interviews

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Here, There, Everywhere!

Published September 19, 2017 by admin

Got some news in these here parts!

I’ve updated the who I am page with better contact explanations and such – eventually, I want to convert to an actual website and do something either connected or separate for my costume work, but that’s going to take time and planning.

 

Bibliorati has a new column and I was the first interview! I talk with Paula Hardin about how I got into writing, my creative motivations, and all sorts of other things. She’s great at what she does, Tommy Hancock has a wonderful site over all, and I’m happy to be featured there. Check out the full interview here!

YA Graphic Novel Reviews – wow I’m behind in posting these. My bad, go on vacation and everything crumbles to oblivion.

through the woods

I talked about how much I love Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods a few weeks ago. If you like horror that isn’t too graphic and has a slow burn, plus some beautiful art, check out my review here. 

 

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I will never not shout my love of Courtney Crumrin. If you like series, you’ll love this. If you just read the first volume, it still works. This thing makes me want to run off to Goblin Town and hang out with all the fantastic creatures Ted Neifeh creates. Check out my full review here. 

 

americus

This is one of those single-book titles that’s necessary, especially for mid grade readers and above. This looks at the topic of censorship from all sides, and while I do think some portrayals are a little caricature-based, I think that overall it does a great job of promoting literature. I also really like that it’s the younger characters caught up in all of this who are the heroes and who really are the focus of the book. Read the full review here.

I’ve got a lot more on the horizon and some things are still being cemented, so definitely keep your eyes posted for where I’ll be next!

Author Interview: Dan Jolley and Gray Widow’s Walk

Published July 21, 2016 by admin

I’m really excited for today’s interview. It’s always fun to talk to someone whose work you’re already familiar with, and Dan is just an awesome, talented guy. I always enjoy what I read by him, and I always walk away from a conversation with him feeling positive. He’s one of those artists who knows how to listen and relate to people, which is golden, people. I cannot stress that enough. Be articulate like Dan.  Plus he’s one of the few people I can talk to about visiting Poland who gets half of what’s coming out of my mouth, so there’s that, too.

But today we are talking about his new book!

As an aside, just picture how many times I have to remind myself that it’s spelled gray because apparently somewhere I have a recessive British spelling gene. It’s killing me over here.

Gray Widow_s WalkCOVERFINAL

Amazon    Kindle  B&N  Nook

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

DJ: In the whole plotter-vs-pantser debate, I come down as far on the side of the plotters as you can get. This is not just personal preference; when you’re doing any sort of writing for hire, as I’ve done my whole career, you have no choice but to be a plotter. No publisher is going to pay you to come up with stuff as you go. You have to submit an outline, or a summary, or both, and once that gets approved, you generally have to stick to it. That’s one of the things I learned very early on — never tell an editor, “And you’re going to love the ending!” No. No, they won’t. Or at least, they won’t take the chance that they will. That approach has carried over into everything I work on, whether it’s on spec or not.

Also, there are writers who, like Dean Koontz, go into their office every day and write for hours and hours and hours, draft after draft, until they’re satisfied. Then there are the writers who spend days or weeks or months thinking about a story, and when they’ve thought enough, they write it all down in a whirlwind. I’m in that second camp. I do most of my “writing” driving around listening to loud, aggressive music, or working around the house, or showering, or brushing my teeth. I get the whole story worked out beforehand, and then write it all down in bursts. I have a reputation in some circles for being a very, very fast writer, but most of the time, all the heavy lifting has been done before fingers touch keyboard.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

DJ: I have a couple of writing habits, but they’re kind of boring. If I’m working on a comic book, I draw the outlines of all the pages of the comic on one page of a sketchbook, and do a very basic form of storyboarding; by the time I’m done drawing twenty-two little rectangles representing the twenty-two pages of a standard comic, my brain is fully in comic-writing gear. When I’m doing prose, I have a walking desk set up, and by the time my blood gets moving (around five minutes at two miles per hour), I’m totally in the prose-writing groove.

I used to write in a zero-gravity recliner, and my cat, The Minkus, would get in my lap, so I’d rest the laptop directly on him and work away while he slept. That had to stop, though, for two reasons. First, he doesn’t like my new laptop. I think it’s too heavy. Second, I had to take the old one in to the shop several times to get all the cat hair vacuumed out of it.

SJ:   Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

DJ: I am a very meticulous planner, as I mentioned earlier. If I had a muse, her name would be “Deadlinika,” and she would whisper things in my ear such as, “Your mortgage payment is due in two weeks,” or “You really need to get that transmission looked at,” or “The editor is expecting your first draft Monday morning,” and I’d shout, “I’M WRITING! I’M WRITING!”

As far as where ideas come from…they come from everywhere. Stories I read in the news, snippets of conversation I overhear in line at the grocery store, anecdotes my 13-year-old niece tells me…it never stops. Sometimes (not as often as I’d like), a fully-formed idea will just drop into my head out of nowhere. I wish I knew how to make that happen on a regular basis.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

DJ: I’m afraid Deadlinika would look like a really stern, matronly grammar school teacher. She’d just stand there and stare at me, arms crossed, a ruler in one hand, tapping her foot.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

DJ: In comics, my creator-owned series Bloodhound is closest to me. In video games, my work on Transformers: War For Cybertron came out really really well, though I’m also proud of the work I did on Dying Light. In novels, my answer used to be Alex Unlimited, the trio of YA sci-fi/espionage books I wrote for Tokyopop. But right now, the answer to the whole question is definitely Gray Widow’s Walk, the book that just debuted from Seventh Star Press. It’s what you might call “superhero noir,” and it’s the first time in my entire career that I’ve been able to take the gloves off and write anything and everything I wanted to. I am intensely proud of it. Everything I’ve ever written contains at least some of me, but Gray Widow’s Walk in general, and the characters of Janey Sinclair and Tim Kapoor in particular, are very very much me. Janey is even more me than Tim — which isn’t all that surprising, I guess, since I’ve been told more than once that my inner child is actually a 14-year-old girl. (My wife tends to agree with that assessment.)

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

DJ: I’d have to go with science-fiction. I love the genre, I grew up on it, my whole life changed the day I saw Star Wars in 1977. (I was six.) But the reason I’d choose it is that it’s so freaking broad. You can write almost anything in science-fiction. Space opera? Sure. Dystopian future, zombie apocalypse, rogue A.I.? No problem. Time travel? Of course. Superheroes? Almost all of them qualify. Even the epic fantasy saga I’m working on behind the scenes is, technically, science-fiction, in the way The Dragonriders of Pern is. I used to consider myself a horror writer, but I think I’ve really been a science-fiction writer all along.

SJ:  What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

DJ: The downside to being a freelance writer, which I’ve been for years and years, is the unpredictable nature of the business. I’ve actually been noticing a lot of similarities between what I do and what my sister-in-law and her husband do: they own and operate their own machine shop. We’re all self-employed, we’re all entrepreneurs, and when you’re self-employed, it’s always feast or famine. You’re either covered up with work (the good times) or you’re scrambling to get work (the shitty times). Sometimes I wish I had learned to do something useful, that would pay well, for the stretches when little or no work was coming in, like welding. Something I could just go do for a week or two or three until the next contract showed up. But then I think, if I hadn’t taken the whole throw-your-hat-over-the-fence, burn-your-ships approach, I wouldn’t be as far along with things as I am now. And I do love where I am now.

SJ:If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

DJ:I’d probably choose to be in Gray Widow’s Walk, because it’s set in modern-day Atlanta, and you could live your whole life in that book and not realize people were being targeted by unknown parties and having their DNA forcibly rearranged. Of course, if you did get pulled into that process, it would get a lot less pleasant in a very short amount of time, but 99.9% of the people in the city don’t realize what’s going on. Of any of my books, Gray Widow’s Walk would probably be the (relatively) safest, so that’s where I’d put a loved one, too.

I’d stick an enemy in Harran, the Middle-Eastern city overrun by zombies in the video game Dying Light. No one stays happy there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

DJ: I think some people have tapped into the (forgive me for using this word) zeitgeist in a way that lets them create success after success. Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. For that matter, Aaron Spelling. And y’know what? If I could do that, I TOTALLY would. Because that would mean I would have the freedom to write anything I wanted to. Collect the millions and millions of dollars from my super-popular creation(s), and then just retire to a villa in the south of France or something and write whatever I wanted to write, with no pressure. It’d be like winning the lottery.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

DJ: Marry someone with a steady job that provides good insurance. I wish I were joking about that.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

DJ: I’ll make a case for every genre, and it goes back to a tried-and-true bit of wisdom: it’s not the story, it’s how you tell it. Good writing is good writing, no matter what genre it’s in, and it’s that fact that has led to a few of my projects (if I may toot my own horn for a moment) getting reviews that proclaim, “This is way better than it has any right to be.” I especially enjoyed those reviews when I got hired to reboot Voltron in comic book form, back around 2002. A lot of writers would have sneered and turned up their noses at that kind of job, but I dove into it head-first, and turned it into an action-packed space opera with intense character relationships and overtones of interplanetary politics.

The same concept holds true for anything, really: witness the rise of My Little Pony, built on the series’ outstanding writing. Or, from several years ago, the TV show Girlfriends. I happened to catch an episode one day, flipping channels, and while I didn’t think I would have all that much interest in a show about four young African-American women in Los Angeles, I couldn’t have been more wrong. The writing on that show was razor-sharp, and I loved it.

It doesn’t matter if you’re writing magical-girl manga, or gritty military science-fiction, or a story about a bitter rivalry between two old men in a retirement home. Good writing will elevate any genre, just as much as bad writing will damage it. Is every genre for everyone? No, of course not. But no genre is inherently “inferior.” That’s elitist bullshit.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

DJ: Hmmm…that’s a tough one. But I guess it goes back to when I was working for DC Comics, and was doing a signing at the DC pavilion at the San Diego ComiCon. I ran into one of their big-time, heavyweight writers, a guy who’d done multiple blockbuster books for DC and racked up walls full of awards. I hadn’t ever met him before, but he shook my hand and said, “Y’know, I always pick up your books, because I know when I see your name on the cover it’ll be top-quality.” (I eventually pried the stupid grin off my face.) Now, that was just one guy, of course, and he could’ve been blowing sunshine up my ass. But ideally? I’d love to instill that kind of confidence in all my readers. I’d love for people to see my name and, whatever medium it’s on, in whatever genre, for them to think, “Okay, I know this is going to be good.” Like virtually every creative type, I’m rife with insecurities, and I’m not saying I am that good. But it’s something to strive for.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

DJ: Well, I’ve already said a few things about Gray Widow’s Walk, so I’ll just put the blurb right here on the page:

Janey Sinclair’s ability to teleport has always been a mystery to her. She tried for years to ignore it, but when tragedy shatters her life, Janey’s anger consumes her. She hones her fighting skills, steals a prototype suit of military body armor, and takes to the streets of Atlanta, venting her rage as the masked vigilante dubbed “the Gray Widow” by the press.

But Janey’s power, and her willingness to use it, plunges her into a conflict on a much grander scale than she had anticipated.

Soon she encounters Simon Grove, a bloodthirsty runaway with a shapeshifting ability gone horribly wrong…

Garrison Vessler, an ex-FBI agent and current private defense contractor, who holds some of the answers Janey’s been searching for…

And Tim Kapoor, the first person in years with a chance of breaking through Janey’s emotional shell — if she’ll let him.

But as Janey’s vigilantism gains worldwide attention, and her showdown with Simon Grove draws ever closer, the reason for her augmented abilities — hers and all the others like her — begins to reveal itself. Because, high above the Earth, other eyes are watching. And they have far-reaching plans…

Gray Widow’s Walk is book one of the Gray Widow Trilogy, to be followed by Gray Widow’s Web and Gray Widow’s War.

That’s from the back of the book, which debuted May 13 at StokerCon in Las Vegas. The following two books will come out one per year, unless I get them done sooner than that, which is entirely possible.

I’ve been trying to decide on the perfect way to sum the book up, and I’ve got a couple of possibilities. You could say that it’s like the Netflix version of Daredevil meets Red Sonja. You could say that it’s a sci-fi/action/horror story, since the principal antagonist, Simon Grove has been responsible for more than one reader’s nightmares. But really, it’s what happens when I get to tell a story entirely my way. No word count restrictions, no age-related language restrictions, no limits on the subject matter. Gray Widow’s Walk is the purest story I’ve ever told, and I’m beyond thrilled finally to have the chance to show it to people.

DanBeachHiRes

A Georgia native, Dan Jolley is an American author who writes novels, video games, and comic books, collects unmotivated felines, and should really go to the gym more. His first original novel trilogy, the YA sci-fi/espionage “Alex Unlimited,” was published in 2007. In 2016 he launched two new series, the superhero noir “Gray Widow Trilogy” and the Middle Grade urban fantasy series “Five Elements.” His comics work includes DC Comics’ Firestorm, Eisner Award nominated JSA: The Unholy Three, and TokyoPop’s The Lost Warrior, an extension of the Warriors novel series by Erin Hunter; his video games include Transformers: War For Cybertron and Fall of Cybertron, Dying Light, and Chronos. Dan and his wife, Tracy, live somewhere in the northwest Georgia foothills.

Website: www.danjolley.com
Twitter: @_DanJolley
Facebook: www.facebook.com/dan.jolley1

Persephone & Me by Corinne Desjardins

Published January 21, 2016 by admin

Persephone and Me Banner

It’s time to take a look at another new release! Come on, those who know my Jung kick, love of mythological archetypes, and such should know that I’d be all over this book. I also have a special love for Persephone, poetry, and creative nonfiction in general, so as soon as I saw the title, I was all in.

We’re talking to author Corinne Desjardins today, but first, let’s take a look at her book Persephone & Me.

Persephone and Me

Title:  Persephone & Me

Author:   Corinne Desjardins

Published:  December 10th, 2013

Genre:  Women’s Poetry

Recommended Age:  16+

Synopsis:

A poetry collection following my youthful fascination with Persephone and how she came to haunt me. I saw her constellation of characters within my own family and my own life. Ultimately, describing what I learned from the goddess.

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Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

Grace

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

CD: I write poetry as a means of reflecting and processing, so I happened to have a bunch of poems that just seemed to fall naturally into the structure.  I have outlined two other projects, started them both, and then deviated from said outlines.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

CD: I wish I had a cape!  That would be so cool.  Mine would be a warm red, like Little Red Riding Hood!

I did stop watching an entertaining TV series a few years ago, and I haven’t looked back.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

CD: I am not a planner at heart, I’ve only learnt to do some amount of planning for basic time management.  I often get random ideas from some quirk of television or some other thing. I suppose I do have some shady deal with my personal Hades, since I tasted the pomegranate seeds of marriage.  But I have come to understand Hades as not evil, just misunderstood (and socially challenged due to his lack of interaction with people of life.)

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

CD: ChickLit, because ultimately I don’t want to be depressed.  And ChickLit is always funny.  It’s important to celebrate the humor in life.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

CD: Time. There just doesn’t ever seem to be enough time, or the writing/editing process just takes so much longer than anticipated.  Writing a novel in 30 days, a compellingly good novel, just isn’t feasible.  Don’t get me wrong, I applaud NaNoWriMo, but I have never actually completed a novel during November, because, Life Happens.  I have had much more success with Camp NaNoWriMo in other months, choosing my own genre and word count goal.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

CD: I am already kind of stuck in this book, being that it’s the creative non-fiction version of my life!  I wouldn’t want to be stuck in the Black section, however, that would be depressing. I might put an enemy in there, though.  It does kind of feel like a dungeon.  Maybe they can learn from their time there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

CD: I think the best stories are ones with a character arc of personal development and growth. There are different ways of highlighting this arc: hero’s journey, literary alchemy, the Pyramid, it’s all good.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

CD: It’s not easy.  Mostly I write because I have to.  I’m not doing it for the money.  And I do hope that my story resonates with other women, and maybe they may become inspired to write their own stories, too.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

CD: Creative Non-Fiction allows for therapeutic reflection and invites a new perspective or framework of understanding.  It’s healing. Poetry evokes the soul, of both the writer and the reader. It’s a mystical connection which we all crave.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

CD: “That’s the book that made me consider my own life story, and made me realize that I could write my own book!”

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

CD:  I’m working on a novel called The Persephone Connection- it will be indirectly related to Persephone & Me in that the archetypes interact.  It is the second in this non-linear trilogy. This is taking a long time, it may be out sometime next year.

Perceiving Red

About the Author:

I am a writer. I love stories. I love to read. I love to write. Also love coffee, chocolate, and Merlot.

Amazon Author Page | Twitter | GoodReads | Blog

Juniper Grove Presents: Ariel Rising

Published January 12, 2016 by admin

Ariel Rising Banner.png

Blog tour time again! I’ve got a great interview today for you, but first, you know the rules…let’s check out the book!

 

Ariel Rising Wrap

 

Title:   Ariel Rising

Author:  AJ and CS Sparber

Published:  October 30th, 2015

Publisher:  Mind’s Eye Press

Genre:  YA Paranormal

Recommended Age:  14+

Synopsis:

My dreams were simple. College, a career, and let’s see what happens from there. But things don’t always go according to plan.

My name is Ari Worthington and I’ve had a very eventful week. A life-changing week. The kind of week that would make the average person whimper.

It started when my ex-boyfriend Luke accosted me in the woods.

How badly was I injured? Not a scratch. And Luke? Not so lucky. Nope, I whupped him good. It surprised the heck out of me. And it probably surprised him, too—once he woke up.

And then I met Davin. Handsome, witty, amazing Davin. Perfect in every way, unless you think being an alien, from a planet called Olympus, might be a liability.

“Seriously? Your planet is named after a Greek mountain?” I ask him.

“Actually, it’s the other way around,” he tells me. “The mountain was named after us. We’ve been visiting Earth for a very, very long time. As a matter of fact, we are responsible for human evolution.”

So, ancient aliens are real? Yeah. But there’s more. Davin’s an angel, which I could have handled, would have handled, if only he hadn’t told me I was one, too.

“But we don’t have wings,” I say.

“Real angels don’t need wings,” he counters.

“Ah, that explains everything,” I reply.

So, you think this is just another angel story? Well, it’s not. It’s got humor, romance, adventure, science, tragedy, and… did I say romance? It’ll make you think, and laugh, and cry.

Davin and I, you see, are part of a larger plan. A noble plan. A plan to save the sons and daughters of man, or what’s left of them, after the war. A big war.

Okay, enough of my rambling. Davin and I need to get back to training. And you’ve got some reading to do, yeah?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

***

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

AJ&CS: We frame a very broad outline, covering major plot points, chronology, and character descriptions. From that point, we tend to let the characters pull us through their story. In many ways, they develop a life of their own. Perhaps it can be called FI (fictional intelligence). We’ve heard it before, but never believed it until we started writing. Yes, our characters do speak to us. They really do.

As a writing team, we assume very clear roles. For example, AJ is the lead writer for this series, and CS (Carol) is the lead editor. Each chapter, when completed, gets uploaded to our Kindles, where we use the Notes feature to make edits and recommend changes. We then discuss those edits and commit them to the manuscript. We’re not sure how many writers work this way, but we’ve found it amazingly productive.

And since we are a happily married writing team, we get to practice the love scenes. Okay, probably a little too much information, but…

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

AJ&CS: Well, Arial Rising is the first book in our first series, so right now it is nearest and dearest to our hearts. That said, there is a lot of my husband and me in Davin and Ariel. We’re kind of all very closely related.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

 AJ&CS: Young Adult. Young adults are old enough to have formed an intellectual foundation, yet young enough to be open to new ideas. Of course, there is no age limit to being a young adult. In fact, many of our favorite young adult friends have a few wrinkles. Of course, being a professor and a software engineer, we do get back to the real world often enough to keep things interesting. And my husband has this idea of someday writing paranormal software applications, but every time he finishes one, it kind of disappears…into thin air. He’s working on it, though. He really is.

 SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

AJ&CS: Downside? Hmm. Not really. I think that if you write because you love to write, and you have a story to tell, then there is only an upside—that your voice will be heard. On the other hand, if your chief motivation is profit, it could make for a frustrating journey.

There are many clichés we’ve seen in the hundreds of YA books we’ve read for research. There’s the bad boy character that seems to be in an awful lot of books. Last we checked, there are still a fairly large number of good boys…at least where we live. That’s not to say we don’t like a little edge to our characters, because we do. But a girl shouldn’t always have to endure emotional torture in order to win her guy’s heart. It gets old sometimes.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

AJ&CS: I think I’d like to be stuck in Episode 3 of Between Two Worlds: A New Beginning. It’s due out in late 2016 and there’s going to be such a surprising turn of events. In fact, I think I’ll take the whole family there. Our readers will never see it coming. For my enemies, I will banish them to live in the dystopian world of  Episode 2: The Battle for Earth. It will be very tough for them to survive (play evil laugh track here).

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

AJ&CS: The best laid plans? I’m not certain a surefire plan can even exist. Stuff always seems to happen. Things change. We change. I’d hate for us to have to file away a great idea just because it doesn’t fit a certain formula. I hope that the artistic aspects of storytelling always take the spotlight for us. Yeah! I think that’s the fun part.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

AJ&CS: Learn to write well. Paint with words. Alliterate. Command the English language. Understand that Tom and me did not go to the mall. Tom and I did. And know that Jill did not follow Bob and I. She followed Bob and me. If you do not have a seasoned command of grammar, then seek out someone who does, and have him or her read your manuscript. If a bad report is had, then you will want to find and hire a good editor.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

SJ&CS: The best case we can make for our genre is that we like it, it fits the story we want to tell, and so it is comfortable for our project. The story comes from the heart and the brain; the genre comes from the story. It’s a kind of natural flow.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

AJ&CS: Quality writing and immersive stories.

SJ: Please tell us what’s up next for you. It’s plug time, so go for it!

AJ&CS: We are currently close to a first draft of the second book in our Ariel, Between Two Worlds series, which will be called The Battle for Earth. The middle volume in Ariel’s story will take a darker, more dystopian turn as the angels of Paradise mount a war against the Fallen. You’ll be riveted, we promise, and you’ll get to meet some uniquely fascinating new characters!

AJ and CS Sparber

When it comes to being a husband and wife (or wife and husband) writing team, there are advantages, or benefits. Chief among them is that you get to practice the love scenes. He writes, she steers, and…well, it’s fun. He is a software designer and she is a doctor of education. AJ and CS Sparber live in the lovely town of Hudson, Ohio, with their son Ryan, their daughter Melanie, and an Aussie shepherd named Hunter.

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Elementals Season One by S.G. Basu

Published November 17, 2015 by admin

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I’m excited to be able to bring you a whole season’s worth of exciting titles today! We all know how I love sharing books and talking process, so it’s extra fun that it’s an interview day, as well. You know the rules, though…first, we check out the books!

Elementals-Season-1

 

Title:  Elementals: Season 1

Author:  Author: S.G. Basu

Published:  September 29th, 2015

Publisher:   Vinayaka Publishing

Genre:  Science Fiction Thriller

Content Warning:  Mild violence and language

Recommended Age:  15+

Synopsis:  Mayhem is about to visit Löthia.

Löthia is at peace–after a millennium of genetic tinkering, Löthians’ power over the elements has been obliterated. The Elemental Wars that have plagued their civilization from the beginning of time is now distant history.

But have the Elementals been tamed for good?

Or is this just the quiet before the storm rips Löthia apart once again?

Amazon | Goodreads

Read FREE with Kindle Unlimited!

***

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

*Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

SGB: Thank you for having me on your blog. A lifetime ago, the first step of my writing process would have been a painstaking and meticulous outline. In the last two years the process has changed significantly. I like to experiment, challenge myself, and push my boundaries. Often I’m surprised by the results and the changes they bring about. Just like they changed my process—I have stopped outlining as thoroughly as I used to. I still do a broad outline, but now I go easy on the in-between stuff.

I don’t put on a cape or chant, although I might try those out now that I’ve heard about them. There’s one odd thing I do–I design a book cover right after I have the basic frame of a story. That gets my creative juices flowing real good. These covers often don’t make it to publication, but they serve well as part muse, part artistic anchor for the project.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

* bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

SGB: The muse is everything. I plan and plot, of course, but if the muse doesn’t cooperate, said plans go nowhere. The ideas stream in from everywhere, while I’m watching TV, or reading a book or simply taking a casual stroll. And yes, they even show up in dreams. A project I have just started actually crystallized around a dream I couldn’t forget. The story involves time travel and I’m super excited about it, especially since I’ve never written anything like it before.

My muse? That would be the sharp-tongued rogue. Think Han Solo.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

SGB: “The Lightbound Saga,” my YA science fiction fantasy, is closest to my heart. It is a work-in-progress pentalogy, with the first two books—“Maia and the Xifarian Conspiracy” and “Maia and the Secrets of Zagran”—already published. The third book will be released in February of 2016.

“The Lightbound Saga” is my first venture as an author and every character, especially Maia, the thirteen-year-old protagonist, is very dear to me.

I try not to play favorites, although I always wish I could. That is the problem with being a career writer. If writing was just a hobby, I would indulge in one story or one character for as long as I could. But, to make writing a career, that too as an indie author, I can’t be stuck to one story for longer than is necessary. That in turn means, I can’t be partial to one story. 

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

SGB: Hands down it’s Science Fiction. I’m a dreamer—fantastical places and weird characters always crowd my head. I need to set these ideas free on the pages of a book or they would badger me nonstop. What better genre than Science Fiction for my band of misfits?

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

SGB: Writing is a very lonely profession. A writer has to be alone, that’s a necessity to be able to bring their characters to life. Then again, too much time alone can exhaust and cause burnout. I have found that writer’s block sets in faster when I’m at my desk for very long stretches. Tempering my schedule with a good amount of social activities, exercise etc helps tremendously.  

Cliché? None, actually. I’m very accepting as a reader. I think even the most-used clichés when used correctly in an awesome story, can do good.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

SGB: “The Lightbound Saga” for sure. I would like to be a part of Team Maia, if they were recruiting. There is danger in that world, the whole star system is under threat of extinction, but still, there’s so much fun to be had. Tansi, broken as it is, it the most intriguing place in the galaxy, with the coolest powers to possess, the funnest gadgets to tinker with, and wildest adventures to have, strangest people to meet—what’s not to love?

A loved one should be sent to “The Lightbound Saga” as well. They would also do fine in “Elementals” until all hell breaks loose. As for an enemy, they have to be in my “Seeder Chapters,” where Earth is almost dead and the human population is teetering at the brink of a mass extinction event. It is a tough, tough place and I’m sure my enemy could be taught a lesson or two there.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer?

Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

SGB: In my opinion, there cannot be a sure-fire recipe/formula for success in any field. Writers and a writing career is no exception. Hard work, dedication, perseverance, attention to quality and details—all of those go a long way to push one toward success though. Also, writers should be willing to take risks; be it trying out new POVs, changing up narrative styles, trying out a new genre or story structure. All those help improve a writer, her craft and her chance of standing out among the many other excellent writers out there.

Sure, why wouldn’t I want a sure-fire recipe for success? I totally would. However, I also like figuring things out for myself. In the two years since my first publication, I have learned so much and grown so much—I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything else. The journey so far has been amazing, and I think it’ll feel even more amazing once I reach my destination.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that.

With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

SGB: There’s no wisdom I can give them. I can tell them how difficult a writer’s journey is, but that’s not the same as them walking in my shoes. And until they walk my walk, it is only human to think of the grass as greener on my side.

The media, which likes to make fairy tales out of the successes, often omitting the amount of time and hardship that went into making those success stories happen, shapes people’s opinions a lot. Even the outliers, who are a handful among millions of writers, have had to put in countless hours to get where they are now. The odds are immense, yet we never hear about it. So, it is only natural for people to think that anyone writing a book today will be the tomorrow’s J. K. Rowling. 

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

SGB: Been there, heard that. I write science fiction, and I’ve been told that I should write real stories that make a statement about the human condition.

I will say this—science fiction, or any speculative fiction for that matter, isn’t—in most cases—a story about the fictional science. It’s a story about humans affected by said science. So, a good scifi story will tell plenty about the human condition, in addition to the fiction and fantasy aspect. I agree that reading science fiction for the first time can be difficult, but if people open their minds and embrace it, their imagination can take them anywhere.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

SGB: I want to be thought of as an “one stop shop for all your science fiction reading needs.”

I hope, within the next two years, anyone who stops by my shop, can find a piece of science fiction they like. I’m slowly building variety in my offerings—fast-paced thrills and slow, intricate world-building, tales for young adults as well as those with mature-themes, short stories to epics and everything in between. 

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

SGB: Apart from working with my editor on the third book of “The Lightbound Saga” series, I’m in the middle of two new and extremely interesting projects.

First is “The Eternity Prophecy,” a science fiction thriller with an ambiguous theocracy at its core. Never having created religion or faith in any of my stories until this one, I’m excited as well as terrified working on it. It’s shaping up well though. You can find details of the book here – http://booklaunch.io/sgbasu/eternityprophecy

The other is a fun superhero book, tentatively named “Jumpers.” It is about a group of people who get the power to travel back in time—not back into the age of dinosaurs and not even back a year, but only a day at most. They decide to use this power to save victims of recent crimes. I have wanted to write a time travel story for a very long time and I’m thoroughly enjoying writing this. 

***

I love the insightful answers! We also have an excerpt from Elementals, so let’s check it out!

***

Nothing during the course of the grouchy summer day indicated that, by the time it was over, seventeen-year-old Anavyx Elon would be accused of the grisliest murder in recent Löthian history.

Dual complete moons blazed across the purple skies of Löthia that evening, and there shouldn’t have been any interruptions to Anavyx’s routine, yet there was.

She heard the faint noise of her bedroom door opening when she was halfway through her shower. Her body, warm from the water cascading down from the canopy over her head, stiffened immediately.

“Moma?” Anavyx called, voice trembling a little as her throat dried up with fear. No one replied.

It couldn’t be Moma.

Alana, her mother, was a top geneticist in the Peaks. Her evening consultation hours ended precisely at 2030 hours, not a moment before or after. There was no reason for her to leave her patients and come into the private section of the house looking for Anavyx.

Maybe it was Dadi.

Anavyx banished that idea with a shake of her head. It was impossible. Her father did not set foot in the house before midnight. Nothing except a calamity would bring him home this early. And even if he came home, he would never venture into her room. So who could it be?

There was no other noise after the door opened. That was the oddest thing—the silence. It made her insides curl up in a tight ball.

Anavyx reached for her robe and having wrapped its flowing expanse around herself, tiptoed forward to investigate. She barely took a step into her room, heart pounding uncontrollably fast and unbearably loud, when she saw him.

 

SG-Basu (2)

S.G. Basu is an aspiring potentate of a galaxy or two. She plots and plans with wondrous machines, cybernetic robots, time travelers and telekinetic adventurers, some of whom escape into the pages of her books.

Once upon a previous life on planet Earth, S.G. Basu trained to be an engineer, and her interest in science and her love of engineering shows up time and again in her books.

She shares her home with a large collection of Legos, a patient husband, and resident inspiration and entertainer, her daughter.

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Juniper Grove Presents: The Soul Stone by Jamie Marchant

Published August 20, 2015 by admin

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It’s a two-tour week! Today we’ll be looking at the new book from Jamie Marchant, plus she’ll join me in an interview to talk about her writing process!

The-Soul-Stone

Title:  The Soul Stone

Series:  The Kronicles of Korthlundia #2 (Standalone)

Author: Jamie Marchant

Published:  June 25th, 2015

Publisher:   Black Rose Writing

Genre:  Epic Fantasy

Content Warning:

Recommended Age:  18+

Synopsis:  In this sequel to The Goddess’s Choice (Reliquary Press, 2012), the Crown Princess Samantha and Sir Robrek struggle to solidify their rule in the aftermath of the king’s murder and Duke Argblutal’s attempt to usurp the throne. They are thwarted at every turn by those who seek power for themselves and desire to prevent their marriage. Just when they think their problems are solved, a deadly curse begins to spread throughout Korthlundia and Samantha becomes pregnant.

In my sword and sorcery novel, The Soul Stone, Samantha must fight off priests, enemies, and her closest advisors while Robrek discovers the reason the goddess chose him as king, to defeat the Soul Stone, a stone capable of sucking the soul out of its victims, which threatens to obliterate all life in the joined kingdoms. Their archenemy, the Bard Alvabane, awakens the Soul Stone and plans to use its power to reclaim Korthlundia for her people (a people driven out over a thousand years ago by the hero Armunn). Armunn had to sacrifice his life and soul to contain the Soul Stone. Will Robrek have to do the same? Will the young couple have only a few short months to love each other?

Although having read The Goddess’s Choice adds depth to The Soul Stone, it is not necessary. The Soul Stone is a complete story of its own.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Excerpt:

At bedtime, Alvabane sat at her dressing table brushing her long hair. It had once been a bright, rich red, but it had dulled with age and was now mostly grey with only a few strands of color to remind her of what once had been. It seemed a metaphor for her life—small flashes of color to remind her of her once bright purpose.

One of those flashes, Erick, set her nightly goblet of fortified wine next to her hand. She needed the strong alcohol to dull the pain of her joints so she could sleep. Erick had served her for ten years. When her former servant had died, he’d been sent by her people, despite the fact that she’d only been a disappointment to them.

She turned to thank him, but the words died on her lips as she saw the reproach in his eyes. Alvabane turned back to her mirror. Tonight was the night of the new moon. She should have been preparing to perform the rites of the dark gods, not preparing for bed. “They have forgotten us,” Alvabane said. “The Soul Stone does not live.”

In the mirror, she saw Erick’s eyes narrow. He was not yet twenty and still had the optimism of youth. He still believed the Stone would come to life again when the gods willed it. He believed it would again be the weapon it had once been. Created in the far past by magic which had since been lost, it had been used by her people to protect themselves from the barbarians that now ran free over Korth and Lundia.

“I will perform the rites next month,” she promised, but so had she promised last month and the month before that. The stairs to the bottom of the East Tower were agony to her knees. Erick made a mewing sound, reminding her what he’d sacrificed to serve her and the dark gods. She herself had cut his tongue from his mouth when he came to her as a ten-year-old child. He had surrendered it stoically. Only the Bards were allowed to sing the rites of the gods. All others who heard them had to be rendered mute so they couldn’t repeat music not meant for their tongues.

“Do you think you have sacrificed more than I?” She turned to face him. “I submitted to the brutish duke’s bed for years. I gave birth to a child of rape. All so I could remain near the Stone. I performed the rites faithfully every new moon for decades. And for what, I ask you? The power of the Stone remains trapped behind the shield the demon Armunn created from his own soul. That shield can’t be destroyed. I have dedicated my life to trying, but it is impossible. The Soul Stone won’t live again!”

Erick mewed again and looked toward the tapestry on the wall. It showed the map of the desert of Sehra, to the south of Korthlundia, where her people had lived in exile since Armunn and his hordes had trapped the Stone and then driven them from their homeland. Blinking back tears of despair, she turned from him. “Do you think I have forgotten? Every generation fewer of our children are born. Only by returning to the land of our birthright can we be strong again.”

She got up and went to the tapestry, touching it lovingly. “Do you not understand? The dark gods have found me unworthy to be their messenger. I once thought I was the child of the prophecy, the one who would drive the descendants of Armunn’s hordes back across the mountains into Korth and reclaim the land they call Lundia as our own. But I was wrong. I’m an unprofitable servant, an unfit vessel.”

Soul Stone

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

JM: Outlining is for far more organized minds than mine. I’ve never written an outline for anything that wasn’t required by a teacher, and even then I usually wrote the essay first and then outlined it. My process is far more chaotic. Generally, the ideas for stories live in my head for sometime, some times years, before I ever write them down on paper or on the computer screen. In my head, the stories germinate. When I feel so inspired, I begin to write them as the ideas come to me, often in a very disorganized fashion. When the flow stops, I go back and revise and reorganize. Then I revise again and again and again before I’m satisfied with it.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

JM: I find sacrificing the first born child of a field mouse to the goddess Sulis particularly helpful, but it is very difficult to find such an offering, so I usually just pour out an offering of wine and grain. Other than causing wine stains on my carpet by these repeated offerings, I’m not sure I have any quirky writing habits.

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

JM: I’m not at all a planner. The muse must strike for me to write. Most ideas come simply through living my life. Something will happen that sparks an idea in my head.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?

JM: My muse resembles a cat, sometimes pure white and other times as dark as ebony. She will set on my shoulder and whisper into my ear. However, like most cats, she only does this when it suits her. It is impossible to force a cat to behave. My muse is the same.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

JM: Even if becoming a human sacrifice weren’t at issue, I don’t see myself straying far from the fantasy genre. Since I was a small child, it is fantasy that has captured my imagination and helped me to envision a new and different world. I find fantasy both more real and more creative than other genres. The creativity of the setting somehow allows the characters to better reflect real people and real human emotion. Not having to focus on a realistic setting frees up the mind to capture the human spirit.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

JM: I’m not sure there is much of a downside of being a writer. The downside is being an author. The difference being that the writer creates, and the author must bring what is created to an audience. I’d much rather simply write the material and have someone else sell and promote it. However, that isn’t how the process works. If the author doesn’t sell and promote the writer’s work, no one does. While I do believe that a writer should write first and foremost for her own pleasure, I’d really like a broader audience, so as a writer, I must also be an author. I’m better at being a writer.

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

JM: I certainly don’t relish the idea of being stuck in any of my books, and I’d even less like a loved one to be. I’m not always kind to my characters and tend to make their lives difficult. I enjoy a more much peaceful life than I allow them. Of course, my life wouldn’t make a very good novel. Remember the Chinese curse: May you live an interesting life. An enemy, on the other hand, I’d put in The Soul Stone. In my latest novel, the villain attempts to wipe out all life in the joined kingdoms. I could let my enemy deal with the Dead Lands.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

JM: Some people seem to have done it—Danielle Steele, Louis L’Amour, and others write the same story over and over again with a couple of twists and quirks and make a lot of money doing it—so it must be possible to develop such a sure-fire formula, but I don’t have any interest in trying to do so myself. I write what fills my imagination and would grow bored of writing the same book again and again. I write, as I believe all aspiring writers need to, primarily for the love of the process, the joy that creating brings to me. I think such a formula would suck all the joy out of being a writer.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

JM: Becoming rich at writing is about as likely as the high school basketball player’s dreams of going pro. It is extremely difficult to get published, and of those who are published, very, very few make even enough to live on. Sure, you have amazingly successful authors like J. K. Rowling, just as there are amazingly successful basket players like Michael Jordan. But both the Michael Jordans and J. K. Rowlings of the world are a rare occurrence. If you are going to write, you must do it because it is a part of who you are and doing so makes you happy. If you make money, that is an added bonus, but don’t count on it.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

JM: I’ve already done this somewhat in answer to a previous question. The freedom of the fantasy setting allows the writer to delve deep into the human consciousness and truly explore what it means to be human. I think the most important role of literature is to help us understand others who are not like us. Fantasy, when it is well written, does this beautifully.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

JM: Fantasy, adventure, strong women, and what it means to be human.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

JM: I’m not sure I have a favorite work of my own, but the novel I’m working on now is taking me in a new direction. It is urban fantasy rather than high fantasy like my previous novels. The Bull Riding Witch tells the story of a princess from a parallel realm who is placed in the body of a rodeo bull rider from Alabama. Both Daulphina and Joshua are completely lost in their new environments. It has a lot more humor than The Kronicles of Korthlundia and is overall a lighter book.

Jamie-Marchant

About the Author:

Jamie Marchant lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband, son, and four cats, which (or so she’s been told) officially makes her a cat lady. She teaches writing and literature at Auburn University. Her first novel The Goddess’s Choice was released in April 2012 from Reliquary Press. She released Demons in the Big Easy in January 2013. The sequel to The Goddess’s Choice, titled The Soul Stone, will be released in June 2015 from Black Rose Writing. Her short fiction has been published in the anthologies–Urban Fantasy and Of Dragons & Magic: Tales of the Lost Worlds—and in Bards & Sages, The World of Myth, A Writer’s Haven, and Short-story.me.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

Giveaway Details:

There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:

  • A Soul Stone pendant & copy of The Soul Stone (winner’s choice, print or ebook if US, ebook if INT)
  • a $10 Amazon gift card (INT)

 Enter the Giveaway Here!

JGBS Host

Juniper Grove Presents: Ink Calls to Ink by Nathan Crowder

Published July 22, 2015 by admin

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It’s been a while since I’ve profiled an urban fantasy title on here, plus the author agreed to subject himself to my interview process! Should be a fun time all the way around.

Ink-Calls-to-Ink

Title:   Ink Calls to Ink

Author:   Nathan Crowder

Published:  July 23rd, 2015

Publisher:  Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing

Genre:  Urban Fantasy

Content Warning:   PG-13 Violence

Synopsis:

Franklin the Steadfast Soldier saw first hand what the cold indifference of modern London does to a Fictional Personae–a Fict. Refugees from their respective texts, scratching out a meager existence, the Ficts’ only comfort is the weekly Book Fair.

When a determined Knight of the Round Table hires him to find a missing king, Franklin starts to believe a better world could be possible. But the Knight works for the Host of Heaven, and Medea and Judas warn Franklin: One man’s heaven is not heaven for all. There is no place for misfits and villains in this new world order, their crimes are pre-ordained, written into the very fabric of their being.

To protect their city from a holy war, Franklin and his friends must stop the Once and Future King and an army of angels. Will they find the courage to write their own stories, or will they die slaves to their text and the ink in their blood?

GoodReads

***

SJ:Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

NC: I’m a stickler for outlining. While I do allow myself some freewriting on a new project, I always have to break down and outline the whole dang thing or I go off the rails pretty quickly. I’m also addicted to those little Field Notes notebooks. I always have a few on me with a handful of pens so I can jot down any ideas that come to me. Many of those work their way into the project du jour or into future projects. (I just did an inventory of my field bag—ten notebooks, six pens, so I’m ready for anything.)

SJ: Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

NC: I have set days and times when I write. I show up, sit down, and get cracking. I don’t have time to wait for a muse. Sadly, I have no shortage of ideas. Often, the challenge is seeing what idea have legs to go the distance. I write them all down, and most of them go into what I call the “Mental Junk Drawer” where they tumble and spark off other ideas until a strong novel idea is born. And I believe my muse looks like whoever is making my coffee at that moment.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

NC: I try not to play favorites, but I have this short story, a little New Orleans flood ghost story called “None Left Behind” which is my absolute favorite story in the world to read aloud. As for novels, Ink Calls to Ink is the best thing I’ve ever written—yet.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

NC: I’d take out the priest of Cthulhu, pick up his ceremonial dagger, and then challenge the great old ones themselves. I can’t even stick to one genre when I’m writing one genre.

(Note from SJ: Best answer to this question ever.)

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

NC: ”Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a novel.” Trust me. Go anywhere in the world and it comes out that you’re a writer and you’ll get that question. It’s nice that they’re trying to connect, I guess. But my answer is always the same. “Then you should write it.”

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?

NC: Probably the cross-country underground cycle racing mystery Ride Like the Devil because I like road travel. If it were a loved one, probably my novel Cobalt City Blues because it’s fairly hopeful and I’d want them to be happy. Plus, superheroes. But an enemy other than the ones I’ve already written into my stories? Oh heck, I’d put them in “Bethlehem Grove” because the deer men cultists are one of the most unsettling things I’ve ever written.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

NC: Nothing in life is guaranteed except death. If there’s a secret, it would be to keep writing what you want to write. The readers might find you and they might not. But at least you’ll be happy with your own stories.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

NC: Writing sucks. It’s hard. It’s work. It’s like doing homework every day after work for the rest of your life. But having written is the best feeling in the world if you’re willing to put in the time.

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

NC: At the end of the day, most people read to be entertained. And if they open themselves up to that, there are all kinds of opportunities to challenge their perspective of the world. It’s why I’m such an advocate for diverse books. If we see novels with characters who are different then us, it’s easier to see, understand, and accept people whose life experience might be different than ours.

SJ: What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

NC: Compassion. I don’t know if that will happen, but we sure as heck can do with a little more compassion. And I think it’s a quality that shines through my better, more optimistic work.

SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

NC: I’m actually writing something that might be labeled literary fiction right now, which is kind of weird for me. It’s a novel about a group of ordinary people in a neighborhood going through gentrification who are facing the loss of their watering hole, the Local. Rather than give in, they decide to dig in for a fight they can’t possibly win. It’s going well. I hope to have it finished later this year.

***

Thanks for the time and your answers, Nathan! I love the thoughtful responses to these questions, and now I really want to dig into your work!

Nathan-Crowder

Nathan Crowder is a writer of long fantasy and short horror with a love of pop culture and working-class heroes. He currently lives in the Bohemian wilds of Seattle’s Greenwood neighborhood where he blogs about writing, film, and fringe candy, and is known to haunt the local coffee houses, comic shop, dives, and karaoke stages. Nathan lives alone with his cat, Shiva, who is currently managing his career in exchange for fresh kibble.

He has appeared in several anthologies including That Ain’t Right: Historic Accounts of the Miskatonic Valley, Coins of Chaos, and Cthulhurotica.

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