Jennifer Brozek | All posts tagged 'Tell me'

Tell Me - Tamera MacNeil

I’ve not yet read anything by Tamera MacNeil, but these Cheater’s Guides sound pretty cool.

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I'm writing a series of guides for SF writers who want to know about something but can't, for whatever reason, go and find out for themselves first-hand. Things like, how does a sword smell, or what does it feel like to spin wool from a drop spindle? It's something I wanted to do for a while, but haven't been able to, and when I had the idea I was a little bit worried that it was yet another great idea that was going to end up on the scrapheap of great-but-un-do-able projects.
   
I get piles of fun, cool ideas, and I'm sure you do too, but in my case they too rarely see the light of day. In this case, the idea came from a panel I always try to attend whenever I get over to VCon, my local convention. It's called Writing About Fighting and always a good time. The audience asks questions and the panel of writers and martial artists answers. Without a doubt the most common questions are about the gritty details - what does a sword smell like? Where do you get blisters when using a quarterstaff? I realized there was a dearth of access to the telling details that make writing believable, and thought, Wouldn't it be great if someone did a writer's reference for stuff like this? And then I thought, Well, why can't I do that?
   
Then I got really excited. Then I got worried, because I've noticed my ideas sometimes follow a pattern that goes about like this:

Great idea > excitement > planning > realize I'm not an expert > give up > idea goes into the scrapheap

This time, though, instead of giving up after I realized there was so much I didn't know, I started looking around for help. Did I know someone who could help me with the Cheater's Guide to Swordplay? Sure I did. In fact, I knew two experts. Did I know someone who could help me on Cheater's Guide to Medieval Homecrafts? Actually, I know a woman who has raised rare-breed sheep just so she can have just the right wool to spin. She also makes her own cheese. So that's a yes.
   
This time, instead of giving up on my project, I started to ask around, and it turns out I know piles of people who do amazing things. More importantly, they were excited about being part of the project.
   
This is what I wanted to say in my Tell Me; I wanted to remind you that even though you personally might not be able to do a whole project on your own, I bet you know someone, or a few someones, who not only could help you, but would love to help you.
   
Those people might be friends, family, the local reference librarian, or an old science teacher. And that means those projects that seem big and frightening, well, they're totally doable.
   
So go on, and get doing them!

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Tamera MacNeil is a Viable Paradise XVI alum who always has a project on the go. Her queer-friendly YA novella, Onsen, was released by JMS books in January 2013, and her most recent work of short fiction can be read for free over at Betwixt Magazine. Expect to see more about Cheaters' Guides popping up @tammacneil on Tumblr in February!

Tell Me - Danielle Ackley-McPhail

Danielle Ackley-McPhail is an author and editor I admire. I’ve shared a TOC with her, edited her, and been edited by her. Almost all of it has been military fiction. It’s always interesting to get an inside perspective on how people get into cultures they’ve not personally experienced.

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As a writer, there is nothing more gratifying than successfully immersing yourself into another psyche so outside of your own. In becoming another person…if only on paper…and having an audience believe in that character. Have them connect and empathize and even cry for that character. It is a humbling experience.

I recently wrote a story called “Brother” for the Defending the Future anthology, Dogs of War. My story is from the perspective of a soldier horribly scarred by war, both physically and emotionally. That soldier has retreated inside of himself and used the extremes of his military psychological training to defend the tattered remains of his spirit.

It probably will not surprise you—particularly if you know me—that I have never been to war. I have never been in the military. My closest connection is being the youngest child of a military man who fought in several wars, and was scarred by all of them. A child who never experienced the military lifestyle. Heck, by the time I was aware of my surroundings I barely experienced my father at all, not until I was much older. Though not consciously, I suppose you could say that my father was a template for my character. Now, looking back, I can see where the more subtle mindset and defenses my father had were amplified in this story. At the time of writing, though, all I had to draw on was the most basic understanding of the military mindset, post traumatic stress disorder, and a bit of research on the internet to flesh things out. And yet the words flowed. The character told his own story and showed me a glimpse of the trauma left by combat.

Apparently I have a very fertile imagination. Or perhaps I truly channeled some unnamed soldier I will never know beyond the words of my story, because I showed it to the soldiers I know. I showed it to medical personnel familiar with my topic. I’ve read it to audiences several times over. And each time I was humbled at the impact of my words.

This may sound like boasting, but please, be assured that is not so. I am in awe at the gift I have been given to touch people with words and as with anything given as a gift, I am not responsible for the outcome. What I have written in “Brother” is a product of inspiration that is beyond my control. It is not something I planned out to write. It was not something I could possibly write from my own experience. I have no doubt that creativity is touched by divine inspiration and I have learned that through my fiction I can be many people, to many people, and none of them have a single thing to do with who I really am. It is an amazing feeling to be given a gift like that, and to be fortunate enough to share it with the world. I certainly count my blessings and look forward to where my muse will lead me next.

Tell Me - Shannon Page (Eel River)

The first time I heard about Eel River, Shannon wrote me a lovely, creepy story for my anthology CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE URBAND KIND called "The Hippie Monster of Eel River." I was intrigued. Now, Shannon talks about using her own life as inspiration for a horror story even though her life wasn't horrific.

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My Life Is Not A Horror Story...So Why Is My Novel?

When I was five, my parents bought seventy-two acres of raw land in the middle of nowhere, intending to establish a self-sufficient, back-to-the-land commune. They sold all our worldly goods and moved us out of the big, corrupt city. We had no electricity or indoor plumbing in our one-room A-frame cabin with a loft. Our land was twenty-five miles from the nearest “big” town; a little crossroads with a store and a gas station was ten miles away. (Though we never shopped there, because they didn’t like hippies.)

It was just us the first year—my parents, me, and my one-year-old brother. He slept in a crib which took up half the army surplus tent we lived in while my dad built the cabin. Mom cooked over a campfire till we moved indoors, whereupon she upgraded to a wood cook stove. Marvelous things came from that stove! I can still remember perfect lemon meringue pies, though of course, mostly we ate more basic Seventies Vegetarian Hippie Fare—lots of tofu, cheese, and broccoli.

I played alone a lot, outside whenever I could, reading when the weather kept me indoors. My favorite thing to do was construct little villages where tiny ceramic animals would drive around in Matchbox cars and visit each other. The world in my head was very social, even as my life was quite isolated and quiet. (It’s no mystery to me at all why I became a writer!) I was a shy, maybe even spooky child, awkward around people, lonely but also content to be solitary.

Yet it was an idyllic time. The land was beautiful, and I had absolute freedom to roam it. We had a gorgeous stretch of beach on the river—the Eel River—and, once I learned how to swim, you could hardly get me out of the water. I loved our goats, and our dogs; I even liked the other people who came to live on the land, even though it never really turned into the functional commune my parents had dreamed about.

So, how did all this turn into the horror novel Eel River?

It’s a funny process, how a story becomes Story. Most writers have had the experience of trying to tell some amazing story about their lives—only to have it not work at all, narratively. All sorts of interesting things happened on the land. But when I tell you about it as it happened, it’s just a series of details, without any coherent meaning.

I knew that I needed a Story to tie together the details of my story. So I thought about what it meant to me, to grow up in such an odd environment. I had to learn a lot of resourcefulness and self-sufficiency early on; I saw adults differently than most of the other kids at school did. I had to learn how to straddle the divergent worlds of elementary school with redneck farmers’ kids and my home with pot-smoking hippies. I was sort of an outsider everywhere, observing the different tribes.

In writing the novel, I wanted a self-sufficient, spooky little girl as the protagonist. Naturally, she needed something huge to challenge her. Something that threatened not only her, but her home and everyone she cared about.

I created a monster.

And once I had those elements, set in a place I was utterly familiar with, the Story just flowed. But not back to where it started...rather, forward to something new. And that ‘something new’ was a horror novel: Eel River.

I hope you enjoy the “trip.”


Tell Me - Janine K. Spendlove

I’m biased about this one. Not only is Janine pretty spiff. Jean Rabe is the editor of this already funded anthology… and a space opera story from me is part of the stretch goals. I love the idea of Athena’s Daughters. I really do. This is what Janine had to say about the Kickstarter and the need for good role models.

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Let me tell you about my newest project that I’m super excited about! It's called Athena's Daughters and it's a science fiction and fantasy anthology completely done by women - all the artists, authors, the editor, everyone involved is a woman, and all the stories all have a female lead.

Science Fiction and Fantasy are wonderful mediums to teach our youth (and our adults), to expand our horizons, and encourage thought and imagination. But I still see a lack of women as leads out there*, and I think it's very important for children (and adults!) to have strong female role models in their lives.

That's what inspired Athena's Daughters.

As for my own story in the anthology, "Millie", it's about a modern day Marine pilot (helicopter pilot based on an old friend of mine from my flight school days) who has a chance encounter with a very familiar time traveling Aviatrix (have you ever wanted to know what really happened at Howland Island?).

Oh, and the introduction to the anthology was written by retired astronaut (and more awesome, SHE'S A PILOT!) Pam Melroy!

So to say I’m just a little bit excited about this anthology would be a massive understatement.

The kickstarter for Athena's Daughters has just launched, and you can get the eBook (and a bunch of extras for free!) for only $5.

Even if you're not interested in the project yourself, but think you might have friends or family who might, I'd really appreciate it if you could make a mention of it on your social media or through your email connections. The link to the Kickstarter (order) page is http://tinyurl.com/athenasD.

So in short, awesome women doing awesome things – check it out!

WATTPAD link for a free preview of my story “Millie”: http://www.wattpad.com/32027002-athena%27s-daughters-millie

*Yes, I know we have The Hunger Games, Divergent, my own War of the Seasons trilogy, along with many more female led stories out there that all totally rock, but it's still a dearth compared to male leads.

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BIO: Janine K. Spendlove is a KC-130 pilot in the United States Marine Corps. In the Science Fiction and Fantasy World she is primarily known for her best-selling trilogy, War of the Seasons. She has several short stories published in various anthologies alongside such authors as Aaron Allston, Jean Rabe, Michael A. Stackpole, Bryan Young, and Timothy Zahn. She is also the co-founder of GeekGirlsRun, a community for geek girls (and guys) who just want to run, share, have fun, and encourage each other. A graduate of Brigham Young University, Janine loves pugs, enjoys knitting, making costumes, playing Beatles tunes on her guitar, and spending time with her family. She resides with her husband and daughter in Washington, DC. She is currently at work on her next novel. Find out more at JanineSpendlove.com.



Tell Me - Lucy A. Snyder

Lucy A. Snyder is an author I admire who writes some of the most captivating stories I’ve ever read. Now, she’s got a single author collection of erotica linked into her Jessie Shimmer novels. She talks about why and how this got started.

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On Writing Erotica

“Does this mean you’re writing your own slash?”

That’s what one of my friends said when I told her of my plan to write some new erotica stories featuring characters from my Jessie Shimmer urban fantasy series and release them in my collection Orchid Carousals.

I thought about it for a moment, and laughed. “Yes, I suppose I am!”

If you’ve read any of the books in my Jessie Shimmer series you know I don’t exactly shy away from portraying sex in my regular fiction. But despite the graphic scenes, books like Shotgun Sorceress or Switchblade Goddess are not erotica.

An erotica story is a narrative that focuses on sex. Sex is crucial to the plot tension. And, yes, erotica stories have real plots. They also have characterization, world-building, and all the other things you come to expect from any other type of fiction. Or, at least the good erotica stories do; take away the plot and the compelling characters and you end up with porn that has a hard time sustaining reader interest over more than a few pages. (This is a lesson that the writers of the webcomic Oglaf know quite well; they have thousands of dedicated readers who probably arrived at their site looking for a bit of diverting cartoon porn but keep coming back week after week to see where the characters’ stories are going.)

So, why erotica?

One of my overall goals as an author is to be able to write well in a wide range of styles and genres. If an editor comes to me and says “I need a 6,000-word Lovecraftian western story written in iambic pentameter that focuses on Nikola Tesla and Sherlock Holmes finding a crashed spaceship outside Tombstone, Arizona in 1890,” ideally my response should be “Sure; when do you need it?”

Being able to write a plot-worthy sex scene is no different than being able to write an exciting fight scene or a heartbreaking death scene; it should be a part of any well-rounded fiction writer’s toolbox.

But more directly, while I was working on the novel trilogy, I found myself with many more story ideas than I had room for in the novel. I wanted to continue the narrative, certainly, but I also found myself with back stories that I wanted to tell. And a number of the ideas that I had seemed to lend themselves well to erotica.

For instance, I wanted to tell the story of how Jessie and Cooper first became a couple; more to the point, I wanted to show readers that because of their age difference, it really wasn’t an easy decision for Cooper. I could have told a story that focused on Jessie’s anguish over her aunt’s death … or I could tell a story that focused on her passion for Cooper and would be a bit more fun for readers. Clearly, I chose the latter.

While I was writing Switchblade Goddess, I realized that I’d given Mother Karen a short shrift in the narrative. She’s a fairly important supporting character, but very little of what I knew about her life had actually gotten into the books. So I used the story “Demonized” as an opportunity to show readers more about her history and her intimate world.

At the end of Spellbent, Jessie leaves poor love-smitten Kai behind. A lot of people told me they particularly liked Kai and wanted to see more of him. So, I collaborated with Kaysee Renee Robichaud to write a noir-flavored erotic story that shows what happens to Kai after Jessie’s out of the picture.

There are more stories floating around in my head that I didn’t have time to write before the collection needed to go to press. Possibly in the future CGP or another publisher might release a volume entirely devoted to the Warlock’s adventures.

In the meantime, I hope readers enjoy Orchid Carousals!

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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, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger.

 

Tell Me - Jaym Gates

Jaym Gates is an author and an editor I’ve had the pleasure to work with. She is driven to succeed and a lot of fun to hang out with. I really like the idea of WAR STORIES. This particular kickstarter has 3 days and less than $1000 to go. I’d love to see it funded.

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I love cheesy action movies. I'm talking Statham and Lundgren. I'll watch damn near anything with those two. My boyfriend and I have agreed to disagree about The Expendables. I don't care how awful and unreal these are. They're intended to be over-the-top.

I also grew up in a family that owns and uses guns, has a strong military background, and generally tends toward the extreme right, politically. I'm a gearhead. Date night last week included my boyfriend pulling out his warchest to demonstrate the problems with rucks, based on a conversation we'd had earlier in the week.

I love cheesy. I love gearhead. But in my fiction, I want real people, real stories, real struggles. There are military SF stories that have made me tear up, and one (Adam Troy Castro's “Her Husband's Hands”) that I had to stop reading within the first couple of sentences. At its best, military science fiction can be some of the most emotional, powerful work in the genre, an examination of the human psyche at its rawest.

But it's a genre with a lot of baggage, too, often still in the Vietnam or World War era, even in the far-future work.

In WAR STORIES, we wanted to look at the future, rather than the past. Technology is evolving rapidly, changing the tools of war, while the culture and realities of it never change much. Drones, cyber-warfare, sophisticated bombs, the set-dressings. The sense of honor, the bonds between combatants, the grief and shock, the physical wear and tear on bodies, those don't change. Those are the things our soldiers and their families are dealing with now, and will be dealing with in the future. Those are the stories we wanted to see on the page.

Combatants, family members, survivors, civilians, rebels, commanders, grunts. My co-editor, Andrew Liptak, and I wanted their stories to be told. The history, the technology, the political and social triggers, all those elements of war are fascinating, and could fill endless books. But what does it look like from the ground? What are the stories from the front lines, the aftermath, the hospital? What does war do to the internal landscape of soldiers and civilians? How do we, as humans, survive, recover, move on, break, adapt to the unique and awful stress of conflict?

Everyone has a story to tell. Here are a few of theirs.

WAR STORIES is currently in the funding process on Kickstarter. If you want to help us bring these great stories to life, hop on over and throw a few dollars our way.

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Jaym Gates is an editor, author, and publicist. More about her business can be found on jaymgates.com, and wacky hijinks can be marveled at on Twitter, as @JaymGates.

Tell Me - Shannon Page

Shannon Page is an author I have worked with off and on for years. She’s a consummate professional and I’m really looking forward to reading this anthology.

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On the Crafting of An Anthology

Witches, Stitches & Bitches—A Three Little Words anthology, from Evil Girlfriend Media.

Three little words...three simple, innocent—well, okay, maybe not so innocent—evocative words.

When Evil Girlfriend Media publisher Katie Cord asked me if I wanted to edit one of her “Three Little Words” anthologies, I jumped at the chance. I love editing, and hadn’t had much chance to do it professionally. Better still, she let me choose which of the three I wanted to take on. Now, nothing against zombies or vampires, but I knew at once that the witch book was the one for me.

I’ve always identified with witches. I was born on Halloween night, so people delighted in telling me I was a little witch before I even knew what that meant. Of course, I went through a period (like so many girls) when I’d have much rather been a fairy princess; but I eventually got over that and embraced my intrinsic witchiness. I’m writing a series of novels starring a young witch in San Francisco (the Nightcraft Quartet, which begins publication next year with The Queen and The Tower). Even my LiveJournal handle has the word “witch” in it.

So that was a natural. But stitches and bitches? Not as much of a connection there. That’s okay, I figured; let’s see what stories come in. I imagined needlepoint and revenge fantasies.

But wow! Authors are creative! (I know: not exactly earth-shattering news.) I got such a flood of marvelous stories filled with so much imagination, I looked forward to my email inbox every day. We had knitting and surgery and zombies stitching on new limbs. Devious and clever women; bitchy witches; female dogs. And we even had needlepoint and revenge fantasies—but nothing like what I’d imagined.

I received nearly three times as many stories as I needed to fill out the collection—not bad for the very first offering of a brand-new publishing company, paying nowhere near professional rates. I read every story that came in, even the ones where I could tell from the start that they weren’t a good fit. I wanted to see where each story ultimately ended up. I wanted to be surprised—and, a few times, I was. To me, a good anthology is like the perfect smorgasbord: a little of everything; something for everyone. That’s why I like more open-ended themes; they give the authors room to explore, to show off that marvelous creativity of theirs.

Then came the painful process: winnowing them down. I had to reject some really good stories, including stories from friends...including stories I’d specifically requested from friends. (Fortunately, my friends being good people, they forgave me.) But I knew I wanted to put together the strongest group of stories possible. I selected for length and tone and style and subject matter. I wanted balance, and variety. As I mention in the book’s introduction:

“The sixteen stories collected here range from light to dark, fun to disturbingly spooky, and everything in between. We have retellings of fairy tales, modern edgy fantasies, stories of delicious revenge. We have romance, and some broken hearts. We even have a few tales by male authors, just to be inclusive.”

And when all was said and done...I think we ended up with an awesome book. I hope my readers agree!

Tell Me—Loren Rhoads

Growing up, my experiences in cemeteries were pretty limited. My mom took me and my brother to make gravestone rubbings only once when we were kids. My family sometimes visited the graves of famous people while on vacation: Kennedy in Arlington, George Washington at Mount Vernon. When I was in high school, I used to take dates to the little country graveyard up the road to park, but the mosquitoes were pretty fierce, so we didn’t get out of the car and explore.

It never really occurred to me that you could visit graveyards just for fun. Then my husband and I got stranded in London during the 1st Gulf War. We were heading to Barcelona to do sound for a Survival Research Laboratories performance, but airline security made us miss a couple of connections and we decided to stay in a country where we spoke the language until everything got sorted. Since this was in the days before cell phones, it wasn’t easy to call country to country back then.

I bought a book of cemetery photos at Victoria Station – because it was full of *beautiful* statuary.  Inspired by that book, which I found by chance, my husband decided he’d rather see Highgate Cemetery than the Tower of London.  We’d never done anything like that:  just go to a graveyard to wander around.

To my immense surprise, I fell in love. Highgate Cemetery was lush and overgrown, even in January. We only saw the more modern side on that visit, but even it held famous names:  Karl Marx, George Elliott, Sir Ralph Richardson. Highgate was home to an army of angels. It had been the set of Taste the Blood of Dracula – and had been overrun with real vampire hunters in the 1970s. Best of all, it was falling to decay in the most romantic way possible.

Highgate led us to visit to Pere Lachaise Cemetery, where Jim Morrison is buried, which led to visiting Marie Laveau’s tomb in New Orleans, which led to looking for Lafcadio Hearn’s grave in Tokyo. It took a decade for me to morph from dropping by cemeteries when we traveled to building vacations around graveyards. Now I think everyone should add a burial ground or two into their vacations.  It’s easy to do.  There is literally a graveyard everywhere you go.

I make my argument for visiting graveyards in Wish You Were Here: Adventures in Cemetery Travel, recently published by Western Legends Press.  It contains 35 travel essays about visiting 50 cemeteries, graveyards, and gravesites from Tokyo to Prague, Boston to Maui, and New Orleans to Yosemite, with stops in Paris, Rome, Michigan, Hollywood, and more.

The book is being given away on Goodreads this month.  You can enter to win your own copy here:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18010009-wish-you-were-here

The giveaway ends on October 31, so hurry – and good luck!

 

Tell Me – Michaelbrent Collings

The Colony Saga
i.e., Let’s Talk Zombies

Okay, short bit about me (so’s y’all know I’ve got street cred, yo): I’m an indie author.  I write spec-fic: sci-fi, fantasy, horror.

Mostly horror.

I’m a produced screenwriter (two horror movies), member of the Horror Writers of America, and have been one of Amazon’s Most Popular Horror Writers for most of the last year.  I’ve written about ghosts, vampires, serial killers, demons, devils.  If it goes bump in the night, I’m interested.  But one thing I’ve never done is a multi-volume work. 

Until now.  And it’s a zombie story.

Usually when I write, I can tell pretty much how long the book’s going to end up being.  But when I started writing The Colony Saga, I discovered to my chagrin that the first two plot points took over two hundred pages to cover.  And that was because I was trying to do something a bit different with my zombies. 

In most zombie stories, the zombies are essentially interchangeable with a force of nature.  They are an earthquake, or a series of twisters, or a tsunami.  They are there to be dealt with as an additional problem in between the “real” story issues: a marriage on the rocks, a group of plucky survivors who have to deal with the power mad/rapey governor/priest/ex-biker/whatever who lives nearby and wants what they have.  The real questions aren’t about the zombies (“Where did they come from?”  “How do we get rid of them?”), they are about the people.  So the zombies become a stumbling block in service of the author.

Concerned Husband: Honey, let’s sit down and talk about our marital problems.
Spunky Wife: You just haven’t understood me since we lost little Timmy.
Concerned Husband: But I’m here now.  Let’s figure it out.
Spunky Wife: Okay, let’s –
Zombie Horde: Rowrrrr!
Concerned Husband: Oops!  Gotta get outta here!
Spunky Wife: I know!  We’ll figure out our marriage after this brief survival episode!
Zombie Horde: ROWRRRR!
(three weeks later)
Spunky Wife: Good thing we found that abandoned military installation and weapons cache!
Concerned Husband: I know!  Should we talk about our marriage now?
Zombie Horde: Rowrrr!
Spunky Wife: Headshots rule!

I wanted to do something different.  I wanted to create a world where zombies are THE ONLY problem.  Where you don’t have time to really get into a bitch-slap fight with your neighbor, because time is all too precious.  If you argue, you die.  That’s it.  But that meant I had to create a whole different kind of zombie.  A kind of zombie immune to typical “zombie killing” methods.  Headshots won’t work.  Setting ‘em on fire isn’t an option.

And the zombies had to have a reason.  Most zombie stories are, again, about a natural event.  Even the viral zombies that are so in vogue now are at heart a natural event, in the sense that nature has fought back against humanity overstepping its bounds.  So the zombies become a sort of modern wrath of God.  A crucible to burn away the impure – morality plays on a massive scale.  But never really explained beyond that.

I wanted zombies with purpose.  I wanted them so scary that there literally appears to be no way to stop them.  I wanted survivors who were at their cores good people, willing to put aside differences in order to try to save not just themselves, but the human race.

And I wanted to do the one thing that no zombie story has ever really done, to fully address the most horrific aspect of zombies. 

As to what that is… well, I gotta keep some secrets in reserve.  But there are things worse than dying.  Worse than not staying dead.

Zombies are a lot of fun to read, and a lot of fun to write.  Whether I’ve accomplished my mission of creating a completely new kind of zombie is something that I can’t answer – I’ll have to leave that to my readers.  But it’s taught me a lot about horror, about the nature of community, and about the things that are truly worth fearing.


The Colony: Genesis (The Colony, Vol. 1):
Kindle
Paperback

The Colony: Renegades (The Colony, Vol. 2)
Kindle
Paperback

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Michaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestselling novelist and screenwriter. His bestsellers include Strangers, Darkbound, Apparition, The Haunted, The Loon, and the YA fantasy series The Billy Saga (beginning with Billy: Messenger of Powers). He hopes someday to develop superpowers, and maybe get a cool robot arm. Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids, all of whom are much better looking than he is (though he admits that's a low bar to set), and much MUCH cooler than he is (also a low bar). Michaelbrent also has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings and can be followed on Twitter through his username @mbcollings. Follow him for awesome news, updates, and advance notice of sales. You will also be kept safe when the Glorious Revolution begins!

Tell Me - Matthew Warner

I've never met Matt but I gotta give it to him... I love this book trailer. It's the kind of book trailer I'd like. Give it a look.-JLB

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The Correct Response is "Whoa"

by Matthew Warner

As in, "Whoa, baby. That looks awesome." As in, "It looks so awesome, I gotta buy that book right the hell now."

That's the reaction I want you to have to my new book trailer about The Seventh Equinox, coming Nov. 6 from Raw Dog Screaming Press. (Hopefully, you'll remain that enthusiastic after you read it.)

Did you know someone owns the term book trailer? Yep. It's a service mark, registration #2868140, duly recorded at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But that doesn't stop hordes of writers from creating videos about their novels and calling them "book trailers," as if they're on par with trailers at the movie theater.

But here's the rub. Most of them suck. I'm sorry, but they do. They're text-heavy, too long, and they look like they were made with PowerPoint in less than 15 minutes. But you get what you pay for, and most writers don't have the dough to hire actors and CG artists. I'm not saying I do, either. Not usually. In fact, I'm certain I blew all my future royalties several times over when I collaborated with Darkstone Entertainment to make the 2.5-minute video linked below. But I'm happy to do it in the interests of recruiting new readers, hopefully ones who will stick with me for life. I have another job to keep me in whiskey, so I don't mind raking all my writing income back into advertising. My publishers don't seem to mind, either.

For this trailer, it helped to have a target audience firmly in mind. The Seventh Equinox is set in the fictitious city of Augusta, Virginia, based on my home of Staunton. I didn't set it in the real Staunton because I wanted some leeway in my descriptions of geography and government, and also to insulate me from potential libel suits. In my book, the sheriff is an alcoholic, bigoted redneck, while the real-life Staunton police chief is anything but.

Anyway, I still want locals to buy my book, because its descriptions otherwise ring with regional flavor. That's why a Staunton landmark, the Clock Tower, appears on the book cover. And that's why, when I wrote the trailer script (which you're welcome to read here), I loaded it with Staunton landmarks, such as Betsy Bell Mountain. During the three-day shoot, I even revised it to include more local landmarks, such as the Gypsy Hill Park band stand and the iconic DeJarnette buildings.

The other thing I did differently with this trailer was to load it with multiple settings and story lines, more like a real movie trailer. My previous three trailers for Blood Born were each confined to one or two locales. That made this one three times as hard to make. Read more about the sausage-making at The Seventh Equinox's production blog.

So, what did I learn from all this? New ways to nervously pull my hair out when production problems sometimes cropped up. I also learned I should keep my mouth shut when an actress is working herself into an emotional state at my request. (Major kudos to actress Elle Clark for crying real tears.)

The jury is still out on my main questions, which are: did it help to target a local audience, and was the more cinematic writing style worth the trouble?

Maybe you can help me figure it out. In the meantime, enjoy (book trailer link)!

 


Matthew Warner's new novel, The Seventh Equinox, comes out from Raw Dog Screaming Press on Nov. 6, 2013. Preorders receive $2 off.