NaNoWriMo Wrap Up

It’s December 1st, which means the NaNo craziness is over.  Writers are climbing out of dark and cramped caves to participate in the real world again.

So how did I do?

Well … my final word count as of last night was about 63,382.  Yes, this is beyond the 50K word challenge, but I’d honestly hoped to write more than that.  I decided to use the sequel to Soul Avenged as my NaNo project.

The storyline has been incredibly easy to write!  I don’t know what it is about this series.  It’s addicting—being immersed in this dark place--like I’ve taken all the favorite parts of my head and thrown them together in a world as familiar to me as real life.  I adore every one of the sexy characters in this book.  They’re very distinct in my mind, which makes channeling their voices so easy.

What kept me from writing more?

Well, November itself is a crazy month.  Not only is it the month of my hubby’s birthday (though thankfully we celebrated his big 40th bash in October—a surprise party to throw him off), it’s also my daughter’s birthday month, my best friend’s, my mother’s and my grandmother’s.  Let’s not forget Thanksgiving was thrown into the mix as well.  And … I’ve been crazy busy with the cover of Soul Avenged—specifically, the nasty blurb that I’ve had to shrink from about 350 words down to 150.

Ugh.  Not easy.  My brain has been a little bit scattered.

But I should be finishing the first draft of SoW2 by the second week of December!!  Yahoo!

This story is even darker than Soul Avenged—creepier, steamier.  More supes.  And a whole lot more of the Wrath brothers.  Yum.

Just check out my Pinterest boards:

Hot dayum

What’s going on with the sequel to Somnium?

After having gone back and forth for a while, I finally made the decision to publish Soul Avenged before Requiem (Halos, #2).

Requiem is still coming, but its publication will be a bit delayed. 

In the meantime, I’ll soon be announcing the release date for the Witch Hunt anthology in addition to Soul Avenged.

AND!  Cover reveal for Soul Avenged is next week!!

Stay tuned!

Soul Avenged #snippet

Between editing Soul Avenged, working on Requiem and writing for an anthology, my blog posts have been suffering!  At least I'll have something to show for it soon.  In the meantime, I decided to post just a short snippet from Soul Avenged.  Once my plate clears a little (there's a light at the end of the tunnel!), I'll go back to writing some flash stories.  I have yet to write Logan and Zeke's from Soul Avenged. Speaking of Zeke...

(I promise I'll get to the snippet) I found a couple of things I love this week that I want to share.  First, while perusing Amelia James' (Trashywriter) Pinterest board titled 'Man Candy', I came across something that made my coffee taste a little sweeter.

When it comes to a guy's hair, I'm typically a short-crop kinda girl.  However, in Soul Avenged, I gave Zeke a little bit longer hair.  I've seen very few guys who can pull off this style, so I had to go with a LOT of my own imagination.  Zeke looks like a god in the book - he's big and brawny and beautiful.

Although I don't like to put existing faces to my characters while I'm writing them, I'd say this guy's probably the closest I've gotten to what I had in mind for Zeke...just need to photoshop a few tats on him ;)


So, can ANYONE tell me who the hell the guy is in this photo?  Because I think he is just about the best looking long-haired hottie I've seen yet.

The second thing I came across is a couple of bands whose music I've been listening to non-stop.  Blood Red Shoes is one worth checking out.  Bonus points for the lady rockin' the guitar.  My favorite song so far is Cold  <<must listen to this one!

I've always been a fan of The XX, and I'm so looking forward to the new album, Coexist, coming out September because I have absolutely fallen in love with their sneaky peek song, Angels .  I'll just come clean and admit that it's played a couple of times while writing Requiem (Halos #2).

Another favorite from The XX is Shelter.  This one I've listened to a few times while writing Soul Avenged.  Birdy did a nice version of it too...but I remain a fan of the original:

OK!  OK!  Now on to the snippet:

In this scene, Kane wakes up from a nightmare to find Ayden standing over him...

A raging storm emanated from the woman’s gunmetal eyes, almost palpable, as she held him captive with no more than the weapon in her hand.

So beautiful

In spite of the blade at his throat, his breathing slowed, heart calmed.  He fell back against his pillow as she held tight to the hilt.

Her hands were steady, unmoved by him - a relief after the nightmare he’d had.  She didn’t speak a word as she lowered her weapon and retreated to the chaise beside him.

He wanted to watch her for longer.  Wanted to study the lines of impassiveness in her face.

Sleep dragged her from his view.


Wishing all of you a great week!


Sneaky Peek of SoW: Soul Avenged

I'm pretty damn excited today for two reasons... One, it's Friday. What is it about this day of the week that makes me want to sit outside and sip on a margarita?

And second, I get to share a small excerpt from my WiP, Soul Avenged (Sons of Wrath, #1).  You'll finally get to meet Ayden, the badass who's been going fist-to-fist with some of the other MC's in my head.

This won't be very long, just enough to give you a taste of what I've been up to while locked away in my crazy secret laboratory.  So find a comfy chair, grab your drink of choice and have a read.  Comments are welcome.

Most of the musical inspiration for this series came from Paramore and NIN, but I had to include this song as it fueled the excerpt and the scenes that followed.  I recommend turning down your speakers...


Ice water.

The frigid sensation sliced through Ayden’s veins, leaving a numb trail in its wake as she stepped through the remains of the abandoned factory - one of many havens for the crack addicts and prostitutes.

A vile stench assaulted her nose, a potent blend of piss, sex and rotted meat, as garbage crunched beneath her boots.  Foundation had collapsed all around where she stood, crumbled as if the building would fold into the depths of hell.

Graffiti spattered the walls, giving the impression that gangs were the real threat - ‘We don’t die, we multiply.’

Right.  Like gangs own any part of this city anymore. 

The old Packard Plant - a ghostly haunt for tormented souls.  Shitholes were cropping up everywhere, much more rapidly than ever before.  Detroit once a thriving city, brought to ruins.  Grey and lifeless like the suffocating overcast that loomed during daylight.

A Beretta, loaded with silver bullets and a silver parrying dagger rested at one of Ayden’s hips, a silver bullwhip at another, as she moved past comatose bodies and decaying corpses.

Feeding grounds, like a bait pile.

Deadened eyes, zombified, slowly tracked her movement in the darkness, squinting, as though craving the light that hers didn’t need to see.  Humans so strung out on drugs, they failed to recognize the half-eaten carrion were once their own kind.

Not that knowing would stop them.  They’d apparently chosen to face danger rather than kick their addiction, roaming the streets every night in search of their next high.


They were already dead.  Death just hadn’t come to collect yet.

The blissful sigh of a hopped-up junkie reached her ears.  She snarled her lip.  “Enjoy it while it lasts, asshole.”

It’d be one thing if they were homeless.  Hell, she might’ve fired a warning shot to evacuate.

The homeless didn’t come here though.

Neither did the police - making it the perfect spot to get wasted and hustle some money.  Shots fired would’ve been nothing more than a momentary distraction before their minds slipped back into their ignorant state of euphoria.

Screw ‘em.

For any other girl, the place promised very bad things - an opportunity for a sadist to live out wild fantasies without ever getting caught.

But for Ayden?  Humans posed no threat. Their fragile bodies would shred like paper dolls against the work of her hands.  Lucky for them, she sought something else to sate her thirst for bloodshed, something far more threatening than their most psychopathic criminal - and she’d tracked it here to the surrounding cornucopia of human flesh.

Just A Little Update...

Wow, it's been a long time since I've blogged...anything!  I thought, since I've gotten a few questions in real life, asking 'When's book 2 coming?', that I should provide a little update; letcha know what's going on in this head of mine. First, my nephew was born a week ago today.  Man, time flies!  He's such a little cutsie pie!  Check this out:

I am one happy auntie...

Second, I just sent off my newest WiP, with a working title of Soul Avenged, to my beta readers.  This is book 1 of the Sons of Wrath series...clearly a distraction for me, but one that I couldn't let slip past without writing it down.  Here's what happens:  I'm this walking, open vessel for ideas.  It's a curse, really.  I can't get over how many silly things manage to inspire a story.  I hear a song...BOOM, a story pops in my head.  I rifle through pictures of a recent trip...BOOM, a story pops in my head.  I read someone's brilliant poetic words...BOOM, a story pops in my head.  I don't even know where Soul Avenged came from, what of the million little inspirational gems I've been exposed to since last October, might've given rise to these voices and scenes.  But they did and I went with the flow.  In the end, I wrote a 100K novel that I'm hoping is being torn to shreds by my betas at this very minute.

So my nephew is distraction is sated (sort of)...what happens next?

I've already begun the prequel novella to Halos.  You want answers and I'm going to start giving you some.  But I think you know me well enough by now, to realize you're not getting everything...hehe.  Well, because I like to torment.  That's just how I roll.  So I'll sneak a few answers in to hold you over until book 2 comes out.

When is the prequel expected to arrive?

Because it's just a novella, I am going to shoot for completion at the end of summer.  It will go through the same process - beta readers, editor, cover reveal etc.  AND BOOK 2?!  You ask, with your hands on your hips and that unyielding expression on your face.  Book 2 will be out shortly after the prequel.  So hold tight...but don't worry.  Distractions are a natural part of my genetic make up.  They don't mean I've off and left y'all hangin' like a dangling chunk of tuna bait over shark infested waters.  Uh...sharks being your overwhelming curiosity...

I'm hoping to give you more to devour.  Soon.

Just want to tell you how much I love your continued interest in the trilogy.  The emails, the comments on my FB pages, the conversations in person...all so humbling.  Thank you for being such awesome readers.

In the meantime, check back this Friday...I'll be posting another flash story based on some characters from Soul Avenged!

The Baby Shower

For the last couple of weeks, my sisters, mother and I have been planning my sister, Lisa’s, baby shower.  Not only was I immersed in an assembly line for invitations, a distinguished member of decorations committee, and wannabe sommelier for the secret pre-party meetings, but I helped make arrangements for the cake and bravely experimented with some candy making (yes, I actually gave this a shot and it turns out, I’m not THAT bad at it).  Check this out:


My sister and brother-in-law, Glenn, are having a boy (which explains all the blue and brown) and after months of tossing around names, they finally agreed on Niko.  We wanted to do something special for the arrival of baby Niko.  So I gathered up the family one afternoon and bought a bunch of river rocks that we painted blue (with baby’s name) for guests to take home and place in their gardens.

The only decent-looking ones are those that I didn’t paint.  In fact, my 3 year old did a better job.  Somehow, in a family full of artists, I got the crappy end of the paintbrush.  I can do stick figures…somewhat.  But I cannot pull off brushstrokes, balance and all those inherent little things that artists seem to know.

Since this wasn’t exactly my forte, I didn’t feel like I’d done something truly special for my soon-to-arrive nephew.  I wanted to do something Aunt Keri-ish.  So I decided to write him a story to go with the rocks.  A poem, of sorts.

I have to tell you, I’ve written poetry since I was a teenager.  But the stuff I write is typically dark, brief and almost never rhymes, unless by freak accident.  My poetry is not something I often share, as it’s a bit more personal than my usual writing.  I had to crawl out of my skin a little to write this.  And since I didn’t want to give my nephew-to-be a lifetime of nightmares, I dropped the dark and added a little whimsical.  I was sort of going for a Dr. Seuss kind of story.  And at the end I added instructions for the party guests, describing what to do with the rocks.

Here is the story that I wrote for baby Niko to go with the blue painted rocks (sorry there is a major spacing issue that I just could not figure out for the life of me):

The Rock and the Tree

The rock from afar, holds no special sight.

It sits on the ground, and never takes flight.

And yet, its uses are many, you see.

The rock helped establish the river and tree.

Don’t believe me?

Well, listen, I’ll tell you a story.

Bout a seed in the ground and a rock from the quarry.

How the two came to be special friends over time.

It starts years ago with a cute little rhyme.

Niko the seed lay adrift on the soil.

Alongside the riverbank, where he started to toil.

He thirsted for water and shade from the sun.

But all of his efforts, resulted in none.

As a seed he was stuck and could not move around.

Instead he glanced longingly at the sprouts in the ground.

The water had found them and nourished them so.

It helped them take root and allowed them to grow.

Niko the seed sat helpless and cried.

Fearing, without water, that soon he’d be dried.

In the sun he lay thinking, ‘Oh what can I do?

The answer came hurling in a rock colored blue.

It scared him at first, landing hard with a thud.

Beside the little seed where it lodged in the mud.

Mud?’  wondered Niko, ‘How can this be?

Well that rock changed the course of the river, you see.

Diverted its path toward the dry little seed.

It helped Niko burrow in the soil to feed.

It gave him the shade from the sun that he’d need.

And Niko was grateful, so grateful indeed.

“From where do you come?”  asked the seed to the stone.

“A quarry,” he answered, “where I sat so alone.

‘Til a boy picked me up and took me to his home.

The bright blue caught his eye while he aimlessly roamed.

In his pocket he kept me, day after day.

Then skipped me across the river in play.

Now here I lay, I suppose, for a bit.

Do you mind if I share the mud where you sit?”

“Not at all!” cried Niko, “I’d love you to stay!

To hold conversation and help pass the day.”

“Oh joy!” Said the rock, “and let this be known,

I vow to protect you in this place you’ve been sown.

I’ll provide you with water, friendship and shade,

I hope you will find this a reasonable trade.”

So there the rock sat, giving comfort and shelter.

From the dry summer sun and all of its swelter.

And soon autumn came, then winter and spring.

There sat the rock, still doing it’s thing.

Year after year seemed to pass in a blur.

And that little sapling grew to a large Fir.

The rock sits beside it, though now it’s quite small.

Compared to the tree standing noble and tall.

So the next time you see a small rock on the ground

Perhaps there’s a seed lying somewhere around.

Still don’t believe that a rock can change courses?

Mold a new path and influence the forces

That block us from that which we need to get by?

Then here is something I wish you to try:

A baby is coming, and soon you will see

The manner in which a rock you can be.

His future, unwritten.

His path, open wide.

Be the rock by the river

Be the shade at his side.

Help nourish him now

And guide him along

For he too is destined to grow noble and strong.

Lay this rock in your garden or beside a new tree,

Think of the baby and the man he’ll soon be.

Know in his journey, you helped him become

The tall tree that now shades the small rock from the sun.


Instructions:  Place this rock somewhere special – in a garden, a flower pot, your windowsill, near a small or large tree – wherever you’d like.  Write your name on a small white scrap of paper and set it beside the rock.  Take a picture of the rock and paper along with the object by which you set the rock (can be with a phone camera) and send to Lisa.  The pictures will be placed in Niko’s baby book as the ‘rocks’ in his life.

Here are just a couple examples, including mine:

I received a very nice surprise from one of my writer friends, the very lovely J. A. Belfield, who read the story and expressed how much she enjoyed it in an email.  She attached a recording of herself, reading the story aloud.  I have to say, not only do I adore her accent, but I think she did such a wonderful job reading it, that I had to share it with you.  I forwarded her recording along to my sister as a little audiostory for baby Niko.

The Rock & the Tree

What are some creative ways that you’ve welcomed a new baby into your family?

What's Goin' On?!

Wow, it seems like forever since I’ve written a blog post.  So you might be wondering, what the hell is going on?!

I’ve asked myself that a number of times in the last couple of weeks.  It started on January 27th of this year.  I was on my way to my nephew’s basketball game, about an hour from where we live.  So…there was a whole lotta staring out the window thinking about nothing in particular.

I’ll back up a few months ago when I began hearing her voice.  Whose voice?  Her voice.  I knew exactly who she was.  And I’d chosen to ignore her for a very long time.  No way was I going to commit to what she was asking of me.  I couldn’t even if I wanted to.  I didn’t have the time or the energy.  Better to just pretend like she didn’t exist.

Well that lasted a couple of months.  And I think she got pissed off at me during that time.

So now let’s go back to January 27th when I’m sitting in the passenger seat of my car watching the Michigan landscape fly by me.  I was suddenly struck by some invisible force (and I mean HARD) that resulted in all these thoughts pooling in my mind like a hemorrhage; as if someone took a baseball bat to my brain and started beating the ideas right out of me.  I squeezed my eyes shut and willed them away.  I got on Twitter.  I counted the cars that passed; thought of the lyrics to different songs; ANYTHING to keep me distracted.  And when nothing worked, I finally gave in, pulled out my trusty iPhone notes app and started jotting away.

I wasn’t really going to take it serious.  Oh no.  Definitely NOT.  Ok, maybe a flash story.  A short story.  But nothing more than that.  I knew it was her voice again, vying for attention.  Ho ho!  I’ll be damned if within that hour drive, she suddenly had a face, a name, and a reason for existing in my thoughts.

So by now you're probably wondering, who is she?

'She' is the protagonist to a storyline that's been rattling the bars, hellbent to be unleashed from it's imprisonment in the back of my head.  The same story I've done my best to smother the last few months because I'm in the thick of my Halos trilogy.  I just needed to take a couple of notes so that once I'm finished with Halos, I could switch gears and start something new.

Well that sneaky little…

I ended up writing 10K words that weekend.  By week’s end, I had about 40K.  The week after that, another 20K.  Here I am, just over a month after I’d first sat down and I’m FINISHED with the novel’s first draft at 96K.  No.  Kidding.  This isn’t the sequel to Halos.  This wasn’t even meant to be.  So WTF?!

Good question.  I’ve been trying to tease that out for the last month.  It turns out, my MC wasn't the only one looking for attention - apparently she told her friends.  Because in addition to this one little book that I was supposed to simply humor for a few minutes, I now have about 8 storylines bouncing around in my head - one for each of the brothers in this handsome brood of wrath demons.  That’s right, wrath demons.  Sons of Wrath.  Can you guess what their specialty is?

My favorite topic of all time – vengeance.

I’ve been dying to write a story a bit closer to home.  As many of you know, Somnium is set in Kittery, Maine.  If you’ve read any of my interviews or guests posts then you know that one of my favorite movies in the world is The Crow, set in a very gothic Detroit.  Oh yes, I fell in love instantly when this movie first came out and not just because of Brandon Lee (RIP) or the kickass soundtrack that accompanied it.  There was an instant connection that I felt.  Perhaps because it was something cool that seemed close to home for me.

So I decided it’s time I write something of my own.  This new series is set in gothic Detroit.

I tossed around whether or not to do anything with it.  It’s a different style of writing for me.  But I guess that’s why it came so easily.  It was new and…well, different.  One of those things – did I write this for myself?  Was it just an exercise to keep writer’s block at bay?  I don’t know.  But I think the storyline turned out pretty decent for a fast written draft.  So I’m going to keep toiling away on my obsessive edits and see what I have when I’m finished.

I’m pretty excited about it!  For those who’ve become fans of Somnium, I’ll just warn you that this book is edgier.  There’ll be more violence, action, strong language and the love scenes are bit steamier than before, methinks.

Once this book is finished, I’ll be back to Requiem, book 2 of the Halos trilogy.  But it would have been irresponsible of me not to take advantage of the creative flood that burst through the gates and seized my attention.  And I can’t wait to introduce you to Ayden…the feisty female who acted as the catalyst behind all of this madness.

Turns out, she’s one badass chica that I’ve come to know and really hate to love.

Have you ever been struck with an idea that you simply could not ignore no matter how desperately you tried?




Location Location

As a science geek, I find research to be interesting and fun.  Digging into textbooks, websites and journals has always been the best part of studying in college.  I would venture to say, it's an inherent part of my DNA, to love investigation and experimentation.  In fact, I think I've mapped out the exact genetic sequence.  Have a VERY close look:


Currently, I'm working on book two of my Halos trilogy, titled Requiem.  For those who have read Somnium, you know that the story is set on Seavey's Island.  I chose this location because my sister was based there for a project (for those who don't know, my MC is loosely based on my sister).  But, I couldn't have anticipated stumbling across the history behind the island and Kittery.  The big question many have asked after reading Somnium is:  what the hell is going on at that base?  Well, I'm certainly not going to answer that in this blogpost.  That would be crazy.  But what I can tell you is I'm busy unraveling that little mystery at...well, not THIS very moment because I'm writing this post...but AFTER the post is written, I'll get back to it.

I do, however want to pass along this little gem.  Something is going on at Seavey's...and this is one of the facilities that I'll be writing about.  Prime haunted real estate smack dab in the middle of my beloved little island.  Check this out (and I'll just tell you, I did not shoot the video for this.  Kinda noisy in the background):

I've been trying to get my hands on as much as I can about this naval prison and it's been an absolute blast.  There is still so much I have to look into.  The ideas are flooding my brain and I can't seem to type fast enough.  Known as the "Alcatraz of the East", Portsmouth Naval Prison boasts a long-standing history dating back to 1905 when construction began.  It used the same tidal current model as Alcatraz to deter escape of inmates.  And was effective - there were no confirmed escapes.  As if this isn't enough coolness to write about, check out these images:

The difficulty and perhaps intriguing piece of researching this facility is that it is not open to the public, unlike Alcatraz.  Access to the grounds is restricted.  Therefore, it will be up to my wildly imaginative mind to come up with visuals of what the inside must look like.  I think the outside of the building, coupled to its haunting stories is enough to get me started.  Muahahahaha!

As an added bonus, I have an excuse to watch a Jack Nicholson film.  The Portsmouth Naval Prison is featured in The Last Detail, a 1973 comedy about Navy sailors assigned to escort a young sailor to the prison after he is caught stealing.  Whooohoo!  All in the name of research...

What research have you conducted for a book?


The Last Day of 2011

Weeelllll, I know there's a lot of these reflective posts going around, but hey, a lot's happened this year for some of us...monumental events that we'll never forget as long as we live (unless we end up suffering from some medical affliction that makes us forget and in that case, better to have written it down somewhere).  Besides, I'm a writer.  I love to ramble on paper. But I'll try to keep this post short and sweet.

There were some pretty huge events that occurred in my personal life.  I won't go into that since I try to keep personal stuff to myself as much as possible.  But just know that 2011 will go down as a heart-warming year for the simple fact that I got to spend more of it with the most important people in my life.

There was, however, one big thing in my not-so-personal life:

I published a friggin book.

A year ago, had you Googled my name, you'd find NOTHING.  That's right.  Nothing.  How do I know?  I did it many times to make sure there was nothing.  Because at one time, I was a hermit who wanted nothing to do with the internet.

I finished a novel and I needed beta readers.  And NO ONE knew I'd written a book.  Well, except for my mom.  And my best friend.

So I joined an online writing workshop called Scribophile.  I was shy, in fact, I didn't even use my real name at first.  Every time I posted something, I was so nervous I could hardly type without backspacing all over the place.  I met three pretty amazing people who helped me learn how to take criticism for my work.  To post something without the nervous jitters.  They pulled me out of my shell and encouraged me to get my writing out there.

From there, came the blog.  And I had NO IDEA what the hell to blog about.  I struggled for the first few weeks trying to figure it out.

Next was Twitter and I panicked, thinking I'd NEVER learn this 'Facebook on crack' social network.  But I did and I met some fantastic people that I now call friends.  Then came the FB page, the website, four fabulous beta readers, the decision to self-publish, a kickass editor, the book trailer, the cover art, bookmarks and....just over two weeks ago, my first published book.

I know other writer buds who've also had an outstanding year.  Writing a book takes dedication, perseverance and mental conditioning.  There are times a writer wants to toss the WIP and start over, but instead stays the course.  I've had some pretty wonderful words of encouragement along the way.  From my hubby, my daughters, my parents, siblings, cousins, friends, neighbors...

Here are three of my favorite from 2011:

"I would shovel shit the rest of my life, just so you could write the rest of yours"  ~ My all-time favorite from my awesome hubby (also the dedication for my book)

"Mommy, I'm going to publish a book someday, just like you"    ~ My oldest daughter

"Keri, you have busted your ass for this and will soon be inducted into the very exclusive group of people who became published authors within their lifetime.  Your literature will carry forward through generations of human existence well beyond your years, making you literally immortal.  Congratulations big sis!!!  I'm rooting for you front and center. "    ~ My brother, just before the book launched.

And so, one of my New Year's Goals for 2012:  Publish another book

What was the highlight of your 2011?

Post Release

It's been a couple of days now since I released Somnium.  Some folks are waiting on copies while others have already received them and begun reading.  And here I sit...waiting for the reviews to roll in.  I had the pleasure of spending time with family over the weekend at a Christmas party.  Many times I was asked, "How does it feel to be published?" How does it feel? 

Of all the words swirling in my head, only one comes to mind:  humbling.

I've managed to distract myself with preparations for the holidays, but there is a looming thought in the back of my head:  what are people going to think about it?  Isn't this what all writers agonize over, after tossing a nice juicy t-bone out there?

So I decided to study some reviews, to get an idea of what kinds of things people say about books that they love or hate.  I perused quite a few reviews on Goodreads from best-selling traditional to Indie work.  Contrary to what I originally assumed, there doesn't seem to be a distinction for rating a self-published work over traditionally pubbed.  People voice their thoughts without much regard for the manner in which a book comes into being.  Of the books I checked out, I didn't get a sense that the reviewers were thinking, that was crappy, but it was self-pubbed, so I'll cut them some slack.  And they shouldn't.  If I'm bold enough to put my self-pubbed work out there, I should be equally prepared to take the criticism that goes with it.

I won't say which title, but I've read one book that I so wanted to fall in love with based on its concept, and simply could not.  In fact, I reread certain parts of this book, just in case I missed something that could overshadow my distaste for it.  In my mind, there were too many things wrong with the storyline.  This is a NYT bestselling series with quite a following.  I scrolled through the many many reviews, noting quite a few 5* ratings with some exuberant commentary to go with it.  There are some people out in this world, a lot actually, who LOVE this book.  But I also came across some 1* ratings with rude and tactless remarks.  Everyone is entitled to an opinion, no doubt (I think it does a disservice to the author if every rating is glowing with stars).  But come on, have some consideration that this is a public forum - particularly if you're another writer who'll be jonesin' for some positive feedback soon.

The problem with Goodreads is the black hole that one can get sucked into while reading these things.  You can't help but check out other books these people have rated to see how they rate books in general.  This leads to a neverending maze and before you know it, you're off in some other galaxy wondering how in the hell you got there.  Eventually, I had to stop looking at them.  But one thing occurred to me...books are not necessarily categorized into good and bad as I originally thought in my narrow-minded head.  It all comes down to taste.  Genres exist for a reason - people have preferences.  And even within those preferences are more preferences.  The parts that I cringe about in my book might be golden to someone else who reads it (let's hope).  Even the worst self-pubbed books, pursued without much thought or regard for the industry and loathed by the majority, can garner some fandom (a horrifying thought).

It's not even been 3 whole days since my release and I can't get over how much I've learned already.  I don't even have the reviews back yet to guide this level of understanding, so I can't say for certain where it comes from.  Maybe just the frightening and humbling experience of exposing myself to the world.  I now have a pretty good idea what I'm going to do for book 2.  It's not just the publication and marketing piece that will be easier.  It's the writing.  For weeks, months, I've tried to tease out what had to be fixed with the manuscript, what didn't sound right to me.  It's not that I thought it was perfect by any means, but just that I couldn't SEE what another reader might look at as a negative.  Like a black cloud in front of my eyes the whole time that suddenly gave way to sunlight.  What moved it?  I'll go back to - the power of publication is profound.

I know for certain, with the second book, I'll take advantage of the editors and the many brilliant writers found on writing workshops.  I did this for part of book 1 and it helped tremendously.  It's kind of funny, when I first started writing and allowing people to read my stuff, I was so paranoid.  Like a true amateur, I would add the little copyright to the bottom of my MS whenever I sent it out.  And I had this really foolish idea that I shouldn't send my work to other writers in the event they take the storyline and run.  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHA!!!!!!!!  *cough*  HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!   If I could draw worth a damn, I would come up with the expression on a writer's face when another writer asks them to beta read something.  A cross between, 'I'd love to' and 'wait, you mean right now?'

I've always loved science.  There's a reason - the courses in college always came with a lab.  Sure I could study microbes in a book, but it wasn't until I had gone through the experience of seeing these invisible organisms through the microscope (following the painstaking trouble of incubating them and producing pure cultures), that I could really grasp a full understanding of them.  I guess I'm more of a hands-on kinda gal.  So it makes sense that the lightbulb would go on now versus prior to publication.  I'm writing book 2 now with less clutter in my brain.  With each book I write, I'm hoping to sharpen my skills and better organize my thoughts.  I'm finding the writing is faster this time around; the thoughts forming easier.  Perhaps I would have learned this with time.  A long time maybe.  But regardless, I'm glad I did it.  It's been a great experience.

RELEASE DAY: Somnium (Halos)

I had this crazy notion a few years back:  to write a book.  I'd written enough of the small stuff (flash, poetry, short stories) for a while.  It was time for a REAL commitment.  It's so easy to find resolution by the end of a short story, but attempt that in a novel, and well, that requires a bit more than just a few minutes jotting down a storyline.  I'd written chapters, scrapped them, saved some on floppy disks somewhere.  Is there a computer in the world that can read a floppy nowadays?  This was going to be it for me.  My novel.  The one I'd publish. So I sat and wrote every chance I could steal:  before work, in my car at lunch, after work, on the weekends.  I even wrote on Christmas morning before my kids got up.  And we all know how early kids get up on Christmas morning.  Yes, I loved writing that much.

I attempted to send out a few query letters.  The truth is, I had no idea what I was doing.  In fact, I don't even know if I sent them to approrpriate agents.  I got the impersonal stamped rejection letters, did a little research, sent out a few more and had a couple of nice handwritten letters come back.  Rejected of course, but kind.  Not realizing that this was all part of the process for writers, I gave up on the project and figured perhaps I wasn't meant to write a book.

Then a new idea hit me...

The second book was an urban fantasy and I was so incredibly excited about the storyline, I found even MORE cracks in my day to write.  I'd keep notecards next to me on my desk at work and jot ideas while I was waiting for reports to generate.  I would steal moments in the elevator, by myself, daydreaming of a scene to write.  There were times I'd be reading a patient chart and be struck by dialogue that I'd have to quickly scribble on a scrap of paper tucked somewhere in my labcoat.

Same routine.  I wrote up, what I considered, a very spiffy query letter.  Researched a list of agents.  This time, I was much more organized about it.  I had contact names and even used red font to strikethrough them when my query came back rejected.  What am I doing wrong?  Is my writing that horrible?  Well, maybe it wasn't my best, but I still hadn't learned anything about the slush pile.  Whoa!  I know what you're did you even get that far?

So for kicks, I stopped writing for a bit and studied the publishing industry.  I bought books on the topic and familiarized myself with some bestselling authors.  I had always liked reading, but I never paid attention to what was really popular.

My sister called me out of the blue one afternoon.  Now, for those who know nothing about my calls with her can be incredibly entertaining.  As a matter of fact, I just recently had a phone call that I was pretty sure would land me in the ER, I was choking from laughing so hard.  Some of her stories are not even intentionally funny - just her naivete.  Don't get me wrong, the girl's a bit genius (she's the engineer that Allie, in Somnium, is based off of), but she has her moments.  Going back to the phone conversation, in a matter of minutes, she detailed her interactions with some of the men she worked with and the military guard on base that she was sort of crushing on.  I cracked up at some of the thoughts that would go through her head when she saw this guy.  And then we hung up.

I don't even know when it happened, but sometime in the night, Colton materialized in my head and began speaking to me in that smooth and sexy tone.  I realized, he was the guard at the gate.  Sure military guys are cute, but I never really fantasized about one...until now.  For a moment, I felt that familiar spark of excitement as he whispered sweet nothings in my ear.  I fought against it.  Criminy, I have to get up in the morning.  I am NOT starting another book.  But he persisted.  Okay.  But just a short story.  That's it.  So I woke up the next morning and began to write.  And I wrote during lunch.  Then when I came home that evening I wrote some more.  Dammit.  I'm writing another novel.  If you can believe it, I managed to squeeze even more time out of my day.  In meetings, I could hardly concentrate...which landed me in some pretty embarrassing moments.  Picture a love scene playing out in your head at about the same time the CMO asks a direct question.  "Uh.  What?"  Sorry, I was licking a tattoo on a nice juicy bicep a second ago.

I decided not to bother much with agents.  I wrote out a query letter and sent to a couple of agencies.  But I STILL haven't heard back from them.  Pretty sure that was a year ago now.  I joined a writing group and met some great people that I now call friends.  A blog followed soon after that and I sat, hands trembling, writing my first blog post.  This is going to be out in the public!  The public, Keri!  People will see this!  I agonized all the while.  I joined Twitter and found myself scared shitless.  How the hell am I going to read all of these tweets everyday??  There's thousands of them!  And more just keep popping up!  *clears throat*  A Facebook account and fan page came after and I sat for hours trying to figure out what the heck to call myself.  Author?  No.  Writer?  I guess...but, what's the difference between author and writer?

Then came telling friends and family I wrote a book.  Here's how that went:

Me:  Um.  So I uh...wrote a story.  Well, not really a story.  It's longer than a story.  It's actually.  Well, I guess you'd call it a novel.

F&F:  Awesome Keri!  What kind of novel is it?

Me:  Uh.  Romance.  *voice suddenly cracks* Paranormal romance

F&F:  So is it like people having sex with ghosts?

Me:  Well.  *lightbulb*  Maybe at some point.  But this one has angels and demons

It's been one thing after another since then.  Blogposts that became easier over time.  Chats on Twitter.  Postings of my writing.  Interviews, giveaways and now...publication.

Such a strange little path with odd twists and turns along the way.  But it's been fun and I can't wait to see where the next bend in the road leads.