Which is, for those who care, my day to share with hundreds of thousands of others who served. It’s something I’m proud of…so…that’s my thought for the day. I’m glad my country has a day to celebrate those of us who sacrificed years of our lives…
Currently reading: City of Knives – Unpublished (until I publish it) novel by International bestselling author William Bayer. VERY good book, with tango, and nazi weapons collectors, and mystery in Buenos Aries … good stuff.
Currently listening to : The Sufferer’s Song – by Steven Savile, narrated by Andrew Randall
Currently writing : Kali’s Tale – or I will be after I write the final chapter tonight of the origin story of Donovan DeChance. For those Donovan lovers out there, and those who WANT to be…this is must-read entertainment.
So…back to it. Miles to go before we sleep…
This year I started out Nanowrimo (Wordcount just over 20k for those keeping track) working on the next novel in the Donovan DeChance series, which was to be “Kali’s Tale,” the story of one of the young vampires in Vintage Soul setting off for a town near The Great Dismal Swamp to kill the one who created her. Along the way, I decided I wanted a flashback for Donovan. It would be, I said, the short story of how he became who, and what he is – a back-story filler for those who love that sort of thing. I hit the right spot in the book, started the flashback, and danged if it didn’t spin out of control…
For one thing, I’m writing the flashback with no more of an outline than a brief synopsis. This freed me up to add in a lot of details. That turned what was to be a chapter, maybe two, into five, and then six. I chose a familiar setting for the story – the western town of Rookwood, but before the days of Hallowed Ground. In fact, SIlas Boone is a boy, as is the eight-fingered piano player McGraw. There is still life and love and mystery in the town. In Hallowed Ground it’s the dying husk of a settlement that’s purpose – supplying things to those traveling west – had left it all but a ghost town. In 1842, it was very much alive.
I’ve answered a lot of questions. Donovan’s age. How he met Cleo, his familiar…why he does what he does, and how he discovered it…this has opened up a hundred years of adventures I can come back to, while maintaining the modern-day line of books simultaneously.
Kali’s Tale will likely not include this flashback. It’s simply too long. It will be either a short novel on it’s own, or a novelette, and it will be released before the new year. Kali’s Tale I return to in a day or two, once this “flashback” that became a book is in the can. I’ll leave you with a short excerpt…
The old wagon smelled of sweat, leather, cheap liquor, and a miasma of spices, herbs, and chemicals that would have driven a bloodhound crazy. Donovan leaned back into a pile of old rags and tried to peer out through the crack between two of the wagon’s warped boards at the passing countryside. He knew they were getting close. Whenever they neared a town, or a settlement, Rathman picked up the pace. The two old ponies scented fresh apples and hay, and the old man scented whiskey and women. Donovan knew he would work long into the night, but hoped, in the end, it would mean a hot meal. Sometimes, if he could keep his distance from Rathman and find an hour’s work sweeping, or scrubbing, or shoveling out a stable, he could earn a decent meal before the old man’s screeching, bullying voice dragged him back to the wagon. At least it was something to hope for.
The town they expected to run up on next was called Rookwood. Donovan had never seen the place, but Rathman remembered it from many years back. Donovan hoped it was a lot of years, because the old fraud was seldom welcomed back to a place a second time if anyone remembered his previous visit, and it wasn’t easy to forget. For one thing, the decrepit old wagon was painted over with brilliant, garish designs.
“Dr. Hugo Rathman, Healer, Mystic, and Clairvoyant” was painted dead center in paint so bright and so red that circling buzzards had mistaken it for blood more than once and spiraled down to have a closer look. More than once Donovan had peered out into the driver’s seat of the wagon to be certain the carrion feeders weren’t after Rathman himself. The old man could drink himself into a death-like stupor so deep that he seemed dead.
Finally they passed by the first small grouping of board and tar shacks. Donovan caught sight of a think boy with wild hair and no shirt. For just a second he’d have sworn the kid met his gaze, right through the boards. A second later, the boy was off, flying barefoot across the desert toward town. Apparently visitors weren’t common in Rookwood. Donovan frowned. The rarer they were, the more likely someone would remember Rathman. It was possible that the old man hadn’t cheated anyone on his last visit, but that would make this a rare visit indeed. At least three lawmen were watching out for the wagon because ill townsfolk had taken one or more of Rathman’s potions and either fallen deeper into their illness, or died outright – poisoned.
Whatever the situation, Rathman didn’t hesitate. He aimed the wagon dead-center down the main road of the town, bumping through potholes and jarring Donovan’s teeth with each jouncing yard they progressed. The wagon creaked and moaned, but it held together. It always managed to hold together. Like Rathman, it seemed there was no force on the road or in the desert that could put the final nail in its coffin.
“You ready, boy” Rathman grated, turning so that his unshaven face, wild dark hair and red-veined eyes glared back into the shadows. There was no way he could see into the interior, but he still managed to stare directly into the particular shadows where Donovan rested.
“Yes sir,” Donovan said.
Rathman stared a moment longer, then nodded. He turned back to the reins, steered around a corner a bit too quickly, nearly tilting the wagon up on two wheels, and a moment later they came to a halt. Donovan rose, stepping up to the front of the wagon and peering out around the edge.
It was an alley between what looked to be a stable, and a taller wooden building that might have been a saloon or hotel. Rathman dropped the reins, stood, and stretched, pressing his knuckles tightly into the lower half of his back. He’d been sitting in the same position for nearly thirty miles, and Donovan knew it would take more than an hour for the stoop to leave him.
“I’m goin’ to see about getting the horses taken in,” he said. “You get this wagon ready – hear? We’ll be settin’ up in the morning, and there’s no time for delays.”
Rathman seemed to drop almost into a trance then, as if listening to a voice Donovan couldn’t hear. Then he turned back.
“Put out the books, and the rheumatism tinctures. Arrange some of the other cures behind. Then get this place presentable and set up my table. I believe the spirits might just speak to me here. There’s something in the air.”
Donovan thought that all there was in the air was dust. He thought, very briefly, of his father, sickly and barely able to carry himself to work in a mine so dark and deep it swallowed men whole. He thought of his mother, though he could barely remember her face. He thought of the tiny room that had been his, the bed that had grown too short to contain his long, lanky legs, and he sighed. At that moment, he’d have traded half his life to be back there, caring for his father – assuming the old man hadn’t passed on – and getting ready to take his own turn in the mines.
“Apprentice,” was the title he’d been granted so long ago. “Assistant to a man of books and medicine. A learned scholar with the ear of the spirits and the mind of a professor. What it had boiled down to was the life of an indentured manservant. He’d learned to read, but only by his own dogged effort, and stolen moments with Rathman’s precious books. When he proved he could earn a dime or two by reading from the old tales to those who passed by, the good “doctor” had taken an interest and taught what he could between drunken binges and fits of curse-spewing malevolence. He was obviously torn between the fear of teaching too much and having Donovan run off on his own, and the greedy desire for his apprentice to be able to shoulder a share of the burden of making their living. It was also true that no listener had ever asked for their money back, or threatened to run Donovan out of town on a rail, and likely Rathman held that against him too.
We recently moved most of the Crossroad Press audiobook operation onto the Audible ACX system. This is a very cool interface that allows rights holders, narrators, and producers, and authors to collaborate on audiobook projects. It is easy to sign in and be a part of things, but it is also easy to take that ease for granted. Here’s rule #1. No matter which role you sign in to fulfill, you still have to know what you’re doing. Not all books are eligible for ACX. Not just any old Skype microphone plugged into your laptop with a USB cord is going to make you a narrator. There are other considerations…but I’m going to bulletize most of them, and then give a couple of reasons why having your book done through a company like Crossroad Press – even on ACX – might still be a better option than going it alone.
1. Narration is an art. It requires an ability to act. It isn’t the same thing as a live reading at a convention, and it isn’t the same thing as a radio broadcast or a podcast. It has to be learned, and if you go in with the arrogant notion you can just “do it” you probably won’t get many jobs. As a rights holder and publisher you have to be familiar enough with audiobooks to tell the difference, and to choose a voice that will benefit your project.
2. Sound quality is very important. Your book will be competing for sales with professional studios in the market place. If someone spends a membership credit on Audible, or plops down the money to buy your book, and it’s full of background noise, computer fans, humm, or barkind dogs they aren’t coming back, and you’ll end up with some bad reviews.
3. Presentation matters. Cover art, the intro and outro to the book, and the marketing copy are important pieces of the whole project, and should not be ignored.
4. Note to narrators. The audition script isn’t optional. If you run through ACX and drop your professional demo tape in on a thousand jobs, my guess is you’ll get zero. Take the time to scope out projects that are right for you. Study the script provided and submit an audition that is appropriate and that demonstrates how you are right for “that” book.
Specific to ACX is the royalty share option. I’ve seen sides being drawn on this issue recently. Here’s the thing…while it takes a good bit of time to narrate and edit the audio for a book…as an author I can tell you it takes a good deal of time and work to write the book, and some to publish it as well. Authors and publishers have always had to wait for sales and made their money from royalties. In the new publishing paradigm, I can see this shift happening for voice talent as well. Over time, as you develop a body of work, you begin to receive royalties on all of them each pay period, and it develops into a revenue stream. If you are paid up front, it’s also a gamble. Say you do a project for $150-$200 a finished hour, and you sit back to watch the book sell ten thousand copies. A royalty share contract would include you in that success…and honestly, it seems to me it would give you the incentive to do an even better job on the book. On the other hand, if the book is by an unknown author, the up-front payment might be the way to go. It’s always a gamble, but at least in a royalty share it’s a shared gamble.
My last point here, before I link to a few of our ACX titles, is that there is still value in having someone like Crossroad Press handle your book. For one thing, we work with our own established sound engineer. This adds a level of quality control most authors and agents just aren’t qualified to add on their own, unless they happen to be sound engineers on the side. We provide good quality cover art. We have an established market, growing every day, that draws people to our new titles. These are important, but here’s a kicker.
There are two awards important to audiobooks. The Audie, which is issued by the APA … and the golden earphone, which you get through reviews in Audiofile Magazine. WE have an established arrangement to get our titles into the review process at Audiofile. We are members of the APA. The only way to nominate a work for the Audie is to pay the APA for each nomination, and even as a member we pay $100 a title for those that are included. This can be very important step in getting people to listen to your book.
None of this is to say that you can’t sign onto ACX and make your own book…you can, of course, and if you are careful, pay attention, and listen to advice, you can probably make a quality book. On the other hand, if you’re a writer, you can get someone like Crossroad Press to handle it, and get on with writing, because the biggest problem form writers in this new digitized world is that most of the advice tells you to do everything yourself. It can really cut into your writing time if you aren’t a full-time, stay at home writer, and even then it calls for several unique skill-sets Publishers aren’t dead…they just have to change. Crossroad Press has been dedicated from day one to giving most of the money to the people who create the stories. Being an author, that’s important to me.
If you’d like to check out what we’ve been doing through ACX…you can find all of our ACX titles here:
Here are links to a few of our titles: Just click the images.
BAD MOON BOOKS is about to release my novel MAELSTROM in trade paperback, and a very limited hardcover edition. The hardcover will be printed only in the quantities ordered during the reservation period. A few of those who pre-order the HC limited will win copies of a a hand-bound story set in Lavender, California, where the action in the novel takes place. It is POSSIBLE that those people will have their names included in the story as well. It is PROBABLE that no more than five or six copies will ever exist…anything is possible. Details will be released as I have them, but for now … Go pre-order the book!
Cover art by the talented Alex McVey
Something in Lavender, California is waking up. Rituals not properly completed for centuries are coming together. Nothing is what it seems.
When Nick Leatherman, his girlfriend Ruthie, and their buddies Flash and Weasel invade Shady Grove Cemetery for a “ghost hunt” on their way home from a concert, they are drawn into a web of darkness and intrigue that threatens to consume them. Nick and Ruthie witness a gruesome murder, and Nick’s pocketknife shows up at the crime scene the next morning. Nick has had problems in the past, and Inspector Kendall Straker remembers. He remembers Ned Leatherman, Nick’s alcoholic step-father as well, and he doesn’t believe the boy is a killer. The problem is that the knife – emblazoned with the name of the band Maelstrom – is the only clue he has.
Horace Goldbough is the local pastor. He’s built a huge following and a beautiful church, but there are things about the good reverend that the town doesn’t know. In particular there is his relationship with a dark woman named Beauchane, and a certain book he keeps hidden from the world.
With local reporters, and a television talk-show host hounding his every step, Straker attempts to unravel the series of grisly killings terrorizing Lavender, while simultaneously protecting Nick. Nick, in the meantime, has begun his own investigation, feeling trapped and needing to clear his name.
Ritual words are being spoken, and a power that has been denied access to the Earth for centuries is poised to strike. The clock is ticking. Can Straker, Nick, and Maelstrom find the answer to the killings and put an end to them before the final ritual takes place, or will a horror be unleashed on the unsuspecting town of Lavender beyond their comprehension?
The novel Deep Blue finds its origin in the novelette by the same name published in an anthology titled Strange Attraction. In Strange Attraction, all the stories were inspired by the “Kinetic” Art of Lisa Snelling, each author choosing one of the characters on an intricately detailed Ferris wheel sculpture. I was honored to be among authors such as Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe in presenting our separate visions of what lay buried behind her art. From the images presented, I chose a harlequin, hanging by a noose from the bottom of one of the Ferris wheels seats. I took the image, made it the wallpaper on my computer, printed it out and carried it around with me, and let it sink in. I could have written any number of stories that would have sufficed, but somehow I knew there would be more to this work, and so I waited.
The publishers of the anthology, Vince and Leslie Harper, invited me to have dinner with them one night when my mundane job took me to Washington DC. We met for Mexican food and went together to see the movie PI which, at the time, was newly released. On the way to meet the Harpers, I walked down into a shadowed subway, and I was assaulted by some of the most haunting saxophone music I’ve ever heard. It bordered the blues, walked down old jazz roads, and I never saw the musician. That set the mood for what was to come.
I reached the restaurant without further incident, and we spent a pleasant hour scalding mouths and stomachs with jalapenos and washing them down with beer. Then came the movie. I won’t go into detail about PI, but I’ll say it’s a black and white film, very surreal, filled with symbolism, and it left me visually and emotionally stunned. I parted company with Vince and his wife, found my way back to the subway and my hotel, and called it a night.
The next day, a friend of mine and I set out to visit The Holocaust Museum. I have always wanted to see it, but I was not prepared for the intensity of the images, the displays, and the words I would find in that short hour visit. I purchased a book of poetry written by the victims, and left with so much bottled up inside from those two days that I thought it would be the end of my sanity.
That night, I started to write. I started to write about The Blues, and how deep they might really get. I wrote about pain, not my pain, but the pain bottled up inside the world, as the pain had been bottled up inside me, and I wrote a way out. That was Brandt, his guitar, and his blues. The story, like the pain, refused to be bottled up in just the few lines of that novelette, and so I released it into the novel you now hold.
Everyone comes to their crossroads eventually – the defining moment of life. As Old Wally, one of the novel’s main characters tells us – “Crossroads, or the crosshairs.” Forward or back, but you can’t stay stagnant – that way lies madness. I give you . . . Deep Blue.
We have been slowly and tentatively making our way into the world of print books at Crossroad Press. I like a physical, page turning book as much as anyone, and though we are careful folks who want our business around for the long haul, we want to put some of those page-turning books into people’s hands at a reasonable price. Here’s what we have so far
Not going to put descriptions here…click the links!
We have tons more on the way…including this last…a preorder for our very first hardcover novel – HALLOWED GROUND – by myself and Steven Savile. You can preorder this also wat http://store.crossroadpress.com – there are several options including signed, international, and others…get your copy reserved now.
My new collection, The Call of Distant Shores, is out now in digital. You can buy it already at Crossroad Press & Smashwords, and it will be live in the next 24 or so hours at Amazon & Barnes & Noble. I thought I’d post the Author’s Introduction here…
A lot of authors of dark fantasy and horror will cite H. P. Lovecraft, William Hope Hodgson, Hugh Cave, and Manly Wade Wellman as influences on their writing. Clark Ashton Smith is another name you’ll hear, and in this volume, you’ll find my tribute to that great talent, as well as a number of others that dip into the wells of darkness and magic – a world I’m familiar with from endless hours of reading, dreaming, and spilling my own words onto the page.
I have never considered myself a huge fan of Lovecraft. Pulp writing, in general, appealed to me when I was much younger, and in the middle years of my writing career, I pushed it aside. I was, of course, deluding myself. When someone pointed out to me that I actually had a body of work loosely fitting this sub-genre of horror / dark fantasy that was probably enough for a book, I laughed. Then I looked. Then I stopped laughing. What I found was that these writers – these storytellers I grew up with and believed I’d left behind me – were responsible for a huge chunk of my output as a writer. There are elder gods, ancient evils, and everything that attends them walking the corridors of my creative consciousness, and that reader was correct. There was more than enough to make a book.
I also note that, of all my works, most of my favorites, and some that have garnered critical notice, are among the stories you are about to read. “The Call of Distant Shores,” the title piece of this collection, is one of my most popular stories to date, and Cockroach Suckers, which is more recent and set near my current home town in the fictional Old Mill, North Carolina, could not be more Lovecraftian without being set in New England.
Anyway…there are a lot of words ahead – a lot of images – a lot of nightmares. I hope you’ll enjoy them, and I dedicate them to those authors who have gone before, paving the way for an ever-widening realm of new worlds and deep-rooted fears.
Welcome to my nightmares.
-David Niall Wilson
Now in digital, books I and II of The DeChance Chronicles. For those who were around for the first iteration – Vintage Soul, which was originally the first book, is now Volume II, following Heart of a Dragon. Chronologically, it’s the correct order, and a lot of the complaints I had about not developing Donovan and his supporting cast I think I answered in Heart of a Dragon...it seemed the proper shift. Volume III – Kali’s Tale- will be written sometime in the next year, if I can keep my schedule properly aligned.
Anyway…here are short synopses of both books. Heart of a Dragon is on sale from now until May 25th as I discuss it for my “Book of the Week” on my Official Facebook Page. Vintage Soul has just been released at $2.99, also in digital. Both are in production as audiobooks, and both will be in trade paperback by the end of the year.
Donovan DeChance is a collector of ancient manuscripts and books, a practicing mage, and a private investigator.
When Anya Cabrera, a Voodoo Houngan in San Valencez California’s Barrio, tampers with the ceremony that draws the Loa to possess the faithful, Donovan DeChance, book collector, mage, and private investigator is contacted immediately. Donovan helps to maintain the balance of supernatural forces in the city – and that balance is in serious danger.
The Dragons, a local motorcycle gang, live under a shaky truce with a neighboring Hispanic gang, Los Escorpiones, who are now aligned with Anya. The two groups face off in a battle that becomes more than the Dragons expected. Los Escorpiones are faster than they should be, and stronger. When they are stabbed, or shot – they get back up and keep on fighting.
Old Martinez, a local sorcerer and medicine man who has helped maintain peace in the Barrio for longer than anyone else can remember stands with The Dragons.. A young man he has been slowly mentoring, Salvatore Domingo Sanchez, joins him. Salvatore, is an artist, and he dreams of dragons. When Salvatore begins to paint the dragons from his dreams on the leather jackets of the Dragons of the Barrio, the balance begins to shift.
Can Donovan, his lover and partner Amethyst, Martinez and Salvatore find a way to stop Anya Cabrera from unleashing a demon army on San Valencez – or will their efforts release an even greater danger into the city? HEART OF A DRAGON is the story of an artist, ancient evil, dragons, voodoo and men. It is a story of courage, brotherhood, and other worlds.
When, despite the finest in natural and supernatural security, a sexy and well-loved, three hundred year old lady vampire is kidnapped right out from under her lover’s nose, Donovan is called in to investigate.
He soon finds that there is much more to the case than a simple abduction when an unknown intruder invades his home and steals a very rare, very ancient manuscript. There will be no ransom for the kidnap victim, and if Donovan doesn’t prevent an ancient, forbidden ritual from reaching its culmination, far more than a single vampire’s undead existence will be at stake.
Calling on his lover and partner, Amethyst, and an odd assortment of contacts, informants, and connections, Donovan follows the ghostly trail of the kidnapper through a winding maze of intrigue-always a step behind-through magical battles, murders, and confrontations with a rogue band of young vampires intent on beating Donovan at his own game.
Vintage Soul is a dark urban supernatural mystery with a hint of romance. Set in an underground society, a city within the city of San Valencez, California, it opens portals to the unknown darkness that surrounds us. Fast-paced, strewn with clues, investigation, and magic, this is a book sure to slake the appetites of fans of mystery and the supernatural.
Follow the conversation about Heart of a Dragon this week on FACEBOOK.
I’m having a sale, of sorts…an ongoing, cyclic promotion of my many, many books. Over on Facebook, on the Official David Niall Wilson page, I’ve started talking about one book a week…what made me write it, inspirations, techniques, the history of where I was and what I was doing at the time – for the anthologies like Defining Moments it’s a sort of extended story-notes section. Along with these promotions, I’m putting the books I talk about on sale for only .99 for a short time. Right now you can get Defining Moments & On the Third Day for .99 through the 15th, and The Not Quite Right Reverend until the 20th.
The hope is I’ll pick up some new readers along the way, and that some of those getting the good deal will take a few moments to go to Amazon, B&N, and other places to leaves me a review, or stop by the Facebook page and talk about my work. The two things about being a writer I enjoy the most (in this order) are people reading what I’ve written, and talking with people who’ve read what I’ve written…of course, the writing itself is a close third.
This week’s book is “The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature,” first published by Bad Moon Books. You can hear all abou
t this one, or buy and read it now for .99 – OR – in this particular case, I’ve also put the unabridged Audiobook on sale – narrated by the amazing Mr. Joe Geoffrey – for only $9.99 – that’s a big savings, and he did a great job.
Here’s an audio sample to give you an idea: Sample of the Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus Audiobook
I hope you’ll all take some time to come by, see what’s going on, and join in on the discussion. Also, I’m editing the novel HALLOWED GROUND for publication soon, and writing another titled THE PARTING – so there’s plenty of variety…and 100 percent more sale.
I’ve started a new promotional “plan” wherein I’m talking about one of my books a week on Facebook, here, and Twitter. In conjunction with this, I’ve decided that – whatever the book of the week is – I’ll put it on a ten day .99 sale during the time I’m talking about it.
The purpose of this entire promotion is to raise awareness of my work. I hope the stories, histories, anecdotes and notes on my writing process will intrigue people and make them want to read the books. I also hope that, the lower price will entice some people who are not familiar with my work to give it a try – and to generate more feedback, discussion (and hopefully reviews) for the books as I progress.
That said…here are the various links to where you can get ON THE THIRD DAY and DEFINING MOMENTS for .99 between now and the 15th. I added in On the Third Day, which was last week’s book, because the idea of the lowered sale price only just occurred to me last night – and I want that book to have a shot at new readers too. Here are links that give you a search of all my available titles at each of the following sites. The price at Amazon takes a day or so to catch up with the change I made…everywhere else the .99 is already in effect. You’ll have to scroll through my titles to find the two that are on sale at each site:
GO! BROWSE! BUY! READ! Join me on FACEBOOK to discuss Defining Moments this week – or to discuss my writing or any of my books any time.