Friday, July 27, 2012

Draculata Nest Cover Poll and Giveaway

SORRY FOLKS. THE POLL GADGET IS NOT WORKING AND WON'T ACCEPT ANY VOTES AFTER THE FIRST ONE. IF I CAN FIGURE OUT HOW TO FIX IT, I WILL AND THE GIVEAWAY WILL BE EXTENDED. THANKS FOR YOUR PATIENCE...
... OR FOR THE PATIENCE YOU HAD BEFORE YOU WASTED YOUR TIME TRYING TO VOTE!
   Actually, it seems to be working for some folks and not for others. Argh! I've spent half my life trying to fix something on a computer! Anyway, until I get it fixed I'll accept votes as an email to jhundley50@gmail.com - just follow the guidelines below...

   Happy Friday, everyone! At least it’s Friday here in North Carolina, USA.  I know I have a view viewers on the other side of the globe, and I’m unable to do the math or Google the time zones, so if it’s not Friday in your neck of the woods, Happy Friday in spirit!
   I’ve got a contest/giveaway to present to you this week, but first let me give y’all an update on what’s going on in my world…
   You know how life and life-style changes can be stressful, right? Okay, maybe some of you don’t. But, let me tell you, especially at my age, they are very much so. I entered back into the nine-to-five, 40-hours-a-week work world this week after being in school for the past two-and-a-half years. I’m having a hard time making the adjustment from running here and there all day to sitting on my ass for eight hours at a time. I can’t seem to find time to do essential activities like grocery shopping, laundry and house cleaning. And, worst of all, this is the first thing I’ve written all week!
   Now, I lived this way for most of my life up until I got laid off from my IT job back in 2009 and I used to manage okay. And in September of 2009 I made the transition to not working pretty seamlessly. Hmmm… what does it all mean? Well, the challenge I’m most concerned with meeting is finding chunks of time to write.
   Patience. It’ll happen. I’m sure. There’s more of the Red Wolf story to be told, at least another novel’s worth, and I don’t think the characters will allow me to keep it to myself much longer.
  
   Meanwhile, copies of the latest draft of The Dragon of Doughton Park went out to beta readers this week. My cover artist, Ray DeLotell, submitted the final offerings for The Draculata Nest and is working on conceptions for Dragon as we speak.

  And that brings me to this week’s poll/contest/giveaway…

  Help us decide on the new cover for The Draculata Nest!  Please cast a vote for one of the following art pieces (Vote by number – 1, 2, 3, or 4). Voting buttons are at the top of the page. Anyone who votes for the winning selection is eligible to receive a free copy of The Draculata Nest in ebook format (Kindle or Nook only – that’s all that’s available at this time). The voting will continue until the next blog post (roughly a week).



   To claim your free copy of DN, send an email to jhundley50@gmail.com along with the cover you voted for, an email address to which I can send your gift book, and the format of your ebook reader (again, only Kindle or Nook).

   Yeah, obviously you can cheat by waiting to see what selection is winning and send the email. I trust y’all. But all emails must be time-stamped before the contest ends when the next blog is posted.

   And if you don’t win, you can always purchase a copy by clicking one of the links below.
ebook for Kindle           ebook for Nook        DN in paperback




   Until next time… Happy Reading!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

It's Hard to Do Nothing


  Hi, folks. Well, my blog post is a little late this week due to the fact that I’ve been studying for, finally taking, and passing, my ADC exam. Whew! I’m glad it’s out of the way and I can return to my writing. I forced myself not to write for almost two weeks, and I can’t wait to get back!
  The final edits on the beta version of The Dragon of Doughton Park should be completed this week and sent out to beta readers. Thanks so much to my editing team! I really couldn’t have done it without you. And the cover art for both Dragon and a re-design of The Draculata Nest should also be ready soon. I’m lucky to have the talented artist, Ray DeLotell, working on that. He’s been sending me cover concepts regularly for the past few weeks, and I’m going to tease y’all with a few of them in the next several blogs. Check this one out, reworking the original theme for the cover of DN…

 
   Now, I was planning to elaborate more on the young women/old wolves theme from last week’s blog, but I have something I need to share instead.

   Do you have a minute? Great.

   I’ve been under some stress lately. Oh, not real stress. Ninety-five percent of the rest of the world would look at my life and say it was pretty cushy. I mean, I don’t want for food, shelter, safety – that sort of thing. I have friends and family, and I’m in remarkably good health considering my age and the sins of my youth. But, everything’s relative, right? Here’s the deal…

   I’ve never regarded myself as a type-A kind of guy, the kind who has to be juggling fifteen different activities at the same time and excelling in all of them. Ask either of my ex-wives who spent a great deal of time and energy trying to get my ass off the couch and do something – I can kick back and relax with the best of them. Or, at least, I used to.

   But when I lost my job in 2009 and decided to make a late-life career change, I dove into it head first, stroking and kicking all-out. I’ve worked pretty hard since then to complete two-and-a-half years of additional college work, including a nine-month internship, while maintaining a 4.0 GPA and writing the larger part of two novels. (Hey, that sounds pretty impressive when I say it like that, doesn’t it? Whatever. The point is…)

   I had one final academic hurdle to clear this past weekend before returning to the nine-to-five world, my ADC certification test. I’d been putting it off, using the excuse that I wanted to get this second novel ready for publication first, but that excuse began to not work anymore as the editing and cover design process dragged on. I finally bit the bullet, scheduled the test, started preparing for it and facing the nagging fears of the consequences of failure.

   Saturday morning I took the test. Like most things I worry about ahead of time, it wasn’t so bad. I actually did pretty well on it, and when it was over I decided to reward myself with some “down time.” I decided the rest of the weekend I would do absolutely nothing.

   I couldn’t do it.

   Now, when I go back to work on Monday and everyone asks me what I did, I’ll automatically answer, “nothing,” but I will be lying. And part of the reason will be that I’m ashamed to admit I tried and failed.

   I mean, my effort lasted all of three minutes! As soon as I got on the bus after leaving the testing center, the pull of alleged obligations hit me. Fine. I made the obligatory phone calls and texts to friends and loved ones, letting them know I’d passed the test. There, that was done. Time for nothing. In no time, my kindle was out of my pack and into my hand and I was reading (Stephen King’s 11/22/63). Wait, that’s not nothing. I’ll do nothing when I get home.

   At home, the laptop was suddenly out and I was on Facebook. Well, after all, I should let the world know I was doing nothing, right? After that, I’d really do nothing. No, after I caught up on my emails… and went for a bike ride… and played my guitar… and finished watching the better part of the third season of Chuck. I went to bed around 11:30 vowing to do nothing on Sunday.

    Well, I lay in bed this Sunday morning and actually did nothing for about ten minutes, so maybe I’m not a complete failure, but most of that ten minutes was spent in contemplating all the things I could be doing if I wasn’t doing nothing. So, I gave up, got up, and did something. Lots of somethings, really. And eventually, I did what many of us do when we can’t do something… or nothing… I blogged about it!

   Well, that’s all for now. As a reminder, this is the last chance to volunteer as a beta reader for The Dragon of Doughton Park. Just leave a comment or email me at jhundley50@gmail.com.

   As usual, if you want to learn more about The Draculata Nest so you can keep up with the blog or get ready for the sequel, click on one of the links below.

   Until then… happy reading!

ebook for Kindle                ebook for Nook              DN in paperback

Friday, July 13, 2012

Young Women - Old Wolves, Part I

Happy Friday the Thirteenth, y’all!

  I’ve taken a week off from working on The Dragon of Doughton Park while my editing and cover design teams slave away. I’m also taking some time to study for my SAC state certification exam coming up on the 21st (can’t ignore the day job completely, you know –y’all wish me luck), and while I immerse myself in counseling core functions and competencies I’m monitoring sales of The Draculata Nest.
   Yeah, sales of DN continue to trickle in (more of a drip than a trickle, actually) and more folks are adding it to their reading lists on Goodreads, yet my first novel has managed to stay pretty much under the radar so far. But, I was delighted to find a new 4-star review listed on Amazon this week, by TheOneTree “Debi”, from Australia.  You can click on the link to see all her reviews. I found it interesting, and you might, too.    TheOneTree "Debi" Amazon Reviews   The review of DN is the fifth one down.
  One thing Debi mentioned in her review of DN was how uncomfortable she was with the age difference in some of the characters. She wasn’t specific, in order to avoid spoilers, but I know what she was talking about. There is a physical attraction between the 60-year-0ld werewolf, Clifford, and the teenaged coed, Danielle.
   Debi was able to work through it and  ultimately enjoy the book, and so have most readers, but it can be an uncomfortable subject. (If it’s any consolation to you, Debi, think what my friends have had to deal with. Many of them have identified me with Clifford and have had to fight through the mental image of me in the sex scenes. Disturbing, to say the least!) The attraction between younger women and older men is a phenomenon with which I’ve always been fascinated.
   Clifford certainly has to deal with it. As a rejuvenated werewolf, genetically engineered for charisma, there is the inevitable issue of sexual attraction when he and young Danielle are thrown together. Here’s a scene that was ultimately deleted from the published version of The Draculata Nest, where Clifford and his old friend Kent bring the dilemma out in the open.
   Kent made a comment, almost sub-vocally, knowing Clifford would be able to hear him. “Were young girls as pretty when we were that age? They seem to get better looking every year.”
   “It sure seems that way to me,” agreed Clifford. “I wonder if it’s just the contrast between them and old farts like us, but it seems like there are more gorgeous girls of a younger age than ever before. I feel like a dirty old man most of the time at school. You should see some of the girls in my classes. Jeez.”
           “They all look as good as Danielle?”
           “Some. She kind of stands out, though.”
           “How’d you manage to hook up with her, anyway? What does she see in you?”
           Clifford shook his head. “I don’t know, Kent. Seriously, I don’t.”
           “I was making a joke, dufus. Don’t take it so hard.”
           “I’m old enough to be her grandfather.”
           “Yes, you are. So what?”
           “So, don’t you think that’s a little creepy?”
           “Not for you.”
           “What does that mean?”
    “I mean it’s natural for you. For all men, really, but especially for you. It’s a pattern for you, going for younger women. There was a difference in ages with you and your first wife, and your second wife was even more so, what, ten years?”
     “Fifteen.”
     “Right, so it’s natural that you should go for someone even younger now. It’s consistent behavior for you. It’s congruent.
             “Oh, fuck you.”
      Kent chuckled. “See, it’s like you doubled the age difference the first time, so you should double it again. No, wait. That would mean she’d have to be thirty. But, hey, nineteen’s the new thirty, I hear.”
             “You’re not helping.”
      “Oh, come on, man. I’m just giving you some shit. Honestly, I don’t see anything wrong with it. She likes you, a lot, for whatever reason. If I were you, I’d just roll with it and see how it goes.”
              “It’s going great now, isn’t it?” Clifford said, sarcastically.
              “Hmm, you got a point there,” Kent chuckled. “You should’ve considered your
        girlfriend might have been abducted by vampires before you got involved in the first place.”
        He sighed at his friend’s lack of response. “I’m kidding, dipshit. You have to stop blaming
        yourself for all this. You can’t help what you are.”
   So, is that it, do you think? We just can’t help what we are? That’s one of the theories I subscribe to, which parallels another theme in the Red Wolf Novels – that biological and social evolution cannot keep up with the advances of technology and civilization. Males still look for the young, healthy females of child-bearing age even though there is no practical necessity. Older women are no longer at risk in childbirth, nor are we that interested in creating children. And the pack structure of the werewolves, once an evolutionary survival trait, is now in danger of causing their extinction because it doesn’t fit with modern civilization.
   But in some cases, of which I believe Clifford Crane is an example, I think older men see in younger women a chance to go back and correct past mistakes, a do-over for the one that was lost or got away. And Clifford is definitely haunted by a lost love in his past, Claire Deerfoot.
   Well, that’s all for now. I’ll share more musings on the subject next week in part II. Meanwhile, if you want to learn more about The Draculata Nest so you can keep up with the blog or get ready for the sequel, click on one of the links below.
   Until then… happy reading!

ebook for Kindle                    ebook for Nook             DN in paperback

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Dragon Update with Excerpt

   Editing of the first draft of The Dragon of Doughton Park continues. So far, the consensus is the sequel is better than The Draculata Nest. So that means either I’m improving as a writer or there was a lot of room for improvement. Hey, probably a little of both, huh? Whatever. I’m pretty sure y’all are going to like Dragon, and I couldn’t resist posting one of the real action scenes in this week’s blog.

   First, a little setup. Clifford and his self-appointed bodyguards are returning from a successful battle with the vampires of the Outer Banks Nest. They are crossing the Dare Memorial Bridge (this is the longest bridge in NC, and rises 66 feet over the navigational channel of Pamlico Sound) in a fierce thunderstorm when they are attacked by a group of semi-automatic-wielding pets from a neighboring vampire nest. Oh, by the way, you have to remember… werewolves can’t swim.

Another volley of thunk’s and thwick’s rattled the vehicle. The rear windshield imploded, and they were showered with wet glass.
“I need to get out so I can change,” said Kendall.
“Don’t,” Nicole cautioned. “We’re sitting ducks on this side of the car.”
“Stay inside and down, everybody,” said Clifford. He glanced up speculatively at the sun roof. Another volley ripped through the vehicle.
“They’re gonna shoot us to pieces if we don’t get out,” said Cody.
“Hang on a second,” Clifford said. He rubbed his hand over Heather’s back. “Heather, you okay?”
“Head…hurts,” she said.
Okay, just stay down. I’m going through the roof. I’ll draw their fire."
Clifford took a deep breath and vaulted upwards, crashing through the roof and letting his wolf out. Outside, he found himself temporarily blinded by the driving rain, his hind paws finding uncertain purchase on the slick metal. He swiped the back of a forepaw across his eyes.He could make out a dark colored SUV sitting sideways across lanes about fifty yards ahead. Two armed figures crouched at either end. They were human. Why was that a surprise? Of course, they would have to be, this time of day.
He pushed all questions to the back of his mind. A third human stood frozen in his tracks about halfway between the two vehicles, staring in disbelief at Clifford. As he brought his weapon to bear, Clifford sprang.
He heard the bullets thunk into the roof behind him. As soon as he hit the ground, he sprang in the opposite direction, zigzagging his way towards the man as bullets continued to whiz past him from the man’s semi-automatic. He closed the distance quickly, and as one of the projectiles ripped through his side, his jaws closed around the man’s throat, cutting short a gurgling scream.
Another bullet took a piece from his flank as the ones crouched in cover behind the SUV opened fire. He bounded towards the far side of the bridge, drawing their fire away from his friends trapped in the SUV.
“I’m clear,” said Kendall.
“Me, too,” said Nicole.
Clifford glanced over his shoulder and saw Nicole and Kendall scurrying around to seek cover between the disabled SUV and the guardrail of the bridge. Seconds later, he could hear the wet cracking of bones and vertebrae as they began to change. He turned back to face his attackers.
Another figure emerged from the dark SUV and opened fire while his two companions reloaded. Hoping there were no more waiting to open fire, Clifford took advantage of the time it took the others to reload and bounded towards them, again in a zigzag pattern. Two more bullets ripped into his midsection before he reached the man.
Howling in rage and pain, he batted away the man’s gun with one paw and raked the other across his belly, disemboweling him. He looked up just in time to see one of the others running around the end of the vehicle. As the man raised his weapon to fire, Clifford hurled the body of his screaming victim and its trailing entrails in the shooter’s direction. The man’s screams were cut short as his companion’s bullets ripped into his ruined body.
Cody’s wolf suddenly appeared to knock the fallen one’s weapon from his hand. Clifford heard several muffled shots from the other side of the vehicle. “That one’s taken care of,” said Kendall.
“Don’t kill him, Cody,” said Nicole. “We need to ask him some questions.”
Clifford looked up to see Nicole’s snow white form standing beside Cody, who straddled, snarling, over the terrified human.
Clifford shook himself, dimly aware of the pain coming from numerous wounds. “Is that all of them?” he asked.
“Yeah,” answered Nicole. “Looks like there were only four. Uh oh,  maybe not. Look.”
They all looked up to see a set of headlights approaching rapidly from the western end of the bridge. More bullets whizzed past.
“Shit,” said Clifford. “Take cover.”
Cody let out a yelp as a volley of bullets riddled the body of the man under him, several ripping into his flank. He vaulted over to join the others hunkered down behind their assailants’ vehicle. He winced as he sat on his haunches beside Nicole. “Ouch.”
“You okay, sweetie?” Nicole asked.
Cody panted, his tongue lolling from the side of his jaws. “I will be.”
“Can you run?” asked Clifford.
“Maybe. Probably.”
“How about you, Kendall?”
“Not a scratch on me, Mr. Crane,” said the huge black wolf.
The approaching car, a black limousine, skidded past them and came to a stop in their direct line of sight. The wolves scurried around to the other side of the vehicle for cover as six armed men poured forth and opened fire.
“Where’s Heather?” said Clifford.
“I’m here,” Heather answered.
“Where’s ‘here’?”
“Here,” she said, as the body of one of the men crumpled against the limo and went still.
Heather, still in human form, stood over the body of first man Clifford had taken down. She had the fallen man’s semi-automatic trained on the group of attackers crouched around the limo. She fired again, taking down a second man.
The others immediately turned their weapons on her and opened fire. She dove to the side, rolled, and came up firing again.
Clifford howled and launched himself over the SUV and towards the men firing at Heather. His movement distracted them, and they brought their weapons to bear on him. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Heather crawl back to the body of the man lying in the road. She rolled the body on its side, using it for cover, and opened fire again.
The limo suddenly drove away, its tires squealing, leaving four panicked humans firing in all directions as the wolves slammed into them. Clifford could feel the pain of the others wounds mingled with his own as some of the bullets found their mark. Then, the shooting stopped.
Clifford looked up from the body of the man whose throat he’d just ripped open. He resisted the instinct to shake himself, knowing it would be too painful with all the wounds he’d sustained. Besides, the rain was still pouring down in sheets, the gusts of wind pushing waves of runoff-mixed-with-blood across the highway. There was no way a shaking would dry his pelt.
“How’s everybody doing?” Clifford asked.
One-by-one, the other wolves answered.
“I’m okay.”
“Alright.”
“Not too bad.”
“Me, too.”
“Heather?” He looked across the road to see her pushing herself slowly to her feet.
She stood shakily, her shoulders hunched forward and the borrowed weapon hanging loosely from her right hand. Her gaze was on the body in the road before her and her hair hung in wet clumps, hiding her face. She gave a tired wave with her left hand. “Who were these guys?” she called.
“I don’t know,” said Cody, “but they’re coming back. Look out.”
The driver of the limo had turned around and was fast approaching from the east, accelerating towards them. Everyone bounded for cover.
Except Heather.
She raised her weapon and drew a bead on the driver as the limo barreled towards them. White flowers of splintered glass bloomed across the windshield as she held down the trigger and tracked the path of the approaching vehicle.
A bullet smacked into her right shoulder, whipping her body ninety degrees and sending the semi-automatic flying from her hand. Two more slammed into her chest, sending her backpedaling into the guardrail of the bridge. Arms flailing, she hit the rail as a fourth impacted just below her collar bone.
Clifford watched in horror as her body teetered for a second on the railing, then disappeared over the bridge.
As the limo skidded past them and crashed into the opposite guardrail, Clifford launched himself towards the place Heather had gone over the rail. He covered the distance in three bounds, and, without hesitation, leapt over the guardrail after her.
The others stared in disbelief.

Yeah, that was a fun scene to write, one of many towards the end of the book. I tried to oblige my editing team by including more fighting in the sequel, which was pretty easy to do since the wolves are being drawn into full scale war, which will be the backdrop to Red Wolf Rising. If you’re interested in learning more about the world of the Red Wolf of Prophecy, click on one of the links below…

ebook for Kindle           ebook for Nook         DN paperback

Until next time, Happy Reading!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Special Holiday Blog: Dragon Teaser

    The second Red Wolf novel, The Dragon of Doughton Park, will be ready to send out to beta readers soon, perhaps as soon as next week, which means it might be ready for publication by the end of July. Cover art, copyrighting, and formatting for the paper and electronic versions are proceeding, and along with that must come the teaser, the quick-and-dirty blurb that will describe the book to online purchasers and appear on the back cover to entice brick-and-mortar store browsers.

   As a special Fourth of July holiday blog post, I decided to preview the teaser for The Dragon of Doughton Park. And as a bonus, and to take up space, since I’m sure most of y’all could give a hoot, I’ll explain the rationale behind what I’ve written. Here’s the teaser…


   Clifford Crane has led a tough life – failed marriages, bankruptcy, drug addiction, and a mind-numbing dead-end job. But he’s made it through, and now he’s a few short years from retirement. He’s looking forward to his golden years, until he meets an ancient Uwharrie Indian shaman, who turns him into a werewolf. She believes Clifford is the red wolf foretold in prophecy, the one who will unite the wolf packs and lead them to victory over the vampires for once and all time. Too bad she doesn’t tell him that before she dies. Now, rescuing beautiful young women from the clutches of the undead has its rewards, but will it pay the rent for the next thousand years?

   Everyone has accepted the Prophecy of the Red Wolf except the Red Wolf himself. Clifford would like to reclaim some semblance of a normal life, but there are three beautiful reasons he cannot cut his ties to the pack of werewolves of which he has become a part. There’s Heather, the sister of the Uwharrie Pack alpha, whom the pack has chosen as Clifford’s mate. There’s Nicole, the talented young Omega wolf, a seeming reincarnation of Clifford’s once and greatest love, who shares a strange and disturbing bond with him. And there’s Danielle, the gorgeous young vampire who currently shares his bed in a forbidden affair.

   Clifford faces a difficult choice indeed, but it may not be his to make. Powerful forces are afoot in the world, and to protect the ones he loves, Clifford must seek the help of the powerful Fae who foretold the prophecy in the first place, the one who might do anything to make sure the prophecy comes true, the mysterious Dragon of Doughton Park.

   The Dragon of Doughton Park is the second in a series of Red Wolf novels, depicting a world where vampires are mere generations away from realizing mankind’s destruction, the ultimate goal of the undead and the mysterious beings that created them.


   Does that grab you? I hope so. I’ll admit, it is a little misleading. It over-dramatizes a few of the plot elements and emphasizes the romantic aspects of the story. It’s kind of like seeing the previews to a movie, which can sometimes be put together so skillfully that the actual plot will end up being a complete surprise. But, hey, I just want you to open up the cover and start reading, because at that point, if I’ve done my job as a writer, the real story will keep you there.

   Those of you who read The Draculata Nest will recognize that first paragraph, and you’ll know by now that it has little to do with that story. It’s background material for the whole Red Wolf saga. I wrote it before the outline of the first book had been completely developed. I thought it described an interesting character and that it would be catchy. I decided to keep it as part of the teaser for each novel in the series. Unfortunately, it’s often the only part you see in electronic media unless you click on the <more…> button. Folks are probably getting tired of it already, but I’m sticking to it because, well, I’m more stubborn and loyal than smart (much like Clifford Crane himself I’m told).

   The next two paragraphs are specific to the book. Dragon revolves a lot around Clifford’s relationship with these three women. It’s not the whole story, like the teaser hints at, but the women in Clifford’s life have a lot to do with the direction he chooses to go. (Why? No, I’m not going there right now. That’s a subject for another blog… maybe.)

   The last paragraph was also part of the teaser for the first book, although it didn’t make it to the back cover due to space restrictions. It may not for this book, either, but it describes the backdrop against which the whole Red Wolf saga is played. And in Dragon, the purpose for which the vampires were created and the 12,000 year struggle between the wolves and the undead becomes more and more important.

   Anyway, I hope you like. Happy Fourth of July. As always, questions and comments are welcome. Until next time… happy reading!

   Want to buy The Draculata Nest so you can be ready for the sequel?
Amazon ebook           Barnes & Noble ebook