Carv's Thinky Blog I'm an author with a focus on satirical science fiction.


Welcome, Creative Colloquy Crawlers!

The seven blog entries below this are all concerned with an audition I'm holding next week (I'm also a theatre director). Hence, I thought it might be a good idea if I popped in here long enough to say hi to folks I met at tonight's epic literary event in Tacoma. If you enjoyed my sci-fi story "Personal History," I encourage you to look for it in the upcoming print edition, Creative Colloquy Volume 2. I've heard it might even be illustrated. That's a first for me, so I'm really excited!

I encourage you to poke around my author site, especially the fiction tabs above. Of course I'd be remiss if I didn't mention you can buy either of my novels (or the short story collections in which my work has appeared) by browsing through the buttons in the right-hand sidebar. I had a wonderful time on the Crawl tonight, as I hope you did, too! Thanks again to Odd Otter Brewing Company for hosting the sci-fi hour, and to B Sharp Coffee House for hosting the after party and so many Creative Colloquy events over the last year and change. And of course my sincere appreciation goes out to Jackie Fender, Joshua Swainston, William Turbyfill, and everyone whose blood, sweat, and tears have gone into making Creative Colloquy a success.

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Wordstock Olympia 2015

Coming this Wednesday, July 29, at 7 p.m. in the Midnight Sun, we're delighted to invite you to Wordstock Olympia 2015! This is a one-night-only event at which four local authors will share the stage, with actors reading passages from their works. Even better, it's absolutely free.

You get:

Alec Clayton: When not skewering local talent with his art and theater reviews for The News Tribune and Weekly Volcano, Alec creates worlds upon worlds of fictional characters that live mostly in the small towns among the dense pine forests and swampy coastal bogs of South Mississippi where he grew up. He has published seven novels including the “Freedom Trilogy,” which includes the selection to be read by Christian Carvajal and Amanda Stevens.

Christian Carvajal: "Carv" writes all sorts of things under his own name and sexy stuff using the pen name Lynn Savage. He's the author of two satiric novels. One, an apocalyptic thriller called Lightfall, is available in hardback or ebook from Campanile Press. The second, Mr. Klein's Wild Ride, is a brand-new ebook from Amazon, Smashwords, and He's asked his friend, actor Deya Ozburn, to read a new story, "Retreat," set in the same world as Mr. Klein's Wild Ride.

Dianne Kozdrey Bunnell: It took Dianne ten years to write her novel The Protest, which was inspired by the real-life religious hijacking of her two daughters, ages ten and twelve. She believed that if her story saved other families from such calamity, then some good could come from the firebombing by the blood of the Lamb her girls endured. Today, she is happily reunited with her daughters. The Protest, a passage from which will be ready by Dianne herself, was chosen as “Reviewer’s Choice” by Midwest Review of Books. One reader claims she figured out how to read the book while blow-drying her hair.

Ned Hayes: Ned gets to talk a lot in his day job for Intel and as a published critic, professor, and theater he got picked by his fellow introverted writers to be MC for this event. Accolades for the MC are welcome, rotten tomatoes not so much. His new book, The Eagle Tree, is the tale of an autistic young man on a desperate environmental crusade. He's the author of the bestselling historical novel Sinful Folk, which was nominated for the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, and a crime novel called Coeur d'Alene Waters. Actors Jackson Jones and Amanda Stevens will read a passage from The Eagle Tree.

This event will be hosted by Theater Artists Olympia, stewards of the Midnight Sun Performance Space at 113 N. Columbia. Concessions will be available for a small charge, and reservations may be made at the event for TAO's next offering, Improbable Peck of Plays 4. Improbable Peck also celebrates local writers by staging (often debut) productions of their short (less than 15-minute) plays. Carv's "An Imperfect Galatea" was performed in Episode 3. This year, he's appearing as an actor in three short plays, one of which you might just see a glimpse of on Wednesday.

Of course the authors will have copies of their works available for purchase and signing, but again, the event itself is absolutely free. Seating is limited, so don't arrive late and miss your chance! We look forward to entertaining you, and in the meantime, happy reading!


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An Author Reading: “Six”

I was one of several local literary folks who were invited to read at King's Books in Tacoma a few weekends ago. We were asked to recommend books by other writers, too, so I was happy to promote Alec Clayton's series of small-town Southern dramedies along with Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union and Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings.

Then, as time was short and many of those in attendance had already read Lightfall, I decided to read a shorter, self-contained story, "Six." You can find it among the "Older Fiction" on this site. My wife recorded the reading, then uploaded it to her YouTube channel. I embed it here with an apology: because I hadn't brought this particular story with me, I pulled it up and read it in my phone's Web browser instead. It's an amateur move and I admit that with shame. Also, nothing classier than reading next to a public bathroom!

Anyway, here's "Six." I hope it'll remind you to check out my new audio version of Lightfall, available a mere click away on the right-hand side of this page. Happy listening!

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Campanile Comes Through Again

Hi, all, just a quick note to let you know that my new (and fast-acting) publisher, Campanile Press, just published a version of Lightfall for Kindle. The Amazon link appears here and on the right side of this page. It's a great time to download my novel and give it a shot, partly because it's cheap (only $2.99!) and partly as it gives you an opportunity to win a hot new Amazon Kindle Voyage e-reader. Look two posts down for more details.

Also, if you happen to live near the South Sound, B sure to meet me and lots of other local writers at the B Sharp Coffee House, this Monday the 24th, in Tacoma's Opera Alley. I'll be reading a brand-new SF short story and helping my friends debut their anthology, Creative Colloquy Volume One, in which my well-received horror story "Silver" appears. If you live elsewhere or simply can't wait, remember, my friend Kevin Wright also edited his own horror anthology e-book, Disquiet, now available for Kindle download at this link right here. That collection includes "Silver" as well. Happy reading!

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Do You Wanta Win a Kindle?

Y'know what's super awesome? The new Amazon Kindle Voyage e-reader, and no, I'm not just saying that because Christmas is coming and I don't have one. The Voyage really is an amazing piece of hardware. With a 300-ppi e-paper display and adaptive front light, enhanced dictionary and Wikipedia look-ups, full Wi-Fi, and a six-week battery life (!), this thing gives paper books a run for their money. It also costs $219, which is more than I spent for my Nook. Wouldn't you rather just win a Kindle Voyage for free? Of course you would! And really, all you have to do is review Lightfall (or my buddy Ned Hayes's Sinful Folk, which also deserves some love). That's it! Then you're entered in the contest, and hopefully the Amazon gods will smile down on you. If by some bizarre chance you have not read Lightfall, why, just look to the right side of this page and you'll see all kinds of wonderful options, including a brand-new audiobook version that will probably cost you nothing at all.

To write a review and enter the contest, click here.

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Oh, it's a happy layout accident, I'm sure, but made my heart skip a beat all the same. The actual good news is that it no longer says "Only 1 copy remaining," which means my Campanile publishers are on the job. Get your copy today! It's only a click away...

Lightfall's Amazon page, 10 November 2014

Lightfall's Amazon page, 10 November 2014

(P.S.: The Amazon editors realized their mistake a few hours later, replacing the circled text with "See the Best Books of 2014." Biiiiiiig difference!)

You could also check out the brand-new audiobook edition. It's the raddest! Click any of the sales links to your right. Much obliged!

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Behold: the Resurrection


I've been busy this summer, and finally, I get say how.

On first publication in November of 2009, my "satirical, secular" novel Lightfall enjoyed a brief flurry of popularity and reached the (admittedly minor) summit of local sales charts. We were all very excited about that. Unfortunately, fall 2009 was also the beginning of the Great Recession, which didn't help anyone. Original publisher Fear Nought was unable to secure a much-needed loan when its primary business, commercial web design, went south. Consequently, though its books were beautiful products that sold well in the South Sound, there was no money to put up a national ad campaign or attract major distribution channels. Fear Nought shut its doors by April Fools' Day 2010. And that, or so we thought, was the end of Lightfall.

Almost five years later, I set up a meeting with Fear Nought's owners to discuss my book's future. I still like the book, and it irked me that I'd spent numerous weekends recording an audio version only to have it tied up in contract disagreements. Luckily for me, the owners were in a mood to sell, having paid five years' rent to keep thousands of copies in storage. We cut a fair deal, and I walked away with all rights to Lightfall and its cover art, full ownership of its web presence, and, much to my surprise, a portable disc drive containing what I thought were completed audiobook files.

I rolled the dice and attempted to submit the audiobook to ACX after listening to just a few minutes. That was stupid, I realize now. The files weren't in great condition, with editing artifacts at either end of each disc and a lot of unnecessary recording noise throughout. ACX rightly rejected the submission. I spent the next week re-editing each disc. This accomplished two things. First, it yielded a much-higher-quality product than what you would've received had the initial submission gone through. Second, it gave me a chance to listen to the files for the first time since I read them in producer Andy Kahn's in-home studio. I heard myself performing every character voice, even the female characters, and felt chills down my spine. I'll be damned, I thought. This is really good. I love audiobooks, and this is one of my favorites. I grew excited at the opportunity to share my work, both as a writer and reader/actor, after what feels like an eternity away from Sugar Roses, Oklahoma.

As some of you know, I've been acting since I was seven years old. Well, that means I've been doing this for close to three decades. Uh, four. Sorry. I meant four. And since Lightfall hit shelves, I've taught myself audiobook production as a reader for ACX. That experience paid off fully in this project. Once the new files were accepted by ACX, the audio edition of Lightfall was prepped for sale on Audible, Amazon, and other national vendors. In some ways, this is the national debut of Lightfall, and it's about damn time.

Meanwhile, a friend and fellow author, Ned Hayes, was kind enough to instigate a dialogue between his publisher, Campanile Books, and me. I loved what Campanile did with Ned's excellent medieval mystery Sinful Folk, so I was thrilled when the company expressed interest in overseeing distribution of Lightfall. Within a few weeks, that note on Amazon that claims "Only 1 left in stock" will be history. So look: I know a lot of you have already bought and, one hopes, read Lightfall in hardcover. I appreciate that, perhaps more than you realize. I was devastated when the Fear Nought arrangement fell apart, having labored for decades to secure a real publisher. The only thing that cheered me about the debacle was hearing someone say, "Hey, I read your book!" or seeing it on his or her household bookshelf. But let's be real, we were all broke in fall of 2009, so it's possible you had to let this one slide. In the meantime, my work in The Weekly Volcano and on has attracted new readers, who may never have had the chance to read my novel. Well, now you have that chance. And if, over the years, you've enjoyed any of my acting projects, then I hope you'll understand what I bring to the table when performing work as personal as my own debut novel.

Since you may not have experienced Lightfall in the past, I suppose I should tell you about it briefly now. It's set in a town of my own invention, Sugar Roses, in the Garvin County, Oklahoma buckle of the American Bible Belt. When the town is beset by a series of eerie phenomena including shared audio hallucinations and roadkill come back to life, its residents automatically assume the Baptist Rapture is at hand. It was among my goals for the book to paint a broad picture of the town, with the first-person perspective shifting frequently from a cynical college professor to a mentally challenged man to an underemployed Latina to a little girl to a young woman dealing with an unplanned pregnancy and so on. As in the movies Amores Perrors and Crash, these disparate stories converge at a fateful confrontation just outside Sugar Roses General Hospital...with only minutes to go before what I call the Lightfall. Is it the Rapture? Is it a mass hallucination? Or is it...well, I guess you'll just have to read (or listen to) the book in order to find out. Plus, and I don't think I'm giving myself too much credit here, it's both inspiring and laugh-out-loud funny. In fact it's funny deliberately, which is more than you can say about the Left Behind books or movies.

So here's how you can get it: on the right side of this page are a number of links. They point to the hardcover edition (now backed by Campanile), several ebook editions, and the audio version on Audible. ACX and Audible set the price, but please note that Audible offers the book FREE if you set up a new account. Trust me, this thing cost me more money than I'll ever see from it; I'm just happy to get it out there. I'm calling Halloween the official release date, but you can order as soon as this goes online. This is a big day for me.

Other big days are coming. If you'd like a taste of my acting ability before ordering Lightfall, check me out October 24 and 25 at Lakewood Playhouse in Lakewood, Washington. That company produces a live presentation of radio drama each October, and this year it's an episode of Lights Out (a 1950s sci-fi radio series) followed by a new adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hey, guess who's playing the dual title role?

As for my fiction writing, I wrote my first horror story, "Silver," after a vacation in Paris (a breathtaking city I found anything but horrifying). That story has proven enormously popular; so much so, in fact, that it'll appear in two anthologies rolling out over the next few weeks. It's in Creative Colloquy's first print edition (check their website for updates) and a horror anthology, Disquiet (produced by Kevin Wright). Watch for a link to the former as it becomes available.

So this, once again, is our apocalypse. It really is ours, Gentle Reader, after all you and I have been through together. Spread the word. Tell your friends about the book and this author site. (Now with a free crossword puzzle!) Happy reading...or listening!

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It’s Not the End of the World

I have mixed feelings about this, and maybe I ought to keep it to myself, but I can't anymore. I've tried to keep a secret for months, and those of you who know me in person know how lousy I am at keeping my own secrets. The truth is this: Back on April 25, about a month after I returned from the Oklahoma tour, I got an email from a fellow Fear Nought writer who said the office was closed. Did any of us authors know why? I was pretty sure I did. My publisher opened as a web design business, and that business was suffering from the economic slump. As for the publishing wing, my fellow authors and I were selling fine locally, but that's not saying a whole lot. We'd only recently picked up a distributor, and without liquid capital to invest in promotion to book sellers and readers, our titles were dying on the vine. I'm choosing my words carefully here, because I don't want to point fingers in public. I definitely don't want you, Gentle Reader, to get the idea I'm dismissive of your support. Lightfall has received glowing reviews from readers and not a single negative review. That's something I'm deeply proud of. I knew the book was controversial, and I wondered how Oklahoma Christians would receive it. So far, it's all been thumbs up.

Trouble is, unless readers know where to look, they won't find a copy of Lightfall most places outside Puget Sound or southeast Oklahoma. It's still available on Amazon, and as far as I know, the "buy buttons" to the right of this blog work. The publisher is still selling books, though the office and web design wing have shut down and two of the three partners moved out of state. So yeah, I won't make you read between the lines: They're all but out of business. I found out secondhand. Sales have dipped to a handful of copies per month. I'm pretty sure the Lightfall roller coaster has come to an end, barring a miracle; and as for the hoped-for financial windfall, well, putting this mildly, it never came to pass.

Meanwhile, practical necessities in the Olympic College math/science division eliminated my teaching job, though I still write for the Weekly Volcano. My car was totaled in a wreck a couple of months ago, so I've been obliged to spring for a new vehicle just as my credit card interest rate leaps and my income dwindles. It's been a rough couple of months. But I'm focusing on the positive: I'm happily in love with Amanda, my résumé looks fantastic, and people are reading and enjoying my book. I have more friends than I know what to do with, and my family is well. Given my spinal syndrome (long story for those who don't know it), I'm in much better health than doctors predicted I'd be in at age 42. Say what you will, I'm a published author. Am I proud of that? Yes. Do I deserve to be? Hell, yes.

Please keep recommending Lightfall if you're inclined to do so, and I'd be delighted to correspond with future readers. If you're in a book club, I'll even conference-call the group. I'm easy that way. But as for the busy schedule of signings and book promotions, I'm pretty sure it's done...done...on to the next one? Ay, there's the rub.

See, I've had this book idea cooking in my skull for two years. I knew I wanted to write about religion, sex, and politics, the three taboo subjects in American conversation. I knew what "the sex book" would look like. I drew maps of the setting. I compiled notes about the characters. I even had a killer title. I wrote one short chapter...and stopped. I was waiting to see what would happen with the publisher. Contractually, they get first look at any future novels I write. The contract's kind of a joke at this point, frankly, but I still feel a certain loyalty. So why write something they couldn't sell?

Well, y'know what? That has nothing to do with it. Why'd I write a novel (then called Salvation) about the end of the world in small-town Oklahoma? I wrote it because I was the only guy who could. Not that other folks can't write, of course, but I was the only guy I knew who could and would write that particular story that particular way. My voice and worldview are all over Lightfall. And while there are millions of sexy novels, and thousands of novels about sexuality, there's only one novel I want to write about it. Maybe only my closest friends will ever read it. There are zero guarantees at this point. I may never get paid for any of this. But I'm not going to feel free of this story until I get it on paper. It's as simple as that.

I wrote Chapter 2 this week, and I'm well into Chapter 3. Turns out unemployment has its advantages. Self-esteem may not be one of them. Free time is.

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The End of the World Comes to Port Orchard

In case you missed the item on my Twitter feed below right, I'll be in Port Orchard, WA this weekend to sign copies of and probably read from my debut novel Lightfall. I'm appearing with local authors Anjali Banerjee, Jamie Greening, Mike Lawson, Trudi Peek, and Alan Searle at Bethel Avenue Books, 1:00 p.m. on Saturday the fourth. The address is 1037 Bethel Avenue in the High Point Shopping Center. I've been there before as a patron--it's a great little indie bookstore, well worth the short drive from Bremerton, Shelton or Tacoma. And if that's not enough to lure you out, free apocalypse rations will be served.

I'm moving from Bremerton to Olympia later this month, largely because Olympic College's math department shifted most of its adjunct-taught classes to regular faculty. This may be my last chance to sign books for OC students and other teachers, so come on out! (Sorry, students, it won't make any difference in your grade. But if you pass my class, I will add you on Facebook! That's got to be worth something, right?)

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