Mar 10, 2014

In the Spotlight with Felicia Madura!

I have always carried a passion for all things horror and suspense.  As a child I was usually the one holding the flashlight, starting a spooky story at sleepovers.  I loved all the old horror flicks, watching them through my fingers, most of the time.  This passion followed me through my life.  As a teenager, I began reading Stephen King, and I was hooked.   I started writing my own simple stories, filling notebook after notebook.  (computers weren’t a big thing back then)  When I became an adult, the passion stayed with me, and the stories got better.  But, like so many others, life would get in the way, and the stories were abandoned.  Until one day, when an idea struck me, and I couldn’t shake it.  That was back in 2009.  I’ve been writing ever since.  It took a lot of hard work, finding time on lunch breaks at work, quiet time at home, and still trying to take care of a husband and a baby (at the time).  But I was determined, and the words flowed so freely.  In 2011, I was laid off from my job of 11 years.  After going through a roller coaster of emotions about it, the old adage kept coming back to me:  When one door closes, another one opens.  I took it as a big shiny, neon sign pointing at my writing, saying “Git-r-done!”  So I did.  I finished my first novel in 2012, and finally gathered up the courage to get it published in 2013.  Since then, I’ve been picking up momentum, and the ideas come faster than my fingers can keep up with.  It was a rough and treacherous road getting published, that got even bumpier before it smoothed out.  But I have met some wonderful people along the way, and continue to learn and grow each day.  I have a few stories brewing, but my main focus now is the second book in the trilogy of Crimson Cloak.  I am married to a wonderful man, who gave me the opportunity to follow my dream of becoming an author.  We have two wonderful children who keep me very, very busy.  Making time to write isn’t as easy as it used to be, but I make sure I write something every day.  I love helping other new authors, whenever I can, in the hopes that they don’t make the same mistakes, and also to show them, they aren’t alone in their confidence crashes, and their struggles.  Being an independent author is a lot of hard work, but it’s all worth it when your readers fall in love with your characters, your story, the story that YOU wrote.  It’s a great feeling. 

Crimson Cloak: Born of Blood

When the beautiful, young Izzy Sabel stops by her parents' for a quiet family dinner, there are some uninvited guests that turn her world upside down, unlocking something that's been hiding inside her, something Izzy herself struggles to understand as she's forced to leave her old life behind and enter into a world of new realities she never thought existed. Vampires are something you find in movies, and books. They aren't real....or are they? Izzy finds herself asking these same questions, as she tries to come to terms with her thirst. Still questioning her own sanity, she begins to learn about who she truly is, and who she is meant to be. Izzy's head spins with truths she never would have believed before she was beaten and left for dead. But instead of death, it was a new hell that welcomed her, embraced her, no matter how hard she fought against it. The deeper she goes, the more she finds, and the more she's unsure of who she can trust. Despite her own self-loathing, she finds a new light that may bring her the peace she needs, a way to make things right, but at what costs? Determined to get the answers she's looking for, she hones her new skills, but she's not prepared for what she finds, or the greatness that's ahead of her.


“Mom!” I screamed, and instinctively lunged toward her.  The shortest of the four stepped in front of me, and with both hands, shoved me back.  Dad and Eli both tried to yell something, and help me, but were stopped.  I stumbled a few steps, and, again managed to stay on my feet.  He may have been shorter than the others, but he was strong.  Stubborn as I was, I started to take another step toward Mom when one of the taller men stepped in and slapped me hard across my face.  The pain brought stars to my eyes, and all I could see for a brief moment were flashes of white.  My cheek stung, and my jaw was throbbing, but thankfully, he hadn’t drawn blood.  I blinked a few times, to regain my vision, and the room came back into focus. I could hear Mom gasp, and try to scream, but it was muffled by the huge hand covering her mouth.  

“Knock that shit off,” the man who had just hit me said through his clenched teeth, close enough I could smell his rancid breath.  I turned my head away from him, and looked at Mom again.  Her eyes looked so scared and sad.  The blood was trickling down her neck, creating a bright red spot on her shirt.  My stomach started to churn, and my breath started coming is short gasps as the smell of blood wafted into my nose.  Look away, look away, I told myself.  Now was not the time to go all fainty.  I forced myself to look away from Mom, and her bleeding neck.  I turned to focus on Dad and Eli.  Two men were standing near them, watching them closely.  I could tell Dad and Eli both wanted to fight, but they feared what would happen to Mom if they did.  The madman holding her already demonstrated he’d have no problem slitting her throat, though the cut he did make was a small one, it was still a cut.  I thought about fighting again, then stopped.  Maybe they’ll just take what they want, and go away.  But something told me that was just wishful thinking.   

“Now the happy family is all together.  Ain’t it fuckin sweet” the guy holding Mom said as he shoved her across the kitchen towards the rest of us.  She lost her balance and fell at our feet instead.  The others chuckled. 
“Please” Mom pleaded, “Please, just tell us what you want….You can take whatever you want.  Just leave us alone!” Her voice cracked as she tried to control her panic.  It was no use, she started to sob.  Seeing Mom this way, my own eyes began filling with tears.  The reality of what was happening was slowly sinking in, as the shock of surprise wore off.

“Hey DC, look at that, we can have whatever we want” the one that grabbed me said, and they all laughed again.  I took note of the name, and tried to help Mom up.  But between having my hands bound, and the smell and look of blood being so close, I couldn’t.  My stomach lurched and I leaned back, trying to breathe through my mouth to avoid the smell. This only seemed to make it worse, as now, I could almost taste it.  My mouth started to water, and my stomach churned again.  I thought for sure I was going to puke.  I swallowed hard against it.  I needed my strength now.  
“Levi, get that clumsy bitch up” DC barked.  The short one walked over, and pulled Mom to her feet.  So far, I had three of the four names.  For as much as this DC person liked to talk, I figured I’d get the fourth.  I just wasn’t sure I’d be around to actually tell someone. 

“So we can have whatever we want, eh?” DC asked, slowly pacing back and forth.  “Hmmm, well, really, we don’t want anything.  I mean, since we’re here, and you got a lot of shit, then yeah, we might as well take a few things.  But see, we’re really here for these three young soldiers” he said, motioning to the three other men standing towards the back of the kitchen.  “This is all about them.  See, if they can get through this, then they can be part of our team, our army.  I guess you could say this is their initiation!”  He threw his head back and laughed.  The others chuckled with him.  His head snapped forward, and his laughter stopped abruptly.  The others followed suit.  I wondered how high or crazy or both this guy was.  Neither of which made it good for us.  You can’t reason with a crazy person.  DC eyed every member of my family, cautiously, stopping to stare into my eyes. 

"You aren't going to cause any more trouble, are you missy?" he asked me.  

"Not that I mind a whole lot.  All these boys need is the slightest excuse to rip you to shreds.  So, it's really your choice."  He leaned in closer with each word until our faces were close enough to kiss.  I cringed against his rotten breath.  I could feel the warmth of it swirl around me every time he spoke, and the smell was horrid.  Drug addicts, maybe, I thought.  I had met a few meth heads back in college, at a party one of my friends had.  I’d never forget their rancid breath.  They always wanted to be so close when they spoke to me, and it made me stick to my stomach when they did.  This smell was the same.  I swallowed back the urge to vomit again, and shook my head no.  He stepped away from me and walked back to where my brother and father stood. 

Then it began.  It all happened so fast, I could barely comprehend it.  Eli lunged for DC, his teeth bared, looking like an elk going into battle. 

Blog Post

I have always had an affinity towards vampires.  Watching Bela Lugosi as a kid, I was fascinated every time he would take his victims.  When I started writing Crimson Cloak, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t influenced by the many vampire movies and books I’d read/seen throughout my life.  But I was determined to come up with something new, something different.  Let’s face it, there are a LOT of vampire books out there, and I had a few people ask me if I really wanted to go that route when there are already so many on the market.  I thought about this long and hard, because they were right!  Was I really up to the task of creating something new from such an old foe?  You bet I was.  Of course, that’s not to say I didn’t have a few faux pas along the way.  When I first started writing Crimson Cloak, I was still working.  The main topic of many break time conversations was ideas and directions I wanted to take with the story.  One thing I remember the most, a friend of mine was in my office, chatting about the book.  She gave me a funny look when I mentioned one of the character’s names.  “That’s from Twilight” she told me.  “Really?” I’d asked her.  It was a total ‘damn’ moment, because I really thought I had a unique character name.   Then she told me which one it was, and I smacked myself in the forehead. 

Needless to say, I had to change some names around.  I was determined to make sure Crimson Cloak wasn’t like Twilight, or any other vampire novel out on the market.  Mainly, because I wasn’t interested in copying someone else’s story.  People had already read Twilight.  I wasn’t trying to be the next Stephanie Meyers, or anyone else.  I’m me, and that’s who I want people to know.

Behind the Scenes

Thinking back on your first book, is there anything you would have done differently?

Crimson Cloak is my first book, and there are a ton of things I would have done differently.  This has been an incredible journey, and an overwhelming learning experience.  My first mistake was falling for the ruse of a company willing to take my money and publish my book, with several promises of bells and whistles that never actually came my way.  I’ve since cancelled with them, and have published through Create Space.  I also would have done more research about beta readers, ARC reviews, and the like.  I was inexperienced, and very, very excited to get published, and let my better judgment get away from me. I have learned from my mistakes, so when it’s time to publish book two, it will be a lot smoother process. 
Are you a Swooper (write first, edit later,) a Basher (edit each sentence as you go,) or both?   

I have to admit, I’m a little of both.  Whenever I sit down to write, I go back, and read the last few paragraphs, which almost always prompts a mini editing session.  But when the words are flowing, I put editing on the back burner.  It works great for me, because whenever I edit as I go, I will inevitably find a better way to phrase something, describe something, etc.  In the back of my mind, I remember that I’ll still have to go back and re-edit the whole story when it’s done, but I keep telling myself that it won’t be as much work.  (HA!) 

What is the one thing you must have to be able to write?

I like to have it quiet when I write.  I know there are some people that listen to music, but even music distracts me.  I like the quiet, because I can hear the story better in my head.  And with two very active kids, quiet is hard to come by in my house.  So I cherish every bit I can get. 

What types of scenes are your favorite to write?  

I love writing action scenes.  It presents a challenge to keep finding new, and interesting ways to describe a fight, an attack, etc.  Generally, I can see the scene playing out in my head, and if I can put to words, how awesome I envision it, then I know I’m doing a good job.  If not, then we scratch the scene, and start over again. 

Are you always in the driver’s seat? Or do your characters drag you along for the ride? 

There are plenty of occasions where I let the characters lead the way.  I have run into that fork in the road where I think we should go left, but the characters want to go right.  I’ve learned to not fight them, and let them lead the way.  It makes for a much better story. 

Contest: Enter to win an ecopy of Crimson Cloak: Born of Blood (epub, mobi, or PDF). Leave a comment with a valid email address. Contest ends March 15th at Midnight.

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