Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Sir Richard Burton - No, Not That One

I read a biography of Sir Richard Francis Burton about a million years ago. My thought was that this was one wild and crazy guy. How’s this for some factoids:

Burton traveled throughout the Middle East dressed as an Arab in his role as an Orientalist, Ethnographer, Explorer, and Writer.

He traveled with John Speke into the wilds of Africa in search of the source of the Nile River. He was also sent by the Royal Geographical Society to explore East Africa and discovered Lake Tanganyika (well, the indigenous folks already knew it was there).

He spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages.

He translated the most popular English-language version of the Kama Sutra of Vatsyayana.

He brought the Arabian Nights to the attention of the Western World by his collection and writing of the many stories told by Scheherazade.

Hey, it goes on and on. How he managed to stuff so much into one life is beyond me. I’m lucky if I explore the wilds of the local shopping mall.

Burton was born in 1841. He attended Trinity College at Oxford, but was permanently expelled for attending a steeplechase and insisting students should be able to do such things. He joined the army, becoming a Captain in the East India Company. He served in India, initiating his life-long love of the Orient. He had a talent for learning languages while in the army.

He asked for leave from the army to explore the Middle East and became very familiar with Muslim society by traveling as an Arab. Talk about dedication, he had himself circumcised to make his disguise complete.

I don’t have room enough here to give you a complete history of Burton’s travels and accomplishments. He lived his own life, causing no end of grief to the establishment.

I wanted to bring this amazing man, known as 'Ruffian Dick' to your attention and encourage you to read one of his many biographies or his autobiography (preferable) and delve into his other writings. I’m sure you’ll at least be intrigued enough to pick up a copy of the Kama Sutra or his translation of the Arabian Nights.

For the science fiction fans, you might recall him as a character in Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld series.

A decent article about him with a fairly comprehensive bibliography is available on the Free Dictionary site.

Much of his writing is available as free downloads. See this complete list of on-line resources.
Sir Richard Francis Burton died in 1890. As an obituary described: "...he was ill fitted to run in official harness, and he had a Byronic love of shocking people, of telling tales against himself that had no foundation in fact." Ouida reported that "Men at the FO [Foreign Office]... used to hint dark horrors about Burton, and certainly justly or unjustly he was disliked, feared and suspected... not for what he had done, but for what he was believed capable of doing..."

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Summarizing

I've made a variety of announcements about my books and where you (dear friend) can buy them. Here's are the links and basic info:

My Website marvadasef.com/tales.aspx: Both the regular trade paperback size and the jumbo print edition. I sell these using a PayPal click through. There are buttons for each of the sizes. They are both the same price ($13.95 US) and I autograph them and ship them to you. Shipping is included in the price, so I think this is your best deal. Also, seniors (65+) can email me for a discounted price.

Amazon: Both editions are on Amazon now. Again, the price is approximately $13.95. There are alternative booksellers if you click the New/Used link. I think the bottom price is $13.69, so not much savings. On Amazon, you pay $3.99 for shipping unless you have more than $25 in your shopping cart, then shipping is free. So, if you want to buy my book along with your copy of Harry Potter, this becomes the best deal.

Tales of a Texas Boy - Regular Edition on Amazon
Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print Edition on Amazon

For some reason, the LP edition doesn't show up in searches. I've got to get after Amazon for that. The LP edition also has less information on it. Amazon claims it ships in 4-6 weeks, rather than being In-stock as it says for the regular edition. Possibly, the problem here is that both titles are similar, so Amazon is ignoring the Large Print edition.

Lulu: This is my POD printer. They are NOT my publisher, despite the fact that bit of misinformation is being corrected. Nevertheless, both editions are for sale here through my storefront. Again, the price is $13.95, but the shipping cost is less than Amazon if you're buying only one book.

My Storefront on Lulu

There are a few other sites selling the book, but none have particularly good prices. If you're looking for a book and want to get comparative prices, use the AddAll Book Search site.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Michelle Moran - The History Buff

I enjoy a good historical novel. For me, the history accuracy has to override the romantic storyline. If your historical novel is filled with anachronisms and the language is totally out of line for the time period, I'm not going to read past page 2.

That's why I think I'll like "Nefertiti" by Michelle Moran. I wish I could say I've read it, but (alas), it just hit the shelves on July 10th. Consider that when I looked at the page, her Amazon ranking was 1019 and you'll get an idea of how popular this book will be.

If you're a fan of the History Channel and watch any documentary on archaelogical digs, then I'd invite you to peruse Michelle's blog History Buff. Where she digs up (ahem) all this great information, I'll never know. How she finds the time to do the digging is also a mystery.

If you enjoy historical novels, Michelle also interviews other authors on her History Buff Interviews blog.

One of these day and after I get to read Nefertiti, I'll see if I can hit up Michelle for an interview. I'll have to drag her away from the professional media, no doubt.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Tales Now up on Amazon

I got an email from Amazon today. Was it a note to the author telling her that the book was now available? Nope. I got the email as a customer of Amazon because I'd indicated interest in that particular author (me). Nevertheless, it's cool to have Tales of a Texas Boy now available worldwide. Yes, it's also listed on Amazon.UK and Amazon.FR and a bunch of others.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Harry Potter Spoilers

I certainly don't want to be left out of the frenzy, so here are some spoilers that I've made up on the spot. They're probably as good a guess as the other spoiler sites have posted.

Harry and Hermione have sex and Hermione gets pregnant. Hermione has to drop out of Hogwarts. But when Harry Jr. is born, he has red hair. Hmm?

Ron goes over to the dark side and joins up with Voldemort. Voldemort decides Ron is far too inept a wizard to keep in his hand-picked army of bad guys. Since he causes more problems than he solves, Voldemort lets Harry have him back, assuming that Ron will screw up Harry's chances.

The waffling Snape finally picks a side. He gives up magic and runs off with the Luna chick.

Everybody dies. Why not? It's the last book, right?

Dumbledore is the only one who survives. Yes, he died in a previous book, but they hired another actor to play him and he was reincarnated.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Magical Mystery Tour

Well, maybe not magical or mysterious, but this is the place where you can find out where your fav authors are showing up to do book signings or readings.

Booktour.com has two sides: authors and readers. Of course, many of my readers happen to be authors so you'll be interested either way. Authors enter their own information and schedule of events. Readers can look up their favorite authors and see where they'll be.

I found this site on (what else?) an author's blog. M. J. Rose has a nice write up and interviewed the co-owner of Book Tour. Here's Ms. Rose's blog Buzz, Balls, & Hype. She has a lot of good information. Fav her link to keep up on the buzz in the publishing industry.

It you want to go straight to her write-up on Book Tour, click here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Release by M.E. Ellis

Wild Child Publishing has released the latest ebook. Quits book 2: devils is the followup to the original Quits book 1: demons.

I haven't read this one yet, but I know it will be good as evidenced by M.E.'s published works. Check M.E.'s blog here for information on all her works, plus a bunch of really funny posts.

"Still tormented by the demons from his past, Wayne Thomas embarks on a course of therapy at the Klinter Institute. His therapist, Jen, is eager to ensure he faces every single demon he encountered in his childhood and to re-establish Wayne into society. With the help of Kathy, a speech therapist, and Herbert, a physiotherapist, Wayne begins to rebuild not only his mind, but his body and self-confidence. Once therapy makes a marked improvement upon Wayne, he is offered the chance to move out of Klinter to The Apartments, the second stage of his integration.

However, inner demons and devils are sometimes hard to erase. Wayne's linger in his subconscious, waiting for a chance to break free once more, to wreak havoc within his unstable mind. Will Jen's hard work pay off? Or will Wayne spiral into a world where redemption and payback rule?"

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Interview BY Edward Cox

In a turnabout is fair play move, Ed Cox decided he wanted to interview me. I think he's honing his interviewing skills by playing with a captive audience: me. Here's his interview.


Marva Dasef, writer and interviewer extraordinaire, had been entertaining us with her tales and interviews for sometime now. Recently, she kindly gave me a loan of her interviewing microscope in the good faith that I needed it for an interview . . . little did she know that she was my intended victim all along . . .

EC: Hello, Marva. you've had you fingers in many pies lately with the release of "Tales of a Texas Boy", and the "Cadida" stories, not to mention your successful run of interviews and other shorter works. Do you plan to keep your horizons broad, or do you feel that one particular pie will ultimately present a plump that you'll stick with?

MD: Yes, I've been very busy with all this and more. And, boy, am I exhausted! Once all these pies are baked, then I'll definitely move on to something new. I do have a YA fantasy in the works and I write a variety of genres in my stories. I'd like to write more stories, of course, but I'd love to work up the energy to write a novel. Heck, don't all writers hold that out as the Holy Grail? It makes you feel all grown up and such.

A nice man who bought four copies of Tales (see how nice) said he was looking forward to Tales of a Logger. He knows my father (the narrator of Tales of a Texas Boy) and has heard a few of his exploits over a 50-year career in the logging industry. Sigh. Here I am an environmentalist and my father wanted to clearcut Oregon. Fortunately, he didn't succeed but it's not like he didn't try and still has schemes going at age eighty-five.

Okay, now I'm rambling. Next question, please.

EC: So what did your Dad think of "Texas Boy"?

MD: Oh, he loves it. He doesn't display his emotions. Tough guy and all that. But that he keeps giving away copies to everybody is pretty good evidence that he likes it. Darn it. He insists on buying them from me, so he gets them at my cost.

This is a good place to point out that the reason I self-published is not because I couldn't sell Tales through the normal channels. After all, seven of the stories were picked up by on-line and print journals. It's a timing matter. My father is eighty-five. Although he's in reasonably good health and might live to ninety or older, I couldn't take the chance that he'd never hold his book in his hands.

A publisher has accepted Tales for ebook. Eventually, it might sell enough ebooks to get print publication. As we know, small presses don't sell huge numbers. It could be an ebook for too long. Besides the ebook doesn't even have my personal touches like the old photos illustrating the stories. Some are family pictures, but there just weren't enough to fit the stories. My Aunt Dorothy made off with all the photos and who knows where they are now. We don't have much contact with her kids since she and her husband both died.

EC: It's funny how photographic memories get lost that way, and it seems to be a reoccurring theme with many families. Do you find researching fiction based on fact harder or easier than the Speculative Fiction you write? What are your research techniques generally?

MD: Most of what I write, I do at least some research. The amount depends on the genre, of course.

When I'm writing science fiction, I'll research quite a lot. I don't want anything too fantastical in it. I look at astronomy, theories on FTL, androids, space stations, things like that.

I research fantasy, too. I started the Cadida series with just my own ideas. Once I got going, I started to incorporate the mythology of ancient Persia and Babylonia. I've found the Encyclopedia Mythica a wonderful source on all mythologies.

For Tales, I researched a lot. My father provided some bare bones of stories and I had to provide the settings and make sure what I added to flesh out the stories was historically accurate for the period. You wouldn't believe how long I spent on how to crank start a Model T. For Texas history, I found the Handbook of Texas Online a great source of information. Every state should support such a thorough reference. Many probably do; I just happened to be researching Texas.

My research technique is probably just like everybody else: Google. I've also collected a variety of links to general information, such as on-line encyclopedias. Wikipedia is wonderful, but if you're going for hard facts, you need to follow up elsewhere to verify the information is true. Usually, I follow the outside links on all articles to make sure.

EC: You mentioned earlier that your ultimate goal is to write a full-length novel. Any firm ideas cooking away at the back of your mind?

MD: A barely simmering thought, if anything. I'm toying with the idea of a tell-all (but fictional) novel about early Silicon Valley, specifically the beginnings of a certain computer products store (hint: begins with Comp and ends with Land). Why, you might wonder? I was there, working with the people who clawed, lied, and cheated their way into becoming multimillionaires. Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, court cases, off-shore accounts--all the elements of a real potboiler. But first I have to learn how to write sex scenes. That's hard to do with one hand clapped firmly over my eyes. Hey, I write kids' books; the adult stuff embarrasses the hell out of me.

However, I know people who write adult (ahem) books. Maybe they'll give me some hints.

EC: Would that be taking tips from Jackie Collins, or a grittier approach, say like Chuck Palahniuk's "Invisible Monster"?

MD: Uh. I guess I'd have to go read something by the two authors to answer the question. I think I read something by Jackie Collins when I was a teenager. Seemed soapish to me. I saw the movie Fight Club and Palahniuk is a lot grittier than I could ever write. Answer: neither one. Chuck Palahniuk and I are both University of Oregon alums. That's where any resemblance between us ends.

EC: Ok, side-stepping the bad question, it sounds as though you're keen to delve into unfamiliar territory. Do you feel that seeking out new areas and techniques is an important part of being a writer? For you, is it a conscious effort, or part of a natural process?

MD: Definitely. I've seen writers who succeed at one thing, then just keep repeating themselves. This includes some pretty famous authors. It's absolutely fun to sell your work, but it's even more fun to sell something you've never done before. Yes, I want to move on to ideas different from anything I've done before.

On the other hand, I like to come to some feeling of completion on a project as well. I've got six Cadida stories lined up with Sam's Dot Publishing. In every story, I've deliberately left an opening to go to a new adventure. I've got ideas for a couple more of these, but I'll need to close it, tie up the loose ends and move on.

With the Tales of a Texas Boy stories, I've tried to wrap up by publishing the stories in a single book. My father just told me another bit the other day. I'm waffling on it. Write more or just leave it as a job well done? In a year or two, I might be ready to write another Texas Boy story, but not right now.

That's why I'd like to try something more adult. I've got a few horror stories out that I wouldn't want kids to read. I feel the need to stretch myself in that direction and any other directions that arise. I know some authors writing erotica. It's intriguing. Can I even do that? Why not try and see what happens?

EC: Now you have quite a few interviews under your belt, what's your philosophy on interviewing, and how does it feel to finally be under your own microscope?

MD: My philosophy is to encourage the interviewee to say whatever is on their mind, but to try to direct it to their current work. Nearly all my interviews have been for authors with just-released books, so that definitely sets a direction. On open-ended interviews, such as this one, I like the back and forth with emails we've done. I think I'll use it in future interviews on my blog.
I didn't feel like a bug on a slide, so you must be a good interviewer. ;-) Thanks for the invitation.

EC: Thanks for the compliment. Let’s get speculative: you're given one single genie's wish, and it has to be used selfishly - Go!

MD: My first thought is the fortune of Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, or even Queen Liz. Then, I realized I couldn't be completely selfish if I was that rich. My first urge is to start giving money to people in need. My second thought is to have the writing skills to be a world renowned author. Darn it. Too much work even if you're a great writer. Besides, I'd get all that money and start giving it away.
Third is excellent health, which means I'd live as long as possible and not regret still being alive into my hundreds. Then, it occurred to me the evil genie would make sure I was dirt poor and living on the streets my whole life. You can't trust those genies, you know. I've come to the conclusion it's impossible to have a completely selfish wish. Anything truly selfish will eventually make you miserable. So, my wish is "Go away and leave me alone, you rotten genie!"

EC: Let’s coin a Marva favourite, shall we? This is where you get to say anything you like.

MD: I'm a very privileged person to be able to spend my time writing stories. I'm enjoying the writing, the interaction with other writers, and even marketing my books. Well, that last not so much. I hope that people read and like what I write. My purpose in doing this is not to become a famous writer, since that's not likely to happen, but it's nice to have a small, but loyal, following of readers who like what I do.

I've written and sold fantasy, science fiction, horror, childrens, humor, and even an essay or two. That I've had some success in so many different areas makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I'd especially like everybody to read at least one story from Tales of a Texas Boy. I'm rotating stories on the Excerpts page of my website and there are a few available through links on the Tales page (http://marvadasef.com/). If you enjoy one, maybe you'd enjoy them all.

EC: Marva, it was an absolute pleasure talking to you.
MD: Thanks, Ed. Maybe you can find a home for this interview when I become famous, eh?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Identifying Your Market

I just got back from a selling trip. I walked about one block down the street to deliver a copy of Tales of a Texas Boy - Large Print Edition to a neighbor.

Last week, I posted flyers on the bulletin boards located on the mailbox kiosks in the 55+ manufactured home park where I live. I attached business cards to each flyer so nobody would have to remember the information when they get home. I should mention that the narrator, Eddie, is my father. The book contains mostly true (think Tall Tales) stories about him. My parents live across the street from me.

I got my first sale from this strange marketing technique. Of course, I also received a tour of the lady's garden when I delivered the book. That was a definite bonus. Her husband, like my father, is losing his vision. He can still read the large print editions, so my neighbor thought it was nice that she could get a book written about a man she chats with often.

Think global, sell local. Your best customers might be living right down the street from you.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Interview of Me by Bryan Catherman

My friend, Bryan Catherman, not only recommended Tales to his blogreaders, he decided to interview me.
For most writers of short story fiction, an idea is developed, a manuscript is written, query letters go out, rejections come in, and eventually he story is accepted and published. The writer celebrates and then moves on, often reinventing the wheel every time. No so for Marva Dasef, short story writer and author of Tales of a Texas Boy.
Read the entire interview on Bryan's blog, The Hopeless Writer. Gotta laugh at the blog name. Bryan is the patron saint of Hopeless Writers?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Recommendation for Tales

Bryan Catherman (disclaimer: he's my friend) wrote up a recommendation for Tales of a Texas Boy on his blog. He is, indeed, qualified to express his opinion since he's read most, if not all, the stories while they were in various phases of readiness. He also bought the book and it was duly delivered by the postal service. So, since he's now read every last story, he is eminently qualified to comment.

Here's where to read the recommendation.

Oh, yeah. The picture above is one I used in the book. That darling little boy is really my father. The story: "No Angel." Every story has an old-time photo illustration. Some are family pictures and the rest are ones I found that just seemed to fit the story.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Edward Cox - Living Stone Release

Edward lives in the Essex area of England and has just completed his BA Honours degree in creative writing at the University of Luton. He was first published in 1999 and hasn't looked back. He's a regular in the Sam's Dot Publishing world of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Read more about Ed on his website and on his MySpace page.



Marva: Thanks for dropping by, Ed. Let's get right to it. You have a novella just being released from Sam's Dot Publishing. Tell us a bit about "Living Stone."

Ed: It’ s essentially a vampire story, set in a place called Forest Gate in the Eastend of London (which, incidentally, is where I was born). The story is divided between two timeframes: one present day, the other 1000 years ago.

The present day thread follows a policeman called Oscar who’s on the trail of an enigmatic serial killer known as Old Herne. Old Herne has reputation for being particularly brutal in his killing methods, and always dumps his victims’ bodies at an old, abandoned church in Forest Gate. The past timeframe deals with the builder of this church, Morgan, and his mysterious apprentice. It’s this yesteryear thread that plants the plot seeds that reach fruition in Oscar’s timeframe.

It’s difficult to say much more without spoiling the plot; there are a few twists and secrets along the way that don’t get answered until the end. And although "Living Stone" will be classed as a vampire tale, I like to think it’s a little more than that, as it’s sprinkled with a healthy dose of fantasy. Oh, but I can say that Tim Ramstad has done a great job with the cover art. He’s a very talented guy.

Marva: I understand this story was part of your thesis for your recently-earned BA Honours Degree. What's your school and how the heck did you manage writing a vampire story for your thesis?

Ed: Hah! Well, there’s no secret, really; my degree was in the subject of creative writing, and was conducted at the University of Luton (now Bedfordshire), which is just north of London. You see, at the time, I’d already been writing stories for many years, but always felt there was something missing from my technique that I couldn’t put my finger on. I knew I needed help if I wanted to improve as a writer. I spent a long time finding the exact type of course that I wanted to do, one that dealt directly with actually sitting down and writing, and wasn’t steeped in academia. Although academics will come into any university course to some extent, the creative writing degree at Luton was mostly based on coursework, and what the students’ imaginations could dream up.

It lasted three years, and covered many individual modules like Science Fiction, Fantasy, Poetry, Reviewing, Scriptwriting, etc. The thesis module was called Special Projects, and ran the entire length of the final semester. We were assigned a project supervisor (I was lucky enough to get my main lecturer and mentor, Keith Jebb – a great man and poet), and then we had to write a proposal for what we wanted our Special Projects to be. Mine was obviously "Living Stone", and my supervisor passed the proposal. I got an ‘A’ for my efforts, which ensured that I attained a 1st with honours for the BA, which made me very smiley indeed J see?

Incidentally, I should say a big thank you to Terrie Leigh Relf here, and I’ll explain why: I originally wrote "Living Stone" as a 4000 word short story for Hungur magazine, of which Terrie is the editor. She liked the tale, but declined it because the plot was too short and confusing. She was very helpful, and suggested that it perhaps needed to be a bigger story. It made sense as there was so much history and detail that I hadn’t explored, and I’d forced the word count to fit Hungur’s 4000 submissions limit. Once I started exploring the tale further, it was like opening a can of worms, that was, on occasion, maddeningly frustrating to write. I’m pleased with the results, though, and I’ll be forever grateful for Terrie’s advice, and that I was smart enough to take it. Not only did "Living Stone" get me top grades for the BA, it was also good enough for Tyree Campbell to believe in it as a publication of its own. Sometimes it really does take another to make you appreciate what you have on your hands.

Marva: What else are you working on? Any novels in your future?

Ed: I’m fortunate inasmuch that I never seem to be shy of story ideas. I probably have more than I’ll get around to writing in my lifetime, which, as a writer, is good, but also sad; I’m only 35 and I already worry that I don’t have enough time left, and I try to write everything at once. At any given moment, I’m working on several projects, and switch my attention between them depending on how well each project is going. I have a really bad habit of forgetting pieces that I’m writing, too, and I’m always surprising myself when I rediscover stories, lurking half-finished at the back of my computer. For example, there’s a short novel called "Bone Shaker" that I have been working on periodically for the past ten years . . . I should really get that finished. To be honest, I think I’m a lazy person trapped in a busy person’s body.

As for the present, I’ve moved on from the BA straight into an MA in creative writing, again at the University of Bedfordshire under Keith Jebb’s supervision. For this I’m writing a novel, a fantasy with the current working title of "The Relic Guild". I’m also working collaboratively with Tyree Campbell on another novel called "Aoife’s Kiss", and with Terrie Leigh Relf on a short story. I’m also slowly piecing together a collection of my previously published and unpublished short stories and novellas. Once its ready, and I can start looking for a publisher, it’ll be kind of an "Ed – The University Years" anthology. To date, I did some of my best work during the BA, and I think it’ll make a good read.

In between these projects, I’m working on a few pieces of flash fiction and poems. Often, like many writers, I need to occasionally feel that sense of completion, so I always have a couple of short shorts around to counterbalance the longer projects. Also, I’ve been branching out a little of late, and I’ve just become a project editor for Sam’s Dot Publishing.

Marva: Now that you've graduated, are you looking for a real job?

Ed: To be honest, the future frightens the pants off me. At the moment the MA keeps me busy, and I have enough to get by. I’ve also run a couple of lectures at my university, and teaching does appeal to me. Though, if I pursued it as a career, it would definitely be with older students. At the moment, over here in England, teaching lower ages, outside of colleges and universities, is a nightmare job, and I wouldn’t touch it with a bargepole. Of course, like many writers, my ultimate aim is to earn my living as a storyteller. It’s what I do, what I’m best at – it’s who I am.

Marva: Here's where you get to add anything you want. Go for it!

Ed: Well, seeing as I’m all ranted out I guess I’ll end with a note to readers, writers and artists in the realm of speculative fiction. If you want to find out what’s going on in the independent press, and find some solid markets to submit your work, go to Sam’s Dot Publishing. Everything you need you will find there, including a community of like-minded and approachable folk.

Marva: Thanks for the visit, Ed. Best of luck on Living Stone.

Sunday, July 01, 2007