Fun Stuff I’ve Been Doing So Far This Year

“Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.”-Winston Churchill

Okay, I know I haven’t been keeping up with posting the blog on a regular basis. Again. I am bad. I am incorrigible. I am a procrastinator by trade. For those of you who have stuck with following this blog even through its intermittent ramblings, I thank you. There is a lot to catch up on so this will be a lengthy discourse of what’s been going on in my life over the past few months.

At the end of last year I started attending The Seadog Slam’s bimonthly shows that took place at the Half Price Books Flagship Store in Dallas. Every first Wednesday there was a Steampunk show with songs performed , poetry read,and neat garb and gadgets displayed, as well as presentation son Steampunk culture and literature. I wrote a couple of Steampunk poems that I read, presented a brief biography of Jules Verne, and also read a review I wrote of Jessica McHugh’s book,  The Sky, the World. Every Third Wednesday of the month there was a pirate themed show performed by the crew members of The Seadog Slam, with an open mic session for the last half of the show. Performers dressed in their pirate garb for full effect and I broke out my pirate costume that I had put together a few years ago to wear to parties, pirate festivals and Renaissance faires. I had been writing a few pirate poems which I read at these sessions which were apparently well received, as I was asked earlier this year to join the Seadog Slam as as auxiliary crew member. This meant I would be on call to help them complete a roster of performers for various events in North Texas especially when regular members cannot attend. Words cannot express how happy I was to join this group of pirate poets. Recently they even decided to make me a regular crew member, which means I will have an opportunity to perform at all their shows and on CD’s they record of poetry and songs. I purchased a copy of The Pirate Primer so I can brush up on my piratical lingo. I’ve been wanting to buy this book ever since I checked it out from the Bedford Public Library a few years ago. Now I had a good excuse for acquiring it. Like I needed a reason to buy a book about pirates. Ha ha! The Seadog Slam will be working on a CD of dirty limericks this Summer so I have to get cracking to write some original limericks to read for the recording.

In April The Seadog Slam were the MC’s at an event called Down to the Depths: A Ghost Pirate Masquerade at the Wit’s End club in Dallas’ historic entertainment district, Deep Ellum. It was a show put on by The Shadow Society to raise funds for the Steampunk November 2014 event. Earlier that week I had broken one of my hard contact lenses and had been forced to wear my coke bottle glasses to see. Determined not to look like a dork at the show, I decided that once I got to the club I would put in my one left contact lens and wear my pirate eye patch over the other eye for piratical effect. That was all well and good, except I had not counted on it being so hard to read my poem with one eye. A lack of depth perspective really messes things up. I managed to pull off the reading somewhat, although it was certainly not my best performance to date. Nothing a bit of rum couldn’t make better though. Ah, it’s a pirate’s life for me. Arrgh!

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

One-eyed poet pirate Lars Shortshanks with Mayhem and Ray Jusrae of The Seadog Slam crew

All the performers that night were wonderful, from the opening band, Irish  Blind, the burlesque performers, and sword fighting by Cut, Thrust & Run. It was fun being an MC, and  introducing the band Esoterik, whose music and performance I really enjoyed. Allison Eckfeldt’s vocals and dancing were awesome, Brady Bledsoe on Guitar and keyboards was amazing, and Austin Hayes on keyboards was excellent. I got the band to autograph their CD I bought, and they were all very cool nice people to talk to. They are from Oklahoma City which is my birth city and where I still  have a lot of aunts, uncles and cousins living in the area. I will have to catch some more of their shows in the future. I’m hoping they will be back here in Dallas soon, or that I can make it up to OK City.

Going back a little earlier in the year, in February I was a guest author at the ConDFW literary fan convention. This is my third year as a guest and I had a blast as always being on discussion panels, doing readings and book signings. I get to meet up with a lot of fellow authors who are friends at these events and generally have a great time. There are too many people to mention everyone here and I will inevitably forget someone, since my memory is like  sieve. So my apologies if I don’t name you, but I have to at least run down a short list of people I got to hang out with and or be on panels with: Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahte, Selina Rosen, William Ledbetter, Bev Hale, Michelle Muenzler, Nina Romberg, Lou Antonelli, Melanie Fletcher, Mel White, Angeline Hawkes, Christopher Fulbright, Amie Spengler, Rachael Acks. Special thanks to friends and fellow writers Alaura Sandler and Jenn Monty who took photos of me on several panels.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

ConDFW panel with Bev Hale, C Dean Andersson and Larry Atchley Jr.

Promoting the anthologies I am published in and talking about writing and fiction fandom is always a pleasure. The after parties are always awesome as well and I get way too little  sleep during these convention weekends. But it is all so worth it. I’m looking forward to next year already. I had someone snap a photo of me at my signing table with all the books In which I have stories published. And I’m proudly wearing both my Irredeemable Order of Hellions, and Fictioneers badges. On my right arm is my Bethodist patch marking me as an adherent of my friend Beth Patterson’s personal spiritual  movement of bouzouki babe worship and musical religiosity. More on Beth later in this post. It’s harder to see in this photo but I’m also wearing my Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror patch showing my support for yet another awesome group of musicians.  Thanks to my daughter Alina for making the armbands and sewing the patches on for me.

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

My ConDFW 2014 book signing table

 

Next up in my busy Spring schedule of fun stuff was the North Texas Irish Festival. I have been going to this event ever since around 1996. It has been going on for over thirty years now, and is the largest Celtic music festival in the South, and one of the largest in the USA. There are so many excellent bands and solo musicians that play this festival. Also it has huge vendor turnout and there are so many great hand crafted items for sale. Money was tight this year so I couldn’t go crazy with the purchases, but I did pick up a CD from one of my favorite bands, Poor Man’s Fortune,  and a really cool pin/brooch with the skull & crossbones on it. I figured it would go well with my pirate garb.

It has been my pleasure to get to know the band members of Poor Man’s Fortune, especially Beth Patterson who I met initially on facebook a couple of years ago through mutual friends. We got to meet in person last year at the Irish Festival and we swapped copies of my anthologies that I have stories in for a bunch of her music CD’s. She had confessed that she was a musician with writer envy, and that she was working on writing a fiction story based on her experiences in the music business.  I told her that I was a writer with musician envy and that I wanted to put a band together. We realized that we both appreciate good music, good books, and irreverent dark humor, so a solid friendship was inevitable. We got  along so well in fact, I decided that she must be my long-lost evil twin sister that I never knew I had.

I introduced her on Facebook to some of my fellow Hellion authors and especially Janet Morris, and also some other editors with publishers that were looking for stories to put in anthologies. She just had a story published in a collection called Rise of the Goddess, and she will have a story in the next Heroes in Hell book, Poets in Hell which also will have my story “Poetic Injustice” in it. So she is now officially a Hellion author after earning her way into our illustrious ranks with what I’m sure will be a very good story that I am looking forward to reading. Earlier this year she also published her first book Mongrels & Misfits, which has an awesome short story and a whole bunch of her song lyrics in it. I got to be one of her beta readers for the story and she thanked me in the acknowledgements page of her book which was cool and very sweet of her to do.

She is an excellent musician and is turning out to be just as good of a writer as well. I like to refer to her as the hardest working musician in the business because it seems like she is always playing gigs, recording albums,  and promoting herself 24/7/365. She performs in and around New Orleans Louisiana when she is not on tour in various other parts of the world, like Japan, and Canada.  She will be performing her music at this year’s LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN where we will both be guest authors as well. Check out her web page here at Bethpattersonmusic.com. She just released an excellent  new solo album Fast Forward which you can purchase on her webpage. She has it available as a digital download and as a USB flash drive that is made into a rubber bracelet so you can wear her  music. Here’s a photo of Beth performing with Poor Man’s Fortune which includes Larry Rone on vocals and wind instruments ,  Richard Kean on pipes, Wolf Loescher on drums and percussion, and Beth Patterson on vocals and bouzouki. They just released a new CD called Bayou Curious that has a blend of Cajun, Scottish, Breton, and French traditional music, and it is a joy to listen to. It is very lively and upbeat. You can buy it on the Poor Man’s Fortune webpage.

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Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Beth Patterson at North Texas Irish Festival 2014

Some other great bands I saw at NTIF this year included The Town Pants, from Canada, who closed out their set witha  cover of Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills, which was totally unexpected. Also the band  Beyond the Pale who I have seen perform several years at NTIF and other Celtic music festivals like the no longer active Celtic Heritage Festival which was held in my home town of Bedford. There was so much excellent music but these are the ones that stand out in my mind the most.

Okay so on to the next convention and this is a big one that I have been honored with being a guest at for the past three years. All-Con in Dallas. This event encompasses everything to do with fandom whether it is science fiction, fantasy, horror literature, film or television, anime, women’s roller derby, burlesque entertainment, stand up comedy, sword fighting action shows, music, etc. You name it and there is probably a discussion panel or performance to do with it at All-Con. I got to be on some great panels with some awesome authors this year as always. First and foremost I must mention my friend Jenn Monty who helped me come up with topics  for five of the panels that we were on this year.  She also did meticulous research and printed out notes for us to use, including creating a writers’ notebook for compiling story notes and information for our panel on how to organize all the stuff you use when writing a novel. She made several copies which were handed out to the audience. We had a really good turnout for that one. Jenn publishes a blog called Brewed Bohemian where she posts her flash fiction and poetry, along with the latest open submissions for story contests and anthologies. She posts reviews about beer on there too  which is really cool. Jenn is a very talented writer, and I hope we will share credits in an anthology together someday. She recently asked me to be one of the judges in a Steampunk & Dieselpunk flash fiction contest called Dirty Goggles that she was holding along with some other authors. Go check out her blog to read the stories and find out who won. Plus check out all the other cool stuff there too.

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

Jenn Monty and Larry Atchley Jr. at All-Con Dallas 2014

I shared panels with some other awesome fellow authors and experts like Larry And Tina Amyett of the North Texas Dieselpunks, Steve and Melody Sanders of The Seadog Slam, Ethan Nahte, Mel White, Bart de Boisblanc, and Gloria Oliver. I also got to hang out with my good friend Darwin Prophet who was one of the musical guests this year. I got to see a whole bunch of other friends that I usually only see at cons or other special events. There are probably too many people to list and I will inevitably forget someone so I’ll just leave it at that. You all know who you are.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 Dieselpunk & Steampunk Panel. From Left to right: Larry Atchley Jr, Larry Amyett, Tina Amyett, Jenn Monty.

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 panelists L-R Larry Atchley Jr, Mel White, Ethan Nahte, Gloria Oliver

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

All-Con 2014 Steampunk Poetry panel. Larry Atchley Jr, Steve Sanders, Melody Sanders.

On March 19th I put together a author reading event that took place at the Half Price Books Dallas Flagship store. How this came about was that the Seadog Slam crew were not going to be able  to do their usual pirate themed show they presented the third Wednesday of every month. I was asked if I wanted to put on an event by myself. I leapt at the chance and I decided that rather than do a pirate show I wanted to do something different where authors of various genres could read their work to an audience. Thus was born The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue. I gathered together five local Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex authors which included myself, Darwin Prophet, Jenn Monty, Jessica Scott, William Ledbetter. Author C. Dean Andersson was supposed to read too but had to cancel due to having the Flu. We had a small but enthusiastic audience and the event went well. It was the first time that both Jessica and Jenn  had ever read before an audience and they did awesome even though they admitted they were very nervous. They each read some poetry and flash fiction that was excellent. Check out Jessica’s blog, The Lunatic, the Lover, and the Poet where she posts a lot of her poetry and prose, and Jenn’s blog at Brewed Bohemian. William read excerpts from a couple of science fiction short stories that were very gripping and intense. I read part of my Rogues in Hell story, “Ragnarok & Roll” and Darwin read a bunch of her “prosetry” that includes her day to day thoughts and musings, and closed the event beautifully by singing the British anthem “Jerusalem” which was written from a poem by William Blake.  We all had a great time and I was glad to be able to bring some fellow authors together to showcase their talents. I’m hoping to do another one of these sometime in the future.

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Larry Atchley Jr reading poetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jenn Monty reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

Jessica Scott reading at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

William Ledbetter reading from his story at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Darwin Prophet reading Prosetry at The Eclectic Muse Literary Revue.

Something cool that I got to attend in April was the short film premier of Love is a Grave, by my friend Tim Stevens with Title Pending Productions and Tim Stevens Films. The premier party was called Into the Grave and was held at the dance club The Church in Dallas’ historic Deep Ellum arts and music district by The Shadow Society. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror performed at the premier and Darwin actually co-wrote music for the film with Director/Filmmaker Tim Stevens. Another band that performed that night was Ending the Vicious Cycle fronted by singer/songwriter/guitarist/keyboardist, Toby Rider. There was also a dark burlesque show which included Vivienne Vermuth and Cat de Lynn. The film was awesome and the party was a blast. I had a lot of fun dancing and hanging out with friends including Cindy House who I have known since  high school and who I hadn’t seen in a few years, and who is a regular at The Church.

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Tim Stevens, Darwin Prophet and Larry Atchley Jr at the film premier party for Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens'short film Love is a Grave

Into the Grave, premier party for Tim Stevens’short film Love is a Grave

Also in April I also got to be an extra in one of Tim’s latest projects, a web series called You are Here, that was filmed at The Curtain Club in Deep Ellum in Dallas. That was a lot of fun, but it was hot hard work. I was in several scenes that involved dancing at a Goth vampire night club party. They couldn’t run the Air Conditioning units because of the noise and it was very hot inside the club. It didn’t help that I was wearing leather pants, boots, and my signature long black coat. My friend Darwin Prophet was also there as an extra to help support Tim’s project. I also got to be in a few additional scenes that just involved standing and acting like I was talking to another extra, Shana, who I met at the filming. She was pretty cool and has some interesting life stories. She is about my size, (petite that is) and also takes martial arts so we had that in common to talk about. She is a professional model working in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.  I met a lot of other great people who were extras and part of the cast and crew. Special thanks to Tim Stevens, John McCullagh, Mary Rochford, Jessica Sheriff, and everyone else involved with the production for making me a part of the action and taking great care of us by providing lots of water to drink and pizza for dinner. The web series is supposed to air sometime in June, so I’ll be sure to post a link to it in my blog when it does. I hope I look halfway decent in the shots.

In May I went to fellow author Seth Skorkowsky’s book signing for his first published novel Damoren. It was held at game store Area 51 Gaming & Collectibles in Grapevine Texas, the town where I grew up. I met Seth at All-Con this year and it turns out that we have a lot of mutual friends in the writing and Steampunk community. I just finished reading his book and it is a thrilling action packed adventure with some very excellent writing and includes some very interesting concepts. It is book one of The Valducan series and I can’t wait to read the next book when it comes out next year. I’m looking forward to finally finishing one of my novels so I can do one of these events for a book that is all my own work. I love writing short stories and poems for anthologies, but having my own novel completed and published would be a great feeling.

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Seth Skorkowsky at book signing for his novel Damoren

Well that is about it for now. The next big event things coming up for me will be attending Robert E Howard Days in Cross Plains Texas  and attending LibertyCon as a guest author, both in June. This will be my first time to go to Howard Days. I have heard a lot of great things about it form fellow authors so I am looking forward to it. It is my fourth year as a guest at LibertyCon, which was the first con to book me as an author in 2011 after I had my first published short story appear in Lawyers in Hell.

I am working on my dark fantasy/sword & sorcery novel that I am aiming at finishing this year. Also the usual short stories and poems as always. I’ll keep everyone posted here whenever I have my next stories and poems published. I have a few things coming out this Summer.

I’ll leave you with a pithy quote as usual. Thanks again for following my blog and I’ll try not to take so long between posts next time.

“Writing a novel is like making love, but it’s also like having a tooth pulled. Pleasure and pain. Sometimes it’s like making love while having a tooth pulled.”
-Dean Koontz

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ConDFW 2013 After Action Report

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“Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done and not some future day or future year. It is today that we fit ourselves for the greater usefulness of tomorrow. Today is the seed time, now are the hours of work, and tomorrow comes the harvest and the playtime.”
-W. E. B. Du Bois

Another year of ConDFW has come and gone. I had a great time as always, meeting with old friends, and making new ones. I think I picked up a few new fans of my writing as well. I also got to hang out with someone who is arguably my biggest fan so far, Jenn M. who I met at last year’s ConDFW. She writes a blog called Brewed Bohemian and she is also gracious enough to repost my blogs on her twitter feed @BrewedBohemian. She’s a writer who has been doing flash fiction and short fiction for awhile. I am going to have her on a couple of panels with me at All-Con this year. It was great hanging out with her and her friends and my friends over dinner Saturday night talking about our current projects. Check out her blog and follow her on twitter.

I didn’t get to the Crown Plaza Hotel in Addison where ConDFW is held until about 7:30 Friday because I had to work until 6:30. I met up with friend and fellow author, Ethan Nahte in the dealers room, where we were sharing a table to sell our books. Ethan is a great guy, and a real force of creativity. He has experience in writing, journalism, music, photography, film making, screenwriting, radio, as well as environmental and wildlife conservation. I don’t think there’s much that he can’t do, or hasn’t tried. He has stories published with Yard Dog Press, Twit Publishing, 4 Star Stories, and Hall Brothers Entertainment. Go check out their web sites for some of the anthologies he’s in. His friend Bonnie helped us watch the table when Ethan and I had to be at panels, signings, and readings. She also bought a copy of Lawyers in Hell. Thanks Bonnie, for being a fan and also a new friend.  Here’s a photo I took of Ethan at our table:

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And one of us together:

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Someone else I was really glad to spend time with was John Manning, who is a writer, editor, and owner of Fantom Enterprises which recently produced the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? which is published by Perseid Press. John is also a fellow Hellion Author with stories in Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell, from the Heroes in Hell series created by Janet Morris, with Persied Publishing,  in which I have stories published as well. John also wrote the horror novel Black Stump Ridge with co-author Forrest Heddrick which was published by iUniverse in 2011. He’s one of my best friends and we have collaborated on story ideas a lot and we are working together on several current projects. Here’s a great photo of us together:

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Someone else who I always enjoy seeing at conventions is Bev Hale, author, artist, maker of fine hats and clothes and jewelry and accesories. Check out her web site at BevHale.com and her artistic designs page at Otherwhen Oddities. Here’s Bev with her table and hat stand in the dealers room:

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Bev also has a story published in the horror anthology What Scares the Boogey Man? created and edited by John Manning that she did a reading from at ConDFW.

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Another person I run into at the various conventions I attend is Patricia Ash. She is a playwright, novelist, poet, model, actor, and associate editor of Gearhearts Steampunk Glamor review magazine. So she stays pretty busy. Here’s a photo of her in one of her lovely outfits. Check out the boots!

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Two more friends I have made attending conventions like ConDFW are author/editor Kevin Hosey, and author Tracy S. Morris who are in this photo at their book signing.

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Someone else who I got to know online, but met in person for the first time that weekend is Stormy Stogner, who is one of the editors for Fantom Enterprises and the book What Scares the Boogey Man?  I also got to meet Thony Medina who is working for Fantom Enterprises as V.P. of game development for their line of Role Playing Games soon to be unleashed upon the world. I hung out with them on and off for the whole weekend but somehow never got a single photo of either of them. Wow. How did that happen? Well, I forgot to take photos of a few people apparantly, like Jenn M. and her friends, Bonnie, and a few other people I’m sure. Oh well. Better luck next time I guess. I did however, manage to get a photo of these two Cthulhu chicks who were walking through the dealers room:

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And I got a photo of the Roll2Play game store table with Allison Gabby and the Roll2Play employee whose name I always forget. Sorry man.

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I got to talk to a lot more great people, authors, artists, creative folks of all types, like Selina Rosen, author, and owner of Yard Dog Press, authors Julia Mandala, Dusty Rainbolt, Linda Donahue, Rhonda Eudaley, C. Dean Andersson, Lou Antonelli, Teresa Patterson, Rie Sheridan Rose, and Michelle Muenzler. If I’ve fotgotten to mention anyone, sorry, but it was a whirlwind of a weekend as cons always are and I can’t remember everyone’s names.

I was on a panel called Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance with Kevin Hosey, Rachel Caine,  Dusty Rainbolt and Stina Leicht in which we each took one side to argue the merits of either genre of writing. Here’s a photo from the panel that John Husisian in the audience took and sent to me after the con. Thanks John!

Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance

I had a great time, and I look forward to seeing everyone again next time. For now, this is a wrap. See you all at All-Con in Dallas March 8,9, 10th.  It’s hard to believe it’s almost here already.

“Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow. Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend.” -Albert Camus

 

The CONsequences of being a writer, or see me at ConDFW This Weekend

“Success comes to a writer as a rule, so gradually that it is always something of a shock to him to look back and realize the heights to which he has climbed.” – P.G. Wodehouse

The short pale writer in the long black coat (that’s me) will be a guest at ConDFW in Dallas, Texas this weekend.  I’ll be on a couple of discussion panels Saturday:

11 am: Writing and Publishing Anthologies

Panelists: Kevin Hosey (M), Larry Atchley Jr., Tom Knowles, Julie Barrett, Selina Rosen

Many of our guest authors have published in anthologies before.  They also have experienced what works and doesn’t work when writing for anthologies – and how to get them out to the public.  Our panelists go over tried and true methods for getting into anthologies and then getting those works out to everyone else.

 

12 pm: The Fight of the Century II: Urban Fantasy vs Paranormal Romance!

 

Panelists: Urban Fantasy: Stina Leicht (M), Rachel Caine, Larry Atchley, Jr.

Paranormal Romance: Kevin Hosey (M), Dusty Rainbolt, Sabine Starr

Last year, this panel sparked quite a debate and proved that some basic rules were needed.  1) We’re assigning sides for our authors to defend – and perhaps we will actually find out where the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is!  2) You’re not allowed to switch sides until AFTER the panel.  3) You do not talk about Fight Club.  Bring your own popcorn.

Saturday at 2:00 PM I will be signing books.

Saturday at 5:00 PM I will be doing a reading from one of my stories. Which one will it be? Even I don’t know as I haven’t decided yet, so come and listen and we will both find out.

When I’m not at these events, I’ll either be wandering around attending various panels, or in the dealers room where I will be selling and signing copies of the anthologies I have stories published within: Lawyers in Hell, Rogues in Hell, Sha’Daa: Pawns, and What Scares the Boogeyman?

I’m looking forward to seeing my two biggest fans and friends there, Jenn Monty the Brewed Bohemian blogger and writer and Tiffany Franzoni, owner of game store Roll2Play who will have lots of game goodies on sale in the dealers room.

A good time will be had by all. I hope to see you there.

 

“Crackling fire in the fireplace, hot tea in an old mug, in the cold dead of Winter, telling tales no mortal man should ever tell.” –Larry Atchley Jr.

 

The Horrors of Writing, or An Author’s Personal Boogey Man

“He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

I often struggle with writing because I am too critical of myself and my art and I tend to get in my own way too much, over thinking what I am doing. Trying to get my head into a particular story can sometimes be an effort in futility and madness. I can know exactly where I want to story to go, what is supposed to happen, but can’t seem to put myself into the setting or get enough into the characters’ minds to be able to feel like I can write the story effectively. I need to immerse myself in those worlds completely in order to write about them. So in these times I am stuck trying to finish a story and just cannot mentally or physically do it. It is a terrible feeling, and it puts me in a lousy mood. It also causes me the worst cases of stress induced  insomnia and restlessness. My wife will be the first to tell you that I am an irascible bastard to be around when I get like this. She also knows that once I get over it and finish whatever I’m working on that I will get back an even keel emotionally and be a much nicer person to live with. It has been that way for me lately as I have been wrapping up stories for submission to various anthologies. Janet Morris has been know to say, “When you’re writing for Hell, you’re going through hell” with regard to the Heroes in Hell series she created, and which I have had the privilege of having stories published in the latest two volumes, Lawyers in Hell, and Rogues in Hell. I have been writing my story for the next anthology in the series, Dreamers in Hell and had been having a rough time getting it done. Now that it is completed, with the exception of any re-writes or changes that it will need at the editor’s suggestions, I can at least feel some relief that it is finished. I put a lot of emotion into this story, dug deep into my heart and soul embracing my own torment to hopefully make the suffering of my characters more genuine. Whether I succeeded or not is up to others to judge. I hope I have done enough to make it a worthy contribution to the series.

On to other things, I did have a story, “Shadow of a Doubt” published earlier this week with the release of What Scares the Boogey Man? which is a horror anthology created and edited by John Manning and co-edited by Meghan Graham and Stormy Stogner. It is published by Perseid Publishing and is currently available as an eBook for Amazon Kindle here, and Barnes & Noble Nook here.  It will be available in trade paperback print form soon, from both Amazon and B&N and I will also have signed copies to sell with me at the various conventions and seminars that I will be a guest at this year. I am proud to share space with some of the most awesome and talented authors in the business in this anthology: Janet Morris, Nancy Asire, David Conyers, Robert M. Price, J.D. Fritz, Jason Cordova, Thomas Barczak, C. Dean Andersson, Beverly Hale, Chris Morris, Michael H. Hanson, Larry Atchley Jr, Richard Groller, Bill Snider, Wayne Borean, John Manning, Bettina Meister,  and Shirley Meier. Eighteen tales of spine chilling terror await within.

We have a book launch virtual party going on at Facebook here if you’d like to join. And there is a facebook “LIKE” page Here that you can visit and show your support. Last but not least, is the excellent book trailer that was created by Team Zombie Zak. Watch it on You Tube HERE.

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My next announcement is that I will be a guest author at ConDFW again this year, I will be on discussion panels and will be reading one of my stories, and signing and selling the books that I have stories in, including Sha’Daa: Pawns and hopefully if I get the copies in time, What Scares the Boogey Man? The tentative panel list so far includes one on Urban Fantasy vs. Paranormal Romance and one on  writing stories for anthologies. I’m really looking forward to the convention this year and I hope to see you there. It is always great to meet with fellow writers, and fans. ConDFW is February 15th-17th this year in Addison, Texas. Go to the website HERE for more info.

Also I wanted to mention that the student indie film, The Dark Man, created by Tim Stevens and that I had mentioned in a previous post, met its Kickstarter goal today. Thanks to everyone who contributed and promoted the project. I can’t wait to see the finished short film, as I know it will be awesome. Congrats to writer/director Tim Stevens, and his crew, producer Sarah Wagner, Dir. of Photography Tyler Burns, and editor Joey McCleskey. I’m glad I could be a part of making this happen and I wish you the best in completing the project.

That’s about all that’s going on right now. As always I’m working on the next stories that hopefully will make it into the next anthologies and at some point I’ll get back on track with writing my dark fantasy novel that my wife keeps pushing me to finish so she can read it. As always, I’ll leave you with a pithy quote.

“A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, because everything she does is golden. In my view, a writer is a writer because even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway.”

-Junot Diaz

A Writer’s Holiday, or Wrestling With my Inner Daimons

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
― Ernest Hemingway

I am taking a vacation from the mundane day job this Thanksgiving week to get some much needed writing done.  I plan to try to put things around the house in some semblance of order as well, as with both my wife and mine’s work schedules, house chores tend to get put off to a  time that we call “I’ll get to it later.”

One of the stories I am working on is one that will hopefully be included in the next book in the Heroes in Hell series, created by Janet Morris, Dreamers in Hell. Old familiar faces from my previously published stories in the shared-world anthologies  Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell will return in this yarn. It deals with Anton LaVey trying to come to terms with his death and damnation in Hell by seeking psychiatric council from famous psychologist and spiritualist, William James. Also, Guy Fawkes having given up on trying to redeem his way out of Hell, has decided to try to blow his way out. Calamity ensures of course, and it should be a fun tale to read when it’s all done. As I did with the previous two stories, I have collaborated with a few of the other Hellion authors to connect my story with theirs in the larger meta-arc storyline that will be present throughout much of the anthology. This book should be very dynamic in nature and I think may end up containing some of the best stories from the series to date.

Another pending project is to write and submit a Victorian era historical fiction horror story for the anthology  Terror By Gaslight. I have the basic concept of the story and I know who my main character is, so the  preliminary work is done. Now I just have to start the actual writing of the story and hope that my daimons of inspiration will help me keep the words flowing. We writers contributing to the book have been given free reign to give the stories a steampunk twist if we so desire, but I’m not sure yet if mine will actually go in that direction. It has the possibility of doing so, but I won’t know until I really get into the meat of the writing process. I know quite a lot of writers who have set stories in the steampunk genre and I’ve toyed with the idea of doing it myself from time to time so it would be fun to take it in that direction. It opens up so many possibilities that the story couldn’t have if I stuck with a traditional historical tale.

Speaking of steampunk, I’ve been listening to a lot of steampunk music lately that has I think been driving my creative forces onward in the right direction. Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror captivated my attention from the first moment I heard them play live at The Difference Engine steampunk convention that night on New Year’s Eve 2011. Darwin’s sound ranges from what has been termed steampop, literary rock, and  rock and roll. Her album Oscar Wilde’s Serenade is a beautiful tribute to the poet, with songs written to his lyrics. The song “Don’t Panic” is dedicated to Douglas Adams and Gene Roddenberry. They recently filmed an awesome video for the song that you can watch HERE.

“I could be the anomaly, I could be the missing link between reality and your point of view. You know you boldly go where no one’s ever thought to go. The captain of your ship has lost her grip but she won’t let it show. If you slip into a black hole, don’t panic, don’t panic. If you can see into my soul, don’t panic. I won’t let go.” 

-Darwin Prophet, “Don’t Panic”

Darwin is a wonderful, intelligent, creative, and incredibly talented person. She is a gifted songwriter, musician, vocalist, and artist. I am fortunate to call her my friend. The Chronus Mirror band is made up of Maestro on violin, and DarKo on viola, vocals and percussion, both incredibly talented musicians in thier own right.

Marquis of Vaudeville is another favorite band I’ve seen perform at steampunk events. I keep listening to and watching the video for the song Utopian Playland, over and over. It is such a poignant anthem for these  jaded times in which we live as we strive to eke out a meagre living  trading most of the hours of our lives performing mundane repetitive tasks to earn a fistful of dollars.

“Productive members of society, that’s all we’re ever taught to be. But when society is failing, the dreamers rise up and will lead, to Utopian Playland.” –Marquis of Vaudeville, Utopian Playland.

The song is a tribute to the ideology of Dr. Steel who proposed that our top priority should be to have fun. I think it is a wonderful sentiment. The dreamers, writers, poets, artists, philosophers, and musicians should be allowed to create and play unfettered by the shackles of drudgery.

Recently I had a story called ‘Time For A Change”  published in the shared-world anthology, Sha’Daa: Pawns. The series is created by Michael H. Hanson, and edited by Edward F. McKeown. This book deals with stories about the Forces of Good battling the Forces of Evil during an event called The Sha’Daa,which takes place every ten thousand years on earth, in which the walls between our dimension and other darker more malevolent ones grows thin, and evil crosses over to try to annihilate and enslave mankind and take over the world. During this period, mankind must fight back with the help of the enigmatic and mysterious Johnny the Salesman. He trades items of powerful magical ability with ordinary people  to try to stop the Sha’Daa from happening. This is the third volume in the series, but it can be enjoyed without having read the first two, Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, and Sha’Daa: Last Call.

In September I was honored to be a guest at the Friends of the Bedford Public Library event, Evening With the Authors, where I read my story, “Ragnarok & Roll” from the book Rogues in Hell and got to answer questions from the audience about my writing.  It was really wonderful and made me feel very special as this is my local library where I check out books, so it felt great to be among my fellow local authors like Joanne Faries, Rebecca Balcarcel, Sharon K. Owen, and special guest from out of state, Sarah A. Hoyt who is a Prometheus Award winning author.

Well, that’s about all for now. I hope all my American readers have a happy Thanksgiving holiday.  Until next time…

 

 

The Nightmare Machine 2012 Unconventional Convention

This post is long overdue, considering I attended this convention way back in the end of March. But better late than never I always say.

The Nightmare Machine 2012 was a steampunk convention with a paranormal theme. It was created and organized by Steampunk Illumination Society. It took place March 30th through April 1st, in Jefferson, Texas which is purported to be the most haunted town in the Lone Star State. Whether it is or not is hotly debated amongst skeptics and believers. But it certainly is one of the most well preserved. By setting this event in and around the historic downtown district of Jefferson, it already set it apart from all other cons which typically take place within the confines of a hotel.

Some of the activities  included in this event included a steamboat ride, which I missed because I got into Jefferson too late Friday, a steam train ride, which i didn’t get to go on because the train derailed a couple of hours before my scheduled ticket reservation and the tracks had to be repaired. They did get the tracks repaired later that day and honored the earlier tickets for a ride that night, but I chose not to go, because I was busy attending other events at the time. The other activity that I did go on was the  ghost walk tour of the haunted hotspots in Jefferson. Guide Jodi Breckenridge was extremly knowledgable and shared some great stories about the history of Jefferson’s haunted past.

I was fortunate to be asked to this convention as a guest author and panelist which meant that I got to read my story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” from the Heroes in Hell series anthology, Lawyers in Hell, in front of a small but attentive audience. Thanks especially to Elizabeth and Mike Stewart who attended and were great to meet and talk to about writing.  They had heard about me from a mutual friend of ours, Mike Badolato, who suggested they might like to hear my reading. Thanks for promoting me, Mike! Also at the reading was someone who I greatly admire as a musician, songwriter, and vocalist, Darwin Prophet .  Thanks also to everyone else who attended my reading, sorry if I didn’t catch your names to put in this blog, but your show of support was appreciated.

Saturday night was an incredible festival of splendid sound called “A Symphonic Celebration”. The featured bands were Marquis of Vaudeville, My Wooden Leg, Sarasvati Bodhisattva, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror, and BB Blackdog. All were wonderful and brought their own unique  style of music to the concert. Earlier that day, my favorited band, Darwin Prophet & the Chronus Mirror played a special acoustic performance of songs from their album, Oscar Wilde’s Serenade,  in front of the Excelsior House Hotel. It was a lovely and moving tribute to the poetic works of Oscar Wilde who had stayed at the Excelsior House once during his travels through Texas.

I got to hold a discussion panel/presentation on the history of paranormal investigating, procedures and equipment which was fun. Thanks to those who attended, including Larry and Tina Amyett, and Jonathan Morgan. Larry and Tina from North Texas Dieselpunks did a presentation later that day on the history of Dieselpunk that was really cool and informative. These panels were held at the Museum of Measurement & Time which was an interesting place and the owners are very nice people.

Other various fun events included the premier of the short film “Mechanical Grave” and the Late Night Social and Tea Duelling put on by the members of the band BB Blackdog. I did a little tea duelling myself, although I lost my round, so I need to practice more. I think I’m better at drinking tea than dueling with it. If you wonder what exactly tea duelling is, this is a good web page that explains it here. There were many other panels on things like  sword fencing, making Steampunk costumes, real tales of ghostly experiences and more. There were also several vendors selling all manner of steampunk themed stuff, from costumes, weapons, accesories, art, and music.

I want to especially thank Stephanie Moran of the Steampunk Illumination Society for making me a part of this very special and historic event. Thanks to everyone at the S.I.S. for putting on a great and memorable convention that was one of a kind, like no other I have attended. Even the event badges were unique, as they were made out of engraved brass plates.  I met a lot of wonderful people, had tons of fun, saw some great sites around Jefferson, and made many new friends.

LibertyCon 25 2012 Convention After Action Report

“Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.”

-Jamie Paolinetti

Well I’m finally getting around to posting my report about LibertyCon 25 which took place the weekend of July 20-22, 2012 at the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo hotel. I also upload photos on my facebook page and in some of the relvant groups I am a member of like The Irredeemable Order of Hellions and The Fictioneers. I had a great time hanging out with fellow Hellion authors  Janet Morris, Chris Morris, Michael H. Hanson, Jack Finley, Sarah Hulcy, David Burkhead, Michael Z. Williamson, Richard Groller, and Julie Cochrane.

Kudos as always to Janet Morris and Chris Morris for creating the Heroes in Hell series without which none of this fun would have taken place. Thanks for making me a part of this fantastic series that I’ve been a fan of for over 25 years. Also a big thanks to Richard Groller for bringing so many of us authors together by having us as guests at LibertyCon. Thanks also to Uncle Timmy who created and runs LibertyCon for having us again. It has become our annual meeting of the Hellions and I hope will continue to be so for many years to come.

This year we decided to hold a party for both The Fictioneers writers club and the Irredeemable Order of Hellions fan club for the Heroes in Hell series and Perseid Publishing.  It was also our book launch party for the newest anthology in the Heroes in hell series, Rogues in Hell.  I think the party was a success and I made many new friends and gained new fans for the HiH series and the upcoming book Sha’Daa Pawns created by Michael Hanson and edited by Edward McKeown. Michael also had a bunch of cupcakes made for the party with icing that looked like alien heads for the Fictioneers and flames for the Hellions. They were awesome sugary goodness and a real hit. Thanks to everyone who came out and partied with us. It was a hell of a good time! To join the Hellions online on Facebook for fun and interaction with Hellion authors and fans just click on the link above or right here.

Several of us Hellion authors also took turns staffing the Perseid Publishing table to sell and sign books. It was a great experience and loads of fun. There is something really satisfying about sitting behind a table stacked with books some of which have your stories published inside them like Lawyers in Hell and Rogues in Hell.  Also on this table were books from another of my favorite series, by Janet Morris and Chris Morris; The Sacred Band, Tempus With His Right-Side Companion Niko, Beyond Sanctuary, and The Fish, the Fighters, and the Song-Girl. Also Michael Hanson had copies of Sha’Daa: Tales of the Apocalypse, Sha’Daa: Last Call, and his poetry collections Jubilant Whispers and Autumn Blush.

I got to be on some great discussion panels, like the Rogues in Hell panel where the attending Hellion authors got to talk about our new book. Also the What Scares the Boogeyman panel where we got to talk about the soon to be published horror anthology that John Manning is putting together which will feature my story “Shadow of a Doubt.” We also had a cool piece of artwork drawn just for the panel by Michael Bielaczyc that was outstanding. And thanks to author Larry Niven for attending our panel  and contributing his thoughts on the horror genre. And then there were the paranormal panels I got to be on with Joe McKeel and Paul Cagle about EVP’s (Electronic Voice Phenomenon), Ghost Busting, and Joe’s Remote Viewing panel that he let me sit in on.

All in all it was a fun, busy, and exhausting weekend and as I always seem to do at conventions I made a lot of new friends. And it was a blast seeing my old friends as well, many whom I only see in person once a year, even if we talk online a lot. I really can’t wait for LibertyCon again next year. I hope you will join me for a hell of a good time.

Special Guest Tonight on TMV Cafe Internet Radio

“I love talking about nothing. It is the only thing I know anything about.”
Oscar Wilde

I will be a guest on the TMV Cafe internet radio show Free Pie Night, tonight, at 9:00 PM Central Standard Time. There is also a chatroom on the website where you can interact with the fans, guests and hosts of the show. Go to www.tmvcafe.com to join the fun.  I will be talking about how I got my big break of being a published author, and about my experiences writing for the shared world anthology series Heroes in Hell, created and edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris. My story “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” was published in the book Lawyers in Hell, in 2011. I have a story, “Ragnarok & Roll”  in the latest book, Rogues in Hell, which will be published this Summer in 2012.

Also I will try to mention some of the other anthologies I have been writing for which will be published in the next few months, like Sha’Daa Pawns, created by Michael H. Hanson, and What Scares the Boogeyman, a horror anthology created by John Manning. I also have a poem called “The Shadow People”,  that will be published in the collection A Book of Night, created by Richard Groller, which will be my first poem to be published in a book. I had a couple of poems that were printed in a collection of art and poetry contributed by students, that Grapevine High School created during my senior year, but this will be the first time my poetry is released by a real publisher.

I have been busy working a lot of overtime hours at my day job, trying to pay the bills, so I haven’t had much time or energy for writing lately unfortunately. Some of my works in progress though include a fantasy novel, a fantasy adventure short story, and a story for the next book in the Sha’Daa series. I am also working on ideas and an outline for a story to submit for the next Heroes in Hell book, tentatively titled, Dreamers in Hell. My goal is to have a story included in all of the new books in the series, so I am hoping this one will get the stamp of approval from Janet and Chris. I am thinking this will be a much more  introspective sort of story than my last two. I’m bringing in a new main character, noted psychologist and spiritualist, William James, who is going to psychoanalyze Anton LaVey for his post-life identity crisis of finding himself in a hell he never believed existed, serving a fallen angel that he denied even being real. Guy Fawkes will also return again from my first two stories, and try to blow things up as always, including possibly the pearly gates of Heaven itself.  It will be a fun story to write, and I hope, to read also.

I’m behind on my blogging about the various conventions I’ve attended as a guest  in the last couple of months, so you can expect my report on ConDFW, All-Con, and The Nightmare Machine, at some point when I get around to writing those. They were all loads of fun and I met so many awesome people, as I always seem to do at cons. I really enjoyed being on the discussion panels and doing the story readings and it was an honor to be part of those events.

That’s about all that’s going on for now. I hope you will all tune in tonight to listen to me on the radio show. Also the show that airs before it at 8:00 PM CST, After Rot, is hosted by a friend of mine, who goes by the name Zombie Zak. He and his co-host Jazzy talk about all things to do with comics, movies, superheroes,  zombies and all kinds of other random stuff. It’s always a fun show, you should check it out.

The Nightmare Machine Paranormal Steampunk Convention

I will be a guest at this paranormal steampunk convention, The Nightmare Machine, this weekend. I will be holding a discussion panel on the history of paranormal investigation Saturday 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM. I am also doing readings Friday night at 8:00 PM from my story “Shadow of a Doubt” which will be published later this year in the horror  anthology What Scares the Boogeyman and “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” published in 2011 in the anthology Lawyers in Hell Sunday at 11:00 AM . The convention takes place in historic Jefferson, Texas. Come see me and all the other guests at this fun and exciting event!

 

See The Short Pale Writer in the Long Black Coat at All-Con This Weekend

“It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
– Robert Charles Benchley, author

I will be attending All-Con in Dallas this weekend and will be there Friday evening, and all day Saturday and Sunday. I will have copies of the shared world anthology Lawyers in Hell which includes my first ever published short story, “Remember, Remember, Hell in November” with me available for purchase. I will also be a guest panelist at 4:00 PM on Saturday discussing the topic of writing for a shared world anthology.  

The annual All-Con convention is all about creating fun for fans of Science Fiction, Fantasy, Renaissance, Anime, Costuming, Theater / Performing Arts, Mystery, Art, Crafts, Collecting, and Film Making. So there is something to see and do for just about everyone at All-Con. It is located at the Crowne Plaza North Dallas at 14315 Midway Road, Addison, Texas 75001. The fun and events start  at 10:00 AM Friday and run until Sunday at 6:00 PM. If you have never been to a fan convention, this is an especially awesome one to attend. There will be plently of fans in awesome costumes, especially from Star Wars, since the 501st Imperial Stormtrooper Legion will be attending.
Also performing at All-Con is one of my favorite dramatic comedy acts, The Damsels of Dorkington. Don’t miss their shows, they will make you laugh until you can’t breathe. And check out the Dealers Room for the Roll2Play booth for everything to do with games, games and more games. Tell Tiffany I sent you.

I’ll have postcards with the logo for the Irredeemable Order of Hellions available to give out as freebies. Look for me this weekend in my “The Shadow” costume.  I hope to see you all there!

“Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”