Hellooooo, #Halloween. #Author Guest Post~Ashley Nemer #FollowFriday

Welcome to the Halloween edition of my blog.  And a special, warm welcome to my guest author/blogger, Ashley Nemer. She will tell us why this season is especially awesome:

Hellooooo, Halloween…

Hello Halloween and welcome back to the world of mainstream buyers. If there is any holiday during the year that strums up the most fun in scary and exciting ways its Halloween. As an author I look at Halloween a little differently, I think. When I see the kids, or adults, dressing up and walking the streets I see stories coming to life. It is one of the ultimate Live Action Roll Plays that the whole family can enjoy. Who doesn’t enjoy dressing up as their favorite superhero or villain? It’s your chance to pretend to be the Dark Knight, the Man of Steel, or even Dracula.

Of course it is my desire to one day have an outfit hanging in the costume store that is of one of my characters. But until that day comes I will be happy dreaming of it!

When Halloween hits us I think back to one thing in particular of my childhood. MONSTER SQUAD! Now those of you who have seen this 80’s cult classic will either think I am insane or completely genius. This was my brother and my favorite movie as kids and even more of a favorite this time of year. Sadly both of our spouses think this is the worst movie on earth and believe he and I are crazy for loving it. But whatever, it’s our childhood and we own it!

The reason that’s important is because as an author of creatures that go bump in the night we often times think back to our first experiences with those evil creatures. And MONSTER SQUAD was my first exposure. There the big bad vampire Dracula wasn’t a strong sex appeal of a man, he was a villain, one who wanted to kill and slaughter. Wolf man was vicious and could be killed by silver bullets and only changed at the full moon. Then there was Van Helsing, who chased Dracula but didn’t succeed until the ‘virgin’ said the spell in German.

None of that is the vampires and werewolves of today. Those are the creatures of the past. And I think that is to some degree why my vampires aren’t just sex appeal lovely creatures. They are evil, vicious and cruel.

So what kind of goblins and dark creatures do you like to read about? Do you like the old appeal of vicious and evil or the new trend of sexual and honorable? I’d love your opinion!

Check out my website, www.ashleynemer.com or shoot me an email Ashley@ashleynemer.com and tell me what you think!

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What an awesome question, Ashley. *off to think about it*

Okay, I’m back. I think I like a mixture of evil, vicious, cruel, and sexy. They can skip the honorable part though. 😉

I’d love to know what others think. Sound off below.

Thanks, Ashley! Happy Halloween!

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Trouble writing your story? #Author Kevin A. Ranson has this #writingtip.

12182182_10153535926927702_9617671_nI had the pleasure of meeting Kevin A. Ranson at a Creatures of the Nyght local book club meeting a few weeks ago. In an industry where you meet lots of people who just want to know what YOU can do for THEM, not how you can be there for each other, Kevin was a refreshing change of pace. Definitely a cool guy, and an amazing writer to boot. I’m honored that he agreed to guest post on my blog. If you’re in a writing rut, Kevin’s got the skills to pay the bills…so check out his writing tip.

Without further delay…

Taking the Time to Write the Right Story

When people find out I’m a writer, I’m asked, “How long does it take to complete a novel?”

One book took me over two decades to write: The Matriarch, a vampire novel set in and around my old college town in central West Virginia.

Truth to tell, it wasn’t ready to be written. I was telling the wrong story.

The original main character’s name was Daniel, a young man lucky enough to have the love of a young woman. One evening while left alone, the young woman is attacked by something or someone but doesn’t remember what happened. As Daniel mistakes her transformation for severe illness, he is forced to watch as a person dependent upon him ends up no longer needing him. She becomes a creature of the night and destroys her maker in revenge. In the end, she asks Daniel to join her – forever – but he’s too afraid to trust and accept…and she is lost to him.

It was supposed to be an emotional journey, but it never worked. Fortunately, I knew just enough to know I didn’t know enough to make the story work. I had neither the real-world knowledge nor the writing skill yet. After two complete drafts, I shelved it…forgetting it ever existed for a time.

Life went on.

Twenty years later, I found and skimmed through the manuscripts again, realizing the biggest problem: there was no reason to care anything about Daniel. He wasn’t the protagonist; he was a narrator. He didn’t do anything. It was the young woman’s story, and the first thing I needed to do was to give it to her.

In my own life growing up, I had several matriarchs on both sides of my family, willful and capable women who 12182207_10153535927187702_1549625341_nsought their spouses as partners instead of rescuers. My new protagonist, Janiss, needed these qualities but also the opportunity to develop them. I recreated her as an only child encouraged by her father and groomed by her mother, but I also tempered her with a childhood spent with two neighboring brothers, one of whom was Daniel. Janiss had the capability and the means to become whatever or whoever she wanted to be, but there needed to be a catalyst to spark her vampire hero’s journey.

But what to do with former boyfriend Daniel: her safe bet for a normal, peaceful, and uneventful life? He had to die, of course…and Janiss would be the one to kill him. If he couldn’t be a good example, I was going to make him a dire warning. Yes, I tried to save him – I never intended for him to die – but I couldn’t see how he could survive because of the second story problem.

In the original draft, the transformation had been a cakewalk. The flu? Nah. Vampires, I thought, should be both dangerous and deadly, and that needed to be seen and felt immediately. The antagonist couldn’t make it easy for Janiss and neither could I. Killing the person she meant to spend the rest of her life with (after being murdered herself) was truly the loss of everything. Worse yet, how could she go to anyone for help when she might murder them, too? It made no sense telling a story about bloodthirsty monsters if they could too easily resist their killing nature; only living human blood would do.

Daniel’s death also served a greater purpose. The antagonist set Janiss up to choose evil, gift-wrapping the boy like a Happy Meal in a scheme to destroy who she was. Instead, she chose to cling to his memory, a reminder to keep it under control. Vampires in my world are cursed with a piece of the soul and memories of those they kill through blood drain. Daniel wasn’t just her first victim; he would always be with her. Most would call that a curse, but she embraced it to hold into her humanity.

Finally, there was a local legend, a century-old ghost story about a tragic event I knew about but hadn’t before fully researched. Names, places, and a still-unsolved mystery…every element ripe for fictionalization. The novel then took on a life of its own as well as retained a distinctly Mountain State flavor. I could no longer limit the story to one book! Fully formed characters appeared from nowhere that become integral to the series, all of whom were inspired by people or personalities I have known in my life. It’s more than I could have ever hoped for, and it often continues to surprise me what my characters do next.

If you’ve been sitting on an idea for a book that feels unfinished, don’t fret; maybe you’re right. Your creation may not be ready for birth and you may not be ready to parent it into the world. Work on other things and live a little; revisit your idea from time to time. Inspiration is everywhere and in everything, so look for it all around you.

When you’re ready, it will be waiting.

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Kevin A. Ranson is a content creator, horror writer, and film critic.

Heeding a macabre calling listening to “Mother Ghost Nursery Rhymes” in kindergarten, Kevin started writing in grade school and filled countless notebooks with story ideas while touring the Mediterranean in the US Navy. He is the author of The Spooky Chronicles and the vampire thriller series The Matriarch at CedarcrestSanctum.com, creator/critic for MovieCrypt.com and “ghost writer” for horror host Grim D. Reaper. Jedi master of Google-Fu, Bing-Jitsu, and buttered toast.

Author Blog: http://thinkingskull.com

Social Media:

http://www.amazon.com/author/kevinaranson

https://www.goodreads.com/kevinaranson

http://twitter.com/kevinaranson

https://www.facebook.com/KevinARanson

#IndieThursday **S.M. Dahman #Author #GuestPost~Interracial Romance in Fiction**

Help me welcome S.M. Dahman to the blog today. She’s the author of the current thriller novel I’m reading: Twisted Greens. We met on Twitter one day, and we’ve been “hanging” ever since.

Without further ado…

“First and foremost, thank you Dicey for inviting me to be a guest on your blog! I’m honored you’ve asked me to blab about a topic that has many tongues wagging. Hopefully, I won’t disappoint. 🙂

Now, with the salutation and disclaimer out of the way, it’s time to get to the juicy stuff; the stuff Dicey brought me here to talk about: interracial relationships. This is a subject that hits close to home. Obviously, dear observant reader, IMG_20121202_204342I’m sure you’ve figured out from the photos that I’m in an interracial relationship. It wasn’t until I started dating my then boyfriend that I realized that there aren’t many depictions of interracial couples in the media. It was also during this time (roughly early 2012) that I stumbled upon a little niche in the romance market that has since exploded. Interracial romance (IR) novels, particularly those that have black women/white men protagonists (BWWM) and that are authored by black women have really carved a space out for themselves in the market. Go to Amazon right now and type in BWWM in the search bar and look what pops up. Go on. I’ll wait…

Ah! You’re back! Were you surprised by what you saw? There’s a plethora of BWWM novels out there. Some are good and others are downright terrible. The good IR novels encompass realistic mixing and matching of different races and cultural backgrounds. Although the characters are physically and/or culturally different, they are still people, meaning they don’t fall victim to narrow stereotypical archetypes. The novelty of it is downright enthralling! I’ve tried seeking out other genres that encompassed mixing different races or cultures, but to no avail. That sucks because it’s nice to read positive representations of diverse people. Hell, you may even learn something.

Whether they’re good or bad, IR novels are definitely popular. Hmm. But, why have they become so popular? Is it because black women want to feel just as desirable as their white counterparts in novels? Maybe. However, that still doesn’t explain why it’s particularly BWWM (there are some authors who are expanding this to include men of all races now). Is it because authors want to write what they know? That’s plausible. In fact, that kind of served as the catalyst that got my own words flowing. But statistics show that interracial couples are still in the minority when compared to overall couples. Regardless to whatever the reason may be, I’m happy that these novels exist, primarily because they help open a dialogue about interracial dating and it’s nice to see reflections of other shades of love in literature.

Perhaps the most asked question that most “mixed” couples hear is “what’s is it like to be in an interracial relationship?” It’s even a question that pops up in IR novels, usually from the plucky BFF of the black female protagonist. Frankly, I find the question annoying, but I get what people are asking. Most people tend photo.PNGto date within their own race. That’s understandable since relationships are founded on common ground and sharing the same race (and everything that it encompasses) is one such commonality. However, if you look beyond the exterior, you may find out you have more in common with someone who looks nothing like you. That’s what I found out in late 2011 and I haven’t looked back since. Being married to my husband is great! He’s sweet, thoughtful, considerate, giving, loving, affectionate, patient, encouraging, etc. I could go on forever with the adjectives. With that being said, he’s not all those things because he’s white, but rather it’s because he’s a good man. Period. Don’t get it twisted y’all. There are some douchebag white guys out there just as there are douchebag dudes of any other race. Peep out Investigative Discovery and you’ll see plenty. But, I digress. If we return to the original question posed earlier in this post, then my answer is that being in an interracial relationship with my husband is like being married to a great man that I vibe with on many levels.

Now, I’m not completely blind, deaf, and dumb. I know that we don’t live in a post racial society (although some disagree and they get the side eye) and that there are some out there who don’t condone interracial relationships for various reasons (whether they openly acknowledge it or not). If we’re being completely honest, there are probably more who fit the latter category than we’d care to admit. For instance, I’ve heard people express concern over potential children having an identity crisis (the dreaded “who am I” question). I’ve also heard about black men complaining that black women must not think black men are “good enough” and so they’ve dated or married outside of their race. Both of these assertions are utter bullshit and they both say more about the person making the comment(s) than about the people in the relationship. While it’s true that biracial children may more so identify with one of their parents’ cultures than with the other, I don’t think that classifies them as having an “identity crisis.” In fact, many other factors play into how one chooses to self identify, both extrinsically (e.g. socioeconomic strata) and intrinsically (e.g. inherited personality traits). As far as the comment about thinking black men aren’t good enough, I can’t speak for everyone, but I know that’s not how I feel. The last guy I dated before I met my husband was black and I’ve dated many other black guys throughout my late teens and 20’s. I don’t think less about any of them. We just didn’t work out for a number of reasons. I mean, that is the point of dating, right, to find out if you’re compatible?

Anyway, wiTwisted Greens eBook Cover 6 x 9th all that being said, people are diverse. As such, shouldn’t our books reflect that diversity? That common notion is how the universe introduced me to the Awesome Dicey and her work (Best Friends, Fantasy Lovers and Shameful in particular). What are your thoughts? How do you feel about interracial relationships?

If you’re looking to diversify your reading tastes, I suggest you check out Dicey’s work or check out my own little novel, Twisted Greens. If you’re interested in finding out more about me or my book, find me on social media (Twitter, Facebook) or on my blog!”
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“…people are diverse. As such, shouldn’t our books reflect that diversity?”— EXACTLY. That’s what I keep saying, man. Thanks for reading my books, S.M.! And thanks so much for opening up and discussing something so personal–your relationship–and something so important–diversity! Your post wasn’t disappointing at all. Come back and post again any time.

Now…I have to get back to finishing your book.

Let me go see what AJ is up to now. 🙂