Sunday, August 28, 2011

IWU! Blog Tour welcomes Todd Russell!

                                                      This week it is my pleasure to welcome  indie horror writer Todd Russell. Todd will tell us why he loves reading and writing scary stories. This should be scary--I mean interesting!
Welcome, Todd.
 
                           
1 Tell us about you upcoming release.

My debut novel Fresh Flesh, a psychological thriller horror story washes ashore 9-29-2011.

2 What is the book about?

Shipwrecked Jessica is rescued, cherished and trained to survive on a strange island by a man who is not what he seems.

3 How did you come up with the title of your book?

The man that rescues Jessica sees her as something fresh washing ashore. The flesh part will become clear once readers learn what is going on with the man and the island.

4 Did anything special inspire you to write this particular story? Why?

I wasn't happy with my first two novels written in the mid to late 80s. I've seen several writers say that their first two written novels weren't very good and the third book was when things came together. Fresh Flesh is my third completed novel.

The story idea first came in 1987 and the first draft was written in 1988. It's gone through several revisions over the years up to and including a decent amount of brand new material in 2011.

So it's a work that took roughly 25 years of aging to come to fruition.

5 Tell us a little about any current works in progress.

Recently I started writing a new short story every work day. As of this writing, I've written a week's worth consecutively, so no significant streak yet, but I have a feeling (hope) it might go awhile. I'm not worried about running out of story ideas I'm worried about getting distracted and sidetracked.

This project is paying homage to an online writing area at AOL that I was fond of in the late 90s which came out with weekly writing prompt contests.  It stirred my creative fires. I use these shorts as warm-up exercises and then get into some meatier--in terms of number of words, not value or importance--works. I love the beauty in brevity of short stories and it's an art that a writer can lose if s/he doesn't continue to work at it.

I have several longer WIPs at various stages. I've outlined most of the second book in the Fresh series and will be starting the first draft soon. I have made notes on many possible future Fresh series stories, so depending on time, energy and interest, there could be many future books in the series.

Another story, this one a pantser (no outline) and so far seems aimed at fans of Death Race 2000 and Soylent Green. No idea how long this will be but it's heavy on my mind at the moment which means it's getting significant new word priority.

6 What do you as an author find as the most challenging aspect of writing? How do you deal with this?

Focus can be very difficult. It's so easy to jump from project to project without completing already started works. I have several story ideas bouncing around in my head competing for attention. The muse sort of dictates which one to work on because a powerful scene or character is more valuable to me to get out than forcing a scene I'm less excited in writing because it's next in line.

Completing a work brings me a tremendous amount of self-confidence, so it's important for me to keep completing works. Even if the works in the editing stage are deemed non-publishable or needing significant work to become publishable.

How I've dealt with this over 30+ years I've been writing has changed. Lately, I'm doing this by using short stories to finish more works more often. I've also cut down on the amount of time spent doing non-new-writing activities, so I can focus more on writing new words. I also have a couple regular activities like the weekly #SampleSunday on Twitter (I've done 21 consecutive Sundays to date) and a daily history-related tweet (daily since June 2011).

7 What are you currently reading?

Please follow me on Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/toddrussell -- I track all the books I'm reading there and some at LibraryThing. As of this writing I'm re-reading The Raven & Other Classic Poe Stories and first reading Dead Man's Eye by Shaun Jeffrey.

8 If you could coauthor a story with any writer out there—deceased or alive—who would it be? Or would you even consider collaboration?

I tried some collaboration in the 90s with a few other writers. I would love to collaborate with any of my three favorite writers: Robert McCammon, Stephen King and on the TV side, Rod Serling (R.I.P).

I'd be open to co-authoring the right kind of story with one or more co-authors as long as our styles were compatible. That's the big hurdle. I don't think collaborations work as good if the styles are too different. And just because writers are in the same genre doesn't mean they can collaborate well on something. As a reader, I'm not as excited by collaborative works as single author works.

Then again two of the story ideas I have are ripe for multiple co-authors to work on and would be something that might even work well with different writing styles.

Collaboration is fun and an interesting way to work on a story. If another author enjoys my work and thinks we could create an awesome together, please feel free to hit me up and let's chat.

9 Writing can be very challenging—what do you do to just “get away” for a break every so often?

My wife and I love to get in the car and drive, destination unknown. We are a relatively short drive from the beach, the mountains and all kinds of wonderful places in between.

10 What do you like LEAST about writing?

Nothing. I enjoy every step in the creative writing process:

11 Any advice for beginning authors?

At the infant stage in my publishing career, I don't feel qualified giving beginning authors advice. There are a ton of other authors with more publishing experience than me. Please follow-up and ask me this question again in 5-10+ years and maybe I'll feel experienced enough then to answer.

As for advice for beginning writers? Let me quote from a blog post I wrote titled: Most Important Writing Skill - http://toddrwrite.com/blog/2011/most-important-writing-skill.phtml

"The skill that young (in career, not just age) writers need to develop most IMHO is the discipline to take an idea from conception to completion to maturation to publishing."

12 Tell us about your other published works.

Mental Shrillness is a collection of six horror short stories available in paperback and ebook (multiple formats). Two of the stories are award winners and so far the book has received good overall reviews. There are also four bonus stories and author's notes on all the stories for those who like to learn more about how the stories originated.

13 How can readers contact you?

Preferred method is to use the contact form on my website:

OR ... if we follow each other on Twitter readers are welcome to DM:

There's also Facebook, Goodreads and many other social networks I belong to that are too numerous to list here. If you try to reach me through the social networks and I don't respond within 1-2 business day then I probably missed the contact. Please use the contact form at my website.

I love communicating with readers, so please don't be shy!

List of purchase links for Todd's books.

Amazon US (paperback contains an exclusive story)

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble NOOK

Kobo (on sale as of this writing)

Apple iTunes / iBookstore

Smashwords (multiple e-formats, great for friends outside the US)
http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/49957?ref=toddrussell

Not through yet, readers!

And best of all, Todd is sponsoring a contest! He will give away a free ebook of Mental Shrillness for the three best follow-up interview questions in the comment section between now and September 29, 2011. Rock and roll, let's see some weird, wild and wonderful questions :) Come on commenters--let's hear from you!

Thank you very much for the interview, Alan!

Horrifically Yours,
Todd Russell

 

Saturday, August 20, 2011

IWU! Blog Tour welcomes Arshad Ahsanuddin!

 This week, it is my pleasure to welcome Arshad Ahsanuddin, the talented indie author of the epic fantasy/paranormal romance novel, Sunset (Pact Arcanum). Arshad is here to tell us about himself, his novel, and his other projects. So let's say hi to Arshad. Welcome!


1 Tell us about your book. Beautiful cover, by the way.

Sunset is a paranormal romance/urban fantasy set in the near future, based on a simple premise:  Suppose vampires and vampire slayers had been killing each other in the shadows of the world for millennia, without anyone being the wiser.  What would happen if they were suddenly exposed on national television?  How would the world change, especially if they were operating from a position of strength?  Would we be able to coexist with them, or would war become inevitable?

2 How did you come up with the title of your book?

Sunset is a moment of duality, when the vampires are strongest as they become free to hunt, but the vampire slayers are at their highest danger, when they are at a disadvantage.

3 What is Sunset about?

Sunset begins with the exposure of the supernatural peoples before the world, and takes off from there.  As a subplot, it explores the main character’s complicated love life.

4 Did anything special inspire you to write this particular  story? Why?

I originally came up with the story about ten years ago, back in the Buffy/Angel heyday.  Then the pendulum swung back and vampires became popular again, and it made me think of the story.  I had always planned to write a novel, so I thought writing out my hobby story might be good practice.  Since then, it took on a life of its own.

5 Tell us a little about any current works in progress.

Currently, I am working on Starlight, the fourth and final book in the series.  I haven’t decided yet on whether I will write any more in this universe once Starlight is complete.

6 What do you as an author find as the most challenging aspect of writing? How do you deal with this?

I basically started from scratch on October 2009, so my writing skills are continuously evolving.  When I finished the story, I thought I was done, but then I discovered the extensive editing process that is required for a manuscript to be publishable in any form.  So I started to look around to find editors who could help me whip my manuscript into shape.  Some were helpful but slow.  Some were fast but unhelpful.  Some were enthusiastic but sloppy.  It was just a question of finding the right balance to do the best work for my particular story.  I’m still working on it.

7 What are you currently reading?

Currently, I’m reading Ghost Story by Jim Butcher, and Story: Style, Structure, Substance, and the Principles of Screenwriting by Robert McKee.

8 If you could coauthor a story with any writer out there—deceased or alive—who would it be? Or would you even consider collaboration?

My idols are Neil Gaiman and Guy Gavriel Kay, but I think I’d totally be a millstone around their necks in any collaboration, given their awesomeness.

9 Writing can be very challenging—what do you do to just “get away” for a break every so often?

I read gay romance novels.  They’re often steamy and relaxingly uncomplicated: everything my own writing isn’t.

10 What do you like LEAST about writing?

Editing out the bits that need to go for the story to fly.  It’s a necessary but painful process.

11 Any advice for beginning authors?

You never know if you’re any good until you try and put yourself out there.  Still, it’s better to educate yourself about writing before you start, so that you have some knowledge and structure to work with to tell a good story.  I recommend Writing Fiction for Dummies by Ingermanson and Economy, as well as Story Engineering by Larry Brooks.  Once your manuscript is complete, go in search of a substantive/developmental editor to help you define the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of your story, so you can approach the second draft with confidence and direction.

12 Tell us about your other published works.

Sunrise, the second book, is a prequel to Sunset, and tells the story of how the major characters got to the point where Sunset begins.  The third book, Moonlight, is the sequel to Sunset, and continues the story through the eyes of another character.

13 How can readers contact you?

I can be reached directly at pact.arcanum@gmail.com, or through the contact page at my website http://pactarcanum.com.


Author Bio:
Arshad Ahsanuddin is Canadian-born, but lived in the United States for most of his life. He is currently a practicing hematopathologist, a physician who specializes in using biopsies and laboratory data to diagnose diseases of blood, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, such as leukemia and lymphoma. Yeah, a blood doctor writing about vampires. The irony is not lost on him.  It certainly amuses his colleagues.

Social Media:

Book links:    
Smashwords edition (multiple formats):  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/61128
Video Trailer:  http://youtu.be/zdvchNFqSu4

Thank you Arshad for stopping in and we all wish you much luck and many sales!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

IWU! Blog Tour welcomes Vale Avari!


This week, I am particularly thrilled because, although Heather Marie Adkins, author of the well-reviewed paranormal mystery novel  THE TEMPLE, is unable to attend, I  am pleased  to announce the sexy and beautiful protagonist  of THE TEMPLE, Vale Avari , is here to shed light—literally as she has super-powers—on what it is like to be a beautiful  heroine in a well-conceived story.

So let’s get on with it as I know Vale is a busy character—I mean woman—these days.

1 First, let me say--is it okay if I address you as Vale, thank you—so Vale, I want to thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to fly out to California through cyberspace and be with me. You are actually prettier in real life. Wow! You may even be prettier than your creator—ooops, better not go there. Anyway, Vale, I guess we’ll begin by asking, how does it feel to be walking around in the real world of humans?

I don’t know if I should blush or punch you.  My dad would probably have a FIT if he had to come all the way here from Mississippi to bail me out of jail, so let’s pretend I’m blushing.

This is the real world?  Wow.  It’s a bit, ahem, different.  Though it IS a lot warmer here than back home in Quicksilver.  England?  You know?  Land of constant drip and little sunshine.  I could definitely take to the warmth here in CA.

2 While reading THE TEMPLE, I was really intrigued at some of your super-powers—one, especially. Your strength. It’s not often I come across a woman as stunning as you who could body slam me. When did you first realize you were “stronger than the other boys and girls?” What were the circunstrances?
And as a follow up—just how many pounds can you bench press—I mean you have a nice chest there, Vale—Umm, sorry, excuse me, I’m sure you know what I meant.

Careful there, buddy, let’s return to the “chick with superpowers” comment.  As stated before, I’d rather not visit the local convict bin and you certainly don’t want to go to the hospital, do you? 

Really, I grew up knowing about my strength.  My mom, Theresa, says she found out when I was three.  Apparently, I picked her up, but I don’t remember it.  Hell, I can’t remember what I ate for lunch yesterday much less something I did before I had a full set of teeth.  But some of my earlier memories are of testing my powers on my sister.  When she would make me mad because she followed me around everywhere, I’d pick her up and put her in the old Blue Spruce pine tree in the front yard.  For the record, the ‘rents did not think it was funny.

How much can I bench press? Hmm.  The infinity symbol is that little sideways eight thingie.

3 Vale, you really are a good-looking individual. I recall reading in THE TEMPLE, you mentioned it had been a while since you had any sexual relations. First, WHY? You must have plenty of opportunities with all the characters walking around in fictionland. Was it because Ms. Adkins kept you on short leash? Or were you just waiting until someone like Brett slid (no pun intended, Ms. Avari) into your life?

This is a fitting question following the previous one about my strength.  Have you ever had sexual relations with a woman who exhibited superstrenth, Mr. Nayes?  No, I bet you haven’t.  We are few and far between, not to mention we like to fly under the radar lest the government know we exist.  Suffice it to say it can be an extremely unpleasant situation.  From what I’ve figured, most of us “gifted” kids tend to run with the pack simply because it makes life easier.  Until I moved to Quicksilver and met a bunch of others like me, I had no idea just how nice it was.  Not to  mention I still didn’t have perfect control over a certain power, you know the one...it kinda ruined the mood when I would accidentally end relations before they began...that power got easier to deflect just within the last five years.

Heather doesn’t keep me on a short leash.  First of all, I dare her to try.  Secondly, she’s an advocate for all things sexual, but don’t tell her I told you that.  It would tear apart her ‘good girl’ vibe.

4 Vale, is there any scenario in THE TEMPLE that if you could have had it work out differently, you would do over? (No worries, Ms. Adkins will never read this)

I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet, but there is a point where I’m too late to the climactic shindig and a friend suffers for it.  I wish it hadn’t happened.  The guilt still eats at me.

5 Ever thought of jumping into another novel—with or without the author’s permission—and if so, what book?

What’s that one...Dusklight?  Nightlight?  You know what I’m talking about?  Yeah, I’d love to take a quick visit to that one.  First of all, I’d use a bit of my strength on the vampire to show him how much of a weenie he really is.  Then--and let’s keep this between us because honestly, I think Heather respects other novelists for whatever goddess forsaken reason--I’d go pull the protagonist’s hair.  Like a girl.  Because she’s so much of a sap she makes me wish I were a man.

6 As a quick follow up, if you could become romantically involved with any other character, either in THE TEMPLE or some other book, who would it be?

Mr. Darcy.  From Pride and Prejudice.  For the sake of everything holy, don’t tell anyone.  I have an image to uphold.

7 Last, when can readers expect to see you again? What is the title?

I’ll be around in the summer of 2012 as someone very near to my heart is threatened by an enemy whose name you probably know.  It is early stages yet, so title to be determined.

8 Actually, I lied Vale. This is the last question—would you like to go out sometime? I have a great kindle.

Have you met Brett?  He may look like a shaggy emo kid, but he’s awful protective of me.  (she says with a sweet smile)

On the other hand, he is in England and it is just a little date...ahem. You’re not so bad lookin’ yourself, stud.  Coffee and a Kindle?

Again I would like to thank Ms. Vale Avari, the seductively stunning heroine of THE TEMPLE, for stopping by and enlightening us on how it feels to be super beautiful, super strong, and super cool.

BTW, Vale is far too pretty to hang out with a poor blogger like me.

(But, damn, she sure smells super good!)

Ginger and Frankincense oil, my favorite scent.  Supposedly drives the men MAD with desire.  I guess it’s working.

Yes, it is, Vale!

Readers, though Vale is difficult to reach at times (unless you have connections like me) you may contact Vale's author creator and best friend Heather Marie Adkins at the links below:


       Website: http://heather.bishoffs.com/



Heather’s books can be purchased below:

Underneath




The Temple



Sunday, August 7, 2011

IWU! Blog Tour welcomes the Zombie King Jack Wallen!

This week it is my pleasure to welcome talented indie author Jack Wallen to the tour. As many of you probably know, Jack is the author of the compelling and highly entertaining I Zombie series, thus the title of the blog. But as you will read, Jack has other horror and thriller projects in the works. Jack is also the owner of Autumnal Press where he publishes digital fiction which includes his cult favorite Shero.

 So Jack, the blog mike is yours!



1 Tell us about you upcoming release.

My next book to be released is the second in the I Zombie series, My Zombie My. I don’t want to give away too much, but this book picks up right where the first one left off and takes it into even deeper, darker places. This time around the world’s salvation is in the hands of Bethany Nitshimi who leads the gang to Paris in an attempt to crack the code of the Mengele Virus file discovered in the network in Munich.

In this book we learn more about Dr. Lindsay Godwin and discover just how deep the conspiracy really goes.

My Zombie My brings about something new – Zombie Radio. This is an internet radio station Bethany discovers and listens to for both a temporary escape as well as the means to help the world learn of what is going on.

2 How did you come up with the title of your book?

I knew I wanted a theme for each of the books in the I Zombie I trilogy. The original title was inspired by both the theme of the book and a particular scene where Jacob describes himself as a chiasmus. He refers to the the The Might Be Giants song “I Palindrome I”. which is where the title came from.

The My Zombie My take on the title was all about how Bethany winds up being charged to care for the young Suzan, as well as the unborn child she carries.

3 What is My Zombie My about?

My Zombie My takes the I Zombie trilogy deeper into the why of the Mengele virus and puts Bethany and company in the middle of a grand conspiracy to cleanse the world. Bethany holds in her keep an encrypted file that she believe contains the key to the cure for the Mengele Virus. The world is falling down around them, they are hungry, and being chased by the undead and The Zero Day Collective. This story is chaos wrapped in a coating of desperation. But among the loss and suffering, glimmers of hope shine through to try to bring our protagonist to a place of peace and salvation.

4 Did anything special inspire you to write this particular  story? Why?

I had to write it. Just like I had to answer the question that inspired I Zombie I, I had to take the new protagonist down a rabbit hole only to see if I could get her out. After I finished I Zombie I, I was really smitten with the characters and the story and desperately wanted to continue it on. I wasn’t finished playing in this world and need the catharsis of completion that I knew would require at least two more books.

5 Tell us a little about any current works in progress.

I have already finished the first draft of Die Zombie Die and have picked up the Fringe Killer series with what I believe will be the best book in the series. This time around Jamie and Skip are facing a game, started back in the depression, that has snuffed out more lives than any other string of murders. But the horror-show hits home when Skip’s very life is threatened. I am really proud of this particular entry in the series because it kicks to the curb the idea that modern killers have to be clever and horrific on the levels of Saw and Hostel. I decided to toss aside the “torture porn” and give my killer a single weapon with which to exact his art and win the game.

6 What do you as an author find as the most challenging aspect of writing? How do you deal with this?

The single most challenging aspect of being an author is promoting my work. Being an indie author is a full-time job on its own and when you already have a full-time job that tends to be a bit Big Brother-like, it makes it incredibly challenging to do any sort of promotion for the books. As far as the writing is concerned – that’s a joy and one of the easiest, most natural tasks I have ever had the pleasure of doing.

7 What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading Kissed By Darkness by Shea McCleod. If you liked Buffy The Vampire Slayer, you’ll like KBD.

8 If you could coauthor a story with any writer out there—deceased or alive—who would it be? Or would you even consider collaboration?

Clive Barker. He’s my idol and the very reason why I write. Of course his words would make mine shiver in a corner feeling as inadequate as they possibly could. Or maybe that’s just a bit of the fanboy talking.

9 Writing can be very challenging—what do you do to just “get away” for a break every so often?

I don’t. I wish I could. But even when I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. Even when I’m zipping around the trails on my mountain bike, ideas pop into my head or I start speaking dialog as if I were one of my characters – you never know when inspiration will hit.

10 What do you like LEAST about writing?

I have to go back to the promotion issue. I never was a good pimp. Retail was never my thing and business and I do not get along well. When I was an actor I couldn’t “schmooze” and I did “play the game”. I wanted my work to speak for itself and, for twenty years it did. I’m having the hardest time right now grasping the idea that my words will not speak for themselves if no one is reading them. So getting my words into the retina of the public at large has been a big fat challenge. Big Brother is adding to that stress...but I’m working on that.

11 Any advice for beginning authors?

The best thing I can say is listen to Journey’s song “Don’t Stop Believin’”. The minute you stop believing in yourself is the minute you should give up. Never, ever give up. It’s a tough road and there is no magical incantation that can make it any easier. This also applies to the actual writing itself. The second you get done with your manuscript, start writing another. I like to keep two books going at once – a first draft and a first rewrite. That way my mind is not only working on my craft, but I’m always pushing myself forward.

I would also say to always be working your creative muscles and work them in ways you never thought you would. Take those writing talents and stretch them. The more you work those muscles the stronger they will be. Take the same approach with your promotional work. Be as creative as possible.

12 Tell us about your other published works.

Other than I Zombie I, I currently have three works out (My Zombie My will hit the shelves in early September):



Shero
Shero is not your ordinary super hero, that is unless you consider a cross dressing super hero a part of the norm. But unlike the every day super hero, Shero battles more than evil villains. Shero battles broken heels, runs in his stockings, broken nails, and the scorn of the public at large.

In this first installment Shero finds the perfect black dress, a possible lover, a deadly shade of fingernail polish, some nasty, nasty foes, an internal super hero political war, and a narrator full of attitude.

Caution: You may find yourself yelling "You go girl!" which could certainly lead to public humiliation. You've been warned.

A Blade Away
Killers and victims on the fringes of society are the focus of the ‘Fringe Killer’ series. “A Blade Away” kicks it off with a murderous transgendered twist. "I am the last true artist.” Jamie Davenport is a struggling young officer on the Louisville Police Force. In her first homicide case, Jamie must track down a twisted killer who preys upon transgendered men to bring about The Change and transform them into their “true selves”. “I am da Vinci with flesh.” However, even with the help of her friend and mentor, Skip Abrahm, she finds herself fighting a war on three fronts: a victimized population reluctant to cooperate, a police force unwilling to take the crimes seriously, and a killer that is always one step ahead. “I am a god with your gender.” Warning: Contains adult situations and material.


Gothica
In the second book of the "Fringe Killer" series, Detective Davenport finds herself dealing with horror brought to life from the past. A killer is terrorizing the same building that held him prisoner - decades ago. The building now serves as a club for the darker denizens of Louisville, creating a breeding ground for the emotions needed to bring evil to life. Weaving elements of horror and the supernatural, Gothica tells the tale of the past and the present colliding in the darkest recesses of a club built upon suffering and sorrow. Jamie Davenport and Skip Abrahm are tossed into a world of gothic delights and horror as a new Fringe Killer emerges.

13 How can readers contact you?

ñ     Get Jack’d
ñ     Twitter
ñ     Facebook
ñ     Email

List of purchase links for your books. Please send them as active links so I can just copy and paste them in. Thanks.

Shero
ñ     Amazon
ñ     Barnes & Noble
ñ     Smashwords
I Zombie I
ñ     Amazon
ñ     Barnes & Noble
ñ     Smashwords
ñ     Paperback

A Blade Away
ñ     Amazon
ñ     Barnes & Noble
ñ     Smashwords
ñ     Paperback

Gothica
ñ     Amazon
ñ     Barnes & Noble
ñ     Smashwords
ñ     Paperback



  Jack, thank you for stopping by and good luck with your current and future projects.