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Bloodroom Review

Horror writer Carl Alves gave my vampire novel a cool review, calling Bloodroom’s characters”compelling” and saying it “presents some interesting elements in vampire lore.” Thanks Carl! Check out the review and then explore Carl’s books. I’m currently enjoying his novel Blood Street on audiobook.bloodroom3D4blog


Win an Amazon Gift Card!

I need your help choosing a book cover for my upcoming novel Coffin Land, a vampire thriller with a steamy romantic subplot, set in Charleston, South Carolina in 1788. Vote for your favorite  cover idea to be entered into a random drawing for a $15 Amazon gift card. Tell me in a comment: Which cover would make you pick up the book?

Enter to win a $15 Amazon gift card by commenting on your favorite cover. Be as wordy as you want! Why do you think that one’s the winner? And which are runner-ups? Feel free to critique, but keep in mind these are rough mock-ups. Drawing date: Monday, August 24, 6 PM central.

Newidea1

Idea 1

Newidea2

Idea 2

Newidea3

Idea 3

Newidea4

Idea 4

ticoffinland7

Idea 5


Lighting Pallas: A Photoshop Trick

I recently altered some photos for a cast-of-characters animation on my site thebaddeath.com (the landing page for The Bad Death, the first in a historical trilogy and the second in the Bloodroom series of vampire novels). This blog post explains some tricks I used in Photoshop to make an image more atmospheric. First of all, meet Pallas, as pictured in the image I got from 123rf.com. Pallas is the best friend of the trilogy’s heroine, Anika. Pallas is either a victim, a predator, or both. To know for sure, read The Bad Death  😉

Once in Adobe Photoshop, I used the Apply Image feature to replace the black backdrop to an image of an outdoor setting. To learn more about this step, read my post called A Photoshop Trick for Book Marketing. After Applying the image to Pallas, I decided to change the lighting on Pallas’ image. You see the image above shows the woman in warm lighting. I wanted Pallas to look moonlit because in The Bad Death, Pallas is almost always sighted at night.

To cast a blueish moonlight glow over Pallas, I selected Image from Photoshop’s top menu, scrolled the dropdown menu to select Adjust, then chose Variations at the bottom of Adjust’s dropdown menu. The Variations pallet visually shows color adjustments. I chose “More Blue” and “More Cyan” to give Pallas a blue cast that would imply moonlight.

I wanted to make the moonlit sky more dramatic, so I copied the layer, cut out Pallas till I had only the sky on the copied layer, then used the blending feature of that layer to alter the sky. The blending feature causes the layer in question to react against the layer beneath it to produce a visual effect. If memory serves, I chose the Hard Light blending option. You can see in the third image how Pallas’ background has more contrast between highlight and shadow, resulting from my choice of blending option.

So, there you have it, boys and girls!


Thomas Jefferson, Single Parent

Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence and 3rd President may have also been our nation’s 1st hot dad (DILF?). When his young wife died; the grief-stricken man had infant Lucy, four-year old Polly, and 10-year old Patsy to raise. Due to a deathbed promise to never remarry, he remained a single parent. Lucy died in childhood. Jefferson, Polly, and Patsy clung tenaciously to each other and, though more often separated than not, remained in constant contact through letters. Jefferson set standards for his girls in education and deportment that were unusual in his day and appear impossible and unhealthy in ours. I give you a few parenting rules from Thomas Jefferson, with tongue in cheek:

No Casual Friday: Jefferson instructed Patsy in one letter, “Be you from the moment you rise till you go to bed as cleanly and properly dressed as at the hours of dinner or tea. A lady who has been seen as a sloven or slut in the morning, will never efface that impression …” Ouch!

Sources Cited Below Post

No Downtime: Here’s a typical study schedule:

  • From 8. to 10 o’clock practice music.
  • From 10. to 1 dance one day and draw another
  • From 1. to 2. draw on the day you dance, and write a letter the next day.
  • From 3. to 4. read French.
  • From 4. to 5. exercise yourself in music.
  • From 5. till bedtime read English, write & c.

 

Of Course, I’ll Always Love You, If Jefferson’s instructions were at times given as a road map to his heart. In a letter to Patsy, he wrote, “I have placed my happiness on seeing you good and accomplished, and no distress which this world can now bring on me can equal that of your disappointing my hopes …Keep my letters and read them at times that you may always have present in your mind those things which will endear you to me.”

It Ain’t Just a River in Egypt: What illegitimate children? What mistress? When Patsy and Polly lived at Monticello as young adults, it can’t have gone unnoticed that his unmarried slave woman, Sally Hemings, only got pregnant when their father was home from Washington. The illicit relationship was never acknowledged. When it became a national scandal, the Queens of Denial visited Jefferson in Washington to provide a united family front.

As women, each developed her own way of resisting their father’s demands. Patsy blamed kids and a troublesome husband for her lack of free time, and pointed to Lucy as being way more behind than she in keeping the pace. Polly seems to have adopted the slacker role to her advantage, basically throwing up her hands and saying, ‘I know, I’m so lazy!’ But there can be no doubt that the three of them were crazy about each other.

I thought it would be fun to create a similar relationship between The Bad Death’s Julian Mouret and his much younger sister, Charlotte. She was three years old when their father died and left the fifteen year old Julian as man of the house (and therefore, its legal head). Raising a child to be the Ideal requires you to embody that Ideal, yourself. By the time we meet them in The Bad Death, Julian has achieved this. But what happens when the Ideal “parent” falls from grace? We’ll see in the next novel, House of the Apparently Dead.

Sources: The Women Jefferson Loved by Virginia Scharff; The Family Letters of Thomas Jefferson edited by Edwin Betts and James Bear, Jr.; Thomas Jefferson, An Intimate History by Fawn Brodie.


A Photoshop Trick for Book Marketing

I have cast-of-character strips on my book web pages, bloodroomthenovel.com and thebaddeath.com. They give potential readers a chance to read bios of major characters. Also, the individual images give me visual aids to use in marketing my books. For instance, I’ll post an individual character on Instagram with a provocative tagline and the web addy. Adobe offers a monthly subscription for Photoshop for less than $20/month, but you could probably find a good price on eBay or somewhere if you want to own it outright. 

At left, you’ll see the image I purchased at istockphoto.com has a dark background. Derek Murphy of Creativeindie Covers used this graphic to produce the cover for The Bad Death. At the time, I didn’t have a large file of Derek’s work. I used a jpeg of the cover in progress, pictured right. To change the model’s brown eyes to my heroine’s gold, I used Photoshop’s marquee tool to select the gold eyes from Derek’s small file and copied them into my large file, resizing them to fit my stock image.

 Then I had to give my Anika the background Derek had. I have a graphic design background, but this trick is easy if you know where Photoshop’s interface keeps the right tools. 

Since I also bought the blue watery background from istockphoto, I had that large Photoshop image to work with. I opened that image in Photoshop and copied into my  working file. Copying into my working file automatically put the background on its own layer. On Anika’s layer, I used Photoshop’s pen tool to draw a path around her. See that thin light outline? That’s the path.

When you click on the arrow in the Paths palette, a dropdown menu gives you the option to “Make Selection” of the path.

With the path selected, I clicked on Image in Photoshop’s top menu. From the Image dropdown menu, I chose “Apply Image”. At that point a palette popped up allowing me to select the layer containing the background. 

 TaDOW!

 


Winner Announced in Goodreads Giveaway

Martin Turner won an autographed print copy of The Bad Death. When I host a Goodreads Giveaway, I note with interest the distance of  the entrants from my home on the Redneck Riviera. Today, I’m almost ridiculously psyched to send my novel to the quaintly named area of Bexhill on Sea in England.

If you’re not Martin Turner, don’t despair. You can buy an autographed e-book of The Bad Death (and my other books, too) from Authorgraph, for no more $ than you’d pay Amazon for the non-autographed copy. You’re welcome 😉


Win an Autographed Print Edition of The Bad Death

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Bad Death by Naima Haviland

The Bad Death

by Naima Haviland

Giveaway ends September 05, 2013.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win


Ballet, Then and Now

Ballet figures largely in my novels. Bloodroom, a twisted romance set in today’s Charleston, stars a vampire named Julian who’s obsessed with a ballerina. The Bad Death, a vampire novel set in 18th century South Carolina, stars a slave named Anika who’s possessed by the spirit of a modern ballerina. In The Bad Death, Julian is nonplussed (to say the least) when his field hand starts dancing like a prima ballerina and displaying some diva ‘tude. Taking a writerly grand jeté through time required a ballet history lesson.

Under possession by the modern ballerina’s spirit, Anika’s movements look exaggerated to Julian’s 18th century eyes. Today’s “flexerina” had more in common with that century’s acrobatic grotteschi in the lower brow commedia dell’arte, as described in Jennifer Homans’ comprehensive Apollo’s Angels. Compare 18th century prima ballerina La Carmago’s arabesque to the modern version, right.

Anika had to dance demi-pointe (on the balls of her feet) because in The Bad Death’s setting of 1788, pointe shoes weren’t invented yet. Ballerinas wouldn’t dance en pointe until Marie Taglioni perfected the art of dancing on the metatarsals of her toes (like the “neck”, not quite the tip, of the toe). She was aided by extra stitching that stiffened the forward soles of her tight, soft satin slippers. Compare the old style of slippers with today’s pointe shoes, below.

I borrowed the left-side image from a student’s terrific wiki-history of Marie Taglioni’s impact. And see a signed pair of Miss Taglioni’s actual slippers in an image that I was too cheap to pay for here.

Ballet Evolved is a wonderful series of ballet history lessons in dance, featuring ballerinas from London’s Royal Opera House. In this one, Ballet Mistress Ursula Hargeli leads four ballerinas in demonstrating innovations in dance through the centuries. In baroque costume, Ms. Hargeli demonstrates that era’s style of plié, pirouette, and port de bras. It’s amusing to see the ballerinas, each at the top of her game in modern ballet, attempt these deceptively simple steps from the distant past.


Frenemies in The Bad Death

Charlotte, Jane Eliza, Eugénie

Oh, the complicated nature of female friendships. One’s a murderess. One’s using black magic to get pregnant. One’s the product of her big brother’s OCD. They’re besties as long as no one tries to best the others. Each has a unique relationship to Anika, the plat-eye slaying heroine of The Bad Death. Here’s a short bio on each.

Charlotte Mouret – As close to perfect as Julian could make her, Charlotte was educated in a schedule that never left time for idle (or independent) thought and married off at seventeen to the family’s financial manager. Though Julian assures her their field hand is an idiot savant, Charlotte suspects there’s something unnatural in Anika’s sudden talents.

Jane Eliza Farmington – Cherished daughter of a retired slaver. Society beauty. Poisoner. All magic that turns a profit is good magic, and Jane Eliza’s murders are just business. As a witch doctor’s delivery girl, Anika must avoid becoming a toy in Jane Eliza’s deadly games.

Eugénie Mouret – Julian’s sister-in-law knows full well the power of magic. She’ll pay any price for the charms that guarantee a pregnancy. Anika promised her a son destined for power. But if the magic works, who — or what — will live in Eugénie’s womb?


Win a $25 Amazon Gift Card

I’m trying to decide which book description to use with my historical vampire novel, The Bad Death. Help me out. Vote by leaving a comment on this blog and note it on the Rafflecopter form below to be entered in a raffle to win a $25 Amazon gift card. You can cast more entries by tweeting or posting about the contest on Facebook. The contest is international and runs from Monday, July 29 12:01 AM to Monday, August 5 midnight EST.

The Bad Death is a violent adventure with a kick-ass heroine and a steamy romantic subplot. So, if you were browsing and you picked up a copy, which of these would prompt you to buy the book?

Option A:

Passion rules the heart and terror rules the night…

South Carolina, 1788. The beautiful black woman emerging from his family crypt is a stranger to Julian Mouret, the refined owner of Lion’s Court plantation. A dancer and a mystery, she spins a strange, dark, and impossible tale of peril and flight. Though he fears she must surely be mad, the handsome slave owner is soon himself a slave, lost to the seductions of this enchantress called Anika and determined to lead her North to safety.

But there can be no safe haven for Julian or the exquisite Gullah girl who has bewitched him, not while monsters roam the night. A series of horrifying mutilation murders screams of the presence of “plat-eyes”—shape-shifting blood-sucking supernatural creatures feeding at will on the plantation workers—and only Anika can end the rampage. But to face the vampire horde she will have to master the darkness within. And the price of victory in the battle ahead may well be the eternal soul of the man she is coming to love.

Option B:

Can she defeat supernatural horror in a world overrun by human evil?

It is 1788 in South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Planters have fled the feverish climate, leaving vast estates in the care of Gullah slaves. Julian Mouret is the one planter who didn’t leave, but how could he foresee the mortal consequence of a stranger’s embrace?

An African beauty emerges from the family crypt and shatters Julian’s isolation with a kiss. How she came to be in the crypt – and the unseen creatures that emerged with her – are mysteries that transcend time.

Anika has the strength and spirit to sustain her through a lifetime of slavery on Mouret plantations, but magic is about to overturn the laws of man and nature.

As a rising tide of brutal killings overwhelm the Lowcountry, Anika suspects shapeshifting creatures of legend known as plat-eyes. She, alone, holds the key to stopping their bloody rampage. But Julian Mouret, a man of science who scorns superstition, will block her at the risk of her life and his soul.

Which one?

Instructions to enter the raffle: First, leave a comment. Then, use the form to mark that you left a comment (this enters your name in the raffle). To increase your odds of winning, use the form to tweet and post about the raffle (you can even tweet and post each day to super-increase your chances of winning). The winner is chosen randomly by Rafflecopter. Thanks for playing!

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