Category Archives: J.F. Lewis

The Time Traveling Vampire Goes To SDCC

“Get thee to a convention”
-Gail Z. Martin

“Holy crap! Somebody hide me!”
-J. F. Lewis

By J. F. Lewis

I’ve never gotten the hang of writing a blog in advance. Maybe if writing was my day job, I’d be better at it, but I always find myself thinking either late Monday night or sometime Tuesday wondering what the heck I should write about. And, seeing as how that’s where I’m headed tomorrow, this week, it’s SDCC.

I don’t think I can fully express the San Diego Comic Con experience to you. You really just have to go. Picture a con where TV, Movies, Gaming, Video Games, and Publishing all show up in force. Set it in a civic center (a huge one) and then fill the darn thing up.

My first year, I literally spent most of the con trying to see all of the dealer’s room… And failed.

Year two, I actually wound up on a panel (and it was awesome).

This year, I’m on a Thursday panel moderated by the mighty Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy:

3:00-4:00 Magic & Monsters— Adult and young adult science fiction and fantasy authors discuss the costs and consequences of “magic” in their novels and the scary, hairy, and dangerous creatures that lurk in the worlds they have created. Visit the worlds of Kim Harrison (The Hollows series), Andrea Cremer (The Nightshade series), Anton Strout (The Simon Canderous series), Lev Grossman (The Magicians), Ben Loory (Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day), J. F. Lewis (The Void City novels), and Diana Rowland (The White Trash Zombie series), guided by moderator Maryelizabeth Hart of Mysterious Galaxy. Room 25ABC

It’s always mind-blowing. Alway awesome and, to be honest, I’m still a little surprised I get to go.

Are you going? Have you ever been? What would you do and who would you want to see most? Enquiring minds want to know! 😉

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Twitter Novels

Crymsyn Hart

This past weekend a friend and I were sipping coffee at our local Books A Million café. She pulled out her cell phone which is the same kind I have and asked me how I liked it. I glanced at the new EVO I’ve had and sighed. It’s a win loose battle for me. I love my Blackberry because I can write on it. The new phone being touch screen and me texting rather fast it’s a disaster. But I need the phone for other reasons for my day job. Of course my Blackberry is still nicely tucked away and I use it when I’m out and about. After the phone debacle, she suggested that I should try writing twitternovels. I’ve heard about them. A whole story in an update of 140 characters, I don’t possibly see how anyone could write a novel on twitter, but with further investigation I see there are lots.

While it’s an intriguing idea, and my friend is working at it, I’m not sure about it. Short it hard for me. I would think that 140 characters is near impossible to set the mood, conversation, tone, and have people follow it. But then again Stephen King has done it. Many others have done it. I’m sure it’s the new form of writing. It’s great to think that you can be anywhere and be writing. Walking down the street or hanging on the subway. Not tied to the desk.

What do you think? Is this a new trend that going to stick around? Anyone follow the them? What do you think that makes them good?

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The Time Traveling Vampire Gets Tested

By J. F. Lewis

Last week, we took a giant step forward in time when discussing THE TIME TRAVELING VAMPIRE and approached the idea of handling revision letters. Now let’s skip back a bit. The idea is simple: Mr. Garrett is a Victorian era vampire possessed of a time machine. He’s married to a lovely wife (who is not a vampire) and he travels forward in time to feed on those he finds to be more deserving victims. But that’s just the concept. Where do we go from there?

Some authors would start an outline at this point. But that’s not how I work.

For me, it would be straight to the first scene. Of course, just because it’s the first scene written doesn’t mean it will wind up as the actual first chapter. As a discovery writer, the first scene is the acid test, almost a pre-write to work out the voice both of the character and the narrative. It’s also a test to help answer the questions:

Can I really write this?

Does this really work?

Is this worth my time?

There are two “Can I write this” barriers. The easiest one crops up very early. In my case, I find a scene that I feel most captures the central character and start writing. It may not be more than five or six pages (generally not more than two thousand words). If I’m not enjoying the process at that point, if it feels stale to me or more like a passing interest than something long term… I drop it and see how I feel about it later. Is it something worth spending a hundred thousand words on? If I’m not burning to continue after a few thousand words, the answer is a pretty clear: No.

The second barrier pops up around ten thousand to thirteen thousand words. Right there is a point for me where, if it’s not a novel, I’ll start to feel it. Other ideas pop up during any project, but usually, I only write enough of them down to remember them and come back to later. If I catch myself spending too much time brainstorming other ideas, that’s another bad sign.

By the thirteen thousand word mark, I’ll pretty much have the answer to the other questions, too. If I need to learn more or do intense research, I’ll know by then. If the plot isn’t going to work, I’ll have a fix in mind or start thinking about how to change it. By that point, I can generally give an idea of what the overarching plot is and where I’m going. I should even have a rough idea of how it’s all going to end.

Time is a harder question to address. Before I was published, I didn’t give it much thought at all. I wrote what ever I wanted and assumed it would find a market. But for THE TIME TRAVELING VAMPIRE, I would likely have a market in mind, know what genre it is, and may already have run the idea by my agent or even let her see a writing sample. If she hates the very idea of it, thinks it unsalable, then I might abandon the project completely.

If it sounds like discovery writing can involve a fair amount of wasted word count, you’d be correct. But with practice even a writer as seat of his pants as me, starts to get a feel for things earlier and earlier in the process.

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Revising a Time Traveling Vampire

By J. F. Lewis

I’m working on the revision letter for BURNED (Void City, Book 4) which will hit the shelves in February 2012, so my mind has turned to things like edits. As a result, we’ll skip ahead a bit. Let’s say that THE TIME TRAVELING VAMPIRE has been written and sold pseudonymously under the name I. M. Spartacus to Reilly Kool Editor at Big New York Publisher. Maybe foreign rights have already sold.

This applies a certain amount of pressure. Things have progressed from the land of “tee hee, I can have a scene where Mr. Garret fights a steam punk laundromat in chapter seventeen” to a revision request like: I love this chapter, but it does not work for the book. Maybe rewrite it with sentient mango people?

Welcome to the job portion of the process. You thought the butt-in-seat time was hard? Ha!

If you are like me, you hate revisions. In my Void City books, the edits I get usually aren’t things to which I object. They are quite reasonable, insightful, and they make the end product a much more enjoyable read. But that doesn’t mean revision requests are seen that way initially.

(As an aside, even that’s not why I hate revisions. I hate doing revisions because usually, when I’m done with a book, I don’t like it anymore. I’m sick of the characters and I want a break from them. It’s like the second week of a two week vacation with your best friend. At some point, no matter how much you love spending time with them, you still want their heads on a spike,)

But back to Mr. Garret and the mango people. (It should be noted that there is no analogous revision request in my rev letter for Burned). The inner writer almost always instantly rejects revisions on the first run through. Your inner writer may be more civilized than that, but mine is a whiny fussy baby.


(Never mind that Mr. Garret encounters Mango People four other times in the book and it’s clear that he fought them at some point in the past, so actually showing that fight might foreshadow the later events and make those chapters work better. Further ignore the fact that the laundromat sequence never comes up again and is really a vignette that belongs on the writer’s website as an extra. The inner writer doesn’t care about any of that at first.)

When you hit this point, my suggestion is a simple one: sleep on it. You may be surprised at how reasonable some of the requests seem in the morning or how you develope other fixes that are even better than the suggested ones. I never bounce anything back to my editor regarding revisions until three days have passed (unless time is of the essence). Give your inner writer time to calm down and stop being offended. Then you can sort the requests that are quite good from the few you really do have heartburn over.

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More Time Travel. More Vampires.

By J. F. Lewis

When I was a kid, time traveling vampires were everywhere. (That’s a lie.)

I couldn’t walk out of my house at night without seeing them waiting to spring upon me in the dark. If only Mr. Garret (the time traveling gentleman from last Tuesday’s blog) hadn’t broken everything. Everyone knows the story, right? How he travelled to the future one time too many searching for blood of those he considered less moral than himself and encountered other vampires? (I’m making this all up, of course.)

Imagine his surprise when one of the vampires he meets is not just any old vampire, but his beloved wife? What might our Victorian vampiric gentleman do then?

In case you haven’t picked up on it, these time travel blogs are actually an attempt to explain in the strange nonsensical way available to me…how a writer as organic as me tends to work. I’ll be taking you through the process more each week and maybe manage to answer the question: where do your (meaning my) ideas come from? And maybe when we’re done, it will all make sense, I might even make this blog time travel a little itself.

But let’s focus on Mr. Garret a bit more first.

How would he react? Knowing your character enough to answer that question is vital when you’re a “discovery writer”.

How would he react to seeing his beloved wife changed into a monster like himself? If I know our Mr. Garret, he might travel back to try and discover what happened, to find the exact moment she changed and correct it. What havoc might that unleash across his own personal history?

As a writer, there are many ways to play with the terrible consequences that a (doomed or maybe not doomed… It’s hard to say this early on) quest like this might entail. What if the reader gets to notice that Mr. Garret’s wife is intact a different woman each time he travels back… That somehow Mr. Garret’s beloved Emma (or Jane or Rose) is being affected each time he travels and the vampire himself doesn’t even know it because his own personal history is being rewritten as well.

Great fun can be had when the reader knows something the character does not, but all that fun gets buried if the reader doesn’t think the character is behaving as he or she should. More next time…

And I wasn’t kidding about the time travel. 😉

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Favorite Character

Crymsyn Hart

Who is your favorite character? What actor would you see playing that favorite character? What makes one of your characters so endearing to you that you always mention them or write about them? Who, as a reader, do you love in your favorite book?

Those are questions I’ve gotten in regards to some of the characters who keep popping up in my books. I’ve always asked other authors those as well. My favorite character is my Angel of Death, Azrael. He started off being a fly by angel and then demanded being a central angel. Then he makes guest appearances in other series and some random standalones I have.

As a reader, my favorite character is Damon from the Vampire Diaries by L.J. Smith. I’d love to have him running around in other books that I read. Damon would add a great discourse to Twilight. I can only imagine him trying to win Bella over from Edward. Lol. He is just so sassy with the edge of evil that you can’t let him out of your sight or he’ll do something evil.

If I could choose an actor to play Azrael, I’d probably pick Hugh Jackman. But there are so many possibilities that all make me go yum.

Those characters that become our favorites, whether you are writing or reading about them, have to have that certain thing about them. That small edge that want to make you revisit them over and over again. I reread books just to read about one character because I enjoy their small quirks. How they laugh or how they interact with other characters. Or just in general how they love to kill people because they do it with a sense of humor.
What do you love about the characters you enjoy so much?

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The Time Traveling Vampire

By J. F. Lewis

Time travel for the average vampire presents certain obvious problems, depending on how the vampire actually accomplishes the task. With minute and effective control over the exact time (ie. via some sort of H. G. Wells-style apparatus or even Doc Brown’s DeLorean) the vampire’s time travel issues are minimized, but even then, there are problems.

When are sunrise and sunset?

A simple Internet search could provide that information, but if I have my druthers, the idea of a Victorian or Edwardian era time traveling vampire is far more appealing. Picture him:

The pale gentleman looked up from his charts, and made a note in his personal journal, the bright red leather of the book standing out in a contrast to the vampire’s otherwise darker toned hues. Garret preferred to dress in grey. It matched his eyes and his moral compass. Garret could recall a time when the idea on feeding upon another person, draining their vitae (even in the limited capacity he currently allowed himself), would have been unthinkable. Still, the future was populated with so many who found the prospect alluring and, even if Garret himself could not stand to dwell overlong in their presence, it was a necessity.

“Mrs. Garret,” he said to his wife, “I’m afraid I must sojourn once more.”

“Be safe, Mr. Garret,” answered the woman in blue.

Eyes softening, he touched his mustache absently as he stood.

Of course a more modern time traveling vampire might be interesting, too. A vampire with high tech and flashy gizmos, but I’m still drawn to the idea of a well-meaning vampire who leaves his wife behind to feed only to encounter his wife in the present: as something supernatural herself.

And maybe one day I’ll write more about Mr. Garret.

So why talk about time traveling vampires?

Why not?

And why not is a very important question for a writer… Almost as important as why or who or how. It’s about not limiting yourself and your ideas. If you want to have a flesh eating car or a time traveling vampire and they fit in your world and iyour rules and in your setting… Then do it. Write them!

Make your stories vividly different. If that means your vampires time travel or are alien space fish who live in Venice, then so be it.

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Mood Music

by Crymsyn Hart

Music is a key thing to get me into the mood for a book.
Heck, I’ve even got so enamored on a song that I’ve concocted a whole story
around just the one song. Once the book is written, I have nothing to do with
that song or artist for a few months because I’ve just over played them. I don’t
particularly plan on who I am going to listen to during the day. I just put my
MP3 player or computer on shuffle and listen to whatever comes my way.

However, if I’m going to be writing dark fantasy, I like to
listen to Ballad Metal, what I call it, with such bands as Nightwish or Kamelot or
even some instrumental collections to bring me into the other world where dark
elves and even vampire fairies exist. If my muses decide they want to focus solely
on vampires, then I break out one of my favorites either Type O Negative or Concrete
.  When I get down and dirty
and into the action scenes or big fights, then I pop in Disturbed or Cradle of Filth
so I can see the battle happening before me in either the guitar riffs or the
screaming of the lead singer.  For other
things it all depends. I shy away from country and rap only because I’m not a
fan of the genres.

What bands help you get into the mood? Some authors post
play lists for their books, is that something you like or would you choose your
own play list if you could?

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Balancing Act

by Crymsyn Hart

The summer is gearing up with conventions that I’ll be heading out to so I can hang out with some other cool authors and meet some great new people. I’ll be headng to Fandom Fest in Kentucky in July and then Authors After Dark in August. There I’ll be chilling with some more paranormal romance authors. I can just imagine that we will be talking about. Getting up together with more than three hundred women will be an interesting experience and who knows if there will be a cat fight or two.

Before all of that, I’ve found that I’ve been confronted with a balancing act of late. Writing for myself and writing for the market place. Not speaking for anyone else, but over the past couple of years I’ve noticed the market place has changed. Vampires used to be huge (not that they aren’t anymore), but zombies seem to be the in thing this year. At first it was okay to write just one couple in a book and the reading population was happy.

Now it appears that menage a trois and multiple partners are the new rage. Trying to follow the market, I’ve dabbled in this genre of the erotic romance, but find it difficult to keep up. I’m more of a one man and one woman kind of girl even though adding in the other characters makes for an interesting twist on the plot. So the question is, how do I balance everything?

I’ve always stuck by the staying that you have to write for you and not for the market. Most of what I write is for me. And I do admit, I bow and have found myself writing more of the erotic and adding in more of the sex than I find necessary, but hey, people love to read about sex. I find that I write more of the multiple partners as a dare to myself. Just to see if I can do it. And if the dare doesn’t work out, well then I guess I have to write more for me and hope that others en

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Steampunkery and Finished Drafts

What is that guy talking about with a post title like that?

I don’t know, and I *AM* that guy.

Seriously though, as much as I want to impart revealing secrets about writing and set fire to the hive mind of the internet with knowledge of the ages, what I really want to do is bounce around like a happy puppy. The first draft of Hunted (Void City, Book 4) is done!

But also, I gotz magic cats and crazed scheming steam punk robots!

For a while now, I’ve been working with the guys over at Ignitus Innovation, Inc (formerly The Wandering Men) on a web comic idea. At Crisis Con last year, I was talking to Ashy about wanting to write comics (Marvel Comics, if you’re out there, I have the first three issues of a Devil Dinosaur and Moonboy miniseries already written) and Ashy mentioned that they were interested in doing a web comic that tied in to the their Untold RPG. I asked what the setting was like and he asked me to sit in on a demo later that evening. I did and as a result, GEARLESS: A UNTOLD COMIC was born.

It all seems innocent enough at first: D3rr0 (pronounced Derro) is a Klik Roller trying to help his buddy Kiern (a L’na Dawn, but for our purposes think flying talking magic cat with heavy mystical firepower) find her missing mate Rior. Heh. Yeah… really, that’s all the story is about.

*cough* undead monster *cough*

*cough* hidden agendas *cough*

The first page goes up in a week or so, but in the meantime here is the cover Aviv Or did for the piece:

The logo is changing a little so the “G” is more obviously a “G” and our names will actually be on the next version, but what do you think? You can follow all the future developments over here. Or my Facebook page or @JF_Lewis on Twitter. I pretty much can’t shut up about it.

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