ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Feb. 8th, 2017 08:00 pm)
SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
 
Cheating on Indiana
 
I’ve had the strangest feeling lately that I’m cheating on Indiana.
 
As a writer, I mean—get out of the gutter. You see, my new novel is about to be published, and it’s set in Michigan. There’s nothing wrong with that. Lots of authors do this thing called using your imagination, in which their stories are set somewhere other than where they live. One of the best authors I know routinely sets her stories in California, even though she lives in Missouri. One of my favorite authors, L. Frank Baum, set most of his stories in places that don’t even exist.
 
But up until now, all my published works have been set in Indiana.
 
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. In fact, when I first started writing, none of my stories were set in Indiana. When you’re a teenager—at least, an introverted, emo teenager like I was—all you care about is getting out. Half my stories were set in space. Half were set on a fictional fire department, somewhere generally to the west. The other half either took place in other areas of this planet, or started here and then journeyed away.
 
(What, that’s three halves? That’s why I took up writing: I suck at math.)
 
But things happen and, long story short, I stayed in Indiana. Why? Because it’s an awesome place, when it’s not winter. I also moved from science fiction and action to romantic comedy—see above about things happening.
 
Years ago I had a literary agent for a time, and of the three novels he looked at he thought the first one I wrote, Radio Red, was the best. It was set in an area of northwest Lower Michigan where my family vacationed at the time. Why? Because my in-laws had a cottage there, and I had … debt.
 
Michigan is almost as beautiful as Indiana, but even colder.
 
 For whatever reason, Radio Red never sold. Maybe editors don’t like red—they’re always complaining about red ink. Instead the second one I wrote, Storm Chaser, sold first. It’s not only set in Indiana, but in my home county of Noble. I didn’t have to research a setting; there’s a fine line between brilliance and laziness.
 
I told my publisher that I was writing some short stories to help promote Storm Chaser. Showing awesome overconfidence in my ability to make them money, they said, “Great! Put them together, we’ll publish a collection.” All but two of the stories in Storm Chaser Shorts are set in Indiana.
 
Are you detecting a pattern? You should, because along came The No-Campfire Girls. Although inspired by a Missouri Girl Scout Camp, I set it in southern Indiana. Why? Because I stole some of the characters from another book of mine, an unpublished mystery set in, yes, southern Indiana. The rest of the characters I stole from Storm Chaser. Is it stealing when it’s from yourself? Or just another case of brilliant laziness? I’ve coined a new term.
 
The Storm Chaser sequel, (hey, it works for Hollywood) is The Notorious Ian Grant. Now, it’s not essential that a sequel be set in the same place as the original. But except for the main character, I didn’t have to invent new people or locations. Creating Ian Grant was exhausting all by itself; in Storm Chaser he’s mentioned in exactly one line, in which his sister calls him an “ingrate”. Great introduction, sis.
 
My first entry into non-fiction, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, can be described entirely by its subtitle: A Century or So With the Albion Fire Department. Granted, there are more than two dozen Albions in the United States; but come on—pay attention to the theme, here.
 
My unpublished “Slightly Off the Mark” columns were collected into the imaginatively named Slightly Off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns. See what I did, there? You can argue this one, but many of the columns are about Indiana, and by gosh they were all written in Indiana by an Indianian, so there.
 
(Indianian? No wonder we call ourselves Hoosiers.)
 
After that was what I call my picture book: Images of America: Albion and Noble County. Kidding, I never called it that, but it’s historical images and fun stuff about Albion and Noble County. Which are in Indiana. Any questions? I didn’t think so.
 
Last year we released Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving At All, and if I have to explain how that’s about Indiana … well, I just don’t.
 
(I also had a short story in Strange Portals and a humor piece in My Funny Valentine. I usually don’t count them as my wholly published work, but in this case what the heck—they’re both set in Indiana.)
 
So that’s … how many is that? Jeez, the other day I told someone I’m about to get my tenth book published, but if you don’t count the parenthesis above, Radio Red will only be my ninth. It gives me the warm and fuzzies, to say “only” nine. I’m on track to beat Isaac Asimov’s publishing record! Only 500 more books to go.
 
And now … well, Radio Red, like the Storm Chaser series, is set in a real place; but that place happens to be in Michigan. It’s been bought by Torrid Books, and has an official release date on March 7, and …
 
And I’m cheating on Indiana.
 
But I feel Hoosiers will forgive me. And if they don’t … well, then I can only imagine what they’ll think of my first spaceship story.
 
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Feb. 5th, 2017 11:11 am)

We've noticed that some of the links on our website are down--specifically, the ones to e-book versions of my three works published by Whiskey Creek Press/Start Publishing. We think this is because the company changed distributors (to Simon and Schuster).

They're still actually there, in all the usual places, just ... un-linked. But not to fear, Emily's working on it. In addition to repairing the links, she'll have Radio Red up on www.markrhunter.com soon, because she's awesome like that.

 

Radio Red is also distributed electronically through Simon and Schuster, by the way. And for those of you who haven't heard, I am indeed working on a prequel to the Storm Chaser series.

 

My professional geek friend Tabitha Grace Smith is getting married, and there aren’t a lot of people who deserve a happy life as much as she does. As a gift, I’ve dedicated a story to her. That’s right: I’m so cheap Tabz gets what would probably be called a fanfiction, if not for the fact that the character I’m writing about comes from my own stories. Still, I think anyone who knows her will see how she inspired the tale.

To set it up, the story is about Ian Grant, who’s on his way to Indiana to plan his sister’s wedding … although she doesn’t know that … and doesn’t like him. Ian used to chase trouble; these days it’s his reputation that does the chasing, as shown in this scene from early in The Notorious Ian Grant, when he finally reaches the Hoosier State and runs into Fran, a police detective:

 

 

Fran gave Ian an even closer look, if that was possible. “I’ve seen your jail book-in photos.”

“Was I smiling? Could you see my dimples?” Fran … probably had a nice smile. He almost regretted letting his agent talk him out of joining the cast of Lady Cop 3: Hollywood Vice, especially since his agent dumped him weeks later.

“You smiled, but the bloody nose and the missing tooth spoiled the effect.”

“They put the tooth back. See?” Ian gave her his most ingratiating smile, to no effect.

“Very nice. However, around here those trimmed stubbles are not in fashion.”

“I’ve driven for three days—”

 “May I ask your reason for being here, Mr. Grant?”

Uh-oh. Official voice. “It’s kind of a long—”

“Make it a short.”

“Okay: redemption.”

Fran stared at him.

“See, I have no redeeming qualities...so I need to develop some.”

After a moment Fran nodded. “Didn’t you once beat up a bouncer in L.A.?”

“It was in Malibu, and I only hit him once.”



 

So at least Ian recognizes the problem. But before this scene he spends several days driving from his California home—I wrote fanfics in which along the way he met up with the brothers from Supernatural and some characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. To celebrate Tabitha’s impending nuptials, here’s Ian making a stop along the way at a place that would be close to her heart. Happy wedding, Tabz! I wish you many happy returns.

 

 

CHAOS AT THE CON

 

 

 

Chaos at the Con )

            Shutting off his wedding planning audiobook, Ian braked and leaned forward as he approached the North Point Hotel and Casino, on the sunbaked Strip. “The Vegas Science Fiction Convention?” It sounded familiar. Hadn’t someone invited him to it?

            The smart thing would be to pass it by. He was on a strict timetable, after all, even though only he knew it. Besides, these cons tended to attract the same people, and Felicia Day didn’t like him much. Come to think of it, Stan Lee still had a restraining order on him, the old grouch.

            Ian whipped his Mustang into the parking lot. When it came to walking into possibly volatile situations, he had a reputation to maintain.

            The valet’s eyes widened when Ian hopped out of the car. “Dude, are you Ian Grant? You totally rocked as Acid Spitter in ‘Tormentor 2’.”

            “No, I’m just cosplaying him—how did I do?” He handed the young man his keys, and tried not to turn his head away from the reek of controlled substances. The stuff made him sneeze. So did memories of the “Tormentor” movie franchise. Especially the second one, his first, which he’d made during one of his rebellious stages. Well, more rebellious stages.

            “Whoa—you look just like him. But shouldn’t you have cosplayed the character, instead of the actor?”

            “Didn’t have the costume budget.”

            “Dude.”

            He would, Ian told himself, stick around just long enough to make a round of the booths, grab some food and drink, and hit the men’s room. Maybe not in that order. Definitely not in that order. It had been a long drive already.

            The men at the lobby door were dressed as Klingons. The earlier movie Klingons, not the reboot. Walking boldly up to them, Ian growled, “nuqneH!”

            The two took startled steps backward, and looked at each other. “We, um, don’t actually know any Klingon,” one said.

            “I said hello, kind of.” Taking on an offended expression, Ian brushed by, growling something that he hoped would be mistaken for an alien language. He knew only two words of Klingon himself, and used the second as he passed. “Nice Bat’leth.”

            “Oh, thanks. My brother made it for me in his shop.” He looked down at his bladed weapon, which really was nicely done, and totally missed that Ian had passed without a ticket.

Ian had no idea if he was supposed to present a ticket, but better safe than banned. “Like taking candy from a Klingon …”

            He made it well into the crowded hall before a woman wearing a blue box crashed into him. “Oh, sorry!” she said, as he helped steady her.

            “No problem. Aren’t you claustrophobic in there?” He waited for the inevitable shriek of recognition, which sometimes was followed with catcalls, and occasionally fruit.

            “Oh, no—it’s bigger on the inside. Thanks!” She went on by, flashing him a smile as she passed.

            Ian had a little experience in this genre, having built up his CV a bit with SyFy original movies. But with all that makeup he’d been unrecognizable in “Tormentor 2 or 3”, and managed to walk around the hallways mostly unrecognized. And thank goodness, considering his habit on that movie’s set of sneaking up on people in full makeup and freaking them out.

Those few people in the crowd who did find him familiar shook it off, assuming a celebrity would be busy on a panel, or at least have a handler. He even stumbled upon an autograph session and got signatures from half the surviving cast of “The Walking Dead”.

            It was nice. The closest he came to being stalked was when three fans cosplaying zombies chased him away from Norman Reedus. Personally, Ian thought there were enough zombies in Hollywood, let alone here.

            He consumed a Coney dog and headed toward the exit with a huge cup of soda—probably not a good idea, considering he had thousands of miles to go. Then someone grabbed him by the arm.

            “Mr. Grant! OMG, I didn’t think you’d be showing. We never got a response from your agent.”

            At first he thought it was a child. The top of her head came to his chin, and her long blonde hair was arranged in some kind of weird style that produced two tight buns on the top of her head. She wore a short, stylized schoolgirl outfit, spectacularly red, white and blue, with tall red boots and long gloves. Ian started to compliment her, but remembered the “child” part. “Say, how old are you?”

            “I’m nineteen. Why?”

            “Do you have any ID? That getup makes you look like you’re twelve.”

            “I’m Sailor Moon.”

            “Of course you are.” A glimpse of the exit reminded him of his timetable and he tried to pull away, but her grip was like the Jaws of Life. “Okay, are you really a superhero? Because if so, someone should point out that you forgot to take off your glasses.”

            With her other hand, she pushed up the red plastic frames. “I could make this outfit or buy contacts—I made a choice. Look, I know you’re trying to make time with me, but we’re late for the panel.”

            “I’m not trying—“

            “Please. Why do you think we invited you?” To Ian’s surprise, she started dragging him through the hall. “I’m Serena. That’s my real name, so deal with it.”

            He wasn’t sure why that name should be a big deal, but he could go with it. “So, I know your real name and that you hide your Moonish identity with glasses. Suppose I’m a villain?”

            Serena turned back, her gaze raking over his jeans, black t-shirt, and green cross-trainers. “That’s why you’re here, dummy.” A near-collision with two Cylons made the girl turn her attention back to their path. “Move it! Celeb coming through!”

            I have a bad feeling about this. “Listen, Serena, there’s something you need to know.”

            “If it’s about the shade of color on my bow, forget it—I did the best I could, and I’m not getting into any more kerfuffles.”

            “It’s a very nice bow, very … large. No, I needed to tell you I’m not Ian Grant.”

            She stopped, so quickly he almost slammed into her. Turning, she examined him closely. “You messing with me, bad boy?”

            “Um … I’m actually cosplaying Ian Grant. How did I do?”

            For a long moment, Serena stared at him. Maybe it was the glasses, but Serena’s eyes seemed to be throwing sparks. “Why didn’t you dress up as one of his characters?”

            “I figured he was a character in and of himself.”

            “You got that right.” After a quick glance around her, Serena grabbed two hands full of Ian’s t-shirt and drew him down to his level. “Now listen here, faux-Grant. I promised the panel I’d bring a guy in. Simon Helberg punked out on me. Mark Sheppard wouldn’t even return my calls.”

            The combination of names stirred Ian’s memory, but he couldn’t quite place why. “Well, that’s just—“

            She gave an extra tug, and lowered her voice so she could just be heard over the crowd. “So here’s what we’re going to do. You’re going to go on with this perfect impersonation of Ian Grant, and attend the panel. Afterward, assuming you survive, people will buy you drinks and suck up to you, and women dressed as green Orion slave girls will want to go up to your hotel room and let you lick their makeup off. It’s lime Kool-Aid. But if you don’t do it, I will personally make you look like you’re wearing that acid-spitter makeup again. Capisce?”

            “Wow. You’re incredibly sexy right now. Was Sailor Moon this take-charge?”

            She tugged on him again. “My version is. And thank you. Now, are you coming?”

            Ian checked his phone. He’d tarried too long, but getting to Indiana a few hours later shouldn’t be such a big deal. He also saw six texts from his newly ex-girlfriend, the first of which started with several X-rated words. But never mind that … Sailor Serena clearly needed his aid and, contrary to his reputation, he couldn’t stand not coming to the aid of a damsel in distress.

            “Okay, Princess. Count me in.”

            “Yay!” Serena grabbed his arm again, and they hurried toward a conference room door while she spoke urgently into a cell phone. Ian didn’t hesitate, confident he could charm any audience.

            Then he saw the sign, shouting out the panel’s purpose from the main entrance:

            MEET THE CAST AND CREW OF THE TORMENTOR MOVIES

            “Ladies and gentlemen—please give a big Vegas Con welcome to actor Ian Grant!”

            Serena shoved him forward, then took a guarding position in the doorway. There had to be a thousand people in the room … although “Tormentor 3” had been released years before, the franchise kept chugging along.

            As Ian headed toward the front, he tried to gauge his chances of being lynched. About half the audience cheered wildly, while the applause of the rest could best be called “polite”. The good news was that, although he recognized most of the actors, producers and writers on the panel, none had a restraining order against him. The bad news was that they were all women.

            One of them—the producer of the series—pointed toward the podium. “Late as usual, but your timing is impeccable, Ian. By all means, do take the center seat.”

            “Ah … the place of ‘honor’.” Stressing the word got him a laugh, so when he took his seat Ian turned the soda so the cup’s logo faced the audience. “I don’t have an endorsement contract, but what the heck—maybe they’ll decide to give me some money later.” Another laugh. So far, so good.

             “Hello, Ian,” said an actor beside him, in such a silky smooth tone that he immediately knew he was in trouble. “I assume you know why you’re here?”

            “To be tarred and feathered?” It couldn’t be a coincidence that they’d been seated side by side. He’d dated Terri, a former gymnast hired for her athletic ability, who’d become the tough star of the entire “Tormentor” franchise. In fact, he’d started dating her on the set of the second film … and she dumped him during post-production. “Hello, Terri. Haven’t seen you since you ran over me with a tank.” Come to think of it, almost every woman here had killed him, directed him being killed, or written him being killed.

            “We were just discussing how you were something of the court jester on the set, with your puns, practical jokes, always breaking up the crew …”

            A titter ran through the audience. What had they been talking about before he arrived? He’d been twenty-one when he joined the franchise as the main villain. A kid, full of vigor and empty of thought, except for the thought of sex. Ian was barely able to hide a shudder. “Well … I’m still bad with the puns, although I’d like to think I’ve matured a little overall.”

            That brought a laugh from both the audience and the panel, who all apparently thought he was joking.

            “Talking about you on the set got us on the subject of sexism in the entertainment industry.” This from a redhead further down the line, who Ian recognized with a start as a fairly well known director of other films. She’d been a production assistant when he signed on for “Tormentor 2”. She’d also fallen for a certain rakish actor who was happy to fall right back, until a week later when she decided he was too immature for her. That made Terri a rebound relationship.

            Oh, boy. I’ve been set up. They were either going to talk about me, or jump down my throat. And the worst part is, they might be right.

            When Ian didn’t reply, the redhead continued. “Our contention is that sexism runs rampant in the entertainment industry, not to mention it’s a continuing problem at cons like this. We thought it would be only fair to get the other side’s point of view.”

            “The other side?” This must be what it’s like to dance in a minefield. “Do you mean the other side as in men, or the other side as in sexist people?”

            “Is there a difference?”

            The audience held its collective breath.

            Where the hell were Shephard and Helberg when he needed them? Wait, hadn’t they been killed off in IV and I, respectively?

            Before Ian could formulate an answer, Terri spoke again. “It’s pandemic in Hollywood, and has been since the beginning. Your father could probably speak about it even more than you could.”

            Ian felt his hands close into fists, and forced them into his lap as cold swept through him. “My father? Well, it depends on your definition of sexist. Charles Grant never looked down on someone in the business because of their sex, never treated them differently other than to watch his language and hold the door for them.  If being a good man is sexism, then yeah.”

            Ian stopped, feeling his face redden in the silence. That went south fast.

            “But I thought you hated your father,” someone in the crowd said.

            “I thought I did, too.” Carefully, Ian placed his hands flat on the podium. “Maybe I was just jealous because he’s a better man than I.”

            “Then what about you, Ian?” Terri seemed determined to get back on track. “Would you call yourself a feminist?”

            Wow—loaded question time. “Not really. I never gave it much thought, to be honest.”

            “But a person who dumps enough women gets a reputation.”

            “Yes, and someone who believes everything they read in scandal sheets gets stupid.”

            Terri leaned back, eyes and mouth wide.

            “I’ve broken up with exactly two women in my entire life. Usually they leave me, because I’m a reprobate.” The crowd tittered. “Did I use the word right?”

            A few seats down, the producer spoke up. “You did … and three syllables, too.”

”It’s all that fancy book learnin’. I know my own weaknesses. But I would never consider a woman to be a weaker sex.” He rubbed his sore arm, and looked across the crowd to see Serena, who was staring at him intensely. His cosplay game, at least as far as she was concerned, appeared to be up.

            “Yes, but what about …” Terri’s brow furled. She was, he assumed, trying to think of a time during his hard partying ways when he’d been seen treating a woman badly.         

            Time to twist the knife a little. “In fact, I remember a movie set in which not one, but two women made passes at me. Man, you are so good at skating on thin ice.

            Terri and the redhead—Robin, that was her name!—had the good grace to blush. Thank goodness, for his case, that Robin well and firmly dumped him before Terri cornered him in her trailer. Running lines, indeed!

            “I guess what I’m saying is, a man can have fun and be a basic ne’er do well without objectifying women.”

            Ah, an appreciative laugh. He had the crowd.

            “Ian …” Terri had a look on her face, one he should have recognized and feared from entertainment reporters. “Why do you think sexual harassment is such a problem at cons?”

            “Well, I don’t know—I suppose if you get a bunch of undersexed nerds who aren’t familiar with being in social situations, they need to learn to take the feelings of others into consideration.”

            A communal gasp.

            Oh, I’m so stupid. Always talking first, thinking later. Ian glanced around for an exit.

            “But aren’t all these people nerds?” Smiling sweetly, Terri swept her arm out toward the crowd. “A thousand nerds, and you just called them anti-social and backward.”

            “I didn’t call them backward!”

            The audience murmured. Angrily.

            “And so many of these nerds are women,” Terri continued. “How does being a nerd give men a pass to make a pass, but not women?”

            “I didn’t say it gave them a pass! It’s an issue of consent. Look, if a nerd woman wants to be horny. I absolutely approve and that didn’t come out right.”

            By the main door, Serena suddenly pointed at him and shrieked, “That’s the real Ian Grant!”

            It should have confused everyone. But the crowd took Serena’s sailor suited words to mean something else, something much worse. A low chant began: “The real Ian Grant. The real Ian Grant …”

            When young, he’d dreamed of being in a place where women outnumbered him. Here was fate, laughing at that dream.

            Then two Klingons burst through the door, almost knocking Serena over. “Stop that man!” one of them yelled, brandishing his Bat’leth. “He’s an imposter! And he didn’t register!”

            “I gotta go.” Standing, Ian grabbed at his soda.

            “Where are you going, Ian?” Grinning, Terri tilted her head with the expression of someone who’d managed mayhem.

            “Um … Albuquerque.” Better a lie than to lead an angry crowd to Indiana. Leaving the soda, Ian made for a side exit he’d identified earlier. Safety first. One of the other panel members tried to trip him, but he’d long ago learned to vault such small obstacles

            Ian slammed through the exit into a side hallway. He oriented himself, then headed toward the convention center’s front doors—which took him right by the main entrance to the conference room he’d just left. The startled Klingons whirled, while beside them Serena caught his eye and gave him thumbs up.

            “Real or not, best panel ever! Now get out, or I’ll punish you.”

            “Thanks for the good time, Sailor Serena!” Twisting his way through the crowd, Ian knew he had it made. There would be confusion behind him, and any mass attempt to chase him would come up against the crowd already there. He reached into his jeans pocket for his keys.

            His hand came up with a valet ticket.

            “Shoot. I mean, frak.” Still another example of him not thinking things through. He twisted around, taking in the crowd, then raised his voice and pointed back the way he’d come.

            “It’s Joss Whedon! I just saw Joss Whedon over there! Nathan Fillion is with him!”

            For an instant the crowd froze—then the stampede began. He dodged over to a booth and hugged the wall until most of the screaming crowd swept past, then broke for the front doors.

            The entrance was now being guarded by Batman and an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., or maybe a Man In Black. “Hey! There are two Klingons back there attacking people with a Bat’leth.”

            The two stood on tip toes, trying to see over the mob. “A real Bat’leth?” Batman asked.

            “I think it’s plastic molding—they’re bopping people over the head with it. One of them just smashed a Sixties model of The Enterprise.”

            No!” The two left their posts, heading back to where two blood-smelling mobs had crashed into each other.

Rushing outside, Ian found the same valet waiting with a somewhat vacant expression. “Dude, man, I’ve got a confession: I really am Ian Grant.”

            “Oh, man. Dude.”

            “And I’ve got a hundred dollar tip if you get my Mustang back here fast. But without damage. And no smoking in it.”

            “Um, you mean no more smoking?”

            Now!”

            Taking the ticket, the valet ran as if the “Lost” smoke monster was chasing him.

            Which, in this place, it might be. Ian looked around for the best place to hide. The parking lot was too far, and if he went inside he might not be able to reach the door again before a rabid mob of aliens and space queens tore him into bite sized chunks.

            “Ian! Over here!”

            The woman who waved him over stood near the door, wearing a strange silvery dress that gave her a bell shaped appearance, and was covered with little half spheres. She also wore a headpiece that caused what appeared to be a toilet plunger to poke out from her forehead. It took a moment for him to recognize the face.

            “Aren’t you the lady in the blue box?”

            “Costume change. Speaking of which …” She grabbed his already sore arm and dragged him over to where the box had been placed, by a wall not far from the door. “Get in, and keep your head in. Pretend you’re a turtle.”

            “But I’ll never—“

            “Bigger on the inside.” She shoved him closer, and Ian reluctantly stepped into the box and swung it shut around him. Sure enough, he was just able to fit his torso and head into it, although his legs stuck out. His savior’s voice was muffled. “Just stand there and look like you’re cosplaying.”

            “You knew who I was all along!”

            “No, I didn’t figure it out until you passed.” Something hit him on the head, and by luck he managed to catch a pen as it fell past. “Sign the inside of the box! And not on the picture.”

            “What’s your name?”

            “Tabitha.”

            “You’re a lifesaver, Tabitha.” Maybe literally.

            He heard a commotion go by, and chose to ignore it as he squinted to find a place that hadn’t already been signed. Electing to avoid the area around Felicia Day’s autograph, he picked a spot between Katee Sackhoff and David Duchovny and wrote a very heartfelt note. Boy, a lot of celebrities had been in this thing.

            He tried to ignore the face that stared back at him. Affixed to the rear of the box’s doors was the photo of an older, gray haired man with craggy eyebrows, staring at him with such intensity that he had flashbacks to his father’s most famous looks of disapproval. “The Twelfth Doctor, I presume?” Ian muttered. “Do you need a separate agent for those eyebrows? What, they don’t have hair trimmers on your planet?”

            The noise died down, and after a moment the door swung open to reveal Tabitha. “You didn’t hurt Peter, did you?”

            “I beg your—“

            “Hurry, they’ll be back soon.”

            Ian stepped out of the box, and found the crowd had disappeared. “Where are they?”

“Half of them think they’re chasing you around the parking lot, and the other half are trying to keep the Klingons from tearing up the “Star Trek” table. The Klingons are very confused.” Tabitha grinned. “They turned on the loudspeaker from your room, and ... well, usually I only collect autographs, but I figured this time I’d collect a rescue.”

            “It was my pleasure.”

She shook her head. “I could tell they were setting you up, but next time somebody brings up a serious issue, try to think about it … well, seriously. Okay?”

“I’ll never let my words get me in trouble again. Geronimo!” Ian kissed her on the cheek, then headed for the parking lot.

            The valet stood there, smiling as he held out the keys. “That was legendary, man.”

            “I know, right?” He slapped a bill into the valet’s hands and grabbed the keys, then headed for the car. “Can’t help noticing the windows are all open.”

            “Air conditioner wasn’t working.”

            “Right. Take care, friend. You know, I wasn’t aware they had valets at events like this.”

            “Dude, they don’t. You never actually asked if I was the valet—I gave you a movie ticket. I just hang out here because nerd girls are sexy.”

            “So they are.” Before Ian could say anything more, he glimpsed an approaching crowd of aliens and superheroes, and hit the gas.

            As he left town, Ian Grant rolled up the windows and turned on the air conditioner, which worked just fine. He’d had more surreal experiences, he decided, although not all at the same time. From here on in, straight to Indiana—no more side trips. And no more joking before he thought.

            Naturally, he became immersed in his wedding planning audiobook and soon took a wrong turn. It didn’t hit him until later, the irony of going from The Vegas Science Fiction Convention to Nevada State Route 375 …

 

            Also known as the Extraterrestrial Highway.

 

 

 

 

Apparently this is the last couple of days you can order something and still be sure to get it before Christmas, which includes my books if you don’t buy them locally. I know … usually I try to hide my sales pitches behind humor, but honestly I’m exhausted.

A few days ago Noble Art Gallery asked for more copies of Images of America: Albion and Noble County, and I’m told Albion Village Foods has sent off for additional copies three times now. I don’t know how sales are going at Doc’s Hardware, Black Pine Animal Sanctuary, or the Old Jail Museum (which isn’t open this time of year), but as soon as I get medical clearance I’m going to do my happy dance.

Meanwhile I just finished another polishing of my newest book, now with the working title of Hoosier Hysterical: How the West Became the Midwest Without Moving at All. Emily has it for a fresh-eye review, and if we don’t get a bite from a publisher, we’ll probably self-publish in mid-Spring.

Also meanwhile, look for a free Christmas themed short story soon, as a present from us to you.

As always, check us out at www.markrhunter.com, because sometimes you just need a little book … or a big book. But most of mine skew shorter.

 

 

ozma914: (The Notorious Ian Grant)
( Oct. 20th, 2015 06:24 pm)

That gray period between the alarm going off and actually climbing out of bed can be used for something better than cursing the climbing out of bed part. Last night I woke up with a half-formed idea, possibly helped along by sinus drugs.

By the time I got up a the idea had solidified, right down to some characters and lines, for a new novel—a fantasy parody, kind of an anti-Harry Potter. (I mean in an anti-hero kind of a way; we’re very pro-Harry Potter in our house.)

Despite my history with humor, I’ve never written a full parody before—nor have I ever written a fantasy, so there I go genre hopping again. That’s the least of my problems, considering I get ten or twelve good story ideas for every story I actually get time to write. I also recently came up with an idea for a new book in the Storm Chaser series, although whether that ever gets written depends on sales of The Notorious Ian Grant.

Someday, one of my books will hit with a larger audience (I hope). When that happens, it might be a signal to stick with that one genre for a while, and build an audience. Meanwhile, all I really need for Christmas (other than book sales) is more time to write. Does anyone have a favorite, out of what I’ve published so far?

I’m posting this mostly for my benefit, so you can ignore it or, preferably, embrace it and send it to your friends all over the world. I’ve had a few (rather surreal) moments this summer when I struggled to remember all the works I’ve had published. Not that there are that many, but I’m putting them up as a list here so I can refer to it in a hurry, and/or refer it to a potential reader. This has made me realize my next book after Images of America: Albion and Noble County will be the tenth publication my name has been on! That’s assuming you don’t include newspapers.

 

 

Storm Chaser (2011): A famous weather photographer runs afoul of an Indiana police officer, who suspects she may be manufacturing disasters to photograph.

 

My Funny Valentine (2011): I have a piece in this anthology about Valentine’s Day, and how very wrong it can go.

 

Storm Chaser Shorts (2012): A series of short stories featuring characters from Storm Chaser and The Notorious Ian Grant. (E-book only)

 

Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department (2013): This illustrated history of my volunteer fire department was written for its 125th anniversary; proceeds go to the department.

 

The No-Campfire Girls (2014): When a group of teenage girls find out a drought will prevent campfires at their annual summer camp, they go to extreme lengths to bring on the rain. (Half the profits go to Girl Scout Camp Latonka in Missouri)

 

The Notorious Ian Grant (2014): A B-list Hollywood troublemaker tries to redeem himself by coming to Indiana to plan his sister’s wedding—whether she wants him to or not.

 

Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology (2014): Two of my characters from Storm Chaser and The Notorious Ian Grant have a Christmas encounter in this holiday themed fiction anthology.

 

Slightly off the Mark: The Unpublished Columns (2015): A collection of humor pieces published to “celebrate” being downsized from my weekly humor column job, and picked up again as a monthly.

 

Images of America: Albion and Noble County (2015): A photo-filled journey through local history, covering the settlement and early growth of this northeast Indiana county.

 



 

 

Well, I didn’t sell enough books to make my grappling hook throwing skills necessary, but it was for the best: Turns out my Batman suit doesn’t fit anymore. I promised that if I sold enough at the Saturday book signing I’d scale the Black Building, but over the years I’ve grown from Christian Bale Batman to Adam West Batman. It’s too bad, after all the work I did to find a Robin costume for Emily.

Still, we made some sales and had fun hanging with Dan Gagen at the Noble Art Gallery. And it goes on, in a way: Dan kindly allowed signed copies to be displayed in his gallery, there at the corner of Orange and Main in Albion.  I don’t know if I’d call it art … but if you want to pick up a copy of Slightly Off the Mark, Storm Chaser, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights, The Notorious Ian Grant, or The No-Campfire Girls, you can get them there while perusing the real art. (Friday and Saturday, 10-5.) You might also be able to pick them up in other local places soon, if I get off my butt and get it done.

Now I can just kick back and relax and … *insert hysterical laughter here* Nah, I’ve got another book coming out in a month and a half, and I’m already hip deep in the next project.

 

 

 

 

Here’s our Christmas present to everyone: A free short story on PDF, featuring two characters from “Storm Chaser”, The Notorious Ian Grant”, and “Storm Chaser Shorts”.

“Another Family” is set before the books and features two cops, a surprise snowstorm, and a special guest who needs police assistance. Oh, and family. Merry Christmas! You’ll find it on the website at http://markrhunter.com/extras.html

 

We sold several books at the signing Saturday, and got to talk to some great people. Thanks to the Kendallville Mini Shops for hosting us! One visitor picked up books for her relative in Ohio, and another recognized me and bought The Notorious Ian Grant because she liked Storm Chaser so much.

 

Thus ends book signing season—this year. You won’t be hearing much from me for several days as we finish a deadline for the new book project, but my Christmas “Slightly Off The Mark” column is up in the Kendallville Mall. If you don’t get it in the mail and you’re in Albion, pick it up from the box outside of the Albion Village Foods or check out “blogs” at 4countymall.com.

ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Dec. 6th, 2014 03:10 pm)

We sold eight books at yesterday’s signing! Hoping some will make good Christmas gifts. Thanks to our hosts, and good luck in their efforts to find a permanent Albion home for their art.

 

Now on to the next book signing, a week from now at The Mini Shops, 134 S Main Street in Kendallville. Look for us from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

That doesn't mean this press release is a work of art, but this is what I sent to the local news outlets. I have two theories about press releases: 1. Make them as easy for the news people to work with as possible.  2. It’s always worth a try.

 

For those of you who are in the area, don’t forget that in addition to this one, I now have a second book signing on December 13th, at the Mini Shops in Kendallville—134 S. Main Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

 

 

Art Sale, Book Signing Planned During Albion’s Christmas In The Village

            Visual and written art will be featured at a holiday open house during the December 5th Christmas in the Village in Albion.

Gagen Art is sponsoring the exhibit and sale, which will be at the historic Black building at 100 North Orange Street, on the southeast corner of Albion’s Courthouse square. Dan Gagen, whose paintings have previously been displayed at the location’s windows, is a noted local painter who’s invited fellow artists to display and sell their works from 4-8 p.m.

Also attending will be author Mark R. Hunter, whose diverse works include two romantic comedy novels, a young adult adventure, a collection of short stories, and a history of the Albion Fire Department. Two of his works came out in 2014: The Notorious Ian Grant, a romantic comedy set in northeast Indiana, and The No-Campfire Girls, a humorous adventure at an Indiana summer camp.

            Proceeds from Hunter’s earlier book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, go toward the Albion Fire Department, and copies of all the books will be available. It will be his second book signing of the year, although he hopes this one won’t be as adversely affected by the weather.

The event’s Facebook page is at https://www.facebook.com/events/310190809164184/, while more information is available about Hunter and his books at www.markrhunter.com. Several other activities are also being held around Albion’s Courthouse during the Christmas in the Village, including craft vendors, greeting Santa Claus, and the lighting of the Courthouse Square Christmas tree.

 

 

I’d planned on one book signing this holiday season … now there are three. In addition to the one coming up this Friday at 100 N. Orange Street, I’ll be doing another one a week later in Kendallville—only the second book signing I’ve ever done outside of Albion.

That one will be at The Mini Shops, 134 South Main Street, on Saturday, December 13th. At the moment we’re planning a mid-day signing: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. More information will be forthcoming, but meanwhile don’t forget to stop by the art show and signing in Albion, during the Christmas at the Village! That’s running from 4-8 p.m. December 5th, and here’s the event page for it:

www.facebook.com/events/310190809164184
Okay, here we go again! Thanks to Dan Gagen’s kind invitation to an artist’s open house, I’m doing another book signing this year: Friday, December 5th, from 4-8 p.m.

It’s the same evening as Albion’s Christmas at the Village, so we’re hoping to get a big crowd up on the Courthouse Square for all the activities going on. As for us, we’ll be at 100 N. Orange Street, the former Black Building at the stoplight, on the southeast corner—look for the place with the big historical mural on the side. Here’s the Facebook event page:

https://www.facebook.com/events/310190809164184/

Naturally, we’ll have all my books there … it would be a pretty sad book signing otherwise. This is a chance for anyone who (understandably) didn’t get out in the lousy weather during my previous book signing. Come look at the books, ask questions, and wait for Santa to go by and the Christmas tree to be lit. Bonus: Great art to look at! Dan is a fantastic painter, and has invited some of his artist friends to set up shop, too.

The bad news is, the book signing didn’t go so great. The good news is, the only person at fault was Mother Nature—and we already knew Mother Nature hates me anyway.

I did sell nine books, and got to talk to some great people, and hey—how better to spend a miserable day than in the library? But we got slammed by the weather. Local schools were canceled, roads and sidewalks were slick and icky, and the high temperature was lower than the normal low temperature for mid-November. Nobody wants to go out in crap like that, especially with wind and occasional snow squalls blasting through.

The folks at the Noble County Public Library—who were great, by the way—kept remarking on how amazingly quiet it was. Maybe I should have rescheduled, but after so much time and effort promoting it, I felt duty bound to go on. The library also put in a lot of work, complete with a flier that they posted on Facebook and on their monitor screens. So again, no one can be faulted but the weather, and I still sold more books than I have at some past signings.

My next step: Get those people who would have shown up if it had been nicer to buy books, and promote for Christmas shopping season! Because even an early winter won’t get me down. Much.

I’m sure some writers approach public appearances with the confidence of TV’s Richard Castle, who swaggers into every room like he has the world by the keyboard. Then again, maybe not … Castle seems to have become a bestselling novelist without ever actually writing. In other words, he’s every writer’s dream.

I, on the other hand, have to actually pound away at the keyboard to produce a manuscript. Probably I’m more representative. If that’s true, then most writers approach book signings with no confidence at all. What’s worse? That no one will show up at all, or that they’ll show up to point and laugh at your temerity in thinking you actually deserve any sort of success?

Like most things, the anticipation is worse than the reality. (Not with dentists. Oh, not with dentists.) Still, as I approach the next book signing, I can’t help thinking: Is somebody going to finally call me out?

Dude, you suck. What makes you think people will actually want to read your books?

“Hey, I’m published!”

So was Hitler.

“That’s just mean.”

That’s my subconscious speaking. But my subconscious assures me every time that real people will show up and say the same thing.

It used to whisper to me, “You’re a horrible writer!” Finally, after a few decades, I came to accept that I was actually a pretty good writer. Then it started whispering, “There are millions of good writers! You’re a little minnow in a big sea. You’re so pathetic that even your subconscious can’t come up with a cliché that doesn’t involve little fish in the ocean.”

Other times it gets bored and switches: You’ll never write full time! You’ll die at a keyboard, working two full time jobs and never taking the time to vegetate on the couch with chips and dip.

“Oh, yeah? Well, my wife and doctor won’t let me eat chips and dip anymore, so there!”

Nice riposte, use that in your imaginary Pulitzer speech.

Is it any wonder, then, that I hate promoting myself? Okay, I have a book signing coming up Monday, at the Noble County Public Library in Albion. So why can’t I just yell it out, rather than writing some long article about it? “Hey, be there! Three to six p.m. on Main Street! I’ll have all my books!”

You’re pathetic. That’s your own home turf, what are you worried about? Try having a book signing in Chicago, see who shows up there.

“You’re my subconscious, you just called yourself pathetic.”

I know. It’s pathetic.

You can’t win when you take on your own subconscious.

By the time November 17th rolls around I’ll be too worried about the details of the signing to let my inner voice bother me. I’ll sell some copies of my various works, go home happy that anyone bought any at all, and go back to work on my next book project.

Then the voice will start whispering again. But you know what? I’m a good writer, by gosh, so I’ll ignore it … at least, until it’s time to send in the next manuscript.

I signed a book for a Senator, so there.
ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
( Nov. 10th, 2014 04:22 pm)

Books? I got ‘em. Ahead of my book signing on November 17th, I took delivery of ten copies of Storm Chaser and twenty copies of The No-Campfire Girls, and I already had plenty of The Notorious Ian Grant and Smoky Days And Sleepless Nights on hand. Just in time for Christmas gift giving—to others, or yourself. I think I’ve even still got a few copies of My Funny Valentine around.

And don’t be surprised if you see some special prices when you show up that Monday.

Now all I need is people, so remember to stop by! 3-6 p.m. at the main branch of the Noble County Public Library, at 813 E Main Street in Albion. We’ll stay a little later if people are still wandering in. Look forward to seeing you!


What does a real, official writer’s press release look like? Well … I don’t know. But here’s the press release I sent out to the local media, minus my e-mail address and author photograph. Obviously it’s different from my less formal post from last week, but otherwise all I can tell you is that it’s probably too long for modern media outfits.

            Oh, if you have Facebook and want to let us know you’re coming, the event page is at https://www.facebook.com/events/359823550853994/. Or, you could just let us know you’re coming.

 

            Local author Mark R Hunter is visiting the Noble County Public Library’s main branch in Albion for a book signing Monday, November 17th.

            Hunter’s diverse works include two romantic comedy novels, a young adult adventure, a collection of short stories, and a history of the Albion Fire Department, in addition to a humor piece in the anthology My Funny Valentine. Two of his works came out in 2014:

            The Notorious Ian Grant, a romantic comedy set in northeast Indiana, came out in August and is a sequel to his first novel, Storm Chaser. Both were published, along with his e-book short story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts, by Whiskey Creek Press

            The No-Campfire Girls, a humorous adventure set in an Indiana summer camp, was released in June. Some of the proceeds go toward operating costs for Camp Latonka, a Missouri Girl Scout camp that once provided a second home for Hunter’s wife, Emily.

            Proceeds from Hunter’s other book, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, go toward the Albion Fire Department.

            Copies of all the books will be available for sale at the book signing, which will run from 3-6 p.m. and include some reduced prices. You can find out more about Hunter and his books at www.markrhunter.com, or on his Amazon author’s page at http://www.amazon.com/Mark-R-Hunter/e/B0058CL6OO/

Just in time for Christmas shopping, we’re having a book signing Monday, November 17th, at the main branch of the Noble County Public Library in Albion. We should have copies of all my books there, especially the latest one, The Notorious Ian Grant—which will be at a reduced price compared to retail.

The library is at 813 E Main St in Albion, and we’ll be there from 3-6 p.m.—and maybe a little later if there’s interest. Buy a book there, bring a book in, I’ll sign whatever’s put in front of me unless it’s by someone else, which would be a little crazy.

There will be copies not only of my new book but of Storm Chaser, The No-Campfire Girls, and Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century Or So With The Albion Fire Department. I think I still have a few copies of My Funny Valentine, too; sadly, Storm Chaser Shorts is available only as an e-book, and I don’t think we’ll have Slightly Off The Mark ready in time.

Hope to see you there! Here’s the Facebook event page address:

https://www.facebook.com/events/359823550853994/

 I've been writing crossovers between various fandoms and the main character of my new novel, "The Notorious Ian Grant", and I couldn’t leave out the Four Friends—characters from my earlier “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fanfics who came together with no planning on my part for a series of stories.

The Four Friends are Tara, a witch/ghost who’s a bit more alive than most people realize; Buffybot, a robot copy of Buffy Summers; Dana, a psychologically scarred Slayer from an episode of “Angel”; and Kara, an original character from my first fanfic.


Title: A Wrong Turn At Albuquerque
Author: ozma914
Summary: Ian thinks he’s still headed toward Indiana, in a misguided--figuratively and in this case literally--attempt to get back in his family's good graces. Along the way he meets a very different, mystical sort of family.

Rating: PG
Length: 2,500 words

 

 

 

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ozma914: new novel cover art by Kelly Martin (Default)
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