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Monday, February 27, 2012

Of Typos and Perspective

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. It's always great to have you drop by for a visit. I know there is a lot of competition for your attention each and every week, and I really appreciate your visits. I have basically only been posting once a week on Mondays and it has helped free me up to visit your sites as well, but still not as often as I would like. There is just not enough time in the day, is there?

So, I came here today to tell you a story that happened to me this past week. It's not a very good story. In fact, I'd rather keep the whole thing to myself, but I feel compelled to share it, since it affects everyone who reads my debut, Dance on Fire.

Thursday night, I sat in a room in Fresno, Ca. with local authors, Marilyn Meredith and Lorie Ham. We have been doing library events periodically. This was our third. The three of us also contribute articles for Lorie's on-line magazine, Kings River Life. In any event, when it became my turn to speak, I introduced myself to the few who had joined us that evening. Once that was done, I read the blurb for the book and then launched into a reading. I feel bad for the other two, having to listen to the same bit of my book each and every time; however, it is a very good place to share and very convenient for me. I started reading and saw the mistake immediately. My heart sank! I had taken twenty years to write this novel, and had been reading the same passage for two years, and I had never caught the error before. I continued on as if nothing had happened, but I felt my temperature rise and the beginning of some perspiration start to develop.

I managed to finish and hold it together, but I was pretty devastated. The error is so juvenile, so Bush League, as they say in baseball terms. I really don't want to draw any one's attention to it. It has to do with time and occurs early in my story, but if no one has caught it as of yet, I really don't want to taint the book. Perhaps it has been caught, but no one wants to bring it up - I don't know. If you have seen it, thanks for ignoring it and not allowing it to detract from what I think is still a very good story.

I have contacted my publisher to see whether we might be able to correct this as well as one other thing. A buddy of mine just pointed out that I had used the word "peek" with the incorrect spelling (waves to Natalie). That drives me crazy, too, but not nearly as bad as the time goof that is sitting there and threatens to outlive me.

As I mentioned, I was really upset by this turn of events. However, on Saturday morning, I sat in a church and offered my support to a friend of mine that I went to school with, who was burying his young daughter (nearly 19), who died tragically the previous weekend. I won't dishonor my friend or the memory of his child that he has lost by offering her as fodder for one of my posts, except to say that it gave me some perspective on the whole thing. He and I are the same age and my sons are just a few years younger than his son and daughter, and now just son. It could very easily have been me sitting in that front row.

My perspective is this: it's a good book. Is it great? I'm guessing not, but many people have come to me, whether in person or on the world wide web to say that they liked it, and that is enough for me. Have I learned some lessons? Yes, and I darn well better get some other eyes to read my manuscripts from now on! Any beta readers out there? *begs* I had hoped that I had a clean book after all of this time, but much better novels than mine have had egregious errors and have lived to grace many famous book shelves and have been considered classics. I will strive to do my best to never let this happen again as I get better as a novelist.

Yet, in the grand scheme of things, there are far worse things to be devastated about. My love and deepest sympathies to my friend, his ex-wife, their son and entire family as they attempt to carry on without her.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, February 20, 2012

The Cellar and The Well

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. How is everybody? I am great! I say this because as I pen this post on Sunday afternoon, I am anticipating one more day off as Monday is President's Day in America. Typically these posts are scheduled for midnight in California and I am at work as the first comments begin to come in. They make my day, by the way, so I thank you for that. Tomorrow, I will get to sleep in and then get some writing done as I begin to receive visitors.

I have entitled this post, The Cellar and The Well, because I wish to speak about two similar things which weigh heavily on my mind at the moment.

The Cellar:

Can you smell that? It's the smell of a freshly cut lawn. Well, not a lawn exactly, but grass anyway. How about the scent of chalk? No? How about peanuts, hot dogs and beer? Now perhaps you see what I'm getting at. I rarely speak of sports on this page, but with Spring Training starting this weekend, I just can't help myself. Baseball is in the air! My beloved Chicago Cubs have added another year since their last World Series Championship. That last one coming in 1908. In fact, they haven't even reached the grand stage since 1945. Pretty sad, isn't it? It doesn't stand to get any better this year either, I'm afraid. The team is rebuilding and may very well finish...(you guessed it) in the cellar of the division standings. It will most likely take a few years before the team is very good. However, we are under new management this spring, and when you are a Cubs fan, hope springs eternal.

The Well:

I just finished reading an utterly marvelous novel, The Well, by Author Peter Labrow. And when I write that I just finished it, I mean exactly that. It has taken me a bit longer to get through, but that was more to do with my schedule not allowing me time to read. So, wanting to finish the novel, I did not turn on Trusty Laptop Sunday at all, electing instead to shut myself in my bedroom to finish a most captivating book.

First, I will let the blurb speak for itself:

Trapped. Missing. Cursed. Fourteen-year-old Becca Richards and her stepbrother have fallen to the bottom of an ancient well. Their parents are away; they won't be missed for days. The predatory man who had been stalking Becca now switches his attentions to her best friend. Two women who know where Becca is trapped are desperate that she should never escape. Over the course of a week, family, friends and strangers are drawn together by a terrible shared fate - from which not all will escape. 'The Well' is a darkly gripping tale about how we respond to the hand fate has dealt us - and the consequences of our choices. The Well deftly intertwines a story of supernatural horror with a tale of one of the greatest fears of modern life. As the book progresses, the two stories become one - driving relentlessly towards a single, thrilling finale. The Well is a fast-paced, riveting story that will grip you - and keep you guessing - until the very end.

The amazing tale is three very good works in one: it has Horror, it is a great Crime Drama and it is a Thriller that is immensely that. In the beginning, I sat down, preparing myself for horror. When it became a crime story, I was pleasantly surprised. I found myself slightly disappointed when it suddenly turned paranormal on me; however, in the end, it all worked together beautifully. Labrow could have settled for his story simply being a Thriller, and he would have had a very good novel. Yet he did not. He went for the trifecta, and nailed it.
The story is a tantalising tale, but it very well might be the many subplots that keep you flipping pages. They weave in and out, back and forth, as if the author had been sipping from the same fount as Dan Brown, but, dare I say, with a bit more substance to each chapter, not merely settling for stringing his readers along with one cliff hanger after another. Without revealing too much, I just loved the way that separate characters came together, not just for the missing Becca, but by the very determined young girl, Sammy, who refused to stand idly by and allow another to suffer.
This is a great story, as I have already alluded to; however, what makes it more than just a fun way to pass a weekend, are the brilliant characters. The phrase 'three-dimensional' gets tossed about a lot when writers discuss the craft of creating believable characters, but let me tell you something: Labrow nailed that, too. From the heights of leads such as trapped Becca and the "gifted" young Sammy; to the supporting cast of best friend Hannah, Sammy's mother Abby, Becca' s mother Sarah and boyfriend Jim; to even the creepy Randle, troubled Ed and members of the police force - this novel is the fabled Lost Ark. It raises the bar for all of us! You may submit for me a novel that contains a better story, but I defy you to list one that sports better characters.
I have mentioned recently how I have spent most of my reading time on Indie authors this past year or so, and have been pleasantly surprised and impressed with the quality of their work. If there was a part of me that was ready to get back to the big established authors, Author Peter Labrow and his incredible novel banishes and caps that thought right down inside The Well.
Have a great week, my friends.
We'll talk soon.    

Monday, February 13, 2012

Dance on Fire: Flashpoint

Greetings and salutations, Fire Enthusiasts. I hope this post finds you doing well, whenever it is that you find it. I know how many posts are vying for your attention each week, so I certainly appreciate you stopping by.

Thanks to all of those Romance Enthusiasts (and even closeted ones, like me) who visited last week, and my thanks to all of the returning Horror Enthusiasts who left scratching their collective heads. I’m just like all of you, aren’t I? We’re all multi-faceted and not easy to pigeonhole. I do read and write horror, but neither exclusively. I like my classic rock and heavy metal, but also appreciate most other types of music.

Speaking of music, it was such a damn shame to see the passing of Whitney Houston over the weekend. If only, if only, if only... *sigh* Such a talent!

The Update:

Many of you in the real and virtually world have been asking when you can expect to see the release of my second novel. I come before you today bringing some news, although not yet concrete information. What I can tell you is this, it is still entitled, Flashpoint. It hasn’t been decided whether it should come with a badge that signifies that it is “A Dance on Fire Novel”, although I do believe that it should. What do you guys think? I was originally thinking “The Dance on Fire Chronicles”, but have drifted away from that. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I recall thinking there was something that I did like very much; however, I can't recall it now. If you’ve got a solution to this, I would love to see it.

My faithful publisher is hard at work on the edits at the time that I pen this post. The plan is to have the editing completed by the end of March, at the very latest. If we can all meet this deadline, then we should have both the e-book and softcover by the third weekend in May. Why is this date important, you ask? Those who have read Dance on Fire will recall that it is the weekend for the Kingsburg Swedish Festival, a real event which I use in the plot of my novel. Although I have attended the festival many times, last year was the first where I actually had a booth. I sold about thirty copies that weekend, if memory serves. I could look it up but am far too lazy now. *grins*

We do have a working cover which I am not yet prepared to share with you, but it should be soon. We’ll probably be tweaking it just a bit, but we’ll see.

The synopsis:

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 force her to hide from daylight in order to prevent. Tiffany's reemergence is treated like Manna from Heaven; however, her story is only half true. Tiffany is a vampire and their daughter in name only. She sleeps during the day and hunts for human blood during the night, and has come back to enact a twisted revenge upon 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 Flashpoint.

Okay, so there it is. What do you think, my friends, fellow writers and peers? For those of you who have blessed me by reading Dance on Fire, what do you think of this?

If you have any suggestions for the blurb, cover, badge, etc., I would love to hear it.

As to the status of the first book, it continues to garner very good reviews. Last time I looked, it was still the fourth Highest-Rated Horror novel at Smashwords. My thanks to all of you for making it so.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Losing My Street Cred...Again

Hello, Romantic Enthusiasts… Wait! What? Pardon me a moment. Apparently I haven’t had enough coffee this morning as I pen this post. Let’s try that again, shall we? I mean, after all, this is a place of horror and fire, right? Romance? *nervous laughter* C’mon! Are you kidding me?

*clears throat*

Hello, Roman… Oh, hell!

Horror aficionados, I guess I’ll catch up with you next week...

My friends, once a year I disclose far too much. And today’s the day that I do it...Again.

You see, in spite of the fact that the book shelf that I showed you last week is filled with the likes of Barker, Michael Slade and Uncle Stevie (Mr. King for those of you out of the loop); my Kindle is filled with Greg Sisco, Andrew M. Boylan, Carole Gill, Timothy Hobbs, Ania Ahlborn and others; and my DVD library is stacked with Halloween, The Exorcist, Alien, etc. – you probably will be shocked to find out that it is another genre altogether which moves me the most.

Notting Hill, Love Actually, Somewhere in Time, An Affair to Remember, Possession; these are examples of the films that move me. I am already firmly on record as saying that my favorite novel is Pat Conroy’s masterpiece, Beach Music.

Having prepared you with all of that, please allow me to share with you the book that moved me this past week. It is entitled, Again, and it was written by the incredibly talented Diana Murdock.

Eryn and Bryce are a beautiful and accomplished couple, seemingly having everything. They have the total package of looks, money and career. What they do not have is real love. Eryn has lived her entire life for others, ignoring her aching heart. Suddenly, her senses begin to become assaulted by visions, dreams and recollections of some past-life that she could not have experienced, beginning to shake her foundations. Not one to believe in such things, Eryn finds herself questioning everything yet becoming caught up in the desires of those around her, with no one concerned with her own.

The Lady Catherine in the year 1501 lives the life of nobility. Servants take care of everything about her while she lives the life of a queen. Her father rules their lands in peace and the knights keep that peace, led by the greatest of all, Galen. Catherine has known Galen her entire life and it is only a matter of time before she consents to marry the handsome and wonderful knight. Although she adores Galen, she does not love him. When she meets the merchant Jonathan, who speaks of the freedom of the seas and living life to its fullest, her world is shaken, and she finds a love that she never thought possible. And one that she can never have.

Somehow, someway, could it be that the love for that embattled union was never extinguished, but instead has found Eryn five hundred years later to save her from repeating the same terrible mistakes that plagued Catherine and Jonathan?

Let me say that I started reading this novel, thinking that I would support a friend and give myself a break from horror novels, only to find myself caught up in a fresh and wonderful tale that would not let go of me, long after I read the last page. Murdock did a superb job of treating the duel story lines as if it had been two different authors that penned them. She really captured the essence of characters five centuries apart, never once failing to keep their mannerisms, speech and cultures clearly separated. Although I found a few typos (especially towards the second half of the book), I thought the writing was of the highest quality.

Were I the editor, I might have advised to back off on the “weak knee”and “butterfly” moments during the meet-cutes just a bit; however, it really was a minor thing. I could have also used a bit less of the bedroom scenes. I have been lucky enough to be in the bedroom a few times, so I know what goes on there and don’t need to see it. ;) Having written that, I want to be fair. Murdock wrote these scenes so well and so beautifully that we do end up in the bedroom with the characters and get swept along just as they do. The lovemaking wasn't robotic, nor were the scenes written as if by dancers who had never danced those steps before. One time, when the action finally goes to the place where the reader wants it to go, there toward the end of the story, I had to put down my Kindle and give myself a break. There were no cold showers to be had at my day job! I don't write that to bring embarrassment to myself. I do so, to speak of the quality of Murdock's words, pacing and richly created characters.

Having that little time to read each day, I found myself stealing more moments than perhaps I should have, but I couldn’t help myself. I loved this book! With great pacing; a fresh and imaginative plot that reminded me just a hair of the film, The Lake House; and several characters that I loved and rooted for – Again by Diana Murdock was just delightful.

You can find Murdock at her website here and the book here.  

Okay, I’m going back to horror books now…at least for a while. ;)

We’ll talk soon.

Friday, February 3, 2012

An Interview

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I realize that it is only Friday... Believe me, I do. I just wanted to share with you that I had been interviewed by someone new that I have just recently met along the World Wide Web. Her name is Dallas Woodburn. She's cute as a button and has done so much in such a short time that I found her to be quite astonishing. I am terribly impressed by her accomplishments and am honored that she asked me to be her subject.

I'd love for some of you to drop by and say hello, if possible. You can find her at her blog.

We'll talk soon.