CATALYST (Vampire Apocalypse #2) Release Date

The 2nd book in the bestselling Vampire Apocalypse series will be released on October 20, 2012!

I can’t tell you how many emails and messages I’ve gotten from fans asking when this book will be out. It got delayed a little bit. What can I say? I’m a bit of a control freak and wanted to hold onto it a little longer.

Vampire Apocalypse is the major novel series I’m working on right now, meaning they are ~ 300 page novels (trade paperback size) similar to the length of the books in the DEMON KISSED series.  I expect book #3 in the Vampire Apocalypse series, DIVERGENT, to be released in December.

The giveaway for signed copies of CATALYST is still going on. Want to enter to win a copy? Simply post your review of BANE on Amazon after reading the 1st book. That’s it! I’ll pick a couple of awesome people when the time comes. Winners will be announced on the blog. US only.

I can’t wait to share the next part of Kahli’s adventure with you! If you haven’t read BANE, make sure you grab it while it’s on sale for 99 cents! It’ll go back to regular price soon.


Want to get an email reminder on release day? Text AWESOMEBOOKS to 22828. Have a great weekend!

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YA Romance, Mature YA book, contemporary romance, secret life, hannah montannaSays who? Says you guys!

OMG! Seriously. You guys are gonna make me cry! Check out a couple of the ♥ COLLIDE: THE SECRET LIFE OF TRYSTAN SCOTT #1 ♥ reviews:

“I have read all of H.M. Ward books n I’m n love with them all. This book Collide is another great book. It’s short, but I still love it. I read it n a day, but I wish I could find a man like Trysten for me…lol I hope Mari gives Trysten a chance because he seems very sweet, special. Great job Ward, keep writing cause u make my day a better day when I can sit down n read great books by great artist.-Deda via Amazon

“I am a huge fan of H. M Ward. After reading Collide i can say it is my favorite work of hers. it took me only a few hours to read it but i was addicted after the first page. I love the way Ward writes. Throughout Collide I has this feeling of anticipation and nervousness. In a way I felt the way the characters felt, and i love when an author can write like that. It makes me love the book even more. Collide is an amazing book and I was addicted. Collide is just and addicting and agonizing book to read. I could not read fast enough. I would find myself jumping lines so that i could know what would happen faster. Ward definitely worte an amazing book. The emotions, actions, and thoughts that the main charaters where having are exactly how people my age (i am 16 years old) would feel and think and act. Collide is definitely a must read! 5 stars!” -Xena0128 via Amazon

I’m so glad you guys like it! I haven’t written anything like it before and it’s so nice to read your comments and reviews! The fact that you all love it blows me away. I can’t wait to put out the second volume and see what you think!

Grab COLLIDE now and see what they’re talking about!


BACKDRAFT: THE SECRET LIFE OF TRYSTAN SCOTT #2 will be released on Oct. 1, 2012. Want to get a reminder via email so you don’t miss it? Text AWESOMEBOOKS to 22828 or click here. Hope you had a great weekend!

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BANE Trivia by H.M. Ward (Vampire Paranormal Romance)

Yup. It’s true. The world in BANE was going to be insanely hot until I saw the model’s coat. Instant make over to snow. After watching a documentary on the ice caps and global warming, I changed the world to a frozen wasteland. Never underestimate the power of a cool coat!

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TORN (Demon Kissed #3) is 99 Cents This Weekend!

TORN (DEMON KISSED #3) is on sale for 99 cents this weekend only!

Grab book #3 and get caught up! This is one of my favorite books in the series. It’s the one where everything changes and nothing is what it seems.

FYI, you can grab books #1-3 for under $5 this weekend.  That’s right! Demon Kissed is still on sale for 99 cents. Cursed is $2.99, and with Torn only 99 cents, you’ll have the first three books in the Demon Kissed series for under $5!

TORN has NEVER been on sale for 99 cents before.  I have no idea when or if I’ll do it again, so if you’ve been thinking about reading it, grab it now!



When you are done, make sure you enter to win the set of signed books up for grabs! Full details are listed in this post.

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Evolution of a Book Cover (aka Dude, that’s fickin awesome! How’d u do that?)

It’s been drawn to my attention that I have an unusual perspective when it comes to being a writer.  Not only do I write and market all my books, but I also create the covers–from scratch.  And not stock photography, pre-fabby, template kinda scratch.  I’m talking non-Betty Crocker insta-cover, going-the-full-mile kinda scratch.  The kind of covers that truly start with nothing but a camera and an idea.

Here’s what I got to work with.  (Yes, I am speaking in my muppet urban vernacular in this post, because it’s fun and trendy, so you’ll have to deal).

You see this?  I got a regular girl, a camera, and my brain.  That’s it.  That’s all I start with.  (Want to see everything bigger?  Click the image and it’ll open full size).

We usually shoot a few different outfits, something plain–but who likes plain?  I mean, why not pull out all the stops and throw on a ball gown?  These are Young Adult book covers after all.  (And once you own a ballgown, I’m convinced you’ll wear it everywhere.  Because they are that much fun!  It’s only a matter of time until ballgowns become street clothes).  Anyway, a big dress with lots of folds in the fabric adds texture, depth, and interest–in other words it photographs really fricken awesome!

Next, I find stuff that will help the flow of the final image and tie into the story.  In this shoot, the model is wearing Collin’s ring and holding Shannon’s dagger.  The images were shot (usually) with one large soft box and fill light.  I wanted high contrast between the skin and the background and dress, so I made sure this series had more evenly lit skin in the shots for the TORN cover below.  On the Demon Kissed cover (jacket pictured below), things are much more shadowy.  The short lighting gives that tense ominous feeling that I <3.

After the model is set up, we start shooting.  The shoot runs 2-3 hours depending on what we are doing.  Going into a new shoot, I usually have an idea of the kind of feelings I want from the final image and then try to figure out the poses that match.  So its like reverse-engineering a little bit.  The entire series will have all the covers shot on the same day at the studio.

Most images tend to be low-key (dark images with a lot of black) since that reflects the mood of the Demon Kissed series. When I shoot romance covers next week for more Ella Steele’s upcoming releases, they’ll be brighter to match the moods of those books.  (YES!  I’m writing more romance under the name Ella Steele.  I’ll talk more about that in another post).

I can’t tell you how important it is to make sure the mood of the book matches the mood of the cover.  If you have happy hearts, bright colors, and unicorns–then read Demon Kissed–you’ll have a wtf moment and your brain will explode.  Okay, maybe not explode, but if you were looking for something fun and light, and got something dark and sexy, you might not be too happy with me.  The cover is one of the things that worried me about going the traditional publication route, since I’d have no control.

So, if you remember one thing from this post it should be this: MOOD MATTERS.

After the shoot, we look through the images.  You might be thinking, FUN!  Well, in a way it is, but what is actually happening is that I am looking at a series of sister shots (a bunch of shots that look nearly identical).  It’s like looking at a filmstrip, and playing spot-the-diff. After going through each and every image, I’ll chose the one that I like best for the cover.

The 4 images above are unedited and uncropped.  They’re straight out of camera – which I NEVER show to anyone cuz it’s like walking around the mall in nothing but underpants, and I’m not that kinda girl.  But for the sake of art, I decided to post them today, so you can see the process that goes into making the book cover.  Parts of making the cover are fun.  Parts are tedious.  I mean, do you see the difference b/t #1 and #3?  Imagine looking at 30 shots of those, where the differences are so minor most people can’t see them.  This is where being a freaky OCD perfectionist helps.  I can use my super-critical skills for good instead of evil, and all while not donning a cape.  (Although capes are really fun, right?)

So I chose an image.  We hold a huge ceremony and bust open champagne and… well, no.  Not yet.  But keep your cape on.  We’re almost done and you’ll want to fly and show all your friends.

The next thing is editing the image.  My models wear stage make-up when we’re shooting. It makes editing go a lot faster.  The thick make-up hides skin issues and makes certain that the model still has color on her face after the cover is fully processed.  During the final stages of making the cover, the image’s brightness is pushed, and it’s possible to lose skin tones, so the edited image above is actually intentionally underexposed.

The next step is pulling her off the background and starting the cover design.  If you purchase stock to make your covers, this is where your cover begins.  If you’re a control freak like me, look at all the things you didn’t get to control!  Sometimes it pays to use stock, but if you are writing a series, promoting the hell out of it, and then have the same cover models as everyone else–well, it’s not very good branding.  Dude, I’ve seen at least 17 covers, all by different authors, who have the same exact couple on the cover.  The images were being used by the Big 6 and Indie authors.

It makes your branding moot when other people have access to the same images.

Business brains might be thinking, Yes, but is a photo shoot cost-effective?  The answer:  Hell yes!  Stock images are expensive and now Indie authors can’t buy the little images because the pixel dimensions are too small for Amazon’s new requirements (they are asking 2500px on the longest side for ideal viewing).  You want ideal viewing.  That’s the whole purpose of the cover – to lure in readers.  Having it showing like crap won’t help you.  So, your covers suddenly shot up in price if you are using stock.  Price a photoshoot.  You can find anything from $30, which can include the disc, and up.  Photographers’ rates are all over the place.  In other words, it’s worth looking into.

So I chose the shot I want to use, but it’s not perfect.  It’s not EXACTLY what I want.  It has the feeling, and she looks pretty, but it needs something.  I can see Shan’s blade and Collin’s ring, but I want the dress to pop more.  Although I LOVE purple, the Demon Kissed cover is purple, I want this cover to be different.

So, for TORN, I decided to make her gown red to match her lips.

As soon as I change her gown to red, I can see everything.  I know I want the gothic-ish overlay.  The entire series uses those to help tie them together.  I need to add her Martis mark to her forehead, the violet mark Ivy has in the book.  I change her eye color and make them rimming violet, like in the book.  And I brightened her hair.  It was getting lost a little bit after applying the layers of the overlay.

So, now my image has about 35 layers.  Here is a screen shot of what things look like at this point.  (And I’m working in CMYK for print.  I’ll convert it later to RGB for computer screens.  I’ve found it’s easier to maintain rich colors that way).

Next, I take my cover image (minus the words) flatten it and drop it onto the print template.  I check my gutters and crop lines (the little blue/ green rulers) to make sure everything lines up correctly so that it will print right.  My books are printed at a standard trade paperback size, in this case 5″x8″.  If I just made the template at 5×8, when the book is printed, it won’t look right.  You have to leave extra room so the cover can be cut before it’s bound to the rest of the book. You also need to leave a place for the barcode.  Your printer can give you the margins so you can place guidelines on your cover to make sure everything lines up correctly.  If you can do the interior margins, this is the same kind of thing.

Next, the text is added.  All my covers have large text on the back.  It’s the hook from the first book in the Demon Kissed series, then they go into their own description.  Then I add my other book covers from this series to the back of the book.  Again, images lend to mood.  The more images you have, the better.  There’s a jewel pic on the spine, a little glimpse of the cover pic.  And the number in the series, author, publisher, etc.  I also put on the back cover a new series that is coming out next.

And this is what it looks like when the jacket is complete and ready to print.

It’s kind of cool to see the process from start to finish.  It has that awesome-esk feeling of seeing a before and after shot.  Below is another completed book jacket.  It’s for the first book in the Demon Kissed series.  Remember how I told you that I LOVE purple?  Yeah, well, I have to make a consious effort not to make every single cover purple.  That also means my favorite cover in the entire series is this one… cuz it’s PURPLE!

That’s the evolution of a book cover.  It starts as a hunched-over, slobbering hairy guy, and ends with a pretty girl in a dress holding a dagger.  Tah-dah!



H.M. Ward is the bestselling author of the Demon Kissed series, and an award winning photographer.  To see all of her covers, click here.

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Sneak Peek: VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: BANE (Book #1) by H.M. Ward (Paranormal Romance)

Sneak Peek: Chapter 1 of VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: BANE (Book #1) by H.M. Ward

That day lingered at the back of Kahli’s mind like a nightmare. The memories and emotions bled together, making every terrorizing moment painfully clear.  Kahli and her mother were not halfway through the crystalized trees when the first ray of light burst forth. Icy pines jutted up out of the ground forming towering spires. Kahli remembered everything: The crisp scent of the morning air, the sunlight on her face, her mother’s voice—even and urgent—telling her to stay hidden. Every piece of information was stored with acute detail in her mind.

Making their way down the icy slope of the mountain had taken longer than expected that day.  It was nearly ten years ago now.  She was barely seven. Just after they’d entered the woods, Kahli’s mother turned sharply. Instinctively, she grabbed her daughter’s hand, and searched the landscape behind them. Mother’s heart stopped. The Trackers were too close.  If she didn’t do something, they would both be captured.

Her grip on Kahli’s small hand tightened. Leaning closer to her daughter, she whispered in her ear, “Run.”

Kahli blinked, shaking her head. It felt like she was stuck in a dream and time had stopped.  Her mind couldn’t comprehend what her mother had done.  What she said. This couldn’t be real.  But it was.  Mom ran directly toward the Trackers, leaving her behind.

Ignoring the terror that rushed through her tiny body, Kahli finally turned and sprinted in the opposite direction.  The pounding of her heart echoed in her ears as she gasped in the frigid air.  Cold dry wind whipped her small cheeks.  Kahli’s spiked shoes cut deep into the glittering snow, but they left no foot print, only tiny holes left by the spikes.  They would soon be covered with the dry powdery snow that blew through the air like dust.

Kahli ran until the stitch in her side felt like it was going to burst.  Her legs screamed in protest, burning, begging her to stop, but she didn’t.  She couldn’t. Sucking in huge breaths, Kahli ignored the needles pinching her lungs and fled.  She didn’t look back.  There were no sounds other than the thumping of her heart and the howl of wind ripping through the trees, nothing that indicated pursuit. She didn’t know what her mother heard, but she knew without a doubt that there was danger behind her, and that her mother had run straight into it.  Kahli stumbled, forcing her feet to continue.

The brightness of the frozen trees shone in her eyes like a thousand suns, blinding her.  They should have passed through these woods earlier.  It was her fault they were here now, trying to escape from creatures that couldn’t be outrun. Her heart hammered harder, her small body filled to the brim with fear, shaking as she ran. The ski mask that covered her face to protect her from the wind made it difficult to see.  She’d nearly collided with a tree. It didn’t fit quite right.  The worn wool was slightly too large for her small head. Kahli untied her hood and tore off the mask. She decided it was better than slamming into one of the ancient aspens. Gasping for air, she shoved the mask in her pocket.  Fiery red hair streamed behind her as she fled.

Nearing the edge of the woods, Kahli slowed.  A sound carried through the trees to her left.  Jerking her head toward the noise, Kahli saw her mother rush through a thicket of briars, shattering them into tiny fragments as she thrashed her way through.

Breathless, Mother reached for Kahli, and shoved her into the frozen thicket.  The branches gave way without shattering, concealing the small child.  Leaning down, Mother breathed so hard that Kahli could barely understand her.  “Stay in there. Don’t come out.”  She put her finger on her lips, and backed away from her daughter’s frightened green eyes and small round face.

Mother was within reach when the Trackers burst into the clearing.  A large man with a thick coat that barely concealed his round belly said, “Thought you could escape, did you?”  He wore white like we did, so he could blend into the landscape.  The man moved towards Mother, who stood utterly still.  The dark-haired man examined her, sliding his eyes up and down her thin frame.  Her fingers fisted at her sides, ready to fight.  The man’s narrow eyes ignored the gesture.  Stubble lined his jowls, as if he hadn’t shaved for days.  He scratched his chin like he’d forgotten something.

A boy appeared next to him.  He couldn’t have been more than 8 years old.  His gangly frame seemed too tall for his thin body.  He was like the other man—pale with dark hair.  Stepping into the clearing, he stopped behind the man.  The boy appeared frail, but Kahli knew he wasn’t.  That boy was a Tracker, a vampire, like the fat man.

Kahli pressed her face to the cold ground, trying not to breathe.  She didn’t know what they were doing.  Tears stung the corners of her eyes as terror coursed through her veins, but she remained hidden as her mother said.

Mother held her chin up high, “I evaded you long enough.”  She’d lost her mask.  Wisps of dark hair blew gently away from her face.

He laughed, reaching into the bag he carried across his chest.  “Not much good it did you.”  He removed something that glittered in the sunlight.

Mother stepped away, ready to run.  But she didn’t want to flee and leave her daughter with the Trackers.  Even the boy was dangerous, but there were no other options.  When the man moved to wrap the gleaming metal around her wrists, Mother lifted her foot and stabbed the man in the leg with the spikes of her shoe.  A wild howl tore from his throat. The nails pierced his skin, leaving long deep holes in his flesh.  Blood covered his shin in long lines where metal met flesh and blackened blood poured down his leg.

The dark haired boy came to life.  He moved faster than she could see.  Before her mother got in another shot, she heard her hit the ground. A gush of air was forced out of her lungs when she fell on the packed snow.

The fat man reached for Mother, jerking her to her feet.  “You’ll pay for that.” Without another word, his hand collided with the side of her face.  The sound filled Kahli’s ears.  Her tiny stomach lurched within her, her small eyes wide and frightened.  His hand landed squarely on her mother’s jaw with such force that her head turned to the side.

Mother didn’t scream.  She just closed her eyes.  When she reopened them, she glared at him.

The man ignored her glare, and cast his gaze at every tree in the clearing.  The holes in his leg had already healed, but his pants were stained with blood.  The boy watched, standing nearby, his eyes scanning the trees.

He addressed the boy, his dark eyes searching the gleaming forest. “She doubled back.  There has to be a reason.”

The boy was quiet for a moment and then asked, “Do you think she has young nearby?”

Mother didn’t move.  Her expression remained the same.  Kahli’s heart was beating so fast within her tiny body that she thought they would hear it.  She stuffed her mittens into her mouth to keep from crying.  They’d find her.  They knew she was there.  Hidden at their feet.

The man nodded, his lips snaked into a grin, “It stands to reason…”

The boy stepped forward and began to move methodically through the clearing.  Looking between the branches in the frozen thickets, his ungloved hands pushed through thorns, bending back the branches.  The ice-covered brambles slid against his pale skin, but he did not bleed.  He continued pulling vines and branches, parting them and peering into the shadows until he was next to the exact place Kahli was hiding.

Kahli held her breath.  Her mother’s eyes were glued to the boy’s back as his hands were dangerously close to her daughter.  Mother’s entire body was stiff.  She swallowed hard, watching the boy get closer and closer.

Kahli’s heart slammed into her ribs.  Air wouldn’t come. She couldn’t breathe. The boy crouched, parting the thicket and bent down low.  He was standing just above her, his hands right above her head.  And then he stopped.  His blue eyes stared into the dark place where Kahli hid deep within the thicket.

His eyes locked on hers.

Kahli’s small body was frozen.  A scream was stuck in her throat, refusing to come out.  Her teeth were biting into her mitten, and she couldn’t stop.  Every part of her wanted to scream.

His blue eyes remained fixed on hers, but the boy didn’t move.  He simply stared. She wasn’t certain if he saw her among the shadows or not.  After a moment he turned away.  The branches flew back into place, concealing Kahli.

“There’s nothing here, but frozen thorns.  Whatever she had is gone,” the boy stated.

The man grunted, displeased.  “Then find her.  You know the situation we’re in.  Bringing in a wild female and her young would fix everything.  We’d be welcomed back by the Queen herself.”  He beamed, imagining it.

The boy nodded, dark hair falling in his eyes, “Yes, Sir.”  And he took off between the trees, tracking down a girl that was hidden right in front of him.”



-Excerpt from VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE: BANE (Book #1) by H.M. Ward, a paranormal romance novel.  Release date: June 15, 2012.  Please note that this is not the final copy.  Changes may be made prior to publication.
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10 Days of Teasers! THE 13th PROPHECY (book #5 in the DEMON KISSED series)

It’s time for 10 DAYS OF TEASERS!  

Help us get ready for the release of the final Ivy Taylor book in the DEMON KISSED series by H.M. Ward!

Day #1 is…You get to read the 1st line in THE 13th PROPHECY!

The shadows surrounding the Pool of Lost Souls were different. -The 13th Prophecy

Ooooh!  Ahhhhh!  I can’t wait to share this book with you!

And don’t worry DEMON KISSED fans, a spin off series will appear in early summer 2012.  Can’t say too much about it now, but it has some of your favorite characters.  This series will follow someone of interest in DEMON KISSED.  I’m guessing you’ll know exactly who when you finish reading THE 13th PROPHECY.  It’s gonna be awesome!  The working title for the spin off novel is FALLEN/ THE GOLDEN VALEFAR.

More teasers to come!  And, remember–THE 13th PROPHECY will be released on March 6, 2012!

Need to get caught up on this series?  Go to the ordering page for the series order and locations selling the books & ebooks.

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