Sunday, November 11, 2012

A Corpse of Mistaken Identity

I can't tell you exactly how the word Zaomancer first popped into my head, but I can give you a good idea.

Usually those moment of character creation happen very much on the back burner for me. Eric Courtney, from my Void City series, came from some point between High School and college when I was playing in a friend's roleplaying game. Eric's mad, murderous daughter Greta just showed up on the page as I wrote, but the protagonist of my new novella happened on a three-way call one afternoon.

I'd just heard about the death of a very cool guy in fandom. Giving his name might be a little disrespectful as I'd just met him and spoken with him for all of thirty minutes (valuable minutes I hope readers will find once they see the epic fantasy I've had lurking on my WIP list for the past several years). My friend Rob and I were talking about random stuff and my friend Richard cursed.

"What's wrong?" I asked

"I have to resurrect a database," he grumbled.

That's all it took. One nanosecond I had no idea for a character who could use the breath of life to raise the dead, imbue life into inanimate objects (aging himself in the process)... and the next second he sprang to life fully formed with not only some truly long reaching implications for the Void City gang, but a slew of novels, novellas, and short stories to adventure in all on his own, too.

What I said out loud was, "That's what we need: a resurrectionist."

But... I didn't like the sound of resurrectionist and neither did my wife. Thus Zaomancer.

I can't wait for folks to see how Richard a.k.a. Marlo Morne gets along with Greta when they eventually have their big adventure, but if you'd like to see a glimpse of him in his own little pocket of the Void City universe, just a short side trip away in Birmingham, Alabama, you can check him out in A CORPSE OF MISTAKEN IDENTITY.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Con Schedule

I'll be at the Alabama Phoenix Festival this weekend and Con Carolinas next weekend.


Here is my schedule for the Alabama Phoenix Festival:

Personal Event Schedule

Fri 12:30 PM Room 4 Balancing Humor and Seriousness
Sat 10:00 AM Room 4 Hero Smackdown
Sat 11:30 AM Room 4 What’s Mind is Mine
Sat 7:00 PM Room 4 Dead Authors' Society
Sun 2:30 PM Room 4 What editors look for

And my schedule for Con Carolinas:

Friday 09:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Event Title: Gender Roles in Sci-Fi and Fantasy

Location: Lakeshore II - Programming 2

Saturday 06:00 pm to 07:00 pm

Event Title: Urban Fantasy

Location: Lakeshore II - Programming 2

Saturday 07:00 pm to 08:00 pm

Event Title: Killing Friends and Enemies

Location: Lakeshore II - Programming 2

You are moderating this panel

Saturday 09:00 pm to 10:00 pm

Event Title: Vampires: Have They Lost Their Bite?

Location: Welwyn - Programming 6


Friday, March 23, 2012

Midsouth Con Schedule 2012

Midsouth Con Schedule:

Friday, 3/23 7:00 PM - Raising a Child in Fandom Cartoons to comics, movies to literature: Raising a family in the world of fandom.

Friday, 3/23 9:00 PM - A Bigger Slice Discuss breaking away from licensed characters and creating your own

Friday, 3/23 11:00 PM - The Scoop on Sex Is it a romance novel without it? How much is too much? And do I have to
use flowery euphemisms? Come with your questions on how to craft convincing carnal knowledge.

Saturday, 3/24 10:00 AM - Webcomics Are paper comics going the way of the dinosaur, newspapers, and other print media? Discuss webcomics with the artists.

Saturday, 3/24 8:00 PM - Bad Guys The villains we love, hate, and love to hate.

Sunday, 3/25 11:00 AM - Guide to Writers' Groups How to find or form a writers' group and get the most out of it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Vampirism: For Want of Chocolate

On Valentine's Day it's customary to I've chocolates or candy. Instead I give you chocolate and vampires. ;)

For Want of Chocolate

A Void City Short Story

© J. F. Lewis

Nobody warned me about chocolate, which is why I was standing in the mall right outside Godiva, and to be honest, I thought I was going to go berserk. The luxurious bitter scent of dark chocolate mixed with other odors that I'd never noticed before: a spicy flair, a fruity bouquet...

When I was human, those odors never sang to me the way they did now that my olfactory senses had received a mystical boost. Of course, no matter how good it smelled, I knew I couldn't have any. Vampires can't eat... and I'd known that. Hell, I'd been dating one, for over a year. But in the moment, when I got the news about mom's illness and Jason made his offer, I hadn't been thinking about food, my job...anything.

My boyfriend Jason laughed at me. He leaned over the fourth floor balcony rail, by the DVD store next to the escalators. His long black hair cascaded past his hard muscled shoulders, and he tossed it back as he laughed. He whispered his words, but I heard him clearly. "What? You forgot vampires can't eat?"

An older woman brushed past me, purchase made. She didn't wait until she was out of the mall to open her chocolate. She discarded the bag, removing the multi-colored ribbon from the matte gold box. I felt like that rat in the Pixar movie, the one that can cook, because when she opened the box, the world faded away and the scent canceled out everything else. The nearby food court, the woman's own body odor, even the siren call of blood itself, were replaced by this cornucopia of rich, dark wonder.

I'd always laughed at Jason for the way he'd stared at me whenever I ate a bag of Cheetos. He'd focused on every nuance of what was such a simple action, eyes locked in on each individual Cheeto as it went into my mouth. Now I knew how he'd felt. The sensation was overwhelming, like hang-gliding... or really good sex.

Jason laughed again as I began to stagger, but I didn't look up at him. My eyes were on the chocolate. I recognized each piece, from the Coffee Feather to the Raspberry Caramel Duet. My fangs came out, tearing through my gums. It was only the second time they'd ripped free of their hidden sheaths; already the pain was more tolerable.

"Careful." Jason was next to me in a blink, right hand on the back of my neck. He forced me back against the glass of the shop, left hand on my abdomen. "Just watch."

I'd have gone for the Dark Ganache Heart, the Pecan Crunch, or the Dark Mint Medallion, but she didn't. She sat at an abandoned table at the edge of the deserted food court, the metal chair's creak inaudible to humans, but loud as the clatter of high heels on tile to me and to Jason. She lifted a brown square, the 72% Dark Demitasse, and unwrapped it with blasphemous abandon.

I wanted her to break it in half to savor it, but she chewed it recklessly, without thought, without care.

"She's not even tasting it," I said with a snarl of outrage.

The woman glared up at me with a scowl, her lips drawn up into a look of porcine self-importance. What must I have looked like to her? A skinny little bitch,dressed in black? Did she envy my hair, my pale perfect skin? Or did she look at the blue lipstick, the eyeliner, the tiny gold stud in my nostril and dismiss me as trash? Jason laughed again, a gentle laugh, a pitying laugh, and I could see it in the woman's eyes... she thought he was laughing at her.

As if to spite me, she grabbed the Pecan Crunch and stuffed it in, staring me in the eyes. I willed her to stop, screamed it in my head. To my surprise, she froze, gaze locked with mine and I felt our minds touch. She was a petty little thing. Her thoughts thrashed against mine, but there was no real fight in her, no spark.

"Did you just lock minds with her?" There was wonder in his voice, tinged with fear.

"She does not get to hork down the Pecan Crunch without even tasting it."

Jason's eyes narrowed. "Is it possible you're a Master? Most Soldiers can't instinctively lock minds with a human."

There are four levels of vampire, and Jason is only a Soldier, second from the bottom. If I turned out to be a Master, I'd be more powerful than him. But I didn't care about that; I cared about the woman and the woman's chocolate. Her green eyes were still locked with my brown eyes. I smiled.

"If she eats the chocolate and then I drink her blood...?" I let the question hang.

"It doesn't work that way." Jason released me and I took one step toward the lady with the chocolate. "I tried it with Cheetos and this homeless dude outside my old apartment. Even after I made the guy eat eleven big bags, I couldn't taste a thing."

"Damn it!"

But there's more to chocolate than the taste right? I told myself.

Layers of chocolate melted in the woman's mouth, revealing the pecan pieces within, the nuggets of crisped rice, and I watched as a bead of brown drool escaped the edge of her mouth and slid down her chin. An urge to leap upon her and lick the drool from her face roared up from deep inside me and I looked away.

In that instant, she was in control again and she threw herself away from me with such force that she fell out of the chair. I wanted to walk across the dull tile and lift her over my head, break her, smash her, because she could have what I craved and she didn't even have the decency to savor it. As if stuffing her face with fine chocolate was acceptable.

Jason was restraining me again, but not for long. I elbowed him hard and he went flying, arms and legs stretched out in front of him, his face a comical mask of surprise as he hurtled toward the glass window of the Godiva store behind me like an umbrella caught in the wind.

I'm strong.

He caught himself at the last possible second, hands flat against the marble above the window. Using the momentum of my blow, he rolled backwards up the wall, caught the iron rail behind his head, and hung there for an instant before dropping back to the ground. The funny thing was, no one noticed it happened except for me, Jason, and possibly the woman. It had all happened that quickly. Vampire speed.

Whether she'd seen Jason's vampire-acrobatics or not, the woman was preparing to make a break for the parking deck. And taking her chocolate with her. There must have been forty bucks or more of Godiva's finest, and she wasn't just going to leave it behind. As she looked toward the escalator, I tested my own speed, appearing before her in a blur, head cocked to one side. Our eyes met and before she could look away, I had her again.

Sit. Back. Down. I thought at her. She followed the order. Again the metal of the chair creaked beneath her weight. I looked beyond the extra pounds, beyond my own casual, judgmental assessment, and really saw her. She was pretty in her way. Her make-up was inexpertly applied, but she was trying. With a better dye-job and a few make-up tips she'd be cute.

"What are you doing, Haley?" Jason whispered.

"I just want her to do it right," I hissed.

My name is Haley, I thought at her. Say it. Say hello.

"Hello, Haley?" she asked in a weak, frightened, yet pleasant voice.

I'm not going to hurt you, I thought at her again. Not if you follow my instructions.

"Can you do that?" I asked aloud.

She nodded, and I crossed the space between us and sat in one of the two unoccupied chairs at the food court table, resting my leather-jacketed elbows on the smooth, whitish surface.

"How can you do this?"

"I'm a vampire," I told her. My fangs were still out, and she started to draw away from me. I caught her wrist in a grip stronger than Mike, my trainer at the company gym, had ever had.

The company gym. I went to work on Friday, still human. Today is Saturday and I'm undead now. What do I do about a job? I work mornings! Who has time to worry about chocolate?

I did.

Nothing was more important to me right now than chocolate. I couldn't even muster the effort to lie to myself about it. Nothing, not Jason, not the woman across from me, not my mother in the hospital bed back home in Utah. Nothing was more important than the chocolate!

"What's your name?"

"Liz," she said. Her eyes were locked on my painted blue fingernails, which dug into the skin at her wrist. I let go.

"Liz." I rolled the word around in my mouth, feeling the strangeness of the fangs there, listening to odd way they affected my voice. "That's a pretty name." A bit of red spittle hit her cheek as the fangs slurred my sibilant. I wiped it away.

"Sorry, Liz." I handled the sibilants more carefully that time, speaking the words in a slow measured cadence. "Blood is the only fluid I have now and I'm not used to speaking around the fangs, yet."

"You're really a vampire?"


"I don't believe you. This is some kind of trick."

Believe me, I thought at her, catching her eyes with my stare again. Her panic almost forced me out, but my personality, my will, was stronger than hers. You'd think a vampire would win a mental contest automatically, but we don't. Jason had once described it as the undead version of the old Jedi Mind Trick: it's only one hundred percent effective on the weak-minded. After a second, after my mind had forced hers to submit, she believed me.

"Are you going to eat me?" She blinked back tears.

"Oh, come on," Jason whispered, the soul of impatience. "I thought you might want to go to the mall, buy some new boots or something. Eat a tween. I didn't think we were going to get stuck here all night messing around with some middle-aged office chick. I still want to see what kind of animal you can turn into."

In the presence of the chocolate, the idea of turning into a bat lost its appeal. I wanted to fly, true, loved the idea of soaring on wings of my own. It had even been part of Jason's pitch. And it had hit home at the time, bringing back memories of hang gliding with my dad, out at The Point back in Utah. Flying had been the only thing the two of us had ever really done as a father-daughter activity. It had been years, but I could still close my eyes and feel the freedom of gliding through the air. The idea that of doing that, flying, without gear -- truly soaring -- was a dream come true. But the chocolate... to give that up to be a squeaky little bat? I had serious buyer's remorse, and undeath came with no right of rescission.

"So go eat a tween," I told him.

He cursed, threw his hands up in the air. I could smell his frustration, but he wasn't angry.

"Just hurry it up, okay?"

"I'll make it up to you," I told him and he softened, grinning the grin that make him look like a dark angel, the grin that had talked me into joining him in undeath when I got the word about mom last night.

"Cool," he said. "We've got about thirty minutes before the mall closes. I think I'll go check out the video games or maybe the roleplaying game store." He'd gone from upset to realizing he could go to all the places I thought were a waste of time. He walked away, whistling the theme to The Andy Griffith Show like a True Nerd.

"What do you want from me?" Liz asked.

"I want you to eat a piece of chocolate." Her eyebrows raised and she opened her mouth to interrupt. But something stopped her. The fangs or the angry look in my eye, I don't know which. I said, "I want you to eat it properly. Enjoy it. Savor it."

"And then?"

I laughed. "And then, I give you some make-up tips and I let you go."

She laughed with only the slightest touch of hysteria, trying to roll with it, to keep calm. Liz had a pretty laugh, a high pitched but pleasant titter. She wasn't a snorter like me. "Don't get me wrong, Haley, but you and I don't exactly have the same fashion possibilities. You're gorgeous. You look like that Trinity woman from the Matrix movies, but with better hair and nicer features."

"I also used to work the make-up counter at Macy's."

"Really?" Her eyes brightened and her voice only cracked a little when she spoke.

I nodded. "Yes. So please, do this for me. Take a piece of chocolate." Her hand moved toward one of the Dark Mint Medallions and I realized that I'd kill her if I had to watch her enjoy that particular piece.

"No!" I batted her hand away with such force that it brought tears to her eyes. "Sorry." I took her hand. Pressed my cold hand against her warm one. The warmth of her body was like a beacon. If I hadn't eaten before the mall, I'd have been at her throat. "Please. Let me pick."

I let my hands linger on the pieces, caressing the molded chocolate shell of the Open Oyster, the rich brown profile of the Dark Lion of Belgium, the sinuous curves of the Midnight Swirl, before settling on the 50% Dark Demitasse. That, I could bear to watch, I thought. I removed the light brown wrapper and held the hard square of chocolate between my thumb and forefinger, its shiny gloss smooth beneath my fingers. A scent like toasted bread wafted up to me. Unable to resist, I put pressure on the chocolate and it broke clean with a crystal-clear snap.

Liz was mesmerized. "You're serious about chocolate."

I handed her the larger of the two pieces. "Smell it."

She did.

"Put it in your mouth, but don't chew it. Let it melt." Liz did as I commanded. Her eyes closed, but mine widened, watching her for every little twitch.

"Wow," she said after several seconds had passed, "And you gave this up?"

"Don't push me, Liz."

I slipped the other half into the pocket of my jeans and we headed to Macy's to give Liz the tips I'd promised. I stumbled slightly as we walked and leaned against her for support, my legs trembling in the same way they might after flying, or sex. The only thing missing was the racing of my pulse, the pounding of my heart... which no longer beat.

Changing Liz's look took no time at all. She'd been using the wrong foundation and concealer for half a lifetime. That by itself made a huge difference. I said goodbye to Liz and went back to the Godiva store, feeling empty. I watched through the window as the employee counted down the till. When Jason caught up with me, he was swinging a GameStop bag in his hand.

"They had the new..."

I kissed him, stopping the flow of words. I didn't care what new video game they had, even if it was one that I'd want to play, too. I didn't care. I was hungry. I wanted food. I had a sliver of chocolate in my pocket and it wasn't melting because my body wasn't warm enough, and I knew that if I put it in my mouth not only would I not be able to taste it, but it would make me sick, very sick, and have me vomiting blood all over the tile floor of the mall.

"You said we can turn into animals," I said, breaking the kiss. "How? What kind?"

Please let it be more than bats, cats, dogs, and rats.

"Well. Drones can't turn into anything and Soldiers usually only get one. Masters and Vlads can do several..."

"I don't care about all that, Jason." I squeezed his arm. "Just what kind and how do I do it?"

"You concentrate, picture yourself as the animal, but be careful. I think you're a Master, but if you're a Soldier, then the first one you pick might be the only one you ever get to choose." His eyes crinkled in amusement. "There's a stripper I heard of who can only turn into a frog."

"I didn't know vampires could turn into frogs."

"Oh, yeah, we can turn into anything pretty much. But choose wisely," he said the last part with an accent, trying to mimic the grail knight from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

The mall was closing, but I didn't care. I was going to turn into something with feathers. It didn't matter if the bird was sensible for a nocturnal predator or not. I just needed something, a guilty pleasure to replace the ones I'd lost. I perched on the metal rail of the balcony and pictured myself as a hawk, a bird of prey. I might not be free to eat, but I would be free to fly. Flight would be a consolation.

The transformation hurt, like I was being forced into a tiny rubber ball as my bones twisted in on themselves, poking my insides, but then I had feathers rising out of my skin. The pain stopped and I fell. I was a red-tailed hawk and I flew, my cry echoing through the mall.

Gliding to the top of the five-story atrium and down again to brush my wingtips against one of the mall's fountains, I re-evaluated my choice: I didn't give up chocolate to be a vampire. I can't think of it that way. I gave it up for wings -- real wings, with rich brown feathers streaked with tan; tail feathers a deep rich red, dotted with dark black bars. That trade I can deal with. It still hurts, but with every wing beat, I know that it's enough.

Barely, but it's enough.


If you enjoyed that little taste of Void City, be sure to check out my novels set in the same universe: STAKED, ReVAMPED, CROSSED, and BURNED.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Today we have something a little special. James R. Tuck, is the author of the Deacon Chalk Bounty Hunter series. His first novel, BLOOD AND BULLETS came out this week and rather than do a standard interview, James and I decided it might be more fun to provide an interview between two of our characters.

Of course, given that James's main character is a monster hunter and most of my characters are monsters, a face to face meeting would have been out of the question, so this one starts with a phone call from Evelyn (my ex-reporter nukekubi featured in BURNED... which came out last week) to Deacon. Call it a fact finding mission.

Let's skip past the niceties and straight to the questions, shall we?


Evelyn: You're a monster hunter, one of the most important questions for a nukekubi (who has never killed a human, but has slain many vampires) is this: How do you define monster?

Deacon: A monster does evil shit. Simple and straight to the point.

I used to say a monster is anything not human, but life is messy and hell, I'm not stock-from-the-factory human anymore myself. So I had to adjust my definition.

But I don't have a lot of time for moral equivocations. I can't handhold anybody through their personal trauma. If you have a troubled past, did some evil shit back in the day then you had better have pulled your head from your ass before I catch up with you.

I believe in Redemption, but it's not my job to give it out. You find that on your own time. But if you are

doing evil shit then I'll stop you.

That's my job.

How do you define what a monster is?

Evelyn: I used to let a group of vampire hunters, The Pythagoreans, make those choices for me, but that was the easy way. Not everything is black and white.

Speaking of which, a... friend... wanted me to ask "Have you ever retired a human by mistake?" I think, Greta meant it as a sarcastic Blade Runner quote, but I think it raises an interesting question. I'm sure you run into your fair share of human monsters while tracking the supernatural ones down. How do you deal with them?

Deacon: The Pythagoreans? Oh man, glad you got shed of those assholes.

Greta sounds okay if she's quoting Bladerunner.

To answer the question, I always keep in mind that I'm not a cop. I leave the fine details that need investigation to them. Let them sort it out, it's why we pay taxes. When I get involved it's usually a pretty clear scene as to who is evil and who ain't.

But if you throw in with monsters then welcome to the crosshairs.

It's like my dad used to say before he left this shitty old world "Birds of a feather get cooked in the same pot."

So I have run across the occasional sunnuvabitch that needed to be set straight. It's part of the job. Do it, move on. I don't feel bad.

So are you vampire only? Or do you take on all kinds of monsters?

Evelyn: Right now it's mainly vampires, but I've handled demons, and the occasional rogue therianthrope. I'm working something of a long term reclamation gig right now. Kind of a there's-still-good-in-her deal.

I'm not sure if you ever make an exception and do those, but worrying about whether or not I should is my own personal monster, I suppose... The one's I think I could have saved. Maybe even should have saved. That and weregeckoes. Those things just aren't right.

How about you? What is the monster that scares you the most?

Deacon: Never ran into a Were-Gecko. I had to put down a crack-dealing, child molester Were-Polar Bear though. I've cleared my town of almost all the Were-wolves and Were-Panthers. The Were-wolves were a pain in the ass. They were run by this asshole named Krueger, a white-power, wannabe viking, skinhead, piece of shit. A real turd. They used to go "recruiting" finding skinheads int he area and infecting them with lycanthropy to build their gang. They had a throwdown war with the local Black Panthers which were made of actual black Were-Panthers. That was a mess and a half.

As far as scary goes, well, that would be Angels. Those golden bastards are wicked scary. That whole "personification of the Wrath of God" thing just gets way too heavy. They didn't cover that shit in Catechism class.

As for the redemption gig, I have a good friend, hell mentor really, named Father Mulcahy who handles that end of the business. I save the bodies and leave the souls to him.

Do you have a mentor now that you are out from the Pythagoreans? Or are you flying solo?

Evelyn: I think if I told you who my mentor was, you'd want to drive into Void City and try to kill him or her, so I'll table that one.

I know the answer to this one may take us to a dark place, so feel free not to answer, but how did you wind up hunting monsters?

Deacon: My family was killed by monsters. ........

I don't want to talk about it. No offense, but we aren't there yet me and you. You seem nice, but not that damn nice.

A monster killed my family. I killed him and now I will kill everyone of them I find.

Nuff said.

On to a different topic, I'm not coming to Void City anytime soon. I've got my hands full right now with a bloodsucking hell-bitch that set me up and tried to have me offed. I was on my way there when I got your call. Besides, after chatting you up, I think you might just work out okay.

You did realize I took this call to check you out right?

Evelyn: Fair enough. My origin isn't quite so dark, but when humans or ex-humans start hunting monsters it's usually not for the fun of it.

If it helps, I'm sorry you had to go through that. But about the call, yeah, I knew there would be a little mutual scoping out. The only reason I tracked down your number in the first place was Greta heard about you and wanted to make sure she could pick out your heartbeat from a distance... and this way we avoid her trying to find out in person. Which wouldn't go well for anyone involved and part of my job is trying to rein her in and redirect her appetites toward more appropriate targets.

Yesterday, for example was a great day for us. Instead of feeding on any humans, she drained five vampires, three bulls, and... Okay... The dog was unfortunate, but it *was* a stray...

Deacon: Watch your step Evelyn. You need to be careful or I might just come to Void City anyways. I hear there's a mustang that needs to go head to head with the Comet so that might be reason enough.

Keep your head on straight, watch who you trust, and call me if you need me.


As the phone goes dead, it's quite possible that Deacon hears Evelyn's frustrated mutter, "There, I called him and you heard his heartbeat. Now would you please put my head back on?"

For more about James and to find links to free fiction and other cool stuff, you can check out his website at and for more about me and to check out my free fiction scoot on over to .

(Note: Cross-posted from the League of Reluctant Adults)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Calling All Fangs

If you have been paying even a little bit of attention to my various feeds, you know that BURNED: A VOID CITY NOVEL is out today. And today or at least this week is when I need you to buy it. On previous book releases, I've kind of been a bit subtle. I snuck around to various bookstores (both the indies and the big guys) and stealth signed all the copies they had in stock. I have never been that comfortable with saying, "My books are awesome and funny and sweet and twisted. If you love them, buy ten copies each and pass them out to your friends." I still don't like to refer to my Facebook Fan Page as a "Fan Page", though I've started to do so, because calling it a Reader Page was confusing people.

But the market is changing. And only the writers with die hard fans are surviving. I'm not good at blogging about every clever thing under the sun and making the every day seem magical. I do it when I can. Whether it's talking about how The Elder Son complained about the turkey I'd packed for his lunch being the most horrible turkey he'd ever tasted. (It was roast beef.) Or posting parody lyrics of "(Meet) The Flintstones".

What I do best on the writing front, however, is not the self-promotion part. It's the writing part. I have no interest in talking about my politics or religion, beyond the ideas of everyone being fair and nice to each other. And okay, I wouldn't shut up about getting excommunicated, but for the most part when I have the urge to write, it's a novel or a short story that I start turning out. As a result, I need your help.

If you love Void City and want to see what other quirky little worlds are inside my head, then buy my books and when you've purchased them and read them and enjoyed them, then spread the word. Review them anywhere you are comfortable doing so. If you can't review them or are afraid to do so, then log onto Goodreads or iTunes or Barnes & Noble or anywhere else and give them five stars or "like" them or tag them or all of the above.

Here's why: last year, around October, the reading public in the U.S. lost a lot of brick and mortar stores and it looks like we are going to lose more. When that happened and every time that happens, physical book sales are taking a huge hit and it isn't all being transferred online or to eReaders. Some of those sales simply vanish. Books that people would have purchased had they seen them in the mall just don't happen, because those stores aren't there anymore.

So if readers want to make sure they get the next book by their favorite authors who aren't always on the bestsellers lists (and even the ones who are), they are going to have to do their best to put their favorite author on those lists and keep them there, to go beyond buying the book the day it comes out, but to making websites, or funny videos, or posting with obnoxious repetition on Facebook and Twitter, or buying copies of books they've already read and loved and passing them on to friends they think would enjoy the books, too, or even by simply making sure everyone they know understands how much they love the books they love.

And that's not just my books. If you love Kelly Meding, Adrian Phoenix, Jennifer Estep, or any other author with a book out today, then let the word ring out. If, like me, you love Mark Hodder's awesome Burton & Swinburne series (book three of which came out last week)... whichever author you love... buy your copies now or as soon as you can. And if you can't afford a book, then go to your local library and place it on hold or request it. But spread the word or the words you crave may stop flowing.

(Cross posted everywhere I have posting rights, because it's THAT important.)

Friday, January 20, 2012

Favorite Panel Friday (The Totally Timely Eition)

This was totally up on Friday and I didn't back post the date at all. It's just that I'm a time traveler and you all noticed the change... Unless you didn't and then... never mind. ;)

This week's comics could not stand up to the awesomeness of Jonathan Hickman's run on Fantastic Four and FF, which I must admit I read for the first time this week. There are many moments that stand out. Council of Reeds moments, Valeria moments, Namor moments... Ah, the Namor moments...

Fantastic Four # 585

I love it when those beats in a story arrive where it could be much easier to "fix" things by having a character act differently than they should and turn into what I call a Plot Robot. Stories work sooo much better when the plot is crafted around how a character should respond. They feel more genuine and satisfying. Hickman does that very well. You'd honk all writers would do that, but...


But if I'm going to pick a panel from a more recent issue of Fantastic Four as a favorite panel, I pick...

Fantastic Four # 601

I just love the the idea of Captain America at such a loss for words that he has to toss out a historical anecdote to have anything to say.

If you haven't read Hickman's run on Fantastic Four, you should. It is wonderful. As always, these panels contain artwork and characters that are copywritten and trademarked to hell and back... In this case, by Marvel Comics. So go give them your money, unless you haven't already pre-ordered a copy of Burned: A Voidy City Novel (by that J. F. Lewis person whose pants I'm wearing - the book hits the shelves January 31st 2012). That is obviously way more important. ;) So, make sure you are up to date on the Void City series and then check out Hickman's run on Fantastic Four.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Favorite Panel Friday

Yup. You guessed it. I still love comics.
I have this suspicion that if I hadn't exhausted my weekly comic budget, I would have picked a panel from this week's Batwoman. It's my hands down favorite of the new Bat-titles. I keep wanting to like Batgirl, but so far that initial story-line is very meh and over in the main Bat books, Damian Wayne just annoys me. I might eventually pick them up again, but not now.

The New Incredible Hulk issue had some moments, as did Wolverine #300. This one for example: (and as before it should be noted that this image is trademarked and copy written to hell and back by Marvel Comics)

Wolverine #300

Wolverine gets on a plane to Japan, and while he's in the restroom, the flight attendant passes out the samurai swords. Nice.

The boys and I finished reading Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, and though it's old (as in not a new weekly release) there are some really wonderful visuals there, too. You should totally check that series out.

Maybe it's that I'm writing Greta right now, so the more angry visceral scenes appeal to me, but this week's Green lantern was the winner. (And yes, you guessed it this image is copy written and trademarked to hell and back by DC):
Green Lantern #5

I've loved what Geoff Johns has done with this book ever since he started fixing the GL books and this scene by Doug Mahnke shows one of the things I dig.

See, Sinestro was always supposed to be the greatest of the Green Lanterns before Hal Jordan, and I love that now that Sinestro has a Green Lantern ring again, he is still demonstrating abilities with it and knowledge of how to use it that Hal has never imagined. I also love the little bit of business a few panels later where Sinestro reveals that not only can a Green Lantern pour so much willpower through a ring that it breaks, but that he has done it twice.

Try to take over Sinestro's lantern and he'll frick'n kill you with it. Nice.

I'll also give a shout out to James Robinson's The Shade series. I love page 17. Telling you why would be way too spoilery, but it was cool. I'm not sure what the heck to think of the new Defenders title, though. This issue read very much like that Farside panel about what a human is saying, but what a dog is hearing. Blah blah blah Wundagore. A nice Iron Fist moment though. And X-men: Legacy was just "okay" this month, while the new issue of Wolverine and the X-men rocked.

Okay, I guess that's enough fan-boy-geek-out for one post.

Now we wait until Wednesday, when the fun starts all over again. :)

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Website Updates! (And Free Void City Fiction)

In honor of the impending release of BURNED (A Void City Novel) by that J. F. Lewis person I see in the mirror every morning, my wife has updated and overhauled the Official Website. It now has a new banner, links to find me on Facebook, Twitter, etc, but more importantly, it also has links to all my free Void City fiction currently available online.

So... if you want to read about Eric turning Greta into a vampire at the beach, how vampires go Trick or Treating, or what happens when a newly turned vampire realizes she can no longer eat chocolate, then check it out.

After that, if you've haven't gone head and ordered those extra ten copies of Staked, ReVamped, and Crossed to give away to friends, family, and co-workers to lure them into The Void... Now would be a great time. ;)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Favorite Panel(s) Friday (The Why I <3 Matt Fraction Edition)

Did I mention comics are a big deal to me?

One of the reasons I started writing in the first place (aside from the irresistible compulsion which drives most writers I know) is that at one point I was told the best way to break into comics was to become a novelist.

That aside, I love writing my Void City novels, so it's all well and good. (Though, seriously, a Devil Dinosaur mini series. If C. B. Cebulski or Axel Alonso ever read these words, I have the first few issues scripted already. It would be AWESOME and funny and only an email away.) 



But back to my favorite panels of the week.  Now, not all of these will likely be Marvel, but I am a Marvel Zombie from way back, so it shouldn't be a surprise if many of them are. I had originally thought this week's would come from a very surreal moment in Uncanny X-force #19.1. Can you say, "That ain't what you thought was going to happen was it, Jean?" Heh.  But instead, this week's panels (which I should add are trademarked and copy-written all to hell and back by Marvel Comics, so I'm not trying to infringe on anything) are from issues of The Mighty Thor written by Matt fraction.

They aren't "new" exactly. The series is on issue #9 right now, IIRC, but they were new to me and a part of my holiday gift card funded drive to catch up on all the Marvel title I wanted to read, but had fallen way behind on because I went digital only on my comic collecting and tightened up the comics buying fund to less epic levels. (Fifty some odd long boxes is too many. I couldn't store any more than that. Seriously.)

The panels I'm talking about both deal with interactions between Volstagg and Pastor Mike (the preacher of the small church in Braxton, OK, which is now basically right next door to Asgard) If you hang out with me on Facebook, or have had lunch with me in the last day or two, you already know how much I love the way Volstagg interacts with Pastor Mike.

Volstagg never surrenders his belief in his own godhood, but he also doesn't disrespect Mike's belief in God. Personally, I think Volstagg wishes he had such a devoted worshipper. Mike, however, is having trouble with the whole idea of Asgard being real and its gods walking around in Oklahoma. Here's one confrontation from issue #4:

The Mighty Thor, issue #3

Later in the six issue storyline, where Galactus is basically being Galactus and trying to devour worlds... or in this case a seed from the heart of the World Tree which also seems to be the basis of all worlds and cycles of existence, and amidst some wonderful Loki, Thor, and silver Surfer scenes involving the phrase "silver bastard" and a line from Sif which shall live in infamy... when she must choose between grabbing her blanket, to defend her modesty, or her sword, to defend her person (guess which one she chose)... we have another great panel in which Volstagg answers the question "What is that thing?" (meaning Galactus) and responds with the line that made me laugh so hard that I woke up my sleeping wife.

The Mighty Thor, Issue #5


I simply adore the phrase "small friend of Jesus". Matt Fraction treads so carefully and so deftly here, creating humor, and enlightening without crossing the line in condescension, that it boggles the mind.  Really, though, the tale of Pastor Mike has an even cooler moment in issue six which I cannot bring myself to spoil.  So, I'll just say this: Very rarely are comics today completely worth the price of admission.  Fans like me read them for the bright points where the characters we love shine and sparkle in story-lines like The Dark Knight Returns or Age of Apocalypse or... the first six issues of The Mighty Thor.

In short: Well worth the read.