08 December 2012

Where has Carrie Been? - An Update

Wow, December. 

A couple of months have blurred by and as usual, I haven’t blogged. I don’t blog all too often but like to give updates because…well, just because. 

Writing has been sporadic. I do what I can, when I can, unless there’s a deadline. I have some pieces floating around in small press limbo right now but nothing definite aside from Drunk On the Moon II, a paranormal noir tribute to Paul Brazill’s Roman Dalton, werewolf crime fighter.

Crooked Fang has received some small praise; if you bought it and/or reviewed it, I thank you. I’m working on the sequel, intelligently dubbed: Crooked Fang II, which sits at a tidy 25k words.

So what else have I been doing? 

CodeBass’s head mistress, Vicky Ryder, invited my Xan Marcelles (currently tormenting folks as @crookedfang on Twitter) to produce a weekly radio show for her internet radio channel, so I’ve been learning the ropes on that. I took two trips to Arizona to visit Dorothy Shaw, which gave me the opportunity to visit an Old West-style town and Sedona. I also was visited by Synde Korman, from Seattle, whom I showed off a little bit of central Texas to. We drove out to the Hill Country and turned around just on the other side of Fredericksburg. A storm rolled in just as the sun set and had I not been driving, I would have taken snapshots of the dark horizon.

This month, I have Dorothy Shaw visiting me here in Austin. Next week is my birthday and while birthdays  get more blah as I get older, I’ve got a nice gathering of local friends as we toast in my next year of life together.

Music has become much more important in my life and although I’m yet to play anything beyond a few popular bass and guitar tabs, I’m looking to find new ways to get close to what I love.

And to close for what will probably be my last post for 2012, I want to thank everyone for their friendship and support as I’ve stumbled through my first year in publishing. It seems like only yesterday that I posted Lyrical had accepted Crooked Fang. Now I have the book in all electronic formats and in print sitting here on my desk (yes, I finally kept a copy). Keep sending me feedback and posting reviews for that debut because it’ll help make the next book just as much fun.

A toast to 2013: May our fondest dreams come true.


21 October 2012

Introducing Annice Sands - Erotic Author

I've been writing short stories for some time, as my oldest readers know. Throughout that time, I've written all sorts of genres and dabbled in one that continues to elude my horrific sensibility. As fellow writers know, erotica is blossoming and lunging forward in the race for the top-read genre and I am not one to discount the merits of a good, sexy story.

Therefore, I decided to join in. Don't laugh! Okay, you can laugh, because I did and still do as I post every new story, but I hope to learn more from this new frontier (at least to me) and incorporate it into the rest of my writing.

I write under a pen name and have been for a short time and after discussion with my family (you know how they are) I've decided to release that identity. [grins]

In the erotic world, I'm vaguely known as Annice Sands, and I have taken up the offer to continue writing for Everything Erotic as I learn the craft of writing sex. It's very hard to do, you know? I just said "hard," heh.

You can find my infantile efforts at Everything Erotic, under the tag Annice Sands if you enjoy erotic interludes. I welcome your comments and wordless gestures of surprise.

Follow Annice Sands on Twitter for news of new posts: @annicesands


02 October 2012

October Sale on Crooked Fang!

October has always been my favorite month. Aside from the Autumn colors and overall cooler temperatures here in Austin, Texas there’s Halloween. A good spooky writer has to love Halloween, right? In fact, Crooked Fang opens the week before.

The response has been tremendous for Crooked Fang so in light of October 10th being Xan Marcelles’s birthday, it was decided that October should be the month of opportunity.

I've designated October to be Monster Fang Month, with deep discounts on both print and ebook versions of Crooked Fang. My two publishers were wonderful in working together with me to make this possible. Here’s the rundown of the savings:

Print books – CreateSpace and Amazon are 25% off standard cover price almost everywhere. (check your region’s Amazon to be sure)

Ebooks – Kindle books $2.99 (US) and £1.91 (UK)
               Nook books $2.99
               Complete zip file of formats, Lyrical $2.99

Giveaways – ebooks will be given out to winners of random draw over on the Crooked Fang blog on October 10, 17, and 24. All those entrants will be put together to draw for a special grand prize of a signed Crooked Fang paperback (plus whatever else I can think to toss into the envelope) on October 31st

If you have been wanting Crooked Fang but have hesitated either because of finances or indecision, October is definitely the month for you to act. These prices will never be lower.

Reviews for Crooked Fang:

“Perhaps the primary thing that makes Xan Marcelles different from most of the vampires you are likely to read about in contemporary paranormal romance or urban fantasy is that Xan is so “normal” it’s kind of unnatural.” Suz from Paperback Dolls

 “This isn’t the story of a vampire being a vampire. It’s the story of a vampire being a guy. Problems plague Xan. Band issues, girl issues, his past, etc. And then when you forget he’s a vampire, BAM, a wretched creature appears, and a slayer tries to stake him!” Will Knight from Bibliophilia, Please

 “When it ended it was like closing to a door on a life I was vicariously living and loving.” Beverly from Sizzling Hot Books

After October, I most likely will fall quiet, except for the occasional check-ins and little flashes you all know me for. It’s high time I got busy with Crooked Fang II.

Happy October!


21 September 2012

"The Calling" #Fridayflash

I’m going to die soon.

 Those words burst into life on my lips as I jolted out of a deep and melodic sleep. Where had that come from? Of course I wasn’t going to go anytime near in the future, I mean I was mid-thirties for Christ’s sake. I licked my lips and found them dry. My fingers clutched the duvet; I relaxed them, slowly, painfully. My legs. It was my legs. The numbness and pain that infused my lower limbs with tumble of white-hot needles of agony, sometimes so unbearable I couldn’t rest easy or at all. Old sweat caked my neck under my mane of wavy hair, tangled into an assortment of bed-knots as I tossed in my slumber. My face was slick with day-old make-up and kohl burned my eyes. I rolled over on my back.

So that’s it, isn’t it? The insistence in my mind to hurryhurryhurryhurry—be something—accomplish everything that I can, all the while a giant monolith’s heartbeat thrums at a slow plod, marking off my remaining days. Maybe months. Could I at least hope for years?

Madness. I couldn’t possibly know such things. No one could foretell their passing, not without a grim disposition from a fellow with three letters after his name and a comma. Yet the nagging feeling was there. It settled behind my solar plexus, tightening the strings that held my heart in place as my pulse reported my near state of panic eagerly.

What could I do with this new-found knowledge? This insight into the unseen? Would anyone even believe me? I sat up, clenching my hands into fists, feeling my nails dig into the comparatively soft skin of my palms. This would pass. It was all a ruse in my mind. A bit of unbalanced chemical or another. Perhaps too much caffeine and nicotine, rushed together to coagulate into a bit of post-midnight madness. It was lack of food, too much drink, and hours spent in the sun. The heat. It could well be a side-effect of the heat. Stifling and heaving with invisible drops of moisture like a living, panting animal.

Whatever it was, it didn’t frighten me as well as it should. My mind quickly snapped into action, ticking off a bucket list of desired accomplishments, and all looked well, save for my current project which lay halfway done, captured in text documents in various stages on my hard drive. My family. There was a problem. The set of caring individuals who always appeared before me once my internet time was cut short on holidays. Names of people I only recognized in Hallmark cards, sometimes with checks made out to me in desperation of giving me something, anything to be part of my life. To be seen. Did I see them? When was the last time I’d picked up the phone and given a call to my mother, whom incidentally lived within visiting distance enough to justify the fuel costs? Or my father, who supported me in my later teens, offering me his last dollar?

 Oh, we had our Facebook chats. We exchanged funny emails with the subject line FW: FW: FW: FW: This really made me laugh! But as for physical contact?

 How silent the house seemed in that instant of realization. Tears threatened at the corners of my eyes. I was a bad daughter. So many years, fighting to be seen by the world, and to be accepted by peers, and here I’d ended up ignoring those who meant the most.

I had to change. Immediately. Return calls. Send cards and back-listed gifts. Stop being such a spoiled, expectant bitch.

I rushed to my computer and checked my banking account online. The amount of digits there assured me I had the resources. I continued my trek to another website that sold my mother’s favorite perfume. A few clicks later, and she was scheduled to be astounded in a matter of days. A quick glance at the clock advised me that a phone call was out of the question at that hour, but I sent my father an email. One that hadn’t been forwarded from a stranger, or sent to ten others simultaneously.

Finally, I arranged for some time off of work. If I was to part ways with this world soon, what did it matter if I spent some of my accrued holiday time?

I would finish the project while on holiday, after dinner with my father. Although surprised, he did not decline an offered visit. He asked after my mother’s welfare and after we nattered on a bit about the state of things, I disclosed to him the stark feeling I was running low on time.

“I went through the same thing, about the time I was your age,” he explained after a hearty, good-natured laugh. “You youngins—always so obsessed with death and dying. Tempting the Devil to come for you early. Turning your face away from what’s so simple to learn.”

“What’s that, Dad?” I was confused. How could what seemed so real and ominous be wrong? I was fated to die early. I just knew  it somehow.

 “It’s easier to die than it is to live. It’s the whole getting there part that hurts the most.” He coughed, an ill-effect from decades of chain-smoked cigarettes. “You’re not going to be let off the hook that easy, dear daughter. But you can make the most of it.”

 Those words stuck with me years afterward. I went on to charity work. I sold my expensive car and home, and eventually set up a chain of friend’s homes I could stay in for a limited time as I traveled the country, learning all I could and seeing all I could see.

 The prognosis came the week before my forty-fourth birthday: brain tumor. Inoperable. The headaches had gotten to where I was left blind for periods at a time. My reaction was surprising to the doctor.

“Are you sure this time doc? You’re not just pulling my leg? Because I’ve tied all my loose ends, and I know the Devil likes to play his tricks.”

I’m still calling his bluff.

Photo credit: guilanenachez from morguefile.com

20 September 2012

Crooked Fang accepting signed orders for print!

Hi everyone,

Just got in a fresh box of Crooked Fang in the print for distribution and I'd like to extend an offer to sign and ship you a new copy of Crooked Fang. Price is $17 total for US/Canada, quotes given for other countries and yes, I will ship these babies anywhere.

These will only be available for a limited time.

For consideration, please send mail to crookedfang (at) Gmail.com or easy link is here.

Let my vampire in.


12 September 2012

Writing Western - Unique Challenge Accepted, by Icy Sedgwick

One of the biggest problems encountered by anyone writing a book set during a specific historical period is being accused of historical inaccuracies. Sci-fi and fantasy can sidestep the problem by simply making up their own worlds, but if you want to set your story at a certain point in time, then you need to make sure you know what you're talking about. Research must be done to avoid criticism, and anchor the story in both time and place - if someone is put off your story by glaring historical problems, then they might just stop reading. You can't really get away with watching a clutch of Westerns and then writing a story, unless you actively want that 'pasteboard backdrop' feel to your writing.

But the problem with the Western is that it's not just a historical genre. Yes it's true that you need to be aware of the facts - for example, you can't get away with having the hero suddenly whip out a Tommy gun to shred his nemesis (the Tommy gun wasn't invented until 1919). When I wrote The Guns of Retribution, I researched Arizona's history to find out when the railroad first came to the state and when most Apaches were sent to reservations, all to make sure that the events in the book happened at around the right time in history. I figured if anyone was going to have problems with the book, I didn't want the problems to be with historical inaccuracies.

Of course, that's all well and good, but the Western is more than just 'the Old West', as mad as that might sound. The Western is one of the most clearly defined genres there is - it even comes complete with a set of themes. Say 'Western' to most people and they'll picture a saloon with swing doors, with cowboys and lawmen shooting it out in the street while tumbleweeds blow around their feet. Maybe they'll picture Clint Eastwood or John Wayne. People want horses, stagecoaches and Native Americans. Whatever people imagine, they come to the Western with a preconceived set of ideas and imagery, which is possibly why many of the stories have taken on mythic status.

I usually write horror, or 'weird' fiction, and there are definite challenges involved in writing a Western compared with these other genres. If I'm writing horror, or dark fantasy, then I can essentially make things up as I go along - the world of the story operates according to my rules, and inaccuracies are easier to explain due to generic conventions. With a Western, I have to bear in mind both the history and the established conventions of the genre. You can't even sidestep history and locate your story in a non-defined place, operating under a set of clichéd conditions - geography, social considerations and technological developments all affect your story, and you need to have them in mind before you start.

Photo credit: rbrevity from morguefile.com

It sounds like I'm saying Westerns are difficult to write, which they're not - if you're prepared to research the genre. The mechanics of a good story apply no matter what genre you choose, and if you're happy to do some historical research to provide a solid backdrop to your story, then the Western can be an exciting, and extremely fun, genre in which to write. After all, how many other genres boast bounty hunters, cowboys, law men, corrupt railroad tycoons and the rich, varied cultural heritage of the Native Americans?

Find me on Twitter @icypop
Buy The Guns of Retribution – http://www.amazon.com/dp/1908544007/

07 September 2012

"Thaw Before Serving" #Fridayflash

Warning: This story is pretty horrific, even for me. I dreamed this one. Take it as you will. Thanks for stopping by. - CC

Photo credit: ladyheart from morguefile.com

Toby and I filed out to Amanda’s car one by one to transfer the specialized foods she’d brought along for the trip. Our mutual friend Amanda had insisted on inviting herself to the vacation but traveled separately since she had an enormous amount of luggage. Airplanes gave her headaches, trains took too long and she would never be caught dead on a Greyhound bus, so she drove the distance in her fancy sports car. Amanda stayed in the rented rooms with Isaac, whom she’d just met in the hotel bar that day. Given her social status and that it’d happened before, the surprise guest wasn’t all that surprising. 

I grunted under the hot July sun as we worked together to shift colored plastic bags scented with heavy perfumes containing who knew what into the back of his pickup. The matching Coach bags were heavy, laden with more of the things she couldn’t live without, because when Amanda traveled, she thought of everything. When we reached the large cooler, we discovered that the trunk liner beneath it was standing in water. The drive from Laredo must’ve taken at least six hours so we knew that anything that Amanda had brought to supplement her highly-specialized diet was pretty much a goner. I started to open the lid.

“Are you sure you want to do that? One of her snow crabs might pinch your nose off.” Toby smirked from the other side of the trunk. “I’m baking out here. I’m gonna go grab us a couple bottles of water.”

“You might want to call her down to look at her food. It’ll be her choice whether we throw it away.”

Toby nodded and went off as planned. I stared at the lid of the cooler. Some of the food might be good still. I couldn’t heft the container alone so I flipped the slide-lock and opened it instead. Toby had cracked a joke about snow crabs attacking me, but he’d been closer to the truth than he thought. Nestled inside in neat packaging were all sorts of wild and exotic meats with a few unidentifiable vegetables. As we’d assumed, the meat was defrosting. We might’ve been been able to salvage a few choices but Amanda would have to consult with her physician, dietician, and whomever else she contacted to decide whether partially-thawed meats could kill her. I stared into that box for maybe half a minute as I tried to make a decision on how to handle the mistake. Amanda refused to eat standard meals anywhere. She’d find a way to somehow hold us responsible in one of her classic bitch fits. But we hadn’t loaded the car, and certainly not the travel cooler. One of the packages shifted and I blinked. Maybe the sun was getting to me. When it shifted again, I let out a sharp scream and dropped the lid shut.

Had I imagined the movement? Curiosity won over fear. My father hadn’t raised me to be a flimsy-wristed pansy girl. I squared my shoulders and opened the cooler again. No movement. I wrapped my fingers around the suspicious package, wrapped in pale pink waxed paper. It jerked weakly against my hand. I gaped. Oh my god. I pulled the bundle out of the cooler and took it the grassy strip that divided the hotel and the concrete drive of the loading area. The simple butcher’s tape gave up its prize: A whole, not-so-frozen-anymore brown rabbit. 

The eating habits of the rich were often disgusting, but this particular entrée had been forced to lie on its belly and was packaged similar to a child’s toy, with a cardboard collar around its body and included cutting board. And somehow, someway, this animal was still alive. 

I carefully tore away the cardboard from the wet, closely cropped fur and untwisted the vinyl ties that bound its feet together. It gave a sigh, punctuated with a whistle. How did this thing still live? When I rolled it over, it stretched its front paws and twitched one long ear. I looked up to see Toby walking back to me with Amanda and her gentleman companion in tow. 

“Whatcha got there?” Toby called, and I waved him over. The bunny hadn’t opened its eyes yet but its shaved sides rose and fell with rapid breath. Toby halted at my feet wearing the same expression I imagined I’d been wearing five minutes before. He eyed the discarded container, the reanimated rabbit, and then me. “Was that in Amanda’s cooler?”

I nodded slowly and turned the little animal over. Its big hind feet kicked in response but I held them together with one hand to show Toby the neatly-stitched gash I’d found in the bunny’s gut. “You’ve dressed game before. What do you think they might’ve taken out?”

He shook his head. “Could be anything. The liver, intestines…if it was flash-frozen to be baked…” He frowned as I laid the rabbit in his hands and rose to my feet. 

I strode back over to Isaac standing with Amanda at the trunk of her car as she fussed over the remains of her dietary choices and bemoaned her digestive demise for the remainder of our getaway. She turned to me as I approached and opened her mouth to speak but didn’t get a word out. I punched her in the face.

28 August 2012

Apostle Rising - Interview with Richard Godwin

Richard Godwin has made the migration to ebook with his debut novel, Apostle Rising. I ask him a few questions and gather his thoughts on the process. 

The ebook features an excerpt from Mr. Glamour and four additional Noir stories as an added bonus. Booktrailer after interview.

Now that you've had the book in print, how do you feel about your book migrating to ebook?

There is nothing like holding your first published paperback in your hands. The publishing world is in disarray as a result of mercenary decisions and a certain narrow mindedness that has resulted in Barnes & Noble behaving like school children and Waterstones acting as if the world hasn't moved on. As a result we are living in the midst of a revolution and I think it will be a bloody one. The E Book has changed things dramatically. The agent based model is under threat and distributors are cut out of the chain. The big six are about to have a fine slapped on them by the US Supreme Court for price fixing. Writers previously excluded from publication are now seeing their works on kindle. Amazon has done a great job making it user friendly and available. I believe writing should be easily available. I do not believe a club whose members are not interested in writing should run things. However the standard is still uneven.

Apostle Rising coming out on E Book is great, as people who may have hesitated to buy a paperback can download it for a few bucks. I hope it will encourage them to read Mr. Glamour, my second novel, out now in paperback with Black Jackal Books, and to be released as an E Book. It will also interest me to compare figures, such as they are available to me. The E Book of Apostle Rising contains some extras: a series of deliciously dark Noir stories by me, and an excerpt from Mr. Glamour. It is available on all readers.

You've been in the industry for some time now. How has your approach to writing changed over the years? Do you feel it's easier or more difficult to be author? Do you find it easier or more difficult to reach out to your readers?

Writing is a process, it is a beautiful one because you can never reach a ceiling. To say whether it becomes easier or harder depends on your point of view, whether you are a straight genre author or one who experiments. You learn what not to do. You learn what works for you and your voice. I am atypical since I write in a number of styles, crime, Noir, mystery, bizarro, surreal, satire, literary, sci if. I will go on doing so. I know who my audience is to a certain extent. But it is always nice to meet new people. Whether it is easier or harder to write in terms of the industry is a complicated matter. If you want to write, write. The industry is in trouble. We will see what happens. People will always want to read.

Which genre do you find yourself most at home and eager to write?

It’s hard to pick one. I love Noir, because you don't have to answer all the questions, much like in life. I like crime fiction, and also injecting satire where the so called experts believe in their eternal sapience it doesn't belong. Satire is the eternal misfit. I am also drawn to bizarro. I am comfortable writing literary fiction. The list will go on extending itself, bit not ad nauseam.
Can you link to one of your favorite pieces on the web and tell me why?

I'll keep it short and sweet because lengthy introductions are tedious. Empty Diners AndPassing Trucks gives you a taste of my smorgasbord, and Nat Sobel sent this one onto Otto Penzler for his anthology of the best Noir writing on the net. It’s a kind of Hopper painting in words, about lost people and the myths we need, about perceptions and the truth that myths hide.
On the subject of sexual content, do you feel it is necessary in novels and why?

Sexual content isn't necessary per se, all scenes are context driven. Take John Fowles' The Collector, he could have capitalised on sex, he didn't, it is a great novel. One of its strengths lies in the fact that while the protagonist’s motivation is sexual in a pathological sense, Fowles never writes about sex gratuitously, it is integral to the story and the character development.

If you are writing realism then it is part of a character's life. Many naturalists baulked at it to their historical detriment. To shy away from the subject reeks of moral puritanism and while there may be a theocratic section of so called readers out there intent on making sure nothing more than a kiss occurs in fiction, they have never said one important thing about literature. Art is not indebted to a particular moral orthodoxy and it never has been. Exploring the level of disease and self-hatred latent in sex is also interesting. DH Lawrence opened things up with Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Henry Miller arguably revolutionised the erotic novel with Tropic Of Cancer. To attempt to turn that back is backwards. The YA movement sadly is being monitored by the kind of people who came up with warning labels on CD’s.

What's the most important tool you have as a writer?


Tell me about Apostle Rising.

Apostle Rising is about a serial killer who is literally crucifying politicians. He is recreating the original murder scenes of an old case and leaving no forensic clues. It is also about the effect that dealing with evil has on a police officer. Here's a brief synopsis.

Detective Chief Inspector Frank Castle never caught the Woodlands Killer and it almost destroyed him. Now years later, mauled by the press, and traumatised by nightmares, he is faced with a copycat killer with detailed inside knowledge of the original case.

He and his partner DI Jacki Stone enter a deadly labyrinth, and at its centre is the man Castle believes was responsible for the first killings. He’s running a sinister cult and playing dark mind games with the police. The investigation has a shattering effect on the lives of Castle and Stone. The killer is crucifying politicians, and he keeps raising the stakes and slipping through their hands. Dark coded ritualistic killings are being carried out on high profile figures and the body count is rising.

 Castle employs a brilliant psychologist to help him solve the case, and he begins to dig into the killer’s psyche. But some psychopaths are cleverer than others.

 Karl Black is the man Castle believes is responsible for The Woodland Killings, and the investigation places him at the top of the list of suspects. Black hates the police and from the moment Castle and Stone visit him he sneers at them and then begins to undermine the investigation.

 The novel contains a great twist. No one who has read it has guessed who the killer is and the discovery is a huge shock to the central characters.

And for my last question, tell me what's in your future plans as an author. Any new projects?

I am writing the sequel to Apostle Rising and a new novel. The new book is something completely different. I also have a Noir Italian novella out now, The Secret Hour in English, L’ora Segreta, in Italian. Here’s a synopsis.
Paris Tongue is an accomplished seducer. He has a blond fire about him. He can read a woman’s sexual needs as quickly as he used to pick pocket the tourists who frequent Piccadilly with cameras on their shoulders and maps in their eager hands. One day he seduces beautiful Viola. The Secret Hour is the time when Paris meets his lovers, and allows them to escape from their lives. He makes love to Viola in various locations in London. The wealthy, exclusive districts of Mayfair and Piccadilly form the backdrop to their erotic liaisons, as Viola becomes another woman. But she is married to gangster Max Reger, and he is watching her. As Twilight falls on Golden Square and Paris makes love to Viola, Max steals into the house where they are sharing their stolen time together. And Paris discovers something about Viola.
It can be bought here for £1.55

I am also in the anthology Get Your Goat, with Barbecue The Sink Beast.

Apostle Rising Booktrailer:

Thanks, Richard.