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SJ Reads: Creative Edition

Published March 22, 2016 by admin

So I’ve been reading a ton lately, and figured that it would be good to go back to these posts. I’m trying to group by theme, and feature the ones that I think are the most beneficial/best examples of the genre – or if I’m not all about them, then use them as an example of their high and not-so-high points.

Today, we’ll be looking at books on being creative: whether that means marketing, writing, or whatever, that’s up to whatever I’m connecting with at the moment.

Steal like an Artist by Austin Kleon – I love this book. This makes me excited to do things, and it’s a really fast read. It will get you motivated, whether through his advice or unique poetry. There’s a lot of practical advice, and although it’s a short, fast read, the author isn’t just giving out sound bites. I felt altogether better after I read it, which is a big plus.

Show your Work by Austin Kleon – I bought this after I had done a store signing,and I’m actually still reading it. Maybe it’s because this is where I have a harder time, but it’s a more slow-going book for me. However, I still love his positive vibe and that this book reads more like talking to an actual person than someone touting around a bunch of titles or whatever. I value the words in the book because the author comes across as so normal and group-oriented.

The Author’s Guide to Marketing With Teeth edited by Michael Knost – This is a Stoker nominee for a reason. The draw is that it combines a lot of essays and interviews by famous/well-to-do authors about promotion, but don’t ignore Michael’s intros and interludes, because not only does he know his stuff, but he’s articulate and puts it in an approachable form. This goes over a lot of basic things that people tend to forget about, and it’s great to have in one volume.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert – I love Liz Gilbert’s stuff anyway, but this was the book I’ve been waiting for. I’m still reading it, but her upbeat, loving nature shines through every page. She uses a lot of her personal experience or experience of those around her, and addresses a lot of personal moments, like how to handle fear, what role creativity actually has in your life, and on and on. It’s one of those that I know I’m going to read repeatedly, because I can feel myself emotionally plugging in the moment I open it.

The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer – Another one I’m still in process with, because a lot of it strikes a chord with me. Written after her TED talk on the same subject matter, Palmer goes through her career and talks a lot about her own artistic journey, her relationship with her fans, and leaning on others in different forms. Powerful stuff.

 

Book tour: Death’s Dance by Crymsyn Hart

Published August 21, 2014 by admin

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It’s tour time! I’m stoked to have my pal Crymsyn Hart on my blog with her latest book, Death’s Dance! We’ll hear from her in a moment, but first let’s check out the title – c’mon, you know how things work round these parts by now!

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Amazon           Barnes & Noble          Kobo

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.

***

Top Ten Versions of Death

                Death comes in many forms. And it is hard to narrow down the personifications of death into ten different things. Since Death comes in different mediums I’m going to list my top ten in movies, books, and in art. I’ve come across many different paintings and artwork that to me show what death would look like. I don’t view Death as a scary thing, but as a helper even if his visage might be frightening. You’re probably going to think I’m macabre, but I’m not. I just have an affinity for grim reapers.

 

  1. The Golem of Azrael by Leliah Wendell
  2. Azrael by Joseph Vargo
  3. My Soul to Reap posted by Emma
  4. Kiss of Death Statue at the Old Graveyard of Poblenou in Barcelona
  5. Death from the Final Destination movies
  6. The Gift by Leliah Wendell
  7. Shadows by Joseph Vargo
  8. On A Pale Horse by Piers Anthony
  9. Azriel – The Angel of Death by Ruth Thompson
  10. Cat Magic by Whitley Strieber

CrymsynHart

Crymsyn 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: http://www.amazon.com/Crymsyn-Hart/e/B002BMJ1Z0/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1405515745&sr=8-1

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It’s the MMP Anniversary Sale!

Published July 13, 2014 by admin

Looking for some e-books to fill your Kindle or Nook? Want to stock up on romance and select horror and holiday titles? Want to be considered for some great giveaways? Then look no further! Mocha Memoirs Press has got you covered!

For information on the giveaway (which includes select horror and romance titles, as well as swag), and select sales on parts of the catalog, be sure to check out this mmp blog link!

 

For information on the sale on speculative titles, check out this link!

 

Now  Mooner and The Other Man are MMP titles, but my story, Holly and Ivy, is on sale for $0.99 as part of the Christmas in July sale! Check it out now to beat the heat, or save it for December!

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Amazon     Barnes and Noble   Mocha Memoirs Press Store

After losing her job and her boyfriend, Holly returns to her parents’ farm. Embarrassed and hopeless, she doesn’t expect to bump into a forgotten childhood friend that wasn’t supposed to exist. Ivy is not only a dryad, but she lives in the pine trees Holly’s family grows to sell at Christmas. As the old friends reconnect, Ivy not only shares her strong oninions, but gives Holly a charm that will change both their lives. As days melt into weeks and the seasons change, Holly’s life magically turns around. Christmas not only brings surprises, but a choice for the human woman. What’s more important: stability, success, and love, or keepinga promise to an old friend?

G Tom Mac on The Star Chamber Show!

Published July 8, 2014 by admin

 

 

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It’s not often you get to actually interact or interview one of your inspirations, but I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity tomorrow (Wednesday, July 9). Join us 9PM EST on The Star Chamber Show when we put G Tom Mac in the hot seat and ask him about his songwriting, his upcoming game and movie projects, and whatever else strikes our fancy! I feel like I mention G every time I do a panel or an interview and I’m asked who I listen to when I write. This guy is a source for a lot of the music I listen to when I work on character development for my urban fantasy pieces. His songs are dreamy, dark, hopeful, and every type of emotional time capsule in between. It’s a thrill to have his time for an hour, so y’all better show up and make it worth his while! We’ll be taking guest call-ins and will be keeping an eye on the blog talk radio chat and twitter.

And if you have any doubt about this man’s credentials, may I hit you in the face with his bio…

In writing, singing & creating the masterpiece “Cry Little Sister” singing as the theme song to the now classic film “THE LOST BOYS,” GERARD McMANN hit a deep & provocative nerve in his artistic career of creativity in doing so.

Only thing was, when the film released in 1987, he was fed up with the music scene’s “business” and stopped touring. He then changed his name to G TOM MAC as a result of no one ever pronouncing his real name correctly.

G Tom Mac went on to write songs for legendary singers such as Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin and Roger Daltrey of The Who. An array of contemporary Hip Hop artists, such as Ice Cube and Digable Planets, as well as KISSCarly Simon and Eminem started to cover G Tom Mac’s songs. Last year, G Tom Mac earned a Grammy on EMINEM’S “RECOVERY” album in which Eminem sampled him in the song “You’re Never Over.”

Having had songs in over 50 films & more than 100 TV shows that still continue to license G Tom Mac’s music, it all adds up to in his words “staying fresh and being true to my fans in creating believable music that they feel from me. That’s my thrill!”

After 6 album releases, G Tom Mac opens yet another chapter with his NEW album “UNTAME the SONGS” that has already been received & talked about as one of the best albums of the year.

***

Tune in Wed, July 9, 9PM EST when G Tom Mac rocks The Star Chamber Show! 

Check out G’s Website and Music!

 

TCM Presents: Hades’ Disciples by Michael West

Published July 7, 2014 by admin

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I’m really excited to finally (FINALLY) get my bud Michael West on here to talk about writing. Before I ever met him I was orbiting him for years, and I’m pretty sure there was at least one convention where I was too scared to death to talk to him because he was so far ahead of me and I never thought I’d ever get a project picked up by a publisher, let alone be able to sell anything. And now he has to talk to me every week, mwahahahaha. This is all part of my master plan…

Anyway, he has book 2 of the Legacy of the Gods series out (finally :D), and he is here today!

 

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print               kindle

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.

 

***

SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?

MW: I do a bit of both, actually.  I do some outlining, but the characters really dictate what happens.  In the past, I’ve planned to kill off characters only to have them do something totally unexpected and live.  And in one case, my novel Spook House, the intended victim ended up being one of the stars of the story.

SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?

MW: Nothing too weird, but I do like it to be as dark as possible when I write, so I close all the blinds and turn out all the lights.

SJ: Do you believe in the muse?

MW: I do.  My muse is very temperamental, and she comes and goes as she pleases. 

SJ: Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?

MW: I do dream some ideas, and many of them come to me in the shower, in that foggy twilight between sleep and being totally alert.

SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien?  

MW: She’s a spirited redhead with fairy wings, and she likes to read a lot.

SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?

MW: I don’t really play favorites.  I always think that the last thing I wrote is the best thing I’ve ever written.  That said, however, I do have a special place in my heart for the story “Jiki.”  And my story “Goodnight” is one that I read aloud a lot when asked to do readings.  As far as novels go, The Wide Game captures my teenage years pretty well.  There were no demons or murders, mind you, but it is probably the closest thing to an autobiography that I’ve ever written.

SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?

MW: I write Sci-fi and Fantasy, but Horror has always been a part of my life.  It’s what I love to read, what I like to watch, and what I will always love to write.

SJ: What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?

MW: I hate clumsy dialogue and weak female characters.  I think everyone has an inner strength, they just need the right circumstances to bring it out.  And people who write bad dialogue have either never heard people talk, or they never took the time to read the words out loud.  I always read my dialogue aloud.  If it doesn’t sound real, I re-write it until it does. (Ed. from SJ- THIS – SO THIS! TAKE THIS TO HEART, WORLD!)

SJ: If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?

MW: I would love to be one of Poseidon’s Children or Hades’ Disciples, be able to change shape at will and swim into the depths or take flight.  I think that would be amazing.

SJ: If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why?

MW: I would probably pick “Goodnight,” because that has a very positive message on love and everlasting life.  Or maybe “Hell’s Hollow.”  I think it would be fun to visit that festival once in a while.

SJ: An enemy?

MW: I would love to feed them to Jiki, my Japanese demon.

SJ: Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?

MW: I don’t think there is a sure-fire formula.  There are hacks who have become wealthier than Midas, and great artist who have never seen their works published.  I just write what I want to read, and I have worked hard to find the right homes for my creations, supportive editors and publishers who are as passionate about my work as I am.

SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?

MW: Writing is hard work.  You have all of these people in your head fighting to get out, and you constantly question whether or not what you are doing is working.  Unlike actors or musicians on a stage, there is no instant feedback.  It may be days or weeks or months before anyone gets around to reading what you’ve written and can give you any comments or suggestions.  Even then, the chances of finding a good publisher are very slim, and the chances of landing those six-figure deals you read about are even slimmer.  Sometimes I find myself wondering why I do what I do, and the answer is simple: because I’m a storyteller, and I have to tell these stories or go insane.  As I tell my wife, writing stories is much cheaper than therapy.  

SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.

MW: Horror, Sci-fi, and Fantasy allow us to make observations of our own world and comment on various important issues without sounding obvious or preachy.  We can turn a fun house mirror on ourselves and show readers how ridiculous certain practices and prejudices are, and because we are talking about ghosts or monsters or aliens, people who would otherwise be turned off by an issue or a theme may get to see and experience another point of view.

SJWhat do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?

MW: I want people to see my name on a book cover and know instantly that, no matter what the story is, they are in for a great ride.

 SJ: Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!

MW: My latest novel (which is my favorite right now) is The Legacy of the Gods Book Two: 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.

I am also working on a short story collection, Straightjacket Memories, due out this fall, and the next novel in the Legacy series, Zeus’ Warriors.

 

***

MichaelWestAuthorPhoto

 

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.

Website:  http://www.bymichaelwest.com

 Twitter: @bymichaelwest

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

 

Available Now: The Realm Beyond Issue 5

Published July 1, 2014 by admin

I’m always thrilled when I get to participate in different projects with other authors. I’m also always humbled when people approach me. A while ago, the good people at The Realm Beyond sent me a gorgeous image they’d wanted to use for a cover and asked if I’d write a story to go with it. “Uh, yeah,” was my immediate response. While I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it, it definitely spoke to me. There was something alien yet fragile about the creature in the picture, and I found myself wondering what kind of a being she was.

Somehow, my love of history, interest in Lovecraft, and love of fairy tales all had a questionable night together and produced the story Marina, which is featured in this issue. It’s part The Little Mermaid, part eldergod lore, and part 1800s economic collapse in American industry. I don’t know about you, but that says good time to me!

Seriously, I’m really proud of this story of a girl with amnesia who hears strange voices in her head, prompting her that she only has so many days to resolve a problem she’s not sure about. When a wealthy but troubled family of industry take her in, she finds herself at the center of something much bigger than she initially realizes. Can kindness and love help overcome enormous problems and odds, or will both the family in question and Marina be left to drown in their troubles? You’ll have to get the issue to find out, and I urge you to because there are some fantastic authors in this one, including my pal L. Andrew Cooper!

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Order your copy of The Realm Beyond Issue 5 here!

And in case you’re curious, here’s a little bit of an excerpt of Marina to whet your appetite…

 

The voices rushed into her ears, ebbing and flowing like a tide.

There’s no place left for you.

Will you live? Will you die? Only time can tell and fate knows for sure.

All will be decided in three days.

Her eyes snapped open.

Sunlight filtered between heavy squares of hanging cloth. Even that sliver of light was blinding and she lifted a heavy hand to shield her eyes. Her head was supported by soft…pillows? The word was strange and unfamiliar, but felt right. She was in a bed. Her body ached. When she moved her body felt awkward and foreign.

Where…?

Before she could add to the thought, an entrance appeared at the far end of the room. Two figures approached, tiny sparks in their hands. Her fingers clenched and she braced to…to what? Cold fear swept over her, smothering knowledge that was just out of her grasp.

“She’s awake,” a soft voice said.

“It was bound to happen soon,” another voiced answered. It was older than the first and full of knowing humor. A silhouette came closer and the dancing spark – a tiny flame on a lamp – crept closer to her face. It wasn’t as bad as the sun, but still she winced. “Close the curtains, Ida. It could well take time for our guest to adjust to bright light.”

“Yes, Mother.” The blinding sliver was covered. The little flames leapt and spread throughout the room, springing up again on new lamps until she had a better view of her…what? Captors? Rescuers?

“That’s better, isn’t it?” the older voice asked and a round face leaned close. It was marred by the wrinkles and spots, and framed by yellow-white hair pulled back in a severe bun that contrasted the woman’s gentle demeanor. “Poor thing. Feeling better at all?” She smoothed her large skirt as she settled into a chair. Her words were thickened with an accent that was much lighter on the younger woman’s words.

“Yes.” The girl in the bed struggled to say the word. She knew it, yet she didn’t quite know it. “I think so.”

The younger woman was also dressed in finery and wore her hair up, but her skin was still smooth. Her grey eyes and dark hair danced with a fire that was still childlike though she was obviously a lady. “You gave us quite a scare, especially Adam.”

The newcomer’s confusion must have been palpable, for the old lady took pity on her. “My son, the head of the family now that my Emile is gone. He found you in the river by his sawmill. Poor boy thought you were already drowned.”

“The doctor said you just needed rest. Nothing appeared broken or harmed, but are you all right, otherwise? Are you in trouble with someone? Only the workers go to the mill, and they can be a rough group. Did something happen to you?” the younger woman pressed.

The girl shrunk back against the pillows, feeling small and vulnerable, a combination that disgusted her for a reason she couldn’t fathom. “I…” She searched her memory, but the past events kept slipping out of reach, drifting deeper and deeper away.

Every gift has a price to pay, the voices chortled.

“Now, now. It isn’t good to press her too fast.. Poor thing was found nearly drowned, washed up at the river’s edge. Is it any wonder she doesn’t know her past from her future?” the older woman soothed and placed one trembling, ancient hand on the girl’s smaller one.  A soft jolt like the sting of a jellyfish startled the girl. More confusing was that she could feel the life pulsing in the old woman’s veins, robust for the moment yet frail in the long-term. There was a subtle power that flowed in her blood, though, the power of what? Determination? Belief? Disturbed, the girl slid her hand out from under the gnarled one, shivering.

The old woman smiled. “Don’t worry, dear girl. Everything will be sorted out. You may call me Elise and this is my daughter, Ida. Now we must have something to call you.”

Panic swelled up with the confusion. “But I don’t know—”

Elise waved it away as though it was a minor ripple. “For now, you can be Marina. A good name for one found in the water.”

Despite the confusion, the name pleased her; a soft flush rose to her cheeks as she studied the wizened face at her side.

They’ll forget about you like everyone else.

***

Curious? Be sure to check out issue 5 to see how things are resolved, as well as check out more intriguing stories by some talented authors!

 

WeWriWa: Mooner

Published June 29, 2014 by admin

I’m once more trying to get back in the swing of things after a fairly busy past few months. Today’s eight is from a re-release of my historical vampire story, Mooner. This bit is when Bill, the naive upstart in the lumber camp, notices Tom, a reclusive, down-and-out  fur-trader, in Red’s Saloon. While Big John and the others make fun of him, something about the older man seems off and not quite right. He’s not going anywhere, though, until he gets what he wants…

***

“What…what you want me to do for a drink?” At first it didn’t register that Tom had actually spoken. His voice was high and reedy and cracked the way the thinnest ice along the river did.

“Pardon?”

“What you want me to do for a drink?” His lips cracked when his mouth moved. A thin trail of spittle dripped off his lower lip and was quickly caught up by the tip of the derelict’s seeking tongue. The distant gleam in Tom’s eyes burned as his mouth formed the last word.

For More Snippets of Stories, Check out Weekend Writing Warriors!

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Like many young men at the end of the 1800s, Bill signed on to work in a logging camp. The work is brutal, but it promised a fast paycheck with which he can start his life. Unfortunately, his role model is Big John. Not only is he the camp’s hero, but he’s known for spending his pay as fast as he makes it. On a cold Saturday night they enter Red’s Saloon to forget the work that takes the sweat and lives of so many men their age. Red may have plans for their whiskey money, but something else lurks in the shadows. It watches and badly wants a drink that has nothing to do with alcohol. Can Bill make it back out the shabby door, or does someone else have their own plans for his future?