Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Tell me'

Tell Me - Erik Scott de Bie

by Jennifer Brozek 21. April 2014 10:54

When I told Erik Scott de Bie to "Tell Me about Shadow of the Winter King" I meant it in all senses. I didn't know a thing about the book but I did know Erik. He's a great author whom I've published and shared a TOC with. We're even working on an RPG project togther. Now, Erik talks about why persistence is one of the keys to writing.

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SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING, my latest fantasy novel coming out this week, is the culmination of a long quest that started when I first picked up a pen professionally.

In 2003, before I even submitted the novel proposal that would eventually become my first novel GHOSTWALKER, I wrote a novella about a character named “Tear”: a retired assassin on the run from a very bloody past. That particular writing exercise never went anywhere itself, but the character stuck in my mind. I wanted to capture that particular perspective—to provide a character that was both a deadly warrior and a broken man, torn by regret and longing for a life lost to him.

In 2004, writing for the Forgotten Realms setting, I crafted a character called Arya Venkyr: a canny, capable knight who faced impossible odds without flinching. That book was a stand alone, but again, I never forgot the character or her uncompromising sense of duty. Not Arya herself, exactly, but a character like her: passionate, determined, and unwavering. And having just read Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart, I absolutely wanted to instill some of that same erotic power in the character: to up-end expectations of female characters the way Carey does so eloquently in her work.

In 2005, I ran a warmage in a D&D game who broke the mold of what one might expect in a spellcaster: an androgynous waif of a creature who spoke in a rasping tone and wore to hide a body ravaged by destructive magic. I played “Mask” exactly once, but the character persisted as a NPC with (as you might expect) a massive, complex back story. Mask was the most compelling NPC I ran in that game: vicious, sardonic, fatalistic, but with an undercurrent of undeniable destiny. Unforgettable.

These disparate characters had one thing in common: I needed to write more about them.

But where?

I first wrote about the World of Ruin in 2005-2006, about the time GHOSTWALKER came out. I loved writing in the Forgotten Realms, but that wasn’t an end-point. I wanted to tell stories that were entirely my own in a setting entirely of my own creation. This was my first genuine attempt at that, and I got to the point of shopping it around to agents.

Most of them turned it down, and for good reason. The novel I created was flawed—too dark, too squicky, not quite balanced—and will never see the light of day (don’t worry!). A few saw the potential in my style and setting, and I received important words of encouragement, particularly from the late Brian Thomsen of TOR. I had what it took, but this particular book wasn’t quite ready. Not yet.

The novel may have failed, but the setting that came out of it was a dark masterpiece: a fantasy world after environmental collapse, reduced to a new Dark Age after greed and excess destroyed civilization. Where empathy was a rare, almost perverse impulse, and cruelty was the nature of life.

Thus, with these four elements, I crafted the book I’d wanted to write all along: Shadow of the Winter King, the debut of my sweeping World of Ruin series.

And that was the first lesson this book taught me: sometimes the writing process is messy and unexpected, blossoming out of failure and dead ends. You pull inspiration and concepts from things you’ve done, things you’ve dreamed, and sometimes it all fits together into one amazing whole.

The second lesson was perseverance, which is a writer’s first and most essential trait—before talent, connections, or anything else. Whenever you get knocked down, you pick yourself right back up and keep writing.

And the third lesson is something that all artists know well and true: when you believe in something, you make it happen.

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Erik Scott de Bie is the author of numerous speculative fiction novels and multifarious short stories. He dabbles as a game designer, occasional fitness junkie, and swordsman. His latest work, SHADOW OF THE WINTER KING—an epic tale of love and revenge set in the dark full-metal fantasy World of Ruin—will be available soon through Dragonmoon Press. Catch up with him on his website, erikscottdebie.com, or find him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/erik.s.debie


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Tell Me - Steven Savage

by Jennifer Brozek 14. April 2014 07:10

I met Steven Savage at Convolution 2013. He is enthusiastic in his love of fandom and doing what you love as well as integrating technology into life. He's here to help you make your hobby and your passion work for you.

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I just wrote "Fan To Pro", subtitled "Leveling Up Your Career Through Your Hobbies."  What do I want to Tell You?

This book is a rewrite of my very first book.  I want to tell you not why I wrote it so much as I why I rewrote it.

Many years ago a friend and I noted that a lot of geeks, otaku, hobbyists, and so on had so much career potential due to their hobbies but didn't know how to use it.  We kicked around ways to help them, and eventually started doing a blog at www.fantopro.com (now www.musehack.com).  I started speaking at conventions on the subject, doing what I could to help.

Eventually I realized I should write a book (which, ironically, is something discussed much earlier).  Since it was an age of self-publishing, I decided to do it myself, compiled all my advice, and wrote the first "Fan To Pro" book.  It was an interesting write, I learned  a lot, and I got some great reviews - and most importantly people telling me how it actually changed their careers for the better.

I wrote other career books over time, touching on Cosplay, Fanart, resumes, and the job search.  Each time I wrote, I learned more.  Each time I wrote, I did a little more research.  Each time I wrote I saw my own work a bit differently.

In fact, as I blogged I was constantly learning, reviewing, re-thinking, and integrating new information into my whole "Geek Job Guru" routine.  Everything you write changes you, and at times we can forget that.

So I looked back at my old book (and, frankly, the rather weird art deco cover) and said "I really ought to rewrite this."  After all I had a lot more to share, a lot more to tell people, and the world had changed since the first book.  Then again, I had changed as well.

I wasn't the same author that I was those years ago.  So it was time for a rewrite, which took a good 8 months, involved adding a lot more information, expanded it by 100 pages, and involved an entire rearrangement of the contents.  It was, to be brutally honest, not as easy as I'd expected.

After finishing it, I realized just how much I'd changed, discovered, grown, and even forgotten.

So what do I want to Tell You?  That rewrites are worth it, and sometimes they're even inevitable (especially if you do advice books and similar).  We all change, and there are times our books need to change with us.

This isn't true for all books.  Some books are a statement of a time or place, some are meant to be so personal or intimate that we don't alter them.  But this isn't every book.  Sometimes books are dialogue in slow-motion.

I'd also say that rewrites are important as, since we grow as authors, our works can grow with us.  Even works we think are flawed or are ashamed of we can return, revise, reconstruct, and breathe new life into.  Sometimes a work is finished - sometimes it can be re-finished.

Now I can't say I'm going to rewrite everything I've done.  But in the future, I'll be more open to it . . .

 

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Tell Me - Danielle Ackley-McPhail (Dance Like a Monkey)

by Jennifer Brozek 7. April 2014 14:30

I’ve with Danielle off and on over the years. She’s a wonderful writer, an excellent editor, and has a warm heart. She has spearheaded this campaign to help CJ Henderson and is waving the pom-poms for all she’s worth. This is why she’s spearheading the campaign. I, being a stretch goal author, am not unbiased. This Indiegogo campaign has funded but every little bit helps.

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I have a secret for you. I…am the Queen of the Outcasts.

No…really. With a few, rare exceptions I fit nowhere in society. Not at work, not at church, not among my family. Always I have been that awkward figure on the fringes wanting to be embraced and brought in to the crowd. Always. This doesn’t mean I wasn’t welcome or loved, just that in general the world—yes, even my family—doesn’t get me and can’t relate.

Halfway through my life I found my exception to this rule.

Fandom. From the moment I entered my first convention I was greeted with open arms, with smiles, with understanding. A heady experience, I can tell you! I think this, more than anything else, keeps me doing what I do, no matter that it often feels more work than reward. When I walk among the community I am at peace and I am comfortable. When things go wrong, I find support without even asking.

What does this have to do with Tell Me? Well…let me tell you…

Things have gone wrong. Very wrong. Not for me, but for an icon of the community, CJ Henderson. He has cancer. Again. Twice in less than six months’ time he is fighting for his life and losing his livelihood. With the first course of treatments unsuccessful CJ is now subjected to 96 hours of continues chemotherapy every two weeks. He can’t write. He can’t go to conventions. In short, he can’t make the money vital to his family’s continued well-being.

Here is where the community comes in. Within two days of learning of the reoccurrence of CJ’s lymphoma plans were already in place for a charity anthology, Dance Like a Monkey. From stories to artwork, to publisher and administrative and marketing staff not only was everyone on board, but everything was in place and ready to go. Jean Rabe got on board as editor. Gail Z. Martin stepped in as Promoter. Silence in the Library Press agreed to not only fund this anthology, but also run the crowdfunding campaign that would make it possible. Authors Timothy Zahn, Joe Haldeman, Gene Wolfe, Kevin J. Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Jack Dann, Jonathan Maberry…I could keep going, but soon I’ll be running out of words. But in short, over sixty authors have pledged short stories, artwork, and music with absolutely no compensation to them. Before word even got out, fandom was lifting CJ up and helping to bear his burden.

Since then we have gone live with our campaign, Monkeying Around for a Good Cause. Unfortunately, due to Kickstarter’s policy against charity projects we have had to take this to another platform, Indiegogo, which is equally as able, but not nearly as frequented. Support has been heartening with over 220 donors getting behind the project, and whole legions of people helping us to spread the word via social media and news websites, professional organizations and fan bases. The love being shown to CJ heartens me every day. But sadly, it still is not enough. You would think something as inconsequential as a platform would not make a difference to such a worthy cause. Nearly ten days in and we still have not funded, let alone started to work our way through the many fabulous stretch goals that have been donated. But we have time and we have the support, so now it is up to us to spread the word. And that word is…

Help!

We aren’t asking for a handout. Really. Despite our purpose we are not asking you to GIVE us anything. No. We are offering you an amazing collection of fiction in either DRM-Free ebook or in print (depending on your donation choice), plus plenty of awesome pledge rewards and potential stretch goals—ALL donated—we offer you value that well exceeds any contribution we are requesting, and all the money save the platform fees, print costs, and shipping, go directly to CJ Henderson so he can stop worrying about bills and focus on kicking cancer’s ass.

Between his years of fiction writing, mentorship, advice, and general jocularity, CJ has given so much to fandom. Let’s give him something back. And not just something, but the very best we can manage. I have seen what that looks like and we aren’t even close yet. If you can’t participate in the crowdfunding please help us spread the word to those who might be in a better position to.

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Tell Me - K.W. Taylor

by Jennifer Brozek 1. April 2014 09:28

I’m honored to have my novelette The House on Concordia Drive offered as an all-backers reward for Lucy A. Snyder’s Kickstarter! Lucy is in collaboration with Alliteration Ink to release Devil’s Field, a new novel in her Jessie Shimmer series. The Kickstarter runs through April 13th, and Lucy’s book is due out in late 2014. All backers receive several great rewards, one of which is an ebook copy of Concordia Drive. This novelette is a prequel to my forthcoming urban fantasy début novel, The Red Eye, which is also being released by Alliteration Ink this spring.
 
The House on Concordia Drive is part mystery, part horror, and part character study. I wrote it on a lark, challenged by a fellow writer to write something new for a literary critique event we were both attending. Since The Red Eye was forthcoming, I decided to rewind the main character’s story a little bit and explore what leads up to that adventure. Sam Brody is the host of a late night radio show that debunks supernatural events. He’s a caustic cynic with personal problems, and underneath his rough exterior he wishes he could be a believer. In Concordia, Sam goes on assignment to a famous haunted house featured in a 1970s documentary. His search for the truth—Was it real or a hoax?—leads him to face some deep truths about himself. In The Red Eye, we see Sam about a year later, still hosting his show, but now supernatural forces reach out to him even more, leading to epic battles against evil. Ghosts and magic, sirens and prophecies, knights and dragons…Sam lives through a lot in these pieces. Fans of Joss Whedon, Jim Butcher, and Kevin Hearne will enjoy this relatable, world-weary new hero.
 
I conceived of The Red Eye and its protagonist as a response to monomyth/hero’s journey stories where a “chosen one” is called early in his or her life. The question I really wanted to answer was what would it be like if someone were called to heroic duty later in life? What did urban fantasy for and about adults in their thirties and forties look like? Even though Sam is not exactly the most mature of adults, his concerns and experiences are very different from those of a teenager. This is a guy who’s lived through college, divorce, and job issues. He’s flawed—and deeply so—and his heroic calling takes a lot more convincing because of his natural cynicism. My other purpose in writing about a character like Sam was to see if I could infuse a protagonist with the same sort of comic relief personality traits we normally see in supporting characters. In genre fiction, the protagonist can often be a bit dull, stiff, and humorless, while the things audiences tend to find interesting about secondary characters or even villains—sense of humor, whimsy, “bad attitudes,” unconventional behavior—are largely absent from the protagonist. My feeling was that a protagonist doesn’t need to be dull, nor does he or she need to be perfect and upstanding. You can still be a good guy in your fight against the forces of evil, even if you’re not the sort of everyday good guy who pays his bills on time or would make a good boyfriend.
 
The House on Concordia Drive is a great entry into my work for new readers, and it pairs nicely with Lucy A. Snyder’s brand of horror/urban fantasy. Jessie Shimmer is exactly the sort of heroine I love to read about, and I’m excited for the revival of her series.

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Tell Me - Lucy A. Snyder (Jessie Shimmer)

by Jennifer Brozek 31. March 2014 08:43

Lucy is a friend of mine and I enjoy her short fiction, reading and publishing it whenever I can. I’ve also been published by Alliteration Ink with good results. So, this particular kickstarter has my double support. It’s a perfect way to get all of the Jessie Shimmer novels at once.
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First off, I’d like to offer my thanks to Jennifer Brozek for giving me the chance to write about my current crowdfunding project. Courtesy of my new publisher, Alliteration Ink, the Kickstarter for my urban fantasy novel Devils’ Field is going on now and will end at 9pm EST on April 13th.

This is the sixth crowdfunding project that I’ve participated in, but it’s the first time that my work has been front and center. The other projects were four anthologies and one game, and I was just one of several contributors each time. The Devils’ Field Kickstarter has gone well so far, but I must admit that it’s been far more nerve-wracking than the others I’ve been involved with. Most of the others handily made their funding goals, but a couple didn’t. For those crowdfunding failures, it was easy to not take it personally. After all, I was just one creator among many; it didn’t mean the projects foundered because people were indifferent to my fiction, specifically. But now my novel is the main course, and of course I want people to be receptive to it.

So, it’s simultaneously exciting and queasy-making to see my work up on the public block like this. One might fairly wonder why I went this route. Why didn’t I seek out a more traditional publishing situation?

Well. Let’s flash back a couple of years: I was working on my Jessie Shimmer trilogy for Del Rey. I’d sold the trilogy on the strength of a finished first novel (Spellbent) and synopses for the next two books. I was working on the second book, which would be released as Shotgun Sorceress. It was already 65,000 words long and was due in two months … and I hadn’t gotten through half the narrative I’d described in the book’s synopsis. Whoops!

So, I had two choices: turn in a book that was wildly late and twice as long as my editor had expected, or figure out a way of gracefully wrapping up the primary plot threads, get my book turned in on time like a pro, and write the rest of the second volume narrative in Switchblade Goddess. I hoped that Del Rey would want more books past the original trilogy so that I could finish up the narrative arc I’d planned for the series.

Alas, Del Rey declined more books. My series did well – the three books earned out their advance, which 70% of standalone novels don’t manage to do – but none of the books were bestsellers. It was frustrating, but I was glad to have my work published by a very big house that was able to get lots of copies of my novels into readers’ hands. And I took some comfort knowing that writers such as Tim Pratt, Harry Connolly, and Carolyn Crane were also cut loose.

But I still had an unfinished series, and plenty of ideas for more books. At the very least, I wanted to write the novels containing the storyline I’d planned for the third volume in the trilogy.

Readers would approach me at conventions and ask me when the next Jessie Shimmer book would be coming out, and I didn’t know what to tell them. I knew I would write the books, but who would publish them? Most big houses are pretty reluctant to pick up a series that a different publisher started. I knew I could self-publish, but successful self-publishing involves a tremendous amount of non-writing work. I’d mostly rather be a writer.

I weighed my options while I worked on other writing projects, and I kept an eye on what my fellow writers with newly liberated series were doing. Harry Connolly and Tim Pratt both turned to crowdfunding, and Pratt’s Marla Mason series was resurrected as strong as ever thanks to highly successful Kickstarter campaigns.

When I got involved with Alliteration Ink as an anthology contributor, I was really impressed by what publisher Steven Saus did behind the scenes to coordinate the Kickstarter campaigns for What Fates Impose and Steampunk World. It seemed to me that he had exactly the skill set I was looking for in a crowdfunding partner. So, I talked to him at the Context convention, and we made a plan of action.

That plan is bearing fruit, and once the campaign reaches its funding, I’m going to get to work on that fourth Jessie Shimmer novel I’ve been promising myself and everyone else ever since Switchblade Goddess came out. If all goes well, the book should be out in late 2014 or early 2015, and I hope readers enjoy it.
 
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Lucy A. Snyder is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of the novels Spellbent, Shotgun Sorceress, Switchblade Goddess, and the collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, Orchid Carousals, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger.


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Tell Me - M Todd Gallowglas

by Jennifer Brozek 24. February 2014 11:48

I read Todd’s first Dead Weight novella and found it really interesting. I even blurbed it. I think you’ll like it, too.

"DEAD WEIGHT: The Tombs by M. Todd Gallowglas is a fast-paced, non-linear novella that keeps the pages turning. Gallowglas effortlessly intermixes apocalyptic urban fantasy with noir elements and surprisingly believable characters. Can't wait to see what comes next." - Jennifer Brozek, The Nellus Academy Incident

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First, thanks for Jennifer for letting me post. The whole DEAD WEIGHT blog tour came from her asking me to post a “Tell Me” about the project. To see my other stops along the way, head over to http://www.mtoddgallowglas.com/2014/02/10/dead-weight-blog-tour/. I’ve had some pretty interesting things to say about DEAD WEIGHT already.

DEAD WEIGHT is my serialized, near-future, urban-fantasy, noirish, war-thriller with a dash of post-apocalyptic. I’ve talked about the inspiration coming from Tim O’Brien’s short story, “The Things they Carried.” Here are two quotes that helped shape the story from its first draft to what it is today:

“The thing about a story is that you dream it as you tell it, hoping that others might then dream along with you, and in this way memory and imagination and language combine to make spirits in the head. There is the illusion of aliveness.”

“Stories are for joining the past to the future. Stories are for those late hours in the night when you can't remember how you got from where you were to where you are. Stories are for eternity, when memory is erased, when there is nothing to remember except the story.”


I’d originally intended the central plot to focus on a squad of Marines during the Faerie War. When started the first draft, I slammed into the first person point of view of a writer assigned to those Marines. His job was to chronicle the Marines’ story while they were in Faerie, and to carry back the memory of those who died, lest they be forgotten in our world forever. The story chose this character right from the second or third sentence from the first draft.

As the story grew, I later realized that, while the story was still about the war between the US and the Unseelie Court of Faerie, the true soldiers weren’t from the armed forces. This wasn’t that kind of war. The true soldiers were the artists who pass down our heritage, not only from our cultural backgrounds but also the culture we form with our family and friends.

The original draft of DEAD WEIGHT started from the question, “What would a group of Marines carry with them on a mission to Faerie?” Now the questions are: “What role would storytellers play in a war against a people who need stories for their existence?” “Would we be able to re-think the way we waged war fast enough to make a difference?” and “Why do we pass some stories on and keep others secret?” Stories carry weight, and the stories we don’t tell weigh on us even more than the stories we do tell, and the stories that people share with us share, and expect us not to share with others, tend to weigh heaviest of all.

We communicate mostly through stories. When we tell our spouse about our day, we tell a story. When we talk about that awesome thing we did playing our favorite sport last weekend, we tell a story. When we sit around a table share memories of our friends and family who have passed on, we tell stories. Everything we know, we know because we share it stories. Now, not ever story is spoken. We can tell stories in paint, in crayon, in dance, in photography, in film, in music (Peter and the Wolf anyone?) DEAD WEIGHT is about stories in a war where stories are the greatest weapons. Which stories do share, when do we share them, and which are so terrible we should keep them secret.

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Find out more about M Todd Gallowglas, his books, and to read some of his rants, head over to his official website: www.mtoddgallowglas.com

 

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Tell Me - John Passarella

by Jennifer Brozek 17. February 2014 09:54

As a media tie-in author, I’m always interested in what other tie-in authors go through. When I heard that John had a new GRIMM novel out, I just had to know more. GRIMM is a favorite show of mine. John and I talked and this is what he had to tell me about his experience writing tie-in novels.

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WRITING LIFE IN THE FAST LANE: MEDIA TIE-IN NOVELS


GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK is my sixth original media tie-in novel, and eleventh novel overall. I was offered the opportunity to write a Grimm tie-in by one of my several editors at Titan Books. I’ve worked with Titan before, on two Supernatural tie-in novels, Night Terror and Rite of Passage, so the folks there are familiar with my work. With regard to tie-in novels, I’ve been fortunate in a couple ways. Five of the six tie-in novels I’ve written have been the result of editor requests. Only my first tie-in, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble was the result of my pursuing the work. I was a big fan of the show, and one of the reviews of my first (co-authored) novel, Wither, compared the book favorably to the TV show: “hits the groove that makes Buffy the Vampire Slayer such a kick.” Armed with that quote and my love of the Buffy show, I contacted the editor at Simon & Schuster and eventually landed that gig.

Later, my Buffy editor suggested I submit a proposal for an Angel novel. Then, the next Angel tie-in editor sought me out for an open spot, leaving a message on my home phone. And my first Supernatural novel resulted from the editor at Titan finding my website and noting my experience with supernatural thrillers and previous tie-ins.

The other way in which I’ve been fortunate is that I’ve been a big fan of the shows for which editors have offered me tie-in work. Why is that important? Simply because it allows me to proceed with the dedication of a professional writer and the enthusiasm of a fan. So, I’m working—but also having fun playing in these various universes.

These types of writing jobs are fast-paced from start to finish, so it’s definitely a springboard if you already know the show, its setting, history, tone and characters. The alternative is to go in blind, maybe binge-watch and hope you catch on to how the show works and, more importantly, enjoy what you are watching. Because of the hectic proposal and writing schedule, I find it helps me through the process to ride my affection for the show all the way to becoming a participant in the show’s universe and its collection of stories.

To give you an idea of the pace of this kind of writing assignment—and in all six of my personal tie-in experiences, the pace has been surprising similar—I’ll walk you through my Titan Books proposal timelines. I have about a week to come up with four or five three-line pitches. Mentally, I have to adjust from being a show viewer, to someone who needs to think of ideas for stories in the show’s universe. Usually under some constraints: set in a specific place in the show’s continuity, with some characters or situations off-limits. Once I submit my pitches, I wait and hope at least one will get approved by the licensor. (Fortunately, I’ve always had at least one approved.)

Next is the complete outline, start to finish, of a specified number of pages. I will often write a longer outline for my own writing benefit, then trim for submission. Witten in about a week, then I wait and see if I need to revise. Once the outline is approved, I usually have about 60 days to write an 80,000 word novel. I say 60 days, but actually it’s less. I need a week to ten days to both set aside the draft manuscript to gain fresh perspective, then come back to it, to clean up typos, tighten the prose, etc. I break he word count required down to a daily word quota, then try to write over that, every single day, without taking a single day off, because if I skip a day, the next day’s quota is now doubled. Two days off? The next day’s word quota is tripled! Otherwise I’d fall too far behind and possibly miss my deadline. And that would be unprofessional. For GRIMM: THE CHOPPING BLOCK, I wrote every day while away on my only week of vacation for the year. Having that complete, detailed outline in hand is how I get through the fevered pace of writing. On a 60-day schedule, there’s no time for writer’s block!

After I submit my “first” draft, I wait for revision notes. Usually I have a couple weeks for the revision. The most relaxing period is between revision acceptance and publication day. Long, peaceful months—until the next tie-in opportunity presents itself!

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John Passarella (www.passarella.com) won the Horror Writers Association’s prestigious Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel for the coauthored Wither. Columbia Pictures purchased the feature film rights to Wither in a prepublication, preemptive bid. John’s other novels include Wither’s Rain, Wither’s Legacy, Kindred Spirit, Shimmer and the original media tie-in novels Supernatural: Night Terror, Supernatural: Rite of Passage, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ghoul Trouble, Angel: Avatar, and Angel: Monolith. In January 2012, he released his first fiction collection, Exit Strategy & Others. Grimm: The Chopping Block is his eleventh novel.

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Tell Me - Peter Clines

by Jennifer Brozek 10. February 2014 10:05

I haven’t met Peter yet, but I have read his work. It’s good stuff. Also, contrary to popular belief, I don’t hate him. :)

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I almost didn’t write Ex-Purgatory.

Well, that’s a little bit of a lie.  I was going to write a fourth book in the Ex-Heroes series one way or another.  Contractual obligations and all that, plus I just wanted to do more with the characters.  But it almost wasn’t the story that just got released.

Y’see, I’d had this idea bouncing in my head for a while.  One of those ideas that feels like a great springboard.  What if someone told you that you were supposed to be a superhero?  That you were super-strong and bulletproof and could fly?  How would you react?  How would they react to your reaction?

But here’s the catch, and it’s what had me going back and forth on Ex-Purgatory.  This premise becomes two very different stories depending on if we know the characters or not.  Consider this...

If someone walks up to everyman Bob Jones and says “you’re a superhero,” it could mean anything.  We have no idea who Bob is, so maybe he is a hero.  Maybe he isn’t.  Maybe the speaker is kind of delusional, or they could be the only sane person in the story.  And this was really the story I’d been musing on.

But if I walk up to Clark Kent and tell him he’s supposed to be a superhero... well, this puts things in a different light.  We all know who Clark is when he’s not working at the Daily Planet, and that makes this a very different story.  Does he have amnesia?  Is he in hiding?  Is this some alternate world where he never came up with his “Superman” identity?  What’s going on here?  Because, y’know... it’s Clark Kent.  He is a superhero, and we all know it.

In one case, this is a “what if” story.  In the other, it’s a “why” or maybe “how” story.  It’s the kind of subtle shift that could be a real stumbling block if the writer doesn’t identify it.  And I realized if I used this idea with the Ex-Heroes characters, it was going to be the latter version of the story and would have to be handled accordingly.

So, did I want to burn my premise on a different kind of story than the one I’d been thinking of for the past year or so?  It’s not like I’d be able to write another possible-superheroes-who-don’t-remember story.  Well, not without really confirming what a hack I was...

In the end, I decided to go for it.  While part of my brain was debating, another part realized I could weave in another thread I’d left dangling, plus I thought of one or two funny bits I really wanted to write.  And I was on a deadline for that contract.  And the story shaped up to be something I thought was pretty fun.  And it looks like a lot of other people have thought it was fun, too.

Still, though...  

I wonder what that other story would’ve been like.

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Peter Clines is the author of the genre-blending -14- and the Ex-Heroes series.  He grew up in the Stephen King fallout zone of Maine, made his first writing sale at age seventeen to a local newspaper, and at the age of nineteen he completed his quadruple-PhD studies in English literature, archaeology, quantum physics, and interpretive dance.  He was the inspiration for both the epic poem Beowulf and the motion picture Raiders of the Lost Ark, and is single-handedly responsible for repelling the Martian Invasion of 1938 that occurred in Grovers Mills, New Jersey. He is the writer of countless film articles, The Junkie Quatrain, the rarely-read The Eerie Adventures of the Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe, the poorly-named website Writer on Writing, and an as-yet-undiscovered Dead Sea Scroll.  He currently lives and writes somewhere in southern California. There is compelling evidence that he is, in fact, the Lindbergh baby.


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Tell Me - J.M. McDermott

by Jennifer Brozek 3. February 2014 11:18

A cliché as old as genre: sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. In the texts, this power of tech is often stranded in terms of semi-intelligible ways humans control their environment. But, were it truly embraced as a concept, the technology stories would feel like fantasy novels. Magic is a technology of human control that is sufficiently removed from our anthropology and culture such that we do not even see what magic used to be when we slept upon the naked skin of the earth. Science is a young invention.

To the text in question, my new novel, MAZE, it means that it feels like a fantasy with a landscape so alien as to become magic. The survivors of the maze stumble loosely through the terms and concepts of their own cultural history, but the stone cows are not cows and the djinni are creatures of meat and light, not fire, and the trails are called trails, though what they are is unknowable.

Separated from her tools and equipment, the scientist from the far future does not conduct experiments worthy of the name. Instead the vast unknown swallows her. The biology is magic. The geology is magic.

Sufficiently removed from our own networks and technologies, most of us would die very quickly, and the ones that do not die will have lives that return to the origins of myth in the flickering campfires at the dawn of our consciousness.

There's a linear park here in town where anybody could get lost. Staring out into the unreadable wild, the deer stare back. If I did not have the tools or training of the ones who have survived on the soil, I would die, or else I would find survivors, form tribes, work together, and live a while in the brush where living is so hard.

I watched Jim Henson's Labyrinth more times than I can count. One time, I realized that if it were me instead of Sarah, I would never reach the center to solve the maze. I would find a patch of ground to work, a place where I could hunt and cast nets, and if it was me alone, I would not live for long. Read MAZE and imagine yourself there, and what you would do if it was you, and see the unfamiliar biologies and geologies as a kind of magical real.

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Bio: J.M. McDermott is the author of Last Dragon, Disintegration Visions, The Dogsland Trilogy, and Women and Monsters. He holds an MFA from the Stonecoast Program from the University of Southern Maine. He lives in San Antonio, Texas.

 

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Tell Me - Loren Spendlove

by Jennifer Brozek 27. January 2014 11:39

I so backed Zuva. Apocalypse Girl approves!

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Jenn was kind enough to invite us onto her blog to tell you about a solar-powered flashlight/phone charger we designed called Zuva. She absolutely swears it has nothing to do with the impending zombie apocalypse / alien takeover / world ending storm.
 
Zuva means "Sun" in the Shona language, one of the many dialects spoken in southeastern Africa. After living in Mozambique and Angola for nearly 5 years, we discovered that two of the greatest needs of the people are a dependable light source and a way to charge cell phones without access to the power grid. Even the poorest of people in Africa have cell phones. Used phones are cheap, and in most places, only the person originating the phone call pays for the call. But, the question is how to charge your cell phone when you have no access to electrical power?
 
One of the communities that we visited several times in Mozambique is called Luaha. It is located 40 kilometers from the closest power grid. The leader of the village, Lucas Bento, has a cell phone, along with several other villagers. But, because they can only charge their phones when someone goes to the larger village which has power, they keep their phones turned off unless they need to make a call or send a text. We were able to send text messages to Lucas, but he only received them when he turned on his phone, and that could take several days.
 
Another issue that the villagers face is lighting. Unless there is a full moon, there is absolutely no light at night. We have rarely experienced anything so dark. So, a combination solar flashlight and cell phone charger is exactly what they need since what they do have in abundance is sunlight during the day.
 
While we were designing Zuva we realized that many of us in the US also face the same issues. What happens when our power goes out due to an ice storm, hurricane, or any number of natural disasters, where not only could we use a flashlight, but a charged cell phone - especially in this day and age where we are encouraged to text, not call, during large scale emergency situations to free up the phone lines for emergency responders.
 
The problem with most flashlights is that when you reach for them the batteries are often dead or weak. We designed our flashlight to be zero maintenance – you never have to replace anything. The best place to store the Zuva is in a sunny windowsill or on the dashboard of your car. That way it is always charged and ready to supply hours of bright light, or charge your cell phone when you realize that your battery is nearly dead.
 
Lastly, and most importantly, given that we were originally inspired to create while living in Mozambique and saw everyone there struggling with an inconsistent power grid, lacking light, or a means to power their phones (a lifeline in many cases), we’re donating 1 flashlight to "Care For Life" (a humanitarian organization that works in Mozambique helping the people there by teaching them self reliance) for every 4 flashlights that are funded through my indiegogo campaign. So not only will you be able to have light and power during your own emergencies, but you'll also be helping people in a developing country maintain light and power as well.
 
If you'd be interested in supporting Zuva, you can do so here: http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/zuva-lighting-a-sustainable-world

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We're Loren and Tina Spendlove. We lived and worked in Mozambique and Angola for nearly 5 years and gained a great love and appreciation for Africa and its wonderful people. We have a great deal of experience bringing products to market in the United States through traditional means. This is our first crowd-funding project, and we're launching it because we don't just want to bring another product to market. We want Zuva to make a difference in the lives of people like those we met in Mozambique, and feel that it has the potential to do so. We have 5 adult children, 6 grandchildren, and 2 more on the way!

Loren: PhD, Education – University of Wyoming.  MBA – California State University, Fullerton. BS, Finance – Brigham Young University.  Certified Financial Manager (CFM).  Certified Management Accountant (CMA).

Tina: MA, Health Psychology – Northcentral University.  BA, Psychology – Southern Utah University.



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Jennifer Brozek: Writerholic

Jennifer Brozek is an award winning editor, game designer, and author.

 Winner of the Australian Shadows Award for best edited publication, Jennifer has edited ten anthologies with more on the way. Author of In a Gilded Light, The Lady of Seeking in the City of Waiting, Industry Talk, and the Karen Wilson Chronicles, she has more than fifty published short stories, and is the Creative Director of Apocalypse Ink Productions.

 Jennifer also is a freelance author for numerous RPG companies. Winner of both the Origins and the ENnie award, her contributions to RPG sourcebooks include Dragonlance, Colonial Gothic, Shadowrun, Serenity, Savage Worlds, and White Wolf SAS. Jennifer is also the author of the YA Battletech novel, The Nellus Academy Incident.

  When she is not writing her heart out, she is gallivanting around the Pacific Northwest in its wonderfully mercurial weather. Jennifer is an active member of SFWA, HWA, and IAMTW.

 

Latest Releases


Keystones

Book Three of the Karen Wilson Chronicles,
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The Nellus Academy Incident
YA Battletech
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Children of Anu

Book Two of the Karen Wilson Chronicles,
More InformationBuy Now.