Nine Questions with… Daniel Sherrier

Today, on the FlipSide, we have an interview with Daniel Sherrier, author of RIP: Touch and Earths in Space Volume 1: Where Are The Little Green Men?. Welcome Daniel, why don’t you take a moment to introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

DanielSherrier headshotHi, I’m Daniel, and I write science fiction, paranormal fantasy, and some comedy here and there. I launched my first e-book series at the end of last year and a second a couple of months later. They’re called Earths in Space and RIP. The former explores alternate human civilizations on other Earths throughout the universe, and the latter involves a guy physically beating up ghosts. (I don’t mind if you break away for a moment to plug those titles into your Amazon and B&N search engines for a quick download. Go on. No, really. I insist.)

Previously, people have deemed some of my play scripts fit for public performance. I graduated from the College of William & Mary with a degree in English and Theatre, so you can guess how rich I’m not. I’m getting ready to test for my black belt in Thai kickboxing. Also, I once jumped out of an airplane. That sure was something.

Thank you Daniel; tell us about your writing process?

I start with a tentative outline, and by “outline,” I mean rambling stream-of-conscious ideas pouring onto my word processor. In the midst of that rambling, I figure out a basic structure, and when I think I have a beginning, middle, and end in mind, I plot the early scenes in greater detail until I’m ready to face that dreaded blank page.

While writing, I break one of the “rules.” I edit as I go. Several reasons for this, but the big one is to build my own confidence by reassuring myself that I am indeed capable of smoothing out that horrific first draft.

Music is essential throughout the entire process, especially soundtrack music.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I’ve always wanted to write comic books. That’s actually why I started writing in the first place when I was nine years old. I’d be thrilled to write Superman in any medium. I’d also love to write a huge, sprawling X-Men novel, independent of official comic book continuity – I’ve even made some notes regarding such a concept. The ideas started coming to me, and they kept coming. Now if only I had the rights…

If only… What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut: Vonnegut showed me how to write outside the box and have fun with it.

The Diaries of Adam of Eve by Mark Twain: I loved the alternating first-person narrators. It got me thinking about point-of-view.

Daredevil: Born Again by Frank Miller: My favorite comic book storyline, and it’s much more than your typical super-hero fare. A man is broken down and figures out how to rebuild himself. It showed me how action-packed entertainment can be about something.

The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling: A superb series, especially the middle three books. Rowling juggles quite a bit, and almost all of it is fun and addicting.

The Sandman series by Neil Gaiman: It’s a master class in imagination.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

I’ll go with the Earths in Space cast, at least some of them. This is a tough one, and I wouldn’t mind casting talented unknowns, but here’s who springs to mind for some of the characters:

Amena…Gillian Jacobs (Community)

Kaden…Sean Maher (Firefly)

Sela…Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars)

Whit…Greg Grunberg (Heroes)

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I’d re-read that list to make sure my eyes aren’t going. Then I’d wonder what parallel reality I stumbled into.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

A weekly ice latte gives me a nice boost. I’ve never been able to mix alcohol and writing. That kind of drink merely makes me lazy.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

General assorted stuff. I spend time with my three-year-old niece, and it was with great pride I introduced her to The Muppet Show not long ago. For exercise, I take a kickboxing class. I always enjoy a good play, TV show, book, comic book…I’m a sucker for great, addicting entertainment.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

Here’s the beginning of the second RIP novelette, “Alone.”

Friday was deader than usual. Pamela felt the reason why the moment she stepped outside and started shivering. Her heavy wool jacket afforded her some protection, but her exposed face chilled in the breeze while her scarf sat uselessly on the passenger’s seat of her car. She had meant to bring it inside, but she had a lot on her mind.

Pamela shoved the wooden door into place while securing a stack of books beneath her other arm. She turned the key and gave the knob a pull to make sure it shut properly. Maybe someday the board of trustees would toss them the funds to get the thing fixed, but she expected to have said good riddance by then. As long as nothing broke off on her watch, she could live with the cranky old building’s stubbornness.

Thank you Daniel! Now let’s take a peek into RIP: Touch…

RIP 1 TouchOpening yourself up to a whole new world can leave you vulnerable — but it’s the only way to grow. That’s what Rip Cooper has to do when he learns he can perceive ghosts with his five senses as if they were flesh and blood people, and he’s just as solid to them — in fact, the only solid thing to them. This young loner has to overcome his fears and kill dead people to prevent them from corrupting the living. He works alongside an impure angel and his ex-best friend’s ex-girlfriend as they teach him how love can conquer fear.

RIP is a series of novelettes that tell one larger coming-of-age and redemption story.

In this premiere episode, “Touch,” Rip may be a successful freelance photographer making a name for himself in a new town, but personally, he’s in a rut. No friends, no goals, no greater purpose. He’s going through the motions…until the “angel” Serissa informs him he’s “one of the Seven.”

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will whisk you away to Amazon!

If you’d like to connect with Daniel you can find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, or his Amazon Author Page.

Don’t forget to join my next week when I will be interviewing author Lorne Oliver!

Seasons of Death and Echoes of Death Book Tour: An Excerpt from Seasons of Death

The FlipSide is presenting an excerpt from Seasons of Death by Marlene Mitchell and Gary Yeagle. First let’s start off by finding out a bit about the authors…

MarleneMitchellMarlene Mitchell: Originally from St. Louis, Marlene makes her home in Kentucky now. A mother and  grandmother, Marlene has a wide range of interests including watercolor and oil painting,  yet writing has always been her passion. That comes through loud and clear in her wonderful novels! These novels reflect a genuine sincerity with very strong characters to which her readers can relate. To quote Marlene: “It took me a long time to start writing, but now I can’t stop. The stories just keep on coming.”

GaryYeagleGary Yeagle: Gary Yeagle was born and raised in Williamsport, Pa., the birthplace of Little League Baseball. He grew up living just down the street from the site of the very first Little League game, played in 1939. He currently resides in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife and four cats. He is the proud grandparent of three and is an active member of the Jeffersontown United Methodist Church. Gary is a Civil War buff , and enjoys swimming, spending time at the beach, model railroading, reading, and writing.

Now let’s get to that excerpt! From Seasons of Death

The man nodded his head in an affirmative fashion, smiled, leaned over and unzipped the bag.  When he stood back up he held a large pocket knife in his hand, which he proceeded to open as he displayed the knife to Asa.  A broad smile came to Asa’s face.  He realized the joke was coming to an end.  He was now going to be freed and he, his pals, and the man would all have a good laugh.  But then the man leaned over once again and extracted something else from the bag; a roll of duct tape.  Asa watched silently. The man brought the tape up to his mouth, where with the use of his teeth, he gripped the edge of the loose end and pulled the roll forward, stopping when a six-inch section appeared, at which point the man cut it.  He then stuck the knife into the trunk of a nearby tree and hung the roll on the knife.  Asa was once again confused. He looked toward the tree line for his friends, then back to the man who was again smiling. He was about to say something when the man placed his index finger across his lips indicating that Asa should be silent, then placed the tape across Asa’s mouth and smoothed it to ensure a tight fit.  Asa’s objection sounded like nothing more than muffled, indescribable words.

The man removed the knife and tape from the tree and placed them back in the bag. “I realize that taping your mouth may seem a bit uncomfortable but it’s necessary. We wouldn’t want anyone who just happens to be out walking in the woods this morning to hear you screaming…now would we?”

The man then pulled a pair of old brown gloves from his coat pocket, and after wiggling his fingers into them, leaned over and removed some sort of a tool from the bag that he held up in front of Asa’s face.  As Asa stared at the heavy-duty lopping shears he once again began to object, the only sound coming from his taped mouth was senseless mumbling.  “Now, now,” said the stranger. “You need to calm down so I can explain what is going to happen. I want to make sure you understand.”  Examining the shears, he explained, “I’ve had this tool for years.  I originally purchased it to cut unwanted branches down from the trees in my backyard.  It really does work quite well: a fifteen inch, heavy-duty wooden handles with plastic grips, four inch blades that can snap anything from a small twig up to a sizable branch.”  Reaching up he placed the shears around a two-inch, low hanging branch and with both hands squeezed the handles, the sharp blade snapping the branch off instantly. The sharp snap sent a shiver through Asa’s body.  “Everyone should own one of these,” said the man.  “You see it can be used for many other things…like locks.  Just last week I went out to my storage shed and wouldn’t you know it, I had lost the key.  Then, I thought about my lopping shears.  They did the trick. Cut right through that metal lock like a hot knife through butter. Cutting through skin and bone should be a piece of cake.”  Reaching out he took Asa’s left hand and balanced it on his raised knee, placing the shears around Asa’s pinky finger. Asa’s eyes grew wide with fear. He tried to pull his arm back, but the duct tape restricted his movement. The man gripped his arm tightly and then lopped off the little finger.  Following a spurt of blood the finger fell to the ground as Asa let out a scream that sounded like the lowing of cattle.  As the stranger reached for his right hand Asa resisted as best he could.  The man, growing impatient with Asa’s feeble struggling brought the lopping shears down across Asa’s right knee.  The instant pain in his leg captured Asa’s attention for the next second at which point the man calmly grabbed his right hand and repeated the lopping shear process, Asa’s right pinky falling to the ground.

The man leaned the now bloody shears up against the trunk of a nearby tree then placed his hands on his hips, admiring his handy work.  Asa’s muffled screaming and weak attempts to loosen himself from his restraints caused the man to smile. He sat on a tree stump, removed a pipe from his trench coat pocket and pointed the pipe at Asa. “The more you thrash around the worse it’s going to get.  The faster your heart beats the more blood you’ll lose.  If you will try to remain calm the loss of blood will not be so rapid.  You might want to cup your hands to slow down the process of bleeding out.”  Looking down at his slightly blood smattered trench coat, he remarked, “Good thing I wore this old coat. I knew this was going to be messy work.”

Asa stared at his hands, his two blood-stained little fingers lying on the ground at his feet, blood slowly dripping from where his fingers moments earlier had been attached.  He couldn’t believe what had just happened.  His heart was racing and it felt like the life-giving muscle would pop right through his heaving chest.  Placing his head back against the tree he closed his eyes and tried to scream but it was to no avail.  Taking the stranger’s advice he slowly cupped his hands. The bleeding didn’t seem to slow, but rather than dripping directly down to the ground the blood momentarily delayed its flow where the fingers had been severed. Within seconds it ran across his hands forming a small ever-growing pool of blood in his palms, then dripped in between his fingers and onto the ground.

Getting up, the man walked over to the tree and wiped Asa’s forehead with a white handkerchief that he had taken from his trench coat. “There, there now, you’re really sweating. Try and relax. The pain you are feeling is nothing more than mental.  If you’ll calm down I’ll tell you why all of this is happening.”

Fantastic huh? Let’s take a look at Seasons of Death

SeasonsofDeathCoverIn the fall of 1969 in the mountains of eastern Tennessee, a poor backwoods farmer and his wife were brutally shot and killed by four drunken hunters, along with their three dogs, horse and two fawns. The farmer’s two young sons managed to escape but were unable to identify the killers. Now decades later, the murders of the Pender family remain unsolved. In Townsend, Tennessee, in Blount County, someone has decided to take revenge.

And Echoes of Death

EchoesofDeathCoverIt’s springtime in the Smokies and despite the four murders of the previous year, tourists from every corner of the country have made the journey to Townsend, Tennessee. The hiking trails are packed, the restaurants are jammed, and the campsites are full. Vacation season is in full swing in the peaceful side of the Smokies.

But then… there is another murder.

Don’t forget to click on the covers to be whisked away to Amazon!

Nine Questions with… Nicole Storey

This Wednesday, the FlipSide hosts an interview with Nicole Storey, author extraordinaire! For those of you unacquainted with Nicole, let’s take a moment to let her introduce yourself to the captive audience.

IMG_0679 (2)Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog, Julianne! I live in the hot and humid part of Georgia (really, is there any part of GA that isn’t hot and humid?) with my two amazing children, my wonderful husband, two rambunctious cats, and a privileged hamster. When I’m not writing, I enjoy cooking, gardening, reading, and anything to do with Halloween! It’s my favorite holiday. J

Tell us about your writing process?

I really wish I could say that I have a writing process! Ha-ha! Unlike many authors, I usually write by the seat of my pants. Generally, I come up with ideas and titles, which I keep in a folder. When I get ready to write, one of the first things I do is search for a book cover. Beautiful cover art is as important to me as what goes inside the book and it also inspires me when I write the story. I tend to avoid outlines, as my characters tend to take on lives of their own and I am left tagging along at their mercy.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

I write juvenile fantasy and YA paranormal. I feel like this is where I am strongest and don’t feel the need (right now) to write in other genres.

That’s a fair answer. Tell us about the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

I think I could sum this up better if I use a mixture of authors and books. I’ve read so many in my life that I can’t possibly choose only five!

When I was a little girl, C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series was my favorite and I still love it. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was the first book to introduce me to fantasy and cinched my love for reading.

As a teen, I read almost every book Dean Koontz came out with and that was when I realized I wanted to write one day, too. Koontz has a way of mixing the bizarre with everyday life and making it believable. That is one of the most important ingredients in a good book – the reader has to believe it.

Two authors in particular gave me the push I needed to stop dreaming about writing books and actually put pen to paper. Kim Harrison takes extraordinary characters with paranormal powers and brings them down to earth. The reader begins to wonder if perhaps their next-door neighbor might me a witch or a vampire. You can’t help but see people in a different light after reading her stories. I contacted Kim and was pleased to find out that she is just as personal as her characters are. She has been a huge help to me in my writing endeavors.

J.K. Rowling showed me that anything is possible. She was a mother of a little child, flat broke and living in poverty, and yet she never gave up her dream. She persevered. I knew that if she could do it, then so could I.

Lastly, I have to say that other Indie writers (there are too many to name) that I have met on my journey have definitely influenced me, hounded me, picked me up when I was down and ready to give up, and are always there for me. I must give a shout out to author Sean Sweeney. He was the first Indie author I met and has been a shining light when things get dark – always showing me the way. Also, my publisher from Inknbeans Press, Jo Lowe, who read my work and decided that I was good enough to take a chance on. It is a wonderful feeling to know that someone out there believes in me.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

This is a hard question to answer, as I don’t watch a lot of T.V. or movies. LOL!

NO TV or movies?? How do you relax Nicole?? What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I know I would be ecstatic! Other than that, I have no idea. I try not to dwell too much on what may happen and just live in the moment where my writing is concerned. I want to enjoy the journey. Where it takes me is out of my hands.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

I think every writer does. For me, it is coffee and instrumental music.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I am always reading a book, even when I am writing. It’s therapeutic to be able to put my work down and lose myself in someone else’s at the end of the day. I also enjoy cooking and trying new recipes or working outside in my flower beds while my daughter helps. I don’t watch a lot of T.V., but my son and I love The Walking Dead, so we always make sure to catch it when it is on.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

This is from my new book coming out this summer. It is YA paranormal series called The Celadon Circle. The first book is Blind Sight.

Blood and screaming; screaming and blood.  The horrors of the image before her assault Jordan’s senses, overwhelming them to the point she must scream herself or explode.  It wouldn’t matter if she did.  The young girl fighting for her life wouldn’t hear her.  Neither would the monster dismantling her body piece by agonizing piece.

She’d fought valiantly.  The girl – she couldn’t be more than sixteen – obviously wasn’t the type to roll over and die.  The monster liked that.  Fear made her flesh sweeter.

Fantastic Nicole! Now let’s take a sneak peek into Grimsley Hollow: The Chosen One

Grimsley Hollow Cover_CS FrontGage Gilbert is an eleven-year-old boy who has autism, loves Halloween, and has no friends. Although he has always been happy with the safety and security of his family, he longs for a real friend and adventure – not just the ones he makes up in his head. Then, he meets Eve.

Eve is a young witch from another world called Grimsley Hollow. It’s where all magical beings live in safety and peace, but their world is in trouble. Gage is the only one who can help save them from an evil witch who has taken control.

With Eve’s help (along with a sarcastic pixy, a trouble-making werewolf, and a half-vampire), Gage travels to Grimsley Hollow. Together, they begin a journey that will change them all. It’s a dangerous race against evil, where creatures unheard of stalk the land under a harvest moon and monsters that only exist in dreams become real.

Gage wanted friends and adventure, but he had no idea they would come at such a dangerous price. Can one autistic boy defeat an evil witch and help save his new friends? Travel to Grimsley Hollow and find out!

Clicking on the cover will take you to Amazon!

I’d like to thank Nicole for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to connect with Nicole, you can find her on her website, her blog, Twitter, or Facebook.

Don’t forget to come back next week for an interview with Daniel Sherrier!

Perfect Flaw Book Tour: Top Ten Dystopian Recommendations by Perfect Flaw’s Editor Robin Blankenship

Today the FlipSide has a special treat in the form of a guest post from the editor of Perfect Flaw, an anthology edited by Robin Blankenship for Seventh Star Press.

RobinandAndrewbwRobin Blankenship, a freelance editor and book reviewer has a background in teaching and social work. When not working or reading or editing she can be found at home in Kentucky with her husband, Andrew and two children, Christian and Beatrix.

Top Ten Dystopian Recommendations by Perfect Flaw’s Editor Robin Blankenship

Dystopian has been one of my favorite genres. Dark and Twisty, rebellions, environmental disasters, political and social issues; sign me up! The beauty of dystopian is it can be science fiction, fantasy, horror and so much more.

I was going to do top ten but it ended up being top 15. These are in no particular order but here are some great dystopian recommendations for the masses.

Watchmen by Alan Moore

The Giver by Lois Lowry.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Children of Men by P. D. James

Matched by Ally Condie

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin

Life As We Knew It Susan Beth Pfeffer

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Gone by Michael Grant.

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn.

Watchmen is a graphic novel but is a perfect example of dystopian at its finest. The Giver was the very first dystopian I ever read, it really kick-started my love for the genre. Uglies, Divergent, Matched,Delirium, Life As We Knew It, and Gone are all YA and are part of series.  We is a novel, I came across when looking for more dystopian.  It was written long before the genre of dystopian existed, but is amazing. Ready Player One is a new book; it was an all-around awesome book combining dystopian and video games for the win. Ella Minnow Peais great because it is not only dystopian, but also epistolary fiction, which I also love.

Now let’s take a look at Perfect Flaw… And don’t forget that you can click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Readers everywhere are invited to experience adventures of a dystopian nature in the anthology Perfect Flaw, from editor Robin Blankenship! Featuring seventeen speculative fiction tales, spanning many genres, Perfect Flaw explores the subject of societies gone wrong.

From “utopian” societies masking an underlying controlled state, to stories of people fighting back against repression, in hopes of a better world, the flaws that create a dystopian atmosphere are brought to light. Thought-provoking and entertaining, Perfect Flaw will be a welcome addition to any reader’s collection of dystopian literature.

PerfectFlaw-cover

Leslie J Anderson – “Michael’s Gate”
Jason Campagna – “Hope Unknown”
Frank Roger – “Cracks in the Concrete”
Mandi M. Lynch —“Under a Pomegranate Sky”
Shaun Avery – “The Job Hunter”
Cathy Bryant – “Cost Benefit Analysis”
Carolyn M. Chang – “Smilers”
SC Langgle – “The Bird Below Ground”
Delphine Boswell – “Tomorrow’s Children”
Tanith Korravai – “Your Comfort is Important to Us”
DeeDee Davies – “The Ultimate Sale”
Ellen Brock – “Useless”
Herika R. Raymer – “Seventh Degree”
H David Blalock – “Guardian”
H.S. Donnelly – “First Head”
Jay Faulkner – “System Error”
Michael O’Connor – “The Choosing”

As a special bonus, Seventh Star Press is holding a tour wide Rafflecopter giveaway for the anthologies featured in their Extravaganza!
SSP Anthology Extravaganza!

If you’d like to connect with Seventh Star Press, you can find them on their website, Twitter, Facebook, or their blog.

An Unforgiving Land, Reloaded and Nakba Book Tour: Guest Post and Excerpt from Jason S. Walters

Today the FlipSide has a special treat! Jason S. Walters has stopped by to support two of his soon to be released books – An Unforgiving Land, Reloaded and Nakba.  Let’s take a moment and get everyone acquainted…

JasonSWaltersPhotoJason S. Walters is an author, essayist, and publisher best known for running Indie Press Revolution (IPR), a distributor of micro-published roleplaying games. He is also one of a small group of investors that purchased Hero Games in 2001, and serves as its general manager. After owning a San Francisco bike messenger service for 15 years, he and his wife Tina moved to Midian Ranch: a homestead near the town of Gerlach, Nevada. It is also the location of IPR’s warehousing complex. They have a daughter with Down syndrome named Cassidy and animals too numerous to mention.

So now that we’ve introduced Jason, let’s take a moment to read a few words from the man himself.

“She knew that introspection was the enemy. It assaulted her with a kaleidoscope of “self” in the past tense. All her “was” kept bubbling up to the surfaced of her “is” in a mélange of memory. A dirty little girl with a black eye sitting in the dust near a singlewide in Bakersfield. A terrified teenager sitting in an LA abortion clinic where everyone else spoke Spanish. Arguing her way into a club in San Francisco’s SOMA district. Working as a bike messenger deep in the cement canyons of the city, alternately dodging and screaming at cars. Cooking meth in a warehouse in San Leandro. Doing meth until the normally hard lines between real and unreal, possible and impossible, and good and bad became blurry and hard to recognize. The arrest. Bending over a metal laundry table for a fat, sweating guard in Chowchilla. Waiting tables at a rundown restaurant in the no-man’s-land between Berkeley and Oakland, the days turning into months as she waited for… for what?”

~from the story Crucified Coyote, An Unforgiving Land, Reloaded

There’s a question that every thoughtful male author is forced to ask himself at some point in his career: namely, as a man how do I get women “right” in  my work? How do I portray them fairly, as three-dimensional characters? And, of course, there’s no one single correct answer – though there are an awful lot of wrong ones, and those are sadly the ones that often get chosen. By it’s nature being an author is a profession (or, for most of us, pastime) which attracts people who either enjoy spending time alone by themselves, or who due to their lack of social graces seem to have little choice but to do so. Neither case produces a temperament perfectly suited to understanding the intricacies of the opposite sex.

Of course, many writers of either gender aren’t interested in presenting or creating overly complex characters of the opposite sex at all. There can professionally and within the context of genre literature be very good reasons for not doing so. An author of women’s erotic fantasy novels has very good reasons for portraying men as distant, restrained, vaguely menacing, and supremely muscular, while an author of military science fiction can legitimately choose to portray women as basically “male” space marines as expressionlessly dedicated to killing alien menaces as their male counterparts. In both cases these choices reflect not only the artistic goals being pursued by the book, but also the well-understood wants, needs, and desires of their readers.

More often, however, male authors have somewhat limited experiences with women. A classic example is the talented and highly influential science fiction author Robert H. Heinlein (though there are many others). A former US Navy lieutenant and WWII veteran, Heinlein tended to view his female characters a lot like a sailor on shore leave might view women: either untouchable and pure, or wanton and willing, but always in need of help or rescue. Later, he went in the opposite direction, creating characters like Friday Baldwin that were specifically tougher and more competent than most of the men they encounter. Neither approach is particularly realistic – though it’s possible that, as a science fiction author, Heinlein was never attempting to be all that realistic to start with.

If, however, a male author is interested in creating a realistic female characters for his work, there are a few basic things to remember. The first is that women are, like men, individuals – often complex ones – whose personalities and motivations are mostly shaped for good or ill by their upbringing and environment. A woman raised in a primitive, highly ritualized environment may have very different views from one raised in a modern, Western society on even such basic matters as gender identity, rape, and a parent’s individual responsibility to her child. It’s important to keep this in mind, especially when crafting genre fiction such as scifi or fantasy.

The second is that he should closely observe how the women he knows behave. (If he doesn’t know any, than that situation should be quickly rectified!) Base your characters on a fair and objective reading of the women you know and are important to you. If you’re having the character do or say something that doesn’t “feel” right based on the behavior of the women you know, then that’s something you may want to consider changing. Or if you know a particularly fascinating women, turn her into a character in one of your books. Some of the very best characters in literature have begun that way.

However, with all that said, there seem to me to be some aspects of female behavior that are unique to the woman’s experience and nature – and that are very different from those of men. I can’t provide these in the form of clearly defined and useful list (If I could I would probably have my own show on the Oprah Network.), but I can provide two examples that clearly illustrate what I mean: woman go crazy different from men, and women go bad different from men. Which isn’t to say that men don’t also go crazy and bad. They most certainly do. But that it’s different when it happens to women.

In my soon-to-be-reprinted short story collection An Unforgiving Land there are a variety of important female characters as well as numerous minor ones. For example, the aging and lonely character of Maud, the pregnant survivor known as the Scarred Girl, and the tough DEA Agent Esperanza Gomez are all important characters whose personalities are based on those of women I have known. But in the original edition of the book I also created a “throw away” character called Shuttup Amy who wasn’t given a lot of screen time compared her more important sisters. After the book’s publication I felt bad about this (I rather like Amy), and wrote another story called Crucified Coyote to correct that oversight. After all, of all the women characters Shuttup Amy felt the most real to me, based on my 20 years living in San Francisco, following by moving to the Black Rock Desert: home of the cult-like Burning Man festival and all of its attendant crazy people.

Shuttup Amy has become mad, bad, and dangerous to know due to a variety of life experiences, some of which she’s been responsible for, some of which she hasn’t been. These include an abusive childhood, drug use, prison time, and other unspecified but equally traumatic things. She’s not a victim or a passive actor in her own life, but she’s vulnerable and damaged all the same – like a lot of the punk rock, junky, bike messenger, and “burner” (or Burning Man) girls I’ve known. She’s recklessly brave, sexually aggressive, and often erratic. Introspection is difficult for her (though she tries), and other people are a total mystery. Her personality and problems are very hard for her younger Mexican boyfriend to understand, and this causes not only a great deal of friction but an actual life-threatening situation to occur. The other inhabitants of the fictional Nevada town of Haulapai accept her more-or-less for who she is, but at the same time keep their distance. She desperately needs rescuing (really), but responds to even the gentlest attempts at rescue with hostility and distrust.

So, in short, I tried to make Shuttup Amy a real woman – or, to be more specific, a real type of woman with which I’m very familiar – living a kind of life that I’ve witnessed some women living. I’ve tried to make her realistic, be objectively fair, and create a three-dimensional person: scars, green dreadlocks, fading beauty, and all. Maybe in the end my efforts have been unfair (though it’s mostly women that seem to have enjoyed and related to the characters in An Unforgiving Land), but not due to lack of trying. And definitely not due to staying alone in a room with a computer, avoiding the company of women.

Thanks Jason! As a quick break, let’s take a sneak peek into both An Unforgiving Land, Reloaded and Nakba

TheUnforgivingLandReloadedCoverIn the desert life is hard. It can also be surreal. In the absence of congestion and convention, imagination takes you by the hand: or the balls. In this macabre collection of riveting tales, ENnie Award-nominated author Jason S. Walters grabs the reins of storytelling as if it were a wild stallion, leading the reader ever deeper into the physical and spiritual wasteland of the Black Rock Desert.

***

Nakba CoverA thousand years ago humanity’s dissidents fled, leaving behind a peaceful, unified world content to exist in a state of perpetual hedonism. Then a daring escape plunged civilization into chaos, forcing its rulers to expand outward to maintain order. Now all that stands between a newly imperial Earth and the rest of the solar system is a loose coalition of Maasai tribesmen, cloned feminists, shape-shifting humannequins, and vengeful Berbers led by the least likely hero in human history: a young woman with Down syndrome and a bad attitude.

***

Now hang on to your hats for an excerpt from Nakba!

Mitchell Green: Mars, Arabia Terra

Big. It was big.

The sea of red spread out infinity in all directions, blurring the distinctions between land and sky. It made Mitchell feel incredibly small. In fact, the landscape of Arabia Terra – that vast, cratered plane of iron-colored soil and winding canyons in the north of Mars – was so immense that it dwarfed even the mighty hull of the Andrew Levitz, still steaming and glowing behind him from its violent entry into Mar’s atmosphere. Not for the first time he felt intimidated by this huge, open place. By the tall, russet-colored grasses that brushed gently against the outside of his safety garb. By the vast intimidating ceiling of firmament that pressed down upon him from every angle. By the ocean of genetically modified plant life that spread out before him in all directions, it monotony only broken by the distant black dots of massive Martian buffalo grazing in their thousands. It made Mitchell feel dizzy and sick just to look at it.

Mars was all so terribly large when compared to his normal world of cramped corridors, artificial light, and recorded birdsongs. So… real. Yet Mitchell knew that much of the world he gazed upon had been created by the hands of men, just as his own had been. But it was also different. The Martians had used highly modified nanotechnology – a science his own people shied away from – to craft their home, whereas his people had relied extensively on Antigravity to create theirs; a science the Martians seemed to have lost. It had taken centuries of patient, never ceasing toil to turn some of the landscapes of the Red Planet into environments that could support a limited number of extremely modified species. Yet in many ways it remained as inhospitable to men as the hard vacuum of space, its promise of a new Eden seemingly eternally, tantalizingly out of reach.  

A figure detached itself from the countless black dots in the distance and headed toward him with long, confidant strides. Mitchell knew that would be his Maasai contact. He hoped it would be his friend Sironka. They had worked together on previous trade missions, and Mitchell enjoyed his company. But there no guarantees. Martian-Maasai society worked in ways unfathomable to Mitchell Green, though he had done his best to study and understand it. He knew that they were nomadic, wandering across the northern latitudes of Mars much as they had Tanzania and Kenya on old Earth. He knew that they worshiped a god called Engai, believed that having a lot of cattle made you rich, and that most of their food came from those cattle. He knew that their society was grouped into “age sets” of people who grew up around the same time, that they were divided into twelve tribes, and that they were very tall and very tough. He also knew they were masters of genetic modification: the art of changing living things so that they were different.

But these were mostly just words on a screen to him. He liked the Maasai. They were cool and alien; though Mitchell suspected that his own kind were as alien to the Maasai as they were to his. It was difficult to say. The skinny Martians were so easygoing and confidant that it was very difficult to say what they did and didn’t find strange. Really, he would probably never know. The two groups of human beings had become very other – and possibly they were that way before either had ever left Earth. But such things were never spoken of. There were only three rules universally held by all of the scattered and diverse children of Earth, those Interesting People who in desperation had fled its safe, comforting biosphere for the unforgiving wildernesses of the void. The Children of the Nakba. The Disaster. One, they didn’t make war upon one another. Two, they didn’t interfere with one other’s internal affairs. Though, really, they didn’t have to. The solar system was so unthinkably large that avoidance, rather than conflict, was the social norm. Trade, rather than conquest, its standard for interaction.

Three, they didn’t talk to the Earth. Ever.

Before very long the figure began waving. Mitchell waved back. He could make out its characteristic red robe slung over a skintight, reddish-brown environment suit. The Special and the Maasai were such a study in contrasts that they could have made an excellent comedy team, he reflected to himself with a quiet smile. (He liked comedy teams.) Mitchell was dressed in a bright yellow, inflatable outfit festooned with pulsing lights and topped with a spherical dome for his head. He was short, pale, clumsy, and as generally incongruous with his surroundings as a parrot on the bottom of an ocean.

The Maasai, on the other hand, was fantastically tall and angular, looking as though he had been hand crafted from the rocks, grass, and soil that lay around him: all reds and browns and rags and dust. His face was covered with antique looking goggles and a breathing apparatus that wouldn’t have been out of place in the trenches of one of the Earth’s ancient world wars. He carried a long spear with the air of a man who knew how to use it. His billowing dark red shuka contrasted against the brown and black skintight wrappings below it, giving him a fierce, exotic look.

The lanky figure stopped a meter from Mitchell. It cocked its head and peered down, regarding him with what the much smaller man guessed was curiosity or puzzlement.

Perhaps it was having trouble figuring out whether I am me or not, he reflected with slight amusement.

Then it reached down, clasping his forearm in greeting while simultaneously pressing its breathing apparatus into the flexible dome of his helmet. “Habari za safari?” boomed a deep voice through the plastic. How was your journey?

“Nzuri, asante.” Mitchell responded with a grin. Fine, thank you. It was his friend after all. He grasped Sironka’s arm in response, his smaller hand making it about half way to his elbow.

“Habari yako?” Sironka continued, still gripping his arm. How are you?

“Niko salama.” Very well, thank you. Swahili speakers typically enjoyed greetings, and could go on this way for a while until all possible formal and informal greetings were used up. This suited Mitchell fine. He liked greetings too, and they were pretty much all the Swahili words he knew in any case.

“What have you brought us this trip?” Sironka asked, releasing his arm and gesturing back toward the Andrew Levitz. Sentience was translating now, sending completed words into his mind through his earbud. Mitchell frowned slightly. Sironka was, by Maasai standards, being slightly rude. Normally they would have exchanged at least another two sets of greetings. Then he shrugged. Perhaps, uncharacteristically, his friend was in a hurry. At least by his own kind’s standards.

Mitchell pointed back at his ship using his right index finger. On cue – and quite dramatically, he thought again with a smile – the bottom two thirds of the craft began to disassemble itself; rectangular sections detaching and slowly drifting to the ground to hover obediently behind him. It was as if he owned his own herd of giant mechanical cattle. Which was rather the point.

“AntiG tech,” he began, counting theatrically on his fingers, “suitable for attaching to lifting platforms. Ceramic insulation to help harden your AIs, and near-sentience level semiconductor wafers to improve them. Blocks of pure aluminum, titanium, and surgical grade steel…”

Sironka nodded, looking impressed.

“…and that kind of stuff,” he concluded a bit lamely. Drama really wasn’t his strong point. But the Maasai bowed sagaciously, as if he had made some excellent point.

“For you little ones we have next generation non-self-replicating nanoviruses capable of repairing cell structures after radiation exposure, “ Sironka responded grandly with a sweeping gesture outward toward his unseen home, “new extracellular matrix cultures for regrowing organs. Something new to prevent early onset Alzheimer’s that doesn’t have the side effects of our old tech. And, of course, as much beef, grain, and frozen water as you can pack into your containers.”

Mitchell nodded thoughtfully. Those were good things. Alzheimer’s was the great curse of Specials, and even some Standards. You simply couldn’t have enough cures for it. The other two medical things sounded good too. Great tech to have when you lived out in the vacuum. And it went so without saying that biomass and water were such prized commodities on a space habitat that he didn’t even think about their value.

“Haya.” Okay. Mitchell knew that one without the help of his Sentience. Sironka nodded gravely, and then placed his index fingers on his chin, bringing them out and up slowly to indicate a smile. The smaller man beamed back appreciatively. Like everybody else in the solar system he knew a bit of Sign, and it was polite of his friend to pantomime his facial expressions. Otherwise it was like talking to a mask.

Sironka pointed out into the distance with his spear, in the direction that the tiny AI inside of Mitchell’s safety suit informed him was southwest.

“Let us now go to the Manyatta,” he said. “It is not a long walk. And you should stretch your legs after such a long journey.”

“Yes,” Mitchell responded simply, and the two of them strode out into the vast, russet emptiness, shipping containers following along behind them like a pack of huge mechanical dogs.

That sounds fantastic, doesn’t it??? Thank you Jason for taking the time to stop by today! If you’d like to connect with Jason and keep up to date on when both An Unforgiving Land, Reloaded and Nakba are releasing, you can subscribe to his blog or send him a friend request on Facebook.

Burning the Middle Ground Book Tour: Nine Questions with… L. Andrew Cooper

Today I welcome L. Andrew Cooper to the FlipSide in support of his book Burning the Middle Ground. Hello L., why don’t you introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

LAndrewCooperI’m paying back my parents for me insisting on watching horror movies during the day and then keeping them up all night with my nightmares. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with the dark stuff, but I couldn’t handle it. My parents put up with it. When I wanted to start reading Stephen King at age nine—after I’d proven I could handle a night on my own after a scary movie—they said okay, but they preferred for me to read the classics. I didn’t want to… until later… as an English major at Harvard… then, as a PhD student at Princeton, it was back to the dark stuff. Did my dissertation on horror since the 18th century. Now, I teach film and media, and horror is my research specialty. In addition to my fiction, I’ve published two non-fiction books on horror. The latest is Dario Argento (2012). I also co-edited a textbook called Monsters, which came out last year. I was born with scary in my bones, and I’ve spent my life learning about it. I know fear.

Tell us about your writing process?

  1. Fantasize. Stories exist in my head for months or years before I write them.
  2. Find time. My main job involves a lot of writing, so I can’t have a novel actually in the typing phase at all times. Fantasy phase lasts until a chunk of months—summer, a slower semester—presents a few reliable blocks of hours per week.
  3. Draft. I write pretty fast. I outline less these days, but I always have a skeleton, either in my head or in a sketch. Usually I start each drafting session by reading and revising the previous day’s new material.
  4. First revision. Shortly after the first draft is complete, I do a complete pass.
  5. First share. Circulate to inner circle of readers. Take criticism. Revise based on criticism.
  6. Time passes. Might send out to a few people, just to test the water.
  7. Second revision. Revise, often with deep cuts, (up to 25% of first manuscript usually gone by this point).

That’s pretty thorough! It might be the most thorough answer anyone has given me to date. Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

My main goal is to establish myself with horror and supernatural thrillers, and that’s what I’m doing. I hate that “literary” is a genre, but some of the stuff I do is “literary,” more realist drama stuff.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

The first two that come to mind are Henry James’s The Golden Bowl and Virginia Woolf’s The Waves. James and Woolf are beyond my limit, and they influence me hugely by helping me see my limit.

I can’t say I’d ever be as good as William Faulkner, whose The Sound and the Fury is on the list because I was obsessed with Quentin Compson from age 17, but as a craftsperson, I understand what he’s up to. Why was I obsessed with Quentin Compson? He was a moody Southern teenager who went off to Harvard and had trouble relating to those around him. Cf moi. Note that the epigraph from Burning the Middle Ground, which is from the novel Absalom, Absalom!, is spoken by Quentin Compson.

Two more. I think I have to say Matthew Lewis’s The Monk and William Godwin’s Caleb Williams. They’re both late 18th-century Gothic. The former is about pushing representation toward its limits, and the latter is about inescapable paranoia. Kind of my things, and though I think it’s the lesser of the two books, Caleb Williams is far more important for Burning the Middle Ground.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Brian McCullough: Josh Hutcherson (or some newcomer)

Ronald Glassner: Seth Green

Jeanne Harper: Susan Sarandon

Michael Cox: Sean Patrick Flannery? Bill Moseley?

Jake Warren: Bruce Davison

Melanie Grayson: newcomer

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Find another copy—online or in print—to confirm the information. Contact partner. Clear calendars. Contact publishers to clarify significance. Procure sparkling wine. (These actions would all occur on one trip, using the phone while driving to the beverage store, so it all counts as one thing.)

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

During the actual writing, I allow myself to be a little rude to people who interrupt. I feel guilty later, but at the time, I have the defense of being involved in a sacred activity.

I suppose this question could be about nail-chewing and the like. I may pull at my hair a bit. Balding is taking care of that problem.

I will say that when I wrote my first forever-to-be-unpublished novel, I wore a leather vest every time I wrote a certain character.

Or is this question looking for the naughty chemical stuff? I do enjoy wine and a few other deviant tidbits, and while certainly deplorable by some standards, I’m boring by others. I don’t see myself working up to the pouring-whiskey-on-Faulkner’s-grave sort of legend. Which is too bad, really. I should try to be more interesting.

I maintain I was not looking for ‘naughty chemical stuff’, just a question of what bad habits do you find yourself falling into as the muse takes over. What do you do when you’re not writing?

I teach, research, and write about movies. I hang out with my partner and cat, which involves video games, TV, and more movies. Sometimes, theater. A lot of travel for business and family. Really, we work a lot.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

I’m in “fantasize” phase right now, so I don’t even have nine lines to give you. So let me give you nine fantasies about Age of Miracles, the book to follow Burning the Middle Ground (all fantasies subject to change):

    • Settings include Miami, Atlanta, Louisville, Los Angeles, and New York.
    • All surviving characters reappear. Note meanings of “surviving” vary.
    • At least two surviving characters are in hiding.
    • A new journalist character, an Indian American woman from LA, is significant.
    • The American Value Federation’s New York Office introduces several important colleagues of Jake Warren and Elijah Eagleton.
    • The plot of Burning the Middle Ground’s relationship with larger national concerns becomes clearer.
    • More about The Alchemy of Will, its writing, and its history, will be discovered.
    • Whether Dr. Fincher remains active, and whether current events relate to The Fate of Man’s Essence, becomes clearer.
    • As my friends keep asking me—do I get to do Empire? People know I love dark endings, and the second book is the place in a trilogy to do it… who far will I go? I’ll tell you this: I’ve never seen anything like what I have in mind for ending this book.

Now let’s take a sneak peek into Burning the Middle Ground…

Burning-CoverRev3Burning the Middle Ground is a dark fantasy about small-town America that transforms readers’ fears about the country’s direction into a haunting tale of religious conspiracy and supernatural mind control. A character-driven sensibility like Stephen King’s and a flair for the bizarre like Bentley Little’s delivers as much appeal for dedicated fans of fantasy and horror as for mainstream readers looking for an exciting ride. 

Brian McCullough comes home from school and discovers that his ten-year-old sister Fran has murdered their parents. Five years later, a journalist, Ronald Glassner, finds Brian living at the same house in the small town of Kenning, Georgia. Planning a book on the McCullough Tragedy, Ronald stumbles into a struggle between Kenning’s First Church, run by the mysterious Reverend Michael Cox, and the New Church, run by the rebellious Jeanne Harper. At the same time, Kenning’s pets go berserk, and dead bodies, with the eyes and tongues removed from their heads, begin to appear.

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you straight to Amazon!

Thank L. for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect further with L., you can find him on his website, Facebook, or Twitter!

Join me next week for an interview with Nicole Storey!

The Man in the Box Book Tour: Nine Questions with… Andrew Toy

On this Special Edition of ‘Nine Questions with…’ I interview Andrew Toy on the FlipSide in support of his The Man in the Box Book Tour. Welcome Andrew, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

AndrewToyHi! I’m Andrew Toy, homeowner, dog owner, author, editor, husband, and hopefully soon-to-be father. I’m the author of The Man in the Box, and adventure/family novel. I grew up in California, my wife in Florida, we met in Colorado, and now we live in Kentucky. How’s that for a long-distance love story?

Tell us about your writing process?

Sometimes I’m a pantser (seat of my pants) and sometimes I’m a plotter (plot everything out before I start). I’ve learned that sometimes I won’t even know the ending until I’m in the middle of writing. But as of late, seeing how valuable time is, I would rather know the ending before I start.

But arriving at the end is sometimes the best part of the process! Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

Young readers and teen. That’s where all the hottest books are now.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Dan Barry’s Bottom of the 33rd, because of his careful attention to details otherwise overlooked by the common observer.

Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, because of the way he captures feelings, ideas, and emotions in just a few words within a sentence.

Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, because of how entertaining he makes an otherwise dull story about a family travelling west during the Great Depression.

Martel’s Life of Pi, because it’s one of those rare moments when great storytelling and skilled penmanship come together in beautiful harmony.

Collins’ Hunger Games, because of how she can weave an epic story in such few words, and minimal descriptions. This proves the power of word omission, leaving room for the mind’s eye to create its own pictures.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

Funny you ask. I wrote the character of Robbie Lake (of The Man in the Box) based off of Steve Carell. I never told anyone this, not even my wife. Then word gets back from a very enthusiastic early reviewer (who ended up putting The Man in the Box as her top recommendation at her local library), saying that she could totally see Steve Carell play Robbie Lake in a movie. Nicole Kidman would be his wife Rosalynn and Kirsten Dunst would be his love interest from inside the box.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

Cry. (Then my wife would laugh because I make funny sounds when I cry.)

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Continually browsing itunes. It’s a great time-killer.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

Read. (Is that a surprise, coming from a writer?)

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

“It was a dark and stormy night.” – Just kidding.

Okay, this is just a first draft, so go easy on me:

He was the best we had ever heard speak. While everyone spoke to our ear and eyes, this man – who somehow seemed to be more than that – spoke to our hearts and our souls. And we craved desperately to respond in kind.

“We are the superior race!” he proclaimed.

After years of being outcasts, this was poetry to our ears. No, it was more than that – it was a permission to not only be free of ridicule and shame, but to rise above it and reclaim our national pride.

The man’s name was Adolf Hitler.

Now let’s take a sneak peek into The Man in the Box

TheManintheBoxCoverWork provided Robbie Lake the perfect escape from his family. But his life is turned upside down when he is unexpectedly fired. When he finds a new way of escape through a cardboard box, everything changes. The imaginary world of his childhood has evolved in his absence and is now more savage and hostile than even he could have dreamed. Robbie is drawn in by the excitement of his secret world, but will the cost of abandoning his family prove too high?

Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Thank you Andrew for taking the time to answer my questions. If you would like to connect with Andrew, you can find him on his blog – AdoptingJames.wordpress.com.

Incarnate Book Tour: Guest Post from Lawrence Weill

On the FlipSide today is a guest post from Lawrence Weill, author of Incarnate. Let’s take a minute to acquaint you all with Lawrence before I turn it over to him…

LarryWeillLawrence Weill is an author and artist in western Kentucky. In addition to novels, he writes short fiction, non-fiction articles and books, and poetry. His work has appeared in a wide range of local, regional, and national journals. He and his wife live in the woods overlooking a beaver pond. Please visit his website: www.lawrenceweill.com.

And now for a few words from Lawrence –

My name is Lawrence Weill and I am the author of the novel Incarnate, the story of the behavior of a woman (Lara) who believes her son is the second coming of Christ.  It is a psychological drama, not a religious book, focusing on why Lara believes this as well as how her convictions affect her son and his little brother, her husband, and her daughter, who is older and estranged from the family.

A question I often receive is how I came up with the idea for the novel and the answer is multifaceted. First, I grew up in a household with two artists who held very different viewpoints from both each other and from mainstream America.  As a result, I was exposed to a wide variety of philosophies and ideas.  Because of this, I am familiar with the concepts of reincarnation, Taromancy, numerology, astrology, lithomancy, oneiromancy, and even augury, and I was able to draw on these as a way of helping define Lara’s mindset. Additionally, as a philosopher, I am interested in how much we as a culture engage in a kind of smorgasbord approach to faith and belief systems, using sometime disparate philosophies to affirm what it is we choose to believe.  For example, we might hear someone say they are Methodist and then talk about being Blaise Pascal in a former life.  Put another way, there is a reason so many daily papers run horoscope interpretations. We often consider ourselves to be adherents of a religion, but only on our own terms.  In fact, a rapidly growing response to the question of what church someone attends is, “I’m spiritual, but not religious.” I wanted to use this divergence of ideas to motivate Lara.

So this is the backstory on Incarnate and the lead character Lara: she calls upon a host of viewpoints to come to the conclusion she is, in fact, holy.  But she uses not only what we might call “New Age” philosophies, but also a wide range of traditional, if also less well known, approaches.  In this way, her behavior is informed by Rosicrucianism, the Kabbalah, The Knights Templar, as well as her other somewhat idiopathic beliefs. I wanted to use these various faith systems to build the character of Lara and to help the reader see how she came to her current situation.

Of course, her beliefs and behaviors are not in a vacuum. As she takes off on her journey to have her son assume the throne of God, inevitably her family is affected.  Her husband frantically searches for his family.  Her sons try to make sense of what their mother is saying and what she is trying to get them to do. Her daughter realizes how much she needs to return to her family.

As you read Incarnate, I hope you will find yourself engaging in a struggle, trying to decide who is the protagonist and who is the antagonist.  My web presence is www.lawrenceweill.com, and there is a Facebook page for Incarnate as well.

And now for a sneak peek into Incarnate:

Incarnate CoverWhat should a woman do if she believes she is the mother of the second coming of Christ? This is the problem Lara Joyner faces when she comes to believe, through her visions, through the look on his face, through her cards, and through the thousands of hidden signs she sees in nature, that her son is Christ incarnate.

Incarnate is driven by this woman’s character and readers struggle between wanting to sympathize and knowing she is deeply troubled. In the end, we discover how her delusion turns many worlds upside down, as well as how faith overpowers reason. The story follows Lara and her two sons as she pushes Dale to perform miracles and save humanity. Although obviously unable to do so, he goes through the motions to protect his little brother Louis. Told alternately from Lara’s perspective (in the present tense) and from the other principles in the story, the plot follows the trials brought on by Lara’s spiraling madness, her husband’s desperate search for his family, and the children’s bewilderment and fear.

Don’t forget that clicking on the cover will take you away to Amazon where you can explore options for purchase.

If Lawrence’s guest post was of interest to you and you’d like to check out the rest of the tour, you can find links to the rest of the stops here.

 

Nine Questions with… JJ Hickey

Today I welcome JJ Hickey to the FlipSide. Welcome Joe, why don’t you take a moment and introduce yourself to the captive audience that you now have before you.

joeMy name is Joe, I am a paranormal researcher out of Michigan and founder of MIParanormal. When I am not out chasing ghosts, I spend my pretty much all my time writing. I graduated at Saginaw Valley State University with a bachelor’s degree in Creative writing and have been honing my skills for over a decade now. I released my first indie book back in 2005, and recently released a very successful (if you ask me, at least) book called, Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenboro.

Tell us about your writing process?

Well, it’s ever changing. Recently I have found myself being very strategic with my writing. Outlining almost the entirety of the second book, whereas the first book was pretty much just sitting down and seeing where my creativity took me. That’s the difference though, my first book was meant to be nothing more than a novella written for my niece and nephew as a Christmas present. It grew so fast I knew it was meant to be more. Now that I am fleshing out this concept into a seven or eight book series, I really have to start outlining and note taking.

Is there a genre, other than the one you currently write in, that you wish you could break into?

Not so much. I don’t just write YA Fantasy/Paranormal, although it is my favorite. I do write more mature books, mostly which still venture into some sort of fantasy. I have a novella I recently published that I wrote in my later stages of my scholarly years. It’s meant to be read in a book club setting and to be discussed and dissected through multiple lenses, the more boxed wine the better! It’s filled with literary theories that was forced down my throat in college. A great story to read for people who like to dig deeper than a surface read.

What are the 5 books that have influenced you the most, and why?

Harry Potter was and is huge influence, especially from the creativity standpoint. I loved The DaVinci Code for its pacing. I loved The Hunger Games and The Running Man as well. There have been so many influential books out there, it’s hard to pick. I usually pick up a book, and I know if I like it if I wind up spending more time writing (due to inspiration) than reading lol.

If you could cast one of your works, who would you choose to play your main characters?

This is a hard question to answer. Because this book was originally meant for my family’s eyes only, I spent a lot of time basing characters off real members of my family or friends. So In my head I already know what they look like and their mannerisms, even if I did my darndest to fictionalize them. If I had to choose, I would pick Kevin Spacey to play Declan Aten.

What is the first thing you would do if you woke up one morning to find one of your books on the NY Times Bestsellers List?

I would retire from my demanding management job, move away to a quiet lakefront house, and live out my dream since I was a child – writing for a living! I would also do something amazing for all the people I my life who helped me reach such a huge goal. I have already met a wonderful group of people who have done so much in the process of getting my stories out for the world to see.

Do you have any vices that you turn to while you are writing?

Many, in fact I need complete silence and absolutely no distractions. The minute my fiancé comes home I know I have to stop because it is literally impossible to write anything if there is another human being anywhere near me. I tend to get lost in the world I am writing; the moment something pulls me back into the real world I am pretty much a goner. It also takes some time for me to get into that zone, and once I am in it I lose track of time. There has been occasions where I will get up to grab something out of the fridge and have no idea I had just spent six hours of my life lost in the creation.

What do you do when you’re not writing?

I spend all my free time writing. So if I am not writing, I am probably stuck at work paying the bills. The little bit of time I spend between the two, I try and relax with my fiancé and friends. I also do the paranormal research thing on the side.

Please share with us the first nine lines of your current work-in-progress.

Professor Aten stood surrounded by a group of well-dressed men, all of which were outfitted in fine tailored made suits. They group stood out like a sore thumb, as most people who visit a bright and sunny beach would dress accordingly, flip flops and board shorts were always popular. However these men were not on vacation to enjoy the tropical weather, or to take a dip the oceans’ cool waters. No, these men were strictly there for business. 

“Beautiful isn’t it?” Aten kneeled down onto the beach and ran his fingers through the fine grains of brown sand. He smiled slyly as he felt the pebbles slip between his fingers. He took a deep breath of the fresh crisp air and held it deep into his lungs.

“A beach is a beach, you’ve seen one you’ve seen them all, am I right?” One of the cockier business men joked. The group chuckled in response. Aten, however, did not find the man’s musings funny in the least.

“How sad you are, simple and small minded,” Aten stood back up with the aid from his smooth black cane for balance. He dusted the sand off from his hands as he stared out at the ocean.

Now let’s take a sneak peek into Joe’s novel Secret Seekers Society and the Beast of Bladenborro…

17202596Young siblings, Hunter Glen and Elly Anne, lost their parents in a plane crash merely two weeks ago. Unknowing how to deal with the sudden and painful loss, the children find themselves living with their enigmatic Godfather, Dr. Calenstine. Taken from their home, and all their friends, they find themselves living inside the even more mysterious Belmonte Manor, a secretive and enormous estate that houses a creepy ancient castle.

Despite the kindness of the Manor’s caretakers, the siblings find themselves imprisoned in their room, where the many secrets and dark past of their new home slowly unfold before their very eyes. Follow the young children as they unravel the truth behind their parents past, the mysterious and creepy Belmonte estate, and their “roles” in the terrifying events that the kids often find themselves in. Filled with secret societies, ancient monsters, mysterious objects, and more adventure the children could have ever hoped for, J.L. Hickey promises a journey great for young adults, yet wonderfully exciting and riveting for all ages.

Don’t forget to click on the cover to be whisked away to Amazon!

Thank you Joe for taking the time to answer my questions. If you’d like to connect with Joe, you can find him on his website, Facebook, or Twitter.

Join me next week when L. Andrew Cooper will be joining me at the FlipSide.

Cover Reveal – Seeing Ghosts by James Garcia Jr.

Time for a treat! One of my author friends has a new book coming out soon and I get to show you the cover and tell you a little more about it! So exciting!

Here are a few words from James himself –

So, you ask, how in the world could a guy who started reading and writing horror fiction end up writing a romance? Well, it is a paranormal romance, so it really isn’t that big of a leap…

Truth be told, although I grew up reading The Amityville Horror and early works by Clive Barker and Mr. King, and watching films like The Thing, Poltergeist and the original Friday the 13th films, my tastes have evolved with age. Now in my 40’s I find myself more comfortable with horror suspense than horror gore. If it’s splatter or torture porn, I’m really not interested. As one may excuse language and nudity when it’s necessary for the plot, I feel the same about violence. There’s certain rough aspects to The Exorcist, The Silence of the Lambs or more recently Let Me In, but the stories are so good that they work on every level.

Though I grew up with horror fiction and heavy metal music, my teenage years and a real lack of dating brought me to face issues of the heart. Even though my wife and I have been together now for twenty five years, I still remember those teenage years where every sad song seemed to be about me. Perhaps one might suggest that there is still a small part of me that wonders if love can be forever, and whether I might yet find myself alone once more? Only God knows. We have a wonderful life together, yet there’s still a part of me in touch with those feelings of love and loss.

My favorite novel is not scary in the least: Beach Music by Pat Conroy. It is a work of genius. It is not paranormal, and I never wanted to read it; however, a sister-in-law of mine coerced me into picking it up. All these years later I have yet to put it down, reading it or at least parts of it periodically over that time. It is great drama and has a bit of everything in it. I will go to my grave a happy man if I’m considered half as good a writer as Mr. Conroy. Couple this with the fact that I’m most comfortable with a romantic comedy on my television, and you will now begin to understand how it came about that I ended up writing Seeing Ghosts.

I always hoped to write a haunted house story before my writing days were finished, but I did not want to rush it. I had seen too many films or books begin with so much promise, but fall flat in the end. This is not to say that I have written the greatest haunted house story in the history of mankind. But I do think I have come up with something that is very special – it certainly is to me.

And I hope it is for you as well. You’ll have to let me know.

As I say over at my blog, we’ll talk soon.

Now if that doesn’t make you wonder, I don’t know what will! Here’s the synopsis of Seeing Ghosts

Paul Herrera finds himself bequeathed a mysterious old house near the California central coast by a deceased aunt he never knew. The woman who shows it to him is the spitting image of his wife, taken from him three years before in a senseless car accident which also took his unborn son. While he deals with the ghosts of a past he cannot let go, there are new ghosts Paul must deal with – alone for the week in the expansive two-storey house that he will soon discover holds many secrets. Eventually, he will see that he is surrounded by ghosts as he struggles to hold onto the only thing that he has left in this world – his sanity.

And now for the cover!!

Sharing copy

Beautiful isn’t it? Seeing Ghosts is slated to be released on June 3rd, 2013 and there is a Facebook event that you can join here.