Sunday, January 31, 2010

Shaman Circus released!

I recevied word from my publisher on January 29, 2010 that Shaman Circus has now been released.  You can read more about it at the ATTM Press website.  I'm very excited!  Due to being iced in here in south Carolina, I haven't had a chance to  celebrate this yet. It's  been a hectic weekend with family birthdays, new job, lots of sledding, cookies and cocoa.  There's an ice storm in the book, so I guess this is appropriate.  

Now there's much work to do and fun things to  plan. I'm building my schedule with plans to attend the World Horror Con in May 2011.
 The World Fantasy Con is under consideration, but since its backed up to two nearby cons, I'm not sure. The SCWW Conference in South Carolina and Dragon Con in Atlanta,GA are within 2-4 hours drive.

About Shaman Circus:
In New Orleans following Katrina all bets are off; all masks dissolved. "Don't forget the sham in shaman," Jacob Laguerre lies to his new apprentice, Alex Hampton. When Alex, a twenty-eight year-old anthropology professor goes on field-study to post-Katrina New Orleans, he enters a chaotic and altered landscape where he's psychologically, physically and spiritually challenged by the sarcastic mentoring of the mulatto, Laguerre, a current day voudou shaman.

Both Laquerre's and Alex's psyches struggle through stages of transition and rebirth as their lives are enmeshed with a group of quirky fringe-dwellers, as colorful and eccentric as New Orleans itself. Lily Hampton, a sculptor, torn between her love for both men; Mavis, an artist who spent nights in her attic, but survived the floods; Perry Laguerre, Jacob's hermaphroditic twin, and Bad Jacqui, lesbian owner of a French Quarter bar: are pulled together to form the cynical but ultimately idealistic team who vow to stay in post-Katrina New Orleans.
They all follow a taut path between madness and redemption in the no man's land of Refrigerator Town as they assist in the aftermath and healing of both the city and those who remain.

I'll start planning some regional readings and book signings as well, at various venues: bookstores, art galleries, coffee shops.  I'm pretty bummed out that The Open Book, one of our longest running locally owned book stores will be closing. The Open Book supported indie small presses, local authors and sponsored SCWW writer's meetings.They often hosted frequent signings, and served the book lovers of Greenville for over 40 years. It's a cruel blow to our community to lose another local bookstore where we knew the owners by name. The Open Book now joins another favorite bookstore, Bentley's, in closing its doors. Sad tidings for sure.  Many of book lovers in Greenville are grieving. That leaves only three locally owned bookstores in  Greenville and those aren't quite the same as The Open Book. 

But on a brighter note, I've been overhwelmed with the support and community of the ATTM Press and its authors.We have a very active online group and the consistent efforts of Phill Harris at ATTM to support authors as their books go to market.  I've met a wide range of authors online through the press who offer tips and ideas it would take me many months to research. What a serendipitous gift I never expected when I first found ATTM and knew they were the right home for Shaman Circus. I was fortunate enough they thought so too.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Conundrums of releasing a novel

Many authors have said releasing a novel is like giving birth, with both pain and excitement. However, I believe it's even more, it's like giving birth, sending your child off to kindergarten and shipping your child off to college all at the same time. At the same time the novel is given birth it's cast out into the wide world, to stand alone on its own merit.

A frightening thing. I couldn't quite understand why I've been in a funk for the past few days. It felt familiar but not recently so. And then I recalled the feeling. I've had it before. It occured each time I released an issue of my goth literay mag, The Howling, It did get easier over the 7 years and 15 issues of the mag; went from a miasma of two weeks to a recognized down time for two days. For lots of different reasons: the project is finished, the soulmade project is out in the world to be judged, and the new project hasn't yet taken hold.
Since Shaman Circus went to the printers, I've fiddled with various projects and ideas, from whether to edit the second Shaman novel or to focus on my third novel, Fireworks, etc. I've written and edited a few stories, started a few more, submitted a batch but still this haunting feeling of being out of place lingers.
I may not suss out all the reasons for a while. It's not really white page syndrome or writer's block, it's more like I'm in a holding pattern, holding my breath, waiting to see what happens and until it does, not sure what next step to take or what to do. It's an eerie, disturbing psychological limbo. On one hand, inside I'm jumping up and down with joy to see my first novel published, but on the other, there's fear and a sense that what if I can't ever finalize another?
I don't know if other writers have experienced this. As the contemporary Thomas Moore recommends in his Care of the Soul series, its better to go into the dark places and see what secrets they have to tell you, than to deny they're there. Maybe this is postpartum depression and separation anxiety all at the same time. I don't know.
These days I teeter on a tightrope of words. Below me the carnival explodes in glorious color, freaks and frenzy, jangly music and garish trellises of light. The words want to run away with the carnies. I must grasp these scattering syllables with my toes or herd them to my aid, for without them I'll fall.

Perhaps to cheer myself up and not feel so isolated, I'll collect quotes from other writers on what its like to see a first novel published.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Value of Writers' Groups

I urge every writer out there to seek out a group you can work with. Over the years, I've been in several groups, and went to the first meetings of many more. Only two have worked out, My Hatchet writing group in the late 80's which eventually becamse the South Carolina Writer's Workshop, (SCWW) the most established statewide writers organization, where I learned to develop a thick skin, and the Reedy River Rats. All the other groups were not good fits due to their approach, level of dedication or style of writing. You have to fit, you have to all have the same values, even though you don't have to write in the same genres or styles or write poetry, prose or nonfiction.

Over the years, the Rats has worked with all three including some odd offshoots such as comics and gaming.
And we all agree how the melding has been something intangible, alchemical, and transformative, both in our writing and in our daily lives. We've become friends, cxonfidants, cheerleaders and editors for each other, but most importantly we all agree on what a writer's life understands. Something, many other people in our lives don't relaly comprehend.
The Rats has met now, in various incarnations since 2003. That's a long time. Many years we met every week and while some years it was off and on, we were always able to pick right back up and get to work. Each time a members has moved away, there were tough adjustments, as each member brought their own style of fascinating writing to the table, as well as their unique perspectives on writing, whether it be on the concepts, storylines, plots, characters, grammar or technical issues. I've learned so much from each person who has been a member and was sad when each person left, some of them moving away. I've especially missed: Wendy Swearingen, Chris Patrick, Shaggy Randal, Avery Moore. Throughout this life-changing meeting of the minds with these talented people, I became a better writer, editor and publisher. Mostly because we all learned to be honest and frank with our critiques, forthcoming with suggestions to back up the critiques, support when we couldn't write, enthusiasm when things went well and an open minded genuine interest in each other's work, progress and success.

Now we're down to Brian K. Ladd and B. Miller, both published authors in the horror, steampunk and literary fields.  We meet at Coffee Underground in the Red Room weekly and hash out novels, short stories, poetry.  We compare notes, share markets, go on literary field trips to readings, book fairs, workshops, and are now planning what conferences and cons we'll attend over the next couple of years.  B Miller is a specilaist in grammar, continuity,  action, crime and police stuff.  Brian handles history, philosophy, continuity, languages, research and character. Both of them are great with character development.  I guess my forte is plot, psychological aspects and motivations of character, some grammar and the publishing industry, markets, trends, agents small presses. 
The feedback we get can operate in many ways, encouragement as we're in the process, editing as we near the end of a chapter or short story, market suggestions and acknowledgement of when a piece is ready to submit.  Sometimes, the meetings take odd turns, the feedback is a surprise and sends our work reeling off into other directions, into novels or into realms we would never have attemped on out own.  From our most recent meeting I was confused as to what direction my story, "The Orchid Collector" was taking and the feedback was unanimous to take it out of the high fantasy realm and to put it back in the realm of steampunk erotica/dark fantasy since I'd already written another story Marquette de Fleur, which features one of the characters. So I played some steam wave music by Vernian Process and I'm on my way.
Don't underestimate the power of writers' groups.  If you're not in one now, try and locate one.  If it's a good match you will be amazed at how much your work improves.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Ritual - A Story for Haiti Donations

I have been devastated by what I've seen in the aftermath of the earthquakes in Haiti, especially when I see the suffering of children my grandaughter's age.  When I saw the post on Twitter for a call for stories to benefiti Haiti from Crossed Genres online magazine, I knew I had to participate. Below is The Ritual, Chapter Two, of my soon to be released novel, Shaman Circus. It is a chapter of fear and the hope of rebirth, the interconnection of all humanity, no matter how varied our backgrounds and cultures.This chapter has never been published anywhere else.
Shaman Circus is a book about a group of fringe people who take an unusual route to aid in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans.

If you like this or any other of the works authors have posted on Crossed Genres, please click on one of the Crossed Genres links to donate to one of the charities (Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders, Rainbow World Fund) you think most worthwhile at the Crossed Genres website. If you can't make a decision on a charity I would suggest Doctors Without Borders, since my daughter's in the nursing field.

The Ritual

When they took the blindfolds off, Alex Hampton saw the sun had already set. A full moon illuminated a narrow dirt road bordered by lush plants and low trees jostling each other for head space. A heady mix of fragrances mingled in his nostrils… jasmine, mimosa, chamomile, bringing back memories of summers in South Carolina. But the heat here was more oppressive. Already he was breathing heavier than normal. Rivulets of sweat ran down his back. There was a hush, as if the landscape held one finger to its vibrant lips and whispered… sssshhh. Secrets were harbored in the folds of light and underbelly of vegetation reclaiming its turf. Aromas and sounds fused with humid droplets to kiss the skin as if open-mouthed, taking possession… a gentle reminder: here no one is in total possession of their own psyche.

As an anthropologist, this was not an unknown feeling, but he was still uncomfortable, out of control. “Where’s Lily?” Alex scanned the landscape. As his eyes adjusted to the dark, he saw Laney a few feet ahead, but no one else was within close proximity. Further up, Alex heard voices. He looked for Lily, but even in the moonlight, figures were indistinct.

People walked in twos or threes, speaking quietly. Occasionally he’d catch snatches of conversation spoken in a variety of languages. The content eluded him.

“Where is she?” Alex looked at Laney, surprised how comfortable the tall black professor was in the rural surroundings, as if this was his milieu not the lecture halls back at Whitten University. Already Laney was different from the person he trusted. Alex envied Laney as he emanated a charisma and energy unlike his calm demeanor on campus.

Alex spun around. He’d asked for this opportunity, but now he was afraid. No one back home knew where he and Lily were. Anything could happen here.

“It’s okay.” Laney took hold of Alex’s elbow as if he’d read his mind. “Lily’s with the women. We’re on their turf now. Let’s respect their customs. Relax. You‘ll be reunited soon, but in the meantime there’s much to witness.”

Even though Alex wasn’t convinced, he allowed Laney to lead him down the path until they reached a warehouse. As they waited in a line of people, Alex peered over the heads of those in front of him, but couldn’t see inside the door. Younger black men, impatient, jumped up on a loading dock to avoid the line. The odd mix of the atmosphere was unlike any Alex had encountered, an odd paradox. At times he experienced the same rush he felt standing in the crush of a ticket line for a band who inspired him, that tribal thrill which runs through music fans, makes them antsy and on the verge of loosing control. And at other time Alex felt the odd hush similar to the experience in the entrance of a great cathedral, museum or antiquity…outrageous, unbridled excitement coupled with reverence – the Dionysian versus the Christian, the sacred and profane coursing through a dimly lit crowd.

Once they entered the dark vaulted room, the attendees were assaulted by the thick smell of oil and machinery. He felt himself pushed along by the crowd. It made him even more uneasy, like at a huge arena where one wrong move could erupt into a panic with people being trampled. As the wound downstairs, the air grew close and dry. Not what he’d expect underground. The lighting, even from bare bulbs was so sparse; he held onto the walls to feel for each step.

They descended three levels before reaching a small plateau and he was led into a long narrow room. Huge burlap bags bulging at the seams lined the walls. Odd antiquated machinery guarded the room in rows of tired angry sentinels offset by the aroma of coffee or raw cocoa beans. Medellin, Colombia, Haiti. People sat on stacked burlap bags or the floor. Many stood, while others, mostly younger men, talked with each other and acknowledged those they knew.

A fire flickered in a pit centered in the room, the flames licking and spiraling over tiles emblazoned with cryptic symbols. The mood was charged with anticipation as a crowd watched a young man in a white dress shirt feed the fire. He looked totally out of place in this sultry underground den preparing for a rare and private ceremony and surprised Alex when he spoke in English accent. “If you will all find a place to be comfortable, we will begin in a moment,” the Englishman said as he threw powders on the fire. Bright colors flared leaving hazy spirals of smoke. Alex recoiled as pungent smells filled his nostrils, forcing him to breathe in through his mouth.

He looked around for Lily. He couldn’t see her or see any other women in the room. This was not what he expected; he’d imagined an open field, old mystics and women, not a room full of young men, many of whom could be thugs. Spasms twisted his gut as smells in the room overpowered him: smoke, sweat and whatever commodities were held in the sacks, along with a roasted scent, of meat, of flesh.

A door, previously hidden in a solid stone wall opened and a group of people walked in, conversing as if at a party, some in native costumes. Alex spotted Lily among them, chatting with Laney. Lily didn’t look around or seek out Alex. He felt invisible.

What the hell was going on? His paranoia grew. Was she hypnotized or just pissed he’d brought her here? He looked around, fist-clenching panic constricting his chest. It snaked up his esophagus and gave a vindictive squeeze to his windpipe. He wanted to grab her and bolt. What had happened to him? At one time this was his milieu: odd adventures, new discoveries, access to the secret weird rituals of off- the-wall cultures. Had Lily done this to him? Or had he done it to himself, locking himself up in a classroom, forgetting what it was like in the field? He’d imagined feeling like an addict taken off methadone and tasting heroin again. Instead he was acting like a child afraid to take the first puff on a Camel.

Somewhere off in the dark end of the room drums interrupted his self-doubts. In measured slow steps, a second man entered the circle gathered around the fire. Onlookers stepped aside and allowed a path, as though they knew he who was. He unceremoniously walked over to the fire, paying no heed to the people on either side or those gathered three or four deep around the perimeter., He stood for a long time looking into the flames. Alex disconcerted, looked to Laney for affirmation. The figure at the fire was nothing like what Alex had expected from Laney’s paper and descriptions. The man, acting as if he were alone, ignoring all those who’d traveled here, looked more like a college student in a first year play or a SNL guest doing a bad Halloween take-off. Young, wearing an old beat up top hat along with a long leather coat, the sleeves torn off, symbols, drawings and graffiti drawn all over the coat, flaunted his rebelliousness. Nothing in his dress or demeanor offered the reverence Alex had expected. Long dreads fell rampantly from beneath the hat, a row of knotted cords, matted rope with a life of their own. Around his neck was a string of bones. The wooden stick he carried, festooned with red ribbons and bones, shook in odd jerky motions. At the end, a small voodoo doll danced and jerked from its jute noose. He couldn’t have been more than twenty-five years old. At first it seemed like a joke, like a farce. Alex was disappointed and more afraid than before, sweating from the jostling of people in close quarters. Alex stepped from one foot to the other, looking towards the exit, trying to control an unsettling nervous agitation, especially regarding Lily.

But when the mood of the crowd shifted, swelling, filling the room in a tsunami of anticipation, as it would rush forward and engulf the man if he didn’t act, he replied in chant, long drawn out symbols of unrecognizable words, powerfully expressed, the raw emotion painful to Alex. The crowd let out a communal release of breath, as if they’d been holding it all along, joined as one being, one related organism waiting just for this moment.

In response, a duet between one man and all those gathered. His posture changed. His stature appeared to grow as he unleashed one of the most distinctive voices Alex had ever heard, operatic, racked with emotion, with an odd undertone, like a bruised whisper, as dark brown as a cello’s lowest string vibrating in sympathy.

The whole room quieted. The voice soared over the room, a dark cloud of menace. Catalyst or cataclysm? It was hypnotic, not in the generic metaphoric way, but irresistible and hypnotic, like the first sight of the ocean after a long absence through a gap in the rocks or the novice glimpse of a woman’s naked body. At first, Alex hardly listened to the words but instead was drawn into the cadence of what was part song, part poem, part dirge, part chant. Never had Alex been so moved by a voice. Not at the hundreds of concerts he’d attended. Chris Cornell, not even Goeff Tate could match it.

Alex wondered if it was the acoustics of the underground room. He knew Celtic priests often searched for particular stone structures for their ceremonies. The placement of the dolmen and upright stones naturally amplified the human voice so as to lend it more power.

Alex hadn’t eaten or drunk anything that could have been drugged, yet he had the distinct feeling he was in an altered state, overwhelmed by a split-brain mentality which happens only in highly charged situations, experiencing and observing at the same time.

His editorial mind raced, cataloging every nuance of the event, while his conscious mind, caught up in the trance the shaman’s voice induced, was mesmerized.

Mass hypnosis, he wondered. He’d known he’d experienced it at concerts… at Ministry thanks to their strobe lights, at Metallica, thanks to the energy of the audience. But he didn’t connect with this audience. These were not his people.

Instead, he felt alone, singled out even. He realized he was no longer afraid of what was around him, but of what he would find inside.

Things passed through his mind in flashes of illumination: his fear of change, his possessiveness of Lily, his inability to show his true self to the grimace of the public eye.

The chanting pulled him back to the fire. The man, who looked part voudoo shaman, part rock singer, danced around the fire, shaking the stick. Sometimes he chanted, sometimes he was silent. When he stopped and stared into the flames, his arm falling to his side, the red ribbons of the staff splayed out on the stone floor like rivulets of blood. Those observing sucked in their collective breath, watching the man as he entered a trance, oblivious to anyone else in the room. Waiting. Once again they waited.

At one point, he raised his head, dropped it back until the hat fell off. He released a deep-gutted scream so primitive, so universally despairing the hair on the back of Alex’s neck stood up. Chill bumps broke out on his arms, even in the sweltering heat. The scream went on for longer than it seemed anyone could breathe as it echoed off the walls in a wail exhorting the depths of all human suffering.

Alex felt a scream of his own bubble up in his throat like bile, like a curse. He fought to keep it down. His hands shook with the effort and he let himself drop until he landed on burlap sacks, grateful for the comfort of something solid, tangible beneath his butt and hands. He needed something to hold onto so he wouldn’t be swept away in that scream. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

He saw others in the room were also overcome. Some had even sunk to the floor and sat with their heads bowed. He could not see Lily. How had it affected her? Never in their time together did he need to hold her hand or look into her eyes as much as he did this moment. Was she affected as much as he was?

The scream stopped; the following silence brutal. The shaman, for now Alex truly believed him to be a shaman, shuffled around, turning and twirling, like a dancer of some Native American tribe, humming quietly to himself, a lullaby to soothe a bruised soul, a hymn to quiet a frightened child. As he twirled, the ribbons swept up from the floor and spiraled in the air until they seemed part demonic, flaunting their color, and part ethereal in flight and dance. Aerials. The ribbons performed aerials… and then the voice lifted and floated with them. Not the powerful sonorous voice of the earlier shaman, but now a lilting sing-song voice, light and airy and somehow innocent; as if the scream could exorcise the shadow and a rebirth was taking place.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

back on the submission track (or should that be rack?)

In our writer's group, we constantly discuss the topic of publication in online mags verus print. Granted, we all like to have and to hold a printed copy of a publication in our hands, to gaze at over and over, to show off to each other and to friends and family. As an old schooler and a hoarder of books and magazines, I was once an elitist and preferred submitting only to publications which offered hard copies. As a publisher, I especially like to see how other publishers present their publications. They're all so diffferent.
But I've recently been taught how on the other side of the equation, internet publications have some heavy-weighted aspects in their favor. The accessibility and circulation of online publications can be an incredible asset to authors seeking novel publication or who already have a book published. Online publications of our works can lead to more readers, who become followers and fans. And the quality of online writing now matches most print publications and is considered for many of the awards once reserved for the traditional print magazines.
So now, each time I spend a day or two doing submissions, I submit to both online and print mags, covering all the aspects of the current publishing industry. 
As I'll promote often, Duotrope, is the best online submission tracker resource any writer can have in their desktop tool box. They currently list 2,750 fiction and poetry markets with stats, for both writers and artists, including the areas of comics and gaming. Any writer not utilizing this resource is 40% behind other writers.   
So in 2010 I hope to best my Duotrope 2009 stats for submissions: 70 pieces submitted, both prose and poetry, with 30.26% acceptances. Today after completing, the final touches on Shaman Circus, I'm submitting short stories to various magazines in the magical realism, steampunk, fantasy and erotica realm.  Had a busy real world day yesterday (as many Mobdays usually are) and some heavy days coming ahead regarding my daughter's continuing medical issues, so must grab the reigns of the writing and publishing horse while I can.
I've submitted Red Rocket at Boar's Head, a fantasy/magical realism piece (inspired by a friend who changed my life when I lived near the ocean in New England) to The Absent Willow Review, a gorgeous internet mag with some of the most incredible art, (along with mags like Shimmer and Champagne Shivers). The Absent Willow Review also produces an annual anthology which is lovely. Writing is top notch as well. 
This won't be the first time I've submitted this piece and its garnered its share of rejections.  But I've rewritten it now to be more fantastical and further into the realm of magical realism after watching a Yule gift from my son, the A&E series Neverwhere written by Neil Gaiman with art inserts by Dave McKean. And even though the series was produced low budget and didn't have the amazing surreal effects of Dave McKean's art in Mirror Mask, the story and characters are still compelling.  And the storyline gave me the guts to really stretch it on out there with this new version of Red Rocket instead of playing it safe.
And then I braved it all following in the footsteps of one of my heros, Anais Nin, and sent an erotica steampunk piece, Marquette de Fleur out to Crossed Genres for their steampunk anthology. Forgive the lame pun, if they find it to their liking but too "steamy" for the steampunk issue, I hope they'll consider it for their erotica publication, The Little Deaths of Crossed Genres. 

It won't be my first published erotica piece. Dark Gothic Resurrected published my story, Dancing Girls and Chamomille Kisses in their Fall 2009 issue. This is a lavish perfect-bound, 81/2 x11 magazine, beautifully printed  with glossy cover, stunning cover art and interior illustrations. The 143 pages feature a wide range of stories, poetry, reviews, interviews.  Dark Gothic Resurrected is also listed in the top ten of the Preditor's and Editor's Poll, a coup in the small press world.
I've been writing in newspapers and magazines for years now and don't get all that excited when I see my byline anymore, but  I'm proud to see my name on the cover and my story within the bindings of such a gorgeous work of art. It's the kind of publication I wish my magazine, The Howling, had evolved into, but those were different times, prior to a wide ranging internet, digital publishing and all kinds of wonderful computer programs.  
Like every other writer, I've received my share of rejections in the past couple of months, didn't do as much writing or submitting as usual because of all the work on Shaman Circus, but did see some acceptances. 
In the yes, Virginia department, if writers are diligent and develop a thick skin, hopes do come true and writers do see their most favored children published. It's especially rewarding, in the world of writing where we don't get to see the reactions of an audience, when editors have time to give feedback. At Shadow Archer Press, I try to give feedback as much as possible, but it doens't always happen due to tight deadlines and a slew of submissions.  
It was really nice to receive a note from Nobius, editor at Calliope Nerve when he accepted three poems, Pull 17, Prelude to 2012, and Tales of the Cold Wars
"I'm thinking I should just give you the user id and password to our site," he wrote, "so you can post and cut out the middlemen. :) Great work."
These poems were published in late Dec. 2009. 
 My poem, The Quintessential Lauguage of Bridges, is also now up at at Full of Crow with some very nice words from editor, MK Chavez and I have a piece of flash fiction, Magic Man #17, soon to be published in Metazen.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

connecting with other local authors with recent book releases

It's amazing how other local authors are coming out of the woodwork with recently released books, soon to be released books, or a history of published works. Some of them I've known but wasn't aware they were writers, let alone published authors.
One is Gypsy Teague from the Central/Pickens/Clemson, South Carolina area. I've known her for a few years through the SCA and didn't know she'd had 4 books published and her latest due out any minute. Amazing. She's written a series of detective novels and was nominated for the 2004 American Library Assoc. Stonewall Award! The second novel in her detective series, The Massabesic Murders, is set in New Hampshire, not far from where my mom's beach house was located.

Then I recently heard from  Amy L. Alley of Greenwood, SC, who contacted me after meeting Justin Blackburn, a poet whose poetry chapbook, Female Human Whispers of Strong Masculine Gentlness, I published with my small indie press, Shadow Archer Press. Amy contacted me regarding submitting a chapbook sumbission and I learned, that as young as she is, she already has a published novel,  The Absence of Anyone Else, a book about a struggling artst and single mother who moves back to a small southern textile town after living in the arts community of Asheville, NC, one of my favorite haunts. This is a novel for all those who are involved in the arts or curious about the lifestyle. Amy is also an incredible artist with a gothic hint. You'll be amazed when you view her works here.
I'm hoping we can get her into an art show in Greenville so everyone can see her incredible work in person. And I look forward to collaborating with her.

Come to find out, another ATTM press author lives closeby. Steve Lindahl, the author of Motherless Soul, a book about hynpnotic regressions and past lives, which is a subject I'm interested in. I've been hypnotized a few times and found the exerperiences vivid and revealing. I'm going to attend Steve's reading and signing 23rd at Park Road Books in Charlotte on January 23 from 3:00 to 5:00.  You can find more info and listen to him reading at his blog.

There was a time in the late 90's when I was thrilled to go to book signing parties of my writer friends: Michael Buffalo Smith, a musician and writer and my former editor at Edge Magazine, wrote  a great book on southern rock and is now the Eitor of Gritz. Pat Vidler, a writer and inspiration from my hatchet writers group, wrote a mystery novel.  Attending these signings was as exciting as attending the art openings for some of my friends.  So, it's cool that I might get to ride on another carousel of signings, not just as a fan, but also as a friend.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Yesterday was a pivotal day. I rec'd the emails from Phil and Deb at All Things That Matter Press informing me that the cover and galley proofs of my novel, Shaman Circus, were ready. I don't know why, but instead of just being excited - I was also nervous with the realization that this is really happening. My first novel is being published.
I've been involved in the publishing industry for more than 25 years - in the newspaper, magazine and small press worlds. I don't get bummed when I receive a rejection, don't jump up and down doing the happy dance when I see my byline, and don't exclaim with wonder when I receive payment for a writing or publishing effort.
But this was so different. I was no longer the old school writer, slightly jaded, I guess, compared to all the young authors I work with on a daily basis. I was no longer the old hat, been there, done that person.
I felt as green and unnerved as any newbie - which as uncomfortable as it is, I realize its the way it should be. One should constantly push their comfort zones. And having a novel published for the first time - the first completed novel after four attempts over 29 years - is the dream I've had since I saw my first poem published in a 4th grade newsletter.
Shaman Circus will be available soon in trade paperback, Kindle and e-book formats from the ATTM Press website,  and from  I'll let you know as soon as I know a date. 
First I must go over the galley proof... but in the meantime, I offer a sneak peek at the cover of Shaman Circus, cover art by the magical Steve Viner of the United Kingdom and cover design by Deb Harris. I am such a lucky writer to have so many brilliant experts helping me see my dream become a reality!

Shaman Circus Summary: In New Orleans following Katrina all bets are of; all masks dissolved. “Don’t forget the sham in shaman,” Jacob Laguerre lies to his new apprentice, Alex Hampton. When Alex, a twenty-eight year-old anthropology professor goes on field-study to post-Katrina New Orleans, he enters a chaotic and altered landscape where he’s psychologically, physically and spiritually challenged by the sarcastic mentoring of the mulatto, Laguerre, a current day voudou shaman.
Jacob with his questionable past, intrigues Alex ,who struggles with a crisis in confidence. They find themselves bound together in mud-caked knots when Laguerre leads Alex on escapades both spiritual and illegal.
Laguerre, who in his criminal past implemented chaos and escape, confronts his own internal demons as he toys with and tutors Alex. The anthropologist, misled and beguiled, tramps the desolate streets of the Ninth Ward with his new-found friend, Mavis. A waitress at Bad Jacqui’s, Mavis strives to make sense of surviving the floods but still relives the night where trapped in her attic, she painted a visual journey of those who survived and drowned.
Lily Hampton, sculptor, torn between her love for both men, devises a devious plan of atonement which could heal or cause irrevocable harm.
Perry Laguerre, Jacob’s hermaphroditic twin, the trump card in this deck of freaks, comes out of hiding, the silent healer, who risks losing his brother in a complex attempt to enlighten and heal.
Following the failure of the levees, this raggle-taggle group is cast adrift and crashes together in an attempt to make sense of internal and external wastelands. The wreckage of devastated and government-abandoned New Orleans leaves no quarter for societal charades and consumer societies.
These quirky fringe-dwellers, as colorful and eccentric as the city itself, follow a taut path between madness and redemption in the no man’s land of Refrigerator Town following Special K where they assist in the aftermath and healing of both New Orleans and those who remain
Here in this unpredictable landscape they discover how art, existentialism, creativity, atonement, the Lower Ninth Ward, FEMA, New Orleans politics, music, flood, voudou, fire, Haitian history, mythology, alchemy, government apathy, human suffering… and ultimately transformation and sanctuary.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A New Year's Hope

Here's hoping that 2010 is a breakout, breakthrough year for all of you. May you hold true to your inner core and allow it to guide your dreams into reality and your steps throughout the world. May your year be full of wonder and creativity. May you write a book, create an indie film, post a poem, sing a song, play a tune, paint a painting, weld a metal sculpture or fold an origimai bird to flight. May your creations ignite the fire of another's dreams.
Even if you touch just one person...
and they touch one person...
what magic might transpire?
May you enlighten the world, as you continuosly rediscover your self.
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