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 ;)

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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.

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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!

Sep 5, 2016

Seven Questions for Vania Rheault

Today I'm very happy to welcome the vivacious Vania Rheault to this venerated blog. As usual, I've vigorously asked ALL the vital questions in the hope for some valid and vivid responses.

Okay, I'll be quiet now.


Vania Rheault

Are you scared of running out of ideas?

No. If anything, I am the complete opposite. I have so many ideas right now and it’s so frustrating writing takes so much time! Right now I am writing a naughty novella series I plan to self-publish. I’m also working on my NaNoWriMo project from last year. Incidentally, that project spawned a sister that I am 12,000 words into. I don’t want to waste a 75,000 word manuscript, but I don’t have the heart to fix it right now. I wrote a short story some time ago that I would love to see written into a full length novel or trilogy. I have two YA novels bumping around in my head. I also would love to start a tart-noir series about a female detective. Everyone talks about growing up Nancy Drew, but I would really like to try.

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

Oh, for sure. I have kids, so it’s so easy to say, my daughter isn’t feeling well, I need to stay home. Of course, I kind of see this as tempting fate, and I don’t use it very often, thinking I really don’t want to make her sick! Of course, I also say I’m sick, or I forgot about other plans. I know I’m not the only one guilty of doing this!

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

Absolutely. Only where I would write would change. A cabin retreat in the mountains anyone? Sounds a lot better than my kitchen table with my cat in my face. Okay, I would still bring my cat.

Which writer has influenced you most?

I would like to say Ernest Hemingway, just to sound snobby. No, I do read him a lot, but I’ve read Nora Roberts for longer. She taught me how to turn a character into a real person. She writes characters you wish you knew, you want to help, hang out with. Characters with pasts, with flaws, but who can be kind, caring, strong. She writes villains with the same flare, characters you love to hate. Characters you maybe even feel a little bit sorry for. She brings her characters off the page and I try to do that too. That’s one of the big issues with my NaNo project. I wrote it so fast, I feel the characters are flat, uninteresting. Breathing life into them takes time and it’s frustrating.

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

Paper. I read at work and I work in a call center where electronics are not allowed due to confidentiality issues. Being I have a lot more time at work to read than at home, I always buy a paperback version when I can. If I do read at home, I save that time for beta-reading for friends or small editing projects. I’ve been reading a lot of Indie authors lately, and I love looking at their books. How did they format the inside, how did they do the cover? Who did they thank in the acknowledgements and do I know them? It’s a lot of fun to tweet their books “out in the wild.” It wouldn’t be the same taking a picture of my iPad.

What's the easiest part of writing for you?

The beginning. I can pull characters out of thin air and plop them down somewhere and just let them run. The middle is the hardest part for me. I’m a Panster and I’m always worried about word count, and how much “filler” or “fluff” I’m going to need to come up with before I can start the ending. The “fluff” has to be meaningful to the story, make the story move toward the ending, so it’s difficult for me to keep the middle relevant.

Which of your characters would you like to date?

None of them. They’re all schmucks. That’s why they’re miserable.

My thanks to Vania for stopping by. Please take a moment to check out the links below to visit Vania's author page and blog. She also has two books available right now! Go grab 'em!