Guest Post with author Jeannie Zokan

In today’s guest post (I know it’s not Friday, shut up), I discovered a kindred spirit in Jeannie and her little black book of, well, books.

books

In the summer of 2004, I started keeping track of each book I read in a little notebook. I considered making an entry about the books, but decided to keep it simple and just note the title and author. If it turned into work, I wouldn’t do it. Now, this 3-inch notebook, stored in my bedside table, has become an interesting book in its own right.

For one thing, I’m amazed at how many self-help books I go through. And how many titles I immediately remember, like names of close friends. They evoke a vivid image of where I was when I read a certain passage or the conversation I had about it for book club. There were, however, some titles that didn’t leave an impression on me. What was Three Junes about again?

The eclectic nature of the list in my notebook surprises me. I make no sense, and maybe that’s why there are so many self-help books. But how can I consider Barbara Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible as one of my favorites books when I’ve read everything scifi writer Douglas Adams wrote? I can see the links to Dave Barry and Bill Bryson, but how to explain The Fault In Our Stars by John Green? Or Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance? Or Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic?

Of course, that’s the beauty of reading . The next book that finds its way onto my list doesn’t have to fit into a category. The heart wants what it wants, and I just enjoy the delicious journey a good book always provides.

And since I know you’re curious, a few of the self-help books on the list are How to Think Like Einstein, Style on a Shoestring, and The Top Ten Things Dead People Want to Tell You.

Happy Reading!

 

Jeannie Zokan’s debut novel, The Existence of Pity, was released in October 2016 by Red Adept Publishing.

You can follow her on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/authorJeannieZokan/

on twitter:   https://twitter.com/JoZokan

Her blog: www.jeanniezokan.blogspot.com

And her webpage: www.jeanniezokan.com

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Ten Books to Get Your Halloween Creepy On

Halloween ISN’T just for traditional horror novels anymore. More and more, novels are blurring the lines between genres, making for some awesome reads. Here are my ten picks to help you get your creepy on, in no particular order:

THE GATES by John Connolly

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At the surface, it’s a fun look at what would happen if some hapless neighbors opened the gates to Hell. It reminds me a lot of GOOD OMENS by the kings, themselves, and (cough, cough) SACRIFICIAL LAMB CAKE by yours, truly. There are some truly creepy moments (but not too creepy; I’m a wimp, after all) that’ll get you in the Halloween spirit PRONTO.

THE RADLEYS by Matt Haig

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I love me a good vampire book, especially if it’s not trying too hard to be the next in the Vampire Chronicles. Haig balances creepy with heartfelt in this book.

THE WINTER PEOPLE by Jennifer McMahon

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I once recommended this book to a friend of mine who loves female-driven thrillers as much (if not more) than I do. She came back halfway through with, “This is too scary for me.” Wuss.

BLOODSUCKING FIENDS (series) by CHRISTOPHER MOORE

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MOAR VAMPIRES. Moore writes what many reviewers have dubbed horror/comedy in which the monsters are slightly ridiculous and (more often than not) a little sex-crazed. I’ve loved everything Moore has put out (with the exception of BITE ME, but we don’t talk about that), with BS FIENDS being near the top of the heap.

THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman

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In my opinion, no list about books is complete without at least a terse mention of Neil Gaiman. THE GRAVEYARD BOOK’s best feature is probably that it’s suitable for almost all age groups. My nine year old daughter read it and loved every page as much as I did.

ALICE by Christina Henry

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This book threw me for a fucking loop. Henry takes the original Alice tale and flips it on its head, making villains of the most innocuous of characters. There’s danger, excitement, and a Hatter Tim Burton (circa Nightmare Before Christmas) would love. The sequel, RED QUEEN, looks to be just as creeptastic.

THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA by Gaston Leroux

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We’ve all seen the stage play adapted by Andrew Lloyd Weber (or at least the knock-off film starring Gerard Butler and doe-eyed darling, Emmi Rossum) but it’s hard to comprehend the horror behind the story without reading the novel it’s based on. Familiarity with the plot will guide you through the dry bits. Promise.

THE END OF THE SENTENCE by Maria Dahvana Headley & Kat Howard

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I came across this book the first time on Twitter but didn’t finally pick it up until I saw it calling to me from a table at the library book sale. My advice? DON’T WAIT FOR SERENDIPITY. More a novella than a novel, it tears open old fairy tales I haven’t seen adapted before and lays them bare on a puddle of blood.

DUNGEONS AND DRAG QUEENS by MP Johnson

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When I think Halloween, I think costumes. And when I think costumes, the masters (mistresses, rather) belong to the drag community. In this book, a drag queen is sucked from the bitch-fight drama of her local bar to a world where a serpent king wants to make her his queen. They don’t call it bizarro for nothing, k?

MY BEST FRIEND’S EXORCISM by Grady Hendrix

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You might recognize this author as the same fella who put out HORRORSTOR. I wasn’t a fan of his first go around, but decided to give this book a go anyway. I WAS COMPLETELY REWARDED. Seamlessly blending comedy with horror, it’ll have you giggling while you keep a cautious eye over your shoulder.

 

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my recommendations, or give me your own creepy reads!

I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention ALL DARLING CHILDREN, my newest book, which is a dark (and yes, creepy) retelling of Peter Pan. Go on. You know you want it.

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

 

 

PAN IS COMING – A Giveaway!

It’s Monday and I’m back in the seat after having spent two weeks on honeymoon hiatus. I KNOW. YOU’RE THRILLED.

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

My newest novel, ALL DARLING CHILDREN, is being released on Thursday, Oct 20th as an e-book (with the paperback to follow shortly after), and I want to give away a few of them because nothing makes Mondays better than free books.

So, to be entered, head over to my Facebook page  https://www.facebook.com/katrinamonroewriter/ – give it a like, and I’ll select three winners at random on release day to receive an e-book copy on me!

As always, I’ll ask the winners (if they’re so inclined) to leave a review on Amazon once they’ve finished. Reviews really help in getting a writer’s work seen, so ANY book you’ve read and loved (or even not loved), drop a line or two on the ol’ Zon.

Cheers and good luck!

What Time is It? Also, Facebook Things

I got back from my honeymoon in London yesterday and JESUS is jet lag a thing that is real and also horrible.

Just a quick word and a request: Since getting married (YAY), I’ve changed my last name (because we can’t do things without being FACEBOOK OFFICIAL in this world) making it harder for people to find me by my writer name. So, to make it easier, I’ve created an author page. Give it a like and be entered to win a copy of ALL DARLING CHILDREN, which comes out October 20th! https://www.facebook.com/katrinamonroewriter/

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Ain’t she GORGEOUS?

 

A TALE DU MORT is FREE This Weekend!

Saturday and Sunday, to be exact.

Most of you are already aware, but in case you missed my thousands of tweets on the stress of planning a wedding, I’M GETTING MARRIED!

In celebration (and who am I to resist a perfect promo set-up?) I’ve made A TALE DU MORT free for everyone this weekend. Here’s the Amazon link.

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GET YOUR READ ON and I’ll see you in two weeks with tales of a couple trying to wander London without looking too much like tourists.

How the F*** Do I Name My Characters?

If you’re a parent (or even if you’re not), it’s easy to understand the agony behind choosing a name for this squirming mass of flesh you’ve created. You want something that’ll represent them, something that’ll stand out, but not too much, and God forbid you pick something with an automatic and unfortunate nick-name attached.

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As writers, we go through the same torment. We peruse all the baby name databases. We say their names over and over to see how it’ll sit on someone’s tongue should they read it out loud. We scribble them in notebooks and on napkins and try to imagine a face that’ll reflect the person we want them to be. It’s torture, but it’s vital to the success of a book (in which I define “success” as a book readers talk about or think about after the cover is closed).

First, I want to say that I’m not knocking the Marks and Julies of the fiction world. Names don’t have to be unusual to stand out. It’s all about the name that accompanies the personality. Example: Andrew Yancy from Carl Hiassen’s BAD MONKEY and RAZOR GIRL. Pretty standard name, right? But when paired with the ironic swagger of an ex-detective-now-roach-patrolman, it’s a name that’ll stick in the reader’s mind. He’s Andrew, not Drew or Andy. Yancy is the kind of surname with a nondescript background, so you’re free to mold him any way you like in your mind.

For the writer who wants a more unusual name without throwing in useless consanents and ridiculous accent marks, I give you these examples:

Bunny Munro from THE DEATH OF BUNNY MUNRO. The name “Bunny” is ironic, given his less than soft nature, making it unusual enough to stand out. The same principle goes for Fat Charlie from ANANSI BOYS who is anything but fat and Abby Normal from Christopher Moore’s BLOODSUCKING FIENDS series who would love to be anything but normal.

You could go for something more literal, like SERGE STORMS from pretty much any Tim Dorsey novel who blows through the book like a category 5 hurricane on a mix of speed and coffee. Or there’s Mr. Wednesday from AMERICAN GODS, whose literal meaning takes a little bit of digging. His name is one of convenience, granted to him when he asks Shadow Moon what day it is and then replies, “Today is my day.” That statement alone is a summation of Mr. Wednesday’s character, which gives his name meaning.

Then there are names that carry with them the entire heart of the story. Osceola Bigtree from SWAMPLANDIA isn’t the protagonist, but she carries in her name (and her character) the soul of the book, which takes place in the swampy underbelly of South Florida.

In the end, readers will interpret your character names however they want. I could be totally off about Osceola, but her name stuck with me because I was able to extract meaning and because Karen Russell GAVE her name meaning, even if it wasn’t the same as mine. The name you choose isn’t as important to your characters as the reason behind it. Sometimes, it’s just because the name “suits” a character. That’s PERFECTLY FINE. Names that suit characteristics will make sense and serve to draw a clearer picture for the reader, making your story memorable.

I’ve given you some of mine; Now, let’s hear some character names that’ve really stuck with you, long after you’ve finished reading.