Goodbye 2011! Hello 2012!

Good morning, readers!

Today marks the end of 2011. And though this year was a year of wonderful opportunities and many crazy happenstances, I can happily say that I’m ready to see it go.

2011 was a year of many firsts for me. First book signing, first time having a book on Kindle, first book-reading… etc. All of these experiences have opened my eyes to how truly great the world of self-publishing really is. It’s the latest and greatest thing. A few years ago, I never would have dreamed of being an author or having the opportunity to get my book out there, not only in paperback form but digitally as well. I couldn’t have done this though, without help from my friends, family, and fans of the series!

In the last two weeks, The Monstrum Chronicles has grown by leaps and bounds. On December 14th, when I posted the infamous I Need a Christmas Miracle post, I had 108 fans on Facebook. I had 26 Twitter followers. 1 review on Amazon and no likes. ‘Vox was in 672,oooth place on the Kindle best-sellers market. ‘And I had 2 subscribers on the blog.

Since then, here are the stats: On the facebook page, there are 115 fans. I have 70 followers on Twitter. There are 5 reviews for the Kindle version of “Vox” and 2 for the paperback. There are 4 likes for the book (and two for me!) “Vox” is now at 234,194th place on the Kindle best-sellers market. (At one point, it was at 97,000!) I have 5 subscribers (but several other readers) on my blog. I’m absolutely ecstatic! Thank you all so much for everything you’ve done in the last couple of weeks! You truly are some awesome people!

In 2012, I’d like to take it up a notch! (Sorry, Emeril, not trying to take your catch phrase or anything.)

My New Years Resolutions for 2012!

  1. Better management of time: There aren’t enough hours in one day, to be true. So I need to learn how to organize all of my activities better so that I can do more without stressing. (Such as blog before work!)
  2. Money management: In order to really market “Vox” and its upcoming sequel, “Aequitas”, I’m going to need to crack down on the way that I spend money and lay out a budget for buying ads and such.
  3. Read more!: I don’t read enough. In the last couple months, I’ve gotten back into it and would love to get to a point where I can fly through research books while gleaning valuable information from them as well as enjoying genre and literary fiction without taking 6 months to get through a book.
  4. Write more!: It’s true. I say I write in all of my spare time but more often than not, I’m so tired that I just sleep! Or slip into a vegetative state on my couch, while staring out my window. This fits in with my “time management” resolution as well. I hope to write more short stories and upload them to Kindle next year in addition to finally finishing “Aequitas” and uploading that, too!
  5. Exercise program: This is about energy! I collapse when I get home from work every night. In the mornings, I never want to get up. At night, I’m so restless I can’t sleep. My solution? Exercise. It will tire me out before bed, invigorate me in the morning, and keep my muscles from feeling like goo.
  6. Don’t be afraid to try new things!: Yes. I am a homebody. I don’t go out much and yes, I am hesitant when approaching things I’ve never done before. I’d like to try and come out of my shell more this year and do things I’ve never done before! (okay, a bit dramatic, I apologize.)
  7. Try cooking different recipes!: Here’s a secret: I practically cook the same stuff every week. Its easy and it’s usually cheaper. But its also boring. I’d like to do a new recipe once every two weeks, if I can. And definitely try some international dishes. Any endeavors I take in that area, I’ll post here. And if it’s not too much trouble, I’d love to learn how to bake. Oh yes, some of you know how I excel in crumbling cakes, creating “grunge cakes” (the long-lost, black sheep cousin of the cupcake) and burning cookies. I’ll be working on this.
  8. Lastly, I’d like to put away some of my resentments, turn the burner down on my anger, and attempt to leave the past in the past. Everyone holds onto unnecessary bad mojo. It’s time I said “Au revior!” to mine.

And I need to figure out how to tame the wild, demon that I live with; Lemon Jelly.

He may look all cute and fuzzy... but...

He’s actually mellowed out quite a bit over the last year. However, he’s still capable of douchey things. Last night, one happened to be leaping across my laptop, while I was holding a mug of tea and making me spill it on the keyboard. He did the same thing with a cupcake I was holding at the beginning of the month when I was having a particularly bad day.

And my time is up for the morning. To one and all, have a Happy New Years!

~KSilva

Pretty Much Still Half-Asleep

Good morning, folks.

As you may have guessed, I’m not fully awake this morning. I feel as though I went to sleep early enough last night but this morning, my head is telling me I didn’t get enough z’s. I spent the day zooming all of the Midcoast at break-neck pace. But it was all for a purpose.

I found the elusive Caleb Carr book, “The Angel of Darkness.” I call it “elusive” because I’d looked in at least three different places before happening upon it in a tiny used bookstore in Camden. Even better: it was only $4. I’m so excited to dive into it but first I must finish Anthony Bourdain’s “Medium Raw.” I haven’t had much time to read this week considering the holidays and being at work. Hopefully on my next day off, I’ll be able to sit down and read quite a bit of it.

Yesterday, I also had the pleasure of watching “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” with my friend for her birthday. Wow. What an awesome movie! I was surprised by the amount of action that this movie included. There was alot more deduction and dialogue in the first movie. The addition of so much action did help to keep me on the edge of my seat for the entire movie though. And I was pleased to see that they included the legendary Riechenbach Falls into the story as well.

Work on “Aequitas” is still underway. I’m anxious for the holidays to pass so that I will have more time to put to editing the book. It seems the last few weeks have been absolutely crazy. I’m longing for a day that I can stay in at home. I want heaps of snow to pour from the clouds as I sip at a hot cup of peppermint tea, curl into a blanket on the red leather sofa, and write to my heart’s content. That, folks, is my idea of a perfect winter day.

But I’m not entirely sure when we are supposed to get snow… and when we do, how long it will stay. We had a pretty hefty snow storm on Christmas. Then, two days later, it was 50 degrees outside and it all melted with a wash of rain. Hopefully soon, Midcoast Maine will begin to resemble white Decembers/Januarys in past years. Keeping my fingers crossed!

That’s all that I have time for this morning, I’m afraid. I must start getting ready for work.

Tomorrow: New Years Resolutions and an ode to 2011!

KSilva

Madame Butterfly, How I Love Thee!

Good morning, readers!

If you’ve read “Vox”, you’ll have noticed the heavy opera usage through out the book. Not only did certain opera pieces inspire parts of the book, the book plays out as a kind of dark fantasy opera. In order for me to really get into the mood of the book, I listened to several opera pieces (at one point for 11 hours!), looked up the translations for some of the Italian lyrics, and researched the background of each opera to get a sense of what was occurring there.

The most poignant piece in “Vox” is Un Bel di Vedremo from Madama Butterfly. I have to praise Puccini for composing such a heart-rending piece. It inspired the undying love between Eileen and her deceased husband, Tom. The story in the original opera follows the tale of a Japanese girl who marries an American Naval officer. Both have their own reasons for doing so. The Naval officer leaves soon after the wedding, while Butterfly anxiously awaits his return. When he does so, he returns with an American wife which in consequence, breaks Butterfly’s heart. She ends her life soon after.

“Vox” certainly isn’t as dramatic as the original opera. I wanted to borrow that sense of longing that appears in Un Bel di Vedremo and use it for Eileen, who carries the memories of her husband with her through out the book. She has already been devastated by his death. Psychiatrists have tried to tell her she must go on without him, that he is never coming back (such as the roles of Suzuki, the maid and Goro, the matchmaker, in the play did with Butterfly). But she continues to hold onto the idea that she can’t let him go until it is too late.

I’ve attached a link to the song here. It is sung by Renee Fleming. Please give it a listen.

~KSilva

Inspiration for “Home”

Good morning, folks!

Hoping everyone had a wonderful and safe Christmas! It actually snowed here… quite a bit. I ended up staying at my parent’s house and was without my computer for a full 24 hours… (which almost never happens!) Still, it was a pleasant day unwrapping gifts and spending time with my family. Among many fantastic gifts, I received some new video editing software for my laptop. Hopefully now, I’ll be able to experiment more with making some more professional looking book trailers! I’ll take a look at everything this Thursday when I have more time!

Since I am once again pressed for time this morning, I would just quickly like to thank those people who read “Home” and enjoyed it. The idea for the story had been trapped in my head for several days and that morning I literally dumped it from my noggin onto the blog. I wrote it in an hour, so any mistakes I made I apologize for. I was trying to get ready for work, too!

If any of you wondered what my inspiration was behind this story, I’ll say right now that it was a combination of a couple things. One is a unique book trailer that someone posted for the novel, “Going West” by Maurice Gee. The trailer is a stop-motion animated piece which runs for about one and a half to two minutes. The narrator brings life to Gee’s stunning imagery through the course of the video. You can find that video here.

The second inspiration is a new song released by Puscifer this year (fueling my James Maynard Keenan obsession), which is called “Tumbleweed.” I listened to that song while I wrote “Home”. You can find that song here.

This week, I’ll be posting some interesting factoids about “Vox” and “Aequitas”, specifically where I get my inspiration from while writing those books. I’ll also be posting more writing tips in general!

Til then, enjoy the day!

KSilva

Home, a short story

By metro, the man found himself soaring over the dark city he’d inhabited for nearly a year. The train rumbled as it passed by the silhouettes of abandoned railway cars and the shadows of drunken individuals too far gone to see where they were stumbling to. In the late hours of the night, the only light came from neon yellow streetlamps which lit the streets in strange splotches, highlighting a rubbish bin here and a beat-up stop sign there.

As the metro traveled deeper into the tangles of the city, the man reflected on the night. He reflected on things he wished he could forget. There were images of women varied and yet still hazy, their faces never quite clear enough to his minds eye. There were scenes of bars and brothels, the glasses lining the high varnished counters like posts on a fence and a red glow bathing the room around him. Cards in his hand, but never good ones. Then came that sick crack of self-realization. It had tumbled down on him like bricks and he’d stumbled out of the places where he’d wasted most of his nights away in.

The metro glided high up over the city. The gloomy tenements that housed the city’s poorer families and the darkened doorways, which always housed one or two lonelier individuals. It curved down toward the suburban squalor, a place where the houses stretched on in perfect unison. The front lawns were a blanket of green, even in the night. The communities seemed to vanish like smoke in the air as the metro plunged back down between several high-rises.

Then the city rose up, buildings like children’s building blocks, wielded by men who wished them higher and higher. The man could smell money on these streets, like the ever-present stench of garbage. It reeked here. The people who clumsily made their way through the alleys and backstreets were much like he’d been. Too lost in their own minds to see what was truly around him. Oh, he’d seen the error in his ways eventually. But it had left him hollow. How he’d even been able to board that metro, he wasn’t sure. But he knew it would take him somewhere far from this corruption, if even only for a day. Escape was necessary.

As the city slipped back into the blackness, the forests sprung from the earth. A mixture of conifers and bare limbed trees congregated with a harmony he’d not seen in that city. Beneath the twinkling stars, the woods roamed the hills, a fur coat over the cold terrain that did hardly a thing to keep it warm.

He rode in silence. The other passengers on the car were escaping the city, too. They didn’t want to speak about the terrors they’d left behind. Neither did he.

It wasn’t long until the night began to give way to the day. Pink light burst out from below the distant trees and clawed its way across the sky. Then he saw the snow. It was hard to say when it had first started, but now it was impossible to ignore. It fell across the forest and the ground in sheets. The longer he looked at it, the more the man felt his memories of the city pass away. He was moving somewhere innocent. Somewhere that didn’t need to know about all he’d seen. Somewhere where he could forget about all of the mistakes.

The metro stopped in a tiny station, nearly a quarter of the size of the one he’d been in when he’d boarded. The man summoned a taxi with a quick wave of his hand, the only taxi in the village in fact, and it took him away. They drove by a quiet stretch of streets; the houses donned with lights of every color. In the front yards, snowmen sat contentedly with scarves around their icy shoulders and carrot noses poking into the early morning light. Even the air smelled sweet and spicy and he could imagine a mug of hot buttered rum in his cold fingers before the sun was fully up.

He got off at a little house half way down 4th street. It was much plainer than the ones around him. Candles glowed in the windows and a wreath shook on the door, the wind trying to pull it away. Slinging his bag over his shoulders, the man approached the front door and timidly knocked.

Commotion inside. A dog barked somewhere in the house. Chairs scraped against the old wooden floors and after a moment, the door opened a crack. Then wider.

An older woman, her dimpled cheeks growing red within moments, her blue eyes giving way to a kind of intense delight that he hadn’t seen in over a year. She reached over the threshold and wrapped her tiny arms around his shoulders. She smelled like warm apple pie. Her touch felt so welcome against the cold.

“Welcome home, dear.” she whispered in his ear.

He pulled away to look into her eyes once again. “Mom.”

__________________________________

Merry Christmas, everyone! I won’t be posting a blog post for the next couple days! Everyone have a safe and happy holiday! And thank you so much for supporting me this holiday season once again!

~KSilva

“Home” is copyrighted to Katherine Silva.

Pass it on!

Good morning, readers!

Today is my day off and I intend on finally getting some writing done while also trying to re-coup. Christmas week has been hectic. I was up until midnight on Tuesday wrapping presents, worked a long shift at work yesterday, and I feel like I could just use a bit of relaxation today.

I have a youtube video to share with you that makes me feel pretty warm and fuzzy inside. It’s a little Pay-It-Forward kind of video that should be passed on to as many people as you can think of this holiday season. I know I needed to see something like this this morning.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc8ZbVcdHpg

 

Have a wonderful day and pay it forward!

~KSilva

P.S. I intended on relaxing but Lemon Jelly apparently won’t allow me to do so. He’s trying to pull down picture frames and chew on folders. Silly cat.

"I will eat your soul!"

A Morning of Quotes

Good morning, readers!

Once again, I find myself falling behind schedule and must rush to get ready for work. Instead of writing a blog post today, I’m going to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from other authors and writers that help to remind me in times of high stress why it is that I love writing so much.. and may help you as well.

Have a read, feel inspired, and launch yourself into whatever today offers!

  • Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing. – Benjamin Franklin
  • I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it. – Ernest Hemingway
  • Writing and travel broaden your ass if not your mind and I like to write standing up. – Ernest Hemingway
  • Writing is nothing more than a guided dream. – Jorge Luis Borges
  • Writing, to me, is simply thinking through my fingers. – Isaac Asimov
  • Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.  -Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible.  -Vladimir Nabakov
  • Ink and paper are sometimes passionate lovers, oftentimes brother and sister, and occasionally mortal enemies.  -Terri Guillemets
  • I love writing.  I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.  -James Michener
  • If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood.  I’d type a little faster.  -Isaac Asimov
  • Let me walk through the fields of paper, touching with my wand, dry stems and stunted butterflies…. -Denise Levertov, “A Walk through the Notebooks”
  • To withdraw myself from myself has ever been my sole, my entire, my sincere motive in scribbling at all.  -Lord Byron
  • The best time for planning a book is while you’re doing the dishes.  -Agatha Christie

Well, my readers, I am now off to do the dishes… literally. And while doing them I’ll be dreaming of characters and exotic locations for future writing adventures.

~KSilva

Aequitas Cover Photo… Help Me Decide!

Good morning, readers!

I woke up late and I need to start getting ready for work! This post will be kind of short… hope you can forgive me! I realized last night that I still had not quite decided on the cover photo. I’ve been going back and forth between a couple of them. Your input would be fantastic, readers!

Option #1

The Basilica Cistern, an important location in the book.

This was my number one choice in the beginning. I’d had it in my head that I wanted the covers of all the books to include photos of important locations in the books and not necessarily characters. Everyone has a different image of Torrent and Reid in their heads… so I’d rather not force feed you an image of two guys that don’t fit your expectations for the characters. This photo is a public domain photo. I altered it slightly by increasing the contrast and tinging the colors.

 

Option #2

A dark statue, appearing on the headquarters of The Council of Thema

This is the more dramatic option of the two in my opinion. This statue, while actually being on Westminster Abbey, would theoretically, in book 2, exist on The Bion Fortress, the home of the Council of Thema. Because “Vox” used a photo of a Paris Opera House (The Primavera) which included statues, I thought this one might fit the bill for “Aequitas”. However, I don’t intend on using statue portraits for the remainder of the series… so it might be odd choosing this one now. This photo is also public domain. I photoshopped it, increasing the contrast to darken the shadows and changed the color to a sort of bluish-pink taint.

As for the font, I’d hoped that my dad would draw the title word but I’ve found a neat new font called Daemonesque, which should look very spiffy against either one of these cover images.

Now, its your turn! Please give a vote and tell me which one you prefer more! If you have another suggestion, please tell me about it! I’d love to hear it.

Thanks!

~KSilva

“The Alienist” Review

Good morning, readers!

I will be frank when I say that I am not the fastest book reader. In fact, when I’m reading a book, it usually takes me several months to finish it. There’s work, there’s writing, cleaning, and paying bills… all of the other chores that make it difficult to find time to sit down and relax into a great book. It has been several years since I’ve read a book that I couldn’t put down. Well, my friends, I’ve recently read a book that was so thrilling and suspenseful, that I just COULD NOT put it down. I’d read for hours everyday just because I was so excited to find out what would happen next. That book, as you may have guessed, is “The Alienist” by Caleb Carr.

I’ve seen this book in many places and have always been intrigued by its cover art and the time period it was set in, 1896 New York City. Finally while browsing through a second hand bookshop down the road from me, I saw it again and knew that I had to buy it and read it.

I had just finished reading “Devil in the White City” by Erik Larson. It struck me as kind of coincidental that “The Alienist” should start only one year after the finish of that book. There is even mention of the murders of H.H. Holmes within the first chapter. It felt almost like a seamless transition from that book to this one.

The first thing that struck me in this book is Carr’s masterful use of the English language to describe his surroundings. While reading, I actually felt as if I was hurtling down the dark roads of a Victorian Era New York along side the main character, John Schuyler Moore.  Carr always makes sure that you can see, touch, smell, and hear the malevolent places that the characters visit, which heightens the terror even more for the reader.

I have to admit, too, that I fell deeply in love with the main characters of this novel within the first twenty pages. While reading about Dr. Laszlo Kriesler and John Moore, I was instantly and fondly reminded of the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Kriesler is the brilliant alienist (or psychologist) who seems emotionally detached while Moore is very much disturbed by the killings. However, the two have their differences from Conan Doyle’s pair and its easy to see how their friendship has grown closer over the years. John, undoubtedly, was my favorite character. As a NY Times journalist, John’s contacts extend through out the city and having his press badge comes in handy on more than one occasion through the course o f the book. Sarah, John’s childhood friend and Theodore Roosevelt’s secretary at police headquarters, is a smart addition to the group and brings a necessary punch of feminine genius and feeling to the book. The Isaacsons are also a particular favorite of mine in the novel.

The subject matter is definitely dark. The story follows an unofficial investigation led by Kriesler, into the murders of young boys. Each one has been killed in a gruesome manner [one particular mutilation is that the eyes are missing]. The further revelation that the young boys are employed in brothels as transvestites, plunges this story into the snarls of some pitch black content. There are grisly scenes that are definitely not for some people. I, being a writer of horror, was actually surprised by a few of them, but it only reeled me in further because of the level of danger these characters now faced in trying to capture the killer of these boys.

The story takes you from the upper crust opera houses, down into dingy shacks and gloomy tenements, through shady brothels, and ominous asylums. At every part of the novel, you become a part of the investigation as you follow the characters as they use what were then very uncommon practices such as fingerprinting and psychological profiling to capture a serial murderer, bent on killing until someone makes him stop. This is a five star book in my rating and it immediately goes on my favorites list.

When I finished the book yesterday, my feeling of triumph was smudged by a feeling of sadness as well in that the adventure was over. Then, I discovered Carr had written a sequel. “The Angel of Darkness”. I’m ecstatic to hunt down that book and rejoin some of my favorite characters as they pursue another murderer.

While I search for the sequel, I’ve decided to read from one of my other favorite authors, Anthony Bourdain. I’d finished reading “Kitchen Confidential” in the spring and absolutely adored Bourdain’s tales of how he negotiated the food underworld from the beginning of his career up until about twelve years ago. Now, I’ve got “Medium Raw”. Bourdain wrote this 10 years after he finished “Kitchen Confidential” and much had changed in the food industry in that time. I already know it won’t be a disappointing read.

Tomorrow, I will be posting the potential cover image for “Aequitas”!

~KSilva

Brief News!

Good morning!

I’m popping in to give some brief news concerning what is happening with The Monstrum Chronicles series. If you’ve been keeping up with this weeks blog posts, you’ll know that something devastating has occurred which makes the future of the series uncertain.

Having spent the last couple days tweeting and facebooking my brains out, I’ve found that I have some amazing people in my life who are willing to help me get this book series out there for everyone to enjoy. Friends, family, and fans alike have been posting reviews on Amazon, liking different pages, and “following” the twitter. Thank you everyone who has done something for me this week. This was amazing!

Now I know allot of you are wondering about the second book. At the moment, it looks as though book 2 will start out on Kindle. Having the book on Kindle means that everyone with a computer can still access it and the format will be easier for me to market digitally. How I would love to feel the finished book in my hands but financially, I don’t think that is much of an option at the moment.

In lieu of making that decision, I’ve gone back to revising and editing ‘Aequitas.’ I’m still going to be pushing the facebook and twitter accounts pretty hard. I’m also going to try and post on the blog more often. There has been a significant difference this week in views compared to previous weeks.

Last bit of news is an upcoming book-signing event! Details are hazy so far but it looks as though the book-signing will be held at the new Vose Library in Union, Maine and will occur either at the end of January or beginning of February. This event couldn’t come at a better time.

I’ll be updating those details when I learn more about them. I’ll also try to make it possible for those out-of-state or online to order a book directly from me through that event.

Well, the sun is rising and there isn’t nearly enough coffee in my system yet. I’d better put my nose to the grindstone and keep working.

For those of you who would still like to help out with spreading the word about the Monstrum Chronicles, please refer to this post “Amazing Fans-I Still Need Your Help!” and follow the instructions in it! Thank you in advance!

Coming soon: The image for the cover of ‘Aequitas,’ tips on naming characters, and (more than likely) a book review for ‘The Alienist’ by Caleb Carr.

Thank you all and have a wonderful day!

~KSilva