Thursday, July 29, 2010


BESTSELLERSWORLD.COM review of Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider
Reviewed by Stephanie Nordkap

What do you do when something that you have written and laboured over attracts the wrong kind of attention?

Best-selling author Beth Rider is shocked one day when at one of her book signings she is approached by an evil-looking, giant of a man who gives her a warning to watch her back. And the strange thing about the entire episode is that no one else seems to have witnessed it. Beth tries to shake to it off; after all, her books about vampires are selling quickly, and everyone seems to be reading them.

Back at her hotel room, trying to relax and calm down, Beth is suddenly attacked. The man is Jack Dawn, an Elder of the Rakum, one who believes that Beth’s books, which have also been read by the Rakum, are dangerous to his people and their system of beliefs that have held for thousands of years. He draws her blood and forces her swallow his blood, marking her as a Rabbit, one his entire race can sense for miles around. She is now unable to die and can face torture from his people until they either grow tired of her or she chooses to commit suicide, if she can.

Shaken and disturbed and with no idea of the extreme circumstances she now faces, she returns home, only to be scented and marked as soon as she lands in her hometown airport. Michael Stone senses the Rabbit. He knows that Rabbits are usually traitors to the Rakum, but he is confused and shocked when he sees Beth, and senses that something is wrong. Furthermore, he feels a connection to Beth that he has never experienced with a human; a feeling to protect that is so powerful he follows her home. Michael decides to put his own life on the line and protect Beth from the Rakum he knows will surround and chase her forever, unless together they can come up with a solution that will either lead to many deaths or lead to their redemption.

I really had no idea what this book was about when I first started to read Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider. Once I realized it was about vampires, it did run through my mind that this was probably another vampire book glorifying the supernatural. I couldn’t have been more surprised, and pleasantly surprised, by the twists and turns that this supernatural tale takes.

I absolutely love it when an author can take a myth or legend from the past, in this case many were from the Bible, and weave them neatly and efficiently into a brilliant and original tale. Ms. Maze created a new and different type of vampire race in her novel whereby humans are not turned into vampires, but born into vampires. Only the Fathers can procreate using a human mother and the children are raised and trained to be ‘proper’ vampires, their talents explored and developed. They drink blood to look like humans, to interact with humans, and control many of businesses in the human world. Ms Maze pulls this off with such skill and precision, it is amazing this is her debut novel.

The emotional connections between the characters were deep and profound. Beth is a very likeable character and Stone, though it took him more time to come under the ‘spell’ of Beth’s books, was the perfect hero. The character development was remarkable and I came to care for many of the characters as they looked upon their lives and wondered if they could each be ‘redeemed’. Ms. Maze wrote with such sensitivity and compassion that I understood how many of them felt and was sympathetic to many of their plights. In one scene, when Beth shows Michael how disturbing Jeremy’s paintings are and how they reflect his perceptions of Michael and the Rakum, the horror of that realization and the dawning understanding of the attachment of humans to Rakum is just as strong for me as it was for Michael. I was horrified, disturbed, and pitied Jeremy very much. It was a very disturbing scene.

This book is definitely not simplistic in nature. Ms Maze gives us a fast-paced plot with many twists and turns, not just in the action, but also for the mind. There is definitely some pretty deep philosophy in this novel. The story deals with such issues as faith, redemption, light and darkness, mythology, and philosophy. There were times I actually had to stop reading and think about some of things she mentioned in the story. Beth’s deep faith in God kept her going through many difficult moments. It doesn’t go overboard on the Christian and philosophical elements, but they are still there, giving the reader many things to reflect upon and ponder.

If you’re looking for a book that has many elements in it (romance, suspense, thrills, fear, philosophy), then this one has it all. Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider will grab your attention from the first page and will not let go until the end, and maybe not even then. Enjoy the chase!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

BUILDING SUSPENSE in your Novel with author Ellen C. Maze

Recently, I completed my second novel, Rabbit Legacy, and began the fun-filled days of editing the work. I sent it off to three editors—two of which are also authors—and printed out a copy for myself to read aloud. I had been studying books on ways to improve your novel and one of the things I learned to recognize was places where suspense could be increased, therefore making the book better. 

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of the instances I found to increase suspense and at the same time enlarge the characters multidimensionality. See, suspense is no good on its own; it needs to be supported by context, character personality, plot, theme and progress. Here are a few places where I was able to increase suspense AND advance the plot or character development at the same time. Take a look:

(Chapter 28, excerpt)
Fifteen minutes passed before a yellow Dodge Ram pickup came barreling down the two-lane highway that ran through the park. Beryl stepped into the road and waved his arms as Ta’avah limped along the side. They played their roles well enough that the driver slowed, pulled off, and then hopped out to offer assistance.

“What happened, son? Did you have a wreck?” Thick and muscular with an ample beer belly, the driver helped Ta’avah balance and then noticed the copious amounts of blood staining Beryl’s shirt and jeans a few feet away. His eyes widened and he did a double take at the twins’ faces. When he recovered, he pointed at Beryl. “Ya’ll get in the cab. I’m taking you to the hospital right away. Come on, son. Can you walk?”

Beryl hobbled to the vehicle unaided as the husky Samaritan carefully lifted Ta’avah into the passenger seat. When he came around to the driver’s side to open the third door, Beryl reached forward and grabbed him tightly by his arms. The man was shocked by the move for the first several seconds, but as his predicament dawned on him, he began to thrash wildly against his attacker.

Beryl met Ta’avah’s eyes, who hadn’t lifted a finger to help. On the contrary, he leaned back in the seat, smiled, and crossed his arms. Undaunted, Beryl growled and stressed the man’s torso to one side fracturing several vertebrae. The truck driver screamed high and terrified as his legs buckled. Eyes still glued to his superior hidden inside his brother’s body, he held the man up with one strong arm and stabbed him in the neck with his free hand. He’d have his fill with or without the demon’s help. His victim stopped struggling moments into the attack, and Beryl drew out his blood until he could hold no more. As he was finishing, Ta’avah slipped down from the truck and casually approached. (end excerpt)

At the highlighted portion, I realized that I glazed over Beryl’s attack. Initially, I probably did that to save word count, or maybe I wrote this scene in a hurry. But either way, I did the character a disservice by not covering how he would attack such a victim. Read the expansion below and see how I was able to delve into Beryl’s state of mind, his relationship with his master, and his general worsening attitude by simply showing the reader how the attack went down.

(cont’d)….Beryl hobbled to the vehicle unaided as the husky Samaritan carefully lifted Ta’avah into the passenger seat. When he came around to the driver’s side to open the third door, Beryl considered how the attack would go down. Subduing mortals was easy enough if you surprised them. The two seconds that it took to realize the threat was plenty of time to snap a neck or otherwise immobilize for feeding. The driver was a big man and would have leverage; Beryl didn’t want to be shoved off his feet in front of his master. He limped toward the man and whimpered, his muscles tense as he prepared to lunge.

“You look all banged up, son. What happened to ya?” the man asked, his head to side, totally convinced by Beryl’s performance.

Dashing forward, Beryl reached and grabbed him tightly by his arms. The man was shocked by the move, but as his predicament dawned on him, he began to thrash against his attacker. Beryl allowed the man to struggle and met Ta’avah’s eyes. His master leaned back in the seat, smiled, and crossed his arms. Undaunted, Beryl growled and spun the man around easily, grabbing him around the chest from behind. With a sneer aimed at his master, he stressed the man’s torso to one side and fractured several of the driver’s vertebrae. His victim screamed as his legs buckled and pain ripped through his body.

Eyes still glued to his superior hidden inside his brother’s body, he held the man up with one strong arm and stabbed him in the neck with his free hand. They weren’t leaving him alive so Beryl aimed for the jugular. He’d have his fill with or without the demon’s help. His victim fell unconscious, and Beryl drew out his blood until he could hold no more. As he was finishing, Ta’avah slipped down from the truck and casually approached.
(end excerpt)

Another instance where suspense was improved was in Chapter Forty, where Beryl is trying to avoid the police. Opening up these violent scenes actually reveals the character’s growth leading up to the end of the book when he is a significantly changed person. Check out how I chose to expand this scene (it is established in the text that these quoted italics indicate telepathic exchange):

(Chapter 40, excerpt)
“I can take out the ones I see. You kill your three. Meet me behind the privacy fence gate. I have a van.” Beryl paused making sure his every word translated across.


“We’ll make a run for it.”

Silence. Beryl smirked unintentionally, sensing hesitation in his master that Meryl would never have suffered. Maybe Ta’avah was not as strong as he pretended.

Then a gun fired, muffled and from inside the bar.

Beryl jumped into action.

Faster than the eye could see, he gained on the policeman closest to him and snapped his neck. As he was falling to the ground, two of his buddies turned to come to his aid, their guns drawn and beginning to come up. Beryl didn’t allow them to complete their arc. As quickly as possible, he rushed them with arms wide, cupped the heads of each with his open palms and slammed their heads together so hard, their skulls cracked like egg shells.

In a flash, a cop rounded the corner, aimed and fired just as Beryl leapt off the ground and scrabbled onto the roof. One uniformed officer disappeared into the bar but there were at least two left outside. Had Ta’avah finished off his or had he been shot? Should Beryl make a run for it alone? (end excerpt)

During proofing, I realized that I totally cheated Beryl out of another chance to show insight into his thought processes. By adding just a few lines, I was able to increase the suspense in an already suspenseful scene, and remind the audience that being shot earlier in the work weighed heavily on Beryl’s mind. Check it out:

(cont’d)…In a flash, a cop rounded the corner, weapon trained at Beryl’s chest. The sudden recollection of being shot by Canaan’s woman caused his pulse to speed up. He so didn’t want to be shot again. The officer’s finger tugged at the trigger as Beryl leapt off the ground and scrabbled onto the roof. The spent bullet ricocheted harmlessly on the cement wall, but the radio chatter increased exponentially. Beryl sensed more units being dispatched from all over the city. Things were getting out of hand.(end except)

Now, wasn't that a hoot! There are more, but these are two to get you started. So if you write fiction and want to spice it up with a little kick of suspense, look for places where you glazed over action that could be really be expanded and do the novel good. Happy writing!

~Ellen C Maze,

Recommended text: The Plot Thickens, by Literary Agent Noah Lukeman

Thursday, July 8, 2010

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Kim Kouski sits down with Ellen C Maze

This week, I was interviewed by writer and blogger Kim Kouski about marketing your novel. It was so much fun, I want to re-post it here. You will find all of Kim's delightful and informative blogs here, as well as information on her writing endeavors. ~ ellen

"I had the pleasure of interviewing my friend Ellen Maze, the writer of Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider regarding the marketing of her novel. She has in the past given me a glimpse of her marketing techniques, but I finally nailed down the Rabbit Writer and learned her secrets and what awesome secrets she has!!!! (May I also add, she’s sold almost 800 books in 6 months.)"

Hi Kim! I’m honored to be invited back for another interview. I have called myself a self-marketing Guru and I’ll happily share everything that I’ve learned with you and your readers today.

1) What marketing techniques do you use for your books?

There are literally dozens of ways that I market my books and hundreds more that I haven’t even glanced over yet. During the course of this interview, I will name as many as I can, but let me start with the number one technique: Facebook. Yes, more than MySpace or Twitter, Facebook is every author’s best friend.

Set up a personal profile page for yourself to make friends with people, and also set up a ‘Group’ for your novels. Some authors make a personal page, a novel group, and a separate Author’s Fan page. I have found that if you have enough readers, you can make as many groups as you can imagine. And in case you didn’t know it, all of this is FREE.

Please check this link for my personal Profile Page: and this link for my Facebook Novel Group: .

Also, if you’re reading this blog and you haven’t ‘friended’ me yet on Facebook, please do!

Now, if you were paying attention, you caught me marketing right then and there. I told you about my links in an interview and then asked you to join me! This is a major part of self-marketing and self-promotion—friendly and open communication with potential readers and fellow authors!

Once you have your Facebook all set up, it’s time to set up a Twitter account, using your author name and inserting your novel’s web site into your profile there. Do the same at,,,,,, and the list goes on and on. I’ll attach a more comprehensive list of social networking sites at the end of this interview.

2) How did you make your video book trailer?

My homemade video book trailer turned out beautifully and it was my first attempt. Using the Movie Maker included in my PC, I taught myself the program and had it completed in about five hours. Because of copyright laws, every part of the video had to belong to me—music, photos, and text—so I took the time to make it all legal. I went downtown and took the appropriate photos, my musical husband wrote and played the music, and my graphic artist daughter did the titles and book cover. All in the family, we made a $300 book trailer for nothing. Here’s a link to the trailer (please watch ) .

My publisher, Outskirts Press, also made me a video book promo for $95. It is plain but gets the job done. Here’s a link to that one:

I have signed with a publicity company recently called Apex Reviews (ya’ll jot that company down. You’re going to want to use them when the time is right!), and they are making me a 3rd video book trailer. I haven’t gotten it back yet, but for less than $75, they provided a host of services included a professional book review, listing on dozens of web sites and blogs, and this trailer. I recommend the usage of these publicity companies when you are self-publishing. Some other pay-companies I have used and liked: Premium Promotional Services and Kingdom Expansion . So far, I’ve never paid more than $75 a pop for their services, and to me, that is very reasonable considering the exposure they provide an independently published book.

3) Which marketing techniques have you used that work well for you?

As aforementioned, Facebook has had the largest impact and found me the most readers. But I have to work the system there and that is a talent in itself. Another biggie that is just as important, if not more so, is for every serious author to set up an author profile on You must sell your book on Amazon, and you can publish a Createspace Kindle version for FREE. Seriously. Buy this book: SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON. If you follow even 50% of his advice, you will see your title on dozens of different web sites within the first few hours, and it is perpetual. I still see reviews and lists I created on Amazon last year create new online searches for my work now. Amazing exposure for FREE!

Listen up friends—for self-promotion, you’ll dedicate 10 to 20 hours a week promoting a new title, and 10 hours a week between new books. It has to be done. Even authors published by the larger houses do these steps. It’s the only way in this tough economy and isn’t likely to change. If you don’t have it in you, ask your sister to do it for you. Maybe you’ll get lucky.

4) Which ones would you not recommend or tell others to avoid?

I do not recommend paying hundreds of dollars for services you can do yourself. Unless money grows in your backyard, don’t pay for reviews. You can get book reviews for FREE if you seek out your reading audience and find the bloggers who like your genre. With a little cyber-footwork, you can find literally dozens of reviewers who will read and review your book for you for the cost of mailing them a book.

5) Do you do book signings and do they work well for you?

I love book signings. To make it successful, advertise it as much as you can beforehand. On all your social web sites, as well as local print papers if possible. Put up a poster in the store a week or so before and leave bookmarks for the cashiers to put into customers’ bags leading up to the event. Then, go to the signing prepared to meet only one reader. You might meet more, but maybe not. To fill the time, take some drawing paper (people LOVE to watch people draw), set out snacks (people in bookstores are hungry), set out bookmarks (people love free stuff), and if all else fails, pull out a manila pad and start writing the sequel. There’s one fact you just can’t skirt—if you want to sell more of your first book, write another one!

6) What is the hardest part of marketing your book that you have encountered?

Hmmm. Good one. The biggest challenge is the time element. Ideally, we’d all be able to spend 100% of our day writing the next great novel. But these marketing steps must be taken, and unless you’ve hired a publicist (Milton Kahn and Asso. For a 3-month campaign, $15,000: nice folks, great work, hefty price tag. But he’ll get you on Oprah! ), you will have to put in the hours. I have heard it boils down to 50% time spent writing, 40% time spent marketing, and 10% time left for the rest of your life. But what can we do? We were born to write!

7) Does one need a lot of money to market their book?

NO. 99% of my marketing efforts are FREE or only cost me the price of one of my books. The time is what costs the most. Networking and meeting authors, readers, and movers of the industry who can help nudge your book ahead in the ratings.

8 ) How would a newbie writer who has the book in her hands start marketing her book?

Make sure you have a bang-up professional web site. The web site doesn’t have to cost anything, just be professional and easy to navigate. My site is fun and its look matches my unique personality. Check it out here: I don’t think you should pay more than $100-$150 to have one built, so shop around. It used to cost upwards of $500 for a simple site, but there are so many web designers out there now that they had to come down. My sister, Marty Hersh, is a professional designer and she will create you one for around $100. She designed all of my sites, although I changed the look of them along the way, she set me up and taught me how to maintain them myself. Here is her web address:

Get set up on all those Top social web sites I mentioned. Seek your audience on those sites. Say your on Facebook and you wrote a book about vampires. Search the Twilight, Trueblood, Sookie, Vampire Diaries, Cirque Du Freak, etc. groups and join them. Start talking about your book to these people in a friendly and open way. Send friend requests to hundreds of them and build your online presence.

9) You once said you go to where folks are talking about your book. Can you expand on this and what do you do? How does this help?

OMGee this is important. Go to and set up your google alerts. You will be able to make Google alert you whenever anyone on the internet searches your book title, name, or any other word phrase you request. Also called, internet clipping service, it’s a way to know when you or your book is being discussed in cyberspace.

Let me go through the steps to find the alerts, as they are hidden on the main screen. Go to . In the top line, near the middle, the highlighted choice is ‘more’… drop that down and all the way to t bottom is ‘even more’. Select ‘even more’. The first option on the left is ‘alerts’. Click this and follow the instructions. It’s that simple! I have alerts for all my book titles and my author name. Now I know when a store in India is selling my book AND if some woman in Newark, NJ is blogging about it!

10) I haven’t published my book yet, but I’d like to create a following so when I sell it, I’ll be ready. What you recommend for me?

Go ahead and start up a fan club on facebook! Present yourself as an author, tell them about your book, and when you suspect it will be published, if you know. When I started my facebook group, I had no idea that I’d be self-publishing my first book. I just knew I was submitting my novels to publishers and would soon find a taker. I had collected 200 fans before I even had a date for the first release! I’d like to have a thousand fans, but right now, it is at about 560. Half-way there…

Also, create a blog that chronicles your writing efforts. The more you mention your name and your titles on the internet, the more searchable you become. Ideally, when someone Googles your book title, your book title will take up the first 10 or 12 pages of Google searches. When I began my marketing efforts, one Ellen C Maze came up for my novels. Now, if you Google RABBIT: CHASING BETH RIDER (Published in Nov 2009), you will find that the first 15 pages are dedicated to stories regarding that book. I have my marketing efforts to thanks and it didn’t happen by itself!

11) Anything else you can think of.

I want to say, be kind to each other. Go to and meet some authors of books or genres you like. Befriend them and try to get them to read and review your book. You can exchange reviews if you like. Make as many friends online and in person as you can, because people don’t like to buy from a snob or a morose person. Be happy, smile a lot, and put yourself out there. Don’t be too private –readers get a thrill from being able to ‘friend’ you on facebook and email you personally. When you’re self-published, word-of-mouth is so important. So, be excellent to each other.

12) As always, you’re the bomb, baby!! Thanks.

Thank you Kim! Here is a list of social web sites your readers might like to copy and paste: (Either google them by this name, or add .com to the back)
Just to name a few…

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

TOP MOVIES OF THE SUMMER w/earning totals!

July 6, 2010 SUMMER MOVIES Round Up with Gary Susman

The movies I've seen have a highlighted review out to the side! --ellen 

The full top 10 (four-day totals):
1. 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' $82.5 million (4,468 screens), $175.3 million total
2. 'The Last Airbender,' $53.2 million (3,169), $70.5 million
3. 'Toy Story 3,' $42.2 million (4,028), $301.1 million [2-THUMBS WAY UP-ellen]
4. 'Grown Ups,' $26.5 million (3,534), $85.1 million
5. 'Knight & Day,' $14.0 million (3.104), $49.3 million [2-THUMBS WAY UP –ellen]
6. 'The Karate Kid,' $11.5 million (3,109), $155.0 million
7. 'The A-Team,' $4.3 million (2,153), $70.4 million [2-THUMBS WAY UP-ellen]
8. 'Get Him to the Greek,' $1.7 million (884), $57.9 million
9. 'Shrek Forever After,' $1.3 million (957), $232.6 million [Pretty good –ellen]
10. 'Cyrus,' $1.0 million (77), $1.7 million

Top 10 movies of summer 2010:
1. 'Iron Man 2,' $308.5 million [2-THUMBS WAY UP –ellen]
2. 'Toy Story 3,' $301.1 million
3. 'Shrek Forever After,' $232.6 million
4. 'The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,' $175.3 million
5. 'The Karate Kid,' $155.0 million
6. 'Robin Hood,' $104.0 million
7. 'Sex and the City 2,' $93.7 million
8. 'Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,' $88.4 million
9. 'Grown Ups,' $85.1 million
10. 'The Last Airbender,' $70.5 million

•Follow Gary Susman on Twitter @garysusman.