Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Adios to 2013, muchas gracias to all of you

The year had its ups and downs, but when it came to being an independent author, it was fantastic. I'd like to thank all my readers and reviewers, and all my fans, friends, and followers. You make it all worthwhile.

Here's to a happy 2014!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: The Hobbit - The Desolation of Smaug

Can an awesome dragon save a misfired movie? Find out in my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug over at Horrorview.

Adding another book to my favorite reads of 2013

One last entry into the list of books I've most enjoyed in 2013, and that's Stephen King's Doctor Sleep.

This was a pleasant surprise, as I was very skeptical of a sequel to one of my favorite books. But I heard good things about it from my buddies A.J. and Matt, and asked for it for Christmas (and got it - thanks, Mom!).

A full review for Horrorview is forthcoming, but it's an entertaining and creepy read. It's not pure horror like The Shining was, but along with the creepy stuff is a good exploration of how the past defines us and how we can break the chains (a favorite theme of mine).

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kelly's Big Score: I'm All Out of Candy Canes Edition

Between presents and gift cards, I have now acquired the following books:

Doctor Sleep - Stephen King

Feet of Clay - Terry Pratchett

Deadly Heat - Richard Castle

A Lady by Midnight - Tessa Dare

Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian

Monday, December 23, 2013

Today's mood

Reading in 2013 - the year in retrospect

It was a very odd year for me in terms of reading. Regular readers will have noticed that I stopped doing monthly updates of what I was reading a few months ago. The truth is that it's been a busy year, with a lot going on (mostly positive but some negative). Not only have I not been keeping good track of what I read, but a lot of new books I've read this year haven't held my attention, and I've fallen back on re-reads and looking through cookbooks.

But there were some excellent books I read this year, so seeing as it's nearly year-end, here are the books I most enjoyed reading in 2013:

Clockwork Twist (Waking) - Emily Thompson: First in a steampunk series. Very imaginative and enjoyable.

Gone Girl - Gillian Flynn: Watch the train wreck of a sociopathic couple at odds with each other.

I, The Jury - Mickey Spillane: Hard-boiled and politically incorrect, and loads of fun.

NOS4A2 - Joe Hill: Fantastic tale of the supernatural, and surprisingly moving.

The Best of Roald Dahl: Wicked and witty.

Bones of the Moon - Jonathan Carroll: A very interesting twist on the fantasy genre. Will definitely be on the lookout for more by this author.

Cold Light - Jenn Ashworth: Creepy, chilling tale of adolescent friendship gone wrong.

Honorable Mentions for Brain Candy Books: If you need escapism you could do worse than to read What Happens at Christmas by Victoria Alexander (fun romance novel set at Christmas in 19th century) and Frozen Heat by Richard Castle (nice to see the Castle tie-ins turning into real novels).

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friday, December 13, 2013

Review of Reckoning (Ashes #2) at The Reading Cafe!

The Reading Cafe has a very positive review of Reckoning (Ashes #2) up - find out what the reviewer thought of the book, and of the series as a whole.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Kelly's Big Score: O Tannenbaum Edition

Made our annual Christmas trip to Solvang this past weekend, and of course I had to visit my favorite indie bookstore, The Book Loft. I came home with:

  • The Unfaithful Queen - Carolly Erickson
  • San Miguel - TC Boyle
  • A Dark Dividing - Sarah Rayne

Looks like some good reading ahead!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Annual Thanksgiving pictures!

It's that time of year again! Here are pictures of my turkey and the rest of the Thanksgiving feast!

Yum! Now I have to start prepping for the Christmas feast!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Four-star review of Reckoning!

The first blog review of Reckoning (Ashes #2) is over at Ciska's Book Chest, where it gets four stars. Read the review and find out more!

Today's mood: Thanksgiving edition

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go bake some more pie.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Goodreads giveaway of Ashes and Reckoning - just one week left!

Want to win TWO free, autographed books? If you're a Goodreads member, just enter my giveaway for a chance to win signed copies of the Ashes series.

Just one week left to enter!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Thoughts on NaNoWriMo and Thanksgiving

It's November, which means it's time for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). Which also means it's time for me to feel vaguely guilty for not participating in NaNoWriMo.

Because I think NaNoWriMo is a great idea. I'm all for giving writers the incentive to push hard and fast and finish a story, whether that story's been stuck at chapter four, or at the outline stage, or is still just floating around in the writer's head. I've been there: I spent years working on a very early (and very terrible) version of my debut novel - and for much of that time I just tinkered with the same dozen-or-so scenes, over and over again. At some point - shortly before a milestone birthday, I won't say which one - I realized this was never going to get the book actually written and completed.

That's where the beauty of NaNoWriMo lies - it provides that motivation to get out of bad writing habits and eliminate distractions so that you get the bulk of a first draft down. Notice I didn't say that you finish your novel. NaNoWriMo just gets you through the first draft (and if you're writing a long novel, you may have more to write. You still need to stash the book in a drawer for a while, read it through with fresh eyes, edit, edit some more, edit yet again, give it to beta readers, gather their feedback, implement their feedback, edit again, and give it to someone to copyedit and proofread. Maybe we can make January the National Novel Editing Month?

I'll be honest, though, the main reason I don't participate in NaNoWriMo is because of the "No" part. November's a busy month for me because of Thanksgiving. I particularly look forward to Thanksgiving because I enjoy the cooler weather and the opportunity to cook for a lot of people. I've had some people think I'm nuts because I like to prepare the entire feast, but to me it's comforting.

  • I usually have the feast on the day after Thanksgiving. My guests are all friends, as my family is too far away, and this gives them the chance to spend the day itself with their own families, and then come over to my house for Thanksgiving 2: Turkey Boogaloo.
  • Having the feast on Friday also gives me an extra day to prep. I can spend Thanksgiving day itself making pie and cornbread and other make-aheads at my leisure. 
  • While I do prepare the whole meal, I don't make everything from scratch. I get frozen pie crust for my pumpkin pies; I order an apple pie for my blaspheming friends who do not like pumpkin pie; I buy bread rolls at the store; I use Williams-Sonoma turkey gravy base for the gravy. 
  • Similarly, I use the cranberry sauce out of the can. I am not a huge fan of cranberry sauce, so I asked the friends who do like it whether I should track down a fun recipe for it. To a man they all said the stuff from the can was fine with them. I extricate it from the can so that it's in the perfect shape of the can, and then put it in my fanciest crystal dish - it sits there on the table looking ridiculous and amusing the guests until dinner time.
  • My turkey is simple but delicious. I just rub it with a thyme-and-rosemary butter rub and chuck some herbs and onion into the bottom of the pan. I've tried brining and some other fancy tricks, but the herb butter rub gets me the best results.
  • Now that I've made a number of Thanksgiving feasts, they're not that daunting. There are two main challenges that always exist. 
    • Getting all the side dishes ready and turkey carved at the same time. Thanksgiving is a flurry of prep at the beginning and a whirlwind of prep at the end. In between those prep times is a long period of loitering in the kitchen, nibbling on things, and having some wine. 
    • Which leads us to challenge 2 - having just enough wine to make the loitering and basting enjoyable (not to mention taking one's mind off one's aching feet) but not enough so that you forget a side dish or two (a scenario that's happened to at least one person I know). It helps with the second challenge to pace yourself with a good wine that you'll feel guilty about gulping, and save the silly sweet stuff you got at off an end cap at the Trader Joe's for after dinner, when even the teetotalers are drunk on food anyway and no one will notice that you are pixillated.
  • There is always room for pie. Anyone who says otherwise is lying.

Feel free to leave me a comment about how you like to spend your Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Ashes selected as today's Indie Book of the Day!

Ashes (Ashes #1) was selected to be today's Indie Book of the Day.

Learn more about Indie Book of the Day and their award-winning books.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Ten random facts about me

Will have this on Facebook as well, but here it is for the blog readers and followers.

  1. I am a cockroach-phobe, so much so that it took me 20 years to finally watch the "They're Creeping Up On You" segment in the movie Creepshow.
  2. I have eaten alligator, snails, squirrel, frog legs, rattlesnake, and a fried shrimp head (not all in the same meal).
  3. The first writer I ever met was Leonard Wibberley, author of The Mouse That Roared, among other works. His wife was the principal of my elementary school. I was 8 years old so details are fuzzy, but I remember him looking a good deal like Papa Hemingway, and I remember being amazed at actually meeting a real writer. 
  4. My favorite time of year is Christmas.
  5. I prefer dark chocolate to milk chocolate. Don't even bring up white chocolate; to me it tastes like wax.
  6. When I need to recharge, I go to the beach. Any type of beach, any season. As long as I'm near the ocean, I'm good. In my fiction you'll notice a lot of character moments at beaches.
  7. I'm a latecomer to book series. Didn't read Harry Potter or A Song of Ice and Fire until their fourth books were published. Didn't read the Hunger Games books until long after Mockingjay was published.
  8. I sort of miss the days when The Wizard of Oz showing on TV was a once-a-year special event.
  9. Speaking of The Wizard of Oz, it wasn't until embarrassingly recently that I figured out how they did the Horse of a Different Color trick. Yes, I'm slow.
  10. The last book to provoke an audible non-laughter response from me was Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing (when you find out how the old blind man became blind). 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Today's mood

This isn't related to my writing. It's because I just realized I'll be cooking Thanksgiving dinner for a crowd of 16 people, possibly a few more.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Slightly belated report from Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013

This past Saturday I went to Stan Lee's Comikaze 2013, a newcomer to the con scene (this is only its third year).

Going to this con was something of an impulse decision, as I didn't know what it would be like. But frankly, it was going to be such a long time til 2014 San Diego Comic-Con (and who knows if I'll even be able to get passes this year) I figured I had nothing to lose. I'm happy I did, because I had quite an enjoyable time.

Got to the L.A. Convention Center an hour before opening, expecting lines and a mass of humanity. It was so empty that I got parking on the first floor of the structure and waltzed right up to registration with no line. Quite a difference from SDCC! I loitered in line until 9, and then they let us out onto the vendor floor. There was a good array of vendors, including quite a few Steampunk vendors. I ended up buying the novel Queen Mab by Kate Danley (who is a lovely person and signed it for me). I also bought some goodies for my boys, who couldn't make it that day, and some more buttons for my fangirl jacket.

Probably the highlight of the day was the cosplayers. Lots of them, and because Comikaze is so new, the floor wasn't crammed with people the way it is at SDCC so there was room for the cosplayers to strut their stuff and be photographed.

Here are some of my favorite cosplayers from the day:

A Gizmonic Institute employee with Tom Servo 

Black Swan ballerina 

The Toxic Avenger! 

Daenerys Targaryen with one of her dragons 

Captain Hammer's here, hair blowing in the breeze! 

A stormtrooper looking for some droids

Of course, it wouldn't be a con without some signings, and the one I had my eye on was the ever-awesome Bruce Campbell. The line for Bruce's signing was huge, but I got in it early (I was smart and brought lunch with me into line) and I was able to get my copy of If Chins Could Kill signed. And he called me "darlin'." I'm a very happy fangirl.

Bruce Campbell, being groovy 

There were panels as well. Unfortunately I missed a few I would have liked because of being in line for Bruce, but I did manage to catch the Troma panel, which was enjoyable even though I think their movies are more fun to hear about than actually watch. I also caught the Thrilling Adventure Hour panel, which was amusing and made me want to seek out some podcasts and get to know more about this show.

The Troma films panel, including an actor from The Toxic Avenger. The guy with the mustache fourth from the left is Ron Jeremy.

The Thrilling Adventure Hour panel guests. Yes, Castle fans, that's Molly Quinn over on the left.

All in all, a very enjoyable day. The con still has a few details to iron out. More maps and directions for the panels would be good, as there was some confusion about where the panels were. The food and beverage stands seemed pretty overtaxed (the Starbucks ran out of milk!). And there needs to be more seating (no way my husband could have handled the entire day, so it's just as well he couldn't make it). But I think it's a great con so far and provided they keep their attendance capped and don't stuff the venue over capacity (I'm looking at you, SDCC) I see no reason I won't keep coming to the con in years to come. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Giveaway at Goodreads!

Calling all Goodreads members. I'm hosting a giveaway of both books in my suspense series. Enter for a chance to win signed copies of Ashes and Reckoning. Giveaway ends December 4th!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Reckoning by Kelly Cozy


by Kelly Cozy

Giveaway ends December 04, 2013.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Reckoning (Ashes #2) is now available

Good news! Reckoning, the second volume in my two-book suspense series, is now available for purchase on Amazon in ebook and print editions!

It is also available for non-Kindle formats at Smashwords; I'll update the Reckoning page as soon as the book is up on the Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and iBook sites (this should happen in the next few weeks).

I hope you enjoy this book! I think you will - in terms of its plot, it's quite a ride! And its female lead character, Deirdre, is probably my favorite female character in all my books.

If you read it, be sure to stop by and let me know what you think!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Today's mood

Because Saturday I'll be at Stan Lee's Comikaze con!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Ashes to be featured at The Fussy Librarian

Ashes  is being featured Friday at The Fussy Librarian, a new website that offers personalized ebook recommendations. You choose from 30 genres and indicate preferences about content and then the computers work their magic. Find out more at www.TheFussyLibrarian.com

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

13 for Halloween

It's usually a surprise to friends and acquaintances to learn that, despite my love for the horror genre, I'm not a fan of Halloween. Mostly it's kind of an inconvenience, having to remember to buy candy which I don't want in the house anyway because of the temptation. Also, I am no good at all when it comes to coming up with costume ideas. Happily enough, these days my kid is perfectly happy to wear a store-bought costume, and my employer isn't interested in company Halloween parties.

But as I do have a great love for the horror genre, I should do what everyone else on ye olde internet is doing, and post some suggested scary entertainment. Following are 13 completely random stories and movies that have given me the chills over the years (ask me a week from now and you'll likely get a different list - like I said, it's random).

  1. "The October Game" by Ray Bradbury (short story) For Bradbury, October is usually a wondrous time, though not without its dangers. In this story, he turns his usual celebration of October on its head, as the season drives a man trapped in a loveless marriage and family to extreme measures. It's a great little tale whose horrors are deftly (and mercifully) understated.
  2. The Thing, directed by John Carpenter (movie) Carpenter's made so many movies that are fit for this time of year (including, of course, Halloween). But The Thing is not just a good scary movie, it's a good movie. There's genuine menace in every frame, from the isolation that takes its toll on the characters, the unforgiving Antarctic climate, and the alien that can masquerade as any living creature. 
  3. Under the Skin by Michel Faber (novel) Faber became well-known for his fantastic Victorian novel The Crimson Petal and the White, but his debut novel is well worth seeking out. On the lonely highways of Scotland a woman named Isserley prowls, on the lookout for strapping young men. We learn early on that her interest in the men isn't sexual, nor is it murderous (strictly speaking), but something much more disturbing. This is one that will stay with you for a while.
  4. "It's a Good Life" episode of The Twilight Zone  Adapted from Jerome Bixby's short story, "It's a Good Life" shows us a small town in the midwest that's isolated and completely under the control of an all-powerful being - who happens to be a young boy. It doesn't seem that scary at the outset, but think about unlimited power to bend reality and command life and death combined with a child's amorality and deadly sense of whimsy.
  5. Audition, directed by Takashi Miike (movie)  The best horror is often that which lulls you into a false sense of security. Think of Janet Leigh in Psycho, making the decision to return to her old life with the stolen money and then...  A similar thing happens in Audition, when a lonely, likable widower finds that the new love in his life is a bit unhinged. The audience learns this a bit before the character does, so much of the horror comes from knowing things are destined to end in a bad way.
  6. Suspiria, directed by Dario Argento (movie)  A fever dream in vivid Technicolor, Suspiria lacks much in the way of plot, but makes up for it with stunning atmosphere and the dread that comes from never knowing what's around the next corner (for both the movie's story and the freaky dance academy where the movie takes place). Think of Jessica Harper's ballerina as a heroine out of a fairy tale, up against some monstrous witches.
  7. Pet Sematary by Stephen King (novel)  I probably shouldn't include this one, for while it's arguably King's scariest novel, the horrors are a bit too close to home, particularly if you're a parent. Confronted with the worst when his child dies, a young doctor decides to play God and resurrect his child. Possibly the scariest part of this book is how its inevitable tragedy results from sorrow and good intentions rather than malice.
  8. "The Monkey Treatment" by George R. R. Martin (short story)  A comical horror tale that's yes, by the author of A Song of Ice and Fire. A chronic over-eater wants to lose weight but hates to give up food stumbles upon what seems like a foolproof method called the Monkey Treatment. No spoilers, but it's a nifty take on humor, horror, and pizza.
  9. The Changeling, directed by Peter Medak (movie) It's a trope I've often noticed in horror that there's nothing like some recent bereavement to put one in touch with the supernatural. That's what composer George C. Scott discovers when, several months after the death of his wife and daughter in a freak road accident, he moves into a gorgeous old house and soon makes contact with a ghost that lives there. It's a quiet film, full of creepy touches (anyone else notice that the ball is wet when the ghost tosses it back to Scott, after Scott has thrown the ball into the river?), creepy atmosphere, and a nicely restrained performance by Scott.
  10. "I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream" by Harlan Ellison (short story)  Aside from having one of the best titles in the history of fiction, Ellison's story of a murderous computer and the humans it tortures with every fate imaginable - save for death - also has one of the most horrifying endings ever.
  11. "The Cask of Amontillado" by Edgar Allan Poe (short story)  The horrors of this story are more subtle than those in much of Poe's work. It's only afterward that you realize the protagonist condemned poor Fortunato to an appalling death just because Fortunato had insulted him once too often. Yikes.
  12. Witchfinder General, directed by Michael Reeves (movie)  The uneasiest horrors are those rooted in reality. This film finds a restrained, coldly malevolent Vincent Price as real-life witchfinder Matthew Hopkins, who roams the English countryside condemning innocent people as witches; in exchange he gets power, glory, money from bribes, and isn't above extorting young women for sex to protect their relatives from witchcraft charges. Also known as The Conqueror Worm (a title given to make it appear as one of the Poe adaptations popular at the time).
  13. The Getaway by Jim Thompson (novel)  It's not horror per se until its final chapter, though many horrific things happen along the way, from a person who's suffered so many grievous physical injuries in his youth that his chest bones have fused into a bulletproof shell to having to spend several days hiding out from police in a manure pile. But its final chapter is grimly poetic in its depiction of a place that seems to be heaven for its fugitives from justice, but is really hell.
There you have it! Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Looking for something to read? The Fussy Librarian can help!

Good news - you can get your very own librarian, for free. It’s true! Choose from 30 genres, select content preferences and she’ll send you daily ebook recommendations. It's better than a bookmobile. Just visit The Fussy Librarian

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Two of my favorite things!

I'm an advice column junkie, so imagine my delight when I learned that Book Riot now has a book-related advice column, Dear Book Nerd. The column's just started, but I can't wait to see what questions and answers it features.

Page added for Reckoning (Ashes #2)

In the very near future, I'll be publishing Reckoning, the sequel to Ashes.

In the meantime, click the tab above to take a look at the page I've just added for it, and to see what the book is about and read an excerpt. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Review: Carrie (2013)

They're all gonna laugh at you! My review of the Carrie remake is up at Horrorview.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Sponsoring a giveaway!

My novel Ashes is a featured book at Momma Says Read, and I'm sponsoring a giveaway of an Amazon gift card. Giveaway ends late Tuesday night, so take a look and enter while you can!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Friday, October 11, 2013

The Day After Yesterday showcased at Clarissa Wild's blog

Over at Clarissa Wild's blog, she's showcasing The Day After Yesterday. Take a look, and spend a while visiting her blog and exploring her books while you're there!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Cover reveal for Reckoning

Reckoning, the sequel to Ashes, will go on sale in early November. But here's the cover - let me know what you think of it!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

It's National Cookbook Month!

I cannot believe that I only just learned that October is National Cookbook Month. Really, a month that celebrates two of my favorite things: cooking and books.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I love to cook. Some look at the big holiday feasts with dread, but those are my favorite meals to cook. Thanksgiving is when I'm particularly in my element (it helps that we usually have the feast on Friday and I have an extra day to prep).

I love cookbooks, not just because of the fine meals that can be the result, but because they're fun to read. I have a White House Cookbook from 1929 (I inherited it from my grandmother) that I'd never use for recipes (they all sound bland beyond belief). But it's fantastic as a curiosity piece and to get a glimpse into the mind-set for cooks at the time. For example, it's just assumed that one knows how to pluck a chicken. It also includes things like food for invalids (translation: gruel), as well as household tips on cleaning lace curtains and making your own perfume. This last item sounds good until you read the list of ingredients and realize you probably can't get ambergris at CostCo.

It's a cruel irony that, in my experience, cookbooks with the best food photography don't always have the best recipes. Probably my favorite cookbooks to use are the ones from Cook's Illustrated - I'm particularly fond of their Best International Recipes book. Pictures are relegated to a middle section of the book, which is a shame because some of these recipes are unfamiliar to Americans and it would be nice to see what the end product should look like (I'm still not sure if the chicken mole turned out the way it should have). But these books are invaluable for anyone who enjoys the process of cooking, for they include the trial-and-error process the cooks went through for each recipe.

Likewise, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking books lack illustrations or photos. But her instructions are so detailed and thorough that you don't really need them. I recall making her French onion soup and worrying that the onions were not achieving the proper color when - voila! - right when she said they would be the perfect color, they were. (My only caveat with these books is to be very careful for the stovetop cooking - I think ovens in Julia's day had much less mojo and I've overcooked a few things.)

Cookbooks are like novels - technically the stories and recipes have all been done before, but there's always something new to discover. When I'm stressed or just don't have the mental energy for reading fiction, I often turn to cookbooks for reading. They entertain me, and my friends and family love it because usually I say, "You know, there's this recipe I've been wanting to try..."

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

99 cent sale for Ashes - for the entire month!

Good news! My novel Ashes, first in a two-book series, is on sale for 99 cents for the entire month of October. Click the tab above for reviews, buy links, and an excerpt.

Even better news: If you like Ashes, its sequel Reckoning will be available in November. Watch the blog for upcoming cover reveal and excerpts.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Want to win a Kindle Fire?

Sure you do! And the good news is that I'm helping sponsor a Kindle Fire giveaway over at I Am A Reader, Not a Writer. You have til the end of October to enter, but go take a look!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Like the new look?

Felt it was time to freshen up the blog, so I've changed its look and feel a bit, and also added pages for each of my books - click those to find descriptions of the books, reviews, links, and a short sample. I hope to be adding a page for Reckoning very soon, so keep your eyes peeled.

If you have a moment, let me know what you think of the blog's new look!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

5-star review of Ashes at The Bibliophilic Book Blog

The Bibliophilic Book Blog has a 5-star review of Ashes. Visit the blog and find out more!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Reckoning (the Ashes sequel) on target for November publication!

Good news for fans of my suspense novel Ashes. I got the final copyedits/proofreading notes in from the editor, and have started on those. The book's well on target for its publication date in the first half of November.

I'm very excited, because of all my books Reckoning was the one that was most fun to write. I was coming off a several-year writing hiatus at the time (said hiatus was because my son was very young and I didn't have the physical energy or mental stamina for serious creativity), so I was very enthusiastic to be getting back to writing, and I think that shows in the book. Those of you who read and enjoyed Ashes will like the sequel (which can be read on its own - but it's best to read both books to get the full story arc).

Now, back to editing!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review (and giveaway!) of The Day After Yesterday

The Book Bag has a glowing review of The Day After Yesterday, and is kindly hosting a giveaway of an autographed print copy or an ebook. Go take a look and enter the giveaway!

Today's mood

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Favorite secondary characters

Secondary characters can often be the most fun to write. There's a bit more freedom to make them fun and interesting, and less worry about all the backstory and flaws you need to give a main character. One of the things that's been most enjoyable with my own books is finding out which characters people like, and I'm happy that so far my secondary character Eskimo Sally (from The Day After Yesterday) is a favorite with some fans.

So without further ado, here are some of my favorite secondary characters:

Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series (books 5-7)
Dreamy, eccentric, and surprisingly wise, Luna is also just plain fun (highlights are her roaring lion hat, and her spaced-out commentary at a Quidditch game). Her whimsy is a good thing, considering how angsty the last three Potter books become. Her combination of goofiness and insight was a big inspiration to me when writing my aforementioned Eskimo Sally character.

Partridge in The Shipping News
A well-read, well-traveled, life-loving copy editor who befriends the friendless protagonist Quoyle and introduces him to the art of journalism, Partridge does what any friend should do - help a person out when help is needed. In addition to his friendship, Partridge helps Quoyle get a newspaper job in Newfoundland that helps Quoyle transform his life. The only downside is that Partridge isn't in the book enough (would have loved a chapter in which he visits Quoyle in Newfoundland).

Will Somers in The Autobiography of Henry VIII
Henry's fool Will is the character who "inherits" Henry's journal and comments on it throughout the book, providing his own perspective (particularly valuable when Henry disappears up his own ego) and  filling in some blanks of historical perspective for the reader. It helps that Will is witty, sarcastic, and insightful, and his interludes in the journal are always welcome.

The Old Turk in Boys and Girls Together
William Goldman's underrated story of damaged souls is at its most heartbreaking with the story of Rudy, a kind child who's ultimately destroyed by his hideous parents. The one bright period in Rudy's life is when his family moves in with his maternal grandfather, a deli owner known as The Old Turk. He's a caring, sensitive, and sarcastically witty old man whose loving bond with his grandson is well realized and too, too brief.

Dr. Lilith Ritter in Nightmare Alley
All the secondary characters I've listed so far are nice people for the most part - ready for an evil one? Dr. Lilith Ritter is a psychiatrist who uses her brains and the information she's privy to from therapy sessions to help her erstwhile partner Stan Carlisle, a fake spiritualist minister. She's merciless and chilling, particularly when she robs Carlisle and uses what she's learned about him to drive the emotionally unstable man to a breakdown. And the best/worst part is that she gets away with it all.

Eustace Clarence Scrubb in The Chronicles of Narnia
I don't know if it's entirely fair to call Eustace a secondary character. He's secondary indeed in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but has a more substantial role in The Silver Chair, then is back to secondary in The Last Battle. But I'm including him here because he's arguably the only character in the series who has an actual arc. The Pevensie children start out nice and stay that way (well, except for that whole bit with Susan blowing off Narnia in favor of parties and lipstick, but that's a topic for another time). Eustace starts off as a smarmy little pill who's petty and nasty. He's turned into a dragon for a while, as a direct result of being a smarmy little pill, and after he's turned back into a human by Aslan, turns over a new leaf. The transformation isn't instantaneous and Eustace still has his douche-y moments, but overall it's quite a convincing and nice character arc.

Who are your favorite secondary characters?

Monday, September 9, 2013

Books read in 2013: August

Bit of a slow month as the primary book I read, William Styron's Lie Down in Darkness, is not something you can read at a quick clip. So here is the tally for August:

The Serpent and the Pearl - Kate Quinn
Lie Down in Darkness - William Styron
The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison

Currently reading Bones of the Moon by Jonathan Carroll.

Kelly's big score: Book Ziggurat Edition

I've acquired quite a pile of books in the last few weeks. Some were purchased at The Book Loft in Solvang, some were a gift from my buddy A. J., and some were a prize in a Twitter contest held by Alfred A. Knopf publishers.

So here's the total stack:

  • The Silent Wife - A.S.A. Harrison
  • The Inquisitor's Wife - Jeanne Kalogridis
  • Cold Light - Jenn Ashworth
  • The Night Country - Stewart O'Nan
  • Bones of the Moon - Jonathan Carroll
  • The Most of Nora Ephron
  • The Wolves of Midwinter - Anne Rice
  • Longbourn - Jo Baker
  • The Lowland - Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Levels of Life - Julian Barnes
  • Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin - Jill Lepore

Talk about being spoiled for choice!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Update: The Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema

It's been a while since I mentioned my book of movie reviews that's in progress, but now I have an update on The Nerd Girl's Guide to Cinema. I have 3/4 the quota of reviews designated for the book, so we're definitely on the downhill side. I'm already getting things prepped for the cover art.

Those of you who've read my reviews at Horrorview know that I'm fond of horror and other genre films, not to mention oddball films and cult classics. Is there a particular film you'd like to see my take on? Leave a comment and let me know!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Day After Yesterday ebook on sale through 9/8

Summer's over (or so they say - it's still 90-something and miserable here), so settle in with a book that's perfect for the cool days of autumn and winter. My novel The Day After Yesterday is available for just 99 cents through September 8, for Kindle and all other e-readers.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

How to get a book written

Gary Glass, author of The Nirvana Plague, has some sage advice for getting a book written. It's over at the Like Fire site - take a look!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

How it went: Ashes book signing at Vroman's Bookstore (with photos!)

Today was my first-ever book signing event! I joined two other local authors at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA to read from and answer questions about my novel Ashes, with a signing to follow.

It was a thrill to see a full house in attendance (among them friends, some of whom were around and providing encouragement when I was first writing the book). I read a passage from the first chapter, answered some (very good) questions, and then signed some copies. I was able to say thank you to longtime fans, and possibly gain some new fans.

It was a tremendously rewarding experience, and I was not nearly as nervous as I would have thought I would be. My thanks go out to everyone who attended.

The upcoming events list at Vroman's. I'm left column, second from the top. 

The audience for the 8/25/13 Local Author event at Vroman's. 

Me talking about the book. Judging by my hand gestures, 
I think I'm talking about character and story arc. 

Me at the podium. I think I'm being asked a question at this point. 

Signing copies. Very odd to be on this side of the signing process. 

With the other local authors. 

Talking with a fan at the signing table.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Indie publishing: Playing the long game

It's been almost a year and a half since I jumped on the indie publishing train. I'm happy to say that it's been a very enjoyable experience, and I've learned a lot. Most importantly, I've learned the value of patience.

It's a cruel irony that while the technical process of publishing independently is very easy and quick, everything that follows can take quite a while. (Maybe it's not that ironic, as everything leading up to actual publication - writing, revising, editing, formatting, cover design - can and should take quite a while, but that's a topic for a different post.)

I want to share some of my experiences, lessons I've learned, and general two-cents on indie publishing. I hope these are helpful, and feel free to share any insights or tips you may have in the comments.

You have to promote your book. People won't buy it if they don't know about it, and merely publishing something may get you a brief "New release" mention on Amazon but with the sheer number of new releases out there, the sales will be few at best. Expecting people to stumble on your book won't work, particularly if it's new and has very few reviews.

But where to start? The good news is that there are opportunities to promote your book. Some are free, some are affordable to most everyone, and some are expensive. Start by visiting GalleyCat's list of free sites to promote your ebook. Be sure to check out the sites and find out what works best for you - some of these are only for promoting free books, some are focused on a certain genre or exclude certain types of content (i.e., no erotica).

From there start exploring more sites that promote ebooks, and take notes on the specifics for each site. Will the site promote your book at its list price, or at a sale price only? Are there restrictions on the number of reviews or star ratings you need to promote? What are the price options? How is the promotion done: via Facebook or Twitter, an email list, a blog posting? What support are you asked to provide - for example, are you asked to like a Facebook post, put a link on your blog, or re-tweet? How far ahead of time do you need to schedule the promotion? Do you pay up front or does the promotion site take a percentage of your sales?

I've found that bookmarking likely sites and keeping an Excel sheet with the basics helps me organize the information (especially as the site names can blur after a while with ebook this and kindle that).

I'd be lying if I said there isn't a certain amount of "you get what you pay for" in these promotions. But while a free listing on a given site may not lead to an instant uptick in your sales, it can help get awareness of your book out to the reading public, while you accumulate the money or reviews/ratings needed to get some of the more high-cost promotional opportunities.

It takes money, experimentation, and yes, time. Many of the most successful promotional gambits I've made were at sites that required a certain level of Amazon reviews and ratings. The bad news is that it can take a while for those reviews to add up. The good news is that when you independently publish, you have control over your timelines. There isn't a paperback contract riding on whether you sell a certain number of hardcovers in a given amount of time. If your book takes a while to accumulate the reviews it needs to qualify for a solid promotional opportunity, so be it. Because reviews are another aspect that requires patience, and not just customer reviews.

Seek out reviews. The downside of indie publishing is that you have no marketing department sending out advance copies to big media outlets. Nope, you are your own marketing department, and many of the big media outlets won't go near indie-published books. But there are ways to get reviewed.

Book bloggers are a great source for reviews, and many bloggers are willing to put their reviews on Goodreads and/or Amazon as well as the blog, not to mention Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately there isn't a single comprehensive database for book blogs, but Step by Step Self Publishing is a good place to start, as is The Indie Book Reviewers list.

From there it's a lot of detective work. If you find a blog you like, be sure to check its blogroll for other sites. And you'll need to carefully look at each blog and determine:

Is the blog's genre/audience focus a good match? Don't send your uber-edgy horror novel to the blogger who reviews only cozy mysteries about cats.

When was the blog last updated? If it's been more than six months, give it a miss for now.

Read the review policy! Most bloggers who are open to review requests have a policy, and you should read it. If the blogger doesn't have one, chances are that he or she prefers not to receive review requests.

Respect the review policy! If a blogger has to take a hiatus and isn't accepting review requests, respect that. If the blogger does not like books with certain content or themes, respect that.

Be thorough. You will get more good will from bloggers if you demonstrate that you have taken the time to read the review policy and the blog, to craft a polite review request, and to address the blogger in a way that does not make him or her feel like just another name on your list.

Success builds success. Include a link to your book's Amazon page in your review request. Once you start building up a good number of customer reviews, and adding blog review excerpts to the Editorial Reviews section, bloggers will be more willing to take a chance on your book.

Be patient. It will take time to do all this. It will also take time to hear back from bloggers. You know how busy you are and how hard it is for you to find time to read or write? The bloggers are, for the most part, in the exact same situation. Most of them do the blogs in their free time, because they love books and love sharing their insights on books. So it can take while for them to get back to you. In fact, some of them won't get back to you, and that's fine - they may not be interested in your book, and only respond if they are interested. Don't worry about it, and move on. Even if a blogger does take on your book, it can take a while for them to get to it. Some will give you a hard date of when to expect the review, some won't. It's up to them. Again, be patient. Use the time waiting for one blogger to review your book by researching others who may be interested in reading it.

What it all boils down to is that indie publishing is not a quick thing. The wheels turn slowly, but if your book has merit, they do turn. And when a certain point is reached, and the right blend of reviews, promotion, and word of mouth is achieved, your book's sales will start to reflect this. And when the waiting gets unbearable and you can't face another night of researching blogs or promotional opportunities - use your time to write another book. The more books you have, the better chance you have of getting noticed.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Ashes signing at Vroman's Bookstore, August 25

Join me and other local authors for a signing at Vroman's Bookstore in Pasadena, CA. It's this Sunday, August 25, at 4 p.m. I'll read from and answer questions about Ashes, and a signing will follow.

Hope to see you there!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Four-star review of Ashes

The blog Ciska's Book Chest has a four-star review of Ashes. Take a look!

Kelly's Big Score: Back to the Beach edition

Road-tripped up to El Capitan State Beach yesterday (more on this soon) where I spent the day walking nature trails and lolling on the beach. About 3 p.m., when the breeze cooled things down and the marine layer started rolling in, I recalled that there is a used book store not far away in Ojai. It was on the way home with a small detour, so I went, and thank goodness I did.

Bart's Books is an outdoor store with labyrinthine shelves that have so many nooks and crannies you'd need all day to peruse the shelves thoroughly. I didn't have all day, but I was able to come home with:

  • Control - William Goldman (got two copies, actually, one for me and one for my buddy A.J.)
  • Shardik - Richard Adams
  • The Mouse That Roared - Leonard Wibberley
  • Damage - Josephine Hart
  • Deliverance - James Dickey
  • I the Jury/My Gun is Quick/Vengeance is Mine! - Mickey Spillane

I foresee another road trip soon to see the rest of what this store has to offer.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Books read in 2013: July

Sort of an odd month for reading. Had some trouble getting into books (I chalk it up to being distracted by Comic-Con), but here's the tally for July:

  • Karen White - Sea Change
  • Justin Cronin - The Passage
  • Richard Castle - Frozen Heat
  • John D. MacDonald - The Scarlet Ruse

Frozen Heat was a pleasant surprise - the Castle tie-ins are turning into real books. The Scarlet Ruse was also a bit surprising (refreshing to see a female character who is not swept off her feet by McGee).

Currently reading The Serpent and the Pearl by Kate Quinn (I've enjoyed all her Rome books so I'm looking forward to this). And I just received as a belated birthday present Amy Sedaris' I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Featured at Kindle Books and Tips!

My debut novel The Day After Yesterday is a featured discount Kindle book at Kindle Books and Tips. Take a look at the site for more great books and (fellow authors) for sponsorship opportunities.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Saturday, August 3, 2013

I now have a Facebook page!

Yes, there's now a Facebook page for Kelly Cozy, Author.  Take a look, give it a like, and you'll get the latest news from me.

There should be plenty of news in the next couple months, including a month-long sale on Ashes in October, and the release of Reckoning in November!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Monday, July 29, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last Comic-Con post, I mean it

I've been a bit waylaid by the infamous "Con Crud" - a sore throat and vague sinus troubles that are the inevitable result of cramming 100,000 people in a relatively small area and recirculating the air endlessly. But here are my thoughts, favorite things, and a few last pictures from this year's Con.

  • Lots of good cosplayers this year. There seems to be much more variety in the costumes and that's a good thing. The point of this event should be to geek out about the things that are dear to you, not to dress up like something just because every other nerd will be doing it.
  • Lines are never fun but at least in the lines I was in, people took things in stride, were cheerful and friendly. Karen and I had a nice chitchat with Deadpool Waldo (see my entry from a few days ago), talking about movies and TV, and introducing him to the Castle tie-in books. 
  • Con is way too crowded. Seriously. There should be no reason for people to camp out all night to get into Hall H. I'd heard that unless you were there at 3 in the morning, there was no way to get into the hall, and that is just ridiculous. Unfortunately, I don't see SDCC cutting back on the crowds, because if you build it, they will come, and that means more profit.
  • The upside of this is that maybe more people will check out smaller panels. Aside from our day of Ballroom 20 and Agents of SHIELD, we tended to stick with the medium-to-small events and had a great time. The Roger Rabbit anniversary panel gave good insight into the making of the movie and what an amazing technical achievement it was, and the Spike and Mike animation show was very entertaining. 
  • Props once again go to Zachary Levi's Nerd HQ. This time the HQ took over a portion of Petco Park and I think it should stay there. Panels were held in a small, intimate location (only 250 seats) and rest of HQ was a pleasant getaway with comfy couches and video games aplenty. Best of all was the night-time showing of Serenity, out on the grass of Petco Park - just fans with their blankets out on the grass. Only way we could top that is to make it a pajama party. 

And now here are a last round of photos. Enjoy!

A prop from 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea 

The gun used in publicity shots by Sean Connery as James Bond 

Nerd HQ in Petco Park gets ready for the evening showing of Serenity 

One of the best cosplays - Big Tall Headless Dude 

Inside Nerd HQ - a great place to relax for a while 

At Nerd HQ, lots of video games - you could choose from the latest ones or old school arcade games like Centipede and Galaga 

Alan Tudyk introduces Nathan Fillion's Nerd HQ panel. 

Alan Tudyk and Nathan Fillion at Nerd HQ (same for all the rest below)


Might get a few more pictures in from friends, but you can probably tell that it was a pretty good time!