Virtual author event with Black Birch Books in Wasilla 03/28/2020

DDoQ Virtual Author Event

I am doing an author event this Saturday (March 28th, 2020) at Black Birch Books in Wasilla, AK from 2pm to 5pm. With the coronavirus situation, this simply can’t happen in person (mostly, a few people can come and visit, provided we keep our distance). As an alternative, we’ve decided to do a virtual event on Facebook. You can call in to order a book, or ask questions curbside pickup will be available. I’ll share MORE details as we roll into this.

I recognize this appears self-serving —Dave gets to make money off of a virtual event. NO. Not the point. Today, as I sit here, looking at my community, full of fear and uncertainty, I’m trying to understand how my favorite places will still be around in a year. My knee-jerk reaction is to think about restaurants, the most visibly and notably,  hard hit, but we can’t overlook our other critical gathering places and services. With that in mind, MOST of the royalties on every copy of the Dark Queen of Darkness sold will be going to Black Birch Books. It’s a small gesture for an indie author such as myself, but you have no idea how much Black Birch has done or does do for our community and this is the best I can offer to give back.

When I did my very first author event ever, ever, with Black Birch Books, I found something I didn’t expect. A community gathering place. I met people there who I wouldn’t normally find an opportunity to connect with. It was absolutely wonderful. I loved the fact that I got to meet and talk with unique, interesting people about books and writing. The best part is that this was an environment without judgment or expectation. You are who you are and that’s great. This place is a gem.

My author event with Black Birch Books is ON, just online. Block out time from 2-5pm on Saturday, March 28th to join in. I’ll do some reading, answer questions, and sign books.

I have not fallen off the face of the planet

I haven’t written a post on this blog in about a month and to be honest, I’m not sure I have a lot to say. I’ve been busy with work and housework and cooking and writing and writing about cooking etc…

That said, I AM still working on The Dark Queen of Darkness. I’ve started sending out sneak peaks of the first two halves of the book – The third half pivots and focuses on different characters and I’m only about half-way done. What’s interesting about this book, aside from it being the hardest I’ve ever written, is that it actually has a theme. To date, I’ve written books where no solid theme emerges. I like what I’ve done so far with the other work, but this one stands out in a way that, regardless of where it takes me (or more likely doesn’t take me), I’m proud of the work AND what it says.

The main theme is the fallacy of ‘true love’. Not that a true love isn’t possible, no not that, no I’m talking about the fallacy of the sort of fairy tale ‘true love’ that causes folks to go starry-eyed at first sight. Sure, we sometimes have those moments where our heads turn and the word ‘wow’ drops from our conscious mind even as far as out lips. What I’m really going after is pedestal upon which we (Americans) put love, and as a consequence the idea of marriage, because it’s not reality. To be honest, I can’t think of a better way to talk about reality than a satirical fairy tale.

An interesting side effect is that by focusing on that theme, the writing of character and plot feels somehow easier or at least more fruitful. I made everyone a caricature (which somehow made most of the characters stronger, still working that out), loosely based the plot around a standard fairy-tale trope, and then set to focusing on the theme. Of course, I did go a bit further in that I’ve spent a considerable amount of time layering in concepts from both traditional and contemporary fairytales, sometimes overtly and other times with enough subtlety that actual thought is required. Each scene is set up to speak, in some way, to my theme, and in doing this, nothing feels particularly superfluous. When I do find myself having to build a scene to flesh out a character, I can do it to the fairy tale vibe or the main theme of true-love not being what you think it is. Basically, every scene makes a point, no matter how silly that scene is.

I think what I’m trying to get at is that by trying to say something with the book, rather than just tell a fun story, the writing gained some muscle. Sure, there are still some very rough edges, but the core is there and from the perspective of an unpublished author with 3 manuscripts under his belt, I can’t believe I’m the one who wrote the thing. So, the take away? Write to a theme, it’s life-changing.

AND, since you’ve made it this far, if you’re interested in reading through the first half, I’m looking for feedback on plot, voice, and characterization (to that end I’ve gotten some advice on this score that I’m working on now). Just drop me a line and I’ll send it out.

Back on the wagon – The Dark Queen of Darkness

I know I said I was going to kill the project, and I did, for a bit, but then I started working on other things and got myself through a few other books, but eventually circled back around. After I killed the project, I started thinking of what might bring it back. I assumed that it might be a complete re-write, but that wasn’t necessary. What I did instead was add another concept into the pile. A trickster. After listening to Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, it became clear that a trickster character of some sort would go a long way in being the agent of change necessary to move the characters and story forward. Anyhow, I did come up with something and wrote a tiny prologue, almost so short you couldn’t call it a prologue. Here it is:

Under the gloom of a sky that seemed to know only two tricks, both involving heavy cloud cover, an errant swirl of air beat it’s way around the edges of a lake so dead and clear, every rock and muck covered log could be seen upon it’s bed. The spinning current of air slowed then suddenly intensified, picking up sticks and stones and all manner of leaf litter in an eddy that coalesced them into the figure of a man. It paced the shore for a moment and flung an arm out over the water. A stone separated from the figure and skipped across the glass-like surface raising ripples from a dozen impact points. The ripples spread out, joining together and by degrees, the image of a woman formed on the lake, as if it were a mirror.

If the swirling mass of man-shaped forest debris could properly smile, it would have. A voice made from the rustling of leaves and creaking of limbs poured into the gnarled glade. “Your time is near, dear jailer. What fun we will have when you can no longer keep me pinned in this forsaken lifeless valley.”

The ripples on the lake calmed, returning to a state of glass-like stillness, and the forest debris dropped to the ground, leaving the disturbed bit of air to once again worry around the shores of the lake.