Tuesday, January 29, 2013

HEROINES WITH HEART 2013 BLOGTOUR

Heroines With Heart is a massive blog tour that runs throughout 2013, that features books with strong female protagonists. We have authors from several different genres, including young adult, mystery/thriller/suspense, romance, sci-fi/fantasy, and Christian fiction. We are also giving away fun digital prizes and sharing new and noteworthy books throughout the year. Want updates?
 
This week's selected feature is:

 
Payne & Misery
 
All that glitters is not gold for Christine Sterling.
The luster of her shiny Golden Years dream fades when Christine’s newly retired husband, Jesse, becomes obsessed with a hobby requiring extra time away from her.
Christine develops a bad reputation for conjuring wild tales and being chief complainer. Then she meets someone who has true reason to complain, if anyone does.
Lila Payne’s life is the mirror opposite of ideal. The plight of this seemingly abused woman gnaws at Christine, but the authorities turn a deaf ear to Christine’s pleas for help on Lila’s behalf. Spurred into action when her beloved dog Molly and Lila both disappear on the same night, Christine dives into a scary pool swirling with muddy secrets and misery. Sensing God at work in the situation Christine continues to search and pray, but even with God’s help, can they save Lila and Molly before it’s too late?

Excerpt #1: Chapter 1

Dark—the word fit him like a bad guy’s black hat—complexion, glasses, expression, knit cap pulled low over his ears, tufts of curls poking out underneath. I concentrated on memorizing his suspicious features as I observed him through the plate glass window of the Humpty-Dumpty Restaurant where my husband Jesse and I often ate brunch after Sunday morning church. The man’s lurking worried me.
“Maybe he’s an Arab.” Not that I’d know an Arab if I bumped into one on the streets. Except for Hispanics, Grass Valley, California, maintained a mostly snow-white population, much like most small towns in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Around us, flatware scraped stoneware, glasses clinked, voices swelled and ebbed interspersed with occasional laughter swirling through the appetizing breakfast smells, but I couldn’t pry my eyes oð the shady man in the parking lot. Nevertheless, I would guess Jesse didn’t so much as look up from his breakfast when he answered. “Who?”
“Out there.” I jabbed a finger toward the culprit.
“Where?”
I let out the anxious breath I’d been holding in and pointed again. “See the man hiding behind that forest green car?”
Jesse frowned as he chewed a few more bites of chili bean omelet. “Honestly, Christine. If he’s behind a car, how can I see him?”
“He keeps popping up. There he is! Look, look. Now.”
Jesse dutifully followed my pointer and then sustained a long stare before turning his attention back to his food. “Okay, I see him. So?”
“He staked out that car. He’s been waiting the whole time we’ve been here. He paces behind it, trying to stay out of sight. When the driver comes back, he’ll jump out and mug her—take her cash and jewelry and who knows what else. Bet he has a gun or a knife in that pocket where his hand is. Watch him.”
Jesse rolled his eyes. “Give it up, will you? You’re jumping to conclusions again. How do you know a woman drives that car? Even if there is a man driver, maybe he’s in a hurry to get home and his wife is taking too long in the restroom.”
“Then why doesn’t he unlock the car and get in?”
Jesse stopped chewing and blinked. Ha! I got him there. I went back to studying the perpetrator, in case I got called on to identify him in a line-up.
Jesse’s delayed answer mumbled out between chews. “Maybe his wife has the car keys.”
After being married to this man for thirty-five years, I should expect Jesse’s reaction to my gift of observation. He never took it seriously. “You’re going to be sorry when you read in tomorrow’s paper that some poor woman got murdered in the Humpty- Dumpty parking lot while you gobbled down a chili omelet.”
Jesse didn’t look up, just harrumphed and kept on eating.
I returned to surveillance, thankful for last year’s laser surgery, which had given my vision razor-edge clarity. The man stood in the shadow of an overhanging oak, but from the direction of his head, I could tell his eyes remained fixed on the front door of the restaurant. My stomach knotted into a pretzel. Danger! I narrowed my eyes. Would Jesse run out to save the woman when the man attacked her? Jesse, my hero, the love of my life. I’d be right behind him, swinging my heavy purse.
Just then, a woman in a leopard-print Spandex dress exited the restaurant and minced across the parking lot toward the man. I held my breath and then whispered, “Jesse!”
Neither of us moved while the woman’s rectangular bag flopped from side to side on its thin strap in rhythm with her swaying hips. Like a lamb to the slaughter, she sauntered closer to her fate without a trace of fear in her walk.
A gasp escaped my lips when the dark-complexioned man popped from the shadows directly in front of his victim. After a short verbal exchange, the woman opened the door of the green sedan and slid in. The mysterious villain hurried to the other side and settled in the passenger seat. Back-up lights flickered. The automobile reversed out of the parking space and sped away.
Without so much as a punch or a yell. He didn’t even grab her bag.
I leveled my gaze at Jesse and blinked.
He opened his mouth.
I held up one hand. “Don’t say it.”
Instead, he shook his head and grunted again before returning to his omelet.
I gulped coffee and fidgeted with my napkin. “He did look suspicious. You can’t deny that.”
Jesse buttered his biscuit, took a big bite, and chewed. I felt the lecture building in his brain like a sudden summer thunderstorm. He stared at me with a curious expression—as if I’d grown a second head—swiped his mouth with his napkin and sighed. “You never give up, do you? There’s something sinister happening everywhere we go. Face it, Chris. This is an ordinary small town in northern California. Good people live here. Bad things don’t happen. That’s why we retired here. Remember? Extremely low crime rate. But you insist on seeing evil everywhere we go. You won’t stop snooping into other people’s affairs. Looking for …” His shoulders sagged and he waggled his head once more. “If it wasn’t so sad, it would be funny.”
“Funny? What would?” Do I dare ask?
“Your imagination.” He leaned forward and pointed his fork in my face. “Someday, that wild imagination of yours is going to get you into real trouble.”
 
 EXCLUSIVE BLURB:
 
 
                                                                     
Catherine Leggitt is the author of the cozy mystery novels, “Payne & Misery,” The “Dunn Deal,”and “Parrish the Thought.” She is also an inspirational speaker presently residing in northern California. During her first career–after raising children and before caring for her aging parents–Catherine worked as an elementary school teacher, where she developed her flair for playacting and storytelling.
 Struggling with retirement, Catherine needed a distraction. She found it at her keyboard.
In addition to writing and speaking, Catherine is the mother of three brilliant children who have collectively produced six incredible grandchildren. An avid Bible student, she sings in the church choir. Catherine is passionate about reading.
 “Payne & Misery,” a Christine Sterling Mystery, won second place at the Orange County Christian Writer’s Conference in 2010. “Parrish the Thought” made the quarter finals in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest before Ellechor published the the trilogy starting in 2011. The remaining books, “The Dunn Deal” and “Parrish the Thought,” were published in 2012. Also, visit her at http://www.catherineleggitt.com/.
 
 

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Announcing the AVENGING INNOCENTS FIRST KILL COMPETITION



ATTENTION READERS:
In appreciation for all of your support of Cruelty To Innocents & Collecting Innocents, we are introducing...

'THE AVENGING INNOCENTS FIRST KILL COMPETITION'
What we want from you-
--An original character with unique, quirky, or creepy characteristics
*this includes: name, skin, eye, and hair color, and any backstory that is specific to that character*

 --A great tagline for your character (good examles are '"I'll be back!"and "They're Here!")
Participants will need to submit their entries to me at ckwebb73@gmail.com OR via the 'contact' page on The Innocents website http://theinnocents.weebly.com/

 WHAT THE WINNER GETS:
  --Your character will replace our already-dead first kill, which is set up and carried out in chapter 1!!!
  --We will include your name and your winning character in our acknowledgements, on our dedication page.
 --Your character and their tag-line, will go in the synopsis for the book on the back cover!
So, that is all there is to it...
 
WINNING CHARACTER DIES FIRST!!!

Friday, January 18, 2013

PLEASE ENJOY THIS EXCERPT FROM OUR FRIENDS AT VIKING/PENGUIN BOOKS:


Reprinted by arrangement with Viking, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., from There Once Lived a Girl Who Seduced Her Sister’s Husband, and He Hanged Himself by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya, selected and translated by Anna Summers. Copyright © 2013 by Ludmilla Petrushevskaya. Translation and introduction copyright © 2013 by Anna Summers.


  This is what happened. An unmarried woman in her thirties implored her mother to leave their one-room apartment for one night so she could bring home a lover.
  This so-called lover bounced between two households, his mother’s and his wife’s, and he had an overripe daughter of fourteen to consider as well. About his work at the laboratory he constantly fretted. He would brag to anyone who listened about the imminent promotion that never materialized. The insatiable appetite he displayed at office parties, where he stuffed himself, was the result of an undiagnosed diabetes that enslaved him to thirst and hunger and lacquered him with pasty skin, thick glasses, and dandruff. A fat, balding man-child of forty-two with a dead-end job and ruined health—this was the treasure our unmarried thirtysomething brought to her apartment for a night of love.
  He approached the upcoming tryst matter-of-factly, almost like a business meeting, while she approached it from the black desperation of loneliness. She gave it the appearance of love or at least infatuation: reproaches and tears, pleadings to tell her that he loved her, to which he replied, “Yes, yes, I quite agree.” But despite her illusions she knew there was no romance in how they moved from the office to her apartment, picking up cake and wine at his request; how her hands shook when she was unlocking the door, terrified that her mother might have decided to stay.
  The woman put water on for tea, poured wine, and cut cake. Her lover, stuffed with cake, flopped himself across the armchair. He checked the time, then unfastened his watch and placed it on a chair. His underwear was white and clean. He sat down on the edge of the sofa, wiped his feet with his socks, and lay down on the fresh sheets. Afterward they chatted; he asked again what she thought of his chances for a promotion. He got up to leave. At the door, he turned back toward the cake and cut himself another large piece. He asked her to change a three-ruble bill but, receiving no reply, pecked her on the forehead and slammed the door behind him. She didn’t get up. Of course the affair was over for him. He wasn’t coming back—in his childishness he hadn’t understood even that much, skipping off happily, unaware of the catastrophe, taking his three rubles and his overstuffed belly.
  The next day she didn’t go to the cafeteria but ate lunch at her desk. She thought about the coming evening, when she’d have to face her mother and resume her old life. Suddenly she blurted out to her officemate: “Well, have you found a man yet?” The woman blushed miserably: “No, not yet.” Her husband had left her, and she’d been living alone with her shame and humiliation, never inviting any of her friends to her empty apartment. “How about you?” she asked. “Yes, I’m seeing someone,” the woman replied. Tears of joy welled up in her eyes.
  But she knew she was lost. From now on, she understood, she’d be chained to the pay phone, ringing her beloved at his mother’s, or his wife’s. To them she’d be known as that woman—the last in a series of female voices who had called the same numbers, looking for the same thing. She supposed he must have been loved by many women, all of whom he must have asked about his chances for promotion, then dumped. Her beloved was insensitive and crude—everything was clear in his case. There was nothing but pain in store for her, yet she cried with happiness and couldn’t stop.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012



A Southern Haunting

True Hauntings of the South

By: CK Webb



Tuscaloosa, Alabama



With the college football world, and of course my state, still buzzing over Alabama’s win in the BCS National Championship game, I couldn’t think of a more suiting place to explore for ghosts than Tuscaloosa, Alabama

The University Of Alabama

Situated in the heart of Tuscaloosa is the beautiful campus for the University of Alabama.




Established in 1831, the university catered to around 100 students at its inception. With the strain of the civil conflict looming and the inevitable coming of the Civil War, the university saw its share of conflict. Discipline and student behavior was a major issue at the university almost from the day it opened. Early presidents attempted to enforce very strict rules where conduct was concerned. Students were prohibited from drinking, swearing, making unauthorized visits off-campus, or playing musical instruments outside of a one-hour time frame. Even with all the rules, riots and gunfights were not an uncommon occurrence. To combat the severe discipline problem, President Landon Garland lobbied and received approval from the legislature in 1860 to transform the university into a military school. As such, many of the cadets who graduated from the school went on to serve as officers in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. As a result of that particular role, Union soldiers burned the college to the ground on April 4, 1865. Only four buildings survived the burning: the President's Mansion, Gorgas House, Little Round House, and Old Observatory. Though the campus was eventually restored to its former glory, ghostly happenings began to take shape, and the history of the university became ripe with, not only school spirit, but a few ‘ghostly spirits as well.

One of the more common ghost stories is that of a union soldier who was murdered while in the cadet guardhouse. The guardhouse, now known as Jason’s Shrine or The Little Round House, has had numerous reports from students and faculty who claim to have heard the young cadet wandering around in the room, only to have the sounds disappear upon their inspection.

Other ghostly reports include the feeling of being watched in the basement and a shadowy figure on the 13th floor of Tutwiler Hall. This ghost is said to be that of a female student who committed suicide by lighting herself on fire.

There are also claims of the sounds of horses and buggy, footsteps following behind, and even reports of people being touched by a hand that they cannot see. There have been voices heard and even desks scattered all around in the classrooms where a boiler exploded many years ago, killing several students.

The ‘Quad’ is also a hotbed of activity and many reports have noted seeing four confederate soldiers marching about, the sounds of cannon and gun fire and even voices shouting military style orders.



Denny Chimes on the Quad



I have seen these places first hand, and though I have never had any ‘ghostly’ experiences of my own while on campus, the long and rich history of the place makes it a prime area for residual and intelligent hauntings.

Old Bryce Mental Institute

Commonly called "Old Bryce", the institution was used for over one hundred years and is now in terrible decay. In the 1960’s it was shut down and almost everything was left behind. Today you can still locate old patient records, chairs, mattresses, wheel chairs and other medical medical equipment in the dilapidated building. Late at night, strange sounds can be heard such as footsteps when no one is there, and banging on the walls and metal structures. There are also several cemeteries that belonged to the hospital where many patients were laid to rest.



One of Bryce Cemetery Historical Markers

If you plan on going for a visit, it would be a good idea to get permission. The grounds and cemeteries are patrolled by security and Bryce is still considered ‘private property’.

The Drish Mansion

17th Avenue

Completed in the late 1830’s then transformed between 1860 and 1862 into a hybrid, bracketed Greek Revival Italianate Villa, the Drish Mansion is one the most unusual antebellum mansions around. After the Drish family sold the property, the mansion became a suburban focal point and was remodeled in 1887 and then surrounded by a traffic circle with wondrous views down each of the newly laid streets and avenues.

Dr. John Drish had originally constructed the home for his wife Sarah. When Dr. Drish died, Sarah burned candles in the upper room as he lay in state before his burial. After the funeral, Sarah put the candles away and requested that the same ones be used at her funeral. As Sarah grew older, it is said that she became obsessed with the candles being burned at her funeral and made friends swear to grant her last wish. But, after her death, friends and family were unable to locate the candles and Sarah’s last wish was never granted.

Shortly after her passing, the tower where Sarah had burned the candles for her husband spontaneously caught fire. But, when fire crews arrived, they were shocked to find no flames and no evidence of smoke or fire. The ‘ghost fire’, as it has come to be known, was reported several more times and many people wondered who or what could be causing the strange happenings. One night, after one of the fires was reported and then mysteriously vanished, the first ever sighting of the Sarah Drish ghost was documented.

Today the Drish Mansion is again in a serious state of disrepair and in need of a caretaker, but that has not stopped the reports of the ghostly figures and unexplainable fires. If you get close enough and look to the highest room in the tower, you can see the faint glowing reds and oranges of the ghostly flames flickering in the night.

With its long and vibrant history, the city of Tuscaloosa has some wonderful stories to tell. Though I have highlighted a few haunts from Tuscaloosa, by no means have I told all the tales that this college town has to offer. If you ever find yourself in Tuscaloosa, make sure you indulge yourself with some of the finest food in the South, visit the beautiful campus of The University of Alabama, stop into the Bryant Museum for a look at history and venture out into the lights, music and wine bars of the night scene. If you find yourself in Tuscaloosa and are searching for something on the darker side, take a detour to one of the fabulous places that I have told you about and test out your nerve.

That feeling of being watched or of that cold, unexplained breeze on the back of your neck may be just the thing you need to push Tuscaloosa, Alabama to the top of your favorite haunts list!

*Though I have highlighted several documented haunted sights from the city of Tuscaloosa, it is by no means all of them. Below is a list of a few more places that deserve recognition for their ghostly inhabitants and for the things there that go bump in the night.*



The Jemison-Van De Graff Mansion Tuscaloosa

The Jemison Center, Northport

Battle-Friedman House, Tuscaloosa

The University Club, Tuscaloosa

Maxwell Crossing, Tuscaloosa

The Amelia Gorgas Library and guard shack, Tuscaloosa

Monday, April 16, 2012

Vote for WEBBWEAVER REVIEWS in the INDEPENDENT BOOK BLOGGER AWARDS


Cast your vote for WEBBWEAVER REVIEWS in the Independent Book Blogger Awards

These awards highlight the amazing talent in book blogging today.

You may vote once in each of four categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Nonfiction, Young Adult and Children’s, and Publishing Industry. Voting closes Monday, April 23 at 11:59pm ET.


WEBBWEAVER REVIEWS http://bit.ly/HWQKW has been around for three years. In that time we have made a ton of wonderful friends, met some really great writers and picked up a few fans along the way. WebbWeaver is in the running for the Independent Book Blogger Awards on Goodreads and we would love to have your vote!! There will be 15 blogs chosen for the semi-finals, but only 4 blogs will win. The winners will receive airfare, hotel stay and passes to Book Expo America!!! Those of you, who know us well, know how badly we have wanted to attend events such as this one and that DJ and I would be incredibly humbled to get your votes. Thank you for being such fabulous family, friends, colleagues and fans… Win, lose, or draw we adore each and every one of you!!
You have to be a member of Goodreads

to vote, but registration is simple and quick!!!!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A SOUTHERN HAUNTING: True Hauntings of the South

There are a million reasons why someone might want to come to the south and a million things to do, see and experience while you are here. There are beautiful cities, rich, wonderful foods and historical buildings and sites that mark major turning points in the history of the United States, but NOTHING seems quite as intriguing as the South’s deep rooted love and connection with… ghost stories.
I have been asked dozens of questions about living in the south from the far-fetched (Do you have indoor plumbing?) To the truly absurd (Do you fry everything you eat?) In case you are curious, I do have indoor plumbing and don’t actually know anyone who still uses an outhouse. I don’t fry everything I cook, but if I could, I just might! The one question I have never been asked is, ‘Are there really that many haunted houses in the south?’ My answer to this would be a resounding… YES!!!
For the next several months I will be tackling as many of the local haunts as I can and delving deeply into their past to see just what we can uncover. For some of my visits I will be interviewing owners, curators and even those who believe they have seen a ghost in these famous or not so famous haunted places. I will also be sneaking out and trying to get a glimpse of these spectral beings and the properties they haunt and even snapping a photo or two to get you, the reader, a little closer to the south; a little closer to the place I call home.
I set out to find as many haunted houses or buildings as I could and then narrowed it down to the ones with documented sightings. These included any photos of full bodied apparitions or unexplained orbs, any EVP’s that were taken with clear disembodied voices and of course, any homes or buildings that are on the National Historic Registry and are open at any time for tours based on their individual hauntings. What I found was mind blowing. In Columbus, Mississippi (the town where I was raised) there are five documented cases of hauntings within private residents and ALL are available for tours in the early spring months and are registered as landmarks. My whole life I knew of only one, Waverly Mansion, and now I find four more have been there all along just under my nose.
I could write for days and never come close to a complete listing of every haunt that I was able to find just in Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia & Louisiana! So, I have decided to find the ones that I hold particularly near and dear in my heart and share them with you.
Just down the road from my current home in Alabama is a very famous haunt that boasts an extremely interesting story to go along with its very long history.
Pickens County courthouse is located in Carrolton, Alabama in Courthouse Square. Easily one of the more famous haunted buildings from this area, the courthouse has seen its share of Ghost Hunters and ghost investigations. With a little digging on the Internet you can come across a ton of information as well as some pretty incredible EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) that are available from the investigations that took place there.
The Pickens County Courthouse has a long history dating back to the early 1800’s, but it would be November 16, 1876 that would change the town and add a harrowing twist to the courthouse’s history. It was on this date that the Courthouse burned to the ground for the second time. The first burning had come at the hands of Union Army soldiers during the chaos of the American Civil War. Carrolton Courthouse was the pride of Pickens County during those years mostly because it had been rebuilt during the Reconstruction Era, a time when money and resources were scarce for all Americans. The locals became so outraged at the second burning of their beloved courthouse that they set out for some swift justice of their own. Although nothing was ever proven, the local people believed that a hooligan by the name of Henry Wells was the perpetrator of the heinous crime.
Henry Wells was never given the opportunity to plead his case in court… his would be a much more malevolent and infamous type of justice. As a black man during a very tumultuous time in our nation’s history, a time when racism was rampant, Henry Wells quickly became an easy target. He was accused of burning down the courthouse and was arrested two years later in 1878 and charged with arson, burglary, carrying a concealed weapon and assault with intent to murder. He was whisked away and taken to the brand new jailhouse located inside the newly re-constructed courthouse. When word of his whereabouts spread, an angry mob was assembled and made their way to the courthouse.
As the mob assembled at the base of the courthouse steps, Wells became afraid and (as the story goes) it was then that he began to shout: “I am innocent. If you kill me, I’m going to haunt you for the rest of your lives.” Just as they were about to break through the doors and drag Wells from the courthouse, lightning struck and Wells was killed instantly. What remained behind was a permanent imprint of Wells face etched into the windowpane in the room where he stood as he died that night.
No one in the town noticed the window until daylight broke and it was then, while walking past the courthouse steps, that locals looked up and saw the haunting image of Henry Wells looking down over Carrolton, Alabama.


That same piece of glass is still in the window to this day and no amount of washing, scraping or the passage of time can remove the stain.
If you go to the courthouse in Carrolton you will find an old historical marker which reads:



If you walk just a few yards from that sign you will find a magnifying viewer that points to a lone window on the courthouse and for twenty-five cents, you can get a close up look into the face of Henry Wells.

Just remember, if you are ever in these neck of the woods, be sure to bring your camera and maybe, just maybe you might get a glimpse of this Sothern Ghost.
By: CK Webb

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

WRITING A SERIES by: Kara Lennox

A BIG, HUGE thank you to Kara for taking the time out of her busy writing schedule to share a wonderful post on writing a series. You can pick up a copy of Kara's book TODAY and you can also leave any comments or questions you have for her at the bottom of her post.



There’s no doubt readers love connected books. They become invested in a certain world and eagerly await each new installment. It’s fun to revisit the heroes and heroines of former books, like spending time with old friends, and to anticipate the romances between characters you know you’ll see starring in future books.

But writing a connected series is harder than it looks. It takes more than simply moving characters from one story to another. You have to plan, from the very beginning, where the series is going, and you have to plot at least three books ahead so that you can set up the stories you want to tell in future books. For example, you can introduce the hero and heroine for Book Two in Book One as secondary characters and show how sparks fly between them so readers are anxious to pick up that next book. Or, you can set up a mystery that carries over several books.

You also have to keep track of all the people, their ages and descriptions, the locations, and you have to establish a time line so if a character is pregnant in Book #2, you know how old the baby is in Book #5. You think you’ll remember, but you won’t. If you don’t keep track of the details, they’ll come back to bite you. I have the floor of an office building lobby as marble in one book, and wood in another. Dang it! (Now I keep a detailed “series bible” with descriptions of characters and settings, time lines, etc.)

Before I started Project Justice, my ongoing romantic suspense series for Harlequin Super Romance, I’d written several trilogies. I at first envisioned Project Justice as stopping at three books. So I created three heroes and three heroines, setting up a mystery that would carry over for all three books, and planting hints in Book One for the romance in Book Two, etc.

Then, after all three books were turned in, my editor said she wanted three more in the series.

I was jumping up and down with excitement … at first. This was the first time any editor had wanted more of a series from me. But then I realized that I hadn’t set up anyone else to star in their own books. I had to hustle up some heroes and heroines from the existing cast of characters to populate the new trilogy.

Book #4, which is the one that came out this month, Outside the Law, wasn’t so hard. I already had introduced an evidence analyst from the lab in previous books and hinted that she might have the hots for a Cajun computer hacker, so it seemed natural to give them their own story. For Book #5, I still had Billy Cantu in my back pocket. He was one of the Project Justice investigators mentioned in passing in the earlier books. So I gave him a larger role in Book #4, and a starring role in the next book. I paired him with another minor character, a consulting psychologist who had appeared only in one scene, in the first book.

But, Book #6 had me stumped. Who was left?

Then, inspiration struck. The billionaire hero of Book #3 had a personal assistant, Jillian, who had appeared in every book. The problem was … she was a bit of a pill. She tried to break up her boss’s romance, and at one point she was even suspected of trying to kill someone. But I liked her; she was flawed, but real and fully formed in my mind. I just had to find a way to make her sympathetic and show that she was remorseful for her less-than-heroic behavior.

I did it by revealing that she’d been an overweight, homely teenager who had suffered a major humiliation at the hands of her high school crush. Then I made that crush her new boss. I also made it clear that she was trying to repair her reputation by working hard and being a good employee, despite the fact no one trusted her.

Finally, I gave her an admirer. Cranky Celeste, the septuagenarian office manager who seldom has a kind word for anyone, sees something of herself in plucky Jillian and takes the young woman under her wing. (The hero of this book, Hidden Agenda, is an entirely new character. It will be available in July.)

Now, my editor wants more Project Justice books. Having learned my lesson, I tried my best to set up characters for future books. I have at least one couple’s story worked out, but books #8 and #9 are going to tax me. I’m in awe of the authors who plot out a dozen books from the very beginning. It’s like playing chess, thinking ahead several moves, and I never was very good at chess. With each new book, the world gets more complex, the cast grows larger. More and more balls in the air to juggle

Still, I’ve had more fun writing these books (and more aggravation!) than any I’ve previously written. I’m looking forward to expanding the series indefinitely.

Kara Lennox

Monday, March 5, 2012

Blog Tour Stop March 13, 2012

Please don't miss the Blog Tour on Twisted Webb March 13, 2012. We will have a wonderful post by Kara about writing a series, as well as a glimpse at her upcoming novel from Harlequin!!


Kara Lennox, a.k.a. Karen Leabo, is the award-winning, bestselling author of more than sixty novels of romance and romantic suspense for Harlequin and Random House. Currently she is working on the next installment of her romantic suspense series, Project Justice, published by Harlequin Super Romance. Also, several of her classic Bantam Loveswept novels (writing as Karen Leabo) are soon to be re-released in e-book form by Random House. Her novels have finaled in several contests including the Rita, the Reader’s Choice award and the Holt Medallion. Romantic Times awarded her a Reviewers Choice Award.


Prior to writing romance, Karen was a freelance writer with hundreds of magazine articles published, as well as brochures, press releases, advertisements and business plans. Her former clients include Working Woman Magazine, Hallmark Cards and Marion Merrill Dow.

Karen has written ten screenplays, three of which have been optioned by Hollywood, New York and overseas producers. She lives with her writer/publisher husband and several pets in a shabby-chic (heavy on the shabby) Victorian fixer-upper in Southern California. When not writing or sanding floors, she loves bicycling, bird-watching, hunting for flea-market treasures, painting and making mosaics.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Magic, Monsters & Mythical Creatures: WIZARDS

We have talked of witches, dragons, Leviathan and the Basilisk, but this series would be incomplete if we did not delve into the mystery of…




 
WIZARDS

In the beginning of the days when magic took the forefront of the human psyche, there were two types of common spell casters. There were priests, who gained their powers from their deity or gods, and there were sorcerers, who worked their magic without any divine assistance, using sheer talent alone. Wizards, who required neither divine assistance nor talent, but seemed to be born with their powers, came later on.

The origins of a wizard’s talents are not clear, but every culture has its own explanations which add to the ever growing legend. The most popular explanation is that the person in question has either a deity or a demon in their family bloodline. Some cultures think the talent comes from having draconic blood, while others believe that sorcerers are the descendants of great heroes who took their magic from other races, typically dwarfs, either by force or with trickery. There are even some cultures who believe that wizards are given their power as a sign of favor from one of the elemental lords.

The origins of wizardry itself are a bit more solid and can be traced back to ancient cities where the Gilded League now holds sway. It is there that the first wizards began to study the magical arts and learn to cast, rather than simply wield the power they had. Nobody is quite certain who the first wizard was or how he learned his craft, but some legends tells us he learned by sneaking into a god's workshop and spying on him as he practiced his powerful spells. The legend tells us the wizard sought to learn the secret to working magic the way the gods did without being dependent on a talent as the sorcerers were. Dwarfs and elves however, claim a different origin for their wizards. The dwarfs claim wizardry developed as a natural extension of their skills as craftsmen, while elves claim their wizards were taught by gods.

The first recorded wizards appeared thousands of years ago in prosperous cities. Theirs was an art involving conjuring and summonings that had been adapted from the rites of evil clerics. They called on demons, devils, and other hideous beings and then made dark pacts with them in their search for knowledge and power. Death and madness were the ultimate risks for wizards and all those who kept company with them. More often than not, the biggest danger that wizards faced came from their fellow wizards who were always seeking to further their craft. Defeating another wizard and stealing his knowledge was the easiest way to learn and far less dangerous than dealing with the foul creatures that bubbled up from the belly of Hell itself.

As a result, magic became a secretive profession with all knowledge jealously guarded and only taught to the rare apprentice. Though a few were rich men who paid exorbitant sums for a chance at great power, all too often such apprentices were only clever youths taught just enough to be of use in the lab who supplemented that education with whatever scraps of knowledge they could filch on their own. The latter were often never intended to be anything other than menial helpers and only managed to learn enough to become a wizard in their own right. Because of this, most wizards were only half trained and possessed incomplete knowledge with the predictable dangers associated with it.

Even with such terrible risks and such jealously guarded knowledge, wizardry spread. Every culture has people who will do anything for power and they sought out wizards for training. Thus, over the centuries and millennium, the wizard's art spread throughout the world.

Merlin is a legendary figure best known as the wizard featured in the legends of Arthur. The character first appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth's Historia Regum Britanniae, written in 1136. The writer claims to have gleaned all his information from historical documents and scrolls that track the life of this mysterious and well known wizard. The stories of Merlin have survived decades of time and each new generation places its’ own unique spin on the ages old tale. The newest Arthurian tale with a Merlin twist is HBO’s original series, Camelot. In it we see a more conniving, plotting Merlin who is actually afraid to use his powers because he cannot control them. When he does use them, they suck the very life from his body.

Another wizard that is famous from the literary world is Gandalf. He first appeared in 1937 in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Gandalf was first introduced as Gandalf The Grey and reintroduced later as Gandalf The White when he was brought back from the abyss of death. Other Tolkien books featured this well-known wizard and followed the hobbit’s journey into the very fires of Mordor. The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King all carried Gandalf as a central character. The books were later adapted to film and directed by Peter Jackson in 2001. Receiving 13 Academy nominations, The Fellowship of the Ring took home four Academy Awards and is, to this day, the 19th highest grossing film of all time. The Two Towers and The Return of the King would also be adapted to film and become classics from our time and see their fair share of Academy nominations and wins. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is the highest grossing film trilogy of all time and brought in a whopping $2.91 billion dollars worldwide.

I would step on a few toes if I failed to mention some more famous wizards from our time… The wizards of The Harry Potter series. In the series written by J.K. Rowling, we meet Harry Potter, an ordinary boy with extraordinary powers. As the series progresses, we watch Harry hone his skills as a wizard. In the meantime, we are introduced to a whole cast of wizards including Professor Dumbledore and Professor Snape. Though the series is considered a young adult series, there are some extremely dark elements to the book and some of the wizards within its pages. As the series progresses, it becomes more and more harrowing as wizards began to kill other wizards in an attempt to be more powerful.

Through books and film we have discovered magic, monsters and mythical creatures. Though many of these things are fiction they still hold a very real place in our hearts and minds. They allow us to see possibilities we could not see before and they allow us to dream. We can dive into a fictional world filled with wizards, witches, dragons, Leviathan and the Basilisk and we can, for a short while, believe. Though these magical, mythical beings may not exist in our world, there is a wonderful place where we can go to find them all. It is a world filled with pages from great writers and the stories they have told, with films that we have fallen in love with, and full of dreams that can only exist in the most magical of places…

It is our imagination, and with it there are no boundaries and magic IS real.

CK Webb 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Magic, Monsters and Mythical Creatures


The Basilisk and Leviathan

Sometimes magic, monsters and myth collide. The end result is something far more elusive and harrowing than we care to believe. Whether they are fiction or real, the Basilisk and Leviathan are creatures that will not be denied their rightful place in our worlds. Ever present not only in literature, but in film as well, they have woven themselves into the very fabric of some cultures and are truly the stuff that nightmares are made of. Though similar in some ways, their traits vary considerably and give each creature its own unique flair and its very own killing style.

In some European legends, a Basilisk is a legendary reptile reputed to be king of serpents due to the crown-shaped crest upon its head. Alleged to be hatched by a cockerel from the egg of a serpent or toad, the Basilisk is rumored to cause death to anyone who locks eyes with the beast. One of the earliest accounts of the Basilisk comes from Pliny the Elder's Natural History, written in 79 AD. In it, he describes a monstrous, cow-like creature of which "all who behold its eyes fall dead upon the spot”. It is also believed that the venom of the Basilisk is so destructive that the creature leaves behind a burnt and scorched earth as it slithers across the landscape.

Many writers have been seduced by this legendary monster and brought forth their own ideas and slight variations of the beast. Geoffrey Chaucer featured a ‘Basilicok’ in his famous Canterbury Tales. He made use of the legend which states that basilisks can be killed by hearing the crow of a rooster or gazing at itself through a mirror. Chaucer would incorporate one of these killing methods in the legend of the basilisk of Warsaw. This tale would see the Basilisk killed by a man carrying a set of mirrors.

More and more stories added to the enormity of the Basilisk’s reputation and gradually added to the Basilisk's killing powers as well. Some began to describe it as a large beast capable of breathing fire and killing with only the sound of its voice. Some writers would even claim that the Basilisk could kill by touch and could even kill by touching something that a poor soul was touching. So, a sword held in the hand of a great warrior would yield almost certain death the very moment the hero struck the killing blow into the creature. All of this death came from a beast that would become the guardian and traditional symbol of strength for the city of Basel in Switzerland.

Many other writers would toy with the idea of this mythical monster and introduce it to millions of readers in the process. William Shakespeare, Samuel Richardson, Alexander Pope, Voltaire and even Charles Dickens dipped their quills into the world of this mythical monster and referenced it and its killing power in their work. Of course, the most famous telling of a Basilisk tale today is most likely J.K. Rowlings’ Harry Potter and The Chamber of Secrets. In this novel, the Basilisk, an enormous, snake-like creature with monstrous fangs almost kills Harry with its deadly venom, but he is saved by the tears of a phoenix.

Artists would also put forth their renditions of the Basilisk. Leonardo da Vinci included a Basilisk in his Bestiary. He describes it as so utterly cruel that when it cannot kill animals or humans by its baleful gaze, it turns upon the earth and withers everything in its path.

Unlike the Basilisk, Leviathan is widely claimed as a sea creature. In demonology, Leviathan is hailed as one of the seven princes of Hell and known as its gatekeeper.

Mentioned several times throughout biblical text, Leviathan finds its history deeply rooted in the traditions of Near Eastern Mythology and dates back as far as the 3rd Century BC.

In the Canaanite myth, ‘Liviathan’ was considered an interpretation of the chaos that spilled forth at the beginning of the Universe’s creation. From this chaos, a seven headed, fire-breathing crocodile-like dragon was formed. He lurked in the depths of the sea and waited for an opportune moment so he could rise up and steal away unsuspecting victims. A great warrior named Anat fought Leviathan and bound him in chains, bringing order to the universe. Though the tale ended there, it is believed that Leviathan is not dead, but simply waiting for the day when he will again rise up from the depths and destroy us all.

Beliefs about Leviathan and its origins vary greatly from one culture and religious background to another. If you are a Christian, Leviathan is a bringer of death sent forth by Satin himself. On the other hand, according to Anton Szandor LaVey, the author of The Satanic Bible, Leviathan represents the element of Water. The element of Water in Satanism is associated with life and creation. In The Satanic Bible, Leviathan is known as one of the Four Crown Princes of Hell.

We see two different takes on a mythical monster that looks the same to both groups and yet, is so very different in its intentions.

Other variations of this monstrous creature would show up in great literary works and the name Leviathan would become synonymous with any large creature living in the ocean. One in particular would become an instant classic and introduce us to a new spin on the Leviathan tale.

In 1851 American author Herman Melville published his novel, Moby Dick. The story tells the adventures of a wandering sailor named Ishmael and his voyage with Captain Ahab. The captain has but one purpose, to seek out a specific whale: Moby Dick. The whale is described as a ferocious and elusive white sperm whale that, in a previous encounter, destroyed Ahab's boat and bit off his leg. Ahab becomes consumed with bitter anger and longs to seek his revenge by killing the beast.

Leviathan would also gather some film credits when in 1989 a movie of the same name was released. Often compared to Alien and The Thing, Leviathan’s storyline focused on underwater deep-sea miners. After finding some Soviet wreckage, the crew brings back deadly cargo to their base on the ocean floor with horrifying results. The crew must then fight to survive against a genetic mutation as they are hunted down and killed one by one by LEVIATHAN!

Though their similarities are unmistakable, the tales behind the Basilisk and Leviathan could not be farther apart. Whether you are a fan of the classic tales or have only recently been introduce through Harry Potter, chances are you will not soon forget these monstrous and mythical creatures. Steeped in magical folklore and transported through time by literature, paintings and film, the Basilisk and Leviathan will surely be with us for hundreds maybe even thousands of years. I cannot tell you whether these creatures exist or if they are merely a figment of a most active imagination. The question still remains: Are they magic, monsters or mythical creatures… only you can decide.
CK Webb for Suspense Magazine

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

MAGIC, MONSTERS & MYTHICAL CREATURES




As summers’ long, lazy days come slowly to an end and autumn begins to push into its place, we find ourselves on a brand new journey of discovery. This journey will take us from witches to warlocks, from devils to demons, from elves to fairies and everything in between. So, light the candles and pull up a seat as I welcome you to the world of…



WITCHES & WITCHCRAFT
Throughout the ages, many different eras have come and gone in mankind’s history. Some are rumors, whispered in dark rooms and rarely spoken of in the daylight hours. But others twisted our history and our psyche as they left huge black marks on our past.
Witchcraft, in history, has been defined as the use of mythological, religious, supernatural or magical powers. Naturally, anyone who practices witchcraft is labeled a witch and oftentimes, with harrowing consequences.
It was often believed, in many cultures, that witches were in league with the Devil himself and only used their powers for evil or to bring harm to others. Today, there are many thoughts on witches & witchcraft, but more often than not, they are viewed simply as good or bad. It was not always this way.
In the early fourteenth and fifteenth centuries in Europe, witchcraft was brought to the attention of those in positions of power within the churches and towns. So began the infamous witch-hunts, where an estimated forty to one hundred thousand men and women were accused of witchcraft and subsequently executed for their deemed roles as cohorts of Satan. They suffered horrible deaths by hanging, burning or even drowning and many were most likely, innocent of their accused crimes.
Europe was not the only place where witchcraft was condemned and, in what has become widely known throughout the world, Massachusetts would leave a dark stain on our nation’s history, forever.
In 1645 in Springfield, Massachusetts, the very first accusations of witchcraft were brought forth by a husband and wife. While each accused the other of evil dealings with the Devil, the husband was later found innocent while the wife was, at first, acquitted then subsequently convicted of murdering her child and sentenced to hang. She did not make it to the noose and died while imprisoned. What began as a domestic squabble, quickly spun out of control and within the next eighteen years, eighty people would find themselves accused of witchcraft. Thirteen women and two men met with an untimely demise during those years and each were executed for their presumed roles as witches.
In what would later become the most widely known witch-hunts in history and would be the inspiration for many books and films, the Salem Witch Trials took place from February 1692 through May of 1693. The Salem witch trials were a series of hearings held before the local magistrate in Essex, Suffolk and Middlesex Counties in colonial Massachusetts. Over one hundred fifty people were arrested and imprisoned for witchcraft. The two courts convicted twenty-nine people of witchcraft, which was considered a capitol felony, nineteen of which, were hanged. One man who refused to enter a guilty plea was crushed to death beneath giant stones in an attempt to coax a confession from him. At least five others, who were accused, but never convicted, died while imprisoned.
Though known in history as the "Salem" witch trials, the hearings took place in several towns including Salem Village, Ipswich, Andover and Salem Town, Massachusetts. The best-known trials were conducted by the Court of Oyer and Terminer in 1692 in Salem Town. Twenty-six people went to trial before this court…
All were convicted.
The same town where witchcraft was once met with disdain now makes a mean business of witches and the art of witchcraft. Salem, Massachusetts’ tourism is the backbone of their economy and many visitors come to get a look at the town where witches who were once hung are now celebrated. You can visit famous places where witches were hanged, take a haunted tour at Halloween and even take home a witchy souvenir or two.

The focus on witchcraft died down after the trials, but some writers would see to it that no one ever forgot. In 1953 American playwright Arthur Miller wrote his dramatization of the Salem witch trials, The Crucible. The play was made into a movie of the same name many years later and starred Winona Ryder & Daniel Day-Lewis. It is also the basis for study throughout many of our school systems and today, considered a classic. The Witches is a children's book by Roald Dahl and it was first published in London in 1983. With beautiful illustrations and a ton of controversy to go with it, it remains one of the greatest witch books ever written and can be found in most libraries.
There would be a TV show that would emerge in the 1960’s with a fresh new take on the witch. Bewitched, starred Elizabeth Montgomery as an average wife with some above average talents and with just a wiggle of her nose, she gave America a new outlook on witches. Other TV shows would later follow in the footsteps of Bewitched by offering a more positive take on the dark subject of witches. Charmed debuted in 1998 and featured the four, fictional Halliwell sisters—Prue, Piper, Phoebe and Paige. Known as The Charmed Ones in the magical community, they were from the most powerful line of good witches in history and sent to protect innocent lives against evil beings, such as demons and warlocks. Each sister possessed her own unique magical power that she tried, often without success, to keep hidden from the world, while living a somehow normal life in San Francisco. The series was a huge hit and ran for many seasons. It is still in syndication today.
Two unknowns would ignite the world’s fascination with witches when they introduced their debut young adult novel in 2009. Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl made a huge splash in the literary world with their novel Beautiful Creatures. Billed as one of the best debuts of 2009, the book was followed up by a second book in the series, Beautiful Darkness, the following year. The next book in this franchise, Beautiful Chaos, will be released in October of this year. Not only did the books gain worldwide recognition from readers, but also grabbed Hollywood’s attention and has been optioned by Warner Brothers as a major motion picture! That is a far cry from the Salem Witch Trials.
A recent movie release that would bring a little of the darkness back to the witch is 2011’s Beastly. In it, a boy is cursed by a modern day witch, played by Mary-Kate Olsen. He is given one year to change the person he has become on the inside & find someone to love him for who he is or spend the rest of his life severely scarred and tattooed from head to toe.
Witches and witchcraft have come a very long way from the days of witch-hunts and mass executions. From Bugs Bunny’s fantastic Witch Hazel with her broom stick and flying hair pins that we loved as kids, to the unusual loveliness of Lena in Beautiful Creatures, witches have fascinated us for many years been a huge part of our history as a people.
Witches are no longer the hideous hags we believed them to be as children. There is no wart on their long, bulbous nose to give them away or a cackle in their voice that spells certain doom. Witches are all around us, but often hidden from our view. They could be your neighbor or the girl down at the super market or even the writer who weaves those wicked tales you love to read. So, whatever you do, watch what you say and how you treat those strangers you pass on the street or risk hearing the dreading words…
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble!!!

CK Webb

Monday, October 10, 2011

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT:

MARK P. SADLER



Sadler’s humble beginnings started in a small caravan in his grandmother’s garden in Post War Britain, May 1956.

Life started in the little nursing home in Dudley, and moved to a caravan in his grandparents back garden, until his aunt and her new husband moved out of the big house. For the next three years the new family inhabited the upstairs of the house on the hill in Woodsetton. Young Sadler quickly learned the joy of discovery through books as his mother, a pre-school teacher, read countless stories to him. He was reading at a level two years ahead of his age by the time he entered school and won his first reading prize in his beginning year at St. Nicholas’ Primary in Codsall, Staffordshire.

The family had by this time moved to the country, living in a small bungalow in Codsall Wood. By the time he graduated from Codsall Comprehensive in 1974 a future in writing seemed to be taking a clear path. The following year Sadler immigrated to the States on a student visa to attend Ambassador College Big Sandy Texas and participated in journalism and speech classes, intent on becoming the next big television news anchor.

As is often the case life got in the way. After hitchhiking from Dallas to Los Angeles a random blind date turned into a serious commitment, and just four months later, a blushing bride with a blooming belly, led him to Oklahoma City. With a family to care for Sadler went about his way over the next seven years trying to find a way to support what had now become two boys and a wife unable to work through illness. Writing took a back seat.

From the factory floors of Robberson Steel to the sales floor at Intempo Wood Factory, from employment counselor to debt collector, he finally found a permanent position at Retail Merchants Collection Service. Debt collections led to career that has now spanned over thirty years and has remained the one constant in his soap opera of a life. There were times, as the boys became teenagers that the opportunity came to write.

One day in 1980, picking up a copy of a new publication, OKC Sports Fan Forum, he noticed that there was no soccer mentioned, typical of just about any publication in Oklahoma that was so entrenched in football, basketball and baseball. When he called to complain to the editors he was offered the opportunity to write an editorial column covering the progression of soccer in Oklahoma as America faced the hosting of the World Cup.

When 2007 rolled around it found Sadler remarried and living in Tucson, having moved there in 1993. His two boys were now young men with children of their own, and a third son from his third marriage starting high school. With a little extra time on his hands he once again took up the skills that had engrained themselves in him during high school, and took on the task that he knew one day he would succeed in; it was time to write a book.

Inspiration hit, as it tends to do, at one in the morning. Armed with bludgeoning thoughts he turned on the computer and let the words flow. Several months later he enrolled in a class at Pima Community College and under the tutorial of Meg Files learned how to control the form of the words until Blood on His Hands was born.

The search for an agent for a new unpublished author proved daunting, nay impossible, and so along with one in every three books written this year Sadler decided to self-publish. Seeking the services of print on demand publisher Infinity Publishing the project went ahead. The novel should be available for ordering by early May 2009.

Sadler lives with his wife in Tucson, where he is working on his next novel. He is a contributor for Suspense Magazine. You can learn more about Mark by visiting his website at http://marksadler.com/



You can prchase Mark's book, Blood On His Hands, by clicking the book cover.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Things That Come Out At Night







WereWolves

“Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night, may become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms, and the autumn moon is bright.” Wolfman ~1941

No matter your age or where you are from, chances are, at some point you were frightened by a creature that comes out at night. Some had fangs and drank blood, others were walking corpses that feasted on the brains of the living, but some looked no different than you and I. They could roam the world as everyday humans and go unnoticed until...the next full moon would find them sprouting thick coats of fur and preying on the throats of unsuspecting travelers in the night. Some werewolves were even graced with the ability to transform at will, making them an even more frightening creature of the night.


The very first werewolf movie that I cut my teeth on as a child was An American Werewolf In London. Even today, it is the standard by which I judge all werewolf books or movies. I was 8 years old and it was absolutely brilliant. Considering the date and the technology available then, it is still one of the greatest transformation scenes I have ever watched and very few can hold a candle to it.


Werewolves hold a unique place in our hearts and minds, but where did this concept of half man, half wolf emerge from and how has it changed throughout the years? Let us quickly find out before the full moon's glow shines brightly and some of us are no longer the same.
As children our first taste of werewolves probably came from the childhood fairytale Little Red Riding Hood, but in history, werewolf folklore dates back thousands of years. In 8 A.D., Ovid wrote the Latin narrative poem Metamorphosis which follows a man cursed to roam the earth as a werewolf because of the heinous crimes he has committed against a child. Other great poets of the same era would dip into the werewolf tale. Virgil, Pliny The Elder and Gaius Petronius Arbiter, were just a few. Some of Arbiter's works on the subject date back as far as 60 B.C.


The origins of the werewolf tale stem from a primitive time when forests covered most of the landscape and animals were quick to steal a bite to eat from the sparse populations of humans that inhabited their lands. Europeans were some who turned terror and misunderstanding into legend and are credited with some of the very first werewolf tales.


In a time where medicine was confined to medicinal herbs, hocus pocus remedies and cures, mental illness was not something that anyone had ever heard of. As such, a person who was suffering from lycanthropy was not mentally unstable and in need of medication, sedation and observation, but was someone who was indeed cursed to be a werewolf and needed to be exterminated in order to save their soul. Sounds crazy to us, but to those living in these wilderness times when humanity was just finding its way, it made perfect sense. Today we understand lycanthropy to be the mental illness associated with schizophrenia where a person becomes convinced they are or have already, transformed into various animals, including wolves.


In European folklore it was said that even in human form, signs existed to distinguish a werewolf from other humans. If you had curved fingernails or low set ears, you could easily have been mistaken for a werewolf. For those poor folks who had the misfortune of having eyebrows that grew together, in a time before tweezers had been invented, they too were thought to be werewolves.


The means by which a person could be become a werewolf, were almost as plentiful as the stories themselves. A person could be bitten or scratched by a werewolf, the most popular means, but there are some more obscure methods that are a lot more fun. There was rubbing your body with magic salve, drinking from an enchanted stream and even sleeping under the full moon on a Wednesday or Friday with the moon's glow shining on your face. My personal favorite has to be, drinking rainwater from the footprints of the beasts that were found in the forest!
As the years passed and we, as humans, became more sophisticated & educated, our take on werewolves changed drastically, but our desire to carry their tale with us through history did not.


Literature has adapted a plethora of these iconic tales into short stories, novels and later on, into the movies we have grown to love over the years. The nineteenth century would see a host of very famous writers tackle the werewolf story from the likes of G.W.M. Reynolds, Sutherland Menzies and even Alexander Dumas.


The twentieth century would usher in the true emergence of the werewolf as a staple in horror fiction and an explosion of stories and movies based on the tale would come blazing onto the scene. In 1933, American author Guy Endore wrote The Werewolf of Paris which has since come to be known as the Dracula of werewolf literature.


The very first feature film to use the werewolf premise was Werewolf of London in 1935. It would however be Lon Cheney Jr.'s portrayal of the tragic character Larry Talbot in 1941's The Wolf Man that would set the standard for all movies in the genre. The movie catapulted werewolves into the public eye and from this one film two very crucial werewolf staples were established...werewolves always kill those they love the most and they can be quickly dispatched from this world by a silver bullet.


Other movies and books would come along and werewolves would be further rooted into the horror genre until the introduction of the paranormal romance and young adult books that embrace the these creatures.


J.K. Rowlings gave a new take to werewolves in her Harry Potter series in which she creates them as dangerous, but also as misunderstood and widely discriminated against. Other authors in the young adult genre would give new life to werewolves with books such as Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, Dark Guardian by Rachel Hawthorne and Night Shade by Andrea Cremer.
Movies have been plentiful and werewolves have graced the big screen hundreds of times. From feature length cartoons like 2005's Wallace And Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit, to the 2010 remake of the classic The Wolf Man and even the new adaptation of the childhood tale in 2011's Red Riding Hood, werewolves have found for themselves, a home within our books, our films and our minds.


Even music has grabbed up a portion of this iconic creature that comes out in the night with songs like Monster by Skillet, Wolf Moon by Type O Negative and Of Wolf And Man by Metallica. These are barely scraping the barrel. You can literally find dozens of songs about werewolves and some you may never have even suspected were about them.


Though werewolves have a deeply rooted place in the media of our world, one thing has not changed much in the thousands of years since the very first tales were told. Werewolves were then and are almost always now, portrayed in a negative light. They are the thing to fear, they are the curse from which no one can ever return and they are the stuff of nightmares. I am happy to have them there in our songs, in our books and films in our very history. The alternative is, they walk amongst us, beside us and they are there waiting... waiting for the lights to go out, waiting for that next full moon, wanting to show us what really comes out in the night.


CK Webb

Friday, September 16, 2011

CONGRATULATIONS!!

A big congrats to Lisa Faye Coombs & Nona Matherne on winning a copy of Jim Bernheimer's book, CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPER VILLAIN!! Lisa will receive a signed copy of Jim's book and Nona will receive an e-copy of the book. Thank you ladies for being loyal readers of Twisted Webb & WebbWeaver. Please use the contact page to send me your addresses and e-mails. Enjoy your books!!

CK

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Guest Post & Signed Book Giveaway from Jim Bernheimer

The Necessary Evils of Marketing

It has probably been said before, but if not, I’ll say it. The beauty and the curse of being a small press or independent writer (Indy) is that you are responsible for making everything happen. That includes all the nuts and bolts of getting the book into publication, which is to be expected. Heck, portions of that can even be fun like cover selection (editing not so much), but then the author is hit with a nasty little shock - they have to successfully market their new shiny novel.
This isn’t Field of Dreams. Just writing a novel is no guarantee that “They will come.” It takes a lot of hard work that has absolutely nothing to do with writing a good story.
The first thing I recommend is to see what successful independent authors in your genre are doing and make a list. I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Some things I do won’t do squat for a romance or humor author, so examine the people in your genre and decide what person’s career you’d like to emulate.
Once you’ve come up with a list of possible strategies, you now have to face the likelihood that you won’t be able to do all of these things. You can look no further than the numerous social media choices available to connect with your potential readers like Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, MySpace, Kindleboards, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and all the review blogs out there. It’s an endless buffet and you’ve only got so much room in your stomach.
Yes, just because you can go make a video trailer for your book doesn’t mean you should. This is just an example and I’m not slamming book trailers, but I haven’t seen any real evidence that they sell more books than a good description will. In my case, I don’t see the ROI (Return on Investment) because most of my sales come from Amazon and as an “Indy,” I haven’t come across a way to get a video trailer up without paying a large fee to their Createspace business unit. Yes, you can put it on your Author Central page, but the reality is only a small percentage of people who arrive on your book’s page will click over to your author page. It makes a nice addition to your website or blog, but now you need a reason for a person to come to your website or blog, and that goes back to making a large investment of time and effort into hosting a successful blog. As with all my advice, your mileage may vary, but the time spent creating that video trailer is time you could have been writing or blogging.
In my own case, I have a wife, two feisty daughters, and a full time job to occupy most of my waking hours. This limits the amount of time that I can spend on the computer for both writing and marketing. So, I pick and choose where I maintain an online presence, because doing three things well is better than doing a dozen things poorly. There is something to be said about not biting off more than you can chew!
Generally, I stick to Facebook, my webpage (www.jimbernheimer.com), my Amazon Author Page, and make an occasional appearance on Kindleboards. Give readers a place where they can contact you, but you don’t have to scramble like a crazy person trying to be everywhere at once. Take a deep breath and remember that this is supposed to be fun. If it’s not fun, try and figure out why it isn’t and fix it.
Guest blogging, reviews, and sponsoring giveaways are my bread and butter when it comes to marketing. Many authors also run their own blog. I haven’t gone that route because (once again), I don’t think I could add another ball to my juggling routine and do it properly. Instead, I spend my time contacting all the folks who have taken the route of posting regular content and attracting followers. For me this makes the most sense. Guest posting introduces my novels to this blogs followers and maybe a few are intrigued enough to give one of my books a try. The nice folks who run the book review blogs know that content is king and more interesting content keeps the readers coming back for more. Having authors come in and do guest posts is a mutually beneficial relationship for the author and the book blogger.
With the advent of “Blog Tours,” it seems lots of other authors and the publishing houses as well have figured it out too, but keep in mind that being late to the party still means you’re at the party, so don’t get discouraged if this blog turns you down because they have a large to be read pile. When deciding whether or not to contact a blog, look at how often they update. The quantity and quality of their postings will tell you a whole bunch about the person or persons you are dealing with. I rank it just as important as the number of followers/networked blogs a review site has.
One big thing to remember, the majority of book bloggers are doing it because they love reading. They are volunteering their time. Things do come up in their lives that may interfere with reviewing your novel. One of the mistakes I made about six months ago was contacting a blog and accepting an offer to do giveaways for three of my novels. I sent them two copies of each book for a grand total of six, which ended up being about seventy-five dollars after shipping and handling. You can probably already see where this is going, but yeah, none of my books have been reviewed or given away.
Lesson learned - wait for the review and then coordinate the giveaway.
In conclusion, I’d like to thank CK and DJ for having me and offer encouragement to any author out there trying to get his or her stories published. If you don’t know where to start when it comes to marketing, I say, “Keep it simple,” and find things you can do and do them to the best of your abilities. Jim

Jim has graciously agreed to give away a signed copy of his book to one US resident and an e-copy to one international winner!!! For an opportunty to win a copy of CONFESSIONS OF A D-LIST SUPER VILLAIN please leave a comment below or at WebbWeaver Reviews http://bit.ly/HWQKW and the winner will be chosen from those entries!! Best of luck folks.