Monday 28 September 2015

When Characters Must Die…

My hubby and I have an ongoing joke. When a character is killed off or leaves a TV show, we call it a contract dispute. For example, the character of Lance Sweets from the show Bones was killed in the Season 10 opener. Boy that was a shocker! Other major characters have left or met their demise on other popular shows such as NCIS and CSI. The most recent contract dispute falls in the lap of Doctor Derek Shepherd who went out with a bang (literally) when his car gets T-boned by a truck, and he hangs on for dear life for at least a couple more episodes of Grey’s Anatomy. A sad day indeed. Sniff.

The exit of these characters got me thinking. When is it the right time to kill or remove a character from an ongoing book series? Is it when the character stops meeting the readers’ needs and expectations? Do the characters become boring? Stop growing? Refuse to change? Perhaps. I guess the best sounding board would be the readers. Listening to them on the social media or reading the reviews they post. Are they sick of Character X? Does Character Y make them want to vomit? Or do readers even relate to Character Z? Mind you, I’m not sure killing a character off would have the same effect in sales as it does for TV ratings, but you never know until you try. Bahaha…

However, if you kill the wrong character you’ll have blood on your hands and angry readers. Case in point—when Arthur Conan Doyle killed Sherlock Holmes by sending him over a waterfall with his arch enemy Professor Moriarty in tow, it wasn’t pretty. I mean for Sir Arthur, and the readers demanded satisfaction. Seriously? What was he thinking? Note to self: don’t piss your fans off!

In my time travel series, The Last Timekeepers, I’ve seriously thought about replacing certain characters to freshen up the series as it progresses, although nothing is written in stone yet. Readers are continually looking for new and improved characters to keep them invested in any series. That’s the reason why TV shows keep introducing new characters into a series. Even J.K. Rowling added new characters (and killed off a bunch) throughout her Harry Potter series.

So my question is: when must a character die or leave? I’m guessing there are so many answers to that question, but the reason I’d off one of my characters is when there’s no more room for character development or growth. That’s what Sir Arthur Conan Doyle attempted to do when he killed off Sherlock Holmes—he tied up all the loose ends and made sure Holmes lived a full life. Unfortunately, Doyle underestimated his readers, even though he wanted to cash out and move on to writing other books. And to this day, Sherlock Holmes has survived his creator, and duped death. Now that’s one loved character!

Thank you for reading my blog! So, what characters would you like to see killed/removed from your favorite book series? Love to hear your answers! Cheers! 

Monday 21 September 2015

Book Blog Tour: Sol of the Coliseum by Adam Gaylord...

Welcome to the Blog Tour for Adam Gaylord's New Novel ~

Sol of the Coliseum

Follow Along to Read Reviews, an Excerpt, and Spotlights.

Survival is an act of defiance.

About Sol of the Coliseum:

Deep in the bowels of the Coliseum of the mighty Astrolian Empire, the orphan, Sol, is raised by a makeshift family of guards and fellow slaves to become the most famed Gladiator in all the land. Alongside K'nal, his giant Frorian fighting partner, Sol must battle cunning warriors and fantastic beasts to delight the crowd and stay alive. But when an oppressed populace transforms Sol into a revolutionary folk hero, the Empire sends its most ruthless assassin to put an end to the uprising. Sol’s only chance is to do what no slave has ever done: escape from the Coliseum and the only home he’s ever known.

Follow the Blog Tour:

Title: Sol of the Coliseum

Author Name:  Adam Gaylord

Genre(s): Epic Fantasy, Adventure

Tags: Fantasy, Adventure, Epic, Coliseum, Gladiator

Length: Approx. 259 pages

e-Book:  978-1-987976-10-6 

Paperback:  978-1-987976-09-0

Release Date: September 17, 2015

Publisher: Mirror World Publishing (

Guest Post: Naming the Characters of “Sol of the Coliseum”

One of the things that’s both really fun and really challenging about writing fantasy is the freedom you have, as an author, when it comes to crafting your story’s world. In historical or contemporary fiction, the setting and structure of the world are pretty ridged. You can’t go switching around who fought who in a WWII story or have gryphons walking the streets of your Washington D.C. political thriller. I mean, you can, but then your story is a different genre (fantasy). As an author, having that set structure means 1) you don’t have to come up with a new world (although you do have to research the bejezus out of the real one) and 2) you don’t have a lot of room to play with. But in fantasy, the sky’s the limit. Actually, the sky isn’t the limit. There are no limits.

A great example of this freedom and challenge comes in the form of character names. You can’t rewrite the names of history in historical fiction, but you don’t have to come up with a bunch of crazy names either. And fantasy names are not only crazy but unique! It’s totally fine to have Kings Henry I-VIII but it’s a little more difficult pulling of Warf IV or DrizztDo’Urden Jr. (famous characters from Star Trek and novels by R.A. Salvatore, respectively). So authors have to come up with original fantastically fantastical names for their characters. It can be a real challenge but it’s also a lot of fun.

Take the names of the characters in my gladiatorial fantasy novel “Sol of the Coliseum”. Right off the bat we have the main character, the story’s protagonist and the title character, Sol. I love words and wordplay (which is one of the reasons I write) and Sol’s name is a good example of me having fun with words. Sol is of the coliseum, he was born and raised there. He is a son of the coliseum. In my mind, son equated to sun, and the Spanish word for sun is sol. Also, Sol’s character is a bit of brightness in the terrible dark that is the coliseum: another sun/sol reference.

One of my favorite characters, and I hope she’ll be yours, is Oci. She’s the mother hen of the coliseum slaves, always taking care of someone in need. Her name comes straight from my family. I had a great aunt Ociolla (who everyone called Oci) who was that type of lady (and made the best lemon meringue pie you’ve ever had).

The story’s main female protagonist needed a strong yet beautiful name. Strong and beautiful made me think of corral which led me to Korra.

“HOLD ON!” You’re probably saying. “Korra is the name of a name of a character in a very popular animated series, ‘The Legend of Korra’, and you just told us all about the importance of originality!”

You got me. Sometimes, purely by coincidence, names are repeated. But in all honesty, they’re both strong female characters that bring a lot to their respective stories so I’m cool with it. Besides, I started writing SOTC in 2005 and “The Legend of Korra” didn’t debut until 2012. Mine came first.

There are a lot more characters in SOTC but I’ll finish with one of my favorite names, the empire’s assassin and a truly unpleasant fellow, Lysik. Fantasy has a long history of naming villains by incorporating root words with nefarious meanings. Take the Latin “mal”, for example. It means bad or evil and has given rise to names like Maleficent and Malfoy. For SOTC, I fused together lie (as in telling an un-truth) and sick (as in this character is one sick SOB). A little morphing and we get Lysik, a bad guy for the ages.

I hope you enjoy the characters and the names of SOTC!

Read an Excerpt:

A baby’s cry.

Grall was sure that was what he’d heard. In the depths of the Coliseum a person became accustomed to various cries of pain or despair. Prisoners, men broken physically or mentally, called out in the night. Spoils, the women given to victorious fighters to do with whatever they saw fit, cried out often. The beasts, crazed by captivity and seclusion, howled and cackled. Even Grall, though the proud young guard would never admit it, sometimes fought back tears that came in the dark. Over time, one could learn to block out the sound completely.

But the cry of a child, an infant, a sound that had no place in this world, could not be ignored.

Grall made his way slowly down the roughly-carved stone hall, unenthusiastic in his search for the sound’s origin. He knew what was expected of him when he found the child. His stomach clenched at the thought.

“I don’t need this,” he thought aloud, his voice barely a whisper. “I should be in bed.” In truth, only minutes before he had lain wide awake, willing dawn to come and give him a reason to abandon his tossing and turning. With the day came his duties; blessed menial tasks he could lose himself in, briefly forgetting his loss.

Grall had come to the Coliseum only a few months before. He had been a guard in the city of Astrolia, capital of the Astrolian Empire, until he refused to participate in a drill using live captives. His protests changed nothing. The captives had died regardless and he had yet again angered his captain, the man that controlled his fate. As punishment he had been transferred to the Coliseum, a post feared by guard and soldier alike. Far more than the danger and brutality, what inspired dread for the post was that for all intents and purposes the Coliseum was a closed system. Be you slave or guard, once you entered it you probably didn’t leave. He had begged his captain, promising him utter obedience. But for the Captain, Grall had made it personal. It mattered not at all that Grall’s young wife had just given birth to their first son. Neither did it matter that he would probably never see either of them again. Even if he managed to be one of the few to live long enough to see retirement, his son would be grown with children of his own.

He had been all for packing their meager belongings and making a run for it, but his wife’s cooler head had prevailed, as always. They lived in the middle of the Astrolian Empire, two week’s hard ride in any direction from free lands if they had a mount, which they didn’t. She was still weak and sore, not yet recovered from a difficult childbirth. Most importantly, they had a brand new baby. In the best of times the road was no place to raise a child, and they would be in hiding.

“No,” she had answered stoically through her tears, “you will go to the Coliseum. You will send us your pay. I will raise our son.”

He protested and argued to the point of exhaustion, vainly fighting the logic in her words. Eventually he conceded, packing his bag and leaving his family, barely started, standing at their doorstep.

He still grieved for the son he would never know.

And now there was this.

“I don’t need this,” he repeated to himself, stopping outside the door to the women’s barracks.

They had promised to take care of it.

He knew the mother. She was a slave in the luxury boxes. As sometimes happens, one of her wealthy male patrons had an eye for her and he raped her after she refused his advances. She’d hid the pregnancy well at first but eventually her condition became all too obvious. Grall had been sent to deal with it. The women of the barracks had assured him that though uncommon, such things were not unheard of. The baby would be disposed of in a quiet manner. He had relented.

An infant howling down the halls was not a quiet manner.

Grall took a deep breath and opened the door. His broad frame and barrel-chest filled the doorway while he let his eyes adjust to the dimly-lit barracks. Women were sitting awake in their bunks, eyeing him with considerable disdain. He made his way down the candlelit center aisle toward the source of the disturbance, avoiding the hostile glares and trying to keep his face passive. He didn’t want to be here any more than they wanted him here. The object of his quest lay wrapped in a blanket and was held by a rather large cook. He saw the mother lying in a bed off to the side, unmoving. The sheets were soaked with blood but it was her face that drew his gaze. She had obviously been beaten, badly.

“She panicked,” the cook said flatly to answer his unasked question. “She confronted the father. He did that and she gave the last of her strength giving birth to this boy. We’ve named him Sol.”

A heavy silence settled over the room; the baby was finally quiet, as if showing respect to his deceased mother. Grall’s gaze lingered on the dead slave, her many bruises contrasting with her pale skin and long blonde hair. In life she had been beautiful, a curse for a woman in the Coliseum. In the peace of death she still held her beauty, despite the violence she had encountered.

“And now you’re here,” the cook broke the silence accusingly.

“I’m sorry. Melina was well liked,” he said, attempting civility.

The cook nodded. “She never let this place get to her.”

He nodded, recognizing the compliment. There was a long pause.

“You can’t keep it,” he said plainly, surprised at the feeling he was able to keep out of his voice. Several hisses sounded behind him. The cook neither responded nor moved. She just sat holding the child.

“You know the rules as well as I.” He could feel the animosity radiating onto his back from the bunks.

“What life could he hope to have here?” he asked, almost pleading, bristling at the tone of his own voice. He was a guard of the Coliseum; he didn’t need to explain himself. Who were these women and this cook who sat unmoving? Had they taken care of things as they promised, he wouldn’t have to be down here at all.

He straightened up. “I’ll deal with it,” he said firmly. Moving the last few paces toward the cook, he felt the women stir behind him. The cook made to strike him and several cries of protest sounded as he reached for the baby. But something unexpected happened, something amazing. As Grall reached for the bundle, his hand was met by the child’s. Without fear and with a strong little grip, the baby grabbed one of Grall's fingers and held. He froze, as did the women.

Had it been any other guard, hard and embittered with years of service, nothing would have changed, but for Grall that tiny hand struck with the force of a blow. He shuddered visibly, staring wide-eyed at the child. All was still. Grall knew his duty, what was expected of him. The problem with duty was that it belonged in the Coliseum and he was no longer in the Coliseum. Looking at this tiny baby, feeling it holding his hand, the guard was home.

The little hand holding his finger melted Grall's resolve. The women saw it immediately and smiles passed around the bunks. Grall didn’t see them, he only saw the child. He sighed and then without a word he slowly straightened, turned, and walked back the way he had come.

From that moment on, Sol was a child of the Coliseum.

Purchase Links:


Mirror World Publishing

Meet the Author:

Adam Gaylord lives with his beautiful wife, daughter, and less beautiful dog in Loveland, CO. When not at work as a biologist he’s usually hiking, drinking craft beer, drawing comics, writing short stories, or some combination thereof. He’s had stories published in Penumbra eMag, Dark Futures Magazine, Silver Blade Magazine, and Plasma Frequency Magazine, among others.

Monday 14 September 2015

Dos and Don’ts for Reading at an Author Event…

The beginning of September proved to be a busy start for myself and 5 other authors who celebrated our summer of new releases through Mirror World Publishing. I also got a chance to meet long time author peep, Rita Monette who came all the way from Tennessee. Even the Nordic god Thor showed up via the brilliant flashes of light behind the authors as they read from their most recent book. When all was said and done, the night was quite profitable for all the authors, so a big thank you to all those who braved the traffic and the thunder storm to attend our special night!

Throughout the evening, I noticed a few glitches during the readings, plus listened to some good advice from the people in attendance. So I compiled a list of dos and don’ts from what I gleaned during our author reading event...

Do speak up. I know this is a no-brainer. The venue we were reading in had poor acoustics, so that made it even harder for a soft spoken person. Perhaps having a microphone or 
Karaoke machine on hand would eliminate this problem in the future for similar venues.

Do introduce yourself. Tell your readers (or future readers) a little about your past and how you got into writing. Keep it short and simple and interesting.

Do thank everyone for coming. Again, a no-brainer. Practice the attitude of gratitude.

Do pick an excerpt that will hook your audience. I did not, according to a few comments, and now thinking about it, I must agree. *Head desk* Make your reading exciting, not boring. I did manage to change my voice and mannerisms for certain characters, so I get a thumbs up for my performance.

Don’t forget to shut off your cell phone, or turn off the ringer. Um…should be a no-brainer, but obviously a couple of people did not do this. One person actually answered his phone DURING A READING. Not cool. Please be respectful to the authors and audience.

Don’t forget to acknowledge your publisher. After all, you wouldn’t be there without them!

Don’t forget to mingle and mix with the audience.  You want them coming back to your next book reading event!

So there you have it, my dos and don’ts based on my first experience participating in a group author reading event. Whether you’re an author or a reader, do you have anything else you could add to this list? Would love to read your comments! Cheers!

Monday 7 September 2015

Book Blog Tour: The Legend of Ghost Dog Island by Rita Monette...

Behind every legend lies the truth…

About The Legend of Ghost Dog Island:

Moving is nothing new for ten-year-old Nikki Landry. Her father relocates their raggedy old houseboat several times a year in search of better crabbing spots. However, their latest move has brought her to a mysterious bayou where she feels something is watching her from a nearby island.

Nikki learns of a local legend about something sinister inhabiting those swamps, stealing the souls of dogs...which would explain the strange howling sounds. Papa reassures her there’s nothing on the island but gators and snakes. He should know. He’s spent his whole life trapping and fishing those bayous and swamps…But maybe there’s something Papa doesn’t know.

Nikki and her new friends begin to uncover strange happenings from years ago that may have started the old legend…and town folks aren’t talking.

Then her beloved beagle goes missing.

Join Nikki as she seeks to discover the real truth behind the legend of Ghost Dog Island…before it’s too late.

Character Interview:

I’d like to introduce Nikki Landry, who is the main character in my Series, Nikki Landry Swamp Legends. Nikki lives in the bayous of Louisiana, in a houseboat, perpetually in the 1950s. She likes to help her papa catch crabs and she isn’t too crazy about school, especially since she moves several times a year and has to continually be the new kid in school. So without further ado, here’s Nikki:

Welcome Nikki. You look like a pretty tough young girl. Is there anything you are afraid of?

Well, I am tough. My papa always says so. But, I’m kinda scared of what might be in that swampy place Papa calls Ghost Dog Island. Does it really have a creature out there that steals dogs? Will it come after my best buddy, Snooper? Lots to worry about you know.

So, can you tell the readers your best or worst memory?

My best memory is playing with my best friend, Lydia in her treehouse.

The worst memory is when we had to move when I was mad at her. I thought it would make me not care about leaving, but it didn't work out that way. It made me all mad and sad at the same time. Ugh!

What would you say is your biggest strength? Weakness?

My biggest strength is that I am a good riddle solver. Just ask anyone. *beams with pride*

My biggest weakness is that I get myself in trouble sometimes by not telling the truth. I really gotta work on that.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Whats a pet peeve? Is it something like a possum? Ive never had one of those. I hear they are mean. I don’t think I want a pet peeve.

Your series’ tag line is “behind every legend lies the truth.” Do you think people should always seek the truth?

Yes. And even when I get caught not telling the truth, my papa always finds out. It’s what papas are good at.

But, my stories are about me setting out to learn the truth behind legends I hear about that don’t make no sense. That’s more like trying to solve a mystery. I love doing that, even though most of the time I get in trouble doing it.

So Nikki, If you were stranded on an island and could only have three things (items or people), what would you choose to have and why?

Island? I’d never want to be stranded on no island. I went out there to Ghost Dog Island with my friend, Spikes, and I wouldnt want to be out there by myself, what with gators, snakes, and mosquitoes. But if I did get stranded, Id want a flashlight for sure, and my dog, Snooper. A boat wouldnt be a bad idea either

Book Details:

Title: The Legend of Ghost Dog Island

Author Name: Rita Monette

Genre(s): Middle Grade, Adventure, Mystery

Tags: Adventure, mystery, middle grade, louisiana, bayou, dogs

Length: Approx. 204 pages

E-book:  978-1-987976-00-7
Paperback:  978-0-9947490-9-3

Re-Release Date: September 1, 2015

Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing

Amazon Link:

Mirror World Publishing Links:



Meet the Author:

Rita Monette was born and raised in Southwest Louisiana. She loves to write stories set in the beautiful, yet mysterious, bayous and swamps of her home state.

Her middle grade series, The Nikki Landry Swamp Legends, is based on tales told by her father—who made his living in those bayous—of reasons to stay out of the swamp.

She currently lives with her husband, four lap dogs, and one lap cat, in the mountains of Tennessee. Besides writing and illustrating, she loves watching the many birds that make their habitat on the Cumberland Plateau, working in the garden, and frequenting waterfalls.

Follow the Tour to Read Exclusive Excerpts, Guest Posts, Reviews, and a Character Interview: