I want to say welcome to her for this blog tour! A worker-bee by day, writer by night, Kelley is the author of The Descendant Vampire Series. When she’s not writing, she enjoys spending time with her husband and their two cats, riding her Harley, enjoying what few days of sunshine there are in Cleveland, and dreaming up the next story she wants to tell. Kelley is a graduate of both Baldwin Wallace College and Cleveland State University. Connect with her at http://www.KelleyGrealis.com.
Independent Author Network: http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/kelley-grealis.html
Universal Amazon Link: viewBook.at/B008GET9KE
Release Date: August 27, 2013
Allison Carmichael is thirsty for blood and hungry for answers.
Lured away from her illicit extracurricular activities by news about her kidnapped husband, Allison rejoins her adopted family that’s promised to help her find him. Allison’s search is detoured, however, by sinister vampire politics, the seeming good will of her fanged family, and the return of her nemesis. Circumstances unfold that shatter the foundation of her world.
In order to successfully play the game she has been thrust into, Allison must battle loss and betrayal and accept unexpected love.
THE SEARCH is on for answers, but when answers are found, will they be what Allison was looking for?
“Author Kelley Grealis has served up an outstanding sequel to her debut novel, The Descendant, that is chock full of twists and surprises sure to keep you turning pages.”
– Gigi Siguenza, Indie Love Book Club Reviews
Release Date: May 24, 2012
Mortal death or eternal damnation? If those were your choices, which would you choose?
Allison Carmichael is frustrated with the doctors who can’t diagnose her seemingly common ailments. Her frustrations are further compounded by her inability to discover her life’s calling, a purpose she desperately desires yet which has eluded her for thirty years.
A car wreck throws Allison into a life she doesn’t recognize filled with vampires, centuries-old secrets, betrayal, and vengeful enemies she never knew existed.
When Allison discovers the source of her ailments and the truth about her biblical lineage, she wishes she hadn’t searched so hard for the answers she thought she wanted.
Faced with an impossible decision – sacrifice her mortal life or damn her soul for eternity – which will Allison choose?
And can she decide before the choice is made for her?
THE DESCENDANT – A Vampire Tale of Biblical Proportions
“Ms. Grealis demonstrates the necessary prerequisite of a popular author: a knack for telling an engaging story. Nothing else really matters if that isn’t the underpinning.”
– Smidhja, Amazon Reviewer
“Outstanding! An alternate history fantasy version of a horror novel depicting Genesis in an all new way. I never would have thought of the serpent’s bite in quite that way.”
– Mary, Goodreads Reviewer
Excerpt 1 – From the opening scene of chapter 1; Allison caught in the midst of her illicit vampire behavior
We reached the apartment and I punched the security code into the keypad as I steadied Joe with my left arm. The lock clicked and I pushed the door open. We entered the dark apartment, the only illumination coming from the cityscape visible through the floor-to-ceiling windows. Which city, I hadn’t a clue. I’d traveled to so many cities over the past several months that they all looked the same. This was just another metropolis with an overabundance of skyscrapers, congested freeways and plenty of places like the lounge to inconspicuously pick up an easy meal, like Joe.
“Where’s the light?” Joe groped the wall in search of a switch.
“We don’t need light.” I grabbed Joe by the shirt and pushed him against the wall. I pressed my body against his as I kicked the door closed with my other foot.
“I like it. A woman who takes control and knows what she wants.”
“I know what I want, alright.”
Joe panted with anticipation. I could feel his heart beating beneath his shirt, now damp with perspiration. I yanked at his collar, exposing his neck. Though the room was dark, my eyes could see the vein thumping under his skin with every beat of his heart. I licked his neck and the saltiness was enough to make the venom angrier. It swirled more powerfully in my stomach and steamrolled through my veins. Desire was flush throughout my body; I yearned for nourishment. My legs tingled with anticipation. I opened my mouth and felt my fangs emerge; a drop of venom numbed my tongue for a second. I threw my head back, ready to strike when the light flicked on.
“What in the hell?” I shouted at Joe, assuming he had found the light switch.
It took his mortal eyes a few seconds to adjust to the surroundings, which was enough time for my fangs to retract without him noticing. Joe rubbed his eyes with both hands and I realized he couldn’t have turned on the light; the switch was out of reach. I turned around.
“Hello, Allison,” a female voice greeted from across the room.
“Marlo?” I was shocked by the unexpected appearance of the woman I had once, not too long ago, considered like a sister.
Excerpt 2 from Chapter 2; Allison is reunited with the Drakes
“Hello Allison,” Lorenzo said as his eyes scanned me from head to toe. His blond hair fell loose past his shoulders and his green eyes glistened like emeralds. Max and Felix, the two brothers who could pass as blood relatives, sat in silence as they also eyed me.
“Hello,” I stated simply. “So what is the big news you have on Matt? Where is he?” I wanted to cut straight to the point, the only reason that I was back here.
“Before we get to that, why don’t you tell us where you have been and what you have been doing for the past, oh say, five months,” Lorenzo said.
I closed my eyes and rubbed my neck. I wasn’t here for small talk; I was here to find out about my husband’s whereabouts. “I’ve been traveling. Mostly the United States, but I also visited Canada, Mexico and Central America.”
“Were you looking for Matthew?”
“Of course. In the beginning I tried looking for Matt. But looking for him was like looking for the proverbial needle in the haystack. After so many months, I realized my efforts were futile so I continued traveling, taking in the sights, trying to see all of the places that I’d never thought I’d have the chance to see as a mortal.”
“And? What else have you been up to?”
“You know what, Lorenzo? If you have a question, why don’t you just ask it instead of beating around the bush? What do you want to know?”
“We want to know how you’ve been hunting – what you’ve been hunting? How have you been keeping yourself nourished?” Max asked.
Max was the brother who had taught me how to hunt – animals at least. He was the one responsible for monitoring animal and human populations and planning hunts accordingly so that our kills did not raise alarm with humans in any particular area. Of course he would want to know how I had been hunting.
I shook my head and shrugged my shoulders. “It’s been no big deal. When I’m hungry, I go out and eat. I found your tracking applications on the phone I had –”
“The phone you stole from me,” Marlo interrupted.
“On Marlo’s phone,” I continued. “I knew where to hunt and when. It was all pretty easy.”
“And humans? Have you killed any humans?” Felix asked, not looking up from his laptop.
“Of course I have. I’m a vampire, aren’t I?”
“I didn’t keep count,” I replied. I was annoyed with this conversation and the accusatory tone.
“She’s lying,” Marlo stated. “She’s kept count. It’s all right here.” Marlo threw my book onto the table, the book she had found in the Atlanta condo. After changing out of my dress and into something more comfortable for the ride back to Ohio, I had tucked the book in my jacket.
Excerpt 3 from Chapter 4; Allison comes face-to-face with an enemy
Behind me, I heard the Drakes stand up and brace themselves for the enemy who was in the park. They were probably as anxious as I was to see who was here and probably just as restless to get their hands on him. I continued to scan the park, brushing my hair from my eyes to get a clear view but I still couldn’t spot him.
A noise diverted my attention. It was a metal garbage can lying on its side, the wind blowing it against the metal gate corral. I looked up in time to see a large piece of tarp that had probably covered one of the rides for the winter, sailing through the air in my direction. I deflected it with my hands and nearly fell off of the roller coaster tracks. And then he landed at the bottom of those same tracks.
“Vincent,” I cursed.
A wicked smile spread across his lips, which made my blood boil. The sheer arrogance of him showing up here, now, made me want to rip off his head. I clenched my fists as my ears burned with anger. But then I felt something else — guilt for having such hostile feelings toward Vincent. The Drakes scuttled behind me to get a better look.
“Hello, love,” Vincent said. He looked away to say, “Hello brothers, sister,” and then returned his eyes to me.
Excerpt 4 from Chapter 10; Allison visits her house in Buzzard Hill
“I’ve already told you once and I’m going to tell you again – no. Now please get off the property before I call the police.”
Gabriela tried closing the door again but my foot didn’t budge. I stared directly into her eyes. “You will let me into this house,” I commanded, but Gabriela’s eyes didn’t react to my persuasion. I was confused as to what was going on; this had worked on every human I had tried it on. “You will let me in this house.”
I tilted my head in disbelief and Gabriela mockingly tilted her head back at me. I removed my foot from the doorway but had no intention of letting her shut me out. I was going to let her think for the slightest of moments that she had won this argument. I turned to walk away when I heard, “Ali-gator.”
I turned around and as Gabriela was shutting the door asked, “What did you just say?”
Gabriela rattled off something in Spanish before saying, “I didn’t say anything.”
“Yes you did. You whispered ‘Ali-gator.’”
“Um, no I didn’t.”
“My husband used to call me that.”
“Okay lady, you’re losing your mind.” She twirled her finger next to her temple as she whistled cuckoo.
If I could have breathed fire I would have in that moment. I charged Gabriela but before I could reach her I felt like I had hit a brick wall. I placed my hands out in front of me but they couldn’t cross the threshold. Gabriela’s smirk irritated me.
“I told you I wouldn’t let you enter,” she taunted and slammed the door.
Excerpt 5: Allison on her way to meet Matt receives a call from Jenna
I leaned against the corner of the brick building and took another drag off the cigarette. I flicked the ashes and surveyed the square looking for Matt. My eyes scanned through the sea of people and then located him. He was standing on the steps of the gazebo, a hat pulled tightly over his head, and jacket zipped to his chin. He was staring directly at me as if he had spotted me long before I had spotted him.
“You have to be kidding me,” I muttered to myself. Matt’s choice of location was less than ideal for me. I wanted to avoid as many people as possible but having to walk to the gazebo would put me directly in the middle of everything and everyone. I nodded my head over my shoulder, asking him without having to say a word to join me in my more secluded spot. He shook his head. “Great,” I whispered.
I tossed the cigarette to the ground and smashed it with my boot. I blew the last of the smoke from my lungs when I felt my phone vibrate. I reached into my pocket and pulled it out; it was Jenna. I sighed at the timing. I really wanted to talk to Jenna but now wasn’t a good time. I looked back up at Matt; his attention was turned in the opposite direction so I answered the phone.
“Oh my God! Is it really you?” Jenna asked sarcastically.
“Hey Jenna. Yeah, it’s really me. How are you?”
“I guess you’d know how I was doing if you had returned any of my calls or texts from the past five months.”
“Um, yeah. Sorry about that. It was just, ah, you know, Vincent had taken me away on a trip.” I had trouble trying to spin this lie. I felt like I was living two lives – my reality and then the lies I had to maintain to protect people like Jenna.
“Yes, I know. Lorenzo told me all about it. So did Marlo. And Max. Oh, and Felix too. Yeah, I’ve been checking up on you, Ali. I’ve been worried about you. But now that you’re back, I can’t wait to hear about this five month long trip in which you couldn’t call or text me, so please do tell.”
Jenna was ticked and I couldn’t blame her. I’d be acting the same way if she up and left without notice and then didn’t get in contact for months. “Um, I’m sort of in the middle of something here Jenna. Now’s not a good time.”
“Really Allison? You’re back from your vacation and you don’t even call me to let me know that. I finally get ahold of you and now something else is more important?”
“Yeah, something like that.”
“Well fine. Then you’ll just have to tell me later in person. I’ll be at your house tonight.”
“Oh don’t tell me now that tonight won’t be good either. I’m not taking any excuses from you. I’ll be at your place tonight.”
“No, Jenna. Jenna?” There was silence on the other end. Jenna had hung up the phone. I sighed and looked up to find Matt looking back at me. I would have to worry about Jenna later. Right now, I needed to focus on Matt.
Excerpt 6: Allison & the Drakes learn that Jenna was kidnapped
The castle door burst open and two sets of boots thudded over the floor. Lorenzo and Felix rushed into the dining room, shirts untucked, jeans ripped and messy hair.
“Where’s Jenna?” I demanded. I looked beyond them searching for her but didn’t see or hear her.
“Gone,” Lorenzo responded.
“What do you mean gone?”
“We were ambushed,” Felix said.
“Ambushed?” I questioned.
“By whom?” Vincent asked.
“Two guys…” Lorenzo started.
“Wait, you are trying to tell me that two men ambushed you?” I questioned. “You’re vampires! You are stronger than a thousand men.”
“They were gypsies,” Felix stated matter-of-factly, as if that should have explained it all.
“So? You couldn’t protect Jenna from two gypsies?”
“Not with the magic they were spinning. We hit a patch of ice and Jenna lost control of the car. As the car came to a halt, snow started swirling like a tornado and we were in the center of it. We couldn’t see anything; we were surrounded by white.”
“And then these two guys just appeared outside of the car. Felix and I went to get out of the car, but the seatbelts snapped across our bodies and trapped us.”
“And with all of your strength, you couldn’t rip through the seatbelts?” I questioned.
“No, we couldn’t. Their spell incapacitated us, held our arms at our sides; we were defenseless. And then they grabbed Jenna.”
“She tried to put up a fight but they cast a spell on her to knock her out.”
“Then what? Did they say anything?”
“They left without saying a word. The squall went on for a few more minutes but eventually died down as the spell wore off. But they were long gone; we couldn’t even pick up a trail. They knew who they were dealing with when they approached us and they definitely knew what they were doing.”
“What would gypsies want with Jenna?”
“They left a note,” Felix said. “It was knifed to the steering wheel.”
Felix held out a piece of paper. I snatched it and scanned the words.
“Damn it,” I cursed.
“I know,” Lorenzo said.
“What is it?” Max asked.
“These two gypsies must be conspiring with Jal,” I said.
“What does the letter say?”
“To bring the key to the Emerald Necklace in order to unlock the Garden.”
Excerpt 7 from Chapter 14: The Battle
“Dear God,” I whispered. “This can’t be happening.”
There was a burst of white on the horizon that advanced toward the island with tremendous speed. It grew in size the closer it got, overtaking the pitch-black sky and then enveloping the summit. The cloud momentarily lingered overhead, several sets of wings thrashing in the air. The shape of a man emerged from the haze, wings attached to his back.
“What in the hell is this?” I said.
The winged man descended and hovered above the action, the wind not affecting his ability to fly. His wings were at least four times his size and flapped holding him in place. The cloud lifted and revealed twenty more winged humans.
“Angels,” I said, which attracted the attention of the bearded elder. He looked at me and gave me a partial smile. “But angels aren’t real.” And then I caught what I had just said. These were the same creatures that had appeared two nights ago when the Drakes and I attempted to protect the Lane family.
Jal looked up; his eyes narrowed to slits and his lip quivered. The three elders smiled and nodded at the army of angels. The angels swooped toward the ground and landed in the middle of the circle, their wings disappearing as soon as their feet hit the snow. They all reached over their shoulder, unsheathed a sword, and spread out over the battlefield.
Excerpt 8 from Chapter 15: Allison & Matt
I paced back and forth, my eyes fixated on the ground trying to suppress the anger building within me. I’d be damned if I was just going to let go of Matt because of what we each were and because others thought our kinds couldn’t be together. I stopped and faced him. “Since when did you ever give up on something you wanted, Matthew Carmichael? You still love me. I still love you. Nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing else matters.”
I asked Kelley to sit down with me and talk about some things. I asked her why she chose the genre that she works in. She said, “I’ve loved all things vampire ever since my mom hooked me on the original Dark Shadows TV series reruns. I recall us rushing home on multiple occasions to catch the show. Barnabas Collins sank his fangs into my imagination and never let go.
I’m not sure what it is specifically that draws me to vampires. I like the mystery, the allure, their need for humans, their history, the riches – I love it all. I like scary vamps, charismatic ones, bad boys and romancers. Vampires are the only paranormal creature I care to read, and at this point write.
What particularly drove me to write this series was not only my love for vampires, but the need to answer the question: how was the first vampire created? In all the movies I’d seen or books I’d read, the vampire was always ‘just there.’ I answered that question by tying the vamp’s origin to popular biblical stories, which hopefully make the reader wonder if it could have really happened that way.”
She told me the way she gets from start to finished in her work: “I had no process with book 1 (The Descendant). I started writing the middle of the book, which is the crux of the story. I then went back and wrote the intro, the ending and everything in between and ended up rewriting the story several times.
I figured there had to be an easier way! I enrolled in some writing classes and learned that there is a method to the writing madness. I now start by outlining my theme, passion, character flaw and premise. I then identify the 9 dramatic elements within the 3-act structure and then outline each chapter. I start writing once the outline is complete. I have the outline up in the background as I write and I highlight the bulleted items I write them and add notes about things I need to address. Once the manuscript is written (and rewritten), I engage beta readers before sending the manuscript to my editor. I usually enlist the help of more test readers before sending the file for final edit. I use one last reader as a proofreader to catch any remaining typos.”
Her take on researching in preparation for writing was as follows: “I was quite familiar with the Bible stories I wanted to incorporate into my vampire tale as my parents had sent me to Catholic school for 12 years, but I was a little rusty on the details. I had to research the stories to ensure I had the correct details. I didn’t modify the biblical tales as most people know them; rather, I picked up where they left off in order to tell the story of how and why the first vampire was created.”
Regarding Kelley’s characters, she chose one to talk about with me: “Allison Carmichael is the main character. She’s 32 years old, happily married and experiencing a midlife crisis. She can’t get over the fact that she feels there has to be something more out there for her than her monotonous day job. Unfortunately for Allison, she could have never guessed what that calling was and is faced with an impossible decision – mortal death or eternal damnation.
There’s actually a lot of me in the Allison you read in chapter 1 of The Descendant. It was my career midlife crisis that reignited my passion for creative writing. Certain events in my career led made me realize that I was professionally unfulfilled and I needed something else that would satisfy me. Writing was the answer. I always say that writing (so far) doesn’t provide for my life, but my writing gives meaning to my life.”
This is what she had to say about balancing her time: “My answer depends on where I’m at in the writing and publishing process. I’m coming off of the release of The Search (book 2 in the series) and the launch party and blog tours consumed all of my time after the day job. Now that those events are behind me, I need to concentrate on outlining and writing the 3rd book in the series. If I can, I try to squeeze in some writing on my lunch hour, otherwise the majority of my writing occurs at night, after work. I typically try to write from 6 until 8 p.m. and then hang out with the hubby for the rest of the evening. I usually don’t write much on the weekends unless my hubby is out of town.”
These are her thoughts regarding publication: “The publishing world is complex and interesting. I first attempted to go the traditional publishing route. This means you have to successfully land a literary agent who is willing to represent you, who in turn has to land a publisher that is will to take you on. I spent many nights putting together query packages (my 2 least favorite words in the English language are ‘query letter’) only to receive the same result – rejections.
I figured something was amiss. I had a story that I loved, but it wasn’t translating. I signed up for a writing clinic where, as I sat there, I realized that I was surrounded by people who were majoring in creative writing. I had majored in accounting! How was an accounting degree going to help me write a book? It wasn’t, so I signed up for on-line writing classes.
After rewriting my manuscript and hiring an editor, I queried agents again. And again, I was rejected. I scratched my head and thought that maybe I needed to meet some agents in person in order to pitch my story. I signed up for a writer’s conference in NYC where I met several agents, pitched my book, and had multiple agents willing to read additional materials. Those submissions also turned into rejections.
You’d think I’d be upset at this point, but I wasn’t (although I was frustrated). There was a statistic thrown out at the writer’s conference. The speaker said that the traditional publishing houses were only taking on 2-3 unknown authors per year. You read that correctly: 2-3 unknown authors per year. I looked around the room at the sea of authors that surrounded me and realized that my chances of landing an agent, who then had to land a publisher, was like searching for the proverbial needle in the haystack. So I decided to independently publish my stories.
Being an indie writer is sometimes frustrating, but it’s also quite rewarding. I’ve learned a lot by publishing 2 books and the process got easier with the second. I’ve met fantastic authors along the way who have been more than willing and happy to help and share their experiences. Above all, I’m completely in control. From editing services, to cover design, to promotions, it’s all up to me. I had always thought that I’d be a smaller business owner; I just never imagined it would involve me writing books!”
About her other projects, she explained she is working on on book three in The Descendant Vampire Series (TDVS) and has temporarily titled it The Truth. The discussion about marketing went like this: “Book marketing is still a mystery in many respects. I’ve tried a lot of paid advertising – Google ads, Facebook ads, blogger events, etc – and learned that very rarely do those pan out. In fact, what I’ve discovered over the past couple of years is that word of mouth is the best marketing. I ask my fans to write honest reviews and to tell others about my books.
There are only 2 paid advertisements I’ve done that were worth the money. One was a Kindleboards Bargain book ad, which featured The Descendant alongside other 99 cent priced books. That got good exposure and I sold enough books to more than pay for that service. The other was an ad with I Love Vampire Novels. They have a large following and the ad was promoted in their newsletter, Facebook, and Twitter.”
She explained that she has been writing since grade school. Kelley said that at that time, she wrote mostly poetry and short stories. She attempted her first novel somewhere around the sixth grade, but she didn’t make it past the first 5 pages. She concluded by saying, “I still think about that story and may end up writing it some day.”
Her one wish: “I wish I had more time to write so readers didn’t have to wait so long between my books. I still have a day job so my writing time is limited to evenings, some lunch hours, and some weekends. I was able to shorten the amount of time it took me to write and publish the second book. That took just over 1 year (as compared with 3 years for the first book). I’m hoping to reduce that further while still putting out a quality product. Time will tell if I can do it.”
She likes charities that support animals and veterans.
Kelley’s opinion about what’s difficult about being an author: “There are a few things, but I think the hardest aspect is book marketing. I’ve heard different stats about the number of books published on Amazon alone. The stats range from 1 million – 3 million books. Regardless the number, the range indicates that I’m one small fish in a huge literary sea. How do you get word out to the masses about your book? I don’t know as I haven’t discovered the answer yet. But I’ve been told more than once that it takes a good book and some luck. I’m hoping to happen upon that luck some time…soon!”
The best thing about being an author: “The best thing about being an author is finally having a creative outlet where I can express my ideas. You should see me as I write. I’m a big dork. I act out the scenes as I try to get into character. I giggle and wring my hands as I read an intense scene. I scramble out of the shower in a towel because a major plot line hit me as I was shampooing. All of that gives me joy.
Writing is something I do for myself because I want to do it, not because I have to do it. It is also quite rewarding when a reader reaches out and let’s me know that they’ve read and enjoyed my work. It’s fun when people start pulling for one of my characters or asking when the next book will be out because they can’t wait to sink their fangs into it.”
When asked what she wanted people to know about her as well as her work, she said, “I take observations from life and twist them into fiction. All of my stories (both written and those trapped in my mind) have been influenced by something in my life. I write these stories because they are books that I would like to read. I try to put a unique perspective on things. I write for me, but I share my stories with you in the hopes that they bring you enjoyment.”
Thank you so much Kelley for sharing with us! Have a great evening everyone!