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Wolfhounds, Holidays, and Weird Dreams: An Interview with Frances Amati

March 2, 2020 by in category Jann says . . . tagged as , , , ,

Today we’re chatting with Frances Amati and learning how wolfhounds, holidays, and weird dreams work into a journey to publications.

Frances Amati and her dog

Frances Amati writes fantasy/paranormal and contemporary romance. A member of the Orange County Chapter of Romance Writers of America, she has been a finalist twice in the prestigious Orange Rose Contest and three times in the California Dreaming Conference’s Hooker Contest. Her first short story, Heart Hound, was published in the OCC-RWA Anthology Romancing the Pages. 

Her debut novel, The Christmas Present, the first installment in her contemporary Holiday Hearts Series released November 29th, 2019 and is available in Kindle or print-on-demand on Amazon. The first of her fantasy/paranormal series is slated for release in spring of 2020. You can find her at www.francesamati.com or on Facebook at @FCAmati.

A full time Senior Property Manager for a real estate services firm, this mother of three grown children and “Nonna” to five darling grandchildren, keeps her sanity with large doses of humor and frequent reality checks administered by her Irish Wolfhounds. Her close-knit family inspires not only many of her characters but is an integral part of the support system that keeps her afloat in windswept ocean of activity. An avid traveler with various hobbies, Frances currently resides in Huntington Beach, California with her seventeen-month-old Irish Wolfhounds puppies, Valhalla and Valkyrie, who remind her that love is what we make it.

Jann: Tell us about your journey to publication.

Frances: I wouldn’t be a published author without my son, Evan and my Irish Wolfhound, Handsome. But that’s not really the place to start. I’ve always been close to my kids—and humor is a huge part of that. Thus my “dream” life is a running joke in my family. The narrative is “Don’t tell us you had a weird dream. Just tell us you had a dream; we’ll know it’s weird.” Stories, whether in dreams or daydreams, have always been a part of me. So, when my son Evan was preparing to leave for university, he threw me a challenge. “I’ll go to college and while I’m gone this year, you should write a book.” More, I think, to keep me out of his hair than anything else.

Through Handsome, I had met Alexis Montgomery. We were becoming good friends and spending considerable time together as she mentored me in the ways of wolfhounds. Laughingly, I recounted Evan’s challenge and she latched on like a moral eel. I hadn’t known she was a writer. She invited me to a meeting of her writing “group.” To be honest, that first time I didn’t know what I was attending, or even what OCC or RWA were. That was 2010 and I never looked back.

When OCC put out the call for short stories to be published in a fund-raising anthology, Alexis and Janis Thereault, my other new writing pal, encouraged me to submit—so I did. Heart Hound was selected and published in Romancing the Pages. I was excited, but also at a loss. Growing up in a blue-collar home where creative arts were considered fanciful pastimes, I had to get past my own limiters. The success of being selected threw me because I felt untrained and unprepared. A situation utterly “at odds” with my natural tendencies to always be prepared. But Alexis and Janis encouraged me so I started writing. So much so, that I now have bits and pieces of so many different stories tucked into journals all over my house. But I needed to learn.

I was heavy on craft sessions at conferences and meetings—and I went to plenty of them. I took a writing class with Louella Nelson. There is just so much to learn and everyone is always pushing more at you. Honestly, it was almost so overwhelming I thought I’d never get anywhere. Plus, you’re in the ring with talented people who have degrees in fields designed for this pathway. But the OCC motto kept popping up—and I kept on going. Not to mention I think Alexis would have dragged me back in chains if I tried to walk away. But that is what good friends do for you.

The one thing I repeatedly took away from meetings and conferences was to have a stockpile of material to release systematically over time when you were getting started. By then, I felt that my path was going to be through self-publication. Thus, my stockpiling commenced, but it is slow going. My day job is time consuming, eating up anywhere from forty-five to sixty or more hours a week. That ties right in with my mortgage holder who, for some strange reason, really likes my house payment on time. And let’s not forget those Irish Wolfhounds—someone has to keep them in the royal pampered style to which they have become accustomed.

The Christmas Present (TCP) is the first installment in the Holiday Hearts Series and my very first self-publication (Thank you Amazon!). I have two books written in my fantasy series that are in the editing process now. I also have a series of children’s books called The Adventures of Handsome and Marlo in the works. They are about a wolfhound and his new friend, Marlo, a mouse. And yes, Handsome is very much based on my wolfhound of the same name. I’m looking for an illustrator for those as they are destined for picture books. I am excited to continue down the road in front of me. If there is one thing to take away from this interview, it is that dreams are never too old or too dead to be revived and lived.

Jann: Your debut contemporary romance novel released on November 29, 2019—The Christmas Present. How did that feel?


Frances: How did it feel? So often things in my life have ended up being anti-climactic. This was not one of those times—even though I feared it might be. It was amazing!

Throughout the process, but monumentally more as I neared the end, was the trepidation that the long haul of writing, editing, along with all the details and prep of publishing would overshadow the actual accomplishment. However, when I hit that “Publish” button on KDP my heart leapt into my throat. This was REAL and happening NOW. There I was, sitting at my dining room table, sending texts to my family, my critique partners and close friends; all the while I kept glancing at my laptop screen thinking “I did THAT.” Even now, when I look at the Amazon page or a print copy, I almost can’t believe it. But what has made this experience even more amazing is the support and feedback I have received. So many people have given me unsolicited and wonderful feedback. People I respect professionally and whose praise is all the more meaningful because it isn’t easily earned. It beats back that little demon of self-doubt who likes to beat me up.

Jann: Let’s talk about The Christmas Present, Book One in the Holiday Hearts Series. Who are these two amazing characters, nature photographer, Alexandria Marsh and playboy Declan Ruaidhri? How do they find their HEA?

Frances: Originally, this was supposed to be a novella for publication in a Holiday anthology with my critique partners, Alexis Montgomery and Janis Thereault. But somewhere along our planning curve all three stories diverged to different life paths. TCP was actually written four years ago. I pitched it to a few houses at different conferences, and it was requested several times. But it’s not a typical holiday story and honestly, I wasn’t thrilled about putting it with a house—it didn’t fit the “profile” and I wasn’t willing to make the significant changes to storyline. To me, no matter your beliefs, Christmas is about faith and the grace of forgiveness.

In The Christmas Present, Alexandria and Declan must renew their faith in themselves and allow the grace of forgiveness to free them from the past. To not live in the present can be a serious detriment to one’s happiness. The weight of past baggage can drown you in a sea of regret and worry. Alexandria carries a burden born from her strong protective tendencies, and to find the solution she must forgive her own choices, own them and have faith in herself and her family. Declan’s encumbrance is wounded pride and family duty. Each sees the other’s problems more clearly than their own. In seeking to assist one another, they find the blessings of solving their own internal issues. Finding love along the way never hurts.

Jann: How many books are you planning for this series and when do you plan for Book Two to be available?

Frances: While all the books will have characters in common, each novel stands alone and is based on a different holiday. Currently, I have four additional stories plotted out around Valentine’s Day, Easter, Independence Day and Thanksgiving. So, a total of five. Every story resonates with a different “theme” related to its holiday association. For example, Easter, to me, is a time of hope and re-birth—which is part of both the hero and heroine’s journey in this story. I anticipate that Book 2 will be released early in the summer of 2020.

Jann: You also have a fantasy/paranormal series to coming out this year. What can you share with us today about the series?

Frances: In my mind, this series is where creation and the big bang meet. I haven’t finalized the series name yet, nor the titles of the first two books, which are complete. Part of the backstory is that the original solar system of the universe is peopled by super beings. Since the beginning they have watched over developing worlds, protecting them from the dark forces of the cosmos. But the fight between good and evil, dark and light, has gone on since the creation of the universe. This fight has taken its toll on the protectors and twelve of the most powerful warriors in the universe have been entombed—alive but in a state of crystalline stasis. They can only be awoken by another of their kind. The hunt is on for the mysterious thirteenth—the lost offspring of one of the warriors—who may be hidden here on Earth. Or maybe it was on Andar, or that other planet? The search for the missing warrior takes a rogue crew of hunky aliens into the heart of danger, and the peril of losing their hearts.

Jann: For our lovers of animals, introduce us to your Irish Wolfhounds.

Frances: You may be sorry you asked me this one. LOL. My Irish Wolfhound story is magical in my eyes, and without this journey I would not be an author today. I have always loved to read. As a child it was an escape from the life I was born to. When I was eight or nine, I read a story with a girl who had a wolfhound. He was her best friend, her protector, and the one who loved her above all others. I told my mother I wanted one. Not being an animal person, she said no, not only to a wolfhound, but to any pets. Mind you, I actually had no idea what they looked like—there was no internet back then. I only knew they were huge and loved you to no end.

Time passed, I grew up, left home, married and had a family. Like so many childhood dreams thoughts of an Irish Wolfhound fell to the wayside. Years passed, my children were adults, I was divorced and living alone. My heart reminded me of my childhood dream—and now we have the internet. Photos of majestic hounds called to me like nothing ever had in my life. I found referrals from the National Club website and spoke to a woman who referred me to Alexis Montgomery, president of the Southern California Irish Wolfhound Club. Although not a breeder for profit, she knew many people in the wolfhound community and invited me over to meet her. In hindsight, I think it was more of an interview to see if I was worthy of consideration.

It was May of 2009 when Alexis met me at her front gate with her female, Wunjo and Wunjo’s two one-year old male puppies, Bear and Handsome. All three dogs welcomed me warmly. When Alexis invited me in to sit and talk Irish Wolfhounds, Wunjo and Bear wandered off around the yard. But Handsome followed me into the house. When I sat down on the loveseat he jumped up beside me and using his paw, pulled me up against his chest. For perspective, I am 5’9” and when I sat next to him, my head barely reached his neck. He was a big boy who bent and licked my face before laying his head on top of mine and cuddling me against his chest. I fell in love that very moment. But as he was Alexis’s dog, with a show career and breeding plans laid out in front of him, I knew I could only love him from afar.

Alexis was true to her word. Welcoming me into the IW community, she put me in touch with responsible breeders and I was on the waitlist. She invited me to the Irish Fair, fun matches and countless events and walks. Then one day when we were going to take Bear and Handsome for a walk on the beach, she dropped the bomb on me. “I know you want a puppy, but would you consider taking Handsome?” I don’t cry easily, but in that moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion and could barely speak, much less function.

I couldn’t believe my ears. But she laid it out clear enough. I still remember the hitch in her voice. “That damn dog is so in love with you, he isn’t happy unless he is with you.” His happiness was paramount to her. So finally, five months after our “meet-cute”, Handsome came home to be my forever heart hound. My heart was full. Or so I thought. That was October of 2009. Two years later, Phira, a female from Bear’s litter joined us and we were a pack of three.

I lost Handsome in April of 2015 and I still cry over him. Phira crossed over in February of 2018. I will mourn them always. But life moves on and in September 2018, one of Bear’s granddaughters, Jaegar gave birth. Having asked her to give me a boy, she naturally had all females: Valhalla and Valkyrie. I was only planning on one and Hala came home in December 2018, but Valkyrie joined our family in July of 2019. The sisters love each other and are boon companions. Being the same age and closely bonded they are a handful, but worth every moment.

Hala is a wheaten with black tips and Valkyrie is a gray brindle. But those aren’t the only differences. Hala is a goof—she makes funny faces and is an absolute gladiator at play. Affection and loyal, but very independent. She adores my six-year-old grand-daughter, Evelyn, and I have found them curled up together on the dog bed more times than I can count.

Valkyrie is an absolute cuddle-bug. She will curl up in your lap—she makes herself fit—for hours if you are willing. But make no mistake, this little girl can gladiate with the best of them. And willful…I think her picture is next to the word in the dictionary.

Right now, they are around 130 pounds at seventeen months of age. They still have some growing to do. But both are clever, strong and determined—like my heroines. They are a big part of my life, so naturally they will find their way into my written world.

Jann: What’s your favorite movie?

Frances: This one is easier than it used to be. I Am Dragon. It’s a Russian movie I found a year or two ago. I don’t normally care to have the television on while I am working, but for some reason I wanted something on in the background. I figured a movie in Russian would do the trick. I don’t remember what I had intended to do, but I never got to it. I was enthralled. The cinematography and music are so incredibly beautiful. And the story! The courage to love against all odds. Loving enough to sacrifice for the benefit of one you love. I bought it and have watched it probably fifty times. There is something about it that just grabs me in a most visceral way.

Jann: If a spaceship landed in your backyard and the aliens on board offered to take you for a ride, would you go? Why or why not?

Frances: Oh, yes. I have wanted to go into space as long as I could remember. To move through the cosmos, to see a nebular cloud, experience other worlds, a trip around the sun. It would be amazing. Well, at least as long as I wasn’t on the menu for dinner. Hopefully, when they show up I will either be between wolfhounds or able to take them with me. LOL

Jann: What’s the best writing advice you ever received? What’s the worst?

Frances: The best? Never quit. Simple. Easy. Straight forward. The worst? “The rule is….” Every great book I’ve ever read breaks one rule or another. Rules box you in, limit you. You have to produce a great product—that is the end game. But there has to be room for creativity and play. Once, while I was still a newbie at my day job, I asked a previous supervisor about a form to complete this mundane task. She responded that she didn’t particularly like to be in a box. I agreed—I don’t want to live in a box either. But I do believe we have to know where the box is and how it functions so we can effectively live outside it.


Frances Amati’s Books

ROMANCING THE PAGES

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ROMANCING THE PAGES

THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT

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THE CHRISTMAS PRESENT

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Once Upon an Enchanted Forest

September 16, 2019 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , , , ,

Including stories from Award-Winning, New York Times, and USA Today Bestselling Authors

The autumnal equinox is a celestial event that brings together harvest and celebration, symbolizes magick and transformation, and welcomes a balance of light and darkness. It’s a time when those who honor the changing seasons rest and reflect.

Or reap what they’ve sown.

Once Upon an Enchanted Forest, a collection of adult fantasy romances, features ten novelettes centered around one of the most enchanting preternatural beings of the ages: the witch. With lovers, magical forests, and witchcraft, our stories are sure to warm your nights and your dark little heart.

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About our collection:

  • In the aftermath of a deadly Harvest Moon festival, the valley’s Witch Collector and a voiceless diviner venture into Frostwater Wood—a forest transformed into a dangerous, ever-changing maze—in hopes of saving their king from certain death.
  • Desperate to escape her village, cobbler Rhianne braves the enchanted wood to find the Witch and her matchmaking loom. But when the loom weaves her a highborn match, the Witch flies into a rage that will set Rhianne’s fate on fire.
  • After a drunken man falsely claims his daughter can spin straw into gold, a peasant woman—accused of witchcraft and facing death at the hands of the Mad King—must manage the impossible with no more than a wooden spindle and a prayer—and perhaps the aid of a dashing Fae she never saw coming.
  • In a place called Wolfswood, Rosaline, a talented hunter, must face cursed and deadly creatures on the night of the autumnal equinox if she’s to save her people—and the woman she loves.
  • When a wounded sorcerer infiltrates the boundary protecting her home, Thalia, Queen of the Dryads, must choose whether to trust this foreigner who’s quickly claiming her heart or uproot the seeds of affection growing between them and send him away.
  • After a fatal accident places a village in grave danger, Yula, a young woman with unpredictable magick, is guided by a handsome knight on her quest to find the only person who can help her—the legendary and evil Dark Queen.
  • In a time of war, a witch possessing healing powers, is tasked with saving the life of her wounded king, all while trying not to lose her heart to his brutish right-hand man.
  • A young man struggling with his own identity journeys to a modern-day witch living in a lonely forest garden, and is presented with an unexpected connection and a tantalizing choice.
  • In an enchanted garden deep in the heart of London, the elven scout Tarah guards the portal to her realm, a boring task after so many centuries. But when a dragon awakens in the countryside, searching for his stolen hoard, life becomes anything but mundane—especially when the dragon decides that Tarah might be the greatest treasure of all.

This anthology also includes a new story from the brilliant Juliet Marillier, author of the Sevenwaters Trilogy and many other historical fantasy novels, including Beautiful, an Audible Exclusive, and her coming release, The Harp of Kings.

Now, sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to The Enchanted Forest.


Books in the Once Upon Anthologies Collection

ONCE UPON AN ENCHANTED FOREST

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ONCE UPON AN ENCHANTED FOREST

ONCE UPON THE LONGEST NIGHT

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ONCE UPON THE LONGEST NIGHT
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Write Now! Workshop Podcast by Kitty Bucholtz

August 9, 2019 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz tagged as , , , , , ,
WRITE NOW! Workshop Podcast logo

Anthologies for Writers Groups

An Interview with Marianne H. Donley

Write Now! Workshop Podcast EPISODE 153I

Today’s guest is Marianne H. Donley, a writer who has worked with her writers group to put out several fiction anthologies over the last several years. She uses this experience as an example for her tips and suggestions for you if you’re thinking about getting some writers together and creating an anthology.

There are a lot of pieces and parts to consider if you want to put together a multi-author anthology. It takes far more time than you think it will, especially for whomever edits it. (Unless you hire out an editor, the best editor in your group is going to need to read every story and give notes where appropriate.)

You also will have to cover all the production items within your group, or decide how to pay for hiring it out – editing, cover design, formatting, etc. Someone will have to be in charge of the uploading – and under whose name will that be? That segues into the topic of money – will the costs come from one person or evenly from the group? And how will proceeds from sales be distributed? Or will you offer the book for free?

These are just a small sampling of the many issues Marianne helps us consider as she walks us through the process of creating an anthology. Here are links to some of the things she mentioned:

Bethlehem Writers Roundtable ezine
Submit to the ezine
Short Story Award contest page
Bethlehem Writers Group anthologies

A Slice of Orange
and its bookstore
Request to be an interviewed author

Charmed Writers free Flash Fiction book 

Nothing Found

5-Minute Covers 
(may or may not still be in business)

The Book Designer 
with Joel Friedland

Write Now! Workshop podcasts
(audio only)

Write Now! Workshop YouTube Channel

Books by Kitty Bucholtz

ADVENTURES OF LEWIS AND CLARK BOXED SET

A VERY MERRY SUPERHERO WEDDING

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A VERY MERRY SUPERHERO WEDDING

LITTLE MISS LOVESICK

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LITTLE MISS LOVESICK

LOVE AT THE FLUFF AND FOLD

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LOVE AT THE FLUFF AND FOLD
MY BULLHEADED SUPERHERO VALENTINE

ROMANCING THE PAGES

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ROMANCING THE PAGES

SUPERHERO IN DISGUISE

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SUPERHERO IN DISGUISE

UNEXPECTED SUPERHERO

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UNEXPECTED SUPERHERO
WELCOME TO LOON LAKE
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Once Upon the Longest Night

October 30, 2018 by in category Spotlight tagged as , , ,

Once Upon the Longest Night

 

Once Upon the Longest Night

Published by Once Upon Anthologies, an imprint of Ink House Books

Genre: Paranormal Fantasy Romance

Participating Authors:

Release Date:

12.21.18, the longest night of the year.

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Back cover copy:

The longest night. A vampire’s delight.

The winter solstice, a time of birth and rebirth, life and death, waning light and rising darkness. A time when those who flee the sun and crave the taste of blood find their greatest solace.

But one never knows what the longest night might hold.

Once Upon the Longest Night, a collection of adult paranormal romances, features nine novelettes of lovers and their battles against one of the greatest legends of our time: the vampire. A 15th-century seaman and the love of his life come face to face with a vengeful manjasang. In ancient Rome, a hunted priestess captured by a loyal centurion offers her aid to the enemy. With the help of a handsome Royal courier, a reluctant Romanian princess braves the curse flowing within her noble blood. Danger awaits when a vampire in the far reaches of North Dakota must endure the lethal cold to protect the woman she loves. And in a future New York, a broken general returns home for the Longest Night Ball where he meets a young male witch who might change his life forever.

This anthology combines vampire mythos and affairs of the heart with the sacred symbolism and magic of the winter season.

Sit back and let us tell you a tale. Welcome to the Longest Night.


Story Excerpt:

Blooded

 

Linda Robertson

Bucharest was to be our last stop. Long days and longer nights were spent laying in my cabin’s narrow bed, alone. My body longed to reconvene with my lover, but his company and his conversation were missed as much as his touch. The only consolation was knowing how close Petru was. A thin wall separated us, but in his mind, so did his low birth.

I laid with my hand on that paneling, differentiating the sounds inside the adjacent cabin from the rhythmic rumble of the train. It did not take long to put aside those mechanical sounds and focus on Petru’s breathing. I distinguished his easily from Tarel’s; he slept beside me for over a year.

The train’s forlorn whistle sounded into the night, wailing for me as I suffered my longings alone, isolated and silent. I imagined how much worse it was going to get. When we arrived at Lupenegra, Petru would be much farther away than this.

Eventually, he would find another to make him smile.

That brought me to my feet.

I paced furiously, resenting the very concept of status that he had embraced. My lying mother had done this to him. The evidence was in his mannerisms, his downcast eyes and his rigid stance.

Then I stopped, remembering the snow in Budapest Station. She’s worked so hard to keep the world as she needs it to be, that she doesn’t see or care how ugly everything around her has become.

Adherence to that status concept may have been her myopic restriction, but it did not have to be mine. I was educated. I did not want to be her, and so I would not be. I would make things different. She was not here to demand obedience. She could enforce nothing.

A new plan formed.

We arrived in Bucharest mid-morning,and boarded a carriage that would convey us the rest of the way. Only a few hours remained in our journey. As Petru held the door for me to board the carriage, snow began to fall.

And I could not help smiling. I twirled in that snow and laughed like a little girl.

Tarel, preparing to climb up with the coachman,saw me and stopped. “The solstice is a favorable time to return, is it not, voivodela?”

Due to the rigors of travelling and feeding,I had lost track of days. Considering it, I cheerfully said, “It is. I’ll be home for the longest night of the year.” I put one foot upon the step and rose, but did not climb inside the carriage. Halted there, my smile was replaced with a sober expression. “Tarel?”

“My lady?”

Using a voice full of authority, I said, “Neither you nor Petru will speak to the others of what you know of me. Do you understand?”

Tarel nodded.

I glanced down at Petru. He also nodded. His eyes remained so downcast that I could not even see that wildflower color. Or maybe his eyes were shut.

He had shouldered much during our trip, not the least of which was managing the aftermath of my feeding. Soon, that would end.

“Mulțumesc, Petru. For everything.” I closed my parasol and climbed in.

In all, our journey had taken more than three weeks,but thus it was, that the afternoon of December 21st, a Sunday and the solstice, I arrived home.

The road approaching Castle Lupenegra ran along side the mountain. A blanket of white covered the land, and the bare trees stuck up out of the snow like thousands of pikes guarding the fortress. In the wind, they shook as if menacing us, and the snow they shrugged off made an eerie haze around them. But a moment later, unburdened of snow, the branches of those firs, more verdant than I remembered, bounced as if waving to welcoming me home.

As we made the last turn the snowfall increased, but could not obscure Lupenegra’s gate, slowly opening.

My chest seized and all my thoughts skipped back to that midsummer morning when I pounded my fists at that gate trying to open it.

I shut my eyes and breathed, slow and purposeful. My hands had curled into fists and my spine had stiffened. Mindful, I opened my hands and relaxed my muscles as I released a long sigh. My body gave a jerk when the gates clanged shut behind us.

​There was no escape for me now.


ONCE UPON THE LONGEST NIGHT
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Story Summaries:

Memories of Stone by Elizabeth Vaughan: Ercula is weary, tired of fleeing, considered a monster by the Romans. But the Solstice is sacred to her goddess and she will worship at the forgotten shrine, whatever the risk.

The centurion who captures her has other plans.  @eavwriter

The Lobster Trick by Dan Stout: Jacqueline doesn’t mind her job as an overnight security guard. After all, what’s the worst that could happen at a blood bank? But when an armed group invades the building, Jacqueline is forced into action to save a handsome lab tech… and discovers that his shy smile might hide a shocking secret. @DanStout

Blooded by Linda Robertson: Miriana Jorgeta rejoiced when her distant and cruel mother, the Queen, sent her away from Romania to attend a girl’s school in England. For years, she lived a life so perfect she almost forgot about the duties of her heritage. But curses rarely remain hidden, and soon, with the help of her mother’s royal courier, Miriana must face the truth about what really lurks in her blood. @AuthorLinda

His Last Battle by Sara Dobie Bauer: Suffering from PTSD, vampire general Devlin Frost returns home from the war on Lycans and attends the historic Longest Night Ball. Here, royal witch Elijah Crow must choose three immortal suitors to compete for his love and power. When Devlin is shockingly chosen as one of the three, his immediate attraction to the young witch coaxes him into entering the fray, but this battle is for more than Elijah’s love. The broken general might also win back his ruined heart and bruised soul—if he survives the night.  @saradobie

Silver Heart by Charissa Weaks: 15th Century Italy. After a decade at sea and with an inheritance in hand, Cristiano Del Valle returns to his childhood home of Venezia in search of a new beginning. What he finds on the longest night is an ancient enemy who not only threatens the life he’s long desired but the love he thought he’d lost. @CharissaWeaks

Her Blood to Bind by Alice Black: To escape the vampire who made her, a former dominatrix takes a job in Costa Rica as an English tutor to the children of a wealthy widower. What she discovers is that her new employer is just as dangerous as her pursuer…and twice as tempting. @AliceBlackBooks

Walk with Me by Jodi Henry: After a century of killing her own kind, Arianna Guerri retired to a place no other vampire dare go. In the deadly cold of North Dakota, she built a life for herself, and fell, secretly, in love with her best and only friend. When someone burns the small town,

Arianna must face the mistakes of her past—and her feelings—if she hopes to survive the longest night. @_JL_Henry

Love on the Longest Night by Sybil Ward: Neenah and Robert are searching for true love in the same place for drastically different reasons. Can they find love together on the longest night when they’re trapped by the century’s worst blizzard and one of them is a 300-year-old vampire? @SybilWard

One Night In December by Melinda S. Collins: NYC artist, Micah Price, never believed in vampires or immortality. But after a year of researching Daniel Savoy, her family’s enigmatic annual houseguest and the only man she’s ever loved, the options surrounding the truth of his past are slim at best. When a bloody Daniel arrives on Micah’s doorstep, she refuses to leave any stone of the mystery unturned. But accepting that vampires exist is the least of her worries. Because sometimes it’s not the monsters we should fear. It’s what hunts them. @MelindaSCollins


 

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Judging a Book by Its Cover

August 21, 2017 by in category Guest Posts tagged as , , , ,

It’s a saying we learn as children: Don’t judge a book by its cover. It means, of course, that it’s not what’s on the outside that counts, and we should look within to discover the true meaning and worth of an object or a person. It’s an excellent lesson, made more memorable because of the catchy phrase we associate with it.

As we apply that to sage advice to many things, though, do we follow it literally? Most of us do exactly the opposite when it comes to actual books.

A book’s cover can tell us many things: the genre, the age group that is the target audience, and even how professionally the book has been produced. Take these two anthologies for example:  Once Upon a Time: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for All Ages, and Day of the Dark: Stories of Eclipse.

Certainly the titles and subtitles give us some clue as to genre and target audience, which is good since not every communication about a book comes with a cover image. But, as another old adage reminds us, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so the cover design has a greater impact than the title on our first impressions of a book. The two book covers for these anthologies are:

Judging a Book by Its Cover | Carol L. Wright | A Slice of Orange
These two covers elicit very different first impressions. The former (Once Upon a Time) is colorful, magical, and a bit whimsical. The font has a fairy tale feel. One would not have any qualms about picking it up and handing it to a child to leaf through. It invites children and adults into a world of imagination.

The latter cover (Day of the Dark) is mysterious, and bit foreboding. Looking at this cover, you would not expect it to be the reminiscences of people who have viewed an actual eclipse, despite its title. No—this cover tells us these stories are apt to be a bit darker. The color and font used for the subtitle, Stories of Eclipse, reinforces that impression. This book doesn’t reach out to a children’s audience the way the castle and happy dragon do on Once Upon a Time.

The same is true for books within the same genre. My new mystery, Death in Glenville Falls, has a cover that should tell you something about what might lie behind it:

Judging a Book by Its Cover | Carol L. Wright | A Slice of Orange

The colors are warm and inviting, and the scene charming. There’s even a cat. This idyllic scene might make you think of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. But there is clearly a sinister element afoot, for what foul force would result in the stabbed book in the foreground? This cover tells you that there is a mystery inside, but it falls within the traditional/cozy side of the genre. It might keep you up at night because you want to keep reading, but it probably won’t give you nightmares.

On the other hand, my friend Geoffrey Mehl has a book, Nine Lives, that also falls within the mystery genre. With a title like that, it could be the story of the cat on the cover of my mystery, but his cover looks like this:

Judging a Book by Its Cover | Carol L Wright | A Slice of Orange

The sinister element is certainly there—silhouettes of people holding guns—but none of the reassuring, small-town charm balances it. Instead, we see computer code streaming behind them. This is clearly an edgier, suspense novel—and probably one having to do with computer data.

The same can be true, even for books with similar titles—only the cover tells us whether it’s one we’ll want to pick up and read more about or not.  Take, for example, the books The Vampire’s Prisoner and Vampire King. Both titles suggest a powerful vampire is at work within the pages of the novel, but the covers give very different impressions. Look at:

Judging a Book by Its Cover | Carol L. Wright | A Slice of Orange
The two offer very different kinds of chills.

Selecting a cover is often solely left to the discretion of the publisher, but for independent or hybrid publishers, authors have more control over how their books will look. It’s important to bear in mind that the cover image and cover design are truly the potential reader’s first impression of your work. If the cover looks amateurish, the assumption will be that the contents are, too. If, however, your cover grabs the readers’ curiosity, they are more apt to pick up the book, turn it over, and read more about it. If the back cover copy confirms what the cover promises, they might then turn to read the first page. And if they like what they see there, you might well have made a sale.

And all because they have judged your book by its cover.

Carol 


Carol L WrightCarol L. Wright is a former book editor, domestic relations attorney, and adjunct professor. She is the author of articles and one book on law-related subjects. Now focused on fiction, she has several short stories in literary journals and award-winning anthologies. Death in Glenville Falls is her first novel.

She is a founding member of the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC, is a life member of both Sisters in Crime and the Jane Austen Society of North America, and a member of SinC Guppies, PennWriters, and the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group.

Raised in Massachusetts, she is married to her college sweetheart. They now live in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania with their rescue dog, Mr. Darcy, and a clowder of cats—including one named Dickens.

You can follow her Facebook page or learn more on her website.



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