Thursday, December 28, 2017

2017 Reading Goals Wrap Up

Last January I read an awesome post on BOOKS, BOXES, & BAUBLES about a New Years reading challenge. It sounded like fun so I thought I'd give it a go. Now that the year is coming to a close I thought I'd look back at my goals and see how I did.

- Goal Completed
- Goal Missed

☑ An author you’d like to read (that you’ve never read before). - Gillian Flynn - Gone Girl

⌧ A book you’d like to read. - A Million Little Pieces by James J. Frey - I just didn't get around to this one.

⌧ A classic you’d like to read. - Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll - This one is going to stay on my to-read list.

☑ A book you’d like to re-read. Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout  - I actually re-read this entire series this year after reading Oblivion. It's one of my favorites.

⌧ A book you’ve had for ages and want to read. - Don't Look Back by Jennifer Armentrout - I may not have gotten to this book, but I did read The Gunslinger by Stephen King, which has been sitting on my shelf for years.

☑ A big book you’d like to read. - Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

☑ An author you’ve previously read and want to read more of. - Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver - I'm so glad this was on my list. I loved this book!

⬜ A book you got for Christmas and would like to read. - I didn't get any books for Christmas last year. Fingers crossed Santa gets my list this year.

⌧ A series you want to read (start and finish) - Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling - I do really want to read these book, but the idea of starting such a long series was a little daunting. Maybe next year.

☑ A series you want to finish (that you’ve already started) The Sweet Evil series by Wendy Higgins - I got my hands on Sweet Temptation and ate it up.

☑ Do you set reading goals? If so, how many books do you want to read in 2017? - My goal was to read a measly 15 books, which I did. Granted, I set the bar pretty low, so that would have been a hard one to miss.

So, I'm a little more than 50/50. I missed four goals and met six. That's probably better than how most of my New Year's Resolutions go. How did your 2017 reading goals go?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Writing Bad-Boys and Unhealthy Relationships

Today I want to look at the trope that the evil, yet handsome bad-boy can turn it all around when he meets the love of his life. Characters that argue and build sexual tension between them are interesting to read about, but often in an attempt to achieve this angst writers create a bad-boy character that pushes the romance in their book into unhealthy relationship territory. In response, many writers and bloggers have been posting about how unhealthy relationships in books aren't okay. Which is great! But, I think sometimes the message gets oversimplified, leading some to think that all bad-boys are just bad.

The reality is that real relationships are complicated and that even the best relationships have hard times. Any married person or anyone that's been in a long-term relationship will tell you that there's been moments, fights, events in their relationship where they said something they didn't mean, or did something they regret. Real relationships are messy at times. Sometimes people that love each other are mean to each other. But, there is a difference between complicated and messy and unhealthy.

There's a big push for authors to stop writing bad-boys and unhealthy relationships altogether in fiction. I disagree. I think authors need to start writing bad-boys and unhealthy relationships realistically and stop romanticizing them. For example, maybe the main character falls into an unhealthy relationship and finds the strength to get out of it. Or, maybe the main character works to inspire another character to be a better person without dating them. Or, maybe that bad-boy, tortured anti-hero, decides to be a better person and realistically puts in the work to change, being affected by realistic consequences for his bad behavior.

So, if you want to write a bad-boy, how do you make his redemption arc believable and stay away from that toxic relationship scenario?

1. The bad-boy's redemption should take time, and be about more than just getting the girl. If your character instantly decides to be good when he meets your lead, this is unrealistic. Don't teach your readers that "you can change him." Your bad-boy can be inspired to change by your lead character, but she shouldn't become his conscious. If your main character is your bad-boy's only reason for being good and she'll do anything to save him you're throwing them into a co-dependent relationship. Super-unhealthy. He's got to make changes because he truly understands why he should change and wants to do it for himself.

2. Your female lead should not be getting involved with your bad-boy or staying in a relationship with him if he's being abusive. If your YA bad-boy calls out your lead at school, completely embarrassing her, she should not be hooking up with him in the next chapter -- not even if he lamely says sorry. She should probably be really mad. If your vampire bad-boy murders a bunch of innocent people, your lead should not be hooking up with him in the next chapter. She should probably be utterly terrified, really angry, or both. In other words, if your bad-boy does something bad, there should be realistic consequences, which do NOT include getting the girl. And a truly strong female lead should acknowledge that her bad-boy might be bad for her. That's the thing about a bad-boy redemption arc that I think many writers miss. If the bad-boy needs redeeming then as he is, he's not good enough for their female lead, but said lead is often written to act as if he is.

3. Stay away from sexual assault and rape if you want your bad-boy to be redeemable. A bad-boy being sexist, rude, crude, a total jerk, or doing something to make your lead feel uncomfortable could possibly be redeemable if you include appropriate consequences and show your character understanding why what he did was wrong and learning to be a better person. BUT, rape is not something your main character should forgive. Rape is all about control and unless you truly understand the psychology of it, and include appropriate consequences such as going to jail and therapy, I'd avoid it. I have a BA in Psychology and work with both victims and perpetrators of sexual assault and I don't feel like I could realistically write a redemption arc for a rapist -- at least not in the context of a romance novel. That said, I do hope authors continue to write about tough issues like sexual assault and rape -- just not in a way that romanticizes them.

Books/TV that did it wrong:

Bella and Edward in Twilight by Stephanie Meyer: This series breaks rules #1 and #2. Bella and Edward and completely co-dependent, and Bella swoons over Edward regardless of how he acts.

Patch and Nora in Hush, Hush: Breaks all the rules, especially rule #3. From what I understand (I'll admit I haven't read this) there's way too much sexual assault happening in this book.

Chuck and Blair on Gossip Girl: This relationship started out really interesting, but when the writers broke rule #3 with Chuck's character, I felt this was unforgivable.

I could probably continue on with this list for miles. It'd probably consist of mostly YA PNR books. But, let's move on. Feel free to comment on other books that break the rules in the comments below.

Books/TV that did it right:

Willow and Tara on Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Willow and Tara's relationship starts out really healthy, but as Willow's addiction to magic grows she becomes abusive to Tara, using magic to erase Tara's memories of fights they've had. I love this example for a few reasons. One, bad-boys aren't always boys. Girls can be bad-boys. And while Willow's character certainly didn't start out very bad, she's pretty badass by the beginning of season 6. Also, girls can be abusive in relationships too. Two, Willow's abuse of Tara is mental and emotional. Abuse isn't always physical. Three, Willow convinced herself that what she was doing wasn't so bad. She just wanted her and Tara to be happy and not to fight. And finally, when Tara realized that Willow had again removed her memories, Tara LEFT HER! Tara still loved Willow, but she realized that what Willow had done was wrong, abusive and that Willow wasn't going to change if Tara stayed. This was an incredibly sad story arch for these two characters, but this unhealthy relationship was necessary for the writers to explore other things with Willow's character, like addiction. It was an unhealthy relationship done right, and if Willow had been able to get the help she needed for her addiction, I think these characters could have found their way back to one another in a healthy way.

Katy and Daemon in Obsidian - There are some parallels to be made with this book and Twilight. They both have quiet, new-to-town, female leads and mysterious, gorgeous male love interests who turn out to be supernatural creatures. And, they both involve said love interests being not so nice to the lead characters in the beginning of the books. However. Obsidian portrays a much healthier relationship between Katy and Daemon than Bella and Edward in a number of ways. One, when Daemon is mean to Katy, Katy does not turn around and swoon over him. She basically writes him off and only ends up giving him another chance when his behavior starts to change and Katy promises her best friend (Daemon's sister) that she'd try to be nice to him. Their relationship is really brought together by Daemon's sister. Unlike Twilight where the characters just sort of swoon over one another for no real reason. Two, Daemon is definitely a jerk and does push Katy away creating that tension that bad-boy book lovers love, but when it matters he proves himself as one of the good guys. Daemon is the guy that steps in when Katy's homecoming date doesn't accept "no" as an answer, instead of being the guy to push her to say "yes" like in a lot of YA PNR books. And, at the end of the book, despite having feelings for Daemon, Katy walks away from him because she doesn't think he'll be good for her.

“No. Sorry. You have spent months being the biggest jerk to me. You don’t get to decide to like me one day and think I will forget all of that. I want someone to care for me like my dad cared for my mom.” (p.357)

This is just the beginning of Daemon's redemption arc and part of the reason it's done right is that Daemon gets held accountable for his actions and doesn't straight up get the girl by being a jerk.

Juliette and Warren in Ignite Me - I think part of what makes this a great example is that Juliette and Warren don't get together until the THIRD book. I hated Warren in the first two books. He had to do a lot to win me over as a reader and in turn to win Juliette. One, I think what works for this book is that a lot of the reasons why you think Warren is the bad guy are misleads. The reader learns a lot about who he is by the third book and you realize that he's not exactly who he first appeared to be. Juliette doesn't like him, at all, until she sees his redeeming qualities. Two, I like that this book addressed that Juliette's relationship with Adam wasn't super healthy and showed her getting out of that. Adam appears to be good for her in the beginning, but as Juliette grows as a person she realizes that he's not exactly what she needs.

Who are your favorite book bad-boys?

If you liked this post, you may also like:
Unhealthy Relationships: A Twilight, Graceling Comparison
Review for Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout
Review for Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Review for The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

3.75 Stars. Like the Boardgame "Clue" on the Ocean. 

I don't read a lot of murder mysteries, and I have read better ones, but this was good. It opens with a suspenseful scene and I really liked the ending. I just wish I'd connected with the main character, Lo, more.

Lo is a very independent woman with a bit of a drinking problem. She writes for a magazine and ends up on a yacht with plans to write about its maiden voyage when she thinks she hears a murder in the cabin next to hers. Lo's on medication for depression and after a traumatic experience at the beginning of the novel, the other characters have a hard time believing her. Her situation at the beginning of the book sets up her state of mind so I understood why she reacted to things the way she did later in the story, but I had a hard time actually liking her. She seemed a little cold at times, treated her boyfriend pretty crappy, and was a little moody. I did like her character growth and who she becomes by the end of the novel.

The other characters were colorful and interesting. This whole book reminded me a little of Clue. It has that classic dinner-murder-mystery feel, which was fun. I definitely spent a lot of time thinking about each character and whether or not they could be the murderer, and when I finally got to the end it was a total surprise. I did not see that coming. The ending felt satisfying. There are plenty of red herrings that leave you wondering how this is going to turn out for everyone along the way.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

November Reading and Writing Wrap Up

I just want to wish everyone a belated Happy Thanksgiving. I have some fun things planned for the rest of the holiday season. Unearthed will be going on sale soon, so keep your eyes out for a post about that, and I have something really cool planned for the New Year.


Books Reviewed in November:

I finally posted my review of The Gunslinger by Stephen King. I was a little dissappointed with the book, and probaby won't continue with the series right now, but I've heard it gets a lot better after book one. So, I'm not going to rule out returning to it later.

Books Read in November:

My review of The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware will be up soon. This was a nice murder mystery, but won't be getting added to my favorites anytime soon.

I'm also finishing up Mind Hunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker, so I'll be posting that review soon as well. Being non-fiction this is a really different read for me, but I'm liking it so far.

Books to read in December:

I really want to read an indie book once I finish Mind Hunter and I've downloaded a few samples of different books onto my kindle, but haven't picked one yet.


I've taken a break from book #2 in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles to poke at some short stories and other WIP's. My fantasy novel is also on the back burner right now. I'll be honest I've had a bit of writer's block lately so, I'm trying to get creative with some other projects until my muse returns.


I finished a few fun posts last month that I had a good time writing. I really enjoyed posting about the differences in publishing through IngramSpark compared to Amazon. I've also been working to grow my mailing list and am still giving away FREE copies of Into the Deep to anyone that joins. Finally, I have plans for a really fun post I have for the New Year. I don't want to give away too much about it, but it will be something that everyone can get involved in.

My Favorite Blog Posts in November:

Favorite Post Written: Writing Dual POV's with Distinctive Voices: When I was writing Unearthed I researched this quite a bit and had trouble finding posts that were really helpful. So, this is a post about all the tips I applied to get Archer and Caroline's chapters to sound distinctive in Unearthed.

Favorite Post Read: Abuse is being Romanticised at A Magical World of Words: I'm a fan of writing complicated relationships and I love a good bad-boy story arc, but there have been a lot of books that take this arc and go in an unhealthy direction with it, which in itself can be fine depending on how a writer addresses it. But, if a book then says that unhealthy relationship with that abusive bad-boy is normal and okay, then we have a problem. I really appreciated Amy posting about this issue.


Things have been a little crazy in my personal life. My day job has been more stressful than usual. Right now, I'm just working to get through and hopefully have more time for writing in the future.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tips for Writing Dual POVs with Distinctive Voices

When writing a novel that flips between two (or more) character's POVs one of the biggest mistakes writers make is having the characters sound too much alike. In Unearthed After Sunset, the story alternates between two POV's, Greg and Caroline. When I was writing the book it was really important to me to make sure that Greg's chapters sounded different from Caroline's. Below are five tips for giving your characters distinctive voices.

1. Think about your character's interests and passions: The things your character cares about will shape how they see and describe the world. For example, an artist will use different words to describe a sunset than an athlete. An artist might describe the colors and beauty of the sunset. An athlete may take more notice of how the world around them darkens rather than the sunset itself, or maybe they notice the drop in temperature that sunset brings. In Unearthed Greg is a fan of horror movies, and in his chapters, he makes a number of references and comparisons to different horror movies. Caroline, however, is not a fan of scary movies so in her references and comparisons are more likely to be related to music.

2. Think about HOW your characters think: Does your character find themselves deep in thought often, or is there more brevity to their thoughts? Are they full of wonder, do they question things, or are they accepting of the world around them? In both Greg and Caroline's chapters, there are some beautiful descriptions, but Caroline's chapters are definitely flowier while Greg's are more to the point. Caroline notices more details than Greg does.

3. Consider your character's word choice: Does your character say soda or pop? Water fountain or bubbler? Do they refer to that piece of furniture in their living room as a couch or a sofa? Caroline is far more likely to be more specific and detailed in her descriptions. For example, if she points out the color of something she's more likely to say maroon or burgundy, where Greg is more likely to just say red. They also each have specific words they use that the other doesn't. When writing Unearthed I actually made a chart to remind me of their different phrases.

4. Edit your chapters out of order: If your chapters for each character alternate, do a read through where you read only character #1's chapters, then do a read through where you read only character #2's chapters. This can help you pay attention to their voice and character growth. With Unearthed, I would edit all of Caroline's chapters, skipping over Greg's, then go back and edit all of Greg's, skipping over Caroline's. This way I could focus on the voice of that character across the span of the book.

5. Take your character's gender into consideration: This is only really useful if the two characters you're alternating between are different genders, and it's important not to make your characters stereotypical. But, some gender stereotypes hold true and can help you form your characters. Maybe your female character shows more emotion. Maybe she's more social. Your male character might notice the physical attributes of your female character more than she notices his. Like I said, be careful of getting swept up in stereotypes, but remembering that men and women do sometimes see the world differently may help you differentiate your character's voices.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

IngramSpark VS Amazon

Last month I published Unearthed After Sunset. Usually, I only publish my paperbacks through Amazon and reach out to other distributors for the e-book copy of the book. But, this time I decided to use both Amazon and IngramSpark.

First, I want to talk about my reasons for wanting to use IngramSpark. In the past, I would set up multiple accounts to get my books available as many places as possible. I had a KDP account, a CreateSpace account, a B&N account and an account at Kobo. After some time I realized that checking in with all of these accounts was time-consuming and I still didn't have my book in as many places as I wanted. What's awesome about Ingram is that you set up one account and your book is available in both paperback and e-book basically everywhere.

Benefits of using Ingram Spark:

1. Availability to 70+ Major Online Retailers, including Amazon, Kobo, Nook, and iBooks
2. Ability to produce hardcovers (which I haven't done yet, but would love to!)
3. All your sales and data in one place
4.Better returns if you sell to bookstores, and you're more likely to get into bookstores (Amazon doesn't give bookstores as good of a discount to buy your book as IngramSpark does)

So, if Ingram is so awesome, then why not only use Ingram (they will make your book available on Amazon after all)? Here's the thing, Amazon is where I sell most of my books, and even with how awesome IngramSpark is, Amazon has some benefits of its own.

Benefits of using Amazon (KDP or CreateSpace):

1. KDP promotional deals like free days (You can only use these if you exclusively sell on Amazon)
2. Easier to use, publish, update books, check sales - The KDP and CreateSpace sites are waaay more user-friendly than IngramSpark
3.No set-up fees (IngramSpark has a $50 set-up fee)
4.Easier to create and upload inside files. Formatting your files for e-pub is a lot harder than formatting for Kindle (Formatting the PDF for your paperback is about the same)
5.Easier to create and upload the cover file. (Amazon's book cover creator makes everything so much simpler)
6.No worries about your book being "out of stock." If you use Amazon to print your book it will never be out of stock, but if you use IngramSpark to supply Amazon with your book, if you're not flying off the shelves, Amazon may mark you as "temporarily out of stock"

So, here's what I do. I use Amazon's KDP [which now allows for publishing paperbacks as well so I don't need to use CreateSpace] to make my book available on Amazon only. This makes it easy to upload my book to the place where I get the most sales. It also makes checking those sales easier as the KDP site is easier to navigate. This also means my print book will never be "temporarily out of stock on Amazon. Then I also have an IngramSpark account to get my book into B&N, Kobo, I-Books and more. That way I can reach a lot of retailers and have only one place to check the rest of my sales. This also means if I want to pull my book from all other retailers to take advantage of KDP select and free days, I only have one site to pull it from. So essentially, I'm trying to get the best of both worlds.

A Look At Quality:

When it comes to my e-books. They're basically the same whether you purchase them through Amazon, or say B&N where the file comes from IngramSpark. The same cannot be said for paperbacks.

Here's a side by side comparison of what my printed book looks like from each company. Both IngramSpark and Amazon offer various sizes and both gloss and matte finishes. I chose the matte finish, which had basically the same look on each book.

(Left: IngramSpark, Right: Amazon)
Looking at the books side by side it's clear there are a few differences.

1. The colors on the IngramSpark copy are brighter and more true to my design
2. The Amazon copy has a slight white line on the bottom right corner of the cover (This was my proof copy, I believe I've fixed this issue, though I'm not sure what caused it)
3. They are not the exact same size. - Both books were printed as 5x8, but it's important to know that they are NOT the exact same size. So, if you are writing a series be aware that if a reader buys book #1 from Amazon and book #2 in the series from an IngramSpark retailer, they will not match.

Ingram Spark


Top: Ingram
Bottom: Amazon

Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon
There were also some differences inside the book. In the photo below, you can see that my photo on my Author's Page is much better quality in my IngramSpark book than in the one from Amazon. The overall paper quality seemed nicer in my IngramSpark book as well. The IngramSpark book was noticeably thinner than my Amazon book.
(Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon)

(Left: Ingram, Right: Amazon)

Books printed through Ingram Spark are better quality. That said, my Amazon book certainly wasn't poor quality, and Amazon in general is a lot easier (and cheaper) to use. If you're a new-bie author looking to publish your first book, maybe start with just Amazon. If you want to try and get your books into more retailers and have a good understanding of formatting go with IngramSpark (or do both, like I did.)

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Free YA PNR Book

Hello lovely readers. I am working to grow my mailing list and for anyone that subscribes at I will be giving out a free mobi file of Into the Deep.

About My Mailing List: I don't send out a lot of e-mails, so don't worry about being spammed! At most I send a handful of e-mails a year with information on promotions and giveaways I'm running for my books.

About Into the Deep: Into the Deep was released in 2012, and revised in 2013. It was my debut novel and I'm still very proud of it. It's a BRAG medallion honoree and has a 4.2 star rating on Amazon.


Ivy Daniels is a high school junior still learning who she is. After an accident, Ivy finds herself with an ability she doesn’t want, an ability to uncover secrets which quickly begins to redefine what she thinks about the people around her as well as herself. Because of this ability, Ivy becomes the one thing that stands between an angry teen and the death of every student on campus. The only problem is she doesn’t know who wants everyone dead. Will she figure out who has this dark secret, or will she fail to find him in time?

Through her search to do the right thing, Ivy discovers that knowing the thoughts and secrets of those around her may just tear her apart.

Into the Deep is a paranormal romance for mature young adults, that looks at how we define who we are, and what it means to feel alone. It contains minimal use of strong language and mild sensuality.

So, if you haven't already, please join my mailing list by going to, and share this with all of your friends.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

October Reading and Writing Wrap Up

I hope everyone had a Happy Halloween and a scary Friday the 13th last month. I'm late once again gettng this post out, sorry for that. I had a busy month writing, wrapping up the blog tour for Unearthed, which as you all know was released on the 15th and is currently available on Amazon, Barnes, and Noble, Kobo and I-Books.


Books Reviewed in October:

I didn't review ANY books in October. Gasp. I did finally get around to writing my review for The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)  last Thursday, so you can check out.

Books Read in October:

I finished The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I'll have my review of that up soon.

Books to read in November:

I'm currently reading Mind Hunter by John Douglas and Mark Olshaker which so far is AWESOME. It's definitely outside of my normal read being non-fiction, but the storytelling is really good.

I want to pick up an indie after this. It's been a while since I've read anything self-published or put out by a small press. So, I'm on the lookout for a good one.


Book #2 in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles is nearly ready for beta readers, but I've taken a break from it to poke at some other WIP's. I'm nearly done with the first draft of a fantasy novel I've been working on which will be Upper YA/NA and involve an entirely new world with castles and magic and all those classic fantasy elements -- with my own twist on them of course. I'm currently at 70,000 words and it will probably be about 80+ so I'm close to the end.


I've been a little behind blogging. Focusing on the Unearthed Blog Tour last month kept me busy. I do have some fun ideas for some new posts. I've also been spending a lot of time of Pinterest and been doing more with group boards. You can follow me on Pinterest here, and if you're interested in joining one of my group boards, just message me!

My Favorite Blog Posts in September:

Favorite Post Written: Taking Cliche Vampire Themes and Making Them Your Own: After writing a vampire novel this was a fun post as I was able to talk about some of the stereotypes I tweaked in Unearthed.

Favorite Post Read: 10 Annoying Questions Bookworms get asked that just Make No Sense on Paper Fury. In general, I love this blog for posting things that are just different and fun, and this post was just that.


I spend the first week of October in Rome for my Honeymoon and had an amazing time. Since getting back my husband and I have been back to working on building our new garage, which is nearly done, and I've been planning for a few weddings that are coming up soon.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Review for The Gunslinger (Dark Tower 1) by Stephen King

3 Stars. Slow Start to what I've Heard is a Great Series. I've been a Stephen King fan for a long time, and I went into reading The Gunslinger knowing (from other readers) that book one sets up the series and is a little bit lackluster in comparison to the rest of the books. But still, it fell a little short for me.

The Dark Tower moves a little slow at first, which didn't bother me too much as I'm used to the slow build that King's books often have. But, I was disappointed by the ending. I felt like that slow build didn't amount to a satisfying conclusion.

Roland himself isn't as fleshed out as King's other characters and I wasn't as drawn into his relationships with other characters as I wanted to be. I really liked Jake, and when he entered the story I got sucked in a lot more. Maybe that's because he reminded me of Jack from The Talisman. I found Jake made Roland a more interesting character, but I really felt like Roland let Jake down and because of that, I cared less about the ending.

Knowing what other people have said about the series, I might still pick up the next book down the road, but not right now.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Character Fight Book Tag

So, I kind of stole this book tag from the lovely bloggers at A Magical World of Books. But, it just looked too fun to pass up.

If you don't know how this tag works, here're the rules:

- You write down the names of 30 characters.
- For every question in the tag, you randomly draw two names.
- From those two names drawn, you answer the question accordingly.

Let's do this!

My Character's

1. Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

2. Bella Swan (Twilight)

3. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games)

4. Persephone (Daughters of Zeus)

5. Daemon Black (Obsidian)

6. Maxon Schreave (The Selection)

7. R (Warm Bodies)

8. Kaidan Rowe (Sweet Evil)

9. Juliette Ferrars (Shatter Me)

10. Dracula

11. Sherlock Holmes

12. Wonder Woman

13. Willow Rosenburg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

14. Rosalie Hale (Twilight)

15. Peta Mellark (Hunger Games)

16. Hades (Daughters of Zeus)

17. Katy Swartz (Obsidian)

18. Voldemort (Harry Potter)

19. Wicked Witch of the West (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

20. Grendel’s Mother (Beowulf)

21. Amy Dunne (Gone Girl)

22. The Man in Black (The Gunslinger)

23. Nick Dunne (Gone Girl)

24. Dr. Horrible (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog)

25. Gregory House (House)

26. Lucifer Morningstar (Lucifer)

27. Dexter Morgan (Dexter)

28. Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries)

29. Sookie Stackhouse (Dead Until Dark)

30. Xena (Xena Warrior Princess)

You only have one more spot on your spelling bee team. Who gets it?

1. Amy Dunne (Gone Girl)

2. Katy Swartz (Obsidian)

Ooo, this is tough. I can imagine both Amy and Katy being pretty good in a spelling bee, but Amy is a total psychopath so I think I’d have to go with Katy. She’s a book blogger and reads a lot so I bet she’s got a pretty large vocabulary.

Both characters want to kill you. Whom would you kill first to have a better chance of survival?

1. The Man in Black (The Gunslinger)

2. Wicked Witch of the West (The Wonderful Wizard of Oz)

The Man in Black. I don’t know how I would kill him. He’s got all that crazy otherworldly magic, but if I can figure out how to take him out then I just have to throw a bucket of water at the Wicked Witch and I’m home free.

You're on the bachelor/bachelorette and down to two characters. Who gets your rose?

1. Maxon Schreave (The Selection)

2. Kaidan Rowe (Sweet Evil)

Kaidan Rowe. Maxon was a sweetie, but I’m a sucker for the misunderstood bad-boy.

You've been chosen for the Hunger Games. Who's most likely to volunteer in your place?

1. Buffy Summers (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

2. Bella Swan (Twilight)

I think Bella would volunteer to take Edward’s place, but probably not mine so I have to say Buffy Summers on this one. And, let’s be serious, Buffy would probably win the Hunger Games (or find a way to escape and save everyone) where Bella wouldn’t even make it through training.

You're stranded on an island and must engage in cannibalism to survive. Whom do you eat?

1. Voldemort (Harry Potter)

2. Willow Rosenburg (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

Okay, one, gross. Two, I feel like I can be strategic about this. We eat Voldemort, obviously, but maybe Willow can magic him into something first. Hopefully, something more like a Thanksgiving dinner and not a rat though.

You're the next Marvel superhero (with your own TV show, of course). Who's your sidekick?

1. Juliette Ferrars (Shatter Me)

2. Persephone (Daughters of Zeus)

Interesting. Can I have them both? They both have some pretty cool powers. Juliette’s touch of pain could be useful, but Persephone can affect an entire season, plus she has that all-access pass to the Underworld, which I think could come in handy.

You're a manager of an avocado company. Whom would you fire for poor communication skills?

1. Dracula

2. R (Warm Bodies)

Ha, um both? Between Drac’s blah-bl-blah Transylvanian accent and R’s lack of talking being a zombie I don’t see either one of them communicating well at an avocado company.

You've just finished a book in which your favorite character dies. Which of these two characters is more likely to comfort you?

1. Katniss Everdeen (Hunger Games)

2. Wonder Woman

I love Katniss, but I have to say Wonder Woman. She’s much more nurturing than Katniss is. Katniss was all about survival.She’d probably just tell me to suck it up because there’s more important things going on.

Ugh, it's high school. Who would most likely be part of the popular clique?

1. Bonnie Bennett (The Vampire Diaries)

2. Xena (Xena Warrior Princess)

Probably Bonnie, she was a cheerleader after all, but she was like the nice girl in the popular clique.

The day has arrived; you're finally a year older! Who would have the nerve to forget your birthday?

1. Nick Dunne (Gone Girl)

2. Hades (Daughters of Zeus)

Nick Dunne. I mean, he wasn’t the greatest husband to Amy. Forgetting birthdays is probably not something new to him. Plus, I feel like Hades would be on top of that stuff. Ruling the Underworld he’d have an eternity of me being pissy with him.

You've just found an upcoming YouTube star! Whom is it more likely to be?

1. Lucifer Morningstar (Lucifer)

2. Dexter Morgan (Dexter)

Definitely Lucifer, I think he’d get a kick out of that.

Sleepover time! Unfortunately, you can only invite one person. Who would it be?

1. Sookie Stackhouse (Dead Until Dark)

2. Dr. Horrible (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog)

Hmm, I kind of want to say Dr. Horrible just because then there’d be singing, and he really wasn’t all that horrible.

Bam, you're pregnant. Who's the father/mother?

1. Daemon Black (Obsidian)

2. Sherlock Holmes

Holy alien babies, can it please be Daemon Black?

You've just written a super important text. Who would see it and not reply?

1. Gregory House (House)

2. Peta Mellark (Hunger Games)

Dr. House, no question. Peta would text me back a love letter.

You've just woken up, and it's time for breakfast. Your mom's been replaced by.....whom?

1. Grendel’s Mother (Beowulf)

2. Rosalie Hale (Twilight)

Tough one. Both are fiercely protective, but I think I’ve got to go with Rosalie. She might be just a tad more reasonable than Grendel’s Mother.

Sunday, October 15, 2017


Unearthed After Sunset is officially available for purchase, and it will be available for 99cents on Amazon only for one more day!

Amazon - In both paperback and kindle format

Barnes & Noble - In both paperback and nook format

Kobo - In ebook format

About the Book:

When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out, he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly whose side he’s on and why he’s fighting. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next. While his new vampire cohorts push him to accept his newfound existence, there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

Caroline Christensen lived a normal life once. Then her brother was killed by vampires and her family legacy as a vampire hunter was handed down to her. When she meets Greg at a bar one night, they both feel an immediate connection. Then Greg discovers Caroline’s secret and she worries he’ll never talk to her again. She soon finds out that he has a very different reason for not calling – he’s dead.

Now Greg has become Caroline’s target, but can she bring herself to kill him? Greg, however, isn’t Caroline’s only concern. The vampires are battling one another, and Caroline is determined to find out what they’re fighting over.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Taking Cliché Vampire Themes and Making Them Your Own

Vampires are a far cry from an original supernatural creature. They’ve existed in literature for centuries. So, how do you write about them and make them feel new? This was one of the biggest challenges I faced when writing Unearthed after Sunset. How to put your own twist on a story is a question writers tackle no matter what they’re writing about. There are no new plots, as they say. So, writers are constantly trying to create their own spin on things. With a vampire story, however, I feel like this is particularly difficult because if you twist too much then are you really writing about vampires anymore?

Readers expect to see some of the typical vampire stereotypes. We all know that vampires are immortal blood drinkers that burn in the sun and live in gothic mansions. They have no reflections, hate garlic, sleep in coffins, and can’t come in your house unless invited. The only way to kill them is with a wooden stake through the heart and they can be warded off with a handy religious symbol like a crucifix or holy water.

Follow all these rules and you risk being cliché, but don’t follow enough or change too many of them and you risk leaving your readers feeling like they got tricked into reading a vampire-book that isn’t really about vampires.

So, here’s what I did with Unearthed after Sunset:

First, I looked all the vampire rules/stereotypes and decided what I needed to keep so that my creatures would still feel like vampires. For Unearthed after Sunset that meant they had to drink blood. They just wouldn’t feel like vampires to me if they didn’t drink blood. I also wanted to keep the rule that vampires burn in the sun. Those were the two most iconic vampire rules to me, so they had to stay.

Second, I had to decide where does vampirism come from in my story. This meant deciding if it had a magical cause or one more akin to a virus. Since there’s no magic in my vampire universe, I eliminated the vampire rules/stereotypes that related specifically to magic. The vampires in Unearthed after Sunset are not deterred by Holy water, crosses, or garlic, and they can enter your house without an invite. They also do have reflections.

Third, I decided what things I wanted to take my own twist on. The biggest change I made with Unearthed after Sunset was changing what killed my vampires. I tweaked the traditional stake through the heart by deciding that it’s not the wood that actually kills the vampires. Since vampirism is like a virus in my world, I decided the way to kill them would be with a substance that “cured” the virus. So, my vampire hunters use wood stakes, but they soak them in Transylvanian Sage Oil, which is what actually destroys the vampire virus.

Another thing I tweaked was making it so my vampires could only drink human blood. Part of the reason I made this change was because I felt like a lot of vampire novels have recently gone the way of the “vegetarian vampire” who only drinks animal blood. And, while that was an original twist when I first heard of it, I now feel like being a veggie-vamp is too easy. Making this change not only helped my story feel more original, but it also added an obstacle for my characters and I enjoy making them suffer.

I tweaked a few other things, but if you want to know what other twists I took on the stereotypical vampire mythology you’ll have to read Unearthed after Sunset.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Unearthed Book Tour Kick Off and GIVEAWAY

The blog tour for Unearthed After Sunset starts today! Follow the tour to read exclusive excerpts, book reviews, and guest posts all about my new urban fantasy vampire novel. The tour kicks off here with a little info about the book, and tomorrow it moves to Laurie's Thoughts and Reviews with a Song for a Scene guest post! I'm also doing a giveaway for a SIGNED PAPERBACK copy of the book.

About the Book:

Title: Unearthed After Sunset 
Genre: Urban Fantasy 
Author: Lauryn April 
Publisher: Crimson Thistle 
Release Date: October 15th, 2017


When Greg Erickson is killed by sultry and seductive vampire Lila, he wakes up cold and alone in a wooden box. After clawing his way out, he finds himself thrust into a vampire turf war, unsure of exactly what he’s fighting for. Greg discovers that it’s not easy to be human one day and hunting humans the next, and while his new vampire cohorts try to get him to accept his newfound existence there’s one girl from his human life he’s unable to forget.

Caroline Christensen lived a normal life once. Then her brother was killed by vampires and her family legacy as a vampire hunter was handed down to her. When she meets Greg out at the bar one night they both feel a connection. Then Greg discovers Caroline’s secret and she worries he’ll never talk to her again, but soon she finds out that he has a very different reason for not calling – he’s dead.

Now Greg has become the thing Caroline is supposed to hunt, but can she bring herself to kill him? Greg, however, isn’t Caroline’s only concern. There’s something going on with the vampires. They’re fighting over something and she’s determined to find out what it is.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 30, 2017

September Reading and Writing Wrap-Up

I spent a LOT of time marketing in September. Unearthed After Sunset releases on October 15th, so I was super busy trying to set up a blog tour and line up some reviews for the book before release day. I forgot how hard the marketing part of self-publishing is.


Books Reviewed in September:

I didn't review ANY books in September. I finished The Gunslinger (The Dark Tower #1)  a little while ago. I'm just behind on writing up my thoughts. So, that is coming soon.

Books Read in September:

I'm almost done with The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware. I'm liking it so far.

Books to read in September:

I also added Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris to my TBR list.


OCTOBER 15th is the official release date for Unearthed After Sunset. It's all set up and ready to go on Amazon, and I'm finishing the last tweaks on Ingram Spark so hopefully, I can make my release date on all platforms, including B&N, Nook and I-Books. You can pre-order it now for 99cents. In between all the fun marketing for Unearthed, I've been working on book #2 in the Cereus Vampire Chronicles. The first draft is done, and after a read through I decided to add two new scenes to that I'm not quite done with. Once I finish those I'll probably do two more read-throughs before I start looking for beta readers. I also have a greek mythology book I've been tinkering with and a fantasy novel I've been working on when my scatter-brain ways get the best of me.


I've been getting back into the swing of blogging. My upcoming release for Unearthed has eaten up a lot of my time, but I did get a chance to put together a few fun posts this month, and I posted a few author interviews. I also typed up a bunch of guest posts for the BLOG TOUR that's happening in October for Unearthed After Sunset. I really wanted to do a few really fun posts, so while there are some reviews and some author interviews I also wanted to write a few "Song for a Scene" posts and there are some Excerpts. Every stop on the tour has something different! You can follow the tour HERE.

My Favorite Blog Posts in September:

Favorite Post Written: 3 Must Have's for Chapter One: Writing a killer first chapter is essential to getting readers into your story. The last thing you want is to bore your reader with the first chapter and have them put your book down before they see how awesome it is.

Favorite Post Read: If Practice Makes Perfect: I liked this post on Y's Words because Yvonne discusses some of her frustrations with both Amazon and Ingram Spark. I'm currently having some of the same frustrations with Ingram, so it was nice to see that I wasn't alone.


I went to a wedding this month and had a blast, and I'm currently in ROME for my honeymoon! I'm curious to see what story ideas this city might inspire. 

How was your September?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

3 Must Haves for Chapter One

Most writers know the basics about what should go in their first chapter. Obviously, you want to introduce your main character and give your readers a little background about your story. But, exactly what should happen in chapter one is something I think a lot of writer's struggle with. So, here are three tips to writing that first chapter.

Must Have's for Chapter One:

1. A hook or question to be answered later - You need some kind of mystery, something that puts a question in your reader's head to make them keep reading in search of the answer. Don't start your book with long exposition and backstory. Do, find an interesting moment for your opening scene and sprinkle in backstory as you go.

In the first chapter of Shatter Me we learn that Juliette has been locked away in a cell, but Tahereh Mafi leaves why as an open question for her readers to wonder about.

2. A moment that makes your main character like-able - Have your character do something that makes your readers want to root for them. This is sometimes called the "save the cat" moment. This moment, whatever it is, gives your reader a reason to care about your main character and want to go on a journey with them. This can be a small moment or something major, but it's an important moment. If your reader doesn't care about your characters they have to reason to keep reading.

Having a like-able moment is especially important if you have a character that is otherwise unlikable. If your main character does something sympathetic in chapter one, your reader will have an easier time forgiving them for things they may do later on or looking past other unlikable traits.

In Obsidian by Jennifer Armentrout we quickly discover a number of reasons to feel sympathetic toward Katy. On page one its revealed that Katy's father has recently passed away and she's just moved to a nowhere town. But, the moment that really made me care for Katy was when she saw her mom making eggs (and not doing a great job at it). Despite the fact that she clearly didn't want to move, and that she thought the eggs looked gross, she ate them knowing it would make her mom feel better. It was a small moment that showed she cared about her mom and for that reason I wanted to root for her.

In Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, we're given a lot of reasons not to like the main character, Sam. But, the book opens with her death and Sam thinking back on some things that she seems to feel guilty about. This allowed Oliver to build some sympathy for Sam allowing for readers to be willing to watch her do some mean things throughout the book as she learned to be a better person. This isn't as great of a like-able moment as Katy's from Obsidian because dying is something that happened to Sam, where in Obsidian Katy chose to eat the eggs, but it still worked. Your like-able moment will be stronger if your character actively makes a choice to do something your reader will sympathize with.

3. Description to set the scene - Let your reader know when and where they are. Your reader is being introduced to your book's world in chapter one, so be sure to give them enough details to picture it. Poor descriptions can leave your reader feeling confused or irritated that something wasn't as they imagined it. This is especially important for books that aren't set in a conventional modern day world.

In The Selection, Kiera Cass does a good job setting the scene for America's dystopian world. You know by the fist paragraph that America's family has had a hard time, by the first page that she feels crowded in her own home, and by the end of the first chapter you have a basic understanding of the caste system and that while America's world looks a lot like our own there are some big differences in her society.

For me, the best first chapters have all three of these "must-have's". Only including one or two can leave you with a lack-luster first chapter. Big Little Lies, for example, opens with a flash-forward scene showing a glimpse of the book's dramatic conclusion. It meets "must-have" number one, by opening with an interesting scene that leaves the reader with a question to be answered, and it meets "must-have" number three with some nice scene building. But because the POV is not that of one of the main characters it's unable to meet "must-have" number two and leaves the reader unable to connect with any of the main characters. This was one of my least favorite first chapters.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also like: 5 Reasons Readers Put Books Down

What books do you think had the best or worst first chapters?

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Author Interview with Missy De Graff

Today I have an author interview with Missy De Graff to share. Her debut novel, The Rogue’s Fate, is scheduled to be released Fall 2017. The Rogue's walks the line between an urban fantasy and paranormal romance and will appeal to the older YA and Adult crowds.

Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi, I’m Missy! I’m so excited to be here, Lauryn thank you so much for having me. A little bit about me…I have a degree in Criminal Justice, a career in Program Management, and I dabble in herbalism. I live in a little slice of heaven at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains with a pond, an heirloom apple orchard, and honeybee hives (unfortunately we lost our hives this season, but hopefully we will have more hives again in the future). We have a Mountain Cur (dog), two indoor cats, and eight barn cats. I enjoy a variety of activities, which obviously include reading, writing, and daydreaming. I enjoy weaving together fantasy worlds of romance and intrigue, mixed with paranormal elements, suspenseful storylines, and addicting characters. But a perfect day to me is spending time with my husband and son, laughing and enjoying the little things in life.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? 
I was telling a good friend of mine of an idea I had about the creation of vampires. And she was like “OOOOOO, YES! You need to write a book about it!” And, that’s the first time I ever actually thought about writing a book. From then, anytime I had the spark of an idea however big or small, I’d write it down.

Have events or people in your life ever inspired scenes or characters in any of your books? 
Well, since I write about paranormal creatures–no. Real-life people, nor events have inspired my scenes or characters, lol. But, the emotional responses to situations I put my characters through, may have been influenced by real life.

What is your favorite underappreciated novel? 
That is a hard one. I have several favorite books that are by indie authors and are underappreciated. I guess the first one that comes to mind is the Sweet Series by Bailey Ardisone. (If you haven’t read it and you enjoy Elves, you should totally check it out!)

What is your favorite/most frustrating part of the writing or publishing process? 
My favorite process is the brainstorming, plotting, and outlining. I love throwing curve balls at my characters and seeing what they do with it. The most frustrating part are the revising and editing rounds! 

Tell us about your main character. 
Lucinda Mae Ravin is a rogue wolf shifter, meaning she wanders alone with no pack allegiance. She is strong-willed, resilient, and compassionate. Life has thrown so much at her, and she may stumble, but she doesn’t falter. Her life motto is:

I bend with the hurricane when the wind blows.

I stand as solid as a brick wall when the waves come crashing down.

I am strong.

How did you pick your character names? 
I try to pick my characters names for a specific reason, such as the meaning of the name. Lucinda, the main character, her name means Light. And Caiden, the male lead, his name means Battle. In picking Lucinda’s name, I also wanted a name that had multiple nicknames. Lucinda has two nicknames-Lux and Cinda-one representing different periods of her life.

Do you have a favorite scene in the last book you wrote? Tell us about it. 
I can’t say too much about it without giving away spoilers, so I’ll just say favorite scene is when the big bad Alpha drops his shield and we see his vulnerability.

What’s something you had to edit out of your last book? 
I tend to write on the shorter side vs the longer side. While most Authors need to cut down their word count after their first draft, I need to bump it up. I like action. So, during my first draft, I often skip through the finer details and write only the action and dialogue parts. So, during the first round of revision, I need to add all the detail. And as far as editing...there are a few words and phrases I tend to use a lot that needs to be edited out, such as smirks, snarl, flaring nostrils, and clenched jaw to name just a few.

What are you currently working on? 
I’m currently in the first round of revisions for The Alpha’s Secret, which is the second book in The Raven Chronicles. And then I’ll dive straight into drafting the third book, The Witch’s Betrayal.

What kind of books do you read in your free time? 
I read an assortment of books to include YA, NA, and Adult. I love the fantasy genre, which include all of its sub-genres, I also enjoy Historical Fiction, and of course select Romance sub-genres, especially Paranormal Romance.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers? 
Reach for the stars, but also keep your feet firmly planted on the ground. Believe in yourself and just keep reading and writing. The more you read and write, the better you’ll get. And most importantly...Never give up!!!

About the Book:
If your life hung in the balance, would you choose to make your own destiny or leave your life to fate?

Lucinda Raven is being hunted by her ex-lover, a controlling rogue Alpha, who is determined to perform the sacred mating ritual that will bind them together forever. Knowing nothing will keep him from carrying out his ruthless plan, Lucinda is on the run and seeks refuge in the territory of an old friend.

Caidan Moone, cursed Alpha of the Blood Moone Pack, has a tortured history that haunts him daily. He sees the arrival of this beautiful and alluring nomad as a chance at redemption from his prior failures and invites her to stay, despite the danger it brings to the entire pack.

As Caidan and Lucinda grow closer, her two worlds collide and Lucinda must face the events of her dark past in order to save the future. Will Caidan be able to protect her without sacrificing his pack? Or will she end up bearing the mark of her psychotic ex?

Social Media links:
Twitter: @dream_craziness

Indie Book Goal 2018