I Suck at NaNoWriMo and Here’s Why I Think that’s OK

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http://nanowrimo.org/

So, I totally suck at NaNo…I mean, who really has time to write 50K words around Thanksgiving?! Oh, you do? Um, that’s great, but I’m not a superhero!

Have I written this month? Yes! Was it a lot? No! And, you know what? I’m OK with that. I think I’d rather write when I feel inspired than write when I feel like I’m being forced. Sure, I’d love to be one of those people that can post, “2K words today! #amwriting” But, what were those 2K words? In order to meet my word count does that mean I just word vomited all over my screen?  What good does that do me? What good does it do my WIP? NOTHING!

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that NaNo is a thing. I mean, if you need motivation like that to write, then do it. For me, however, it feels like I’m back at school and my teacher is telling me have an assignment due. I hate writing when someone tells me to. Yeah, I know, I’m a crybaby.

I’ve tried NaNoWriMo every year and every year I fail….so…hard. I’ve just learned that it’s not for me. What does work for me? What works for you?

I honestly think it’s different for me all the time. Maybe my muse has a split personality. There are days I might need peace and absolute quiet. Perhaps, I need a little bit of music the next. Sometimes, I can hash out 2K words, in a day, sitting in front of my computer. Other times, I have to use pen and paper. Well, let’s be honest, it’s a pencil because I make too many mistakes to use a pen!

My point is this, find what works for you. If you fail at NaNo, but end up finishing your novel in January or a year from now, then oh freaking well! I see that as a success! Do you know how hard it is to write a book?!

Does that mean you give up? Um, no! We don’t give up; we’re writers, we finish that book and then second guess everything we wrote. Does that mean you put your novel to the side from time to time? Yes, by all means, do that if you’re not liking where the story is going. For the love of all that is holy, don’t force it. Work on something else. There is no shame in taking more than a month to get through that rough draft.

You just keep writing, sweet pea.

~A

 

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The Origin Key: Fantasy and Sci-Fi Collide

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I’m thrilled to feature another Alabama author on my blog this month. Susan is such a sweet spirit and has always been so kind to me. Sometimes when you meet people you automatically think, “I like her. We’re going to get along just fine.” Believe me when I say those types of people are in short supply.

With that being said, it doesn’t mean she’s too sweet to write a nail-biting fantasy book with a dash of science fiction because she did the thing. Are you intrigued? Good! Keep reading.

Susan McPhail spent years writing technical documentation and developing marketing materials for high-tech engineering firms. She is now a fantasy/science fiction author living in Huntsville, Alabama (aka the Rocket City) with her husband. When she’s not writing or catching the latest movie, Susan enjoys handcrafts like crocheting and quilting because it looks like she’s doing something useful while in fact she is pondering how to work out tricky plot points.

The Origin Key is her first novel, and is the first book in the Treasures of Dodrazeb series. You can find her online at www.sdmcphail.com and on Twitter @susan_mcphail.

 

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The Origin Key on Amazon

Author Questions

A. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

S. I’ve always been a voracious reader and welcomed opportunities to get creative with words in my work life. A few years ago when I transitioned out of a full-time job, I decided to challenge myself and see if I could write fiction. About halfway into the first draft of my first novel, I realized that I had also always wanted to be an author—I had just not taken the time to acknowledge that passion.

A. In what genre do you write?

S. My first published novel is Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key. It’s historical fantasy adventure, a heroic quest that I describe as “sword-and-science” because there is an element of sci-fi in it as well.

A. Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?

S. I have plans for a humorous cozy mystery series featuring a smart wife/mom/working woman who reluctantly gets drawn into murder investigations. It’s set in a small, rural southern town filled with marvelously eccentric characters.

A.Oooo! This sounds so fun!

A. What is your writing process? Such as, outlining, freehand, computer vs paper and pen?

S. My process tends to be less outline-oriented and more seat-of-the-pants. I start out by jotting down notes about major plot points that turn into a somewhat vague synopsis. Then when I start working on a first draft, I develop new and better ideas as I go, so the story starts to diverge from my original notes. The basic story I had in mind remains the same, but taking my characters from the beginning to the end is a very satisfying creative endeavor.

I’m always jotting down notes about different ideas for different stories, so much of that is done with pen and paper (or notebook or napkin or whatever is handy when an idea strikes). But when I have big chunks of writing time, I like to be on my computer. I can type faster than I can write legibly!

A. Who are you writing inspirations, famous or not?

S. Stephen King has been a favorite author of mine for decades. I don’t like every book he’s ever written, but he is a master story teller. I love J.K. Rowling’s imagination and world-building skills. I was also influenced by lots of science fiction writers from H.G. Wells to Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury. One of my all-time favorites is Anne McCaffrey’s science fantasy series Dragonriders of Pern.

A. YES! Rowling is an artist!

A. How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novel(s)?

S. Since my series Treasures of Dodrazeb is grounded in real human history, I have to do quite a bit of research. The hero is a third-century Persian warrior-prince, so I’ve done extensive reading about ancient Persia and that region of the world. In addition to historical research, it’s also necessary to get the details right on a hefty amount of science. While on a quest to bring a criminal to justice, the Persian warrior-prince discovers a hidden kingdom using what we consider to be modern technology in everyday life. That means I have to understand their technology and then be able to describe how an ancient warrior would react to it.

A. Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?

S. No, I’m not usually listening to music while I write—I listen to the TV. It’s an old habit from when I was in school. I would do my homework in the living room with the TV on. Apparently, that works for me just like listening to music works for others.

A. Interesting. I’ve never heard that before.

A. When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?

S. What’s more fun than reading? I read a lot. I like going to the movies, too. Touring historical sites is fun. I recently got to tour the Margaret Mitchell House in Atlanta. Her novel, Gone with the Wind, was an incredibly successful historical novel with vivid, unforgettable characters. I was able to celebrate a love of history, movies, reading, and writing all at once in one afternoon!

A. What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?

S. Receiving the first print copy of my first novel was too awesome for words. Being able to hold an actual copy of a book that I had written made it real for me. I wasn’t just an aspiring writer any more—I was a published author!

A. There is no greater feeling!

A. Who created your amazing cover art?

S. I did! We tried working with a cover artist, but he just never could quite capture the look I wanted. So I put my years of marketing experience and working with graphics to good use.

A. That’s awesome. Maybe I’ll be hitting you up for some tips on that. 😉

A. Is there an artist, book blogger, editor or anyone else that you want to give a shout out to?

S. Absolutely! The Rocket City Lit Fest in 2015 was a major catalyst in spurring me to take the final steps and get my first novel published. Thanks to Ashley Chappell-Peeples and A.G. Porter, both wonderful writers themselves, for all your hard work on that event.

I also want to thank my amazing editor Molly Felder. With her help I was able to polish my pretty good story into a true gem of a first novel. I appreciate her patience, eye for detail, and willingness to teach me how to be a better writer.

A. The Lit Fest was amazing! Thanks for the shot out!

A. Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.

S. Treasures of Dodrazeb: The Origin Key, is a historical sword-and-science fantasy adventure set in the third century. While on a quest to avenge a horrific attack on his father the king, a Persian warrior discovers a strange kingdom isolated from the rest of the world. He thinks the villain is hiding there, but a sly princess is determined to sabotage the Persians to protect her kingdom’s ancient secrets. What is she so desperate to keep hidden?

Halloween Questions

A. This is a Halloween blog post so you must tell us, do you enjoy Halloween? Why or why not?

S. I do enjoy Halloween. I like seeing children donning costumes and exploring the idea of becoming someone or something else for a little while. I like seeing the older kids and adults freeing themselves of their conventional identities for a time and getting creative. I like the idea of costume parties. Perhaps most of all, I like CHOCOLATE!

A. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

S. I like to watch favorite old spooky movies or fun ones like Hocus Pocus or Nightmare Before Christmas leading up to trick-or-treat night. Then we usually order in pizza and have fun answering the door to shower neighborhood kids with candy on Halloween night.

A. Do you believe in the spiritual realm?

S. Yes.

A. Have you ever had an encounter with a ghost or something happen that you just explain?

S. Yes.

A. What is your favorite scary movie and/or book?

S. Donnie Darko. Not necessarily scary, probably because I’ve seen it so many times, but that’s the kind of movie that haunts me.

A. Most importantly, what is your favorite Halloween candy?

S. Tootsie Rolls. Hershey minis. M&Ms. Milk Duds. Chocolate!

Reader Questions

A. What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?

J.K. Rowling. She is my idol!

A. Yes! She’s on my list. I would probably faint. Haha!

A. Hands down, what is your favorite book of all time and why?

S. It used to be Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land. Reading it as a teenager introduced me to so many questions about so many things, I began to develop the ability to think independently, examining issues from many sides.

If you consider an entire series as a single story, it might now be Harry Potter. That story is just magical in so many ways with layers upon layers of meaning.

A. What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?

S. Other than my own book? 😉 I think, if done correctly, any good book can be a good movie if filmmakers respect the source material. The book will always be better, but sometimes it takes a movie to get a person interested in a book. The Harry Potter series was done well as movies and I was also impressed with The Hunger Games films.

A. As a reader, what about a book turns you away?

S. I don’t care too much for whiny, one-dimensional characters.

A. If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?

S. When I start a book, I’m usually committed to finishing it. I keep thinking that if I stick with it, the book will eventually get better. This is not always the case.

A. Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?

S. My personal preference tends toward speculative fiction, but I’m game for lots of other genres. The one I tend to avoid is Romance, unless there is a strong element of mystery, suspense, humor, horror, or some other kind of genre mash-up.

A. Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?

S. I like to acquire autographed books, and there’s something about turning pages and never worrying about battery life that is appealing. But I also read e-books for their convenience, portability, and affordability.

Random Questions

A. Favorite movie?

S. Donnie Darko

A. Favorite TV show?

S. All time: Star Trek (every one of them). Currently: Game of Thrones, Westworld, Big Bang Theory

A. If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

S. That’s a tough one! If I could or if I had to? What keeps popping into my head as I ponder this question is pizza, so I guess that’s my answer.

A. You can’t go wrong with pizza!

A. What’s your favorite candy/dessert?

S. Did I mention chocolate already? Warm brownies with a scoop of ice cream!

A. What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.

S. Beatles. Styx. Michael Jackson. Adele. Is my age showing yet?

A. What’s your hidden talent?

S. Sarcasm. No, wait—that one shows up pretty frequently. My hidden talent is appearing confident in public when I’m ready to shrivel up and die inside.

A. I know what you mean!

A. What is your dream vacation?

S. Leisurely touring Great Britain and Ireland, staying in castles that have been converted into 5-star luxury hotels.

Contact Information:

Author Name: S.D. McPhail

Blog: www.sdmcphail.com

Facebook: S.D. McPhail, Author

Twitter: susan_mcphail

Goodreads: S.D. McPhail

Book Links: https://www.amazon.com/Origin-Key-Treasures-Dodrazeb/dp/1533454116/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1476817108&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Origin+Key

 

              

Rhiannon Frater: Zombies, Vampires, and Ghosts, Oh My!

Asking Rhiannon Frater to be a part of this Halloween themed Author feature was a no-brainer. Her book, The Living Dead Boy, has stuck with me from the moment I turned that last page. The world(s) and characters she creatures is evidence of her immense talent. I have been a fan of the zombie genre for so long that it’s hard to surprise me, much less, impress me. When a friend (thanks Elyse) suggested this book I went into it with an open mind, but still not expecting much. I was so wrong! The story was fresh and mature despite the young age of the main character. I became an instant fan. There is much more to her writing credits than zombies. What else does she write? You’ll just have to find out!

Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies zombie trilogy (Tor) as well as independent works such as The Last Bastion of the Living (declared the #1 Zombie Release of 2012 by Explorations Fantasy Blog and the #1 Zombie Novel of the Decade by B&N Book Blog). She was born and raised in Texas where she currently resides with her husband and furry children (a.k.a pets). She loves scary movies, sci-fi and horror shows, playing video games, cooking, dyeing her hair weird colors, and shopping for Betsey Johnson purses and shoes. She’s the co-host of the ZCast, a Z Nation Fan Podcast.

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Here are some free books by Rhiannon. Thanks for sharing these with us!
The Tale of the Vampire Bride – http://bit.ly/talevb1
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In Darkness We Must Abide- http://bit.ly/RFindarkness1

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Author Questions

 

A. When did you realize you wanted to be an author?

R. From the moment I understood what a book was. So…toddler age? As soon as I learned to talk I was telling stories. As soon as I learned to write, I was writing stories. I was born to do this.

A. In what genre do you write?

R. I write under the umbrella of speculative fiction. I used to classify myself as more of a horror writer, but the genre, as defined now, leans more toward the slasher/gore type stuff. That isn’t my style. I don’t like writing for shock value. I love writing about people facing horrific situations, and fighting back.
So which genre do my books fit into? I’ve had long discussions with readers, and have discovered that they slot my books it different genres. Urban Fantasy, paranormal fantasy, dystopian, post-apocalyptic, science fiction, and even paranormal romance. I honestly think the only series I’ve written that fits paranormal romance is In Darkness We Must Abide, but people interpret the books as they see fit.

So I wave the speculative fiction flag and let readers decide for themselves.

A. Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?

R. Well, I used to say science fiction, but I’ve now written a few books that fit into that genre. It is my first love, and I have a soft spot for it. I love writing stories with something otherworldly in the mix. I’m not really interested in genres outside of the ones I’ve already explored. I’ve had requests for erotica and romances, but those are just not my thing.

A. What is your writing process? Such as, outlining, freehand, computer vs paper and pen?

R. I dream a story. I write down the details I remember in Workflowy. I let the idea germinate. When the time is right, I flip on the movie screen in my mind, watch the action, and type it out in yWriter. I don’t outline, I don’t plot. Whenever I hit a snag, I ruminate while playing Guild Wars 2. I try to write every day when working on a book because that’s the best way to keep the story flowing. I now keep Pinterest boards for my works in progress, and I noticed that really helps anchor me solidly to the world of my imagination.

Long, long ago, I wrote by hand, and destroyed my wrists and my basal thumb joints. I can barely write by hand anymore, so I’m strictly an ergonomic keyboard girl.

A. Writing can do a number on your wrists! 

A. Who are you writing inspirations, famous or not?

R. The Bronte sisters, Jane Austen, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Agatha Christie, and Neil Gaiman.

A. How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novel(s)?

R. It depends on the book. If they take place in the modern world and in Texas, it’s pretty easy to just bang that out on the keyboard. The Pretty When She Dies trilogy and As The World Dies trilogy were a lot easier to craft because they both fit that criteria. The Mesmerized was inspired by my honeymoon in Las Vegas, so I kept images of the strip and a map on my screen while writing. The Vampire Bride Dark Rebirth trilogy was a lot more demanding because it takes place in Eastern Europe during the Regency Era. I did probably a year of research before I even started the first book. My husband often helps me with weaponry and tech. Though my science fiction books are pure speculation of the future, I do try to base it off of stuff in development now.

A. Do you listen to music while you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?

R. It really depends on the book. For Pretty When She Dies it was a lot of PJ Harvey, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and music like that. For my recent book, The Lament of the Vampire Bride, it was the Jane Eyre soundtrack. It’s always changing, book to book.

A. When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?

R. I binge-watch television shows with my hubby, read, play lots of video games, and hang out with loved ones. I was really ill last year and still recovering, so I’ve been a homebody. I do hope to get out more and do some traveling when I’m back to normal. I miss the convention circuit.

A. Conventions are so much fun! I hope you get back to it soon. 

A. What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?

R. I was invited to the South Dakota Book Festival, and that was just an amazing experience. I was interviewed on television about my books for the first time, sat on some panels, did my own presentation, and did a mass book signing. For some reason, that weekend made me feel like a “real” writer.

A. Who created your amazing cover art?

R. Claudia McKinney of PhatPuppyArt has done a lot of my covers, including the ones from Permuted Press. My Tor covers are done in-house by their art department. My foreign editions are also done by my publishers’ art departments.

Recently, my husband has been creating covers for my indie books.

A. Is there an artist, book blogger, editor or anyone else that you want to give a shout out to?

R. Well, I love Felicia Sullivan. She’s an amazing editor. And Kody Boye always makes my indie books look amazing. He’s an awesome formatter.

A. Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.

My newest release (as of October 25th) is Lost in Texas: The Living Dead Boy 2. It’s the sequel to The Living Dead Boy. It’s a zombie book geared at all ages. I would describe it as the Goonies versus the zombies. I wrote the first book for the youngest zombie fans, but adults really love it, too. The books are about Josh, a twelve-year-old zombie fanatic, and his friends. They’re part of the Zombie Hunters Club, and love all things zombie. When the undead invade their school, the kids have to rely on their knowledge of zombies to survive. Though the books are not as gory as my adult zombie series (As The World Dies trilogy, The Last Bastion series), they’re pretty scary. I’m currently working on the third book in the Living Dead Boy trilogy, Journey Across Zombie Texas, to round out the series. After that, I may take a break from zombies, and write a gothic horror novel.

A. I’m so pumped for book 2 for The Living Dead Boy!

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The Living Dead Boy on Amazon

Halloween Questions

A. This is a Halloween blog post so you must tell us, do you enjoy Halloween? Why or why not?

R. Halloween is a way of life for me. I love it. I’m Goth so it’s basically Christmas for me. Furthermore, I was married on Halloween so it has additional importance.

A. Married on Halloween!? That’s awesome! 

A. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

R. My hubby and I usually go to a nice dinner together, and if it’s on the weekend, we hit the local goth club. If it’s a weekday, we usually watch a Halloween themed movie like The Nightmare Before Christmas.

A. Do you believe in the spiritual realm?

R. Absolutely. I have zero doubts about that.

A. Have you ever had an encounter with a ghost or something happen that you just explain?

R. Yes. More times than I can relate. I lived in two haunted houses. After a while, the paranormal stuff became normal. I remember we had guests over one day and were chatting in our living room. From the kitchen came the sound of every single dish, pan, glass, silverware, etc., falling out of the cabinets. It was deafening. But to my family, it was the same old, same old. We ignored it because we knew if we went into the kitchen nothing would be out of place. Our guests were surprised when we shrugged off the noise. They ignored us when we said it was nothing, and ran to the kitchen. When they saw that not one plate was out of place, they freaked out and fled. And never came back.

We just carried on as usual.

A. That’s freaky! 

A. What is your favorite scary movie and/or book?

R. I have too many favorite scary movies to pick from, but the scariest book I read was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I couldn’t sleep with the lights off for a few days after finishing it.

A. I’ve never read the book, but the 1979 movie really freaked me out! 

A. Most importantly, what is your favorite Halloween candy?

R. I avoid sugar, but I used to love candy corn.

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Pretty When She Dies on Amazon

Reader Questions

A. What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?

R. Anne Rice. Without a doubt.

A. Hands down, what is your favorite book of all time and why?

R. Jane Eyre because of Jane Eyre. Jane is just an amazing woman, and one of the first feminist characters I read about. She’s wonderfully complicated and smart. I just adore her.

A. What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?

R. I regard films as alternative universes to books. In a way, they’re fan fiction films. The one book I really wanted to see as a film is now in production. That’s The Gunslinger by Stephen King.

A. As a reader, what about a book turns you away?

R. I have a long list. LOL. I really hate when author’s make a woman angry all the time with a chip on her shoulder to make her appear “strong.” No, that just makes her an asshole. I hate when a plot depends on a misunderstanding that would be resolved in a one minute conversation. I also don’t enjoy books that depend on violence for shock value, or use rape of a woman as a plot device so the male character can get revenge.
A. I agree. I don’t think like senseless, unnecessary violence. 

A. If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?

R. Life is too short. I have learned to walk away. As a writer, I’m aware that a book is not for all readers. Each one has its own audience.

A. Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?

R. The books I read for enjoyment have a supernatural or science fiction element. When I research, I cast a wider net.

A. Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?

R. Since I wrecked my hands by handwriting my first books in my teens, I use a Kindle. It’s a lot easier to hold. The last time I read a regular book, I was in so much pain I had to buy the Kindle version to finish.

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Pretty When She Kills on Amazon

Random Questions

A. Favorite movie?

R. Night of the Living Dead, Aliens, Rear Window, That Touch of Mink, Mad Max Fury Road, and so many more.

A. Favorite TV show?

R. Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

A. If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

R. My mom’s spaghetti and meatballs.

A. There’s no cooking like mom’s cooking.

A. What’s your favorite candy/dessert?

R. Chocolate gelato served in Italy. Nothing compares.

A. What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.

R. Nine Inch Nails, The Cure, Depeche Mode, and PJ Harvey are default.

A. What’s your hidden talent?

R. I’m a damn good shot with a pistol.

A. What is your dream vacation?

R. Venice in October. I can’t wait to go back.

A. Me too! 

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Pretty When She Destroys on Amazon

Contact Information:

You can find her online at:

Website: rhiannonfrater.com

Twitter: twitter.com/rhiannonfrater

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rhiannon.frater

Tumblr: http://rhiannonfrater.tumblr.com/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=340109912&trk=spm_pic

Google+: https://plus.google.com/113336058823746385572/posts

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Rhiannon-Frater/e/B0027DLFL6/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2310121.Rhiannon_Frater

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/rhiannonfrater/

Email: rhiannonfrater at gmail.com

 

 

Lords of Vengeance: Bart Hamilton

I can’t tell you how excited I am to introduce you to Bart Hamilton. I met Bart at the Athens Catfish Literary Festival this past summer. His book covers looked pretty stinking awesome (yes, I judge books by their covers) so I had to walk over and check them out. I was glad I did because not only did I find some really well written YA books, I made a new author friend! It doesn’t hurt that Bart is one of the nicest people on the planet.

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Bart’s books, the Lords of Vengeance series, are action/adventure tales for young adults, but they’re those types of books that even adults can enjoy. Personally, I like books that focus on teens who are thrown into dire circumstances and, as the reader, we get to watch how they handle it.

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Lords of Vengeance: The Alpha

Author Questions

A. When you realize you wanted to be an author?

B. I used to tell stories as a kid. My mom, sister, and I would drive to Decatur every Monday to see my Ma-maw and Pap-Paw and I would be just talking away the whole time. Eventually, my mother was like “You know, you should write this stuff down on paper.” It was a nice way of telling me to shut up. That’s when the seed was planted, I suppose.

A. In what genre do you write?

B. Young adult. Action/Adventure

A. Is there a genre you haven’t written in, but want to?

B. I’ve always wanted to try Fantasy or Science Fiction. Maybe one day I will.

A. What is your writing process? Such as outlining, freehand, and computer vs. pen?

B. I don’t do outlines. I feel really restricted when I try them. I like to change plans and if you don’t stick to the outline then there’s no point in having it anyway. I do everything on the computer.

A. Who are your writing inspirations, famous or not?

B. I grew up reading Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, and other Christian Fiction authors.

A. How much research, if any, did you have to put into your novels?

B. A little bit. You always need to get your facts straight before you put it on a page. For instance, I researched the effects of a gunshot on the human body. For this next book, I’m going to be writing a scene about the Stock Exchange so I’m going to do some research on that.

A. Do you ever find the research tedious? It is for your novels, but is there any time you’re like, “Oh gosh, why did I chose this topic?”

B. Some topics are harder to research than others. For instance, one character in my next novel will have cancer resulting from radiation poisoning. That…is going to be a pain to research. So, the answer is yes.

A. Do you listen to music as you write or edit? If so, who do you listen to?

B. Yes! All the time! I listen to a lot of instrumental music. Movie composers like Hans Zimmer and John Williams. Lindsey Stirling. I also love a group call Two Steps from Hell.

A. When you’re not being an amazing author and writing away, what do you for fun?

B. I enjoy playing video games, reading books, and going running. I’m also into Theater. I’m a member of the Athenian Players.

A. You have to tell us more about being an actor. What is about theater that draws you? 

B. I’m a bit of introvert and theater gives me a chance to be the exact opposite. When you’re onstage, everyone is there to see you. Shyness melts away and someone else comes out. It’s fun.

A. What has been the most exciting experience for you since starting your writing career?

B. I’ve been on TV multiple times. That never gets old.

A. Who created your amazing cover art?

B. The spectacular Lisa Buijteweg! She is on Twitter under the handle @Zolaiida if you want to contact her.

A. Is there an artist, book blogger, editor or anyone else that you want to give a shout out to?

B. Angie Paule is my editor and I love her so much. I wouldn’t be able to do this without her.

A. Give us a brief description of your WIP (work in progress) or your newest novel.

B. My newest novel is the third of the series. It’s titled “Lords of Vengeance: The Giant”. To use Stephen King’s what if advice when describing a novel…What if a secret, wealthy organization began training kids (prodigies) at 16 years of age for the next five years to be spies, assassins, computer hackers, or scientists? What if that organization came under attack by people it had made into enemies?

A. That’s a really good blurb for your book! Are they easy to write for you? Some authors dread having to condense their novel into a single paragraph. 

B. Not hard, really. You just need to stop and think about it for a while. Try doing it for your favorite TV show or Movie for practice.

lov-book-2

Lords of Vengeance: The Ascension

Halloween Questions

A. This is a Halloween blog post so you must tell us, do you enjoy Halloween? Why or why not?

B. –I do like Halloween! It’s the one time of the year where it’s socially acceptable to be someone other than yourself.

 

A. Do you have any Halloween traditions?

B. For the past few years. I’ve dressed up in a costume, got several bags of candy, and gave it out to people I know. And to a few I don’t.

A. Do you believe in the spiritual realm?

B. Yes, I do. I am a Christian, after all.

A. Have you ever had an encounter with a ghost or something happen that you just can’t explain?

B. I have. After my grandmother passed away, I “dreamed” she came to me. We talked. She told me she loved me and then told me about some personal things that were headed my way. They have come true. It wasn’t scary. I think God gave her special permission to do it. She could sweet talk anyone. LOL.

A. What is your favorite scary movie and/or book?

B. Amanda Porter’s Darkness Trilogy. That chick can write!

A. Oh, stop it! 😉 

A. Most importantly, what is your favorite Halloween candy?

B. KIT KATS!

 Reader Questions

A. What author would you geek out over if you met them in real life?

B. J.K. Rowling, obviously.

A. SAME!

A. Hands down, what is your favorite book of all time and why?

B. Star Wars: Episode III. It was just so brilliantly written. The movie didn’t do it justice. It really inspired me to examine the duality of my characters when I started writing. The darkness that resides in all humans, the capability of doing good or evil, is something that makes for good characterization.

A. Oooo! You must tell us your opinion of the new Star Wars era. Did you enjoy the new movie? 

B. I loved the new movie! Took me back to my childhood. I like the new continuity, but I really miss the characters in the old one. Jacen, Jaina, and Anakin were Han and Leia’s kids. Mara Jade was Luke’s wife and Ben was his son. Now it’s all gone…

A. What book would you like to see in film or do you believe that books should be left alone?

B. I’m all for books being made into films if it gets people to want to read more. As for which book I’d like to see be made into a film…MINE. 😀

A. As a reader, what about a book turns you away?

B. The lack of plot movement and character development. You might as well be reading a textbook if it doesn’t have either of those. Not that there’s anything wrong with reading a textbook.

A. If you find you can’t get into a book, do you put it down or be a trooper and finish it?

B. I wish I could say that I always finish it, but I don’t. If I’m not enjoying it, I’ll put it down.

A. Do you stick to one genre or do you like to read around?

B. I read around. I like Mysteries, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and Christian Fiction.

A. Are you a book-in-your-hands reader, e-booker, or both?

B. I like it in my hands. E-books are easier, true, but they’re odorless. I love the smell of books, old and new. Smell triggers memory and I want to remember what I read.

A. There is nothing better than that new book smell!

lov-book-3

Lords of Vengeance: The Giant

Random Questions

A. Favorite movie?

B. Superman. The Richard Donner film.

A. Favorite TV show?

B. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

A. Yes! Buffy Summers is my girl crush! 

A. If you could eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be?

B. Papa John’s Pizza!

A. And what topping(s) would be on this pizza?

B. Supreme! Olives, pepperoni, sausage, and anything else they can throw on there. LOL!

A. What’s your favorite candy/dessert?

B. Chocolate Oreo Truffles!

A. What band or musician can you listen to over and over again? You can list more than one.

Two Steps from Hell, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Lindsey Stirling, and The Piano Guys.

A. What’s your hidden talent?

B. Martial Arts

A. How long have you been training?

B. Since high school. I’m not saying I’m Batman or anything, but then again, you’ll never see us both in the same place.

A. What is your dream vacation?

B. Venice, Italy

Contact Information:

Author Name: Bart H. Hamilton

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorbart/?fref=ts

Twitter: @bartavious

 

Christmas Nightmare (Not Really, but Seriously)

OK, maybe my title is a little dramatic, but that’s how I’m feeling right about now. This is a result of hand making my Christmas gifts and getting a writing itch at the same time. That does not sit well with my home office. My house is no where big enough to have a room for crafting and a room for writing so they occupy one space. That has to be a paradox, right?

There's a desk under all of this, right?

There’s a desk under all of this, right?

That's sweet tea aka my fuel.

That’s sweet tea aka my fuel.

I mean, what the heck?!?

I mean, what the heck?!?

My desk has been taken over by crafting supplies. You want gadgets and gizmos? I’ve got plenty and then some! I think I’ve lost myself and my sanity in all of my wares. I wonder how many days it will take my husband to notice I’m missing?

 

And I wonder why I can't any hair clips when I'm getting ready...I leave them all in my office!

And I wonder why I can’t find any hair clips when I’m getting ready…I leave them all in my office!

 

So, I’m still not done with crafting. Yes, I know tomorrow is Christmas Eve, but I’m at my best under pressure, alright? Anyway, that’s why I can’t put all of this stuff away. I do have a place for it, but right now it must stay where it lies. Even if it must lie in my way. My solution was just to clear a space and plop my laptop right in the middle.

I feel you silently judging me for my Twilight books.

I feel you silently judging me for my Twilight books.

It seems to be working, but at the same time, I keep getting distracted by how messy my surroundings are. Why did you have to come at Christmas time writing muse? You must really hate me!

Oh, and this weather has gotten my lips all chappy so I’ve spent the last several minutes looking for my Chap-Stick, thinking I’ve left somewhere in this junk pile. Just so happens I put it in my purse, where it’s supposed to be and that’s the last place I look. This clutter has got me all up in…in…I don’t even have a nice word to use right here.

My lips are saved!

My lips are saved!

(Deep breath) Despite my humbug attitude, Christmas is one of my favorite times of year. I enjoy the gift giving and joyous spirit. I love all the different songs and customs. Celebrating my Savior’s birth always brings a smile to my face. So, please Jesus, help me before I throw everything on my desk into the floor.

See, I really am in the Christmas spirit!

See, I really am in the Christmas spirit!

Merry Christmas, y’all!

~A

Friday Favorites-Author Ashley Chappell

Hello everyone!

Has it really been that long since I’ve been on my blog? Um, maybe. However, I’m back and that’s all that matters, right? Besides, I’m back with something I hope you all will enjoy.

I’m launching my Friday Favorites! What is Friday Favorites? Well, it will mostly consist of books and authors. It won’t always be traditionally published authors either or massively popular books. Sometimes it will, but be on the look out for books and authors from the Indie world and small press.

Also, I might even throw in some movies, food, local restaurants, etc. The point is, you’ll never know what you’ll find here!

Not only is this a way for me to train myself to work on my blog, it’s also a fun way to showcase some books, people, and places you might not know about.

Today we’re talking about Author Ashley Chappell and her book, Of War and Taters. I met Ashley a little over a year ago and now I’m blessed to call her a friend.

Ash

Ashley Chappell

I didn’t know what to expect when I picked up a copy Of War and Taters. I mean, you can like a person, but not like a book, right? What can you really, I mean truly, expect from a book called Of War and Taters with a giant potato sitting inside a circus tent on the cover?

Of War & Taters

 

Having met Ashley, I was pretty sure this book was going to be a lot of fun. Guess what? I was right!

I’ll backtrack just a little bit here. With an exception to a few genres, I’ll pretty much read anything. I normally stick to the Paranormal and Fantasy type books, but if it’s a good read, I don’t care what genre it is. Still, I’m apprehensive to a fault at times. Let me say that I am glad I convinced myself to read a genre that I normally don’t read all that much.

Of War & Taters is satire with Southern flair. Oh it has flair! It has ghosts, circus performers, children lead “gangs”, murder, mystery, romance, and, you guessed it, taters. Take all that, throw in some misinterpreted statements and you have the national media swooping down on a small down, claiming there’s a problem with racism. Never mind the fact that the “gangs” are kids who get along just great.

There are honestly too many things I love about this book to say, “My favorite part was…” However, I will say this for Chappell, she created characters and a world, not too unlike our own. We get caught up in what someone says, but never stop to ask what they meant. Sometimes we say things without thinking about the other person too. We assume a lot about people based on their appearance and not their soul. And that’s how you get the media taking a situation, an innocent or perhaps, localized, situation and blow it completely out of proportion.

Of War & Taters is a fun read, it truly is, but it is much more than that. Sure, there’s a ghost that people can see and they think nothing of it. There’s a very eccentric heiress who is trying her best to kill her husband, the sheriff. Did I mention that a circus set up shop on a potato farm and the ring leader is trying to capitalize on the craziness that has settled on the town? Oh, there is a murderer on the loose too.

Like I said, there is so much more to this fun story set in a small southern town where the days are hot and slow and the most exciting thing there is usually to talk about is the weather. I feel like it could be one of those books that we want to pass down to the next generation and then the next because of it’s underlying message.  What message is that? I think you have to find out for yourself.

My review: So what happens in a small Southern town when a false claim of racism, amongst children no less, reaches the national news outlets? Chaos! Not only does Sheriff Stanley Grace have to deal with his quiet town being invaded with news vans, including the smart and attractive Dana “the I is silent” Perki, but the circus has decided to set up shop on Mad Mother Hinkle’s potato farm. On top of that, the recently deceased actor, Monty, has come back from the dead, ghost form style. As if it couldn’t get any worse, there is a someone loose in the town who is a real danger. Stanley knows it’s up to him to keep his town safe, that is if he can avoid an untimely death by his wife.

I haven’t read a book that has made me laugh, touched my heart, and creeped me out at the same time until I read Ashley Chappell’s Of War & Taters. This satire novel is full colorful characters, strong female characters, who have their own individual stories taking place, but those stories are so entertaining you don’t get lost and they tie back to the main plot. Even the dog, Cud, had his moment in the spotlight! My favorite character, though she didn’t get a lot of word count, was Mother Hinkle. She was fierce!
I can’t get over how amazing this book was. I know that Ashley will continue to write amazing novels for us to read. I am officially a fan!

Amazon link: Of War & Taters
Ashley’s website: http://www.ashleychappellbooks.com/ 
Ashley’s Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AshleyChappellAuthor

Femnista~A Family Affair and Beyond Blood with The Winchesters

In December I was able to contribute an article to the wonderful online magazine Femnista about my favorite TV show Supernatural! I can’t thank Charity Bishop enough for letting me sneak in at the last minute on this issue. There was no way I was going to miss out on the chance to write about the Winchesters!

Before you get in the to wonderful magazine, please take a moment to check out more of Charity’s work. She is also an author who is beyond talented!

http://www.charitysplace.com/

To see the full magazine that is full of articles that are focused on this month’s theme, “A Family Affair”, go here:

http://issuu.com/femnista/docs/nov_dec_femnista_2014/0

Beyond Blood

S14

For some, there is nothing we wouldn’t do for our families. Without a doubt we’d walk through fire for them, take a bullet them, or walk through hell and back. If you’re a Winchester then you’ve probably done all of the above and more than once. That’s because The Winchesters aren’t your average family. They come from a long line of Hunters, people who make it the family business to hunt things (monsters and demons) and save people.

S6

The dynamics of the Winchester family can seem to be all over the place. John, father of Dean and Sam, is more or less a absent parent after his wife, Mary, is killed. He is so consumed with finding the demon (you read that correctly) that killed Mary that at times he leaves his young sons to fend for themselves. While this forms an unbreakable bond between the boys it also creates a strain that same relationship.

S1

Dean sees his father as the man who did what he had to do to find justice for his mother’s killer even if that meant leaving him to take care of Sam from time to time; at least for a while. Sam can’t seem to see past the fact that his dad was gone most of the time. Their relationship is rocky from the start, but regardless of that, Sam loves his father.

S11

S5

Dean, who is several years older, starts looking out for his younger brother Sam (Sammy) at such a young age that it is pretty much ingrained in him. When his mother is killed, it takes place in their home; Dean must take Sam, a baby at the time, outside to safety. From that moment on, Dean feels that he must take Sam under his wing and keep him safe. In any situation that the boys are in Dean is always looking out for his brother. That is why he sacrificed so much, even his own soul for him.

S10

For Sam, he wanted to get out of the monster hunting business and live as normal a life as possible. For a while, he was able to, but he’s a Winchester and a Hunter and happiness just isn’t in their cards. Sam, as goodhearted as he is, is marked from a child to do bad things and be a dark person, but he chooses the light and overcomes his fate. While he is the baby brother he is smart, selfless and brave; Sam works just hard to prove himself as a worthy Hunter as well a human being.

S9

As opposite as Dean and Sam are, there is one thing that both of have in common, it is the love they have for their family. Here’s the thing about the brothers, family is more than blood to them. They’ve adopted family members along the way and those same people have adopted them. From a surrogate father in Bobby Singer, brothers like Kevin and Cas, to a kid sister like Charlie, the brothers give love and love in return. So, yes, Supernatural is about brothers who fighter the forces of evil and happens to look fantastic while doing it, but it is also about brothers who have given their all in every way imaginable.

S13

*I do not own the rights to these photos

New work while I work!

Hi y’all!

As most of you know I love to write. Currently, I have my first book, The Shadow, out in publication. I am in the middle of edits for the second book. If you have ever edited a book you know it requires a lot of work, fearlessness and caffeine! My mind is so wrapped up in it that I feel like I need a release. I relieve stress by…writing! So, while I have been editing, I have started on another book. Haha! I have a sample chapter that I would love for you all to read. Let me know what you think. If you like it, go vote for me here:
Before you get into it, here is the synopsis:
*Note: This is work is (c) A.G. Porter

Tarin King never wanted to leave her loving home in Maine. She never wanted to impose on her aging grandfather or have to share living space with his “adopted” son, the creepy and socially-awkward, Rylan. She also didn’t want to start a new school during her senior year. However, things haven’t exactly gone the way she wanted them to since her parents died in a plane crash, the same crash that nearly took her own life.

Her grandfather, while a sweet man, treats her as if she might break, Rylan treats her like she’s something to study and the kids at school avoid her like the plague. When she meets Dalton, a witty and handsome loner, Tarin thinks her social life just might be on the mend.

Still, there are things that Tarin must keep to herself. She doesn’t tell her new friend, or anyone else for that matter, that she’s seeing things. She doesn’t tell her grandfather that shadows dance in the vineyard of his Tennessee farm. She especially doesn’t tell anyone about the terrible headaches that cause her to lose time. She’s afraid of what happens during these blackouts; she’s terrified of finding out where she goes. Every time they happen, she comes back with cuts, bruises and sometimes items that she knows belong to someone else.

Chapter 1

 

Tarin couldn’t remember which terminal she was supposed to be at. She looked down at her ticket again, checking the numbers one more time. Since the accident her head always felt fuzzy and her memory was terrible. It didn’t make sense though. The doctor said she was fine, “fit as a fiddle”. So, she didn’t press the matter of feeling like she was floating through life, light as a feather.
She heard a train enter the station as she searched her ticket for the correct terminal. She sighed as she instantly remembered the number as soon as her eyes found it marked on her ticket. The platform was number 7. She had to be at number 7. She knew her grandfather, Henry, was already there waiting on her.
The train station was busy. People moved like ants, crawling over each other, determined to get to the their destination. The sounds were ear shattering, metal wheels scraping against metal, feet scuffling along concrete; all of it was a little more than she wanted to hear. Even the smells were stronger and more vibrant. That is how she felt since waking up; waking up to learn her life was forever changed. She woke up to find she was an orphan.
Her mother and father were killed, their lives cut short by a bum engine on a small plane. It wasn’t one of those single passenger planes, but it was smaller than most commercial airliners. They were on their way to see her grandfather for his birthday. They hadn’t seen him in a few years because life was busy, her parent’s lives were busy, that was for certain.
Her mother, Nancy, was a busy book editor. She even ran her own publishing company with her father, Michael. They had started the business a few years before Tarin was born. It had grown into such a successful business, but the Kings remained in control even after making their first million. They didn’t want to turn into a publishing house that pumped out “garbage”; they wanted to publish books from authors that loved their craft.
Tarin understood their passion, but wondered if they realized the toll it took on their lives. Her mother would be up for hours, pouring over a new submission and her father would be right beside her, filing taxes or ordering supplies. They had an assistant and a full staff, but Tarin often thought their staff was there just to warm the seats. They gave their all to their company.
Now, they were gone. The business was there and being run by the company’s Board for the moment. Tarin wasn’t old enough yet. She had to wait until she was twenty-five and out of college before her parents would allow her to run the company. That was what was set in their will. Tarin was alright with that, until she learned her fate. She had to live with her grandfather until her senior year was over.
Tarin loved her grandfather. She adored him and he her. She would beg her parents to visit him when she was a young girl and loved spending time in the vineyard that he grew during the summer. That was up until she was nine-years-old and her grandfather adopted Rylan.
Rylan was the only son of her grandfather’s most trusted employees, The Martins. Rylan’s family worked for her grandfather for many years. They rented the house a few miles down the road from her grandfather and worked the fields harder than anyone her grandfather had ever hired. The first time she met Rylan was at her grandmother’s funeral and it wasn’t the best of meetings, she had punched him.
She remembered Rylan being quiet throughout the entire event until the family went back to her grandfather’s house. The two of them sat outside on the porch with a few other children from her family, cousins that she had never met. Rylan was fidgeting with the collar of his shirt and nervously tapping his foot on the front porch step. He was three years older than her and taller than most boys his age.
After not saying one word to her the entire day he suddenly turned and looked at her. His deep brown eyes seemed to look right into her soul.
“Your grandmother said that she left you the box up in the attic,” he told her and then stood up.
“What?” Tarin had asked, looking up at him.
“The box…up in the attic…it’s yours so please go get it,” he said as if he were getting impatient with her.
“OK,” she looked at him oddly as if he were insane.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” he snapped. “Go get it. Now.”
“Listen, I don’t even know you,” Tarin began.
“It doesn’t matter you nitwit!” he bellowed. “Just go get the box so she’ll stop screaming at me! Go get the box! Go! Go! Go get the box! Get it now!”
Tarin stood up and punched Rylan in the nose. She was so confused and scared that this strange boy was yelling at her about some box in the attic. Her parents had come out and scolded her. They had scolded her! Rylan was the one who had caused her to lose her temper and they made her apologize. After the adults had cleared the dust Rylan and his parents left, apologizing about their son’s behavior.
A few years later she and her family learned that Rylan’s parents had died in a house fire. Rylan had been spending the night with a friend when an electrical fire started in the family’s laundry room. His parents died of smoke inhalation before the flames had reached them. Since her grandfather had been such close a friend of The Martin’s he took Rylan in.
According to her grandfather, Rylan had nowhere to go as both of his parents had no siblings and he had no living relatives. There was no way that her grandfather could allow Rylan to be sent to an orphanage.
To this day, Rylan lived with her grandfather. Tarin assumed he was about twenty now and the last she heard he was working at the vineyard and taking classes at the local university. She tired to tell herself that maybe Rylan wasn’t as weird as he used to be. She also reminded herself that she would only have to be there for just a few months, as she would be going to college soon.
Tarin sighed heavily as she exited the gate at the right terminal. As she expected, she saw her grandfather waiting for her. He gave her that familiar smile as she approached him. The sun was peaking through the windows of the train station and seemed to focus on the top of his head. The thick, white hair caught the rays like an angel’s halo. In a way, this fit, he was indeed saving her, like a guardian angel. He was rescuing her from a bad place that she might have had to face on her own if he weren’t around.
“Sweetheart,” he said in that country drawl she adored.
They hugged each other and she could smell the vineyard on him. He tried not to hug her too tightly. Tarin was still recovering from the plane crash. Her face was bruised and stitches were visible over her right eye. Her right arm was in a cast and she walked with a slight limp. Tarin had been the only one to survive that crash while 35 others lost their lives. She was sure she looked terrible.
Before leaving the hospital, her nurse was nice enough to help her pull her auburn curls into a messy bun. Being one armed was much more difficult then she could have ever imagined. Her grandfather didn’t seem to notice how disheveled she looked.
“You’re looking great, Tarin,” he smiled. “But I’m sure you’re ready for a shower after your trip. Let’s get you home.”
He took the suitcase she was rolling behind her and lead her to the exit. After climbing into her grandfather’s beat up work truck they headed out of the train station and toward the vineyard. Tarin sat in the passenger seat as her grandfather tried to make her feel welcome by telling her he had “fixed up” his guest room for her. All Tarin could do was sit there and nod her head. What she really wanted to do was go back in time and stop her parents from getting on that plane.

Words are Words

Words are words, but more is heard when more is learned.

Words are words, but the more it  burns the more it hurts.

Words are words, but more is torn when more is ignored.

 

Words are words, but the more it stings the more it rings.

Words are words, but more is known when more is shown.

Words are words, but the more it bares the more we care.

A.G. Porter