Cover Reveal: DEFINE US by Serena Kearney

Define Us
the Scarred Bullet series Book Three
Can be read as a stand alone
Release Date: March 17, 2017

define-usI’m supposed to be strong.

Until I found I was in a relationship I swore I would never be in.
I didn’t know how trapped I was until Dean Sailer walked into the diner, making me question who I turned into.
Dean reeked of overconfidence.
He’s sarcastic and thinks he’s funny.
The worst part is I find myself smiling when I don’t feel like it. He brought out something inside me that I locked away a long time ago.
I wanted nothing to do with him.
I wanted to stay contained in my world.
When tragedy threatens the life of me and my best friend, he’s the one I find myself relying on.
He’s there for me when no one else is.
No matter how much I try to resist Dean Sailer, he seems to delve deeper into a place I thought was gone.
Can I change? 
Or will I be the definition of what I’ve made myself out to be?

Release Day: DARK & DEADLY THINGS by Kelly Martin


Blessed (or cursed) with the ability to see ghosts, Elise was a fixture on her dad’s reality ghost hunting show, Dark and Deadly Things, until she realized her father faked the evidence just to get ratings.

Now Elise is watching his Halloween special on live TV while eating popcorn next to her ghost of a mother.

Something goes horribly wrong…

Two members of the Halloween special’s family are dead. One is missing and Elise’s dad is the main suspect. Only Elise knows the truth. Only she saw what really happened to the family before the lights went out.

Elise joins the only surviving member of the murdered family, Abel, to find the thing that destroyed both of their families– find it and destroy it.

How do you kill a ghost?

Easy, you take on one paranormal case at a time until you figure it out.

About the Author:
Kelly Martin is an Amazon bestseller and award-winning author. She loves abandoned house photography, ghost stories, and trying to figure out what goes bump in the night.

She lives in the heart of Middle Tennessee, where all the cool ghost stories happen.

Kelly loves supernatural TV shows, watching horror gamers on youtube, and driving around taking pictures of abandoned houses. All of which would make you assume Kelly is very brave… you’d be very wrong. She has to watch Sherlock safely behind her fingers at times. 

She has been married for over ten years, has three little girls, and a one-eyed cat named Sam. 

Subscribe to her newsletter to be notified of new releases: (click on “sign-up”)

If you ever have a question or comment, feel free to email her at ♥ You can follow her writing adventure at

Writing a Short Story Vs. a Novel

Writing a Short Story Vs. a Novel.png

I recently announced on my Facebook page that I’m part of an anthology releasing on April 1st. Based off UtopiaCon’s Step Write Up freak show theme, our 8 carnival setting short stories will be bound together in one book: The Peculiar Lives of Circus Freaks. (See our announcement video and join The Peculiars here.) My Donovan Circus readers will hopefully be excited to read a Ringmaster Sheffield Donovan prequel.

We’ve been plotting this since last summer, and each of us concocted our own short stories that take place in one place known as the Kipling Carnival. Each of them unique characters, each of them with a different job and problem, make up part of the carnival crew in some way. The only thing they had in common was that they all were part of the Kipling Carnival. When we set out to write our stories, however, I realized my big problem: we were writing short stories.

Now, I write regular bite-sized magazine articles, but when it comes to fiction, I’m a novelist. I couldn’t tell you the last time I wrote a short story, much less had it out in the world to see (I’m guessing I’d have to go all the way back to Harry Potter fan fiction at 17). Each of my books are anywhere from 70k-110k words, which means 10k sounded downright impossible. Despite having my character, setting, and outline ready in my head, I had big ideas and grand scenes that simply wouldn’t work. There was no time for fight scenes or long discussions or themes. How did I prevent myself from diving into developing full backstories for each character?

My author friend BJ Sheldon, also in the anthology, described it in a way that really opened my eyes to breaking through the short story block.

You’re writing about a situation. Not a huge overall arc spanning an entire set of problems. Just one small situation that must be explained, understood and, in one way or another, resolved (not necessarily a happily ever after, simply an ending).

Because you only have so much space to cram in a story, chances are it can’t be a big, sprawling world with tons of characters and three huge action scenes that go on for four chapters (guilty). Not everyone’s life has to be in danger, and you probably won’t be able to follow many people (if in 3rd person omniscient) because it gets jumbled up in a short time frame.

This isn’t to say you can’t cover a long span of time day/week/month-wise, but because we each only had about a 2 week timeline in each of our stories, that made it much easier for us to maintain concise plots with only a few characters with specific motivations. I knew when my story started and ended, which gave me a nice time frame to work within. We each agreed to work in a few mentions of each other’s characters, simply for reference (meaning, someone else’s lion tamer shows up in my story, or the ringmaster in my short appears in their story even if it’s just in passing). So, I had plenty of foundation. But how did I build on it without creating an entire world behind the show?

I won’t lie, it was hard squeezing my story into 10k (in fact, my first draft ended up at about 11k). Turns out there’s a delicate balance to short stories, in how much you reveal and how to make an impact in a short bit of time. It was a brand new challenge. Rather then delve into everyone’s backstories, I focused on the one person my DC readers would recognize: Sheffield Donovan. I know the guy pretty darn well, but he’s plenty mysterious in the series. There are a couple new folks that are important to my story as well, but Sheffield Donovan is the heart and soul of the whole thing (possibly as he is in the DC series).

I hope readers learn more about Sheffield, his background and history, in this short story than in any of the series’ novels. (I know I did.) My story is a quiet one. There are no fight scenes, but I hope there’s tension and uncertainty. There is no romance, but I hope there’s a sense of love and family. There is no Lucy Sullivan and the gang, but there are Easter eggs and other tidbits that are important to Sheffield’s character and his interactions with the Kipling Carnival. This short story actually opened my writing up as I forced myself to try something different. It improved my writing as I learned what parts of the story were most important, and which were fluff.

And in all honesty? It made me even more excited to eventually write the short story prequels I’d like to do with more DC characters. Much like Harry Potter’s Marauders, I’d love to eventually write a few shorts featuring the old Donovan Circus crew, with Sheffield, Lucy’s father Lenny, and others you learn about but never meet in the current series. This was great practice to not only see if I could do it, but do it well and enjoy it.

I recommend giving your short story idea a shot. Even if it never sees the light of day, it’s good practice to learning a different writing style, deciding what stays and goes if within a word count limit, and gaining a better understanding of how you work. You might surprise yourself!

Why Authors Need GOALS Instead of Resolutions


It’s everyone’s favorite time of year again, when we make big resolutions to change our lives and get our ish together for the next year. Speaking from personal experience, some resolutions might be as broad as “lose weight” or more specific, such as “write a book.”

Resolutions seem like such lofty things. There’s a lot of built-in pressure, typically followed by a bunch of disappointment when you realize halfway through the year that you’re no closer to completing said resolution than you were on January 3rd. And usually by that point, because I feel there’s no way I can achieve the resolution in that time period, I simply give up, cross it off my list, and move on to the Next Big Idea.

But that’s not right, is it? Because I’ve let myself down. Maybe I’ve even let someone else down because they were expecting that thing from me. And that’s where I don’t want to suck – I can live with letting myself down, but if I’m letting down someone else, it will eat away at me until I figure out a way to get it done. And then I’m miserable and annoyed and half-assing my way through it which is no better than not doing it at all.

Goals, however, are a little more solid. They’re straightforward, and you can take clear action steps to achieve the goals. There’s still some pressure, but even if you fall behind, you can readjust your action steps to still achieve at least part of your goal.

Let’s start with something we probably all are familiar with over the years. Rather than writing down “lose weight,” I’d suggest switching it to a specific goal: “Lose 50 pounds.” Once you make that goal, you can break it down into more specific actions that are tailored to your personality and/or schedule. HOW will you lose 50 lbs? Maybe it’s dropping soda and eating salad for lunch, or going to the gym 3x a week, or walking your dog everyday. See how those are a little more specific (i.e. realistic) than simply saying “lose weight?” And even if you haven’t lost weight by, say, June, you can again readjust those action steps – choose a smaller weight loss goal, or up your gym routines, eat only lettuce for 60 terrible days, etc.

Let’s go back into the writing side of things. Sure, you can say you want to write a book. It can be your first book, or your fiftieth, but there’s your goal. Then break it down – have you even started this book yet? Or are you still outlining? Maybe the specifics include writing at least 500 words a day, or taking one day a week to research your content and outline your world/plot. Every step you take is one step closer to reaching your goal.

Now, are you planning on having the first draft done within the 2017 calendar year, or do you want to get the first draft done within 6 months so that you can edit and query to agents, or self-publish by a particular date? (In which case, pick your date and do everything in your power to stick with it – trust me, there’s nothing like a pending deadline to light a fire under your ass and get it written.)

I know this method works because it’s how I got HoA done. If I’d simply said, “I want to release a trilogy,” I would’ve hemmed and hawed and found every excuse under the sun to put it off, because I am a champion procrastinator. However, by selecting “Summer 2017” with specific dates 30 days apart, and by announcing it to readers, that motivated me to get the work done. I made myself accountable, and couldn’t bear to disappoint not just readers, but myself. Now, it’s true I hardly came up for air for about a year, but by god, I did it, and the readers were thrilled I held up my end of the bargain. And so was I. I accomplished a hell of a goal, something I can look back on proudly and as a highlight of my writing career thus far. But it wouldn’t have happened had I not made goals and action steps in order to move forward.

So, let’s make some goals. I want to release Donovan Circus #5 in 2017, most likely during the summer. I’d also like to have a first draft of a YA dystopia novel I’m working on to be completed by February (as I’m nearly halfway through it). That gives me time to edit, possibly query (as I’m still on the fence), and possibly self-publish by fall (if I don’t query, or get no bites and decide to go ahead with it myself). I also have an anthology short story releasing in April. I’ve also just been accepted into a big YA boxed set for August. In addition, I’m either hosting or participating in signings and conferences in January (RRWC), February (Mysticon), April (RAI/RavenCon), and June (Utopia), with possible additions to be added for the fall.

You can plot your goals out however you’d like, whether it’s on a computer screen, written by hand and placed on a post-it right in front of your face, a vision board that stays up to motivate you when writing, a handy planner or bullet journal, etc. The options are endless, and can be whatever works for you. The important thing is that you make the goal and do everything in your power to achieve it. Believe me, once you’ve reached it, your chest will puff up with such pride that you might fall right outta your chair.