Ask a Demon - Holiday Shopping Edition by Ryan Hill

 

For some of us, the holiday season is the worst time of the year. People spreading good will and cheer, the annoying songs that are impossible to avoid, not to mention non-spiked egg nog. Who drinks that straight?

For the rest of us, the silly season is just that: silly. However, there's a dark underbelly to the holidays, one nobody dares speak of for too long, lest they fall victim to it.

I'm talking about present shopping, of course. People fight over each other to get some marked down piece of electronics that's obsolete, flip each other the finger over lost parking spots, and the stress of finding the PERFECT PRESENT for that SPECIAL SOMEONE.

Not to fear, for Bartholomew is here! 

Timmy from Astoria asks:

Bartholomew, what should I get my Dad for Christmas? He likes golf and this yucky brown drink.

Great question, Timmy! I'd suggest giving your dad photos of your mom with her younger lover. Barring that, a pack of pink golf balls, since you're not old enough to get the "yucky brown drink." The measure of a man is his willingness to play golf with pink balls his son gave him as a present.

Susan from Seattle asks:

What do you get the man who has everything?

The "man who has everything" is a house of straw waiting to burn into ash. If you want your man to stay "on top of the world," get him a Swiss bank account. Or a rigged paternity test, so nobody can legally claim him as a baby daddy.

Are you insecure? Afraid you'll lose this dreamboat? Get some work done on yourself. 

If you're not insecure, remind him that he's got everything and doesn't need anything else, because he's got you.

Ugh, that last answer made my stomach turn. 

Jerry from Tulsa asks:

Bartholomew, I can't wait any longer. I want to divorce my wife. I know it's the holidays, but is there a way to do this without ruining the season for her?

Well Jerry, chances are she wants out of the marriage too, so there's that. You could also completely own the divorce and give her the news on X-Mas day, with a written letter. It can either be in an envelope or in a gift-wrapped luggage bag. Hopefully, she'll get the metaphor.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

 

Ask a Demon - Halloween Edition by Ryan Hill

 

Can you hear it?

Angels blowing their horns?

No?

That's because it's HALLOWEEN!

The greatest day of the year, or any year. A day when demons can shed their human facade, revealing the true form hiding underneath, and walk around in our birthday suits. Nobody would bat an eye, freak out, or wet their pants. They'd say, "cool costume bruh," or give us first prize in costume contests.

Me? I look way too sexy to drop my human appearance. I don't feel the need to show the world my demon form and not be judged. I'm secure in my exquisite looks like that.

But I digress.

Halloween has shifted a bit over the years, going from the Irish holiday of Samhain, where humans greeted us with food and alcohol in exchange for letting some of their dead relatives hang out for a few hours. Eventually, the bribes stopped, and the holiday became the one day of the year where it was okay to get mad over receiving a pack of raisins over some candy. Scratch that. It's always acceptable to get mad over getting a pack of raisins. They're disgusting. Worst use of grapes ever.

On to the Halloween questions!

Cinnamon from West Virginia asks:

Why are some costumes called slutty? Most of them seem okay to me.

The companies that make Halloween costumes are morons. Aside from selling outfits named "Slutty Nurse," their business model makes zero sense. They only sell their product one month out of the year! Is that an organization that should be passing judgment on what's considered slutty? Methinks not.

Besides, dressing up as a nurse - especially when you aren't one - is pretty much the equivalent of wearing a nurse costume. The only difference between an official outfit and the "slutty" costume version is a couple of inches.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Jake from Austin asks:

Is it okay to put razorblades in candy?

No. No, man. Don't mess with kids. Ever. The worst parts of Hell are reserved for people who mess with kids: right next to everyone who thought elevator music was a good idea.

Tim from Atlanta asks:

Bartholomew, is there any costume you wish more people wore on Halloween?

That's an easy one. Birthday suit.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Blaze Pub's Haunted Halloween Tour with Case Maynard! by Ryan Hill

 

October is the month of fears, and we're going on tour with some of our favorite authors to talk about what their main characters are afraid of. What keeps them up at night? What nightmare has them waking in a cold sweat? Each day, we'll feature a new main character and delve deep into their subconscious to see what they fear. And each day, you'll have a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes! We met Vee from our recent dystopian release The Surrendered, but now we're getting to know her a bit better by finding out what haunts her each night when she closes her eyes... 

My name is Vee Delancourt, and my biggest fear is all about failure. In a world where the nation abuses its children in unspeakable ways, losing this fight just isn’t an option. I hope I can prove myself worthy of the trust so many have put in me. I hope I can one day redeem myself for the mistakes that I’ve already made. . .and for the lives that have already been lost.

She’s here, my old friend is. Stalking my sleep again.

Well, not her exactly, but some version of her. While the pale skin is the same, if maybe a shade lighter, the hesitant smiles I once marveled at have disappeared. A twisted scowl now decorates her gray lips. Grayish. Not quite blue; not quite white. The color of death.

“You,” she snarls at me, one thin finger aimed in my direction. “You killed us all.”

I shake my head, backing until I come in contact with something. I don’t have to look to know it’s the big covered truck from Hopkins Farm. I’ve been here before, in these very Mills, on this very day. It’s the day that everything changed. The day I escaped the System and set into motion a chain of events that would forever change the lives of so many people. Not all for the better.

My ethereal pursuer continues to advance on me, and my heart races wildly in my chest. “I didn’t mean to!” I cry, pleading with her to understand. “I didn’t know so many would die!”

“Die, die, die. We’re all dead. We died. We’re done. Dead.” Babbling is her only response.

My chest squeezes. Something’s not right. Isn’t there supposed to be peace in the beyond? A great releasement of all the bad experiences? A big screw you to all who did you wrong? This is unfair.

 She hesitates in her advance, her feet floating stationary over the dirt path for one moment. Her head tilts slightly, as though listening to sounds in the distance. She grimaces, shudders, and then moans. “They beckon. They call. . ..” She throws her head back, wailing, “No! I will not go!”

I cover my ears at the thunderous howl, releasing a scream of my own. “Let me help you! Let me fix this!”

Another murderous shriek sounds as I step toward her. “I don’t want to go! Make it stop! I WILL NOT GO!”

I sob, the gasping sounds ripped from my chest as I struggle to stay upright. I feel the blackness trying to take me even now. “Please. Please let me make this right.”

Her head drops forward, drool running from her mouth and over her chin. Colorless eyes swing back to me, and in them I see a sorrow unlike any I have ever witnessed. “You’ve done enough, little rebel. Selfish. Unthinking. Ignorant, rebel. You killed us all.”

“No.” My head continues to deny, but my heart twists at the knowledge that she’s. . .right. She’s dead because of me. Tears overspill my eyes, tracking marks through the grime on my cheeks. I choke. “But I was only trying to help you.”

Her bark of laughter startles me and I jerk in surprise when her finger points again, this time to my left. “Fail. Failing. Failed.” She cackles. And what of them? Will you help them too?”

My head turns.

They’re all there. My dear, sweet friends. Ann and John William. Cason. Matthew. My father. The Overseer. The Master. Asa. All the children. There are so many of them, both known and unknown.

All with the same murderous intent.

To make me pay.

about the book

 

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Now available!

Amazon - iBooks - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Signed Copies - Goodreads

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Blaze Pub's Haunted Halloween Tour with... Me! by Ryan Hill

 

October is the month of fears, and we're going on tour with some of our favorite authors to talk about what their main characters are afraid of. What keeps them up at night? What nightmare has them waking in a cold sweat? Each day, we'll feature a new main character and delve deep into their subconscious to see what they fear. And each day, you'll have a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes!

Bailey is the sixteen-year-old protagonist of the Paranormal Comedy THE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM by Ryan Hill. When Bailey isn’t fighting off sea monsters, he’s fighting off his friends’ snark, a healthy fear of rejection, and anxiety. But rejection isn't the only thing he's afraid of...

What am I most afraid of? by Bailey Southwick

What am I not afraid of is probably the better question. I’m afraid my friends will find out who I have a secret crush on- actually, let’s leave her name out of it. If they ever found out, I’d never hear the end of it. I know a lot of people say, “Oh, I’d never hear the end of it,” but I’m serious. Marshall and Tim would hound me until I moved to Allakaket, Alaska, population 107. Even then, I’d still get texts, emails, and even real mail from them with more jokes. To top it off, one of them – most likely Marshall – would make sure the crush knew I liked them in the most public and humiliating way possible.

Maybe Allakaket isn’t the worst idea.

I’m also afraid of goblin sharks, sand soldiers, and having some bad guy’s head put on my body. Definitely the last one. No, my body isn’t the most athletic, but I’m still growing into it? Also, it’s mine. I don’t want some gross head taking control, rendering me basically dead. No way. That’d stink.

Also, I’m afraid of my anxiety. It pops up at random moments and causes all kinds of problems. I do my best to manage it, but that can only get me so far sometimes. I wish it weren’t the case, but it’s the lens through which I view life. It makes me who I am, and it can make me my own worst enemy.

about the book

Bailey didn’t mean to catch his parents plotting to unleash the sinister Trenton Maroney and his powerful oceanic army on the world. It was an honest mistake. Now, he’s got the horribly disfigured Mr. Lovell on his trail, which is doing wonders for Bailey’s anxiety.

His only ally is Franklin, a burn-out several decades past wishing his brother Trenton was destroyed for good. Franklin has battled his brother for two thousand years, and has nothing to show for it except his beloved Mustang.

To stop Mr. Lovell from awakening Trenton, Franklin and Bailey will have to get past his parents, a one-eyed stoner, crooked cops, giant Scotsmen, and Trenton’s army, which can only be summoned by one thing: the mysterious Conch Shell of Doom.

Amazon

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Blaze Pub's Haunted Halloween Tour with The Carver's Jacob Devlin! by Ryan Hill

 

 

October is the month of fears, and we're going on tour with some of our favorite authors to talk about what their main characters are afraid of. What keeps them up at night? What nightmare has them waking in a cold sweat? Each day, we'll feature a new main character and delve deep into their subconscious to see what they fear. And each day, you'll have a chance to enter to win some awesome prizes! Read on to find out what our dear friend Peter Pan Pietro from Jacob Devlin's The Carver worries about at night...

Hey everybody! Pietro Volo here, your favorite character ever from The Carver and the handsome, dashing alter ego of your favorite Lost Boy, Peter Pan.

Friends, I know what they say about me. I’ve seen the movies. I’ve listened to the songs. If I’ve understood them correctly, the stories ask you to believe the following:

  1. That I am still a ten-year-old boy.

  2. That I need a bottle of Gorilla Glue to stick my shadow to my toes.

  3. That I’m going to fly into your children’s windows and whisk them off to some isolated world filled with man-eating gators and pirates, kinda like how I picture Florida.

There was a time when all of this might have been true, but it bewilders my brains to believe that all these stories handle this so casually. The songs are slow, soulful, and even a little touching. But now that I have a fifteen-year-old son? Dude, I’m freaked. What if there’s another me flying around world and he’s determined to snatch moody teenagers right out of their beds and zoom them off to a place where we can’t get a hold of them because AT&T doesn’t reach that far? This is scary. Zack doesn’t even wear pants to bed.

*clicks on flashlight and points it under my chin*

That is one of my worst nightmares. The other one is a terrible dream that I have all. The. Time. You know who else likes to fly through your window while you’re sleeping? The Sandman. He’s supposed to bring you some nice REM, but when he gets sick, we all get these recurring fever dreams.

You’ll never guess what my nightmares involve. There are some tiny changes from night to night, but they always involve one freaky element that kicks me--hard, I’ll have you know--right in the Assassin’s Creed parts I and II. One time, I was on top of Mount Everest. Don’t ask me how my lazy bum got up there, but then there was an earthquake that brought the whole mountain down. Another night, I was standing on top of Clocher de Pierre, the bell tower offering the best view of Florindale, and my shadow took a torch and lit the base on fire. I’ve also been on a tightrope across two skyscrapers, and my wife and kid are at either side holding Santoku kitchen knives. How fair is that, Sandman? But my least favorite is probably the Ferris Wheel, which is clearly falling apart as I swing back and forth at the very top by one hand.

But wait! you say. You can fly! I get that a lot when I talk about nightmares. You can fly, you can fly, you can fly. Well, hey. You ever have those dreams where you’re being chased by like, a leathery winged demon, or a dude with a bloody axe, or an animatronic orangutan from Disneyland? And sometimes, your feet plant roots into the carpet or you suddenly weigh a hundred thousand pounds? That’s me. That’s Murphy’s Law. When the Ferris Wheel crashes into dust, you don’t get to fly.

Yeah, the Sandman’s a friggin’ jerk. You should hear about how many times Prince Liam’s had to fight off a dragon with a toothpick, or Snow White’s twisted dream where her feet turn into apples. Hansel? Pretty sure his nightmares are drizzled on a graham cracker and loaded with a generous coat of pure sugar. Hey, that might be a beautiful dream for you and I, but that guy probably wakes up plastered in sweat. Gross!

I wanna share something a morally grey, shady magical fairy once told me on one of the scariest nights of my life. Do not be angry when your shadow eludes you, she said. After all, shadows are born from the light. The world can be a real scary place sometimes. There’s violence and pure hate. There are hateful queens, chameleon wolves, and aquamantulas. There are deceptions and cancers and poisonous fruits, and Space Mountain breaks down when you’re in line. And the Sandman doesn’t care. But, I’m here to remind you that it takes a light to cast a shadow (unless it’s my shadow--this thing doesn’t obey me or physics or anything.) Find your light source. It can be anything. Family. A hobby. A good book and a Netflix show to binge on. Or, you know, me… But whatever you do, I really hope you don’t turn to a mirror to solve your problems. I mean, you can, but good things don’t usually happen. That’s another story for later.

Happy Halloween, Lost Children! BOO!

about the book

 

THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . .

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . .

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world...

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind.

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

Amazon - Barnes & Noble - Signed Copies - Goodreads

Notes from a query reader 2 by Ryan Hill

 

My previous Notes from a query reader post was very much a brain dump, an overview of what I've learned while reading query letters and manuscript excerpts. These excerpts are almost always a novel's first few chapters, and in the last post I stressed the importance of having a James Bond-type opening. Something that grabs the reader (in this case, me) by the throat. 

I can't stress this enough. Get into the meat of the story later. Be sparing with your details. If you're introducing a character at the beginning, do it with actions, not descriptions. 

One item I'm starting to see over and over again is a story starting with the main character getting out of bed, starting their day.

Does that sound exciting? Does that make you want to read more? Gee, this character just got out of bed! What will happen next? Stretch? Yawn? GO BACK TO SLEEP?

Don't do this. I'm begging you.

The only author - off the top of my head - that can get away with starting a novel with their main character waking up is Dan Brown. All of his novels start with Robert Langdon being waken up in the middle of the night by a phone call to help with some situation. That's... okay. Something is happening. 

Look, when you've sold a bajillion books like Brown, you can start a novel that way. Until then, show your main character in action. Make them proactive. 

Maybe a lot of writers start novels this way because it happens a lot in movies. The catch is there's energetic music that can be played, and often the opening credits are also rolling, so a lot of filmmakers keep things simple during that span. Novels don't have the luxury of a booming soundtrack. All they have is words. Make them count.

HOOK THE READER. For someone like me, who only reads queries and maybe the first three chapters, don't save your best for last. Put it front and center so I'll want the higher ups to look at the query. 

GOING ROGUE Author Drew Hayes Returns to THE AUTHORDOME by Ryan Hill

 

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

Few know this premise better than Drew Hayes, who's gone toe-to-toe, author-to-author, beta male-to-beta male more than anyone else in the known universe. Why does Drew keep coming back? Is it to shamelessly promote himself and his latest release, Going Rogue out today? An innate desire to see how far he can push himself before breaking? Maybe Drew craves competition. Maybe he knows there's no other place that will test his wits like the Authordome. 

Nah. He just enjoys the Authordome, and the Authordome enjoys having him!

Thanks for stepping into the Authordome. You were a part of these interviews before they became the Authordome? Does it feel any different, knowing you've stepped into a post-apocalyptic world of questions and answers?

I mean, I live in Texas, so we’ve pretty much got the amped-up cars and gun part of the post-apocalypse down pat. The only parts we’re missing is worse weather and less traffic. 

Going Rogue is the third in the Spells, Swords, & Stealth series. Do you have a set number of entries in this series, or will it go on and on until it loses steam, like Seinfeld? In other words, the series is about non-playable characters. How long can you play with non-playable characters?

No set number, I’ve just got a general story in mind, and however long it takes to tell will be the series. I doubt it will go past 10 though, I have a hard time imagining it would be fun and fresh in the double digits. But since I’ve got an endpoint in mind, I’d say it’s more Gravity Falls than Seinfeld. Also, you know Seinfeld went out when it was still on top, right? If you want something that limped across the finish line, maybe start using Spin City or That 70’s Show.

Authordome note: Meh. That last season of Seinfeld was butt. Season Nine wasn't so hot either. The rest? GOLD, JERRY!

A lot of series tend to have "threequelitis," where the second sequel in a series pretty much jumps the shark. There's Veronica Roth's Allegiant, Rick Yancey's The 5th Wave series fell apart at the seams, The Girl who Kicked the Hornet's Nest couldn't recapture that Dragon Tattoo magic, and some would say Suzanne Collins' Mockingjay was a far cry from The Hunger Games. Even the Authordome is play on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, which suffered from threequelitis. How did you go about avoiding threequelitis, or did Going Rogue succumb to the evil?

I think the key to avoiding that issue is to specifically avoid trying to recapture past magic. Don’t try to grab what you once held, instead focus on making it the best story for the characters as they are now, having grown and changed over two previous books. That was my strategy, anyway. Like all authors, I’m too close to give an objective opinion on if it worked, but all the beta-reader feedback so far has been pretty darn positive, so it’s looking like I may have dodged the threequelitis bullet.

Full disclosure: I haven't read any of the Spells, Swords & Stealth series. Does that make you want to lop my head off with a broadsword?

Nah, everyone who knows you is aware that you have terrible taste. Not surprising that you’d have missed this gem of a series.

Is there anyone in the series that's a badass on the level of Brienne of Tarth? Any badass heroines at all? 

It’s hard to compare direct levels without an actual fight, but I have a heroine who is a barbarian wearing demon-hide armor and swinging around a cursed axe like it’s going out of style. I’d say she’s at least a contender for equal badass grounds.

In thirty seconds or less, tell us why your series is better than Game of Thrones. I won't be timing you, so this is on the honor system. Go!

When I promise dragons, damn it I deliver on them. No long waits required.

Now for every other book in the fantasy genre, because I can't think of another series off the top of my head. Go!

Well, I promise I don’t spend entire chapters describing intricate systems of trade and macroeconomics for the fictional kingdoms. That’s got to put me above 70% of the genre right there.

The Authordome can sometimes feel a bit one-sided. Is there anything you'd like to ask me?

How’d you get someone as big as Drew Hayes on your blog?

Authordome answer: Every dog has its day? The sun even shines on a dog's ass everyone once in a while? Something to do with dogs...

Per Amazon, this is a list of the top fantasy authors. In the known universe.

1. J.K. Rowling
2. Shannon Meyer
3. Bella Forrest
4. Diana Gabaldon
5. George R.R. Martin
98. Drew Hayes

Thoughts?

Holy shit, I’m in the top 100? I was not expecting that. Haven’t even had a release in months. Um, I guess to put my thoughts concisely: Woohoo!

Sticking with this, your name recently popped up on author Christopher Moore's Amazon page in the "Customers also bought items by" list. As of Oct. 7, your name seems to have been replaced with... Christopher Moore. Tell me. How does this make you feel? Happy? Sad? 

Honestly just the fact that it happened at all was pure encouragement. I was not expecting to be sharing an audience with Christopher Moore yet. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a career goal and something I’m working toward, but one day I plan to take that spot for good. Still, it’s an uphill battle, and there’s no sense in claiming victory before I’ve earned it.

What about the fact that I'm not even on your author page under the same section? Personally, that one stings.

Aw, don’t worry man. Keep at it, and one day you’ll get there.

In haiku format, tell us why we should read/buy/steal Going Rogue:

Five Adventurers
Hijinks, battle, monsters, and gold
Also there’s a pig

 

Notes from a query reader by Ryan Hill

 

A couple of months ago, I started reading query letters/excerpts for a publishing house. The responsibilities are simple. If a submission is good, I recommend that the higher-ups take a closer look. If a submission stinks, I flush it down the toilet, just like that author's hopes and dreams. 

MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

But I digress.

I'm not here to gloat. I'm here to help.

Query letters are a mixed bag. I don't care if you've had other stuff published. A publishing history in a query gives me hope that the excerpt will be solid, but it's no a guarantee. A query letter needs to sell the manuscript first, yourself second. It doesn't matter if you won third prize in a beauty contest. 

This is what I'm looking to be sold on:

  • Can you write? A poorly written query letter typically spells doom for the excerpt. Just sayin'. One usually begets the other. That query needs to be edited to within an inch of its life. Make it snappy. Give it a voice. A unique voice. I'll talk more about voice later, but you're selling your book. DO THAT TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITIES.
  • Is the story good? Some queries... ugh. Awful, terrible story ideas. Other ideas are solid, but the writing isn't there. The story needs to stand out. Is it a fantasy? Then give a fresh take on the genre. Not just a different world with a hard to pronounce name, a whole new perspective. LIke Deadpool. Heck, even if the story isn't right for the publisher, good is good. I'll pass it on and let the powers that be decide what to do next. 
  • Does the story have a strong voice? This is what can give a story that edge. Push it over the top. Like Samuel L. Jackson says in Pulp Fiction, "personality goes a long way." An editor can work around a strong voice. A so-so story can be tightened up if the voice is there. The argument could almost be made that voice is more important than the story. Anyone can write in a neutral style, but it's the voice that can really set a manuscript apart from the others.
  • SWEET! Good story, strong voice... but can the publisher sell it? This is like the boss level for query submissions. The final battle. A story can be intriguing, the voice is there, but a publisher may not know how to sell it, etc. This has happened to me a few times. It's the way she goes. The story has to be different enough to stand out, but familiar enough to be relatable to a mainstream audience. It's kind of a Catch-22. 

Most of the queries I pass on tend to have the same problems:

  • The author isn't there yet. Keep writing, learning, and improving. You'll get there if you put the work in.
  • The manuscript isn't there yet. Maybe the manuscript is sloppy and needs more editing. Maybe the writing is lackluster and missing a voice, i.e. the author isn't there yet. Regardless, and I can't stress this enough. FIND YOUR VOICE. Mine is sarcastic and silly, with a bit of anxiety thrown in here and there. Hemingway's was terse and soaked in booze. WHAT'S YOURS? Keep writing, learning, and improving until you find your voice. A lot will start falling into place once you discover your voice.
  • The story isn't appealing. It has a been there, done that feel. Probably best to chalk up this submission as experience gained and move on to the next one.
  • The story is appealing, but not what the publisher is looking for. Such is life. If the manuscript is good enough, it'll find a home. Or it can be self-published. 
  • Everything is there. Story, voice, marketability, all of it. The problem? The excerpt is drowning in exposition.

Besides poor writing, too much exposition is the biggest killer of queries. World building is difficult. I know. Basic rule of thumb: only reveal parts of your universe when it's absolutely necessary. If it isn't important, leave it out. More often than not, exposition kills all narrative momentum. In screenwriting, the first ten pages are by far the most important. If a script doesn't don't grab the reader by, that script is going in the trash. Same goes for book submissions. Want to hook a reader?

GIVE YOUR EXCERPT A JAMES BOND MOMENT.

Throw the reader into the middle of the action right away. It's okay to let the reader try to wrap their mind around what's happening. That's called ENGAGING THE READER. Think about Harry Potter. The series begins with Harry as a baby being dropped off at his aunt's house. All the reader knows is Harry's parents were murdered and magic was involved. That's. It. The reader doesn't need to know anything else at that point. J.K. Rowling was so smart with her world-building. She eased the reader into that world, spending TWO WHOLE BOOKS ON SIMPLY ESTABLISHING HOGWARTS AND THE CHARACTERS. It's only in the third entry, Prisoner of Azkaban, that Rowling opens up the world. 

Look, too much exposition at the beginning is something I've been guilty of myself. But think about it. Remember the Star Trek reboot? That opening was AMAZING. The audience didn't have a clue what was going on until it was necessary. The only real exposition (that it was George Kirk's ship, his wife was on board, pregnant with James) comes naturally in the course of action, not because the film stopped to tell the audience about these people.

Ever see The Matrix? The first half of that film is fantastic, featuring one of the best cinematic twists of all-time. What comes after? The exposition. EVERYTHING comes to a stand-still so Keanu can learn about this new world. 

When it comes to exposition, start small. Work your way out. Not every piece of the universe you've created needs to be established right away. Not all of it even needs to be revealed to the reader. If it doesn't advance the plot, it doesn't matter - especially when trying to hook a reader. Exposition, taken as a whole, slows the action down. 

When trying to impress a reader with a query submission, focus on the action. You've got a finite amount of story to impress someone like me. Don't waste it on exposition. Trust me. I WANT TO BE IMPRESSED. I WANT TO MAKE IT DIFFICULT FOR THE POWERS THAT BE TO CHOOSE WHICH MANUSCRIPT TO PUBLISH. I MAY HAVE AN EVIL CACKLE, BUT I AM ON YOUR SIDE.

One big item to remember: EVERYTHING IS SUBJECTIVE. One submission I recommended a pass on wound up receiving a publishing offer from the powers that be. Everybody's tastes are different. Just because I'm not in love with a submission, doesn't mean the next person will feel the same way.

Don't lose hope if you get a rejection or two. Keep at it, KEEP GETTING BETTER, and eventually the worm will turn. The sun will shine on a dog's ass. The broken clock will be right. All it takes is one yes. The only failures are those who give up. The rest are still working toward their dreams and goals.

Ask a Demon! by Ryan Hill

 

What makes someone an expert on advice? Experience? Education? Is a former heroin addict more qualified to help a drug addict seeking help than a doctor or psychiatrist? Does the addict's real-life experience make for a better perspective? How about a demon that's existed for thousands upon thousands of years? A demon that's seen and done most everything one could do within the realm of human existence. 

Bash a caveman over the head with a giant bone? Check.

Get crucified? More than once? Check and double check.

Destroy a fragile peace between two warring nations by deflowering a princess betrothed to a prince from another land? Check, check, and check.

In short, don't hate the player. Hate the game.

Have a question for me? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with the subject line ASK A DEMON. Otherwise, the nitwit who owns the email address will answer your question. Trust me, you don't want that happening. He's a boob.

Joshua from Charlotte asks:

My boss is a real jerk. He makes us work Saturdays, but he never shows up. He's making our lives miserable. Any ideas on how to get him back?

Hmmmm yeah. Is your boss Bill Lundberg, by any chance? Do you need to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too?

Question. If your boss never shows up to work on Saturday, how will your boss know if you don't? If by some chance your boss can find out if you played hookie, hire a prostitute to seduce your boss, then make a sex tape. Not only will working on Saturdays be a thing of the past, but so will your salary... because methinks a raise is in order.

Jake from Miami asks:

What's Hell like? Are there multiple levels? Is it hot, or is that just an old wives tale? Speaking of old wives, what's the easiest way to dispose of a body? Asking for a friend.

I love Hell. Spent the past million or so years calling that place my home. Hell is also a lot like the Matrix. It can't be described, only seen. Dante got some stuff right in his Inferno, but I can't say what. You'll have to see for yourself!

As for the body, you can do what Walter White did in that one episode of Breaking Bad. If your stomach is too weak to handle melting a human body, find a pig farm. Those porkers will take care of the rest.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

 

THE CARVER'S Jacob Devlin Steps Into THE AUTHORDOME by Ryan Hill

 

Full disclosure: I've only read maybe 35 pages of Jacob Devlin's debut THE CARVER. Not because it's bad - on the contrary, I'm digging it. There are a lot of moving parts, and Jacob isn't rushing to have them converge, which I love. It's the sign of a good storyteller. 

No, I haven't read more because I've been knee deep in edits for THE BOOK OF BART - VERSE 2. It's amazing how sometimes it takes 30-45 minutes to come up with one throwaway joke that the reader may do little more than smirk at.

But I digress. It's time... FOR ANOTHER EDITION OF AUTHORDOME!

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

THE GIRL IN THE RED HOOD has been looking for her mother for six months, searching from the depths of New York’s subways to the heights of its skyscrapers . . . 

THE PRINCE looks like he’s from another time entirely, or maybe he’s just too good at his job at Ye Old Renaissance Faire . . . 

THE ACTRESS is lighting up Hollywood Boulevard with her spellbinding and strikingly convincing portrayal of a famous fairy. Her name may be big, but her secrets barely fit in one world . . . 

Fifteen-year-old Crescenzo never would have believed his father’s carvings were anything more than “stupid toys.” All he knows is a boring life in an ordinary Virginia suburb, from which his mother and his best friend have been missing for years. When his father disappears next, all Crescenzo has left is his goofy neighbor, Pietro, who believes he’s really Peter Pan and that Crescenzo is the son of Pinocchio. What’s more: Pietro insists that they can find their loved ones by looking to the strange collection of wooden figurines Crescenzo’s father left behind. 

With Pietro’s help, Crescenzo sets off on an adventure to unite the real life counterparts to his figurines. It’s enough of a shock that they’re actually real, but the night he meets the Girl in the Red Hood, dark truths burst from the past. Suddenly, Crescenzo is tangled in a nightmare where magic mirrors and evil queens rule, and where everyone he loves is running out of time.

Link to Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/29918359-the-carver

Purchase Links:

BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo TBD | iBooks

Can Jacob fictitiously survive THE AUTHORDOME? Let's find out...

THE CARVER is a road trip novel. What's your favorite road trip book/movie/etc.? THE CARVER is an acceptable answer. 

ZOMBIELAND is definitely an eternal fave. I think I’ll always be partial to those goofy movies about the Griswolds though, especially VEGAS VACATION. If THE CARVER becomes a movie one day, it is my secret wish that “Holiday Road” goes on the soundtrack :-P

Are there any classic characters you wanted to include in THE CARVER that you weren't able to? 

In the earliest draft before Blaze (Publishing - the pub that released THE CARVER) even saw the manuscript, Tarzan was part of the Order, but something didn’t feel right about that. I also wanted to bring out some familiar Oz names in bigger roles, which are in the public domain, but there was already so much going on in both THE CARVER and the world of Oz retellings. I imagine Dorothy and friends are probably running around in the background somewhere, but I’m going to leave that up to the reader’s imagination. 

Are you familiar with THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN? That's supposedly a great Alan Moore graphic novel series, but it was such a crappy film it forced Sean Connery into retirement. Anyway. Are you familiar with the property? Do you see any parallels between it and THE CARVER? 

Hey, I saw that movie! But I liked the idea of the movie better than I liked the actual movie. I’ve always been a big fan of mashups, crossovers, and letting worlds collide, so I can definitely see the parallel.

You've recently taken up sword fighting, correct? How do you think Pinocchio would fare in a sword fight? I feel like his opponent would just chip away at him, piece by piece. 

Yessss! I’m officially a “white belt” in Haidong Gumdo, which isn’t an impressive accomplishment. But see, I actually feel like Pinocchio has the advantage. Because I’d be over there trying to block his sword, but he could just run around spewing lies and gain the advantage. Either his nose could skewer me, or I’d get so tired of infinitely hacking at it that I’d just, like, black out or something.

Speaking of swords, how heavy is the one you wield? Does having one make you wonder how people in the Middle Ages could fight with one while also wearing a suit of metal? Seems kind of crazy to me. 

Ha! It’s one of those long wooden practice bokkens, which is probably less than two pounds. Sometimes after spending 75 minutes flinging it around though, it hurts to lift a pencil, so I have crazy respect for anybody who can run around with a real sword while wearing armor and balancing on a horse!

Does your sword have a name? If not, it should. Even King Arthur's sword was named Excalibur. 

I was actually thinking about this on my way home today! I haven’t settled on one yet, but I’ve thought of a few options: Godric (Eh! Get it, because of Gryffindor?), Veturius (except I already named my car that, so…), or something totally unassuming like, maybe Larry. Because nobody would ever be afraid of a Larry, right? So its terrible power would catch my enemies way off guard.

Ryan note: Definitely go with Larry. Or Bob. Not even Google knows who Veturius was. GOOGLE!

Next up for you is a novella set in THE CARVER's universe. What else do you have coming up? Any other series planned? How many installments do you foresee for THE CARVER? 

If I can finish the story in three novels, that’s what I’m aiming for. The hope was always a trilogy because it would be a nice tribute to the central trio of Pinocchio, Alice, and Peter Pan, or for each of their kids. There will also be a number of novellas released in between to offer backstories on the other characters and worlds. It’s strange, exciting and a little sad to think about, but the series needs an endgame, and it’s only a matter of time before I finish the story of THE CARVER and need to branch out into new material. I have three fun ideas written down that I’ve been hanging onto for a while (little teaser: sea demons, aliens, or reality shows). We’ll see what calls to me first!

Do you have any other creative re-imaginings floating around in your head, like making ALICE IN WONDERLAND about some hippy in 1960s San Francisco that's always tripping on psychedelics, which is why it's called ALICE IN WONDERLAND? If you haven't, you can have that Alice idea. Free of charge. 

Dude, I would totally read that! Wonderland’s actually my focus for THE CARVER’s sequel and it’s been a blast to play around with such an iconic place. One of my three ideas from the last question may or may not have elements of THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF if I ever get to it. Otherwise, I’d love to sink my teeth into an Inferno twist one day! But do I really wanna mess with Dante, though? Like, really really?

Ryan note: No. Stay away from Dante and his Inferno. That stuff falls into BOOK OF BART territory. I'd have to fight you. I've never swung a sword, so you've got me there. I'd have to pull a Bart and show up in a tux, rocking a Walther PPK. DO NOT DOUBT ME!

In haiku format, tell us why we should read/buy THE CARVER. 

Wait, that's five words, right?
Followed by five other words?
Forgot how these work.

Ummm...

Peter Pan grew up.
Why's Hansel acting so strange?
Let's take a road trip.

Thanks Jacob!

Thank YOU man!

THE AUTHORDOME with THE SURRENDERED Author Case Maynard! by Ryan Hill

 

Case Maynard spent 20 years working in the legal and medical fields before hanging it all up to pursue writing. With The Surrendered, Case's writing dreams have come to fruition. But that's not important here.

What is important is whether or not she can survive the grinder that is... the AUTHORDOME.

Two authors enter.

Two authors leave.

After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.

Now available!

Amazon - iBooks - Barnes & Noble - Kobo - Signed Copies - Goodreads

 

 
 

Hey Case! Thank you for submitting yourself to the endurance challenge known as the AUTHORDOME. Based on your debut novel, THE SURRENDERED, this may be a similar experience for you. Do you think you're prepared?

As prepared as I’ll ever be, Ryan. An added bonus to all of the research I did for The Surrendered and what it would take to survive an end of the world scenario is that now I’m basically a professional survivalist. Hit me with your best shot.

In THE SURRENDERED, children are the nation's most valuable resource? Does it have anything to do with Lionel Richie believing that they are the future? If not, WHY?

Not really. And it has nothing to do with Whitney Houston believing they are the future either. In fact, Whitney begged that the children be taught well and encouraged to lead the way. Unfortunately, the children in The Surrendered are treated as slaves and taught only the skills that are useful to the System and to their local communities: woodworking, medicinal herbs, weaponry, sewing, etc. It’s a sad life. Perhaps these kids will get enough of it and realize they have “Nothing Left to Give” (and that actually is a Lionel Ritchie song).

Ryan note: medicinal herbs sounds like a good skill...

I haven't read THE SURRENDERED, but it seems the children are put into some kind of work camp. Are there not child labor laws in this future you've created? Can just anyone exploit this free labor? I have some chores around the house that need doing...

Actually, it’s the laws of this new future that have turned these children into slaves. The System, in an effort to recoup money that was lost in a financial collapse, has made all of the kids taxable commodities. Parents are forced to pay exorbitant fees for their offspring. And if they don’t pay? The children are surrendered to work in the local mines, mills, and farms to produce the items that the communities now rely on for survival. It’s possible you could strike a deal with the Master or the Overseer and see about getting some help around your house, especially if there is compensation involved. These new leaders will do most anything, as long as it benefits them.

Will THE SURRENDERED be a trilogy of terror? Quadrology? Septology? Some form of biology/zoology?

If I could figure out a way to make The Surrendered a zoology, I would (because that would be totally cool!). But for now, it’s just a trilogy. I’m currently working on the second book, tentatively titled The Underground. While The Surrendered is a tale set in the sleepy south, The Underground moves the characters further north to a steampunky underground world full of awesome new inventions. It’s sort of my version of the “Industrial Revolution.”

THE SURRENDERED, with its plot revolving around kids in peril, brings to mind THE HUNGER GAMES series. Can you tell us the ways in which your novel will make THE HUNGER GAMES bow and surrender (GET IT????? BECAUSE KATNISS USES A BOW AND YOUR BOOK IS CALLED THE SURRENDERED????????) to your far superior work of fiction.

I somehow doubt The Hunger Games will ever bow and surrender to any other work of fiction, even my far superior one. There are obvious similarities between The Hunger Games and The Surrendered: futuristic, totalitarian government-ruled worlds that use oppression to control the populations, however, there are many more differences than there are similarities. I do think that fans of The Hunger Games will find in The Surrendered some of the same elements that made them fans of Collins’ work, but I also believe they will find in it new and unique characters, plots, and an altogether different tone that will make it a favorite for them also.

Aside from the obvious (diapers, clothes, toys, food, alcohol - for the parents), why are children so expensive in THE SURRENDERED? Is it that you don't like kids? It's okay to say yes. This is a safe place.

The children are only expensive because of the new government rule. The Commander, who issued The Tax to begin with, cares only about lining his pockets with the fees received from the families. He’s altogether not a nice guy. Not even a little. And I adore children. At least the bigger ones who can basically fend for themselves.

I see you're a Florida State fan. Did you go to school there? I went to N.C. State. Ever since the '80s ended, the Wolfpack have for some reason been banned from having nice things. What's it like having nice things, like a Top 5 football team?

I was born and raised in Tallahassee, FL, but I didn’t go to school at Florida State. I lived in Atlanta briefly, and this is where I attended school, but I never stopped loving my Noles. Being a Seminole fan is the best; we have the most awesome fans in the world! And we’re top two. Just saying.

Ryan note: No, Florida State does not have the best fans in the world. Try losing for almost 30 years and still having a rabid fan base. Then talk to me about having the "best" fans. Ugh.

Ryan note No. 2: I think you mean Top 12. Bwahahahahaha. Losers.

My little sister went to Georgia for grad school, so they're my de facto SEC team. They're good, but it's not the same. Sigh... (this is where you give me sympathy)

Hmmm. I’d like to offer sympathy, but I’m gonna horse laugh you instead. Georgia barely got by Nicholls last week. ROFL.

This is a question I ask every author. Tell us why we should read/buy THE SURRENDERED. In haiku format and ONLY haiku format.

Wow, really? But The Surrendered already uses up four of my seventeen syllables. Ok, here goes…

Plots of yesterday

Make way for The Surrendered

It’s the bomb AF

Boo-yah J You’re a trip, Ryan. Have seriously enjoyed this. Thanks so much for taking the time to participate in my blog tour. And, dude, you said you haven’t read The Surrendered. What are you waiting for?

Ryan note: I'm waiting for time to slow down, so I can have more of it :)

 

 

Ask a Demon! by Ryan Hill

 

Samantha, my angel-in-training cohort, asked me the other day if I thought I was actually helping people with my ASK A DEMON column. I wanted to do a spit take, but with a bit of Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2009 in my mouth, that wasn't happening. It's the worst sort of sin to waste fine wine, even for something as worthy as a spit take.

"It doesn't matter if I'm helping people," I said. "That's not the point."

"Isn't offering good advice the point of an advice column?" Sam asked.

"The point is to offer advice." I finished off my fantastic Rothschild. "It doesn't have to be good advice. It can be terrible, horrible, ruin your life advice."

It made no difference to me which kind of advice I gave.

Sam stormed off in a huff before I could say more on the matter. I also think she called me a ash foal. 

Weird.

Remember, if you need advice from me, shoot an email to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com. 

Gerome Marado from the seventh plane of Uranus asks:

When Aquarius is in the Second House and Jupiter is rising, what's the best way to kill a nosy neighbor? 

Well. Someone is on a lot of psychedelics, way too into astrology, or both. My guess is both.

Mother Teresa could be in the Second House and your temperature could be rising because of an Ecstasy overdose, it won't change how to kill a nosy neighbor. 

There's a million ways to do the deed, but do you want to get away with it?

If you don't care about prison, walk up to your neighbor and blast them in the face. With a gun. Or shotgun. Heaven, a good bow and arrow shot might do it.

If you do want to get away with it, and why wouldn't you, that's a bit... trickier. If the neighborhood is aware of your issues with the neighbor, the cops will find out and come after you. If you set your neighbor's house on fire, the fire department would probably figure out the cause was arson. So. Here's what you do. It may involve killing yourself in the process, but totally worth it.

Invite your neighbor over for a cookout. Get some food that's laced with... whatever. Something that food can get laced with and cause death and/or mental degradation. I'd Google it for you, but I'm too lazy, so do it your own blessed self.

Develop a tolerance to said whatever. 

Lace the food with it.

Pray your new neighbor isn't worse than your last one.

 

Someone in no way, shape, or form associated with PETA asks:

Animal sacrifices. Do they work?

Depends. Trying to win the love of a beautiful woman? Convince the jury your client didn't embezzle millions from Hospice residents? Make sure your favorite team will win the big game?

Because animal sacrifice will do none of that.

The only time an animal sacrifice works is if the animal is sacrificed for food or sustenance. Nothing else. Killing an animal isn't going to win you glory, ensure an acquittal, or make someone fall in love. You're just killing a defenseless animal, you monster.

Correction.

If you kill a grizzly bear with your bare hands, that's totally bad ass and will work in that - if you survive - you'll forever be known as one of the manliest men to ever consider themselves a man among men.

That is all.

Need advice from Bartholomew? Want to know what movie to see this weekend? Send your question to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com.

Ask a Demon! by Ryan Hill

 

Ah, Wednesday. The Day of Wodin. Named for the Norse God Odin, aka this greased up peanut head:

What a tool. He doesn't even have real horns! It's a disgrace!

On a more serious note, it's undeniable that helmet screams, "I wish I was Transformer!" 

A metal eye patch? Really? Did all the other Norse Gods pick on Odin for having a glass eye, so one day he decided to glue some metal patch over the empty eye cavity? LAME.

And that staff? Somebody is overcompensating for being a lame Norse God.

How did Odin get a day named after him? I should have a day named after me. Neigh, a week! A month! A year! ALL MEASUREMENTS OF TIME SHOULD BE NAMED AFTER ME REGARDLESS OF THE CONFUSION IT WOULD CAUSE THE WORLD. Period.

On to the questions!

Josh from Buzz City asks:

I'm in love with my best friend. How do I get her to notice me as more than just her "buddy?"

If you were a girl, I'd say invite her over for a sleepover. Sleep in the same bed. "Make a move," as they say in "the biz." Although in the adult entertainment industry, the staying would be, "make a movie."

There are lots of things you can do to get a girl's attention. Run around naked, while screaming and waving your arms. Tattoo her name across your forehead, complete with little hearts and fairies in between the letters. Write her a letter professing your love, then tie it to a big rock and throw it through her car's windshield. 

Here are some other suggestions, but bear in mind the authorities - or worse, her dad - may misinterpret the gesture as criminal, so buyer beware:

  • Stand outside of her window wearing a mask and holding a knife until she notices
  • Set her house on fire
  • Drug her, take her to Vegas, then marry her. This way, she's locked in!

I asked Samantha for her two cents.

"Be honest with her. Tell her how you truly feel. If she feels the same, ask her out on a date. You could al-"

And no more comments from Sam. What horrible advice! Tell the girl how you feel. Ha!

Sam is nagging me to mention something about the movie Say Anything and a boom box? I don't know. She's been on this weird John Cusack kick lately. It's disturbing.

Ratchet 'N Dank asks:

Bart. I'm stuck. I'm not sure if I should study engineering in college like my dad wants or if I should try to become an actor, which is what I want. Any ideas on how to decide?

Easy. Do you prefer men in tights or men with pocket protectors?

Until next time...

Bartholomew signing off

Need advice from Bartholomew? Send it to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with the subject ASK A DEMON. Bartholomew will most likely respond. He's cool like that.

 

ASK A DEMON! by Ryan Hill

 

 

What is it they say? Ask and ye shall receive? "They" always forget the second part of that: Ask and ye shall receive... for a price.

The cost varies, depending on what's being asked. Sometimes, it's slapping your old, angry biology teacher in the face during class. One poor soul wanted a position of power within Henry VII's court, so I pulled some strings and made him Groom of the Stool. What does that entail? Glad you asked!

The Groom of the Stool was considered "one of the most trusted" members of a king's court, or to phrase it for modern times, his entourage. Why? Because the Groom of the Stool was closer to the king than anyone, perhaps even the queen. See, the Groom was charged with helping the king successfully navigate certain... bodily functions. 

Also, yes. That guy gave up his soul for the position. Kind of a crappy trade off, don't you think? Bit of a stinker? I could go on for days.

Audrey the Curious Author asks:

I really want my book to be a bestseller. Like, make me rich beyond my wildest dreams. Should I make a bargain with your boss, aka SATAN, so I can achieve my goals? I’d really appreciate your thoughts on this, the pros and cons of selling my immortal soul.

Thanks!

You're welcome! Though, I haven't given you any advice yet.

Don't make a bargain with Lucifer. He's a dirty old man who will take everything you have, including the pigtails you sported as a five-year-old that swayed to and fro while you skipped down the sidewalk, your mother beaming with love and happiness. You think Lou messes around? Look at the guy!

 
 

On a side note, making a deal with Lucifer robs some poor demon of making commission on your soul. Don't do that. It's selfish.

As for whether you should sell your soul for fame, fortune, success, maybe a bungalow in Maui... OF COURSE YOU SHOULD DO IT! WHO CARES ABOUT A SOUL? IT'S SOME METAPHYSICAL, MYSTICAL THING THAT SUPPOSEDLY LEAVES YOUR PHYSICAL BODY WHEN YOU DIE. WHAT GOOD DOES IT DO? NOBODY KNOWS! YOU WON'T MISS IT!

Souls are dumb. You don't need one.

To play devil's advocate, however...

Christopher Marlowe sold his soul to become a famous playwright. Familiar with him? Famous playwright, murdered before his time? He's remembered these days for writing a play about a guy who sells his soul to the devil

Think about that.

Want your question answered by me? Send them to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with ASK A DEMON in the subject line. Who knows? You might get lucky and I'll answer your question.

Until next time...

Bartholomew signing off

Ask a demon! by Ryan Hill

 

Welcome to the inaugural edition of ASK A DEMON. It's kind of like a Reddit Ask Me Anything, only with me. A demon. Well... ex-demon. For simplicity's sake, let's act like I'm still a full-fledged demon.

I'm Bartholomew, and I used to be - excuse me - I AM a demon. Been around for thousands of millennia, ruined plans, parties, virgins, all that jazz. Go to LinkedIn if you're looking for a resume, because if being around for thousands of millennia (and all that jazz) doesn't convince you of my credentials for handing out the greatest advice in the history of the known universe, then do me a favor. Ask someone to slap you across the face. As hard as they can. It doesn't matter who they are, just ask. After, LET THEM SLAP YOU, then tell them thanks from Bartholomew. If you need more proof of my credibility, read THE BOOK OF BART. It's about me. By me. For me. And you too, I guess, but mostly me.

Let's see who needs some of my tried and mostly true advice.

Lay Lady Layla asks:

Humans and demons have different skin, and you're always so disgustingly attractive, I have to know. What is your skin care routine?

Demons technically don't have skin. We did when we were angels, but that got messed up when all of us went to Hell. Demons have scales like a snake, but we don't molt. That would be the pits. The good news is demons can disguise our true from underneath human skin. Sort of like a Terminator, but easier to manage and higher quality. In terms of a skin care routine, I try to keep things simple.

Danielle Don't Tell asks:

What is the most unassuming way to get slated for Hell?

Assuming the most assuming way to get into Hell is to be the mastermind behind, say... the Holocaust? Probably saying something along the lines of, "I'd give anything for an hour alone with insert name of person you want five minutes alone with HERE," around the right demon. They'll set it up, but don't be surprised if that hour is spent in a broken elevator along with a screaming baby, a panicky woman who thinks all of you are about to die, a Diabetic in need of an insulin shot, and a man who's hungover and claustrophobic, all while you're stuck with a bladder that will explode at any moment. 

Just sayin'.

Juan John Silver asks:

What's the best way to get a cat out of a tree?

One could go up there and get the cat themselves, wait for the cat to get bored and come down, or call the fire department, but what's the fun in any of those? Instead, I propose stealing a car - the greasiest one available - and crashing it into the tree going at least 40 miles-per-hour. In theory, the force should throw the cat from the tree. And since cats always land on their feet, no harm no foul. Right?

Want your question answered by me? Send them to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with ASK A DEMON in the subject line. Who knows? You might get lucky.

Until next time...

Bartholomew signing off

 

 

 

Shadow Fall Cover Reveal!!! by Ryan Hill

 

Happy Cover Reveal day! Blaze Publishing has another amazing design to share with the world today. We're revealing the cover to SHADOW FALL by Audrey Grey. This YA sci-fi dystopian will definitely keep you on the edge of your seat as Maia is pitted against others in the ultimate game of survival. Join the Facebook Party tonight from 5-11pm EST, and mark your calendars for release day 11/22!

Goodreads     Pre-Order     Request A Review Copy

The asteroid hurtling toward the earth will kill billions.

The Emperor and his Gold Court will be safe in their space station, watching from the stars. The Silvers will be protected underground. But the Bronzes must fight it out at the Shadow Trials for the few remaining spots left on the space station.

When an enigmatic benefactor hands Maia Graystone a spot in the Trials, she won’t just get a chance at salvation for her and her baby brother, Max: She gets to confront the mother who abandoned her in prison, the mad Emperor who murdered her father, and the Gold prince who once loved her. But it’s the dark bastard prince she’s partnered with that will make her question everything, including her own heart. With the asteroid racing closer every day, Maia must trust someone to survive. The question is who?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Audrey Grey lives in the charming state of Oklahoma, with her husband, two little people, and four mischievous dogs. You can usually find her hiding out in her office from said little people and dogs, surrounded by books and sipping kombucha while dreaming up wondrous worlds for her characters to live in.

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Introducing... ASK A DEMON by Ryan Hill

Have you ever needed advice on something, but were too scared to ask your parents? Want to know the best way to get revenge on that bully who won't stop giving you noogies? Then you've come to the right place!

Bartholomew, that handsome, smooth, dastardly scoundrel of a demon (his words, not mine) has graciously decided to take some time away from his busy schedule of chasing virgins and corrupting souls to answer questions from YOU, for FREE. Normally, this kind of thing requires payment in the form of a Maserati or, oh, YOUR SOUL, but Bartholomew is doing this for free. He'd never admit it, but personally? I think his friend Samantha put him up to it in the hopes he might actually help someone. Can't say for sure, though. 

Send your questions to ryan@ryanhillwrites.com with the subject line ASK A DEMON, and maybe Bartholomew will answer your question!

In the meantime, you can follow Bartholomew's shenanigans in THE BOOK OF BART, with parts 2 and 3 coming 2017!

So my credit card number got stolen by Ryan Hill

Which is awesome. And a great way to start the weekend. Really. Not just saying that.

Someone, I don't know who, but let's call them Asscheeks McGillicutty, tried to charge $140 worth of mess at a Sears in Virginia to my credit card. Fortunately, the card company caught it.

But I still have to go through the hassle of re-entering that info at places where I pay bills, subscribe to things, etc. 

Clearly, if Asscheeks had met me, things would be different. They'd stand in awe of my classically handsome face. They'd laugh at my jokes until they wet themselves. Not much, just a drop or two. Enough to know they needed to get control of themselves.

I imagine Asscheeks has patchy hair on their head, and what is there looks like cobwebs... maybe even has a fly or two stuck in there. They're probably wearing an old, tattered Hulkamania tank-top that was purchased in 1997 at a garage sale. I'm guessing it was found under a pile of moldy towels someone tried to sell for a dollar. I bet Asscheeks, if Asscheeks is a male, has donated blood and whatnot to places all over the country, so... the future has that to look forward to. As for Asscheeks McGillicutty, I hope their future involves an infuriating bout of PokemonGO where all they find are level 12 Rattata that sends them into a rage that lasts so long, they don't notice the steamroller coming at them from a mile away, despite the driver yelling, "Move! I don't want you to get squished!" repeatedly for thirty minutes to no avail. 

Then, as quickly as Asscheeks McGillicutty entered my life, they were gone. Squished. Flattened like a pancake on the road.

Seems like a fair and just fate.

On Going From One Manuscript to Another by Ryan Hill

 

I've picked up on an interesting trend with my writing. Ever since I finished The Book of Bart - Verse 1 - the draft that was submitted to agents and publishers - I've had a tendency to bounce around from manuscript to manuscript for whatever reason. Sometimes it's from writer's block, others because my attention has been pulled elsewhere. The reasons vary, but the point is the same.

I struggle to stick with one manuscript from beginning to completion.

It's not a good or a bad thing, but it is a thing with me. Take my latest release, The Conch Shell of Doom. I wound up writing about 30k words, then abandoned the manuscript. My anxiety/depression had been gnawing at me the entire time I'd been writing (even before), and I'd had enough, so I dropped it and moved on to another book, one that was intended to be more commercial and the first of a trilogy called The Luminari Crown. I only made it 20k words into that one before the anxiety/depression got to me again, and I dropped that manuscript as well. 

I took some time for myself, then sat down to read what I'd written of The Conch Shell of Doom. Without the anxiety clouding my judgment, I noticed that Conch Shell was pretty good, and worth finishing. In between then and now, I had both The Book of Bart and my zombie novel Dead New World published, forcing me to leave Conch Shell for a time. In between edits on Conch Shell, I started The Book of Bart - Verse 2, then had to leave it for more Conch Shell edits, and wound up starting a dark, young adult mystery novel. Earlier this week, I finished the first draft of Bart 2. It's okay if you're having trouble keeping up.

The playing of musical chairs with manuscripts has paid off in an unexpected way. So many writers - myself included - can get so deep into a story they can't see the forest for the trees. Leaving a manuscript to work on something else not only gives you breathing room and the chance to use creative muscles that may have atrophied on the previous work, but it gives you perspective.

Yes, it's difficult getting back into the flow of a manuscript this way, but after a couple of days, it feels like I never left. I also feel refreshed upon return, which brings new ideas that wouldn't have popped up if I hadn't moved to something else. Sure, some continuity issues can arise, especially with things from the beginning of the novel, but that's what editing is for; to smooth out the story and flesh out portions that need more exploration. 

I don't know that I'd recommend this method of writing, but it's been working for me the last few years. If you're stuck or feeling down about your work though, it may be just the ticket to helping the manuscript get back on track.

Enjoy!

Cover reveal! Case Maynard's The Surrendered by Ryan Hill

 

Happy Cover Reveal day! Blaze Publishing has another gorgeous design to share with the world today. We're revealing the cover to THE SURRENDERED by Case Maynard. This YA dystopian will definitely have your pulse pounding as a tax is placed on the financially devastated country's most valuable resource--the children. Join the Facebook Party tonight from 5-11pm EST, and mark your calendars for release day 9/20!



After a financial collapse devastates the United States, the new government imposes a tax on the nation’s most valuable resource—the children.

Surrendered at age ten—after her parents could no longer afford her exorbitant fees—Vee Delancourt has spent six hard years at the Mills, alongside her twin, Oliver. With just a year to freedom, they do what they can to stay off the Master’s radar. But when Vee discovers unspeakable things happening to the younger girls in service, she has no choice but to take a stand—a decision that lands her on the run and outside the fence for the first time since the System robbed her of her liberty.

Vee knows the Master will stop at nothing to prove he holds ultimate authority over the Surrendered. But when he makes a threat that goes beyond what even she considers possible, she accepts the aid of an unlikely group of allies. Problem is, with opposing factions gunning for the one thing that might save them all, Vee must find a way to turn oppression and desperation into hope and determination—or risk failing all the children and the brother she left behind.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


With over 20 years’ experience in the legal and medical fields, Case Maynard decided to trade in her briefs and reports to write the stories that have been floating around in her head since childhood. She lives with her two teenagers and husband in South Georgia, while maintaining a long-distance liaison with her oldest daughter and partner in crime in Alaska. When not writing, she enjoys reading as often as possible, binge watching anything good on Netflix, and all things NCAA football (Go Noles!). You can learn more about Case and her stories on her website.

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Coming soon! Paired with a dark prince in a murderous game of survival, Maia Graystone discovers the only thing more dangerous than the Emperor’s court is her conflicted heart. The YA Sci-fi Apocalyptic SHADOW FALL by Audrey Grey releases in November, but you can sign up for review copies now.



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