Sunday, September 16, 2012

Death's Valley launches soon! Please vote on Cover.

Hi all,

Death's Valley will be launching soon.  I would love your feedback on the potential covers I have posted on my Facebook author page.  Also, if you don't mind, please "Like" my page.  Much appreciated on both counts.

I will have a drawing from those who vote on the best cover and give away a signed paperback copy to the winner.  Thanks!

Death's Valley covers on FB

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Poor Advertising and Wasted Money

Funny television commercials I like. Stupid commercials, no. And then there are those commercials that are so aggravating that you have to mute the television or just turn the station. Same thing with the radio. Why repeat a toll free number six or seven times within a 30 second segment? On the radio, really? Like I'm going to write it down as I drive. Well, maybe they're targeting "text while driving" crowd. But repeating the number over and over is so irritating. Station changed after the first time. A simple button push or insert music CD. To me, the marketers are wasting millions of dollars a year on dumb commercials that people won't listen to. Want to throw away that kind of money, they should simply mail me the check. I'll remember the product for certain then. =)

I almost started this with, "Do you ever wonder why . . . ?" But I thought people might think I was channeling Andy Rooney.  =P

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Bring Your Story to Life

How can you make your story come to life in your readers' minds?

When you're writing a novel or short story, always keep in mind your five senses: smell, sight, hearing, taste, and touch.  Your character, unless blind or deaf, has these senses and how you use them makes a huge difference in whether you have a bland story or one that makes your readers feel like they are with the characters in another city or world.  Visualization is key.  You want color and texture.

For me, the story plays out in my head as if I am watching a movie.  I see everything.  I feel like I am in the background listening to their conversations.  I eavesdrop and quickly write down what is going on.  Later, when I am revising, the places come alive in my mind again.  Only now that I have down the initial story can I take my time to flesh it out more.

Devils' Den is my novel about a teenage boy (Justin McKnight) who gets lost in a haunted cave (Devils' Den) and finds himself in another realm.  It's a world of elves, dwarves, fairies, and an evil wizard that wants to take over the Underworld.  Here's an excerpt:

   ---The air inside Devils’ Den was damp and cool.  The wet cave walls glistened.  Water dripped into small blackish pools along the edge of the pathway.
     Justin’s light dimmed, brightened, dimmed, as he walked deeper into the cave.  He tapped the back of the light several times.  He assumed the light suffered more from a bad connection than dying batteries because the batteries were new.  The flashlight flickered but his burning curiosity lured him deeper into the cave.
      He no longer looked for the bullfrog.  The amphibian should have become too sluggish to travel this deep into the cave.  It had probably squeezed into a hole that he had stepped over without noticing.  On his way out, he’d look among the wet rocks and crevices for it.
     The flashlight dimmed.  Justin slapped the end harder than before.  The light’s intensity increased several seconds before fading again.  He decided to turn back and get the larger flashlight.  He didn’t understand why his grandfather had dramatically exaggerated about the cave.  Nothing he’d seen so far had proven to be dangerous.  The snake at the pond had scared him worse than the cave.
     The path’s gradient grew steeper with each step he took, but he had not come down a descending slope.  The path had been level without any deviation and now it was strangely different.  The wall formations didn’t look familiar, either.  He wished he had marked the walls with a piece of limestone to guide him back to the entranceway.  The glow of the flashlight didn’t reveal any scuffed footprints left by his tennis shoes.
     A cold, howling breeze flowed from the cave depths.  It brushed past, chilling him.  His short sleeve shirt wasn’t enough to keep him warm.
     Justin wondered how deep into the cave he had walked.  No outside light filtered in.  He was certain he hadn’t traveled more than twenty yards.  Turning off the flashlight, he stood in pitch-blackness.  Now the darkness frightened him.  Without the assurance of a quick exit from the cave, he feared he was lost.  He turned the light back on and hurried up the path.
     Tears of desperation heated his eyes when he came to a crossroad of intersecting paths he hadn’t passed earlier.  He was lost.  He didn’t know which path to take.  If he chose the wrong direction, he’d wander in complete darkness after the flashlight eventually stopped working.
     The wind swirled and moaned.  Drifting in the air was the soft whispering, anguished cries of tortured souls.  Their pain-filled chorus was faint and in languages unfamiliar to him.
Justin shone the flashlight down each tunnel.  Shadows slinked deeper out of the light’s reach.  He wanted to believe the flickering light played tricks with the darkness, but he remembered the drawing, the solemn threat, and that the tree he had drawn towered outside the cave.  He no longer felt alone.  Something else lurked inside the dark tunnels.
     The frigid air hung still, silent.  Fog escaped his mouth as he contemplated which direction to take.  He chose the path straight ahead and hoped he found the entrance before darkness swallowed him.
     The path descended, narrowed, and turned sharp to the right.  The tight crevice required him to squeeze and contort his body.  Midway through the turn, he was wedged and unable to move.  He sucked in a deep breath and bent slightly back, freeing himself.---

There's a lot of description based on Justin's five senses, which adds texture and enlivens the cave's environment and Justin's emotions.

Using the five senses is a great way to pull a reader into your story.  Like I mentioned before, this usually doesn't occur during the first draft, but later, sometimes during my tenth or hundredth time through a manuscript.

I hope this is a tip that will help you while writing your novel.


Leonard D. Hilley II

Devils' Den                 Currently $0.99 on Amazon Kindle

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Haunted Barn

Things in life don't always have explanations.  Curiosity makes life interesting, and a vivid imagination takes you to worlds not seen.

As kids, my brothers, sisters, and I loved to explore the pasture and woods behind our house in rural Alabama.  Our imaginations often got the best of us.  Perhaps part of that was due to the stacks of scary comics our father bought from Harco's Drug Store.

From our backyard we could see the old rundown house that the pasture owner had turned into a barn to store hay.  It was creepy.  The tin roof buckled and sagged in the middle. The windows were gone and on the top right side of the house, half the wall was missing.  Just looking at it made us fear what might lurk inside.

Whenever one of our dogs had pups, the prime birthing place was always under the old barn.  Always.  I was only five or six years old when my father made me crawl under that old house porch and retrieve a litter of fat pups.  I did so and as I brought out the last pup, I found a black and white Polaroid picture of the house with a man and woman in front of it.  Of course, this made the theory of ghosts seem even more likely--to us kids.  And strange things did occur from time to time.

Once my brother, sister, and I stood on the old dirt road.  My brother said for us to study the barn really hard.  We did.  Then we turned our backs to it.  A few seconds later, we turned around and all of us noticed the same thing; one of the boards that protruded out the front was missing.  It was gone.  When we looked around the outer edge of the barn, we didn't find the board.  We also never figured out how we had seen the same thing vanish that apparently wasn't there to start with.  Our only explanation as kids was to assume the place was haunted.

Early one morning, my older brother and I got the courage up to go inside the old barn and look around.  Inside the front door we saw a set of stairs to the second floor.  An old chimney stood in the center of what must have once been the living room.  My brother told me to go to the chimney while he went upstairs.  He said that he'd knock on the chimney and to tell him if I heard it.  I agreed but never heard any echo from the bricks (of course, one shouldn't).  A few minutes later, he asked me to head upstairs.

Timidly, I walked up the creaky stairs.  When I reached the top I was standing in the room with the missing wall.  The morning breeze rushed through and down the stairs.  An old rusted bed frame was in one corner.  Old clothes hung on a metal wire that crossed the room.  It was interesting to see all the old pieces of furniture left behind by the previous owners.  All this, and no ghosts?  I was somewhat disappointed and partly relieved.

All of us have grown up and gone our separate paths in life, but a part of me, that curious little kid, still keeps me here writing, questioning.  Now in my mid-forties, I love that I've never forgotten those "mysteries" of childhood that always had me asking, "What if?"  I still ask the questions and my muse delivers the answers in suspenseful tales.  So far that has worked out pretty well.

Thanks for stopping by!

Leonard D. Hilley II

Predators of Darkness: Aftermath   $.99 on Kindle.

Devils' Den                                          $.99 on Kindle.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Venturing into Twitterville

I have had a Twitter account for a long time and never really knew what to do with it.  After some good advice from another author, I am trying to venture into this strange new land. 

For those of you who are avid reading bookworms and are following me:  Thank you so much!

I am still learning about Twitter, but I know enough NOT to spam all you dear people to death about my books.  I had one author Tweet six different books of his in less than one minute.  Before he could rack up more the next minute, I "unfollowed" him.  Spam is NOT cool, so I promise you won't be bombarded by constant "Buy My Book" messages.  I will point you to my blog, FB author page, or some other humorous tidbit when something new or interesting comes up.  But I promise not spam like the author was doing with his books.  After all, I want you to like me and get to know me.  Not unfollow me.

For updates on my novels, you can follow this blog.  Or, stop by my author page on FB: Leonard D. Hilley II/author page and "Like" my page.  Unlike the old Myspace, you practically have to beg people to hit that Like button.

This month I will be requesting votes for the new cover of Death's Valley.  And someone will win a paperback copy of the novel after it's published.

If you're a new fan of my books, or Morton the cat has captured your heart, please tell others about my novels.  Word of mouth is often the best promotion an author can get.

As always, my best to you!

Leonard D. Hilley II

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Books on Sale!!!

Welcome to September, my friends and readers!

The Kindle editions of Predators of Darkness: Aftermath and Devils' Den are both priced at $0.99 at or you can borrow them through Prime services.  The others in my Darkness series are $2.99.  Great prices for books you can read over Labor Day weekend.

The prices for my paperbacks are now $12.95.  Paperbacks of these are also available at Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Books-A-Million, and through your local book store.

Happy reading!


Leonard D. Hilley II