Audiobook & Ebook Giveaway: Interview with Natalie Wright, Author of the H.A.L.F. Series

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Natalie Wright. I recently met her at Albuquerque’s Bubonicon where we spent close to an hour talking about books (of course!). It’s my great pleasure to have her on the blog today. Enjoy! Scroll to the bottom for the ebook and audiobook giveaway of Books 1 & 2 of her H.A.L.F. series.

If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

This one is hard because I love so many movies and shows! I’m a huge Star Wars nut, so it would be great to be an extra in a Star Wars movie. I’d love to be cast as a Jedi knight, swinging a light saber in the background. But given my short, squat stature and lack of athleticism, they’d probably cast me as an Ewok!

I also love Game of Thrones and would love to wear a beautiful silk gown and perhaps be a lady-in-waiting in a court. But given my flaming hair and Celtic genes, they’d probably cast me as a Stygian-witch sort of character, wearing rough-spun peasant clothes and gathering herbs or brewing potions.

If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?

Wow, that’s a great question! I think it would be A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Of course she is no longer with us, so it’s not going to happen! But that book was so influential to me as a child. It was the first science fiction book that I ever read and it opened a world of possibility for me.

It’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

Ooohh, a delicious question. I’m a huge fan of the Bard so I’d have to invite William Shakespeare. And since I’m inviting dead people, I’d also invite Charles Dickens, Madeleine L’Engle (and hopefully get that autograph we talked about ;-), and Robert Jordan (author of the Wheel of Time series). And speaking of the Wheel of Time, I’d love to meet my current book boyfriend, Rand Al’Thor in person so I’d invite him (so long as he promises not to channel the One Power and burn anything down).

But who wants a party with only dead people? I loved The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and I think she’d get along nicely with the ghost guests. Another favorite and all-around cool lady, I’d love for Anne Rice to attend. I think I owned at least one copy of every one of Anne’s books when I was in my 20’s and 30’s. And of course J.K. Rowling. I mean come on, any book party has to include the icon that pretty much created the YA genre. Finally, I’d want to meet Suzanne Collins. I’d love to pick her brain about many aspects of The Hunger Games trilogy.

We can discuss only three books?! Impossible!

Given the folks in attendance, it would be fun to compare and contrast the young protagonists/heroes of Hamlet, Harry Potter and Rand from Wheel of Time. And wouldn’t it be cool to get William Shakespeare’s opinions on Katniss Everdeen? Okay, that’s four books.

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

The invention that I want is teleportation. I’m ridiculously curious and want to see everything and love to travel and see new things. Even if I had an unlimited purse, the time (and pain in the arse) of travel makes it a drag. Wouldn’t it be cool if we could get into a telephone booth-type gadget and like Dr. Who, basically instantly and relatively painlessly travel to another part of the world? Or even another part of the galaxy?

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Okay, I’ve had some crappy jobs. Right up there was the summer between my senior year of high school and college when I worked at a SuperAmerica gas station/convenience mart (like a Circle K for west coasters). Absolute worst thing ever? Working on July 4 and a biker gang stopped and all of them used the toilet. I refuse to speak of what I had to clean up in that restroom!

The most difficult job though was my twenty years as a divorce lawyer. Better pay than the convenience mart job and I didn’t have to clean nasty bathrooms! But it was emotionally intense. I enjoyed helping people, but it was hard to be involved in rancor day-in and day-out.

Writing has its own difficulties, but I truly love every aspect of my writing life. I even like editing.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

Being a big fan of The Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, I was super excited last year when I found out he would be at Bubonicon in Albuquerque. I had a table in the vendor area that was right across from George’s bookstore and though he didn’t work the table, he popped in from time-to-time to chat with the folks running it for him. I had several chances over the three days to at least say hello. I watched as other people approached him, respectfully, to get autographs.

I sat at my table and each time he walked by, it was like I had been hit by a spell that made me mute! I couldn’t even speak or make eye contact! I was so afraid of sounding like a babbling idiot that I didn’t even say hello.

Maybe next year I’ll work up the nerve to at least say hi.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

I travel quite a bit to appear at sci-fi/fantasy cons, comic cons and book festivals. My next travel will be in late September for Salt Lake Comic Con. It’s my favorite large con (around 120,000+ people attend). It’s a gathering of nerds and geeks from all over the northwestern US and lots of readers! I’ll also be at Tucson Comic Con (TusCon) and the Mesa Book Festival this year.

Now that I’ve finished writing the H.A.L.F. series—which I worked on for seven years!—I’m free to explore anything. Exciting! I’m toying with the idea of writing a spin-off from the H.A.L.F. series involving the M’Uktah culture on their planet. I’m also developing an epic high fantasy series, but I’m keeping the details of that one quiet for now. If it goes as I envision, I think readers are going to love it.

About Author Natalie Wright:

Natalie is the author of the award-winning science fiction series H.A.L.F., and The Akasha Chronicles, a popular young adult fantasy trilogy with over 2 Million reads on Wattpad. She lives in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, teen daughter, and two cat overlords.

Natalie spends her time writing, reading, geeking out over nerd culture and cool science, and meeting readers and fans at book festivals and comic cons throughout the western United States. Natalie appears frequently on radio, podcasts and vlogs such as The Speculative Fiction Cantina, Front Row Geeks and iHeart Radio.

Website ~ NewsletterFacebook ~ Pinterest ~ Instagram ~ GoodReads ~ Twitter

Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Deep Beneath, Book 1:

H.A.L.F. 9 has taken his first breath of desert air and his first steps in the human world. Created to be a weapon, he proved too powerful for his makers and has lived a sedated life hidden from humans. But H.A.L.F. 9 has escaped the underground lab he called home, and the sedation has worn off. He has never been more alive. More powerful. Or more deadly.

Erika Holt longs to ride her motorcycle east until pavement meets shore. She bides her time until graduation when she’ll say adios to the trailer she shares with her alcoholic mother and memories of her dead father. But a typical night in the desert with friends thrusts Erika into a situation more dangerous than she ever imagined.

Circumstances push the two together, and each must make a fateful choice. Will Erika help H.A.L.F. 9 despite her “don’t get involved” rule? And will H.A.L.F. 9 let Erika live even though he was trained to kill?

The two may need to forget their rules and training and if either is to survive the dangers of the deep beneath them.

Amazon ~ Audible

Synopsis of H.A.L.F. The Makers, Book 2:

Roswell. Area 51. The X-Files.

You’ve seen the aliens known as “the Greys” in movies and on TV. But what if everything you think you know about them is wrong?

And what if the Greys are only the beginning?

On a nondescript planet on the far side of the galaxy, the M’Uktah have evolved from a wolf-like predatory creature into a highly advanced species that has mastered intergalactic travel. They are cultured. Refined.

And hungry.

Erika Holt dodged death and departed Earth in an alien ship. It wasn’t how she’d planned to spend her senior year. Is she on her way to paradise? Or to a hell worse than the underground lab she escaped?

The greys rescued Tex from A.H.D.N.A. and have promised him a life he could never have imagined. But what will he have to give up to become one with the Conexus?

Jack Wilson is still Commander Sturgis’ prisoner but a promise of freedom comes from an unlikely source. Will his liberation cost more than he’s willing to pay?

Commander Sturgis has the vindication she craved and the alien war she prepared for. But while she cleans up the mess the aliens left behind, The Makers have other plans for Sturgis and her prized creation, Alecto.

Caught up in their personal battles, will any of them realize the threat that looms over us all before it’s too late?

Amazon ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Each winner will be allowed to choose either Book 1 or Book 2 of the H.A.L.F. series. There will be 2 ebook winners and 2 audiobook winners. That’s 4 winners total! Giveaway is open international. Ends October 16, 2017, midnight. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Who are some of your favorite science fiction authors? If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why? Leave a way to contact you.

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Interview: Scott Rhine, Author of the Military SF Novel Void Contract

Folks, please give a warm welcome to author Scott Rhine. We chat about what authors we’d want by our sides in difficult times or in a classroom, first book, and plenty more. Enjoy!

1) If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

The Lost Room. My character would give out the items to people who ask me for handouts on the street.

2) If you could give any literary villain a happy ending who would you chose?

Jaime in Game of Thrones. I would have had him realize that Brienne could rock his world.

3) What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Carrying a beeper for software customer support and having workers in India page me when they had any questions at all. It gave me an ulcer. Writing may have ups and downs, but creating relieves stress.

4) You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Allen Steele, hard sci-fi expert who has written a lot on space.
Carl Sagan, because he knows a little about everything science and math.
Robert Heinlein because I think he actually worked with radar in WWII.

5) If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

NF
Strunk and White’s “Elements of Style”
Stephen King’s “On Writing”
Campbell’s “The Power of Myth”

SHORTS/HISTORY
Arthur C Clarke’s “Tales from the White Hart”
Asimov’s “I Robot”
Card “Ender’s Game” the short story.
Gibson “Burning Chrome”

FIC
Zelazny’s “Lord of Light” for incorporating myth.
Kress’s “Beggars in Spain” for taking a simple idea to the furthest extent.
Vinge’s “A Fire on the Deep”
Niven/Pournelle “Mote in God’s Eye”
Haldeman “There is No Darkness”
Williams “Voice of the Whirlwind”
Stephenson “Snow Crash”

mention:
Heinlein “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress”
Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse 5”
Simmon’s “Endymion”
Brinn “Startide Rising”
Vance “Languages of Pao”

6) Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

I correspond about once a year with LE Modesitt. I’m a huge fan. When I told him that I modeled the Batman feel of my latest novel “Quantum Zero Sentinel” after his “Flash/Archform” world, he asked me to send him a copy of the paperback.

It’s an awesome world.

7) What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

The best strategy for getting experience points in Pokemon Go. My kids both backed me against my wife, who values each monster she has nurtured and doesn’t want to trade any.

8a) Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works?

Guildenstern and Rosencrantz
The dagger in Brust’s Jhereg series

8b) What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

In “Foundation for the Lost”, Eoin goes on a front-lawn Santa hunt with a baseball bat and a pack of Guinness. I end up reading that scene when I visit the local library for events. Elves who hate Santa strike people as funny.

In “Empress of Dreams”, one of mothers of a contestant is the ultimate dirty-tricks mistress. You just have to love Lady Evershade because she is so committed and scares the tar out of the heroes. Though she is a pure product of her culture, and the ideal aristocrat’s wife.

9) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

10) You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

Ang from Last Airbender. If I could make it funny, he’d help me win.

About Author Scott Rhine:

Scott Rhine wanted to find a job that combined his love of reading with math problem solving, so he studied both short stories and computer languages. As a techno-gypsy, he worked on optimizing some of the fastest and largest supercomputers in the world. A couple of degrees, patents, and children later, at forty-eight, he still didn’t know what he wanted to be when he grew up. When his third publication, “Doors to Eternity,” hit #16 on the Amazon epic fantasy list, he decided to become a full-time author. Since then, each book of his “Jezebel’s Ladder” series hit the high-tech science fiction top 100. His new medical thriller, “the K2 Virus,” is his highest rated novel with the first 12 reviews ranking it five stars.

Humor is a part of every story he writes because people are funny, even when they don’t think so. In the real world, something always goes wrong and people have flaws. If you can’t laugh at yourself, someone is probably doing it for you. Strong female characters also play a major role in his stories because he’s married to a beautiful PhD who can edit, break boards, and use a chainsaw.

Website | Facebook

Synopsis of Void Contract:

Max Culp escaped his low-tech home world by serving in the marines as a medic. Unable to adapt to civilian life as a medical intern, he joined Special Forces to track down the Phib war criminals who caused his recurring nightmares. By the time the final Phib is captured, Max has become an urban legend among the aliens. He isn’t sure how to apply those skills to a new life until someone kidnaps his last surviving friend.

Audible ~ Amazon

Book Giveaway & Interview: Ryan Hyatt, Author of Rise of the Liberators

Join me in welcoming Ryan Hyatt to the blog! He’s the author of Rise of the Liberators, as well as his science fiction novel Stay Younger Longer. Don’t miss out on his thriller, The Death of Rock and Roll. GIVEAWAY!!! Scroll to the bottom for the chance to win a signed copy of either the military SF Rise of the Liberators or the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer.

The public library of your dreams has arrived! What special collections does it hold? 

I think I’d have to go heavy on this one … the library of my dreams would contain the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts

I wouldn’t be able to read them, of course, because they’d be written in languages I don’t know, but I’m assuming there’d be scholars on hand in this awesome library who would be wiling to translate these books for me, so I could ask them questions like this: Who was the author of the Bible, really? How does the original draft of the Bible compare to the one people read nowadays in Sunday school? Have any important parts been changed or omitted? Which parts, and why do you think so?

Depending on the answers, more questions might follow: Is it fair to conclude that the Bible really is the word of God, then, because it sounds to me like a lot of people have had their hand in writing and revising this thing? Therefore, how can I be sure God exists, if even the author(s) of His book have come into question? And if God does exist, regardless of who writes His books, who created God, then?In fact, how can there be anything at all  — the stars, the ocean, my laundry, myself? In other words, how can anything come from nothing, including us?

Yet here I am, here we are. These concerns would likely bring me to the final question I’d have for the scholars about the original draft of the Bible and the world’s other religious texts …

How am I to believe in a book whose truths easily contradict my own line of questioning about them? Thus, can I conclude is life a miracle, a charade, or a little of both? To which I would listen attentively to the scholars’ response. I have a lot of questions on this topic, obviously, and some I suspect they wouldn’t be able to easily answer …

And that’s okay, because I’ve had these questions all of my life, but having access to the original drafts of the world’s great religious texts might shed some light on those who wrote these amazingly beautiful and terrifying stories, and perhaps help me and others think better about and beyond them.

What decade from the last century would you pick to have been a teenager in?

Easy. I always wanted to write a science fiction story about a Rock ‘n’ Roll fan (like me) who obtains a time machine and uses it to travel into the past to see all of the great concerts he’s missed over the years …

Therefore, the decade I’d choose to live in as a teen would be the sixties — an era of passion and protest and an explosion of the music I love, thanks to millions of youth who dared to make the world a better place. I’d hit up Woodstock the Monterrey Music Festival … I’d see bands like Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Rolling Stones and David Bowie before they were broken up or taken from this Earth or too old to care who wanted to see them play …

Perhaps these concert-hopping visits would be part of my investigation into some of the cosmic conspiracies associated with those famous rockers that died that same decade all at the same sweet young age — the famous ’27 Club’ — musicians like Jimi HendrixJanis Joplin and Jim Morrison

The sixties would probably provide the most bang for the buck for a sound junkie like me, closely followed by the punk rock and funk of the seventies, where maybe I could make a pit stop before returning the present?

If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

Back to the Future — Now there’s a funny, family-oriented film similar in theme to the eighties when it was released and worth a review — for me, at least — because that was the magical decade of childhood, a glorious time when suburbs were cool and my friends and I wore netted tank tops and Velcro pants and rode around our neighborhood on Gordon & Smith skateboards, the beginning and ending of innocence …

The Matrix — I’d also like to experience the power of this this film the first time all over again, because it was the first time in my young adulthood that I noticed that Hollywood was starting to finally gamble a little bit and put out edgy sci-fi movies that managed to be both thoughtful and entertaining. I wrote a short story, “Cerebral Cathedral,” years before The Matrix was released, which many of my friends read growing up, eerily similar to the movie — minus the bad-ass action and special effects, of course. (I dare say, the Wackowskis did it better). Still, seeing that movie on the big screen for the first time made me realize that maybe my writing was something others might enjoy, too.

Now we have Game of Thrones, Westworld, and The Man in the High Castle, of course, which makes me feel anything awesome is possible in entertainment, as long as Hollywood continues to give awesome a chance!

What future invention would you like to see not only created during your life time, but readily available to the public?

Artificially-intelligent bobbleheads, such as Mr. T, Hulk Hogan, Lady GagaVoltron, Kevin Hart or the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which follow their owners around wherever they go and provide them with constant companionship, amusement and advice. These walking talking gizmos would be so distracting, they would not only help ween people off their smart phones for a minute, but they would also allow them to maintain moral standing in a world of ever-changing choices and possibilities, modern sages made in the image of pop culture icons — and to each of our own choosing — that guide us through this overly-complicated existence we have created for ourselves. They’d be available for $500 online or at the local shopping mall.

What has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

I’ve worked a lot of terrible jobs in my lifetime, too many to count, and most in a pitiful effort to support myself as I write. Nonetheless, in one of my more desperate hours, I signed up with a temp agency to work in a call center on behalf of a famous Los Angeles fitness infomercial guru. I sat side by side a bunch of fellow losers, artists and misfits. We were comrades in customer service!

The first part of our job: when people called to place their orders, we charged them for additional items such as vitamins, video tapes, leotards, jump ropes that they never asked for or wanted or might ever use, and then the second part of our job: refuse to refund their money to them when they called to complain and yell and scream about what we did and how it was so wrong, explaining to them calmly and casually instead that we were “just doing our job.”

I quit at the end of my first day, but it was that first real powerful and ridiculous taste of mindless conformity — a taste of hell, really — which so many billions of people have to put up with every day on this planet, listening to dumb-ass bosses and Presidents of countries in order to put food on our tables and a roof over our heads for ourselves and our loved ones — that made me want to fight and resist in whatever way I could, even if it meant just writing a story once in a while about someone who fights and resists a little better than me, or worse.

You are stuck in space in dire straights. Which science fiction authors would you want with you?

Philip Dick and Kurt Vonnegut: we may not return alive, but we’d laugh trying.

If you could sit down and have dinner with 5 dead authors, who would you invite to the table? What would they order?

The two above, plus Hunter S. Thompson, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Henry Miller. They’d order two tofu steaks, whiskey, escargo, and strippers. It may not be the best meal I’d ever have, but I’m sure it would be an interesting one.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)?

My grandfather, Arthur Hyatt, World War II and Korean war hero, a man of great humility and loving family patriarch, definitely one of the Greatest Generation. The odds would be a lot more in my favor with him in play.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

In April, I was named a finalist in the 2016 Book Pipeline Competition which “aims to deliver unique, compelling stories to the industry — with the specific intent of getting them on the fast-track to film and television production.”

A bio on me and more information about my award-winning sci-fi novel, Stay Younger Longer, can be found on the Book Pipeline website.

Stay Younger Longer (2015), along with the recent release of Rise of the Liberators (2017), are part of my Terrafide series, techy tales of woe and hope in which the characters grapple with the economic and environmental realities of their world falling apart.

More information about this series can be found on Amazon or Goodreads.

This summer I might take a stab at turning my print books into audiobooks or adapting them into screenplays, but really I want to start another novel in my Terrafide series. We’ll see. I work as a high school English teacher nowadays and have a daughter, so time is limited. We’ll see.

For more updates on the state of the future, visit my satirical sci-fi news site www.thelalalander.com

Places to Follow Ryan Hyatt

Website

Blog

Twitter

Facebook

GoodReads

Amazon

Book Blurb for Rise of the Liberators:

In 2022, the United States is in the throes of the Greatest Depression, and discharged Marine Corps Captain Ray Salvatore, a 34-year-old father and husband, must either allow his family’s poverty to continue or accept an employment offer to lead a band of military misfits with a new secret weapon into war in the Middle East.

Amazon

Book Blurb for Stay Younger Longer

Dick White, a 28-year-old Los Angeles bachelor and journalist, is put in peril after he learns a popular anti-aging drug called Euphoria is a biological weapon, leaving Dick to find the eccentric criminal who has developed a cure that might save countless lives, including his own.

Amazon

Book Blurb for The Death of Rock and Roll

Talented guitarist Darrell Breedlove is caught in the crosshairs of jealous psychopath Jake McKenzie, forcing Darrell to reconcile his past in order to embrace a promising future.

Amazon

GIVEAWAY!!!

Ryan Hyatt is offering up 3 signed copies of the military SF Rise of the Liberators and 3 signed copies of the futuristic SF Stay Younger Longer. Yep, 6 winners! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: Where do you live? Which book interests you the most? (You can choose a different book later if you win). Optional: Follow Ryan Hyatt any way you want and tell me in the comments how you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 20th, 2017, midnight. Giveaway is limited to the USA due to shipping.

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Signed Book Giveaway & Interview: Jeffrey Bardwell, Author of Broken Wizards

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jeffrey Bardwell. He kindly lets me heckle him with questions and is also offering up 5 signed advanced review copies of Broken Wizards, open internationally! Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

1. If you could be an extra on a TV show or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

If I were a background character, I would be the cheeky voice of experience gleefully hanging lampshades on all the plot holes while the protagonist was walking down the street and pontificating or ordering a pizza. I would be the very astute, very snarky delivery boy who would be stiffed his tip for my troubles.

2. Would you rather have a dragon, or be a dragon?

Fiery breath? Long nails? Flaky skin? I’m half way there already every time I wake up in the morning. I would much prefer to be than to have a dragon. That way, I’d be the one making the messes instead of cleaning them up (of the destructive burning building variety). Any dragon I own will be house trained.

3. As an ecologist, what’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

There are several species of fungi that will invade insects’ bodies and nervous systems and turn them into zombie bugs. I find the concept terrifying. I once had a mentor who could eat a ham sandwich with one hand and perform a blunt dissection with the other, so gore doesn’t really gross me out these days. My nightmare fuel is more psychological and of the body snatchers variety.

4. If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

Um . . . Batman, hands down. Save me, oh knight of darkness!

5. If you could, what book or movie or TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

The one with the most engaging plot twists of course: Game of Thrones. Mostly, I just want to wipe my mind and binge watch the whole series after it’s released while curled up on the couch with the love of my life. Now, where can I find some of that brain-warping fungus?

6. Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

It’s a tie between Sherlock Holmes and Watson and Batman and Robin. I guess it’s no coincidence the the latter are the superhero expies of the former.

7. What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

My den is a semi organized mess. I can usually jot notes, work on revisions, write the bare bones of scenes, and plot novels anywhere. But actually sitting my butt in a chair and writing chapters at a time requires either my desk in the basement or the kitchen table, depending on the weather. I hope to get a proper office organized someday in the guest room, but as they say, hope springs eternal.

8. If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in SFF literature, what books would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Oh, wow. You’re asking that of an ex academic [rubs hands together and grins]. Let’s teach! I would arrange my course around authors rather than books. I guess I would start with Edgar Allen Poe and the intersection of mystery, horror, and fantasy and then look at how different authors have added their own unique spin on SFF over the years. I’d throw in some lesser known authors like James H. Schmitz to show off a few outliers like well-rounded, perceptive female characters. Then, we’d examine common tropes and how they reflect how SFF changes with society and then start deconstructing them. Now that I’ve said all that, I really want to teach that class . . .

9. It’s a long sailing trip: what books make it into your trunk and why?

I admit I would cheat and bring the following: 1) a hand crank generator, 2) an AC/DC converter, 3) a few shrink wrapped ereaders with an eclectic mix of everything I can cram into them, and 4) OK, one or two hardbacks: Starship Troopers and Stranger in a Strange Land by Heinlein and The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I’ve read those multiple times over the years, so I wouldn’t mind being stuck with them when my generator fails or the boat sinks and it’s desert island time.

About Author Jeffrey Bardwell:

Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.
The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: jhbardwell@gmail.com

 

Places to Stalk Jeffrey Bardwell

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Book Blurb about Broken Wizards

Time’s up for mages!

The wizard purge is in full swing. Sorcery is illegal in the modern, steam-powered Iron Empire. The Magistrate’s Black Guards hunt the uncivilized mages using mechanized armor and mysterious, clockwork weapons. The guards deliver their prisoners to the Butcher, Captain Vice. All wizards are tortured and executed as traitors to the state . . . with one exception.

That exception is Devin, an outbreak mage and ex artificer, a prince of machinery. The Magistrate exiles the youth over Vice’s protests to the wild kingdom of wizards and dragons. Devin only knows gears and springs, but his savage magic offers salvation, if he can tame it. The exile must learn to harness his dangerous, new powers before the Butcher tracks him down to finish the job.

Follow Devin’s quest in Book One of The Artifice Mage Saga. Join the fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody’s hands are clean.

Amazon ~ kobo ~ Free Sample

GIVEAWAY!!!

Jeffrey is graciously offering up 5 signed ARCs of Broken Wizards [OPEN INTERNATIONALLY]. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What books would you take on a long sea voyage? 2) Where do you live? Giveaway ends May 10th, 2017, midnight.

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Interview: Michael Meyerhofer, Author of The Godsfall Trilogy

MichaelMeyerhoferAuthorEveryone, please welcome the author of The Dragonkin Trilogy and The Godsfall Trilogy back to the blog today, Michael Meyehofer.

If you could be an extra on a TV series or movie, what would it be and what would you be doing?

Thanks for having me! Well, since it’s too late for me to be an extra on The Next Generation, I guess I’d want to be a Dothraki horse lord on Game of Thrones (minus the torture and murder of innocent shepherds, of course).

MeyerhoferWytchfireWhat makes you cringe?
Melodrama, bullies, emotional crescendos that haven’t been earned. Awkward people (like myself) trying to be sexy.

Is there a genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten its deserved amount of attention?

I’m not sure this counts as a whole niche but one thing I’d like to see in high/epic fantasy is more inclusion of LBGTQ characters. It doesn’t have to be overtly political and heavy-handed; in fact, I think it’s better if it’s done subtly. One of the protagonists in my first trilogy was a gay male, and there are a couple more homosexual characters in the latest novel (The Dragonward), but their sexuality is fairly peripheral, just another aspect of their character. And incidentally, one of my gay characters named Jalist has been mentioned by readers over and over again as their favorite character. So that means, without having to get on any kind of big political soapbox, the novels were able to introduce readers to the prospect of a gay character that they liked simply because he was a good character—which is the whole point.

I’d also like to see more fully realized female characters. That’s something that’s improved a great deal, especially recently (thanks in no small part to GRRM), but honestly, there’s still a big temptation to write female characters in fantasy stories that fit into one of the three old archetypes: 1) the hot female who exists to be hot, 2) the frilly innocent female who exists only to be murdered/raped in order to fuel the male protagonist’s quest for revenge, and 3) the two dimensional swordbro who happens to be a woman. That doesn’t mean that writers can’t play around with these archetypes, maybe take an old idea/trope and put a twist on it, but providing both male and female characters who have actual personalities, including both internal and external conflict, is a good start.

(Whew, just realized I kinda went off on a rant there…)

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

One of my favorites doesn’t exactly gross ME out, but I’ve seen it make others cringe: dust is mostly human skin. In other words, when we clean, we’re basically mopping up tiny pieces of other people’s flesh. And when we have allergies, or if we’re in a dusty room, we’re breathing in—and sneezing—on other people’s arms and elbows.

MeyerhoferKnightswrathIt’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

I’d invite Anne Sexton, the Buddha, and Nikola Tesla to discuss Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye… and maybe just for kicks, Twilight.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

Absolutely! I think the issues raised by art and literature—the politics, for lack of a better word—have always influenced the outside world, but with fantasy and sci-fi, that influence is more readily apparent, simply because those genres have such a huge, thoughtful audience. I’m not just talking about the inspirations that led to us having some of the technology from Star Trek and Back to the Future, but cultural aspects, too. It seems to me that the relatively new acceptance of homosexuality is owed not just to brave real world activists, but the compassionate portrayals of gay and lesbian characters in fiction. The same could be said for female empowerment. Sure, there’s always been a shortage of fully realized female characters, even in sci-fi/fantasy, but those that DO exist have had an enormous, culture-shifting impact, I think.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I remember a book I read as a kid, pretty sure it was The Neverending Story, in which the narrator asks that same question. Introducing reality is good for making your stuff more realistic, of course, but “because it’s realistic” isn’t quite a good enough excuse. There has to be something else going on, some metaphor or plot point that advances the story. For instance, the main character stepping outside the crowded inn to go to visit the outhouse isn’t very interesting, and therefore, isn’t really pivotal to the story. On the other hand, the main character visiting the outhouse and noticing something important on their way back in, or even just musing how the reek of the outhouse is starkly different than the perfume of the pompous nobles celebrating back at the inn… that’s a bit better.

MeyerhoferKingsteelWhat has been your worst or most difficult job? How does it compare to writing?

Ha, funny you ask that, given my answer for the previous question, but one of the most difficult jobs I ever had was collecting urine samples in a treatment center. I only worked there for a few months, but my job was basically to… well, put on rubber gloves, stand there while somebody did their business, then collect said business whilst trying not to look creepy. Often, I was required to use eyedroppers and thermometers and weird space age gadgets to test the sample for drugs or alcohol, while the person was standing right there, glaring at me. In all cases, the difficult part of the job wasn’t actually handling the samples—believe it or not—but trying to appear casual, even tell jokes to try at put the other person at ease as quickly as possible. In a strange way, that job was a good trial run for being a teacher.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

I’ve always wanted the Dragonlance books to be made into a good video game. I’ve played a few versions that were all right, but none that felt truly epic. A version that focused mainly Raistlin’s quest to become a god (and maybe also on Caramon’s quest to protect and/or stop him) would be interesting, too. I’d also like to see a big Game of Thrones-like MMORPG made for Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books.

MeyerhoferTheDragonwardWhat does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

Actually, where and when I write isn’t really all that important, since it changes often. The basic routine is mostly the same, though. Whether I’m home or in a coffee shop somewhere (usually with a few gallons of caffeine within easy reach), I put in headphones, tune out the rest of the world, and basically just force myself to start typing—even if it’s a mess and will require lots of revision later.

Finally, what upcoming events and works would you like to share with the readers?

With The Dragonward out now and its sequel (The Wintersea) forthcoming, I’ve mainly been promoting this new series (The Godsfall Trilogy). When I find the time, though, I work to spread the word about its predecessor, The Dragonkin Trilogy. I’ve been amazed and humbled by the sales and reviews, but as we say in this business, the work never stops. Especially lately, I’m offering free review copies, and possibly even free copies of the audiobook versions to anyone willing to write a review. I don’t think I really understood how important book reviews could be until I started publishing books. They’re basically what keeps us going. So if anybody wants to give The Dragonward and/or the previous Dragonkin Trilogy a try, let me know! I’m happy to provide free review copies, in exchange for a good faith promise to write a fair review.

Places to Find Michael Meyerhofer

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MeyerhoferWytchfireBook Blurb for Wytchfire, Book 1 of The Dragonkin Trilogy: In a land haunted by the legacy of dead dragons, Rowen Locke has been many things: orphan, gravedigger, mercenary. All he ever wanted was to become a Knight of Crane and wield a kingsteel sword against the kind of grown horrors his childhood knows all too well.

But that dream crumbled—replaced by a new nightmare.
War is overrunning the realms, an unprecedented duel of desire and revenge, steel and sorcery. And for one disgraced man who would be a knight, in a world where no one is blameless, the time has come to decide which side he’s on.

MeyerhoferTheDragonwardBook Blurb for The Dragonward, Book 1 of The Godsfall Trilogy: Three years after the War of the Lotus, alliances have already begun to unravel. As Rowen Locke struggles to maintain peace, troubling news reaches him from every corner. Persecution of the Shel’ai has reignited in the south, spurred on by a fanatical priest. To the north, the Isle Knights are withering under the leadership of mad Crovis Ammerhel. Old friends fight each other when not drowning their sorrows in taverns.

A new threat emerges from across the sea, dispatched by the same exiled Dragonkin who have been plotting their revenge for centuries. Rowen and his companions soon realize that the target is the Dragonward itself: their one and only defense against an evil so vast even Knightswrath could not vanquish it.

Interview: Gary & George of Unsung Stories

HockingDejaVuFolks, please welcome the brains behind Unsung Stories, an indie SFF publisher based in London, UK. Unsung Stories publishes intelligent genre fiction – science fiction, fantasy, horror, speculative, steampunk, and importantly those works that blur the boundaries between these genres.

Myths and beliefs that we would consider fiction or fantasy in modern literature once upon a time shaped history (think of all the hunts for unicorns & dragons). Do you see modern fantasy/horror/scifi fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

So this turned out to be a vast question that we couldn’t really answer concisely at all. We’re both in agreement on the themes of the answer, as below, but given it’s a big question we figured it deserved a big answer.

George

Starting with an easy one I see! All narratives, contemporary SFFH, Homeric epics, Jane Austen and even The Daily Mail, are reflective of the society that created them and help shape history. So unicorns, dragons, the Cyclops, witches, changelings and more, have very specific functions beyond whether or not people believe they’re actually there. The same applies to Ebenezer Scrooge, Hamlet, Emma Woodhouse and Malcolm Tucker.

Demons and angels. Our aspirations and our fears. How we manifest these in art has changed, absolutely, but the reason why we do it remains as essential and indefinable as ever.

As to whether contemporary SFFH affects human cultures today? Of course! The how is more telling. One of the most pervasive SF narratives of recent times is Star Trek, which is at its core a utopia project. Sure, they’re knocking on the doors of the Heavens, and it’s about intrepid adventurers and individual acts of heroism, but the thesis is of humanity at its best. Reaching to the stars, embodying justice in a universally welcoming and productive society. Add a splash more hubris and tragedy and you’re getting back into the same territory as Homeric epics. Only this time Icarus has shields and inertial dampeners.

One idea I have is that we use different genres for different purposes. So science fiction is about exploring hypotheses for humanity. What our existence will mean when the fundamental state of humanity has changed. Gibson does this excellently, Haldeman’s The Forever War and countless others. It’s a sandbox for thought experiments, inherently philosophical at heart.

Fantasy has created vast explorations of history and the moralities of governance and action. We can transpose political realities into new environments and comment on and satirise them. There’s so much of humanity’s history to understand and fantasy lets us do that freely, calls on us to tackle political and sociological Gordian knots.

Finally horror might be the most introspective of the three. Sure, it’s about scaring people but it’s also based on what we are afraid of. It’s more than big rats, it’s the darkness and the void, our weaknesses and fears, our inability to protect what we love.

Obviously that’s three broad generalisations, and only offered as a springboard for thought. It’s a big question!

Gary

All of human history, all human life, is shaped by narrative; it’s how we fundamentally understand and process the complex, messy reality we find ourselves in.

I see that SFFH affects human culture today in some very profound ways. Speculative fiction as a whole has always been a wonderful way of exposing and exploring collective hopes, dreams, fears and nightmares.

Trends in science-fiction can accurately map entire cultures’ feelings towards the future – do we see utopia or dystopia ahead? Will technology set us free, or create new traps for us? Do we even believe in a future anymore? In turn, these narratives exploring these issues will inform how we think about ourselves and the way we live, and where we are going (or perhaps going wrong).

The horror genre is a place where our worst fears, anxieties and repulsions can be explored (and exploited). I think there are two camps of horror fiction, the cathartic ‘ghost train’ types of horror, where everything works out in the end, where the evil is defeated and mankind overcomes: fiction ultimately as a form of validation that the world is OK. 

Then there’s the other kind of horror, pioneered by Lovecraft and perfected by writers like Thomas Ligotti, where there is no victory, no catharsis, where the bad things win. This is my preferred model of horror fiction – not because I think life is hopeless or inherently ‘bad’, but because I think this kind of writing serves a useful function, to allow readers to face and explore difficult emotional topics.

We have a deep psychological need for monsters. Through storytelling we can turn an abstract fear into something physical that can be, at least potentially, defeated. Fear of the consumerist, mindless masses become zombies, aggressive male sexuality takes form in the werewolf, the ghost is a clear manifestation of past guilt/trauma, and so on.

With fantasy the enduring appeal of Tolkien and the LOTR films, the continued popularity of epic fantasy novels, the Game of Thrones phenomenon are all things that cannot be discounted. It would be nice if some mainstream fantasy was not based on the models established by Tolkien (Celtic/Saxon/Norse European myths, essentially). But there’s obviously some appeal to that kind of mythic setting that has a real appeal.

WhiteleyTheBeautyIt’s time for you to host the book club. Who do you invite (living, dead, fictional, real)? And what 3 books will you be discussing?

The invite list first: Iain M. Banks, Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett first of all because you need wise, nice and irreverent people to balance any debate. To stir the pot I’d add Hunter Thompson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Adam Roberts, Octavia Butler, John-Paul Satre and Charles Bukowski. That should provide enough knowledge, experience and strong-willed extroverts to ensure a healthy debate, right? Or at least an unforgettable evening. Actually, maybe add Imperator Furiosa as referee.

As for the books? I’d go with Ubik, The Trial and The Master and Margarita. Not because they are perfect bedfellows but the all fascinate and terrify me in equal measure. They all poke at the consensus of the ‘normal ‘state of affairs, be those philosophical, social or political. And they all leave you with very difficult questions.

Are strict guidelines for genres dead in today’s book market? Where does Unsung Stories fit in? 

Increasingly I’d say genre is being normalised, the distinctions eroded by audiences growing more sophisticated. We’re not the people who thought The War of the Worlds was real. Genre tropes are commonplace now and we are seeing an increasing number of crossover success stories both ways. Ishiguro is exploring genre in his work. Cloud Atlas was nominated for the Booker and the Clark and Nebula. Gaiman is an international sensation despite being massively Genre, even starting out in *gasp* comics. And of course SF and fantasy are all over TV and cinema. So it’s increasingly not about defining the lines between ideas, but the opportunities in how they interact.

Here at Unsung Stories, we love non-generic takes on genre. We want to give a home to writers who grab this opportunity with both hands. The people who don’t see rules or conventions, just the way their story is. Commissioning isn’t about if we can see a market, it’s about finding the stories we love, and know deserve to be published.

LangmeadDarkStarWhat now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Philip K. Dick, probably. He’s the man who posited a Matrix-like reality decades before even Gibson started at it. Aside from writing some of my favourite books his take on reality fascinates me as much as it seemed to trouble him. Especially because he didn’t seem to have that layer of detachment from the problem academics do. So I’d talk to him about what his philosophies of perception and what it is he thinks we’re not seeing.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

All of the bits that weren’t terrible, ideally. But if I had to pick one it would be The Sandman because it achieves so many different things. It’s a glorious collection of short stories, it’s a revelation for the potential of comics, it’s a vast indulgence of amazing ideas, it’s funny, it’s scary, it’s utterly heart-breaking in several places, and so much more.

In fact, if I could have just one page, I’d ask for Delirium and Death in the funeral procession from Worlds End. It might just be perfect.

Over the years, are the changes in society reflected in today’s villains and heroes?

One thing I find fascinating is the development of monsters in horror. After the explosion in the 1960s monsters abound, starting with the classics like Dracula, Frankenstein’s creation and werewolves. Then aliens are introduced, incomprehensible powers given physical form. Soon we’re creating new demons for cinema like Freddy and Jason, where they can be defeated but only temporarily. The step after is the one that grabs me though, where they all suddenly become human. Us. No more immortals, no masked killers returning from the grave. Teenagers. Your neighbours. Your children…

With SFF we’re beyond grimdark and sci-fi horror now as well. Bank’s Culture is full of stories that blur the ideas of who is the hero. We love Game of Thrones and Abercrombie because it’s not so simple to say who the hero is. We’re interested in the grey areas more these days, probably because we understand them better than the extremes of heroism or villainy.

So yes, absolutely. And watching how this growing canon of influences develops is something I find incessantly fascinating.

The other thing is post-apocalyptic fiction is huge right now, which works on the base assumption that we somehow failed as a race. As a result of technological developments in the last 20 years we have burgeoning global identities, a greater awareness of what is happening across the world. Maybe we’re coming to realise it’s not about heroes and villains, but about our collective responsibilities as a species?

More and more we see fiction being multimedia – a book, a TV show, a PC game, a graphic novel. How do you see the publishing industry evolving to handle this trend? Any plans to take Unsung Stories into the multimedia realm?

I think it will continue to evolve as it already has been. Ebooks are commonplace now for instance, and apps and enriched variants are going the same way. A lot of the most interesting examples I’ve come across have been games – Device 6 or Dear Esther for example – but that doesn’t mean it will all be games. What I will say, is I suspect the great ideas will come from writers/indies who create something as a labour of love. People in the industry are readers, gamers, fans, just like everyone else. So they’ll be there with everyone else when good things happen.

Unsung don’t have plans right now, but if we see an idea we like enough we’ll go for it. There’s no reason for stories to be limited to books any more (however much we love them). The crucial thing is to ensure the story works for the format. So, for example, rather than shoehorning a popular book into a graphic novel I’d want to see something written with comic format in mind. It’s about best serving the stories, after all.

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment where you were gushing over an author’s work?

I exist in a perpetual state of anxiety as a rule so that would mainly involve every conversation I’ve had with an author, ever. I’m also particularly bad at recognising people as we rule so my worst moments are the opposite kind where you talk to someone, usually spouting flawed opinions at great length, to then discover they’re Pat Cadigan, or someone like that. Things like that happen to me, so I operate the working assumption that my brain hates me.

That said, when I met Brian May I had a not-inconsiderable haircut myself and proceeded to compliment him on his hair. Not his music, charity work or career as an astrophysicist. His hair. I got the impression I wasn’t the first person to do that.

What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I’m not sure what it was called but there was something involving a mad professor taking a teenage boy to Jupiter where he had to play hockey with 20 metre tall bruisers. It’s the illustrations I remember more than anything. Something I remember the title of though, is either the Mary Plain books by Gwynedd Rae, or The Arabian Nights. That and poring over the Terran Trade Authority books in my primary school’s library.

Finally, what upcoming Unsung Stories events and works would you like to share with the readers?

We have our Unsung Live event scheduled for 20th October in Kings Cross, London. This is SFF storytelling, with readings from Simon Guerrier, Robert Sharp, Cassandra Khaw and David Hartley. We’re doing this because we couldn’t find any live-lit events for genre fiction and thought there should be at least one! Tickets are free, you just need to RSVP to secure a place at – www.meetup.com/unsung/events/224926265/. It was very popular last time so booking is advised!

We do have other things in the pipeline in terms of books, but nothing I can talk about yet. They’ll be good though, promise.

Places to Follow Unsung Stories

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Giveaway & Interview: JD & Amy of Whimsy & Wonder Creative Press

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffDear Dabbers, please give a warm welcome to the brains and beauty behind Whimsy and Wonder Creative Press, Amy & JD. It was a real treat to interview this couple. We chat about several TV shows, where to spend the holidays, the tribulations of self-promotion, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss out on the paperback GIVEAWAY – scroll to the bottom for that.

If you could be an extra on a TV show, what would it be?

J: We actually were extra’s on TV show once. It was a show called “Murder In Law”, a show about people getting murdered by their in laws, and we were in one of the cheesy reenactments, which was a lot of fun. If I could do it again I would want it to be on Game of Thrones as a Wite, or on The Walking Dead as a Zombie, because who doesn’t want to be put in professional quality zombie make up at least once in their lives?

A: I would like to be an extra on Outander. So I could potentially see/meet (stalk) Sam Heugen.

If you had to choose someone to rescue you from the jaws of certain death would it be a superhero, supernatural creature, or a space alien?

J: I think a supernatural creature, because I’ve always wanted to befriend like a cool monster or something that would be my friend or companion or something, so maybe if I was rescued by supernatural creature, like a mogwai or a hippogriff or something I could make that a reality.

A: Space Alien. That way we can become friends and they can prove to me that everything they cover on Ancient Aliens is true.

What fictional world would you like to visit for the holidays?

J: Harry Potter for sure. First of all it’s just really friggen magical. Secondly, I’ve always dreamt of Christmas at Hogwarts, and thirdly, I feel like less terrible things happen in the Harry Potter world than a lot of others. Like, Westeros I would be for sure worried about whether I would even make it through the holidays. Middle Earth is also extremely terrifying, although a holiday in a hobbit hole does sound rather cozy. Basically I don’t want to spend the holidays in a universe where I end up being somebodies red shirt, and overall Hogwarts seems pretty safe, what with the Dark Lord vanquished and all.

A: I would go to Who-ville.

If you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

J: We were actually just talking about this. I would love to re-watch the Sixth Sense and Empire Strikes Back again without knowing the twists ahead of time. I was too young to watch either of those movies when they came out (I wasn’t even alive when Empire came out), so by the time I was able to watch them they were entirely spoiled for me.

A: I think I would want to experience The Lord of the Rings movies for the first time.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

J: I think The Hunger Games would make a really bitchin’ video game, but I would want it to be something where I could design my own character and pick my own weapons and skills and stuff. Like you could choose whether you want your weapon to be a bow and arrow, or a sword or a trident or whatever, and then choose to build up specific skills like foraging, or hunting, or camouflage before finally duking it out in a random arena with different environments like forest, or dessert or tundra. Actually the more I think about it the more that sounds like an amazing game. Somebody should get on that.

A: I would really enjoy a video game version of Carrie. It’s probably the closest I will ever get to having telekinesis and working out my high school issues.

If everyone came with warning labels, what would yours say?

J: Warning: Is Prone To Dancing In Embarrassing Places (including but not limited to; grocery store lines, bowling alleys, and movie theaters).

A: Warning: Can become very hungry – keep snacks nearby.

In this age of publishing, self-promotion is really necessary for the author. What do you enjoy most about advertising yourself and your works? What do you find most challenging?

J: I have a really hard time with this actually. It’s really challenging to get anyone to listen to you in the void that is the Internet, and there’s way to many talented people making good stuff, so it’s really hard to get noticed. Add to that a crippling condition I have called social awkwardness, and it can be kind of a mess sometimes. That being said, it does have it’s moments, when people really seem to enjoy what your doing.

A: It’s a very fun job to have, getting to be like hey everybody look at how awesome we are. The most challenging part is some people just aren’t interested or may give criticism on things you have spent a really, really long time on. That can be very nerve racking.

CollinsPeopleSuckIf you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

J: Sherlock Holmes, because I would be really curious to see what he would deduce just from seeing me. GandalfProfessor X and Dumbledore, because they’re so wise and I’ve always wanted them to be my life coaches, so I would seek their guidance. Since I get one more probably Xander from Buffy The Vampire Slayer, because I feel like we would be good friends.

A: I would choose Jamie Fraser from Outlander Because he’s gorgeous I’m not going to pass on that opportunity. Gandalf from Lord of the Rings – I feel like he would have really good advice on life. Furiosa– from Mad Max: She is just so bad ass would love to have a beer with her. Effie Trinket– from the Hunger Games- I feel like she could give me style advice and I could see her getting along really well with Gandalf. And Michone from The Walking Dead- another bad ass female who probably would become best friends with Furiosa…..and maybe me…..

Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work?

J: Well, we’re just getting started so I’ve yet to have anyone gushing over my work, but I did get to meet Stan Lee at a Comic Con once. It was at the little photo booths they set up where you pay to get your picture taken with a celebrity and I was so excited, so I wanted to come up with something clever to say. It’s crazy because I had a very long line to wait in to figure it out but I didn’t, so when my turn came I couldn’t think of anything except for “it’s so great to meet you”, and because it was Stan Lee, and because he is possibly the coolest human on the planet he just clapped me on the back and said “You’re god damn right!” and then they snapped the picture. It was awesome. I still have the picture.

A: When we got our picture of George Takei he said “OH My Look At Youuuu.”  So I took that as a compliment and felt like my life was pretty accomplished after that.

What is a recurring or the most memorable geeky argument or debate you have taken part in?

J: I can’t say that I can think of just one, because that’s kind of just our life. We’re always bickering about some odd movie or another. Amy still makes fun of me for liking the movie “The Mist”, which she refers to as “The Mist-take”, which she thinks is very clever.

A: There are many to choose from and now that I cant think of any but Jerrud and I tend to get into arguments about how fast the zombies would be moving on TV shows. Pretty much our whole relationship is arguing one geeky thing to another.

CollinsOfRobotsAndZombiesAndWizardsAndStuffBook Blurb for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff:

Have you ever wanted to read a story about a dancing robot? How one about a vicious hamburger eating, teenaged zombie? Or perhaps a retired super hero working a day job as mailman? Have you ever felt that your life would be enriched by a fierce and vitriolic debate amongst wizards about beard lengths? Have you ever once felt a talking tree might have the answer to all of your problems? If you answered yes to any of these questions, this book might be for you*. In the tales within, you will find all of these, and so much more. So go ahead, give it a try. You just might find what you’ve been looking for. *Please consult with your doctor before reading this book to discuss risks of an awesome overdose

CollinsPeopleSuckBook Blurb for People Suck

People suck, especially when your not one of them. In this adult(13+) picture book follow the journey of human suckage as explored by creatures suck as a yeti, a swamp monster and space aliens.

Places  to Stalk JD & Amy

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Amazon for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

 

GIVEAWAY!

JD & Amy are generously offering up two copies each of their books: Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff, and their new picture book People Suck. These will be paper books and, therefore, we have to limit this giveaway to USA only due to postage. To enter, do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer the following in the comments: 1) What state do you live in? 2) Do you have an awkward fanboy/fangirl moment to share? 3) Which book would you prefer to win? 4) Leave a way to contact you! Giveaway ends November 15th, 2015, midnight.

Rafflecopter for Of Robots and Zombies and Wizards and Stuff

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Interview: Dean Warren, Author of The Pacification of Earth Series

WarrenAmericanRevoltEveryone, please welcome Dean Warren, author of military scifi and futuristic ecological disasters! We have a nice chat about his books, how humans affect the environment, and much more. Enjoy!

Why do you write?

For me, writing a novel or a short story is day-dreaming.  I pose myself a challenge or a circumstance and flesh out an alter ego and supporting characters to encounter it.  I’m intellectually consumed by science, so most of my plots involve that.  I wondered what would happen if we hard wired a computer to a man’s brain.  You’d have world-taming logic, memory, and information resources, allied with aggression and lots of negative emotion.  I called that novel Man Over Mind.  A second novel explores the results of a cure for age–which geneticists are working on.  That novel I called Growing Young.  And so on.  Currently, I’m consumed with humanity’s fate.  When I went to college, the world’s head count was 3 billion; today its over 7; the World Bank says by the end of this century it will be 12.  Desperate people are piling up on the shores of North Africa looking to roost and feed in Europe; we have Central Americans besieging our southern border.  Southwest Asia is brimming with refugees.  Billions exhaling CO2 and burning coal, wood, and oil in order to live.  The world is warming, the seas will rise, and violence will escalate.  We’re like the lemmings, en route to jumping as a species off the cliff.  I’m currently writing a fifth novel on that predicament.

WarrenLeavingEarthWhat now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

Arthur Koestler. He was publishing way back in my college, formative days.  He was basically a political writer, attacking Russian communism.  I, too, am political, although not nearly as profound, or successful.  I would ask him whether he thought there was hope for humanity, how should we concerned people behave.  Of course, he committed suicide.  I think he would claim illness rather than cowardice

Are minions/sidekicks just throwaway devices in a tale? Can they become more? Do they need to become more?

Minions are key in an author’s efforts to properly portray the human environment in which the action takes place.

WarrenTheBombAndItsDeadlyShadowIf you could, what book/movie/TV series would you like to experience for the first time all over again and why?

I liked G.R.R.Martin’s Game of Thrones‘ first four books.  Lots of skullduggery, action, good characters.  Intellectual fantasy.

Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I’m old fashioned, I guess, and try to get to the point, either action-wise or intellectual-wise, without delving into dull, dirty linen.

Places to find Dean Warren

GoodReads

Audible

Amazon

Interview: Kathryn Meyer Griffith, Author of Dinosaur Lake

GriffithDinosaurLakeFolks, please slap your eyeballs together for an entertaining interview with the talented Kathryn Meyer Griffith. I have enjoyed a few books of hers so far (The Nameless One & Dinosaur Lake) and have a few more queued up. Today we chat about writing in the horror genre for decades, family, cover art, and much more! Enjoy!

(1) What now-dead author would you like to interview? What are some of the things you would chat about?

I’d like to interview Edgar Allan Poe. He had such a tragic, short life and to this day the real reason for his death is a mystery in itself. Was it drink, drugs or suicide? I think of him as one of the early horror/mystery genre writers. I’d love to talk to him and know what his life had really been like. If he was as unhappy as history sometimes portrays him and why he decided to write the macabre and mysterious. Also at twenty-six he married his thirteen year old cousin. Wouldn’t the social networks and media have a field day with that these days?

GriffithTheNamelessOne(2)  Reality in my fiction: how important is it? Lengthy travel, cussing, and bathroom breaks happen in real life. How do you address these mundane occurrences in your writings?

I usually don’t or I breeze over them as a quick mention. Travel is easy to express; you only hit the highlights. People know, as humans, we have physical needs so why dwell on them in a novel unless they’re really necessary to the story or plot; most times they aren’t. Also, in my early writing days in the 1980s I bent to the times and my publishers’ pushy editors and sometimes put cuss words in my books. I was up against Stephen King, Koontz and others and they cursed in their novels, so I thought I had to also. Though I rarely used curse words myself in my real life. But as the years and books went by I stopped using the heavy curse words or profanity, because I wanted my novels to be read by people of all ages, and now days I hardly use more than a damn or a hell once and a while. I let a character’s actions depict their frustration or anger, not profanity.

GriffithDinosaurLakeII(3) Which ancient or historical works have you not read and periodically kick yourself for not having made time for them yet?

Ha, ha…a lot of them. I’m afraid I’m one of these authors that like to read what’s current in fiction or my genres and not the real old stuff. I did read some of the old classics in high school as most kids did, but since I’ve been too busy writing to read anything I don’t really want to read…and the ancient works are some of what I don’t feel like reading. This is a secret I’ve kept for decades, but now I’m too old to care what others think of me. Writing good stories are all I care about. I was born a storyteller so all I feel I have to do is tell my stories.

GriffithHumanNoLonger(4) If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

In my life I’ve been, and am, an artist and when I was very young I sang out with my brother, Jim. Folk duo in the sixties and then in a few classic rock bands. Then I got married (way too young), got pregnant and dropped out for a while. Started writing out of despair and loneliness. My brother went on to sing out professionally, along with the real day job, as I had, for over thirty years and I went deeper into my art – I was a graphic artist for twenty-three years in the corporate world – and from age twenty-one on into my writing. I really loved singing but I wasn’t good enough (my brother always said) to do it for a living. Good thing. I wouldn’t have twenty-three novels, two novellas, twelve short stories published and eighteen audio books (soon to be twenty) if I would have continued on with the singing or the art career. But I had a passion for singing and miss it to this day. And my brother? He was a gifted musician and songwriter for over forty years but he’s been battling esophageal cancer the last two and can no longer sing or play. He’s such a brave man, but he misses the music, too. BUT if I couldn’t be any of those three, heck, I’d probably be broke and homeless because I’m a storyteller and that’s all I can be/want to be.

GriffithDinosaurLakeIII(5) What does your Writer’s Den look like? Neat and tidy or creative mess? Can you write anywhere or do you need to be holed up in your author cave?

I’m a neat freak. Always have been. Everything has a place in my house and it stays there. I hate messes. I got that from my mother. She always said, “We might be poor but at least we can be neat and clean.” And that went for our home as well. And I’m the same way with my home now. I’m very organized and I don’t abide clutter. I like to write on my laptop in my living room, TV on for company and a fire in the fireplace, sitting on my plush sofa with a hot cup of my chocolate coffee on the side table. I used to write at a stationary computer in a writing room, but it felt too much like work, so these days I like the comforts of my front room. If I had a deck with a view (trees not neighbors) I’d write out there on nice days, yet I don’t have a deck. Darn. I also like to be totally alone when I write. It’s easier to go into my make-believe worlds and live what I’m writing.

GriffithEvilStalksTheNight(6) If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Beats me. Are you talking about five of MY characters or someone else’s? I can’t right now off the top of my head pick five other author’s characters (except maybe the five main characters in Stephen King’s masterpiece end-of-the-world novel The Stand…which would be neat) but if I had to pick five of MY characters I would pick the main five from my apocalyptic end-of-days saga A Time of Demons. One’s an angel, Manasseh; one’s a demon, Rayner; main character Cassandra and her cohorts, her singer-songwriter brother, Johnny; a carnival clown named Walter; his psychic girlfriend Sarah; and another demon-fighter named Obadiah – all warriors for God fighting demons in the end days as the Rapture approaches. Now I’d LOVE to go on that journey with them in their RV all across the country and fight the good fight with the swords given them by the angels. And I’d have my homemade chocolate coffee with them and maybe bake them a chocolate cake, too. They fight hard so they could use the treats.

GriffithWitches(7) Care to share an awkward fangirl/fanboy moment, either one where someone was gushing over your work…..or one where you were gushing over another author’s work? 

Since I’ve been writing now for over forty-three years and published since 1984, I do get people who say: “I read your 1993 book Witches when I was in high school, ages ago, and have never forgotten it.” Or someone will email me and gush over my very first horror novel published in 1984, Evil Stalks the Night, and how much they loved it…as a kid. Makes me feel so old but it’s also flattering that they remember one of my books decades later. I love it.

GriffithNightCarnival(8) Cover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. What cover art has caught your eye, that you found stood above other books?

I’m going to be absolutely truthful…there are lots of great covers out there, too many to list, but my favorite are the covers Dawne Dominique has done for me the last five years. They’re amazing, especially my Dinosaur Lake covers. And yes I also believe a cover, and a good blurb, is a necessity for selling books, particularly self-published books. I’ve had so many awful covers when I had no choice in the matter with my legacy publishers, but now I get to pick and design my own (because I started self-publishing in 2012)  and Dawne seems to read my mind she’s so good. To me a great cover not only conveys the essence of a novel but has dynamic colors and a haunting ambiance. It’s got to jump out at you, bite you and then haunt you after it’s gone.

GriffithTheLastVampire(9) What do you do when you are not writing?

Lately (since 2010) I’ve been so busy bringing out my old novels, rewriting, writing new stories and working with narrator/producers creating the audio books that I have had little spare time for anything else. I hope to be able to slow down when all my books (fifteen are still with a publisher until 2015-2017) are finally self-published and I completely own their rights and have them all out again. But I try to spend time with my husband, of thirty-six years, and my family. I have five siblings and I try to spend as much time with them as I can, especially Jim. I love TV. Dramas and PBS or BBC America mysteries. Game of Thrones type stuff. Star Trek. I like to go to the movies. I love to read, of course. Horror and murder mysteries or anything spooky. I like to bake, sugar cookies and chocolate chip being my favorites, and I enjoy walking in the woods and marveling at nature. Colorful sunsets, ocean or lake vistas can mesmerize me. They give me a sense of peace that as I’ve gotten older soothes me.

GriffithEgyptianHeart(10) What is the first book you remember reading on your own?

I remember, way back in the dark ages of the mid 1950s, reading the Dick and Jane Primer books and having such a feeling of accomplishment being able to decipher them. I was very young and I had no trouble reading the words. I was so good at it as well as spelling. I loved reading from then on. I began reading everything I could get my hands on, going to the library for free books because my family was so poor, and developed a great love and respect for the written word and authors. But one of the earliest recreational books I ever read that left a real impression on me was a novel called Smokey. I’ve looked it up recently but it no longer exists and what a pity. It was about this horse and all the travails of its life. So many sad things happened to the horse but in the end the animal came home and grew old happily. It was so poignant it made me cry. I never forgot that book and years later it was one of the reasons I became an author myself. Imagine – being able to make people feel something that much that they cried, or laughed or grew angry. Now that was power. When I was young I thought authors were gods. Now I know they aren’t, they’re just people – storytellers – like me.

Thanks for having me here, Susan and Dab of Darkness.

And thank you Kathryn!

A short author bio:

KathrynMeyerGriffithAuthorKathryn Meyer Griffith has been an artist and worked as a graphic designer in the corporate world and for newspapers for twenty-three years before she quit to write full time. But she’d already begun writing novels at twenty-one, over forty-four years ago now, and has had twenty-two (10 romantic horror, 2 horror novels, 2 romantic SF horror, 1 romantic suspense, 1 romantic time travel, 1 historical romance, 2 thrillers, and 3 murder mysteries) novels, two novellas and twelve short stories published from Zebra Books, Leisure Books, Avalon Books, The Wild Rose Press, Damnation Books/Eternal Press; she’s self-published her last 7 novels with Amazon Kindle Direct. Her Dinosaur Lake novels and Spookie Town Mysteries are her best-sellers. She’s been married to Russell for thirty-six years; has a son and two grandchildren. She has one cat, Sasha, and the three of them live happily in an old house in the heart of a small quaint town in Illinois. Though she’s been an artist, and a singer in her youth with her brother Jim, writing has always been her greatest passion, her butterfly stage, and she’ll probably write stories until the day she dies…or until her memory goes. 2012 & 2014 EPIC EBOOK AWARDS *FINALIST* for The Last VampireRevised Author’s Edition and Dinosaur Lake.

Places to Find Kathryn & Her Books

All Kathryn Meyer Griffith’s books can be found here:

http://tinyurl.com/ld4jlow

All her 18 Audible.com audio books here:

http://tinyurl.com/oz7c4or

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kathryn-Meyer-Griffith/579206748758534  

Personal Site:

http://www.authorsden.com/kathrynmeyergriffith

Goodreads:

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/889499.Kathryn_Meyer_Griffith

Interview: Terra Harmony, Author of The Akasha Saga

HarmonyWaterPlease welcome Terra Harmony! We chat about ecosystems, obstacle courses (enhanced through wine), board games, and much more. Please sit back and enjoy!

You consider yourself an eco-fantasy author. What ecological niches of Earth have you pulled into your writings and expanded upon?

Each of my books of the Akasha Series is titled as an element, Water, Air, Fire, and Earth. I really try to focus in on the plight of each element, why they are so important to us, and how we can use them as natural resources.

‘The Painted Maiden’s Trilogy’ is a lot less in-your-face eco-ism. (I think I just made up a word.) In this series, I try to portray the beauty of the oceans, our planet’s most valuable resource. I want my readers to fall in love with this element, and to understand everything that will be lost if we continue along our current path.

HarmonyTheRisingGiven the opportunity, what fantastical beast of fiction would you like to encounter in the wild? Which would you avoid at all costs?

A dragon! Totally. A nice dragon, to be a little more specific. I would definitely try to ride it. I think I would want to avoid any beast that could read my mind. Sorry, Edward.

What book should be made into a game (card, PC, board, etc.) and why? Is there a specific character who you would want to play in this game?

Game of Thrones should definitely be a board game. Or is it already? I just googled it…..and putting an Amazon order in now, very good reviews. My gosh it’s like $45! I’m gonna have to wait until the next paycheck. Anyway, I would love to play as Daenerys Targaryen (the dragon lady, of course). But one of those Facebook quizzes told me I am most like Jaime Lannister, so either one of those characters would be good!

HarmonyTheKindredCurseAnthologyWho are your non-writer influences?

Anyone who gives back (especially to the environment). I don’t think I am necessarily influenced by any one or group of people, especially celebrities. I am encouraged by small, every day acts of kindness or hints of confidence and strength.

What reboots (or retellings) of classics have you enjoyed? Are there ones that haven’t worked for you?

I don’t enjoy classics – or their reboots. Is that terrible of me to say? Give me vampires, romance, comedy, horror – but give it to me in a contemporary writing style and don’t remake something that has already been done!

If you could sit down and have tea (or a beer) with 5 fictional characters, who would you invite to the table?

Let’s make it red wine, and instead of a table let’s make it an obstacle course (we will down the wine first). I find you can really discover a person’s true character when putting them through a challenge. I’m not that great at discussion – or talking, for that matter. Actions speak so much louder than words.

I’d love to experience this with Jaime Fraser from the Outlander Series, Captain Jack Sparrow (we need a wild card in there somewhere), The Black Widow from The Avengers, Pippi Longstocking (she is so awesome), and Franklin (the turtle from those children’s books – I have to be able to beat someone).

HarmonyTheDreamerPlaces to Stalk Terra Harmony
Blog
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads

About the Author: Terra is author of the eco-fantasy novels in the Akasha Series, ‘Water’, ‘Air’, ‘Fire’ and ‘Earth’, as well as the Painted Maidens Trilogy. Terra was born and raised in Colorado but has since lived in California, Texas, Utah, North Carolina, and Virginia. Terra has served a 5½ year enlistment in the Marine Corp, has earned her bachelor’s and master’s degree and presently runs the language services division of a small business. Terra currently lives in a suburb of Washington, DC with her husband of fifteen years and three children.