I am in Gdańsk, Poland and reading book two in your Jonny Lycan series!
There’s something to read first thing in the morning. Today I woke up to a lovely letter from a reader. This happens occasionally and is always a blast when it does. When it comes from an unexpected corner of the world, it’s even more special.
I like Poland. I was there on business once and can speak my three travel words of Polish. Whenever I go to a foreign country, I learn three words: Hello. Thank you. Beer. (I don’t know the spelling, but in Polish, that’s Dzendobri, Djakuya, and Pivo)
I once tried adding up all the places my work has been read: The US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Belgium, Netherlands, France, Ukraine, Israel, Dubai, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Singapore, China and Jamaica that I know of. There might be more. I hope so.
The reader even sent photographic evidence:
We writers have huge egos but also need validation for more than our parking. If you enjoy a book, please leave a review. But consider dropping a line by social media (Twitter/X is @Wturmel) or email. (There’s a place on the website.) It can make someone’s day.
Thanks, Lex, and I hope you enjoy Johnny’s future adventures.
Johnny Lycan & the Last Witchfinder is coming May 2, 2024, from Black Rose Writing. It’s not too late to get started on the series now!
“What do you do when the feedback you get doesn’t agree?”
Being a writer means getting all kinds of feedback. “It’s great, don’t change a thing!” “Lose the opening and start on page 47.” “Have you considered macrame as an artistic outlet instead?”
Here’s the thing. I don’t object to feedback. I like it. I have performed or put my work into the public since I was 18. Reviews are old news, both raves and pans. I’ve learned not to take the highs or lows too seriously, and look for value in the critique. There’s always something to learn.
Which brings me to the current dilemma: What do you do when the feedback you get contradicts the other opinions? I mean in precisely equal measure. It’s frustrating.
For context, I have been getting feedback on the “Johnny Lycan: Werewolf Detective,” screenplay. (The schmantzy jargon for it is “coverage,” in case you want to feel like an insider.) Some of this coverage I’ve paid for, getting opinions from neutral sources who don’t know me or give a rip about hurting my feelings. Some are from other screenwriters.
When feedback, even harsh feedback, is consistent writers must pay attention to it. Maybe the premise isn’t as clear as you think it is. If people constantly miss the joke, there’s a high probability that it’s just not funny. Take that knowledge and move on. That’s what feedback’s for, and only idiots write it off as not worth considering. Doesn’t mean you agree, but you have to at least give it some thought and consider your options.
As I say, some of the feedback I expected. There’s a big old lull at the beginning of Act 2. I need more action during the dialog scenes. (In “Save the Cat,” terms, I need more “Pope in the Pool.” Trust me, if you’ve read the book you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, hang in there.) I need to change a couple of settings or it will be too expensive to produce. I actually suspected all that, so the feedback is valuable. I can work with that.
But there are a couple of huge sticking points where the people doing the evaluation fundamentally disagree. They like something the other hates or the other way around. Here are two examples:
That noir-y first-person narration. As you know, the Johnny Lycan books are written in first person. Books aren’t films, so I agonized over whether to go for that old detective noir feeling to get inside Johnny’s head. The first draft was full of Johnny’s narration- very much like Zombieland meets The Big Sleep. One writer thought it was brilliant and the highlight of the script. Another reader thought it was cheap and if I did away with it, the story would flow better. Ummm, thanks?
How do you solve a problem like Meaghan? The other big source of disagreement is about poor Meaghan. Seems her father doesn’t like her much and neither do half the readers. Exactly half the readers felt her B story gives Johnny’s character depth and adds humanity to the story. The other half finds her boring and a distraction to the main story. Here’s the thing. If Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk gets made as a one-off, we can probably lose Meaghan as a character. Kill your darlings, right?
But she’s important to the rest of the series. I can’t imagine doing either The Vegas Berserker or Last Witchfinder without her. Of course, what are the odds someone’s going to make all three films? Slim to none. Discuss amongst yourselves.
Taking one set of feedback means creating a very different-feeling movie than the other, even if 80% of the script is identical. I don’t expect any of you reading this to have the answers, but thought you might enjoy a little look into the part of writing you seldom see.
My other screenplay, “Ghost Girl” is getting much more consistent (and positive) feedback that made the next draft that much better. I have high hopes for it. But Johnny is close to my heart, and I want to do right by him.
Not many people know this, but for about a year I took fencing lessons. I even competed in a couple of tournaments. (I’m way too sober at this writing to tell you the story.) So when I came across author Matthew Carauddo and learned he was heavily into stage combat and the like, I had to talk to him. He tells us about his “Diamond Dragons,” series and more.
So who are ya?
I’m Matthew Carauddo. My overall background is 30+ years as an actor, director, and performer. I was also a licensed fencing instructor at an academy of the sword since 2000/2001. In addition to instructing and competing as a saber fencer (12+ medals), I later created a website titled SaberCombat.com (now legacy/archived), which revolved around my live fight choreography, special events/workshops, L.E.D. saber designs, and sound effects work from 2006 to ~2018. However, from 2018 forward, I’ve primarily focused on my screenplay and book series/hexalogy known as “Diamond Dragons”. As of the moment I typed this, DD1-3 were published over 2021-2023. DD4-6 launch over 2024-2026. #Solstices
More information about my past, present, and future(?) can be found on the website: Diamond-Dragons.com
What’s the Diamond Dragon series about?
“Diamond Dragons” is a series of six, but tthe introductory story introduces readers to an ancient society of intelligent dragons on a foreign planet that is closer to the size of Jupiter or Saturn rather than that of Earth’s. In short, the “good guy dragons” seek to re-discover and protect a legendary, mysterious creature–presumably a “Phoenix”–from the “bad guys” (bone/ghost dragons). A race against Time itself ensues, and, a final confrontation at the “Night Pyre” (an array of volcanic spires) is inevitable.
I won’t bother mentioning any protagonists or antagonists–people can discover these superheroes for themselves.
What about this story appealed to you?
I can safely say that after 30+ years of experience in live production, directing, acting, storytelling, design (graphics, sound, video, props, costumes, etc.), and even many aspects of music… I was dying to craft an epic series revolving around dragons for years. In early 2018, I began crafting the SCREENPLAY version of DD1. With a powerful ending to the story in mind from the very beginning, I created a competent cast of characters and their approximate ages, skills, personalities, etc. By 2019, I’d developed a truly robust screenplay. Additionally, I’d even hired V.O. actors (including myself!) to record a few examples of character voices/vocals, commissioned a few artists to craft some concept art, and I also found a talented arranger/composer to work with me on realizing my vision for a 12-note, 3-chord primary theme for the series.
Fast forward to 2023 (currently the present, but if you’re reading this it MIGHT be “the past”), and “Diamond Dragons”, books 1-3 comprise ~420,000 words, 250+ illustrations, 3 gorgeous cover designs, a dozen teaser videos, many tracks of original music… aaand a paaartriiidge and a pear tree! 🙂
Whew. That’s so much work. What are the roots of the story?
Akin to the teachings of Joseph Campbell, “Diamond Dragons” (book/screenplay #1) is loosely modeled around the skeletal structure of a typical hero’s journey. For those unfamiliar with what that means, DD1 is comparable to SW, LOTR, The Matrix, HP, etc.
The remaining stories (books/screenplays #2-6) build upon subtle hints and purposely “hidden in plain sight” details from the first story. In short, they reveal the true vision of each thematic underpinning interwoven within the the series as a whole. Without giving anything away, I might merely type: “What is Armageddon’s Ballad?”. Anyone reading my words here, right now is welcomed and encouraged to find out just how far the portal of fire (from book one) leads. Reflection is truly key.
Who are the authors you really enjoy?
Rostand, Moliere, Aristophanes, Goldman, Shakespeare, Poe, Stoppard, Poe, Bukowski, etc. In addition to traditional authors, I’ve also been GREATLY inspired by storytelling which stems from other sources–such as filmmaking, video games, animation, etc. For examples in that scope of things, I’ve always been a huge fan of Garriott (“Ultima”), Jon VanCaneghem (“Might & Magic”), Ed Zwick (“Glory”, “The Last Samurai”), Ang Lee’s version of “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, Ion Storm’s “Deus Ex” (helmed by the legendary Warren Spector), and certainly world-renown projects such as “Chronotrigger”, “Phantasy Star” (I, II, and IV), etc. And, obviously, famous creators such as Spielberg, Lucas, Scorsese, Coppola, the Coen brothers, the Wachowskis, etc. etc.
Pretty large list, I understand. 🙂 This is what happens when you’ve been studying and creating for 30+ years.
Where can we learn more about you and your book(s)?
The YT video channel–also listed on my website–is also a fantastic repository of (free) information, imagery/illustrations, teasers, and pre-visualizations of the DD series. And though I have accounts on TT, “X” (lol), Vimeo, etc., I don’t really have the hours to update them. YT is the best place to digest videos regarding DD1-6.
As a matter of note, I think it’s important that anyone reading this understands that I (Matthew) pretty much do everything alone. That means: outlining, writing, development, editing (all types), illustrations (most), formatting, cover designs, website(s), videos, V.O., etc. Sadly, I wouldn’t recommend this to 90% of creators out there for a myriad of reasons I won’t (and shouldn’t) go into here. “Time is the only resource for which no creature may bargain…” –DD1
Johnny Lycan & the Last Witchfinder is coming May 2, 2024 from Black Rose Writing. It’s not too late to get started on the series now!
I’m a 62-year-old man with a good job and a grown family. Why do I write silly, scary stories about werewolf detectives? Since the thought of using TikTok makes my skin crawl, I thought I’d just share my thoughts.
Why are we so fascinated with Lycans? Take a look. Let me know if you agree.
Johnny Lycan is a unique blend of werewolf story and Jack Reacher style detective thriller. There are demons and haunted relics, good old-fashioned clue-following and punching (and worse) bad guys.
The final book in the series, Johnny Lycan & the Last Witchfinder, comes out May 2, 2024 from Black Rose Writing.. If you’d like to get on the email list, let a brother know. Use the contact form on the left-hand side of the screen.
I am a sucker for a good heist story. That’s especially true when you throw in exotic locations and fantastic McGuffins. I really enjoyed The Medina Device and thought I’d talk to fellow Black Rose Writing author, T J Champitto.
T.J. What’s your deal?
I’m an award-winning fiction author with two novels currently on the market. My debut, The Medina Device, was given a 2020 PenCraft Award for Best Action Thriller and my latest novel, The Shadowmaker, recently won a Literary Titan Gold Award and is the first book in a new series I’m working on. Before I became a published author, I spent many years working as a travel writer and media buyer, and I now reside in the United States with my beautiful wife Tisha. I enjoy traveling, discovering new things, and seeking inspiration from all forms of art and culture.
Tell us about the Medina Device. What’s it about?
The Medina Device follows former Navy SEAL, Cameron Lyle, who’s trying to adjust to life as a husband, a father, and a government contractor. Along the way, his thirst for adventure gets the better of him and through a series of high-stakes robberies, Cameron has caught the attention of a fledgling FBI agent who is drawing dangerously close to putting the pieces together and solving these crimes. The story gets even more interesting when an ancient piece of technology is discovered in the mountains of Bolivia and Cam and his team are hired to steal it. As the plot presses on, the mystery surrounding the device begins to unfold in dramatic fashion. This novel has a ton of great settings, suspenseful action sequences, and fascinating characters.
I love the idea of a team pulling off international heists, and this one has some interesting twists. Where’d it come from?
I think the crime thriller genre has always appealed to me, and when I wrote this novel I was really inspired by authors like Dan Brown and Steve Berry, so the whole ancient brotherhood element along with mysterious technologies and fringe sciences really pulled at my creativity. I set out to write something that pushed the bounds of reality—something that would challenge the reader’s imagination. The roots of the story itself began with the concept of a good guy gone bad. I wanted to tell a classic heist story from the perspective of the bad guy, and play with some darker themes along the way. There’s a lot to like about Cam, and as his character begins to develop on the pages, you start to understand that, like many of us, he’s sort of going through a quest for self-discovery. And I think that’s a very relatable theme for most people.
Who did you read when you were younger, and who are you reading now?
Growing up I read a lot of George Orwell, John Steinbeck and Hunter S. Thompson. As I learned to appreciate the art of suspenseful storytelling, I drifted more towards authors like Tom Clancy, Paula Hawkins, Lee Child and some of the other commercial greats. These days, I’m really into Olen Steinhauer. His Tourist series is one of my absolute favorites and I’m constantly inspired by his pacing and plot sequences. The guy’s truly an amazing writer.
Where can we learn more about you and your work?
You can learn more about me and my books on my website at tjcauthor.com, as well as Goodreads and Amazon. You can also find promotions and announcements through my Facebook and Twitter pages, and for a tiny glimpse into my life as an author you can check me out on Instagram.
If that title didn’t catch your attention, why are we even friends? You know my first novels were historical fiction. Now add the fact that growing up in BC we used to play “Sasquatch Hunters” at recess in the woods behind the school in Mission BC. So I was thrilled to hear about fellow Black Rose Writer David Buzan’s book In the Lair of Legends.
David let’s start with who the heck you are.
I’m a late-to-the-party author who didn’t even begin writing my debut novel until the end of 2020. Although I had started selling short fiction in high school and early into college, I found myself exclusively pursuing screenwriting after graduating from the Vancouver Film School in 1994. It was a wild ride! Fifteen years, three agents, a half-dozen spec scripts, two options…and plenty of heartache. In fact, I had become so disillusioned with the entire process that I found myself walking away from it entirely. I had truly convinced myself that I was a failure, and turned my back on any new creative writing for over a decade.
There was a distinct moment in October of 2020 when everything changed. It was in the midst of the worst wildfire season in Oregon’s history. The sky had been choked with smoke for endless days, and several close friends and family members had to be evacuated from their homes. While this was happening, the whole world was dealing with Covid-19. Being a manager for an essential business, I was working right through the treacherous smoke and the threat of the virus. One afternoon at work, strong emotions totally overwhelmed me. I remember walking outside and staring up at the dark skies. I thought about my writing and was instantly filled with regret.
There’s a moment in ROCKY BALBOA when Rocky explains that his desire to step back into the ring was akin to feeling “something in the basement.” It’s a compunction to return to a past dream and finally prove something to yourself. That’s certainly the way that I felt at that moment. Before I walked back inside that day, I had made the unwavering commitment to start writing again. And so I did.
I did the spec script thing back in the 80s and 90s, and am working on a Johnny Lycan script, so I feel ya about coming back after so long at the day job. What’s your book about?
“In the Lair of Legends” centers around a Native American Civil War veteran who finds himself battling a unit of Army traitors and a legendary monster in a desperate fight for survival. The story itself is a unique genre mishmash: action-adventure/historical fiction/western/horror. It’s got the large-scale stunts of a James Bond picture, wild Schwarzenegger-esque one-liners, and the bone-crunching action of a “Die Hard” film. But at its center is Jolon Winterhawk, an honorable and moral indigenous protagonist whose spiritual journey is every bit as difficult as his physical one. Plus, the book showcases a pair of Sasquatch maneaters!
Shut up at take my money! What are the roots of the story?
As a writer, heroes that are on some sort of redemptive journey always appeal to me. In this instance, there was a man straddling two vastly different ideologies: the Nez Perce tribe he’s fighting to defend, as well as the nation he’s sworn to protect. The dichotomy of that was the fertile soil that Winterhawk grew from. In terms of history, most of us are ignorant of the fact that nearly a quarter-million Native Americans fought during the Civil War. With certain aspects of this story, I wanted to show how they were treated not only on the battlefield by fellow soldiers but also how they were ultimately received after returning home to their tribes. Added to this is the relatively unknown aspects of the Army Balloon Corps during that era, whose last remaining aeronauts are the book’s duplicitous human antagonists.
As for the ravenous monsters, I wanted to reframe the idea of Bigfoot in the imagination of my readers. Growing up in Oregon, you see Sasquatch images everywhere: bumper stickers, candy wrappers, jam bottles, and t-shirts. Bigfoot is very much like our state animal! Of course, he’s always portrayed as some sort of gentle giant. That definitely wasn’t my intent here. With “In the Lair of Legends,” I wanted to make the Sasquatch into a terrifying defender of his forest domain. In this book, Bigfoot is much more reminiscent of “Jaws” than “Harry and the Hendersons.”
Who are the authors you enjoy?
My favorite author is David Morrell. His work (especially the groundbreaking “First Blood”) created entire genres and subgenres in the thriller category. I’m also an avid reader of Stephen King, Tana French, and Matthew Reilly. All are different writers with totally opposite styles. But they each have a unique voice that sets them apart from everyone else.
Where can we learn more about you?
You’ll find me interacting a lot on social media, especially on the platform-formally-known-as-Twitter. I enjoy talking about a myriad of topics with people, especially movies and film score appreciation. There are links to follow me on various social media platforms found on my website: www.davidbuzan.com.
Someone pointed out recently that I’ve been uncharacteristically quiet. (It should also be noted they weren’t complaining about that.) That’s because I’ve been very busy in the real world, but I figured it was time to update you about my foolishness.
Johnny Lycan and the Last Witchfinder is now safely at Black Rose Writing. The publication date is May 2, 2024. Now, if that seems like an eternity away, you’re not kidding. The wheels grind slowly in the publication world. But I have been getting people to read advance copies… here are a couple of the nice things they’ve said:
“Turmel’s latest is full of the punchy, fast paced prose I’ve come to expect from him. It’s delightfully gritty from beginning to end, and Johnny Lycan is that sort of old school PI Urban Fantasy hero that’s grown increasingly rare these days. My only complaint is that this book wraps up the trilogy, meaning I’ll just have to reread them to get more Johnny.”
– Bob McGough author of the Jubal County Saga
“Johnny Lycan is a fantastic gritty story about a werewolf enforcer for various crimes that sometimes solves crimes. Wayne Turmel has created a unique world that is seedy, supernatural, and alive.”
CT Phipps, The Rules of Supervillainy
Adventure, supernatural beings, mystery, and tough choices wrapped up in a PI’s fur coat. Johnny is at it again!
Johnny is at it again!
Madilynn Dale, The Chapter Goddess
Could We See Johnny Lycan: the Movie?
Years before most of you knew I existed, I dreamed of being a hot Hollywood screenwriter. In fact, I had two screenplays optioned, although they never saw the light of day. Now I’ve got a sad, quivering little first baby draft of a screenplay for Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk. I’m in the early stages of having other humans look at it. Here’s how you can help:
If you have screenwriting experience, would you be willing to take a look and give me feedback?
When you’re an indie author, you get told constantly that you need a newsletter. How else will people know about what you’re doing? How can you tell them about your new books?
The problem is that I hate bothering you unless I have something to say. That disclaimer out of the way, I’m seriously going about rebuilding my reader list. I’m looking to not only update you on publication, but also let you know what I’ve been reading and who you might want to read as well.
If you’re on my list, you’ll be receiving an email in the next week or so. All you have to do is tell me whether you want to remain on the mailing list.
If you’re not on the list and would like to be, let a brother know. There’s a sign-up form on my website ( look halfway down on the left), or just drop me an email. I promise not to make your life miserable.
Enough for now! Enjoy. There are more author interviews on the way. Thank you for your patience and for supporting my work!
If you’re enjoying the Werewolf PI series, I have news. If you’re not, it’s still news you just might not care as much. The third (and final) book: Johnny Lycan and the Last Witchfinder has gone to the publisher. (Blessings on the home and camels of Reagan and the team at Black Rose Writing)
The proposed publication date is May 2, 2024. Yeah, I know that feels like a long way out, but there’s lots of work to be done between now and then. There’s a cover to design, 87 rounds of proofing (which still won’t be enough), reviews, blurbs, and all kinds of promo work to be done.
If you’ve read the others in the series, the-god-of-your-choice love ya. Please review it (especially book 2) and tell your friends. If you haven’t, you have 9 months to get through your TBR pile before the new book comes out. Order books 1 and 2 and get started!
It’s the last of this series. What’s next? I honestly have no idea. Maybe a return to historical fiction? Maybe one of the characters in the new book gets a spinoff? I’ll let you know after a long literary post-partum depression and fetal position resolve themselves.
If you want to know when the new book will be available for pre-order or just news on what’s going on, join my newsletter. The signup is on the left side of this page.
Thanks for coming along for the ride. Don’t let the weasels get you down
I know I haven’t posted for a while, so thought I’d catch you up on the doings around Casa Turmel. It’s been crazy busy, and my social media presence has suffered as a result. Here’s the latest:
The Long Distance Team is out in the world and doing well.
The third book in the Long Distance Worklife series came out in March, followed by all the press and then speaking engagements. I don’t often post about my worklife on this blog, but I’m proud of The Long-Distance Team. Also, our podcast, The Long Distance Worklife is gaining momentum. if you haven’t listened to it, but care about remote and hybrid work, or just want to hear how the way we make a living is changing, take a listen.
Johnny Lycan 3 is coming in May
Here’s the Johnny Lycan news. The third (and likely final) book inthe Werewolf PI series is coming out May 2, 2024.“Johnny Lycan and the Last Witchfinder” is in the final editing stages now. We’ll keep you posted. I have no idea what comes next (well, ideas but no actual plans. I have to rewrite this beast first)
If you haven’t yet left a review for book 2, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, please do. Only 29 people have reviewed it so far, and I know more of you have read it than that. I’d really appreciate it.
Life goes on… and on…. and on
Truth is, life is crazy and I’ve been focusing on the real world. Nothing’s wrong, but as an indie author, sometimes you have to make choices about where you spend your time. I’m getting back in the groove of things now. Looking to interview more writers you should know, and finishing the multiple projects on my plate.
I appreciate everyone who reads my work. As the airlines say, you have a lot of choices when it comes to what to read. Thank you for choosing my work.