BLOOD IN THE PAINT May Be LIVE…But There’s Still No Rest for the Weary!

As many of you know, Blood in the Paint was released this past Monday. I regret to say I didn’t announce it with much fanfare, though. I was tired! I was tired of the revisions, the edits, the read-throughs, and the delays. But the e-book is finally available, with the paperback soon to follow, and I wish I could say I was looking forward to some down time.

Despite the following picture, I’m not…


Today I’m heading out to a cabin near Rehoboth Beach, DE to partake in a writing retreat with several ladies from the South Jersey Writers Group. If you remember the last chapter title I mentioned in the Table of Contents Teasers post, you’ll recall that the next book in the Blood for Blood Series will be entitled Blood in the Paper. (You’ll have to read Blood in the Paint to really ‘get’ the title, sorry!) So, that’s what I’ll be working on this weekend! I already drew out some mind maps for each of the main characters, a returning character from Blood in the Past, and a NEW character. I’ve listed the events of the storyline in order using Scrivener’s corkboard tool. AND–this is the most exciting part–I’ve already written the opening scene! Squeee!

I’ve never been on a writing retreat before, but I’m confident I’ll be able to put out a sizable word count. Have any of you been on a retreat like this before? Do you have any tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

And don’t forget, Blood in the Paint is available on Amazon for the Kindle and Kindle app. Download a copy today; it makes a great weekend read!

Jerks & Irks LIX: E-Book Extras?

Last week, I posted several reasons for loving my Kindle. Were any of you wondering if there was anything I didn’t love about my Kindle? Because there’s one tiny thing. Well, I’m assuming it’s a tiny thing because I’ve never heard anyone else complain about it.

What am I rambling about? Allow me to paint a picture for you. I am about to start a new book. I pick one from the TBR list I keep on my phone. I search for the title in my Kindle’s library. I click on the novel I want to read and my Kindle opens to…the first page of the first chapter.

That just drives me batty, guys.

I wanna read the fore-matter, dammit!

I wanna see the cover art again! Especially if it was particularly eye-catching.

I wanna read the list of other books by the author! What if there’s something I’ve heard of, but hadn’t attributed to the author? What if I fall in love with the book and want to read more by the author? Wouldn’t it be helpful to think, “Oh, there’s that list at the front of the book that I can look over!”

I wanna see who the author deemed worthy enough to dedicate the book to! In our current society, where we can follow authors on Facebook and Twitter and get to know them intimately, why wouldn’t I want another peek into the author’s life? Why wouldn’t I want to know who inspires and drives their creativity?

I wanna see the Table of Contents! I want to know how many chapters I’m getting into and what’s waiting for me at the end of my read. An epilogue? A bio? What???

I wanna see any other extras the author decided to include. An introduction or an epigraph, perhaps. These things set the tone for the novel. Don’t deprive me of that!

Why are you robbing me of these things, Kindle? WHY?

Am I crazy? Does anyone else feel this way? Am I the only one who sees the first page of the first chapter pop up, sucks her teeth, and rapidly swipes backward to see everything I missed? Even the damn copyright page? Tell me I’m not alone, guys!


Why I Love My Kindle

I have seen dozens of articles and blog posts professing people’s love of print books. The smell of the binding, the feel of the pages, the general tangibility. But I haven’t really seen a whole lot of screaming from the mountaintops about e-readers, despite them being a growing phenomenon. Maybe it’s time I chime in.


  • I read SO much more now that I have a Kindle. Before I received a Kindle Fire for Christmas two years ago, I read, but not really. I don’t have the space for print books. I don’t have the disposable income to buy them all, even if I did have the space. And the library? They don’t always have what I want to read. When they do acquire a hot bestseller, someone else has borrowed it and I have to conjure up every ounce of patience in my soul to wait for it to be my damn turn to read it. Meanwhile, the first year I had my Kindle I read 75 books. The next year I read 59. That just wouldn’t have been possible without my Kindle.
  • If I finish a book while I’m out I can just start another one. One of my readers commented on my post listing the titles I’m most looking forward to this year. She stated that when she’d read Maze Runner she’d been on vacation and couldn’t get a hold of the next book in the series. I then shared with her the time I sat for jury duty, waiting for hours to see if I would be called. I finished the book I was reading and then promptly started a new one. Time flew by for me. For those who’d finished their newspapers, magazines, and print books? Not so much.
  • I don’t have to travel with a crap-ton of heavy books. Have you read Under the Dome by Stephen King? That thing is well over a thousand pages. Imagine sacrificing space in your purse or suitcase for the print copy of that gigantic tome. Not fun. But when I read it on my Kindle, I could bring it everywhere, without messing up the alignment of my spine.
  • I don’t have to go seek out the books I want. Before my Kindle, if there was something I really wanted to read, I had to go to the bookstore and look for it. If that bookstore didn’t have it, I had to have it ordered so I could pick it up later or go to another location entirely. I could order it myself online, but then I’d have to wait for it to be shipped. What a pain, no? Now, if I read an article about a new release or someone recommends a title to me, I simply pick up my Kindle and search for the damn thing. I can have the whole thing or just the sample in minutes.
  • E-books are cheaper (for the most part). Paperback books are often $10 or so. Hardbacks are normally twice that. Like I said, I just don’t have that kind of money lying around to buy every book I’d want to read. Especially not when its first released. I mean, I just read Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code last year. Why? Because when it came out it was more expensive than I would have liked. Now, are some ebooks still $10 or more? Yes. Stupid traditional publishers still price them that high, despite the low-cost of production, because they have so much overhead to cover. However, since I can read so many other books for far less than $10, I feel fine splurging every now and then on a pricier book.

So, which camp are you in? Pro-print or All-hail-e-reader?



My Fave Reads of 2013

I know I said I didn’t have time for these lists, but that was last year. It’s January and I wanna talk about what I read in 2013, dammit! So let’s go! Here’s the top 15 reads of the year (series are grouped together as one), listed in the order in which they were read:

  1. Divergent & Insurgent by Veronica Roth – I loved Tris Prior’s struggle and spirit and Four soon became one of my favorite male protagonists. This series was last year’s Hunger Games for many, including me. Can’t wait for the movie.
  2. Bone River by Megan Chance – Such an intriguing, beautifully written story. And so well-researched! The twist was a bit predictable to me, but I really enjoyed this one. Bonus: it was a bit outside the box in terms of the genres I usually read.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – This one goes without saying. It started off slow, but once the real story began to take shape, I couldn’t put it down. Others may have disagreed with the ending, but I thought it was perfect. I hope the movie adaptation does it justice.
  4. World War Z by Max Brooks – This is THE most thought-provoking zombie apocalypse novel you’ll ever read. Formatting the book as a government report, written and presented after the war, was unique and added a touch of realism that can’t be found in other stories in this genre. The movie…not so much…but thanks for coming, Brad Pitt.
  5. Under the Dome by Stephen King – This turned out to be one of my favorite reads by Stephen King, even if it was a tome and took me almost a month to finish. All I can say is I live in a small town and now I’m terrified of everyone. Thanks, Steve. The TV series is also enjoyable, thought it has taken many liberties, often straying quite far from the original story.
  6. This Plague of Days (Seasons 1 & 2) by Robert Chazz Chute – Another high-brow zombie tale, but this one takes a look at the survivors in very different way. How can it not when one of the survivors is a teenager on the autism spectrum? I definitely recommend this serialized tale.
  7. The Davinci Code by Dan Brown – I know I’m late to the party on this one, but it was absolutely brilliant and it made my list. Don’t judge me. (Just recently saw the movie. Not bad.)
  8. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card – Yup, late to the party again. But I had to read this before the movie released and it was probably the best sci-fi book I’ve ever read. And, for once, the movie adaptation was almost equally as amazing.
  9. Wool, Shift, & Dust (The Silo Saga) by Hugh Howey – This series is phenomenal and Hugh Howey has made leaps and bounds in my mind, quickly earning the title of My Favorite Author. Can’t wait to kidnap him and keep him in our attic to pick his brain read more from him.
  10. Headhunters by Jo NesboThe Harry Hole Series had been recommended to me long ago, but the library didn’t have the first installment. Fortunately, I found this standalone novel by Nesbo and thoroughly enjoyed it. What a thrilling ride!
  11. The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – This novel was highly publicized prior to its release and I worried that it wouldn’t live up to the hype. It did. Excellent world building, characterization, and attention to detail. Can’t wait for the rest of the series.
  12. Defending Jacob by William Landay – How far will parents go to defend their child? This novel shows you how far. This was an excellent legal thriller with an accurate representation of the human psyche.
  13. Horns by Joe Hill – This novel was weird and awesome at the same time. That’s really all I can say. Movie adaptation on the way, too, starring Harry Potter all grown up.
  14. Brilliance by Marcus Sakey – I’m so glad I read this novel. It is what the title implies: a work of brilliance. I particularly loved the way Sakey paralleled his plot with current events and politics, but in a subtle, clever way. And there’s a sequel on the way! Yippee!
  15. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak – The most poignant WWII story since The Diary of Anne Frank. Told from the POV of Death (a detail I’m not sure if the movie was able to grasp, but I’ll soon find out), this is definitely a must read.

There you have it, folks. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see what my list looks like at the end of 2014! Have you read any of these? Are there any other books you’d like to recommend?

Jerks & Irks LVIII: I Failed My 2013 Goodreads Challenge

2012 was The Year of the Kindle. Having received a Kindle Fire for Christmas 2011, I devoured books the following year, reading over 75 altogether. I realize that number is subjective: impressive to some, a drop in the bucket to even more voracious readers than myself. But I was excited to have so many books at my fingertips.

In 2013, I set my first Goodreads Challenge for 75 books. I figured since I had done it the year before, I could do it again, right? Wrong. I failed to realize how much more I’d be writing in 2013 than the previous year (3 books and a couple of short stories), or how many hours would be spent marketing and maintaining a presence on social media. December rolled around and, with the end of the year in sight, I was forced to cheat amend my Challenge total to 60 books. I had read 59 and was reading the 60th with more than enough time to spare. I even fantasized about reading a 61st book for good measure.

Then the library–the LIBRARY of all places–took me down, guys. You see, some of the traditional publishers still insist on charging $10 or more for an e-book, which is irksome in and of itself. Therefore, if I want to read one of these books, I usually see if my local library network has a digital copy first. Thus was my process when I downloaded Night Film, by Marisha Pessl (EXCELLENT book so far, by the way).

I was 57% through it when my lending period was about to expire. I renewed it, as I had done before with other borrowed books, but THE LIBRARY took it away anyway. Just electronically snatched it off my Kindle and placed me on a waiting list (1 of 1). I was devastated. I’m not the type of person who can read multiple books at once; I have the short-term memory of a pill bug. I whined a lot, trudging through short stories and trolling Facebook instead of reading myself awake in the morning and to sleep at night.

The new year came and went and I was stuck on 59 books. I failed my Goodreads Challenge.

The library sabotaged me. CURSES! *waves fist in the air*

How about you? How did you fare with your own Goodreads Challenges?

Jerks & Irks LIV: The Perils of Piracy & How to Prevail

You never think it will happen to you…

I was riding the high of Blood in the Past‘s most recent free day. It had done well during free days past (900+ and 800+ downloads, respectively), but this time I had submitted to several promotional websites, hoping to be picked up without paying for a guaranteed spot. To my surprise, I was featured on both Free Booksy and eReader Perks! I had over 1800 downloads that day and Blood in the Past made it to #133 in the Kindle Free Store and #2 in the Kindle Free Crime Thrillers. That was a Sunday (also my birthday, if you’ll recall). The next day, I was enjoying my bump in sales (the only reason to do these free days in the first place), when I opened my email to a Google Alert that ruined my day. Like I said, you never think it will happen to you.

You see, I set up Google Alerts for my name and the title of my book to stay abreast of cheerier situations, such as unsolicited reviews, Twitter chatter about me and my events, etc. I never expected to click on the link and see Blood in the Past available for download for FREE on some shady-ass website. But there it was. And I wanted to cry. One of the 1800 people who had downloaded it the day before–SOME JERK–had uploaded to, a tech website that offers free apps, programs, ebooks, etc.

After I stopped shaking and I got a hold of myself, I remembered all the advice I’d ever read about book piracy, mostly everyone says not to sweat being on a piracy site. It means you made it, consider it extra exposure, etc. Well, with all due respect to those talking heads, screw that noise. I worked hard on Blood in the Past, it only costs a couple of bucks, and for heaven’s sake, I run a free promotion once a damn month! I decided then I wasn’t going to just bend over my desk and take this piracy crap quietly (excuse the visual). So I did what everyone does when they’re lost for answers: I Googled it. And I got an answer. And I acted on it. And less than one week later I received an email that my book had been removed. Hurrah!

I bet you’re wondering how I managed that. Here’s how:

  • My Google search led me to this link. God bless anything that begins with the prefix Wiki.
  • Before I consulted the steps on the WikiHow page however, I made sure the site where my book was pirated had a copyright policy, which it did. You want to make sure that you comply with the offending site’s procedures, if they have their own. For example, had a specific clause that had to be included within your complaint for it to even be considered.
  • Next, I went back to the WikiHow page and basically followed the steps. There is actually a nifty little script for you to adhere to that makes it easier for you. FYI, when I sent my email to, I added an extra paragraph that went a little more in-depth in terms of proving my identity. In addition, I attached a couple of documents. You can choose whatever works best for you, but I went with the New Jersey Certificate of Trade for my publishing company, Blood Read Press, and the Copyright Page taken straight from Blood in the Past. I chose those two documents because the mailing address is the same, which tied my legal name to my pen name. Ta da!
  • Now, I’d like to say that I pressed send on my polite, yet firm, email and bing-bang-boom, Blood in the Past was rescued for’s  slimy grasp, but that’s not how it happened. Their website claims copyright infringement complaints will be addressed within 48 hours of being received. Lord knows when my little email would be received so, after 56 hours had passed, I returned to the website. Closer inspection revealed that if you became a member and directly messaged the head of the thread where the infringement took place (i.e. apps, ebooks, software, etc.), the response time would be shorter. So, after much reticence and downright nausea, I joined the site (promptly showering after) and messaged the screen name “Phex”. Sure enough, within 48 hours, Blood in the Past was free. Well, not free. For sale, on Amazon. If it were free, that would mean it was still on the piracy site…oh never mind…you know what I mean.

I must confess: this is my first brush with piracy and this only one website. I can’t promise that these steps will work in every situation with every website. But it can’t hurt to have somewhere to start, right? My advice? Start with setting up Google Alerts for your name and book title(s). If it wasn’t for that email, I would never have had the day after my birthday ruined and I would have never sprung into action, thus saving my book from being held hostage by pirates.

It’s My Anniversary! #FREE E-book!

I’m not exactly what you’d call an attention whore, but today is mine and Hubby-pants’ two-year anniversary! We’re away in the Pennsylvania mountains and I hope to have some breathtaking pictures to share upon our return (check Instagram in the meantime). But here’s one picture to tide you over…


Altogether now…AWWW!!!

Okay, maybe I’m a little bit of an attention whore. Which is why I’m going to paste an excerpt of Blood in the Past below. Don’t roll your eyes! I reeled you in with that amazingly beautiful vineyard wedding photo, now I have to use it to my advantage! So, as I was saying, below is the scene where Anthony proposes to Lyla. It’s a gorgeous scene. I had a lot of fun writing it, even though I’m not a romance writer (and this scene is one of the reasons why I tell romance lovers that my book has “romantic elements,” haha).

Read on and enjoy.

Night fell and CJ insisted on escorting Lyla home, even though it required two trains and a bus. They spent the end of the journey on a double-bus: two regular-sized buses joined in the center by a section resembling an accordion. Lyla jumped at the chance to drag CJ to the seats in the swiveling center, giggling as though they were riding a carnival Tilt-a-Whirl. With every rolling shift, her troubles felt further away. No dead parents. No near-fatal mistake in the operating room. No apprehensions about life or marriage for a solid thirty minutes.

When the bus screeched to a standstill at their stop, Lyla and CJ spilled out from the rear doors, dizzy from their trip and drunk from laughter. They tumbled along the sidewalk for several blocks, their arms intertwined like a pretzel. The headlights of passing cars streaked their faces and lit their way.

What little survived of Lyla’s home lay a block ahead on their right, just peeking into view. The house had been reduced to a pile of blackened rubble with charred beams jutting about in every direction—an enormous, sooty bird’s nest. As they approached the scorched and shriveled remains, a thin gasp escaped CJ’s lips. Lyla knew he had tried to restrain it and failed.

“That’s right, you haven’t seen it since the fire,” Lyla said softly.

“No. Lyla, I’m so sorry.” He grabbed her hand and squeezed it as they drew closer.

“It’s okay. I mean, it’s been tough, don’t get me wrong, but I think I made the right decision to stay at my neighbors’ house while they’re in Florida. They’ve been really generous, and it allows me to stay close to things.” This way I can keep tabs on the investigation.

“Yeah, it was lucky for you they were heading down for the winter right when you needed a place to crash.”

She stared at him until he realized his gaffe: Lyla was in no way lucky. He lowered his eyes and squeezed her hand again, an apology she accepted.

“So, the insurance is covering everything?” CJ asked awkwardly, stumbling to change the subject.

“Yeah, the insurance plus both life-insurance policies. I’m sure I could have bought a house and lived off the rest for quite a while, but it was more important for me to rebuild this house. I’m told the fire investigation could take several more months though.”


They both came to a dead stop, not at the full sight of the burnt-down home—they had managed not to gawk as they passed it in silence—but at the neighbor’s house. The back porch, and most of the yard, glowed. They were illuminated by candles, string lights, and white paper bag luminaries—brilliant, twinkling white stars, brought down from the Cosmos to the Earth.

It was so beautiful, Lyla felt herself crying in a way she hadn’t in a long time: tears of joy. Despite the blur of her moist eyes, she saw Anthony kneeling in the center of it all. Tall, broad shoulders without being stocky. Same dark hair as Lyla. The green in his eyes sparkled almost as brightly as the decor. He caught Lyla’s gaze. The shadows sculpted both of their faces, making them appear like a matching pair of figurines atop their own wedding cake.

Anthony, either oblivious or apathetic to CJ’s presence, shouted, “Lyla Kyle, will you marry me?” He beamed almost as brightly as the yard. Almost as brightly as the diamond in his hand.

Lyla shook her head slowly in disbelief. But disbelief soon turned to freedom. With each subtle, side-to-side movement, her mind broke free of the shackles of the past few days. It broke free from the grief, the uncertainty, and the death. She chose love and a leap of faith. She chose life.

Lyla ran to him, her long legs eating up the distance in a handful of strides. With her fears abated by her talk with CJ, she fell to her knees in front of Anthony with tears streaming down her cheeks. She grasped his face and kissed him. Hard. Heavily. When she pulled back, her voice cracked as she said, “I choose you.” Lyla breathed in a gulp of crisp air, as though she could inhale the twinkling lights and capture them within her heart. “I choose a life with you, Anthony.”

“Is that a yes?”

Without waiting for confirmation, perhaps not needing it, Anthony put the ring on Lyla’s trembling left hand and they embraced. He kissed her neck, and the tickling sensation that followed left them falling to the ground, rolling around in laughter and tears. Their joy rang louder still when they bumped into a luminary, almost setting a fire in their excitement.

Neither noticed as CJ sank back into the shadows, beyond the glowing lights and joy, to wait for the bus that would bring him back to the other side of Philadelphia.

I’m sorry to say, Lyla Kyle takes “Til Death do us part” a little serious in the end, but you’ll have to read Blood in the Past to learn more. By the way, if you’d like to do that, the e-book is FREE today!

You’re welcome! 😉

Interview At Creative Difference!

The incomparable Sandra Hessels, all the way on the other side of the world in the Netherlands, where her website is kind of in Dutch, has interviewed me on her blog! Don’t worry, the interview is English. Here’s a snippet:

How do you find your readers (as a self-pubbed writer) and reach the largest possible audience? Right now the three biggest mysteries of the world are: 1. What is the meaning of life? 2. Is there life outside of Earth? 3. Where are the readers? Haha. It feels like we, as authors, are all still kind of marketing to ourselves. We ‘like’ each other on Facebook, we follow each other on Twitter, we read each other’s blogs, et cetera. So, I have no idea. I hold out hope that other authors are like me and read a book a week? But I don’t pretend to know where the readers are. My research has suggested that the most effective marketing tools are Pixel of Ink, BookBub, and eReader News Today. Basically, they are services that have already found the readers, but they hog them for themselves, and authors have to (sometimes) pay them to tell the readers about their books. Figures. Do you have to do a lot of self-marketing or do you have help? I don’t really have help. A couple of internet pals pitch in here and there and share stuff for me when they can, which I appreciate with the warmth of a thousand kittens, but I don’t have a street team or an assistant or anything. I post to my blog and my Facebook author page most regularly, but I also post to Google+ and LinkedIn, and of course, Twitter. I’m a member of various reader sites, Goodreads, Shelfari, LibraryThing, and so on. And I’m always scouring the internet for websites that showcase authors and their books. According to your Twitter bio, you love killing off characters. Is it that easy? It’s very easy. George RR Martin and I should go for drinks (Game of Throne fans, the books or the TV series, know what I’m talking about). He and I would toast our frosty mugs and laugh over making our readers become attached to certain characters, even root for them, and then we break their hearts, thus giving our readers PTSD. It would be a grand old time.

If you would like to read more of my interview with Sandra, which I would totally recommend, then please click this link to her blog over at Creative Difference. You know you want to learn a little more about me, because, well, I’m fascinating.

Also, don’t forget, there’s still time to enter to win a signed copy of Blood in the Past over at Tonya Kerrigan’s blog, so you should also head over there, follow her blog, and leave a comment telling her that she’s awesome, you’re awesome, and I’m awesome, and together we’d all make an awesome-ass club sandwich of some sort. (Okay, maybe that’s creepy, but I don’t know she’s picking the winner and maybe creepy will give you an edge.)

AND, speaking of paperbacks, Blood in the Past is now available in paperback! For real this time! On Amazon! Linked with the ebook! So you can see all 32 reviews! Yay!

Jerks & Irks LI (50): The Birth of a Domain Name

I’m very excited this week! The proof copy of Blood in the Past arrived at my doorstep last week. I scanned it, made a few changes, and it looks like my little novella will be available in print starting Wednesday, September, 18th. Right on time!

With this moderately monumental accomplishment in the works (yes, I’m aware that ‘moderately monumental’ is an oxymoron, but I think it’s fun), I decided to attempt to finally build a Blood Read Press website. I went with They seem to be the host site everyone goes to when they want an easy, free website and they don’t want their business to be associated with Danica Patrick taking her clothes off (ie

So, I sign up. Easy enough. First things first, three options: pay $40/year to register, use for free, or – if I’ve already registered – I can use that domain name and they will attach it for me. Of course, I don’t want to pay $40/year if I don’t have to. I Googled how to register a domain name and a site called came up. $5/year! Well, my stars and Milky Way bars, that’s a deal! I purchased my domain name. But at check out, I find that they added some kind of security thingy to hide my personal information from spammers for $11. I couldn’t care less, so I removed that item from my cart and went about my purchase, and subsequently, my life.

The next day, I received an email from informing me that since I didn’t sign up for their personal information security add-on, said personal information isn’t guarded against identity theft. Hold up. How did we go from SPAM to IDENTITY THEFT? Red flag, much? Scare tactic to get my money, maybe? I definitely think so. Especially since the email went on to say that my information – my name, email address, mailing address, and phone number – were now available on some WHOIS database. But that statement had an asterisk next to it…with the asterisk leading to a disclaimer that my info might not affect the WHOIS database at all. Absolutely shady. What a bunch of jerks.

Since my domain name has already been purchased for the year, there’s nothing I can do but stay with this shady little company and count down the days. I think I have 363 to go…

You get what you pay for, huh? But hey, Blood in the Past is in print this week! Eek! Giveaways and reduced ebook prices are on the way, too, so be on the lookout!

BLOOD IN THE PAST is Only $0.99 All Weekend!

I know Wednesday’s announcement was pretty big and everyone’s mind was probably blown midway through the post at the mere prospect that they could soon hold a physical copy of Blood in the Past in their sweaty little palms, but I thought I would remind you that the e-book is also on sale through August 31st for only ninety-nine sweet little pennies! So start rifling through your couch cushions and cup holders!