Tuesday, September 27th, 2016
Isn’t she a beauty?
Here’s the cover for the new anthology I’m co-editing with Vonnie Winslow Crist.
Authors included are: Gail Z. Martin, Jody Lynn Nye, Alex Shvartsman, Gregory L. Norris, Steven R. Southard, Jeremy M. Gottwig, A. L. Sirois, Oliver Smith, A. L. Kaplan, Doug C. Souza, Christine Lucas, K. I. Borrowman, Joanna Hoyt, R. S. Pyne and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Today’s guest post is by Pournell Ahb— Well, we don’t know his full name, since he’s a demon. That would give us too much power over him. He first turned up in the Charm City Darkness novel, A Favor for a Fiend, and has been around ever since. Lately, he parlayed himself into an alliance, of sorts, with Assumpta. He’d like to talk to you today about battling depression.
He’s got a lot on his plate. He’s a demon, after all. He’s not looking forward to the afterlife. Just because he is what he is—a demon, have I mentioned that? And because he’s a demon, he’s going to Hell when he dies—there’s no two ways about it. Like many things in life—and death—it’s not an easy thing to get over.
Here’s Pournelle to tell you about it in his own words…
It’s easy to become depressed when you’re damned to Hell—just for being born.
I’m not talking about the kind of sadness you feel when your day just falls to pieces or you don’t have enough cash to buy the latest iPhone.
I’m talking about soul-crushing depression: the kind that plagues your mind All. The. Damned. Time. You can’t think of anything else. You can’t concentrate. You want to curl up in a ball and sleep. Or eat. Or not eat, if that’s your thing.
Suicide haunts me. Tempts me. But it’s the one thing I won’t do: because I’ll wind up in Hell. Literally. And it’s the one place I don’t want to be. I can endure anything to avoid that. As long as I can keep on living, I’m good.
Assumpta helps me. She doesn’t know it, because I could never admit this to her. (Show my emotions to a human? Never.) But she’s got me practicing good will. Her way of getting what she wants from me without selling her soul, but she doesn’t even realize how beneficial it is for me.
Here’s how it works: I give her all the information she needs about what the other demons are planning down in Hell—the stuff I know, anyway—and don’t make her sign a contract ceding her soul to me. I do her this favor, asking nothing in return. I’ve created good will in my good will bank.
Now she owes me.
But the thing is, that’s not what drives me to do it. I don’t care about her owing me. It feels good to help her. (Again, I’d never tell her that. Did I tell her when I healed all her demon-wrought wounds? Lucifer’s balls! The infection alone would have killed her. No—I didn’t tell her. Punched her instead—that felt good. Healing punch. She never knew what hit her. She’s smart though—figured it out—but never throws it up in my face.)
When she finds something that will help me, whether it’s a secret or a demonic artifact gone missing—or something like that—she’ll call me. (Yeah, I gave her a calling card with my true name on it. It burns up in her hand after she reads it, and I come running—sometimes with blood all over my hands—but I’m there.) She tells me what she knows, or hands over the piece.
Scales are balanced.
Gives me a purpose. Options.
Keeps me out of Hell.
About the campaign:
#HoldOntoTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOntoTheLight, find a list of participating authors, or reach a media contact, go to https://www.facebook.com/groups/276745236033627
Tuesday, September 13th, 2016
Photo by Bruce Andersen
Since I’m asked fairly regularly about the places featured in my Charm City Darkness novels, I’ve decided to share some of my research. (Yes, I do research, even in my own backyard.) When you grow up around local landmarks, you tend to pick up the basics via osmosis. But to talk intelligently in books, I find it’s best to get my facts straight…)
This is the first of a series of posts about Baltimore landmarks and locations.
The Phoenix Shot Tower
I grew up knowing the tower simply as the old Baltimore shot tower. It’s a red brick tower, 234 feet tall located in East Baltimore, nearby to Little Italy and Jonestown. It was the tallest structure in the United States when it was completed in 1828. The cornerstone was laid by Charles Carroll of Carrollton, the last surviving signer of the Declaration of Independence.
The tower was used to manufacture both drop shot—for use in pistols and rifles—and moulded shot for cannons. Molten lead was poured through a sieve at the top of the tower into a vat of cold water at the bottom of the tower to produce the drop shot. After it hardened, it was dried, polished and sorted into 25 pound bags. The tower produced 100,000 bags annually, and was capable of doubling that output if necessary. It stayed in production until 1892 when this method of producing shot became obsolete.
It remained the tallest structure in the US until 1846, when Trinity Church was erected in New York on Wall Street. It remained the tallest in Baltimore until 1875, when the spire of the First Presbyterian Church (on West Madison and Park Avenue) was completed. Still, from the top, the view of the city—and beyond—is unobstructed.
The tower is one of four that used to stand in Baltimore, and was very nearly destroyed in 1924 by the Union Oil Company. They’d purchased the land, and wanted to erect a gas station. City residents objected and raised enough money to buy back the land and present it to the City of Baltimore. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1971.
The tower is open limited hours on the weekends, though visitors haven’t been able to go to the top since about 1997, due to the safety of the staircase. This is soon to change, however! The city has designated $240,000 to fix the staircase, and estimates visitors will once again be able to walk to the top (all 305 steps) as early as mid-2017.
Although the tower is one of my favorite places in Baltimore, it’s not a prominent location in the Charm City Darkness novels. But the tower is the main location in one of my Charm City Darkness short stories—called Giving a Hand—in which Assumpta helps the tower’s resident ghost. Giving a Hand has been published in the Hides the Dark Tower Anthology, and will be available as a single later this year.
Sunday, September 11th, 2016
Thursday, July 21st, 2016
My schedule for the remainder of the year is beginning to firm up, but still includes a few tentative items. If you’d like to schedule me, please contact me as soon as possible. Thanks!
- CapClave – Tentative
October 7-9, 2016
Gaithersburg, MD, MD
- Hallowread – Confirmed
October 21-23, 2016
Havre de Grace, MD
- ChessieCon– Confirmed
November 25-27, 2016
- Carroll County Author’s Day– Tentative
November 5, 2016
- Bel Air Authors and Artists– Confirmed
December 3, 2016
Bel Air, MD
Wednesday, May 25th, 2016
I hope I’ll be seeing you at Balticon this weekend!
I drew the short stick when it comes to panels, but I’ll be at several events over the weekend:
Saturday – 2:00 PM Autographing!
The Gimungous Autograph Session
Signing my name, along with: Diana Bastine, Walt Boyes, Alessia Brio, Val Griswold-Ford, Tom Doyle, Scott Edelman, Phil Giunta, Kelly Harmon, Starla Huchton, Mur Lafferty, Grig Larson, Chris Lester, Gail Z. Martin, Mark MacDicken, Christine Norris, Ada Palmer, TJ Perkins, Jennifer R. Povey, Izolda Trakhtenberg, Linda Swann, Lawrence Watt-Evans, S. L. Wideman, Robyn Wyrick (Room: Kent)
Saturday – 5:00 PM – Reading!
Readings with Paul Ellis, Kelly A. Harmon, Emily Leverett, Izolda Trakhtenberg (Room: Parlor 8029)
Sunday – 3:30 PM – More Reading!
Readings with: Broad Universe Members: Randdee Dawn (M), Gail Z. Martin, Jean Marie Ward, Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Kelly A. Harmon, Jody Lynn Nye, Vonnie Winslow Crist (Room: Pride of Baltimore)
Sunday – 3:30 PM – Party!
Gaslight and Grimm Launch Party!
If you do nothing else this weekend, join us at this launch party! There will be AWESOME food, entertainment, readings, a lottery and more! (Room: MD Salon B)
When I’m not autographing or reading, I’ll probably be in the Dealer’s Room at the Broad Universe Table. Please stop by and say hello!
Sunday, May 1st, 2016
Here’s the cover! Guess what that means?
Friday, April 15th, 2016
According to the artist who took this photo, (Nikos Koravos | @Dreamstime):
“A lot of deserted houses can be found in the island of Kythera, Greece, most of them in a very bad condition.”
In Washington, DC in a really bad snow storm, people have been known to abandon their cars on the Beltway and just walk away from them.
Similarly to the people of Greece, I’d guess, are the accounts I’ve seen (in the news) of people—who are so ‘upside down’ on their mortgages—they simply walk away from their homes without telling anyone.
I’ve always wondered how bad a situation has to be before it’s better to walk away than fix things.
Here’s Your Prompt:
- Write about someone who walks away from something– a house, a car, a marriage, a job, a pet, a family. What are the reasons for doing so? What happens to everyone involved?
- You (or a character in your WIP) come across a deserted house. What do you find there?
- Similarly, it’s a late summer evening and you decide to go for a ride. Top down, or windows open—music blaring—you take to the road. Without realizing how you did it, it’s later than you think, and darker than it should have been, and you find yourself on a deserted stretch of road. You run out of gas. What happens?
- No discussion of deserted is complete without thinking about a deserted island. Here’s the twist: you knew it was deserted, that was the whole reason for you packing up and moving there. (Hey, peace and solitude to write that Great American Novel!) But now you realize, it’s not deserted. And whatever is there, won’t rest until it gets you.
- Do you journal? Or, are you writing stories for family history? Write about the time you were deserted, or you deserted someone. For example, did you ever forget to pick your child at school? (Or were you the one forgotten?) Did you ever bail on a family gathering? Did anyone ever storm out after an argument?
Wednesday, April 6th, 2016
I’ll be at the Horse You Came In On this Friday with a bunch of other authors from Hallowread. There will be door prizes and swag giveaways, and of course, we’ll have books for sale. The “Buy a Book, Get a Beer” program will be up and running.
Time: 4 – 8 pm
Place: 1626 Thames Street, Fells Point, Baltimore
More info at the Horse You Came In On Web site.
Friday, March 18th, 2016
There are a ja-billion™ ways to say hello—and its equivalent—in a ja-billion™ different languages.
Greetings are a mixed bag. Formal situations call for formal greetings. (How do you do?) Early morning salutations differ between chipper folks (Good Morning!) and those who need a few more cups of coffee (unintelligible grunt). Greetings between good friends ride the scale between none at all, and hopping right into conversation (Did you see what Jenny was wearing last night? I wouldn’t be caught dead in that!) to downright insulting. (You look like shit. What happened to you?)
Here’s Your Prompt:
- Write a short story which begins with a single word of dialogue: “Hello.” The greeting can be in any language. What happens?
- Write a poem about greetings, salutations or beginnings.
- We have certain expectations for greetings. What if you were greeted differently than expected? For example, your coach shook your hand, but your pastor slapped your butt? Write what might happen if this happened to you.
- If you journal, write about a time when someone greeted you in an unusual way. What happened?