Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Guest Post - Kathryn Meyer Griffith - Scraps of Paper

Dusty Pages Proudly Presents a back story essay by Kathryn Meyer Griffith









The Story of Scraps of Paper

A murder mystery by Kathryn Meyer Griffith

I’ve been writing for over forty-one years and have gone through a lot of frustrating or downright infuriating situations with publishers and editors. Since 1981 I’ve had eight of them. I’ve suffered 4% royalties, dreadful covers, bad editing and shoddy proof-reading, confusing statements, late royalty payments (or nonexistent ones) and other near-criminal acts committed against me by publishers and editors I’d so naively put my trust into over the years. Now days I like to look back at those occasions, write about them; smile or even laugh over them, though they weren’t so funny when they were happening. This is one of those smiling times…because the conception, writing, publishing and, finally, self-publishing of my murder mystery Scraps of Paper has had such a long vexing journey.

On January 15, 2013 I self-published it as an eBook, for the first time, on Amazon Kindle Direct, after waiting ten long years as it languished beneath a terribly unfair hardback contract with Avalon Books that had a sell-off limit of 3,500 hardcopies. Ten years where they claimed it barely sold (no joke…their asking price was ridiculously high at $26.00) and that it didn’t sell one copy in the last two years of its contract–though the book was on sale everywhere on the Internet. I never received one royalty statement and had to beg in yearly emails to be told how many copies had sold that year. Of course, since the totals never got near the 3,500, , they said, I would get no royalty statements. And I never did. Not one. Ever. Last month my book was finally mine again and I was free of that atrocious contract and now, after a revision and commissioning a new stunning cover from my cover artist Dawne Dominique, I’ve released it into the world without the publisher’s shackles to imprison it. Fly little bird, fly!

Originally I wrote it be the first of a series set in this quaint, quirky little town I tongue-in-cheek called Spookie. I mean, most of my books before were horror novels and I was basically considered a horror writer, so the town’s name was the tip-of-the-hat to my horror roots. It’d be my first venture into that genre, which I’d always loved. Sherlock Holmes. Murder She Wrote. Detective Frost. Miss Marple. I wrote it and then, quickly after, a second in the series All Things Slip Away for Avalon Books. I got a modest advance up front for each one.

It was 2002. I’d come out of a lengthy publishing dry spell. My seventh paperback novel, Zebra’s The Calling, a ghost story with an ancient Egyptian theme, had come out in 1994. Then they dumped a lot of us mid-list horror writers, me included, saying horror was dying; and for eight years I couldn’t sell another book. Well, living my life got in the way during some of that time. I’d lost my long-time good-paying graphic artist job in 1994 and had to find another one. The pay was a lot less. No good for my budget or my standard of living, which really fell. I went from one of five bad jobs to another over the next six years…each worse and lower paying than the one before. Each more demanding. I needed to make money. No longer could I live with pie-in-the-sky literary dreams. I had to face reality. So I stopped writing for a while.

When I finally came up for breath and my head was back on straight again I decided to write something different…a mystery. I’d always loved mysteries. I began writing Scraps of Paper. About a woman, an artist named Jenny, whose husband has been missing for two years, and who’s just learned he’s been dead all that time–a victim of a gone-wrong mugging. She begins a new life and moves to a small town full of fog, quirky townspeople and mysteries. And right away she’s drawn into one of her own when she buys, renovates, a fixer-upper house and uncovers hidden in it scraps of paper written by two young children who once lived there with their mother, and who supposedly drove away thirty years before and were never seen again. The town thought they simply went someone else; began a new life. But Jenny suspects they never left the house; suspects they’d been murdered. Then she finds three graves in the back.

Of course, with her history of a missing husband she develops the overpowering urge to find out what happened to them. The scraps of paper she continues to find makes the bond, the desire, stronger. She forms a friendship with an ex-homicide cop, Frank, and together they try to solve the mystery. Only thing is there’s someone still living in the town that just as desperately doesn’t want them to. Someone who’d kill to keep the murderer’s identity secret.

When done I was proud of it. Thought it was good. I sent it to Avalon Books in New York. They loved it and bought it. I signed the contract, though I didn’t like some of the things in it. But I was desperate. I hadn’t had a book published in so long and, as my mom always said, beggars can’t be choosers. I sold them the second in the series, hoping it’d help sell the first. They got great reviews. But I came to regret signing both those contracts more as every year went by because I never received one penny more for either book for the next ten years. I know, it sounds impossible. But it happened to me. I’m sure it happened to a lot of their authors. Probably one of the reasons Avalon Books sold themselves lock-stock-and-barrel to Amazon Publishing in June of 2012 and, without their authors’ knowledge or permission, including mine, sold away their authors’ contracts from under them as well. I guess you live and learn. I was just lucky Scraps of Paper’s contract had run out. I took the book back.

But, all that is in the past, and my revised Scraps of Paper-Revised Author’s Edition is now available, on sale for $3.99 (much better than $26.00), at Amazon Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00B1W4A2K And I hope people will have the chance to read it this time around and like it.



Abigail Sutton’s beloved husband walks out one night, doesn’t return, and two years later is found dead, a victim of a long ago crime. It’s made her sympathetic to the missing and their families.

Starting her new life, Abigail moves to small town and buys a fixer-upper house left empty when old Edna Summers died. Once it was also home to Edna’s younger sister, Emily, and her two children, Jenny and Christopher, who, people believe, drove away one night, thirty years ago, and just never came back.

But in renovating the house Abigail finds scraps of paper hidden behind baseboards and tucked beneath the porch that hint the three could have been victims of foul play.

Then she finds their graves hidden in the woods behind the house and with the help of the eccentric townspeople and ex-homicide detective, Frank Lester, she discovers the three were murdered. Then she and Frank try to uncover who killed them and why…but in the process awaken the ire of the murderer. ***

***This book is the first of a series. The second book, All Things Slip Away, where Abigail and Frank’s sleuthing adventures continue is also for sale on Amazon.





About Kathryn Meyer Griffith...

Since childhood I’ve always been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before I quit to write full time. I began writing novels at 21, over forty years ago now, and have had seventeen (ten romantic horror, two romantic SF horror, one romantic suspense, one romantic time travel, one historical romance and two murder mysteries) previous novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press and Amazon Kindle Direct.

I’ve been married to Russell for almost thirty-five years; have a son, James, and two grandchildren, Joshua and Caitlyn, and I live in a small quaint town in Illinois called Columbia, which is right across the JB Bridge from St. Louis, Mo. We have three quirky cats, ghost cat Sasha, live cats Cleo and Sasha (Too), and the five of us live happily in an old house in the heart of town. Though I’ve been an artist, and a folk singer in my youth with my brother Jim, writing has always been my greatest passion, my butterfly stage, and I’ll probably write stories until the day I die…or until my memory goes.

Comment below for a chance to win one of three e-book copies of Scraps of Paper.
Please remember to put your email with your comment so the author can pick and send your prize to you.

Monday, 28 January 2013

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

... Michelle Hoefle



1. Tell me about your book, Carpathian Blood, and where you got your inspiration for it?

I have always enjoyed reading paranormal romance novels and have been waiting for a book or series about an extraterrestrial race of beings that are very similar to humans. Lara Adrian (one my favourite authors) came close, but I envisioned a world totally different from her creations. When other popular authors did not come up with a book like I had envisioned, I created one myself. From there, the series was born.

2. Who has had the most influence in your life? What lessons did this person teach you?


That would be my mother. She used to read to me at bedtime, then when I got older, she read Steven King and Dean Koontz to me. It was our special time as mother and daughter. She has taught me to be a strong, independent woman. It’s taken me a while to realize that I am a strong, independent woman, but I like myself now and I like my life.

3. Ninjas or Pirates?

I’ll take Johnny Depp as a pirate any day, anyway, anyhow!

4. What is usually your first thought in the morning?

UGH! It’s morning already!

5. What is the most demeaning/demoralising thing ever said about you as a writer?

A very close family member told me that they did not want to be associated with me because of my “inappropriate book”. That cut very deeply, but now that I look back on it, I think that it made me strive even more to be published. I’m not so petty as to say, “Oh yeah, well look who got their inappropriate book published.” But I did thumb my nose at them once or twice and called “neener-neener-neener!”.

6. Have you ever killed someone in a novel and regretted it later?

Not ever. That clerk or cashier that pisses you off at the store? Bwahahaha...kill them off later in type. Talk about instant therapy!

7. What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer?

Since I don’t think I am quite sane, I wouldn’t know. I love being weird, quirky, and spontaneous. It keeps other people on their toes and lets me see the world as I like it to be. Call me an escapist, but I like my reality.

8. What are books for?

Books let you escape your reality for a small amount of time. Whether fiction or non-fiction, they allow you to become immersed in another world. They can inspire, create desire, or take the form of our fantasies. How cool is that?

9. What would you do with 1 million ping pong balls?

Put them into a swimming pool and invite the neighbourhood kids over to jump in. One big, massive ball pit. WooHoo!

10. What’s the nicest thing you’ve ever done or ever been done for you?

One Christmas when my girls were young teens, times were tough. It was the first Christmas following my divorce from their father. I was only able to get them two presents each and a few things for their stockings. They acted like it was the best Christmas ever! They exclaimed over their presents that year and made me feel good. It still brings tears to my eyes now when I think about it.

11. Is Elvis really dead?

As a doornail.

12. What is your favourite quote?

“I yam what I yam” by Popeye. How true is that?!

13. What three things would you save from a fire at your house? (assume that all your family get out safe.)

Since I don’t consider my pets things, they are family, they get out safely. I would have to say the photo albums of my daughters (one each), then the last thing would be one of my mother’s woodcarvings (she is a very talented artist).

14. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I’m still coming to terms with becoming an author. WOW! That is what I think when I see my cover or send in a new edited copy. I think that it will finally sink in when my first book, Carpathian Blood, is released.

15. What’s your favourite love story? (movie or book)

I would have to say out of all of my favourites, I think Love Story with Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw. Yes it’s sad, but what a love...***sigh***

16. If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?

I have three: Don’t listen to negative people. Don’t forget where you come from. Don’t let life just happen, make it happen.

17. Someday I want to...?

I want to go to Australia. I want to ride a wild brumby and kick it up with the locals.

18. Name one thing that drives you crazy.

Other drivers. I hate having to share the road with imbeciles!

19. Do you prefer ebooks, paperbacks or hardcovers?

I love eBooks. You can download them on almost anything anymore and take them anywhere without taking up space on a shelf having to be dusted every single week.

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The heat is on this Valentine's Day with a hot and steamy novel by Michelle Hoefle.  Carpathian Blood: A Carpathian Blood Novel will be released February 1, 2013.  The story follows Mackenzie Hilton into a Terranian vs. Vampyre War...Will Vlad be her salvation or her damnation?

Mackenzie travels to Romania to begin a new life with her younger brother, Alain.  She doesn't plan on being a meal for a vampire.  When her rescuer reveals himself, she wants no part of his life or his war, but her traitorous heart has other ideas.  The dark and dangerous Vlad wants her for himself and will stop at nothing to possess her heart and soul.  However, after a brutal attack can their love conquer the challenges that face them?



Excerpt:

Mackenzie had a bad feeling about all of this. This Vlad guy seemed to be reading her thoughts, but people could not really do that, right? What is this ‘human’ nonsense, like they weren’t? A Terranian, what the hell was that? Lastly, just where the hell were they?
They pulled up to a second set of gates, these were wrought iron and they slid open smoothly, allowing the vehicle to enter a long circular drive. Alain leaned forward in his seat and blew out a slow whistle.
“Mack, look at that!” he said pointing to the large stone mansion ahead. Mansion hell, it was a fortress, a castle, complete with turrets. Mack could only gape in wonder at the Gothic stone structure.
Still looking at the fortress, she startled as the door opened and Vlad held his hand out to help her from the vehicle.
“Welcome to my home,” he said as a slight smile played on his lips.
“I must say, I expected heads on spikes at least,” she said sassily, placing her hand into his, her insides clenching at the contact. As soon as her feet hit the bottom step, she withdrew her hand and rubbed her palm on her jeans.
“I only used those tactics during the Ottoman/Turk Wars.” He leaned down and whispered it against her ear. She gasped at the unexpected sensation that his breath caused. Mack pulled back from him, but he was already turning towards the huge double doors as they opened. Mackenzie slid slightly behind Vlad and pulled Alain behind her as a very large man came out of the double doors. He was even larger than Vlad, but with a slightly less dangerous air about him.

About Michelle
Michelle Hoefle lives in Lake Panasoffkee, FL with her mother, her brother, her two aunts, four dogs, and three cats. You could say that she has a large family. She has two beautiful daughters who currently live in Michigan and are now on their own journeys in life. She is forty-five years young and her hobbies include reading and woodcarving.






Wednesday, 23 January 2013

That Old Black Magic

In the course of working on a new novella, I've been learning a lot about something I thought I knew at least the basics on. Voodoo. But as I am discovering, a lot of what I thought I knew isn't technically true.

For instance, Voodoo is a religion. Its not necessarily about magic, much like Wicca. It draws on ideology from both African religion and some of the concepts of western Christianity. However associated with Voodoo but not to be confused as the same thing is Hoodoo, African magic, a set of magical practises.


Another thing I've found interesting in my research is the origins of the Voodoo doll. We see in popular media (book, movies, comics etc.) it being used to hurt a person. When if you look back through the lore it was actual a form of medicine, used to help a person, much like acupuncture is used today.

 

I also found myself very interested in the supposed "Voodoo Queen" of New Orleans - Marie Laveau. Because of popular culture I'd always viewed her as a dark creature but from what I've read of her, she had a hard life, of which she spent a great deal of time bringing help and comfort to the sick. Not the image we get in a lot of the movies we see where Voodoo is involved. Her grave received hundreds of pilgrims a year because of the mysticism surrounding her. I know that if I ever went to New Orleans I would definitely put it on my list of things to see. If you do too, go with one of those tours with lots of people and stick with the tours, there are many warning about thieves who like to prey on people in the graveyards.



In the project that I am working on at the moment (something I originally wrote the bulk of ten years ago) I'm focusing more on the power, the idea of what things could happen if that power is misused. Its certainly more interesting and isn't that really the crux of how Voodoo has been come to be viewed as it is, because it makes it more interesting if its dark and mysterious. I hope to get this projected finished by the spring, so then I can get back to writing the next Cassandra book.


Monday, 21 January 2013

Meet A Writer Monday Presents...

... K F Johnson


1.Tell me about your book Behind Closed Doors and where you got your inspiration for it?

I read a lot of fiction myself and watch a lot of television and one day while watching a not so great B movie, I thought to myself, “I can make more interesting characters and a better story line than this.” And so began the writing process.

2. Who has had the most influence in your life?

What lessons did this person teach you?

3. How would you like to be remembered?

Hopefully as a great and entertaining writer who had a knack for unpredictable twists.

4. How would you describe yourself in three words?


Sarcastic, Smart, Spicey

5. How do you react to a bad interview of one of your books?


As expected, I don’t like it and I wish there was a way to erase it, but, that’s life. Everyone is not going to like everything and I just have to get out of my own feelings about it and focus on creating more improved material next time.

6. Are the names of characters in your novels important?

Yes they are. I’ve changed the names of mine numerous times. Some are the names of people I don’t like, and typically end up being characters with issues, and some are names I feel fits the characteristics of the person.

7. Would you rather write for children or adults?

Adults. My sense of humour and explicit scene descriptions are way more PG13 and R than anything I’d want children to read.

8. Which do you find more embarrassing to write, violence or sex?

Sex. I include it in the book but I struggle with myself in trying not to sound too raunchy, and I think about what my parents would say if they read it.

9. What are the most important attributes to staying sane as a writer?

Being able to take criticism, know your strengths and understand that everyone else isn’t as invested in your book as you are.

10. What is your favourite quote?

If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.

11. What are your current projects?

I’m working on the sequel to Behind Closed Doors by popular reader demand, which I’m excited about.

12. If you couldn’t be an author, what career would you chose?

Acting. I’ve acted in my 20’s and I not only enjoy it, but I’m pretty good at it.

13. What’s your favourite love story? (movie or book)

The movie Love Jones. I just love the story of imperfect people falling in love, struggling through it and eventually finding their way back to each other.

14. If you had your own talk show, who would the first three guests be?

Oprah, President Barack Obama and Author Omar Tyree. Oprah and the President would definitely sky rocket my ratings and would have some great and entertaining things to say. Omar Tyree because I’m a big fan of his and his fan base would be one I’d love to tap into.

15. If you gave one of your characters the opportunity to speak for themselves, what would they say?


I write in the first person POV anyway but I think if Brian had an opportunity to speak for himself, he would say that he is who most people wish they could be and still be liked. Handsome, sexy and blunt. Unfortunately, other people and most readers would disagree with his view of himself.

___________________________________________________


Sometimes the people who seem to have and be everything that everyone else wants to be, are considerably different than what they represent behind closed doors. On the surface, siblings Brenda and Brian Andrews have the looks, money and confidence to make any prospective dating partner second guess their own worth. Unfortunately for them, and their chosen partners, the chaotic, manipulative & promiscuous lives they're truly leading makes them far from the fairy tale catches they'd like to believe they are. When their often abusive & alcoholic father dies under bizarre circumstances at their parent’s home, their mother's peculiar explanation and suspicious behavior lead them to suspect there's more to the story than what she's telling. After the doorway to dark family secrets is suddenly flung open at the funeral, many dust covered skeletons begin tumbling out. Soon the pedestals that Brenda and Brian once stood on begin crumbling beneath their feet, plunging them into a dangerous descent that they may never be able to come back from!

Excerpt


My mother, her sister Tonya, my sister, my Uncle Tony's wife Charlene, their two kids, and my dad's sister Linda were escorted to the front row directly in front of the casket. My uncle sat between my Aunt Linda and his wife and I took a seat at the end next to my sister.
I put my arm around Brenda while she stared intensely at the closed casket with tears welling in her eyes and breathing quickly. It was funny how one minute she was numb and unfeeling about his death, and the next minute she was tearing up. I knew where she was coming from though because my feelings were almost as jumbled up. Minus the tears of course.
 "I don't want to sit in front of a corpse Brian," she whispered. "Especially his. I don't know if I can sit here when they open it up."
"I got you sis. It's not gonna be that long. Close your eyes and lean on my shoulder if you need to," I told her.
I know sensitivity has never been my strong suit, but whether my sister knew it or not, she was the only person on earth I loved almost as much as I loved myself. She was the only one who knew me inside and out, and who loved me no matter what I did or said.  Sometimes we were the only ones each other had when my parents were busy playing "JERRY SPRINGER" vs. "THE COSBY SHOW" in our house. She was my baby sister and like all baby sisters, she was often a pain in the butt, but she was my pain in the butt and I didn't like seeing her in pain.
 "Okay," she said taking a deep breath as the Funeral Director opened the casket revealing my father's still body.
 Looking at him lying in the casket in a dark blue suit with his hands clasped across his chest stirred something uncomfortable up in me. Brenda took a deep breath, put her hand on my leg and buried her head in my chest. I saw and heard my mother sobbing. She reminded me of Wanda from the old sitcom GOOD TIMES with all of her tissue dabbing and "Oh lord!" hollering. My Aunt Tonya was trying to comfort her and my Uncle Tony was doing the same with Aunt Linda who was crying silently while tears streamed from his own eyes.
 I turned my attention to the preacher who began speaking from the pulpit until I noticed someone else come and sit at the end of the pew next to my Aunt Linda. I could tell by the dude's hazel eyes and near perfect features that he was related to us on my father's side, but there was definitely something wrong with this cat. He was wearing a dark blue long sleeved suit with blue gators; a single gold necklace with a diamond cross, 2 diamond earrings in each ear, and his long hair was pulled back in a ponytail. I couldn't be 100% sure because of the distance he sat away from me, but I would've bet my soul he had eyeliner on. It was official. Either this was Prince….or cuz was gay..
I wondered why this dude would be so bold as to sit in the immediate family pew with us when I didn't know him from Adam? It seemed like my Aunt Linda was familiar with him though because she left my Uncle Tony's embrace to lean on the other dude. He looked down the pew at me and nodded but once I got a full glimpse of him I was nearly paralyzed. He looked exactly like a young version of my father.


BUY


About K F Johnson




KF Johnson was born and raised in Queens New York and developed a vivid imagination and an aptitude for creative writing, drawing and anything else entertaining at a very young age. Her first glimpse of writing success came in the sixth grade when she won a New York City statewide poetry writing contest. During and after she obtained a BA Degree in Psychology from Spelman College, she was a featured rapper, actress and dancer in stage shows, videos, commercials and movie shorts. This jack of many trades also obtained a Master’s Degree in Business but is now only passionate about mastering one; writing. Behind Closed Doors is her first published novel. She now resides in Atlanta Georgia with her family.






Website:        http://www.kfjohnsonbooks.com
Twitter:         http://www.twitter.com/KFJohnsonbooks     
Blog:               http://kfjohnson.wordpress.com