Thursday, November 10, 2016

The "Stranger Things" Clue Everyone Missed

For those of you who haven't heard of it, "Stranger Things" is a Netflix Original Series that will knock your socks off. It's sort of like the best X-Files episode of all time expanded into an eight-hour story line. I'm a very busy mother of two young kids, and I've watched it twice. That should tell you something.

*Here come the spoilers*

The first season left us with a lot of unanswered questions: Is Eleven alive? Who is Hopper working for? What was that egg? How did Will survive? Is there any conceivable way that poor Barb will make it out alive? (Give it up, guys. She's gone.)

The most interesting questions, I think, are about the Demogorgon and the Upside Down. Where did it come from? What else is in the Upside Down? Some people have hypothesized that the Demogorgon and Eleven are linked, like she accidentally created him or maybe he's a part of her that got separated and now is running amok.

I believe there's no connection between the Demogorgon and Eleven because there's proof the monster has been there for much longer. The show left us a really big clue that no one saw, and it was right under our noses:

The skeleton in the Upside Down.

The events of the show take place over the course of one week, and during that week, the Demogorgon takes six people. When you first watch this show you might think the skeleton belongs to one of the six, but Barb (let's take a moment of silence for poor Barb) was recognizably intact. This guy has been dead for much, much longer.

You might be thinking, "Okay, but that doesn't necessarily mean anything. Perhaps the slugs ate all the flesh. Perhaps things decompose faster in the Upside Down. Perhaps Barb was so intact because she isn't really dead and we're going to see her in season two." (Let it go! She's gone.)

Here's the thing, though. I believe the show told us exactly who this skeleton belonged to, and that it wasn't one of the six who disappeared over the course of the show.

Hopper dropped the bomb (possibly) in episode 2 when he was standing on his porch talking to Sandra. He said, "The last person to go missing here was in '23."

Does that skeleton look like someone who died in 1923? Yup. It does.

If someone got taken from the town in 1923, that means a Demogorgon has been around for almost a century.

That leaves us with an interesting question: what happened to all the slugs that came out of the corpse taken in 1923? This Demogorgon seems to be all by himself in the Upside Down, so if there's already been a round of slug-hatching, one must wonder why we don't see any others.

Notice that the Demogorgon only traveled in a small area of the town. Jonathan and Nancy point this out when they start hunting it. They also compare the monster to other predators in our dimension, and predators can be very territorial.

Perhaps the Demogorgon only prowled such a small area because that was his territory. He couldn't go outside of it because there are other Demogorgons all over the world with their own claimed patches of earth, waiting for portals to open so they can snatch up unsuspecting humans and lay their slug babies inside them.

Either the Demogorgon we see in the show snatched the person in 1923 and all his slug babies have moved on to their own territory, or that's the corpse he was born in when he was a slug baby. Maybe he ate his brothers and sisters.

Need more convincing? There is another clue that suggests the monster has visited the town before. Hawkins Lab is a mysterious building where Doctor Brenner experiments on Eleven (and possibly ten other kids). It might not be a coincidence that the building was placed in that particular town. We don't know all that was going on in that lab, only that at one point, they use Eleven to spy on the Russians.

Doctor Brenner doesn't seem surprised when Eleven finds the Demogorgon. In fact, he's pleased and is eager to communicate with it. It's possible that the building is there because that was the last known sighting of the Demogorgon, and finding the Upside Down was one of Hawkins Lab's many projects.

One thing is for sure; we're going to be seeing a lot of monsters in season two. In the foreshadow-heavy Dungeons and Dragons game at the end, the Thessalhydra appears. And as we all know, when you cut off one head from a hydra. many more appear.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Marketing Plan for a Book Launch

I can't wait to market my book. It sounds fun, like a game where each book sale is a point and you get money for each point. I've been working on my Marketing Plan for years in hopes that I will use it when I finally get published, and since I just shared it with a friend of mine, I thought I should send it to my virtual friends, too.

Most of this is catered to self-published authors simply because I don't know enough about publishing companies to offer advice on how they should help you. These are all things that any author can do. Keep in mind that I haven't actually done any of these things; I just hope to. Someday.
If you have any tips to share, or if you've tried any of these tips and would like to tell us how it went, leave a comment!

Free/Cheap Tips
Launch Party – When your book is available to purchase, you can host a party at a bookstore where people buy your book for the first time. You invite all your friends and family, put up posters in the community, and get the bookstore to promote it. It’s like doing a reading, except it’s a big deal because it’s the first one. You read from your book, discuss your inspiration for writing it, sign copies, maybe make cupcakes.
 Facebook Launch Party – I’ve been to several of these and they’re a lot of fun. You invite everyone to come to a Facebook page at a set time and for two to four hours, you post stuff, like fun facts about your book or your time period. You also host giveaways. Every twenty minutes or so, you introduce an author who agreed to participate, then the author says hello and asks the participants a question. One of the people who answers the question gets the book (you announce winners the next day). You can also offer swag as a prize, like a poster or a mug with your book cover on it, or a gift that’s relevant to your book.
 Giveaways – Goodreads, LibraryThing, and Booklikes give away free copies of books, and people read through the books and enter for the ones they like. You might get a hundred people to enter the drawing, so it’s a great way to promote the book to the 99 who don’t get a free copy.
 Join Historical Novel Society – If you write historical fiction like me, being a member of this society will help you get to know other historical novelists, and you can get them to review your book on their website. (I don’t know how, but you can ask.) It’s $50 a year. Also, you can get on their Facebook page for free and network there.
 Newsletter – With an email newsletter, you send people information about when your book is coming out, when you’re doing readings, etc. I think there’s a way to get people to sign up for newsletters on your blog (are they called apps on blogs?), but you can also do it manually. MailChimp is a great program for mass emails.
 Author pages – You can have your own professional profiles on Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon, LibraryThing, and Booklikes. People go there to read about you and see what other books you’ve written and where to buy them.
 Book clubs – You can get a group of people together and have your own book group to read and talk about your novel, and you can encourage your friends to host book clubs. Perhaps everyone who buys the book for a group could get a discount. A lot of authors also do Skype or phone calls to book clubs so people can interview the author at their meeting. You can also host virtual book clubs via Facebook or Goodreads.
 Use book cover as your profile picture and cover photo on Facebook. That way, everyone who interacts with you online will know you have a book to buy.
 Offer signed books online - A friend of mine did this and I thought it was brilliant; for only one month, people could buy her book from a certain bookstore and get it signed and personalized. How often do we find books we like but then wait years to buy them? Signed copies make people whip out their checkbook and get the book right away.
 Blog Tour – Get your friends to interview you and/or review your book on their blogs. If you don’t know many bloggers, you can hire someone to host a blog tour (see below).
 Book Signings and Readings – You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are to promote your book at fairs, library events, book stores, art events, writer’s groups, etc. Keep your eyes open and read your book publically everywhere you can. Then record it and post about it on Facebook.
Reviews - Reviews are extremely important to people buying books online, so encourage your friends to review them on as many sites as they can: Amazon, Goodreads, Powell’s, Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million, etc. Be sure to thank them afterwards.

 Ads on Goodreads, LibraryThing, Booklikes, and Facebook
 Blog Tours – For a fee, certain companies will set up blog tours where you get reviewed or interviewed by popular blogs. They also post about you on their website, Facebook, Twitter, etc.  I HIGHLY recommend spending some money on Amy Bruno’s site.
Historical Fiction Virtual Tours (Amy Bruno)
                                Blog Tours: $95-$495
                                Book Blast: $74-$140
                                Facebook Launch Party: $150-$800 (like what I mentioned earlier, only she does all the work, including finding people for the giveaways.)
                Pump Up Your Book Promotion (Cheryl Malandrinos) $49-$1,049
 Conferences – These can be ridiculously expensive, but I highly recommend them. You make so many friends who will help you promote your book, not to mention you learn so much and they’re loads of fun. You can also sell signed copies of your book and buy ads for the conference program.
 Book Trailer – I have no idea how to go about making one of these.
 Swag – You can get bookmarks, t-shirts, mugs, posters, bags, etc. with your book cover on them. At the very least, it’s good to carry bookmarks with you everywhere you go so when you tell people about your book, you can give them one so they remember it.

Book Tour - You can go to book stores in other towns for readings and signings, too. This gets expensive because you have to pay travel expenses. Still sounds like fun, though.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

First Two Chapters of Voodoo Queen

Some new members in my writers group wanted to read the first few chapters of my book, and I thought it would be easiest to post them here for anyone else who wants to look at them. I think I posted some of this earlier back when it was in third person (it's all in first person now).

Enjoy. (I hope.)


People ask me how I got to where I am now. Americans wonder why a kind-hearted woman such as myself turned evil. French folk want to know why an intelligent woman resorted to ignorant superstition. People of color ask how I grew into such power that friends came to me in droves and enemies trembled at the very mention of me.
It’s been a long road. If I had to put my finger on one event that started it all, I’d pick the day the slaves from the Andry sugar plantation were executed.
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