Friday, May 30, 2014

Marketing Tools: My Wattpad Experience

Over at the #NALitChat on Twitter (Thursdays, 9pm EST), we've been talking a lot about marketing. And one subject that has come up a lot is Wattpad and discussion about what kind of marketing tool it is. There are lots of success stories of authors gaining popularity there and selling tons of books--sometimes even getting publishing contracts like Abigail Gibbs who landed a six figure publishing deal for her vampire novel. But like all forms of marketing, these success stories don't spell out a guarantee for other authors. The big question seems to be this: Is Wattpad worth it?

Short answer from me? Yes.

I posted an older version of my first book Heirs of War on Wattpad last summer, and the book was featured in September, just a month before the release of the published version (read: the version that had an editor). The people at Wattpad were great. I originally had the book listed as Adult (it's actually New Adult, but there isn't a category for that) but they suggested I switch it to Teen in order to reach a larger audience. The promotion they gave the book was stellar--they posted a "Cover Off" for readers to choose between two covers (which ultimately helped me decide) and posted about it on Facebook and Twitter.

Eight months later, my book is still ranking on their lists. It's currently #146 for Fantasy with over 800k reads. (Quick explanation: The amount of reads you have is actually a total of every chapter. For me, Chapter 1 has almost 600k reads, but Chapter 25 has almost 10k. So I think around 10k people have finished the book.) I have 2k followers on there and am constantly getting new ones. People are still commenting on the book, and I love getting to see what they think of specific parts.

Now, the big question a lot of authors might have for Wattpad is whether or not it will help drive sales. I can't really say until the second book comes out this summer (though I will be sure to post an update), but I can try to answer some of the questions I've seen about Wattpad based on my experience.

If you post your book for free on Wattpad, won't you lose sales? 
Mmmm....yes and no. On the one hand, if you have the book for free, then why will people buy it? But some people will. The great thing about Wattpad is that there are loyal readers there. You give them something, and they are going to give back and continue to follow you. One on one interaction is key in building strong reader-writer relationships, and Wattpad is the perfect place for that. And Wattpad has put my book in front of an audience I might not have been able to reach otherwise as a debut author.

But won't people expect you to post all of your books for free on there too? Especially if it is a series?
Again, there's some truth to this. First of all, your book might not be available to every country that Wattpad can reach. I've had quite a few readers from the Philippines and Africa who have told me that they can't find the book for sale in their areas. So what do I do? I ask them to tell me who they shop through, and assure them that I will do everything I can do get my book out there. Recently, this meant expanding my distribution to Google Play, which is something that hadn't occurred to me before.

That being said, there's a negative side to this as well because *some* people will get mad that you aren't offering your other books for free. I've had maybe a handful of people get snotty with me when they found out the second book won't be available in its entirety on Wattpad. And that's after I explained in my FAQs that I have an editor and a cover artist I need to pay (and those little things called bills that adults have to deal with). But those people are few and far between, even if they are quite loud. More often than not, I have people telling me how excited they are to buy the next book or promising to buy everything I write for the rest of time. Will all of those people follow through? Probably not, but the support still means something.

Isn't Wattpad a huge time commitment? I'm already on every form of social media known to man.
I guess it can be, depending on how you use it. It isn't for me, but I skipped a lot of the audience building by having my book featured. If you are doing a serial, then it can be more time consuming as you try to engage readers in the "clubs" (forums) and leave reviews for other works in hopes that the author will return the favor. I haven't had experience with this side of Wattpad since I skipped ahead with getting featured. I do take some time with it, but much less than with other forms of social media. I try to respond to every message and comment I get, and some days they add up more than others. But I wouldn't call it a huge time commitment. It's honestly one of the best parts for me. I love seeing what people have to say and answering their questions and theories about my series.

Isn't Wattpad just another place to post fanfiction?
Yes, but there's a lot more to it than that. With big name authors who have best sellers under their belts like Kevin J Anderson, Margaret Atwood, Kim Harrison, and Jessica Sorensen (just to name a few) joining in and featuring their works there, it's hard not to see the benefits of Wattpad. Brandon Sanderson's WarBreaker was featured the same week as Heirs of War. Is there fanfiction on Wattpad? Yes. After all, fanfiction is where some authors (like me) start. Are there original works on Wattpad that will make you cringe to read? Yes. Heck, the version of Heirs of War that is on Wattpad is enough to make any professional writer cringe. But as the Wattpad site and community continue to grow, so does the level of professionalism that might be seen on there.

If I'm not using Wattpad to drive sales, then what is the point?
To connect with readers! Thanks to Wattpad, Heirs of War has been embraced by readers all over the world, and I've been able to connect directly with those readers. And I continue to engage them with things like my Fan Favorites Contest and Shipping Wars, where they vote for their favorite character or relationship and are entered to win a chance to appear in an extra scene or write a scene with me. I get a lot of requests to read people's stories on there or to cowrite, so getting a chance to work with a reader is great. I hate having to say no, but realistically I have to because there just isn't enough time in the day. But contests like this allow me to still get that opportunity, which is so rewarding. I've also posted preview chapters for the second book and will be using Wattpad to post deleted and extra scenes for the entire series. I might not be able to give the readers all of my books for free, but I can do my best to give them as much as possible as a thank you for their enthusiasm and support.

The bottom line is this: Word of mouth is essential for authors. While Wattpad reads don't necessarily equate to sales for everyone, what it does mean is that you are reaching more people and building direct relationships with those readers. And they'll remember that. To me, those relationships are the best marketing tool you can have. You might not reach a million followers like some of the other success stories, but that doesn't mean the ones you do gain don't matter. They do, and I think it will pay off in the long run.

What are your thoughts on Wattpad? Do you have questions about it I didn't cover? Let me know! I'm always happy to help.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Soap Box I Stand On

Let me preface this by saying that if you know me, you know that I work very hard to live in a very naive bubble in life. One where hate doesn't exist on such a violent scale and where all people are treated equal regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, skin color, or socioeconomic background. See? Pretty damn naive. Especially given the topic of conversation lately.

If you've been living under a rock (or in a naive bubble), you might not have heard about the Isla Vista attacks, where a very disturbed young man who espoused his hatred not just for women, but for everyone living a better life than him, went on a killing spree, taking the lives of six people and wounding 13 others. As a result of his misogynistic rants about women, the conversation #YesAllWomen began on Twitter and across social media, outlining the daily struggle women have against gender inequality.

First, I'd like to say that I do think that this conversation needs to be had. Women deal with sexism every day. Just like homosexuals deal with homophobia. Just like people of pretty much any skin color deal with racism. Just like poor people and rich people alike deal with socioeconomic prejudices. It's all disheartening and sickening to see these daily struggles laid out. It's enraging. Something needs to be done.

But is this tragedy really the platform on which to do it? I feel like this horrible occurrence--one where men and women alike were targeted by hate and killed--is being overshadowed by this hashtag. And moreover, I feel like it is the wrong hashtag to associate with this event. This didn't happen because our society encourages gender inequality. This happened because our society encourages hate. See someone driving a nicer car than you? Mommy and Daddy must have bought it for them. See a person using foodstamps in the grocery store? They must be lazy pieces of shit that do nothing to contribute to society. See a black kid in a hoody walking in your neighborhood? Better shoot them before they shoot you.

Our society today, especially with the internet allowing us to be so heavily involved in one another's lives and the lives of people we don't even know like celebrities, encourages that jealous spark of hatred. That sense of entitlement. You might not want other people to have access to things like free healthcare, foodstamps, and financial aid for college, but if you get laid off and can't find a job no matter how hard you try? Well, you must be the exception to the rule. You are different and better.

But that's the thing we need to address--this idea that one person can be better than another. That one person deserves more than the other for whatever reason--gender, education, socioeconomic backgrounds, skin color, religion, political views, sexual orientation, etc. The list goes on and on. Until we ALL start looking at one another as human beings deserving of the same thing, then these problems will continue.

I'm not trying to diminish what people (yes, people--it's very encouraging to see men speaking up with this hashtag too) are saying with #YesAllWomen. These are real problems that real women face every day. But instead of focusing on the symptoms, I'd like to see us start a real conversation about the disease: Hate. Because that's what it all boils down to. Whether someone is sexist, racist, homophobic, what have you, the root cause is hate. These are all problems that add up to a larger whole, and until we address that in our society, it is never going to change.

Now if you will excuse me, I am going to step off of my soap box and back into my naive bubble.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review & Giveaway: Five Stars to Thereafter by Terri Bruce

About the Book:
Nothing in life is free. Turns out, nothing in the afterlife is, either.

When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.

Boy, was she wrong.

She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.

As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.

Purchase Links: Amazon  Barnes & Noble

About the Author:

Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.

Website/Blog: http://www.terribruce.net
Goodreads Profile: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450132.Terri_Bruce
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Terri-Bruce-Fan-Page/325830544139030
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@_TerriBruce
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/terribruce

My Review:
Five out of Five Stargates: Out of this world!

I am so glad I stuck with this series. I've gone from hating Irene Dunphy to adoring her. And I have to say that one of the best things about this series is the character exploration. Just as Irene is peeling back the different layers of the after life, the after life is peeling back the rough layers of Irene. She's stripping away all of the baggage and we get to see her for who she truly is--an incredibly stubborn woman who loves so big and has such a huge heart that she is terrified of using it.

After Irene goes down the tunnel, she finds herself in a city with a strange cat guiding her. The cat leads her to the forest, where she gets rescued from the Hungry Dead by Andras, a knight who died 800 years ago. The Hungry Dead are exactly that--dead that are starving for memories. Irene's ability to sympathize with them once she understands them is so telling. She also comes across a flirtatious cowboy named Ian, and long story short (without giving away too much), the three unlikely companions set off trying to find a way to cross the river.

Andras is such a great character, and I love the parallels he has to Jonah. That says good things about him. Those two really represent that inner voice deep inside Irene that is telling her who she wants to be and who she really is. Ian, while fun, is more of a representation of who Irene let herself become while she was alive. Watching her interact with them is like watching her go at war with the two parts of herself that have been battling this whole time--the part that wants to go back to her shallow existence that gave off appearances of being happy, and the part that wants to be better and wants to do more.

This book is well-written, well thought out, clever, and the most intriguing exploration of the layers of a person that I've ever read. While I might be worried for Jonah in the next book, I have faith that the Acorn will once again come through.

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Reading Wrap Up: Review & Giveaway for Hereafter by Terri Bruce

I was lucky enough to receive a copy of Hereafter by Terri Bruce to review for the tour of Thereafter, the second book in the Afterlife series. Just to preview my review: This series is definitely one I would recommend sticking with. I'm already on the second book, and have purchased them both to add to my collection officially. Before I get to my review, let me fill you in on the books and the author, and then stick around to learn how you can win one of two $50 Amazon gift cards or a signed copy of the book!

About the Books:
Afterlife Book 1
Terri Bruce

Why let a little thing like dying get in the way of a good time?

Thirty-six-year-old Irene Dunphy didn't plan on dying any time soon, but that’s exactly what happens when she makes the mistake of getting behind the wheel after a night bar-hopping with friends. She finds herself stranded on earth as a ghost, where the food has no taste, the alcohol doesn’t get you drunk, and the sex...well, let’s just say “don’t bother.” To make matters worse, the only person who can see her—courtesy of a book he found in his school library—is a fourteen-year-old boy genius obsessed with the afterlife.

Unfortunately, what waits in the Great Beyond isn’t much better. Stuck between the boring life of a ghost in this world and the terrifying prospect of three-headed hell hounds, final judgment, and eternal torment in the next, Irene sets out to find a third option—preferably one that involves not being dead anymore. Can she wipe the slate clean and get a second chance before it’s too late?

Afterlife Book 2
Terri Bruce

Genre: Contemporary fantasy/paranormal
Publisher: Mictlan Press
Date of Publication: May 1, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-9913036-2-5 (print) /
ISBN: 978-0-9913036-3-2 (ebook)
Number of pages: 318
Word Count: 99,000

Cover Artist: Artwork by Shelby Robinson;
cover layout by Jennifer Stolzer

Book Description:

When recently-deceased Irene Dunphy decided to “follow the light,” she thought she’d end up in Heaven or Hell and her journey would be over.

Boy, was she wrong.

She soon finds that “the other side” isn’t a final destination but a kind of purgatory where billions of spirits are stuck, with no way to move forward or back. Even worse, deranged phantoms known as “Hungry Ghosts” stalk the dead, intent on destroying them. The only way out is for Irene to forget her life on earth—including the boy who risked everything to help her cross over—which she’s not about to do.

As Irene desperately searches for an alternative, help unexpectedly comes in the unlikeliest of forms: a twelfth-century Spanish knight and a nineteenth-century American cowboy. Even more surprising, one offers a chance for redemption; the other, love. Unfortunately, she won’t be able to have either if she can’t find a way to escape the hellish limbo where they’re all trapped.

Author’s Note:

I am THRILLED beyond all measure to finally be able to bring you Thereafter, and I want to thank all the fans who have waited (more or less patiently) an extra year for this book to finally come out. Thereafter would not have been possible without your support—thank you all! I hope you love this beautiful new cover as much as I do, and I hope you find Thereafter to be worth the wait.

About the Author:

Terri Bruce has been making up adventure stories for as long as she can remember. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats.

Website/Blog: http://www.terribruce.net
Goodreads Profile: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6450132.Terri_Bruce
Facebook Fan Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Terri-Bruce-Fan-Page/325830544139030
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@_TerriBruce
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/author/terribruce

My Review:
Four out of Five Stargates: Definitely worth the read!
Irene Dunphy is a huge pain. But...she's worth the patience.

Hereafter is definitely not your typical book about ghosts and the after life. There's no choir of angels, and Irene is the type of person that would probably mock them if they appeared. She's spent her life basically flailing about--a job that means nothing to her, surface friendships, and resentful of the mother that she has to assist. Her poor judgment calls are what ultimately lead to her death after having one too many out with the girls and driving home drunk. In fact, it's hard to have any sympathy for this woman whatsoever.

But then she meets Jonah, a fourteen year old boy who has found a way to straddle the line between the living and the dead. Something about how this boy sees her makes her a little bit more tolerable. She's terrible to him, and yet he keeps coming back. And that pulls you in.

The book seemed very well researched, and I was fascinated to get the random factoids about the afterlife in other cultures from Jonah. I also loved watching these two grow together. In the beginning, Irene was selfish and vapid even, but she starts to really care about Jonah and want to protect him. He forced the caring adult out of her. And in the beginning, Jonah just put up with everything she dished out. It really made you wonder how much he put up with in his life since he was probably bully-bait at school. But Irene's confidence began to rub off on him, and in the end she forced him to have a backbone. I cheered when he smashed the bottle because you just knew that he had been wanting to do that for a while.

What's beautiful about this story is that Irene is so unlikeable and real that the growth she encounters after dying is made all the sweeter. Her path is ugly and rocky and raw at times, and I really have to give Terri Bruce credit for that. By the end, I was crying alongside Jonah and Irene, and I really hope we haven't seen the last of Jonah.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Thursday Takeover: Sharon Bayliss Tells Us What's Next for the December People Series

Have I told you guys lately how much I adore Sharon Bayliss and her series, The December People? No? Well, I do. I'm really anxious to read the next book and see what is ahead. Luckily, Sharon is stopping by today to give us some hints about what is to come in the hopes of tiding us over until the next book.

(And yes, this is going to backfire on her and I am probably going to hound her even more about the series, but who doesn't love teasers?) Take it away, Sharon!

My recently released novel, Destruction is Book One in The December People Series. I don't want to giveaway too much, but I do get a lot of questions about what comes next in the series, so here are a few key facts:

  • The December People Series will have four books, one for each season.
  • Book 2 is tentatively scheduled to release this fall, and will be the summer book.
  • Book 3 is spring and Book 4 is fall.
  • I have plotted out all the major plot points in all the books, but I expect the characters to make unauthorized plot changes.
  • Book 2 is finished and being edited. I'm currently writing Book 3.
  • Book 2 takes place the summer after Book 1, a little less than a year later.
  • In Book 2, David and Patrick are still major characters, but Emmy also becomes a major character and much of the book is in her POV.
  • In Book 2, we meet another wizard family--the Prescotts, a summer wizard family that are sort of like the "bizarro Vandergraffs."
  • More time (story time...not time between releases ;)) passes between each book than I think is common for a series. I do this to allow time for character and relationship development, especially to allow time for the younger characters to age up and develop and change. Also, I do it for realism. I mean, how much crap can happen to one family in one year? ;) They would explode if I did that to them! The whole series will cover about 4 years.
  • This passage of time makes the kids feel like my own. In book 3, Patrick is filling out college applications, and it freaks me out that the kids have grown up so fast. And, they're not even real... lol
  • Throughout the series, there will be death, and new life.
  • I'm not an overly emotional person, but just thinking about what will happen in Book 4 makes me cry.
Hopefully, that's enough to simultaneously satisfy and torture some of my readers. :) If you're new to the series, check out book one!


Introducing a new dark wizard family drama, Destruction by Sharon Bayliss, Book One in The December People Series.

An independent family-owned bookstore. The ONLY place to buy signed copies!</ div>

A locally owned book store in Austin, Texas.

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without. 

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children.  

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Destruction (Book One of 

The December People Series)

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The Author

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening). She only practices magic in emergencies.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Forever Kinda Love by Clara Stone

Title: Forever Kinda Love Author: Clara Stone Release date: August 15th, 2014 Genre: Contemporary Romance Age Group: Mature Young Adult Cover Design: Regina Wamba at Mae I Design & Photography
Ebook will be available at: Kindle | Nook | Kobo |Smashwords |Paperback


Life’s. Little. Surprises.

The last thing seven-year-old Carrigan "Ace" Casper foresaw was an eight- year-old Heath Lovelly walking into her life the day her mother died. From that moment on, Heath sticks by her side, slowly becoming her strength, her confidant, and her entire world. What she doesn’t know is, she's his saving grace, too. 

Ten years later, Ace is handed another crippling challenge that threatens everything in her almost perfect life. Only, this time, she doesn't turn to Heath, hiding the truth instead. But Heath knows Ace too well and won't back down easily. He's ready to do whatever it takes and will stay by her side until she accepts that their love is the kinda love worth fighting for. Will he be her forever triumph or her unexpected downfall? 

Two lives. One story. And an unexpected journey to falling in love. 

About the Author:

Priya Kanaparti lives in the beautiful city of Boise, ID. Unlike what most believe about Idaho, it’s more than a sack full of potatoes. When she’s not writing, you’ll catch Priya reading YA and NA books, mostly romance, and enjoying time with her family. She is a proud CW TV addict. She also write Mature YA and New Adult romance under the name Clara Stone. She is published through Reuts Publications.

Facebook | Twitter | Blog | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Thursday Takeover: Character Interview with Betty Bright from Dead Man's Drive by Michael Panush

It's Takeover Thursday, and today Betty Bright from Michael Panush's Dead Man's Drive is stopping by to answer some hard questions and tell us about working at Donovan Motors--and going up against the biggest baddy in La Cruz!

About the Book:
La Cruz looks like an average Southern California small town in the 1950s Post-War Boom, but it has some dark secrets - and its guardians. They are the supernaturally adept drivers of Donovan Motors, including former Okie bank robber Wooster Stokes, Zoot Suiter and part time shaman Angel Rey, college girl and burgeoning sorceress Betty Bright and --their latest member -- an amnesiac zombie known only as Roscoe. The drivers stand between La Cruz and chaos with only their wits and some fast hot rods to help them hold back the darkness. But an onslaught of demonic attacks heralds a new danger. Reed Strickland, a ruthless tycoon with unholy assistance, seems intent on making La Cruz his. Only Roscoe and the drivers can stop him. But Strickland's allies stir painful memories in Roscoe and even an undead gearhead is no match for his own past. Roscoe will need to overcome his memories, stand with his friends and keep his motor as the battle for La Cruz begins in a tale of white hot vehicular action, arcane Noir, and Hollywood horror that reveals the rotten heart of California's Golden Age.

Buy it on Amazon or add it to Goodreads

About the Author:

Twenty-Four years old, Michael Panush has distinguished himself as one of Sacramento's most promising young writers. Michael has published numerous short stories in a variety of e-zines including: AuroraWolf, Demon Minds, Fantastic Horror, Dark Fire Fiction, Aphelion, Horrorbound, Fantasy Gazetteer, Demonic Tome, Tiny Globule, and Defenestration. He published his first novel, Clark Reeper Tales, for his high school senior project. A graduate of UC Santa Cruz, Michael currently serves as a City Year Corps Member at Rosa Parks Middle School. His books with Curiosity Quills include The Stein and Candle Detective Agency, Volume 1: American Nightmares, Volume 2: Cold Wars, and Volume 3: Red Reunion, all featuring a pair of occult detectives in the 1950s, Dinosaur Jazz-- where The Great Gatsby meets Jurassic Park -- a story about a Lost World battling against the forces of modernization; and El Mosaico, Volume 1: Scarred Souls and Volume 2: The Road to Hellfire, a Western about a bounty hunter whose body was assembled from the remains of dead Civil War soldiers and brought to life by mad science. Dinosaur Dust and El Mosaico, Volume 3: Hellfire are expected to be released soon.

Read excerpts from his work, or you can follow his blog and follow him on Twitter.

Michael began telling stories when he was only nine years old. He won first place in the Sacramento Storyteller's Guild "Liar's Contest" in 2002 and was a finalist in the National Youth Storytelling Olympics in 2003.

In 2007, Michael was selected as a California Art's Scholar and attended the Innerspark Summer Writing Program at the CalArts Institute. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in 2008 and currently attends UC Santa Cruz.

Interview With Betty Bright

Hello, Betty! Nice to meet you. Why don't you tell us a bit about yourself to get us started?

Um, let's see – my name's Elizabeth Bright, but my friends call me Betty. I live in La Cruz, California, a small town a little south of Los Angeles. My father's Professor Horace Bright. He teaches folklore classes at UCLA, which is also where I go. I'm majoring in folklore as well, actually. It's very helpful for my current job with Donovan Motors. What's also helpful is my passion for cars. I've been tinkering with engines my whole life. During the war, when I was a little girl, you had women working in factories, playing with machines, and having real power. I never fit in too well in suburban La Cruz, so that seemed like a fine escape. Now, knowledge of folklore and skill with cars comes in handy for working at Donovan Motors. Our job is protecting La Cruz from ghosts, monsters, demons, and everything else that goes bump in the night. 

Motors help with that – and so does magic. 

How did you get involved with Donovan Motors?

Well, I've always known about Donovan Motors. Everyone in La Cruz does. The people working for the Captain – he's the guy who owns Donovan Motors – are always spoken about in hushed whispers. La Cruz is a pretty square sort of town, so the drivers operating out of Donovan Motors sort of stick out. That's fine with me, of course, as I've never exactly fit in. But how exactly did I get started? Well, it involved a vampire attack in my senior year in high school. A bunch of European vampires tried setting up a base of operations in an old mansion in Redborough. That's the countryside around La Cruz. I nearly got my blood drained, but my skill with automobiles and my knowledge of vampire lore helped me survive. The Captain found out about it and offered me a job. 

What can you tell us about your coworkers? 

There's the Captain – he's the boss, though. He's a very quiet sort of man. Reserved, I guess. He was a veteran of World War One and supervised America's occult defense programs during World War Two. But he's a good man, even if he's a little button-down. There's Wooster Stokes. He's an Okie who became a big time bank robber during the Great Depression. Wooster's a nice fellow, but he's a bigot and can be a real jerk at times. He is a master at using a Tommy gun, though. Angel Rey is much nicer. He was a kid during the Zoot Suit Riots, in Los Angeles during the War. They didn't get reported in the papers much, but the US Navy and the LAPD pretty much declared war on anyone with brown skin. It got pretty brutal and poor Angel has that in his past. He's a great driver and his mother was the neighborhood shaman. There's also Roscoe – the newest member of the drivers. Roscoe's a zombie – a living dead guy with no memory. Angel actually ran into Roscoe while he was shambling down a road. Roscoe may look a little weird, but he's a really great guy. He's an ace with a car and with a gun – especially the sawed-off shotgun he uses. He struggles with not knowing his past. I think he's afraid of it. 

What is your work environment like? 

Donovan Motors does operate as a legitimate garage. We take in cars from La Cruz and repair them. That's just a front, though. The real business is that we get requests for help, either from the sheriff or the Captain's government contacts, or local folks, and we try to help. That means dealing with things like haunted internment camps, infestations of fish monsters along the coast, demonic biker gangs, and more. For extra cash, we sometimes moonlight as stunt drivers for Hollywood b-movies – pretty exciting stuff, even if the movies are strictly garbage. Donovan Motors has a few apartments behind the garage where we stay and there's a kitchen and everything. I guess we're kind of like a family. 

I understand that you are a burgeoning sorceress. How did you get started as a sorceress? Was it something you discovered on your own or are you continuing a family tradition of practicing?

Oh, I'm strictly an amateur – the magic is all from books. My father's an expert at magic, but from a very academic angle. I started that way as well, but once I started working at Donovan Motors, I realized that I could use magic to really help people. There's no witches in my family, as far as I know. 

You also attend college. How do you balance your work obligations with things like finals?

Oh, my classes tie very nicely into my work. We'll be studying golems in class one day, for instance, and then get called up to deal with a golem in Glendale. Finding time to study is pretty tough, but I've got practical experience with the occult due to my job. That's not something that a lot of my classmates can say. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Boy, that's a tough question. I can't tell where I won't be – slaving over a stove in one of La Cruz's many suburban homes, with a couple kids playing in the next room and a husband coming home from work in the big city. That's what most girls in La Cruz are expected to do. Being a housewife just doesn't appeal to me. Even when I was a little girl, I'd rather play with engines than dolls. That sort of made me an outcast in La Cruz. I guess it would be the same anywhere in America – and it's the same for everyone who works in Donovan Motors. Washed-up bank robber, Mexican Pachuco shamans, and gearhead zombies just don't fit into larger American society. Luckily, we have each other. I think I'll be working at Donovan Motors in five years, if I don't go into the occult business for myself. 

Who is your favorite coworker and why?

Another tough question – but it's got to be Felix Tannenbaum. Felix isn't really a coworker, though. He's the Captain's adopted son, a little fellow who is only thirteen-years-old. Felix's parents were big name scientists in Germany, and the Nazis captured them during the War. They were Jewish, you see. I've bet you've read the new and don't need me to tell you the kinds of things they faced. Those Nazis made Felix and his folks work for them. The Captain found out about it and arranged a rescue – but it was too late for Felix's parents. Then the State Department snapped up Felix and put him to work in its own top secret occult warfare programs. Pretty terrible, huh? The Captain put a stop to that, pulling Felix out and adopting him. Since then, he's been Donovan Motors' own miniature mad scientist. He's smart as a whip and has a lot of practical experience with the occult. Also, he's got a wonderful mix of dignified, old world manners and adolescent nervousness. He likes me a lot and he looks up to Roscoe. I guess he's part of the family now. 

What is one of the oddest jobs you’ve had before Donovan Motors?

Sorry, but I really haven't had any jobs before joining up with Donovan Motors. I signed up my senior year of High School and never looked back. I did a few summer jobs here and there, but nothing compares to my current job. 

You and your coworkers are going up against a very wealthy and powerful man. What motivates you to fight Reed Strickland? 

I guess I could get in trouble for saying this – my father's been accused of being a Fellow Traveler, you know – but Strickland is a businessman and I don't trust businessmen. You know the kinds of things that the owners of the orange groves around La Cruz do to their workers when the poor fellows try to unionize? It's not pretty. If that makes me Red, then so be it. Anyway, Strickland's been around for a long time. He built himself up during the Depression, using organized crime connections to shut down any attempts of his workers to unionize. He made weapons for the army, but he's no patriot. I've heard that Strickland was a big admirer of Adolf Hitler and sold them weapons as well. He's got this imaginary orderly version of La Cruz planned, where everyone's church-going and square as can be, and there's no room for Donovan Motors. He wants us gone and he'll do anything to achieve that – including make deals with the devil. Trust me on this – Strickland is bad news.

Thanks so much for stopping by and chatting with me, Betty!