This has been a busy week at my observatory day job and at my writing desk. I’m making good progress on my new steampunk novel Lightning Wolves and I’m about ready to send the second special steampunk issue of Tales of the Talisman to press. In the meantime, Australian author Stephen Ormsby conducted a fantastic interview that I post here for your enjoyment. Among other things he discusses Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and he asks me about my thoughts on romance novels. Enjoy!
I’d like to start this week’s post with a big welcome to all the people who discovered the Scarlet Order Vampire Journal during the Hot Summer Nights Blog Hop! I will also be joining the Christmas in July Blog Hop that runs from July 19-22. I have a special giveaway package all picked out for that event, so be sure to stay tuned.
On Memorial Day Weekend, I was honored to be one of the guest authors at Arizona’s Phoenix Comicon. The event was held in the Phoenix Convention Center and I spoke on several panels about writing and science. It was also the debut event for the print editions of two of my books: Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order and A Kepler’s Dozen: Thirteen Stories About Worlds that Really Exist
Dragon’s Fall was a popular choice for people looking for a thrilling, adult vampire tale. A Kepler’s Dozen was popular with science fiction fans and people who wanted to know about planets discovered around other stars by NASA’s Kepler Space Mission.
Not only do I write about vampires, I’m a fan of vampires too. As such, I was especially pleased to meet Rebecca Hicks, the creator of the Little Vampires webcomic. The link will take you to the comic Rebecca drew from a suggestion I gave her just before the convention.
I also had the chance to meet Amanda Tapping, creator and star of the series Sanctuary, which reveals that Nikola Tesla was, in fact, a vampire!
Near the end of the convention, we received the order to evacuate the convention center. I gather smoke was seen in one of the meeting rooms and the fire alarm was pulled. I have to give a big shoutout to the convention center staff and the convention attendees for the orderly evacuation of the facility. It was handled professionally and well. Once everyone was allowed back in, we stayed open an hour and a half later to make up for the half hour we lost. It made for a long day, but I was glad to meet a few more people.
As with any big convention, I saw a lot of friends, made some new friends, but managed to miss some friends who were there. I look forward to seeing some of the last group at another event down the road.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for an event to check out my books. You can see the complete set along with places you can buy at:
On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
“This could be Heaven or this could be Hell”
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
Welcome to this stop on the Hot Summer Nights Blog Hop! This post comes soon after the paperback release of my novel Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. I’ll be introducing the key players and at the end of the post I’ll tell you how you can win a free print copy of the novel! Also, if you leave a comment and your email address you will be entered to win one of two prizes:
1st Grand Prize – A Kindle Fire
2nd Grand Prize – $100 Amazon Gift Card
I’m sure most people recognize the lyrics of “Hotel California” by the Eagles that I quoted at the beginning. When I think “Hot Summer Nights” this is the song that comes to mind. According to Don Henley, it was “an interpretation of the high life in California.” I grew up in Southern California and for me, the song captures the sensuousness of my youthful fantasies. I wanted to go to that hotel and be tempted by the mysterious figure who lit up the candle and showed the stranger the way. Or did I? To me, the song conjures the image of Dracula’s opening scene when the count appears at the door and meets Harker and leads him inside after a long journey. Could “she” be the vampire Alexandra in the present day? The vampire who found freedom as a thief of both gold and blood?
Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget
Oh, how I remember that summer when my first true love broke up with me. Such exquisite pain. I would do anything to forget and anything to remember. How much worse then would it be for the Vampire Roquelaure who lost his one true love to old age while he still appeared to be a young man? How much worse could it be when the woman was none other than King Arthur’s own Queen Guinevere? He finds comfort in the shadows and in the arms of Alexandra.
Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
“Relax, ” said the night man,
“We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave! ”
Desmond, Lord Draco was a knight in ancient Britain who served alongside Arthur, a man destined to be king. Like both Roquelaure and Arthur, Desmond loved Guinevere, but that love was denied when he fell in battle only to come back as a vampire. Draco sought the Holy Grail and an even more precious relic. When those treasures were denied him, he began an eternal search for truth—stuck in a life where he could check out any time he liked, but never able to leave. Like Roquelaure, he finds a companion in Alexandra. What happens when Draco and Roquelaure collide?
And she said “We are all just prisoners here, of our own device”
And in the master’s chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can’t kill the beast
Three vampires. Three lives. What will happen when they all collide?
Have I intrigued you? If so, I hope you’ll take some time to learn more about Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. There’s an excerpt and order information at the Dragon’s Fall page. And, of course, I’m giving away a signed, print copy of the novel. Click the Rafflecopter link to enter!
Don’t forget to leave a comment with your email address so you can be entered to win the grand prizes!
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Today my wife and I celebrate our twenty-third wedding anniversary. So, I hope you’ll understand if I keep this week’s regular post short and sweet. To make up for it, I have an extra special post coming up mid-week that includes some amazing giveaways!
Kumie and I met at a very rigorous science college called New Mexico Tech. When we first met, we were both physics majors. Kumie eventually switched to mathematics, but I stayed in physics. Most of my friends considered my writing a strange hobby that I would get over, but not Kumie. She believed in me and encouraged me when others doubted my dreams. Vampires of the Scarlet Order is dedicated to her, the enchantress of my heart, forevermore.
Now then, coming up in the middle of the week, we have the Hot Summer Nights blog hop. All the posts on the blog hop will go live on May 22 and each of us will post something on the theme of hot summer nights. I will talk about a song that evokes that idea for me.
Each of us is giving something away, so don’t just stop at one or two destinations. I’m giving away a signed print edition of Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order. What’s more, if you leave a comment at a participating blog along with your email address you will be entered to win one of two fantastic prizes. The first grand prize is a Kindle Fire. The second grand prize is a $100 Amazon Gift Card. How cool is that?
Now, it’s time for me to go spend time with my special lady. I’ll see you back here on Wednesday. Don’t be late!
One piece of advice I give aspiring writers is to read frequently, but to read outside your genre of choice, because you’ll often find inspiration from unexpected sources. A gunfight in a Western might might inspire a confrontation in a science fiction story. A love scene in a romance novel might inspire more emotional depth for a similar scene in a spy thriller.
An example I can cite related to my vampire fiction is the novel MASH written by Richard Hooker. For those not familiar with MASH, it’s a wartime comedy that tells the story of army doctors doing their best to stay sane during the Korean War. It inspired a Robert Altman film starring Donald Sutherland, Elliott Gould, and Sally Kellerman, which in turn inspired a TV series starring Alan Alda, Wayne Rogers, and Loretta Switt.
One of the things that stood out for me about the book and the movie is that the protagonists weren’t altogether likable characters. They got out-of-control drunk, were intolerant, and they could be cruel, self-absorbed, and mean-spirited. Despite that, Hooker made us care about the characters through the humorous situations he put them in and the realization that all of us can be like these guys at our worst. Now, I’ll note that I grew up with the TV series where the doctors were generally played as likeable, good-hearted rogues, so to see their darker counterparts in the book and the movie was interesting from that point of view as well.
In my vampire novels and stories, I faced a similar challenge. By their nature, vampires are not heroic figures. They drink the blood of mortals to survive and my vampires are mercenaries who fight wars for profit. The lesson from MASH was that if you want the reader to sympathize with less-than-likeable characters, you need to help the reader understand how the characters became who they are. In MASH, Hawkeye, Trapper and Duke were doctors just beginning their careers when they were thrust into a war zone. No wonder they went a little crazy! A dangerous vampire might have started as a likeable or even heroic human. How would you behave if you suddenly became a creature of the night?
Another element I found interesting about the novel and movie MASH were their episodic qualities. A series of almost unrelated events were dovetailed together to create a narrative arc. I think this is often how life actually feels and I like telling stories this way. What’s more, Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order was originally contracted as a series of five-stand alone novellas that came together and formed a narrative arc. By necessity, it had to be something of an episodic novel and an episodic novel like MASH helped me learn how to tell that kind of story.
Finally, just as an aside, when I found the original cover art for MASH shown above, I discovered another thing it has in common with Dragon’s Fall. Both novels were published in Canada!
I’ll wrap up today’s post with two links. First, there’s a great new review of Dragon’s Fall at
. Be sure to drop by and check out Melinda Moore’s thoughts on the novel. Also, there’s just a little more than one week left in the Goodreads giveaway for Dragon’s Fall. If you haven’t signed up for the giveaway, do so now at
LepreCon 39 will be held in Mesa, Arizona at the Mariott on 200 North Centennial Way from May 9-12, 2013. The guest of honor are writer Jack McDevitt, artist Raymond Swanland, artist Jeff Perryman, and musician Nancy Freeman. There are lots of great panels and events. Be sure to check out the Leprecon website to get all the details!
I will be on several great panels:
Friday, May 10
- 3-4:30pm – Self-promotion & Marketing for Today’s Books – Ballroom B
How much self-promotion is worth it, what works now, and when is it a career in itself? Panelists: PJ Hultstrand, Zachary Jernigan, Tina Williams, David Lee Summers, Bob Nelson (moderator).
- 6-7:30pm – Writing vs Editing in the Internet Age – Ballroom A
The Internet Age has allowed writers to get their works out faster, but at what cost? Why everyone needs a good editor and why you should NEVER edit your own work? The price of getting work into public too quickly. How can the reader spot shoddy editing? Panelists: David Lee Summers (moderator), Leigh Strother-Vien, T.L. Smith, Francis Hamit.
Saturday, May 11
- 10-11am – ReAnimation: Science Farce or Science Fact – Ballroom A
On the heels of The Walking Dead and all the other movies, comic books, and stories, what is the reality of zombies. We will discuss the fantasy of zombies and the science reality of what is really possible. Why aren’t there any rules to the creation of zombies, like there had been for other monsters, such as vampires and werewolves? Why are we fixated on these monsters? Panelists: Daniel Kings (aka Commodore Max) Moderator, Ernest Hogan, David Lee Summers, Vaughn L. Treude.
- 11a-noon – Independent Publishing Update 2013 – Ballroom A
What’s new on the horizon for the Indie authors and publishers? There is so much changing that it’s hard to keep up with the technology used to support the pros and entertain the masses. Panelists: Bob Nelson (moderator), PJ Hultstrand, Greg Lundberg, David B. Riley, David Lee Summers.
- Noon-1pm – Introduction to Poetry Slams & Short Flash Fiction – Cabana
What are they Poetry Slams and Flash Fiction? Why they are poetry slams popular with the younger generation? An introduction to the poetry slam groups in Arizona. Also a look at the concise world of Flash Fiction. Why short fiction is working now and how authors can make it work for them? Panelists: Bob Nelson (moderator), Sharon Skinner, Gary B. Phillips, T.L. Smith, David Lee Summers.
- 3-4pm – Autographing Session in Dealers’ Room
- 10-11pm – Dressing your vampire for his first kill – Ballroom B
Would you dress him/her in a cape or a bib? If a bib, then full length or lobster-style? And should you supply the toothbrush or put one in his/her pocket for afterwards? Panelists: David Lee Summers (moderator), Zachary Jernigan, Gary B. Phillips, JoAnn Senger.
- 11:30a-12:30p – Discovering New Worlds with David Lee Summers – Canyon Room
A presentation on how planets are discovered around other stars and what’s known about them.
Don’t forget, if you’re on Goodreads, be sure to sign up for the Dragon’s Fall: Rise of the Scarlet Order giveaway. One lucky person will get a signed copy of the novel. The giveaway is at: