It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times

Well, it’s the last day of Jan­u­ary. All I can say to that is THANK THE LORD. Because, I don’t know about you, but 2012 so far has kicked my ass, worse than it’s ever been kicked before. And I’m 30…there’s been a lot of ass-kicking in my life (and I have a rather large ass).

This month has been espe­cially try­ing. Los­ing my job, plus other finan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties have led to me being over­come by worry and strife. I haven’t even been able to write, all I can think about is try­ing to keep the roof I have over my head. My days have turned into long cover let­ter writ­ing ses­sions, apply­ing for every job I can think of. But it’s not easy — as most of the unem­ployed world knows. My overqual­i­fi­ca­tions mean that I’m turned away by sim­ple jobs like being a cashier. I’m sim­ply not good enough for anyone.

I’ve been hit by fam­ily prob­lems as well as other nasty issues that chip away at your heart and leave you reel­ing. Through all of this trauma and trou­ble though, I have learned a few things about myself. I learned I have hid­den resolves of strength and deter­mi­na­tion I never knew I had. I learned it’s OK to lean on your friends and loved ones and to ask for help and sup­port. As one friend pointed out, most peo­ple really do want to help you. I’ve also learned that I am a per­son worth respect. Every­one has self-worth and I’ve learned it’s OK to stand up for your­self and say “you know what, I’m worth it” (sounds like a L’Oreal ad).

All of that said though, this month has been excel­lent in one major way: my books.

Thanks to my tire­less invest­ment in self-promotion, mar­ket­ing and PR, I’ve sold more in Jan­u­ary than I have…well, ever.

These are my sales of the books last month (Dec)

these are the sales this month (Jan)

As you can see, I’m finally bring­ing in some money for my efforts — but it’s an ongo­ing game. It doesn’t mean the sales will con­tinue. It doesn’t mean I’m mak­ing all that much (Dark­house costs buy­ers 99 cents — I only get 30 cents out of it — plus 2454 of those 3424 books were free down­loads). And the pay­ment is extremely spo­radic. But it’s a great relief to know that nine months of con­stant tweet­ing, face­book­ing, blog­ging, net­work­ing, writ­ing, yap­ping, annoy­ing peo­ple, whatever…it’s finally start­ing to get some­where. And peo­ple every­where are lov­ing the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Series. I think that’s the best part of all… I get to share some­thing I cre­ated, some­thing I love, with other people.

Speak­ing of, one of the most excit­ing times this month, was watch­ing all four books reach the Ama­zon Best Sell­ers list…at once!

And this was the high­est rank­ing for Darkhouse:

I know this is peanuts com­pared to the really suc­cess­ful authors, but I’m tak­ing a moment to pat myself on the back. The work is not over, but I am grate­ful and thank­ful for this mile­stone in my life.

In other news, the blurb (for now) and pub­li­ca­tion for Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror, Book #5 is out now, check it out at Good Reads here and please add it to your books:

Thank you!

Review Roundup

Lots of new reviews in for the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Series in the last week or so, let’s take a look shall we? First up, Dark­house reviews:

From Attack the Stacks:

First of all, if you have any pre­con­ceived notions about self-published books being infe­rior you should put them aside and read Dark­house. Karina Halle can flat-out write a good story.

So what did I love so much about Dark­house?  Well, it cer­tainly played into my addic­tion to those ridicu­lous tv ghost hunt­ing shows. Shame­ful and ridicu­lous, yes, they are. But I watch them any­way. All of them. Even the one hosted by the dude­bro with the hair and the too-tight t-shirts care­fully cho­sen to show off his tribal-tatted biceps. Don’t judge me.

Also, Halle’s writ­ing is very vivid. She sets really detailed scenes. I’ve never been to the Pacific North­west but I could pic­ture it clearly in my mind, from the waves break­ing on the shore to the foggy water to the rick­ety old light­house. Many of these scenes she sets so well are CREEPY as hell. Total night­mare stuff, which I was read­ing alone in the dark and that turned out to be not such a good idea. I found myself get­ting gen­uinely wigged out, which is pretty rare. Over­all the book flows so easily…I love, love, love books with short para­graphs (at least, the ebook had short para­graphs, not sure if the paper­back is for­mat­ted dif­fer­ently). There is just some­thing so pleas­ing about that for­mat to me, it just makes for really easy reading.

I also loved that Perry is a flawed hero­ine. She’s not a beauty queen to begin with, and she’s car­ry­ing around a few extra lbs. on top of that. She dresses like she never quite got over the grunge era. She’s stuck in a dead end job that is suck­ing the life out of her, but she can’t afford to lose. There’s no men­tion of how gor­geous she is, how charm­ing, or how every­one just loves her. Peo­ple are wary of her, even her own fam­ily. She’s weird and she’s aver­age and she’s a breath of fresh air when it seems like every book you pick up these days has an ethe­re­ally beau­ti­ful main char­ac­ter. Look, I don’t have any­thing against beau­ti­ful peo­ple – truly – but it’s nice that us aver­age folk get a kick­ass hero­ine to relate to every now and again instead of being rel­e­gated to a side­kick or a fren­emy. I was less in love with Dex, but I think that was inten­tional. The dude is just kind of dif­fi­cult to like at this point in the series. I sus­pect his background/attitude will be explored more in the next book.

Wanna know some­thing ter­ri­ble and kind of gross? I actu­ally snuck off to the bath­room at work a few times because I couldn’t stop read­ing this. I can’t remem­ber the last time I did that. At this point my co-workers prob­a­bly think I have either the world’s worst intesti­nal issues or a seri­ous drug prob­lem. To say that I’m look­ing for­ward to read­ing the rest of the series would be putting it mildly. Seri­ously, I can’t believe the ebook is only $.99 on Ama­zon. Don’t even think twice about buy­ing it.

Bonus points for the MST3K shout out!

4.5/5 stars!

From Tales of the Inner Book Fanatic:

There’s no hid­den secret about me lov­ing ghost sto­ries and the whole ghost hunt­ing busi­ness — I love it no mat­ter what book it is. For Karina Halle’s book, DARKHOUSE, the first book in the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror series, despite it being a self-published book (which I only read on a casual basis), I thor­oughly enjoyed it.

DARKHOUSE was a great intro­duc­tion to a series, with a very inter­est­ing sto­ry­line and a vari­ety of intrigu­ing char­ac­ters. Espe­cially Perry, the main hero­ine. I absolutely loved Perry from her snarky humour all the way down to her inse­cu­ri­ties of her life. She was a great char­ac­ter whom a lot of read­ers could sym­pa­thize with. But like in any com­mon para­nor­mal story there’s a love inter­est and in this case it’s Declan “Dex” Foray who is the gor­geous and sexy kind. There are many qual­i­ties to describe dear old Dex but I can def­i­nitely say he’s an enigma. He can be annoy­ing at first but then he can imme­di­ately switch straight back to damn right lov­able … but I just wanted Perry to hug and kiss him, and also attack him with a few punches. Well, he’s just that kind of guy that you get frus­trated with but I still loved him for all he’s worth.

Now as for the sto­ry­line itself, it pretty much had every­thing you want in a story. You had a good fair share of hor­ror writ­ten at its best, an enjoy­able set of char­ac­ters, an addic­tive plot where you wanted to know more and more about what’s going to hap­pen next … like I said, you have every­thing you could pos­si­bly want. While I’m still left with many unan­swered ques­tions regard­ing why Perry can see things oth­ers can’t or even what exactly Perry is run­ning from (from her past), that did not dis­tract me away from the sto­ry­line and I’m def­i­nitely inter­ested in what’s going to hap­pen next in Perry’s adven­tures espe­cially with Dex.

Over­all for a self-published novel (which can be just as good as a pub­lished one), I thought Karina Halle did a fab­u­lous job in enter­tain­ing her read­ers. It may not be ‘strictly-speaking’ your young adult novel as it’s focus­ing on a 22-year-old girl, but I think read­ers with a pas­sion of hor­ror will enjoy this book immensely!

4/5 stars

From The Book Hook-Up:

My Review: Well, I need to get this off my chest imme­di­ately.  I didn’t find Dark­house par­tic­u­larly scary, even though the title warned me that I might.  Although, I must admit that I’m not eas­ily fright­ened.  I did, how­ever, find it a page turner…mostly because I liked the main char­ac­ter Perry Palomino (great name!) and wanted to make sure she was OK through all of her adven­tures.  Now, don’t get me wrong,  Ms. Halle did cre­ate a spooky set­ting and the things that went bump in the night were def­i­nitely creepy, but I don’t want you to be turned off by this book just because you think you’ll be too scared to read it!  If you’re eas­ily spooked, then just read it in the day­light and you should be just fine!

The story is writ­ten in the first per­son so we live it through Perry’s thoughts and visions of the world.  She is a char­ac­ter that has had some rough patches in her life.  As a teenager, feel­ing “dif­fer­ent” from oth­ers she had a few mis­ad­ven­tures.  But now, she’s try­ing to get her life back on track.  And, even though she doesn’t really like her job and feels like she’s con­stantly com­pet­ing with her teenage sis­ter who can do no wrong, she’s grown stronger and wants to move on from the per­son she was.  Over­all, she’s fairly easy to relate to.  Perry spends an awful lot of time “in her own head” think­ing things through and imag­in­ing all man­ner of situations…and one of the top­ics that’s fore­most in her mind is Dex.  Declan “Dex” Foray is older, more worldly than Perry.  He’s sexy and confident…and most likely, bipo­lar.  That makes him unpre­dictable, irri­tat­ing and totally mes­mer­iz­ing.  Just like Perry, I found myself intrigued by this man who only reveals what he has to…no more, no less.  There were moments where I simul­ta­ne­ously wanted her to kiss him…and punch his lights out.  This makes for a very com­plex relationship.

They’re thrown together by coin­ci­dence when they meet at her uncle’s aban­doned light­house and from that point on their lives are inter­twined and their adven­ture begins.   Dex pro­poses they work together to cre­ate a new ghost hunt­ing show and they return to the light­house where the real mys­tery and “spook­i­ness” begins.  This book focuses more on the char­ac­ters than the super­nat­ural and sets up what I know will be a very inter­est­ing series.  The pace was a bit slow in the begin­ning but that changed after the first few chap­ters.  As with many self-published books, you will find a few gram­mat­i­cal issues and some incor­rect word choices but it is min­i­mal and does not dis­tract from the story.  Over­all Ms. Halle cre­ates a solid foun­da­tion for the remain­der of the series with char­ac­ters that are unique and sit­u­a­tions that pro­vide enough unan­swered ques­tions to keep you want­ing more.

And next up, LYING SEASON, From See­ing Night Reviews:

Okay so my first reac­tion to fin­ish­ing this book was a long pause and then scream­ing “OH MY GOD!” Yep that was my ini­tial reac­tion then I calmly put the book down and took a long breath, this was such a killer good fourth book in the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Series.  Karina Halle really knows how to make me want to pull my hair out and frighten me at the same time with her ghost story.

Perry and Dex are back! But this time around Perry is get­ting her­self into a dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tion. The duo’s next haunted expe­di­tion is tak­ing place in Seat­tle where Dex lives and his so called “per­fect” girl­friend wants Perry to stay with them while she works with Dex on the show.  But not only does Perry have to deal with their cutesy and argu­men­ta­tive rela­tion­ship, she also has to deal with her own rela­tion­ship with Dex and it’s com­pli­cated. Then of course there’s the ghost and this one is a scary one and she’s from Dex’s past and pop­ping up every­where. What really doesn’t help the sit­u­a­tion is that they’re a shoot­ing the next show in a men­tal insti­tute, where every­thing seems to go wrong.

Pretty much each time Dex and Perry go to shoot a new episode it gets more insane, scarier and dan­ger­ous. I really feel bad for Perry most of the time because of course she gets the worst of it.  The men­tal insti­tute is prob­a­bly in my mind one of the scari­est place that any­one would go to and hunt for ghost. What they find there is every­thing and more of what they were look­ing for and it’s going to put them in major dan­ger. Along with a com­pe­ti­tion ghost hunt­ing show it really made for one awe­some hor­ror ride.

Perry I have to say is one hell of a girl, she deals with the ups and downs of every­one around her. Her par­ents are prob­a­bly the worst par­ents ever, I don’t like them at all but her sis­ter is great and really sup­port­ing her the most. Then she has to deal with Jenn, the annoy­ingly per­fect girl­friend of Dex, who is really not per­fect. I felt for Perry, she held it together pretty well and really stuck up for her­self and opened up a lot more this time around. Dex doesn’t really make it easy for her to keep her emo­tions in when he really cares for her too.

The ghost are freak­ing scary, I swear as a fan of the tele­vi­sion show ghost hunters I love this kind of stuff. But actu­ally being there and hear­ing or even see­ing ghost and the ones as creepy as in Lying Sea­son I would be cry­ing a lot. Lets just stay make sure your read­ing this one with the light on.

Over­all I can’t get enough of this series, Lying Sea­son hands down was fan­tas­tic. Yes, there are some gram­mar errors but they really didn’t bother me because I love this series.  The rela­tion­ship with Dex and Perry just threw my heart around; I really love these two guys. They are both strug­gling in their own past lives but I’m pulling for them. The end­ing in this was insane and I was not pre­pared, so get pre­pared! I highly rec­om­mend this book!

This is a mature young adult / adult story with very scary sit­u­a­tions and fan­tas­tic mys­tery. I highly rec­om­mend this to fans of hor­ror and para­nor­mal enthusiast.

5/5 stars

There’s also been a heap of reviews on GoodReads as well from read­ers like you — no mat­ter the rat­ing, I’m always appre­cia­tive of peo­ple who not only take the time (and money) to read my books, but who go beyond and leave a review. Each one is help­ful in their own way and it’s a great way for new read­ers to gain objec­tive insight into the nov­els. So thank you to every­one who has reviewed the series in one way or another!

An interview. With yours truly.

If you haven’t seen this inter­view I did with For­ever Young Adult yet, here it is: CLICK MEEEEEE

It was a lot of fun, though I think I come off as a crazy per­son (note: I am a crazy per­son) and I’m not sure  how I feel about liv­ing in Toledo with Michael Fass­ben­der and our gag­gle of kids, but I’ll deal. I always do.

But I was glad to talk about the self-publishing route in an influ­en­tial YA web­site– yes, I’ve learned a lot from writ­ing Dark­house, not only has my writ­ing improved since then, I also hired a pro­fes­sional edi­tor for Dead Sky Morn­ing and Lying Sea­son. At some point, I will hire said edi­tor to give Dark­house and Red Fox a wee run through too, you know clean it up around the edges, tighten some prose, etc (I’m quite aware of my weak­nesses as a writer, and though I had many beta read­ers edit for me, it lacks the “pro­fesh” touch) but at the moment I’m just going to con­cen­trate on my cur­rent **Works-in-Progress (note: though absolutely nec­es­sary, edi­tors don’t come cheap). You learn as you go when you self-publish and I thank you all for stick­ing with me.

There’s also been this lovely review of Dead Sky Morn­ing in which Jenny pro­claims Perry and Dex have a whop­ping TEN on the Swoon­wor­thy Scale. You know the books may seem scary at first, but there is a whole lot of swoon­ing going on. I swear!

On that note, I’ve had peo­ple ask­ing if they can get the book at their library. I actu­ally believe you can. I mean, I did make Dark­house avail­able through “Libraries and Aca­d­e­mic Insti­tu­tions” so I think if you ask your library to carry the book (maybe using Title, Author and ISBN (found on the Ama­zon page here they tech­ni­cally should be able to order it in. Don’t quote me on that, but I did make it avail­able, so ask around! I’d be thrilled if Dark­house made it into a library.

If any­one, then, does suc­ceed with get­ting Dark­house in to a library, lemme know and I’ll send you a spe­cial gift!

**I’ll reveal the title and syn­op­sis of my cur­rent WIP as soon as I get 20% of it done — get­ting there. And of course I’ll let you know my progress with EIT #5, On Demon Wings :)


My favorite Young Adult website

Actu­ally I have more than a few favorites (and, really, I need to start updat­ing my links list here — man, hav­ing a web­site can really suck up a lot of your time), but one of my BIG favorites is the won­der­ful, fan­tas­tic, always hilar­i­ous, often witty and for­ever endear­ing, FOREVER YOUNG ADULT.

I’ve been read­ing their web­site for years now — long before I even wrote my first novel — so imag­ine my delight when, last year, Jenny from the web­site agreed to review DARKHOUSE.

Imag­ine my delight when SHE LOVED IT. I took a shot with this web­site, not know­ing if they would review my novel or not. I mean, it is tech­ni­cally self-published and I had encoun­tered so many review­ers who raised their noses at self-published books. But she took a chance and it paid off. For both of us! She has a new series she loves and I have a new fan. And I’m for­ever grate­ful for every sin­gle reader who takes a chance on my books. I under­stand the self-pubbed stigma, but just like indie music, just because it’s not on a major label, it doesn’t mean it’s not any good.

Last week, there was a fab­u­lous review of RED FOX — it’s hard to para­phrase their cute way of rating/reviewing, so a trip to their blog via THIS LINK should help.

And this Tues­day there will be a review of my third Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror book, Dead Sky Morn­ing, fol­lowed by an author inter­view on Wednes­day! I’m deeply flat­tered that I was asked to take part in an inter­view, join­ing the ranks of some really great, well-known authors. I mean, me, I’m just nobody really so it’s really grat­i­fy­ing and hum­bling at the same time to be fea­tured on their blog. I hope you’ll enjoy read­ing it — I get to play a game of MASH! *fin­gers crossed for Robert Downey Jr.*

Any­way, I’m sort of ram­bling. But I’m excited and just had to share :)

Authors and Reviewers: a love story

The rela­tion­ship between an author and a reviewer is one of the most sym­bi­otic ones in the arts today. This is becom­ing more preva­lent with the rise of the book blog­ging career path and the increase in the publisher’s use of social media. With­out one another, they sim­ply can­not exist. Review­ers rely on pub­lish­ers and authors to sup­ply them with “work” — books to read and review. Authors and pub­lish­ers need book review­ers to spread the word and gain publicity.

Some­times, though, things get out of whack and the whole sys­tem is turned on its head. This usu­ally comes from some­thing I call “a case of the meanies.”

I was talk­ing with an author recently. Like many authors, she writes book reviews, as well as her own nov­els. After leav­ing a less than favor­able review for one book, she was sud­denly expe­ri­enc­ing “rat­ings retal­i­a­tion”. The author whose book she cri­tiqued attacked her book in return, get­ting her friends to leave one-star reviews on GoodReads.

In another, more high pro­file case, a well-known debut author with a major pub­lisher, slan­dered (quite nas­tily, I might add) a cer­tain reviewer who had left a crit­i­cal, neg­a­tive review.  I mean, really? Over a bad review? Then, of course, there is that nutjob author who went crazy because of a bad review, attract­ing hun­dreds to the com­ment sec­tion. It went viral in a mat­ter of hours, doing a lot of dam­age to self-publishers every­where (we aren’t all like that, we swear!) and to herself.

This isn’t to say that all review­ers are blame­less. I do think you CAN go too far with a scathing review, par­tic­u­larly if it turns slan­der­ous and starts attack­ing the author, rather than the work. I think review­ers who pride them­selves on being catty, should prob­a­bly take a few sec­onds and think about the dam­age they are poten­tially inflict­ing and to whom. Does Cas­san­dra Clare care if you call her writ­ing shitty? Prob­a­bly not. But would a self-published, or debut small press indie writer? They might. You want to pro­vide crit­i­cism for them. You don’t want to take away their will to live.

And authors…I think a lot of authors need tougher skin. My nov­els aren’t always well-received — I accept that because it’s the nature of art. It’s sub­jec­tive. And I rec­og­nize that my char­ac­ters are DEFINITELY not for every­one. But you take the neg­a­tive reviews with a grain of salt. Maybe lis­ten if they have some­thing con­struc­tive to say, oth­er­wise, brush it off and con­cen­trate on the good reviews. It can sting but it’s not hard to do. The worst thing you could ever do as a writer is to A) get mad at the reviewer or B) retal­i­ate against them. Don’t com­ment (other than to say “Sorry you didn’t like it, thanks for giv­ing it a try!”), don’t argue, don’t take your issue pub­licly… and for heaven’s sake, don’t try and exact some kind of revenge on the reviewer. Just let it go, let the bal­ance between reviewer and author go back to nor­mal and enjoy the work­ing order of things. We aren’t ene­mies, we are here to help each other and share our love of the writ­ten word.

And here’s some­thing totally unre­lated and creepy now… the offi­cial trailer for the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Book #3, DEAD SKY MORNING (to read more about how I made the trailer and to enter a fan­tas­tic give­away, visit The Book­ish Babes).

Darkhouse — Free on Kindle — Jan 3-4th

Pretttty self-explanatory title.

Dark­house is free on Amazon’s Kin­dle from Jan­u­ary 3rd till mid­night Jan­u­ary 4th — LINK

Com­bine that with the fact that Red Fox (EIT #2) and The Ben­son (EIT #2.5) are both FREE on Smash­words, and you can get THREE free books today!

Tell your friends, your co-workers, your dog, your dog’s friends at the park, etc.

Need incen­tive? How about ALL FOUR Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror books in Paper­back (Dark­house, Red Fox, Dead Sky Morn­ing and Lying Sea­son)? Wanna win Amer­i­can Apparel Team Dex under­wear (in your size)?

Help me pro­mote Dark­house over the next two days and you’ll be entered to win! Open to North Amer­i­can res­i­dents only. Basi­cally, just tweet this post or share on Face­book or your blog. Or just fol­low @metalblonde on Twit­ter and help me out with a Dark­house RT. Make sure you let me know you’ve done so by leav­ing a com­ment below, or tweet me. I’ll be keep­ing tabs and putting all the names in a ran­dom­izer draw at week’s end!

And for a spe­cial NY mes­sage from moi, read onto the next post or click here!

Happy New Year — a message from…

Turn it up! I’m quiet :)

Remem­ber, Dark­house (Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror #1) will be avail­able for FREE on KINDLE on Jan 3rd and 4th.

Red Fox (EIT #2) and The Ben­son (EIT #2.5) are both FREE on Smashwords.

Start 2012 off with the first 2.5 books in this fan favorite ghost-hunting series for FREE!

Need more con­vinc­ing? Check out these two amaz­ing reviews of Dark­house:

5/5 Stars from Unput­down­able Books
“Oh my freak­ing God! Why did I take so long to pick up this book?
The entire time I was read­ing this book, I felt as if I was watch­ing an episode of a brand new series. Now, I can’t wait to read the next installments. ”

4/5 Stars from Demons Read Too “The sim­i­lar­i­ties between my life and that of the main char­ac­ter, Perry, were freak­ishly uncanny. I enjoyed slip­ping into her world and going along with her some­times wacky, but often under­stand­able trains of thought. The mys­tery of the light­house had its creepy moments, but what I loved came more through the ban­ter between Perry and Dex. The roman­tic under­cur­rents were paced real­is­ti­cally, and fun to watch unfurl.”

Dark­house also won the Top YA Hor­ror of 2011 from Unput­down­able Books as well.

And the Exper­i­ment in Ter­ror Series placed on another Top 10 of 2011 List HERE.