Cemeteries I Have Loved

In honor of Halloween being this week, I am devoting this post to all the cemeteries I have enjoyed exploring. And there have certainly been a lot of them!

Being that I write vampire books, it’s no surprise that cemeteries are strongly featured in them. Unless you live in New York City, and specifically the borough of Queens, what you probably don’t know is that there are more cemeteries in Queens than there are in all the other boroughs combined.

What this means is, if you live in Queens, you most likely live pretty close to a cemetery. I have many fond memories of visiting cemeteries–when I was growing up in Maspeth, Queens, my house was within a block of an entrance to the cemetery. Since my grandmother’s family was buried there, my grandma took me for walks in the graveyard quite often. Much in the way people in the suburbs would picnic in the park, my grandmother would pack us some sandwiches and we would go behind her parents’ grave and have lunch, while she told me stories about growing up in NYC in the early 1900s.

When I was a little older, it was decided by my parents that it was too dangerous to ride my bike in the park, but the cemetery, with its wide paths and infrequent traffic, was fine. So understandably, cemeteries always had a pleasant connotation for me rather than a negative one.

Below is a photo of some odd Queens magazine that features an ad for the cemetery that I used to live near as a child. Notice how they misspelled the word “cemetery” in their own ad.
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And for some reason, whenever I travel, I feel compelled to visit at least one local cemetery. In April 2005, my husband and I went to New Orleans for our honeymoon. We took the below photo at the Lafayette Cemetery No 1.
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In April 2010, we went to Paris to celebrate our fifth year anniversary. Our hotel was by the Père Lachaise Cemetery, where this photo was taken. Despite the fact that I was actually trying to be creepy, I was three months pregnant at the time and not feeling great, thus paler than usual.
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I have many more cemetery photos, but the above two are some of my favorites, taken in two of my favorite cities as well.
Lastly, in news that is somewhat related to cemeteries, I am pleased to announce the release date for Cold Blood is November 17th! For more information, plus giveaways, excerpts, and the cover reveal, join this Facebook event !

Interview with P.T. Michelle, author of Brightest Kind of Darkness, and Giveaway!

Synopsis:
When destiny is on the line, will love be enough to light the way?

In order to save Ethan, Nara gets pulled deeper into his dark world, where everything she thought she knew about Ethan and herself turns on its head. Ethan and Nara turn up the heat with bone-melting seduction and heart-rending moments, but surprising revelations, lies, treachery, betrayal, and unimaginable evil will challenge their relationship and their future together. As the stakes rise, encompassing more than just her relationship with Ethan, will Nara make the ultimate sacrifice?

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13504881-destiny?ac=1
Destiny
Purchase:
DESTINY BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://bit.ly/1bSlrMi
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/destiny-pt-michelle/1117135101?ean=2940148697626
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/destiny/id725875082?mt=11
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Destiny-Brightest-Kind-Darkness-Book/book-iLfX3a6PBkuGL7ZXdHg6BQ/page1.html?s=3x4tomSevEqq68CcE0yc6w&r=1

BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS BUY LINKS

Amazon: http://bit.ly/GSnyBw
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/brightest-kind-of-darkness-ya-paranormal-romance-pt-michelle/1106016258?ean=2940044639706
Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/brightest-kind-darkness-ya/id460285698?mt=11
Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Brightest-Kind-of-Darkness-Book/book–eJ-rrY8zEaXzhh7ymMbvg/page1.html?s=SQWmrxpp-0CVMXCpeq-Fcg&r=4
PTMichelleAuthorPicture
Interview

P.T. Michelle is the author of the young adult series BRIGHTEST KIND OF DARKNESS. She keeps a spiral notepad with her at all times, even on her nightstand. When P.T. isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading or taking pictures of landscapes, sunsets and anything beautiful or odd in nature.

As a writer, how do you come up with your ideas for stories?

Writers by nature are very observant people. We absorb what we see, hear, smell and touch everyday, so everything inspires us from movies to music to people. One thing that has always inspired when forming a new story idea is I always ask myself the question, “What if….” and then I fill in the blank. 🙂

A story about a girl dreaming her entire next day (and ONLY her next day) the night before is unusual. How did you come up with the concept for Brightest Kind of Darkness?

The idea behind the Brightest Kind of Darkness series started off as one of those “What if” questions. I ask myself, “What if a girl dreamed her entire next day?” Then I think through all the possible scenarios: How would that impact her? Would she act upon what she saw? And if not, why? What if she didn’t have a choice? And from there…the story starts flowing.

Destiny is the 3rd book in the Brightest Kind of Darkness series. Did you know how many books it would be when you first wrote Brightest Kind of Darkness?

I didn’t know how many books the series would be, but I definitely knew the story was far bigger than just a couple of books. I’m what you call a hybrid-pantser writer. A pantser is someone who sits down and just writes…no planning, no plotting involved. The story just flows out. My stories are intricately weaved, so I have to do a bit of planning before I start writing. I write a very high-level outline and give myself TONS of permission to veer off course as the story unfolds while I write. But at least the outline keeps me reminded of what my goals were for the story. When you have mystery elements like I do in the BKoD series, knowing where you’re going is pretty important. 🙂 So as the stories have unfolded, they took on a life of their own. And then I’ve had to plan each book as I go and also dovetail back into the previous books I’ve written in the series.

Ravens feature dominantly in the BKoD series, which is definitely different from vampires, werewolves and the like we’ve seen in a lot of popular paranormal books. What made you choose to write about ravens?

I’ve always been fascinated by ravens. The lore about them is so interesting. Ravens have been on many of my previous book covers and are mentioned in passing or are part of the storyline in past books. They just weren’t the main storyline. In Brightest Kind of Darkness, ravens finally take front and center. 🙂

How many books do you plan for the Brightest Kind of Darkness series?

Right now the plan is four books. Depending on how the last book unfolds, there may be a spin off. I’m leaving the possibilities open. 🙂

Any thing else you’d like to add?

I just wanted to shout out a huge THANK YOU the readers and bloggers who’ve supported the Brightest Kind of Darkness series from the beginning!

Giveaway!

Like the author’s Facebook page, and this post, for a chance to win a free copy of Destiny. One winner will be notified by November 1st!

Interview with Helen Keeble, author of No Angel

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Synopsis:

Rafael Angelos just got handed the greatest gift any teenage boy could ever dream of. Upon arriving at his new boarding school for senior year, he discovered that he is the ONLY male student. But what should have been a godsend isn’t exactly heaven on Earth.

Raffi’s about to learn that St. Mary’s is actually a hub for demons-and that he was summoned to the school by someone expecting him to save the day. Raffi knows he’s no angel-but it’s pretty hard to deny that there’s some higher plan at work when he wakes up one morning to discover a glowing circle around his head.

Helen Keeble’s debut novel, Fang Girl, has been praised for its pitch-perfect teen voice, and VOYA called it “refreshing and reminiscent of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series.” No Angel brings you angels and demons like you’ve never seen them-complete with the wry humor of Vladimir Tod, sinfully irreverent romance, and some hilariously demonic teenage dilemmas.

Purchase:

Interview

1. Describe your new book No Angel in a single Tweet.

Boy thinks life at an all-girls school will be heavenly, but it’s hell on earth. And he’s the angel sent to fix things. Help!

2. Do we need to have read your first novel, Fang Girl, to enjoy No Angel?

Nope, they’re entirely unrelated to each other. Well, apart from containing the same brand of humor!

Even though No Angel isn’t a sequel to Fang Girl, I hope that readers who enjoyed the way I affectionately mocked vampires in my first book will get the same sorts of giggles from the way my new one makes fun of the whole ‘angel boyfriend’ subgenre of paranormal romance.

3. Is No Angel a stand-alone novel or the start of a series?

It’s definitely a stand-alone novel. Not to give away any spoilers, but the plot is very much wrapped up at the end of the book.

48357904. Why did you decide to set No Angel at a boarding school?

My dad went to various VERY traditional English boys’ boarding schools from the age of seven to eighteen, and although he doesn’t talk much about it, he’s told me a few horror stories. I’m fascinated by old-fashioned boarding schools as these little self-contained worlds, with their own history and culture, completely isolated from normal life. Due to Harry Potter, I think most of us now have a pretty romantic idea of boarding schools as a magical wonderland, but they could just as easily be (and often were) utter hell-holes. Bullying is bad enough, but when you can’t even get away from your tormentors at the end of the school day…? Scary!

5. Your vampires in Fang Girl have some unusual (for the paranormal genre) traits based on traditional Eastern European folklore. Have you done anything similar with the angels and demons in No Angel?

Definitely! I had a lot of fun researching angels in early Christian traditions. I took a lot of inspiration from De coelesti hierarchy, a 5th Century text on angels that is utterly cracktastic to modern eyes. Let’s put it this way: When you think “angel”, do you think:

a. A noble, handsome/beautiful protector with big white wings, glowing with pure, holy goodness

b. Two massive bicycle wheels jammed crossways into each other, set on fire, and COVERED IN EYES

… Yeah.

Let’s just say that Rafael Angelos, the hero of No Angel, is not exactly happy about his newly discovered angelic tendencies…

6. Fun fact about No Angel?

I guarantee it’s the only light, fluffy YA comedy you’ll ever read that includes higher-dimensional mathematics as a pivotal plot-point.

(Don’t worry, there are no equations)

7. Would you rather be an angel or a vampire?

Definitely an angel! I’ve always wanted to fly. I, uh, may have spent an entire year hooked on a computer game called Aion just because it let me play a character with beautiful big wings. *blush*

Although I have to say I would prefer to be an angel from someone else’s book, not my own. The angels in No Angel are… not exactly eye-candy.

8. What are your favorite books, shows, or movies about angels and demons?

For books, Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I’m also very fond of The Demon’s Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan.

9. Favorite funny movie or TV show?

Galaxy Quest, which is a movie about a group of actors from a second-rate, long-cancelled TV science-fiction series (which is of course in NO WAY based on a real TV show *cough* Star Trek *cough*) who get abducted by real aliens, who have based their entire culture on the show. Or, as the aliens call it, “the historical documents”, as they believe it’s all real. Hijinks ensue!

If you are at all aware of science fiction fan culture, Galaxy Quest is screamingly funny. The fact that I went to Star Trek conventions as a teenager, owned a lovingly-painted collection of Enterprise models, and once won a Halloween costume competition with my home-made Spock outfit, may go some way to explaining my deep and abiding love for this movie.

(no, you can’t see pictures of me in my Spock costume)

Author Links:

No Angel excerpt

In which Rafael Angelos — high school student, would-be Casanova, and unexpected angel – attempts to get to grips with his awesome new powers

So I was, for want of a better word, an angel, possibly with a holy mission to protect the world from the forces of evil. Obviously there was one thing I had to do as soon as possible.

The next morning I got up at the crack of dawn, liberated a helmet from the communal bike shed, and set off to learn how to fly.

A half-hour hike found me a nice wide clearing in the woods, well away from the school buildings. With a last glance around to check for onlookers, I shrugged my wings out. Early morning mist scurried along the ground as I lofted them to full vertical extension, the glowing pinions reaching for the sky like outstretched hands. I crouched, looked up, and took a deep breath.

“Okay,” I said softly, and swept my wings down.

It was a good thing I’d worn a helmet.

“Right,” I muttered to myself, spitting out dirt. “Less sideways, more up.”

After another ten minutes of running, leaping, and rather unangelic swearing, I was still resolutely earthbound. I brushed the mud off my knees, scowling. Maybe what I needed was motivation. I’d certainly had plenty last night. Unfortunately, I didn’t think Faith would appreciate her own guardian angel pushing her out a window, not even in the interests of science. And I wasn’t quite confident enough in my wings to want to throw myself out of a window, either.

I crouched down in a sprinter’s stance and squeezed my eyes. Just think of all the things I’d be able to do once I mastered flight. I’d be able to confirm my suspicions about the true threat to the school. I’d be able to save Faith if she fell again. I’d be able to sneak out in the evening and find the nearest pub-

“Oh my God,” said a voice behind me.

I leapt into the air in alarm — literally. A short mid-teens girl in a baggy cardigan and unflattering glasses stood frozen in the bracken, staring at up me with her mouth hanging open. “You’re… you’re an angel,” she said.

As I was hovering six feet above her on glowing, slowly-beating wings, this did not seem like something I could deny. The rising sun highlighted the girl’s tear-tracked face and red eyes. She took a hesitant step forward, holding up a hand to shield herself from my light. “Who are you?” she breathed.

With my head backlit by my incandescent feathers, she must not have been able to make out my features. If only I could get away quickly, she need never know my identity. “Yes, I am an angel,” I said in the deepest voice I could manage, while frantically trying to work out how to go up. I wobbled dangerously in the air. “Sent from Heaven to, uh…”

“Smite the wicked?” the girl suggested hopefully. She sniffed, swiping her sleeve across her nose. “Because I can totally give you a list. Starting with that bitch Joanne.”

“Er, no.” What the hell did angels talk about? Half-remembered bits of the few Christmas services my dad had forced me to attend drifted up out of my memory. “I come bearing Good News! For unto you a child shall be born!”

The girl stared at me. She did not look like she considered this to be Glad Tidings.

GIVEAWAYS
Prize (open internationally): A signed copy of No Angel – a Rafflecopter giveaway – CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Interview with Epidiah Ravachol

A few days ago, I found a PDF e-zine in my inbox titled Worlds Without Master. It’s a mix of short fantasy stories, role-playing games, and other cool stuff. I loved the idea and the e-zine, and am so excited that the Overeditor, Epidiah Ravachol, agreed to do an interview on my blog!

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1. What prompted you to put together an e-zine? Was this your first?

It is my first! I’m not a stranger to independent publishing, and I’ve wanted to publish a sword and sorcery periodical for some time now; but the idea was a bit daunting. So I kept thinking of it as the project I tackle after this next one.

Then I was seeking an outlet for my own fiction and getting frustrated with the number of ezines that paid you in “free electronic copies.” I could get free electronic copies by emailing the stories to myself, if I wanted to. While venting this frustration on the Internet, I joked about making my own magazine, calling it Words Without Master, as a play on the title of a sword and sorcery game I had in the works called Swords Without Master. (Later I changed the name to Worlds Without Master, but I haven’t scrubbed the web clean of the original title yet.) The joke had some heat, and I realized I might have an audience.

Then I discovered Patreon, which is an interesting take on this whole crowdsourcing business. It’s a subscription model where the patrons pledge to give a certain amount of money every time you release something, up to a maximum amount per month that they set. The patrons aren’t charged until you’ve delivered your product and as the creator you can see how much money you’ll make on the product when you do release it. This is exactly the model I was looking for. I would know exactly how much money I could spend on each issue ahead of time, which helped eliminate risk. And I didn’t have all the pressure of fulfilling a product people had already paid for.

There were a few other pieces to the puzzle, but once I knew about Patreon, it was pretty much a forgone conclusion.

2. Why distribute as a PDF?

Printing and shipping is too unpredictable. I have friends who had really successful Kickstarter campaigns fund and then, before they could ship their product out, the US Postal Service jacked up their prices. It was not a pleasant sight.

So, in the interested of making this venture as risk-free as possible, I’m going to stick to electronic distribution. Right now, that means PDFs, because I’m most familiar with that format. In the future I hope to branch out into other formats, as long as they let me comfortably include the illustrations, comics and all the strange formatting that comes with role-playing games.

3. Your e-zine contains both fantasy stories, comics, role playing games. How do these things go together?

The sword and sorcery branch of fantasy and comics have a storied history. They both were raised in the pulps, and before the eventual rise of the superhero, pulp genres like Westerns, detective stories, and sword and sorcery figured very prominently in the comic industry.

I really wanted a comic strip for Worlds Without Master, but I thought that was something that could only happen in the far flung future. Something I would shoot for if the Patreon budget got really big. But then Bryant Paul Johnson, a gaming buddy and an accomplished artist, drew a frame of his comic and posted it online where he knew I’d see it. I seized the bait and I’m so happy with the results.

Sword and sorcery and role-playing games kind of go hand-in-hand, and that might be a bit of a problem for me. In the back of the original AD&D Dungeon Master’s Guide, Gary Gygax published a now somewhat famous list of influential fiction known as Appendix N. Not all, but perhaps the majority of the titles listed in this appendix fall within the genre of sword and sorcery. And when gamer goes back and reads these titles, they find origins of so many of monsters, sorceries and concepts found in the game.

The birth of D&D is the birth of the role-playing hobby, but it’s also the birth of a new genre of fantasy. One that is heavily influenced by D&D, as well as the fantasy role-playing and video games that have followed it. This genre is kissing cousins to sword and sorcery, but it’s not exactly sword and sorcery. And while I enjoy both genres, the D&D genre already has plenty of outlets. Sword and sorcery, in my opinion, could use another venue. I want Worlds Without Master to be that venue. So I’m drawing a hard line there, especially when it comes to the role-playing games I’m accepting. They’re under a little more scrutiny. Enter the Avenger, the role-playing game in the first issue, is a great example of a solidly sword and sorcery game. The list of places to visit in that game . . . I just want to grab my sword and leap into that world.

4. Artwork features prominently in your e-zine. Can you tell us a little bit about it?

Last summer I had the opportunity to see an art exhibit on imaginative realism, which is a style of art that takes fantastic subjects and portrays them as real objects. Or just a fancy name fantasy illustrations. One of the things that impressed me about the exhibit was the power of a single image to light a fuse that would eventually make my head explode in implied narrative. This quality was always vital to my experience of the fantasy art. When I’m sifting through the used book stores looking for lost classics, I’m judging a lot of these books by their covers. And there are so many role-playing games I’ve played based on the strength of their illustrations alone. And don’t get me started on Iron Maiden album covers.

So narrative is an important part of my art direction. I want the illustrations to present the viewers with a world they can’t help but step into and adventure in. I’m not as interested in seeing the characters in action as I am in implying the story around that action.

And it helps me make the e-zine something that teenage Eppy would buy. That’s a dude who could be swayed by some fancy drawings.

5. As an editor, what do you look for when reading submissions? Can you share any tips for writers?

I crave wonder in my stories. But this would be ridiculously useless advice if just said something vague like, “Make sure you deliver the wonder.” So let me instead point you to the more practical advice of a more experienced writer on the subject.

Michael Moorcock said, as part of his instructions on how to write a novel in three to ten days, “You need a list of images that are purely fantastic: deliberate paradoxes, say: the City of Screaming Statues, things like that. You just write a list of them so you’ve got them there when you need them. . . [T]hey have to cohere, have the right resonances, one with the other.”

My submission requirements ask for something a wee bit smaller than a novel, but this is grand practical advice for plugging wonder into your stories. I mean, when you read “City of Screaming Statues,” you were already picturing, and hearing, it in your head, weren’t you? What are these statues? How is that they scream? And why?

As a reader I cannot pass over a detail like that not literally wonder about it. If a submission does that to me then I have to pause and take it seriously. Even if it doesn’t exactly meet my other submission requirements or if it’ll take a lot of editorial massaging, if it pulls me in like that, I have to consider publishing it.

6. As a writer, what authors have inspired you?

Whoa boy. I’ll try my best to keep this list short by just naming the ones I can off the top of my head in no particular order: Fritz Leiber, Robert E. Howard, Robert Luis Stevenson, Michael Moorcock, Tanith Lee, Jack Vance, Charles R. Saunders, Harold Lamb, C.J. Cherryh, Leigh Brackett, Andrew Howard Jones, Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges, and Clark Ashton Smith.

And, of course, the lyrical genius of the late Ronnie James Dio.

7. What else have you written?

Most of my other work is in my role-playing games: DreadTime & TempVast & Starlit, and my proudest accomplishment, What Is a Roleplaying Game? which is a 463-word long role-playing game my mom used to teach my aunt about the hobby. But I do have a very short fable in The Lion and the Aardvark published by Stone Skin Press.

8. Do you ever edit your own work?

I have editors and proofreaders for most of my stuff. Though I am embarrassed to say that, due to deadline constraints, a few of the peripheral parts of the first issue were not seen by anyone else before it was published, and there are a couple typos to be found. But most of them have been hunted down and eliminated.

I really like the people I’ve worked with so far. I need their eyeballs, expertise, and opinions. Since I’ve got the final editorial say, it ends up being something of a dialog between our tastes and voices. And the end product seems better for it.

9. Where can we get a copy of your e-zine?

You can buy the first issue for $3.99 using this PayPal link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=3VUDUTN3VLXMW

But more importantly, if you want to make sure you get future issues for only $2.99 each, you should join the Patron Horde: www.Patreon.com/Epidiah

I say more importantly because, as I mentioned in my answer to the first question, Patreon lets me know how much money I have to work with for each issue. As this amount grows, so does the size and content of each issue. More sword and sorcery bang for your electronic buck, and all that.

10. Anything else you would like to add?

If you dig sword and sorcery and you’re interested in submitting, here are my guidelines: www.dig1000holes.com/words/submissions/