13 Questions! Interview with Jenocidal Doll

For quite some time, I have admired the style of the one and only Jenocidal Doll on Facebook (http://facebook.com/Jenocide13).  I love her flair and how she adds a splash of colour to her gothic style, although I don’t know if you can really pin a label on her…How do you pin a label on someone who is so eclectic, so unique?  She doesn’t really fit the mold when it comes to alternative fashion.  She breaks it.  She’s just herself and I think that’s what I admire about her most.  She’s an artist, a true artist, in a world where real and raw art is on the decline.  And you can tell that from her answers in this interview.

 

13 Questions! Interview with Jenocidal Doll 

Q: You have *AMAZING* fashion sense! I love how you have your own unique style. Who or what inspires you when you are thinking of the perfect outfit for a particular occasion?

A: thank you very much!! honestly i dont have too much inspiration just general. i have basic things i like and end up wearing them. most times if i have a goal it never comes out right. lol!

Q: Do you consider yourself to be dressing up, expressing yourself, or just being you? Maybe even a combination of all three, or maybe even something more?

A: i never considered either of those options really, its whatever i feel in that morning and what the weather allows. im not going to do full velvet in 90 degree heat. :p

Q: Whenever you have an “off-day”, where you don’t feel like getting dressed, let alone putting on makeup, what do you do?

A: depends on who is coming over or if i have to leave the house. I dont like people to see me “naked” and feel uncomfortable without my “mask”. i dont do full on make up to go grocery shopping but i probably wont take my sunglasses off. only a few people can see my face. for some reason that is very private, but if someone asked me to do a a tasteful nude photo shoot i would be butt naked.

Q: If you had to “tone down your look” so to speak, what would you wear? How would you do your makeup? And what would be absolutely non-negotiable?

A: I have a few times, clothes would usually be the same, maybe i have to cover my tattoos. long sleeves. less black in make up and pink lip gloss. must have, i would die without is a choker. i need a choker, like the face, i feel weird without something on my neck.

Q: Do you wear things that have meaning or symbolism behind them? Maybe something that takes you back to your childhood?

A:meaning and symbols? not sure anymore. i wear a coffin necklace that ive had since high school and im never without my bondange bracelet. i do have a necklace that i never take off. it has random charms: a key from my dad’s cigar box that had random Marine corps days trinkets, a dagger through a skull that my aunt gave to me, a pentagram that my friend gave to me in high school (which im considering retiring it), an anchor for my cousin and best friend (One is in the navy and the other is out), and a handcuff key that a friend gave to me. 

Q: Describe your style with five words.

A:….. Spooky causual with nerd flare?

Q: What are some interesting things others have said about your style?

A: dont remember too much, it’s a mix or positive and negative, mostly “i love your style!” or “Are you a devil worshipping whore and that’s why u look like that?” 

Q: NAME FIVE FASHION STAPLES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT! (Either specific or generally speaking.)

A: …. i barely have one! LOL. I love tripp, they have good quality and fit well. other than that i dont look at brands, just clothes and price tags. 

Q: What is the best colour to compliment black?

A: Depends on my mood, all colors mix well i think, but my usual colors r blue, purple, pink, red, burgundy or neon green. 

Q: I like mixing goth with classic ‘80s looks, or sometimes a little 1920’s. And, being from Texas, I tend to mix in some Western gear, like cowboy hats and boots. What are some of your favourite styles to integrate?

A: I guess i like the throw in something nerdy if i can every once i a while. Something ironic or funny. i guess i like cyber because ive always kinda done a mix of spooky hard core goth and raver and cybers are just the bastard children of both. they will never admit it but they are…. they are. DANCE GRAVER DANCE!!!! 

Q: Do you have something that you are known for wearing? A trademark of sorts?

A: Bondange braclet

Q: What kinds of music do you like?

A: I like a lot of stuff. EBM. Industrial. Goth. 80s. Rock. Mostly dance stuff. Electronic. 

Q: How do you feel about the commercialisation of goth and vampires(i.e. Twilight)?

A: I want to kill every last one of those little twilight fans. I love vampires. If u want vampires go back to Interview or the true blood series. I loved vampires until twilight.


Official Mod Ghoul Interview!

Wow!  I was lucky enough to snag an interview with the Mod Ghoul, Horror Host Extraordinaire!  Needless to say, it was quite exciting!  He welcomed me into his crypt, which I must say was *lovely*, and I enjoyed gaining some insight straight from the Ghoul who knows best!

1.     First of all, I’d like to get a little background on the Mod Ghoul. How did you become a ghoul, and where did you pick up that lovely accent?

The ghoul just seemed like a neat little thing to be and I chose to make him a combination of two of my favorite things. Horror and The Who. I played with the name The Mad Ghoul, which is a great old movie with George Zucco. I changed Mad to Mod which is my homage to The Who and the whole Mod scene that the band came out of. The accent came with that Mod persona. Mod’s were a youth subculture in Britain in the 60s and The Who came out of that scene. So the Mod Ghoul is a kind of Quadrophenia meets Dracula. 

2.     How old are you?

I’m 45

3.     I noticed you have an interesting list of musical LIKES on Facebook. What are some of your favourites?

The Who of course but also the punk/new wave scene of the 80s. Bands like The Clash, The Jam, XTC, The Damned and The Sex Pistols.

4.     What are some of the things the Mod Ghoul can’t live without?

Meat, snacks like Ring Dings and Moon Pies, music and a good horror movie.

5.     What are some of your goals? International super stardom? Global takeover, perhaps?

I just want to continue to do my show and entertain all you lovely people. Who knows where this will go.

6.     What type of diet must a ghoul follow to stay healthy?

Meat and junk food

7.     LIST FIVE HORROR FLICKS THAT EVERYONE JUST *HAS* TO SEE!

Horror Hotel
Night Of The Living Dead
Psycho
Halloween
ReAnimator

8 What is your favourite horror movie of all time?

There are so many that I love but if I had to pick just one it would have to be Horror Hotel. Grew up with that one and it still has such a creepy feel to it. Of course The Wolfman has a soft spot with me since that was the first horror movie I ever saw.

9.     Is there anything that scares you?

Heights and religious judgmental people. Judgmental people in any walk of life.

10.     I’m sure the life of a ghoul is pretty busy. What do you do to unwind?

I just crank up the tunes, sit back with a cold beverage and jam. Don’t think of anything. Well, I’m always thinking of the next show but still…

11.     Are there any current or future projects that you’re working on that you could tell us about?

Always thinking. Look out for me mate Ewan MacDaddy, Scottish rapper. He will be popping up here and there.

~*~*~*~*~

I want to give the Mod Ghoul a *HUGE* thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.  I had so much fun!  Great things lie ahead of him!

Don’t forget to check out his Facebook page:
http://www.facebook.com/#!/themodghoul

You can find the videos of His Ghoulishness right here:
http://www.youtube.com/user/WeirdWebTheater

To chat with fellow horror fans, you can join the good folks at Tinger TV (hosted by the Mod Ghoul himself!):
http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/55monsters/

Take a peek at Weird Web Theater, created by A. Ghastlee Ghoul and the Mod Ghoul, another great place for all of you horror fans to hang out.
http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Weird-Web-Theater/232800660071752


Interview with Kent Holloway of Seven Realms Publishing (A must-read for all writers!)

If you’re a writer, you may very well know how stressful it can be as you go through the process of writing a billion query letters and waiting for the responses.  Just wondering if you have your query letter perfect, or if you even have a chance at writing, can make you wonder if you should keep going and, if so, where to go from there.

I was fortunate enough to get an interview with Kent Holloway http://kenthollowayonline.blogspot.com of Seven Realms Publishing http://www.sevenrealmspublishing.com!  He answered those questions and thensome, including the burning question of how e-books have changed the book world as we know it!  Not only was the interview informative, but Mr. Holloway’s delivery was so entertaining, I cracked a smile once or twice, and I even found myself stifling a giggle at times.  His enthusiasm for writing, publishing, and books is absolutely contagious!  If you’re a writer, you may want to read this, especially if you are trying to get published; I’m certain this interview will answer some of your own questions, and best of luck to all on your destinations to publication!

(P.S.  Don’t forget to check out the new-and-upcoming titles from Seven Realms Publishing, featured at the end of this blog!)

 Interview with Kent Holloway: Seven Realms Publishing

 

1.)    What are some qualities that you have to have to succeed in your line of work?

To be a publisher (a decent one anyway), I kind of think there needs to be three major qualities.

1) Strive for Patience. Let’s face it, there are a lot of things going on that can go wrong in the publishing business and very little time, money, or other resources that can be wasted. I have to remind myself when I get a little stressed or frustrated that whatever irritation that has reared its head at any given moment will pass and that it’s important to take things in stride.

2) Strive for Compassion. This might sound strange coming from a publisher, but I think a certain amount of compassion should be an absolute requirement in any publishing company. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen. I’m just saying there should be. We need to remember that people have worked hard to put their books together. They’ve infused their works with great portions of their soul. Granted, sometimes, even the greatest of labors do not produce good authors. Or perhaps, the story just doesn’t fit with a particular company’s vision or game plan. Or, what I believe is the most common scenario, a particular manuscript just doesn’t appeal to the subjective tastes of the acquisitions editor. That’s perfectly fair. Perfectly reasonable. But what is neither perfectly fair or reasonable is to forget to have compassion when we decline their submissions. When we forget to be human.

Now, I won’t lie and say that I’ve always acted with the utmost of empathy toward every single submission that is sent to me. No. On the contrary…to my own mortification, I have been bombarded with submission after submission during a time or two in which A) we weren’t accepting submissions and B) I was up to my eyeballs in edits, promotional work, book cover design, interior formatting…etc., etc. etc. And you can imagine what comes next.

That’s right. I reason that our website clearly states we are not accepting submissions at the moment. I’m just simply too busy to deal with them right now. And into the trash bin their submissions have gone. Without even the slightest glance.

I don’t tell you this because I’m proud. No way! It, like I said earlier, mortifies me that I would behave so callously. But that’s my point of why I say a publisher should “strive” for compassion. We’ll all have lapses. We’ll all become overwhelmed with the day to day operations of running a company. And we’ll all occasionally lose that patience I mentioned in #1 and fail to have compassion on someone who simply wants to see their greatest dreams fulfilled. But what we must try to do…must make an absolute priority…is to try to always deal with those who seek publication from us with a great amount of compassion and respect.

3) Love your books. The final thing I think that is essential for a publisher is to LOVE the books he publishes. All too often, publishers rely on trends or market research or blah blah blah. Forget all that. Don’t worry about whether Harry Twilight is still popular or not. The publisher would do very well to listen to his/her own tastes. Her own instincts. His own…dare I say it…enjoyment of the manuscript itself.

To me, it’s relatively obvious. If a publisher isn’t one hundred percent in love with a book that he publishes, then how on earth is he going to sell it? How is he going to market it? How is he going to put his one hundred percent into it? And writers, let me say this…you don’t want a publisher to publish your book who doesn’t believe in it completely. No matter how badly you want to see it published…if you don’t feel that the publisher is completely into it, don’t let them touch it. Move onto the next one until you find the company who loves it even more than you do!

2.)    What are some qualities that can help a writer to become successful?

Well, in a nutshell, I’d say all three of the characteristics I mentioned for the publisher. If both parties would learn to strive for patience and compassion, the process would go a lot more smooth.

In addition, I don’t think there should be anyone on earth who loves their book more than the author. When I first decided to pursue writing…long before deciding to become a publisher…I did so with one absolute in mind. I would only write books that I wanted to read. I would only write books that I personally loved. The entire world can hate and despise my books…but as long as I wrote something that appeals to me, I could really care less what others think about it. I’m writing for an audience of one basically. If other people enjoy the show, it’s all the sweeter!

On a practical level, I’d say the paramount quality a writer has to have is—quite simply—talent. It doesn’t take much, but writing does require at least a miniscule portion of raw talent. If the writer has just a smidgeon of talent, they can hone and perfect that through practice, practice, practice. And how does a writer practice? By writing, writing, writing…um, and reading (a lot), then writing some more.

Finally, a thick skin is absolutely essential for obvious reasons. You pour your blood, sweat, and tears into your work. More times than not, you’ll have your soul ripped out of your work by criticism (both fair and unfair). So, it’s best to refer back to the part where I said you should only write books that you personally love. You’ll find the skin is much thicker that way!

3.)    Do you have any query peeves? What will guarantee that a query letter will go straight to the slush pile?

I have three primary query peeves. And every single one of them can be summed up by one characteristic: arrogance.

Here are my peeves:

  • ·       Sending me a query submission despite the fact that my website clearly states that we are not accepting submissions at this time…in numerous places throughout the website. Typically, for any publisher, submissions are closed for a reason…not just to annoy writers. In a small press like 7R, we’re just getting started. We really do have very limited resources and we can only publish a handful of titles per year. I typically close submissions when I simply have no room for more titles for the year (or maybe even the following). It’s not that I’m being insensitive to the author’s plight. It’s just that I physically and financially cannot consider any more submissions at the moment.

So, when I receive a query despite the numerous places on my website that says SUBMISSIONS CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, I get a little annoyed. What that author is saying to me when they do this is, “Yeah, I know submissions are closed for other people, but my book is so incredibly special, you’ll thank me for disregarding the rules and sending it anyway.” And they could be absolutely right. It could possibly be the next Twilight or Harry Potter. And if they send it to me that way…well, then I guess we’ll miss out on publishing the next great fad in publishing because I typically disregard these submissions out of hand.

Sometimes, such as now, I put on the website that submissions are by “invitation only” (which we’ll come back to a few questions down). When I have submissions by invitation only, I do allow for some room for people to send queries if they’d like. But they are placed on a lower priority bracket than those I’ve specifically requested from people. 

  • ·       Completely disregarding the submission guidelines. This one really drives me crazy. I’ve been rather specific on the format in which I want all of our submissions to be sent. I’ve talked about sending the initial query letter with a brief synopsis, then to paste the first three chapters into the body of the email. Simple, right? Well, apparently, not for quite a few people because I can’t even begin to tell you the crazy styles and formats I’ve received as queries. For someone to completely disregard the guidelines in such an obvious way tells me immediately that this is one person (I hesitate to call them an author) that I do not want to work with. After all, who wants to work with someone who can’t follow directions?
  • ·       Sending a query that is entirely too familiar, personal, or silly. Now anyone who knows me will tell you that I cannot stand pretentiousness. I don’t like anything fancy. There’s nothing worse to me than wearing a suit and tie or being all ceremonial. At 7R, we are very laid back. Very relaxed. My authors have become like my family, so there’s no need to the formalities.

But if you’re not one of my authors (yet) and you don’t know me personally, then we need to be introduced. A query letter provides that introduction. If you saw me on the street and wanted to introduce yourself, you wouldn’t walk up to me and expect me to do the “secret handshake” with you, would you? Of course not…because we don’t know each other well enough to have a secret handshake. So, why would a person approach a potential publisher with such a cavalier demeanor.

Yes, I know they tell you to approach query letters like you have the utmost confidence in your book (you SHOULD have utmost confidence in your book…especially if you hold to my “Love your book” philosophy)…but there is a fine line between confidence and arrogance.

Now by overly personal query emails, I’m not referring to whether they address me as Mr. Holloway or Kent. That just depends on how your mamas raised you on how you want to handle that. I’m just saying that it is probably wise that you don’t act like the potential publisher and you went to one too many keggers while in college together…unless, of course, you actually did. Then you might actually have some leverage over the publisher to consider your work.

4.)    Now, if a person commits these faux-pas, what, if anything, just *might* grant them enough redemption so that you would finish reading the query, or even move on to the sample chapters?

A display of sincere humility. Hey, we’re all human! We make mistakes. We become over eager. We’re really excited about this awesome manuscript we’ve just completed after working on it for so long and we just get carried away when sending them out to publishers and agents. If the author, realizing their mistake without me saying anything, writes back and shows true humility…explains why they might have been overzealous, etc…that would go a very long way in, not only giving them another shot, but also helping me to like them even more.

You see, let’s be honest…anyone can write a novel. It’s true. They can. Some novels are naturally better than others, but when it comes down to it, anyone can punch out letters on a keyboard and throw down a completed manuscript. And frankly, I’m more concerned about the author’s state of mind and whether they are going to listen to what I, as the publisher, say without arguing or bowing up and playing prima donna on me. An author who shows great humility is an author who is flexible and open to making their manuscript the very best it can be! That goes a very long way in helping me decide whether I want to work with that author or not.

 

6.)    It seemed that a few years back, the world of writing and publishing was on the decline because readers had swapped paperbacks for e-books. From what I had read, publishers and agencies were more choosey with the projects they took on, and writers had a harder time breaking into print. With e-books, Kindle, and the spread of technology in this field, how has it changed things for those in publishing, and for the writers?

It’s actually an amazing thing. The explosion of ebooks, not to mention digital Print-On-Demand (POD) book printing, has blasted the gates of publishing that had been barred for so long. Anyone…from the little granny who wants to write her memoirs for family and friends to the aspiring next Clive Cussler…now has the opportunity to share their brilliant works with the world. Even more, they don’t even need a publisher to do it. With services such as Lulu.com and Createspace.com, writers can have their own books available in print. And with a little study, they can upload their books as ebooks at absolutely no cost through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords.

Of course, POD and ebooks—well, the digital revolution in general—have allowed people like me an opportunity to gain relatively equal footing with the big publishers. After all, in cyberspace, shelf space is unlimited! (And yes, you don’t know how badly I wanted to use a “no one could hear you scream” joke there…but this is evidence of my maturing.) Seven Realms books sit side by side with Simon & Schuster, St. Martins, and Penguin books. With a little luck, some decent marketing, and a touch of patience, my authors at 7R have just as much chance to succeed as anyone. It’s really a beautiful thing!

However, going back to my original statement about it allowing anyone to publish without need for a publisher, one might ask…well, why do they need you? Well, publishers still come in handy. We have more experience at the whole putting a book together (editing, cover design, promotion, etc.) than the average author. However, I do foresee a day where the publisher might literally be replaced by another animal altogether! But that’s a question for another time (and yes, I’m very prepared for that day. It will be a good day for publishers and authors alike actually).

 

7.)    Aside from publishing, do you also act as a literary agency for your authors? What other services do you offer?

We are a straight up publishing company. We do not act as literary agents. After all, that’s an entirely different profession. However, I will say that there have been times that I’ve recommended other publishing companies to authors in those unfortunate times that I’ve had to decline their manuscripts. I’ve tried to point them in a plausible direction for their particular work. But it’s actually very bad business to act as both publisher and literary agency. I’d hazard to say it borders on the unethical and I wouldn’t trust any company that dabbled in both.

 

8.)     I love how Seven Realms Publishing promotes its authors. You give *EXCELLENT* PR! What are some of the career backgrounds of those at Seven Realms Publishing, and how does it extend into your field?

Ha ha! This is a great question simply because the answer may sound so…um, insane. Until recently (like up until the last three months or so), I, Kent Holloway, have been every single employee 7R has. That’s right. I acted as managing editor, editor, cover artist, cover designer, marketing specialist, web designer, FB promoter, Tweeter, book interior formatter, printing and distribution coordinator….and all while having another 40 hour a week job to put food on the table. Oh, and that forty-hour a week job? I’m a forensic death investigator for a Medical Examiner’s Office.

However, though my profession has been investigations for more than 10 years, I have done a number of other jobs. I’ve been a newspaper reporter, a high school English teacher, an assignment editor for two TV news stations, a private investigator, a probation officer, and a preacher (yes, I’m an ordained Baptist minister as well). So, pretty much, all of these experiences have taught me a great deal about promotion.

But honestly, I don’t see what I do as “marketing” or “promotion”. I see it has trying to do the world a favor. You see…if I go to a restaurant and discover the “World’s Greatest Pie.” I am so going to savor every morsel of that pie. Then, I’m going to run out and tell everyone I know and love about that pie. I’m going to recommend that they go immediately and try that pie. I’m going to write down directions to the restaurant. Heck, I’m going to drive them to the restaurant myself if I have to…just so they can experience that awesome pie (and of course, I’d get me more pie while I was there). Well, that’s how I see 7R books. I honestly don’t publish a single book that I am not 100 percent enthusiastic about. If I love that book, then I’m going to want you to love that book too. But you can’t love that book like I do unless I tell you about it. So…that’s why our PR campaigns may seem so enthusiastic. Because I truly am.

Oh, and FYI…I’ve recently hired some help. Have a handful of contract editors (including an editor-in-chief). Have several contract artists for book covers. Recently acquired a business partner to handle much of the business-ey things that bore me….just so I can spend more time doing the things I love to do…which is telling others about our books.

 

9.)    I’ve read a lot of positive things about smaller publishers, like they have more freedoms that larger publishing houses do not, and that publisher-author relationships are more on a personal level. Could you elaborate on some of the perks you get as a “small” press?

Oh, I love this question! You’re absolutely right. The relationship between author and publisher, I believe, is so much better in a small press environment. To be honest, I’ve never had a book published by one of the “Big Six”, so I can’t say with one hundred percent certainty…but from the things I’ve heard, I’d say I’m correct in saying that.

I have tried to make 7R an extremely author-friendly company. This goes from the contract to the production process and all the way through sales and marketing. As far as contacts, I believe 7R has some of the best terms out there (20%+ royalties across the board, decent advances (the royalty/advance varies on the notoriety of the author), and many other things). Then, the author has a huge say in the production process. For instance, cover design. We will not go with a cover that my author doesn’t absolutely love. We will work at the cover until everyone involved in the projects is completely satisfied. This is way different than most big companies. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some of my Big Six author friends complain about the direction their publishers went on the book cover. That makes no sense to me. Once again, it goes back to that “gotta love the book completely” deal. If the author isn’t super excited about the book cover—and especially if they’re embarrassed by it—they’re not going to work as hard to promote it.

Even the editing phase is very author friendly. Yes, there are many things that must be fixed in the editing process. Things where there is simply no choice (like typos). But if one of my editors suggest a chance that is a matter of preference or a plot element that MIGHT make the story better, I usually trust the author’s judgment and allow them to make whatever changes they think will work best.

So, yeah, our authors do enjoy a great deal of “say” in the entire process and I think that really helps in creating the best books.

 

10.)    When should a writer decide to retire the pen and paper? When their family sends back negative critiques? When they fail writing classes? When they receive Rejection Letter#1,234,567,890? Not that anyone is counting, *LOL*. . .

Oooh, I don’t like this question at all! Not that it’s not a very excellent question, mind you. It’s just that I am an encourager. I don’t like discouraging anyone from following their dreams. But let’s face it…the cold hard reality is that some people are just not cut out to be writers. Heck, they may be the best story tellers around…but when it comes to putting pen to paper and  connecting a string of words together in a piece of prose, well, you know where I’m going with this. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If a person isn’t cut out for writing, then I’m sure there is something that they can do that I couldn’t even begin to attempt in a million years. I’m reminded of one extremely gorgeous super model. She was (still is) amazing at modeling and, like I said, beautiful. Then, she is asked to do a commercial for a certain well known cola. And in this commercial, she has to sing. And when her mouth opens and the words start pouring from her mouth, her attractive-quality meter just starts spiraling downward with each stanza she blurts out. Oh, the humanity! What a horrible singing voice. [Um, not that I could do any better, mind you.] My point is, this woman is a highly successful model with an equally successful acting career. Who cares if singing isn’t one of her gifts. Just don’t ask her to sing again and we’ll all be okay.

So when should a writer give up the ghost? Give up the dream? Close the lid to his/her laptop for the final time and take up sculpting instead? I’ll refer you to rule three of the essential characteristics of an author. The moment the LOVE is gone, the author should stop. The moment the author becomes truly honest with himself. The moment they realize, “You know, this just isn’t working.” Only the author can determine the right time to give it up. And thank goodness for that!

 

11.)    If you see potential in a piece, but maybe the word count is too low or too high, or maybe the manuscript requires a few changes here or there, would you work with the writer to make it marketable, or would you automatically give it a rejection?

I never really get caught up in word count to be honest. Granted, I would prefer at least about 70,000 words and I definitely don’t want too many novels over 120K. But I don’t use those numbers as a basis for if I decide to publish a book or not. Heck, a little secret here: we published Rick Nichols’ debut hardboiled detective novel (Survivor’s Affair) and it was a year later that I realized that the book was only about 55K words! Lol It’s just not a priority for me.

However, manuscript changes are another thing. There have been a couple of books we’ve published where I LOVED the story, but knew the manuscript was going to need a great deal of polishing. I’ve worked with these authors hard to bring their manuscripts up to 7R standards. To be honest, I probably won’t be doing that much in the future. My rule of thumb is, like most things in publishing, very subjective: If I feel the amount of work required to bring a book up to snuff is going to be too costly in both time, energy, and money…I probably won’t accept it.

Okay, let me rephrase that. If I REALLY REALLY like a story, I might sign the author for the book with the stipulation that they do a full re-write on my specifications. Then, I’ll ask them to fully edit their new manuscript and polish it up to near perfection before I even start the 7R process of editing it. If they’re willing to do that, it says a lot about them as authors and human beings.

Once again, it’s just a matter of subjective rationalizing. “Do I love the story enough to commit the time and resources required to publish this book?” If the answer is yes for me, then the author has a shot.

 

12.)    As a writer, there is a lot of conflicting information when researching the perfect query letter. One will say to compare your work to other books; others tell you not to compare it to anything. Some agents/publishers feel any mention of their notable achievements is an insidious way to get ahead, while it lets others know why you chose them and makes them feel like you’ve done your research. And then, some don’t want to hear about your personal hobbies, interests, or achievements unless it’s pertinent to the writing, while others want a little insight into the person behind the writing. Since these things are subjective, and some agencies and publishing houses don’t list these preferences, how is one to know what’s right to include in that particular submission?

Wow. That’s a tough one. And the only way to answer that question honestly is to shrug my shoulders and mumble “Idunno.” Seriously. How can anyone on earth keep up with all the craziness in regards to queries? You’d almost have to be Kreskin to do it. Or maybe God. It’s a mystery as big and as wide as the Bermuda Triangle and just because I’m on the other side of the query desk doesn’t give me any more insight.

So here is my tip to you: ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS follow the submission guidelines of the particular agent/publisher to the letter (even if it requires you to write one hundred and three different query letters). If they didn’t specifically say they wanted a particular piece of information on their website, then they can’t very well hold you responsible for not providing it. Then, if you decide to add things like accomplishments and/or hobbies (FYI, I’m personally only concerned with one thing when I read a query…does it tickle my fancy!), feel free to do it unless the instructions tell you explicitly NOT to include that information.

As long as you follow the guidelines to the letter, you will be okay. Promise.

 

13.)    Is it better to regard a query letter as “All-Business”, or to let the voice convey the feel of the actual manuscript? What do you look for in a query letter?

On this one, I can’t speak for other publishers. It’s one of those very subjective concepts, I believe. As I have already mentioned, overly-friendly queries lose my interest very quickly. If I feel I’m not being given the amount of respect that should be given (I’m very old fashioned with very southern ideals (so I like Yes, ma’am and No, sir kind of etiquette)), then it’s a turn off real quick.

At the same time, I don’t want a query letter to read like a “How To Build Your Very Own Proton-Pack Generator” manual either. If you can make me laugh, then all the better. Just make sure your jokes are truly funny. I had one clown send a query letter to me once that actually poked fun at some of our titles (and in a very mean-spirited way, I think). Not very funny to me actually. Instant rejection, to be quite honest.

But I think a professional demeanor in a query letter is probably the safe way to go. Just don’t confuse “professional” with “Arid Extra Dry”.

 

14.)    I see a lot of publishers and agencies that only take proposals upon invitation. How does one go about getting a request to send in a proposal or manuscript?

Well, as I’ve already stated, 7R is currently “Invitation Only”. Hmmmm…so how does one get an invitation? Well, I’d say the most common way is simply for me to know about your work and think you’d be a good fit. That’s how it happens most of the time. For instance, I’m a huge fan of Scottish indie author of Lovecraftian-style detective stories William Meikle. So, I approached him and will be publishing his The Concordances of the Red Serpent in print around December 2011. Same with Hy Conrad and his upcoming Rally ‘Round the Corpse cozy mystery…I’m a huge fan of his, even before he became the writer/producer of TV’s MONK. So I actively pursued him and he agreed to let me publish him.

Then, there have been those authors who were suggested to me by other 7R authors (Sean Ellis is notorious for introducing me to potential authors). So, it’s sort of a “who knows you” kind of thing.

Still, when 7R does the by “invitation only” thing, I usually allow for unsolicited queries. I don’t feel obligated to respond to them (as I would if submissions were opened), but if a query catches my eye, they may receive an invitation for more.

I honestly can’t say how it works for other publishers though.

 

14.)    I’m reminded of the old joke. The teacher goes to her student’s house and says, “Susie, is your mother home?” and Susie says, “She ain’t here.” The teacher says, “SUSIE! YOUR GRAMMAR!” to which Little Susie responds, “She ain’t here, neither.” Because of the type of work that you do, does it make you *cringe* whenever someone uses improper grammar?

Haha! Love that joke. And as to the question, well, it kind of depends on the context. Anyone who reads this interview can see that I don’t necessarily follow all the rules of grammar to the letter. Plus, I tend to overuse the ellipses like a madman. But if a person is writing dialogue of a character and the improper grammar is true to the character, then I’m fine with it. If certain use of improper grammar goes with the voice of a particular work, I can overlook it from time to time as well.

But if you’re submitting a query to me or if you’re presenting yourself as an author, then you better be able to show me that you have a strong command of the English language.

I guess where my pet peeve comes in is the use of texting language. There is nothing more disheartening to me than the explosion of popularity for grammatical conventions necessitated by the increase in texting. Granted, many linguists could argue that the English language is ever-evolving, ever-changing. It is alive. It is growing. Conventions of today were the texting conventions of twenty years ago. There’s no such thing as a language purist…at least, that’s what they say. Case in point, when I was in grammar school way back in the early 80s, I was taught a certain school of grammar. When I made it to high school and even college, it was MLS. Now, I believe the current accepted style of grammar comes from the Chicago Manual. Yet, when I was in seminary a mere seven years ago, we were forced to use Turabian’s manual. While I was a newspaper reporter, it was AP style. The point…grammar and English is constantly changing and how are we to keep up?

Answer: I have absolutely no idea. Just don’t “OMG” or “LOL” me when writing a query letter and we’ll both be happy. 🙂

 

15.)    What gets you excited over a project? What really *WOWS* you?

Ummmm…that’s kind of like asking why is a sunset beautiful. It’s a very difficult one to actually answer. And I hate to spatter this interview with the word “subjective, subjective, subjective” but the truth is…most of publishing is exactly that. It’s completely subjective.

Once again, it goes back to my love for the book. But what kind of books do I love? It’s really hard to say. I don’t really have on particular genre that I enjoy. But I can say that I only have a handful of authors that I read consistently and will ALWAYS buy their next book. These authors: Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child (perhaps my favorite all time), Jim Butcher, Ted Dekker, Frank Peretti, William Meikle, Sean Ellis.

I guess I would say I love adventure stories with a HINT of the paranormal about them. But it’s often a matter of just the story in general. Is there something about the concept that just resonates within me? Case in point…I’m currently reading a manuscript from a fairly well-known mid-lister for consideration. He was concerned that I might not like it because A) it didn’t fit with other books that 7R has done and B) it has certain elements that he thought I might find offensive considering my Christian background. But I encouraged him to send it to me anyway and I started reading it…and simply can’t stop. I absolutely love it. Why? I have no idea…except to just say, it’s just a great read. Very different. Very well-written. And the story is exceptionally well thought out.

So my answer to your question, in short, will have to be…it’s totally subjective. Sorry about that.

 

16.)    Can you name a few upcoming titles from Seven Realms Press?

Oh wow! Can I?! J It would be my pleasure. Allow me to just list the next few books and their dates:

  • ·       September 2011 – Double Heart by Rob MacGregor (NY Times bestselling author of seven Indiana Jones novels). Double Heart is a young adult mystery adventure set on a modern Hopi Indian reservation and features the adventures of a high school student there who starts investigating a murder only to find himself stalked by an evil shapeshifting witch known as Double Heart.
     
  • ·       October 2011 – The Supernaturals by David L. Golemon (NY Times bestselling author of The EVENT Group series). Think Ghosthunters on steroids and you’ll get an idea of what this book might be like. A team of ghost hunters are recruited to investigate a house with a huge appetite for a live show on Halloween night! What could go wrong, right?!
     
  • ·       December 2011 – The Concordances of the Red Serpent by William Meikle. An ancient text lost to the world resurfaces in the office of an unassuming book restorer…and her entire office is murdered because of it. Now on the run from both the bad guys and the police, she must turn to a mysterious reporter who knows much more about the book than he lets on for help.
     
  • ·       January 2012 – Devil’s Child (Book 3 of The ENIGMA Directive series) by J. Kent Holloway. This is my own book and the third in my series of adventures featuring wisecracking cryptozoologist Dr. Obadiah “Jack” Jackson. In this adventure, Jack and the team travel to New York City where there’s a new tourist in town. It seems that Jersey Devil has left it’s comfortable territory of the Pine Barrens to take a bite of the Big Apple and Jack has to figure out why.

 

I want to give a *BIG* thanks to Mr. Kent Holloway of Seven Realms Publishing to taking time from his busy day to do this interview!

And don’t forget to check out the following links!

http://www.sevenrealmspublishing.com

http://kenthollowayonline.blogspot.com


Werewolves: Beware the Texas Moon . . .

Shapeshifting is generally associated with Native American culture and legend, but I can’t say for certain whether or not it is regarded as truth among Native Americans themselves.  However, it has become a sort of mainstream interest with paranormal and occult enthusiasts, with books and websites that explain how to shapeshift and documented sightings of shapeshifters.  The idea behind shapeshifting is that one can become just about anything they want, whether it’s an animal, a tree, or a chair!

There are so many stories of werecreatures.  Werecreatures are generally large bipedal canines or felines, but I’m sure there are others.  Maybe there are werehorses, werebutterflies, and weredolphins.  Who knows!  It might seem a ridiculous stretch, but to someone who believes in werewolves, anything is possible!

The main difference, to my understanding, between shapeshifters and werecreatures is that a shapeshifter does not only have the ability to choose what they want to become and can will it at any time, but that they take on the appearance of your average every-day housecat, or maybe a common raven.  And no one is the wiser.  With a werecreature, legends usually state that the transformation is usually out of the person’s control, and they do not appear as a normal animal, but something larger and monstrous.

(  THIS JUST IN!  My friend, Audrey, who is quite the werewolf expert, enlightened me a bit more upon these creatures.  I had her read this because if you need to know something about werewolves, she’s the one to go to.  I was so intent upon the story rather than the legend, I failed to mention one of the more interesting takes!  But it’s okay, because Audrey was there to remind me.  She responded: “In many cultures, the were can also shift at will. Like European legend of a man who puts on the pelt of a wolf, or wears it like a belt can take on the form. Then take it off again when he doesn’t want it anymore. Or even in old Norse Mythology, those who follow Fenris were given the ability to take on the form of his children at will. =)” If you’re interested in reading some of Audrey’s inspirational writings, you can find it here:
http://audrey-haveyounotheard.blogspot.com/  )

 
But werewolves, my friend…Werewolves are a whole ‘nother story!

I am not talking about lyncanthropy, where a person believes themself to be a wolf and sometimes possesses super-human strength during a full moon while staying in human form.  People suffering from lycanthropy actually visualise themselves in the form of a wolf, and bite and claw at people, and when they are locked in a room they sometimes tear at the walls or doors at an attempt to escape.  Some even act on their desires of bloodlust, whether it is upon small animals, raw meat, or even people.  It has been noted by some that people with this affliction actually show more agility and coordination when they are walking on all fours than they do when they are walking upright.  Although lycanthropy is an interesting topic, my motive in this article is to give a little background on your Everyday-All-American Blood-Thirsty Werewolf!

Generally speaking, werewolves are regular people who turn into wolves when the full moon rises.  There are many theories on why someone is cursed to dwell among the damned.  Gypsy spells.  A bite from another werewolf.  A pact with the Devil.  Yes, there are some who become a werewolf by choice.  Their history is rich, dating back centuries ago and from what I’ve read, seems to have started in Europe, though there are werebeings in so many cultures from all over the world.  So, technically, our “American” werewolf is actually a mixture of legends and myths (and perhaps some truth) of the European werewolf, along with the eclectic mixture of cultures that we find here in the U.S.

But, as a true-blooded Texan, and I wanted to write about some down-home werewolf stories.  I turned up a couple of creepy tales, along with a very special story which was told to me firsthand!  So, read on…if you’re not easily scared. Mrs. Gregg of Greggton, Texas, had a brush with a strange creature in the late 1950’s.  Her husband was away on business, so she was alone that night.  There was a storm rolling in, so she decided to push her bed closer to the open window to enjoy the cool fresh air.  She drifted off to sleep, and shortly thereafter was awakened by the sound of something clawing at the window screen.  There was a sudden crash of lightening, and that’s when she caught a glimpse of a large creature with the face of a wolf.  She described him as “huge” and “shaggy”, and his eyes, she said, were “baleful”, “glowing” and “slitted”.  She grabbed a flashlight and watched the thing run into a cluster of bushes, waiting for it to run out from the shrubbery so that she could get a better view of it.  She fully expected to see the monster pop out, but instead, she saw an “extremely tall man” walking quickly toward the road before the black night swallowed his form. 

One of my favourite werewolf stories takes place in Lawton, Texas.  In 1970, there was an outbreak of sightings over the course of three days, and calls were flooding into the police department left and right!  One man had a heart attack when he looked out his window and saw a beast having a drink from his fish pond.  A group of soldiers stationed in the area also saw the monster.  There was another man who looked out of his apartment window and saw it leaning against a railing.  I don’t know what railing he was leaning against, but everything I’ve read on the Lawton werewolf says that he was leaning against a railing, so that’s all I know.  Anyway, he thought it was someone in costume until the beast jumped nearly twenty feet to the ground and ran away with the gait of a monkey!  The part that I find most amusing about this story is that the wolf-man was wearing pants that were a few sizes too small for him.  In most real life werewolf stories I’ve heard, the werewolves are just gallivanting around in the buff!  I think the clothes gives the creature a more humanistic quality than some of the other tales I’ve heard. 

Now, I cannot leave out the Converse Werewolf!  I live fairly close to Converse, so this story hits home and makes me wonder what might have become of the creature.  In the 1800’s, a farmer sent his son out to kill a deer and bring it home for supper.  The boy, aged fifteen, set out to do just that.  It was two or three days before he came home, and so the farmer went out to find him.  He heard a sound and set off in that direction with a ray of hope, but what he found was an eight-foot-tall creature hovering over the young man.  The poor boy had been eaten, and when the farmer approached, the animal disappeared into the woods.  It was said that the man became very depressed and died because he couldn’t cope with what had happened, and quite possibly felt as if he was to blame for his son’s death. 

I have heard about the Cleo Face, but I don’t know what to make of it because I haven’t been able to turn up a lot of information about it.  N.Q. Patterson was one of the early residents of Kimble County and had an interesting background.  He carved gravestones for a living, and during a bout with tuberculosis, he spent a lot of time carving things on the rocks that lined Bear Creek which ran along his property.  I would love to view an image of the Cleo Face, but there’s very little info that I can find on this particular case as it is.  Time had made it harder to discern the image, so I wonder if it’s visible now since it was carved near the turn of the twentieth century, or if anyone had taken pictures of it.  The face could have been that of a bear, but it was rumoured that it was actually the face of a werewolf.  Who knows?  But if anyone is interested in finding out about the image, maybe we should plan a roadtrip to the little ghost town of Cleo!  I would love to stop at little diners and gift shops along the way and collect stories about the local legend. 

And here is my final short, the reason for my delay in getting this piece done.  I wanted to make sure I got down the important details to this one, and I was finally able to sit down with Joe and my laptop and ask the questions I needed to know. 

This happened in Devine, Texas in 1963, around midnight and about a week before Christmas.  It was a moonlit country night.  Joe, a teenager at the time, was taking shortcuts through fields after watching a picture show.  As he made his way home, he came upon a large German Shepard, larger than any he’d ever seen.  At first all he could see was a pair of glowing orange eyes, perhaps a reflection from the moonlight?  Thinking the dog was friendly, he leaned over and put his hand out.  “Here, boy!”  But then the dog started growling, slowly making its way toward Joe.  He thought at first that the dog must have been rabid; living in the country, it is not rare.  And that’s when he ran, two miles back toward the highway that he had just come from.  The dog was nowhere in sight, and it was late and he wanted to go home.  So, he walked back toward a creek.  It was about a mile from his home, but there was a lot of brush and it was hard to see, so he made a detour toward a trailer where his friends lived, right next door to their parents’ house.  There was still no sign of the dog, and he was going to go through the corral to get to the trailer where his friends lived.  He looked around, and was right about to go through the gate, when in the blink of an eye, there was the dog on the other side of the gate!  It was as if it was waiting for him.  It seemed nearly impossible!  It was clear that this was no ordinary animal.  There was a large post, about ten feet tall, six feet around, where they would tie the cows to milk them.  He climbed the post to safety, even though it was smooth and took some effort, and sat at the top.  Again, there was no sign of the dog.  When he thought it was safe, he climbed back down, went through the gate and toward the trailer.  He knocked, but his friends weren’t home.  Luckily, the door was usually unlocked.  But the dog was still lurking outside.  Joe was in the living room, in complete darkness, and the dog started to pound and scratch against the walls of the trailer.  “BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch…BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch…”  No matter where he went in the pitch-black trailer to find safety, it was right outside.  BANG-BANG-Scraaaaaaaatch…. 

The dog pounded hard, rhythmically, and clawed on the outside of whichever room he tried to seek refuge in.  Somehow, it knew which room Joe was in.  So, Joe began to pray.  Soon he heard another dog.  He was sure it was the family dog, a little collie they called Lassie.  He heard the two dogs fighting, and then he heard one of the dogs give a few final whimpers of defeat.  There was no doubt about it.  One of the dogs had been killed, and he was sure it was that little collie.  It didn’t stand a chance against the German Shepard.  After that, Joe passed out from fear and exhaustion.

The next morning, he went outside and his friend’s mother was tending to her garden.  She was shocked to see someone come out of the trailer since her sons were working with their dad at the cotton gin.  He told her what had happened, and she didn’t say a word.  There was no air conditioning in her house, and her window was open and had been all night.  She didn’t hear the dog fight, and here’s the kicker:  It was right near her open window.  There were no traces of the battle, and Joe was sure he would have found blood or even the ragged body of the collie, because it was a very vicious fight.  But then, Lassie trotted right by, as if everything was fine, and without a single scratch on her!  Interestingly enough, it was thought that some people on the property engaged in white magick.  Was this dog a normal dog?  A demon?  Or some sort of shapeshifter?

On a sidenote, someone who lived in the vicinity had problems with the radio and television coming on in the dead of night, all by itself.  There were other strange things, like disembodied voices speaking in Spanish in a little barn.  When they looked through the windows, they could see shadowy people, but when they opened the door, there was nobody there.  When walking the empty fields at night, people would hear someone walking next to them…in shackles!  They could hear the chains as clear as a bell, and when they would stop, the sounds would stop.  Most people refused to go out by themselves at night!  But those stories are on a whole ‘nother topic completely!

I can’t help think of the bazillions of possibilities that could explain any given one of these stories.  Myth.  Local legend.  Hoaxes.  Pranks.  Undiscovered or misidentified creatures.  Delusions.  Vivid imagination.  Or, could it be, that there are things out there that exist beyond our knowledge?  Something unexplainable?  Something terrifying?  Something evil.   

Ask yourself what you honestly believe.  In the daytime, it’s easy to identify such tales nothing more than campfire stories to give a thrill of frightful fun.  But when you close your eyes to drift off to Dreamland, or when you’re walking on a path dimly illumed by the moonlight, and suddenly you visualise a pair of glowing “orange” or “baleful slitted” eyes staring at you unblinking, you just may think a little differently.


The Haunted Hummel by Joslyn Corvis

My dad was always telling me about this music box that, every now and again, would go off all by itself.  It wasn’t a real Hummel, but an imitation that to the untrained eye looked quite similar to the real deal.  Yeah, right. Suuuuuuure, I thought to myself.  I knew of the music box.  It was one my mom had for years and years.  If it was going off all on its own, why didn’t I ever hear it?  Even in the middle of the night when I was sound asleep, why didn’t the thing ever wake me up?

One day he was talking about it, and curiosity got the better of me.  It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in this stuff.  We’ve had all sorts of weird and unexplainable things happen here.  For instance, one day as my parents were sitting at the kitchen table, a magnet flew from the fridge and landed right in front of them, and there’s no logic as to how the thing could have achieved such an angle and such a distance without any help.  And one time my brother (who would probably say he was making a sandwich at the time), along with my dad, saw me flash by them.  But it wasn’t me.  Anyway, I guess I just wondered why I had never experienced anything with the Hummel, and maybe I felt a bit left out.

While my dad was at work one day, I went to their room, picked up the music box, and I wound it up.  I wound it pretty good, but the gears inside (which you could see when you held the hinged lid up) didn’t move.  Okay, the stupid thing is broken.  The gears weren’t moving.  It must have been some other sound he was hearing.  I don’t know, maybe the Ice Cream Man was making his (or her) rounds in the middle of the night and he was hearing the music from the Ice Cream Truck.  Maybe it was some alarm on some new-fangled machine that we’d just gotten and neglected to read the instructions to.  Who knows?  But there was no possible way it coulda been the music box.

Now let’s fast-forward.  It’s a few days later, maybe two or three, and my dad’s at work.  I’m in my room.  I hear a happy little song.  It was like little chimes going off in a melodic tune.  “Hmmm,” thought I, wondering where it was coming from.  Now, I would have thought it was a cell phone, but at that time, my mom’s cell had a ring like a regular phone.  It is significant to point such things out today because the first question asked by our modern youth would be, “Could it have been  your cell?”  I didn’t even have a cell phone at that time.  Oh, and by the way, I’ve noticed the majority of teens and pre-teens have cell phones, but it wasn’t like that then.  I didn’t have one, but the majority of my peers were still using landlines like I was, so it wasn’t unusual.

Back to the story.  Suddenly, I thought of that music box!I took off like a bolt of lightning to my parents’ room which was just across the hall, but I didn’t want to miss out!  I still heard the music playing.  I stared at the music box, which was playing at a normal speed.  I picked it up and held it in my palm, careful not to jostle it too much.  I sloooowwwwwly lifted the lid so I could watch the gears.  And as I lifted the lid, the music slowed, chimed the last few notes, and stopped before I could even get a glimpse of the gears to see if they were moving.

I figured that when I wound it up, maybe the gears didn’t move because the pin was down, holding them in place.  But if memory serves, I tried moving the pin and tried a few things before giving up on it the few days before.  However, maybe that’s the way this music box worked.  I don’t know.  There are lots of reasons the gears may not have budged.  And maybe, even though it took a couple of days, maybe there was some vibration that jiggled the table and in turn the music box, setting the gears in motion.  That, I can explain.  But for ever logical reason I come up with, I find myself asking more questions.The thing just didn’t seem to work at all, so how did it manage?  Why would it take so long for the box to go off on its own?  Why would it go off in the middle of the night if no one was messing with it the other times?  And the music box was just one weird thing that happened, so how could I ever explain all of the others?

While most instances with the Hummel were random and unprovoked, I think my interest in it may have sparked something.  Since I had been playing around with it, trying to see what made it tick so to speak, whatever entity that made it work knew just how to get my attention.


Basti, the Magick Cat (Forever Gothic sneak-peek)!

If you haven’t checked out the sample chapter of Forever Gothic: Witchery and Rivalry, you can check it out here:
http://www.redroom.com/blog/gothicgenie/sneak-peak-forever-gothic-witchery-and-rivalry-chapter-one-book-one

And if you’re interested in learning how Marnie, one of the main characters, got her name, well here’s the story!
http://www.redroom.com/blog/gothicgenie/marnie-deegan-character-extraordinaire

But for now, I’m going to focus on a complimentary character in the Forever Gothic series, which is currently unpublished.  This character is from the second book, Forever Gothic: Curse of the Diva Mummy!  His name is Basti, after Bast the cat-headed god of ancient Egypt.  You can click the thumbnail to get an up-close-and-personal view of what Basti may have looked like.  Or maybe you picture him fluffier.  Or chubbier.  But after I had written about Basti, I came across this cat statue and had to buy it!  And yep, I named him Basti. 

But before introducing him, I’d like to give a little background about where he came from.  In Forever Gothic: Curse of the Diva Mummy, Princess Ankhanahra, an ancient Egyptian mummy, comes back from the dead and is as beautiful as ever.  She was known for her jealousy and for her cruelty when she reigned as Princess.  And, much like the fashionable women in Hollywood who carry little chihauhuas in their purses, Ahnah (pronounced just as it looks, and don’t call her Anna!  She just might have something to say about that…) had a black cat named Basti whom she dressed in jewellery to match her own and who ruled beside her on her throne in ancient times.  In fact, Basti probably had his own little thrown to sit on.

Now fast-forward to modern times.  Lo and behold, some idiot awakens the mummy at the museum.  Marnie loves to wear lots of black eyeliner, much like Ahnah who still dresses like it’s 3000 BC, which makes Ahnah see Marnie as a rival to her beauty.  When Ahnah is not busy hanging out with the popular crowd or admiring herself in her new cheerleading uniform, she has but one goal: Destroy Marnie so that she will be the most beautiful girl in Morning View High.

And when Ahnah is awakened, Basti comes to life, too.  Now, not to give a spoiler, but we know that if there are going to be other Forever Gothic books, it’s safe to assume that this one probably has a happy ending (with lots of suspense in between)!  And Rhonda Drake, Marnie’s friend, ends up taking Basti in when all is said and done; after all, witches need a familiar, so why not adopt Basti to help her along in her magick?  After all, black cats are said to be good for that sort of thing.  (For those that aren’t *familiar* with the term “familiar”, a familiar is an animal that acts as a sort of assistant to a witch and can sometimes shapeshift into other animals, or possesses magickal powers.)

But Basti is no ordinary cat, which you may have guessed already.  After seeing some of the horrific things that the Princess is capable of and being forced to stay by her side and wear that ridiculous jewellery and used as a fashion accessory, he may have just had enough.  Not to mention the fact that he has been living in some sort of spiritual Afterlife before being brought back to modern times in his physical body, so he has a knowledge that is thousands of years old.  He’s a very wise soul, and people who meet him are always taken aback at how he seems to know what they’re saying.  And sometimes, it even looks as if his eyes are twinkling with understanding, or that he is actually smiling contentedly to himself.

Basti wasn’t with Marnie, Willis, and Rhonda from the beginning of book one (Forever Gothic: Witchery and Rivalry), but I think he makes a nice little compliment to the stories.  This cat doesn’t just catch mice; he helps the kids keep the streets monster-free!


Into the Darkness (short story) by Joslyn Corvis

It was a Sunday evening.  Jessie walked home from her best friend’s house, just as she did every Sunday.  It was still early, but as the seasons had changed, the sky grew dark earlier than it had over the summer.  She knew she shouldn’t have brought her backpack, but it was full of fun stuff that she and Abigail liked to do.  Arts, crafts, odds and ends.  Next time she would take a few things out so she wouldn’t have to lug all that extra weight around.

All of a sudden, Jessie heard something behind her.  She turned to look, but nothing was there.  She shrugged her shoulders and went along on her merry way.  But then, she heard it again.  This time she stopped, and started walking slowly.  The sound slowed to her own pace.  She kept walking, hoping to get home soon.  And then she came to a lamplight and curiosity overtook her.

She turned cautiously, squinting her eyes to see in the distance.  Nothing there.  And when she looked down, all that she saw was her own shadow which startled her at first.  Weird, she thought.  It looked really tall.  Then she laughed at her silliness when she realised that the noise was coming from the mass of keychains dangling on her backpack.  So, she continued to walk.

When Jessie came to the next street lamp, she felt something, maybe a rock, in her shoe.  She caught a glimpse of her shadow, which looked bigger than before.  The light can play funny tricks with shadows sometimes, she thoughtAs she knelt down with the weight of the backpack upon her, struggling to take off the shoe, she wasn’t paying attention to the shadow which had grown even more in size.

Suddenly, it peeled off the pavement in the shape of a huge person, red-yellow glowing eyes fixed upon her.  She wasn’t paying much attention to it as it rose up and swallowed her, because she knew that the light can play funny tricks with shadows.  The shadow-thing flattened back out on the sidewalk and merged into the other evening shadows, which Jessie was now a part of.