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 รก 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.