December 19, 2012

My last free book of 2012

It must be the holidays.

Or my generous spirit.

Or maybe I've just got too many books taking up space on my desk.

Nah, it's my generous spirit.

Which is why I'm giving away one more free copy of The Ghost Runner on Goodreads.

The deadline is Dec. 31, so signup now!

Happy Holidays...

December 18, 2012

Here's to anonymity

I am the anonymous writer.

Blair Richmond is my pen name, or alias. It is my ticket to freedom. And, true, I shouldn't care what people think, but I do. I can't help it. And, under the veil of Blair Richmond, I don't worry about my neighbor secretly judging me because of what I wrote about the cute but slightly creepy town of Lithia.

I just write.

I realize I can't exactly go on a book tour or do a radio interview, and this may get in the way of the book's success.

But I think the tradeoffs are worth it.

And it was nice to see in this article that I'm far from alone in the pen name department.

Here are some other pen names you may recognize (and their real names):

  • Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens)
  • George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair)
  • Pablo Neruda (Neftali Ricardo Reyes Basoalto)
  • Lewis Caroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • George Sand (Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin)

Maybe someday I'll come clean. But given such good company, why the rush?

December 1, 2012

A second chance at a free copy of The Ghost Runner

I'm giving away another copy of The Ghost Runner on Goodreads.

Here's the link.

Just five days to go people.

And for those of you who purchased a copy so far -- thank you!

I'm hard at work on book three.

November 26, 2012

Read the first chapter of The Ghost Runner

The first chapter of The Ghost Runner has been posted at Bookingly Yours.

BEFORE YOU CLICK, be aware that you'll get a heavy dose of how Out of Breath ended.

So consider yourself warned!

November 19, 2012

Shameless Screen Grab

Actually, I'm not ashamed. This is my blog darnit and I'm excited. Here's the review.

November 12, 2012

Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall

“Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall.”
— William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

This is the quote I use to begin The Ghost Runner.

I saw Measure for Measure two years ago at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and I couldn't get that play out of my head.

Actually, I have trouble getting any Shakespeare play out of my head.

In each book, well, in each of my first two books, I focus on one Shakespeare play in particular.

In Out of Breath it was Hamlet. I saw a lot of Hamlet in my character Roman, and that's one reason I wanted to work this play into the book. So I had Roman actually play the role of Hamlet for his job at the theater, letting readers connect these two troubled souls. They're troubled for very different reasons, of course, but in my mind they were very similar.

And in The Ghost Runner, it's Kat herself who finds herself in a spot like Shakespeare's Isabella -- caught between her own beliefs and a family situation that may cause her to give up what she believes in the very most. Again, they're in totally different situations, but I definitely saw the parallels. This is probably why I can never get Shakespeare out of my head -- all his characters deal with the same things we still do every day: love, loyalty, family, duty, and on and on. I'm adding animal rights to the mix, but I think even Shakespeare might have touched on that. I discovered this quote, from Twelfth Night:

Sir Andrew: "I am a great eater of beef and I believe that does harm to my wit."
Sir Toby: "No question."

(William Shakespeare,Twelfth Night, Act I, Scene III)

Just one more reason to love Shakespeare.

Now, I have to decide which play to work into Book Three.

October 28, 2012

Vampire invasion of Ashland

The Ashland Daily Tidings gave a nice review of The Ghost Runner.

The reviewer wonders who Blair Richmond is:
I, of course, found myself looking for "mistakes" — signs that the author doesn't really know Ashland and might just be a visiting tourist. The trilogy is written under the pen name Blair Richmond, and the only clue its publisher — our very own Ashland Creek Press — will give about the identity of the author is that she (or he) lives in the Pacific Northwest.
I do live in the area and will in fact be in Ashland for the Halloween parade.

And of course, I'll be in costume.

October 25, 2012

Win a free copy of The Ghost Runner

If you're on Goodreads -- and if you're a reader you should be -- sign up to win a free copy of my new book.

Now, you've probably already purchased a copy for yourself (or so I hope), but this additional copy will make a nice gift.

Tell your friends, neighbors, people standing in line at the bank...

Here's the link.

October 7, 2012

Kirkus says the The Ghost Runner is "thoroughly entertaining"

Kirkus Reviews is one of those publications I had never heard of before I became a writer.

But it's an important publication, if you're a writer.

Librarians read it cover to cover, or so I'm told.

Just getting a book reviewed by Kirkus is an accomplishment.

So I'm a little giddy to see this review for The Ghost Runner.

Here's an excerpt:

"Vegan vampires, Shakespearean actors, food–co-op aficionados and serious runners face off against old-school bloodsuckers and rapacious, forest-devouring builders in this follow-up to Out of Breath (2011) set in—where else?—Lithia…Spunky Kat is good company; Alex and Roman are better defined this time around, but most vivid character honors go to the setting, whose tall evergreens and babbling brooks, shadowed by brooding mountains, enhance the sturdy plot. Thoroughly entertaining."
I particularly appreciate those last two words: Thoroughly entertaining.

And, like the movies do, I'm going to use these two words everywhere I go.

I'll get bumper stickers made. Posters. T-shirts.

Or, maybe I'll simply post a thoroughly self-absorbed blog post.


September 25, 2012

Ghost Runner excerpt on Scribd

Okay, so I know you can already download a PDF excerpt of The Ghost Runner over at the Ashland Creek Press site.

But if you don't like downloading things because you never know where they've been, you can now read an excerpt right on Scribd (or, better yet, right below). The Ghost Runner: Book Two in the Lithia Trilogy (excerpt)

September 17, 2012

A dog is a whale's best friend

I love this article in The New York Times about a dog who has been trained to detect whale scat from up to a mile away. And he does it all without getting seasick! Says the article:

And it is not easy. Scat can sink or disperse in 30 minutes or less. But it is crucial in monitoring the health of the whales here, an endangered group that is probably among the most studied animal populations in the world. Most of the 85 or so orcas, or killer whales, that frequent the San Juans, about two hours northwest of Seattle, have been genotyped and tracked for decades, down to their birth years and number of offspring.

So I did some web research (a.k.a. procrastinating) into the Center for Conservation Biology (up north in Seattle). They are devoted to recruiting dogs to help them help other animals.
Some of the most pressing conservation issues need to distinguish between multiple, concurrent pressures facing wildlife over a large geographic range. The Conservation Canines program addresses this need by combining the precision and efficiency of detection dogs to readily locate wildlife scat (feces) samples with the ability to extract a wide variety of genetic and physiological indicators from these samples. These indicators enable us to ascertain species abundance, distribution, resource use, and physiological health all in relation to the environmental pressure(s) the species is encountering.

An organization devoted to training (and rescuing) dogs for conservation purposes. That's right. These dogs are all rescue dogs. This is so amazing and I think it might find its way into book three.

September 7, 2012

Out of Breath is number one (sorta)

The essential challenge here is moving the book from the free column to the paid column.

I'll add that to my 'to do' list.

August 16, 2012

Free excerpt of The Ghost Runner

If you're curious about what happens after Out of Breath, I've got good news.

Sort of.

The good news is that you can download a free excerpt from book two in the series -- The Ghost Runner -- here.

The bad news is that you can't download anything else just yet.

The book doesn't go on sale until November.

I know. I know. I hate waiting too.

I mean, the book is done, right?

Yes, but the publisher likes to send out early review copies and I have to respect the process.

And I really should just focus on writing book three.

August 8, 2012

The Ghost Runner: Coming in November!

Last fall, there was Out of Breath.

I knew I wanted to write a book about a runaway who hides out in a small town, a magical town of many secrets, only to realize that she cannot outrun her past.

I wanted to write about a young woman who believes she can make a difference in the world. And  succeeds, in ways she doesn't expect.

And I wanted to write a book about love. About how love can turn a person -- even a vampire -- into something different, something better.

But I couldn't say everything I wanted to say in one book.

I think I'll need three.

So in November we'll see book two in the Lithia Trilogy: The Ghost Runner.

Ghost runner? You mean this book features ghosts in addition to vampires?

What can I say, Lithia is a town of many secrets.

And a few new characters.

I'll have much more to say in the weeks ahead. Stay tuned...

July 31, 2012

Out of Breath in Creations Magazine

I was so happy this morning to see a wonderful review of Out of Breath in Creations Magazine.

The reviewer, Erica Settino, writes:

Out Of Breath far surpasses the industry standard for young adult literature, and introduces an exciting and rare form of thought-provoking subject matter into mainstream storytelling. Blair Richmond fuses an undoubtedly honed craft with vivid description, emotional characterization and development, and the subtler, yet ever-present gift of metaphor. This is what brings her voice to life.

This review was first published in This Dish is Veg.


July 29, 2012

Writing about running

My main character Kat is a runner.

An amazing runner.

I'm an Oregonian and we love our runners. Like the great one, Prefontaine.

Many people have asked if I'm some Olympic athlete writing incognito.

I wish.

I'm a runner but not of Olympian standards. It's a hobby. A lifestyle. An excuse to procrastinate when I'm trying to write.

But for the purposes of this blog, let's assume that I am an Olympic athlete.

With great hair.

Long legs.

Arms that don't waddle.

The endurance of a gazelle.

….. or not. But that's the fun of writing fiction. In Out of Breath, I could envision being Kat, crossing the finish line of a nose-bleeding, foot freezing mountain race. It was fun to be a competitive runner for a while, even if it was only in character.

July 12, 2012

Lithia Park

Following closely on my last post -- where in the world is Lithia -- I seek to further confuse you by introducing you to Lithia Park.

And Lithia Park does actually exist.

It's a long and meandering park that closely follows a creek as it begins its long journey to the sea.

Lithia Park trail

Right about now, the park is thick with tourists so I avoid it. I like it best when it's just me and the water and the occasional deer.

July 5, 2012

Where in the world is Lithia?

Readers of Out of Breath have often emailed me wondering where in the world is the little bucolic town of Lithia, Oregon.

I'll save you some searching on Google Maps and tell you right now that Lithia doesn't exist.

At least not as Lithia.

But if you visit a little town named Ashland, down near the California border, I'm quite certain you'll see the resemblances.

Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is situated at the edge of the Klamath National Forest -- the perfect refuge for ghosts and vampires and lots of other creepy residents! And there are so many hiking trails up in those hills that I don't think I will ever see them all.

The lovely town of Ashland, Oregon

So if you want to see the town that inspired Lithia, drop by Ashland.

June 27, 2012

The Ghost Runner

The Ghost Runner, by Blair Richmond

I'm nearly finished with book two in the Lithia Trilogy: The Ghost Runner.

The book has taken longer than I planned, but then again, I never really thought I had a trilogy on my hands until I got to the end of Out of Breath.

I'm still not sure I can wrap up everything by book three, but I'm not going to think that far ahead.

Writing a book is a curious thing. It's just you and your characters and there's nobody else to bother you. It's not lonely and yet I'm very clearly alone. I wonder if this is how writers lose their minds -- spending their days talking aloud, speaking the lines that their characters say.

I love writing. I love these characters. And I'm excited to let go of this book once and for all just a few months from now.

June 25, 2012

Lonesome George

Such a sad name and sadder ending for the last remaining subspecies of giant turtle on the Galapagos island of Santa Cruz.

June 22, 2012

Check out the Ashland Book and Authors Festival

It's tomorrow. It's free. And it's in, where else, but Ashland.

Here's the website.

I'll be there checking out all the fine books and attending a few sessions.

I won't be speaking or anything since I like to remain, well, hidden.

But my publisher will have my book on sale.

June 19, 2012

Edward Cullen is no vegetarian

Ed's not hard on the eyes, but he ain't no vegetarian.

If there was one moment that inspired me to write Out of Breath it was reading how the Cullens from Twilight were "vegetarian" because they only sucked the blood of animals.

This is the vampire world according to Stephenie Meyer. It is an interesting world and it has served her quite well.

But it's not the world I live in.

So I decided to put my world down on paper. A world in which a vampire can be vegan -- as in truly vegan. Meaning no humans or animals are harmed.

It's possible.

That's the nice thing about books -- anything's possible. And I wanted to create a world where it's possible for vampires to change their diets the same ways that people do.

Change has to start somewhere -- why not in the imagination? If people can imagine vampires living without blood, maybe they can imagine living without meat themselves.

With all the world's focus on death these days, why not focus a little more on life?

June 18, 2012

Are the forests out of breath?

If, as scientists say, the forests are the lungs of the planet we should be greatly concerned by the following two articles.

The first is one of those scientific articles that tells us (those of us who are paying attention) that the forests are changing, and maybe not for the better.
Forests are widely known as repositories of carbon — about 104 billion tons of it worldwide — but the role they will play in a warming world is less understood, although crucial, as my colleague Justin Gillis reported in an extensive article last fall. If they become carbon emitters rather than carbon sinks as temperatures rise, projections of how fast climate change will occur may have to be adjusted.

Second, here's a first-person account in from a researcher studying the precipitous yellow-cedar tree decline in Alaska. She writes:
Forest diebacks related to climate change are occurring on all six plant-covered continents. What we see in southeastern Alaska is not an anomaly, but part of a global pattern that has been unfolding for several decades.
I'm no scientist. But I've seen the beetle-infested forests of the Sierras and I have seen the clear cutting of forests around these parts. We continue to take our forests for granted.

June 15, 2012

Who is Blair Richmond?

I suppose that since I started this whole blog thing that I should nip something right in the bud.

Blair Richmond is not my real name.

Why, you may ask, do I not just come clean? Face my readers?

Because I'm shy.

Because I live in a small town where everybody knows everybody.

Because I feel free to write when I don't have to worry about the people I know judging me by words on a page.

I like anonymity.

I like writing in the shadows.

I like the freedom of being someone else.

And perhaps this comes across in Kat, the hero of my books. She too is both running from herself and trying to find herself.

So back to my original question: Who is Blair Richmond?

Blair Richmond lives in a small town in southern Oregon.

Blair Richmond loves nature, loves animals, and believes that we should treat nature with respect and that we should definitely not eat animals.

Blair Richmond loves running through the woods, even if only for a few minutes at a time.

If you have any other question, try that little comment thingy below and I might answer it.

June 14, 2012

Out of Breath: Free today on the Kindle

My publisher told me my book is free today on the Kindle.

This sort of thing is supposed to push our sales rank up. Though it's not exactly the best way to make money. 

Here's the link.

If you don't have a Kindle you're rather out of luck. But for those fortunate few, go crazy.

June 13, 2012

Where do I begin?

Do I begin at that moment when I first had the idea for Out of Breath?

Do I begin when I finished Out of Breath and sent it off to my editor?

Or do I begin with my day right now as I am putting the finishing touches on The Ghost Runner, book two in the series?

Honestly, I should have begun this blog a few years ago.

My publisher would have been happier if I had.

But the past is past.

I have begun.

I have no idea where exactly.

But we're off.