GIVEAWAY: ANATOMY OF A DARKENED HEART is One Year Old!

WOW, I can’t believe that Anatomy of a Darkened Heart is now a year old! What better way to celebrate and thank you all for your incredible support than to have a Kindle book copy giveaway? Watch my video below for details (really easy to enter the giveaway) and for all the massive thanks you deserve.

LOCKE AND KEYE IS FINISHED!

I’m so excited to announce that last night I finished the final draft of Locke and Keye and sent it off to my editor! It has been quite a long haul full of unexpected changes and complete turnarounds from the original idea. I started out with the concept of a 10,000 word novelette based on the different customers visiting a locksmith shop, and I ended with over 50,000 words – a full-size novel – based on the locksmith shop’s charming but controlling owner and his carefully picked, loner employees. I’m going to do a video on the painstaking process shortly, including the enormous overhaul the book underwent and how I stayed motivated when things got confusing and my time became limited.

I’ll let you know as soon as I have a publication date, but now I can say with even more certainty that Locke and Keye will be published this fall. Yay!

with-the-editor-announcement

Interviewed by Too Full To Write!

I’m thrilled to be featured on Too Full To Write today. I was interviewed by David Ellis, a fellow author who writes poetry, short stories, and flash fiction. He also took part in 2016’s NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), and you can see the poems he wrote throughout the month here.

In our interview, I discuss why I write, the research I do, writing motivation, my 15-year publishing plan, and more, including who I would want to act in an Anatomy of a Darkened Heart movie. See the full interview here. Take a look at the other authors David has interviewed on his site as well!

How to Write Historical Fiction Without Really Trying

Today I’m excited to have a guest post on Amie Winters’ blog, the author of Strange Luck and soon-to-be-published The Nightmare Birds (available for pre-order now!). Amie and I write very different books, but we have tons in common, from collecting fun socks to being writers from childhood. In fact, tomorrow is her monthly Throwback Thursday Writer event (#tbtwriter), so check back in with us both for this month’s fun (and usually funny) posts.

Before I wrote Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, I was sure I would never write historical fiction, even though I enjoyed reading it. In fact, I didn’t think it was possible for me to include that much research in a fiction book. So how does someone who is convinced they can’t write a genre end up with a debut novel, an upcoming fall publication, and a 10-year publishing plan that all revolve around that “impossible-to-write” genre? Find out in my guest post on Amie’s blog! Click here to read.

Indie Pride Day FB Party Takeover

Today is Indie Pride Day, and it’s going to be a day of fun and giveaways! My time slot at the Facebook party is 6:20 p.m. to 6:40 p.m. Eastern Time, and here’s the link. I will have multiple giveaways and easy ways to win, so be sure to stop by! See you then!

 

Indie Books Be Seen 2016

 

YouTube Review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart!

Yesterday, Peter Clark the Writer left a magnificent YouTube review of Anatomy of a Darkened Heart. I’m so excited to share it with you! He even reads some of his favorite passages and lines, and see that in the background? That’s the wallpaper wrapping paper I used to send him his signed paperback. It’s pinned to his board! Coolest guy ever? I think so.

If you’ve read Anatomy of a Darkened Heart or if you’re interested in reading it, please pass on his video! Peter really covers the book and its many facets well. Thanks for watching!

On ArtistFirst Radio Network Tonight!

You read that correctly! Tonight at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time I’m going to be live on ArtistFirst Radio talking shop with Vicki Drane. I hope you’ll listen in, but if you don’t have time, don’t worry! A recording will be available afterwards.

Remember, Wednesday, April 27 at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time here: http://www.artistfirst.com/drane.htm.

Featured by Author Ben Starling!

Today I was lucky enough to be on author Ben Starling’s blog! He interviewed me about my writing life, Anatomy of a Darkened Heart, and what’s coming next for me. You probably know what I eat when I write, but do you know what I wear? I think you’ll be surprised, for a dark fiction author. 🙂 Come check it out here.

While you’re on his website, don’t forget to take a look at his latest book, Something in the Water, An Ocean Romance. You can enter to win it on Goodreads until May 2. Good luck!

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart and Shakespeare

Saturday was Shakespeare’s 400 year anniversary, and somehow I feel sad he’s gone…for 400 years. Even though I could never meet him, I feel a huge connection to him. His plays made Anatomy of a Darkened Heart happen. My interest in most of the elements that make up AoDH came from my experiences reading Shakespeare. He built me into the reader and writer that I am.

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Hamlet: I would say Hamlet had the biggest influence on my writing career and on the Dark Victoriana Collection in particular. This was the first piece of literature that introduced me to the sheer depth psychology can give characters not only within their own selves, but in their impacts on others and their interpretations of others. Wow. Without this play, I’m actually not sure AoDH would exist. Even with the number of books I’ve read involving important aspects of characters’ psychologies, none of them have ever struck me the way Hamlet did, and I truly believe I would never have developed such an appreciation and love for psychological depth without having read it.

Julius Caesar: Planning, scheming, and secrets, not to mention some class A manipulation. Julius Caesar was the first time I saw a character manipulated so heavily, he carried through a plan to become something he was not only incapable of but didn’t even really want. That manipulation and its results stayed with me to help create the levels of manipulation in AoDH.

Henry IV parts 1 & 2, Henry V: Good-hearted characters don’t always start out that way – and vice versa. The processFeatured Image -- 1269 by which Prince Hal slowly becomes King Henry is one that creates a character I feel like I traveled with for a long time. I felt proud of his progress and I also felt the pain of his decisions. The closeness to this character and his development was the first time I really cared about what happened to a character as if they were a person I knew. Without that feeling, I don’t think I could’ve written Abigail’s character in a way that makes readers squirm as her life takes darker and darker turns.

Macbeth: This is not my favorite of Shakespeare’s plays, but it did show me how to write a convincing slow mental breakdown, not to mention some good manipulation and scheming. I can’t think of another book that has a slow insanity quite like this, and for those who have read AoDH, you know where this comes in.

Shakespeare will forever be my greatest writing influence, even in the general way of having so many meanings behind his carefully chosen words, phrases, and sentiments. Happy 400th anniversary, Shakespeare. Your writing will never fade. Not now, and not in another 400 years.

~~~

Anatomy of a Darkened Heart can be purchased on Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble. You can also buy the paperback directly from me, the author, here on my website, signed and customized.

LAYERS OF FEAR: Uncovering the Storyline

For those of you who have played the Victorian psychological horror video game Layers of Fear, you know that the story can be a bit tricky to piece together, and there is plenty left to our imagination. I love things like that, so naturally I’ve thought about all the pieces of the puzzle a lot and put them all together to get this storyline. Let me know if you think it went differently!

WARNING: if you don’t like disturbing stories, this game and this post are not for you. These are my interpretations of how to piece the game’s loose storyline together, but the basic plot belongs to the game itself. 

layers of fear

We, as the player and painter, are insane. We’re told that in the description of the game. The question is why have we gone mad?

Here’s my hypothesis:

The house is empty and we’re being threatened to move out ASAP since we no longer pay our bills. We don’t go outside anymore.

Now let’s get to the good stuff.

We used to have a loving relationship with our wife, proven by the notes left around the house, but as with most artists, we have nasty mood swings. Later in the game, we find out that we’ve had an affair with another woman, but it’s unclear when exactly this happened. I suspect it happened before any of the traumatic events began.

We find out there was a fire in our house and our wife was burned badly. So badly that it’s impossible to fix the skin on her face and it seems to have damaged part of her brain, although probably more in a traumatic way than anything. I think that’s what is meant by the “yelps” she randomly gives even after multiple surgeries and skin grafts (this is mentioned in a letter from a doctor). We consult something like 17 doctors for more opinions on her condition simply out of guilt, not out of love.

The big question: where did the fire come from?

When we’re in the attic, there’s a fire burning below us. If you pay attention, you’ll see it’s in a bed. I think we set fire to our wife’s bed to get her out of the picture. A fire looks like an accident, so that could get us off the hook in terms of suspicion of murder, especially in Victorian days. This is never stated right out, but that’s what I think happened. Well our wife survived but was severely burned. She’s left with what looks to us like a frightening grin caused by the burns on her face. Between the fire we set and what we interpret to look like a creepy grin caused by our own fire, I think that’s what sets us off on the path of crazy.

Now, when did the baby happen? According to the pictures on the baby’s wall that we see later in the game, it happened after the baby was born. We see a happy family first, then in the next drawing, our wife is in a wheelchair and we look angry. Then we see that we killed our own dog. I don’t think that’s just craziness, I think it’s also our frustration and anger at the whole situation. We have a helpless woman and child depending on us, plus a dog. We didn’t want anything to rely on us – remember, we were having an affair and doing really well with our paintings – so the first step is the dog. Foreshadowing.

Most let’s players of this game think that the wheelchair belongs to us until the baby drawings come up and we see our wife was in the wheelchair. So that burn damage was more severe than just the face – it crippled her. That’s the kind of traumatic damage I was talking about earlier that probably messed with her brain.

Our wife wanted a divorce at some point, but was it before or after the fire? My suspicion is before, since after the fire she probably can’t take care of herself and her baby easily on her own. Plus, if it happened before the fire, then it could be part of the reason for the fire. We’re having an affair, our wife finds out and wants to divorce us and take our baby away, we set a fire in anger.

We find out our wife left us nasty notes about our art after the fire, and that makes sense since she’s so angry, right? Wrong. We left those notes to ourself and signed them from her as our excuse for murdering her later. This is where the crazy officially starts to take over. This becomes clear once we see our own criticism of our paintings, art critics’  criticisms of our paintings (our talent clearly tanks as our sanity does), and we remember our tone of voice becoming angrier and angrier, especially regarding our talent and our wife. So we create notes “from her” that give us a good excuse to get rid of her. And that’s what we do.

On to the baby. Once we’ve killed our wife, the baby is left entirely in our care. Well that’s not good. We’re always angry at our baby, giving it lots of toys to make up for all our neglect. Nevertheless, the baby feels the neglect and hatred coming from us, and that’s why there are so many toys and baby dolls and heads floating around presently – or so we think. That’s all in our head in reality. We see the baby float up in the bathtub twice. I think we took the baby for a bath and drowned it. We were probably drunk at the time – we have a problem with alcohol too.

Our family is dead. On to our madness.

We realize we need a canvas for our ultimate artwork. I believe the skin we use is the baby’s. (Ew!) Think about it. The baby is the culmination of our destroyed marriage, a source of guilt, pain, and self-hatred not only for how we physically hurt our wife but for our murder of her. We need to paint our pain, as all artists do, and what better surface for a crazy murderer to do that on than our murdered child’s skin? Sickening, yes. Our wife’s hair is what we use as the brush. You can pick and choose where the rest of the body bits come from, but that’s what happened.

Did we ever really gouge out an eye for our painting, make our family’s bone dust into paint, etc.? It’s uncertain. We’ve been painting the same picture of our wife over and over again for what appears to be months if not years – the picture she most hated of herself, The Lady in Black (read: black = mourning – we may have predicted our actions subconsciously and she may have hated it because she generally knew what was coming subconsciously) – and it looks completely normal on the rare occasion that our sanity surfaces. But we’re wracked with guilt, so we paint her over and over, and we think her demon spirit is forcing us to create our masterpiece, but really we’re just painting the life we destroyed over and over – perfectly.

That’s my take on the storyline! If you’ve played this game or watched it being played, let me know whether you have the same or a different interpretation. I loved taking this apart layer by layer. Games like this are few and far between.