One of the best things about my job is the opportunity to read books I might otherwise never come across. Recently, I had the privilege of reading Clark Casey’s paranormal Western Dawn in Damnation. I enjoyed the book, so I furthered my goal of supporting indie authors by asking him for an interview!
ABOUT THE BOOK
WELCOME TO DAMNATION . . .
where every living soul is as dead as a doornail. Except one.
Buddy Baker is a dead man. Literally. After gunning down more men than Billy the Kid—and being hung by a rope necktie for his crimes—the jolly, fast-drawing fugitive reckoned he’d earned himself a nonstop ticket to hell. Instead, he finds himself in Damnation: a gun-slinging ghost town located somewhere between heaven and hell.
There are no laws in Damnation. Only two simple rules: If you get shot, you go directly to hell. If you stay alive without shooting anyone for one year, you just might get into heaven.
Hardened outlaws pass the time in the saloon playing poker and wagering on who will get sent to hell next, while trying not to anger the town’s reclusive vampire or the quarrelsome werewolves. Buddy winds up in everyone’s crosshairs after swearing to protect a pretty gal who arrives in Damnation pregnant. Her child might end up a warm-blooded meal for the supernatural residents, or it could be a demon spawn on a mission to destroy them all.
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads
Westerns aren’t a genre that is considered “popular” these days. What inspired you to dive into it anyway?
As a boy from Queens, I was more likely to play cops and robbers than cowboys and Indians, but I became a big fan of the HBO series Deadwood. Then a friend introduced me to the Robert B. Parker Appaloosa books. I had been writing literary fiction, and I wanted to try my hand at something more fast-paced with a lot of dialogue and the occasional gunfight. After the popularity of True Blood and Twilight, I figured adding a vampire and some werewolves might be interesting. I set the story in the afterlife because of my preoccupation with death. Continue reading
Here’s my schedule for Balticon 52, taking place over Memorial Day weekend at Baltimore’s Renaissance Harborplace hotel!
- The Blurring of Genre Borders (panel) at 4 pm
- Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading at 1 pm
- Slash of Our Ancestors: A History of Fanfic (panel) at 2 pm
- Autograph session with J.L. Gribble & Jay Smith at 5 pm
- Alternate History: Creating Stories by Changing the Past (presentation) at 12 pm
- Fandom Trolls and How to Vanquish Them (panel) at 4 pm
- Readings with J.L. Gribble & Paul E. Cooley at 7 pm
- Taking Off the Training Wheels: Fanfic to Original Fic (panel) at 8 pm
- Writing Compelling Villains (panel) at 10 am
- How to Keep Writing After the Workshop (panel) at 11 am
It looks like you can find me wandering on Friday night, between my events on Saturday and Sunday, and probably a bit later into Saturday night. Please drop me a line if you’d like to meet up for a drink or a meal!
I’m totally having that weird feeling of having accomplished so much in the past month while also doing not much of anything at all. Take a look below and let me know where you think I fall on that spectrum.
Currently reading: A Wind in the Door (Time Quintet #2) by Madeleine L’Engle
Currently watching: Catching up on various DVRed shows and looking for a light-hearted series to watch (give me suggestions in the comments!)
- I’m about 3/4 done with the beta read I’m working on, and very much looking forward to finding out how it ends.
- The future of the Steel Empires series is basically to continue writing more of the series. However, I’m going to be involved in a really cool project to celebrate my publishing company, and I can’t wait to start sharing the details of that.
- Both of my work trips to New York City and Arlington were incredibly educational and awesome. Part of what I love about my day job is that I get to work on topics that I’m passionate about. As an added bonus, I spent last weekend on the beach with some good friends. So, a month heavy with travel, but I enjoyed every moment of it.
April Book Reviews
April Speculative Chic Contributions
- A slightly less busy travel month, and this time it’s all for the fiction writing! First up, I’ll be signing books as part of the Women Writing Mysterious Worlds event at Cupboard Maker Books on Saturday, May 5 from 1 to 3 PM. Come say hi if you’re local to the Enola, Pennsylvania, area!
- At the end of the month, I’ll be returning to Balticon in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor over Memorial Day weekend! I’m not sure what my full schedule is yet, but I’ll definitely be reprising my Alternate History presentation, which you should definitely come check out and see how nerdy I get.
- On the home front, I have some research books to review in preparation to write the as yet untitled sixth book in the Steel Empires series.
- Meanwhile, I have to get the final edits on book 4, Steel Time, back to my editor…
- And make revisions to book 6, Steel Shadows, now that I’ve gotten reviews back from most of my amazing beta readers!
- I also need to finish the book I’m beta reading, and complete a shorter critique for another friend.
- Finally, I’ll be copy-editing a book currently in production that I’ve been dying to read for literally years.
I love my life. Busy as hell, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
And on the plus side, the weather is FINALLY getting warmer here in Maryland! Editing is much nicer when completed with windows open, and even sitting outside.
It’s been another whirlwind month at Casa Siamese, filled with lots of reading, blogging, editing, and other such shenanigans. I’ve been doing a lot of working out, and I’m counting down the days until the weather finally gets warm enough for me to walk outside. (Yes, I’m aware that I could walk outside now, but you underestimate my intense dislike of the cold.) Don’t think I’m living too perfect a life, though — the to-be read pile keeps growing out of control!
Currently reading: Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert (as part of Comic Book Girl 19‘s online book club)
Currently watching: Jessica Jones season 2, when I’m not catching up on the shows piling up on the DVR
- The SHIELD Helicarrier LEGO set is completed! It was pretty epic, and a lot of fun to build. Keep an eye out for my build report on the blog soon.
- The latest round of copy-edits on book 4, Steel Time, were completed and sent off to my editor!
- My presentation on alternate history at the Uniontown Library as part of their 2018 Author series was a blast. It went so well that I immediately volunteered to do a modified version at a few of my upcoming conventions this summer, and one has already accepted it for programming!
- I also had the expected great time at Cleveland ConCoction, exploding soda bottles aside. (See the full sordid tale at my con report, linked above.)
- And finally, I’m about halfway through a book I’m proofreading for a fellow RDSP author. It’s a total blast, with a great twist on mythology, so I’ll definitely be shouting about it from the rooftops when it launches.
LEGO construction at Casa Siamese requires the proper levels of hydraulic fluid.
March Book Reviews
March Speculative Chic Contributions
- Once I finish proofreading the book I’m working on, I’ve got the first half of another to beta read! Luckily, pretty much all the authors I know are crazy-talented, so this is all more of a privilege than a chore.
- I’ll be meeting with my editor this month to finish up work on Steel Time and discuss the future of the series. Don’t panic! Basically, come June, will I be working on book 6, working on a series of short stories for gradual release, or both?
- No conventions this month, but I will be taking two trips for the day job to New York City and Arlington, VA. The topics for both are fascinating, so I’m happy that so much cool travel is part of BOTH of my jobs.
That’s it! Now, I’ve got a cup of hot coffee, a cat snoring on my lap, and a bunch of emails to catch up on. It was warm enough for a hoodie and no socks today, but the local weather report is threatening mixed snow tonight. You can come anytime now, spring…
A difficult life, I know.
This past weekend, I was privileged to be invited to the library in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, to be part of their 2018 Author Series. I presented an interactive lecture on the alternate history genre and it’s possibilities in all genres of fiction. You can find my full PowerPoint presentation and some pictures from the event below.
As always, I had a fantastic time at Cleveland ConCoction this year! It’s one of my favorite cons, for the people I get to see, how many books I tend to sell, and especially how well this convention treats the authors they invite to participate in programming. I wish other conventions would take note!
My flight from Baltimore to Cleveland was smooth. But after collecting my bags in Cleveland, it was time for something totally new. Since ConCoction moved hotels this year, I had to rent a car to get there. I’d never rented a car before! But the process was smooth, and I drove a nice Ford Focus hatchback out of the rental lot.
Luckily, the snow had tapered off and the roads were clear, so I only had to deal with flurries during the drive. I arrived at the hotel with enough time to drop my bags off in a friend’s room, then it was off to three panels in a row!
First, I moderated a panel on coming up with characters, where we discussed elements of character creation and everything from basing characters on real people to effective ways to leave things up to the reader. Then, I launched right into a panel on mistakes that beginning authors tend to make. This discussion touched on both writing issues and submission issues, and we got some great questions from the audience. The themes I tend to push on panels like this are “Don’t be a jerk” and “There’s no one, right way.” Finally, supported by soda and chips acquired by a friend, I headed for a discussion on author perspectives on fanfiction. We never really reach consensus, which is totally fine. All authors have different goals with their careers and different ways they are willing to get others play in their sandbox. Continue reading
This weekend, I will be attending Cleveland ConCoction for the third year! This is one of my favorite conventions in terms of how authors are treated and the variety of events. I made some great friends last year that I can’t wait to reunite with.
The convention is a new hotel this year, farther from the airport. Slightly inconvenient for me, but I’ll get to have a new experience: renting a car! Here’s my schedule for the weekend, hopefully to be filled with other awesome new experiences.
- 2 PM: Stories of Coming up with Characters
- 3 PM: Mistakes Beginning Authors Make 1.0
- 4 PM: Author Perspectives on Fan Fiction
- 9 PM: Vampires, Werewolves & Gods: Rewriting Legends 1.0
- 5 PM: Author Showcase: Reading from Steel Blood
- 10 PM: NSFW Authors Panel 2.0
- 11 AM: What’s in a Genre?
I’ll have all three of the current books in the Steel Empires for sale in Authors Alley, and when in doubt, you can probably find me in the hotel bar with Brent Seth and Sara Dobie Bauer. I’m also looking forward to the awesome party that Barfleet throws!
Will I see you in Cleveland?