What’s Your Preference?

Critique groups, beta readers, craft books, what do you use to polish your work? Join the discussion over at Story Empire.

Story Empire

Hello, SE Friends. Mae here today, ready to talk support and organizations. As authors when we sit down and peck away at the keyboard, it’s a solitary process. If you’re like me, you have a cat poking in every so often and strolling across your keyboard or curling up on your desk. Or maybe you have a playful pup dropping a toy at your feet and demanding attention. And of course, there are interruptions from kids and spouses, but for the most part, when we sit down to create it’s us and our characters.

Woman typing on laptop and sitting on floor with fluffy cat

That’s all well and good during the creation process, but what about learning, marketing, and brainstorming with other authors? That’s where we all need support organizations and those special author friends who make up our inner circle. In this article I thought I’d take a look at some of the backbone of support authors rely upon.

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Cleaved by Sue Coletta

The Mystery Surrounding Antlers

Fans of the TV show Hannibal know the cannibal psychiatrist and gourmet chef—although his ingredients are quite questionable—often uses deer antlers to create macabre crime scenes. Some may think the creators of the show stole the idea from HBO’s True Detective, but that isn’t the case. The original idea stemmed from Stephen King. In his 1979 hit Salem’s Lot, King impaled one of the characters with antlers. They say it takes three repetitions to create a trend, and perhaps there’s some truth to that.


Antlers intrigued me enough to write them into my new novel, CLEAVED.


In preparation, I did extensive research into deer antlers. Specifically, white tail deer, the only breed that live in New Hampshire, where the story takes place. The reason antlers and murder elicit such a strong reaction might be because the deer symbolizes purity, rebirth, and regeneration. By showing the antlers of such a majestic creature next to the darkness of murder it strikes at our fears. Subconsciously we think, if the killer could use an innocent animal in this way, maybe none of us are safe.


It’s precisely this symbolism that sent me down a rabbit hole of research. Or was it a jackrabbit hole? LOL Sorry, couldn’t resist.


Finding a way to incorporate antlers into the MO so it made sense became a much harder task. Deer antlers weren’t enough, though. I needed more. So I included the King of Hearts playing card, women encased in oil drums, birch trees, and nursery rhymes. Sounds crazy, I know, but I promise it all makes sense in the end.


Many mysteries surround antlers.

Why do deer shed their antlers? Why do only males and hermaphrodite deer grow antlers? How do antlers grow faster than any other vertebrae bone on earth?

I share some of the mythology and symbolism in the book, so I won’t share it here. A few interesting facts I didn’t include are…

Hardened antlers (not in velvet) are made up of 45% protein, 22% calcium, 11% phosphorous, and 1% fat. They also contain magnesium, sodium, aluminum, potassium, copper, manganese, and zinc.

The chemical composition varies according to location and is affected by other factors, like soil and the amount of rainfall during the antler growth cycle.

Antlers respond to their environment. Genetics, age, and diet are the three key factors.

Even though only male deer and moose grow antlers, there are exceptions, like caribou, elk, and reindeer. Although, with the exception of reindeer, they’re then called “horns”.

Why do female reindeer grow antlers when their southern cousins do not?

Here’s a tidbit for speculative fans. The now-extinct Irish Elk, known as the Giant Deer Meglasaurus Gigantus, lived until 5,000 B.C. Analysis of its bone and teeth from scientists showed the huge herbivore stood 7’ tall with gigantic antlers that spanned 12’ across and weighed up to 80 lbs. Imagine running into him? Whoa.


No matter the amount of research, no one really knows whyantlers antlers exist.

Scientists have theories, but no concrete proof. Some theories are…

To acquire a mate. The bigger the antlers, the better the quality of male. (I’m not commenting on that, especially while on a man’s site)

They’re used as weapons to fight off other males, even though many times a gorgeous rack is enough to make the lesser male stand down.

Defense against predators.

What blows the first two theories are female reindeer. If antlers exist merely to attract potential mates, then why do any females grow them? Some scientists believe horned (caribou) or antlered (reindeer) females who live out in open use them for protection and so they don’t stand out from the male members of society.They also use them to clear snow.


With regard to moose, they say the antlers are used as large hearing aids. But then, why don’t females grow them? Are female moose deaf? Or do they just not care what male moose have to say?


As I mentioned earlier, environment plays a key role in antler growth. The photo period is the 24 hour period where the deer are exposed to sunlight. In the summer we have longer days. During which bugs produce higher levels of testosterone, which triggers antler growth. Antlers start out as cartilage in velvet,which is fuzzy and rich in blood vessels. If we were to pet thevelvet, the antlers would be hot to the touch.


When the bugs go through a second cycle of testosterone, it triggers mineralization and hardening of the antlers. In the fall when the sunlight diminishes, deer rub their antlers against trees, other plant life, and bugs. This removes the velvet to reveal bony antlers. They carry these hardened antlers through the fall and winter. In the spring, the bugs drop in testosterone level signals another change. Within days of this drop, the antlers release from their pedicles. In other words, the deer sheds its antlers. A scab-like material grows over these pedicles and the cycle repeats, with these new growth cells.


Cool, right?

 

Blurb:


Author Sage Quintano writes about crime. Her husband Niko investigates it. Together they make an unstoppable team. But no one counted on a twisted serial killer, who stalks their sleepy community, uproots their happy home, and splits the threads that bond their family unit.

Darkness swallows the Quintanos whole–ensnared by a ruthless killer out for blood. Why he focused on Sage remains a mystery, but he won't stop till she dies like the others.

Women impaled by deer antlers, bodies encased in oil drums, nursery rhymes, and the Suicide King. What connects these cryptic clues? For Sage and Niko, the truth may be more terrifying than they ever imagined.


Want to see how I used antlers in CLEAVED? Save $5.00 by pre-ordering now. Only 99c: http://smarturl.it/Cleaved


Bio:

Member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers, Sue Coletta is a multi-published, award-winning author. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies and collections, including a forensic article in InSinC Quarterly. In addition to her popular crime resource blog, Sue co-hosts the radio show “Partners In Crime” on Blog Talk Radio. She’s also the communications manager for the Serial Killer Project and Forensic Science and founder of #ACrimeChat on Twitter, where she helps other crime writers' stories ring true.

She lives with her husband in a quaint country town in rural New Hampshire where she's surrounded by moose, deer, black bears, and the sultry songs of nature. Course, Sue would love to snuggle with the wildlife, but her husband frowns on the idea.


Connect with Sue at the following locations:


Twitter/Facebook/Goodreads/Amazon

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Guest robot: Lisa Burton – An invitation

Lisa the robot girl pays a visit to Daily Echo with some great promotional opportunities. Stop by and say hi.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

How much would you pay to reach a potential audience of say, a hundred thousand readers? And what if, instead, you could do that for FREE, with no strings attached?

Writers need to promote their work… interviews, guest posts, radio shows…they are all excellent ways of getting your work seen and, hopefully read. There are any number of sites willing to make holes in your hard-won and often meagre royalties by offering you advertising space, or nameless (and possibly non-existent) followers and who will charge you to appear on their blog or website. While everyone needs to make a living, and while there is nothing wrong with investing money, as well as your time to promote your work, why pay for what you are being offered for free?

There are very many people offering guest spots to writers. WordPress bloggers will also post their links across many social media platforms…

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What Your Author Website is Likely Missing

Staci has a neat marketing tool for us over at Story Empire today.

Story Empire

BlogHi, SEers. Forgive me for being a hypocrite, but today’s post is going to be a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do post. Remember, I used to work in corporate communications, so I know marketing strategies. (That doesn’t mean I use them myself; it just means I know them.)

Okay… Unless you literally just decided to become an author today, you almost definitely have an author website. Hopefully you’ve included the basics:

  • landing page to advertise news and collect email addresses
  • blog to share content, generate interest, and remain fresh in the minds of your fans
  • book pages so your work is well-defined and easy to find
  • about page to introduce yourself to new visitors
  • social media links so people can find you elsewhere online
  • contact page so your readers can reach you
  • platform-wide cohesion and pleasing design

Many authors stop there. Okay, let’s be honest—many readers fall short in some/most/all of those categories.

  • Their…

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The weekend… ends

I don't have much of a progress report. After the trip to Shoshone Falls, we turned Saturday into an errand kind of day. Pretty mundane lifestyle things mostly.

We had date night at Ruth's Chris Steakhouse. The food is always great, but I always think I could have gotten two steaks elsewhere for the same price.

Today, I finally got around to my reading. I spent several hours getting past the halfway point of a very good book. My eyes got too tired to go on, or I would have. Reading has to be a priority for me now. I have my RRBC club goal to meet for this quarter, plus I accepted a beta reading project and an ARC for review project that I need to finish before May.

I still have Yak Guy waiting around for me, and the delay brought me some clarity on his journey. I know what to do to reach the conclusion. I simply need to find the time to bring it all together. Since I don't have a publisher breathing down my neck, it has to wait for higher priority projects.

I did a bunch of blog work today too. My cohorts over at Story Empire and I have a promotional push going on soon. I think it's going to be a good event, but all the work has to happen ahead of time.

Beyond that, I ordered a cover for The Enhanced League and three new Lisa Burton posters to help me promote it. Once I get a break, I'll start the editing process. It is possible to have it available by the end of school. I'm still hung up on summer releases, and may hold it back until fall if it takes that long. Some of you might be able to convince me that summer releases are okay, but I think some genres are better suited to it than others.

Time for The Walking Dead, then I have to turn in early. Four AM comes around pretty early.

So, how was your weekend? Did you do fun things? Did you make progress on your projects? What do you think about summer releases?

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Road Trip!

I have a million things to do today (I always have a million things to do.) We decided to goof off and drive over to Twin Falls. We met my parents there, and went sight seeing. It's about the same distance for them, only we get freeway all the way.

I've talked about the Bonneville Flood on this blog before. It's an ancient event that carved the Snake River Canyon across the western USA. (Pardon the cell phone shadow. I couldn't move the sun.) The attraction today was created by that event. It's called Shoshone Falls.

When you first approach, the humidity is visible, as demonstrated by this rainbow. It wasn't the only rainbow present.

This is the same bit of canyon that Evil Knievel tried to jump and failed. Yeah, yeah, some guy recently did it, but who cares about him. He isn't Evil Knievel.

There is a huge home just above the falls to give it a bit of perspective. These things are huge, and with the runoff from our massive winter, there's a lot of water flowing by.

Oh, and the bulldog ambassador to the world must have made over a hundred new friends today.

I swear, I'm going to buy Old What's Her Face a tee shirt that says, “Pet the bulldog, $2.00.”

So not much work got done today. I need to catch up on blog reading, and may work through my critique, but that's it until tomorrow. Hope all of you had a great day, even if you were goofing off.

PS: I posted a short video clip of the falls over on my Facebook Page, if you're interested.

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Dear Lisa Vol. 2, on #LisaBurtonRadio

Lisa Burton

Hey, hipsters, Lisa Burton the robot girl here, and today we’re doing something fun. I don’t have a guest to interview, so we’re holding another episode of Dear Lisa. This is where I flip through some of the fan mail, and answer it on the air. Stick with me, it’ll be fun.

Our first letter comes from Long Island and wants to know what my first job was.

I try really hard to be just as human as everyone else, but admit that I’m a little different. I was created in a concept lab as both a promotional tool, and to demonstrate what the future of robotics could hold. Part of the bargain was to plant me into society and see how I adapt as a human. Some people are nervous nellies, and were terrified that I’d go all Skynet on them. That meant the police department was the only place they’d let me work. They were better equipped to watch over me, so to speak.

At the Hudson Police Department, I was assigned to the homicide squad. My absolute very first job was to make a Vice sweep. It’s kind of a hazing slash welcome to the department kind of thing. I caught some perps too. The night ended early when we got a call about a body someone found.

This next one is kind of sad, and I’m going to read it so you get the gist of it.

Dear Lisa,

Lately my boyfriend is always showing up late. He tells me football practice ran late, but I’ve got my doubts. I’ve also noticed him checking out my fellow cheerleaders when he comes to pick me up. I’m afraid if I confront him, he’ll leave me. He’s the most popular boy in school. I can’t lose him. What should I do?

Signed,

Heartbroken in High School

This is something I can really sink my teeth into, and there are a couple of ways to answer you. Since it’s my show, I’m going to do both. You can’t hack into his phone and computer, like I can. You can try taking a look at his phone when he’s at practice. You might find all kinds of evidence on social media, text messages, those kind of places. There are any number of small drones you can use to see what he’s up to when you’re out of sight too. That seems simple enough, but may not be the best option.

The second part of this answer is that you seem to need him to establish your own value. The only way you described him is how popular he is. You didn’t tell me anything about him except that he plays football and is popular. No mention of his cute smile, or how he makes you feel. You need to find a way to feel valuable without him. When you’ve done that, he might be an asset. Without your own feeling of self worth, you’ll never be stable in the relationship.

The last one for today is from Yukon, Canada. This person wants to know why Bunny is so important to me.

For new people, Bunny is my pet rabbit. He and I have a lot of similarities. He is a genetically modified organism, I have GMO human skin covering my chassis. My original experiment involved me being broken down into my component parts at the end to study for wear and tear. Bunny is a Kansas City Broiler, and he was going to be broken down into his component parts too.

I rescued Bunny and saved him from the butcher shop, and in doing so he inspired me to save myself. I found my own self worth, and decided not to be broken down at the end of my experiment. It was a struggle, and I suffered some real loss. Bunny and I got through it together, and we stay together through thick and thin.

That was fun, and we should do it again some time. In order to do it, I need your fan mail. You can drop me a comment here on the blog, Facebook me, or send me an email. I’ll hang onto the the questions for a future edition of Dear Lisa.

This broadcast is primarily for me to interview characters from the books you love to read. I’m in need of characters again too. I have a few questionnaires out in cyberspace somewhere, but nothing broadcast ready right now. Authors, send me your protagonists, your colorful supporting characters, even your antagonists. I’d love to help promote their books. Return visits aren’t just allowed, they’re encouraged.

If you aren’t an author, you can still send a question for me to answer. You can also tell someone about Lisa Burton Radio by using the sharing buttons below. For Lisa Burton Radio, I’m Lisa Burton. Have a great day.

***

Lisa can be reached at coldhand (dot) boyack (at) gmail (dot) com, on Facebook, or in the comments.

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