Now available from Dark Dreams Publishing
Runner: Book II of The Chosen
Now available from Dark Dreams Publishing
Runner: Book II of The Chosen
New year. New determination.
I am writing.
I am editing.
Runner will be published by the end of the year.
The last three years have been a wild roller coaster ride. Every time I’ve thought I had control of my life again, or at least some semblance of it, some new challenge rose, frequently flanked by a couple old ones.
But everything feels different now.
My medical and family issues have slowly resolved, finally allowing my creative self to unfurl her wings and climb out from the protective cocoon in which she’s been hiding.
And it feels so glorious to stretch those wings.
My edit of Runner has morphed into a complete re-write of the first section, something that I hadn’t anticipated.
But it’s a good thing. In fact, it’s a great thing, and as it turned out, was absolutely necessary.
Runner‘s opening scene – about 20,000 words – hit the page in 2009, right after I completed the first draft of Watcher. It slowly evolved, 20,000-40,000 words at a time, until the initial draft was complete in late 2013.
Once the final chapter was done, it was time to turn my attention to an early chapter which I had purposely skipped. Medical research was needed to complete it, but that turned out to be much more difficult than I realized. I finally met an ER nurse who gave me a crash course in ER procedures (thank you, Janeane) and made me painfully aware that the scenes leading up to that chapter were completely unrealistic and needed major revision. Further discussions with my sister-in-law, a surgical nurse instructor, helped me fine-tune the scenes and keep them as medically accurate as possible.
And so the re-write began.
But like I said before, that was absolutely necessary. And not just because some of the details were wrong.
The writing was, well, not that great. I wrote those initial chapters five to seven years ago, and in the intervening years, something cool happened.
My writing improved. A lot.
And the first section of Runner is so much better now. There’s a maturity to the writing that even I can see, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to write this story the right way BEFORE it’s published.
So for those of you who’ve been wondering if you’d ever see Watcher‘s sequel, believe me when I tell you this:
It will be well worth the wait.
And so I slowly step back into the writing world.
I was recently accepted as a featured author at the Great Valley Bookfest in Manteca on October 8th. And next week, I’ll be helping the San Francisco chapter of the Horror Writers Association with their booth at the Bay Area Book Festival.
And in July?
I’m traveling to Romania for an 11-day tour of the country as research for Seeker, my third book in the Chosen series. I’ll post more on that later.
Several weeks ago, I attended StokerCon, the Horror Writers Association convention and awards. I hugged writer friends I haven’t seen in three years, and made some great new ones. The workshops re-energized me, but it was being back in the presence of so much wonderful creativity that really strengthened my determination to finish my current projects and start new ones. That, and the belief in me and my writing that my close friends and family have, is giving me the drive and the energy to pursue my passion and my dream of someday being able to do this full-time.
Because I have so many wonderful stories to tell.
Thought I’d check in and give you an update.
I’m in the midst of a major revision to the first part of Runner. I know – I thought it was done. But after consulting with an expert on an important part of the storyline, I needed to make some changes. I thought it was going to be the simple addition of a scene and maybe some minor corrections surrounding it. But that’s not the case. It’s amazing how one little change creates a ripple effect, and the tiny blip that was on the edge of your radar is now dead center and staring you down through sights aimed right at your face!
So, yeah. Gonna be a little longer. But I’m halfway through it – finishing it depends on just how much time real life demands of me.
I am also working on another project, one a little more personal and something totally different for me. When my mother was a child, she was given the Civil War diaries of her great-grandfather. He was a well-known war correspondent who regularly wrote articles for the National Tribune, a weekly newspaper based in Washington, D.C.
It’s been her lifelong dream to publish those diaries in the form of a book, and she has been transcribing them – first on a typewriter, then on a computer – for much of her life. She recently started prepping the finished book for publication through Amazon/Create Space and was having trouble with the formatting. I volunteered to help her, and am slowly straightening out the many kinks that Word can throw into a document. And no, not interested in using Scrivener or InDesign – I’m pretty good at beating Word into submission and just don’t have time to learn to use new software at this point.
So anyhow, my latest foray into publishing is now in the realm of non-fiction. I love this business – there’s always something new to learn and new territory to explore.
And for those who are Civil War buffs, I’ll let you know when this book is out. It’s pretty interesting – my great-great grandfather was certainly in the thick of things. I’m enjoying getting to know him, too. It’s kinda cool to think I might’ve inherited some of his talent.
That’s what it feels like.
Words stirring to life. Images joining one another to become fluid scenes, snippets of other worlds. Characters beginning to prod me with their stories again.
An urge similar to the nesting instinct has been building in me for a little while now. An urge to create a space in which the writer within me can once again create. The ingredients necessary for the focused wanderings of my imagination are slowly coming together: a quiet seclusion, a proper desk. A computer strong and powerful enough to capture sentences and harness them into coherence, to explore webpages without hesitation, to craft cover images into lures for the unsuspecting reader.
This past year – yes, it has been a year since the onset of my unplanned withdrawal from writing – has been filled with medical issues and family needs on top of an increased workload at the day job. But as each of these demands on my time and energy lessen, I can feel the writer begin to peek out and look around.
As my new workspace begins to take shape, excitement rises within me at the prospect of long hours spent recording the lives of the characters who’ve entrusted me with their stories. I’m eager to continue Sunny’s saga, to explore the origins of Nicolas, to follow Taz as he storms through history. Others wait as well – Sullivan and Sanders and Jade, whose young lives are complicated by their supernatural needs along with those of normal teenagers. In addition, a number of fresh faces are standing by, impatient to be given life upon pages of their own.
One of my first tasks as I emerge from my cocoon is to find an artist to illustrate my book covers. I need someone who can create from scratch, a realist to replicate the images floating within my mind as well as offer designs of their own. I’m starting my search at local colleges, but will also be exploring online resources.
I’m open to suggestions, so please contact me if you can recommend someone.
That’s it for now. But not for long – I’ll be stopping by regularly to introduce new features to my blog, and hopefully, a new design in the not-too-distant future.
It’s nice to be back.
Well? Did you notice I used proper capitalization in the post title?
I never do that.
But I did today, and will for the rest of February.
That’s because this is Women in Horror Month, and out of respect, I will behave like a professional writer and use proper punctuation.
But only in my blog title. No promises about the rest of my ramblings.
So you might be asking what this Women in Horror Month is all about.
It’s just that – celebrating women artists whose works, from film to art to literature, disturb you in some way.
For those of you unfamiliar with the genre, I’d like to clarify what horror means.
Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries offer several definitions of horror. I’ve combined them:
As you can see, horror does not necessarily mean gruesome or terrifying.
In reading my work, you will experience little fear, dread, or disgust, though non-horror readers do sometimes have issues with the images I paint of torn throats and coursing blood.
Okay, I’ll admit it. The jars are a little creepy.
As for feeling shock and dismay? Yes. Regret? Plenty. And that constriction in your chest working its way up your throat? The prickling skin electrifying your scalp and that sudden intake of breath? That you might experience as my characters face appalling choices and devastating losses—provided I’ve done my job as a writer.
Horror can take many forms. Women writers excel in all, though they are particularly adept at exploring the more subtle emotions in what I like to call “quiet horror.”
Even if horror isn’t your normal cup of tea, read some of the stories by women being highlighted around the web this month. You might find a flavor you like.
Women in Horror Month is being celebrated by a number of online blogs and resources. Below are a few which are featuring guest posts, interviews, short stories, and promotions in support for those of us who write horror literature.
I’ll add to this list as the month progresses. In the meantime, check out the above sites. You might discover a new author whose work sends a chill or two up your spine.
I’ve been absent from facebook and the blog scene for the last six months, and thought I’d offer an explanation as to why.
With that in mind, I considered titling this post “Becoming a Vampire”.
Yeah, you read that correctly. Think
But before I explain further, let’s take a step back into the past:
In December of 2008, I woke up with the tragic figure of a sad and lonely vampire woman in my head. I lay there wondering who she was and she began to show me her story. As her life unfolded in my head, movie fashion, I felt compelled to write it down as fast as I could. After five months of sleepless nights and weekend marathons with my laptop, I finished the initial draft.
And so, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen was born, and was published in its current version in October of 2011.
Fast forward to 2013:
In early July, I entered a clinical study to treat a long-term medical condition I’ve had for much of my life. After several weeks, I began to develop the side affects I listed earlier in my post. The photosensitivity is due to one of the new drugs, and the anemia is due to an old one that’s been in use about fifteen years. Fortunately, both were temporary conditions and resolved once I completed treatment.
Couldn’t go outside during the day unless I was wrapped up like a Ninja.
Low on blood, which left me craving red meat, and well, needing more blood.
Rage issues, as in the least little upset triggered an emotional tsunami.
Life imitating art.
In spite of the above difficulties, I, along with my friends and family, had no choice but to laugh at the irony of writing a book about a vampire woman only to tread (somewhat) in her footsteps four years later. The experience certainly gave me fresh insight into what it means to be a creature of the night.
All I can say to my fellow writers is:
Be careful what you write, because you never know when you might become a character from one of your stories.
(I know I still haven’t posted about my experiences at the World Horror Convention and the Bram Stoker Awards ® in New Orleans, but I’ll get to it. Soon.)
Wow. What an amazing three days at the SCAREanormal – Fresno Horror, Paranormal, and Pop Culture Fan Expo! At times a bit of a rocky ride, it ended on a positive note with Central Valley fans begging everyone to hold it again next year.
The Horror Writers Association vendor booth was the only bookseller at this film-based convention, and we had a fairly steady stream of visitors for much of the con. Most were readers excited to discover new authors–I enjoyed watching them as they left our booth bearing bright smiles along with their freshly purchased paper treasures.
But we also had a number of aspiring writers spend time talking with us. We shared our individual experiences as HWA members, handed out all of the HWA brochures, and in general spoke about how supportive the organization is. I hope to see their names listed in the membership directory sometime in the near future.
Saturday’s discussion panels–“The Best in Horror Literature: From the Classics to the Modern” and “The Evolution of the Monster from Folklore to Film”–were well-received by attendees, and I think the panelists enjoyed them too. Many thanks go to Brad C. Hodson, Eric J. Guignard, PS Gifford, Fred Wiehe, and Dana Fredsti for doing such a great job exploring their topics and answering audience questions.
Each panel was followed by readings from HWA members. Brad read from a work-in-progress about a pair of unique serial killers that left us all begging for more. Dana introduced listeners to kick-ass Ashley Parker in excerpts from Plague Town and its sequel, Plague Nation. Paul totally creeped us out with a semi-autobiographical story about an encounter with a red-haired girl. I tried not to bore the audience with an excerpt from my novella, The Last Trace.
The audience seemed to enjoy our panel discussions and listening to our stories, and many of them visited the HWA booth afterwards.
Due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, Lisa Morton and Richard Grove were unable to participate in Sunday’s programming. I know they were looking forward to the convention and I imagine they were quite disappointed to miss it. Hopefully we’ll get to work together on another event in the near future.
Our Sunday panel, “Psychological vs. Physical Horror – What Scares Us the Most?” was quite interesting. Since Lisa and Richard had to bow out, we were short two panel members, and this, combined with several other uncertainties regarding the con, led me to consider cancelling the panel altogether.
But when an attendee stopped by our booth–not once, but several times–to check on the panel status, I realized she might not be the only disappointed fan if we cancelled. In talking with her and a few others who came by, it became apparent that a number of Sunday’s attendees were there for just the one day, and that they had missed most of the convention highlights.
Paul and I were the other members scheduled for this panel, and we didn’t think we’d be able to explore the topic well with just the two of us. Fortunately, we’d spent the previous evening (or should I say the early-early morning) drinking, I mean, socializing with film guests Sid Haig (HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES, THE DEVIL’S REJECTS) and Ken Foree (DAWN OF THE DEAD, HALLOWEEN, THE LORDS OF SALEM). Both were intelligent and personable and seemed to enjoy spending time with our group.
With that in mind, I bravely approached Sid about an hour before our panel and asked him if he’d be willing to sit in on it with us. He graciously accepted my invitation.
All I can say is that our panel was absolutely amazing. Just think about what it would be like to discuss psychological and physical horror with a legendary master of both. Not only do Sid’s experiences covering decades of film and stage give him a special insight, but he’s a licensed hypnotherapist and has a deep understanding of what makes people tick.
Due to the unique opportunity offered by Sid’s participation in our panel, I elected to forego the reading and use the entire hour for our discussion. The audience seemed fascinated, and quite willing to add their own inputs. It made for a highly successful panel, and I’m so grateful for the fan whose repeated inquiries spurred me to do what I could to fulfill our programming commitment.
A number of audience members stopped by our booth afterwards,mentioning how much they enjoyed the panel as they examined our books. I remember seeing their smiling faces in the audience as they nodded in response to our discussion, and I’m glad we were able to contribute to their enjoyment of the convention.
Many thanks to Sid for helping us make it happen.
And a huge thank you to all the HWA members who gave up their weekend and spent hard-earned dollars on hotel expenses and gas to Fresno: Brad C. Hodson, Eric J. Guignard, Dana Fredsti, Fred Wiehe, Christopher C. Payne from JournalStone, and of course, PS Gifford, who was the first to arrive on Friday morning and stayed until the bittersweet end Sunday evening (couldn’t have done it without you, Paul). We made a great team and I look forward to working with everyone again.
Last, but not least, thank you to Lisa Morton and the HWA for supporting this event and making it possible for members to promote their works along with promoting the organization. This wouldn’t have happened without your support.
Thought I’d post a brief update on writer Dave Farland‘s son, Ben.
As you may have read in my previous post (or elsewhere on the Internet), Dave’s 16-yer-old son was involved in a horrific longboard (a type of skateboard) accident, breaking multiple bones, including his pelvis, and suffering a severe head injury.
It’s been two months now, and, well, his recovery is nothing short of a miracle.
From a website (http://www.helpwolverton.com/) which follows his progress:
Like I said, for a kid who 2 months ago underwent brain surgery which required removing sections of his skull and storing them (literally) for several weeks within his abdominal cavity, the fact that he’s walking and talking is absolutely amazing.
If you’d like to know more about his miraculous story, visit his website at http://www.helpwolverton.com/
As those of you who follow my facebook posts may know, one of my mentors, fantasy writer and Writers of the Future judge David Farland, suffered a terrible tragedy last week. His 16-year-old son, Ben, was in a horrific longboarding accident that resulted in severe brain trauma and numerous broken bones including his pelvis. He is still in a coma but is showing improvements each day.
Dave’s former and current students, his fans, and his friends and family are spearheading several fundraisers to help with the astronomical medical bills. As with many self-employed folks in these rough economic times, the family had no health insurance.
One of the fundraisers is a book bomb. If you haven’t heard of these, a book bomb is a one-day concentrated push to purchase a book (or books) by a particular author in order to help raise their visibility on Amazon and other ranking lists. The short-term benefits (a one-day bump in sales) is frequently outweighed by the long-term increase in sales due to the improved visibility.
A book bomb is being held for Dave today (Wednesday April 10). This is a great way to help his family during their recovery. For as little as $6.99 for one of his ebooks you can add to this monumental effort and make a difference. You can make a bigger difference if you buy several, maybe even some as gifts.
So support an award-winning author whose contributions as a teacher and mentor have helped thousands of writers. Buy a book. Or two.
Here’s his multiple-award winning YA paranormal novel, Nightingale.:
And his recently-published Million Dollar Outlines is garnering some great reviews:
Both photos are linked to their Amazon pages – just a click will take you there!
You can visit his website to get more details on these books:
Here’s a little more about the book bomb from the coordinator:
As many of you know, Dave’s son, Ben, was in a serious long-boarding accident last week. He is 16 and suffers from severe brain trauma, a cracked skull, broken pelvis and tail bone, burnt knees, bruised lungs, broken ear drum, road rash, and is currently in a coma. His family has no insurance.
We are having a book bomb this Wednesday on behalf of Ben Wolverton to help his family out. You can view the event’s facebook page here:
For those that don’t know, a book bomb is an event where participants purchase a book on a specific day to support the author, or, in this case, a young person in serious need: Ben Wolverton.
Many of you have expressed sympathy for Dave and Ben and have asked if you could help. Now you can. We need you to help Ben get the most out of this book bomb. Right now we are focused on spreading the word and telling others about it. If you could share this event on facebook, twitter, pinterest, your blog, or through email, please do. This is a way everyone reading this can help, whatever their financial situation.
On Wednesday, we will have the book bomb. If you haven’t yet purchased NIGHTINGALE or MILLION DOLLAR OUTLINES, please consider doing so on Wednesday. If you have already purchased them, you can donate money to Ben and his family here:
If you have a blog and would like to do a post about this book bomb, please email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and she will send you some information you can use.
Yay! I love making these kind of announcements!
HIGH STAKES, ten fascinating tales of vampire games edited by Gabrielle Faust, is now available for the Kindle. The anthology contains stories by established, award-winning authors as well as newcomers to the world of writing: Joe McKinney, Jonathan Maberry, Jeff Strand, Gabrielle Faust, Jg Faherty, Sephera Giron, Rain Graves, David Hayes, and Michael H. Hanson, plus poetry from Bram Stoker Winner Linda D Addison and a foreward by Dacre Stoker.
The print version is scheduled for release on March 26.
I’m honored that my story, “The Games Monsters Play” resides among such a talented collection. You can find it along with all the others here:
It’s been awhile since my last post – a long while.
So I thought I’d give an update as to why.
And when I write, I need to separate from everything outside the story except my job and my family. Everything else—my horses, my friends, my blog, facebook—only get minimal attention. I just don’t multitask well.
Unfortunately, mastering the skill of multitasking is a requirement for writers these days, especially those of us who indie-publish. Editor, book designer, publisher, marketer, social networker—these are all hats we must wear in addition to writer. I’ve found that whenever I change hats, though, it takes me a little while to get the new one to fit. Once it does, I’m reluctant to take it off.
And right now, I’m wearing my writer hat.
Runner, the sequel to Watcher, is nearing completion. Currently at 80,000 words, the story is moving into its third and final act.
I realize this novel is way behind schedule. Without going into details, 2012 was a very difficult year for me and my family, as well as a few others close to me. A number of events, some quite tragic, made working on this story nearly impossible, and rather than have it suffer from the constant turmoil of my personal life, I elected to set it aside until I felt ready to return to Sunny’s world.
But I’m deep in it now. Sunny faces many challenges in this book, some old, some new, and like my readers, I am just along for the ride and never quite sure what might be around the next bend. Rest assured, though—even if the details of what, why, and when are a little blurry, I can see the end of the road and I know exactly where it’s going.
Unless, of course, The Chosen have other ideas . . .
As a token of my appreciation for your patience, here is an excerpt from Runner: Book II of The Chosen:
It’s Halloween night. The streets and clubs are filled with witches and zombies and vampires, but no Chosen. If there’s any night they’d prowl among the humans, this would be it.
I’ve spent hours drifting from club to club, searching for the real monsters beneath the elaborate costumes. A silver-sequined mask is my only concession to the holiday, though my hunting blacks and black leather jacket seem to blend in well enough.
Disgusted with my fruitless quest, I walk back to the Cat Club for one last look before heading out of the city to hunt.
The place is packed. Fortunately the music is loud enough to cover the constant growl rumbling deep in my chest. My aversion to being touched by humans has increased since I returned from the wild, and it’s taking everything I have not to clear a space around me.
I spot a gap next to the wall and work my way through the crowd to lay claim to it. A couple to my right dressed as Raggedy Ann and Andy ease back to give me a little more room and I settle in against the cracked paint.
A black-caped figure to my left turns and regards me with eyes as dark as night. He flashes me a leering grin, his yellowish fangs in sharp contrast to the white of his teeth.
My breath catches, then slowly escapes.
Fake. His fangs are fake. Plastic.
Rolling my eyes, I turn away and stare out at the masquerade madness convulsing through the club.
The feel of the air surrounding us abruptly changes. I look toward the door and stop breathing all together.
A stir ripples through the masses as four costumed figures enter, drawing every gaze in the club. Their elegant 17th-century garments appear to be the real thing, with details that only my eyes are likely to pick out in the dim light.
Two stately females, blonde and brunette curls tumbling to their shoulders beneath broad-brimmed hats, glide into the room, their brocaded gold and ruby gowns sweeping the floor. Two males follow, sporting doublets and matching breeches in indigo and ivory. Their pale faces are bordered with shoulder-length hair, pointed goatees, and wide mustaches, no doubt the fashion of that time.
But it’s not the costumes that have stolen my breath.
The air shimmers around them, their auras pulsating in a tapestry of burgundy and black and grey. I’ve felt Chosen auras before, but this is the first I’ve seen them. I recognize the feel of Nicolas in them—these Chosen are of his lineage.
I push off from the wall and move toward my quarry.
As one, their haughty gazes shift in my direction and appraise me from across the room. Several lips curl, and the shorter male smiles, and with no further expression, they turn about-face and stroll out of the club.
Elbowing my way through the crowd, I reach the door and shove it open. As I step outside, I run into a broad, black t-shirted chest.
“Excuse me.” I start to push past him, but he steps in front of me again.
I look up into golden eyes perched above a hawklike nose and wide cheekbones. Full lips part and tug to one side, allowing me a glimpse of the fang behind them. Crimson flashes in his pupils and I ease back, hands up in surrender.
“Hey, I don’t want any trouble.” Instantly on guard, I yank off my mask and let it fall to the sidewalk.
The costumed Chosen behind him slip into a waiting limousine.
But they’re no longer necessary—not with this one standing barely three feet away.
I just hope he isn’t going to kill me.
Wow – I am so jazzed!
“The Games Monsters Play” – a short story I wrote from the Watcher world – has been selected to appear in the upcoming vampire anthology, High Stakes!
Here’s an excerpt from the High Stakes website describing the anthology:
“Welcome to the dark and demented world of High Stakes vampires where every game is a gamble for one’s life! This devious new anthology from Evil Jester Press promises to deliver ten fascinating new vampire tales which play upon the theme of “games”. And, as we well know, vampires are so very good with toying with their food before dining! Edited by the internationally acclaimed vampire novelist Gabrielle Faust, author of the Eternal Vigilance vampire series and most recently the ground-breaking dark fantasy adventure Revenge, High Stakes will also include an introduction by Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker and author of the sequel to Dracula, Dracula: Undead. In addition, this anthology will open with an original poem by the Bram Stoker Award-winning poetess Linda Addison! And this is just the beginning. Set to be released in January of 2013, over the next few months this website will evolve with breaking news about the selected authors and more! We hope you enjoy High Stakes and immerse yourself in the elegant, twisted and blood-drenched world of vampires.”
The other authors selected so far are:
I couldn’t have done this without my friends and colleagues who beta read and helped me polish this story. Many thanks go to Joshua Essoe, Eric Guignard, Darryl Miller, and Ian Vawter for their feedback and suggestions.
Life sometimes doesn’t go where we expect it.
I’d thought I’d be in Colorado this fall, signing books and fundraising for the Waldo Canyon relief efforts.
But such was not to be.
Other things happened, some writerly stuff, but mostly just life stuff.
I became very caught up in story submissions for a couple of anthologies. Alas, the short story I thought had the most potential for acceptance was rejected.
Oh, well. That’s the life of a writer.
A novella I received back from my editor has taken far more time to re-write than I expected. I actually have formed a love-hate relationship with this story, but I know the changes are for the better. My hopes for submitting it for the Bram Stoker Awards have faded as the deadline for voting rapidly approaches, and since a version of it has already been published, it won’t be eligible for next year. It’s too bad – it’s a pretty cool and unusual story, but my skill wasn’t quite up to telling it properly the first time around. Once I finish implementing the suggestions from my editor, the story will be much improved and a more engaging read for my readers.
All of this has slowed my progress on Runner. The story is coming along nicely, but I’ve had to move my target publishing date to the Spring of 2013. For those of you who are waiting for it, I am sorry and will make it up to you.
Keep a watch here for sneak previews and other tidbits from Sunny’s world.
(This is an updated post from July 17, 2012)
~ ~ ~
I just can’t stop thinking about the devastation and loss of life caused by the Waldo Canyon fire in Colorado Springs and the surrounding mountains, an area I left 35 years ago. It used to look like this:
I spent two years in the Springs and the neighboring communities of Manitou Springs, Green Mountain Falls, and Cascade. Just out of high school, my life was wild and carefree and filled with adventures. I loved the Pikes Peak mountain area and have always dreamed of returning someday.
Writers frequently use settings with which they are familiar. So when I began writing Sunny’s journey in January 2009, it seemed only natural that she would head to such an ideal location for someone of her unique nature.
As she drew me into her story, the sound of the wind in the trees echoed in my mind, and my nose filled with the fresh scents of pines and summer storms. I typed, fast and furious, knowing I was only capturing a fraction of the nuances that made up her world, and hoped my memory of the area wasn’t too rusty and faded.
And then in May 2009, when Watcher was nearly complete, I had a rare opportunity to visit the Springs while in Colorado on business. It would be my first visit in 35 years.
My friend Jeanne, with whom I’d first ventured to that magical land so many years before, still lived there. It felt like old times as we set off together to visit the locations in the story, to see if everything was as I recalled it.
And, surprisingly, it was. Even the Cascade house in which I’d lived, empty the day we visited, looked exactly as it did when I moved out. We tromped though old stomping grounds and made new discoveries (and found a castle!) and had an amazing time retracing Sunny’s steps.
It was with great sadness that I said farewell to Jeanne and Pikes Peak, promising I would return again when I had more time. The first draft of Watcher was completed two weeks later.
Now the area looks nothing like it did 35 years ago, or even three years ago. Sunny’s mountain and hunting area behind her house were completely destroyed by the Waldo Canyon fire.
But worse, people lost their homes, their pets, their family heirlooms – they lost everything they owned.
And two people lost their lives.
I’d actually been contemplating making a road trip to the Springs when I heard the news about the fire. It started June 23, and over the next two-and-a-half weeks, over 32,000 people were evacuated, more than 18,000 acres burned, 346 homes destroyed, and two people died. The estimated cost of this fire alone is $352.6 million dollars, making it the most expensive in Colorado’s history.
I can only imagine a glimmer of how those families must be feeling as they cope with their losses. My heart goes out to them, as well as to the forest and the creatures that it fed and sheltered.
I don’t know if I’ll make that trip now. I can’t bear to see those mountains covered in ash, dotted with the black skeletons of trees and brush. Unfortunately, my imagination does paint a vivid picture of that scene. I know it’s nothing compared to the real thing.
But the devastation could have been worse. Hundreds of firefighters from all over the country risked their lives fighting this superfire and its deadly allies of blazing temperatures and rugged terrain. The valiant efforts of these men and women kept many more homes from being lost.
Though the fire is no longer in the news, donations are still needed. Three hundred and forty-six families lost everything when their homes burned. If you’d like to help, there are a number of charitable organizations focused on the recovery from this horrendous disaster.
Colorado Springs Together also has suggestions for donors.
Humans weren’t the only victims of this fire. The Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region took in well over 400 animals that were displaced by the fire. Many have been returned to their owners, but there are still a number of under shelter care until they can be reunited with their families.
Local agencies are critical in times of disaster and frequently exhaust their resources assisting people in need. The Waldo Canyon Firefighters Fund benefits the local fire stations whose hard work and expense fighting the fire saved many homes and lives.
I leave you with this:
~ ~ ~
** As I mentioned in my last post, my own resources are limited. But I do write. Since Pikes Peak and the Colorado Springs area were such important parts of my novel, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen, I’m donating 50% of its net proceeds thru the end of October to help those suffering from this catastrophe. **
(this is an updated post from June 27, 2012)
~ ~ ~
Sunny’s Colorado home, the mountain she loved so much, is burning.
Worse yet, the homes of Colorado Springs area residents are also burning.
Over 15,000 acres of forest have burned. Hundreds of homes have been lost, and more than 32,000 people have been evacuated.
I cannot imagine the fear of losing everything to a roaring inferno, nor grasp the impact of watching your home, your hopes and dreams, burn to the ground.
However, I can feel perhaps a glimmer of the pain, both of those who are living this real-life nightmare, and as someone who spent time on Sunny’s special mountain during a particularly troubled part of my life.
My heart goes out to all those who’ve lost their homes and lives in this tragedy – human, animal, and the forest itself.
~ ~ ~
This is the first post in a series I’m doing on the Waldo Canyon fire and its impact on Colorado Springs area residents.
My next post will give you a glimpse of what some of the area looked like before the fire, as well as some of the devastation documented by local residents and photographers, so be sure to check back.
I’ll also provide links for those of you who would like to donate to the ongoing recovery efforts. There’s lots of ways to help. Not only do the victims who lost their homes need assistance, so do the animal shelters caring for the hundreds of displaced pets as well as the local fire stations who exhausted their resources fighting this ‘superfire’.
My own resources are somewhat limited, and since I live about 1,200 miles away, there’s not much I can do to help with the cleanup.
However, I do write. Since Pikes Peak and the Colorado Springs area were such important parts of my novel, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen, I’ve decided to donate 50% of its net proceeds thru the end of October to help those suffering from this catastrophe.
I encourage any other artists out there to consider doing the same. Every little bit helps.
My last thought for the day:
Be grateful for what you have, because it can be gone with one wisp of smoke.
Just came across this on a blog:
This online editing software will check your manuscript for overused and repeated words, overused phrases, cliches, pacing, and a few other common writing mistakes.
I ran several pages through the free wizard and was pleasantly surprised at the results.
Autocrit’s checklist of overused words showed I was guilty of a few and highlighted them in my text. The highlights made it easy for me to spot the offenders and allowed me to choose whether to change the sentence or not. It also enabled me to spot passive or weak sentences by highlighting words such as ‘was’ and ‘it’.
The sentence variation tab provided a histogram of sentence lengths, as well as word count. This is a nice tool.
Cliches and redundancies were also revealed. My text contained one cliche and no redundancies.
A number of other diagnostic tools and reports are offered in the packages available for purchase, including the ability to customize the overused words list.
I like the idea and ease of checking for these common errors myself before sending a manuscript to a human editor. Autocrit may also turn out to be a good teaching tool, and I suspect my writing will improve with its use.
Autocrit is membership-based. In addition to the free wizard (which has limits in both tool options and word count), the membership packages range in price from $47 to $117 per year, depending mainly upon word count.
There are other editing software packages out there, including Serenity, Style Writer, EditMinion, and Cliche Cleaner. I’ve read where some writers will run their work through several editing applications to focus on specific issues.
I liked Autocrit‘s simplicity and am planning to purchase a membership. I recommend you check it out.
For those of you who missed my Facebook posts, here’s a recap of the 2012 World Horror Convention and the Bram Stoker Awards:
Wow. All I can say is… it was fantastic!
Thursday, Day 1 – WHC officially started at 3:00pm. I attended panels on social networking and promoting your books on Amazon.
Highlight of the evening: participating in poetry readings with several well-known horror poets, including Linda D Addison, who later won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a Poetry Collection for How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend.
Linda Addison with her Stoker for Best Poetry Collection
Friday, Day 2 – Started the day off with a reading by my friend PS Gifford (go Paul!). Attended some great panels: ‘Understanding the Mind of a Serial Killer’ by Dr. Al Carlisle (creepy yet fascinating), ‘Q&A with Guest of Honor Sherrilyn Kenyon (what a sweet and funny lady!), and ‘Women in Horror’ with Sherrilyn, Ellen Datlow, Lisa Morton, P.N. Elrod, and Kim Richards.
Hal Bodner & Dacre Stoker, great grandnephew of Bram Stoker
Sherrilyn Kenyon with her assistant, Kim
Hangin’ out with the big kids
Panels I attended this day: Stoker on Stoker with Dacre Stoker presenting his just released The Lost Journal of Bram Stoker (very cool stuff); ‘Vampires Through the Ages’ (like I’d miss this one?); ‘Real vs. Fictional Multiple Personalities’ (more creepy real stuff from Dr. Al Carlisle); and a ‘kaffeeklatch’ (think roundtable discussion) with P.N. Elrod (fascinating lady).
Highlights? My 5:00pm reading, where I read excerpts from Watcher. I love doing readings!
And oh, yeah… the Bram Stoker Awards Banquet! It was massively awesome! I sat with David Farland and his wife, Mary (she’s so sweet!) for the dinner and ceremonies.
Several friends (both old and new) won awards: Nancy Holder, for her YA novel, The Screaming Season; Linda D Addison for her poetry collection How to Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend; and Rocky Wood, for his nonfiction work, Stephen King: A Literary Companion.
Nancy Holder with her Stoker for Best Young Adult Novel
The Bram Stoker Winners
Congratulations to these and all of the other winners!
One last award to mention: A special, one-time only award for The Most Influential Vampire Novel of the Century (since Bram Stoker’s death) was given to Richard Matheson for his 1954 novel, I Am Legend.
The ‘Black Stoker’ Award for Best Vampire Novel of the Century
** Personal note – Though I am no expert on vampire literature and its impact on society, I was a little disappointed that the book with the most influence on me and many others, Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire, was not chosen. I much prefer Rice’s chameleon-like seducers to Matheson’s zombified, mindless killing machines. To me, Rice’s vampires more accurately embody the spirit of the Dracula mythology, and the subtle horror of a monster hidden beneath a suave and polished exterior is far more terrifying than a slavering walking corpse.
Parties: The Stoker Awards party continued in the con suite after the banquet. It was so cool to see everyone running around with their haunted house statues!
Sunday, Day 4 – The Last Day! Uggh, I hate last days.
Sunday got off to a slow start with many folks recovering from Saturday night’s parties. My day began with the panel The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly in Cover Art with a cool slide show. Then I just wandered about the con until my panel at noon.
It was called ‘Scaring ‘em Young: Middle Grade Horror’, and my co-panelists were Jacob Ruby (Bear Weiter) and J. Scott Savage. Bear had assembled a great list of discussion items and led the panel. Jeff, who has the most experience writing MG, was a wealth of knowledge, and I just chimed in when needed. It was a great panel (my very first!) and I had a lot of fun. I own much thanks to Bear and Jeff for making it so.
The con sadly ended at 3:00pm, though a number of folks stayed afterwards for the ‘Dead Dog Party’.
Highlight of the WHC 2012? Meeting so many awesome people with whom I felt instantly at home. I mean, I didn’t feel any embarrassment at all about writing vampire fiction, because chances were whomever I was speaking with had written it as well, or at least written about zombies, demons, or the stuff of nightmares.
Overall, this was the best con I’ve been to since my writing career began. I truly feel like I belong when I’m with this group of writers whose works get relegated to fringes of literary society. Being on the fringe can be lonely, but not when in the company of other fringe-ers!
Yup. That’s where I’m headed!
Salt Lake City is hosting both the World Horror Convention and the Bram Stoker Awards this year.
It’s super exciting for me, because this is my first WHC, and, though I enjoyed hanging out with fantasy writers at World Fantasy Con (Oct ’11), I think I fit in much better with horror folk.
I mean, this is one convention where I won’t feel a bit embarrassed to admit that I write vampire stories, ‘cuz chances are whoever I’m talking to at this con will have written one or two themselves!
This year’s lineup of guests is pretty impressive, and includes well-known writers such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, P.N. Elrod, and Robert McCammon. Dacre Stoker will be there as well – his panel on Bram Stoker’s notes and research sounds fascinating.
I’m looking forward to seeing another guest whom I actually met last year when I attended his week-long workshop – Dave Farland. He’s on several panels, and I hope to catch at least one of them.
I’m on a panel myself! It’s called “Scaring ’em Young: Middle Grade Horror.” My co-panelists and I are working out our topics, and it looks like it will be a fun panel. It’s on Sunday at noon.
I’m also participating in the autograph session Friday night, and doing a reading on Saturday.
So not only am I attending the con, I’m part of it as well!
If any of you happen to be in Salt Lake City this weekend, stop by and say ‘hi.’
And now I’m off to pack…
All visitors to my blog during the Hop who answered the question about their favorite vampire were entered into a drawing for an e-copy of Watcher. The winner was selected using the online randomizer by RANDOM.ORG.
And who was Sue’s favorite vampire? Laurant from Twilight (the movie), who was one of the coolest vampires in that film.
Congratulations on winning, Sue!
Sounds kinda gross, huh?
Well, for those who like their fiction fanged, or dark, or maybe even horrifying, today and tomorrow is the Bloody Hearts Blog Hop, sponsored by Vamplit Publishing. This is your chance to discover new authors of dark fantasy and horror by visiting blogs participating in the hop. Most of the blogs are offering free books and other goodies. I encourage you to visit the blog hop site and check out all the cool happenings.
Visitors to my blog during the Hop (Feb 13-14) who answer the question below in a comment will each receive an e-book copy of The Last Trace.
In addition, all commenters will be entered into a random drawing for a free e-book copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen.
But before I reveal the question you must answer to receive a copy of The Last Trace, here’s a little bit about me in case this is the first time you’ve visited my blog:
I write fantasy and horror for middle grade, young adult, and adult readers. Most of my stories center around the paranormal, with worlds inhabited by vampires, shapeshifters, werewolves, and other creatures of their ilk.
My published works at this time are, with one exception, all adult fiction.
Watcher: Book I of The Chosen, is the first novel in a trilogy about Sunny Martin and her struggle to find her place in the world after she’s drained of her blood and awakens as an undead, forcing her to abandon her teenage daughter. In Watcher, Sunny’s search leads her to Colorado where she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a secret society, and discovers something she thought impossible in her new life – love. But it comes with a high price, and a choice she’s terrified to make.
Watcher is available in both paperback and e-book, and one e-book copy will be given away in a random drawing as part of this blog hop.
Runner: Book II of The Chosen, is scheduled to be released in late Spring 2012.
The Last Trace is a novella of The Chosen and tells the story of Trace Pierre Tasman, an 1800s mountain man stalked by a blood-drinking ‘she-demon’. His story continues in Without a Trace, scheduled for release in Fall 2012. The Last Trace is available as an e-book, and will be available in paperback in March – oh, and it’s the free e-book you’ll receive when you answer the question at the bottom of this post!
The Seduction and The Monster’s Growl are the first two tales in the Monsters in the Machines short story collection and are available as e-books. The third story in the collection, Hellbound Train, will be available in Summer 2012.
My young adult series, Forbidden Doorways, is currently in development. The first novel, Finding the Key, will be available in 2013. A short story from the series, Fur Before Feathers, tells the tale of a young shapeshifter learning to shift, and can be found in the 2010 anthology, I Dreamed a Crooked Dream.
More information on my works, as well as excerpts, can be found on my website, www.rohmorgon.com, and at Dark Dreams Publishing. And if you want to know a little bit more about me, you can check out my writer’s bio!
Now, for the question I’ve been promising you:
Who is your favorite vampire in literature or film (or both!)?
Include your answer in a comment, as well as your preferred e-book format (Kindle, Nook, etc) and I’ll send you an e-book copy of The Last Trace.
And as I mentioned before, everyone who leaves a comment will be entered into a drawing for a free e-book copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen.
Thanks for stopping by my blog, and be sure to check out some of the other bloggers participating in the Bloody Hearts Blog Hop.
Oh, and Happy Valentine’s Day!
And now, we return to our regular programming…
The *Snowfest* Blogfest was a nice departure from the dark fantasy in which I usually dwell. I thought the topic would appeal to a wider audience, one that doesn’t typically write about blood and death. I was surprised (and pleased) by several entries that definitely stepped over the line of darkness.
For those who enjoy ‘walking on the dark side’, Vamplit Publishing, courtesy of Dark Media City, is hosting a Valentine’s Day event by the name of the Bloody Hearts Blog Hop. This event takes place Feb 13 & 14 and entails <snicker> visiting the blogs listed on the Hop page, leaving comments, and getting free books.
Sounds hard, right?
The Bloody Hearts Blog Hop is still open to participants, so if you want to list your blog as one of the hot spots to visit, head on over and sign up.
As for what’s happening on my blog during the Hop, I’m asking visitors to list their favorite vampire in literature or film (or both!) in a comment on Feb 13 or 14. Those who do so will each receive a free ebook copy of The Last Trace.
In addition, all respondants will be entered into a random drawing at the end of the hop for a free ebook copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. The winner will be announced on February 15.
So if you like your fiction a little dark, maybe tinged with fear or accented with splashes of red here and there, check out the Bloody Hearts Blog Hop on Feb 13 & 14. You may find a new author you like, or win a free book or two. And be sure to stop by here to get your free copy of The Last Trace.
Today is Saturday!
Today’s the day of the *Snowfest* Blogfest participant drawing for a copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. Inclusion in the drawing required the entrant to post a snowy scene or story on their blog.
We ended up with nine entrants (go figure – what is it with the nines?).
I used a really cool tool from RANDOM.ORG to randomly select a winner.
And the winner is…
His entry is titled…wait for it…
(Rob just reminded me of this)
Can you believe it! I’m telling you, nine is so closely woven into anything having to do with Watcher that it’s downright spooky sometimes.
Oh, and I guess I should also mention the fact that Rob’s Ninth Circle just happens to be a vampire story.
It gets weirder and weirder all the time.
This will definitely go into the Watcher Weirdness archive (yes, there is such an archive, ‘cuz there is a lot of really strange things that have happened since this story took over my life).
Anyhow, congratulations, Rob!
Once again, thank you, everyone, for participating in the *Snowfest* Blogfest!
Which, by the way, was held on a nine-day. Would you expect anything else?
It was blustery here in blogland yesterday!
We had nice turnout for the *Snowfest* Blogfest. I read a number of great entries that contained a wide variety of chill – from wintery temperatures to heart-stopping terror.
I just want to thank everyone who participated for not only providing readers with a selection of snowy stories, but for visiting one another and leaving such encouraging comments.
All participants who submitted stories are eligible for a drawing for a free copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. I’m still waiting on entries from a couple of latecomers who had signed up. Since I know that ‘life happens’ and how I’ve even been late to my own blogfest party in the past, I’m going to give them today to get their stories posted and will wait to do the drawing until Saturday morning.
If you didn’t have a chance to check out the flurry of snow-filled scenes, below is a list of the participants. Be sure to leave a comment on their blog letting them know what you enjoyed most about their stories.
Again, thank you everyone for joining our story snowstorm in the first annual *Snowfest* Blogfest. I will definitely do this again next year!
Well, not really. But if you read all of the entries in our wintery writing exhibition, hopefully you can imagine the cool kiss of a snowflake on your cheek or even feel a nip in the air.
My entry is an excerpt from my novel, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen. This is Sunny’s first encounter with snow since becoming a vampire. She’s on the mountainside behind her home near Pikes Peak, Colorado.
The snowflakes are huge, drifting down like miniature parachutes. Everything is silent and very still, except for the falling snow. It’s already starting to accumulate and any bare patches are rapidly donning their white carpet. The trees look like they are reaching out, trying to catch their share.
I reach out and catch my own little white puffs. When I examine them closer, I’m amazed to see the individual crystals forming delicate snow lace. I look up to the sky and open my mouth and can feel each one as it lands on my tongue. To my surprise, they don’t melt. I collect them and form a tiny snowball in my mouth, then with a laugh, spit it into my hand and throw it into the air to join its brethren.
Hiking past the trees to the rocky top of the mountain, I turn around to look at Pikes Peak. But the falling snow forms a curtain, wrapping me in gossamer white, and I can see nothing beyond it. The mountain is silent, yet I can still hear the soft patter of the flakes as they land.
I walk back down into the forest, which is thickly covered now, and wander among the pines and firs. They are starting to look like Christmas trees, proudly wearing their flocking in anticipation of that special day. The logs and rocks are disappearing under their snow blankets as the forest floor transforms into a big, fluffy white bed.
The scene is surreal, and I agree with Nicolas. It’s like watching the creation of a painting, only it is being unpainted, with the forest colors slowly becoming the white of the canvas.
I wander for the rest of the afternoon, and eventually make my way to a small meadow in which I’ve hunted. It’s empty now, and looks like a giant down pillow. I can’t resist, and I throw myself backward, sinking into its cold, soft embrace. I try to make a snow angel, but the snow is too deep and keeps caving in on me. I jump up, laughing wildly, and run across the white powder, sinking to my knees with each step.
My affection for the mountain deepens. It seems like somehow it brought this storm for me. I feel cleansed, strong, and more like my old self than I have in awhile. As thoughts of Nicolas begin to resurface, I shove them down, determined not to dwell on him. A rabbit saves me, bolting from its shelter, and I give it merry chase. We zigzag through the snow in the eternal race of prey and predator, and I thrill to the hunt. But I finally stop and let him go, reluctant to see the pure white snow sullied by the red stain of his death.
Hope you enjoyed tasting a little bit of winter with Sunny.
Be sure to visit each of the blogs listed here to read their snow stories. Leave a comment to let the author know you stopped by, and if you liked their scene or story, please tell them why!
Oh, and one more thing – each of the blogfest participants will be entered into a random drawing for a free copy of Watcher. The winner will be notified on February 3.
I’m buttoning my coat and slipping on my snowshoes to head down the blogfest trail, and maybe even help build a snowman or two. Hope to see you out there!
Got your winter boots and coat on? Your mittens and ear muffs? Are you ready to dive into a snowdrift?
Today’s the last day to sign up for the *snowfest* blogfest. If you’ve already written your frosty entries, get ready to shove them out into the crisp winter air. If you haven’t, peel yourselves away from that cozy fire and get the snowball rolling.
For those who might be new to blogfests (I know there are a couple of you on here), post your story or scene on your blog anytime after midnight tonite. Then tomorrow, visit everyone’s blog that is on the list and leave a comment. Tell them what you liked about their entry, or just say ‘hi.’
This is a great opportunity to discover new blogs, and have folks discover yours. So sweep the floor, dust the library, and prepare to welcome visitors to your bloghome.
See you all tomorrow!
Yeah. That’s where I am. High in the sky, kissing the clouds.
It’s amazing how much impact one person can have on the life another.
Shannon contacted me in response to a mailer I sent out to members of the Horror Writers Association and requested a copy of Watcher to review.
“MOVE OVER ANNE RICE”
“If you think there is nothing new, fresh and original in vampire fiction, you haven’t read Watcher: Book 1 of the Chosen, the debut novel by Roh Morgon. I am not particularly a fan of traditional vampire stories, but I found this incredible book more engrossing than anything I have read in the genre in years. The reasons are not only the suspenseful and well written tale, but its potent underlying themes.”
“Sunny Martin is attacked and ravaged by an inhuman being who leaves her clinging to life and with an ravenous thirst for blood. In her half-human state, she determines that, for her beloved seventeen-year-old daughter’s sake, she must allow the girl to believe her mother is dead. Yet Sunny’s love for her child and her loneliness drives Sunny to stalk her daughter, hungry for whatever glimpses of her she can get. Five years later, when Sunny’s granddaughter is born, the sight of the child’s sweet face intensifies Sunny’s longing, and the separation from her family becomes almost more than she can bear. Sunny flees the state, hoping to begin her life anew.”
“She meets Nicolas, leader of a secret society, whose love for her may be able to fill the void in her heart, yet to bond with him, she must make the Change that would destroy the part of herself that remains human and give up her daughter and grandchild forever.”
“I loved this book, not only because I was able to identify immediately with the heroine, but because the premise is so undeniably true: Love does not always conquer all, and true happiness cannot be found unless one is true to him or her self.”
“Watcher: Book 1 of the Chosen is a suspenseful story told with such skill I wanted to consume it in a single read. This is a level of skill and professionalism seldom found in first novels, and I predict great things ahead for this writer.”
“Move over Anne Rice, a new “Queen of the Damned” is born. “
—Shannon Riley, writer and publisher
When I read that, I have to admit it made me cry.
Shannon and I have corresponded several times since she finished Watcher, and, well… I’m blown away by her praise.
All my fears of whether or not my writing was good enough, my storytelling good enough, evaporated with the assessment of this industry professional.
It’s hard not to crave validation when you’re first starting out in any venture. Beginners need some indication of whether or not they’re on the right track. Friends and family offer encouragement to keep newbies going, but the feedback from an established professional is critical to the continuing evolution of the fledgling.
Well, this fledgling has taken to the air, and her first flight looks to be a success.
I know there will probably be other reviews not quite so glowing, because, after all, each reader interprets a story based on their own life experiences and desires.
But I will never forget this one and the generous encouragement from an experienced member of my new flock.
Now it’s time to learn how to fly.
~Roh, still kissing the clouds