Archive for the ‘Rocktober’ Category


You all know we love Jessica Topper over here. So of course we’re thrilled to host her today to add to our series of how our fictional rockers got their names.

Jess… take it away!

Rocktober – Name That Rocker!
Jessica Topper

I’ve got a dirty little secret to admit. I cannot name all the U.S. Presidents. Nope. Not in order, not in this lifetime. My brain just can’t seem to retain such information. But give me a rock band and I will name not only its entire current lineup, but also past members, nicknames – hell, maybe even their pets’ names. Talk about a trivial pursuit! Heaven help me if I ever end up on Jeopardy. They’d better have a “Rock Star Etymology” category, or I’m in big trouble.

Now that I write rock fiction, you can only imagine the field day I have with creating fake bands and their infamous members. It’s like being able to take that useless fountain of knowledge and create my own spectacular demented light and water show.

I love to play with words and I love double meanings, so it was no surprise my very first rocker character in Louder Than Love ended up with the name of Douglas Graves. Innocent and ordinary enough…until you start to think about it. He wisely chooses to use his middle name, Adrian, and explains his dilemma to Kat, the heroine in the story:

“You can imagine the delight the lads had in taking the piss out of me in school, with a name like Doug Graves.” He continued, smirking. “Go ahead, you can laugh.”

I shook my head and declined in polite protest, but couldn’t help myself when he admitted he had married a girl named Robyn. “Ah yes, Robyn Graves. It’s true, I’m afraid.” He laughed along with me. “Half the reason she probably divorced me, in the end.”

Adrian – also known as Digger – Graves is the illustrious lead guitarist for the defunct doom metal band, Corroded Corpse. (Hell, I know I will never have the talent or the cojones to be in my own metal band, but dammit, I’m going to have fun creating ludicrous names to rival some of the most popular groups to spring from the 80s heavy metal insurgence.)

At the helm of Corroded Corpse is front man Riff Rotten, who we meet briefly in Louder Than Love, but who grows to larger-than-life, rock star proportions in my latest novel, Softer Than Steel. Born Richard Rottenberg into a wealthy, educated Jewish family, he was re-born as Riff as soon as he learned to shred on the guitar – much to his family’s dismay. In Riff’s case, I was able to put my real rock name knowledge to use, in Adrian’s explanation of how the band’s manager came up a new last name for his up-and-coming client:

“It was Wren who suggested Rick shorten his somewhat ‘ethnic’ surname to Rotten. When we moaned that it sounded like a blatant rip-off of the Sex Pistols’ Johnny Rotten, Wren pointed out, ‘Do you really think Chaim Witz would have gotten very far leading KISS?’

In their heyday, Digger Graves and Riff Rotten were like the Lennon/McCartney of the metal world, riding the wave of 80s British Heavy Metal like conquering heroes. But due to gross mismanagement and trademark issues, the band is no longer able to use its name when they finally (spoiler alert!) reunite by the end of Louder Than Love. So they begin to play stealth shows under a new moniker, The Rotten Graves Project. It makes total sense, as where else would you find a corroded corpse? In a rotten grave, of course.

Let the band play on!
Happy Rocktober!

I have to confess that I like Rotten Graves Project better than Corroded Corpse… as Jessica says, it’s awfully similar to that early-90s thrash band, Cannibal Corpse, and man, does that interfere with one’s reading!

Here’s Jessica’s website. As always, pick up her books. Read them. Leave reviews and tell your friends. They’re good things, so don’t miss out!

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Because I do it every year… I’ve put the digital version of a few of the books in the Trevolution on sale during Rocktober. Only Trevor’s Song and The Demo Tapes: Year 1, though. (If you’d like a review copy of any of the others, holler and I’ll fix you up. But please… post a review! That’s the purpose of the review copy. See how that works?)

I figured those are my two best-sellers, so let’s bring some new friends in.

Here are the links that generate the best sales, but use your favorite retailer. Independents rule!
Trade Cover Front_fonts_1_v5c copy


And, as always, if you Amazon shoppers could take a minute and report Mannequin as free everywhere BUT Amazon, I’d appreciate it.

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It’s October 1. You know what that means… it’s Rocktober! Every day this month, we’ve got some Rock Fiction goodies to bring to you all — but remember, at The Rock of Pages, every day is Rocktober. This is just the month when we crank it up to 12.

You’ll find guest blog posts, a couple of reviews, some book features, and way too many Rock Fiction Coveting posts. Know what my dream is? To have an entire month of Guest Blog posts and book features. So spread the word.

It’s not to late to join in, either! Got a review you want to reblog? Something about Rock Fiction you want to give voice to? How much you love the category, why reading about rock stars and the people who orbit them is your method of survival in a shifting world? Go for it. We’ve got room; those Rock Fiction Coveting posts of Jett’s can wait to piss an author off another day.

So sit back and have some fun. Find a new book or author (or 31) to read. Bring your friends over. Tell your enemies, too, because it’s been my experience that enemies usually have more common ground than they realize.

This month’s all about the Rock Fiction. Celebrate it with us.



Usually, with Rock Fiction, there’s only one character around who’s the musician. That’s kinda been the norm, unless you have members of the same band all running around. But they’re usually not the focus of the story, the romantic lead and all. Usually.

That’s the first thing about Colleen Hoover’s Maybe Someday that caught my eye. The second thing is the title. It’s not a title that screams Rock Fiction.

From the description, this sounds less like a romance, too, although there’s definitely romance involved. But it sounds like this woman’s catalyst is music. As it should be.

At twenty-two years old, aspiring musician Sydney Blake has a great life: She’s in college, working a steady job, in love with her wonderful boyfriend, Hunter, and rooming with her good friend, Tori. But everything changes when she discovers Hunter cheating on her with Tori—and she is left trying to decide what to do next.

Sydney becomes captivated by her mysterious neighbor, Ridge Lawson. She can’t take her eyes off him or stop listening to the daily guitar playing he does out on his balcony. She can feel the harmony and vibrations in his music. And there’s something about Sydney that Ridge can’t ignore, either: He seems to have finally found his muse. When their inevitable encounter happens, they soon find themselves needing each other in more ways than one…

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Colleen Hoover, a passionate tale of friendship, betrayal, and romance—and the enchanting music that inspires one young woman to put her life back together.

Okay, so the boyfriend cheating with the best friend/roommate is a bit more familiar. I suppose they all can’t be totally original and different.

This isn’t one I gotta say, “Only one way to find out if the author handles it well.” This is an out-and-out “I gotta read this. Now.”


Susan reached out to author Charity Parkerson and asked if she’d drop in this month to write a guest blog post in support of her novel, Sated.

So… she did. Everyone, welcome Charity to The Rock of Pages!

Every book I’ve written has its own play list. Since rock is my favorite, you could say each of my books has been influenced by it in some way. But when Arbor walked inside Club Exile, I didn’t realize she was about to fall in love with a rock star. I knew the basics of the story, and that it would be darker than my usual work. I had a general idea of where it was going, but I had no clue how Arbor’s life would change that night.

When Killian saw Arbor for the first time, I knew he would love her. What I didn’t know was how that love would break her, and it wasn’t until he walked on stage I understood exactly where Sated would go.

There was a part of me that wanted to capture the exhilaration of what it must feel like to be only woman holding the attention of two famous men. The harder I tried, the darker the story became. I followed Arbor into this place where nothing felt real any longer, all while wondering if I could pull this story off.

Sated is different from anything I’ve written in the past. It’s twisted, but I hope the two sexy musicians make up for that. Here’s a glimpse inside:

Sated: A Dark Romance
** By reading past this point you’re acknowledging that you are over the age of 18. Copyright © 2014 Charity Parkerson
All rights reserved. Sated is part of Punk & Sissy Publication’s line of Dark Romance ™ **

“Can I buy you a drink?”

“No, thank you.”

Killian was fascinated by the scene playing out across the bar. He’d had one eye glued on the tiny blonde since she walked through the door. If there was one detail he could point to in order to explain his captivation, it was that she didn’t fit in. Thank God. Her innocence was almost tangible when set next to the other occupants of the hardcore gothic club.

“How about I just sit with you, then?”

“No, thank you.”

Killian leaned forward in his seat, even going as far as to set his elbow on the bar and cup his chin—openly staring. Not only was she not giving the guy the time of day, she hadn’t as much as glanced in his direction to see if she might be interested. On the other hand, the dude couldn’t seem to look away from her. That made two of them. Killian was engrossed.

“Are you sure? You’re going to need someone to walk you out. This is kind of a rough joint.” It was. Killian would know.

“I’m sure. Have a nice night.”

He really wanted her to look. The guy was hot, possibly the best of the lot. She had at least three women staring at her with open malice simply because the guy was talking to her. Showing a determination that impressed Killian, the dude braced one hand on the wooden surface beside him and one on the back of her chair, boxing the woman in. The invasion of her personal space forced her to acknowledge his presence. As if it were possible, Killian stared even harder. He was almost afraid to blink in case he missed her reaction to seeing who she’d been ignoring. She turned her head, meeting the man’s gaze. Not a single ounce of emotion marred her features as she eyed the guy’s blond hair, dark eyes, and muscles flexing on her behalf. The dude smiled. It was slow and obviously practiced. A dimple appeared at the corner of his mouth and straight white teeth gleamed even in the darkly lit club.

“I’m married.”

Killian chuckled. “Liar.”

She turned in his direction, meeting his gaze as if she’d heard him. Light-green eyes flashed wickedly. Her mouth turned up in one corner, as if competing with her gaze for top mischief-maker. Goddamn. No wonder the dude wouldn’t leave her be.

“So what?” The boy-toy’s response pulled her focus back his way. Killian caught himself lifting up in his chair as if he meant to physically reclaim her attention.

“There are two women sitting behind me who’d love what you’re offering. Enough to share,” she tacked on in an obvious attempt to sweeten the deal. Killian glanced behind her. Yep. There were. The dude didn’t look, but he did straighten away.

“They’re a sad substitute for you.”

A hint of a smile touched her lips. “But a substitute nonetheless. Have fun.” If she’d meant her dismissal to lure the man in further, making him want her more, then she’d succeeded. It was written all over the guy’s face. However, he did give in.

“If you change your mind…”

“I know where you’ll be.” She didn’t bother softening the blow with another smile. Killian was on his feet, pushing his way through the crowd and intent on reaching her before the dust settled in Mr. Studly’s tracks. He saw her chin tilt in the direction of where he’d been sitting, but he couldn’t see her face. He almost changed his mind. In the end, his greed won out, as always.

Killian didn’t give her time to deny him the way she had the other guy. Instead, he braced his hands against the edge of the bar on either side of her, caging her in. With her pinned in place, he nodded at the bartender to bring her another drink. She didn’t tense or turn her head as he crowded her body, inhaling her sweet scent and speaking against her ear.

“You should’ve taken his offer. It wasn’t a bad deal.”

“Losing her mind wasn’t an experience she enjoyed.”

After a steamy night of passion with a dark stranger, Arbor’s life takes on a surreal edge. Disturbing dreams, lapses in memory, and entire buildings going missing are only a few of her problems. Her search for answers leads her to Detective Trey Murphy, the man in charge of investigating satanic and ritualistic crime for the New Orleans area.

Where do you turn when your mind is the enemy?

Meeting Trey only adds to Arbor’s confusion. By day, he keeps her captivated and gains her trust in a way no one else ever has. At night, Arbor’s every fantasy is brought to life by two sexy men who steal away her inhibitions. Torn between what her heart knows is real and what her eyes show her, Arbor must find the truth before she loses herself completely.

But, then again, sometimes reality is more twisted than any dream and love is the cruelest form of insanity.

**Author Note**
Warning: This isn’t your typical love story. It’s dark with scenes some may find disturbing. Sometimes love is senseless, and the heart is so very stupid.


Author Bio:
Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Indie Publishing House LLC, and Punk & Sissy Publications. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

*Winner of 2, 2014 Readers’ Favorite Awards
*2013 Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
*2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner
*2012 ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath


Remember about two weeks back, when Kevin Doyle stopped in to talk about how his short story (which we loved around here. I finally convinced Susan to share her review copy and man, she’s right about it. Read this one) was being turned into a radio show?

Well, it didn’t all go smoothly. The radio station messed up and forgot to play it when it was scheduled. But Kevin worked some magic — which was probably more Halloweeny than not, given that he usually writes horror — and got ’em to run it the week after. Which was last Friday.

So here’s Kevin again to tell us about what it was like.

As I mentioned in the first part of this post, last summer I began making inquiries around Columbia, which resulted in Maplewood Barn Community Theatre expressing interest in performing my novelette “One Helluva Gig” as a radio show. The program ran this past Friday night on KBIA radio here in Columbia. After five months of waiting, the time had come to hear the finished product, the first time any of my prose had been converted to another medium.

It was a seasonal night, with the temp in the low seventies, so I cranked the radio on and partook myself to my balcony, complete with a nice view of the changing colors of the woods across from my place, and stretched myself out to listen, for the first time ever, to a new version of one of my stories, one I had had little to do with. (Basically, my contribution to the endeavor lay in telling Brad Buchanan that his script looked fine to me. Other people did all the actual work.)

And while they’d let me sit in during rehearsal and taping, I hadn’t yet heard the whole thing put together.

As the program started, I tensed a bit. Hearing my name and the title of my work mentioned over the radio felt a bit odd, but nothing I couldn’t handle. The beauty of it was that, already knowing the story so well and how the individual lines would sound, I didn’t have to concentrate on the individual parts but instead could listen for the full effect.

So how did it all work out?

All in all, pretty darned well. Obviously, when you take a seventy-page novelette and reduce it to about twenty pages of script, some stuff is going to be lost. And when what’s essentially a interior narrative piece is turned into more of a dialogue piece, even more changes will crop up. As I mentioned in the first part of this post, they did a good job of capturing the plot, though some of the pathos had to, inevitably, be left out. Or at least that’s how I saw it.

Yeah, okay. But how did the darned thing sound? Specifically, how did it sound nearly three years after I wrote the story, almost two years since Vagabondage Press published it in e-book form, and five months after that initial sitdown meeting with Byron and Brad?

When I’d attended the voice taping, a few days after rehearsal, I’d felt assured that these people knew what they were doing. Naturally, I could fill in for myself some of the background characterization that the script couldn’t include, but at the taping I’d heard a handful of people doing various voices as they recited lines from a script. (Which, of course, is what they were doing.)

However, the complete production included slices of music buffering the scenes, pulling the listener out of one mood and setting the tone for the next scene. And for me, that really made the difference. (As I understand it, the credit for all of that goes to Amy Humphrey.) As I sat there on my balcony, the sun setting behind the tree line, I was listening to an actual story, darn it. Not just some folks sitting around a table reading a script. I could trace the passage of time in the changing voices, hear the intelligence in the Dairy Queen girl, and feel the pathos as Jeffers expresses just how hard it is to be famous in a world that simply will not leave you be.
It was all there, maybe not in the same way that it comes across on the printed page, but the voices and the accompanying music created a different dimension, one apart from the straight printed version.

Shortly after the show ended, I made a short posting to my social media pages that summed up, in one short line, my overall feelings.

To the crew at Maplewood Barn Community Theatre, thanks guys, for taking such good care of my baby.

People of note:
Byron Scott – President, Board of Directors
Brad Buchanan – writer and artistic director
Joe Hayes – cast, production
Todd Salazar – cast
Amy Humphrey – cast, production
Darren Hellwege – cast, production
Kelli Moore – Podcast publishing

Kevin, I gotta tell you this: Susan’s jealous.



I want to say Susan’s done it again, but for a change, she’s been the go-between (control, much? Nah. She filters the mail so I have more time to read and review. Right?). And now she’s heard from author Louisa Bacio, the one who wrote the cool story about the rocker touring the bomb shelter. The one that I couldn’t even start to talk about because I was so jazzed to read it.

I’m still reading Susan Griscom’s first book, Beautifully Wounded. I mentioned that Susan Griscom (not our Rock Fiction Expert Susan) was nice enough to send over copies of the books. So I’ll take a break after I finish that one, read The Big One, and then finish off Susan Griscom’s (sheesh. I can’t even go Susan G. One of you needs a cool name like Jett.) second and we’ll be doing reviews until this place implodes. Which I hope isn’t soon because baby, I am all about the Rock Fiction.

Sharon Cathcart and I have been buddies for a long time. We’ve got a ton in common, so I asked her to stop in this month with a guest blog post. She was kind enough to oblige.

I had a bit of a struggle trying to figure out my guest blog for West of Mars’ Rocktober celebration.

There. I said it.

Idea after idea was tried and rejected. And then, I woke up on October 6 to the news that yet another live music venue in my hometown, Portland Ore., was in financial trouble due to lack of attendance. Slabtown, which had its beginnings in the early 20th Century as a lumberjack bar, is closing its doors for good on Nov. 1.

This means another small venue for up-and-coming acts disappears in the Pacific Northwest, almost exactly three years after the legendary Satyricon was demolished.

Despite living just a few blocks from Slabtown, I didn’t spend much time there. When I still lived in Portland, it was a blue-collar sports bar. Slabtown stepped up to fill the gap created by Satyricon’s 2003 closure, but now they’re going away as well.

Satyricon’s closure raised a good many emotions for me, most of them good. It was an important time in the Pacific Northwest’s burgeoning punk scene, which eventually developed into the so-called “grunge” movement. I can only assume that Slabtown’s habitués are feeling what I felt.

Here’s an excerpt fromYou Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, which talks about my early days in the music business.

One of the contacts I’d made over time was George Tahouliotis, owner of Satyricon. He was well known for giving new acts a chance, so I went to see him with my rehearsal tape in hand.

“They’re this tight in fucking rehearsal?” he exclaimed. “I want them on this stage.”

We fixed the date, agreeing that Arctic Sun would open for an up-and-coming act called The Surf Cowboys.

I went to rehearsal, delivering what I thought was an outstanding piece of news. After all, they’d been practicing for several months.

“No way,” said Greg. “We’re not ready.”

“Yes,” Mat said, “we are.”

The back and forth went on for several minutes before I stepped in.

“If you want to play in the basement forever, that’s fine. However, if that is the case you do not need a manager. If you don’t want this gig, I quit.”
There was a long pause.

“Okay, fine,” Guy said. “We’ll do it, but if we suck up there you have to back off and let us tell you when we’re ready.”
I agreed to his terms.

We went to Satyricon on the appointed night, loading in what we needed and locking all of our extraneous gear in Guy’s van (we’d brought everything but the kitchen sink, a mistake we never made again). I went to find George so he could point me toward the soundman for the night; I had notes for a few of the pieces.

Holy crap.

Behind the board stood Greg Sage, a Portland music legend. As front man for The Wipers, Sage was an icon in the punk world. I could not believe it. I felt more than a little sheepish giving my notes to him, but he nodded and took them. He was always gracious and informative, from that first day, and I am still humbled that he was our first soundman.

The band, of course, did not suck. I had to work very hard at not gloating when Guy enthused about the rush he got from performing for the small but appreciative crowd.

Two more gigs were immediately booked off of that show, which is how it started to go.

As a special gift for West of Mars readers during Rocktober, I’m offering both my music memoir and my rock fiction eBook free of charge.

To obtain your copy of You Had to Be There: Three Years of Mayhem and Bad Decisions in the Portland Music Scene, visit (affiliate link) and enter coupon code QU82M at checkout.

To obtain your copy of the double-award nominated The Rock Star in the Mirror (Or, How David Bowie Ruined My Life), the story of an Oregon band making its way through small venues like Satyricon and Slabtown and some of the pitfalls they encounter, visit (affiliate link) and enter coupon code ZD79M.

Both codes expire Nov, 10, 2014.

Have I mentioned that I adored The Rock Star in the Mirror??? Be sure to pick up your copy — and yes, since I can’t review it myself (think about it…) and Jett’s swamped, I’d love to post a link to YOUR review. Or host you here for a review. Or both.


Ladies and gentlemen, we have a fresh plot! Check it!

The last thing marketing assistant Kayla Morgan expects to do on a Friday morning is give a tour of her emergency shelter to a flighty rock star. When her boss orders her to play nice, she acquiesces.

Sebastian Cox, lead singer of The U.K. Underground, finds the American bird with the bunker in her backyard more than wacky, but the band’s looking for a location to shoot their latest video.

When an earthquake strikes, the unlikely couple gets trapped and finds a few ways to keep themselves busy. Once reality sets in, will their differences leave them on shaky ground?

There is so much to say about this one, where do I start? How about this: Where’s the review copy???

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I first met Kevin Doyle when he showed up in my inbox with his novelette, One Helluva Gig. I was going to let Jett review it, but it was so good and such a quick read that there was no time.

Then Kevin contacted me again. He’d looked into having the novella translated, so to speak, into a play. Its performance is scheduled for October 17, so I told Kevin he had to write about it for Rocktober. He was willing, and he’ll do a follow-up to this piece about what happens when it airs.

Without further ado, here’s Kevin.

A few years back, I was fortunate enough to see my first e-book released by a small, but growing, press. This was pretty much a whole new world for me, as up to this point I’d dealt exclusively in the short story arena. The “book” is actually a 14,000 word novelette, and it served as my first introduction to the idea of publishing original material in e-book form. A form, I should point out, now providing quite a service by bringing back the novelette and novella, at one point almost vanished species.

To this point, sales have been (hrrmph) modest (putting it about as mildly as possible) and I’ve been looking for new ways to market the material. One thing that kept pinging in the back of my head was the idea that, due to the structure of the work (a set number of scenes and each scene having just two characters) it seemed like this story would work fairly well as a play. However, I know zip about writing, letting alone producing, plays.

So this summer, I began scouting around the Columbia, Missouri, area seeing if I could find anyone who knew how to write plays and how to get them on stage.

Enter the Maplewood Barn Theatre.

I met a few people, who put me in touch with someone else, who led me to a few more people and next thing you know I was discovering all sorts of new stuff.

Maplewood Barn, a local community theatre, produces its plays outside in one of our parks. They run performances from May through August. Okay, most people around the Columbia area are aware of that.

However I didn’t know that during the fall and winter, when they don’t perform outside, the group produces and broadcasts radio performances, actual radio theatre, on KBIA, our local public broadcasting station. So here I was, trying to see about turning my material into a play, when I met up with some people interested in putting it on the radio, which had the appeal of being something that doesn’t often happen to original fiction.

Then, however, came the ordeal of turning my little baby over to strange people and hoping they would help it mature. I didn’t have separation anxiety, as such, but when Brad Buchanan pointed out that my sixty-page novelette would be cut down to about twenty pages, I’m pretty sure I gulped a little.

Nothing to do, though, but sit back and wait.

A few days later, the script appeared in my e-mail, and I sat down to read just what they had done to my story. Brad was apologetic at every step at having to take such “beautiful prose” (his words, not mine) and cut it down every which way.

Reading the script, I began breathing a lot easier. The basic plot, from beginning to end, is there, and all of the major scenes are left intact. On reading that initial script, I could easily recognize my work and, for most of it, my own words. Some of the emotion seemed to be missing, but I crossed my fingers that when the actors performed the script some of that would come back in.

All in all, it seemed to have come off pretty well.

Now came the next step. I knew how it read, but how would it sound when played out?

You NEED your own copy, don’t you? If I didn’t already have one, I certainly would.
Smashwords (affiliate link. G’wan. Use it)

I’m sure there are more retailers, too. iBooks, Oyster, Scribd… just a guess, but don’t hesitate to drop in at your favorite digital bookseller and see if they’ve got it. (report it in the comments, even, and I’ll update)