Stalk me elsewhere

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?


*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.