Indie Authors Are Killing Great Writing

I recently read a post with the premise that being able to indie publish so easily is improving our writing.  With all due respect to that author (who indeed took the criticism she received and worked on her writing), I have to disagree.  The dirge of bad indie authors is in fact killing good writing.  Why?

In The Days Long Gone

Back in the days before the Kindle and ebook publishing, here’s how one usually got a book published:

You had an idea for a book, you sat down and wrote it, and you went to the library and check out The Writer’s Marketplace, or another book about agents and publishing.  In these books you found out how to query agents.  You might’ve read some of the tips on making sure your story was publishable.  Then the Internet grew and you could look for this information online.  You queried agents and if you got no response, you knew that most likely:

  • your query sucked
  • your book sucked
  • or both

The smart authors went back and checked their novel and tried to make it better.  The even smarter authors read books, took writing classes, talked to published authors, and went to conferences and talked to agents and editors, and learned how to improve as a writer.

Those smart authors improved their books.  They looked at:

  • using active vs. passive voice
  • clichés and stereotypes
  • strong verbs
  • showing vs. telling
  • using too many adverbs
  • dangling participles
  • unclear language
  • is the story just flat boring
  • and so on

Once these things, and more, were corrected, they queried again, and with great writing and a little luck, got agents and book deals.  If you don’t believe me, look at the indie god, JA Konrath, as an example.  Read reviews of some of his self-published works (stories that were rejected by agents).  They tend not to get the great reviews of his other books…why?  Because they were earlier works and not as good as the books that he got an agent for.  He’d learned his craft and improved his writing.

Then you had those authors that, against all reason, still felt they had a great book.  They self-published, and for the most part, gave self-publishing a bad name because the books weren’t good (I know, there are exceptions).  You would think authors would learn….

That Was Then, This Is Now

Now you have people who write a book and publish it with very little or no editing.  They have no idea how to make a story active and engaging.  They tell a story, not show it.  They have poor covers.  And on and on.  They glut the market with sub-par books, and then wonder why they don’t sell.  They wonder why people tell them the story isn’t very good.

Here’s a bit of advice: don’t publish until you KNOW your book is good.  And this means more than just having your spouse, friend, roommate, kid or whoever, tell you it’s good.  I would recommend:

  • querying to agents, just to get a feel for the responses.  If you get none, you probably need to take a look at your book
  • getting your book professionally edited and see what improvements you can make (this is an absolute must and it’s worth the money)
  • joining a writer’s group where you can get HONEST feedback about your work
  • getting other authors to read your book, people who will give you an HONEST opinion

There are GREAT indie authors out there, absolutely.  Make sure you are one of them by putting the best possible product out there.

Don’t Believe Me?

Here are some excerpts from a review that I read.  This is a well-respected site, but I am keeping out the details about the author and book because I don’t want to offend this person.  There are some great points here that every indie author should ask about their own books.  Here are the excerpts:

I cannot recommend this book. As many who read my reviews know, I try to support indie authors. The number of good quality indie books is increasing and they are fast becoming the only route for new authors to achieve recognition, especially since the main publishing houses are loathe to gamble on new authors. However, this is not a good quality indie book. Readers rule, and they deserve more.

The author bludgeons the reader with a hackneyed plot, stereotypical characterization, stilted dialog, and poor editing.  Let’s consider the plot: A stereotypical PI with baggage all the way back to childhood agrees to meet with a stereotypical damsel in distress who is subsequently murdered. She’s a beautiful (is this a Bogart movie?) FBI agent with the stereotypical key to a safe deposit box belonging to a not-so-stereotypical and famous movie star. A stereotypical shadow government run by a stereotypical power-hungry U.S. senator wants that key. The military arm of the shadow government is a shadow organization hiding within the FBI, but the true FBI and this military arm as conceived by the author are more similar to the CIA. Agents within the FBI end up working for the shadow government without realizing it.

Most of the characters here speak in a stilted fashion.  [the plot]…is unreal!

I was able to finish this book by struggling through all the above, editor’s pen in hand and often thinking, “Where is he going? What does this mean? Whoa, who’s this speaking?”

There are many good indie authors that will entertain and inform you—look for them. This author, in fact, has done them a disservice. He has helped perpetuate the myth that indie writing is slipshod. I’m not sure why. If you can’t edit your own product, you can always hire someone to do it. Why bludgeon the reading public with another poorly written book? It’s a terrible mistake to self-publish an (sic) MS full of errors in spelling, grammar, and style. Too many indie authors do so and they give us all a bad name.

Brutal, huh...

But this reviewer is completely right.  And as a kicker, I looked up this author on Amazon.  The author obviously did not use this review, but I saw another Amazon review that, based on what the above review said of the author’s writing, I had to wonder if the author wrote himself.  Here’s the Amazon review:

What a grate story, this is a page turner I love every page. The author make me live every moment of the story as if I was part of it. I highly recommend it.

Really? The review is grammatically incorrect and has spelling errors.  This isn’t going to make me want to buy the book.

Whew!

Talk to me.  I’m one who will give you an honest review, and I want them in return.  I’ll read excerpts if you want and offer my opinion.  I’ll help you with marketing.  We can help each other learn to be better writers.  I believe in helping each other out…there are plenty of readers who want great books.  Let’s give the books to them.

CONTEST!!

Don’t forget the contest for a FREE KINDLE!  Details on my website at www.reneepawlish.com.  If you have a Kindle, winning one would make a great gift.

Image: Simon Howden / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The Best Film Noir Movies

That’s a great title, but I can’t back it up.  There is frankly just too much debate about what movie is considered the best film noir movie.  With that being said, I’m going to spend some posts highlighting a few of the top films with some reasoning why film aficionados gave these films such high marks for noir.  So get your popcorn, licorice and soda, sit back and enjoy!

The Maltese Falcon

Remember some of what makes a movie film noir is a morally weak private eye, a femme fatale, dark themes, black-and-white filming, plenty of corruption, and ill-fated relationship and the like.  And does The Maltese Falcon fit this!  This movie was based on the classic novel by Dashiell Hammett and is considered to be the first noir movie.  A piece of trivia that I’ll bet many don’t know, the classic 1941 movie with Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor is actually a remake of a 1931 version starring Bebe Daniels and Ricardo Cortez.  Another version (which didn’t include the falcon) was made in 1936, called Satan Met a Lady, with Warren William and a young Bette Davis.

This fabulous story about a cool but cynical San Francisco private eye, Sam Spade (Bogart, of course), and his dealings with three unscrupulous adventurers who are all trying to find a jewel-encrusted falcon statuette is not only considered a great piece of film noir, but one of the best movies ever made.  The cinematography and direction by John Huston, in his directorial debut, are a large part of what makes this such an evocative movie.

Dashiell Hammett’s Detective

Any writer can only hope to create such an iconic character as Sam Spade.  Spade only appears in this novel and a few short stories, but Spade is considered as the figure that shaped the hard-boiled private eye.  Spade is cold, detached, sardonic, and bent on his own brand of justice.  He’s seen the underbelly of the world and is willing to rub elbows with criminals,while at the same time working to bring them to justice.  Spade has some type of morality, although it’s clouded in ambiguity.

Detective fiction would not be the same after The Maltese Falcon was published.  All books in the genre were compared to this classic.  Hammett fused clean prose with sharp dialogue, created memorable characters and a story with plenty of twists and turns.  It’s a great literary work that’s also part thriller, love story, part dark comedy.  Brilliant.

No Humphrey Bogart?

It’s true.  Bogart was not Huston’s original choice to play Sam Spade.  The role was initially offered to George Raft, who rejected it (bet he wished he could change that).  Can you imagine this film with someone other than Bogie playing Spade?  This role gave Bogart huge acclaim and set his onscreen persona in stone.

Bitter Ending

There are plenty of deceitful villains, quirky lowlifes (Peter Lorre), and the lying femme fatale.  And it has a downbeat and bitter ending, typical of noir movies to come.

If you haven’t watched this movie, I encourage you to do so.  It’s highly entertaining, in a dark sort of way.

And, take a look at the poster.  The first person who can tell me what makes this poster unique from others produced for the movie gets a signed copy of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, my Reed Ferguson mystery that features a healthy dose of film noir in it (HINT: the answer is in Reel Estate Rip-off, the second Reed Ferguson mystery).

UPDATE!  Lekan pointed out differences in the poster correctly, however, it was not the answer I was looking for (I will however honor the answer because it is still correct).  I should’ve been more clear in what I was looking for.  Soooo, if someone answers the difference that is cited in Reel Estate Rip-off, I will send another signed book of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies.  Good luck!

CONTEST!

Don’t forget about the contest for a free Kindle!  Details on my website at www.reneepawlish.com.  If you have one already, you could use this one for a gift!

Posted in Film Noir Fun | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Author Interview – Athanasios

It’s my pleasure to welcome Athanasios to the Author Interview.  I know Athanasios from Indie Writers Unite, and he is a great supporter of indie authors.  Let’s start with a few questions and then we’ll get to his books…

How long have you been writing? and how many books are available?

I’ve been writing for most of my adult life.  I’ve got two books available, the first being Mad Gods and the second its sequel, Commitment.  They’re both part of a larger and wider story called Predatory Ethics.

What genre do you write in?

I write in occult/horror/historical fiction. Cross-genre would be the easiest description.

What advice do you have for authors?

Write and write some more. Write what you would like to read.

What’s one thing you want your readers to know about you?

I’m really quite normal.  I expunge and exorcise most of my darkness onto my work.  I’m not a Satanist and I don’t follow any form of religion.  I’m just interested in all of them.

Thanks Athanasios!  You can also purchase Mad Gods and Commitment at Smashwords.

 
Don’t Forget!

The contest for a free Kindle!

Visit my website at www.reneepawlish.com for details!

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The Nephilim Today…and Free Books

Free books, but you have to listen to me first 🙂

I find it interesting that my book Nephilim Genesis of Evil is selling so well.  For those of you who don’t know about me or my writing career, I released Nephilim in 2007.  It sold very well and then went out of print.  With the emergence of ebook publishing, I decided to republish it as an ebook, and now the paperback has been re-released as well.  It’s fascinating to me that so many people are fascinated by this topic.  Why is this?

The Nephilim

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days–and also afterward–when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. Genesis 6:4

Wow.  There is so much speculation about this verse and therein lies the fascination.  It opens the door for these beings to be around today.  And if you believe…

If You Believe

People are fascinated with aliens, UFO’s, ghosts, the paranormal, and so on.  And the Nephilim intrigue people as well, in part because there is speculation that the Nephilim are in fact aliens.  People search for Nephilim pictures, Nephilim skeletons, Nephilim remains and more.  Why?  There’s some belief that these creatures can actually exist.  It’s part of the what if that plays with our minds.  That makes for good reading…

Speaking of Reading

You have a chance to get a signed paperback of Nephilim Genesis of Evil, through Goodreads.  Check it out!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Nephilim Genesis of Evil by Renée Pawlish

Nephilim Genesis of Evil

by Renée Pawlish

Giveaway ends December 09, 2011.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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John Locke, Joe Paterno and a Contest

I was going to start my blog today and tell you all about the fantastic contest I am running until December 9th, but I just read an article about Penn State and Joe Paterno.  For those of you who don’t watch the news, the school, and Joe Paterno, are under fire because a former staffer, Jerry Sandusky, is accused of sexual abuse.  Someone has come forward, saying he saw Sandusky raping a 10-year-old boy.  This was reported to Paterno and he alerted the athletic director.  Now the rumor is that Paterno will resign at some point this year.

What Does This Have to do With John Locke?

John Locke is the first indie author to sell a million ebooks on Amazon.  In his book How I Sold 1 Million Books in 5 Months (not a very helpful book, in my opinion), he writes that he wrote a series of blog that focused on someone famous, and then he tied his writing and books into the blog.  For example, Locke wrote a blog about his mother and how she encouraged him to find a role model.   Locke read about a young Penn state coach who vowed to run a clean program and to focus on students, graduating good citizens, not just athletes.  Locke goes on to put Paterno on a pedestal, even sharing a story of meeting  Paterno.  There’s more, but you get the gist.

So What?

The whole point of the blog is about marketing.  Locke wanted to reach Penn State and Joe Paterno fans.  Fans that read his blog about Paterno might buy his (Locke’s) books.  But here’s what I’m wondering…now that Paterno and Penn State are in so much trouble: what will the impact of that blog have on Locke’s fans? Or future fans?

In the case of John Locke, I’m sure the answer is: nothing.  But for those of you who follow his advice, a word of caution.  It might be great to write a great piece about someone you love, but you might look foolish if that person is knocked from their pedestal.

On To Better Things…

I’m running a contest!  And the winner gets…drumroll…a Kindle!  Perfect for you or as a Christmas gift!  Here are the details:

  • Read and review any of my’s books (except Take Five) and let me know where the review is posted (Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads).
  • Join my email list – you can sign up on my website.  Don’t worry, I don’t send out very many emails.

That’s it! Read a book and win a Kindle!

Contest Rules:

Reviews and email sign-up must be completed by December 9, 2011.  Previous reviews of another book do not count, sorry.

By entering you agree to participate in a fan interview that will be featured on Renée’s website, blog, and Facebook fan page.

Winner will be announced the second week of December.  The Kindle should ship in time for Christmas.

Posted in Promoting Your Books, Writing Well | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Film Noir Defined

Since the main character in my Reed Ferguson Mystery Series loves film noir, I thought I would do some posts that focus on this wonderful topic (and for you writers, I’ll delve into some of the structure of these movies and why they can improve your writing).

My editor wondered if those in a younger generation even know any of the old films of this era…I sometimes wonder if anyone does.  If you don’t know about film noir, you’re missing out.  If you do, then you know how cool these movies (and the books that were the inspiration for these movies) really are.  So, without further ado…

What Is Film Noir?

The term film noir originally came from French film critics, who coined the phrase (it literally means black film).  After World War II, many of the detective and crime films from the U.S. had very dark and gloomy themes, as well as a low-key black-and-white visual style.  These films were in stark contrast to many other films of the time that portrayed a sense of optimism.  However, this was the time of the Cold War.  Fear, despair, paranoia, mistrust, the loss of innocence and more played into film noir movies.

It is interesting to note that film purists would say that film noir is not a genre, but a style or tone of a film.  Also, the term film noir did not come into existence until the 1970s…before that, these films were thought of as melodramas.

The Anti-Hero

The so-heroes of these films were really more of an anti-hero, a hard-boiled, brooding, violent, possibly criminal and misogynistic being who seemed to have been formed out of society’s evil.  These were usually men, and they struggled with moral conflicts and purposelessness.  However, these anti-heroes also had a strong sense of injustice.  They were usually loners, trying to survive, but ultimately, losing.

The Femme Fatale

The women in film noir typically came in two types – the dutiful, trustworthy, reliable woman, or the femme fatale.  The film noir femme fatale was mysterious, gorgeous, untrustworthy, duplicitous and so on.  The femme fatale also served to bring down the anti-hero.

Storylines

Storylines were often non-linear (hmm, remember Pulp Fiction), elliptical and twisting.  The narratives can be hard to follow as they tend to be very complex and convoluted.  And the dialogue…oh how I miss great dialogue (our movies today just can’t match the dialogue of old movies).  These old classics tend to have razor-sharp narration that keeps you on the edge of your seat.

Great Examples of Film Noir

The film considered the first of the genre is Stranger on the Third Floor, from 1940.  Some classics are This Gun For Hire, Double Indemnity, The Killers, The Maltese Falcon, Laura, and Reed’s favorite, The Big Sleep (read This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies to find out how Reed uses this film to help solve a crime).  The last of the genre is Touch of Evil (a great film and a great story about it being made, too).  If you like drama and suspense, these are film noir classics that you should check out.

Character From Novels

So many movies have been made from novels, and film noir movies are no exception.  Some of the best movies came from hard-boiled pulp writers like Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain, Dashiell Hammett, and Cornell Woolrich (for my take on the current writing scene resembling the days of pulp fiction writing, read this post).  This is why so many movies of the genre are detective stories (and why many seem to think that film noir is analogous to a detective story).  Film noir movies can also derive from gangster and other crime stories.  Examples of this are They Drive By Night, Key Largo, and White Heat.

There is a wealth of plot lines, character studies, story development in these films.  Any writer should give them some serious study.  I could go on and on.  But I’ll save that for future posts.

I hope you enjoyed this post.  I think I’ll go watch a good movie 🙂

Posted in Film Noir Fun | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments

Using Amazon Effectively

When you go to Amazon to shop for books, what are you looking for?  A good, or better yet, a great read, right?  As a reader, you want to know in the quickest way possible:

  • what the book is about
  • what kind of reviews it’s getting
  • what else the author has to offer you

You readers out there, weigh in, tell me what I might have missed.  But from a marketing standpoint, these are the items that Amazon readers are saying that they want.  So as an author…

Why Are You Not Doing This?

I’ve done a lot of research on this and I want to share what I’ve learned with you.  As authors, you need to capture your readers’ interest as fast as you can, and compel them to buy your book.  Here’s what you don’t do (using my book, Reel Estate Rip-off as an example):

Reed Ferguson is a wannabe private eye living in Denver and is asked by a client, Ned Healy, to help solve a crime.  Reed has been flitting from career to career, but tracking down this killer brings Reed to life.  Follow Reed as he travels throughout Colorado to solve this case.

Can you say boring?  I took a description from a book on Amazon and tailored my book to that one.  The author who wrote the blurb that I used as an example is missing out on so much!  Remember, this little area is a reflection of your writing!  If it’s so-so here, what might your potential reader think of the book you’re trying to sell?

So let’s break this down a bit…

Amazon’s Product Description

First thing is to zing your potential buyers with praise from your book.  Something like this:

5 out of 5 stars

Witty dialogue.  Powerful action.  A great detective to spend time with.  This is a classic page-turner right up there with Chandler and Hammett.

Put your best reviews right up there where those book shoppers can see it, because I’ve got news for you, many of them don’t scroll down and read all the reviews.  So capture their interest right away!  Select the best reviews and edit them (meaning cut out what drags the review) – you want them short and punchy.  If you have reviews from other authors, this is a great place to put those with a credit.

The Story

Once you have some great reviews, now you want the description of the book itself.  Here again, I see numerous bad examples (and in the past, I include myself here).  Remember that bad (or not-so-good) example from above?  The last thing you want is to bore your readers.  So I follow the advice of Blake Crouch and others.  Write a short description that zings (I think that’s my word for today).  Here’s what I used for Reel Estate Rip-off:

Lights! Camera! Reed!
That’s right – Reed Ferguson, the intrepid hero of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, is back.

A mysterious death.
A brother searching for the truth.
A devious ex-wife.
Real estate shenanigans.
More danger for Reed than a film noir plot.

Could it be better?  Sure (and I’ll take your suggestions), but do you see what I did?  Reed Ferguson, the hero of my series, loves film noir.  So I’ve made a movie reference, and I’ve used movie terms in the titles.  This is a marketing strategy – interest those people who like movies and film noir.  Then I’ve kept the description to short sentences with active, powerful verbs.  Less is more.

Product Description Continued

Here’s where authors can really miss the boat (and I did too).  Amazon allows a lot of space here, so use it!  Put in a sales pitch for your other books. along with reviews.  You just might get buyers who will check out your other works.  Here’s an example of what I did, and remember this is in the product description for Reel Estate Rip-off:

Praise for Renee Pawlish’s This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies

5 Star Review
I hope you revel in the vicarious thrills as much as I did. The plot works on all levels, the supporting cast is great, and Pawlish reveals key elements of Reeds character with light brush strokes and a master’s touch.
RJ McDonnell, author of The Rock & Roll mysteries

5 Star Review
I’d recommend this to people who like mysteries. I’d recommend this to person that likes a good book. I’d recommend this to anyone who just wants to enjoy some quality time with quality material. But if you have a pressing engagement (like finishing writing your own book) – stay away until AFTER you finish, because once you start, you won’t be able to put this down.
John DeJordy, author

Praise for Nephilim Genesis of Evil

5 out of 5 stars
Carefully plan when you will begin reading it because it’s more than likely you won’t be able to put it down. Renee Pawlish is now on my favorite writer list and it’s not a long one.
Bert Carson, author of Southern Investigation

5 out of 5 stars
Nephilim Genesis of Evil is a chilling, horror outing that uses The Apocrypha as source material for its menacing beings. It’s a well-crafted tale of the re-emergence of spirits who are the offspring of humans and angels. This is a powerful and well-written effort.
Sidney Williams, author of Midnight Eyes and Blood Hunter

Now I’ve got information on the page about other books, along with some of the best reviews for each of them.  Readers will take note of this, and you may just get them to browse for your other works.  See how much more powerful this is than just trying to get buyers to click on your links in a list of your books?

About The Author

Now we get to the part where you can tell the readers a bit about yourself.  The anonymous author who I referenced above had a little paragraph telling his potential buyers that he tried traditional publishing, then decided to self-publish it and offer it for free.  After reading reviews about his bad grammar, spelling and story flow, he decided to fix the grammar to make it more readable.  And then he asks that his readers check back for a revised version.

Oh, where do I begin?  First, if your story needs editing, don’t publish it!  That author acknowledges that if he’d gone the traditional route, an editor would’ve done this for him.  Um, no…you would never have gotten that far, because an agent would’ve turned you down flat because of the poor writing.

Here’s another issue with that – he’s lost future readers.  If one product was bad, who’s going to come back for more?  Don’t kid yourself, they likely won’t.  If you want a steady readership, don’t publish until your book is rock-solid perfect.  It should be edited for grammar, punctuation and content.  You want to know your story makes sense and is not full of plot holes and the like.  Believe me, I’ve read too much by indie authors that should be reviewed for content as well as punctuation and grammar before it got published.

What You Should Do

Have a short, punchy little bit about yourself.  Make yourself human.  If you’ve written other things, mention them.  Here’s mine:

Renée Pawlish was born in California, but has lived most of her life in Colorado. When she’s not hiking, cycling, or chasing ballplayers for autographs, she is writing mysteries and thrillers. She also has some middle grade novels waiting to be published.

Renée loves to travel and has visited numerous countries around the world. She has also spent many summer days at her parents’ cabin in the hills outside of Boulder, which was the inspiration for the setting of Taylor Crossing in her novel Nephilim: Genesis of Evil.

Could it be better?  Sure, but I’ve kept it short, and I put an amusing tidbit in about being an autograph collector.  But I said it in a funny way – chasing ballplayers for autographs.  You want something that will stick with your readers, so they think, oh, that’s the author who…

I’m very long-winded today, but I hope you find this useful.  Remember, you have to be a marketer as well as an author.  If you have any questions, please let me know, I’m happy to help.

Posted in Promoting Your Books | Tagged , , | 10 Comments

Coffin Hop Winner!

Thanks to everyone for being a part of the Coffin Hop!  I tried to post a video but am running into all kinds of issues, so….I’m skipping that part 🙂

So, the winner is…build-up of suspense…

James Garcia, Jr.

Thanks James, you get free books and a few extra little (and I do mean little) goodies 🙂

 

Posted in Promoting Your Books | Tagged , | 1 Comment

The Halloween Cant-o-lantern

Happy Halloween, and thanks to everyone for participating in the Coffin Hop Web Tour!

You still have until midnight eastern time tonight to enter to win.

Click here for the post, and for the explanation of the Cant-o-lantern.

In honor of this spooky day and the Coffin Hop, I decided to create another cant-o-lantern.

Not bad, eh?  As I recall, the original cant-o-lantern wasn’t much more creative than this one.

So when you go out tonight, watch out for the ghosts, ghouls and goblins, the zombies, and spirits, the mummies, the witches and warlocks, vampires, the scarecrows and spooks, the trick-or-treaters …and of course, the cant-o-lantern.

Stay tuned…I will be drawing the winner of the contest tomorrow.  Good luck to everyone and thanks again for participating in the Coffin Hop!

Posted in Writing Well | 2 Comments

The Coffin Hop Is Here!

Welcome to the Coffin Hop, where great authors meet great readers!  It’s that time of year, where ghosts and ghouls roam the earth, zombies come alive, and fear is in the air.  Oh yeah, and kids try to fill their bags with candy.  Before we get to the Coffin Hop, let me share a little Halloween story about a carved…

Cantaloupe

You thought I was going to say pumpkin, right?  Here’s what happened.  In college, my best friend and I were enjoying the Halloween night, sharing Chinese food and a few brews (okay, maybe more than a few), and watching the classic Hunchback of Notre Dame (with Lon Chaney).

Suddenly, we realized that there was no jack-o-lantern out on the front porch (why that suddenly became important, I have no idea why).  Where would we get a pumpkin at such a late hour?  What to do?  I still lived at home, and so we ransacked the refrigerator.  Alas, no pumpkin.  But…there was a cantaloupe.  And we had a knife.

Don’t Drink And Carve

We soon had a lovely carved cantaloupe, complete with a lopsided smile and triangle eyes.  We scrounged up a small candle and inserted it into the hollowed-out cantaloupe.  Lighting that stupid candle was no small feat in that tiny cantaloupe, but we managed.  Then we placed that jack-o-lantern out on the front porch.  And we quickly forgot about it.

Along Comes My Younger Brother

Later our scary movie watching was interrupted by my brother and his friends, laughing uproariously as they came into the house, down the hall and into the kitchen.  We had no idea what was so funny, until my brother came around the corner, holding our jack-o-lantern.  He thought it was so amusing he took pictures of it.  If I could find them, I’d post one here.  Instead, you’ll have to take my word that my best friend and I invented what I shall call the cant-o-lantern.  Great as that invention was, I doubt you’ll see one this Halloween.

Now, To The Coffin Hop!

Here’s how it works.  Each of the participating blog hosts is having a contest, so the more sites you visit, the more chances you have to win cool stuff.  There are some absolutely fantastic and talented authors on this tour, and you’ll want to check out their blogs and see what they are up to.

The tour is running now!

The tour ends Monday, October 31, 2011 at Midnight (PST)

Winners will be drawn and posted on November 1, 2011

Participation in all blogs is not required, but recommended.  The more sites you visit, the more chances to win prizes.

How can you beat that!  There are free books, characters named after you, autographed copies of books, and I think I might have seen a Nook and a Kindle or two up for grabs (you’ll have to visit the blogs to find out where).

My Prizes

Everyone who visits my site and participates in my contest will be eligible for the following prizes:

Nephilim Genesis of Evil, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies, and Take Five, all ebooks

a SIGNED paperback copy of The Sallie House: Exposing the Beast Within

your name as a character in the Nephilim sequel

a few other trinkets that I gather up this Halloween :)

My Contest

These are the official rules.  In order to qualify for those great prizes, you need to follow this blog (if you haven’t already) and comment on any of the posts in my blog (no extra points if you already follow the blog, only my eternal thanks).  You’ll need to leave me your email so I can contact you if you are the winner.  Also, put in your post that you are part of the Coffin Hop Horror Web Tour.  That’s it!

As a BONUS, anyone who visits during the specified blog tour times and joins my email list by visiting my author website will be entered two more times!  I promise I don’t send out many emails, and I don’t ever sell them – it’s just a way to keep you informed about exciting information about my books.

Thanks so much for supporting indie authors!  Remember, the more sites you visit and the more contests you enter, you have more chances for prizes.

To get back to the Coffin Hop Click Here.

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