Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Book Review: Die for Me by Amy Plum


Title: Die for Me (Revenants #1)
Author: Amy Plum
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date:
05/10/2011
ISBN: 9780062004017







My life had always been blissfully, wonderfully normal. But it only took one moment to change everything.

Suddenly, my sister, Georgia, and I were orphans. We put our lives into storage and moved to Paris to live with my grandparents. And I knew my shattered heart, my shattered life, would never feel normal again. Then I met Vincent.

Mysterious, sexy, and unnervingly charming, Vincent Delacroix appeared out of nowhere and swept me off my feet. Just like that, I was in danger of losing my heart all over again. But I was ready to let it happen.

Of course, nothing is ever that easy. Because Vincent is no normal human. He has a terrifying destiny, one that puts his life at risk every day. He also has enemies . . . immortal, murderous enemies who are determined to destroy him and all of his kind.

While I'm fighting to piece together the remnants of my life, can I risk putting my heart—as well as my life and my family's—in jeopardy for a chance at love?



I have to admit that I wasn't quite sure what I was getting into. The synopsis on the back of the book was incredibly vague about what type of supernatural critter the book was about & as such, I didn't really go into this book with any preconceived notions. That actually helped the book out immensely as it enabled me to see this particular supernatural creature in a different light. Because of this, I'm not going to spill the beans as far as what Vincent is. (If you're curious then take the first letter of each paragraph after this one & it'll tell you what the supernatural creatures are. Or you could just google "revenants" but it's more fun this way, I guess.)

Zealous fans of series such as Twilight will enjoy the gentle romance that's played up in this book. While there is a bit of action in the book, the plot takes a good while to get there & decides to focus on building up the romance between the main characters as well as playing up the beautiful scenery of France.

Others who aren't as fond of Twilight might get a little frustrated that the main character isn't as well fleshed out as they'd like her to be. I couldn't help but wish for a little more development as far as characters go, but even so I couldn't help but like Kate for the most part. She doesn't go through the "I'm just an average girl, poor pitiful me" mopes to the extent that Bella does & while it does exist in the book, Plum gives Kate a reason to doubt herself. (Plus Kate isn't really as willing to sit back & do nothing or put up with as much stuff as Bella did.)

My absolute favorite part of the book had to be the twist on a very common supernatural creature. I'll admit that I was initially a little skeptical when I first realized what Vincent & his friends were, but after some initial misgivings I was able to enjoy how Plum interpreted these characters.

Because the book is so slow I can't help but feel that this book will really only appeal to a portion of the YA reading audience. It took me a while to get into this book & I'll admit that at one point I put the book down because I just couldn't really get all that connected with the characters or plot. It just ran a little too slow for my tastes.

I will say though, keep at it. The slow plot movement pays off in the end & I admit that I ended up liking this book more than I thought I would.

Even though I ended up not being overwhelmingly drawn into this book in the same way I was drawn into similar books like Hush, Hush, this is still an enjoyable book that I feel many readers will still enjoy. I just recommend getting it from the library if you're not a fan of slower paced books. I'll probably glance through the next book when it comes out, but I don't know that I'll be dying to tear through the pages like I would with some of the other YA books out there. This is a good enough book but I'm not entirely sure if it can stand out against its peers even with the cool twist on supernatural creatures.

Since you've read to this point, you can now put the letters together to find out what the book is about. It might have been a little overly elaborate, but it was fun to post a semi-spoilerish plot point in this fashion.

3/5

(ARC provided through BAM)

Easter Blog Hop Winners!

Hi everyone!! Time to announce the winners of the contest!

I've used random.org & the powers that be chose the following people: (all books are ebook copies)

1) Your choice of one of Jim Bernheimer's novels: Taku

2) Your choice of a LJ Deleon novel: Rad Hall

3) A copy of The Job by Craig Davis: Erica T

4) A copy of Predators of Darkness by Leonard Hilley: Andrea

5) A copy of Skulls by Tim Marquitz: Hannah

6) $10 Amazon giftcard: Melissa Meanderings


Congratulations to everyone who won & make sure to check your email or blogger messages (or the equivalent) for instructions on what to do next! If you didn't win you can always check back next month as I try to do a giveaway each month!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Check it Out: LJ Deleon

Hi everyone! I'm going to be posting the winners of the contest soon, so check back in a little bit to see if you won!


For my final interview I have LJ Deleon, author of Warrior's Rise & Dragon's Child. She's one of the authors who generously donated an ebook for the contest, so one lucky person is going to get their choice of one of her books! (Click on the image below to go to her website!)



What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

LJ: It was an aha moment, but not one you would expect. In retrospect, I have always been a storyteller. When a book or film or TV show didn’t end the way I wanted it to, I rewrote it. On the long drives I made between Fort Huachuca, Arizona and anywhere, I made up stories to amaze myself, such as the flicker of light was a UFO and the aliens have a secret base in the Cochise Mountains.
Then in 1990, I read a book that was a real wall-banger—the type where a book lover like me who doesn’t break the bindings would rip it to shreds—and I decided I can do better than that! A year later, I had a completed manuscript that lined the litter box. Six manuscripts later, I finally had a book I was willing to show someone.


How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

LJ: Warrior’s Rise went through three, or was it four, different titles before I settled on it. I had the title of the series, Warriors For Light, but Deva Morgan’s book gave me fits. I finally stopped torturing myself and looked at my story. Deva starts as a barkeep, by the end of the first scene she’s been told she is the future leader of an army to save Earth and Otherworld from the Dark Lord and his demons. Over the course of the book, she grows/rises into a warrior.

Whereas, I had the title for Dragon Child, the second book in the series, before I wrote the first line. I mean, truly, what else can you name a book when the heroine, Moira O’Neal, is a Saraph, a fire-breathing dragon shifter, who was exchanged at birth with the newborn Fae princess. The third book, Absolution, will be released in May. Again, this title came first. The hero, Lucan “Luc” Woods, is in search of forgiveness, why and how he achieves it is the crux of the story.

In my other series, The Turner Chronicles, it wasn’t the title, The Ultimate Game, that proved the problem but the series name. This series is a futuristic romance/cyberpunk. In 1875, a cave-in traps Max Turner and two woman in a mine filled with a strange gas. In 2484, he awakens in a cryo chamber. Max, a conman and professional gambler, plays The Ultimate Game, to keep the heroine and himself alive, uncyber-chipped, and to take down the ruling family that wants him dead.

Are any of the experiences in the books based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Obviously the more fantastical aspects come from your imagination, but have you ever drawn on anything that you’ve seen or done (or anyone you’ve known) in real life & used it in part of your story?

LJ: I joke about being an Army brat and a former CIA intelligence analyst set the stage for my writing fantasy romance, urban fantasy romance, and cyberpunk romance. But in a way, it’s true. Aside from being surround by testosterone most of my life, I lived in Japan as a kid. I’ve never forgotten their stories, myths, and festivals. I love mythology. Warriors For Light was born out of this. I combined Greek, Roman, Norse, and Celtic myths, threw in some of the Bible, and turned it all upside down.

For The Turner Chronicles, I wondered what the world would be like if globalization were taken to the extreme. What if these mega corporations were run by “families” who controlled physical territories and the lives of those who lived under their thumbs? What if someone from a time when absolute freedom was valued dropped into that world? Would he survive, and if so, how and what impact would he have?


Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

LJ: The third book in the Warriors For Light series, Absolution, will be released in May and the fourth and fifth books Sophie’s Challenge and Kate’s Army will be out in late November or early December. Also, Warrior’s Rise got a terrific review from Bitten by Paranormal Romance. I’m hopeful it will be the first of many and that the reviews for Dragon Child and The Ultimate Game follow in the same vein.


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

LJ: My favorite authors, hmm. Let’s see, I love Nalini Singh, JR Ward, and Ilona Andrews. I’ve also discovered a new author and am nuts about her. KH LeMoyne. Like me, she writes out of the box, has subplots that run through the book and it seems through the series, and is an indie author.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

LJ: Write, take workshops on writing, get a critique partner but don’t let them change your voice, and write. Make sure you know grammar and punctuation. If don’t, learn it. Make sure you have the mechanics of writing down then set a schedule or quota for each day and write. If you write just one page a day, you will have a book at the end of the year. Also, don’t be afraid of failure or rejection. If you don’t follow your dream, you have already failed and rejected yourself.


What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

LJ: For me, it’s finding that first sentence of the scene. I know it sounds silly, but without that first sentence, I can find myself floundering. I usually call or email my critique partners and beg for a sentence. For some reason, just hearing it shoves my mind into gear and I’m off.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

LJ: Suck it up, be a professional. Yes, it’s your baby and its birth rivaled, maybe even was worse than childbirth labor, but not everyone will like it, any more than everyone likes you. It could be something as simple as the character’s name, over which you the author have no control. Or something you have complete control over, spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

I’m an indie author. To ensure my books don’t disappoint because of things under my control, I have an outsider editor I use and a fantastic graphic artist to create my covers.

If a reviewer attacks me as a person, then shame on them. If they complain about the plot, characters, or the mechanics, shame on me. In both cases, I wouldn’t respond. But if it were the second, I would take a hard look at the review and learn from it. Reviewers aren’t a writer’s enemy. They’re usually book lovers who want to be swept away by the story, and when it doesn’t happen because of spelling, grammar, punctuation, or story, they have every right to complain. When disappointed it isn’t the cost of a book people object to. It’s the time they spent reading it.

So, to all those new authors, I say again, be a professional and suck it up. If you don’t say anything and are lucky, you may have a number of good reviews that bury that negative one.


What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

LJ: While I love UNO’s pizza where it has olive oil on the crust, sliced tomatoes with spinach, broccoli, and cheese piled high on it, ice cream is my downfall. My favorite food is ice cream—rich, fatty, ice cream. I mean really, if you’re going to blow the diet, do it in style with something that has a ton of calories. (Me: Oh my gosh, that sounds AMAZING. I know what I'm getting next time I go to UNO's.)

--------------------------------------

If you're curious about LJ's books, you can purchase her books via Amazon, Smashwords, & other fine retailers!





For Fae-human half-breed Deva Morgan, life as she knows it changes on her thirtieth birthday. One moment she’s a barkeep, the next she is a warrior fated to save Earth from the Dark Lord and his demon hoard. Shunned by both her races, she faces a danger-filled quest with few allies. Too bad her powers haven’t fully emerged or stabilized.

For Deva it is life or death, on-the-job training with her companion, Padraig O’Neal, a Fae warrior with a shadowed past. Can he quiet the storm raging inside her, help her harness the growing power within her, and provide a barrier between Deva and a fatal outcome? Will their love be enough to save Deva and stop the Dark Lord’s demons from entering Earth?





A fire-breathing dragon, Moira O'Neal, was exchanged at birth for a Fae princess. Discovering the truth, she escapes the cage of the royal court and joins forces with the sexiest wereleopard on Earthworld. She fights the urge to mate and the trap that comes with it as they race against time to find the missing princess and a master of the black arts who covets her power.

Major Steve Taylor, a wereleopard in the Army For Light, partners with the impetuous Moira in the middle a dangerous mission where failure means all their deaths. Worse, his leopard decides Moira is his mate, leaving the man at war with his cat.



Bio: LJ DeLeon is an Army brat and a world-traveled former CIA Intelligence Analyst who has seen enough of this world to appreciate other worlds. Working for the CIA was great training for writing fantasy, paranormal, and futuristic romance—and understanding the warrior mentality. Amazing how real life and fiction overlap.

Visit LJ at her website and blog!

Check it Out: Chris Wimpress

Hi everyone! Here's your second dose of author goodness for the day!

Meet Chris Wimpress, author of Joe is Online. Luckily I remembered to get Chris a copy of the questions so I do have an interview for you today! (And we get an answer to the burning pizza questions. I do have to say, I've never wanted pizza as much as I have during these interviews!)


What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

I’ve been writing all my life, starting with short stories (which I’m rubbish at), then poems and then finally novels. Two novels were aborted when I was younger. This one took 3 years to finish.


What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?

Most of my inspiration seems to come from visiting places and traveling. I write about cities I love or which have a lot going on inside them. I try to find music which matches the mood and theme I’m trying to create and then listen to those tunes a lot. But then I always have to write in absolute silence.


How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

‘Joe is Online’ just came to me because it’s one of the most frequent statements in the book. It had a working title before that but it was just something I could name it as a file on my desktop. I only had my title about six months before completion.


Are any of the experiences in your book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Have you ever seen or done any of the things in your book? If not, how did you go about doing your research? Any funny stories you can share with us?

I’ve been to all the cities in the book, and plus all of the less urban areas as well. I’ve been on roadtrips around the UK and north America many times. I love open, empty roads. I did a lot of research on explosives, computer viruses and hacking. Given the laws we have in Britian these days to snoop on people, I sometimes expected my front door to be kicked in by the police.


Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

I’m going back to work as a journalist at the British Parliament. I’ve had three months off and I’ve missed it.


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

My favourite authors are Margaret Atwood, William Boyd, Iain M Banks, Alastair Gray and Thomas Pyncheon. I think all of them can be very funny. I love it when you find laugh-out-load humour in even the darkest of books.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

A friend of mine owns a restaurant, and she has a sign above her bar which reads ‘The chef accepts tips but not advice’. All I would say is be sure to back up your work, in duplicate and triplicate. If you can’t be disciplined about that, buy an Apple Time Capsule.



What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

Editing. I can’t edit my own work once I’ve finished it, so I have to edit as I go along. The idea that you could write a first draft then go back and edit it from the start is very strange to me.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

I wouldn’t recommend responding to any reviews at all.



What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

I LOVE pizza and my favourite combo is BBQ sauce (not tomato), ground beef, jalapenos and green peppers.


--------------------------------

Curious about Chris's book? You can check it out via amazon & smashwords!




In 1997 a 13 year-old boy with no friends called Joe went online.

He decided the offline world was too harsh be real. With the help of an internet psychic called Magda Magenta, Joe unleashes a series of co-ordinated attacks on the world, beginning online and spreading into the offline world. He develops an online cult populated by people who've also been let down badly by the real world.

Nobody can trace their source until a quiet, shy professor in terrorism called Penelope Hunt discovers a link to Joe. She finds herself sucked into a conspiracy which transcends race and religion. With only a radical tele-atheist to help her, Penny decides to shut down Joe's activities, placing her own life in grave danger in the process.

'Joe is Online' spans continents and decades. Its setting is at the boundary where the online and offline worlds meet.


-------------

Don't forget that there's still time to enter the giveaway!

Check It Out: Jazmyn Douillard

Hi guys! Today's the last day to enter to win one of the goodies I have up for grabs in this month's contest! I've got a ton of cool ebooks to give away as well as an Amazon giftcard!





Now for what you're really reading this post for: Jazmyn Douillard. Unfortunately I didn't get a copy of my questions to her, so again we'll have to guess at what type of toppings she likes. (I'm going to guess olives. Those are yummy.)






Kat wakes up from a nightmare she's had many times before to find a dead laptop with no memory of her thesis for her final grades.

If only she knew that possibly failing out of college was going to be the least of her worries for the day. If it isn't humans pushing her in front of cars, it's an ancient race of beings who are thirsty for her link to a woman who's been dead for over two hundred years.

Can Kat survive the day on her own, or is she going to have to accept help from an unusual man who seems to pop in and out of her life with conspicuous timing?

And if she doesn't survive, will she stay dead?

A full length supernatural adventure novel that will take you around the world!

Warning: Contains adult situations, course language and sexual content.




When Jaz isn't looking awesomely stylish, she's working as a graphic artist & polishing up her books. A quick peek through her etsy shop (which you totally have to check out here) shows that she's got an incredibly vibrant imagination & a wonderful set of esthetics. Jaz writes, sews, AND writes- she's a creative triple threat! She's also contributed to The One Million Masterpiece, a site that accepts art from all over the world in an attempt to get an end result that is truly global! (See her contribution here.)




If that doesn't make you want to check out her work then I'm not sure what will! If you're curious you can find Jazmyn's work on Amazon!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Book Review: The Banishing by Fiona Dodwell



Title: The Banishing
Author: Fiona Dodwell
Publisher: Damnation Books
Release Date: 02/27/2011
eISBN: 9781615723515







When Melissa first notices the change in her husband - subtle at first - she thinks it may be the stress of moving into their new home. Or working long hours. But soon he turns into something far darker, far more sinister. Who or what is the dark shadow living beneath her husband? What is haunting him? Melissa must quickly find the answer to these questions, because Mark is changing, and fast. Soon her fight will be for her life, as well as for her marriage.The Banishing is a dark, disturbing novel exploring the world of demonic possession, spiritual oppression and domestic abuse.



Intense.

If I had to sum this novel up in a word, that would be what I’d use. When I first read this book I wasn’t really aware of what I was getting myself into. I assumed that it was just another “woman against evil being” book similar to the ones that abound in the horror genre.

I have to admit, I was pretty impressed by this book. It does have a few flaws to it, such as character developments that happen a little too quickly, but overall I liked how fast paced the book was. It’s such a quick & addicting read that I found myself burning through the pages & finishing it within a matter of hours. I just couldn't stop reading!

Then I got to the ending, which I won’t elaborate on for obvious spoiler reasons. I wasn’t expecting it so when the big finale happened I was taken by surprise to say the least. I have to admit that I was sad to see this end- I really hope that Fiona writes a sequel somewhere down the line since this idea is too good for just one book.

This book gave me the shivers, which is a good thing. It's reminded me of what I used to really love about reading horror, which I hadn't felt in a while. This just creeped me out & that's a good thing. If you love mainstream horror then by all means, read the mainstream stuff- nothing wrong with that. But when you're ready for something good off the beaten path, read this book as well.

4 out of 5 stars

(Review copy provided by the author)

Check it Out: S.L. Pierce

Hi everyone! Enjoying your spring break? If you're looking for something to read or do while getting some sun or eating some delicious Easter candy (my personal favorite is Brach's marshmallow eggs), here's another author to check out: S.L. Pierce!




What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

I did not always want to write. In fact, I have a PhD in chemical engineering but once I started working, I found it to be boring. My “aha” moment was not exactly a moment. I kept reading J.A. Konrath's blog to my husband about self publishing and he said 'You should write a book'. I kind of laughed it off but the idea wouldn't leave my head. It took a few days to realize I really did want to be a writer (I've loved books as long as I can remember).



What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?


What inspires me is the idea of a strong female lead who doesn't get caught by the bad guy at the end. I try to avoid the killing and victimization of woman and instead focus on a strong woman and a clever mystery. So, I think of a character and build a story around her.




How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

It's so true! As a writer I struggle over the whole book for months then, when it's finally finished, that need for a title creeps up and the real work begins. The title is so important and you can't change it once it's published. That makes it hard. I don't bother trying to think of a good title until the book is done. While I'm writing, if a title pops into my head, I will jot it down. But I don't settle on one till I'm done. If none of the titles I've thought of during the writing of the book sounds good, I sit and try to jot down central ideas from the book until one of them sounds good.


Are any of your characters' experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Have you ever seen or done any of the things in your book? If not, how did you go about doing your research? Any funny stories you can share with us?

Nothing in my books are based on my own experiences or on people I know. I have taken bits and pieces of strong female characters from movies and TV as a starting point for some characters though. Thanks for the question. Now I can call sitting and watching movies research for my books.

Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?
It's not too juicy but I did put out a short story for free on Smashwords and on my website (piercebooks.com) as a way of introducing readers to my style of writing. It's called The Warning and it will remain free forever. Sorry I couldn't make it available anywhere else but Amazon and Barnes and Noble do not allow authors to post items for free. (You can find the free story by clicking here.)


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

My all time favorite author is Lee Child. I just love Jack Reacher (his character). I also really love Harlen Coben. But there are two authors who have inspired my writing. One, J.A. Konrath, because he has shown us indie authors that you can be successful in self publishing. The second is Stephanie Meyer because, no matter your opinion of her writing, she is someone who never wrote anything before but said I have a story to tell and then did it. That made me realize I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying.


What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

Oh, I find it so hard to do the character development. I can get the action, the mystery, and the plot pretty easy but getting the characters to be real to the reader is so hard. You should see the first draft of my book Secrets. It is so terrible. I just glossed over the people and wrote the action. I can't believe how bad it is, looking back.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

If the review is respectful then I would remind authors that not everyone is going to like your writing. I know for myself I have seen books out there that are incredibly popular that I wouldn't read if they were free. That's just a matter of personal taste. If the reviewer is being deliberately cruel, I think readers will see that and disregard the review. Either way just keep plugging away at what you love and it will all work out. (Me: Kick butt answer! This is an awesome way of putting it!)


What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

I only eat all meat pizza. None of those pesky veggies for me.


-----------------

Curious about S.L.'s books & want to check them out? There's several options for you to try. You can check out the free story she's generously offering through her website (click here) or you can purchase her ebooks on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, or Smashwords!

----------------------
Also, remember that you can still enter the giveaway for a free copy of several great ebooks or a free amazon giftcard!

Check it Out: The Job by Craig Davis

Hi guys! I've got two things to recommend to you today.

First up is The Job by Craig Davis. Unfortunately I wasn't able to get a copy of my questions to him (I forgot) so we'll have to guess at what pizza toppings he prefers. (I'm going to guess bacon. Just about everyone loves bacon!) There is however, a very excellent review on I am a Reader, Not a Writer, so please check him out there! (Click here for the link.)


Joe B. enjoys the sweet life as a vice president at a huge conglomerate, Universal Whirligig. But along with the Big Boss' favor, he has also gained the notice of a bitter human resources manager, Luci Fernandez. Hateful of any success but her own, Luci manages to get him demoted to the mail room! A rollicking comedy of errors follows as Joe B. tries to figure out what's happened to him, and attempts to get a meeting with the Big Boss.

Joe B.'s great expectations have taken a dickens of a twist. His family is forced to make a series of hard adjustments, and he gets only lame comforts from a string of the worst friends anyone could have. Will he finally track down the cause of his frustrations? Or will he only learn a lesson about what it is to be the boss, and that what is apparent is often only a shadow of a greater ongoing good? The Midwest Book Review calls The Job: Based on a True Story (I Mean, This is Bound to Have Happened Somewh
ere) "a humorous and enlightening read, highly recommended." The Job is a modern parable of ancient troubles and truths that will entertain and challenge the reader.



Craig Davis was born and bred in Memphis, TN, land of Elvis and pulled pork, although neither of them ever did him any good. After earning bachelor’s and graduate degrees at the University of Missouri, he toiled for 20 years at newspapers, and has spent a lifetime in biblical scholarship. An amateur musician, he was once wrestled to the ground by a set of bagpipes. He is the father of two grown daughters and owner of one dog who refuses to grow up.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Check it Out: Jennifer Chase

Hi everyone! Here's your second dose of author coolness for the day!


I'd like to introduce you to Jennifer Chase, award winning author of Silent Partner, Dead Game, & Compulsion. When she's not writing up a storm, she helps others do the same! With a background in criminology, Jennifer has an insider's view to crime that not everyone can have.

Jennifer has agreed to answer a few questions I lobbed her way, so get ready for some pretty cool answers! (Yes, I asked the pizza question. I'm so hard hitting.)


What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

I’ve loved books and reading ever since I was a young child. Writing was a great form of expression for me when I was young. It just stuck with me. As an adult, I went into another career, but writing was always in the back of my mind. In 2008, I felt that the timing was right and I wrote my first fiction/thriller Compulsion. It was actually my “aha” moment and I haven’t looked back.




What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?

Everything around us inspires me. I could see a vacant house, a heavily wooded area, or a long stretch of beach and I think about my writing projects or specific scenes. There are so many things for my imagination to draw upon and incorporate into a story.



How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

The best titles just pop into my head without any struggle. As I’m creating an outline and then writing a story, I keep a notebook and write everything down that pertains to my title. Some are terrible and others more accurate. I don’t pressure myself to get a title immediately, I let it simmer in the background and the right title floats to the surface.


Are any of the experiences in your books based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Have you ever seen or done any of the things in your book? If not, how did you go about doing your research?

My character’s experiences are based on a combination of my imagination, events and problems facing the world with crime and forensics, and my way of coping with them. I love to do research. I try to conduct research from a variety of different resources, such as the Internet, professionals, libraries, and talk to everyone I can about a certain subject. For my latest crime/fiction novel Silent Partner, it’s about a police K9 officer chasing a serial killer. I actually spent time training with the local K9 and learned first hand what it was like.


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

There are so many great authors out there. Here are a few of my favorites, Dean Koontz, Jeffrey Deaver, Lee Child, Tess Gerritsen, and David Baldacci. Reading all types of books and genres helps to inspire my writing abilities. I believe that you learn so much from reading as well as from every book you write.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

Write what YOU want to write. Write was interests you the most and not what you think you should be writing or what someone else tells you. Stay focused and above all, write everyday.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

There are some writing days when it’s difficult to stay motivated and that pesky procrastination creeps up. I’ve learned to not be too hard on myself and try to refocus my writing energy in a positive way.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

It’s human nature that we ALL don’t see things in the same way. What a boring world it would be if we did? I admit, I don’t like negative reviews, but if the review is intelligent and constructive, there’s something to be learned from it whether you agree with it or not. However, there are some individuals out there that just write out mean comments. You have to learn to not fixate on these types of reviews and not worry about it.

What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

I love pizza! I like a soft, thick crust with pepperoni and extra mushrooms.

About the author:
Jennifer Chase holds a bachelor's degree in police forensics and a master's degree in criminology. Her intense curiosity in the psychological aspect of crime is what drives her to write crime fiction/. She is the author of Compulsion, Dead Game, and Silent Partner. She lives in California, where she's currently at work on her next book in the series.


-------------------------



Curious to read more of Jennifer's work? Then check out her latest book Silent Partner, available through Amazon (in both paperback & kindle formats) & Barnes & Nobles! If you're wanting to read all of her works, you can find them easily on Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, as well as a selection of them on Smashwords.

---------------

Also, don't forget that there's still time to enter in my giveaway hop for a chance to win an amazon giftcard or one of several great ebooks!



Check it Out: Alexander O'Hara (AKA Darragh McManus)

Hi everyone! Today you get another double dose of authors to look out for!


The first one today is someone that most of us in the states probably aren't familiar with, but readers of the Guardian might just recognize: Darragh McManus. For those of you who are familiar with the author, you have to check out his new book Cold! Steel! Justice!!, a spoof on 80s cop movie cliches. Who amongst us haven't watched one of these films? (If you haven't, please post a comment so I can tell you why you need to rent Die Hard, my favorite cop movie ever.)

Darragh was kind enough to allow himself to be subjected to my usual round of questioning, so here we go!



What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

I think I always wanted to write, for sure. I always did write, as a kid: stories ripped off from comics and TV, half-formed things that I never finished. All through school and college, my friends and family always told me, ‘You have to be a writer, you’ll definitely be a writer.’ (I think it was the Oscar Wilde hair.) And I assumed, yes, I will one day be a writer. Oddly, though, I didn’t start on my first proper book until I was 28. I’d been working in journalism for several years by then and had churned out a spoof film script, but as for ‘real’ writing…I sort of never bothered until then. Or maybe wasn’t ready. Anyway, I haven’t stopped since. Three novels (besides this one), one collection of short stories, three film scripts, two plays, two finished (and published) non-fiction books, two half-finished non-fiction books, various other bits and pieces… My fingers are getting tired!

What inspires you? Do you have a muse or do you get inspired by random things?

All sorts of things, often random things. I like to write in different genres and forms, so really inspiration can come from anywhere. For example, I wrote a noir-style mystery with (he said modestly) a genius twist, because I wanted to create a bunch of interesting characters for women only. I wrote a vigilante thriller out of some sense of feminist anger at how my fellow men often shamefully behave. I wrote a collection of stories on a theme of movement because it’s the one trait that defines everything in the universe, but has been neglected in literature. And as for Cold! Steel! Justice!!!…I wrote that to have fun at the expense of bad 1980s cop movies, and also just to have fun.


How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

Titles can come from anywhere, though usually a song title or lyric for some reason. As to when, it depends, although generally something will strike me quite early on and I’ll get to like it and stick to it. Can’t remember ever changing a title, except Cold! Steel! Justice!!!, which started life as The Nutcracker (don’t ask). The new title is a pastiche on the dumbest, crassest action movie title you could possibly think of. Others include – There is a light and it never goes out: that’s from a song by The Smiths, and I felt it suited the melancholy but not defeatist tone of the novel; The Driving Force: a technical term from physics – again, suited the story collection thematically; Even Flow: a Pearl Jam song, and my vigilantes are inspired by grunge to a large extent, so…perfect fit! GAA Confidential: a pun on LA Confidential, for a fun non-fiction book on GAA (Irish sports and culture).


Are any of the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Have you ever seen any of the stuff in your book firsthand? As a journalist you must have seen quite a few things in your lifetime.

In this one, no: it’s pure fiction (it’s also absurd and exaggerated and ridiculous, so again, no!). Apart from that, I think every writer takes from their own experience to some extent, unless they solely work in fantasy/horror/sci-fi etc. And even then, probably something filters through without them knowing it. My first novel, for instance, was very much autobiographical: I changed names and many of the characters are amalgams of people I know, not their direct representation, but the narrator is basically me. A quite altered me in some ways, but still me.


Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

Yes, actually I do! First, I have a new e-book on Amazon and Smashwords: Terminating Hollywood (the funny side of film). It’s a collection of humorous pieces on movies, and the first in a collection of six, called the Popp’d Off series: a sarcastic, satirical savaging of the freaks, geeks, strange beasts and wild antics of pop culture. It’s silly, funny, clever and dumb, all at once! And has a killer cover, which will be familiar to anyone who loves Terminator. Tag-line: ‘Prepare to say “ha-ha-hasta la vista, baby”!’ Links here: (Amazon.com) and (Smashwords.com) In other writing, I’m currently sending out a pitch letter to theatre companies for a play I’m working on with a very talented Canadian director; I’m also working on a few quite avant-garde projects (early days) with a young filmmaker, and have a sitcom pilot with a London production company. Fingers, toes and all other digits crossed. (Me: Break a leg or whatever words of luck I can say without it jinxing you!)


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

Don DeLillo, Margaret Atwood, George Orwell, Graham Greene, Italo Calvino…too many to mention! Generally I prefer older books/authors, but that’s just personal taste, no reflection on today’s writers. They have inspired me, yes, but not really given me specific ideas. (Those I usually get from the back of the cornflakes packet.)


Do you have any advice for new writers?

I don’t know, I suppose it’s a cliché but it’s true: writing is just 1% talent and 99% work. But that doesn’t mean it’s not enjoyable – once you get into it, the work becomes its own reward. Other than that, I’d say: try and develop your own voice. Which you do by writing and writing and then writing some more and then more and more again, until finally you write something pretty good. And best of all, that something is authentically ‘you’.


What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

Not being published as much as I’d like! And battling for notice. Genuinely, that’s the worst thing. Having to spend as much time on selling the work as actually writing it. I enjoy the act of writing, even when it’s a struggle – it’s a good feeling, to wrestle with your own talents and limitations and try to exceed them. But the whole business side of it…ugh. (This Q&A excepted, of course!) (Me: Why thank you! Flattery will get you everywhere! *blushes*)


How would you respond to criticism?

Usually take it as someone’s genuine opinion, which I may not agree with but try to respect. I review a lot of books myself as a journalist and I know the critic has an obligation to be honest. Fair, but honest. You can’t lie just to save someone’s feelings.


What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

Mushrooms! The king of all foods. Honestly, I could live on those things.

---------------


IN PARADISE CITY, ALL HELL IS ABOUT TO BREAK LOOSE...

Renegade ex-cop Christian Beretta was kicked off the Dice City Police Force for being "just too damn violent". Now he's BACK - and teaming up with his old partner/sidekick, the gnarly-but-kindly Chief of Police and his feisty ex-girlfriend (who's resurrected from the dead) for the toughest mission of his life. An evil Irish-born Mayor aims to take over the illegal drug trade and execute criminals on live TV - and only Beretta can stop him...

Cold! Steel! Justice!!! is a tour de force of action, comedy, comic-action, action-comedy, and a whole load of nonsense. Like all the great straight-to-video cop movies you remember from the 1980s, it's packed with suspense, violence, incident, smart quips, daring deeds, racial stereotypes, gratuitous nudity, men wearing bandanas in flagrant contravention of all rules of taste, and at least one scene where a Mexican druglord is incinerated in his own car. As convention dictates.

The renegade but good-hearted Beretta causes mayhem, busts things up, does cool things with big goddamn guns, cracks wise, breaks all the rules, gets the girl and saves the day.

In a world of pain, he's the Novocaine...if Novocaine wore a sexy leather overcoat, smoked 40 filterless a day and carried a hand-cannon so goddamn enormous it makes other hand-cannons wet their underpants.

So stand in line for YOUR fill...of Cold! Steel! Justice!!!


Curious about Darragh's book? You can pick it up right now on Amazon & Smashwords!! I have to admit, it looks to be a pretty awesome read!

-------------------------

Also, don't forget that you still have time to enter the giveaway hop I'm holding. It'll be running until the 25th, so check it out at this link here.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Check it Out: Patricia Lichen










Hi everyone! Since today's Earth Day I have a very special author to showcase for you today! I'm very privileged to introduce to you Patricia Lichen, a woman who has done more in one life than others have done in several! Not only is she an author, but she’s also an animal rights activist who has willingly put herself in harm’s way in order to protect those who cannot protect themselves! All in all, a pretty awesome lady & a perfect interview for today!









You’ve got quite an exciting past! What drove you (other than a love for the world) to be willing to take on these adventures?





I have yet to come up with a satisfactory answer to this question! Of course, once I was in Greenpeace, I met plenty of people who were ready to take action on behalf of the environment. But I had to leave Ohio and drive 2, 500 miles to San Francisco, a city I’d never been to, to join that organization. It may have had something to do with what was going on in the world when I was growing up. People were taking to the streets to protest the Viet Nam war and to claim their civil rights. It was obvious that one person--or a group of people--could change the world. I’d watched it happen.






What was it like, being an eco-activist in those situations? Were there any moments where you second guessed yourself or got scared? (I know some of the things you’ve been through would have my knees knocking!)


There were some scary moments. Probably the worst was when our lawyer explained that we were facing a minimum 25-year sentence for piracy (rather than the much-less serious infraction of trespassing) for boarding a Peruvian whaling boat and chaining ourselves to the harpoon gun so they couldn’t kill whales. Ultimately our lawyer got the charges dropped, against our wishes--we wanted our day in court. I was initially angry (as well as relieved!) but I now feel immense gratitude toward that lawyer.





When did you decide to start writing? Did you always write or was there a moment where you saw everything & knew that you wanted to become an author?



I came to writing relatively late, after I’d returned to college. I see my writing as a way to extend my activist and naturalist roles.




Have you used any real life events or people in your novel? Obviously you haven’t kidnapped anyone (that we know of, lol) but are there any parts to your novel that mirror real life?




Yes, one of the characters in “Kidnapping the Lorax” physically resembles someone I’d known in Greenpeace. I’m working on other books that attempt to portray some of the fascinating characters I met in that organization. Specifically, I’d like to replicate at least a bit of the amazing Dexter Cate and infuriating David McTaggart, but am not sure I will ever be able to capture either of them.





Do you have any authors that have helped inspire you?


When I was a teenager, I’d happened across a book with the intriguing title of “The Monkey Wrench Gang” in my small-town Ohio library. After I joined Greenpeace, I was surprised that others in that organization had read what I thought was an obscure book by a guy named Ed Abbey. Then there’s Barbara Kingsolver, Rachel Carson, Diane Ackerman, John McPhee, Farley Mowat, Diana Kappel-Smith, Glendon Swarthout....





Do you have anything new or cool to tell us?


Blogging. Okay, that’s neither new or cool, but I’ve just recently been getting into reading nature and natural history blogs. Check out Murrmurs, The New Dharma Bums or The Morning Porch. While you’re at it, come visit me at www.patriciaklichen.com.



Since not everyone can do everything that you’ve done, what can average joes & janes like me do to help out?


The small, deliberate actions we take make an impact. So do whatever it is that you can do: use your own bags at the grocery store; recycle; turn off the light when you leave the room; fix that dripping faucet; unplug your charger when the cell’s juiced up; try to eat local. Please, please don’t justify doing nothing because you don’t think you can do enough. And for gawd’s sake, get out and enjoy the natural world--hike, garden, photograph, backpack, paddle, bike, ski, snowshoe, camp--pay attention and connect. Discover what’s out there before they build another mall or parking lot on top of it.




What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them. Was writing a fictional novel harder or easier than writing your nature guides?


The Uncommon Field Guides were easier--once I got the first line, I had a foundation to build on. But fiction! Before I tried writing fiction, it seemed to me that you’d have a story in mind and write it, A to Z. But it’s more like setting off from port and then realizing you can steer the boat on any course--the direction is not as linear as it’d seemed it would be.







How would you recommend people respond to naysayers? You’ve obviously come across opposition from the whalers & others, so I’m sure you could probably give us a few tips on how to deal with them.




I do believe most people are goodhearted and have similar values. The whalers don’t want to drive the whales to extinction, and the loggers don’t want to destroy the forests, and the nuclear workers don’t want radiation to contaminate the earth for eons to come. Sometimes I think we have more in common than we hold as differences, and when you meet individuals whose views you oppose, you can sometimes find that common ground. But when money comes into the picture--as livelihood, as company profit--that common ground shifts. Look, there will always be naysayers. And apologists. And outright liars. Your only defense: be truthful; don’t be one of them.






Is Lichen your original last name or did you choose it? Either way, it’s entirely appropriate!




Lichen was a chosen married name; the marriage has since ended, but I kept the name. It’s an interesting experience to choose your name--what would you name yourself if you could choose? (And you can choose, if you want to!) I wish our society encouraged people to take names that said something about themselves, rather than just revealing what their fathers’ fathers were named (as if we were not equally the children of our mothers--as if as if our mothers’ names didn’t count as “real.” Yeah, don’t get me started.)






What do you like on your pizza? If you don’t like pizza, then what’s your favorite guilty pleasure food? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping or food!)




My current favorite is a take-and-bake with artichokes, bacon, chicken and spinach on thin crust. And now that you’ve got me thinking about it, I know what I want for dinner tonight...








KIDNAPPING THE LORAX is the story of three young environmentalists who kidnap the Secretary of the Interior and take her to the Pacific Northwest woods to reeducate her, in the belief that once she sees the forests as they do, she will start making the correct decisions for the land. But will all go as planned?



If you're curious about Patricia's book, then you're in luck! The publisher has dropped the price of Kidnapping the Lorax to 99 cents in honor of Earth Day! It'll remain at this price for the next few days but will eventually go back to the original price of $4.99, so make sure to take advantage of this special price while you can!

You can purchase this ebook for the kindle, nook, or in the format of your choice on smashwords!

Also make sure to visit Patricia's website at www.patriciaklichen.com!

-----------------


Want more cool books? Make sure to enter the Easter giveaway hop!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Check it Out: Tim Marquiz

Hi everyone! I'm here to give you lucky readers your second dose of authors to check out for the day!


In this post I'm happy to introduce you (or re-introduce you, as the case may be) to Tim Marquitz, author of Skulls. Tim has a pretty interesting past. Not only has he worked as a grave digger, but he's also been LARPing since he was 15! (Live action role playing, if you're not familiar. It's the ultimate in RPGing.)

Tim has agreed to answer my round of questions, so here we go!









What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

TM: I’ve always loved to write, but I don’t think I knew what I wanted to be until just recently. A buddy showed me a novel he’d written and it sparked something in me that made me want to try my hand at it. As I learned more about the process it just made me more interested.


What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?

TM: I’ve always been inspired by the darker side of life. Since I was young, I’ve listened to heavy metal and watched horror movies, and that’s stuck with me. As I grew older, I sought out darker themes and have experienced aspects in life that have fed into my writing.

As for a muse, I don’t really have one. I have all these ideas spinning around inside my head and whichever one screams the loudest, comes through the clearest is the one I go with. I’m actually pretty reactive when it comes to the world around me so I try to avoid letting that seep into my work too much.


How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

TM: Titles are the worst for me. Most times, I have a title in mind before I even have a story. Those books end up being the easiest to write because I have a better connection to the idea. If I don’t have a title early, I struggle, both in the writing and the naming.


Are any of the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Obviously the more fantastical aspects come from your imagination, but have you ever drawn on anything that you’ve seen or done (or anyone you’ve known) in real life & used it in part of your story?

TM: I draw from my life a lot, but it’s like looking at my experiences through a distorted mirror; nothing is quite the way it really is. For me, my writing has to be grounded in reality, in my life, to create a strong story. If I can’t relate to the characters, can’t know some small part of what they’re supposed to be feeling, I can’t write them as fully as they need to be.

In some instances, I’ve taken pieces of people I know and made characters from that template. With others, people that have inspired me in some way are included in my stories.


Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

TM: Certainly. My latest book, a young adult horror story entitled Skulls, was released April 1, by Damnation Books. Also, the second book in my dark/urban fantasy series Demon Squad comes out June 1, 2011, also from Damnation Books.

You can check out the amazing covers by Jessy Lucero, and get more information on my books at my web site: http:www.tmarquitz.com


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

TM: First and foremost, Clive Barker. While there are more obvious influences, such as Jim Butcher and Stephen King, Clive’s level of ability is the goal I’m reaching for every day. I want to write my own, Great and Secret Show or Imagica. I certainly don’t want to imitate Clive, but I would love for my prose to flow as smoothly as his, as brilliantly. (Reviewer's note: Clive Barker is the awesomeness! Now if only I could move time forward so I can read the newest Abarat!)


Do you have any advice for new writers?

TM: Sure. Stick to it and don’t get discouraged. Writing is a hard business to get into, especially if you’re looking to be published beyond the vanity, small indie, or self-pub route. You’re going to get rejected a ton, even when it’s clear to the blindest monkey on the street that your work is better than some of what’s being signed to million dollar deals.

Perseverance is the key. Practice, practice, practice, until your fingers bleed, and don’t let anyone take your dream away.


What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

TM: For me, it’s making the next book even better than the last. I set a standard with each story I write, but it’s never good enough. I need my next story to be darker, grander, better written, better plotted, simply better at everything.

I’m pretty comfortable with my story writing and confident in my ideas at this point, so for me it’s all about stretching my abilities to the next level.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

TM: Ignore them publicly, and take what you can from them privately. With writing, you’re putting yourself out there and risking ridicule each and every time. It’s part of the deal. There’s always going to be someone who hates what you’ve written, but you can’t take it to heart. You can’t please everyone so don’t try. Write your stories to the best of your ability; that’s a writer’s only job.


What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

TM: This is a tough one, because I’m easy. I’d probably say jalapenos, being the southwest. ☺ A little bit of spice makes the pizza taste much better.


---------------------------------

I don't know about you guys, but I'm having a blast posting all of this for you! If you guys are curious about Tim's work then make sure to enter the ebook giveaway for a free ebook copy of Skulls! The giveaway ends on the 25th, so make sure to enter!

If you can't wait that long or you're curious about Tim's work, you can buy these books via amazon, Barnes & Nobles, as well as through Damnation Book's website & any other major book retailer! You can also keep up to date on Tim's work via his website as well as through twitter!

Check it Out: Hayden Duvall

Hi everyone! Today you're lucky in that you get a double dose of awesome authors to check out!


First off is Hayden Duvall, author of the novel 665. Not only is he an author but he's also an accomplished artist that made his own (incredibly cool) book cover! (Click here to see his other works.) Hayden was kind enough to take the time to answer some of my questions so you can get to know both him & his book a little better.







(Seriously, isn't that an awesome cover?)

What made you decide to write? Did you always know that you wanted to be an author or was there an “aha!” moment in your life where you suddenly knew that this was what you wanted to do?

When I was ten, I wrote a massive, rambling work of imaginative fiction in Mrs. Corkhill’s class that was so epic in its wordage; it blew the minds of all my friends. It was drivel of the highest order, but the feeling of creative expression I got from writing it opened my mind to the exciting possibilities of being a story-teller.


What inspires you? Do you have a muse that you tap into each time you write or does your imagination respond to different things, like seeing an apple & suddenly deciding to write a story about an apple farmer?

Like most people, my inspiration comes from all kinds of directions. The first time I wrote anything that I genuinely thought was good, I was fueled by a dark wave of teenage angst and self-pity. More recently I have found that I am compelled to rail against convention, and so I try and avoid cliché like the plague. Fantasy, as a genre, is partially blighted (some would say crippled) by a lack of imagination and innovation, which is all the more disappointing when you consider that by definition, fantasy can be anything. Right now, you can’t even walk past a bookstore without being trapped under an avalanche of paranormal romance and vamp-lit.

(Reviewer's note: I've a whole corner of my room filled with stereotypical PNR & vamp lit, so I completely agree with this. I keep expecting my book shelves to come alive & try to either eat me or drive a stake into my chest in an attempt to keep me from buying more of these types of books.)


How do you come up with the titles for your books? These can often be amongst the hardest things for authors to settle on, so how & when in the process do you start coming up with titles?

In the case of 665, I started with the title, and went from there. 666, as a number, has a hefty symbolic presence in much of the world, and I wondered what something that was one short of the “number of the beast” could mean.


Are any of the experiences in the book based on someone you know, or events in your own life? Obviously the more fantastical aspects come from your imagination, but have you ever drawn on anything that you’ve seen or done (or anyone you’ve known) in real life & used it in part of your story?

It’s probably impossible to eliminate yourself from your work completely, but in my case, the only thing I am conscious of drawing from directly, is the time I spent smuggling guns from the former Soviet Union. Actually, I made that up as well.


Do you have any latest news I can dish for you?

Not at the moment.


Who are some of your favorite authors? Have they helped inspire your writing by reaffirming your decision to write or by indirectly giving you ideas for various stories?

My two favourite authors are Roald Dahl and Alan Moore. Both are fiercely creative and imaginative, but Dahl would probably not have objected to me saying that his work generally contained more whimsy and less disembowelment than Moore’s. That being said, both of these writers often ground their stories in a largely familiar setting before adding the fantastic, which is also the way that I like to work.


Do you have any advice for new writers?

I am a new writer, and so I wouldn’t presume to give anyone advice. I do have a request though: please stop with the vampires.


What is the hardest thing about writing for you? Everyone’s got that one part of writing that seems to stick with them.

The hardest part of writing for me is overcoming the fuzzy, intangible wall that drops every now and again, temporarily making it hard for me to be productive. I know that this is a very vague concept, but sometimes writing a paragraph is more difficult than beating back a cohort of ninjas with nothing more than a small pot of low-fat yoghurt. In times like this, absolutely everything else seems more appealing, and all you can do is tough it out until normal service is resumed.


In the light of recent infamous responses to negative reviews, how would you recommend responding to negative reviewers?

As far as I am aware, Smashwords will soon be offering an assassination service, and I know for a fact that Konrath has had at least five reviewers kidnapped, and dropped onto a tiny island off the coast of Ecuador. We all deal with rejection in our own way.


What do you like on your pizza? (Not book related but everyone’s got a favorite topping!)

I am not a vegetarian, but perversely, my favourite pizza is a vegetarian one (specifically with mushrooms, black olives and green pepper.)


------------------

Curious to read 665? You can buy an ebook copy of this on Smashwords & Amazon for the insanely low price of $2.99. Smashwords has a preview of the novel which I admit is pretty intriguing.


And don't forget to enter in my easter blog contest! We're giving out quite a few good books as well as an amazon gift certificate!