Room 3 is the eBook of the Day on Kindle Nation Daily

Pretty cool, go check it out! http://kindlenationdaily.com/2013/07/some-puzzles-have-no-solutions-jonathan-d-allens-well-crafted-horror-room-3-five-straight-rave-reviews-2-99-on-kindle/

It’s Been a Long Time…New Cover, Winners, and Other Matters

Welcome back, folks. Apologies once again for the delay in posting, but real life has been pulling me away not only from the blog but writing in general. Never fear, though, City of the Dead is practically writing itself (already it’s at 10,000 words and I can see the clear path from Point A to Point Z) and Pathways is entering the editing phase just as soon as I can shake the funk of just finishing a project. That’s an odd thing when you’re a writer, you often just want to get away from a project for awhile – let the subconscious kind of work on the next steps, you know?

So yeah, as I said, in the meantime City of the Dead (book 3 of the series) is roaring along. Things end at a very interesting place in Pathways, and the beginning of City is turning out to be an intriguing, dreamlike experience. Even knowing exactly where everything fits and how it plays out, I’m still fascinated with pushing it forward, which makes Pathways feel a little dull at the moment. That’s the natural course of things for me, anyway. Doesn’t make Pathways inferior or fated to be inferior. It just means that I need time. Besides, I like the idea of having book 3 very close to ready when book 2 launches. This may mean that I leave some space between Room 3 and the Pathways release, but in the end I believe it will be worth it. Honest!

I also have some exciting news to share with you: we have a winner! Well, several of them, actually. The last few weeks have been the tour for Room 3, courtesy of Dark World Book Tours, and we’ve had quite a response.  Lots of entries, but only a handful of winners. I won’t name all the winners here out of respect to their privacy, but congrats to all of you folks. Expect your prizes very soon!

One more bit of news before I check out to work on other things: the covers are coming.

Oh yes, they are coming.

For those eagle-eyed folks who know me on Facebook, they may have seen the latest (and, truly, final) cover of Corridors of the Dead cross in a special sneak peek. Here it is for all you regular readers!

corridors_cover_1800x2700Pretty slick, huh? There’s a coded symbolism at work on this cover, one of a woman who resists the entreaties to turn herself into a weapon and finds herself in the midst of a crumbling world. And here’s the thing: the reason that I’m fairly confident this will be the last cover is that we’re working on the remaining covers in the series and they all align with the themes on this cover. So yes, a City of the Dead cover exists, and Pathways is coming along. Expect a reveal tour sometime in August as things begin to ramp up for Pathways.

In the meantime, thanks for all the support. Hope I can communicate more with folks as things go forward. Just hope for a quieter Summer than the one I’ve had so far.

 

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My Next Novel? Yeah, That’s Finished.

Had a long weekend out of town so this is my first chance to share with you, the reader, but Thursday evening I nailed down the first draft of the second book in the Among the Dead series, Pathways of the Dead. Even now I can scarcely believe that it’s happened; I began what would become known as Pathways last summer and pushed through it even during the Room 3 publication process. I had anticipated the finished first draft in March or April. May is acceptable enough, but it had begun to feel like it just wasn’t going to happen.

Of course, this is far from the finish line. The book is still working its way through the various layers of critiques and editors (TWO editors on this one in addition to the critique group and beta readers). The next stage of the voyage begins on the 24th, when I send a first draft that’s been altered with critique comments to my content editor. She’ll sanity-check the thing and make sure that I haven’t somehow put a character’s pants on his head, that sort of thing. Common errors. From there I incorporate her changes and get it out to my lovely, dedicated beta readers. All of this goes on while the critique group continues to read through the evolving drafts until they reach the end. Once ALL of that’s done, it goes to my final editor for final say.

This is a change. While the editing process on the last two books have not been solely on my shoulders, there have been phases that were nothing but my own changes. If all goes well, this book will see nothing like that. I’ll make my own changes in tandem with suggestions from other authors, readers, and editors, making for a far more polished reading experience.

In the meantime, you can expect to see a new cover for Corridors to accompany a revised edition (no major cheats, just some cleaning-up of the text) that feeds right into Pathways. Pathways cover reveal will be done about a month prior to release, so watch this space for more information.

In the meantime, a quick FAQ for folks who read the first book. This will evolve over time and sit on the Among the Dead page.

1. What is this Pathways nonsense? I thought the sequel was called City of the Dead. I wanted that to be so, but the version of City that I had crafted would have been north of 200K+ words. A thematic split also became apparent during the drafting process, and so it only felt natural to split the two books. City of the Dead is still coming, it’s just book 3.

2. What do you mean by a thematic split? Among the Dead is a series that incorporates elements of many different genres. Book 1, Corridors of the Dead, was an urban fantasy-cum-coming-of-age tale. Pathways is more of an action film with some mystery elements. Book 3, City of the Dead, is a cross between a fantasy and a mystery with some elements of a metaphysical journey. Book 4, Portal of the Dead, is a fantasy thriller. Now imagine trying to maintain some thematic consistency between an action film and a slower mystery novel and you see why City had to be split.

3. Is it still a trilogy? No. Among the Dead is now four books.

4. Are you going to be one of those authors who just keeps going and going with the series? Given the ultimate ending of this series, it would be pretty difficult to keep going. I do have a few ideas for prequels under my vest, but those would be far, far off and only for a good reason. I do think that some of the characters introduced over the course of the series would constitute that good reason, such as Omarosa and Anushka.

5. Omarosa? Isn’t she that woman from the Apprentice? The name Omarosa is actually Babylonian; it referred to a mistress of the universe, probably meaning “the sea.” The name is highly appropriate for the character devoid of any popular connections. Besides, I like the name. We’re taking it back.

6. Who are some of the new characters? Well, you know about Omarosa. I don’t want to give too much away, but you’ll meet the creator of the robot, Jazshael, from Corridors of the Dead (and oh boy will you meet him). He’s a very interesting, complex character who will pop up again and again through the rest of the series. The original founder of the Acolytes, Alma, will appear. Two characters from Room 3 make appearances as well – see if you can spot them. Both have prominent roles, though one is a younger version of himself.

7. How many characters die this time? Will your blood lust ever be satisfied? ALL OF THE CHARACTERS. ALL OF THEM. AND NEVER.

8. Where does Room 3 fit into all of this? Room 3 is a side-story to the series. You wouldn’t need to read it to understand what happens in Among the Dead, but some of the issues that pop up make a whole lot more sense when you understand just what the Watchers were up to in London in the late aughts. In time, I’ll fill in the gaps for folks who might have missed these connections.

9. Are you going to write about magick and fantasy all your life? No, sheesh, MOM. I actually have three literary books in the pipeline and am toying with the idea of using the whole Labor Day Rush method to write one of them. Crazy? Oh, probably, but it’s the best way I can think of to give myself the breathing room necessary to get one of those books out.

10. Okay, I’m interested. When can I buy it? Patience. Good work takes time…I’ll let you know as soon as I can.

Bottom line? STAY TUNED….

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The Room 3 Tour Continues -and- Some Quick Thoughts

Welcome back folks. Today the Room 3 tour is still ongoing, this time stopping over at Vaempires for a quick post about the real-world locations in Room 3. You can check it out at http://www.vaempires.com/the-room-3-tour-a-guest-post-by-jonathan-d-allen. We’re also giving away a ton of exciting prizes and today I can finally offer you the opportunity to join in the giveaway via Shaggin the Muse. This is our Rafflecopter, and please, feel free to do any or none of these. I’m itching to give these books away, and would love to send them your way!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s exciting to see the book finally beginning to take off after the show last Saturday, an appearance on BookGorilla, and now this. More is in the works, however; in June I’m going to take Room 3 KDP Select exclusive for at least the next three months, which will accompany an appearance as the Kindle Nation Daily eBook of the day in July (tentatively July 11th, more news on that in the near future).

Now as for more mundane news – the nuts-and-bolts of writing. Things have been a little slow with my vacation, but they’re picking up. Pathways of the Dead currently sits at 96K words and I’m anticipating it to finish somewhere between 105 and 110. It’s funny, the process this time has been a tad more difficult than Room 3, but the lessons that I learned in writing Room 3 have kept me on a way more even keel.

I also have two other novels in the hopper in addition to the Among the Dead series and Mirror Untrue. One is about a painting that turns out to be a prophecy of murder (trust me though, this one isn’t supernatural, more of a thriller) and the other is about a woman who begins to see her insular community in a very different fashion following a traumatic event. The former came from a dream. The latter came from reading the Facebook of an old high school acquaintance and realizing what incredibly different worlds we occupy and wondering what might happen when those worlds collide. Both already have titles and it’s just a matter of when, not if, I will write them. All in due time.

Oh, and hopefully the cover reveal for Pathways will be later this Summer. I’m working with a new, very talented cover artist who is revisiting the original visions for the Corridors cover now and has a great idea for the Pathways cover. Again, all in due time…

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Room 3 Tour Starts Today With the Avid Reader -and- Pathways of the Dead

Hey all, still on something of a self-imposed sabbatical to finish what had once been called City of the Dead…okay, well, sort of.

Let’s start with the tour information. First of all, there’s a giveaway! I’m working on getting the Rafflecopter code for it – you can check in here tomorrow for that – but for today you can hit up the current stop at The Avid Reader. That post features an excerpt and an interview with yours truly. I felt like this was a pretty good interview and worth checking out. Here’s a quick sample:

The Avid Reader: If you could travel back in time here on earth to any place or time. Where would you go and why?

Jonathan D Allen: Assuming that I could come back, I would love to see what came before the Sumerian and Babylonian cultures. I’ve always felt that the evolution of civilization felt incomplete, as if something were missing in the transition from tribes to cities. A lot of my work is about speculating on that connection, and I’d like to see just how off-base I might be.

I’ll be updating every day this week with every stop of the tour, and the tour runs for quite some time, so don’t panic if you can’t get in on the Rafflecopter right now.

In other news, Pathways of the Dead is now very close to the finish line, on the first draft at least. I thought I’d have it done by now but something popped up and it’s looking more like next week. With what remains of the book – finishing critique group, beta readers, editors, and loads of my own changes in between – I think we’re looking at early October. We’ll see, though. I’m definitely ready to get back into the blog swing of things, though. See you again soon.

 

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The Tree in the Crop Circle

Morning, readers. First, an explanation. During the creation of every novel, I reach a point where I have to bear down and focus on that novel, saving my writing time and energies that are typically used on other items, such as regular blog posts. It seems that City of the Dead is reaching that tipping point.

So, good news and bad news. Good news is that the book is deep in serious development. Bad news is that posts will be limited to one or, at most, two at a week. This is why you haven’t seen many Friday posts lately and why I’ve been scarce on Twitter.

In that spirit, I’m going to run a series of Room 3 samples over the next month. In the following scene, the reader learns just what is entailed in “going to Room 3” when we see the protagonist, Kelli, doped up. Hope you enjoy.

=====

“Come on. Haven’t I been through enough?”

Barren paused, syringe held mid-air. “I’m sorry, but we have to do this. You’ll understand one day.”

He was right about that. One day I would understand. Wouldn’t like it, but I would understand. I didn’t know what to say, though. How do you argue with someone who believes that torture is doing the right thing?

Answer: you don’t.

He shook his head and moved the syringe toward my arm. “Now just a pinch.”

Pinch, my ass. It felt like the world’s biggest wasp had stung my arm. He pressed the plunger, injecting the full dose into me. I tasted something metallic and instantly became more aware of the air rushing into my ears.

I summed it up the best I could: “Whoa.”

He patted my shoulder. “That’s good. Just relax.” His voice echoed.

“Don’t have a choice…” I said. I couldn’t manage much more.

The next moment, the colors in the ball of light over my head kaleidoscoped, twirling into a brilliant mass that hung in mid-air. It expanded and the walls of the room melted away. Soon the chair went with it, taking its bonds, too. I stepped off of it before it vanished altogether, rubbing my wrists.

I gazed around me, getting my bearings, though I pretty much knew what I would see. As always, I stood in a giant crop circle in the center of the world’s largest field of corn, the sun beating down on me. I turned to look at the chair, but it had melted into the ground.

Something rustled in the corn. I whirled, but I knew who it would be before she even appeared. She always found me. “Mimi?”

A little girl appeared from between the rows, pushing the bottoms of the stalks apart. She had blue eyes, dark brown hair, and a smile that could just melt your heart – the kind of smile that never, ever survives into adulthood.

She cocked her head. “How’d you know my name?”

She always asked me that.

“We’ve met, but I’ve told you that before, too.”

She put her hands on her little hips. “How come I don’t remember you?”

“I think it’s this place. It always makes you forget.”

“I don’t like that.”

I looked around. “I don’t like it much, either. But don’t worry about it. I’m here.”

Wheels turned in her head. “But why are you here?”

No clue how to answer that one. “You’re looking for something, right?”

She nodded.

I leaned down, putting my hands on my knees. “What are you looking for, sweetheart?” I already knew the answer, but this had gone down a certain path forever, and the show had to go on.

She rubbed her eyes. “Cici’s gone. I can’t find her.”

Cici. The girl forever searched for Cici. I had no idea if she even existed. “Now where did you last see your sister?” I said.

Her eyes widened, like I’d shown her the secret of the universe. “We did meet, didn’t we, that’s how you know about Cici?”

I nodded. “Where did you see her last?” Knew the answer to this one, too.

She pointed over my shoulder. “There.”

I knew what I’d see when I turned. I’d seen it so many times that I’d even started to see it in my dreams. It didn’t matter, though. Every single time I turned to gaze on it, it knocked me on my proverbial butt: an enormous, gnarled tree, soaring up into the sky. This wasn’t just any tree, though. Somebody had carved a wooden organ out of the trunk, with two levels of wooden keys and wooden pipes rising out of the higher reaches.

The largest keyhole you’ve ever seen had been connected to that organ, its details carved right into the trunk, between the keys and the pipes.

“She’s locked in there, isn’t she?” I’d lived this nightmare so many times I had lost count, but this little detail got my heart pounding each time. To be locked away in solid oak, unable to escape –

“How do we get her out?” Mimi said.

That question. Always that question.

“I think we have to play the right notes to open the lock and get her out,” I said, but I couldn’t be certain.

Mimi’s brow furrowed. “Do you know what to play?”

I sighed. “No. But I can try.” Endless tries and just as many sleepless nights, and I hadn’t come any closer to figuring out the song than the first night that they put me under.

“Oh, please, you have to. She can’t live for long in the tree.”

“I know.”

I strode to the tree and stood before it, holding my hands over the wooden keys. I’d only ever seen organs in magazines before I started having this vision, and while you might think that it’s similar to playing a keyboard or piano, there are some key differences that had been throwing me off from the very beginning, and I couldn’t afford a single mistake.

I swallowed hard, stared at the carved wooden keys for a moment, and then glanced at Mimi.

She gave me a lopsided smile and a tentative thumbs-up.

Ringing endorsement.

I leaned over the keys. Did I feel ready to go?

Not at all, but might as well get this over with.

I played the portion of the first verse that I had worked out. The notes sounded clear as always, if a little bass-heavy. My stomach tensed as I played, approaching that dreaded unknown section.

My fingers froze when I reached the end of that first verse. I knew that if I could just get the first few notes of that next section started, the rest would flow from me. The damned thing had gotten backed up in my soul – could that be a bridge, a chorus, or something else entirely? There should be lyrics, too, but they refused to come to mind.

“A Minor?” I murmured, and hit the key.

Mimi groaned behind me. “Oh no, missy, oh no.”

I turned to look at her. “What?”

She didn’t need to answer; the answer came from overhead. It came as a great whoosh from the leaves caught fire, spreading into a curtain of red and orange that filled the sky above me. I screamed and fell backwards, but in those few seconds the intense heat had already baked most of my skin. My nerve endings blazed – I couldn’t imagine such pain, it had never been so bad, not ever. I could feel my eyelids melting down over my eyes, darkening my view of my arms and the nightmare unfolding on my flesh.

I screamed and screamed as the world went dark. My world became nothing but pure, unending pain.

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So That Actually Happened…

I’d say good Monday morning, but is there really such a thing? I suppose if one won the lottery on a Sunday night, or maybe if, say, their football team won the Super Bowl last night (so close, but the Ravens are decidedly not the Redskins and never will be), then they might be inclined to call it a good Monday morning, but in general…

Where was I? Oh, yes. Something actually happened this weekend. Well, several somethings, really, but the most important had nothing to do with rediscovering my love for tea or picking up a few interesting items at thrift stores.

You see, and I think I’ve mentioned this before, I gave my first public reading on Saturday morning.

And I loved it.

Back things up just a little bit; I joined the Montgomery Writers Association back in September and have been attending meetings on-and-off ever since. I’ve participated in those events to which I was privy, such as the festival of lights sale in December, and have tried to make myself an active member of the community. I saw lots of folks giving readings of their own work and didn’t know exactly how the process worked – did the organizers hand pick people, or what?

Eventually I just decided to do the thing that has opened so many doors to this point: I simply asked, and learned that they accepted volunteers. Hey, I could use the experience and I enjoy public speaking (I’m a sicko, sue me), so why not? I offered my services and they accepted, tentatively slating me for April, something that I discussed not too long ago on this very site.

Well, a few weeks ago some lack of volunteers led to some schedule shuffling and, long story short, the chapter organizers asked me to speak in February rather than April. It would mean something of a mental shift, but it’s very rare for me to turn down such an opportunity, especially if it’s asked of me by another, so I grabbed hold of it and decided I wouldn’t let go.

Practice, practice, practice, and I was ready for Saturday. Flash forward to then.

A good friend of mine, Cathy Wiley, was the “official” speaker, and she got something like an hour to speak on how she had sold 35,000 books. I hadn’t counted on actually being part of her presentation (she flashed Room 3 up as an example of a good cover), but I joined in and helped her explain some of the scarier aspects of online marketing to the group. She gave an engaging presentation and I think we worked well as a team together. It may be a presentation that we give together in the future, hard to say for certain, but I think it could work.

We took a break, and I got myself set up and geared up to read. I mixed, I mingled, and whatnot. Got to talk to some interesting folks and hear some interesting ideas for stories. I’m going to keep my eye out for a few of them – I think they have great potential.

After the break I received a great introduction from the Chapter President, Alix Moore, and dove right in.

I read, of course, from Room 3, and presented the first scene where we see the effects of Room 3 and the hallucinogenic drugs. My nerves were on edge as I began, and my practiced presentation of the characters’ voices became a bit inconsistent, so I adjusted some of the attribution on the fly. By the time I hit the halfway point, however, things started to pick up, and I could tell that I had gotten the group’s attention.  I find that confidence builds on confidence, so the longer I went without a major flub, the better I felt, and so the better the reading became. By the end I had built up a pretty good head of steam and felt ready to read as long as I possibly could.

Of course, in the end, I had to stop, as another writer, Thomas Foote, followed me. I felt good, though. The whole thing felt right, in a way that other public speaking hasn’t so far. I suspect it has to do with reading my own fiction and working on the fly rather than sticking to a script. Not sure, but it felt a lot better to stick in the moment rather than worrying about missing some planned beat here or there. That’s where you get the real give-and-take with your audience, in the unplanned.

Afterwards, I sold a copy or two, handed out some more, and really got to talk about my book with a few people. To me, that was worth whatever money I might have otherwise made. I’m not going to lie and say I wouldn’t like to get paid for my efforts, but right now this is truly a labor of love, and I will take any opportunity that I can get to share this work, even for free. Provided, of course, that I’m not being exploited. So far, so good.

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Finding an Audience

Happy Monday, readers. Hope you had a great weekend. We’re just starting to come out of a deep freeze here in the DC area; the roads are incredibly icy this morning, something of a last hurrah for winter before Spring pays us a temporary visit. It’s been a weird winter, with highs in the 60s one week and highs in the 20s the next and then right back up. My allergies have been in an uproar thanks to it, but what are you going to do?

I’m focused on these shifting phases because my own life is entering a new phase in the next three weeks. On Saturday, February 2nd, I’ll be giving a ten-minute reading of Room 3 for the Maryland Writers Association, Montgomery County, the first time that I’ve given a public reading of my work. I’m glad that it’s a relatively short reading, as I can ease into longer readings and QA sessions. Two weeks after, I’ll be appearing at FarPoint Convention in Timonium, Maryland. I’ll be selling Room 3, Corridors of the Dead, and the Station, but I’ll also be participating in a greet and sign on the night of the 15th, giving me the opportunity to meet some of the other authors at the show. You can check the schedule tab at the top of the page for more information.

For some writers I’m sure that this is old hat, but for me it represents a new commitment to my career and to bettering myself, all in one. Not too many years ago the very idea of speaking in front of groups about my writing – while a vague goal – seemed far too intimidating to even consider. Life had beaten me down, and surely I didn’t have much to say that would be of any interest to a potential reader. Why bother?

Well, because I do have things to say. They’re somewhat complicated things to say, perhaps a little too full of nuance for my own good, but they are things that I need to say. Look, I know that my work is not for everyone; I wish that it were, just as I wish that I could find happiness in writing more financially viable/marketable stuff. I just can’t. I envy writers whose true passion lies in mystery stories or romance stories. I don’t think any of us are better than the other, just different, and some genres are more accessible than others. That’s just the Way It Is, and I’m not going to let some dreams of acceptance sidetrack what I’m trying to do here artistically.

So I keep on saying what I have to say. It’s your call to determine whether those things are worth reading. A lot of folks seem to have decided that they are not worth reading, but then I also don’t think I’ve found my audience just yet. Some days I’m quite tempted to  throw up my hands, to say that either you folks aren’t out there, or that I’m deluding myself in believing that my writing is worthwhile, but I know that’s the easy path to truly having nothing worth saying. You only truly fail when you give up, and I’m not there yet.

Thus, these appearances, in the hopes that I can connect with you folks who might find value in my works. I have faith that sooner or later we will connect, but for now I have to throw my work out to the universe and cross my fingers. Maybe we’ll see each other soon.

Room 3 Web Tour!

Hello again, readers…still here, still not feeling GREAT, but I’m pushing forward anyway. I have a few theories about what’s going on with me physically, but have to wait for the doctors to figure it out. In the meantime…

It’s time for Room 3’s web tour! And so far the book is getting great reviews. My personal favorite is from Lizzy’s Dark Fiction (and there’s a site I need to follow – so much of what she reviews speaks to me): “When the ending finally came, I was shocked.  Totally did not expect that ending, but looking back it explained everything.  Every doubt I ever had in the sincerity and plausibility of the story explained within a single scene.  You won’t guess the ending, but if you read this book, you’ll be happy you stuck through it the entire way.”

Now THAT is a review! Very pleased. Go on over there and check it out, and in the process, you can sign up for the giveaway. I’m giving away a $20 Amazon gift card and a $10 Amazon gift card – I imagine you could think of a few ways to spend that this time of year.

I have so many things to share with you. It’s really frustrating that I can’t concentrate enough to give it to you guys. Look for a flood of content once I feel better – including the next part of Open Slay.

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Room 3 Launch Winners, Holiday Crush, and Planning a Tour. Whew!

Evening, readers. First of all, congrats to Cinta García de la Rosa for winning the $25 Amazon gift card in the Room 3 launch. If you missed this one, don’t worry – we’ll have a tour in early December for the rest of you folks. I’ll talk about that one shortly.

In the meantime, of course it’s a holiday week, and I’ve decided to take this week off from my day job. We’re heading out of town on Thursday to visit my parents and spend time with friends, so I don’t know how much I’ll be updating the site. Hopefully “enough” will do the trick? I don’t know. I’m focusing especially hard on City of the Dead right now, in hopes that I can get the first draft of that completed before the end of the year. Can it be done? I don’t know. I’m about halfway through, but it’s flowing out in a fairly steady stream, and it seems pretty good so far.

Fans of the series (all five of you) should enjoy it, based on how things stand now, and it’s far from having the early problems that I experienced with Room 3. The new characters are a lot of fun, and I’m enjoying spending some time with them. I’ll talk about them sometime in the future, but for now…a slight teaser: I think that the cover weapon (as it was a pistol for Corridors of the Dead and a sword for The Station) will be a scythe. Consider what that one might mean. Continue reading