Friday Fiction Feature

FictionReboot2Welcome back, ladies and gents to the Friday Fiction Feature and your usual host Tabatha! This week we continue the monster theme, so quickly grab your silver and stakes, get under the covers, and join us for some really sharp fiction!

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Starting off this week’s feature is the reason we’re so vamp’ed for the 2nd edition monster mashup:

Villagers by Brandy Schillace

Villagers (Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles #2)I know, I know, it’s bad form to toot your own horn, but Brandy isn’t writing this, Tabatha is, so I get to toot all I want! And this week we’re celebrating the release of The Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles Book 2: Villagers where Brandy brings us back to Newport News and the thrilling world of love, adventure, and teenage journalism! (Also in kindle!)

It’s not easy being the only unofficial vampire at Newport News High–especially when your sister starts dating the local jock (and first-class jerk) Tony Peterson. Convinced that Tony is up to something, Jacob and his best friend Henry hatch a plan. Jake’s investigative journalism doesn’t break up Lizzy’s romance, but it does lead him to some unexpected twists. Teaming up with co-newsie Trish Cohen, Jake and Henry take on a suspicious case of bike thefts–in between trips to the hospital for more tests (and more needles).

Will Jake be able to thwart an increasingly prying medical community to keep the blood supply flowing? Will Peterson and his posse clean Jake’s clock?
More importantly, will Jake ever get a date to Homecoming?

Now that I know you’re all as excited as me for the release of the Maresbeth sequel, lets see about some vampires who are a little more certain of their monstrous status.

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire by Kerrelyn Sparks 

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire (Love at Stake, #1)Our next contribution features a new kind of identity confusion with a heroine who desperately wonders, ‘Do I have what it takes to stay a dentist?’ before she even knows what a sharp career path that can be. And so, without further ado, I present a book with a title I just couldn’t resist repeating: How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire

Roman Draganesti is charming, handsome, rich…he’s also a vampire. But this vampire just lost one of his fangs sinking his teeth into something he shouldn’t have. Now he has one night to find a dentist before his natural healing abilities close the wound, leaving him a lop-sided eater for all eternity.
Things aren’t going well for Shanna Whelan, either. After witnessing a gruesome murder, she’s next on the mob’s hit list. And her career as a dentist appears to be on a downward spiral, because she’s afraid of blood. When Roman rescues her from an assassination attempt, she wonders if she’s found the one man who can keep her alive. Though the attraction between them is immediate and hot, can Shanna conquer her fear of blood to fix Roman’s fang? And if she does, what will prevent Roman from using his fangs on her?

Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson 

Keeping with the romances that really suck, Vampire Crush shows a normal world with a normal, intelligent, girl suddenly caught between the desire to uncover the mysteries of a high school full of students who want to stay after classes end, and the more baffling conundrum of cute boys.

Vampire CrushI swear, my life was always totally normal.

 Normal house, normal family, normal school. My looks are average, I don’t have any superpowers, no one’s showing up to tell me I’m a princess – you get the picture. But when my junior year started, something not normal happened. There were new kids at school . . . new kids with a wardrobe straight out of a 19th-century romance novel, and an inexplicable desire to stay at school until sundown.

And on top of that, James Hallowell showed up. James, who stole my sandwiches in fourth grade and teased me mercilessly through middle school. James, who now seems to have the power to make my heart race any time he comes near.

But something weird is going on. Because James rarely goes out during the day. And he seems stronger than your typical guy. And he knows the new kids, all of whom seem to be harboring some kind of deep secret. . .

Chibi Vampire by Yuna Kagesaki

Chibi Vampire, Vol. 01In Yuna Kagesaki’s Chibi Vampire we’ve got a vampire as confused as Jacob and with even more baffling symptoms. While Brandy’s intrepid journalist can’t decide if drinking blood makes him a vampire, this next monster knows she’s a vampire, but hasn’t quite figured out the drinking blood part.

Karin is a cute little girl who also happens to be a vampire… with a twist. Once a month, she experiences intense bleeding from her nose – we’re talking gushers! In other words, she’s a vamp with blood to spare, so rather than stealing blood from humans she actually gives her blood to them.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Another in the line of my never-ending quest of fill academia with adventure, I bring you The Historian

The HistorianTo you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history….Late one night, exploring her father’s library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to “My dear and unfortunate successor,” and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of-a labyrinth where the secrets of her father’s past and her mother’s mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula…Parsing obscure signs and hidden texts, reading codes worked into the fabric of medieval monastic traditions-and evading the unknown adversaries who will go to any lengths to conceal and protect Vlad’s ancient powers-one woman comes ever closer to the secret of her own past and a confrontation with the very definition of evil. Elizabeth Kostova’s debut novel is an adventure of monumental proportions, a relentless tale that blends fact and fantasy, history and the present, with an assurance that is almost unbearably suspenseful-and utterly unforgettable.

Vampire by Richie Tankersley Cusick

VampireFinally I will leave you with another book whose cover just dares you to leave it behind, Vampire. With all the old staples: a haunted house, monsters, solitude that isn’t quite as solitary as you think, hunky men, and a threat which dates back to dear old Vlad, this book doesn’t miss a thing.

It’s Darcy Thomas’ summer home: the Dungeon of Horrors, owned by Jake, the gorgeous green-eyed uncle she’s just met. But the gory fun turns to terror when real bodies are found with the mark of a vampire on their throats–and Darcy is targeted as the next victim.

The Admission: A Rogue Academic on Fiction

AuthorThe secret is decidedly “out.” I write fiction. I even get it published. And it’s not literary fiction, either; I write young adult novels about a 16 year old boy suffering from a blood disorder (that may or may not be vampirism). But I am a scholar, too. I work in a museum. I teach a class on the history of science. I edit a medical anthropology journal. The cocktail party query “So what do you do?” is never easily answered, but I find that more often than not, I tell people I am some stripe of academic.

Let me tell you why that’s ironic. For one thing, I am an alternative academic, or “altac.” I have a PhD, but I left a tenure track job (on purpose) to pursue something else in a new field. I work as a research associate and guest curator now, in the Dittrick Medical History Center. I do public engagement, lectures, exhibit work, etc. A cursory glance at my twitter feed will tell you that I’m besotted–I love this job like none I’ve ever had before. But as my chief curator will tell you, museum staff aren’t always highly regarded by other types of historian academics. We are on the fringes, roaming, free-range mavericks. That is partly why I like it. So why–after leaving Academe proper–do I still use that as my moniker? Why not say, for instance, “I am an academic AND a fiction writer”?

I think there is a point in each child’s life when he or she wanted to be an artist. A little older, and maybe half of them would have traded artist for famous writer, just like the ones they read at bedtime… and even after bedtime, with the flashlight. Why do most people give up on that? Well, there’s the whole issue of talent, obviously. But I don’t really think that’s it. I think it’s the years of being told that you’ll starve to death. Or worse, the years of faintly patronizing refrains of “how nice.” We are encouraged to be practical and wage-earning. Pursue what will be taken seriously by others. Chase after careers with easily recognizable tags: Lawyer, doctor, accountant, investor, architect. We are not told to pursue art historian, philosopher, grocer, herbalist, writer, artist, or even home-maker. And we are completely discouraged from pursuing those careers without names, those collections of positions strung together with grant money and hope (ahem, that includes many a museum professional, by the way). So I got into the habit of hiding the fact that I wrote fiction. And this habit continued right into my academic career.

By the time I arrived in my tenure track position, I had learned that fictive output wasn’t terribly well respected even among those getting English degrees. As a matter of fact, I had a graduate colleague who claimed never to read popular fiction; what did the masses know about quality anyway? Even literary fiction is no guarantee of respect. I have a tenured colleague who, three novels later, still struggles to be taken seriously in her department. How is it that academic writers never feel safe admitting that they write? Surely we are helping to create this problem by downplaying the hours of work we’ve poured into something–oh, it’s nothing, it’s only fiction. One answer is that so many people claim to be writers, and we don’t want to get caught up in that. But isn’t that a bit like deciding not to read what’s popular just because it is popular?

So. Where do we find the proud writers? They are the ones with no inhibitions. Sometimes their work may not even be all that fabulous–but they are proud of it. Proud that they put pen to paper. We should be like them. That voice that whispers in your ear (and has since your dissertation) with derision and scorn must be gagged. This is fiction. These are the wide and welcoming plains. Sprint. Cartwheel. Stop the mincing stride that carried you through the minefields and dash with child-like abandon. We won’t always be brilliant. Our novels–my novels–aren’t going to end world hunger, but hey, my monograph isn’t going to do that either. Take the plunge. Broadcast the admission: I am a writer.

Are you?

HIGH STAKES Book I of the Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles is out now. Book II, VILLAGERS releasing soon. See the Goodreads page or find them on Amazon.

Cover Reveal: Jacob Maresbeth Chronicles

FictionReboot2Not every author is given the opportunity to design a book covers. Let’s face it, not every author wants to! On the other hand, if you are an artist yourself, it can be difficult to refrain from leaping into the ring and making suggestions. I spent part of my young life doing portraits and graphic work, as well as freelance web design, and I’ve done illustrations for other publications. As a result, I have a tendency to get the finger-twitch when it comes to cover design. Luckily for me, my non-fiction publisher (Elliott and Thompson) employed a truly gifted artist for my upcoming cultural history of death–but more than this, they asked for and listened to my input. (I’ll have a cover reveal and press release on the Daily Dose soon for that, I promise).

Feeling that your publisher understands you (and your story) remains one of the keys to a successful relationship. After speaking with the editor of Cooperative Press about ideas for the upcoming fiction trilogy, The Chronicles of Jacob Maresbeth, I was encouraged not only to participate, but to design. We collaborated, working with templates, and after several mock-ups the first book’s cover took shape. I am happy to present the result–not as my lone artistic vision, but as a happy collaboration with people I trust and admire:

high-stakes-frontcover
My usual medium: colored inks and paper, hand-drawn

This is still an uncorrected proof (text font will be different), but you get the idea. We are presently working on the cover of chronicle two, and I’ve already done the mock-ups for cover three. It has been a delight to work closely with my publisher and editors at Cooperative Press, just as it has been wonderful working with Elliott and Thompson. I know there are plenty of bad experiences to be had, but we should celebrate golden moments when our interests and those of our press align.

Happy writing!