Monday, October 09, 2017

Baby Steps for New Authors by Guest Blogger and Author, Emerian Rich

Emerian Rich, author of Dusk's Warriors

Baby Steps for New Authors

I’ve spoken to hundreds of authors over the years... new, old, mid-career, famous, struggling, you name it. One thing we all have in common is that we were all once where you are. We know how it feels to submit your first work and wait with high hopes by the mailbox (or email inbox) for that special editor’s reply. We know about declines and how sometimes they seem so crippling, you don’t even want to continue. The other link that many new writers have is they are timid and shy about their careers and marketing the “way the pros do it”. Well here are some Baby Steps to get you started.

1. Convince yourself you are an important writer and have something valid to say. Once you’ve accepted your fate as a writer and know you have no choice but to follow your dreams, it will be easier to chip away at making those dreams a reality.

2. Start a List. Lists are your best friend for brainstorming promotion ideas. Carry a little notebook with you to brainstorm while waiting in lines, at the doctor, sitting in the car wash, or while stuck at stoplights. Use every spare moment of the day to work on your craft. Remember, you are a writer. Think of it as a real job. A job you enjoy and will succeed at if you keep working on it. Plus, since most of us have day jobs to pay the bills, this daily brainstorming will keep you inspired to continue your writing career and less frustrated with day-to-day mundane tasks.

3. Research your genre and other authors that you admire to find places you might list your book or things you may provide on your own website to draw readers to your site. It is fine to review or discuss other writer’s work on your own blog in hopes of drawing a crowd of those sorts of readers to your blog, but make sure you are always respectful to the other writers you are speaking about. Also, chat with visitors to your blog. The longer discussions you have, the more people may pitch in. Make sure these are subjects you like and can geek out on yourself. It’s okay to have fun!

4. Schedule time to work on your craft every day. If for some reason your life is too crazy for every day, make it every week, but do it. Don’t let other things get in the way. Don’t cancel and don’t let others make you discount the importance of your writing ritual. Think of it as a job. If you were at work, you wouldn’t necessarily call in because you friends wanted to meet for cocktails.

5. Network with other writers. Even simple discussions in a Facebook group could lead you to a contact who knows other contacts who will help you advance your career. Don’t go into the conversation with the goal to use people to get ahead... Just go and chat. Let the networking happen naturally. If you act like a spammer, bot, or used car salesman, you will be tuned out automatically. You also need to tend to your social needs. We all need to feel like we have partners in this crazy career. Count on others online to fulfill that need if you can’t or don’t feel comfortable chatting with writers in person. Try to go outside your comfort level and chat about everyday events in your writing career with others who are going through the same thing.

6. Don’t get discouraged. We’ve all heard, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Get back on the horse and keep at it till you’ve amassed lots of tries. At least one out of three will be productive. When you aren’t good at putting yourself out there and communicating with people you don’t know, it may seem debilitating, but keep telling yourself it will get easier, and it will.

7. Start a blog to practice writing to your future readers. Who cares if no one reads it right now? If they buy your book and start reading it, they will go back to read your old posts. They will be interested because your book interests them and soon you will have someone to geek out on your book with that loves it just as much as you do. Readers love to see where an author started and how far they’ve come. Don’t deny your fans the experience of traveling with you.

8. Be good to people. Don’t be a jerk. Treat them as your friends, because hopefully they will be. I’m not saying invite them over to your house for pizza, but you can be personable to them. Some of my favorite writers respond to their fan Facebook messages or Tweets. The more accessible to the readers, the more they will be interested in your work. You don’t have to put on a fake personality (unless that is your shtick) to gain readers. People respond to real. Just like they tell us to write what we know, you should chat about what you know and what you like.

Good luck with your writing!
~Emerian Rich

Dusk’s Warriors by Emerian Rich

Heaven has opened up and welcomed the vampires of Night’s Knights into a new reality. As they struggle to find their place in their new world, trouble brews on Earth.

Demon servant, Ridge, is causing havoc by gathering up all the souls on Earth that have been touched by immortality. When he injures one of the Night’s Knights crew, he launches a war between the vampires of Heaven, the Big Bad in Hell, and a mortal street gang of vigilante misfits.

Will Julien, Markham, and Reidar be able to defeat the evil that’s returned, or will they once again need Jespa’s help?

Praise for Dusk’s Warriors:

“All hail, the queen of Night's Knights has returned! Emerian Rich's unique take on vampires delights my black little heart.” ~Dan Shuarette, Lilith's Love

“A world of horror with realistic characters in a fast paced thriller you won't be able to put down.”

~David Watson, The All Night Library

Praise for Night’s Knights: 

“Fresh, original, and thoroughly entertaining.” ~Mark Eller, Traitor

“Emerian brought the Vampire Novel back from the dead.” ~C. E. Dorsett, Shine Like Thunder

Emerian Rich is an artist, horror host, and author of the vampire series, Night’s Knights. She is the hostess of the internationally acclaimed podcast, Under the name Emmy Z. Madrigal, she writes the musical romance series, Sweet Dreams and she’s the Editorial Director for the Bay Area magazine, SEARCH. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and son.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

Lou Tai

My husband recently ran a D&D game where I played a rogue thief by the name a Lou Tai. I didn't play her very well as I'm not much of roleplayer, but the character background was...interesting:

Image found on Tumblr
Lou Tai (or Tai Lou, if you are not Shou) is a twenty-one year old Human of half Shou descent through her mother, Lou Mei Mei (or Mei Mei Lou). Her mother is the owner and operator of the Three Jolly Luck Good Time “Inn". And yes, the quotation marks can also be seen on the establishment sign as it is an “Inn” of disrepute. Mei Mei likes everyone to think she is all about the money (her motto is “Money Up Front”), but she is soft hearted when it comes to those who are down on their luck and in need of a good meal. Tai takes after her in that respect. Her father, Ander “Horny” Hornraven, is a Human traveling bard of even more disrepute. He has half a dozen illegitimate children through different women of different races and is a known scoundrel and gallivanter. Tai loves him anyway—when he can be found—but not enough to loan him money (which would be stupid since he is also a known welsher).

Tai has two younger half sisters through her mother named Bai (pronounced Bye) and Lai (pronounced Lie). Bai, sixteen years old, is the healer of the family. She is destined to become a cleric or herbalist, in spite of their mother’s discouragement. She has a soft spot for bunnies and anything remotely fluffy. Lai, seventeen, is the wild child of the family with a talent for music. She wants to be a bard like her father. Not Ander. A different bard. Their mom’s a ho. Go figure. Lai is saving money to join the local bard’s guild. Mom is even less happy about this, but what can you do? Kids.
Like Bai, Tai dreamed of being a cleric when she was a child because she wanted to help the sick and the poor. She was discouraged from doing this by her mother who told her there wasn’t much money in the trade. Tai later met a passing Halfling thief by the name of Milo who taught her how to pick locks. She fell in love—not with Milo, but with the new found ability to break into anywhere she wanted to be. She loves the sneaking around and breaking in aspects of the trade and the intellectual challenge of stealing much more than she loves the money, but she does like a good payoff too. Most of her money goes to her mother and two younger half sisters (Bai and Lai) and, if she has enough left over, she’ll put some money in the poor box or give it to someone in need. Milo tells her there is a thieves guild in the city of (?) that can train her better than he can. She is very interested in the opportunities this city holds.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

I've Often Wanted to Ask This Question Myself...

Be sure to visit Zach's page. His comic is awesome! And did you know he wrote a book with his wife, Kelly Weinersmith? You should check that out too. Preferably by buying it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Spa Review of Awesomeness!

I don't know who posted this, but I'm sure they are just fabulous!

Metairie, Louisiana
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
Reviewed March 16, 2017 

Went to the Woodhouse Day Spa in New Orleans for their Woodhouse Experience. I went to their website and read what the package entails because booking a spa package without knowing what I'm getting would just be silly. Good thing too, because I found out the Woodhouse Experience usually includes a bath cure followed by a four handed massage. Having two therapists work on me at the same time creeps me out, so I opted for a 110 minute Swedish instead. The concierge who booked my appointment was awesome. I think it had something to do with the fact I treated her like a human being deserving respect and not a servant born to do my bidding. My spa day started with me arriving at the spa AT LEAST 30 minutes before my appointment began because I work in New Orleans and know that sometimes finding a parking in the city can suck. Also, I have enough common sense to know that if my appointment is booked for 11am, that means my SERVICE begins at 11AM. Not whenever I feel like plopping my body on my massage therapist's table. I know this because I've been to spas all over the world. While I waited, I took a quick shower because hygiene is awesome and I figured my service providers would appreciate not having to smell my body funk from the night before. After that, I relaxed in their quiet area where I noticed there were other people there waiting for their services. This did not shock me what with the fact that I've been to other spas (all over the world) and not once was shown to a broom closet to wait all by my lonesome. Human companionship is almost as awesome as good hygiene. My massage therapist was Neesa, but her real name is probably Hands Of Relaxing Awesomeness. She did not cure my myopia, but that's why I own glasses and really, all I wanted to do was relax, a feat she certainly accomplished. Thus the name. My next service was a nourishing Woodhouse Signature Minkyti Facial performed by Jalyn who is a true artist when it comes to cleaning dirt encrusted pores. My skin has never felt cleaner or more moisturized. Pretending to be a bearded merman with a unibrow when she applied my seaweed mask was a bonus. After that, I was whisked away to a pedicure chair where the talented and courageous Anika went to work on my callused feet as she gave me my Seaweed Leaf Pedicure. Although she protested when I said my feet had to be the gnarliest set of hoofs she ever had the misfortune to encounter, I still felt I owed her a medal of bravery or something just for having to look at them. Afterwards, my feet felt as soft and as smooth as a very soft and smooth...thing. Well done, soldier. Well done. After a day of being relaxed and beautimized, I went to the concierge desk to pay my bill and tip my service providers for a job well done, tipped them at least 20% because that's kind of what you're supposed to do what with the fact that these guys don't get paid the full price of the service but probably a commission or an hourly rate. I know this because I've been to spas. All over the world.
Visited March 2017

Monday, June 12, 2017

A Russian Doll in Reverse

This image is not my own, but fell in love when I saw it.
You can find this picture here.
by Karen Plaisance
He feeds from me. He suckles from a vein in my neck, gulping away like a thirsty redneck sucking down a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon. We’re sitting in the cold and the dirt and I’m desperately trying to hold onto some semblance of sanity, trying to get my nerve up. I can’t close my eyes. I’m afraid I’ll disappear if I do that. But I can’t look either. I can’t look at the whole picture. There’s something unpleasant in the room with me that has nothing to do with my captor. That has everything to do with my captor. My feverish mind rebels when I try, so I take the scene in one grizzly part at a time as he feeds, starting from small to large. Like one of those dolls, those Russian Matryoshka dolls that you open to find one doll after another inside, each smaller than the next. Only I’m starting from the inside out.
First, there’s the eye. It was sapphire blue when the woman lived and sparkled like a gem even in the dimly lit bar where I served her usual vodka straight. It was her best feature. Her prized attribute. Her treasured gems are cloudy now. Occluded, as the poets in my old textbooks used to say, the ones I used to read before I gave up on the whole college thing. They’re still in my apartment somewhere, gathering dust. I remember thumbing through them the day I decided to quit, wondering if those old poets felt as overwhelmed as I did.
The eyes don’t blink. The nose, the chapped lips, the concave cheeks. Features of a face that once was beautiful, now a tragic waste. None of these twitch, though they should what with the abundance of flies crawling all over them. She isn’t doing much moving anywhere. Except where things are wriggling, but let’s not think too hard about that.
I don’t look at the neck. I just…can’t.
The dress. I look at the dress. A lovely yellow mini dress, sexy and sophisticated like the type you find in one of those Trashy Diva shops. It clung to her body to reveal her shape and movements in a way that caught a man’s glance and kept it there. The woman wasn’t ashamed of her body like most of us were taught to be, and the dress was a lovely reminder of that. Or it used to be. Too much red on the bodice now, like someone spilled their cosmo all over her. Blood stains can be so garish. The thing is covered in dirt, front and back, to the point that there’s barely an unsoiled spot to tell what color it was when it was clean. The woman would hate that.
She couldn’t stand for her things to get dirty or messed up. She grew up poor in one of those countries where you had to work a month of backbreaking labor just to earn what we Americans playing Minesweeper in some cubicle all day make. She said the men smelled of vodka when they beat up their women and took their hard earned pay. When she came to the States, it was more of the same, except the men smelled of beer or whiskey, and there was a lot more money for them to take. The woman laughed at me when I told her I dropped out of university my first year.
“You Americans don’t know what you have,” she said shaking her head and eyeing me like I was one of her lazy, good-for-nothing Johns. “You know the price of everything and the value of nothing. Look that one up in your textbooks.”
Then she said something in her native tongue I didn’t comprehend, but from the condescending look on her face, I could tell it wasn’t complimentary.
Bartending in a tourist town makes you fluent in the language of bitch.
“Maybe so,” said with a hint of a smile, “but at least I’m smart enough not to antagonize the person who spits in my drinks. Oh, wait! Did I say spit? I meant pour.”
I can speak bitch too.
In spite of her contempt, she had no regrets about her lack of education. At least, that’s what she told me when I served her that one shot of Stoli beer chaser every night, her nightly limit when she trolled the bar for a willing John. She said she was just happy to learn a trade that paid something. Not a respectable occupation, but she was good enough to make a decent living, especially once she had gotten out from under her pimp’s thumb. Ran away to New Orleans and set up shop with another “working girl” named Hailey. Safety in numbers, she said. Did real well for herself too. Even so, she was obsessive about keeping her shit in good condition. The woman remembered all too well what it was like to have to patch up the same dress for years before it crumbled to rags.
Seeing her here, lying in the dirt, she wouldn’t like this at all. She’d be turning over in her grave if she could see herself. But she’s not in her grave. He hadn’t even bothered to take the body away after he finished her off, and I certainly wasn’t going to argue with him about it. Not after what he did to her.
Fighting him off had been useless when there were two of us. We tried that the first night, ganging up on him the second he walked through the door. Her plan. Not mine. My plan was to wait things out, find out what we were dealing thing, and maybe cower in a corner while praying for some hero to save us. Not the woman, though. She was a born fighter. Not that it mattered in the end. We barely had the chance to pounce when he pushed me to the ground and swatted her against one of the concrete walls as if we were nothing. Guess that’s why he hadn’t bothered to tie us up.
I let my eyes wander some more as he feeds. I’m getting light headed from the loss of blood. Stupid to waste time. Getting up my nerve. Getting up my nerve like the old college days the night before a big exam. I try to clear my mind of all distractions, but I keep spiraling into the same thought process. The eye. The face. The body. The room. My inevitable end if this all goes wrong.
Small picture. Big picture.
The room has a dirt floor. The dirt around her body is covered in rat droppings, leaves and twigs, and human feces. There wasn’t a toilet or a bucket when he threw us in here, so we were stuck shitting in the corner. It was already hard enough for the woman to move after that first night. He must have broke a few of her ribs. Maybe her spine. Then she got sick. Real sick. Coughing and wheezing and moaning in Russian or whatever it was she spoke. I hadn’t bothered to ask when she was well enough to answer. I didn’t have to touch her forehead to feel the heat of fever radiating from her skin.
When he took us, she didn’t have her coat, had left it on the stool at the bar. That’s how he got me. Because I went outside to the parking lot to return it. Must have dropped it when he snatched me. No good deed goes unpunished. Guess it’s still there with Hailey, her partner. But probably not. Someone would have found it and Hailey by now.
Eventually, The woman ended up shitting and pissing all over herself. I did my best to clean her up, but there weren’t a lot of options. The last time he was here to feed from the both of us and to bring us a little food, he took one look at her and the shit and the piss, saw that she was really bad off, and ripped her throat out with his teeth, nearly decapitated her. Then he started feeding from me alone.
That was a few days ago, and now I’m coughing and wheezing too. Well, I am when he’s not here. It’s getting harder to fake though, and he must feel the heat of my fever. He must know he’s getting close to draining me dry too.
The room, which is spinning around me, is about ten by fifteen feet. Slightly bigger than most prison cells, if some of the woman’s descriptions can be believed. The walls are made of gray concrete blocks, most of them stained with...I don’t want to know. No windows. The only way in or out is through a metal door. The thing is locked tight, chained from the outside, so there’s no use picking the lock even if I had the skills or the proper tools to do it. There’s nothing in here. Nothing but dirt and shit and a dead body that used to be a pretty Russian girl.
And twigs. Because this place is somewhere out in the middle of the woods. Every time he opens the door, the wind blows all this natural flotsam and jetsam into our cell. Most of the twigs are these thin useless things that would snap just by looking at them too hard. I didn’t pay much attention to them before, too caught up in my own spiralling thoughts. But the last time he came to feed from me, I noticed an honest to God branch. Not a big one. Nothing I could use as a club or anything, but it was adequately thick enough to sharpen against the gritty concrete. Like making a shiv. The woman would appreciate the ingenuity behind that.
When I found it, I thought of all those movies I’d seen. I thought of all those books I’d read. He’s unnaturally strong. He only visits at night. If he is what I think he is…would it work? Would it work if he’s not? Probably. Most people die if you stab them in the heart. If it doesn’t, I’m as good as dead, but does that matter at this point? I stare at the Russian Matryoshka on the ground in front of me, head dangling from her body by a twisted rope of muscle and tendons. Broken. I wonder if I look inside, would there be a smaller version of her somewhere. Is her soul there? Is she in a better place? There’s no power on Earth that can put that doll back together again, and if I don’t do something soon, that doll is going to be me.
I’m not going out like that. Not without a fight.
I finally look at him, this monster with a beautiful man’s face. Finished with his meal, my captor licks my neck clean. He smiles down on me with those sharp fangs of his in a twisted smirk. My fist tightens against the branch, hidden just out of his line of sight. He tells me I was delicious. He’s in the process of turning away, about to stand up to leave. He isn’t looking at me. He isn’t worried. Why would he be?
I’ve found my nerve. I pull back my hand and aim for his heart…

Friday, June 09, 2017

Karma Girl's Excellent Last Will and Testament

Okay, I’ve had a few drinks, so bear with me. First thing’s first: Open Bar. I want an open bar at my funeral/wake/memorial service. Whatever you want to do is fine, just make sure there’s an open bar. I don’t give a shit if alcohol is a depressant. OPEN. FUCKING. BAR!
Maiden name is Griffin, bitches!


Things I would like, but if you can’t do, no biggie:
1. I want to be cremated. It’s the cheapest route and personally I don’t like the idea of my friends and family members crying over my decaying corpse. I’d like for at least some of those ashes to be used to plant a tree or something like that. Not because I’m a pagan or anything. I just feel like I’ve been pretty useless in life. Might as well put my dead ass to work helping the carbon ratio or whatever the hell it’s called.
No, seriously. This is a thing.
2. I haven’t lost total faith in God. Yet. He took my dad and little sister, but who knows? Maybe they really have gone to a better place. I will allow a minister of my husband’s, mother’s, or sister’s choosing. Please don’t get into a fight over it. If there is a disagreement regarding the minister, either play Rock Paper Scissors Lizard Spock (the rules for which can be found here) or use the minister for Kelli’s funeral.
Or fight to the death. Whatever.
3. I want at least one friend or family member to dress in the cosplay of their choosing and do an Irish jig at my funeral/wake/whatever. It will amuse me. Or, if the Atheists are right, it won’t amuse me, as I will be a corpse devoid of feeling. But if I were alive, it would totally fucking amuse me so do it anyway.
It could be worse. Trust me.
4. My husband gets first pick of all my books. Mom gets second. My sister Tammy and her husband Larry get third pick. My friend Neesa gets fourth. Anything left should be donated to the library or Peter Dinklage. I realize Peter Dinklage is not really Tyrion Lannister, but it would just be awesome so let’s just go with it.
Damn straight.
5. I want everyone mourning me to contribute at least one dollar to whatever Democrat runs against Trump, Pence, or whatever monster is running on the Republican ticket on the presidential election of my demise. My vote didn’t count for shit in life. You bastards are going to make up for it or I will FUCKING HAUNT YOU! No seriously. Fuck Trump.
You mother fuckers owe me.
6. Something, something, something...dark side.
7. A pony. Wait. That was for my birthday. Fuck it. Too much Korbel.
Um...never mind.
8. I want everyone mourning me to do something nice for a total stranger. Give a dollar to a bum on the street. Help someone move. Pat someone on the back and say, “Nice job!” I don’t care. Make someone feel good about themselves. I don’t think I did much of that in life. Do it now so you don’t have to ask some poor schmuck to do it for you to feel better about your eventual demise.
Like totes, man!
That’s all I can think of for now. But I’m serious about the open bar. Like for reals.