Ever wonder how a story is born? My most recent guest post by author Roxanne Bland tells how her books started years before she ever wrote them.
The Moreva of Astoreth, a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure, has its roots in a game a friend and I played in college. We collaborated on a story, taking turns. I don’t recall the details—it was more years ago than I care to remember—but it went something like this. A woman, the daughter of a king, is exiled from her homeland in the desert because she refused to marry a man the king had picked out for her. She travels north. After many adventures, she arrives at a village willing to take her in. The village chieftain is enamored of her, but does not want his people to know since she’s a stranger. The woman genuinely dislikes him. After being at each other’s throats for a period of time, the woman falls in love with him. The chieftain confesses his feelings. They marry.
Meanwhile, the woman’s father, feeling remorseful for exiling his daughter, gathers his army to go look for her. They wander from village to village, searching, but they do not find her. Concluding that his daughter must have headed north, turns in that direction. Still, they do not find her. Frustrated now, the king begins laying waste to every village he and his army come across. Finally, they arrive at the village where the woman is living. The king demands his daughter return with him. She refuses, telling him she is now married and happy. Her father threatens war. The chieftain accepts his challenge, and the war begins. The story concludes with both the woman and the chieftain being killed in the fighting.
Not a very happy ending, is it?
Years later, I read Zecharia Sitchin’s Earth Chronicles series. He posits that ancient astronauts—the Annunaki—from the planet Nibiru in our solar system came to Earth looking for gold. While here, they created humans to use as workers, and founded the Sumerian civilization. Sitchin has his loyal adherents, and his scholarly detractors. But whether one believes it or not, it’s quite a tale. I’m not a believer, but I was fascinated by the story.
More years pass. One day, I was sitting in my office, stuck in a novel I was writing. I couldn’t figure out what to do next. Trying to get going again, I started playing the “what if” game. “What if he does this? What if she does that?” The sort of game authors—at least this author—plays. It wasn’t working. Annoyed, I leaned back in my chair and let my mind wander. It wasn’t long before I started reminiscing about my college days, specifically my friend, and the story we’d written. My mind wandered some more. I started thinking about Sitchin’s works. While ruminating over it, an idea came to me. What if I melded the two stories in some way? What if, what if, what if…?
And then, like Athena from Zeus’s head, the story’s outline came to me, fully formed. Which is an interesting development, since I’m a pantser—I write by the “seat of my pants,” that is, the plot takes form while I write—and not a plotter. Filing the outline away for future use, I took up my work-in-progress again. But I couldn’t get on with it. The outline I’d created kept knocking at my brain, until it was interfering with my work-in-progress. So I put it aside and started writing The Moreva of Astoreth.
Now here’s the funny part. I’d planned the story to take place in the spring of the planetary year. But the characters took over (they do that sometimes). And then I was a pantser again. I was working the way I usually work—I saw the “movie” in my head, and I just wrote down the events. So I ended up with a story that takes place over the course of a year, which made for a pretty big book. Still, the tale is a good one—I like to think so, anyway—and I had a lot of fun writing it.
And that, dear reader, is how the Moreva of Astoreth came to be.
Bio: Roxanne Bland grew up in Washington, D.C., where she discovered strange and wonderful new worlds through her local library and bookstores. These and other life experiences have convinced her that reality is highly overrated.
The pleasure and pain of fictional death.
How do you feel about killing off characters? Be it book, movie, or show, there is always so much perverse pleasure from a well-deserved and gruesome death of an evil character, and beautiful sorrow in the death of a character we love. We love the emotion; the turmoil and angst. Shows like the Walking Dead and Game of Thrones depend on the tension derived from the sense that no one is safe. Any character could die at any moment. We're biting our nails. We're clenching our tissues. We're clasping our hands with gleeful anticipation. Who is going to be next? And perhaps more importantly, how are they going to meet their end?
I am a happy ending kind of girl, but I have to admit, the death of a much-loved character wrenches emotions from my soul in a way that is both terrible and wonderful at the same time.
You'll find some of the most creative deaths by Dystopian, Post Apocalyptic, and Sci fi writers. They are diabolically ingenious.
Particularly when it comes to thinking up ways to kill off their characters.
A few of my author friends in the Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans were recently asked:
What is the most gruesome way you've ever killed off a character in your book?
Here are a few of their answers. WARNING: Some answers are quite graphic, proceed at your own risk.
Which answer is your favorite? I'm going to keep collecting answers until I get to 101, so check back or add your own in the comments and I'll include them!
Thanks to all the beautiful authors whose words have been my therapy and my inspiration, that have driven me to laugh, cry, and filled my heart over the years.
And you, dear readers, who step into our minds and hearts through our works and give us a reason to keep writing.
Since I could first hold a pencil, I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. Stories of all kinds filled my head. I'd be creating fantasy worlds during long church sermons, when I couldn't sleep at night, on the bus ride home, and any time I had moments to myself.
I read voraciously, and was quite young when I started stealing my mom's smutty romance novels. I'd have to hide them under my mattress, because my parents deemed them inappropriate for a child of my age (and probably rightly so!).
I loved books. All books. Reading has been my favorite pass-time, my personal escape, and the key to worlds I could never imagine or might never visit.
In college, I put away my dreams of being a writer, focusing on more practical careers options that have led me to my current career in marketing. However, the dream of being a writer always lingered. Last year, after working with indie authors on a research project for work, my husband encouraged me to do the ultimate research about being an indie author and become one myself.
I took up the challenge, and on July of 2015, I published my first book, dystopian romance REAPER.
The life of a writer is full of ups and downs; of hating my work and the exhilaration of a great review. Of days spent deleting text I'd just written, and other days pounding out chapters I'm excited to share.
Authorship is still more of a hobby than a career for me, but it has gotten into my blood, like heroin, and I need it now. I can't stop thinking about it, and looking for stolen moments to get high on my drug of choice, tucked in the corner of my living room on my laptop, creating the worlds and weaving words that have always lived in my head, and are now begging to get out.
Thanks to the authors who've inspired me, the indies who struggle alongside me, and the most of all, the READERS who voraciously devour the beloved words we've put to paper.
Happy National Author Day!
Welcome to this page of the Zombie Crawl!
Don't forget to enter my GIVEAWAY by telling me your favorite Zombie book or movie in the comments and filling out the entry form! (Details at the end of the post)
If you're here, it is probably because you share my obsession: you love anything apocalypse, post apocalypse, or dystopian. And what better apocalypse than a Zombie Apocalypse?
Have you ever wondered why so many adore the mindless, gory, shambling flesh-eaters? Why do we love Zombies so much, in literature, film, and on Halloween?
Below are the 10 reasons I believe Zombies hold such a special place in our hearts, even though theirs may not still be beating. In no particular order...
10 Reasons We Love Zombies:
1. Terrifyingly impossible.
Attacks from terrorist, catastrophic natural disasters, and the slow destruction of our natural world… These are all terrifyingly real things that threaten mankind. But Zombies? They’re just pure entertainment without the genuine fear that comes with these other apocalyptic scenarios.
We all logically know a Zombie Apocalypse is a scientific impossibility. Don’t just take my word for it. Cracked wrote an entire article about the scientific reasons that a Zombie Apocalypse would fail.
I’ll summarize for you:
While books like Max Brook’s World War Z (which was made into a much-less convincing movie) might make the impossible sound probable, we all are quite aware of how unlikely a Zombie apocalypse really is. Which is why we can enjoy our Zombies, Undead, Walking Dead, Lexers, or whatever we’re calling them today, without an uncomfortable underlying fear that hey, this might actually be mankind’s fate in the near future…
2. Killing them is guilt-free.
As an author, it is my job to make sure the bad guys or girls are really bad, so when I off them in the end, we can all cheer together. But often, we still feel a bit of uncomfortable pity or guilt for the death of another human being (and least I hope you do, you sociopath, you). Zombies remove this guilt, because they are already dead.
We can all cheer on the machete-wielding, crossbow bearing survivors that are madly stabbing, decapitating, or shooting the undead. Did he just stab a child? It is ok, because he was actually helping to free her from the horrible fate of zombieism. It is sad, it is terrible, but we can comfort ourselves with the knowledge that they really aren’t killing sentient beings, but rather an already-dead monster.
No guilt, no sorrow, but plenty of gore. Booya, motherf*cker.
3. Society gets the punishment they deserve.
How many times have we seen people doing shitty things that we pray karma will pay them back for? Like that jerk who cut you off on the freeway, or the asshole who treated you poorly at work, or the really bad server at the restaurant who you’re pretty sure spit in your food, and maybe even urinated in your soup.
What better punishment for a entitled, ungrateful society than ZOMBIES. It is basically karma for our destruction of other species, our planet, and crappy driving habits.
4. Zombies give us an enemy to fight.
In many apocalyptic scenarios, like a natural disaster or the disappearance of natural resources or a nuclear holocaust, we don’t have anything to fight except nature. And there is only so much running from flood waters or shaking with fear while a earthquake destroys entire continents that is entertaining. We like to have a clear enemy to face. In a Zombie Apocalypse, the 'bad guys' are all around, and killing them is guilt-free (See #1 above).
Zombies are the perfect enemy because they are mindless, non-sentient beings to decimate without remorse. They are also terrifying, disgusting, and just dangerous enough to keep us biting our nails in anticipation of the next surge that will always, ALWAYS appear unannounced at the most inopportune moment.
Thank you, Zombies, for stepping up and being the enemy horror fans really need.
5. The great equalizer.
At the end of the world, we’re all equal. It doesn’t matter what kind of sports car you drive, or how big your mansion, or what brand of clothing you’re wearing (unless it is Kevlar, and then you might have an advantage). We’re all at risk for a bite, and nobody gives a shit about your money; it is basically fire kindling at that point.
The only people with an advantage are people with guns, survival skills, or a secret bunker underground equipped for years. (Since apparently the undead do not decay. Ever.) And even these folks usually meet a bad end. No one is safe. No one is superior. In the event of a Zombie apocalypse, we’re truly all equal in the eyes of the hungry hoards. They’ll eat anything.
6. Gore, gore, and (I can’t look away!) more gore.
It’s the train-wreck phenomenon. We hate to see the horror, but we can’t look away. Something about humanity is fascinated by terrible things happening to others. Perhaps we feel better knowing it wasn’t us. Perhaps we need the pure emotional response that comes from viewing tragedy. Or perhaps we’re just a really f*cked up race… Whatever the case, something about gore, violence, and tragedy calls to us on an emotional level that we just can’t look away.
Zombies give us the gore and horror in buckets. By the mouthful. And at the end of a machete. So get your eyeful, and rest easy knowing it was all stage-makeup and superior acting.
7. Zombie apocalypse breaks past society’s barriers and reveals humanity’s core.
Yeah, I know, now I’m getting a little philosophical for a fun little “listical”. But even the shoot ‘em ups need a moment of gravity.
My favorite part of writing post apocalyptic / dystopian fiction (or whatever the hell we’re calling it these days) is the chance to really consider the human psyche and how we as individuals and as groups will react to such harsh scenario. When faced with tough choices, like kill or be killed, what would a mother do? A sister? A husband? What would I do?
Zombie literature and movies allow us to glimpse the dark or good side of humanity when put to such tests.
At our core, are we all just animals, trying to survive? To procreate? To feed? Or can even the animals the live inside our humanity show love, give mercy, or endure the end of the world?
8. Zombies can be amusing.
At the end of the world, we all need a moment of levity. And if we can’t laugh at the shambling, moaning, and limbless monstrosities, what can we laugh about?
If you've ever seen a Zombie movie or read a book, you already know the scariest thing at the end of the world is OTHER HUMANS, not the undead. So go ahead and giggle a little watching the antics of the walking dead.
9. Zombies never get old.
See what I did there? We never get sick of Zombies, and they also don’t age. Because they’re dead…
Ehem, anyway, Zombies have evolved over the years. We’ve seen the fast running rage zombies, shambling undead, mutated creature zombies, even animated Zombies our children can enjoy. And we’ve loved them all.
10. Zombies make great Halloween costumes.
Do I really need to say more? What is more fun than dressing up (or down), smearing some blood all over ourselves, moaning like a mindless ninny, and wandering aimlessly down the street?
I can’t think of anything else better, either. Enjoy your Halloween!
In the picture to the right you will find a photograph of my 5th grade England teacher and myself at one of my book signings. Miss Bricketto started my love for satire and fiction by assigning books such as "The Ransom Red Chief" and "Cheaper By the Dozen".
After that, I became an avid reader. I love to read most genres, but tend to enjoy a combination of satire and romance best. Novels by Jude Deveraux, Janet Evanovich, and Nora Roberts are a guilty pleasure.
During my divorce in 2005, I found refuge in an anonymous online diary. I was very sarcastic with my entries and developed a very large following. I thought writing a sarcastic book about my experience as a military wife could be very theraputic, and it was. Still Breathing was published in 2007. I knew nothing about publishing, googled companies, and submitted my manuscript to the first company on the list. They responded shortly after. How lucky is that?
Publish America (now American Star Books) were a good experience for me. It didn't cost me anything. They made money off my book and I got a small percentage of the royalties. The only complaint I had was I think they charged my readers too much for the book. But then again, if it were my choice I would probably give them away just to have people read them. I published two more books with Publish America. Before She Was Babci which was a tribute to my grandmother, and Diary of the Dysfunctional.
My recent book, Kissing Frogs : A Modern-Day Fractured Fairy Tale, was by far the most fun to research and write. My greatest satisfaction from doing this book would be to make my readers laugh out loud. Although I wrote the "rules for on-line dating" in a funny way, I would also like for women to keep them in mind if they choose the on-line dating scene. Unfortunately, in my day job, I've seen several women become victims during an on-line encounter. I would never in any way blame the victim, however if a few simple precautionary rules were followed they just might have been able to avoid the assaults. As simple and as much fun as I want this reading experience to be, the social worker in me couldn't help putting in some safety tips.
Kissing Frogs centers on single mom, Ethel Funt's experience getting back into the dating scene via lovebycupid.com. She turns forty at the same time her son leaves for college. It captures her excitement, anxiety and laughable moments as she learns the rules of the pond have changed in the years since she dated and she must kiss many frogs before finding her prince.
I self-published Kissing Frogs via Amazon.com. This way I was able to make the paperback book available for just $8.99. It is also available in Kindle version.
Thanks to author Carys Jones for sharing her writing experiences. Finding the right time and place to write can help you become more productive and creative, but the most important thing? Just sitting down and doing it!
I pretty much write every day. There are of course exceptions but generally I try and stick to my daily routine. I write first thing in the morning as my mind is sharper then. I have daily word targets that I stick to. The targets are scrawled down along with my all my jumbled notes in my assortment of notebooks which are stacked beside my laptop.
The desk where I write is my self-created little corner of heaven. I’ve covered it with all my favourite things; like my Disney ornaments and pictures of my friends. On the walls are more pictures and also all the programs from the ballets I’ve been to with my Mum. I like to surround myself with things that make me happy, so that when I’m writing a particularly intense scene I can always look up and see something that makes me smile : )
I’m very disciplined with my writing as I’ve found that works for me. I set myself deadlines and do my best to stick to them. And I’m never alone when I’m writing. My beloved dog, Rollo, always comes and sits in his little bed of cushions on the other side of my desk.
Sometimes he snores so loud that I lose my train of thought but I love having him with me!
When she's not writing, Carys likes to indulge her inner geek by watching science- fiction films or playing video games.
She lists John Green, Jodi Picoult and Virginia Andrews as her favorite authors and draws inspiration for her own work from anything and everything.
To Carys, there is no greater feeling then when you lose yourself in a great story and it is that feeling of ultimate escapism which she tries to bring to her books.
For more information about Carys you can connect with her in any of these places: visit her website, her blog, find her on Facebook, Goodreads, or follow her on Twitter
It can become very tricky to keep writing into the same series, particularly when you continue following a related plot-line. There were several times I thought I'd written myself into a corner. But then my inventive characters were come up with a solution I would never have imagined, and off we'd go again.
I was very excited to write Vick's story after he played a more major role than I anticipated in Book 2, . He's got some real mommy issues, and is forced to face his twisted past.
And I got to show a softer side to our dear prickly Helen, who's worked so hard throughout our books to remain the upstanding citizen and future Senator of Law.
Marcus, Aerina, Lina, and Jay all continue to play out their stories here, and everyone's favorite evil President returns with some more parenting tips.
I hope you'll give the series a try. Both Romance readers and Dystopian / Post apocalyptic readers have enjoyed the books All the books are on sale on Amazon until Outsider's release date on September 22, so you can grab them all for under $3.
I also have a giveaway going on for anyone who pre-orders Outsider before Sept 22.
If you like your romance with a little heat and a lot of humor, check out her New Adult & Contemporary Romance books on Amazon or visit her website for more buying options.
1. She thinks about sex most of the day so she’s pretty much always ready to go. Let’s face it, for a woman sex is 90% mental, 10% physical. So, when a woman spends all day with sex on the brain it’s unlikely she’ll turn you down when your engine is revving.
2. She’s creative in bed. Romance/erotica is full of all kinds of sex: different positions, locations, and all kinds of kinky fun that you didn’t know you might be into. Believe me, when she reads a spicy scene full of things she hasn’t tried before she’s going to be really curious to give it a whirl in real life. So make sure you’ve limbered up.
3. She won’t mind if you ignore her for a few hours, because she’ll be ignoring you too while she spends time with her book boyfriends.
4. She knows how to talk dirty. I hope you’ve brushed up on your dirty talk because I guarantee she’ll be all over it, and have some filthy things of her own to add. Nobody talks dirtier than a bad boy book boyfriend, and she’s already written her own script in her head of naughty things to say to get you going.
5. She’s a hopeless romantic so even small gestures you make to show you care will mean the world to her. So go ahead, leave a note on the refrigerator that says ‘I love you’ and watch her melt…and then throw her panties at you. You’re welcome ;).
About K.M. Neuhold
I am a contemporary romance author with a love of nerd culture and a passion for writing strong, independent female characters. I am also an avid reader of romance, sci fi, fantasy, and horror. Follow me on Amazon, Facebook, or on my website.
If you'd like to be featured on one of the blogs I manage, please contact me.
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