Wednesday, August 31, 2011

(re)Formation of a Noob

My blog is sick. And I don't mean that in the hip way that suggests my blog is pretty tight, dope, or fresh.

I mean, my blog is seriously sick. If it lived in the wild kingdom, the rest of the blogs would have abandoned it at a watering hole by now.

It's time to revive this thing once and for all.

So I've come up with a schedule for each week. It's a novel idea, this whole scheduling notion! I'm surprised nobody's ever thought of it before.

Starting September 5, each week's blogs will look like this:

In which the author takes a stance against the little things in life. Bring your own soap box.

In which the author claims a minimal amount of writing expertise. Grains of salt not included.

In which the author presents his original fiction to an audience that has yet to make itself known.

Tuesdays and Thursdays will be designated for featured authors. 

I've needed to find a way to breathe life into this blog for some time. What do you think? Will this be a good way to impose some order on the chaos that is my noobishness?

In other news, my new novel "Children of Aerthwheel" is nearly ready to go live. I think within the next five days, it will be up and running. And, coincidentally, I'll be running all over the Intertubes as I try to spread the word about this magical underdog story!

If you're a blogger who would like to read and review my new book, please leave a comment and I'll get in touch with you. And if you're an author who knows where I might find such gracious bloggers, please leave a comment below. And if you're a stranger who just likes to leave comments on random blogs, then feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Age of Novellas

I came across an intriguing article on my favorite scifi / science blog Io9 here (possibly written by Charlie Jane Anders). It outlines a discussion shared at Worldcon by Stephen H. Segal of Weird Tales magazine, Sheila Williams from Asimov's Science Fiction, Lou Anders of Pyr Books and Neil Clarke from Clarkesworld Magazine. The panel discussed how technology has changed the landscape of science fiction and fantasy, almost providing a blue print for up-and-coming indie writers who will be pioneers in the new publishing era.

Of all the bullet points they nailed, I was most interested in their opinions regarding the marriage of novellas and ebook technology. Segal suggests that we are about to witness a "golden age of novellas" in which the format is more widely accepted by readers due to its shorter length (25,000 to 30,000 words) and relative ease of production. The price point can be adjusted to reflect what many "bargain" readers desire in their ebook pricing while still providing a solid story that has the look and feel of a regular novel.

To me, this is a sort of literary evolution. Sure, novellas have existed for years. But I see this new age of novellas as a sign that literature and technology can be reconciled. And I can only hope that this kind of adaptation will lead to a higher rate of literacy as ereaders and their software become more widely used.

Another fascinating notion suggested by the panel is the possible resurgence of adventure fiction that appeals to a wider (and younger) reading audience. This could mean a renewed popularity in action and suspense stories with less-navel gazing and more plot-driven excitement.

Depending on your literary tastes, this may or may not thrill you. Personally, I look at this resurrection of adventure fiction in the context of a publishing industry that is eager to push more novella-length fiction and I can't help but think that we might be on the verge of witnessing the creation of some incredibly cool YA stories.

You see, some time ago, I posted a blog about creating a serialized project that somehow combined elements of literature, popular television and rock star bravado. That idea has never left my mind, though I've been afraid to wholeheartedly act on it since writing it here.

I've considered breaking apart my first novel "Children of Aerthwheel" into two shorter books for the very reasons that the panel of writers and editors discussed at Worldcon. I've sensed from the beginning that the ebook technology was a perfect gateway for introducing shorter fiction. Maybe the reading public isn't ready for single short stories; but I honestly believe that the average ebook reader would be hard pressed to ignore a wave of slightly shorter novels. Readers, especially younger book-lovers, are desperate for convenience. If this comes in the form of high quality fiction that's easier to finish, what's the harm?

The writer writes, the reader reads. Everyone goes home happy.

I have more ideas regarding this issue, but I want to save them for the next post. Plus, I have a guest post on another blog coming soon and I'd like to be able to talk about these ideas in that particular piece.

Until the next time, here's your homework: leave a comment and tell me if you prefer shorter stories over longer works. And if so, why?

Friday, August 19, 2011

Indie Author Showcase: Tamara Rose Blodgett

For about the past week, I have had something akin to the super flu. So, for several days, I have looked and felt like this guy...

Eat two brains and call me in the morning.
Since this week has pretty much seen me stumbling around our home in boxer shorts with a fistful of medication and a chest glistening with Vicks VapoRub, I haven't been able to focus on the final preparations for my new novel "Children of Aerthwheel."

I had hoped to make it available by August 22, but that may not be happening now. At the very least, it will be the middle of next week before I am comfortable with casting "Children of Aerthwheel" out into the vast digital void. I think, as I am only 29 and have no kids, this is the closest I've ever felt to driving my first born child to college. It's scary, liberating, and overwhelming all at the same time.

But enough of that.

On to the showcase!

Author Tamara Rose Blodgett lives in Alaska and is a paranormal enthusiast..She also has experience as a journalist. In addition to the book described below, she has also published the paranormal romance "The Pearl Savage." Her newest novel, "Death Speaks," will be available in September.

And now, from the author herself...

Author: Tamara Rose Blodgett

Book Title: Death Whispers

Genre: Young Adult

Your Book in 1000 Words or Less: Death Whispers, a Futuristic Paranormal tale of friendship, romance and government intrigue, explores the life of fourteen year-old Caleb Hart, "normal" teen and corpse-raiser...

Caleb has the most rare of the paranormal powers, Cadaver-Manipulation (aka corpse-raiser). In this world of the future, with Brain Impulse "pulse" Technology's wide-spread use and influence keenly realized, routine school inoculation has expanded to include a pharmaceutical cocktail, which once administered, unlocks the genetic potential for paranormal abilities. Using this small window of puberty, teens who have the genetic propensity find themselves manifesting extraordinary gifts; some of which garner the full attention of our government. Caleb must camouflage his new "talent" during the mandatory eighth grade Aptitude Test so that he remains undiscovered while establishing choice for his future. However, events beyond his control systematically reveal Caleb and his friends, which force them to fight for their freedom. In the midst of this struggle, his girlfriend's father battles to reassert his abusive dominance in her life while a couple of "peer enemies" thwart his efforts of secrecy at every turn. In the explosive climax, Caleb must protect his friends, and Jade, the one he all costs.

From the Back Cover
Caleb can't seem to stop the accidental zombie raisings, the science experiments are killing him and road kill has taken on a whole new meaning. Add in the two dudes dogging him at school and he's about to explode.
When he finally gets the courage to ask Jade out things start going his way...until her dad starts stalking her and the government starts stalking Caleb. How does he defeat them, get the girl and shake the jerks that are making him miserable?

Book Link: Death Whispers (The Death Series)

Author Website:

Something Unique About Your Writing Process: A 'thinking-out-of-the box' paranormal enthusiast who believes there's a 95% chance zombies do not exist; but loves to write as if they do... I'm from the Seattle area originally and have worked as an online journalist in the past. I believe young males have a specific way of talking and try very hard to capture that in my books. In my spare time I'm a [reluctant] serial-re-modeler, project-slave and big-time, in-my-pants reader (surprise!). I do a great deal of day-dreaming about impossible scenarios and events, writing books to capture them in stories for you~
Side note: Gnomes should be exterminated.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Indie Author Showcase: Keith Robinson

Before we get to the showcase, I have news!

The Kickstarter project for "Children of Aerthwheel" expired yesterday without being successfully funded. This does not, however, mean the book won't be published. Of course it will see the light of day. I'll just have to work harder to get print copies into the hands of booksellers and reviewers. I'd hoped to have a website that acted as a sort of companion piece to the novel; I can still do that, though it won't be as seamless and it won't be as interactive as I'd originally planned.

Truthfully, I was disappointed when the Kickstarter project hit the wall. Yet, I'm not discouraged. That project, like everything I've done up to this point, was simply an experiment. Had it worked out, I would have been overjoyed; but I can take that "failed" experience and learn some things. As an indie author, I will never count myself as defeated. I will always look at my experiences as opportunities to learn and adapt. It's a skill I like to apply in my daily life, too.

I recently heard a rather wise man say, "Failure is not trying." As long as I put my heart and soul into whatever I'm doing, I will never fail. Every movement made is a motion forward. Even when things seem depressing and the world appears to be at odds with your very existence, you have to try. That's what being an indie is all about. And I will never stop trying.

Okay, enough of the motivational mumbo-jumbo! It's time for the Indie Author Showcase... back for good, this time!

Today's featured author is Keith Robinson. In addition to the book featured below, he has written three sequels and is planning the fifth novel in the series. If there's anything I like more than an indie author, it's a hard-working indie author! Originally hailing from England, Keith has lived in the United States since 2001. When he's not writing, he is a website designer, a collector of books, and a fan of fantasy and science fiction.

And now, from the author himself...

Author: Keith Robinson

Book Title: Island of Fog

Genre: Fantasy for readers 9+ (suits adults too)

Your Book in 1000 Words or Less: A lonely, foggy island is home to eight families. Twelve-year-old Hal and his friends have always wondered what happened all those years ago on the mainland, that unseen place Out There beyond the fog, and after an astonishing discovery in the woods the children are more determined than ever to find out what their parents are hiding. But their lives are turned upside down when Abigail reveals her closely guarded secret. According to her, the children are slowly changing into monsters! Are they freaks of nature, or subjects of a sinister experiment?

Each child reacts differently to his or her unique monstrous transformation; after all, one may feel proud to be a dragon, faerie, or centaur, but who in their right mind wants to be a sadistic manticore or cowardly harpy?

ISLAND OF FOG is a story of intrigue and conspiracy. The reader follows Hal Franklin as he struggles to accept that he and his friends are something more than ordinary children, and that their parents have been covering up the truth the whole time. With their trust shaken and the unexpected arrival of a strange woman from Out There, the children hide their frightening shapeshifting abilities and pretend nothing is wrong.

The story continues in LABYRINTH OF FIRE and MOUNTAIN OF WHISPERS. The fourth book, LAKE OF SPIRITS, is due Summer 2011.

Book Link: (or signed copies from

Author Website:

Something Unique About Your Writing Process:  I wrote ISLAND OF FOG organically and it took absolutely ages. I enjoyed what I wrote, but it took me in the wrong direction so I had to change a lot of it. Subsequent novels have only taken 4-6 months because I plan them with chapter summaries (just a paragraph each). But I rarely complete my summaries; as long as I have about half done, including the last few chapters, I can fill in the rest organically. For me it's like printing a map of how to get to your destination; you're aware of the route and where to make important turns, but you have no idea what you're going to see along the way.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Dedication of a Noob

The great and wise Douglas Adams once wrote, "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by."

I first read that line when I was in college. It made me giddy. This was a fist in the air, a Shakespearean biting-of-the-thumb at all my professors who lived and breathed deadlines. If honest-to-God authors didn't take them seriously, why should I?

At this point, we'll flash forward about seven years. Deadlines have come and gone. As it turns out, I managed to meet a few of them. But some of them were missed or entirely ignored. And when you miss a few of life's deadlines, you start to feel the repercussions.

One of the biggest deadlines that I missed involved my mother.

Every memory of my mother during my childhood involves her sitting next to a pile of ever-changing books. Seemingly every day, she had a handful of new titles sitting on her bed stand or beside her recliner in the living room. She loved to read. And she encouraged me to read as much and as often as possible. She prodded me to explore books, big and small, and it is because of her that I became a sort of literary adventurer.

When I was a noobish little kid, I read things like In The Night Kitchen, Slugs, and The Man Who Lost His Head. I was less interested in traditional children's books and went searching for the weird and fascinating. This lead to my reading My Teacher Fried My Brains and How To Eat Fried Worms. Because of my mom's passion for reading, I was in middle school or early high school and enjoying titles by Stephen King. While the rest of my high school English class hated "Lord of the Flies", I was in love with the book from beginning to end. And all of this is thanks to my mom's constant love for the written word.

As a senior in high school, I decided that I wanted to write. There weren't many other things I was good at doing and writing was the one activity that seemed to make the world disappear around me. It was the only thing that truly made me happy and I vowed to my senior English teacher that I was going to be a writer after high school.

I also secretly vowed to myself that my mother would be the first person to read my debut novel whenever it was published. She had done so much for me that I at least owed her that special pleasure of being the first reader. Think of it as the more mature version of giving your mom a painting from school so she can slap it on the refrigerator door.

For years, in college and beyond, I dabbled in writing. I created short stories, had some things published, and experienced the typical trials and tribulations of a struggling writer. The whole time, I kept that secret vow in the back of my mind: mom was going to read the first book.

Then mom got sick. First, she lost part of her vision. Then she suffered a series of crippling strokes. And finally, after a few years of simply struggling to be the person she had once been, she succumbed to a relentless disease called polycythaemia vera.

And that was when I realized one of the most important deadlines had come and gone.

We lost her last year. It was the most painful thing I've ever experienced and for a time, I lost faith in everything. Love, the afterlife, family, friends, the world in general. It was all just black to me. Pointless.

But I remembered the deadlines. And my goal of letting my mother read my first book before anyone else.
So I attacked my imagination with a renewed fervor. I zeroed in on a book I had started a few years earlier before being swept away by new jobs and new homes.

And for a year, I obsessed over the book that should have eventually been in my mom's hands.

Sometimes my imagination is unstoppable.

And I can't help but imagine myself in an alternate reality where I hand my mother a copy of my new novel. She smiles a radiant grin as she adjusts the glasses on her face. They're too big and they sometimes make her look much older than she actually is, but that doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is seeing her open the book, passing over the title and author page, and then reading with surprised delight the dedication meant for the only person important enough to be the first reader.

For mom.

No more missed deadlines.

Friday, August 5, 2011

"Children of Aerthwheel" Cover by Najla Qamber

I was lucky enough to stumble across the Deviant Art gallery of Najla Qamber, a talented graphic artist and (as I would come to find out) a supporter of the indie publishing movement. Her artwork was unique and stunning, especially her fantasy-driven photo manipulations.After a few e-mail conversations, I was somehow lucky enough to have her agree to create the cover for my new novel.

And yesterday, she delivered the goods. Below is the official cover for "Children Of Aerthwheel" care of Naj and her great imagination*.

She really nailed the concept that I described to her... and I mean NAILED it. I can't express how pleased I was by the artwork she provided and how grateful I am to have my first novel feature such an amazing cover. Thanks, Naj!

Be sure to explore her work online. First, there's her Deviant Art gallery, filled with images that are sure to inspire a story or two. You can also find her book reviews, discussions, and book cover redesigns (along with a lot of other great content) at Unputdownable Books, where there's also an ebook giveaway available right now.

"Children of Aethwheel" is going to be live August 22 in ebook format. Soon after, it will be available in print. Below, you can read the full synopsis. Over the next week or two, expect more posts and some sample chapters to get you ready for the first in this epic series.


Andrew Fish is a lonely middle school student who’s lived most of his life without a mother. He's been stuck with a reclusive, emotionally absent father for nearly thirteen years. Andrew's quiet world is turned upside down when he befriends Greta Del Sol, a free-spirited orphan who just moved to town with her new foster parents. Where Andrew is afraid of confrontation, Greta is well-versed in the language of the fight.

Andrew soon realizes something evil has followed Greta and is somehow awakening behemoth creatures in the town of Little Tree. As this mysterious darkness settles into the community, Andrew begins to discover that his own family is somehow connected to the evil magic that stalks Greta. What’s worse is that Little Tree itself may be a gateway that separates two completely different realms and Andrew's secret heritage may be the key to keeping the two worlds divided.

As the boundaries of reality become paper-thin, and unimaginable creatures invade Little Tree, Andrew and his friends learn that magic is real and that its mere presence is a burden that can curse entire generations.

In 'Children of Aerthwheel,' the doors between light and dark have been unlocked. And once they’re open, the world will never be the same.

* Stock images used with permission from...

Raven Cornelissen /  (image of boy)
 Ida Mary Walker / (image of girl)