Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

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

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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

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 4

Welcome to the final part of the A Chimerical World Round Table interview. Hope you had fun. J

And Part 4 includes Cindy Koepp, J. H. Fleming, Alexandra Christian, Ed Ahern, and Christine Morgan.

 

Introductions

Well hello! My name is Cindy Koepp. I write science fiction, fantasy, and teacher resources when I’m not whistling with my African Grey, editing for two small presses, doing crafty stuff, or learning how to bend glasses back into shape.

I have one science fiction book, stories in 3 anthologies, and 4 books in queue at various publishers.

You can find more stuff about that at my website: http://ckoepp.com

My name is J. H. Fleming. My work has appeared in publications by Visionary Tongue, Evil Girlfriend Media, and Mocha Memoirs Press. I also have a novel and story collection coming from Pro Se Productions this year.

My name is Alexandra Christian and I wrote “Wormwood” for the anthology.  I’m a writer of paranormal erotic romance, horror and dark fantasy for Ellora’s Cave, Purple Sword Publications, Mocha Memoirs Press and now, Seventh Star.  To date, I’ve published 2 novels and 5 shorter works.  My newest release is my angel/ demon romance from Ellora’s Cave, Hellsong.

Ed Ahern. Forty seven stories published thus far, half fantasy/horror/scifi, balance childrens and adult fairy tales, retold folk tales and “literary” stories.

Christine Morgan is the author of several novels and over 60 published short stories, spanning various genres but leaning more toward the darker end of things. In addition to reading, writing, beta-reading and reviewing, she’s recently begun taking on more editing gigs. Her latest project is “Fossil Lake, an anthology of the aberrant,” which debuted at World Horror Convention 2014 in Portland. (http://fossillake.wordpress.com/)

 

Tell us a little about your story

Cindy: When I saw the submission details on Seventh Star Press’s site, I thought about the kinds of characteristics usually attributed to Elves and musical ability ranked high in the list. So, I considered how to put a musical Elf into a science fiction scenario and decided that an Elf would use music to help time their movements in a battle or activate the special characteristics of their equipment.

That gave rise to the idea for “The Last Mission.”

J. H.: My story is about a young girl who’s been dealt one blow after another. She’s sent away to live in a home for girls, some of whom have serious issues, others who have been sent there for bad behavior. She comes across a faery and her companion and thinks she’s finally gone mad, but further events make her realize that she may have found a way out of her bad situation.

Alexandra: “Wormwood” was born of boredom, honestly.  They say that the best stories are conceived doing tedious tasks.  It must be true because I completely wrote Freedom and Ady’s story while stuffing envelopes at the day job.  I wanted to shake up the “traditional faerie story” model and I was thinking about how to do that.  I’m a southern writer myself with an almost unhealthy obsession with the southern gothic genre.  I’m also a Shakespeare fanatic, so it only seemed natural to create a southern gothic story that incorporated the fae and Robin Goodfellow.

Ed: I have a swamp gas mind, and ideas ooze up frequently but unpredictably. My web site is appropriately titled swampgasworks.com. This story fits the pattern.

Christine: With “Taggers,” I wanted to take a skewed, updated, more urban look at the sort of “Shoemaker and the Elves” tale. Instead of the kindly craftsman and the helpful fairies, I went with a grouchy old locksmith in a decaying part of the city, and what happens when he catches one of the hooligans who’s been leaving graffiti on his wall … only to find that he’s dealing with no normal kind of hooligan.

 

What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Cindy: My favorite faerie would have to be Elves: tall, graceful wiseguys … er … wise guys, with a variety of different skills because you can learn a lot in several hundred years.

Ed: For adult fairy tales a noir persona with lots of defects. For children’s stories clean cut but as far away from the usual tropes as I can reach.

J. H.: My favorites are the ones who do whatever they want. Most faeries are really this way, but some lean more toward Seelie or Unseelie. I like the ones that surprise you because you never truly know which way they’ll go.

Alexandra: I’ve always had an affinity for the mischievous faerie.  In my younger days I was on a slow moving train wreck toward being an actress and my first major role was as Puck, or Robin Goodfellow, in a community theater production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”  Ever since, Robin Goodfellow has been a particular favorite of mine.  His benevolent nature and bumbling prowess as a trickster have always fascinated me.  Like Freedom, I think he’d be an amazing friend to have.

Christine: I’ve always liked the Fair Folk type, eerie and beautiful, looking just human enough to seem familiar but being decidedly INHUMAN in personality and outlook. The fairies from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” messing with people just because they could (dream casting: Benedict Cumberbatch as Oberon, Tilda Swinton as Titania!) … from Arthurian legend and the classic fairy tales … their society, their indifference to mortal morals … just fascinating.

 

Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when your write?

Alexandra: Music is an essential part of my writing process.  Every story I write has a playlist to go along with it that sets the mood.  As far as the types of music that I listen to when I write, it really depends on what I’m writing.  When writing “Wormwood,” my playlist was a very schizophrenic mix of new age (Enya, Clannad, etc.), spirituals and Civil War songs.  In fact, part of Freedom’s magic that summons Robin in the first place, is her singing “Wade in the Water.”  (Historical fun fact:  “Wade in the Water” is one of the spirituals that is purported to have been a “code song” that would give slaves instructions on how to escape north.)

Cindy: Actually, I prefer quiet when I work. Masika, my African Grey, will sometimes contribute bits of tunes and other silliness when I’m working, and that doesn’t prove too distracting. I save music for when I’m taking a typing break or driving down the rollercoaster roads near my house.

J. H.: I’m almost always listening to music, whether I’m writing or not. When writing, I listen to Loreena McKennitt, a Canadian vocalist, musician, and composer with heavy Celtic and Middle Eastern influences. Her albums always put me in just the right mood, particularly The Visit, The Mask and the Mirror, The Wind that Shakes the Barley, An Ancient Muse, and The Book of Secrets.

Christine: I don’t usually listen to music while I write, but I will sometimes listen to it beforehand during the thinking-and-planning part. My tastes vary, and my choices vary according to the story project in question, but I prefer classical, swing, film soundtracks, and other instrumental works. That, or, when I’m working on a Viking-themed story, I’ll just blast Amon Amarth.

Ed: I drive to classical music, but write in silence. Otherwise can’t hear the gas bubbles pop.

 

Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Ed: Nah.

Christine: Not specifically, though certain pieces –  “Carmina Burana,” Holst’s “Mars – Bringer of War,” Borodin’s “Prince Igor” – always speak powerfully to me and might some day bring about a story.

Cindy: Yes, it has. In the case of The Last Mission, Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata was an inspiration for part of the tale. I imagined an Elf timing actions during a fight and staying calm through the use of a slow tune like Moonlight Sonata. I didn’t quite figure out a way to work that into the story as I’d imagined it, but I did get the tune mentioned and used the idea in other parts.

J. H.: More than once. I’ve written three stories based off of songs, and two have been published so far. “The Far Horizon,” published by Evil Girlfriend Media, was inspired by “My Lover’s Gone” by Dido, and “Moonsbreath,” published by Mocha Memoirs Press, was inspired by “Samhain Night” by Loreena McKennitt.

 

Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Christine: No idea; I played Q-Bert.

Cindy: That would depend entirely on who has the largest number of hearts and whether the Boomerang of Extra Special Spiffiness has been unlocked.

J. H.: Princess Zelda, hands down.

Alexandra: Zelda definitely.  Princess Toadstool never won a fight.  She always hired plumbers to do her dirty work for her.

Ed: Who cares, but I opt for mud wrestling.

 

57d7e-final_talesoftheseeliecourt_650Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court/dp/1937929477
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTMAO  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court/dp/1937929493
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

May 25, 2014 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SpecMusicMuse—A Chimerical World Round Table Interview, Part 3

Welcome to Part 3 of the A Chimerical World Round Table Interview. This time ariund we have Sarah Madsen, Steven S. Long, Kim Smith,  and BC Brown sitting at the table. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Introductions

Hi! I’m Sarah Madsen.  “The Body Electric” is my first commercial publication, but I have two poems and a play in The Chestatee Review, my school’s literary magazine. I’m hoping to get my novel, Lysistrata, on shelves sometime in the near future, and it’s been getting really good reception so far. You can follow along with my adventures at unfetteredmuse.wordpress.com or find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SarahMadsenAuthor.

I’m Steven S. Long. I’m best known for my work as a roleplaying game designer and writer (I’ve written or co-written about 200 books in that field), but in recent years I’ve branched out into writing fiction as well.

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

Hi, my name is Kim Smith, and I am the author of the short story “Treehouse”, in A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court. I am the hostess of the wildly popular podcast, Writer Groupie, soon to be hosted on my blog at http://www.kimsmithauthor.com

BC Brown, author of two urban fantasy/contemporary science fiction novels – A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness; contributor to multi-author anthologies – A Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, Quixotic: Not Everyday Love Stories, and Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. And one out of print fantasy novel – Sister Light, Book One: Of Shadows.

 

Tell us a little about your story

BC: “Extra-Ordinary” is a tale about seemingly benign people and events. Those ordinary people often turn out to be portals to extraordinary things.

Sara: “The Body Electric”isn’t your typical fairy story. In fact, the only fae-like elements you’ll find in it are magic and an elf protagonist.  It’s a cyberpunk/urban fantasy story, set in near-future Atlanta. Two runners, Alyssa and Logan, are hired to steal some plans and a prototype from a former Americorp employee’s home office, and get way more than they bargained for in the process. It was inspired by old Ray Bradbury short stories and a YouTube short, Quantic Dream’s Kara, and I was trying for a good mix of classic sci-fi and modern urban fantasy.

Kim: I’ve been writing as long as I could hold a pen, and have always been a lover of fantasy. I remember as a youth hanging out around a gas station/convenience store that carried JRR Tolkien’s books. I visited it weekly waiting on the next book. It took years to finish the whole trilogy. They should have put me on the payroll.

“Treehouse” was the brainchild of wondering what would happen if a child could see faeries but no one would believe her. What if she was telling the truth? I hope I did a good job with expanding that idea.

Steven: I was fortunate enough to place two stories in A Chimerical World — one each in the Seelie and Unseelie volumes. Each of them belongs to a series of stories I’ve written that take place in Tuala Morn, a setting I’ve described in the book of the same name and now use as for fiction. It’s a Fantasy world inspired by Irish/Celtic myth and legend, with a dollop of some other Fantasy tropes thrown in.

Most of the Tuala Morn stories I’ve written so far take place in or around Killdraigan, an enchanted forest that’s often dangerous for mortals due to the faeries, trolls, and monsters that live there — not to mention other perils.

The Seelie story is “The Harpist’s Hand.” It tells how Thomasin Blythe, one of the greatest Tualan bards, has to seek the help of the faeries of Killdraigan when two contentious kings both seek her hand in marriage.

The Unseelie story, “The Rose and the Dragon,” focuses on a different character:  Sir Rhorec of Umbr, the Knight of Five Roses. When he was born, three faeries appeared and pronounced a strange prophecy. Now grown to manhood and armed with the magic sword they left him, he ventures into the deadly confines of Killdraigan Forest to seek the meaning of the prophecy — and slay a fearsome dragon.

 

 

What’s your favorite type of faerie?

Kim: All kinds, I am not discriminatory.

Sara: As in Seelie or Unseelie?  That’s a really hard choice. My gut says Seelie, simply because I love pretty masks and the pretense of civility. However, there’s something refreshing about the Unseelie…they’re at least honest about what they are.

Steven: It’s hard to pick any one type. I’ve researched faerie lore extensively for years and really enjoy it, so getting stories into the Chimerical World anthology was a real treat. I hope someday to have the chance to write a non-fiction book on the subject.

BC: I’ve always been enamored of the more mischievous fey. Basically good-natured, these shining folk embody a spirit of restlessness I can connect with.

 

Is music a part of your personal writing process, and if so what kind(s) of music do you listen to when you write?

Sara: I can’t write without music. It helps me stay centered. I tend to create soundtracks for my projects, so what I’m listening to wont’ always be the same.  If I get really stuck, I find some good instrumental music (like the soundtrack to Tron: Legacy or Deus Ex: Human Revolution for my current project) keeps me from getting too distracted by lyrics.

Steven: It is, in that I listen to music pretty much all the time that I’m awake but not watching TV or talking with someone. But I don’t really consider it a part of my “process” per se, nor do I tailor what I’m listening to what I’m writing.

Kim: I used to listen to my favorite bands, usually classic rock, but now I find that trying to sing to the songs and write conflicts each other so now it’s more nature music, strings, and crickets.

BC: I avoid music while writing. Music influences my mood and, typically, I like a clean slate, so to speak, when writing. It allows the ideas and words to flow unhindered and unbiased.

 

Has a song ever inspired a story idea for you?

Sara: Oh, definitely. I recently wrote a ten minute play called Tea and Temptation that was inspired by World/Inferno Friendship Society’s “The Evil Dance of Nosliw Pilf.”

Steven: Definitely. Among others I have an idea for what I think will be a great story inspired by the Leonard Cohen song, “First We Take Manhattan.”

Kim: Yes! I love celtic songs and Connie Dover sang “A Ruin a Siuil” (I think I spelled it right!) and it just jazzed me into writing this whole historical romance between a Fenian rebel and a Scarlett O’Hara-esque character who tries to charm the Irish out of the man.

BC: A song has inspired a title for a book. However the story itself came well before I’d ever heard the song. Once I did hear it, I felt that the title and lyrics of the song embodied the same message as my story.

 

Last but not least: who’d win a fight between Princess Toadstool and Zelda?

Sara: Psh. Zelda, for sure.

Kim: Zelda. Totally.

Steven: I have absolutely no idea — I never played any of those games. What’s the spread? 😉

BC: The princess. Hands down.

 

Where to find the books:

Amazon Links for Tales of the Seelie Court  32892-final_talesoftheunseeliecourt_650
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court/dp/1937929477
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Seelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTMAO  

Amazon Links for Tales of the Unseelie Court  
Print Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court/dp/1937929493
Kindle Version http://www.amazon.com/Chimerical-World-Tales-Unseelie-Court-ebook/dp/B00IAHTVSC

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

Hero’s Best Friend Cover Reveal

Yes folks, the cover for the first of three anthologies that I’ve edited has been revealed by Seventh Star Press!

I must say Enggar totally rocked that cover. 🙂

 

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“Seventh Star Press is proud to unveil the new cover art by Enggar Adirasa for the anthology Hero’s Best Friend, edited by Scott M. Sandridge.

 

Featuring 20 tales, from 21 authors, the new anthology features a spectrum of sub-genres in speculative fiction, but all of them contain the common element of a focus upon animal companions. Hero’s Best Friend will be available in eBook format at the end of the first week of February, with the print version to follow one week afterward.

The authors contained in Hero’s Best Friend, and the stories they contributed, are as follows:

Joy Ward: “Toby and Steve Save the World”
Frank Creed: “Dusk”
Cassie Schau: “The Hunter’s Boy”
Steven Donahue: “Grit”
Jason Cordova: “Hill 142”
Herika R. Raymer: “Dook”
Essel Pratt: “Brothers”
Lisa Hawkridge: “Ezra’s Girl”
S. H. Roddey: “Look What the Cat Dragged In”
Steven S. Long: “The Wolf Sentinel”
Laura Anne Ewald: “Memorandum”
Cindy Koepp: “The Hat”
Ian Hunter: “Scarheid in the Glisting”
Steven Grassie: “The Masterless”
David Wright: “Wind of Change”
Renee Carter Hall: “The Emerald Mage”
Nick Bryan: “The Violet Curse”
Lillian Csernica and Kevin Andrew Murphy: “The Restless Armadillo”
Douglas J. Ogurek: “Stuck on the Squigglybounce”
Sheila Deeth: “Passage”

Hero’s Best Friend Synopsis: How far would Gandalf have gotten without Shadowfax? Where would the Vault Dweller be without Dogmeat? And could the Beastmaster been the Beastmaster without his fuzzy allies? Animal companions are more than just sidekicks. Animals can be heroes, too!

Found within are twenty stories of heroic action that focuses on the furries and scalies who have long been the unsung heroes pulling their foolish human buddies out of the fire, and often at great sacrifice—from authors both established and new, including Frank Creed, S. H. Roddey, and Steven S. Long.

Whether you’re a fan of Epic Fantasy, Sword & Sorcery, Science Fiction, or just animal stories in general, this is the anthology for you!

So sit back, kick your feet up, and find out what it truly means to be the Hero’s Best Friend.

About Scott M. Sandridge: Scott M. Sandridge is a writer, editor, blogger, freedom fighter, and all-round trouble-maker.  His works with Seventh Star Press as an editor include the anthologies Hero’s Best FriendA Chimerical World: Tales of the Seelie Court, and A Chimerical World: Tales of the Unseelie Court.

You can find him at https://smsand.wordpress.com

January 30, 2014 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review—Thunder on the Battlefield, Volume Two: Sorcery, Edited by James R. Tuck

Sword & Sorcery is hard to get right, for it is a subgenre defined more by what it isn’t than what it is. While it shares some similarities to its cousins, Epic Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy, the scale is usually nowhere near as epic and the heroes are nowhere near as heroic. In fact, it’s the protagonists that make it so hard to write, for traditionally they tend to be very flawed but not so flawed as to be unlikeable. That’s a precarious balance to keep—a balance that every writer in Thunder on the Battlefield, Volume Two: Sorcery, the second volume in a two-volume anthology, nails with masterful skill.

While the trials and ordeals are well-plotted and challenging, and the settings are grim and gritty, it’s the characters, more than anything, that stand out. You’ll fall in love with the reckless determination of Hunter Mann, in Selah Janel’s “The Ruins of St. Louis.” Fans of D. A. Adams’s Brotherhood of Dwarves series will follow a beloved character’s struggle to escape slavery in “Across the Wilds.” “Black Ice” by S.H. Roddey introduces a warrior woman you’d want to keep on your good side and a Halfling who puts the hero into “sidekick.” And fans of Gorias La Gaul will love Steven L. Shrewsbury’s “The Whore of Jericho.”

But by far the most interesting character is the crusader, Valgard, in “The Two Fires” by Steven S. Long. Rarely in S&S do you encounter a protagonist who wields magic, and an incorrupt priest at that! Few S&S writers can break the classic tropes and get away with it, but Long manages to make it work with ease.

If the first volume is even half as good as this one, and I have no doubt that it is since both volumes share the same editor, then Thunder on the Battlefield is an addition to the subgenre that would make Robert E. Howard’s spirit proud.

Best to read while listening to: soundtracks to Conan the Barbarian and Heavy Metal. Also toss in a little Iron Maiden while you’re at it.

October 6, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Guest Post by Stephen Zimmer – Challenges of Writing Short Stories That Tie Into a Fantasy Series

For the first ever Guest Post done in SpecMusicMuse history, I have the honor of introducing the great Stephen Zimmer, who is both a great author and certainly one of the hardest-working in the field. And if you haven’t heard about him by now, then you need to stop living in a cave.

So, without further ado, hhheeeeeeeerrrreeeeeee’s the Zimmster!

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StephenZimmer-smallI would like to thank Scott Sandridge for the opportunity to be here today on SpecMusicMuse to discuss short story tie-ins with a large series.

Chronicles of Ave, Volume 1, is a collection of stand-alone short stories that are set in the world featured in my Fires in Eden Series.  Readers of the short stories do not need to know anything about the Fires in Eden novels to enjoy these tales.

However, readers of the Fires in Eden Series will find more depth and content relating in some way to the novels, whether it be the backstory on a figure referenced in the series, more about a place or culture that are not yet shown in the series, or a historical event that might be simply mentioned in one of the novels.

In developing the history of Ave, and writing the Fires in Eden novels such as Crown of Vengeance, Dream of Legends, and Spirit of Fire, I have created a trove of material for short stories.  There are so many things about Ave that cannot be delved into during the novels, as to do so would take things on a sideways tangent from the course of the various story threads.  The short stories afford me the opportunity to immerse into those references, whether they relate to a figure, land, or historical event.

In writing these kinds of short stories, I find myself gaining an even deeper foundation for my series and the elements within it.  So, in a sense, it strengthens the process of writing for the novels too.

There are a few specific challenges involved in writing a short story related to a series.

For one thing, the nature of the short story itself presents its own challenges versus the writing of a large novel.   In my novels, I work with multiple story threads, and I have the kind of range and depth in a multi-book structure to plant seeds, foreshadow, let things take shape and develop, and build towards big payoffs down the line.

In a short story, the structure employed is much more linear, following one character, sometimes two.   With a much shorter structure, the plot, main character, and setting must unfold much faster.  You do not have the range of space to include the kinds of foreshadowing, twists, and turns that an epic-scale novel can contain.   You must connect with the reader fast, establishing  a tone and pace that will carry you through that particular story.

As mentioned before, I also work to make sure that the stories do stand on their own, so that a brand new reader who has not read any of the novels can understand everything taking place.  This sounds kind of obvious, at first, but after writing several novels it is possible to make assumptions on the things native to the world of Ave.  I keep an eye out for that and feel that new readers will have no problems whatsoever discovering the world of Ave if their first encounter with it is through the short stories.

Also important to me is to select cultures, lands, historical events and characters that will provide further content and depth for the readers of the series.  I want this to be their chance to explore some of the things that can only be mentioned or referenced briefly in the novels, and to gain more background on how Ave’s history developed.

With Chronicles of Ave I am confident that I have achieved that.  Readers will get to visit a diverse array of settings, from a medieval China style atmosphere in “Touch of Serenity” to the wintry forests of an Eastern European-like vibe in “Winter’s Embrace”.  “Into Glory Ride” is a story focused on the fully original Trogen race, and two non-human races that have not yet appeared in the novels are introduced in “Land of Shadow.”   There is even a little romance, in “Moonlight’s Grace”, and a flare of the heroic in “Lion Heart”, which takes inspiration from the Zulu Nation.

Loaded with action, fully stand-alone in nature, and each distinctive in terms of plot and main characters, the Chronicles of Ave serve as a nice introduction to the world of Ave.  I really hope both new readers and readers of my series find the adventures equally enjoyable!

Stephen

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Stephen Zimmer is an award-winning author of speculative fiction, whose works include the Fires in Eden Series (Epic Fantasy), the Rising Dawn Saga (epic-scale Urban Fantasy), the Harvey and Solomon tales (Steampunk), the Hellscapes tales (Horror), and the Rayden Valkyrie tales (Sword and Sorcery). He is also a writer-director in moviemaking, with feature and short film credits such as Shadows Light, The Sirens, and Swordbearer.

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Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/AuthorFilmmaker-Stephen-Zimmer/221620254562078

Twitter: @sgzimmer

Website: http://www.stephenzimmer.com

Blog: stephenzimmer.blogspot.com

October 5, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , | 2 Comments

SpecMusicMuse Review—The God Killers by John F. Allen

The God Killers by John F. Allen brings Urban to Urban Fantasy. Set in both Chicago and New Orleans, Allen manages to breathe supernatural life to both cities in a believable manner without sacrificing the real world “feel” of the actual cities.

That being said, while the overall story was great; a good blend of action, character depth and complexity, and some pretty cool plot twists; it was a mixed bag for me in some specific parts. Some parts I loved. Other parts almost disrupted my suspension of disbelief.

Ivory Blaque, the main character, has a depth and complexity in her character that’s rarely found in the Urban Fantasy/Supernatural Romance subgenres. The only other character I’m aware of that can even compare, when it comes to character depth, would be Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty Norville. But when it comes to sheer attitude and ass-kicking ability, Ivory has them all beat.

The absolute best scene in the novel is the Wild West style duel between Ivory and Johnny. In that scene Allen shows his ability to take a classic (and often clichéd) trope and give it a twist that would make Joss Whedon applaud.

But then there was those moments when POV got broken, like when the God Killers got referred to as the God Killers beforeGodKillers-Interior1 Ivory would have known that’s what they were called. And then there was the nightclub scene when the short black woman was suddenly, a paragraph or two later, a tall black woman. Last but not least, it also felt as if Allen continued the story onward after this novel should have ended, and the last “cliffhanger” chapter would’ve been better off being the first chapter to the upcoming (I hope) second novel.

But in spite of the small, but glaring, nitpicks, I still enjoyed reading The God Killers and find Ivory Blaque to be a fascinating character who I would love to read more of.

Best to read while listening to: A little Midnight Syndicate (for all those vampires), some Metallica and Megadeth (for all those werewolves), with a little hip hip (preferably Ice T and some Ice Cube…actually, there’s only Ice T and Ice Cube, all the rest are Vanilla Ice-wannabee posers), and good old-fashioned Jazz. Oh yeah, definitely Jazz. And toss in a Detective Noir soundtrack and a dash of Aeon Flux theme songs for Ivory.

September 24, 2013 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , | Leave a comment

Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Revealed

Cool cover, bro!

 

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Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy Cover Revealed

Seventh Star Press is proud to reveal the new cover created by award-winning artist Matthew Perry for the upcoming release of the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Developed by Bram Stoker Award-winning editor Michael Knost, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy is a treasure trove for writers of all levels looking to develop their craft in the speculative fiction genres.  Featuring contributions from several of the best speculative fiction authors in the world such as Neil Gaiman, Orson Scott Card, Harry Turtledove, James Gunn, Alan Dean Foster, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joe Haldeman, Kevin J. Anderson, Tim Powers, Mike Resnick, and many, many more, the book features a wealth of essays and interviews focusing on the writing craft as it pertains to the genres of fantasy and science fiction.

Slated for a late February release in eBook and a trade paperback release following soon after, the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy will be an important contribution to the speculative fiction literary community.  Whether just beginning a writing journey or extensively published, writers of all degrees of experience are certain to find this book to be an invaluable reference source.

For further information on the Seventh Star Press and its titles such as the Writers Workshop of Science Fiction and Fantasy, please visit http://www.seventhstarpress.com

January 30, 2013 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment