Archive for the ‘Blog’ Category

I love to leave references in my work, Easter eggs, as it were.  Some of them are much less obvious than others.  The name of one of my protagonists, Lilja Perhonen, is one, a big one.  I also leave clues that are sort of homages to writers that have had a large impact on me.

Take this excerpt from my second book, Sword of the Butterfly:

“Wilbraham?” came the inevitable summons, the professor moving his head around as though in search of whom this may be, though nearly all of the small body of the class had by now been announced.

“Here, sir,” he finally spoke, his voice an odd mixture of deep, gruff, but with a scratch of break, as though of pubescence or merely suffering from some chronic allergy.

“That is a good, old name from England,” Professor Edwards remarked with utmost sincerity, then consulting his list, looking back up, “Pothos? That’s your first name?”

Pothos nodded, slowly, almost laboriously.

“Your parents must also be students of mythology to give you a great name like that,” the instructor carried on, letting his dark, bushy eyebrows rise as though throwing a question mark onto the supposition.

That alludes to what becomes a huge Easter egg.  It also references an experience I had back in college, but I wouldn’t expect anyone to figure that out.  The layers do begin to get a little complicated, and sometimes I forget why I crafted things the way I did.  Still, I think it adds to the journey, and I hope there are those who discover these things and feel the same.

If you’ve read my work and think you have some guessed, please leave a comment.  If you have not, then grab a book and begin the hunt!

My Amazon Author Page

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Finding Books

Posted: December 4, 2017 in Blog
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Have you ever read a book just for the cover or title?  Have you ever just randomly grabbed a book and decided to read it?  I don’t usually do that.  I tend to over-research when I am looking for something new to buy.  If I don’t go that route, it is usually a recommendation from friends.

One time, though, I was in a large book store (I forget which, but it was a big one like Barnes & Noble), and none of the books on my to-buy list were there.  Rather than leave empty-handed, I decided to look over the spines and pick one that lured me.  I found Noir by K.W. Jeter.  Now, this may illustrate my own failings since before then, I did not even know about K.W. Jeter.  Allow me to apologize for this.  But I saw the title, the aesthetic of the cover, and I thought, ‘if it’s called Noir, it had better be good.’  I figured the author was pretty ballsy to use that title, so I felt it was worth the chance.

It did not disappoint.  I was blown away, and it has become one of my favorite novels.  Not only that, but it obviously led to my learning of Jeter, and I have since gotten more of his works.

I am somewhat cynical when it comes to covers, but I am less so regarding titles.  In my opinion, the titles and cover should be representative of the contents of the story; however, it’s an abstract.  The results of this will vary from person to person.  Some publishers also have control over the cover image, title, blurb, etc. so it may be a less sincere marketing effort.  Of course, we have to glean new readers somehow, right?  Titles and cover art work in that effort.

So, do you ever just randomly pick a book?  If so, how do you make your choice?


Books on Shelf

 

Karma?

Posted: November 9, 2017 in Blog
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I am not much of a believer in karma; however, I did witness an interesting experience once that does give the idea some credence.

Many years ago, and I met a guy at work who had moved from Arkansas. He had family back there, waiting for him to discern if this was a good move, so he was living in an efficiency apartment until he made up his mind. We hit it off and became friends, and in conversation about what he did for entertainment, it came out that he did not do much. Obvious, really, considering he had upended himself and gone alone to a new place just to check out a job prospect. I offered to have him come along with me and some others on an outing to a nightclub we frequented. He agreed.

Just to add some flavor, I will mention that this guy was relatively normal-seeming. This is just my commentary and not judgement. He did become friends with me, after all, so he could not have been that normal. We were headed to Numbers, which is not only Houston’s longest-lived nightclub but also has a reputation for being a bit “different”. I have been going for years, and I feel right at home there.

The guy from my work (let’s call him “Mike”) really took to the place. He loved the music and was really enjoying himself. Let’s just say that there was much dancing and drinking. At one point, he said he had to go to the bathroom. The restrooms at Numbers are notorious, even more so back then than now, so I decided to accompany him. He was clearly tipsy, at least, so I felt compelled to be something of a guide.

The men’s is small, two urinals and three stalls. And the condition is usually horrid. Sometimes, there might be a nice, shallow sheen of liquid waiting in the stall area. You might find other substances in there, too, some ready to go in, others having come out. There might be more than one person stuffed into those stalls. When we showed up, there was a small line of guys waiting, thought a urinal was open. You can imagine why there was a queue for the stalls and available urinals. Mike looked around, a bit confused, and I waved him to the open space.

I killed time, since I didn’t need to use the facilities. Another guy came in, and he balked at the crowd, doing a little jig and declaring he really had to go. He glanced around, then went right for Mike, probably because he was the least threatening or most normal looking in there. I wondered what was going on, so I paid close attention. They exchanged a few words, then Mike finished up and let the guy have the urinal. Apparently, the guy had been so pressed he had cut in line and convinced Mike to pass the torch, as it were, giving him quick access to relief.

We left, and my friend was laughing. He showed me that the guy had slipped him a few bills to ‘buy’ the cut in line. Considering the others were waiting on stalls, this was even more amusing. We got back to the bar, and Mike unfolded the crumbled currency – two one’s and a fifty.

I was shocked. Clearly the guy had not intended to give him $52. I encouraged Mike to go find him. The club was very crowded, so that did not happen. What did happen was Mike managed to somehow lose a lens from his glasses while dancing. We looked around, but that thing had escaped. It cost him fifty dollars.

I am not sure if some bizarre universal sense of fairness invoked its power that evening, but it sure was an odd, interesting, and fun experience.

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Well, we’re almost done with October. Let’s see what we have as we draw toward a close.

22: Publishing Tales – aside from some very rudimentary self-publishing and the occasional feature on a webpage, I did not get published until recently. I submitted queries to a handful of publishers, and before I could even figure out who would be in round two, I was lucky enough to find someone to publish my first novel. Thank you, Optimus Maximus.

23: TBW – To Be Written – I have several irons in the fire, as it were, which is usually the case. Once I complete the third (& likely final) book in my Butterfly series, I have two other novels to work on, probably three, maybe more. The two are vampire related, though they are not connected. Both deal with different ideas of how vampires began. I am looking forward to working on both. The third deals with wizards and dragons, but it is not a typical fantasy tale.

24: RP:Rejection stories – I made a lengthy post on this. You can read it here.

25: Horror Story – I grew up with asthma, horrible asthma. It nearly killed me once. I was in a hospital emergency room, and they were losing me, so they life-flighted me from that hospital to another one more suited to handle such trauma.

26: Scary-Awesome Bloggers – Nicolajayne Taylor, Meghan at  The Gal in the Blue Mask, and Patricia Statham at Books to Curl Up With.

27: Best Writing Candy – if I am going to eat candy while I write, it needs to be some kind of dark chocolate, maybe with ginger or chili in it, but definitely dark chocolate.

28: Book Babies – I don’t know what is meant by this prompt, soooo, I am going to skip it.

And there we are! I’ll wrap up Oct next week and bring us into November. Thank you all for being here, and if you are interested in my writing, please visit my Amazon Author Page for my books.

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I have been doing the #IGWritersOct, which, ironically, is primarily an Instagram thing, but hey, let’s think outside the box. It has been an interesting effort, and today’s prompt is “RIP:Rejection stories”. I have a lot of those.

The first time I ever formally submitted was back in the early 90’s. I was in the throes of basically churning out pages and pages that were deeply derivative of Lovecraft’s work. I will call them weird fiction, but they were really more my finding my own voice within the appreciation of another author.

This was back in the days before the internet, and I was mailing off my submissions to various magazines. I never got published this way, though I came close once. One of them asked me to cut a story down a great deal, and I labored over it, finally getting to the length they wanted only for them to reject it a second time.

I did not submit again until some years later, throwing together a query letter for a novel. I had a copy of the Writer’s Market, if I recall correctly, and this thick, hardbound book set me back a decent amount. I put together many letters, SASE’s (how many people today even know what those are?), and the envelopes upon envelopes I licked. I went to the local post office with stacks of sealed-up hopes. I received letters from most of these, and none of them were successful.

I then tried again some time later with another novel. This one epic, beastly in size (nearly a thousand pages), and I tried sending my queries this time to agents and publishers. As before, I received many replies, mostly all form letters, all rejections.

I let my interest subside. I still wrote, though not as much. It took more than a decade for me to realize I had nearly abandoned a great creative love of my life. I remember driving up to Barnes & Nobles once, and I turned off my car and sat there. I looked at the store, and I thought of all the books in there. None of them were written by me. I felt a wave of depression hit me. My fairly routine desire to go in and find something new to read had fled, and all I could think about was my own lack of publication. I left.

Fortunately, I found new inspiration and wrote my current series (still working on the third). I was lucky enough to find a publisher, and now you can find my books out there if you are so inclined. And I hope you are.

 

October is just zooming by. A lot is going on, and it can be difficult to stay focused, but let’s roll with the third week of IG Writers month and see what we get.

15: Fav. Scary Read – Okay, this is timely. It by Stephen King. I enjoy horror stories, but they rarely actually scare more. I usually find them to be darkly entertaining, but to experience real fear whilst reading one is uncommon. I have read a few stories recently by some independent authors that gave me some trepidation and fright. Thank you Carmilla Voiez and Jeffrey Kosh. The Exorcist also scared me, but It is my favorite. I love the novel, and I have read it several times.

16: Writer Foods/Fuel – Coffee. There is no specific food I associate with writing. In fact, I rarely eat while writing. There is always a drink on hand, though, and it is usually coffee.

17: Author Crush – I don’t really have one.  There are several authors I’d like to me, but no crushing is happening.

18: Page 13 of your WIP – I made a post about this on my Twitter. Feel free to check it out.

19: Book Dedication – Dance of the Butterfly is a tale that very nearly did not happen.  It took time to take  hold and even more time to truly blossom.  Were it not for the ceaseless help of a very dear, close friend, it would not have been done.  In a very real way, it parallels that relationship, taking from that story to add to its own.  For this, I deeply thank you, Jane.

20: Killed Darlings – I am not sure I like this one being here. A killed darling generally comes with a shock. If I say who has died in my books, then the shock is gone. If you have not yet read them, you would not be emotionally invested, anyway. Suffice it to say, there are some. Read to find out.

21: Plot-Twist – I love these. Both of my books have a few and the third will as well. I enjoy setting things up and having a few different twists and turns happen throughout. I also like to use red herrings, and one in my first book is layered with some subtle referencing. I have even followed patterns in my series, so that, in itself, becomes a clue.

There we are. I hope you have enjoyed this third week of IGWriters month. Please do visit my Amazon Author Page for my published works. I’d love to have you as a reader.

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And it continues …

So, I feel stupid. The IG in IGWritersOct is for Instagram. I don’t use Instagram, just set up a meager little account. I’ll have to get more into it, but I digress.

8: BRAINstorming – another one I am not sure what they mean, but basically, my brainstorms generally come from dreams. I pull from my dreams for a great deal of my inspiration. My urban fantasy series began from three different such experiences. My other form of brainstorming is more deliberate, and it happens when I really focus on the story and maybe talk it out or plot it and see what I may be missing or what can be added. Completely unexpected ideas have come from this, and I value the technique.

9: Writing Adventures – Yes, I can do that. Ah, but maybe they mean adventures that happened to me because of writing. I had my first convention as a published author at this year’s Scares that Cares. That was very exciting. I got to meet my publisher face to face along with other authors and friends. It was a great weekend.

10: Mental Health & Writing – I would say that writing can be very therapeutic. The way I write, though, it can also be difficult. I really get into my writing, and sometimes it spawns unpleasant feelings. There are some scenes that once I wrote them, I had difficulty editing them. Once edited, I don’t read them again.

11: Handwriting Sample – I am going to pass on this one. I rarely use handwriting for anything at all in my life.

12: Pantser or Plotter – I do both. I generally plot out the major points, then I fill in the blanks and details with stream-of-consciousness writing. That seems pretty much by the seat of the pants.

13: Writing Rituals – I don’t really have one of these, though my writing usually does not get done without some coffee on hand. I sometimes choose very specific music to help, and then it is on low volume.

14: Dead Manuscripts – Oh, boy, do I have these. I have thousands of pages of unpublished poetry, short stories, even novels. Most of those are incomplete, but there are two that are complete and one that was about 95%. Looking back on them, very few seem worthy of resurrection.

And that’s another week! I hope you enjoyed, found something thoughtful, or in some way found value here. Thank you for reading. Comments and questions are always welcome, and if you are interested in my published works, please visit my Amazon Author Page.

Thanks!

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So, this month is IGWriters month. I wish I could tell you what the IG stands for or what brought this on, but here it is. Take a breath, and let’s dive in.

1: INTL Coffee Day – great! I love coffee. I generally drink a Vietnamese instant coffee during the week, so that is international, assuming INTL stands for international. If you want to learn about a quite exotic coffee, I suggest kopi luwak. It’s expensive and partially digested! Give it a try, and let me know how it is.

2: Your WIP – I am currently working on the third book in my dark urban fantasy series. It will be different from the first two, and it will probably be the end of the main story.  Here is an excerpt:

It is a large man, his suit jacket open, clothing showing disheveled, torn, bloodstained, and if the darkly-coated butcher knife in his fist were not sign enough, his eyes bleed out with a strange, red hue.  Those orbs see Lilja and the other three, and he roars out, eating a few precious seconds before he launches himself at his prey.

3: Writing Tools – I use a computer. I began with a typewriter. I have hand written a few things, but for the vast majority of my writing, I have used a keyboard of one type or another.

4: Writing w/ animals – I am not sure what to say on this one. I don’t use animals to write, and I don’t have a pet. No cute pics of a cat trying to get my attention as I tap away at the keys.

5: Author Bucket List – This was another one I was not entirely sure about. I suppose my author bucket list is to someday make a living as an author. I’d also like to visit the regions in Europe that I used as inspiration for the setting of my first two books.

6: What makes you smile – a lot does, actually. Spending time with my family usually leads to a great deal of laughter. I also love talking to my readers. That will often get a smile on my face.

7: Your favorite character – Another tough one. I suppose this is meant to mean a character of my own design. I am going to ignore the obvious and look to a minor character who still played a big role and choose Interpol Inspector Gaspare Duilio. He is a corrupt officer who ends up playing a part in all three books. Not only do I find him an interesting and many-layered person, but the experiences he has and how they shape him allow him to show further depth and have a larger impact on the overall tale.

And that is it for the first week. I hope you enjoyed. Feel free to leave any comments are ask any questions you may have. Please also visit my author page and read my books! Thank you.

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Since I got into this independent author/publication thing, I have met a lot of others also involved, whether other writers or publishers, editors, promoters, etc., etc. A lot. It’s easier to get published now and to reach a potential audience with all the amazing tools we have available to us. I used social media to find my publisher, and I am grateful for it. It’s a small group of us, and we’re still learning and getting started, but it’s an amazing journey, and I like to think we’re all helping each other.

But it doesn’t stop there.

With the social media explosion, it is easier to find others, whether colleagues, agents, audience, or whatever the case may be. It also means a lot more out there. It can become white noise. I hate to say it is like separating the wheat from the chaff, because that sounds elitist. There may well be a suffering of quality, though, as these very vehicles are used to increase the quantity. This means a huge supply. There is certainly demand, but it becomes an issue of getting the potentially fleeting notice of that audience. Look here! This is me! Buy my book!

This could lead to a situation within the independent world of a lot of cut-throat competition. I will not take this approach. I feel like we are all in this together, and those of us making sincere efforts to share our creations and enrich the world with this art ought to cooperate, not compete. I share the works of other authors and try to help promote blogs, events, groups and other methods of just opening the lines of communication and awareness.

I feel very strongly that this is the way to go about it. There is so much wonderful work out there, we might as well bring as much as we can of the whole world to the buffet and let them pick what they want.

Help yourself. Help us. Help each other. Tell your friends about it. And read, read, read.


Please feel free to follow me on My Facebook Page or check out My Amazon Author Page for my published works.

Thank you.

Follow the Butterfly

Hurricane Harvey

Posted: August 31, 2017 in Blog
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I live in the Houston area, and Hurricane Harvey just passed through. A storm that was not so long ago said to possibly be reforming proved to be the strongest to hit the USA in many decades, coming ashore as a Category Four. It also decided to linger, saturating the region with nigh-unceasing rain for four days. Needless to say, this caused major flooding, and my heart goes out to those who suffered this. I was lucky.

I never lost power. The water ended up covering the street I live on, and it crept up over the sidewalk. That was it. I had plenty of supplies and only myself to directly take care of. As I mentioned, I was lucky.

This is not the first hurricane I have been through, having lived nearly my entire life in this area. It was certainly the strongest. We avoided a direct hit, but being on the dirty side of the storm, we took in a great deal of rain. I heard of friends who lost their cars; their houses took on water. It is undoubtedly a catastrophe.

It will take some time for things to get back to normal. Some rivers will not achieve normal levels for days if not weeks. I heard of a chemical plant that lost power, thus losing refrigeration for volatile product. They are experiencing multiple explosions, and an evacuation of the immediate area has been issued.

This may not have been my first big storm, but they are never easy. One toils with the decision of staying or evacuating. If you choose to stay, you deal with so many others as you all clamor to gather supplies. If you go, you may be stuck in traffic that could exhaust your fuel supply. Fill your tanks, the signs on the freeway suggest, and it is good advice.

I know the area has been hit hard. I have seen the pictures, heard the stories. I hope those of you still dealing with this get through it as quickly and painlessly as possible. My thoughts are with you.