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Administrative Announcement: Return from Hiatus

Hello

So this is late, but I hope you guys had wonderful holidays.  I spent most of mine sick.  It sucked 😦

Yes, it’s been a LONG time since I last posted here.  I had all these grand ambitions and even wrote a list of topics I was going to blog about after crossing over from unpublished to published author. 

It’s funny how life catches up with you.

A few administrative things:

There will be print copies of Communion (that’s right, get excited).

I will posting my sales stats from Oct. to Dec. soon

There will be a sequel to Communion, at least two if I have my way.  The working title for book 2 is Integral.

When I started writing this post a few days ago, I only had a basic (VERY basic) list of ideas for Integral.  Right now I’m toying with which social issue to address in Integral.

For those of you who have read Communion, the “moral” my character learns is the best way to handle his bullies is to have a group of good friends.  Of course, Les learns this in the hardest way and after several loses. 

I’ll be doing more research all weekend to nail a new issue down and I plan to begin the first draft as early as February. 

I’ll be back with more soon. 

Stay tuned.

B.

COMMUNION PREVIEW: Chapter 2

The man sitting across the table from me looked just like me, except he was older and his hair was cut short and professional.  We usually had dinner together every evening.  It was his way of trying to keep us close after my mom left.

“I got a call from Mr. Johnston at work today.”

But he wasn’t like me.  Otherwise he would have known to leave this subject alone.

I let my fork scoop my rice into a pile I now felt too nauseated to eat.  A grain had fallen off onto the pseudo-wood of the table.  It reminded me that we once covered it with a table cloth before eating.

“And?”

“He told me there was another incident with Jay.  You wanna tell me about it?”

“There’s nothing to say.”

I looked from my plate to the dust bunnies on top of the book-case in the living room.  Then back down.  My dad chewed his food in quick, powerful meetings of his mandible and maxilla.

“Well, I’ve told you before the best way to handle a bully,” he said, food not fully chewed.

“Yeah, walk up to him in front of all his friends and bust him right in the face.  Right, Dad?”

“That’s the best way there is.”

“That’s the suicidal way.  Jay’s like twice my size.  He’d demolish me.”

His fork dinged against the plate.  “Son, bullying is about dominance.  You stop being his easy prey and show him you’re going to fight back, and he’ll think twice.”

“Is that before he smashes me for challenging him in front of everyone, or after?  God forbid he gets his friends to join in.”

“He’d be shocked.  And it might lead to a fight.  Just try your best to hold your own before the teachers break it up.  You don’t have to win the fight; you just have to send a message.”

“I’ll pass.  Besides, I stood up to him last year and that didn’t go well.”

“That was before your growth spurt.  And those mixed martial arts lessons I paid for.  You need to do something to defend yourself.  This running away won’t cut it,” he said.

I looked up at him.  I didn’t know where this new resolve came from, but it only irritated me further.  Maybe he didn’t like being silent when his work buddies shared family stories around the water cooler.

“Are you finally tired of having a weak son?”

“If I said I was, would you finally stop being a little bitch?”

I pushed my food away and got up.  I wanted to hit something again.

As my feet stomped the floor, I thought about Jay’s punches.  One had knocked my head straight back into a combination lock.  It happened almost six months ago but the pain was still palpable.  I wasn’t sure if those hits or my dad’s words hurt more.

I needed to be alone.  It was the only time the world made sense.

I lost myself in a tale about monsters and magic on the synthetic pages of my e-reader.

If only I could go on a quest to obtain a magic spell that would incinerate Jadarius.  Or, even better, one that would make my mom come back.  But that kind of stuff didn’t exist in the real world.  Only the magic the other guy must have used when he got my mom to cheat on my dad.

My stomach growled and I realized two hours had passed since my first attempt at dinner.  I could warm up the remains, but the food would bring back memories of the conversation.

I put on my hoodie— the leather jacket from last year had been ruined— and left.  My dad didn’t say anything when I passed by the couch on the way out.

***

There weren’t any noticeable hills in Concord Hills.  Nature was sparse, only coming along in residential neighborhoods and in isolated plots of land along the roads.  Long, tiresome stretches of road.  Route 8 ran northeast to southwest through half of the town.  Running northwest to southeast was Route 343, which eventually led to Crain Highway, which could lead to Washington, D.C.

Concord Hills usually wasn’t in the conversation with other metropolitan towns, but it had a fair number of commuters, my dad being one of them.

I parked away from the building, my car facing a small wooded area that separated this parking lot from another.  I hadn’t decided yet whether I would eat inside McDonald’s or come back to my car.  I was still starved for isolation.

Before exiting, I noticed a dumpster in the corner of the lot.  I collected my trash on the floorboards:  loose leaf sheets of paper, napkins, and a few empty coffee cups.  I stuffed everything into a bag and tossed it into the large, asymmetrical jade cube.  I turned toward the building but stopped.  I did a double-take and then walked behind the dumpster to confirm what I couldn’t believe.

A body.  The battered body of a white female.  Splotches of her white skin were interrupted by blood and bruises.  I couldn’t tell if the putrid smell came from her or the dumpster.

“Damn…”

An already lousy day had become the opening sequence in a Law and Order episode.  But there would be no transition to the police scene unless I made the call.  I took out my phone to dial 9-1-1, stealing another glimpse at her face.  My finger never made it to the “1” digit.  Instead, breathless, I shifted to get a better look.

“Oh my God…  Guinevere.”

The recognition forced a mixture of emotions.  Guilt.  Even though I was merely the one to find the body, I indirectly felt as if I had done the crime myself.  Sadness.  The world would be less bright without her.  And regret.  I would never get another chance to make a move.

Taking a closer look, I noticed the blood was caked on her and there wasn’t any running off on the pavement beneath her.   While I wasn’t a detective, I had a suspicion her body had been moved.

“I’m sorry, Gwynn,” I said.

I leaned closer to the body, one last time.  She was now just a mass of pale white flesh, purple bruises, and a layer of red grime.  Before I could take another breath, her eyes shot open and she closed the distance between us in a flash.

I caught a glimpse of the sparkle created by the street light reflecting off her elongated teeth, right before I felt her arms lock me in a vice grip and a sharp pain in my neck.

A sound somewhere between a cough and a shout caught in my throat.  My head tilted back and I not only saw the black of night beyond the Golden Arches, but crimson and purple shimmering and swirling lazily in a stream.

Black consumed the other colors until it became the only thing I saw.

***

Find out what happens when Lester awakens in Communion, available Oct. 1st.

Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity (C3) Conference 2013

Back from my first writer’s conference (EVER!) and had a complete and thorough BLAST!  Before I say anything else, if you’ve never been to a conference before SIGN. UP. FOR. ONE. NOW!

(Actually, registration for C3 2014 is available now)

My enthusiasm should be reaching through your computer screen and getting in your face and shouting, “DO IT!  DO IT!” If not, go back to the beginning and read it over again.

So now that you can fathom my sheer elation for everything I gained at this conference, let’s talk about a few of the MANY things I learned.

Go even if you’re shy!

While those of you who have met me via Twitter or Wattpad may find it hard to believe, I’m actually a fairly shy guy.  I stutter whenever I get nervous or excited (it happens a lot and it’s very annoying).  I gave my pitch for Communion a couple of times and it sounded horrible!  “T-the v-vampires are ext-t-tinct…” But everyone I talked to was really cool about it and listened and even seemed impressed by the story.

Bring cards

A conference is a networking event and, like any networking event, you need a convenient way to exchange information.  Some writers will make a lasting impression on you (and vice versa), but it still may be hard to remember their name on Monday when you return to the 9-to-5.

Make sure to budget for buying books

Actually, I did this one.  I originally set aside $50 to purchase books that appealed to me or books of authors whose panels I attended or of those I happened to chat with and liked.   I went over-budget at the conference and still didn’t buy ALL of the books I wanted.  But that’s ok because I collected business cards– which you’re gonna do, right?

The Conference Continues at the Bar

So I don’t know if you’ve ever had a drink with an 11-time NYT Bestseller or an author who’s written for both Marvel and DC, but I did.  Because I went to a conference! (See how this works?)  Every topic is on the table while at the bar.  Writing tips, what writers REALLY think of their publishers, and even life advice.

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’ll definitely be attending the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity conference next year.  Actually, I was asked (read:  politely told) to be a panelist.  So, if you want to see me speak (read: stutter) my way through a session on first-time authors, SIGN UP!

I’m going to a Writer’s Conference!

I’ll be attending Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity in Baltimore, MD in September.

No, this isn’t to promote my debut novel Communion.  Maybe one day I’ll have that kind of following, but right now I’m simply going as an unpublished author and a fan, looking to network.

There are a bunch of panes I’m looking forward to.  Some are easy choices, such as

What makes a hero
Building a great series
Magic in “real life” and fiction

But, like all conferences, there’s always that hour that has TWO panels you want to attend at the same time.  I’m torn between ‘What to Expect from Publishers and Editors’ (has a lot of business implications) and ‘Handling Sex in Crime/Fantasy Fiction’ (let’s just say things get steamy in the Communion sequel).

Ordered 500 bookmarks.  Gotta get rid of all of them before August 1st

Ordered 500 bookmarks. Gotta get rid of all of them before October 1st

I’ll also be looking for booths ran by any authors who have self-published their books as ebooks only.  I’m interested in doing this at some point in the future, but it would be nice to get some ideas on how it’s done first.

I won’t purchase a table for myself, but I will be giving out Communion bookmarks to anyone I happen to talk to.

But, it’s the first conference I’ll be attending… EVER.  Any tips?

Sparkly Vampires

There’s a lot of diversity within the vampire genre.  Every author who writes about the creatures of the night is expected to do something unique to make theirs stand out.  There’s no one RIGHT way to use vampires.

However, no matter how many vampire fans I talk to, there seems to be one constant WRONG way, and that is to have your vampires sparkle in the daylight.

I admit, as a guy, sparkly vampires wouldn’t be my first choice for distinctive traits.  But whenever I run into something that is constantly ridiculed it gets me thinking.  And when I get to thinking, I get to writing, and then…

I bet you I can take something as LAME as sparkly vampires and make them totally badass.  Check out my free Wattpad story Sparkle to see if I lived up to the challenge.

Communion: Back Cover Summary

Image

I’ve heard good things about the cover for Communion.  The job of a book cover is to draw the reader’s attention so, out of all the other books they’re looking at, the reader picks up yours.  But once they pick it up, it’s the back cover summary that should convince them to open up the first page.

Here’s what I have for Communion:

“Lester Fuller knows isolation well. It has been his only friend since Jadarius Singleton humiliated him last year. But one night after Jadarius’s taunts go too far, Lester stumbles upon Gwynn’s body.  He’s sure she’s dead.  Until she bites him.

Vampires are extinct. There are only the dhampir.

Now something more than human, Lester struggles to determine where he fits in this new society. Just what secrets about the dhampir are his new friends keeping from him? And what will he do when a notorious figure from dhampir history sets her eyes on him?”

This has gone through several iterations.  Most recently, I took out the buzzwords, such as bullying.  Bullying plays a heavy role in Communion.  Jadarius is Lester’s bully.  Lester first meets Camellia because she’s a school psychologist who specializes in bullying.

But because bullying is thrown around so much in stories and in society nowadays, I didn’t want it to be used in the summary.  Instead I used words like “isolation”, “humiliation”, and point out Lester’s lack of friends.  What do you think?  Should our books’ back cover summaries use buzzwords?