Recovering from the Silicon Valley Comic Con


Wow. I’ve never worked a 3-day stint in a dealers room before and I’d never been to a comic con, so last weekend was a real education.


Marian & Indy

To start with, the cosplay was a whole lot more fun than I anticipated.  In addition to being a big Star Wars geek, I love My Hero Academia and any sort of clever mashup, so the Jedi Belle and Samurai Vader, as well as the Jack & Sally/Danny & Sandy couple were a blast. Watching for the next costume to come along made the time pass.

Mostly we sold copies of Tales for the Camp Fire because my tablemates were amazing at handing out copies of the new bookmark to anyone who would take them. I am such an introvert that I had a hard time flinging myself across the table at strangers, but I did manage to step up from time to time and timidly ask if I could give people a bookmark.

T4tcf new bookmark

Isn’t that beautiful? EM Markoff killed the design.

To be honest, I am shy enough that if people at another dealer’s table try to talk to me when I’m shopping, I avoid them. I just want to look in peace, then chat if I find something I’m curious about. Despite my hesitance to engage, I did notice that people passing our table didn’t see the Camp Fire book among the others on our rack.  Once we’d captured their attention with a bookmark, a surprising number plunked down their cash for a copy.

So I’m working on my selling persona.  It was hard just to say hi and make eye contact with everyone who walked by the table, but I am very proud of that book, which made it easy to sell if people were tempted.

IMG_1557My tablemates suggested we put together a 3-book sampler of each of our novels, both in paperback and on a super cute kitty thumb drive.  We sold a number of those, too.  It’s interesting that people were more likely to take a risk on a bundle of books rather than buy them individually. The bundles were totally worth doing.

I wasn’t going to take 199 Cemeteries to See Before You Die to a comic con, figuring that it wouldn’t be the right audience for them, but I sold out all I brought — and could’ve sold a couple more.  Those books are really heavy to carry around, though.  I think the lesson is that there are some people who love cemeteries everywhere I go.

I was surprised the Haunted Mansion Project books I brought didn’t sell better, but I think I should have had an “out-of-print” sticker on them. I thought, since some of the guests have a ghost hunter show, I would’ve caught more people interested in ghost stories.  The next show, in October, might be a better place for them.

IMG_1561.jpgOne of the best experiments of the weekend was talking to people about my novels.  I tried different ways of talking to people about The Dangerous Type: it was inspired by the darker elements of Star Wars. It has a badass heroine. It focuses on a bisexual poly relationship. Humans are a minority in the galaxy.  Different elements caught different people’s attention.

I think our table looked kind of busy to catch people’s eyes, so I would reorganize it next time. I would limit myself to the four books that fit on the rack and not worry about the chapbooks.  The giveaway magnets that were so popular at the Bay Area Book Festival didn’t really interest people this time, so I wouldn’t bring them again.  They are really heavy for me to carry, anyway.

The mailing list signup sheet was totally worth doing, though. I’m so glad I brought that along.

I think I’d like to make more professional price stickers than my scribbled washi tape prices. I coveted LS’s nice-looking “display copy” stickers, so I’m going to make those, too.  And someone brought a bookmark to our table that had a blank space for their booth number on the bottom of it. That seems like a great idea, too.  I handed out postcards to people who seemed interested in my books but not ready to commit — and several of them came back to the table later to buy after they’d toured the whole room — but I felt like I was relying on their memories to find me again.  I could’ve made it easier for them.

I might try to sell some of my photos next time, since we had the upright space for them. And I might want to throw a cloth over the back stock, to simplify how the table looked.

All in all, though, I am really pleased with how the weekend went.  Staying over in San Jose, even though the room was expensive, was the right choice, rather than trying to drive the hour back and forth.  I wish I’d sold more books, but considering that I had no idea what I was doing, I sold enough to have made the experiment worthwhile.

At the moment, I’m not committed to many more book-selling events in the foreseeable future, beyond Sinister Creature Con in October and the Bay Area Book Festival next year.  It was great to hang out with EM Markoff and LS Johnson for a weekend, though. I hope they’ll let me share their table again someday.


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5 Questions for E.J. Stevens

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 8.24.19 PMI “met” E.J. Stevens through the Occult Detective Quarterly Facebook page when she was looking for reviews of her audiobook for Frostbite: An Ivy Granger Psychic Detective Prequel Story.

E.J. Stevens is the award-winning author of the Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective urban fantasy series, the Spirit Guide young adult paranormal mystery series, the Hunters’ Guild urban fantasy series, and the Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian horror series. She is known for filling pages with quirky characters, magnificent monsters, and kick-butt heroines. Her novels are available worldwide in multiple languages.

Her newest book is Craven Street (Whitechapel Paranormal Society #0.5):

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 8.23.27 PMIn this spellbinding novella, E.J. Stevens weaves a tale of murder, necromancy, and demonic possession that brings together characters from her Whitechapel Paranormal Society Victorian horror series and award-winning Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective urban fantasy series on the fog-shrouded cobblestones of Craven Street.

Much maligned by their male counterparts within the S.P.R.B., the women of the Whitechapel Paranormal Society are on their own to face a sinister dark mastermind as dismembered bodies are set across London’s East End like figures on a game board. Can they predict the killer’s next move—a bloody, ritualistic murder that might tip the scales and give demons dominion over all of London—before he strikes again?

Did something in the real world inspire Craven Street?

I grew up loving the Sherlock Holmes stories, but wishing that the supernatural elements, such as the hound in The Hound of the Baskervilles, proved to be truly paranormal. I also wished to see more female and non-binary characters solving crimes, finding happiness, and saving the world.

Set against the backdrop of pre- and post-Ripper Victorian London, the Whitechapel Paranormal Society series answers the question of how cases such as the Thames Torso Murders, Tottenham Court Road Mystery, Whitechapel Murders, Goswell Road Mystery, and the Vanishing Girls of West Ham might have been solved if put in the capable hands of a team of female special agents.

When I read an article about the bones unearthed at 36 Craven Street, believed to be the remnants of an illegal anatomy school, I knew that I’d found the perfect creepy mystery to weave together with the Barnes Mystery and the earliest Thames Torso Murders.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

I love every interaction between Cora and her team, but my favorite scene is in the first section, “Flight from the Rookery,” when Flan arrives at the bolt-hole where Cora is taking refuge from a horde of demon-possessed Whitechapel residents. The combination of danger, romantic tension, self-sacrifice, and supernatural mayhem is at a fever pitch and yet their banter always makes me laugh. It’s one of those scenes that holds all the elements I adore about this series. These are intelligent, heroic women with genuine emotions, and I will never stop cheering for their happiness.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

My basic process was the same that I’ve used for all of my novels and novellas. I did preliminary research and came up with a pitch and book description. Next, I wrote the first chapter, last chapter, and an outline with the major story beats. I find it helpful to have the last chapter written in advance so that I know exactly where I’m taking my characters and to have a clear goal for where the story will end. Finally, I wrote the remaining chapters, working chronologically.

I should note that the repeated emergencies and interruptions that have occurred, and continue to arise, during the writing of this series has made more than one friend comment that these books might be cursed. I’m not sure if it’s truly something malevolent or mere coincidence, but I’ve never had so many broken bones, family emergencies, or exploding home appliances. At last count, I’ve also cracked 13 teeth and have had at least 3 laptops burst into flames.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

I was shocked to receive a bit of hate mail for including LGBTQA+ characters in Craven Street, but there was a rainbow-hued silver lining. For every negative email, I’ve received dozens of messages from readers thanking me for including lesbian and non-binary characters.

What do you have planned next?

I’m currently working on the next Ivy Granger, Psychic Detective novel Blood Rite, the next Whitechapel Paranormal Society book Eeper Weeper, and we’re going into production on the Craven Street audiobook. We also have two more Ivy Granger translations releasing later this summer.

Pick up your own copy of Craven Street from Amazon:

Check out all of E.J.’s books:

Learn more at,,, and connect at @EJStevensAuthor.

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Silicon Valley Comic Con – tomorrow!

SVCC 2019 imageTomorrow (Friday, August 16) I’ll be down at the Silicon Valley Comic Con in San Jose, California, selling books in Artists Alley at Booth 21A.

I’ll have discounted copies of Lost Angels (the sequel will be out in October), as well as a deal on the Templar trilogy, a handful of the out-of-print Haunted Mansion Project: Year 2, and copies of my science fiction chapbook Ashes & Rust. There will also be copies of Tales for the Camp Fire for sale.

I’ll be sharing the booth with EM Markoff and LS Johnson, who will be selling their own scary books. The three of us can cut you a deal on a set of books that will allow you to get a taste for all our work.  We would love to set you up with a 3-book paperback set or a super cute ebook key.

The comic con goes on all weekend at the San Jose Convention Center on 150 West San Carlos.

Details are here: Among the guests are Arnold Schwartzenegger, Morena Baccarin, and Jason Momoa.



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5 Questions for Dana Fredsti

Screen Shot 2019-07-11 at 10.03.14 AMDana Fredsti and I go way back. She wrote about Forest Lawn and her love for zombie movies in Death’s Garden, my first book about cemeteries.  She wrote about surfing, ghost hunting, and working at a big cat rescue for Morbid Curiosity magazine. Her amazing and very funny zombie story closes out Tales for the Camp Fire: An Anthology Benefitting Wild Fire Relief.

We’ve read together, traveled to conventions together, take long walks on the beach together, and every so often we meet up to write.  You could say that Dana is my role model.

Officially, Dana Fredsti is an ex B-movie actress with a background in theatrical combat (a skill she utilized in Army of Darkness as a sword-fighting Deadite and fight captain). Through seven-plus years of volunteering at EFBC/FCC, Dana’s been kissed by tigers and had her thumb sucked by an ocelot with nursing issues. She’s the author of the Ashley Parker series, touted as Buffy meets The Walking Dead, the dark fantasy series Spawn of Lilith, and the science fiction series Time Shards, which she is co-writing with her husband and fellow author David Fitzgerald. They live in San Francisco with a horde of felines and their dog Pogeen.

Her newest book is Blood Ink:

Screen Shot 2019-07-11 at 10.04.10 AM

Having killed her last producer, stuntwoman Lee Striga’s next film shoot takes her to the voodoo-soaked bayous and haunted back alleys of New Orleans, where sinister supernatural figures stalk the streets. In a dark corner of the French Quarter, an arcane tattoo artist is using his clients in rituals that will open an inter-dimensional gateway for a demon god from beyond the stars.

Did something in the real world inspire Blood Ink?

Every book I write is inspired to some degree by real life, whether it be places, people, things, random conversations I happen to overhear (anyone else notice how loud a lot of people are when talking on their phones or with friends in public places?), or things that happen to me. My mom’s death certainly played a big part in the emotions that inform the ending. A trip to New Orleans and the affinity I felt for it, even though we were only there for five days, made it easy to decide to set much of the story there. And my checkered past as a specialty player (sword fighter) and low-budget movie actress are what made me decide to make my protagonist Lee a stuntwoman/actress in the first place.

What is your favorite scene in the book?

Oooh, this is a tough one. I love the final confrontation between Lee and Ashurra (the sorta kinda Lovecraftian horror from beyond the stars) because it actually made me cry when I wrote it. I think it packs a big emotional punch aside from being pretty horrific. But I also really like a scene in the French Quarter when Lee encounters a creepy-ass evil known as Nalusa Faluya (long black being), a flesh-eating critter out of old Choctow legends. I’d run across a short blurb about it when researching online, trying to find the right monster for this particular bit, and I admit I ran with it.

What was your writing process like as you wrote the book?

Oh, wow…  it was all over the maps. I was healing up from two hip replacement surgeries and also dealing with a walloping helping of grief from my mother’s passing in 2016, and I wasn’t sure what the hell I was doing. Instead of writing the book linearly, I jumped all over the map, wrote scenes as they occurred to me, and then had to put them all together in a way that made sense. The weirdest thing is I didn’t stress at all during the writing process. I just… figured it’d be done when it was done. I had this unshakable certainty that it would work. And I love the finished novel.

What was the best thing that happened during your promotion of the book?

I sprung for a BookBub deal for Spawn of Lilith (the first book in the series) leading up to the release of Blood Ink, and that’s the best money I’ve ever spent for promotion. Spawn of Lilith was No. 1 on Amazon for Horror, Vampire horror, and…  I THINK Urban Fantasy … for three days, so now I can say I’m a #1 Best-Selling Author.  I also kinda sorta learned how to do promo on Instagram, putting together some giveaways with items that tied in to the Lilith series. I met three awesome candlemakers, all three of whom created candles to go with the giveaways, and it was fun pushing myself to figure out how to do more by way of creative promotion.

What do you have planned next?

I’m currently working on the third Lilith novel (no official title yet), as well as co-writing the third Time Shards novel with my co-author David Fitzgerald. It’s a little disconcerting jumping back and forth between the two worlds!

I interviewed Dana and David about Time Shards here:

Check out all of Dana’s books on Amazon:

Or pick up Blood Ink here: 

I think Blood Ink stands alone, but don’t miss the first book, Spawn of Lilith:

You can sign up for her newsletter here:

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On the Radio this weekend

Rhoads T4tcf-ad-1This Sunday (8/11) I’ll be back on the “Lilycat on Stuff” radio show on from 12-2 pm San Francisco time. You can listen live or check out the podcast later.

I’ll be talking about and reading from Tales for the Camp Fire: A Charity Anthology Benefiting Wildfire Relief.

I’ve written about this before, but:  Last November, a terrible wildfire burned for 17 days in Northern California. Some of the power company’s equipment failed in a windstorm and threw sparks that burned out of control. The town of Paradise, California was leveled. The smoke from the fire was so bad that it could be seen from space. It drifted 200 miles from Butte County in the Sierra Nevada Mountains to settle in the Bay Area, where I live. For a week, we had the worst air quality in the world. So even if we didn’t lose anything directly in the fire, we were still affected by it.

The local chapter of the Horror Writers Association decided to help the survivors. Ben Monroe suggested we put together an anthology that we could sell to raise money for survivors. I donated four month’s time to edit. Tomes & Coffee volunteered to publish it. The cover art was donated by Petersen Games. All the stories—even the one by Clark Ashton Smith—are donations.

Let me stress that:  No one got paid for this anthology, so we could maximize the amount of money we could donate in support of fire relief. All of the book’s profits are going to the North Valley Community Foundation, which is a clearinghouse in Butte County that applies funds to the greatest needs.

Come get a taste on the radio this weekend, then pick up a copy of the book at:


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