Friday, March 29, 2013

Fiction Features Quarterly: Volume II: Issue I

Fiction Features: Fiction to Film

By Kayla Curry

What are your favorite fiction books that have made the leap from paperback books to plastic DVD cases?

Some of mine are Fight Club, Atonement, The Shining, Carrie, The Help, and so many more. I didn't read the Harry Potter series, so I can't comment on that. I also haven't read all the Lord of the Rings books, but I did watch the movies. Don't hate me. And I'm a Twilight fan, so I'll throw that in too.

I know that books don't always translate to the big screen perfectly. Some things are better in the written world and some things, even if they seem important to the reader, have to be cut. In the movie world, time is essential. Movies longer than 2 hours are frowned upon and screen plays that are too thick don't get opened by any major movie producers.

Some upcoming adaptations I'm REALLY looking forward to are The Great Gatsby, The Mortal Instruments, and Much Ado About Nothing.

Books are also making their way on to the small screen with shows like Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Pretty Little Liars, and The Lying Game.

It seems that the story line strays even more from the books when adapted for the small screen, but that makes a little sense. They need to keep it fresh and unpredictable on TV.

If we were talking non-fiction, I'd say Girl, Interrupted is my favorite book to film adaptation. How about you guys? Any faves I left out? Fiction or otherwise?

Covers that Grab You: Jacob's Picks

Covers, despite the old adage, "don't judge a book by its cover," are an extremely important aspect of publishing in any format. If someone doesn't like the cover, they are less likely to pick up the book off the shelf or click the buy button on Amazon and other online retailers. Below are my three covers that I feel are Great and grab my attention:

Abney Park's THE WRATH OF FATE, by Robert Brown, has a detailed and interesting cover. It gives you a feel for what you are going to expect in the book and uses catchy imagery with well colored images. I saw this cover and thought, this book looks like it would be an exciting adventure.

LOCUS ORIGIN, by Christian Matari, spells out from the start what genre it is. I can tell in less than a second, I'm dealing with a Science Fiction story. The images are of great detail and quality that makes me want to know more about the future of mankind.

A MINOR MAGIC, by Justin Macumber, has a great, visually appealing cover. The vibrant color of the females hair clashes with the bright blue of the title. These two vibrant colors then overlay the stark grays of the background. The cover uses great use of white space. Also, the images give you a hint of what the book will about. You know, here, that there is more than likely going to be a fantasy element. 

Fiction Features: The New Adult Genre

There is an up and coming genre that has recently had some major advances in the world of publishing. That genre is New Adult.

New Adult books appeal to the mature YA audience and the Adult audience. The characters are usually college aged and are starting to expand their view of the world.

This genre is important to me because it represents the important transition stage from teen to adult. I tend to write in this genre, because that transition took place in my own life not too long ago. I also feel that college age students are beginning to read for fun more and more with the e-reader age dominating right now.

People say that there is no place for New Adult in the bookstores. I love book stores and I love real books, but we have to face the facts. And the facts are:

1. Genres like "New Adult" are here to stay. With bold indies breaking into the market, there is no one to tell them that they "can't" market their book as a New Adult book. Indies don't have rules like that.

2. Publishers are having to change their game due to the indie revolution. If only indies have books listed as New Adult and the genre keeps gaining popularity, publishers will need to make sure they have books listed in that genre too.

3. Once the publishers realize they need to make the change, the book stores will have to change too. All it takes is adding a new section between YA and Adult. That's it. Moving around some shelves isn't too bad. They may have to order a new sign or two, but really, it's not a huge change.

Check out this awesome site all about New Adult, NA Alley, to learn more!

Writing Tips: Genre's Effect On Your Story

By Jacob Donley

What is the importance of genre when it comes to your writing? It kind of depends on your take on writing. Do you have the genre already established when you sit down to write? I normally do have a genre in mind when the story planning stage begins. While I think it is important to establish genre early, it isn't a writing law to do so.

Knowing the genre up front provides you with guidelines to the story you’re writing. Fantasy has some rules that normally are followed within its boundaries. Romance has rules that make it romance. Each genre has some sort of rule or rules that define it as a specific genre. The rules are there for a reason and help readers to correspond your story to that genre. However, it is important to understand that some rules can be broken if you understand what the rules are and how they work.

Some writer’s simply start typing and let the story decide the genre. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a more all-natural form of genre forming. Often, this can lead to mixed-genres and broken ‘rules’, and like I said earlier, there is nothing inherently wrong with that. If you are the type of person that just writes and lets the genre form naturally through the story, then stick with that. I would, however, try writing a few stories with a genre already firmly embedded in your mind. It will help you understand and perfect your knowledge of the genre and allow you to shape it more effectively in the future.

Genre can be your friend. Reading books from all sorts of different genres can help you to understand the function and form how they work internally. Different genres you story forms for different purposes, it can help you to adopt genre rules when it looks like that form would work well in your story.

Author Interviews: Jen McConnel

By Kayla Curry

I met Jen McConnel through my writing group. We connected right away and we’ve been working together on various promotions and events since then. She’s an awesome person to talk to and she’s very helpful. I was able to get her to answer a few questions for us:

[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[JM] I'm a teacher, a traveler, and a dreamer. I live in North Carolina, and when I'm not locked away writing, I'm teaching writing at the community college. I love to travel, and I'm slowly crossing off the countries on my dream list.

[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

[JM] I'd be happy to: here's a sneak peak scene!

The man in the light blue suit coat leaned across Lou to peer out the tiny window. She sucked in her breath, trying to make herself small in the seat, but he still brushed against her.
“Bloody rain. I hope they can land in this.”
She forced a smile at his American accent and anachronistic British slang. “It’s always raining in Scotland. They’ll manage.”
He sat back in his seat, frowning. “Not my idea of a vacation spot, then.”
Lou nodded, brushing a stray curl off her forehead, but she didn’t try to engage the man in conversation. However, he must have been tired of sitting beside her silently, because he continued.
“I don’t know why I agreed to come here.”
She sighed. “So you’re not on vacation?”
He shrugged. “Meeting an old school friend. She lives in Italy now.”
Lou struggled to keep up. “Then why Scotland?”
“Halfway. I live in Milwaukee these days.” The flight attendant came by just then, and the man ordered scotch on the rocks. “Have to get in practice, right?” He winked at Lou.
“I’ll just have a cup of coffee,” she spoke over her companion, and the flight attendant flashed her a tired smile. Lou sat back in her seat and closed her icy blue eyes, but her seatmate didn’t get the hint.
“Why are you going to Scotland?”
She thought about lying, but she was too tired. The flight had been turbulent, and she hadn’t slept at all. “Family visit.”
“Lucky. At least you won’t have to pay for a hotel room.”
Lou didn’t bother to correct him.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[JM] It sure wasn't easy! I've been writing seriously for about five years, and in that time, I've queried countless agents. I had an agent for awhile for my YA, but when she left the business, I decided to strike out on my own. I formed a publishing company and published my first novel, The Burning of Isobel Key, under my own imprint. It's been a wild ride so far, but I love how much I'm learning. I'll never be bored in this business!

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your new release?

[JM] Ten years after the trip to Scotland that changed her life, Lou is back in the misty, magical country. This time, however, she’s not on vacation: Lou is there to settle some distasteful and depressing family business. When Brian, her old Highland fling, turns up, Lou is forced to wrestle with a past that she thought was dead and buried. As tension between the former lovers mounts, something wicked is stirring in Scotland. Lou must use all her strength to handle the increasingly desperate situation, but will she be strong enough to battle both a vengeful ghost and her heart?

The Key Inheritance is a novella that takes place a decade after the events of The Burning of Isobel Key. This contemporary story crosses into the supernatural as Lou discovers evidence of a long-dead spirit who refuses to rest in peace. Lou may have thought that she was finished with the witch Isobel Key, but her inheritance is more than the young woman can handle alone.

[FFQ] Who designed the covers?

[JM] Heidi Sutherlin: you can check out more of her fabulous work here.

You can find Jen McConnel on her blog and on twitter.

The Burning of Isobel Key and The Key Inheritance are available now. Click the links to check them out on Amazon!

About Us: Laura A. Lord

Laura Lord is a graduate of Chesapeake College, and attends Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. She is the author of Wake Up a Woman. Her work has been published in The Beacon and The Collegian. She lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with her fiance` and her two children. She is the author of WAKE UP A WOMAN , published in 2012 by Chester River Press.
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Featured Author: Philippa Ballantine

By Jacob Donley

I first heard of author Philippa Ballantine, Pip, on the Dead Robots’ Society podcast when she was a guest on an episode about steampunk. Her and her husband Tee Morris, coauthor in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, had a great and humorous conversation the DRS crew. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Pip and Tee’s own podcast, the Shared Desk. They are riot and I couldn’t resist asking Pip for an interview.

[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[PB] I am a fantasy and steampunk writer born and bred in Wellington, New Zealand, but now married to my co-author Tee Morris and living in Manassas, Virginia. Before becoming a full time writer in 2010, I was a librarian for thirteen years. So I am addicted to the smell of old books. Oh yes, and we have a clower of four cats who try to sleep on my keyboard when I am writing.

[FFQ] When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

[PB] As soon as I finished reading all the books my Dad had, I knew I had set about writing my own. That was when I was thirteen, and one of my old school mates who I recently reconnected with on Facebook told me she remembers me hauling around this green hardback journal which I was always scribbling in. It did pay off in the end though!

[FFQ] What inspired you to write your first book?

[PB] Just a love of story, and a desire to see what I could do. Fantasy is full of some many wondrous possibilities! All sorts of writers like Tolkien, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and C J Cherryh inspired me to try it myself.

[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

[PB] I just handed in Harbinger which is the fourth (and final) book in the Books of the Orders. It is a series set in a fantasy world where the unliving are constantly trying to attack humanity, and the Deacons of the Order are the only ones who can stop them. Now that's done I'll be turning to edits on the second book in the Shifted World series, Kindred and Wings. It's also epic fantasy, but in quite a different world. It's about redemption, and how far you can fall before you can come back.

[FFQ] What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

[PB] Editing is always a surprising process. I've learned to love it—though my very first professional edit I broke down in tears! Editors I've found usually tell you the flaws in your story that you already know where there. In that way it's a bit like having a Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder. Usually they end up telling you flaws in your writing that you already kind of knew deep down.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[PB] Just it took awhile. I secured my agent, Laurie McLean in 2006, and together we worked on the book (which got eventually published this year, Hunter and Fox). The interesting thing is that it wasn't that book that sold, but the second one I wrote in another series. Geist was written in 2007 and published in 2010. I'm not a person that is usually patient, but I have had to learn to be in this business.

[FFQ] How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

[PB] I'm a podcaster. I have podcast in their entirety four books, and I've been doing that since 2006. Over the years I have added other social media to my arsenal. I have a group page on Facebook, and Tee Morris and I recently started a Facebook page for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series. I tweet at PhilippaJane, and our main characters from the Ministry tweet as BooksandBraun. We also blog on our website for the Ministry at  and I have my personal blog at

[FFQ] Who designed the covers?

[PB] I've been very lucky with my covers. The books with Ace covers were all done by the awesome Jason Chan . I've just seen the cover of the last book Harbinger, and he's done his best work I think. The covers I've had for Pyr have also been beautiful pieces of art. Cynthia Sheppard really captures the beauty of my scary horse, and in the second book my scary dragon!   Finally, the Ministry book covers were all done in house by their art team. My particular favorite is the Janus Affair.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about any upcoming titles?

[PB] 2013 is going to be busy. I have Kindred and Wings, coming out with Pyr in the summer, but also Harbinger with Ace, and a novella in a steampunk anthology Clockwork Fairytales; A Collection of Steampunk Fables. The third book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences we don't yet have a firm publication date on, but we are hoping the end of 2013.

[FFQ] Are there any new authors that have caught your interest?

[PB] I just finished a novel by Ripley Patton. It was a really good YA title about a girl who can pick pocket people's souls. It's called Ghost Hand . I really enjoyed her main character, and she had a really good grasp of life inside a teenagers head. Highly recommended for her fast pace and interesting.

[FFQ] Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

[PB] Do not give up. Every word you write, every criticism you receive, every rejection that comes your way is making you a better writer. The more words you write the better you are going to get. Just know if you want to be a professional writer then you have to know it is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint.

[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[PB] If you've never given steampunk a chance, I hope you'll join us at the Ministry. Or if fantasy is not your thing, let me show you a couple of complex, powerful women who might change your mind in Geist and Hunter and Fox.

Author: Geist, Spectyr , Wrayth  and Harbinger (2013) from Ace Books and Hunter and Fox  and Kindred and Wings (2013) from Pyr Books

Co-author (with Tee Morris) of Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences — an Airship Award winning steampunk series. Novels: Phoenix Rising and the Janus Affair . Also includes digital short stories  and a free award winning podcast series .

Fiction Features: Anti-heroes

By Jacob Donley

Anti-heroes provide an alternative to the run of the mill heroes in fiction. While your typical hero grows and changes throughout the course of the story, anti-heroes are flawed, and the flaws are usually permanent within the story. Anti-heroes are usually defined by their flaws while the typical hero must overcome their flaws. The anti-hero provides a hero that can overcome obstacles in their story by means that would typically demean or lower the status of a regular hero. It allows the anti-hero to straddle the line that separates the light from the darkside. Riddick, in the movie Pitch Black, is a perfect example of an anti-hero. An imperfect hero is always more interesting, add the hero that has a far more loose moral compass, and you have a hero that possibly has no barriers to prevent him from succeeding.

Anti-heroes are always more fun.

Covers that Grab You: Kayla's Picks

Jacob and I decided to start picking three covers per issue that grab our attention and make us want to read the book. Go HERE for Jacob's picks. Here are mine:

I haven't read any of these books yet, but they are on my TBR list.

I chose Sally Singletary's Curiousity and MORE for similar reasons. They are both very clean and fresh. They both use a lot of white. Also, they both get you asking questions.

I chose January Black because the cover invites you in for a second look. At first glance you see a gate, at second glance you see the bird, and each time you look at it, you can see something else. The green vines come out, then you start to look at what's behind the gate.

Book Reviews: Trompe l'Oeil by Caroline Miller

By Jacob Donley

Trompe l'Oeil by Caroline Miller

TROMPE' L'OEIL is the story of young American scholar, Rachel, that comes to France to write the history of a locally famous chateau. After the death of the mistress, Rachel is confronted with mystery, intrigue, and a touch of the supernatural. Caroline Miller has produced a work with characters that draw you into the story. Also, she keeps you guessing about what is REALLY going on at the chateau. Though this type of work isn't my normal read, I enjoyed it from cover to cover. I would recommend TROMPE' L'OEIL to anyone that enjoys a good character driven mystery.

Book Reviews: Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

By Jacob Donley

Lichgates by S.M. Boyce

S.M. Boyce has created a series that knocks your socks off from beginning to end. LICHGATES, the first book in the Grimoire Saga, takes Kara Magari and throws her smack dab in the middle of a crazy magical world as the Vagabond, the role she inherits from the original Vagabond to try to bring the civilizations of Ourea out of constant conflict with her magical book, the Grimoire. This book has towering highs and dreadful lows that pull you from chapter to chapter. This YA book is one that I would highly recommend to any fantasy reader that enjoys strong characters and plenty of magic.

Author Interviews: John Lenahan

By Jacob Donley

John Lenahan began his career as a magician before tipping his hand into the writing arena. His series, Shadowmagic, has shown increasing popularity. John’s use of the Celtic myths, legends, and heroes is imaginative and fun for readers of all ages.

I had the opportunity to interview John.

[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m and American, with an Irish passport, living in London who as I write is currently on a cruise ship in the Bay of Bengal 500 nautical miles from Thailand.
Writing isn’t (yet) my day job.  My day job is entertaining.  I’m a magician/comedian and these days do a lot of work on cruise liners.  It’s a great job if you are a writer.  They cook and clean for you, the phone never rings and I only work two nights a week.  Yes it is as good as it sounds.

I’ve made it into my fifth decade without ever going bankrupt and I have a 21 year old son whose name you will find in the dedication page of my first novel – Shadowmagic.  I live in London with my exotic veterinarian girlfriend, (whose name is on the dedication page of my second novel – The Prince of Hazel & Oak) her 110 year-old tortious, a bearded dragon lizard, two rabbits and fish.

[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

At the moment I’m working on a murder mystery set in the mountains of North Eastern Pennsylvania where my family had had a cottage by a lake since the 1950s.  I’m finding it a real challenge.  I thought writing about a place I knew so well would be easy but I think writing about places I make up is easier.

[FFQ] What challenges did you come across in getting your first book published?

I wrote Shadowmagic as an intellectual exercise.  I read an article that said if you write 1000 words a day you had to have a novel after seven months.  (The article went on to say it wouldn’t necessarily be a good novel.) I couldn’t fault the logic so I tried it.  I didn’t try very hard to get it published and it sat in a drawer while life made other plans for me.  Then I discovered the website where authors read their works and an audiobook podcast.  It’s free to subscribe but the website solicits donations and gives the authors 75%.  I thought what the heck and podcasted it.

From the start the response was remarkable and I ended up the highest rated book on the website. That caught the attention of Harper Collins and they asked if they could publish the book.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

The Sons of Macha, is the third and last instalment of the Shadowmagic Series.  In it adversaries of the house of Duir, that were thought long gone, come back to predicate a war with the Banshees

[FFQ] Who designed the covers?

Liam Relph.

[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

If all of my fan’s write glowing reviews on their Facebook pages I can live in the manner I would like to be accustomed.

Author Interviews: Rose Caraway

By Jacob Donley

Rose Caraway is an Erotica writer and podcaster who I became aware of through networking channels. She is a talented author who definitely has a flair for the theatre, evident from her audio endeavours. I was looking forward to hearing her answers to the interview questions I sent. She’s full of energy and shows it in her answers.

[RC] Hello Jacob (my finely bearded friend) and Kayla! Thanks so very much for allowing me to interview for Fiction Features Monthly  magazine, what a privilege! And a big hello  to the rest of the world; this is Rose Caraway.

[FFM] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[RC] Sure. I’m the Writer/Voice/Co-Producer for “The Kiss Me Quick’s” podcast and also the Voice/Co-Producer/Story-Picker for “The Sexy Librarian” podcast. Both erotica podcasts are found usually hanging around in one of the top-ten spots in the iTunes Sexuality  category.
I keep active by working at a Martial Arts studio and am found throughout the week going toe-to-toe with the guys, or rolling around on the ground getting my Jujitsu on. When I’m not kickin’ ass or getting mine handed back to me, I am reading, writing and podcasting. Reading is my passion and writing is my dream.
My absolute favorite genres are horror and erotica. When I write, the two separate genres tend to blend and it is so much fun! My writing as I grew up stayed carefully tucked in journals and binders because I was afraid that someone would think I was insane. Really Rose, you want the devil to do that to you?
Only until a couple of years ago, with plenty of encouragement from my hubby, did I begin to appreciate that I wasn’t the only person who had such lurid thoughts. I mean, Stephen King wrote about a high school introvert discovering her period, being bullied by cool-girls and their flying tampons, then she’s covered in pig’s blood at her prom and kills half the student body and her own deranged mother! Ew! and Wow! To this day, Carrie is my favorite book of all time. And don’t even get me started about Pennywise eating innocent boy’s armpits in the sewers! “It” scared the shit out of me. The only thing lacking from King’s books for me was the lack of sex.
I am the oldest of four kids and both my parents worked. I was raised by numerous neighborhood babysitters until I was old enough to do the job myself. Like Anne Shirley, I lived in my head, 24/7.
I have listened to other erotica podcasts and found them fun, but too P.C. and, often times, childish. I loved reading Johanne Lindsey’s “Once a Princess”, but Jean M. Auel’s, “The Clan of The Cave Bear” series was more satisfying. I’m not bad-mouthing or criticizing other podcasts, please understand. In our minds, we think and imagine many things that we wouldn’t dare publicly admit to. Sex is so versatile, and I like to write about it with what I call, a “ POW! Right-in-the-solar-plexus-without-any-fear ” style. I don’t concern myself with worrying about whether or not I’m offending someone. My recipe for an entertaining erotica story is any combination of the following ingredients; fun, excitement, fright, kink and sometimes, a dash of taboo.

[FFM] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

[RC] Absolutely! Currently I am finishing up the next episode for “The Sexy Librarian” podcast; Kay Jaybee’s short story, Candy at Christmas , which is loaded with kinky fun and will be released this week for the holiday season.
The next episode for “The Kiss Me Quick’s” podcast is a two-part story called, Outland 1313 and will finally be released this month as well. It’s my first attempt at Sci-Fi and it is one erotic adventure all Lurid Listeners will love!
I have also gotten my e-book, Hypnotized  put into an audio format and it will be available to purchase in Audible soon. And for those listeners familiar with Eddie “The Auger” Harley, from the KMQ’s Suck the Line and Rim Jobs , I am currently putting the final edits together and will be releasing the novella, Tool  this month.
Aside from my own works, I have also put Michelle Fox’s e-book, Werewolf Ménage: Pack Justice  into audio format and it will be available in Audible in a couple of weeks. Devon Vaughn Archer has also contacted me and I am in the middle of putting his book, The Hitman’s Woman  into audio format as well!
I am so excited to be this busy and will be blasting announcements all over my Facebook, Twitter pages and of course on both podcasts when these upcoming projects are available! Woo!

[FFM] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[RC] The hardest part for me personally was deciding which short story to go with and ended up looking at my download count. Most of the KMQ’s listeners seemed to enjoy Hypnotized best. Then it came to where to publish. Stupid Fish Productions took care of that. Having my own publishing company was loads easier and much faster than going through traditional publishers.

[FFM]Can you tell us about any upcoming books or projects?

[RC] Along with everything I mentioned earlier, I am also writing my first novel, Dirty Witch. This is Lexi Vohen’s story. Lexi is a character from the KMQ’s 4-part series called Succubus. Lexi is a feisty, petite farm-girl, full of high-jinks and she has a secret super-power. She is going to be rescued from her cruel father and shipped to a U.S. Army base in North Africa for testing. Completely out of her element, Lexi acclimates and learns to develop her power. But there is one problem. Colonel Grahm, who doesn’t want to babysit, won’t give Lexi his first name. It is against Grahm’s code. Lexi won’t have it. She aims to get under the stoic colonel’s skin any way she can so he will reveal his name. But Grahm has other problems. The sun-kissed skin and long golden hair that teases his calm are weakening his walls of protocol. And he is suspicious that the Army has secret plans for this free-spirited farm girl.

[FFM] Who designed the covers?

[RC] The cover art for my shows quickly became time consuming for me. So my hubby, who is also my silent co-producer, has a keen eye takes charge of all the beautiful artwork, of course with my suggestive input.

[FFM] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[RC] Yes. There are many talented and intelligent Erotica authors out there and along with my stories, I seek those writers and musicians that I feel the audience will love and want more from. Erotica is hitting the mainstream head-on and I am happy to be a part of it. And my success wouldn’t exist without an audience. Finding an audience is every artist’s goal. No matter how big or small, all of us want to reach someone that will share our love and passion. I hold my audience with a loving and protective hand. I adore them, for they allow me to continue doing what I have always dreamed of doing. So a big hug and kiss through this screen goes to each and every one of the folks out there that have even given me a single precious moment of their time.

Author Interviews: Robert Zimmermann

By Kayla Curry

I met Robert Zimmermann online on twitter. He’s a great poet, a great friend to all writers and a great blogger. His blog, A Life Among The Pages  is filled with posts on all different books and writers. He is a favorite among many authors, including me. He’s my favorite blogger and   now one of my favorite poets.

[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[RZ] I’m a poet, but you’ll occasionally (almost never) see me try my hand at a short story or two. I’ve been writing and refining my craft for a good amount of my life, but I keep finding areas to strengthen. I keep learning and striving to better myself. I want to make sure I get the most out of my creative writing degree.
I also run the blog A Life Among the Pages, where I review books, help promote all types of writers, as well as, talk about any aspect of books or writing comes up.
I love books. I love writing. This is who I am!

[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

[RZ] My current, and debut book, is called From Where I Stand. I was finally able to finish and publish it in November after years of writing it. It’s poetry. Though I’ve been told it’s very accessible to non-poetry readers, as well.

In it I explore my past, growing-up, the struggles with family life, lose of a loved one; there is a part of me is in every line, in every word on the page.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[RZ] One of the biggest challenges was actually writing a collection in order to publish it. The publishing part wasn’t terribly hard. Formatting isn’t pleasant at all, but it’s manageable because I learned the basics over the last few months.
I had a majority of From Where I Stand written by the time I finished college in the spring of 2011. At the time it was a smaller collection that I wrote for my final writing course. Once I dove into the world of Indie publishing, I knew that this was where I wanted to display my work. What I didn’t have was the attention span to learn the business, manage my blog for reviewing/promoting other’s work, and write at the same time. I put writing on the backburner. But once I took time for myself, the challenge of writing and editing my pieces became a little more manageable.
From there, things sort of fell into place. But this is only because I had been preparing all the other publishing aspects even before I had a finished manuscript.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

[RZ] I don’t have anything plans just yet for a follow-up to From Where I Stand. I’m the type of guy to write when something comes to me, but I can’t really put an idea of a book out there then fill in the empty parts. At least, I’m not at that point in tapping my creativity yet.
I hope that I’ll continue to produce material and see what comes of it. I’d like to get another book, even a mini collection out some time in the first half of 2013. We’ll see what happens...for all I know I could surprise everyone with a collection of stories. I’d even surprise myself if that happened.

[FFQ] Who designed the cover?

[RZ] The cover of From Where I Stand was a collaboration between Rebecca Hamilton and me. I also got input from a few people whose opinions I valued before finalizing it.
I took the picture, in black and white actually, one day standing on the shore of the lake near my house. I had planned on making it a bit simpler than it is by just adding a little tint and text. But then I realized I knew people who had Photoshop and have helped make covers before.
This is when Hamilton took my basic concept and worked her magic into what you see now. After a few tweaks with fonts and coloring, we ended up with what I feel is a great, but not over-the-top cover.

[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[RZ] I would just like to thank everyone who has read or plans to read From Where I Stand. I hope you enjoy it and I hope that you stick around for more of my work as it comes out. I’d be nowhere without my readers.

Find Rob on Twitter  and Facebook.
You can get From Where I Stand at these links:

Writing Tips: Show and Tell and when to write them.

By Kayla Curry

Wow. So I've been published for about seven months now, but over the last year or so I've heard this piece of advice: Show, don't tell. That's great advice and all, but what does it mean?

Wikipedia says: Show, don't tell is a technique often employed by writers to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author's exposition, summarization, and description.

Great . . .  but again, what does it mean?

Well, I think I've finally figured it out. To make it simple, phrases like. "He was angry," fall flat on a reader. It's like saying, "the sky is blue," or, "grass is green." The reader doesn't need to be told these things. The reader needs to be shown these things.

Anger crept into him and clouded his mood like a storm forming on the horizon.

Blue overtook the sky and expanded as far as the eye could see.

Patches of grass showed it's pride with emerald green shades.

I've gone through some of my writing and found that the places I have the "telling, not showing" problem is when I describe emotions. He was sad, she was happy, this made him mad and other phrases like this now make me cringe when I see them. Of course, it's not necessary to do this every scene, but you can't just tell the reader how the character feels all the time. You need to show them what the emotion is like when the character feels it.

When you read something, most people think that you are just supposed to take the authors word that a certain character was feeling a certain emotion. Well, why should you just take the authors word? They wrote it and so it's true?

That's not how it works. As the author, you have to convince the reader that your character really is feeling this certain emotion. You can't just write down something and say, "That's how it's gonna be and you can't tell me other wise!" You need to let the reader experience the emotion. Let them decide for themselves through your words, not your statements.

A statement is like the examples I mentioned above. He was angry.

Your words can bring that anger to life and take it from being a statement to something more. Something that readers are going to remember. Something that readers can experience. Describing things like emotions can take a reader back to a time where they felt that emotion, and that is what make a memorable story.

Okay, so you've got the concept down, just don't over do it. You need to know when to move the story forward (telling) and when to slow it down (showing). It's called pacing, and that is how you use showing and telling to control the pace of your story.

Need to make it longer? Do more showing.
Need to cut a scene down? Do more telling.

Writing Tips: Building Better Characters - Testing your Characters

By Kayla Curry

I’ll be publishing an article on building stronger characters over the next few issues. In this series, I’ll tell you my secrets on how I build my characters. The first thing I want to tell you about is the use of tests to build diversified and believable characters.

Now, I did not go to school for psychology like my writing partner, Jacob Donley, but I’ve always had an interest in it.

In high school I took a psychology class to get a better understanding of the field and to see if it would lead to a possible career choice for me. Ultimately, I decided not to go to school for psychology. I didn’t think I could handle meeting people with huge problems. I’m too compassionate and I would likely end up wanting to help every single person I met, while simultaneously having meltdowns around why the world sucks so much.

The one thing I did walk out of that class with was a better understanding of why we are all different. I decided that I could use what I learned in my other interest--writing.

During the class we took tons of intelligence, aptitude and personality tests. Each one told us who we were on a piece of paper and you could easily see the differences between all the students in the class. I thought those tests would be a great way to make sure the characters I write about are who I say they are. So here is a list of tests I use and and how I use them:

The Hartman Color Code test. This test separates people into four main groups: reds, blues, whites and yellows. From these groups you will be able to see how your characters should interact with each other. Reds won’t get along with blues. There are also color combinations to describe people in the middle.
How I use it. I use it to make sure I have a range of colors for characters and to insure that the right colors are interacting how these colors normally would. The Hartman Color Code is also nice because it points out that everyone has good and bad qualities. I answer the questions the way my characters would answer them. This also lets me get to know them better. Here’s a site I found that will help you:

The Jung Typology Test (TM). This test is actually four different tests I took in high school rolled into one. It classifies personalities into 16 different types according to four tests. These four tests are Extraverted vs. Introverted, Sensing - Intuition, Thinking - Feeling, and Judging - Perceiving. This test will tell you if your characters are who you say they are. Is your detective an ISTJ? Is your military general an ENTJ? Is your hero an ISFJ?
How I use it. I use this to give my characters just the right amount of stereotype. Let’s face it. We all have those people in our lives who are a stereotypical version of the inventor (ENTP) or the performer (ESFP). We need to see some of that in our writing too. Just don’t go overboard. I’ve taken the test on a few different sites for myself and have come up with 3 different answers that ALL describe me so there are overlaps. Here’s a site you can take the test at:

Multiple Intelligence Test. This test will tell you what environments and situations your character will strive in. It will also tell you the situations your character may have to turn over the lead to someone else. There are many tasks a person will strive in and other that they may not. This test will tell you if your character is a match wiz or a person who needs to work with their hands.
How I use it. Say your characters are trapped in a room. They all have their own ideas on how they will get out, but which is the best idea? Which character takes the lead? You know how they are going to get out, but who’s idea will it be that gets them out? This test will help you figure it out. Here’s a place you can take the test:

Values Test. This test will tell you what your character values most. When your character needs to make a tough decision or prioritize tasks, this test will tell you how they’ll do it in a believable way.
How I use it. If one of my characters needs to make a tough decision and I need to make sure that they are making the right one that doesn’t deviate from their personality, I use this test. When something big happens and my character has a lot of things they need to do to get the right outcome, I use the values test to determine the order in which they do things. Save friends first or try to fight the bad guy? Which is more important to them? The well being of their friends or vengeance? Here’s a link:

Now for an easy test that you can give your characters. The Optimist-Pessimist Test. This will help you decide what characters will give up in the face of doom and which ones will push on. Take a look at the series of words and mentally track what your character’s reaction would be to each one.
Now, did your character think positively? (ice cream, candy, beautiful season, upward journey, easy, magic, to pet, vacation) negatively? (tough time, cheat, tumble, running away, break, to deceive, a physical ailment, stumble) or maybe some of each? If it was mostly positive, they are an optimist. If they think more negative, they are a pessimist. If they are about half and half, they are a realist.

Remember to keep your character true to themselves. Don’t make them do things they would never do and you’ll have believable and strong characters on your hands. Don’t make them say one thing and do the opposite. No one like hypocrites and in writing, hypocrites just come off as unbelievable characters. Therefore you shouldn’t have your character saying that they are brave and fearless in one scene and then make them run away from danger in another. If you are careful to avoid things like that, your characters will shine!

Book Reviews: A Song of Fire and Ice Series or A Game of Waiting

By Laura A. Lords

A Song of Fire and Ice Series by George R.R. Martin

I find I am almost ashamed to say that I hopped aboard the Game of Thrones  bandwagon a few years later than I should have. In my defense, I grabbed the first novel when it came out in 1996, and promptly stuck it on my gigantic bookshelf, where I hate to say it sat until last year. Then, in a fit of desperation to find something, anything , besides my science textbook to read, I pulled out George R.R. Martin’s masterpiece.

But can I call it that? Even now, when I’ve plowed through to the fourth novel and am not-so-patiently waiting for my copy of A Dance with Dragons  to sail through the postal highways and plant itself in my mailbox? Game of Thrones,  itself, is not the only masterpiece; the collection as a whole is a stunning success.

In a way, I believe I’m lucky. A Feast for Crows  was released in 2005, a long five year wait for most after the third book, A Storm of Swords. Of course, that means that readers are four (or perhaps five if you are ahead of me) books into this imaginative, deep, intricate world created in the brilliant mind of Martin. It means that you have come to know, love, and possibly hate the highly developed, realistic characters. You have struggled along with them, praised aloud their victories, and mourned their losses. If you are anything like myself, you have had strong pangs of jealousy at Martin’s work of genius, and at the same time wanted nothing more than to throw his book across the room when out of the blue you find a character you’ve held such a relationship with…killed. Cut out. Slain. Destroyed. Slaughtered. Executed. Eradicated, even. If a book is to be judged on nothing more than the emotional pull it holds over you, Martin has perfected the art of plucking every possible heart-string.

A Feast for Crows  will give you more of the same warm, fuzzy, hateful, heartbreaking feelings. The problem occurs when you reach the end of the book. Martin included a wonderful end chapter to explain the issues he encountered. I believe he said it best when he wrote,
“I was still writing when it dawned on me that the book had become too big to publish in a single volume…and I wasn’t close to finished yet.”

That’s right. He split the book in half. Now, it wasn’t as if I didn’t notice throughout the book that there wasn’t a single chapter titled “Daenerys” or “Tyrion”. Or that remarkable characters, such as Jon Snow, barely received a few words from the author. No, I spotted all of this. Yet still, I devoted myself to it. I plunged into the depths of Westeros and let Martin take me on a ride at least 10 plot lines thick and over 600 pages long, something that can be daunting to some readers.

You can only imagine my response when I got to Martin’s end chapter, when he explained that he had to split the book, when I read that bonus chapter from A Dance with Dragons  and I received a glimpse of what had been happening with Daenerys. At least, I thought to myself, she’s alive. Which as far as Martin’s characters are concerned, is a feat of immeasurable triumph.

Martin has created a world so elaborate and complex, full of characters that are just as highly developed, that it was only a matter of time before the intense story lines began entwining and weaving together to a point that he would have to separate out the books. However, the wait for the next piece of the puzzle is always well worth it.

If you haven’t begun the series yet, hurry. You can easily get a set containing the first four books in the series. (Trust me; once you get started you will want to have the next one handy.)  Martin has reshaped the fantasy genre, and has created a world one can get happily lost in. Go now, pick up your copy, and become enchanted for, as Maester Aemon said, “Starks are always right eventually: winter is coming. This one will be long, and dark things will come with it.”

Fiction Features: There's a Nook Gase in my Bookcase

By Laura A. Lords

It’s 2012; our world revolves around the computer, our phone, tablets, or
whatever other handheld electronic equipment we are using to stay plugged in. So in this
world of the quick connection and the immediate response, where do actual, hold-in-
your-hand books come in?

There is something about the feelings that sweep through you, fellow book
junkies will get it, the second you walk into a library. The smell of the paper and ink
around you, the feel of the book in your hands, flipping the page and transporting
yourself into a different time or place…it really is a magical moment. If I’ve lost you
already, you’re not one of the library fanatics I’m talking about, but keep reading. This
book junkie is about to get all technical on you.

It’s a whole new technologically advanced world, a world that I fail in repeatedly.
I’m 26 years old and within the last month got my first touch screen cell phone. I can
only imagine the look of disbelief on your faces right now. That’s right. In this holy
land of Angry Birds (something else I fail at), downloadable books, and Google search
engines available at any time with the tap of a finger…I am only now becoming involved.

Naturally, I did the only thing I could think of to help improve my complete lack
of technological skill. I bought a Nook. To be specific, I bought the Nook Simple Touch
(the cheapo of the bunch). I sat, not-so-patiently, waiting for two days until the little box
showed up in the mail. It was an amazing experience. Take it from someone who still
looks at her boyfriend’s smart phone and goes, “Wow, it can do that?”

Within three hours it was completely charged and I was online happily
downloading all of the free books I could (fair warning: most of the free books available
are smut. Good smut, bad smut, but 99% of it is all smut). Now I know I said I bought the
cheap version of the Nook, but that wasn’t the reason for the free books. I didn’t want to
spend a ton of money on books yet when I wasn’t sure how I was going to like the reader.

Begin testing phase. Let me explain my room to you. I have an entire wall that my
wonderful father covered in shelves for all my books. It’s full. In the same manner, under
my bed is also full, the space by the wall under the window is loaded, the Man’s Xbox
sits on a pile of books…I have a slight problem. Needless to say, I downloaded a lot to
the Nook in those first few moments as well, totaling out at about 20 free books (with
a smut-smut here and a smut-smut there, but also a bit of free poetry I found and H.G.
Well’s The Time Machine).

The nitty-gritty of it, it really is a great product. With the Nook Simple Touch
the screen isn’t lit, but it is very easy to read, and you can purchase a Nook light pretty
cheap. The words are sharp and clear and I never found myself getting that headache
that seeps into the back of my brain after too many hours reading off the computer. It’s
easy to change the text size and font, something that comes in handy to make reading
even easier for different users. Pages are turned with the simple push of a button or the
tap of the screen, whichever you prefer. I’m a button person myself, but hey, we already
discussed my touch screen experience, or lack-there-of.

I think the biggest bonus though is the battery life. I left it unplugged, on, and
read it every evening for ten days before I was down to 25% battery life. To say I was
wow-ed is the understatement of the century. I fully expected this thing to konk out on me after a few days.
I’m relatively positive now that the Energizer Bunny has been
squished flat and shoved inside this light-weight little machine. Poor thing.

Everything’s not all peachy with the Nook though. Checking out the prices, I
really didn’t find a lot of difference between the prices of buying the book out of the
store and getting it for my Nook. Barnes and Nobles does offer some great sales and it’s
entirely possible to find some awesome classics on the freebie list, or at least the cheap
list of books. However, I ordered George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire: Clash of
Kings and paid $8.99 for it. Not much a steal when I can get the paperback at Wal-Mart
for $7.99.

All that aside, there really is something about the feel of a book in your hands.
Imagine your dream house, a nice library with the fireplace going, and a bunch of empty
shelves because your library is a bunch of pixilated words floating around in cyber space.
That is so sad, I can’t even think about it anymore. So I’m old school, I want my books.
If you think the only chance you’ll ever pick up a good book is if you can get it through
an awesome product like this, then go for the Nook Simple Touch. It doesn’t have all the
fancy gadgets that the others include (like the tablet applications or the backlight), but it’s
a lot of bang for your buck. As for me…I’ll be the chick in the library with the paperback
in her hands, curled up in the corner of the couch.

Book Reviews: 50 Shades Series by E.L. James or Oh My (Insert Dramatic Ellipsis Here)

By Laura A. Lords

Oh my…where to begin? Fifty Shades of Grey  is a sensation that has swept women across the country away into a hedonistic gallery of sexual romance. Alas, I am perplexed. E L James has taken it to mind to tackle an entire community of people (the BDSM community) and get it devastatingly wrong. She slapped an erotic romance label on the front of it, attached a wonderful ‘Mature Content’ warning, and it became a New York Times Best Seller.  Perhaps perplexed is not the right word. I shall take a page from James’ own writing technique and resort to my thesaurus… I’m bewildered, confused, confounded, baffled, stumped, stymied, bamboozled, and stupefied. Well, that wasn’t nearly as exciting. James must have a much more extended version than I do, for the novel is full of odd, out-of-place words that never  show up in normal conversation, nevertheless, the snarky comments Anastasia and Christian favor.

What’s more, I’m convinced that while I’m envious of James’ comprehensive thesaurus, I can’t imagine she bothers to use it much. It has come to my attention that Kate should simply be named Tenacious Kate. For the first half of the book, it is really the only way that character is ever described. I can feel that poor inanimate being, screaming inside James’ head, “There is more to me than this! I’m not this flat…and boring!”

Perhaps it isn’t an extensive thesaurus, but simply a weird word of the day calendar that James has propped up on her desk. It is probably sitting atop her BDSM for Dummies book. This book, she obviously never cracked. I won’t even get started with yet another young female lead character who proves to be such a terrible role model for today’s young women. Let’s simply say that the concept of Anastasia “fixing” Christian’s sexual preferences is abhorrent, ridiculous, and offensive. This is a lifestyle choice, and it is consensual. It is not some kind of disease to be treated or worked through in therapy. I would think by 2013 our society would be more capable of understanding that everyone’s “Inner Goddess” doesn’t exactly want the same things.

As far as Christian is concerned, no self-respecting Dominant, or one worth his salt at least, would take a virgin in as his submissive. The idea that by sleeping with her before hand and participating in “vanilla” sex (along with a detailed contract of terms and items that young Anastasia wasn’t even familiar with) makes this kind of relationship okay… is detestable. This is abuse of power. It is emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. James dedicates pages to the contract itself, tosses in Anastasia’s claims at love, and suddenly makes it seem like this is perfectly acceptable. Of course, Anastasia is simply attempting to “cure” Christian of his screwed up ways, so hey, what’s the harm?

Oh my… I seem to have gotten off on my own little rampage here. Let’s put the counterfeit BDSM issues back into its closet and simply talk about the writing. Aside from boring, flat characters who receive little in the way of descriptive qualities and conversation that is meant to be snappy, yet is full of intense language even a “bookie” like myself has to look up and refresh herself with…the novel is full of three things: “Oh my”, “Wow”, and the ellipsis. I barely can recall a paragraph that went by without one of these terms or pieces of punctuation being used.

Then you have sentences like these,
“Saturday at the store is a nightmare. We are besieged by do-it-yourselfers wanting to spruce up their homes. Mr. and Mrs. Clayton and John and Patrick – the two part-timers – and I are besieged by customers.”

I get it. The store is full. I understand. However, “besieged”? Really? And obviously so much so that James felt the need to use the word twice in the course of two sentences. I read that and immediately an image of strong Viking raiders came to mind, banging their battle axes and hammers against the door of a small town hardware store. Hey, they need their paint swatches too. It was, certainly, the most vivid image the book was able to draw for me; which is sad considering it had absolutely nothing to do with anything actually happening in the book.

I could go on and on about the issues I have with this book. As I said before, I haven’t even tackled the wonderful role model these characters give us. No, I will leave that as it is. There’s little to be done for it in a world where characters like Bella from Twilight  are revered so highly already. Female role models have headed downhill at a rate faster than my opinion of these over-sexed Harlequin romances.

I’ll leave you with this. No one has an “Inner Goddess”. If you’d like to test that theory, hang a few mirrors up and check out your next ‘O’ face. There is nothing God-like about it. Secondly, the childlike renaming of genitalia simply makes it seem like ‘vagina’ is a dirty word. It isn’t, so renaming is as “ there ” (and in italics at that) is just juvenile. And finally, take it from the internet. There is better smut online. Better written smut and it’s free. Go forth and find good smut.

YouTube On Writing: The Story Board Episodes 1-7

Discovered by Jacob Donley

These videos are from geekandsundry, be sure to subscribe to them!

Book Reviews: A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

By Jacob Donley

A Memory of Light by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson

Robert Jordan’s final installment of The Wheel of Time series was released back in January. It was the culmination of his epic saga that finished with a bang, thanks to the help of Brandon Sanderson. A MEMORY OF LIGHT finished with bang. The endings for all the characters that we have followed for years were all wrapped up nice and tight. The book was drawn together in a neat bundle with exciting plot lines, characters, and paths that took unexpected and rewarding turns throughout. A MEMORY OF LIGHT was all that I could have expected for the ending of an epic so massive that it took twenty years to finish.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Fiction Features Quarterly: Volume I, Issue I

Fiction Features Quarterly: Volume I: Issue I
Originally published December 3rd

Sections and Articles:

Featured Author
S.M. Boyce

Fiction Features
Book Releases: January 2013
What is Steampunk?
Wave Goodbye: Elves, Dwarves, and Orcs
Blogger Book Fair

Author Interviews
Thomas Winship
Wynne Channing
Justin Macumber
Terry Mixon

Book Reviews
14 by Peter Clines
Legion by Brandon Sanderson
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
The Prince of Hazel and Oak by John Lenahan

Writing Tips
Boyce's Guide to Writing
Podcasts for Writers
Getting Inspiration
Time Management
Laying the Groundwork forYour Novel

Cover Artist Interviews
Jaycee Delorenzo
Brenda Meelker - Embrision Arts
George Arnold - WGA Designs

YouTube On Writing
Kurt Vonnegut on how to write a short story
Dan Wells on Story Structure, Parts 1-5

About Us
Jacob Donley
Kayla Curry

FFQ: Featured Author: S.M. Boyce

S.M. Boyce, Author of the Grimoire Saga by Kayla Curry

I met S. M. Boyce online through Twitter and I quickly realized that not only was she talented, she was also kind and funny. Her debut novel, Lichgates, was a semi-finalist in The Kindle Book Reviews Best Indie Books of 2012, and won the Blogger Book Fair Reader’s Choice Award for Best Fantasy Novel in July 2012.

Boyce has a B. A. in Creative Writing and has put it to good use. The highly anticipated Treason, the second book in the Grimoire Trilogy, was released on October 27, 2012 and she is hard at work on the third book, Heritage.

Treason is also on a blog tour right now until December 31st. During the tour, Boyce will be giving away $500 worth of prizes, so be sure to check that out. You can get the tour schedule HERE.
Luckily, Boyce agreed to an interview even though she is extremely busy. So, here are her thoughts on writing, publishing and marketing, for your reading pleasure:

[FFM] What inspired you to write your first book?

[SMB] Years of daydreaming and asking “What if?” I draw inspiration from everything in my life, and the Grimoire Trilogy was a fleeting idea that snowballed into something truly epic.

[FFM] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[SMB] There are quite a lot of challenges facing new authors, especially nowadays. Between choosing whether to go indie or traditional and trying to dodge all the scammers along the way, it’s hard to know what to do. That’s why I created Boyce’s Guide to Writing . It’s a blog I update weekly with tips, tricks, and discussions on new developments in the industry. Feel free to go check it out and subscribe—it’ll always be free.

[FFM] How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

[SMB] Again, a lot of my marketing tips and discoveries are on Boyce’s Guide to Writing . However, I can tell you now that Twitter has been vastly helpful. It’s such an easy way to connect with readers, engage with fans, and network with new authors. I’ve made a ton of sales thanks to Twitter, and I definitely recommend authors build a presence on the social networking site. Feel free to follow me and tweet me a hello.

[FFM] Who designed the covers?

[SMB] A friend of mine, Rob Meridy. However, he’s not for hire at the moment (Mwuahahaha he’s mine). He does this for fun. If you want to take a look at his other work, you can check out his Deviant Art site.

[FFM] Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

[SMB] Sure thing. Heritage , the last in the Grimoire Trilogy, comes out next Fall. I’m making great progress on it, and that should be right on time. Each year after, I’ll release a novel with the backstory on side characters like Stone, Deidre, and the first Vagabond. Down the line, I even plan to release a print copy of the free online encyclopedia of the world. So follow my blog and stay tuned!
I’m also going to release the first book in a new series next fall, just before Heritage. If you’d like to get updates on this new series, make sure you follow my bookworms-only blog or sign up for ARCs of all my future works .

[FFM] Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

[SMB] Definitely. Both Thomas Winship and Nikki Jefford are talented authors who don’t get enough recognition for their great work. You should definitely check out their novels.

[FFM] Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

[SMB] My biggest advice is twofold: get an editor and develop thick skin. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing or how good you think you are—everyone needs an editor. Find someone who works with you and challenges what you know, and swap services if they’re a bit pricey.
Make sure you check out Boyce’s Guide to Writing for more.

[FFM] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[SMB] Thank you for everything. Your reviews, fan letters, blog comments, and feedback are invaluable. You remind me to stay positive when things get rough, and I can’t thank you enough for that. Stay awesome!

Here are some Links to Boyce and her Books:
Goodreads Page
Amazon Page
Official Book Website
Amazon (US)
Barnes & Noble

Fiction Features: Book Releases: January 2013

By Jacob Donley and Kayla Curry

BLESSED BY A DEMON’S MARK by E.S. Moore ebook release January 1, 2013
Amazon touts this book to be released, 12/31/2012, but I’m putting it in for the first of January, 2013 to start off the new year. So, if you are anxiously awaiting the arrival of this third installment in the Kat Redding Series, head to amazon on the 31st of December to grab, E.S. Moore’s BLESSED BY A DEMON’S MARK.

A MEMORY OF LIGHT by Robert Jordan & Brandon Sanderson, January 8, 2013
The much anticipated final novel in The Wheel of Time series is almost here. Brandon Sanderson will conclude the series that was created by Robert Jordan before his passing in 2007. The many plot lines in this fantasy epic including Rand, Mat, and Perrin will be wrapped up in A MEMORY OF LIGHT. Rand's story will come to a close, but how will it end, with joy or sadness?

ICE FORGED by Gail Z. Martin ebook release January 8, 2013
The overwhelming ratings on Goodreads shows that Gail Z. Martin writes novels that keep an audience coming back for more. While reviewers tend to take issue with some under developed characters and lacking dialogue, there appears to be no lack of support. I intend to buy some of these novels to get firsthand knowledge. Check out her upcoming book, ICE FORGED, releasing on 01/08/2013.

SEVEN KINGS by John R. Fultz ebook releases January 15, 2013
After reading multiple reviews on the book SEVEN PRINCES, indicating that the story was predictable, I also found just as many reviews and comments stating that they loved the series and eagerly await the sequel. As it so happens, the sequel, SEVEN KINGS, will be available 01/15/2013.

THE KEY INHERITANCE by Jen McConnel releases January 15, 2013
 Ten years ago, a trip to Scotland taught Lou more about herself than she could have imagined. Now, at 36, she’s returned to the rainy land to settle accounts. She struggles to pick up the broken pieces of her life, and nothing is what she remembers. Something dark waits in Scotland for Lou, and this time, she’s not sure who to turn to. Lou must settle her own accounts before she can take on the malicious spirit who is targeting her family, but is she already too late? THE KEY INHERITANCE is a companion novella to THE BURNING OF ISOBEL KEY, continuing the story a decade later.

Fiction Features: What is Steampunk?

By Jacob Donley

Five years ago, I’d never heard of Steampunk. As the sub-genre has increased dramatically over the years, I've heard more and more, and all of it has been positive.. While listening to The Dead Robots' Society  podcast, in episode 175 with author Philippa (Pip) Ballantine  as a guest, the DRS crew talk with Pip about "What is Steam punk?" I have the book STEAMPUNK , edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. I haven't been able to wrangle the time to sit down and read it quite yet, but while doing a homework assignment for school, I took the time to open a new tab on my browser and steer to one of her sites, The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences . One of the pages on the site leads you to one titled, What is Steampunk ? , which has all kinds of information for anyone who is interested in learning more about this genre of writing. I've always been interested in the ways that cultures are built, and it appears, according the website already mentioned, that a lot revolves around what if all of the devices that we enjoy today were powered by steam?  This includes airplanes, whatever they would look like if powered by some kind of steam engine, all the way down to a child's toy that in our society might run off batteries. That covers the steam portion in perhaps the broadest sense of the notion. To me, that is a great and interesting take on an amalgam of science fiction and fantasy. It's a steam powered world and the writer has control of the vent release mechanism. Brilliant!
But...where does the punk come into this equation? According to The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences  view on the "punk" in Steampunk, punk is going against the convention of that society’s norms. "That makes sense," you might say, but apparently, people have different views on this since the genres emerging popularity. It's becoming commercialized and much of the punk attitude that made it appealing in the first place is beginning to be washed out. In a sense, it is much the same as what happened to punk music as it became more popular. In the music scene, there is the "original punk" that arose in the late '70's and into the 80's and there is today's punk, which some bands were able to keep that edge of "going against THE MAN". However, a growing number of bands, many people believe, have gone commercial  and would be better labeled as pop-punk. Many original writers in the Steampunk movement have probably seen this and would like to label these writers into a different genre I like to call, Steampop. Of course that is my opinion as an outsider to the movement itself.
If you would like more information on Steampunk, I would recommend going to the "What is Steampunk?" link listed above.