Waking Up Dead – Pre-Release Blog Tour Kickoff and Giveaway!

Hello, and welcome to the first stop on my pre-release teaser tour for the paranormal mystery Waking Up Dead, due out from Solstice Publishing and available via Amazon on October 8! Be sure to enter the giveaway for a chance to win one of four copies of Waking Up Dead or a $10 Amazon card–and follow the tour or come back here once a day for even more chances to win!

Enter to Win

Waking Up Dead

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

Be sure to add Waking Up Dead to your Goodreads bookshelves!
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Excerpt

When I died, I expected to go to heaven.

Okay. Maybe hell. It’s not like I was perfect or anything. But I was sort of hoping for heaven.

Instead, I went to Alabama.

Yeah. I know. It’s weird.

I died in Dallas, my hometown. I was killed, actually. Murdered. I’ll spare you the gruesome details. I don’t like to remember them myself. Some jerk with a knife–and probably a Bad-Mommy complex. Believe me, if I knew where he was, I’d go haunt his ass.

At any rate, by the time death came, I was ready for it–ready to stop hurting, ready to let go. I didn’t even fight it.

And then I woke up dead in Alabama. Talk about pissed off.

You know, even reincarnation would have been fine with me–I could have started over, clean slate and all that. Human, cow, bug. Whatever. But no. I ended up haunting someplace I’d never even been.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, right? Ghosts are supposed to be the tortured spirits of those who cannot let go of their earthly existence. If they could be convinced to follow the light, they’d leave behind said earthly existence and quit scaring the bejesus out of the poor folks who run across them. That’s what all those “ghost hunter” shows on television tell us.

Let me tell you something. The living don’t know jack about the dead.

Not this dead chick, anyway.

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About the Author

MargoBondCollins

Margo Bond Collins lives in Texas with her husband, their daughter, several spoiled cats, and a ridiculous turtle. She teaches college-level English courses online, though writing fiction is her first love. She enjoys reading urban fantasy and paranormal fiction of any genre and spends most of her free time daydreaming about vampires, ghosts, zombies, werewolves, and other monsters. Waking Up Dead is her first published novel. Her second novel, Legally Undead, is an urban fantasy, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press.

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Connect with Margo

Email: MargoBondCollins@gmail.com
Website
Twitter: @MargoBondCollin
Google+
Goodreads Author Page
Facebook Author Page
Facebook Novel Page
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Book Trailer

Cover Reveal~ Waking Up Dead, by Margo Bond Collins

Thanks to everyone for your overwhelmingly positive response to my cover reveal contest–you helped me meet a week’s worth of social media goals in under 24 hours; you’re the best! So as promised, the cover is below. Don’t forget, though, that there’s still a drawing for a free copy of the book for one of the first five hundred people to “like” my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

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Waking Up Dead

When Dallas resident Callie Taylor died young, she expected to go to Heaven, or maybe Hell. Instead, she met her fate early thanks to a creep with a knife and a mommy complex. Now she’s witnessed another murder, and she’s not about to let this one go. She’s determined to help solve it before an innocent man goes to prison. And to answer the biggest question of all: why the hell did she wake up in Alabama?

A new paranormal mystery, coming soon from Solstice Publishing

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There’s more exciting news about Waking Up Dead coming soon–watch this spot!

In the meantime, don’t forget to come check out my Facebook Author page and hit “like” while you’re there: https://www.facebook.com/MargoBondCollins

You can also find me on these other social media sites:
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/vampirarchy
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mbondcollins/
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MargoBondCollin
Tumblr: http://vampirarchybooks.tumblr.com/

Cheers~
Margo Bond Collins

(And in case you missed it earlier, check out the trailer, below!)

Waking Up Dead by Margo Bond Collins

Book Trailer #1

Guest Author: Marie Lavender

Are Your Characters Fleshy?

This may come as a shocker, but a lot of beginning writers don’t know how to make good characters. And I’m sure some tenured authors make the same mistake occasionally. It’s not enough to say, “Hey, Mr. Character, you have dark hair and blue eyes. Now start talking.” Dialogue is one aspect of a character. So is appearance. But, what is inside is what counts. What is inside of a character is what makes us keep reading.

Take the time to fill out the finer details of a character. For example, what do they like to eat for breakfast? Maybe they don’t eat breakfast. Some people don’t. What is their religious affiliation? Where did they go to school? What kind of home life did that person have? Notice I said “person”.

People are complicated. We are complicated. If we were all pretty typical, would life be any fun? Probably not. Not everyone is easy to get along with, but sometimes getting into the heart of a person and learning more about them is rewarding. So do the same with your characters.

Most likely, if you’re any kind of fiction writer, you will have a plan for your story or book. You’ll have the plot mapped out. That is great! But, have you mapped out your character? Characters are not just plastic dolls. They should be so real you can practically touch them. Do you sketch? Sketch them if you have to. But, make notes of who that character is. What really makes them tick? Most importantly, what does he want out of life? And how does he plan to get it? What “secrets” do you know about your character that the reader may or may not know on the page? Trust me. All of these things will help you understand your character better.

In the writing of the sequel to my current release, I was arrogant. Okay, not arrogant. I was under the impression that I knew everything I could about the hero and heroine because I wrote a bunch of scenes. But, then, I thought, “Hold on. Why does so-and-so act that way? What makes her who she is?” So, I unearthed this worksheet full of character questions to help me identity not only the aspects of the heroine I already knew, but the stuff that I hadn’t thought of as well. Well, did that end up helping? Did it “flesh” her out? You bet. I finally knew why she had carried out certain actions. She made sense to me as a character. I wouldn’t have known she wasn’t three dimensional unless I had done that.

I also did the same for the hero, and I found out some interesting quirks. I also discovered he was completely human, not otherworldly like we want heroes to be. I think that makes a good character.

So, do what you can to find out everything you can about your characters. Make them flesh and bone, not plastic. Make them as real as possible with eccentricities and flaws and “secrets”, just like normal people. Make them…well, human. As human as you possibly can. You will look at that finished product and believe in it so much more.

~Marie Lavender

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About the Author
Marie Lavender’s most recent release is Upon Your Return.

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She lives in the Midwest with her family and three cats. She has been writing for over twenty years. She has more works in progress than she can count on two hands.

At the tender age of nine, she began writing stories. Her imagination fueled a lot of her early child’s play. Even growing up, she entered writing contests and received a certificate for achieving the second round in one. She majored in Creative Writing in college because that was all she ever wanted – to be a writer. While there, she published two works in a university publication, and was a copy editor on the staff of an online student journal. After graduating from college, she sought out her dream to publish a book.

Since then, Marie has published sixteen books. Marie Lavender’s real love is writing romances, but she has also written mysteries, literary fiction and dabbled a little in paranormal stories. Most of her works have a romantic element involved in them. Upon Your Return is her first historical romance novel. Feel free to visit her website at http://marielavender.webs.com/ for further information about her books and her life. Marie is also on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

A list of her books and pen names includes:
Marie Lavender: Upon Your Return
Erica Sutherhome: Hard to Get; Memories; A Hint of Scandal; Without You; Strange Heat; Terror in the Night; Haunted; Pursuit; Perfect Game; A Touch of Dawn; Ransom
Kathryn Layne: A Misplaced Life
Heather Crouse: Express Café and Other Ramblings; Ramblings, Musings and Other Things; Soulful Ramblings and Other Worldly Things

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http://www.marielavender.webs.com/
http://marielavenderbooks.blogspot.com/
http://marielavender.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/MarieAnnLavender
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Upon-Your-Return/221212331354873
https://twitter.com/marielavender1
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6938764.Marie_Lavender
http://www.amazon.com/Marie-Lavender/e/B00C10Q94I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1
http://store.solsticepublishing.com/upon-your-return/
https://www.createspace.com/4284739

Just Write: My Writing Process

My Writing Process

Recently, a friend in an email group asked this question:

For those of you who do a lot of writing, how do you do it? Do you have a set time that you write? When and for how long? Do you edit as you go or do you try to get as much as you can on the page in the first pass? How do you deal with writer’s block? What kind of physical environment do you create for yourself?

Here’s my response:

I don’t have a set time that I write, but I try to write every day. My writing process generally depends on what I’m writing. Academic articles and fiction are a little different.

For academic writing–which lately has been mostly about pop culture, especially television–I re-watch or re-read whatever it is that I’m going to be discussing and I take notes. My notes tend to be quotes from the work and any ideas I have about my topic. For example, I’m currently writing an article on the character of Carol in The Walking Dead (the television version, not the comics, though I love those, too). To prepare to put this article together, I started by finding transcriptions online and copying every scene with lines from Carol. Then I went back through all of the episodes and watched the scenes, making notes about what I saw and wanted to see—I put the quotes and my notes about the scenes all into one file.

I’ve also been reading articles and books about The Walking Dead and taking notes from those. My third step was to collate all of those notes (again, quotes and my thoughts) into a file. I generally keep my primary source notes and my secondary source notes in separate Word files. Then I started a third file with the draft of the essay. I generally don’t do anything like a formal outline, but I will sometimes sketch out the sections I want to include. Then I write until I get to a place where I need some of the material I’ve got in the other files. I cut and paste that information in, then discuss it. If I get stuck, I will sometimes go to the primary or secondary files and rearrange them to fit into my discussion; sometimes I copy and paste information into the article file as placeholders. Whenever I need to go back and fill something in, I use brackets so I can run searches to find the spots later; in this week’s article, I have a note that says [explain Carol’s prayer], for example. Sometimes I also do that when I have a lot of ideas coming quickly so that I can get all the basic ideas down on paper, so I’ll have a string of bracketed comments that I need to go back and flesh out.

At that point, finishing the first draft is a matter of filling in the information I want to include. I do some editing as I go, simply because the English teacher in me won’t allow me to leave grammar or punctuation mistakes or typos if I see them. Sometimes I rewrite a sentence several times; other times, I will simply bracket a problematic sentence and come back to it.

Once I’ve filled in all the bracketed material, I proofread the essay twice—once on my computer and once on a printout. I’ve recently started sending documents to my Kindle app on my phone, too; I can generally catch some issues that way, too. My husband often proofreads for me, too. And by then, I’m often sick of the essay and just send it off, hoping my editors won’t let me sound ridiculous!

Some of these elements are similar for fiction writing. I still use brackets to help me remember (and be able to easily find) sections that need explaining. I still proofread the same way. And I still do some editing as I write. And just as I tend to think in “sections” of academic writing, I tend to think in “scenes” in fiction writing. Thinking in scenes means that I often write scenes out of order. When that happens, I use a separate file from the primary one and shuffle the scenes around as necessary.

The primary difference, though, is that I don’t always know where my fiction is going. With academic essays, I have a thesis that I’m working to prove. Although I might tweak the thesis as I write, I rarely change it completely. In fiction, though, my characters will sometimes do something that I had not planned for. I usually have a general idea of the trajectory of the plot. But in Waking Up Dead, for example, I had no idea why the killer had committed murder until I was more than halfway finished with the first draft. I know the basics of my next novel, but I’m not sure where the heroine will end up; this is not an uncommon position for me, and part of the joy of writing fiction is finding out what her full story might be.

I have an office that I use for all my work: academic writing, fiction writing, editing, and online teaching. My desk is against a window so I can see outside. I’m surrounded by books and papers. I write directly on my laptop, but when I get stuck, I sometimes switch to handwriting; this seems to shift my brain onto a different track and helps me get over writer’s block. I write something every day, whether it’s academic writing, fiction, or my blog.

But the single biggest thing that I do to write? It’s narrating. I have an internal monologue—and sometimes dialogue—going on all the time. I think in words; when I have a mental picture, I practice translating it into words in my mind. I tell myself stories and I work out plot lines and I figure out arguments to make about literature. I think about the words to use to explain writing to my classes and I practice describing my surroundings. I think in my characters’ voices and in my own voice. When I get blocked, I go for a walk and let my characters take over for a while until I have another scene.

What I’ve learned in all my years of teaching writing is that writing is a deeply personal process; everyone has different writing rituals, and those rituals can change over time. I used to have to have a clean space in which to write. Now I just need a place to put my laptop (having a three-year-old child might have influenced that change). I used to have to set rules for myself: writing two hours a day, not going out to the pool in the summer until I had written three pages, and so on. I still use those when I’m stuck or resenting the need to write, but these days, the only rule I have for myself is this: Just write.

~Margo Bond Collins
Author of Waking Up Dead and Legally Undead

Guest Author: Lizzy Stevens, “Rachel’s Legacy”

Please welcome Lizzy Stevens, author of the contemporary romance novel Rachel’s Legacy. See below for more information about this book, as well as a special sneak preview!

Enjoy!
~Margo Bond Collins

Rachel’s Legacy

An Amazon Best Seller!

#35 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Anthologies

Rachel Connors loves her life and her job as a manager at a ski resort in Aspen Colorado, but after learning she is ill, she takes a long-needed vacation to visit her parents at their ranch in Tennessee. There, she meets ranch-hand Kyle Landers.

Before he even meets her, Kyle, unable to understand why the Connors’ ungrateful daughter has chosen to distance herself from them, decides not to like her. He had been alone in the world when Rachel’s parents took him in, and he couldn’t bear to see them hurt.

Nonetheless, Rachel and Kyle feel an undeniable attraction. But everything changes when Rachel is summoned back to Aspen to hear a terrifying diagnosis. Kyle follows her, but their blossoming love is cut short when their plane crashes and Kyle is presumed dead. When he awakes from a coma four years later, Rachel has moved on with a new love, Marcus.

Who will Rachel choose? Is Kyle’s love enough to bring her back to him? Will the same fate that brought them together now keep them apart?

Available on Amazon here:

Watch the book trailer:

Rachel’s Legacy Preview

cover Rachel's Legacy

The snow was coming down hard, quickly blanketing the ground as it fell. Rachel Connors sat on her window sill, watching it fall. The tears rolled down her face, as the thought of going back home haunted her. She hadn’t seen her parents in five years, and wasn’t completely positive she was making the right decision in going back now. She needed to be near family now more than ever. Rachel decided to keep her medical problems to herself. There was no sense in making her parents worry about her. She would tell them nothing.

The sound of the cab’s horn jarred her out of her thoughts. She wiped the tears away and grabbed her bags. She would be staying with her parents until after the holidays. The doctors didn’t need to see her until the new year. How am I supposed to forget everything and enjoy a vacation at a time like this? Rachel sat in the back seat of the cab as it headed to the airport. It would be a long plane ride from Colorado to her parents’ ranch in Tennessee, an hour and a half outside of Nashville. It was always beautiful there. They always teased her growing up about being a singer, but she never had any interest in singing. She always wanted to be a talent agent. She wanted to be the one who found the talent, which was exactly what she did. She was very successful at it, until she received a job offer to manage a friend’s ski resort in Aspen. It was a great escape from the harsh realities of the past, and she grew to love her new life.

Rachel took a long nap on the plane. She had been under a lot of stress lately. It seemed like only minutes after her head hit the pillow that she heard the flight attendant say they were landing. She looked around and saw that they were coming onto the runway. She rubbed her eyes and stretched her arms before standing up.

Kyle Landers waited for her in the terminal, holding up a sign for a woman he had never met. How do I get myself into situations like this? he thought as he started to pace back and forth. He couldn’t tell Sue and Tom that he wouldn’t go pick up their daughter for them even though he knew he wouldn’t like her. He couldn’t understand how she could stay gone as many years as she did knowing her parent’s missed her. Kyle would do anything for Sue and Tom. They took him in four years ago when he didn’t have anywhere else to go. He had no family and them gave him a job on the ranch. He looked back and forth for Rachel. He had seen many pictures of her over the years. Kyle decided he didn’t want to give some stuck up, too good to come home to her family, uptight woman a ride. He dropped the sign into the trash can and walked out. He would tell Sue and Tom the flight must have been delayed. He felt a little bad lying to them, but he knew that their daughter could use a good lesson on how you treat people.

As she entered the terminal, Rachael looked for her ride. Her parents told her a man named Kyle would be picking her up. Not seeing him, she thought he might be outside, or in the luggage area. As she left, she saw a large cardboard sign lying in the trash can with her name on it. Where was he? Why didn’t he wait? The plane was right on time.

She collected her luggage and walked out of the building, hopeful of catching a cab. Rachel walked up and down on the sidewalk trying to hail someone, with no luck. All the cabs were busy and she wanted to go home. She grabbed her bag and started to walk. Surely somebody would give her a ride within an hour and a half’s distance, she thought. As she looked around for prospects, she saw a young man getting ready to get into his truck. “Excuse me, sir. My name is Rachel Connors. Can you please give me a ride to my family’s ranch? I’ll pay for the gas and if you can’t take me all the way there, I would be happy with anywhere close. My ride didn’t show up to pick me up and I can’t seem to get a cab.”

Kyle shot her a look that let her know he wasn’t in the mood to talk. He couldn’t believe his luck. Of all the people wanting a ride it had to be the one person he wanted to leave at the airport. “Let’s go. I have a lot of work to get done back at the ranch.”

Rachel didn’t know what to think. “Okay,” she said, as she glanced down at the ground.

She jumped up into his truck, not saying a word. Rachel felt a little uncomfortable with him. Once she buckled in, she looked over at him. “Excuse me, but you haven’t even told me your name.”

“Kyle. My name’s Kyle,” he said as he continued to drive.

“Have I done something to offend you? I don’t even know you, but you seem to dislike me for some reason,” she said, as she played with her hands nervously. “Wait a minute. Are you Kyle Landers? The same Kyle Landers that works for my father? Why were you going to leave me here at the airport? I wasn’t late.”

Words, Words, Words

Blog Posts: Words, Words, Words

I’ve always been especially fond of the moment in Shakespeare’s Hamlet when Polonius asks Hamlet what he’s reading and Hamlet replies “Words, words, words” (II.ii.192). The line comes while Polonius is trying to discover the cause of Hamlet’s possibly-feigned madness and it can be played in a number of ways. In Kenneth Branagh’s rendition, the line serves to show Hamlet’s disdain for Polonius:

David Tennant uses the scene to emphasize Hamlet’s potential insanity:

Lawrence Olivier’s version is matter-of-fact, and Derek Jacobi flips through the pages as if checking to make sure there is nothing more in the book:

But I’ve always been particularly fond of Mel Gibson’s rendition (available at the end of the clip above), because it inevitably makes me laugh.

With so many version of “words, words, words,” it’s perhaps unsurprising that I would choose the line as the title of my blog. I’ve been in love with words for as long as I can remember. As a child, then a college English major, a technical writer, a graduate student, a college English professor, an academic writer, and now a soon-to-be published fiction writer (Waking Up Dead, forthcoming from Solstice Publishing, and Legally Undead, forthcoming in 2014 from World Weaver Press), I have always loved the malleability of words—how they feel, sound, taste, smell.

This blog is designed to examine words in all their manifestations. I will write about writing, post academic essays, host other authors, review books, share fiction excerpts. My hope is that, like the many versions of Hamlet’s line, this blog will careen wildly from matter-of-fact, to serious, to unexpectedly funny.

Welcome to Words, Words, Words. Enjoy!

~Margo Bond Collins