territory turns out to be a brutal gang of vampires. Can Alex defeat an enemy even more powerful than himself? Can he keep his people safe and his boss happy? Can Alex survive in a world that just keeps getting more dangerous?
Caroline Fréchette is originally from Montreal, but has been living in the Ottawa/Gatineau region for the past 9 years. She is a sequential artist and author. She has published several short stories, both sequential and traditional, as well as two graphic novels, all on the French Canadian and European markets. She was the editor and director for the French Canadian literary magazine Histoires à boire debout, and works at the Ottawa Public Library. She has been teaching creative writing since 2005, and manages the popular writing page and blog Ice Cream for Zombies.
A haunting nightmare
by Emma Right
The thing with dreams and nightmares is that it can haunt you long after you’re awake. I’ve had several of those in the past– and it came complete with that disoriented feeling when you first wake up and can’t even tell reality from your dream world. It’s so disconcerting, right? We’ve all had our fair share I am sure.
One of the scariest, or maybe I should say, disturbing dreams I’ve ever had left me waking up shivering. It wasn’t even as if I was chased by monsters, or had to go to a dirty public restroom without any shoes on–yes, I’ve had that yucky dream! No, those could be dismissed with less pain.
In this particular incident, as I awoke, after what felt like someone had pulled my legs and I’d jerked out of my sleep with a start, I sat up and stared at my dark surroundings. I couldn’t even figure out where I was. The one thing that filled my mind was the horror of the news I’d heard. My mother had just confessed that I was not really her biological child.
Even in the nightmare, which had seemed so normal and boring even, until she dropped the bomb on me, I couldn’t grasp what she’d said. Then it all hit me–I had another biological mother? Who was she? And then the realization that I was not who I thought I was all these past decades struck me, like a slap in the face and my world came crashing down around me. Have you ever felt this way? The power of a dream to obliterate all you’d believed in?
It’s interesting that even as an adult child, my connection to my mother, who lives too far away for me to visit each year even, was so powerful. What is even more troubling was the fact that the awful feeling I had when I awoke from my dream, persisted throughout the entire day after that–like a bitter taste that’s stays in your mouth even after you’ve drank tons of water or sucked on peppermint in an attempt to rid that horrible aftertaste.
Which brings me to my point–that the most haunting nightmares do not even have to be about ghosts or ghouls–and I’ve actual encountered a couple of these, I kid you not. (I might write about these true stories some day.) The things that touch us at the core are usually related to family and loved ones: People who have the power to invade our dream state and live in our subconscious, sometimes long after they have left this earth. Now that, to me, is real haunting.
Dead Dreams by Emma Right
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Young Adult
Published: August 26th 2013
Eighteen-year-old Brie O’Mara has so much going for her: a loving family in the sidelines, an heiress for a roommate, and dreams that might just come true. Big dreams–of going to acting school, finishing college and making a name for herself. She is about to be the envy of everyone she knew. What more could she hope for? Except her dreams are about to lead her down the road to nightmares. Nightmares that could turn into a deadly reality.
Dead Dreams, Book 1, is a young adult psychological thriller and mystery.
Emma Right is a happy wife and homeschool mother of five living in the Pacific West Coast. Besides running a busy home, and looking after too many pets, she also enjoys reading aloud to her children and often has her nose in a book. Right was a copywriter for a major advertising agency during her B.C. years. B.C.meaning “Before Children,” which may as well have been in the B.C.era, as she always says. Please feel free to contact Emma. She’s always happy to hear from her readers.Read More
I originally planned on spotlighting RESILIENT back in September, but due to personal obligations it had to be postponed until now. Please check out these character profiles of Patricia Vanesse’s main characters in RESILIENT!
GUEST POST- Tell us about your main characters! Looks, personality, some background story, and/or maybe a few quotes from the story?
Height: 5 ft 6 in
Hair: Long wavy black
Eyes: Turquoise blue
As far as Livia knows, her biological parents abandoned her on the footsteps of a Catholic Church convent in New York City. She was adopted by the Berwick couple and raised with all the love she needed. Now she’s in search of her biological parents because she believes they have the answer to why she develops strange new powers every couple of years.
The first ability she developed was Empathy, which is the ability to feel emotions, thoughts, hopes, desires, and dreams of others. As cool as it sounds to be able to do something no one else can, Livia wishes she couldn’t. It affects her life making it difficult for her to live a normal teenage life. She has a strong personality and is very determined. Nothing will make her give up, until she wishes she had.
“Why would Mom think my abilities are gift from God? Why does Dad seem to think the opposite? Being able to heal fast is my fifth ability to develop. What will be next? Or will this be it? I need to find my biological parents—someone, somewhere has to know who they are and what I am. I wonder if I was born different and they knew they had to get rid of me. It would explain why they left me at a church; they thought only God could have mercy on me.” (Livia Berwick.)
Height: 6 ft 0 in
Hair: Dense and smooth Brown
Adam is the older son of Mr. and Mrs. Cooper, among his three younger siblings. He is the only one who doesn’t have red hair and green eyes. Adam believes he has gotten his father’s looks, but that’s all they have in common. Adam’s relationship with his father is hanging from a thin thread. The closer he gets closer to the truth about himself, the more he understands his father’s indifference toward him. To everyone’s eyes, Adam has a picture perfect life; his friends think he has it all. Adam is smart and athletic. He’s the captain of his school wrestling team and the quarterback for the football team. However, he’s constantly fighting a battle within himself. He can do things no human should be able to do. He keeps his love interests at arms length so they won’t see him how he sees himself—a freak with unexplainable abilities that would make him the perfect lab rat if discovered. That is until he meets Livia and starts to believe he’s not alone in his supernatural world. Adam is patient and he’s willing to wait for the truth to reveal everything.
“Something is off, but I can’t bring myself to look deeper. It would only make me hope that she might be different like me, and I know it’s impossible. It’s just an empty wish from my childhood—that I would find someone who has the same secrets so there would be no secrets” (Adam Cooper)
Resilient by Patricia Vanesse
Genre: YA Paranormal
Publisher: Pants on Fire Press
Published: September 2nd, 2013
Livia has never felt like she fits in. As normal as it sounds, Livia is anything but ordinary. She can feel every emotion of every single person around her, and it’s maddening. In pursuit of some psychic quiet, she moves with her family from New York City to Whidbey Island in the lush and sleepy Pacific Northwest. But when a horseback riding accident in her new home gives her a broken leg that heals in a day, she finds that another unexplainable ability has manifested, and her life isn’t about to get any easier.
Adam has no problem fitting in and making friends. In fact, he’s the top of the school, the boy everyone knows and loves. However, people only see what he allows them to. No one knows what Adam is truly capable of. After witnessing Livia’s accident, Adam sees something intriguing in her quick recovery, something that gives him hope that he’s not alone.
Adam is the only one whose emotions Livia can’t read. Afraid of not knowing what goes on behind his dark eyes, Livia decides to keep him at a distance. Yet the more she tries to ignore him, the more alluring he becomes, and while their personal quests for identity will inevitably bring them closer together, it is the confirmation of what they really are that threatens to tear them apart.
Resilient, told in alternating point of views, is a gripping story of survival and romance, in which two teenagers face the consequences of being anything but normal.
Patricia Vanasse was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Now she lives on Whidbey Island in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, two adorable children, and two crazy dogs. She has been trough Culinary Arts, Psychology, LawSchool, and now has finally found her passion in creative writing. She also loves traveling, cooking, and is an avid reader. Her strength- believes that everything is possible.
Have you read RESILIENT? What do you think of Livia and Adam?Read More
How To Write Funny
by Lance Manion
I’ve never really been impressed with authors that write long teary-eyed novels about people dying of terrible diseases or uplifting stories about the armless boy who made the wrestling team. That may be exactly what the reading public is looking for I don’t think it will be too long before computers can crank that crap out without the need of a frumpy middle-aged woman tapping away.
Same goes with the glut of teen wizards and werewolves that seem to be choking every shelf in the few remaining book stores.
It’s all 50 shades of the same stuff.
If you want to impress me … make me laugh.
Now I realize that the thought of impressing me is far down on your to-do list and with good reason. You’ve probably never heard of me and just the implication that I feel that you should be trying to impress me to begin with probably has you raising the trembling fist and strongly considering abandoning this post altogether. I understand completely.
That being said, you’re probably in need of some advice on how to make people laugh so stop your bellyaching and listen up.
Let me start with a joke you’ve probably heard before.
*Celine Dion walks into a bar. The bartender says “Why the long face?”*
Funny. No denying that.
It’s not just because Celine Dion has a long face. It’s because the joke doesn’t describe the bar. It just says bar and lets the listener picture any bar they want in their head. The perfect bar for Celine Dion to be walking into. The same goes with the bartender. When I heard that joke I, no doubt like yourself, had a very vivid image of what the bartender looked like and I’m guessing our two bartenders looked nothing alike.
It doesn’t matter. We both pictured just the right bartender to deliver the line “Why the long face?”
Rule #1: Don’t over-write.
Let the reader fill in as much detail as they can. They will image a much better scene in their head than you can possibly write. Get over yourself. Unless it’s critical to the story, just give the basics.
This next one is the most important rule and I’m regretting not making it #1 but to change it now would involve a lot of copying and pasting and frankly I’m just not up to it. Suffice to say, make a little mental note that this rule should be #1 but I’ll go ahead and call it #2.
Rule #2: Write to the right audience.
There are people out there that you’re never going to amuse. You need to keep your writing out of their miserable hands. What you want to look for is people who have an imagination similar to your own. Ideally you want people that have at one point in their lives looked down on an odd little plant they’d never seen before and felt the need to bend over and uproot it, took a closer look to confirm that it was in fact from another planet and was sent here to sprout and consume everything in its path, destroyed it and then said to themselves “You’re welcome Earth” as they walked away.
These are outstanding readers and exactly what you’re looking for. I cannot stress this enough. If you can’t find any of these than people who know that the time difference between the United States and Australia doesn’t mean that things happen at different relative times but still think to themselves they should find a friend in Australia to let them know how all the football games turned out before they were played so they can bet on them will do.
People with a healthy appreciation of a good run-on sentence don’t hurt either.
Got it? You have to accept that you’re not really that funny and you are completely dependent on the reader to find something redeeming about anything you come up with.
Rule #3 isn’t as important as Rule #2, which should be Rule #1, but it’s more important than Rule #1 so it really should be Rule #2.
And that rule is?
Rule #3: You have to connect.
You have to put yourself out there. Don’t be afraid to be honest and never shy away from the stuff that makes you who you are. Funny writers have to make the reader feel like they are simpatico. For example, if you really like John Hughes movies don’t be afraid to burn 16 Candles at both ends.
See what I did there? The line itself isn’t funny but the connection to a beloved movie makes you find it redeeming (Rule #2).
Or, you hated the line and hate me and now wish you’d have abandoned this post back before Rule #1 (again, Rule #2 in action … you miserable bastard).
Rule #4 is truly the least important of the four so I’m happy to address it last.
Rule #4: If you’re going to use the word cornucopia in a sentence, the sentence better have to do with corn.
People are really touchy about that.
Well, I hope these four simple rules will help you in your attempts at writing funny stuff and that you return to review them often. Please let me know if you write something funny and go on to publish your own humorous short story collection. Obviously I’m far too busy to ever read it but it will give me the warm fuzzy feeling that I’ve helped a fellow writer blossom.
Homo sayswhaticus by Lance Manion
Published: May 16th, 2013
With this newest collection of irreverent short stories Manion once again asks the reader to get off the bench and into the game as he dishes out laughs, offense and even a few poignant moments. There is no point to be made here. Only the hope that somewhere amidst all the run-on sentences, unnecessary profanity and poor grammar, readers will come away with some unique thoughts of their own. Perfect reading for artists, commuters and people who spend an inordinate amount of time on the toilet.
Some writers pander to their audience and write whatever it is they think will sell. Others are bold enough to say what needs to be said.
Lance Manion is the author of four short story collection; Merciful Flush, Results May Vary, The Ball Washer his latest one Homo sayswhaticus. The book is available free for your eReader at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He contributes to many online flash fiction sites and blogs daily on his website www.lancemanion.com . He finds the na at the end of banana as annoying as you would if it were bananana.
I’ve toyed with the concept of this post for six months. All my previous attempts I deleted, because they seemed too preachy for me. So, here’s my try number #122412 on…
10 Things that the Organizers of Book Tours Should Do
– to make life easier on your tour hosts
1) Personalize your blog tour invites.
Hi, my name is Lizzy. Lizzy likes to feel special. Tour invites addressed to Lizzy makes her feel like the tours were specifically tailored to her book interests. This makes Lizzy want to hit the sign up button.
2) Don’t host authors with sucky books.
Simply put, read something the author has written. In order to attract veteran book bloggers who will have the most promotional reach for the authors, you need to have a reputation of offering books that the bloggers will think are amazing. Two bad books from a tour company and they lose all credibility for me. I don’t want to be put in the situation of having to write a promotional piece for an author I don’t enjoy. I don’t want to suffer through books that are horribly edited.
3) Never, ever give two hosts the same guest post.
It’s like showing up to a party and seeing someone in the same outfit. Totally, not cool!
One company I was with in my early months used to give an option of 3 guest posts for the tour hosts to pick from. They were short, crappy, and everyone seemed to pick the same guest post.
I felt completely embarrassed to post something that had been posted before and I only did so because I felt compelled to honor my commitment. I didn’t sign up for any more guest posts from that company after that experience.
3) Send everything in one email.
The more emails you send me, the more likely I am to lose some part of the tour information. And when I’m writing up my post 3 hours before my scheduled date, I hate shifting between multiple emails just to find everything I’m looking for. If you absolutely must send information in separate emails. please resend everything.
4) Don’t make hosts hunt for information.
Please give us all the links, covers, author information, blurb, and publishing details. If you don’t take the time to make sure that we get all the information, then the information that ends up on our post may be missing or wrong.
5) Remind hosts 24 or 28 hours before scheduled tour date.
Sometimes, we forget. Optimally, if I see a reminder email, I always check to make sure that my scheduled post is set for the right date. Realistically, I’ll frantically search my email for my review copy and 12 hours later write up my review post for the tour. But, it is better for this frantic occurrence to happen before the scheduled date and not afterwards.
Because if I miss a my date, then I’ll spend the next 12 hours hunting for an alibi and you’ll have to explain to the author why you have deadbeat tour hosts.
7) Let hosts know if the author is expected to comment on tour stops.
I like to know if I should expect the author to comment on my post. I’ll make sure to comment back within a couple hours. If you don’t tell me, then there’s a chance that the author would stop by when I’m not home (aka at my computer) and that’s just an awkward feeling for both me and the author.
8) Expect and forgive last minute problems.
Things happen. Sick kids. Sick us. Lost email. Computer failures. Limbs falling off. Emotional breakdowns. Alien abductions. Et cetera.
We’re volunteers. Your blog tour is not our first priority in life. If you want priority, then you either need to pay us or offer free chocolate with blog tours. I am definitely motivated by free chocolate.
9) Understand that we promote what we like.
This might be about money for you, but this is about passion for us.
My promotional effort with each author is directly related to how much I love the author’s books. If it’s a ‘meh’, then don’t expect much more than a standardized tweet and Facebook post on my schedule date. If it’s great, then I’ll notify all my friends about it. If it’s amazing, then I’ll probably buy a copy to share with people. If it’s the greatest book ever written, then I’ll write the main character’s name on my next kid’s birth certificate.
10) Don’t beg for hosts.
If no one responds to your first email, there’s a damn good reason. It is one of three issues:
- The cover sucks.
- The description sucks.
- The author has a negative reputation. Either the author has a reputation for putting out sub-par books or the author has not been nice to reviewers in the past.
If you beg, then you’ll make me feel guilty. If you make me feel guilty, then I’ll either sign up for the tour with a book that I probably won’t enjoy and then I’ll unsubscribe from your mailing list. Or, I’ll skip the tour sign up and just unsubscribe. I have a hectic enough schedule without 5 emails in one week about a tour that no one wants to participate in.
Next time, make sure the book is good before you take the money. Quality over quantity. Passion over purse.
EDIT: I also wanted to add that a three star review is NOT a negative review. It often means that the ‘book was good but not for me’. This type of review still sells books. I refuse (on principle) to sign up for tours that do not allow three star reviews. I have dropped out of tours if I’m informed that a three star review isn’t good enough for the author.Read More