Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Author Stop: Jonathan Maberry

I'm very thrilled to welcome Jonathan Maberry(in celebration of the paperback release of Fire and Ash) to the blog so that we can pick his brain! Uh...never...mind? Er-- lets just get to the interview! ;)

1. You're a frequent speaker at conferences: If a writer could only go to one conference a year, which would you most highly recommend?

That’s an unfair question. It’s like asking a parent to choose a favorite child. I go to conventions across America and in other countries. I don’t really have a favorite. Each has certain things they do really well. My sentimental favorite, though, is my hometown conference, the Philadelphia Writers Conference. It’s the first one I ever went to, and I’ve been back there many times as a teacher and speaker. I made a lot of friends there.

On a similar note, the very first genre con I ever went to was DragonCon in Atlanta. I’m not a regular guest there and I absolutely love it. In fact I set the big, horrible disaster ending of my latest novel, CODE ZERO, there. (You only hurt the ones you love.)

2. Do zombies fascinate you more than the scare you? (I'm of the scared variety!):

Shocking as it might sound, I’m not scared of zombies. Or vampires and werewolves. I love writing about monsters, and I love reading monster books and comics, and watching horror movies and TV, but it’s been a long time since one actually scared me. I think the last real jolt I got from fiction was the indie ghost movie, BELOW.

What scares me is what zombies represent. They’re metaphorical storytelling constructs, so each writer tends to use them to tell a story about what really scares them. For me, zombies represent science that is either deliberately misused (as in my novels PATIENT ZERO and the ROT & RUIN series) or science that’s been mishandled and therefore ‘gets out’, as in DEAD OF NIGHT. I love science, I geek out about science, but I’m also deeply afraid of how ineffectual we are at managing it safely, and how unethical we can be in employing it. So, yeah, that scares the crap out of me.

Zombies definitely fascinate me. I was first introduced to the Haitian zombie legends by my grandmother when I was seven or eight. She told me about strange belief systems all over the world. Then when I was ten I encountered the cinematic versions when a buddy of mine and I snuck into the Midway Theater in Philadelphia to see the world premier of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. I was infected right away.

What fascinates me most about the monster is that it truly does mean something different to everyone. In a way it’s that stand in for everyone’s personal boogeyman.

3. Donuts or pancakes? And if neither of those float your boat, what do you eat for breakfast?

I’m an egg man. Ideal breakfast is a goat-cheese and mushroom omelet and a whole lotta coffee. There’s a nice little breakfast place called La Champagne near where I live in Del Mar, California. I go there a few mornings a week and start my day’s writing on my iPad while having a leisurely breakfast. Of all the components in a good breakfast, though, coffee is the centerpiece. I’m searching for that restaurant that will hook me up with an IV drip of it to get my day started. And don’t give me any of that decaf sacrilege or I’ll sick my dog on you.

4. If Benny hadn't taken to killing and lived in a normal world(where your fellow beings didn't try to eat you) what kind of job do you think he'd have ended up doing?

Benny would probably work at a Taco Bell or maybe work as busboy in a restaurant. When we first meet him he’s a long way from being ambitious. He’s not looking for a job because he has a fully functioning work ethic –it’s simply a matter of the town having the regulation that if you’re fifteen or older and you don’t have a job, they cut your rations in half. Once Benny begins (reluctantly) apprenticing with his brother, he discovers his calling and that makes him rise to it. He’s an entirely different person at the end of the fourth book, Fire & Ash.

5. Would you mind sharing one of your fav sentences from Fire & Ash?

It’s more than a line. It’s part of a paragraph, and it’s the key to the final step of Benny’s evolution from feckless boy to powerful young man. It’s something the old ranger, Joe Ledger asks him: “So…I guess you have to ask yourself, young samurai, how far would you be willing to go to stop Saint John if he was coming after you and yours? How scary are you willing to be in order to take the heart out of the enemy? Are you willing to be the monster in the dark? Are you willing to be the boogeyman of their nightmares? If you can look inside your own head and see the line that you won’t cross, the limit that’s too far, then I can guarantee you Saint John will win. No question about it.” Benny goes to a very dark place in order to answer that question.

* * *

Benny Imura and his friends have found the jet and Sanctuary—but neither is what they expected. Instead of a refuge, Sanctuary is a hospice, and the soldiers who flew the plane seem to be little more than bureaucrats who have given up hope for civilization’s future. With Chong hovering between life and death, clinging to his humanity by a thread, Benny makes a startling discovery: A scientist may have discovered a cure for the zombie plague. Desperate to save Chong, Benny and his friends mount a search and rescue mission. But they’re not the only ones on the hunt. The reapers are after the cure too, and they want to use it turn all the zombies into superfast shock troops—and wipe humanity off the face of the earth.

In this riveting conclusion to the Rot & Ruin series, the battle to end all battles is just beginning.

B&N | Amazon

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JONATHAN MABERRY is a New York Times best-selling and multiple Bram Stoker Award-winning horror and thriller author, editor, comic book writer, magazine feature writer, playwright, content creator and writing teacher/lecturer. He was named one of the Today’s Top Ten Horror Writers. His books have been sold to more than two-dozen countries.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

If you'd like to be entered to win a $5 Amazon gift card, please leave a comment(it doesn't have to be about brains) and follow Jonathan at one or more of his social media sites. Winner will be announced via Twitter on 8/29. Congrats to Jonathan on Fire and Ash's paperback debut!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 12)

How I did on last week's goals: My goal was to write 2,500 words. But then that goal changed when I realized I was in the last week of RSW! How did that happen?! Which meant I needed to put the pedal to the medal. I wrote 8000 words...  !AMENDMENT! I was at work when I wrote this, and I knew roughly around the last time I'd counted words, so I went w/that. Now at home, I just did a word count and I actually wrote 13,100 words last week. *squee!*

A fav line(s) from my story:

I dream that night of the farm. Not unusual. What's unusual is that it's a nightmare. I'm in the barn, lying on haybales. A bright, blinding light shines down on me. A form moves out of the dark. It's dad. He holds something up for my inspection. It's not much bigger than his hand, a conglomeration of cogs and gears, screwed together. Then he slams it down into my chest. I scream as it punches through skin, crunches past bone.

"You came back without a heart, Tam. No tim!" He shouts. "I'm fixing you, I'm fixing you!"

The biggest challenge I faced this week: Racing to beat a deadline...

Somthing I love about my WIP: That it's not called that any longer... (Are you guys loving my mysterious use of ellipses yet?)

Summer Recap: My goal for this summer was to finish my WIP, Chain Gang. And...(tee-hee)...I DID IT!!!! This past week was a mad dash of frantic writing. I thought I'd be done on Sunday night and was I so close. I went to bed around midnight and then got up this morning and FINISHED it!!! But I just realized I forgot to write The End, so I need to go back and do that. =) I am so happy guys. SO INSANELY HAPPY. And I'm already looking forward to when I can start tearing it apart in an effort to make it readable. 'Cuz the form it's in right now? *shudders* But I also know revisions won't happen for several months, as me and this word baby need to take a break for awhile.

Many thanks to the ladies who hosted Ready. Set. WRITE!. Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman-- mad props to you for sacrificing your time and talents to make this happen. You all make the writing community just that much more awesome.  I am quite confident that without this summer writing intensive I wouldn't be finished with CG right now. Having people to cheer you along and celebrate your successes(no matter how big or small) is such an inspiring thing. Thank you to everyone who stopped by and left an encouraging comment, as it was much appreciated.

And I shall leave you today w/this quote sign on my desk(courtesy of the superific writing care package I won thru RSW!- Thanks tons, Alison!):

Thursday, August 21, 2014

A Book Party

Last week I attended an Usborne Book Party at my sister-in-laws. I can never resist a chance to help decorate, and a get-together centered around books? I'm there! =) Here are a few pics(plz excuse the cell phone quality):

For food there were mini pork bbq sandwiches(very yummy!), chips and (homemade) salsa, veggies & dip, and berry bites(white choc. cream cheese & assorted berries atop nilla wafers). 

A selection of Usborne books. 

Close up of the quote sign and flowers on the food table. 

Rachael recently became a consultant and if anyone would like to check out her website, I know she'd really appreciate it. She also wanted you all to know that if you become a hostess for a party right now, you can receive double free books...(ooh!) And that's not just for home shows, but eshows as well. Which are pretty convenient b/c you can invite ppl through Facebook and what not. 

As for me, I wanted to share some of the kidlet's Usborne books w/you guys. He really likes them, especially this one:

It's one of the Wipe-Clean books they offer. Since the kidlet is a ninja terror w/pens(you should see the 'artwork' he's left on my walls and the couch...) these books are great. They come w/a marker, but you can even use crayons on it.

This is I'm A Dirty Dinosaur. So cute and I love the juxtapostion of the mud and the bright letters.

Now this book, Big Book of Little Stories, I fell in love w/as soon as I started flipping through it. It's such a gorgeously put together collection. The stories in it are illustrated by different artists, so you get something fresh w/each one.

Look at those endpapers! *sigh* And below you'll find a smattering of the variety of artwork in this book. 


And Usborne also has a huge selection of educational books, which is always great if you're looking to beef up your child's non-fiction selection. The kidlet has this one:

{My camera died, so I pulled this one off the web. And trust me, when they say giant fold-outs, they really mean it...}

Anyhoo, I could go on and on (I love picture books!) but for the sake of not creating a monster post, I shall stop here. But if any of y'all think you'd like to host an ebook show, I know Rachael would love to hear from you. There's a contact form at the bottom of her website. Or if you're not into shows and would like to order a book directly on the website, you can do that as well. I figure I'm going to find that handy-dandy come Christmas time... Because as you can see, the kidlet is totally hurting for books! ;)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 11)

1. How I did on last week's goals: Almost 100%. My goal was to write six days, and I did five. And I didn't put out an amazing word count either, but regardless, it was still forward progress, so yay! 

2. My goals for this week: I haven't done word count goals in a while, so I'm going to set one for 2,500.

3. A fav line(s) from my WIP:  

Lo's sitting in a chair, looking over my sketches of the farm. It's cheap entertainment for him, sniggering over my renditions of the well, the cow pasture, my attempt of the ducks searching for bugs in the yard. 

"Is this...dog poop?" he asks. 

I don't bother looking up. "Ducklings."

"Oh, yeah. Totally...totally see that."

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Just other things going on. I helped my sister-in-law w/a party she threw, and that was a bit of a distraction. As well as switching our TV provider. For a (limited, I'm sure) time, we have all kinds of channels we normally don't get. And book adaptation movies are my weakness. Such as: The Book Thief, Beautiful Creatures, Mortal Instruments. I have them all recorded now! *cackles* 

5. Something I love about my WIP: The friendship between Tam and her cousin, Lo. They grew up more like brother and sister. 

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!

Friday, August 15, 2014

Win Some Books! Like 8 of 'Em!

There are eight awesomesauce YA books by eight awesomesauce authors up for grabs through the Back 2 School Giveaway(created by my cp, Kimberly)! Visit this fun website to enter the Rafflecopter to be eligible to win all this:

The Headhunter's Race by Kimberly Afe
Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. Giarratano
Touching the Surface by Kimberly Sabatini
Stained by Cheryl Rainfield
Thin Space by Jody Casella
Shattered Souls by Mary Lindsey
Catherine by April Lindner
The Caged Graves by Dianne Salerni

So head on over everyone and give yourself a chance to win all the awesomeness!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 10)

1. How I did on last week's goals: Ackshuwally, not good. My goal was to pull up Chain Gang everyday and I did not. But I'm kind of okay w/that, b/c I did finish outlining my ending. Now I know how it's all going to play out. I just need...to write it. I do know fer shure when I'm done w/this story I definitely need to sit it aside for a bit and concentrate on something else.

 2. My goals for this week: Write six days this week, w/one day off.

3. A fav line(s) from my WIP: 

Darcy’s waiting for me. “Where’s your head?” he asks.

“Right here.” I tap my temple.

“It needs to be here.” He reaches out and shakes the chain.

I nod tightly, aware that the monkeys in our vicinity are hanging onto every word. “Guess it’s just first day back jitters.”

“Then get rid of them.” His arm is still stretched past me, gripping the chain. His shirt is off and irritation warms my insides. How hard is it to keep you clothes on?

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Major major burnout. Normally I push myself through it, but not this one. So I allowed myself to be satisfied w/my outline and then just let myself read for the rest of the week. It was nice! And I needed it.

5. Something I love about my WIP: That I think the grand finale of my ending might really turn out as kick-butt as I was hoping. Though the verdict's still out on that, having not actually written it yet... 

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!

Friday, August 8, 2014

My New Writer Spirit-Animal Guide-Totem Birdie

Some of you may remember when I posted an interview w/Tracy Holczer earlier this spring. At the bottom of the post, I had a picture of the adorable little bird creations found on her website. The maker is Jeanette Janson who is my kind of my artist: whimsical and quirky. I quickly checked out her shop and was sad to see there were no birds available. 

The end. 

Oh, crud. That's a horrible story. No, the true story is I follow her blog, and she posted a few weeks ago that she...HAD MORE BIRDS! Now that's more like it. I quickly perused the birds available and fell in love w/this guy. 

1. He had yellow on him, and thus would match my office. I am a bit obsessive when it comes to sticking w/a color palette. White, yellow, grey. All that's allowed. No exceptions.

2: He had keys for wings! I love keys. They're like mysteries you can hold in your hands.

3. He had WORDS on him! 

4. And a gear, which I've always liked, especially on book covers. 

5. And a cute little bell. I love the sound of bells, especially in Christmas songs. Also, b/c of the Abhorsen trilogy. If you don't know what I'm talking about-- go get it. Read it. Thank me later. 

6. That yellow rectangle on him is an advertisement for cannon balls. Cannons make my heart happy. {I have a weird heart.}

 He now hangs in my office as my writer spirit-animal guide-totem birdie. 
And if you're wondering...his name is Boom.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Interview w/Lori M. Lee + A Giveaway!

I am quite excited to have Lori M. Lee on the blog today! She is the owner of the gorgeousness above. *SHINY! makes grabby hands* She graciously answered some of the very thought provoking and hard hitting questions I asked her. ;)

1. If you could pick one book that best represented your childhood to you, what would it be?

Wow, this is a tough one. Maybe The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. It's still one of my favorites, and I related quite a bit to the children. And of course, their adventures through Narnia was an escape from the ordinary that I craved for.

2. Favorite candy and cookie-- and then b/c we're equal opportunity on this blog-- fav healthy snack?

Ha! Fav healthy snack. Good one. *elbow/eyebrow wiggle* My favorite candy changes monthly. Right now, York Peppermints. YUM. Cookie: chunky chocolate chip. And I suppose if I must think of a healthy snack... fruit. I think that counts? Mangoes especially. Mmmm.

3. Writing can be hard, and I know more than once some of us have entertained the thought of quitting (and maybe doing something easy like hand-feeding Great Whites). What advice would you give to a writer who's feeling a bit down and out?

I know "Don't give up" is a cliche, but while it's still absolutely true, it isn't terribly helpful in a practical sense. So here's what *I* do when I'm on the edge. I find one of my favorite books and revisit everything I love about it. It could be the world building, or the way a character transforms from the first chapter to the last, or the author's talent for description, or just a particular evocative passage that strikes you. These are the books that drive me to be better--to not just write a book but to craft a story. As long as the spark is still there, you need only reignite it.

4. Your mc, Kai, has to pick between a denim jacket with rhinestone buttons or a fleece jacket with a hood. What would she go with?

Kai would admire the denim jacket, but she is practical at heart. Survival has always been her main concern. Seeing as Ninurta is pretty warm most months of the year, she wouldn't need the fleece jacket. So she would pick the denim jacket with rhinestone buttons and then sell it. That money could help her and her brother get out of the Labyrinth someday.

5. Could you share one of your favorite sentences from Gates of Thread and Stone?

Death smiled. “Time has ever been my ally.”

* * *

Lori is an avid writer, reader, artist, and lover of unicorns. She should probably spend less time on the internet (but she won't). She has a borderline obsessive fascination with unicorns, is fond of talking in capslock, and loves to write about magic, manipulation, and family. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband, kids, and a friendly pitbull.

 Website | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook 

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Ya'll know I believe in helping everyone achieve more books for our TBR piles, so one lucky commenter will be the winner of a $5 Amazon gift card. Please make sure to follow Lori at one or more of her social media links. Winner will be announced in the comments and on Twitter on 8/9. Here's a little more about GATES OF THREAD AND STONE, which besides having an awesome title, just sounds well...awesome!!!

In a city of walls and secrets, where only one man is supposed to possess magic, seventeen-year-old Kai struggles to keep hidden her own secret—she can manipulate the threads of time. When Kai was eight, she was found by Reev on the riverbank, and her “brother” has taken care of her ever since. Kai doesn’t know where her ability comes from—or where she came from. All that matters is that she and Reev stay together, and maybe one day move out of the freight container they call home, away from the metal walls of the Labyrinth. Kai’s only friend is Avan, the shopkeeper’s son with the scandalous reputation that both frightens and intrigues her.

Then Reev disappears. When keeping silent and safe means losing him forever, Kai vows to do whatever it takes to find him. She will leave the only home she’s ever known and risk getting caught up in a revolution centuries in the making. But to save Reev, Kai must unravel the threads of her past and face shocking truths about her brother, her friendship with Avan, and her unique power.

And lastly, a huge congrats to Lori on her debut!! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Ready. Set. WRITE! (Week 9)

1. How I did on last week's goals: My goal was to write every day on Chain Gang, my main WIP, and not be sidetracked by the MG and short. And I did it! Every day I pulled CG up and worked on it for a total of 7,300 words.

2. My goals for this week: Same thing. 

3. A fav line(s) from my WIP: 

“Why are you telling me this?”

A breeze ruffles my hair across my face. I’m slow in tucking it away. “Because…I thought…you could come with me.” My voice is small, as insignificant as our perch on the side of the megalith.

He gathers my hair into his fist at the side of my neck. His knuckles are warm, pressing into my pulse. “I want to be with you, Tam. But your ‘plan’ is suicide.” 

The cool derision in his voice hits me like a slap in the face.

4. The biggest challenge I faced this week: Burn out. I'm in the homestretch, but perversely it feels like every word is pushing me farther back. A new scene will beget a new scene will beget a new scene and now that I'm drawing to a close, I'm finding all sorts of ends that need tied up. Stop it ends, stop it! 

5. Something I love about my WIP: I've said it once, but I'll say it again: my main guy character, Darcy(that's him sounding like a class A jerk in the above excerpt, btw). I get butterflies even just typing his name! How pathetic is that? I've liked my other guy characters perfectly well, but there is just something about Darcy that's gotten under my skin. I'm thinking maybe b/c I dreamed him? {In the same dream that I got the idea for Chain Gang from.}

Before I go, here's a new pic I pinned to my Chain Gang storyboard. I'm a sucker for white lights!

{Like truly, if there were a support group for white light lovers, I should join.}

RSW! is a summer writing intensive hosted by Erin L. FunkJaime MorrowAlison Miller, & Katy Upperman. Visit any of these lovely ladies' blogs for a full list of RSW! participants. Have a great week of writing everyone!