Oct 17, 2016

Seven Questions for Andrew F. Butters

Answering #SevenQuestions this week is Andrew Butters, another of the Canadian crew of writers I've had the privilege of associating with. He's taking a break from building Lair North, Eh?™ which he has assured us has nothing to do with world domination...except in a writing capacity. Currently it's just a room with bookcases and writing desk, but if you ask me there's still enough room for lasers and a space shuttle.

Andrew is a keen, and vocal, supporter of his fellow writers...and the Toronto Blue Jays. (Well, nobody's perfect.) So, it's my great pleasure to turn it over to Andrew and please check out his links at the end. Add. Follow. Subscribe. You know the deal! :)

1 - If you weren't able to write, how would your creativity manifest itself?

Photography. I didn't start writing until I was well into my 30's. Around the same time my fingers started twitching for the keyboard I started taking photographs. It grew into a small business where I would spell out people's names with photographs of things that look like letters. I've stopped doing that now, but still enjoy taking photographs. If I wasn't able to write I'd photograph everything. As it is I am lucky to have a decent camera on my phone so I can capture moments when I don't have my DSLR on me.

2 - Are you scared of running out of ideas?

Bwahahahaha! Not in the least. I am the king of starting things. My problem is I have too many ideas bubbling to the surface at once. Ideas are everywhere and I try to write them down as soon as they come to me so I don't forget. I need to get better at finishing the big, ongoing stuff before tackling them but I'm never afraid I'll run out.

3 - On the days you're not feeling motivated, what will inspire you or kick you in the butt to get going?

Everyone in the writers' group that I co-founded on Facebook. We're a small collection of writers with a wide variety of experience and writing credits but we all have one thing in common: mutual respect and support for everyone in the group. If I'm ever stuck, or "not feeling it", I know all I need to do is send out a quick note to the group and I'll have several people right there helping me out. There are a few in particular that I am closer with and I know that I can send them a text or email at any point and they'll be brutally honest with me and kick my ass if needed.

4 - Which writer has influenced you most?

It's funny because he's not much of a writer in the traditional sense in terms of style and content. In fact, he would have never referred to himself as a writer, mostly because he's a Nobel Prize winning physicist. He is Dr. Richard Feynman and he had a way of explaining physics and telling stories about the world around him that captured my attention. Every time I sit down to write I try to tell the story in a way that Feynman would appreciate.

5 - Paper or plastic (physical book or e-reader?)

I have an e-reader. It's Kobo Glo and I quite like it. It's easy on the eyes when I read at night and packs a whole lot of books into one small package. I even wrote a blog post about it. Spoiler alert: I didn't think I would like it. Now, all that being said, if I had to choose between reading a physical book or reading it on an e-reader I would choose the book 100% of the time. I simply love the feel of a book in my hand (and yes, I have been known to smell books before. A few times. A lot. It's not a problem; stop judging me!) I'm also amassing a collection of books that my friends have written. I am renovating a room in my basement and turning it into a dedicated writing room and I will have a shelf / bookcase of books written by people I know, along with my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird. Physical books are my inspiration, especially the ones penned by the people I care about.

6 - Sun or Moon?

The moon fascinates me and I could spend every night that it is visible photographing it but I am sun worshiper. I love a nice bright day regardless of what season it is. Living in Southern Ontario, Canada, we are fortunate enough to experience four distinct seasons, sometimes all in one day. But, if the sun is shining you can't wipe the smile off my face. The sun gave our planet life and that significance is emphasized with every sunrise and sunset I am fortunate enough to witness.

7 - Favorite curse word?

I suspect I'm not alone in this when I say that my favourite curse word is "Fuck" and all of its derivatives. For the record, I don't think there are bad words. I think that context and intent are more significant than the utterance of a single word or phrase. As such, I swear a lot. I don't utilize it in much of my writing, but if I think a word belongs somewhere and that word happens to be a cuss word I'm going to use it. Fuck it, I say, and fuck the fucking fuckers who disagree!. Fuck is so fucking versatile you can use it in just about any situation and as any part of speech. Fuckin' A.

Blog: Potato Chip Math
Twitter: @andrewbutters
Facebook: Author Andrew Butters
Instagram: andrewbutters
Serial Novel: OCH Literary Society
Photography: Andrew Butters on Flickr
More Photography & Misc: Potato Chip Math on Tumblr


Oct 16, 2016

RIP Sagan Lewis

The recent death of Sagan Lewis on August 7th, didn't rock the internet, but I'd like to take a moment to remember her since I actually named a character in my books after her.

Ms. Lewis was most well known as part of the amazing ensemble of the TV show St. Elsewhere. If you've never heard of the show, or seen any of it, you should definitely correct that. Boasting a cast that included the likes of Denzel Washington, Howie Mandel, Alfre Woodard, Stephen Furst, Ed Begley Jr, William Daniels, Mark Harmon, and David Morse it was way ahead of it's time.

I wanted to come up with a pair of cops, one of whom would be a young, untested detective. St. Elsewhere was running on UK television at the time and I was a huge fan, so immediately, I thought of the character of Dr. Wade, played by Sagan Lewis. Smart, naive, quiet-spoken, thoughtful, but never a weasely ass-kisser like Dr Ehrlich (Ed Begley Jr), she became the starting point for the character of Detective Munroe. It seemed only fitting then, when I was coming up with a first name for the character that I borrow Ms Lewis' unusual first name: Sagan.

The internet might not have noticed her passing, but I feel it's only right that I take a moment to acknowledge her. Thanks to her, Sagan Munroe was born and now lives on in the Dynamo City novels.

Oct 10, 2016

Seven Questions for Jennifer Gracen

Jennifer Gracen has been my pal since I stumbled onto twitter and figured I'd give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) a go. A vocal and passionate cheerleader for writing and writers, she's the prodigious author of several romance series. (Seasons of Love, The McKinnon Brothers, and The Harrisons)

Jennifer's also a big fan of all things Celtic, particularly Scotland, so if she's not penning another romance novel she's likely watching Outlander. I wouldn't bother her while she's watching Sam Heughan lol.

Please check out Jennifer's webpage link below to see her books. But first...   

1 - Which actor/actress would you love to see play your characters in a movie adaptation?

I don’t often have set celebrities in mind when I write a book, but for MORE THAN YOU KNOW, I very much did. Henry Cavill is my Dane Harrison, and Christina Hendricks is my Julia Shay. Can you imagine how hot those two would be onscreen together? Let’s get this movie going!

2 - If you weren’t able to write, how would your creativity manifest itself?

Music. I used to be a singer, and still sing all the time in my car or in my kitchen. Sometimes, singing is such a cathartic release… much like writing.

3 - What is your biggest phobia?

Death. No way around it, I am terrified of dying. The other huge one is deep water. I can’t swim, I was always too afraid to learn. My fear of deep water is so unfounded and so major, I think I must’ve drowned in a past life. Throughout my life, all my worst recurring nightmares have involved water: tidal waves, tiny bridges over threatening water, etc.

4 - If you won $100 million on the lottery would you still write?

Are you kidding? I wish I could win that much in the lottery, so I could buy a little cottage in the country somewhere and do nothing BUT write! I wouldn’t have to worry about paying my bills, any of the financial worries, because it’d be all set and I could just write all day long, every day.

5 - Can you just sit down and write or do certain things (location, music, ambience, time of day) need to be right?

I wish I was one of those people who could shut out the world and write anywhere, any time. Sadly, I am not. I need total quiet and no distractions so I can focus on hearing the voices in my head. I also can’t write when I’m tired. I used to try to push through and do that, but in time I came to realize that the next day, that writing was crap and I’d end up deleting it. So I don’t allow myself to write when tired anymore. I make myself stop. I prefer to write in the late morning/early afternoon; from 10 am to 3 pm are my most productive hours, both for writing specifically and life in general.

6 - Which of your characters would you like to date?

All of my heroes! They’re great guys! Warm, caring, smart, sexy, attentive, protective, supportive men… and drop dead gorgeous. But if I *had* to pick, I’d pick Dane Harrison from MORE THAN YOU KNOW, Gavin McKinnon from THE DOCTOR’S LOVE, and Sam Forrester from the Seasons Of Love series. They’re my faves so far.

7 - Favorite curse word?

Hahahaha! Anyone who knows me knows that Fuck isn’t just my favorite curse word, but my favorite word, period. It’s so expressive! It can be a noun, a verb, an adjective… “fuck” gets your point across like no other word. Also, I’m a born and bred New Yorker, it kinda comes with the territory, what can I tell ya.


Jennifer's book MARRYING HIS BEST FRIEND (from Tule Publishing) was released on 8/16, and 'TIS THE SEASON (The Harrisons #3) (from Kensington Publishing) was released 9/27. Grab 'em both!


Oct 3, 2016

Seven Questions for K.D. McCrite

Stopping by to answer #SevenQuestions today is the wonderful K.D. McCrite. Not only is K.D. a gifted writer, she's a keen supporter of other writers, and fount of writerly knowledge. She kindly took a few moments out of her hectic writing schedule to answer my goofy questions.

Check out K.D.'s book and social media links below!

Photo by: D. Savannah George-Jones

1 - If you weren't able to write, how would your creativity manifest itself?

If I couldn’t write, my ability to otherwise create would probably be compromised. I’m not a bad artist, so I’d get out my oils and canvases. I also have a natural ear for music, so I’d probably do a lot of music playing, and maybe some music writing. Sewing and other handcrafts would also be on that list of things to do.

2 - Are you scared of running out of ideas?

Surely you jest. I’m scared of running out of years (or working brain cells) before I exhaust these warehouse of ideas stored in my head.
3 - What is your biggest phobia?

Phobia means an unreasonable fear, so we’ll eliminate my fear of water, snakes, cities, traffic, freeways, interstates, air travel, closed-in spaces, prison, lightning, caves, basements, cellars, and the dark. I have an unreasonable and crippling terror of mice.

4 - Have you ever lied to get out of doing something so that you could write instead?

Nope. I will write whenever I want to, no matter where I am, even if I have to do it covertly. (And I have done that, often.)

5 - If you won $100 million on the lottery would you still write?

Absolutely. I would buy a house in a quiet neighborhood and make sure I had a soundproof, safe office with lots of windows. I’d hire a cook, a cleaner, an errand-runner, a phone-answerer, a driver, a dog walker, a masseuse, and a proof-reader. And I’d throw lots of dinner parties, because I wouldn’t have to cook or clean up afterwards.

6 - One piece of advice for new writers?

Keep learning and growing as a writer. Don’t give up. (That’s a two-fer. So sue me.)

7 - Which of your characters would you like to date?

The hero from the only historical novel I ever wrote (which is not published). Caley O’Brendan (I came up with that name long before it suddenly hit the world as a popular name for girls, but oh well.) He was an interesting person to me, the black sheep of a wealthy family, suspected of being the bastard son of the patriarch’s close friend, he was disinherited while he was quite young. Strong, intelligent, with a lot of backbone, Caley struggled against norms and mores of his time to bring change into a world which he felt was changing too slowly.


Sep 26, 2016

Seven Questions for Ashley Graham

Greetings, Earthlings! It's Monday and time once again to lure an unsuspecting writer to my blog to grill them with my #SevenQuestions.

Ashley Graham is currently buried in edits for her debut novel, All The Stars Left Behind, which will be released in 2018 by Entangled Teen. You can follow Ashley by checking out the links below. But first...the questions...

1 - Which actor/actress would you love to see play your characters in a movie adaptation?

Kristofer Hivju is exactly who I pictured for ALL THE STARS LEFT BEHIND's Uncle Arne. I saw him as Tormund Giantsbane in GoT and it was this instant...AHA! YES! And Mads Sjøgård Pettersen is Roar Bakke exactly! For Leda, my kick ass heroine, someone like Taapsee Pannu would be perfect!

2 - Leather or lace?

Being a vegan, leather is out for me lol! Lace is kind of scratchy, but if it's over a top of a satiny texture, bring it on!

3 - What is your biggest phobia?

Don't laugh.... My biggest phobia is people not liking me. How sad is that?! *hides forever*

4 - On the days you're not feeling motivated, what will inspire you or kick you in the butt to get going?

Honestly, any form of media entertainment ALWAYS inspires me. Books, shows, films, YouTube videos, you name it!

5 - Paper or plastic (books I mean...physical book or e-reader?)

I love physical books, but with my health deteriorating (thanks, Chiari!), reading with the Kindle app on my phone is easy to hold!

6 - One piece of advice for new writers?

This is a two parter. First, write & read (it's synonymous!) and second, get connected. Other writers can be the best friends. Someone who understands it all, someone to bounce ideas off of, someone to be that support you might not find in a non-writer friend. Twitter is a very good place to start, and Instagram, too. Check out the writerly hashtags and reach out to others!

7 - What's the easiest part of writing for you?

Coming up with out-of-this-world plots, characters, and technology. I have a scifi addiction ;)

Follow Ashley:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/ashleygrahamya

Website: http://ashleygrahamya.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/writer_ag

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/writer_ag/

And be sure to stop by next week for another #SevenQuestions


Sep 19, 2016

Seven Questions for Gordon Bonnet

Writer...teacher...blogger...runner...player of several musical instruments...Gordon usually does more before lunch on a Monday than I get done all week. Despite that he still had time to stop by and answer #SevenQuestions.

Show off.

1 - Which actor/actress would you love to see play your characters in a movie adaptation?

Right now I’m working on the fifth in my series called the Parsifal Snowe Mysteries, which are murder mysteries that center around a detective agency whose staff all have different psychic abilities. For Seth Augustine, the dashing and suave psychometer — who can pick up emotional traces from objects people handle — I think it’d have to be Liam Hemsworth. His girlfriend Bethany Hale, who has precognitive dreams, I’m thinking Zooey Deschanel, who could pull off the elegant, intelligent character she is. My favorite of the detectives, Callista Lee, is a telepath; she’s the oddest of the regular characters, and has an eerie streak that makes me think of Vera Farmiga (from “The Conjuring”). Troy Seligman, who can do psychic projection, is a nervous, worrying homebody who would really rather be watching his son’s soccer game than solving crimes. Maybe Zac Efron? And last, the shy, bumbling Jeff Kolnikoff, who has telekinetic powers that are off the charts, would have to be played by Jim Parsons — Sheldon from “The Big Bang Theory."

2 - If you weren't able to write, how would your creativity manifest itself?

Besides being a writer, I’m also a musician, so I think that’d be where my creativity would divert. I play the flute, piano, and bagpipes (yes, I’m serious; I blame it on being a quarter Scottish), and am part of a band that plays for contradances and English country dances all over western New York. So as much as I’d miss writing, I would still have an opportunity to express myself.

3 - On the days you're not feeling motivated, what will inspire you or kick you in the butt to get going?

My favorite blow-away-the-cobwebs activity is running. If I can’t get into the groove in front of the computer, I often will go for a long run (or go to the gym if the weather isn’t cooperative). That never fails to get the blood flowing and the ideas bubbling.

4 - Which writer has influenced you most?

No question: Haruki Murakami. He can somehow transport the reader, using the simplest of language, into surreal worlds where you have no idea if what you’re looking at is real or a delusion. He’s absolutely brilliant, and should be required reading for anyone who writes speculative fiction.
But since no one is here to tell me I can’t, I’ll add a few others who were highly influential: Neil Gaiman, Ursula LeGuin, Umberto Eco, Stephen King, Christopher Moore, Terry Pratchett, Edgar Allen Poe, and H. P. Lovecraft.

5 - One piece of advice for new writers?

Easy. My advice is: write. Write more. When you’re done with that, keep writing. You may think that what you’re writing sucks; heaven knows mine did (and most of what I wrote prior to the age of 30 has long since been sent into oblivion, so that no future biographer of mine can find it and say, “Wow, he was really terrible at first!”). But if you keep doing it, you will get better. Also: keep reading. You will learn the tricks of the trade if you read every day (and if it’s a lousy book, you’ll learn what not to do). So that’s it: write, read, write, read. Follow that directive and you’ll get there.

6 - Which of your characters would you like to date?

I suspect my wife might have something to say about this, but since she’s not looking over my shoulder at the moment: I would definitely pull out my best pick-up line for Celia Findlay, one of the main characters in my novel “The Shambles” (scheduled to be published by Oghma Creative Media in 2018). She’s smart, sexy, brave, funny, and if she hadn’t fallen for one of the other characters in the story (damn you, Tucker Ferguson!) I’d be next in line.

7 - Favorite curse word?

No question. Fuck. It’s a multi-purpose word, is extremely expressive, and is fun to say. I have a bad mouth sometimes (I have to watch this, because my day job is “high school biology teacher”). However, I try not to overuse it, or any other swear word, in my writing — to me, the job of a writer is to write the way the particular character would speak, and not everyone swears (or swears the same way).

It must be said that I did have a reader who read my novel “Lock & Key” and said, “Wow. The Librarian sure says ‘fuck’ a lot.” I responded, “You know, I tried to talk to him about that, but he told me to fuck off.” Not sure if she found it funny or offensive — but with me, what you see is what you get, so I suppose it all works out.

Amazon page: https://www.amazon.com/Gordon-Bonnet/e/B005LDDJXG
blog: http://skeptophilia.blogspot.com
and http://gbfiction.blogspot.com
on Twitter
Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/484507241755004/


Sep 12, 2016

Seven Questions for Alex Kimmell

Some people are just a glutton for punishment! Alex Kimmell bravely agreed to stop by my blog for the second time and answer #SevenQuestions. If you're a fan of horror, be sure to check out his website link below. Over to Alex...

1 - Which actor/actress would you love to see play your characters in a movie adaptation?

Initially when I’m writing, I try not to get too specific in what the characters look like. I prefer if their appearance develops in my head over time along with other details in the story, unless there is a very specific feature or trait that’s important to their behavior. However, in the early stages of writing “the Idea of North” I took the opposite route. I went online and looked for faces that gave me an immediate reaction for how I wanted each person to look. I use writing software called Scrivener which has space to create characters and add photos along with their descriptions and I set up a folder with everyone laid out.

Here is a quick list of the cast that was in my head while I worked on the book:

Aderato – Gary Oldman

Al Haytham – Aaron Paul

Anders Wegener – Warren Christie

Christian Walt – Rhys Ifans

Dalton Beaufort – Paul Dano

Eliza Beaufort – Rebecca Hall

Even Aello – Olivia Thirlby

John Casco – Rupert Grint

Julie – Mia Wasikowska

Marty English – Ryan Cartwright

Mary Beaufort – Vera Farmiga

Raina Beaufort – Sissy Spacek

Rubidelia/Max – Lorraine Bracco

Stuart Aello – Hugh Laurie

Will Hadley – Reed Timmer

2 – What is your biggest phobia?

I am terrified of heights. Back when my kids were younger we went on the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier in California. My younger son who must have been around five or six at the time was sitting next to me. We rolled up to the top of the circle and the ride stopped to let the people at the bottom change places. I freaked out. I gripped the side of the carriage so hard that I cracked a fingernail. I was staring at my hands wanting to let go, but I couldn’t. I kept saying, “I can’t let go. I can’t let go.” My son put one hand on top of mine calmly rubbing in small circles, “It’s okay Daddy. Everything will be fine. I promise Daddy. I’m here. I’ll take good care of you.”

So, not a humbling experience at all.

In addition, I don’t treasure the thought of being crushed. Not very pleasant.

3 - Which writer has influenced you most?

Picking one author and saying they have more impact on me than anyone else is nearly impossible. I’ve always been a voracious reader and I like reading multiple books at a time, switching stories depending on my moods. It takes an incredible story to make me laser focus on only one. There are a handful of authors who have been able to do that to me multiple times. My favorites are Michael Marshall Smith, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Richard Matheson, Mark Z. Danielewski and Joe Hill. I don’t know if it’s possible to write in the horror genre in America without feeling the tremendous influence of Stephen King. Not only is he immensely prolific, he work has such high quality. Even his books that the diehard fans don’t rank are better than most of us will do in our lifetime. I read Pet Sematary in Junior High. I’ll never forget being alone at home one night, sitting in the den reading the creased up paperback with the cat on the cover. Our cat Taffy looked almost exactly the same. As I finished the last page of the book, she jumped on my lap. I threw the book across the room screaming at the top of my lungs. From that moment on I was hooked. The adrenaline rush of that shock changed my entire life. I’ve been reading horror books and watching scary movies ever since.

4 - Paper or plastic (books I mean...physical book or e-reader?)

I prefer paper, but the convenience of having an entire library worth of books at any given time is priceless. I look at the “battle” between physical and digital books in the same way I look at music. Sure I would much rather listen to the record on vinyl. But I can’t play an lp in the car or if I went for a jog. I don’t see any reason why it has to be one way or the other. I like having access to every book I want wherever I am. I would rather sit on my couch flipping through my signed copy of The Martian Chronicles or House of Leaves, but that isn’t always possible. In the waiting room at my doctor’s office, I love being able to turn on the iPad or Kindle and pick from a thousand books. It certainly makes travel packing much lighter too.

5 - Can you just sit down and write or do certain things (location, music, ambience, time of day) need to be right?

All things being equal, alone in a quiet room is where I feel most able to think and write. Living in a small place with two teenagers makes that a fairly uncommon occurrence. Sometimes I’ll put my headphones on and listen to music to quiet the distractions away. It’s mostly when they are at school; I try to get as much accomplished as I can. In the evenings and on the weekends I squeeze time in when I can, but I want to spend time with my family. Summer break is a challenge for writing, but everyone is very supportive. You can’t stop life from happening and sometimes you just have to go wherever it takes you and make it work for yourself.

6 - Sun or Moon?

How about an eclipse? I don’t do very well when it’s hot outside. I prefer cooler weather, I’m a winter guy. With the topics I write about, the Moon is definitely more my speed. I love the night sky. Space, stars, the Milky Way and the great vast universe out there, it inspires me quite a bit. I know what we see of the moon is really reflected light from the sun so we can’t have one without the other. But, as they say, night time is the right time!

7 - Favorite curse word?

I'm choosing this one because it makes me feel like I'm on Inside The Actor's Studio!
I swear all the time. I see no problem with "bad" words. There are far more horrible things said in the world that degrade, abuse and cause real harm to other people that don't contain any forbidden four letter words. Of course, I know to respect other people and not walk into a house of faith screaming FUCK or GOBNOBBLER! I don't mind if my kids curse but I teach them to know when and where it's not appropriate and might get them into trouble.

The obvious choice for greatest curse word for most people I know is FUCK. It's short, loud, sharp and strikes like a bullet to emphasize whatever point you're trying to make. Perfect.
My personal favorite to use is DICKCHEESE. In high school my football coach screamed at us during a work out and called us "Cheese Dicks". While it made me laugh and is a good insult, it's not quite as disgusting as Dickcheese. A dick made of cheese is funny. Cheese that comes from a dick paints a far more gross image in my mind. So there it is. Try it on for size: DICKCHEESE!