Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Interview with sci-fi writer David Erik Nelson

Sci-fi writer David Erik Nelson joins me today to talk about a short serial with romantic leanings called Expiration Date, a serial written as part of the Arbor Teas Summer Reading Series (which just completed on Thurs, Aug 17, so you can read the entire story!)

David Erik Nelson is an award-winning science-fiction author and essayist. His fiction has appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and elsewhere. His non-fiction includes DIY books like Junkyard Jam Band and Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred

What do you enjoy most about writing short stories?
Narrative is what changes people's minds. Not facts, not arguments; stories. Once someone has a story in their head, they are going to disproportionately favor the facts and arguments that support that story. So, if I want to see the arc of the moral universe bend toward justice, then the way to do that is in writing stories that encourage folks to consider where they lie along that arc, where they want to be along that arc, and what they have to do to assure that arc doesn't relax toward its default state of *shrug* it's all relative, man.

Can you give us a little insight into a few of your short stories – perhaps some of your favorites?
Oof. That's always a hard one, because it's so difficult for me to even look at a story I've written once it's been published (all the little places you could have made it better just jump out at you). That said, a story I wrote a few years ago tends to land pretty well with folks who ask me where they should start with my work, or what to read next after they've stumbled across something of mine they like. That story, which was first published in Asimov's magazine in 2013 and has since been translated a few times, is "The New Guys Always Work Overtime." It's pretty easy to find online.

What genre are you inspired to write in the most? Why? I like writing that's triggered by Big Questions, and so science fiction is a pretty natural place for me. But I'm also really interested in relationships in general, and the emotional demands of peoples' situations. Because of my personality, this has mostly drawn me to horror--but as is the case in Expiration Date, this can just as easily lend itself to romance. Those two genres are opposite sides of the same coin.

What exciting story are you working on next? I'm actually pretty excited about another novella, which is just hitting newsstands now in the latest issue of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction (https://www.sfsite.com/fsf/toc1707.htm). It's the cover story, titled "There Was a Crooked Man, He Flipped a Crooked House."

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I was 15 years old I went on a big school hiking trip. It was a long backcountry trip, with heavy packs (I think mine weighed 90 lbs when we left camp--no joke), and I wasn't in the best shape in the world, so I couldn't really talk while I was hiking. Because I was too out-of-breath to run at the mouth, I spent a lot of time thinking, and what I was thinking about--slowly, ponderously, step-by-step through the Smoky Mountains--was this story I wanted to write. It was sort of an overblown, overly symbolic, overly structurally clever thing, and I'm embarrassed by it now, but I had all that time to think, and I needed to distract myself, and so I thought it through in this very complete way that I hadn't really thought an idea through before. When I got home I started writing, and I worked on it basically everyday after school for the next year, first very slowly drafting it, then very, very slowly revising it, just sorta jazzed to be sunk into the story like that. Then I had this story in hand, so I submitted it to the school literary magazine at the last minute--the absolute last minute, maybe even a few minutes after the last minute.

But they got really excited about it. That story seemed gargantuan to me at the time--I mean, it took a whole year, right? And it certainly struck them as a big and meaty piece of writing, a "real story." (Incidentally, I had call to look at it again recently, and had to laugh: It's hardly 4,000 words. It's probably one of my shorter pieces that's been "published.")

Anyway, when they put the issue out at the end of the year--I hadn't really thought ahead to that point, when folks would read this story. That was terrifying. This story was the thing I'd been doing alone in my bedroom for the last year. I challenge any 15-year-old boy to be excited about anyone finding out what he'd been doing alone in his bedroom after school for the last year.

But the thing was, people read that story and people liked it (or, if they didn't like it, they certainly didn't bother seeking me out to say so--there was no Internet yet, and thus the inclination to zoom up and yell at someone for doing something that doesn't perfectly please you was an as-of-yet unexplored American pass time).

More importantly girls--girls I didn't even really know--read it and liked it and said that to me, their eyes wide.

Because they were impressed.

I could write a thing--I could work at it, in my room, alone, typing and backspacing and typing again, pacing, reading aloud, crossing out lines, revising, typing more--and the result would be that girls I didn't even know would be impressed with me.

That was pretty powerful motivation for a chubby, clumsy, loudmouthed kid with no other real dating prospects.

How do you research markets for your work, perhaps as some advice for writers?
I guess I'm sort of a traditionalist: Because I grew up reading sci-fi in the library and staring at the magazine racks at Waldenbooks, and because I like those sort of "golden age" Big Idea stories, I tend to gravitate towards the older print publications, like Asimov's and The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. But there is a lot of really exciting stuff happening now, because of how the Internet flattens and democratize the ability to distribute fiction. Online venus like Strange Horizons and Clarkesworld and Tor.com publish great stuff, treat authors well, and work hard to really promote the work they publish. Also, podcasts have created a new channel (and demand) for old-style audio drama and oral/aural storytelling. I've not had a ton of luck cracking those markets, but I love them. The Truth and Pseudopod are consistently good, as is the podcast for Nightmare magazine. Finally, now that ebooks have a solid foothold among the reading public, there are many interesting anthologies being pulled together by both traditional processes (i.e., an editor has an open call for submissions, selects pieces, puts together a book) and less traditional means (authors team up on their own to produce a huge multi-author genre anthology--things that run thousands of pages, and would just be functionally impossible to print economically). Many of these are wildly popular, and can be lucrative.

As for how to research markets: I've always worked with paying markets, because that was important to me. But it not be as important to other writers, who may have different goals (i.e., reaching a specific audience, winning awards, etc.) When I'm looking for new markets, I look at authors whose work I like, or who I feel an artistic kinship to, and see where they've had pieces published. I also look out for publications where editors I like are working (for example, I've never sold anything to Ellen Datlow, but I like her taste in fiction, and so I keep pitching stuff her way). Finally, I look at the Recommended Reading/Honorable Mention lists that accompany the major awards (Hugo, Nebula, etc.), or that editors put out alongside their big "Best Of" and "Years Best" anthologies; the places that originally published those stories are the magazines these folks are looking at, and so even if the pay is small, knowing that this magazine has an engaged readership is valuable.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I subvocalize almost constantly. Like, this sentence I'm typing right now, I'm thinking about saying it as I'm typing it. I can feel it on my tongue. It's the same when I'm reading (and a big part of why I'm such a slow reader). Almost every thought I have is composed as an imagined dialogue with someone. Very little of what I say is spontaneous at all. I guess, for a lot of people, their process of reading/writing as actually fairly divorced from their process of speaking/hearing. For me they're mashed into a single thing.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I remember very clearly wanting to be--in a job sense--was an archeologist. Part of that had to do with how big the world is and how much has happened on it. The rest had to do with Indiana Jones.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Nope. They've been patient enough with me; it's summer! Go eat popsicles and throw water balloons are your kids!


Thank you for being here today, David!

Monday, August 21, 2017

Interview with contemporary romance author Kristina Mathews

Welcome readers. I’m helping romance author Kristina Mathews kick off a virtual book tour for her new contemporary romance, Diving In (A Swift River Romance #3).

During her virtual book tour, Kristina will be giving away a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Welcome, Kristina. Please share a little bit about your current release.
The sweetest revenge . . .

He’s the Swift brother who got left behind, the son abandoned by his father. Now Kyle Swift is a man determined to destroy the whitewater rafting empire built by the half-brothers he never knew, the Swift sons who got the life—and the love—he was denied. Seducing Fisher Jones isn’t part of his revenge, but sharing a bed with the beautiful whitewater instructor is the one bright spot in his otherwise dark plan. That is, if he manages not to fall for the sad-eyed beauty . . .

Fearless when it comes to facing even the most daunting river rapids, Fisher never takes chances with her love life—until the night she gets swept away by a sexy stranger. But when her one-night stand unexpectedly shows up in her whitewater class, Fisher faces her greatest challenge yet: keeping her heart safe from a man determined to put an end to the family business—and the life—she holds dear. . .

What inspired you to write this book?
The first book in the series was inspired by my husband and his brother, both former raft guides. They came home from fishing one day with a story of how they had jumped in the river to save some guy who had fallen in and was struggling with the current. I changed the two married brothers to single twins, the man to a woman, and the rest of the story took off from there. The first two books feature the twins and the women they fall in love with while running their rafting business. Fisher, the heroine of this third book has had a crush on Cody, her boss, throughout the first two books, but he only sees her as a friend. I fell in love with Fisher and knew she needed her own HEA. She thinks it would be easier to quit after he’s married, but she’s promoted instead. She tries to get over her crush with a one-night stand, but finds out her anonymous lover is a student in her whitewater guide school. He also happens to be a long-lost half-brother intent on buying out the company.

Excerpt from Diving In:
When it was his turn, Kyle was determined to make a good impression. On his fellow students, but mostly on his instructor. He wouldn’t be too cautious or too cocky. He would show that he’d been paying attention, soaking in Fisher’s words of encouragement and instruction.

He gave the commands. “Forward paddle. Stop. Left back.”

His crew did exactly as he instructed. The raft was perfectly positioned. Except the current was faster than he anticipated. They were headed straight toward the rock in the middle of the rapid. He used his paddle to make a correction, but he dug in a little too deep and he managed to spin them three hundred sixty degrees around. They hit the rock dead on, and the front of the boat lifted in the air, almost vertical, and everyone went flying into the river.

Well, not everyone. Kyle felt himself being jerked backward and tossed to the floor of the boat like a fish. He scrambled to a sitting position and found Fisher was maneuvering the raft through the rapid.

“I’m sorry. I guess I screwed up.” Kyle couldn’t remember the last time he’d admitted to a mistake. He’d made plenty, but never admitted them. But for some reason, he knew Fisher already knew he was in over his head, and she’d call bullshit if he tried to deny it.

“Help pull the crew back in,” she commanded as they came alongside the swimmers. “We’ll talk about it when everyone can benefit.”

Leia was the closest and Kyle was able to get her aboard; then she helped pull Brett into the raft while Fisher grabbed Nolan.

“Well, that was interesting.” Nolan shook his head and ran his fingers through his wet hair.

“Kyle has just demonstrated the dump truck move.” Somehow, Fisher kept her cool. Made it almost seem normal. “And the important thing is that he was able to account for all the passengers.”

What a loser. Instead of impressing her, he nearly drowned his fellow students.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m heading north, to a fictional small town at the base of Mt. Shasta. There will be outdoor recreation, such as hiking, skiing, and fly-fishing. Secrets, crystals, and small-town politics. A billionaire who wants to be a handyman, a world class skier who wants to save his hometown ski resort, and a female fly-fishing guide who wants to keep her father’s memory alive while fighting off the development of the historic town.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always been a writer. I used to keep journals to get me through my teen years. I started my first Romance back in 1993 but never finished it. The premise of that story is the book Miranda writes in In Too Deep (A Swift River Romance #2). I started several books after my second son was born and I quit teaching in 2002, but I didn’t really take that next step toward publication until 2010 when I joined Romance Writers of America.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I also work as a para educator (teacher’s aide) mostly working with emerging and developing readers. I do tell my students that I write Romance novels (kissing books to the younger kids) that they can read when they are older. During the school year I write in the evenings and on weekends. I post on social media before school and on my lunch break.

I’d like to say I get a lot of writing done in the summer, but not necessarily. Sometimes I am more productive when I’m busy. I find that when I have all day to work on my book, I spend too much of it revamping my website, engaging on social media, reading blogs or craft books to inspire my writing, and I tend to not get down to writing new scenes until the afternoon or evenings. But some of the other stuff is necessary, too. Even watching old romantic comedies helps me to see what works for me and what doesn’t.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I get my best ideas in the shower. Or the car. Or anywhere where I can’t get to my computer. I do often jot ideas on the notes app on my phone. If I handwrite notes to myself I usually can’t read them later. I can teach a Kindergartener how to write their name, but I can’t print worth beans when my brain is bursting with a plot twist or secret a character reveals to me unexpectedly.  

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A baseball player, musician, astronaut, teacher, Princess Leia. The great thing about being a writer is that I can be all those things. Well, maybe not Princess Leia. Except on Halloween, I usually dress as her to hand out candy to Trick-or-Treaters. This year, I went as Fisher, the heroine in Diving In. I wore the lifejacket my husband gave me for our anniversary and my board shorts, sun protective shirt and river sandals.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I’d just like to thank each and every one of my readers. I still get a little overwhelmed by the idea that I have fans.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon author | Goodreads | BookBub | Barnes and Noble | Kobo | Amazon buy link | iTunes

Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

Friday, August 18, 2017

Interview with author Jody Summers

Author Jody Summers joins me today to talk about her supernatural thrillers, Dark Canvas and its sequel, The Mask Maker.

Born in New Orleans, Jody Summers' life has been filled with unconventionality. The adopted son of a prominent Texas restaurateur, Jody grew up in New Orleans, Memphis and then Houston, learning the restaurant business while he built a career as a competitive gymnast that propelled him to a scholarship at the University of Kansas.

After college, Jody followed in his father’s footsteps owning, at one point, three 24-hour restaurant franchises along with four tanning salons in Tulsa. Finally leaving that business, he turned his entrepreneurial skills to everything from a patent in the Pet Industry to a Single’s website.

A restaurateur, a gymnast, a stunt man, an entrepreneur, a pilot, skydiver, scuba diver, and an accomplished martial artist for twenty-five years, Jody Summers has tried it all. Now he brings all those experiences to paper in his first novel, the supernatural thriller, Dark Canvas.

Welcome, Jody. Please tell us about Dark Canvas.
When artist, Kira McGovern mixes paints with the ashes of the dead, she discovers her extraordinary gift, but it also leads her to some horrifying crimes in this psychological thriller of a novel.

It seems innocent enough at first, thought Kira McGovern---mixing her dead mother’s ashes with paint to create a tribute painting. What a way to personalize and immortalize her mom’s memory! The idea so ensnares her that she forms a new business, Canvas of Life, to do just that for others. As she begins with her first clients, something inexplicable occurs: Kira experiences segments of the dead person’s life. In dreams and visions, she begins to receive images, some are gratifying, some unpleasant and some of them are downright deadly.

Sean Easton is a Kansas farm boy with a special talent he is just beginning to understand. His father, too, has recently died, but something sinister still lingers on the farm. When he takes his father’s ashes to Kira as a pretense to meet her, he not only falls in love but makes some startling discoveries about his own life as well, and as Kira begins to paint with Sean’s father’s ashes the real terror begins….

                                    Sometimes Secrets Don’t Stay in the Grave.

The sequel, The Mask Maker picks up where Dark Canvas left off and as a result of their previous experiences; Sean and Kira find themselves involved in a deadly chase for a unique and gruesome arsonist with unpredictable results.

I have another book I am about to release which is also a thriller, however with a bit less supernatural tilt than Dark Canvas. It is called The Mayan Legacy.

I am also finishing the first draft of Mental Marauder which is the third installment in the Dark Canvas series.

What inspired you to write Dark Canvas?
A lovely lady I had a chance date with was actually painting with the ashes of the deceased, cremains, as she calls them, and it occurred to me that as much as I’ve read (and trust me that’s a lot) I had never read anything like this before, and the notion of writing something new under the sun fascinated me so that I just jumped on it.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I believe my next endeavor will be a Sci-Fi novel tentatively entitled “The Amazing Enigma of Aiden Quiver. His name is an acronym that I will share with everyone at a later date.

Stay tuned!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
LOL. Somewhere AFTER I finished Dark Canvas. Even though I’ve written hundreds of poems over the years

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I am currently making a living in the oil and gas business as a permit agent. Therefore, most of my writing comes early in the morning or is dictated when I’m driving. I hope for that to change in the near future.

I also have a number of producers evaluating Dark Canvas for a movie. Fingers crossed.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I like to change perspective frequently, even within a paragraph. I like offering the observations from more than one person in a scene while still keeping it abundantly clear who is speaking. This little quirk gives editors fits.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had no clue as a child. Later, I wanted to be an Olympic gymnast.

The next thing I KNEW I wanted to be when I grew up was a writer….figured that one out at age 50.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
My books are going to keep coming but as you can already tell in addition to the Dark Canvas series, I’m jumping genres, I already have a sci-fi plot that I mentioned earlier which I intend to tackle right after I finish the third book in the Dark Canvas series, which means later this year or early next year.

I already have the first draft of another novel, a religious thriller I plan to edit and finish entitled The Note from Christ.

I don’t plan to abandon the Dark Canvas series, though; I have plots in mind for at least two more in the series already.

As Robert Jordan, one of my favorite authors, said, “I intend to continue writing until they nail my coffin shut.” Which he did by the way with his brilliant Wheel of Time series.

Also, along with my hero Dean Koontz, I love to read Clive Cussler novels and would love to write a story someday to emulate his style of fast paced action and adventure comingled with a touch of history.


Thank you for being here, Jody! 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Interview with romantic comedy author Brooke Williams

Author Brooke Williams is here today and we’re chatting about her new romantic comedy The Leftover.

Brooke Williams is a former radio producer/host turned stay-at-home mom/freelance writer/author. She specializes in romantic comedy with titles like Accept this Dandelion and the upcoming The Leftover. She also writes blogs and web content for a number of clients. Brooke has been married to her husband Sean since 2002 and they have two daughters, Kaelyn and Sadie.

Welcome, Brooke. Please tell us about your current release.
The Leftover places a shy, socially awkward girl on a TV show similar to Survivor, only in a local manner. She doesn’t think she’ll do well and it shows! After mishaps abound, she starts to gain confidence. It’s a fun book with lots of contests, oh, and there’s a cute medic across the beach as well.

What inspired you to write this book?
I always watch these reality type shows and wonder what it someone more like me was on it. Someone awkward who wasn’t all athletic and confident all the time. That gets the wheels spinning in my head and the characters form!

Excerpt from The Leftover:

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have another short story coming out this winter called Another Backwards Christmas. I wrote Backwards Christmas last year about a town called South Pole, Alaska in which they do all of the Christmas traditions backwards. They hang Christmas trees upside down from the ceiling and they take presents TO Santa, that sort of thing. This story takes place in that same town with different characters. IT can be read after the first story or on its own.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I still pinch myself when people ask what I do and I am able to tell them I am a writer. I guess I considered myself an author when my first romantic comedy “Wrong Place, Right Time” was picked up by a publisher. I considered myself a writer (freelance writer) when I started getting paid for writing jobs.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Not quite. I’m a mom first and my girls don’t always allow me much time, but I write as much as I can and somehow manage to get in over 200 blogs a month for clients. Writing is like breathing to me. It’s something I feel like I HAVE to do. I love it and I can’t imagine a day without it. That being said, I fully plan to make it my full-time career once my girls are both in school. That’ll be another year. Until then, I get by with what time they allow me!

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I write about as fast as I can think. People are amazed at how fast things come out and how quickly I type!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A Video Quick Stop Girl. Back then, they had movie stores to rent movies, but there was also this little phone booth sized thing outside where you could drive up and ask for a certain movie. IF they had it, you could check it out. I thought that was totally cool and wanted to work there.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Writing, to me, is an escape from everyday stresses. I hope reading what I write does the same for you! If so, I’ve done my job!


Thank you for being here today.