Category Archives: Uncategorized

Running Wild, Together from the Dark

Spring has sprung, Dark Dreamers,

We cannot deny that we, as humans, are social creatures. Even the most introverted of us still needs some human interaction. Children, who receive food and shelter, but not interactions and touch, falter. Very few successful books could maintain a reader’s interest with only one character. Even The Martian by Andy Weir, which came very close, worked hard to get communication back up as he was going a bit peculiar without it. In pieces like this and Castaway, the character discarded from the rest of the social race, must find ways to mimic social interactions, i.e. the communication logs and Wilson the friendly volleyball. There is only so far the socially interdependent species of human can go alone.

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Molten, Wilson’s long lost girlfriend.

Yet, one of my students brought up the concept in my communications class last week that she fears we’re losing our ability to actually interact one with another. She spoke of seeing her friends desperate to look at the screen if someone appeared to approach them so they wouldn’t have to speak to them. She confessed that as much as she hates seeing it, she does it too. Her words reminded me of this quote from Vincent Nichols, “We’re losing social skills, the human interaction skills, how to read a person’s mood, to read their body language, how to be patient until the moment is right to make or press a point. Too much exclusive use of electronic information dehumanizes what is a very, very important part of community life and living together.”

We see it all the time. Families out to eat, staring at their screens. Parents at kid’s games posting and watching their phones rather than the game. I have even seen students walking on campus walk straight into a pole or another student due to their attention being diverted down. But we can’t just blame “those damn kids”. It is a multi-generational change.

But now it is spring, a time of change and growth, even for us dark urban fantasy writers who wallow in writing about blood and monsters and all things violent. This is a chance for us to seek out more interactions as the weather itself is no longer driving us indoors as it did all winter. We should seek ways to make the everyday activities a better way to connect with others. And before you ask, yes, Dreamers, I’m holding myself to the same standard. I have fallen out of my running habit, and I can feel it. So, I have started on the daily running challenges again, only this time, I’m not doing it alone. No hiding behind my earbuds and drowning the world out. Nope. This time my husband and son and dog are joining me for the runs. We’re training together and making it a family bonding moment each day. We’ve already run twice as a group, and I can feel the difference of having others there.

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The wild running Sloans

The same is true for our characters. For me, characters should not be so perfect that they do everything on their own. I love a character who overcomes the antagonist by giving it everything they’ve got and being backed by the relationships they’ve cultivated. Luke would have been a failure without Han and Chewie and Leia. Harry would never have even seen the stone without Ron and Hermine. Being an old school gamer, my most successful character was not the one with the best stats. No, she was the weakest fighter in the game, crippled, but she made friends with everyone she met. When the bad guys came for her, they had an army to make their way through to even try. That’s our social groups. They are our cheerleaders, our cattle prods and our counselors all tied up with a pretty bow.

So, this concept of the changing of social interaction is a hot button with many people. What do you think? Are we as a society losing our ability to communicate effectively one with another?

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Book Signing: Tips I Learned

Hey Dark Dreamers,

Recently I had my first book signing for my debut new adult dark urban fantasy, OF SCIONS AND MEN. It’s a huge milestone in any writer’s lifetime, but it also came with its own set of nerves, concerns and worries. I did some research, talked to fellow authors and prepared. This helped make my special day the success and fun event it was. So here are the top twelve tips I learned on how to have a successful book signing.

  1. A scratch pad is your friend. I can’t express this strongly enough. Riley, Rily, Reily, Reilly, Ryli. Susie, Susi, Suzy, Suzi. Yep, people are pretty particular about their names. Who can blame them? Especially when you are putting this permanently on an object they have paid for and you want them to treasure. Nothing will make your reader squint and frown at your book faster than seeing their name misspelled every time they open it. When I signed, I had paper beside me and no matter who it was, how common their name was or whether I knew them or not, I would write their name first on the scratch paper and okay it. Even if I knew them, I would recheck because your nerves will create mistakes as fast as anything else. Bastardizing an old adage, check twice, sign once.
  2. pen-1215436_1920Your new best friend
  3. Writing tools to last a lifetime. Choosing what to write with is important. These wonderful patrons have come to see you, bought your manifesto, and care enough to want your chicken scratch signature on it, so time to make sure your pen choice doesn’t mess everything up. I ended up choosing a fine tipped Sharpie as others told me ball point pens tend to fade with time and no one wants that. Whatever you decide, make sure it will last the test of time and will not bleed through.
  4. pens-520013_1920And back ups upon back ups
  5. Colorize your theme. This is such a little thing that got so much attention and made the night feel well thought out. I picked a colored theme for the evening based on your material if you can. For me it was red. It holds a special meaning in my book and series, so I put little touches everywhere. It was in my outfit, my pen (red fine tipped Sharpie), my swag, the flyers and marketing materials, the food for the evening (Strawberries and grapes), etc. It doesn’t take much effort, but it does require some forethought. People commented on it repeatedly and enjoyed it.
  6. tomatoes-1220774_1920Which tomato goes with post-apocalypse?
  7. Pick your message and be consistent. I decided what I was going to use as my standard message beforehand, and that let me start off with confidence from the very first one. I chose to use “For” instead of “To” as it felt less like a Christmas gift to me that way and more personal, but you need to fit your style. This is especially important if there are two or more friends or family members who are getting books signed together. You can personalize for the individual, but make that personalization very different from your standard message, which should be decided on before the event, so you can write quickly. But you don’t want two friends looking at your John Hancock and wondering, “Well, why does she get, ‘Very best wishes’, and I only got, ‘Best Wishes’? We don’t need any golden apples thrown into the middle of your signing.
  8. robot-707219_1280Cause that worked out for everyone.
  9. Practice, practice, practice. Yep, even for this pinnacle moment, you need to do prep and practice. Make sure your signature and messages are legible. On top of that, make sure you know where in your book you want to sign and that it will all fit there.
  10. writing-1055085_1920Well, no one can read that one.
  11. Swag extras. We all love handing out our personalized swag, but keep some paper swag around for extras. Not everyone may buy your book immediately, but still want to be a part of the fun. I signed bookmarks and posters for students who weren’t getting the book, and they were so excited. Also, it means they keep your info for potential later sales.
  12. Proof2My actual pens/badges- people loved them
  13. A day that will live in infamy. Okay, I’m going to be honest. I had every intention of doing this one, but failed utterly in the moment, but it is still a good idea. Somewhere around your signature put the date. Having multiple signings, people can get a real kick from this one. Next time I will remember as people asked about it later. Not a requirement, but a good thought.
  14. calendar-159098_1280A time to remember…next time
  15. Get into the trenches of marketing. You want your event to be a success, so stay active and make it so. Work with your publisher to release a press kit or create one on your own, especially for self-pub authors. Work with the signing location to work with their marketing. Don’t skimp on flyers or pictures for these kits and make sure you have both hard and electronic formats to use all available resources. Go out and press the flesh of people around the area to hang up and get the word out personally. Use social media event pages and stay active on them. Also remember most of these marketing teams are very busy, you may need to take the reins a bit to make sure everything is set and done. I had many meetings with coordinators and marketers to make this event the success it was. If you sit back and just hope they will come, they probably won’t.
  16. PosterWho could pass that up?
  17. Introductions and conclusions. Figure out and discuss with the people involved how the event is going to kick off. Is someone going to make an announcement? Is someone going to introduce you? Are you doing a reading to gather people and interest? Will you be answering questions? Who’s going to tell people how to buy the book in the space and where to line up? Don’t stumbled into the start of your event, kick it off and people will get more excited and want to be a part of it.
  18. trumpeters-921709_1280My announcers…next time
  19. Smile! Make sure you have a way for this day to be recorded. Sometimes the event or marketing will send someone to take pictures and record. If not, get someone to do it for you. You will want to remember this and it is great to show people afterward to make them want to be a part of the fun next time.
  20. 20160222_184757If you look closely, you can see a photographer has caught the videographer in the wild.
  21. Remember those who helped make this event a reality! All this work and prep is worth it. But when it’s done, be sure to send thank you notes to everyone who helped make it so.
  22. banner-1186625_1920So many people to thank…the music is definitely going to play me off.
  23. Have fun! Relax and enjoy all it has to offer. You’ve earned it.
20160222_210353

And if you’re like me, this will include margaritas.


Leap: A Special Year Indeed

Hi Dark Dreamers,

This year is already interesting. A campaign year like no other. Weather shifts giving us all seasons in one week. Huge jumps in science in both the Mars project and cancer research. And last but not least, last week my new adult dark urban fantasy, OF SCIONS AND MEN met the world. Vampires, shifters and mediums, oh my!

And the world greeted it well. In fact the numbers were a lot better than I thought they’d be. In fact, by the end of my first day out my numbers on just Amazon did this:

#240 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror > Occult
#246 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy
#287 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Dark Fantasy

Tres excited didn’t being to describe me. But that wasn’t all.

Frederick Community College, one of the colleges I teach for, hosted my book launch in their brand new Learning Commons. This space is amazing. A one stop space for our students’ learning and working needs. All light and glass. In fact, I have taken to going up there and writing when I’m not on duty. Looking out on the grounds and the snow, couldn’t ask for better. But I have let myself get distracted by shiny.

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They catered and marketed the event, and when the night came, we had nearly 60 or so people attending. The bookstore bought 50 books to sell, and they sold them all.

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The evening itself started with me reading from the book and then a question and answer section. Guess what? People really asked questions, and very intelligent ones at that. Their interest and insight humbled me. And I even got a few laughs. All in all, a win.

 

 

Then the moment that every author waits for happened. People actually wanted, and lined up for, me to sign their copies of my book. I was honored and learned so much more by doing this. I signed and personalized books, posters, bookmarks and pictures. Students of mine from both colleges attended, and many that I have never met before but was glad to meet that night.

After the signing, I was lucky enough that my launch fell on National Margarita Day! Thus my mother, sister, husband and I headed off to continue celebrating. These ladies honored me by flying in just for my launch. Their and my eldest sister’s support have made me the woman I am today. I would never have been able to accomplish this without them.

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Even flowers showed up for this day. Thank you everyone who shared this once in a lifetime moment with me. There will be other signings and books, but this one will always be my first.

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One Week To Go

Alert, alert, Dark Dreamers!

We are one week from OF SCIONS AND MEN releasing to the world. This new adult’s world of vampires, shifters, mediums and of course, scions, is ready for their close up. So much is still going on. The exciting thing is the book launch event is really shaping up nicely. It is being hosting by Frederick Community College in their brand new Learning Commons Space from 6-8pm. They are catering it and doing all the heavy lifting to make this event a success. If you are close to the Frederick Area, I would really appreciate you dropping by during that time. Come enjoy some food and drink and free stuff!

Also please let me know if you would be willing to be a part of my release day blitz for OF SCIONS AND MEN. If you sign up, I will provide everything you need. Press kit, potential blog post, potential twitter posts, images, etc. Thank you! Here’s a link to sign up:

Click to Join the Fun

Here are the posters for the event. If you have a moment, please spread them around.

Poster

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So excited!


Love is in the Distopian Air: Dark Urban Fantasy Style

Happy Valentines Dark Dreamers,

In honor of love and you know, not so much love, my 2 main characters, Rowan and Devon, sent Valentines to each other over at Once Upon a Bookcase. Go check out their, um, feelings for each other and other Valentine fun. Also enter for a chance to win a huge stash of free stuff.

Characters Sending Valentines with Suzanne Van Rooyen, Courtney Sloan and Amy McNulty on Once Upon a Bookcase.

Val Blo Hop

The Valentine’s Blog Hop is in full swing! Running from February 12-15, the hop features some terrific authors, being hosted by some of my favourite book blogs.

The Valentine’s Blog Hop is in full swing! Running from February 12-15, the hop features some terrific authors, being hosted by some of my favourite book blogs.

Check out each of the posts to learn about new and upcoming releases, the #Wo2016 group and win FABULOUS PRIZES.

More links will be added as the bloggers post them! Still have Sarah Ahiers, Jodie Andrefski and more to come! ❤

February 14

Characters Sending Valentines with Suzanne Van Rooyen, Courtney Sloan and Amy McNulty on Once Upon a Bookcase.

Interview with Suzanne van Rooyen on Reading is My Treasure. 

Excerpts with Jessica Gunn, Julia Ember and Pintip Dunn on It Starts at Midnight. 

Interview with Julia Ember on Ya Book Traveler. 

Interview with Vicki L. Weavil on Read, Write, Love. 

February 13

Interview with Nina Rossing and Pat Esden on Stay Bookish. 

Valentine’s Q&A with Bethany Morrow on Candid Cover.

Interview with Jessica Gunn on Reading is My Treasure.

Interview with Pintip Dunn on Ya Book Traveler.

Character Valentines with Pat Esden and Melissa Giorgio on Read, Write, Love. 

February 12

Interview with Vicki L. Weavil on Candid Cover! 

 


Let’s Talk about LOVE in Urban Fantasy and other Genres

Hey, Dark Dreamers,
Start this weekend off right, let’s talk love…and other emotions in writing. Whether it’s new adult, young adult, adult. Or vampire love, shifter love, ghostly medium love or you know, human love. Urban Fantasy or just everyday kinky fantasy, everyone’s heart needs to beat  faster for the one they love. Join me on twitter at #WO2016 Starts at 5EST.
Love is in the Air

Teased Twice

Hey there, Dark Dreamers,

There is so much happening, I can hardly keep up. We are less than three months away from OF SCIONS AND MEN being unleashed upon the world. With this unleashing comes an amazing cover. The wondrously creative minds over at Curiosity Quills worked hard until they created a cover that not only reflected the distopian grittiness of the book, but also the magical urban fantasy time. Also, Rowan is kicking major butt on it. BUT, I can’t show you all that today. Soon. December 7 will be the huge dual blast reveal.

Until then you can add both Gyre and Of Scions and Men to Goodreads using these links:

But this is Cyber Monday, so you deserve a two-for-one special for your internet money. So today I will tease not only OF SCIONS AND MEN’s cover but also the exciting Atlantean YA novel GYRE by the talented Jessica Gunn.

Before covers get uncovered next week, we have some teasers we’d like to share with you. So, here they are!

Gyre:

2015-10-06 16.46.18-1

Of Scions and Men:

Preview

 

If you’d like to help with this cover reveal by spreading the word through a HTML-ready post, or via Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, please fill out this form below! We are SO excited to share our covers with you!

Sign up to be part of the fun

OF SCIONS AND MEN by Courtney Sloan

Author Links: Twitter | Website

Geopolitical babysitting while arresting preternatural killers, it’s just the daily grind for Scion Rowan Brady. Brash and sarcastic, Rowan has sold her life, her career and her very blood to the controlling paranormal ruling class of America, all to make sure her kid brother can eat. Now she uses her powers as a scion to kick the ass of any preternatural creature idiotic enough to break the rules and prey upon humanity without a license. All it costs her is her freedom and a pint or two per week to her new Master.

But juggling her job and duties becomes even tougher when she is tasked with keeping a contingency of diplomats from Canada from getting gnawed on. However, negotiations for an International Blood Exchange are interrupted when bodies start showing up.
Now Rowan must rely on her talent and wit to defend the society she despises to save the lives she’s sworn to protect. But as she stumbles into the truth, she chances becoming a target of not only these killers, but of her own government. With shifters, ghosts, vampires and psychics all watching her, can she stop the killings before she is silenced?

***

GYRE by Jessica Gunn

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | Website

Chelsea didn’t try to teleport. All she wanted was to play the Battle of the Bands show. But after accidentally teleporting onto classified Navy vessel SeaSatellite5, all she’s rocking is the boat. Once it’s sorted out that Chelsea’s not a threat, SeaSat5’s top scientist offers Chelsea a position on the crew as an archaeology intern. Dr. Saint studies people with powers, believing them to be descendants of Atlantean refugees, except Chelsea’s powers are beyond anything on previous record.

While great for everyone else onboard, the miracle of Chelsea is Trevor’s worst nightmare. The same girl who’d given him a brief lifeline to sanity three months ago literally fell from the sky, under a mile of ocean, and onto the very station where he’s employed. Making matters worse, Trevor’s family are Lemurians, Atlantis’s enemy, and Chelsea’s presence is unpredicted—a wrench in an already unstable situation. But Trevor wants no part of his family’s war. The only thing he wants is Chelsea, Atlantean or not.

Days into Chelsea’s sudden appearance, SeaSatellite5 uncovers Atlantean ruins and a massive artifact cache, placing its entire, hundred-man crew in the crosshairs of an ancient war. There are those who want the Atlantean relics inside the ruins destroyed, and only Trevor knows the treasures for what they really are: Link Pieces, tools used by the ancient civilizations for their time-travel war.

With lies and shifting alliances abound, Chelsea and Trevor will have to think fast in order to save the station. If they don’t, the Lemurians will seize the artifacts and Atlantis will be destroyed forever.


Dear Teen Courtney

Teenagers of the world, Dear Teen Me is for you.

For everyone who wishes they were on the football team. For everyone who would rather be in the glee club than ever run another lap. For the teens who dream of being far, far away from the small town or big city where they go to school. The prom queens, the theater kids, the band geeks, the bad boys, the good girls, the loners, the stoners, the class presidents, the juvenile delinquents, the jocks and the nerds.

The teens who have good days and bad days and sometimes really really really bad days.

This is for you.

Signed,
A group of authors. some famous – some up-and-comers, who care about you.

Yesterday my letter to “Dear Teen Me” went live. A lot of connecting and truth mixed with a bit of sass (yeah, that’s didn’t lessen with age) and eye rolling to create something real.

Oh and one great picture of teen me on one of my favorite and most ornery horses. Seriously, during training this horse rolled on me, put me into a tree face first, and tried to dump me in the creek, but I loved Goldie and got him to accept most riders. Just to wet your whistle, here’s that pic for you now.

Giddy Up, Goldie

Young love

So, go over and read my letter. Let me know what you think. Tell others. Then click around and hear from other amazing authors as they communicate with their teen selves.

DearTeenMe

What are you still doing here? Click click.


Bad Pitch Contest

Dear Mr &/or Mrs who want to publish the next AWESOME book,

I know you want to make millions. We all want to make millions. I can make this easy for you. My book is the next Fifty shades of gray meet Twilite. You need to jump on board this express train to awesomeness cause there’s going to be hundreds of agents buying it soon.

I’m not kidding. I’m really good at writing and have spent the last month punching out this bad boy. I’ve shown it to my 3 best friends who also write good and they have told me over and over and over that it is the most awesome thing they’ve ever read. My mother said the same thing when I told her I’d written a book. She said she always new that I would be a New York Author 1 day. Even when I was like 3 she knew it. I even have like 12 followers on fanfiction.net so you know that marketing for me is already like totally taken care of. All you got to do is buy this and then we will both be so rich no one will believe it.

So here’s the awesome pitch. Be ready to have your sock blown off.

My story is about this guy, Bromere, who is really tough and super awesome at everything. I mean everything. He can fight bears and sing and fix things and is totally awesome with the ladies. And there’s this other guy, Lousarius, who is super jealous of him and tries all these things to take his treasure and his girl. Oh yeah, they are pirates, you need to know that for the treasure to make sense. Well, No matter what this other dude does, my dude beats him and gets the girl and is awesome at everything. Oh and there’s Bromeres friends, Dudeacleese and Testacleese, who are there trying to do the stuff Bromere does, but they never can be as awesome as him. And there’s also stuff about explosions and aliens, but I couldn’t quite make that go anywhere, but it’s fun anyway. And in the end, Bromere saves the President from 2012 fires and acid rain, so there’s this whole environmental story in there as well.

So, yeah, that’s the story. Oh, it’s called Bromere of Flame and it’s a complete novel ready for you, with just an little bit more work needed (seriously just like a chapter or two more, I think I need to do something more with this aliens, at 29,366 words!!! This awesomeness’s genre is a greek, western, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, pirate, erotica, political thriller. I know that my pitch is over 35 words but it was too mind-blowing to put in only 35 words. I knew once you read it you wouldn’t mind. So send me back the contract and let’s get this money train rolling.

Awesomely yours,

Bro

____________

This is a Blog Hop! So read everyone’s bad query’s and then go to http://www.sharonbayliss.com between 6/2 and 6/5 to vote for your favorite.



For the nerd in us all

May everyone have a great Pi Day!

Made for my family's celebration.

Made for my family’s celebration.

Time to Geek it up, baby!