Brain to Books Blog Tour P.H. Solomon

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Fact

What Is Needed 2
Author: P.H. Solomon
Genre: Fantasy
Books:
Trading Knives
What Is Needed
The Black Bag

Bio

IMG_4163-EditP.H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. He is currently finishing the first book of a fantasy series and hopes to see it in print soon.

Interview with P.H. Solomon

Q. How did you get started writing?
A. I started writing this book out of high school several decades ago. I almost signed a contract for it with a small publisher in the mid-90’s but backed off due to the terms. Since then I’ve toyed with writing off and on but decided to re-write the book and get serious about writing several years ago.
BOD SM VersionQ. How many books have you written prior?
A. The Bow of Destiny is my first novel-length book. I previously published a short story, The Black Bag, as an e-book.
Q. What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about? I enjoy fantasy the most so that’s what I write. The Bow of Destiny is an epic fantasy whose main character, Athson has seen things that aren’t there and suffered fits since being tragically orphaned as a child at the hands of trolls and Kregen the wizard. When a strange will mentioning a mysterious bow comes into his possession, he’s not sure it’s real. But the trolls that soon pursue him are all too real and dangerous. And what’s worse, these raiders serve Kregen and his master, the hidden dragon, Magdronu, who are responsible for the destruction of his childhood home. Athson is drawn into a quest for the concealed Bow of Hart by the mystic Withling, Hastra, but Athson isn’t always sure what’s real and who his enemies are. With Kregen and Magdronu involved, Athson must face not only frequent danger but his grasp on reality and the reasons behind his tragic past.
Q. Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it?
A. Chris Rawlins out of the UK designed the cover based on one of his own pieces named: Robin of Loxley.
Q. Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
A. Once I saw the artwork my cover is based on I knew that was what I needed. Chris was spot on with the design based on my descriptions. I’m looking forward to working with him again.
Q. Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write?
A. Tolkien heads the list but it also includes Patricia McKillip, Ursula K. Le Guin, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey and many others.
Q. What does your writing process look like?
A. Write like mad to get the rough draft out. Then make structural changes, followed by my editor’s structural changes. Then it’s onto nitty-gritty editing until the manuscript is ready for beta reading.
Q. Where do you write?
A. Wherever my laptop lands – it’s my mobile office.
Q. Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants?
A. A little of both. I like a fluid, creative outline (not the structure kind from school, it just doesn’t fit fiction). An creative outline allows for easy changes. Likewise, Scrivener is a great way to outline too since you can make structural changes easily.
Q. What book do you wish you could have written?
A. Armor by John Steakley or Mythago Wood by Robert Holdstock – both are very under-read and under-valued books that very good and I highly recommend them.
Q. Do you have a pet or pets?
A. Actually, my dogs inspired Spark.
Q. Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
A. The Outer Hebrides Islands, The Galapagos Islands, Budapest and, well, all the parts of Europe I haven’t been to yet.
Q. If you were any plant or animal, what would you be?
A. Cheetah – amazing runner!
Q. If you could have any accents from anywhere in the world, what would you choose?
A. Scottish is a fun-sounding accent but I’d really like to speak Gaelic.

Pending Projects

Trading Knives 1Book 1 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The Bow of Destiny releases9/28/2015. It can currently be found for reservation at these select online retailers: Barnes & Noble,Kobo & iBooks (via the iTunes app)
Book 2 of The Bow of Hart Saga: An Arrow against the Wind due out 1/2/2016. It can currently be found for reservation at these select online retailers: Barnes & Noble, Kobo & iBooks (via the iTunes app)
Book 3 of The Bow of Hart Saga: The White Arrow is due out Fall of 2016 (links pending).
Prequel short stories to The Bow of Hart Saga:
Champion of the Stone Rats – tentative release 9/30/2015 for free, will be on Wattpad during 9/15.
A parallel series to The Bow of Hart Saga is also in process as three novellas.
There will likely be a sequel trilogy for The Bow of Hart Saga and possibly at least a prequel book.
The Black Bag found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords & iBooks (via the iTunes app).
Guardians of the Gate epic fantasy is also a book/series in development.
The Black Glove adventure-fantasy series is also in development.

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Brain to Books Blog Tour Owen Thomas

Author: Owen Thomas
Genre: Literary Fiction

Bio

Owen Thomas

Owen Thomas is a life-long Alaskan with an abiding love of original fiction writing and storytelling whose ultimate purpose is always to reconnect the reader with humanity. Owen is a product of the Anchorage School District and a graduate of Duke University and Duke Law School. Over the years, while his responsible, wage-earning identity has been busy practicing law and running a law firm, Owen has written three novels:  Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti; The Lion Trees (Gold Medal Winner of the Global eBook Award for new adult fiction; a semi-finalist for the Kindle Book Awards, A winner of The Eric Hoffer Award for fiction, a semi-finalist forThe Amazon Kindle Book Award; a Finalist for The Beverly Hills International Book Awards and The First Horizon Book Award and awarded Honorable Mentions at The London Book Festival, The Southern California Book Festival, The Great Northwest Book Festival, The Los Angeles Book Festival, The Great Southeast Book Festival, The Pacific Rim Book Festival, The Amsterdam Book Festival, and the New York Book Festival);  and a novel of interconnected short fiction, including six novellas and four short stories, entitled Signs of Passing winner of the 2014 Pacific Book Awards for Short Fiction. Even as you read this biographical blurb, a fourth and somewhat lighter novel, Henry & Biggs – a political vampire thriller about a literary agent and his pet Beagle (yes, you read that correctly) – is currently in the works and the first dozen chapters have been posted on the Owen Thomas Fiction Blog. Additional short fiction pieces are collected and reproduced in their entirety atTiny Points of Life. Owen’s short story “Everything Stops” has been selected for publication in an anthology of short fiction published by Fiction Attic Press called “Modern Shorts”, available at Amazon. Owen’s short stories “Nothing To Worry About” and “Island Santa” have recently been released for purchase at Blurb.com and Amazon.com, respectively.
For the fifth consecutive year since he has been measuring his commercial success as an author, Owen has not won the Orange Prize for Fiction. Also, to great acclaim, he has not won the Man Booker Prize. Most recently, in April of 2015, Owen was not nominated for a Pulitzer.
Owen fervently believes our problem is not that life is too short, but that it tends to be much too narrow.  Also, whimsy in living is far too important to take seriously. But both of those propositions are the subject of on-going litigation. In the meantime, Owen is increasingly concerned that referring to oneself in the third-person is dangerously habit-forming.

 BOOK BLURB

The Lion TreesMeet the Johns, a family of five living in Columbus, Ohio in the year 2005. George W. Bush is well into his second term. The Iraq War is raging. Hurricane Katrina has landed. The Johns family is quietly, and then not so quietly, unraveling. In shades of Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible and William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury, the Johns family story, at turns dramatic and comic, tells the stories of Hollis, Susan, David and Tilly, each in the grips of tailor-made predicaments that threaten the identities to which they cling.
Hollis Johns, a retired Ohio banker, isolates himself in esoteric hobbies and a dangerous flirtation with a colleague’s daughter. Susan, his wife of forty years, risks everything for a second chance at who she might have become. David, their eldest, thrashes to stay afloat as his teaching career capsizes in a storm of accusations involving a missing student and the legacy of Christopher Columbus. And young Tilly, the black sheep, having traded literary promise for an improbable career as a Hollywood starlet, struggles to define herself amid salacious scandal, the demands of a powerful director, and the judgments of an uncompromising writer.
By turns comical and poignant, The Lion Trees depicts a family tumbling toward the discovery that sometimes you have to let go of your identity to find out who you are.

REVIEWS

EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1 – David

“Who is the most important historical figure you can name?”
They stare at me, bright and twinkling with attention. Soaking me in. Assessing me. Measuring me against the others. And I am ready for them.
                  I sit on the edge of the desk and swing my leg, looking from face to face, letting them take stock before getting down to business. The first-day energy is palpable. Fresh, young, hungry minds.  I roll a stick of chalk from one palm to the other like dice. They blink at me.
                  “Don’t be shy, folks. No judgment here. Who do you think is the most important historical figure of all time?”
                  Swing, swing, swing. Roll, roll, roll. Blink, blink.
                  “Anybody. Anybody at all. Don’t all dive in at once.”
                  Blink, blink.
                  “How about you… over in the back there… what’s your name?” I look at my seating chart. “Ashley? What do you think, Ashley?”
                  She is startled. I smile and nod. I am reassuring. I am encouraging. I am everything a teacher must be. A guide. A shepherd. I turn to the virgin green board behind me with a quickness and uncoiling energy that makes them jump. Beneath “Mr. Johns” I dramatically click chalk to slate, poised to write. A display of trusting servitude.  A humble scribe.
I wait. I wait.
                  “Madonna,” she says, finally, with a pop of gum for punctuation.
                  “M…” I write the first letter and turn. “Mother of Christ?” I ask, hopefully. I am an optimistic person.
                  Ashley screws up her face, rapidly cocooning her forefinger in a spiraling strand of purple glop. “Huh?”
So maybe I’m not an optimistic person. I think of myself as an optimistic person, which is really very different than actual optimism. The irony is, my self-concept as an optimistic person may be the only true claim I have to actual optimism. Every morning I come to consciousness with this belief – this understanding – of who I am today. I stretch and I yawn and I swing my feet from the bed to the floor and so it begins. I am an optimistic person. I feel optimistic. People are basically good. My life is a communion with well-intentioned souls. Everything is, more or less, as it should be. Yesterday did not happen. History is a fiction. Each day I am reborn.
Reborn, apparently, into a life plagued by some cruel, recurring amnesia.  Because yesterday did, in fact, happen. And so did the day before yesterday. And the day before that.
“You mean… Madonna… the, um…”
“Yeah. You know… Madonna.” Ashley says this with enough self-evident incredulity to level mountains. Her neon-frosted eyes roll over and down to a girl in the next row – Brittany Kline, according to my seating chart – who shrugs back at Ashley uncomprehendingly.
“Okay. Madonna.” The name goes on the board. I am unphased. I am young and hip and rolling with it. “Why Madonna?” I roll up my sleeves and cross my arms. I am in the trenches. On the front lines, making a difference.
“It’s not like I listen to her now or anything cuz she’s totally old and everything, but she’s like totally opened a lot of doors for women in this culture and around the world by empowering them to express their sexuality and taking a stand and everything like that.”
Bad start. That’s all. Luck of the draw. This will get better. I keep moving.
“Okay. Okay. Fair enough.” I arch the chalk through the air from left hand to right. “Let’s get some more names on the board. Give me someone important that goes way, way back. Let’s gowaaaaaayyyyy back. Pull out all the stops. Whaddaya got? Mr. Onaya, go for it. Who’s your favorite historical figure?”
“George Washington.”
“Yes!” Bam! On the board! I’m rolling. “Who’s next? Ms. Kent. Lemme have it.”
“Abraham Lincoln.”
“Okay. Good. Good. Next. Alicia, who’s your favorite?”
“George Washington.”
“We already have him.”
“Yeah, but he’s my favorite.”
“Okay, good. But give me some other important historical figure I can put up here so we can talk about what makes them influential today.”
“But I like George Wa…”
“You don’t have to like the person, you just have to think they played an important role historically.”
“Abraham Lincoln.”
I underline the name that, like George Washington’s, is already on the board. The pressure between my molars is beginning to show in my temples. “Try again.”
“Indiana Jones.”
My theory is that all optimists are, of necessity, “historically challenged.” Optimism is a kind of dementia caused by a weakness of memory. A pleasant by-product of a serious mental deficiency. Optimists are not to be admired or emulated. They are to be pitied. Wiley Coyote was an optimist.

INTERVIEW WITH OWEN THOMAS

Welcome to the Tour, Owen. Tell us a bit about your target audience.
My target audience consists of people who enjoy reading and who like pondering and talking about what they are reading with others. The Lion Trees is a very rewarding book club read because there is so much to interpret, process and discuss. My rough, very unscientific sense of the demographics of the readers who have enjoyed the book seems to skew older (it is not a book for young or impatient readers), educated (consistent with character-driven fiction generally), and female (given the focus on family, relationships, and some strong female characters struggling mightily to be themselves). There are plenty of exceptions to that general demographic sketch: many men have really enjoyed this book, as have those without graduate degrees. So, I go back to the single most important common denominator within the target audience: you have to consider reading an important pastime. It’s a big book – 1600 pages – and it takes a certain kind of reader to say, yes, I want to read all of those pages. If there is a phrase to help find that demographic, “modern classic” comes to mind as a possibility. Reviewers have drawn loose comparison to Updike’s Rabbit Run, to Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, to Dr. Zhivago, Gone with the Wind, and The Thorn Birds. I am not nearly so vain or delusional as to put The Lion Trees on that shelf. Rather, my point is that The Lion Trees seems to have the “feel” of a modern classic – particularly given its length, breadth of story and thematic depth – and that might be the right way to define its target audience.
Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing?
My other life, the one that pays the bills, is spent as a lawyer. For the past twenty-five years I have practiced employment and commercial litigation in Anchorage, Alaska, where I manage a medium-sized law firm. Long before I ever went to law school (Duke Law 1990) I have been writing fiction. It is fair to say that creative writing started in grade-school English class and I just never stopped. My novel The Lion Trees took roughly ten years to write, much of it twenty and thirty minutes at a time, sitting in the front seat of my car in between meetings and court appearances. When I am not representing clients or making up characters I am photographing and otherwise enjoying the grandeur of Alaska and the paradise of Hawaii.
Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable. I have had innumerable false starts; books that I leapt into with a great deal of enthusiasm and then for one reason or another abandoned before completion. Some turned out to be too ambitious while others were simply bad ideas and still others died on the vine because I was not aggressive enough in investing the time. Ten years ago I wrote a novel called Lying Under Comets: A Love Story of Passion, Murder, Snacks and Graffiti. I am still in the process of reworking that book, which has not yet been submitted for publication. I am publishing a book of connected short fiction, entitled Signs of Passing, which I expect to be out later this summer. I am also closing in on the completion of two other novels, one as yet untitled and one about a literary agent and his pet Beagle, entitled Henry & Biggs.
What genre do you enjoy writing the most and what is this book about? My preferred and most natural genre is literary fiction. Even within that already catchall genre, I think I am fairly versatile and can cover a lot of ground, from high drama to suspense to full-on humor. The Lion Trees is about a family living in 2005 Ohio that is, collectively and individually, coming unraveled by circumstances seemingly out of their control. Thematically, The Lion Trees, by turns dramatic and comedic, takes a hard look at the power of self-identity to control the course of our lives.
What inspired you to write this book? Hallucinogenic mushrooms. Kidding. In the most general sense, my purpose is to entertain. As a fiction writer, I want to provide readers with an enjoyable and meaningful diversion that they will carry around with them for a while. On top of that, however, my motivation in writing this particular book was to elucidate the psychological phenomenon at the core of the story and which propels each of the characters along their various arcs. In a nutshell, that psychological phenomenon is this: we tend to work very hard to shape our lives in a way that reaffirms what we think about ourselves. At the core of our motivation is an identity and we will nurture and protect that identity at all costs – in every relationship, in every accomplishment and failure, at every pivotal juncture – even if that identity is maladaptive and based on nothing more than a calcification of misunderstandings we adopted as children. The person who believes he is underserving, or always misunderstood, or wrongly accused, etc., will work very hard in his life to make sure that identity is affirmed again, and again. Even if makes him miserable. Even if it kills him.
How did you come up with the title of your book?The Lion Trees is about, among many other things, a Hollywood feature film called The Lion Tree. One of the main characters in the book is the star of that movie (if it ever gets made). The movie is an adaptation of a short story written by one of the other characters in the book. The name of the short story is The Lion Tree. That short story has at is center a parable about a man whose family is devoured by a pride of lions while out on a safari in Africa. So the title to this novel in part derives from the titles of these works of fiction that fit one inside the other like Russian nesting dolls. More broadly, however, The Lion Trees refers to the metaphor that animates all of the plots and characters in this book: the lion tree marks the place in our lives at which we adopt a self-conception, an identity, that threatens to devour us from the inside out.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork? I worked with a consultant (Taughnee Stone at Launch the Book) to come up with an image that captured both the title and literary feel of the book. The Lion Trees, while very funny and contemporary in its style, also has a romantic, philosophical, modern-classic feel. We wanted the dominant image to be simple and iconic and for the cover to have a weathered, well-read look to it.
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters? It is an interesting question, since one of the major storylines in The Lion Trees is about adapting a piece of literature to the Silver Screen and finding the right actors to play the various characters that inhabit the written work. The author of the fictional work on which the movie is to be based is a guy named Angus Mann. One of the stars of the movie declares that Angus bears a passing resemblance to Robert Forrester, so I suppose Angus would have to be played by Robert Forrester. As for the other characters, I will forego this opportunity to superimpose my own visual conception of the characters. I would prefer that the readers form their own conceptions of, and relationship with, the characters.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write? That is one of those questions that is fair to ask and, for me, nearly impossible to answer. I have been inspired by so many writers and books that to name one or a few does an almost unpardonable disservice to all of the others. So let me answer it this way. The Lion Trees as a literary creation was inspired by several different writers and books. The structure of the novel as a story told in a variety of different voices and tenses each handing off to another was inspired by Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible. Some of the social-satirical elements of the book, as well as the hubristic aspects to Hollis Johns was at least partly inspired by Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full and his brilliant character Charles Croker. Aspects of the arc of Tilly Johns, the sexual rebelliousness of her character and the relationship she has with her brother Ben owe something to William Faulkner’sThe Sound and the Fury. The nesting of a story within a story (a novel called The Lion Trees about a movie called The Lion Tree, based on a short story called The Lion Tree, which is written around a parable of The Lion Tree) had its first inspiration from Margaret Atwood’s The Blind Assassin. The Johns family as a study of intimate, history-driven dysfunction was at least partly inspired by Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections. The short story by Angus Mann (a fictional character) and all of its circa 1960, stripped-down science fiction born of nuclear paranoia was inspired by the incomparable Ray Bradbury. The list goes on. There is no better fuel and inspiration for writers than good writing.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?  I am confronted with this question every time someone asks “So what do you do?” It’s a question people seem to ask me a lot when I travel. I am increasingly torn by this question. What do I do? A year ago, when my life as a fiction writer was still largely a secret, I would not hesitate to answer, “I’m a lawyer,” usually followed by some mildly informative qualifier like, “mostly employment litigation,” or, “I manage a medium-sized law firm in Anchorage, Alaska.” I wouldn’t deign to call myself a writer, even though I did write a lot of fiction. Even though I wrote all the time. Even though writing is the thing I most enjoy. Well. Not counting sex and coffee ice cream and a good bourbon and a long list of other indulgent diversions. The point is that introducing myself as a fiction writer was always a quickly stifled impulse. It felt somehow wrong – dishonest, vain, pretentious – like I was laying claim to something not rightfully mine. In that split second before thought becomes an actual sound slipping the larynx, the lawyer in me always managed to elbow his way to the opening of my mouth, right hand raised, and took the oath of occupation. “What do I do? Well, I’m a lawyer.”
But then, in one giant step, The Lion Trees moved from the novel living and growing in the privacy of my laptop to a published work of fiction. Two volumes. Sixteen hundred pages. Six pounds of words. Reviews have been embarrassingly good. In less than a year The Lion Trees has racked up a dozen international book awards. People are now actually purchasing the fiction I write (fiction-fiction, not legal-argument fiction). They want to know where they can find these books and if I will sign them. It has been an experience like no other; like watching some chartreuse peony open up outside your window. So when a fellow passenger asked me on a recent trip to Seattle, “so what do you do?” what do you think I told him? “I’m a lawyer,” I said. “Mostly employment litigation.” I was baffled by my own response. If I cannot lay claim to being a writer now, after all that has happened, then when? By the time we landed in Seattle, I was working on a minor epiphany. I realized that the lawyer in me has been counseling the writer in me to hold out for a better question. Questions usually imply answers, or at least types of answers. Every lawyer knows that. The writer in me has been unwilling to stoop to pick up the question, “so what do you do?” and try to make something respectable of it. I “do” all kinds of things. Writing is not something I “do.” It’s who I bloody am. I don’t remember when that identity first took root; it has been coming on quietly for a very long time. But whenever it may have started, it’s here now. I just haven’t yet gotten comfortable declaring that to others. The next time some guy in an aisle seat leans over and asks, “so who are you, deep down in the pit of our soul?” I’m swinging for the fences. I’m going to nail it. Writer. That’s me.
What does your writing process look like?  Given the other professional demands on my life, my “writing process” includes trying to find as many spare minutes laying around to string together and actually be creative. Sometimes that is quite difficult. I wrote a great deal of The Lion Trees sitting in my car in the middle of fast-food restaurant parking lots between meetings and court appearances. In an ideal week, I am able to devote Saturday and Sunday mornings to writing; maybe four to five hours each day. That writing time is important because it allows a deeper focus. On those days I try not to do anything before writing – I do not open the newspaper. I do not turn on the radio or television. I avoid conversation. The less of the everyday world that is in my head, the better I am able to immerse myself in the world of whatever I am writing. If I am able to write in the afternoons and evenings, I tend to spend that time editing simply because by then the real world has invaded my thoughts to such an extent that filling the blank page with fresh thoughts and new words is much more difficult. I tend to write and edit in layers as I work my way through a book (as opposed to writing one draft and then going back to the beginning and writing a new draft, etc.), so once I finish that last page, the book is really about 80-90% complete. Thereafter, I comb through the book several times, but the edits tend to be fairly minor.
Where do you write? There is a couch in my den at home that provides me with a comfortable, out of the way, space. Sometimes too comfortable. It is not uncommon for my ‘writing time’ to look an awful lot like ‘nap time.’ As I have already mentioned, I have written a frightening percentage of my books in the front seat of my car sitting in some parking lot outside any number of sandwich shops. Having a mobile writing studio has allowed me to steal some valuable writing time from the little spaces over lunch and between meetings and court hearings. Every so often I will go to the local library with a set of headphones and a laptop and camp out for a while. For editing and book marketing work, various coffee houses around Anchorage have sufficed. It is probably worth noting that, for me anyway, the process of “writing” involves more than the process of typing. Writing for me requires a lot of pondering and problem solving and, to that extent, I spend a lot of time “writing” as I walk around a lake near where I live, or drive nowhere in particular, or sit in some public place staring out into space or watching people do whatever it is they are doing. Put to good use, all of that time is integral to my creative process. Not put to good use, all of that time starts to look a lot like idle daydreaming. Or suspicious loitering.
Are you a plotter or do you write by the seat of your pants? I’m more of a seat-of-my-pants guy although it is more a combination of both and I don’t really have a formula. A concept or idea will take root in my head and I will carry it around with me, usually for a long time. Eventually, I start to get ideas onto a computer screen. Then, like drops of water on a window, those ideas start to coalesce into something larger. Before long, the book starts to develop its own voice; its own presence in the world. I tend not to prepare detailed outlines because I think there is a real danger of creative confinement. The book can change out from under me and I want to allow that process as much as possible. If written organically (a term I use to distinguish my idea of creative writing from a kind of reverse-engineered, plot-manufacturing process), the characters and the story will tell you where they want to go. For me, writing is a very dynamic process that moves forward in the interplay between the writer and the story. If the writer tries to set it all down in stone at the beginning of the process, he or she is missing out on what to my mind is the best part. There is an awful lot to learn about the story you are telling that you simply do not know in the beginning. Getting to know your characters and their situation is like getting to know anyone else. It takes time and a willingness to adapt to new information and jettison preconceived notions.
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors? My advice would be this: don’t worry about selling. Kick the commerce part of it out of the room for the writing phase and lock the door. Don’t write what the market expects you to write. Don’t write something you think will sell. Write with the sole purpose of doing justice to the creative vision in your head. Write something good. Write something authentic. Write something that moves you and you will move others. Have fun. Worry about selling later.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful? Reviews! The single most helpful thing readers can do is to write a review of the book – it does not have to be long and detailed – and then post the review on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes&Noble, and/or LibraryThing. After that, sign on to the social media platform of your choice and recommend it to your friends.
What are you working on now? You mean aside from staying employed, married and solvent? I am on the verge of releasing a collection of short fiction called Signs of Passing. The book is comprised of four short stories and six novellas, all loosely connected to each other through characters and all organized around the theme of knowing when your life is no longer working and having the insight and courage to pick another direction. I am also about half-way through an as yet untitled novel set in south Texas, a second collection of short fiction entitled Tiny Points of Life, and an odd political-vampire-adventure-romp called Henry & Biggs, starring a New York literary agent and his pet Beagle. All of those projects (except the untitled novel) are represented on my author website (OwenThomasFiction.com).
What do you want your tombstone to say? “Edited for length without permission.”
If you had a supernatural power, what would it be? I host a fiction blog that has previously included a feature in which I pose thought-provoking but generally useless questions to followers on social media and then compile the most original answers. The first question in that series was this: if you had the power to fly or to be invisible which would you choose and why? One of my favorite responses was “If you’re invisible, you can fly anywhere you need to go. Pick the Lear jet of your choice and go. Who needs to fly as a superpower? Invisibility gets you both.” For anyone who is interested, the other answers are collected here. My own preference would be to have the power to pick up a book and instantly absorb the entirety of its contents. At my current rate of literary consumption, I’m never going to finish all the good books in the world. Sigh.
What book are you reading now? I never seem to be reading just one book. Currently, I am reading Orfeo by Richard Powers and The Luminaries by Eleanor Cotton. I just finished Lexicon by Max Barry and I have The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins cued up on

MAIN CHARACTER INTERVIEW (DAVID JOHNS):

So, David Johns, what seems to be the problem?
Problem? What makes you think there’s a problem?
I read the back cover of The Lion Trees.
Oh. Right. Well, in that case, the problem is that life as I know it is over.
That doesn’t sound good. What’s the issue? Work? Relationship? Money?
Yes. Yes. And yes. Also, I’m likely to be showering in prison for the rest of my natural life.
Wow. Not good.
 
Right? Believe me, you don’t want the details.
 
Sure I do. Let’s have it.
Okay. Where to start… I’m a high school history teacher living in Columbus, Ohio. I teach in the same school from which I graduated, so I haven’t really advanced very far in life. My father hates that I don’t have a business degree and that I never followed him into banking. Well, “hates” is probably the wrong word for what he feels because “hates” implies a certain active energy and my father basically gave up on me actually accomplishing anything in my life a long time ago. I live in a condo he paid for just to get me out of the house. He pays my mortgage most months, which really has not helped any.
Okay, not ideal, but not so terrible. What about your mother?
Mom spends most of her time taking care of my younger brother, Ben, who has Down Syndrome. When she’s not doing that, she obsesses over my sister’s movie career and keeps rigorous track of my father’s drinking. She thinks I try to avoid them on a regular basis.
Why would she think that?
Who knows? Probably because I try to avoid them on a regular basis. I went over to their house the other night to take Ben out to a movie. I snuck him out a back window rather than going in through the front door. That didn’t go over so well with Mom. She likes to worry. She worries that I’ve become a pothead.
Why is she worried about that?
I… I really have no idea.
So your sister is in the movie business?
Yeah, Tilly’s out there in Hollywood. Her career is really taking off. Just nominated for an award at Sundance. Mom is kind of star-struck with the whole thing. Dad hates it, of course.
Really? Why does he hate it?
 
Well, partly because mom is so enthralled with Tilly’s success; they can never agree on anything where Tilly is concerned. A lot of hard feelings there. But I think it’s mostly because Tilly kind of… sort of… just a little bit likes to sleep with her directors and show up on the grocery store tabloid racks as a sex monster. Dad doesn’t like that much. Neither does mom. But all of my students love it. My sister’s sex life is the only thing they want to learn anything about. They sure don’t want to learn anything about history.
Look, David, you seem to be a smart, good-looking man with a good job and a family that still accepts your phone calls. If you don’t mind me saying, it sounds to me like your life has some of the same basic family, career and self-concept issues that most people have in some form or another. I’m not sure why you think your life is so bad.
You’re right. I know, I know. You’re right. I’m probably over-reacting to all of the little things. Like my girlfriend secretly sleeping with one of my colleagues. And the fact that the Columbus School district wants to fire me for teaching the truth about Christopher Columbus and George Bush. Oh, and that little, niggling problem of the Columbus Police Department trying to lock me up for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute and – not to be forgotten – for abducting and morally corrupting one of my female students. Silly to worry about that kind of thing, I know. All I need is a really good criminal defense lawyer and I’ll be fine. In fact, I already have a good criminal defense attorney. Glenda Laveau. Three hundred pounds of silken, jewel-toned courtroom aggression. Sadly, what I do not have is any money to pay Glenda’s fees. My current options seem to be trading sex for legal representation or asking my father for a whole lot of extra money. Did I mention my home has been destroyed and all of my pet fish are dead? I don’t know why I can’t just roll with these things. Like you say, everyone has these kinds of problems. Like the body of the teenage girl they just found in a dumpster, burned beyond recognition. How silly of me to just automatically conclude that it must be my missing student and that people carrying guns will think I had something to do with it. Right? Silly. Anyway, I’ve got go. Someone’s at the door.

 Connect with the Author

FACEBOOK:Owen Thomas
TWITTER:@OTFiction
PINTEREST:OTFiction
PUBLISHER WEBSITE:OTF Distribution
AMAZON:
BARNES & NOBLE:
GOODREADS:
LIBRARYTHING:
INTERVIEWS:           Moterwriter.com Interview

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Owen’s Giveaways!

Amazon Giveaway (five copies of The Lion Trees, Part I: Unraveling and five copies of The Lion Trees, Part II: Awakening will be available for free from Amazon on a first come, first serve basis, from September 1 through September 7. Reviews are encouraged.).
Discounts – 50% off Paperback and Kindle Versions (for the month of September, reviews encouraged)

See the Brain to Books Blog Tour Giveaways with Lu!

Brain to Books Blog Tour Alastair Swinnerton

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Facts

Author: Alastair Swinnerton
Genre: Fantasy/SciFi Blend (Time Travel with Fantasy Elements)
Books: The Multiverse of Max Tovey of The Hamdun Chronicles

Bio

Alastair has been writing for children’s television for over twenty five years. Among his many credits are ‘The Wombles’, ‘Sabrina, Secrets of a Teenage Witch’, and the Bafta-nominated CBBC Christmas Special ‘The Tale of Jack Frost’, which he wrote, co-produced and co-directed. He was also one the co-creators of Lego® Bionicle®. ‘The Multiverse of Max Tovey’ is his first Young Adult novel.
Headshot colourAlastair lives in Somerset with his family, and spends much of his spare time walking the dog, more often than not at his beloved Ham Hill.

Accomplishments/awards

*Earned nominations for Best Animation at the BAFTAs and Best TV Special at the Pulcinella Awards in 2005 for The Tale of Jack Frost.
* Won Top-performing series on CITV for the summer of 2000 and received a special mention for graphics at the Pulcinella Awards in 2000 for his television show The Baskervilles, a cartoon series that developed a large cult following in the early 2000s.
*Emmy nominated in 1998 and won the 1998 New York Film & TV Festival Award for Best Children’s Program ages 2-6 for his work on Season 2 and 3 of The Disney Channel’s Amazing Animals.
* Nominated for an Irish Film & TV Award for Best Animation in 2008 for his work on Wobbly Land.

Blurbs

3D TMOMT Cover Fourteen year old Max Tovey’s world is blown apart when he discovers that his problems are nothing to do with him, and everything to do with being a Time Traveller. Following his mysterious grandfather’s funeral, Max finds himself on a wild journey through first century Celtic Britain, real and mythological, as his every action threatens to change the past, and his future.
Max battles demons – both real and psychological – on his mission to find the legendary Montacute Cross, stolen by his Viking ancestor Tofig, in order to close the gates to the Underworld, and lift the curse on his family.

Book Reviews 

“Exciting… A Heart-racing Romp through Time”
–Alex Marwood, Edgar Award-winning author of ‘The Wicked Girls’
“This book was great, overall. Fun, a little dark, and I would buy it for every kid I know if I could! 4/5–fun and deep.”
—Kelly Smith Reviews
 

Excerpt

Max felt a little faint, almost like he’d just stepped off a boat and the world was still rocking back and forth.
“It will stop soon,” said someone behind him. Max turned, to see a man with short, well-cut blonde hair dressed in a smart dark blue suit.
“That feeling in your head. It will stop soon.”
Max looked around at his new surroundings, a white-painted room full of monitors, and a big window looking out onto what looked like hospital beds, their occupants seemingly asleep, attached to all manner of wires and tubes. A man in shirt sleeves came into the room and stopped and stared as he saw Max. “He’s here?” said the man in alarm. He sat down at the monitors quickly, checking the sleepers’ vital functions.
“It’s alright Wilson – Stenton brought him in. He had to think quickly.”
 “Where am I?” said Max. “And who are you?”
“I am Major Willoughby, and you are in the TRD. Time Research Department. Welcome Max – we’ve been following your life since, well since it began really.”
“Time Research Department?” said Max, a little cynicism creeping into his voice. “What, like agovernment department? Are you a secret agent or something?”
The Major laughed. “No Max, nothing so glamorous I’m afraid. This isn’t Doctor Who.”
Now Max looked closer at the occupant of one of the beds.
“That’s Nick! What’s he doing in that bed? He just rescued me from…”
“Yes, we saw. We can see everything The Dreamers do in these monitors here.”
Max stared at the Major, then held his hand up, taking a minute to try to work things out. But he couldn’t.
“Nick is a time traveller, as are the other five. Somehow they access the Multiverse – the infinite possible futures of the Fifth Dimension, and the alternative Presents of the Sixth. Like you, they have something missing in their brains that makes us see Time as a straight line – but unlike you, they can’t Travel when they’re awake. Only you can do that, that we know of, except of course your late grandfather, and anyone who has The Majyga. And so they sleep, and dream, and through them we make sure the Past, and the Present, remains stable. Which we have done – until now.”
“Where do they come from?”
 
“Percy found them shortly after he started Travelling himself,” said the Major. “He was still working for Intelligence as a code breaker then. Things kept changing in history, and he couldn’t work out why – then he found these guys. They didn’t even know they were doing it at first, but slowly they realised, and started taking advantage, changing history for their own ends. Percy tracked them down, one by one, and brought them to us. We were a dream research establishment at the time, but he realised we – and these Travellers – could be put to work for the good of the world, changing it subtly to right historical wrongs.”
Max was struggling. “So, you are government then…?”
“Well, a few people in various governments know about us, yes. But they don’t interfere. We rather scare them.”

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Brain to Books Blog Tour Aurelia Maria Casey

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Facts

Author: Aurelia Maria Casey
Genre: fantasy and science fiction, with occasional hints of romance and thriller
Books: Sorcerous & Beastly Season 1 from the Sorcerous & Beastly Series

Bio

Aurelia Marie Casey (1)

When I’m not hanging out in my fairy court conversing with you, my readers, and occasionally my characters, I am a fashion designer and a biomedical engineer because I love transforming ideas from my imagination to reality. It’s the same thought process as storytelling, really. Just a different medium.
I write the stories that my imagination won’t let me forget about. These stories fall into many different genres and for many different age groups. (Don’t worry, I keep the forums and podcasts PG-13 and I rate my books the same way Hollywood rates movies, so you’ll always know what to expect). I love exploring story from many perspectives, so I started a book club where we can discover new authors in a breadth of genres.

Accomplishments

Editor of an annual Domestic Violence Awareness short story and poetry anthology, the proceeds of which get donated to support victims and survivors.

Blurb

Aurelia Marie Casey (4)A villain Death is afraid of. One girl left to die in the Enchanted Forest, the other ran away and got stuck there. A lord playing prince and a prince who breaks the law. Can they overcome impossible odds and find each other in time to do what Death won’t?
Hi.
I’m Death, and this is a story about a time I failed.
But honestly, I had almost nothing to do with anything that happened. So it isn’t really my fault.
You see, there’s someone who terrifies me. He’s done some truly horrific things. Basically, he’s the cruelest man alive.
I’m going to start at the prophecy, because until then I was avoiding my job. The prophecy made me hope that someone else would save me from having to be a hero.
Heroism really isn’t my thing. I traverse the world of the living and collect souls who are ready to move on to the afterlife. Nothing heroic about that.
Anyway, after the prophecy I started paying attention to life again, just to keep track of things. It’s taken me a long time to gather all the pieces of this story. It’s about some real strong girls and boys, men and women, who managed to accomplish something I thought was impossible.
I’ll let you judge for yourself whether or not I’m a coward for staying mostly on the sidelines.

ExcerptAurelia Marie Casey (2)

I suppose you might think that I’m only making excuses. You could be right. This story certainly wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t been scared. Cowardly, perhaps. But I’m not telling you this story for my benefit. I’m telling you this story because someone needs to remember. Someone needs to hold me accountable for all the lives I’ve ruined.
So. To begin:
Once upon a time, far, far away, there was an enchanted forest. To the east and west of this forest were impassable mountains. To the north and south were two kingdoms which had almost nothing to do with each other. Many generations ago there had been a large road through the enchanted forest which connected these two kingdoms, but when the Wolf Queen usurped control over the enchanted kingdom it became impassable. After years of traders entering the forest on that road and never returning, these two countries grew apart. There remained a small amount of diplomatic contact but the sea-voyage was treacherous and ships were nearly as unreliable as the trade road had become.
The kingdom in the north was called Manassa and it was the most dreary of rainy, foggy, damp countries. The Manassans were primarily interested in fighting the nomadic reindeer-herding barbarians in the far north. Having no good grazing land, the Manassans fought fiercely to survive in their stone fortresses, scraping by with what little wheat could be grown in the stony soil.
The kingdom in the south, known as Sacor, was vibrant and lush with the perfect balance of seasons. In fact, it was so lovely that the fairies caught in the Enchanted forest were jealous that mere humans could live in such a fairyland. As a collective of dukedoms, ruled over by one duke elected to the Governorship every twenty years, the Sacorans were a peace-loving and cultured society. They had little interest in warring with other countries, and luckily had nothing of value to other countries. The worst spat of violence Sacor had experienced in its history was a great duel between two young noblemen over who would marry the Governor’s daughter, fabled to be the most beautiful woman in all the world. Or so the fairies claimed.
But one day, all the magical creatures everywhere in the world disappeared. They vanished, and no-one could discover where they went or why they left. Fairies and elves became legend and hobgoblins and pixies became stories to frighten children. Sorcerers practiced their arts in secret, and witches were laughed at.
Still, nobody was brave enough to enter the Enchanted Forest.
Until one day a Sacoran father-to-be, desperate for a remedy for his pregnant wife, wandered over the edge of his garden and into the forest. He was chasing after snowdonia hawkweed, which is a real plant although it is extremely rare and difficult to find, because the midwife told him its healing properties would ease the birthing.
Fortunately for him, before he could go far enough to be noticed by the Wolf Queen’s spies, the last mamitu stopped him. She was bony-thin from hunger, her black hair hanging thin and stringy down her back. Despite this, her black ridged horns twisted delicately from her temples crowning her with dignity.
She sent him home, saying his wife would come through her labor safely and his firstborn would become the greatest queen in all the world. Before he could thank her, she loped away, drawing the wolf spies after her. The mamitu had stopped him before he could cross the inner ward and he returned unscathed from the forest’s edge to find all as the mamitu had decreed
-<>-
Almost exactly ten years later, Viola was almost to the stone wall at the very back of the gardens. She could see the ward crystals glittering when the breeze moved the foliage to let the sunlight through. The ward crystals were superstitious nonsense: everyone knew that, but everyone used them anyway, which was a good thing, because they did work only nobody remembered that because the magical creatures had disappeared centuries before. Viola and Robbie, the stable boy, had been sneaking out to play just past the wall, where none of the servants would think to look for her.
A bumble bee buzzed around the blooming roses, and she smiled. Soon she would have the freedom to stop and smell the roses too.
Viola was running away. She thought the stories her nurse told her of the monsters in the forest were scary, but she felt that her upcoming tenth birthday celebration was more terrifying than pixies and wolves and enchantresses. Dresses were inconvenient, hot, and itchy. She hated cakes and icing and fruit punch. But most of all, she hated how everyone would be expecting her to look the part of a future queen and would see her awkward, clumsy, shy, self. Somehow whenever she had to speak to anyone important she started stuttering and couldn’t remember anything she was supposed to know. Of course, this included her parents who consequently thought her to be stupid and lazy. But they couldn’t entirely ignore her because of the Mamitu’s prediction when she was born: that she would grow up to become a queen. Viola had no desire to be a queen. All she wanted was to be left alone. So far as she could tell, queens had to do everything she hated: studying boring books, planning parties, talking to strangers. Math and genealogies. Ugh! She shuddered at the thought and ran the rest of the way to the wall.
She was about to clamber up and over it when she heard a crash-clatter-thump behind her.

Interview with Aurelia

Angela B. Chrysler: I want to take a moment to welcome Aurelia Maria Casey author of [add however many titles you would like] available on [add link]. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Ms. Casey. Please take a moment to tell us about your book.
ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
AMC: Well, unlike most of my stories, the story spark for Sorcerous & Beastly was actually a variation of Cinderella and Ella Enchanted that I came up with when I was about twelve. It wasn’t the first story spark I had that was worth pursuing, but it’s the first one that’s finished.
ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?
AMC: I’ve read a lot. I think most of my research was understanding fairy tale and fantasy novel tropes, so I could pick which elements would work and which were too cliche and boring. There are a few cliche things that I kept on purpose because I wanted readers aware that there may be some fairy tale elements to watch out for. Sorcerous & Beastly definitely isn’t pure fantasy. There are hints of mythological influences, most notably the fact that Death is a character: the narrator, in fact.
ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?
AMC: The scenes without dialog are always the hardest for me, because I worry that the narrative isn’t engaging enough without conversation. However, there are a couple characters who have more of an internal journey than an external one, so that was definitely a challenge.
ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite?
AMC: I love the part(s) where Death forgets he’s a narrator and takes action within the story itself. Also, I like when he interjects into his own narrative with asides and commentary. That’s always fun.
ABC: Which of your characters, do you relate to the most (or) who is your favorite character and why?
AMC: In Sorcerous & Beastly I definitely relate to Viola most because she is based on my seven-year-old self even though she’s ten. But my favorite character ever is Elethiere. She’s an elf and I’ve been working hard on her story since before I had the idea for Sorcerous & Beastly. Elethiere’s story is the one that propelled me to become a writer rather than merely someone with an active imagination.
ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his/her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?
AMC: I think every author I read has an influence on my writing. Sherwood Smith is my favorite author of all time. However, there are many other authors I love: Ilona Andrews, Patrick Rothfuss, Mercedes Lackey, Anne Bishop, Tolkein, CS Lewis, JK Rowling, Devon Monk, Lisa Shearin, Ashley Capes, Rachael Ritchey, to name a few. I’m working on building a database in my Fairy Court where you can find the books I would recommend from all my favorite authors.
ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?
AMC: A story is something that entertains and teaches. Everything important about how people work and interact with each other and how to overcome seemingly impossible challenges I learned from reading fantasy and romance and science fiction and literature. It’s way more fun than a psychology class, in my opinion. It’s a way to dream collectively, and then we can collectively decide which dreams to transform into reality through innovation in tech, fashion, food, etc.
ABC: Tells us about your next project.
AMC: Well, I have several projects in the works. The Necromancer of Many Faces is the first novel in the Intrigue series. If you want a peek at that world, you can read my short story Assassin, which takes place in between books 3 and 4. I’m also working on another serial called The Exclusives which is science fiction and I’ll be reading that on my podcast Storytime starting in December. You can listen to all of Sorcerous & Beastly one episode at a time starting in September. And of course I’m working on Elethiere’s story. Chains of Destruction is a short story that I originaly intended as the proglogue to Elethiere’s Story.
ABC: Where can we find you and your book?
AMC: Join my Purple Court! You get access to all sorts of cool stuff including a forum where my characters sometimes drop by to say hi, and notifications and updates whenever I publish something new. I’m also entering everyone who joins in August into a drawing to get an e-book version of the complete first season of Sorcerous & Beastly. Go to http://amcasey.com/join and start reading the stories in your starter library!
ABC: Thank you again, so much for speaking with me.

A word with Death…

Q: Go ahead and introduce yourself. Tell the audience about yourself.
Death: I’m Death. I’m immortal and stuff, and I help souls transition from living to dead.
Q: Tell us where and when were you born.
Death: I guess I was born before the beginning of time. I don’t really know. Time isn’t the same for me as it is for you mortals.
Q: How would you describe yourself?
Death: I like to think I’m dedicated and hard working. But I know most people think I’m selfish and cruel. It’s hard to be popular when your job is to help people pass from Life to the Afterlife. The Living almost never understand.
Q: Tell us about where you grew up.
Death: It was wonderful. The world wasn’t overcrowded then, so I could take my time and explore the world of the living and the world of the dead. Now I’m overwhelmed with the vast number of souls I have to collect.
Q: Tell everyone what it is you do when you’re not [verb from previous question].
Death: It’s been a really long time since I’ve been able to take a long enough break from reaping to do this, but I love collecting the stories of the dead. I find it so fascinating how their motivations change between life and death, and it’s comforting for some of them when they first cross over to know that someone remembers what they were and cares.
Q: Are you serious with anyone?
Death: No. Unlike your Hades, I don’t have a Persephone yet. Maybe I’ll find someone, but for now I am alone.
Q: Tell us about your worst fear.
Death: He’s the cruelest man alive. I refuse to allow him into the afterlife because he’ll continue to cause problems for the dead if I do. That’s all I want to say.
http://amcasey.com/join Go to my site and join the purple court for a chance to win the complete Sorcerous & Beastly Season 1, open during August only. Winners will be congratulated on Storytime at the end of Sorceorus & Beastly Episode 1 and emailed.

For the month of august, anyone who joins the Purple Court (http://amcasey.com/join) will be entered to win an ebook copy of Sorcerous & Beastly the Complete First Season. Whether or not you win you’ll get access to the starter library, world building documents, forum, and more as soon as you join.

Brain to Books Blog Tour Chrissy Moon

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Facts

Author: Chrissy Moon
Genre: Paranormal romance, women’s fiction, YA paranormal romance, horror, poetry
Books: Surreal Enemies: Angel City of the God Generation

Bio

Chrissy Moon

Chrissy Moon is the youngest of four girls, born in Orange County, California and raised in the San Fernando Valley. Her parents and sisters came to America from the Philippines in 1970, seven years before her birth.
As a teen, Chrissy wanted to work for the United Nations in New York and work as a translator. Her plan was thwarted when she got married and had a baby.
She continued her attempts to learn the basics to many languages. However, as her baby got older, and especially after her divorce, her days were spent working full-time at various office jobs. Languages have been put on the backburner, most of the basics forgotten.
Now that the baby is a high school graduate and an adult, Chrissy is able to devote more time to her writing.

Accomplishments

The cause Chrissy is most concerned with is domestic violence – its prevention, and the healing of its victims.
Her next goal is to learn about local safe houses for abused women and children.

Blurb

Someone’s been killing Slates and freeing the Melted from their ice prisons in the Heaven embassy.
The God Generation consists of supernatural entities – angels (the Worthy), demons (the Melted), and archaic gods & goddesses (the Slates), born into human flesh and living among the rest of us.
Morgan Constantina is an abuse survivor and a recovering ecstasy addict. She’s been working hard to learn how to be tough and never be anyone’s victim again.
Her new life with her loving, supportive, semi-famous boyfriend – who happens to be her former Living Guardian Angel – grows to include an addition to the family, moving to Los Angeles, meeting his gigantic family, and reluctantly co-starring in their new restaurant-based reality TV show.
Morgan learns there are Worthy authorities who keep a judgmental eye on mundane humans. One of them is quite helpful, but another has a personal agenda that could cause trouble for her.
And as she’s meeting new people, she’s also gaining some enemies.
High on the list of foes is an old family friend who’s made threats to kill her, her own mother who thinks she’s immoral and soulless, and her boyfriend’s former flame – a woman Morgan’s already met!
Surreal Enemies: Angel City is a story about the war of good and evil inside all of us, and the powerful, unforgettable force of parental love.

Excerpt

He stood in front of me, his posture a bit more relaxed than it had been for the last hour or so. Seeing the old Ree in his eyes made me want to take him in my arms and kiss him over and over, but I sensed that something still wasn’t right, so I remained still and simply listened to what he had to say. “I swear I didn’t know I have been deviating from my usual behavior. Baby, this is just me talking, this person standing before you. I am neither demon nor angel, boyfriend nor friend—I’m just this spirit who is in love with this spirit right here.” He pointed to my heart without touching it.
He kneeled in front of me then, not like a marriage proposal-type of kneel, but more like his legs gave way and he collapsed. His arms clamped around my waist so hard, at first I thought he was attacking me. But then he leaned his head on my middle and sobbed. I mean, he really cried harder than I have ever witnessed before.
“Ree, you’re acting like someone died! Please help me understand!”
Instead of the scoff that I expected, he turned to face me slowly, his eyes watering as they regarded me with a sad, faraway look.
“I’ll tell you, I’ll tell you everything…” he said, still weeping. I was immediately frightened. I had to admit this was not the way I thought this conversation would go at all. I thought he might be angry back or that he would make a sad face and tell me I was right, and proceed to reveal whatever stupid secret he had. But this…this was different. I knew then that I was about to hear something that would change me, change us, change everything.
“Oh my god,” I whispered. “Someone did die, didn’t they?” I raised my voice to a normal level. “Who was it, Ree?”
Not meeting my eyes, he continued. “Connie. And then you, less than a week later.”

Interview with Chrissy Moon

ABC: How did you come up with the idea for your book?
CM: Well, I wanted to illustrate a story about a woman overcoming domestic violence and drug addiction. She’s already overcome some really turbulent things, but now she needs to find a sort of happy medium, so she can be stable and happy without shutting out her loved ones. It’ll take her a while, because as much as she’s learned, she’s still got a long way to go.
This book is written as a standalone, but it’s technically the sequel to my debut novel from a couple years ago, Surreal Ecstasy. I had a whole mythology already set, so my challenge was to create a new story that also fits into the first book, but that can act as an entire story in and of itself. Because of this, it took me longer to write this book.
I wanted Surreal Enemies to have more action. I wanted us to delve some more into the God Generation world. I wanted my main character’s relationship with her boyfriend to kind of reach the next level. I wanted to reveal a little more about the love life of a gay supporting character, Dess. But I also wanted to introduce some new situations to the characters as they get stronger and smarter.
ABC: Stories always require some form of research. What kind of research did you do for your book?
CM: Let’s see. The locations didn’t require any research because the main characters move to the area I grew up in. I did have to ask some family members a little about how the entertainment industry works and about reality shows, because Morgan, our protagonist, ends up on one. I also asked my brother-in-law about the angel hierarchy, because he’s an expert on the subject and even teaches at church voluntarily.
Oh, I lied about the locations. I just remembered. I had to look up the Omni hotel in San Francisco and check out their room service menu and hotel suites because Dess stays there in her own narrated chapter.
ABC: Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?
CM: Hmm. I’ll try to explain this without us having to put up a spoiler alert sign. There’s a part where Morgan and her boyfriend begin to grow distant. When she finds out why, there’s an explanation and many related scenes that follow. I kept having to change small details, right up until the last minute. I also kept giving my publisher updated manuscripts when I’d already sworn numerous times that it was absolutely the final version. That whole thing about why Morgan and her boyfriend Ree had grown distant is a very delicate subject, and I had to run over it with a fine-tooth comb, because the slightest mistake would have killed the entire scene and aftermath.
ABC: Please describe your favorite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favorite.
CM: I find myself flipping a lot to the chapter where Morgan meets Snaps, the director of her boyfriend’s family’s Food TV reality show. His personality reminds me a lot of some people I know, and I find it entertaining when he says off-the-wall things. What’s even more entertaining are Morgan’s narrated reaction thoughts.
ABC: Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why?
CM: Morgan is my first published fictional creation, and because of this, her life is very personal to me. I have also had issues with possessing or relinquishing control in relationships, dealing with people who assume the worst about me, feeling misunderstood, and having that ‘me against the world’ mentality. I have also had to learn the hard way that a romantic relationship shouldn’t be the sole purpose in life, that a person should build up their core first and then find love out of want, not need.
ABC: I once read that every author is simply a compilation of his or her favorite authors. Which authors have done the most to influence your writing and why?
CM: Richelle Mead is my biggest modern influence. By the time I started writing my first novel, I had already read everything she’d written. Her books are smart, sexy, exciting, and emotional, and that’s always what I wanted to depict in my own work.
Older influences include Pearl Buck. The way she wrote The Good Earth is incredible. The narration is very simplified and nonthreatening, yet at the same time the main character experiences such a vast array of emotions and obstacles. That’s something I strive to accomplish in my work – saying what I need to say without doing a descriptive overkill. I try to make my readers feel comfortable and like they can read my stories without getting confused or having to memorize a bunch of complicated stuff.
ABC: “Story” has always been the center of all human cultures. We need it. We seek it out. We invent it. What does “story” mean to you?
CM: Good question! The way I see it, “story” comes from our spirits. It’s a part of ourselves that we mix with art and then display for others to view, appreciate, and think about. It’s intensely personal and inspires people to feel all kinds of emotions and think terrible and wonderful thoughts. “Story” is a primary example of what’s insightful and extraordinary about the human race.
ABC: Tells us about your next project.
CM: Just as Surreal Enemies is a sequel, I have another sequel I’m finishing up. This one will be the sequel to my YA paranormal romance, DayDreamer. It’s for a younger audience and is clean and sweet in terms of heat level. I had originally created Kayla, the main character of DayDreamer, to balance out my brain, because writing Surreal was too intense. DayDreamer was written in a much more light-hearted manner.
With this second installment though, Kayla’s world is going to be a little more well-rounded. She’s going to face some issues and paranormal situations that’ll challenge her abilities and morals. I have a lot planned for her, and I hope readers will enjoy watching her mature.

Connect with Chrissy

Twitter: @WriterAngel

Brain to Books Blog Tour Alan Black

Brain to Books Blog Tour

Fast Facts

Author: Alan Black
Genre: A little bit of everything
Books:
Metal Boxes - Trapped Outside 3Chasing Harpo (action/humor)
Metal Boxes (science fiction – military, space opera)
The Friendship Stones (Christian, historical, young adult – book one in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
Steel Walls and Dirt Drops – (science fiction – military)
The Granite Heart (Christian, historical, young adult – book two in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
Chewing Rocks (science fiction – space opera)
The Heaviest Rock (Christian, historical, young adult – book three in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
A Cold Winter (western novelette)
Titanium Texicans (science fiction – young adult space opera)
Empty Space (science fiction – military)
How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel (non-fiction)
The Inconvenient Pebble (Christian, historical, young adult – book four in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1925)
Metal Boxes – Trapped Outside (science fiction – military, space opera)

Bio

Bio PhotoI started writing sometime in the second grade, well over fifty years ago….I think. Gaak! Who remembers that far back? I started my first novel in 1996. His writing tastes are as eclectic as his reading preferences.
I was born in central Kansas, grew up in Gladstone, Missouri and graduated from Oak Park Senior High School, eventually earning a liberal arts degree from Longview Community college. I did spent most of my adult life in the Kansas City area. The U.S. Air Force stationed me Texas, California, Maryland, and Japan. I got married in the late 70s and I’m still married to the same woman. We now live in sunny Arizona.
I am an indie multi-genre writer who has never met a good story he didn’t want to tell. My vision statement: “I want my readers amazed they missed sleep because they could not put down one of my books. I want my readers amazed I made them laugh on one page and cry on the next. I want to give my readers a pleasurable respite from the cares of the world for a few hours. I want to offer stories I would want to read.”

Accomplishments

Black’s scifi book Metal Boxes hit #1 on Amazon.

Blurb

METAL BOXES - TRAPPED OUTSIDE COMPLETEWithout warning, Stone found himself flying across the room, smacking face first into the opposite wall. The top side of the heavy conference table slammed into his back, sandwiching him so hard he imagined he looked like mayonnaise oozing out between two pieces of bread, but it didn’t hurt. There was no noise or bright flash of an explosion. He didn’t even hear the table as gravity dragged it back to the floor, nor did he feel the slightest pain as the sandwich fell apart and he crashed down beside the table.
Stone rolled to his hands and knees. Rough hands grabbed him. Someone grabbed a fistful of hair and yanked his face upward. Numos pulled, brutally twisting his arms and legs. Stone wanted to object. He didn’t feel a thing and, although he could see Numos screaming at him, he couldn’t hear a thing.

Interview with Alan Black

Tell us a little about yourself. (How did you get started writing? What do you do when you’re not writing? What is one thing that would surprise us?) I started writing early, but I didn’t finish my first full length novel (100,000 words) until the late 1990s. Generally, when I’m not writing, I’m editing, publishing and marketing my books. This is my full time job and I put in about 60 to 80 hours a week at it.
Is this your first book? Metal Boxes – Trapped Outside is not my first book published. I’m writing my twentieth book, but I’ve only published thirteen of them so far. How many books have you written prior (if any?) List other titles if applicable.
Chasing Harpo (action/humor)
Metal Boxes (science fiction – military, space opera)
The Friendship Stones (Christian, historical, young adult – book one in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
Steel Walls and Dirt Drops – (science fiction – military)
The Granite Heart (Christian, historical, young adult – book two in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
Chewing Rocks (science fiction – space opera)
The Heaviest Rock (Christian, historical, young adult – book three in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1920)
A Cold Winter (western novelette)
Titanium Texicans (science fiction – young adult space opera)
Empty Space (science fiction – military)
How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel (non-fiction)
The Inconvenient Pebble (Christian, historical, young adult – book four in An Ozark Mountain Series – 1925)
Metal Boxes – Trapped Outside (science fiction – military, space opera)
What genre is it and what is it about? Metal Boxes – Trapped Outside is a military/space opera science fiction novel. It’s the sequel to Metal Boxes and is about the continuing adventures of Blackmon Perry Stone, a young man in service to the empire. Against his personal preferences (he is agoraphobic – that means he is afraid of being outside, not being afraid of sweaters made from goat hair), his new assignment is to lead a team doing planet pacification of a newly discovered world. Not only is it all outside, but they find a warring alien race.
What inspired you to write this book?
The feedback from the first book drove me to write the sequel.
How did you come up with the title of your book or series?
The original book Metal Boxes was titled that because the protagonist grew up in Metal Boxes (space stations and spaceships). He never ventured outside under open skies until he was in his teens. Hence, he is agoraphobic. The second title plays against the first. He is still agoraphobic, but now he is trapped outside.
Tell us a little bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that particular image/artwork?
The artwork for this new book was done by Bill Wright. You can see his artwork athttps://www.flickr.com/photos/billwrigt1/
The cover layout was done by the excellent people at The Cover Collection athttp://www.thecovercollection.com/
If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
I haven’t actually cast the actors in this book. Some I have, but in this story, I prefer the reader build their own mental image.
Just as your books inspire authors, what authors have inspired you to write? Robert Heinlein and Louis L’Amour were my two favorite authors growing up. Some people are surprised that they wrote in such disparate genres. I disagree. The only difference between scifi and westerns is location. They are still morality stories with good vs evil.
What does your writing process look like?
I actually go into my process in depth in my book How To Start, Write, and Finish Your First Novel. I pick a character that I like and throw all the nasty crap at them I can think of. By the time they get all of their problems resolved, the book is done. I don’t edit, I don’t proofread, check spelling, format or even worry about the color of the hero’s girlfriend’s hair. My rough draft is all about story and action. Then I go back and rewrite all the other stuff and start fixing my mistakes. Rule #2 in writing is that you can’t fix what ain’t been writ.
Are you a plotter or a pantster (writing by the seat of your pants)?
I am a pantser. I have a rough idea where the story might end up, but when I am in the middle of writing, I couldn’t tell you what is going to happen in the next paragraph until I’ve written it.
Who is your favorite character from your book and why? How about your least favorite character?  What makes them less appealing to you?
My favorite character to write is Harpo Marks from Chasing Harpo. He is an orangutan. Part of the book is written from his point of view. I had a lot of fun with it because I struggled not to anthropomorphize him into a semi-human. He has a sense of realism to his ape-ness, but he has grown used to humans and adopted some small characteristics. My least favorite characters are easy to spot because I kill them off. Not everyone who dies in my books is someone real, but some are. Not everyone who dies in my books is someone who I don’t like, but some are. For example I kill off a character in Metal Boxes – Trapped Outside who was modeled after a good friend of mine. She complained, but that is the way the story goes.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In ten years, I will still be writing and publishing. I don’t know where the publishing business will be, but I will be here. My list of published books will be longer as I have a goal to write four books a year.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I do read my reviews, but I never ever ever respond to them. I will answer direct questions on my website or Amazon Author Page, or Goodreads, or Facebook, or Twitter, but not a review. My best advice to bad reviews is to read them carefully. Search them diligently for clues to improve your writing. Develop a thick skin and learn that reproof will only make you better. If there isn’t anything to learn from a review, good or bad, then give a little shrug, have another glass of wine, and mentally put it aside.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
The best marketing is word of mouth. Tell someone about the book. Oh, don’t lend them the book, but write a review, tell a friend, mention it to a co-worker at lunch.
What is your best marketing tip?
I put marketing tips on my website. So far I have collected 49 different things for author to try. There is a tab for Marketing Tips on the home page.
What are you working on now?
Strangely, I am not writing scifi. I alternate scifi with something else. I am writing a Christmas Romance novel.
What do you wear while writing?
I write in gym shorts and a t-shirt. Not that I go to the gym, their just comfy.
What literary character is most like you?
There aren’t any literary characters like me. Oh, you read about guys like me in books, but we don’t get names. We’re just the tertiary character whose body is found in a dumpster by the protagonist or the guy who’s too fat to run away from the Zombies and dies in chapter two.
If you had a supernatural power, what would it be?
The ability to convince people I’m right…whether I am or not.
What is your favorite movie?
I like the movie “Silverado”. It is a fast paced western with a superb cast. It is fun without taking itself too seriously.
What makes you cry?
One of the rules of writing these days is that you can’t kill a dog or a horse. It is deadly to readers. That always makes me cry. I’ve done it, but I hated it much worse than killing people.

Connect with Alan Black

Buy the Books

Just one more day of this blog tour!

Talk about a lot of work! Didn’t realize what I signed up for when I started it, but holy moly! I Hope you all have had a chance over this past month and a half to find a few good authors to check out. I think we covered just about everything genre wise, which is impressive if you think about it. Anyways, after tomorrow we should go back to our normally scheduled posting. You all have a wonderful day!