Naima's Published Titles

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Last Night's Opera

I met Terry at the University of West Florida (UWF) last night to see a one-act opera called Postcards From Morocco, performed by artists-in-residence in connection with Pensacola Opera ( It was really different from any opera I'd seen. It was fantastic. The voices, the chaos -- people traveling running into each other, intruding on each other, palling up together, avoiding each other. There was a lot of symbolic stuff, too. A puppetmaster who symbolized God or fate. A ship's wheel and sails symbolizing control of one's fate. The stuff they carried symbolized their hopes, dreams, or inner baggage. It was fun to see the woman who played Pinnochio last week (Jennifer Trombley) play a prim milliner whose fantasy self was brazenly seductive. I told her so after the performance. There was also a belly dancer (Sahdia Saraab) who belly danced to ragtime piano! And also did this comic dance balancing a sword on her head. when I learned that the opera was set in Morocco in 1914, two years after France colonized the country, it made sense she'd belly dance to ragtime -- it symbolized the juxtaposition of two cultures. The other performers were Gabriel Preisser, Eric Bowden, Ami Vice, Sheila Murphy, Zechariah Baker, Charles York, and Bolton Ellenberg on piano -- extremely talented people. I loved it.

Today, I'll mostly write Apparently Dead. Tomorrow, I'll connect with members of who've cataloged the same books I have. I'll contact book cover designers and try to do some comparison shopping among them. Also finish tagging Bloodroom's culture references for updating.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Chock Full o' Goodness

Last night I wrote The Gazette article and fit it into the scene with Gilbert and the men. I'm really pleased with the Gazette article. Maybe I'll go back in and add the reporter's description of Mrs. Beachum, because that's what a reporter would do. To give some background here, I'm writing a horror novel set in 18th century Charleston, South Carolina called The House of the Apparently Dead. To write the Gazette article about this woman who's been visited by the husband she buried the day before, I had to go back beyond that occurrence and think about how that would have been discovered publicly. Who was the first to notice the unearthed grave? The sexton, probably. What conclusions were likely drawn when a desecrated grave was discovered? Grave robbing. So what did the police do? Hell, what were police called back then? Time for a Google search. It took me a few hours before I finally felt pleased enough to stop for the night.

Claudia McKinney is amazing. She's the artist who created the cover art for my contemporary vampire novel, Bloodroom. We agreed on the final design last night. It is GORGEOUS!!! I'm so pleased. You can see her fantastic art and other book covers she's done at

My friend Jimmy Z is at the World Horror Convention in Austin this week. Jimmy's website gives you all the latest news on horror: Horror movies coming up, horror TV pilots, contracts signed by horror industry heavyweights, reviews, even horror music. Today's top post is about the upcoming availability of horror music free for download.

Because I keep on giving, here's a free archiving service Sharon's hubby Rick told me about: When you back up to your drop box, you can access it from any computer, even those with a different operating system than the one you backed up from.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Computer's Back Up

Sharon's husband Rick, who is a tech wiz, got my computer up and running. It crashed Sunday after I wrote a particularly thrilling scene -- Yes! Like a soprano who shatters glass with the purity of her highest note, I crash computers with the brilliance of my prose. Hahahahah.....

The scene is actually two scenes intertwining (in the same house), in which each of my characters with Point of View (POV) act without knowledge of the other's near presence. While Julian and the men are drinking in the sanctuary of Gilbert's drawing room, telling each other they have nothing to worry about, Anika's confronting the evil one floor above. In Julian's scene, the men are discussing a newspaper article Julian's holding. I introduced The Charleston Gazette to tell some of the story's action as the plot unfolds. Bram Stoker did this in Dracula. I love it, because this allows me to tell the story even though the two POVs aren't at the scene. And it's another way I can show escalating crisis in the background. Tonight, I'll finish The Gazette article. Even if I don't present the whole article in the scene, the men will be discussing the article so I have to know what's in it. I mean, I know know, but until I write it I don't know the details. What does Mrs. Beachum think happened to her husband? Where does she think he goes during the day? Mention of her physical discomfort and langor. How do the men react to those details? Depends on the man. I love how some in this group of survivors are each growing outward into unique personalities that drive the debate. These men consider themselves protectors of the realm but are clueless. They are former war heroes and the richest men in town but as other men see to the workings of their business they have little to do now but hang out with each other and drink. Their view of their own control over things doesn't match reality and I'd like to show Julian's growing understanding of that (he has no idea Anika's saving the day with his father's Revolutionary War sword, one plat-eye at a time). If I publish and am universally panned, I will still have had the pleasure of creating this story.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

No More Pain in the Ass

Had an epiphany during Kreative Kindergarten last night. With this writing/publishing thing -- I will not do, myself, any task that is a pain in the ass. I'll outsource anything I don't enjoy. I already have a job. Why take on another if it's stressful? Why would I do it if it isn't fun? So if something like designing a promotional video for Blooroom starts out being a nice learning experience but turns into a headache, I'll hire a professional to do it. The only thing I'll do despite its being a pain in the ass is writing, itself. I'll make the product, itself. That's my only real second job.

So if you or someone you know is an editor, typesetter, graphic artist, videographer, social network whiz kid, or marketing guru, email me or comment. Let me know so I can add another name to the talent pool I'll use to publish and publicize my books.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hell Breaking Loose Right on Schedule

Last night worked on the kitchen scene some more and really like it now. I didn't forsee it going the way it went but it focused on Eugenie's deterioration and how her husband, Gilbert, perceives it. Also showed how loyal Cassandra, the cook, is to Julian and how Julian and Walter conspire to repress Charlotte in order to -- as they perceive it -- protect her. (Charlotte is sister to Julian & Gilbert; wife to Walter). The kitchen scene showed deterioration going on in the background -- Anika remembering sick people in the shops on her morning rounds, increased funerals, and a long Obits column in the paper. I covered a lot of ground in 2 pages. Really pleased with that.

Monday, April 18, 2011

How Apparently Dead's Going

I changed the sequence of several scenes in the beginning of House of the Apparently Dead because I realized doing so would quicken the pace. I cut out some mini-scenes because changing the sequence made the mini-scenes unnecessary. It changed the order in which the reader learns about Anika's "affliction" and the epidemic that drove people from the Low Country to Charleston. I rewrote several things such as the location of the market to bring them in line with where they really would be in Charleston, according to Alphonso Brown's A Gullah Guide to Charleston. I wrote a kitchen scene. The kitchen house at the Walter Chatham house is where servants discuss what's going on. It's a way to check their reactions to the growing threat. It's a way to record the passing of events in the background that evidence growing mayhem. So I wrote one that includes the entire house staff and managed to cover some good ground, even injecting some humor. It's not genius, but it's pretty good. I'll go back and improve it tonight after work. I need to fit in Anika finding Risa at the market before Charlotte's celebratory dinner. Probably need to write a Julian Point-of-View (POV) scene where he has to answer uncomfortable questions from the mayor about the rising evidence that Apparent Death has stricken Charleston (in direct defiance of Julian's reassurance that Low Country refugees did not bring contagion when allowed asylum in the city). I dunno. Answering uncomfortable questions isn't very suspenseful, is it? Sometimes this plot feels like water running out of my cupped hands through my fingers. Writing is daunting. If you write, you know what I mean. I spent the rest of the weekend researching and tabulating info on publishing & marketing. That was not half as scary as facing a blank page in Word.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cover Art

Catalyst's cove
Wondered what the legalities are for just using the cover Catalyst Press bought for their publication of Bloodroom in 2003. I mean, who owns the art? Catalyst bought it, but they're out of business. Did the rights return to the artist? I never liked that cover, didn't think it represented the story. I liked my cover idea better but since I used a fashion ad as a base for my Photoshop filtering, using it for this printing would probably be a copyright violation. Got quotes from PhatPuppyArt to do cover art for my re-release of Bloodroom ( A custom/exclusive quote means that the design isn't available for anyone else's book cover, which is very important because to a book, the cover is like the logo on a product. Also, I think the cover is THE most important thing, next to the writing because a good cover can make a reader curious enough to look inside, but a bad cover can turn him off the book entirely. Also, PhatPuppy has some really great paintings that remind me of each novel in the trilogy I'm currently concocting.  Fields blowing ominously, rainy swamps...great for The Bad Death. There's one with a girl sitting beneath a gargoyle looking out over a 19th century city. Wouldn't it be a cool version for House of the Apparently Dead to show a black girl crouching in St. Michael's bell  tower, looking out over 18th century Charleston while holding a bloody sword?

A promo piece using my cover idea

Friday, April 15, 2011

HP Lovecraft

I rewrote the scene where Anika reunites with Risa in the marketplace, also when she gets the poison. I like it but know it needs more work. Anika's reactions to what they say are too sudden and seem to switch from one to the other to the other to the next like ratchets. Still, my idea that just before she asks for the poison it's given to her because Tumba, the root doctor, knew with 6th sense that she'd need it worked well. The interplay between her and Marcus worked well. Marcus is shaping up to be a good leading man. I didn't anticipate or try very hard for this character to develop. It's almost mystical when this happens, like the character is writing himself into being.

Then I watched a documentary -- Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown. HP Lovecraft lived at the turn of the century and hit his stride as a horror/sci-fi writer in the 1920s and 30s. What an imagination. He refused to work and he was right to do that. Out of necessity to keep a job he might have become a well-balanced, thoughtful, practical person. It would have killed his imagination. All his focus would have switched from phantasmagoric beings wrapping the earth in their tentacles to getting along with the guy on his team. I've never been very interested in Lovecraft because his monsters are outside threats to our world and my interest is in the monster within you or the guy down the street. But the documentary showed how Lovecraft's fantastic beings were metaphors for the monster Lovecraft felt himself to be. He spent most of his life in self-imposed exile - kept himself locked in a tower, so to speak. His mother loved him but told him growing up he was hideous. He believed it. I noted two stories I want to start on: The Rats in the Wall and The Color Out of Space. One thing the documentary reminded me of was that imagination is more important than anything. Literally. Period. Forget publishing, reaching your readers, marketing your name. If what you're putting out is the same plastic, form-poured utensil the other guys are selling, what's the point? It'll be fun for you -- that's a point. But ultimately, if you're broke and obscure but your creations are unlike anything anyone's written, I think in cosmic terms you're better. I'd rather be the one with the outlandish, astounding monster. More often than not, I'm congratulating myself for successfully working with that one dumbass on my team.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Afghanistan and Mobile Phones

This week my writing has been work-related. Stayed up till about 11 trying to write two wartime scenarios for mobile phone delivered training. They're supposed to be updates after soldiers have taken the web-based training. To immerse myself in the subject matter, I've been reading War by Sebastian Junger on my Kindle. Visited websites to learn more about the regions of Afghanistan and the conflicts and progress there. An example of the stuff I read online and a good site for ongoing info is: I have learned more about our war in the last week than I have known since 2003. I'm ashamed of my lack of interest till now. It took a work obligation to get me to look into it. Someone said, "The US is not at war. The US military is at war. The US is shopping." That has certainly been true for me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Can't Comment?

If you tried and couldn't, I think I just fixed that.

I found an artist whose work is perfect for my short stories and the Demontorium anthology. Daniele Serra ( His work blew me away. It's definitely horror related. He's designed covers for Delirium and Bad Moon Books, both reputable small presses in the horror genre. But it would be too expensive unless there was a volume discount -- via Luckybat Books, he costs $75/short story and $150/book. I'd have to sell over 750 short stories and at least 75 books. But, wow he's good.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Smart Women and Great Websites

I have an idea for how Anika gets the poison. So I'll write that in soon.

Every Sunday, I go to a financial studies group that my friend Maria & I set up. My friend Tamara and a new friend, Cathie have joined us. We recently decided on a new focus: publishing because Maria's writing a nonfiction book, I write, and Tamara writes. Last night I shared the website of the person who does cover art for JA Konrath & others: I shared the site of the person who does Amanda Hocking's covers: We discussed what cover artists charge. This particularly interests Cathie, who's a great studio artist ( and Tamara, who'se a writer, artist, and cartoonist ( Tamara showed us the website for self publishing,, which it turns out, Amanda Hocking uses for her books ( We talked about how such an Amazon purchase interface looks to a customer, how a POD (print on demand) book gets from Createspace to the customer, within Amazon's structure. I told them how I thought this went, based on my experience selling my schoolbooks after every semester. We live in collard greens country, which can be inspiring but also frustrating so the talk turned to finding the right markets in places far and wide via the Internet; you can have a great career even if you live in a place that doesn't 'get' your art. I showed off my kindle. Cathie shared a great article on tuning out the naysayers in life who always have a reason why your plan is doomed to failure: Such a fabulous meeting. Such great energy!!! I am so happy I've found these smart and gifted ladies.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Brothels and Sticky Notes

Wrote Friday night but didn't really like what I wrote; it seemed stilted. Wrote different scenes this morning and really liked it. These little scenes alluded to a lot of things happening in the background; sort of what I was getting at in my last blog post. The scenes took place in brothels near Charleston's harbor. As a root doctor, Anika does a lot of biz in brothels, with pregnancy and disease preventatives, prosperity magic, and now plat-eye repellents. Found an interesting plat-eye fact in a book called Blue Roots by Roger Pinckney -- plat-eyes are supposed to love whiskey; they drink it. Well, since in my stories plat-eyes drink blood I changed the whiskey thing a little bit, but I featured it in these brothel scenes and I'll roll the whiskey thing right into my novels. I love these brothels. The two in this morning's scenes are Madame Gilla's House of Black Cats and Scheherazade's Arabian Nights.

Last night, I started reading Bloodroom, putting sticky notes on pages that had outdated cultural references. I know famous writers don't do that. I mean, when you read Pet Cemetery, it's probably full of 80s references. But since Bloodroom's still obscure and I'm republishing it for e-readers and POD, I get a chance to update it a little. Not change the story, though -- not that. I'm getting Bloodroom ready to send to an editor, formatter, and artist. I'll offer that one out for Kindle, et al first. Next, I'll see about my short stories. But I'll keep on writing House of the Apparently Dead, because a writer writes. Right?

Still no word from NYC publishers Tor and Kensington on The Bad Death. My friend John Urbancik tells me to expect to wait up to 6 months for word of acceptance or rejection. John is a terrifically prolific writer whose many books are published by reputable small presses like Evil Eye. Look for his DarkWalker series to come out soon from Evil Eye. You can check John out at

Friday, April 8, 2011

Juicy Writing

Went to Juicy Writing last night ( Sharon Renae teaches a number of workshops and classes. Her novella, Angel in Darkness, is a unique take on good/evil and God/devil. I shared the websites I've been reading. JA Konrath's is a godsend, right down to the checklist for getting your book out and a reasonable hour expenditure to expect (plus cost if you hire someone to do the work for you). Plus, he gave links to the company that does his cover art and the company that does his formatting. Plus mention of another company that edits and formats. That, with Amanda Hocking's link to the gal who did the art on her covers means I have leads to two formatting companies, two artists, and an editor. I am so psyched.

At Juicy Writing, I shared the scenes I'd written for Apparently Dead. I said I thought there should be many more scenes like this to show the city's deterioration and the escalation to crisis. However, this is background. It's not plot point -- it aggravates and instigates plot points. But I don't want to take a break from my action to describe Anika's errands (it's during her errands that she sees the deterioration). Sharon suggested describing each mark of deterioration as an aside -- Anika's thinking about it as a plot point ramps up or she's late or early to a plot point setting and it happens that some element of rising background crisis has delayed or pushed her. I really like that idea.

I love meeting Sharon every Thursday. As a day job person who writes during off-time, it's all too easy for work, community, and social commitments to crowd writing time. I feel obligated to people or to some super-woman ideal and have to reassert writing as Priority One. (I think it was Billy Crystal's movie Throw Momma From the Train, in which he tells a class of writing students, "A writer writes." )  Juicy Writing keeps me writing because I have each Thursday to shoot for, and it keeps me from feeling isolated (which is when self-doubt creeps in). Having someone who also wrtes and is published saying, "Yes, I get it. Great! What's next?" is so helpful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Kindle and my mortgage

I bought myself a Kindle 3G and a pink leather case for it that has a light that swings out from it. I bought it all new. I like that it will come to me like a brand new fresh notebook. I believe it's the best purchase of all the options. It has e-ink instead of LCD so it mimics the actual printed page and won't strain my eyes (I stare at LCD screens 12 hours a day). I can adjust the font size so that'll cut down on eyestrain, too. E-books are way cheaper than print so I won't be breaking the bank buying books for it. I am really happy about it. From the writer's side, the Kindle is my market so I will come to understand this market. At the very least, I'll know what "formatted for Kindle" means. I paid $15 to have it sent by Friday.

I'm reading another e-author's blog: It's SO informative. Its a conversation between him and Barry Eisler, the author who left St. Martin's to self publish digital books. Barry Eisler's breaking down the numbers again, just as he did in his interview in The Daily Beast. His numbers say he'll make more in 5 years this new route than traditional and that's without expecting his print customers to follow him. Wow! If I make even a small fraction of his take -- 1/8, say, I could start paying off my mortgage in significant chunks every year. Good God -- I might actually make a good living at this. I never really viewed it as a realistic outcome before.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Hags and the Gullah

I wrote in the additions to the seamstress scene to draw comparisons between Anika's hag and Maum's hag. I see I'll always be trying to balance on this blog between sharing my writing experience and avoiding spoilers. But I think I can tell y'all what a hag is without spoiling. A hag is a woman who sheds her skin at night and dives into a sleeping person to haunt that person with nightmares. A hag is often someone people know and don't suspect. Being a hag is a malicious thing and the woman's secret she hides from her community. There are ways to rid a victim of the hag's visits. The seamstresses paid Anika to rid their Maum (mother/grandmother) of a hag. The three novels in my trilogy are historic paranormal, set in South Carolina in 1789 and the plots revolve around Gullah culture. The Gullah region in SC was populated with Africans who were for the most part isolated for hundreds of years and so their African culture and dialect survived intact until recently. (The term Gullah may derive from the word 'Angola'.) The Gullahs have their own folklore, which sometimes mirrors universal archetypes. I encourage you to explore Gullah. Two excellent sources are Lorenzo Dow Turner's book, Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect, and Alphonso Brown's Charleston Gullah Tours (and his book, A Gullah Guide to Charleston). Anyhoo, last night's writing: I wound up writing into the seamstresses' scene, Anika's internal reaction to Maum's descriptions of her nightmares and Anika's feelings about being possessed by a hag. I like how it turned out. It really gave the scene humanity, depth, and reality. Plus explained things for readers (this scene is early in The House of the Apparently Dead). So, I consider the scene finished and can move on.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Energized and Happy

I got good writing done. Wrote the scenes some more and they're more real, less patronizing. But I need to go back to the scene in the seamstresses' cottage and do some inner dialogue that explains Anika's hag and how its different from Maum's hag -- the purpose is to explain to the reader what Anika's hag did and is like. And it would be easy to do that with simple 'a normal hag does this'; Anika's hag does that' comparisons. This is the 2nd book in a trilogy, titled The House of the Apparently Dead. I already completed the 1st one, called The Bad Death.

Then -- I want to update Bloodroom, find a new cover for it and sell it as an e-book for Kindle & Nook. Bloodroom is a novel that Catalyst Press published in 2003. You can buy it on Amazon from a dealer of out of print books. But wait for it! I'll have it out there soon. Then, I'll put one or two short stories from Night at the Demontorium on Amazon as e-short stories. Demontorium is a chapbook I wrote a few years ago with 4 stories. I'm two new stories shy of having a 10-story anthology version. I was never going to pitch that to traditional publishers anyway because anthologies are a hard sell if you're obscure. Thank you, Amanda Hocking for showing me how profitable and gratifying self-publishing e-books can be. You are my new Northern star. Check out Amanda's blog ( It's like writers are waking up to the fact that NYC publishers act like a bad boyfriend who's Just Not That Into us. Why have we been sucking up? And waiting, waiting, waiting passively to be accepted.