Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

SpecMusicMuse—Interview with Crymsyn Hart

CrymsynHartAs part of the Death’s Dance Virtual Tour, I present an interview with the author, Crymsyn Hart. Just ignore all the vampires standing around. I’m sure they won’t bite.

Much.

A grim reaper, you say? What grim reap – AHK!

 

Introduce yourself to the readers.

 Hello…is this thing on? Oh right, not speaking into a microphone. I guess that alleviates the public speaking pressure. Phew!

Hi I’m Crymsyn Hart. And yes you are correct, that is only half of my real name. I use it to keep my identity secret because I’m really saving the world the other half of the time I’m not writing paranormal romance and horror novels. Why Crymsyn, you ask? Well I needed something to go with Hart because my first choice was taken and well Crymsyn is red and harts pump the red stuff. Plus I write a lot of vampire novels so it just works both ways. And I do love to get bloody in my writing at times.

While I’m not saving the world, I live with my husband and three crazy dogs. I watch horror movies, plan world domination, and do puzzles to hone my powers.

 

What is Death’s Dance about?

Death’s Dance is about Kerstin Palmer. She wakes up one morning to find the dark figure she has been dreaming about in her mirror. Drawn to the robed DeathsDance1200X800spirit, she reaches out to touch him when her ex-boyfriend Jackson bursts into her house to warn her that touching the dark spirit would be a bad thing. He wants her to go back to the ghost town called Death’s Dance he is bound to investigate with his television crew and the other psychics that he has gathered to unlock the secret of the town.

She wants nothing to do with it. However, circumstances force her to go to Death’s Dance with Jackson. There she learns she is connected to the town as well as the dark being who has been following her around. Once she starts investigating with Jackson, all hell breaks loose, and she’s in the middle of it.

 

Where do you think the future is heading for paranormal romance, supernatural thrillers, and dark fantasy stories? Will there be more merging of the subgenres? Less?

I think that everyone is focused on labels at the moment that I’m sure there will be more splinters into other genres such as the “New Adult” category. However it could go the other way and things will be merged. It really all depends. With the way publishing is so turned on its head, then who knows.

 

ChurchIllustration6X9Have you ever used music to help you write? Has a song ever inspired story ideas?

I have used music to help me write before. My two favorite bands are Concrete Blonde and Type O Negative. Both have influenced me in writing in general.

One song, “The Howling”, by Within Temptation really hit me and helped formulate an idea for a trilogy I had.

 

What would a soundtrack for Death’s Dance sound like?

2nd-ComputerIllustration6X9 The soundtrack for Death’s Dance would include tracks from Type O Negative, Korn, Cradle of Filth, Slipknot, songs from Nox Arcana, Moonspell, and Emile Autumn. I don’t have any specific songs because I was listening to these bands while I was writing it.

 

Last but not least: who’d win in a fight between Death and Dark Phoenix? (We’ll just assume the Earth if not the entire solar system wouldn’t survive the fight).

 Wow I actually know who Dark Phoenix is. You have released my inner geek, Scott. However, Death would win because in the end everyone always dies. Although the battle would be interesting.

 
About the Author

Crymsyn Hart is a National Bestselling author of over seventy paranormal romance and horror novels. Her experiences as a psychic have given her a lot of material to use in her books. She currently resides in Charlotte, NC with her hubby and her three dogs. If she’s not writing, she’s curled up with the dogs watching a good horror movie or off with friends.

To find out more about Crymsyn:

Website: http://www.ravynhart.com
Twitter: @crymsynhart
Blog: http://www.crymsynhart.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/crymsynhart
Amazon: Crymsyn Hart Author Page
Newsletter: Sign Up Here

 

 
About the Book

Death’s Dance by Crymsyn Hart 
Published June 23rd 2014 by Seventh Star Press, LLC

Being a psychic, you would think talking to the dead was a walk in the park. However, it’s not always that simple. The hooded specter haunting me is one I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid. One day, he appeared in my bedroom mirror. Good. Evil. I don’t know what his true intentions are. Enter Jackson, ghost hunting show host extraordinaire, and my ex, to save me from the big bad ghost. From there…well…it’s been a world wind of complications. My house burnt down. I’m being stalked by an ancient evil and gotten myself back into the world of being a ghost hunting psychic. Jackson dragged me, along with a few other psychics, to a ghost town wiped off the map called Death’s Dance. From there things went from bad to worse. Death’s Dance is Book One in the Deathly Encounters series.

Tour Schedule and Activities

8/18 Jess Resides Here Interview
8/18 The Southern Belle from Hell Top Ten
8/18 Beauty in Ruins Guest Post
8/19 Darkling Delights Guest Post
8/19 Deal Sharing Aunt Top Ten
8/19 Shells interviews Guest Post
8/20 Stuart Conover’s Author Page Interview
8/20 SpecMusicMuse Interview
8/20 Azure Dwarf Post on Artwork
8/21 Come Selahway with Me Top Ten List
8/21 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post
8/21 SocialBookShelves.com Review
8/21 Blog of Sheila Deeth Character Post
8/21 A Haunted Head Guest Post
8/21 The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies Top Ten list
8/22 SBM Book Obsession Review
8/22 Bee’s Knees Reviews Guest Post
8/22 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More Interview
8/23 Reading Away The Days Review
8/23 Sapphyria’s Book Reviews Excerpt
8/23 Horror Tree Guest Post
8/24 Willow’s Author Love Review
8/24 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void Review
8/24 Bookishly Me Review
8/24 LucyBlueCastle Guest Post

 

 

August 20, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse – Interview with Armand Rosamilia

10403409_10204114432081167_310592458127484597_n33Dying Days 4 Print 2An interesting thing happened on my way to work today. I ran into a horde of zombies only to get rescued by a motorcycle-riding fella’ named Armand Rosamilia, wielding a shotgun in one hand and a pen in the other. And his pen proved deadlier than the shotgun. Go figure.

But since he saved me from becoming Zombie Chow, I figured the least I could do was interview him.

And now on to the interview!

 

Introduce yourself to the readers.

Hi. I’m Armand. (pause so you can say Hi back). I’m a full-time author. I have an unhealthy fascination with midgets. Actually, dwarves. I actually saw “House Party 2″ in a movie theater. I write a lot, and I’m totally famous for my Dying Days series.

 

What’s Dying Days 4 about?

Nonfiction book about the proper way to make hot sausage. Sorry, wrong book. Dying Days 4 is the continuation of the series, but now the zombies are even smarter, more aware, and more pissed off. The few survivors are really screwed now.

 

Why do you think zombie fiction is so popular?

Many claim it’s because of the mirror on our society. It’s feeling out of control in our political and religious climate. I just think zombies are really cool, and so do a lot of other people.

 

If you could turn your story into a video game, how cool would that game be?

If it was even half as cool as my all-time favorite game, Doom, I’d be thrilled. Or twice as cool as Pong.

 

And what would a Dying Days film be like?

A cinematic lovefest. Too much? It would be a dream come true for me, and I’ve been blessed with seeing quite a few of my dreams come to fruition. Yeah, I dropped a fruition in this interview.

 

Seeing as you’re a fellow metalhead, do you bang your head while writing? And has a song ever inspired a story or scene for you?

I am a huge Metalhead. I also DJ two Metal shows each week, one on an actual FM radio station and one online. I get to play all the songs I grew up loving. Many, many songs have inspired my stories over the years. Just look at some of my book titles: Highway To Hell, Death Metal, Creeping Death, Oops I Did It Again

 

Last but not least: who do you think would win in a fight between Jay & Silent Bob and Bill & Ted if they were all turned into zombies?

I’m a Jersey guy. Knew Kevin and Jay growing up. My brother actually worked at the convenience store once Kevin went to Hollywood. Kevin got him the job. So definitely Bill & Ted.

 

Armand Rosamilia

http://armandrosamilia.com

July 27, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse—Interview with RJ Sullivan

HauntingBlue_CoverI had the honor of getting to interview RJ Sullivan, the best ghost story writer of all time. (Okay, I had to say that. The ghosts that follow him around threatened to haunt me if I didn’t).  Enjoy!

Introduce yourself to the readers.

I’m best known for my paranormal thrillers, currently a trilogy–two of those are ghost stories and all three are loosely connected. Between the three books, I introduce my two series characters, punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer and Rebecca Burton, paranormal investigator, woman of mystery/, and not-so-secret druid. My first novel came out in 2010 (more on that below). Seventh Star put out books two and three.

I grew up in Indiana. A lifelong Trekker, SF fan, particularly of the literary sort (Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, and the usual etceteras). Star Wars, comic books (strong preference for Marvel/Spider-man, though I am also an avid Wonder Woman reader). Oddly enough, horror and paranormal fiction third and fourth after the rest. I grew up imagining myself an author of a decidedly sci-fi slant. You just never know. I guess this is where I plug my Red Lotus ebook novellas, where I let my space opera inclinations run wild. It’s the story of the trials and tribulations of the crew of an antiquated asteroid mining ship. The third story in the series comes out this fall. You can learn about all of this at http://www.rjsullivanfiction.com

 

What is Haunting Blue about?

Haunting Blue was my first novel, which was first published in 2010 and which went out of print earlier this year (on purpose when the contract rights expired). This new edition by Seventh Star puts the trilogy out by the same publishing home for the firstInterior1_FINAL_WEB time. It features new art by Bonnie Wasson, the artist for Haunting Obsession and Virtual Blue (the direct sequel to Haunting Blue) so the series now has a unified look, and some tweaks and corrections. “Blue” is a high school punk girl from Indianapolis who is “forcibly relocated” when her mother’s law firm moves to a quaint small town. She’s an angry child, who resists having anything to do with her new environment, so of course, before too long, she gets entangled in the center of things. She and her boyfriend unwittingly end up freeing a ghost relevant to the town’s history, and setting things right again may prove very tricky.

 

How did you come up with the character, “Blue” Shaefer?

Haunting Blue started as an homage to the old Hardy Boys series. Around age 10 I read some of the “old blue hardbacks” which always had an adventurous premise but overall were light reads that rarely delivered on their promise. I wanted to write a similar tale that took a dark twist that raised the stakes.

So I started off with two boy heroes and it just wasn’t clicking. Computer nerd “Chip” was pretty much already developed. In a few early ideas he had an angsty artsy best friend, but they weren’t interesting enough to make me want to work on it. Then I thought about making the best friend a girl and introducing sexual tension. I took the angst personality and threw it forward to full punk, gave her the nickname “Blue” for her spiky hair. By asking the logical questions, the answers built a profile. Why a punk girl? (She grew up in a college suburb.) Why would she be best friends with a nerd? (She’s an outsider and he was the first person to offer a sympathetic ear). Pretty soon “Blue” took over the idea and it became more about her, with Chip taking a supporting role. But for me, it was also far more interesting and something I wanted to spend time to develop.

 

What do you think it is that makes ghost stories so cool to read about, and to write about?

Beyond the obvious answer that ghost stories explore the age old question of life after death, they also offer an opportunity for closure and conclusion that real life “hauntings” rarely give us. Think of the typical stories we hear of haunted houses or or real encounters. It’s usually an incident, a repeated action, sightings and appearances, but that’s all. Or just check out any episode of any Ghost Hunter reality shows. Does anyone ever really get to the bottom of things? Do the heroes every really exercise the ghost, put it to rest, help it find peace? Yet in the majority of fictionalized ghost stories, that’s exactly what happens.
What’s your favorite type of music?

Interor2_FINAL_WEBPop music of various eras. Currently I dig Pink, Florence & the Machine, Paramore, and I have a love-hate relationship with Katy Perry. I grew up listening to Elvis, Peter Paul & Mary, The Mamas and the Papas on my parents’ reel to reel tape deck. My brother was a KISS fan, along with other metal bands, so that grew on me, plus Led Zepplin, The Beatle, Heart, the more hard rocking 70s. And of course, I have a huge love for the M-TV era 80s music. I’m infamous on Facebook for my Cyndi Lauper fanboy posts, born from a true fannish appreciation of the person and her music. That in and of itself is a blog post, which I have written about in full here.

[link to http://cabingoddess.com/2012/09/14/rjs-obsession-seventh-star-press-haunting-obsession-tour/ ]

 

Has music played any role in your writing process or inspired a scene or story?

An early short story, “Fade,” published in the Indiana Science Fiction Anthology 2011, was directly inspired by an obscure song of the same title by a band called Blue Angel, notable not for any hits but because Ms. Lauper was their lead singer before she went solo. The song is about a girl trying to use telekinesis to make her boyfriend disappear, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to let a prompt like that slip away. I also drew upon my experience going from concert to concert and backstage meetings, which I will do on occasion, to inspire parts of the time travel Rebecca Burton e-book short story “Backstage Pass,” available through Seventh Star Press.

I like to compose to music, and have a handful of favorite drafting discs: Til Tuesday, Everything’s Different Now; Cyndi Lauper, Sisters of Avalon; Journey, Infinity. Also, various Star Trek and Star Wars soundtracks.

 

Last but not least, who’s the best ghost sleuth? Scooby Doo or the Ghost Whisperer?

Rut Ro, Raggy! You got me, I don’t know this Ghost Whisperer person.

 

Virtual Tour
Author: RJ Sullivan
Featured Book: Haunting Blue

HauntingBlueTourBadge

RJSullivanPhotoAbout RJ Sullivan: Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes.

R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it. http://www.rjsullivanfiction.com

HauntingBlue_CoverHaunting Blue Book Synopsis: Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.
Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer

Author Links:
Website: http://rjsullivanfiction.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R.J.SullivanAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5199299.R_J_Sullivan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rjsullivanauthr

Tour Schedule and Activities
7/14     Jess Resides Here       Interview
7/14      Beauty in Ruins             Guest Post
7/14      fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews   Top Tens List
7/15       Deal Sharing Aunt         Top Ten’s List
7/15      John F. Allen Writer        Character Post
7/15       Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author            Guest Post
7/16       The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void         Review
7/16       SpecMusicMuse              Interview
7/16       Workaday Reads             Post on Artwork of Haunting Blue
7/16       I Smell Sheep                  Character Post
7/17       Bee’s Knees Review           Review
7/17       Library Girl Reads & Reviews   Guest Post
7/17      Come Selahway With Me                Guest Post
7/18      A Haunted Head               Author Interview
7/19      Nerd With A View                   Top Tens Post
7/19      Coffintree Hill                     Guest Post
7/20      Willow’s Author Love        Review

Tour Page URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/r-j-sullivans-haunting-blue-virtual-tour/

Tour Badge Html: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/HauntingBlueTourBadge.jpg

Amazon Links for Haunting Blue:
Kindle Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Blue-Adventures-Shaefer-Book-ebook/dp/B00KNC2Q34

Print Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Blue-R-J-Sullivan/dp/1941706053

July 16, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

R.J. Sullivan’s Haunting Blue Virtual Tour

 

Virtual Tour

Author: RJ Sullivan
Featured Book: Haunting Blue

HauntingBlueTourBadge

RJSullivanPhotoAbout RJ Sullivan: Haunting Blue is the first book of the adventures of punk girl Fiona “Blue” Shaefer. This is the 2014 revised edition by Seventh Star Press. Seventh Star also released Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, and Virtual Blue, the second book in Fiona’s tale. R.J.’s short stories have been featured in such acclaimed collections as Dark Faith: Invocations by Apex Books and Vampires Don’t Sparkle. His newest project is the Red Lotus series of science fiction novelettes.

R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He drinks coffee from a Little Mermaid mug and is man enough to admit it. http://www.rjsullivanfiction.com

HauntingBlue_CoverHaunting Blue Book Synopsis: Punk, blue-haired “Blue” Shaefer, is at odds with her workaholic single mother. Raised as a city girl in a suburb of Indianapolis, Blue must abandon the life she knows when her unfeeling mother moves them to a dreadful small town. Blue befriends the only student willing to talk to her: computer nerd “Chip” Farren.

Chip knows the connection between the rickety pirate boat ride at the local amusement park and the missing money from an infamous bank heist the townspeople still talk about. When Blue helps him recover the treasure, they awaken a vengeful ghost who’ll stop at nothing–not even murder–to prevent them from exposing the truth behind his evil deeds.
Haunting Blue is Book One of the Adventures of Blue Shaefer

Author Links:
Website: http://rjsullivanfiction.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/R.J.SullivanAuthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5199299.R_J_Sullivan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/rjsullivanauthr

Tour Schedule and Activities
7/14     Jess Resides Here       Interview
7/14      Beauty in Ruins             Guest Post
7/14      fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews   Top Tens List
7/15       Deal Sharing Aunt         Top Ten’s List
7/15      John F. Allen Writer        Character Post
7/15       Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author            Guest Post
7/16       The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void         Review
7/16       SpecMusicMuse              Interview
7/16       Workaday Reads             Post on Artwork of Haunting Blue
7/16       I Smell Sheep                  Character Post
7/17       Bee’s Knees Review           Review
7/17       Library Girl Reads & Reviews   Guest Post
7/17      Come Selahway With Me                Guest Post
7/18      A Haunted Head               Author Interview
7/19      Nerd With A View                   Top Tens Post
7/19      Coffintree Hill                     Guest Post
7/20      Willow’s Author Love        Review

Tour Page URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/r-j-sullivans-haunting-blue-virtual-tour/

Tour Badge Html: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/HauntingBlueTourBadge.jpg

Amazon Links for Haunting Blue:
Kindle Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Blue-Adventures-Shaefer-Book-ebook/dp/B00KNC2Q34

Print Version:
http://www.amazon.com/Haunting-Blue-R-J-Sullivan/dp/1941706053

July 13, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse—Interview With Michael West

MichaelWestAuthorPhotoAs part of the Hades’ Disciples virtual tour, I present to you an interview with the great Michael West. Enjoy!

 

Let the readers know who you are…and the mischief you’ve been up to since the last time you visited this blog.

Well, my name is Michael West, and I’m a writer.  I write mainly Horror and Dark, Urban Fantasy.  My novels include The Wide Game, Spook House, and Cinema of Shadows, which became my first #1 bestseller earlier this year.  I also write the critically-acclaimed Legacy of the Gods series, the second book of which, Hades’ Disciples, is out now.

 

What is Hades’ Disciples about?

Hades’ Disciples picks up about two years after the events of Book One: Poseidon’s Children.

Terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight.  Ancient.  Deadly.  They gather in secret, Tiger_Smallconspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.

Earl Preston knows the danger all too well.  After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be.  But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands.  At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow.  Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

They thought the nightmare was over, but they are about to discover that the horror has only just begun.

 

spider_smallHow many of your novels are in the same world?

Well, as my faithful readers can attest, all my novels exist in the same, shared universe, but there are four novels planned for this series.  Five if you count Spook House, which was sort of a Legacy of the Gods Book 1.5.  It contained characters from Poseidon’s Children and introduced readers to people who play a vital role in Hades.

 

If you could make one of your novels into a feature film, which one would it be?

Final_Hades_Disciples-3Oh my…I think they are all very cinematic.  I have a background in film and television, so I try to write things in a very visual way.  I think Cinema of Shadows would make for one scary film, as would Wide Game and Spook House. But if I had to pick only one, it would probably be Poseidon’s Children.  I still see the events from that novel in my dreams, and I just think it is so large in scale, and the action so intense, the creatures so incredible, that it has to see life in some form of visual medium, whether it be a film, a cable TV series, or a video game.

 

What do you think of horror-based video games? And what would a video game based onelevator_small The Legacy of the Gods be like?

I don’t play a lot of video games.  I did enjoy one of the Evil Dead games that came out a few years ago, and I also played the ALIEN game that was out for Sega Saturn and Playstation back in the 90s. I had a Saturn.  I always pick the losing format.  LOL

I think a Legacy video game would be awesome. There are so many interesting set pieces and creatures in the series, and I think it would translate well into a game. I could see you playing as Earl Preston and Carol Miyagi, trying to complete your mission while fighting off werewolves, spider centaurs, and yeti.  I think it would be a lot of fun!

I could also see it as a role-playing game, similar to Vampire: The Masquerade, where you pick which of the clans you are a member of, and you have to act like you belong to that group. I think that would be amazing!

 

Last but not least: who would win in a fight between Cthulhu, Godzilla, and Princess Buttercup?

I’m a huge fan of both Cthulhu and Godzilla.  In fact, I just got a shirt that was Cthulhu vs. Godzilla.  I’d love to see that fight! I think they would be pretty evenly matched, so it would be a toss-up there.  But Buttercup…she’s goin’ down! LOL

 

Michael West
Featured Book Release:
Hades’ Disciples
July 7 to 13 , 2014

HadesDisciplesTourBadge

MichaelWestAuthorPhotoAbout the author: Michael West is the bestselling author of Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, The Wide Game, Spook House, and the critically acclaimed Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar.

West avoids manhole covers and sidewalk grates whenever possible. He just doesn’t know what’s down there, and he’s not sure he wants to find out.

 

HadesDisciples_1200X800Book Synopsis for Hades’ Disciples: Terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight. Ancient. Deadly. They gather in secret, conspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.

Earl Preston knows the danger all too well. After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be. But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands. At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow. Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

They thought the nightmare was over, but they are about to discover that the horror has only just begun.

Hades Disciples is Book Two in the Legacy of the Gods Series.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.bymichaelwest.com

Twitter: @bymichaelwest

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bymichaelwestpage

Tour Schedule and Activities
7/7   Shells Interviews                          Guest Post
7/7   Come Selahway With Me            Interview
7/7 Beauty in Ruins                              Guest Post
7/7 Fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews          Review
7/8 Deal Sharing Aunt                             Top Tens List
7/8 Jess Resides Here                       Top Tens List
7/8 I Smell Sheep                                Guest Post
7/9 SpecMusicMuse                            Interview
7/10 Coffintree Hill                                Guest Post
7/10 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author   Guest Post
7/11 Bee’s Knees Reviews                      Review
7/12 A Haunted Head                            Top Tens List
7/12 Willow’s Author Love                      Interview
7/13 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void            Review

Tour Page URLhttp://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/michael-west-hades-disciples-tour/

Tour Badge URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/HadesDisciplesTourBadge.jpg

Amazon Links for Hades’ Disciples

Print Version
http://www.amazon.com/Hades-Disciples-Legacy-Gods-Michael/dp/1941706002

Kindle Version
http://www.amazon.com/Hades-Disciples-Legacy-Gods-Michael-ebook/dp/B00KBIB6W2

July 9, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Michael West Hades’ Disciples Blog Tour July 7-13

Michael West
Featured Book Release:
Hades’ Disciples
July 7 to 13 , 2014

HadesDisciplesTourBadge

MichaelWestAuthorPhotoAbout the author: Michael West is the bestselling author of Cinema of Shadows, Skull Full of Kisses, The Wide Game, Spook House, and the critically acclaimed Legacy of the Gods series. He lives and works in the Indianapolis area with his wife, their two children, their turtle, Gamera, and their dog, King Seesar.

West avoids manhole covers and sidewalk grates whenever possible. He just doesn’t know what’s down there, and he’s not sure he wants to find out.

 

HadesDisciples_1200X800Book Synopsis for Hades’ Disciples: Terrifying creatures exist all around us, hiding in plain sight. Ancient. Deadly. They gather in secret, conspiring, dreaming of nothing less than humanity’s destruction, and their numbers are growing.

Earl Preston knows the danger all too well. After tangling with a horde of mythological sea monsters in Colonial Bay, he has been tasked with finding these beasts and exposing their plans whatever they may be. But Earl is not the only one with a mystery on their hands. At the very top of the world, Carol Miyagi has stumbled onto an artifact from Earth’s past, something magnificent held captive in a prison of ice and snow. Now, Carol and Earl must work quickly to decipher the will of the gods–a plot that defies imagination–and to stop their followers from carrying it out.

They thought the nightmare was over, but they are about to discover that the horror has only just begun.

Hades Disciples is Book Two in the Legacy of the Gods Series.

Author Links:
Website: http://www.bymichaelwest.com

Twitter: @bymichaelwest

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bymichaelwestpage

Tour Schedule and Activities
7/7   Shells Interviews                          Guest Post
7/7   Come Selahway With Me            Interview
7/7 Beauty in Ruins                              Guest Post
7/7 Fuonlyknew ~ Laura’s ramblins and reviews          Review
7/8 Deal Sharing Aunt                             Top Tens List
7/8 Jess Resides Here                       Top Tens List
7/8 I Smell Sheep                                Guest Post
7/9 SpecMusicMuse                            Interview
7/10 Coffintree Hill                                Guest Post
7/10 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author   Guest Post
7/11 Bee’s Knees Reviews                      Review
7/12 A Haunted Head                            Top Tens List
7/12 Willow’s Author Love                      Interview
7/13 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void            Review

Tour Page URLhttp://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/michael-west-hades-disciples-tour/

Tour Badge URL: http://www.tomorrowcomesmedia.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/HadesDisciplesTourBadge.jpg

Amazon Links for Hades’ Disciples

Print Version
http://www.amazon.com/Hades-Disciples-Legacy-Gods-Michael/dp/1941706002

Kindle Version
http://www.amazon.com/Hades-Disciples-Legacy-Gods-Michael-ebook/dp/B00KBIB6W2

July 6, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 4

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendWelcome to the final part of the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview with the authors of the anthology. Sitting at the table tonight are Ian Hunter, Sheila Deeth, Douglas J. Ogurek, and Steven Donahue. Enjoy! J

 

Introductions

 

This is Ian Hunter from Scotland who wrote the story “Scarhead in the Glisting”. I’m the author of three children’s novels, a humourous guide to Glasgow called “Fantastic Glasgow”.  More recently my stories and poems have appeared in “Space and Time”, “The Tenth Black Book of Horror” (and the story in there appears in the very first “Best British Horror 2014”) and “The Alchemy Press Book of Pulp Heroes 2”.I’m poetry editor for the British Fantasy Society, book reviewer for “Interzone” and a member of the Glasgow Science Fiction Writers Circle. I write a very infrequent blog at www.ian-hunter.co.uk

 

Name:     Sheila Deeth

Links:    http://www.sheiladeeth.com

http://about.me/sheiladeeth

 

Douglas J. Ogurek

Fiction published in The Literary Review, the British Fantasy Society Journal, Morpheus Tales, Gone Lawn, and several anthologies

Horror, fantasy, sci-fi blogger/film reviewer at Theaker’s Quarterly Fiction (http://theakersquarterly.blogspot.com/)

Written over one hundred articles about architectural planning and design

Website: www.douglasjogurek.weebly.com

 

Steven Donahue was a copywriter for TV Guide magazine for 14 years. His first novel, Amanda Rio, was published in 2004. He released three novels in 2013: The Manila Strangler (Rainstorm Press), Amy the Astronaut and the Flight for Freedom (Hydra Publications), and Comet and Cupid’s Christmas Adventure (Createspace). His short story Grit was also included in the anthology Hero’s Best Friend by Seventh Star Press in 2014.

 

http://amytheastronaut.yolasite.com/

 

http://themanilastrangler.yolasite.com/

 

http://amandario.yolasite.com/

 

http://cometandcupidschristmasadventure.yolasite.com/

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Ian Hunter: I’ve written contemporary Highland Seer stories, almost with the seer as a psychic detective fighting evil, but because I had to have an animal companion, I’ve set this story in the past in the time of the Highland Clearances and have my seer encounter a Scottish Wildcat, which sadly nowadays is almost extinct – the true purebloods, that is, due to loss of habitat and breeding with feral cats, although there is seemingly a family up the road from where I live in Cartland Crags where William Wallace hid from the English after killing the Sheriff of Lanark. It is pretty wild and some of it is hard to get to, so maybe a family of purebloods still survive there, hope so.

 

Sheila Deeth: “Passage” is a prequel to a series of middle-grade fantasies, centered on an Irish-American teen who lives in fairly ordinary town called Hemlock Edge, near a slightly less ordinary forest. The teens of Hemlock Edge discover they can change reality in dreams, but I’d often wondered where their skills came from. The convenient juxtaposition of a call for submissions to Hero’s Best Friend, with a (human best) friend loaning me a book about her ancestors traveling from Ireland, offered me a happy chance to explore Siobhan’s ancestry through the eyes of a slightly magical Irish cat.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek: When their squigglybounce (public transportation vehicle) breaks down, a female dink (double income no kids) and her pet gilpan (a kind of bird) Yourkidsabrat get stuck with a drug addict and the status-obsessed Mommy Wifey. The dink discovers the addict is former children’s entertainment icon Wedge Medge, disgraced for his brutal treatment of gilpans, one of which was Yourkidsabrat (before she adopted him).

The dink protagonist, encumbered by a society that relegates dinks to the bottom of the socio-economic ladder, tries to convince Mommy Wifey to grant her access to Wedge Medge’s chamber so that Yourkidsabrat can use his deadly orbs to exact revenge on his tormentor.

The story was inspired by my love for animals and my ongoing struggle to find the humanity in those who abuse animals for profit.

 

Steven Donahue: Grit tells the story of a dog with telekinetic powers who aids a brave prince on a dangerous quest. The prince seeks exotic ingredients from faraway lands to create a mythical cure for his poisoned wife. Grit uses his powers and courage to help the prince on the perilous quest, where the duo face challenges from man, beast and nature.

 

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Ian Hunter: Polar bears. I’ve adopted one through the WWF and he writes to me regularly saying he’s hoping to come and visit and eat – sorry, meet – the dog.

 

Sheila Deeth: I’m writing a story about dogs at the moment, but they do have a friend who is a cat. Truth is, I just like animals; but my favorite fictional ones are those that combine a hint of wildness with the gift of companionship.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Jaws – Though I’d rather see Peter Benchley’s iconic great white attacking those who exploit sharks for shark fin soup.

Marley – Journalist John Grogan’s troublesome yet lovable Labrador Retriever. The conclusion of Marley & Me offers a moving description of the impact a dog can have on humans and the lessons that dogs teach us.

Aslan – C.S. Lewis’s anthropomorphic Christ

Speaker-to-Animals/Chmeee – A giant upright alien cat who resists his species’ penchant for violence in Larry Niven’s Ringworld.

Bori – The initially burdensome bird that a musician grows to love in Ha Jin’s “A Composer and His Parakeets.” One of the best short stories I’ve read in recent years. The ending is reminiscent of short story master Raymond Carver at his best.

 

Steven Donahue: I always admired the loyalty of Boxer from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. He lived to selflessly serve those around him, and he had the heart of a hero.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Ian Hunter: Yes, mainly jazz, or possibly instrumental proggy stuff.

 

Sheila Deeth: I get too caught up in the music if I try to listen to something while I write. Sometimes my characters sing in the back of my head though—a noisy and very confusing place.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Always. Death metal with Christian themes. Also known as white metal (as opposed to the notorious black metal). Variations within the white metal subgenre include Christian technical/ progressive/ melodic death metal (e.g., Becoming the Archetype, Renascent), Christian doom metal (e.g., Paramecium), Christian symphonic metal (e.g., Sympathy, Virgin Black), or, in its most extreme form, unblack metal (e.g., Frost Like Ashes, Horde).

I like power. I like talent. I like nonconformity. I like a positive message. White metal combines all of that.

 

Steven Donahue: I prefer a quiet environment to write in, which is a challenge in the small apartment that I share with my wife, our chubby cat, and our three energetic dogs.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Ian Hunter: I wrote a horror story called “Fearwheeling” set at the North Sea Jazz festival which was published in “Fear” magazine. When I feel the need to write a poem, but don’t know what to right about I sometimes flick through the pages of “Kerrang” magazine and pick on a song title, or album title or maybe lyric and use that as inspiration, but since I’m totally in love with PJ Harvey, I have a whole load of poems inspired by her album covers, song titles, album titles and lyrics, some of which, I’m pleased to say have been published in the UK, USA and Canada, and will probably be used as evidence against me.

 

Steven Donahue: I use music to inspire me before I start a writing session. Music from the Rocky movies are my favorite, but I’m not sure if they’ve ever influenced something I’ve written.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Yes. Christian death metal influences every one of my stories. I admire this subgenre’s ability to package themes of compassion and empathy in what sounds like the opposite. This music epitomizes the adage “Don’t judge a book by its cover.”

Like white metal, my stories offer positive messages shrouded in a disturbing, juvenile, or even vile container. For instance, in “Stuck on the Squigglybounce,” the Mommy Wifey character projects images of her husband’s income, her children’s accomplishments, and her possessions on the breast and butt screens embedded in her clothing. I want her juxtaposition with the dink protagonist to throw into question the values and roles that society imposes on the contemporary woman.

Additionally, some have praised or derided my stories as trippy, enigmatic, or even inaccessible. Again, that’s a lot like the music from which I find inspiration.

 

Sheila Deeth: Would the howling of dogs count?

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

 

Ian Hunter: Benji, on points.

 

Sheila Deeth: Benji’s gaze would remind Cujo of his true nature, leaving him open to the killing blow that allows him to choose death over causing more injury to those he loves.

 

Steven Donahue: I would root for Benji, but I think Cujo would have him for lunch.

 

Douglas J. Ogurek:Neither. I would first bring to justice the individuals responsible for instigating the dogfight. Then I would force those individuals to donate time and/or money to help abused or abandoned dogs.

I’d also try to show the instigators the kindness that was probably absent during their lives.

 

June 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 3

3a401-final-herosbestfriendToday at the table are SH Roddey, Steven S. Long, Steven Grassie, and Laura Anne Ewald. Enjoy! J

 

Introductions

 

I’m Susan H. Roddey. I write various forms of speculative fiction as S.H. Roddey, and I also write romance as Siobhan Kinkade. Most days I can be found lurking on Facebook both as Susan H. Roddey and also on my author page at www.fb.com/AuthorSHRoddey. I’m on Twitter as @draickinphoenix and @SiobhanKinkade, and can always be found at www.SHRoddey.com, creepyauthorgirl.wordpress.com, and siobhankinkade.wordpress.com.

 

I’m Steven S. Long, a writer and game designer. I’ve worked primarily in the tabletop roleplaying game field for the past twenty years, during which time I’ve written or co-written nearly 200 books. I’m probably best known for my work with Champions and the HERO System, but I’ve worked for many other RPG companies including Last Unicorn Games, Pinnacle Entertainment Group, Decipher, and White Wolf.

In the past few years I’ve branched out into writing fiction as well. In addition to my perpetually-in-revisions first novel, I’ve written a lot of short stories, of which about a dozen have been published (or are due for publication in the near future). You can find some of them in other Seventh Star anthologies such as the Chimerical World books and The End Was Not The End.

Lastly, I recently completed my first major non-fiction book:  Odin:  The Viking All-Father, for Osprey Publishing’s “Myths and Legends” line. It’s slated for release in late 2015.

You can find out more about me and what I’m up to at www.stevenslong.com.

 

I’m Steven Grassie, author of “The Masterless”. You can see what else I’ve had published over the last year and a half at http://www.stevengrassie.com.

 

Laura Anne Ewald (LauraAnneEwald.com & LAEindexing.com)

I am a former librarian turned freelance writer, editor, public speaker, and indexer. An eclectic scholar with degrees in classical studies, drama, library science, and organizational communication, I find my writing to be as diverse as my academic background, though it is likely that romance will find its way into any story I write, no matter what the genre. I think my greatest asset as a writer is my theater experience: I have done some 50+ shows in college and various community theaters and was a technical theater major, so I know set design, lighting, properties, blocking, etc., and how they contribute to a story. I tend to both “set the stage” and create the “cast of characters” for each story before running the scenes in my head.

My book titles include The Stars of Dreams and The Stars of Home (the first two books in my science fiction series, The Commonwealth Chronicles), A Chance for Life (a contemporary romance), and two novellas, Derry’s Hope (science fiction) and Voices in the Night (contemporary paranormal). All are available at Amazon.com. My newest title, Words to Love By (July 2014), is a contemporary romance.

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

S.H. Roddey: Look What the Cat Dragged In was an experiment in “what if?” that went a little far into left field. It’s a contemporary murder mystery told almost entirely from the point of view of a talking tuxedo cat named Miko. After he brings a human foot into his human’s house, he finds himself trying to prove his woman isn’t the killer.

I used to have a tuxedo cat who would bring me gifts (some of them still wiggling). While his name wasn’t Miko (we called him “Cat”. He was a stray that wandered up and decided to live with us), the cat in the story very much embodies the personality of my beautiful Cat.

 

Steven S. Long: My story is “The Wolf Sentinel.” It’s about Greylord, an aging wolf who’s been driven from his pack and doesn’t expect to live much longer. He comes across an injured human — Vorgath the Warlock, one of the main characters in the novel I mentioned above — and adopts him as his new “pack.” He helps Vorgath survive long enough to heal up and complete an important mission.

 

Steven Grassie: Kojima is a rōnin, a disgraced and masterless samurai; his dog Shiro is an akita, as loyal to his master as his master is to him. These friends get caught up in a series of events that test their skills and endurance to their limits. The story is essentially one of redemption, and it also turns out to be the last of the heroes’ many adventures together…

I myself am the proud owner of two akitas, and I’ve long been fascinated by the breed’s history and their connection with the samurai and the Japanese ruling elite. And come on, who doesn’t think the samurai were pretty cool? Hero’s Best Friend gave me the opportunity to write a story about both types of warrior: one human and one canine.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum” was actually inspired by the Disney movie, The Three Lives of Thomasina (1963), one of my all-time favorite Disney flicks. It is a movie I grew up with and for years played with in my imagination. Then when I became a sci fi fan, my imagination went a little further: What if the character, Lori McGregor, was neither a witch nor just “a bit weird?” What if she was really an alien? And what if Thomasina was more than just a house cat? (Don’t you just love those “what if” exercises?)

“Memorandum” started out as simply “The Witch” (the first half of the story), which I wrote for a short story writing assignment in college, but later I thought, “Why not take this all the way?” Thus was born Dr. Mroweo Hsstu’s testimony, which will someday be augmented by “the rest of the story” as told by Dr. Reni Lira’s, the “human” character. I have no idea when the novel-length manuscript will be written, but when it is, it will become Book 3 in my Commonwealth Chronicles.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

S.H. Roddey:I’ve always been partial to the animals in fairy tales. I grew up reading Aesop’s fables and both the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson stories, as well as folklore from around the world. Shapeshifters in particular have always intrigued me. I love how the folk tales use various animal forms to subtly introduce personality traits in characters or further unsavory themes.

 

Steven S. Long: Flag in The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings; the fire lizards in Anne McCaffrey’s “Pern” novels; Odin’s ravens Hugin and Munin; various and sundry from C.S. Lewis’s Narnia (Bree, Reepicheep…), and of course Shadowfax.

Honorable mention to Rorschach’s canine sidekick Blot the dog, the greatest animal companion who never existed. ;)

 

Steven Grassie: Guenhwyvar, the magical panther companion of Drizzt Do’Urden in the Forgotten Realms books. The Direwolves in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire are awesome too.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: Growing up, there wasn’t an animal character I didn’t like, and I still reread them regularly—Charlotte’s Web; Misty of Chincoteague; Black Beauty; Man O’War; Beautiful Joe; Lad, A Dog; Winnie-the-Pooh and all his friends; and, of course, the wonderful animal inhabitants of Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. For all the dog and horse stories I read growing up, though, I think the cats intrigue me the most—perhaps because I’ve lived with them all my life and currently live with six of them, so I appreciate their personalities more. A contemporary author I’m really appreciating for her animal characters these days is Nora Roberts. Her dogs in The Search and the cougar, Baby, in Black Hills really pop off the page and add so much to the depth of her human characters as the reader sees them interacting with these wonderful animals.

  

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

S.H. Roddey:Every time I pick up a pen. Silence is my worst enemy. As long as I have sound (preferably cranked up very loud), I can keep focused.

 

Steven S. Long: Not specifically. I listen to music constantly because I enjoy it, but I don’t think of it as helping me write.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I find I write best in silence, though for background I do sometimes put in a CD. I can’t listen to anything with lyrics or a beat, however—as a musician, I can’t help but tap my feet and sing along, which doesn’t help my writing at all, so my usual show tunes and big band jazz are out. When I do listen while I write, I lean toward Classical in the Romantic Era (Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Gershwin, Rogers), and often listen to the “program” music of today found in the sound tracks of movies like Star Wars, Star Trek, Shadowlands, The Man From Snowy River, Michael Todd’s Around the World in 80 Days, High Road to China, etc.

 

Steven Grassie: Hell yeah! I very rarely write without music on in the background – and that music very rarely isn’t metal. I try to match the mood of what I’m listening to with the vibe of whatever it is I’m writing – my taste within the genus of metal music is pretty eclectic.

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

S.H. Roddey:Absolutely. I listen to a lot of instrumental music when I write, and the movement in it helps me keep pace, particularly when I’m writing fight scenes. From time to time themes and subjects from various songs will work their way into my shorter fiction as well.

 

Steven S. Long: I do have an idea or two for stories inspired by lyrics in songs. Now I just have to find the time to write them. ;)

 

Steven Grassie: Not as yet – however I’ve a story idea based on a song by the band Lamb of God (no, I’m not telling you which). The song’s title is the main inspiration, but the song itself – its tempo, its power, its relentlessness – makes me want to create a tale to capture, and do justice to, its essence. The story will be fantasy, and dark… though don’t ask me what happens in it yet. And for the time being, it’s deep in the ‘to be written’ queue.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I can’t think of any in particular, but I do find the battle sequences in the original Star Wars, any Star Trek movie, or the Indiana Jones titles can really inspire my battle sequences. I don’t write many of them, but when star ships are battling, or the heroine and hero are facing danger, there is no one better than John Williams for inspiration in my mind.

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

 

S.H. Roddey:My first reaction would be to say “CUJO!!!” and be done with it, but I think this question bears some real discussion.

If we’re perfectly honest with ourselves and each other given the circumstances of each, Benji would likely win the first round since Cujo is rabid. However, after one bite from the St. Bernard, that cutesy little monster would be down for the count. He’d lose his mind (and subsequently his cuteness), and then he’d become a smaller, less intimidating version of Cujo.

Though I have to say, BENJI VS. CUJO: THE ULTIMATE WAR would make an excellent graphic novel.

 

Laura Anne Ewald: I gotta go with Benji on this one. How can I not, since all my stories end in happily-ever-after? Seriously, though, Benji is small, but he’s smart and quick. Cujo was just a very big, very sick puppy. If I were to write it, I’d have Benji save the day by managing to fire the sheriff’s revolver in order to put poor Cujo out of his misery. I’d cry at the end, too—I can’t even listen to the theme song from Old Yeller without getting weepy—but Benji would be the reluctant hero in this one.

 

Steven S. Long: Benji, clearly. The writers are on his side. ;)

 

Steven Grassie: In a straight fight, I reckon Cujo. But of course Shiro could take both of them at the same time, paws down.

June 24, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview—Part 2

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendTonight sitting at the table are Essel Pratt, Frank Creed, Nick Bryan, and Renee Carter Hall. Enjoy!

 

Introductions

 

Hello, my name is Essel Pratt.  I have been published in multiple anthologies and have my first novel, Final Reverie, releasing this summer.  I can be found on Twitter (@EsselPratt, Facebook (search EsselPrattWriting), and at EsselPratt.Blogspot.com.  Other than Seventh Star Press, I have been published with Rainstorm Press, Cruentus Libri Press, Nightscape Press, Dark Moon Digest, JWK Fiction, Apokrupha, and more.

 

Frank Creed is a housecatter, end-times cyberpunk novelist, creator of The Underground universe, and founder of the Lost Genre Guild for the promotion of Christian speculative fiction. The Chicago born Creed lives in the Vancouver area of BC, Canada. Read the full bio at http://frankcreed.com 

 

I’m Nick Bryan, author of darkly comic crime and fantasy, including stories in Seventh S tar’s A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court anthology, the weekly London detective webserial Hobson & Choi and an upcoming novel re-imagining Hell for a new world. Updates and inner feelings on Nick Bryan Dot Com.

 

I’m Renee Carter Hall, a fantasy/science fiction author writing stories for adults like me who never quite grew up. (A lot of my fiction features animal characters of one sort of another, so this anthology was right in my comfort zone!) My short fiction has showed up in various print, online, and audio publications through the years, including Strange Horizons, Black Static, Daily Science Fiction, and the Anthro Dreams podcast. My online home is at http://www.reneecarterhall.com, I blog at http://reneecarterhall.wordpress.com, and I’m also pretty active on Twitter as @RCarterHall.

 

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

 

Essel Pratt: My normal writing genre is horror, so “Brothers” was a little out of my comfort zone.  So, I created a setting that takes place after a horrific battle between hero and villain.  The story focuses on an aged wolf that fought alongside his human brother during a time of great turmoil.  The reader sees a glimpse of the final battle during a flashback scene and gets a feel for the brotherly love that the two heroes share.  Although the focus of the story is on the canine portion of the team, the overall theme is one of friendship, brotherhood, and unity.

 

Frank Creed: I’d always had the concept of a cyberpunk animal story, and I heard of the anthology when one of our cats died. My contribution, “Dusk,” is the tale of a GMO tuxedo kitten saved from a lab and raised by the Cat Whisperer, or Whisp. While on Underground assignment in Chicago’s Chinatown, the pair are confronted by no fewer than six of the deadly robot-like Goliath battle-suits of the One State. Whisp goes down early in the battle, and the intrepid Dusk is left alone to save his partner.

I always thought my Cyberpunk animal would be more chromed, but Dusk is the size of a small mountain lion, has lengthened dew claws that work like thumbs, and nearly human reasoning capacity.

 

Nick Bryan: My story is “The Violet Curse,” in which a loyal dog tries to help her fantasy hero owner save the day, only to find she might be his undoing.

 

Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage” was inspired by the classic Tolkienesque stereotype of a wizard — a bearded old man with a staff — and wondering what might happen if wizards have to deal with the same aspects of aging as their non-magical counterparts. It’s told from the perspective of Jiro, the big-cat companion of the emerald mage Korrinth. Jiro’s accompanied Korrinth on many quests and adventures in their younger days, but now that the mage’s powers are waning, Jiro has to face the prospect of becoming something of a caregiver as well as a companion.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

 

Essel Pratt: When reading fiction, my favorite animal characters are those that come to life with a sense of believability.  It really doesn’t matter what type of animal it is, I want to feel a connection to the animal and believe that he or she is real.  In the Jungle Book, Louie is a simple character with depth.  This makes him very believable in the role. Rafiki is more complex in nature, yet his place in The Lion King is portrayed in a comedic way.  I can connect to him because he is that wise old uncle or grandpa that we all know, who acts childish and reckless in his actions but is the best giver of advice you will ever meet.  Then there is Aslan from the Chronicles of Narnia.  In the end, he has such a small role in the overall group of stories. However, he also has the most important role.

It really is not about whether the animal is reptile, mammal, amphibian, etc. It is all about how those characters are portrayed and how they add to the story itself.

 

Frank Creed: Charlotte and Templeton from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, the horse from Orwell’s Animal Farm, and Fiver from Richard Adam’s Watership Down.

 

Nick Bryan: I’m a big fan of the array of talking mice and other woodland creatures from the Redwall books by Brian Jacques. Over in comics, We3 by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely uses some amazing storytelling techniques to portray animal senses.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Oh, too many to list them all, but some of the ones coming to mind right away are the rabbits of Watership Down, Jane Lindskold’s Blind Seer, Meredith Ann Pierce’s Jan the unicorn, Aslan from C. S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Kipling’s Bagheera, Clare Bell’s Ratha, Naomi Novik’s Temeraire, and S. Andrew Swann’s Nohar Rajasthan.

 

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

 

Essel Pratt: Always.  Internet based radio has guided my fingers across the keyboard more times that I can count.  My preference is very eclectic in nature and varies from Bach to Gwar.  However, some of my biggest inspirations while writing are Nobuo Uemetsu, Lindsey Stirling, and remakes of various popular songs (new and old) using piano or violins as the main instruments.  I typically have multiple playlists with different beats and intensity that I play during various scenes that I am writing.  If I can use the music to set the soundtrack in my head, I can get a better feel for the flow and begin to actually experience it myself.

 

Frank Creed: Yes. Techno from the Quake III soundtrack and from an artist named Bassic make a good backdrop for cyberpunk. It’s been ages since I’ve tried my hand at fantasy, but I used baroque classical music for that.

 

Nick Bryan: I use a lot of ambient music and jangly rock. Some combination of Trent Reznor’s film soundtracks and REM is typical.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Often. I tend to have music in the background most of the time while writing — usually new age of one kind or another. Many of my stories wind up with a playlist or at least a theme song, and having that can make it easier for me to get back into the mindset of the story with each writing session.

 

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

 

Essel Pratt: My inspiration comes from everywhere, so would need to answer yes to this question.  When writing the flashback scene in “Brothers”, I listened to “One Winged Angel” a lot.  It has the perfect blend of intensity, operatic stress, and builds to climax beautifully.

 

There are many times that I will be cruising down the highway on my hour drive to work and a song will come on the radio that ignites my imagination.  There are many stories that I have yet to write, but are saved in a file on my PC, and have the title of the song that inspired it saved in a file. I will usually create a station on Pandora that begins with that song and the see where it takes me from there.

 

Frank Creed: One of my Underground tales is titled “Whiskey in the Jar” after the Irish proverb for saving up for retirement. It’s available in Splashdown Books’ Aquasynthesis Again anthology. It also happens to be the title of a darn fine Metallica song. J

 

Renee Carter Hall: Most of the time for me, the music gets fitted to the story instead of the other way around, but every once in a while the music is the source.

 

Nick Bryan: A lot of stories have the rhythm and words of whatever music I was listening to as I wrote them, although it’s something that gets refined out in the edit.

 

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

Essel Pratt: I believe that this question is similar to the race between the tortoise and the hare.  With that said, Benji would be the winner.  Cujo will act upon rage and instinct, whereas Benji will take the time to think the situation through.  His small frame will allow him to hide in tight quarters until his plan comes together. Cujo, on the other hand, would more than likely tire himself while scavenging for the little guy.  In the end, even if Cujo did happen to capture Benji, he would most likely choke on his small frame.  Therefore, Benji wins either way.

 

Frank Creed: Benji would outsmart Cujo by running to the local gun shop where the proprietor would already have food out for him, and roasts Cujo with a flamethrower.

 

Renee Carter Hall: Tough call, but I’d say Cujo would infect Benji and they would then roam the streets in darkness together. And fight crime.

 

Nick Bryan: Cujo. Being unrealistic never helped anyone.

 

June 23, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Hero’s Best Friend Roundtable Interview, Part 1

c0c0c-final-herosbestfriendWelcome to part 1 the Hero’s Best Friend roundtable interview. Sitting with us tonight are Cindy Koepp, Lillian Csernica, David Wright, and Lisa Hawkridge.

 

Introductions

Hi there! I’m Cindy Koepp. I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources. I’m also an editor with two small presses when I’m not wrangling glasses or studying for a master’s in adult education. I currently have one published novel and four self-published resources that will soon be re-published by a small press in a much spiffier format. In addition to teacher resources coming soon from two small presses, I have five novels in queues at three different publishers.

Check out my webpage at http://ckoepp.com and my blog at http://cindykoepp.wordpress.com

 

Lillian Csernica www.lillian888.wordpress.com

My very first short story sale, “Fallen Idol,” appeared in After Hours and was later reprinted in DAW’S YEAR’S BEST HORROR STORIES XX. I’ve also published stories in DAW’S Year’s Best Horror Stories XXI, 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, and HORRORS! 365 Scary Stories. My Christmas ghost story “The Family Spirit” appeared in Weird Tales #322 and “Maeve” appeared in #333. My pirate romance novel, SHIP OF DREAMS originally appeared in paperback as part of the Leisure Imprint from Dorchester Publishing.

Current releases include short stories in Hero’s Best Friend: An Anthology of Animal Companions and Desolation: 21 Tales for Tails.  More stories are forthcoming in These Vampires Don’t Sparkle and Fantastic Stories Presents Tales of the Imaginations.

Born in San Diego, I’m a genuine California native. Right now I live in the Santa Cruz mountains with my husband, two sons, and three cats.

 

My name is David Wright. By day, I am a mild-mannered video producer currently working for the Army. I started writing in 2007. I have had two short stories published in The Sentinels: Alternate Visions (White Rocket Books) as well as a short story and poem in Gideon Cain: Demon Hunter (Airship 27).

My first novel debuted less than a month ago. It is called My Brother’s Keeper and it is the first book in my Galahad’s Doom series. It’s Sword & Sorcery with a spiritual theme.

I’d love for everyone to follow my blog, galengriffon.blogspot.com, to keep up with the latest from me.

 

My name is Lisa Hawkridge, and this is my first time being published. I come from a small town called Needham, of which most of the people outside of the Boston area, and even within said area, have never heard. Some of my work can be found at http://www.lmdhawk.tumblr.com

 

Tell us a little about your story in Hero’s Best Friend.

Cindy Koepp: “The Hat” is a tale about a group of well-trained birds who work with a king’s spy network. When news of an enemy spy in the area reaches the network, they devise a plan to capture him. Cloud, an umbrella cockatoo, is recruited for the job.

Although Masika, my African Grey, was not too thrilled that the main character in “The Hat” was a cockatoo, she was ecstatic that birds got to play such a large role in the story. I promised Masika that I’d cast an African Grey as the lead in another tale.

 

Lillian Csernica: One day Kevin and I were tossing ideas back and forth.  He must have been the one to come up with the idea of a zombie armadillo.  We decided to go for something funny and satirical.  When we do a reading of the story, I still can’t get through the ending with a straight face.

 

David Wright: First of all, I’m extremely pleased with my story, “Wind of Change”. It is actually set in the same world as my novel and it takes a couple of my favorite supporting characters and spotlights them. Since Hero’s Best Friend was published three months prior to My Brother’s Keeper, this story marks the debut of this fictional setting of mine that I have been developing for years.

In my novel, we meet Jabbok, a nomadic warrior and a prince to two tribes, evocative of a Native American. He is accompanied by a red-tail hawk named Kaja.

When I saw the open call from Seventh Star for Hero’s Best Friend, I took it as a challenge to write an Untold Tale set in the world of my books.

I knew right away I wanted to feature Kaja. But I did not want him to speak or have internal dialogues; it needed to fit the tone and approach of my novel. I also wanted to try to stick to a spiritual theme, again, keeping in tone with My Brother’s Keeper. I decided to make it an origin story of sorts, showing how Jabbok and Kaja first met and perhaps shed some light on their bond and ability to communicate.

The story is very short, but I think it hit all the marks very strongly. It makes me want to write more Jabbok and Kaja stories. I hope people will check it out, love it and then post comments on my blog telling the whole internet of its awesomeness.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: My story is about a young snake named Ezra and his “semi-beloved human companion” Elena. The two of them end up playing a supposedly pivotal role in war that’s really none of their business while reuniting with Elena’s family, and all the characters, especially Ezra and Elena, are asked to question their motives for being where they are.

 

What animal characters in fiction are your favorite?

Cindy Koepp: Oh, the eagles of Lord of the Rings. The red-tailed hawk in Ladyhawke.

 

Lillian Csernica: Wolves, horses, and mythological creatures like the Fu dog.

 

David Wright: Since I’ve grown quite fond of Kaja, I’ll go with the hawk from Ladyhawke, the one Michelle Pfeiffer turns into during the day. And let’s not forget all the wonderful companions of The Beastmaster. I grew up watching that on TBS and I still want a pet ferret to this very day.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: I don’t know if the Redwall books count, because it’s a whole different dynamic, but Sunstripe and Taggalog are my favorites for that. For animals in more traditional roles, Fang, from the Harry Potter series and Solembum from the Inheritance Cycle are two of my favorites. I was also very fond of the cat in Coraline, derisive of names though he was, and of Mr. Bigglesworth from Austin Powers, although he had very little characterization.

 

Have you ever used music to help you write?

Lisa Hawkridge: No. The reason being that I always seem to find music distracting, as I end up paying more attention to the lyrics than to what I’m writing. The few times I’ve tried it, it’s been more of a hindrance than a help, so I usually write in silence.

 

Cindy Koepp: The only music I listen to while writing is Masika’s whistles and chirps. Sometimes the radio in my head plays a tune. Anything else is too much of a distraction.

 

Lillian Csernica: All the time.

 

David Wright: Yes. It can’t be anything with words or anything with which I’m overly familiar, because that only distracts me. I like to turn to the digital music channels on the TV and pick Classical or Light Jazz and have it playing softly in the room.

I find it helps keep me in the zone and lose track of time.

 

Has music ever been an inspiration for a story or scene?

Cindy Koepp: Oh yes. In the case of “The Hat,” the theme music from the 1960s/70’s TV show Mission: Impossible played on my mental radio station now and then.

 

Lillian Csernica: While I wrote the chapters for Alexandre, my pirate captain in SHIP OF DREAMS, I’d play U2’s “With Or Without You” over and over again.  You could say the “soundtrack” for the first book of my fantasy trilogy-in-progress is “The Best of Berlin.”

 

David Wright: I can’t say I’ve ever heard a piece of music first and then came up with a story based on that. But there is one piece that never fails to inspire images of knights in shining armor fighting valiantly.

It is O Fortuna. Perhaps it has been overused in recent years, but it is awesome. I first encountered this music in

John Boorman’s Excalibur film. It is heroic and powerful and I strongly associate it with Arthurian tales, which is the kind of stuff I write.

 

Lisa Hawkridge: When I was just starting out writing, I tried to write the scene described in “Midnight Shift”, as sung by Commander Cody and the Lost Planet Air Men, but that never went anywhere. Other than that, anything I write inspired by music is much more indirect. I’ll listen to a song, and I’ll think of a character that would relate to the song, and write about them. Also, because I’m a writer, whenever I hear instrumental music, my mind immediately jumps to what scene would use said music as the background soundtrack.

 

Last but not least: Benji vs. Cujo. Who’d win?

Lillian Csernica: I like to root for the underdog, but come on. Cujo would snap up Benji in two bites.

 

David Wright: Hm. Well, it’s a bit of case of Brains vs. Brawn, isn’t it? Clearly, Cujo is much more physically intimidating. But Benji is like the MacGyver of dogs. He’s clever enough to find a way to outsmart Cujo. So I say Benji all the way.

(now excuse while I go write a MacGyver/Benji team-up story…)

 

Lisa Hawkridge: In a straight up pit-fight, Cujo would win, no problem. In a fight or challenge where the environment introduced more factors, Benji might have a chance, but if the challenge was a fight, Cujo would still probably win.

 

Cindy Koepp: Benji, absolutely. See, everyone underestimates the cute ones. He seems so quiet and innocent, but what you don’t know is that Benji is a shape-shifting mutant. Cujo would be all about getting growly and mean and everything, and Benji would just have to shape-shift to his attack form, and it’d be all over.

June 22, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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