Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pitching and how it morphs: Young Van Helsings

Someone on my blog asked me about Sword of Dracula, the comic series I wrote that first introduced the spy organization (grown up around the heroes of Dracula and the origins of Frankenstein) called the Polidorium. Would the characters there-- especially Ronnie-- ever return? I told her something a lot of people might not know: Alex Van Helsing, the book series, sprang from a pitch called Young Van Helsings. There, Alex was one of the leads in what would be a series about Alex, sister Ronnie (the star of the comic) and Alex's manipulative twin Judith. As it happened, by the time we were done, the pitch had refocused on Alex himself. That happens all the time-- this was actually a rare case where the pitch morphed, but the earlier version is still viable. Sometimes it can go wildly out of alignment with the original-- what starts out as a police procedural can wind up as a romantic comedy about a cop. Usually these changes are better. And besides-- you're the writer. You can always come around to the earlier version later.

Pitch time. That's where we are.
This is one of those periods where I'm mainly working my a** off but it's more or less hidden from public view. In public view I'm in a quiet period because Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead doesn't come out until July 26, and though I've turned in a draft of the third book, I don't have edits on it yet, so I'm working on new material. During the last hiatus I worked on a ghost story with a female lead; this time I'm working on two different middle grade boy action books simultaneously.

Where do I do this? I have an office at home, but for knocking out chapters, nothing suits me more perfectly than an empty lecture hall. Most of the Alex Van Helsing series, in fact, was written inside of lecture halls at the University of Dallas:
Gorman Lecture Center, where I do a lot of my writing.

Sometimes when I take breaks, I leave cryptic notes on the white boards (last time: THE COARSEST SENSATIONS OF MEN.) I always wonder if the students notice these notes, or if the professor just erases them. The world may never know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take 190 West Success!

Jennifer Ziegler blogged today about 190 West, a festival I attended in Killeen. This was a lot of fun-- head over there for pictures of the amazing authors in attendance, including Clare Dunkle (whose House of Dead Maids I just read and loved), Jennifer herself of the upcoming Sass and Serendipity, and way more. All hosted by the amazing guys at Overlooked Books and the City of Killeen.

Check out the blog for pics!

Zombie haiku author K A Holt on a balloon bike in Killeen, from Jennifer Ziegler's blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead gets a cover!

I am so stoked about this. See, authors usually see a cover many months early, but it's kind of forbidden to show the cover off until the cover is officially released. There's no real rule as to what that means-- after all, Goodreads has covers way early, but the one that seems to make a difference is Amazon and the other online retailers. When Amazon has a cover, you have a cover.

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead finally has a cover!

So finally I can talk about it, even though we're still way early. This book comes out in late Summer-- July 26, just in time for Back-to-School days. So just some hints for now, but what's this one about? See the description here from Amazon:
Now that Alex is in the know about the deadly vampires that live--and hunt--clustered around his boarding school, everything is different. Putting his talents to use, Alex is training with the Polidorium to become a vampire hunter, just like his Van Helsing ancestors. Sure, he's only fourteen, but c'mon, this runs in his blood.Meanwhile, Alex's arch-nemesis Elle, a vampire whose youthful appearance and blond hair disguise a vengeful rage, is out to get him before a powerful leader called "Ultravox" arrives on the scene. Ultravox specializes in assassinations, but who is he targeting? Dodging Elle's attacks, Alex is on a mission to uncover Ultravox's deadly plan before his friends and his school become collateral damage. There's no time to report back; innocent lives hang in the balance, and it's up to Alex to act now--or else.

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead-- July 26, 2011

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wonderfully bad monsters

More genius from the Onion AV Club: Ridiculous Horror Movie Adversaries, or the worst monsters of all time.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Put that coffee down.

A look at actors who come into a movie, take it over, and then leave.

Friday, March 11, 2011

On Twilight Fanfic

The Awl has a wonderful article on Twilight Fanfic.

These women edit stories, write reviews, judge writing contests, host podcasts, and have five conventions planned in the course of a year. The stories range from traditional romance plots (a cabin, a fireplace, a hot tub, general yearning) to ecstasy-fueled threesomes in college dorm rooms. Sites like Twilighted have filled a space on the internet that no publishing house ever could. They dodge copyright laws and taboos about teen sex. Also they do it for free.
Check out the rest!

Although a big opponent of piracy I'm a huge fan of fanfic. That's my goal in life, to develop something so popular that people are compelled to write fanfic about it. (Fanfic I then would probably not be allowed to read, but there you go.)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Report a Vampire to Alex Van Helsing!

Check out the Alex Van Helsing Facebook app "Report a Vampire!" What is it? This is your chance to report vampire activity to Alex Van Helsing. So head over to the app, fill it out, create a report of vampire activity, and post it to your Facebook wall! I want to see vampire reports from Orlando to Portland!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

FantasticFanGirls Interview

Head over to FantasticFanGirls my interview on writing Daughters of the Shadow, Alex Van Helsing and more! Writer Caroline Pruett is splitting this into a two-parter, so I'll be sure and post the conclusion as well!

Recently, Caroline had a chance to interview writer Jason Henderson, whose work includes theShadowland: Daughters of the Shadow miniseries from Marvel. The Q&A ended up being so interesting that we’re going to spread it over two days. Today’s installment will focus on his most recent Marvel work, now available in hardcover. Among other things, Jason will explain how Daughters of the Shadow — which includes the continuing adventures of everybody’s favorite sneaker-wearing ninja detective, Colleen Wing — is the perfect blending of Batman and the Outsiders, a James Bond movie, and Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I think all our readers can agree this makes it one of the awesomest things ever.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Take 190 West

Guys, I will be at the Take 190 West literary festival in Killeen this weekend. I'm really looking forward to it because I get to hang out with a huge number of Texas writers and artists.

This is especially cool for me because I spent most of my childhood in Killeen-- just spent half an hour with a reporter from the paper there, in fact, reminiscing about life as a kid in Killeen, which for me is all about walking and exploring back roads.

Hope I can see you there!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

"Macbeth 2," or Macduff, the Iron Thane

Turn, thou bloodier villain than terms can give thee out.
I was always fascinated by the character of Macduff, the hero of Shakespeare's Macbeth. At the end of Shakespeare's play, everything has more or less worked out for everyone except the guy who actually killed the tyrant Macbeth-- there's a new king, sure, but what of Macduff? His family is still gone, the country changed forever. I thought about this a long time, and then I started to write a book about it.

I had lots of names for the book: "Macbeth 2," "Macduff." I think I actually submitted the book under the unwieldy title "The Earth Hath Bubbles," a reference to a line in Macbeth. (And amazingly, it still sold to Baen Books.)

This was years ago-- in fact, the book called The Iron Thane was the first book I ever published, and it sought to tell the story of what happened to MacDuff (I spelled it with a big D like the MacDuff Society) after the play, and since I prefer adventure stories, you'll be shocked to know that what happened was exciting and magical. The villain? The Erl-King of German legend. Macduff has to lead an alliance of humans, vikings, little people led by Oberon and Titania of Midsummer Night's Dream, and some intelligent animals against an army of bird-winged elves who plot to steal souls.

Would it surprise you to hear that Macbeth finds a love interest among the immortals?

I followed Book 1 up with a second MacDuff adventure, The Spawn of Loki, in which the Norse god Loki revives at Mont Saint Michel and threatens to bring about Ragnarok, the Norse Apocalypse. By then I was hitting a stride. Then I went to law school. Eventually the rights came back to me, and there the books sat, in a drawer, so to speak. It took many years to start writing books again, with a new series.

This week I've released both books in "The MacDuff Saga" on Kindle. If you enjoyed Alex Van Helsing or something else I wrote, and are waiting for Voice of the Undead, this is a good time to catch up on my first hero: MacDuff, the Iron Thane.

Give them a read-- I've priced them both at $3.50, and I'd love to hear how MacDuff, Thane of Fife, holds up as a hero.