Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Mary Turzillo, Author of Mars Girls

Join me in welcoming Mary Turzillo to the blog! Apex Magazine has put together this lovely blog tour to celebrate Mary’s newest book, Mars Girls. Learn about science fiction poetry and Mary’s involvement in fencing! Make sure you check out the giveaway at the bottom of the post to see how to win an ebook copy of this science fiction novel.

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

I’m going to be very unoriginal here. I wish Darth could change back into Anakin, through time travel, I suppose, to be reunited and reconciled with Padme, then rejoice in the birth of Luke and Leia. But the Star Wars universe so far has not included time-reversal, so I guess that’s out. Oh well.

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

All the old pulps. All the Ace Doubles. Oh, wait! It ALREADY exists: The Judith Merril Collection, in Toronto! It’s a great institution, run by fabulous librarians. If you are ever in Toronto, don’t miss it. And there’s a great poutine restaurant nearby.

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

Oh, that’s an easy one. Star Wars. It was so fresh when it first came to the screen, so epic. And I’d like to see it without knowing what happened to all the actors later on, because some of that is so sad. I really felt there were more imaginative leaps in the first Star Wars movies than in any previous science fiction movie. The vehicles, the aliens, the bots — any single one of them you could find models for in previous movies, or at least some original thinking. But Star Wars just piled on the neat stuff, scene after scene. And the other thing was a beautiful, very young woman acting as a warrior and a hero. Then more of the same as the series developed.

I also would like to see Scanners and the original The Thing and maybe the original (?) Invasion of the Body Snatchers. A little dark, I know. I do love Donald Sutherland’s work.

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

I hated and loved teaching at Trumbull campus of Kent State. A few of my students were difficult; one class of nursing students tried unrelentingly to drive me from the classroom. They left a preserved pig’s ear on my lectern. They hazed the best student in the class. They shoved a cake in my face. I had a student who wrote themes that were thinly disguised death threats — meaning, my death.

But I was heavily involved with art and theatre students, and they were so inventive and so eager to learn and create, that I am still friends with many of them years later. Some of them have become published authors. Some are college profs, following in my footsteps. I created costumes for Shakespeare shows that they were in. I coached them on lines. I was even in shows with them, playing a witch in Macbeth and Richard III’s mother.

One of my favorite memories: In my office one afternoon, suddenly a human body with an elephant head appeared in the open door. It was one of my Shakespeare I students, just finished with his prosthetics project from his Theatrical makeup class. A few minutes later, the victim of a horrible accident appeared. Blood all over, broken nose, black eye, missing teeth. Another of my student’s prosthetic makeup projects. Later, a green alien, with huge bulging eyes and tentacles sprouting from his bald head. Same deal. A Cthulhu head. An ancient old lady. They each challenged me to identify them, and I could only match my students’ names to about half of them. That was before I had an iPhone, or I’d share pictures. If only!

Those were the kids I loved, the best students in the whole world. The best people.

I loved the non-theatre students, too. They were original, creative, full of spirit and hope. I still know many of them as friends.

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

My husband, Geoff Landis, for obvious reasons. But then I’d choose an additional crewmate with an engineering background, like Arlan Andrews, Vernor Vinge, or Arthur C. Clarke. Of Course I’d want a physician, and so I’d choose F. Paul Wilson and Janet Asimov, with Robin Cook for second and third opinions, in case I had a space-related injury. Octavia Butler, because she could think her way out of anything. I wish she was still with us! Joan Slonczewski in case we needed a little genetic engineering done.

If you were asked to create the syllabus for a college class in Science Fiction & Fantasy poetry, what works would be on there as required reading? As passing discussion?

Wow, if only! It would need to contain be an enormous number of poems, so let me just sketch out my brainstorming for this fantasy course.

First Unit: Roots: I’d want poems from Shakespeare (selected passages from The Tempest) and maybe some passages from Dante and Milton, for perspective. Christina Rossetti’s Goblin Market, of course. A smattering of Poe. These would be early in the course, as teasers, because they would be beautiful and draw students in.

Second Unit: Theory: I’d direct students to follow sfpoetry.com. Essay readings would be assigned, particularly Suzette Haden Elgin’s The Science Fiction Poetry Handbook. I think there exists an essay called “Why Speculative Poetry Matters,” but I can’t find it right now.

Third Unit: An Explosion of New Masters Mid Twentieth Century: The next part of the course would be devoted to landmark spec poetry: I’d assign several anthologies, especially Edward Lucie-Smith’s Holding Your Eight Hands: an Anthology of Science Fiction Verse (1969) and Robert Frazier’s Burning with a Vision: Poetry of Science and the Fantastic (1984).

Fourth Unit: Twentieth Century Master: Contemporary Masters: Here I’d pile on Ray Bradbury’s When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, with special attention to “If We Had Only Taller Been.” Then there would be slim volumes by Roger Zelazny, parts of Creatures of Light and Darkness, plus To Spin is Miracle Cat and “When Pussywillows Last in the Catyard Bloomed.” Next, Ursula Le Guin, not sure which volume, maybe New and Selected Poems.

Fifth Unit: Masters of the Last Thirty Years: I’d create an anthology of all the Rhysling winners. This would be quite a task, because I’d a) have to locate the authors or their literary estates and b) wrangle permission to reprint. So I might just do a Samizdat printing, or have students read the poems from the SFPpoetry website. (I won a 2nd one time, but it’s not up there, because they started listing them after my winning.) I’d also include Bruce Boston’s retrospective, Dark Roads; at least one collection by Jane Yolen; David Kopaska-Merkel’s The Memory of Persistence, Geoff Landis’s Iron Angels, F.J. Bergmann’s Constellation of the Dragonfly, David Cowen’s The Madness of Empty Spaces, one of Mary Soon Lee’s extraordinary Crowned series, and Marge Simon’s Unearthly Delights.

Plus poems by Ann Schwader, Kendall Evans, Suzette Haden Elgin, Bryan Thao Worra, Mike Allen, Deborah P. Kolodji, Sandra Lindow, Gary William Crawford, Josh Gage, Mari Ness, Rachel Pollack, John Amen, Lucy Snyder, J.E. Stanley, G.O.Clark, Tim Esaias, Scott Green, Robert Borsky, Denise Dumars, Bryan D. Dietrich, Linda D. Addison, Sandra Kasturi, David Clink, Stephanie Wytovich, Herb Kauderer, and Alessandro Manzetti.

Out of pure egotism, I would offer free copies of my own books, Lovers & Killers (Dark Regions, 2012) and Your Cat & Other Space Aliens (Van Zeno, 2007) as prizes for the best essays about some other poet.

I’d have a few words about SciFaiku, plus poets outside the spec fic community who write speculative and may not even know it: Billy Collins, Lola Haskins.

I’d alas not be able to do much with non-English-speaking poets —

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 told Roger Zelazny I wanted to BE him. Roger was fundamentally very reserved, and just kind of froze in horror.

I also fed Algis Budrys an absolutely inedible meal at my house — burned to charcoal. And suggested he should watch his diet and stress level.

Another awkward moment was when I was at a Writer of the Future event and my boyfriend asked Larry Niven what he did for a living. This boyfriend soon became my ex-boyfriend. (Of course that was also because I took him to a Warren Zevon concert and he made fun of the drummer’s hairdo.)

Competitive fencing has been a part of your life. How did you get into it? How long have you been fencing?

I always wanted to fence. Swords, don’t all geeks love them? My departed son collected historical replica swords, so I feel a connection with him when I fence. My husband and I have been fencing for over five years and by pure luck I represented the US in Veteran’s (meaning over 40) Women’s Foil in Germany last year.

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

The whole debate about “mainstream” (meaning literary realism) versus speculative fiction. I hope we’ve finally put that puppy in the grave.

Of course now the big debate is that some factions (white hetero males) think there’s too much emphasis on social justic themes in fiction by women and minorities. It makes my head ache.

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

Margaret Wise Brown’s The Golden Egg Book. The illustrations are so very Miyasaki-like, so pretty, in my memory. The second book I read was Clare Turlay Newberry’s April’s Kittens, a story about a girl who loves her cats, but has to choose between the mother cat and her kitten.

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

I’ll be at Worldcon in Finland (if we ever make our plane rez). I’m trying to arrange some signings for Mars Girls. I’m in the process of arranging some bookstore signings. Check Facebook (I make all my posts public, so you don’t have to go through the whole “friend” chore.) and I have an Amazon Author Page.

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Book Blurb for Mars Girls:

Nanoannie is bored. She wants to go to clubs, wear the latest Earth fashions, and dance with nuke guys. But her life is not exciting. She lives on her family’s Pharm with her parents, little sister, and a holo-cat named Fuzzbutt. The closest she gets to clubs are on the Marsnet. And her parents are pressuring her to sign her contract over to Utopia Limited Corp before she’s even had a chance to live a litte. When Kapera—a friend from online school—shows up at her Pharm asking for help, Nanoannie is quick to jump in the roer and take off. Finally an adventure!

What Nanoannie and Kapera find at the Smythe’s Pharm is more than the girls bargained for. The hab has been trashed and there are dead bodies buried in the backyard! If that wasn’t bad enough, the girls crash the rover and Kapera gets kidnapped by Facers who claim her parents are murderers! Between Renegade Nuns, Facers, and corp geeks, Nanoannie and Kapera don’t know who to trust or where to go. Kapera only wants to find her parents so they can get to Earth Orbitals and she can be treated for her leukemia. Nanoannie wants to help her friend and experience a little bit of Mars before selling her contract to the first corp that offers to buy it.

Life isn’t easy when you’re just a couple of Mars Girls.

Author Bio

Mary Turzillo’s 1999 Nebula-winner,”Mars Is no Place for Children” and her Analog novel, AN OLD-FASHIONED MARTIAN GIRL, are read on the International Space Station. Her poetry collection, LOVERS & KILLERS, won the 2013 Elgin Award.  She has been a finalist on the British Science Fiction Association, Pushcart, Stoker, Dwarf Stars and Rhysling ballots.   SWEET POISON, her Dark Renaissance collaboration with Marge Simon, was a Stoker finalist and won the 2015 Elgin Award.   She’s working on a novel, A MARS CAT & HIS BOY, and another collaboration with Marge Simon, SATAN’S SWEETHEARTS. Her novel MARS GIRLS is forthcoming from Apex.   She lives in Ohio, with her scientist-writer husband, Geoffrey Landis, both of whom fence internationally.

Geoff and Mary ponder the question: what would it be like to fence in zero-G? and: What about if we were cats fencing in zero-G?

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GIVEAWAY!!!

Apex is giving away 1 ebook copy of Mars Girls, open world wide. Just do the Rafflecopter thing below. Ends June 17, 2017, midnight.

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Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Colin Falconer, Author of Opium

Everyone, please give a warm welcome to Colin Falconer. He’s the author of the Opium, along with his newly released Sleeping with the Enemy, and my personal favorite, Colossus. Scroll to the bottom for the ebook GIVEAWAY of 3 copies of Opium.

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

Starwars, Susan. I’d be a Stormtrooper: only I’d bring my own gun and be the first Stormtrooper to ever actually hit someone. (Probably Luke Skywalker, he annoys me.)

Or I’d be Blofeld’s cat.  All that screen time but I wouldn’t have to remember any lines.

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

Moby Dick. I’d like to see him swim off to a marine park reserve safe from idiots like Ahab. Maybe have some little humpbacks with a Mrs Di-, well with a wife. And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s long overdue that the guy who killed Bambi’s mother be brought to justice. I hate that guy, have done ever since I was 3.

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

This is weird but – the entire collection of Classics Illustrated Comics. You can read the entire canon of great Western literature in a single wet afternoon. It is the cheat notes of all cheat notes, a condensation of every great classic story ever written; Jules Verne’s Michael Strogoff, Dumas’s Black Tulip, Wilkie’s Moonstone.

Unusual choice, I know. But it would also bring back memories of my Aunty Ivy, who used to buy them for me at Chingford markets, so I had something to do on wet Saturday in London. At eight years old, I fell in love with Story.

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

The most difficult job was my thirteen years as a volunteer in the country ambulance service. It was also the best and most rewarding, outside of writing.

I worked with a fantastic team of people and the challenges were exacting, auto accidents and beach rescues being among the most arduous but also the most rewarding. One moment I’d be tapping away on the laptop, the next I’d be crawling into a car wreck.

There is absolutely no comparison to the writing life but I loved it just the same.

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

The Lord of the Rings. Call of the Wild. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. The Seven Pillars of Wisdom.

If you could own a famous or historical art work, what would it be? Would you put it on public display or keep it privately?

Michelangelo’s David. I’d put it in my front garden. Only I’d put shorts on him so people would stop laughing. I’ve always felt sorry for the guy.

Side characters can make or break a story. What side characters have you enjoyed in other works? What side characters in your own work have caught more attention than you expected?

I’m intrigued by Queen Gertrude in Hamlet. We never really learn what was going on in her head, or how culpable she was in the death of Hamlet’s father. For me, she’s almost as interesting as Hamlet.

Orr, in Catch-22. He drives Yossarian crazy, and everyone thinks he’s a moron, and Yossarian won’t fly with him because Orr crashes his plane every time he flies. But he turns out to be the smartest guy in the whole squadron and the key to Yossarian’s final triumph.

Then there’s Judas in the Bible. Why does he hang himself at the end? More going on there than we’re told, and perhaps the traditional answers about him don’t ring true. Definitely a case of an Unreliable Narrator.

But the quintessential secondary character for me is Tybalt. He’s not in the original poem that Shakespeare took his play from, but ‘Romeo and Juliet’ wouldn’t work without him. Tybalt makes Romeo likeable and gives the play its impetus at the midpoint. That’s why Willy invented him.

For my own characters – well my favourite minor character is Ruby Wen. She was supposed to be the villain’s love interest but just took over CHASING THE DRAGON. The girl couldn’t lie straight in a torpedo tube, but she’s sexy and spirited and funny as all get out.

Pity what happened to her in the end, but it was inevitable, I suppose.

Chupa snoring

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

Clearly, Superman if I wanted to win it.

But if I wanted to just trail along behind, drinking and smoking cigars, like I did in the school cross country races, then Charles Bukowski.

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Book Blurb for Opium

Vientiane, 1960. Laos is a sleepy post-colonial backwater, run by generals and at war with the communist Pathet Lao in the north. Corsican gangsters, left behind after the French departure five years before, run the opium trade, flying raw opium out of the mountains to Bangkok and Saigon. The most celebrated of the milieu is Rocco Bonaventure, cursed with a daughter who turns heads everywhere she goes. Baptiste Croce is kind of man her father has always warned her about – a handsome and womanising pilot with his eye on the main chance. But Noelle is a woman to be reckoned with, as both Rocco and Baptiste discover for themselves. Their affair, conducted against the looming mountains of Indochina and its blazing poppy fields, change all their lives forever. Baptiste risks his life for her again and again in the air; or is it for control of his father’s opium business? Meanwhile in the teeming slums of Hong Kong’s Walled City, a Chinese refugee uses his cunning and his fists to rise to become Red Pole of the Fei Leung triad. He sees beyond the filthy opium dens to a day when the drug will help him rule the world. From the jungles of the Golden Triangle to the tenements of sixties Hong Kong, from colonial Saigon to the skies of northern Laos, romance and horror collide in a stunning novel of passion and greed and breath-taking action. The Opium series charts the story of the drug trade in Indochina, from sacks thrown in the back of tiny planes in the nineteen sixties to the multimillion dollar international industry that soon became the plague of the western world.

Amazon

Author Bio: 

Colin Falconer is an internationally best-selling author. Born in London, he was a freelance journalist and advertising copywriter for many years. But writing novels was his passion and led him to write his first book, Venom, based on his own experiences in South East Asia. 

He has now published over 50 books that have been translated into 23 languages.

His next novel with Lake Union THE UNKILLABLE KITTY O’KANE is out in November, and the first novel in a new crime series will be published by Little Brown in London in April 2018. His latest novel SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY is available with Amazon here: http://amzn.to/2ohHfdg

GIVEAWAY!!!

Colin is graciously offering up 3 copies of her ebook Opium. Giveaway is open internationally! Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: What country do you live in? What has been your most difficult job? Optional: Follow Colin Falconer anyway you like and tell me in the comments where you follow him and under what name. Giveaway ends June 21st, 2017, midnight.

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Audiobook Giveaway & Interview: JB Rockwell, Science Fiction Author

Folks, please give a warm welcome to J B Rockwell to the blog today. Learn about Jennifer’s dream library, just who the Swiss Army knives of spec fic are, and how she ended up in a duel of toothpicks at dawn! Interested in winning a CD copy of her latest SF book Dark & Stars? Then scroll to the bottom for the giveaway!

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

Well, if you could resurrect Firefly, I’d be all over that. Me and Kaylee hanging out, slinging wrenches in the engine room, lobbing one-liners at the rest of the crew. 🙂 If we’re sticking with something current, I’d love to be on Fargo—that is the darkest, funniest, most oddball show out there and I love it. I’d want to play a Deputy or something so I can PACK HEAT AND EAT DONUTS ROWR!!!!

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

Smaug. I mean, that poor little guy was the only dragon left in Middle Earth and, yeah, he was squatting in the dwarves’ house, but c’mon! Dude was cold! And gold hungry! Can’t blame him for wanting to move in! And what do they do? Run away. Abandon him. Leave him all alone sleeping on a cold, hard bed of coins. Sheesh. No wonder he had anger issues. They could have at least given him a kitten. I’d love to see a rewrite where Bilbo lures Smaug out with a pretty, little lady dragon and they fly away to live happily ever after on some nice, warm tropical island where there are no dwarves at all. THE END.

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

I don’t even know what to call it, but there’s this grey area between horror and mystery that needs more love. I love a creepy, mysterious story that’s a little scary, but I don’t necessarily need the graphic gore. So light horror/creepy—more of that, please! Oh, and give it a name, too, so I know how to google it.

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

UGH! THIS QUESTION IS TOO HARD!!!! Soooo many books.

Okay. If I have choose something, let me highlight a few sections I think are mandatory:

1. Every edition and every cover of Lord of the Rings ever printed—some of those were GORGEOUS. Also include any of the companion books, map books, art books, etc. I want all the Lord of the Rings book things!
2. An entire section devoted to folklore. And make it BIG because I want Celtic and Norse, Russian and Bulgarian, Korean and Japanese and African and everything else. GIMME ALL THE FOLKLORE FROM ALL THE CULTURES!!!
3. An entire section dedicated to books on dragons. And not just fiction books (stop laughing, dragons are real). Science books, picture books, biology texts, I want it all.
4. An entire section devoted to female spec fic authors. Another section for spec fic POC authors. A third for spec-fic LGBTQ. I want to highlight their awesomeness—they deserve more space!!
5. A Dr. Seuss area with all his books, a load of bean bags, and some big, comfy chairs. And puppies. And a few kittens.

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?

Supernatural creature hands down. I can even see how this scenario would play out: Nessie saves me and takes me to her secret and awesome lair beneath the loch (this is also where all the world’s unicorns hide out, too, by the way). Over tea and cake we become fast friends, spending our days playing bagpipes and eating shortbreads, and our nights drinking beer and tossing haggis at the tourists.

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?

Modern fantasy is a lot more all-encompassing, so definitely, yes. Early fantasy was very western culture and myth centric (still is), but we’re gradually seeing more books based on African, and Asian, and other world cultures, which is FAN-FREAKING-TASTIC. The global economy is exposing people to other foods, and beliefs, and ways of thinking, and fantasy is giving us amazing new backdrops, and creatures, and characters that influence art, and culture, and fashion, and so many other aspects of our lives. We just need more—MORE MORE MORE MORE MORE!!

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

TRANSPORTER PLEASE??!! Raise your hand if you’re sick of sitting in traffic? Or driving hours to the airport to sit for hours in the airport and then spend hours on a plane. Granted, there’s the whole ‘catastrophic failure ending in subatomic deconstruction’ thing, but c’mon! Hawaii in 2 minutes! GIMME THAT!

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

I love that first line, by the way. It simultaneously reads like poetry, and like I got dropped into a choose your own adventure story. 😀

And now, my answer! I am TOTALLY bringing Elizabeth Bear because she would either fight her way through any and all adversities, or lie, cheat, steal and swindle to pull us through. I’d also want N.K. Jemisin because she seems to think quickly on her feet and would come up with some wonky and entirely unexpected solution to save our bacon. Bear and Jemisin: the Swiss Army knives of speculative fiction.

Often various historical aspects (people, locations, events) are used in fantasy and sometimes rehashed in a far-flung future. In your opinion, what are some examples of such historical aspects being used well in the SF/F genre?

So, I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s Gunslinger series. One of the things I loved most about these books (beyond the movement between time periods) were the references to various cultures, and myths, and stories that are sprinkled throughout. ‘See the Turtle of enormous girth’ is an obvious reference to a classic creation myth. The character of Roland: a reference to Child Roland to the Dark Tower Came. The six beams and their guardians—all references to Native American totems and myths. That’s just a sampling of the rich tapestry of this multi-part story, a series that mixes sci-fi, fantasy and western elements and pulls it off in style.

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

Oh man. I was lucky enough to get invited onto the Super Awesome Geek Show (twice!) and we geeked out so hard on Star Wars. I’m a huge fan but not a super fan so I love talking Star Wars, but I admit I also enjoy mercilessly teasing the ‘cannon’ quoters. 🙂 I honestly can’t remember what specific part of Star Wars we were discussing—this was in the run-up to The Force Awakens this first time, and Rogue One the second time—but it ended with a challenge involving toothpicks at dawn…?

May 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

December 2016 Episode of Super Awesome Geek Show with J B Rockwell

About Jennifer Rockwell: 

J.B. Rockwell is a New Englander, which is important to note because it means she’s (a) hard headed, (b) frequently stubborn, and (c) prone to fits of snarky sarcasticness. As a kid she subsisted on a steady diet of fairy tales, folklore, mythology augmented by generous helpings of science fiction and fantasy. As a quasi-adult she dreamed of being the next Indiana Jones and even pursued (and earned!) a degree in anthropology. Unfortunately, those dreams of being an archaeologist didn’t quite work out. Through a series of twists and turns (involving cats, a marriage, and a SCUBA certification, amongst other things) she ended up working in IT for the U.S. Coast Guard and now writes the types of books she used to read. Not a bad ending for an Indiana Jones wannabe…

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Book Blurb for Serengeti

It was supposed to be an easy job: find the Dark Star Revolution Starships, destroy them, and go home. But a booby-trapped vessel decimates the Meridian Alliance fleet, leaving Serengeti – a Valkyrie class warship with a sentient AI brain – on her own, wrecked and abandoned in an empty expanse of space. On the edge of total failure, Serengeti thinks only of her crew. She herds the survivors into a lifeboat, intending to sling them into space. But the escape pod sticks in her belly, locking the cryogenically frozen crew inside. Then a scavenger ship arrives to pick Serengeti‘s bones clean. Her engine’s dead, her guns long silenced; Serengeti and her last two robots must find a way to fight the scavengers off and save the crew trapped inside her.

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Book Blurb for Dark & Stars:

For 53 years Serengeti drifted, dreaming in the depths of space. Fifty-three years of patient waiting before her Valkyrie Sisters arrive to retrieve her from the dark. A bittersweet homecoming follows, the Fleet Serengeti once knew now in shambles, its admiral, Cerberus, gone missing, leaving Brutus in charge. Brutus who’s subsumed the Fleet, ignoring his duty to the Meridian Alliance to pursue a vendetta against the Dark Star Revolution.

The Valkyries have a plan to stop him – depose Brutus and restore the Fleet’s purpose – and that plan involves Serengeti. Depends on Serengeti turning her guns against her own.

Because the Fleet can no longer be trusted. With Brutus in charge, it’s just Serengeti and her Sisters, and whatever reinforcements they can find.

A top-to-bottom refit restores Serengeti to service, and after a rushed reunion with Henricksen and her surviving crew, she takes off for the stars. For Faraday – a prison station – to stage a jailbreak, and free the hundreds of Meridian Alliance AIs wrongfully imprisoned in its Vault. From there to the Pandoran Cloud and a rendezvous with her Valkyrie Sisters. To retrieve a fleet of rebel ships stashed away inside.

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GIVEAWAY!!!

J B Rockwell is offering up 1 audiobook (CD) copy of Dark & Stars (US Only due to shipping). Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments. 1) What state do you live in? 2) What future invention would you like to see during your lifetime? Giveaway ends May 27th, 2017 midnight.

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Interview: Jem Matzan, Author and Narrator

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Jem Matzan to the blog today. He’s a narrator of several books in Laurence Shames’s Key West Capers series as well as having written and narrated his own novel, The Hero. Today he has given us an entertaining look behind the curtains of such an artist. Enjoy!

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

I was a teenager in the 90s, which I hated because it seemed like everyone was obsessed with being as counter-culture as possible, which meant rejecting everything “old” no matter how good it was. I’d just discovered The Doors and Pink Floyd, though, so it was frustrating that all the popular music was the melodically-challenged slacker chanting of “alternative rock.” So the music was terrible, but the movies were great. I think I would have had more fun in the 1980s, though. When I was a kid it seemed that teenagers had a better time than I did only 6 or 7 years later. So much of American teenage culture got locked down, locked out, and put on rails in the 90s, and it hasn’t stopped getting worse since then.

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 Sopranos, because it needs to be watched carefully at least three times to get everything. There’s so much more you see the second and third times through — subtle hints at things to come, actors playing more than one role, David Chase cameos, Sal “Big Pussy” Bonpensiero’s ghost in the mirror at Tony’s house…

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 don’t think most books would make good games. However, back in the early 1990s there was a game called Betrayal at Krondor, which was a unique RPG based on Raymond E. Feist’s “Riftwar” fantasy series. There was nothing bad about it, and there hasn’t been another game like that since (except maybe the pseudo-sequels, which I didn’t play). Ironically, the Riftwar series was based on the D&D world that Feist and his friends built and LARPed with in the late 1970s, so Betrayal at Krondor was actually a game based on books that were based on a game. (I just checked to see if his books are in audio; only a few of the more recent ones are, plus some foreign language versions of the first Riftwar book. Anyway, one of his narrators is Richard Ferrone, who narrated some of Larry Shames’ “Key West Capers” series, which I’ve narrated/produced four of. I didn’t even need Kevin Bacon for that!)

Who are some of your favorite book villains?

Of the ones I’ve narrated, I like Charlie Ponte from the “Key West Capers” series. Partly it’s the voice I did for him, partly it’s that he’s a bad guy, but not truly the villain. He’s also got a lot of great lines that were fun to perform.

Of books I’ve not narrated… I don’t really know, because I haven’t read any fiction recreationally in years. I do so much professional reading that it just seems like more work. I never liked hardcore villains, though, they seem unrealistic. When I was a kid, cartoon villains were always after “power” and that never made sense to me, especially when they were already in charge of a gang or an army. True villains are in search of fun, stimulation, status bestowed by unreachable gatekeepers, a self-image that lives up to some unattainable fantasy.

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

I would have been a software engineer. Computer science was the direction I was heading in high school, but back then it was still a niche profession that used archaic languages, mostly for machine control, finance, and other high-end computing stuff. It wasn’t very exciting — nothing like today.

I applied to go to film school in my junior year of high school, but my grades weren’t good enough I guess — I truly hated school and couldn’t wait to get out and be free. At the time that was devastating, but now I’m glad I didn’t waste all that money on something I could more quickly and easily learn for free. I’m amazed film school even exists anymore, now that everyone’s got a good-enough movie camera on their phone, and easy access to decent video and audio editing software.

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?

Self-promotion isn’t a very successful strategy, I think. My strategy is: be seen and heard as often as possible, interact personally and positively on social media every day, and only talk about my professional work when there are new releases or when something substantial happens. When you spam the world, you have to get increasingly louder and more ridiculous over time. I’d rather tone it down, be human, and just let people know when I’ve got something new to read or listen to. I’m anti-hype; unfortunately, we live in an age of overwhelming hype.

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

I’d rather talk to them one on one or in a smaller group, but… Bert the Shirt from the Key West Capers books, Allan Quatermain, Spock, the Alec Guiness Obi-Wan Kenobi, and Larry Darrell from The Razor’s Edge.

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’ll give you two:

Last year at the Audio Publisher’s Association Conference, I sat down at lunch with a table of people I didn’t know, and got involved in a conversation about crossing over from audiobook narration to other forms of acting. We were all wearing nametags on lanyards, but they often flipped around so you couldn’t see who was who. About 10 minutes into the conversation, this one really tall guy who was being really protective of his voice in the loud room (wish I’d done that, too) mentioned that he was trying to get into TV work and had been in a few shows, but going back and forth to LA was a bit of a hassle. Then someone at the table asked who someone else was, and we all turned our nametags around and introduced ourselves, and I discovered that I’d been talking to Simon Vance. In general I’m not a big fan of any other narrators, but he’s the one exception. The introduction hit me in mid-chew of something I was eating, and with a partially-full mouth I’m all like “zomg, Simon Vance, I love your work! I used your performance in Dracula as a vocal model for characters in a few books.” And he kind of looked down and blushed and seemed surprised, and I realized I’d just acted like a huge dork and made him feel uncomfortable. If you’re reading this, sorry about that, Simon! I only acted like a dork because it caught me by surprise. If I’d recognized him when I sat down, I wouldn’t have blubbered like that.

The second one was a long time ago, at one of the last Star Trek conventions before they kind of fizzled out for a while in the late 90s. The featured actors were Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca), Robert Picardo and Ethan Phillips from Star Trek: Voyager, a NASA astronaut who piloted two space shuttles, and Robin Curtis, who played Lt. Saavik in Star Trek 3 and briefly in 4, and a smaller role in a two-part episode of Next Generation. Overall, it was a pretty good show. I have to say that the actual astronaut was the most fascinating of the bunch, but the actors were pretty cool with the exception of Peter Mayhew, who we were told would not speak to anyone in the autograph line and no one should attempt to make eye contact with him. Anyway, Robin Curtis was first or second on stage, and did her speech on life and Star Trek. She shared the obligatory horror story about Rick Berman, trivia about the Saavik character, and finished by saying that she’d recently retired from acting and moved to a small town where she’d enjoy her hobbies and take lovers half her age. Well, the small town she’d moved to was only about an hour away from me, and I don’t know if I was half her age at the time, but she was about 42 and I was in the vicinity of 22… so I had one of those moments of panicked inspiration where I saw an opportunity for something marvelous, but it was such a big risk in front of a crowd of about 1500 people. While I was deciding whether or not to risk it, she said she’d take questions from the audience and without even thinking, I raised my hand and stood up. I was the first person to do that, so she pointed to me and said, “You, right there. Hi!” I said, in my projected theater voice: “About those lovers half your age…” there was a chasm of silence in the auditorium, then after about two seconds, the whole place burst out laughing. I think even Peter Mayhew laughed. When she’d caught her breath, she asked my name, we exchanged small-talk, and then she said I was cute and she’d talk to me after the show, to which the crowd “Oooohed.” Then she moved on to other questions, and the other featured actors. I did talk to her after the show for about 10 minutes, but I guess I wasn’t all that impressive up close, because I didn’t manage to get a date with her. I still have her autograph, though. And Peter Mayhew’s — he’s a nice man, just very shy in front of crowds.

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

I’m not really in obstacle course condition right now, so I wouldn’t be very competitive. But if I were to choose a teammate for something like Ninja Warrior, it would be Bruce Lee. He had the perfect body composition and kinesthetic sense for that kind of thing.

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

The upcoming project I’m really excited about is titled “Money Talks,” written by Laurence Shames. Back in 2007, Donald Trump’s people approached Larry’s people about ghostwriting a series of novels under Trump’s name. Larry thought about it, met Trump, talked to people who’d worked for him, and said “No thanks.” But then he got to thinking about what might have come of that scenario, and wrote a fictionalized version of it as a murder mystery novel in which the villain is a Trump-like character named Robert Maxx. It’s sort of like a cross between Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and The Great Gatsby (if you switch Jay Gatsby and Tom Buchanan). Back then it didn’t catch on, but it’s got some new life now that Trump’s in public office, and I’m hoping the audio edition will ride that wave. There are lots of new voices to develop in this project, and I’m really looking forward to starting it.

After that, I’m taking a bit of a break so that I can finish writing at least one of my own books. I have three book projects that have been almost done for several years, and I feel like I need to complete one of them this year.

Places to Stalk Jem Matzan

Website ~ SoundCloud ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Audible ~ GoodReads

Book Blurb for The Hero

The Hero is a work of impressionist adventure fiction set in a desolate, postfeudal civilization. When the charismatic leader of a merchant guard crew is killed in a senseless accident, his designated replacement decides to fulfill a promise to the late captain by quitting the crew and finding his surviving relatives in a remote village. Instead of a quaint valley settlement, the new captain finds a decaying town on the verge of collapse, an old landlord who appears to welcome its decline, and a thriving stronghold of highwaymen fresh from murdering what remained of the merchant guard crew. As the valley’s mysteries unwind and the tension escalates, the captain’s mental condition begins to deteriorate as almost-forgotten memories begin to connect with horrible realities.

Amazon ~ Audible

Book Blurb for Tropical Depression:

When Murray Zemelman, a.k.a. The Bra King, pops another Prozac and heads to the Keys, he has nothing much in mind beyond a quixotic hope of winning back his first wife, Franny, whom he dumped years before. But when he forms an unlikely friendship with Tommy Tarpon, the last remaining member of an obscure Indian tribe, another plan also starts shaping up in his fevered brain. Why not open up Key West’s first casino?

Why not? Well, how about because the Mafia, in league with some of the nastiest politicians you will ever meet, is determined to kill anyone who tries? Somehow, Murray, Tommy, and Franny didn’t think of that until they were in way too deep. Laugh along as they improvise a manic and ever more desperate campaign to keep their casino dreams – and themselves – alive.

Amazon ~ Audible

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Eva Gordon, Author of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Trilogy

Folks, please give a warm welcome to Eva Gordon. She kindly let me heckle her with questions and is also offering up an ebook set of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet trilogy to one lucky winner. Scroll to the end of the post to check out that giveaway!

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

Wow. There are so many. How can you make me choose? I would love to be on any Lord of the Rings movie, perhaps a hobbit. Or a rogue fighter on Star Wars. A zombie on The Walking Dead. However, since I’m a big fan of Outlander that’s the one I would choose. Being in Scotland and wearing period clothes would be a dream come true.

What’s the most interesting gross fact you know?

You do realize you are asking a former anatomy/physiology and biology teacher? So many so little time. I’m a big fan of scatology or the study of feces. I was once part of a mountain lion study and we were able to determine what they fed on and their health based on analyzing their poop.

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

I would make sure I was the alchemist and take along Terry Goodkind (Sword of Truth series) Jacqueline Carey (Kushiel’s Legacy series), Neil Gaiman, and throw in Diana Gabaldon (because she might bring along Jamie Frasier from Outlander). Maybe put them in my fantasy novel, The Stone of the Tenth Realm.

Do you have any phobias?

I don’t have any phobias, however I do suffer from a different neurological condition known as Misophonia. Not a phobia. Triggers such as chewing noises, gum popping, slurping and sniffing for example drive me crazy. I’m not alone; celebrities Kelly Ripa and Kelly Osborne are misophones. Authors Franz Kafka and Anton Chekov also suffered from this condition. Ear plugs help.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

As a kid I was a tomboy who wanted to be an explorer and animal behaviorist like Jane Goodall. Hence, my degrees in Zoology and Biology. Although, I was a bookworm I never thought about writing until later.

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

Survival books and my iPad filled with plenty of science fiction and fantasy novels. Naturally, I would have a solar charger for my device.

Which favorite bookish worlds would you like to visit?

The world of Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Tolkien’s, and shamelessly, my novels. My worlds can be dangerous, but I’m smart and there is always a gorgeous hero will give me a hand. Winks.

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

The Debate of All Time, would you rather live in the Star Trek or Star Wars universe? I think I would have to choose Star Trek where I would be a science officer. Safer. Although, it would be cooler to be a Jedi master in the Star Wars Universe.

About Author Eva Gordon:

Eva at Stone Henge

Eva Gordon writes genre bending paranormal/fantasy/steampunk and historical novels with a strong romantic element. Alpha heroes and brilliant feisty heroines. HEA with a kick. She loves to create stories that combine her passion for mythology, steamy romance, and action/suspense. Her imagination takes her from one universe to the next. Thus far, she has several series up as well as single titles waiting in line for production.

Eva has a BS in Zoology and graduate studies in Biology. When not in her den writing, she can be found teaching animal lore at writing conventions, at work at the raptor rehabilitation center, wolf sanctuaries, or to satisfy her inner Hemingway on some global eco adventure.

Sign-up for Eva’s Newsletter!

Places to Stalk Eva Gordon

website ~ blog ~ Amazon ~ facebook ~ twitter ~ goodreads ~ pinterest

Book Blurb about The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Trilogy: 

The Alpha Wolf’s Pet Collection includes the entire trilogy. Each book is a different stage in the romantic relationship between alpha werewolf, Dominic and Mia, his human lover. Paranormal steamy romance and page turning suspense. Alpha Wolf’s Pet series introduces the universe and some of the characters in the offshoot paranormal romance suspense series: Team Greywolf, Slade, Book 1 and Chernobyl Werewolf, Book 2.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ iBooks ~ kobo ~ Audible

GIVEAWAY!!!

Eva is graciously offering up one ebook set of The Alpha Wolf’s Pet trilogy to one lucky winner [OPEN INTERNATIONALLY]. Do the Rafflecopter thing below or answer these questions in the comments: 1) What geeky argument have you been a part of? 2) Where do you live? Giveaway ends May 4th, 2017, midnight.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Interview: Robert Kingett, Author of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Folks, please welcome journalist and book author Robert W. Kingett to the blog today. He was kind enough to give me a bit of his time for an interview. After listening to his book, Off the Grid, I was very excited to pick his mind on several things.

Off the Grid came out in 2015. What lessons from that month of no internet still linger with you?

The lessons that still linger with me are lessons I’d thought I’d lose, honestly, like, don’t take humans for granted. I see a time when human interaction will become even more haphazard in the future. I see the scope of the net changing even now that I am back online in ways I never considered before. It seems like the internet is turning into a place where people go if they want to feel outraged or to feel validated by someone or something. Self-confidence, in my generation anyway, is fading very fast so a lesson that I hold onto very dearly, in my journalism work and personal life, is value your own thoughts and ideas but don’t seek praise or validation or a pat on the back. Nobody is as important or worthy as you are and your closest, offline, friends. Treasure yourself, and this goes for writers and journalists today too. Just write. Don’t try to please an audience because, chances are, half of the comments section won’t understand you anyway. Report on what you believe is right. Write because you enjoy it, not because you are trying to be the most ethical person on the planet.

Ethics will never be fulfilled fully by one journalist or writer. Why should you try so hard to be everybody else’s version of ethical when they will just call you fake anyway? What’s the point? Stick to your own passion and your own ethics and become who you always wanted to be, not someone everybody wants you to be.

The other lesson that lingers with me is the lesson that keeping up research skills and asking questions is more important than people realize. Now that I am back online, I see so many people willing to believe the first Google result they see. Many don’t look for dissenting opinions or even try to ask questions anymore. This is scary. We are becoming a generation that cares about facts but doesn’t understand the motive behind the facts. We don’t care to know why someone else thinks differently. We’re locking ourselves into a subconscious echo chamber and, that too, scares me. I still talk to people I don’t agree with. I still seek out differing opinions. I always will. I hope others continue to do the same.

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

Without a doubt, it would be the Big Bang Theory. That show is my favorite of all time. I think it’s hilarious and the character development is outstanding, among other aspects of the writing, but I’d totally get into a heated argument with Sheldon about Star Wars because I’m sure I’d know something he doesn’t and it would be great just to have an argument with him. He’s a great actor and character, by the way. He has a lot of depth and development.

You are an advocate for greater media access for the disabled. What has been your greatest struggle in that role?

Honestly, the biggest struggle in that role has been getting people to care, on all fronts. Many in the disability community want others to make things happen for them but when this advocate or that person trying to change things reaches out, very few in our community do anything. They want to reap the rewards of hard advocacy without advocating.

On the non-disabled side, even today, people continue to see us as the lowest form of society so they don’t want to do anything for us. We must constantly prove why we need accessibility changes, even in this current year. I don’t understand why companies and things still, in a lot of cases, refuse disability accommodations in buildings and on the web. Many will fight to the death with excuses of cost and liability and other lame excuses. All of you guys, the ones who don’t have a disability, are temporarily abled. There may come a day where you need accessible housing or to use a website or to find a job with an understanding employer. What then? Will it be too late for you to get what you need? Probably. Just think about that.

If you could pick a fictional character to officiate at your wedding, who would it be?

Without a doubt, it would be Albus Dumbledore. I just think he’s a person everybody should meet, at least once in their lifetime.

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

I’d honestly talk to V. C. Andrews about writing to vanquish her own personal daemons through stories. I am a weird cookie so I read all kinds of books, even some where many would feel very uncomfortable, like reading about sexual endeavors with other family members. The problem is I have a very open mind. I ask questions. I want to know about things that others find really off the wall, so I will read things that others won’t even consider trying. For V. C. Andrews, it’s her incest characters. I don’t care about that at all. In fact, I dove deeper to understand their histories and ways of thinking. It just fascinated me. Even if you don’t agree with something, wisdom can be found anywhere.

I’d ask her things about writing, her thoughts about life in general. People who write very unorthodox things have an insight into the world most will refuse to explore or figure out. I’d want to just ask her questions for a day about anything just to see her point of view on things just because I know there will be some wisdom I can take from her views.

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

I’ve been a journalist for many years and I’d cover political issues. I still do, but something hard, and, yeah, I am going to say it, is listening to a Trump supporter blabbering on about destroying a system they barely grasp to begin with. I’m not a Trump supporter. I won’t pretend to understand people who like his word salads of stupidity. I find it hard to listen to people who want to bring hatred and segregation back into this country.

Writing Off the Grid was a different kind of challenge but it was a much easier challenge. It was a challenge within myself. Could I honestly write about my frustrations and humorous thoughts? Could I look inside of myself to see what I am getting out of this month offline? While challenging, I believe I did well. I’m not saying I did stellar work but I did darn good pondering if I do say so myself.

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 be more inclusive of the disabled?

I see it happening by accident, honestly. I see the publishing industry becoming accessible by accident not by design. With the rise of E-Books and audio books that will only continue to make things better for us. I still also believe podcasts, audio only podcasts, will grow as well.

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

Without a doubt J. K. Rowling because I’d just love her sense of humor to tag along. I’d also take Brandon Sanderson, and, maybe Eoin Colfer because, well, we need a boy genius with us. It would be neat to see how Artemisia Fowl would handle me getting everybody into trouble with my curiosity. I’d take Robert J. Sawyer, even though he isn’t a fantasy author, because he would be just as creatively curious as I am and this could help in puzzles, perhaps.

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

Mine would probably have commas or colons between the words. Weird, strange. Outrageous, needy, lovable, and, crazy.

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

Obviously the most difficult is getting people to notice me without me doing my part to add to the outrage pool, but it gives me a sense of freedom to set my own work hours and schedule. I have the freedom to say no to a person I can’t stand, interviewing me that is, if I wanted to, although, I’d never do that. It’s hard work letting people know about this project I’ve worked hard on it and it’s even more difficult to tell people why they should care, but it’s liberating all the same because I get to meet other authors with great audio books who I’d never meet otherwise. Some of the best books I read have been from authors I never agreed with on anything.

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

The most memorable argument I had with someone was about the horcruxes in the Harry Potter series. A high school buddy of mine agreed with my guesses that Harry was a horcrux. A few other people in the class did not agree with us. The teacher tried to get us to quiet down so she could teach us science but the whole class was fired up. She chucked her whole lesson plan and held a debate class instead. It was a shocker to us to realize that we were right all along!

Are you planning any further experiments? Any future books in the works?

I’d like to start opening doors up for other disabled writers like me. There’s a lot of contests for disabled artists, painters, and the like, but nothing for disabled authors or writers or journalists out there, really. I am working on a few other books, yes, mostly memoirs and politically incorrect humor books, like erotic retellings of classic fairy tales, but I’m trying to do many things, including hosting an essay contest where the blind writers get adaptive technology, or something similar.

I’m also working on ways to give back to organizations I fully support like Planned Parenthood and the like. If someone donates to one of my journalism campaigns or similar, I want to open doors and give back to people. It’s hard but it can be done! With me, it will happen. It may not happen tomorrow or the next day but I will open doors for people, eventually.

As for my next journalism project, I am working on the day in the life of an incest couple. I am gathering interviews, spending time with their family, and the like, so I can create a unique human interest story.
I am also still trying to break into the Modern Love section in the New York Times. That’s my priority right now. I will make it there though! Just watch me.

Places to Stalk Robert W. Kingett

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter

Synopsis of Off the Grid: Living Blind Without the Internet

Journalist Robert Kingett accepts a dare, one that at first seems simple: to adapt to his blindness without the Internet. This account is a cozy diary of battling with an FM radio, hooking up a landline phone, and the journey of adapting to a brand new way of living from someone who has never disconnected from the World Wide Web.

Audible ~ Amazon

Interview: Mitchell Charles, Author of The Kingdom of Oceana

CharlesTheKingdomOfOceanaEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Mitchell Charles. I really enjoyed his book, The Kingdom of Oceana and am very excited to have the opportunity to interview him.

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

Chinatown is probably my favorite movie, and without question my favorite script. I can watch it over and over. The Alchemist is my favorite book, and has a profound effect on me every time I read it. I especially like the audiobook version read by Jeremy Irons – Epic!

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

Michael Crichton, George R. R. Martin, James Clavell, James A Michener

Who are some of your favorite book villains? Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Professor Snape is my favorite villain. You really never know for sure that he’s against Harry until the very end of the series.

You and your publisher have gone to the trouble to build some extensive educational aids and activities that go hand in hand with your book, The Kingdom of Oceana. This isn’t often seen with fantasy novels, even historical fantasy novels. Do you think other publishers and authors will take up this excellent practice? Do you expect even more educational media to be added as your book series progresses?

I was looking for a fun way to engage students into my fantasy world. Hawaii is such a magical place, so it was easy to create the study guides.

To check out these study guides and fun activities, have a look at the Mitchell’s site.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

I’ve always love the ocean and sea creatures. My father taught me to SCUBA dive as a teenager and it’s still my favorite activity. I think I always had a knack for story, but didn’t put in the time and effort to write until The Kingdom of Oceana series.

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

The Alchemist (The Alchemist), Walter White (Breaking Bad), Doctor Stephen Strange (Dr. Strange), Yoda (Star Wars) and Doc Brown (Back to the Future).

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

Hermione Granger – she has a spell for everything!

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

I am currently working on the sequel to The Kingdom of Oceana. The story takes place about 25 years later and follows the next generation of Oceanic heroes, King Ailani’s and Queen Momi’s three teenage children.

Book Blurb for The Kingdom of Oceana

CharlesTheKingdomOfOceanaFive centuries ago, on the island now called Hawaii, there was a kingdom filled with adventure, beauty, and magic.  When 16-year-old Prince Ailani and his brother Nahoa trespass on a forbidden burial ground and uncover an ancient tiki mask, they unleash a thousand-year-old curse that threatens to destroy their tropical paradise.
 
Warring factions spar for control of Oceana, sparking an age-old conflict between rival sorcerers. With the help of ancestral spirit animals, a shape-shifting sidekick, and a beautiful princess, Prince Ailani must fight for his rightful place as the future king of Oceana.
About the Author

MitchellCharlesAuthorMitchell Charles’ love of the ocean and its miraculous creatures began at the age of 12 when his father taught him to SCUBA dive. From his first adventure 50 feet (15 meters) beneath the Caribbean Sea he was hooked.  He has been involved in the Oceanic Society, America’s first non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, established in 1969.

Mitchell’s inspiration for The Kingdom of Oceana was born of exploring the spectacular coastline, lush valleys, and vibrant coral reefs of the Hawaiian Islands. On these excursions, he imagined what Hawaii was like hundreds of years ago. Before Captain Cook arrived from England. Before the golf courses and hotels. Before the ukulele and the Mai Tai became icons of Hawaiian culture. He dreamed of a time when the islands were an undiscovered magical paradise.

These days, Mitchell divides his time between Southern California and Hawaii. He has two teenage children and a dog named Magic.

Mitchell is currently working on the second book in the Kingdom of Oceana series, The Legend of the Nine Sacred Pearls. For more information, visit http://kingdomofoceana.com/

Readers can connect with Mitchell on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

The Best & Worst of 2016

2016 is finally over! It was a tough year for me, even right up to the end where I caught a nasty holiday bug. I did read a lot of great books last year. According to my Goodreads profile, I read 208 books, nearly 100 less than the year before. I blame my new found love of Netflix bingewatching for that. Here are my favorite 11 books of the year, in no particular order (no counting rereads).

Red Rising by Pierce Brown

BrownRedRising

 

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

ClineReadyPlayerOne

Skin Game by Jim Butcher

ButcherSkinGame

Cemetery Lake by Paul Cleave

Tofu will help me hide the bodies.
Tofu will help me hide the bodies.

Anne Manx on Amazonia by Larry Weiner

WeinerAnneManxOnAmazonia

Chapelwood by Cherie Priest

PriestChapelwood

The Green Children by Domino Finn

FinnTheGreenChildren

Dragon Gate by Gary Jonas (Jonathan Shade #3)

JonasDragonGate

Zaria Fierce and the Enchanted Drakeland Sword by Kiera Gillett

GillettZariaFierceAndTheEnchantedDrakelandSword

You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day

Chupa being weird.
Chupa being weird.

Cthulhu Armageddon by C. T. Phipps

PhippsCthulhuArmageddon

I did some rereads this past year – The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher (yep, from the beginning), Terre D’Ange Cycle by Jacqueline Carey (I’ve been reading with a great group of on-line friends and we’re up to Book 7 now), Dune by Frank Herbert (just because it’s awesome), Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delaney (I read this in paperback some years ago but now it’s available as an audiobook and it is incredibly well done).

Here are the top 3 books that didn’t do it for me:

Lover Eternal by J. R. Ward

WardLoverEternal

A Hunger Like No Other by Kresley Cole

ColeAHungerLikeNoOther

Hair Power by Piers Anthony

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I also joined a romance book club. I’ve never really enjoyed romance novels. I don’t mind if a book has romance in it but the main plot has to be something more than finding true love or getting laid for me to really enjoy it. So, I thought perhaps I was wrong in binning romance books all together and pretty much ignoring them. With that in mind, I joined this lovely group of people and gave the romance genre a real shot at winning my heart. We read several paranormal and urban fantasy romances, a few contemporary romances (some with suspense and one with BDSM), and 1 historical fiction romance. In general, I was underwhelmed. Some of the books did exceed my expectations and for romance novels they were good, but none of them made it into my top 50. Let me slightly amend that. I had the opportunity to host twice, which means I picked the book we read. Both times I picked books I had not previously read and one of them was Darkness Haunts by Susan Ilene. There is no romance in this novel. There’s a spattering of flirting, but that is all. While several people enjoyed it (including me), it does not count as a romance novel. Obviously, I’m not a good host for a romance book club but the group was great about it.

Also here are some of my notable firsts for 2016:

My first Stephen King novel – 11-22-63

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My first Star Wars novel – Heir to the Jedi by Kevin Hearne

Guess which side of the Force Chupacabr is on?
Guess which side of the Force Chupacabra is on?

My first Podiobooks audiobook – Marker Stone by Paul J. Joseph

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My first Kurt Vonnegut novel – Cat’s Cradle

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As 2016 ends, I am looking forward to a better year in 2017. I spent all of 2016 sick and most of it on bed rest. It took quite some time and many doctors to get diagnosed. I now know that I have CTEPH and in February I will be in San Diego having PTE surgery to hopefully correct the issue. It’s a major surgery and I could be in the hospital recovering for up to 20 days. So if Dab of Darkness goes dark between Ground Hog’s Day and Valentine’s Day, it’s just me laid up in a hospital recovering. Life should get better after that surgery and I’m just really looking forward to being on the other side of it. 24/7 supplemental oxygen makes life rather boring, as I can now attest to.

Audiobook+ Giveaway & Interview: Terry Maggert, Author of Heartborn

MaggertHeartbornEveryone, please welcome Terry Maggert to the blog today. I really enjoyed his suspenseful YA angel novel, Heartborn. A big thank you to Jess at The Audio Book Worm for setting up this book tour. Swing by the tour page to catch more interview, reviews, giveaways, and guest posts. If your interested in the giveaway (and who wouldn’t be?), scroll to the very bottom to learn how to win an Amazon GC, an audiobook copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert, or a bluetooth speaker. On to the interview!

*Author’s note: these are great questions, and it’s high time someone considered my feelings about draconic issues.

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

Have, and my reasoning is purely selfish: I want to experience the majesty of having a dragon as a friend– think of the things it would lead to. Never search for a parking space. Avoid the DMV forever. No pesky TSA, or the need to check your broadsword before you board a cruise. Those are all things of the past. Additional fun: Think of the speaking engagements. “Terry and Banshee, thank you for being here. Could you tell us a little about your”—

“ROOOOAAAAARRRR.”

“Banshee would like me to tell you to never give up on your dreams. Did someone say there was an open bar?”

I’m don’t see a downside to this. Ever.

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

I could blather on about some obscure French film but that would just be posturing. In film, it has to be Star Wars because I was nine years old and it was the closest thing I’d ever seen to my dreams made real. I was a little boy when the Apollo missions went to the moon; I’d stand in our front yard (I’m from Florida) and watch those enormous rockets blaze upward and it was like I was onboard. If that doesn’t kindle your imagination, nothing will.

For books, it has to be The Dragonriders of Pern by Anne McCaffrey. It is, and will always be my first printed love. I’ve bought, re-bought, and bought them again because I wear them out. Seriously.

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

This is EASY. Magical quests are always filled with things that have tentacles and fangs and whatnot. So, as follows:

Larry Correia (GUNS!).

Jim Butcher (KNIVES!)

Ursula K. LeGuin (Diplomacy/Magic)

And, there’s an up-and-coming British writer named J.K. Rowling who, I’m told, might be able to contribute magic systems and *possibly* finance the whole mission, although we’ll have to see if her books become popular. I’m pulling for her.

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

As a writer and history prof, this question brings me great shame. Among the numerous classics I *should* have read by this stage in my life, I think the most important one is Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. He was an emperor who found time to write. I should find time to read it, in between eating cookies and goofing off. Oh, and I need to re-read Frankenstein because my love for monsters has been like a fire in my imagination.

To sum up: Yes, I feel shame.

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?

This is one of the most hotly contested subjects I’ve ever discussed at author events; it’s much like arguing about the greatest baseball player or singer or whatnot.

*Author’s note: my choices are Ted Williams and Freddy Mercury, respectively.

But, on to the topic at hand:

For sci-fi, I say start deep in the past. Jules Verne and Edgar Rice Burroughs are an absolute must. They led to the explosion of what we call genre fiction, and thus, we have the golden era. I’d say, given twelve books in SFF?

  1. Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jules Verne
  2. John Carter of Mars, Edgar Rice Burroughs (the origin of Star Wars!)
  3. The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. LeGuin
  4. The Passage, Justin Cronin
  5. Startide Rising, David Brin
  6. American Gods, Neil Gaiman
  7. A Spell for Chameleon, Piers Anthony
  8. Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
  9. Outlander, Diana Gabaldon
  10. Sunshine, Robin McKinley
  11. The Lord of the Rings, J. R. R. Tolkein
  12. Dune, Frank Herbert

Of course, we will now let the arguments begin.

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?

This is actually one of my high points. I was signing at LibertyCon this summer, and paired with Todd McCaffrey for an autograph session. Some points to know:

He is the son of my favorite writer, Anne McCaffrey.

He now writes my favorite series.

I’ve carried a copy of Dragonsong with me for more than 35 years.

I brought my tattered old book with me (given to me by my buddy Tim when we were kids), and Todd didn’t just sign it (he’s an incredibly nice guy), but chatted with me about his mom and their books. Aside from my parents, the McCaffrey family is the longest relationship I’ve had in my life. Here is the evidence:

Terry Maggert's favorite book.
Terry Maggert’s favorite book.

Then, for my fanboy moment, he signed MY dragon book, Banshee, which is dedicated as follows: “To Tim, who gave me Anne, who gave me dragons.”

I was, and am, giddy.

Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey
Terry Maggery with Todd McCaffrey

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

Let’s consider this for a moment, based on something I say as a history professor. “The good old days weren’t very good.”

I love things like dentistry, clean water, and air conditioning. With that in mind, if I’m going to visit the past and have a return ticket, I say:

Stonehenge. I MUST know who built it, and why.

Machu Picchu during its peak. Can you imagine a city in the clouds?

Paris in the 1880s— Ain’t no party like a Parisian Belle Epoque Party cuz a Parisian Belle Epoque Party don’t stop. The art. The culture. The intrigue. The wanton alcoholism and nudity. It’s all there.

You have to run an obstacle course. Who do you invite along (living or dead, real or fictional)? Will there be a tasty libation involved?

We will run and drink mead, as the Gods intended. And by we, I mean, “Me, Leif Ericson of the Norsemen, and the Celtic warrior queen Boudicca, because I’m not just going to run that course, I’m going to WRECK it.”

AuthorTerryMaggertAbout Terry Maggert:

Born in 1968, I discovered fishing shortly after walking, a boon, considering I lived in South Florida. After a brief move to Kentucky, my family trekked back to the Sunshine State. I had the good fortune to attend high school in idyllic upstate New York, where I learned about a mythical substance known as “Seasons”. After two or three failed attempts at college, I bought a bar. That was fun because I love beer, but, then, I eventually met someone smarter than me (a common event), and, in this case, she married me and convinced me to go back to school–which I did, with enthusiasm. I earned a Master’s Degree in History and rediscovered my love for writing. My novels explore dark fantasy, immortality, and the nature of love as we know it. I live near Nashville, Tennessee, with the aforementioned wife, son, and herd, and, when I’m not writing, I teach history, grow wildly enthusiastic tomato plants, and restore my 1967 Mustang.

Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~Facebook ~ GoodReads

MaggertHeartbornSynopsis of Heartborn:

Her guardian angel was pushed.

Keiron was never meant to be anything other than a hero. Born high above in a place of war and deception, he is Heartborn, a being of purity and goodness in a place where violence and deceit are just around every corner.

His disappearance will spark a war he cannot see, for Keiron has pierced the light of days to save a girl he has never met, for reasons he cannot understand. Livvy Foster is seventeen, brave, and broken. With half a heart, she bears the scars of a lifetime of pain and little hope of survival.

Until Keiron arrives.

In the middle of a brewing war and Livvy’s failing heart, Keiron will risk everything for Livvy, because a Heartborn’s life can only end in one way: Sacrifice.

Fall with Livvy and Keiron as they seek the truth about her heart, and his power, and what it means to love someone who will give their very life to save you.

Audible        Amazon

JuliaWhelanNarratorAbout the Narrator Julia Whelan:

Julia Whelan has appeared in many films and television series, most notably ABC’s Once And Again. After receiving a degree in English and Creative Writing at Middlebury College and Oxford University, Julia began narrating audiobooks. She’s recorded hundreds of novels across all genres and has received multiple Earphones and Audie Awards. She is repeatedly named one of Audiofile Magazine’s Best Voices and was Audible’s Narrator of the Year.

IMDB ~ Twitter ~ Facebook ~ GoodReads

GIVEWAYS!!!

There are 3 different giveaways for this tour. You can enter any of them or all of them. These giveaways are hosted by The Audiobookworm and the prizes provided by the author. Enjoy!

Giveaway 1: A $10 Amazon Gift Card

Heartborn Audiobook Blog Tour

Giveaway 2: A Digital Audiobook Copy of Halfway Dead by Terry Maggert
Halfway Dead Digital Audiobook

Giveaway 3: Wireless Bluetooth Speaker

Mini Bluetooth Speaker

Ebook Giveaway & Interview: Aidan Edwards, Author of Cages

EdwardsCagesEveryone, please give a warm welcome to author Aidan Edwards. We chat about landscaping, Star Wars, favorite hero duos, and plenty more! Also, don’t miss the GIVEAWAY at the end of this post – International ebook of Cages.

If you could be an extra on a Sci-Fi Thriller movie or TV show, what would it be?

If I could be an extra in a sci-fi movie it would have to be Star Wars. That would be beyond cool! Daniel Craig was actually an extra in the newest one. He had one line. See if you can spot him next time you watch it.

Conventions, book signings, blogging, etc.: what are some of your favorite aspects of self-promotion and what are some of the least favorite parts of self-promotion?

I absolutely love marketing and self-promotion. A lot of authors think it’s beneath them, but for me it’s pure fun. I guess that’s just the entrepreneur in me talking, but, to me, marketing is a lot like a chess game. It’s about anticipating where your potential followers and readers will go next, both in the physical world and online; then using that data to best position yourself and your product to ensure maximum success.

I’d say my favorite part of self-promotion is learning about the different kinds of people that are interested in my work. It’s nice to hear from them and think of them as actual people rather than just numbers on a screen. My least favorite part of marketing is definitely dealing with traditional mainstream media sources. Although they have a lot of outreach, most of them tend to be pretty archaic in the way that they do things and that can be frustrating at times.

Another thing to remember about marketing is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Patience and persistence are key. It’s not uncommon to feel discouraged in the beginning when you’re not getting the results that you want, but keep at it because, with time and effort, it will pay off.

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

First off, I think every job is a great job because everything can be a learning opportunity as long as you have the right mindset. For example, when I worked at a movie theater I learned a lot about customer service. That being said, I’d say my worst job was landscaping for my parents one summer. It involved a lot of heavy lifting. It was a lot of work with pickaxes and shovels and things like that. That’s when I said to myself, “From now on, I need to give everything I do 110%, because I’d rather fail doing what I love than never try and spend my days shoveling dirt and wondering what-if”.

Who are your favorite hero duos from the pages?

Calpurnia and Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird. I know they may not seem like heroes, but to me they fit the definition perfectly. Heroes aren’t people in capes or deities with superpowers, but regular everyday people who do the right thing even when they encounter resistance. Atticus and Calpurnia serve as authoritative figures in Scout’s life and, through tough love and wise words, they teach her what it means to stand up for what you believe in.

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 writing space is a complete mess. I think Albert Einstein said it best, “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, what, then, is an empty desk a sign of?”

I think it’s important to be flexible when writing. If you get too superstitious it could get in the way of the work. I have my places that I prefer but, as long as I have headphones, I can write anywhere.

What were you like as a kid? Did your kid-self see you being a writer?

When I was a kid I wanted to be a mad scientist. I was completely enamored by the unknown. I wanted to learn, I wanted to explore, but mostly I just wanted to mix test tubes and blow stuff up. Then, when I learned how much math was involved, that career prospect quickly faded.

The idea of becoming a writer had never even occurred to me. Sometimes I forget that I’m a “writer” because I don’t feel like one. Then again, I’m not sure how that’s supposed to feel anyway. Hot beverages and pretentious poems? Maybe.

Actually, in a lot of ways I still think I’m a scientist. Every choice I make in life, and in my writing career, is just another experiment. Some experiments fail, and others succeed; but all have their lessons.

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

Well I wouldn’t have dinner with the authors, but I’d love to have dinner with their characters. Here is the guest list: The Mad Hatter (a tea cup filled with red mercury), Jay Gatsby (a fine steak and a glass of champagne), Boo Radley (chicken nuggets), Billy Pilgrim (a plate of sausages), Smeagle (a whole raw fish).

The Desert Island Collection: what books make it into your trunk and why?

Any biographies. People are simply fascinating. Plus, I notice patterns when I read biographies. For instance, if you pay close attention, you will notice that the story of Marconi and the wireless long-range telegraph almost perfectly parallels the story of Steve Jobs and the iPhone.

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?

Fortunately, I haven’t had any awkward fanboy/fangirl moments yet. Some people spend their whole lives trying to garner fame and attention, but I try my best to avoid it. I love my work and that is enough. Also, I enjoy my privacy.

What do you do when you are not writing?

I usually have my fingers in a lot of pies at once. Right now I’m helping my friend with a marketing campaign for his line of stylish waterproof shorts. It’s fun, it’s interesting, it’s just another experiment.

Places to Find Aidan Edwards

Website

Facebook

Goodreads

Amazon

EdwardsCagesBook Blurb for Cages: What would you do if you had a kill chip implanted in your brain and you didn’t know when it was going to go off?

The clock is ticking as Jake searches for the infamous programmer who started it all, the one man who knows how to remove the chip. The question is…how much time is left?

With his love by his side and his self-driving car to guide him, Jake traverses the AI-controlled United States to find a man many believe is dead. Along the way, he encounters mutant animals, knife-wielding jungle men, and the bots, with their flamethrowers and their black-and-white ways.

Then, everything changes when he finds something so special, so shapeless, it can’t possibly fit into the boxes at the prison-zoo— into the cages.

GIVEAWAY!

Aidan is offering up  2 ebook copies of Cages to winners who will share their reviews on social media (#MoreThanMyCages). Giveaway is open internationally! You can enter the Rafflecopter below or you can answer these questions in the comments: 1) What country do you live in? 2) Who are some of your favorite heroes from books? 3) Please leave a way to contact you if you win. Giveaways end September 25, 2016, midnight.

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