Hanging out in Urban Fantasy land

Sorry to be such a stranger around here. [looks around; notices the place really needs a good dusting.] I’ve been kicking back and letting the words flow in my new urban fantasy story, The Doctor’s In. It’s the first book in a new series called Tales of Doctor Horror and Penny Dreadful, and that is one pushy duo. They keep shouting out ideas for future stories and I have to constantly whip them back into shape and remind them we’re still on the first book.

It’s exciting and exhilarating, and just a bit nerve-wracking. My first two titles were horror, so that’s the fan base I have going now. Will they thrill to the switch to urban fantasy? Will readers of urban fantasy that don’t like horror take an interest in the new guy? It’s kind of like starting all over again since this is a new genre.

Still, I believe I’m up to the challenge. This is one of those stories that seems to write itself. I’ve even gone the extra mile and actually use visual cues for this one. Usually I just keep the stuff in my head, but I felt a few pictorial representations were in order this time around.

Doctor Horror

The first image that came to me was for the character of Doctor Horror himself. This guy actually looks a little older than what I envisioned, but the clothing is spot-on. Yeah, the Doc is kind of an interesting character. How interesting? This is his car.

1930 Hearse

That might be a little bit of wish fulfillment because I always thought it would be cool to own a hearse. Yep, I’m a bit strange at times…  but come on. It really would be cool. Anyway, this is Doc’s ride, although Penny is the one that actually drives it.

We also have George.

George

Again, this isn’t exactly what I see in my mind’s eye but it’s close.

You probably noticed there’s no pic for Penny. I have a strong image in my mind of her, but I think it’s best to keep how I envision her a secret. The Doctor is In is a first-person POV, with lots of “I did this” and “I did that.” I’ll lay the foundation so readers have a starting point (she has pink-streaked hair) but Penny, and even the rest of the gang, will soon belong to others besides me, and they’ll be able to picture these guys any way they want to… and that’s how it should be.

The cover for The Doctor is In will probably be available soon. I actually have a cover ready now, but I need to let it sit for a little while and see if I still like it when I come back to it. If it still seems like the one, then I’ll be sharing it with you fairly soon.

Once Upon a Time is looking Grimm

Grimm and Once Upon a Time

While they’re a long way from dominating the television line-up, fairy tales have apparently hit their stride, with two fairy tale-themed shows popping up on the small screen recently.

Grimm has already been given the green light for Season 2, which thrills me considerably. If you haven’t seen it, then you really should tune in and give it a try. If I had to describe Grimm to somebody that’s never heard of it, I’d say it’s like a grown-up Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Law & Order. Yeah, I know that sounds really strange, but it works for me. Of course, the Buffy comparison comes simply because you have a seemingly ordinary guy that suddenly finds out he belongs to a long line of monster-slayers, destined to defend mankind against all the supernatural beasties. The Law & Order reference is because the writers have done a great balancing act with storyline. On one hand, you have all these fairy tale creatures roaming around, and plenty of them don’t care about providing happy endings. On the other hand, you have a really cool crime procedural. The police angle works so well that I believe the show would still be enjoyable if all the supernatural elements were stripped out… but then it wouldn’t be Grimm, so I hope they don’t try to do that. I can hardly wait to see what Season 2 will bring our way.

The other show that’s filled to the brim with fairy tales is Once Upon a Time. I think the jury’s still out on whether this one will be renewed or not, and I honestly don’t know if I’d tune in if it comes back. The premise is pretty cool – fairy tale characters get plucked from their enchanted land and dumped in the real world, with no memory of their true history. I love the way some of the characters have been enhanced, while still sticking pretty close to the fairy tale legends we know. The reason why Red Hiding Hood wears the red cloak was especially cool. I also like how Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin has been handled. I actually think he’s my favorite character, which is a pretty good trick to pull off for someone that really doesn’t play that large a role in the original fairy tales.

My problem with Once Upon a Time is that it’s starting to put off a bad vibe every time I tune in. Where Grimm makes me think Buffy or Law & Order, OUAT is starting to remind me of a soap opera. I realize Prince Charming and Snow White are two of the major players in the show, but this whole ‘I love you but can’t be with you but I want to be with you’ thing is starting to really get on my nerves. Fortunately, a murder mystery and the surprise suspect have provided a break from that, and I really hope the show doesn’t fall back into the unrequited-love rut. If they can get back to offering more than Charming and Snow looking longingly at each other, I might actually start to hope a Season 2 will be on the horizon.

Have you seen either show? Both of them? What’s your opinion? Love ’em or hate ’em?

What’s next, Marty?

I’m glad you asked because there are a couple of new stories that will be coming your way soon.

Currently, I’m working on the first book in a new urban fantasy series called Tales of Doctor Horror and Penny Dreadful. It was originally just going to be Tales of Doctor Horror but Penny demanded that she be included too, and I figured it was only fair to bow to her wish demand since the story is actually told by her. Penny and the Doctor will be going up against all kinds of supernatural baddies, and the first book, The Doctor is In, will reveal how Penny meets the strange guy in the bowler hat. It will be a little more reader-friendly since the language will be milder than previous works and there won’t be any sex scenes like in Little Demons.

Griffin, the correctional-officer-turned-zombie-fighter from Dead Man Walking, will also be making a return. The zombie infection is no longer contained within prison walls and he’s going to be a busy guy as he tries to keep the world from falling to an undead plague.

There are a few other thing rattling around inside my head, but these two are screaming the loudest so they get the most attention at the moment. I’ll keep you posted as these two titles creep closer to being released.

Character Interview with Farmer Crowley from Little Demons

We have a special guest stopping by the blog today. Farmer Crowley from Little Demons was nice enough to come by for a visit.

Marty: Thanks for stopping by, Farmer Crowley.

Crowley: Not a problem, Marty. My daughter, Lilly, has things under control in Hale while I’m here.

Marty: Under control? You’re just a retired farmer that won the lottery, aren’t you? What is there to control?

Crowley, Well, I’m not just a farmer, Marty. I guess you could say I’m kinda like the mayor of Hale.

Marty: I was pretty sure you were just a farmer. Maybe you’re a little confused.

Crowley: I’ve been walking this world for a long time, but I’m a long way from being confused. Let’s just say I run things in Hale… and leave it at that.

Marty: Ummm. Well, since you just flashed some wicked looking fangs in my direction, I guess it probably is best to just drop the subject.

Crowley: Fangs? You been hitting my home-made whiskey, Marty? I don’t have fangs.

Marty: I would’ve sworn I saw — Never mind. If you say you run Hale, I’ll take your word for it. What’s it like to be in charge of a little country town?

Crowley: Well, there’s more to Hale than meets the eye. Sure, it’s just a little town in the middle of nowhere, but it’s also a second chance for a lot of people.

Marty: Like Frank?

Crowley: Frank’s a special case. If anyone is in need of a second chance, it’s definitely that boy because he’s just a bad egg. But I didn’t bring him to Hale for a second chance. I let him in simply because Lilly wanted to meet him, and you know I can’t say no to my baby girl.

Marty: That’s kind of interesting. You said you let Frank in but it’s just a little town that anyone can go through isn’t it?

Crowley: Oh, Hale is just a little town like I’m just an old farmer. Nobody gets into, or out of, Hale without my permission.

Marty: Oh. Well, I was thinking about visiting but it doesn’t really sound like my kind of place if I need to get permission to enter and leave. I mean, who guarantees that you’ll give the okay to leave?

Crowley: There are no guarantees in Hale, especially when it comes to leaving, and Hale really isn’t your type of town, Marty. Maybe one of these days, if you screw up. But as it stands right now, you wouldn’t fit in, and I wouldn’t let you in because of that.

Marty: Not even for a quick visit?

Crowley: There’s no such thing as a quick visit when it comes to my town… and speaking of quick, I need to be getting back there. Lilly’s pretty good at taking care of things but that Frank is a wild card.

Marty: Well, I want to thank you for coming by. Got any advice for our visitors?

Crowley: I’ve always got advice for people. Buy Little Demons to find out more about me, Lilly, and Frank. Trust me, it’s the best way to visit Hale. Of course, I’ll probably be seeing some of you there in person, anyway. It’s in your nature to do bad things, and you’re guaranteed to get one of my special invitations when you cross that line.

Marty: Pretty sure I saw fangs that time. I think your eyes were glowing, too.

Crowley: You really need to lay off the hard stuff, Marty. It doesn’t agree with you. Good bye.

Little Demons is FREE today

No Pinch on St Patrick's Day

I made it through St. Patrick’s Day without getting pinched, and I decided to celebrate the momentous occasion by offering Little Demons for free today. The ‘Pinchless Promotion’ ends at midnight tonight so don’t wait too long to get your copy.

Didn’t make it through the day as lucky as me? Not a problem, because reading about Frank’s rotten day in Little Demons will make you realize things could be much worse 😉

Incidentally, it wasn’t purely luck that let me get through the day unscathed. I’m pretty sure the above philosophy had something to do with it, too 😉

Welcome to Hale (Pop. 666), where things aren’t always what they seem and the devil always gets his due.

After a car heist goes wrong, a narrow escape from the police has Frank driving into the little town of Hale, where he thinks he’s found the answer to his prayers.

An old farmer by the name of Crowley has won the lottery and Frank thinks it’s only fair the old man shares his wealth. Of course, Crowley’s daughter, Lilly, doesn’t mind sharing herself with Frank, either, which only makes life seem so much sweeter.

Unfortunately, this is Hale and the little town has more in common with that other ‘H’ place than Frank realizes. He thinks the old farmer and his sexy daughter are the perfect victims, but his opinion might change before the sun comes up… if he lives that long.

Little Demons, a novelette of approximately 12,800 words, contains scenes that include sexual situations and strong language.

Get Little Demons.

Dark Shadows is a comedy? Hmmmm.

Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins in Dark ShadowsWhile I was just a wee little one when Dark Shadows originally aired on TV, I did catch the reruns a little later on in life, and I can safely say that the Tim Burton movie of the same name, starring Johnny Depp as Barnabas Collins, is a very distant relative to the original Gothic soap opera.

My feelings on the updated Dark Shadows are divided. There are some genuinely funny moments in the trailer (Reveal thyself, tiny songstress), but there are also some really lame ones (Collins brushing his fangs in front of a mirror, although he can only see the toothbrush in the reflection). Burton revels in all things 70’s with this period piece. I haven’t decided yet if that’s good or bad.

I’m fairly certain that part of my initial distaste for the preview is the shock at discovering this is a comedy. I had no clue… and that’s saying a lot since I provide entertainment news for a movie site. Even the trailer starts off with a misleading atmosphere. We see Barnabas Collins head-over-heels in love (or maybe it’s simply lust) with a certain woman, and we see a spurned witch curse Collins to an eternity as a vampire locked within his coffin. Then we flash to the 70’s and see the coffin dug up as a ghostly apparition appears in Collinwood Manor and warns, “He’s coming.” After that, Dark Shadows seems to have more in common with The Addams Family than with its own TV namesake.

Personally, I think horror and comedy work excellently together when handled well. I loved Zombieland at the theater, and Jesse Petersen’s Married with Zombies put a a great spin on the zombie apocalypse, with plenty of tense, dark moments to balance out the laughs. Still, I’m not sure about this one. Dark Shadows was up towards the top of my ‘must-watch list, with only The Hobbit and The Avengers above it. Now, it’s looking more like a DVD for a rainy weekend.

What do you think about the trailer? Was it what you were expecting?

The secret to Twitter: It’s all about being real

Scary TwitterThat little blue bird has been around for a while (okay, not that blue bird) but Twitter is still a mystery to many people, and I believe part of the problem lies with making things harder than they need to be. I am by no means a Twitter expert but that’s okay because you probably don’t want to be followed by Twitter experts. Why not? Because Twitter experts game the system. They look at numbers and statistics and SEO. They concentrate on their Tweet vs. Retweet ratio. Are those the people you want to follow?

What’s sad is that I used to try to be one of those people. I wanted a perfect little image on Twitter, always agonizing over what the right to say was . Then, one day, during an especially stressful morning when I didn’t care about being perfect, I tweeted something like, ‘Well, great way to start the day. Cat just yakked in the living room.’ That’s probably not my exact tweet but it was really close. That one little tweet got tons of retweets and was even favorited a few times. However, at that moment I decided retweets and favorites weren’t the major goal. Don’t get me wrong. Being marked as a favorite or having a tweet shared with hundreds or thousands of others is great, but it stopped being important to me because I realized I had been leaving the social out of social media. I learned to kick back and relax on Twitter. My followers increased and I began having more fun on Twitter because I was actually following real people and real people were following me.

scary_twitter_transparentI think being real is a huge part of online communities. For most people on Twitter, you’re just a little avatar, a brief bio, and 140-character messages. It’s up to you to shatter that boundary and show people the real you.

One thing that also helps is thinking about what you like and don’t like. Are you a writer with a new book coming out? Do you like to have people tweet you with ‘BUY MY  BOOK. ITS TOTALLY AWESOME.” Let’s face it, we’ve all been there. You click over to this person’s profile and all you see are a hundred messages telling people to buy his (or her) book. For all we know, it could be a bot. A simple rule of thumb is don’t do it if you don’t like to have it done to you.

Now, don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying to keep your new book a secret. There’s nothing wrong with letting people know you have a new title every now and then. There’s nothing wrong with it because all your followers are following you because they like you as a person and not just as a tiny little avatar. After all, if you were sitting back and enjoying a coffee and a good friend came over and told you he just wrote a new book and then someone suddenly burst through the door and shouted, “BUY MY NEW BOOK,” before ducking back outside, which one would you consider buying.

zombie TwitterKeep in mind that different strategies work for different people. I follow Redbox on Twitter because they occasionally tweet coupon codes and new titles coming out. I don’t expect to see a tweet from Redbox saying the cat yakked or they just made a cup of coffee because the day started too darned early. It would be cool if they actually did do tweets like that but I don’t expect it. However, I wouldn’t follow an actual person that only had sterile messages like that in their stream.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a writer, a blogger, or just someone who really enjoys reading, being real is what it’s all about. Let people get to know the real you and Twitter will become a fun, vibrant hangout for you… and you might even sell  a few books to your friends along the way.

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