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Join Me in the Madhouse
Day 4 of the Veins Blog Tour

September 8th, 2014

Vortex CoverYes, this really is Day 4, just as my previous post (also dated September 8) really was Day 3. It seems the date in my WordPress settings went a little crazy and moved to another time zone. But it’s all corrected now. Amazing what a little revision can do. Which bring us to the topics of revision and going crazy (both of which I cover in a guest installment over at one of my favorite blog sites, Stephanie Wytovich’s Join Me in the Madhouse).

The guest blog considers why writers should listen to those inner voices that know when something is finished . . . and when it isn’t. Along the way, it draws on insights by Patrick Rothfuss, Truman Capote, and others who have struggled with seeing works through to completion.

Most significantly (for me at least) it answers a question that I’m sure is foremost on your mind. Namely: “When’s Vortex coming out?” To find out, all you have to do is click here . . . and I’ll meet you on the other side.

Image:
Rhonda Libbey’s cover for
Vortex: Book Three of the Veins Cycle, coming November 4.

Have Stories: Will Travel

October 27th, 2013

The Scop Road to BrightonContinuing the tradition of the traveling bard, the 21st Century Scop will be hitting the road this week, heading off to England to give readings at the University of Brighton on Wednesday, October 30 (5:30 PM), and then at the World Fantasy Convention’s Reading Café on Saturday, November 2 (12:30 PM). If you’re going to be in the area, I’ll hope to see you there.

Naturally, I also plan to spend time networking with colleagues at both the University and World Fantasy, taking part in the oldest form of social media – face to face contact.  We are creatures of nuance, and much of what we have to teach to and learn from one another comes across best in real conversation.

It’s the same with story performance, during which skilled readers pick up queues from their listeners and adjust their deliveries accordingly. Therein lies the quality that sets live readings apart from any other story deliver system. When storyteller and audience share the same physical space, magic happens.

Raw Dog Book Route: (A) Michael Arnzen at CMU. (B) Stephanie Wytovich at Big Idea. (C) Matt Betts at Muse Stand. (D) Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books. E) Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s.

I had a chance to watch this in action last weekend, when Raw Dog Screaming Press unleashed five of their top writers on Pittsburgh, sending them out to present a series of readings at five different bookstores: Michael A. Arnzen at the CMU Bookstore, Stephanie Wytovich at The Big Idea Bookstore, Matt Betts at The Muse Stand, Heidi Ruby Miller at Station Square, and Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s Used Books. The readings started at 1:00 and continued until 6:00, following a course of some dozen miles.

I caught the last session at Eljay’s, where I settled into the front row while rain hammered the storefront window. Outside it was gray and cold, traffic racing by in a haze on West Liberty Avenue. But inside it was warm and cozy. The perfect atmosphere for a reading.

Jason Jack MillerJason shared a couple of excerpts from the Revelations of Preston Black, engaging the audience with his folksy just-friends-shooting-the-breeze style. It’s a voice that comes across in the writing, but hearing it live really enhances the story’s tone. And the rain tapping the wall of glass behind him added a nice rhythm to the narrative.

Of course, live performance is always an adventure. I’m sure there must have been times when an Old-English scop found himself upstages by distractions in or around the mead-hall. That’s more or less what happened to Heidi Ruby Miller at Bradley Books when a train decided to ruble past Station Square during her scheduled reading slot. No matter. Heidi scopped on, bringing her presentation to Eljay’s and delivering it after Jason concluded his reading, making for a terrific conclusion to the day-long event.

Heidi Rubi MillerHeidi read from her novel Greenshift, which is available through Dog Star books, Raw Dog’s science-fiction imprint.

Other people sighted at Eljay’s were Kevin Hayes, Laurie Mann, Diane Turnshek, and Karen Yun-Lutz – all members of Parsec, an organization devoted to the promotion of literary science-fiction, fantasy, horror and other speculative fictions.

A nice contingent or Raw Dog and Dog Star authors were also there, including Michael A. Arnzen, Albert Wendland, K. Ceres Wright, and Stephanie Wytovich.

Of course, Raw Dog founders John Edward Lawson and Jennifer Barnes were also on hand.

It was a great time, and I wish I could have stayed around for the dinner that followed. Instead, I headed out into the rain and made my way across town to do some scopping of my own at Riley’s Pour House.

Next up, we’ll revisit the topic of flash fiction with some questions submitted by the good people who attended my recent PAISTA presentation. Then I’ll be following the scop road to the University of Brighton and World Fantasy.

Scop on!

The Stars Align

October 19th, 2013

flotsam-wfcI’ve just heard from a good friend who has a membership to the  World Fantasy Convention in Brighton. The convention sold out over six months ago, and since then memberships to the international gathering of writers, editors, publishers and fans have been trading like stock futures. If you’re interested in fantastic literature, WFC is definitely the go-to event of the year. But my friend tells me that he thinks he might skip it, toss the membership, stay home and get some writing done. Crazy? Maybe, but I can sympathize. The pull of unfinished work is strong . . . but sometime you have to resist.

This fall season has been amazingly busy, with the Baltimore Book Festival a few weeks back, the PAISTA Conference earlier this week, a performance at Riley’s Pour House tonight, and events at the University of Brighton and World Fantasy’s Reading Café coming up later this month.

1383702_10151609605645426_1348373447_nAnd there’s more.

Today, some of my good friends at Raw Dog Screaming Press and Dog Star Books are holding a bookstore crawl in Pittsburgh, with events kicking off this afternoon at 1:00 with four-time Bram Stoker winner Michael A. Arnzen reading and signing at the Carnegie-Mellon Bookstore in Oakland. After that, Stephanie Wytovich appears a couple miles north at The Big Idea Bookstore on Liberty Avenue. Then it’s ten blocks west for Matt Betts at The Muse Stand at 3:00. After that, at 4:00, Bradley’s Books at Station Square will play host to Heidi Ruby Miller before the day wraps up with Jason Jack Miller at Eljay’s in Dormont.

An amazing day!

There’s no way I’m going to miss dropping in on the Raw Dog writers before heading to Riley’s for a sound check. Seriously, if you live anywhere near Pittsburgh (say within 100 miles or so), you owe it to yourself to make at least one of these appearances. Yes, I know, there are other things to do, but who knows when these stars will align again?

In the days to come, watch this space for a couple of follow-up reports. One from PAISTA (where the good people who attended my presentation on Flash Fiction provided some terrific questions that I’d like to respond to here) and another on today’s events. After that I hope to get to at least one WFC preview before crossing the pond to the UK.

Stop back soon. More to come.

Until then, scop on!

The Next Big Thing (Part 2)

January 17th, 2013

If you read my previous post, you know that my good friend Alice Henderson has tagged me in The Next Big Thing blog-hop, and now it’s my turn to respond.

Here we go!

What is the working title of your book?

Right now it’s titled Vortex, although there is a good chance the title will change to Vortices before the book is released later this year. Either way, it will be Book Three of the Veins Cycle and the fifth book in my series of V-titles from the good people at Fantasist Enterprises.

Visions by Lawrence C. ConnollyWhere did the idea come from for the book?

The basic premise began evolving while I worked on the novelette “Great Heart Rising,” which originally appeared in F&SF and has since been reprinted in my collection Visions: Short Fantasy SF.

“Great Heart” revolves around an entire family that dies suddenly within their suburban home. The police can see the bodies through the windows, but anyone who goes in to investigate is unable to make it back out alive. And there’s a kid in the basement with a cell phone calling 911. “Help me!” she’s saying. “Get me out of here!” So of course, someone has to get her out, and that someone turns out to be a young man who has ancient ties to the land beneath the house.

All those things — the setting, pacing, mystical undertones — eventually led to the development of Veins.

Veins by Lawrence C. ConnollyWhat genre does your book fall under?

Like the others in the series, it will probably be marketed as a supernatural thriller.

When Veins first came out, some reviewers called it urban fantasy, citing its portrayal of ancient powers in a contemporary setting.

If I were assigning the category, I’d push for Rural Fantasy.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’m generally inclined to leave questions such as this to the casting agents.

Vipers by Lawrence C. ConnollyWhat is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Axle searches his dreams for an artifact that will save the earth.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The third Veins book is being represented by the same agency that handled my previous books. It will be published by Fantasist Enterprises and edited by Will Horner – one of the best editors working in fantasy today.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Four months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Veins and Vipers . . . of course!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Will Horner at Fantasist, who saw potential for a series after reading Veins back in 2006.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Together, the books in the Veins Cycle cover a single 24-hour period, with the final book bringing the story full circle in some startling ways. The FE art department is also promising an amazing cover that continues the warning-sign motif of the previous books. Can’t share anything yet, but soon . . . very soon!

So . . . that’s what I’m up to.

Now I’d like to introduce you to five writers associated with Seton Hill University’s graduate program in Writing Popular Fiction, all of whom have new projects that definitely qualify as next big things.

The writers are:

Querus Abuttu, a.k.a. Cin Ferguson, a.k.a. Q. She is one of the most exciting new voices in sf and bizarro fiction you’re likely to encounter. Currently an MFA candidate at SHU, Q is definitely going to be making waves in the days ahead. That’s us to the right, hanging ten after the Bram Stoker Awards banquet in Salt Lake City last year (the night my book Voices lost to Joyce Carole Oates’ The Corn Maiden).

Leslie Davis Guccione, the author of over 30 novels for adult, middle grade, and teen readers. She’s one of my fellow residency writers at SHU and one of the best writing mentors around. Of her latest book The Chick Palace, Adina Senft, the RITA Award winning  author of the Amish Quilt trilogy, writes: “New romance, empty nests, love, secrets, betrayal and forgiveness … The Chick Palace has it all, along with healthy dollops of humor and wisdom, all drenched in the sunshine of memory.”

Ann Kopchik, a.k.a. Anna Zabo. Ann is a SHU alum. Her erotic romance Close Quarter was published last month by Loose Id. She also writes sf and has been a regular at Context, Confluence, and other regional conventions. Definitely a talent worth watching.

Meg Mims, another SHU alum. Meg won the Spur Award last year for her debut  novel Double Crossing, a historical western mystery that was also named a finalist in the 2012 Best Books by USA Book News.

Stephanie Wytovich, an MFA candidate at SHU. Stephanie is a Rhysling Award nominated poet, and her  first poetry collection Hysteria will be published later this year by Raw Dog Screaming Press. That’s us on the right, grinning down an advancing  hoard of zombie Gumbies at Horror Realm 2012.

Bizarro, chick lit, erotica, historical western mystery, horror poetry — how’s that for an eclectic lineup?

Querus, Leslie, Ann, Meg, and Stephanie will be posting their answers by the end of next week. Be sure to check them out. After that, please consider stopping back here for more musings on media, music, and fiction.

Until then . . . keep reading!