Writing

Using Facebook and Social Media as an Author – 10 Tips / Rules from my Experience

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Ten tips for using Facebook as an author:

1) Have a personal profile AND an author’s page. This allows you all the perks of both, but gives you a good way to split your personal from professional “imprint” . . . and in case you achieve the fame you crave, you can have more than 500 likes on your author’s page, but not on a personal profile.

2) Do not make a new page for your new book. If you have a series with an actual following, it’s worthwhile to break those fans off with a page of their own, but in general, use your author’s page to build a solid list of readers, and don’t break it into pieces. Most of those who join the new page will just be people from the old page, and it serves no real purpose.

3) If you decided to send a notice to a successful author and they take you up on “liking” your page, or friending you, do not follow up with “Hey! Thanks for that! Here’s the link to my brand new book you might want to buy. As a corrolary, do not post that same link directly onto said successful autors (or anyone’s for that matter) timeline without their permission.

4) Be aware that online “Events” – again – probably only reach the same people as your author’s page, and probably annoy at least half of the people you invite. Just post the information on your author’s page. Concentrate on building the base for that page.

5) Only “sponsor” a post when you REALLY want it to be more visibile. Ther is no solid evidence (none) that promoted posts actually sell anything, but they DO spread the word wider and longer if there is something you are trying to emphasize…as with any Facebook promotion, take anything they say with a grain of salt. FB is a horrible marketing tool.

6) Post regularly and not just links to buy your newest book. Do not post every time you get a new review from a friend on Good Reads or Amazon, people are not stupid. Give them the information on what your book is about, and the information on where to find it. If you have a promotion or contest, post that, and politely request your friends share it.

7) Remember the first rule of Internet Marketing. (My rule) You’ll gather more flies with lolcats than with persistence. You will get more shares, likes, and comments with something entertaining or amusing that you’ve used to draw attention to your work than you will to a review on someone’s blog, or an entire blog tour of places no one was going to go anyway. In fact, my opinion on blog tours is that if you can’t tour on already very popular blogs, they are a waste of time, other than to up your numbers on certain search engines.

8) If you have a blog, and you post regularly there, I recommend Networked Blogs on Facebook. You can post a short note and a link for each post automatically to your various pages and / or personal profile and you you can avoid doubling content while reminding folks about your blog.

9) BE ENGAGING – and this rule applies to Facebook, Twitter, PARTICULARLY Pinterest and other Social Media sites. Nothing irritates me more or faster than a feed full of nothing but links, or a Pinterest page that has one board – My books – or maybe two … My Books and My friend’s Books. Social Media (as everyone knows by now) is supposed to be a converation. If you use it like a virtual mirror and keep TELLING it who the fairest one of all is, you’ll be scratching your head and wondering why no one pays attention. Be yourself – unless you can be Batman. Always be Batman.

10) Do not try to fashion yourself after success. Because Anne Rice or Joe Hill or any other person can create a spectacular following on a social media site does not mean that if you a: copy what they do or b: listen to them because they proclaim themselves a guru (NOTE: I am not a guru, all of this is just observations and my own experience) or c: desperately cling to them hoping they will mention you and draw you along in their wake – that it will work. You, and your work, have to stand alone. If you don’t stand out as a memorable, engaging person, or your work does not prove to actually reach the heights you claim it does…no amount of manipulation of social media will make it so. Spend more time writing – less time trying to figure out how to sell it. Engage when you can, be interesting, funny, and real, and trust your talent. USE your talent. Don’t try to be someone else – unless (of course, you can be Batman, or The Fist of Goodness, in which case refer to rule 9)

-DNW

Some Career Notes on the Past 2 Years

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Since we’ve really kicked Crossroad Press into gear, and I’ve concentrated more of my writing on drawing my big, fictional universe into one entity – and promoting the original series work I’ve created, there has been an interesting shift and upswing.  I have consolidated my sales numbers and earnings across all my many books for 2011 and 2012 and can present some findings.

1) So far in 2012 (which means through sales in July) I have already made almost twice what I did in 2011.

2) Series books sell better than stand-alone novels.   Collections sell fairly steadily.

3) Attaching a cover by a famous artist can boost sales, but not as much as tying works together and being creative in how you present this in your marketing material.

4) There is absolutely NO WAY to tell what will, and what will not be the big seller – though you can sometimes guess.

One of my focuses this past year has been tying Hallowed Ground, Donovan DeChance, O.C.L.T.,  and many of my other works that take place in and around the few fictional settings I’ve created into a larger universe.  This has helped me lead readers from one book and one series to the next, and has significantly impacted sales.

Tying in with other authors?  Same effect. We published the very successful LOST THINGS by Melissa Scott and Jo Graham this year, tied in loosely to the O.C.L.T. series, and I have watched steady sales across the series during this debut.

It cannot be said enough – promotions that reach people who have never heard of you, do not attend conventions – or at least not the same ones you do – who had NO IDEA you existed…those are the promotions that bring big new sales numbers and spread you like a fictional plague.  Repeated posts to the same boards, groups, newsletters, etc. can sustain a certain number of sales on new works, but do your already-in-print stuff no good at all.

The goal is to sustain growth.  I’ll try to pop back with some figures as things progress and 2013 approaches.  In the meantime, follow the link below to find all (or most) of my digital works.  See if you don’t find something that appeals to you.

For the record…my top ten bestselling titles over the two year period, in order:

  • Vintage Soul – Book 2 of the DeChance Chronicles
  • The Parting – A Novel of the O.C.L.T.
  • Heart of a Dragon – Book 1 of the DeChance Chronicles
  • My Soul to Keep – Book III of the DeChance Chronicles
  • Kali’s Tale – Book IV of the DeChance Chronicles
  • The Call of Distant Shores – Lovecraftian Collection
  • The Second Veil – Book II of the Tales of the Scattered Earth
  • On the Third Day
  • Ancient Eyes
  • Deep Blue

FIND MY DIGITAL WORKS THROUGH THIS POST:

David Niall Wilson in Digital – 31 Books and Growing

Nevermore – Book V of the DeChance Chronicles Underway

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I’ve started (finally) working on the next Donovan DeChance book.  This story will follow directly on the tail of the events in Kali’s Tale – still a stand-alone story, and still something you could read without having read the others, though I realize that as time goes on…it’s less and less true that the full experience is there.  It’s just not possible to rehash everything properly without detracting from the new story.

Those of you who have been reading along will remember we left Donovan and Amethyst in a bed and breakfast near Old Mill, North Carolina, as well as O.C.L.T. Team member Geoffrey Bullfinch.  You’ll also remember that Donovan had decided not to return immediately to California, but to take a break, of sorts.

The whole crew is there, Cleo the oversized Egyptian Mau, Asmodeus the ancient Egyptian crow, and our heroes.  In Kali’s Tale, Donovan referenced a place that once existed on the borderline of Virginia and North Carolina – the Halfway House – which was a bar / hotel that existed in both states at once.

People went there to get away with things that they could not on the other side of the border, marriages at a younger age were possible in NC, and the dueling laws were different.  A lot of rough characters frequented the place, but a lot of famous “others” were known to stay as well.  Among them?

Edgar Allen Poe.

One legend has Poe penning the first draft of THE RAVEN there, and so, I’m riffing on that…and Donovan is going to “tell a story” which will lead to questions – and a quest – taking them into ancient byways, through time and the Great Dismal Swamp, to what I hope will be a satisfying “could-have-been” piece with a twist of history.

If you want to catch up…

The DeChance Chronicles consist of Heart of a Dragon, Vintage Soul, My Soul to Keep (Which is the Donovan origin story) and Kali’s Tale.  All are available in a multitude of digital formats (including digital audio for all but Kali’s Tale, and that’s on the way).  Heart of a Dragon will be available as a trade paperback later this year.

Buy The DeChance Chronicles for Kindle or in Audio 

Buy the DeChance Chronicles for Nook or other ePub ready devices

Buy direct from Crossroad Press

 

The Line-up for New Projects. DeChance & Killer Green

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I have been sadly neglecting both the promotion of my older books, and the creation of new ones.  Being a publisher is demanding, and one of the things I now have to do is figure out how to more successfully budget my time.  I can’t let the writing suffer too much, or I might wither and blow away…and that would be bad…I’m sure of it.

I have several projects in various stages of completion.  I know I owe a new installment for The DeChance Chronicles, and I have two good possibilities.  One is that I write “Nevermore” – the continuation of Kali’s Tale, where Donovan tells the tale of how / why Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Raven …   Another is that I have Donovan, also in storyteller mode, explain to a group of children who hate The Scarlet Letter – that there is a great deal more to the story, and while Hawthorne gave a brief, boring outline, he wasn’t much of a storyteller…  That  would be titled The Scarlet Rose.

I am about 2/3 of the way through novelizing KILLER GREEN – the screenplay.  That book will need a serious rewrite when it’s done to flesh out characters.  It’s fast, fun, and I hope to finish it soon.  I also have the novel (or novella, possibly) Tattered Remnants – a very complex pyschological thriller involving book binding and serial murder – which is partially completed, as well as a novella for The Tales of the Scattered Earth.

Then there is my apocalyptic end-of-the-world zombie book – “Run, if You Want to Live,” involving ultra-marathon running and a zombie menace.

I have – in other words – no lack of ideas.  It’s time…time is killing me.  I must defeat it.

I’d also like to hear from any of you with an opinion on what should be next.

On other notes – American Pies is available now in eBook formats – print soon – and My Soul to Keep, Ancient Eyes, and Maelstrom are recently out in unabridged audio from Audible.com.   Upcoming there is Kali’s Tale – book IV of the DeChance Chronicles.

– Off to put words in their proper order….

DNW

Spring Vacation & The Aurora Fossil Festival FTW!

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About six months ago, we began planning what seemed at the time an unlikely vacation.  It was to begin the very night of my son Zachary’s high school graduation.  The plan?  We would hop in the van, drive to New Bern, NC to a hotel, and on Saturday, we would attend the Aurora Fossil Festival.  None of us really knew anything about this place except that they HAD a museum, there were giant Megaladon jaws you could get your picture taken in, and there was a pile of dirt – somewhere – you could dig through and find your own fossils.

None of us (at that particular time) was obsessed with fossils.  We wanted a break, a getaway, and something different.  We found all of that and more.

The trip up was an adventure in itself, as there are a lot of new bypasses and roads in place that were NOT in place when our Tom Tom was last updated.  Several times in the middle of long stretches of bridge it suggested we go 80 yards and turn left.  We declined.  Also, there was a tiny place named Chocowinity along the way…but it passed so quickly I thought maybe I’d hallucinated it.  It turns out it’s from a Native American word for “Fish From Many Waters,” but that’s for another story.

We spent a good first night in the Holiday In Express, rose early, ate our continental breakfast, and piled into the van. Along the way we passed interestingly named places, and as we pulled into town, we cut in around to the left and ended up parking two spaces off the main street.  Quite by accident.

After hitting the one ATM machine in town, we started back across a big field into the festival.  Before we really got in, we were handed a sheet to identify fossils, and a very friendly girl told us that the secret was that the gravel and dirt in the parking lot was fresher than what had been dumped for the festival.  She showed us a very nice prehistoric Great White shark’s tooth she’d found.  We went back to the parking lot.

We gathered four or five baggies of fossils, and the pride of the lot was Katie’s Great White tooth, about twice the size of a quarter.  When we’d finished in the parking lot, we crossed into the field and dug with the rest of the festival guests in a big pile of “reject” from the Phosphate mine, which is the source of all the fossils.

While there we saw some odd species of duck, played with a corn snake, had funnel cake, bought fossils – and hats – and other things – and attended an amazing lecture on how the biggest specimen ever pulled from the mine was preserved, cleaned, and displayed.  It’s the skeleton of a juvenile whale, and the care and ingenuity involved in that project was well worth the our we sat listening to the lecture and learning.  After that we went out and saw the skeleton itself, as well as the rest of the museum, and took the obligatory photos of people in giant jaws.  We also bought raffle tickets for the giant Megaladon tooth, over 6″ – did not win – and enjoyed the parade, including a passably good Jack Sparrow impersonator.  Below are some more pictures from the trip.

 

Kali's Tale – Book #4 of The DeChance Chronicles

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Today I completed the revisions on the fourth book in The DeChance Chronicles, Kali’s Tale.  This book is the one I started, way back at the beginning of November when Nanowrimo began.  I got de-railed twice.  The first time was when the flashback I’d planned in the beginning of the book got out of control and grew into a novella of it’s own, My Soul to Keep – which tells the origins of the character Donovan DeChance.  The second was when in early December our online store crashed, and the back-ups turned out to be no good.  I spent most of December rebuilding that..and meanwhile, I picked up a deadline.  Kali’s Tale will go live on Barnes & Noble’s online site for the Nook on the 6th of February.  It will be exclusive to the Nook for thirty days as part of a promotion they have – Nook First Look.  I am happy to say, the book will make the deadline, and the promotion will go on as scheduled.  Below is the author’s note from Kali’s Tale…just to get you excited!

Author’s Note

This will mark the fourth book in The DeChance Chronicles, which starts with the novel Heart of a Dragon, moves on to Vintage Soul (which was actually written first – long story for another time) and the novella My Soul to Keep which is the origin story for Donovan DeChance, and not to be missed by fans of the series.

This book also accomplishes something I have intended for some time.  In this volume, The DeChance Chronicles make a direct connection and crossover to another series I write for, O.C.L.T.  In that series, I’ve written the novel The Parting and the novella The Temple of Camazotz.  The characters Rebecca York and Geoffrey Bullfinch appear in this novel, as does Cletus J. Diggs, from my book The Not Quite Right Reverend Cletus J. Diggs & The Currently Accepted Habits of Nature.  This book takes place largely in Old Mill, North Carolina, which is Cletus’ stomping grounds.  My books and my stories have long shared certain locations – San Valencez, Lavender, and Friendly California, Old Mlil, North Carolina, and Random Illinois.  If you enjoy this book, you should look up the titles above – you’ll find some old friends waiting.

If the story The Preacher’s Marsh – which involves a legend mentioned in this book appeals to you, that novella is also available.  In North Carolina I’ve found that all roads lead to highway 17, and in my writing, it seems the same may be true.

There will, with the grace of whatever power watches over me, be many more Donovan DeChance books in the future, and many more adventures for Cletus J. Diggs & and for the agents of O.C. L.T.  I hope you’ll join me.  I’m always ready to tell a story.

 

David Niall Wilson

Just off to the side of The Great Dismal Swamp

The 414,000 Words of November – A Nanowrimo Retrospective

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Nanowrimo Kitteh Finkz  Time To Writez Wiff Osmosis

I started participating in NANOWRIMO – Officially National Novel Writing Month, in 2004.  I don’t even want to think about everything that has happened to me since then, or to my career, because it would make my head explode, and nobody wants that.  I’m going to concentrate just on what I’ve accomplished during one 30 day period a month over the years.  More than 400,000 words of fiction.  Of the seven years I’ve completed the Nanowrimo challenge, I have completed six novels.  The seventh, Gideon’s Curse, is still on the hard drive, and as soon as I’m certain all of the timeline issues I created for myself have been dealt with, I will complete that one too.  This year, this evening, actually, I will add at least 50,000 more words to the pile, bringing the total to just under 465,000 words.  Approaching half a million, and most of them published.

I see a lot of writers – and some journalists who like to write about writing but haven’t done much to show they know what they are talking about – go on rampages against Nanowrimo.  Rushing ahead, they say, is against the spirit of the “craft”.  Not everyone should write a novel just because they can, etc.  I say to all of them…Meh.   This simple competition with no prize has helped me, year after year, to regain my focus, to produce finished products I’m proud of…and I wanted to take a moment to revisit those success stories.

 

2004: The Mote in Andrea’s Eye – entire novel completed in November…and sold later that same year to Gale / Five Star.  This book went through a hardcover, a trade paperback, and a large print edition with Five Star and is now a successful eBook – soon to be an unabridged audiobook. 

Critics said:  “Tugging heartstrings with the expertise of a master puppeteer, Wilson, a former naval technician, adds plenty of authentic touches but never overwhelms the reader with details. The clean prose, romance and fantasy elements, heart-pounding scenes of man against nature, and topical currency (thankfully not overplayed) will appeal to a wide variety of readers…” – Publisher’s Weekly

2005: Vintage Soul – which started as the first of the DeChance Chronicles and became Volume II in the digital rebirth.  Also sold the same year it was finished to Gale / Five Star.  This series is currenly one of the most popular things I write.  This is available as an eBook and as an unabridged audiobook narrated by Corey Snow.  

Critics said: “This clever urban fantasy is packed with solid writing and filled with crisp details. Wilson is a whiz at painting with words. Below is a description of a ritual gone very wrong when an inept practitioner fails to control the demon he has raised.” – Patricia’s Vampire Notes

2006: This is the yet-to-be-finished Gideon’s Curse, which follows two timelines – an undead uprising on a cotton plantation outside Old Mill, N

C in the 1950s / 1960s – and a preacher, persecuted for bringing his teachings to
the slaves of that same plantation just after the Civil War.   While this book  has yet to see print,  a novella has been carved from it’s bones – The Preacher’s Marsh, which HAS been published as an eBook, and was featured in my huge short story collection from Dark Regions Press, Ennui, & Other States of Madness.

The Critics haven’t said much about it yet….

2007: The Orffyreus Wheel – This is one of several aborted projects I worked on for a previous agent who never, in the end, could get excited about anything I wrote.  I wonder if she understands how close she came to killing my career?  Anyway…this is another twin-timeline story.  It covers the life of Johann Bessler, who invented a perpetual motion wheel in the 1700s, and his ancestor who inherits the secret, and a grim battle to provide the world

with free energy.  This is available as an eBook and an unabridged Audiobook.

Critics said: “With the Orffyreus Wheel, David combines the same effortless pace of a good tale as he does with Ancient Eyes, but also manages to interweave two distinct stories – both of which share the same breathless excitement and wonder of their central characters. ” – Reader Review – Amazon.com

2008: Hallowed Ground – written with Steven Savile.  This novel, out now in trade paperback and eBook, due soon in unabridged audio, narrated by the talented Joe Geoffrey, is one of the works I am most proud of in all the years of my writing career.  It is a good western, I think, complex and layered, and accessible on many levels.  I had a blast working on this with Steve, and it was even more fun as we did it over Nanowrimo and allowed folks to

read along – which I’ve done almost every year.  This book is just now gaining in popularity, and I have high hopes for it…

Critis said: “Steven Savile and David Niall Wilson have produced a fine entry in the burgeoning Weird Western genre. Elegantly written, bristling with action and drama, HALLOWED GROUND is intelligent, thought-provoking, and highly entertaining. Readers of both Westerns and horror novels shouldn’t miss it!” — James Reasoner, author of REDEMPTION, KANSAS

2009:  Heart of a Dragon – Book I of the DeChance Chronicles.  Born of a short story written a very long time ago, this is a tale of a young artist, an old Mexican Magician, bike gangs, and of course, Donovan DeChance.  I love writing the books in this series – like the characters, and the city of San Valencez that I’ve visited so many times in my work…This book, like Vintage Soul, is available in eBook and unabridged audiobook, narrated by Corey Snow, who will (I hope) remain the voice of the series.  Both books will be available this year in trade paperback.

Critics said:  “Set in and around the dark and brooding Barrio of San Valencez, this tale weaves mysticism and action with a decided Hispanic twist. From the very beginning, when the rival Dragon and Escorpiones clans fight in Santini Park, you know the tale has far more to it than meets the eye. What brings the tale together is its underlying themes of Honour, Loyalty, Courage and Dark Ambition.” – Reader Review – Amazon.com

This year, I started out doing the next Donovan DeChance novel, Kali’s Tale, which has Donovan and his lover Amethyst looking after the young pack of vampires from Vintage Soul as they journey to The Great Dismal Swamp in search of on of their creators – to destroy him.  He is, of course, more than they bargained for – and Donovan will have his hands full.  This novel is also the first direct link between the DeChance Chronicles, and the O.C.L.T. novel series.  There are cameo appearances from Geoffrey Bullfinch, of novella The Temple of Camazotz, and Rebecca York, from my novel The Parting.  Interestingly, this year’s novel was to include a short flashback that told the story of Donovan’s origins – and that blossomed into a 21k novella of it’s own…  Today I will put the cap on the 50,000 words for 2011 and will continue on to see how many I can get before the 30th…

This is my thank you to all the folks who encouraged me, Chris Baty (no longer in charge) at Nanowrimo who tempted me and then prodded me and even helped promote me as my novels became successful.  Trish, who loves me, my kids who support everything I do, my agent Bob Fleck who has been there through all the Nanowrimo years – my collaborator Steve, and all those of you who have bought and read my books.  To the naysayers of Nanowrimo, I again say – Meh.  I’d say this post speaks for itself.

Nanowrimo Kitteh  Iz All Writed out

-DNW

Donovan DeChance … Origins

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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.

Updates – it's About Time

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It’s been a really long time since I posted here.  I know this, because this blog posts on to my Amazon author’s page, and they sent me a note saying if I didn’t start updating soon they would deactivate it.  This is what happens when you diversify and spread out too far.  This has always been my personal bully-pulpit, and also the place I focused on updates to my own writing.  It will be that again.

Currently I’m novelizing KILLER GREEN – the first ever screenplay conceived on Twitter, posted as blog-posts, starring Twitter celebrities (and others) and then optioned right back there on Twitter.  It’s not produced yet, of course, but we all know how those things go.  It’s still “in the works,” and I’m ever hopeful.

In the tradition of this particular story, if you want to read along as I write it, I set up a blog.  The chapter posts are private, but all you have to do to read along is register and login.  I have fifteen chapters posted so far, and I’m well into the next one, so get on over and catch up at the KILLER GREEN READ-ALONG BLOG.

My novel MAELSTROM is due soon for Kindle and other eReaders. I have also recovered the trade paperback rights to this title, so it will be coming out from Crossroad Press in the next year. This, of course, will join the so far unspectacular sales of other trade paperbacks we’ve done…there was a lot of grumbling about books coming out digitally that you couldn’t buy in print.  I set up the print line and priced it about five dollars cheaper than anyone else doing it…and no one is ordering.  Not a great argument for the hardcopies, but we persevere.  So far from Crossroad Press you can get a number of books in print, including original novels from Aaron Rosenberg, Chet Williamson, myself and Steven Savile, as well as an original collection by Jo Graham.  If you buy these books straight from the Crossroad Press store, you will receive the eBook for free with your purchase.  Many are also available in audio (with more to come)

All of this, of course, is available through CROSSROAD PRESS and also on Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

My collection The Call of Distant Shores is getting some attention now, and my most recent novel is also available, The Parting, the first full-length book in the new O.C.L.T. series.

More specific updates to come, and I’ll be fleshing out the books pages.

-DNW

The Writing of the Novel Deep Blue

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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.

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