3 Good Reasons to Party With Us at #GenreCon

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We’re now less than a week away from our big launch party weekend at GenreCon, at the Guelph Holiday Inn, so I thought I’d pop online in the midst of all the check-listing and last-minute prep to provide a few more incentives to come see us this coming weekend, for all the fence-sitters out there.

1) This may seem obvious, but we’ve got food! And prizes! We’re giving away a free, signed copy of Distant Early Warning, and we’re going to have an abundance of tasty, trail food inspired snacks. You won’t believe what I’ve gone and done with jerky… seriously!

2) Coming to the launch party is a great way to make new friends, and it’s also a great way to check out the book before you buy. I’ll be doing a reading, and we’ll have excerpts from the book playing all through the party on the con suite TV. If you’re of a more professional turn of mind, it’s also a great way to meet other authors and editors, who may or may not be currently reading for anthologies, wink wink.

3) And finally, the biggest reason to attend the launch party is that we’re offering a one-time unique experience that no Pop Seagull fan is going to want to miss out on… an exclusive screening of the leica reel for the upcoming, animated Distant Early Warning trailer! For those of you not familiar with animation terminology, a leica reel is an edited-together version of the storyboards for a piece of animation, with a preliminary soundtrack patched in. It is used to give the production crew (and in this case, our fans) an idea of what the finished film will look like. This reel is not going to be released to the internet, it is not going to be shown publicly again, and it offers an exciting sneak peek into what we’re working on, and what the book holds in store for readers.

We’d love to share all this with you on Friday, October 17th, from 7-9 pm, but you’ve got to come out to experience it! Taking the party door-to-door is a bit complicated for us right now, seeing as Pop Seagull hasn’t quite landed that party bus. Give it time, though…

Interview: Felicia Dennigan

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As a writer, it is my pleasure to bring the reading public opportunities to experience things that they would never have been able to access otherwise. In that ‘spirit’, our guest here today is just one of the unique interviewees that you’ll find here, and only here, on the Pop Seagull Blog. I reached across time and space to talk to the one, the only, Felicia “Denny” Dennigan, star of the upcoming book, Distant Early Warning. Denny is quite the elusive character, since she hails from, well, the future. I think I’ll let her take it from here.

Elizabeth Hirst: So, Denny, you’ve come a long way to be here. Tell me about what it’s like to live in your time and place.

Denny: Honestly? It’s total crap a lot of the time. There’s way too much water and rain everywhere, and a lot of stuff is broken down and badly maintained. I remember a time before the super storms, and the flooding, when people had way more tech and everybody drove cars… but that was when I was really little, and even then, I think we knew it couldn’t last. I’m from a place along the border called St. Catharines. Liz, I think you grew up there too, didn’t you?

EH: Yep. It’s got… character.

D: Well, you complain about it now, but try living in my time. We’ve got refugees, beggars everywhere, and only a select few people ever get the kinds of jobs that they want. I was lucky enough to have a teaching job for a while, but I had to give that up after some… major life upheavals. The Screamers threw things badly out of whack for a lot of people.

EH: Tell me about the Screamers. I don’t think anybody from our time and place has ever experienced anything like one, barring a really bad drug experience.

D: There’s still a lot of fear and disbelief surrounding the Screamers here too… but they’re no legend. Society lost our special effects capabilities a long time ago. I don’t know if anything I say can really fully capture them, but I’ll give it a shot. Picture an animated corpse. Let your imagination run wild with the gruesomeness of the injury, and the state of decay. Now picture it on fire… but it’s not normal fire either. It can be green, or blue, or red… any colour you can think of, and blinding. Sometimes they have smoke, or ribbons of mist reaching out from them. Now that you’ve got the visuals in your head, picture the harshest, most dissonant heavy metal song you’ve ever heard in your life, so loud that you can’t tune it out, and mixed with a bit of brake squeal, earthquake and dog whistle. These things come out all night up North. It’s no wonder people were going crazy and doing awful things. I feel sorry for the people up there. They had no choice but to come down south, and there was nothing to support them when they got there. My friend, Mrs. Mandrake, who lived in my old backyard…

EH: Whoa, hold on a second. You weren’t kidding about it being a different world out there! I think you’ve set the scene pretty vividly for our readers, so maybe we should get a little more personal at this point and talk about your Dad. What kind of relationship did you guys have?

D: Wow… you’d think this would get easier to talk about over time, but it’s still pretty fresh for me. My Dad was my world. For the longest time, I felt like we had each other, and we didn’t really need anybody else. I’m pretty sure nobody would understand him like I did anyway. We were our own brand of crazy, he and I, a legacy that I carry forward proudly. (Laughs) I think if the Dennigan family had a crest, it would have a big ol’ cracked pot in the middle of it, front and centre!

EH: Like all of us, he had a darker side, though, didn’t he?

D: Dad didn’t have an easy life. There was tension in his home as a kid, and he had to make some pretty hard choices at a young age. He didn’t always make the right ones. He did all right, though, until my step-sister Kendall died in a car accident while he was driving. After that, he just kind of fell apart. He had PTSD, and he found it hard to stay in one place for very long. People he met in his travels just saw a shabby guy, a bum with mental problems, but nobody who really knew him could think that. He was sweet, and funny, and always supported me when he could. That’s why, when he went missing, and his dog, Geoff, showed up at my house alone, I knew I had to do whatever it took to bring him back. Even after I saw him on TV as a Screamer, and I knew he was dead… I just couldn’t let him suffer like that after everything he’d been through.

EH: So you risked everything. You packed up, and took off, and ran after him to try and solve not only the mystery of his death, but the mystery of the Screamers themselves. How did that make you feel?

D: I was equal parts terrified, determined, and certain that he would have done the same for me, if he’d been able. There was also this weird lawless feeling, like I’d just cast off all the moorings of the civilized world, and I didn’t know any of the rules anymore. I think just about everybody has a map of where they think their life should go, and mine kind of got blown away in a gale of supernatural disaster. I’m still making it up as I go along at this point, but I’ll never regret making that first leap into the unknown.

EH: What do you hope people will get out of reading your story?

D: I know it sounds corny, but a lot of my story is about coming to terms with yourself. I think, looking back, that the most important thing I learned through everything that happened is that you can’t run from the parts of yourself that you don’t like, or that scare you. They’re still a part of you, and will follow you wherever you go. Repressed memories and personality traits are the real ghosts, because they never really die. I also learned that you can’t run away from other people forever, either. People need other people. We need help, and somebody to open up to. I mean, Geoff is a great guy, but I’ve learned that we all need people as well as pets around us to really thrive.

EH: What do you say to the people who think this interview is a book spoiler because we’ve just proven you don’t die at the end?

D: Give me a break. Having a viewpoint protagonist die at the end is so pretentious.

Thanks, Denny! And, if you’d like to read the rest of her harrowing tale of survival, we’re now accepting pre-orders on iBooks and Kobo.

Pre-orders… seriously this time! I have links!

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As you may remember, a couple of days ago, pre-orders were delayed in a rather sucky manner. Well, no more! We are now officially open for pre-orders on Kobo store and iBooks. Here are the direct links.

http://store.kobobooks.com/en-CA/ebook/distant-early-warning

https://itunes.apple.com/no/book/distant-early-warning/id923066990?mt=11

Everyone who contacted me about pre-order corrections has already been personally contacted, as promised.

 

Freebie time!

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You may notice that we’ve added a free samples page to our top bar.

In the past, we’ve relied on our Smashwords page to provide our reading samples, but with the influx of new viewers to the blog, and Distant Early Warning due out in a couple of weeks, I thought it would be a good idea to start a sample chapters page here. More samples will be coming later, when I’ve had a chance to catch my breath from all the launch prep, but for now, please enjoy a haunting tale of the Screamers from Distant Early Warning.

We’re offering a downloadable PDF for those who can access them. For everyone else, I’ve copy-pasted the text into the body of the page.

Enjoy, my friends!

Correction for Pre-order Customers

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Well, I’m sure you all know how it is sometimes when you get excited and don’t read the fine print.

We’ve had a few concerned pre-order customers writing us to tell us that the pre-orders don’t seem to be processing on Smashwords. I looked into this issue right away and discovered that this is true.

Apparently, Smashwords doesn’t offer pre-orders on the main site, but on its big affiliates, like iBooks, Kobo and Barnes and Noble. So, that means that the process will be delayed a few days while my book filters into the Smashwords premium catalogue and out to its affiliates.

If you are one of the amazing folks who tried to pre-order on Smashwords and couldn’t get through, first of all, I’m sorry. This is our first time doing pre-orders, and we’re still learning as we go along. And I want to say a big thank-you to the fans who alerted us to this issue so we could respond in a timely manner. Big hugs, you guys!

If you tried to pre-order and I haven’t heard from you, please contact me at lizmclean (dot) artist (at) gmail (dot) com or comment here and I will personally notify you as soon as the preorders become available.

Indie publishing is a continuous learning process, but as long as we keep improving with every new release, and learning from the bumps in the road, we’ll only get better and better, together.

Pre-Orders for Distant Early Warning Now Open!

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So, judging by my posts, you might get the impression that I’m a little excited about the upcoming Distant Early Warning release. You might be right.

The physical books are making their debut at GenreCon, in Guelph, but just because you’re far away doesn’t mean you can’t join in the fun. You can get your copy of Distant Early Warning nailed down even earlier, by pre-ordering a copy on Smashwords!

What’s even cooler is that we’ve got a sample of the new book up on Smashwords for your viewing pleasure, and it’s different than the one that we’re posting here. Smashwords also offers all major formats of ebook, including PDF and HTML.

Buying the Smashwords pre-order edition of the book is by far the easiest and most economical way to try out the book, and pre-orders really help us to spread the word. So, if you’ve been wondering what Pop Seagull is all about, now might be a good time to give us a try.

 

Some very good ideas on indie publishing, reviews and publicity

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With all the hubbub lately about Distant Early Warning, I thought I’d make a post that’s a little more general, and give everyone a breath of fresh air. Rest assured, the new book is coming along swimmingly, and more updates, interviews and info are in the making.

I was browsing the SF Canada email list yesterday, and I was linked to a very interesting article by an independent editor. Here it is for those of you who would like to read it yourselves.

The thesis statement, in brief, is this: Mainstream reviewers and major news outlets should work toward devoting half of their review space to new and previously unknown works. Finding these works in the immense pile of indies is not difficult for seasoned editors and reviewers, who know within pages whether or not a work is worthwhile, and it would bring a much-needed breath of fresh air to big publishing, and in some ways take over for the new ideas that editors had to drop after the death of the mid-list. The reviews would not have to be long or involved, but even merely flagging a book for curious readers could spark a success for a deserving indie author. This could be something assigned to interns or slush readers.

I like this suggestion for a number of reasons. First of all, it does not devolve into griping about the role of the editor or the state of major publishing houses. At this point, those companies are in the clutches of major corporations, and have about as much chance of returning to the old system as a five year old has of returning to the womb. It’s not the fault of any individual within that system that books have started to take less risks. The corporations are just trying to make safe bets, which is what corporations do.

Instead, the author suggests that reviewers use some of their space to highlight the excellent work that is being done by many indies, in a way that (hopefully) won’t threaten the big guys that purchase advertising space. If this idea were implemented, indies would have a solid avenue of advancement and a place in the establishment, when at the moment our position is shaky and subject to change depending on a million different factors that are difficult to define. I have shared this article, and I hope you do too, if the argument strikes a chord with you.

On a more personal note, this article touches on why I made the difficult decision to change my focus from mainstream commercial success to an indie publishing business. For some, it is not a choice, but the only option to get their work seen, but I had been working professionally as a writer for the gaming industry for quite some time before taking this route. I chose to do this, because all my life, I have been fascinated by artistic daring. I have gravitated towards the discovery of the new, the work that asks more of its readers, and the dramatically different. Wherever the discovery of such works is going on, I want to be there… on the cutting edge. I want to forge a business where we all help to push each other into the light, where talented, unorthodox individuals can work together to make stuff like reviews, and recognition, and discovery happen.

But in order for that to happen, we need more good ideas like the one above.

 

I’ve Got Something to Show You…

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It’s the Distant Early Warning cover reveal!

Denny and Geoff hanging out with the province of Ontario. That's gonna be a wild party.

Denny and Geoff hanging out with the province of Ontario. That’s gonna be a wild party.

I would like to say a few words, if I may, about the development of this cover.

Art is kind of funny… sometimes you come up with a really vague, sketchy idea in your head, and you barely plan it out and fly by the seat of your pants, and it turns out so brilliantly that you wonder why you ever bother to plan anything.

Other times, you plan everything to the nth degree, with thumbnails, and test paintings, and lots of lengthy dialogues with the illustrator about character and goals and marketing, and you sit back congratulating yourself and waiting for the brilliance to roll in three weeks ahead of schedule. Then the art fairy comes down, and says “Not today, my friends!” and you end up re-designing. And re-designing again. You end up days behind, with a grumpy artist and an antsy publisher.

I think you can probably infer what happened this time. And yet, I find that no matter what route a piece of art takes to get to the good stuff, whether it feels effortless or extracts every drop of that 90% perspiration to get where it needs to be, the results can be just as joyful and welcome as if you’d planned it that way all along. I’ve learned a lot over the three years I’ve been doing this, and I’m very proud of the design we’re putting into this book, both inside and out.

Want to see what we’re putting inside? We’ve got samples and pre-orders for that… coming soon.

 

How Do *You* Like to Party?

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With just over a month to GenreCon, we’ve been busy over here on the Pop Seagull Playground. We’re perfecting the last details on Distant Early Warning, planning new promo materials and posters (one of my fave projects) and, of course, planning how to make the big launch party an epic blast of pure fun.

While I was thinking about potential party and promo ideas, and trying to tie elements of the party into the book, I remembered that for most of the book, Denny carries a shotgun, and it kind of becomes an iconic weapon for her. Then, unfortunately, because my mind inevitably slips into Simpsons references, I pictured Homer out in front of the bowling alley with a shotgun… Bowling! Get your bowling here!

I have a feeling that this marketing plan would attract record numbers of police and fire officials, but few would stay to purchase books.

So, since that idea is a bit more… jail inducing than is desirable, what are your ideas? What would you like to see in a launch party? Food, activities, prizes… let the ideas fly!

Distant Early Warning is On The Radar for October!

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Distant Early Warning Splash Page Logo by Elizabeth Hirst

Distant Early Warning Splash Page Logo by Elizabeth Hirst

It’s been a hectic summer for a lot of us, including the folks at Pop Seagull. I went through some job upheaval at my 9-to-5 gig, and had a string of family health emergencies. Jenn has also been facing some challenging life circumstances and is taking a break from helping with the business for a while. As for Robin, our main illustrator, he’s doing fine, but he’s kind of been watching all of it happen with his characteristic raised eyebrow.

We’re happy to announce, however, that with fall closing in and the challenges of August a good thirteen hours behind us, my new novel, Distant Early Warning, is in the last phases of editing, and is definitely going to be released on October 17th as part of the festivities at Genrecon in Guelph.

The first thing I want to say about this launch is, of course, that you should go. The launch party is going to be held at the Holiday Inn Guelph hotel and conference centre, from 7-9 pm on Friday, October 17th. We’re kicking off the con in style, with prize packs, contests, and of course, Pop Seagull’s latest novel. If things go especially well between now and then, we may even have a sneak peek at a really special book trailer we’ve got in production right now.

I’m going to do another whole post on Genrecon, the fun I’ve had there in past years, and why you should totally go, but for now I want to focus on the book just a little bit. Since I haven’t posted a ton about this project yet, I thought I would compile a little self-interview/FAQ about the book to let our fans know a little more about it.

Q: What genre is Distant Early Warning? What’s the plot?

A: Distant Early Warning is an Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Adventure set in a future Ontario where global warming has taken over. As a result of the imbalance in nature, the dead have begun rising from the grave at night and screaming, causing people to do strange things, and even kill themselves and others. As a result of the ‘Screamer’ invasion, the people living in Northern Ontario flood down into the more populated regions near the border, taxing the already crumbling infrastructure and resulting in widespread homelessness, refugee camps and resource shortages.

The protagonist, Denny, is an academic loner who relies on sporadic visits from her dad to fill the lonely gaps in her life. The Screamer Crisis doesn’t affect her day-to-day life much, until her dad goes missing, and his dog mysteriously shows up at her house one day after work. Denny spends all of her spare time looking for her dad, until one day, she sees him on a TV newscast from the north, dead and screaming. With the most important relationship in her life severed by a mysterious death, Denny sells her job and her possessions, and makes the dangerous trip up north to find her father and solve the mystery of his death. In the process, she encounters wild-west gunfights, rogue journalists, dangerous animals, and a power and awareness that will change her life forever. For she discovers that the Screamers aren’t screaming at all… they’re singing, and only Denny can decipher the songs and put them to rest.

Q: Cool! What was the inspiration for this story?

Surprisingly enough, the inspiration for the story didn’t come from global warming, or any of the climate change elements in the story. I did a lot of research to get those parts of the story right, as well as the geography and features of Northern Ontario, but they came after the initial spark of inspiration. The thing that got the whole concept going for me was the fact that Northern Ontario has a crazy number of unsolved murders and missing people, because there is just so much vast forest and landscape that it’s easy for people to just… disappear. I started to wonder what would happen if all of the energy accompanying those deaths and disappearances were released by a catastrophic event. Around the same time, I learned about the Grimm’s fairy tale of The Singing Bone, where a wrongfully murdered man’s bone sings to a wandering minstrel to bring his murderers to justice. Those two concepts kind of bound themselves up in my mind, and Distant Early Warning was born. In terms of characters, Denny and Geoff (the dog) came first, and then the male lead, Wayne. Wayne came through to me as a joker, with a serious heart and mission, which is largely what he became in the end.

Q: Who is your favourite character, and why?

The dog, Geoff, is by far my favourite character. He’s based off of my old dog, Poe, who passed away a couple of years ago, and Woolie, who is a doggy legend in our family. Woolie was a border collie born without a tail that my mom adopted early on in her teaching career, to keep him from being drowned by the family he lived with. Woolie was a funny, sweet, loyal dog, who grew up to be incredibly smart and well-behaved. He walked without a leash and taught himself to use the slides at the park, among other things. Woolie was eventually done in by his love for rabbits, when he was hit by a car after chasing one across the road. Before he went, however, his charming personality touched my parents’ hearts and cemented their lifelong love of dogs, which they then passed on to me.

Getting back to Geoff, though, he’s my favourite because he’s sweet, and loyal, and participates in the adventure just as much as his human counterparts, only without the verbiage. I love Denny, too, and I definitely think she holds a part of me, but Geoff warms my heart, and I hope he warms your heart, too.

Q: Is there anything else special about the book?

I think the design of this book is going to be very special. Here at Pop Seagull, design is of the utmost importance to us, and this time, we’ve really gone above and beyond adding extras that will make copies of Distant Early Warning feel unique to book collectors. First of all, we’ve got three illustrations lined up for the book by our house illustrator, Robin McLean, and they are looking absolutely fabulous. Robin was really inspired by the play of light and dark seen in many horror comics. Being a monster fan himself, he was super excited to work on this project, and it shows. There are also going to be beautifully designed chapter headings and a splash page illustration by yours truly. It’s going to be a pretty, pretty book, and we’ve tried really hard to make it a special experience for those who buy physical copies.

Q: Okay, this book sounds like fun. What’s the best way to get my hands on a copy?

There are a number of ways to get a copy of the book, depending on how you like to read.

If you prefer e-books, or don’t mind them and want to get a bargain, I suggest Smashwords. Because there is no overhead cost to us, our e-books are always a little bit cheaper than the physical copy, especially if you prefer to buy online.

If you like physical books more, I would highly suggest coming out to a con to buy a copy in person. We can always afford to give a better price in person, plus we have free perks such as autographs, and pretty bookmarks! However, if you live in a part of the world that makes it impossible or very, very expensive to get to a con where we are, you can buy our books through Amazon. (Or, you could bug your local con to make me a guest, wink wink. I love to travel!)

If you are a bookseller or book club, or want to buy copies in bulk for any reason, please contact us at lizmclean (dot) artist (at) gmail (dot) com.

We are also currently compiling a list of reviewers to send copies out to, so please let us know at the above email if you are interested in doing a review on any platform.

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