Author Interview: Scott Warren, Author of Vick's Vultures

WarrenVicksVulturesEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Scott Warren. We chat about space aliens, book cover art, Batman vs. Superman and plenty more!

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

I’d love to be an OSHA inspector on the Enterprise. You just know that has to be a do-nothing gig, panels, conduits, and warp cores exploding left and right while the inspector is spending 6 hours out of every 8 hour shift on the holodeck.

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?

Definitely a space alien, it’s been too long since I’ve had a decent probing and I’ve always wanted to eat at the Restaurant at the End of the Universe.

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 scifi/fantasy fiction affecting human cultures today and how?

I think modern science fiction has really opened more people’s minds to the idea that life out in the stars could be very real, as opposed to popular fictions like the Andromeda Strain or Grays, or Marvin the Martian. It’s no longer considered crackpot theory to believe in some form of extra terrestrial life. Given the extent of the universe and the discovery of exoplanets it’s practically a certainty.

If you were sent on a quest, which 4 other scifi/fantasy authors would you take with you?

S.A. Hunt would be on the team for sure, he’s an Iraq War vet so he can handle desert terrain.

John Scalzi would bring humor and wit to the group, and could serve as an emergency food source.

Carl Sagan would bring his infinite wisdom to the party, providing guidance in times of doubt.

Robin Hobb, because her attention to the myriad details of everyday life in a fantasy world hints at a deep knowledge of the tools needed to survive without modern amenities.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you chose to do?

Probably what I’m already doing, being a helicopter pilot, UAV pilot, and freelance illustrator. I don’t have to wonder if the grass is greener.

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 wouldn’t describe myself as a particular fanboy of anyone in particular (save for the great dark terror, Cthulhu). I’ve never found myself capable of obsessing or growing overly attached over an individual or their work. In a way, I envy the obsessed their passion even as I abhor the concept of fixation on the individual.

WarrenDevilboneCover art can be so important for a book, making or breaking sales. How did your books end up with such excellent cover art?

For Devilbone I self-published, and so I had full creative control over the cover. I wanted something surreal and directly relevant to the content of the story while capturing the dark fantasy atmosphere. For Vick’s Vultures, Eric and Colin enlisted the services of Tom Edwards. As an illustrator I was reluctant to hand over control of the cover, but the timing was such that I couldn’t possibly design it myself. Upon looking at his gallery, I was absolutely certain that he could capture the feeling and atmosphere of Vick’s Vultures every bit as well as I could.

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

It may be a bit cliche, but I find myself drawn into the tired Batman vs Superman debate. Having not seen the recent movie, I’m of the opinion that the power scales are so vastly different that Batman (despite being my favorite of the two) could not hope to contend with the full might of Superman.

Places to Find Scott Warren

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

ScottWarrenAuthorAuthor Bio: 

Scott Warren got his start in writing while living in Washington during the summer of 2014 when he entered the world of speculative fiction by writing Sorcerous Crimes Division, followed shortly by Vick’s Vultures.

Mr. Warren blends aspects of classic military fantasy and science fiction with a modern, streamlined writing style to twist tired tropes into fresh ideas. He believes in injecting a healthy dose of adventure into the true-to-life grit and grime that marks the past decade of science fiction, while still embracing the ideas that made science fiction appeal to so many readers.

As a UAV Pilot, and former submariner, Scott draws on his military and aviation experiences to bring authenticity to his writing while keeping it accessible to all readers. Scott is also an artist, contributing his skills to board games, role playing games, and his own personal aerial photography galleries.

Mr. Warren currently resides in Huntsville, AL.

WarrenVicksVulturesBook Blurb for Vick’s Vultures

In the far future, alien technology captured by the Union Earth Privateers has fueled Earth’s tenuous expansion from a single planet to a handful of systems across the Orion Spur.

Victoria Marin, captain of the U.E. Condor, and her crew of Vultures have been running dry for months. In danger of losing her command and her credibility if she can’t locate fresh salvage, she locks onto the distress signal of an alien ship in hopes of valuable cargo. What she finds instead is First Prince Tavram, the heir apparent to one of the largest empires in known space. Tavram’s ship has been crippled after narrowly escaping an ambush and his would-be assassin is coming to finish the job.

The Vultures launch a high risk mission to rescue the prince and recover every last scrap of xenotech they can before the hunter catches up to his prey. But there are more dangers than notorious interstellar assassins when it comes to ferrying alien princes across the stars, and Victoria must contend with dangerous alliances, old grudges, and even her own government if she means to bring her crew home alive. Whether she succeeds or fails, the consequences of her choices will affect the path of all humanity.

About the Publisher:

Parvus Press was founded in January of 2016 and is dedicated to publishing top-tier fantasy and science fiction that hold their own against the biggest names in the industry. The company name, “Parvus” is latin for “small” and they are committed to quality over quantity.

Parvus believes that a small team of motivated, creative people can do great things. By bringing together the best emerging talents in art and design with the undiscovered voices of new authors, Parvus can play a role in helping bring exciting new approaches to the fantasy and science fiction genres to life.

The company was founded by life-long best friends Colin Coyle and Eric Ryles who bring passion for genre fiction along with successful backgrounds in marketing, business management, and partner development into this endeavor. They quickly brought industry veteran, editor, and writing coach John Adamus into the fold to help navigate the intricacies of the world of publishing and oversee the editorial process.

In June 2016, Parvus acquired the rights to their second novel. C ourt of Twilight is a contemporary fantasy novel by debut author Mareth E. Griffith and is slated for release in Winter 2017. They are currently open for submissions. Interested authors can find their submission guidelines at www.ParvusPress.com/submissions .

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Darrell Drake, Author of A Star-Reckoner's Lot

DrakeAStarReckonersLotDear readers, please welcome author Darrell Drake! We chat about Sassanian Iran, Chinese literature, creative cursing, and plenty more. You will definitely be entertained! Also, make sure to check out the GIVEAWAY of Drake’s forthcoming book at the bottom of this post.

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

Dream of the Red Chamber, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, and Journey to the West, which are three of the Four Great Classical Novels (Chinese). I have read Water Margin (the last of the Four), and it’s had an undeniable influence on my work moving forward and my appreciation of Chinese literature. So now that you’ve reminded me, I am back to kicking myself.

With the exception of some of the more popular works, I also haven’t delved far enough into the rich history of Persian poetry. Most notably, Rumi’s works. I’ve always preferred prose to poetry, and I feel as if I’m missing out, especially considering the setting of A Star-Reckoner’s Lot.

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

As someone who has spent the last few years researching Sassanian Iran, I’d rank it as an underserved era of history. This is due to a wide array of issues—from a general scarcity of extant source material to the empire being one that’s overshadowed by contemporary civilizations (namely, Byzantium) or Muslim Persia.

That in turn has had an effect on historical fantasy and fiction. I never expected to have written what may very well be the first modern English novel in the setting (unsure if there are non-English ventures).

DrakeWithinRuinMyths 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?

I think it’s most notable in science fiction nowadays (though it could be argued that fantasy eventually becomes science fiction). Zombies and aliens are the first and most prominent myths to come to mind. And while the jury’s still out on the latter, I think it can be agreed that they’re ubiquitous in popular culture. You have people making serious preparations for a post-apocalyptic zombie-infested Earth. You have the many UFO enthusiasts, and a seemingly pervasive belief that aliens may very well exist.

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?

With A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being historical fantasy, I wanted to stay true to the historical half of the genre. But also to strike a healthy, readable middle ground. No one—or nearly no one—wants to read about every time that nature calls. However, profanity certainly plays a part in dialog where suited.

I believe the only typical profanity I resorted to was “fuck”. Because, well, it’s such a versatile word that I couldn’t fashion an alternative. Besides that heavyweight, I went about putting together phrases better suited to the culture and beliefs of the time: still damning, but curses like fingernail-swallowing or tortoise-loving.

Where travel is concerned, I did my research into what is appropriate for humans, horses, camels, and other beasts. But when it came to writing, I thought it’d be better to offer glimpses and expedite the rest. I can think of at least one book that covered every day of travel, and I found it mind-numbingly boring.

DrakeEverautumnWhat nonfiction works have you found useful in building fictional worlds, cultures, and plots?

Oh, boy. Where do I even begin with this one? You can check out a partial list of those I read for A Star-Reckoner’s Lot. Those that cover history and mythology are the most obvious. I think that having an idea of the more intimate and everyday aspects of life lend to better fictional worlds. One that comes to mind is The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Daily Life. While it didn’t do much for what I was writing, it still goes a long way in describing the daily minutia. Books that cover topics like travel, psychology, and natural sciences also help on that front.

Who are your non-writer influences?

I feel as if it’s an evasive non-answer, but I have a hard time pinpointing anyone in particular. I can’t ascribe what I’ve written to any people in particular. We’re the sum of our years, and the daily interactions therein. I don’t channel anyone in particular when writing or thinking, just what I’ve learned and experienced over time. Anyone I’ve had any meaningful interaction with has contributed to who I am today.

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you choose to do?

Sleep. All day. Is there somewhere I can sign up? I might choose to enlist, if I weren’t in a strange situation with citizenship. And perhaps be too old to. Despite the perils and uncomfortable nature of being deployed, it’s something I’m still interested in. I’ve discussed the idea with recruiters several times in the past, and have taken the ASVAB, but it always fell through.

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

There’s this series of books about a blue bug, fittingly titled Blue Bug Books. I don’t really remember anything about it besides the obvious, but it stands out as one of the first I can remember reading. I know, it’s a children’s book, but my highly selective memory has burdened me with remembering something that isn’t high brow!

What are the top 3 historical time periods and locations you would like to visit?

Sassanian Iran: Ctesiphon, or Tisfun, was the capital of the empire, and surely gave a condensed view of the civilization.

Tang Dynasty China: Either the Eastern or Western capitals of Xi’an or Louyang. Tang Dynasty is considered by many to be the Chinese golden age.

Rome, during Bacchanalia: It sounds like a good time. A damn good time.

DarrellDrakeAuthorAuthor Bio: 

Darrell Drake has published four books, with A Star-Reckoner’s Lot being the latest. He often finds himself inspired by his research to take on new hobbies. Birdwatching, archery, stargazing, and a heightened interest in history have all become a welcome part of his life thanks to this habit.

Places to Find Darrell Drake

Website

Twitter

Facebook

Tumblr

Reddit

GoodReads

Amazon

DrakeAStarReckonersLotBook Blurb for A Star-Reckoner’s Lot: For some, loss merely deprives. For others, it consumes.

Ashtadukht is a star-reckoner. The worst there’s ever been. Witness her treacherous journey through Iranian legends and ancient history.

Only a brave few storytellers still relate cautionary glimpses into the life of Ashtadukht, a woman who commanded the might of the constellations—if only just, and often unpredictably. They’ll stir the imagination with tales of her path to retribution. How, fraught with bereavement and a dogged illness, she criss-crossed Sassanian Iran in pursuit of creatures now believed mythical. Then, in hushed tones, what she wrought on that path.

GIVEAWAY!

Darrell is giving away 3 ebook copies of his fantasy historical fiction novel, A Star-Reckoner’s Lot. Open internationally. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) Is there a sub-genre or literary niche that you feel hasn’t gotten it’s deserved attention? 2) Leave a way to contact you. Thanks! Giveaway ends September 30, 2016.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: Piers Anthony, Author of Hair Power

AnthonyHairPowerFolks, please give a warm welcome to Piers Anthony, author of the famed Xanth series and his latest book Hair Power. I grew up reading Mr. Anthony’s works and I was pleasantly surprised to see him working with a small publisher on yet another novel – such a productive man! I am sure you will be as amused and entertained by his interview as I am. The publisher, Dreaming Big Publications, has provided this prepared interview with Mr. Anthony.

Tell us about your latest book.

Hair Power is a novella about a girl with terminal brain cancer who helps an alien hairball, who rewards her with hair that not only replaces her own lost hair, but cures her cancer and makes her something of a super woman. In time that hair is six feet long and she wears it like a cloak. That’s only the beginning.

Tell us a little about some of the others who contributed to your book, such as cover designer or editor.

I have to default on that, as I don’t know them.

Who are your favorite authors?

If I lost my memory and had my choice of reading matter, I hope my favorite would be Piers Anthony. I try to write what I would like to read. As for other authors, I have admired many in the Science Fiction and Fantasy fields, from Robert A. Heinlein on down. I am also an admirer of the plays of George Bernard Shaw, and not just because he was a vegetarian.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Publishing is changing so much now that much of what I might say would become dated about ten minutes after I wrote it. So I’ll just say read and study the genre you are in, keep writing and improving, and may the world go well with thee.

What’s the best thing about being a writer?

For me the best thing is getting to exercise my imagination and being independent. I can’t be fired for someone else’s mistakes.

What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?

It used to be dealing with publishers, who were like insensitive robots interested only in money, regardless what they claimed. But the old order is passing and the new publishers I am dealing with are generally more compatible. Some of them even like good fiction. So now the hardest thing is facing the prospect of my declining ability with advancing age. I’m not capable of simply letting it go and retiring. So when I no longer write well, I hope I am the first, not the last to know it.

AnthonyBioOfAnOgreWhere can people find out more about you and your writing?

My web site is www.hipiers.com where I have a monthly column, commenting on whatever is on my mind, and background information on my titles. I have also written two autobiographical books: Bio of an Ogre and How Precious Was That While.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Three Weeks for this 35,000 word novella. It moved well, and I am an efficient writer.

Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?

I don’t think so. I had worked it out pretty well before I started writing. I’ve always loved long hair on a woman, so this was easy imagination.

Where can a reader purchase your book?

From wherever the publisher puts it.                                         

What are you doing to market the book? 

Precious little. I’m a writer, not a marketer.

Who inspires you?

The world inspires me.

How do you research your books?

There wasn’t any real research for Hair Power. I generally try to stay within the boundaries of what I know. When I do need to research, I buy books on the subject.

Do you have another work in progress? Tell us about it.

I am working on the sequel, Hair Suite, wherein there is competition with Cyborg aliens in very attractive human form. Until the two cultures have to unite against a third.

Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?

I have written about 175 other books. Readers can find many of them listed on Amazon. Many readers like my Xanth fantasy series, which now number 42 novels, not all in print yet.

What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?

I approve of self publishing. In the old days only about one aspiring writer in a hundred could ever get anything published. That led to bigger sales for the one percent, and tough luck for the 99%. I prefer that every writer have a chance. That’s why I have worked to make self publishing possible for anyone, notably by my early investment in Xlibris – I am no longer connected – and my ongoing survey of electronic publishers. The playing field will probably never be level, but it’s better than it was. Traditional publishers had dictatorial power for over a century. Now it’s the writers’ turn.

AnthonyHowPreciousWasThatWhileWho or what inspired you to become a writer?

I needed to decide on my college major. I pondered a day and a night, and it came to me: I wanted to be a writer. It was like a light turning on and it has guided me ever since.

Does your family support you in your writing career? How?

My wife supported me. She went to work so I could stay home and try to be a writer. That was when I broke through with my first story sale – for $20.00. But it led to greater things, in time.

What are you currently reading?

I am usually reading something, often a novel for review or blurbing. At the moment I’m between books.

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Writing is my passion and my life. All else feels like dross. But I do make the meals and wash the dishes, as my wife is infirm. I also like to play cards on the computer, mainly Free Cell, which I believe is the best card game ever.

What is your favorite line from a movie?

Great lines in movies are myriad, but it’s the quiet personal ones that get to me the most that others may not even notice. There was one whose title I don’t remember, where a man, a widower, got a girlfriend he was considering marrying. His early teen daughter lived with him. When the woman made them a meal, the man told the teen to do the dishes. The girlfriend intervened. “No, she doesn’t have to do that. I’ll do it.” Why?  “She’s your daughter and I want her to like me.” That disarming candor surely ensured that the girl would like the woman.

What do you like to snack on while you write?

I maintain my college weight, and I exercise seriously. I don’t eat between meals. I’m pretty fit for my age, pushing 82, and mean to stay that way.

When you walk into a book store, where is the first place you go?

The last local book store closed down.

AnthonyVirtualModeWhat is the funniest thing that you’ve been asked during an interview?

At the moment I’m not thinking of anything funny in an interview. But I was amused by a sentence in my fan mail: “Ha! Caught you reading fan mail!”

Sometimes I do learn things from my fan mail .

I had a suicidally depressive girl in one of my novels (Virtual Mode, if you must know) who regularly cut her wrists so that they bled. So she wore red bands on her wrists to conceal the blood. A reader wrote that I had it wrong: blood dries black, so she needed black wristlets. I suspect she spoke from experience.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

My biggest peeve is critics who come across like the Republicans with respect to President Obama: Anything he does is wrong. It seems similar for critics with me. I have a mock review of a trilogy such a critic would do with me. The first novel is inferior. The second novel is not up to the standard of the first. And readers of the first two novels will be sadly disappointed by the third.

Places to Find Piers Anthony

Website

Blog

GoodReads

Amazon

AnthonyHairPowerBook Blurb for Hair Power: Terminal cancer patient, Quiti, walks into an abandoned building planning on taking her life.

Instead, she encounters a telepathic ball of hair that insists it is an alien seeking to facilitate diplomatic communication on Earth.

Quiti assumes it is all a hallucination conjured up by her brain tumor.

Because of this assumption, when she saves the alien’s life and it insists on doing Quiti a favor in return, she only asks for her hair back. She soon discovers, however, that the creature’s gift extends much further than her new locks that can change color with a thought. As her powers grow and her deadly illness goes into remission, Quiti quickly realizes that there are those that would want to use her for her abilities and is forced to leave behind everything that she knew.

Will this blessing curse her to a life on the run, or does the mysterious hairball have more in store for her?

Piers Anthony, critically acclaimed author of the New York Times bestselling Xanth series, brings together humor and adventure in this original story of loyalty, friendship, extraordinary powers, and hair.

Lucky Dawg Meets Lucky Lucy by Edward Fox

FoxLuckyDawgMeetsLuckyLucyWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrator: Scott Pollak

Publisher: Edward G. Fox (2015)

Length: 3 hours 49 minutes

Series: Book 1 Lucky & Lucy

Author’s Page

Lucky is into the second half of his life. He’s single and his kids are grown. He’s also got a little bit of money – enough to free up his time as long as he doesn’t get extravagant. So he decides he wants to investigate the paranormal, extraterrestrial, and the weird. He’s a free-lance writer and decides to dig into alien sightings up in a secluded wooded area. Lucy is the one that reported seeing something odd and now wishes she hadn’t brought it up. She just wants the quiet life with her horses as she completes her cabin and a coral. This book is part mystery, two parts romance, and a snippet of scifi since aliens are involved.

I really liked the mystery part of the book and that tied in nicely with the scifi aliens – what are they doing here? What do they want? Are they friendly or hostile? Lucy has tried to take some pictures and has seen one of these unknowns from a distance. At first, she really wasn’t sure what she was dealing with – an elaborate hoax? a movie being filmed? Lucky was definitely intrigued by the small article he saw. I really enjoyed this introduction to the mystery – plenty there to capture my mind and imagination!

The romance started off slow and then moved to sweet. It was two experienced adults getting to know one another and it was a fun addition to the story. As their romance deepens, the descriptions of their romantic moments becomes explicit (which is fine by me) but also text-book like. Several of these sex scenes read more like How-To-Manuals instead of love scenes. Additionally, both characters tend to scream out ‘Shit!’ a lot while climaxing and this particular phrase (which is anything but romantic), plus the instructive feel to the scenes, made them not so sexy.

The mystery with the aliens wraps and, while satisfying to some degree, I felt it was a bit anticlimactic. The story didn’t really have a nemesis or bad guy or some entity or great difficulty to rail against and overcome. It was a sweet romance with instructive scenes on how to pleasure men and women that also happened to have a few aliens off in the woods doing their own thing tossed in on the side.

I received a copy of this book at no cost from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Narration: Scott Pollak did a good job, never shying from the romance scenes. I liked his attempts to make the aliens, who use a translating device in the story, sound from out of this world.

What I Liked: Great set up and beginning; horses, aliens, romance in the air; the mystery and Lucky and Lucy’s drive to solve it; the ending was mostly satisfying; excellent narration.

What I Disliked: The sex scenes were more instructive rather than sexy; there’s no main antagonist or detrimental event to overcome.

Through A Glass Darkly by Miss Mae

MaeThroughAGlassDarklyWhere I Got It: Review Copy

Narrator: Owen McCuen

Publisher: Miss Mae (2015)

Length: 1 hour 7 minutes

Author’s Page

Vexen Rheinhart and Remard are aboard a medical transport ship that is about to suffer some major mishaps. Computer viruses are a thing of the past and one has just wreaked chaos on Vexen’s ship. Unfortunately, there is also a homicidal alien that stowed away, lying in wait for the perfect moment. Several other things will go wrong before anything goes right.

There was plenty of action, a little humor, a touch of romance in this fast-paced space opera. Vexen, our main character, is quick-witted, dedicated, and not afraid to follow through on a good punch if it means saving her friends, ship, or herself. Remard, a blue fingered alien, makes a worthy sidekick. When the computer virus strikes Della, the ship’s computer, the ship drifts off course. This makes it impossible for Vexen’s husband Leland to transport over. So he sends a hologram instead. This hologram, unfortunately, has an identify crisis. This leads to both humor and tragedy.

I liked all the various tech involved in the tale. There’s a handful of weapons, especially once an alien ship demands to board the medical supply ship. Then there’s all the references to the computer virus. Next, at least one person will need doctoring before the tale is through. I definitely felt like we were in some far flung future aboard a snazzy medical space ship.

The stow-away alien was both scary and fascinating. It was a kind of blobby spider and it was unclear if it was sentient or not. Other than acting on it’s homicidal urges, there was no direct communication with it. Remard, who is also an alien, is obviously of a more rational and congenial sort. It’s obvious from the beginning that he and Vexen have a true friendship and have been in tough places together before. Then there is the evil alien commander Delphan, a reptilian race, that demands to board the drifting medical supply ship. I really liked that we had more than one alien variety.

The ending leaves a little up to the reader to decide and I was OK with that. Usually, I like it when the author has chosen a definite ending but in this case, it was well done. Over all, there was plenty here for scifi fans to enjoy. I am hoping the author revisits this little universe she has created, granting us more Vexen stories.

I received a copy of this audiobook at no cost from the narrator (via Theater of the Mind FB group) in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: Owen McCuen was a good fit for this tale. At first, I was a little concerned because our main character is female, so why not a female narrator? But then I heard his voice for Vexen, which is very well done, and my concerns were laid to rest. He had a most excellent voice for Remard which consisted of this odd alien accent – very well done! Later on, he comes up with another, distinct, well done alien accent for the reptilian Delphan. There’s a handful of sound effects thrown in, mostly connected with Della the ship computer. The first loud beep startled me and the cats, but then the rest were well integrated into the narration. 

What I Liked: Interesting main character Vexen; so much going wrong in such a short amount of time; Remard is a great side kick; variety of aliens; the ending was sound; great narration.

What I Disliked: Honestly, the only thing I didn’t like about this book was the cover, and that is such a minor thing.

What Others Think:

Tattle Tale

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

Website

Facebook

Twitter

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Etsy

Amazon for People Suck

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.

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IZ ~ The Izzy Story – Encounters by Ddwlem

DdwlemISTheIzzyStoryEncountersWhere I Got It: Review copy

Narrators: Roy Kelly & the whole crew

Publisher: Ddwlem, LLC (2015)

Length: 2 hours 35 minutes

Series: Book 1 The Izzy Story

Author’s Page

 

Scientists from the far off planet Authair are in a race against time. A plague is killing their people and the must find a safe haven to complete their research. Earth looks like a winner. Meanwhile, a group of archaeologists and archaeology students are peeking into ruins and find something unexpected.

The action and humor are a lot of fun in this book. We start off in space with aliens, scientists (mad or otherwise), and  Izzy himself (who is like some sort of intelligent cat lizard). There’s this plague and some bad guys and the good guys must flee and continue playing with their glass beakers at the same time. They spot Earth and discuss, determining that it looks like a good place to hide out.

Then we totally switch character lists. Now we get to play with the Earthlings and the pace slows way down. This second half of the story is definitely more about a mystery and building some suspense. An archaeology student’s dog digs something unique up and the professor is consulted. Various shenanigans ensue.

For the most part, this book was fun, combining two of my favorite things – space opera and archaeological mystery. My only criticism is that the book is so cleanly divided in half in location and characters that I felt I was reading 2 separate stories. Plus this book cuts off before the connection between the two is cleanly tied together. So be ready to jump into Book 2!

I received this audiobook from the author (via the Audiobook Blast Newsletter) at no cost in exchange for an honest review.

The Narration: The narration, sound effects, and music for this book are excellent. It made the book extra fun to have so many voice actors and sound effects. The music was a nice touch too, never drowning out the dialogue.

What I Liked: Fun mix of space opera & archaeology mystery; Izzy is a strange cat lizard thing; both good and mad scientists abound; plenty of humor.

What I Disliked: Felt like I read 2 smaller books as the two story lines weren’t solidly connected by the end of this book.

 

Dawn of Destiny by Lee Stephen

StephenDawnOfDestinyWhere I Got It: Review copy.

Narrators: Patrick Quance, Stewart Cummings, and full cast & crew

Publisher: Stone Aside Publishing (2014)

Length: 9.7 hours

Series: Book 1 Epic series

Author’s Page

It’s a new era for mankind. We know we are not alone in the universe. At least 3 species of aliens have made their presence known. A global military, Earth Defense Network (EDEN) was created. Scott Remington has recently graduated from EDEN and his first post has him far from family and friends, in among strangers. His first few assignments will test him in ways he never expected.

This book is Christian military science fiction, which probably seems like a mouthful when you say that out loud. First, our main character and several side characters are Christian and their faith becomes an integral part of the story. Second, all the action and characters are military. Third, this is set somewhere in the future after aliens have come by Earth kicking up a hornet’s nest and world governments have responded by creating EDEN, a well-established organization by the time this story begins.

I really liked that the aliens were not some simplistic bad guys for our good guys to shoot down at every chance. First, we don’t know the alien motivations but several of our characters spend time discussing what might be possible. There are three species and they don’t all play well together, but none of them seem interested in having Earth side with them either. The author includes all sorts of biological snippets about these beings, along with info on their weapons. These passages were some of my favorites throughout the book.

Our main character is Christian, which is barely mentioned at the beginning but by the end becomes a pretty consuming part of the story. I became weary of this aspect of the tale as, at times, I felt the story was a little preachy. Plus, no other religions are represented or brought up and I do like to see more diversity in my SF. It’s one of the main reasons I read/listen to so much of it.

My other issue was that all the ladies were in support roles – MedTechs, wives, etc. In fact there is a short conversation between two men about whether or not the ladies should be allowed to serve in the military in combat situations, which made the story feel more like a 1950s war story shined up with some new tech and some aliens but with some of the same old prejudices. Also, the story never has two women in the same room talking about the plot, but the men do this all the time. Additionally, all the plot decisions are made by the men.

I thought the pacing was really good. We had the actions scenes interspersed with moments of reflection. Some of the action scenes were purely that, with cool tech, and some were much more suspenseful. I enjoyed both varieties. Over all, I’m on the fence about this one. If Christian fiction is your thing, then this might be an excellent book for you.

 

I was provided this audiobook at no charge by iRead Book Tours in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks!

The Narration: Let me say that the narration, sound effects, and music are all excellent on this book. It’s probably my main temptation to see where the story goes from here in Book 2. I really liked how the sound effects and music were never loud enough to drown out the dialogue. Plenty of narrators were involved in this production, so we have all sorts of accents and character voices. There are even some alien sounds! 

What I Liked: The cover art;  excellent narration; intriguing info on the aliens; good pacing; fun tech. 

What I Disliked: The Christian fiction part of the tale became a bit much for me; all the women are in support roles. 

What Others Think:

To see what others think of the book, check out the blog tour over at iRead Book Tours Schedule.

Inside a Silver Box by Walter Mosley

Heldig, my most evil cat.
Heldig, my most evil cat.

Where I Got It: Review copy from the publisher via Audiobook Jukebox (thanks!).

Narrator: Dion Graham

Publisher: HighBridge (2015)

Length: 6 hours 54 minutes

Author’s Page

Ronnie Bottoms and Lorraine Fell crash together in just the right place to activate the Silver Box, a box that the Laz (an alien race) placed on the Earth long before humans and which contains & constrains the last of a most powerful and destructive sentient force. Together, they struggle to contain what they inadvertently have set loose in order to save the entire planet.

I don’t like this book and I really did want to like this book. It is my first Walter Mosley book and I have heard great things about his work. HighBridge Audio is a quality publisher and the narrator, Dion Graham, is awesome. The cover art is intriguing. The story itself was a clash of themes and ideas that never melded into a coherent plot line. Quite frankly, I was bored with it.

First, Ronnie is a serial mugger and rapist. He has been in and out of prison much of his adult life. He ‘meets’ Lorraine in a New York City park when he attempts to mug and rape her. She fights back and he reacts harshly, killing her. This all happens in an area that is full of small boulders and large rocks and is right over the resting place of the Silver Box. Once Lorraine is dead, the Silver Box preserves her consciousness and this allows her to take over other bodies and eventually get Ronnie to return to the scene of the crime. At that point, using the power of the Silver Box, he has the greatest orgasmic experience of his life in bringing Lorraine’s dead, bloated corpse back to life, and in fine shape.

So we get all that very early on in the book. Ronnie and Lorraine have now become our heroes set on saving the Earth. They have been set upon a quest and given special powers. And they decide they need to visit family, friends, and folks from their past in order to hash some stuff out. Uh… wasn’t there a time limit for their quest? I kept waiting for the story to veer back towards the cool scifi part that involves aliens and saving the Earth. That is almost completely sidelined until the very end, which is hugely anticlimactic and not satisfying at all.

Next, Ronnie is now one of our heroes. Mr. Serial Rapist is going to save the Earth. He has completely turned over a new leaf (in record time from one scene to the next) and now sees that all those horrible things he did were wrong. He no longer has all the anger and hunger inside. So he digs up an old teacher to chat about the old days, stumbles into an old girlfriend, and crashes at Lorraine’s swanky uptown penthouse, complete with weekly maid service. He never visits his victims to redress his past ill deeds. I had a hard time routing for him because of his past bad behavior and also because he is not being very proactive in saving the world.

Lorraine wasn’t much better. She comes from a privileged family and she has to struggle with realizing that turning your head and looking the other way is wrong, especially when you have the power and money to make a difference. She has a shouting match with her parents, who threaten to stop making payments on her penthouse. So, Lorraine doesn’t work and isn’t paying for her upkeep at all, and that doesn’t change by the end of the book. I found her character to be boring because her circumstances didn’t change, so her behavior didn’t have to change much either.

Lastly, there is sex, and then there isn’t. Ronnie initially attempts to rape Lorraine, and once she returns to the land of the living, she has some choice words to say to him about that. But then they get super powers and there are 2 scenes in the book where they kind of have sex. And yet they think of each other as akin to siblings since the Silver Box changed them. So that added a yuck factor to their sexytimes, plus that whole attempted rape thing starting off their acquaintance.

So with all that, I had this feeling that perhaps the author was attempting to mash together opposing themes that would intentionally make the reader uncomfortable. Yes, I left this book feeling like I had been put through some kind of social experiment and then tossed out the back door with my meager compensation for my time – the pleasure of writing up this review.

The Narration: While I didn’t care for this book, Dion Graham was an amazing narrator. His voice is deep and smooth and a joy to listen to. He had dialects for the various New Yorkers and a range of male and female voices. The audio production was excellent.  

What I Liked: Excellent narration; cool cover art.

What I Disliked: I never connected with the main characters; the cool scifi element took a back seat to the boring philosophy lesson on good and evil; the ending was supremely anticlimactic and totally unsatisfying; very awkward sexytimes.

What Others Think:

Book Reporter

Apocalypta by Robin Matchett

MatchettApocalyptaWhy I Read It: Cool tech, aliens, and a world recovered from an apocalypse – what’s not to like?

Where I Got It: Review copy via the book tour (thanks!).

Who I Recommend This To: For fans of aliens & interesting tech.

Publisher: James Piercemoore Books (2014)

Length: 613 pages

Author’s Page

Cephren Path, our main character, is the leader of Sunsetwind, a place that values nature and peace among nations (or city-states in some cases in this future 25th century world). The Earth suffered a pummeling by an asteroid (that was broken into smaller chunks by missiles) sometime in the 22nd or 23rd century. It was enough to nearly wipe out humanity. The people we meet in the beginning of this novel are the products (many generations later) of those who survived the initial emergency and the subsequent violent climate changes. Sunsetwind’s nearest neighbors are the Chicagos and the Mississippis, along with the roving bands of Foragers. What technology the governments have was built upon earlier scavenging of 20th and 21st century tech. This includes several curious chips, a few of which seem to have hidden or locked down information. Cephren, his friends, and at least one competitive power all believe that this hidden info points to alien contact with humans during the 20th or 21st century and may prove relevant in their modern time.

First, I really enjoyed all the very interesting names of the characters in this book: Chromolox, Cephren, Cleopatra, Jimmy Pigeon, Trinny Burnamthorpe, etc.  Also, many of these characters come from a mixed heritage, which I also liked. A humanity so torn apart and decimated would most likely have to come together to rebuild, and that means mixed cultures/heritages. So it was fun to see what the author came up with. While the characters themselves are interesting, once established most of them remain the same throughout the book. But since the plot was pretty interesting, I didn’t mind the lack of character growth.

There’s lots of cool tech for those of you who salivate over such things (I being one of those). And the author provides a quick explanation within the narrative of the story on each tech without belaboring the point. Much of the tech is useful stuff (transportation, weather control, chip reading, etc.) and not just for show.

Threading its way throughout the plot is what I will call an alien conspiracy/coverup, for lack of a better term. In the context of this science fiction plot, Area 51 and 20th century contact with aliens are treated as facts and become integral to the plotline. And that all works well. However, I got the feeling from time to time that the author had a personal message wrapped up in this story and my personal preference on personal messages is that they be so well hidden that only the author’s closest companions can tease it out. Still, many folks don’t mind an underlying message.

I do have 2 criticisms, but they are not show stoppers. One, I would have loved to have had a map of the 25th century North America where the story starts out. That could just be the nerd in me. It wasn’t necessary to enjoy the story. Second, there was some repetition and occasionally I felt that one character or another (Cephren, I’m looking at you) rambled on and on. At 613 pages, it could have used one more editing out of words to give that final polish, that neat trim. With all that said, it was a fun and entertaining story.

What I Liked: Cool tech; neat culture/heritage mix; there is still human conflict in the 25th century; interesting alien-human contact thread throughout plot.

What I Disliked: I wanted a map (but I won’t hold that against the book); could use another edit to cut out the remaining repetition and some of the ramblings.

A little more about Robin Matchett

Rob (Robin) Matchett was born in Paris, France, in 1956 of Canadian parents, and moved to Canada at four years old. Apparently on the way, he spent hours in a porthole watching the sea, pondering existence. Now his life continues through a porthole – a regret being he didn’t remain in France a few more years. Though, embracing Canada he went native, steeped in the elements from where land-locked on the crest of a giant windblown hill, he commands from the bridge of a ship, foundered on springs, fields and forests. Still unreleased from the yoke of his servitude, he dabbles in the stars, unlocking secrets from history and the future. Many transfigurations have occurred, of which he has faithfully transcribed into various literary forms, including novels, poems and film scripts, and continues to do so. Among other eclectic interests, he is known to be well-read; enjoy wholesome kitchen garden culinary pursuits; calvados; has musical inclinations, and often known to be wired into the Grateful Dead. He is of a retiring nature, addicted to movies and documentaries, considered a professional obligation rather than lesser appraisals.

MatchettApocalyptaAbout the book Apocalypta

Apocalypta is a novel about a post-apocalyptic world at the cusp of the 25th century. With the discovery of a synaptic memory chip holding the memories of individuals in the past, there is an attempt to avert a return to the terrible conflagrations of the past. This chip – ‘the eyes of god’ – holds salvation through the truth. The main character, implanted with the chip, bids the reader to follow history back to our present time in order to understand the future. Moreover, humanity has a chance to become members of a galactic confederation, which through various species have been instrumental in our emergence from earliest times. Many unusual characters color this story, which is ultimately about the struggle for humanity to rise to a higher place in its long quest for survival.

Where to Find Robin Matchett

Webpage:           http://robinmatchett.com/
Facebook:           https://www.facebook.com/pages/Rob-Matchett/308245449351237
Twitter:                @RobMatchettAuth

The Giveaway!
1st Prize:  $50 Amazon.com gift certificate and autographed copy of Apocalypta
2nd Prize:  $25 Amazon.com gift certificate and autographed copy of Apocalypta
3rd Prize:  Autographed copy of Apocalypta

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