Thursday, July 18, 2013


A young adult paranormal romance

Anna thought life was going to be awesome. She was right…and wrong.

Won her dream job acting in a hit TV series. Check.

Working with her best friend. Check.

The set’s haunted and she’s in the middle of a supernatural war. Uh, check?

Anna Rose Ellington is sixteen and living in Hollywood, hoping to be a star. Anna just landed a major role on Ghost House, TeenTV’s new fall drama. A show promising to be so hot, Meg Sweet (the reigning teenage diva), signed on for the lead, and Adam Lewis (international rock sensation) is a principal player.

Her dreams are falling into place until she gets on set and begins questioning her sanity. It’s true she has an unusual dream life, where once in a while her dreams literally come true. But it’s been a while. On top of her dreams not staying put in her brain, including the guy she’d been dreaming of for years, the house they’re filming in, Gold Manor, might actually be haunted. But that’s the least of her worries.

“And now for that special musical treat I was telling you about. As your dessert comes around, our very own Adam Lewis is going to play the latest single with his bandmate, Ewin, from F&L.”

Adam got up on stage and the lead singer appeared from the shadows. As he got in position, he took off his jersey, put on his leather jacket and strapped a guitar around his shoulder.

As I was saying no to the piece of fried cheesecake, my eyes rested on the pair singing, “The Only One.”

It took a moment for my brain to register what was before me. I saw clearly, but couldn’t believe. I was looking at the impossible.

On stage, playing guitar and singing back-up vocals to Ewin Larkin was Leather Jacket Guy.

Leather Jacket Guy was Adam Lewis!

My mind froze as my fork slipped out of my hand and clanged to the floor. The noise caught the attention of Adam and Ewin. In mid strum Adam stopped playing. He threw his guitar to the floor, his face filled with panic.

“Anna, get out of here now. Get Out!” he shouted.


Born and raised in Bakersfield, California, Merry Brown now lives in the northwest corner of Tennessee with her husband, three boys, and Daisy the cat. She teaches philosophy at the University of Tennessee, Martin, where she counts it a great privilege and joy to introduce students to perennial questions about the nature of the universe, meaning, morality, and the human condition. Merry Brown's love of philosophy and young adult paranormal and dystopian literature inspired her to write THE KNOWERS, the first book in the Exiled Trilogy. GOLD MANOR GOLD HOUSE is her latest YA paranormal romance book.

Check out Merry’s website. Follow her on Twitter @Merrybrown, and connect with her on facebook—Merry Brown.


Hey readers,

Tense scene. Nice.

Follow the rest of the tour here.

And don’t forget to comment for a chance at a prize.

One randomly drawn commenter will win a $25 Amazon gift card.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Guest Appearance--Stephanie M. Wytovich

Good Wednesday,

The Lockbox is happy to have a guest today. You may remember Stephanie Wytovich. I interviewed her last summer. Well, she’s back, and she’s going to talk about her forthcoming book of horror poetry, HYSTERIA.

Without further ado, here she is.

-So…talk to us about HYSTERIA. What’s it about?

The easy answer is that HYSTERIA is about madness, but to me, it’s always been about acceptance. When I sat down and decided to start writing it, I essentially decided to go a little mad myself. There was nothing easy about writing this collection: no fun nights composing next to the moon, no clever evenings spent making up metaphors and bringing characters to life.

It was hard.

And it was painful.

I read a lot of abnormal psychology, studied the diseases of the brain, and traveled across the states to visit different asylums and feel the air and the charge of what it meant to be locked up in solitary. I sat in the isolation rooms of West Virginia’s State Penitentiary, and spent the night at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum.

And then I met her.


Most of the pieces came to me late at night, crazed and racked by insomnia, and when they did, they were fluent and clear, as if I were talking to the characters one-on-one. I wrote down their voices, shaped the faces that I saw in my nightmares, and looking back, it’s no wonder I didn’t sleep. The patients that readers will meet in this collection are vicious, cruel, and more often than not, completely insane.

Although there are a few innocents.

But who out there is really walking around with a clean conscience?

-What inspired you to put the book together?

When I was an undergraduate at Seton Hill University, I had to start a blog for my Intro. To Literary Study course. I heard everyone talking about blogs and their importance, but to me, it just seemed like another chore that I had to maintain when all I wanted to do was write poetry and study art. But, I created one…quite sarcastically at that.

“Join me in the madhouse,” I said.

Blogging drove me insane, and I hated doing it. And then one day, I hated it a little less, and then even lesser than that. The crazy part about it was that I soon started doing it for fun. I played with the madhouse theme, reviewing psychological films and critiquing books under the veil of psychoanalytic criticism. I read a lot of Freud—probably too much Freud—and paid special attention to his ideas on sexuality and the uncanny.

I saw madness—erotic, uncanny madness—everywhere I went. The thick, black sludge of the mind’s breaking point.

And when I realized that madness broods inside us all—whether we choose to accept it or not—I knew that I had to explore it, dissect it, rip it apart with a scalpel and study it.

And so I did.

-Is there anything in there that shocked even you?

The entire collection was/is quite shocking to me. Yes, I realize that probably sounds odd considering I write horror, but I don’t think I’ve ever created something so dark, so angry before. There are pieces in there that I look at and think who/what wrote that?

But that’s what I wanted.

I wanted the voice that not only sits in the shadows, but is the shadows. I wanted darkness, blackness, and madness all wrapped up in a straightjacket and ready to go.

And then I wanted to release it and watch the asylum burn.

-Do you ever see yourself writing anything but horror?

Horror is what I do—what I love to do—and I can’t imagine doing anything else, because let’s face it… horror is in everything. What’s scarier than exploring space and meeting aliens? What’s more frightening than meeting creatures that exist only in your wildest dreams? And what’s more horrifying than falling in love?

Fear is in everything.

It doesn’t matter what genre I’m writing in.

I’m going to strangle it and take it down.

-Name a book/tv show/movie you like that would surprise people.

Something that would surprise people, eh?

I’ve seen every episode of Spongebob to date.

And I was there opening day to see the movie when it came out.

That crazy, yellow sponge cracks me up.

Preorder your copy of HYSTERIA here.

Find Stephanie on the web at her blog. Follow her on Twitter @JustAfterSunset.

She’s also on Goodreads. Enter the giveaway to win a free copy of HYSTERIA!

“Also, I’ll be reading from Hysteria at Kafe Kerouac on August 2 from 7-9 p.m. alongside fellow poets John Edward Lawson and Michael A. Arnzen to kick off DogCon2. There will be comedy, madness, and amputated prose, not to mention a whiskey tasting to follow! We’d love to see you there!”

About Stephanie Stephanie M. Wytovich is an Alum of Seton Hill University where she was a double major in English Literature and Art History. Wytovich is published in over 40 literary magazines and HYSTERIA is her first collection. She is currently attending graduate school to pursue her MFA in Writing Popular Fiction, and is working on a novel. She is the Poetry Editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press and a book reviewer for S.T. Joshi, Jason V. Brock and William F. Nolan’s Nameless Magazine. She plans to continue in academia to get her doctorate in Gothic Literature.

Check out my previous interview of Stephanie here.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Not My Favorite Tropes

Good Monday,

Last week I discussed the difference between genre conventions and tropes. This week I promised to reveal a few tropes and why I am sick to death of them. Here goes.

-“Super Macho Man”

You know who I mean. It’s the hero who’s no less than 6 ft 5. He wouldn’t be caught dead (or alive…or undead) in anything that isn’t black leather; he rides a magically pumped up motor cycle of some kind; forget a tall building in a single bound, he can get about 4 or 5 in there, and he’s got tats (but no, call them tribal/dark magic markings or suffer his wrath).

Oh, I almost “forgot,” he’s, like, super-amazing in bed. This guy’s been all over, done stuff with women all over (alive, undead, dead), and is an expert in every form of pleasure (way more than any “normal” human male). Best part? He never gets distracted or makes a mistake during sex. Even if the hoard of demons/vampires/zombies/whatevers chooses the hot-and-heavy moment to charge over the wall, his woman is getting off. And, somehow, they’ll still manage to escape the hordes. Don’t even get me started on the body. If I read the words “chiseled six-pack” one more time…. *sigh*

K, who’s reading this and hurling insults at me because I insulted the hot urban fantasy hero? Get over it. Lol. No, seriously. I’m not saying this guy can’t be written well. I’m just saying I’m sick of seeing him.

-Female version of the above

This one irritates me even more. “I’m 4 ft 11. I always wear black leather (which I look smokin’ hot in, fyi). I am an expert at every type of martial arts on the planet. I can wield every weapon on the planet (that’s swords and guns, b*tches). I’m probably blonde (the better for my hair to stand out against my black leather). I’m hot, and you know it, and I, like my male counterpart, am the sh*t in bed.”

Blech. Be a real person. I’m sorry, but even the most trained warrior of the 4 ft 11 variety cannot take a foe three times her size down without earning a scratch. Er, unless she’s in an urban fantasy novel. Then she can. My bad.

-Vampires and zombies that are “emotionally scarred” or “sexy”

I know I’ve ranted on this before. Vampires are undead. THEY ARE NOT SEXY!!!

Same goes for zombies. They eat brains for crying out loud. I’d be really concerned if I got into a relationship with a zombie.
“So, what do you want for dinner?”
“You.” *bashes skull in and feasts*

Oh man, shiver.

As far as the “emotionally scarred” thing goes, I’m all for putting twists on mythical creatures. I do it all the time. But can the twists be different every so often? Emotionally scarred vamps/zombies had their time. They’re done. Let them crawl/shuffle back into their lairs.

-Chosen one

“You are the one. The one who will lead our nation/country/world back to greatness. Oh, by the way, you’ve been living in a tiny place in the middle of nowhere that is far from any trace of magic—the magic that you’ll need to save the world. You’re nineteen, you say? Excellent, the world is scheduled to end sometime when you’re twenty. Get learning.”

While this makes for a lot of tension and stress (and tears) on the protagonists part, it’s the backbone for almost every epic fantasy novel/series I remember reading before college (and a few after). It’s not just epic fantasy either. Poor Harry Potter fell victim to the chosen one fate. But Rowling did a good job with it. And then everyone else tried to do the same because HP was so successful. Point, I enjoy the chosen one storyline. I just want to see it disappear for a little while.

-“The fate of the world rests on finding the magic sword/lamp/orb/talking cat”

I love enchanted artifacts. When I was a kid, I spent hours combing through my dad’s Dungeons and Dragons books in search of cool items I could pretend were real. There are so many neat things in those books.

Unfortunately, I seem to have not been the only one on that band wagon. Writers everywhere opened up the Player’s Handbook and/or Dungeon Master’s Guide and sifted through the myriad of magical items. They found the one they wanted, maybe tweaked it a little, and stuck it at the center of a book. A band of merry heroes was than instituted to find said object and rid the world of the plagues of evil.

This storyline, for me, is similar to the chosen one idea. I enjoy it. I really find it fun and interesting to read. It just started with “Lord of the Rings” and didn’t stop. Maybe if the object was a talking cat I’d read it. For right now, though, I don’t think we need any more all-powerful artifacts that “in the wrong hands could bring destruction on a scale the likes of which we have never seen.”

For more tropes that aren’t my favorite, see this post from back in February.

As always, thanks for reading.

@desantismt on Twitter