Sands of Sorrow to debut at Rocket City Lit Fest This Weekend!

The Cycle of Ages Saga is returning to Huntsville, Alabama, this weekend for the first annual Rocket City Lit Fest at Von Braun Civic Center. Jeremy Hicks will be there to debut Sands of Sorrow, the highly anticipated sequel to Finders Keepers. Come out Saturday or Sunday if you’d like a signed copy of either novel. Paperbacks will be 2 for $20 all weekend, so you’ll be able to buy both novels at a steep discount. There will be some promotional items available on a first-come-first-serve basis. Plus, 100 other authors, artists, vendors, and others will have booths and tables filling the convention hall. Panels will be held. Select readings will be, well, read. Hopefully, read well as well. 😉 And you can be a part of it all.

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For more details on Rocket City Lit Fest, click HERE.

Rocket City NerdCon Rocked It!

Not all first year fandom conventions can be great. In fact, as they are logistical and scheduling nightmares, few are. And fewer still survive to enjoy a second year to get it right. I am proud to say that Huntsville, Alabama’s Rocket City NerdCon is one of the few. I sincerely hope that it will not only continue but thrive with each passing year.

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Who am I to make this proclamation? Well, I had the privilege of appearing as an author guest at RCNC this past weekend. And I am happy to report that it not only met but exceeded my expectations, which were quite high after hearing that it would be located at the main branch of the Huntsville-Madison County Public Library, a spacious facility run by a dedicated staff.

Knowing that I had to be a part of convention history in the making, I stocked up on muscle relaxers and ibuprofen, strapped on my portable E-stem device, and rocketed toward the Rocket City. Greeted by the courteous, helpful convention staff, a combination of library workers and volunteers, I received mechanical assistance to help me load-in my books and materials to my table on the second floor, which kept me from having to take a half dozen trips to the car.

As I set up my displays and promotional materials, I surveyed the aisles of books around me. I felt humbled and thankful to be present among volumes produced by masters of my chosen craft. Whether it involved escaping into a fantastical world crafted by writers of fiction or pouring through dusty reference materials for research purposes, libraries have always felt like home to me. And as an adolescent harboring dreams of becoming either a professional writer or Indiana Jones, I had been to this one before. Returning to it for Rocket City Nerdcon as a published author and seasoned field archaeologist felt like Odysseus returning home, without all of the nasty business of a bunch of guys hitting on my significant other.

Like home, familiar faces welcomed me, familiar odors greeted me, and even a familiar band played in the background while I tried to convince people passing by to read The Cycle of Ages Saga and other unforgettable products from Dark Oak Press. On display before a sea of strangers, I experienced a level of comfort that I am unaccustomed to most places in the Deep South, even in my favorite haunts like libraries, museums, and deep woodland archaeological sites. After months of near isolation, depression, and creative blockages, the result of pain and suffering from an injury on one of those remote excavations, I feel restored by these familiar, even familial energies summoned forth by the powers responsible for this amazing first year convention.

For that, I am thankful to all of those involved in its planning, preparation, and execution. From chairs that provided adequate lumbar support for my herniated discs to a top notch convention staff, I cannot say enough good things about Rocket City NerdCon and hope that this is just the start of another fine tradition for the city of Huntsville. And a recurrent second home for wayward writers like me.

In addition, I would like to thank the fans and those who chose to take a chance on the weird, wild stories written by those published by Dark Oak. And I would like to thank my good friend Donovan DeArment and his family for sheltering me at their home and helping me with my table over the course of the weekend. Know that all of you are associated in my heart and mind with such a happy moment that the very thought of it will propel me higher than Peter Pan himself.

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: The Vivacious Violette Rose

In the third part of my ongoing series of interviews with the members of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque, I am sitting down with the creative director of the company, the vivacious Violette Rose, a steel-eyed, socially conscious doll with big dreams for both burlesque and humanity.

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Let’s jump right in here, if you don’t mind. What does your role as creative director entail?

I help with set lists, picking songs, costumes, and anything else Kaitie needs me to do.

Why did you choose to be known as Violette Rose? What does it mean to you?

Violette because my fave color is purple…Rose as a nod to both Gypsy Rose Lee (my burlesque inspiration) and Rose Tyler from Doctor Who.

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How did you come to be part of Cherry Sparkle?

A couple month after I moved back from Atlanta, I was browsing through the Craigslist ads for performing and whatnot and came across the ad for auditions. I auditioned in early September and have been a part of the company ever since. But Burlesque is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 12…I know that seems young to know something like that, but I saw the Bette Midler version of Gypsy and I fell in love with the art.

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Had you performed as a burlesque dancer before you joined the company?

Nope. It took 20 years to make that dream happen. On a side note…I wanted to be Mary Poppins ever since I was 5 or so. So, I’ve been able to live that dream through living my burlesque dream…I found it amusing.

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Did you have a prior background in dancing, theater, or performance art?

Oh yeah, I went to arts magnet schools K-9th grade. I’ve pretty much always been on stage. I just had a longish break until recently. I can’t tell you how happy I am to be back on stage.

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We’re very happy that you’re back on stage too. I am sorry to have missed your performance as Mary Poppins though.

What is your favorite part of performing? Other than leaving certain writers stunned and speechless afterward.

So many things…I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one…let me try to hit the main highlights for me.
I love the creative expression I’m allowed and the connection to the audience. BUT I also love having the opportunity to celebrate the beauty of women of all shapes and sizes and promoting the idea that it’s not ok to tell women what’s wrong with their bodies.

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Here’s an example of what I mean: “So, I wanted to share my most favorite moment in burlesque for me so far. Last Saturday, I did a skit with Farmer John, wherein he’s trying to tell me I need to modify my body. After which, I tell him ‘I like my body just the way it is.’ At that point I’m supposed to turn to the audience and ask, ‘What do you think?’ Our amazing audience didn’t even give me a chance to ask before they went wild. I love you all so much for that! I know it seems like as performers that we’re super confident, but we are still people and we still need that sort of love, support, and acceptance. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart! You all rock!”

We’ve explored the highs of performing. What about the lows? What are the least desirable parts of a performance for you?

The driving and how late we perform…there have been times I haven’t made it home ‘til 4:30am. It’s a 2.5 hour drive to Anniston for me.

Well, I, for one, would be happy to check out the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Morning Show.

How about early evening? It takes a lot of time to get ready.

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I’ve been to one of the photo shoots. I was amazed by all of the prep work involved. But I was blown away by the results.

It’s totally worth it.

Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated.

I really enjoy getting ready…especially when we’re all together, goofing off, before the show. There’s a shared excitement that I really enjoy.

You are quite an entertaining group to hang out with before a show or shoot. Don’t think I stopped laughing most of the evening.

That’s why I love CSBC so much.

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Have you turned your love of performance art and dancing toward any other creative or competitive endeavors?

Well, I model for fun and was doing that for a few years before joining the company. I will be competing in the Miss Partner’s Pride Pageant on the 16th of this month at Partner’s Bar and Grill in Huntsville. It will be my first pageant ever.

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Best of luck with the pageant. I’ll assume from your entry in a Pride pageant that you are active in the LGBT community. Are you involved in any other activities to promote Pride or other equality/civil rights-based movements?

I will be singing at Pride with a chorus mixture of the Unitarian Universalist Church Choir and The Huntsville Feminist Chorus. But daily I try to raise awareness of minority struggles, needs, and victories. I try to not just focus on what’s wrong, but celebrate what’s going right, too. I’m all about equal rights for everyone, women, LGBTQ, minority races and ethnicities, the lower class, everyone. I try to just live it. I recognize that all of these causes are intertwined and really can’t be separated. For example, Partners is currently the only gay bar in Huntsville, so I do my best to bring them as much business as possible and contribute to their events as much as I can. It’s also an AWESOME bar!

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As someone who believes in equality for all peoples as well, I applaud your efforts to raise awareness about these issues. I think we all have to do our part to help make this a shinier, happier world for everyone.

So, when will we see you on stage again with Cherry Sparkle Burlesque?

That would be this Saturday at Twisted in Gadsden. I’ll be breaking out my uber-classic burlesque numbers.

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Can’t wait to check them out, Violette Rose. Thanks for agreeing to this interview. I hope that we’ve titillated the readers enough to entice them to come to the show this weekend.

Thank you so much for the opportunity. I’ve really enjoyed it.

As the Spanish say: el gusto es mio, the pleasure is all mine.

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To find out more about Violette Rose, like her page on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/violetteroseburlesque

To find out more about Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check them out on Facebook @ https://www.facebook.com/thecherrysparkleburlesquecompany

To view one of Violette Rose’s performances, check out the Cherry Sparkle channel on YouTube. Here is a video of her performing as Mary Poppins at Partner’s in Huntsville:

Thanks again to all of the guys and dolls of Cherry Sparkle Burlesque as well as the photographers, makeup artists, designers, stage hands, and others who make all of this magic happen. Without your contributions, none of this would be possible.