Friday, March 26, 2010

Lunacon 2010

Yes, I'm finally going to do it!
What? Blog about my event last week.
Why? Because I have another event today and I need to get all caught up.

The biggest and best thing about Lunacon for me was that Tanya Huff was the Author GOH. I would have gone just to see her, so going and getting a chance to sell some books was even better. She had done me the enormous favor and honor of giving me a quote for my first-ever novel, Unbinding the Stone (the one with the blue cover, on the left), one of the best and finest quotes I've ever seen on any book. True story: I went to her signing table, yes with one of her books in hand, and I mentioned that she had quoted my book. I just happened to have a copy of the book with me and put the quote in front of her. She read it and burst out "I loved that book!" As a thank you I gave her the second book, A Warrior Made. Unfortunately, it turns out that even her quotes are done through her agent now, so I can't ask for any comments about my upcoming third novel, St. Martin's Moon. It's a werewolf novel, not in the series of Tarkas books, and I'll be blogging more about it and werewolves in general on the Echelon Explorations blog next week, so tune in there.

Lunacon was a very nice place, lots of good and friendly folks with a great love of SF and books in particular. The dealer room, where I spent most of the weekend, was top-heavy with book vendors, which could have been a problem for a little guy like me. But I only sell Echelon Press titles, which the other vendors do not carry at all, and I and my daughter are very aggressive in dragging in the customers, which many vendors are not. We sold quite a few books, not as many last year but enough to qualify as a successful event, i.e., one that doesn't end up costing me money.

I also got quite a few cards from several of the other vendors there, especially the steampunk dealers for my friend Nick Valentino, author of the YA steampunk novel Thomas Riley. Not that he needs any help from me in promoting his books, but when you can help, why not? We even sold a bunch of mysteries and the usual Western. Really, SF and Westerns have a great deal in common. I can see the need to try to keep them separated but I think it's a doomed effort.

Anyway, time to start loading up the truck. Gotta get ready for ICON!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

short, sweet, and to the point

My wife has given me the most marvelous incentive to post today. If I’m not half done in a half hour, she’ll introduce me to Mr. Baseball Bat. Has there ever been a more loving and supportive spouse?

Today we’re going to step away from the dark and the drear. I’ve tried writing dark and drear, and believe me, I suck at it. Why? Well, horror finds its power situationally, in setting and mood. It paints a room in shades of black and off-black, and then puts up a sign that says ‘You are here.’

The problem is, I don’t write situationally, I write character(al)(ly). And I like to make up my own words, too. But I do write short stories, more and more as time goes on. In the beginning the secret was comedy, or at least, an attempt at comedy, as anyone who’s read my short stories Chasing His Own Tale and Boys Will Be Boys can attest. (Assuming they’re honest.) (And kind.) And if you haven’t read those great stories, click on the links and do so. Go ahead, I’ll wait.


Ah, welcome back. The reason for the comedy is simple. One ball, some flippers, and a bit of skill can keep the player going for hours. Whoops, sorry, I came up with the pinball metaphor while you were gone. Comic stereotypes are like the pop bumpers, you see, and…oh, forget it. The point is, you don’t need a lot of action to make it look like a lot of action, as any politician could tell you.

Buy it here, now. It's fictionwise!

Over time, the comedy in my stories has dropped away considerably, but never completely, although there are some people (Karen) who will tell you that I’m a comic author. I’m not, really, I just have a keen sense of the absurd, and I’m very observant. Reality can be much stranger, which is why my later stories (nice segue, eh?) are much more rooted in the real and the weird. Sandi von Pier, the star of Off the Map is completely real, but let’s face it, reality TV? How real is that? I just made it…unrealer. And Ex Libris, the sort-of sequel to Off the Map (which is published in the Triangulations anthology, for those of you who clicked the link to BUY NOW and didn’t understand what you were looking at), is set in my own library, even though I don’t think the librarians there are secret commandos.

By far the least comic of all my short stories is Bite Deep, and it’s no surprise that it was the hardest to write. Of course, it didn’t help that I had to get it done in two weeks. Well, that and the fact that it tried to combine three of the world’s great mythologies into a 4000-word short story about vampires at Christmas. And succeeded, I’ll have you know!

So I guess the takeaway from all this is that writing short stories is hard work, that can be accomplished in more than one way, and that we should all try to get along because life is short and there’s no time to waste fighting each other when we could all be doing something much more pleasant like reading my books.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Bring on the bad guys!

It’s been a strange week for me, vampire-wise. Not only is the theme of this week’s blogs ‘Vampires’, but just yesterday I saw a hilarious comedy, Lesbian Vampire Killers, and one of my stories, ‘Bite Deep’, became available for reissue. I have to admit, I’m something of a purist when it comes to certain subjects. Monsters are one of those subjects, and vampires are monsters. Even the lesbian ones.

There are those who like the ‘glitter in the sun’ vampires. Some balk at the glitter but have no problem with sexy heroism. Some dislike the sex but have no problem with dark brooding heroism. And let’s not forget the science fiction version, vampirism as a disease with blood as the cure.

Not me. Vampires are monsters, whether the story is a comedy or a tragedy. They are defined by all manner of bad things.

Of course, they can also be good characters. The man whose own nature betrays him, or the wicked sinner who gets what he deserves. A creature that was once a man but now isn’t can still work up a good case of angst, trying to be what it had been. The awareness of fading humanity is good ground for tragedy if the victim was a good man, and villainy if he was not. Or perhaps the awareness of fading humanity will lead a villain to try to become a good man, far too late. Dark and brooding non-heroism.

So far I have used vampires twice. My novel A Warrior Made features a villain who becomes the first vampire. Surprised the hell out of me, too, I didn’t realize that’s what he was until after I’d finished the book. ‘Bite Deep’ features the People of the Fallen Blood, born of an evil act and spending their immortality trying to atone for it. I was asked to write a story about fire. Somehow that became a vampire Christmas Carol. It was the right season, at least.

Don’t get me started about werewolves–!