Friday, January 28, 2011

The Lexington event, and a Road Trip Next Week...

I am a few days behind on posting, mainly because this week has been absolutely swamped.

Of course, I've been working hard on the third book of the Rising Dawn Saga! I have been having a great deal of fun with the threads, and there are going to be some real eye-openers in the third book that I don't think anyone who has read the first two will expect.

I also have been getting prepared for the first major road jaunt of the year, which occurs next week when I head out for a swing through Memphis, Clarksville (Arkansas), and Nashville. All three cities will have book events, with the Clarksville one being a special 2 day university event at the Ozarks campus of the University of Arkansas. Memphis will have a major test screening of Swordbearer, and the Clarksville event will also have a test showing. At present we are hoping to find a way to show the movie in Nashville.

Last week was the latest hometown event, which are always very special to me. It was held at the incredible Joseph-Beth of Lexington, a venue that just can't be beat. We had a very full night of activity, ranging from a presentation that included an introduction by my sister Courtney, a Q and A period, lots of giveaways, a signing, AND an afterparty at the restaurant next door (as well as the unveiling of a Swordbearer teaser trailer, but more on that next week)

Despite snow and dicey weather, we had a full crowd. According to Joseph-Beth, this was my best night of the 4 I have had there in the past couple of years for the novel releases. This happened despite the fact that many people I know very well came down with illness (including my editor of Dream of Legends, Karen Leet), or had road travel problems.

The energy was fantastic, as I gave a presentation focusing on what draws me to epic fantasy, and some facts on the new book. Prizes included several from Blackwyrm Publishing in Louisville, who were hardy enough to make the drive from there and attend, a couple copies of Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall, a Limited Edition hardcover of Dream of Legends, several t-shirts and poster arts from the new book and other titles.

I saw some folks that I met for the first time at the Kentucky Book Fair back in November, and even met some people that had come in from North Carolina, who each bought all FOUR of the books I have out. I was blown away by that, I have to say. Definitely a first for me to have someone come that far for one of my signings, and then load up on all the books like that! It was great to talk to everyone, and I probably made the line move slowly with my chatting, as I tend to do as I really enjoy seeing each person that is willing to make the effort to come out and support one of my events.

I had Matt Perry sit with me during the signing so that people were able to get artwork signed, as well as the exclusive print that we issue for the Lexington signings. This one was a colorized print of the Andamooran Warrior illustration from Dream of Legends, and the feedback was great on it. I was also happy to hear the outpouring of compliments directed to Matt on his artwork, as he does not get a chance to hear all the praise I have heard at conventions regarding his art. It was nice that he got to hear, first hand, how much people like his artwork.

As if all of the above was not enough, we also unveiled the teaser trailer for Swordbearer. Thankfully, it also went over really well, and I had many people come up to me who were incredibly happy with it, including some of the cast/crew members.

Things are definitely hopping! Swordbearer is coming together really nicely, with final color corrections and CGI pieces being inserted for the test screening cut.

My duties are also hopping for the Writing Track at Duckon and the Literary Programming at Fandom Fest, as both programming grids, near-final guest lists, and all that good stuff come together (which needs to be in place months before the events actually occur).

Writing, movies, conventions, travel...times are busy, but that's how I like it! Hope to see all my Tennesee friends next week!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Fandom Fest lands John Carpenter, and a few other cool updates!

It has been a busy week, as I've been immersed in work on the 3rd Rising Dawn Saga Book, working on the broadcast team for the January Thoroughbred auctions at Keeneland, and continuing with the million and one activities involved in the efforts to raise awareness of Seventh Star Press titles, not just mine but also Steven L. Shrewsbury's new book Thrall. And... Fandom Fest landed John Carpenter...but more on that later.

Dream of Legends has been arriving with reviewers, and the first major Dream of Legends event looms on Friday, January 21st, at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington at 7pm. I am looking forward very much to next Friday, as we will have a full night of fun and activities for everyone coming out to visit and celebrate the new book release. New exclusive print, door prizes, possibly some Swordbearer footage, an after-party at a restaurant next door, and more. Definitely going to be a full night.

As far as Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall goes, we got some very welcome news in that he got not just one, or two, but three excellent reviews, the very first three to be published in fact. I have a TON of faith in Steven and his writing, so I'm not surprised, but it is really good to see the reception that this book is getting. The folks that got limited edition packages have been sending in a torrent of extremely positive feedback on the contents of the packages (as others have for Dream of Legends), which is really cool as I know how hard it is, and how much sacrifice has been involved, to bring out these kinds of premium packages for prices that are a fraction of what's charged for other offerings that don't include the wide array of content that these do.

I've gotten up a couple of nice new author spotlights on the SSP blog too, such as one with David J. Guyton, another with Scott Sandridge, and a third one looming with steampunk star Nick Valentino. Some very cool visits with some interesting insights on the state of the publishing world today.

Things are moving full steam on Swordbearer. We are planning to do test screenings the first week of February in Memphis and Arkansas, with screenings later that month in Chattanooga and Roanoke (ConNooga and Mysticon, respectively).

I will definitely be keeping everyone posted on that for sure.

Fandom Fest landed a MAJOR guest this week, when it was announced on DragonTalk Radio that film legend John Carpenter is confirmed for the July event in Louisville. This follows the recent announcement of Henry Winkler's attendance, so the event is certainly rocketing out of the gate in 2011. I have been making great progress with the Literary Track, and we are at a little over than 60 participating panelists on what is going to be an extensive, very multi-faceted track! Be sure to visit and get ready for an incredible summer convention event.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Pic of the 2010 Pluto Award

I was asked by the kind folks behind the Pluto Award to take a pic with the award. I complied, of course, and thanks to my sister, who has a good eye for pics, I ended up with one that I could live with! lol

Anyhow, here's a pic of me with the 2010 Pluto Award!

Things have hit the ground running already in 2011. Progress is being made daily on the post-production of Swordbearer, great progress is being made on the 3rd RDS book, progress is being made on the 2 Cons that I'm doing programming for (FandomFest and Duckon), and much more. I'm getting good at keeping lists, needless to say!

Have some cool new blogs coming up at the Seventh Star Press Blogspot, where I do periodic reviews, interviews, etc. of other authors and publishers. The last two were with Dave Mattingly of Blackwyrm Publishing and the unrivaled Elizabeth Donald, author extraordinaire, though this post largely focused on her visionary Literary Underworld project. Upcoming authors include Dave Guyton, a very cool guy who has an incredible book trailer that has almost 50,000 hits for one of his novels, Scott Sandridge, who may hold the record for number of panels participated on at a Con, and Nick Valentino, a rising star in the world of steampunk.

Stay tuned for some cool announcements from SSP too, involving a new anthology, a novel release on the horizon from Jackie Gamber, AND a whole new wing of SSP involving eBooks... ;)

I am also going to do a blogpost shortly regarding ways that readers can help raise awareness for authors that they like...not just my readers, but for readers of any author in general, as I do get questions about things like that from time to time and have some insights on that.

Monday, January 3, 2011

From 2010 to 2011, a Look Behind and a Look Ahead.

2011 is looming as a very busy year, but it would not be in this position were it not for all of the things that occurred over the course of 2010.

In general, 2010 saw the release of both The Storm Guardians and Dream of Legends,adding a new title to my 2 different series. This also saw Karen Leet coming aboard as my editor on the Fires in Eden series, while Amanda DeBord continued to handle The Rising Dawn Saga. The year also saw my first foray into steampunk with "In the Mountain Skies", my short story in the Dreams of Steam anthology from Kerlak publications that came out later in the summer.

Things were not quiet on the film front either, as I finally returned to directing with Swordbearer, a medieval fantasy short film that is based on a segment of H. David Blalock's novel Ascendant. The production on that was complete and post-production was fully underway by the end of the year. It was a very good experience, and I was thrilled working with DP Aaron Champion, my first AD Nathan Day, and Cineline's dynamic duo, Matt and Sven, once again (as they say, "The Sven is Mightier Than the Sword" lol)

The year also saw a great deal of travel. I got to go visit in person with my reader friends in a range of bookstores and conventions, including Hypericon (Nashville), Marcon (Columbus), InConJunction (Indianapolis), Fright Night Film Fest (Louisville, the con that now includes FandomFest),ConNooga (Chattanooga),Millenicon (Cincinnati), MidSouthCon (Memphis), ConText (also in Columbus), The Kentucky Book Fair (Frankfort), Dark Woods Con (Pikeville), Duckon (Chicago), Archon (St. Louis), and ScareFest (Lexington).

Regretfully, I missed DemiCon due to one of my mother's 3 stints in the hospital during the past year, but I am slated to go back this spring, and the folks there were really understanding about the situation with my mother's health emergency.

I also got to make some educational visits, with talks to groups as Dunbar High School and the Bowling Green Technical College. I love visiting with students, and these experiences were definite highlights of mine for the year.

The bookstore visits throughout 2010 were wonderful, with a nice mix of independents and several Borders stores. I really appreciate Borders' openness to small press authors, as I was treated very well at the Borders stores in Louisville, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Indianapolis. I was very saddened that one store, Davis-Kidd in Nashville, had to close, as my visit there in February of 2010 to Nashville was a wonderful experience. Similarly, the Sherlock's Book Emporium in Lebanon TN closed in 2010, though another location is open in downtown Nashville now. Fortunately, both Davis-Kidd in Memphis, and my hometown store, Joseph-Beth in Lexington, are continuing forth strongly. Both places were amazing to visit on my travels in 2010, with two incredible turnouts at Joseph-Beth and one of my best attended on the road events at Memphis' Davis-Kidd.

There were many pleasant stops at indie book stores, like Beaverdale Books in Des Moines and Empire Books in Huntington, WV, My last signing event of the year took place at That Book Place, one of the components of Frank Hall's burgeoning publishing and book selling empire in Madison IN. Frank is one of the true good guys of the business, and he takes care of many cats in addition to small press authors, so I am rooting him onward to victory!

The year also saw two very special authors come aboard SSP: Steven Shrewsbury and Jackie Gamber. Steven's book Thrall was released towards the end of the year and promises to be a really successful book for Steven in 2011. Jackie's Leland Dragon Series is going to be released through SSP, with the re-release of the fantastic Redheart in the first half of 2011 and the followup book later in the year. I can't wait to do some events with them, and it is great to all be in the SSP family together.

I took on two programming tracks for two Cons, becoming the head of the Writer's Track for Duckon in Chicago and the Author/Publishing Track at FandomFest (which includes Fright Night Film Fest) in Louisville. These tasks will ratchet up even more in 2011, but I was able to get a lot of ground work in place in 2010.

Best of all were all the new friends, including reader-friends, that became part of my life over the course of the past year. There are many individuals that I am so glad I've met, from other authors, to new reader-friends, to store owners, film crew members and actors/actresses, and others. Meeting new friends is really one of the best, if not the best, aspects about what I do.

The year definitey ended on a high note, with Crown of Vengeance winning the 2010 Pluto Award for best novel (small press). We got the notice just days before Dream of Legends became available. The timing was pretty darn good!

In all, it was a year that saw a lot of strides and progress. As with all things, there were ups and downs, but the overriding direction of it all was definitely positive. Lots and lots of Monster Energy Drinks were also consumed!

I'm very excited about 2011. We will be aiming to have the 3rd Rising Dawn Saga book out in Mid-Summer, with the 3rd Fires in Eden Book at the end of the year. Expect some new announcements in the realm of short stories, both from within Seventh Star Press and outside of it (and expect to see more of my steampunk friends, Harvey and Solomon...).

Swordbearer will be screened in the early part of the year, beginning a schedule that will continue throughout the year at Cons, festivals, and other screening venues. There are not that many indie fantasy films done, so I am hopefuly that we will see a lot of enthusiasm out there for this project. I hope it brings attention to many talented individuals who worked very hard to raise the production value of this project to a high level.

The Cineline guys acquired not just one, but two RedCams for their operation, so I have a suspicion that I will be involved with them on some production projects this year.

I am hoping to make some progress on a Viking-age feature that I have hinted at from time to time, involving a screenplay I have written. I think it is a hard-hitting dark fantasy piece that hits an area of filmmaking that has been in very, very short supply over the past several years.

Be sure to keep an eye here and on my site, as there is a great deal of activity and adventure looming. To everyone who helped me, supported me, or encouraged me in 2010, I extend a heartfelt thanks, and assure you that I am laser-focused this year and rarin' to put in an immense amount of hard work to see how far we might be able to get during the next several months!

Time to stock up on Monster Energy Drinks!