Thursday, August 28, 2014

Is Teri Harman a witch? Let's find out.

Teri Harman
Teri Harman returns to the Blog Mansion to discuss book two of her Moonlight Trilogy, Black Moon which is coming out September 16. You might remember her from her previous visit where I quizzed her on magic and subjected her to one of my many demons.

Johnny: Hello again Teri. How’ve you been?

Teri: Hey, Johnny, sultan of tie-dye. I've been fantastic.

J: Good good. Follow me to the pond.

T: The pond? Why? I wasn't told I'd need a swimsuit and sunscreen for this interview.

J: We’re testing if you’re a witch.

T: How?

J: If you float you’re a witch. If you sink you’re not.

T: 'I”m not a witch. I'm your wife. But after what you just said, I'm not even sure I want to be that anymore . . .' Oh, sorry. Wrong movie. But seriously - NOT a witch.

J: I’ll be the judge of that. As will your readers. Your credibility as a magic writer is at stake. Are you sure you want to float? I have no fear of the outcome.

J: How goes life in Twelve Acres?

T: Pretty rough, actually. Simon accidentally killed three Dark witches and can't get over the guilt. He also can't ignore how much his bizarre powers are growing. Willa wants to help him, but he won't let her. They are supposed to be training for the biggest magical test of their lives, but strange things keep happening. For example, when it snows on the night of the July full moon, Willa sees Archard in a dream. Archard, the Dark witch who almost killed them all; the one who was supposed to be dead. But really, he's the least of their worries.

J: We talked a little last time about your book being young adult. Would Black Moon still fall into that category or is it now that new fangled genre, “New Adult?”

T: The whole trilogy is actually new adult. Willa and Simon are in college and most of the characters are adults. And at it's heart, the story is about a couple learning to stay together during hard times, as opposed to falling in love, which most YA books focus on.

J: Here put on this special robe.

T: It’s heavy. And clashes with my fashionable black pointed hat.

J: It’s made of lead. Put it on and jump in the pond.

T: I’ll drown. You're fixing the test. Cheater, cheater - too much coffee drinker!

J: You'll sink and you’ll be famous.

T: But I have a book launch coming up and a third book yet to come.

J: What’s your point?

T: Drowning is bad for me right now. I just really don't have the time. Can we reschedule this experiment?

J: Hurm… okay, I have another idea. Has your magic system evolved in Black Moon from Blood Moon? I hear there’s dark magic.

T: Dark magic has many connotations. The magic in the Moonlight Trilogy is all based in nature (not the devil), even the bad magic. The magic in BLACK MOON gets pretty intense, from Willa and Simon's training to the means used by the villains. 

J: Are you still planning a trilogy or do you see more books beyond?

T: Just the trilogy. I have other stories that need to be written.

J: How goes the work on the third?

T: Great. Willa has an impossible problem to solve. And the ride is a neck-breaking roller coaster.

J: I see you around all the cool events. I know they’re cool because I’m there. What has worked and what hasn’t worked as far as marketing your book?

T: Any time you can get face to face with readers, book lovers, and other writers it is beneficial. That's the best way I've found to market yourself and your work. Do lots of different events - not just signings. Go to conferences, talk at libraries or schools, visit book clubs, etc. And get to know some good book bloggers/reviewers. They are great for the internet side of things.

Uhhh . . . what’s that smell?

J: Oil. We’ll see how you burn.

T: What?

J: If you burn orange, you’re not a witch, but if you have like a green or a blue tint, we gotcha.

T: Where are you getting this stuff?

J: I sense some hesitation.

T: You sense right.

J: So no?

T: No.

J: What can readers look forward to in Black Moon?

T: Lots of action, lots of drama (the good kind, not the gag-me-with-a-spoon kind) and a huge surprise ending. *maniacal laugh*

J: But you have to admit that they’ll be more excited to read about your witches if your readers know you’re a witch.

T: Secrets are far more interesting.

J: Where on the internet can readers find out more about you?
TWITTER: @TeriHarman
INSTAGRAM: @teriharman

J: Okay here climb up on this.

T: A scale?

J: We’re going to measure your weight against a duck. If it’s the same, we’ll know you can float and are therefore not a witch.

T: Wait, I’ve heard of this one. But wasn’t it the other –

J: Stop arguing. Climb up.

T: This is stupid. I’m not a witch. I’m an author. People will read my books because of the great stories, not because I wield vast magical powers. I’m not worried.

J: HA! I knew it! You’re a witch!

T: You don't have any idea what you're talking about.

J: BURN HER!!!!!!!

T: Wait. What? Sigh. Well, go ahead. I'll just cast a spell to save myself . . .

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Dependent by Brenda Corey Dunne – powerful, emotional and agented

Brenda Corey Dunne, Agented Author
Brenda Corey Dunne, author - agented author – of the new novel Dependent, dropped by the Blog Mansion to undergo a series of invasive tests to determine how she got an agent where I’ve been unsuccessful so far.

Johnny: So Dependent. What’s that about?

Brenda: It’s a story of how a military spouse rediscovers her sense of self after the devastating loss of her husband and a lifetime of fear.

Johnny: Uh-huh.

Brenda: Are you listening?

J: Canada, huh? That sounds nice.

B: Weren’t we talking about my book?  You know…the strength of military spouses, the courage behind the uniform, the selfless sacrifice...

J: Moose everywhere?

B: Yes. We have moose. Especially in northern Ontario. Like this one I saw last month *hands photo*

Actual Moose Photo

J: Hold still. This sensor goes under your fingernail.

B: Under my what? *sits on hands*

J: Hand me that tack hammer.

B: No.

J: Walter, are you getting readings?

Walter: Not from the fingernail sensor.

J: Hold on. *scuffles*

B: Ouch.

J: Now?

W: Yeah, we’re good. Oh wait. The needle helmet slid a bit.

J: Temple bolt is loose. One second.

B: That hurts.

J: Working then.

B: Do you put all your interviewees through such horror?

J: A good portion of them, yes.

B: Why?

J: You, my dear Brenda Correy Dunne, have an agent. I don’t have an agent. I want an agent. By studying you I will determine your secret and with it, get me an agent and rule the world, literarily speaking.

B: You could just ask?

J: And fish through your lies! No. You have an agent, you are not to be trusted. You have sold your soul at the crossroads, you are a different species, a star-crossed phenomenon, un-earthly thing, and too lucky to be let into casinos.

B: No, there’s actually a – OUCH!!!

J: Walter?

W: Good readings from the needle helmet. The spinal leads are erratic. Put in another staple.

J: Will do. Good. Now Brenda relax while I submerge you into this sensory acid bath. Tell me about Dependent. Ellen Michaels, your heroine. What’s she going through?

B: Burble burble…What isn’t she going through? Burble…She is 45 years old, an empty nester, she has no career, no family nearby, her husband has been killed in a training accident and a dreadful secret has resurfaced to haunt her. Can we take this off?

J: No. The military life sounds hard. What experience do you have with it?

B: I spent 8 years in the Canadian Air Force as a Physiotherapy Officer, and have been married to an Air Force Pilot for 17 years. I know a bit.

J: Does the Canadian military generally genetically alter people to be more appealing to agents?

B: (sarcastically)We take agent-appealing experimental drugs every second Tuesday. And have perfected the art of agent-ensnaring cookie-baking. Sigh. Um…no. No secrets.

J: Dependent sounds heavy. How heavy is it? Will it ruffle feathers?

B: It’s raw and real. Ellen—my MC, goes through a lot. It WILL make the reader uncomfortable. There will be tears. And frustration. Some people don’t like that sort of reading, some do. Sort of like these things under my fingernails.

J: Why did you chose to write Dependent is the present tense? The use of time stamped chapters seems incongruous with that choice.

B: Military families move frequently, so wherever you are at the time becomes home…at least temporarily. It’s the reality of the moment. And when we look back on things we tend to remember milestones by where we were—what house and what year. It seemed the right choice for the story.">
J: Dependent isn’t your first book. Treasure in the Flame is. What’s that about.

B: Treasure is a historical YA set in early Atlantic Canada. There’s a bit of magic, a bit of pirate gold and a little history worked into the story. It’s much lighter and fun. Kind of like Anne of Green Gables meets Pirates of the Caribbean.

W: Readings are inconclusive.

J: Dammit! Here drink this truth serum.

B: This what?

J: Soda. Drink this soda.

B: It’s bitter.

J: Like my heart.

W: Yuck.

J: Now, Brenda, tell me about how you got your books published, What was your path from writer to author and where along your slippery path of literary accomplishment did you pick up an agent!

B: I finished my first manuscript in 2008. I submitted to a few agents and got rejections. Next I finished Treasure in the Flame. I submitted to a few more agents and got a few requests and eventual rejections. I finished another manuscript. I submitted it to 20 or more agents, and got many rejections. I decided that it was time to move forward…and I self published Treasure. While Treasure was finding it’s way in the world, I was chatting with a Twitter friend about agents and how discouraging it was to get rejection after rejection. She had read my third MS and was surprised that I hadn’t seen anything from it. So she suggested I submit to her agent. I must admit, I was pretty much done with it all, and was ready to just move on and make my self-pubbed novels as good as they could be. But I was willing to give it a try. Two weeks later I got that wonderful email, and by Christmas I had signed. It was surprising how quickly it happened. Jennifer Mishler and Fran Black at Literary Counsel are amazing. Don’t give up, Johnny. There’s an agent out there looking for a tie-dye wearing off-kilter guy like you.

J: Hrmph.

B: Not kidding. I had more or less given up. In fact, I almost didn’t submit.

J: You give me hope. Which reminds me of a great old adage: I can take the despair. It's the hope I can't stand.  But thanks. I'll take out off the helmet now.

W: Wait, we're getting an abnormal genetic signature. A double gamma alpha tacheaon thingamajig.

B: A what?

J: We're going to need a brain sample. In case things go wrong and I accidentally wipe out your memory, where on the internet can you find clues to who you were?

B: Uhm... these....?

TWITTER: @overdunne

J: Damn. The brain scoop broke before I could use it.

B: I guess I'm lucky.

J: That's about the size of it.

B: It's okay, Johnny.

J: *Sigh* It’s always a struggle isn’t it?

B: Even with agents, publishers and fans…you need to fight for what you want in your publishing career. Now can I take these things off?

J: Why should I?

B: Look behind you.

J: Shit.... Agents.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, August 14, 2014

C. R. Asay's Heart is the Annihilation of Aliens

C. R. Asay (Christauna) dislikes aliens
Today the Blog Mansion welcomes debut author Christauna Asay, a woman with a name so weird she uses initials. C.R. Asay just released her first book Heart of Annihilation and I invited her to talk about her belligerent attitude toward foreign affairs in my friendly alien menagerie.

Johnny: So you were in the military?

Christauna: Yep. 19th Special Forces group, baby!

J: What were you?

C: A counterintelligence agent. Also known as Agent, Spook, and oh-crap-here-she-comes-where’s-the-shredder. I worked to counter the intelligence efforts of the enemy. It made me very well loved.

J: When did you get out?

C: A million years ago. Or more like fourteen years right after my first kid was born.
J: Uh-huh...

C: What?

J: Tell me about your book Heart of Annihilation.

C: It’s a thrilling tale of a young female Specialist who is confronted by a past she didn’t know she had. When she goes searching for answers to her Dad’s disappearance she discovers her bizarre connection to an alternate dimensional threat to Earth. A weapon called the Heart of Annihilation.

J: Uh-huh….

C: What? What’s the matter?

J: So you have aliens in your book?

C: I don’t know that “alien” is politically correct any more. “Beings of Extraterrestrial Origins,” BETOs, or “Beings of Alternate Dimensional Origins,” BOADOs, would be more accurate.

J: Okay, and these BOADO are being ruthlessly hunted by the mean ol’ military?

C: A renegade special ops team that think they’re doing the right thing. But are they really? So not the whole military. Just the mean ones.

J: Yeah. Cool. Hey, I’d like to show you something. Come this way.

C: Oh, okay… Whoa! Dude! Is this an airlock?

J: Maybe.

C: Wait, I know that guy.

J: This is Paul. He’s an alien and he’s a nice guy.

C: Right... from that one movie.

J: Keep your pants on, Paul.

Paul: Whatever. Get me some nachos.

J: I’m busy. I’m making a point.

C: What point?

J: Do you know the Abyss Alien. Pretty cool huh?

C: Yeah, that’s really neat. Do you remember where I put my AR-15?

J: Aliens are nice, Christauna. You shouldn’t perpetuate racial stereotypes.

C: Found it! It was right by my .50 cal.

J: Hold on a minute. What about Yoda? You wouldn’t shoot Yoda, would you?

C: How do you know Yoda?

Yoda: No kill I.

C: *loads magazine and hits bolt release*

J: Wait a sec. He’s just quoting a Star Trek episode, but that’s the theme.

Yoda: Talking to a Horta was I.

C: That’s pretty annoying. Do you have any more aliens stashed in that airlock? I need to know if I should conserve my ammo.

J: Tell me about your aliens.


J: BOADOs. Right. So, where did you get the idea for the book?

C: I started with the main character, Specialist Kris Rose. She popped into my head fully formed in a really bad situation. I wrote that scene and then spent the next few months figuring out how she got there. And who doesn’t love aliens and superpowers, right? Clearly you do. Love aliens, I mean…

J: BOADOs. How long have you been writing?

C: Since Junior High. But no one wants to hear about that. I’ve only been writing seriously with the intent to publish for about eight years.

Gandhi would not shoot BOADO's
He did not own an AR-15. Not even one.
J: Uh-huh.

C: Can you take a couple steps to the left? You’re in my shot.

J: Oh. Yeah, sure. Have you ever heard that if all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail?

C: What’s your point?

J: Why must the military be involved? Why can’t we just get along?

C: You’re talking about my book?

J: This is Gandhi. What would he do with your aliens? Something to think about.

C: Yeah, since negotiations and peaceful resolutions make for an exciting book.

J: You’ve been brainwashed by the military. Don’t you see that?

C: I can see a BETO in my sites.

J: Don’t be that way. It’s just something to think about.

So sweet and cuddley, how could anyone... oh... never mind

C: I’m starting to understand your choice of tie-dye a little better.

J: Did you see President Truman’s warning about eh Military Industrial Complex? Here it is—

C: Uh… book… Or I’m likely to shoot something.

J: What? Oh right. Uhm, so you wrote a book. Tell me about Kris Rose.

C: She’s a pretty kick-ass heroine. She has a smart mouth and an overdeveloped sense of morality. In a word, she’s awesome. She gets roped into a bad situation, not realizing that she was in the middle of it to begin with, and it makes her question everything she’s ever known. Who is she really? Where did she come from?

J: How much is Kris Rose like you? Have you ever killed an alien? A poor peace-loving misunderstood alien? Can you shoot lightning out of your fingers?

C: I’m about to. Just say the word and I’ll save your life.

Kris Rose started out a lot like me as I stumbled through writing my first novel, and then evolved into someone completely different. In a lot of ways I wouldn’t mind being more like her, but on the other hand, I wouldn’t wish her existence on my worst enemy. She’s got a lot of darkness in her screaming to get out.

J: How did you go from writer to author? Tell me your path to being published.

Who would ET shoot?
C: I wrote Heart of Annihilation and its sequel over the course of a couple years and then steadily revised my way to publication. It took a lot of time and learning, since Heart of Annihilation was the first novel I ever wrote. The characters and storyline were so compelling that I couldn’t bring myself to let it go.

It’s been a long hard road crammed with a lot of rejection, thrills of acceptance and determination to get this book out there. I found a publisher a few of years ago but left them after 2+ when they breached contract. I then decided to give my book one last chance. I did a lot of research before I settled on two small publishers that had a great track record and some amazing books. A couple queries later and I was signing my contract. A year after that Heart of Annihilation hit the shelves. I cried when I held it for the first time. Where on the Internet can my readers find out more about you and send you angry letters of protest on behalf of alien culture.

C: I welcome all alternate viewpoints and questions, especially if you purchase the book first.
J: Before we go I think you should see a few more aliens. Once you realize how truly friendly they are, you’ll rethink your belligerent attitude toward them.

Okay, I admit these guys are assholes.
C: You mean like the Independence Day BETOs pouring out of your @#$% airlock? Johnny, don’t you know you can’t open an airlock like that and not expect to expose the Blog Mansion to every alien scumbag in the universe? Run!

J: You said “alien.”

C: Grab Yoda, take my AR and go! I’ll cover you with the .50 cal!

J: They’re not all like those ones. *puffing* I mean, what about Clyde here. He’s very friendly he likes to hug.

C: Oh, my mmmmmpppffff!

Christauna and Clyde became great friends

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Fandemonium 2014

I went up to Idaho last weekend to the Fandemonium convention and had a pretty great time in  Boise. I never thought I’d ever actually say those words: I had a pretty great time in Boise, but I did. And there, yet again.

My first experience with Fandemonium was during the great geek-out drought of the early 21st century when housebound gamers and anime fans had only the back of the drama classroom to gather and exchange Pokemon cards. Online chat-rooms helped the pain a little bit, but people, being essentially social animals still strive to connect with like minded people. While San Diego had the monopoly on Geekdom, other conventions sprang up around the country to try to meet the hunger locally. Most were weak underfunded, under-worked, under-loved, cliquey things that had the right idea but the wrong execution. They consistently failed in the organizational aspect of the event, which is a pretty goddamn big aspect.

Great picture of the Capitol from my room. Look close.
 Nevertheless, I went to all I could find. Locally, we had MountainCon, ConDuit, Life the Universe and Everything. Only LTUE still rolls today and it’s turned into a great writers conference more than a fan geekshow. Such is the attrition of fledgling conventions. Nevertheless, I did my best to help. When my kids were old enough and plugged into the gaming scene and could appreciate the overt the underground geek currents from Babylon 5 to Dr. Horrible, from Anime to Starcraft, I sought out experiences where we could play in public. We went to them all and played and dressed up and sat in rooms to learn about zombies and publishing, Captain Picard versus Kirk versus Sheridan versus  Taggert.

By word of mouth, I heard rumors of a fantastic little convention up in Idaho. In Nampa at the time. In hushed tones at lesser conventions, word spread of a place where the fans ruled, where the organization was solid and the energy off the charts. An oasis.

An Adorable Boy with an Adorable TARDIS
When I think of cool, I don’t think of Idaho. I don’t think of Utah ether, but Idaho is low on the list. But there were these rumors. Could there be a critical mass up there in the high plains? Like El Dorado I was skeptical. But then I remembered how a repressed society squirts out individuals like an over-gripped wet bar of soap.

Up to Fandemonium we went and we weren’t disappointed. Gaming rooms, horror panels, belly-dancing lessons, costumes, steampunk fashion, armor manufacturing, author talks, fan films, Jar Jar Binks fan recovery rooms — it had everything. For several years we went up like it was a pilgrimage. It was everything I’d been told it was. Fun times and energetic participants, volunteers and hands-on fun.

Then life got in the way and we skipped a few years. This year, as part of my self-promotion/self-aggrandizement/self-inflicted wounding campaign of being a writer, I wrote to Borneo, the man behind the convention and begged to be let in. I offered my services as a writer teaching anyone interested what I know about being a writer. He let me come, gave me Special Guest status and a number for the Grove Hotel in Boise.

They’d moved. No longer were they in Nampa, a tiny town west of Boise on the way to other places, they were now back where they’d started in the Big Potato itself (I don’t know if Boise is actually called the Big Potato, but if it isn’t it should consider the name). The change happened because the Nampa Civic Event Center and Fandemonium couldn’t work things out. The event center in Nampa was pretty cool, all on one floor, big auditorium, outside venues for the sword fights so I was worried when I saw the three hotel floor configuration of the new Fandemonium. Not too scared though.

Hanging with Micheal Brent Collings
They pulled it off. What would have been a fatal blow to a lesser convention added a new level of exploration to this one. It was small by Comic Con standards, tiny even, but I tell you Fandemonium is a thing to experience.

After these many years of convention attendance and with the hum of the FantasyCon and Fan-X still ringing in my ears, I grasped one of the unique things about Fandemonium that makes it so special. It shouldn’t have been hard. It’s right there in the name. I’d assumed false advertising, but it’s not. It’s the fans.

Whereas ComicCon uses big names and advertising to bring the fans in, Fandemonium starts with the fans and then figures out what to give them. Really. The fan base is solid and energetic, loyal and young. I’m not saying that they’d turn down Patrick Stewart if he wanted to come - hell, they didn’t even turn me down, but celebrity (big or little) is totally superfluous to the weekend party that is Fandemonium. It all kind of made sense to me during the dance Rave in the main room. Black tee-shirt clad volunteers hoping around with monocled top-hatted Steampunkers and fur-clad neon ringed fuzzies. Both sides of the con together dancing their young bodies to a lathery sweat.

I didn’t add much to the convention, but I had a good time. But we were all fans. After my talks, I put away my computer and laser pointer and slid into the crowds. I followed the crowds into movie rooms, art rooms, gaming rooms. I chatted up the folks, watched an Australian Star Wars knock off that wasn’t bad, bought art swag and found a seat in the League of Legends room to complain about Rengar.

Fandemonium is for the fans.