Paperback versions of the Sensor Series are out!

I know some people have been interested in getting paperback versions of the Sensor Series books that are out so far.  While Darkness Haunts has been available for over a year, I sort of slacked off on getting the other books done.  My apologies!

As of now, you can find all three books available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  They should be updating with other online retailers soon.  I also just got the new cover for Darkness Haunts updated to replace the old one.  For those who’d like to see what the full covers look like, I’m pasting them below:

 

 

Darkness Haunts full cover

 

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Though it may not be until early next month, I will see about doing some giveaways for them. Be sure to follow me here and on Facebook for the best chance of winning signed copies!

 

 

New Darkness Haunts cover!

Many of you will remember the original Darkness Haunts cover that I have been using for over a year now.  It was my first book and I was quite proud of it at the time I published it, but I also knew it wasn’t quite the right look for Melena.  Sometimes you just have to settle for what you can get (stock photos) and I couldn’t afford a professional photo shoot at the time.  My cover artist did a great job with it, though, and it drew in plenty of readers so I can’t complain.

But it was time for change.

After the awesome experience with the photo shoot for Chained by Darkness, I decided I had to redo Darkness Haunts.  It just couldn’t stay the same anymore.  I am very pleased with how it turned out and hope you all will be too!  So here it is:

 

Darkness Haunts cover

 

This was not done alone.  There are many people who helped make this cover come to life and they deserve a mention…

I enlisted the aid of several enthusiastic fans of the series who helped me with the planning for this cover.  Plus some other projects related to the series such as the Lucas promo pic in my last post and the soon to be revealed Darkness Divides cover.  Thanks to Heather, Rachel, and Kristy.  You ladies are awesome!

They worked hard with me to come up with the pose ideas, hair styles/make-up, wardrobe, props, and backgrounds.  I also had their help in selecting the right model after the casting call.  A lot of people don’t realize the level of detail that goes into these things, but it can be much more complicated than you’d think.  We exchanged countless emails and spent many hours researching potential ideas.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude!

I also have to thank my photographer, Teresa Yeh, for her amazing work.  She did a fantastic job coordinating this shoot and was so patient with my nitpickiness over all the details.  Not to mention me bombarding her with packages after I started ordering the wardrobe and props!  She did an awesome job of finding the right model to fit Melena’s look, too.  Haley (the model) did a great job of following my pose/facial expression guidelines and really captured the look I’d asked for!

It should be mentioned that we had one major hiccup just before the shoot.  The package I’d sent containing the weapons and related props got delayed due to the snow storms bombarding the northeastern US.  Despite my begging and pleading, UPS couldn’t get it there in time.  No way was I going through with the shoot if we didn’t have the weapons! The stylist handling the model’s hair and make-up came through for us, though, when she heard what happened.  Her husband offered up his gun and knife collection for us to use.  I certainly wasn’t going to complain if we could use real ones!  It was truly gracious of them and I can’t thank them enough!

You’d think I’d be done with my acknowledgements, but I’m not.  After the shoot took place someone had to do the artwork that goes with the model shot (the background and touching her up to fit it).  A big thanks to Claudia at Phat Puppy Art for her part in this.  She had this cover and the one for Darkness Divides done within a couple of days of receiving the shots.  I was blown away!

Then Ashley over at Bookish Brunette moved super-quick to get the typography on there so I could get it out as soon as possible.  The photo shoot took place on Sunday (February 16th) and you’re already getting to see it today (February 21st) despite the chain of people involved.  Truly, I have an amazing team.  This was definitely not a one person operation, but rather something far more complex!

So now onto my explanation for the design on this cover…

It should be kept in mind that it portrays Melena at the start of the series.  She’d had some rough experiences in her past that gave her an edge, but the things she was about to encounter in Alaska were unlike anything she’d faced before.  It’s the beginning of a journey that has continued to test her at every turn.  At this time, she was still innocent in a lot of ways when it came to the supernatural world.  Over the course of the books she’s had to learn to toughen up a whole lot more if she wants to survive (as you’ve seen).  This cover and the one you’ll soon see for Darkness Divides provide a stark contrast from how she appeared at the beginning and how she’s looking at the start of book 3.

Hope you all like the new and improved look.   I’m truly excited to be revealing it!  For those wondering, I am working to get a new paperback version available soon.  I’ll post an update once it’s ready 🙂

 

UPDATE!!!

The photographer, Teresa, was kind enough to share some behind the scenes photos of them getting Haley (the model) ready.  You can see Nadia, the stylist, working on Haley’s hair.  Nadia’s husband was even nice enough to jump in and help.  He was also the one to rig up the holster and knife sheath you see Haley wearing on the Darkness Haunts cover.  I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people for this shoot!

Behind the Scenes-1 Behind the Scenes-2 Behind the Scenes-3

 

Author Interview for the Melissa Craig and Charity Parkerson Show

Everyone seriously needs to listen to this episode.  For one, because I’m on it and I talk about my new novel, Darkness Haunts.  For two, because we had so much fun and got a bit (or a lot ) wild.  We talked about writing, publishing, music, and tons of other stuff.  Everyone who has listened so far has really enjoyed it.  My only warning is don’t exercise or do anything complicated while tuning in.  People have been known to nearly fall off treadmills from laughing too hard.  Also, keep any children out of hearing distance.  This is very much an adult interview. You can also load it for free from iTunes or on some Podcast apps.

Also, if you like the new theme song played on there, titled I will, check out Melissa’s post below to find out more about it and where it can be purchased.  I’ve already got it downloaded onto my iPod!  The video for the song is below as well.

New Theme Song for 2012 by Kayo Marbilus

About the main character- Melena Sanders

Woman's Silhouette on the waterI wanted to avoid some of the clichés that seem to abound within the Urban Fantasy genre (though not all books have these issues).  It might have been okay to read these things a time or two, but I wanted my character to stand on her own.  The following were some of my goals when creating her (and hopefully achieved):

1)  She is not rich, nor does she suddenly become so after being dirt poor.  Melena has to work just like everyone else.  She did save some money from a life insurance policy that paid her when her parents died years before, but it isn’t much more than what could get her through college.  She was raised in a nice, loving, middle-class family up to age fifteen.  It was only after that things got more difficult for her.

2) Melena is not invincible.  She does know how to fight, shoot, and use knives because of her military training, but she is still vulnerable in most of the ways any human would be.  Going up against much stronger supernaturals is dangerous for her and that doesn’t change as the story progresses.

3) She is practical and cautious.  This is one heroine who knows how to calculate the odds and plan accordingly.  A lot of this is because she served in the military for years and soldiers are taught to plan and weigh risks before acting.  I wanted her previous job to influence how she dealt with danger (even if now it is of a supernatural variety).  One of the most annoying traits seen in Urban Fantasy (UF)  is heroines who run right into obvious danger, repeatedly, with no plan or back-up.  Melena is a smarter gal.  If there is a way to put the odds in her favor or protect herself better, she is going to find it.  There is no blind bumbling around.  Of course, not everything goes like she hopes, but it wouldn’t be much of an exciting story if it did!

4) Melena is not going to be jumping into the bed of every guy she sees, but she isn’t going to be shy or inexperienced either.  Romance is going to be slow in coming because she has some commitment issues, but it will happen.  When she does finally fall for someone, it will be an explosive relationship.  Just don’t expect it to happen in the first book.

5) The narrative will have some snarkiness that is a common trait in UF.  Yet the main character will not be shooting her mouth off all the time at the great risk of getting herself killed.  I honestly don’t believe most UF heroines would have been allowed to live through some of the comments they’ve made to much more dangerous and powerful beings.  Anyone who follows the genre knows what I’m talking about.  It boggles the mind.  Melena might think some snarky things, but she rarely voices them unless she feels confident or comfortable with the person is saying them to.

6) There will be no prophecy in this series.  It has worked for some others in the past, but I wanted to move away from that theme.  I’ve seen it used too many times and hate that some writers use it as a crutch for their plot.  There will be groups of people (or races) that have a somewhat sacred “duty” but they aren’t forced to do it.  There is free choice in this fictional world and people must make their own decisions.  Melena will never be obligated to do anything because of what she is born as, but she will have to face the fact she has the ability to protect innocent people.  That will result in her having to make some tough choices.

7)  There will be no “end of the world” moments if the main character doesn’t do something to save it.  I actually like some of those story-lines, but wanted to avoid it in my own series.  A group of people or town might be in danger if she doesn’t help, but never anything on an epic scale.

8)Melena will never become the most powerful person on the planet (or even remotely close).  She will always have vulnerabilities and have to watch her step.  Her main strengths will be in using her head to think things out, surrounding herself with powerful people (which comes over time), and using the abilities she was born with.  She might pick up a few extra tricks/strengths along the way, but not enough to easily defeat someone (or something) much more powerful than her.  That will always require cunning on her part by using the advantages she has in the best way possible.

9) I will also say Melena is not a character who suddenly comes into powers she’s never had before.  She began learning to use her abilities when she was fourteen and has them fairly well mastered at age 26 (when Darkness Haunts begins).  This means she isn’t going to be one of those heroines that amazingly learns new powers fast, or bumbles around trying to figure them out.  She also knows a good deal about the supernatural world (though there is always more to learn).  Mel may have chosen to avoid the creatures it consists of, but she is familiar with them.  Her main hang-up will be having to interact with those other races since she was taught to be afraid of them by her mentor.

10)  Melena’s appearance- she is a pretty woman (though not gorgeous).  She won’t have men falling at her feet, but there will be a few attracted to her.  Her body is on the smaller side (no over-sized breasts for this heroine), but she is well-toned due to frequent exercise.  She knows she has to stay in good shape because she is already so much weaker than her enemies.  Being fit could mean the difference between life and death.

 

These are all factors I took into consideration when writing Darkness Haunts and will continue to follow in the successive novels of the Sensor Series.  It will hopefully help readers identify with the main character and perhaps even learn from her.  Though there are a lot of paranormal elements involved, I wanted it to be as believable as possible with such a fictional world being used.

Developing Character Backstories

Woman in red cape<— Yep, I like dark and mysterious photos.  This one looked like it needed to be posted.  Now, on to the main subject.

I think every writer has a different way of handling backstories for their characters.  In the beginning, I kept those data sheets many writing guides recommend using.  They are good for you to list basic details of each individual, but it’s easy to fill up the page as more information comes out in the story.

As the novel progressed, that wasn’t enough.  Several of my characters had long histories in my head and I wanted to write them down so no important details were lost.  This was also important because the plots for future novels were developing in my mind and I needed to set them up.  Basically, little hints were dropped in Darkness Haunts giving an idea for what might come to pass (or already had) for certain characters.  It’s not meant to be a complete picture, but enough to get the readers wanting to know more.  Further details of character backgrounds will be revealed over the course of the series and sometimes their past will return to haunt them.  What series doesn’t have this happen?  It won’t be too cliché, though.  I promise to make it fun.

At this time, I have the plot written for book two, a solid idea of book three, and a vague idea for book four.  It’s entirely possible a fifth book could be conceptualized, but I’m waiting to see how things go.  There is already a lot of material to work with, so I’m sure ideas won’t run out too soon.  It’s not uncommon for many writers to not know exactly how far they plan to go before stopping. I do like staying in one world so I can continue to build my characters and add new dimensions to them.  That the story doesn’t have to be confined to one book, though I may try and write a stand-alone someday.