Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Dangerous Places with Author Craig Dilouie

I WANT YOU FOR YOUR MIND NOT YOUR BODY … Attractive, mature, fit horror novels seek nubile brains for short-term relationship based on mutual belief in the apocalypse.

There’s something about Craig DiLouie. I’m not just talking about him as a writer, but as a person. Craig will always be special to me because when word got out that I was joining Permuted, Craig was the first author from that house to reach out to me. Reach out, welcome me, talk to me and answer questions. He is so supportive of other authors it amazes me. And if anyone epitomizes the fact that we are all in this together so let’s help each other out, it’s Craig. I love his work, his writing style and I envy his visualization and characterization. I truly wish I could write action, blood and gut like he does. I am so happy he is doing this interview. And isn't he just intensely cute?  Let’s meet Craig.

Welcome, Craig! Glad to have you!
Thanks, Jackie! As a fan of your fiction, I’m happy to be here!

What one thing do you feel makes you unique as a writer?
I would hope readers would find my fiction believable even though my stories feature monsters we likely will never meet in real life. I’m fascinated with stories about ordinary people thrust into extraordinary situations, and feel a strong need to answer: What would really happen here?

I spend months researching my novels to try to get every detail right in the setting, background, weapons and so on. I also plot my stories and build characters in ways that make them seem real, with nothing contrived just to move the story, create conflict or simply because “it’d be cool if that happened.” The real magic of writing and reading is willing suspension of disbelief. The reader agrees to believe whatever you say, as long as the writer respects that belief. Realism is key to that relationship. The more realistic the background, the more fantastic the monsters that populate it. The more realistic the characters and their responses to what is happening to them, the more closely we will connect with them as people and see them as real.

What are three things people would be surprised to know about you?
Probably the biggest surprise would be that my fiction is fueled by love and anxiety of losing the people I love. In my stories, ordinary people are faced with horrifying changes and terrifying choices. These extreme changes and choices stand in for the mundane fears I have for those I love most.

Another thing that might surprise people is I’m not half as twisted as they might think after reading my work. I’m a happily married father of two beautiful children with a nice home and a secure middle class income from a satisfying technical writing business. I’m the guy you see at the food court in the mall with his wife and kids having a great time with them but occasionally staring off into space. What you don’t see is that what I’m actually doing during those moments is picturing horrifying scenes in my next novel.

Almost every writer has a writing vice (Music, coffee. Booze, etc) that they like or need to have in order to create. Do you have a vice and what is it?
My main vice is smoking. I quite five years ago, but have frequent relapses. I don’t need it to create, but the habit is comforting and nicotine, as a stimulant, definitely gets the juices flowing. In the past, when I would take smoke breaks, I would get a lot of great ideas during those moments of stillness. These creative benefits don’t count for much, obviously, compared to the bad things it does to your health. It’s something I’ll struggle with the rest of my life.

Do you write you story/outline longhand and then on the computer or do you go straight from brain to keyboard?
I usually go from notes to keyboard, although occasionally I’ll write something out longhand first. I always carry a pen in my front pocket and a small notebook in my back pocket, and I spend months literally thinking about my next novel during all of the quiet moments of the day. At some point, I realize I’m ready, and take the plunge with the first page. By then, I don’t have every single thing mapped out, because I want the story to flow naturally and “write itself” to an extent, but I know exactly where I’m going, which is key.

If there is one thing in any of your published works, storyline or character wise, that you could change in a currently published work, what would it be?
I wouldn’t change anything major, though if I could I’d tinker with it endlessly to rephrase passages, correct the inevitable typos and so on. There’s some sort of cosmic rule that within fifteen minutes of getting your book from the printer, you’ll find a typo.

If I were a movie producer, pitch your best work in two lines or less. (Give the book’s title)
TOOTH AND NAIL tells the story of a company of infantry deployed to New York City during the zombie apocalypse. Think BLACKHAWK DOWN meets 28 DAYS LATER.

THE INFECTION is an apocalyptic story of five ordinary people who must fight to survive minute to minute against zombies and even worse monsters. Think the emotional impact of THE WALKING DEAD and THE ROAD coupled with zombies, monsters and claustrophobic tension from THE MIST.

THE KILLING FLOOR is the sequel to THE INFECTION, continuing the story, which now focuses on an infected man who may be the key to salvation, or a biological superweapon that could end the world.

If you could be any character in your book, who would you be and why?
The one who survives! Seriously, while I love my characters and relate to them almost as they were real people, I don’t want to be them. I will tell you my favorite is Anne from THE INFECTION and THE KILLING FLOOR.

Anne is a great character because she is so determined. She already experienced the ultimate horror of the apocalypse on its first day with the loss of everything she loves. Every subsequent deprivation, moment of pain, trauma—nothing can really hurt her anymore. She has accepted that while the infected are in a sense the living dead, she is one of the dead living. Like some soldiers in combat, she conquered her fear by accepting she is already dead. Survival is all that matters. As a result, she can make quick decisions under stress and fights without fear, and her continuing existence is fueled by her hatred of Infection. She is the story’s Captain Ahab, if Moby Dick were a viruslike organism.

If you could straighten out one misconception some people have about you, what would it be?
[laughs] That if they didn’t like my book, it was my goal to personally offend them and make them feel like a loser because other people actually did like my book.

Let’s way you become super J.K. Rowling/Stephen King Famous, and you could help one Indy author achieve the recognition they deserve who would it be and why?
Many names come to mind, but probably the top of the list would be Peter Clines, author of -14- and EX-HEROES, although he’s doing just fine without the help. He’s a Permuted Press author I’ve gotten to know attending horror conventions. He’s a great writer and an incredibly interesting, nice guy. His books are selling very well, and he recently announced a major deal with Random House to republish his EX-HEROES series.

Claim to Fame: Who is the ‘most’ famous person you have met?
One of the great things about going to the horror conventions to sign books is meeting some of the great celebrities who attend. I spent time discussing the original SURVIVORS BBC series with actor Ian McCulloch, the character of Barbara with actress Judith O'Dea, and life in general with the beautiful actress Cerina Vincent. For me, though, the biggest celebrities are other authors. I had the great pleasure of spending some time with Jonathan Maberry and John Skipp, among others.

Thank you!
Thanks, Jackie!

Please make sure you visit Craig's WEBSITE for more info about his work.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Rush of NANOWRIMO - Tips to Finish

In less than 48 hours, the rush of adrenaline will pump and as the clock chimes midnight, hundreds of thousands will plow across the starting line of the annual and popular NANOWRIMO. National Novel Writing Month, where the goal is to write a 50k word novel in thirty days or less.
While each year, the number of participants increases, oddly enough the percentage of winners (Those who actually write 50k in thirty days) remains the same. Roughly only 15% will achieve the goal.
First, let’s establish you’re a winner for attempting it. It takes guts and not just talent. Many won’t even try. This will be my 12th year, but only tenth officially. It took two years to get the balls to actually join the site. I have finished every year. My shortest time was 12 days, longest was 26. But I usually finish on day 19. I know this because it’s my twins’ birthday.
50,000 words is really not a lot. But to do so in month with kids screaming, school activities, holidays, family and a full time job, it’s a feat. I am not the norm. Because 50k words is my typical month, so I try to step it up and challenge myself. Hence completing it faster.
Again, it is not easy. So I devised a list of pointer for someone who is new and may need some guidance on how to complete NANOWRIMO successfully and survive.
You are successful for registering and attempting the competition whether you finish or not. Remember that.
While you can’t write anything before November first, you can outline.
Think of what you want to write, where it will take place, who will be in it and CHARACTER NAMES. Design your setting, your main characters. Get that in your head.
Have three things ready to start your first writing day.
Environment/setting, Story Foreshadowing, Main character introduction. I know it sounds lame, but if you think about these three things, and what you want to say, you can start your book with a sprint. Three simple items.
Your first page can have the environment (It was a dark and stormy night) And you go on to describe it.
You can start with Main Charter Description and character development (Mary was sweet and charming, she had three animals that she loved)
Or start out with a foreshadowing event. (The blade sliced through the throat of the animal and blood poured onto Mary’s feet)
Pick one to start with and then go with the other two right after. You have your start. THEN….
I can’t stress enough. Outline. Outline, Outline.
Even if it’s a shitty outline, do it. This is a major key to finishing NANOWRIMO. I’m very serious about this. Every day, before you write or after you are done. OUTLINE 5 points you want to achieve.
Example:         Mary goes to the store
                        Mary sees a stranger.
                        The store gets held up.
                        The man takes Mary
                        Mary is in the kidnappers car scared.

Each of those points are basic, but you can expand upon them greatly. Outline. End your day with what you want to write the next time you write.
Write for the story and not the word count.
NANOWRIMO is all about word count, 1700 word a day. But if you outline, and set a point of finish. Meaning, you’ll write until you get to this point in your outline, you will see that word count increase rapidly.
Avoid massive amounts of caffeine.
I know it’s tempting to stay awake, but Caffeine, (as much as I love it) makes your hands weaker and more prone to an awkward typing. The hyper causes loss of focus. Not to mention it makes you have to pee more. So how do you get energy? Sour foods. I kid you not. Eat a pickle, Cut one up and have it handy. Sour food will spike your writing energy.
Don’t go on a writing binge before bedtime.
You’re gonna lose sleep as it is, why increase your chances. If you are on a writing binge, stop a half an hour before bedtime, wind down with outlining and reading.
Stop in the middle of a chapter.
If you stop in the middle of a chapter it gets you motivated to finish when you fire up to write the next day.
Have fun!
Write the story, worry about the technical aspects later. You can always add, take out and tweak later. Finish the story, put it away for a month then pull it back out.

Again, you rock for even attempting it. Finish line or not. You win. Join me through the month for progress updates. Good luck!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Dangerous Places - Inside the Creative Mind of Sue Edge

Over-protective writer/mother of three looking for thrill-seeking readers who are in need of heavy-duty escapism and heart-muscle exercises.

 Today I kick off the first of many in a feature I call ‘Dangerous Place’, it’s getting inside the creative mind. The kick off author is Sue Edge.

Sue is a fellow Permuted Press Author and joins me in a genre heavily dominated by male writers. Zombies. I met and have gotten to know Sue through social media. She is super sweet, not to mention a beautiful talented woman. She is very sincere and supportive of all of us in the craft, that’s why I wanted her to be first.  Her writing is top notch, and if you don’t believe me, take a look at her book Dead Tropics. I promise, after you read the sample, you’ll be hooked.

Welcome, Sue! Glad to have you.  First, up who you are as a person/writer and your work/book
I write under the name Sue Edge, that being a nickname I acquired in college.  I am the author of a horror/action novel called Dead Tropics.  It is the story of an ordinary woman who races the clock – and a growing zombie threat – to save her family.  They say ‘write what you know’ and for the last 18 years I’ve been trying to raise decent kids and keep them safe so that’s the focus of my book!  But I have always had a fascination for apocalyptic/disaster books, particularly zombies, so what better scenario to tell my story?

What one thing do you feel makes you unique as a writer?
While there are a lot of writers doing horror stories and action stories, I combine the two genres.  I want people to be left in turn, breathless, horrified, relieved and happy.  I try to write stories that tap into peoples’ fundamental fears and force the reader to ask themselves ‘how would I react?’

What are three things people would be surprised to know about you?
  1. People often perceive horror writers to be dark and twisted.  I can see the surprise on people’s faces when I tell them that I write horror novels because I don’t meet that perception.  Let’s just say I resemble Pollyanna more than I do Morticia Addams.  But I think it’s that appreciation for life and all its gifts that enables me to write dark books, because I can imagine what it would be like to lose everything I hold dear. 
  2. My first book was a parenting book.  It made quite a splash at the time, which surprised me because my intention was to create a resource for parents who found that modern parenting techniques to be unsuccessful, not stir up a hornet’s nest 
  3. I would like to try my hand at writing romantic comedy one day.  

Almost every writer has a writing vice (Music, coffee. Booze, etc) that they like or need to have in order to create. Do you have a vice and what is it?

Nothing exciting, I’m afraid.  In order to hash out storylines, I go for a nice walk and enjoy the sun and scenery.  It seems to spark the creative juices.  At home, I switch lanes (from office or parenting mode to writer mode) by making myself a cup of tea and catching up with everyone on face book for half an hour or so.  Then I am ready to start writing.

Do you write you story/outline longhand and then on the computer or do you go straight from brain to keyboard?
I am a straight-from-brain-to-keyboard type.  Before I start writing a book, I know where I want to start and where I want to finish and then I let the creative process unfold.  The characters tend to write their own story, I think.

If there is one thing in any of your published works, storyline or charter wise, that you could change in a currently published work, what would it be?
 *SPOILER* I probably wouldn’t kill off one of the main characters in Dead Tropics.  I’ve received some emails on that subject, let me tell you!

If I were a movie producer, pitch your best work  
In Dead Tropics, Lori Nelson is an ordinary mother who thinks she has survived the worst that life has to throw at her after her husband dies, leaving her to raise a teenager and twin babies but she is wrong.  Trapped in an increasingly deadly tropical paradise, Lori is forced to dig deep and discover a strength she didn’t know she possessed - a strength that enables her to make once unthinkable decisions in order to save her precious family.

If you could cast any three celebrities, living or dead to play your characters in a movie, who would they be and who would they play?
Well, James Denton would be a shoo-in for the part of Mike, the laconic security guard who becomes the heroine’s partner , friend and foil.  A runner up might be Jason Statham.

Lori, the protagonist, is a much trickier part to cast.  The names that have been tossed about by my readers and friends include Jennifer Garner, Dana Delaney and Lena Headley.  I’m actually inclined to cast someone a little quirkier, like Courtney Cox.  Whoever plays Lori has to be able to convince people that she is just an ordinary woman caught up in extraordinary events.  Not only that, she needs to be able to handle drama as well as comedic scenes.

My daughter has put her hand up to play the part of the teenage daughter.  She argues that since I’ve used our family as the basis for the characters, she’s the best person to play the part.  I guess she has a point!

If you could be any character in your book, who would you be and why?
*sheepish grin*  Well, I based Lori, the protagonist, on myself so it would have to be her, of course!  And if I get to make out with James Denton or Jason Statham in the movie version, well shucks…

Let’s say you become super J.K. Rowling/Stephen King Famous, and you could help one Indy author achieve the recognition they deserve who would it be and why?
Well, there are a lot but if I had to choose two, it would be Stephen North and Kathy Dunnehoff.  Zombies and romantic comedy…I swing both ways. 

Stephen encouraged me a lot when I started writing my book.  As for Kathy, I think she taps into the angst of women in their forties.  I could certainly relate!

What are three things that can always be found in your fridge?
Durian (it’s an acquired taste), Jarlsberg cheese and homemade yoghurt.  What can I say, I like strong flavors.

Thank you!

Please, check out Sue’s book and sneak peak on AMAZON

Friday, October 5, 2012

Picking a Candidate by their ASS-ets.

 I thought it was a brilliant idea. You know …people are always saying negative things about the candidates. So I came up with a different way to pick your candidates. Not by view. Not by record or issues, but rather by …. Derrieres.

Which team has the better set of buns?

A fun activity - which candidate would be your choice if you solely went by how much you liked their buttocks.

Funny. Ha ha. But then the task remained. I had to get comparison pictures. Easy? Well one would think, until I actually began a Google search for pictures of Obama/Biden and Romney/Ryan bums.

Never have I worked so darn hard researching and prepping for a blog.

The search was impossible. I put it their name followed by various keywords, such butt, behind, backside, walking away, sweet cheeks … nothing.

I mean, hundreds of times a picture of a half naked Joe Biden washing his car, popped up from the Washington Post. But not pictures of him from behind? Is there some sort of courtesy photo law that prohibits journalist from taking pictures of candidates from behind? Gees, I hope it isn't a law, because when I went to the George Bush Rally and I sat behind him on stage, I snapped a few backside photos.

 Oh … stop you would too.

It became like a puzzle to me. Surely I wasn’t the only person in the world ever to look up a candidate’s butt. Wait, that was worded wrong. Let’s try that again. Surely, I am not the only person in the world to search pictures of a candidate’s backside.

Maybe so. Still …

At one point I was going to give up the search, but damn it, I was bound and determined to find pictures of their backsides.  And hence, I did. So, please. Judge for yourself. If you only got to look at their behinds and pick your next presidential team who would it be.




And my personal favorite… Ryan.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Night of the Living Stink Bugs

Look at the picture, at the look of sheer horror on my granddaughter’s face. This same little girl who watches episode after episode of Walking Dead, who thinks Day of the Dead is boring and bitched when Jaws died was simply traumatized over ... a stink bug.

In her defense, the initial attack was mild but it transformed into nothing less than a B horror flick.

Monday Madness, that’s what I call Monday’s because my toddler grand kids have a sleep over not only in my room, but my bed. They were doing their exercise via jumping on my bed when Violet screamed. This child didn't just cry a shrill shriek, it was deep, long and gurgling.

I could see them from my writing room and I called out, “What’s wrong?” my heart thumping thinking she really got hurt.

“Bug!” Violet cried.

I thought, ‘Really?’ she’s acting like this over a bug?’ We just watched the webepisodes of Walking Dead and she laughed at the zombies. So grabbing my phone to take a picture of her terror, I walked to them.

“Bug!” she pointed. After snapping a picture, I took a look. It wasn't just a bug, it was a stink bug.

“Oh that’s a stink bug,” I explained as if the toddlers would know.
“Oh, God, Nennie! Save me.” Yeah, seriously, that’s what she said.

Being ‘Great One’, I couldn't ignore my calling to be the hero. But Baby Frank, who doesn't really talk well, goes to speech, found his niche as well (I’m still accrediting the Avengers) he bravely held back his arm to Violet and said, clear as day, “Stay back. I’ll get Bug.”

He grabbed a shoe!

No! Wait. Don’t kill it.

He looked at me as if I were nuts and I explained. “It’s a stink bug. If you kill it, then everything will stink and we won’t be able to sleep.”

Pause. They stared at me. Did they understand? No. After a moment, Baby Frank’s hurled down the shoe and I stopped him in the nick of time. “Wait.” I tried again. “If we kill it, it will come back as a zombie and eat Nennie.”

Both kids glanced at me and backed off. What to do? I had been sipping on my bourbon so I went and got my plastic glass, downed the rest of the booze, grabbed an envelope, walked to the bug and scooped it in the glass. I carried it to my writing room window, opened it and let it out.

Violet applauded. “Oh thank you gweat one. Thank you.”

None too impressed, Baby Frank pointed to the same spot with a look that all but said, ‘yeah, your works not done’.

Damn it! Another one. Violet screamed. “Get it Nennie. Get it in you whiskey glass!”

“On it.” I swept up that bug, took it to the writing room window and set it free as well.

Not long after, they relaxed, but no sooner did they fall asleep, Violet awoke with a scream. “Bug! Big Stink bug!”

Are you kidding me, she’s having nightmares about Stink bugs? Not zombies but bugs. She was shaking, wouldn't go to sleep. She graveled out to me, “They’re … they’re .. coming.”

“Ok, baby, ok,” so as not to wake baby Frank, I took her into my writing room, made a little bed on the floor. She whimpered about them coming. I’m on the computer. Focused on work, I told her, “They’re not coming. Nennie got rid of them.”

Pat. Pat. Pat-pat-pat.

Violet shrieked! The ‘patting’ continued, loud and steady. Eyes wide, I shifted to my right, looked at my window and there was at least twenty stink bugs slamming against my window, trying to get in.

It indeed was like a zombie invasion of bugs. I figured they were pissed that I tossed out their buddies or, since I used a whiskey glass, they were trying to get to the party. In either case, they eventually gave up and moved on. But Violet was scarred for life.

Go figure, Walking Dead eating intestines doesn’t make her flinch but a stink bug …. Oh boy.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

When the HS Reunion Bell Rings ... 30 years later

Recently I attended my (gulp) 30th reunion. And I have to say, thanks to Facebook, the reunion was probably a lot different for me than my parents. After all, I had connected with others, they knew of my life, I knew of theirs. Social media added an interesting twist.

Still… I wanted to give a glimpse of my view of getting back in touch with classmates … 30 years later. Including what I will call my awards ceremony.

There were many who attended that I hoped to see. There was only one person I didn’t want to see and thankfully, she didn't come. The last time I saw this woman, she nuzzled at the bar with a man half her age (Not her husband) looking worse for wear and being very supportive of him as they both hustled frozen meat out of the back of his car to the patrons of the bar.

Even holding her bargain frozen patties, she still managed to snub me, stare and snicker at me in some sort of intimidating manner. Really? Seriously? I guess she failed to see that she lost all bully credibility the second she start being the meat huckster.

Everyone really looked great. It was funny to see the difference between attire of the twenty reunion and thirty. Many women tossed out the choice for sequence and opted for comfort. Hand raised. I hate anything tight against my body, that comes with age, I guess.

It was evident the room was divided between those who embraced the year of the Sears Senior discount and those who were fighting it tooth and nail.

Despite the fighting it …. Fact remains it was thirty years later. We did get old. We all aged well. I like to think.

Bottom line remains, we all had a blast.  I was super impressed by the longevity of marriages in our class. Man, if I add all my marriages together it still doesn't add up to some of the marriages there.

Although, it was evident some should have left their spouses at home. Really? Totally reiterating why I don’t get married … again. It was a reunion. Your spouse is going to socialize. You can’t expect them to sit with you and you certainly can’t get visually and publicly pissed when they be bop around. Which happened.

Now for my Jackie 30 year reunion awards. (I’m leaving out last names but am providing a visual)

Least changed all the way around: Kelly
Personality wise, hair, face, this woman is still as endearing today as she was 30 years ago. I’m almost convinced she found Dick Clark’s Dorian Gray Mirror.
Most changed/aged for the better: Ted
Seriously, take a look.

Most likely to still look the same at our fortieth reunion: Karen
Take a look at her grad pic and now. I may even say she’ll still look the same at the fiftieth.

Best quote of the night: Maryann, when she said, (In reference to a body part) “No man paid for these, I bought these myself in Florida.”

Most likely to be married more times than me: Steve
While we are both tied at 3 times down, I foresee him having at least two more spouses. He also was the most photographed the night of the reunion, appearing somewhere in almost every picture. It could start a new game. “Where’s Steve.”

Most like to be (Or should be) the mayor of a community: Bob
You should hear this man talk. Boy he’d give Governor Christy a run for his money.

And finally, my big award the, “I’m not convinced this wasn't a case of borrowed identity award”. It goes to Craig.
I was thinking at first it was a case of Wedding crashers, but instead reunion crashers. Because there is no way, he is the same guy we graduated with. Or it was a possible brilliant political infiltration to subconsciously sway votes. Cause he looks suspiciously like a presidential candidate. Am I the only one who thinks it?

I was showing my mom pictures of the reunion. Her first question wasn’t, ‘did I have a good time,’ it was, “Were there any prospects.” I laughed and told her I was one of the few not married. She pointed to a picture and said, “What about this nice looking young man?” (Craig)

Snicker. Snort. Young. We’re pushing fifty. Of course she’s decades beyond us.

I shrugged and said I wasn’t sure then I pointed to Steve and informed her he was the only one I knew that wasn’t married.. To which she said. “Oh. Hmm. Check on the Mitt Romney looking guy.”

And yes, it’s only fair …

God willing, I’ll be writing a blog about the fortieth.