What Writers Owe Their Characters

I can totally relate to this article. I was possessed by Harry’s story and had to tell it. It was like an addiction that didn’t let up until I typed ‘The End’ on book three. Even now, there are bits and pieces of further adventures starting to gel in the recesses of my mind. When they are ready to get out, when they finally bubble to the surface, I will have no choice but to tell that story too.

Vampire Week

Vampire Week is coming to Compelling Beasts and I’m taking part.  Watch here for updates when my contributions go live throughout the week.  In the meantime, I thought I would give you a little background on the vampire mythos of Harry’s world.

Vampires

Vampires and how they are portrayed can run the gambit.  From the traditional

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to the modern/futuristic

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From campy

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to sexy

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to the definitely not-so-sexy.

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whitespaceIn Harry’s world there are different types of Vampiro or vampires, with different abilities and powers.

Cutters – These are the wannabe vamps.  They are the Goths that like to play at being vampires.  They are called cutters because of the practice of keeping a small razor blade to slice the skin so they can suck blood.  Most cutters are just posers, but some have the potential to be true vamps.  The ones with potential will actually gain energy from blood, kind of like a high.  Cutters are not undead but they hang around real vampires in the hopes of ingratiating themselves to a powerful vampire in order to receive the ‘Kiss’.

Vampires – are the most common of the Vampiro. They are undead and have retractable fangs.  They must drink blood to survive.  They can still eat and drink but without a daily dose of live human blood they will begin to lose their essence.  Vampires can be of varying power.

Vlads – Powerful vampires are called Vlads. Vlads can go out in the day but tend to have an aversion to direct sunlight.  No vampire, no matter how powerful can be out in the light of the dawning sun.

Princes, Kings, Emperors (and their corresponding female titles) – These are the higher power levels of the Vampiro hierarchy and much more rare.  Depending on how powerful, they can draw life essence from a mere skin to skin touch.  Some can absorb it from their surroundings.  They don’t need to get it from a blood meal.

The Magister – the top vampire in a territory.  The more powerful the Magister, the bigger the territory.

Dhamphirs – Most vampires are made in the traditional way through the Eternal Kiss, but there can also be born vampires. These are people that are born with the vamp ‘gene’ that will kick in on their first death to make them undead.  Dhamphirs are very rare and result from the successful mating between a male vampire and a female human.  While alive, they don’t need blood, but they can get a euphoric high from it.  They may also have some special powers including supernatural healing, super strength and speed, telekinesis, and telepathy.

Here’s my dream casting of the major vampire roles in Dead and Kicking:

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Reviews are Essential!

This was originally posted over at Precipice Books a couple of years ago but still applies.  I’m really trying to get my foot in the door on Amazon and especially on iTunes.  Apple iTunes is a huge potential market for ebooks. The more favourable reviews and likes I have there, the better my chances of getting noticed.

If you have already left a review at an online retailer or Goodreads, thank you! Please consider going to Amazon and iTunes (you have to log on to the iTunes store) and leaving a review there as well.  It will really help me out.

Help an Indie

Harry and the Bechdel Test

‘The Bechdel Test’ was inspired by cartoonist Alison Bechdel‘s 1985 tongue-in-cheek comic strip ‘The Rule’ which became a basic measure to see if women are fairly represented in a film.

Anita Sarkeesian, creator and host of the FeministFrequency, does an excellent job explaining what the Bechdel Test is all about.  Basically, for a movie to pass the Bechdel Test, you must be able to answer ‘yes’ to the following questions:

1: Does it have at least two female characters?
2: Do they talk to one another?
3: Do they talk about something other than a man?

Simple, right? Well, you’d think so, but a surprising number of Hollywood movies don’t pass the test. What is even more surprising is the number of films you would think should pass but don’t. This is because, as Anna Waletzko discusses in her Huffington Post article, the Bechdel Test may be an excellent tool in triggering discussion, but it is a superficial measure of female empowerment in film.

Despite these limitations, it can be argued (as in this article by Charlie Jane Anders) that the test is important because it is often a part, or the beginning, of a larger and more complicated conversation about female representation in movies.  It serves as a measure of how we are doing at promoting and increasing the opportunities for women.

So how did I do with Harry in Dead and Kicking?

1: At least two women?

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Yes, besides Harry there are her roommates, Holly and Tess, as well as several other supporting women, including the two sisters and mother of the the main character Nash.

2. & 3.  Do they talk about something other than a man?

green-check-mdYes.  There is a fair amount of banter between Tess and Harry especially, and very little of it is about a man.  There are also plenty of conversations between all the female characters THAT ACTUALLY MOVE THE PLOT FORWARD.

I’ll take that as a passing grade.thumbs up

Goodreads Giveaway Results

So as part of my launch week marketing for Dead and Kicking, I decided to try using a Goodreads Giveaway. The Goodreads Giveaway system is pretty simple.  Basically you don’t have to do much except tell Goodreads how many copies you want to give away, where you’re prepared to mail them, and when and how long you’d like the giveaway to run. The good folks at Goodreads take care of the rest. They run it, pick the winners and send you their addresses, freeing up time for you to do something else like obsessively stalk you book and see how many entries you have.

I had read a great article with tips on using the giveaway that suggested the shorter the giveaway the better, so that’s what I went for.  I chose one week, which seems to be the shortest time allowed (I originally tried to set it to 3 days thinking I’d have several giveaways instead of just one, but it wouldn’t let me) and offered up 3 signed copies as prizes.

Since it irks me when I try and enter a giveaway only to find out it is restricted to the US only, I tried to open mine up to as many countries as possible and then crossed my fingers and hoped the winners were in the US which would be the cheapest for postage (it’s actually cheaper to mail a book to the US – a different country! – than to Saskatchewan, the province right next door to mine).  I fully admit to omitting some countries from the draw because I thought the postage would be horrendous and the likelihood of the book actually arriving low.

Now the goal of a giveaway is not to gain reviews.  In fact Goodreads states that only 60% of your prize winners actually read and review your book (and the author of the article I mentioned earlier thinks it’s actually much lower).  I hope that my winners are in that group and do leave a favourable review, but I’m not counting on it.  The real goal of a giveaway is about getting your book on the virtual shelves of fellow readers.  The real goal is SALES.  You want Goodreads users to add your book to their ‘To Read’ list so that in the future they will spot it and go ‘oh yeah, that looked interesting’ and then buy your book. The more entries you get in a giveaway, the more people there are that have seen your book and shown an interest in it.

GR giveaway resultsAlthough I don’t have any sales numbers to back it up, I would have to say that my giveaway was a success.  I more than surpassed my expectations for the week.  Over one thousand people saw my giveaway and entered the draw.  That’s one thousand plus potential buyers.

My three winners were all located in the US, so postage was reasonable.  Because I decided to give signed copies away, I wasn’t able to send directly from Createspace, but it also allowed me to write a personal note to each winner.  I’m hoping the personal touch might help get a review or two for my effort.  Time will tell.  As to sales, well, time will tell with that too, but overall, I would definitely consider the Goodreads Giveaway a worthwhile tool in the indie author’s marketing toolbox.