Friday, May 27, 2022

The Fast Friday Interviews: Erica Rue

Erica Rue

Tell me about yourself?

I grew up in Virginia on a steady diet of sci-fi and fantasy. I always loved writing and I was (and still am) one of those people who collect notebooks and hate writing in them. I wrote plays in elementary school and emo poetry in middle school (who didn’t?). I kept writing through high school, lost the habit in college, and found it again in my mid-twenties. Finding my way back to writing has been one of the best things I’ve ever done. It literally keeps me sane. Last August I published The Predator Analysis, the fourth and final book of my debut series, The Kepos Chronicles. 
When I’m not writing, I plant new varieties of veggies in my garden, play video games, and read the same five books over and over to my kids. And sometimes, if I’m lucky, I get to go to the rock climbing gym.

Tell me about your current Book:

A narrow escape from an alien ship. A planet with a secret. Can she save the entire colony, or has she doomed them all to decimation?

Dione Quinn is a biology nerd, not a fighter, but when a school research trip goes wrong and the Venatorians attack their ship, she doesn’t have much of a choice.

In fact, she has even fewer choices when her best friend, Lithia Min, jumps them to a planet outside the Alliance-protected Bubble. They’ve escaped for now, but they are stranded where no one will find them, and one of her classmates has been injured in the attack. The only thing that can save her is on the uncatalogued planet Kepos.

As Dione discovers the truth about the planet and the lengths to which she must go to save her friends, Kepos presents a problem. One that will force Dione to decide: What is her future worth?

What are you working on now?

I’m planning to put out a series collection of all four books of The Kepos Chronicles later this year.
I’m also working on a new trilogy called The Atlantis Crown. It’s a YA dystopian/dystopian romance trilogy. Think “The Selection” by Kiera Cass meets “The Atlantis Grail” by Vera Nazarian. This new series is fun and relatively light, so it’s perfect for an escape. The first book, The Goddess Games (The Atlantis Crown Book 1) just went to the editor. I’m going to try a rapid release, so I’ll be waiting until I have at least two books ready to go before I start publishing the series.

What is something that people don’t generally know about you?

I was an athlete in high school. I played basketball, field hockey, and lacrosse, and while I wasn’t a superstar, I was pretty good. Even my own friends in high school didn’t know until I convinced them to watch one of my field hockey games. To quote my own father: “I didn’t think you could run that fast.” I think because I was also a nerd people assumed I was bad at sports.
And these might be fighting words, but my favorite Star Trek is Voyager. Janeway is the best captain, though Picard is a close second. Between Janeway and B’Elanna and Seven of Nine, I had a trio of worthy female role models growing up. 

What is a favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Define your own success and set goals. Is success finishing a novel or making six figures? I think it’s important to define one’s own personal idea of success instead of using someone else’s metric. My idea of success probably looks very different from another author’s. It doesn’t matter if you dream big or small because it’s your dream. Once you know what success looks like, so set goals that will help you achieve it. Reevaluate these goals at intervals. Nothing is set in stone. 

What is the best piece of writing advice you give to new authors?

Read and write. A lot. Those are the two things that have made me a better author. When I read something I enjoy, I ask myself why I liked it. Was it the writing style? The characters? The plot? By identifying what specifically made me like a book, I can use that element in my own writing. When I listen to a song, I mostly hear the lyrics and melody. When my audiophile husband listens to a song, he takes in the composition. He can tell you what instruments were used, the key, all sorts of stuff I barely notice, like the fact that apparently, the song Ocean Avenue by Yellowcard has an electric violin. I realized that he must analyze music the way I analyze stories. So that’s my advice. Study stories. Study tropes. Figure out why an element works in one story, but not another, then try it in your own writing.


Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Quotes of the Week

A writer always thinks the last version of his novel is best, until he reads it again...
--Martin Wilsey

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
—Stephen King

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.
—Stephen King

There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are. 
—W. Somerset Maugham

Maybe the hardest thing in writing is simply to tell the truth about things as we see them.
—John Steinbeck

Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn.
—Orson Welles

It's true that writing is a solitary occupation, but you would be surprised at how much companionship a group of imaginary #characters can offer once you get to know them.
—Anne Tyler

Novel writing, I soon discovered, is like channel swimming: a slow and steady stroke over a long distance in a cold, dark sea.
—Ann Patvhett

Don't loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don't get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.
—Jack London

The most essential gift for a good writer is a built-in shock-proof shit-detector—the writer's radar...all great writers have had it.
—Ernest Hemingway


Friday, May 13, 2022

The Fast Friday Interviews: Gregory Peterson

Gregory Peterson

Tell me about yourself, Greg?

I will put the things here that I didn’t put in my public bio. I’m a Navy brat, my dad was stationed at the El Toro Marine Air Base when I was born and we ended up settling down in that part of SoCal. I attended a Catholic school in Tustin, California, until high school which is why I’m no longer Catholic. I’ve been a voracious reader since I was a child: fantasy and science fiction being my first true loves. I was obsessed with the Lord of the Rings and was voted Most Likely to Read It 1,000 Times by my junior high class. I had decided by the time I was twelve to be a writer and by fourteen I was submitting my horrifying stories to Omni, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and several others who shall remain nameless. Oh yeah, those stories were horrifyingly bad. I spent the next decade collecting rejection slips and hiding them in a drawer. I never told anyone I was writing and submitting stories, I was too embarrassed.

I kept at it and when I was twenty-four years old I won a short story contest in the Orange County Register. After that, I decided to get off my ass, stop surfing and bartending, and go to college to study writing. I ended up a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley, with an English degree and a minor in Chinese studies.

I was hired out of college as an assistant at a Los Angeles magazine publisher, and after I had impressed my bosses with some unsolicited pieces, I was moved up to associate editor three months later. I also discovered I hated magazine writing. I ended up leaving after four years and moved to Portland, Oregon, where I met my wife of now fifteen years. After relocating to Houston, Texas, I experienced a series of catastrophic injuries that led to multiple surgeries (when you turn 40 your warranty expires, btw) and I didn’t write a word for the better part of 7 years as I spent my time recovering and being a stay-at-home dad to my kids. When the munchkins were old enough to be bored with me I committed myself to my dream of writing a novel and… here we are.

Tell me about your current Book:

Aloysius Leigh is a former elite Marine turned high-tech thief. In the aftermath of a heist gone sideways, the technology he was meant to steal invades his body - and leaves him holding the bag
for murder. While the explosive technology seizes control of his body. Leigh must also do battle in the real world as he is hunted by the Russian mob, the FBI, and his former counter-terrorist unit who would like nothing more than to get their hands on the dangerous machines swimming around inside of him and who definitely wouldn't care how. Leigh is alone and running out of time in a war where his very body and mind are the prize. He is outmanned and outgunned - with no friends, no allies, and nowhere to turn.

What he does have is a plan.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on the sequel to War Machines. I also have a separate urban fantasy novel outlined and sitting on the back burner ready to go, but I am hesitant to go after that one right now. The issues it deals with are profound to me and I’d like to grow a little more as a writer before I tackle it.

What is something that people don't generally know about you?

I have dysgraphia and all its attendant little buddies that travel along with it. If you don’t know, dysgraphia is a specific learning disability as well as a transcription disability. Simply put, it’s a deficiency in the ability to write, primarily handwriting but also coherence. It also overlaps with other neurological disabilities like ADHD and developmental coordination disorder (DCD). So basically, I’m genetically hardwired to not be able to write and to be an uncoordinated klutz. 
So I decided to become a writer, musician, and athlete. Fuck you, genetics.

What is a favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

My favorite lesson and best piece of writing advice go hand-in-hand. Finish it, and write your first draft like no one is looking (cause they’re not). 

I learned those from Neil Gaiman when he came to do a talk in Houston. I was stuck on the first act of my book and couldn’t move forward. He talked about those two subjects and it was like a giant kick in the ass. You can’t do anything if you don’t finish it. The second is more about learning to turn off that inner critic in your head that’s reading over your shoulder as you write. Those were transformative pieces of advice for me. I would hear Neil’s lilting British accent in my head every time I sat down to write, “Finish it.” Over and over I would hear him in my head while I wrote my way to the end.

I had Finish It carved into a piece of wood that hangs over my writing desk.



Thursday, May 12, 2022

RIP: Chris Schwartz

Schwartz, Bailey, and me.
On April 23rd I lost a dear friend. We simply called him Schwartz!

There are not many grown men, outside my immediate family, that I have told, "I love you, man." He was as close as my immediate family, he was family, the family I choose. 

Not many friends during my life have shared so many interests with me. Everything from computers, movies, coffee, building stuff, steak, shooting, reading, TV, the internet, hunting, camping, beer, bourbon, bacon and more...

He loved my cats, the books I wrote, and even my wife Brenda. He was so frequent a guest in our home he had his own bedroom. We'll probably always call it "Schwartz's Room."

I usually camped with Schwartz for about 20 nights every year. So many deep or absurd conversations on the entire spectrum of topics. Politics to history to movies. He had the best jokes. He was the king of photobombs. Whenever I wrote a new novel he was always the first to read it and was never shy about pointing out my mistakes with humor. 

He was there for me when my father died, when first one brother died, and then another. He always knew the right thing to say.

Schwartz was 10 years younger than me and I always expected he was going to be the one making people laugh at my funeral. Instead, your ashes rest on my mantle waiting for that last camping trip.

Rest in Peace, my friend, my Brother. 
You have the answer now to that mystery.

The Official Obit:

Christopher Nichols Schwartz, 53, of Silver Spring, Maryland, passed away unexpectedly on April 23, 2022.

Born February 21, 1969, in Washington, D.C., Christopher grew up in Germantown, Maryland. Prior to graduating from Seneca Valley High School in 1987, he completed the necessary requirements in the areas of leadership, service, and outdoor skills to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. 

Chris continued his education at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia, majoring in history. He was a member of the Corps of Cadets, Alpha Company, and Navy ROTC. He graduated in 1991. Commissioned as an ensign in the United States Navy, he served at Pensacola Naval Air Station until 1993. 

An informal apprenticeship with the head brewer of McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola taught Chris the craft and the business of brewing beer. He decided to turn one of his hobbies into a career. He soon became head brewer at Potomac River Brewing Company in Chantilly, Virginia, winning awards for Rappahannock Red Ale, a recipe he developed. 

In 1999, Chris transitioned to employment as an information technology engineer, eventually advancing to system administrator at Eagle Alliance in Annapolis Junction, Maryland. 

Aside from a dedication to excellence in his professional life, Chris had many varied personal interests. His love of history was reflected in his passion for woodworking, especially using non-powered hand tools and traditional techniques. A deep appreciation for skillful handcraft and shooting sports led Chris to gunsmithing. In 2003, Chris joined friends for the first time at The Pennsic War, an annual medieval camping event that he attended every year after. Never without a book, Chris’s home library was as extensive and diverse as his knowledge which he was happy to share and discuss over a cup of coffee with friends. In addition, Chris’s rich voice and uncanny ability to come up with humorous movie quotes for any situation made it a pleasure to be in his company. 

Preceded in death by his grandparents, Esley and Ruth Schwartz, Chris is survived by his father, Edward “Ned” Schwartz (Molly); his mother, Melinda Schwartz (Susan Russell); his brother Brett (Sally); Brett’s children, Ruth and Lilly; his former spouse and long-time friend Darcy Ramisch; and many friends who loved him like family. Chris will be deeply missed by all those who were touched by his kindness, quick wit, and sense of humor. A celebration of life will be scheduled at a later date. 

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