Sunday, October 28, 2012

Cthulhu Lives—My Necronomicon 2012 Experience

Necronomicon Shirt Logo 2012 • Click for more info

Before I say anything about my experience in general, I need to offer some thank yous to some truly inspiring people I met at Necronomicon 2012. These people provided me with wisdom, knowledge, friendship, and will even be new muses of mine: Brenda Cothern, T.S. Robinson, Bill Hatfield, K L Nappier, Lucienne Diver, JM Bolton, R.M. Garcia, Kat Heckenbach, , and Storm Moon Press (Saundra and Roger Armstrong, and Kristina Piet).

Please read their books!

Where do I begin... first, I have to say that I was made to feel like part of the Necro family from day one when I met Brenda. She greeted me openly and helped me understand how things worked at the Con. First impressions mean a great deal, and this one certainly made me feel welcome. After that, I met author after author, participant after participant, who just made my experience worthwhile.

Panels. Well, they were certainly something I never thought I would enjoy, but I liked being in the spotlight, albeit for 55 minutes with other people. I found I had much to say for most of the panels (see my prior post for the list of panels I attended) except for Military SF. I think, because my novel has 'Task Force' in the title, I was selected to be on the panel. The other gentlemen there were much more well versed in the military themes in sci-fi (not really fantasy) and gaming. Ah well — it was an experience I needed to have. My time on the LGBT panels gave me more confidence to be an out gay man, especially with total strangers. After a few panels, audience members approached my table, complimenting me on comments I had made, and some even bought books because of that. Even though panel time means I don't have table time to promote and sell books, spending time with the groups on the panels helped shape my understanding of the Con culture.

People. I had met Lakisha Spletzer earlier this year at a library book festival here in Land O' Lakes, and seeing her again gave me at least one person I knew in case I had a problem. Although I haven't read her works, from what I have seen I will enjoy them, so when I have more reading time, I plan on getting a few under my literary belt, so to speak. Congratulations to her and R.M. Garcia, another author who she had met at the Con last year—they got engaged this year at Necro. One of my table mates who sat across from me in the hotel, T.S. Robinson, not only provided me with a 'comrade-in-arms' as a fantasy writer, but also as an invaluable resource of information for table bling (how to decorate my table) as well as being a better salesman.

I have so many ideas for next year. I want to Necronomicon 2013 to be an even better experience, and I have much to do.

It's approaching 11 p.m., so I will have to add more later.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

UPDATE: Necronomicon Panel Details!

I will be on these panels. Come visit and see what we have to say:

Friday, 1:00 p.m., St. Pete 3 (room): The Resurgence of FairytalesWe have fairy tales popping up all over the place: in film, television. Literature. Is this just an offshoot of urban fantasy or is it a return to childhood?

Friday, 3:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: The Best Movie Superhero Team Ever Just a little daydreaming here by our panel of superhero loving authors.

Friday, 10:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: LGBT Characters in Literature and Film—How are LGBT characters treated? Are they just stereotypes or do they have depth and realism?

Saturday, 1:00 p.m., St. Pete 3: Military SF: What does it tell us about ourselves?Are we hopelessly warlike or are there other reasons military SF is popular?

Saturday, 7:00 p.m., HTC 3: Diversity in SF & FIs the fiction we read more diverse than we are? How can we get the message of SF & F to those who may think it is only for straight 
white guys?

Sunday, 10:00 a.m., DEMENS: Erotica vs. PornWhat makes something erotic vs. raunchy? How do you write the difference in your fiction?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

NEW: Glossary of Immortals — FREE!

To help readers of Task Force: Gaea with knowing more background of "who's who," they can download a FREE PDF download of Glossary of Immortals, a brief overview of just who the gods are, complete with pronunciation guide.


If you encounter a problem downloading the document, please email me at tchrofengl@gmail.com.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pssst! Sneak Peak at Memory's Curse...

Here's a bit from the sequel of Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance. It's a work in progress, but it'll give you a taste of what's coming:

A swirling blackness, Nyx moved and shaped herself in ways that would stagger the mortal mind, collapsing into eddies of dark, living clouds, ready to bear her offspring implanted in her by Olympos’ adulterous king. With the catacombs of the dead for her nursery, Nyx wanted to bring forth her daughter in the company of the agonized, pitiable souls of those who had never made it beyond the gates of the underworld; they had much to offer her child. Suddenly, almost as if she had forgotten her role in the cosmos, her surging form shot forth toward the exit of Tartaros, a cave entrance kissed by the air that mortals breathe. As she neared the opening, bright Hemera, the day itself, descended into the deepest Hadean depths, and both Protogenoi, the primordials, touched ever so briefly before Nyx bubbled forth into the air, becoming the blanket of obscurity over part of Gaea—Night and Day in a forever dance. 
  
Taking her place in the sky, Nyx felt it was time: her daughter would enter the world in a way no other elder god had. 

• • • 
   
Megara, Greece. 1000 B.C. 

Screams of torment and railing pain cut at the air like talons, ripping apart the peace of the healer’s tent in the cultist’s sanctuary, a humble place here in the mortal world where those afflicted by madness came to embrace the darkness of Nyx. A woman, crazed with murderous thoughts and tortured dreams, reclined on a woven grass mat, her wrists and ankles bound with worn leather straps anchored to the ground to prevent her from hurting herself—or others. Her eyes as black as Erebos, the darkness itself, she became the ideal choice for this birth, a living receptacle for Nyx. Her madness would mix well with the darkness. Ancient primordial entered her human host and the body took on the pregnant form, bloating the abdomen with life.  

Soon, echoing cries interlaced with unintelligible mutterings escaped the woman's lips while the healer, his white chiton stained from years of patient’s blood, knelt ready to extract the newborn, eager to come forth; he was certainly ignorant of what would come. He preferred the crimson patches on his garment, to help him remember each forced amputation or sutured wound, usually brought about by a stony fragment or stick used during an arcane ritual to Nyx. This cult was bound by anarchy, it would seem, and spontaneous fights were common. Night incarnate had selected well, largely to reflect the chaos within, but also to see what it would feel like to push her progeny forth as a mortal would. That connection to humanity would prove so very useful. 

Following a pain-induced shriek, a volcanic spray of blood and placenta erupted forth as the part human, part primordial being pushed her way into the world of Humankind without the benefit of the healer’s aid. Wiping the sanguine discharge from his face, the healer caught a glimpse of this child, and as he felt his psyche melt, he gouged out his own eyes with his fingers, mumbling as his intellect fragmented, foaming at the mouth like a rabid beast. A mortal mind could not comprehend such a primordial in her true form. Soon, he lay still, and the entity hovered over to the lifeless body, draining it of whatever soul still remained as a child takes sustenance from its mother. Not even Hades would want the remnants of the empty corpse, as it had no spirit to wander the underworld. 
  
Nyx exited the woman’s spent body—now a lifeless, vacant shell—and coalesced around her daughter, ready to take her back to Tartaros where the newborn would mature among the imprisoned Titans, Gaea’s children buried beneath stone and Zeus’ curse, and there she would feed off ancient energy originating from Khaos, the mother of the cosmos herself. In such a place of despair, this child would find solace near yet another tomb, a place no mortal could ever see, and no god would ever go. She would grow accustomed to the dead chill of whose presence no one spoke, for fear even mentioning the name of he who was buried there would rouse him—Kronos, the Titan king. 
  
As the Moirae wove the fate of Humanity and the gods, so too did they forge the path of those who outranked them. Part of Fates’ tapestry would form a path for the daughter of Nyx, whom she called Lismonia. 
  
Bony fingers on the loom, bound by duty and a yearning, trembled with each pass, and the fabric it brought forth for Zeus' daughter bore the color of blood. 

• • • 
   
In Tartaros once more, Nyx awaited the return of Hemera, bright Day, so she might become the night sky, an eternal balance she had struck when Gaea was young. While Lismonia drifted around the Titans’ rocky tombs, she absorbed even the faintest traces of energy from within the encasements, energy tainted by hatred of the other Olympeian gods—especially Zeus, her father. She felt their rage, their unremitting, seething rage against the youngest son of Kronos. Like mother’s milk, this life force leached through the stone into Lismonia, and her cloud-like, tentacled form roiled like a storm-battered sea with every acerbic drop. Each of the Titans, left alive but entombed within Gaea’s shell, remembered the day Zeus’ scythe took their lord’s life, returning his energy to Khaos. Each remembered the sacred pact of Zeus, Poseidon, and Hades, the one that turned their own mother, Gaea, against them. Mother Earth was nothing if she was not loyal to prophecy, the very one that foretold of Kronos’ demise by his son’s hand. 

Lismonia glided further away from her mother, tumbling over the rock-strewn floor until even she felt the gelid tomb, the one place in all of creation not even the gods visit. Surrounding the earth sarcophagus, she waited to feel that familiar electric sensation of life, but... nothing. Her frustration subsided as she comprehended what she had learned from the Titans: Kronos, the son of Gaea and Ouranos, the king of the Titans, truly was no more. 

• • • 
   
After her feeding, she wanted to explore her new home, like any curious child, and found the path to the place where she knew she could find the one she needed to meet, the one she needed to see, the one she needed to kill—Zeus—for he not only had abandoned her mother, as he had so many others, he was despised by the Titans, and it was their hatred that fueled her. The journey to Olympos from Tartaros, even for Nyx’s daughter, would take time. Immune to mortal constructs, she could not be bound by chain or rope, by solid or ether, but time had neither shape nor form, matter nor mind—and it could affect her. No matter, however. She would eventually reach the sacred mountaintop, and she would ensure that Zeus understood what it meant to abandon her. Making her way through Hades, though, would teach her much, if nothing else, how nourishing souls could be. 

Through the fields of gray asphodel, Lismonia wended her way, rolling like a black tide. Spirits of the dead—pale mist swirling with no human resemblance—paid her no mind, neither knowing nor caring who she was, and they continued to wander through the fields as the billowing daughter of Nyx wafted around them. Near Hades’ palace of inky marble columns, striated with wispy bits of white, she stopped, looking like a storm cloud that had lost its buoyancy. This was Hades, she thought, the underworld where the dead found their solace or their suffering.  She had already felt the deep, aching torment from the Titans, raw emotions able to carve into the densest stone, and now she felt at home.  Onward she moved, undulating, rolling across the realm, finding her bearings, until she saw her kin. Hovering on scaly black wings behind the Hall of Judgment, their arms and legs entwined with serpents, three sisters tormented a human soul not yet ethereal, but not corporeal.  Having drowned his newborn child, this once mortal would go to Tartaros, forever enduring punishments not fit for humans to comprehend. Such was the will of Rhadamanthys, Aeacos, and Minos, the three judges of the underworld. Each had been a son of Zeus and mortal, rewarded for his good deeds with this post, and so they spoke in one voice, “Tartaros shall lay claim to you, and none shall discern your screams amid those whose voices you join.”  

Despite lacking a corporeal body, this former human felt every talon strike ripping through what remained, every snakebite and the venom each released, every contemptuous gesture, and he would never again know peace. One of the three winged goddesses, Tisiphone, took perverse pleasure in bringing anguish to him, the murderer of the innocent; the other Erinyes, Alekto and Megaera, assisted in his torment. Daughters of Nyx, by Ouranos, and sisters to Lismonia, they only relented when their cloud-like sibling moved closer.  With only thought, she conveyed her contempt for Zeus and all of Olympos, relaying how the god of the sky had abandoned their mother. She was going to Olympos for a reckoning, to tear down the oligarchy of the gods one by one, starting with her father who had wronged the Protogenoi. Lismonia had few emotions known to her for one so young, but the Erinyes saw her pain, felt her yearning. To demonstrate her desire, she swirled around the tortured soul before them, exacting her own revenge on him for his heinous crime. None who knew him would ever remember he existed—such was her power—but his spirit would remember the egregious harm he had done to his infant girl. How fortuitous, Lismonia thought, that he had tripped on a stone after committing the deed, cracking open his skull. As his blood leached into the earth, Hermes dragged his soul to the underworld to face judgment. And now what was left of him went to Tartaros, to endure whatever agony he deserved, knowing no one would ever mourn him or feel the finest shred of pity. 

Lismonia took her leave of her sisters, heading directly for the caverns that stretched out beneath Mount Olympos. Magaera and her sisters followed.  Surely the daughter of Night would lead them to glorious and plentiful torment.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fond Memories of Books in the Basin Festival!

What a rousing success this weekend's Books in the Basin was here in Odessa, TX! When my friend, Randy Ham, invited me to be one of the forty authors in attendance, I was quite flattered to be a part of something so prestigious, and this was the inaugural festival for the city of Odessa as well.

After a bit of a rough start to the weekend (flight delayed Thursday due to thunderstorms over the airport meant taking a flight Friday morning), I arrived in Odessa no worse for wear and ready to help Randy with whatever he needed to prepare for this event. His entire crew of library volunteers worked tirelessly to make sure this was going to be a success. I have to say that I was quite impressed with their eagerness. Randy and I worked on final placement of tables in a senior residence across the street from the library (part of the inclement weather contingency plan) since the weather today was supposed to be cold and possibly rainy. I was probably more moral support than anything, but I think he was just glad to have a personal cheerleader.
 
Ellen Sweets, author of Cooking with Molly
Friday night was the author reception at Odessa College, where we all convened over hors d'oeuvres and beverages to kick off the festival. I met a few of the authors, namely Chris Ruggia, a comic book artist/writer from Alpine, TX, and his wife, and the author of a book about Molly Ivins, Ellen Sweets. Ellen and I had a lovely time chatting, and I knew from that moment I had found a kindred spirit.Saturday morning, we started the events with a Breakfast with the Authors at Dee's Bistro, a lovely continental breakfast of fruit salsa with cinnamon chips, biscuits, gravy, sausages, bacon, and pastries. Each author sat at a table where others could join and chat, and I met Steve Smith, a sci-fi fan who suggested I read works by Larry Nivens and others. Joining us at the table was Mark, a friend of Randy and Tom's I had met last spring during my first visit to Odessa, and later, Ellen joined the table for a bit. After the breakfast, we all convened in our respective places, so I ventured over to Lincoln Tower, a senior residence, where tables were set up for self-published authors, like me, would be sitting for the day.

Chris and I shared a table, and he, his wife, and I spent much of our down time chatting about a wide range of topics, and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversations. They're both down to earth people whose paths I hope to cross again someday. Throughout the day, I spoke with about ten different people who seemed intrigued by my book, and I ended up selling six books (I had only brought five, plus one I had signed for someone who never paid for it). One of the orders involved selling a t-shirt, too. My last customer of the day was a lovely, intellectual woman who was a former teacher, and she so enjoyed that I had written a book using Greek mythology that was geared toward older readers. Wen I told her the book the last book I had had already been signed for someone who never paid for it, she said she didn't mind and purchased it regardless. 

Chris and I purchased books from one another, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future. His works are about indigenous fauna near Big Bend, and they're comics with a universal appeal.

At 2:30, I spoke with a small crowd about my novel, the process it took to make it to print, my inspirations, researching ideas, etc. All in all, a learning experience. 

I also took away a few other lessons: have more table bling, bring more books, and drink fluids throughout the day. 

The festival ended with an interview of Karen Valby, author of Welcome to Utopia, at the Ector Theater, followed by the film, The Last Picture Show. Beyond that, dinner with Randy, his partner, Tom, two other friends, Corby and Rett, and Ellen Sweets, who is quite the riot. Her quick wit and intelligence remind me of Maya Angelou, and Ellen has sass to match. 

I would like to thank all the volunteers and everyone else who helped Randy make the event such a resounding success. My trips to Odessa never disappoint, and I'm sure that I will make it out again, perhaps for One Book Odessa. :)

Here's a link to the article by Corey Paul in the Odessa American published today.
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