THIRD STRIKE Now Available for Pre-Order!

June 22nd, 2013

Greetings, Minions! I hope your summer is as dark and gloomy and spooky as it can be, what with all the sunshine happening. Here’s a little something to perk you up, in case that little black rain cloud that hovers perpetually over the Minion Horde as we cackle in delight isn’t sparking with as much lightning as it usually does. (WOW. THE SENTENCE WAS VERY LONG.)

The third and final book in The Slayer Chronicles (THIRD STRIKE) is now available for pre-order! It’s headed your way this February 20, 2014, but you can pre-order it now HERE.

The description, to whet your palette:

In the final book of THE SLAYER CHRONICLES trilogy, Slayer Joss McMillan is assigned to his hometown to track down and take out a murderous vampire. But vampires aren’t the only things Joss has to deal with this summer: his girl-crazy cousin Henry is staying with him, and hates Joss for trying to kill his best friend Vladimir Tod. Sirus, former mentor and supposedly dead vampire, is casting a shadow on Joss’s every turn. And Kat, Joss’s old friend, is in town and bent on revenge for past wrongs. Yet none of this even compares to the devastating secret Joss discovers about the murder of his sister, Cecile.

In a story full of unexpected revelations, it is up to Joss to protect the ones he loves and discover the truth about his sister’s death – even if it means paying the ultimate price.

So go forth, spread the word, and be awesome!



So. Some Things Have Happened.

May 18th, 2013

Good things. Happy things. First off, Auntie Heather went to RT (Romantic Times Convention), where she got to hang with a bunch of Minions and author friends and amazing, amazing peeps that my my heart go pitter-pat. Oh! And it was held in Kansas City.

Do you watch Ghost Adventures, Minions? I am a HUGE fan. I’ve met them before! At San Diego Comic Con a few years ago. Great guys. Too cool for words.

So imagine my surprise when at RT, Uncle Paul and I were walking around…and at one point I realized where we were standing.

Yeah. Fans of GAC will recognize it as the episode where they did a lock down in Kansas City Union Station. So naturally…I had to have this pic taken.

The convention was amazing. But getting home was even better because of WHO IS IN MY HOUSE RIGHT AT THIS VERY MOMENT, MINIONS.

This…is Smudge.

Now, many of you, I think, recall how difficult things have been since my lil Loki got sick and then passed on. And I’m so, so happy to share news of Smudge with you all! Thank you for the amazing support. Smudge will never replace Loki…but maybe he will help us heal. It’s not easy. Every time I cuddle him, I worry it will be the last time. Every time I pet him, I wonder if I shouldn’t get too attached. But…he already has his lil paw wrapped around my heart. So I think that maybe I should just give in, let go of the fear, and love him for all eternity. We brought him home last night. I hope he’s a part of our family for many years.

A few facts about Smudge:
1. When he meows, he sounds like a squeaky dog toy.
2. He seems to (like most kittens) have ADHD.
3. He moves around in an almost perpetual low-crawl.
4. His tail has lil stripes, as if he has some tiger in him (half Persian/half tiger…?).
5. He cannot figure out how to walk upstairs yet (but he’s only 9 weeks old, so we’re cutting him a break).

As for our other kittehs:
Amenti is shunning him completely, but HAS NOT HISSED ONCE (a huge sign of good things to come for our girl). Fang seems to adore Smudge already and keeps following him around. He even smelled his baby brother’s eyes…which Fang deems to be the highest sign of affection one can engage in.

So…yeah. Busy few weeks. Happy, happy, happy.



Cover and Title Reveal for Slayer Chronicles, Book #3!

April 29th, 2013

Minions, you’ve been so patient – far more patient, I might add, than your Auntie Heather is normally capable of. So very patient! But your patience is about to pay off. I have the cover art for the third (and final) Slayer book. And the title. And I’m going to share them with you now. And then I will implode from the awesomeness. Be sure to leave a comment and let me know what you think!

The title for Slayer #3 is THIRD STRIKE! And here’s the fab cover:

But there’s more! I’m going to share a peek at the prologue with you right now! (Before you ask, I still don’t know the official release date, but should soon) For now…here’s a glimpse at what’s waiting for you (and Joss!) in THIRD STRIKE:

PROLOGUE

Em carefully lifted the teapot from its place on the doily and poured the steaming blood into two ornate china cups. The color of the burgundy blood against the white of the china was bold and interesting, Em noted. Not like the color of blood soaked into a rug or spattered against the curtains. Perhaps it was the purity of both things, blood and china, she thought, that appealed to her in such a comforting way.

One cup had been placed in front of Em, and the other in front of her guest, who sat in the shadowed quiet of Em’s parlor. Em offered her guest some sugar, but she politely declined. Em plopped three cubes into her cup, marveling at the crystallized sugar cubes as they melted away into the blood, and sat back with a sigh, content to blow the steam from her cup of AB negative—something an old friend had once described to her as the champagne of blood types.

“How exactly will you arrange for him to be alone?” The girl’s words were softly spoken, and Em couldn’t help but wonder whether or not she was up to the task. After all, it wasn’t as if this boy, this Slayer called Joss McMillan, were someone easily disregarded. He was skilled. A dangerous quality for any human with a blood thirst for vampires. He had to be dealt with, and quickly. Em just hoped that she wasn’t choosing poorly by sending this girl to do him in. Though her advantage was obvious, she was still young.

Very young, in comparison to her youthful-looking host.

Em sipped from her cup, and as she returned it to its saucer on the table, she dabbed at her lips with a napkin before placing the napkin in her lap. Not many were subjected to this old-world side of Em—the ladylike grace and appreciation of finer things. Not many often saw beyond her youthful appearance of wild colored hair and gothic-style clothing. Few had ever been invited into her parlor, but here she was, with this girl, debating whether or not the girl had what it takes to face an enemy of skill. She was very new to vampire life, as it were. Young, naive, and certainly not well trained. Em wondered if she should have just killed Joss herself, but the thought passed quickly through her mind before it disappeared once again. No. This was the right killer for Joss—the girl had a reluctant hunger inside of her to take the boy’s life. And the boy clearly had a reluctance in him to face her. Hunting him down herself was a recipe for disaster, in Em’s eyes. Em didn’t hunt down the majority of those who have wronged her. She had people for that. People like this promising new protégée. “Everything’s been arranged. Have you been in recent contact with your drudge?”

The girl picked up her cup at last and took a healthy drink, wincing as she burned her tongue. She nodded as she bit into a thin wafer cookie in an effort to soothe her mouth. Through a mouthful of cookie, she said, “I have. My drudge stands at the ready to assist me.”

Em wrinkled her nose at the girl’s lack of manners. Truth be told, she’d killed kings and queens for less. But she liked this girl, this newborn vampire, for reasons that she could not yet identify. And so she let the girl live. For now, anyway. “I trust you know what will happen to you both if you fail to take the young Slayer’s life?”

Her hands strangely steady, her voice oddly confident, the girl looked at Em and said with a tone that conveyed that she was well aware of what was at stake here, “If I don’t kill Joss, you’ll kill us both.”

“Wrong.” Em’s lips curled into a cruel, sadistic smile. “If you fail in your task, I won’t just kill you both. I’ll obliterate your remains and lick your blood from my walls.”

There was a pause—a distinct one—before the girl responded. But when she did, her voice sounded just as confident, just as driven as Em had been hoping it would. She returned her cup to its saucer and reached for another cookie. As the sweet treat reached her lips, she smiled in a way that mirrored Em. “Don’t worry. I’m looking forward to taking Joss’s life away. He deserves it for what he did to me.”

Em released a breath in a soft sigh, settling back in her chair, satisfied. Her eyes moved casually over the walls of her suite. “That’s good to hear, young one. Because I rather do like this wallpaper. It would be a shame to have to replace it.”



Trusting Vlad and Joss

April 21st, 2013

Minions, so many of you have been writing to me lately, asking if I will write more Vlad books. I want to answer you all, to set your minds at ease, but also to share with you my thoughts as I work through the copyedits for the third and final Slayer Chronicles book. I’ll have the title and cover for you soon, I promise! But for now…there’s this.

It feels so strange to me to be putting the finishing touches on the third and final Slayer Chronicles book. [EDITED TO ADD: You may recall, Minions, that when I began writing this series, I said that there would be five books. What can I say? Things change, and now there will be only three. The third book will end just before ELEVENTH GRADE BURNS begins. It just made the most sense to end it there.] Effectively, this will end that series. Not only that, but it will sever my ties to the world of Vladimir Tod. To Elysia, to the Slayer Society, to the goths and every other character who exists there, including Bill, Tom, Principal Snelgrove, and *shudder* Eddie Poe. It’s a strange place to be. I feel as if I’m standing on the edge of a cliff with Vlad and Joss, discussing the end of things, and they’re reassuring me that it’s okay to jump off. They’re telling me I’ll be okay without them, and I’m trying to trust that I will, but DUDE…IT’S A CLIFF.

For what it’s worth, I do trust them. And I do know that I have many, many other stories, other worlds inside of me. I have no doubts that I will write books, weave together other wonderful series’, and you Minions will love them each in different ways. But knowing that doesn’t make it easy to leave behind a world one has shared with her readers for six years.

Side thought: six years? Really? Wow. EIGHTH GRADE BITES came out in August of 2007. Where has the time gone?

Many of you have asked if I will ever address the question raised in TWELFTH GRADE KILLS–the question you all ask about Snow’s eyes. Namely, “Why?”. And I’d like to think that some day, I will answer it for you. I just have to figure out how I can do just that. It’s not as simple as “write a book”, I’m afraid. But I will do what I can to find a way, and if I never get a chance to answer that question for you, Minions, I hope that you will do what you can to find an answer for yourselves.

You see, when I began writing The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod, I set out to reach a goal. I wanted to feel a bit better about having been bullied in school, about feeling like such a freak in a world of so-called “normal” people. I accomplished that goal. I wrote great books about a twisted vampire world. But once those stories were printed on pages and glued into a cover, they became your stories. It became your world to explore and enjoy. Since that time, so many of you have created amazing fanfic tales about the characters that I created. And I love that. Please keep going. Because through you, Vlad and Joss live on into eternity. Through you, Henry keeps crackin’ jokes at inappropriate times and Snow keeps being strong. Through you, Eddie Poe keeps being hungry for power, and Cecile keeps Joss’s nights interesting. These books will never cease to exist. Because of you, Minions.

[ALSO EDITED TO ADD: In the comments below, a Minion named Lydia said this: "And also, promise me something: that you would make another series that is written in third person, involves lots of blood, and has little romance. For me. For all of us." To which, I respond: Absolutely, Minion. I'm not changing who I am, and I hope that you won't change who you are. Read whatever comes next, because I can promise you that there will be outcasts, mystery, lots of blood...and a little romance. You have my word.]

So here I stand, on top of a cliff. The boy to my left has a crooked smile and fangs. His black hair is hanging in his eyes. He’s wearing Tripp pants and a black t-shirt with a red vampire smiley on it. There’s a hole in the toe of one of his shoes. The boy to my right is wearing jeans and a t-shirt. His shoulders are drawn back with false confidence, and I can see a strange sorrow lurking in his eyes. He looks like he’d be very popular with the sporty crowd, but something about him tells me he’s not. I know these boys. I love these boys. And more importantly, I trust them both completely.

I hope that you do too. And that you trust me.

Because it’s time for something new.



Libraries Rock!

April 15th, 2013

In case you didn’t know, Minions, April 14th-20th is National Library Week. A day when we celebrate how awesome libraries are and spread the word about why EVERYONE ON THE PLANET should be visiting them. But see, this week is all the more important to the Minion Horde.

Lemme ‘splain.

There’s something special about being a Minion. You’re quirky, unusual, don’t fit in with the typical crowd. You’re on the fringe, edgy, and different. Oftentimes these wonderful attributes (which your Auntie Heather shares, of course) can make it difficult for you to find a place where you feel like you belong. A place where you can be safe and comfortable. A place…made of bully kryptonite.

That place is the library. Just trust me on that.

When I was growing up, the library was the only place I could go where the bullies couldn’t touch me. My librarians were awesome and introduced me to worlds where I could escape my pain – worlds that existed in books. Without my library, I’m not sure I’d be an author today. It’s a good place, Minions. And exactly the kind of hang-out that the Minion Horde requires.

So this week, thank your librarian.

But not too loudly – people are trying to read.



Stalk Auntie Heather!

April 13th, 2013

Greetings, Minions! How are we all feeling today? Your Auntie has a bit of a headache – mostly because her sinuses and allergies are making her crazy. The weather cannot decide what to do here in Saint Louis. One moment, it’s in the 70s and sunny. The next, it’s in the 40s and overcast. It sucks. Where is Spring and what has the Fire Nation done with it???

Lately, I’ve been doing some free-writing. Nothing contracted. Nothing in a world that’s already well-established. Nothing to do with any characters that I’ve written before. Just writing. And stretching my writing muscles. And not worrying about series continuation or editing or anything like that. Just…writing.

It’s important, I think, every once in a while, to get back to the basics, and to remind myself why I do what it is that I do. Free-writing helps me with that. It helps me stay sane. It reminds me how much I love writing. And sometimes, it introduces me to worlds, characters, and events that I never would have met otherwise. Plus, it’s way fun. I recommend trying it, if you’re so inclined. Just write. Don’t think about it being published. Don’t think about becoming an author. Just tell a story to yourself and enjoy it as much as you can. Trust me. It’s amazing.

I talk about a lot of things on this blog. Some things, I’m sure, make certain people cringe. I’m open about depression, about stress, about self-doubt. I’m also open about my family, my interests, my experiences. And the truth is, I love it. I love sharing with my Minions. I love sharing bits and pieces of myself with the people who understand me most. So if I haven’t said it lately, thanks. Thanks for sharing with me, Minions. For listening to me ramble about deadlines and my kittehs and my obsession with Sims. For being there. You guys rock.

I’ve had a lot of cool stuff to offer you over the years, and I wanted to point some of them out to you again – just in case you’ve forgotten or missed it or are new to my blog or whatever. First off, there are some FANGtastic downloads on VladTod.com. Things like desktop backgrounds, e-cards, Minion Horde ID cards, etc. How cool is that?? Then, over on SlayerChronicles.com there’s a cool game called Slay-A-Fang, as well as a Slayer training manual and infiltration tips. If you’re looking for some Minion Gear (t-shirts, hoodies, mouse pads, stickers, etc.), you should head over to HighSchoolBites.com for the sweetest stuff you can find from both Elysia and the Slayer Society. See what I mean?? LOTS of cool stuff!

As you may or may not know, Auntie Heather encourages stalking. At least, I encourage you Minions to stalk me. You can find me on Facebook HERE, on Twitter HERE, and you can follow me on Instagram HERE. I’m also holding a conference on anti-bullying (featuring top-notch YA authors) this fall. It’s called Less Than Three <3, and it’ll take place in Saint Peters, Missouri on October 19, 2013. Tickets are just $10 a piece, and there’s no age restrictions at all. Come hang out with us, Minions! Tickets are selling fast, but you can grab yours on the Less Than Three website HERE. Also, if you want to stalk me in person, keep an eye on my Appearances page for where you can find me. I love interacting with my Minions!

For now, I’m getting back to a bit of free-writing before I get organized for a Less Than Three committee meeting tonight. Somewhere in there, I’ll shower and pet a kitteh or two. Maybe play some Sims.



Sick of Myself

April 3rd, 2013

It’s funny. Every winter, I experience the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder and sink into a bit of a depression due to lack of sunshine-y vitamin D and whatnot. This year, the timing of my SAD (and OMV, how stupid is it that it spells “sad”??? Who thought that gem up??) was coupled with some challenging moments in my life (yes, to those who’ve paid attention, one was the tragic loss of my kitteh, Loki, but there were other things too). So this year’s bout of depression has ended up being about six months long (opposed to three), and worse than any before. It hasn’t been this bad since your Auntie Heather was a teenager…which was about a bajillion years ago (look good for my age, don’t I?). Lately, things have been getting better (in some ways, much better), but then today, I hit a crucial point in pulling myself out of the muck.

I am absolutely sick of myself.

I’m sick of the sadness. I’m sick of the crying. I’m sick of the whining. I’m sick of the fragility. I’m sick of the weakness. I’m just sick of it all. I’m over it. I’m done. NEXT!

It occurred to me that I am better than any of this. I’m Auntie friggin’ Heather! I have awesome Minions and a cool life and a rockin’ family and amazing friends. It’s time to remember that, pull myself out of the muck, hose away the slimy film of self doubt, and kick some butt.

And you, my Minions…you’re better than this too. You’re incredible people. You make me laugh every day. You say the sweetest things. You have incredible ideas. And I just adore the stuffin’ outta you guys. Come on. Group hug. Right now. *SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEZE*

Now, wash off your monitor. I think your face smudged it a little.

Anyway. This blog post has no point. Except for the point that sometimes people need time to get over whatever. And sometimes people need a good, swift kick in the butt.

Even if it’s their own foot that’s doing the kicking.



My Chemical Romance and the Monster Moon

March 26th, 2013

(Heh…that title sounds like a truly awesome picture book…)

By now, I’m sure that most of you Minions have heard about My Chemical Romance. If not, brace yourselves…because the band broke up.

I’ve touched a bit on my feelings on Facebook and Twitter, but suffice it to say, I’m sad…but understand. (If you haven’t yet read Gerard’s wonderful letter regarding the whole thing, you should.) They are (were?) an amazing band, with an incredible message of hope to their listeners. Stay strong. No matter what. – It doesn’t get any better than that. They care. And I respect them immensely. Long live their spirit, their message, their awesomeness. Long live MCR.

Strangely, I just learned that tomorrow is what’s called a “Monster Moon”. Astrologically, it apparently means that big changes are coming – potentially devastating changes. But while the coincidence of MCR’s break-up and the MM might make a serious fan base freak out and chuck rocks at the offending orb…I’m sure it’s just that. A coincidence. Nothing more.

However.

It’s got me thinking over here. About life. but mostly, about change.

Not all changes are bad. And some changes might feel bad at the moment, but lead you to fangtastic things. (“If I never would have _____, I might never have _____.”) So, I suppose, it’s all about perspective. How we experience change depends entirely on how we choose to view it. The way I see it, there are three kinds of people in the world: 1. The person who sees the glass as half-full. 2. The person who sees the glass as half-empty. and 3. The person who screams that the glass is lying on the floor, broken, and will never, ever, ever, EVER be fixed again…EVER.

I try very hard to be that first person…and not at all to be the third. Mostly because I believe in the power of positive thinking. I believe that we can truly effect change with a positive attitude and a little (okay, a lot) of hard work. We can change the things that we don’t like about our lives, about ourselves. We just have to get off our butts and do it.

It sounds (seems?) so easy, doesn’t it? Just be positive, work hard, and things will work out. It’s a formula for success, for happiness, for peace. But there’s another factor that I struggle with. Time. You have to be patient while you’re moving forward with a positive attitude. It kinda sucks, actually. I am NOT patient. I HATE waiting. For anything. For change. For a bus. Hell, for toast to pop out of the toaster. (And, as an aside…can I just say that there is no greater moment of terror in the world than when the toast actually, finally pops up? It gets me every time.) I hate waiting. But it’s something I’m not usually given a choice about. So I wait (for change…and for toast), and hope for the best. I hope that when change finally, actually comes, that it will make the wait worthwhile.

I’ve been doing a lot of waiting lately. I’m fighting to maintain a positive attitude as I wait for my depression to subside. It sucks. Some days I see that glass lying broken on the floor, and just as I’m about to scream that it will never, ever, EVER be fixed again, the stupid toast pops up. But…I’ve realized, as I’ve read about MCR, the Monster Moon, and all the changes happening around me…if I’m patient enough, I’ll see another change. A change for me. A change in me. And I’m willing to wait by the toaster as long as it takes.

If you (like me) struggle with/suffer from depression, you don’t have to do it alone. Please reach out (help lines listed below). We’re in this together.

Besides…you’ll want to be around when that toast pops up. I make a mean breakfast. And who knows? Maybe Gerard and the boys will stop by…

National Hopeline Network: 800-SUICIDE
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK
Trevor Lifeline: 866-488-7386



Kitteh Fur and Getting Through

March 20th, 2013

Greetings, Minions! Auntie Heather here – reporting from the land of cozy jammie pants and kitteh fur (and if you think that’s a joke…well then…you clearly don’t understand my life). Spring has sprung apparently, and for whatever reason (largely because of guilt and partly because of a sense of longing to share details of my life with you), I feel the need to blog. So…what’s been going on with Auntie Heather lately?

Professionally:

I’m working on the last few edits for book 3 of The Slayer Chronicles and really enjoying this story. Maybe it’s because of Henry’s appearance in the book. Maybe it’s because the stars have just aligned for me in the way that they seem to need to with every book I write. I don’t know. I just know that you Minions are going to enjoy it. But before you ask (and you always ask this, and that’s totally cool), this book will not explain Snow’s eyes. I hope to explain Snow’s eyes in the future, but I may never do so, for whatever reason. We shall see. For now, keep reading, keep falling head over heels for characters, keep loving books. There are so many awesome stories out there, just waiting to be discovered. Some of them are written by me. Some aren’t. But you should read as many as you possibly can.

Personally:

I’ve really cut back on my appearances this year, and want to explain why. 2012, and now 2013, have proven to be emotionally challenging for me. A lot has happened and I find myself facing down a lot of personal demons—namely, depression. Now, several of you know that depression is something that I’ve faced down before. I’ve come out of the darkness triumphant, and honestly, never thought that I would ever deal with it in such an intense way ever again. After all…I’m Auntie Heather. I’m the supreme ruler of the Minion Horde, a NYT bestseller…and yet…times have been tough for me recently. It’s embarrassing, but it shouldn’t be. Depression is real, and most of us have dealt with it at one time or another. Together, we can get through it. But the first step is admitting what we’re going through. And my depression has made me take a step back and deal with some stuff – which is why my Appearances page is a bit sparse right now. Right now, as much as I love seeing you Minions, your Auntie isn’t feeling as strong or as confident as she usually is. It’s a difficult thing to admit to, but important, I think.

But it’s also an excuse. A bad one. The truth is, right now, I need to be at home with my family. With myself. So I can get back to being me.

But if you do make it to one of my appearances, I’d love a hug. You Minions mean the world to me, and I know I’m not alone in my journey – just as you are not alone in yours. We can get through this, Minions. We can get through anything. Together.

But first…let’s do something about all this kitteh fur, shall we?



Auntie is Headed to Tucson!

March 5th, 2013

Greetings, Minions! Happy news: Auntie Heather is escaping the snow and cold and gray of Saint Louis this week, and heading to Tucson, Arizona for Tucson Festival of Books! If you can get there, you should. We can hang out. And hug. I like hugs.

Also…this happened.

Also, also…I got some great reviews in my inbox today that I thought you Minions might appreciate.

First, a bit about SECOND CHANCE:
“Fans of the first book will be back for more, and this title makes a great read-alike for fans of the Vladimir Tod series and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” – VOYA

Then, two great reviews for SOULBOUND:
“This first novel in the series is an action-packed fantasy with terrific complex characters, bloody battle scenes, and a cliff-hanger ending that will leave readers waiting anxiously for the sequel.” – School Library Journal
“The strong teenage characters, romantic tension, friendships, and fast-paced action sequences will keep readers wanting more.” – VOYA

For you Minions who want MORE…the third Slayer Chronicles book is currently with my editor, and I should have a release date for you soon. As for more Tril…I’m hoping to have more info for you on that soon too.

I’ll do a more personal blog once I get back from Arizona, to catch you all up on what’s up with me, how adorable Fang has been, and what’s on my mind. For now, remember that Auntie Heather loves you, and that she is sick to death of winter. Can we PLEASE have some sunshine now? I love my deathly pallor, but still…this is about ridiculous.



   

 
 


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