roh morgon

~ a little history

I’ve been a reader since I can remember. I started with animal stories, and along the way fell in love with a magnificent Arabian stallion called The Black in Walter Farley’s The Black Stallion. I read the whole series, and anything else about horses that I could get my hands on.

My next phase was the Readers’ Digest Condensed Books for Children. Though they were shortened versions, without the RD books I probably never would have been exposed to such classics as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, and countless others.

When I was in junior high school, my dad signed me up for the Science Fiction Book Club. Every 30 days they would send their book-of-the-month. I read Planet of the Apes, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dune long before they were made into movies, along with many other science fiction classics.

I briefly dabbled in westerns when I spent a summer with my grandparents, and I fell head over heels for the steel-eyed, silent stranger who was fast with a gun and saved the day.

And then I discovered fantasy. Lord of the Rings opened up doors to lands even more wonderful that those in the wild west or on the faraway planets of science fiction, and I quickly immersed myself into realms ruled by magic and swords.

In the 1990s, the movie Interview with a Vampire introduced me to a new genre. After I read all of Anne Rice’s books, I consumed every vampire story I could get my hands on. Wonderful stories by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Elaine Bergstrom, Nancy Collins, Nancy Baker and many others showed me how a simple mythology can have so many different—and fascinating—interpretations.

Fast forward to 2008. Vampires had taken over pop culture, thanks to the Twilight books and movies. Stephanie Meyer brought a new twist to the genre, one I thought was actually quite clever in spite of the grumblings by critics about “sparkly vampires.”

And then, one morning in December, I woke up with this sad, lonely vampire woman in my head. I couldn’t stop thinking about her, and when I got to work, I quickly wrote a one-page lament in her voice. She talked about her isolation, her fear of killing someone, and her anguish at watching her daughter live out her life from afar.

I wasn’t sure what to do at that point. I’d always thought about writing books, but never felt I had the time. Writing was something I’d decided would have to wait until I was retired.

But this creature, this vampire woman, would not leave me alone. And I found myself wondering about her life, and how she spent her time, and what had happened to make her this way.

And so, in early January 2009, I gave in and started writing down the bits of her existence that she revealed to me. Sunny showed me her life as though it were a movie, and all I did was translate the film into words on a computer screen.

Nicolas entered the picture a week or so later. Together they were relentless, and as their story unfolded in my head, movie-fashion, I could do nothing but write.

They would start in on me late at night, at 10:00, or maybe 11:00 – just when I was ready to go to bed. The movie played, and I had no choice but to type.

Sleep was a reward they allowed me only after the clock showed 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, and I would gratefully shut down my computer and stagger to bed. My alarm would go off the next morning at 6:00 a.m., and I would crawl to work. After a long day, I returned home, only to repeat the cycle again, and again.

Weekends became typing marathons, with 5:00 a.m. bedtimes and 8:00 a.m. wakeups. And the movie played, and my fingers could only comply with the pressure to get the story out.

And I learned what it’s like to live with vampires.

Five months later, the first draft of the novel was completed. I then spent the next eighteen months learning how to write (something I’m still working on), and in October 2011, Watcher: Book I of The Chosen was born.

Since then, I’ve written several short stories in the Watcher world, along with a number of stories in a new YA series.

But the vampires refuse to let me go just yet. Runner: Book II of The Chosen is scheduled for release in Fall 2017—and there are more stories about their world on the way.

roh morgon @ Thursday, 13 July 2017 10:32 pm
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~ Watcher re-boot

Watcher re-boot?

Yes.

It’s been six years since Watcher: Book I of The Chosen was released. In that time, the series has gained a small but dedicated following.

And so, with the pending release of Runner: Book II of The Chosen this fall, I thought it was a good time to do something I’ve wanted to do for a long time:

Re-release a professionally edited Watcher, with new and improved content – and a brand new cover.

The editing was finished some time ago, but with my focus on completing Runner, it was necessary to delay actually incorporating those edits.

Runner is now with my editor, and Watcher is getting a serious makeover – one that I hope will make it more worthy to be the flagship of this series.

But even with snappier dialog, expanded scenes, and a flashy new cover, the heart of the story remains the same – a story about choice, about love and loss, and about coming out stronger on the other side.

 

 

roh morgon @ Sunday, 9 July 2017 10:54 pm
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~2016 update

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.

:)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

roh morgon @ Sunday, 29 May 2016 5:42 pm
Comments (2)

~exciting news!

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.

And special thanks to editor Gabrielle Faust and Evil Jester Press for choosing “The Games Monsters Play” to be a part of the High Stakes anthology.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 10 November 2012 1:45 pm
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~blazing nightmare

(this is an updated post from June 27, 2012)

~ ~ ~

Sunny’s Colorado home, the mountain she loved so much, is burning.


Photo taken by
L.N. Batides June 26, 2012 from Briargate in the Colorado Springs area.


Photo taken by
Dan Martinez June 26, 2012 near western part of Colorado Springs.

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.


Photo taken by
J. Stewart on Night 4 of the Waldo Canyon fire.

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.

I’d like to thank Springs locals Dan Martinez, Jake Stewart, and L.N. Batides for the kind use of their photos.

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.

.

roh morgon @ Monday, 6 August 2012 7:46 am
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~bloody hearts blog hop Feb 13-14

Bloody Hearts Blog Hop

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!

roh morgon @ Monday, 13 February 2012 5:20 am
Comments (13)

~wintery winner!

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…

Rob Lopez of Forsaken Stars!

His entry is titled…wait for it…

Ninth Circle

(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?

roh morgon @ Saturday, 4 February 2012 5:29 am
Comments (3)

~*snowfest* blogfest!

It’s snowing!

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.

Enjoy!

~~~~~~~~~

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!

roh morgon @ Thursday, 2 February 2012 1:08 am
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~flashback

Somebody asked me the other day how long I’d been blogging. I couldn’t answer them off the top of my head. So when I got home and onto my computer that night, I checked to see the date of my first post.

It was December 6, 2009, two years and a month ago.

I can’t believe I missed my own blogiversary!

Well, yes I can. I miss birthdays and anniversaries all the time – just ask my hubby. Oh well.

So, in belated honor of my blogiversary, and in honor of Watcher, the book that started it all, below is a re-posting of my very first post telling how I got started in this whole writing thing.

It’s certainly been a long strange trip…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

the beginning of it all

I suppose if I’m going to tell the story of telling a story, I should start at the beginning.

One year ago, in December 2008, I heard an interview with the author of a popular book series. When asked who she wrote her story for, she said she wrote it for herself.

That statement flipped a switch somewhere inside me. And so I decided to write a story for me, about beings I’d long been fascinated with – vampires.

At least I thought I was writing it for myself.

The first words to hit the page stunned me. They spoke of the pain of an undead creature as she watched a family she could no longer be part of. They went on to describe how she struggled with her violent nature, held in check only by memories of her daughter, and how she lived with the loneliness of her dangerous secret.

And so Sunny was born. She didn’t have a name then, because all I wrote that December was a one-page preface. The holidays were in full swing, my family was gathering for a long-overdue reunion, and there was no time to write. I reluctantly put her story on hold until after the first of the year. Fortunately she was content with that and allowed me to enjoy my family time.

But when January came around, Sunny came back into my life, and she brought others with her. Together they began insisting I tell their story, invading my thoughts all hours of the day as well as the night. I slept very little back then, averaging only 2-4 hours a night while still trying to hold down a full-time job.

Weekends were even worse. I’d start writing Friday night when I got home after work, recording their story until they released me to crawl into bed just before sunrise. I was usually back up by 8 or 9 Saturday morning to start again. I’d write all day, taking few breaks, and on into the night until sometime near dawn. Sunday would be a repeat of Saturday, writing almost non-stop. Fortunately, because I had to get up and go to work the next morning, they allowed me to go to bed a little earlier on Sunday nights – most of the time.

This went on for five months. At the end of May, over Memorial Weekend, I finished the end of the first draft. I still had a couple of early chapters to flesh out, but as far as I was concerned, I was done.

Sunny and Nicolas had other ideas. A week later they pushed me to continue with their story in the second book of the series. I wrote about 25,000 words before they let me stop. But they didn’t stop. Shifting their attention back to Watcher, the pressure I’ve felt to edit and prepare it for publication has been relentless.

And so it continues. I’m hoping to have all the fine-tuning for Watcher complete by the end of the year. I’ve submitted to two agents that I met at writer’s conferences, and will begin submitting to more in January if I haven’t heard anything by then.

Friends are helping me with artwork and website management. I’m slowly building my online presence, including learning how to blog. This all takes so much time, yet I can do nothing else but press forward as Sunny and Nicolas insist.

Because their need to have their story known…is every bit as strong as the need they are known for.

So if anyone wants to know what it’s like to be seduced and have your life taken over by vampires, I can tell them. Because mine has, and just like in the legends, the dark gift has its good points, and its bad.

 December 6, 2009

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I look back on this post, I shake my head in amazement. That year is a blur – it was like I was possessed. Hmm…who knows – maybe I was <grin> (I like to think so – it’s a better explanation than thinking I was losing my mind!)

As for meeting my goal of submitting to agents and trying to get a publishing deal in 2010, all I can say is … everything happens for a reason. I’m happy with the path I’m on, one that allows me to control my own career, subject only to the whims of the readers  – and not the middlemen of a too-rapidly changing publishing world.

I’m off to a great start this year, with a novel and two short stories published, and more in the works. I feel optimistic about the coming year, and am excited to be moving forward on some new projects.

All doomsaying aside, I think 2012 is going to be great!

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 3 January 2012 11:51 pm
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~milestones

Milestones.

We all have them, both personal and as a society.

The biggest, of course, is the ten-year anniversary of 9/11. I won’t go into it here, but do want acknowledge the impact of that event ten years ago on the entire world.

For me, this past week had several. A couple were personal, one affected a small segment of society, and one had ramifications for a larger segment, and in fact, affects society as a whole.

Milestone #1 ~ I’ll start with the smallest one, the one that is mine.

I uploaded my very first book to CreateSpace – and they accepted all of the formatting!

Now those of you who have yet to attempt self-publishing may not realize how hard this is.

Uploading is the easy part. Just fill in a few fields in the online form, click a few times, and voila! Your book is uploaded and in the queue to be vetted for formatting errors.

The hard part?

Book designing.

Holy crap. I’m not going into details (I’ll save that for another post), but trust me when I say there is more that goes into putting together a professional-looking book than you’d ever realize.

Then there’s the cover.

Now, I’m no artist, not by a longshot. I do have someone working on the cover (I should say ‘covers – because this book is the first in a trilogy). But the artwork isn’t done yet, and I need to get review copies out.

So this is the cover I’ve come up with (for now) for my Advanced Reading Copy (or ARC):

It’s not great, but I felt it was better than a plain white one.

So yeah, in a few days, I’ll be cradling my first book in print and probably crying when I think of the journey that brought me this far.

.

Milestone #2 – Two year anniversary of the final Nine Inch Nails show (which I was lucky enough to attend)

Although this is a very personal one for me, it’s also a milestone for NIN fans. Rather, it’s the anniversary of a milestone.

NIN and Trent’s music played an important role in my writing of Watcher. His quieter, introspective stuff really helped set the mood for many of the scenes in the book. And so this anniversary, so close to the release of Watcher, is one I needed to acknowledge.

Here’s one of my favorite songs that form part of the backdrop for Watcher:

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I feel fortunate that I was able to be part of NIN’s final farewell.

.

Milestone #3 – Another final farewell…to Borders

Yep. Our local Borders shut its doors this past Monday. Finis. Done.

Borders was more than a bookstore in this community. It was a gathering spot, a bit of literary culture in an area that distinctly lacks much culture of any kind. People would hang out and read, or visit, or share info in the Seattle’s Best cafe at the back of the store.

Our writer’s group, the Fresno Sci-fi & Fantasy Writers, held monthly Open Mic nights there. Other events surrounding book releases drew fans of all types, from Potterheads to Twilight Moms.

It was a happening place, and on our rare nights out, my reading friends and I would eat dinner and go hang out at Borders. Not a bar, but Borders. Because, after all, it was our love of stories that drew us together in the first place.

Now how cool of a bookstore is that?

Over the past month or so, I’ve been stopping in there weekly and buying books at ever-decreasing discounted prices. It’s been a bit of a trip down memory lane, as my close circle of reading friends have moved away one-by-one, and the last time we were all together was over a year-and-a-half ago.

So my weekly visits have been with great sadness as I mourn the loss of those evenings spent sharing excitement over the latest books, as well as the loss of the gathering spot that allowed us to do so.

I’ve felt like a bit of a vulture picking at a carcass that wasn’t quite dead, and it got worse with each visit.

My last trip there was the day before they closed their doors permanently. Books were discounted down to 90% of their marked price, and then they announced all books were 10 for $9.99.

A buck apiece.

The feeding frenzy increased, and by the time I left with my armful of books, the bones were almost picked clean.

I felt ill.

Not only was it the closing of a community icon and gathering point, it was also representative of the changing industry and the lightspeed transition to e-books.

As much as I as an author will be benefitting from these changes, I still mourn the loss of the bookstores. I know that our Borders is only one of the thousands of bookstores that have closed up shop over the last few years as they crumpled beneath the heavy tread of Amazon. The e-book revolution is only hastening their demise.

I made one last visit to say goodbye to an old friend. I don’t know why I was drawn to the body, its paper flesh stripped from the bones of its shelving beneath its concrete skin.

But I had to see it. I had to see that it was dead, once and for all.

I have my memories, and several shelves full of books I may never get around to reading. And morbidly, I also have a few bones, and will always think of Borders whenever I look at the two used bookcases in the spare bedroom that still have Borders tags on them.

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Goodbye, Borders. I’ll miss you.

roh morgon @ Friday, 16 September 2011 2:23 pm
Comments (6)

~adventures in pubbing

First of all, I’d like to thank Deirde at A Storybook World for this cool blog award:

 

Wow – can’t believe how this summer is flying by – I mean, really fast, though maybe not this fast:

This is the US military’s new unmanned Falcon HTV-2 (Hyperonic Technology Vehicle 2), touted to be the fastest plane ever at a top speed of  Mach 20, or 13,000 miles per hour.

13,000 MILES PER HOUR!

That’s London to Sydney in less than an hour, according to this article in the UK’s Guardian.

That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is that the military lost the plane 36 minutes into its test flight.

That’s right.

Lost. The. Plane.

Millions of dollars in time, research, and materials, not to mention countless man-hours, literally vanished into thin air.

The Falcon HTV doesn’t have a great track record. There were only two built: Falcon HTV-1 and Falcon HTV-2.

Last year, the Falcon HTV-1 was 9 minutes into its test flight when, according the Guardian article, the computers detected a problem and sent it into the ocean for safety reasons.

One vanished into thin air, the other at the bottom of the deep blue sea.

How cliche.

So much for the human attempt to break its own record.

To see how nature does it, watch this video of a REAL falcon diving, in which her top speed is recorded at 242 mph.

Will the Real Falcon Please Stand Up?!

Now that’s more like it.

So, back to how fast the summer is flying by and what I’m working on.

I’ve got two projects right now – writing a novella set in the Watcher world, and publishing Watcher itself.

One of the things I’ve learned about self-publishing is that it means wearing many hats.  A lot more than I realized. In addition to writer, editor, publisher, distributor, and publicist, I’m learning to be a book designer.

If you’re new to the industry like I am, there are all sorts of things to consider when you want to get your book out for public consumption. Not only do your story and your words have to BE good, they have to LOOK good. Here’s an example of some of the challenges I’ve recently faced:

~ learning all of the details that go into designing a book…all the little details I’ve always taken for granted, such as what you want in the header and/or footer, where to place the page number, what to include on the copyright page, what font to use, acknowledgments, dedication, author bio…

~ deciding on a cool font to use for my title and chapter headings. OMG – there are thousands and thousands to choose from. But it’s critical – an attractive title font goes right along with the cover, and helps make the inside part of the book look professional.  

~ realizing that all the best designed books use the title font for the first letter of each chapter. I only had to replace 65 of them by hand.  

~ pushing the chapter headings down the page so the first page of the chapter starts about 1/3 to 1/2 way down, and of course, at the same level as all the other chapters. Styles makes this easy if you’ve used them correctly. I discovered I hadn’t. Doesn’t sound too bad, but I have a prologue, an epilogue, and 63 chapters…  

~ adding extra pages at the end of certain chapters so that all of the new chapters start on the odd (right-hand) page – and the heading placement is the same as all the others. This is where I discovered that section breaks can be a real pain in the ass.  

~ fighting with styles and section breaks so that the header doesn’t print on the new chapter pages (the ones with the chapter heading), but maintains the sequential numbering and the proper even- and odd-page header set-up on all the rest.  

~ discovering when I thought I was all done with the inside formatting that the first paragraph of a new chapter or a new section is NOT indented. Yeah, never realized that one. Not only do I have the  prologue, and epilogue, and 63 chapters, I have several section breaks PER CHAPTER. But not all is lost. I think I can fix this with <cringe> modifying the styles so that I don’t have to remove the indents by hand…without blowing up my whole document. I hope.  

Once the inside is finished (nearly there – I can almost taste it), then it’s time for the cover.

Which I am NOT doing the artwork for.

No way. No how. Don’t got that creative bent. Even my stick figures are lame.

But…I know peeps. And I got a peep working on my covers (notice I said covers with an ‘s’ – Watcher is only the first of a trilogy).

In the meantime, I’m putting together a plain cover for a test run. I’m planning to print up a half-dozen proofs as review copies for some special readers I’ve been holding in reserve.

But what that means is that I still have to put together a temporary cover layout, which includes front, back, and spine.

When that’s done, I’ll convert it to PDF, hopefully maintaining all of my painfully-arranged formatting, and hand it off to my indie publisher, Dark Dreams Publishing (more on that later). 

So…that’s what I’ve been up to during this rapidly-passing summer. I just wish it would slow down to falcon speed and not try to be a Falcon HTV.

But it may a bit late for that – too soon I know I’ll look back and say, “Where did my summer go?”

Hopefully I’ll have more to show for my efforts than the memory of a vanished blip on a radar.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 24 August 2011 5:31 pm
Comments (5)

~in the zone

Yeah.

That’s where I’ve been.

Deep in the story.

So deep that this morning when I was driving to work, thinking of upcoming scenes and additions to those already written, I realized I was driving to the WRONG FRICKIN’ CITY.

On the wrong highway. In nearly the opposite direction.

Yeah.

That’s what it’s like to be in the zone.

Lost. Buried deep.

So wrapped up with the characters and their catastrophic lives that I have trouble extricating myself.

I can feel them in the background while I’m at work, or meeting social obligations, or with family.

Calling me. Begging me to get their story down and share with the world their angst and tragedies, their joys and loves.

The story I’m working on now is about Taz and how he became the unfeeling, distant bastard that he is. His music is mostly Coldplay (their more somber tunes), and his song is Amsterdam.

So…

My apologies to those of you waiting for workshop reports, or for me to read and give you feedback on your latest fiction.

I’ll get to you – I promise.

But right now I need to go.

Taz is calling me.

roh morgon @ Monday, 1 August 2011 9:50 am
Comments (4)
category: watcher,writing
tags:

~shifting directions

Here we are, nearing the end of the fourth month of 2011…

I can’t believe the year is already a third over. Time flies when one is buried in both work and writing.

For those of you who occasionally check my blog, I apologize for my long absence and appreciate your loyalty.

The last several months have been a wake-up call for me. It all started at the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, where the predominate message on how to get published was nearly 180-degrees from that of last year’s conference.

In 2010, the traditional route to becoming a published writer  (i.e. via agent, publisher, etc.) was still being promoted at the conference as the smart and secure way to go. Those who were venturing into self-publishing were viewed with shaking heads and whispers of doom. But at the same time, some folks were watching the risk takers–and taking notes.

Several major events in 2010 and early 2011 indicated the wind was beginning to shift in the other direction.

The number of e-book purchases sailed past hard copy numbers in several categories, firing a warning shot across the publishing bow that the whole world felt. The bankruptcy of Borders was a direct hit, the first of many salvos that are continuing to rock the publishing industry.

The February 2011 Conference was aflame with the recent Borders news, yet highly optimistic about the changing publishing climate. And sessions on self-publishing, or indie publishing as it’s now being called, had an equal presence with those following the traditional, or legacy model.

In March, a new storm hit the publishing world as established author Barry Eisler walked away from signing a two-book, $500,000 contract with St. Martins Press to publish the books himself. And a week later, self-publishing darling Amanda Hocking signed a four-book $2,000,000 contract with the same St. Martins Press.

Needless to say, these two events left many folks scratching their heads.

But when it comes down to the dollars, both decisions make perfect sense. Barry retains control over his story and his release schedule (it can take up to two years for a book to hit the stores after signing with a publisher). What’s more important, and the deciding factor in his decision, is that he can earn more in the long term by publishing the books himself than he could using the traditional model.

For a little insight into Barry Eisler’s choice, check out this conversation between Barry and Joe Konrath. A follow-up to that post can be found here in Part 2.

Amanda Hocking, on the other hand, gained a legitimacy and recognition that is difficult for self-published writers to attain. She also now has a team behind her to take care of much of the publishing details, freeing her up to do more of what she loves–writing. To read about her decision, I encourage you to visit Amanda’s blog.

As for Amanda’s accounting, some would argue she could have made more by publishing those four books herself. But I don’t think she’s going to be hurting for money, because she still has her self-published titles that are selling well. And as print readers discover her books and visit her website, her self-pubbed works will keep selling.

Ultimately, these two authors did what they felt was in their best interests, and no one should question their decisions.

But we can watch the results of those decisions unfold, and learn from them.

I know I am, and I know which direction I’m heading.

I realize the self-pub route is difficult and requires a lot of work. But so does the traditional, and if I go that route, I have an uphill battle (see December’s ~biases in publishing).

My posts will be infrequent over the next several months as I re-position myself to publish on my own. I have a number of changes to make, both to blog and website, and a lot of preparation to get Watcher ready to hit the market by my target date.

So continue to check back once in awhile for news about the paradigm shift that is shaking up the publishing world. It’s a revolution that’s been a long time coming, and I’m excited to be a part of it.

roh morgon @ Friday, 22 April 2011 3:03 pm
Comments (8)

~Logline Blogfest!

Yesterday I attempted to participate in one of Miss Snark’s First Victim’s logline contests, but failed to get my entry in on time  :( – (entries were closed within 2 minutes!)

But today she posted about an ongoing logline blogfest being hosted by Steena at Chocolate Reality. It seems I may be a little too late for it as well (it actually started on Nov 1) but thought I’d throw my hat into the ring anyways.

And with that, here’s my logline #1 for my dark fantasy novel, Watcher:

No longer human and forced to live in isolation to protect her secret, Sunny Martin’s lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

Based on some of the feedback I’ve received on the above logline, here’s a completely different one. I’m thinking I might end up with a combination of the two.

Logline #2

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was savaged and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, she discovers a second world, a world of dangerous beings akin to her, yet not. Her journey to bridge the two is one that brings unexpected love and heartbreak, and true transformation.

~~~~~~~~~

Combination: Logline #3:

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels that Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but as they’re swept into a whirlwind of passion, betrayal, and murder, Sunny faces an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

Logline #4 – I think this might be the one:

Predator, killer, monster – these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Struggling to survive on the edge of a human world she no longer belongs to, her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or spend eternity alone.

~~~~~~~~~

And it’s too late for the contest, but here’s Logline #5:

Predator, killer, monster–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.

~~~~~~~~~

A suggestion from someone near and dear to me is to rearrange a couple of the opening words. I think this works better…thanks, Tristain!

The latest incarnation, Logline #6:

Monster, predator, killer–these are all labels Sunny Martin applies to herself since the night she was ripped through her car window and drained of her blood. Her lonely existence changes when she meets Nicolas, the enigmatic leader of a hidden society–but soon their passion, tainted by betrayal and murder, drives Sunny toward an agonizing choice: give up her soul for the one she loves, or remain alone…forever.

~~~~~~~~~

Let me know what you think!

Be sure to go here to read the other logline entries in this ‘fest.

And thanks, Steena, for hosting such an awesome blogfest!

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 3 November 2010 2:44 pm
Comments (32)

~finding the spark & this week’s musical treat

Due to interest from teachers and schools in Fur Before Feathers, I’ve decided to turn my writing efforts away from the world of Watcher for the time being and start on a new story in my YA Forbidden Doorways series.

I’ve been wanting to write Sullivan’s story for awhile now. Sullivan is Sander’s older brother and has a well-deserved reputation for being a troublemaker. His story, called In Search of Self, takes place after Sullivan’s left home and is trying to find his place in the world.

My ‘backbrain’ has been mulling over the opening, the events, and the other characters in his story for the last couple months, but several writing opportunities have gone by without that flash of inspiration that always sends me running to the keyboard.

Most of the time when I start a new project, I awaken in the morning with a character dancing in my head, nagging me with their very presence to write their story. But not Sullivan. Ever the rebel, he’s been strangely silent as he waited for me to find his story instead of shoving it in my face like all the others have.

And then the other day, I heard his song. His anger, his loneliness, his sense of isolation crashed over me like a tidal wave, and the flood of his story began.

The song is called Circadian Rhythm and is by the band Son Volt. And it was the spark that ignited Sullivan’s emotions.

The spark.

That elusive flash that opens the doors to other worlds and allows characters to step into our heads and tell their stories.

The spark is something that must be nourished with setting and dialog and a gentle breath so it will grow into a steady-burning flame, warming and lighting the way for the writer.

All good stories start with a spark. Good scenes do, too.

Music usually provides me the spark to write powerful scenes filled with emotion. Long warm showers irrigate the plot and bring new characters to life. Both are integral to my writing.

So tell me – how do you find your spark?

What sends you into another time, another place, another person?

What propels you to write?

roh morgon @ Monday, 18 October 2010 1:22 pm
Comments (4)

~Word Paint Blogfest!

I had decided not to commit to this blogfest, especially in light of the fact that I missed the Weather Blogfest and barely made it to the Rainy Day Blogfest (you can check out my entry here if you missed it).

But then this scene came flooding into my head, and I had to write it.

When ya gotta write, ya gotta write.

So here’s my entry for Dawn Ember’s Word Paint Blogfest – be sure to visit her site to read the other entries.

This is an alternate scene from my WIP, Watcher, the story of Sunny Martin and her struggles to survive in a personal hell from which she cannot escape.

Hope it’s been a little while since you had breakfast (or lunch).

~~~~~~~~~

A red river tumbles over me, creating eddies around the angles of my body. I lift my head from the crimson flow, gasping, choking, as I struggle to escape its sticky clutches. My arms claw the air in vain, and when I open my eyes, all I can see is a wall of blood bearing down on me. As it crushes me, shoving me deeper and deeper into the thick torrent, I scream.

I’m still screaming as I climb from the coma-like sleep that the sun forces upon me every morning. The horror coursing through me is nothing compared to the hunger burning through my veins. It rips through my belly into my throat, its fiery need sending waves of agony into my very soul.

Nicolas appears next to the bed, concern etching his brow.

“Oh, Nicolas! What’s happening to me?!” I cry as I fling myself into his arms.

“Sshh, my sweet. It is just a blooddream.” He strokes my hair, as though calming a frightened horse. My body responds, as it always does to him, and begins to relax.

He eases me back, his eyes searching mine, and asks, “Haven’t you had them before?”

“No,” I whisper. “Never.”

His silence tells me this is unusual, and I can visualize the checklist in his head as he adds another item to the list of my oddities.

The hunger flashes through me, reminding me that it will never let me go. I press myself tight against his chest, and as he wraps his arms around me, I know he’ll never let me go, either.

It’s a heavy price for his love, and sometimes I wonder how long I can pay it.

~~~~~~~~~

© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

roh morgon @ Friday, 27 August 2010 9:34 am
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~Rainy Day Blogfest and this week’s musical treat – 25 august 2010

(special note – today is a nine-day for those who care about such things!)

It’s kinda hard to think about rain right now. It’s over 100° F  outside and temps are expected to reach 103° by this evening. Not a cloud in the sky…

But today is the Rainy Day Blogfest, hosted by Christine at The Writer’s Hole, so to help remember what it’s like to be cool and damp, I’m featuring a short excerpt from my WIP Watcher. We join Sunny just after she’s had ‘dinner’ and is feeling content for a change.

To help set the mood, here’s a quiet little piano tune by Justin St. Charles and Nine Inch Nails:

It starts to sprinkle as I run along the shoreline of Lake Cachuma. I don’t care. Being wet doesn’t bother me and neither does the cold. In fact, sometimes I find the cold invigorating. Warmth, on the other hand, is quite pleasurable, especially on the inside after a hot meal. Warm days are great too, if I can protect my skin from the direct sun, which isn’t easy. People look at you funny when you’re wearing a long-sleeved turtleneck and gloves and it’s 90 degrees outside.

Jogging back to the BMW, I catch the scent of wild pig and veer off to follow it. Pigs are tough to kill because they’re so low to the ground and their barrel-shaped bodies are difficult to grip. Their necks are short and stout – breaking them is not very feasible. And they have tusks, right near my target area. I did kill one once, though, a young adult, and I thoroughly enjoyed his buttery-sweet blood.

Scent trails are easier to follow when the weather’s damp. I detect several now and slow as the scents become stronger. Weaving through the bushes, I freeze – foraging along a marshy area are three adult females and six babies. I watch for a moment, then melt into the brush.

That is one thing I will not do. I will not kill mothers or babies – of any species.

Retracing my steps, I pick up my trail again and continue on to the car. Between the deer and my twenty-mile run, I’m finally relaxed, and I smile from the sheer joy of being in the woods.

The sprinkling has turned to rain, and I stop and lift my face to the sky. I rejoice as the drops hit and trail down my cheeks, and open my mouth to see if I can feel them on the inside as well. Rain dances across the leaves and rocks in a liquid ballet, and I listen as each drop makes its own music, creating a soft woodland symphony.

Laughing, I shake my head, flinging water off my hair to add to the concert, and take off running again.

© 2010 Roh Morgon. All rights reserved.

~~~~~~~~~

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 25 August 2010 4:14 pm
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~OMG! WATCHER TIED FOR 3RD PLACE!!

Yeah! You read that right!

But you might be asking, “Uh, third place in what?”

Miss Snark’s First Victim August Secret Agent Contest, that’s what!

The ‘secret agent’ was revealed earlier this morning: Cameron McClure, of the Donald Maass Literary Agency!

I’m stunned – she is at the top of my intended submission list! I had actually planned to start querying by the end of the month.

Entrants for the contest were to submit the first 250 words of a completed novel. Submission windows were limited in both time and number of entries. A total of forty-four entries were submitted.

There were a number of great ones. I’m hoping the other winners will announce soon who they were – I’d love to visit their sites to see more of their writing!

In the meantime, I’m off to do my happy dance!

roh morgon @ Monday, 23 August 2010 12:17 pm
Comments (10)

~comments and how they can make – or ruin – a blogger’s day

Before I begin, I just need to point out that today is a NINE day. Nine days are always good days for me.

One of the things I enjoy about other bloggers’ posts is reading the comments. The commenter may confirm the relevancy of the topic, offer their own interpretation/experience, or suggest further sources. Sometimes the comment is just an attagirl (or boy) for a great post, or, rarely I hope, a negative remark from some disgruntled reader. I haven’t experienced any bad ones myself yet (of course, I haven’t had all that many comments on my posts, either), but hope I can handle it with grace if/when it does happen.

But I have received some comments that made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. And today, I received one of the most memorable ever. It was from a longtime friend, a writer I knew from before I started writing, and one whose support encourages me to keep pursuing this craft. His name is töff, and he is the creator and driving force behind the Fresno Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writers.

Here is his comment about my novel Watcher that made my day:

“I hereby claim the honor and privilege of being the first person ever to read /Watcher/ while giving blood. The dream scene about Marie is dramatic enough in its own right , but try reading about the loss of a lifespark while your own blood is pumping out through a 16-gauge needle.”

Now that’s a dedicated reader and a devoted fan – willing to give up his lifeblood in order to immerse himself more fully in the story.

Thank you, töff — for everything.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 27 June 2010 1:17 am
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~characters who impact and Roh’s Character Contest #1

Don’t you love it when a special character in a story refuses to leave your thoughts, even after the story is done?

I recently met one named Weyland in a short story titled “Unicorn Tapestry” by Suzy McKee Charnas.

We get to know Weyland through his therapist, Floria as she begins treatment on who she assumes is a delusional patient. A staid, aging college-professor, he maintains his distance from Floria with a cold formality. But as this spare and intense man reveals the chilling details of his life, Floria begins to question her initial diagnosis. She becomes more and more unsettled by her mysterious patient as he nimbly lays waste to her attempts to unravel his delusions. Their dance with words eventually leads to a dance with death in a spine-tingling conclusion. The end is not quite what we anticipate and leaves the reader (at least this one) thinking about it long after it’s over.

Weyland and his ‘outsider’ existence haunted me enough that I read the story twice. I visited the website of author Suzy McKee Charnas, then wrote to her to tell her of Weyland’s impact on me, and how I have a similar character (Nicolas from Watcher) who haunts me as well. She was kind enough to answer and discuss Weyland, and encouraged me with my writing.

Characters are what keep us reading. There are millions of readers out there who fell in love with Edward and Bella and went on to devour the rest of Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight Saga. There are millions of others who couldn’t wait to for the next J.K.Rowling to learn what was going to happen to Harry Potter and his friends.

Well-developed characters are what I love, and what I strive for in my writing. Character development is an ongoing topic among writers and lately has been a subject of discussion on several blogs by friends in the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) group.

Something else my friends have been doing in the blogosphere is holding contests in which the winner receives a copy of a recommended book.

I’ve been thinking about this.

And here’s what I’ve decided to do:

I’m going to hold a series of contests based on characters. Each contest will be slightly different, but they’ll all revolve around characters. I’ll be holding them every 3-4 weeks, so stay tuned to this blog.

Here’s the guidelines for Roh’s Character Contest #1:

Most readers have a list of favorite characters from stories they love. I know who mine are — I want to hear about yours.

Comment about one or more of your favorite characters and what books they are from. Each person commenting will receive one entry. The winner will be determined by a random drawing.

There’s a SECOND chance to win as well! It’s also an opportunity to stretch your literary muscles.

Describe your favorite character in your own words and what impact this character has had on your writing, or even on your life. You must include the title of the story, book, or series, along with the author’s name.

Word limit: 198 words or less (1+9+8=18, 1+8=9. I’m a nine freak, remember?).

Check out my three paragraphs above on Weyland for an example (and yes, they total exactly 198 words).

Your entry will be judged on both word craft and strength of argument. In other words, CONVINCE me. Tell me what it is about this character and its effect on you in a way that will compel me (and others) to go buy the book and read it.

Bonus points: If your word count total is a ‘nine’ (the digits add up to nine or a mulitple of nine), you will receive a second entry into the random drawing.

PRIZES:

For the random drawing, the prize will be a gift certificate from Fictionwise for an e-book of the Nebula award-winning Unicorn Tapestry by Suzy McKee Charnas.

For the character description, the prize is a brand-new softcover copy of Suzy McKee Charnas’ book, The Vampire Tapestries AND a $10 gift card for Borders or Barnes & Noble (winner’s choice). The prizes for this portion of the contest are restricted to residents of the continental U.S. only.

CONTEST ENDS:

This contest has been extended. The last day to enter is June 27, 2010 Saturday, July 17 (a nine-day, of course). The random winner will be drawn the following day and notified via email. The character descriptions will be judged during the remainder of the week. The winner will be selected and notified via email by July 6, July 26, 2010.

roh morgon @ Monday, 31 May 2010 3:12 pm
Comments (14)

~music to write by & AW’s May Musical Blog Chain

Yay! It’s finally my turn on the Absolute Write May Musical Blog Chain. There’s something to be said for being last!

Aheïla started the chain with the question, “What does your story/character(s) sound like?” She offered the following guidelines: “You can take this from any angle: what do you listen to when you write, which song summarizes your story the best, etc.”

Hmm. Well, for me, the best place to start is at the beginning.

I woke up one morning with a character in my head showing me her lonely existence on the fringes of human society. As Sunny unveiled her story, I became obsessed in the efforts to write it down. That might not sound unusual, except I’d never written anything before.

That was the beginning of a new chapter in my life, which quickly narrowed down to night after night of manic writing, generally getting only 2-4 hours of sleep before heading off to work the next day. Watcher became my life as the story poured incessantly into my head.

During that five, very unreal months, I discovered how much music – always a big part of my life – enhanced my writing. I initially wrote to wordless instrumental songs…

Well, I must confess. It was actually the Twilight score – not the popular soundtrack, but the haunting background music by Carter Burwell. It provided the eerie feel of the nonhuman creatures I was writing about, with both soft romantic interludes and violent crescendos that matched the scenes playing in my head.

Then my son introduced me to Nine Inch Nails. I was familiar with a couple of their popular songs, but though a longtime Tool fan, I’d never paid much attention to NIN. My son filled my new iPod with NIN and I discovered a depth to Trent Reznor’s music that went way beyond Closer (the ‘animal’ song).

As I was editing Watcher, I kept finding track after track of quiet and deeply emotional music by NIN. I discovered even more on the NIN remix site.

Trent Reznor, ever rebellious, makes his music available for fans to download, remix, and upload – in fact, he not only encourages it, but uploads his own remixes as well. What makes this phenomenal is that not only is it available to the public, but it’s all free as long as all the artists are credited and no one profits from it.

My ‘soundtrack’ for Watcher consists of dozens of songs and I’m constantly on the lookout for more. But what I’ve done for this post is to list the songs that are tied to a few of the more important scenes in the book. Many of them are Nine Inch Nails in origin, but there are also a few Incubus songs on this list – their mood and lyrics seem particularly suited to this story.

But before you begin, I need to add one little tidbit about some of the weirdness that entered my life while writing the story of Sunny and Nicolas.

The novel was almost complete when I discovered a song that sent chills down my spine. Why? Because the singer was singing about Nicolas – my Nicolas – who had been hammering his story at me for the last half a year. The song is called Sleeping with a Vampyre by Brigitte Handley and The Dark Shadows. It not only describes his physical appearance perfectly, but his behavior and attitude as well. It really creeped me out. Still does. Makes me wonder how many women he visits in their dreams…

You can listen to it here:

So that said, I invite you on a brief journey of Watcher through music that expresses the rollercoaster of emotions in this story. If you don’t have much time to listen to all of them, then at least listen to the theme song for Watcher. It’s called Leavin’ Hope, Still and is a Nine Inch Nails remix by Justin St.Charles. This is a sad but beautiful instrumental love song which, to me, is a perfect tribute to Sunny and Nicolas.  It’s Track #4 on the main player.

~~~~~~~~~

Be sure to check out the other participants in the AW May Musical Blog Chain. They all use and relate to music differently in their writings and offer a wonderful variety of music samples:

Aheïla: http://thewriteaholicblog.wordpress.com/ and direct link to my blog chain’s post
Stefanie Gaither: http://stefanie-gaither.blogspot.com/ and direct link to the blog chain’s post
AuburnAssassin: http://clairegillian.wordpress.com/ and direct link to her post
xcomplex: http://arielemerald.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
Proach: http://everythinghistorical.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
8thSamurai: http://digitalisdreaming.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
vfury: http://helencorcoran.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
CScottMorris: http://cscottmorrisbooks.com/ and direct link to his post
Hayley E. Lavik: http://hayleyelavik.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
FreshHell: http://freshhell.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
LadyMage: http://www.katherinegilraine.com and direct link to her post
DavidZahir: http://zahirblue.blogspot.com/ and direct link to his post
Aimée Laine: http://www.aimeelaine.com/writing/blog/ and direct link to her post
egoodlett: http://wordlarceny.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Semmie: http://semmie.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
Sbclark: http://sonyaclark.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Razibahmed: http://write-translate.blogspot.com/ and direct link to his post
ArcticFox: http://picaresqueblog.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Lilain: http://abigailschmidt.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
Truelyana: http://expressiveworld.com/ and direct link to her post
CowgirlPoet: http://frontnotes.blogspot.com/ and direct link to her post
defyalllogic:http://tavialewis.com/hyperbolicallyspeaking/ and direct link to her post
IrishAnnie: http://superpenpower.blogspot.com and direct link to her post
Anarchicq: http://anarchicq.com and direct link to her post
Harri3tspy: http://spynotes.wordpress.com and direct link to her post
roh morgon @ 9:18 am
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~The “Let’s Talk” Blogfest and dialog excerpt from Watcher

Fiction Groupie is holding an event called the “Let’s Talk” Blogfest. Participants sign up on her blog, then post a dialog excerpt from their WIP on their own blog.

I heard about this from Chris (one of my friends from FSFW) and immediately thought, “I have the perfect scene. I was just working on it.”

Thanks, Chris, for the heads up!

And without further ado, here is a scene from Watcher (oh, and today is a nine-day, BTW!):

~~~~~~~~~

The first thing I become conscious of is that whatever I’m lying on is not hard.  I cautiously reach out, expecting to feel air, but instead touch softness and fabric.

I open my eyes open and lift my head to look around.  A bed, my bed.  Not a tree branch.

Or maybe it is still a dream, I realize, as I turn and see Nicolas stretched out next to me, leaning on his elbow with his head propped up on his hand.

“Good morning,” he says in a low musical voice, his emerald eyes shining.

As before, words stick in my throat, unable to escape. So this must be a dream after all.

He reaches out and brushes back the hair from my face, then softly strokes my lips.

But that felt pretty real.

He shifts, then leans over and kisses me on the mouth.

Oh, this is definitely real.

I feel my body respond, and then he is crushing me to him.  He holds me tight for a long moment, then slowly releases me and leans back.  He reaches out again and starts working the tangles from my hair with his fingers.

“I was unable to comb all of these out earlier, as you were sleeping on this side.”

“You carried me off the mountain,” I croak, my voice finally breaking free.

“I did,” he says quietly as he continues to pick at my hair.

“You are here.”

“I am.”

“How long have you been here?”

“Since the night you left.  A month ago.”  The pain beneath his words is unmistakeable.

“A month? I’ve been gone a month?”

It’s all a blur of mountains and forests, lakes and meadows, blood and more blood.

He purses his lips, but does not answer. His green eyes watch my face as I feel the wilderness sing in my soul.  He touches my cheek, jarring me back to the present.

“You waited here,” I whisper. “All that time. For me.”

“Yes. I could do…nothing else.” Again I hear the pain, accompanied by loneliness, and wonder how he survived.

Because the only way I did was to give myself to the blood and to the wild.

Once more it calls, and I shut my eyes and remember the colors and smells that caressed my senses, and the wind that softly brushed my skin. Life is so simple out there.  Hunt and run and swim and sleep.  No complicated emotions to manage, no one to argue with, or be disappointed in, or be embraced by, or be loved by.

My eyes grow damp as tears begin to well up beneath their closed lids.

“Sunny.”  His voice is calm and soothing. Feather-light fingers again touch my face.

Startled, my eyes fly open. Yes, he is still here. This is not a dream.

But I need to move, to stretch, to run. My body’s not used to being so still for so long. Slipping out of the bed, I back across the room, watching him. He gets up as well, and part of me starts to panic. I turn to the closet, take out a pair of  jeans and a sweater, and slip them on.  I don’t need shoes–quit wearing them weeks ago.

“I need to go,” I whisper to the floor on my way out.

“Will you come back?” he asks, his voice strained.

“I don’t know. Maybe.” I take a long, slow breath. “Yes. I just need…a little more time.”

Turning, I head for the back door. As I open it, I hear him in the doorway behind me.

“I’ll be here,” he says.

I breathe deeply and step outside, inhaling the pine and other scents that make up the forest, and take off up the mountain at a dead run.

roh morgon @ Wednesday, 19 May 2010 8:28 am
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~how ‘real’ are your characters?

There has been discussion recently among several of my friends from the Fresno SciFi and Fantasy Writers (FSFW) about characters – character development, character-driven vs. plot-driven stories, etc.

Characters are what inspire me to write. Each of my stories started when I woke up one morning with the image or words of a character in my head. Were they the result, or aftermath, of dreams? I don’t know, because I rarely remember my dreams.

The beings I’ve written about each began as a blurry presence that solidified as I turned my attention to them. And once I opened the door in my mind to their existence, they came through, bringing their personalities, fears, needs, and quirks with them. Physical appearances came later, generally not until I actually began writing their stories.

The stories they’ve shown me played as movies in my head, revealed one scene at a time. Often I got glimpses of future scenes, but I was never quite sure where they would fall until they hit the page.  The endings were a little different. Once the story was rolling – once the character felt confident that I was telling it the way they wanted – only then they would show me the ending.

Watcher, my first story, was interesting to write. As Sunny showed me her life and I began to get a sense of her loneliness, she guided me to one of the most important scenes in her story – the first time she saw Nicolas. It wasn’t until he stepped into the story that I knew the ending.  And that was also when I realized there would be a sequel as well.

The sequel, Runner, is a work-in-progress and is only half-complete. The ending for it is fuzzy – I know the general direction the story is heading, but these two characters have a habit of throwing surprises at me as I write.  The beginning of Runner is proof – I had no warning that Sandy was about to step into the story, let alone be such a pivotal character, until she literally stepped in front of Sunny’s car.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes at how I refer to my characters – as though they are living, breathing, real beings with opinions and a say-so in the matter. But that is how I see them. To me, the only way a writer can make the reader believe a character is real, to bond with a character and care about them, is if the writer accepts them as real.

Their reality is just on another plane of existence. Whether that plane of existence is entirely in my mind, or is indeed another dimension full of cracks that its inhabitants slip through, is not something I care to dwell on. As long as my characters keep showing me their stories, I’ll keep writing them down.

And I’m betting that I’m not the first writer who halfway expects one of their characters to someday step around a corner – in this plane of existence – and say, “Hello.”

roh morgon @ Tuesday, 11 May 2010 10:43 am
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more on ‘nine’

I’ve posted before about the number nine and will likely do so again.

This month’s post revolves around the once-in-a-year occurrence of two nine-days happening within two days of one another.

The first one was on Thursday, April 29.  4+2+9+2+0+1+0 = 18 = 9

The second one is today, Saturday May 1.  5+1+2+0+1+0 = 9

What’s really cool about it this year is that they bracket my birthday. Yes, my birthday is smack dab in the middle of two nine-days! For a nine-freak like me–that is monumental!

So when I realized that, I had to (you know, that OCD thing)  figure out when my birthday last was, or will be again, a nine-day.

Guess what? Just last year, my birthday fell on a nine-day (which was before I was aware of how important nine seems to be in my life).  Now, that might not seem significant (in fact, I doubt that ANY of this is significant to anyone but me), but 2009 was the year I was sucked into the world of Sunny and Nicolas and wrote the novel Watcher and half of its sequel. 2009 was the year I discovered I love to write.

So I think it’s pretty fascinating that my birthday was on a nine-day in a year in which my life took a much-needed change in direction.

The interesting thing about a specific month and day combining with a year to equal nine is that it only occurs periodically.  Like, every nine years (seriously!).

So my birthday won’t fall again on a nine-day until the year 2018…Sure hope I’m still around then.

But back to nine-days and assorted odd facts relating to them:

The new moon occurred twice this year on a nine-day:  January  14 & February 13. And that’s it for the year.

The full moon will occur only once this year on a nine-day: December 21, which also happens to be winter solstice. This seems to me to be a day that should be paid close attention to.

The only other oddity that I’d like to highlight is one that occurs in the upcoming leap year, 2012. This is  a year that already has a number of people a bit nervous.

So not only is 2012 a leap year, but Leap Day, February 29, has it’s own significance. It is a nine-day!

It is quite rare for a day that occurs only once every four years to also be a nine-day. So rare that it will happen only twice in this century: 2012 and 2048.

2+2+9+2+0+4+8 = 27 = 9.

Let’s all hope the world as we know it, or something similar, is around in 2048, and that someone can do the math to notice that Leap Day is also a nine-day.

roh morgon @ Saturday, 1 May 2010 11:52 pm
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reading aloud allowed

Actually, not only is reading your work aloud permissible, you should consider making it a mandatory part of your writing and editing process.

It’s part of mine. When I’m ‘combing’ through passages looking for errors, I’m also seeking rhythm and flow. The best way for me to find it is to read the passage out loud.

It surprises me how different it can sound–and how my tongue will trip over a missing word that my mind is sure was there just a second ago. Words that I used two paragraphs back suddenly shout at me, saying, “Yo! I just had my turn! Use someone else!”

Reading a paragraph out loud will help me avoid sentence structures that repeat themselves as though fired from a Gatling gun, or combinations that are singsong, morphing into some bizarre nursery rhyme.

My voice helps me to find the cadence of the scene, to rearrange words and build sentences that reflect the emotion of the moment, and my ears tell me when something just plain doesn’t work.

I never release my writing to the outer world without reading it out loud, beginning to end, multiple times. It doesn’t matter if it’s a business letter, my blog, or a fiction piece that may or may not be complete. For me, it’s the last vet check before the gate opens and the horse bearing my words races down the track.

So when I was asked if I would like to read a scene or two from Watcher during the open-mike session of a poetry reading, I had no hesitation.

It was in Davis, California, and it was at the monthly Poetry Night held on the first Wednesday of the month at the Bistro 33 on F Street.

While in town on business, I called my friend, Sharon, who is doing some editing work for me, and asked about getting together. She kindly invited me join her for dinner with a few other friends on Poetry Night, and it was then that she asked if I would like to read from Watcher.

I knew immediately that the opening cemetery scene contained enough emotion and imagery for a verbal ‘performance’ –for that is what it really is when you read your work aloud for an audience. But I was unsure of which passage to read for the second half of my five minutes of fame. I practiced a few the evening before the dinner, intending to consult with Sharon before making the final choice.

As it turned out, several of the dinner friends actually run the Poetry Night. Dr. Andy Jones and Brad Henderson are both University of California Davis literature professors and well-known local poets. The other dinner guests, besides Sharon and me, were the featured poets of Poetry Night. Susan Wolbarst and Allegra Silberstein are accomplished and published poets, and in 2010, Allegra was named the first Poet Laureate of the City of Davis.

So I was in pretty distinguished company and was suddenly more than a little intimidated by the ears and judgments of the people I would be reading to. But Sharon reassured me (she is a huge fan of Watcher) and together we made the decision on which passages I would read. One, of course, was the cemetery scene. But the other was one I had not practiced the night before. Yet it was another scene with enough vivid imagery that I felt it would read well, and so I took the chance and read it unpracticed.

But it wasn’t really unpracticed. Because when I wrote it, and during the dozens of editing sessions that I’ve subjected Watcher to, I read it out loud. Over and over again. Granted, the last time I’d read it was probably four or five months prior to Poetry Night. But it was well-vetted verbally, and I knew this horse would fly smoothly down the track.

As I listened to the poets and other performers, I blocked all thoughts of my impending time in front of the mike, refusing to give into the nervousness that I knew was lurking. And when I stepped up on the stage and began reading, I forced myself to stay calm and read slowly, and let the horse I’d trained have a little bit of rein.

The words flowed in that cadence I’d schooled them into, and the scene maintained its emotional rhythm throughout its run. And I believe the audience caught a good glimpse of Sunny’s pain as she watched her daughter place flowers on her empty grave.

I took a deep breath and turned to the marked page of the second scene. And as I began to read of falling snowflakes, fluffy cushions of downy white, and the unpainting of nature’s colorful forest canvas, I could feel Sunny’s amazement and joy, and I can only hope some of that was able to reach the audience through my voice.

As I left the stage to the appreciative sound of more-than-just-polite applause, I smiled as I realized that I had just read excerpts from a vampire novel (the dark stepchild of popular fiction) to a group of poetry lovers who likely had no idea that the subject in the scenes lived on blood.

And surprisingly, I wasn’t embarrassed by what I’d read or how I’d read it. I was proud of it, in spite of the fact that admitting I write vampire fiction is a bit embarrassing itself. And I believe I felt that way about my performance because I’ve been practicing those scenes for my own ears for well over a year now.

So not only am I suggesting you read your work aloud during both the writing and the editing phases, I recommend you look for opportunities to read it aloud for others. You may discover something important about your work, and you may find a renewed sense of faith in what you are putting on the page.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 25 April 2010 3:44 pm
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nine!

Ah – today is a ‘nine’ day. For those of you who aware of numerology, today is very fortuitous, depending on your perspective.

Now I’m not a numerologist and don’t really know much about it. So to those of you who spot flaws in my methodology, I apologize. I approach it very simply and not very scientifically, and I’m okay with that.

My special numbers are 3 and 9. The number 9 especially, because it is…3 3s!

Today is March 21, 2010 or, 3/21/2010.

When you add those numbers:

3+2+1+2+0+1+0

You get…9!

So, today is a 9.

It’s very tempting to submit Watcher today. But it’s with an editor and I need to wait until it’s ready.

Speaking of Watcher, the number 9 figures very prominently in that story. Whether we’re talking about the Council of Nine, or Sunny is checking the time and sees that it’s 4:05, the number 9 is buried everywhere throughout.

The Forbidden Doorway series revolves around 3. There’s not as many  references to 3 as there are to 9 in Watcher, but they are there.

Stay tuned for more posts on this topic. I have something special planned regarding the numbers in both series once they are published.

In the meantime, check out the dates and times of my posts. If you find any that don’t add up to 9 (date+time), let me know.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 21 March 2010 6:03 pm
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watcher weirdness #1

Watcher Weirdness.

That’s what we started calling it after awhile. I’m not sure when the oddities actually began. They could’ve been there all along, trying, but failing, to get my attention.

The first one that I can distinctly recall happened several months after I started writing, and had to do with Sunny’s name.

I’m not sure why that name popped into my head when I was searching for a name for her. There was never any other. I tried to change it several times. After all, it seemed a pretty silly name for a creature of darkness. But she wouldn’t give it up, so I let her keep it while in the back of my mind I searched for another.

March 18, 2009, I stopped fighting it.

Catherine Hardwicke, the director of the movie Twilight, was scheduled to appear that day at a Wal-Mart in Lancaster as part of a publicity tour. She’d just released her memoirs in a wonderfully-organic little book called Twilight Director’s Notebook: The Story of How We Made The Movie.

Being an avid fan of both the Twilight book series and the movie, I made the three-hour drive to the desert city. Like several hundred other fans there, I bought my books (yes, several as gifts for friends) and dutifully waited in line for Catherine’s arrival.

It was while I was sitting in line chatting with the people around me that I saw Sunny’s name. It was printed on a Wal-Mart security badge, and hung around the neck of an attractive dark-haired young woman who seemed to be somewhat in charge. Whether she actually was or not, I don’t recall, because at that moment, the only important thing to me was – that name.

S-U-N-N-Y. Spelled exactly the way I’d been spelling it. I’ve wondered since then if it was short for Sunshine, like the character who had taken over my life.

But there it was, in big, bold letters, appearing to me out of nowhere at a time when I was most determined to change her name.

My first reaction was mild shock. But the more I thought about it, the weirder it seemed to get. Because it wasn’t just that it appeared at a time crucial to the writing of Watcher. It appeared, surrounded by vampire-lovers, at an event celebrating one of the most-cherished vampire stories ever made into book or film.

It is really odd when you think about it.

After several minutes of stunned contemplation, I just looked up into the air and said, “Alright. I get it. Your name is Sunny. I’ll stop trying to change it.”

I’m sure she was laughing at me, glad she didn’t have to beat me over the head with it. Which she kinda did.

When I tried to rationalize her name, to explain why she had such a name, I suddenly understood why that was the best name for her.

Belonging now to the night, she clung to her birth name as a reminder of her human life, to symbolize that even in darkness there can be light.

Sure wish she’d explained that earlier.

Anyhow, that is the story of how Sunny got, and kept, her name.

And, that is the first example of what I call ‘Watcher Weirdness.’

Stay tuned to the blog – I have plenty more, and some of them are really weird.

roh morgon @ Sunday, 6 December 2009 10:15 am
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