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Friday, August 19, 2011

Horrorfind Weekend 13 Update

Horrorfind Weekend 13 is fast approaching, now only a few weeks away (Sept 2-4).  And once again, I'll be making an appearance ... I know, I know, you've waited all year to see me.  Well, I can't wait to see all of you, too.

Last year, the convention drew a crowd of around 5000.  This year, I'm  expecting a much larger crowd, especially since both hotels sold out so fast.

As I've mentioned before, I'll be doing two readings at the convention:  Saturday, September 3 (10:00am – 10:30am) and again on Sunday, September 4 (11:00am – 11:30am).  Both readings will be held outside, underneath the carport at the rear of the Wyndham Gettysburg Hotel.

I'll be reading from my forthcoming children's novel EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS.  Here's a brief descriptions of the book:

For fourteen-year-old Eve Hallows, life can be summed up in one word—horrible.  She has the most horrible friends.  She lives in a horrible old castle.  Even her family is a bunch of horrible monsters.

However, in the monster-inhabited world of Gravesville—a world where messages are sent through Ouija boards, jack-o’-lanterns get facials to suit their moods, and the worst thing Eve has to deal with are those annoying zombie tourists who overrun her favorite graveyard during the Halloween season—horrible means wonderful.  And everything for Eve is perfectly horrible.

But her life is about to go head over heels when a mysterious group known as The Source starts terrorizing Gravesville.  Now she must move to the human world—where everything is opposite ... and for Eve, that's absolutely adorable!

Besides the readings, I'll also be giving away a limited number of special prizes--though you'll have to wait until the convention to find out what they are.  I will say the story focuses heavily on Halloween, and since this is Horrorfind Weekend, expect the prizes to be, well, spooky.

Hope to see you there! 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Thoughts on Books

Last time I visited Washington, D.C., I went to the National Archives to see all those famous historical documents--Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and so on-- and I remember thinking how marvelous those documents are, not only because of their meaning, but because of their beauty. There's something about that old parchment and the hand-crafted, painstaking alignment of the text that exudes a majestic quality.

Farther along, I found the more modern-day documents, those that were typed on boring stationary and faxed over secure data lines.  And though many of these documents were equally important, the packaging made the words insignificant and flat-out dull.

When I think of the future of the book form, I'm reminded of my trip to the National Archives.

Is there really anything wrong with eBooks? No, not inherently. Hell, I own an ereader, and I even use it on occasion. But ereaders are dull, lifeless creatures, the equivalent to secure data transmissions, and they make what I'm reading seem insignificant, perhaps because the words tend to take a backseat to the technology itself (especially in the case of devices like the iPad--not ereaders per say, but they usually gets lumped into the same category).

As writers, we need every outlet possible to get our work to our readers, and new technologies allow us to distribute to the masses at a very compelling price: Free.

But it saddens me just the same.  Hopefully the day never comes when I'm visiting the National Archives to see that rare artifact called the book.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


The demise of Borders has been thoroughly picked apart by pretty much every person with an interest in the written word.  Whatever circumstances led to their downfall--be it poor management, ebooks, Amazon--the result is the same ... It's over, Johnny.

What I find particularly sad is that ever since Border started its liquidation sale, my local store has never been busier.  Even at a mere 10% discount, the place was packed and the lines snaked around the aisles.  I've never seen anything like it.  Like Black Friday meets Groundhog Day.

And for 10%?  You get the same (or better) discount with a membership, people.  Makes me wonder if Borders should've had a store-closing sale a few years ago.  I'd made a comment about this to one of the employees last time I visited, and he told me that the place has been like something out of a zombie apocalypse novel ever since the sales began.  I hope the employees are at least getting compensated for all their extra work.

Today, the Borders near me started selling off their furniture.  I called up the store to inquire about some bookshelves and chairs, and the store manager who answered eagerly passed me off to the liquidator, which made me laugh.  I could tell by the liquidator's tone that the manager has been passing anything and everything off to him.  I'm sure I'd do the same.

Borders was one of my family's favorite places to visit.  We each had our aisles of interest (mine being the horror section--a rarity in bookstores these days) and after we'd pick up a few books, we'd gather in the cafe and read our purchases and sip our drinks.  It was a nice way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I'll miss it deeply.

I did manage to procure a few pieces of furniture, so at least I'll have some memories of my favorite bookstore.  I guess I'm sentimental that way.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Eve Hallows and the Book of Shrieks - Cover Design by Shaun Lindow

It goes without saying that if you've decided to go the self-pubbed route, you're job description goes far beyond writer.  Some of that extra work is tiresome, and just about all of it distracts you from the main task of actually writing.  That being said, it's not without some benefits--namely the ability to have complete control over your cover design.

Thanks to the ridiculous talent of artist Shaun Lindow, I couldn't be happier with the results of the cover for my forthcoming children's novel EVE HALLOWS AND THE BOOK OF SHRIEKS, so I thought I'd talk a little about the process of bringing the cover from concept to finished product.

Shaun and I tossed around some ideas early in the process.  Basically, it was him explaining what works and me saying what I would like to see and the two of us meeting on common ground.  Shortly after those brief discussions, Shaun sent me four concept sketches.

 Already it was a hard decision.  I liked them all!  I felt the top right image truly captured Eve's moody attitude, but I also wanted the whole family on the cover.  I told Shaun my concerns and he came back with something even better: How about a candid shot of the family getting ready for a photo?  I loved the idea, and he sketched it out.

This was the one I decided to go with (above), so Shaun put together a more detailed sketch to make sure the colors and layout were exactly how I wanted them (below).

From there, I was like a nervous soon-to-be father pacing around my writing room.  I've seen Shaun's work, so I trusted him completely, but there's always that worry: He didn't read the entire book.  He doesn't understand the characters like I do ... and so on.

But then he came back with this, and all those little worries slipped away:

And here's the final design with spine and back cover.

I can't praise Shaun Lindow enough for his artistic talent and his ability to take my scatterbrained ideas and turn them into a beautiful cover.  If you're shopping around for an artist, then you should add him to your short list of professionals who charge reasonable fees for quality work.

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