As many of you may know, a few months ago, famed American book review magazine Kirkus Reviews read The Souls of the Lash and put out a positive review of the book, calling it “a gripping sci-fi Western that ends too soon”.
I was thrilled to see that they liked my latest novel, especially since I never actually thought anything I put out would get much further than a self-published status.
And then, weeks later, I got an email from Kirkus and nearly fainted.
What Is Kirkus Reviews?
Before I get to the big news, I want to share just what Kirkus Reviews is and what they do.
You may have picked up a book in any given store and noticed there were a few snippets of reviews about the story and often, it is a direct quote from a Kirkus Review.
Kirkus Reviews is a magazine that is highly respected among industry professionals. Founded in 1933, it gives libraries, bookstores, publishers, and agents a “sneak peek at the most notable books […] giving [them] unbiased, critical recommendations they can trust.” –Kirkus Reviews
The Big News
So, back to that email I mentioned. In it, I was informed that the review of my latest book, The Souls of the Lash, was selected by their editors to be featured in their August 1st edition!
Why is that so amazing?
Well, for starters, less than 10% are chosen for this, making it a very coveted offer. It cannot be bought, and is a very high honor.
This means that I appeared as one of the 35 reviews in my section that was sent to over 5,000 industry professionals. That’s HUGE! 😀
Plus, check out the theme for this issue!
What An Honor
I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to not only receive the news that 5,000+ agents, publishers, bookstores, and libraries will be seeing the highly coveted positive review of my book.
Yes, I know, nothing may come of it. But to be among such a narrowed down group and praised by an esteemed book reviewing company has nonetheless brought great pride and a feeling of accomplishment that no words can describe.
Thank you, everyone at Kirkus Reviews.
A HUGE thank you to my editor, D.W. Vogel. Without you, this wouldn’t have been possible. Not only would Souls and A Grim Trilogy not be, well, anything without you, but I wouldn’t be who I am today if it weren’t for you.
And of course, I continue to write, now with renewed vigor, in my dad’s honor. The man who taught me to love books as much as he did, to find the greatest comfort while surrounded by the written word.
So what’s first? Well, Adam and I brought a full page script together from Grim Ambition, the first novel in the trilogy. Once that was finalized, he began what is called character turnarounds. This helps him view each character at different angles for future reference while he pens each page.
Check out vigilante Grim below as that son of a bitch Alex we all love to hate.
Once those have been completed, Adam will begin drafting each panel of each page. This helps him figure out where characters are standing, what their surroundings will be, and where to place all narrative and dialogue text.
That’s where the Grim graphic novel is right now, but there will be many more updates – and way more promo art – so stay tuned!
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Many people think of a pushy car salesmen or those that occupy kiosks in the middle of the mall when they hear the word “salesperson”. They tend to be outgoing, high-energy people who try their hardest to not take ‘no’ for an answer.
Honestly, they scare the crap out of me, an introvert with some social anxiety to boot. In fact, I’ve been known to fake phone calls just so I can walk past those mall kiosks to give me a lower chance of being approached about trying their latest hand lotion or their three for one customized toilet bowl coverings or some other crap I don’t need and definitely don’t want to talk about.
Extrovert vs. Introvert – What’s the Difference?
Most people are not strictly extrovert or introvert; we all have traits of both, it’s just how much of each that defines which we associate with more.
The main thing to focus on is what do you draw your energy from more, social situations or being alone? If you answer social situations, you are most likely an extrovert. Working better in groups, being able to bust out some wicked charm and persuasion, and feeling like you need to go out to another party just to have people surrounding you all night (my worst nightmare) are other traits of extrovertists. Your social networks are huge, and you tend to talk loudly.
Introverts quite literally need time to themselves over going out in groups. Many introverts are able to overcome this urge and still go out, but I am definitely not one of them. Sure, I go out, but then I need hours and hours to myself to recharge or I will become withdrawn – more than I already am!
As an introvert, you don’t often crave to have attention on you. Introverts tend to be more shy and are often talked over in conversations. That last one is from experience only, I’m not sure if it is fully true. I’ve gotten used to it. Heck, if someone actually hears what I say over others, I’m genuinely shocked…but because introverts tend to also be more creative people, I’m quick to recover and come up with something to say next. Even though I pretty much fear small talk. It’s a problem. I don’t meet many people. And I’m completely okay with that!
How I Manage to Pitch My Product Without Anxiety Attacks
There have been times – too many – when salespeople were too quick for me, and eye contact was made – and we all know what that means. They zeroed in so fast it was like they teleported right in front of me, their sales pitch already half out of their mouth before I could take a startled step back.
My anxiety peaks, I start to stutter as my brain flies to different ways to get out of the conversation without being rude, and I fail every single time. I politely listen to them and eventually end up finding some excuse that works, finally able to get the stranger out of my personal bubble only to find it’s been almost fifteen minutes and all I want is some ice cream, a book, and nice, peaceful silence.
So how is it that me, such an introvert that I need hours of “recharge time” after any social interaction, can attend a convention to sell my novels to complete strangers?
If you’re passionate about what you’re selling, be it your books or the latest purse that somehow doubles as a hat, it will come naturally through your excitement.
Do I want to go up to complete strangers who have never heard of my book and pitch it to them all while fearing I’ll stumble over my words or start sweating profusely or lapse into a made up language out of sheer anxiety? God, no.
But the second I start talking about the plot of A Grim Trilogy, or how my latest book, The Souls of the Lash, is set in the Wild West but happens at the same time as Grim in a different plane of existence…well, hell…I can’t shut up! Because that is the same passion I had when writing it, and it shines through me whenever I realize just how happy the story and its characters – and the fact that I even wrote and published novels – makes me feel. And even better: it’s addictive excitement shows so much, strangers I don’t even know get drawn in.
And there’s the sale.
You’re Not Alone
I’m a pretty big introvert and have had more success selling my stories to strangers in person in a single convention than I have online since my first book released in 2016. If I can do it, you can, my other introverted pals. You’ve got this. Draw upon the passion that fuels you, use that excitment your product gives you and pass it along to customers. You won’t get every single sale, but I promise you this: you at least won’t feel like running away and hiding in the bathroom (or closet, or car, or just leaving all together and going home – yes I’ve done them all) and will have the ability to at least pitch your product with a bit more ease than before.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find a way to get out of some dinner plans so I can stay home and watch Star Trek instead.
Superheroes have been around for a long time. Since the 1930s – when the first Superman debuted – superheroes and, sometimes just as important, the idea of superheroes continue to grow and become more unique.
These changes are influenced by many things. More personal access to artists at comic conventions brings about better connections and a higher likelihood of ideas blooming. Easier publishing makes getting new stories out to the world in a matter of months now instead of years. Changes in technology greatly help the creation of comics and graphic novels as well as film and TV. These developments have also changed how superhero movies are influential.
Let’s dig a little into how superheroes have changed as well as answer some superhero questions:
What are superheroes?
Superhero vs. vigilante
Superhero vs antihero
What makes a villain?
How are superhero costumes made to look like their characters in the comics?
What is a good superhero for kids, and why are they important to children?
Superheroes In Fiction
The first fictional superheroes appeared in comic books (not to be confused with graphic novels), although many consider the gods of mythology to have been superheroes as well.
The idea of a superhero started with Superman, who had unbelievably strong superpowers and would use them to save the world over and over, protecting innocents and rescuing those in danger. Over time, his story, like so many other fictional superheroes that came after him, expanded a great deal, including adventure after adventure for the ever-growing number of fans.
Soon, superheroes made it to the big screen. These heroes and their countless villains were brought to life, delighting fans of all ages.
Today we are blessed to have such increased technology that these types of movies can be remade with high-quality graphics, allowing us to see aliens, superhuman strength, and even costumes with a mind of their own (such as Iron Man’s nanosuit) all as if it were really, truly happening. These advancements have brought superhero stories, which were mostly told in comics first, out into the light, bringing in new fans daily.
Superhero Costume Design
In the first years of superheroes in film, costumes attempted to be literal while also simple. While what the heroes in comics wore could often be complex, it was difficult to recreate that in real life.
Over the years, advancements have changed how superhero costumes are made and how they look. It is now possible to not only design more intricate costumes, but filmmakers can now use extremely good CGI to create some or all of a costume or character that wouldn’t even be possible in reality.
Grim’s character art painting
Dressed up at the Grim Ambition release party
A Superhero Without Powers
There are many characters in fiction that do not have any extraordinary superpowers, such as DC’s Bruce Wayne (Batman), Marvel’s Clint Barton (Hawkeye) or Duncan in A Grim Trilogy to name a few.
These individuals may have some natural strengths that aid them while they battle bad guys, though. Some may have high intelligence, loads of cash, or the latest technology (or all three, like Tony Stark (Iron Man) to help create suits of armor and super intelligent AI to aid in battle.
So while they might not have superpowers, this doesn’t mean they are less of a superhero.
Superheroes, Vigilantes, and Antiheroes
We’ve discussed superheroes, but there are two other types of hero that exist – and often toe the line between superhero and villain. Let’s take a look at some of the characters from A Grim Trilogy to see the differences between the three.
Antihero vs Hero
Let’s talk a little about what antihero means. It refers to characters who try to help people and do the right thing, but lack important qualities that make the hero good. They are often referred to as “flawed heroes.”
Emma McRae and Isaac Krause are good examples of antiheroes. They are criminals. They work for a crime boss. But both were born into the life, and while they do know the difference between good and evil, right and wrong, they feel they are doing the right thing because they know nothing else in their life.
When the events of Grim Ambition and Grim Judgment take place, they are determined to get out of their lives of crime. But they never turn fully around. Instead, all of their good deeds tend to be out of selifshness – especially seen in Grim Vengeance when they use Emma’s power to persuade the good guys to protect her and Isaac – saving their own lives instead of caring about strangers that could be hurt.
Antihero vs Villain
So an antihero is not a villain (at least not unless they turn into one later on). Villains are bad through and through. They are one hundred percent selfish, and often destructive. They don’t care who gets hurt in their path to winning whatever it is they set out to achieve.
A great example of this is Weston Alexander and his crime boss, Ivan Vance. Both choose the life of crime they live – they thrive in it. Alex enjoys hurting people. Vance sits back and orders others to do his dirty work while he revels in his money and the successes of his thugs.
An antihero may do good things that we might not think are actually heroic, but so do villains. There is a fine line between antihero and villain. Charlie Reed, for example, may think and feel like he is doing the right thing by tracking down and killing all of the Synths, yet it is not only for his own selfish needs but also harming others – the absolute wrong thing to do – but he does it anyway.
Antihero vs Vigilante
Finally, we have vigilantes. These are heroes just like Grim who takes the law into their own hands (other examples are Batman and Daredevil) to hand out justice in any way they can.
Shawn, his brother Jaxon, and his friend Cassie worked together to create the hero Grim to get vengeance on Ivan Vance’s crime ring after Cassie’s sister was murdered by Alex. In the process of going after Vance and his people, Grim also stops muggings, helps people in danger, and does many things a superhero would do. Grim uses his powers for good and for justice, but he ignores the law while he does, killing the criminals he comes across instead of making sure they land in jail.
Superheroes for Kids
The majority of today’s superhero movies are complicated and often violent. However, having the ability to grow up learning from superheroes can actually help shape children’s lives.
There are many versions of DC and Marvel superheroes that are redone for younger children, which can be found streaming on Netflix or YouTube. However, be sure you don’t overlook how many original superheroes for kids there are out there, too!
Watching the good guys fight evil is bound to make anyone cheer, but kids (and adults!) can actually learn a lot of life lessons from superheroes, too. They teach us to have good morals, to help others in need, to look out for each other. Superheroes may be fiction, but they show us why we need to be the good in the world we want to see.
We Need Real Life Superheroes
According to The Merriam-Webster dictionary, a superhero is defined as “a fictional hero having extraordinary or superhuman powers.” However, a superhero is so much more than that. And while those in fiction may have superhuman powers, there are many real-life superheroes around us. They are the protectors of the innocent. They are ones who put others before themselves. They are what this world needs more of.
So whether you have extraordinary hidden powers or you help others in need who can’t help themselves in some other way, how superhero are you?
I am excited to announce that my new book will be an exciting sci-fi novel! Just like before, it will tie into other stand alone fictions I’ve published in the past, such as my superhero crime thriller A Grim Trilogy as well as my latest new book, a Western thriller called The Souls of the Lash.
A Quick Author Update
It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and even longer since I’ve released a new book. As you may or may not know already, in January my husband and I moved across the country. Eager to start a new life in our new city, we couldn’t wait to explore. However, bills must be paid, and we both soon started full-time jobs, limiting our free time to weekends.
In addition, I’m still in full-time school, so writing my new book has sadly been on the back burner for many months. However, just last week, inspiration hit me like a gust of wind, and despite having very little free time, I started the first few sections of my new book, which is yet to be named.
The Newest Reinfried Release
So why am I so pumped for my new book? Well, it is going to be super exciting because it’s actually going to reveal why and how the Wild West world in The Souls of the Lash had such connection and similarities to the 2016 world of A Grim Trilogy. If you haven’t read one or the other, though, that’s okay! My new book will still be a stand alone novel/series.
However, if you have read the Grim novels and Souls, I hope you picked up on some very fun similarities between the two, as they were all extremely intentional – and all planned to be able to lead up to this sci-fi novel I’m working on now!
As a fun little taste of these connections, here’s an example: Did you notice that in The Souls of the Lash, Etta has a nightmare involving Johnny, who at one point is laughing maniacally, surrounded by the deadly creatures, while floating above them with eyes completely white? Almost as if he was controlling them in her dream?
It was brief, but fully intended to remind readers of good ol’ Jaxon and his wraiths. Which is also why they look similar … just like some other Souls characters look similar to ones in Grim. I mean, even some names are quite alike! Etta/Emma, Jaxon/Johnny, Shawn/Shane.
Yep, it’s all on purpose, and it’s about to all be explained!
Comments, Reviews, and More
Whether you’re a brand new reader of my books or have been a fan since the first Grim book was released, I hope you leave me some feedback! I love hearing from you. Leave me a comment below, a review on Amazon for the books you’ve read, or tell me your hopes and dreams. Either way, share your story, because staying connected is important!
And if you have any cool ideas, who knows, maybe they’ll end up in the new book! I’m also in the market for someone to help me design the sci-fi logo, so if that is right up your alley, leave a comment below and I’ll be in touch.
Stay tuned for more updates on my new book, the sci-fi that will take you on a wild, exciting journey with a new story, new cast, yet with some faint familiarity.
I know it’s been a while. I ended up going back to school to finally earn a degree, something I wanted to do since I was 19 but was not able to until now. That coupled with a cross country move has basically taken up the majority of my time.
But don’t you worry, as fresh stories are a-brewin’!
In the meantime, check out the first podcast interview I did! I’m super excited about it, and plan on doing a few more.
I also will be having a fun surprise in the next month or so…stay tuned!