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!
roh morgon @ Thursday, 16 February 2012 5:17 am Comments (0)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
Well, unless they’re a bad surprise. Which really makes them more of shock.
But being the optimist that I am (though you wouldn’t know it from my dark writing), I naturally think of surprises as being good.
This one was. It was one of those surprise so good you can’t quite believe your eyes and you stop and say ‘no way!’ and ‘how cool’ and you almost fall out of your chair.
Yeah, one of THOSE surprises.
The other night, I visited the Horror Writers Association blog to catch up on their latest posts. As I was reading, the graphic at the top of the page was scrolling a collection of book covers. My eyes happened to drift upward just in time to see Watcher makes its leisurely way across the screen!
I watched the covers march by, and – lo and behold! – those red eyes staring out from the stark black strutted across the stage once again. It was the ninth book <grin>.
The third time I was ready and captured it with a screen shot:
Now, those of you who follow my blog know that I’m not really all that happy with Watcher’s cover. It was only meant to be a temporary ARC cover (Advance Reading Copy), and will be eventually be replaced with imagery that fits the vision in my mind.
That said, I still felt the burst of pride parents feel when their child appears in the school play. You just want to elbow your neighbor and say, “Hey, that’s MY kid up there!”
So yeah, my kid’s in the play. In fact, it was on Christmas Day when Watcher took center stage and the spotlight shined (shone?) on my first-born:
#1 – I’m being interviewed today! Let me tell you a bit about my host…
J.C. Martin is a fellow writer whose blog I’ve followed since its inception. Its title tells you a bit about her:
J.C. Martin, Fighter Writer
Reading, writing, and fighting–the three joys of life!
J.C. is a black belt and teaches martial arts and self-defense to both children and adults. She also writes dark mysteries and gripping thrillers with a psychological slant.
Needless to say, she writes awesome action scenes and great suspense! I’ve really enjoyed reading her blogfest entries and other writings on her blog.
Her debut novel, Oracle, is scheduled to be released by J. Taylor Publishing August 1, 2012.
J.C. was kind enough to interview me for her weekly feature, Writer Wednesday. You can check it out here.
Thank you, J.C.!
#2 – * Snowfest * Blogfest
Hopefully everyone’s recovered from NaNoWriMo and the holidaze…so I think it’s time for a blogfest!
I love blogfests! They’re a fun writing exercise and give me a chance to check out other writers’ works. In fact, my two published short stories, The Monster’s Growl and The Seduction, are both former blogfest entries!
I haven’t hosted a blogfest in quite awhile, so I thought in honor of the New Year I’d do so.
I’m calling it * Snowfest *, because it’s that time of year for some folks (I say this as I look outside at sunny skies and the non-snow covered rolling hills of California). I love the snow, so the theme of this blogfest is… to write a scene in the snow!
Here’s the details:
1) What: Write a scene that takes place in the snow. It can be snowing or not, just as long as snow is part of the setting. And for those of you who like an extra challenge, write a scene in which snow is the main focus of the characters, whether they’re building a snowman or fighting for their lives in a snowstorm.
2) Word count: 1,200 words or so (I can never keep my own entries in any blogfest under 1,000!)
3) Blogfest date: February 2, 2012
BONUS: Watcher Giveaway!
One entry will be selected at random to win a free copy of Watcher: Book I of The Chosen.
So bring out your shovels, I mean pens, and join me in a snowdance to celebrate one of the most beautiful forms of the water that gives life to our planet. And don’t forget the carrot for that snowman.
You can find the list of participants here. And if you want to spread the word, just copy the blogfest banner!
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.
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!
Most writers write because they have stories in them yearning to get out – stories to be expressed, and shared, and maybe even loved.
Inspiration is an important fuel for the fires of writing.
Sometimes the inspiration comes in the form of a dream or in a sudden flash sparked by an image or a song. Other times it arrives in the words of another writer.
Several writers have written words lately that inspire me to write and keep writing. These are not words from a story. They are words of experience and encouragement, words explaining that my fears related to writing and publishing are normal, and that all writers have to move past their fears if they want to make a living on what they write.
Dean Wesley Smith has 30 years in the industry as a writer, editor, and publisher, and is someone whose words I follow. I may not always do exactly what he says when he says it, but once the words have sunk in, I find his advice fits the path I’m on perfectly.
They give readers a chance to speak with their favorite authors, and maybe even get a personalized autograph on their favorite book.
They give authors a chance to interact with fans of their books, to see first-hand the gleam that comes into a reader’s eyes when they talk about a story the author has written and what they loved about it, and hear their excitement while they ask when the next one’s going to be available.
Last weekend was my first official signing for Watcher, and it was fantastic. The event was held in Burbank at Dark Delicacies, an awesome shop that carries books, gifts, and collectibles for lovers of dark fantasy and horror.
Everyone was very warm and friendly, and I enjoyed meeting and talking with the other authors.
I was both surprised and humbled by the support I received from friends and family, and friends of family. A steady stream of folks visited with me while I signed their books, and I stayed busy until the event was over.
Dark Delicacies sold all of the Watcher copies they’d requested, plus two more that I brought! Store owners Del and Sue Howison seemed pleased with my turnout, and asked me to come back for the release of my next book. Very cool. I have tremendous respect for them and what they do to support authors and other media professionals in the dark fantasy and horror genre, and I’m thrilled to have participated in one of their events.
Afterwards, a group of us met at Porto’s Cuban Bakery (a Burbank icon) to celebrate with unbelievably delicious pastries and foamy coffee-flavored drinks.
All-in-all, the day was a great success.
And tomorrow, I’m attending another signing event!
The First Annual FSFW Bookfest, sponsored by the Fresno SciFi & Fantasy Writers, is being held at Clovis Book Barn in, well, Clovis.
Clovis Book Barn opened their new store in August. They have 8,000 square feet and two levels filled with both new and used books. The central part of the store is open to the ceiling, and the second level lines the four walls like a wrap-around balcony. A staircase up the middle provides access to the rows of tall bookcases on the upper floor (it reminds me of a library ).
The warm and welcoming atmosphere in this store is a sharp contrast to the corporate-sterile environment of Barnes & Noble, our lone remaining book boxstore. Most of the books Clovis Book Barn carries are used, and in some cases, hard to find.
Saturday’s Bookfest, being held from 1:00 – 3:00pm, will showcase FSFW members and their works. Signings, readings, and giveaways are part of the festivities, as well as discussions on everything books.
If you live in the area, please join us to celebrate the efforts of local authors and support this great independent bookstore.
And if not, visit Clovis Book Barn online to check out their amazing inventory. They just might have that book you’ve been looking for.
A couple of days ago, I was bemoaning all of the PR work I find myself continually doing.
And then the results started rolling in.
1) Today I’m featured on a blog!
I recently participated in a blogfest with a Native American theme. An excerpt from my novella, The Last Trace, tied for first place with an entry by Kevin Lazarus.
The blogfest was hosted by the lovely Amy Jarecki. She’s the author of the just-released novel Koicto, a historical fantasy centered around a young Native American struggling to save his tribe from extinction. It looks awesome (I just received a copy and am starting it next week) and it has the most gorgeous cover. Check it out:
Anyhow, for being a winner in her blogfest, Amy interviewed me on her blog. So if you want to find out some juicy stuff you can use against me later, go check it out!
2)Open Mic Night Readings
The FSFW Open Mic Night is alive and kicking. Rob Lopez, FSFW member, has arranged with Clovis Book Barn to host our event. I, along with other FSFWers, will be doing readings this Friday, December 9, from 6:30 – 8:00pm. If you live in the area, please join us!
3)Book Signing at Dark Delicacies
Yeah, you read that right. This Sunday December 11, I’m joining five other authors to do signings at the famed Dark Delicacies in Burbank. Dark Delicacies not only specializes in books, gifts, and collectibles in the dark fantasy and horror genres, they also regularly host big-name authors and members of the film industry. I’m super jazzed to be signing alongside Gabrielle Faust, V.M.K. Fewing, Rebekah Weatherspoon, P.S. Gifford, and Colette Freedman.
4) Book Signing at Clovis Book Barn
Saturday, December 17 at 1:00pm, I’ll be joining other FSFW writers at the Clovis Book Barn in celebration of our First Annual Bookfest. We’re doing all sorts of stuff to celebrate books – signings, readings, raffles, etc. If you live in the area, come join us in the fun and maybe even win a signed book or two by the FSFW writers.
~ ~ ~
Well, that’s it for now – I’m worn out from just typing all of this!
So go check out my interview on Amy’s blog. There will be a test on Monday
My friend, Amy Jarecki (we met at Dave Farland’s workshop!), is running a blogfest in celebration of the release of her new novel, Koicto. The theme of the blogfest is Native American.
I just happen to be working on a novella set within The Chosen world titled The Last Trace. This story introduces readers to the half-Cree Taz, a key character from Runner: Book II of The Chosen.
In honor of Amy’s blogfest and the release of Koicto, here’s a short excerpt:
Trace Pierre Tasman stopped and knelt in the middle of the narrow trail. Even in the fading light of dusk, the deer’s track stood out in sharp contrast to the blurry, older prints scattered along the tree-lined path. He fingered the track’s sharp edges, noting the damp soil in the deepest part of the print.
He slowly stood, nocked an arrow, and drew back the bowstring. His moccasined feet stepped carefully, quietly.
A twig snapped up ahead and Trace stopped, becoming as still as the boulder next to the path. He took a deep breath and stretched the bowstring a little tighter and waited. A six-point buck walked out of the trees and stood at the edge of the trail not thirty feet ahead. Trace released the arrow along with his breath, and the feathered shaft hissed through the air to sink into the deer’s side just behind the shoulder.
The deer coughed and leapt forward, then bounded up the trail. Trace hung back, watching the white flag of the animal’s tail until it disappeared over a small rise. He broke into a quiet jog, slowing as he topped the hill. The buck was down, about sixty feet ahead. The arrow shuddered in rhythm with his shallow breaths.
Trace padded up to the deer. As the animal tried to lift his antlered head, Trace pulled his knife from its buckskin sheath, knelt, and slit the tawny throat.
He whispered a prayer of thanks in his mother’s Cree tongue, keeping his hand on the animal as it died.
With a glance at the darkening sky, Trace stood and tied back his long black hair. He shoved his buckskin shirtsleeves up along his forearms, bent to the fallen deer, and picked up his knife. Within minutes, he’d gutted and cleaned the carcass. He stood and wiped off his blade with a handful of dried grasses, then looked up.
A white woman stood a little ways from him up the trail. He noted her ragged skirts, threadbare overcoat, and matted ash-blond hair. But most of all he noted her blue eyes staring at him with the predatory focus of a mountain lion.
As red flashed within their depths, alarm rippled through his gut.
Machaya, he thought. Demon.
Trace fought the panic rising in his throat and tightened his grip on the knife.
The woman moved. Fast.
When she hit him, it was as though he’d been kicked by a mule. He flew backwards, then slammed into the ground beneath her weight, his breath exploding from his chest. His head slammed as well, and as he fought to keep from blacking out, he felt her grab his hair and yank his head to the side.
Her teeth tore into his throat and he screamed.
Trace could feel the life being drained from him, being sucked from him. His muscles no longer responding, he slowly succumbed to soul-stealing pain and a darkness blacker than the surrounding night.
One of the events in which I’d hoped to participate was an Author Reading, but the half-hour reading slots were filled by the time I found out about it. However, once the con started, there were a number of cancellations, so I was able to pick up a spot. Since I hadn’t planned on doing a reading, I needed to spend time figuring out what passages to read and practicing to be sure they fit within the allotted 30 minutes.
Which meant I missed most of the morning sessions.
The panel was awesome. I laughed as former college buddies, Jeter, Blaylock, and Powers recounted the escapades of their younger years and how they carved their own paths outside of the literary norm. They were a kick.
Founders of Steampunk panel at 2011 World Fantasy Convention
That evening I sat in on a reading by Connie Willis (her session immediately preceded mine). She read from a light-hearted sci-fi piece about a dysfunctional family – it was pretty funny. The room was full, and as her session ended and attendees filed out, I wondered if I was going to be reading to an empty room.
I was prepared for that because I was a late addition. Besides, who knows me anyway, right?
But to my surprise, two women stayed and were soon joined by a third. We chatted for a moment, and I asked them why they were at my session, since I’m an unknown. They said that’s precisely why they were there, and they liked listening to new authors they hadn’t heard of.
I was pleased that they chose my session to sit in on, and I think they enjoyed the excerpts I read from Watcher. They all thanked me, and I thanked them for making sure I didn’t have to read to an empty room!
After the dinner break, I hung out for a little while with Stephanie and Elena, then headed to the art show reception which ran from 8:00pm – 10:00pm. There were poetry readings and more panel sessions that lasted until 11:00pm, and by then the half-dozen or so parties were in full swing.
Publishers use conventions like WFC to host launch parties for their authors, and it was interesting to circulate through the different suites to catch a little bit of everyone’s excitement.
I finally headed to bed around 2:00am (again).
Sunday – Day 4
I didn’t attend any of the Sunday morning panels, preferring to sleep in and get my stuff packed up and out of the room (my checkout was noon).
View from my balcony on the tenth floor
The awards banquet started at 1:00pm, and as I wandered around the room looking for an empty seat, I stopped by the Ace/ROC table. I was told half of the table was open to anyone, and as I debated on taking a chair, I spotted the name tag of one of the folks sitting there smiling at me.
OMG. She only wrote my favorite fantasy series, The Riddle-Master Trilogy, starring one of my all-time favorite characters named Morgon.
I sat down.
Of course, I had to tell her this and she smiled and nodded her head. I felt very fangirl (though not for the first time at this con!). Her husband, poet David Lunde, sat between us and smiled as we talked – what a doll, and so supportive of her.
Afterwards, they graciously consented to have their picture taken with me.
Patricia and John McKillip
As I was leaving the banquet, I ran into Nancy Holder again and we chatted a bit. She’s so cool!
I recently attended the World Fantasy Convention in San Diego (Oct 27 – 39) and thought I’d share a few of my experiences with you. First of all, I learned the difference between business-oriented conferences (8:00am to 5:00pm) and network-oriented conventions (10:00am to 2:00am+).
Yeah. I prefer conventions – those are my kinda hours! And the parties…
I also met up with fellow writers and bloggers Stephanie Loree and Elena Sodolow. We ran around the con together off and on, attending some of the same sessions and parties. It was nice to have someone to hang out with.
Anyhow, here’s what my first couple of days at WFC entailed:
Thursday – Day 1
WFC didn’t officially start until 3:00pm on Thursday. I attended several evening sessions, including one called, “How to Survive the Coming Zombie War.” One of the panel members was Nancy Holder, an author I recently met at a Yosemite Romance Writers meeting. Nancy is the co-author of Wicked and author of many novels and book projects set in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Saving Grace, Hellboy, and Smallville universes.
As you might guess from the title of the session, the discussion was lively and we all laughed a lot.
Friday – Day 2
One of the more interesting sessions I attended was called, “The Crystal Ceiling.” Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse series (aka ‘True Blood’) and Nancy Kilpatrick, horror writer and editor of multiple dark fantasy anthologies, were part of the panel. The topic addressed the bias that still prevails in publishing toward women in everything from pay to promotion dollars. It was a bit shocking to listen to evidence of this archaic attitude in an industry where value should be placed on the written word and not on the gender/race/beliefs of who writes it.
The highlight of the day (well, one of several, actually) was listening to bestselling author Neil Gaiman read selections from his poetry and short stories. His voice is mesmerizing – in fact, he sounds very similar to British actor Alan Rickman (though not quite as deep-voiced), even down to the cadence with which he speaks. He’s like the rock star of literature. Yeah. Wish I had a tenth of his brilliance.
I missed the later session with Neil and the very funny Connie Willis (hopefully someone taped it). Connie has won multiple Hugo and Nebula awards (in fact, she may possibly have won more awards than any other sci-fi writer). She was the toastmaster for WFC as well, and kept us entertained any time she was on the stage.
A most amazing thing – to me, anyways – happened Friday afternoon. I had planned to meet with Suzy McKee Charnas (author of one of my favorite vampire stories, The Vampire Tapestry) after her scheduled reading, but the reading ended up being cancelled. I wandered into Neil’s reading, and just as I took a seat, I looked down the row and sitting just a few chairs away was Suzy. Now, you have to understand this was a huge hall, filled with several hundred people. The chances I’d sit in the same row just three seats away from the person I’d most hoped to meet were pretty astronomical.
I’d like to think Fate might’ve had a hand in that. Or maybe it was a couple of vampires from the ether-world stepping in to make sure we met. Either way, it was pretty cool!
After Neil’s reading, Suzy graciously spent the next half-hour talking with me. She offered very helpful advice on the industry and writing in general when I asked her, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Writers who’ve spent decades in the publishing trenches are an amazing resource, and she was one of several with whom I was fortunate enough to spend time at this convention.
Friday evening was devoted to the autograph session, a WFC tradition in which everyone can participate – even indie authors like me!
So I unexpectedly had my first book signing event for Watcher! Sure wish I’d known about it in advance…
Fortunately, I’d brought flyers to hand out and a few copies of Watcher with me. I enjoyed talking with the folks who stopped by and did actually sign a few things – flyers, programs, and a copy of my novela fellow insisted on buying (I wasn’t registered as a vendor and wasn’t allowed to sell any books at the signing – but we managed it anyways). It was pretty cool to sit there with my stuff and my little placard with my name on it. I almost felt like a real author!
I shared my autograph table with writers Sherwood Smith and Diana L. Paxson. Diana’s known for her Westria series and for her collaborations with Marion Zimmer Bradley in the Avalon series and it was awesome to spend time chatting with her.
Sherwood Smith and Diana L. Paxson
At one point I managed to slip away a few times to gather autographs and have pictures taken with a few of my favorite authors in attendance: Suzy McKee Charnas, Steven Erikson, and Neil Gaiman – no pic w/ Neil, though .
Suzy McKee Charnas
Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont
When I found Tim Powers at his signing table, I told him that his novel The Stress of Her Regard was one of my favorite vampire stories and that I write vampires as well. We had a few very silly moments when he insisted on getting MY autograph. I, of course, completely blanked out and couldn’t think of what to say when he requested I personalize my autograph, and he kept teasing me which made it only worse. I had trouble keeping a straight face while his wife took our photo together.
It was one of several memorable experiences I had at WFC, and I still chuckle when I think about how my mind went blank when he said, “Now, don’t just write ‘best wishes!’
The day ended with several parties that went into the wee hours of the night. I finally crawled into bed around 2:00am.
An author I recently discovered (and have no idea how I’ve missed his work) is Tim Powers.
For those who aren’t familiar with his name, he’s known for an award-winning novel called The Anubis Gates. Oh, and a little story adapted as a film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise by the name of On Stranger Tides.
I’ve only read one of Tim’s books so far, an older one titled, The Stress of Her Regard. It’s a paranormal twist on the lives of the great Romantic poets, Byron, Shelley, and Keats. I’m constantly on the lookout for vampire stories in which the vampires are a little different than the standard Dracula model, and this novel really fits the bill.
In my pursuit to learn more about this writer of secret/alternative histories, I discovered a project of his on Kickstarter titled “Last Call,” which is also the name of another of his award-winning books. The goal for their fundraiser is to raise enough money to film a scene from the book to be used for pitching to Hollywood (my son in the industry calls this a ‘tone piece.’)
Now this is a very cool project, and in fact, since I’ve become aware of it, they’ve raised over half of the amount needed to make the short film.
Kickstarter is an innovative fundraising tool oriented toward artist of all types. This is how it works:
The artist develops a proposal to raise funds for a project and pitches it on Kickstarter. The artist sets a dollar goal that must be met by a specific date. Donors pledge varying amounts and receive a variety of perks in return.
If the dollar goal is met, the donors’ credit cards are charged their pledge amounts. If the dollar goal is not met by the declared date, no one is charged a dime and the artist goes home.
In fact, it’s such a cool concept I think I might try it. My son, his business partner, and I are putting together a proposal to raise money for a book trailer for Watcher. I’ll keep you posted.
Writer L. M. May blogged last week about several Kickstarter success stories. Maybe I can be one of them.
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?
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.