Caring for Your Authors

I received a nice email today from a reader who loved Die and Stay Dead. She called it “fucking AMAZING” and wrote, “This is not my typical read, but I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed it and how much I could not put it down.” She even called it “beautifully written,” which is always nice to hear!

And “nice to hear” is exactly the point I want to make. We authors rarely get feedback from readers, so it’s always a treat to hear from someone who likes our work. Sure, good reviews are great, but critical acclaim doesn’t always translate into sales or reader attention. (Trust me, I know this from experience!) Hearing from readers who have actually taken the time to seek out, purchase, and read your book reminds us why we’re doing this in the first place: to tell stories that we hope others will enjoy.

More than that, though, hearing from readers is a lifeline of sorts. Authors work in solitude most of the time — it’s why you’ll find so many of us hanging out on Twitter; it’s our version of the workplace water cooler — and every nice note we get from readers reminds us we’re not alone. It lets us know that we’re not wasting our time, that there are people out there who appreciate our work. It recharges our creative batteries when they’re low, and reinvigorates us when we’re in our “why bother?” moods, which for writers come remarkably often.

So please, if you love a book, take a moment to let the author know. Online reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are extremely helpful and appreciated — we love those, too — but nothing beats a personal email. Seriously, nothing. Don’t trick yourself into thinking you’re just bothering us or that we don’t want to hear from you. You’re not, and we do. It’ll only take a few minutes out of your day, but I promise you it’ll make the author’s day.

Why not try it right now?

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Reminder: You only have five days left to win a free, signed copy of Die and Stay Dead! Enter at Goodreads for your chance to win!

The Scariest Part: Shannon Stoker Talks About THE ALLIANCE


Welcome to this week’s installment of The Scariest Part, a recurring feature in which authors, comic book writers, filmmakers, and game creators tell us what scares them in their latest works of horror, dark fantasy, dark science fiction, and suspense. (If you’d like to be featured on The Scariest Part, please review the guidelines here.)

My guest is Shannon Stoker, whose latest novel is The Alliance, the conclusion of the Registry trilogy. Here is the publisher’s description:

In this deadly endgame, the final move is hers . . .

In America, the Registry weds girls to the highest bidder and raises boys for its army.

Mia Morrissey escaped to make her life her own, and now that she has, she will risk everything so that everyone can be free.

Going undercover as part of a diplomatic mission, Mia returns to America. But life there is more dangerous than ever as the walls grow ever taller, and the forgotten country faces its most ruthless leader yet, Grant Marsden . . . a shadow from Mia’s past. With the help of Andrew, Carter, and other members of the subversive group Affinity, she embarks on a perilous journey to defeat Grant, bring down the government, and destroy the Registry once and for all.

When a terrible betrayal exposes the operation, Mia discovers that her enemies have used her — and so have her friends. Alone and frightened, she’s uncertain who to trust — or whether the mission is worth what she’s sacrificing.

With the fate of her friends and the future of her country on the line, Mia knows that her next step may be the last for her . . . and America.

And now, let’s hear what the scariest part was for Shannon Stoker:

Writing the psychological torture of one of the main characters was the scariest part of writing my novel, The Alliance. Andrew has had a tough life throughout the entire Registry series. In the second book he is kidnapped and has his brain scrambled, in The Alliance he is dealing with the after effects. I’ve never dealt with torture or kidnapping in my life, and I hope the average person hasn’t either, so just doing the research was enough to really freak me out.

The group who was after Andrew wanted him as a blank slate but still physically intact. I spent hours looking up different methods real life groups have used in the past to accomplish this goal. It made me realize just how fragile the human mind is and how capable we are of inflicting lasting pain on each other.

Keeping Andrew sane after this experience was difficult, especially because I didn’t want to just sweep it under the rug. He had already been through a lot of hardships that could have destroyed him, but if the torture had worked he would have transformed into an unsympathetic killing machine. I had to write a fine line keeping him away from this fate but still deeply impacted in a real way by his experience.

In the first installment of the Registry series Andrew’s backstory reveals that he has previously been made to take lives against his will. He was raised with zero compassion and his only goal was to be a soldier. As he progressed, his goals change and he realizes there are good people in the world and he can be one of them. This is a big part of why what happens to him in The Collection so traumatic. He is almost back to square one in The Alliance and has to remind himself that there is good in the world and that humanity is worth fighting for.

I’ve always enjoyed violent stories, whether they are action, horror, or supernaturally-based. I think writing fighting scenes is much easier than romantic ones. But writing about broken bones and blood is a lot simpler than figuring out the ins-and-outs of the human psyche and how to destroy it. One of the great freedoms of writing fictional characters is controlling the outcome. I can’t help but wonder if Andrew were a real person whether his constitution have been strong enough to survive, and that’s the scariest part.

Shannon Stoker: Website / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads

The Alliance: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iTunes / Kobo

Shannon Stoker lives in DeKalb, IL. She received her undergraduate and law degree from Northern Illinois University where she now works as the Research Integrity Coordinator. It’s not a stretch to say she’s a die-hard Huskie fan! When she’s not working or writing Shannon spends the majority of her time playing with her terrier mix Nucky or her husband. She loves watching horror movies, including those straight to DVD classics most people never heard of. If she wasn’t an attorney or an author she would have been a beautician and is constantly bugging her friends to come over and let Shannon play with their hair.



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