Laughter from a Moribund Writer

The first time I heard the phrase “The author is dead” in an intro to literary theory class, I was completely puzzled. We wouldn’t have many sequels if all authors were dead, now, would we?

But it didn’t take long to realize that the words were figurative. (Figurative language in a literary theory class? Who’da thunk?) Once a book is out in the world, it doesn’t matter what the author meant it to say. The book is open to the interpretation of all who read it.

This was one of the things that I worried about leading up to Demon’s Heart‘s release. Once it was out in the world, in a way, it would no longer be mine. It would be whatever the readers made it out to be based on their own experiences, tastes, opinions, and so forth.

But the day after release, I’ve already had a good laugh over this very concept. I’ve had two very dear people place Demon’s Heart on opposite ends of the romance spectrum. Romance! Do you know where romance falls on my list of things I think about when categorizing Demon’s Heart? Somewhere on level five or six. Sure, there’s a boy and a girl and teenage hormones play a role, but to have romance brought out as a principle sub-genre and critiqued as such in two very different ways . . . it made me smile. I suppose everyone views it through their own eyes.

What do you think? Is the author truly dead? Have you ever had a reader give you a totally unexpected perspective on your book?

If you’re interested, here are a few reviews that have rolled in. Enjoy!

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The Grand Reveal

Remember that post I wrote about first pages a while ago? A lot of you agreed that the first page or even the whole first chapter was a better standard for judgment than just the first line.

So guess what you get to read today?

The first two pages of Demon’s Heart, five full days before the rest of the world gets to see it!

Brace yourselves. Are you ready? Here you go!

***

The distant forest held Rustav’s gaze as forcefully as the hypnotic yellow eyes of a sea serpent. Quiet as the trees might be, sailors insisted that the mountain forest was every bit as deadly as a sea serpent’s iron coils. In spite of Rustav’s best efforts as a skeptic, the sailors’ tales seemed to hover in the air above the ancient trees, growing more insistent with every long, pounding stride Rustav took.

His legs gave out from underneath him, sending him sprawling into the tall grass at the foot of the mountain. Time for a break. Rustav crawled away from where he had fallen, making sure he was well hidden in the grass before lying flat on his stomach with his face in the dirt. As much as it hurt to lie on his bruised ribs, it was worse to lie on his back. Three days of hard travel had done little to help it heal; as soon as anything began to scab over, the motion of running or falling or hiding cracked the wounds open, and more blood seeped into the back of his shirt. If Karstafel could see the state of his clothes . . . but Karstafel wouldn’t ever see him again.

Hovering between sleep and waking, Rustav’s mind drifted back to the taverns at the port of Markuum. The raucous shouts of drunken, land-starved sailors surrounded him, each voice telling a different tale. Alluring sea serpents, ferocious mermaids, rabid pirates—and those were the tamer stories. The tales that stayed with Rustav, that inspired nightmares and set his skin crawling, were the tales of the demons.

The island demons were the loudest, the sailors said, and Rustav was inclined to believe them. His uncle, Karstafel, had dragged him along to the island of Burrihim on the king’s business when Rustav was only nine. All night, Rustav had huddled on the floor of the inn, each distant shriek notching his nerves a little higher. He had nearly ended up being sacrificed to the demons the next day for being too curious. No, Rustav had no doubt that the island demons were a threat.

But while the island demons had a shape, a sound, and a violent disposition, the forest demons were nothing more than a bodiless whisper, a shadow with nothing to cast it, a branch moving without wind. Sure, the sailors still told stories of men disappearing into the forest and never returning, but even the most practiced exaggerators couldn’t make the tales as gruesome as the island sacrifices. The simple truth, Rustav suspected, was that the mountain people had been telling tall tales of demons for ages to scare their children into behaving, and the stories had simply been taken up by the rest of the Courei peninsula as a way to ward off any mainland countries that might try to attack through the mountains.

He’d find out one way or the other soon enough. He had no doubt that Karstafel was already watching every port and scouring the valley for him. The mountains were his only remaining chance of escape. Dragging himself once more to his feet, Rustav rested his eyes on a small village just outside the forest’s edge. He’d stop there and see what he could scrounge; then he would see what awaited him in the trees. Even if there is something in there, Rustav thought as he forced his unwilling feet into a pounding run, it can’t be any worse than the island demons. He had eluded them; he could slip past any forest demons just as well.

He hoped.

***

Are you hooked now? Of course you are! You can click over to ehbates.com for preorder buttons if you haven’t ordered yours yet. Thanks for reading!

The Ghost of Coolness Yet to Come

Fun things are coming in the next six days until Demon’s Heart is released! Excerpts, interviews, maybe even a giveaway (because who can say no to free books?!). While you await the awesomeness that is to come, take a look at the great fiction coming out of Cedar Fort this December. Brand new books for all the readers on your Christmas list!

One Week!

Here we go, everyone! It’s one week to the release date! By this time next Tuesday, Demon’s Heart will be out in the world!

If you’re in the Seattle area and want to come celebrate the release with me, I’ll be at the Woodinville Barnes and Noble next Friday, December 12, from 4:00pm to 8:00pm. Besides a stack of super awesome books to sign, I will also have chocolate and bookmarks. You know you can’t resist chocolate and bookmarks.

If you’re not in the Seattle area, don’t forget that you can preorder through Barnes and Noble or Amazon.

And remember, the blog tour is starting soon! Keep watching for reviews, interviews, guest posts, and other fun bloggy excitement!

(Also, I apologize for the lack of a writing prompt yesterday. Life happened. I promise I’ll get one up next week.)

“Whenever you’re stressed, you wear the yellow tie.”

It’s been one of those weeks, folks. I’ve gotten abysmally lost three times on the way to three different libraries. My baby girl decided she only wants to take one nap a day. And it’s been pouring rain all—week—long.

If my name were Russell Morlin Duritz, I would be wearing a yellow tie.

Instead, I’m wearing Christmas socks and sharing exciting news!

On December 12 from 4pm to 8pm, I’ll be at the Woodinville, WA, Barnes and Noble with a stack of freshly-released copies of Demon’s Heart!

I’ll also have a bowl of chocolate and a few other fun things to hand out. Stop by to say hello and to eat my chocolate! I’d love to see any of you that are in the area!

Cabel Takes a Hand

Hi all! Cabel here. I’m taking over for today while Emily is recovering from last week. She’s over in a corner right now muttering about businessmen, ill-timed inspiration, and soap bottles. Frankly, I’m too afraid to ask. She did tell me, before she went to her corner, that I was to “extend her deepest apologies” that she hasn’t been able to respond to comments or keep up with everyone’s hogs lately.

(What? What about bogs?)

Oh. Blogs. Sorry. I wondered why she was so worried about a bunch of pigs. We don’t have blogs in my world. From what she’s told me, I’m writing a letter that will get picked up by someone called Internet and shown to people around the world. It must take an awful long time, but I bet Internet gets to meet some interesting people.

To be honest, I’m not sure why Emily picked me to fill in for her. I mean, there are a lot of other people in Demon’s Heart who could write a better letter than I could.

Rustav, for example. He’s traveled everywhere! You should hear him talk about walking the endless sands on the other side of the mountains, or sailing through a storm in the middle of the ocean, or even just the sailors he met in Markuum. I learned a new word or two from hearing about the sailors, let me tell you.

Dantzel would give you a rant about the king and the Guards that would make you want to pick up a sword and storm the castle right here and now. I hate them as much as she does, but boy, when she gets steamed, you’ll think you didn’t know what anger was before you met her. And she doesn’t always know when to stop. She’s had more than a few run-ins with the Guards because she won’t back down.

I would even have chosen Anton over me. Granted, he’s old, and he talks kind of slow and dry. But nobody knows more folk tales than he does. He can keep the tales coming over a fire longer than anyone I’ve ever met.

Me? I’m the errand boy for Pa’s store. The farthest I’ve been is to old Spinner’s house on the edge of the village. Pa keeps me close. He doesn’t want to lose anyone else to the Guards. I guess I understand, but sometimes I wonder why he doesn’t fight, doesn’t even resist. Doesn’t it make him angry, seeing them strut around after everything that happened? I wasn’t even there, not really, and I still want to beat those jerk Guards into the dirt.

Only problem is, I’m so small, I’m not sure I could reach their heads in a fight.

But I get the feeling that everything’s about to change. Something’s going to happen in Courei. Rustav tries to keep it off his face, but he knows too much about it. I’m scared that it’s going to hurt our village even more, but maybe it’ll kick people into action. Maybe we’ll have the strength to kick the murdering king off the throne. And maybe I’ll get to be a part of it, even if I am little.

Well, that’s all I’ve got for this blog. Time to hand it off to Internet and send him on his way. If you see him on his journey, give him a good meal. Traveling is a long and hungry business.

A Special Kind of Productivity

Today was a Monday sort of Wednesday. As a result, I spent one of my daughter’s naps finishing Sense and Sensibility, and the other nap making a Demon’s Heart playlist, which turned out to be a lot more fun than I was expecting. As such, I decided it was worth sharing with the world. Enjoy a peek at my eclectic music tastes!

1. I’m Still Here (John Rzeznik, Treasure Planet)
2. Nothing in My Way (Keane, Under the Iron Sea)
3. Ein Elefant für dich (Wir sind Helden, Von Hier An Blind) (*I laughed the first time I saw the title of this song–“An elephant for you.” But it’s sweet and pretty and one of my favorites from Wir sind Helden. Who’da thunk a song about elephants could be sweet and pretty?*)
4. I’m Happy Just to Dance with You (The Beatles, A Hard Day’s Night)
5. Tempus Vernum (Enya, A Day Without Rain)
6. We Might as Well Be Strangers (Keane, Hopes and Fears)
7. Home (Michael Buble, It’s Time)
8. The Fields of Pelennor (Howard Shore, Return of the King)
9. A Man I’ll Never Be (Boston, Don’t Look Back)
10. Iris (Goo Goo Dolls, Greatest Hits Volume One) (*Another fun name story: I flatly refused to listen to Goo Goo Dolls for years because I thought their name was so stupid. I still think so.*)
11. Day Will Come (Keane, Strangeland)
12. The Call (Regina Spektor, Prince Caspian) (*Probably the only good thing to come out of that movie.*)
13. Stand (Rascal Flatts, Me and My Gang)

What do you think? Have you ever made a playlist for your book?

Demon’s Heart Blog Tour!

Guess what, everybody? Demon’s Heart comes out four months from today! The publishing ball seems to be rolling faster and faster, with more exciting things to plan for every day. And the latest new development is . . .

 

Demons-Heart-blog-tour

 

I had never heard of blog tours before a few months ago, but I think it will be a lot of fun to see it develop! For more information, click here to see the blog tour site. If you’re interested in taking part, whether through an author interview, a book review, a giveaway, or something else creative and fun, leave me a comment or shoot me an email at bumblesbooks at gmail dot com!

Meet Rustav!

You know what the hardest part of editing is? Letting the manuscript rest. I’ve been editing until my eyes are crossed, and I know I need to leave it alone for a day; but man, it’s hard to take a step back and breathe. Thankfully, I can distract myself with the Meet My Character blog tour! My blogging buddy phantomwriter143 (I don’t actually know your name, sorry! I tried to find it on your blog and failed. Although maybe that’s on purpose.) over at Inkcouragement tagged me in her post. Hop over to her blog to meet Ava Mae Monaghan. She sounds like a super fun character, and I’m excited to buy a book about her one day!

So here are some insights to my character:

1. What is the name of your character? Is he/she fictional or a historic person?

Rustav is entirely fictional.

2. When and where is the story set?

The story is set in the small, fictional country of Courei, a peninsula cut off from the mainland by mountains and a forest that is said to be infested with demons. The time period is medieval.

3. What should we know about him/her?

Ooooh, there’s lots. You’ll have to read the book to find out most of it. I won’t spoil it for you here. But you can know that Rustav has a sort of twisted hero complex. He comes from an abusive past and likes to foul things up for the bullies in his life by getting others out of their grasp. He likes to think that he’s a rogue and a troublemaker, but a lot of people owe him a debt of gratitude for saving them from their tormentors.

4. What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?

What messes up his life? His abusive uncle, to begin with. A bunch of territorial mythical creatures. An island filled with demon-worshippers. He’s torn between being the worthless no-account he thinks of himself as and being the focal point of a centuries-old conflict that has turned his country from a peaceful buffer zone to a battlefield.

5. What is the personal goal of the character?

All he wants–at least, all he thinks he wants–is to jump ship and get out of Courei before it falls to the demons.

6. Is there a working title for this novel, and can we read more about it?

The title is Demon’s Heart, and you can read more at my website, ehbates.com, or on various other posts I’ve written here about it.

7. When can we expect the book to be published?

December 9! It’s also available for pre-order at Barnes and Noble and Amazon.

***

Thanks again for inviting me to join in, my friendly phantomwriter143! I’d love to meet the characters from the heads of Adrienne Quintana and David Ben-Ami. And from anyone else who cares to join in! If you take the plunge and introduce your character to the world, post a link in the comments section. I’d love to hear about them!