Summer Thoughts: Stephen King’s IT and Family

Hi, Everyone,

Sorry for the longer delay than usual in posting on my blog. This summer was busy! And, frankly, sometimes I suffer from wondering what exactly I should write, because I don’t want to drone on about ideas that no one cares about but me. A couple thoughts have been rumbling around in my mind, though, so I offer the following summer thoughts for your enjoyment!

I went old school in my most recent reading endeavor, with Stephen King’s It. Full confession, which seems painfully obvious even if unsaid: I was inspired to read it by the movie last fall, which was really, really good. And further confession: my sick, twisted, horror mind was totally attracted to Pennywise in the movie. (Bill Skarsgard being underneath that make up doesn’t hurt the cause here, either.) I consider myself a casual Stephen King fan. I have not read everything he ever wrote; I find it enjoyable and creepy, but not so engrossing that I have to read him all the time; and sometimes his stuff drags a little, or offends a little, which I think is the point, but still . . . . Anyway, I am reading It, which is absolutely enormous, in case you didn’t know – and what strikes me more than anything is the way King uses horror to tell a story about humanity. Too many people still stereotype the horror genre as nothing but a quick scare and things to spook you. I think King, in particular, gets that label. But It provides the perfect example for why those stereotypes should be thrown in the trash. Underneath the horror that haunts Derry, we see humans coming together, forging a bond, struggling to survive, growing up/coming of age, and deeply caring for one another. That message drives the story, not the horror. It’s the emotion, the nurturing of each other that compels the reader to keep going through the over 1,100 pages. Bravo, Stephen King. Finally, I am also enjoying a throw back to the mid-1980s.

My other summer thought has to do with family, since I spent a lot of time with them this summer. I know I have mentioned this before, and I hope my books in some way get at it, too, but life is about enjoying the journey and spending time with loved ones. Each and every visit meant so much to me, and I always tried to just sit with people and embrace their company. My dad passed away last December, so perhaps I felt more bonded and nostalgic this summer about family than usual. Sitting with loved ones and remembering him has been much needed therapy for us all. Part of the reason my blog suffered more than usual was because of this family time all summer long. I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Until next time, which I promise will come sooner, love you all and thanks for reading.

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Writing Update

Hi, All,

Just a quick update on my various projects for this blog post. Thanks for reading, and have a great summer!!

Santa Is a Vampire: This is under contract with NineStar Press and scheduled for a late November release. So it is chilling until the time for editing arrives. It will be fun to celebrate the holidays with this release. It stands alone, unrelated to any other series or story I have before written. Part comedy, part horror, and, according to Paul, “the most disturbing thing you’ve written.” 🙂

The Vampire’s Quest: Book II in The Realm of the Vampire Council. This updated re-release in my original vampire series will hit the shelves in December! (The holidays are going to be BUSY with publicity this year!) It, too, is sitting around and waiting for editing to commence with the press. Like The Vampire’s Angel, it underwent a thorough revamp and will continue my work with NineStar Press.

So what am I currently writing? I am editing and totally redoing a ghost story that I previously published. In fact, that is my main project right now. It’s too far away from submitting it anywhere, so that’s all I can say for now. More details to come as I wrap my mind round where this one is headed.

And then, the idea for my fifth vampire novel, which will be the sequel to The Vampire’s Protege and part of the Realm of the Vampire Council series is percolating. I wanted to wait on it until after I finish the above ghost story rewrite, but ideas are bursting out, and so it is under way. The muse control me, not the other way around.

Thanks for checking in. Be well.

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A New Review!

Hi, All,

This summer has proven busy, with family visits, a couple trips, and making sure to fit in some writing between the insanity.

But I wanted to take a moment to share with you a new review of The 
Vampire’s Angel!  Thanks for checking it out; follow the link below to the Love Bytes website.

Love Bytes Review – The Vampire’s Angel!

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Pride Month

Happy Pride Month, everyone!

Yes, Pride still matters. A great deal. As long as homophobia exists, in the form of LGBTQ people being attacked, beaten, fired, discriminated against, thrown out of their families, executed in oppressive countries – I would continue this depressing list, but I think you get the idea – then we need to celebrate Pride. To show the world that we exist, will not go away, and will continue to champion and fight for equality.

I went to my first pride in the early 1990s, I think 1992, in Denver. It liberated me in so many ways to gather with other people who shared my sexuality or supported our community. I have not missed a Pride Celebration since then, because it reminds me of the importance of being out, of working for equality, and making sure that every generation pushes us forward and understands what it took to get as far as we have!

To be sure, forces threaten us worldwide, including an intensification of anti-LGBTQ forces in the United States of late. But our love and community can overpower it when we come together to demand our rights.

Happy Pride! See you on the 24th in Chicago!

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Status Round Up on Writing

Hi, All,

I wanted to give a quick summary of where things stand with my various projects, based on separate inquires and such sent to me. I thought a catch all blog would be the easiest solution to providing answers!

Currently, both The Vampire’s Protege and the reprint of The Vampire’s Angel are available! NineStar Press published them in both e-versions and paperback. You can order them from the press website, Amazon, or a bookstore anywhere! I have enjoyed the responses to Protege; I wasn’t sure how people would react to a fiend of a vampire, but so far a lot of people are enjoying him! And it’s been fun to re-acquaint myself with Angel, going back to my first novel. I’m glad we streamlined it, too, to make it read a bit better and contain more action.

I have two future projects in the works, both to be published in late November/early December of this year. One will be the reprint of The Vampire’s Quest, the sequel to Angel. Like Angel , NineStar and I edited it a lot – tightened it up. And – I had to make sure I was consistent between the three vampire novels in terms of the Vampire Council rules. So it will be fun to share that one with everyone again! Plus, a stand alone, completely new novel is coming – Santa Is a Vampire. This is a satirical, dark horror novel, written from the point of view of a captive, smart ass elf. Santa is NOT a good person, as only Simon will be able to explain to all of you.

Finally, I am currently working on two other projects. One reprint, of what was Secrets in the Attic but that will come out with a much better title. And the next in line with the vampire novels! Not much to report there – except a vampire war is brewing, and all the factions may make this an ugly scene.

Happy summer! We planted our deck flowers last weekend, so it feels warm and happy here in Chicagoland!

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Hi, All,

I have super exciting news to share with you! This week, NineStar Press and I entered an agreement to publish Santa Is a Vampire, with a scheduled release of late November 2018. Just in time for the holidays! Those of you who have followed me for a while know that I previously had agreed with another press to publish it, but that went kablooey before it came out. So I an thrilled that Simon the Elf, our narrator for the journey, found this home. This novel is a departure from my usual stuff – no romance here, and much darker than my typical stuff. But I mix in a lot of humor, too. I consider it a satirical horror story, which makes for a wild and crazy time. I’ll keep you posted as we move along.

Happy Memorial Day!  Damian

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Book Release Party Today in Chicago!

Just a quick reminder to join me today, May 11th at 6:30 to celebrate the release of The Vampire’s Protege and the re-release of The Vampire’s Angel. Come to City Lit Books in Chicago, 2523 N. Kedzie Blvd.  We’ll do a quick reading, a Q&A, and then I’ll sign books.

I am excited to share this moment with people. It’s been a while since my last release party. So today finds me with a lot of nervous energy and crazy emotions swirling around! Because, in general, I am not a personality who LOVES the spotlight. So getting up in front of everyone is a tad nerve-racking for me. But I also really enjoy sharing with everyone, and in particular doing a reading. So it’s also fun. Your support means the world to me.

See you tonight!!

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The Vampire’s Angel Reviewed

Hey, Everyone,

When I am not writing, most of my energy right now goes toward preparing for my May 11th Book Release Party at City Lit Books here in Chicago!

But I wanted to share a very kind review of the re-release of The Vampire’s Angel from Amos Lassen. Amos has a history of being much too kind to my writing, for which I am always appreciative!!  Please enjoy!

Reviews by Amos Lassen: The Vampire’s Angel

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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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