Friday, December 28, 2012


But do I, really? No. While I see the value of blogging, I feel like there are so many more things on which my time could be spent. Such as reading. Or making jewelry. Or writing (yes, I realize that blogging is technically writing).

Whining done. Content appear.

As I've mentioned before, writing is not my only hobby (I use that word lightly). The reason I mention this? Because I am constantly confronted with decisions based on how I use my time. Whether it be refilling my stock of handmade jewelry, experimenting with photographic and printmaking processes, making candles, or writing, time is always on my heels. I even had a patron at a store opening a couple weeks ago look at me--after reviewing my work and hearing on my recently published book--ask me point blank if I had any "free time."

Maybe this is where I've gone wrong. Maybe not. All of these things I do are justified as activities I do in my "free time." I keep my prices low, don't concern myself with the dollar amount I make on each book I sell, or worry about how much I am earning/paying myself hourly for these "tasks" because they are done in my free time. And, if anything, shouldn't free time be FREE?

Sure, it may not pay the bills...yet...but I enjoy it. People enjoy my work. I enjoy people enjoying my work. A good step toward nirvana, eh?

Minus the frustration that I never have enough of it. Yes, I could manage my time better. I could narrow my scope of projects. But would I be happy? Probably not. Would I like more time? Hell, yes. Plus, I kind of like being that multi-faceted friend that everyone kind of wants to strangle...

Really what has made me tell you all of this, what is at the root of this post, is something another blogger recently wrote. While I can't find the actual post, the author wrote something along the lines of "You are only as good of a writer as the last books you've read." This caught my attention because, as writing has not been the topmost item on my list of many to-dos, I've been reading much more lately.

I'm the first to admit that what I read affects what and how I write. I try to avoid vampire type stories when I'm in the thick of it. For example, this summer HBO's "True Blood" nearly sent me into a spiral of self-degredation and despair. Really, except for minor, tangential details "Benajah's Keeper" is nothing like the Sookie Stackhouse novels. Another good one? After reading "The Hunger Games" trilogy (twice over in the course of 3 days), I could not stop writing in present tense. It took a good long while to shake that one.

Please don't take this as I am easy manipulated or have a weak sense of voice. I blame years of parrot-ing knowledge--the only way to survive at my job. I just absorb things like that.

So I began to think over the last couple books I've read. Nothing too serious, for sure. My friend who works at the local library brought home some donated YA books that I snatched up in an instant, including Cate Tiernan's "Balefire" series.

Now, I looooooved her "Sweep" series in high school, a scary six years ago. But I also loooooooooved "The Animorphs" at age ten. Needless to say, perception is everything.

So I started this four book saga with nostalgic hope. And cheese and rice, it was terrible. Like really, really awful. Being me, I finished all the books, though sorely disappointed (it's very rare that I don't finish a has to seriously disturb me or bore me to death).

Afterwards I realized this is the shit (for lack of a better word) with which I've been filling my precious free time. PRECIOUS FREE TIME. As old as it makes me feel, I think I can officially say I am DONE with YA literature. There's just too much fluff...and seriously if one more girl falls in love with some awesomely hott guy for ABSOLUTELY NO FUCKING REASON one more time, I might take drastic measures.

I'm not saying the romance portion of my plot is perfect, but I can guarantee that I agonized over it. The "Why does he love her?" and several other similar phrases are questions I constantly ask myself. And yes, sometimes it ultimately does not matter why. But I feel, as a responsible creator of these characters, I should ask myself the same questions they should be asking themselves.

Needless to say, I've moved on to more "adult" literature--not to say that I haven't read my fair share of age appropriate novels. I'm currently reading "Cloud Atlas" and love it so far. It's wonderful to see the different uses of language and dialect. Plus, the motifs and interconnectivity within all the story lines are wonderful.

But more on that later...when I've finished reading.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I got my my first editorial review back this week! Take a look!

Clarion Review

Benajah's Keeper

Aeryn Dougan CreateSpace 978-1-4775-6232-1 Five Stars (out of Five)

Aeryn Dougan’s luscious debut romance novel, Benajah’s Keeper, introduces Evanna Amaranthine, a cool, calculating vampire who protects humanity by killing and sucking the blood of heinous criminals. She carries out instructions given to her by Keeper, the head of the vampire fortress in which she lives—a place known as Benajah.

What begins as a seemingly typical mission to assassinate a threat to Benajah turns upside down when Evanna finds herself questioning Keeper’s truthfulness. She also begins having dreams of a past life and experiencing vulnerabilities she once disdained as the province of her ostensibly weak-willed, human-loving vampire friend, Zak, and those pesky humans themselves. Worse still, she finds herself falling in love with a human.

Although billed as a romance, this nuanced novel, in fact, straddles genres. In a masterstroke, the book begins with a Bible-like prologue about how vampires were created with the blessing of God. By connecting vampires to the Creation story, the author gives the beings a mythic, sacred quality not generally found in works about vampires.

As the bloodsuckers struggle to balance their human and vampiric qualities, as well as their relationship to their prey, the plot plants itself firmly within the personal realm of finding oneself. The inner conflict Evanna experiences is combined with outside threats from menacing vampires, evoking the timelessness of a battle-laden epic while exploring age-old themes of love, war, and identity.
The human and vampire characters are well drawn, although Evanna’s aloofness initially makes her irritating. Her transformation from emotionally unavailable to deeply feeling occurs with layered realism. Even though the protagonist’s love interest has the annoyingly symbolic name of Messiah, he nevertheless manages to transcend traditional Christ-like attributes and become a believable character. Readers will also find themselves invested in the doings of the secondary characters because they are similarly multilayered, even the villians.

Dougan enriches vampire lore by creating a fascinating code by which these beings live
and a society of guilds that they inhabit. Anyone tired of standard-issue vampire fare will welcome the complexity the author brings to her bloodsuckers. For those who enjoy tales of reincarnation, the past-life vignettes integrate themselves seamlessly into the present-day plot. Both teen and adult audiences will find themselves drawn to Benajah’s Keeper.

                                                                                        Jill Allen 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


But, really, I did. As the past three weeks of radio silence (or should that be blog silence?) has shown, I meant what I said. I'm really bad at keeping up with this. Oh well.

That does bring me to my point today, however. Self-fulfilling prophecy...and I guess, moreover, fate. I'm not going to say that I put all my coins in the 'destiny' bag (I find that to be a wee bit egotistical), but I'm not against the idea either. I like to use it as reference, especially on those days when I wonder what the hell I'm doing.

Here's an example. Sometimes I wonder how I let myself get stuck in this tiny ass town (smaller than the hometown I SWORE to get out of), working a retail job, living in a crappy apartment, etc...Then I actually think about all of the things (mostly my cats) I wouldn't have if I hadn't gotten this job and all the people I would not have met. Thinking about it this way, makes the not-so-perfect seem much more bearable.

Before you say to yourself, that's not really fate, hear me out. It may seem silly when I talk about destiny on the level of jobs or friends, but on a bigger scale it has so much more of an impact. If someone could trace an meaningful event (think BIG) to single decision, or even a set of decisions, that may have happened days, months, or years in the past, what does that say about the control we have over our lives? It's amazing to think that something as insignificant as not getting into art school--something hundreds of hopeful students face each year--could lead to creation the most murderous dictator in history. If fate teaches us anything, it's that we don't have control.

While this subject has been on my mind lately, it became a particularly dominant thought this past weekend after talking to my sister about what she thought of Benajah's Keeper. She mentioned that she skipped ahead to the end (claiming she needed to study and not read books for pleasure...) and was surprised that what she had anticipated was not what happened. Without giving anything away, I will simply say it had to do with who turned out to be the "bad guy." Hearing her say this made me think: how would it have turned out if I made that decision instead? How would it have changed my characters?

Now, this is not to say that I am rethinking my ending. I know that Benajah's Keeper ends the way it's supposed to end. But the second novel in the series is still VERY moldable, and I think that this conversation may have just changed that book--and the one after--for the better. It opened up a brand new wormhole, one that I cannot wait write.

And with how crazy this weekend was, I don't think anything but kismet can explain it.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Good? I don't know if I can guarantee that, but I'm going to try.

See, I'm not good at this whole blogging thing. Terrible, in fact. I've made multiple attempts and failed every single time. Even when a grade was involved (stupid art school). The problem that I've had is that I like to know who I'm talking to, or, even less specifically, that I am talking to SOMEONE. I'm sure, however, that I'm not the only one to experience this when facing the world of the web, but it's daunting. Very, very daunting.

I'm going to start this like a first date. You and me. I'll tell you about myself...maybe you'll share something about yourself.

Currently, I work as a kitchen designer at a local home improvement store. I can't say which one, as I am pretty sure I signed something that said I wasn't allowed to blog about it. Other than telling you I spend 40 hours a week there, and I generally like my job--even though it subtracts valuable time away from promoting my work, crafting, and making art--I can't say much else. And that's fine with me.

My two cats are named Leto and Ghanima. I'm extremely proud of this. I firmly believe that everything that deserves a name should a) fit its name and b) have a name that's meaningful. More on this later.

I never have enough time--or space, actually--to do the things I want. I went to school for printmaking, graphic design, and photography, though I dabbled in glass making (burning myself repeatedly) as well. I make and sell jewelry when I'm not writing or doing these other things. And all that is around feeding my boyfriend and cats.

Finally, I am the author of a brand new vampire novel Benajah's Keeper. I am very excited to have this book available, not simply because it is my "brain child" or really anything as emotional or sentimental as that. I just think the world is ready for something new. Or as new as vampire novels can get.

There are a few things I hope to achieve on this blog. The first is the most obvious: promote my book. This includes the usual promotional stuff--news, sale info, etc... I would also like to provide insight to my methods, my choices, and overall experience of being a self published author. Something that seems  like a fun idea to me, which would only work once a fair amount of people have read Benajah's Keeper, is to hold art contests or discussions about the characters, for instance which actors would be in the movie if it ever were to be one (in a perfect fairytale world, of course).

What I DON'T want to see is this blog go by the wayside. The more interaction from you, the more I'm likely to post. No pressure.

Until we meet again,


Friday, October 26, 2012


Benajah's Keeper springs from project I began while in high school. It originally spanned no more than 60 pages and had a very youthful plot. Six years ago, I decided to revisit the document. Now it well surpasses 300 pages, and the manuscript has also received very positive reviews by both beta readers and professional editors.

As you have read (or should read!) here Benajah's Keeper is set in a world where vampires govern man, beginning with a prologue entitled “Genesis." The plot arc begins when the reader is introduced Evanna, the heroine of the story. To quickly describe her “adventure,” Evanna leaves her beloved vampire guild (Benajah) to complete a bloody assignment; while on this mission she is introduced to the realm of human beings on an entirely new level, plagued by dreams of a past life, and finds controlling her emotions a difficult task. While incorporating many of the characteristics of Urban Fantasy novels today, Benajah's Keeper also touches on the importance of loyalty, family, and being true to who you are. I like to call it a “coming of age” story...with vampires.

However, the publishing world today is somewhat difficult to penetrate. It's not simply a matter of finishing a manuscript, sending it off to a publishing company, and having a published book. There are agents involved who you first have to convince to represent both you and your work. Then they find a publisher. It is a long, time consuming, frustrating, and difficult path. 

I have decided to self publish with a company that offers global distribution, availability online, in bookstores, on the Kindle, and other e-readers. The main downside to self publication, however, is the marketing of your title relies greatly on self promotion and word of mouth. That is where you come in.

That being said: I need your help!

What I am asking: Read my book!
It can be purchased from Amazon in both hardcopy and digital form (coming soon); when you've finished, leave a review. Secondly, I am hoping to form a “street team.” It's fairly simple: you let people know about my book.

Here are some ways you can help:
  • You could go through your contacts and contact people you think would be interested in reading my book.
  • Social media: like, tweet, share, or submit to your favorite sites.
  • Stop in at a local library or an independent bookstore and see if they would be interested in carrying my book. Just ask if they are open to self-published work and if the genre fits with their customer base.
  • If you REALLY wanted to be more involved, I am considering putting together promotional packets which would have flyers, bookmarks, etc...that you could leave at local coffee shops or post on public bulletin boards.

These are only the few simple ideas I have come up with, but I am sure there are more. If you have any ideas or suggestions, please let me know. I can't guarantee a reward if you choose to become involved. I am not giving out prizes or money for new readers; it is my hope that my work will be enough to convince you to help me. However, I would gladly compensate you by returning the favor on any of your endeavors.
I truly believe that I have written an entertaining novel that people will love and it's my goal to simply get exposure. With your help, on some distant day, you might be able to say to any stranger on the street that you “knew that girl when...” or you “taught that girl to read/write/live...”.

If you want to get involved, have any questions, suggestions, please reply or send an email to Thank you so much for your time!

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Hello all!

Exciting news this morning- Benajah's Keeper is now available! You can get your copy here! It will be available in Kindle format shortly (I'll keep you posted). Until then, read away if you can. Comment, subscribe to my Facebook following, or keep track of me on Twitter @benajahskeeper.



Wednesday, October 10, 2012


It seems to me the easiest way to get this started is just to start. So here's a sample chapter for your perusal. Read it, comment. Follow me on Twitter @BenajahsKeeper or 'like' me on Facebook. You know the drill. And if you're really feeling up to it, PREORDER your copy today:


Before there was light, there was darkness. An inky black stretched over the peaks of formless mountains and sank into the deep caverns and canyons of oceans-to-be. The wind caressed the bodiless land with seraphic fingers, the world trembling beneath their touch. And the silence was so loud the shapeless rocks seemed to sing, the air thick with their melodic hum.