I love writing and I love pie. Given a choice between the two, I’m going for a third option:
My book friends.
Today, at the Louisville Author Event, my friend Cindy Calloway’s husband was kind enough to bake a pie, which Cindy brought me. Pecan. Home made. (delicious, by the way)
Background: Three years ago at my first signing, in Knoxville, TN, Cindy was a volunteer. She was fun, professional, passionate about books, and has turned into a wonderful friend.
Cindy and my other book friends are the reason I write. They’re readers, fans, friends, and allies. They show up. They support writers. They READ, a lot. They’re the best thing to ever happen to someone who decided to write a book at the age of 43, fell in love with writing, and sees no end in sight.
Without further ado, a few names of friends who were here today, and other days. I’ll update again and again as I naturally remember more people, but this is just a start.
That’s a representation of this week. I have an embarrassment of riches in friends, and I am incredibly thankful.
“I looked across the bar and saw her standing there, glass of wine in hand and her head thrown back in a laugh. At that moment, I could tell: she had a great personality.”
You might live to be one hundred years old and never hear that sentence, partially because no one will say it and you’ll be too busy arguing about expired coupons and the Good Old Days with the staff at Denny’s. I know because I’m *this* close to my senior discount and am already hearing the siren’s call of Early Bird Specials and Double Coupon Tuesday. I’m also a writer, and when I was in college the first time, (ahem), I was an artist. I understand that we’re visual creatures, and for those of us who love books, cover art matter. A lot.
Without a great cover, you’ll probably pass over the book. It’s a simple, brutal truth that there are good (and even great) books with terrible covers. A cover should tell– but not over tell– the story. It can be simple, or complex, or an image. It can be a person, character, or object that’s critical to the feel and arc of the book, but under no circumstances can it be of poor quality.
Book covers should transport us in much the same way that words do– but in the blink of an eye. I use concept art to express wonder, mystery– even fear and danger. Here are the covers for Heartborn and its sequel, Moonborn. In the details, there are constellations that have meaning, giving the reader something to search for as they go further down the path to my world.
With Moonborn, I want the sense of wonder, awe, and wide open skies, but with the added danger of a world tinged red by uncertainty. Is it blood? We’re trained to fear red. What does the red sky tell you?
I love color and motion, which is obvious with these covers. With that being said, I don’t only write YA, which led me to one of the more unusual cover decisions I had to make. I’d written a short story that was– for lack of a better term– zombie smut– but thoughtful, and intended to ask some uncomfortable questions about human sexuality. Whether or not I’ve succeeded is left to the reader, but the cover captured exactly what I wanted (Thanks, Staci!).
Once again, you might not know what it’s about, but it’s colorful, there’s an element of mystery, and it’s crisp. I tell other writers every time they ask me for advice– spend money on your editor, and spend money on your cover. If you don’t, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Moonborn will be available in three weeks, although the Grand Opening, so to say, will be at Utopiacon in Nashville. I’ll have plenty of copies, book candles, and swag. I highly recommend this event, check it out here: http://www.utopiacon.com/
Hope to see you there, and send me your favorite covers. What draws you to them? What turns you off? Let me know.
When my wife and I were dating, I made fried chicken. I made really good fried chicken, and my wife is somewhat of a connoisseur in that arena. She famously said, “I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken and I don’t want to know anyone who doesn’t like fried chicken.”
I could not agree more.
SO. I’m coming for you, Frankenmuth. I will have an empty belly, a stack of books, and an intense curiosity in sampling all of your wonderful fare.
What a fantastic summer. It can be summed up as follows: Lots of book events. Many new friends. Pie. Coffee. Running. Repeat as necessary. As evidence, I offer the following:
Because glasses are serious business in Wisconsin.
This is The Katy. She runs a blog, writes, and smiles. It’s her thing.
Kristine is a writer who asked me to be on her book cover as a gambler named Dallas. I don’t have a beard, and could not grow one overnight. I was rather let down by my own limitations.
Also, if you blather on about pie enough, readers and friends bring you pie. I’m not sure my life can get any better.
Friends also tell you about barbecue so good you want to high-five the staff. (Bucky Bee’s, Cave City, KY!)
And, of course, cheese curds in Wisconsin. *highfive* It’s been a darn fine summer. Lots of new faces, old friends, and great books. Look for two new audiobooks this fall (Heartborn and Halfway Hunted), performed by the excellent Julia Whelan (Gone Girl) and Erin Spencer (The Black Key). I’m shocked at how good they are. Acting is hard. Doing so through a microphone is just magical.
With apologies to my wife, who I disturbed with my revelation as she attempted to eat cheese and crackers in peace. I’m writing a new book and it’s unlike anything I’ve ever done. The feeling I have while writing this book is surreal– I had to dredge deep to find a similar sensation, and the closest experience has been on an occasion where I was playing basketball and felt like I couldn’t miss. Let me clarify, here– I was a remarkably average basketball player, but I was enthusiastic. However, on one night in 1985, I was unstoppable.
Just like right now. Falling to Her is already beautiful. It’s about a young woman named Livvy who is different from every other person who have ever lived. You see, she was born with half a heart, but she’s survived to the age of seventeen– and help is on the way, but not from anyplace you might expect. If you have to classify this book, it would be YA Paranormal, but that’s up to you. It will be available on September 1st, and I can also confirm something really exciting: Audible narrator of the year Julia Whelan will be performing the audio version. You may recognize her name from Gone Girl. Needless to say, I’m over the moon. Take a listen to some of her work here:Julia Whelan, Narrator of the Year
Julia of the Golden Voice
Then, there’s Livvy. Let’s meet her.
It’s an exciting year; filled with great news. Hope you’re excited. That’s all for now, I’m off to write. Cheers, Terry
It’s here. Halfway Bitten is available for Kindle, and priced at .99 for the new release. It’s the best novel I’ve written and I think you’ll love Carlie, and Wulfric, and Gran– and all of it. Here’s a taste of what you can expect:
The circus came to Halfway, and they brought the weird.
When clowns, vampires, and corpses start piling up in town, Carlie has to break away from her boyfriend, Wulfric, to bring her witchy skills to the table- or grill, as the case may be.
When the body of a young woman washes up in the lake, it unleashes a spiral of mystery that will bring Carlie, Gran, and Wulfric into a storm of magical warfare. Spells will fly. Curses will rain. Amidst it all, Carlie will make waffles, protect her town, and find out if a man from the distant past can join her in happy ever after.
With love and honor at stake, Carlie has no peer.
Click here for your copy, or to give to any fan of the paranormal, fantasy, or thrillers:
As promised, here are a few pics from the festivities. I had not one but two cosplayers who brought Saavin Roark (from Banshee) to life. It was a little bit surreal. Both Jessica and Abby were— well, they made me wonder. Was it just me, or was I a complete idiot when I was a teenager? These two young women were knowledgeable, dedicated, and far more professional than I could have been at that age. To sum up, it was amazing.
Here’s Jessica on day one:
She even made that cool Whisperskin armor. Amazing. Then, on day two, Abby took over:
I learned a great deal about cosplay. It’s fascinating, and the character of Saavin will continue to evolve as time goes on. Also, let’s face it: if I could wear Whisperskin dragon combat armor to a restaurant, I would. It’s just cool.
Without further ado, a few more cosplayers:
Armed. Deadly. Purple.
The creativity– not to mention sewing skills– is remarkable.
Dangerously close to being haute couture.
There was a sort of unbridled joy at the whole thing. I like that. You could see it in the faces of the people milling around, having a blast. These sisters, Serena and Lydia, sum that up in the way that they wandered around making friends and causing general shenanigans.
There were also vampire teeth, contacts, and other body mods that gave certain cosplayers an otherworldy air:
Why no officer, I haven’t been drinking. Alcohol, that is.
All in all, it was a one-of-a-kind weekend. I’ll be going back. I met a ton of new readers, learned about new books/comics/films, and discovered the wonder of Cons as a sort of social construct.
St. Louis. The heart of America. My kind of people. PennedCon was organized like an invasion, if that invasion featured lots of book swag and hilarity. In downtown St. Louis, there were lovely, iconic vistas.
The city was great, the hotel, nice and roomy. The event? Packed. We’re only missing a few things. That would be writers and readers. Fortunately, there were plenty of both. Several writers (who are new friends FOR LIFE) treated me to their real personalities. You know, the side of someone that allows them to cheerfully write a scene in which someone gets sort of, uh, murdered. And eaten. Or something. Case in point: M. Stratton. By all reports, a delightful mother of sixteen children in Central Arizona, she lives on a compound that was manufactured by the Anasazi people during their last big push to topple the Aztecs. I’m told her home was intended to be one of the first time shares, but the arrival of the Spaniards sort of killed that off. Here she is posing with me. Isn’t she nice?
But then the gloves came off. She unleashed her– well, all of her. As well as unleashing author Evelyne Stone, who has lovely bone structure and a penchant for murder. And funny faces. And other crimes. Under the phrasing, “Fork you!”, allow me to introduce the other side of these, ahh, fine women.
So, that’s sort of what we’re dealing with. And I found it wonderful. Two authors who have been personally kind to me were there, and I’d like to thank them- Aleatha Rommig and Denise Grover Swank. They’ve both dispensed excellent advice to me over the past two years. So, thanks. The fans were amazing. There’s something special about being among book people. They think like I do about just how much books mean to them. It’s a club born of a passion that is wholly internal, and it permeated the room during our signing. Here’s Kris Pittman, who worked hard to take care of the authors all weekend. She was one of many people (her partner in crime Mary Beth another ) who made the days fly by in a blur of books and fun. Take note of how slender I look in my tasteful aqua shirt. Don’t act like it doesn’t impress you that I can own that color.
I gave away some jewelry. A fan named Joy won. She was great. We took three pictures, two of which involved her having both eyes open. Due to current existing law, I won’t post the one that is less flattering, but here is a nice shot of her with her loot:
Feel the excitement. Indeed. Moving on. I had the pleasure of meeting and defeating author T.K. Carter in single, unlimited combat. Our dispute arose over a minor fact about the Thirty Year War– I disagree with her assessment of the Holy Roman Empire– and the only logical thing to do was duke it out in the ballroom, chairs moved aside. There were no rules. And no mercy. Here we are during happier times:
Sadly, TK suffered a pulled muscle in her Froslingothpercus (It’s Latin, trust me) and will be unable to refute my claim of victory for some time. Godspeed, warrior. You acquitted yourself well, but my Five Finger Death Punch was simply too lethal. So, I gained a ton of new friends, new readers, and had the best possible time I could while still wearing pants. To my table partner MC Cerny: Thank you for tolerating me. That is all. Because classy.
More to come soon! Thanks, PennedCon. I’ll be back. Cheers, Terry PennedCon
Penned Con. This Weekend. St. Louis. It’s so American it makes my heart sing. About one hundred writers will descend on the Gateway City to sign books, mingle with readers, and cause some mild shenanigans. Here’s the link:Penned Con 2015
In addition to signing books, I have a short list of things to achieve while in town: 1) Eat steak. 2) Watch the Braves kick the tar out of the Cardinals (via my phone, of course). 3) Repeat step one. 4) Nap. After signing. 5) Take pictures with friends, share pictures on social media, and then remark on how round my head looks with a fresh haircut. 6) Cake. I’ll be giving away some of the cool jewelry that Kelli Clark Brown made for my Halfway Dead series.
That’s about it. If you’re from St. Louis, and you have something I shouldn’t miss– I’m all ears. Cheers! Terry