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Monday, May 30, 2011

Monday Morning Musings

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Happy (long weekend) Memorial Day to you and yours.

Before I get all carried away I just want to give a shout-out to all of those who have worn a uniform for the United States or its Allies. You have sacrificed much for freedom, all too often sacrificing all that you had to give.

Forgive me, my blogosphere friends. I have been away too long. Things have been hectic at work, seemingly each week being worse than the last. On top of this, I began to attend/host author events which took up a bunch of time. Therefore, you have not seen me prowling about any of your blogs in a very long time. I hope to make up for this real soon. I visited several posts Saturday night and hopefully this trend will continue all long-weekend long.

For those of you who follow the Wicked Writers Blog, you may have already read this, but I just resigned and posted my last this past Friday. My leaving had nothing to do with drama of any kind. I simply needed to reevaluate the amount of time that I had each day and how I hope to dedicate it. I have written nothing new in well over a year while I focused on PR and Networking, and this needs to change...

...On that front, I just mailed off the contract for Dance on Fire: Flashpoint. I'm told that my edits will be in my hands (okay, my hard drive) sometime in July. Once that has been completed, I will have no new fiction to offer anyone, and will need to rectify this. It's either going to be Dance on Fire 3 or something else. I have some ideas for something other than vampires, but have yet to decide for certain. We'll see.

As to author events, I did a library event in Fresno, California because it is close to my home. A day later was the start of the Swedish Festival which was Friday night and all day Saturday. This took place last weekend. This past Thursday I attended a book club in town which had read my novel. It was a great time and I thank those ladies immensely. By the end of all of this I had signed and sold about 32 copies of my novel.

The subject of doing two other events at local libraries has been broached; however, in the meantime, I am definitely doing an event June 9th at Pamela's Boutique in my hometown. It is currently the exclusive home to my novel. It is going to be a meet & greet with wine! I can't wait.

What else? I can tell you that I am being reviewed in Fresno Magazine in the June issue. I haven't seen it yet, but I understand that it is favorable. *wipes forehead*.

Many may recall that it sounded as if I was contemplating not necessarily quitting writing, but certainly backing off everything that I was attempting to juggle. There was simply too much! Had these recent events not turned out so well, I just might have done that. For all of you who have offered words of encouragement or bought copies of my novel, I thank you. It appears that my writing has an audience after all and I will continue to endeavour trying to reach them.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, May 23, 2011

An Eventful Weekend

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I hope everyone is well and had a great weekend.

If you didn't hear from me on Twitter for #WW or #FF and haven't seen the familiar flame avatar on your blog in a while, I assure you that I am alive and well. I have just been treading water over here...

In my day job, we have been so busy. I have been working 11 hour hectic days. The kind of days where you want to slam your company-issued cell phone into the nearest wall, due to the volume of calls that you end up taking. You don't, of course. But you really, really want to. *sigh*

On top of this I had my first events as an author, and the build-up and preparation for these were taking all of my time. In fact, I didn't touch my trusty lap top for 48 hours between Thursday and Saturday night. It must be some sort of record!!

The first event was Thursday evening at a library in Fresno, California which is about 25 minutes north of me. I joined authors Lorie Ham and Marilyn Meredith. The three of us also write articles for Lorie's Kings River Life Magazine. Each of us spoke a bit about ourselves and then read a bit from our novels. We had about eleven guests attend, which was way more than I thought we might get. They were an enthusiastic crowd and asked some good questions. I had fun interacting with them and felt that it was a positive first experience.

Friday afternoon I checked in for the Kingsburg Swedish Festival. It is my hometown's big event for the year, and an event that I attended as a child. Now I was a vendor. I was given the spot directly in front of the local branch of the Fresno County Library. I met new people and surprised local friends that had no idea that I was a writer.

Now there is special significance for those who have yet to read my novel. The plot takes place in my hometown and occurs 10 days before the Swedish Festival in 2008. So perhaps now you can see why I have said that if I can't sell a book about vampires in my town, then I might not be able to sell it at all. Thankfully, it was a great event. I worried that I would speak to few and sell fewer still. However, armed with 43 copies of my book, Dance on Fire, I now only have 11 remaining.

After spending a year building a web presence, followed by attacking newspapers and magazines and now followed by holding author events, I feel confident that there is enough there to continue on. Had this weekend bombed, I would have felt compelled to back down.

Thanks so much to all of you who have encouraged me to continue chasing the dream. I hope you are doing the same, and that my progress encourages you in return. In other news, I just mailed my contract for Dance on Fire: Flashpoint. I am anxiously awaiting my edits to arrive so that book 2 will see physical and virtual bookshelves everywhere.

We'll talk soon.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Author Events

Greetings, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everyone? I have been busier than you-know-what, and it doesn't seem to be getting any easier. In fact, it's part of why I am coming to you today. I have a couple of author events this week and I would like to tell you about them.

The first one is an event with three authors on Thursday. I live near Fresno, California and we are holding the event at the Cedar/Clinton Branch of the Fresno County Library. As well as being authors, each of us write for Kings River Life Magazine, so it will be great getting the three of us together.

The second one is Friday evening and all day Saturday in my home town of Kingsburg. It is the third weekend in May, and anyone who knows the valley knows that it is time for the annual Kingsburg Swedish Festival. If you have read my novel, Dance on Fire, then you are aware that Kingsburg is a small town with a Swedish Heritage that we like to maintain. It is the biggest event of the year for us, drawing very large crowds. I will be there, manning an information table downtown, promoting myself as well as KRL Magazine. I will have copies of my book on hand to sell and sign.

I’m looking forward to these events. It is the next phase in Operation: Get The Word Out. Phase one was to create a presence on the “world wide web”. I did that, somewhat successfully. I’m all over the net and garnered good reviews; however, I don’t know that I sold very many copies of the e-book. Phase two was to promote the paperback version of the novel. I was reviewed/featured in magazines and newspapers and even placed my novel in a couple of stores. Again, I sold some copies, but still did not get the response that I was hoping for.

It isn’t as if I was expecting to sell a copy of the novel to every man, woman and child in my little part of the world; however, being that it is a vampire novel (big sellers these days) and is set completely in my hometown, I thought it might get more support. Perhaps it will, but getting the word out hasn’t been easy.

For those who have given me advice regarding setting up a table or preparing, I thank you. I will be sure to report back sometime thereafter, with photos.

We’ll talk soon.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

300 Blog Limit

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. It's good to see you. I hope you feel the same way, too.

I come to you today because I just realized that there was a limit to the amount of blogs that one can follow. Imagine my surprise. Perhaps many of you have already faced this dilemma; perhaps many of you are about to hit this mark.

Obviously, there is not enough time in most people's day or even week to be able to follow along with each and everyone of 300 blogs; however, at least in my case, I try and visit periodically. I bet everyone feels the same. For writers, we know how difficult of a proposition it is for others to understand what we go through on a daily basis, so it's great if we can support one another.
So, here I was, happily following along with everyone who elicited some reaction out of me. Sometimes I would follow because I felt some connection with someone's blog, sometimes it was because what the person was doing was really cool or noteworthy, sometimes it was simply a gut-instinct to regularly visit. Of course, sometimes I was following someone else back.

In any event, now I am trying to figure out how to get around this 300 number ceiling. Any thoughts?

Does anyone already have the answer to this?

Some of you folks are doing such cool things that I really want to remain a part of it. Many do reviews that I would like to know about. Many of you write novels and I have either bought a copy already or am hoping to, or I simply want to continue encouraging you in your hopes, aspirations and dreams..

Is the answer that we must stake ourselves to one another on each of the social networks and try and keep up that way? Is there just a procedural thing that we must do to get around this number?

I hope there is an answer to this because I'd hate to have to make difficult decisions to unfollow some just to make room to follow others. I study my follower number just like the next person and my heart dips just a bit when the number decreases. I'd hate to do this to others, too.

Anyway, thanks for whatever input anyone might have with regard to this subject. In a great many ways I am still just a newbie.

We'll talk soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Author Event Advice?

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is your week? Good, I hope.

In the next few weeks I have several scheduled author events. It’s kind of a make or break month for me. You see, my novel is about vampires loosed in my real hometown of Kingsburg, California. In the novel the vampires show up a couple of weeks before the Swedish Festival. It is a real event which takes place on the third weekend of May. My point is, if I can’t sell this book in this area, I’m guessing that it might be time to close up shop, in a manner of speaking.

We’ve discussed this before, but I have an eleven hour day job. Life was busy before I restarted writing and found myself blessed with a published novel. I went from this blog to adding two more (although I rarely help with that third one) and then took on a job as an article writer for a local on-line magazine, Kings River Life as the Kingsburg writer. All of this, plus keeping active on all of the social networks is too much; however, I have been doing it because I’m 42 years old and feel as if I should hustle, attempting to see whether I might be able to make something out of this writing career.

Notice that I didn’t say anything about keeping up with housework, being a good dad and husband, etc.

In any event, I definitely wouldn’t quit writing, but I would most likely scale back. There’s no way that I can maintain this pace.

However, this is not why I have come to you today. Since I am embarking upon my very first series of author events, I would like to hear from those of you who have already done some of these for advice. Do you have any words of wisdom for me? I was thinking about buying a table which would be longer than a regular card-table, something to give me a bit more room. I was thinking about covering it with two tablecloths: one a long neutral one, and another a much smaller one, giving me a splash of dark red or maroon (going with the blood visuals, don’t’cha know). I have ordered several acrylic book displays. I am planning on buying a couple of baskets for my business cards and magazine bookmarks. I am also thinking about making up some binders with either short stories of mine as well as some of the articles that I have written for the magazine.

Am I missing anything? I have a library event and a book club that I am doing, but I am also doing an outdoor festival for two days.

I know that a few of you have done similar events and could share a few insights. I’d love to hear them.

We’ll talk soon.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

No Mother's Day This Year

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.
Yours truly is a fool!
Why did I call myself that, you may ask? It's very simple, really. I only posted once last week on this blog and I was contemplating what my next one should be when it occurred to me. Of course the subject should be Mother's Day.
My mother reads this blog as she has time, so I'd like to take a moment to wish her a Happy Mother's Day. That's her in the photo above, standing beside her "man" (just kidding, Mom). Many of you, my dear readers, happen to be mothers, so I would very much like to wish you a wonderful day as well.
However, a friend of mine, someone that my wife and I used to attend church with in a neighboring town, will not be celebrating this year. Instead, she will be burying a daughter.
Thursday night, on her way home from her job at a nearby hospital, she was hit by another car and killed instantly. She was 43. Her mother may never celebrate this particular holiday ever again...and it's very sad.
I share this with you not to bring down your holiday, but to simply reaffirm how precious life is, and how tenuous.
Mothers, give your children an especially long hug this year, no matter how old they are. Children, love your mothers. It only takes a moment, and you'll be glad you did.

Happy Mother's Day.

We'll talk soon.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tuesday Musings???

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I typically have some sort of post for Mondays; however, with last week being brutal at my day job, and the weekend being a bit odd, I had nothing and had to scramble to figure something out for Tuesday.

I’m quite certain that no one wants me to post the first thing that popped into my head. I thought about posting an update on where I’m at concerning my second novel, but, sadly, I have no new news on that subject; the book is in the hands of my wonderful publisher. When I hear, then you will be the first to know.

I could post something about the Bin Laden news, but I try to keep this blog about books, film and music, and that’s about as diverse as I think I’d like to be, so that was out.

So, since it’s been a while, I decided to simply offer another snippet of my crossover vampire novel, "Dance on Fire". I’m keeping it very short, something to whet the appetite and nothing more. I hope you like it...

Barbara lowered the book onto her lap with a sigh in spite of the heat of the seduction. What the hell am I doing reading this drivel? she thought to herself. She thought of Pat Conroy’s Beach Music. That’s what she really wanted to read, but she’d read it five times, and once this year already. With another sigh, she slammed the romance novel closed and tossed it onto the other side of the couch.

Just then, a sound traveled down the hall.

She turned her head and waited. Looking over her right shoulder, her eyes stared at one spot on the wall which stood between her and the nursery, as if they might penetrate the paint and drywall and insulation and see what might have made the noise. She furrowed her brow. Her ears probed the quiet night for the identity of the disturbance.


Barbara did not want to get up. It was getting late, and she had already logged in a full day. Jerod was away, Michael was still not home and the twins were asleep; why did she need to get up? The only reason to get up now was to turn out lights, double-check locked doors and climb into bed. That was all.

And yet there she was lifting herself off of the couch and heading down the hall for a bed check. She straightened her simple white T-shirt upon standing up. The bottom of her pink pajama bottoms fluttered over the thick beige carpet and her bare feet as she headed for the nursery. When she reached the door which was only half closed, she quietly pushed it back open. The cool breeze hit her with a start, giving her gooseflesh.

The nursery window was standing wide open.

Dear God!

The room was dark except where the street lamp from the next street over shone against the open space and the fluttering curtains. She bolted unthinking for the nearest crib; Robbie's. Barbara clutched the sides of the crib and peered down into it. In the civil twilight she could barely see him, but enough of him to know that he was fine. She touched his tiny pink face. He was warm and still asleep. Good! she thought. She quickly turned and went to check on her daughter. She was equally asleep. The only one concerned in the least about the open window was their mother. She put her hands to her breast, trying to force herself to calm back down.

Barbara turned her attention toward the open window, the curtains still dancing there.

The window must have come open, she thought as she walked over to it, as incredulous a possibility as it was. But how?

The thin curtains began to beat against her face as Barbara reached out to close the window, as if they could somehow know of her intent and were trying to prevent it. Nimble, delicate fingers stretched outward and took hold of each side of the sliding window. As she did so, she thought of how frightened she had been. Barbara had never known a fear like she just felt when she first saw the open window. There were stories in the newspaper all of the time concerning child abductions, and for one very terrible moment she had considered her twins might be the next to grace those headlines.

But now it was over.

She never noticed the missing window screen.

Barbara stopped in mid-maneuver and was struck dumbfounded for a brief second. Everything suddenly moved in slow-motion. She almost asked herself the question: "Why did I stop?” Her right wrist suddenly hurt. She followed the discomfort signal back to the nerve ending which had sent it. There was a hand on her wrist, and now on the other one as well. The realization brought her back to her senses. There was someone coming through her window. She looked up. There was a face now, adorned by long flowing black hair that the wind was playing with. There was a twisted confident grin and piercing, penetrating eyes. It was a terrible face. She did not know the half of it; she hadn’t seen the accompanying teeth as of yet.

She screamed.

The infants awoke with a start and immediately began to cry. Strangely, Barbara could not hear them.

Her hands went numb under the pressure of the vise-grips which held her fast. Interestingly, she somehow noted, they were bitingly cold.

She screamed again.

The owner of the hands laughed heartily and continued to hold her as he pulled himself through the window and straightened up. She marveled momentarily at his height.

Barbara's eyes stretched wide at the sight; the long flowing dark hair, the leather coat, the heavy riding boots.

She immediately recognized that this was the same figure that she had seen the night before when she had visited Tiffany.

“Madam,” he spoke to her suddenly. “Your children seem to be crying!”
That was when she finally heard them.

Barbara shuffled backwards with the thought of someone hurting her babies, all along trying to free herself from his grip. Her feet tangled as she attempted to jerk herself free and she lost her balance. The vampire still did not let go of her.

“A pity!”

“Who are you?” she tried to gain some composure by speaking to her attacker as she got back to her feet. She continued to attempt to shake free of his grip, but could not. “What do you want?”

“So many questions!” he laughed.

As he spoke, Barbara took the opportunity to try once more to free herself with one last violent shake of her arm. “Let me go!”

“As you wish.”

Barbara suddenly became free and fell down. She let out a cry as the momentum snapped her head back as she hit the floor, biting her lip.

“There!” he laughed, resting his hands at his sides above her. “You are welcome.”

Barbara did not hear the intruder's sarcasm, nor did she wait to see if the pain in her throbbing head would subside. Not her, not a police-man's wife. Instead, without as much as a thought otherwise, she pushed herself to her feet and toward her crying children.

“Well!” came a voice from a heartbeat behind her. “What precious little throats they have!”

This time she heard everything loud and clear. Alarms went off inside her head, making the pain a hundred times worse than before. There was no time to escape with her children. Instead, she spun to attack.

The vampire had her before she could scream. Those cold, claw-like fingers had her arms at the flesh just above her elbows and were pinning them to her body. She tried to let loose a cry but could not. The pain this time made her bite into her lower lip. The vampire lifted her off of her bare feet with little effort and then brought her close. Suddenly, green eyes which seemed black as pitch to her in the dark, widened and focused immediately upon a trickle of blood upon her full, red lips.

The vampire pulled his face back in another terrible smile, exposing ivory white fangs. The sight made her shiver and she finally was able to let out a cry. “Careful,” he whispered tenderly. “You'll spill it.”

The vampire did not notice the woman's revulsion as he pulled her closer still. Ignoring her, seeing only the crimson red upon her lips, he brought them down to him and licked them clean with a slow sweep of his rough tongue.

We'll talk soon.