Saturday, October 27, 2012

About The Author


   Hi, folks. This week’s post is a day early. My son and I are taking off for a long-overdue visit to Grandma’s this weekend. I have no guarantee I’ll be able to find a wifi connection for my laptop, so I figured I better go ahead and ‘git her done’, because…
   … there’s some big news! The new book is being released officially on Halloween Day. In fact, it's availbable now on Kindle (see the link at the bottom of the page).
   And to kick off the Halloween release of The Dragon of Doughton Park, the wonderful Mary at APageAway has organized a week long blog tour starting Monday. Check out the dates and blog stops on the cool banner she worked up!

   In addition to reviews and interviews, there will be some nifty prizes given away, including the wolf-themed book marks by Fangspiration and the book itself. As you know if you’ve been following my blog, beta readers have startled me with their enthusiastic reactions to the second of the Red Wolf novels, and I’m anxiously awaiting the upcoming reviews and feedback from the general public.

About The Author
   Okay. Now that the big news is out of the way, it’s time for this week’s blog topic.

   As I’ve said before, I feel fortunate to be a writer in the early days of a self-publishing revolution where someone like me can polish his craft in front of a world-wide audience of actual readers rather than against a wall of industry-hardened editors. But, in spite of the many advantages of publishing my works myself, there is one big disadvantage wherein I greatly lack the skill… marketing!

   I suck at marketing. And as an author, I’m probably a publicist’s worst nightmare. I hate to brag. I’m a bit self-deprecating (I like to call it humility). And the idea of self-promotion is totally abhorrent to me. Self-deprecation is anathema on the internet, where everything is awesome and everyone the greatest.

   So I wince whenever I have to fill in some information “about the author” or answer the inevitable interview prompt, “tell us about yourself.” After ducking and dodging the question several times the last few weeks, I decided to take a shot at an author bio. I’m not sure if this would work printed inside the back cover of a book or on a website, but it sums up my life pretty well…
The History of the World According to John
   I was born on the first day of October in 1950, the first son of John and Patricia, in Baltimore, MD.  I got a brother a year-and-a-half later. We moved around a lot. We moved to Charlotte, NC. I started school. I barely learned to read the boring crap they taught me. We moved to Asheville, and my Mom taught me to read real books.
   I fell in love with L. Frank Baum, John Fox, Jr., Edward Ormondroyd, Robert Heinlein, and Marilyn. We moved to Greenville, SC. I fell in love with Kathy, H.G. Wells, and Edgar Rice Burroughs.
  I went to Junior High School. I fell in love with Cecelia, Isaac Asimov, and Jackie (sigh).
  I went to High School. I fell in love with Donna, Kathy, Jane, Merrill, Jackie (again), and alcohol. I decided to become a writer.
  I went to Presbyterian College. I fell in love with Cynthia, Ann, marijuana, LSD, what’s-her-name, Harlan Ellison, Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter, and Joni Mitchell. I left Presbyterian College and went to the University of Georgia (go Dawgs!). I fell in love with Karyn (sigh), J.R.R Tolkein, Robert Heinlein (again), cocaine, and The Allman Brothers. I tried to write.
   I graduated college. I fell in love with Pat, Barbara, Dale, Carol, what’s-her-name, James Tiptree Jr., Frank Herbert, Ursula K LeGuin, Connie (OMG), Stephen King, Bruce Springsteen, Bonnie Raitt, and Kathy. I tried to write.
   I married Kathy. I fell out of love with cocaine and LSD. I gave up on writing. I moved to Charlotte, NC. I moved to Salisbury, NC. I got divorced. I fell out of love with alcohol and marijuana. I fell in love with Amanda, Susan, Pam, Gerrie (sigh), Michael Crichton, Robert R. McCammon, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, Janine, and Cheri.
  I moved back to Charlotte, NC. I fell in love with Caren and got married again. We had a kid. I got un-married. I fell in love with Charlaine Harris, Stephenie Meyer, Patricia Briggs, Richelle Mead, and Taylor Swift.
   Oh, and along the way, I made a lot of wonderful friends and observed first-hand the never-ending, enigmatic, inexplicable miracle of life. And, I started to write again…
   …and I haven’t stopped.
   Okay, that’s it for this week, I guess. I hope you'll visit each of the blog tour sites this week to read about the new book and pick up a prize or two.
   And remember:
   All next week, while the release of Dragon is going on, the ebook price for The Draculata Nest is still only $0.99! You can purchase my books through one of the following venues. Click on the link that applies to you.
The Draculata Nest
           Kindle version     Nook version     Paperback version     in Charlotte
The Dragon of Doughton Park
           Kindle version    Paperback version
 Until next time… Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Bits and Pieces


   It’s a glorious Fall Sunday morning in Charlotte and time for my weekly blog. As you can see from my weight posted up top, my scales are back on line. Not sure if that’s a blessing or a curse. Oh, well. Today’s blog, like my past week, is in bits and pieces (hence the title – clever, huh?).

Release Date Set for Dragon

   My cover guy, Rich, promised to have the cover for The Dragon of Doughton Park ready this weekend. No sooner had the words escaped his lips (or fingers, I guess – the promise came in an email), did Rich take off for a weekend camping trip. Of course I interpreted ‘this weekend’ to mean Friday night, since that’s what I was hoping for. But, I guess Rich meant Sunday night. And he is known to be a man of his word.

   Anyway, the cover will be available soon. The text has been formatted for paperback, kindle, and nook, and files have been uploaded to CreateSpace, KDP, and PubIt. Therefore, I’ve set a release date for the book. Dragon will be officially released on Halloween!
   APageAway is organizing a blog tour around the release date. Tentatively, the blog tour will run from Oct 29 through Nov 2. There will be author interviews, book reviews and some nifty prizes to give away. More will be revealed on the tour as details become available.

Facial Hair

   A few days ago I heard my thirteen-year-old shout from the bathroom, “My stash!” Panic. I flashed back to a random memory from my youth, when one of my roommates (I never found out who it was) had gotten into my cache of drugs. In nanoseconds I had projected years into the future and visiting Seth in rehab.
   But, no. My son ran to me and thrust his face into my own.
   See what?
   Look! What do you see?
   Your nostrils? Back off a little. What are you talking about?
  My ‘stache! I have a moustache!
   I looked closer. Nothing. I turned his head side-to-side. Still nothing. No, wait. Looking at his silhouette, with the light from the bathroom doorway behind him, I saw them. Tiny hairs formed a light fuzz across his upper lip. In fact, the same fuzz covered his chin and cheeks. Oh, my god.
   My son’s beard is coming in!
   How delightful for him.
   Jeez, I'm getting old.
Draculata Nest Available With New Cover

   A revised text (I corrected the typos some of you have pointed out!) and a new cover have been uploaded to CreateSpace, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble. Those venues now feature the latest edition of The Draculata Nest. I am super happy with the new cover Ray and Rich collaborated on. You can click on the DNest in paperback link at the bottom of this blog post to get one. You’ll have to get one of the $12.99 copies to receive the new cover. The $10.99 copies, although new, have the original cover.
   Okay, that’s it for this week, I guess. I’ll have more details on the release of Dragon and the blog tour next Sunday.

   And remember:

   From now until the time Dragon goes on sale, the ebook price for The Draculata Nest has been reduced to only $0.99. You can purchase it through one of the following venues. Click on the link that applies to you.
 Until next time… Happy Reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Character Profile - Roland Trudeau

Wow, it’s Sunday already! I thought it was only yesterday, or maybe the day before? There is no weight posting this week. Sorry. My scales broke. (Oh, ha-ha. That’s funny. No, I did not break them; the batteries went dead.) I should have them back on line next week and y’all can see how skinny I’ve gotten over a two-week span.

   Part of the reason this week went by so quickly was that I have been extremely busy. I was in some intensive training for work most of the week, studying at night, and burning the candle at both ends. I had zero time for writing, and, frustrating as that is, I’ve just had to accept it.

   The good news is, the new cover for The Draculata Nest is done, and the cover for The Dragon of Doughton Park may be ready this week. I’ve been spending all my “free” time formatting the text of those books for publication in paperback and ebook. It is tedious work, but I need to make sure the insides live up to the great outsides that Ray DeLotell and Rich Westover have come up with!
   Some weeks ago, I gave a copy of The Draculata Nest to a co-worker of mine. Let’s call her… Diana. (Actually, that’s her name.) For a while, whenever we bumped into each other in the hallway, there were the standard, awkward excuses for not having read enough of the book to give an evaluation. Then, one morning, the phone extension in my office rang. It was her.
    I like Roland.
   He can be charming, can’t he?
   She was referring to Roland Trudeau, one of the main vampire characters in the Red Wolf saga. We chatted a little about the book (It’s easy to draw me into a conversation about my writing, you know.) Eventually, we both hung up and got back to work. Several days later, my phone rang again.
   I don’t like Roland any more.
  He doesn’t really care about anyone but himself, does he?
  No. I can’t believe he…
  Okay, we won’t go into the rest. You’ll have to read the book to really appreciate Trudeau’s machinations. Diana and I speculated some why he does the things he does. He is charming, seductive, ruthless, and soulless. Through the course of the Red Wolf saga, he becomes the character you love to hate. What makes him the way he is?
   Well, he is a vampire, after all. And in the Red Wolf novels, in case you didn’t know, vampires are the bad guys. That, in itself, explains a lot. But I thought I might take the opportunity to reveal to you some of his past, some things that are only hinted at in the story. Maybe it will shed some light on what sets him apart from other vampires in the nastiness department. Here goes...

   Roland Trudeau was born in Paris, France, during the latter part of the reign of Louis XIV. He was the bastard son of a minor aristocrat, Marc Trudeau, and a rather prominent courtesan of the time, Christelle Armand.

    Marc was in love with Christelle, as were a number of his peers, and when she revealed that he was the father of her child, he believed the pregnancy would cement their relationship and proposed to marry her. Christelle would have none of it. She was doing quite well in her chosen profession and had higher aspirations than Marc could provide. Shortly after the birth, she presented the infant Roland to Marc and told him she would not be able to help him rear the child. Marc, himself, did not want to be saddled with an infant, and shipped the baby off to live with his brother, Phillipe, who managed the family estate near Auxerre.

   Phillippe Trudeau was a family man at heart. He and his wife, who was barren, welcomed Roland and reared him as their own. Unlike many of the aristocracy, Phillippe worked alongside his men in the family vineyards, and he taught Roland to do the same. He loved the boy and the boy loved him, and when Phillippe contracted a sudden illness and died when Roland was seventeen, he left the family estate as the boy’s inheritance, Roland’s real father having been killed in a duel years before.

   Roland displayed an amazing talent for managing the Trudeau holdings, despite his young age. He was a natural businessman, and he expanded the markets for the already well-established Trudeau wines throughout Western Europe. By the time Roland was in his late twenties, the Trudeau family was truly rich.

   Roland wasn’t just a good businessman. His personality and good looks served to solidify him a prominent place in French aristocratic society, and he became a patron of the arts. When he met and fell in love with the Parisian artist, Frederic Bellard, Roland’s life changed forever.

   Bellard was an older man whose work was not especially popular at the time, but his charismatic personality made him very influential for some of the popular younger artists of the time. Roland fell under his spell, set Bellard up in a luxurious apartment in Paris, and stayed with him whenever business brought him to the city, which he made sure was often. The affair lasted several years until Frederic fell ill from what may have been tuberculosis. Roland provided Frederic with the best medical care available in Paris, which was the best in the world at the time, but when the physicians informed Roland his lover’s death was imminent, Trudeau, in desperation, sought help from an unlikely source, his mother.

    Christelle Armand had prospered greatly over the years. She was now known throughout Paris as The Lady of the Night. In spite of her advancing age, she continued to retain her youthful good looks. Many rumors surrounded her mysterious comings and goings, one of which was that she drank the blood of her lovers to stay young. Indeed, she was a vampire, and when Roland approached her she revealed to him her true nature.

   Christelle Armand refused Roland’s plea to bestow immortality on the ailing Frederic, but the maior of the Parisian Nest did not. The powerful French vampire, Dijon, saw great potential in the rich and popular young aristocrat. He offered to turn Roland and in turn allow Roland to turn his dying lover, knowing he would effectively gain control of the Trudeau riches in the bargain. Roland accepted the offer, became a vampire, and immediately went to Frederic with the promise of immortality.

   Frederic refused the offer. Immortality at the cost of his soul was not an attractive prospect for the old artist. He’d lived a good life and was ready to die. Roland was devastated. He begged and pleaded with his dying lover to no avail. Unwilling to let go, Roland forced himself on Frederic and attempted to turn him against his will. It didn’t work. Roland was too young a vampire. He was unskilled in turning anyone. To his eternal regret, he succeeded only in draining Frederic of every drop of blood. Frederic Bellard died, and with him went the final vestiges of Roland’s humanity.
   The remaining years of the 16th century were hard ones for Roland Trudeau. His maker, Dijon, was a harsh taskmaster. He used Trudeau mercilessly. He taunted him about his bastard origins, reminding Roland over and over that he didn’t deserve his family’s wealth. He sent Roland on all the most difficult and unpleasant errands. The Trudeau fortune disappeared over the years, their vineyards dried up, and the estate fell into disrepair and dereliction.

   But the French Revolution reversed Trudeau’s fortunes. French aristocratic vampires were not immune to the spirit of 1789, including Dijon. He lost his head to the infamous, silver-infused blade of the guillotine used by the vampiric bourgeoisie in Paris. The Parisian Nest was purged of all aristocracy. Roland, who everyone now knew as “the bastard” was spared.

   With his maker gone, Roland was free. He vowed never again to suffer under anyone’s rule but his own. He left Paris to seek his fortunes elsewhere. He travelled the world, especially the Far East, where he picked up his martial arts skills and became an expert with the katana. For a hundred years he wandered from nest to nest, until an opportunity arose for him in Eastern Europe when the red wolf, Alfonse the Vicious, tried to organize the Lycan into an army and began a thirty year war with the vampires.

   Roland was at the right place at the right time. His fighting skills helped him rise quickly through the ranks of the vampire army that was thrown together to stop the wolves. He proved to be a master strategist. In the end, it was his plan that was used to engineer the assassination of Alfonse and bring the war to a close.

   Roland Trudeau came away from the war with a solid reputation as an expert in fighting the Lycan. Since then he has used that reputation to amass a small fortune as a consultant wherever a nest faces a problem with wolves. In the 1940’s, the maior of the Queen City Nest in Charlotte brought him in to handle treaty negotiations with the famous Uwharrie Pack of werewolves, where he distinguished himself with his political skills. The maior offered him a permanent position as her second-in-command. Roland accepted, seeing the position as a stepping stone to the power he craved.
   Since then, Roland Trudeau has been biding his time, waiting for the opportunity he knows will come. Since the prophesy of the red wolf has resurfaced in his territory, he feels the time is now.

   From now until the time Dragon goes on sale, the ebook price for The Draculata Nest has been reduced to only $0.99. You can purchase it through one of the following venues. Click on the link that applies to you.

 DNest for kindle   DNest for nook   DNest in paperback   in Charlotte

 Until next time… Happy Reading!


Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jogging in the Dark


   Happy Sunday, readers! I know some of you are champing at the bit for news of The Dragon of Doughton Park. I sooooo want to release it before Halloween, but I still don’t have the cover available. I am waiting… patiently (yeah, right). We are a step closer, however, because this week Rich Westover provided me with an outstanding re-design of the cover for the new, improved edition of The Draculata Nest, which will be released along with Dragon. I think this will be much more attractive on bookshelves than the original. Check it out…
    Now that he’s done with the first one, and we’ve established somewhat of a theme, he expects the next cover to be available relatively quickly. Yaaaay! Not only are these books beginning to look as good on the outside as readers have found them to be on the inside, but they will be released in an expanded number of venues.

   Well, for those of you who didn’t read the original blog post, “Battle of the Bulge,” you may have been wondering what the number is that has appeared at the top of each post recently. It is my weight, in pounds. Yes, I’ve been trying to shame myself into losing 15 or 20 of those for health and aesthetic reasons. Overall, I can’t say it is working all that well, as you can tell from this week’s number, but I am committed. This week I took another desperate step towards the world of thin. I started jogging!

   Jogging is old school, I’ll admit. There are any number of kinder, gentler aerobic activities with better health benefits around (Zumba, anyone?). My chiropractor suggested I not jog too much a few years back, and my usual aerobic activity since then has been cycling.  But with my work schedule and the days getting shorter, I can’t find enough time during the daylight hours to ride.

   But, I can jog in the dark. In fact, it’s the best time to do it. No one can see me. The darkness wraps me in a warm blanket of anonymity. The reduced perspective from the lack of light makes it seem like I’m going faster. As long as I don’t run into a tree or something…

   So Tuesday morning my alarm goes off at 5 am. The weather forecast is for clear and not cold. My plan is to allow myself a half-hour warm-up, hit the jogging trail by 5:30, and make it back by 6:30 or so for a shower and breakfast. I can be at work by 7:30, exercised and ready for the day.
   But motivation is lacking. I automatically hit the snooze button, yet before I can drift back off to sleep I have the mother of all sneezing fits (allergies – it’s that time of year for me), which wakes me sufficiently that I haul myself out of bed. I pull on some sweats and stand barefoot in the dark of my living room. I only have 15 minutes left now, and I haven’t begun my warm-up
   I lift my arms over my head and inhale deeply, which morphs into a huge yawn. I try to start loosening up the vertebrae in my upper back with some neck and shoulder rolls. My chin drops to my chest and stays there. I start the internal pep talk…
    Are you asleep?
   No. I’m doing neck rolls.
   Then move your neck.

   Eventually I get down on my hands and knees to work on loosening my spine…
   You’re not moving.
   This is a yoga pose. It’s called Table.
   You’re not moving.
   It’s yoga. Table.
   You’re wasting time. You need to move.
   Now what are you doing?
   This is Puppy. More yoga.
   Are you asleep?

   We continue in this vein for another ten minutes. It’s time to go. In fact, it’s past time, already 5:35.
   We gotta go.
   I’m not warmed up yet
  You can warm up on the walk to the park.

   My internal motivator makes sense. We’re out the door, and as we walk the two hundred yards or so to the greenway, I do begin to warm up. In fact, it’s nice out this morning, and as I emerge from the wooded path that connects my apartment complex to the park wherein lies the greenway, it is suddenly all worth it.
   A waning gibbous moon illuminates the landscape, a gentle slope past soccer fields and a dog park towards the jogging trail that lies just across McAlpine Creek. A few bright stars are prominent in the sky, and the slope leading up towards Sardis Road on the other side of the creek is like a giant Christmas tree lit with lights that move through yellow, amber, and even the red of the blinking safety lights marking a cell phone tower. It’s beautiful. What a way to start the day!

   When I get to the trail, I stretch my legs one final time and take off jogging. I’ll go to the first mileage marker, walk some, then start jogging again. There’s a spring in my step. I think maybe I’m not in that bad a shape after all. But as the air begins to hit spots in my lungs that haven’t had oxygen in months, my breathing becomes labored. I’m gasping for air when voices startle me from behind. A group of three runners passes by, thin, shirtless, and chatting to each other like they don’t even have to breathe. They fly past me like I’m standing still.
   I am standing still. I’ve stopped. Can’t breathe. I force myself to start walking, and notice that I’ve reached my mileage marker. Okay, I was going to start walking at this point anyway. I meant to do that. Yeah, that’s it.
   I begin to catch my breath as I continue to walk, but I become aware of a dull ache in the front of my left leg at the hip joint, a reminder of the stress injury that sidelined me that last time I tried this.
   It’s all in your mind.
   Feels like it’s in my leg.
   Huffing and puffing, I skid to a stop at the next mileage marker and begin walking, this time with a distinct limp.
   You made it.
   My leg hurts.
   But you made it, and you’re not sucking for air as bad as you were. Walk it off.

   I do walk it off. It actually feels kind of good to be breathing deeply. But the next mileage marker comes too soon, and it’s time to jog again. With the first step, the ache in my leg becomes a sharp pain.
   Ignore it.
   The sharpness of the pain subsides, but radiates across my pelvis to my other leg. I hobble to the next mileage marker and start walking again. This cycle of torture and respite continues for about two miles until I finally reach my goal. I stumble out of the woods at the edge of a small lake. There is a warm glow in the east and a gentle mist that hangs over the calm water. A gaggle of Canadian geese glide gently through the mist in a V-formation and ski gracefully to a stop in the middle of the lake.
   It’s an idyllic scene. But I miss it. I’m in total pain from the waist down. I can barely put one foot in front of the other, and my eyes are glued to the ground lest I stumble and fall. I stagger past the geese, listing back and forth across the trail like I’ve downed a fifth of bourbon. The gentle slope back up to my complex feels like I’m climbing Mount Everest. I can barely make it up the stairs to my second floor apartment. I sink painfully to my knees in my living room, knowing that if I don’t stretch it’ll just get worse.
    Table again?
    Shut up.
   After a few minutes, I’m done. I don’t remember if I’ve stretched, but I’m in a different position, so I must have done something. It hurts to stand up. It hurts to walk. A warm shower gives some temporary relief, but I’m moving so slowly that I’m almost a half-hour late for work. Co-workers keep asking me what’s wrong. I tell them I jogged this morning. I get no encouragement, only looks of concern or insensitive laughter.
   Folks, it took me almost two days to recover from that episode. I tried it again on Friday. I went a little farther, it didn’t hurt quite as bad, and it didn’t take me as long to recover. But I’m not sure if I’m going to keep it up. I kind of have a “no pain, no pain” philosophy. Jogging hurts, and I think my body’s trying to send me a message. I’m going to think about it, body, and get back to you on that.
Hey,remember, folks:
   From now until the time Dragon goes on sale, the ebook price for The Draculata Nest has been reduced to only $0.99. You can purchase it through one of the following venues. Click on the link that applies to you.
Until next time… Happy Reading!