Happy Pride Month!

I love celebrating Gay Pride Month every June!

I am not even going to address the asinine haters who question why we need Pride Month. I want my comments to go to the LGBTQIA+ community.

Yeah – we need it because we still confront oppression. We celebrate the past and those who fought for our rights! We must never forget that they literally risked their lives for it. And we remind ourselves that the fight continues. The last couple years showed us all too well that sexism, racism, classicism, antisemitism, all the hateful isms – plus Islamophobia and homophobia – still exist. Pride is a time when we tell the world we will continue to resist and fight.

It’s also a time for personal celebration. For all of us to remember the power of coming out, or to help those in the process of coming out. I went to my first Pride Celebration in the early 1990s in Denver. I loved the feeling of community, of not being alone with my thoughts, my dreams, and my struggles. That holds true today! And Pride lets the community gather to celebrate who we are, to to help us all feel less afraid and alone.

So Happy Pride Month! Let’s Fight and Celebrate and Love!! Together.

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Savannah, GA

Paul and I returned this week from a vacation in Savannah, GA. I wanted to share some thoughts about being a writer, and how a trip like this means I am “working” even when chilling and having a great time!

It was a family vacation/memorial trip in honor of my dad, who passed away in Dec. 2017. Dad loved to take the entire family on vacation, so we wanted to remember him by taking a family vacation and chose Savannah. My mom, brother, sister and her family, Paul and I rented a house together. Because we wanted to feel my father’s presence, we included going to a lantern festival, which was an amazing experience. So many people gathered to remember loved ones and promote peace and togetherness. The candles floating across the water reminded me of dad, all of us of dad, and brought him into our presence in a very meaningful way. Such intense emotional and spiritual events in my life shape the way I write about such things in my fiction. At some point, I know I will recall that moment when I write, and my mind will transport me back there – the character’s view of the world will merge with my own and flow onto the paper. And Dad will again be present, guiding part of my story.

Savannah is also a charming and lovely city, full of rich history – both frightening and wonderful. I can’t imagine that this setting won’t make it into a future novel. I loved the older houses, the intense cemeteries, and the vibrant culture of the city. It’s liberal feel amid the conservative South called to me, too. The way the city has deliberately nurtured and promoted the maintenance of its historic feeling is crucial. And I appreciated that most places we visited did not attempt to – literally – white wash the history. They incorporated the history of slavery and all its horror. It was raw and genuine. For all its beauty and charm, Savannah has a dark and dreadful past that needs to be learned, remembered, and understood. All of this history, too, will make it into a story at some time.

And then there is the haunted nature of the town. At every turn, in all the old houses, cemeteries, parks, and public places, ghosts haunt the landscape. We took an amazing ghost tour, and heard about hauntings around town as we toured other locations and just enjoyed ourselves. No writer of horror could escape the inspiration these tales can give! Chills went up and down my spine, often from true stories of living people doing awful things and then the hauntings that ensued. If you like haunted places, you have to visit Savannah.

Even if you’re not sensitive to the paranormal, you should visit Savannah. It is a wonderful and amazing place. I know there are plenty of very good reasons to boycott Georgia these days. I don’t disagree. But Savannah should be exempt, because it was a welcoming and lovely place for a vacation in remembrance of my father.

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The Muse – an Example

The concept of “the muse” fascinates people – readers and writers alike. As if a spirit takes control of an author’s mind and body, the theory goes that a story emerges to demand attention, and the author must comply with its wishes. This idea applies to an entire novel all the way to a short story, from one character within a plot line to a whole host of characters acting out.

I wish I had a concrete explanation for this occurrence. Or a mystical revelation about it. But I don’t. I only know the truth of it – that perhaps an idea popped into my head that I own, but then the story and/or characters take it in different directions. I certainly know I control it, that it is my creation. But I also know that it goes astray sometimes; that characters and ideas decide something outside my original concept, and I lack the power to return to what I wanted.

Here’s my most recent example for you.

In January, it came time for me to start my next novel. I decided to continue the tales of Simon the Elf, because Santa Is a Vampire had recently been published and I talked to a number of people about its sequel, including those at my release party. But whenever I started to outline the plot, my vampires from the Realm of the Vampire Council interfered. I ignored them. I did research for my Simon book. I outlined it. At every step, those vampires reminded me that I left them off at the beginning of a war at the end of The Vampire’s Protege. How could I?!

I explained to them, over and over, that first we needed to do the reprint of Book III. Then I would return to their new story. So I tried to go back to Simon. But they were angry. Insistent. To the point I finally gave up. All the work for Simon’s sequel went back in the drawer, and out came the work for the fifth book in the Realm of the Vampire Council.

Every logical thought, every concept of where I wanted to go, pointed to Simon. And I’m still excited about that sequel. But the muse had other ideas. The muse pushed and pushed until I obeyed. So here I am, currently working on Book V, The Vampire’s War. Happy to say, the vampires are happy again. Or at least they stopped pestering me and instead launched into their latest stories.

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A New Interview!

Howdy, folks! I am pleased to share with you an interview I did with M. D. New, a fellow NineStar Press author. I particularly loved the personal nature of it. Instead of a mere plug for my books or our writing, we dove into more of what makes me tick and what got me into gay horror, and particularly vampires.

Enjoy! Damian Serbu Interview with M. D. Neu

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WritesCast Podcast and Me!

The WritesCast Network is a podcast collective by writers, for writers. R. R. Campbell recently hosted me on it! I was nervous because I don’t always enjoy hearing my own voice, etc. I mean, I write – to myself and then people read it. I don’t broadcast! But! It was so relaxed I really enjoyed it, and the time went by so fast.

We discussed the editing process, and specifically about self editing. While the target audience is other authors, I think readers will find it interesting to dive into this part of the process, from the perspective of authors.

Thanks for checking it out: WriteCast Podcast with Damian Serbu.

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Writing Update

Hey, Everyone,

Here is the latest edition of, “What in the hell are you up to, Damian Serbu?!”

First, I continue to chug away on publicity, especially since The Vampire’s Quest came out in February! The reviews have been great so far, even better than the first time it was released.

I am also in the midst of editing two other previously published books, which are part of my vampire series. I want to submit them to NineStar for review, the first hopefully this summer. That one is undergoing such a major revision, I doubt it will smell much like it’s original by the time it gets to you.

And I am writing – wait for it – the fifth book in the Realm of the Vampire Council series: The Vampire’s War! This will be the one to follow The Vampire’s Protege. I struggled for a couple months about what to write next, in terms of a new and original piece. It was so hard to choose between my vampires and Simon the Elf. I wish I had all the time in the world to dabble in both! But the vampires won out, because there is an impending war they must fight.

Thanks for checking in! Damian

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Competition or Colleague?

I have read quite a bit lately about authors and their relationship to one another. Specifically, the debate emerges about whether to view one another as the competition, or as colleagues. One view prompts nasty comments, spite, and vitriol. The other brings mutual support, uplift, and encouragement. I suppose from the way I just framed the argument, you already know my point of view.

I disagree with people who say this reality sprang from contemporary social media. While that has heightened the exposure to nastiness and brought it into public light, from the beginning of the publishing world authors have gone after one another and existed in tension. I get it. There are only so many readers, publishers, and reviewers out there, and we authors compete for their attention - or more accurately their dollars.

Yet I also believe enough readers exist for us to spread the wealth. I guess I don't want to build my career and following by clawing over the backs of others. I prefer to help each other as authors, with promotion, encouragement, and the understanding that we all struggle in similar ways.

For example, I recently did a podcast that will come out in April with Ryan Campbell, a fellow NineStar Press author. (Check him out at www.rrcampbellwrites.com!) We chatted about strategies for self editing, because he broadcasts podcasts that discuss the writing process, best practices, and other advice for authors. To me, his work represents the best of a win-win situation: he gets publicity as the host, and when the authors advertise their participation on his podcast. And the author gains an audience with other authors and people who listen to his podcast. It represents the best of worlds to me, and a great example of supporting each other as authors!

This doesn't mean that my reviews of other works will always be positive, because I also want to be honest. But even there, I strive for nuance and kindness as much as possible. Our world today contains a lot of nastiness and hate. A lot. I want the author community to avoid it as much as possible.

Peace out. Damian

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THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST Reviews

Time to share a bit of feedback now that THE VAMPIRE’S QUEST hit the shelves, or e-format, whichever the case. 🙂 So many nice comments this time; I have been honored by the feedback. Enjoy a couple quotations below, as well as the link to each review!

“Oh, heaven’s above. Tears hit me from the first chapter.” The review of LoveBytesReviews was moving! A great read into Thomas and Xavier’s relationship!

“Good #LGBT horror is hard to find. So that’s why I’m excited to see Damian Serbu’s latest vampire story coming out. It’s also why I want to share it with you. Gay or straight–you’re sure to get chills with this one.” Rick R. Reed is one of my favorite authors, so this comment especially meant a lot!

E. M. Hamill is a fellow NineStar Press author and prolific reviewer, with these kind words: “I did enjoy the twist of an historical figure being a vampire, and the major plot twist I suspected after a while, but it was very well done.”

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Oscars Time

Those of you who have followed me for a while know that, every year, Paul and I watch all of the Academy Awards Best Picture nominees. I like to post my ranking of them, despite being an amateur movie goer and having no credentials to do so other than I like to do it. 🙂 So, here goes!

“Bohemian Rhapsody”: I loved this portrayal of Mercury, which grounded the viewer in his humanity even after he became a superstar. Superb acting and a pleasure to watch, so much so you’d never know the crazy story behind getting it made, and finally out to the public. Engrossing, lively, and emotional.

“Black Panther”: The snooty Academy finally got, or maybe was pressured and guilted into, including a “popular” movie in the Best Picture category. One of my favorite superhero movies, it deserved the acknowledgment. It was so popular because it was so extraordinarily well done.

“The Favourite”: Definitely the most quirky of the nominees this year! Funny and sad, psychotic and mesmerizing. I was especially impressed with the use of camera angles, blurring, and other techniques to give a sense of mood beyond just watching the actors or setting. Speaking of the acting – wow! Three absolutely amazing performances.

“Vice”: Despite some of his less than wholesome manners, Bale knows how to act. He hits it out of the park as Cheney. How they managed to make the story of people seizing power and trying to destroy democracy into a comedy is a talent.

“The Green Book”: Another well acted and authentic story. It’s coming in fifth for me speaks more to the quality of the other films than as a negative for it. I disagree with the criticism it has received for being a feel good film – because it tells a true story and does it well. Still a powerful message and lovely film.

“Roma”: Again with the Hollywood weirdness that it was even an issue this came from Netflix, because it’s a great movie. The mood it sets is powerful, with an intense story. I’m not old school enough to appreciate the black and white filming, though.

“BlacKkKlansman”: The true story here is amazing, and powerful. Intense movie that keeps you tense throughout. Looonngggg preachy scenes put me to sleep, though.

“A Star is Born”: Not the most popular opinion to rank this one last. Cooper and Gaga were grand in it. But did we really need a fourth remake of the same story? How about something original?

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Cover Reveal – The Vampire’s Quest!

I am so excited to reveal the cover art for The Vampire’s Quest! It releases next week, so we’re building up to the moment! Xavier and Thomas can’t wait to share with you the updated and better version of Book II in the Realm of the Vampire Council Series!

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