Monthly Archives: November 2010

Happy Hellforged Holidays! First Winner and Juliet’s Contest

Four weeks to go until Hellforged‘s release! And that means it’s time to announce the winner of the first drawing in my countdown giveaway—as well as next week’s prize. The winner of Tina’s “Dead Girl” mirrored compact and a signed copy of Hellforged is . . . (drum roll) . . .

Maria Mesa!!!

Congratulations, Maria! I’ve sent you an email.

But we’ve got more prizes to give away. The prize for next week’s drawing has been selected by Juliet Capulet, Vicky’s vampire roommate. Here’s Juliet to give you the details:

Everyone knows me through Shakespeare, even though the so-called Bard got my story 99% wrong. I spent years studying his version of my life, learning it by heart just so I could point out its errors to anyone who’d listen. So is it surprising that during those years I developed a taste for puns?

Shakespeare could hardly write more than three or four lines without throwing in a pun. Samuel Johnson wrote that Shakespeare just couldn’t stop himself from chasing after a pun: “He follows it to all adventures; it is sure to lead him out of his way, sure to engulf him in the mire. It has some malignant power over his mind, and its fascinations are irresistible.” Johnson considered puns “the lowest form of humor.” But Shakespeare, despite his shortcomings, wrote some that are really funny. Like when Mercutio is dying and he says, “Ask for me tomorrow, and you shall find me a grave man.” What an exit line. Cracks me up every time.

(Of course, the real Mercutio  said no such thing. He just kind of groaned and keeled over, but whatever…)

Vicky says I never met a pun I didn’t like and have printed on a coffee mug. That’s only partially true. I’ve only got one punny mug. It appears in Hellforged, and I’m giving it away in this contest. When the mug is cold, it looks like a plain black mug, but when you put hot liquid in it, it changes to say “Fangs for the Memories” in dripping, blood-red letters. Fangs for the Memories–get it? Shakespeare never even thought of that one.

For a chance to win Juliet’s mug and a signed copy of Hellforged, send your name and postal address to (If you’ve already done that, you’re entered—no need to send the information again.) Entering also makes you eligible for the grand prize drawing on Hellforged‘s release day: a Kindle WiFi or an gift card for the same amount ($139). Full contest details here.

Good luck!

RT gives Hellforged 4.5 stars!

It’s the day after Thanksgiving, and I’m still counting my blessings. Here’s one more thing I’m thankful for: I recently picked up the January issue of RT Book Reviews and was thrilled to find this 4.5-star review (out of a possible 4.5 stars) of Hellforged:

For demon-slayer Victory Vaughn, intensity and intrigue are revved way up as she is faced with a possible trap of destiny. The thrills are nonstop in Holzner’s latest Deadtown novel as the action races from continent to continent and into the reaches of hell itself. Even better than the first book, this series is becoming highly addictive!

Writing a novel is a long, solitary, intensive process. By the time I finish, I’ve been so immersed in the novel’s world for so long that I’m never quite sure if readers will be able to follow me there. So when someone reads the novel with pleasure and really gets it, I couldn’t be happier. Thank you, RT! 😀

Happy Thanksgiving!

I believe in counting blessings. Every day, I try to think of at least five things that I’m grateful for or that I simply appreciate. In many ways, 2010 has been a trying year, and keeping an eye on what’s good in my life has helped me get through some difficult times.

What I love about Thanksgiving is that it recognizes the importance of taking time to appreciate. The things at the top of my list that come to mind easily—family, health, friends—are important. That’s why I think of them first. But instead of just thinking, “I’m thankful for my family,” for example, I try to drill down into the specific things that make me so glad to have these people in my life: my husband’s intelligence, kindness, and humor; my daughter’s thoughtfulness and self-sufficiency; my parents’ generosity and love. It’s a lot more meaningful than just mumbling, “Family” before I reach for the turkey.

And even though the items at the top of my appreciation list are those that mean the most to me, I take a few minutes to keep looking for other, less obvious things to appreciate. Smaller things, such as the route I take for my favorite walk, a smile from a neighbor, or a book that gave me pleasure, deepen and enrich my life, and it feels good to give thanks for them.

The more I focus on the things I appreciate, the more good things show up in my life. It makes sense. When you’re actively looking for things to feel good about, you find them.  And when you notice the good things, life seems better.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Hellforged Holidays . . . From Tina

So I got asked to pick a prize for the Hellforged countdown contest.  I took a peek at Hellforged for inspiration. Here’s how Vicky describes me in the first chapter:

Not what you’d call a pretty sight. Like all zombies, Tina had spongy, gray-green skin and bloodred eyes. But the rest of her—the lashes gummy with mascara, the Barbie fashion sense, the double ponytails sprouting from the top of her head—that was 100 percent Tina.

Okay, so that first part stings. I mean, I can only do my best with what I’ve got, just like anybody else, right? I know I’ll never be Miss America. But I was glad to see that Vicky at least appreciates my sense of style.

And that’s how I decided what to pick for a prize. No fashion-conscious zombie should be without this awesome mirrored compact:

You can use it to touch up your lip gloss or, you know, make sure there’s no blood dribbling down you chin. Oh, and you’ll also get a signed copy of Hellforged.

All the contest details are here. But here’s the cheat-sheet version of how to enter: Send an email with your name and your mailing address to Whether or not you win my prize, you’ll also be entered to win the grand prize of a Kindle WiFi (or a gift card worth the same amount). Only one entry per person, please.

Be sure to check back next week to see if you won! You’ll also find out what Juliet, Vicky’s roommate, picked for her prize.

Starting a scene with dialogue

Yesterday I was so busy announcing my Happy Hellforged Holidays contest (have you entered yet?) that I didn’t get a chance to share a guest post I wrote for Janice Hardy’s excellent writing blog, The Other Side of the Story.

I wrote about starting a scene with dialogue. I don’t mean using a line of dialogue as the first line of a new scene (although sometimes that’s a good technique). I’m talking about my overall writing process. When I sit down to write a new scene, I find it easiest to begin with any dialogue that the scene contains. Once I can hear what the characters are saying, I can go back and layer in other details: where they are, what they’re doing, what the POV character is thinking, other sensory imagery. For me, dialogue is the scene’s skeleton, which I then go back and flesh out.

You can read the post here. And if you haven’t read Janice’s blog before, take some time to read the other posts. The blog is packed with  valuable information for writers.

And if you haven’t entered my Happy Hellforged Holidays contest yet, do it now! You could win a Kindle (or a gift card worth the same amount), a signed copy of Hellforged, and one of three surprise prizes to be chosen by characters from Vicky’s world. It takes two seconds to enter: Just send an email with your name and postal address to Full details here.

%d bloggers like this: