Sunday, October 27, 2013

Interview with Donna Tellum about Debut Novel

Today we have a special guest, author Donna Tellum. Her debut novel Heart of the Assassin was released just last month. I was privileged to get a first look at the book prior to its release when Donna contacted me at WAKE Editing about an edit.  Here is my review of Heart of the Assassin:

Heart of the Assassin is a thrilling tale of one woman's troubled, murderous past and the gruesome career choice it leads her to—professional assassination. However, being a hit man, or woman, isn't all it's cracked up to be, especially when Erica Drago is thrust into the difficult dilemma between seeking retribution for her family's vicious murder and keeping the man she loves.

Fans of
La Femme Nikita and The Bourne Identity will love this heart-thumping story. I look forward to reading more from Donna Tellum.

After the release I had a chance to ask Donna a few questions, and here’s what she had to say:

Weston: Thanks for giving me the chance to tell people about the new release. I’m sure readers will love it, but one question has been tickling the back of my mind. Was this always intended to be a series, or did you realize once you started writing that it needed to be one? 

Donna: By the middle of chapter 2, I realized Erica Drago’s story could go on indefinitely. The story in my head was too big for one book, and it had to be a series.

Weston: It’s always a rush when that happens, isn’t it? Kind of daunting, too. Does your inspiration ever come from people you know, and have they ever figured it out?

Donna: Yes and No. The characters are composites of people I have met and know well.  But no one has figured out who they are… so far.

Weston: Some of those characters can certainly be gruesome. Let’s hope no friends in particular see themselves in those antagonists when they read your book. Now, which authors would you say have been the biggest influence on your writing?

Donna: Arthur Conan Doyle, Poe, Hammet, Ludlum, and LaClaire.

Weston: That’s quite a list with some real hard hitters. I can certainly see A.C. Doyle’s influence. The similarities to Sherlock Holmes are evident, but Heart of the Assassin is much faster paced. So, what does a typical day of writing for you involve?

Donna: Discipline is key.  I set a time to start writing and limit the session to up to four or five hours each day with the weekends off, just like any other job.

Weston: That’s certainly the way to do it, although it can be hard finding the motivation at times I’m sure. Speaking of motivation, if interest in making Heart of the Assassin into a movie were expressed, I’m sure that would make it easier. If your book were to be made into a movie, who would you like to direct it?

Weston: I could certainly see Liman. He did a great job with The Bourne Identity and the rest of the series. While The Fifth Element was quite different, Besson did a bang-up job on it. Who do you see starring in the movie version of your book?

Weston: Those are quite the choices. I loved Morena in Serenity, and her natural look is exactly as I pictured in your book. Rooney was great in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, but given the choice I’d prefer to see Morena as Erica Drago. As we’re finishing up here, if you could only give aspiring writers one piece of advice, what would it be?

Donna: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Get an editor. Get some honest beta readers who will tell you the truth as to where the holes are or where your script is lacking. 

Weston: Too true. That added help is invaluable. I appreciate you taking the time to visit with us today, Donna, and I encourage everyone to grab a copy of Heart of the Assassin. It’s available on Amazon.

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the Altered Realities series, A Life of Death collection, and Strange Circumstances

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

5 Ways A Life of Death is Stealing Harry Potter’s Quidditch Stick

Before I begin let me first alleviate some concerns by saying, no this is not some phallic reference to Harry Potter. It’s a children’s book collection for Christ’s sake. Those of you who initially thought such a horrible thing—you know who you are—shame on you!

So, what’s this article about?
Finding writing success for young adult books.

In quidditch, Harry’s Nimbus 2000 and Firebolt both set his competition aflame, sometimes literally with the help of his friends. The broomsticks are symbolic of everything he stands for: freedom, success, humanity, and magic. Magic is key here, simply because what J.K. Rowling accomplished was just that. Her success can be broken into 5 simple points.

1) Write about themes everyone in your target audience encounters.

HARRY POTTER: Themes like love, friendship, and good vs. evil are prevalent throughout the series and universal in humanity. However, a darker issue lies at the heart of the books: dealing with death.

A LIFE OF DEATH: Although of a completely different genre, my A Life of Death series utilizes many horrors that ultimately relate to this same theme. However, Alex Drummond, the main character, takes this a step further, not only attempting to cope with death in his own life but reliving the murders of those around him.

2) Draw from personal experience and explore your own emotions.

HARRY POTTER: J.K. Rowling drew from her experiences with love, poverty, a troubled marriage, problems at home, and the death of her mother. We see each of these in characters like Harry Potter with his troubled home life, Ron Weasley’s poverty-stricken family, and Hermione Granger’s feelings of isolation.

A LIFE OF DEATH: Approach your story with an understanding that the lessons within the tale must be drawn from personal experience, research, and then build off them. In A Life of Death, I pulled from my past and the stories confided in me about death, abuse, alcoholism, depression, isolation, then finally self-reliance and discovery. Impart what you know, helping your young readers feel the same joy and pain.

3) Develop believable characters with realistic dialogue.

HARRY POTTER: Rowling’s characters are alive in the minds of millions of readers. Their dialogue is realistic, short and stunted when necessary, and informal, like people actually speak. Potter could be the neighbor next door. Ron is like a friend from school. Even Severus Snape is a multilayered character you could pass on the sidewalk any day of the week. And Malfoy… well his actions and statements make him out to be the character we all love to hate.

A LIFE OF DEATH: Alex is the troubled teenager slouched in the back of class wearing a heavy metal t-shirt and jeans—the one who just wants to get out and stop by his one place of salvation, his father’s grave, before heading home to another hell. His words are indicative of a boy his age. Conversations when flirting with Paige, his school crush, or fighting with his siblings are just like you see in everyday life, often curt or apathetic. At other moments his speech may linger or be hesitant depending on the scene. Just make it real.

4) Tell a story people connect with, and leave them feeling fulfilled.

HARRY POTTER: Each book of Harry Potter’s story ends with a culmination of events, successfully overcoming Lord Voldemort and forcing him back temporarily—but at a cost. There is almost never a resolution in life without paying the piper. It might be the death of a friend or loved one like James and Lilly Potter, Cedric Diggory, or the suffering of Jenny Weasley.

A LIFE OF DEATH: Alex’s father was killed by a drunk driver. Overcoming this and succeeding when confronted by realistic villains like his stepfather Steve McCullin, known throughout as the drunk, can be accomplished. Unfortunately Charon, the ferryman of the dead, always requires payment in full. It is the same when writing a memorable ending. Suffering must be endured for success to be achieved.

5) Great villains are the true embodiment of humanity’s vile characteristics. Make yours memorable.

HARRY POTTER: Lord Voldemort is supreme and the worst possible evil known to man… or muggle. His partially formed characteristics make him inhuman, but he’s close enough to send shivers down your spine. His clothes cloak him in mystery, and his actions speak louder than words. Murder is committed at a whim without conscience. What’s worse is until the end, Malfoy appears to be Voldemort reincarnated. Now that’s a villain.

A LIFE OF DEATH: The main antagonist in A Life of Death is human and revealed early as Alex’s stepfather. He is the embodiment of evil possible within all of us, carrying out his sins as a result of his dependency on drink. Mystery about his past exists throughout the novel, being revealed slowly. The reader often wonders how much humanity remains in his soul, as with Voldemort.

To find out more about J.K. Rowling’s experiences, watch Oprah’s interview. The series is great, but the keys to the literary kingdom are out there for all writers to use and abuse. Now it’s your turn. Take Harry’s quidditch broomstick and succeed where so many have failed.

For more information about my series, A Life of Death, you can pick up your e-copy on and most e-book retailers. A free serialized audiobook of book 1 can also be found as podcasts on iTunes and through

In addition to being published through Books of the Dead Press, Weston Kincade teaches English, writing, and edits novels professionally through WAKE Editing. To find out more, visit Weston’s blog or follow him on twitter @WestonKincade.

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the Altered Realities series, A Life of Death collection, and Strange Circumstances

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Books of the Dead Update!

The last week has been an exciting one with Books of the Dead Press. Roy Daley, the proprietor of Books of the Dead, recently attended a comic book convention, garnering a great deal of interest in all of our books. He was hard at work. We appreciate you getting out there, Roy.
 In addition, the Books of the Dead blog is about to hit the quarter-million hits mark. On top of that, one of my editing client's books, Mark Matthews, which was also picked up by Books of the Dead, was just released in print - see On the Lips of Children. To find out more about his writing, visit with him at Running, Writing, and Chasing the Dragon.

In celebration, all Books of the Dead e-publications will be priced at $.99 cents on for the entire week, Monday - Friday. Just follow this link for a list of all Books of the Dead Press e-books on Of course, the free episodes of A Life of Death will remain just that - free. Some of the others e-books are also free, so if you are into the paranormal, vampires, werewolves, ghosts, horror, and the like, take advantage of these great deals on quality books. I personally enjoyed On the Lips of Children, Mountain Home, Discoredia, Running Home, The Bell Witch, and so many more I can't name them all. Even the late Gary Brandner's renowned trilogy of The Howling books will be on sale.

Weston Kincade ~ Author of the Altered Realities series, A Life of Death collection, and Strange Circumstances