20 April 2011

Book Review: Khepera Rising, by Nerine Dorman

Khepera RisingKhepera Rising by Nerine Dorman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


James “Jamie” Guillaume starts out as a thirty-something man who runs an occult shop, has a proud reputation as South Africa’s “Wickedest Man”, has his pick of all the kindergoths in town at his disposal, and wears carefully applied make-up, completing his immersion in his self-constructed fantasy world. Piece-by-piece, this meticulously-maintained environment is slowly reduced, laying bare the true man beneath the veneer and positioning him against larger-than-life adversaries.



Khepera Rising is a stunning masterpiece of dark paranormal urban fantasy beyond typical glittery fae or vampires. This book is reserved for readers who want to sink chest-deep in satiny prose, vivid descriptions, and a plot that keeps them turning the page long after their body has made the call for sleep in the wee hours of the morning.



I finished this book in two day’s time only because I simply found it impossible to put the book down. The characters are each bright and memorable, and I didn’t run into the problem I encounter often, which is forgetting who is who and wondering what exactly their significance in the greater scheme of things is. No, every individual is well-placed, an essential piece of a magnificent chess set in Dorman’s universe.



Dorman further flexes her literary skills by exposing her in-depth knowledge of the subject matter and takes her reader by the hand to lead them through a labyrinth of blacker subjects than your typical St. Martin’s novel. This book provides a deeply engrossing and educational read, set on the shores of Cape Town, in South Africa.



Not since Dean Koontz’s olden horror-writing days have I been so enthralled by a story.





View all my reviews

14 April 2011

A Moment of Pause

Remember if you knew. Discover if you're still in the dark. It's been a year, leaving me at a loss yet I feel my part is to ensure everyone gets a chance to love Peter as much as we do:

His family has put together a blog and is doing regular postings of their memories of him. 

The Official Type O Negative website is hosting fan-created art in a special gallery.

MetalSucks did an extensive two-part interview with his family and friends. These are really in-depth memories/thoughts. It was often hard for them to speak:

Part I

Part II

Code Bass Radio is doing a special show in Peter Steele's honour today.
The listen-to link is here. 

Nerine Dorman did a heartfelt post here.

11 April 2011

Self-Publishing: Behind the Scenes with G.L. Drummond - Guest Post


G.L. Drummond
Hey there! Many thanks to the lovely and talented Carrie for allowing me to be here today.
I’m going to babble about the self-publishing process as I personally do it, using my newest title, Code Walker, as my example.
My tools are MS Word and YWriter5.
Obviously, the first step is to write, and complete, a story. Which can be a bit difficult for me, since I’m the Hop-a-long Cassidy type of writer. Code Walker is an excellent example, as I began writing it back in 2008, and then set it aside for two years before recently completing it.
I used to post each new part to my blog or a site that I belonged to for feedback while writing. I don’t do that anymore, though I do have five beta readers that I send works in progress to. 
Beta readers are invaluable. They offer constructive criticism, point out inconsistencies, and help steer me away from trusting the reader too much. I have a habit of thinking readers can read my past brainwaves and will KNOW what I meant when writing a particular scene.
I am an alien, y’all. My brainwaves don’t always stretch into the future for readers to tune in to. Heh.
During the writing and beta readers’ comments, I go over the story a dozen or more times. Polishing, re-wording, cutting, and adding as needed. Once the story is the best it can be from all of that, I send it in for editing. I have two lovely ladies who edit my works, @BiblioBrat and @tmycann.
Both are excellent editors. Editing fees can range from $20 or so, up to several hundred or even $1k, depending on the final manuscript’s word count.
While the story’s in edits, it’s time to come up with a blurb and the cover.
I suck at the blurbage, and usually ask my editors and/or Kate Smith, a fellow KKP author, to write one, or to clean up the fumbling garbage I spew out. For Code Walker, I asked Kate to come up with a blurb:
In the fickle worlds created when cyberspace and reality overlap, it’s all too easy to blur and shift lines…moral lines, lawful lines, lines of code and destiny, until the surreal becomes real. Walking those lines back to the source, and rebooting the system, isn’t exactly a job for a girl who plays nice - but it does pay extremely well.
As Riley Cabot never qualified as a ‘nice girl’, life as the Code Walker is sweet.
Only thing about codes is that they break.
This year, I’m doing something new where covers are concerned. Before, I used the tools I had available (namely Poser) to create my covers. But after a few fellow indie authors politely pointed out that my covers might be partially responsible for my rather pathetic sales, it was time for a change.
Since I currently can’t afford to shell out $100 or more per cover, I’m still designing my own. But I’ve begun using stock photography instead. There are several sites where you can purchase royalty free licenses for quite reasonable fees.
Code Walker’s cover cost a whopping $29 in licensing fees, and took about 4 hours to create. First, I selected some images and used the preview of each to create cover mockups. Once I had one that I liked, I purchased the licenses and downloaded the larger, higher quality images. Then all I had to do was put them together (I didn’t use Photoshop for this cover, but FireWorks).
One thing to note: Code Walker isn’t long enough to justify releasing a print version, so its cover is purely for web advertising. Advertising usage is allowed under the standard license – but print book covers aren’t always included in the standard licenses. So check for that if you take the same route and plan to release a print version too.
By then, I’ve likely received the edited manuscript, so it’s time to approve edits and make any suggested changes that I agree with. To be honest, I do usually agree with changes my editors suggest. It’s rare that I don’t, but it does occasionally happen.
Now the story is ready to become an ebook. I use the Smashwords’ style guide to format it (it’s a free download). Something I’ve learned is that the final .doc can usually be uploaded to Amazon’s KDP without doing more than changing a bit of the info on the copyright page.
I prefer to distribute my ebooks DRM free where possible – Amazon and Smashwords.
Here’s where it might get a bit tricky: you have to upload the file to Smashwords before you can purchase an ISBN for it. So I upload, purchase that, add the number to the file in the appropriate spot, then re-upload the file.
An ISBN is $9.95 through Smashwords, if you want your own imprint to be listed as the publisher of record. If you don’t care, Smashwords has freebies and getting one of those means that they will be listed as the publisher of record for your ebook.
I have my own imprint (Katarr Kanticles Press), so prefer to purchase ISBNs.
Last, I opt-in through Smashwords to distribute it through their partners, which include B&N, Kobo, Sony, and others.
Ta-dah! New ebook published and distributed.
Code Walker’s wrap up:
Roughly 70 hours writing/acting on beta readers’ advice/polishing. Four hours to design the cover. A couple of hours approving edits; the same for formatting, and an hour or so to upload to Amazon and Smashwords.  Production expenses are just under $400 for editing, an ISBN, and stock image license fees. I don’t count my time in those, because you start thinking about charging higher prices.
Oh, I forgot to mention pricing. That’s something else I’ve made changes to this year, and I price based on finished word count.
Hope you enjoyed this behind the scenes peek at my self-publishing process. Thanks again, Carrie! =)

Thanks Gayla for your insight into the self-publishing industry. You are truly a shining example of professionalism in Indie and take your craft seriously (else you wouldn't have all those spreadsheets and historical stats!). I want to wish you good luck with attaining your first 500 sales. 
 To all my readers, please consider buying this book up to help Gayla attain that goal. It's on sale right now for under an American Dollar. See links below.
- CC
 Code Walker is on sale for 99 cents during the blog tour at Amazon and Smashwords . After that, the cover price will be $2.99, and it will be available at other sites.

G.L. Drummond is a sword-toting alien with a fetish for fur and four-legged creatures who writes fiction & tweets. Indie author/self-publisher.


Follow her on Twitter for highly amusing tweets about House Hunny, her adventures in writing, and the paper toss gig.

07 April 2011

Why I Do Them - Writing

Storytelling is composed of several factors: Plot, characters, and of course, conflict. It also imitates life, art, music, film, and each other. Considering a genre dead due to 'it's been done' is a fool's statement. If that were the case, whatever genre was pronounced dead would not sell not even one single copy and the reason they do not stop selling is because people are still interested in the genre/subject matter.



I've been asked why I write vampires on more than one occasion and my answer is always the same: I like history. I'm not into bloodletting (well since I was 15 or so), or wearing black lace (looks funny when with a kiddo at the store and I work at home), and as much as I'd love to, I don't drive a real hearse or sleep in a coffin.


My characters are endlessly fun to me because I can take people from different eras and have them interact. A man from ancient Rome hanging around with a fellow who was cut down in the eighties, for instance. What would they have to say to one another? I bet it'd be funny. Vampires are nice and convenient for me because of their immortality, human appearance and resilience. I suppose they are like fanged comic superheroes/villains.


When I write them I try to imagine as closely as possible what their daily (or nightly) obstacles would be. In Crooked Fang, the main character (a vampire) lives in a tavern. It makes sense, right? What if he's called out during the day for a reason? Maybe a fire or someone is injured? How would he react to such things?

There's a predatory feel to vampires that seems to appeal. Angry? Tear out some throats. Bored? Drive a motorcycle at 180 mph on an icy road. Feel those emotions because emotion is good even if it's only a black one.

Excerpt*:



He disappeared in the shadows once he reached the overhang and I heard the garage door open. I shook my head at the noise he was making and cursed when he snapped the light on. New vampires still carry habits of the living, like turning on lights when they enter a dark room, even though they don't need to. We're creatures of the night, we can see in the dark. I covered my face with my hand as he rummaged around in plain view of anyone from that angle. Thankfully he found the box quickly and turned the light off again. Then slammed the fucking garage door down. He came back over to me and I slapped him in the head.



“What the hell is wrong with you?”



“Ow!” He whimpered and rubbed his head. “What did I do wrong?”



I yanked a few bags out of the box and carefully unfolded them. “Okay, so I'm going to lift him up and you just get his legs in the bag.”



Serv nodded and I grabbed dead Freddie under his arms and hefted him in the air. Serv fussed a little with opening the bag, but got the corpse's feet in it by easing the plastic up over the legs. Freddie was a pretty small guy so we got him almost all the way in, fit another bag over the exposed head and shoulders, and then lined the trunk with about three more bags. He didn't fit. I jerked him back out of the cavity and threw him on the ground.



“Now what?”



“Now I get to take the fucking spare out,” I said, turning the giant wing-nut to free the spare tire from the floor of the trunk. “This is starting to be a pain in the ass.”



“Well maybe you shouldn't go around killing people then.”
  - Crooked Fang


Therein lies the challenges and joys of writing such a limited character. Sure he can jump off a building and survive but he burns up in sunlight. Interesting. Makes for good story. And there you have it. Why I do them. Vampires I mean. Write them.

Yeah.

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Crooked Fang, the novel and the album is due out in Autumn, 2011.

*Rough excerpt. My editor will be waving her magic wand and making it legibler. Or something.