Monthly Archives: July 2014

Author Interview: Landon Porter

Another author interview! Today is with Landon Porter, who writes prose comic fiction as well as fantasy. You can find out more about Landon at his website here:  descendantsserial.com .

landon

 1.  So how did you start writing?

I started very young. My mother used to tell me stories, then have me take over for her. I eventually ended up telling her stories and just never stopped.   The first actual writing I did was in middle school, where I convinced a teacher to let me write a book as independent study.

2.  I saw an article recently about the rising popularity of prose comic books. Do you agree it’s becoming more popular? Why?  

Oh, it’s certainly on the rise. I think the reason is that the mainstream comics aren’t matching up to the movies that are making superheroes cool again. X-Men: First Class and the Avengers are wildly popular, but the actual comics based on them aren’t anything like them anymore. They’re so serious and dreary-dark while lacking the sophistication like more mature fare like The Dark Knight.   So people are looking for superheroes elsewhere and that’s how they find the books. Plus, the movies have inspired a whole new generation of writers to take on the genre.

3.  I understand that Book 4 in your Descendants series just came out. Tell me about the series and the book.  

I’m proud to say that The Descendants is the oldest continuously-running superhero webserial online right now.   The story is an attempt to get the fun but still thoughtful feel I loved from older comics. It follows a group of people born with superpowers after they uncover a plot to kidnap and manipulate teens like them. In the midst of trying to take down that conspiracy, they end up as the defacto protectors of the city they settled in.   Book 4 collects the second half of Volume 2: five stories dealing with newly-established relationships from Book 3  and the return of an old, fan-favorite villain from Volume 1. The most fun part is that this is where the main Descendants Universe first makes contact with the magical world.   It’s a fun ride. There’s plenty of action, but a lot of heart and family beats, which are something I love.

4.  You also have a fantasy series out, the Runebreaker series. What is that about?

Rune Breaker is pretty weird, but that’s why I think people like it. It’s Fantasy, but not the kind of fantasy people are used to. It stars Ru, the titular Rune Breaker, who is a wizard who’s become curse to serve whoever happens across him. He’s… obviously evil and bitter and cruel, which makes it more fun that after serving complete monsters for 5,000 years, he ends up serving a very nice former slave named Taylin.   Ru of course expect to conquer and pillage while Taylin is only concerned about living a normal, free life and refuses to even treat him the way he’s used to being treated. They have to put that aside though because someone even worse than Ru shows up and makes their life difficult.   It’s not a romance by any means. There’s family themes again and a lot of magi-tech and steampunk elements mixed into fantasy, something that’s called Dungeonpunk. Despite it being light, I feel obligated to warn people that it’s violent. Taylin is a seven-foot tall winged woman with super-strength and a sword and Ru is a shapeshifting monster who like stabbing people with his fingers.   There’s a lot of awesome action is what I’m trying to say.

5.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Brandon Sanderson. The man is a machine when it comes to worldbuilding and linking that up to his various magic systems. Everything is always new and fresh without being weird for no reason and it all makes perfect sense in context.   He just puts a lot of thought into his work. For example, in the Stormlight Archive, some writers would just have the storms be bad, but Sanderson made sure the entire ecosystem has evolved to deal with said storms and society is built around dealing with them as well.   That shows thought and willingness to work things out and that’s really th ekind of writer I can respect and want to read.

6.  What’s the strangest research you’ve had to do for a book?

Besides getting up and acting out my combat scenes? Ha.   Let’s see… I think that would be all the crazy materials science I needed to learn for Descendants, not just because it’s set in 2074, but to make sure Alloy, the metal-contoller wouldn’t just win everything instantly. You would be shocked how many elements are actually metal. It’s not just iron and aluminum; potassium, sodium–rubies and emeralds are basically crystals of oxidized metal.   And then trying to find things that aren’t metal, is discover the building material of the future is… dirt. Ceramics maylized out of the exact same type of dirt my house sits on. When 2050 rolls around, I’m going to be rich.

7.  What project are you working on now?

A lot of different ones. The Big One being ‘So I Married A Supervillain’, a dramedy about a man who finds out that his sweet wife of 17 years, mother of his two children, is his world’s most notorious supervillain complete with being dictator of her own country.

8.  What do you think is the future for the literary Superhero genre?  

Diversity.   Not just more characters of non-white and mixed races, genders, sexualities, but diversity in the genre itself. Most people set superheroes in modern cities, but we’re going to see Superhero period pieces, superheroes in sci-fi and fantasy setting, Superhero romance, horror, erotica–everything. It’s a very big genre and people are only now starting to fill it.   I hope you don’t mind, but I’d like to plug a group I belong to: the Pen and Cape Society (penandcapescoety.com) because we are the first literary group for writers in the genre and hopefully, we’re going to be at the forefront of pushing it forward. As a commercial genre,   Superhero was only recognized by the BISAC last year, so there are infinite directions we can go from here. This is what it must have been like back in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s when Asimov and Heinlein were essentially building the bones of modern science fiction. It’s exciting and a bit daunting. I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Review: Bloody Mary, by J. A. Konrath

Konrath

Book:  Bloody Mary

Series: Jack Daniels

Author: J. A. Konrath

Publisher: J. A. Konrath

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Rating: 4 out of 5

I enjoyed the first of the Jack Daniel mystery series, so I picked up the second one. Now I have to preface this review by saying that my introduction into mystery series began when I was nine and I read EVERY SINGLE Nancy Drew book ever written. 126 books, to be exact. That gave me a pretty firm idea of what to expect from a mystery novel. I also enjoy series like Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, which is madcap zany adventure with a healthy dose of humor.

Konrath’s series has humor as well, but it’s also edge of your seat suspense and a little gore as well. I spent a lot of time worrying about the fates of not only the main character, Jacqueline Daniels, but pretty much every person around her from her partner to her mother and both her potential love interests. The bad guy is really bad, and worse, he’s crazy. There’s an interesting subcurrent in the book about mental health covering everything from deciding when it’s time to let others care for you as you get older to mid-life crisis to just plain nutso killer-gone-crazy. I liked how Konrath gave lives and problems to not just the key characters but their friends and family as well. It felt more real.

I think it was because of this that I found Bloody Mary enjoyable. Sure there’s a serial killer. And there’s Jack, trying to catch him. But as they say, the devil’s in the details. This book has some very nice details.

 

Author Interview: Nicholas Andrews

It’s Friday, and that means another indie author interview!  Today I have Nicholas Andrews, fantasy writer with a few series out. You can find out more about Nicholas at his blog here:  www.authornicholasandrews.com .

nicholas

Hey, I appreciate you featuring me on your site.

1.  What first got you into writing?

Oddly enough, it was fantasy-based video games. I was playing The Legend of Zelda, Final Fantasy and Dragon Warrior when I was in elementary school. Most of what I read at the time was for book reports, and I would basically read whatever my mom brought home from her classroom, which tended to be middle-grade horror. I didn’t even know fantasy literature existed yet, but liked it enough through video games to make up my own stories. Eventually I discovered the genre when I began discovering my own reading material, and that’s when the dream of writing books began.

2.  As a reader, what are your favorite kinds of books? Why?

I enjoy fantasy the most because it’s the type of genre that can be anything or a little of everything. You want adventure, action, romance, mystery? You can find it.

3.  I see that you’ve started a new series, the Law of Eight. Tell me about that.

Well, it’s going to be a five-book series. I released the first novel, Secrets of the Stonechaser, back in December 2013. It’s about a mercenary named Nerris who used to be part of a famous group of adventurers. He is at a point of absolute despair in his life, but finds a purpose in attempting to guide the conscience of the leader of a rebel army, Lady Qabala, a young woman who walks the edge of morality in many ways.

Eventually Nerris meets up with his old friends and they decide to go on one last treasure hunt, along with a mysterious sorceress named Len-Ahl. Of course, they then find themselves on a journey, caught up in momentous events that will end up shaping the fate of the world. I released Book 2, Follow the Faery Footpath, last month and it continues the story of their journey.

4.  Is all your fantasy set in the same world? Why or why not?

The Law of Eight and my novelette series The Thrillseekers: Cadets of Gauntlet are in the same world. Cadets of Gauntlet is a prequel, taking place fourteen years before the main series. It shows Nerris and the Thrillseekers’ lives before they were famous as they attend a famous fighting school.

The Adventurers is its own separate world, due to the light, humorous nature of the stories. Though in a fantasy setting, the world more closely resembles ours in the way people think and live. They enjoy a lot of the same things we do in the modern day, such as rock music, fast food, pro wrestling, television, etc. but use magic to get around technological issues.

5.  What kind of process do you go through in writing each book?

First I make an outline that I never finish. I get two-thirds of the way through before I get bored, but I usually know how it’s going to end anyway. I’m writing the third book in The Law of Eight, and I think this is the first time I’ve actually finished an outline. But so much stuff goes down, especially toward the last half of the book, that I needed to get it all on paper so I could figure out what story beats should go where. There’s also a bit of seat-of-my-pants writing going on if I get a new idea or I realize something’s not working.

Next, I write the rough draft itself, posting chapters as I go on a writing critique site I belong to, to get feedback and catch mistakes. I tend to revise as I go, so I don’t write in terms if second or third drafts. Then I’ll give myself some time off from the manuscript so I can look at it with fresh eyes. After that, I give myself a month or two to make revisions before letting someone else look at it. At some point in the interim I take care of cover design. When all that’s done, I pick a release date.

6.  Tell me what you’re working on next.

Like I said, I’m working on the third book in The Law of Eight, and I’m aiming for an early 2015 release. The third installment of Cadets of Gauntlet should be out within the next couple of months.

7.  What is something that would surprise your readers to know?

That I’ve actually been writing since I was about twelve, so close to twenty years. But it took me until my mid-twenties until I began to write anything even remotely publishable. I wrote the first version of Secrets of the Stonechaser between age 17-21, but it only ended up being 64,000 words, barely even a novel. It moved through things too fast, and while I wouldn’t call the writing awful, I just hadn’t matured yet as a writer. I knew if I wanted to do this right that I would need to rewrite it completely from the ground up.

So that’s what I did a few years back, and now it’s about 110,000 words, everything is much more fleshed out, pace, characters and dialogue have improved, and is much better off for taking the time and effort to do that. Some of the responses I’ve gotten have validated that. For example, someone tweeted to me that it was one of the best fantasy books they’ve ever read. Of course, they didn’t rule out that it may have been one of the ONLY fantasy books they’ve ever read, but I’ll take what I can get.

8.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Don’t publish before you’re ready. It’s not just validation from beta readers or editors that determine when you’re ready. It’s something you have to ask yourself and dig deep down to answer honestly. The downside of self-publishing is that a lot of rough drafts and bad writing get thrown up on Amazon way before the stories are ready, or before the writer’s skills have matured. Most of these stories get bad reviews and sink to the bottom of the charts. The writers then get discouraged because they’re not making any money and everyone is telling them their writing stinks. Many give up at that point. You don’t want to be this writer.

Publishing and writing is a long game. It took me sixteen years before I truly felt I was ready to publish, and three years later I’m still not making much money at it. But I’m not quitting. I believe you have a better chance at making a living if your writing is already at an optimal level when you hit publish. And don’t use adverbs. (Wait, that’s someone else…)

Author Interview: J. J. DiBenedetto

Time for another interview and some great paranormal romance. Meet J. J. DiBenedetto, who released the seventh book in series in May and has the eighth book coming out in October. You can find out more about DiBenedetto on the blog here: http://www.writingdreams.net .

dreams

1. How did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve always been interested in writing, at least since high school.  I was just never able to finish anything, not until a few years after college, when I completed the first draft of what would become “Dream Student”.  But it wasn’t very good, and I let it sit for over a decade, until I came back to it and rewrote it from the first page into (I’d like to think) a pretty good book.

2.  What sorts of fiction do you read, and why?

Almost anything, really.  My first love is science fiction, but I’ll look at just about any genre.  Really, it’s about the quality of the writing — does it draw me into the author’s world?  Do I want to get to know the characters better?  Do I think about them after I’ve finished the book?  Any book that can do those things is good by me, regardless of what it’s about.

3.  I see that you have a paranormal series out, with the latest book, Dream Home, just out in May. Tell me about the book and the series.

“Dream Home” is the seventh book in my Dream Series.  The books follow Sara Alderson, who’s a pretty ordinary woman — except that she can step into other people’s dreams.  We first meet her just when the dreams begin, while she’s in college, and the books each jump ahead in time.  She’s in medical school in book two, she’s a resident in book three, and so on.  In “Dream Home” she’s just taken her family to a new town, and she’s starting a job at the local hospital.  She’s having some problems fitting in, her co-workers resent her — and she’s visiting dreams again, especially one old man’s visions of a storm that will wipe out the whole town. The books are a mix.  There’s romance, in the relationship between Sara and her husband; there’s mystery, with a new problem she sees in her supernatural dreams in every book; and there’s the humor and heart and challenges of everyday life that she has to balance with her dreams.

4.  What made you decide to write a paranormal series?

I didn’t really decide — this is the idea that came to me.  The genesis of it was thinking about the whole “amateur sleuth” genre and trying to come up with a good explanation for why all these people in these books and movies don’t just go to the police when they suspect that their neighbor is a murderer — like most of us would do!  My answer was: when the only proof was in your head, because you saw it in somebody else’s dream.  If you saw the criminal dreaming about his crime, or where he hid the loot from the robbery (or the body from the murder), what could you tell the police?  If you wanted to do something about it, you’d have to find some concrete, real-world proof first, to bring with you to the police. The character of Sara came straight from that idea, and she didn’t change much from that to the final version of the first book of the series (she’s changed a lot over the seven books, though!)

5.  Who is your favorite writer and why?

Mark Helprin.  “Winter’s Tale” is the best book I’ve ever read, without any question.  His use of language is just amazing — his prose is so beautiful, I would kill to write one-tenth as well as he does.

6.  Your author page mentions growing up in Yonkers. Do you think your childhood contributed in any way to your writing, and if so, how?

Only in the general sense that everything I’ve experienced goes into what I write.  There’s nothing specific from my childhood that I can point to.  College is a different story; the setting for “Dream Student” (the first book of the series) is pretty much my college, at the time I was there, with the names changed.

7.  What are you working on next?

I’m working on the next two books in the Dream Series.  “Dream Vacation” will be out on October 31st, and “Shattered Dream” will be out in the spring of 2015.

8.  Branding is so important for a writer’s success. How did you go about branding your series?

Partly, it’s just the titles that do that — the “Dream” theme linking all of them.  I also changed the covers on all the books, and they are much more tightly branded now.  The original covers were done by a local artist, who hand-painted them based on my initial sketches.  They were beautiful, and she did a fantastic job…and they did absolutely nothing to sell the books, unfortunately.  The new covers really bring all the books together.

9.  What advice do you have for other writers?

Write.  And keep writing.  Really, that’s the only advice I’m qualified to give! Thanks!

New short story pack out! Paranormal love story

Out today! Two paranormal stories with Asian influences: The Wish: A Paranormal Short Story Two Pack, available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Wish-Paranormal-Short-Story-Pack-ebook/dp/B00M14V2V4/ .

the wish cover 350

Okay let me get one thing straight. My latest short story pack, “The Wish” is a paranormal love story. NOT a paranormal romance. They’re not the same thing. Don’t be expecting vampires and werewolves, because it’s not that kind of story. Ever read “The Monkey’s Paw?” This is more like that. Jodi is in love with her best friend Tanya. But Tanya only has eyes for Roger. As the wedding date nears, Jodi desperately hopes to open her friend’s eyes to see that even if she doesn’t love Jodi back, Roger’s not the right guy for her.

That’s when she prays to the Japanese Goddess of joy and happiness, Uzume.

And Uzume offers her a wish. The question is whether the wish will grant her happiness, or misery.

 

The second story, “Reflections of Chi” is about interior decorator Geneva Woo who specializes in using Feng Shui to organize the flow of chi or energy through a home for the most benefit to inhabitants. A woman shows up in her office demanding help.

Her house is rearranging itself–the very rooms are changing positions. And the situation is becoming dangerous.

 

A short excerpt from “Reflections of Chi” Continue reading

Author Interview: Jennifer R. Povey

I’ll be doing author interviews on Thursdays and Fridays for the next several weeks. So today I’m featuring Jennifer R. Povey, a hybrid author who has done both traditional and indie publishing. You can find out more about Jennifer at her website here:  http://www.jenniferrpovey.com/.

skeptic

1. What first got you interested in writing?

I’ve just…always been a writer. I have a small collection of (bad) poetry, some of which I wrote in grade school. For some reason I gave up poetry and now write everything but. Go figure. But I really don’t remember how I got “interested” in writing. It’s something I’ve always done, with varying degrees of success.

2. I see you published a collection of science fiction stories back in March. Tell me about that.

(The Skeptic and Other Glimpses) This book is what I call a “micro-collection.” It’s six very short stories (one of them is only 300 words). They were all published in various periodicals – with the title story “The Skeptic” appearing in Analog, but are no longer available through those outlets, so I thought I’d put them out there for people to read. I’m probably going to do more of them as time goes on and my backlist grows.

3.  I also hear you have a blog about horses! I actually grew up with horses, so I’ll have to check it out. Tell me about your interest in that.

The blog is my answer to the feeling I get that there are two kinds of fantasy writers – ones who ride regularly and know everything, and ones who don’t know which end gets the peppermints. So the blog, “Do Horses Neigh When They Run?” is aimed at other writers and role players who need to know more about horses and other equines to make their fiction more realistic. I don’t claim it’s perfect, but I do my research and it covers things like what different colors are called, why you actually would not ride your super speshul magical sentient horse bareback (A bit of a peeve of mine), how long mares are pregnant for, etc.

4.  What about science fiction interests you?

Science fiction is the literature of the possible. (Fantasy is the literature of the impossible, or at least the unlikely). Science fiction is time travel. It’s imagining how the future might be either to look at things we might want to steer towards…or things we might want to avoid. It also has a lot of possibilities for adventure and conflict.

5.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Oh, I have to pick just one? (I hate favorite questions, a trait I apparently share with Dr Who actress Billie Piper). So I’m going to cheat. I have a special place in my heart for The Good Doctor (Isaac Asimov). More recently, I always recommend the work of Vernor Vinge and C.J. Cherryh. On the fantasy side, George R.R. Martin for sure. So, yeah. I cheated. Sorry.

6.  I see an alien theme in your fiction. What do you really think would happen if a spaceship showed up on someone’s doorstep?

Depends on whether they read science fiction! If not, then I suspect the guns would come out, unfortunately. Humans have a lot of knee jerk xenophobia. And it might also depend on the aliens. The aliens in my novel Transpecial are so creepy people tend to shoot at them, but an alien that looked like an Ewok…or E.T….might get a better reaction. But I also think there are quite a few people now (and most of them science fiction readers) who would invite the alien in and ask if coffee was poisonous to them. I hope so, anyway.

7.  What are you working on next?

Strange Voyages is my current big project – it’s an RPG supplement I co-wrote with Emlyn Freeman which will be released by Occult Moon in, probably, October – we had a successful kickstarter and are working on the art. We’re also editing a tie-in anthology with the assistance of Occult Moon’s head editor, Quinn Conklin, which should also be out around the end of the year. This is a learning experience and I’m hoping one day to edit a couple of anthologies myself. And I do have a couple of finished novels that I’m shopping to small presses – if I don’t get some joy by the end of the year I may look into self-publishing one of them.

8.  What have you learned about publishing so far?

That things take time. That editors are on your side (mostly). That contracts should be read carefully – and even then stuff can happen (such as a magazine buying a story, publishing it, then going out of business three days later without paying me…thankfully, it was only a short story). And above all that writers need a thick skin to deal with both rejections and the inevitable criticism. You’re going to get bad reviews. You’re going to get people tell you your work absolutely sucks. Or accuse you of nasty things because of the racism, sexism, homophobia or other negative traits that might find their way into characters, especially villains. So, you have to be able to deal with all of that – and I think that’s the most important thing, really. Grow a thick skin and learn to deal with criticism of not just your work but sometimes your person.

Author Interview: K.J. Bryen

After a discussion over on Kboards.com, I decided to start up the weekly indie/small press author interview series again!  You may recognize a face or two, but most of these writers have not appeared on my blog. Check them out!

Today’s interview is with K. J. Bryen, who is debuting with her first book out on September 12. You can find out more about the book and author at her webpage here:  http://kjbryen.moonfruit.com/

lokte

1.  So what made you want to write a book?

Hi and thanks for having me here! I’ve always wanted to write a book, ever since I was old enough to write. It’s always been my dream.

2.  I understand your first novel, a supernatural thriller, is coming out in September. What can you tell me about it?

Lokte follows Marianne Garcia, a struggling actress in New York City. For her, everything seems hopeless; until she meets Logan Lokte. Logan offers her everything she has ever dreamed of. All she has to do in return is sign a contract. Marianne doesn’t believe in magic or miracles. Yet, one thing soon becomes clear to her: Logan Lokte is not a normal man. The decision she makes sends them both plunging into a spiral where choices become crucial, and evil comes from within.

3.  What made you interested in this genre?

I’m honestly not sure. I hadn’t read much of this genre prior; I just had an idea and I ran with it. I only found out after finishing it that my novel was comparable to the genre that Ted Dekker and Frank Peretti dominate; Christian Supernatural Thrillers.

4. Supernatural seems big these days. Why do you think that is?

You know, I’ve wondered that myself. I know that the supernatural has always drawn me, ever since I was a kid. It’s just great stuff to wonder and dream about. It takes you to a whole new reality where anything can happen.

5.  Besides writing, what other things interest you?

I pretty much love anything where I can be creative. I especially love singing and acting, which I was involved with immensely in high school. I also like cooking, reading, design, party planning, drawing, etc.

6.  Who is your favorite writer, and why?

Oh, that’s a hard question! I honestly don’t know. There’s too many good writers to choose from. I will say, my favorite supernatural thriller writer so far would probably be Ted Dekker; my favorite young adult author right now is Libba Bray.

7. What are you working on next?

I’ll actually be shifting genres with my next project. I’m working on a young adult horror series, which I’m very excited about! After that, I have another supernatural thriller in mind.

8.  Who in your life do you think had the greatest impact on you, and why?

Maybe this is cliche, but I would have to say my parents. Seriously, if they hadn’t been so supportive of my dreams growing up, I wouldn’t be where I’m at. They made me believe that I was capable of anything.

9.  What have your learned so far on your publishing journey? Any advice for other writers out there?

I’ve learned so much, and I’m still learning every day. My biggest advice I guess would be to become the best writer you can be. Seek criticism, and use the advice you think is helpful. Also, when trying to spread the word about your book, I’ve found the best way to do that is to really connect with people. Meet people and get to know them first. Then, if they like you as a person, they’ll probably want to read your book.