Monday, November 28, 2011

Reading and Writing

I devoted a lot of time over the Thanksgiving weekend to reading and writing. I was coming down with a cold, so I got really sluggish at times. So what did I read and what did I write?

I read Charles Shields's bio of Kurt Vonnegut. It's terrific, the kind of bio that keeps you turning pages because it's so damned well written. And Kurt Vonnegut was a strange bird. Shields doesn't pull any punches about what a screw-up Vonnegut was at times. Well worth the time to learn about a great writer who wasn't afraid to break new ground.

What else did I read? This answer is all about me. I blew cyberdust of a manuscript I wrote several years ago. It's a coming-of-age trilogy about a circle of women. The first book is about growing up in a Leave It To Beaver town in Northern California as the fifties transitioned into the sixties. The second is about getting out of that town, college at Berkeley during the turbulent sixties. And the final book follows the women into marriage, motherhood and careers. All fraught with personal conflict set against a time of major transition in our country's history.

I got through the first 200,200 words, or about the first two books. After several years of not looking at the manuscript, I was surprised at how well I told the story.

And therein lies the problem. The story is told. I now have to redo it completely and let the characters and action show the story. Writers will understand what I mean. A monumental task, but there is no deadline on it. Yet.

And yes, I did write as well. I began a first-person thriller about a serial killer. Lots of them on the market, but this will have a different presentation and therefore a different twist. I've invited about a dozen people to join a closed Facebook group to help shape the novel. Now, that should be an experience.

I'll keep you posted on progress on both stories.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Writing Inspiration

People ask me all the time where I find my inspiration, the ideas for my stories. Sometimes it's from my memories. Sometimes it's what my friends have done. Sometimes it's from the newspapers.

I've been following a local story for many months. A teenage boy shot and killed his best friend. Shot him in the back and twice in the back of the head. Tried to lie to the cops about not seeing his best friend the day he went missing. Long and short of the story, the police arrested the boy and charged him with capital murder. In Virginia, that's the death penalty.

This week, the case was resolved in court. The shooter pleaded guilty to murder and several other felonies. He was immediately sentenced to life in prison without parole plus 53 years.

Why did this particular story touch me? Maybe it was because I've worked with the father of the victim and understand his pain. Maybe it's because one act of violence ruined two families. The family of the victim can recover and heal. The family of the murderer can't. Both have lost a son forever.

This happens too often. We teach our children right from wrong, but still some get it wrong. They don't think. It ruins families, divides communities and leaves a child dead.

No, this is material I can't use. It's too close to my community. My heart goes out to both families. They've lost so much.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Blog Inerview with Jeremy Wagner, The Armeggedon Chord

I'm really pleased to post a blog interview with new writer and friend, Jeremy Wagner. I've reviewed his debut novel, The Armeggedon Chord, before. Now, it's time to hear from the author.

1. Some of the readers of this blog may not know your works. Would you like to introduce yourself?
Sure. I'm Jeremy Wagner, and I'm known worldwide in the death metal genre as the founding member/guitarist & lyricist for both the bands Broken Hope and the band, Lupara. In recent years, I've gained more of a following for my fiction. I'm a horror writer and novelist. My shorter works have appeared in magazines and anthologies, but I'm best known for my new novel: THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD.

2. Before we learn about your book, can you tell us the last two exciting places you visited? Why did you pick these destinations?
Easy! Australia and Ireland. I got married in Australia this past year (literally 11 months ago) and toured part of the country--it was a most amazing experience. This past summer we also toured Ireland and it was most memorable and beautiful.

3. Can you tell us a little about how you became a writer?
I started writing fiction in grade school--I estimate I started at 6 years old. I got into books very young and my interest in the macabre started at the same time. I was always drawn to monsters and scary things, so I read about these types of subjects and then I began writing my own scary stories. I grew as a reader and writer and just kept doing it throughout my life. I love being a novelist...I feel it's in my DNA to write.

4. Is The Armageddon Chord your first published book? Why did you select the theme?
It's my first published novel, but not my first published story. THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD just came to me--like an idea I get--out of the blue. It started as an idea and grew up into an entity that I had to write about and get out of my system. I didn't select the theme or have a preconceived story. The story, CHOSE ME. Haha. I love when that happens. *smiles*

5. Your characters are interesting, particularly the villains. Did you model them on anyone in real life? Or did you imagine them?
I'm really glad you dug the villians. I love my villians! I didn't model too many characters from real people other than Kirk Vaisto being infused with some similiar rock star traits and Festus Baustone III being built from tidbits taken from the many Rupert Murdoch's and Bill Gates of the world--and then given a dash of evil.

6. I remember reading that you are a heavy metal musician. Would parts of you be in the protagonist?
My experience as a recording and touring guitarist certainly aided me in keeping the protagonist's facts believable. More than that, my extreme love and passion for the guitar gave a bit more love to the protagonist's POV.

7. I see the book is available through Amazon in print and paper. Are you satisfied with mix of sales you are getting from the two formats?
The print sales have been amazing so far. I hit the TOP 10 paperback bestseller list on Barnes & Noble the first week it came out. Amazon has done great. Between print AND eBook format sales, I continue to be in the TOP 100 in Horror in the US, Canada, Germany, and the UK. I'm really happy with all that.

8. You can help your fellow writers with this question. What are you doing yourself to promote The Armageddon Chord?
Aside from the amazing promo/marketing. ads my publisher has done, I've been appearing at writer's conferences and book events any chance I can get. Blog tours, social media posts, and online exposure has helped. I also have publicists who really have given me amazing opportunities with magazine interviews, radio, TV and more. My advice to any writer looking to promote is to really make an effort to get out matter what your budget is, there's always ways to achieve exposure and tell the world about your book...get creative! That's how I started, grass-roots first and built on that.

9. Do you have another book in the works?
I have 2 new novels completed and if all goes well, they should be out in 2012! They're horror and have nothing to do with a musician...LOL.

10. Are they under contract with a publisher?
THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD was just a one-book deal, so my new books are "free agents" if you will.

11. What are the last three books you read and why did you choose them?
Flashback by Dan Simmons (because I love Dan Simmons and he always blows me away).
The Best American Noir of the Century (I loved this book so to horror, I really love the noir genre and this book of noir short-stories was just incredible).
Bad Men by John Connolly (I picked this up because the synopsis was really intriguing. I wasn't was really good).

12. What haven’t I covered that you’d like to add?
I just want to thank you for the interview and ask your readers to check out the website for THE ARMAGEDDON CHORD at:

Thank you, Jeremy. I'm sure all of us who loved the first novel will be first in line for the second one.