Last Call for Beta Readers (and other surprises!)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

No, I'm not dead.

Although with my porcelain skin and blue lipstick, I think the kid in Walgreens last week got the wrong impression--must've scared him.  I can't think of another reason he'd go racing from the store screaming, "Mommy!  It's gonna eat meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!"

Everyone's a critic.

I've just been busy and hard-at-work with in getting The Gaslight Journal manuscript ready for its Thanksgiving Day release, and I still need your help.

Would you like a free advanced reader's copy of The Gaslight Journal?

Here's what you do:

Click on the "Contact" link in the upper right of this blog, and then send me your e-mail address to that e-mail listed, with the subject heading, "I want to be a beta reader."  I will then send you an e-mail with the links to the appropriate downloads with further instructions on what I need you to do once you have your review ready, and where to put it.

Currently, Amazon is working with me on setting up a pre-order page for the Kindle release on Thanksgiving Day.  I received an e-mail from them earlier this week.  And up till now, they've only accomplished this for two other authors:

Stephen King and J.A. Konrath.  Seems I'm in pretty good company.

You'll also receive a free press release.

The e-mail I will send you goes into more detail, but my goal is to hype the book, and treat it like an published release, rather than an indie release.  I just saw my friend J.A. Konrath do this, and I'm certain with your help, I can do it, too!

And now for the goodies.

I have two interviews in store for you, just in time for Halloween.  I'm sorry they are a few days late.

And without further ado, here we go!

Chester Campbell has written five Greg McKenzie mysteries featuring a retired Air Force OSI agent and his wife. A Sporting Murder, the latest, came out in September. The first book in his Sid Chance mystery series, The Surest Poison, was published in 2009. The books are set mostly in the Nashville, TN area. Chester has pursued (meaning chased all over the map) writing in various fields for more than 60 years, including newspaper and magazine journalism, advertising, public relations, and political speech writing. An Air Force intelligence officer in the Korean War, he retired from the Air Force Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. Currently secretary of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and president of the Middle Tennessee Chapter of Sisters in Crime (the only male chapter president in the international organization), he lives in Madison, TN with his wife, Sarah, and an 11-year-old grandson.

Me:  What’s you current book?


Chester:  It’s A SPORTING MURDER, which answers the question: “Can sports lead to murder?”  Nashville Predators hockey fans think “this town ain’t big enough for three of us (pro sports teams),” and somebody is willing to commit murder over the prospect of bringing an NBA team to Nashville. It’s the fifth in my Greg McKenzie mystery series, featuring senior PI’s Greg and Jill McKenzie. Along the way, a bomb explodes under Greg’s Jeep, with the two of them inside.  Lots of skulduggery afoot.


Me:  I know a few of those Predators' games I went to sure looked like they could lead to murder.  Made me afraid to go in the parking lot.  Why did you become a writer, when you could’ve been a garbage man or President?

Chester:  Some folks probably think I’m a creator of garbage. I’ve certainly got more sense than to want to be President. Actually, my Mom probably got it right when she said, “I’m not surprised he became a writer since he doesn’t like to get his hands dirty.”


Me:  What sort of odd jobs did you do before becoming a writer, and how many of them were you fabulously fired from?

Chester:  All my “odd” jobs took place while I was a teenager. The first was bicycle delivery boy for a drugstore. Got quite a shock when a female customer answered the doorbell sans clothing.  Another was clerk in a women’s shoe store. You should have seen the feet I tried to cram into a size 9 narrow. The one I got fired from was my second writing job, for writing too much. I loved newspaper reporting, especially feature writing, but the higher-ups discovered I knew grammar and how to spell. They put me on the copy desk. In lull times after an edition went to press, I turned to my typewriter and worked on freelance articles for magazines. The managing editor took offense at the practice and showed me the door.


Me:  With the explosion of Amazon Kindle and other eBook readers, what are your thoughts on the whole thing? Do you have any predictions about it?

Chester:  I’m a lousy prognosticator, but I’m taking advantage of the eBook explosion while it lasts. All my books are in the Kindle Store at $2.99, and I’m gradually getting them on Smashwords. Who knows what the next electronic marvel will be? I’ll try to be ready for it.


Me:  What is the most scathing, hateful and hurtful rejection letter you ever received (I’m sure you remembered a few)? How many have you gotten? Do you keep them?

Chester:  Fortunately, I’ve never received a snarky letter from an agent. I have tons of form letters that  tell how my novel “does not fit our list…isn’t what we’re looking for…doesn’t meet our needs” and every other excuse you can imagine. Just as deadly are the occasional letter about how they enjoyed the story and liked my writing “but it isn’t for us.”


Me:  Heh; received one of those myself just last week.  You live in the heart of the Bible Belt, and yet you write crime fiction/mystery. Have you suffered any grief over this?

Chester:  Au contraire, some of my most ardent fans are members of my church. I’ve had several signings at the church and launched my first Sid Chance mystery there last year. One staunch member says his mother told him he should never buy anything at church, but he buys them outside.


Me:  What is your process for a book? From where you get the ideas, to how often you write, if you use outlines, to publication?

Chester:  Ideas can pop up anywhere. My first published novel came from reading an in-flight magazine on the way home from a Holy Land trip. Another resulted from watching high-rise condos go up on the beach at Perdido Key, Florida. A neighbor contributed one when she told about visiting the old Marathon Motor Works buildings just outside downtown Nashville. A PI friend told me about a case she handled around Jackson, Tennessee. It became THE SUREST POISON, re-located closer to Nashville. How often I write is a sore spot…not often enough. With all the on-line and area promotion I do, I find it more difficult to settle down to writing the next book. I’ll get started soon, though, and it’ll take off. I’m a “pantser,” no outlining. Give the characters a nudge and let ‘em go. I’m with a small press that gives me lots of freedom to pursue the publication process, from titles to covers to whatever.


Me:  How many novels had you written before you found an agent? How many queries had you sent?

Chester:  I have a penchant for doing things in reverse. I started writing full time when I retired. I got an agent with the first book. No sale. Ditto with the second book, different agent, who died on me. The third landed with a major New York agency that took the next three books and, for reasons too involved to go into here, sold none. My eighth book brought a three-book contract from a small press run by the husband of the agent I had sent it to. I have now published six books agentless.


Me:  What do you tell others (hot new authors like myself) just beginning that they won’t learn anyplace else?

Chester:  Surprise, there ain’t any new advice around. It’s a tough business, but it’s doable if you prepare yourself and stick with it. In the mystery field, you’ll have no trouble finding successful authors willing to help. If you can take criticism (and you’d better be able to) find a critique group of knowledgeable writers and let them offer suggestions. You won’t agree with everything they say, but you’ll come away with lots of helpful ideas to improve your writing. And finally, write, write, write. Hopefully you’ll be published before you’re seventy-six, like I was.


Me:  What did you have for breakfast?

Chester:  What I have most every morning. That way you don’t waste a lot of time figuring out what to eat. For me it’s a bowl of oatmeal (maple and brown sugar) and coffee. Sometimes my wife will throw in a muffin or cinnamon bun. The important part comes after breakfast. When she gets back from taking the grandson to school, we have a tall travel cup of cappuccino. Just like my characters Greg and Jill McKenzie (I taught ‘em to love it).


Me:  What other profession do you still regret never having pursued?

Chester:  I would have made a great secret agent. I can sit behind a table at a bookstore and never be seen.

Just kidding, I may not be a standup comic, but I’m a standup book signer. I never sit behind the table, even to sign a book. That I don’t regret.
 
For places you can purchase Chester's books, visit his home on the web at:  http://www.chesterdcampbell.com/
 
-------------------------------------------------------------------
 
And now for part II of our journey.
 
Simon Wood is an ex-race car driver, a licensed pilot and an occasional private investigator. Originally from the UK, he lives in the US with his American wife and way too many pets. He's had over 150 stories and articles published. He's an Anthony Award winner and a Crime Writers Association Dagger Award Finalist. He's the author of numerous thrillers. His upcoming titles are the Lowlifes and Asking for Trouble. Writing under his horror identity, Simon Janus, he’s the author of The Scrubs and Road Rash. Curious people can learn more at http://www.simonwood.net/ .



Simon Wood



TERMINATED (In bookstores now)


www.facebook.com/simonwoodwrites


Scaredy Cat




People ask me what scares me, what my deepest fears are, and what sends me into a panic. Austin Powers says he fears only two things: nuclear weapons and carnies. I’m different. Pretty much everything frightens me. I think people are usually looking for a man-of-steel kind of an answer. But I have to disappoint. I’m scared of my own shadow. Literally. It’s always there, behind me, creeping up on me. There it is. Arrrrhh!!


I’ll go into a cold sweat at a Starbucks. The choice dazzles me and I can’t make up my mind what I want. Suddenly that long line looks real short. Now the choice isn’t the scary thing, but what happens when the green aproned personage asks for what I want and my answer is “Er, I need some more time.” I know the people behind me are going to start gnashing their teeth and all because I don’t know what fancy coffee I want. Eek!


Everyday things scare me. I lived in an apartment where the shower curtain had a habit of clinging to me when I got within a foot of it. The material had an odd texture that felt like skin when wet, which was a distinctly unpleasant sensation. I got to fear that damn shower curtain and avoided using it (and my wife got to hate that I didn’t shower). But that was enough to spur a story about a haunted shower curtain. Incidentally, that story spooked a reader sufficiently that they are afraid of their shower curtain now. That’s the power of our fears, I guess.


A few months back, my Sisters in Crime chapter volunteered to man (or woman) the phones during the local PBS pledge drive. I feared my phone would ring, because I might get someone with a weird name I couldn’t spell. I thought, if I screw up the donation, PBS won’t get their money and Yanni won’t get his funding and he’ll hunt me down like a dog.


So yes, I can make anything scary. It’s a talent. Don’t applaud me all at once. You can’t all be like me.


I made author fears a topic at a World Horror Convention panel a few years ago. It proved to be a really interesting panel. A number of the authors discussed their darkest fears. Some were parents were frightened by the potential loss of their children. Several had had incidents that led them to write stories.


Fear makes for great storytelling. It’s a fossil fuel with an inexhaustible supply. It drives stories. It forces the reader, the writer and the characters to face what frightens them full on. Stories thrive on conflict and facing your fears is the greatest conflict. No one is fearless, so everyone can relate.


The best scary writing explores our archetypal “core” fears. People fear the unknown, the loss of a loved one, loss of liberty, loss of control, their position in the world. The point is that to write scary stories, you have to be fearful. The adage goes you write what you know and fears are very real and accessible. Horror stories just don’t explore someone’s fear of vampires, werewolves and Freddy Krueger. They explore a power stronger than the individual and that overwhelming power has the ability to rob you of what you hold most dear or thrust you into an environment you desire least. No one fears Freddy Krueger. Everyone fears what someone like that can do to them.


So my myriad of fears are good for my writing. They keep it real (scary). It’s easy to see what I, the writer, you, the reader, and they, the characters have to fear. For me it’s easy to slip into a fictional situation. My collection of supernatural short stories, Dragged Into Darkness, deals with my various neurosis that everyone can relate to from flying to public embarrassment. If I examine all my work, fear stains it all in some shape or another. Life is scary and scarier the better when it comes to fiction.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m next in line at Starbucks and I don’t know what I want.


Yours cowering under the bedclothes,


Simon Wood
--------------------------------------------------------

Thanks, guys!

Join me beginning on Monday, when I begin my new novel, A Most Devout Coward for NaNoWriMo, and I blog about my progress.  Can't wait!

Interview with Horror Author, Robert W. Walker

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Hey gang!

The Eleven Questions to Fame Blog Tour continues with five-and-a-half questions from Bram-Stoker-nominated horror author, Robert W. Walker--a man who has described himself as Stephen King's illegitimate son.  I met Rob when he hired me to design his first web-site, and it's thanks to him passing along some information about an anthology being put together that I ended up 24-hours later with my first publication credit.  So we go way back.

But I try not to let anyone know.

And here we go!

Wednesday, October 27, will see book release #50, Titanic 2012:  Curse of RMS Titanic, from prolific, and slightly-twisted horror author, Robert W. Walker.  Being released exclusively on Kindle, Rob has some specific thoughts about the way the publishing market is going.

Join me now for this probing interview.

Me:  Titanic 2012: The curse of RMS Titanic is your 50th novel--congratulations. Why another book about the Titanic?

Rob:  There have been a great deal of books and films made about the Titanic and its fate, as it is one of those archetypal tales that people do not want to see end. In fact, like Elvis and Marilyn, Titanic will never fully be in its grave and gone. The allure is there and a ready-made audience, yes, but for me it was a chance to turn so many of the myths grown up around the ship and its shit luck that I couldn’t resist placing one of my patented disease-spreading monster aboard for the fateful night when the X factor aboard leads to a Cabal bent on bringing the ship down. It was no accident in my scheme of things.

Me:  You write horror fiction. Did you always want to be a horror author? Why horror? Why not become president, or a garbage man?

Rob:  I soooo respect what garbage collectors, now environmental engineers I think they are called, DO.  I couldn’t do that in the heat and the cold world…hanging onto the back of a truck. I went into horror for good reason, early in my writing career, after failing to sell any of my young adult historical novels. After making the Underground Railroad as scary as it gets but getting nowhere with it, and knowing all editors were seeking a Stephen King mirror image to love and promote, I got into horror in a big way, but you know working with monsters is a great deal easier on one’s psyche than with serial killers. The creatures tale direction and stagecraft a good deal more seriously.

Me:  Do you generally use detailed outlines when plotting your books?

Rob:  No not ever have I used detailed outlines, and I struggle with outlines as it is an art in itself—how to recast the story in brief. However, that said, I enjoy allowing the story to dictate itself to me and grow exponentially as it comes to me and as I convey it to the reader here and now. Doing an outline kills my energy, strangleholds my imagination. I like to “write where no man or woman has gone before” so I never know where I am going until I arrive. I don’t know what I think until I see what I say – a line I stole from someone somewhere but it sums it up for me, my reckless abandon and reckless method. It takes patience of Job and a willingness to go on a wrong turn or binge and having to write oneself out of that problem. BESIDES “once a story has been told” even in outline, “it can’t help but get old.” I like the way I work, not knowing what will happen around the next page until I write it. I suspect I am not the only author who likes the idea that a novel is episodic and as such should be organized episodically by its creator.

Me:  Who are your favourite authors and who have inspired you the most?

Rob:  Mark Twain, my spiritual mentor, James Herriot, Robert Bloch, Shakespeare, Dickens, Doyle, Dumas, Martin Cruz Smith, Katherine Anne Porter, the Bronte Sisters, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Increase Mather if you can believe it, as well as Thomas Thompson, Charles Grant, Harper Lee, Margarite Mitchell, James Clavall and many more. Too many to count, I fear.

Me:  What are you wearing?

Rob:  Jeans and T-shirt, all rather drab in blue as we are moving down the street and am beginning to feel a shower in order!

Me:  Please.  Do us a favour and opt for the shower.  Your wife is an author, too. Does she help or inspire you in your stories?

Rob:  Miranda writes under Miranda Phillips Walker (no hyphens), and she has her own stories to deal with; she is working on a sequel to the ebook Absolution which was formerly....

It was at this point in the interview, Rob literally fell asleep and didn't answer the other questions.

Nothing surprises me from this man.

So.  You in for the best story about Titanic ever written?

Check Rob's web-site for news of the official release, and the first fourteen teaser-chapters, free!

Thanks for the time, Rob, and good-luck with the book release!

Coming up on Wednesday, we have a double-whammy for you:  a fellow Nashvillian who writes crime and mystery, Chester Campbell, and a former Brit who now publishes humour and horror in the US, Simon Wood, so don't forget to join me for that!

Interview with DRACULAS authors, Blake Crouch and Jeff Strand

Friday, October 15, 2010

Today, Tuesday, October 19, is the long-awaited release of a new horror novel entitled, DRACULAS (A Novel Of Terror), as well as the end of a unique marketing experiment that, according to Blake Crouch, has never been attempted before.

Please join Mr. Crouch and Mr. Strand, two of the novel's four well-known and well-respected authors, now in this very probing, very serious and apparently very full-of-shite interview that I concocted for them last week, otherwise known as The Eleven Questions to Fame Blog Tour.  (Why not ten?  Because I'm long-winded:  so sue me.)



Me:  *Ack* Are you serious?? Another vampire story? How do you respond when you hear this? By now, it's a hack topic. How is your story any better or different than the seas of vampiric vomit currently on the market?


Blake:  This is actually the first time I’ve heard that :). The short answer is, we wouldn’t have written another vampire book if we all didn’t feel we had something new to bring to the party. Our story is different from what’s out there right now in this sense. For the first time in a while, vampires are being treated and portrayed like what they are…absolute addicts who crave blood beyond all else.

Jeff:  “Vampiric vomit” is how we pitched it. We were going to use that as the original title, but then we decided that Vampiric Vomit would make a great name for a punk band, so we changed it to DRACULAS, but then we realized that being in a punk band would involve Joe getting all sweaty, and nobody wanted that, but by then it was too late to change the title back.

Me:  I agree.  Joe and sweat?  It wouldn't even be compelling fiction. 

Vampires was a collaborative effort. Collaborations are difficult. How were you guys able to pull this together? What did you do when someone disagreed over how to handle a certain section? Did you get into any fist fights? Do you think you will work together again?

Blake:  I am certain we’ll all work together again when schedules allow. This was simply too amazing of an experience not to repeat. And actually, this collaboration wasn’t difficult. Egos were set aside. Sure disagreements occurred, but we handled them like professionals, and the final product is better for it. No fist fights! We had a major disagreement about the end, and it’s all chronicled in excruciating detail in the bonus features, where our emails back and forth to each other are collected.

Jeff:  Fortunately, the fact that we all live in separate states kept the physical violence to a minimum. Most of the disagreements were resolved very quickly, because it was never a case of somebody saying “This sucks!!!” but rather “Here’s what I think you should do differently.” There was no instance where we had to go “Majority rules” or anything like that, because nobody was protective of their work. Everybody at some point had the other authors saying “Here’s where you went wrong,” and except for a debate at the very end about the fate of one of the main characters, we never got stuck on a disagreement.
 
Me:  How did you decide who would be included in your project?

Blake:  We chose writers Joe had worked with before, who we loved as writers, and who we also thought would be able to successfully take on the massively challenging feat of writing an 80,000-word novel with three other people in eight weeks.
 
Jeff:  Joe invited people, and most of them said “Yes.” We’d all worked with him before on two-author projects, so there were no huge surprises in the lineup.
 
Me:  Would you recommend that everyone try a collaboration at least once in their fiction career? Why?


Blake:  Not unless they can shove their ego in the closet, because there is no place for it in a project such as this.
 
Jeff:  Not really...I mean, it’s not something people should try just to have tried it. You really do have to put your ego aside, because you’re going to lose some arguments, and you may never get credit for writing that one brilliant piece of dialogue. I have no idea what the success/failure ratio is, but I’d guess that most collaborations don’t end well. But if you have the same vision for a project, and the collaborators can each bring something special to the project, you can end up with a book that’s much more interesting than what you might have done on your own.
 
Me:  What is the most scathing, hateful and hurtful rejection letter you ever received? How many have you received? Do you keep them?

Blake:  A publisher, in response to a sample chapter I sent, once wrote to me, “Too fucking long. Might want to vary your expletives a tad.” Yes, I’ve kept all my rejections from the early days.
 
Jeff:  “This reads like something Joe Konrath would write!” This is a difficult question to answer while keeping up the charade that the four of us are answering together. I assume that Paul has never been rejected, and I have no idea how many Blake has received, but Joe and I have gotta be topping four figures between the two of us. I kept them back in the days of snail mail, but I never got in the habit of printing out e-mails.
 
Me:  What are you wearing?

Blake:  Wife-beater tank top and snowflake pajama bottoms. No shit.

Jeff:  Leg warmers...and nothing else. Yes, the four of us are sharing them.
 
Me:  Dear God, now I'll be kicking myself for a month for delving into my own brand of horror.
 
Why crime/horror fiction? How long did it take to finish and whose original idea was it to work together, and choose a topic?

Blake:  That’s the fiction we love. Joe came up with the initial title and bare bones premise. He and I developed it a little more and created the cast of characters. Then we approached Paul and Jeff and got them on board and also gave them first choice on the characters they would write.
 
Jeff:  The majority of the actual writing occurred over five very intense weeks. There was a lot of plotting and brainstorming for a few months before that. The actual premise and idea to work together came from Mr. Joseph Konrath.
 
Me:  What piece of advice--not previously given in interviews--would you give to hot, new authors like myself who are just beginning?

Blake:  I’ll repeat what I said on Joe’s blog last Monday: “Get a great agent, and try to sell it for a lot of money. Publish short fiction in solid magazines. There’s a lot of bad-mouthing lately about the “gatekeepers” but I think a publishing track record is important, and it should matter to readers. I’m a reader, and it matters to me. Put your short fiction and your novellas and collaborations up on Amazon. Keep your irons in several different fires. The truth is no one knows how this is all going to shake out, so in light of that, there’s really only one smart play…diversify.”

Jeff:  NOT previously given in interviews? Does that mean Joe can’t say “SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! FOR THE SWEET LOVE OF GOD, SELF-PUBLISH E-BOOKS! MONEY MONEY MONEYMONEYMONEY!!! [Begins foaming at mouth; is dragged away]”? I don’t even have good stock answers to this question, much less something new and innovative.
 
Me:  And, I see it's time for someone's medication!  Did you collaborate on your testimony being given today?

Blake:  Nope, this is all Blake.

Jeff:  No. It’s a solo effort by Jeff. I didn’t really contribute much to the novel itself, so they’re making me do this interview.


Me:  What did you have for breakfast?

Blake:  Black coffee.

Jeff:  I had a Pop-Tart. I suspect that Blake is a pancakes kind of guy, extra syrup. Paul had an egg with a thin coating of gold, and Joe had beer.

Me:  Pop-Tart:  man after my own heart.  What other profession do you still regret never having pursued?

Blake:  No regrets here, Carla!


Jeff:  Munchkin.
 
Me:  Thank-you so much, guys.  It's been very...um...interesting.  Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go slip into a hot bath and pop open a vein.
 
 
About the Authors:
 
Jack Kilborn, a.k.a., J.A. Konrath, has written six Jack Daniels thrillers. The seventh, SHAKEN, will be available this October. Kilborn is the author of AFRAID, ENDURANCE, TRAPPED, and SERIAL UNCUT, (written with Blake Crouch) which has been downloaded more than 250,000 times.


 
Jeff Strand is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of such novels as PRESSURE, DWELLER, GRAVEROBBERS WANTED (NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY), BENJAMIN'S PARASITE, and THE SINISTER MR. CORPSE. His secret shame is SUCKERS, co-written with J.A. Konrath.
 
 
 
 
 
 
Blake Crouch is the author of four thrillers, DESERT PLACES, LOCKED DOORS, ABANDON, and SNOWBOUND, all published by St. Martin’s Press. His short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen, THRILLER 2, and other anthologies.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
F. Paul Wilson is an award-winning, NY Times bestselling novelist whose work spans horror, adventure, medical thrillers, science fiction, young adult, and virtually everything between. He is best known as the author of THE KEEP and creator of the urban mercenary Repairman Jack.
 
 
 
 
More book info and how to order your copy today:
 
Available for Pre-Order as a Kindle Exclusive for $2.99 (But what if I don’t have a Kindle? Yes, Virginia, you can still read DRACULAS... here's how)

Join Me This Saturday For An Exclusive Interview!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Draculas (A Novel of Terror) -- Review

Please join me on my blog this coming Saturday, October 16 for an exclusive interview with these 4 authors, as they tackle The Eleven Questions to Fame Blog Tour. Very funny, hopefully insightful.


Joe asked me last week to look over his new release, and when I agreed, I was given the full copy to peruse. He and I met years ago in an online writing group, and I designed Joe's first web-site. With the horror genre not being my particular favourite in which to write (although I have two published short-stories in the genre), I wasn't sure what to expect. But knowing Joe's writing, I also knew I wouldn't be disappointed.

And I wasn't. The book certainly delivered on its promise to supply the reader with fresh meat, blood and lots of mangled bodies.

At first, I was taken aback by the inclusion of a Prologue. Editors generally cut these, as they hardly ever lend anything of interest to the story. But this one was done in a cleverly-deceptive way, so as to make you forget you were reading the prologue, and therefore I put my blistering fax away, without needing to give Joe a good piece of my mind (I need all of the pieces I can keep).

The book doesn't have the average chapter headings--it's merely written from various POVs from the different characters involved, and I found myself loving that device the longer I read.

The action starts almost immediately and is just relentless, so for a while, I caught myself thinking, 'How in hell are they going to sustain this momentum for another 300 pages?' And then I realised the story itself isn't that long. So in retrospect, it was just long enough to be satisfying.

I'm a professional stand-up comedienne, tv/stage comic actress and I've been published in the comedy genre, so it's VERY difficult to make me laugh. I think all comics are that way. But I must admit, I laughed out loud in SEVERAL places. And it wasn't cheap one-line humour that kept me laughing--it was comedy, sparking across the gap of the character's reality and their comic premise, which is where you mine for true comedy gold. When Randall corrected himself and said, "Motherhugger," in front of the kids, I just about coughed up a lung.

I was surprised, however, at the scenes with Stacie and Adam, awaiting the birth of their daughter. Sorry guys, but I'm always amazed when I see a man writing prose so tender it makes a woman cry, and I was sitting there with huge tears streaming down my face. I won't give away what happens, but let's just say, Joe, you done good, kid. And while they worked hard to make the writing seamless from everyone, I knew of two separate times when it was Joe's writing that I was reading. Maybe from spending all that time in our writing group.

The story's ending was perfect and ambiguous enough to make room for a sequel, which I think is planned. And it shocked me to learn that the total page length of the book, in .pdf form, was 411 pages, yet the story itself was far short of that. I'm just now getting into the extras of the book, and think it's great that they threw these in there. Makes you feel as if you're getting more for your money.

But, aside from some stray typos and minor repeated words, I gave this book a hearty 5-stars, because when everything is said and done, it did everything that a good story is supposed to do:

  • engage the reader
  • make the reader care about the characters
  • don't infodump or use exposition to the detriment of your story
  • tell the story in such a way as to make your reader want to keep turning those pages
  • make your characters fully human, with exposed goals and flaws
  • don't throw in extraneous humour just for the sake of a cheap laugh
  • leave your reader with a sense of needing to read about this story and the characters even further.
My thanks to Joe, Blake, Paul and Jeff, who allowed me to be a part of this.

Happy October!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

I've been doing a little decorating.  Don't you just love the lady on the broom?  She looks so snarky, donshe?

Since I'm convinced no one is reading this thing, I will do a test:

Is anyone reading this thing?  Please chime in if you are.

Kisses, and Happy Halloween!