Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy birthday, CRY WOLF!

One year ago today, CRY WOLF was published by Carina Press, and I thought I would celebrate by reminiscing about my writing process. To all who have read it, thank you. To those who haven't yet, I hope you'll give it a try! Let's throw confetti around. Grab some imaginary cake and pull up a chair. CRY WOLF only officially turns 1 once!

Some fun facts about CRY WOLF:

• The story of CRY WOLF was inspired by the Beast of Bray Road — a real urban legend (or a real monster? Hmmm…) in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Eyewitnesses began reporting sightings of a werewolf-like creature in the 1980s, and sightings continue until this day. Being a diehard fan of “The X-Files,” these sightings took root in my mind and led to all kinds of fun ideas. Books have been written about the creature, and a really bad B-movie called “The Beast of Bray Road” took the case in a new and very exploitatively weird direction. Now, I like bad movies, but this movie was just bad. Which leads me to...

• CRY WOLF was originally set in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, and Andrea and Sean were investigating the Beast of Bray Road. When I walked into my local Blockbuster one day in 2005 and spotted the DVD cover for “The Beast of Bray Road,” I grasped it off the shelf, hurried home to watch it (an hour and a half of my life I’ll never get back), and fell into a deep depression for about a week because my manuscript was finished and I was afraid people would associate and prematurely judge my story based on the movie — despite the fact the stories were nothing alike. This prompted a major rewrite, in which I set the story in the fictional town of Woodbine, S.C. instead. 

• I chose the town’s name Woodbine when I saw a sign for a city with that name while driving from Florida to Georgia. I wanted a town that started with “W” in order to create a moniker that alliterated with Werewolf. Thus, the Woodbine Werewolf was born. 

• The original manuscript for CRY WOLF was titled CRYPTID and was a straight-up horror novel. The romance between Sean and Andrea was very lowkey — in fact, they never once kissed! A response from an agent’s assistant provided me with the feedback that she really liked my story and my writing voice, but horror was a tough genre to sell. She said I had a great voice for romance, she loved the idea of Sean and Andrea as the focal point, and she advised taking the manuscript in that direction, as paranormal romances were very hot at the time. As an avid romance reader, I took this info as positive feedback and ran with it. The rest, as they say, is history.

• I don’t typically write my stories with actors in mind for the parts, but being the movie and television fanatic I am, inevitably I realize afterward that certain actors have provided inspiration for the way my characters look or act. With CRY WOLF, my inspirations are quite obvious, now that I think about it. Actors Sean Patrick Flanery and Jensen Ackles both inspired the character of Sean. See, I even chose Sean’s name for a reason! I've been a huge SPF fan since I first saw "Powder," and I’d watched SPF’s movies “Lone Hero” and “The Boondock Saints” more than a few times each the summer I was finishing my story. I was also obsessed with Jensen’s character Alec on “Dark Angel” at the time I was writing CRY WOLF. Yes, this was pre-“Supernatural” days. Another fun fact: Sean and Jensen later starred together in the awesome indie flick "Ten Inch Hero." I've also been fortunate enough to meet both Jensen Ackles (when he was on "Days of Our Lives" - yes, I've been obsessed with him for quite a long time) and Sean Patrick Flanery (at Dragoncon 2011). I almost told Sean that he had inspired the character in my then-soon-to-be-released book, but instead, I turned into a blabbering idiot and could barely pronounce my name. He was nice enough not to make fun of me. Sigh. Plus, SPF is so awesome, he also responded to my tweet once! Look, I have proof!

Actresses Emily Blunt and Erica Durance each inspired the character of Andrea. When I was finishing the first draft of CRY WOLF, it was the same year Erica joined “Smallville” as Lois Lane. During rewrites I had just seen Emily’s performance in “Wind Chill” and found myself giving Andrea some of the same personality traits as Emily’s character in that film. Another (yes, another) fun fact? Jensen Ackles and Erica Durance starred on "Smallville" together for a season before Jensen left to do "Supernatural." Now, if we could just arrange for Emily to make a movie with Erica, Sean or Jensen, I could start a new game: six degrees of CRY WOLF. Hmmm.

• The book was set around Halloween because it’s my favorite holiday, second only to Christmas, of course! I have many fond memories of watching old black-and-white “creature features” with my dad around Halloween when I was a wee lass. Yeah, that probably inspired me to write CRY WOLF, too. Obviously, I'm a very weird individual.

• I've probably written a total of five different drafts of CRY WOLF over the years. It was rejected more than 30 times before Carina Press decided to give it a shot. I'm living proof that persistence and determination can pay off.


• The most common questions I get asked by email are “Is Reed going to get his own book?” and “Are Meg and Trey going to get their own book?” The answer to each is, yes, hopefully. I have plans to go there. With more monsters, too!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fun Fridays: Q&A with audiobook narrator Elizabeth Wiley!

Today I have a very special guest on my blog to help celebrate the upcoming 1-year birthday of CRY WOLF - none other than Elizabeth Wiley, CRY WOLF's audiobook narrator! I have to admit: I love audiobooks and was thrilled when Audible and Carina Press released an audiobook version of my book! I also freely admit to being a Nervous Nelly before hearing it, worried how the narrator would sound, but Elizabeth's narration quickly put me at ease. I'm honored Elizabeth found time in her busy schedule to chat with me.
Elizabeth Wiley
Elizabeth Wiley is a voiceover artist, seasoned actor, dialect coach, and theatre professor at the College of William & Mary. Elizabeth has brought to life numerous women from history in The Idea of America, Colonial Williamsburg/Pearson’s virtual learning curriculum; she gives voice to Lady Macbeth in Paul Meier’s eTextbook Speaking Shakespeare, and her voice travels the world, modeling US-English on Rosetta Stone e-learning products. She believes that her 25-plus-year journey in the performing arts was all along leading to audiobook narration, now her passion and focus! Check out her website at

Angela: First of all, I just want to thank you for the amazing job you did narrating CRY WOLF for Audible. I’ve had a subscription to Audible for years and, in my opinion, you’re one of the best narrators I’ve heard on the site. I consider myself to be very lucky to have snagged you. It seems CRY WOLF was your first narrating job for Audible? How did you get the job?

Elizabeth: Thank you, Angela - that's pretty high praise! I'm so glad you liked what I did with your creation. It's my responsibility to serve the writer and her work. I try to pay heed to every clue an author gives me about the characters and their world, and then to tell the story from the inside, riding out the experience with the characters, through their eyes.

Cry Wolf was not only my first gig for Audible, but my first audiobook! (I think that's pretty cool that you and I had our "firsts" together.) How did I get into it? A few years back, Scott Brick hosted a "Share The Experience" Contest for aspiring narrators. At the time, I was expanding into voiceover work and really wanted to get into audiobook narration. I entered the contest with a passage from A Hatful of Sky, a YA novel by Terry Pratchett, and ended up tying for third place. Scott's judges were a good handful of the top audiobook producer/publishers that he's worked with, so that was a fabulous boost. I then registered for one of Pat Fraley's "Billion Dollar Read" audiobook workshops - this one was in New York, and Pat had Scott Brick and Katy Kellgren teaching with him. Best investment. So worth it. And then, it's all about pounding the virtual pavement, sending demos, following through on connections, and being gently persistent. I am so grateful to Mike Charzuk at Audible for giving me my first gig (yours!).

Angela: What is the process for narrating a book? For example, do you have to read it beforehand numerous times before you get to the studio or do you go into the studio and just start reading? (If you had to read CRY WOLF numerous times, I’m very, very sorry.)

Elizabeth: (LOL!) I would dread going into the studio cold, without reading the book first. You can be sure that about two-thirds of the way through, you'd find out something essential about a character's speech or tone that you hadn't incorporated up to that point. My preparation is to read a book once through thoroughly, annotating as I go. So that research means: making character notes, looking up pronunciations when needed, finding references for places, names, colloquialisms or expressions that I may need to clarify, etc. Oh - and highlighting all the characters using different colors. My first two books I used paper copies, but now I read off my iPad and use an annotation App, which not only makes for silent page turning, but is very green!

Angela: Here’s a CRY WOLF-specific question in honor of the book's sort-of birthday. Do you remember: Which character in CRY WOLF was your favorite to find a voice for? (FYI: I loved your representation of Charlie, the animal control officer :).

Elizabeth: Yes, I'll admit Charlie was fun. I relish voicing the characters who are 'characters' - because of age, or dialect, or quirkiness. It was a good challenge to try to find the dialect or degree of southern for your characters, based on their background and life experience. I love that.

Angela: How long does it take, on average, to record an audiobook?

Elizabeth: Well, I recorded Cry Wolf at Audible's studios in Newark with an engineer, so that 9-hour book took three days to record, 6 hours a day. That's the ideal. Mostly, though, since I live in Williamsburg, Virginia, I am recording from my home studio and sending the sound files to the audiobook publisher for proofing and mastering. That takes a lot longer, since I am being my own engineer, doing the initial edits myself, and so on. And I am NOT an audio engineer! It's been a steep learning curve, and I am learning more every day, but still a long way from that 2:1 ratio (2 hours in the studio per 1 finished hour of audiobook). It probably takes me more like ten days to do a book from my studio. But hey, you always gotta have something to work toward, right?

Angela: What’s the hardest part of narrating a story?

Elizabeth: The editing! In addition to the technical challenges, I find that I get overly nit-picky in editing my own work.

Angela: You’re listed for several audiobooks on Audible now, so it seems you’ve gained a good bit of experience doing it. What advice would you give to anyone interested in reading books for Audible?

Elizabeth: If you already have acting experience and training, great. If not, that's where you need to start. Do a lot of listening to a variety of narrators -- that's a big part of your research, as you hear what works and discover your own preferences. Practice reading aloud for extended periods of time. If you've read aloud numerous book series to your kids, then good on ya! Take a workshop from a well-reputed coach. As I mentioned, Pat Fraley is terrific, and there are others out there too. That's where you begin to build a network of people in the business - other narrators, coaches, authors, publishers, producers. Go to the annual Audiobook Publishers Association Conference where you can attend valuable sessions and meet other folks in the business. Join online discussion groups on LinkedIn and Facebook, for example. I could go on and on, but that's good for a start, eh?

Angela: Let’s get to know Elizabeth, the person. I know you’ve done a lot of acting throughout the years. What’s been your favorite acting experience?

Elizabeth: I've been acting and teaching acting and voice at the college level for more years than I care to admit! My performing experience ranges from musical theatre to Shakespeare and everything in between. But I can pinpoint two shows that were the most gratifying for me, and they both were 3-person plays. One was Harold Pinter's Old Times, which I did at the Jungle Theatre in Minneapolis, and the other was a production of Copenhagen by Michael Frayn that was produced here in Virginia. Both are very intense plays with complicated relationships and deliciously intriguing stories. The kind of plays where audience members needed to go have a drink afterward so they could continue to wrestle with what they had just seen.

Angela: What types of books do you like to read?

Elizabeth: I have been fortunate in that I've really enjoyed all the books I've narrated. I do tend to lean toward historical fiction, though, given the choice.

Angela: What’s the last great book you read that you’d recommend?

Elizabeth: Lately I'm so busy with narrating (happily) that all my reading/listening for pleasure occurs while I'm driving or working out. I always have an audiobook going! (Currently listening to Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, narrated by Eduardo Ballerini.) When I think of hard copy books I've read relatively recently, Interred With Their Bones by Jennifer Lee Carrell -- a mystery that toys with the question of Shakespearean authorship, jumping back and forth from 1613 to 2004 -- really appealed to the actor and professor in me.

Angela: What’s your favorite movie?

Elizabeth: This marvelous little gem of a French film made in 1966 - The King of Hearts (Le Roi de Cœur).

Angela: Hobbies?

Elizabeth: I love making music. I am often discovered humming without even realizing I'm doing it. It drives my family crazy. ("Are you really singing K's cell phone ring tone?") But I did make a music CD a few years ago to satisfy that itch. The CD is called Voice of the Goddess and features 4 female singer/songwriters. If blog readers feel so inclined to look it up on iTunes, check out my rendition of "Witches' Reel," a haunting chant from 16th century Scotland. Perfect for this time of year!

Angela: Elizabeth, you are an awesomely talented and well-rounded person. Thank you again for agreeing to be my guest today!

Elizabeth: Thanks so much for asking me to be a guest on your blog, Angela. Happy Birthday to Cry Wolf and congrats!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Fun Friday Q&A: Reed Coleman of CRY WOLF!

I’ve been totally remiss in posting Q&As to my blog, especially in October because — can you believe it? — CRY WOLF was published almost 1 year ago on Oct. 31, 2011. Wow! Time flies.

In honor of CRY WOLF’s birthday (of sorts), I thought I’d devote the rest of October’s Fun Fridays to the book, leading up to a special post on Halloween. Next week I hope to have a fun and special guest participating, but this week, I thought it would be neat — and slightly schitzo — to interview one of the characters I created. Nope. I didn't choose either of the two main characters. I thought it would be fun to get feedback from Reed Coleman, a character I have probably gotten the most emails about regarding this book. That said, let me pull up my chair to his imaginary one and grill the kid.

Angela: Welcome to my blog, Reed. I’m glad to be sort of talking to you, even if it’s only in my head, which means I should probably be on medication, but still. For those who don’t know you — and shame on them — let’s give a brief bio. You work part-time after high school for my book’s hero, Sean Hunter, at the local newspaper. You’re thinking about going into journalism as a career. When Andrea Lockhart comes to Woodbine, S.C., to search for the town’s rumored werewolf for a Halloween article she's writing, you are excited to assist her investigation and become her enamored sidekick.

Reed: Yeah, Andrea’s totally awesome. She hires me to help her get photos for the magazine she writes for. I think she realizes my family could really use the money.

Angela: It’s a tabloid magazine, kind of along the lines of the National Enquirer. Doesn’t that bother you?

Reed: Of course not! I love to read it. It’s very entertaining. And Andrea is a very good reporter. She went to college with Sean. They’re the best journalists I know. Besides, she’s the coolest thing to happen to Woodbine in ages. It gets kind of boring around here.

Angela: Andrea describes you as looking like a young Jake Gyllenhaal with glasses, but with plenty of potential for future studliness.

Reed: (Blushing) Uh, thanks. She’s pretty hot herself.

Angela: Here’s a fun fact. I think Jake Gyllenhaal is kind of nerdy. Seriously, I don’t think he’s all that attractive, but my niece thinks he’s one of the hottest guys on the planet. I threw in that description of you as a shout-out to her. She really likes you now.

Reed: Is she single?

Angela: I can't even comprehend the idea of my 22-year-old niece dating a character inside my head. Yeah, that's one for Jerry Springer. But you’ve made one or two fans from my readers. You know, I’ve gotten emails from people asking if you’ll get your own book. What do you think about that?

Reed: Awesome! Let’s do it!

Angela: I thought I’d give you enough time to outgrow your awkwardness, grow up a little, and grow into that stud Andrea figured you’d become. Tell me about your ideal woman.

Reed: Andrea is pretty awesome. I could go for someone like her.

Angela: She’s old enough to be your…older sister.

Reed: So?

Angela: Okay, tell me this. Are you still interested in journalism as a career?

Reed: Maybe, but I really think I want to go into cryptozoology. I think there are a lot of mysterious creatures out there waiting to be discovered.

Angela: You’ve already dealt with werewolves. What other creatures do you want to find?

Reed: Bigfoot! And lake monsters. I really hope to go to Loch Ness someday and search for Nessie. That would be cool!

Angela: I like Nessie, too. Maybe we could do something with that.

Reed: Can Andrea come?

Angela: No, Andrea is too old for you, and she’s taken. Well, maybe she could come. For a few scenes. Maybe. And Sean, too.

Reed: That would be so awesome! Let’s do it. Scotland, here we come!

Angela: Whoa, kid. Calm down. You’ve still got a little growing up to do. And I can’t afford airfare to Scotland yet. I’m still a struggling writer.

Reed: (Ignoring the point) There might be some other cryptids we could search for — the Jersey Devil, zombies, the Mongolian Death Worm. We could travel all over the world!

Angela: You’ve put a lot of thought into this. Or I have. But mainly you.

Reed: There were a lot of animals thought to be myths before they were discovered. The kangaroo, platypus, pandas, okapi and the giant squid, to name a few— 

Angela: That's more than a few. And did you say Mongolian Death Worm earlier? What the—?

Reed: We just need someone willing to take the time to search for them and prove whether they exist or not! I could totally be that person.

Angela: Tell that to the cast of Finding Bigfoot on Animal Planet. I love that show, but they never find anything. Ever.

Reed: It just takes time, that’s all.

Angela: We’ll leave it at that, and I’ll thank you for taking time to talk to me again. It’s been a while since we’ve chatted. You’re a good kid.

Reed: OK, but don’t forget about Scotland. Or we could go somewhere else. Or we could stay in Woodbine, because there are still rumors of a werewolf. Sightings still persist to this day.

Angela: Good to know, kid. Good to know.

CRY WOLF makes a fun Halloween read and is available from Carina Press in ebook and audiobook format. Aside from, it can be purchased at, or


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