Friday, April 3, 2015

Message from my publisher, Peacock Pygg Publications

Ladies and gentleman, we have news.

In May 2015 this publisher, Peacock Pygg, will relaunch all of our existing titles. New additions of all books and for most titles new cover art too. We're bringing you sharper, tighter editing and modern covers.

Titles impacted include all Undead Bar Association books, Ghostly Mostly (Chicago Screams), the Hearts science fiction series (Heart's Fire), and the Tales of My Mother Road Series (New Mexico Fairytales).

Due to e-book customer demand for exciting reading material available right now, we will NOT remove the current editions before the new editions are complete. 

Nonetheless, we recommend that hard copy readers eager to start the series delay purchasing until the second week of May 2015.

Stay tuned here for updates about the relaunches and about NEW titles coming later this year.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

We've Got the Look - New Cover Art

Great thing about having a formal publisher - they tell you when you're being an idiot.

When I started the Undead Bar Association series, I shot and edited all the cover art myself. I went literal. There are items on each cover that tie in directly to the plots and storyline. Of course, there was coherence between the covers, too. This took the form of a black skull, affectionately dubbed Skully, who graced every single cover.

They were nice covers. One person even remarked that they reminded her of old editions of Agatha Christie. As a big Christie fan, I was flattered.

Then my publisher pointed out some things. First, if Agatha Christie was writing today, her publisher would make sure her books had modern covers. Second, the covers I had might be pretty to me, but they did nothing to convey the emotional tension and story within the books. People really do judge books by their covers, and mine were just plain confusing.

So, there's been a overhaul of everything. Here's the book series Undead Bar Association new cover art.


Matriculate Death zombie undead supernatural vampires
Maryanne Wells, Texas country girl and teenage genius, feels isolated and lost in law school. She finally makes one friend, quirky Naomi O'Conners, but still doesn't feel like she belongs among the older and wiser students. Ghostly shadows and mysterious noises one night in the library change everything. There's a mystery to solve, and Maryanne is on the case. But the monsters in the law school prove too much for even a feisty heroine to handle alone. There's a ghost trapped in a bookcase, zombies pounding at the door, and vampires lurking in the shadows. Maryanne needs a skilled team – the Undead Bar Association – to help her save the students and the law school. With the help of the Undead Bar Association, some Texas sized courage, and a lot of coffee, Maryanne can survive. She might even graduate.

Matriculated Death, book series Undead Bar Association #1 is available now from Amazon and Kindle.




Summer begins, and law student Maryanne Wells flees to Dallas, Texas. She desperately wants to escape the memory of the terrible choice she made last year, when a clan of vampires branded Maryanne their newest human slave. Maryanne hopes she'll be safe working in a big city law firm, but the vampires are one step ahead of her. There's something they want Maryanne to find. Between the bright city lights, steamy jazz, and soaring glass towers, a dark secret waits. The secret's lingered for decades, ever since President John F. Kennedy was murdered on a Dallas street. Now it threatens to explode and rip the city apart. The vampires want Maryanne to capture the secret in their name, but if Maryanne can find strength to defy them, she will put the city's ghosts to rest and hold back the vampires' bloody power. Summer in Dallas brings a shattered heroine the chance to rescue a city and save her soul. As Book 2 of the Undead Bar Association series, Shadowed Demise fills the space between parts 1 and 2 of Book 1 - Matriculated Death, answering readers' burning questions about that fatal summer in Dallas

Shadowed Demise, book series Undead Bar Association #2 is available now from Amazon and Kindle.




For new lawyer Maryanne Wells, returning to Amarillo, Texas feels like slipping into a favorite pair of worn blue jeans. Her friends eagerly greet her, and Maryanne settles into her old surroundings with a contented sigh. Then, an unwelcome visitor arrives – Anthony, a ghost from Maryanne's past. He's bringing Maryanne a supernatural mystery full of hometown flair. Maryanne's had enough of ghosts and zombies, but Anthony won't leave her alone. Slowly but surely, Maryanne's pulled into a mystery of twisted science, black magic, and tainted love. As Maryanne knows, once you open the door to the supernatural you can't fight the monsters that jump out alone. The smart and saucy heroine turns to the Undead Bar Association, and friend Nick Porpington answers the call. Together they confront a new evil, one with its sights set on conquering more than just Amarillo and Maryanne. Things are heating up in the Texas Panhandle, and Maryanne wants to teach evil a lesson – don't bring your monsters to her hometown.

Binding Deceit, book series Undead Bar Association #3 is available now from Amazon and Kindle.


Coming in 2015, Deadhand Control, book series Undead Bar Association #4.

Friday, October 31, 2014

New Mexico Pumpkin Seeds Recipe

 
Happy Halloween from New Mexico Fairytales! The jack o' lantern pictured above is inspired by the New Mexico state flag. You'll find the same sun design on the cover of New Mexico Fairytales.
 
Now for the pumpkin seeds.
 

Equipment:

Oven
Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper
Paper Towels
Small bowl


Ingredients:

Pumpkin seeds, about 1/2 cup dry
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Spices: Chose from - Chipotle seasoning, Santa Fe seasoning, Garlic Salt, Cumin, Paprika, Lemon Salt, Chili powder.
 
 
1. Gut pumpkin. Separate seeds from the stringy bits. Rinse in water. Place seeds, single layer, on paper towels to dry overnight. By letting the seeds dry overnight, you insure a great crunch when you roast them.
 
2. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
 
3. Place sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet.
 
4. Place dry pumpkin seeds in bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil; use just enough for the seeds to appear glossy but not so much they're wading or swimming.
 
5. Spread pumpkin seeds, single layer, on cookie sheet.
 
6. Sprinkle with your choice of seasonings.
 
7. Roast pumpkin seeds for 10 minutes then check them. Bake in 2 minute increments until seeds just begin to turn golden brown. Let cool the enjoy!


 
Immerse yourself in the magic of New Mexico, land of enchantment, with New Mexico Fairytales.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Pie Pumpkin Seeds

 

Wondering what recipe this pumpkin inspired? It's not deep dish pizza flavored pumpkin seeds. No, this time we went sweet instead of savory.

The book Chicago Screams, Book 1 of the teen supernatural series Ghostly Mostly, begins an adventure that will take the series heroes on a cross-country journey through the states of Old Route 66. Epic, supernatural adventure on the all-American Mother Road.
 For the pumpkin seeds, we wanted all-American flavor, like Mom, baseball, and apple pie. Two out of three of those things are inedible, unless you're a zombie, in which case only baseball is off the menu.

Since no one around when this pumpkin was carved is undead, we decided on Apple Pie for our Pumpkin Seeds. Here's the recipe:

Equipment:

Oven
Cookie Sheet
Parchment Paper
Paper Towels
Small bowl


Ingredients:

Pumpkin seeds, about 1/2 cup dry
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Apple Pie Spice
Brown Sugar

Directions:

 
1. Gut pumpkin. Separate seeds from the stringy bits. Rinse in water. Place seeds, single layer, on paper towels to dry overnight. By letting the seeds dry overnight, you insure a great crunch when you roast them.
 
2. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees.
 
3. Place sheet of parchment paper on cookie sheet.
 
4. Place dry pumpkin seeds in bowl. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil; use just enough for the seeds to appear glossy but not so much they're wading or swimming.
 
5. Spread pumpkin seeds, single layer, on cookie sheet.
 
6. Top with a handful of brown sugar and generous sprinklings of Apple Pie spice.
 
7. Roast pumpkin seeds for 10 minutes then check them. Bake in 2 minute increments until seeds just begin to turn golden brown and brown sugar is caramelizing (melting) on some seeds.
 
A sweet snack that smells incredible while it's baking. Enjoy!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Happy Halloween Week 2014

Happy Halloween! There's a lot happening around here, so I'm putting in the celebratory good words early.

Later this week, my publisher and I will announce a contest with audio books and gift cards for prizes, so stay tuned for that!

Leading up to the contest, I'm posting some Halloween and writing theme treats. The theme: Pumpkins! Here's a sample of what's in store:

Jump over to the Undead Bar Association website now for today's pumpkin seed recipe inspired by these evil, ghastly jack o' lantern designs. Come back here tomorrow for a recipe inspired by New Mexican Fairytales.

Undead Bar Association carved pumpkins

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Book of the Week: The Screwtape Letters

This week's book is The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.

Characters who love this book: Stan from Ghostly Mostly (#1 - Chicago Scream) and Robert from the Undead Bar Association (#3 - Binding Deceit).


Robert: Do I start? Okay. The Screwtape Letters is a book of conversations between two demons.

Stan: Yes. Two demons talk about how to claim a human's soul for hell.

Robert: The best thing about the book, the reason it resonates, is the way it's written. The author, C.S. Lewis, starts with a preface in which he sets the scene. He makes it seem like the letters in the book are real, and he somehow got his hands on them but won't reveal how.

Stan: (smiling) How do you know they're not real?

Robert:  (laughing) Okay, okay.

Stan: I'm kind of joking but not really. I think if demons are real, they are having conversations like the ones in this book.

Robert: And I say it's the author's choice of the epistolary writing style that makes it seem so real that you and I can easily believe in it. So Stan, what's your favorite part?

Stan: Trying to figure out the lead demon, Screwtape. There's some stuff he says that I don't think even he believes. It's like he's getting orders from someone above him that he needs to pass on to his underling, and he knows if the underling knows the real truth then work won't get done, so he lies.

Robert: Yeah, Screwtape is definitely manipulating Wormwood.

Stan: So what's your favorite part?

Robert: My favorite part of the Screwtape Letters is technically not part of the Screwtape Letters, but it is in this addition of the book. Look in the back, at the preface to "Screwtape Proposes a Toast".

Stan: (picks up book and flips to the end). I've never read this part before. Guess I just assumed it was an afterward and skipped it.

Robert: I think that for men like us who face the supernatural everyday, that part of the book is the most important. It's almost like a missive of hope. Lewis talks about the balance between good and evil. He even suggests that he disliked his own book for being unbalanced, but that he couldn't have balanced the letters of evil with letters of good because he wasn't equal to the task of writing pure light.

Stan: (reading from book): Mere advice would be no good; every sentence would have to smell of Heaven.

Robert: Exactly. Lewis, one of the greatest writers of the modern age, felt unequal to writing from the perspective of angels. The best he could do was write like a demon.

Stan: How is that a message of hope for men like us?

Robert: If your job with the ghost hunting squad is anything like what I do, you're in the muck and darkness a lot. I sometimes feel like I've forgotten what truth and goodness look like. Maybe I haven't forgotten it, maybe I'm really fighting for it, and it's just my limits as a human that make it so hard for me to talk about good things.

Stan: (shakes his head) I see good everyday. I see it from every member of the Ghostly Mostly team. Sometimes I even see it from the ghosts. I'm surprised you don't feel the same way, after all, you're on a good team. You work with Maryanne.

Robert: You want to know what it's like working with Maryanne? Here, give me that book.

(Stan passes Robert the book).

Robert: (reads) The strain produced a sort of spiritual cramp. The world into which I had to project myself was all dust, grit, thirst and itch.

Stan: Wow.

Robert: She doesn't see any good in herself anymore, I swear, and it's beginning to feel contagious.

Stan: That's no good, especially since I hear you too are going to be put in serious danger together in Book 4.

Robert: I can't handle her alone. I know she's supposed to be the heroine, but she's starting to behave like an anti-hero.

Stan: So call for backup.

Robert: Who?

Stan: Matt or Damian, I think.

Robert: It'll have to be Matt. I can't ask anyone on the Ghostly Mostly team for help until the cross-over book, and we're volumes away from that.

Stan: Mmm-hmm.

Robert: What. What's bugging you?

Stan: I'm just surprised to hear all this about Maryanne. Damian's said some really nice things about her, from when they were in high school together, and I could have sworn he said The Screwtape Letters was one of her favorite books.

(Stan looks around). What are the rules here, Robert?

Robert: What do you mean?

Stan: In this Book of the Week thing, where characters from different series can talk to each other, what are the limits? Like, can I talk to the Author?

Robert: I don't know. You could try.

Stan: Hey, Author!

Author: (steps out from behind the ficus in the corner) Uh, hi. I'm here. I was trying to pretend like I wasn't, but oh well. What's up?

Stan: Who's right about Maryanne?

Author: No one's wrong about her, because everyone's entitled to their own opinion.

Robert: Well that's a load of crap.

Stan: Yeah. Either Damian's right and Maryanne's just a step below the angels, or Robert's right and being around her is a horrible strain.

Author: I'm not convinced Maryanne's ever been a mere step below the angels.

Stan: So Damian's wrong about Maryanne.

Author: No! He might exaggerate things, but he's not wrong, per se. Neither is Robert. You can't see Maryanne as being all good or all bad. Believe me, I tried. I wrote her to be perfect in the original blog stories, and the readers hated it. So, I made changes. I let Maryanne be human.

Robert: That's what's going on? Humanity?

Author: It's like Lewis says in the Screwtape Letters. Some people are called closer to the true and pure things when they're in the troughs of life, not the peaks. Some in particular go through longer and deeper troughs than others. So maybe someone used to be sweet and good, and now they're not, but that doesn't mean that person is bad. Maybe they're in a low point in life, a trough, and maybe there's a reason for it.

Robert: You mean Maryanne's character is being tested?

Author: I'm not saying that. I'm giving you hypotheticals.

Stan: (laughs) Right, you're a lawyer too. I'd forgotten it but now we're living with 'hypotheticals'.

Author: I will say one thing that's definite and real. Robert, after listening to you today I'm worried about the strain being put on your moral fiber by the atmosphere you're in and the company you keep. I'll tell you what. For book 4 of the Undead Bar Association, I'll send Matt Hawthorne with you.

Stan: Poor Matt.

Author: Matt may be stronger and more capable than you think. He may be more capable than I think. We'll find out.

Robert: What about Maryanne? If the Screwtape Letters is her favorite book ...

Author: It is.

Robert: Then why isn't she here?

Author. I don't know, but I'll try to find out.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Book of the Week: Dracula

Today I'm starting something new on the blog. Once a week, I'll introduce a book and share information about which characters - Undead Bar Association, Ghostly Mostly, Heart's Trilogy - love it.
This week's book is Dracula by Bram Stoker.

Who Loves It: Charlotte and Matt Hawthorne (Undead Bar Association), Kat Pojim and Damian Rook (Ghostly Mostly).

Charlotte Hawthorne: OMG. This book is so sexy, with all the vampires seducing people and stuff. And the mesmerism is delicious creepy, like when the female vampires are after Jonathan Harker...fabulous. So fun to think about Victorian women, pretending to be all proper, reading this book in secret.

Matt Hawthorne: (rolls his eyes at Charlotte). Think you're missing the point, sis. The book's about good versus evil.

Damian Rook: Exactly right.

Charlotte (pouting). It's sexy.

Damian: The sexuality in the book is misdirected and unhealthy, as the author intended. It's an example of the evil the heroes must destroy.

Matt: It's all about the battle. The men are willing to die to save the virtue of the women.

Kat: Ugh. Chauvinist much, Hawthorne? Don't forget that the men couldn't even find Dracula to fight him if it wasn't for Mina risking her life. She's just as much a hero as they are, and if you look at literature inspired by Dracula that came later, she's the most popular character. It's not like the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen were all hoping Lord Godalming or Seward would join them. The League wanted Mina.

Damian: (glaring) Did you just drag a comic book into this conversation? We're supposed to discuss an iconic piece of literature.

Kat: Graphic novels, not comic books, and whatever.

Matt: (looks around) Where's Maryanne? I was sure this had to be one of her favorite books.

Charlotte: (groans) Are you kidding? Never ever ever bring up the book Dracula around Maryanne Wells.

Kat: Not unless you want a four hour history lecture.

Charlotte: I know, right? I mean, the only thing about the novel she even remotely likes is Stoker's description of the Transylvania area, and she only concedes that because it lets her go all "oh, I've been there." Then she'll talk your ear off telling you everything wrong with people's perception of the book.

Kat: To be fair, I did learn some stuff from Maryanne about those misconceptions. Like, it's not the first vampire novel published in English, and Stoker took inspiration from at least two Romanian nobles for his vampire character, Vlad the Impaler and Countess Bathory.

Charlotte: But real stuff is so boring.

Kat: Did you make it to end of Maryanne's lecture? When I did, she gave me a recommendation for a great book to read next.

Charlotte: Seriously?

Kat: (nods). The Man, by Bram Stoker. It's an honest to God love story, no supernatural or anything, and it's damn hot in places.

Charlotte: Really?

Kat: Oh yeah. Maryanne says she's read everything Stoker, and The Man is by far her favorite. And it's so cool, because everyone's heard of Dracula, but not many know about The Man, so you're in a whole new class of fandom if you get it.

Damian: Very disappointing.

Kat: What?

Damian: Learning that Maryanne can be swayed by romance and sentimentality in a book. I thought better of her.

Matt: So deep down she's a woman, just like any other. So what?

Damian: (shakes his head) Terribly disappointing.

Matt: Sometimes I wonder if you're even human.

Damian: I'm not a vampire or other undead, so by definition I must be human. It's really very simple, isn't it?

Charlotte: (stares at Damian) Creepy.

Kat: Watch the name calling, Miss Priss. You don't want to challenge Damian. Believe me.

Damian: (glaring at Charlotte) I think I'll start with "vapid".

Charlotte: (looks to her brother) Was that an insult?

Matt: You really don't know?

Charlotte: (whispers to Matt) I don't know what vapid means.
 
 
Charlotte and Matt Hawthorne first appeared in Binding Deceit, Undead Bar Association #3. Matt will return in Undead Bar Association #4, and both the Hawthornes will be appear in Undead Bar Association #5.
 
Kat Pojim and Damian Rook are co-hosts of the ghost hunting team at the heart of the Ghostly Mostly teen series. They were both introduced in the adventure Chicago Screams.