Tuesday, December 18, 2012

10 Questions with Nouveau Beat Writer Dave Louden (@davelostangeles)

This Author Spotlight features Belfast-born writer David Louden.

His debut novel Lost Angeles is a roman á clef-styled novel in the vein of 20th century beat authors. He also blogs under the name John Baxter and his film site Knifed in Venice showcases the best and worst (in equal measure) in horror, exploitation and independent cinema. When he’s not writing he’s battling fuel poverty and the weeping liver.

1. How did you get into writing?
I sort of fell into it. For years I was involved in film programming as a creative outlet. I’d put on film screenings in Belfast and then all of a sudden it was gone and it was nice to have that time and head space back but eventually I got frustrated by the lack of release. I initially began working on a book about Exploitation cinema but a lot of the films were incredibly expensive and the research just went on and on and on. After a while I needed to just step back from it because I didn’t have the money or the laborious research personality but I didn’t want to stop writing so I started tinkering with fiction and immediately found that the style I liked was one that lent itself to a story I had to tell.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I love telling stories. I think everyone at some point could and does do it. As children we make up narratives all the time only we call it play. At some point we’re told to grow up and stop f*cking around and that’s sad. It took me a long time to silence the devil inside so I could hear what I really wanted to do. I come from a very working class background and almost feel ashamed for wanting to do something “artsy fartsy” and I still suck at putting myself out there but I’m trying because I love telling stories and I’m bored with growing up.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I’m not entirely sure of my process to be honest. About six years ago I spent a few months living in Los Angeles. I was staying in this $12 a night hostel and existing on breakfast burritos, Guinness and tequila and doing the odd bit of market research for money. It was an odd place to live because life and consequences and all that seemed to be other people’s issues. There’s something about not knowing what’s going on in the world that causes a liberating atmosphere. A few of us joked about having to put the LA hostel life down on paper – though we figured most of it wouldn’t be believable. A lot of stuff from then made it into the book, it pretty much rushed out of me so it was easy. I’m finding now I make a lot of notes when I’m putting things together but I think the subject will probably dictate the process…probably.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I love Charles Bukowski, I think he’s an incredibly masculine writer and can sum up in three words what the rest of us waste pages on. That’s remarkably frustrating to read. I love John Fante, he’s amazing. I’m also a lover of William S. Burroughs, Donald Ray Pollock and Tony Parsons and Wendy Powers who was a big help with the book and I’d now call a friend. A few people I reluctantly let read Lost Angeles in the first-second draft stage remarked how it was similar to Parsons/Bukowski which is an amazing compliment. I just hope I’ve earned it, they were probably being generous with Bukowski but I’ll still take it.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
I’d instinctively go outside, I’m lucky to have someone who is a brilliant proof reader/copy editor/grammar Nazi so even if I’m wrong I end up right thanks to her.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I’ve nothing against the Oxford comma. It’s important in a lot of situations to eliminate ambiguity though ambiguity can be fun. I recently read about someone “declaring war” on the Oxford comma…I hope it kicks his ass.

7. What is your book Lost Angeles about and how did it come to fruition?
It’s about a borderline alcoholic whose life has fallen apart and how he takes himself off to Los Angeles to kill himself. He spends a lot of the time making superficial connections in an attempt to feel something but his decisions are usually made under the influence and usually make matters worse. The style is somewhat episodic because I wanted it to feel like a series of confessions as he slips closer to the end. A lot of the chapters are based on real situations, real people and real problems. I knew a lot of people back then and we were all a little lost, we drank everyday and were lucky to come through that time unscathed(ish). It’s more fun than it sounds, or at least it was to live it.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I see a lot of genre fiction around, everyone’s doing series’ of novels and then you’ve got me writing about drunks and promiscuity and dirtying up the place. I figured I’d try to write something that would belong in a genre and had the potential to become a series if I wanted to return to it (which I probably won’t) so I got to thinking about what I knew and then I remembered about my cousin. She had an interesting life, one day she just packed up from Belfast, moved to Chicago and started chasing down people who skipped bail so I’m working on a story that’s very loosely based on her when she came back to Belfast. I’m working on a few other things too but they haven’t reached the typer yet.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m reading a few things, On the Road because I wanted to read it again before I saw the film, The Devil All The Time because I read Knockemstiff and thought “this guy’s got style” and The Brotherhood of the Grape just because.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
I’ve a friend called Ben who tells the best stories, some of it’s beyond what I think I could convince people to accept but he’s always good for inspiration. Other than that it comes down to people you know or moments from your life because it’s cheaper than therapy. One of my friends told me about their crazy neighbour the other day. He’s going in the back pocket until I can figure out where best showcases him.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
Lost Angeles is available on Kindle and paperback via the following links:

Kindle UK: Lost Angeles

Kindle US: Lost Angeles

Paperback: Lost Angeles

Thank you, Dave, for sharing your novel. I agree that Knockemstiff was very good, and I'm also looking forward to seeing "The Road".

Let us know when your next book is ready!

Be sure to check out Lost Angeles. I used to live in Venice Beach so I can vouch for the lunacy in Dave's novel.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

10 Questions with Sci-Fi Thriller Writer C.L. Davies (@cldavieswriter)

This Author Spotlight features British Science Fiction Thriller writer C.L. Davies.

Please tell us a bit about yourself, Cheryl.

Born in Ashford in 1978, I moved with my family to the Isle of Man when aged five. I obtained my degree in English Lit at the University of Hertfordshire, and returned to the Island and qualified as a teacher. I've taught in a local primary school for nine years.

I love the Manx countryside, and my little gorgeous garden. I'm a little obsessed with palm trees. As a demented but doting first-time mum, much of my time is spent caring for our new baby, who is beautiful and bonkers! She's the centre of my world and the reason for everything I do.

I work on my fourth book when she feeds and naps.

I live happily with our beautiful baby, the spirit of our much-missed cat, Pudge, and fiance Dean.

Dean, unbelievably, is yet to read the book ...

1. How did you get into writing?
It was as simple as a promise to my mum – I love words; perhaps not the most sane thing I could admit to, but they’re constantly flitting through my head, and I often get obsessed with a given word or phrase, repeating it to myself throughout the day! Mad about words and good at English at school, my mum always used to say; ‘You must write a book before I die.’ She’s neither ill nor old, but I promised nevertheless. As I approached my 30’s, I knew I’d hope to soon start my family, and so I started writing before spare time became a luxury.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I enjoy the escapism of writing, which is something I’ve never found elsewhere – I can literally lose track of the world around me, as the web spun of words enswathes me. 

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
When the Gods Of A Good Idea finally smile upon me, I type the outline of the story on my laptop. When I start the actual writing, and the storyline evolves, I add any extra elements to the plan. With baby here, I don’t stick to a programme, and write when I can. My favourite place to write is outside, in the fresh air, snuggled beneath a Slanket if it’s chilly. Bliss.

Tell me, Cheryl, what is a Slanket?

A Slanket is a blanket with sleeves - it's a trademark - I got one last Christmas. They're gorgeous and super snuggly!

Ah! It's what is known in the states as a Snuggie. It's basically an extra-long fleece bathrobe worn backwards. Genius.
4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I’ve always enjoyed the powerful storytelling prowess of Stephen King, and the sublime fusion of horror and poetic eloquence in a good Dean Koontz. Lately, I have read and loved two fantasy thrillers by Chandler McGrew, with Crossroads now one of my all-time favourite reads. Remember earlier I mentioned getting obsessed with words or phrases? This stunning extract from Crossroads is one that still echoes in my mind: ‘As they rounded a long, sweeping curve the scimitar moon sliced through the ribbony overcast, spilling silvery shards of light earthward.’ Wow!

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Hmm … I think outside, because the question itself is outside the quote. Is that right? Whatever the answer, consistency is key.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I use it, so I guess my stance is a positive one.

7. What is your book Automaton about and how did it come to fruition?
Automaton is about a society obsessed with entertainment, celebrity, and reality TV. It came about from my own continuing fixation with reality TV. Happily watching the participants of Big Brother as they slept, when I too should have been sleeping, got me thinking about how far an obsession might go. Automaton tells of an island where the programmable A.I. inhabitants exist only to entertain, alongside their fanatical gamers in the ‘real’ world. Lily and Dean live happily on the island, until resentful gamer Luke sickens of it and snaps. The devastating consequences ripple ever out, affecting human and non-human alike.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m writing my 4th book, as yet title-less, over my baby-bundle’s head as she feeds and naps. I’m also doing a final edit of my 2nd book Resonance, ahead of publication in 2013. Resonance, in brief, is a multi-strand story about super-rich Oscar, who pays for, upon his death, the storage of his soul. Reincarnated as Jake, his actions give rise to the age-old question; are we defined by nature or nurture? The story also tells of sinister elements in the ‘Forever Foundation’, of paranormal shared dreams, and its underground legacy of sadness and suffering.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’m reading a paperback of Bard Constantine’s The Troubleshooter - a dark and amusing dystopian novel - and Erasure by A.T.H. Webber – a fascinating fiction about the influence of the Internet - on my kindle. Both books are thus far brilliant!

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Personally, I’m inspired now by my 10-month-old baby girl – everything I do is for her. I’m also inspired by my dream of being a full-time writer, with my kids running around in the garden, whilst I sit in some kind of organic red clay curvy den, and write for hours at a time.

Professionally, I’m inspired by Steven King, whose haunting stories stay in my mind for years – I can still hear the tramping of the dark man’s boot heels, in The Stand, and the rattling, shifting shells in Duma Key.    

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
I’d like to add a thank you! I only want people to enjoy my stories, and it’s thanks to the generosity of book bloggers, reviewers and author interviews that newbies like me can hope to gain readers. Thank you thousands!

Automaton can be bought at all the usual and good online bookstores – www.barnes&noble.co.uk  – www.waterstones.com etc and with free shipping at www.amazon.com/ and www.amazon.uk/ in both paperback and electronic versions. Resonance is due out late 2013. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Questions with Fantasy & Sci-Fi Writer Lisa Mason (@lisaSmason)

This Author Spotlight features accomplished Fantasy and Science Fiction Author and Philip K. Dick Award finalist Lisa Mason.

On Twitter, she's @lisaSmason

RS: How did you get into writing?
LM: My mom bought me lots of great books when I was a kid. I loved reading and decided I wanted to be a writer. Stories and fantasies would pop into my head and I wrote my first book at age five. I’ve got it on my desk right now. It is 1¼ inches by 2 inches, hand-sewn, two chapters, lavishly illustrated by the author, and entitled, “Millie the Caterpillar.” Millie is despondent at being “a fat, green, hairy, little caterpillar.” Then spring comes, she breaks out of her cocoon, and “to her surprize, she found two beautiful red and black wings on her shoulders.” Happiness! The End. I’ve thought ever since surprise should be spelled with a z.
So you could say I got bit by the writing bug early on, but my life has taken some twists and turns and writing hasn’t been a straight shot for me.
RS: What do you like best (or least) about writing?
LM: I love publishing something and having readers tell me they loved it, were entertained by it, moved by it, couldn’t put it down. I’ll shamelessly admit readers have told me Summer of Love is their all-time favorite book. Readers’ responses make all the blood, sweat, and tears worthwhile. What I hate most is getting stuck, but that’s a blog in and of itself.
RS: What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
LM: Oh, I’d love to write 5000 words a day, but that seldom happens. The main thing is to accomplish something seven days a week, if only making notes or working out a plot point you’re not sure of. I usually get a holistic concept of a book or story, sketch the general thrust of it, and break it open with the first scene. Often, I’ll have the first scene and the last, the story goal I want to accomplish. (You know the joke that every book has a beginning, an ending, and a muddle.) I don’t like outlining but the process is so important for keeping your narrative on track. I’ll often micro-outline what I’m working on and the material immediately after. Once I get through that, the next plot twists often reveal themselves. Then I do the same process again, step by step.
When a book gathers momentum and the world-building is set down, I’ll write every day for two weeks at a time, take a one-day break, then start again the next day.
RS: Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
LM: You know, lately I’ve been picking up classic authors. I just read Raymond Chandler’s Lady in the Lake. Marlowe is the original chain-smoking, hard-drinking, lone-wolf, sardonic private eye and Chandler is such a master stylist. I’ve got Edith Wharton’s Ethan Frome and Joseph Conrad’s Tales of Unrest on my reading table. And I’ve been enjoying Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf mysteries from the 1940s. Urban fantasy employs the mystery trope, as does romantic suspense, both areas I’m writing within.
RS: Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
LM: Outside, of course, because the question mark punctuates the entire sentence, whereas the quotes indicate the word is, in the author’s opinion, a relative or subjective term.
RS: What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
LM: I’m totally freaked out by the Oxford Comma. What the hell is the Oxford Comma?
RS: What is your book Summer of Love about and how did it come to fruition?
LM: Please take a look at my bio below. How does any of that happen? Obsession-compulsion. Hard work. Late nights. Giving up a lot of time-consuming activities like television.
RS: What book(s) are you currently reading?
LM: On my To-Read list are The Night Circus and A Discovery of Witches because I’m working on the next book in my urban fantasy, The Abracadabra Series. Research books for a science fiction series I’m launching next year.
RS: Who or what inspires your writing?
LM: Oh, Life! Personal experience. Love, anger, vengeance. Joy. Beauty. A hummingbird landing on my feeder. Historical people I admire, like the women Surrealist artists in the story listed below, or Nikola Tesla, the great inventor and electrical engineer whom I wrote a screenplay about and who reminded me of my inventor-electrical engineer dad. Stage magicians. Real Magic. Being invited to contribute to a themed anthology always kicks me in the butt to dream up something new. I’ve written so many different kinds of books and stories, I’ll be adding blogs to my Goodreads Author Page just to talk about what inspired me, what I researched, and so on.
Quite a few redheaded or russet-haired or strawberry blond men seem to show up in my work, so I’m compelled to add to the list of inspirations my husband, Tom Robinson. But don’t tell him I told you so (his head is swelled enough already).
RS: Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
LM: Readers may not realize it, but traditional publishing is changing daily. Radically. Twenty years ago, there were twenty or thirty publishers. The big fish gobbled up the smaller fish, turned them into imprints, and subsumed everything to a larger corporation. Authors essentially could only submit to the Big Six Publishers. Just last week, the two biggest of the Big Six announced they’re merging. Now there is only a Big Five.
What does that mean for authors? Shrinking opportunities, smaller advances, longer wait times to get published--waiting two, even three years to get published is not uncommon these days—and getting yanked out of print before a book has had a chance to breathe.
What does that mean for you, the reader?
Fewer good books to choose from. More faddish, formulaic, cranked-out books by Big Names. Worthy authors, or entertaining ones, you will never hear of because they can’t get exposure in the Big Media.
That’s why the ebook phenomenon has exploded within two short years and shows no signs of slowing down. That’s why authors who have been published by the Big Six, like me, are rejoicing at the affordable opportunity of publishing worthy works brutally taken out of print and finding new (and former) audiences.
That’s why I urge everyone to invest in a Kindle or a Nook and search around for a great read. Yes, I love print books. Tom and I own 20,000 of them (seriously). But the ereaders are getting better, smaller, more powerful, and more affordable, and people who love print are saying they love ebooks, too.
Print books will never disappear, but ebooks are definitely here to stay.
About Lisa Mason
A graduate of the University of Michigan School of Literature, the Sciences, and the Arts, and the University of Michigan Law School, Lisa Mason is the author of eight novels, including SUMMER OF LOVE (Bantam), a San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book and Philip K. Dick Award finalist, and THE GOLDEN NINETIES (Bantam), a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book.
Mason published her first story, “ARACHNE,” in Omni and has since published short fiction in magazines and anthologies worldwide, including Omni, Full Spectrum, Universe, Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror, Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, Unique, Transcendental Tales, Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, Immortal Unicorn, Tales of the Impossible, Desire Burn, Fantastic Alice, The Shimmering Door, Hayakawa Science Fiction Magazine, Unter Die Haut, and others. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, and Swedish.
Lisa Mason lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her husband, the renowned artist and jeweler Tom Robinson. Visit her on the web at Lisa Mason’s Official Website, follow her Official Blog, or e-mail her at LisaSMason@aol.com.

THE GARDEN OF ABRACADABRA, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, Mason’s urban fantasy, is on Nook and on Kindle. A print edition is planned for late 2013. Also available in affordable installments as THE GARDEN OF ABRACADABRA TRILOGY on Kindle, Book 1: Life’s Journey, Book 2: In Dark Woods, and Book 3, The Right Road, and on Nook, Book 1: Life’s Journey, Book 2: In Dark Woods, and Book 3: The Right Road.
At her mother’s urgent deathbed plea, Abby Teller enrolls at the Berkeley College of Magical Arts and Crafts to learn Real Magic. To support herself through school, she signs on as the superintendent of the Garden of Abracadabra, a mysterious, magical apartment building on campus. She discovers that her tenants are witches, shapeshifters, vampires, and wizards and each apartment is a fairyland or hell. On her first day in Berkeley, she stumbles upon a supernatural multiple murder scene. One of the victims is a man she picked up hitchhiking the day before. Compelled into a dangerous murder investigation and torn between three men, Abby will discover the first secrets of an ancient and ongoing war between good and evil, uncover mysteries of her own troubled past, and learn that the lessons of Real Magic may spell the difference between her own life or death.
“So refreshing. . . .This is Stephanie Plum in the world of Harry Potter.”

The Bantam classic is back! SUMMER OF LOVE, A TIME TRAVEL (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) is on Nook and on Kindle.
Nineteen five-star Amazon reviews
“Summer of Love is an important American literary contribution.”
“This book was so true to life that I felt like I was there. I recommend it to anyone.”
“More than a great science-fiction, a great novel as well.”
The year is 1967 and something new is sweeping across America: good vibes, bad vibes, psychedelic music, psychedelic drugs, anti-war protests, racial tension, free love, bikers, dropouts, flower children. An age of innocence, a time of danger. The Summer of Love.
San Francisco is the Summer of Love, where runaway flower children flock to join the hip elite and squares cruise the streets to view the human zoo.
Lost in these strange and wondrous days, teenager Susan Bell, alias Starbright, has run away from the straight suburbs of Cleveland to find her troubled best friend. Her path will cross with Chiron Cat’s Eye in Draco, a strange and beautiful young man who has journeyed farther than she could ever imagine.
With the help of Ruby A. Maverick, a feisty half-black, half-white hip merchant, Susan and Chi discover a love that spans five centuries. But can they save the world from demons threatening to destroy all space and time?
New! Summer of Love Serials will be published for your affordable holiday reading in seven installments. Check the Official Blog for links as they roll in the door.

The Bantam sequel, THE GILDED AGE, A TIME TRAVEL (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book) is on Nook and on Kindle.
The year is 1895 and immigrants the world over are flocking to California on the transcontinental railroad and on transoceanic steamships. The Zoetrope demonstrates the persistence of vision, patent medicines addict children to morphine, and women are rallying for the vote. In San Francisco, saloons are the booming business, followed by brothels, and the Barbary Coast is a dangerous sink of iniquity. Atop Telegraph Hill bloody jousting tournaments are held and in Chinatown the tongs deal in opium, murder-for-hire, and slave girls.
Zhu Wong, a prisoner in twenty-fifth century China, is given a choice--stand trial for murder or go on a risky time-travel project to the San Francisco of 1895 to rescue a slave girl and take her to safety. Charmed by the city’s opulent glamour, Zhu will discover the city’s darkest secrets. A fervent population control activist in a world of twelve billion people, she will become an indentured servant to the city’s most notorious madam. Fiercely disciplined, she will fall desperately in love with the troubled self-destructive heir to a fading fortune.
And when the careful plans of the Gilded Age Project start unraveling, Zhu will discover that her choices not only affect the future but mean the difference between her own life or death.
“A winning mixture of intelligence and passion.” The New York Times Book Review

Mason’s thriller, SHAKEN, an ebook adaptation of “Deus Ex Machina” published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, republished in Transcendental Tales (Donning Press), and translated and republished in Europe and South America, is on Nook and on Kindle.
Emma “J” for Joy Pearce is at her editorial offices on the twenty-second floor of Three Embarcadero in downtown San Francisco when the long-dreaded next Great Earthquake devastates the Bay area. Amid horrific destruction, she rescues a man trapped in the rubble. In the heat of survival, she swiftly bonds with him, causing her to question her possible marriage to her long-time boyfriend.
But Jason Gibb is not the charming photojournalist he pretends to be. As Emma discovers his true identity, his mission in the city, and the dark secrets behind the catastrophe, she finds the choices she makes may mean the difference between her own life or death.
A List of Sources follows this short novel.

The Story That Sold To The Movies. TOMORROW’S CHILD began as a medical documentary, then got published in Omni Magazine, and finally sold to Universal Pictures, where the project is in development. On Nook and on Kindle.
A high-powered executive is about to lose his estranged teenage daughter to critical burn wounds and only desperate measures may save her life.
The ebook includes Lisa Mason’s blog, The Story Behind The Story That Sold To The Movies, describing the twists and turns this story took over the years.

HUMMERS was published in Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, chosen for Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror 5th Annual Collection (St. Martin’s Press), and nominated for the Nebula Award.
On Nook and on Kindle for 99 cents.
Laurel, in the terminal stages of cancer, is obsessed with the Egyptian Book of the Dead. Jerry, her homecare nurse whose lover is dying of AIDS, gives her a surprising gift. A hummingbird feeder. As Laurel comes to grips with her own death, she learns powerful and redeeming lessons about Egyptian Magic from the hummingbirds that visit her.

THE SIXTY-THIRD ANNIVERSARY OF HYSTERIA, published in the acclaimed anthology, Full Spectrum 5 (Bantam), which also included stories by Neal Stephenson, Karen Joy Fowler, and Jonathan Lethem, is on Nook and Kindle.
The year is 1941, and Hitler’s armies have swept across Europe. Nora, a budding young Surrealist artist, has fled to Mexico with B.B., a much older and acclaimed Surrealist playwright down on his luck. Hundreds of European artists and writers have formed a colony in Mexico City, and Nora befriends Valencia, a fellow Surrealist artist and refugee. Together the friends explore Jungian psychology and the power of symbols in their Art. But Nora is plagued by an abusive relationship with B.B. She embarks on a harrowing journey deep into her own troubled psyche.
The novelette was inspired by Mason’s favorite Surrealist artists, Leonora Carrington and Remedios Varo. An Afterword describing Carrington and Varo’s lives and a List of Sources are included in the ebook.

EVERY MYSTERY UNEXPLAINED, published in David Copperfield’s Tales of the Impossible (HarperPrism), an anthology that included stories by Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, and Kevin J. Anderson, is on Nook and on Kindle.
The year is 1895, and Danny Flint is a young man living in the shadow of his father, a famous stage magician whose fortunes are fading. Danny is grieving over his mother’s recent accidental death, for which he feels he is to blame. He learns to reconcile himself with his grief and guilt and to assume his place at center stage as a magician in his own right with the help of a mysterious beautiful lady.

DAUGHTER OF THE TAO, published in Peter S. Beagle’s Immortal Unicorn (HarperPrism), that included stories by Charles de Lint, Karen Joy Fowler, Robert Sheckley, and Ellen Kushner, is on Nook and Kindle.
Sing Lin is a mooie jai, a girl sold into slavery at the age of five to a wealthy merchant in Tangrenbu, the ghetto of her people in the new country across the sea. One lucky day, while she is out shopping by herself, she meets another mooie jai, Kwai Yin, a bossy, beautiful girl two years older. Kwai has a secret. Before she was sold into slavery, she had a Teacher who taught her about Tao Magic.
But Sing watches Kwai succumb to the terrifying fate of all slave girls in Tangrenbu.
Soon Sing is destined to go to the same fate. But will her invocation of Tao Magic save her?

For something fast and fun, U F uh-O, A SCI FI COMEDY, Lisa Mason’s script for a producer looking for the next “Galaxy Quest” or “Men in Black” that evolved into a novella, is on Nook and Kindle.
Nikki and Josh really want a child but have infertility issues. Gretchen and Mike have the same problem. When Nikki meets Gretchen at the Happy Daze Family Clinic in Pasadena, they discover that they share a love of music and have asked for a donor with musical talent. Nine months later, they give birth to very unusual babies and, seeking an answer to why the kids are so special, they meet again at a pediatrician’s office. And the search is on: who—and what—is Donor Number 333?

For something different, TESLA, A WORTHY OF HIS TIME, A SCREENPLAY, which was read by the producer of “Aliens” and “The Abyss” and is currently under consideration at another L.A. producer, is on Nook and Kindle. A List of Sources is included in the ebook.
Genius. Visionary. Madman.
Nikola Tesla (1856--1943) was the pioneering genius who invented the AC electrical system that powers our world to this day, as well as radio, remote control, the automobile speedometer, X-ray photography, the AND logic gate that drives all our computer systems, and countless other devices and precursors to devices such as cell phones, television, and the Internet that we so effortlessly use today.
Strikingly handsome and charismatic, fluent in half a dozen languages, mathematics savant and master machinist, a reed-thin perfectionist who quoted poetry like a Victorian rapper, Tesla became one of the most famous men of his day. Friend of tycoons like John Jacob Astor and Stanford White and celebrities like Mark Twain and Sarah Bernhardt.
Yet Tesla was an intensely driven and lonely man, beset by inner demons, and cursed with a protean inventive imagination a century ahead of his time. He died in obscurity and poverty and, to this day, his name is not widely known. How did that happen?
Blending historical fact with speculative imagination, Lisa Mason explores the secrets of the Inventor’s inner life and his obsession with Goethe’s Faust set against the backdrop of sweeping technological changes at the turn of the twentieth century that have forever changed the world.

New! Lisa Mason’s romantic suspense, Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery, will be on Nook and Kindle for the year-end holidays and Strange Ladies: Stories, a collection of seven stories published in magazines and anthologies worldwide will be on Nook and Kindle in early 2013. Also forthcoming is The Quester Trilogy, an ebook adaptation of Lisa Mason’s early cyberpunk classics, Arachne and Cyberweb.
For news about print books, ebooks, and more visit Lisa Mason’s Official Web Site and Lisa Mason’s Blog.
If you like a work, please stop by Barnes and Noble or Amazon and “Like” it, add stars, write a review, and spread the word to your friends. Your response really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

And thank you, Lisa, for sharing your books and extensive writing & publishing history and expertise. It's wonderful to see so many traditionally-published writers making their entire backlist available to be enjoyed by a new stable of readers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

10 Questions with Writer Jen Barton (@FionaThornBook)

This Author Spotlight features writer Jen Barton, author of FIONA THORN AND THE CARAPACEM SPELL (see above).

Jen Barton was born in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in 1971 and spent much of her life on the East Coast. In 2008, at age 36, she and her family moved to California. With two cars, she and her husband moved two dogs, two guinea pigs, a cornsnake and their 10-year old daughter across the country. She counts the five day road trip, including a near escape by both dogs on Day 3, as one of her best experiences to date.

In 2009, with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Philosophy from Millersville University, Barton realized her childhood dream to become a writer. One van full of bored kids, one long day of travel, and Fiona Thorn was born. She’s been writing ever since.

When not taxiing her teenage daughter hither and yon, Barton loves reading (especially fantasy by George R. R. Martin), cooking (anything with pasta is a hit), and writing (magical worlds with obstinate teen girls is always a favorite).

1. How did you get into writing?
I’ve always loved to read, ever since I can remember, and from that came the desire to tell stories and try to write. I’ve written stories here and there over the years, and always had a vague idea that being a writer was a good fit. For a brief time I was a reporter for a very small paper, covering local events. But not until a few years ago, when a group of bored kids were killing time on a long car ride, did I settle in and begin. That day, after imagining weapons and powers, their dresses and horses, a group of four very special girls asked me to write them a princess story. And Fiona Thorn was born.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I love the beginning. The blank page has so much potential that it inspires me, it frees me in a way, if that makes sense. But what I love most is when my characters do things that I, as the writer, had no idea they were going to do. I still haven’t worked out how that happens, exactly, and it always feels like a bit of magic. Those are the best days.
Revising I could do without. Ugh.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
Once the idea comes I like to sit with it for a while. I let it swirl around for a week, maybe more, just kind of stewing in my mind. I’ll dream about it if I’m really excited, but it always begins there. Then I usually do a vague outline, making sure I know what I want to accomplish with a particular chapter or scene. This helps me stay focused, because I can easily get off track. Many times I will know where the story is going to end also. But the middle is up to the characters. That’s the fun part. Seeing how they react to the situations I’ve decided to put them through always surprises me.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I am a fantasy nerd, I guess, which makes me a huge fan of George R. R. Martin. I literally lived A Song of Ice and Fire. I loved the nine book series by Robin Hobb, beginning with Assassin’s Apprentice. I grew up on Stephen King. I can’t tell you how many sleepless nights I owe to him. I am also a big fan of Barbara Kingsolver, especially The Poisonwood Bible. I’m deeply impressed and in awe of Elizabeth Strout’s work, Olive Kitteridge. But above all else, I love East of Eden by Steinbeck. It has everything, including Samuel Hamilton, the person I want to be when I grow up. :)

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
HAHAHAHA! The question mark belongs inside the quotes. I feel like I’ve dated myself somehow. I didn’t realize two spaces after a period had gone out of style either until I got more interested in formatting. So funny.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Sounds like an elitist piece of punctuation that dresses very well; cute little bow-ties and carefully distressed jeans. Probably has fantastic parties, too.

7. What is your book Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell about and how did it come to fruition?
When Fiona Thorn, an ornery orphan with an expertise in explosives, sets out to rescue her imprisoned friend, Jaydin Rowan, she wants nothing more than a few sleeping guards and a satchel full of Blast. What she gets is a run-in with three bickering princesses that puts all four girls on the wrong side of a locked dungeon door.

Now, accidentally involved in a plot to assassinate the King and accused of kidnapping the princesses, Fiona must find a way to free them all, save the King, and rescue Jaydin, all while struggling to pay the magical debt that’s slowly killing her. Unless, of course, the princesses’ annoying sibling rivalry kills her first.

Packed with powerful magic, fun-loving fairies and a vicious ogre turned pet, Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell is a fantasy kids’ book sure to become a favorite in middle grade fiction.

Fiona came about after my daughter and some young friends asked me to write a princess story for them. Once I started, it took on a life of its own.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m working on a few things. I’m entered in a contest now called America’s Next Author. It’s a bit like American Idol for writers. We’re judged on social media exposure as well as our story quality, so I spend a fair amount of time tweeting and trying to scare up votes. My short story about a feisty old woman trapped in her dying body is called “Movin’ on Up” and can be found here, http://www.ebookmall.com/author/jen-barton if you’d like to check it out. Shameless, I know. But that’s the life of an indie author, I guess.

I’m also thinking about the outline for the second book in Fiona’s series, which right now is called Fiona Thorn and the Secret of the Ringing Trees.

And on top of that I’m working with an artist, developing a picture book around a poem I wrote called Purple Chocolate. It’s a bedtime story for young kids, designed in a Dr. Seuss style. I’m very excited about that. It’s looking so good.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Dragonriders of Pern is on my bedside table. I guess I’m not much of a fantasy nerd if I haven’t read that yet. Running with the Demon by Terry Brooks is in my purse and is mostly what I reach for these days. And I have a new book on my phone that I can’t wait to share with my nephew. It’s called A Shadow Passed Over the Son. Very fast paced and fun!

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
I find inspiration in all kinds of places. Under the surface of everyday things is a world rich with material. Add a bit of imagination (my hands are making the rainbow motion just like Spongebob) and the base of the tree in your back yard becomes the house of a Fairy Queen who happens to be hiding a renegade from a distant kingdom...

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
I’d love to say Thanks, Ryan for hosting me and asking fun questions! It was fantastic to share a little about what I do. Sometimes being a writer can be lonely, and it’s good to connect with someone other than your characters!

Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell is available on Amazon in ebook and paperback, http://www.amazon.com/Fiona-Thorn-Carapacem-Spell-ebook/dp/B0095ZITN6.

And more information about my writing is available at the sites below:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JenBartonWrites
Twitter: @FionaThornBook
website: http://fionathornbook.com/

Thank you, Jen, for sharing your work. Best of luck with America's Next Author. We'll certainly do all we can to help you.

Please chat with us again when Fiona Thorn and the Secret of the Ringing Trees is available!

Be sure to check out Fiona Thorn and the Carapacem Spell, visit Jen's website, follow her on Twitter, and vote for her on America's Next Author.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

10 Questions with Paranormal Thriller Writer Scott A. Lerner (@scottlernerauth)

This Author Spotlight features debut-novelist Scott A. Lerner, author of COCAINE ZOMBIES.

Author and attorney Scott A. Lerner resides in Champaign, Illinois. He obtained his undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Wisconsin in Madison and went on to obtain his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign. He is currently a sole practitioner in Champaign, Illinois. The majority of his law practice focuses on the fields of Criminal law and Family Law.

Mr. Lerner lives with his wife, their two children, and their cat Fern. Lerner collects unusual antiques and enjoys gardening, traveling, reading fiction and going to the movies. Cocaine Zombies is his first published novel. Coming soon, the sequel: Ruler of Demons.

1. How did you get into writing?
I sit at my computer a lot for work. One day I thought it would be nice to write something that was not incredibly dull. That was the beginning.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
It is nice to take my mind off my workaday existence and think about the fantastic and unusual. I become someone else—someone more exciting and less limited.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc.
I have not developed a process yet. Someday, if I am incredibly lucky and able to quit my day job, maybe I will be able to keep a more consistent schedule. For now I write when I have time. If it feels as if I’m running dry, I wait until later and hope inspiration comes to me.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Kurt Vonnegut and Stephen King, whose books are dark but have a lighter side. I also like what I have read so far of Mark Everett Stone and Molly MacRae, who were both kind enough to write blurbs for my book.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
I would have put it outside the quotes. Yet I was cursed with a cute girl in front of me during my grammar school English class. The result was not paying as much attention to the rules of punctuation. Actually, isn’t it okay “either way?” If the object of grammar is to make something readable … I get the meaning either way.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I refuse to stand on any punctuation. Just kidding, I’m against it. After Googling to see what it is and discovering I don’t use it I will come out publically and denounce it. It is un-American. Leave it to the British to add an extra comma.

7. What is Cocaine Zombies about and how did it come to fruition?
It is about a small town lawyer who takes on a simple case related to the sale of cocaine. It soon becomes apparent that the case is a lot more complicated—involving a conspiracy to create and distribute a new form of synthetic cocaine … also Voodoo, black magic and a malevolent spirit. The main character, along with his good friend, must put their lives on the line to save humanity.

8. What’s your current writing project?
Cocaine Zombies has a sequel in the works called Ruler of Demons. The initial draft is complete and is sure to appeal to fans of Cocaine Zombies. I am also working on an unrelated coming-of-age book. I think people will find it both interesting and incredibly twisted.

9. What book are you currently reading?
Damned by Chuck Palahniuk.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Is it too simplistic to say my imagination and observation? In life there is no shortage of odd and crazy things to be inspired by. For this story, history also fed my imagination. The antagonist wants to convince the hero that people are essentially evil. In human history there are many events to support her position; I had a lot of material to pick and choose from.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Cocaine Zombies is my first novel. You can order it on Amazon, BN.com or wherever books are sold online and you can also request it at your local bookstore. It is also available in multiple eBook formats as well as the 5x8 trade paperback. You can also check out my blog for my random thoughts and like my author page on Facebook.



Great, Scott. Congratulations on the publication of COCAINE ZOMBIES. Be sure to let us know when Ruler of Demons is ready.

Take a moment to visit Scott's blog and take a look inside Cocaine Zombies. And follow him on Twitter!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Questions with SciFi Romance Novelist Donna McDonald (@scifiwoman13)

This Author Spotlight features Sci-Fi (and Fantasy) Romance novelist Donna McDonald.

After 35 years of doing everything for a living except writing books, Donna McDonald finally published her first romance novel in March of 2011. Ten novels later, she is now living her own "happily ever after" life as a modestly successful author who gives back to the universe by doing her best to keep several Lexington, Kentucky coffee shops in business.

McDonald dreams of selling her house and taking to the open road once she figures out how to do so without her children and grandchildren finding out.

For the time being, she continues to live contentedly with her permanent fiancée of many years who helps her sneak away from real life as often as he can. She loves him dearly for it.

1. How did you get into writing?
I have always been a writer of one sort or another. In high school, I wrote poetry and plays. In college, I was a Creative Writing minor. I also worked as a Technical Writer for over 18 years. During the 90s, I wrote lots of partial romance novels, entered and placed in contests, and dreamed about one day getting published.

But if you are asking how I finally found my way to self-publishing 14 novels, in 2009 I got laid off and spent a traumatic year after that caring for a family member with cancer. When that was done, I was too exhausted mentally and spiritually to give any energy to a serious job search. As I had for most of my life, I turned to reading and writing for solace. Then one Monday in summer of 2010, instead of scanning more job ads, I sat down and decided to write a book instead. Two-and-a-half obsessive weeks later, I typed “THE END” on a 70,000-word manuscript. Once I knew I could finish at least one full novel, it became clear I could finish as many as I wanted.

Unfortunately, my romances with older characters were too “niche” in my genre for traditional publishers. I collected lots of soft rejections, but all of them were about not thinking they could sell my work. In late December of 2010, I found JA Konrath’s indie publishing blog and was inspired by his data to see if I could sell the books myself. I felt sure there had to be a romance-loving audience among the “Baby Boomer” population. So in March of 2011, I put the first two books in the Never Too Late series up. I offered one as “free”. The second I sold for $2.99.

How has it worked out? Well, I started writing full time in January 2012 and supporting myself with my earnings. My earnings are modest, not like those that hit the news or bestseller lists, but readers are consistently buying my work, and I’m paying my bills working as a writer. My deal with my readers is to keep writing for as long as my readers are willing to keep buying, a true win-win career move for me.

To this day, Dating A Cougar is still free and still brings me many new contemporary romance readers. Recently, I also made The Demon of Synar, the first book in my science fiction romance/space opera series, free. It’s too early to tell, but that seems to be working, too.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
What I like best are the reader tweets, posts, messages, and emails I receive that say I kept them up reading or made them laugh.

What I like least is revising, but I do it out of loyalty to those reading me. I believe readers deserve the best book I can produce. The proofreader I recently hired is a nitpicker extraordinaire. She is seeing all my new work (as of two books ago), but I’m also currently sending her through the backlist.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I’m mostly a “pantzer” because I love writing without a guideline and being surprised by where the characters take me on our journey through the story. However, after finishing 14 books, I find that I sometimes get about two-thirds through the book and have to create a chapter outline to keep plot elements straight. This has happened for 5 out of 14 manuscripts. Some just flow out of me. Others require a different approach.

I do try to write 5-6 days a week, but it varies from book to book. Sometimes I take several days off to “think” through a stopping point or block, and then I come back to write like a mad fiend again. I am blessed to live in a household that supports this kind of crazy schedule. My children are all adults. My fiancée is supportive AND tolerant of my creative muse. I feel blessed.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I read eclectically. I own and still buy the books of celebrated traditional authors in my field. I love Nora Roberts writing as JD Robb which I would call romantic suspense, but it takes place in the future. Today, I think that work might even be “urban fantasy” because so much of the world she has built is futuristic, even the crimes.

For romantic comedy, I read Janet Evanovich (Stephanie Plum series) and Jennifer Crusie (“Bet Me” and her older work). I also like Dan Brown just in general. “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert remains my current favorite NYT list novel in the past five years. If you saw my library, you’d wonder about my tastes.

I admit my list of traditional authors is probably reduced to 4 or 5 these days. For the price of 1 traditional book, I can often buy 3 indie books. As I became an indie myself, I started tripping over really good authors on my journey. Now I find myself hunting the indie lists for a magic combination of great storytelling and unique premise. This is especially true in science fiction romance, fantasy, or paranormal. The rogue element (which may just be pure passion) in indie books is often an exciting, original voice. When I find one I like, I get addicted and have to buy all their work. So in this, I understand and can better appreciate readers who say that to me about my books.

My “indie urges” have led me in science fiction and fantasy romances to read Melisse Aires (cyborg books), Linnea Sinclair (space opera), and the spicy Sylvia Day (specializes in alien sex). I also read HP Mallory (urban fantasy) and Amanda Hocking (YA). I was connected to Mallory and Hocking as a reader of their indie work long before they went traditional.

And now, as you know, I am looking for interesting male voices in science fiction and fantasy. Male authors tend to write exceptional fight scenes, action, and more fact-based novels. I find myself hungry for them. The work is sometimes so steeped in military strategies or socio-political debates that it is inaccessible to my relationship-oriented brain. So I have to sample a lot to find the right combinations.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
I can only speak for my preference. I think the question mark goes outside the quotes if it punctuates the entire sentence. My reader brain says the whole sentence is the question. Yes, some think this breaks a standard grammar rule, but the mark on the outside of the quote more closely follows the original purpose of the quotation marks which is to offset and put special emphasis on the word “successful”. However, I follow the inside rule when writing dialog.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I could reveal the color of my underwear easier than answer this question because these kinds of debates hurt my brain. I think readers don’t care as much as writers do—lol. I use the Oxford comma because my trained-by-six-years-of-an-English-degree brain says it is more right to treat everything in the same list equally. I’ve worked with a variety of editors who have their opinions, so not even all editors agree.

Did you ever read “Eats Shoots And Leaves”? I get the debate, but frankly I spot check my mechanical preferences with fiction writing trends in best-selling novels. Do you know how many ways there are to write ‘t-shirt’? Or correctly spell “blonde”? Did you know that no two editors can agree and that it depends on which dictionary they routinely use? They are just like writers. It is all interpretation.

Did you ever read an NYT list book and think the writing was badly edited or grammatically incorrect? Sure. Did your opinion of the editing keep it off the list? No. Making the list is about book sales and popularity of story. And I have never seen any industry award given for “Best Punctuated Book in Fiction”. I’m not saying good mechanics aren’t important. They are and I’m spending more and more each year trying to edit my books better.

However—it’s hard to worry about the Oxford comma when I’m still trying to figure out what’s so offensive to my author friends who keep critiquing YA’s first person POV. I was trained differently, sure—third person all the way—but that doesn’t mean I don’t think there is room in the English language for all kinds of creativity. What about ee cummings? What about Dr. Suess? I don’t want to judge. Let the editors debate. Let the readers judge. Readers won’t repeat-buy books that are too hard for them to grammatically read.

7. What is your book THE DEMON OF SYNAR about and how did it come to fruition?
Stories always start for me as characters acting out a scene in my head. THE DEMON OF SYNAR, Book 1 of the Forced To Serve series, actually began as a weird dream. After 9 novels, I wanted a break from the contemporary romances and had intended to write a dragon book. I love dragons and dragon books, but I had this dream of a spaceship crew and one of them was hosting a demon. Next thing I know, I have a huge complicated scene playing out in my head. So naturally, I wrote it down.

When I finally lifted my head from the laptop, I was already 80,000 words into the story and obsessive about finishing. It went over 130,000. I felt the book really needed to be two, so I broke the first 45,000 words out. It has all of the world building on the ship and introduction of the characters. It is a novella I call Book One. Books Two to Four are much more fast-paced and action-based, plus they have all exceeded 90,000 words.

Now I have no idea how long this series will go on. Frankly, I love writing fight scenes and planning rescue missions. I love bringing in new characters and getting rid of others as the series progresses. No, I’m not great at all of it yet, but I am good at some things. While I’m learning, I’m having a lot of fun writing a space opera with a demon in it. Who knew? Hopefully, I’ll get to the dragon book next year.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I am currently writing THE HEALER’S KISS which is Book 4 of the Forced To Serve series. After that, I’ll be heading back to one of the contemporary series for my final book this year. My contemporary readers are currently voting on my contemporary blog about which one should come next.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Fantasy author John Marco’s short story “The Hundredth Kill” and his novel, “Starfinder: A Skylord’s novel”. I met John online because his work intrigued me. Later I also learned his wife read my contemporary books, which proves once again how small the world is. Until lately, I hadn’t read much of what is categorized as straight “fantasy” which I define for the purposes of my response as “the romance being optional in a story”. I know I’m not qualified to talk about any better definition of fantasy.

Your book “A Shadow Passed Over The Son” is coming up soon on my list because I want to recommend The Go-Kids series to my friend who is a mother of pre-teen and teen boys. When I can, I buy and read books before passing them along. She was specifically looking for YA for boys.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Literally everything inspires my writing. Anything can inspire a story. Readers who write to me inspire me to write the next book in a series even when I am not sure I can. I will admit that it is dangerous for strangers to talk to me. I really need one of those t-shirts that warn people.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
Ryan, I just want to add my thanks for interviewing me on your blog. I hope your readers take advantage of the free book offer to give my work a try. Happy writing to you. Happy reading to your blog fans!

THE DEMON OF SYNAR can be downloaded for free from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple (via iTunes/iBooks), Kobo, Smashwords, and most ebook retailers.

Wonderful, Donna.

Your books look great, the cover art is outstanding. It won't be long before they're prominently displayed at the checkstand of every grocery store in America.

Be sure to visit Donna's website to view her other books. She is a prolific writer (one of the keys to success in the writing game) and has many other titles.

Monday, November 5, 2012

10 Questions with Suspense Writer Russell Blake (@BlakeBooks)

This author spotlight features acclaimed best-selling author Russell Blake.

Russell Blake was named one of the most popular indie novelists of 2012 and is the bestselling author of seventeen novels, including the thrillers Fatal Exchange, The Geronimo Breach, Zero Sum, King of Swords, Night of the Assassin, Revenge of the Assassin, Return of the Assassin, The Delphi Chronicle trilogy, The Voynich Cypher, Silver Justice, JET, JET II - Betrayal and JET III - Vengeance. Non-fiction includes the international bestseller An Angel With Fur (animal biography) and How To Sell A Gazillion eBooks In No Time (even if drunk, high or incarcerated), a parody of all things writing-related. Blake lives in Mexico and enjoys his dogs, fishing, boating, tequila and writing, while battling world domination by clowns.

Russell is a proud member of RABMAD – Read A Book, Make A difference.

This author spotlight is a focus on Russell's JET series. JET 3 - VENGEANCE (see above) is now available. It is the follow-up to JET (see below)


1. How did you get into writing?
I’ve been a lifelong voracious reader, and one day about a fifteen years ago I woke up and thought, “I could do that.” I tried my hand at a variety of things I was interested in writing, all of which were crap, and eventually I started penning works of fiction. I chucked all the early stuff because it was embarrassingly amateurish, but over time, I noticed that it started sucking less. And eventually, it got to the point where I was willing to show it to a few friends, who were kind, but critical. That convinced me that if I kept at it, I might eventually be able to write something people would be willing to read. Last June, I finally took the plunge and published my first thriller, Fatal Exchange.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I would have to say that the joy of creating whole worlds on paper, and figuring out how to bring the reader into them, is the most gratifying, along with when you nail that one sentence and it sings. The worst thing is what it does to your legs. Sitting for long periods of time is lousy for the anatomy.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I write seven days a week, either a blog, interview, or working on a novel. When I’m writing a novel, I spend 12 hours per day writing, and average seven to eight thousand words a day, if I’ve outlined it. If not, maybe five thousand, as more time is required to figure out what happens next. Nowadays, I do a two to three paragraph outline that is a synopsis of the story, and then about the first fifteen chapter outlines – usually five words or less per chapter so I know what comes next. Then I write.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I think the writer I most admire has to be David Foster Wallace. Infinite Jest is a triumph unlike any other, and should be required reading for those who think, “Show, don’t tell” is some sort of a divine commandment. That book, above all others, redefined what writing could be for me, and although my style is very different, it still remains a seminal work. Robert Ludlum is one whose work is closer to mine in style, and the man knew how to write a thriller. He had an amazing career, and justifiably so. Frederick Forsythe is another icon whose work always inspires and humbles. And lately I’ve been reading James Lee Burke, who is brilliant and thoughtful and everything I aspire to be in terms of his descriptions and use of language.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
Outside. I tend to go with the American convention – commas and periods inside no matter what, question marks logically. If the question mark isn’t part of the quotation being cited, then logically it belongs outside. Although I get into pissing contests with my editor, who is a Brit, as they tend to place periods and commas logically, not monolithically, within or without.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
Ah, the good old serial comma. I think it’s valuable and should be used. Reduces ambiguity and follows the natural cadence of speech. I know there’s a movement to reduce its use, but it’s misguided.

7. What is your book JET about and how did it come to fruition?
While I was writing Silver Justice, which features a no-nonsense female FBI agent protagonist, I started thinking about writing a more over-the-top female protag – sort of a female Jack Bauer crossed with James Bond. Fantastical, large-than-life, nearly bulletproof and invisible. Pure, escapist action thriller fun, with an exotic heroine that you could cheer on, but who also had intriguing depth and flaws. The idea presented itself as “Kill Bill meets Bourne.” And I wanted it to be the fastest-paced book I, or anyone, had ever read. Non-stop. Relentless from the first paragraphs. Tall order, but I am told that the result speaks for itself.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I’m getting ready to start the fourth in the JET series, then the fifth in my Assassin series. Both will released by year’s end. Next year, only four novels. No more. Unless it’s five. But I’m going to shoot for only four.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
None. I can’t read while I’m writing. It tends to color my work too much. And since all I’ve been doing is writing lately, I haven’t had much chance to read. Last book I really, really liked was RS Guthrie’s “Blood Land.” Masterful indie writer with a bright future. Before that, I read Simon Royle’s Bangkok Burn, which was a fun romp in an exotic locale.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
Mostly, pride of craft. We are all still learning as we write – I don’t care how many thousands of hours we’ve amassed – and it’s that desire to achieve personal bests that keeps me at it, tapping away. I suppose the good news is that you get better at it as you progress. The bad news is you never get quite good enough to be satisfied, if you’re like me. Goes with the territory of trying to improve, I guess.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also specify where readers can learn more about you, buy your books, etc.
Ryan, thanks so much for having me on to prattle about my scribbling. Readers can find my 19 novels at my author page on Amazon, and can read my thoughts and musings, such as they are, at my blog, at http://RussellBlake.com.

Thanks, Russell. I thoroughly enjoyed JET and look forward to reading further installments.

Come and visit with us again when JET 4 is ready!

Be sure to check out Russell's books on Amazon or his website. The JET series could be the next Jack Ryan series.