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Monday, December 26, 2011

Aftermath

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everyone? Did you survive the weekend of family, food, presents and fun? Well, I didn't.

I'm sick. What follows shall be my Last Will and Testament...

Okay, perhaps that's a bit far fetched. I'm not great, but I'm not dying, either. My problem, along with many others, is that I suffer from allergies. I take my shot and attempt to stay away from smoke, perfume, candles, etc. I had been doing so well; however, it finally hit me. The last week before Christmas was so busy that I'm guessing that I was in a weakened state and an easy target.

In any event, I neglected to schedule a post before Monday morning. That is why this one is coming so late. With that in mind, and the fact that so many have yet to get back into the swing of things - I'm guessing - I'm just going to drop in to say hello and drop back out. My couch is calling my name, as is the mountain of dvd's that Santa brought me. I would much rather take this first day off of my two week vacation to catch up with all of your blogs, but I know myself, and the last thing that I want to do is be sick for the entire two weeks. Therefore, I plan to take these first couple of days easy...

So, if you have been by recently, what follows will be old news, and I'll just see you next week. If you have not been by in a while then perhaps you might like to view the vlog post that I did last week. It's short, and shows me feeling good and unsuspecting what might happen in a week's time.

I also did a guest post over at Layers of Thought for my new best friend Shellie Nunn. ;) In it, I discussed "dreams" and the 20 years that it took for my novel to see the light of day. If you know that story already, and chances are that you do, we're also doing a giveaway which has another week. I'm giving away some e-books and one autographed softcover. I hope you'll come by and check it out.

Anyway, you guys, thanks for stopping by. I'm going to go now.

If I survive, we'll talk soon.

*grins*

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Vlog

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Since it is the holiday season and all of us are either super busy, or perhaps checking off of the 'net for the remainder of the year, I thought that I would do another vlog post. It's only about three minutes long and hopefully will amuse you.



We'll talk soon.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Dance on Fire Chronicles

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How have you been? Are the holidays treating you well? I hope so. They can be a trying time, can't they? I wish you all the very best: good health, someone to love and to be surrounded by family and good friends.

I just discovered that I had had a few more positive reviews to add to my collection while I wasn't looking. That's always...wonderful. So, while I await the edits on the sequel to my crossover vampire novel, I thought that I would share them with you, along with the synopsis for each book in what we might be calling The Dance on Fire Chronicles. I don't know about that yet; not sure I like it or not. If you've got something better, I would love to hear it. Seriously. Let's make this place as interactive as we can, huh?

"There are some elaborate reviews (on the Smashwords site), so I don't think I need to add my own. Instead, I'll just say that this is my favorite Vamplit Publishing novel. Read it! You will love the characters, especially the vampires, and the storyline is more than enjoyable." Author Wendy Howard.

The following is the synopsis for my debut, "Dance on Fire":

Each May, the Central California town of Kingsburg celebrates its Swedish heritage with the annual Swedish Festival: a weekend event where the town puts on its traditional dress, culminating with a dance around a Maypole on Friday, and a Swedish pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. The town with a population of over 11,000 residents draws thousands more to the event. This year, two uninvited guests also converged upon the unsuspecting town.

Nathaniel is a vampire. He wandered into town, bothering no one; feeding upon stray cats and other vermin, wanting nothing more than to have a place to rest his head. Vincent is a second vampire, and the one responsible for "making" Nathaniel. He has been searching for his long lost “son” for well over two centuries. Vincent’s goal is to take Nathaniel home or kill him. Nathaniel has often wished for death, wondering why God ever allowed this punishment: to walk the earth undead and unable to be redeemed. Does God remember the little boy from Romania who watched his parents die, was raised by the murdering vampire, only to become one himself? What does God think of Nathaniel and could there yet be redemption for one outside of heaven?

Ten days before the start of the Swedish Festival the most tumultuous week in the history of Kingsburg has begun with two vampires leaving death and destruction in their wake. Kingsburg Police Detectives Mark Jackson and Michael Lopez, Barbara and the entire Lopez family find themselves drawn into something that threatens to destroy them all or leave them scarred forever.

In a marriage of the classic horror story and the Christian themes of good conquering evil and redemption, "Dance on Fire" is the account of characters being drawn into the fire and the supernatural forces around them watching as they burn.

"I didn't like this novel at first because it started out like a choppy crime novel - you know where you get a piece of the story for each character and it goes back and forth with short paragraphs. Eventually the writing became elegant, especially when the flashbacks and vampire details were included. I enjoyed that quite a bit. I thought it was a strange combination though. It took a while to get into it, but I did end up liking it in the end." Julie from Goodreads.

Now, you might wonder why I posted Julie's review. It's because I liked it. She didn't jump up and down, shouting from rooftops that she had just read the most brilliant book ever; however, she didn't hate it, either. I choose to latch on to the parts where she wrote that the writing was "elegant" and the fact that she "liked it". She gave the story a chance, which is all that one can ask. The fact that she liked it when it was over is a win in my book. I hope many more will give it a chance as well.

The following is from the forthcoming sequel, tentatively titled, "Dance on Fire: Flash Point":

Five years after the death of their only child Tiffany, Steve and Angie Rosen receive an unexpected guest to their Morro Bay, California home: their daughter. She comes with a tale of having suffered a terrible head wound in the fire that took their Kingsburg home, causing her loss of memory and migraine headaches that she must hide from daylight in order to prevent.Tiffany's reemergence is treated like Manna from God. However, her story is only half true. Tiffany is a vampire and no longer the daughter that the Rosen's missed so much. She sleeps during the day and hunts for human blood during the night, and she has come back not to be reunited with her parents. She has come back to enact a twisted revenge upon the town of Kingsburg and those who ruined the plans of her master, the notorious vampire, Vincent. And she is not alone.    


Five years after the terrible events that reshaped the Swedish Village, Kingsburg lies unsuspecting as five vampires descend upon her with a great evil in their black hearts. 


Five years after old wounds have finally healed and the old fires were thought extinguished, Police Chief Michael Lopez and Officer Mark Jackson and their families find themselves surrounded when fires blaze anew. The good vampire, Nathaniel, has pledged his service to these people, but he is no longer among them. He lives high in the Oregon mountains near the California border, seeking whether God might have a place in His kingdom yet for him. 


When Nathaniel discovers that Tiffany has returned, will he be too late to stop her? And will his desire to protect his friends destroy what God has begun in him?
    
It will all begin with a "Flash point".


Vamplit Publishing is hoping to bring this second chapter of my story to you in early 2012. When it does, you will be the first... Okay, I'll be the first, but then you guys. *grins*

We'll talk soon.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Historian



Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everybody? It's a busy time, I know. On top of everything else that we always have going on, we now have the holidays fast approaching. If nothing else, I wish you all good health and safety for you and yours during this crazy-busy time.

Guesting:

Does everyone know author Red Tash? I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance during the Halloween Coffinhop this past October. Since then, I have grown to consider her a good buddy of mine. Now that I have completed reading the book above, I look forward to reading Tash's novel, This Brilliant Darkness. Before I get to today's review, however, I wanted to let you know that Red invited me over to her blog for a guest post. Noticing that my debut novel was a crossover, bridging both horror and Christan themes, Red encouraged me to discuss how the two concepts could mesh together. If you have the time, I encourage you to surf over and show her some love.

The Review:

I just completed reading Author Elizabeth Kostova's epic novel, The Historian. I realize that I am behind the trend on this, since the novel debuted in 2005; however, if you have yet to hear about this ground-breaking novel, I would like to invite you to join us as we search for Vlad the Impaler. Not the historical long-dead Vlad, mind you, but the very much alive Vlad Dracula.

Here's the description according to Amazon.com: "To you, perceptive reader, I bequeath my history....Late one night, exploring her father's library, a young woman finds an ancient book and a cache of yellowing letters. The letters are all addressed to 'My dear and unfortunate successor,' and they plunge her into a world she never dreamed of-a labyrinth where the secrets of her father's past and her mother's mysterious fate connect to an inconceivable evil hidden in the depths of history.The letters provide links to one of the darkest powers that humanity has ever known-and to a centuries-long quest to find the source of that darkness and wipe it out. It is a quest for the truth about Vlad the Impaler, the medieval ruler whose barbarous reign formed the basis of the legend of Dracula. Generations of historians have risked their reputations, their sanity, and even their lives to learn the truth about Vlad the Impaler and Dracula. Now one young woman must decide whether to take up this quest herself-to follow her father in a hunt that nearly brought him to ruin years ago, when he was a vibrant young scholar and her mother was still alive. What does the legend of Vlad the Impaler have to do with the modern world? Is it possible that the Dracula of myth truly existed-and that he has lived on, century after century, pursuing his own unknowable ends?"

I may have done a lot of whining these past few weeks about the length of this novel, but I assure you that it was only because of my lack of time to read, and had absolutely nothing to do with this marvelous story.

The Historian takes its readers on an amazing journey for both the historical and real-life Vlad Dracula in the most charming and imaginative way: the letters and actions of three generations of Dracula hunters. These hunters are not armed with advanced weapons, nor are they muscle-bound or skilled in any way for this job. Instead, they are armed with little more than their wits, carefully evaluating and analyzing the clues of history, surrounded by dangers of every sort and passionate about ending Dracula's reign of terror.

Some might suggest that the novel is too long, but anything less would have been the cheater's way out, spoon-feeding the reader the necessary clues, and racing us through not only history, but country after amazing country.

What we have here is a wondrous adventure that is thrilling, suspenseful and, at times, very dark. Although she writes frequent moments of great horror, Kostova navigates these waters with a masterful touch that leaves us not with a simple horror tale, but a historical novel that delivers all of the goods; including humor, romance and heartbreak - perhaps in a way not seen before. Often, she would take her "camera" off of the impending violence or intimate moment. In the hands of a lesser artist, it might have come across as a poor job. I remember moving on to the next chapter in those instances, thinking to myself that what I had just read was done perfectly. I recall one moment very clearly. A character held a dagger directly over the heart of a new vampire that had once been his friend. He did the deed, but we never saw it happen. It wasn't because Kostova left the scene too soon. Instead, she held the moment for us as if it were a fine wine meant to be savored, while she described so much history that came together in one instant, leaving us more than satisfied.

Whether you believe the title of the book refers to the task Dracula sets up for some of his victims; the three generations of flawed but beautifully created characters that cast aside everything in their pursuit of the fabled monster; or Kostova herself who does a superb job of juggling adventure, intrigue and centuries of human history - The Historian does not disappoint.

Just remember to take your time. It's meant to be savored.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, November 28, 2011

The End of November

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.

As I pen this note to you, I am enjoying the first of four fabulous days off. We had a good Thanksgiving Day as we visited my family for early dinner and followed that up with dessert over at my sister in law's house for my wife's family. Dallas didn't ruin my day, but did slow my digestion with that lucky win. *sigh*

Friday will be spent decorating the house for Christmas. I'll get up early and hit the lap top until my family awakens. Once I've cleared my virtual desk a bit and enjoyed some coffee, I will begin. My oldest is a senior in high school, so this could very well be the last time that he is home to assist. Check off another milestone, right?


On the reading front, my TBR pile has recently grown exponentially, thanks to the Halloween Coffinhop and a bunch or sweet people who have given me copies of their hard work. I'm looking forward to seeing what these great people bring to the literary table. I still only have time to read a little at work and then again before bed. Unfortunately, I started reading Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian. I really like it so far, but didn't realize it was so long. *sigh* Thankfully, I'll have time off during Christmas. This should enable me to get some of the pile reduced. I'll definitely review anything that I like. If I find something that I don't care for, I may just scurry away quietly. If you want to see what I plan to read thereafter, find me over at Goodreads and say hello.


As far as writing is concerned, I am in good shape. I have no writing deadlines at the moment, having just completed two magazine articles recently. Although I am still awaiting the return of my edits for the sequel to Dance on Fire, I have begun outlining a new project that I am very excited about. I won't say much about it so soon, but will say that it is definitely horror and nothing to do with vampires this time. The vampires will return, of course. There's at least one more book in me on that subject (not counting the one enduring edits at the moment).


Lastly, I'd like to say that I am so impressed with everyone who competed in the race that was National Novel Writing Month. I stand and applaud your efforts. *literally stands and applauds* Congratulations. Whether you finished your project or just nearly finished it, it took a lot of commitment - more than I could have given.

I'm glad that NaNo is over for another reason, too. I miss you guys. Can you come out and play now?

Please?

*grins* We'll talk soon.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Help Wanted: A (Sexy) Assistant

Greetings and Salutations, Fire Enthusiasts.
How is everyone? Unless we bump into each other on Facebook or Twitter, I don’t get that opportunity to ask. J So, how are you? I ask because I also want to remind myself that these pages shouldn’t be about the incredible blossoming career of the big-shot writer from the little town in Central California – although that would be totally frigging awesome!!


Okay, enough of that.



Help Wanted: An Assistant:


He or she must be media-savvy and fluent with all devices, gizmos and programs. The job pays very little, but the promise of future earnings is potentially very high. The good news is there is no office to report to and one can work from the convenience of their own laptop and/or device. She? Who am I kidding? The applicant must be male, because working with any attractive female would simply be too distracting and the author must be busy writing at all times. Sorry, my female friends. You are all far too attractive and distracting and, um,…

See, I already forgot what we were talking about.



I know all of you are in the very same boat as me. All we wanted to do was write our stories, right? However, it soon became at least one blog that we needed to maintain, followed by a place to promote (Facebook, Twitter, Google +, etc.). From there, new friends began to invite you to other places. For me it was Horror groups and Horror Social Media destinations. If you are a reader or simply want to find the readers in order to market your book, then you’ve been to Goodreads, Shelfari or some other reader-friendly sites.


Of course, many, if not all of us, are now trying to figure out how in the world we’re supposed to maintain our writing and reading schedules with so much time now needed to devote to promotion. In fact, I spotted at least two posts this past weekend questioning that very thing.


I’d love to hear from you this week on this subject. How much time do you devote to promotion? What have you realized needs to be your priorities? Where do you draw the line?

Another question beckons: If we spend less time promoting ourselves on social networks, what about promoting our friends and neighbors?


Thankfully, many sites do a pretty good job of automatically pasting your posts on other sites. Many of you are better at this than I am. Unless a site, post or Network automatically prompts me, I may not know how to get it to post for me. That’s why I say that I’m still learning some of this stuff. If we can program and schedule these things more efficiently, then that gives us more time during the week to promote the works of others.


For me, I am in a constant state of re-evaluation. Every few months or so, I see what works and what doesn’t, and I tweak what I do. While I have a break at work, that’s when I manage my #WW and #FF on Twitter, as well as participate in the Novel Publicity Karmic Friday Chain on Facebook. Everything else I do at home. Unfortunately, for Twitter, if I haven’t conversed with someone in a while, the FollowFriday App. doesn’t pick them up anymore. I try and catch some of these folks during the week (when I see there activity) and toss them a random greeting. For blogs, I try and follow by e-mail notification, where possible. This way I leave their note in my Inbox so I can get back to it that week. I used to go down the blog list, but I rarely get time for that. It’s hard enough finding time to visit the blogs during the week as it is!! And blog hops? Those are great, but you are definitely going to spend your week visiting only those participating in the hop. Have you noticed? In order to share the love, I try and take time off between hops.


Before this post becomes book number three, I’m going to walk away; however, I really would like to hear how you good people manage your time on this subject. Perhaps we’ll help each other. By the way, after every sexy applicant was disqualified, here's who I ended up with. I can see he's going to be a lot of help.



We’ll talk soon.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Life Not Worth Living


Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.


My run of discovering fresh new up and coming authors continued this past week as I completed the most amazing novel by Phillip Tucker. As you can see it is entitled Crude Sunlight.

The Plot:


Thomas has come to Buffalo, New York in order to clean out his brother’s apartment. Henry went missing, and everyone has long-since given up hope of his returning. There are strange photographs left that reveal an odd thrill-seeking activity that Henry and others were engaging in: trespassing old abandoned buildings. Videotapes taken during these excursions reveal not only the odd activity, but something else. Something horrible.

Thomas soon meets the other principles: Julia and Eric; and one way or another, they have all been touched in a very negative way by whatever it was that happened during a visit to the old abandoned State Mental Hospital. Thomas discovers that Henry never came out alive, although, during his own visit below the hospital, something of Henry indeed remains. And it’s coming for Julia.

The original four trespassers: Julia, Henry, Eric, Jimmy, as well as Buck (a friend of Thomas), Michelle (the estranged wife) and even Thomas himself are all flawed and scarred characters that seemingly will gladly give up their worthless and meaningless lives as not worth living once they have been properly poked and prodded by the devouring darkness.

My thoughts:


Using gripping and oftentimes elegant prose, Tucker tells a most imaginative ghost story that spans several generations, claiming one victim after another, as each willingly hands over their lives to the ghoul before. No one is spared, and even Thomas finds himself perilously close to succumbing as well, as he attempts to make things right with a brother he hardly knew, at the expense of a wife that will not wait forever for him to decide just what it is that he wants out of life.

Although I currently write vampire fiction, it is the promise of a great haunted house story which calls out to me. Some of my greatest disappointments have come from the much-promised ghost story which kept me enthralled for 75% of the adventure, only to leave wanting as it failed to deliver the goods. Crude Sunlight did not fail to deliver the goods. It didn’t end the way I had hoped, and it may not end the way you would think it should, but man does it end.

Being a do-it-yourself debut author, Tucker informs me that he is going back in to clean up a few things in the novel. I noticed them, too, but they were not enough to distract me as I barnstormed my way through.


Taking his readers from the slums of early New York to modern day, and to the very pit of hell, Tucker weaves a tale that pulls no punches and lands each and every one. And when he is done, we are not left with a book that we can simply close and add to our bookshelf, but one which continues to haunt, asking the reader not only what just happened, but also how closely we might mirror the victims and survivors of the incredible debut novel from author Phil Tucker that is Crude Sunlight.


Author Phil Tucker can be found on Facebook and his fantastic debut can be found on Amazon.


Another Author Event:


Before I go, I would like to share with you a photo from my most recent author event which took place this past Thursday. Myself and authors Lorie Ham and Marilyn Meredith met at the Sanger, California Library. We shared a bit about ourselves and read excerpts from our novels. I sold a couple of copies which is always great and people showed which was a plus. *laughs* Sadly, I neglected to bring my camera, but I'm grateful that my wife's niece was there to snap this one. Thanks, Lee.



We'll talk soon.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Trying to Read Again

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I have come before you this week to discuss books. Yes, I know. We're always discussing books. In fact, it's why we're all here, isn't it? The issue for me, you see, is I have very little time for it.

Those who have known me for a while know that I have an 11 hour day job which gets me out of bed at 3 am. After work, it's all about house, family and whatever current laptop work I might have. I endeavor to get to bed before 8 pm, hoping to both catch up on reading as well as tire myself out. Unfortunately, what usually happens is I end up staying on the laptop much longer than I should, thus erasing my reading time.

Over the course of my year, I go through spurts where I read a lot, and enjoy the heck out of it, discovering new authors, new voices and new ways of writing. It really is very important, and I certainly have taken note of some of the greats and how they adore other writers and their work.

So lately, I have gotten back into the groove of reading. Today, I come to you with a couple of new voices that I have enjoyed recently. The first is my buddy, Lorelei Bell. Her and I did a book exchange. If you read about my recent vacation, the one thing I left out is the fact that I took my Kindle along on the journey, and read Vampire Ascending.   



First, let's allow the author herself explain the set up: "Sabrina Strong is a Touch Clairvoyant who needs a job after her father dies. Bjorn Tremayne of Tremayne Towers in Chicago has hired her to find out who murdered his life-time mate, Letitia.

Sabrina is not thrilled about the aspect of working for vampires in Chicago, but she needs the money, and she also wants to find the gorgeous and mysterious vampire who has been turning up in her dreams. Is he the one who bit her when she was ten, marked her for his own, and turned her mother so long ago?

Little does Sabrina know that her whole life is about to change as her best friend's fate intensifies the desperate need to find the murderer and, consequently, brings her into contact with a rogue vampire, Vasyl."

Okay, that's really only a bit of a tease, because the novel is really much bigger and ambitious, and it needs to be, if we are to follow the series. Before we begin, I must tell you that I am an old-school vampire fan. Pushing the envelope a bit is okay, but go too far, and I'm out of here. You can probably guess that I have gone nowhere near Ms. Meyers' vampires. I mean no disrespect to her or all of those who adore her work. It's just not my particular cup of Long Island Ice Tea. Another thing I really do not do is read fantasy. When it's great, it's Tolkien. When it's not... Let's just say that I grew up with Horror and leave it at that. Having said all of that, when Bell began revealing her werewolves, elves and shape-shifters in her tale, I began to get worried. However, let me tell you, it worked. Bell makes no apologies for her characters or plot; she simply told her story, and did so very well. In a less-skilled writer's hands it could have been silly. With Bell at the helm of this tale, it was more a case of: Seriously, guys, this is how it happened. By the end, I had bought in and was ready for the next installment.

In fact, being a writer of vampires myself, there was more than one occasion where I asked myself why I had not thought of a particular bit of action, character trait or plot device that Bell was using with great success.

If you like your skies overcast, the sound of chainsaws at work, your music well past heavy metal and your films filled with gore, then this may not be your book. On the other hand, if you like your paranormal in the PG-13 vein and to be trailblazingly different; a strong yet flawed female lead character; a complicated supporting cast of villains, heroes and antiheroes; a good helping of romance; and a twisting suspenseful plot that will keep you turning pages, then I may have just the book for you.

Lorelei Bell is extremely talented and you can find her at Lorelei's Muse.




Before I go, I really want to tell you about another buddy of mine. This guy has been great. When I least expect it, I'll notice that he has retweeted some bit of promo of mine. He also seems to be one of the most positive guys that I have met out there on the web. In any event, I would like to introduce you to Mark Souza. I had the opportunity to read one of his short stories recently, and I'd like to share it with you.

Once again, we'll let the author tell it: "Sean has popped the question and dreads the drive across the bleak Kansas landscape on Valentine's Day to announce his intentions to his fiancee Janet's parents. When he sees a sign for a corn maze, he pulls in for a momentary reprieve. Little does he know what a mistake he's made."

This is a story that one can read very quickly because it is short and gripping. This was the first of Souza's work that I had ever read, and I was hooked by his tight, believable prose right away. The "signposts" within his story were perfect. He didn't give too much away, but just enough to make one pause momentarily, knowingly. We didn't know what was coming. We only knew that we had to find out what it was. I will definitely be back for more and will never, ever stop the car on any long stretch of road. Ever.

If you would like to see for yourself what happens when you do stop the car on such a road, the story is free on Smashwords. You can also find the author at his website here.

I'm currently reading something else at the moment that is quite good, but I shall keep it to myself for the time being. How do you folks find time to read amongst all of the writing and promotion while the dishes and laundry pile up around you? Is daily reading as important as daily writing? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Why I Seemed to Disappear from the Earth

My brother and his bride
Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts.

Coffin Hop: I want to thank everyone for participating in the First Annual Coffin Hop this past week. It has been a lot of fun visiting nearly 100 sites and trying to win some of the real great stuff that was given away. I hope you all left with arms full of loot. It ends Halloween night, so you still have time.

After the loot is all put away, I look forward to building up those new relationships, and also, reading some of the writing that was promoted during the week. I still don’t read as often as I would like to, but what I have read has really been top notch. I have been so pleased with the quality. Agents and Publishers should really be fired for letting some of your work slip through their fingers!!

Tybee Island beach house


We had some great views, didn't we?

Where did you go? As some of you might have noticed, I appeared to drop off of the face of the earth there for a while. I would like to take a few moments to explain where I was. I accompanied my parents to Georgia for my brother’s wedding. We were gone a week. Part of the time we stayed in their home near Atlanta, and we spent the other part, five hours away near Savannah. We spent a few days in a beach house on Tybee Island which is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean.

James Sr, Eric, Leslie and me
The adventure began as we left on Tuesday the 11th from Fresno, Ca. which is in my back yard, essentially. We flew into Salt Lake City and spent an hour awaiting our next flight to Atlanta. After the week was over, we flew from Atlanta into Dallas/Fort Worth. You should have seen me with my nose pressed against the glass, while I surveyed the ground for Arlington, Texas and the location of God’s football stadium. *grins* Okay, scratch that. We’ll just refer to it as the Jerry Dome. No? Okay, the home of the Dallas Cowboys. In any event, I saw it. How could I not; it’s so large that one could see it from space! We then flew from there back to Fresno, and I was finally home.

We played a round of golf. I took 2nd. Not bad since I hadn't played in forever. It rained on us. Can you tell?
The bummer out of the whole trip was my family was unable to accompany me. Both my kids had school, obviously, and school events, and my wife is a teacher. I never could get comfortable with the Eastern Time Zone. I just kept reaching back to the west with both my heart and mind, waiting to call home or text the kids when they got out of school. And I hated Monday night. If I have to wait until 8:30 to watch the Monday Night Football game, I almost don’t care anymore!! I don’t know how you people do it! *grins*

Now, although I was only gone one week, I had to disengage the week before, in order to get prepared. I had to write and schedule two Monday posts, write a Halloween-themed article for Kings River Life Magazine (it was on black cats). This was on top of getting the house ready, preparing my day job to be left in the hands of others, making arrangements, getting packed, etc., etc. During that week, I did no blogging at all. The only thing that I did was Twitter #WW and #FF. In fact, I barely promoted anything, including my own novel or posts. Then, the week I got back was spent catching up. Once again, I did no blogging.
Why am I telling you all of this? It is because many of us feel compelled to do the same amount of promoting, sharing, encouraging, cheering, posting, Tweeting, reTweeting, etc., but it isn’t always easy or even an option from time to time. We just do what we can. That’s what I did during this period, although I was not happy about it. Thankfully, I am not only back, but all caught up.
Do what you can, my friends. Every little bit helps.

Before I go, I really just want to wish my brother and new sister-in-law the very best. Love you guys!


We’ll talk soon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

1st Annual Coffin Hop


Greetings and salutations, Horror Enthusiasts. Wait! Horror?

Yes, that’s what I said. Since it is the build-up for Halloween, I thought this would be a bit more appropriate than the usual.

First of all, allow me to take a moment to apologize for disappearing off of the face of the planet these past few weeks. Everything was fine. There was nothing to worry about, and I will be explaining it all in another week. In any event, I'm back, and very excited to be participating in the first annual Coffin Hop.

This week we have nearly 100 blog sites, hosting all of your All Hallow's Eve thrills and chills. We've got shorts, book teasers, quizzes, scavenger hunts and so much more. Perhaps most importantly of all, each and every one of the sites is hosting giveaways. I will only be posting Monday, like always, giving everyone plenty of time during the week to visit all of the sites. The hope is that you will feel as if you just got out of Disney's Tower of Terror ride, escaped with your life like George and Kathleen Lutz from 112 Ocean Avenue in The Amityville Horror or are simply the last person standing at the end of any horror film - whatever floats your boat! You should also be walking away with some great stuff, too.

That is, if you actually get away. [Cue Maniacal Laughter]

This week I am sharing a very brief snippet of my debut vampire novel which was published by Vamplit Publishing. The e-book was published in February of 2010. It has been getting very good reviews, both on the web as well as in print, and we're very excited about that. It is currently tied for the highest-rated novel in the horror category in the Smashwords store. I promise you that you will definitely survive the experience.

  

May 4, 2008
11:59 a.m.
          The great beast paused in the dark and sniffed the cool spring air as if welcoming in the fragrant bouquet from a glass of fine wine held below his nostrils. Hands casually held inside the pockets of a brown leather coat, long single strands of his dark hair leaping and dancing in the light breeze, head held slightly elevated, he breathed deeply so as not to miss a single delectable whiff.
After all of these many years, he was close now. Before, he simply had a sense of it; perhaps one might call it a fool’s hope. Now he could smell it, taste it.
He was very close indeed.
The breath within it now spent, devoid of any flavor; the beast released it and stole another.
Cold, penetrating eyes pierced the moonless night as he was on the move again strolling languidly, almost if in a hypnotic trance eastward through the peach orchard. Had he already become intoxicated by the scent? Perhaps not the blood that led him, but what the blood was speaking to him. His eyes swept across his field of vision obscured as it was by the trees’ thick canopies. With each additional step, more of the approaching town was revealed: multi-colored light, the spectrum of sounds, the differing shapes of buildings. Looking was unnecessary, however. At this moment, he was as finely tuned to the world around him as he had ever been before. Ahead where the small town the clues had led him to met the open country, a coyote prowled cautiously, desperately searching for a morsel. To his far left was laughter. Actually, it was more like giggling: the squeals of drunken hyenas, intoxicated with the blood and flesh of their kill. Although in the case of these young men, much too young to drink, it was Budweisers that they were killing. He could actually detect the faint sound of the beer sloshing within the long-neck bottles held in the hands of these who probably thought themselves safely undetected among the rows of the raisin vineyard. This night, at long last, after much searching, longing, nothing could escape the beast’s notice.
He paused yet again, this time kneeling low to the earth that lay below his heavy riding boots. Though quite minimal, the scent of blood was now sweet and heavy in his flaring nostrils and parched throat, awakening a deeper hunger within him, as if that could be possible. The sensation seemed so new to him. It felt so virginal: like that first bumbling attempt at lovemaking; that first night away from home; that first bloodletting.
Yet, it was none of these. It was the sweet taste of revenge. The beast would have to salve that hunger with something else tonight, he knew, and perhaps tomorrow as well, but not for very much longer.
Claw-like fingers dug slowly and confidently at the ground until a tiny leg emerged. It was followed by another, and then a shriveled face. They stopped digging and wrapped themselves around the tiny head, where nails all too similar had recently gripped and snapped away the last of the cats’ life. Without a thought, the beast pulled the corpse from the shallow grave. He did not need to search for the wound that had drained the last of the creature’s life, but he did. He longed to see the wound. How could he not? Was this not what had been driving him, filling his days? And now, he would do nothing but enjoy it to the fullest.
He bent the pathetic little neck back until there was an awful crack. His expression showed little knowledge of the sound of it. When he found the matted place where cold lips such as his had drank, when he could see the bite that had drawn the blood, he brought it quickly to his mouth and blew away the dirt with a sharp blast of dank air. Now he did the unthinkable. He licked the wound, long and slow like a lover would the breast of his beloved. Then the great beast smiled a horrible thin smile as he looked up from it.
            “At last,” he whispered, nonchalantly dropping the dead cat and gazing up toward the small town before him. He spoke as if to the entire population. “Nathaniel,” he declared, gritting his perfect white teeth as he did. “I have you at last. And when I am through with you the insignificant souls of this place shall gladly hand you over to me!”
The vampire immediately headed off into town, setting events into motion.
Kingsburg, California. It is a rural agricultural community in the heart of the San Joaquin valley, the richest agricultural valley in the world, so states the city’s official website. It was incorporated May 11, 1908. It has a population of over 11,000 and lies twenty miles south of Fresno, and nearly halfway between San Francisco and the city of angels.
It is the home of Sun-Maid: the largest and most well-known raisin plant in the world. The gold medal Olympian Rafer Johnson was raised here. The actor Slim Pickens, who rode a nuclear warhead in the film, “Doctor Strangelove”, was born here.
The Swedish Village, the signs read and the police cars and police badges proudly proclaim. The style of the buildings’ architecture, the baby blue and yellow colors of Sweden, as well as the frequent sighting of the traditional dress from one or another of the downtown business owners further testify to this. Signs at various points along the city limits greet strangers with the Swedish Word: Valkommen. It means exactly as it sounds which is “welcome”.
Every third weekend in May thousands of people converge on Kingsburg for the Swedish Festival. It is a time where nearly the entire town puts on its traditional dress and a show for the weekend, with the highlights being a dance around the May Pole on Friday night and a pancake breakfast and parade on Saturday. This year marks the 43rd annual celebration and the town’s centennial anniversary. The festivities were set to begin in ten days.





The Giveaway:
I am offering a few free copies of the e-book, as well as a couple of autographed copies of the softcover.

How to win:
What one needs to do to win one of these is to comment here and tell me that you'd like to be entered. Secondly, post somewhere about the Coffin Hop so that others will find us. Lastly, please leave your e-mail address so I may contact you. YOU ONLY NEED TO PROMO FOR THIS ONE TIME AND HOWEVER YOU CHOOSE.
If you are on on Twitter: promo the main page and include @danceauthor so I will see it.
If you are on Facebook, Google+ or a blog: paste one of our cool posters on your page and tell me about it. I'll find it. You do not need to visit each site along the tour, but we encourage you to visit as much as you can. You won't be sorry.
If you are one of the sites participating this week, you are eligible to win, and do not need to worry about promoting because you are already doing that. Just remind me.

So that's it. Visit some sites, grab some bling and meet some new people. I'm looking forward to joining you...until the end.

We'll talk soon.

  

Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog on Fire Award & Embarrassing Questions



Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. I come before you this week to share with you more embarrassing tales and anecdotes about myself. Well, perhaps not, but that’s what typically happens when I do this.

A couple of weeks ago, my buddy, Kelly Polark, bestowed the Blog on Fire Award to yours truly. Yes, I know. We can take that quite literally on this blog. Now there's lots of fire! Anyway, Kelly's a great lady, and a true rock n’ roll rebel, as Ozzy might suggest. Therefore, I do whatever she tells me to do. Now, when she fulfilled the obligation for this award on her blog, she combined it with another. Since I just recently shared some random things with you good people, I thought I would simply follow Kelly’s lead and do as she did.

So, here goes:

1) Do you think you are hot?

A) Wow! Picture me staring back at you silently, my eyes blinking twice as in a cartoon. Truthfully, I was a late-bloomer. I was a skinny, jeans, rock n roll t-shirt kind of guy. I didn’t date in school until the end of my high school career. I’m comfortable with my looks now, but never really thought much about them and still don’t. I’m more of a personality guy. I’m the guy with the good attitude who will keep you laughing. I’m 42 now. The only women who think I’m hot is the above 50 crowd amongst my employees.

2) Upload a picture or wallpaper that you are using at the moment.



A) Currently, I have two avatars that I am using. The first one is my “official” author picture from nearly two years ago now. Are you getting sick of it yet? God knows I am! I usually grow out the beard during the holidays. Last year, my wife asked whether I was planning on doing that again. I replied that I wasn’t, because seeing the author photo made me feel as if I had worn it all year. The other photo is a shot of flames. I think it’s cool. As much as I might like to change one of both of these, the budding marketing person within me realizes that you have to assist your customers by changing very little, if anything. Doesn’t it drive you crazy in the stores, when you look for the packaging that you are accustomed to, only to realize that nothing is familiar any longer because the packaging has changed?

3) When was the last time that you ate chicken meat?

A) Interesting question. This is easy because I could eat hamburger every day of the week, but with chicken I find myself tired of it after twice a week. At the time that I penned this post, I had last eaten chicken at an event in town. My wife and I went down there. I had ribs while she had the chicken. We shared, of course. The weather was nice and there was a relatively famous jazz band there.

4) The song that you listened to most recently?

A) This one is tough for me to answer because I have a jukebox in my head which plays continually. As you might have gleaned from this blog, I listen to a wide array of tunes, leaning mostly toward hard rock. Although I am currently listening to some Incubus (Thanks, Tara), Chickenfoot and Superheavy (Yeah, I’m surprised, too), what I have playing in my head right now is “Closer to the Edge” by 30 Seconds to Mars. And not the shorter radio single, either. I hate short versions of songs with a deeply-seated passion that burns like a well-fed industrial furnace... *calms self* Sorry. What were we talking about again?

5) What were you thinking of as you were doing this?

A) *laughs* Well, it wasn’t like I was writing this post while at work, hoping against hope that my employees wouldn't come by the office, disturbing me with their needs and questions, and keeping me from finishing this… ;)

6) Do you have nicknames?

A) *laughs again* Yes, I do, but none that I would like to share with you. *sticks out tongue* Okay, okay. I give up. First of all, I write my stories as James Garcia Jr. because that is what it reads upon my birth certificate. I also do it out of respect for my dad. All of my friends, however, call me Jimmy. Now, I couldn’t possibly leave you before giving you something juicy, so I will leave you with the following. Since you only know me from the words that I leave you with each week, or perhaps from my fiction, you most likely have no idea that I can throw a fit. J Some years ago, thanks to some whining that I was doing about who-knows-what, one of the ladies at work began calling me Jimmy-Sue. Some of the other ladies took that and ran with it, and to those great friends of mine (Brenda, Cheryl, Debbie & Liz *waves*), I have been Jimmy-Sue ever since.

Will I come to regret having told you this? Perhaps. As I mentioned above, I may not be “hot”, but I try to be fun.

We’ll talk soon.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. How are all of you today. Oh! There's a light knocking on your door. It almost sounded like more of a scratching than actual knocking. Other than me, who would come calling so late at night? Anyway, I'll wait here while you see who it is...

Relax. There isn't really anyone at your door. I was only messing with you. You see, I have come before you this week to tell you about a cool blog hop that is going to take place during the week before All Hallow's Eve from October 24th to the actual thinning of the veil.

Okay, okay. I'll stop. You know, you're not any fun at all. Besides, I'm an author; we're supposed to me demented on one level or another. Come to think of it, most of you are writers, too. Aren't you? If it pleases the court, notice I didn't accuse you of being demented. *whispers* It was implied.



I haven't yet decided what I plan to do for this event. As you know, I usually only post on Monday. I could re-post a bunch of reviews or snippets of my novel. If I post too often I won't have the time to visit the blogs of others, so we'll see. I'm taking a week off from work soon - at the end of the month I'll tell you what that was/is about - so there will be plenty of time to think my plans over. There will definitely be a contest at some point during the week. I will be coming to your house and washing and detailing your car... Are you kidding? I don't even do my own! Of course I'll be giving away copies of my novel. I see you frowning there. My little crossover vampire novel is currently the highest-rated horror novel on Smashwords, so there. *bares fangs* ;)


The point of all of this, just like anything else, is for the exposure. We writers get to meet other like-minded writers and, more importantly, we will use this fun time of year to reach like-minded readers. Each one of the sites will amaze, surprise and perhaps even shock with their content, and there stands to be some very cool giveaways.



Had enough of the hop badges yet? Good. There's more. I like them, too.


You know, I thought she was better looking last night. Must have been that second Crown & Coke. What? It's too cold for beer here in California now. Okay, I don't drink that much, you guys. I kid.



In hopes of whetting your dark appetites for the blog hop, I am leaving you with another, very brief snippet from my novel. In this scene, the heroes have locked themselves in the Kingsburg Police Department. The young distraught dispatcher has been sent home. Or so we hoped. The evil vampire is still hot on the trail for the other vampire Nathaniel, who is inside with the heroes.


4:58 a.m.

At long last, Vincent had located the correct key, turned it in the lock and gained access. Before entering fully; however, he leaned toward the ground with his left hand and retrieved something that he had placed there. Michael could not make out anything yet. While Nathaniel held his ground beside him, Michael glanced nervously from door to door, deliberating and calculating in his head whether or not he believed that the last door between them and the vampire might hold. It seemed too much to hope for.

When Michael tore his eyes away from the what if’s and what might happens of his deliberations, the vampire had reached the other side of the large lobby window.

“What’d he just drag in here?” Michael whispered the question. He waited for the reply, but none came. “Nathaniel?”

“You may wish to turn away.”

With still surprising little effort, Vincent reached up and slammed the object against the glass. In horror, Michael cursed as the lifeless body of Lainie Bishop struck the glass with her back and head. The blow did nothing to the thick bulletproof glass, but it collapsed several of the plates that had once made up her beautiful skull. There was a sickening squashing sound as some of the contents inside were loosed. There was very little blood, however.

For good measure, Vincent pulled her down and slammed her three more times in some sick, twisted rhythm as if she were simply the door knocker of an even larger castle.

“She did not seem pleased that she was being sent away,” Vincent broke the silence between them. “So I decided to invite her back inside.”

My God! Barbara stifled her cry as she entered the room just in time to witness the carnage. “What kind of monster are you?” she screamed, just not able to hold back her outrage at the sight of the dead woman’s hanging limbs. Whatever blood she had remaining stained the glass in dark splattered rivulets.

All three in the room turned to look at her as she did so. Both detectives were wondering just the same thing. Though some had seen some of what the vampire had been capable of, some getting a very close and personal taste of it, it was only Nathaniel who really knew.

“He is the great beast,” Nathaniel said. “There is nothing that he is incapable of.”


I hope you will join my fellow Coffin Hoppers and I this upcoming Halloween for chills, frights, shocks and treats. There's still time to join the hop. You can find it here. If you don't feel like hosting, I hope that you will hop, run or crawl along the different sites. I'll see you there.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. I come before you today to inform you that I have, at long last, finished reading Drood by Dan Simmons. It sounds as if I am complaining, doesn't it? Not at all. I simply bemoan the lack of reading opportunities each day, coupled with my attempting to read a 900+ page novel. The novel was very good. Yet, at only 30 minutes a day, the challenge took forever.

The Novel: Having never before read historical fiction, I really had no idea what to expect; however, having gone on this adventure, I really am ready for the next one.

Drood takes us back to 19th century Victorian England to the real world of the great Charles Dickens. We become immersed in his life and the body of his literary work, as told by his friend, collaborator and rival, Wilkie Collins. I knew about many of Dickens' works, but I had no idea that he left an unfinished work, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, nor did I know of the train accident that nearly killed him at Staplehurst.

It is at this incident that we are introduced to the diabolical Drood. He is the disfigured and menacing specter that begins to haunt Dickens, get between he and his good friend Collins and ultimately drive the two apart. In the beginning, Collins swears that the character does not exist, but is merely a figment of Dickens' great imagination; however, soon Drood becomes all-too real, making Collins his slave in more ways than one, aided by the author's out of control addictions. Or does he?

I thought the novel was quite good, but very long. Many reviewers that I have seen insist that the novel could have done without half of its mass. Perhaps. It can't be easy to take real people and events and spin a fictional tale between them, especially one filled with murder, intrigue and dark-doings. If you like dark tales in a historical setting, this is your book. Mr. Simmons was masterful, I thought. He didn't show us Dickens' world, he absolutely took us there.

TBR Pile: Now that I have a taste for reading once again, I look forward to the next thing. Many of you, my fellow Indie and small publishing-house authors, have asked me to read your novels. Some have given discount codes in hopes that reviews may spring forth from them. As long as these books of yours are not 900 + pages, I'm ready. *grins; rubs hands together* There are a few on my book shelf as well as many more lining the virtual shelf of my Kindle. I love discovering that your writing is just as good, and often better, as the writing that lines the shelves of the few bookstores remaining in this world. I promise to get on this immediately...

A Word: Before I go, I would like to leave you with some food for thought, and God knows it is as much for me as it might be for you. I found it within the pages of Dan Simmons' novel and it struck me like a well-landed blow to the jaw. Many of us push ourselves extremely hard in this writing endeavor. Rather than prep you any further I invite you to read it for yourself and see how it strikes you.

"When the last autumn of Dickens's life was over, he continued to work through his final winter and into spring. This is how all of us writers give away the days and years and decades of our lives in exchange for stacks of paper with scratches and squiggles on them. And when Death calls, how many of us would trade all those pages, all that squandered lifetime-worth of painfully achieved scratches and squiggles, for just one more day, one more fully lived and experienced day? And what price would we writers pay for that one extra day spent with those we ignored while we were locked away scratching and squiggling in our arrogant years of solipsistic isolation?
"Would we trade all those pages for a single hour? Or all our books for one real minute?"

I thought Mr. Simmons' was brilliant with this. It was a book within a book.

As Wilkie Collins might ask, "How did it strike you, dear reader?"

We'll talk soon.