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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Pitching and how it morphs: Young Van Helsings

Someone on my blog asked me about Sword of Dracula, the comic series I wrote that first introduced the spy organization (grown up around the heroes of Dracula and the origins of Frankenstein) called the Polidorium. Would the characters there-- especially Ronnie-- ever return? I told her something a lot of people might not know: Alex Van Helsing, the book series, sprang from a pitch called Young Van Helsings. There, Alex was one of the leads in what would be a series about Alex, sister Ronnie (the star of the comic) and Alex's manipulative twin Judith. As it happened, by the time we were done, the pitch had refocused on Alex himself. That happens all the time-- this was actually a rare case where the pitch morphed, but the earlier version is still viable. Sometimes it can go wildly out of alignment with the original-- what starts out as a police procedural can wind up as a romantic comedy about a cop. Usually these changes are better. And besides-- you're the writer. You can always come around to the earlier version later.

Pitch time. That's where we are.
This is one of those periods where I'm mainly working my a** off but it's more or less hidden from public view. In public view I'm in a quiet period because Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead doesn't come out until July 26, and though I've turned in a draft of the third book, I don't have edits on it yet, so I'm working on new material. During the last hiatus I worked on a ghost story with a female lead; this time I'm working on two different middle grade boy action books simultaneously.

Where do I do this? I have an office at home, but for knocking out chapters, nothing suits me more perfectly than an empty lecture hall. Most of the Alex Van Helsing series, in fact, was written inside of lecture halls at the University of Dallas:
Gorman Lecture Center, where I do a lot of my writing.

Sometimes when I take breaks, I leave cryptic notes on the white boards (last time: THE COARSEST SENSATIONS OF MEN.) I always wonder if the students notice these notes, or if the professor just erases them. The world may never know.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Take 190 West Success!

Jennifer Ziegler blogged today about 190 West, a festival I attended in Killeen. This was a lot of fun-- head over there for pictures of the amazing authors in attendance, including Clare Dunkle (whose House of Dead Maids I just read and loved), Jennifer herself of the upcoming Sass and Serendipity, and way more. All hosted by the amazing guys at Overlooked Books and the City of Killeen.

Check out the blog for pics!

Zombie haiku author K A Holt on a balloon bike in Killeen, from Jennifer Ziegler's blog.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead gets a cover!

I am so stoked about this. See, authors usually see a cover many months early, but it's kind of forbidden to show the cover off until the cover is officially released. There's no real rule as to what that means-- after all, Goodreads has covers way early, but the one that seems to make a difference is Amazon and the other online retailers. When Amazon has a cover, you have a cover.

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead finally has a cover!

So finally I can talk about it, even though we're still way early. This book comes out in late Summer-- July 26, just in time for Back-to-School days. So just some hints for now, but what's this one about? See the description here from Amazon:
Now that Alex is in the know about the deadly vampires that live--and hunt--clustered around his boarding school, everything is different. Putting his talents to use, Alex is training with the Polidorium to become a vampire hunter, just like his Van Helsing ancestors. Sure, he's only fourteen, but c'mon, this runs in his blood.Meanwhile, Alex's arch-nemesis Elle, a vampire whose youthful appearance and blond hair disguise a vengeful rage, is out to get him before a powerful leader called "Ultravox" arrives on the scene. Ultravox specializes in assassinations, but who is he targeting? Dodging Elle's attacks, Alex is on a mission to uncover Ultravox's deadly plan before his friends and his school become collateral damage. There's no time to report back; innocent lives hang in the balance, and it's up to Alex to act now--or else.

Alex Van Helsing: Voice of the Undead-- July 26, 2011