Monday, May 25, 2015

The Evolution/Anatomy of a Vampire Book Cover

The Four Stages of Evolution of our Vampire covers

The Evolution/Anatomy of a Vampire Book Cover  

Have you ever walked past a shop window, and something caught your eye so amazing that you just stop in an instant? You know, the kind of instant that your head stops, suddenly snaps sideways towards the window, but your feet keep moving for another step, and you have to reel them under you before you fall?
That, my dear friend is what a writer looks for in a cover. And let me tell you, it’s not an easy process to perfect. As struggling penniless writers, we don't have the cash for editors, proof readers AND cover designers... something has to go, and in the push for the perfect interior product, most of us Indie writers do our own covers.
Here’s the history of our vampire covers since 2013…

The "Screaming Red" cover set.

Vampire High School "Screaming Red".

With the idea and series definitively called “Vampire High School” we screamed through the first two books in about eight weeks… at breakneck speed. Since neither of us had any money to spend on someone else’s covers, I set to the task. First we had the “Screaming Red” cover set. I did all the artwork, and I thought at the time they were pretty cool, but even now, just two years later, they’re definitely jaded. Volume one had the front of the 'actual' Vampire High School (complete with ‘go hawks’ logo) and a screaming Mandy Cross. Volume two had the row of books referring to the Helsing Diaries title. Again I thought I was being clever, but now looking back, more like presumptuous maybe. The third volume had guys in HazMat costumes, the Rage Wars… blah.
When the covers are reduced to thumbnails on Amazon or on your tablet device, you’d never see that detail anyways! Oh how we live and learn.

The Newer, Whiter Version of the "Bloodspill" Cover Set

All Change at the Vampire Office.

Then we wrote more books, decided that the sexual antics the 'kids' were getting up to were a bit more than high school territory. The 'kids' were all in college and emotions and libidos were running high. We also started a new book, intended to be a trilogy, a darker tale called Vampires Don’t Cry, and decided to put all the books under the same banner. Then April decided that she’d use her real name and a whole new concept was developed. I call it the ‘bloodspill’ series. Well, now the covers now had a definite ‘theme’ to them, but for some reason sales dropped, perhaps people being confused with the new Vampires Don’t Cry banner, April’s name change, the new covers, whatever. We persevered for a year, but the sales never picked up to previous levels. I changed them again, 'whitening' them up a bit, but to no avail.
Then April found herself a man, and stopped writing. Agh! I hear you cry. I did too, but I didn't hang my head for long. We'd written the first few chapters of 2 new books and something had to be done, I couldn't leave them hanging indefinitely. So I set to work myself. I’d edited enough of April’s Mandy to pick up the slack, and I did, finishing 3 more books on my own. As far as I know, no-one’s ever noticed.

The Brand new, still "wet paint" cover set

The Ezmeralda Von Katz Miracle

In the renfest world in which we sell our jewelry, we meet some fantastic people. One of these is Ezmeralda Von Katz. She has so many characters/costumes, and she never looks the same way twice. She posted some stuff on facebook, and both she and Steve Gray Photography said we could use the images for books…. she's amazing. The old-fashioned Vampires Don’t Cry books got a whole new cover set, but at first she never had anything we could use for the modern present-day stuff, (the original Vampire High School series) so we persevered some more.
Sales were still low, but I had no recourse, Then we got our latest set of pics… brilliant for teenage cheer-leading rebel Mandy Cross. I even thought of being clever and putting castles and blood and teeth behind her, then just said… “No, Ian, just keep it simple”.
Tell us what you think. Have we got a cover set to be proud of?
Ezmeralda Von Katz in all her glory
Follow Ezmeralda here...

Get Vampire High School here.

Our vampire eBooks are available everywhere eBooks are sold, Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony, Apple, etc.

Here's a FREE Introduction to our vampire stories...

Click the book to be taken to Amazon/Kindle for FREE download

Monday, September 15, 2014

Writing Your Own Vampire Novel... NO GLITTER! (To France and Romania!)

Writing Your Own Vampire Novel
(And a HUGE "hello" to our readers in France and Romania!!)

Yup, it's me... the teeth didn't quite fit tho...

Your World’s rules.
Every writer imposes rules over his writing style. Some write in the first or second person, some take differing perspectives on their narrator’s ability to either interfere or remain aloof from the story. You as a writer, whether you know it or not, have your own writing style. But the rules for your ‘World’ where your characters live are a different matter entirely.

When we write in the vampire genre, we have to consider our take on the myriad of already ‘accepted’ rules which typify the subject matter; the walking out in sunlight, the garlic, the neck-biting blood-taking, the sleeping in coffins, and so on. There are as many differing worlds as there are authors, and there are thousands of those.
In the book above, hopefully we take a look at them all.

Book 1... we currently have five in the series
In our vampire series, Vampires Don’t Cry, we decided to just tell the story, and let the reader catch onto the rules as we hit them. We decided against the ‘vampires can’t walk in sunlight thing as a bit silly. If Darwin’s laws of natural selection had been applied to the new, superior vampire sub-species, then anything with such an obvious disadvantage as a dislike of sunlight would have died out already.
Sleeping in a coffin had the same debilitating weakness, so as our vampire characters had no need to avoid daylight, then sleeping in coffins seemed redundant. For purely altruistic reasons we decided that ‘turnings’ could be done without sex, but better if coitus was involved somehow, I mean, we all need a bit of spice, right? And turning into bats? Well that just wasn’t scientifically possible, so we discarded it like a blackened banana into the trash can.

For a reader to enjoy the vampire genre, he or she has to suspend disbelief to a certain extent anyway, but we decided not to go too far. We didn’t want vampires to be known in the popular culture of their world, they’re not ‘accepted’ like those on True Blood, and they certainly can’t buy blood from vending machines or in a bar. We wanted our vampires to retain some secrecy, to have a dark mysterious side.

And we certainly didn’t want them to glitter/sparkle. Do you know that of the thousands of vampire fans I’ve spoken to, none of them like the sparkle thing.
NONE of them! NOT ONE!

So, we have a problem. With their super speed, super strength, and ability to have humans conform to their will, what stops them becoming rulers of the entire planet in our Vampires Don’t Cry series? Well, apart from the fact that if they did take over the world, they'd be systematically destroying their own food source, we did two things. We gave them a weakness, a hyper-activeness which they are incapable of avoiding when they gather in large groups, which makes them vulnerable to attack.
And we gave them an enemy, The Helsing Organization, hell bent on their destruction, but also researching an antidote for their condition.

FREE download on Kindle/Amazon...

A taster of our ‘world’, Vampires Don’t Cry: Blood Samples, is available on eBooks for free at
And the book, How to Write Your Own Vampire Novel, is only a couple of bucks and change. I hope you enjoy the world we made.
Come and see us at

Sunday, August 17, 2014

A Connecticut Vampire... Lost in Time and Space in Tudor England

Time Traveler by Misfortune, Survivor by Instinct
Cover of A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur's Court

Imagine you’re a vampire; a present-day, modern vampire.
You are at the pinnacle of human evolution, you are faster and stronger than any human athlete, and will outlive every human on the planet... as long as you keep your head on your shoulders, stop people slamming a wooden stake through your beating heart, or stay out of burning buildings
You do not fear a normal human's death; you simply wake up a few hours later, usually still at the scene of your demise, or on the coroner’s stainless steel table. You rise, you escape, and you slip back into your vampire lifestyle, with nothing missed.
Wounds that would scar a human for life, heal in hours, leaving your skin flawless.
You are immune from bacteria and disease, incapable of prolonged pain, and have the hypnotic ability to elicit total control over normal humans.
And to make matters far better, you live in an age when people are reading about vampires all the time, while at the same time not believing in them in real-life for a single second.
You are virtually immortal.
Life is good.
Good, with a capital G.

Then imagine yourself the same cock-sure vampire thrown back in time 500 years.
Back to a time where every man in the land carried a weapon, usually of the thin sharp steel variety, or worse still, the sharp wood variety.
And to make matters worse, you've arrived at a time where, although the people are rabid church-goers, they're also fanatically suspicious, and are perfectly able to believe in demons, and monsters from hell... and lets face it, you look very suspicious!
You are suddenly rather nervous regarding the inviolability of your supposed immortality.
But it gets much, much worse…
Imagine, in this Tudor England, when you kill someone, a ‘shimmer’ happens around you, rendering you immobile and vulnerable for several seconds… a shimmer which only you feel… a shimmer which places you completely at the mercy of those sharp weapons.
Your supposed vampire imperviousness is stripped from you, leaving you to rely on other traits to survive.
Under these conditions enters Richard DeVere, present-day Connecticut born and bred. A vampire suddenly transported to a strange time of which he has little knowledge, his normal advantages stripped from him.
You have entered the world of “A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur’s Court”, the latest novel from Ian Hall.
Available as an eBook everywhere, and a paperback at
Get more information at:

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Vampires Don’t Cry: Vampire High School... words of wisdom from Mandy Cross

Hi. My name’s Mandy Cross. That’s a pic of me above. It’s not a look I wear all the time, but when it’s time to rebel, I’m kinda good at it.
I’m a vampire, although as with lots of us out there, I didn’t exactly volunteer for the position. In fact, I was swept off my feet by the resident vampire douche-bag, Alan McCartney. Nothing out of the ordinary there, he was recruiting for some kind of war, and decided I had the right characteristics to join his side.
Don’t get me wrong, being a vampire has its highs. The added stimulus while having sex is superb, and that’s almost enough for most people, but there is also the extra speed and the super strength. Superman doesn’t come close to most of my cohorts. But then there’s the constant living with death thing. Damn it, I helped kill my mom and dad minutes after being turned, although I blame Alan for that, he should have reined me in more.
Hey Mandy! Bam, you’re a vampire, drink some of this! Then mom and dad are dead, their heads ripped off, my bedroom looks like a crimson grenade had exploded, and I’m left to deal with the fallout on my own. After Alan had his fun, he decides to piss off, leaving me to deal with the changes in my body, while he courts his next victim. Typical douche. Thanks Alan, mate.
Anyway… the new book, Vampires Don’t Cry: Vampire High School. I’ve never read it, but it seems I’m portrayed as the dark smoldering bad girl, and I don’t mind that. I never wanted to be a good girl anyway, although I can’t see me making it to the last page. There’s a feeling of doom hanging over me now, like a death cloud or something.
I’ll leave Lyman Bracks to be the hero, him and his new girlfriend, Mary Christine. Not that I want anything to do with them, of course, they’re vampire hunters, and it seems they’ve landed in the right place. Pick up Gregor Academy (Vampire High), turn it upside down, and shake, you’ll see all of Alan’s fang-mates come falling out. A right little den of vipers.
Anyway, I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.
I wonder who’ll play me in the movie?

Read all about Mandy's exploits in the Vampires Don't Cry series, here at Amazon, or all good eBook sellers everywhere.

Or visit us at

Thursday, May 15, 2014

FREE Vampire Book: What’s in an Amazon Top Rank?

What does the Amazon Ranking System mean?
Well, sometimes it actually means quite a lot.

Scenario 1; An excellent author has done his job, and written a fine outstanding novel. The editors have taken the book, and sought out every mistake, and the “Comma Police” have trampled on every sentence making certain that no extra punctuation marks mar the structure. The cover has been painted by Van Gogh, and the title fonts have been carved in gleaming white marble by Michelangelo. The back-flap has reviews by the Queen, Gandhi, and God himself, and the preface was written by William Shakespeare. The book then sold 50,000 copies per day for six months, made every concerned very rich and got added to every bestseller list in the world.

This is what that ranking would look like;
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1 in Kindle Store #1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks

Okay, okay, I know it doesn’t usually go like that, but a good Amazon Best Seller Rank could give that impression. Of course, it could be a very different story… (Yes, I know authors like this… and they know who they are!)

Scenario 2: This author has no writing skill whatsoever, but he thinks he has. He surrounds himself with a lot of rabid friends who tell him so every day, who then dash onto Amazon and write a number of superb five-star reviews, basically telling lies about the book’s contents. The editors have never gotten a hundred miles from the book, because the author is either so egocentric to think it’s already perfect, or has such a fragile ego that he can’t stand any form of critique at all. The book has been dropped in the “FREE” section of the Amazon Kindle store, with a bunch of naked torsos on the front cover advertising the “smuttiest porn you have ever read” while somehow maintaining a strict holier-than-thou attitude. Yes, it looks like porn, and it’s been downloaded a few thousand times. But this author has a secret weapon. He’s mastered the art of the Amazon Ranking System. Believe it or not, in Amazon you can actually pick your own genre to link your book to. And you can make it so specialized, that even with the three million books that Amazon sells, there’s only about ten books in the category. SO… even if your book is totally CRAP, and you’re the lowest book in that rare section, you’ll still show up as ranked number TEN.

As an example, here’s one of my own rankings in such a rare section.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #21,109 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store) #10 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Anthologies & Literature Collections > Horror

You see, there’s not much call for Literary Horror Anthologies, trust me. And this is how some authors look good on Amazon, while their actual product is way below par.

My own book? The one with the #10 ranking?
It’s here…

Come see me at
Oh, and if you see any mistakes that the editors missed? Shh! It’ll be our little secret!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Can Vampires Survive without the Long Story Arc?

Since the 1860’s, Varney the Vampire had enthralled readers with a weekly chapter in a vampire series. People from all walks of life read the Penny Dreadful, and passed it around. But it didn’t last. The world wasn’t ready.
From the 1920’s vampire lore has plastered our silver screen with re-make after vampire re-make, re-hashing every concept under the sun (or hiding away from it), and providing the vampire lover with so many worlds to dream of. But not until Hammer Horror in the 50’s and 60’s, with Christopher Lee as the lead vampire and Peter Cushing as the consistent ‘Helsing’ variant, did the movies even think about heading into the ‘series’ category. For a decade, the fans were content.
In the Black-and-White ages of television, shows like The Munsters, and The Adams Family tried to keep us enthralled, but fell comically short. The viewer watched each episode like opening a new bottle of wine. In the days before video recorders, TiVo, and the DVD hard drive, it was essential to keep each episode free-standing, so that if we missed one, it didn’t matter, we didn’t actually miss anything important. Then, in the dawn of the video recorder, around 1971, things began to change, people could record episodes when they were out, on vacation etc, and TV series began to have two part stories, and include details from previous episodes. The beginning of the long arc had surfaced.
In books too, writers had made the trilogy the mainstay of the long-arc novel, and it took guts to extend the series beyond that iconic number three. But again, mirroring television, the novel was about to change. With the advent of cable television, the need to draw an audience grew, but a loftier goal was the keeping of an audience, and for that the television companies needed a hook to draw you back to a certain channel on a certain day at a specific time. The long plot arc was born through financial necessity, and it’s here to stay.
The television screens show vampire series.
The movies show vampire series.
Today, we cannot imagine a television series without a long-arc plot. In fact, if the long arc is not presented quickly in the series, therefore giving us something to get our collective teeth into, we swiftly turn off, and watch somewhere else. There is a burning need to have a mystery behind every show, whether it be science fiction, horror, or soap opera. In books today, we have so many series available in every genre that it is difficult to conceive of a single standalone novel anymore. Some authors do not even publish until they’ve completed at least two connected books. The age of the series is firmly upon us, and I for one am all in favor.
So, in summary, I ask the question. Do you, the book reader, read single vampire books anymore, or do you hone in on a series?
In either case, tell me about your best stand-alone, your best series, the one of which you cannot wait on the next volume.
Come see us at

Monday, February 10, 2014

FREE Vampire eBook: Vampires Don't Cry: Blood Samples

We released a new FREE eBook; Vampires Don't Cry: Blood Samples.
We decided to consolidate out two free shorts into one book, so we threw them in a food processor.
We then threw in the first four chapters of some other vampire works, gave it a good shake, and then switched the power on.
Instant blood!
We called the new book; Vampires Don't Cry: Blood Samples.
It includes;
The whole of New Blood 1: Donny Kelp
The whole of New Blood 2: The Turning of Alan Rand
Segments/samples of Vampires Don't Cry: Original Sin, (The Valerie Lidowitz story)
The first Four Chapters of Vampire High School (Vampires Don't Cry: Book 1)
The first four chapters of A Connecticut Vampire in King Arthur's Court (Connecticut Vampire #1)
The book is available FREE in most eBook stores, Nook, Kobo, Apple, Sony, although Amazon sees to be slow in getting the FREE book message.... so you can pick up a FREE Kindle version at Smashwords;
(Click the book cover below to go to Smashwords for your FREE download.
We hope you like our writings, and become a reader of our vampire world.