Tuesday, December 24, 2013

8 Favorite Christmas Movies

Here's a list of some of my favorite Christmas movies. Most are well known, but a few are kinda obscure.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

Who doesn't love hearing the tale of the little Whos of Whoville and how their loving nature made the grumpy Grinch's heart grow!


I don't care what anyone says, Gremlins is a Christmas movie. Gizmo is a present, there's snow and decorations, and the hero's girlfriend shares one of the worst holiday horror stories ever. There's even a tip of the hat to Charles Dickens in the Scrooge-esqe bank owner's character.

Nightmare Before Christmas

Also one of my favorite Halloween movies, this film manages to pull double duty. I love Zero's role as Rudolph when pulling Jack's sleigh.

Home Alone

A kid is accidentally left at home when his family takes a vacation to Paris. He has to fend off burglars and handle his fear of a creepy old dude in the neighborhood.

I think I love this movie so much because it came out when I was a kid and LOVED being home alone. I also enjoyed all of the booby traps and tricks he doled out to the bumbling burglars.

Santa Claus is Coming To Town

I think this film appeals the most to my inner writer. We get Santa Claus's back story. Where he came from, how he grew up, how he met Mrs. Claus, and how he became the jolly patron of presents. And the villain's name is "Burgermeister Meisterburger!!"

Frosty's Winter Wonderland

And if the previously mention film appealed to my inner writer, this one appeals to my inner romance writer. Like the Bride of Frankenstein, the children build a girlfriend for Frosty. ::sigh:: Unfortunately the parson refuses to marry them because he can only marry humans. Sounds familiar, huh?

The Christmas Tree

This made for TV low budget cartoon movie is freakin' weird, but oddly touching. A young woman gets a job as a housekeeper in an orphanage with a corrupt, evil manager. The children are so lonely they worship the tree in their yard. Eventually the kind housekeeper saves the day... and Christmas.

The whole film is on youtube.


A Christmas Story

I know, no big surprise. Who doesn't love this movie? The 50's nostalgia, the leg lamp, the marauding neighbor dogs, and the eternally infamous line, "You'll shoot your eye out!"

Friday, December 6, 2013

The Value of Editing, Revising, and Not Giving Up

I use Grammarly's free grammar checker because it's a nerdastically fabulous source to ensure that you don''t sound like a twelve year old with a MySpace account. 

My first novel took about 4 years. The 1st draft was giant binder full of handwritten pages. Then I was finally able to get a computer, but no internet and type it up. With dreams of book deals dancing in my head, I checked out the latest copy of Writer's Market and mailed out a slew of query letters.

Naturally, that didn't turn out so well. After a few months of dejection, I got an idea for another book.
I hand wrote the pages at work and was encouraged when a coworker snatched them from my hands and demanded to know what happened next. 

I finished it shortly before I was able to get the internet. I immediately googled agents and sent a flurry of email queries. I got a few requests, but mostly rejections.

I tweaked the manuscript and researched the industry and eventually made friends with other authors. Finally I found what I was supposed to have done in the first place: have other people critique it first. Many other writers graciously volunteered. 

Alas, none of them ever sent me feedback, except for one, who critiqued the first couple chapters and flat out said, "I stopped reading here. I'm sorry." 

Thankfully, one saint of a reader made her way through the whole thing and pointed me in the write direction on fixing it.

I rewrote it and found more beta readers.This time, all made it through and provided excellent feedback. None seemed to adore it, however. I rewrote it again before sending out more queries and getting MORE rejections. 

"My book SUCKS!" I wailed, and tossed it in the proverbial trunk and began a new book ...in a completely different subgenre. My 3rd novel, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE ultimately landed me my fist book deal. And that one also endured at least 6 revisions.

However, my previous book, WRENCHING FATE lingered in my mind. Using all I learned from my 3rd book, I completely overhauled and rewrote the 2nd one. It was practically my 4th novel.
I found more critique buddies and guess what: they LIKED it! Alas, with the publication of BITE ME, YOUR GRACE and working on the other books in that series, as well as working on other shiny new ideas, I had little time to work on WRENCHING FATE.

But that story never left my mind.

Whenever I had a spare moment, I utilized the feedback I received from my beta readers and critique partners and revised it again.

And again.

Now it's in the hands of the final batch of beta readers.

And guess what?

They're already messaging me to tell me they LOVE it!! 

The moral of this story is that if you know deep in your heart that you have a good story, it is indeed possible to make it a great, well written story. 

It just takes a TON of hard work, determination, lots of learning, and countless revisions. Utilizing sources like Grammarly, which I mentioned above, as well as reader feedback and learning from your own mistakes can aid you in your journey to success.  

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Big Announcement!!

First, I have some sad news. Due to marketing decisions and other factors, the release date of ONE BITE PER NIGHT is being delayed until late summer.

However, I have some good news and a big announcement that many of my readers will hopefully be delighted to hear.

I've decided to release, WRENCHING FATE, the first novel in my urban fantasy romance series in early Spring!!!

Here's the blurb:

Silas McNaught, Lord Vampire of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is elated when he finds Akasha Hope, the woman of his psychic visions. He is granted permission to Mark her as his own under one condition: he must guard her friends, one of which is the daughter of the creator of vampires. Silas agrees, thinking Akasha will be happy to see the home he built for her.

To his surprise, Akasha is infuriated when Silas interferes with her life. Furthermore, she is nothing like the sweet woman of his visions. Not only is she a foul mouthed mechanic, she is also the accidental result of a military experiment with the strength of ten men….and government agents are looking for her.

When Silas Marks Akasha’s friends, his vindictive ex lover spurs the Elders to investigate Silas in an attempt to destroy Akasha and gain control of Silas’s charges, which are the key to an otherworldly prophecy. As government conspiracies and vampire politics collide, Silas teaches Akasha the meaning of trust…and love.

And here's the glorious title my cover artist, the fabulous artist and author Danae Ayusso made for me!!

I am so excited I'm squealing like a little girl.

I'll be sharing the official release date and cover soon!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Turkey and Gravy Recipe!

Required Materials:
Roasting Pan
Aluminum Foil
Turkey Baster
Meat Thermometer

1: 15-20lb turkey (If larger may need to increase other ingredients)
1-2 stalks celery
1 large orange
1 onion (I prefer sweet)
1/2 to 1 head of garlic
1 big carrot or 8-10 baby carrots
1 1/2 to 3/4 bottle of ginger ale (2 liter)
1 can chicken broth
1 bay leaf
2 tbs. thyme
2 tbs. parsley
2 tbs. sage
1 tbs. lemon pepper
1 tbs. Seasoned Salt (Johnny's or Lawry's is best!)

(I know it's a long list, but it's totally worth it!)
Okay, here we go.

Preheat oven to 350
Mix thyme, sage, parsley, lemon pepper, and seasoning salt in a small bowl
Chop the onion, carrot, and celery
Peel the garlic and split into segments
Peel the orange and split into segments

Line the roasting pan with enough foil to cover the turkey.
Remove the neck and giblets from turkey
Rub the herb mixture inside both neck and rear cavities of the turkey and a little on the outside.
Stuff turkey with chopped onion, carrot, celery, garlic, orange segments, and bay leaf.
Place turkey in roasting pan.
Pour all chicken broth and half required ginger ale into the cavity.
Truss the turkey and pour more ginger ale over bird and around it.

Make a foil tent over the bird, but try not to have the foil touch it.
Baste periodically and remove foil to allow turkey to brown 45 min to 1 hr before done.
Turkey is done when thermometer inserted into thickest part of the thigh reads 180 degrees.

Here is estimated cooking time by weight:
10-15 lbs = 3 3/4 -4 1/2 hrs. 15-22lbs = 4 1/2- 5 hrs
22-24lbs = 5- 5 1/2 hrs. 24-29lbs = 5 1/2- 6 1/4 hrs

When turkey is done, remove from oven, cover, and let stand 10- 15 min before carving. This allows the juices to resettle.

Bonus Gravy Recipe:
Ingredients: (To taste and as needed)
Turkey drippings/ marinade
Salt (if needed)
Black Pepper

Using the turkey baster, remove as much liquid from turkey as you need and heat it to boiling in a medium saucepan
Mix cornstarch with milk and add to boiling turkey drippings,
Slowly lower the heat and blend with a whisk.
thicken to desired texture and in the meantime season to taste with herbs and pepper. Try not to burn your tongue!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Weird Sh*T In A Writer's Desk Drawer Winner!!!

So sorry for the delay, everyone. First, it was hard to find a non-writer to judge the contest for me, then my poor judge was sick all weekend. On the promise of home cooked soup, he made it today to read through the entries.

After much deliberation and perhaps looking at quiet writers in a whole new way, he declared,

"I gotta give it to Tracey Reid for sheer ecclectic-ness."

So, congrats, TRACEY REID!!

Send your mailing address to annarkie12 @ Gmail.com!!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CONTEST: Weird Sh*T Found in a Writer's Desk Drawer.

Okay, I've cleaned my desk out approximately 5 times in the 10 years I've had it. Today I opened a drawer for my cat to step on instead of my laptop (I'm training him) and I noticed more than a few oddities languishing inside.

Here's my at-a-glance inventory:

A Rose Rock from Oklahoma that my Aunt and Uncle gave me when I was 10.

2 industrial files (for metal, not fingernails)

The "N" portion of a 75 Chevy Nova logo

A Pen that resembles a bone.

A multitude of business cards

Miscellaneous nuts, screws, and bolts.

Feeler gauges

Tacky glue

Sega Genesis Booklets for Sonic The Hedgehog and Mortal Kombat II

A Maneke Neko (Japanese Lucky Cat) Chopstick Rest

CD Scratch Remover

A Wrench painted like a Christmas Ornament.

Sewing needles (I can't sew)



A cigarette case

A bag clip

A steel... marble?

A knife

Misc office supplies and business cards.

This makes me curious about what other writers have in their desk drawers.

And now I want to run a contest.

For the chance to win a $35 Barnes & Noble gift card, open a random desk drawer and tell me what's inside. I'll assign some judges and announce a winner on Monday.   

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

My Awesome Time In The Limelight

See that? That's me at #27 on the Top 100 PAID Kindle bestseller's list! Wednesday MORNING!!!

Because on Tuesday I was a Kindle Daily Deal!!! Naturally I'd anticipated by Kindle sales (Which have been less than impressive) increasing a bit.

But I never expected to go up to 10064... to 133... to 57... and then to 36!

Also, I was #1 in all 3 paranormal romance categories!!!

With a reduced royalty rate due to the discount, it's not that much money, but for exposure, I was overwhelmed and overjoyed. I was above big names like James Patterson, Orson Scott Card, and Janet Evanovich!

Even though I knew that would be a very brief thing, it was still pretty awesome.

Then, when I woke up the next morning, I was at 27!!! With my book back at it's regular kindle price of $5.79. I think I'm at 64 now. So I'm still in the top 100.

For a newbie and relative unknown, this has been an amazing experience.

I want to thank everyone who spread the word and cheered me on that day and all who decided to give BITE ME, YOUR GRACE a shot!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

BRRRR!!! On Coping With Winter.

I wanted to call this post "Winds of Winter and A Dream of Spring" but I didn't want to tease anyone else who is anticipating the release of those books.

However, it would have been an apt title because although I've lived in northern Idaho all my life, I'm one of those people who turns blue when the temperature drops below 70 degrees. Therefore, from November 1st on, I count down the days until Spring.

Four months of waiting for a tolerable climate can be tedious, so I remind myself of all the things I do to make the time pass more quickly.

1.) Write

As an author, that is always my first priority. And I definitely get more writing done without barbecues, fishing, and other fun outside stuff to distract me.

2.) Work on artistic projects

Drawing and painting are among my favorite indoor activities.

3.) Read

There is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a warm blanket and a book as the snow and wind howls outside.

4.) Make soup.

I think I have a soup fetish. I'd make and eat it year-round, but everyone else doesn't seem to share that sentiment, so soup making a much more successful endeavor when it's cold.

5.) Watch movies.

That couch and warm blanket are also wonderful for watching my favorite films.

6.) Enjoy the holidays.

Though winter sucks, I have to admit that Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Eve are immensely enjoyable. I love making my famous turkey and spending time with my huge family.

What are some of your favorite things to do while waiting for Spring?

Friday, November 1, 2013

Halloween Fun Winner!!!

How'd everyone's Halloween go? Mine was excellent! Although my son is at the age where he's thinking he's too old for Trick-or-treating, he decided to humor me and let me take him.

"I'll even give you all of my Reese's, mommy," he said generously.

It was SO FUN! One lady thought I was his big sister and gave me candy too.

Then we ate pizza and candy at a Halloween party and did the time warp. 

Alas, my Jack Nicholson O'lantern fell apart that afternoon so it didn't look as cool that night.

I consoled myself with Reese's and hard cider.

Now to announce the winner.


The winner is HEATHER!!!

I'll email ya and see which e-book format you prefer!

I hope you enjoy reading BITE ME, YOUR GRACE!!!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Halloween Fun! ...And contest!!!!

This year I'd been afraid I wouldn't get to do much for Halloween. Between just starting a new job, still working on my career as an author, the expenses of a surprise vet bill and returning to my goal of restoring my first car, I didn't think I'd have enough time or money.

However, The Great Pumpkin must have smiled on me because I've been enjoying more of the Halloween season than I expected. I've had the chance to watch some spooky fun movies, Soylent Green, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Gremlins, and of course, Nightmare on Elm Street.

My roommate, son, friend, and I had a spectacular evening carving pumpkins and roasting pumpkin seeds.

Finally I dared to try advanced pumpkin carving.

My first is a Jack Nicholson O'Lantern!

Then today I paid homage to my favorite band, Megadeth, and carved their mascot, Vic Rattlehead.

And though I only had a 10 dollar budget, Goodwill had a 75% off sale on Halloween decorations! I got a nifty candy bowl, fake blood splatters and skulls for the windows, some glittery pumpkins, black roses, and spiderwebs. So our place will look festive.

It's my turn to have my son for this holiday and though he's getting to be "too old" he decided to humor me and go trick-or-treating with me. Then we're going to my neighbor's Halloween party.

And I have a black cat!

All in all, it looks like I'll have a splendid holiday.

So to celebrate, I decided I'd give away a free e-book copy of my historical paranormal romance, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE, which is set during the time when the horror genre was born. Also, what's more Halloween than vampires?

To enter, comment and tell me one of your favorite things about Halloween and provide an email address. I'll announce the winner November 1st!

Happy Halloween!!!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cover Reveal for ONE BITE PER NIGHT!!!

I have been waiting FOREVER to show this off!!!

Some of you may have already seen this cover on Amazon and Goodreads:

However, that is not apparently going to be the cover. Even though I like it. Purple is my favorite color and the model on this one looks more like the hero, but the heroine's hair is the wrong color.  

Anyway, for marketing reasons, my publisher decided to make a new cover, which is also fantabulous!


I absolutely LOVE that she's holding a paintbrush and I adore the castle and lake in the background. I also like the stormy chemistry between the couple.

Anyway, I'm hella excited for this book and can't wait to hold the ARCs in my hands... and have a fun giveaway. Stay tuned!!!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Dedications, Acknowledgements, and GRATITUDE

On the surface, writing a book seems to be a one person job. However, that is not the case. As we know, it also takes editors, cover designers, formatting and book packaging people, and many others to get that book in the reader's hands.

But those are only the obvious people involved. As I wrote the dedication and acknowledgement pages for my 2nd novel, ONE BITE PER NIGHT, I realized how many people contributed to the creation of this story and in how many unique ways. These people deserve my undying gratitude.

First there were my critique partners and beta readers who gave me the feedback I needed to make the book the best it could be. 

There was the guy who had really cool hair which inspired the appearance of the hero. "Well, I didn't DO anything!" he protested. "I didn't even know you then."

"You don't get it," I told him. "Writers are weird. I had absolutely no ideas. Your hair inspired me enough to have something to start with."

There was the encouragement and support of many friends when I was discouraged and especially their understanding that I had to often abandon them when buried in my writing cave. 

And there were the people who flat out saved my butt during a drastic life change that could have left me homeless and unable to write. 

There's my mom who, though I'm unable to thank her in person since she passed away, every book is dedicated to her because she always encouraged me and supported my dreams. Also, the heroine is a painter and my mom and I both were as well. Every time Lydia (the heroine) had creative inspiration to paint, I'd remember my mom and I looking at a cool sunset or something and her turning to me and asking, "Do your fingers itch?"

Mom also helped me with some research. I paint with acrylics. My mom painted with oils, like Lydia. So any time I had to describe her work I remember all the stuff my mom told me about oil painting.

Writing this book also makes me grateful for my grandmas. The heroine's grandmother is a hateful biatch in ONE BITE PER NIGHT. After writing that book I appreciate my awesome grandmas all the more. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

On Self- Rewards

Sometimes getting important things done, whether it's writing that next chapter or rewriting a scene, or even simple line edits can be. Sometimes I need extra motivation to finish a writing goal.

Thankfully, I am very susceptible to bribery. And since no one's going to bribe me to get my writing done, I have to bribe myself.

For small goals like a scene or a minor bout of editing, I usually reward myself with a nice snack and listen to music. Megadeth never gets old. :)

The bigger ones, like a whole chapter or mass edits merit something larger, like a movie and a favorite meal. If I finish a marathon writing session one of my favorite self-rewards is going to WINGSTOP and getting the garlic parmesan wings.

Ah, the taste of a job well done.
  Then I take my wings home and veg out on the couch and watch a completely guilty-pleasure kinda movie, like a chick flick or a campy B-horror film.

Time to get my Freddy on.
Finishing a project calls for big time rewards, like indulging on what makes me a writer in the first place: My love of books.

Next on my list.
I also like to hang out with all the friends I didn't get to see while hiding out in my writing cave.

Or maybe doing some karaoke.

In any case, I have a lot of things to motivate me.

What do you do to inspire your productivity? What are your favorite treats?

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Monstrously good chocolate cookies

My work is having a pot luck so I figured I'd make these again. I've shared this recipe before but it's sooo good!

 I don't bake all that often, but these cookies...Oh...My....God. You will have to restrain yourself from eating them all in one sitting. They're also very easy to whip up, but they are NOT very healthy.


1 8oz brick of cream cheese, room temp.

1 stick (real) butter at room temp.

1 Egg

1 tsp. Vanilla extract

1 8 oz box of chocolate cake mix. I prefer fudge, but some like German chocolate cake mix

Powdered sugar for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 350 degrees (F)

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and butter until smooth. An electric mixer is preferred, but you'll live without it.

Beat in the egg, followed by the vanilla extract. Add cake mix and beat. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or 2 to make mixture firm and easy to roll into balls.

Roll the mixture into balls and roll them in powdered sugar. Place them on a cookie sheet (ungreased) 2 inches apart. Bake 15-20 minutes

Cookies will be gooey and awesome. Cool them completely and sprinkle with more powdered sugar if you'd like.

Okay, I'm off to the store for some cream cheese so I can make a batch! This post made me hungry.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Why IT is my Favorite book: (Reposted In Honor of Stephen King's Birthday)

In honor of Stephen King's birthday, I'm reposting this blog post on why IT is my favorite book. 

I am reading IT by Stephen King for the 11th time. Yes, you heard me right. Even though it's not a romance, it is my favorite book. Every time my friends and family see me curled up yet again with the 1138 page tome they shake their heads and ask, "Why do you love that book so much?"

"Because it's awesome!" I'd reply.

Now, I've really been thinking about it. Why do I love IT so much? And how can identifying these reasons help me become a better writer?

I'm finally getting a few answers.

A.) The characters were all outcasts but they became close friends: The Loser's Club. At first I I loved IT because I had little to no friends as a kid, so these characters became my friends. They're still my friends.

Now looking at it with a writer's eye I see that I want my readers to become friends with my characters. Every member of The Loser's Club has a flaw and a virtue, but most importantly, they all have something the reader can identify with.

B.) The setting (1958 Derry, Maine) is so detailed that it's like a character itself. I feel like I go back in time as I visit the landmarks: The creepy run-down house on Neibolt Street where IT takes the form of a leprous hobo, the Derry Standpipe where poor Stan sees the drowned corpses of little boys, the charred remains of the old Derry Ironworks that exploded during an Easter Egg hunt in the 20's, and the Barrens, where the Losers build a club house to hide from the bullies.

As a writer, I want my landmarks to become that real to the reader.

C.) The antagonists. IT is scary enough in itself: a monster that takes the form of whatever you fear and kills little kids. YIKES!!! But that's not all IT is. As you read, it gets deeper and deeper. Then there's the bullies that are determined to make the Losers suffer. Everyone had a bully. I bet even my bullies had bullies.

If I can create villains this compelling and frightening, ::sigh:: if I can do that...

D.) The trials and triumphs of the characters. Your heart alternately bleeds and rejoices for the Losers throughout their story.

I love my characters. So much so that I sometimes don't make them suffer enough. This book reminds me of that.

What is your favorite book, and why? What can it teach you to make your work better? 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Coming out from hiding.

As you all may have noticed, I've been absent from internet-land for awhile. A lot of changes in my personal life have culminated in a move to a new place as well as a new day job. While all of this is for the best, it left me little time for blogging and social networking, just like when I was in school. Naturally, this has made book promotion difficult.

However, I am pleasantly surprised to discover that my book is not quite dead yet! Reviews and positive feedback are still trickling in, brightening my day like nothing else. Just last night I received an excellent review from FRESH FICTION! I'll be doing another guest post for them next month.

I've also had an online article published in Writer's Digest.

However, with all the people asking me how my book is doing, all I know is that it didn't flop yet I'm certainly not the next JK Rowling. I earned out my advance, got some amazing reviews and exposure and have gained a nice fan-base. Seriously, I LOVE my readers and their kind feedback. This is why I do what I do.

So, that's how I've been doing and I hope to get back into a consistent blog schedule as soon as I settle into a semblance of stability. :)

Thanks to all of you for being with me on my journey!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lessons in Beta Reading, Part I.

In the past 30 days I've read and critiqued 3 manuscripts. In return, my buddies have been working on mine as well. One thing I've learned from doing this is that it helps me to become a better writer. Many of the errors and mistakes I've found in my buddies' stories are often found in my own. Now when my buddies and I go through each other's work we go through it all the way, which means we point out spelling, punctuation, and grammar issues as well as add comments and feedback within the text. Over the course of my reading I've spotted enough patterns to merit two blog posts.

Part One: Common Errors in Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation.

1.) Its vs. It's. Its = belonging to it. It's = It is. Example: It's the biggest one I've ever seen! Its girth is terrifying! (Hey, I'm a romance author. Of course that's the first thing that came to mind.)

2.) Loose vs. Lose. Loose= opposite of tight. Lose = loss of something. Your corset is loose. Your girls may lose their support.

3.) Your vs. You're Your = belonging to you. You're = you are. Ex: Hey, hot guy, you lost your shirt. You're making my tummy flutter.

4.) Each other = 2 words. I had a nasty habit of making it one. Please say I'm not alone!

5.) Questions end with question marks! I blame JR Ward for this one. For some reason her characters turn their questions into demanding statements to emphasize how manly pissed off they are...or something. It worked for a bit but got old fast. "What are you doing." = wrong. "What are you doing?" = no headache.

6.) Plural nouns vs. Names anding with S. For some reason a lot of people want to treat a main character with a name ending with "S" as a plural noun, which is incorrect. Proper use: Silas's breath caught at the girls' incredible music. Wrong: Silas' breath caught...etc.

7.) Commas and the word "then." I don't know anyone, including myself that hasn't had an issue with this. There is no comma before then! Ex. She filled the pitcher then carried it to the table. NOT She filled the pitcher, then carried it to the table. Don't ask me why that's wrong, it just is. (HEY, DEAN, IF YOU ARE READING THIS, PLEASE TELL US WHY, OH FELLOW NERD PAL!)

8.) Proper punctuation with dialogue. This is was a disease I had until a wonderful beta cured me. Wrong: "Blah blah blah." He said. Right: "Blah blah blah," he said.

I know there's tons more, so please feel free to chime in! Next time I'll focus on structural issues.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Influence Of The Vampyre: Special Guest Post by Jolene Rosetta McDonald

This lovely lady gave me priceless help with researching John Polidori for my novel, BITE ME, YOUR GRACE. I invited her to come today to tell us about her unique expertise! 

In 2009 and 2010 I had articles published in three UK paranormal
magazines. They described my spiritual experiences with John Polidori
that started in 2006.

The following year I discovered he had written the first influential
vampire story in English and I was intrigued. How could this obscure
figure in history who I had never even heard of until then, be so

Some people (including myself at that time) believe Bram Stoker was
the first to "create" vampires, but his novel Dracula was published in
1897. John Polidori's The Vampyre was published in 1819. The young
Regency doctor was long dead when Dracula came onto the scene, but he
was much further ahead in the vampire stakes. (No pun intended).

It was Polidori who made vampires sexy, seductive and alluring as
opposed to the early depictions of them which were almost zombie-like.
He made the undead glamorous, just as we know them today.

As he is a big influence on my own stories and poetry, I was so happy
to meet Brooklyn Ann online in 2009. She was about to start writing
her debut novel which happened to revolve around vampires in the
Regency period and Dr Polidori would be a character. After making
contact with her, I was thrilled when she let me lend a hand with
research, facts and information about him for her story.

I was even more excited when she included me in her book. I inspired
the character Rosetta. I suggested the name as it is my middle name,
my mother's and was also my great grandma's so it is very personal for
it to be included in the story. It is also an Italian name, which
seems appropriate because Polidori was half-Italian. The character is
also close to him which is an important connection for me.

This may sound weird, but one of the first things I said when John
came into my life was, I would love to be immortalised in a book with
him somehow. I had no idea how that would happen though. It seemed a
crazy idea. I'm not a historical figure! It was just a thought I had
in mind. Then along came Brooklyn Ann and made it happen, without even
knowing what I had said previously. I am also grateful to be credited
on the acknowledgements page at the back of the book. I feel as if it
was no coincidence that I met Brooklyn out of the blue.

John Polidori has been given a bad portrayal over the years. There are
inaccurate film depictions, exaggerations and history books which
focus on the small negatives rather than the many positive aspects of
his life and work. Not everyone can say they achieved a doctorate at
just 19 years old.

I do my best to show the truth about him. He had so much to offer had
he not died so young. I respect and honour his real legacy in any way
I can and Brooklyn does an amazing job in her novel to do the same
thing. She combines fact with fiction perfectly and shows an accurate
view of him. Her depiction is more realistic than he is often
described in non-fiction books. She describes him as handsome,
intelligent, interesting, romantic and caring and that is just what he
was. It is a near as dammit look at him anyway and a great read as a
novel at the same time.

I visited his house twice in 2008. Sadly he has no grave, but he does
not need one to be remembered. He has achieved immortality, just like
his vampyre. His life may have been cut short in his 26th year, but he
will never die.

Monday, August 5, 2013

"Getting to Know Your Characters" Guest Post by Jennifer Dahl

I’ve been a writer for a lot of years now; and I spent most of them alone with a yellow legal pad, a 19₵ medium-point, black ink BIC pen, and an unshakeable desire to introduce the characters in my head to the world at large. It wasn’t until, oh, 2004 or so that I stumbled upon a website called Absolute Write (www.absolutewrite.com), aka AW, and discovered I no longer had to be alone. There’s a whole galaxy full of people out there just like me, struggling to put words to paper – now mostly digitally – and when we’ve struggled alone as long as we dare, we can cry on one another’s shoulders and share the pain.

Since 2004, as both a member and a mod, I’ve read a lot of pleas for help on AW. Writers grappling with outlines, without outlines, plot bunnies, grammar, characters, spelling, doubt, fear, frustration, queries, agents, publishing (both self- and trade)… issues both concrete and ephemeral, but all of those issues had one thing in common: They kept writers from writing.

My biggest hang-up had always been plot and character development and after years of battle, the latter finally succumbed to a method that is as easy as you need and as intricate as you want to make it… and when I first put it together, I had one of those head-slapping epiphanies. I used it for the book I was working on and voila! Not only did I have a full-blown character, I had one with an attitude! I tucked my method away, kept it to myself, and never thought anyone else would be interested.

Fast forward to a few months ago… having hit a place in my current work-in-progress where both it and I needed a break, one from the other, I switched back to trying to help other writers. Within the space of one week, I found myself telling three separate people how I create characters… and the last one said, quite offhandedly, ‘You outta put that in a book!’

Well… uh… doh! So… I put together a booklet on my method and I published it through Amazon.com. It’s not very thick; it’s not a hard read. It’s just one hundred questions you can sit down and ask the character you’re trying to create. The easy questions come first: Name, age, birthplace, heritage, vocation, hobbies, sex… then we get into the ones that require some thought on the part of the character.

Here… let me show you, using a few of the questions that – to me – yielded the most interesting results for my novel of witchcraft and betrayal in Tudor England, ‘Evil’s Own Trinity’. The character in the hot seat is Carolyn, and she’s the real witch responsible for Henry’s troubles.

Q: What do you want long-term?

You mean… why am I here this time? Why now? Because it is time for my master's will to be done. He wishes to show God his church isn't as immortal as he believes. I am here to effect its downfall.

Q: Why do you want it?

It will please my master. That will be good.

Q: What will happen if you don't succeed?

That will not please my master. This would be… bad.

Q: What makes you mad?

People thwarting me… they do not realize I will not be thwarted. They do not know how dangerous it is to get in my way.

Q: What makes you sad?

Remembering other times. Remembering… I do not remember much of other times.

Q: What makes you happy?

Accomplishing my tasks. There are many little things along the way that make me happy… putting my plan together, seeing it come to fruition… the first signs that show me I will be successful. A gift… a token of esteem… a kiss...

Q: What is your favorite food?

Food is food. I prefer quail… swan… lamb… but there have been times when any food at all was good. Better than starving to have anything on a plate.

Q: What is your favorite color?

Gold. Good, solid, spendable gold.

Q: Describe a 'perfect' day.

Plenty of food, plenty of wine, warm weather, and no one to please but myself. Alone.

Q: What do you fear? (It could be argued that the answer to this question is the most important, revealing of all.)

I do not believe I would enjoy being burned at the stake.

Those are just ten of the one-hundred questions in the booklet. Not all will fit your time period or your character, but you might be surprised. Once those characters ‘wake up’ and start talking, they’ll tell you all you need to know… and then you’re on your way together, no longer alone.

Thanks for inviting me to drop by and pontificate for a bit, Brooklyn! ‘Creating Characters: A Sure-Fire Method for Making Real People Out of Nothing at All’ is available in Kindle format for far less than a cup of fancy coffee, and in print as well, at Amazon… but I’d be happy to give a free e-book to one of your readers. Whoever leaves a comment below will get his/her name put in the proverbial hat and I’ll choose a winner at random.

Thanks again and good luck in your own endeavors!


Jennifer Dahl writes steamy historical fiction from her home in Oklahoma, where she lives with her husband, three cats, and Mindy, the Wonder Dog.

‘Before I Forget September’, a dark story of control from beyond the grave; ‘Evil’s Own Trinity’, a tale of witchcraft in Tudor England; and ‘This Lesser Earth’, her 1870s romance novel set in the heartland of America, are available in paperback and for the Kindle e-book reader at amazon.com. To watch the book trailers, visit YouTube.

In addition to ‘Creating Characters: A Sure-Fire Method for Making Real People Out of Nothing at All’ in the non-fiction section, she has also written a family memoir which includes a cookbook section filled with delicious recipes. It is available in paperback as well as Kindle (recipes only) from Amazon.com. Look for ‘Best of Our Best – All American Recipes of an All American Family from All over the World’.

Visit her website, www.jenniferdahl.com, for the latest news. She seldom Tweets, but can be followed @JenniferDahl_AW; and she can be friended on Facebook here.