Black Pyramid by Anita Stewart and her thoughts on Author House

Black Pyramid: Ancient Breeds Series
Anita Stewart

Black Pyramid: Ancient Breeds SeriesEgypt. A beautiful land enriched with a history of mythical Gods and power hungry Pharaohs. The ONE who walks among us, who knows the truth of the Ancient Egyptians…. He hides the reality of an era long erased from the Temples and Obelisks, in order to keep the world safe. For there lurks an evil, waiting to regain control of Egypt and destroy the rest of the world!

Melissa Ambers, decides to take the once in a lifetime offer, to excavate a pyramid. Only this one isn’t just any pyramid. It’s the mysterious Black Pyramid! She soon finds out there is more than meets the eye to the stone monument. And within hours of stepping inside the dark tomb, she finds herself on the war path with Siaak. An ancient being, who will stop at nothing, to keep the BloodSeeker imprisoned. Even if it means killing Melissa and all who seek the knowledge of the Ancient Breeds!

Anita Stewart is a mother of three. Part Navajo, born and raised in North Carolina she is currently residing in England. I asked her a few questions on the writing process for Black Pyramid:

What is the genre of Black Pyramid?
Its a romance, fantasy, paranormal book.

Tell us a little bit about the story?
It is based on the Ancient Egyptians. More to the point, the original sand dwellers that predates the mighty Sphinx! I wanted to tell a story that explained who was the real creators of that amazing structure! And to go along with it, I decided to give the world a nasty, vile enemy, the BloodSeekers. A vampire race that ran riot around the world. Destroying everything in their path, including the humans. In order to fight them, the Egyptians, Atlantians, Myans, Aztecs, Amazons, Greeks, Romans and a few other Breeds decided to send their best warriors, in a last attempt at salvation! Black Pyramid, is the first in the series.

Is this your debut novel?
Yes, it is. And it was released July 5th, 2010.

How does Black Pyramid compare with other vampire novels and what makes it different?
My vampires, the BloodSeekers are very unique. They don’t disintegrate in sunlight, nor do they cower underground, or other dark, dank places. They think for themselves and are extremely power hungry, blood thirsty creatures, hell bent on world domination! The BloodSeekers feast on human blood which turns them into BloodSlaves.

What audience is the book intended?
Black Pyramid has one sex scene. Not that my characters didn’t try it on more than once. (laughs) There is violence and language of an adult nature. So it’s not recommended for a young audience.

How long did it take you to write it, and how many drafts?
It took close to a year to write. I have a very young family with health issues and writing has to take a back seat at times. As for how many drafts, I lost count after ten. LOL. But seriously, I don’t think any one author is ever completely happy with their first book. You work your socks off. Putting all your heart into it, and then when it comes to the finish line, you think to yourself, “I could have changed that part, or tweaked that scene.” I had to make myself stop. And tell myself, enough is enough. But I’m very proud of myself and I believe it’s a great story!

How many books are there going to be in the Ancient Breeds Series?
That depends on how well the series is received by the general public, but I’ve planned fifteen.

Can they be stand-alone reads, or will I have to read all to understand the story?
Each story continues on with the next book. Originally I wanted to make them stand alone reads, but there’s just too much to try and shove into one particular book. But that doesn’t mean you wouldn’t understand the story by reading them out of order or at random.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book? Can we have a snippet?
(Smiling) Yes I do. I have a few favourite scenes and I’m open to sharing with anyone remotely interested. I’ve included a small scene. The main characters, Melissa and Siaak, have escaped after a confrontation with a hired assassin and this scene takes place after. I hope you enjoy it.

She took the last drag of her cigarette before flicking it on the sandy ground. She blew the smoke up into the air as she stamped the fire out. With a grunt of annoyance, she pushed off the large granite statue and flew at him. “I can’t believe you’d sink so low as to blame all this on Jonathon. He’s a decent man. Okay, sure, he gets on my nerves. He’s a man, he can’t help it.” She shook her head in denial. She refused to believe what he was telling her. “Jonathon isn’t trying to kill me, don’t be so stupid, I’ve known him since I was nineteen. You, on the other hand, mentioned it a time or two.”
He charged at her, ramming her body into the weathered Obelisk.
“OW!” Her head hit the hard stone making her vision blur. Instinctively, she pulled her fist back to punch him, as she strained to bite him with her teeth.
Siaak blocked her attacks. His hand clamped around her wrist forcing her arm behind her back with a rough jerk.
She sucked air in between her teeth at the sudden burning, cramping pain running along her shoulder blade. Was he trying to pull her arm out of its socket? She gave him a black look as she refused to give in.
The more she struggled, the harder he squeezed.
“I am not playing games Melissa. Open your eyes woman! The man wants you dead. Does that not upset you? I mean, if my friends hired assassins to kill me, I would be a little pissed off!”
“You want me dead, too!” She shouted back as she stood on her toes trying to relieve the burning spasm. His fingers squeezed harder at her accusation.
The sound of steel rang in her ears as he pulled his sword free and held it to her neck, just below her chin. “I can do it here and now if that is what you want?” His stance told her, all he had to do was push. The sharp blade would cut right through her neck, tendons, muscle and bone.
“I will be honest with you. My original plans were to kill you both. If you knew what is locked inside that tomb, you would understand my reasons for keeping it that way. I am honour bound to protect you and everyone else on this miserable planet!”
“Let me guess! It is alien and you have a pair of blue tights on under your clothes?” Her voice dripped with sarcasm.
His features hardened instantly. His dark eyes narrowed to mere slits as he felt the sudden urge to shake some sense into her. The square of his jaw, now sprinkled with black hair, ticked with anger as he clenched his teeth together. “You mock me now, but when the time comes, you will need me at your back.”

Are Mellissa and Siaak your main characters, and will they be in all of the series?
Each book will feature a particular Breed and their HEA. Melissa and Siaak will be in other books, along side other characters. So their story isn’t finished with this book.

Do you have any writing experience? Ie have you worked as a journalist, completed a university writing degree?
(Hangs head) No. I have no prior experience. I just love to write! I decided to publish Black Pyramid, only after enough people encouraged me to go through with it.

What are you working on now?  How many in the series?
I’m currently working on book 2 and 3. Sands of Time: Book 2, and Serpent’s Revenge: Book 3, Ancient Breeds. And like I said earlier, 15 in the series, but that depends on so many factors i.e. readers. And at the moment, I’m a quarter of the way through on each novel.

Have you many unfinished novels/short stories tucked away under the bed?

I have a few short stories completed and unfinished. Same with novels. The Guardians, is a five hundred page manuscript, that I plan to re-write. It’s an open/ending series called, Amirus. I also have three other series I’m currently working on. I tend to take a break from Ancient Breeds to work on the others. It’s a nice change, until the characters start moaning.

You self-published with AuthorHouse. Have you tried to get an agent prior to this?
To be honest, I never bothered with getting an agent. I just assumed that with my life/family/health, that writing would be just a dream. Something I would do for myself, a hobby. So, no…it never crossed my mind to get an agent for my work.

What made you chose AuthorHouse? Can you tell us how much it cost?
AuthorHouse (originally called Traffords) was the first name that came up when I typed in my browser: Publishing a book. I filled in a form with all my details and received a booklet outlining book packages, marketing packages and so forth. Three years later, a few manuscripts completed, I decided to go with the feedback from my beta readers and self publish Black Pyramid. As for the costs of my package, I think it was just over a grand.
As a matter of fact, I just wrote on my web-blog about my experience with AuthorHouse. Titled: Self Publishing Do’s and Don’t’s. It’s under Blog/News

What’s your experience with them?
I have to say, I found it hard. I didn’t know what I was doing. (Self publishing was a whole new world for me.) I knew I should have a hundred questions, but I didn’t know where to start. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the people that worked with me, were great. It’s just that I think they should offer first timers a little more support. Give guidelines instead of shoving a website at you and telling you to visit it. That doesn’t tell me, or anyone else what to do, or where to start. Okay, so you might know more about the process than I do, that’s great! But, for people that are ‘not in the know’ give us more to work on!

Did they help with the editing?
Nope! Not unless I paid for the service. And I have to say, at the price of so many pence/cents per word, ($0.029) with a manuscript of 127,634 words, I’ll let you work the math. But I can tell you, it wasn’t happening for me! The same applies for the marketing side. Everything AuthorHouse and most other self publishing companies that I looked into, offer loads of extras, with a extra price tag. All I can suggest, is that you do a little research and go with the publisher that meets your needs.

Tell us about your marketing experience.

My marketing experience.. (taps chin in thought) has been a real testament of patience. My first idea was a website. I would really recommend a website. If you can afford to pay for one, great. If not, there are loads of Free websites! Then I spent hours at the computer, scouring the internet to find Free sites to advertise. Facebook, Myspace and Bookbuzzr to name a few.

Do you have a critique partner?
Yes, I have several beta readers, or critique partners. More now with the publication of Black Pyramid. It’s amazing how many people want to read your ‘next’ book.

Now your book is “out there” is there anything you’d do differently if you could go back and do it again?
There are a few things I would change. Like, not using a laptop that had seen better days! And I might have looked into a agent.

Any last words?
I would have to say that no matter what, I’ve enjoyed the journey of self publication. Would I do it again? I’m not a 100% certain I would. I think the best advice I could give any writer interested in self publishing…look around for the best deal that suits you, or go with E-books. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro, or Adobe Acrobat to turn your completed manuscript into a PDF file. If you live in the states, go with Kindle. You can make a bigger profit margin with ebooks. E-Junkies is a great service to distribute your ebooks without having to sit by your computer, waiting for buyers, with endless emails of how to and where is my download link? And last but not least, believe in yourself. If you want to write, than do it!

To contact Anita and find out more about her and her writing visit her website:
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Black Pyramid: Ancient Breeds Series