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Monday, September 26, 2011

Why Vampires?

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.
After having had some fun for the past two posts, I thought that a bit of an update was in order. I spent some time these past few weeks doing rewrites on the sequel to my debut novel, Dance on Fire. It has a name, but I try and not use it that often, lest someone steal it. *laughs* We have yet to decide whether we will name the series or not. I think we'll be having that conversation soon. Perhaps The Dance on Fire Chronicles or something. We'll see.

I submitted the manuscript to Vamplit Publishing a week ago. This one is a bit longer than the debut. It currently sits at over 118,000 words. I added a little bit of this and a little bit of that. I didn't keep time with this one. That was a lot of work. If you've read it you know what I mean. I would love to tell you more, but that will have to wait until we are no longer calling it a manuscript and actually calling it by name.

I would like to take a moment to thank everyone who has read Dance on Fire. The reviews are very good. As of this writing, it once again claims the top spot as the highest-rated novel in the horror category on Smashwords. I have a Discussion Tab on my Author's Facebook Page as well that lists those reviews and many more.

While I have you here I thought I might take a few moments to answer the question: Why I Write about Vampires.

The truth of the matter is I never set out to write a vampire book. Although I find myself drawn to Lugosi's classic, it took several attempts before finally getting through Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire. That was more to do with where I was then anything to do with Rice's masterpiece.

Instead, the crime novel that I was writing simply went that direction all on it's own volition. My dad is retired KPD (Kingsburg Police Department) and I grew up reading horror novels. Those two pieces of inspiration teamed together to get me where I am today. Now that I have written the first it is only logical that I continue the story. I envision a third chapter in the series; however, I plan to wait and see whether there might be a demand for it. If so, I would be happy to set pen to paper, as it were. If not, then I will simply wait a while before proceeding.

I would like very much to write other genres, but that is when things get tricky. If I decide to write a romantic comedy or drama (stories that I definitely have within me), do I press on or create new websites and a nom de plume?

I guess we'll cross that bridge when we get there.

We'll talk soon.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Ten Random Things About...Me

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. Last week we had a bit of fun with a flash fiction piece. This week we have yet another challenge. I was“tagged” by one of my newest buddies along the world wide web, Diana Murdock. She asked me to list 10 random things about myself. Hopefully you will find them amusing you. They are in no particular order.

1) I have massive Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Okay, massive is probably too strong of a word. I’m most definitely not Mr. Monk here, although that was a great show. My partner at work might disagree. She loves moving my papers around and a doing a host of other irritating things, all in the name of attempting to get me to “get over it”.

2) I’m a frustrated guitar player. I fell in love with rock and roll back in the heavy metal days of the very early eighties, just as the Hair Bands were beginning to take off. Unfortunately, I was already too old. By then, I was working after school and just never had the time to make the instrument part of me. I walk around with a couple of guitar picks in my wallet, just in case. I believe I’m missing a few strings from when my oldest son used to play it and I have yet to restring it. The following photo is quite similar.

3) Having just told you that I was a hard rock guy, I really shouldn’t confess some of the music that sits on the virtual shelf of my iPod. My first show was Kiss in ’85. I saw Iron Maiden, Motley Crue, Scorpions, AC/DC, Poison, Ratt, Van Halen, Sammy Hagar to name a few; however, I also listen to Air Supply, Bee Gees and Neil Diamond. *hangs head in shame* Okay, I love them – don’t judge! ;)
Here's a photo taken of me with Van Halen back during the Balance Tour. I'm in the dark shirt at the bottom middle.

4) The trend of me being weaker than previously thought continues as I confess that although I grew up with Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street, John Carpenter movies and profess to write horror that I’m most comfortable watching romantic comedies. My wife doesn’t even have to be in the room for me to do so. I can watch them over and over again, and frequently do.

5) My politics lean toward the right, yet one of my favorite television shows was the left-leaning, The West Wing. I remember watching the first episode since Martin Sheen and Rob Lowe were starring in it. When it was over I had to resist the urge to awaken my wife and inform her that the new show had some of the best writing ever. Of course, it didn’t hurt that it was an Aaron Sorkin creation. That guy is brilliant!

6) As many of us did back in the day, I once sported very long hair. I either looked like the late Ronnie James Dio (Black Sabbath, Rainbow and solo artist) or that I was wearing Darth Vader’s helmet.

7) I can sing, although I never had much training. If I weren’t so busy I would probably join our church choir. I did sing in my old church, but that was well before I realized I could string a few words together and people might like to pay their hard-earned money for them. ;) I can do some low range, but I am more comfortable in the higher ranges. Think: Journey alum, Steve Perry.

8) I like Crown and Cokes during the winter months, but I can drink Long Island Ice Tea’s year-round.

9) Many of you know already, but I am an Administrative Supervisor for Sun-Maid Raisin Growers of California. The lady on the red box– that’s us. The job has me up at 3 am, in the office by 4 am and keeps me there for 11 hours a day during the week.

10) Many of you know this already, but for those who are new to these pages, it took me twenty years to write my first novel. I love telling people this because it makes their eyes light up. No, I started writing when I was in school, but later set it aside as my wife and I started our family, etc.

We'll talk soon.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Two Reviews

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts.

Yes, I know, it's only mid-week, and this makes three posts in one week. No, I didn't lose my job, giving me a whole another eleven hours in my day with which to play with. And, no, I haven't hit my head or anything... Are you going to let me tell this or aren't you?

What? Oh! My apologies. Sometimes I just argue with myself this way. The doctors have informed my caregivers that I will be perfectly peachy just as long as I properly take my medicine... :)

I posted Wednesday and am posting this revised version because I wanted to share with you two wonderful reviews that my novel received from Adriana Noir over at Ink in Faded Hues and from Lorelei Bell over at Lorelei's Muse. Both ladies were very kind to spend their time, not only to read my little vampire tale, but also to post reviews. I would love it if you would surf over and take a look. If you don't know Adriana or Lorelei, perhaps you will say hello and see what makes them tick; perhaps even make them new friends of yours.

Adriana's review begins, "This truly was a spectacular read from an author that I fully expect to see emerge as one of horror's rising stars..."

Lorelei's review states, "I especially like that he told the background of his two vampires throughout the story and it helped not only hold your attention, but also developed the two vampires.

Although  I am itching to tell you more, I think it better if I defer to the ladies...

We'll talk soon.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Barbara, Nathaniel & the Underwear Challenge

     Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I come to you this week with something new. My good buddy Author Lorelei Bell over at Lorelei's Muse asked me to join in with this challenge. If you are not familiar with the following characters, they come from the pages of my debut novel, Dance on Fire. You will find some sexual tension between Barbara Lopez and the vampire Nathaniel in those pages, but for the most part, the following piece of flash fiction is a bit of a stretch for them both.

     Or is it…

     It was nearly 10 pm, she was barefoot and dressed only in a Michael BublĂ© concert T-shirt and a pair of white lace panties beneath that, and Police Chief Michael Lopez’ wife was doing the unthinkable. She traipsed into the dark kitchen, lit only by the steady glow of the Microwave LED and poured herself a third glass of White Zinfandel.
     What’s the harm? she thought as she retrieved the bottle from the refrigerator, refilled her glass just a bit taller than usual, finishing the remainder of the bottle. Jerod and his dad were gone on an overnight fishing trip, the twins were fast asleep and the Dan Brown novel was simply too good to put down now.
     As she walked back out of the kitchen, she happened to notice the answering machine steadily blinking a red number 1, signifying that there had been a message at some time during the evening that she had missed. She frowned, but released it, knowingly. Probably when I took my shower, she thought. She tapped the play button and lowered the sound by clicking the down arrow on the volume control. It was a message from the school. Report cards had come out and Jerod had neglected to show them to her.
     Barbara shook her head as she set the wine down on the dining room table, flipped on the Dining Room light and headed for Jerod’s room to collect his report card. She wasn’t upset with her son, because his grades had always been consistently good. She knew that it was the fishing trip with his dad that had caused him to forget to show off his grades. It took no time at all for her to locate his backpack. It was heavy with books, but she found two envelopes quickly enough. One was his grades; the second had hearts drawn on it by a girl’s unmistakable hand. Suddenly, the mother in her didn’t care about the grades anymore.
     When she got back to the Dining Room, she found a vampire standing there. He was holding his hands out as if preparing to grab her by the throat. “Shit!” she cried and the envelopes flew from her hands.
   “My apologies,” he said.
   “Nathaniel,” she shuddered. “You scared the crap out of me!” Absently, she leaned over and retrieved what she had dropped, her T-shirt riding up.
   “I am…sorry,” He managed, momentarily distracted.
     Barbara suddenly stood straight up. Realizing how little she was wearing, she glanced about as if searching for someplace to hide. She tugged at her T-shirt which stopped below her hips, although just barely. Next, she realized that she wasn’t wearing a bra. She crossed her arms in hopes of hiding this fact.
   “Please sit down,” Nathaniel said, pulling out her chair with his left hand. “I see that I have come at a bad time.”
   Glancing at the offered chair, Barbara realized that the table would at least give her some measure of coverage, so she quickly sat down. “Why are you here?” she asked.
   “I told you that I would watch over you,” he replied. “Sometimes I do so without alerting you to my presence. What do you have in your hand?”
   “What?” Barbara asked.
   “Your hands. You seem to be holding envelopes.”
     Barbara glanced at her hands. She had forgotten them. She felt dizzy now, too.
   “What do you have?” he asked.
   “Jerod’s grades,” she answered, attempting to steady herself. She set both down, the simple white atop the dark yellow envelope.
   “Both of them?” he asked.
   “Not this one,” she replied, opening it and taking out the folded note within. She unfolded it and began reading. It didn’t take long for her eyes to widen.
   “What does it say?” the vampire asked.
   There was a pregnant pause as she took it all in. “It appears to be a silly questionnaire.”
   “What does it ask?”
   *"What do you call your underwear/undergarments? Do you have any commonly used nicknames for them?"*
   “Really?” the vampire asked, surprised. “And what did young Jerod answer?”
   “Apparently he hasn’t answered these yet. Thankfully.” She shook her head.
   “How would you answer?” he asked playfully.
   Barbara stared at him. It wasn’t like him to play like this. Before she could stop herself, she uttered the following: “Chonies.”
   “Chonies?” Nathaniel repeated.
     Barbara glanced at her wine as if it were betraying her.
   “I thought that was a Spanish donut?”
   Barbara laughed. “That’s a Churro!”
   “Oh,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “What more does it say?” He was standing beside her now as if attempting to read over her shoulder.
   *“Have you ever had that supposedly common dream of being in a crowded place in only your underwear?”* she read. “I feel like that now.”
   Nathaniel snickered. “What was that?” he asked.
   “Nothing,” she replied, reaching for her wine and taking a big sip.
   Nathaniel leaned close and read, *“If you were a pair of panties what color would you be?”* “White,” he said. “It’s what you are wearing now, I believe.”
     Barbara spat out the wine. It sprayed the top of the Dining Room table. She quickly stood, reached for a handful of napkins from the holder on the Lazy Susan and began cleaning up the mess. The move caused her shirt to ride up again.
   “See,” Nathaniel pointed at her. “White.” Barbara recoiled, immediately sitting back down. Nathaniel laughed. He slid the paper closer to him, avoiding the spilled wine. “Let me see what more there is. *Have you ever thrown your underwear at a rock star or celebrity? If so, which ones? If not, which ones?* Hmm? *Are you old enough to remember Underoos? If so, did you have any? Which ones?”*
   “Wait,” Barbara stopped him. “You skipped one."
   “Did I?” he asked, glancing over the list.
   “Yes. This one. *You're out of underwear, what do you do?”* She glanced up at him.
   “Ah, yes,” he replied, knowingly. “I skipped it because it does not apply to me.”
   “I do not wear any.”
     Barbara glanced down. It was purely reactionary, with no forethought whatsoever. Nathaniel’s crotch was a mere foot from her face. When she caught herself staring, she slapped both hands over her face in embarrassment. “Oh my God!” Nathaniel reared back and laughed. Barbara peered through her splayed fingers at him. “What?” she asked in another octave.
   “You are so terribly easy, my dear,” Nathaniel said, shaking his head. “I assure you that I was only joking. Just how is it that Michael would ever dare leave you alone?”
   “Shut up!” Barbara took the paper and slapped the vampire on the arm.
     He grabbed his wounded arm in mock protest and then quickly snatched the paper away from her before she could strike him again. He glanced at the list as Barbara reached for her glass. *If you could have any message printed on your underwear, what would it be? How many bloggers does it take to put panties on a goat?* “Don’t you think you have had too much of that already?” he asked her. She had, but she shook her head dramatically, taking a big gulp and draining what was left.
   “Was that the end of the list?” she asked, wiping her lips with her right hand.
   “I think we have had enough of this as well. Let us just get you to bed.”
   “Oh?” she asked, arching her eyebrows.
   The vampire took his eyes off of the list momentarily and stared back at her. “Oh, please,” he exclaimed, motioning toward her chest. “You think you are cold now!” Barbara immediately crossed her arms at her chest once again. “So easy,” Nathaniel smiled, glancing back to the list one last time. “I do have one question for you, however. I have seen goats in my time.” He glanced her way, mischievously. “I’ve seen panties. Just what the hell is a blogger?”

     Thanks for taking the time, you guys. This underwear challenge gave me the opportunity to post something fun, rather than the usual stuff. I hope you enjoyed it. Part of this challenge was to pass it along to someone else. I didn’t have the time to twist your arm…er, convince you to share the fun, but I hope some of you will think about doing so. I hope you will.

     We’ll talk soon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Safely Treading Water

Hello, Fire Enthusiasts. I'm not the greatest swimmer in the world.


Yeah, I know. I meant to do that.

What I mean to say is it may not take that much for me to cramp up, succumb to the sharp cold or become overwhelmed by the tide. I can swim some, but long distances or storm-whipped waves are going to prove too much for me...

You see, I'm doing the best that I can here, but I go through periods where it can all be a bit much.

I am on Facebook, Twitter, Get Fanged, Shelfari, Goodreads, Dark Media City, Linked In and now Google Plus. I don't tell you that so you can immediately look me up there, although it would be great if you did, and many of you have already done that. No, even as I created my G+ profile last week, I was thinking to myself, "just what in the hell do you think you're doing?". I already hadn't been blogging! I post once a week now, and that seems to be just what the doctor ordered. No, I mean to say that I have failed to visit as many blogs as I would like. I know that I can never keep up with everything and everyone, but I feel some measure of stress if I don't.

Now, I'm supposed to be giving my second novel a edit/rewrite before getting it back to Vamplit Publishing (Hello, Gaynor. *waves*), I need to be working on my next article and I work too...darn many hours. Yeah, that wasn't what I wanted to write there. It wasn't nearly as satisfying as the word "damn" would have been. *laughs*

How are you all doing with "everything" that you wish to be doing? How are you finding that balance?

My hope is that by touching base with all of you, via any number of the social networks that we'll stay connected, show each other some love and simply be there. If you don't see me on your sites, I hope you'll see my mention of you on #WW or #FF on Twitter; my "like" of your posts and comments on FB; etc., etc. That's what I hope anyway.

In the meantime, I really needed this long Labor Day weekend, and I promise you that I didn't just sit here on trusty laptop. I need to, but then again, I don't really need to. Do I?

It's when I try to that I feel like I'm drowning. And that isn't helping anyone, is it?

Before I go, I had a bit of a thrill this week. I saw on Twitter that one of my favorite authors was going on a helicopter trip. All I said to her was to have a safe trip. I had never interacted with her previously that I can recall. A few hours later I was checking trusty iPhone when I saw the following note: Patricia Cornwell is now following Danceauthor.

My mouth is still hanging open. Okay, that isn't the prettiest image, but you get the point. She had less than 100 that she was following and I am in that group. It was and is very humbling.

These shelves are loaded w/ Cornwell books.

I hope everyone had/is having (whatever the case might be) a great weekend.

We'll talk soon.