Category Archives: J.F. Lewis

New Books by Our Resident Bloggers

The Sworn by Gail Z. Martin is now in stores.

As plague and famine scourge the winter kingdoms, a vast invasion force is mustering from beyond the northern seas. And at its heart, a dark spirit mage wields the blood magic of ancient, vanquished gods.

Summoner-King Martris Drayke must attempt to meet this great threat, gathering an army from a country ravaged by civil war. Neighboring lands reel toward anarchy while plague decimates their leaders. Drayke must seek new allies from among the living – and the dead –- as an untested generation of rulers face their first battle.

Then someone disturbs the legendary Dread as they rest in a millennia-long slumber
beneath sacred barrows. Their warrior guardians, the Sworn, know the Dread could be pivotal as a force for great good or evil. But if it’s the latter, could even the Summoner-King’s sorcery prevail?

The Sworn is Book One of The Fallen Kings Cycle, and it picks up the adventures of Tris, Jonmarc and the Winter Kingdoms gang six months after the end of Dark Lady’s Chosen.  There are all new challenges, lots of dark magic and the biggest threat Margolan has faced in 400 years.

You can read the first chapter of The Sworn by clicking here

Or, you can listen to Gail read from Chapter One by clicking here.

Crossed: A Void City Novel by J.F. Lewis is also available now.

You can purchase Crossed from Amazon by clicking here.

You can also read an enlightening guest post on Greta by clicking here.

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Little Green Notes – Part Three

The third little green note is one that has had me setting out little plastic pyramids and occasionally twisting wooden dolls into strange poses or checking out blue prints or zooming in REALLY close with Google Maps… As so, Little Green Note Number Three:

3) Better Blocking

Whether I’m trying to make sure that I keep track of a special hat during a big long fist fight or I’m describing where exactly our hero is a secret maze just before he vanishes forever, the blocking is extremely important. If I’ve done a great job with the blocking, it’s one of those things a reader doesn’t even consciously notice, but if I’ve done a bad job with the blocking the reader will find themselves scratching their head and asking questions like: “Now wait a minute, if the hero was standing over here, then how did he even see the bad guy? I thought he was next to the flower pot with the orangutan…”

For some writers blocking seems to come more naturally than others. In my case, it’s often hard and I sometimes have to use props to keep the positions of various characters straight in my head while writing a fight scene. There’s a scene in STAKED (the first Void City novel) that involves a werewolf hockey team (The Void City Howlers) fighting Eric (the vampire protagonist) on an ice rink. For some reason that was relatively easy to keep track of in my head with nothing more than a map of a normal ice hockey rink (thank you, Wikipedia) and a little imagination. But throw in a few more werewolves and Eric’s daughter Greta all fighting in the middle of the street and out came the little plastic pyramids and chess pieces to keep track of things.

Of course, blocking doesn’t just have to involve complex situations. It also covers those little movements characters make during a dialogue sequence… having a character fold his arms or pace from one side of the room to the other. That type of blocking helps keep your characters from becoming a couple of “talking heads” in a important dialogue heavy scene or convey emotion after a dangerous fight. If, instead of typing: Bob was incredibly nervous, the writer shows the reader how Bob paces the room, chews his fingernails, and makes minute adjustments to portraits that required no straightening, the blocking doesn’t just help keep track of the character, but helps convey the emotion of the scene as well.

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Little Green Notes – Part Two

Posted to the wall of my office are seven green post-it notes.  I put them there in 2007 while working on the revised draft of Staked (then called Welcome to the Void).  In my last post, I think I wrote that the second post-it note didn’t really apply anymore.  I lied.

Little Green Note number two:

2) More Roger.

Okay, so I didn’t really lie exactly, I clarified and hemmed and hawed a bit.  Roger’s gone, but the note still applies.  In fact, my second little green note can be the difference between engaging fiction or lifeless crap.  In the initial draft of Staked, the reader barely met Roger (Spoiler Alert: He’s the bad guy).

Roger was thought to be dead very early on (in one draft, it was Roger who died in the first sentence) and only shows up again only for the “big confrontation” at the end.  Where’s the fun in that?  Roger is not only a particularly backstabbing villain, he also used to be Eric’s (the protagonist’s) best friend. In the rewrites, I added whole chapters that existed just to let the reader see more of Roger, so that when the “big confrontation” occurred, it meant more.

Of course, going forward the note can be read differently:  Let the reader see the villain.  Villains are fun.  They strut.  They say great and horrible things.  The more we understand them, the better.  If we know that the antagonist wants to kill the protagonist not just “because” but for reasons we might even understand…  Well, that works better.  That pops.  And more importantly, it rings true.

Though villainous, when Lord Phil shows up in Staked, he seems to be clearly on Eric’s side.  As he shows up more and more in ReVamped and in Crossed (which was officially released today, I might add), the reader slowly gets to see how dangerous and twisted good old “Uncle Phil” actually is and how his antics aren’t limited to having a creepy vibe and ungentlemanly bedroom habits.

Of course, another great thing about showing the villain interacting with the hero (or even the anti-hero) is how great the Protagonist looks when compared to them.  Good villains provide the reader and opportunity to explain away the hero’s bad traits with thoughts like: Sure, Eric kills people, but only to eat and, besides, he makes it quick.  Those other vampires play with their food.  And Eric never hurts children or forces himself on his prey.  And he’s been hunting less and less lately.  And look how nice he is to his little girl!

If the readers know the person the main character is sinking his fangs into is the bad guy, then by default, that makes the main character the good guy, whether he’s all that “good” or not.

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Little Green Notes – Part one

Hi, I’m J. F. Lewis.  The “J” stands for Jeremy and the “F”… well, the “F” stands for something else.  As my bio on the site mentions, I write vampire books: The Void City series for Pocket Books in particular.  But more on that later. Let’s talk about the writing process, the revision process in particular.

Posted to the wall of my office are seven green post-it notes.  I put them there in 2007 while working on the revised draft of Staked (then called Welcome to the Void).  Two of those notes no longer apply: “More Roger” (He’s out of the series now) and… no, never mind the other one became applicable again at the end of Crossed (Void City, Book 3 – which comes out January 25th, 2011 *cough* shameless plug *cough*).  The reason they’re still on the wall is because they all highlight a blind spot in my writing.  Even the Roger one, now that I think about it.  But we’ll get to that later, too.  First though, Little Green Note number one:

1) Let us see Eric “feel” more…

That’s a tough one.  Eric Courtney is the co-tagonist of the Void City books.  He’s fun to write, but writing him has its fair share of challenges.  He’s a remorseless killer, but he also loves his daughter.  He’s a bit of a slut, but that’s only because the woman he loves is still human and in her eighties, so Eric sees any other relationship as doomed to fail.

Anytime a writer is dealing with a protagonist who is as messed up and closed off as Eric is, it’s hard to let real emotions through without the character covering them up or coloring them in a negative light.  In that way, Eric is an unreliable narrator.  That’s established pretty early on when Eric describes himself.  He pictures himself as plain verging on unattractive.  We know he’s actually rather handsome from the way others react to him and the way Tabitha (the other co-tagonist in Staked) describes him in her chapters.

Which leaves me, as the writer, in the role of letting Eric be as self-loathing as he actually is, while simultaneously giving the reader little glimpses into how he actually feels.  Eric even distrusts his own motives for doing good things when he actually does a few, so it’s good fun, but easy to play things too close to the vest and let people miss the (if-not exactly nice then) nicer than he seems guy Eric keeps hidden even from himself.  But that doesn’t just apply to emotions.  If something hurts Eric, instead of having him say it hurts, my little note reminds me to have him describe the pain… Showing instead of telling.  A basic writing rule, but one that can be very easy to forget.

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Welcome

Welcome to Disquieting Visions—a gateway into paranormal and fantasy realms.  Our regular bloggers include J.F. Lewis (Staked, Revamped) with a focus on urban fantasy; Gail Z. Martin (The Chronicles of the Necromancer series and The Fallen Kings Cycle series) discussing epic fantasy; Tina R. McSwain (Charlotte Area Paranormal Society) putting you in touch with real life ghost hunters, psychics and clairvoyants with a focus on the “other” side; and Crymsyn Hart (The Soul Reaper series), specializing in paranormal romance.

Along with our regular bloggers you’ll see weekly guest blogs from some of their friends, including top names in fantasy and paranormal fiction, real-world psychics and mediums, and the cool people that JF, Gail, Tina and Crymsyn meet.  You’ll also meet the guests of the Ghost in the Machine podcast with audio interviews of authors from the US, UK, Canada and Australia.  On Freebie Fridays, we share the goodies with links to excerpts, interviews and other totally free and totally cool downloads.

About our bloggers:

Crymsyn Hart is the author of a slew of paranormal, romance, erotica books. Her worlds are filled with luscious gods, brooding vampires, shifters who aren’t all that shifty, and a hunky angel of death too. Her experiences as a psychic has given her a lot of material to use in her books. She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA in Writing. Her like for the paranormal started when she was child and grew into a full blown obsession when she was teenager.

She currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her husband and her two dogs. Her guilty pleasures are horror movies and peanut M&Ms.

She can be found at www.ravynhart.com or https://www.facebook.com/crymsynhart

Tina R. McSwain is Founder & Director of The Charlotte Area Paranormal Society or CAPS.  She also serves as Lead Investigator and Historian of the group. She is a native Charlottean, and has been interested in the paranormal since reading Nancy Roberts’ North and South Carolina ghost books of the 1960’s/1970’s. Watching her favorite TV series of the time, “Dark Shadows” of the 60’s and “The Night Stalker” of the 70’s, only served to fuel her fascination with the supernatural.  Since childhood, she was somehow able to “know” that a future event was about to happen and throughout her adult life, has continued to become sensitive to the world around her.  She has developed this sensitivity into an ability now to aid her in the spirit rescue of the angry, confused or lost souls she encounters today.

Her catalyst for studying the paranormal in depth was her first encounter in 1989 with a full blown apparition of a friend’s grandmother. The lady’s ghost walked toward Tina, smiled, waved, and then turned around, walked away and disappeared.  After the initial shock, Tina realized this was a rare occurrence and one she wanted to repeat.  She began to research her experience in earnest.   Soon after, Tina found and studied with local metaphysical advisors and psychics, and read and studied many volumes on paranormal investigation techniques, equipment, and the science and theory behind it.  After several years of study, she wanted to practice what she had learned.  She sought out and joined a number of North and South Carolina Paranormal and Ghost Hunting groups over the years.  While serving in varying capacities, she gained valuable experience and continued to learn and experiment with and utilize new technology.  Wanting a more professional and scientific research oriented group, Tina formed CAPS with a small group of like-minded colleagues.  Since its formation in 2005, CAPS has assisted over 100 private home and business owners in both the Carolinas and Tennessee who have had concerns of paranormal activity.  When not helping a client, the CAPS team visits reportedly haunted locations, both famous and not-so-famous, in an effort to validate or dismiss these claims.   In addition, CAPS serves as mentors to area high school students choosing ghost hunting as the subject of their “Project Graduation” requirements.  CAPS also runs a Cemetery Clean-up Committee and its members volunteer their time to support their official 2010/2011 charity, The Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.  Tina also speaks at various events to educate the public on the vast world of the paranormal, and has appeared on local radio and television.   Under Tina’s direction and leadership, the Charlotte Area Paranormal Society continues to aid and support our clients; conduct research, investigate, and gather evidence of, and document encounters with, the unknown.

J.F. Lewis lives in Birmingham, Alabama with his patient wife, two adorable sons, and a crazed canine.  He decided that he wanted to be a writer when a supposed creative writing teacher questioned his sanity and suggested therapy. Staked was his first novel (and it also got him excommunicated).  The Void City series continues in ReVamped (out now) and Crossed (released January 25th 2011) .

An avid reader, Jeremy also enjoys sushi, popcorn, lukewarm sodas, and old black and white movies. His two favorite activities are singing lullabies to his kids at bedtime and typing into the wee hours of the morning. Fortunately, like the protagonist of his Void City novels, the author takes very little sleep.  Those looking for more information should track him down on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/J-F-Lewis/54427382233.

Gail Z. Martin is a bestselling author, international speaker and entrepreneur.  She owns DreamSpinner Communications and is the “Get Results Resource” for marketing strategies that work.  Gail is the author of The Thrifty Author’s Guide to Launching Your Book (Comfort Publishing) and 30 Days to Social Media Success (Career Press). You can find her online at www.GailMartinMarketing. Gail is also the author of the bestselling Chronicles of the Necromancer fantasy adventure series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven, and Dark Lady’s Chosen) published by Solaris Books and distributed by Simon & Schuster.  Her new series, The Fallen Kings Cycle, will be released by Orbit Books in 2011.  Gail blogs every Thursday.

Here’s the schedule (although we hope you’ll subscribe so you don’t miss a day!):

Monday—Guest post and podcast,

Tuesday—JF Lewis,

Wednesday—Crymsyn Hart,

Thursday—Gail Z. Martin,

Friday—Tina McSwain and Freebie Friday!

Welcome and please bring your friends!

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