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The Midnight of the Century...

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There is a rare and wonderful Christmas gift on the way...

Fans of the show MILLENNIUM will recognize Lucy Butler in the picture above, the show's most iconic villain to its hero Frank Black. Every time Lucy showed up in an episode I wore a wicked smile, knowing the tale would be dark, mysterious, and horrifying. As villains go she is one of my favorite of all time, the personification of true evil, played to dark perfection by Sarah-Jane Redmond.

Recently I entered a contest to write a Christmas story featuring Lucy Butler. The winning story would be read aloud, sometime around Christmas, by Sarah-Jane Redmond herself.

I am honored to say that the results are in and as soon as it becomes available I shall post the link to a Christmas story entitled "Star of Wonder" by yours truly. This is going on my list as one of my favorite Christmases ever. 8)

Watch this space.

Until then check out the version of the song that helped inspire the story...

There's another song that always stuck in my head in connection with Lucy Butler, but I shall post that along with the story.

Best and Happy Midnight of the Century!
--James

Millennium fans, find more info, news, contests, and fellow fans at http://www.tiwwa.info/
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Happy Halloween!

A quick post tonight as I have many preparations still to make, not to mention washing up all the pumpkin blood after stuffing flaming candles in their hollowed out skulls. I have bowls of worms freezing to keep the swamp juice nice and cold for later. My windows are full of zombies as shall my television be most of the day, all leading up to the much anticipated premiere of THE WALKING DEAD.

If you're on Netflix and get the chance, I was recommended a movie by Jeff LaSala (http://www.ashlock.org/ author of THE DARKWOOD MASK) called LAKE MUNGO. It is available streaming from Netflix and is a great little film for Halloween. Dark, creepy, with a long slow build that is perfectly haunting. Here's the trailer:



I highly recommend it (and many thanks to Jeff for mentioning it!). Now, with that spooky under my belt, bring on the little beasties who we shall attempt to placate with chocolate and sugar before they crash through the door and devour us alive. I'll keep swords and axes sharp, just in case...

...and also for carving dinner.

Have a Happy Halloween, get scared and be scary!
Best,
--JPDavis
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Forgotten Realms Authors Speak: The Lost Tapes

Many moons ago, in the early days of the Forgotten Realms ongoing author interviews on the WotC Novel Group, there was once a call for monsters...new monsters, beasts no one had ever seen before, existing only in the minds of your favorite writers. Well if this weekend, this Halloween weekend, isn't the right time for a monster then I don't know what is. I had fun with this little project, first visiting one of my favorite places in D&D, then tackling the monster type that I first wrote about in the Realms.

So, without further ado, I give you the Dragon of the Far Realm...

Far Realm Dragon Page

And here's the full sketch that I did.

Far Realm Dragon

And here is the far superior drawing that my good friend Jeff Welborn put together based on the idea.

Jeff Dragon

Also, upon examining the idea further, I have to conclude that this would be a species born in the Far Realm, but that eventually escaped, maintaining the general shape of a dragon if having nothing biologically in common with other dragons. I would imagine that any creature brought into the Far Realm for breeding that did not escape would become, in time, an unrecognizable nightmare so far removed from its origins as to be an entirely different creature. In other words, being an unrecognizable nightmare, far more fun to write about in my horrific opinion.

So, enjoy! Give it stats, sic it on your favorite characters, or take the basic idea and run with it, this holiday can always use another monster. Tomorrow I'll post some more Halloween fun.

Happy Halloween to all and Season's Beatings!

--JPDavis

P.S.: For more of Jeff Welborn's awesome art, please visit: http://jeffwelborn.blogspot.com/
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Lovecrafty

“The appeal of the spectrally macabre is generally narrow because it demands from the reader a certain degree of imagination and a capacity for detachment from every-day life.”

--H.P. Lovecraft "Supernatural Horror in Literature"

Have had little to blog about recently, busy dealing with house-work, battling swarms of evil insects, digging deep into my horrific little heart to write and write and write some more. Still working on the first draft, staying ahead of schedule so far, and pouring everything into it. Most importantly, working at my own pace. I haven’t done a painting in a long time, but I can’t help writing in a style similar to how I paint. Seemingly finished details would disappear as the composition of other parts of the work started to take over, so I had to go back, illuminate or change to make things match, to keep the overall picture in balance.

I tend to do the same when writing, going back to make new details consistent with previous chapters, altering relationships when necessary, and building on the creepy every chance I get. It takes a bit longer, but it’s just how my mind works, a long, slow and evolving OCD project. 8)

Speaking of creepy, plenty of research, inspiration, and fun recently and forthcoming for we horror fans. I’m currently reading Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan’s THE FALL, the second book in their Strain Trilogy (I got an advanced copy at work). So far it is great, perfect. I know a lot of people enjoyed THE PASSAGE, but Del Toro’s trilogy has all the ‘fun’ stuff that THE PASSAGE used a hundred years to skip over. Plus the vampires are just cooler IMHO. Also looking forward to the AMC series based on the comic-book THE WALKING DEAD, debuting in October.

Until then I’m already starting my steady stream of horror movies, books, and music to carry me through to Halloween. I hope to knock out a huge chunk of writing during my favorite season and if all goes as planned I’ll start second draft edits in late winter, maybe have something ready to start shopping around near the end of spring.

Also working on some Lovecraft inspired scripts, a few short-stories, and starting a brand new D&D campaign on the 21st, w00t! Much as I loved the epic ending to our last campaign—a final battle that will live on in tales and song for as long as the Late Knights (our unofficial group name) gather—I look forward to meeting the new first level characters, the return of some old friends to the table, breaking out a new DM screen, and grinning maliciously every time I roll a nat 20, mwahaha...actually, according to my players I tend to wince before smiling, they hate that, heh.

What about the other DMs out there, have any particular ‘tell’ when you roll a twenty (or any nasty result) on a player?

As news breaks I’ll stop by and fix it (and I’ll certainly be around more for Halloween posts), until then…

…Happy Birthday H.P. Lovecraft (August 20, 1890- March 15, 1937), a little early I know, but that’s how I roll.

“Searchers after horror haunt strange, far places.”

--H.P. Lovecraft "The Picture in the House"

Best,
--James
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Perspective

It's not the first horrible thing I've read, likely will not be the last, but seeing her face on the news-stand at work all day...Just stop and take stock once in a while. Some people need...a little perspective...

Time 7/30/10
Ghost Rider

E-Books, Samples, and Iron Maiden

Okay, another long, busy, occasionally torturous month…another blog-post.

A few cool new things, first up: E-books!

There are now versions of Circle of Skulls and Restless Shore available in both kindle and e-pub formats for those e-reader things, various cell-phone devices, and the good old-fashioned computer. Restless Shore is available now and Circle of Skulls is on the way in June. Infect your electronics with a little dark fantasy. :)

For Kindle:
Circle of Skulls http://tinyurl.com/2djdrpl
Restless Shore http://tinyurl.com/2fvv7hh
For nook (e-pub)
Circle of Skulls http://tinyurl.com/2chz46t
Restless Shore http://tinyurl.com/266t87u

Or if you’re looking for an entire set of Waterdeep e-book goodness… http://tinyurl.com/2byxsht

Next up, free samples! Well, aside from the obvious free sample of Ed Greenwood’s Elminster Must Die! lying in wait at the end of Circle of Skulls, there is a sample of Circle of Skulls lying in wait on the Wizards of the Coast website. If you haven’t picked up the book yet and want to get a taste, here ya’ go: http://tinyurl.com/2akct4b

I had also planned on making a new book trailer (with real special effects this time!), but with the death of my old computer also came the loss of the Windows XP Movie Maker program I was using and though I love Windows 7, this new Movie program just doesn’t measure up, not even close. All the same, many thanks to the Powers-That-Be at WotC for the legal assistance and Nox Arcana for the permission to use their awesome music.

In response to a question on my previous post, I am not currently working on a Forgotten Realms novel, which, after the last three years, is an odd feeling since the last three books have been written right on the heels of one another. On one I was actually finishing up second draft edits as the contract for the next book was arriving in the mail, lol. Though I am completely open and totally ready for another dive into the Realms, a nice little breather this time is not unappreciated. The horror novel I’m currently writing is moving along at a steady and self-appointed speed, giving me plenty of time for consideration of each chapter before steamrolling into the next. My monsters, based on some obscure bits of Greek mythology, are constantly evolving in my imagination, so it’s good to have a loose personal deadline.

Speaking of, ‘tis quite late now and I am well into my normal writing hours. Time to fire up some music and make some more headway down a dark southern highway…



Best,
--James
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Frightmarish May

So, jumping into a story, dissecting notes, rearranging outlines, developing characters with more personal problems and quirks than a...uh...than a metaphor delivered in a deep southern accent could possibly convey (and I couldn't think of one at the moment). Delving into the horror, the batteries wanted a boost (and I wanted a vacation), so I went to the nearest source: Texas Frightmare Weekend. Much fun was had...

Day One:
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Met Elvira. Awesome. Got her autograph and took a pic with her (picture of Elvira and I on a friend's camera, coming soon). We all decided she is immortal and will never die. There was much speculation upon how she accomplished this, top theories including: bathing in the blood of virgins, eating babies, and the quickening.
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Met Christine...
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But Megan got the better picture I think.
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And Lance Henriksen, aka Frank Black from Millennium, aka My Favorite TV show ever. Autographs and pictures acquired. He said we kicked ass...that kinda' kicks ass. :)

That night we went to eat at the hotel restaurant, last minute decision. It was mostly empty, our table and one other at the interior tables. At that table sat, Lance Henriksen. Then, a couple at a time, the entire cast of CHRISTINE filed in, having their reunion dinner just a couple of tables away. Julian Sands (WARLOCK, ROSE RED, ARACHNOPHOBIA, etc.) wandered around nearby, chatting on his cell-phone. Meg Foster (THEY LIVE, BLIND FURY, etc.) skipped in singing 'Stayin' Alive' to join the CHRISTINE crew. Derek Mears (Jason Voorhees in the new FRIDAY the 13th...and the nicest giant person you could ever hope to meet) sat nearby as well. My friends and I very discreetly gawked and nodded knowingly at one another...our last minute dinner decision was an awesome idea.

The last part of Day One was the showing of a low-budget horror film...I hesitate to say the title, for I certainly expected cheesy and bad (I often thrive on such movies), but to even give this one a bad review would give it credit for deserving a review at all and place it within a category of real movies that get reviewed. I can't do it. It was, sadly, the only downside of Day One. I only mention it because of how awesome a day we had, even a movie, no, film? No. Even a series of recorded images played in sequence this bad couldn't ruin the time we had. To be honest, Day One dominated the weekend. Will definitely return next year.

In other news, Wizards of the Coast has posted a special bit of fiction related to CIRCLE OF SKULLS, an extended ending! And I warn all who may be interested to definitely read the book first, otherwise, the extended ending will make little sense and spoil many plot points. That said, here be the link to "Speak of the Devil":

http://wizards.com/dnd/article.aspx?x=dnd/4dnd/20100506

As for now, my horror batteries properly charged (not that they ever really die), writing continues as always. I'm aiming to be done by Halloween...we'll see how close I make it.

Best,
--James
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Waterdeep, City of Splendors...

…and of wizards, mysterious pasts, justice, the dead, dragons, and skulls and angels and devils and, well, you get the picture. There’s a lot, it’s a city and there’s a lot of stories. I’ve always loved Waterdeep, either as a jumping off point for a game or as a setting for a complete campaign. And much as I loved all that was familiar in the city, what I loved even more was carving out little spaces for myself, a tavern here, a secret dungeon entrance there, tracking down the dark, shadowed spots where I could open up new stories…Never did I think, nearly twenty years since I started playing D&D, that I would have a chance to make some of my little ideas a real part of Waterdeep and have them published alongside several other wonderful stories about Waterdeep.

And yet here is the book, in my house. My wife, my best friend, and my mother-in-law have already started reading it…and all of them racing toward one particular chapter that, while I’m proud to have written it, may make them …well, no spoilers here. I’ll just say the novel was masterfully edited (thanks Susan!) and uncensored. Of course, I tend to be a bit darker at times (shock).

And I’ll say also a big THANK YOU to Ed Greenwood for his awesome introduction in the book. Was quite speechless when I first read it and I still feel that just saying ‘Thanks!’ doesn’t quite cover it. I’m glad he enjoyed and I hope everyone else does too.

Circle of Skulls should be hitting shelves next week and I hope everyone gives it a shot along with all of the Waterdeep novels if they haven’t started them already. I was going to give a rundown of the entire series, but I think Mr. Greenwood has already done a good job of it in this video interview.



And for my next feat…now that I’m back on a real computer with a nice big normal keyboard (whoohoo!) I’m taking my ton of notes and tackling some real-world horror (finally!). I still hope to write more for Forgotten Realms, but during the break I gotta’ keep the story-demons in my head appeased and they are pushing to get this little tale out into the world. So, after taking in an extra dose of horror at the Texas Frightmare Weekend horror convention (again, whoohoo!), writing resumes in overdrive and the playlist has Iron Maiden’s Number of the Beast on repeat.

I’ll update soon with some horror-con pics. For now I gotta’ go pack, must look my best when I meet Elvira, mwahaha! ;)
Best,
--James
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Stuck on Survive

Been almost a month since my last post, an eventful month and not always good events. Car trouble, major computer trouble, minor sickness, household appliances refusing to obey my commands...you know, the usual junk.

I'm using my wife's laptop and her tiny keyboard full of typos. Just feel out of sorts on this thing, like I'm sleeping on a friend's couch while my house is being remodeled or something. Laptops are useful, but a full desktop is my comfort zone. So, luckily, my latest writing project is complete and in the hands of my editor and I'm taking a wee break before tackling the big project that I have planned next. Also lucky, I've felt very 'in the zone' writing-wise, I just need a full screen and a bigger keyboard to keep that going. Until then I'll stick to my favorite pens and graph paper notes to hang on to the momentum.

Also doing some new character sketches, but drawing lately has been a crap-shoot....or a box of chocolates...or something totally up to chance, or choose your favorite metaphor for an uncertain future event and run with it. I churned out one decent bit of artwork (on display sometime this month maybe? Links will be provided.) and then the talent went on vacation, it's a skill I rarely work out, maybe that explains why the writing feels more solid.

Anyway, less than a month until CIRCLE OF SKULLS hits shelves, possibly the last of the Ed Greenwood Presents Waterdeep books? At least the last one that I know of, there's certainly no end to the stories that hide in the City of Splendors, so who knows? I haven't seen copies of the book yet, but I'm watching for delivery trucks everyday, ready for that "it's real!" feeling when I get my hands on something I wrote in its final form. Also curious to check out the sample of Ed Greenwood's ELMINSTER MUST DIE! included in the book, should be good fun all around. :)

On that note, you can watch for updates on all Wizards of the Coast novels, and find some great posts by authors and editors with excellent writing and publishing advice, at the Wizards of the Coast novels book club. Found right here: http://community.wizards.com/bookclub. Every Monday the Forgotten Realms authors have fun with random questions posed by editor Susan Morris and bookclub members. And everyday there is something new, on writing, publishing, new releases, signing events, book recommendations, etc.

So, hopefully soon I'll be back in my comfort zone, sitting at the desktop, surrounded by notes and research, tearing into my next novel with a vengeance. Until then I shall squint at a smaller screen and a tiny keyboard while my wife taps her foot impatiently nearby until I'm done. Nah, just kidding, she's a nice lady...all her impatient foot tapping goes on in her mind...but I can see it in her eyes...

Until then, keep an eye out for this in a few weeks...

Circle of Skulls

...and sometime in between I'll show up to provide some artwork and book teasers, we shall see. ;)

Best,
--James