Why Author Events Fail

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As authors, it is a constant struggle to get our name out. If you think about it, authors often get caught up in numbers and sales. However, it’s not all about us. We exist because we love what we do, and that includes loving our readers. Without our readers, we would not exist. We couldn’t afford editing, cover design, swag, advertising, events, etc.  But, how do we get our names out without wasting our time and money?

One of the solutions to this, is attending author events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everybody. Below are reasons why author events nationwise fail.

  • Too Many Authors – This can be a double-edged sword.
    • Good:
      • The event has an established reputation
      • Word of mouth has been previously successful
      • Location is good to shop at
      • A better chance of a wide range of genres being represented
    • Bad:
      • Permits readers to be more choosy
      • Overwhelms your reader
      • Readers will skip authors, leaving someone to feel left out
  • Advertising – This is like getting butts into the seats at the theatre. If you don’t properly advertise beyond your circle of friends, and trust that you’ll be successful simply through word of mouth, people aren’t going to show up.
  • The Host – Do your research. If your host is a self-published author, this should be a red flag.  What makes them an expert in running this type of event? How do you know their event will be successful?
  • First-Year Events – AVOID! Allow that event to properly establish itself first before committing. Make that event prove to you it is worth your time and money.
  • Location – Do people know where to find your venue? Are there signs clearly posted outside?
  • Sponsors – Are the sponsors listed on the event actually sponsoring it or are being name dropped. What are they doing to advertise the event?
  • Not Knowing Your Competition – What other type of events are going on that may help or hinder your traffic flow?
  • Weather – While these type of events are scheduled months in advance, it is good to have a back-up venue if you are going to be outside.
  • Cost – I can say before I became an author, I was completely oblivious that authors have to buy their own table, so they are already starting their day in the red. However, venues also cost money, so, what is the right price to charge both author and reader attendees?
  • Parking – Is there enough parking to handle your traffic? You don’t want your customers leaving before they get there due to frustration of being unable to find a place to park
  • Being UnFamiliar With Your Target Audience – Where do they tend to go? Comic shops? Bookstores? Coffee shops?
    • I’ve learned my target audience (Doctor Who fans) go to Comic Con, and not typically to these type of events.
    • However, if you’re a romance author, for example, you will probably do well at an author event.
  • Allowing Pre-Orders – Readers will buy books ahead of time, go to the event solely to pick up their pre-orders, and leave without bothering to check out the other authors.
  • Not Knowing Your Authors – THIS, ladies and gentlemen is the #1 reason these author events fail.
    • “Why should I buy this author’s book when I don’t know who he/she is.”
    • Next time you catch yourself doing this, remember that those popular authors you do know: Rachel Caine, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, etc, were once unknowns, too.

Are you an author reading this post? See something I have not covered? Have you attended an event that went superly well? What made it spectacular? On the other side of the coin, have you attended an event that went horribly wrong? What went wrong?

I want to hear your voice! Comment below.

 

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Author Interview: Caytlyn Brooke @caytlyn_brooke #ya #interview #scifi #contemporary

To celebrate the recent release of her new book, Wired, I’m sitting down with award-winning author, Caytlyn Brooke.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Caytlyn_BHC_WebHello! My family is from English decent and I have the freckles and pale skin to prove it. I have lived in six states, but currently reside in the Southern Tier of New York where camouflage is the epitome of fashion and everyone drives a Ford F150.  I’m working on convincing my husband to move south to the beach, but for right now I’m enjoying rolling hills and cornfields.

 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

It’s amazing how much thought and planning goes into creating a story. My favorites, in both what I read and write, are stories that make you feel as if you’re right there running alongside the characters. Description is the biggest thing for me. I want to be able to picture everything and everyone as if I’m watching a movie. I enjoy books with a fast-paced plot that make it impossible to put down. I especially love cliff hanger endings! I know many readers who like deep, complicated plots that make you think and analyze, however that’s not me. I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I prefer exciting stories with an immediate hook that aren’t afraid to jump right in.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

Dark_Flowers_C_Brooke_FCI’ve wanted to be a writer since third grade. I loved when my teachers would assign a prompt and let our imaginations go wild for half an hour. My friends would barely craft a paragraph and I’d be on my fifth piece of paper. Growing up, I was obsessed with fairies, goblins, nymphs, you name it. If it involved any mythical creature I was hooked. It was out of that love that I created my first novel, Dark Flowers. Every little girl dreams that she finds fairies in the woods, dreams that she dances with them and is invited to be one. I took that idea and layered it with a touch of darkness. I’m a big fan of the Grimm Brothers and enjoy taking innocent stories and twisting them to keep my readers on their toes. Not every story has a happy ending and in Dark Flowers I changed the beautiful fairies everyone is familiar with, to sinister creatures that will make you rethink walking alone in the woods.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Trying to find time to write is a job in itself! I have two small children and a full time job so most of my writing gets done on my lunch break and at ten o’clock at night after I get everyone to bed. As you can imagine with that schedule it’s pretty slow going so I taught myself how to type pretty fast. Most nights I’m up past midnight writing, but I love it. I feel bad for my husband because he waits up for me and my, “I’ll be done in ten minutes” always turns into another hour and a half.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Hmm an interesting writing quirk. I guess that all my novels originate from my notebook, old school pen and paper. I always keep a notebook by my bed because most of my story ideas come from my dreams. As soon as I wake up I jot down the idea or image and then expand upon it from there until I have a solid concept. Then, I just start writing. Rather than create an outline and detail step by step what will happen, I just sit down and let my mind wander and craft the story as I go.

Question 6) Tell me about your latest book. 

Wired is a mix of YA contemporary/scifi.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Wired_Caytlyn_BrookeOne of the most surprising things I learned after writing Wired was how spot on my imagined world was! I started writing this novel three years ago and back then cell phone usage and dependency was annoying, but nothing to the degree it has reached today. In the slightly futuristic world I created, people have iJewels which are essentially Smart Watches. I remember last year hearing my co-workers talk about how they had to have the new Apple Smart Watch and my eyes bulged. It was exactly like the technology from my book! Wired focuses on cellular device addiction and when Maggie isn’t “connected” she experiences the same withdrawl symptoms as a drug addict. Come to find out, people are actually going to rehab for cell phone addiction and there is even a term called Nomophobia that explains the intense fear and anxiety people have if they become separated from their phones. I wrote this book because I noticed an unhealthy dependency people were forming with their phones and now it’s actually coming true. Maybe this means I’ve predicted the future?

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

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I look around at everyone seated. All of them are staring at me blankly, colorful Vertix H2’s all implanted successfully on their necks. It’s like they’ve been brainwashed. My heart rate speeds up as fear grips my stomach. “I want to leave,” I whisper, pushing back further in my chair, but the feet are stopped and when I turn around, another rep is staring down at me.

“It’s an incredible experience,” Brad says, his smile growing wider. “And you’ve already paid for it. Just try it. If you still don’t like it, we will give you a twenty-five percent refund.”

I can feel the rep behind me grip the back of my chair and I realize he’s sliding me forward, back to the table. The copper device still whirs in my hands, the green light seeming to grow brighter and brighter. A cool breeze grazes my neck and I stiffen as the rep pulls my hair away from my neck, depositing the heavy bulk onto my chest.

“Have fun,” he whispers in my ear before stepping back.

Brad is still staring at me, waiting for me to follow his instructions. With shaking hands I lift the copper Vertix to the back of my neck, wincing as the searching sensors brush my fingers. It’s going to be fine, you’re going to be fine, I tell myself over and over again as I breathe steadily through gritted teeth. Just do it for a minute, then they’ll let you go.

The device slips from my sweating fingers and lands with a solid thud onto the back of my neck. Involuntarily, my hands grip the smooth edge of the table and I close my eyes, anticipating the sharp pain I witnessed everyone else endure to make the connection. The bug-like legs dance atop my skin, settling into place. Then, without a sound, the sensors still and then plunge into the soft skin on either side of my spinal cord.

My eyes flash open and my fingers stiffen into claws as a burst of pain washes over me. I can feel the sensors inside my body, reaching, reaching for some unknown destination. A moment later, all four seize upon my brain stem and the Vertix H2 deepens its hold. My vision blurs and the eerie blue up lighting spins and swirls as the Vertix infiltrates my brain.

The connection has begun.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future? 

More books! I have several in the works, including a YA fantasy trilogy that I’m super excited to release next year. My other novels revolve mostly within the fantasy realm with mermaids, trolls, and witches and all border on the darker side. You can also check out Dark Flowers, if you’re into creepy fairies and muggy swamps. 

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

DI4oQC2VAAEfEEpThe best money I ever spent as a writer was when I went out to South Dakota last year for the Literary Classic Book Awards. Dark Flowers won the silver medal in the YA Horror category and I was invited to attend the awards ceremony. I didn’t win a cash prize, but I was able to tour the Black Hills of South Dakota, wear a pretty gown, and meet a fantastic group of authors from all over the country. That was such a fun experience and I’m hoping I get the chance to go out there again.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter at the links below. Some days I have some fun things to say:

https://www.facebook.com/Caytlyn-Brooke-659444394222760/

https://twitter.com/caytlyn_brooke

You can also find me at my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_Caytlyn_Brooke.html and http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Brooke_Wired.html

Thanks for having me!

 

#Interview with @TARDIScabinets! #DoctorWho #DrWho #TomBaker #Tardis #woodworking #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is the amazing Whovian cabinet maker, Gary Dorr, of Tardis Cabinets. Today he’ll show off his incredible talent, talk to us about #DoctorWho, and prove that sooner, or later, you’re going to need a TARDIS.

Welcome, Gary!!!

Hello, and thank you, Mackenzie.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

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Beautiful Eugene, Oregon

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

In my college days, in Boulder, CO. way back in 1975.  The show was followed by a devoted few and broadcast on the local Public Broadcasting Station in the afternoons.

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

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My FIRST Doctor was Tom Baker, still love him, but “Who” is my Doctor is sort of the answer to the question for me.  My Doctor is the current Doctor.

Question 4) How did you get into woodworking?

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An art school background made me interested in many mediums but I gravitated to wood.  Carving and cabinet making as a hobby for a long time before offering my builds to the public.

Question 5) What inspired you to craft Tardis cabinets and boxes?

A natural, really.  A Whovian cabinet maker, what would he build?  My first few TARDISes were for myself. A 3/4 scale book cabinet, a wine cabinet, a table lamp.
Friends told me, as they do, to sell these.  My home WAS becoming crowded with blue boxes, so I set up shop.

Question 6) What process goes into selecting the wood and paint?

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All my builds are solid wood, and the painted boxes are Poplar, Birch, and Hemlock for straightness of grain.  I will occasionally build a natural hardwood cabinet, such as “The Rosewood” Jewelry Cabinet.

The paint color varies as does the colors of the various Doctor’s boxes.  I do my very best to match the selected Doctor’s hue.

Question 7) How long does it typically take for you to make one of these cabinets?

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I offer ring boxes (very popular) that take 5 days to ship, and a 1/2 scale cabinet ready to ship in 3 weeks. There are currently 23 products in my shop.

Question 8) Do you handle special requests?

Yes, from small additions like a custom message, to full builds.  A limitation to big builds is the shipping cost.

Question 9) Are there other Doctor Who items have you crafted?

Yes, you can find in my online shop a  River Song’s Diary Keepsake Box  and a “Power of Three” inspired Black Cube Jewelry/Gift Box

Question 10) How did you react when you learned about Keith’s marriage proposal to Sarah at Awesome Con in the presence of David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman?

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I was thrilled!  I wish I had been there.  I knew in advance the groom-to-be was going to attempt this, but the photos, and David’s reaction to the TARDIS Ring Box was great. 

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Question 11) Are there any other cool stories like this you would like to share?

I have many clients write with their, and their loved one’s reactions.  Here are the reviews and stories.

Question 12) Is there something you would like to craft, but haven’t yet?

Oh yes! So many things!

Question 13) Where can others find out more about you and your work?

Thank you for asking,   www.tardiscabinets.com

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Thank you again, Gary! Fans, please make sure to check out his website, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with Jeremy Wheeler from The Blue Box Alliance to talk about Doctor Who cosplay, fan-films, comic con and much more!

 
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#Interview with #author, @bawrites! #MattSmith #MG #steampunk #dystopian #DoctorWho #DrWho #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is author B.A. Williamson with an exciting middle grade book that is on my to-be-read list. He’ll be talking about how #DoctorWho and #MattSmith inspired his book — The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

interview1.pngI hail from a quaint little neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I became a fan in college, when I went home on spring break and my Dad was watching this strange show. Some fat green Vogon-like aliens had just destroyed Big Ben, and they farted a lot, and came from a planet with a funny name. When he told me what it was, I remembered seeing a whole shelf of classic Doctor Who tapes at the local library while I was growing up, but I never touched them, a decision I now painfully regret. Tom Baker would have vastly improved my childhood. As it was, I watched a little with my Dad while I was home, but I didn’t become a fan in my own right until I saw David Tennant’s first episode with the Sycorax.

Question 3) What do you think makes a good story?

Desire+Obstacle. Your character has to want something, and want it badly, no matter how small it is. There needs to be things standing in the way, obstacles that match the character’s level of desire. If your character doesn’t have a clear driving goal, we lose interest. I also think a story should have something to say, beyond just beating the bad guys. Doctor Who has infinite storytelling possibility, but it touches on some of the deepest topics that any form of literature can approach, which is something science-fiction has always been particularly suited to.

Question 4) Congratulations on the publication of The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray! Tell me a little bit about your book.

interview5.pngGwendolyn Gray faces an overwhelming battle every day: keeping her imagination under control. It’s a struggle for a dreamer like Gwendolyn, in a city of identical gray skyscrapers, clouds that never clear, and grown-ups who never understand. She’s a plucky little redheaded outcast that would be perfectly at home in the TARDIS.

But when her daydreams come alive and run amok in The City, the struggle to control them becomes as real as the furry creatures infesting her bedroom. Worse yet, she’s drawn the attention of the Faceless Gentlemen, who want to preserve order in The City by erasing Gwendolyn and her troublesome creations.

With the help of two explorers from another world, Gwendolyn escapes and finds herself in a land of clockwork inventions and colorful creations. Now Gwendolyn must harness her powers and, with a gang of airship pirates, stop the Faceless Gentlemen from destroying the new world she loves and the home that never wanted her—before every world becomes gray and dull.

If that sounds like the plot of a Doctor Who episode, well, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Question 5) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

interview6Seeing how your own characters can take on a life of your own, and do things that surprise you. When you’re writing, and you get really in the zone, stuff comes out that feels completely independent, and I have no idea where it comes from. Which then became a theme of the book in and of itself, and I spend a lot of time exploring the nature of imagination and creation, and how it can be a type of magic on its own.

Question 6) I understand that Doctor Who has played a significant role in your writing. Can you elaborate on that?

It tremendously influences the type of story I want to tell. Those are the stories I love, and I wanted to emulate those somehow, I wanted to tell a world-hopping portal fantasy. When I was looking at how to craft a tale of an imaginative kid bouncing between worlds and solving her problems with wits, not weapons, I went and studied some of the best Who episodes. I looked at their structure, how the Doctor eventually prevailed in spite of overwhelming obstacles. I looked at how the best episodes deliver a strong message, not in a preachy way, but one that was at the center of a fantastic adventure story and compelling characters. And of course, every adventure involves a lot of running.

Question 7) Turns out, our books both have something in common — Matt Smith! Any specific characteristics of him can be found in your characters?

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His short attention span and tendency to babble. His childishness comes through in Gwendolyn, because Gwendolyn is herself a child. But there’s also a weight of sadness there: these actions have consequences, and the characters have to feel those deeply, but always choose to go on.

Question 8) Who is your Doctor?

David Tennant, always and forever. Particularly, The Christmas Invasion, Blink, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, The Beast, Tooth and Claw, the Cybermen invasion, and the Master’s Return. I don’t think the show has ever been better than his first two seasons.

Question 9) What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The beginning. Figuring out what the story is and where it’s going. And every time you start, you never completely know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to turn out. Starting a new story is like taking a leap off a cliff, and it’s just as terrifying. I always have an ending in mind, but parts of the journey are still huge blanks. You just have to trust yourself, your skills, your voice, and let it go where it will. But it’s never an easy step for me.

Question 10) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I like to dress in costume for my book events. The narrator in the book is a bit of a character in and of itself, and I like to become something like that character. It comes from my theatre background, I suppose.

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt from the book you’d like to share?

Sure! Here’s one that’s particularly Who-vian. Gwendolyn lives in the City, a dystopian place where creativity and ideas simply don’t exist. It’s not “the way things are done.” Picture a mid-century modern future straight out of Mad Men with the social structure and values of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins. Gwendolyn’s imagination just made one of her classmates grow actual rabbit ears, and while running from the consequences of that, she has just discovered a major secret and some strange artifacts on the Edge of the City, a place no one knew existed. Now she has her first run-in with the villains of our story. It’s a very Who sort of scene- creepy baddies, sudden rescues by mysterious new friends from other worlds, and plenty of running.

interview2.pngGwendolyn sprawled on the sidewalk, nose to toe with four polished black shoes. Above the shoes were crisp grey pants, and above that were twice-buttoned jackets with black ties pinned smartly to white shirts. The men both wore black bowler hats, and they had no faces.

Let me be clear: they had noses, yes, and mouths as well. Likewise eyes and ears, all in the right place and amount.

But Gwendolyn could not have told you what they looked like.

Looking at them was like trying to picture the face of a friend you haven’t seen in years. The men stood plain as day in front of her, but the faces underneath those bowler hats slipped from her mind like eels, as though her eyes saw something terrible, and refused to tell her brain what they had seen. Most people have never seen a man with no face, but let me assure you that it is a sight so unsettling that it puts goosebumps on your eyeballs.

A white-gloved hand reached down. Gwendolyn thought it meant to help her up, but it picked up the book instead. The man’s eyes examined the gleaming title, and the gloved hands flipped through the colorful illustrations.

Gwendolyn snatched up the gem and snuck it in her pocket.

The man turned to his comrade. “This is a very interesting book, Mister Five.” he said. His voice was a high-pitched whining monotone, crisp and proper. The voice she’d heard in the Headmaster’s office.

“Very interesting indeed, Mister Six,” replied the other, his voice identical to the first. He leaned in slightly, ever so slightly, to examine the book.

Gwendolyn got to her feet and put on her precious-little-girl voice, all sweetness and light, the kind you use when you want a second helping of dessert. “I’m terribly sorry, sirs. I wasn’t watching my way.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, the two men’s eyes turned from the book toward Gwendolyn. Their heads cocked to the side and stared at her, faces instantly dissolving in her memory.

Gwendolyn shuddered. “If you will accept my polite apologies, I will take my book and be on my way. Mother will be quite cross if I am late.”

The men ignored her. Carefully, ever so carefully, their hands flipped through the book as though the pages were covered in muck, and they didn’t wish to dirty their white gloves.

“Where did you get this book, my dear?” said Mister Five.

“Uhh…” Gwendolyn stammered, “it’s mine, and I would like it back now, please.”

“This is a very unique book, little girl. And my partner and I… collect… things such as this,” said one of the men.

Gwendolyn again felt the gut-wrenching sensation of being caught, as she felt earlier with the Centrals, but these gentlemen made Cecilia and her gang seem positively fluffy. “I’m sorry sir, but it is mine, and it is not for sale. I must insist that you give it back. Please?”

“What do you think, Mister Five?” one of the men whined eerily.

“She has seen the book, Mister Six, and would appear to have been reading it quite intently,” said the other, examining the edges of the pages. “And unless I’m very much mistaken, and I seldom am, Mister Six—”

“-No, indeed, Mister Five—”

“-this girl is not where she should be.”

“Most assuredly not, Mister Five. The Edge is not permissible to the citizenry; particularly children. Most particularly not to children so particularly… strange.” Gently, ever so gently, his gloved hand reached out and caressed a lock of Gwendolyn’s fiery hair.

Gwendolyn flinched. The man’s brief touch made her skin want to crawl off her bones, into bed, and under the blankets. She slapped his hand away, but Mister Six didn’t react.

“You are correct, Mister Six,” said Mister Five. “She has seen The Wall, and this book, and who knows what else. She is also certainly the one causing these unacceptable… changes. No, no, no, I’m afraid we really have no choice,” droned Mister Five.

Mister Six’s hand reached up slowly, ever so slowly, to his black bowler hat. “I agree completely, Mister Five. These changes simply must be dealt with.” His tone turned sweet, dripping more venom than honey: “Girl. Might I draw your attention here, to my lovely hat?”

He took off the hat and turned it toward her, like a magician showing that his hat is indeed empty. But instead of a rabbit, a pinpoint of light came out of the hat’s black interior. Gwendolyn’s gaze was locked in place.

Cold light poured out of the hat. It was just like a Lambent; but one more potent than any she had ever encountered. Her eyes burned but she could not look away. With an awful shock, she found she could no longer move. Any thoughts of running or escaping faded. She could feel her mind slipping away, drawn toward the light, drowning in it.

“Perfectly done, little girl. It doesn’t hurt.”

He was wrong. It did hurt. Her head felt like it would split in two. The searing pain brought her back to her senses. “No!” she shouted, and reached forward to knock the hat away.

Mister Six stepped easily out of reach. “The girl resists, Mister Five.”

“Indeed she does, Mister Six. She is stronger than anticipated. Increase the power.” The light doubled in brightness. She held up her hand to block it, but it didn’t help.

Her hand… she could see right through it. It was vanishing before her eyes, disappearing like a puddle on a hot day. She felt disconnected from her body, her arms and legs as far away as yesterday’s dream. She felt like a glass of water being poured into a swirling drain. Her thoughts, normally so fast she couldn’t control them, began to slow. She felt… less.

Mister Six’s mouth curved upward slightly, ever so slightly. “Yes, this will only take a mo—”

“Look out!”

Someone collided with the faceless man, and hard. Mister Six was knocked to the street, his hat rolling away, and the book skidded down the sidewalk. Senseless Gwendolyn was grabbed by a pair of rough hands and pulled down the street like a rag doll.

“Move your feet, or I’m leaving you!” came another voice, a girl’s. Gwendolyn shook her head as the volume on her senses was turned back up.

And for the third time that day, Gwendolyn Gray was running away.

She noticed several things all at once. She noticed a very peculiar looking boy, about her own age, running beside her. She noticed a bright red jacket and a long yellow scarf that fluttered behind him. He grinned recklessly, holding his flat and checkered newsboy cap. He held up a red book. “Here! You dropped this. Clumsy.”

Gwendolyn took it, noticing that her hand was solid and whole again. She noticed the girl pulling her other hand wore a complicated-looking set of goggles on her head, all dials and lenses. Her shimmering blouse was not quite green, not quite blue, but was somehow both at once underneath a coppery-orange vest. She looked back at Gwendolyn and gave her arm a fierce tug. “Quit staring at me and run!”

She did, pushing her feet as fast as they would go. They sprinted through the deserted streets. The Mister Men followed effortlessly, seeming almost to float over the ground.

Suddenly, Gwendolyn noticed some scattered pedestrians in shabby clothes. Gwendolyn must have run all the way to the beginning of the Outskirts. People gaped at the wild children who would dare run through The City’s streets, but the Mister Men passed by without so much as a glance from the Cityzens, and the sparse crowds moved mindlessly aside to let them through.

Gwendolyn turned to look behind, but the Mister Men never grew any closer or farther away. “I can’t… keep running… like this!” she gasped, her satchel banging against her side with every step.

“Quick! This way!” The boy shouted.

“Sparrow, wait!” the girl said, but the boy ducked into an alleyway. The girl groaned and pulled Gwendolyn in after him.

It was a dead end.

The boy spun around. “Oh. Never mind. What now, Starling?”

“What? Not again! This was your idea!” She groaned. “Fine. Take her! I’ll catch up.” She pointed at something down the alley, then pushed Gwendolyn at the boy and started patting the pockets of her pants. The girl was nothing but pockets from the waist down. Her black trousers were covered in them, and she wore crisscrossing belts full of dangling tools and gadgets. Gwendolyn wondered if she needed all those belts to hold up such heavily laden pants.

The older girl pulled a copper sphere from a pocket on her thigh and twisted the two halves, winding it up. She leaned out of the alleyway and tossed it into the air just as the Mister Men came around the corner. The sphere whirred, clicked, and then exploded with a loud SNAP!

The alley entrance was instantly filled with orange smoke. One of the men stumbled out of the cloud, but the girl shoved him back in. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes and flipped a lens into place. “Go! I’ll lead them away and circle back!” Then she plunged into the fog.

“Come on!” the boy said. He pulled Gwendolyn down the alleyway and studied the wall at the end. “Now, what was Starling pointing at?”

Gwendolyn noticed a fire escape above them, old iron ladders and walkways bolted to the side of the building. “Do you think she meant that?”

“Oh, yeah. Good call.” The boy shot her a toothy grin, one that was altogether too cocky for their present situation. He jumped up and pulled the ladder down. “Ladies first.”

Gwendolyn hesitated. “Uh… I’m not climbing over you in this skirt. I’ll thank the gentleman to go first.” It was a good excuse, but truthfully she just wanted to see if it would hold his weight.

The boy’s jaw dropped, taken aback. “I didn’t… That’s not… I would never…”

A loud crash came from the smoke behind them.

“Just climb!” Gwendolyn shouted, though she was glad to wipe that smug smile from his face. She had the presence of mind to stick the book in her bag.

He scrambled up the ladder, but was already grinning again, and gave her a wink. “Be careful, girlie. Wouldn’t want to tear that precious skirt of yours.”

“Just worry about yourself, little boy, and when you fall, try and avoid my head.” Teasing him was an easy way to hide how terrified she was.

The fire escape held, and they reached the roof. They crossed to the other side and looked down. The sheer drop to the street below made her eyes swirl. A twelve-story fall is not the sort of story you’ll ever get to tell.

“What now? There’s nowhere to go!” Gwendolyn said.

“Nowhere to go? Please. I have a plan. Well, we have a plan. Um . . . Starling will have a plan. Any trouble down there?” he asked the goggled girl, who was clambering over the edge of the roof.

“Yes. And all of it is your fault. But I bought us a few moments. Now take one of these.” The girl produced a collection of objects from another one of her pockets and tossed something to each of them.

Gwendolyn caught it. It was a miniature umbrella, bright pink with purple spirals on it, not much larger than her hand. It was the same sort of umbrella your parents might put into a tropical drink on the beach when they’ve left you and your sister at home with relatives. Gwendolyn frowned at it, but she opened it with a crinkly pop.

“When I say so, jump,” said the older girl, approaching the edge of the roof.

This was too much, even for Gwendolyn. “Jump? We’ll be smushed!” She glanced at the pitifully small umbrella in her hand.

The boy rolled his eyes. “You wanted a plan. Maybe you should ask them about it,” he cocked a thumb at the Faceless Gentlemen, who had just appeared on the roof.

“This is a most inappropriate way for young children to act, Mister Five.” said the man on the left, his face slipping from Gwendolyn’s mind like water through her fingers.

“Most inappropriate indeed, Mister Six. They will have to be dealt with immediately. These sorts of… intrusions… cannot be tolerated,” the other replied. They strode across the roof toward the children, each step in perfect unison.

Gwendolyn looked down at the punishingly solid sidewalk. She glanced at the boy, and got another infuriating wink. For someone saving her life, he was certainly not impressing her. “Isn’t there another way?”

“Of course there is another way…” droned Mister Five. His hand reached toward her in a gesture that absolutely failed to be comforting. “Come with us.” His voice took on the sickly sweetness of cough syrup. “Your parents must be worried sick about you. No little girl should be out this far. Just what would your mother think?”

“What indeed, Mister Five. We will take care of you, girl, and see you home safe. We will explain everything to your parents, make all your problems… disappear. We might even allow you to keep that little book. The Status Quo will be preserved. All will be well. After all, you cannot trust such dreadful children as these.” His white gloved hand waved toward her brightly colored companions.

You and I might be able to spot the lie these men told, but we are not the one’s teetering over the edge of a fatal fall. Gwendolyn hesitated. What would Mother think? She would certainly not approve of any of this dashing about, nor of her two rescuers. But her parents had also never seen anything like these men, and she wasn’t certain they’d approve of them, either.

The boy put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s us or them. Now or never.”

She took a deep breath and looked over the side. She had to do it. She couldn’t turn back now. She would imagine she was brave, even if she felt like throwing up.

“Then I guess it’s now,” she whispered. She squeezed her eyes shut, gripped the umbrella, bent her knees-

“Sorry, girlie, time’s up!” The boy gave her a shove, and Gwendolyn fell with a shriek. The older girl followed, leaping from the roof.

“So long, chaps!” The boy tipped his cap to the Mister Men, showed them a very impolite finger, and jumped.

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?

More Gwendolyn! I’m currently working on The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray, and where the first one features a trip to a Steampunk world, this time she’ll find herself trapped in the land of the Fae.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

The book itself is on Amazon and Goodreads. The website is gwendolyngray.com, but I’m probably most active on the Facebook page, facebook.com/gwendolyngraybook. Twitter is my social of choice, but you can find me pretty much anywhere @bawrites. I’m always happy to chat, particularly about the book!

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Book Review: Ewyn: A Thief’s Fortune: A Tale From Silverbrook City by Bobby Fisher #fantasy #crime #short-stories #suspense

Title: Ewyn: A Thief’s Fortune: A Tale From Silverbrook City
Author: Bobby Fisher
Published Date: January 15, 2017
Format: ebook
Pages: 24
Categories: #fantasy, #crime, #short-stories, #suspense,

Ewyn: A Thief’s Fortune: A Tale From Silverbrook City follows the story of Ewyn, a young boy who has been left with nothing after his parents passed away. He had made a reputation for himself in Silverbrook City as being clever and sneaky.

When he discovers his sister Isobel is ailing and desperate in need of healing, Ewyn becomes foolish and attempts to steal from Lord Ravensworth, sending him with a one-way ticket into Ravensworth’s tower. Inside his cell he meets Brennan, a man who once constructed portions of the city for Lord Ravensworth. This is when the real adventure begins.

This was a delightful, fast paced read though the story contained several missed opportunities where I felt the story could have been expanded upon. I found the character of Brennan intriguing and wished to have known more of his backstory. Ewyn was a fun character, however, I would have liked to have known more about his sister’s sickness – how long she had been sick and how she got sick to fully understand Ewyn’s desperation to steal money to help her. It would have been helpful to have known a bit more of the politics, the specific time period, and possibly even had a map of Silverbrook City to understand the author’s world.

Things worked out a bit too conveniently, leaving the story predictable, which was a missed opportunity to build on the suspense. I found it hard to believe if Brennan was supposed to be in this tower for so many years that his once very good friend was still able to recognize him and the area hadn’t changed much. My own hometown within 10 years has changed so much I can hardly recognize it being the same place anymore!

Overall I enjoyed the story and look forward to reading the future tales about Silverbrook City.

#Interview with #artist @bmax67! #Twelfthdoctor #Petercapaldi #DoctorWho #doctorwhoislife

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My next featured guest is Brenda Culver, who is not only a fan of Doctor Who, but creates amazing digital creations of Peter Capaldi and his Twelfth Doctor.

Welcome!!!

Brenda: Thank you, Mackenzie!!!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Brenda: I live in the western suburbs of Chicago and was born and raised in the Chicago area.  I’d love to move somewhere warm eventually.

Mackenzie: I’d love to move somewhere warmer, too! Though, to be honest, I really enjoy the city of Chicago. I find myself visiting there at least once a year. In fact, I’ll be there this upcoming August, making my debut at Wizard World Chicago!

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

Brenda: This is a bit complicated. I remember watching the 4th Doctor late at night, really having no clue what it was! Then, it disappeared from American TV. My son started watching new Doctor Who probably around 2012-2013.  I started watching with him and really enjoyed it. Then, the 12th Doctor came along and I became a full-fledged Whovian. 

Question 3) Who is your Doctor and why?

thumbnail-7.jpegBrenda: For some reason I really connected with the Twelfth Doctor.  Why?  I’m not sure.  I think it was a combination of things.  I remember seeing the iconic Doctor pose and thinking, “Wow, who is that?” He just WAS the Doctor to me from the start.  I loved how the Doctor evolved and his character developed over those three years. Also, maybe because I’m closer in age with him than the other younger Doctors.  Of course, it helped that Peter Capaldi has been an incredible ambassador for the show and still loves it to this day.

Mackenzie: I found myself also really connecting with the Twelfth Doctor right from the start (and not just because I share a birthday with him).

Brenda: That’s so cool!  I love his Doctor so much.

Question 4) How exciting you and your son got to meet Peter! What was it like getting to meet him? 

thumbnail-11Brenda: Oh wow! Where do I start? That weekend was surreal!  My son loves Twelve as well, so I bought the VIP package and boy, was it worth it!  We were able to attend a private gathering of maybe 20 or so people and got to chat with Peter and ask questions in a very informal and relaxed atmosphere.  Peter was pleasant and smiled while he told us stories of his life and career. Then, we were escorted to the main auditorium where the panel was taking place.  During the Q and A, the moderator brought one other boy on stage who was cosplaying Twelve to show off his costume. Peter then spotted my son who was also cosplaying Twelve and invited him up on stage with them!  What an incredible moment! The boys each had a seat on the couch and spent the rest of the Q and A sitting with Peter and the moderator. It was incredible. A selfie was taken of all 4 of them from the stage when the panel was over. The next day, Peter met my son in line and remembered his name and treated him like a friend.  It’s a weekend my son will never forget. Peter Capaldi is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He goes above and beyond for his fans probably because he is a fan himself.

Oh! I forgot to include that he saw some of my art and signed a piece for me!  It was early in my digital art work. I feel like I’ve improved over the last year, but Peter was so sweet with his comments about it.

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Question 5) I absolutely adore your art piece of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Can you share a bit about what inspired you to create this?

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Brenda: I believe the piece you were talking about is “Scan Me”.  I picked that particular scene because of the emotion and power of that scene. I loved the Doctor’s pose and the lighting was so unique. It was a challenge but I did my best. 

Question 6) It is always so hard to say good-bye to an actor/actress playing the Doctor. What was your favorite episode featuring your Doctor?

Brenda: There were so many episodes I thumbnail-9.jpegloved with Twelve, but Heaven Sent will always have a special place in my heart.  Peter did such an incredible job in an episode where he was solely featured.  The soundtrack was beautiful and the cinematography and directing was spectacular.  I remember watching it the first time and realizing what had been happening.  Brilliant.  Just brilliant.

Question 7) I always find it intriguing to learn about an artist’s technique. Can you share a bit about what goes into drawing a piece like this? Time frame? Skill? Software used?

thumbnail-2.pngI use a Wacom draw tablet.  Less than 100 dollars and pretty basic. I’ve only been drawing for about 2 years so it’s still a learning curve for me. I use ArtRage software. I start by sketching out the general outline on the first layer then start filling in with a basic color to build upon. Then, there’s all the details that follow. I honestly don’t have a certain style since I’m so new, I still experiment with different techniques and try to constantly learn.

As far as time frame goes, some seem to come together quite easily, maybe a few hours or so.  Others may take 10 hours or more. I never really timed myself and just work on my pieces when I can. I’m also always open to suggestions and pointers.

Question 8) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I’m 50 years old but my husband says I’m 12.  I say “thingy” a lot. I guess I just don’t want to grow up.  😀

Question 9) Is there something or someone you would love to draw that you haven’t yet?

Yes!  Hugh Laurie.  I need to pick a shot that shows off his blue eyes.

Question 10) What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in art?

I would say not to follow my path since I started drawing at 48 years old and work as a dental hygienist. 😀  But seriously, for years I’ve always said I can’t draw, I still have a hard time calling myself an “artist” because there is so much talent out there and I’m hard on myself. If art is something you want to pursue, then do it. Don’t wait 30 years like I did!

Question 11) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

To be honest, I’ve had a difficult time just accepting a new Doctor.  It’s tough when you lose your Doctor. But I’m warming up to the idea and I’m hoping they stay true to the Doctor’s character. 

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?  

I will probably continue to draw the 12th Doctor for quite a while until I either expand my horizons to include the other Doctors or just follow Peter’s career and draw any new characters he may play in the future. I also would like to attempt some landscapes and I’ve drawn one of my dogs so far.  My other one is feeling left out.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

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I have a Deviant Art page under the name Doctorwithaspoon as well as Tumblr. I am also on Twitter as @bmax67, and usually post my art on those sites. I would also like to say thank you to all of my supporters who are always so kind and sweet with their comments about my art. It’s much appreciated, and I’m glad other Twelve/Peter Capaldi fans appreciate my work.

Here’s a link to my DA page: https://www.deviantart.com/doctorwithaspoon/gallery/

Mackenzie: I’ll be sure to bookmark your DA page! Thank you so much for joining me today, Brenda. I wish you luck in your future, and can’t wait to see more of your art of Peter Capaldi!

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Book Spotlight: The Dim Zone by Chris Turner #TuesdayTeaser #scifi #technothriller

The Dim Zone

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How far is too far?

Mercenary Yul Vrean is hired by billionaire CEO Mathias of Cybercore to bring back alien samples from a remote planet in the Dim Zone. It’s a region rife with murderous space pirates and slavers, the warlike Zikri and Mentera.

This alien technothriller is full of deadly space battles, extreme action, bio-mechanical fusion, killer aliens, a touch of the bizarre and fantastic… it will certainly intrigue fans of Alien, Predator and The Matrix.

In a race for mechnobot technology, genius Sigmund Hresh has engineered a prototype for what may be the holy grail of AI. The uses of such technology vary from the sinister to the saintly. Yul and his space thugs may be the only link preventing the next galactic war and saving the human colonies from hostile aliens.

 

The Making of The Dim Zone

The booktrack audio component was based on many space classics with similar textures to Alien Covenant and Life. I created composite alien effects from mixes of digital samples and animals, using pitch effects and warping. All in all, an eerie backdrop to the alien planet Xeses, and later, the corridors inside the starship Orb of the Zikri hunters.

Enjoy The Dim Zone, the next book in The Timelost series:

Booktrack (free): https://bit.ly/2wtIf5B

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07CZ2KLG1