Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Samantha Combs and a Great Halloween Read!

So for the foreseeable future, I'll spend my Wednesdays spotlighting some other writer's book. And it works out perfectly that the first Wednesday falls on Halloween since Samatha Combs' newest book ties in so nicely.

Take it away: Samantha:


 No, really.  I didn't misspell it.  HELLOWEEN is my new short story collectoin. It's my eighth publication and my third adult horror collection. I am pleased to announce it will be available on Amazon within the next twelve hours.

To give you a little taste of it, I'm including the first few lines of each of the six stories.  Hope it whets your appetite and makes your skin crawl, even the tiniest little bit.

Samatha Combs delves into the darkness of the Halloween season, the decadence of October, and the evil of All Hallows Eve. Anf as usual, she asks you along for the ride.

Come meet all her new friends: an inventive chef, an abused wife with an unsua solution; the invisble freind so different in adulthood than when you were a kid; the self-made woman who learns that everything comes with a price; the woman of circumstance who learns neighbors can be more than just nosy; and, finally, a quiet, unassuming wife who hhas paid for too much attention to her husband's, um, hobby.

So, go ahead, mix, minfle, and enjoy meeting them all, but remember...the scaries monsters ar the ones safely tucked away, hidden in the normal, the regular, the mundane. And in the end, Good does conquer Evil...just not EVER in the way you'll expect.

Reynaldo “Rey” Claude leaned over the wooden crate of tomatoes and inhaled deeply. The farmers market was always the best place to find the freshest ingredients for his culinary creations and Rey enjoyed his visits to gather the tasty produce. He strolled along the bustling wholesale market, making his choices and filling his basket. He was known there, and most vendors stopped to say hello and offer Rey a free sample of this, that, and the other. Which he took willingly. His food creations were like art pieces to him; each had to have its own special sauce. Pasta was pasta, but it was all about the sauce. He only wished his patrons felt the same.

Nadine Keller was running late. She still had a million things to do and had most of them on her mind, so when the GPS started talking to her, she didn’t immediately notice it. She had jumped into the Range Rover and flung the dry cleaning into the back seat. She dumped her overstuffed purse on the passenger seat and backed out of the mall parking lot. When she heard the calm, modulated voice telling her to turn left, she just obediently flicked on her signal and made the turn. Later, she would realize she didn’t remember programming an address into the GPS. She should have been wary then. GPS units didn’t just start talking to you out of the blue, demanding things. 

Not like husbands did.

Darla Demples punched the elevator button to the tenth floor. She shifted back and forth on her fashionable high heels and transferred her briefcase from her right shoulder to the left. Impatient, she poked the button again and began to tap her slender foot. Damn! You’d think the head of one of the largest cosmetics company could get a damn elevator when she wanted it.  Her gaze fell on her company logo, proudly emblazoned on literally every surface in the lobby: Dollyface Cosmetics. She read the catch phrase underneath, pride welling within her: Look like a living doll, forever. Dolly smiled wistfully, remembering how she came up with the slogan, after a sleepless night with a very cranky baby daughter. Denise was almost an adult now, in college hundreds of miles away. She knew she didn’t see her near as often as she should, but she always found a way to validate that. I’m working for her future. She knows that. My success will set her up for the rest of her life, her and her future children.


Just because I’m telling you this story, doesn’t mean I’ll be alive at the end of it. I just want to clear that up. So there aren’t any surprises at the end. It’s how I kind of like to do things. I’ve never been one for surprises. Even when I was younger, when my birthday would come around, I made sure I knew all the plans ahead of time. I never wanted the surprise party all the other kids were begging for. Neither did Lenny. He hated them even more than me. Only, he couldn’t tell anyone. You see, Lenny was my imaginary friend.
Or maybe I should say is. I’m fully grown now, with an education, a great job and even my own office. In fact, that’s where I am right now. Lenny is here, too, somewhere. He doesn’t always come out, only when he thinks I need him. I guess I needed him earlier.

I suppose I should get the whole story out now, before they arrive. Just looking down at the bodies makes me a little scared of what they will think. What they might do to me. Lenny keeps saying I didn’t have a choice. He told me I had to do it. If not, I’d never be my own person. I’d never be free.

Mindy Jasper hollered down the hall of her new house to her children.

"Jackson! Danielle! Hurry or we’ll be late for your first day of school.” She peered down the hall, then had to flatten herself against it to avoid being crushed by both of her children as they came hurtling toward her. Her daughter came first and spun around Mindy’s jeans-clad legs, hiding from her brother, who was only seconds behind her. He stopped when he reached his mom and sister, but only because he’d tired of the game. His sister didn’t look terrified anymore, not now that she was next to Mom, and to him, it was only fun if she was.


She heard the back door creak open and shut. Even though he always tried to be quiet, she never missed that unmistakable sound. Elaine Gardner had heard that sound a million times. Most of the time, it meant that her husband Roland was coming in from work, or from tending the garden, or from taking out the trash. She knew when it didn’t mean that. When he came in way past midnight, she knew it had an entirely different meaning: it meant her husband, Roland Gardner, was returning from a kill.

So, if any of these sound interesting or compel you to read them in some way, buy the book for a buck at Amazon and don't forget to tell me what you think.  Enjoy and Happy Halloween!

Samantha Combs, Author

Check out all SEVEN of my books!





Samantha's Biography

I am a Southern California author with seven published books, the Global Ebook Award-winning debut title: SPELLBOUND, currently in print and in production with, and GHOSTLY, both YA paranormals, SPELLBOUND's sequel, EVERSPELL, a middle grade horror called THE DETENTION DEMON, and two adult horror collections, TEETH AND TALONS and WAY PAST MIDNIGHT. WATERDANCER, a new YA fantasy, released in September of 2012. I enjoy writing YA paranormal romance and supernatural fantasy, but I also dabble in the horror and sci-fi genres as well, and writing for the Middle Grade audience. I have plans for many more books in the future!

When I'm not writing, I work full time and enjoy spending time with my husband and two children. My guilty pleasures include reality television, the Food Network channel and shoes. I truly believe I can accomplish anything if I have the right pair of shoes. And I adore totally inappropriate earrings.

I love writing and publishing my work and I am in awe of the technological advances of our lives. Ereaders and similar gadgets are bringing the written word to a generation that might never have discovered books otherwise and every time I see a kid pick one up to read something it fills me with joy to be a small part of that process. If a child can connect with literature because he or she did so electronically, a connection still was made. I am excited to see what our world has in store for literature and thrilled to be along for that ride.



Monday, October 29, 2012

Families of blood and affiliation

Families have been on my mind a lot lately. So, please forgive today's deviation from more writer-ly topics.

As I see it, there are three different types of families:
   1. Blood;
   2. Surrogate ; and
   3. Affinity.

For me, blood means the family you were born or legally adopted into. You don't get to pick this family, they or fate pick you.

The second group, surrogate, are the people with whom you had a near blood relationship with growing up. These people tend to be your parents' close friends, and your close friends' parents. You have a little more choice over who falls into this group. There are only three people I consider part of my surrogate family.

The rest of the people who are more than just acquaintances to me fall into the last group - my family of affinity. They are the people I chose to share my life with. You know who I'm talking about. They are the people you can call up the day before a move, and have them show up on your front door to help for nothing more than the promise of pizza. They'll even show up when the last time you talked to them was two years earlier when they moved you into the place you're now moving out of. Those people. My husband - in case he was wondering - falls into this category.

I haven't forgotten the pets and other critters that share our lives. But they're their own special class of family.

So, why is family on my mind? The usual reason. If you read my blog post over at the Fictorian's site, you'll get the sense of it.

I had a very June Cleaver-like childhood. My mom worked, but not until we were all in school, and then only on a part-time basis until I was in high school and stopped coming home at 3pm. A few years back, I asked her about something that was bothering me, a mother myself now:

"Mom," I said. "We always had dinner at 5:00, right?"
"Yes," said Mom.
"HOW?"I  wailed. I struggle to get dinner on the table by 8:00, and am often still in the office at 5pm.

So, she told me that she only worked until 2:00 until I was older and my siblings were already in college. AHHH. Okay, now I get it.

Anyway,  my surrogate family was a tangible force. And I've been blessed with a wonderful family of affinity. No one likes the knowledge that one, or in my case all three, of their family groups is going to be smaller in the near future. But that love, and loss is what makes us.

Weighed on the scales of the somewhat idyllic family life I had is my husband's job. He is a Guardian et Litem, or a lawyer appointed to represent the children who get caught in the American justice system. Sometimes these kids are the victims, usually of people who were suppose to protect them, and sometimes the kids are accused of crimes.

So, what's been on my mind other then the looming threat of loss lately?

Why do people insist on telling us things about those we've lost when that information will change how we see the person?

How does a parent abandon her child from an earlier relationship in favor of her current lover's children?

How does a parent neglect or intentionally harm a child?

Does the loss of a surrogate parent cut as deeply as the loss of a biological one?

Why is it easier to accept the decision not to treat a terminal illness of a surrogate parent than a biological one when that choice is probably the best for that person?

How in the face of all the ugliness in the world, do some people find the  love to take in other people's cast off children?

Why is is sometimes easier to rally around an affinity family member than a biological one?

Is the only real difference between my somewhat arbitrary definitions of "family" just the amount of baggage we carry into the relationships?

I don't know. But these are the thoughts that keep me up at night lately. Maybe I write to try to figure out the answers. Maybe the answers are unknowable. But I do know this, losing family, regardless of how you define it, is tough.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Howlween Blog Hop!

I can't believe Halloween is here. It seems like New Year's Day was just last week. I have to say that Halloween is my favorite holiday. Both kids and adults feel free to let their hair down and party. It's the one time of year most adults will put on costumes and escape into the personality of someone or something else.

Halloween doesn't have the duty or mania of the other holidays either. The roots of the holiday go way back as  a celebration of the growing season and the barrier between the living and those who have gone on before. Today most of the religious or spiritual meaning has gone out of the holiday, but the sense of community and celebration goes on. Adults spend month planning Halloween parties and kids spend just as long wondering what the perfect costume will be. And then there's the candy, and the candy corn. Yum.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by the Howloween Blog Hop. Now for the part you're interest in:


I'm giving away a copy of Apollo's Rising and Shots at Redemption, a set of Greek myth retellings.

In Apollo Rising: To restore Daphne to her nymph form, Apollo must bargain with treacherous Hades, but Death may demand too high a price.

Shot by a golden arrow, Apollo has only truly loved Daphne. He visits her each eclipse, and longs for reunion. He seeks the Fates’s advice and learns he may finally restore Daphne to her form by enlisting other gods’ assistance.

If Apollo fails Daphne will be lost to him forever. To regain Daphne’s soul, Apollo must deal with the devil, King of the Underworld. Love-torn and treacherous, Hades would slay the pantheon to remain with his wife for the full year. Apollo’s quest might just give Hades the leverage he needs to do so.

Will Pheobus Apollo surrender the sun to try to reclaim love? Can he break Daphne’s curse or will his attempts destroy her forever? Will she still love him after millennia as a soulless tree? With the end of the quest see Apollo rising, or in sunset?
Shots at Redemption is a collection of three short stories in which mythical beings seek their second changes at love.

We all make mistakes. In this collection, a witch, a goddess, and a dragon take their shots at redemption in the hope of reclaiming lost love.
In "Best Dressed and Obsessed, Janelle, a graduate-level witch, chooses a magic dress to enthrall her professor. Sadly, the dress is cursed. At her graduation ball, will she kiss the man she loves? Or kill him?

Eons ago, Zeus decreed that Odysseus leave Kalypso. In "Kalypso's Song", Odysseus is reborn as a scholar. Can Kalypso convince him to reclaim the love they were denied?

The sea dragon Ryu spares a ship crossing her domain when a human child aboard reminds her of her own lost children. Ryu finds an unlikely surrogate family in "A Sea Serpent's Tale". When her new family is attacked by another dragon, can Ryu save them?

Shots at Redemption. We want them. We need them. But, do we get them?

All you have to do for a chance to win is the normal things:

Comment on this post about your favorite Halloween traditions, and follow this blog or follow me on twitter.

Keep hopping and have a wonderful Howloween - 

Monday, October 15, 2012

What's in a name - part II - odd writer's block.

I've written about the importance of names on this blog before (-> here <-), but in working on my current WIP - New Bohemia - I noticed something else about names.

 Now, a bit about how I write to put this in context. I don't outline. My attempts to do so have failed. When I start a story, I usually know my main characters, their history, and their major story arc, and the ending. While I don't outline, I do a lot of pre-writing (a David Farland term, or at least one I learned from him). I spend a lot of time imagining a scene before it ever hits a page.  When I don't have a character's name or a detail I need to research I use "XY" as a placeholder. During the first round of edits, I search the document for "XY" and fill in the missing information. Using XY instead of a character name has never been a problem. Until now.

But in working on New Bohemia, I had to write a scene where a character (May) gets a phone call that changes the direction of the story, and places another obstacle between her and happily ever after. Now, I knew who was making the call, what her history was, how she was going to impact the rest of the story, the reconciliation needed between the two women, and what she had to say during this particular call. What I didn't have was her name.

The story languished for two weeks without more than a few words being written each time I sat down to work. I couldn't figure out why. It wasn't really writer's block. I knew what I needed to write, and most of the dialog. So why was this so tough?

Turns  out, I couldn't write because the character, who is a fairly major one, didn' t have a name. But I didn't realize that yet.

First, I chalked up the inability to progress on exhaustion. The day job was frantic and the kids were back in school adding another dimension of crazy to my life. Sleep had climbed up higher on the need list after all. Still, catching up on sleep and wrestling control of my docket didn't get me writing again.

Figuring I was missing knowledge I needed for the following scenes, I paused and researched avalanche rescues, and whether an entire town has ever been lost to an avalanche. Turns out there was a large avalanche, triggered by an earthquake, that flowed into a town. Thirty-four people died. It was a horrible, and unexpected disaster. Now, I had a real world basis for my catastrophe. Content, I sat back down at my keyboard.

And. . . still nothing.

Fine. Maybe, I'll flip through Sherrilyn Kenyon's Character Naming Sourcebook and  see if I could fill in some of those XYs while I pondered the full stop in my forward momentum. I knew my character was from Wales but had grown up in the household of Indian natives living in England. So, I flipped to page 381 of the book where Welsh names start. About twenty minutes later, Tegan Brice was born, or at least named.

Guess what? I finished that scene, the first one she appeared in, half an hour later. Having a name let me fill in other details that I hadn't considered yet.

So, what's in a name? Sometimes everything.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

FREE today on Amazon - Apollo Rising

Apollo Rising is FREE today and tomorrow on Amazon!  Please check it out.

Shot by a golden arrow, Apollo has only truly loved Daphne. He visits her each eclipse, and longs for reunion. He seeks the Fates’s advice and learns he may finally restore Daphne to her true water nymph form by enlisting other gods’ assistance. 

If Apollo fails Daphne will be lost to him forever. To regain Daphne’s soul, Apollo must deal with the devil, King of the Underworld.  Love-torn and treacherous, Hades would slay the pantheon to remain with his wife for the full year. Apollo’s quest might just give Hades the leverage he needs to do so.
Will Pheobus Apollo surrender the sun to try to reclaim love? Can he break Daphne’s curse or will his attempts destroy her forever? Will she still love him after millennia as a soulless tree? With the end of the quest see Apollo rising, or in sunset?


A soft glow beckoned from around a corner. While Hades pretended to be a traditionalist, he indulged in modern conveniences every chance he could. Ultra-violet panels, the ones mortals used to simulate sunlight, glowed from inside the walls. They brought day into the vaulted cavern. Hades had encrusted the ceiling with aquamarines since Apollo’s last visit. The light played off them simulating a summer sky. Another token of Hades’s love. Stalactites wider than a city bus hung from the ceiling. Others met stalagmites to form fluted columns reminiscent of the Pantheon. Stone draperies served as curtains, which separated Persphone’s chamber, and Hades’s media room from the main audience hall.

Reaching the center of the room, Apollo dropped to one knee.

“Lord Hades, I come to you as a supplicant.”

Hades could have passed for one of the stalagmites with his sharp and jagged features. His skin held a bluish cast from lack of sunlight. Obsidian color hair hung loose to his shoulders. Flint hard eyes glared at Apollo.

Persephone, on the other hand, reminded Apollo of a spring breeze. Sunshine colored hair swept away from olive skin, slightly pales in her time in the Underworld. Her bright ginger-colored tunic broke the unrelieved grays and blacks of the great hall.

“What brings you here?” Hades’s voice reverberated through the chamber.

Apollo raised an eyebrow. “I seek information, and possibly a trade.”


The few times Apollo had needed something from Hades, he’d been treated as an honored guest. But not this time.

Enraged to the point of incivility by Persephone’s upcoming desertion, Hades was likely to vent his temper on any target. Sadly, Apollo provided him with one that could give him a decent fight. Daphne’s soul might cost more than Apollo could pay.

“What do you wish of me?” Hades asked.

“I wish to barter for Daphne’s soul.”

“I never said I had her.”

They’d never been friends, but then, they hadn’t been enemies either. There really wasn’t any reason for Hades to oppose Apollo’s attempt to rescue Daphne.

“Does that mean you are going to vie her to me?” Apollo asked.

“Give? Give? Now why would I do that?” Hades’s laugh grated in Apollo’s ears.

“What do you want, Hades?”

His gaze went hard. “A boon.”

“What kind?”

“Unlimited. To be provided when I demand.”

Apollo choked. If he agreed Hades could demand anything from him. Even the sun. The God of the Underworld had never been happy with his lot. Hades had helped his brothers, Zeus and Poseidon, wrestle the cosmos from Cronus. The brothers then drew lots for their domains. Zeus chose the sky, which is why Apollo as his son, was the Sun God. Poseidon chose the sea. But the brothers tricked Hades into becoming Death. In choosing the underworld, Hades lost the ability to walk comfortably in the sunlight. But if he took the sun from Apollo, Hades could remain above ground with Persphone.

Could Phoebus Apollo lose the sun?

Who would he be without it?

Buy Apollo Rising from Amazon today for Free. BUY LINK.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wicked Pleasures Scavenger Hunt Winner

The Wicked Pleasures Scavenger Hunt also ended today so I get to celebrate two winners today. The winner of two books of her choice from my back list is:

Crystal Young

Crystal - I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly to find out which books you want and in what format.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the hop. If you didn't win, you can still get a free copy of Apollo Rising on October 11 or 12 from Amazon.

Musa Blog Hop Winner!

I am pleased to announce that the winner of the Musa Anniversary Blog Hop for this site is:

Julianne Keller.

Thank you all for participating. Julianne - I'll be sending you an e-mail shortly to find out which format you want the books in.

For all of you who didn't win, Apollo Rising will be a free e-book on Amazon on October 11 and 12.