New Orleans Book Signing

This Friday, May 25, I’ll be signing copies of my novels, Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order, Vampires of the Scarlet Order, The Astronomer’s Crypt, and Owl Riders at Boutique du Vampyre at 709 1/2 St. Ann Street in the French Quarter of New Orleans.

Boutique du Vampyre is a unique store that offers everything from jewelry and apparel to art and dolls to both vampires and mortals who are friends of vampires. My two Scarlet Order novels are clearly right at home at Boutique du Vampyre and I’m proud to be featured on their shelves alongside such authors as Alys Arden and Bruce T. Jones.

While The Astronomer’s Crypt doesn’t feature literal vampires, I’ve long thought of those of us who work all night long at observatories as kindred. We start work at sunset and leave before sunrise. It’s possible to avoid the daylight entirely in the job. Some observatories do have actually have crypts on site, and perhaps it’s not surprising that we hear our share of ghost stories. There are also more than a few mundane dangers that come with working at remote high-altitude locations late at night. The book imagines what happens when ghosts, gangsters, a monster from Apache lore, and astronomers collide during a terrible thunder storm. The Astronomer’s Crypt may not be a vampire novel, but it sits comfortably in their company!

Owl Riders is my latest novel and like The Astronomer’s Crypt does not feature vampires. Much of the novel, though, is set in the New Orleans French Quarter and the character Marie Lalande is a Voodoo practitioner. What’s more the novel’s protagonists, Ramon and Fatemeh Morales, live on the same French Quarter block as Boutique du Vampyre. This will be the novel’s first official book signing and it seems fitting to release it so close to Ramon and Fatemeh’s fictional home.

While getting ready for the signing event, I was going through files on my computer and found a book trailer I’d created for the novel Vampires of the Scarlet Order about twelve years ago, but never released. Overall, I felt like it held up. The only problem was that some of the information at the end was incorrect, but I was able to fix that with some judicious editing. So now, the trailer is live on YouTube and you can watch it here.

I created the trailer from illustrations Steven C. Gilberts did for the novel and gave it some film stutter and scratches, so it had the feeling of old vampire films I remember watching, such as Dracula or Nosferatu.

After the signing, I’ll be reading from my vampire novels at Potions Lounge on Bourbon Street. If you come by the signing the staff at Boutique du Vampyre will give you all the details about when to join us. If you’re in New Orleans for Memorial Day weekend, I hope you’ll join us for a truly special event. If you can’t make it, you can order signed books from Boutique du Vampyre by visiting http://www.feelthebite.com.

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Revisiting Excalibur

As the year began, Lachesis Publishing decided to put the ebook of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order on sale for 99 cents through January 21. Because of that, I’ve been thinking back to some of the inspiration for the novel.

I’ve long been a fan of Arthurian lore. In many ways, that fandom began back during my university days soon after watching John Boorman’s film Excalibur. After the film, I remember hot debate about how closely the film followed the “true” legend of King Arthur. I found myself wondering what exactly people meant by “the ‘true’ legend of King Arthur.” Soon after that, I was at a used bookstore in Albuquerque where I found a book with the historical and early literary texts that were the root of the Arthur legend. This opened up a whole new world to me and told me that the Arthur story is far more nuanced than I originally thought.

What most people think of as the “true” story of Arthur is based on the novel Le Morte d’Arthur written by Sir Thomas Mallory in 1485. It includes many of the familiar elements of the story including Arthur pulling the sword from the stone to become king, the adultery of Lancelot and Guinevere, and the quest for the Holy Grail. It’s also written approximately a thousand years after the historical Arthur would have lived. It’s built up from numerous folk tales Mallory would have known and put together into a single narrative. In fact, the sword in the stone, Lancelot, and the Holy Grail don’t appear in the earliest Arthur narratives.

As it turns out, the earliest Arthurian history from a Welsh monk named Nennius can be summed up as: “Arthur was a warlord who won many battles against the Saxons, until he finally defeated them at Badon Hill.” Even this version of the story wasn’t written until almost three or four hundred years after Arthur would have lived. Since that time, numerous folk tales developed. Many are reminiscent in tone to the tall tales of Pecos Bill and Paul Bunyan from the American frontier. I’ve read speculation that Lancelot started as the star of his own set of French Celtic folk tales and was then grafted onto the Arthur stories. Others say he has antecedents in minor characters from the earlier Celtic stories of Arthur.

This past week, I watched Excalibur for the first time in about twenty years. Admittedly, it’s been about fifteen years or so since I last read Le Morte d’Arthur, but it struck me that the movie did a tolerably good job following the plot of Mallory’s novel. Many have criticized the movie for its depiction of Arthur and his knights in bright, shiny armor. However, it struck me that this is a valid interpretation of Mallory, in much the same way as it would be valid to present a production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar with characters in Elizabethan garb. One can make a case it’s the way it would have been visualized by audiences at the time of the novel’s release.

Back when I wrote Vampires of the Scarlet Order, one of the characters mentioned that the vampire Drake was, “a British peer, a Dragon serving King Ambrosius.” The character goes on to explain “Ambrosius was King of the Britons before King Arthur. This was all around the year 480 A.D.” When I decided to write Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order which tells Drake’s origin story, I thought it would be fun to explore what I’d learned about Arthurian history and lore.

As an author, I put together some of my favorite ideas and pet theories of what the “true” King Arthur story was like. I knew people would expect to see Lancelot so I created a reason for him to be there, yet “erased” from history. It was a fun exercise and we also travel to other points in history as well. We go to ancient Greece and to England just after the Norman invasion. The novel ends in Mallory’s time in Eastern Europe where a certain famous nobleman often associated with vampires is coming to power. You can pick up Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order as an ebook at the following retailers. But hurry, the 99 cent special ends this weekend!

Why Write Vampire Tales?

Perhaps one of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve heard is don’t chase trends. In other words, don’t write a genre just because it’s popular and you expect to make a quick sale or lots of cash. Odds are, you’ll be sorely disappointed. SummersDragon'sFall By the same token, you should care a great deal about those subjects you do write about. After all you’re going to spend a lot of time with that subject writing, researching, and editing. If you have a measure of success, the book or story could be with you for some time after it’s written. You should be passionate about the subject.

I wrote my first vampire story in 2001 and I just sold my most recent vampire story this year, 2016. Vampires were popular when I started and continue to be popular. Even when my vampire novels reach relatively good sales ranks at Amazon, it’s not uncommon to see two or three hundred vampire novels with even better sales ranks. I think this shows both the popularity of the genre and explains why people at science fiction conventions often complain about how saturated the market is with vampire fiction. Of course, this is just another reason why passion is required. If you want to write a bestseller in a particular genre, it’s easiest to do so in a less popular genre than a more popular one!

So, why am I passionate about vampire stories? For me, they touch several themes near and dear to me. Growing up in urban Southern California, I was taught the night is a dangerous place with people lurking in shadows waiting to do me harm. I then went on to discover a love of astronomy and started spending a lot of time outdoors at night. I did learn to be careful and watchful at night, but I also learned that the night can be quiet and peaceful. Writing about vampires is like writing about kindred who are as passionate about the night as I am. I’ll note, the one time someone stole something from me, it was in broad daylight and I saw them coming. While I don’t fear the day, I can’t say it gives me more comfort than the night does.

What’s more, my dad died when I was young, forcing me to confront mortality head on early in life. There is admittedly a certain aspect of wish fulfillment in the idea of becoming a creature that circumvents death. However, living forever would come with costs. Among them, is the question of whether or not immortality is really all it’s cracked up to be and how one deals with hunting others to maintain an immortal existence.

I’m not only passionate about vampires, I’m passionate about history. Vampires of the Scarlet Order Writing about immortal vampires allows me to take a long view and write about people who get to see different periods of history and watch the world change. Of course, one of the consequences of being a vampire is that you can never really grow close to anyone other than a fellow vampire. Humans just grow old and die too quickly.

The website TVTropes.org has a very good page of suggestions for people who are interested in trying their hand at vampire fiction. One thing they discuss is that you should be genre savvy. This allows you to use and subvert tropes with knowledge of how others have approached the subject. Of course, this is another reason to be passionate about anything you wish to write about. If you’re doing it right, you’ll be spending a lot of time reading books and watching movies in the same genre you want to write. If you’re not passionate about it, that exercise will get old real fast.

If you’re passionate about vampires, or even just mildly curious, I hope you’ll spend some time getting to know some of my fictional friends in the following books:

Scarlet Order Vampire Novels Half Off

This month, the Scarlet Order Vampires raise a toast to Lachesis Publishing, which celebrates its eleventh birthday! This is a great opportunity to pick up ebooks of the Scarlet Order novels, which are both discounted 50%. That means you can get the entire series for under $2.00!

LACHESIS PUBLISHING SALE POSTCARD 3

The Scarlet Order is a team of vampires who came together to fight as mercenaries in the year 1067. Although these vampires must exist at night, they do wish to live in the shadows. Fighting as mercenaries allows the vampires to use their natural strength and predatory abilities to serve human causes.

SummersDragon'sFall Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order tells the origin story of the Scarlet Order vampires. Bearing the guilt of destroying the holiest of books after becoming a vampire, the Dragon, Lord Desmond searches the world for lost knowledge, but instead, discovers truth in love.

Born a slave in Ancient Greece, Alexandra craves freedom above all else, until a vampire sets her free, and then, she must pay the highest price of all … her human soul.

An assassin who lives in the shadows, Roquelaure is cloaked even from himself, until he discovers the power of friendship and loyalty.

Three vampires, traveling the world by moonlight—one woman and two men who forge a bond made in love and blood. Together they form a band of mercenaries called the Scarlet Order, and recruit others who are like them. Their mission is to protect kings and emperors against marauders, invaders, and rogue vampires. In the end, they must confront their ultimate nemesis, Vlad the Impaler.

Author and publisher Stephen C. Ormsby writes: “At the heart of this origin story is dark, descriptive writing that makes you believe that real vampires, not sparkly ones, do actually exist. An exciting novel that made me love a good vampire novel again.” The ebook edition of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order is available for $1.49 from Lachesis Publishing for the month of September.

Vampires of the Scarlet Order

Vampires of the Scarlet Order picks up the story of the Scarlet Order vampires in 1492 as they fight alongside the forces of Queen Isabella to rid Spain of the Moors. We follow their adventures into the present day when the United States government had decided to dabble in forces they don’t understand to create their own vampire-like super soldiers. At that point, it’s up to the Scarlet Order vampires to save humanity from themselves. In the process, the vampires learn about the origin of their kind and discover exciting possibilities about their future.

Author Neal Asher calls Vampires of the Scarlet Order “A novel with bite. An amalgam of Blade and The Name of the Rose with a touch of X-Files thrown in for good measure.” The ebook edition of Vampires of the Scarlet Order is available for just 49 cents from Lachesis Publishing for the month of September.

Goodreads

Goodreads embodies one of my favorite ideas for a social network—a place to hang out on line and share books with friends and potential readers. They have a lot of nice tools to allow readers to interact with each other and for authors to interact with readers and share information about their projects.

That said, the part I find the most challenging is site’s reliance on the five-star rating system. In particular, there are many books where I’m hard pressed to apply one “grade” to the entire book. Perhaps the book embodies beautiful prose, but has flat characters. Perhaps it’s a diamond in the rough that I thoroughly enjoyed despite some grammar and spelling problems. As with any social situation, I face awkward questions of going against the norm. What if I hated a book everyone loved or even loved a book everyone hated?

I’ve finally decided the standard I’m going to use to give books ratings on Goodreads is simply my enjoyment of the book. If I had a good time or felt enriched from reading it, I’ll likely give it five stars. If the book tempted me to throw it across the room in frustration, I’ll likely give it one or two. This may seem an extremely simple approach and you may wonder why it too me so long to come to this conclusion, but it goes back to that whole awkward social interaction thing. It’s easy to get caught up in questions of what people think of your opinions. In this case, I’ve simply found a standard that allows me to explain why I’ve given a book a particular rating—and it’s a standard that’s fun for me.

SummersLightningWolves

Of course another daunting element of all this is that I get to see what ratings people give my books. I do my best to adopt an attitude I first heard articulated by my friend Janni Lee Simner. I avoid trolling Goodreads for reviews and hope readers see it as a place where they can freely rate and discuss my books as they choose. I do look at the reviews from time to time and consider the comments good and bad, but I’ve also learned not to obsess over them. In fact, I’ve learned that most of my favorite authors have an average rating of about 3.5 give or take. Some readers love them, some hate them, a few are kind of neutral.

SummersDragon'sFall

This month, I’m giving away two of my books on Goodreads. I’m giving away five copies of my wild west steampunk adventure novel Lightning Wolves at https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/118409-lightning-wolves and I’m giving away five copies of my novel of vampire mercenaries, Dragon’s Fall at https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/118410-dragon-s-fall-rise-of-the-scarlet-order. If you’re a Goodreads member, I hope you’ll enter to win! If you do win, I hope you’ll take time to review the book. Whether you liked it or hated it, a review shows you cared about the book and in the end, that’s what really matters.

The Scarlet Order Vampires at Lachesis

As I mentioned in last week’s post, Lachesis Publishing has unveiled a brand new website. In addition to publishing my Old Star/New Earth science fiction series, they also publish my Scarlet Order vampire novels. For better or worse, vampire and paranormal romance novels seem to be everywhere these days. While it’s true the Scarlet Order vampire novels have their share of romance along with beautiful and dangerous vampires, I believe they offer something a little more. The Scarlet Order is a band of vampire mercenaries. They use their speed, agility, and strength to aid the world’s countries. What’s more, I find it interesting to look at the modern world through the eyes of creatures who have seen the world grow and change. Without further ado, here are the novels in the Scarlet Order series.

The Scarlet Order Vampire Series

Dragons Fall

Three vampyrs. Three lives. Three intertwining stories.

Bearing the guilt of destroying the holiest of books after becoming a vampyr, the Dragon, Lord Desmond searches the world for lost knowledge, but instead, discovers truth in love.

Born a slave in Ancient Greece, Alexandra craves freedom above all else, until a vampyr sets her free, and then, she must pay the highest price of all … her human soul.

An assassin who lives in the shadows, Roquelaure is cloaked even from himself, until he discovers the power of friendship and loyalty.

Three vampyrs, traveling the world by moonlight—one woman and two men who forge a bond made in love and blood. Together they form a band of mercenaries called the Scarlet Order, and recruit others who are like them. Their mission is to protect kings and emperors against marauders, invaders, and rogue vampyrs until their closest friend, Vlad the Impaler, proves to be their ultimate nemesis.

Click here to learn more about Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order at Lachesis Publishing.


Vampires of the Scarlet Order

Vampires of the Scarlet Order is an action-adventure novel about an elite cadre of vampire mercenaries who have worked throughout history as pinpoint assassins. Under the command of Desmond, Lord Draco, the Scarlet Order was involved in wars with the Ottoman Empire, The French Revolution and even the conquest of the Americas. Now, at the dawn of the 21st century, vampires are too expensive, too untrustworthy, and frankly, too passé for governments to employ any longer. Nanotechnology can be employed to engineer more reliable super soldiers. What’s a vampire to do?

Click here to learn more about Vampires of the Scarlet Order at Lachesis Publishing.


If these novels intrigue you, I invite you to drop by my other on-line journal, The Scarlet Order, where I regularly discuss horror writing, vampires, and other matters of interest to night creatures.

Looking Back at 2012

It’s hard to believe that 2012 is almost over. As I look back at the year, I have to say that it’s been quite a ride. I published a novel, a novella, seven short stories, a non-fiction article, two poems, was co-author of a scientific paper, edited four issues of Tales of the Talisman Magazine and two novels, and published an award anthology of poetry. Here you can see me with a number of the shorter works. Since the novel’s an ebook, it gets its own place of honor to the right.

Another important achievement this year was the publication of the ebook edition of my wild west steampunk adventure Owl Dance. If you haven’t already, this is the final day you can pick up your free copy in the five days of Owl Dance promotion. Just click the picture below. (If you don’t have a Kindle, no problem, just download one of the free apps from Amazon!)

Owl Dance Cover

Not only did I publish the stories, I was a speaker at Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium, ConDor, Gaslight Gathering, Phoenix Comicon, Bubonicon, CopperCon and last but not least, I was fan guest of honor at TusCon.

On top of all that, I continued my full-time job helping astronomers explore the universe using the telescopes at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Just before Christmas, I learned that I was promoted from “Observing Assistant” to “Observing Associate.”

Through it all, I’ve done my best to keep you posted about my doings here at the Web Journal. As the year wraps up, I’m honored to be nominated for five amazing blog awards from the talented and dynamic Emily Guido, author of the “Light Bearer Series.” Over the course of this year, I have watched her go from being a self-published author to signing a five-book contract with a publisher. She’s now working her way through a Masters of Business Administration degree. Follow her at: authoremilyguido.com/.

She nominated me for Blog of the Year 2012, the Time Machine Award, the Reality Award, the Liebster Award, and the Very Inspirational Blogger Award. Wow! Here are just a couple of the award icons:

Blog of the Year Award 1 star thumbnail
Very Inspirational Blogger

The true value of these awards is that they remind me that I could not have achieved any of this without my family, good friends at work, and in the writing world. Thank you all! Some of these people have blogs. Some don’t. Here’s a rundown of some of the people who have gone the extra mile and have blogs that you should check out:

So will 2013 prove to be as awesome as 2012? Only time will tell. What I can tell you is that the next thing on my schedule is Her Royal Majesty’s Steampunk Symposium in Long Beach, California. Learn more about the convention at their website: www.hrmsteam.com. It’s a great way to kick off the year and I hope to see you there!