Book Release Party – May 11th!

Hi, Everyone,

I wanted to announce my book release party! We will celebrate the release of both The Vampire’s Angel and The Vampire’s Protege!! I will do a reading, sign books, and we can all hang and chat for a while.

It will be on May 11th at 6:30 p.m. at City Lit Books in Chicago, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd.

In addition to my books being available, please come to support a locally owned bookstore – buy a bunch of your reading materials for the coming summer!!!!

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How I Respond to Reviews

A recent interview that I completed asked a question that has come up a few times of late. Also, a forum of authors in which I participated contemplated the same thing. When another reader asked me the identical question, I decided to spend a little time on it. What is this mysterious inquiry? People want to know how I respond to reviews of my novels, both positive and negative, both from professional reviewers and from normal readers. So, here goes!

It all begins with one of the best pieces of advice that I received in graduate school. A professor emphasized to us: never, ever – never – respond to reviews. She talked in the context of being a professional historian, but I think the idea applies more broadly. Her point, with which I agree, is that you cannot win such an argument. Even if the reviewer made a mistake, was malicious, or ignorant, they can respond to you and make you look petty. Plus, a response from the writer only calls additional attention to the negative review. In very few cases have I ever seen a hardcore, important reason to respond to a reviewer. Otherwise, I take the advice to let it go. Don’t dwell on it, don’t personalize it too deeply.

Next, my analogy for a novel is to think of it as a piece of art. Once the artist finishes and hangs it on the wall or puts it out into the world, people will interpret it as they may. Some will love it. Some hate it. Some just kind of like it. As the artist, you lose control of those opinions. Beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder, and the same goes for a novel. While it feels personal, because as a writer you poor months, years, and tons of sweat and tears into your creation, into something deeply emotional and personal, at some point you release it into the world. Opening up to that vulnerability is a little scary, but you have to brace yourself and allow it to flow. Allow people their opinions, and open yourself to the reality that you no longer control it.

In particular, that attitude helps me to deal with negative reviews. One person, or a few people, disliked what I created. Does that make it shit? Only in their eyes, I don’t have to own that. Sometimes, I may even get a helpful hint or advice from a negative review to think about in my future writing. Otherwise I just dismiss it as one individual’s reaction. Whether or not I agree, you have to go with the flow.

Sometimes, my favorite reviews are mediocre reviews. Where they liked something, but also disliked another aspect. You can really think about your writing and the process from something thoughtful like that. You see where you reached someone, but also what failed to connect with them. A lot of times it boils down to the reader’s connection with your characters. As in life, some people like a person, some don’t. The same is true here – where a reader likes the story, maybe likes one main character, but never connects with a second character. It mirrors life in that regard. I see that as part of the dance with your audience.

And, it seems rather obvious, positive reviews are exhilarating and warm my heart. When I really touch someone with something I wrote, or thoroughly entertain them for the time they spend with my novel, then it motivates to write more, and to keep at it. It feels good, warm and fuzzy. It reminds you that writing only becomes a complete process after you let readers embrace it, which feels stronger when someone liked what you created. One glowing review, if you really focus on it, can negate three or four negative responses.

Bottom line – professional reviews, goodreads reviews, wherever and from whomever reviews appear, it all goes into what makes a novel live beyond the moment it comes off the presses. And I love that part of the living document, even when it stings.

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“Love, Simon” and “Fellow Travelers”

Hi, All,

I wanted to share my gay cultural weekend with you! On Friday, we went to the Chicago showing of “Fellow Travelers,” the gay opera based on the novel of the same name and about the Lavender Scare of the 1950s. Then today, we headed out to see the movie “Love, Simon.” I found both experiences incredibly powerful and moving.

It was revolutionary to sit through a contemporary opera about a event in American history that felt so personal. The singing was absolutely incredible – a first rate story, a solid adaptation of the original book, and a moving tragedy. It proved to be a thought provoking opera, as only opera can deliver – my only regret is that it has such a limited run in Chicago that we can’t go see it again.

As for “Love, Simon,” it, too, moved me in a powerful way. Who would have thought, even a decade ago, that we would arrive at a moment when a mainstream movie with a solid budget would deliver such a matter of fact portrayal of coming out? I say matter of fact because it does not involve a right-wing hate filled attack or angst, and the people surrounding Simon are accepting of it. Yet it reminds us all that, even when more typical than ever before in 2018, it remains a profound moment for the person coming out. The emotion was powerful, the acting superb, and the story well told.

With apologies for being that uncle at the family reunion: who would have thought in the early 1990s as I was coming out that we would arrive at this moment? A gay opera and major movie all in one weekend, all prompting us to think about being gay in America and what it means to be out and proud. Now more than ever, it is important that we take these reminders and moments to reflect on the past and forge ahead in the future, to maintain the power of the continued struggle toward equality.

It made the release of The Vampire’s Angel this week a little sweeter, to maybe play even a small part in this cultural force. Thanks for reading, Damian

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Cover Art and Updates

I’ve been busy with some travel and other work, so forgive me that this blog contains too much new information!

First, one of my favorite parts of having a short story in an anthology or upcoming novel about to be released is the cover art reveal.  I love to see an artist convey the notion of a book in a wonderful design, and NineStar Press does such a great job.  So, here we go!

I have a short story about a ghost and new college kid coming out in March as part of this volume:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Also, the cover art for the NineStar re-release of the new and improved The Vampire’s Angel is done!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next, as some of you know, at one point I almost published a novel entitled Santa Is a Vampire but creative differences led the press and me to go in different directions. I am submitting it once again for consideration, so we’ll see where that goes. Wish it luck!!

Finally, SAVE THE DATE: On May 11th at 6:30 p.m. I will be hosting a release party for both The Vampire’s Protege and The Vampire’s Angel at City Lit Books in Chicago!  More details will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

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“Teacher’s Pet” Anthology

Hey, Everyone,

With everything going on in life, both personal and professional, I’ve been remiss in announcing something else exciting to me!

NineStar Press is preparing publication of an anthology of short stories with the theme, “Teacher’s Pet.” I am totally jazzed up that they accepted one of my short stories to include! I wrote it a while ago and submitted to a call for stories. It was rejected then, and I had put it aside until I realized that it fit the theme for NineStar, and now it will see the light of day again!!

It’s a ghost story, set at an unknown university. The ghost visits a student in the middle of the night . . . That’s all you get to know! I’ll update everyone when the anthology is released!

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New Years Updates/Announcements

Hi, All,

First, I recognize that I have been out of contact for far too long. I left for the Holiday Break, intending to come back right after the New Year, but life had other plans. Below, find news about my novels, as well as a brief tribute and explanation for my absence.

I continue to have exciting news about my novels, and especially my relationship with NineStar Press! As The Vampire’s Protege continues to receive positive reviews and reach readers, we are actively preparing for the re-release of The Vampire’s Angel, coming this March! I want to emphasize the following: this is not just sending the same novel out into the universe! No – NineStar and I completely revamped and streamlined The Vampire’s Angel into an even better version! And –  drum roll, please – NineStar and I signed an agreement to republish The Vampire’s Quest! Again, this will constitute an improved and updated version, with the goal of NineStar eventually releasing all the vampire books, and continuing them into the future!!

On a side note, I write with a heavy heart this month, as my being out of touch stemmed from the passing of my father on December 26th.  He had been in declining health for sometime and suffered from dementia. In so many ways, for him and my mom, his dying eased a lot of pain, suffering, and difficulties. Still, sending such a loving man off was not easy. He loved my family so much! His acceptance of my coming out in the early 90s best exemplifies the kind, generous man that supported all of us through the years. I miss him. I loved him to the moon and back.

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Holiday Wishes and a Lambda Review

Hi, All,

Before I get to my holiday wishes for everyone, I am super excited to share a review of The Vampire’s Protege from Lambda Literary!!  This is the first time I am reviewed on their website as an exclusive about my novel, thus the reason for my excitement!!  Here is the Link: Lambda Review.

Even more importantly, I want to wish all of you a Happy Holidays! In whatever form you celebrate them, or if you choose to ignore them altogether, I wish you peace and happiness. Take time to spend with whatever you see as your family, your friends, and surround yourself with love. This time of year brings with it the chance to reflect on both the good and bad of the year.

I myself faced some challenges, tremendous sadness in my family, and not a small amount of anxiety about the shit show that is American politics right now (though how about the Doug Jones win for a bit of a lift!). Yet I saw the publication of my latest novel, felt the support and love of family and friends, and spent a lot of time enjoying life’s pleasures amidst its difficulty.

Everyone lives the life of a novel every year. That’s what so many of us write about as authors! Thank you, as always, for checking out my blog. I’ll see you in the New Year!

Damian

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The Vampire’s Protege – More Reviews!

Hi, All,

As we find ourselves immersed in the holidays, don’t forget to buy those you love a copy of The Vampire’s Protege!! Even grandma needs a little gay vampire sex to liven up the season.

Speaking of Charon and the gang, here are a couple of recent news items about it (click the hyperlinks to read the entire story):

The Windy City Times, my hometown gay rag – reviewed it recently: “It’s a pity summer is over: The Vampire’s Protege is a fun beach read or sick day indulgence, and you will want to read more of this story as it continues.”

And! WHOO HOO! It received a 2017 Rainbow Awards honorable mention, as well as a flattering comparison to Anne Rice: “The central character, Charon, reminds me a lot of LeStat De Lioncourt – Anne Rice, with his bratty self, doing things his own way with disregard for the rules.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!!

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Thanksgiving and Updates

Happy Thanksgiving!

As I try to remind myself, I want to encourage all of us at Thanksgiving to take time to reflect on what makes us thankful.  Frankly, the last year challenged that in a myriad of ways. For me, politics went in the dumper and continues to scare the hell out of me. And I have an elderly father in the last days of his life. But if I dwell on the misery – well, I miss that life usually delivers both ends of the spectrum. So I think about the love in my life, with my family, from Paul to the dogs to my families in Colorado and Michigan to my family of close friends. I think about my current good health. I even stopped to watch a plane land today in Chicago – thinking of the amazing beauty as that machine seemingly glided through the air without effort, and with a nice sunny blue backdrop on this chilly Chicago day. Yeah – I a lot has me worried and a little down, but a lot has me encouraged, and happy, too. Here’s to hoping that balance exists for you, too.

Speaking of something happy – reviews and reactions to The Vampire’s Protege continue to come in.  Please follow the links below for more information:

Another review was recently posted! This one includes the reviewer doing a quick Q&A with me, so that’s pretty cool! Follow the hyperlinks to view the review and the back and forth.  Elisabeth Hammill’s Review. Q&A with Elisabeth.

And I did a radio interview this week, which offers about 45 minutes of a conversation I had with Tony Kay about The Vampire’s Protege! My kind friends and family think it sounds good. I was nervous and it’s one of those things about the sound of your own voice . . . Ugh. That being said, it was fun to go into more depth about my characters and fiction writing in general. Anyway, you decide what you think!  Here’s the link: ArtistFirst-SerbuInterview

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Happy Unicorn Halloween!!

Happy Halloween, everyone!!! One of the best times of year for a horror writer, to be sure.

I travel to Colorado soon, to join my three-year-old niece for trick-or-treating on Tuesday. Can’t wait! As presider over our family affair, Nugget decreed that we will all dress as unicorns this year. Even her grandma, who will do it kicking and screaming, but do it nonetheless at the behest of her granddaughter, must comply. Now, unicorn would not necessarily be my first choice, but then again, a rainbow of colors and a great fantasy creature – what’s not to like from a gay speculative fiction/fantasy/horror writer point of view?!

Try to take some time to celebrate like you’re three again. Jumping into a fantasy world is important for adults, too.

And while I’m at it, how about another shameless plug? Because The Vampire’s Protege contains some hot, sexy, and horrific Halloween scenes in it. Just ask Charon. But if you see him out and about on the 31st, I’d head the other direction . . .

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