Sketch: Reynard

Reynard - Line of DescentHere’s a sketch of one of my favorite characters from LINE OF DESCENT, Marquis Reynard LeFevre. He’s a mysterious and dangerous enemy of the Gardeners’ Parisian ancestors. He’s both a practitioner of Hinduism and a forefather of the Mesmerist movement. Oh yeah—and he likes to host masquerade parties in underground crypts!

One of his quotes:

“Think about the world the way it is now. Each generation mourns for the golden years of their youth. Each generation weeps that times have never been so bad. Then their children grow old and wail that things have become even more unbearable. Their golden years are the previous generation’s worst days.”

I just read: Ash

ash_jason-brantSince I have just finished a paranormal thriller about a telepath (OK, she’s an empath, but let’s not parse details!), This month I was craving a similar genre-novel featuring a protagonist with ESP. They seem to be surprisingly hard to find, at least for what I’m looking for. What I didn’t want was another ‘Medium’ clone: psychic as a super-powered CSI. I wanted something that was more like Marcus Sakey’s BRILLIANCE or Daniel O’Malley’s THE ROOK, which I really enjoyed.

Jason Brant’s ASH scratched that itch. It’s the story of an Irag War veteran, Ash Benson, who sustains a brain injury that unlocks his telepathic potential. The book opens with a harrowing battle scene, in which Ash is injured, and in many ways, this scene was the highlight of the book to me. Very suspenseful—even though, based on the blurb, you kinda know where the action is headed.

Several years later, Ash is back stateside, living as a semi-vagrant. Since the day his brain was traumatically altered, he can’t stop hearing the thoughts of everyone around him. Not unless he drinks. Ash just wants to be left alone, but events pull him into a bloody conspiracy that suddenly explodes, threatening the lives of hundreds including the President of the United States. These lives are being threatened by another psychically powered former-soldier whose abilities are stronger and more varied than Ash’s. Luckily, the author fills the book with colorful and capable characters who are ready to lend Ash a hand.

But none of the characters are as memorable as Ash himself. To me, he seems like a unique protagonist in the paranormal genre. He’s a BIG man, a former Marine, a gym rat, and a bit of a slob, who can’t ever seem to find time to shower. Think Professor X, if he walked, drank Creatine, wore Family Guy shirts, and dabbled in Mixed-Martial Arts. Before the book ends, Ash has found his weapon of choice, the Desert Eagle, which is this decade’s version of Dirty Harry’s .44 Magnum.

That weapon—and Jason Brant’s hero—fits the plot, which is heavy on action. It’s part Carrie, part Call of Duty. If that sounds like a fun time to you, I suggest you check out the Ash series!

The State of My Writing: Editable

sled_231740350Editing, editing, editing. You might not be able to glean this fact from my blog posts, but man I love editing! For me, the last round of editing is like a downhill sled-ride—whereas a novel’s first draft is a Sisyphean trudge—the hauling of an unwieldy and volatile load across a snowy blank screen.

With editing, the hard part is done. (Damn you, creativity!) Now it’s time to pare down words, to search out and eradicate redundancies and extraneous phrases—to burnish each chapter into a lustrous, aerodynamic shape. That’s what I’ve been doing this month with LINE OF DESCENT.

And during this process, I’ve stumbled upon a good trick that’s been helping me immensely. I emailed a Word Doc of my book to my Kindle Fire using the subject line “convert” and listened to it through the Fire’s Text-to-Speech feature. I’ve heard that your eye can’t be trusted to find typos in your own work. I’ve seen this (or not seen it) to be true. But your ear is a lot harder to fool. Lately I’ve been plugging my earbuds into my Kindle Fire and listening for mistakes while doing chores. So how’s that for finding extra time to work on my book? Of course, this trick won’t help you much with punctuation issues, but it will surely help you double-check for tinny or repetitive prose. And if your book sounds good while being read by the Kindle’s robot narrator (and divorced from your own inner voice) then there’s a good chance it will engage and attract readers.

Now a couple more beta-reader and editing comments to gather, and it will be time to get this show on the road. I know the initial launch on Amazon is likely to be underwhelming (possibly downright depressing), but so far I’m really enjoying the ride!

Don’t You Roll Your Eyes at Me!

I’m currently querying for my paranormal novel, TURNING, (up to eight rejections so far!) and I started working on a promo image for the book. Here it is. I kind of like it.

Promo image for TURNING. My paranormal novel about reincarnation through possession.

Promo image for TURNING. My paranormal novel about reincarnation through possession.

Overall, the image reminds me of Junji Ito. Which in and of itself is a good thing; except that I’d prefer to think of TURNING as ‘paranormal’ and not ‘horror.’ And Junji Ito is very much ‘horror.’

It took a while browsing through stock photos to find a pair of eyes that worked as a pair once I flipped the left eye upside-down. I’m a little worried that the image looks more grotesque than eerie (eerie is what I was going for). But hopefully the spiral of text helps to convey the idea of   ‘juxtaposition’ as opposed to disfigurement! The text is part of an occult scripture in the book, so it was nice to get to use it here. I think the rough canvas background also helps to convey the idea of something ancient and possibly a little bit sinister. I picked the sea foam color because the story takes place on the coast, and I think it helps keep the image inviting.

Finally, there’s the Gotham font for the title. Gotham the official font of the Obama campaign and of most of Coke’s marketing. If you’ve seen a san-serif font on a print ad in the last six years, there’s a 50% chance it was Gotham. But there’s a reason Gotham’s so popular: it’s a damn good font, both for text and for headlines. I think it gives a clean, calm, inviting feel—as opposed to a font called Splatterpunk or the like. Also, it needed to have a nearly round ‘G’ for the rotated letter at the end. But maybe Futura would have been a little less cliched.

Please let me know what you think! And check out more info on the TURNING page. And read a Junji Ito book if you’re into comics!