Thursday, February 24, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Rodney Robbins

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Rodney Robbins

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
I really like Kiki MacConnach from my short story "Kiki--Naked in the Moonlight." Imagine Audrey Hepburn playing an elf princess in a studded leather mini-skirt, and you’ll see my Kiki. She never goes looking for trouble, but somehow it always finds her. That’s what happens when you’re the favorite plaything of the Unseelie Lord, and the court is ruled by the Unseelie Queen. I keep calling for a novel to put her in, but so far, no luck.


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
I would probably enjoy teaching a college writing class. I’d have everyone go out for a drink at a burlesque club then write about what happened. My problem with academia is that I don’t want to keep score by how many esoteric papers I write. I want to keep score by how many people read my books. I don’t need to be Richard Castle (the fictional mystery writer from the "Castle" TV show), I just want an audience. I have found the Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University provides the best combination of academic and real world education. As far as I can tell, no one else is even close.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Often a story idea comes when two completely different ideas bump into each other during the night. For example: zombies brushing their teeth; a deaf mechanic who builds high-end car audio systems; waves crashing over a brand new, migraine-blue Corvette. Who could resist stuff like that?


9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I tried powerlifting twice. I won my weight and age class both times, but honestly, that’s because nobody else as old and fat as me showed up. So now, even though I have a weird muscle disorder called Periodic Paralysis, I can honestly say I’m a powerlifting champion. It’s not my fault all the bigger, stronger, healthier gym rats were too chicken to compete.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
First you dream it up, then you write it down. That’s how I work. When I sit down to write, I want to get something done. I really like the feeling of accomplishment I get from writing one scene at a time. Kiki, in chains, gets interrogated by the Unseelie Queen. Boom. Done. Love it.


13. Celebrity crush.
My celebrity crush is '80s German figure skater Katarina Witt. She’s smart, sexy, strong and almost as good looking as my wife, Karen.


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

Rodney Robbins by the Numbers--50 year-old graduate student at Seton Hill University. Author of 2 stage plays: 1 musical comedy called "Big Feet, Big Love," and 1 dramatic comedy titled "House of Many Rooms." Currently working on his 1st "Nurse Brandt" paranormal mystery for middle school readers. Robbins crashed his first motorcycle at age 20. Currently rides a 650 maxi-scooter. Plans to buy an 1800cc Honda Goldwing, "--but not until they bring it out with an automatic transmission." Married for 30 years to a teacher who looks like a super-model. Rodney Robbins lives with 3 chronic illnesses (Classic Migraines with Auras, Celiac Disease and Periodic Paralysis), but he doesn’t let them stop him from living the good life in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Read about Rodney's novels here: www.RodneyRobbins.com and read about his plays here: www.MyNewPlay.com.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: M. Stephen Lukac

HEIDI’S PICK SIX

M. Stephen Lukac
M. Stephen Lukac

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Philip Ducalion, the ex-cop from Oogie Boogie Central & Oogie Boogie Bounce (and the hopefully soon-to-come solo adventure - Legerdemain). He's the closest thing to an I-Guy in my repertoire.


2. Tell me about your travels.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee, coffee, COFFEE!!!!!!


4. What else can you do besides write?
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?

9. Food you could eat everyday.
The edible kind.


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'm just a hitchhiker taking notes, although I do tend to outline in my head before jumping in the shotgun seat.


13. Celebrity crush.
It used to be Teri Hatcher but now I find myself mesmerized by Kate Winslet.


14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Not the current stuff, but if I hear the opening bars of "Merry Go-Round Broke Down," I'm in front of the TV drooling like Pavlov's puppy.


M. Stephen Lukac is a married father of three, a professional bookseller and a still-aspiring writer. Oogie Boogie Central was released in 2003, followed by But Then Again, You'll Have This... later that year. In February 2008, Delirium Books released the long-awaited sequel Oogie Boogie Bounce. Steve's also a bit of a smart ass, which will come as no surprise to regular readers.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Workshop: Writing with Authority - How Does It Work?

Workshops

Pennwriters Logo


I've had some recent questions about how our Pennwriters Online course will be conducted. See if this helps to explain it a bit better:

1. When you sign up for the class, you'll receive access to a Yahoo group. Follow this link to an example of one: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

2. Once you sign up and are invited (by the Pennwriters moderator) to our Yahoo group, you'll be able to see an area for MESSAGES and FILES.

3. On Friday, April 1, 2011, we'll post a welcome and introduction in the MESSAGES. This will include details on how to select your writing project (novel beginning, short story, article) for the course.

4. Every Sunday, you can email your revised project (revised based on information from the new lesson) to heidirubymiller@gmail.com so we know you're on the right track and to see if there's any individualized help we can offer. If you can't get your assignments to us right away, no problem. This is at your pace over the five weeks.

5. Every Monday, we'll post a little lesson in the MESSAGES section. You don't have to be online when we post it, check it at your convenience that day or any time before the next one goes up.

6. After completing the evaluation at the end of the course, you'll receive the free pdf articles from the MANY GENRES writing guide and any other pertinent information, so you can download those to your computer and keep them.

7. You can also post messages for us in the MESSAGES section any time during the course or just email me directly.

8. The last day of class is Monday, May 2, 2011.


WRITING WITH AUTHORITY
Online Course

INSTRUCTORS: Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller

DATE: April 1 – May 2, 2011

LIMITED CLASS SIZE. Enroll now.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The easiest way to engage your reader is by using concrete nouns and action verbs. In this one-month online course, Seton Hill University creative writing faculty Jason Jack Miller and Heidi Ruby Miller will show you how to analyze your writing and use easy techniques that will increase the authority of your voice.

Participants will:
* Discover how to spot passive voice
* Scrutinize their writing for generic nouns and indefinite pronouns
* Learn to avoid weak verbs and overuse of “be” in all its forms
* Practice using strong synonyms to find the best action verb
* Apply word cloud research to make their plot come alive

FREE BONUS: Course participants will receive a free excerpt (.pdf) from the new writing guide, MANY GENRES, ONE CRAFT: LESSONS IN WRITING POPULAR FICTION (Headline Books, Inc.) edited by Heidi Ruby Miller and Michael A. Arnzen with contributions from Jason Jack Miller et al.

TUITION: $79 ($89 non-Pennwriters members) $89 ($99 non-Pennwriters members)
EARLY-BIRD PRICES END SOON!

ABOUT THE INSTRUCTORS: Heidi Ruby Miller is the co-editor of the writing guide, Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction. A graduate from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction Program, she has authored dozens of publications. Before becoming a full-time writer and adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University, Heidi worked as a contract archaeologist, an educational marketing coordinator, a foreign currency exchanger, and a world language teacher. To learn more about Heidi Ruby Miller, visit http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com or email her at heidirubymiller@gmail.com.

Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician whose work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, magazines and literary journals, and as a smart phone travel app. He has co-authored a travel guide with his wife Heidi and served as a photographer-in-residence. Jason is an Authors Guild member who received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University where he is adjunct creative writing faculty. To learn more about Jason Jack Miller, visit http://jasonjackmiller.blogspot.com or email him at jasonjackmiller@gmail.com.

* Subscribe to the Pennwriters Online Courses announcement list for email on our latest workshops:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/PennwritersOnlineCourses

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Books: Caesar's Children: A Tale of Pluritopia by Christopher Paul Carey

Books
Christopher Paul Carey's novelette Caesar's Children: A Tale of Pluritopia is now available at the Amazon Kindle store.

Here's a synopsis:

What if there were a world where all the utopias from nineteenth-century literature coexisted? And what if the nations of that world were divided into two types of utopias—the Aspirants, who seek the create the best of all possible worlds for themselves, and the Gildeds, who also seek the perfect world but long to force their own ideals on the other utopias?

On the Pluritopia World, the citizens glide through the heavens in the bellies of fish-shaped airships and learn about the exotic goings-on of the sundry utopias by means of aether-powered telephonoscopes. But when a mysterious woman from the Earth’s center appears suddenly in the tranquil Pacific Northwest paradise of France-Ville, the ideal world finds itself on the brink of the unimaginable—a great conflagration that threatens to scorch the Pluritopia World to cinders.

This novelette first appeared in the anthology Tales of the Shadowmen: Grand Guignol.

Friday, February 04, 2011

News: Open Call for Virtual Book Tour Stops

News

To celebrate the release of the new writing guide Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, we are scouting for stops in our three-month mega virtual book tour (VBT) during April, May, and June.

Do you…
…have an author interview series? We have contributors ready to be interviewed.
…review books on your site? We can offer you pdf copies of our book for review.
…provide contests and giveaways? We have swag to give away.
…do something special? We can provide that special something.


All VBT participants will be listed with a link and description on a VBT page on the Many Genres, One Craft site: manygenres.blogspot.com as well as announced and promoted during the day/s of your stop.

Contact me at heidirubymiller@gmail.com for further inquiries and to schedule your stop today. I will also be glad to interview you for my two author series: HEIDI'S PICK SIX and PATHS TO PUBLICATION as a thank you!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Vincent Zandri

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Vincent Zandri

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
Richard “Dick” Moonlight, of my Moonlight series (Moonlight Falls). He survived his own suicide attempt, and now, with a piece of .22 caliber hollow-point lodged up against his cerebral cortex, he often has trouble making the correct decisions and on occasion he loses his memory. But more importantly, that little piece of bullet could shift and he could fall into stroke, coma, or just simply drop dead at any time. Now as a private detective, he often finds himself going after the absolute truth behind a case, even if it means breaking the law to find it. He’s also unlucky in love and a total train-wreck when it comes to relationships. The fruit in this case doesn’t fall far from the author’s tree.


2. Tell me about your travels.
I spend a good part of the year in Florence, Italy. Sometimes I’m there strictly as a fiction writer, but more often than not, I’ll be there on assignment for RT (Russia Today TV) or some other global publication I write for. I’ve been on assignment recently in Benin, West Africa, Moscow, Florence, and other places. In the past I’ve worked in Turkey, Spain, London, Paris, Athens, Beijing, Shanghai, and, well, I’m forgetting some of the places. I’m heading to Germany next month and driving back down into Italy. If I’m not traveling I feel fat and useless. Like a suburbanite couch potato. BTW: I never sit down to watch the television.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
You gotta ask? Coffee….Lot’s of it!


4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
Charlie Huston, the best noir writer in the world, and a series of noir novels taking place in pre-war Germany, by Phillip Kerr called Berlin Noir.


6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
Well, this isn’t fiction. But I wrote an article a couple of years ago called "Breakdown," which got syndicated pretty widely. It’s about my oldest son’s battle with severe and recurring depression. He’d had a couple of back to back nervous breakdowns, and describing carrying him from the garage floor where he’d collapsed from nervous exhaustion to a couch in the living room of my home was almost more than I could bear. But for my own sanity, I had to write about it.


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?
Old punk rock, The Beatles, Ralph Vaughan Williams, The Clash, XTC, Johnny Cash, Social Distortion, The Blisterz…Ok, I’m cheating. I play drums for The Blisterz.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?

13. Celebrity crush.
Heidi Ruby Miller ;)


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

Vincent Zandri is the author of the bestselling novels The Remains, The Innocent, Godchild, and Moonlight Falls.

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See a book trailer for The Innocent on YouTube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9lMLVA1ons

He is also a freelance photojournalist and travel writer. His official website is www.vincentzandri.com and he blogs at http://vincentzandri.blogspot.com.