Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Cave In to a Good Read w/ Author Amber Dawn Bell

The Author

Amber’s love of romance and medieval history led her to pursue her dream of writing. She is a stay-at-home mom and now that her kids are older, she is able to spend a little time making her dream come true. She loves stories about Vikings, pirates, Scotland, and just about anything of the paranormal nature, especially vampires. Amber lives in central Texas with her own knight in shining armor, her high school sweetheart and husband of 23 years, along with their two teenage kids, two dogs, and a cat. Amber believes that everyone should have a happily-ever-after. She currently has 5 short stories in 5 different anthologies and a full length young adult paranormal novel, Cave of Terror (1st in the Vânător Diaries Series).

Take the time to learn more about Amber at the following outlets:

The Book

Gymnast Cheyenne Wilde finds out on her 16th birthday that not only is she a vampire but a hunter of evil as well. She must balance her two lives while dealing with a cheerleader who makes her life miserable, an evil entity that stalks her, a coach that wants to see her make nationals, and the stirrings of first love.

Do you believe in vampires?

I sure didn’t. Not until I found out on my 16th birthday I’m anything but human. And to add the cherry on the freak sundae called my life, I’m the first Vânător born in over 500 years. You see, I’m destined to be a hunter of evil. That’s right; I’m a real life Buffy.

To make matters worse, I’m falling for Ryan—this new guy at school. I never thought I’d be this love struck, hair tossing, dorky teenager. It’s enough to make me want to hurl.

And on top of all this, I have an entity stalking me that wants to use my rare blood for his own evil deeds, a girl at school who lives to make my life miserable, and a gymnastics coach who is determined to see I make it to Nationals.

Yep, things are really looking up for me. Welcome to the never boring, anything but normal, you-never-know-what’s-going-to-happen life of Cheyenne Wilde.

Click the cover above to purchase YOUR copy of Cave of Terror today!

The Interview

Talk to us about your journey into publication.
From an early age, I had an interest in reading and writing and have dabbled in it ever since. About 6 years ago, I decided to try my hand at professional writing.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. The first story I ever submitted was accepted. I made the choice to go with a small publisher where I could have more control over my career. It’s been a very positive experience. I’ve learned so much and feel I’ve grown as a person and a writer through the process.

This year, I had my first ever struggle with writing. I started a story that never really felt right to me, but I refused to admit it to myself. Up to this point, everything had been relatively easy for me. When the deadline rolled around and I still had no clue where I was going and didn’t really like my characters, my publisher asked to read it. In a nice way, she basically said it was crap, which I already knew. So, I ditched it and started all over. I had one week to finish a new story. It was rough, but I made it through. The lesson I learned was one I won’t soon forget. If you don’t love your characters and your story, no one else will either. Stop and reevaluate. If you can’t find the problem, put it away and start something new.

Today, authors are marketers, promoters. What have you done to promote your work?
Now days, authors don’t have the luxury of just writing. We are forced to play a very active role in marketing and promoting, which cuts deep into our writing time and sometimes into our pockets. You can’t sit idle and expect your publisher to do the work for you. They don’t have the man power or the money. And in reality, if you don’t have a good buy through for your first book or two, there are many other authors waiting to take your place. You must do the best you can to help out sales.

Some ways I have promoted my work include reviews, interviews, web site, blogs, social media sites, printed material, and web advertisements like banners.

Reviews are a great way to get your story and name out there. Interviews such as this one help as well. A website is a must. For those that can’t afford to hire someone to do one for them, there are places that will host a web site for free. Blogs when done right are very effective, although I have fallen horribly behind in this department (one of my New Year resolutions). Social media sites like Facebook are great for reaching many people for free. Bookmarks, pens, and other printed materials are good to hand out for advertisement purposes. This can be costly, and I haven’t decided yet if it’s been worthwhile. Web banners can also be a good tool to reach certain people. Many book sites offer good deals that make it more affordable to do.

How important is social media in the marketing, promoting of your works?
Social media sites are very important, especially with today’s economy. You can’t beat free! It allows you to reach a lot of people at one time. Most sites allow pictures and videos, so book covers and book trailers can be uploaded. Visual is very important.

What, in your experience, are some of the best social media sites to join as an author? Why?
Facebook—it’s the most popular social media site at this time, reaching tons of people.

I will admit that I have an account with just about every social media site out there; however, I’ve stopped maintaining most of them due to lack of interaction. I still like MySpace because you can make a professional looking page that matches your website. But over the last two years I’ve seen the interaction fade while Facebook continues to grow. Twitter is very hot now, but to be honest, I don’t exactly get it.

I'm a writer wanting to be published; what three pieces of advice would you give me?
Learn your craft—read, take classes. You can never know too much. The market changes all the time. Keep up with it.

Join writers’ groups. Listen to the mistakes and successes of other authors and learn from it.

Never give up. If you’ve learned your craft and applied your skills to the best of your abilities and still get rejected, maybe you haven’t hit the right person with the right story at the right time. Even the best authors don’t get published without a little luck and persistence. Timing is everything.

What three web sites would you recommend to those interested in learning more about writing and the publishing world?
Romance Writers of America - [LINK] - Although this focuses on romance, if you have a genre you’re interested in, do a web search and see what organizations are out there for that particular genre.

Margie Lawson web site - [LINK] - She is an awesome person and an awesome instructor. I’ve learned so much from her. I highly recommend her to anyone writing any genre.

Debra Dixon, Goal, Motivation, and Conflict - [LINK] - If you don’t have this book, it’s a must have!

The Excerpt

From Cave of Terror...

The Beginning
A Blood Sucking Discovery

My sixteenth birthday totally sucked.

Instead of having a rockin’ party, I was initiated into a vampire clică.

Nothing like finding out your parents are blood suckers on the most important day of your life. I mean, how had they hid it for all those years? And why the heck hadn’t they told me until now?

I’ve always considered myself to be a logical person living in the real world where Dracula existed only in the minds of wacko writers. Sure, the movies are good for a laugh and an occasional scare, but they aren’t factual.

Vampires don’t really exist.

Well, apparently they do and I’m one of them. Nice. Somehow, the excitement over getting my driver’s license faded in light of this new development.

Instead, I fixated on more life-altering thoughts like would I be able to walk in the sun or would I have to actually drink blood? Or would I have to sleep in a coffin? I’m claustrophobic, so that wouldn’t be the greatest sleeping arrangement for me.

After thinking about it, I realized both my mom and dad go out in the daylight hours. They have normal jobs, after all. My dad owns a computer software company, and my mom is a psychologist. Yet, we never really spent extended hours in the sun, and we’ve never had a family vacation that included the beach.

I think I’d know if they slept in a coffin or drank blood. Wouldn’t I? Every night they had wine or at least a liquid that appeared to be wine. It’s not like I ever took a drink or anything. Surely, they wouldn’t be gulping down the DNA of another human right in front of me. That’s just plain nasty.

Can you imagine all the crazy thoughts going through my head? One minute I’m a normal teenager turning sixteen, and the next I’m being led into some kind of ritualistic coming-of-age gathering full of vampires congratulating me on reaching maturation. So much for thinking my parents had planned a sweet sixteen party all my friends would envy. Guess I wouldn’t be starring in the reality show, My Super Sweet 16.

My mom and dad had promised to answer all my questions after the induction. And questions they answered. I don’t think they knew what hit them.

One thing was for sure, everything I thought I knew about vampires went straight out the window. Well, almost everything.
Sunlight won’t burst vampires into flames, reducing them to a pile of dust. Thank goodness for small favors. There’s no such thing as the living dead. Vampires are very much alive with a beating heart and everything. Sunday morning church congregations include vampires. Holy water is just blessed water. Vampires put on their make-up in front of a mirror like everyone else. Garlic is a tasty addition to many dishes. Crosses make nice fashion accessories. Coffins aren’t part of a vampire’s bedroom set. And wooden stakes aren’t any more deadly than other weapons, which brings me to a rather disturbing and disappointing fact.

Vampires aren’t immortal.

Sure, they live longer than the average human—a lot longer, heal abnormally fast, and aren’t plagued by most human diseases and ailments, but they don’t live forever. Talk about a bummer. Immortality was the one bright spot in the whole situation.

I’d saved the one big question for last. Was I expected to go around biting people and sucking their blood? I mean, wasn’t that what vampires were supposed to do? My mom laughed and my dad shook his head and grinned. I didn’t get what was so funny.

My mom explained that centuries ago, before the convenience of modern technology, vampires didn’t have a choice and had to take nourishment directly from humans. I shuddered. I mean, how gross is that? But, over hundreds of years, they had evolved. They no longer needed long fangs to pierce skin. Eye teeth shortened and now only extend when threatened or angry. Or when a vampire doesn’t feed regularly and goes into a full bloodlust. I didn’t even want to go there. Bloodlust? No, thank you. I was quite happy to find out I’d be able to continue eating the same foods I’ve always eaten. I’d just have to start supplementing my diet with, you guessed it, blood. Yick!

I did find out something rather cool. Every female vampire acquires a special ability unique to her physical make-up on her sixteenth birthday when she reaches maturation. I couldn’t wait to find out what special power I had. I just hoped it wasn’t something too weird or too noticeable.
Since I’m a gymnast, I spend five hours a day in the gym training. It’s hard enough to fit in without being a freak. I don’t have much time for a social life, so that makes me a big enough freak as it is.

I’ve never had a boyfriend to speak of. Not unless you count the cute boy in kindergarten who rubbed sun block on my back on water day. I don’t know if boys are afraid to ask me out because I don’t have the time to devote to them or if it’s because I could quite probably kick their butts with little or no problem. That’s what five hours in the gym gets you.

What can I say? Gymnastics is my life. I’ve been doing the sport since I could walk. I don’t plan on quitting now so some silly boy can drool all over me. Ain’t gonna happen.

Anyway, I spent the rest of my birthday waiting for my special ability to show itself. It never did. I went to bed very disappointed and frustrated, thinking I must not have any powers. Figures.
I was a powerless vampire. And I still had to drink blood.

Where was the silver lining? Where was the something good to go along with the whole bunch of bad? It just didn’t seem fair.
The next day at school, during a biology fieldtrip, everything changed. This is where my story begins.

Before you turn the page, I think it’s only right to caution you. If you are faint of heart, stop now before it’s too late. This is no Cinderella story. It’s a true account of my life and will forever change how you see the world and the creatures that live on it.

You have been warned.

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