• Halloween Treat! "Roadside Assistance" Releases Today

    Happy Halloween, everyone! Here at vaempires.com, there are no tricks, only treats.

    I am pleased to announce that "Roadside Assistance" releases today. You can order your copy here 


    For Hannah, a long trip home seems a small price to pay for a little peace ... until her journey takes a turn for the worse. Now, injured and alone, she must test the limits of her courage, endurance, and love.


  • Confessions of A Vampire Wedding Planner: A Vaempires Guest Post

    Here's a guest post originally published at Sarcasm and Lemons!


    Confessions of A Vampire Wedding Planner


    Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be today’s guest blogger at Sarcasm & Lemons! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Vaempires: The Evolutionary War, an ongoing vampire series that explores the question: what if vampires evolved?

    To date, the series has three books: Revolution, Zombie Rising, and White Christmas. However, I’m not here to talk about my books today. Instead, I want to introduce you to Rhonda, vampire wedding planner extraordinaire and author of the DIY bestsellers, Help Me, Rhonda, and The Best Laid Plans.

    [Rhonda] Hello everyone. I’m Rhonda. No last name. I gave it up for Lent one year and never picked it up again. Haha!

    Okay, with the icebreaker behind us, what say we move along?

    As Tom said, I’m a wedding planner. But I’m not just a wedding planner; I am The Vampire Wedding Planner. Like me on Facebook.

    But seriously, as most of you know, a wedding planner is a professional who assists with the design, planning, and management of a client's wedding (thank you Wikipedia). It’s not a profession a person typically aspires to; it’s a profession a person turns to—the type of person who is never satisfied and knows he/she will continually seek that “perfect” wedding, but doesn’t have the nerve to seek it on his/her own behalf, because of the stigma associated with being married multiple times.*

    As such, I’ve planned more weddings than I care to count—each one an example of individual beauty and artistry that rivals the wonders of the world by melding the essence of the subject couple with the genius of yours truly. But that’s not what I’m here to talk about today. Instead, I want to change gears and share something that I’ve never shared with anyone before, in any form or forum: the things I detest most about my job.

    That’s right—Rhonda, The Vampire Wedding Planner, is about to dish the dirt on those undead dopes and divas!

    Rhonda’s Ten Pet Peeves:

    10. Incorporating blood into the wedding: Blood isn't a color scheme. Nor is it a state of mind. For that matter, it’s also not a theme. Blood is not the “be-all” or the “end-all.” Not even close. And while it may be thicker than water, nine out of ten vampires still prefer water for bathing, mixing with a nice scotch, or cooking their favorite pasta. And, in my experience, nothing whips a wedding crowd into a frenzy quicker than the unexpected sight of blood; not cheap hors d’oeuvres or a cash bar or even a rampaging bridezilla. Nothing.

    9. Vampire children who order Bloody Marys: It isn’t witty. It isn’t original. It isn’t adorable or cute or understandable. It’s only in their nature if they haven’t been raised with proper limits. Serving alcohol to minors also happens to be against the law in most civilized societies and, besides, have you ever witnessed a group of drunken, out-of-control vampire children? It’s Hunger Games meets Lord of the Flies, with a script by Michael Bay and a soundtrack by Marilyn Manson.

    8. Destination weddings: They are a bad idea, plain and simple. Too many variables; too many things to go wrong … and I’m not talking about the “don’t drink the water” variety. The Caribbean has too much sun. The Mediterranean has too much anti-vampire history. And everywhere, absolutely everywhere, the potential for innocent casualties (aka collateral damage) is just too great for my peace of mind.

    7. Couples who think their story is unique: Believe it or not, I don’t care who turned whom or how compelling you think your story of “finding true love after centuries of solitude“ is. IMHO, two vampires with more than a few years difference in their ages have exactly one thing in common: physical attraction (commonly referred to as the lust-monkey). Strip away the beautiful veneer and all that’s left is the fact that you’re hot for each other. Congratulations for being as shallow as the humans you consider yourselves superior to.

    And here’s a news flash to vampire couples everywhere: yours is not the greatest romance of all time. Not even close. Let’s see … a tormented guy who mistreats a woman he later falls in love with … a young woman who’s ready to give up everything and everyone she’s ever known for a guy she barely knows … a guy so in love with a woman that he sneaks into her room to watch her sleep … a woman who must choose between two men who promise to protect her while continually exposing her to danger … these are the collected descriptions of every Lifetime movie ever made.

    Heck, there’s a good chance that the thing you call love is outlawed somewhere.

    I’m just sayin’ …

    6. Wedding guests: Not all of them, of course. Most wedding guests are quite pleasant, but there are some—typically those who are horny or lonely or drunken or some combination thereof—who get under my skin. If I had a dollar for every person who’s placed a sloppy kiss on my cheek only to slide down to my neck, or offered to show me how big his/her claws are, or attempted to trick me into inviting him/her to my room for a nightcap (yup, that rumor is true—they can’t come in unless invited), I’d be a blue blood. Luckily—contrary to popular belief—vampires do not get stronger as they get older. They get stranger, certainly, but not stronger; which is fortuitous since the overwhelming number of inappropriate advances are made by centuries-old relics who are more dangerous to themselves than they are to a lil’ ol’ human gal like me.

    5. Custom wedding vows: Yuck! What is it about getting married that endows so many people with delusions of grandeur? And what makes people think that being in love (or something like it) suddenly transforms them into writers?

    I’ve seen people who can’t read my brochures suddenly decide that they’re going to write their own vows. You can imagine how that turns out.

    And even for those who can write, I say leave it to the experts. You’re not growing your own flowers are making your own dress … so why screw up your vows?

    Trust me. You’ll screw them up plenty over time. Don’t give it a head start at the altar. I’ve heard enough bad vows to fill a library. In fact, it may be the subject of my next book. For now, here’s a treasure from a few days ago:

    Bride: Each day was empty. Meaningless. I never lived until the day you bit me.

    Groom: You may not be able to get blood from a stone, but I’ll always be your rock.

    Yes … they were that bad. I kid you not.

    Don’t let that be you.

    4. Parents’ dances: Yes, they are a custom in many cultures. Yes, they can be very sweet and emotionally moving. Who doesn’t like to see dad cry or mom beam with pleasure?

    No one.

    Conversely, no one wants to see dad die or mom scream in anguish … which is why I always ask a client to please eschew the parents’ dances if any of the following are true: a) you or your spouse has “mommy” issues; b) you or your spouse has “daddy” issues; c) you can’t agree whether to dance with biological parents or the vampires who turned you; or d) any of the biological parents are still human. Of course, I also throw in e) any of the potential dance partners look younger than the newlyweds. It’s not necessarily dangerous, but it’s just unnatural.

    It’s also why I don’t plan weddings in California.

    3. Maid of Honor/Best Man speeches: These things are dangerous enough in the human world, where an already-drunken best man accidentally reveals that he and the groom were once “very, very close” or the maid of honor recounts the wild college weekend that ended with the bride married to a charming hotel valet … but just imagine how interesting things get when the individuals in question have a shared history that’s centuries’ long.

    Forget “who slept with who” … it’s a straight-up cornucopia of dysfunction, with plenty of “who turned who” and “who drained who” mixed in with a bunch of “who watched who get staked and did nothing” and “who left the lid up on whose coffin.” Then there’s a bunch of “I always got stuck with the non-virgin blood” and “WTF were you doing there?” thrown in for good measure.

    Think The Jerry Springer Show on crack and you might come close.

    2. Certain bonuses, tips, or gratuities: It pleases me tremendously to know that I gave you a perfect wedding; the one you always dreamed of. It’s also my job, so I’m satisfied both personally and professionally. If you want to show your appreciation with more than words, it’s usually my turn to be grateful.

    Cash is preferred. Checks made out to “cash” are a close second. Odd marketable securities and/or precious stones will not be refused, although I don’t have the right connections to ensure I’m not getting ripped off when I cash them in. A villa in France, an exotic car, a sports franchise … there are myriad ways to reward me.

    However, I can’t stress enough how much I’m not interested in becoming a vampire. I don’t want to “join the winning team.” I don’t want to live forever. And I certainly don’t want to stick around for the sake of performing the same service for “the children of your children’s children.”

    1. Sparkly vampires: I could go on all day about this one. I won’t, of course, but I want to go on record as saying that I could. What I want to know is: when will the madness end? It’s been years, and I still have far too many couples asking me to make them sparkle.

    I’ll admit that it was kinda cute at first—cheesy, but cute. But it quickly became droll. Then it evolved into boring, before power-shifting from passé to infuriating to where it currently sits: mind-numbingly maddening. And still it continues. I want to scream, “Are we planning a wedding or a costume party?” But I hold my tongue.

    For pete’s sake (Pete, of course, is my husband, who is wayyyy beyond sick of listening to me complain about this), people, I’ve never seen a sparkly vampire. They aren’t real. They are a figment of someone’s overactive imagination, I suppose, or perhaps an underactive one … but the fact is that they don’t exist. Period.

    I have seen vampires with oily skin that glistened in sunlight. I’ve seen vampires that glowed by the light of the silvery moon. I’ve even seen vampires—typically well into the festivities, when it’s easier to confuse the kitchen and restroom doors— with sparkly things inserted in places never intended by nature … but I have never seen a vampire that sparkled naturally.

    So, there you have it; the top ten things that drive me crazy. Still, if you’re a potential client—and who isn’t?—don’t be frightened. None of the above will stop me from giving you the kick-a$$ wedding of a lifetime (or two)!

    And for those wondering how I can ever feel safe when vampires constantly surround me, remember that I have sole control over the one thing that all vampires fear:

    My bill for services rendered.


    *Author’s Note: I apologize to any wedding planners offended by Rhonda’s statement. While I’m certain she believes this is the truth, and I strongly support her right to speak freely, please keep in mind that her statements represent her opinion only.

  • The Best Laid Plans: A Vaempires Guest Post

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author J. Scott Sharp.

    The Best Laid Plans


    Today, I’d like to speak about plans that don’t quite work out … as planned.

    Before focusing on writing, I spent fifteen years working for a global pharmaceutical company. The last dozen years were spent in training and development efforts. One of the most important concepts I learned during my professional career had to do with understanding the difference between intent and impact. It’s a critical component of leading effectively, although one needn’t be in a leadership position to benefit from understanding it.

    The basic premise is simple: when it comes to actions and behaviors, there can be a wide gap between an individual’s intent and the impact of that individual’s actions or behaviors.

    For instance: person A shares a joke with person B. While person A’s intent may be to share something humorous … the impact on person B can be quite different; he/she might be humored, but might also be offended, angered, sickened, etc.

    We see it all the time around us, whenever a public figure says something that unexpectedly creates a firestorm of controversy. Part of that person’s apology typically includes the rationale that he/she never intended anything negative.

    Of course, this concept of intent vs. impact doesn’t have to include something as noteworthy as a public faux pas. It can happen in other, less visible, yet equally unexpected ways.

     I’m dealing with the outcome of it right now.

    When I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Væmpires: Revolution, my story was much different. Entitled Hunted: Væmpire’s End, Book 1, the tale was set more than a decade later, in a world where the væmpire revolution was long over. The victorious væmpires had eliminated humans and were systematically killing off all vampires. The protagonist, Daniel, led a ragtag team of vampires against the væmpire overlords, while searching for his long lost love, Cassie. Cassie had been captured by the antagonist, Vielyn, on the day of the uprising and had never been heard from again. Daniel’s best friends, Linq and Ray, were mentioned as having been killed many years earlier, during the early part of the war.

    The book had so much backstory that my editor urged me to begin at an earlier time. Thus, I set the second draft five years after the revolution. Daniel was again the protagonist—this time he was part of an official rebellion—and he led an assault team on an incursion into the væmpire-held capital. No surprise: he was looking for information on the whereabouts of Cassie. His team included Linq and Ray, neither of whom survived the novel’s final battle.

    In both drafts, Cassie was briefly glimpsed in a prologue in which she was taken prisoner by Vielyn.
    Now, in draft three, my intent was simple: expand the prologue a bit and clean up the rest of the novel. Unexpectedly, the prologue kept growing and growing—becoming much too long to be a prologue and eventually becoming the entire first book of the series, Væmpires: Revolution. In this book, Daniel and Cassie shared the spotlight, while Linq and Ray played supporting roles.

    I released Væmpires: Revolution and then quickly followed it with Væmpires: White Christmas, a novella prelude that offered a glimpse at life before the revolution. I spent some time supporting the releases with book tours and other promo activities, before returning to the business of writing.

    I sat down to write book two, fully intending to return to my original storyline. It would take place five years after the revolution, with a cast of previously developed, but not yet introduced characters.

    And that is where intent vs. impact occurred.

    You see; I didn’t anticipate Cassie becoming such a hit with readers. I didn’t anticipate Linq and Ray having fans, either. I had been so focused on my own intentions that I failed to consider the potential impact.

    Luckily, it wasn’t a situation that required a public apology or some other form of damage control. It did, however, require some major rethinking, reorganizing, re-planning, and otherwise general scrambling on my part.

    The good news is that Væmpires: Zombie Rising, the first step on my road to recovery, is complete and will be released in October.

    The bad news is that intent vs. impact is bound to derail me again … when I least expect it. It’s often said that forewarned is forearmed, but I’m not convinced. Either that, or I’m a slow learner.
    Nevertheless, I vow to enjoy the journey. I hope you’ll join me



  • Character Interview: Cassandra Rich'rds

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for the Happy Tails and Tales Blog.

    Character Interview: Cassandra Rich'rds


    This interview takes place approximately midway between Væmpires: White Christmas and Væmpires: Revolution.

    Maghon: Hello everyone. I’m so excited to announce a very special guest for today’s interview—Princess Cassandra! That’s right; our very own fairy princess is sitting across from me and she’s agreed to answer everything and anything thrown her way during this segment.

    Cassandra: Hey! (Laughs)

    Maghon: (Also laughs) Within reason, of course. We can’t expect our future queen to divulge all the royal family’s dark secrets, can we?

    Cassandra: Not without earning the grounding of a lifetime, you can’t.

    Maghon: Well, all right, then; let’s get started. Princess Cassandra, good morning and welcome to Happy Tails and Tales. I can’t tell you how happy I am that you’re here.

    Cassandra: Believe me, Maghon, it’s my pleasure. And, please, call me Cassie.

    Maghon: Okay … Cassie it is. But only if you agree to call me Mags.

    Cassandra: Done.

    Maghon: I have a whole list of questions on hand, Cassie, but I’m moving off topic right away because of what you’re wearing. That jewelry is quite beautiful. Beyond beautiful, actually—more like exquisite. Red teardrop earrings and a matching pendant. They’re crystal, I assume?

    Cassandra: Yes.

    Maghon: Can you tell me about them?

    Cassandra: Well, Mags, the jewelry was a gift. The hand-crafted pieces are meant to signify two things; the first being tears, as you noted. But the shape also signifies drops of blood. I have to admit that they are so delicate and beautiful that I’m terrified to wear them. I’m afraid I’m going to lose them or that I’ll get caught out in one of Orion’s windstorms and a strong gust will blow them away. Don’t get me wrong, I carry them with me at all times because I can’t stand having them out of my sight, but I don’t get the courage to actually wear them too often. (Laughs) That’s pretty much the whole sordid story.

    Maghon: Almost, but not quite, Cassie.

    Cassandra: I beg your pardon.

    Maghon: Well, I’m honored that you chose to share that story with us, but I believe you left out one little detail.

    Cassandra: A detail?

    Maghon: Of course. You forgot to mention whom the jewelry was a gift from.

    Cassandra: Uh … well—

    Maghon: I assumed the gift was from your parents, Cassie, but I smell a secret in your hesitation. A gift from a suitor, perhaps?

    Cassandra: A suitor?

    Maghon: Yes, Cassie, a suitor. As in a person with the intention of knowing you better.

    Cassandra: (Laughs) I know what a suitor is, Mags.

    Maghon: Excellent. Then you can answer the question. Was the jewelry a gift from a suitor?

    Cassandra: Let’s just say the gift was from someone special.

    Maghon: By “someone special,” you wouldn’t happen to be referring to a certain young man from a prominent military family, would you?

    Cassandra: No comment.

    Maghon: (Laughs) A special someone who will remain nameless, then?

    Cassandra: Yes … something like that.

    Maghon: Fair enough, Cassie. For the time being. (Sighs) But now, why don’t we change topics?

    Cassandra: Sure. To what?

    Maghon: How about we move on to this summer’s momentous event: your sweet sixteen party! (Cheers)

    Cassandra: (Laughs) Okay.

    Maghon: There’s so much I could ask you, Cassie: the party details … what you’ll be wearing … who’s invited … who’ll be performing … but there’s really only one thing I want to know.

    Cassandra: What’s that?

    Maghon: We all know that a princess turning sixteen is allowed to ask for one special wish. Traditionally, the princess requests something related to the world-at-large. I want to know what you’re going to ask for. Specifically, given the current climate—in particular, the increased tension between humans, vampires, and væmpires—I want to know if your wish will be in any way related.

    Cassandra: I’m sorry, Mags, I can’t answer that right now.

    Maghon: Can’t … or won’t?

    Cassandra: I can’t. The truth is that I haven’t decided yet, so I don’t know the answer to your question.

    Maghon: I understand. But here’s a question you do know the answer to: where did you spend Christmas?

    Cassandra: What … (nervous laugh) …what do you mean?

    Maghon: C’mon Cassie. Even though every light in the house was on, everyone knows the palace was minus one royal family for the holidays. The rumor mills are running rampant with talk of secret meetings somewhere in the Americas.

    Cassandra: I can’t talk about secrets of state, Mags, so you know I can neither confirm nor deny those rumors.

    Maghon: Understood. But all I’m asking is where you spent Christmas.

    Cassandra: Why, I spent it with my family, of course.

    Maghon: (Laughs heartily). Okay, Cassie, that round goes to you. So, I’m going to be tenacious on an earlier point. The first time you wore that necklace and those earrings was at this past New Year’s party—when your family was definitely here in Orion—correct?

    Cassandra: Perhaps. Probably. I can’t really say for certain.

    Maghon: I can. I did some research and it turns out that those earrings and that necklace were never photographed, noticed, or even mentioned prior to that party … which would seem to strongly indicate that they were not just a gift, but a Christmas gift. Is it safe to say that?

    Cassandra: Yes, it would be safe to say that.

    Maghon: So … this secret meeting may or may not have taken place … but if one did, it is safe to assume that the royal guard was there, as well, is it not?

    Cassandra: If a meeting occurred, then yes it is.

    Maghon: And if the royal guard was there, it is safe to assume that the captain of the royal guard was there, as well, true?

    Cassandra: Sure.

    Maghon: And if the royal guard was there, and the captain of the royal guard was there, then it is safe to assume that the captain’s son was there, as well. Yes? After all, Daniel is second-in-command, correct?

    Cassandra: I … I guess so. What I mean is yes—to both questions.

    Maghon: So … and I’m just brainstorming here, mind you … it is possible that the special someone who presented you with that exquisite Christmas gift … was Daniel.

    Cassandra: (Nervous laugh) That’s quite a leap of logic, Mags.

    Maghon: And that’s not an answer, your highness.

    Cassandra: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you asked a question.

    Maghon: You’re right; I didn’t. So, did Daniel give you the necklace and earrings?

    Cassandra: No comment.

    Maghon: (Exasperated laugh) Cassie, everyone in the seven provinces thinks the two of you are involved. Give me something to work with.

    Cassandra: Everyone knows that our parents are best friends, Mags. Our families are understandably close. Closer than close. Daniel and I have been friends since birth. It’s never been a secret that he and I share a rare and unique relationship.

    Maghon: A relationship that now extends beyond friendship?

    Cassandra: No comment.

    Maghon: (Growls) Oh, you’re no fun! You royals never are. Too close-mouthed. But I’m not giving up. Since you won’t tell us about your relationship with Daniel, tell us something else.

    Cassandra: Like what?

    Maghon: Tell us something that no one else knows about Daniel. Something juicy.

    Cassandra: Mags! He’s right outside the door!

    Maghon: Daniel accompanied you here?

    Cassandra: He’s … guarding me.

    Maghon: He’s a member of your assigned guard team?

    Cassandra: Well, not really …

    Maghon: Not really? He’s here on guard business, correct?

    Cassandra: Yes.

    Maghon: But, he’s not part of the team?

    Cassandra: No. He’s alone. There is no team.

    Maghon: Oh my! This is absolutely delicious! And such irony! Are you telling me that Daniel is your personal bodyguard?

    Cassandra: No!

    Maghon: What a wonderful shade of crimson you’ve turned, Cassie. It quite matches your necklace and earrings—the gift that may or may not have come from the young man who’s now apparently assigned with guarding our nation’s greatest asset. (Laughs) That’s quite a bit of responsibility for someone so young, don’t you think?

    Cassandra: I assure you, Daniel is quite capable of handling any situation that arises.

    Maghon: Wow! I won’t even touch that! But seriously, from what I’ve seen of our future captain of the guard—(whispers) and who knows, perhaps even more than that—something tells me that he is, in fact, quite capable.

    Well, someone is knocking. Shall we see who it is?


    Maghon: It turns out our time has been cut short as Princess Cassandra was just whisked away by her (chuckles) quite handsome young bodyguard. Daniel wouldn’t explain why, but I’m already seeing reports of a possible terrorist attack in Orion’s west side.

    That’s bad news for us, and bad news for those working so hard toward peace, but I’m so thankful that the princess was able to stop by today. And thanks to all of you for joining me!



  • Character Interview: Daniel DeStrey

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for the Reader Girls blog.

    Character Interview: Daniel DeStrey


    Today, I’m sharing an interview with Daniel DeStrey, one of the teen heroes in my Væmpires novels. (This interview takes place before Væmpires: White Christmas.)

    Laurie: Hello everyone. I’m so excited to announce a very special guest for today’s interview: Daniel DeStrey! For those of you who don’t know, Daniel is the son of Steven and Gabrielle DeStrey. Steven is captain of the royal guard and Gabrielle, of course, is a famed novelist.

    Good morning and welcome to Reader Girls Blog. I can’t tell you how happy we are that you’re here, Daniel. I’m Laurie, this is Meghan—

    Meghan: Call me Meggo. (She blushes.)

    Daniel: Okay.

    Laurie: And this is Caitlin. We’ll all take turns asking questions, if you don’t mind.

    Daniel: I don’t mind at all. In fact, it’s my pleasure. I’ve never had an interview request before.

    Laurie: Oh, stop!

    Daniel: I’m serious. Other than school-related activities, this is my first official interview.

    Laurie: That’s amazing! We’re making history today at Reader Girls. Let’s begin with an easy question then. You’re fifteen, correct?

    Daniel: Yes.

    Laurie: What is a day in your life like? Can you describe it for my audience?

    Daniel: Sure. Well, my typical day begins at dawn. I do an hour of exercise to get the blood flowing. [Laughs] Sorry. Vampire humor. It’s one of Ray’s favorite jokes. Anyway, after the exercise, I have breakfast with my parents. Then it’s off to school. After school, there’s an hour or two of training, depending on any other activities or commitments. We eat dinner. Then I spend some time with my friends, do homework, surf the ‘Nex … the usual teenage stuff.

    Laurie: My followers might argue that your life is anything but usual, Daniel. To that end, what’s it like living on the royal estate?

    Daniel: Well, Laurie, it’s all I’ve ever known, so it’s easy to take it for granted. But, then I’ll see the awe in a visitor’s eyes and it reminds me of how lucky I am. You know, there was this one time when a human family was walking through the estate. Two parents, two children—a boy and girl. They were obviously tourists—their arms were full of recording equipment and souvenirs—but their accents also gave them away as being from somewhere in South Atlantica. You should’ve seen their faces when the royal family actually came around a corner and walked right up to them! King Brant, Queen Anne, and Cassie—er, Princess Cassandra, spoke to them and took pictures and they had a nice ten minute conversation. About hallway through it, the boy, who was around my age, looked up at King Brant and said, “I always see you on the vidscreen, but I never believed you were really real.” I never forgot that.

    Meghan: Speaking of the royal family—how would you describe your relationship with them? (Bats her lashes.)

    Daniel: They are my second family, Meggo. King Brant and Queen Anne are like parents to me.

    Caitlin: So, that means Princess Cassandra is like a sister to you?

    Daniel: (Coughs … followed by a few seconds of silence) Well, Caitlin … I prefer to think of her as more of a friend than a sister.

    Laurie: Okay, let’s talk about your family, now. Should we begin with your mother or father?

    Daniel: Start with my mother. [Whispers] Otherwise, she’ll get mad at me.

    Meghan: Oh, dude, I know what you mean! [Laughs] Your mother it is. So … Gabrielle DeStrey. The childhood best friend of the queen … who ends up marrying the king’s childhood best friend, Steven DeStrey. A best-selling author. A face that is known around the world. Your mother is a celebrity in more ways than one, Daniel. How do you handle it?

    Daniel: Well, it’s much like the dynamic of living on the royal estate. I knew her as mom long before I realized she was famous, so I never really thought about it too much. Of course, my father always jokes that someone made a mistake inserting him and I into this equation. We’re a couple of blue collars surrounded by blue bloods. To me, she’s just mom. The greatest mother in the world, but still mom.

    Caitlin: Well, that leads us to your father. Steven DeStrey, captain of the royal guard. A man charged with some of the most awesome responsibilities on the planet. Yet, he never seems to let it get to him. Is that an accurate assessment?

    Daniel: It is. My father was well trained by his father before him … and I’ll say this: there is no one I’d trust with the safety and security of the royal family, and all of Tarados, than him.

    Laurie: You mention an interesting point, Daniel. Because captain of the guard is an inherited position, you’re your father’s second-in-command. There aren’t many such situations around Tarados. Do you ever feel trapped by the expectations?

    Daniel: No. Not at all. It’s a proud tradition that I’ll be honored and privileged to continue.

    Caitlin: So, being captain of the guard is what you always wanted to be when you grew up?

    Daniel: No. I’m perfectly fine being second-in-command.

    Laurie: [Laughs] Why, you’re more diplomatic than you pretend to be, Daniel.

    Daniel: Hey!

    Laurie: I think it’s time to switch gears here. After all, there are hordes of teens around the world dying to know more about you. The juicy stuff.

    Daniel: If you say so.

    Laurie: We do. So, let’s get started. Are you currently in a relationship?

    Daniel: No.

    Meghan: Ooh! So, do you have a current crush?

    Daniel: I—I can’t answer that.

    Caitlin: Can you tell us who your first crush was?

    Daniel: Uh-huh! My lips are sealed about that, too.

    Laurie: You’re not playing fair, Daniel. Millions of people want to know these things. [Laughs] Here’s an easy one. Who was your hero/heroine growing up?

    Daniel: My parents. To be honest, both of them are still my heroes.

    Meghan: I love honesty. So … what was your most embarrassing moment?

    Daniel: I think it’ll be this one, if the three of you have your way.
    [Everyone laughs]

    Laurie: Since full disclosure doesn’t seem possible, how about we finish the interview with you finishing a few statements?

    Daniel: Sounds … safe enough.

    Laurie: It is. So here goes: My definition of a great day …

    Daniel: includes spiced synth-blood and sports.

    Meghan: If I were president, I’d …

    Daniel: be human. [Laughs] Sorry. Another one of Ray’s jokes.

    Caitlin: If I were king, I would …

    Daniel: be … Cassie’s father? I guess. [Laughs]

    Meghan: My definition of a dream come true is …

    Daniel: [Laughing] No way, Meggo. Those are state secrets.

    Caitlin: If I could change one thing about my life, it would be …

    Daniel: absolutely nothing. It’s perfect just the way it is. Better than perfect, even.

    Laurie: And I think this interview is perfect just the way it is, Daniel. I know you have other commitments to attend to, so we’ll let you off the hook.

    Meghan: For now. Can I get your cell phone number?

    Laurie: [Laughs] Yes, for now. Thank you so much for joining us today, Daniel. We hope you’ll stop by again and don't pay Meggo any attention. She's just joking. (Meggo shakes her head, holds up her iPhone, mouths "Call me!")

    Daniel: The pleasure was all mine. Laurie, Meghan, Caitlin, it was great meeting you and I promise that we will do this again. Thank you for inviting me to Reader Girls Blog.



  • Cash and Carry: Flash Fiction by Thomas Winship

    Originally published on author S.M. Boyce's website.


    Cash and Carry by Thomas Winship


    I purchased a chainsaw today. No plastic. I paid cash. No one needed to know that I was the proud new owner.

    Well, a few people may find out … but they’ll never tell.

    I whistled as I walked through the hardware store. Doing so felt odd—out of place, if you will—but I had to. I certainly can’t whistle while I work. Not with the sounds of a chainsaw and the havoc it wreaks.

    A few people smiled. A few turned away. Some looked at me like I was offending their god, which, of course, isn’t possible, because I am god.

    When I hold a chainsaw in my hands, I have the power to create or destroy. I have the power to take life or give it. I can see the past, the present, and the future. I am omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omni-whatever-the-fuck-I-want.

    I also look sexy as hell swinging a chainsaw—the bigger the better. Give me a blade that’s longer than my arm and the debate over the world’s sexiest man is over.

    Still, the chainsaw I purchased was the smallest one available. You see, in many ways, chainsaws are just like penises. The biggest ones are real impressive, but they turn out to be pretty unwieldy when you try to use them. On the other hand, the smaller ones allow a person to get up close and personal. Makes for real intimate encounters.

    Intimate encounters. I like that.

    So I whistled as I walked through the store. After I paid, I even whistled as I walked through the parking lot. All the way to my van, a white, windowless wreck that screams “serial killer,” but remains my most reliable friend. I stopped whistling once I climbed behind the wheel, though. Driving is serious business. No drinking, texting, sexting, or whistling while driving. Ever. Or someone like me will cut you off and remind you where your attention should be.

    When I got home, I opened the box but didn’t allow myself to touch the chainsaw until I read the entire manual. Even the Spanish and French sections, although I couldn’t understand a word. It hurt my head, but that stuff’s there for a reason. When the pounding behind my eyes lessened, I picked up my new toy and held it aloft. As always, I resisted the urge to dance around with it like Leatherface. I might whistle now and then, but even an idiot knows to leave such tomfoolery to the pros.

    After testing its heft and balance, I filled it with gas and revved it up. So small, yet so powerful. It purred like a kitten, but my arms still shook. I’ll admit I was light-headed with excitement. One day, it’ll be the death of me. I know it.

    But not today.

    Today, I purchased a chainsaw. Today, I’m god. And tonight I’m going to do the godly work that already had me a-whistlin’.

    I open the door and head down the stairs.


  • Reading, Writing, and (Even Some) ‘Rithmetic: A Vaempires Guest Post

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author Jen McConnel.

    Reading, Writing, and (Even Some) ‘Rithmetic


    It should come as a surprise to no one that I’m an avid reader. After all, what author isn’t?

    I should make one thing clear, though: reading has always been truly hedonistic for me. I didn’t choose to read for knowledge (which probably explains a lot) or research (ditto) or even as part of a book-of-the-month club. I read for pleasure. Period.

    And I devoured books; one after another, literally with one eye on the words I was reading and the other on the book that was next in line.

    Try it yourself sometime; it takes practice, but it can be done.

    Now, where was I? That’s right—describing my insatiable appetite for books.

    The truth is that I want to read every single book that catches my interest. And there are a lot of ‘em. Heck, if I was in Twilight, I’d get Edward to turn me into a vampire—not because he’s dreamy and refined and oh so sparkly (although he is certainly all that … and more!), but because I’d then have the rest of forever within which to read.

    How awesome would that be?

    Don’t get me wrong. Some vampires would spend their time … I don’t know … going to high school, or serving drinks, or even saving the world, but not me. I’d have my nose in a book.

    And as for the rest of me. Well, suffice it to say that a vampire’s gotta do what a vampire’s gotta do.

    Anyway, back to reality. I once explained my love of reading to a blogger this way: I don’t leave the house without a book. I go to Disney World and read while waiting in line. I do not have a DNF pile. When I was a child I used to sneak into the hallway after bedtime to read by the nightlight. The list of things I would rather do than read is very short. Very, very short.

    I’ve always loved to read. I’d often hope for a rainy day during my summer vacations so I’d have an excuse to stay inside and read.

    I can’t even hazard a guess as to how many books I’ve read. I can tell you how many I’ve read since 1990, though, because I started keeping track: 2100+. Almost one hundred books per year … which is good, but not quite good enough.

    Avid readers know what I mean.

    Because I’m an author, many people expect me to be a critical reader. I’m not. My intent has always been to enjoy what I read, not pick it apart or compare it to some ideal.

    Don’t get me wrong. When reading, I used to be as prone as the next reader was to thinking, Damn! I can write that. Or even, I can write better than that.

    However, unlike the average reader, I did a bit of writing. And I came to realize that it isn’t as easy as it seems. There’s more to it than singular talent or desire or even skill.

    Good writers aren’t necessarily successful writers. Successful writers aren’t necessarily good writers. And there will always be a successful writer that becomes the target of critics.

    Of recent note, look at the Twilight series—which I read—or the Fifty Shades trilogy—which I didn’t. Did either author receive a Pulitzer? No (although I hear a grass roots movement to nominate the last two Fifty Shades novels for a Newbery Medal was making real headway until someone pointed out that James is a Brit) … but neither author claimed to be writing a literary novel. Instead, both authors did exactly what they set out to do: write novels that entertained a lot of people. And they sold a bunch of books while doing it. Of course, that incurred the wrath of many a critic; few of which ever authored anything beyond a scathing critique.

    Still, I have become a more critical reader since I started writing. It’s an inevitable offshoot of being critical of my own writing. Yes, I still read for pleasure, but I can’t help but pay more attention to what an author does—or doesn’t do—well. It can only help improve my own writing.

    And it hasn’t lessened my hunger for reading. In retrospect, I believe I always harbored a touch of fear around that point; that reading with a discerning eye would erode the pleasurable part of reading. That fear couldn’t be further from the truth.

    If anything, my love of reading has increased with the addition of a critical lens. There is as much pleasure to be found in appreciating an artist’s mastery of the craft as there is in devouring the finished product.

    That’s twice the pleasure, at least, for the same initial investment.



  • Hope (For National Suicide Prevention Week): A Vaempires Guest Post

    Today, I want to share words about hope I once penned for author Jessica Fortunato and National Suicide Prevention Week.



    "Hope is, arguably, the most underrated, yet overused, word in our language. I hope I get that job. I hope we're having pizza  for dinner. I hope he/she likes me. Everywhere one turns, phrases  involving hope are bandied around in casual conversation.

    Collectively, we sell hope short. We cheapen it with our  selfish, narcissistic application. Hope involves more than the  attainment of some momentary satisfaction or enjoyment. It is much more, even, than leverage within the elusive, everyday games that people play.

    Hope is magical stuff. Hope is powerful stuff. It  has the power to save lives, yes, but it can even save one life. It has  the power to change your world ... my world ... the world.

    Hope shouldn't be hoped for. It shouldn't be tossed around as conversational filler. It should be seeded and sown, encouraged and  fostered, and spread around and celebrated. Hope should be  provided to those who need it most. Hope should be the last thing that is neglected or abandoned or forgotten among our busy, everyday lives.

    At least, that's what I hope."



  • Hey!! Watch Where You’re Putting That Thing!: A Vaempires Guest Post

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author S.M. Boyce.

    Hey!! Watch Where You’re Putting That Thing! (Why Genre Matters)


    How many times have you heard that before?

    Perhaps you heard it as a harsh whisper creeping down the hallway from your parents’ bedroom after they’d gone to bed early, or as a shout echoing across a parking lot when someone jammed in too close to a rear end. Regardless of the situation or circumstance, there’s one thing that was likely:

    It wasn’t going to end well.

    Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be S.M. Boyce’s guest today! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: RevolutionVæmpires: White Christmas, and the upcoming Væmpires: Zombie Rising.

    Now, before you get all hot and bothered, please let me clarify. This isn’t going to be a post about adult toys and safe words and various scenarios that a human body simply wasn’t built to withstand … this is going to be a nice, clean, G-rated post about writing.

    I’m sorry to disappoint the deviants among you.

    You see, the uninitiated believe that being a writer is all about ideas and creativity and the power of the written word and following your heart and all kinds of new age-y mumbo jumbo, when the reality is that writers are faced with more rules and regulations than your average recent-college-grad-turned-submissive is.

    There are rules about word counts and sentence structure and perspective and … well, more crap than you care to know about.

    Then there are rules for each genre.

    If you just said, “Are you f*in kidding me?” and looked disgusted, then you are my hero. I bet you sparkle in the sun. I mean, truly, you’re my Rue. Only, you know, still breathing.

    Anyway, enough gushing. She was in the movie for roughly five minutes.

    Understanding genre rules is important if: 1) an author intends to write in a genre; and 2) an author intends to successfully write in a genre.

    If you’re an author and you don’t fit into #1 or #2 above, congratulations on your MFA!

    Let me share a tale of woe to illustrate my point.

    I wrote my first novel about five years ago. It was a spectacularly grandiose novel (150,000 words) about murder, betrayal, obsession, and human nature. I labeled it a mystery/legal thriller and shopped it to agents. For more than a year, it elicited feedback (on occasion). I wrote revision after revision, plugging along like a fool until someone actually took the time to point out one obvious flaw.

    I had a genre problem. It didn’t meet the genre rules for a mystery or a legal thriller. I guess I could say that I swung both ways, but, man, could that be misconstrued, misinterpreted, misrepresented, and all kinds of mis-somethingorothers … all of which would be bound to get me into hot water with some special interest group.

    But, seriously, realizing that I was in a genre predicament was an unpleasant realization. Not quite as unpleasant as visiting the doctor for the first time after you’ve turned forty and realizing you’re about to become closer than you ever anticipated … but unpleasant, nevertheless.

    The novel now sits in a box in my office. Who knows if I’ll ever muster the energy to do right by it?

    So, with some important lessons learned, I approached my væmpires novels from an entirely new perspective (lie #1). I researched genres until I found the one I intended to write in (lie #2), studiously learned them (lie #3), and carefully adhered to them (lie#4).

    Okay, the truth is that I wrote the first damned book in the series and then asked someone else to tell me which genre it best fit in. *shrugs* I never said I was wise.

    Luckily, Væmpires: Revolution slid very snugly into the urban fantasy genre. It’s like they were made for each other. It was like a hand in a velvet glove or a juicy hot dog in a warm bun. It just felt like … home.

    Actually, it was better than home. It was like a home-away-from-home, or your coworker’s home, or anyplace where infidelity occurs when you least expect it (but what the heck were you doing there, anyway?).

    I like the urban fantasy genre. It lets me play with the supernatural side of things without being forced to focus on romance. When it comes to romance, I want to live it, not write about it! It’s kinda like that old saying about teaching: those who can, do; those who can’t, write.

    I’ve got vampires and mutated vampires (væmpires) battling for supremacy in a post-apocalyptic world. There are kings and princesses, heroes and villains, enhanced abilities and super powers, revolutionaries and terrorists, and I even threw zombies into the mix for kicks.

    Let me bring this train to a close with a few words of caution: even meeting the genre rules doesn’t guarantee you’ll do well. I had a person refuse to finish reading my book because he/she objected to one cuss word I used.

    One. Word!

    Can you imagine?

    Moral of the story is that you’re better off picking a genre that you like and understand than you are flying blind. So take the time to figure out where your Work in Progress falls on the genre & age labels scales.

    And the next time you hear, “Hey!! Watch where you’re putting that thing!” pay attention. It might be the voice in your head.



  • Cinematic Scenes: A Vaempires Guest Post

    Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author Nikki Jefford.

    Cinematic Scenes


    Hello everyone. I’m so excited to be Nikki’s guest today! I’m Thomas Winship, author of Væmpires: Revolution, Væmpires: White Christmas, and the upcoming Væmpires: Zombie Rising.

    Today, I’d like to speak about cinematic scenes—specifically, my cinematic scenes.

    Well, let me back up a few steps first.

    When Nikki invited me to write for her, I had no idea what to write about—a frightening admission for a writer, but one that was nevertheless true—so I asked for her assistance. She suggested cinematic scenes and I readily agreed.

    I then Googled “cinematic scenes,” because I had no idea what she was talking about.

    Another frightening admission? Perhaps. But I’d rather disappoint you with the truth than entertain you with a lie.

    Well … that’s not exactly true, but it sure sounds good, so we’ll just move along.

    I researched the topic, going through a good portion of the 74.7 million results that Google returned (“good” being shorthand for “a good five or six”) to gain a rudimentary understanding of the topic.
    Once that was achieved, I checked out the newest Makayla Maroney memes, re-watched Will Ferrell’s Trampire video, pre-ordered The Hunger Games on Blu-ray (it includes an ultra-violet digital copy!), and realized I had allowed myself to get distracted.

    Dragging myself back to the topic, I also realized that I had forgotten most of what I’d learned about cinematic scenes … but that didn’t matter—when it comes to writing, I’m used to flying blind.

    My next order of business was a self-test. Do I write cinematic scenes?

    I think I do, but I know enough not to take my word for things, so I checked with the experts. In this case, I didn’t have to look any further than to my fellow authors. Here’s what a few of my favorites had to say about Væmpires:

    “I think it would make the coolest video game in a long time. Seriously, read it and tell me that it wouldn’t kick ass as a multiplayer -or- an individual campaign game!” S.M. Boyce, author of The Grimoire Trilogy.

    “His fast-moving, cinematic story is punctuated by vivid fight scenes.” Wynne Channing, author of What Kills Me.

    “There are no lulls in this book. You catch your breath just in time for more battles.” Christie Rich, author of The Elemental Enmity series.

    And even my gracious, talented host had this to say: “Vaempires is action packed from page one. The fight scenes are some of the most descriptive I’ve ever read.”

    With feedback like that, I have no choice but to accept the fact I write cinematic scenes.

    Furthermore, readers seem to like them.

    How awesome is that?

    To anyone who’s read my books, it probably comes as no surprise that cinematic scenes are my favorite things to write. Of course, some might argue that it appears that cinematic scenes are the only things I can write … but we’ll just label them as “haters” and block them on Twitter.

    Confession: I don’t actually have any haters, but I’m excited about the prospect of having haters one day. How else will I ever be a relevant artist?

    Anyway, back to cinematic scenes. Believe it or not, a lot of work goes into creating them. I’ve got to figure out which character has the most dramatic need, what each character’s motivation is, define the core conflict …

    Actually, I don’t give a hoot about any of that. I just want two things: action and reaction.

    I visualize each scene in my head; before I write it, as I write it, and again, after I write it. Each engagement has a rhythm and flow that gets worked and reworked until it feels right as I read it. Each move is considered and weighed, accepted or rejected, based upon an ever-changing group of factors dictated by the fight (and story) itself.

    Even the dialogue is fluid. When Cassie battles Vielyn, there’s a history between them that needs to color everything and bleed through now and again. When Daniel faces an undead army that’s incapable of speech, the lack of dialogue has to be overcome.

    There is no one, formulaic, approach that I employ.

    In a fantasy, I’d have a big gymnasium connected to my office and a team of people—gymnasts, acrobats, martial artists, dancers, athletes—at my disposal for research, roleplaying, and visualization purposes.

    In the real world, I rely upon my own imagination and a lifetime of watching action movies. So far, my characters have fought with fangs and claws, so much of their action scenes are based on hand-to-hand fighting and martial arts, which are quite prevalent in the latest generation of films. Everything from The Matrix trilogies, to the Star Wars prequels, to the glut of superhero films has served as resource material.

    The introduction of humans in subsequent stories will require cinematic scenes that employ more weapons-based exchanges. It should be fun!

    Now, there are a few things I absolutely require when I’m getting into action writing mode:
    1. A few minutes to mentally prepare
    2. Rock music
    3. Sugar.

    #1. This probably speaks for itself. When I hit the point where a fight breaks out, I get excited. The adrenalin starts pumping, my mind starts running a mile a minute, and I become a bundle of energy. It’s a bit overwhelming and counterproductive. So, the first thing I do is walk away from my desk for a minute or two. I’ll get a drink, visit the restroom, or even just stare out a window, while I calm down to the point where I can actually write again.

    #2. I can only write an action scene in two environments: complete silence or while listening to rock music. The former is reserved for times when I really can’t concentrate or I’m having difficulty nailing a particular exchange down … and is rather rare (thankfully). The latter really seems to complement my writing and really helps to keep my energy level high.

    I love all kinds of music—pop, rock, and country—from the 50’s through today, but hard rock is my music of choice and the only music that can be playing when writing action. I can’t imagine writing a scene in which Daniel beheads a væmpire while Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend” is playing in the background. Give me Godsmack, The Used, or Papa Roach for the tough stuff.

    In fact, I wrote most of the final draft of Væmpires: Revolution while playing Bad City’s “Welcome To the Wasteland” on repeat. Halestorm’s “The Strange Case of …” and Vain’s “Enough Rope” provided the background music for Væmpires: Zombie Rising.

    #3. I crave sugar when I write action scenes. Peppermint Patties, orange slices, gummy bears, a five lb. bag of Domino Sugar … I don’t really discriminate when the need arises. A few weeks ago I came across some leftover Christmas candy—leftover from Christmas 2008 or so, that is—and I didn’t turn it away.

    I’m not saying it was the right thing to do … but it got the job done.

    So, there you have it, folks: some random, and rambling, thoughts on cinematic scenes. I’d like to say that I hope it was as good for you as it was for me, but that would probably be misinterpreted, which would provide fodder for the “haters.”

    Wherever they may be.




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