The Morning After

Well my first experience of marketing with other authors has come and gone and I’ve sent out some free books this morning.

What have I learned from this?

  1. Marketing events get your name around, even if the attendance is low. My Facebook page has gained some followers as has my blog.
  2. I need to get more books out!

The indie author community are a friendly and helpful bunch. Whether book sales are generated in the long or short term, events are fun. They drag me out of my garret.

So, on to what comes next. I have a Dystopian series in mind, but I also want to develop the story started in a short story, which you can read here.

Anyone care to state a preference?



Virtual FantasyCon and a Guest Post!

Virtual FantasyCon 2016 starts Sunday, October 9th! I’m holding a booth on Saturday the 15th for Dark Fantasy/Grimdark/Horror Day

dark-fantasyconI’m also participating in the Blog Hop, so without further ado, I’m your host for this stop in the Hunt.

If you would like to find out more about the Hunt, please click here –
Somewhere on this page is a hidden number. Collect all the numbers from all the authors’ posts, and then add them up. Once you’ve added all the numbers, and if I am your last author, please head to the official website and click on the ENTER HERE page to find the entry form. Only entries with the correct number will qualify to win.

The author I’m pleased to be hosting for Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt today is A.L. Kessler, author of The Trouble with Ghosts.

It’s October, the leaves are changing, the air holds a crisp bit of warning to it, could mean snow. This is the time of year that Abigail Collins loves. The season of Samhain, ghosts, ghouls and of course witches. Even though her newest book (out this month!) doesn’t take place during October, it does at least have a ghost or two in it.

In The Trouble with Ghosts, Abby has to team up with an old enemy to solve a decade old crime, but her only witness is a ghost. If you’re new to the world of Abigail Collins then you’re missing out on this action packed urban fantasy where anything can happen. I get asked occasionally where did I get the idea of Abby. There’s the short story: Abby is the character who gets to say what we want, but can’t. Or: The story started out with a paragraph and I just ran with it.

Both are true, but Abigail Collins goes back to when I started writing in high school. One of my first loves in reading was a genre that really didn’t have a name yet: urban fantasy. I read Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison, devoured Charlene Harris when that came out and knew that when I wrote, that’s what I wanted to write. Abigail was a work in progress. Her name changed a few times, and her past shifted a bit through different stories I had written, some on the edge of my math notes and some in notebooks that were also filled with doodles. Before long, I had created the world I wanted, but I stepped away from the project and let it just rot in a drawer. When I moved to college I started forming the world of Dark War Chronicles… and well, that’s a different story of its own.

I sat down later in life and decided that maybe; just maybe it was time to go back to my roots. I heard the whisper of Abby in my head. The name made sense for who and what she was and that first paragraph sat there inspiring me to continue forward and I ran with it. What I didn’t expect from No More Black Magic (Book 1 of my Here Witchy Witchy series) was for it to jump to an Amazon Best Seller. I finally had my character and world ready to show to the world, she just happened to go through a lot of changes through the years, she truly was a work in progress.

amyA.L. Kessler is an Amazon best selling author known for her Here Witchy Witchy series. She lives in Colorado Springs, CO with her family. Her coffee and chocolate addiction fuels her as she balances her life of being author, mom, student and wife. You can find out more about her at

If you’re new to the world of Here Witchy Witchy and Abigail Collins please enjoy the excerpt from No More Black Magic below:

I pulled up to the crime scene, a farm property in the middle of nowhere, and parked my SUV next to a State Trooper’s cruiser.

The one thing I loved about crime scenes is the amount of people who gather around them. We’ll feign terror and true desire to know what happened, but in reality we are curious as to what kind of creature or person would commit such a crime.  Human curiosity was disgusting. This scene lacked that. How odd.

A tall man started towards the yellow crime scene tape. His hair was cropped close to his head giving no hint to the color. His black jacket had his detective shield attached to it. Detective Mason was one of my favorites to work with.

“Bout’ time you got here, Abigail.” His blue eyes met my gaze. “I was starting to think you were going to chicken out.”

“Yeah, not an option.” I shrugged and ducked under the crime scene tape. “Where’s the gawkers?”

“No idea. Just the lady, whose dog found the body. Corpse’s been out here for a couple days at least.”
Great. That meant it was going to smell. “And the markings you want me to take a look at?”

no-more“Are all over the barn walls. That’s all I’m going to tell you.” He started walking towards a barn in the distance.

My long legs were great for treading through the tall unkempt weeds that had taken over the area. The uneven ground made it a struggle to keep balanced, but there was no way I’d let myself fall. I already caught enough flack out on the field, being a witch and a woman.

I grumbled as we got to the barn and scrunched up my nose. “Oh, God.” The smell churned my stomach and it was times like this I wish that I had a spell or something to mask it.

An officer at the door handed me a facemask and then motioned for me to go in. I walked in and looked around. A tarp covered a lump that I imagined was the body, dried blood coated the packed dirt floor and it looked like whatever it was had exploded. Well, that explained the arm.

I tried to focus as my gaze crawled up the wall. Symbols covered it, scattered all over, drawn in something black and I could see the faint glowing of whatever magic it held.

I frowned and pulled out my phone to take pictures of them. “They’re still active.”
“How do you know that?”

“Because I’m trained in magic. I can see the power behind the 10 marks.” I took a few more pictures.

“You can’t take pictures, Abby.”

“I don’t know them on sight, I’m going to have to do some research.” Hopefully the camera could capture the symbols without going haywire. A chill went down my spine and I cursed at the feeling of malevolent magic being activated.

“Get out, get out!” I shoved at Detective Mason and ran out after him. I felt the magic trail after me and I cursed. Grabbing Mason, and the uniform at the door, I held on to their wrists and muttered a protection spell under my breath. In my mind I envisioned a purple circle and threw my energy into that vision to make it manifest.

The barn exploded the moment my circle went up. Shrapnel flew around us and the blast was hot enough to feel through the purple haze of my magic. Had I not managed to get my circle up, we’d be crispy humans. Holy shit. When the smoke cleared all that was left was a smoking pile of wood and the smell of burnt flesh in the air. I let the circle down when I felt the magic in the air fade.

“What the hell was that?” Mason snapped, spinning me around to face him.
“Magic. Strong, terrifying magic.” I took a deep shuddering breath and pulled my own magic back into me.


You can find A.L. Kessler’s Here Witchy Witchy series on Amazon, free with Kindle Unlimited:

Did you find the number? If you did, then click A.L. Kessler’s link to continue Virtual FantasyCon’s Blog Hop Hunt.

Paperback Approved!

It isn’t showing as I write this, but the files for the paperback version of Letters To The Damned have been approved and the book should become available any second.

I learned a few things that can throw a submission off so it wasn’t wasted frustration. The delay also threw some light on a couple of typos that slipped through the net, so if you already bought the Kindle version and haven’t read it yet, be sure to update first. I keep mine set on automatic update. My editor dropped the ball on that one, but I’ve been assured it won’t happen again.

front100This book feels more personal to me than my first one because I gave the protagonist a background based on my own personal experience. The characters in A Christmas Tale had to come from privilege to mirror the place of Scrooge in the Dickens story A Christmas Carol, but with Letters To The Damned I only needed a contrast between an American perspective and an English village. So, I drew on experience for both. I’ve visited the kind of little village in England I use for the story and could look through my character’s eyes for what was strange in the ordinary to someone who grew up in California.

schoolWhen I was a young teenager, my family lived in a Los Angeles suburb called Lawndale. The junior high school they use for the opening scene in the movie La Bamba looks very much like my old school. The neighborhood was pretty evenly mixed, Mexican and white, but we weren’t really segregated. My friends were probably evenly split racially, plus one Portuguese guy. It wasn’t an issue. Most teenage males were in some form of gang, but not like in West Side Story. Nobody was fighting anybody on any level or claiming territories, they just wore colors and got up to the stupid things that teenagers do.

Those who weren’t part of a specific gang might just identify as ‘lowriders’, which had a lot to do with cultural identity through how you decorate your car. It’s something best demonstrated by Cheech Marin in the film Up In Smoke. Check the opening clip. Except for the dancing, this could be my old ‘hood.  Or the van scene where he converts it.

I don’t know if it’s the same in Mexico, but in California, Mexican Americans are very aware of bloodlines and take pride in their heritage. In the film, La Bamba, Ritchie Valens’ mother comments on her heritage in a fit of temper, when she says “They don’t know who they’re dealing with! My grandfather was a full blooded Yaqui Indian!” So as an aside Cris mentions his mother’s Spanish blood. It was something someone from his background would think about, as was her devotion to Roman Catholicism.

From all this you might deduce something of my own cultural heritage, but I don’t often say much about myself in interviews or other publicity. I may draw on my experience for settings and characters, but the stories have to stand on their own, not because they’re written by a ‘diverse’ author. Yes, I use a pen name. The real one is too hard to spell.

Anyway I hope the Kindle readers have been enjoying the new book. I’m looking forward to reading the reviews, good or bad.

Paperback Delay

There seems to be a problem on Amazon’s CreateSpace platform. They’re looking into it now. Basically, files that have been uploaded and approved were rejected when other files were re-uploaded and this became a repeating pattern.  Upload a bookcover, it’s approved but the internal file needs something tweaked. Upload a new internal file, and the cover that was fine before is rejected.

I’m in communication with them and it should all get worked out in a day or two. My files are fine. When I sent them a download of the approved internal file that was subsequently rejected, they realized they had a problem.

Release Day!

Letters To The Damned is now available on Kindle at Amazon!

front200Paperback will appear very soon too, perhaps by the end of the day. There was a tiny technical glitch that had to be fixed and files resubmitted, so it’s just waiting for approval to go live. Price on the paperback will be $6.99 or £4.99 UK and equivalents everywhere else. I tried to keep the price as low as possible.

Tell all your friends! Tell your reading groups. This would make a great Halloween read if I do say so myself!


One drawback to a pre-order campaign is that readers don’t get samples from Amazon. So, I decided to post a couple of snippets of Letters To The Damned to tease potential readers!

From Chapter One:

Cris drifted between waking and sleeping, his dream images of his wife, Shannon, already lost in half remembered impressions and the haze of another dream world involving a strange, English village, like the ones on Shannon’s favorite calendar. The foreign imagery faded and Cris felt consciousness begin to win the struggle. He rolled over to the edge of his comfortable double bed to reach towards the floor where he had heard scuffling noises. He expected to feel his fingers stroking the soft fur of his little tortoiseshell cat, Mocha, but instead a strange hand clasped his own in an iron grip.

He instinctively pulled back, but the hand wouldn’t let go. Cris tried to force open his eyes, to reach full consciousness, but his eyelids would not respond. He heard his own sharp, gasping breaths in the darkness. His mind tried to make sense of the thought that a hand had come from the floor, perhaps someone under the bed? Cris struggled with rising terror and a feeling of vulnerability when his body failed to respond to his conscious commands to open his eyes. He wanted to scream, but his voice would not respond.

Chapter Three:

“A freshly disturbed soul might not be amenable to performing supernatural tasks.” The dowdy teashop owner with a lazy, northern English accent looked at Cris as if he had used the wrong spoon to stir his Earl Grey tea.

Suddenly he regretted having told her about his wife’s accident. Cris hadn’t come to England to try to raise the dead, after all. He had only wanted to get away for a while, to forget the bustle of Los Angeles and spend a few days somewhere quiet where he might collect his thoughts. He watched the unpretentious swishing of the teashop owner’s faded flowered dress as she walked back behind the counter to make his sandwich and reflected on how the conversation had turned suddenly to the thoughts he had refused to voice to himself.


He glanced up at the picture over the desk, the ship out in a stormy sea, and he wondered why someone would paint a ship in such difficult circumstances when they might have shown it at full sail on a pleasant day. If they had wanted to capture the wildness of the sea during a storm, they could have painted a stormy seascape with waves crashing onto a rocky coast.

Cris’ gaze wandered over the picture and he began to feel a sense of swaying, which he dismissed as an effect of the movement of his eyes from an odd angle to the painting. He began to appreciate the realism of the artist and could almost feel the salt spray as waves crashed over the side of the ship. He could hear men shouting orders and feel the burn of a rope held tightly by a man balanced precariously on the main mast yardarm.

The swell of the next wave tipped the boat to a forty-five degree angle and he felt his feet slipping from the yardarm, the rope tearing skin in bloody patches on the palms of his hands, then falling, falling…

So just a few teasers for you. I don’t want to give away the best parts. The introductory price won’t last more than a day or two after the October 1st release so get your pre-order in at Amazon now!

And Paperback Too!

Several people have written to me to ask if Letters To The Damned will be available in paperback.


Front300The paperback version will be submitted to coincide with the ebook release. In theory, both should become available simultaneously on Amazon. The system for submitting paperback can throw the timing off by a day or so, but I’m going to try to make it happen on the same day.

Remember, pre-orders before 1st October can get the Kindle book at the introductory price of 0.99 instead of the regular price of 3.99. The price of the paperback hasn’t been determined yet, but I’ll try to keep it as low as possible.


So order your Kindle copy today to take advantage of the introductory price! or Amazon UK, or equivalent currencies at any of the Amazon online stores.