Friday, February 23, 2018

The Three Most Famous-est Authors I've Ever Met

A Post By Jonathan


I'm a whole day late on my blog post, but it's okay. I forgive myself. I thought I would have more time to write during this business trip I'm on, but alas, not so much. And considering I had to boot a video game playing teenager off the hotel's sole business center computer to get this written, I'm lucky it wasn't a few days later...

Anyway, I've been thinking about writing on this topic for a little while, and the recent success of one of the writers I follow prompted me to finally pen it. My only hesitation was that it might come off a tad pretentious, but everyone loves to play the which famous celebrities have you met game, so why not apply this to authors? I mean, most of us aspiring authors out there hope to someday become household names or have a movie made from our books, so why not just go ahead an admit it/spotlight it?

Of course, no author is more famous than my colleagues here at Across the Board, though believe it or not, I have yet to meet a one of them in person, so unfortunately they don't fit the parameters! Guys, we have to get some kind of five year reunion (union?) in the works... Until then, and without further ado, I present to you the three most famous authors I've ever met, in no particular order. My hope is that you, dear readers, will list the famous authors you've met (and hopefully one-up me) in the comments below.

Famous Author #1: Orson Scott Card


Orson Scott Card is by far the most famous author I have ever met. Believe it or not, he was the first author I ever met!

Right around the time I first started writing fiction, I was lucky enough to be working at a university that hosted a writing conference, where Card was the keynote speaker. By that time I had already read Ender's Game (and the other books in the series) and was already a big fan.

Surprisingly, not a lot of people seemed to recognize him, or were aware of his work, so I had a little bit of time to ask him questions and get a book (Ender's Game of course) signed by him.

Actually, I was a little too nervous to ask any questions, but I did tell him that I was a huge fan of his work and that he was the reason why I "try" to write.

He was like, "Write or do not write. There is no try." More so, he said, "You try to write? You mean you put pen to paper and it just won't move?"

It was a little embarrassing, but what the heck, I was starstruck! He signed my book, "A survival guide for geniuses." So freakin' cool!

Card is the author of many science fiction and fantasy novels. If you have never read his books, I highly recommend you do. His book on writing, "How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy" is excellent as well.

Famous Author #2: Karen Dionne

I have mentioned the formerly awesome forums at the now defunct bksp.org. Much of the reason they are defunct is because their founder, Karen Dionne, hit the big time with her recent book, The Marsh King's Daughter and no longer had the time or resources to designate to the running of the site.



They are actually making a movie out of the book starring Alicia Vikander. She won the Oscar for her role in The Danish Girl and is playing Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider reboot. She was also the star of Ex Machina, a totally awesome Sci Fi flick.

I met Karen at the Backspace A Writer's Place conference in New York City. She probably remembers me best for the dude who lost his cell phone and kept bugging me about it. She found it by the way.

Anyway, she is an amazing woman and was amazingly nice to me-- and supportive of my writing and writing concerns on bksp.org. As sad as I am that that site is gone, I am super happy for Karen and her success.

Famous Author #3: A.S. King

I met A.S. King at the same conference where I met Karen (I haven't been out much since then;). She was one of the panelists at one of the sessions I attended and we talked a little afterwards. I again stuck my foot in my mouth when I called her "Stella", which is the name she went by on the forums, instead of A.S. She was very nice about it and told me she understood the confusion. 

Anyway, she had only published a couple of books by that point, but now she is described as "one of the best .Y.A. Writers working today" by the New York Times Review. Her titles include, The Dust of 100 Dogs (which I loved), Still Life with Tornado, I Crawl Through It and more.  

She has won the Michael L. Printz Honor, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, The Amelia Walden Award, and The Carolyn Field Award. 

It's authors like her, and Karen, and Orson who inspire me and let me know that if I keep working toward my goal I too can achieve unequivocal success one day. 

That's my list, please leave yours, and thanks for reading! Now there is another person who's hovering around computer, so I gots to go. 

Cheers all!


Monday, February 19, 2018

Interview with Lisa Morton, President of the HWA

Another quality post brought to you by Steve!
amazon.com/author/kozeniewski

Happy Presidents Day, everybody!  For those of you who don't know, February is Women in Horror Month.  You can stop by my personal blog, Manuscripts Burn, to see about a dozen great interviews.  But I thought I'd like to share this celebration with my ATB family as well.  So as a very special Presidents Day treat, I bring you the president of the Horror Writers Association, the very talented Lisa Morton!

About Lisa Morton:


Credit: Seth Ryan

Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”.  She is the author of four novels and more than 130 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, and a world-class Halloween expert who has been interviewed by "The Wall Street Journal," "Real Simple Magazine," and The History Channel (for "The Real Story of Halloween.") She co-edited (with Ellen Datlow) the anthology HAUNTED NIGHTS, which received a starred review in "Publishers Weekly;" other recent releases include GHOSTS: A HAUNTED HISTORY and the collection THE SAMHANACH AND OTHER HALLOWEEN TREATS. Lisa lives in the San Fernando Valley and online at www.lisamorton.com.

You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

Interview:


SK: How are you involved in the world of horror?

LM:  I'm an author of both fiction and non-fiction, I'm a Halloween expert, I'm a reader and fan, and I currently serve as President of the Horror Writers Association.


SK: Who or what terrifies you?

LM:  The looming possibility of spending my old age lost in dementia. I've taken care of my mom for a long time, and dealing with her dementia has been terrifying. I spent almost three years as her live-in caregiver, and there were nights when I'd awake to find her standing over my bed in the dark, so when I say "terrifying", I'm not kidding!


SK: Are there unique challenges to being a woman in horror or do you feel like gender is irrelevant?

There are unique challenges to being a woman in EVERYTHING. The only extra problem with horror is that we are working in a genre that has often been identified in the past with rape and torture of women, but fortunately I think we've moved largely beyond that, due in no small part to how many excellent women writers have come onto the horror scene in the last few years.


SK: Who are your favorite female horror icons?

LM:  
Mary Shelley, of course - isn't it mindblowing to think that she wrote FRANKENSTEIN as a teenager?  Shirley Jackson, who wrote what many of us consider to be the finest opening passage of any horror novel ever (for THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE). (SK:  This is a legendary passage in horror circles, well worth quoting here:  "No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood for eighty years and might stand for eighty more.")  And Ann Radcliffe, who really established the genre of Gothic literature and whose books have been continuously in print for over two centuries.

SK: What are you working on/promoting currently? Why should folks check it out?

LM:  Right now I'm waiting for contracts on two different books to come through - one an anthology of classic ghost stories, the other a coffee table art book - so I suspect those projects will eat up most of my 2018. From 2017...I'm still reeling from the success of 
HAUNTED NIGHTS, an anthology of horror-themed original short stories that I had the pleasure of co-editing with Ellen Datlow for the Horror Writers Association. The book received raves from "Publishers Weekly," "Locus," "Rue Morgue"...well, pretty much everyone! It was a really a dream project for me.

About HAUNTED NIGHTS:


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Sixteen never-before-published chilling tales that explore every aspect of our darkest holiday, Halloween, co-edited by Ellen Datlow, one of the most successful and respected genre editors, and Lisa Morton, a leading authority on Halloween.

In addition to stories about scheming jack-o'-lanterns, vengeful ghosts, otherworldly changelings, disturbingly realistic haunted attractions, masks that cover terrifying faces, murderous urban legends, parties gone bad, cult Halloween movies, and trick or treating in the future, Haunted Nights also offers terrifying and mind-bending explorations of related holidays like All Souls' Day, Dia de los Muertos, and Devil's Night. 

-With Graveyard Weeds and Wolfbane Seeds- by Seanan McGuire
-Dirtmouth- by Stephen Graham Jones-
-A Small Taste of the Old Countr- by Jonathan Maberry
-Wick's End- by Joanna Parypinski
-The Seventeen Year Itch- by Garth Nix
-A Flicker of Light on Devil's Night- by Kate Jonez
-Witch-Hazel- by Jeffrey Ford
-Nos Galen Gaeaf- by Kelley Armstrong
-We're Never Inviting Amber Again- by S. P. Miskowski
-Sisters- by Brian Evenson
-All Through the Night- by Elise Forier Edie
-A Kingdom of Sugar Skulls and Marigolds- by Eric J. Guignard
-The Turn- by Paul Kane
-Jack- by Pat Cadigan
-Lost in the Dark- by John Langan
-The First Lunar Halloween- by John R. Little

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Overdue

     The New Orleans Public Library emailed me today.  "The Girl In The Show" by Kate Fleming is three days overdue and fines are being added to my account.  My email account is full of such notices lately.  This book looked so good.  I've been doing more stand-up comedy as of late, and there is a very supportive group of female comedians down here, so I felt this book calling to me with its kitschy font the second I saw it on the shelves.  But in the month or so I've had it, I've only just gotten past the introduction part.  I renewed it just now, but I'm not that hopeful I'll get much further into it.  As I've said, I had been taking books onto the stationary bike at the local rec center, but I haven't been there but once or twice lately, and I just signed up for a post-Mardi Gras exercise intensive to try to get a little bit back into shape, so that's going to be my exercise time.

     Honestly, in the past six months, finding the time to read has been a tremendous challenge.  Last summer my life was thrown into complete and utter chaos due to circumstances related to my divorce and child custody.  I continued to post while not able to reside in my own home in August, continued to post while my personal life fell apart, continued to post while the legal nightmare stretched on and on.  Creative outlets are so important to me when my life is in a disarray.  When my marriage first broke irreparably three years ago, it was improv shows that gave me a reason and way to pull myself together, because the show must go on.  Last summer, this blog was one of the things that helped me continue to move forward.  But as the chaos lessens but branches out and mutates, I find it very difficult to make the time investment required to be a resident reader, and I feel that I owe it to the readers of this blog and myself to either do better or take a break.  It's not that I'm in a threat level red crisis anymore, because I'm not.  Most days I'm very happy and life is functioning fine.  It's just that I have so many things going on, so many other responsibilities involved in making my life and my four children's lives the best they can be, that I can't really devote the time to doing the required reading and writing to make this blog the best it can be.  I will likely revisit this, if you all will still have me, once my post-baccalaureate program is done later in the spring.  Thank you for the space to write here, and hope to see you all again soon.

Abby

Monday, February 12, 2018

Love in a Hundred Years

By Cheryl Oreglia  




The last time Valentine's Day landed on Ash Wednesday and Easter fell on Aprils Fool's Day was in 1945. I read that the Detroit Tigers won a World Series that year, but that's beside the point, and has not been verified. 

Being of the female persuasion I look forward to flowers, chocolates, dining out, and maybe even some champagne on Valentine's Day so this will make my Lenten sacrifice a bit tricky? Ash Wednesday traditionally marks the start of the season of Lent, a 40-day period that Jesus spent in the wilderness. A time of reflection, prayer, and penance. The irony is rich. 

On April Fool's Day, while my children will be participating in an IPA hunt in celebration of Easter, my husband will be attempting to blow out fifty-eight candles in a single breath. He was born on April Fool's Day, the same day we'll be celebrating the birth of the Church, and new life so to speak. I'm simply captivated by the texture of things that coincide this year - a crucible of love, faith, and parturition. 

So that got me thinking about the relationship between love and sacrifice. Right? I read a blog that concluded the healthiest couples look for the best in each other, love unconditionally, and accept each other for not only who they are, but who they are becoming. Sweet in theory, but love is complicated, "like a box of chocolates." 

Which got me thinking about modern day love vs love in the future. We now have dating apps that connect those looking for love by simply swiping up. It's a real thing. You only get to do that once in a while therefore limiting your preferences to a select few. If modern love is dependent on downloaded apps what will it look like in the future? 

You had to ask.

1. The first thing I discovered in searching futuristic trends is the decline in languages. They predict in a hundred years only three languages will prevail: English, Spanish, and Mandarin. Minor languages are dying out at a fast pace including most of the romance languages: Portuguese, French, Italian, and Romanian. I love you will be limited to three versions. Time to touch up on your Spanish and Mandarin people! Te Amo, Te Iubesc, if you want to say I love you in the future. 

2. You can forget languages altogether, because we might have the ability to communicate telepathically, or through something known as thought transmission. Picking up on someone else's thoughts is highly likely in the near future. Synthetic telepathy is possible if we can learn to interpret electrical signals rather than words. If thoughts are just electrical impulses they can be captured not unlike storing something on the net. In the future learning to control your thoughts might be imperative especially in close relationships. Can you just imagine futuristic arguments, instead of yelling, we'll be slamming each other with a series of electrical thoughts. Shocking. 

3. Another alarming trend that will challenge our most intimate relationships is Nanorobots which will allow our memories to be recorded. Nanorobots are well within the realm of possibility but currently only exist in theory. A popular Netflix show call Black Mirror has an episode dedicated to this new technology. Relationships will be under a lot of scrutiny in the future, gossiping with the ladies at Bunco will be a thing of the past, along with ice runs for the guys. 


4. It is also completely possible that our brains will be wired to computers for increased functionality in the next forty years. Cell phones already supplement our knowledge base but in the future they'll be embedded. Have you seen the movie Her where a man falls in love with his OS. They say by 2075 most people in the developed world will use machine augmentation of some sort to increase the capacity of their brains. I already have a mountain of things to compete with for his attention, including football, but now a savvy OS? Talk about a crowded relationship? 


5. In the near future you might be able to honeymoon on Mars, or the Moon, because something called space elevators will make space travel cheap and easy. Cheap is a relative term, because in the near future only the rich will be able to afford this technology, but eventually it will trickle down to the masses (especially when they need workers to domesticate the raw land and clean the spaceships). This takes traveling abroad to a whole new level. "Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man (woman) has gone before," might be a real thing. Colonizing other planets will not only separate our species, but how will this change our evolution, and the way we love? 

5. Because people will be living past one hundred years of age marriage contracts will become common in the future. This is a weaker form of marriage designed to last a decade or two rather than a lifetime. Traditional marriage will always be an option but with increasing longevity this might prove to be a challenge. These contracts will allow people to enter into a long term commitment without the fear of financial ruin when the relationships ends. We currently have prenuptial agreements to compensate for a financial imbalance before you enter into a marriage but we're also seeing a decline in matrimony all together. Couples are opting to live together and raise children without the traditional constraints of marriage. It's not for me even if I live to 103 (that could be the first line of a modern day love note).

6. Due to the rise of infertility most women will be impregnated artificially in the future. This doesn't sound nearly as fun as the old-fashioned way. Couples will be able to choose advanced fertility techniques for genetic diagnosis. An artificially inseminated embryo can be selected for a desirable sex along with eliminating congenital illnesses. We can already screen for many congenital illnesses prior to embryo implantation, but this will allow families (mostly wealthy) in the future to avoid common genetic diseases, like breast cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. You'll be able to decide on the sex of your children, spacing, health, intelligence, and eye color. What will the nuclear family look like in the future?

7. I saved the best for last, robotic engineering, which will allow for incredibly intelligent humans, who are immortal. Most likely this will start out by keeping people alive (those who can afford it that is) artificially until electronic immortality technology is available. "The idea that breakthroughs in the field of genetics, biotechnology and artificial intelligence will expand human intelligence and allow our species to essentially defeat death is sometimes called the Singularity," claims Patrick Tucker. Deciding on a spouse becomes ever so important, because never before has marriage been eternal, "unto death do you part" has been the common biblical wisdom.




What are your thoughts around the future of romantic love? 







When I'm not posting at ATB, I'm Living in the Gap, drop by anytime. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Embarrassed? Don't Worry - There's a Romance Novel For That

Earlier this week, Real Simple published an article titled 7 Romance Novels You Won't Feel Embarrassed About Reading. As if the title weren't bad enough, they took their recs from The Ripped Bodice, a romance-only online and brick-and-mortar bookstore based in California, but linked to Amazon in their article. Were they embarrassed to be linking to a bookstore that specializes in a "trashy, lowbrow" genre (their words, not mine) or was it laziness? Hard to say, but with the implication that you could/should/would feel embarrassed reading romance novels, it's (ridiculously) easy to make assumptions, right?

Also earlier this week, Doritos announced that they are launching a special crisp for ladies that "doesn't crunch as loudly. The official statement:



There's that word again. Embarrassed. For those keeping score at home, we women are embarrassed by what we read and what we eat. And if we're not, maybe we're not woman-ing right? No one's saying that, but they're not NOT saying it either.

Of course, women are plenty embarrassed without anyone telling us what we ought to be embarrassed about. We're embarrassed about what we wear -- or at least what size we wear it in. According to the Women's Equality Party in the UK, one in five women in Britain cut their labels out of their clothes because they're ashamed of their size. Then there's the more serious things that make us blush. A recent study in the UK shows that women aren't going for their smear tests/pap smears because we're embarrassed, despite the fact that cervical cancer is the most common form of cancer in women under 35. I even read one article that said 50% of women are embarrassed about their feet.


Really. Their feet.


It makes me sad, because I don't know a single woman who was born ashamed. It's something we learn, a diet we're fed from a very young age. By the media, yes, but also by society and by not-so-well-meaning people around us. According to Common Sense Media, by the age of 6, children are aware of dieting and may have tried it. I don't know about you, but that makes me way sadder than women disliking their feet. 


However. In this age of #metoo and the powerful representation of women at Women's Marches around the world, women are also saying, "I am not embarrassed and I will not let you shame me." 

You know where else they're saying that? In romance novels. By the damn truck load. 


Far from being a guilty pleasure (another popular moniker for the genre), in the romance novel, women have agency, choice and power. As author Sarina Bowen says in her recent article for Kobo WritingLife, "{The protagonist} may or may not be straight, genderqueer, LGBTQ, asexual or interested in kink. But by page 300 she will own her own choices, and demand that her partner does the same."

In other words, romance novel heroines are just that. Heroines. Women with real feelings and issues who get their happily ever after or happy for now, because that is the explicit guarantee of the romance genre. Regardless of their consumption of junk food, weight issues or feet, the protagonist of the romance novel gets her happy ending, dammit. 

I don't know about you, but I see nothing trashy or low brow about that.

I'll leave you with a few romance reading recs, chosen for (obvious) reasons and, of course, best enjoyed with a bag of Doritos. Make sure you get the broken chips at the bottom, too. I promise you, they're the best part.


Monday, February 5, 2018

Google Search: Why are writers...

A post by Mary Fan
Hey everyone! Mary here, and it's my turn to do another Google Search! Last time, I answered all your pressing questions about Chinese people. This time, I'll be tackling your questions about writers! Because why not?

So how this works is that I type something into Google and see what the predictive text comes up with. After that, I guess it's up to me.

So, let's see what people have been asking about writers...





Hmm. Interesting. Well, as a writer, I am totally qualified to answer these questions about all other writers. Here we go:

Why are writers so weird?
As you may have noticed, writers are not ordinary human beings. You see, ordinary humans live in one world. We'll call it Earth Prime. Writers, on the other hand, are multidimensional beings. For the most parts, their bodies remain on Earth Prime, where they live, eat, go to the grocery store, etc. But their minds actually exist in alternate dimensions. Some of these resemble ours pretty closely. Others are totally whackadoo, with faster-than-light spaceships piloted by alien queens or hot guys who shapeshift into bloodthirsty monsters... and those are some of the more normal ones. As you can imagine, living in one dimension while existing in many can be quite difficult. So sometimes writers manifest odd behaviors as a result.

Why are writers important?
Because we are multidimensional deities who can create or destroy worlds with the stroke of a pen. Worship us.

Why are writers so sad?
Despite our superpowers, our physical beings are stuck on Earth Prime. This can be quite distressing.

Why are writers so smart?
Existing in so many dimensions takes a lot of brainpower--more than that of an ordinary human. Writers must grow their brainpower by eating the brains of others. Before you get too alarmed--don't worry, your brain grows back. In fact, a writer has probably already feasted on your brains to increase their own intelligence, and you didn't even notice. They're very good at sneaking up on you while you're sleeping, sticking a straw into your skull, and sucking up the gray goodness. You might have a slight headache when you wake up, but like I said, your brain will grow back while the writer gains intelligence. No harm, no foul.

Why are writers reclusive?
Now and then, writers burst from their corporeal forms into beings of pure energy and fly into their alternate dimensions. When this happens, they're likely to incinerate any other human within a certain radius. It is for your own safety that writers isolate themselves, so that they may combust in peace.

Why are writers weird?
See the answer to the first question. Really, Google.

Why are writers drunks?
Writers require certain substances to maintain their corporeal forms. Otherwise, they'd be giant balls of energy bouncing between dimensions all the time. One of these substances is alcohol. Another common one is caffeine. On days when they're writing, the average writer must consume as much of either or both of these substances as the entire state of Arizona, excluding any writers existing there, could in a year.

There you have it: the answers to your questions about writers! Now, if you don't mind, I must go imbibe some alcohol before I burst into a ball of energy again...

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Picking a winner: Kindle Scout

Hello, lovely readers. I was scheduled today to do a Back Jacket Hack Job, but alas, I'm going off book (pun!) to self-promote. I know, for shame. But seriously, folks, I could use your help.

Two years ago, I wrote a blog post about Kindle Scout. You can read it more in-depth here, or if you don't want to, I'll do a TL;DR thing.

Basically, Kindle Scout is Amazon's crowd-sourcing publishing imprint. Readers, like yourself, nominate books they like based off the cover, blurb, and excerpt. If Amazon's editorial team at Kindle Press like the book, they acquire it. The author gets another dose of edits, an advance, and marketing support, and the readers who nominated the title get the whole damn book for free.

I won my last campaign in 2016 for my spooky YA mystery Dead and Breakfast (which you can check out here). It took two years (to be fair, I wrote another book in between), but I'm back with the second book in the series Ghost and Found (I do pat myself on the back frequently for my clever titles), and the campaign could use some help.

Books that are frequently viewed and nominated get put in the Hot and Trending category. This gives the book extra visibility and nominations. So help me out and nominate it. Tell others to nominate it. If I get picked, you get the book for free. It's a win-win deal.

Here's a tweet I drafted if you'd like to copy and paste this bad boy into Twitter....

You like ghosts and gangsters? Then nominate Ghost and Found on Kindle Scout. If it wins, you get the book for free. @KGGiarratano #kindlescout https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1OSY20EKYZUBY

 And thank you to everyone who has supported the series. I'm so encouraged by the support.
 
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