Nicola C. Matthews Hosts #AskMeAnything Q&A Session Beginning 1/20/18

 

With the release of Clan of the Claw, the third book in the Before the Sun Rises Series, I am hosting my first Q&A session over on Authors AMA. This will be a week-long Q&A session discussing the series and the soon-to-be-released spin-off series, Fallen From Grace. If you’ve ever had any questions about anything dealing with me as an author, any of my books, or anything else, please feel free to join me from January 20th – January 27th for my first ever #AskMeAnything Q&A session. See you there!

CLICK HERE to join. You can ask questions at any time, but answers will not post until the #AMA starts on January 20th.

Black Friday Sale!

This holiday season get your #OneClick fix and cuddle up with your next book boyfriend. Both the Before the Sun Rises Series and the Sweet Seduction Series is on sale now through Friday. Don’t miss your chance to stock up on these reader favorites!

 

The Red Fang – Book 1 in the Before the Sun Rises Series – on sale through Kindle for just $1.99

 

 

Immortal Sins – Book 2 in the Before the Sun Rises Series – on sale through Kindle for just $1.99

 

 

Clan of the Claw – Book 3 in the Before the Sun Rises Series – on preorder through Kindle and all major retailers for just $0.99

 

 

The Taming of Andy Savage – Book 1 in the Sweet Seductions Series – is on sale through Kindle for just $0.99

 

Collaring Ash – Book 2 in the Sweet Seductions Series – is on sale through Kindle for just $1.99

 

 

Jinx’d! – Book 3 in the Sweet Seductions Series – is on sale through Kindle for just $1.99

Cover Reveal! Clan of the Claw – Before the Sun Rises Series: Book 3

Left for dead by The Vampire High Council, Ethereal Oscurita is finding it very difficult to adjust to life as one of only two known lycanthrope hybrids to have ever existed. Torn between her love for two vampires and the man killed by the very hybrid who had created her, she is no longer content to spend her days hiding in the basement of the master vampire’s country estate. She needs time – time away from a disintegrating love triangle, time to heal, but more importantly, time to figure out who she really is.

Ethereal sets out to fulfill a promise to Nikkolas Redpaw, the werebear who sacrificed himself for the sake of her family while fighting the Shield of Humanity. She travels to the northern most regions of Alaska in a search to find any surviving member of his once great clan. What she discovers there could be the beginning of something truly wonderful – or the end to a tale five years in the making.

Alliances will be forged, friendships tested, and old wounds reopened. Will Alaska hold the key to Ethereal’s happily ever after, or a bitter ending to a life only half-lived?

Available for pre-order on Amazon, B&N, and iBooks on 10/15/17. Pre-order available through Smashwords and Kobo now.

Check out the official book trailer:

Pre-Orders Set for the Booking in Biloxi Author Event

Are you attending the Booking in Biloxi Author Event on 3/19/16? Be sure to pre-order your book! Cut off date is 2/6/16. I will have a very limited supply of books to sale at the actual event so if you want to ensure you receive an autographed copy of a book of your choice, pre-order now.

 

 

My Journey Into FaceBook Ads – Round 1

round 1 fight

Before I get into the statistics of Round 1 with FaceBook ads, I’d like to start out with 2 things. First, somehow my author page was flagged by FaceBook as being a page that was “selling adult sexual products and/or services” and therefore absolutely NONE of my ads were being approved, regardless of the content (I even did one that stated “THIS IS A TEST” with no graphics and no links, still denied because my page had been flagged). No, none of my recent novels are classified as erotica, so I’m not really sure. There has been speculation someone must have reported the page at some point, but I cannot be sure as I do not remember getting any type of notification. Second, because of this, I had to run my first ad through my publishing house page, which I do not advertise or promote. Since the running of this ad, the problems with my author page have been fixed.

 

 

Below is the first ad I ran:

 

A beauty shot of a young blue eyed woman with her red hair looking at the camera.

“I won’t ask you to do anything I am not willing to do myself.”

 

Hopeless, pointless. Those were the words on the lips of every supernatural being still left standing in our small community.

 

Clans were being eradicated, families scattered to the winds. But we would not stand idly by and watch as we were being destroyed. We would unite, fight, all declaring as one that we had the right to exist. Battle lines have been drawn, but the war has just begun.

 

If you love paranormal fantasy packed with action and romance, then Nicola C. Matthews’ The Red Fang – Book One in the Before the Sun Rises Series – is for you.

 

 

Demographics:

I set a targeted audience of women between the ages of 21 and 65 & ran the ad in the US, Canada, England, and Japan. I targeted those who showed interest in reading romance, fiction, books, and ebooks. According to Facebook, that was a potential reach of 49 million users with these demographics.

 

Budget and Time Frame:

I started my ad at 12 pm on 9/27/15 and ran it through 9/29/15 for a total of 2.5 days with a $2 budget per day. My total amount spent for the 2.5 day run was $6. According to the analytics of FB, that was a potential reach of 1100 to 1600 people per day.

Day 2:

Since my ad only ran for 12 hours on day 1, I am starting my analysis on Day 2 after a full 24 hours. At the end of 9/28/15, I had a post reach of approximately 361 people and 9 total post engagements.

 

For the record, I have no idea how FB calculates their “post reach.” I am assuming this is how many different people’s newsfeed the ad showed in. This does not mean the people saw the ad, only that it had been placed in 361 different newsfeeds. An “engagement,” according to FB, is any interaction someone has with the ad – whether it is a “like” on the post, a “share,” if they click on the photo graphic, a comment, or if they click-through the link. At the end of 9/28/15 I had 2 total post likes, one of which was my own.

 

Day 3:

After the campaign ended on 9/29/15, the last day of my ad run, I had a post reach total of 1018 and 18 total post engagements.  I had a budget of $6 making each post engagement approximately $0.33 per engagement. This gave me a 1.83% return rate.

 

My total engagements were:

10 photo clicks of the graphic I used

1 link click-through

7 post likes (1 of which was my own)

 

To break this down, the more people who engage in the ad for your set budget, the less those engagements are costing you. Since I really have no control over how many times my ad shows up in any one person’s newsfeed, all I really have to go on is how much I’m paying per engagement, the type of engagement, and most importantly, the number of click-throughs on the book link.

 

Demographics Breakdown:

Approximately half of my audience was between the ages of 18 and 24, the other half between 25 and 65+ with 104 of those being in the 65+ category, which surprised me. I had thought about stopping my targeted audience at 55 but after seeing these numbers, I need to include the 65+ age group.

 

Of the 1018 post reach, only 51 was seen on a desktop with the rest being from some type of mobile device. 850 of those reached were from the US or Canada with more than 500 of those being from Canada.

 

Ranking Statistics:

Overall, neither my author ranking nor my individual book ranking increased during the run of my ad. I also ran a Twitter ad for the same book simultaneously (blog article regarding those analytics coming soon) and still did not see any increase in ranking. Since the ad I ran was for a book with a trade publisher, I will not have access to the sales statistics until the end of October. Given I saw a steady decline in the book’s ranking over the course of the ad run, I am predicting a zero percent in immediate sales from the ad placement.

 

My Advice for Future Ads:

I had a lot of people clicking the photo teaser. Since Amazon restricts photos with excessive text (a photo cannot have more than 20% of its area covered in text), I do not suggest using a graphic teaser when advertising books. Since I had so many problems getting my ads to go through my author page, I did not want to risk having my publishing page flagged as well so I opted to remove the photo snapshot of my book cover and replaced it with a very benign graphic teaser. My book cover is a bit “racy” according to FB ad standards so I had concerns. Next time, I will leave the book cover up and hope it does not get flagged.

 

I know my post was a bit longer than it should have been. People don’t want to click the “read more” in posts, so my next boosted posts will need to be just a few sentences. Since boosted posts also show the comments in the newsfeed, I plan to do an experiment on my next boosted post. I intend to ad graphic teasers into the comments section after the post goes lives to see if that will help the return rate, if FB will allow this.

 

In Summary:

I know a lot of authors have really spoken against FB ads, and yet some have had tremendous success. While I myself find it ridiculous to have to pay for my posts to reach additional people already on my list, FB does offer the option of showing those ads to friends of people who have liked your page, as well as to everyone BUT those who have liked your page. I chose the “friends of people who have liked your page” option so even though it was only 1018 people who had this ad included in their newsfeed, that is 1K people who have probably never heard of me or my books, which is what I’m going after.

 

In addition, everyone seems to think this should be a quick fix, when advertising and marketing is an ongoing business expense just like anything else. Business classes teach us the rule of 7, i.e. someone needs to be shown an advertisement approximately 7 times before they will act. Because of this, I intend to continue to run my ads off and on for at least half of the month each month, even if my budget only allows for $2/day. It’s a small investment which could yield large returns in the long run. After all, this is a marathon, not a sprint, and as authors we need to stop thinking that overnight successes actually happen overnight.

 

I am reminded of those god-awful L. Ron Hubbard commercials for his book Dianetics.  I can’t tell you what the book is about, and I never bought one, but I damn sure remember his name, the commercial, and the name of the book. Why? Because that commercial used to come on at least three times a damn hour during local broadcasting when the book first came out. So before you think you are wasting money on advertising dollars that do not readily translate into sales for the first few months, remember L. Ron Hubbard. Even if people get sick of seeing your ads, at least they will be hating you and your stupid-ass ads ten years later.

FREE Book? Yes, Please! – The Red Fang: Paranormal Action Adventure

We are celebrating the impending release of my paranormal action/adventure novel The Red Fang and are now requesting reviews from reviewers, readers, bloggers, and fans.

Blurb:

Hopeless, pointless. Those were the words on the lips of everyone still left standing in our small, supernatural community.

The vampire Stealth had barely escaped with his immortal life after the SHiELD of Humanity attacked his home, a home which now lay in ruins on the outskirts of Shadow Cove.

The lycan clans were being picked off one by one, the few remaining remnants scattered to the winds. Entire species and families were being eradicated—a full blown extermination, for no reason other than we were different and feared by the humans. Our lives were being cut short, but we would not stand idly by and watch as our families were destroyed.

We would unite, fight to the bitter end, all declaring as one: We are no different from the humans, and we have the right to exist—to live. Battle lines have been drawn, but the war has just begun.

If you love paranormal fantasy packed with action and romance, then The Red Fang – Book One in the Before the Sun Rises Series – is for you.

If interested in receiving a FREE advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review, please click here to submit your request.

2014 – My Year in Review

As much as I like being a writer, it’s super hard work. To add insult to injury, I tend to measure my own successes by what I see others accomplish, and this is neither a healthy attitude nor a way to get anything accomplished. In my personal experience, measuring your own successes, or lack thereof, by what others have accomplished is a sure-fire way to get discouraged. Nothing will make you want to give up quicker than thinking you have to do the same thing and accomplish the same things that everyone else is doing. The reason for this is simple: you are not everyone else, you are you, and you have to do and measure your own successes by what works best for you. It took me a really long time to realize that, so today I am celebrating my successes and what I am looking forward to getting accomplished in 2015.

I have always heard that you should write down what your idea of “success” is. My list changes often, and I have different lists of “successes” for myself, from the small ones that I want to accomplish in the short-term, to the long term goals like hitting the NYT bestselling list. Some of my goals are not achievable and I understand that, but I am not going to give up just because they seem out of reach. So before I start on my list of things I have accomplished in my writing career, I need to back up to also include what I have accomplished in my personal life as well.

In 2009 I had only a few short stories and one anthology published. My youngest child, Dade, was barely three years old, my middle child was just starting school, and I was once again looking for a full-time job that would help pay all those bills that were steadily piling up. That’s when I decided that I wanted to go back to college to finish up the nursing degree that I had not completed the first time around back in the mid-nineties. After two semesters of absolute misery in nursing school, I changed majors and ultimately graduated in May of 2011 with my business management degree. During those four semesters I finished up The Red Fang and also wrote Vindictus, The Dark Lord, both of which were published in early 2011.

In June of 2011 I landed a job working for a multi-million dollar technology firm as a sales representative, a job that I absolutely loathed. For fourteen months I didn’t write, couldn’t concentrate on anything but the misery that was my Evil Day Job. In August of 2012, however, I requested a transfer to a different position within the same department and was thankfully able to change jobs. It was rough going for a while, but everything eventually smoothed out, and while it’s not the career I really want, I actually am not nearly as miserable as I was – except when I’m in the mood to write and I’m stuck answering emails.

In July 0f 2012, after spending  seven years saving up every spare penny we could and watching the real estate market like maniacs, my husband and I finally found a nice little fixer-upper home in our price range and in the same school districts that we currently resided. We sat on pins and needles until we finally closed the deal on the house in late September. For the next eighteen months, my entire family’s lives were put on hold as we single-handedly ripped that old house apart and painstakingly put it back together again. Finally, right before Christmas of 2013, we were able to get our family moved out of the old house that Hurricane Katrina had ruined and into the new one. I spent the first four months of 2014 just trying to get everything unpacked and everyone settled into a new routine.

By May of 2014 I had not done any real writing in nearly three years. I was determined to start on the BEFORE THE SUN RISES SERIES again, so I took to my computer and began penning book 2 in the series, Immortal Sins, which was published in late November of 2014. I decided to release book 3, Clan of the Claw, in episode form, and so the first three chapters were published in December of 2014. I then switched gears and wrote a novella under a different pseudonym which was published in late January of 2015.

In the meantime, I had been knocking around an idea in the back of my mind for another series. The urge to write this novel was overwhelming, so I decided that I wanted to get Put it in Red: Hell’s Ballad written before going back to the BEFORE THE SUN RISES SERIES.

So this brings me to what I hope to accomplish this year. I have already had one novella published, something that was completely unplanned. I have two books slated to be published this year, Hell’s Ballad is slated for a late June/July release, and Clan of the Claw will hopefully follow suit with a late November/early December release date. That will be a total of 3 books this year, not bad for someone who also works a 40 hour a week job on top of three kids and a husband.

But what does the future hold for me? Exactly what am I looking to accomplish long-term? My goals are not unlike all other writers. I would love to ultimately be picked up by a large publisher that offers enough in advancements that would allow me to write full time. Past that, I would like to hit the NYT bestseller list at least once. Short term, I would like to find a nice, small press that would be willing to publish some of the books I already have out and help market those jokers so I can spend more time writing.

For now, however, I would settle for getting these two books finished, edited, and released. Oh, and seeing Black Veil Brides in concert would be a really nice bonus too 😉 And one day, if all goes according to my master plan, I will finally get to meet my mentor, Bret Michaels…..or at least toss my latest book at his head. You know, cause I like to keep things interesting.

Happy Free Year!!

Happy FREE Year!

As a special gift to my readers this holiday season, THE RED FANG – book 1 of the Before the Sun Rises Series, is FREE on Amazon now through the end of the year. Go grab your copy and find out why readers are calling this action-packed romance “not your typical paranormal story.”

Honest reviews are always welcome and greatly appreciated!!

http://www.amazon.com/Red-Fang-Before-Sun-Rises-ebook/dp/B0056A1Z80/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1419606550&sr=8-3&keywords=nicola+matthews

Excerpt from IMMORTAL SINS – the Second Book in the Before the Sun Rises Series by Nicola Chey Matthews

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The sun had barely begun to set when the shrill ringing of Ash’s cell phone roused Altania from a troubled sleep. She almost groaned aloud when she heard Ash’s deep voice answer the call with a short, “Ash speaking.”

She thought she had dreamed the whole thing. Her entire slumber had been riddled with dreams of Ashton, her sister, and the events of not only the past few hours, but also the events from all those years ago.

The memories were still so fresh, the reality mixed in with the recollections and offset with her wild, subconscious imagination. She had discovered her sister’s cold body on the floor of Ashton’s basement in dreams dozens of times now, like the whole thing was on a giant loop, finding her sister dead and then discovering herself in Ash’s arms, his body pressed against hers as he held her closely, running his fingers through her hair and murmuring over and over again how sorry he was, how he regretted hurting her and her sister and wishing he could erase the sadness from her heart forever.

Again, it felt like it was two different people, like Ash was two different people, the Ashton Jones that had brutally murdered her sister in cold blood, and the vampire Ash, passionate, loving, willing to do whatever it took to keep her safe and happy.

Altania’s mind and heart were conflicted, being pulled in so many different directions. Coming from beneath the veil of sleep, it took her a few moments to right the world, to come to grips with the stark realization that she was being forced to work with the man who had not only taken her sister from her, but a man who she was finding greatly changed the longer she was in his company. The former she could learn to live with, but the latter troubled her more than she would like to admit.

“Alty.” The sound of his voice so close shook her out of her thoughts. She turned towards him, his voice and body too close for comfort at the moment.

“Yeah?” she asked a bit groggy, sitting up in bed and pulling the scrunchy from her hair. She let the dark locks fall around her shoulders, running her fingertips over her scalp to massage some of the soreness out from having worn her hair up for so long.

“We’ve got a problem.”

Altania looked up at him as he said that word, her body stone still. She knew from experience that hearing that word, that sentence, was never going to end well.

“You remember that little elemental that we were supposed to be meeting this evening, the one named Ethereal?” He didn’t wait for her to answer as he continued, “The Council thought she might be able to help us gather intel on the whereabouts of Dakota.”

While he spoke Ash removed the shirt he had worn to bed, the sight of his half-naked body causing Altania’s eyes to wander. Feeling herself flush uncomfortably, she averted her eyes while he shrugged on a new shirt, the sight of his chiseled abs and multitude of scars marring the skin of his back forever burned into her mind.

Altania tried hard not to snort when Ash said the woman’s name. What was the deal with the supernaturals in this country? Who was naming these people? Better yet, did they think the names were actually cute? Who ever heard of an elemental fey named Ethereal? That would be like naming a vampire, well, Requiem or Stealth or Ash. If this were a book instead of real life, she’s be rolling her eyes, wondering if the author thought he was really being original, or thought readers were that daft in the head to not realize just how corny everyone’s names were.

She tossed the covers back on the bed as Ash continued to talk, digging around inside her bag until she produced a fresh set of clothes. No matter what he was about to tell her, she still had to get dressed.

“The Council has been unable to get in contact with her since right before sunrise this morning. Her cell phone is going straight to voicemail. It’s probably nothing, but the Council wants us to check it out just the same.”

Ash followed her past the curtain that separated the sleeping and bathing areas as he talked.

“What are you doing?” she asked, turning around to glare up at him.

He stared back at her for a split second, not sure what she was talking about. “What?” he asked a split second before realization dawned on him. He laughed then, a short chuckle that echoed off the tiled walls. “I’ve seen you naked before, Alty,” he said matter-of-factly. “Besides, we don’t have time for this right now. We have to get on the road.”

The words were barely out of his mouth before she let out a half scream, half shriek as she lunged at him, her hand drawn back with the intention of landing a much-deserved slap across the face. Ash caught her hand easily enough, his fingers curling around her wrist.

“What part of ‘protect your partner with your life’ did you have problems with?” he asked her quietly, his nearly black orbs boring into hers.

She did scream this time, in frustration and anger, her other hand swinging for his face again. He could have stopped it had he wanted, but he chose to let her hand make contact with a resounding smacking sound against his cheek. His own hand snaked out faster than her mortal eyes could see, his hand capturing hers a mere second after she landed the blow.

He held both of her wrists within his for a moment before pulling her roughly against him. Her heart was hammering inside her chest, partly from anger and now from a mixture of fear and something else, something that scared her far worse than the vampire whose arms were now holding her tightly.

Ash’s right hand moved to the small of her lower back, holding her firmly against his body as his left hand moved up to grip the back of her neck firmly. He dipped his head, allowing his cheek to brush against hers as he whispered, “I said we don’t have time for this, Alty, but I’m game if you are.”

His words, their indication, swept through her mind and straight to her body. An uncontrollable shiver ran down her spine, her body trembling as he held her so closely against him. She was acutely aware of how her body was pressed against his, the feel of hardened muscle meshing with softened curves. Her breathing had become slightly labored, her heart beating loudly in her ears as her blood rushed to the delicate parts of her body, her nerve ending more sensitive to what was happening than she thought possible. She tried to pull away from him, demanding that her body separate itself from his, but instead she discovered herself moving closer to him, her body making demands of its own that had her mind screaming in protest.

Ash pulled her impossibly close, the feel of her breasts moving against his chest as she struggled to breathe creating an immediate reaction in his own body, his organ becoming hard and throbbing despite his lack of fresh blood in nearly a day. He lowered his head until his lips hovered over the vein in her neck, his ears picking up the enticing tattoo of her beating heart.

The sudden and intense scent of blood wafted up at him, his mind instantly splitting into concern and hunger. He pulled back slightly, noticing the spreading stain on her shirt. His brow furrowed, realizing that Alty’s sudden movements only moments before had broken open the wound on her shoulder.

Ash released his hold on her neck to move the shirt out of his way, a movement that had Altania struggling against him in earnest. Her thrashing caused the shirt to rip a bit, adding fuel to her frenzied mind.

“Be still, Alty,” he demanded, his voice firm and quiet at the same time. She ceased her struggles when she noticed that her shirt had a growing blood stain inches from the fangs of a hungry vampire.

Alty grew very still, knowing that any sudden movement might set him off, trigger the predator that lay inside of him. She had seen how he behaved around her fresh wound yesterday, knew he could control himself better than most vampires five times his age, but her animal instinct was kicking in, telling her to be very still and ready to run if need be, the fight or flight instinct growing ever more prominent in her mind.

The sweet smell of the fresh blood was maddening, but at the same time his concern over her well-being was keeping the hunger in check. Ash let go of Alty completely for a split second, just long enough to rip the already shredded fabric from her body. For Alty it felt like her shirt exploded away from her in a fraction of second, the sudden violence making her cry out in surprise. Looking down, she realized that she was now standing bare-chested within the arms of the man whom she had sworn undying hatred towards.

She groaned inward, cursing herself for not taking the time to at least put a bra on before putting her clothes on last night. She had been in such a hurry to get any type of barrier between her bare flesh and Ash that she had rushed into her clothes before she was even half-dried from her bath. Now the loss of her tank top had her bare breasts pushed up against Ash, the soft mounds within hands’ reach.

She looked up, seeing Ash’s eyes drinking in the sight of her body, a slight smile curling up the sides of his mouth. Seeing that slight smirk, the total enjoyment he was having at her expense sent her over the edge. She hissed through clenched teeth, pushing against Ash in an attempt to free herself.

Her struggles caused the soft mounds of her breasts to jiggle irresistibly, the feel of her body squirming against his and the scent of her skin and blood had Ash about to explode inside his jeans. He was hungry and the attraction he had always felt towards Altania was almost more than he could bear with her naked body locked tightly in his arms.

Ash let his breath out in a low, whistling hiss, the predator in him taking over for a mere breath of a second as he suddenly picked Altania up and turned around, sitting her atop the vanity that had been at his back. He grabbed her hips and pulled her hard against him, one leg on either side of his waist, her pubic mound grinding into his as he leaned in towards her. He held the lower half of her body captive with his left hand and arm as his right hand wrenched her head to the side.

Ash was breathing hard, something that vampires only did when they were on the brink of losing control of their base urges. Somehow Alty knew this, could feel his body coiled as if ready to strike, a slight tremor in the muscles that rippled beneath her hands. She had stopped struggling, her hands on his shoulders doing little more than keeping her from collapsing into his arms. Her legs had wrapped themselves around his waist at some point, her body on fire, every fiber in her being now trembling at his touch.

“Ash,” his name was breathless on her lips, barely audible; her mind was trying desperately to remind her body that he was not only the enemy, but a predator that could easily rip her apart. Right this second, however, she was less fearful of his fangs and more concerned about the man whose organ was barely contained within the confines of the material of his jeans. And if she was truly honest with herself, she half hoped he would take what he wanted, what she wanted to give, and was too angry to admit.

“Altania,” his voice was rough, throaty as he tried to speak, his cheek pressed against hers as he whispered in her ear. “I’m not going to tell you again to be very, very still. I’m hungry, in more ways than one, and if you do not stop acting like a late breakfast then I cannot be held accountable for my actions. There is only so much I can handle with you.” He pulled back, those black eyes desperate in his need as he added, “And to be honest, Alty, I’m less interested in the blood right now and much, much more interested in you.”

She didn’t speak, afraid that all it would take for him, and for her, to claim what he so frantically wanted was just one word of encouragement. Altania became very still, allowing her body to rest against his. Her breath was still labored, her heart beat becoming less like the erratic tattoo of fear and a deeper, more rapid beat of one in the heat of passion.

Altania allowed herself these few moments to revel in the feel of her naked flesh against the rough texture of his shirt, the rigid muscles rippling beneath.

Bret Michaels, I Hope You Wanted to be a Doctor When You Grew Up……

The hallway was always quiet at this time of the night, the hum of the florescent lighting the only sound breaking the endless silence. In the distance came a sudden, loud explosion, shattering the stillness of the night. Screams could be heard coming closer as muffled gunfire echoed through the halls. The overhead intercom system crackled to life, the static-filled voice tiny in the increasingly loud sounds of fighting. “Paging Dr. Sychak, Dr. Bret Sychak. You are needed in the lab. Bring security backup.”

Writing is fun, no doubt about it. When someone ticks you off, you can always make them into the bad guy in some twisted storyline, kicking their ass six ways from Sunday. And depending on just how messed up your imagination is (in my case, it would be a long stretch with serial killer Ashton Jones BEFORE he grew fangs and a conscience), those who have wronged you can either have a quick demise or a long, drawn-out and very painful time in the story. You get to make up worlds, rules, control everything and everyone in that world (usually, but all us writers know how our characters like to grow minds and opinions of their own and refuse to do what we tell them to do). You get to take readers on the most wondrous adventures, limited only by your own imagination. And for some of us, me included, those imaginations seem absolutely limitless.

There really is nothing like being a writer. For me, the majority of my characters are based in part from someone important in my life. The antagonist Sergeant First Class Steven Hall is a real person who really is a Sergeant First Class in the air force. He was a very dear friend of mine who I forever immortalized in the ongoing BTSR series. Ethereal is the name of a character I made up and used back when I was heavily into online RP games. The LeeLee character that will be introduced in an upcoming book in the series was another one of my RP characters. Her love interest, Akito, is based off of another online friend who also played in the games and is near and dear to my heart. The Vampire Stealth was coined in part after the wonderful Don Henrie. Because my characters are molded after real life people, they seem as real and are as dear to me as the people who inspired them. For me, these characters ARE real, as real as anyone else that I know in my day to day life.

Now I have decided to forever immortalize my mentor, Bret Michaels, into the upcoming novel IMMORTAL SINS, the next book in the BEFORE THE SUN RISES series. I plan to write two different characters into the series, the first one using his birth name and made into a doctor, Dr. Bret Sychak. The second appearance made by Bret Michaels will be in a yet –to-be announced novel. I may even bring him into another novel in the BTSR series before it is all said and done. Bret is an incredible person and has inspired me in so many ways throughout the years that the very least I can do for him is to write him into a book, or maybe even two or three.  And if I’m very VERY lucky, he might one day read all about those characters and all those characters that so many other people in my life have inspired.

Creating characters after those who have inspired me and then writing them into my storylines is my way of paying homage to them. It’s my way of saying “thanks” for all they have done for me directly and indirectly, for all their inspiration. It is a fun thing to do, and I do so hope that no one will ever become angry because of it. For writers, creating characters after real people not only help the characters feel more real, but it allows them to pay a great respect and a big “thank you” to these people in their own way.

So if you find yourself suddenly immortalized in an author’s novel, take a moment to realize that you have been greatly honored by the author, for they are paying you homage in the most sacred and special way that an author can. You touched their lives so greatly that they saw fit to coin a character after you – even if it is one getting his ass kicked six ways from Sunday.