Ashes of Deceit Blog Tour, Day 5: Leave a comment and your email address for a Chance to Win a FREE e-book by author Joleene Naylor. A winner will be chosen on June 25, 2012.
“So…what blogs do you follow?”
Blogs? Back in early winter of 2011, I didn’t follow any blogs. Heck! I hardly knew what a blog was, but I was an aspiring writer, and all the other aspiring writers followed blogs, at least that’s what they said on Facebook, so according to them, I was way behind.
“You should check out SPAL.”
“Self-Published Author’s Lounge. They’re great, plus there’s this lady who gets on there and posts tutorials and stuff.”
“Sure! She’s got tutorials on how to make book covers and everything. By the way, what genre do you write?”
Here’s where things get tricky. You see, I write about vampires. Not the sparkling variety, but still…vampires. For some reason, there’s a stigma attached to this genre, as if vampire writers aren’t real writers at all, as if there’s a chance that your I.Q. points could slip and your popularity will diminish if you read this particular genre. Your friends will surely have an intervention on your behalf. Family might offer to pray for you. Very few people will actually confess to enjoying a well-written vampire novel, and if you write said stories, you will get looks of horror mixed with pity, and the conversation usually takes an abrupt turn.
With this in mind, I reluctantly admitted that I write vampire stories, couching said admittance with excuses. There isn’t a twelve-step program for vampire writers that I’m aware of, but it feels like there should be.
“Oh! Well, then…you have to get on SPAL’s site. That lady I was telling you about, she writes about vampires, too! I’ve never actually read any of her vampire books, but she’s very knowledgeable when it comes to self-publishing, and she doesn’t even seem crazy, you know, like those other vampire writers.”
It turns out “that lady” wasn’t just “some vampire writer.” This was independent author, Joleene Naylor, and yes; she is incredibly “knowledgeable.”
In addition to publishing four novels in her Amaranthine series, the fun e-book 101Tips for Traveling with a Vampire, the nonfiction How to Get a Cheap Book Cover, and numerous poems and short stories, Joleene Naylor is a freelance artist, a part-time photographer, a webcomic illustrator, and maintains three blogs. Her freelance book covers have graced countless novels and e-books, including two by author Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. Her photographs have been on the homepage of Digg, and on travel sites and cooking sites. She’s even had one of her photographs on Oprah Winfrey’s site.
When I think about all of her accomplishments and achievements, I have to wonder, how does she do it? How does she find the time?
“I once read a quote that said ‘a woman with a clean house does not have a finished book’. My house usually looks like I must have at least twelve finished books.”
Joleene Naylor’s first novel in her Amaranthine series, Shades of Gray, was published in October of 2009. In 2010, she published 101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire, as a free read on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. Later that same year, Joleene Naylor published her non-fiction book, How to Get a Cheap Book Cover, and the second Amaranthine novel, Legacy of Ghosts.
They say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but if you judged Joleene Naylor’s books, you’d soon discover that her stories are just as original as her artwork is. I read Shades of Gray first, but I believe it was the last sentence of Chapter Three that hopelessly snagged me:
“In that moment it seemed the slender thread that separated waking from nightmares had snapped, and she suspected she’d never see a Twinkie again.”
I immediately purchased Legacy of Ghosts. I hadn’t finished reading the first book, but I knew I’d stumbled across something new and different. Shades of Gray didn’t begin like a typical vampire story or paranormal romance novel, because its NOT. Shades of Gray, and for that matter, the entire Amaranthine series, is the story about an average, grown woman, not a teenager, named Katelina Mauldin. Katelina had a job, and friends, and hopes, and yes…nightmares. But, she wasn’t pining away, waiting for her life to start. She had a life, and though she’d suffered through a tragedy, there was the sense that she didn’t originally need rescuing. That’s the beauty of this series. Joleene Naylor creates characters that feel as “real” as anyone in your day-to-day life.
“What do I and my main character have in common? Every author would like to say, ‘Nothing’ because we want our characters to be unique, original people that we magically channeled from the realm beyond, but in truth there is some of me in ALL of my characters. Otherwise, how could I write them?”
When we first meet Jorick, there’s obviously something a little “different” about him, but Joleene Naylor gracefully side steps the typical vampire clichés and allows her readers to get to know him as a person first, before we learn anything extra about him. In some ways, the further the Amaranthine series progresses, the less important the vampire issue becomes. Joleene Naylor has a tagline that says,
“Nothing is black and white…not even vampires.”
Her heroes are not all good, and her villains are not all bad. These are action packed stories about people with the same problems we all face. But as the series continues, we also learn of the consequences of living an immortal life. There are bloody wars and fights, rules and politics. These are not stories fit for tweens. There’s a shocking amount of violence and gore peppered into a rich story line. In fact, the body count seems to be rising with each new story.
“I have the same problem Shakespeare had – too many characters. Since he is the master, I believe in following his example: when your character list gets too cluttered, just kill a few off.”
Joleene Naylor’s third book in the Amaranthine series, Ties of Blood, was released in September of 2011. In between her novels, she’s written a number of short stories, labeled as Vampire Morsels, available as free reads on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and Kobo. These are the adventures of some of the side characters of Joleene Naylor’s Amaranthine universe. If you’re not generally a fan of vampire stories, Vampire Morsels are a great way to get a feel for Joleene Naylor’s style of writing. Again, even her short stories are not meant to be tween reads, despite their eye-catching covers. The scenes she writes are elegantly depicted, but graphic in nature.
“One of the weirdest reviews I’ve ever gotten was on Barnes & Noble. It was for one of the Morsels and said, ‘This is not suitable for little kids at all!’ Good grief! Why would it be? One would think the warning ‘This story may contain sex, violence, bad language..” etc would have explained that before they ever started the story!”
Joleene Naylor’s fourth Amaranthine book, Ashes of Deceit, was released on May 17, 2012. As a dedicated follower of Joleene Naylor’s writing, I have to say that I think this is my new favorite in the Amaranthine series. It’s incredibly difficult to keep a storyline fresh, especially when an author has spent years working with the same cast of characters, but Joleene Naylor continues to present her readers with deeper facets inside her dark universe. And while Katelina and Jorick’s relationship continues to grow during the course of Book Four, so does the body count! Ashes of Deceit reads like an action movie, so plan accordingly. Find a comfy seat, as this is a difficult book to put down. The ensemble cast of characters that have managed to survive Books One through Three, return, as well as a few new characters. Regardless if a character is a major or a minor one, Joleene knows each and everyone of them, inside and out, a rare find in this type of story.
“The real reason people look down on vampire writers is because they’re jealous. Along with Fantasy, it’s the freest genre there is. I can write something happy, sad, serious, funny, sarcastic, or even a ‘literary’ character study. I can set it in modern times, in the 1800s, in the 1500s or in Babylon. I can make use of mythology, magical powers, ninjas, pirates, robots, machine guns and swords or I can just send them to the laundromat... it doesn’t matter. So long as one of the characters has fangs then – BOOM - it’s a vampire story, which means it automatically falls under the umbrella of my brand. I bet I could even work aliens in.”
In honor of Ashes of Deceit’s book release, Joleene Naylor is graciously giving away a coupon code for a free ebook from Smashwords to one lucky commenter, so please leave your email address with your comment. Since this is a series, the winner may choose which of the books they would like to receive:
Book 1: Shades of Gray - Katelina’s "friend-with-benefits" is murdered for stealing something from a coven of vampires. Hunted as an accomplice, she must rely on Jorick to survive. But what happens when her knight in shining armor turns out to be one of the monsters?
Book 2: Legacy of Ghosts - For Katelina and Jorick, peace is hard to come by. Kateesha plans to fight the same battle as Jorick’s fledgling, but a common enemy isn’t enough to overcome previous betrayals. Drawn into a deathly conflict, Jorick and Katelina must overcome old regrets, or lose their future to the ghosts of their past.
Book 3: Ties of Blood - A trip to Katelina’s home starts a chain reaction; she and Jorick meet Verchiel, a too friendly vampire, then the police arrest Jorick for kidnapping. Worse, The Guild wants to question them. Will Malick, the head of the vampires, punish them? Or will the mysterious vampire following them do the job first?
Book 4: Ashes of Deceit - Katelina and Jorick must rescue a captured vampire and discover who kidnapped him and why. The truth isn’t easy to find. As Oren’s attack on the Guild draws closer, Jorick and Katelina are led back to the Citadel. When the flames of war ignite, can they rise from the ashes, or will they be consumed?
Follow the tour for more chances to win! (here’s the link to Joleene Naylor's blog post with the dates/links to other posts. -http://joleenenaylor.wordpress.com/2012/06/07/my-first-blog-tour/ )
You can find more of Joleene Naylor and her vampires at her website: http://JoleeneNaylor.com or check out her blog at http://JoleeneNaylor.WordPress.com or her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/joleenenaylorbooks.
*Be sure to check out Angie Bailey's post on June 20, 2012 for another chance to win! - http://www.lariatsandlavender.com/