December. Everyone is busy with holiday activities, including shopping, parties and all kinds of events as another calendar year draws to a close. I have a couple of weeks between teaching assignments at the college. With any luck, I’ll get a little writing done. Time will tell.
So let’s catch up on some things related to writing, an interview with another author and music from an old favorite band. There’s also a holiday surprise too!
This year I participated in more book events than ever before. Many of these were outdoor festivals. Some were one day. Others were two. A few I’d been to before. Like anything else, it was a period of trial and error. But it was educational, to say the least. Here’s a quick rundown of what I’ve learned.
The best shows for me, which resulted in sales, were those that offered multiple options to the customers. Some had artists, photographers, custom made jewelry and crafters. In a few of these, my booth was the only one with books. It was beneficial for me to share my space with another author, such as Samantha Moran or Cecilia A. Garcia. They write in different genres from mysteries, which may have helped to draw customers in for all of us.
One event that was solely focused on books, a multi-author event, did not attract many people into the venue. The location may have played a role in this. The building was almost a quarter of a mile back from the main road, behind another business. There was little signage to attract people driving by at fifty miles per hour (or more). Despite the social media efforts of the forty participants, few people showed up. While I did make a few sales, these primarily went to other authors. It was an opportunity to network with other authors, which can always be helpful.
Another venue was reasonably priced, but it was a first-time event, set way back on a country road that saw little traffic. Once again, without any means to bring people in, there were few sales.
I consider these festivals a great opportunity to connect with potential readers and build relationships. Several times this year I had customers return to buy another book in one of the series. When someone goes out of their way to follow me and purchase another one of my books, that makes all the efforts worthwhile.
During the summer I didn’t hesitate to sign up for outdoor events. Usually the weather cooperated, which helped to bring the patrons out. I did push the envelope a bit and participated in one outdoor festival in the middle of October. That resulted in a cold, rainy miserable day. Going forward, I’ll pick indoor shows after the end of September.
Location and the mixture of vendors is a factor I’ll be considering seriously for next year’s schedule.
Work in Progress
The crime novel featuring Leo Agonasti continues to slowly come together. My plan is to return to this tale as much as possible during the break between semesters. With 42,000 words written, that’s about half of the story. My target is 80,000. It may go a bit longer, depending on whatever antics Leo and his buddy Max get into.
Ideas for new scenes and another subplot need more development, but that’s part of my process. It’s not unusual to be writing one scene and have another one jump from my brain to my fingertips with little consideration. From conversations with other authors, this is not uncommon.
Nice to know I have company in that process.
Whenever multiple authors congregate in one place, I like to take a few minutes to get to know some of the talented people in attendance. That happened again in November when I was able to meet Jamie Samland. Here’s a chance to get to know him a little better.
Tell something about yourself and how you became an author.
I credit my 4th grade teacher for why I wanted to be an author. I always enjoyed writing but she told me, “You can only use pen once you publish a book.” That was 30 years ago, so who knows if she actually said it, but I took it as a life goal. Note, I used a pen plenty of times before I published my first book. I wrote something like a book in late high school, then again in college. Fast forward to 2020, when I was about to test for my first degree black belt in taekwondo. I saw that as an old goal I was finally meeting, so I picked up writing again. My first book came out within a few weeks of testing for my third degree.
Do you ever imagine one of your novels being made into a movie or television series?
I’m sure every author does. Before I really started on any of the books, I was planning one with my partner and casting who would play all the roles.
Any favorite actors you’d cast in the lead roles?
Judy Dench. I want Judy Dench to play Venica. If I could have her, I couldn’t be happier. I don’t care who plays anything else.
What is your writing process? For instance, do you create an outline first? Do you write the chapters in sequence?
I used to be a 100% pantser. It wasn’t until Arcanym, my 5th novel, that I really stopped to plan out every chapter, scene, and character arc. I had a good amount of the book in mind before I did, though. Now with Grave Mistakes, I planned everything before I started drafting. That still left tons of space to pants. There was a scene that ended with Gabriela snapping her fingers, saying, “That gives me an idea!” …and I had no idea what the plan was. I had to go for a long walk to think about it.
Tell us a little bit about the characters in your latest book.
Gabriela only knows life through the books in her mother’s library. Having only three others to talk to, she’s invented the lives for all her skeleton and ghost friends in town.
Venica is her mother, a powerful mage that doesn’t talk about her past. She’s instilled a “mother knows best” frame of mind into her daughter.
Lord Sebastian has become my favorite character that I’ve created, which is saying a lot, because of Aiden in Trials of Throk’tar. Sebastian is wise cracking, ultra protective, but also exists as only a suit of animated armor.
Brynmor is an entitled noble that, I hope, learns by the end that he isn’t as great as he believes.
Eleanor hates her job cleaning up Brynmor’s messes, but it pays well and gives her lots of downtime between town to work on designing magical devices.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
A bit of both. Sometimes I’ll alter a character within the span of a 3,000 word chapter and need to go back to their profiles to update. Sometimes I’ll make up a character on the fly, perhaps a barmaid or flute-playing satyr, and they totally take over the scene. Others I have firmly in mind, but they still surprise me by how they react to the setting.
What is your latest book about?
It’s a standard boy meets girl, boy touches girl without consent, girl shoves boy down a flight of steps, breaking his neck.
Grave Mistakes is a dark fantasy comedy following Gabriela in her race to resurrect Viscount Brynmor before his uncle finds out and starts a war. She’s joined by her quirky knight protectorate, Lord Sebastian, and annoying poltergeist, Aura.
But of course, Brynmor’s uncle already has agents in play. Eleanor Lane is a magical researcher tasked with cleaning up Brynmor’s messes and paying off bar tabs, and it is she that discovers he might have died at the bottom of the stairs. The uncle sends Commander Valoria Ravell to accompany and return Brynmor’s body at all costs. Dead would be just as good for his needs.
Let’s see an excerpt!
“Ghosts!” said Brynmor. “They do exist!”
Lord Sebastian chuckled down from the horse. “I have some terrible news for you, good sir.”
“Best to be over-prepared.” Lord Sebastian reached into his coffin, taking his left hand in both of his gloves. He turned, offering it to Gabriela, who quickly fumbled a bag from her belt. “That was my second favorite hand. I don’t think I like the marquess quite enough to give him my best.”
Not until her mother allowed her to attempt the resurrection, knowing it would be Aura’s end. Queen Venica quietly put that decision into Gabriela’s hands without warning. Though, she never expected it to come to this point.
Gabriela parted her lips to speak but could only manage a quaking breath. She breathed in slowly, squeezing her eyes tight. “I’ll never forget you, Aura.”
“I wish we could have grown up together.”
If she didn’t act now, she never would. Gabriela ripped the ghostly tethers from her chest, feeling a spreading chill where they connected. Once free, they came apart easily. Brynmor’s felt like a brittle, rusted chain, but Aura’s… Hers faded, dissolving like sugar in water, slipping through Gabriela’s fingers.
Just like that. There was no chance for a last word or to wave as her ghostly frame dimmed.
What’s the next project you’ll be working on?
Faebound is portal fantasy, where a modern-day couple from somewhere-Michigan get a letter that their dog will be conscripted into the fae army. They think it’s a hoax, until it happens. They rush after to save their dog, but getting home requires they play the games set by the fae royals.
Here are the links for Jamie’s books.
Grave Mistakes - https://books2read.com/u/496Wv8
Arcanym - https://books2read.com/u/bP7WZR
Ooo Shiny! Volume 2, Holiday Edition 1 - https://books2read.com/u/3Goa5Q (great stocking stuffer)
Whether on the road or at my desk, where there is always music playing. One of the bands that keeps coming up is The Cars. The band began in the Boston area in 1976 and went on to record a series of hits that grew in popularity. While the original group disbanded in the late 1980s, their music remains popular today.
You Might Think: https://youtu.be/3dOx510kyOs?si=8iAygZePPbyieVrt
Good Times Roll: https://youtu.be/Ki6xHnDAwHw?si=VJoG-gm2VlfHnBI-
Shake it Up: https://youtu.be/K3SA5Z-cbC8?si=TxdbDQaH3K-5ohy8
Since You’re Gone: https://youtu.be/1JnQfKIFERU?si=0mY8jUjiOOSmU4o_
Just What I Needed: https://youtu.be/gvy2yqUHLLg?si=yHNVnYGh8hIrQ1ik
This time of year, there are many movies with holiday theme that people admire and enjoy. I’m not the kind of guy who likes sappy Christmas movies. If it’s a comedy or something with a little twist on the usual storyline, it’s more likely that I’ll enjoy it. With that being said, here are my top 5 favorite Christmas movies.
Christmas with the Kranks
The Christmas Chronicles
The Santa Clause
Jingle All the Way
The Wayward Path
Your Turn To Die