Thursday, October 22, 2020

Preview Cursed Asylum: Special Excerpt!

 My Dear Reader-Friends,

Today I'm sharing an extra special preview of CURSED ASYLUM. An entire scene from Chapter One!

(photos from Unsplash)

So, here you go! A sneak peek from The Dead Oaks: Cursed Asylum.

                                                              ______________________

Jasper rushed to dress the next morning like he always did on Saturdays. Only getting to see Wes on weekends was a challenge. Jasper spent the entire week pining and daydreaming of the time they’d spend together and once the weekend came, the days flew by so fast he barely had time to grasp them. Every second counted and he couldn’t be bothered to waste them on primping in a mirror or trading morning platitudes with his parents. So, he shouted a short, “Have a great day!” to his mom and dad as he zoomed past them having their morning coffee on the couch while watching the news. However, Jasper did take a moment at the door to grab his jacket and scratch Zener, the family’s tabby cat, behind the ear before heading out to meet up with Wes at the park.

Tony’s suggestion of renting an apartment for the weekends had rooted itself in Jasper’s thoughts. While he drove into town, he kept running over the logistics of the scenario and each time concluded it financially impractical. However, his imagination insisted on how amazing having a safe place all their own would be. No more rushing to get ready on Saturday mornings because they’d already be together.

The park was within walking distance from the Shain’s house, where Wes stayed while he visited. Jasper spotted him on the metal bench near the small hedge maze in the center of the park. The park wasn’t too busy this early in the morning. Only a few joggers were on the walking trail and a couple of families with small children were gathered around the playground equipment. The hedge maze appeared to be empty save for Wes who hopped up from the bench when Jasper arrived.

Since when did you become such a morning person?” Jasper asked after a brief kiss in greeting. Wes grinned so wide he could have been rehearsing to be the Cheshire Cat.

Since all of our prayers have been answered!” Wes rocked on his feet with pent up exuberance.

Well, that’s not much of a feat since I don’t pray,” Jasper teased. He locked elbows with Wes and led him into the hedge maze in an effort to help him funnel out all his apparent excess energy while they walked and talked.

I’m so excited, I don’t even think this is the best way to tell you this but I’m going to do it anyway,” Wes said. “I just can’t keep it to myself until we see Liv and Tony later and I didn’t want to relay the message through texts because this is definitely one of those things you have to announce to people in person.”

You’re rambling,” Jasper pointed out while they rounded a hedge.

Wes took a deep breath and stopped Jasper in his tracks by unlinking their elbows and pivoting to face him. Wes grabbed Jasper by the arms as though he were about to need steadying.

I submitted an audition tape with clips of our work to a reality show competition about paranormal investigators and—they accepted us! We’re in!” Wes shook Jasper’s arms. “We’re going to be on television!”

He let Jasper go and ran his hands through his long black hair, brushing wild strands out of his face where they had fallen in his excitement.

You did what?” Shocked, Jasper’s body locked in place like he'd had a nightmare where someone was chasing him, and he couldn’t run away because his legs had become heavy as stone. The thought of being on network television caused years of carefully managed social anxiety to crash over him in a giant wave. Sure, they had a web series, but that was different. They had a niche audience, and he could control how much he would be seen, and he tried to stay off camera whenever possible. But a reality show? No. No way. Everyone in the nation would be watching and criticizing.

This is the chance of a lifetime! I can’t wait to tell Liv and Tony.”

Jasper fought off the rapid sensation of distress building up. “You should have told us before you applied!”

Wes knitted his eyebrows. “Why? So, you could shrug it off and say ‘no’? See, this way if we were rejected—no harm, no foul. But now that we’re accepted, we can celebrate! And start preparing. We’re supposed to fly out to film over winter break.”

Jasper continued walking the maze in silence, allowing Wes to ramble on about what the reality show entailed. He couldn’t talk Wes down when he was this enthusiastic about something. Jasper would have to leave that job to Liv. She was much better at bursting bubbles.

Winter break was in three weeks. Maybe that would be enough time to talk some sense into him.

And, it gets better!” Wes’s announcement broke through Jasper’s desperate thoughts.

Oh, I doubt that,” Jasper muttered.

Wes didn’t seem to hear him. “We get a paycheck! Like a pretty big paycheck. Just for being on the show. Which means we could totally get our own place once it’s over.”

Jasper slowed his pace. So, Wes had Tony’s suggestion on his mind too? Maybe this reality show was a strange blessing in disguise. He’d just have to figure out how to be the most uninteresting person to ever be on television so they wouldn’t spend much time filming him, right? He could do that. His peers had once nicknamed him Casper.

Jasper knew how to be invisible.

                                                   ______________________


CURSED ASYLUM - Summary

In the final installment of the series, The Dead Oaks Paranormal Society is offered the opportunity of a lifetime to compete against several other teams of paranormal investigators on Fright Team TV, a reality television special, for the chance to win a show of their own!

The production takes them on location to one of the most haunted asylums in North America. But will the group be able to survive the temptation of fame and a chilling curse from beyond?

Now available for Pre-Order on Amazon!

I'm looking forward to release day and can't wait to share this exciting conclusion to The Dead Oaks series with you all!

What's Next?

  • Mirrormaze: A Dreampunk Anthology releases December 8th! My short story, Thatcher Maugden And The Dream Witch, is included. (published by Fractured Mirror Publishing)
  • Riding Acadenemies, my first M/M Contemporary Romance, will release late 2021. (published by NineStar Press)
BONUS Cursed Asylum Excerpt:


Thanks for reading!

❤ Dez



Thursday, October 15, 2020

5 Tips + One BIG MISTAKE When Writing A Novella Series

 



I've just finished writing my first novella series and the final book is set to release later this month. Check out The Dead Oaks: Cursed Asylum here! 

If you're unfamiliar with the term, a novella is a story that is typically 15K-40K words in length. A novella series is exactly what it sounds like--a book series made up of these sorts of mini-novels.

So, I'm sharing my thoughts on the process of writing a novella series and what I've learned. I'm not saying this is the only way to do things. Every writer is different and you should always trust your gut. But these are the steps I took and what I feel was my biggest mistake!


1. Plan Your ARC

Chances are, if you're considering writing a novella series then you already have a pretty good idea of the story you want to tell or the characters you want to explore. You don't need to know all the details from the start but make an effort to loosely plot either a story arc or your main character's arc from the beginning. This will help you avoid writer's block along the way and is useful in spotting the overall "theme" of your series. Knowing the theme in advance will make marketing your story much easier down the road.

2. Choose Your Format

Will your books be stand-alones with a common thread or will they be sequential and necessary to read in order? Will they be written in first or third person, or possibly have multiple POVs (points-of-view)? Whichever you choose, keep this consistent throughout the series. If a reader loves your first book enough to move on to the next one, it's because they are going to expect more of what they adored the first time. Also, if possible, try to keep each book around the same length. If your readers are accustomed to your stories being 30K words then they might feel cheated if the next book is only 15K words (the exception being short-story spin-offs or those "Book 2.5" situations where the reader understands it will be shorter ahead of time). 

3. Keep A Series Reference Manuel

Some writers call it the "Series Bible" and it can be as little as a one-sheet reference, or a tabbed binder, all the way to an entire intricate Wiki. This will just depend on how robust your story-world becomes and physical or digital is up to your personal preference. For The Dead Oaks, I kept everything in a notebook. For future projects, I'm considering trying the Wiki method.

4. Consider Your Marketing Early

Consistency is key, right? This is just as true when trying to reach an audience. I stumbled with this in the beginning by not having the foresight to plan for all of my covers to match. Book two in my series stands out when set next to the others because the cover is so different. I highly recommend thinking about how you want to market your series and then planning for all of the covers to have a consistent design. Whether you hire a designer or design them yourself, make things easier by choosing elements early that you can incorporate onto every cover.

Along with cover art, start thinking about the online spaces where your ideal readers spend the most time and begin constructing a plan to reach them there. The earlier you make those connections, the more readers you'll have right from the start of your first book release.

5. Create A Release Schedule (MY BIGGEST MISTAKE)

I'm telling you. That whole consistency thing is more important than you may realize! Just like keeping your covers consistent and your format similar, readers tend to prefer books with consistent release intervals. Who would've thought? Apparently, not this novella newbie. lol In a way, my books were consistent but with such short novels releasing a full year apart from one another it was definitely hard to keep up the excitement and momentum. I was juggling more than one series and also writing a few standalones in between. My biggest piece of advice if you choose to write a novella series is to focus on ONLY that series until it's completed and to keep to a release schedule. You don't have to publish a book every month, but at least 2-4 times a year will make it much easier to keep your audience's attention. There are so many great books out there vying for readers, so just do your best to make sure you have something for them more often than not.


I hope these tips help you out if you're working on your own novella series! I love answering writing-related questions, so always feel free to shoot me an email or send me a Tweet and I will try to cover it in a future blog post!

Thanks for reading!

♥ Dez