Wednesday, October 31, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Jonathan Maberry

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJonathan Maberry

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I have favorite characters in each book and one favorite character overall. In Ghost Road Blues and its two sequels -Dead Man’s Song and Bad Moon Rising (to be released May 8, 2008), my favorite character to write was the teenager, Mike Sweeney. He’s damaged, misunderstood, tragic, and moody and at the same time he’s capable of being loving and funny. He’s also the character that undergoes the greatest process of change. When we meet him he’s a badly abused teenager who doesn’t think he’ll live long enough to see his next birthday. A lot happens to him over the course of the three books.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDead Man's Song

2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I’m a writing teacher and motivational speaker. I’m co-founder of the Writers Corner USA, a writers education center in Doylestown, PA. I give classes and workshops all over the place, mostly on how to break into the writing biz, and how to get truly motivated to do your best work as a creative person. I do talks at libraries, colleges, writing groups, bookstores...you name it.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
There are two ways to answer that. Like most writers I have more ideas in my head than I’ll ever have time to write. It’s funny, but one of the most common questions writers are asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ and another is ‘Aren’t you afraid you’ll ever run out of ideas?’. A writer would never even think to ask those questions because there is always a process of creation going on in the writers’ mind. Always...it never stops. My characters begin conversations in my head. Scenes take place. For most people this would be a psychological cry for help and Thorazine might be called-for; but to a writer this is another happy day on the job.

On the other hand, specific bursts of inspiration generally come from observing life as one passes through it. Writers observe all the time, and we think about what we observe –sometimes consciously and deliberately, and sometimes subconsciously. We listen in on conversations –not to be rude, but to hear how people speak, how they relate to one another, and how they edit themselves depending on whom they’re talking with. More than once folks have seen me just standing and being quiet at a party and have mistaken that for shyness or ‘being lost in my thoughts’, but in reality I’m very present and am trying to absorb as much of what’s going on as possible. Life, when closely observed, teaches us nearly everything we need to know about making good stories and real characters.


9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I’ve been actively involved in jujutsu since I was a little kid. Close on to 46 years now and hold an 8th degree black belt. Back in the 1970s and early ‘80s I competed in full contact martial arts tournaments, boxed, wrestled, and fenced. I taught martial arts for many years, sometimes as a 9-5 gig and sometimes part-time. More recently I ran a small program for classical Japanese swordplay –kenjutsu, a Samurai art—and also taught very physical self-defense workshops for police, SWAT and other law enforcement officers.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I love the Blues. Always have. That’s why the Bone Man, a central and rather ghostly character in Ghost Road Blues and its sequels, is a Bluesman; and some of the folklore of the Blues works its way into the story. But I also like classic Rock, folk-rock, early Punk, classical... the list goes on. I always write with the CD-changer randomly switching, so the selection might go from Tom Waits singing Murder in the Red Barn to Loreena McKennitt’s Bonny Swans to The Pogues Young Ned of the Hill to Howlin Wolf’s Little Red Rooster to the Goldberg Variations.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I’m a structure kinda guy, but I like elbowroom within that structure. I typically write an outline, some character profiles, and even a preliminary synopsis of the book. Then when I sit down to write I allow myself the freedom to wander as far away from the outline as the story needs to go. If you listen, the story will tell you when it needs to stick to the outline and when it needs to go for a run. The outline is useful, though, because it’s a measuring stick: you can compare the story in development with your original concepts and ideas. An outline also allows you to write in a nonsequential manner. Sometimes I’ll jump ahead and write a scene that’s in chapter eleven, just to satisfy an urge; then I’ll go back to chapter six and pick up where I left off.

The organic process of growing a good novel with a balance of structure and make-it-up-as-you go allows for complex plotting and character development while at the same time permitting spontaneous growth spurts.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Jonathan Maberry is the Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Ghost Road Blues. The second in the trilogy, Dead Man's Song, is now available, and the series will conclude with Bad Moon Rising in May 2008.

He is a professional writer and writing teacher and since 1979 has sold more than 1000 articles, seventeen nonfiction books, six novels, as well as short stories, poetry, song lyrics, video scripts, and two plays. His nonfiction works include Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings That Hunt Us, Haunt Us and Hunger For Us (Citadel Press, 2006), and The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange and Downright Bizarre (Citadel, 2007). Scheduled nonfiction books include Zombie CSU: The Forensics of the Living Dead (September 2008); They Bite! (2009) and Vampire Hunters and Other Enemies of Evil (2010).
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCryptopedia

Jonathan recently made a major three-book deal with St. Martins Press for a news series of bio-terrorism thrillers. The first in that series, Patient Zero, will debut in early 2009.

Jonathan is the Executive Director of The Career Doctor for Writers, which provides workshops, classes and editorial services for writers of all genres. He tours libraries and independent bookstores giving his Careers in Writing lecture to packed houses. Jonathan is a speaker for the National Writers Union, and an active member of SFWA, MWA, and HWA. Jonathan is a founding partner of The Writers Corner USA at 4 West Oakland Avenue, Doylestown, PA 18901, a writers’ education center. Jonathan is also the co-founder of The Wild River Review, an online literary magazine.

Jonathan is a frequent writers conference speaker and has appeared at PennWriters, PhilCon, HorrorFind, BackSpace, Monster Mania, Philadelphia Writers Conference, The World Horror Convention, the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Conference, LunaCon, University of Pennsylvania Writers Conference, and many others and in 2008 he will be the keynote speaker at the Write Stuff writers conference in Allentown, PA.

Visit him at MySpace or at his author website.

Monday, October 29, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Daryl Gregory

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDaryl Gregory

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
The level of my coffee addiction is a bit frightening. I hope I never have to quit, because I do most of my writing in coffee shops, and I'm no longer sure I can finish a paragraph without a cup of joe.


4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
In undergrad I was an English/theatre double major and worked my way through a lot of the canon, but it didn't take. My super power, shared by many guys my age, is to instantly relate any real-life situation to a Simpson's episode, Saturday Night Live sketch, or comic book issue.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's ridiculous how many of those I've eaten.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I'm all over the map musically, but I particularly respond to those musicians whose lyrics are cryptic, clever, and densely packed -- Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Talking Heads, Radiohead, etc. Sometimes a song will jumpstart a story idea, or set the mood. One of my stories in F&SF was named after an REM song, and another F&SF story was written while listening repeatedly to Johnny Cash's rendition of "Your Own Personal Jesus."

For novels, I usually have a soundtrack in my head as I write, and sometimes the music becomes explicitly part of the story. The protagonist of my first novel,
Pandemonium, falls in love with mash-ups, not only because I love them, but because the novel itself a kind of literary mash-up of my favorite genres, from Lovecraft to superhero comics. Oh, and there's also a lot of Sinead O'Connor in there. The book I'm working on now takes Bowie's "Hunky Dory" album for theme, and a couple of Steve Earle's albums for mood and setting.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
When I first started writing stories, I wanted to write them in the same way that I read them -- one page at a time, with a surprise waiting around each corner. What I discovered was that most of the time the surprise was a brick wall.

I learned that I couldn't begin a story until I could see its ending, and I had to use whatever craft I possessed to make the ending come off. I had to put that rabbit in the box ahead of time, tuck the cards into my sleeves, and generally rig the game. I still get surprised during the drafting process, but it usually isn't about the bones of the plot -- most of the surprises come at the sentence level.


13. Celebrity crush.
Let me just say that my wife and I have an understanding about Wynona Ryder.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Daryl Gregory's short stories have appeared in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, Asimov's, several year's-best anthologies, and other fine venues. In 2005 he received the Asimov's Readers' Award for the novelette "Second Person, Present Tense." He attended Clarion East in the dark ages. These days he lives with his wife and two children in State College, Pennsylvania, where he writes both fiction and web code. His first novel, Pandemonium, will be appearing from Del Rey Books in the fall of 2008. Daryl is on the web at the cleverly named darylgregory.com

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - WEEK 35

HEIDI'S PICK SIX is back this week with:

Monday - Daryl Gregory - Fantasy and Science Fiction

Wednesday - Jonathan Maberry - Horror

Friday - Geoffrey Girard - Horror


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Friday, October 12, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - K. Ceres Wright

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketK. Ceres Wright

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Thia Wayan. She's a government agent who kicks butt and takes no prisoners. She says what's on her mind, and has an intensity that borders on mania.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I was born in Alaska, moved to Chi-Town when I was 1, then onto Germany for preschool through first grade (and my mother dragged me to every castle in Germany, France, and Italy [or so it seemed]). Then we moved to Baltimore, Maryland, for second and third grade, then to Korea for fourth and half of fifth grade. When I got married, I moved to the DC metropolitan area and have been there ever since. I've also traveled to Montreal and several states (U.S. and mental).


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Tea, if I had to choose. I love Tazo Chai.


4. What else can you do besides write?
I can instill fear and guilt in my children faster than a speeding bullet. And surf the Web (is that a skill?)


5. Who are you reading right now?
Robert Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. I think the Earth is even more harsh, but that's another story.


6. Pop culture or academia?
Both. One of my guilty pleasures is reading the tabloids at the supermarket checkout.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
When my protagonist's father was in a coma and she was reminiscing about the arguments her parents had had.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Current events, technology news, and my warped subconscious.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
Cheese. I love cheese, but it's quite fattening. I've had to settle for low-fat mozzarella cheese sticks.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I used to play tennis, but not anymore. I go to the gym, but only because I have to.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I like the heavy-hitting beats of hip hop, and the serenity of baroque.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Both. I have to outline, or I'll end up in a confused mess, but I let my imagination drive each scene.


13. Celebrity crush.
Hm, I'll base it on recently seen movies, so Chris Tucker (Rush Hour 3) and Ryan Reynolds (Smokin' Aces).


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
William Gibson, K. W. Jeter, and Richard Morgan.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Of course! I have kids. My favorite is Courage the Cowardly Dog, but I'm often pressed into watching Naruto (which I call Depresso, because someone dies in almost every episode), Avatar, Camp Lazlo, Fairly Odd Parents, and Jimmy Neutron.



K. Ceres Wright is a technical writer and editor who writes science fiction when she can pull spare minutes from the space-time continuum. Her poem Doomed is an editor's choice in the current issue of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association. She holds a degree in finance and economics from the University of Maryland, College Park and a Master's in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Ceres lives in Crofton, Maryland, with her husband, Greg, and her children, Ian and Chloe. You can read her interview series called Subject Matter Expert on her Live Journal.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Seton Hill Horror Writers Update

#1: Mary SanGiovanni will be chatting live on October 28 at The Writers Chatroom 7-9 PM EST. She'll be discussing her new novel The Hollower.

#2: The film adaptation of Michael Arnzen's poem "The Scab" won Jim Minton the 2007 Tabloid Witch Award for Best Animated Short Film. Part of the film Exquisite Corpse, "The Scab" was originally published in the book Freakcidents.

#3: Jason Ridler interviews Gary Braunbeck at Fearzone about Gary's latest novel Mr. Hands.

#4: Raw Dog Screaming Press has some of my photos up from Context 20. You can check them out here.

#5: Guests for The It's Alive! 2007 Zombie Fest taking place October 27-28 at the Pittsburgh Expo Mart in Monroeville, PA, include Michael Arnzen, Gary Braunbeck, and Scott Johnson, all mentors in Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program.

#6: To find more books by Seton Hill Horror Writers, you can check out my Amazon Listmania List.


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Wednesday, October 10, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Amy Grech

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAmy Grech

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
All of the above! I drink lots of iced coffee in the summer—I’m addicted to Dunkin’ Doughnuts’ French Vanilla! Now that the days are cooler in NYC, I’ve switched to hot coffee. When I’ve had too much coffee, I’ll drink Earl Grey Tea. Sometimes I’ll have cookies and milk—the best comfort food there is!


4. What else can you do besides write?
I can drink from a can of soda without a straw while walking without spilling a drop! I also design killer Web sites, like the Unofficial Web site for James Gandolfini. During the day I’m an Online Editor for an eyecare industry Web site.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Definitely the murder scene in my story, “Apple of My Eye” that appears in my collection by the same name; the scene is violent and visceral…I still shiver when I read it.


8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
New York City is full of colorful characters; I take the subway to and from work 5 days a week, so I do a lot of people watching and I always carry a little notebook with me. When I see someone who would fit one of my stories, or who inspires me to write something new, I’ll make some notes.

My writing is very cathartic—a lot of the characters in my stories are based on men I’ve dated, who for one reason or another didn’t live up to my standards. Writing about a guy I’ve been involved with is my way of getting over him quickly and painlessly!


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
My tastes are eclectic--I listen to alternative and contemporary music to get into “the zone,” that magical place where noting else matters but my characters and whatever story I happen to be working on. I listen to different music every day. I like Tori Amos, Andrew Bird, KT Tunstall, David Grey, U2, Peter Gabriel, and Anna Nalick, to name a few.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I never outline; sometimes I’ll start with a title, the way I did for “Dead Eye,” a young boy learns the perils of hunting fair game firsthand. It turns out the phrase is slang for expert marksman, so it fit perfectly.

Or I’ll start with some dialogue and let my characters reveal themselves to me as I write—I’ve learned it’s better to let them have free reign, no matter how nasty they are…I wouldn’t want to meet any of my characters on the street—there’s no telling what kind of mayhem would ensue!


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
I’m a relic—I still don’t have cable—with my rabbit ears, I can watch The Simpsons! When I visit friends, we’ll watch SpongeBob — he’s my hero!


Amy Grech has sold over one hundred stories and three poems to various anthologies and magazines including: Apex Digest, Bare Bone, City Slab Magazine, Flashshot: Year One, Funeral Party 2, Inhuman Magazine, Red Scream Magazine, Shadow Writers - Volume 2, Spider Words, The Book of Dark Wisdom, The Horror Express, The MagusZine, Space & Time, The Blackest Death Volume III, The Three-Lobed Burning Eye Annual Vol. III, and many others. She also has a novel, The Art of Deception, a chapbook Cold Comfort, and her recently published collection, Apple of My Eye.

She is an Active Member of the Horror Writers Association who lives in Brooklyn. Amy Grech is also a talented Copywriter/Search Engine Optimization Specialist. Visit her website www.crimsonscreams.com for a good fright.

Monday, October 08, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Win Scott Eckert

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWin Scott Eckert

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee. Definitely coffee. I never used to be much of a coffee drinker until I met my wife. Now the morning drip is an absolute necessity. Preferably intravenous. Thanks Lisa.

There’s nothing like a mug of thick chicory Café Du Monde.

I take that back.

There’s nothing like drinking a mug of thick chicory coffee and munching on beignets on the patio of the Café Du Monde shop in the French Quarter at 10 o’clock in the evening.

I live in Denver, so I don’t get to do that too often.


4. What else can you do besides write?
Juggle, read, sing, and lay in the sun. I’m quite effective at the latter. I used to play the violin. I have a law degree and a license to practice. I’m not currently practicing law, but I am using my legal background in my current job in the corporate world.


5. Who are you reading right now?
Escape from Loki: Doc Savage’s First Adventure by Philip José Farmer.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Many different kinds, except Country. ’80s New Wave. Echo & The Bunnymen, Hoodoo Gurus, Joy Division, Depeche Mode, The Police, The Cure, The Clash, The B-52s, too many others to name. Some ’60s like The Beatles, The Doors, and The Kinks. More recent favorite bands are The Dandy Warhols, Lush, The Killers, Franz Ferdinand. Yeah, I like Coldplay too. Then the crooners. Harry Connick, Sinatra, Tony Bennett, and so on. Jazz: Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, you get the idea. Classical, I listen to the usual, Mozart, Bach, Beethoven, but I also love Holtz, Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky, Pachelbel, and Brahms.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
Outline. I write the full outline, map out all the characters and the plot, and then actually write over it, adding in the detail and dialogue, and erasing the bits of completed outline as I go. This also allows me to jump around. I tend to write the story beginning to end, but if I get stuck I jump to another scene or even the end and write that first. By the time I’m done with a different scene, it’s usually clear how to resolve the other scene on which I was stuck.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
You can probably tell from my bio that Philip José Farmer and his works are the largest influence upon me. I might not be writing now if it weren’t for my fascination with his Wold Newton biographies, genealogies, and stories. His writing has so many layers. They’re like puzzles. Every time I reread something by Farmer, I always find something new and intriguing, clues pointing to something else, some new hint to pursue and analyze.

Despite my fascination with Farmer’s work, I do read a lot of other stuff. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sax Rohmer, H. Rider Haggard, Raymond Chandler, Ian Fleming, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Dashiell Hammet, Jules Verne, Lester Dent, Walter Gibson, H.G. Wells, John D. MacDonald, Robert E. Howard.

Hmm, all the stuff that influenced Phil. What a surprise.

Kim Newman and Alan Moore. Howard Waldrop, Joe Lansdale. Tim Powers and James P. Blaylock are favorites.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Win Scott Eckert holds a B.A. in Anthropology and a Juris Doctorate. In 1997, he posted the first site on the Internet devoted to expanding Philip José Farmer's concept of the Wold Newton Family, The Wold Newton Universe. He has recently served as an expert consultant on crossovers involving characters from pulp fiction and Victorian literature for a lawsuit concerning a major motion picture.

Win is the editor of and contributor to Myths for the Modern Age: Philip José Farmer's Wold Newton Universe (MonkeyBrain Books, 2005), a 2007 Locus Awards finalist.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMyths for the Modern Age

He has written pulp tales for a yearly anthology of Wold-Newtonish stories, Tales of the Shadowmen volumes 1-4 (Black Coat Press, 2005-2008), mostly centered on the adventures of Doc Ardan, a French version of Doc Savage. He has also written stories for Lance Star-Sky Ranger (Wild Cat Books, 2006) and the upcoming Captain Midnight: Declassified (Moonstone Books, 2008). He is a regular contributor of Wold Newton essays and stories to Farmerphile: The Magazine of Philip José Farmer, and he was honored to contribute the Foreword to the new 2006 edition of Philip José Farmer's seminal "fictional biography," Tarzan Alive: A Definitive Biography of Lord Greystoke (Bison Books, 2006). Win's latest book is Crossovers: A Secret Chronology of the World, coming in 2009 from MonkeyBrain Books. He is also working on a novel.

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - WEEK 34

This week on HEIDI'S PICK SIX I interview:

Monday - Win Scott Eckert / Editor and Science Fiction Writer

Wednesday - Amy Grech / Horror

Friday - K. Ceres Wright / Science Fiction and Technical Writer and Editor


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Friday, October 05, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - CJ West

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCJ West

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I enjoyed writing Randy Black's character so much that I'm bringing him back in my next book. He has everything. He's smart, sexy and gifted with weapons and machines. On top of that, he transformed himself in Sin and Vengeance into someone who could say anything and do anything at any time. It's very liberating to write a character who allows you to explore things you'd never do in life.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
When I was younger, my dad thought it was important to teach my brother and me to survive. With enough bullets and a few tools, I think I'd be ok in the woods for a month or so, smelly, but well fed. Learning to sustain myself gave me an awareness of the world around me that I think most people are robbed of today. I'm not squeamish, so I can analyze things in my work that might make others rush off to find some porcelain. I think the experience also brings a dose of reality to action scenes that I write.


5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
The first Chapter of Sin and Vengeance was very difficult to write. I had to hire actors and play out that scene dozens of times before I got it right. (My readers are laughing here.) Honestly, I needed an intense scene that tied together Taking Stock with Sin and Vengeance and it pushed the limits of what I was comfortable writing. The scene is pivotal to Sin and Vengeance and I think it really made the book. It is also the most commented on when I visit book groups. For the curious (adults only please), it is available at my website - www.22wb.com.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTaking Stock

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
The world is chock full of inspiration. Every street corner and waiting room is filled with actors just waiting for the stage to be erected beneath them. Since I began writing, I analyze the world around me and twist it, always looking for interesting nuggets.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I always outline. I spend months developing scenes on 3x5 cards, which I arrange on two large corkboards. I create characters and arrange and re-arrange the scenes until I'm satisfied with the feel of the story. Then I transfer the scenes to a few computer-based tools I've developed and begin writing.

My typical outline covers much of the novel, but there are always great ideas that arise from drafting.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
W. Sommerset Maugham wrote a collection of short stories about his travels in the Far East and Europe. I was struck by the variety of characters he depicted and felt that he was bringing me a part of the world that I might not see otherwise. I try to do the same by weaving the topics I research into my finished work.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

CJ was raised in a tiny town in Massachusetts where his family has lived for three generations. When CJ was a boy, the family had a variety of animals and boasted a poultry incubator large enough to hatch a chick for every resident of the town – all at one time. Although it was never a professional enterprise, the family continued to raise animals for many years and CJ developed a love for the outdoors and wildlife. He supports a number of environmental causes today.

CJ wrote his first book in 1979 while bored during school hours, but at that time writing was second to golf. CJ practiced hard daily and eventually entertained hopes of playing professionally. In 1985 he chose Southeastern Massachusetts University (now UMASS Dartmouth) over golf and studied Business Management which advanced his career in computer technology.

Twenty years after that first book, CJ plunged back into writing. After six years studying other authors and working at his craft, CJ released Sin and Vengeance in 2005. He currently lives in suburban Massachusetts with his wife and two children.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

More Context 20 Photos

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJason and Heidi Miller

I realized I never mentioned the panels I moderated and the people who were on them.

The Academics of Popular Fiction had Michael Arnzen, Jason Jack Miller, Karen Nagle, and Joseph Martino discussing what the industry and academia mean by the term 'popular fiction' and how (or if) it differs from literature.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Arnzen and Jason Schmetzer

Mike Resnick, Timons Esaias, and Jason Jack Miller shared stories of travel in How Traveling and Travel Writing Affect Our Fiction.

Also, hello to sister poets stillnotbored and Catherine A. Callaghan. After the poetry reading I bought Cathy's book Other Worlds: Poems on Prints by M. C. Escher.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketCatherine Callaghan

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJason Schmetzer and Al Wendland

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Arnzen and Gary Braunbeck

Not only did Chun not call ahead, but he wasn't allowed to curse about it when he got there.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChun Lee

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHeidi Ruby Miller and Donna Munro

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFerrett Steinmetz

The Jasons thought they could share business cards, even though they have different last names and phone numbers.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJason Jack Miller and Jason Schmetzer

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketDiana Dru Botsford and Chun Lee

In our swag bag was a teaser for Matt Cook's new novel Blood Magic.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMatthew Cook

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Arnzen and Fran Friel

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketChun Lee


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Wednesday, October 03, 2007

HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Bruce Hale

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBruce Hale

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
It's Chet Gecko, hands down. His smart-aleck, film-noirish voice comes naturally to me, and I love his outlook on life. (Even if I do have a much higher opinion of "dames" than he does.) His latest adventure is in Hiss Me Deadly
.

2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
I'm a pretty decent jazz singer, a half-assed guitarist, a cartoonist, an actor, and a terror on the dance floor.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
Pop culture every time. I find much to love there (in amongst the crass and lowbrow stuff). Academia is too cerebral, not visceral enough for me -- puts me to sleep every time. Where's the juice? It's in pop culture.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
Sushi. Chocolate chip cookies. Thai curry. Salad. Fish tacos. (But not all at the same meal.)


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
When writing a mystery, I find I must outline it first. I tried Stephen King's method of "putting two characters in a room and letting them talk," but the plot got away from me. I need a basic outline, but I always leave a chunk of it unfinished, usually in the last third of the story. That way, I get to discover something as I write.


13. Celebrity crush.
Rachel Weisz. She's my girlfriend and doesn't know it. What can I say? She's gorgeous, smart, funny, and has the sexiest voice. (My former girlfriends include Minnie Driver and Emma Thompson.)


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Raised by wolves just outside Los Angeles, Bruce Hale began his career as a writer while living in Tokyo, and continued it when he moved to Hawaii in 1983. Before entering the world of children's books, he worked as a magazine editor, surveyor, corporate lackey, gardener, actor, and deejay.

Bruce has written and illustrated nearly 20 books for kids. His Chet Gecko Mysteries series includes: The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse, The Big Nap, Farewell, My Lunchbag, The Malted Falcon and others.

You could say Bruce has a thing for lizards. He also has created five Hawaii children's books, including Legend of the Laughing Gecko, Moki and the Magic Surfboard, and Moki the Gecko's Best Christmas Ever -- all starring Moki the Gecko. (By the way, Moki the Gecko and Chet are second cousins.)

When not writing and illustrating, Bruce loves to perform. He has appeared on stage, on television, and in an independent movie called The Ride, where he plays a surfer's agent. Bruce is a popular speaker and storyteller for audiences of all ages. In 1998, he won a Fulbright Grant to teach storytelling and study folklore in Thailand. (No, he doesn't speak much Thai, but he loves Thai food.)

He has taught writing workshops at colleges and universities, and spoken at national conferences of writing, publishing, and literacy organizations. On top of that, Bruce has visited elementary schools across the country, from Hawaii, to Kansas, to Pennsylvania. (You’d never guess he loves to travel.) In January 2007 he was the guest author at Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction Graduate Program.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketBruce Hale at Seton Hill University

You can sign up for his newsletter at Bruce Talks.

These days, Bruce lives in Santa Barbara with his wife, Janette. When he's not at the computer or drawing board, you'll find him hiking the hills, bicycling, or riding the waves (when it's warm enough, that is). He also likes going to movies and playing jazz music.

One of these days, when it's all right with the lizards, Bruce is going to get a dog.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Context 20 Recap

As usual, Context was full of wonderful experiences and more importantly, wonderful people.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketContext 20 in Columbus, OH

Below you can see who was there, view lots of photos, and learn about each of these convention moments:
1. Raffling off dragons, pirates, and wookies
2. "You're the gloom cookie I was looking for!"
3. Installing LINUX on a Dead Badger
4. Driving a Sick Elephant - Braunbeck interviews Arnzen
5. Naked women on the ceiling
6. "By the way, your dog is going to die, too."

The Seton Hill contingency was out in full force with Horror Guest of Honor Michael Arnzen, Albert Wendland, Jason Jack Miller, Timons Esaias, Chun Lee, Anne Harris, Donna Munro, Jason Schmetzer, Tobias Buckell, Tim Waggoner, Diana Botsford, Gary Braunbeck, Mike Brendan, and me.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Brendan, Chun Lee, Diana Botsford, and Al Wendland

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJason Jack Miller and Donna Munro

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketTim Esaias, Jason Jack Miller, Jason Schmetzer, and Mike Arnzen

I saw old friends like Liz Coley, Mike Resnick, Lucy Snyder, Paul Melko, Shawn Sines, Dave Creek, David Wyatt, and Dan Young.

Met some LJ friends IRL - Rae Dawn Carson, Jim Hines, Nayad Monroe, Matt Betts, and Steve Nagy.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketSteve Nagy and Rae Dawn Carson

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketJim Hines

Made some new friends in Ferrett Steinmetz, D. Harlan Wilson, Matt Cook, Tim Powers, Jason Sizemore, John Dalmas, James Daniel Ross, Fran Friel, and Travis.

And somehow never managed to run into Sandy Lender, Sue Kehner, and Geoffrey Girard (though it should be noted that Geoffrey and I did make eye contact several times and exchanged that "I think I know you" look.)

1. Raffling off dragons, pirates, and wookies
I donated a copy of Sails and Sorcery:Tales of Nautical Fantasy signed by me and Chun Lee for the First Book charity raffle. Other guests donated items, including a dragon by artist Laura Reynolds, a Star Wars grouping, A Star Trek grouping, and an anime grouping. Alas, I didn't win anything, but the money is going to a good cause.

2. "You're the gloom cookie I was looking for!"
During the Science Fiction in Comics panel, Ferrett Steinmetz yelled this at a girl in the audience. I laughed so hard I almost pushed flaggerx out of his chair. By the way, Ferrett, I snatched one of your Home on the Strange comics out of the elevator. Next time I see you, I want you to sign it.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketD. Harlan Wilson, Chun Lee, Ferrett Steinmetz, and Matt Cook

I headed to Mike Resnick's reading next. Completely captivating. I love to hear authors read their own work. I wish I had had more time to hit more of them during this convention.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Resnick

Other wonderful readings I attended throughout the weekend were from:
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFran Friel

and

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMike Arnzen

3. Installing LINUX on a Dead Badger
Now that's a title! And it's the title of Lucy Snyder's latest collection from Creative Guy Publishing, who threw the first party at the convention.

Then later I was able to read poetry with the LINUX installer herself.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketHeidi Ruby Miller and Lucy Snyder

4. Driving the Sick Elephant - Braunbeck interviews Arnzen
As part of Gary's intervew with Mike, the audience listened to Driving the Sick Elephant, a track Mike's latest CD Audiovile. My personal favorite is Dreamachinery (with guest musician Jason Jack Miller). Also, we watched a movie by each of the horror guys; Mike's Exquisite Corpse and Gary's One of those Faces.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMichael Arnzen

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketGary Braunbeck


5. Naked women on the ceiling
APEX Publications held a great party Saturday night complete with DJ and pictures projected onto the ceiling. Too bad I didn't have my camera there. I spent a great deal of time talking with Tim Waggoner, but there is absolutely no photographic evidence to prove it.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketAPEX table at Context

6. "By the way, your dog is going to die, too."
What Geoffrey Girard is planning to tell his students today after the How to Kill Off a Character panel. You may have had to be there to appreciate this.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMatt Cook, Chun Lee, Jim Hines, Geoffrey Girard, and Steve Nagy

Nothing quite so graphic went on at the Types of Writing panel, but it was one of the most informative for me nevertheless.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFran Friel, Anne Harris, Diana Dru Botsford, and Timons Esaias

Here are some of other people's thoughts on Context 20:
Anne Harris at Mangaloid

Jason Schmetzer at Sometimes the only way you can survive...

Shawn Sines at The Hazardous Precept

Jim Hines at Jim C. Hines

Rae Dawn Carson at Rae's Place


Matt Betts at Matt Betts tries to explain himself
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HEIDI'S PICK SIX - Week 33

This week on HEIDI'S PICK SIX, I'm interviewing:

WEDNESDAY - Bruce Hale / Middle Grade and Young Adult Mystery

FRIDAY - CJ West / Thriller


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