Category Archives: the red eye

#PALitFest!

Next week, I’ll be appearing at the Pennsylvania Literary Festival, along with a lot of fabulous authors of a variety of genres. The keynote speaker is John Dixon, author of Phoenix Island, which was the inspiration behind the CBS series Intelligence, starring Josh Holloway. Lots of authors, faculty, alumni, and students from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular fiction M.F.A. program will be appearing, including horror authors Michael A. Arnzen, Lawrence C. Connolly, Jason Jack Miller, and Stephanie Wytovich; science fiction and fantasy authors Ann Kopchik and K. Ceres Wright, and suspense author Randall Silvis. Leading the charge is science fiction author Heidi Ruby Miller, who just released Book 1 in her Ambassadora series, Marked By Light. I will be there to read excerpts from the first two volumes in my Red Eye series, The House on Concordia Drive and The Red Eye. I’ll also be on a panel discussing feminism in genre fiction, alongside Kopchik, J.L. Gribble, Carole Waterhouse, and Christina Fisanick.

This is one of my first such events on the other side of the microphone, as it were. I’ve done several readings/signings on panels with other Alliteration Ink authors. I also used to host a semi-regular reading series at a local coffeehouse, where I served as organizer, master of ceremonies, and read some of my own work, and I attend writing-related events and workshops as a student all the time. But I look at this event as an unofficial launch party for The Red Eye, in part, and it’s great to be experiencing such a thing with so many Seton Hill folks; this is my writing family in many ways, and the greater Pittsburgh area is becoming a second home.

There are events for folks of all ages, musical performances, and much to do every day, so come on out to the Uniontown, PA Mall, Friday May 30th-Sunday June 1. Hope to see you there!

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Signed book giveaway!

Win a signed copy of The House on Concordia Drive via Goodreads! From now until April 13 only!

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The Red Eye web site

The Red Eye, my urban fantasy novel, and its prequel novelette The House on Concordia Drive are now available from Alliteration Ink!

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5 April 2014 · 4:25 pm

Big Publishing Milestone

The House on Concordia DriveMy urban fantasy novel The Red Eye and its prequel novelette The House on Concordia Drive (both 2014, Alliteration Ink) mark the publication of my 49th and 50th pieces of writing.

I didn’t actually realize I hit the big five-oh until I started working on some bio/promo things for querying something else. Suddenly I saw that my list had grown, and I decided to add number bullets.

The Red EyeThere it was. 49. 50. FIFTY.

For someone who used to write nonsensical (yet somehow endless) Dickensian soap operas every summer growing up, for someone who’s never quite felt “good enough” as any sort of artist (see my failed attempts as musician and painter), this is kind of huge. So even though I demur a bit and really don’t always feel like the most confident writer, I have to kind of say, “Good for me” for once.

I’ve had help. Every English teacher, from high school, college, and my M.A. program, and my colleagues in several arenas of my life certainly inspired this love of words and forcing them together into sentences and stories. I’ve had more specific help from the members of my writing group, my M.F.A. program classmates and mentors, spouse, and various helpful editors and publishers, some of whom even helped in their rejections.

Every day, I encounter something that makes me a better writer, whether it’s formal notes and edits on a story or something I read in which the author makes a particularly deft turn of phrase (or a not-so-deft one, one I then take pains not to emulate). I’ve learned from others’ success and failures, learned from others’ reactions and support and very occasionally the lack thereof, truth be told. But it’s both the acceptances and the rejections that make a piece of writing better, and I think sometimes in life it’s acceptances and rejections on a larger scale that make us better people, stronger people, more resilient people.

I was excited to figure out that I’d hit 50. A few years ago, I had a goal of trying to get 35 before I turned 36 (which I did do, but just barely). Once I stopped counting, something interesting happened. With this arbitrary goal gone, I just kept going, without real target in mind other than to keep writing and then sending things out. Once I stopped counting, I racked up more credits than when I was counting. Kind of funny how that works, huh?

The love of the craft is the goal, of course. That’s the real lesson. If I were only in this game for any reason other than the need to write stories, no matter the outcome, I would have either never started in the first place or kind of petered out after meeting that magic number. Instead, I just kept chugging away. The placement of a piece now is secondary to the thrill of really, finally getting a story into tip-top shape. Getting a full-length novel into truly tip-top shape is also paramount, which explains why The Red Eye was first due last fall but delayed a bit—I wanted it to be as perfect as I could make it more than I wanted to actually hold the thing in my hands.

When you do something for the love of it, some of the other stuff will come, too. Maybe not the way you think, the amount you think, the timing you think, but something will, and it’ll often be all the lovelier because you didn’t crave it quite so desperately but instead cherished it enough to wait until it was really meant to be.

Not gonna lie, though. Now I’m wondering if I can’t hit 60 in the not-too-distant future.

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Publication News for January

My first full-length novel, The Red Eye, will be released soon from Alliteration Ink. Exact dates and details TBD, but I’m really pleased with the process, the book, the cover art, and the entire experience.

Over the past few months, I’ve been posting a lot of reflections on several pieces of horror literature. Those were part of a course I was taking in Seton Hill University’s MFA program in Writing Popular Fiction. I’m delighted to say that my final project for that course—a horror story featuring an off-the-beaten-path monster—was recently accepted for publication in Mocha Memoir Press’ The Grotesquerie, an anthology of female horror writers. I’m very excited and especially grateful to all those who read drafts and gave me great advice on how to make it the best story it could be.

I have another release coming up this year so far, a vampire story with a twist entitled “Method Writing,” which will appear in Static Movement’s anthology Night Hunters. Fellow writers will perhaps enjoy that one. I’m also working on a prequel to The Red Eye, and again I have to give kudos to my SHU classmates and mentors for helping whip that piece into shape.

I don’t have anything else out at markets at the present time, but I’ve lately been thinking about whether one of my unpublished novels is actually urban fantasy or if it’s secretly paranormal romance. That may change what markets I pursue. I never thought of myself as a romance writer. Then again, I never thought of myself as a horror writer, and yet I’ve published over a dozen horror stories and a novella. In fact, I’ve had more horror accepted than any other genre I write, and the genre I think of as my primary (science fiction) has been my least-published to date. Much of my work straddles the line between horror and fantasy, but I’ve never actively tried to market something as primarily romance. In many ways, genres are getting fuzzier, more specialized, and less meaningful. A good story is a good story, and that’s always what I aim to write, including those elements that I feel make sense for the plot and characters. If those elements are comedic, horrific, fantastical, or romantic, then so be it. Publishers obviously think more in terms of what their readers are drawn to, of course, and therein lies the trouble with more experimental, cross-genre work.

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Celebrating 60 Posts!

This is the sixtieth post I’ve made to this blog since I started it back in November of 2011, just after We Shadows Have Offended was first published. Since then, I’ve done series on National Novel Writing Month, writing and yoga, steampunk, and general writing advice. I’ve had six new short stories published (with another in press), I released three chapbook collections of short stories (some new, some old), and I secured a publisher for my first full-length novel, The Red Eye. I also began pursuing my MFA at Seton Hill University, through which I’ve met some amazing writers among both the students and faculty.

But 2011 isn’t when I became a writer, of course. At the signing/reading events for SIDEKICKS!, that was a common question: When do you begin writing? I struggled with my response. I began writing with the goal of pursuing publication as long ago as 1998 or so, and I started getting far more serious about that in 2002, the first time I did NaNoWriMo. But I’ve always written stories, going back to elementary school when I wasted stacks of paper printing out lavish epics which I would occasionally also illustrate. (I sincerely hope these never leave the confines of my parents’ garage.) I’ve also always been a reader, curled up on my butterfly-festooned bedspread devouring things ordered from the newsprint sheets of Scholastic Books. In high school, my stack of schoolbooks always had a novel teetering on top, and I’d sneak chapters of The Stand in between Crime and Punishment and Great Expectations during study hall.

To my students, I’m Methuselah, but for an author I’m still young. The career of a writer can be blessedly long and often blossoms—if it is to blossom at all—in one’s thirties. You’re no longer so young as to have nothing to say, but you still have enough optimism that you’re willing to try something so ridiculous and financially unrewarding.

Perhaps this is also why the protagonist of The Red Eye is in his mid-thirties. At the time I started that book, I was weary of YA coming-of-age stories and wanted to see what would happen when someone discovers his “chosen one” status during that oh-so-fun decade when you’re just as likely to have pimples as wrinkles. I made my protagonist a dreaded “man-child,” irresponsible and hard-drinking, but I also gave him a failed marriage, a professional full-time job, and a grown-up love story, because that’s the kind of POV I wanted to see and could relate to. I can certainly understand and appreciate the struggles of twentysomethings from observing them at work, but I’m delighted to be done with high school and wasn’t interested in revisiting it in my fiction.

Then again, maybe I’m particularly well-suited to consider writing “new adult,” that liminal stage of moving from one’s early- to mid-twenties, when you are indeed on the precipice of change but you may have already gotten a mortgage, as I see these folks every day, trying to balance school and work and sometimes even families. I’m excited to see where that genre goes in the next few years, just as I’m excited to embark on this next phase of my writing career.
Here’s to sixty more blog posts and a whole lot more fun stuff to write about.

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