Saturday, June 30, 2012

Interview: R. J. Sullivan



  R. J. Sullivan's first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller released by Damnation Books about punk girl loner Fiona "Blue" Shaefer and her boyfriend Chip Farren. His forthcoming novella, Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton story, is due out this summer by Seventh Star Press.
   R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona's story, Virtual Blue, coming from Seventh Star Press in 2013. R.J. resides with his family in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He is a member of the Indiana Horror Writers.



Favorite reads?
Classic science fiction: Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, David Gerrold, etc.; Spider-Man comics; more recently, I've been drawn to a guilty pleasure of what I would call SF Chick military novels, of the sort where we follow a woman starship commander or space-marine blasting bug-eyed monsters with giant guns while dragging their whimpering boyfriends behind them. Elizabeth Moon and Tonya Huff are two of my favorites who write this sort of thing.


Inspirations for Backstage Pass?
As the story begins, we are introduced to an obsessed fan who is part of a devoted clique that still follows an 80s pop star all over the country still performing decades after her days of fame. I was inspired by my real-life experiences as an obsessed fan who is part of a devoted clique that still follows an 80s pop star all over the country still performing decades after her days of fame.


Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
I was the tallest kid in kindergarten, so I wasn't little for very long. But yes, I was telling stories at an early age and knew I wanted to be a writer. I used to write superhero stories in a notebook as a kid. My best friend and I collaborated on our own sci-fi epic in middle school—a mash-up of Star Wars, Flash Gordon, Star Trek, Battle Beyond the Stars, and whatever else we could throw into the pot and mix in, but it was a start. Later, my friend went on to work as a programmer on the videogame Wing Commander III, which was living the dream!


Any Pet Peeves?
We live in a world of cyberspace where we have more tools at our command than ever before. So it boggles my mind that people will post a remedial question like "Who is Paul McCartney" or "What was the Spirit of St. Louis" out there for the world to see rather than opening a window to the internet and researching the answer. It's not what people don't know that's the truly shocking part, it's that their content to share their ignorance rather than take pride in finding the answer that I find eye-rolling.


Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Get your nasty peanut butter out of my awesome chocolate.


The weirdest thing you've ever done?
I hope it will be my upcoming author photo for Haunting Obsession.


Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I have a favorite album I draft to, which has been unchanged for years, Til Tuesday's Everything's Different Now from the early 90s, just before Aimee Mann went solo. (No, Aimee Mann is not the real-life inspiration for Backstage Pass, but that's not too far off). It's pleasant pop rock with intense lyrics but sung in a way that it doesn’t break in on your train of thought. On the other hand, when you actively stop to listen, you'll tend to catch a pretty meaty lyric.


Do you need anything to write?
Morning coffee, preferably in my Little Mermaid mug. I enjoy writing to music if I'm rough-draft composing, and yeah, I need to hit on the chocolate every now and again.


How long do you write on any average day?
5-8 hours a day, which is deceitful, as I am a self-employed business writer and journalist as well as a novelist. I work on my fiction, depending on workload, 10-20 hours a week.


Give us the number one reason to read your books.
When I'm writing fiction, I'm playing and I'm goofing off, but no matter how outlandish the concept, I also treat it seriously and I think my readers do, too. Take the upcoming short story "Robot Vampire." If that title intrigues you and you want to experience how such an absurd concept can play dramatically and without a hint of irony, then I'm your author.


Author Info:
You can find me at www.rjsullivanfiction.com where you can subscribe to my Facebook, blog, and newsletter. I don't tweet...yet.


   Punk, blue-haired "Blue" Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd "Chip" Farren.Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who'll stop at nothing--even murder--to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.Haunting Blue will excite readers who enjoy contemporary ghost stories featuring a hard-edged, sassy teenage heroine. Those who enjoyed Buffy the Vampire Slayer will love Haunting Blue.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Lloyd Poast

   Lloyd Poast is a former staff writer for Consequence of Sound and Hockey Future, as well as the author of several short stories that have appeared both online and in print. Blink is his first novelette.  He lives in Canada with his wife and two young boys.



Favorite reads?
 I love pretty much anything by Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury. I also like Heart Shaped Box by Dan Hill and Summer of Night by Dan Simmons. I actually just finished Vince Neil’s biography and am now reading The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll and they’re both great.


Inspirations for the book?
Blink was originally going to be a horror story that combined a few of my child hood fears and nightmares. I remember my childhood as this magical time where anything could happen and sometimes my brother, sister, and I would end up scaring ourselves, especially when we got together with our cousins (we loved to go ghost hunting). I had a lot of crazy dreams back then and one of the most memorable was a very vivid and frightening encounter with a man in a suit and top hat. When I finally saw his face, it was that of a cat. The first few drafts of Blink actually had him as the villain. His name was Raylan and he never talked in the story. The only thing anyone heard from him was the scream, which also had a more pronounced role in the original draft. Over time, the story just seemed to transform from a horror story into a more lighthearted fantasy and I eventually replaced Raylan with the more charismatic, Amaisia Moon.


Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little? 
Not really. I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved with something creative, but I went through a rock star and acting phase when I was younger before realizing I didn’t have anywhere near enough talent for either one. I started writing about five years ago after taking a creative writing course and it seems to be my artistic calling.


Any Pet Peeves?
Bad drivers and rude people.


Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Definitely chocolate, but they’re irresistible together.


The weirdest thing you've ever done?
I’m pretty reserved and usually don’t do anything too wild and crazy. I can’t think of anything too weird to mention, but I’m sure my friends would think of something.


Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
For some reason, the song I hear when I think of Blink is Skyway by The Replacements, even though the lyrics don’t suit the story at all. I love bands like the Pixies, Social Distortion, and the hair-metal bands from the eighties such as Motley Crue and Ratt.


Do you need anything to write?
Sometimes I’ll have music playing, or if I get writer’s block, I’ll take a break and read something, but that’s about it.


How long do you write on any average day?
I usually write in spurts. Some days I’ll write for three or four hours and then not write again for a couple of weeks. I get distracted pretty easily, unfortunately, so I have a hard time getting on a roll. My average is probably about an hour, though.


Give us the number one reason to read your book.
I think it’s pretty unique and everyone that reads itsays it’s very imaginative.

   A teenage boy wanders into a mystical forest ruled by a gypsy goddess named Amaisia Moon.
   The forest changes with every blink or head turn and he discovers an ocean where dreams and nightmares literally come alive.



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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: John A. Heldt

   John A. Heldt is a reference librarian who lives and works in Montana. The former award-winning sportswriter and newspaper editor has loved reading and writing since writing book reports on baseball heroes in grade school. A graduate of both the University of Oregon and University of Iowa, he is and avid fisherman, sports fan, home brewer, and reader of thrillers and historical fiction. He is married to his college sweetheart and has three beautiful children. THE MINE is his first novel.

Favorite reads?
My favorite authors are Vince Flynn, Ken Follett, Nelson DeMille, and James Patterson, but I aso enjoy the works of Daniel Silva and Alex Berenson.

Inspirations for the book?
More than a dozen movies, books, and short stories inspired THE MINE, including "Back to the Future," "The Time Traveler's Wife," "A Walk in the Clouds," "Time and Again," and "A Sound of Thunder."

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
A writer, yes. An author? That cam a little later. Writing a novel, however, has always been on my bucket list.

Any Pet Peeves?
There are still many formidable obstacles facing new authors. The recent movement toward ebooks and the mainstreaming of indie literature are breaking down some, and I think that's a good thing.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Chocolate.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
Allowing my preschool-aged daughters to put barrettes in my hair on my 35th birthday. They had thrown me a tea party, with miniature teacups and plates, and afterwards insisted on beautifying daddy. It wasn't pretty.

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
I listened to a lot of 1940s music while writing the book, particularly hits by the Glenn Miller and Tommy Dorse bands. One of the Miller songs, "Chattanooga Choo Choo," is performed in a fabulous film clip for the 1941 movie "Sun Valley Serenade." I encourage any fan of music from that era to look it up online. The music helped me mentally prepare for writing about the era.

Do you need anything to write?
There is no substitute for a spacious table and peace and quiet.

How long do you write on any average day?
Two to three pages.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
There is something for everyone in THE MINE: adventure, time travel, humor, history, and romance. My primary goal when writing the book was to entertain. Not to preach or even educate, but to write a story that people of all ages could enjoy. My protagonist, a college student named Joel Smith is an everyman who stumbles, laughs, cries, and falls in love as he navigates his way through the very difficult year of 1941. He confronts choices and challenges that will prompt readers to think.

Author Info:
Blog- John Heldt
Goodreads-John A. Heldt

   In 2000, Joel Smith is a cocky, adventurous young man who sees the world as his playground. But when the college senior, days from graduation, enters an abandoned Montana mine, he discovers the price of reckless curiosity. He emerges in May 1941 with a cell phone he can't use, money he can't spend, and little but his wits to guide his way. Stuck in the age of Whirlaway, swing dancing, and a peacetime draft, Joel begins a new life as the nation drifts toward war. With the help of his 21-year-old trailblazing grandmother and her friends, he finds his place in a world he knew only from movies and books. But when an opportunity comes to return to the present, Joel must decide whether to leave his new love in the past or choose a course that will alter their lives forever. THE MINE follows a humbled man through a critical time in history as he adjusts to new surroundings and wrestles with the knowledge of things to come.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Kenechi Udogu

   Kenechi lives in London and enjoys writing fantasy fiction and short stories (some of which she posts on her blog). She also hates the cold and hopes to one day figure out how to hibernate in winter. Her young adult novels The Other Slipper, The Altercation of Vira and The Summer of Brian are available now as e-books.

Favorite reads?
I am a huge fan of fantasy, romance and comedic fiction. I also like a good horror story every now and then to shock all that gooeyness out of my system.  

Inspirations for the books?
For The Other Slipper I misread a cafĂ© sign that said “The Other Side” and by the time I realised my mistake, I had built up an idea about Cinderella’s other slipper. Just goes to show that inspiration can be triggered by anything. The ideas for the other books came to me in more subtle ways than that though.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
I started writing short stories when I was in primary school and I never really stopped, even when real life intervened. A lot of things have changed in my life but my love of the written word has always remained strong.

Any Pet Peeves?
Long queues – at the supermarket, the airport, the post office, ticket machines. Urgh! Enough said.  

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Peanut butter for sure. I am not excited about chocolate in any way.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?
Hmmm, that’s a difficult one to answer. I do “weird” stuff all the time but nothing scandalously bizarre so not sure what to choose from. I accidentally had my hair dyed green. Does that count?

Is there a soundtrack to the book?
The books were not written with a soundtrack in mind but I can picture my characters journeying to Ould or running around in Vira with ethereal music playing in the background. I’d love to throw in some Alternative Rock in there but not sure where that would fit in.   

Do you need anything to write? 
Not really. I can write anywhere and anytime if I set my mind to it, The Other Slipper was part-written on my bus commute to work.

How long do you write on any average day?
It depends on the day and on my mood. I try to average between 300 and 500 words a day but I also have a job as an Architect so on some days I’m too exhausted to write. If I’m on a roll, I can get over 1000 words down.

Give us the number one reason to read your books.
The stories are fresh and different and will keep you wondering about them long after you’ve finished reading.

Author Info:

The Other Slipper

    When Jo finds a lone glass slipper on the night of the royal ball, she realises that there is more to the seemingly ordinary object than meets the eye. Searching for its owner, she is led to the palace where the princess sets her on a journey that thrusts her into an unexpected world of magic and illusions. It soon becomes clear that there is a lot more to her mission as she discovers startling secrets about her past and struggles to embrace her destiny.

   The Altercation of Vira

The people of Vira have long awaited the arrival of their lost princess, Elve. Legend has foretold a season of great change in the dawn of her return. For the Maracans, she brings the promise of fortified control over their rival kindred. For the Cefans, a glimmer of hope in an existence filled with oppression. The only problem is their princess is eighteen year old Ama Brown, an ordinary girl living an ordinary life, who has no idea that she is about to be drawn into a world where an age old battle is brewing and nothing is quite as it seems.



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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Interview: H. David Blalock


   

   Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician.
   Hiring into the FAA in 1977, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. Then, in 1981 he moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC. There he remained until his retirement in 2008.
   David's writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer's sites. His novella HIGH KINGS (Sam's Dot Publishing, 2011) was First Runner Up for the 2012 Darrell Award for Best Novella. ANGELKILLER, the first of the Angelkiller Triad, appeared from Seventh Star Press in 2011. The second book in the series is scheduled to appear in late 2012.


Favorite reads?
When I get a chance to read, it is normally related to what I am currently intending to write. History, fantasy, action, whatever my next project demands. If I read for fun, it is most often something by Heinlein, Bradbury, or the lesser known science fiction writers.

Inspirations for the Angelkiller Triad?
I am fascinated by today's virtual reality games and their potential. It is as if humanity is creating a brand new, flexible existence whose rules and regulations can be adjusted and/or broken with impunity. I wondered what that would do to an ancient conflict that struck to the heart of human existence.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
I was an author when I was little. I wrote my first short story at about age 7. Of course, it was not published, but from that point forward I knew I was a writer at heart.

Any Pet Peeves?As a writer and editor, I find the disregard in which the English language is held today to be annoying. People need to learn how to spell properly. Yes, I am a grammar Nazi. What's your point? (smile)

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Both. I am no bigot when it comes to food.

The weirdest thing you've ever done?That is a hard one. Where do I begin? I jumped from an airplane at 17 on a dare. I went spelunking without the proper equipment. I spent time in the rain forest alone. I walked Hadrian's Wall while being 60 pounds overweight (not something I recommend). I drove a stock drag racing car. I could go on...

Is there a soundtrack to the book/Favorite music?
No soundtrack would properly fit Angelkiller, I my opinion. I leave it to the reader to determine that on their own. My personal favorite music is the Moody Blues. And Evanescence. And Enya. And Black Sabbath. Oh well...

Do you need anything to write?
Usually, a pencil, paper, a good cigar and a bottle of single malt (preferably Glenfiddich).

How long do you write on any average day?
As long as the muse demands. It varies from day to day, but usually about three hours.

Give us the number one reason to read the Angelkiller Triad.
Because it's a darned good story. Seriously, I believe Angelkiller and the books following explore a lot about the human condition, dealing with the most basic conflicts and how we are relying to our fascination and dependence on technology to solve them.


Author Info:
Website-Thran Keep
Facebook-H David Blalock
Blog-H David Blalock


AngelkillerCover.jpg
Why do bad things happen to good people? Simple. In the ancient war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Dark won. Now it is the job of an undercover force simply known as The Army to rectify that.

Using every tool available, The Army has worked to liberate our world from The Enemy for thousands of years, slowly and painfully lifting Mankind out of the dark. On the front of the great Conflict are the Angelkillers, veterans of the
fight with centuries of experience.

Jonah Mason is an Angelkiller, and his cell is targeted as part of plot to unseat a very powerful Minion of The Enemy. Mason and his troop are drawn into a battle that stretches from real-time to virtual reality and back. The Conflict is about to expand into cyberspace, and if Mason is unable to stop it, The Enemy will have gained dominion over yet another realm.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Book Review: Entwined by Heather Dixon

Summary:

Come and mend your broken hearts here.
   Just when Azalea should feel that everything is before her—beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing—it’s taken away. All of it. And Azalea is trapped. The Keeper understands. He’s trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. So he extends an invitation.
   Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest, but there is a cost. The Keeper likes to keep things. Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

I hope you guys enjoy this one as much as I did!
   Azalea (main character) was so charming. Although occasionally I do read a sappy romance, usually the pages and pages describing the character's feelings are exhausting. Azalea did not mope around worrying and fretting over her problems, but rather rolled-up her sleeves and did something about them. I wasn't expecting much from the other eleven sisters (I mean if you have eleven sisters and they all take a part, then there isn't any part left) but I was pleasantly surprised at the distinction of personality I found there, and in the younger sisters' love interests. Even though they weren't the main character, they were just as developed. I also loved observing how the King warmed from a stiff, well, king to demonstrating his love for his daughters. Mr. Bradford (Romantic Interest) was dashing and daring and all that he should be and perfect for Azalea and that's all I have to say.
Characters: 4.8 Stars
   Most of you are probably familiar with the story line of The 12 Dancing Princesses. While still keeping the basic theme of the fairytale, Entwined added so many twists and turns. Usually, I fairly capable of discerning the direction a plot will take, but the elaborate web that Keeper wove was even deeper than I suspected. Every single scene was exciting. The book ended with a bang and was tied up marvelously!
Plot: 4.9 Stars
   Entwined was richly written, breathtaking action and beautiful romance. Heather Dixon has a riveting style that, rather than detracting, glorifies the story. There were very strong highlights of humor, and I'll definitely be waiting for any future books.
Style: 5 Stars

Rating: 4.9 Stars
Source: Library
Genre: Fantasy
YA Fiction

Author Info:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Book Review: Nikolas & Company The Merman and the Moon Forgotten by Kevin McGill

Synopsis:
   Everything we've ever known about the moon is a lie. He was not always a ghost wandering the starry night. In a time before our own he held the entirety of all magical civilization, and the cradle of this metropolis once bustled with fire-breathing winged lions, volcano-born nymphs, automaton-legged mermaids, and so much magic you could smell it.
   The city of Huron has summoned her newly appointed steward, fourteen-year-old Nick Lyons. Unfortunately, Nick is tied up at the moment. He just blew up his parent's shed...again.
   Oh boy.

  Recently I've been craving a good adventure book, and this perfectly satisfied my taste!
  Nikolas Lyons, or Nick, is you sensible, smart, average teenager. The only difference is that he's destined to lead an entire city, full of mermaids, demons, and other such creatures. I was excited, following along through his troubles and watching as he overcame trial after trial. I really liked that, even though he was in trouble, he never bemoaned the fact. But rather, he jumped in head-first to solve the problem. His gang of friends each had their own distinct personalities, adding flavor to slower situations. Perhaps my favorite character was Grand (Nick's grandpa). Full of bluster and good Old-Fashioned courage, I found him quit to my liking.
Characters: 4 Stars
   This book had a very interesting premise. I always enjoy when books include fictitious reasons for things happening in reality (such as explanations for Stonehenge, strange natural disasters, ect.). The Merman and the Moon Forgotten had a lot of this throughout the story. More importantly, however, the action never stopped! Nick and his friends were catapulted from fight to escape and back again. I felt the book ended rather suddenly with no overall plot arc being realized, but I have high hopes for the sequel.
Plot: 3.9 Stars
   Kevin McGill's style put me inside Nick's head. I was able to see the impact certain events had on his world view. It painted a fun, engaging story perfect for summer's light reading.
Style: 3.5 Stars

Rating: 3.9 Stars
Source: From Author for Review
Genre: Fantasy/Adventure
YA/Junior Fiction

Author Info:
Twitter @KevinonPaper
Blog Kevin McGill

To launch Nikolas and Company, author Kevin McGill actually launched a copy of his book into space! Go to the book's website and guess where it landed for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!