Sunday 30 March 2014

Authorpalooza at Dog-Eared Pages

Today, I hit a new milestone for Apocalypse Later: I participated in my first author signing event, Authorpalooza at Dog-Eared Pages in Phoenix. I sold as many books as you can count on neither hand, but I had a blast anyway, catching up with wonderful authors I already knew and discovering wonderful authors I didn't, learning all the way. Here's where it begins and I can build from here.

Dog-Eared Pages is a real discovery of a used bookstore nestled away in a strip mall in northeast Phoenix. The address is 16428 N 32nd St, Phoenix, AZ 85032. To make it even more awesome than any used bookstore is to begin with, it's run by an author, Anna Questerly, whose historical trilogy for young adults, The Minstrel's Tale, I bought a few years ago and thoroughly enjoyed.

I found myself sat indoors out of the Arizona sun on what became known as the 'accent table', given that it housed one strange Englishman in a kilt and one lovely French lady, Vijaya Schartz, who writes novels that refuse to be categorised.

I loved how she described her sales pitch: her main series is 'science fiction with sex' to potential male buyers, but 'romance with science fiction' to the female equivalent. Really, she writes science fiction and romance all in the same book, unless she's writing historical, romance and fantasy, all in the same book. Why be pigeonholed?

The same could be said for Vijaya herself. Beyond writing over twenty novels, she acted on stage and television, sang in cabaret and exhibited paintings. She earned a place on the French national gymnastics team, obtained a black belt in Aikido in Hawaii and studied yoga in an ashram in India. In her spare time she has hosted a radio show and run most of the local author organisations. She certainly keeps herself busy.

While her covers range from hard science fiction to traditional romance, it's her Chronicles of Kassouk series, beginning with White Tiger, that stand out the most, with their elegant font and their striking images of the eyes of big cats. It's always these that people hone in on first.

I didn't check, but Vijaya may have written the oldest book being signed, as the earliest of her many novels dates back to around the year 2000. The author I've seen around the longest, though, is Kris Tualla, who we first bumped into at the Glendale Chocolate Affaire, a great place to meet local mystery and romance authors.

She writes several series of historical romance and suspense and is doing her best to put her setting on the romantic map. 'Norway is the new Scotland' she proclaims, having written a whole slew of novels about the Hansens, set as far apart as the 14th and 19th centuries. She's currently filling in the gaps in between.

Her newest books are A Discreet Gentleman of Mystery, the fifth in her Discreet Gentleman series, and the novella In the Norseman's House.
Emmy-nominated journalist turned contemporary romance author Morgan Kearns is a regular at local book events too. Her website suggests that she's approached 'random young hotties' to ask them to pose for her book covers, but I didn't get a second glance today. I'm only three words short of joining that company!

As the baseball jersey she wore today highlights, many of her romances tie to sports, which her Deadlines & Diamonds series suggests is apparently a popular combination. I'm not big on those wacky American sports, though, so I'm more likely to pick up her vampire playboy series, The Gossip of Mysterious Lane.

Sharing Morgan's table was a bubbly lady going by two names.

Under her real name of Sharon Arthur Moore, the one she taught under for 39 years, she writes historical fiction, women's fiction and culinary mysteries, a delightful genre if ever I've encountered one. I adore the title Mission Impastable, the opener for her Dinner is Served mystery series. It's followed up by Prime Rib and Punishment.

She uses the exotic pseudonym Angelica French for her steamier erotic romance novels, like Streetwalker and Sex for Sale, which feature Carrie, a prostitute who hates sex, and Harlan, who runs a bordello.

Another author I've seen before is Ethan Russell Erway, who I found at Phoenix Comicon last year, drawn in by the excellent covers of his two adventure novels for children. They centre around the character Michael Belmont, who I've heard described as 'Indiana Jones meets Harry Potter'.

He also writes science fiction, with his Bleeding Star Chronicles currently in its fifth volume, all of which are collected together in an anthology. I hope his steampunk series, beginning with the novella, Blowing Off Steam, makes it into print sometime soon, but we may need to wait for the whole series to complete first.

V S Nelson was a new name to me today, but she's been keeping busy turning out epic fantasies the size of doorstops. They're easily recognisable as the purple books, which works well, and they mix up genres in a similar way to Vijaya Schartz.

The Sekhmet's Guardians series are paranormal, romance, adventure, historical, you name it. Just don't blink or there will be another doorstop ready to go.

Braving the Arizona sun with a charming accent was Camelia Miron Skiba, who apparently writes multicultural romance. I never knew how many subgenres there were.

Her Dacian Legends series have covers that leap out, all black and white with a single other colour sneaking in to catch us unawares. Hidden Heart looks rather enticing too.

I was on something of a budget today, but I couldn't resist picking up a book from Fran Orenstein, a lady who may just write in a different genre for each day of the week, or at least for a differently aged audience.

Her titles are well picked ones that leap out: Death in D Minor, The Mystery of the Green Goblin or The Spice Trader's Daughter. Best of all may just be Fat Girls from Outer Space, which isn't what you think; it's a contemporary novel for tweens.

It was The Book of Mysteries that I snapped up, a collection of three fantasy adventure novels for young adults (The Wizard's Revenge, The Gargoyles of Gothica and The Centaurs of Spyr), because anything that revolves around a disappearing bookshop run by a magician has to be in one of my signed bookcases. The fact that the cover looks rather like a cyclops grichle was just icing on the cake.

Fran was nestled inside Dog-Eared Pages, just on the other side of the Bargain Books area, with a couple of other authors.

Science fiction author Alan Black's mother explained in one anecdote why Amazon reviews are so important. I've been told before that if a book reaches the 50 review mark, which is much harder to do than it sounds like it should be, Amazon will promote that book. When Metal Boxes reached that target, Black became the Amazon Author of the Week, and promptly sold 4,200 books during that period. That's like Easter, Christmas and Wookiee Life Day all at once.

Black's science fiction novels sound like throwbacks to the great stories I grew up reading, courtesy of my mother's home library. They're described as 'young adult science fiction military action adventure', but to me they sound like Heinlein's juveniles, which I recently re-read in entirety. Chewing Rocks is his other sci-fi yarn, but he also writes general fiction (the Ozark Mountain series, with Bernice Knight) and comedy (Chasing Harpo, about an orangutan on the lam).

Last, but certainly not least, was Kiki Swanson (who is not to be conflated with KiKi Swinson, who Google seems to want me to look at it instead).

Swanson is a former Presbyterian church leader who writes fictionalised versions of real historical stories. If I didn't have to get back to my own table to try to sell my own books, I could happily have talked to Kiki for the rest of the day.

Perhaps her books, like My Will Be Done and Yes, I Can!, could be best described as stories, as they sound like wells in which to dive and experience, the most enlightening of books to read.

And that wraps up Authorpalooza, except for that strange Englishman, the only author attempting to sell non-fiction today and clearly not finding the right audience. Just to make this post complete, I should mention my two books about film. The covers are at the top of the page.

Huh? An A-Z of Why Classic American Bad Movies Were Made looks at 26 different reasons why people thought it might be a bright idea to make movies and explains through 26 different movies why they weren't quite so bright after all.

Velvet Glove Cast in Iron: The Films of Tura Satana runs through every feature film and every episode of a TV show credited at IMDb that Tura Satana, the star of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! appeared in.

Many thanks to my better half, Dee Astell of Countess Chaos Creations, who took all the photos.

I've linked to each of the author's pages above, but here's a list for easy reference with fresh links.

Dog-Eared Pages:
Countess Chaos Creations:

Alan Black:
Ethan Russell Elway:
Angelica French:
Morgan Kearns:
Sharon Arthur Moore:
V S Nelson:
Fran Orenstein:
Anna Questerly:
Vijaya Schartz:
Camilia Miron Skiba:
Kiki Swanson:
Kris Tualla:


Anonymous said...

I had really wanted to attend this event, and though Melissa and I ended up instead at the Tempe Art Festival, and later saw GRAVITY, I could at least vicariously enjoy the author's signing through your blog about these wonderful experiences you had. I hope to be there the next time you have an event at Dog-Eared Pages.


River Glynn said...

What a great post, Hal! I really appreciate your gathering together the threads of Authorpalooza! Thanks so much, and it was a delight to meet you!

Vijaya Schartz said...

Wonderful post, Hal. Thanks for the pictures and the covers. Nice blog. I'll mark it for further reference. Have a great day.

Anna Questerly said...

Thanks, Hal! You and your lovely wife will ALWAYS be welcome to sign at Dog-Eared Pages. We loved having you here yesterday; as always you bring fun and excitement wherever you go! Thanks again for the fantastic write up about our store and all of our fabulous authors!

Camelia Miron Skiba said...

What a great post, Hal! You really summed nicely a wonderful event. Next time we should definitely sit closer so we throw people off with our accents ;)