MY INTERVIEW WITH JEFFREY COOK — STEAMPUNKER EXTRAORDINAIRE

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AUTHOR JEFFREY COOK lives in Maple Valley, Washington, with his wife and three large dogs. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, but has lived all over the United States. He’s contributed to a number of role-playing game books for Deep7 Press out of Seattle, Washington, but the Dawn of Steam series are his first novels. When not reading, researching or writing, Jeffrey enjoys role-playing games and watching football.\

Jeffrey also has the honor to be the first ‘Steampunk’ author I’ve had on my blog. Read on to find out what that genre is and more about Mr. Cook.

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THE INTERVIEW

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Hi Jeffrey!!  Grab a seat, kick back and get ready for my first question — The average reader may not be acquainted with the Steampunk genre. Explain what it is and why they should read it.

I end up making that explanation a lot. People who may not have any idea what Steampunk is frequently start showing some interest when I say “1800’s Science Fiction”, “Jules Verne-style Sci-fi”, or “If Jane Austen wrote adventure.” A lot of Steampunk fans will typically say Victorian Science Fiction, but the steam era started in the early 1800’s with Fulton, with steam trains with 300 yards of track to haul coal out of mines, etc.

Simple as the “1800’s Science Fiction” label is, most Steampunk does tend to have a particular sense of style. The characters and world look like the sepia tone photographs of the era, rather than the colorful period the Victorian age actually was. Then, they throw in lots of goggles, jeweler’s glasses, gadgets and zeppelins.

Steampunk is as wide open as modern science fiction. Wild Wild West (show and movie) are very Steampunk, so it crosses into Westerns just fine. Erasmus Darwin (real person), before he was discredited (for trying to teach young women life sciences), had some very advanced theories regarding rocketry. There was plenty of superstition, and unknown corners of the globe, that lets it include elements of magic and cross over into fantasy. One of the most successful Steampunk stories, Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, crosses into zombie fiction.

Why should people read it? Because there’s a lot of unexplored territory. How many genres can you say that about? Setting stories in the 1800’s opens up types of characters typically only involved in westerns or historical fiction, and then adds airship pirates, unexplored ruins, zombies, or who knows what else. Steampunk is a relatively new genre, or sub-genre, depending on how you want to look at it. That means there’s a lot of room, which can be harder to find in some other genres, to really explore the possibilities.

You’re two books into your trilogy. When you’re finished with book three, do you plan to stay in the Steampunk genre or branch out to another?

I’ve already started branching out, actually. My Young Adult Science Fiction book, Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets will be out in a week, through Fire & Ice YA. The third book of the Dawn of Steam trilogy will be out in a couple months. After that, I’ll be working this year on two other books: a currently untitled project, working with romance writer A.J. Downey on an urban fantasy story, and working with my editor, Katherine Perkins, on a Young Adult Fantasy series, The Fair Folk Chronicles. The Fair Folk story is planned for four books over the next three years.

I have a few steampunk short stories out there, and I plan to use the main characters from some of those in a collection of short stories eventually as well. Because of them, I’ll probably keep doing some Steampunk, but it’s not going to be a major focus again for at least a couple years. I do plan to return to the Dawn of Steam world eventually with a second trilogy, set 5 years later, but I want a little time and distance from it after the third book is out. I’ve enjoyed it, and I’m proud of the books – especially after Dawn of Steam: First Light, was named Moonrise Book Blog’s best science fiction of the year for 2014 – but I’m ready to stop writing in Regency style for a little while.

I do love Steampunk, and will keep going back to it, whether through more Dawn of Steam, through my Luca & Emily short stories, or my Steampunk adaption of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. I like variety, too, though.

Describe your writing process – From Conception to Publishing.

The first step is always the inspiration. It usually starts with a character or two, and then building a world around them. I do a lot of brainstorming, and usually finding someone to discuss ideas with, along with researching key concepts. As soon as the world is built, more or less, there’s two other major steps to the pre-writing process. First, I build a playlist for it. I prefer to write to music, so having a 50-80 song list that helps evoke the book in my mind helps tremendously. Second, I write an outline. For me, outlining is an organic process. I sketch out where I want to go, and then write a sentence or two for each intended chapter.

Inevitably, for most writers, there’s a conflict between characters and the outline. In my case, the characters always win. If I get new ideas, or character inspirations break the outline, which happens all the time, I follow the characters, and then scrap and re-write the outline at the end of the week. It helps keep me aimed for the end, while not feeling stuck in a rigid storyline.

My editor is critical to the process for me. In general, I finish a chapter, and, at her request, send it to her. She gets things edited to third-draft quality while I’m writing the next chapter. It makes later editing passes much faster and cleaner, and if there’s flaws, they get found much sooner. It’s an unusual process, but it has worked really nicely for us. Finding the right editor really is a huge key.

I’ve heard H.G. Welles is considered the godfather of Steampunk. Why do you think your preferred genre is comparable to being a red-headed stepchild in the literary world?

For comparisons, first, I’d probably say I lean more on the Jules Verne side of the spectrum, when it comes to godfathers.

And honestly, I think part of the flak Steampunk gets, it gets because of its closest relative – science fiction. No question, science fiction is a harsh relative. Fans of science fiction /love/ to fight. Star Trek or Star Wars? Babylon 5 or Dr. Who? Heck, science fiction spawned the Mohs scale of Science Fiction Hardness… yes, it’s a thing. The scale runs from 1, which is your Futurama or Hitchhikers Guide, to 6, which is basically non-fiction with a lot of applied science. Some Sci-fi enthusiasts can and will turn up their noses at things that aren’t realistic enough, or don’t fit X or Y criteria.

Steampunk is really different. Sure, some people still want to bring those same kind of arguments into it. There’s some crossover fans. Most Steampunk fans, though, don’t care if you’re writing about analog computers and train trips… or Japanese samurai in steam powered armor chasing airship pirates into the lower atmosphere. Is it fun, is it cool, does it look awesome, and does it tell a story? If so, the majority of Steampunk fans I’ve run into will have no problem saying, “Yeah, that’s Steampunk.” Usually along with, “That’s awesome!”

Steampunk has a long way to go to find its footing and place amongst a lot of more established, more defined genres. I think it will get there, and I think it will have more staying power than a lot of people give it credit for. Until there are a few more top sellers in the genre, with crossover audience appeal, though, I think it will continue to be seen as a fad, if a very prettily dressed fad, in science fiction circles.

I assume you’re rooting for the Seahawks in the Superbowl. Will they win and what’s your prediction for the final score?

I moved to Seattle for the first time in the late 1970’s, and quickly became a Seahawks fan (as well as a Broncos fan – I was born in Boulder, CO.) I’m in my Seahawks jersey as I write this. I’ve been a fan through all the lean years (and man, was there a lot of those.) So it’s nice being on this side of the fence for a little bit.

In fact, I’m a football fan to the degree that I’m hoping to eventually have one non-fiction book out, tentatively titled “It’s like chess, with collisions.” – intended to help people who didn’t get a chance to play in school or otherwise grow up with football, but who are interested in the sport, to learn about the game from the basics up. I have no idea when it will happen, but I truly love teaching people about the game.

I do have to say the Seahawks will win (but I’ve been a follower of the Hawks long enough to never, ever feel truly confident until the final whistle blows. Things have gone wrong too many times.) And I think it will be something like 31-24.

What do you enjoy most about writing — developing the plot, characters, or creating the landscapes/surroundings?

I love my characters. They are the start of almost every novel, with worlds built around them. I love working out personality quirks, abilities, how they affect the world and vice versa, and assembling a cast around them. Since, aside from football, role-playing games are my main hobbies, my characters frequently have full character sheets too.

The other part of the answer, though, is when a story is brand new. When I’m still asking a character, “Ok, so you have a really nice hat and a bunch of knives, even when all the bad guys have guns. Cool. But who are you?” When all the research and unexplored possibilities still lie ahead. Before the editing and long hours and reading the same passage twenty times has started. That’s the point that it’s all a ton of fun. The rest of it is all totally and completely worth it, though, just not as much fun.

And it’s worth it because, after I consider the above, my favorite of the categories you laid out, or the most fun – ultimately, the /best/ part about being an author is holding up a clean, edited book, being able to sell it, getting reviews, both good and bad (but mostly good so far!), and being able to say “I did that, and I’m proud of it.”

Being an author is what I’ve wanted to do since I was about six years old. I wish it paid more, certainly… but really, I’ve never enjoyed a job this much, or done anything as rewarding. The element I enjoy the most are the characters. The moments I’m having the most fun are when I’m developing a new story. The best part about being an author, in the end, though, is being an author, weird as that sounds.

Awesome interview, Jeffrey. Thanks for the opportunity to spotlight an up-and-coming author.  Readers, be sure to check out his work — coming right up!!!

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JC 1  DAWN OF STEAM:FIRST LIGHT

SYNOPSIS — In 1815, in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars, two of England’s wealthiest lords place a high-stakes wager on whether a popular set of books, which claim that the author has traveled to many unknown corners of the globe, are truth or, more likely, wild fiction. First Light is an epistolary novel, told primarily through the eyes of former aide-de-camp Gregory Conan Watts, describing the journeys of the airship Dame Fortuna and its crew through journals and letters to his beloved fiancee.
The first recruit is, necessarily, the airship’s owner: war hero, famed genius, and literal knight in steam-powered armor Sir James Coltrane. Persuading him to lend his talents and refitted airship to the venture requires bringing along his sister, his cousin, and the crew that flew with him during the Napoleonic Wars. Only with their aid can they track down a Scottish rifleman, a pair of shady carnies, and a guide with a strong personal investment in the stories.
When they set out, the wild places of the world, including the far American West, the Australian interior, darkest Africa, and other destinations are thought to be hostile enough. No one expects the trip to involve a legendary storm – or the Year Without a Summer of 1815-1816. The voyage is further complicated by the human element. Some parties are not at all happy with the post-war political map. Most problematic of all, the crew hired by the other side of the wager seem willing to win by any means necessary.

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Early on I’m exposed to Watts’ intentions to his recipient as well as his intentions on his impending journey and I’m hooked. His quest is exciting and he hasn’t even departed yet. It takes a bit of reading to get into the action but I found a lot of humor in Watts’ observations of the other people surrounding him, which made the read quite fun.

The book is very well spoken and paints a vivid and fun picture for the reader in a style of writing I haven’t before seen which makes it all the more enjoyable for me.
Cook manages to merge futuristic technology with a time behind us – making for a fascinating experience.

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JC 2 DAWN OF STEAM:GODS OF THE SUN
SYNOPSIS — In 1816, Gregory Conan Watts’s chronicle of the adventures begun in Dawn of Steam: First Light continues – as does the Year Without a Summer. The crew of the airship Dame Fortuna travel to four continents and are embroiled in combat on three of them: conflict with New Spain in Britain’s American colonies, an ambush in Machu Picchu, and entanglement in the Maori Potato Wars in New Zealand. As they progress through darkened skies, Gregory gradually discovers that nothing at all was as he thought it was. All his assumptions are cast into doubt: what their orders are, which tales of foreign lands are true, and what parts of the social order as he knows it really are natural. Also in doubt is whether they will all survive the experience.
Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun is an alternate-history, early-era Steampunk epistolary novel.
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RANDOM REVIEW — Excellent and Unique!, December 1, 2014 By Fiction Author Rhoda D’Ettore
This review is from: Dawn of Steam: Gods of the Sun (Kindle Edition)

Excellent and unique! A top Amazon reviewer loaned me this through Kindle lending. I am so glad she did. This is a unique work in that is not a continued narration, but a series of letters and journal entries by various characters. In doing this, we see the deeper point of view through these characters. Mr. Cook does an excellent job of bringing to life the delays in communication during the 1815 time period, and grips us from the very beginning.

I love this line “We have been shot at, hunted, ambushed, nearly trampled and otherwise hindered at every step….” How can that NOT grasp your attention and make you yearn for more? As you read on, you will not only read about the men of the time, but of the feisty women who manipulate and try to seduce to get what they want. The descriptions are good enough to allow you to imagine, but not so overly done that you lose interest.

Knowing this was Steampunk, I was a little apprehensive, as I am not that much of a sci-fi or gadget type of person. However, this book used that as a background and was a delight for anyone with an interest in historical fiction! Thank you Mr. Cook and Ms. Perkins for such an awesome work!

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LINKS To Follow and Join
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New Release — Jaime Johnesee’s The MisAdventures of Bob the Zombie

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Prolific Horror/Comedy novelist, Jaime Johnesee has released the newest book in the Undead Bob series — The Misadventures of Bob the Zombie. The Fourth novel of the funny-as-death series puts a comedic spin on zombies and Bob’s attempt to be a normal undead guy in a warm-blooded dominated society.

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Here’s the synopsis —-  Bob is an ordinary guy. He likes classic rock, a good party, and tacos. It’s too bad that he is dead. Well, technically speaking, Bob is undead. After an accident claimed his life his mother couldn’t bear to bury him. A quick call to a necromancer fixed that problem and, voila…he was reborn!

Armed with a quick wit, a sharp intellect, some good friends, and his trusty stapler, Bob embarks on some crazy adventures that will make you laugh, make you cringe, and –most importantly– make you cheer for Bob to have a happy ending.

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RANDOM REVIEW —

funny and great read January 7, 2015 By CMT
Format:Kindle Edition
How can you not love Bob the Zombie. I am a bob once you read this book you will understand that. And he will make you want Tacos from taco bell so get some tacos ready when you go to read this . This book was a very fun read made me giggle . If you looking for a extra gory zombie read then this is not for you. If you looking for a different zombie read a funny , and even feel good read, Bob has some good advice for you. Then this book is for you. Its a must read for any Zombie fan . It was great to have a different out look and different type of zombie book to read . Thank you Jaime this keep me entertained. Looked to read more of her other books

A Satirical Interview With Christopher Meade

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I met Christopher a few months ago and, from a few lively conversations, thought of him as an eccentric writer with a scathing view of life and culture as we know it. Then, I read his books and found my observations were spot on.  It’s very hard to write comedy and even harder to write satire without looking like a pompous…well…wanker. 🙂  Honestly, Christopher’s novels are laugh-out funny and his skewering of political and religious mores are usually to the point and comically brutal. Anyhoo, here’s my interview with this multi-faceted author. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

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Hello and welcome to my study, Christopher. Grab a seat and make yourself comfortable while I hit you with my first question. You’ve written about Obama and Christ. Who’s Next???

I appreciate you having me, John. As for your query, there’s such a wealth of characters in history and modern politics, that I feel spoiled for choices of people to lampoon. Kim Jong Un, Vladimir Putin and Moses are among the leading contenders. There should be quite a mileage of satire to be gleaned from them. I’m also considering Barack Obama’s successor (whoever that may be). Until I know who it is, I can’t tell whether he/she will be funny or not.

What’s been the hardest thing for you in both the writing and marketing part of being an author?

The most difficult thing is the marketing. The effort involved, in going from an unknown to a recognised and successful author, is a real uphill struggle. I’m about halfway up that mountain at the moment.

     The writing part is relatively easy. I’ve been blessed all my life with a vivid imagination and when the mood takes me, the ideas and words just flow. I need to practise patience though. The temptation to just see my words in print always has to be tempered by the knowledge that the first draft isn’t always the best. Editing and re-editing needs to be done to polish the “finished” product.

By the way you substitute ‘s’s for ‘z’s, you seem to be British. Explain Yourself.

     The simple explanation here is that I am not British. I just live here and am Irish. The first half of my life was spent in the emerald isle.

     I am pretty settled here nowadays and am probably more British than Irish in most of my attitudes and opinions. For instance, I’m that rarity, an Irish Catholic Unionist. I still have all my family ties in Ireland though.

Who’s the best character you’ve created and why?

That character would be Julian Faversham (piano-playing, psychopathic zombie). Most of my other characters are either real people like Barack Obama, or rewritten fairy story inhabitants, like the Three Little Pigs or the Cheshire Cat. Julian is totally my own creation, although he can be said to be not entirely fictional. His alter ego (Larry the Downing Street cat) is a real feline and he lives with the British Prime Minister at 10 Downing Street.

What’s on your to-do-list for 2015?

I would like to publish about two more books this year and I would love to see my second book (Stories from the Life of Jesus, by His Mother) performed as a dramatic monologue, either on stage or television. Apart from that, I hope to continue to meet the many new and interesting people who have crossed my path since my writing career commenced.

  Very good. Okay, last question. What’s something about you that would most surprise your readers?

  I pray to my cat, who passed away last year. She was my goddess and I’m certain that she is a saint in Heaven now.

If there is anything else surprising about me, I would prefer to keep quiet about it. Some secrets are best kept to oneself. (I’m actually really a “Mr Dull” anyway.

There you have it, a lively and frank Q&A session with one of the funniest men on Facebook. Be sure to check out his books, Friend him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.

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The Zombie, the Cat, and Barack Obama

 

SYNOPSIS —

When the writer Christopher Anton visited his local cemetery, something followed him back home. The zombie Julian Faversham became his nauseating, (but musically talented), house guest. But this is not just another zombie story. The writer’s imagination brings the reader on a surreal helter-skelter voyage that includes some very funny explanations for the origin and ancestry of Barack Obama, the truth about the Illuminati, what happened to the body of Adolf Hitler and how Osama bin Laden really died.

“The Zombie, the Cat, and Barack Obama” is a combination of political satire and horror comedy and should make a page-turning read for all those who enjoy a really good laugh.

 

FIVE STAR REVIEW — More than a comedy, January 11, 2014 By TOPAZ – Verified Purchase

I had come across his FB profile by chance and found his comments interesting. I had a hunch that his satirical comedy would be good. Sure enough I was chuckling all the way through the book. At the same time I was impressed. Zombies are not portrayed as the usual mindless monsters here. It is amusing getting behind the mind of a zombie for a change. The author managed to weave in a veiled philosophy that the ending was unpredictable and gratifying. The author has also satisfied our desire to call Mr. Bin Laden a pig without the risk of being targeted by some terrorists. He brought in the innocent story of The Three Pigs. How on earth Mr. Hitler and Mr. Bin Laden got linked to piggies, you just have to read the book. The author’s imagination reaches astoundingly wide, both in geography and time, but his cool as-the-matter-of-course tone, combined with his attention to the details and the ability to peace them to his theory gave his wild plot a peculiar credibility.

The other readers have commented on horror side of the story so I ought to balance things out by mentioning the affectionate element of the book: the author’s fondness for cats. Two cats were given a major power: one in political way, while the other in dark supernatural way. Dog lovers may find one episode heartbreaking, with a large dose of horror. Surely, you must want to know.

This is not a shallow fun book that evaporates right after you close the book. Some lines lingered in my mind long after I finished it.

BUY LINK — http://www.amazon.com/Zombie-Cat-Barack-Obama-appearances-ebook/dp/B009CYBTC8/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421335413&sr=1-1&keywords=christopher+meade

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STORIES FROM THE LIFE OF JESUS, BY HIS MOTHER.

SYNOPSIS —

When Jesus Christ incarnated into this world, to redeem it, He had two major assets. First he was the Son of God and secondly, in Mary the Mother of God, He had a very special mother. People often forget about Christ’s mother. She must have had a lot to put up with from having a Divine Son. The Blessed Virgin’s road to Paradise can’t have been very smooth, but there must have been a few laughs along the way. This book tells some stories of Christ’s life from the point of view of his ever-loving, but frequently exasperated, female parent. Much of the humour, that is absent from the Bible, is presented. (Not everything went as smoothly as related in the Good Book).
From the Annunciation to the Crucifixion and beyond, Our Lady must have lived a rollercoaster ride of a life. It can’t have been easy to be the Mother of Christ. (Although having a Son with miraculous powers must have been useful at times).
Laugh and cry with the Mother of God and meet some memorable characters along the way, like Jesus’s dodgy grandmother and less than salubrious relations. There are also some extra miracles that didn’t get mentioned in the Holy Book. This book is here to show episodes in the Life of Jesus Christ in a way not covered in the books of the New Testament and it is a tribute to His Blessed Mother, without whose acquiescence no part of His remarkable life could have happened. We must remember that Mary, as well as being the Mother of the Redeemer, was a human being and was subject to all the frailties and frustrations of any overwrought mother.
This is a book that was written, not to diminish the love we should have for God, but to show that it’s alright, sometimes, to laugh at Him, (or with Him).

If God has a sense of humour, He will love this book. (If not, I hope, His Blessed Mother will put in a word for me).

 

MY FIVE-STAR REVIEW —

So That’s What Happened to Jesus In Between His Birth and Adult Years???, January 14, 2015 By J.D.Tucker “J.D. Tucker” Verified Purchase

As with any book that devotes itself to the Christian religion, Mr. Meade’s novel is bound to step on a few toes. Mary, the Mother of Christ, is written as an independent woman who has no problem telling the reader how hard it was to be second fiddle to the main focus of the Immaculate Conception. It’s a parody chock full of satire, humorous exchanges, and laugh-out-loud moments that will make your funny bone pray for relief. Five Stars.

BUY LINK — http://www.amazon.com/STORIES-LIFE-JESUS-HIS-MOTHER-ebook/dp/B00NNL6SQS/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1421335413&sr=1-2&keywords=christopher+meade

 

VARIOUS LINKS

 

GOING GOTHIC WITH AMBER SHERWOOD — ANGELS OF DEATH:SUCCUMB

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My special guest today is is Gothic Romance novelist Amber Sherwood. After meeting and becoming friends with her on Facebook, I’ve found her to be a down-to-earth individual who puts everything she has into her everyday life and her books. She’s just released the second book of the Angels of Death Series — Succumb. After my interview with her, please check out her two novels and links.

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INTERVIEW

Hi, Amber!  Thanks for stopping by my man cave. Grab a seat and lets start this off with a question about your series. How many books do you anticipate in the Angels of Death Saga?

Hi, John. Thanks for having me. Well, when I initially realized it would end up being a Series, I always imagined a total of three books. However, during the publishing process, my Publisher suggested I write a prequel to Succumb as a teaser to draw people in. That teaser became the novella Genesis, which goes into more detail on how Ash became the bad-ass vamp he is today! So, now, I suppose there will be at least four novels to the series. And who knows? If, after number four, there is still more story to tell, then there might be a number five!

What’s been the hardest thing for you in both the writing and marketing part of being an author?

The hardest thing about the writing is knowing where you want to go in a story, but struggling with the in between parts to get you to those major scenes. I always develop certain scenes in my head and then I play connect the dots with the smaller scenes that actually develop the story and the characters. Another hard part is when I block up and decide to put one story down and work on another, the characters from the old story, who had refused to talk to me suddenly want to be in my ear whispering their thoughts, but the minute I go back to them — POOF! They run and hide again. THIS is why I refer to my characters as my children, because I have my well behaved ones who always do what I want, and then I have the hard headed ones that always want to do what THEY want, but they ALL like to drive me to drink!

As for marketing, I WANT TO KILL IT! I can’t STAND marketing, or PIMPING as we authors call it! It’s so hard! Especially for someone who is as shy and insecure and NOT a braggart like myself! I always worry that I’m bothering people or being too forward by presenting my book, but as my mom is always telling me “If you’re not willing to tout your book, why should someone else?”. So, with this in mind, I started looking at what the author’s did who seemed to shoot out of nowhere and have books making lists almost immediately. What were THEY doing? Simple. They were shamelessly promoting themselves! I always felt weird commenting to the blog posts that ask you to pimp your favorite author. To me, someone ELSE should nominate the author, not the author themselves! But there were authors doing that! And before I knew it, everyone else was adding these author’s names to lists and then they were nominated for blog awards. Well, damn it! If they can do it, so can I! So, I’ve started to shamelessly add myself to the comments of those posts. Not that it’s made much of a difference. I still pretty much feel invisible to all but a select few who care about me.

Another thing that bothers me is when I befriend an author and, as their friend, I promote their books, liking and sharing, but don’t get the reciprocation. I’m very much a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” kind of person. If you help me, I will bend over backward to help you. I will shout your name from the rooftops, nominate you for things, share and like all the time. There are a few wonderful souls who seem to share this creed with me and I hold them dear to my heart. But there are also a lot out there who want to take, take, take, but never give and that’s not right. We’re all in this together. We’re all struggling and if we can help each other out once in a while, why not? Karma might be a Bitch, but she can also be a Sweetheart to those who deserve it. That’s how I look at it!

You’re a Led Zeppelin fan. Do you know they’ve never had a Top-40 Hit?

I had no idea! Honestly, I wasn’t a classic rock fan until I met my husband. That’s pretty much all he listens to so I learned to first tolerate it and then developed a taste for it. Now, it’s mostly all I listen to as well. I used to think Led Zeppelin and AC/DC were all nothing but screaming, but now I rock out to them and have even been known to do a remarkable AC/DC impression! But, back to the question. I guess it’s not really THAT unbelievable that they’ve never had a Top-40 hit, since it’s mostly dominated by lighter music. I’m sure Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and the rest of the guys are probably PROUD of that fact!  (Editor’s note — AC/DC only had one hit in the top 40 — at #39 — You Shook Me All Night Long.)

Who’s the best character you’ve created and why?

Oh, this is a hard one. I try my best to make all of my characters as life like and most importantly, FLAWED, as possible. I would say my BEST character would have to be a tie between Brita and Ash. I first started Succumb in the summer of 1998, so they’ve been a part of my life for a very long time, which also means I’ve had a very long time to develop them. My idea for Brita was to start out with this poor, beaten and broken young woman who was scared of everything and have her morph into a strong, resilient force to be reckoned with! She still has elements of insecurity, and she still struggles to control the evil that lies just below the surface, but she forces herself to rise above to do what needs to be done and what is for the greater good. I think, by the end of Succumb, I have brought her to this point and going forward into AOD3, I hope to continue her growth as she’s forced to deal with new facets to her existence such as a temperamental progeny, a budding love interest, and a complicated evolving friendship.

I didn’t begin to really fall in love with Ash until the end of Succumb was approaching. He was starting to change, to grow a heart back, and that’s why I decided to explore his early years in Genesis. I thought it was important to know WHERE he had been in his heart and mind as a human so that what he became would be all the more heart wrenching. He was a devoted man of God who was thrust into the hands of the Devil. For him to have such faith only to feel that he’s been abandoned by the one he gave his life to, it not hard to understand why he finds it impossible to fight against the demon within.

I would have to say that after finishing Genesis, Ash most certainly became my FAVORITE character of the series.

What’s on your to-do-list for 2015?

I would LOVE to have AOD3 published, which is tentatively titled Retribution, but I’m thinking it’s not going to be ready in time. Therefore, I’m currently working on two romance novels, one historical and one contemporary. I hope to publish one of those by June and hopefully, if all of the Gods in Heaven come together for a miracle, possibly the other by year’s end. I’m a bear on myself though when it comes to editing, so that’s quite ambitious for me, but I’m working on it! If only the RIGHT characters would speak to me when I need them to, then I’ll be on track for success!

Okay, last question and a fun one. You open a book and a Genie appears. He can grant your wish for a bestseller but a celebrity has to die before it happens. Which movie star bites the dust?

Oh, where to begin! Well, I’d offer him the ENTIRE Kardashian clan (Bruce Jenner excluded because I actually LIKE him) just for the opportunity to make my wish! So they’re my number 1!

2. Kathy Griffin- Can’t stand her and definitely don’t think she’s funny!

3. Nicki Minaj- I think she’s very pretty WHEN she’s not flashing a disgusting pose, but I simply cannot stand her voice! I’m sure dogs everywhere go into excruciating pain every time one of her songs come on! Which leads to…

4. Meghan Trainor- WHO IN THE HELL gave this girl a record contract? She is THE MOST annoying singer I’ve heard in a while! I think I could listen to Nicki longer than I could listen to this girl! While I applaud the MESSAGE behind All About That Bass, does it have to be so…nails on a chalk board? Can’t a song about a girl with curves actually be ENJOYABLE???? And how about that commercial she had out around Christmas? Even THAT was annoying and she only sang for about two seconds! No! Just make her stop! NOW! Maybe SHE should be number 1…….

5. Carrie Underwood- Mostly because my husband worships her and that bugs the hell out of me!

I could go on, but that would make Entertainment Tonight’s Memorial show just way too long!

Thanks for a provocative and entertaining interview, Amber. I wish you all the successes you can handle and stay sweet.

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LIBRARY

genesis ANGELS OF DEATH:GENESIS

SYNOPSIS — In the first chapter of the Angels of Death series, we are introduced to Ashford, a virtuous man of God, a Knight of the Templar. After losing his soul to a beautiful stranger in the night, he realizes he has been damned forever when his body becomes engulfed in flames with the rising of the morning sun. Suddenly, Ashford must face the evil that grows within him and learn to survive this dangerous new existence…alone.

FIVE STAR REVIEW — Absolute must read! November 20, 2014 by KelHawk  Format:Kindle Edition

Oh Ashford! He was a Knight of the Templar. A holy man. He meets his sire as she is looking for dinner and changes him into the vampire we love to hate. This short story shows us how he meets Heather and how he struggles with his morals, religion, and companionship. He is a complex vampire who has his own demons to overcome. We see his relationship with Heather, or how non-existent it is. And how he longs for companionship and meets Harmon. This is a great prequel to Succumb. Definite must read to get the real depth of Ashford. Well done Amber Sherwood!
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ANGELS OF DEATH:SUCCUMB succumb
SYNOPSIS — Brisbane Manor hides within its walls a secret. A secret so terrifying it will change the lives of all that enter… forever. The beautiful Brita, unaware of the manor’s history, hides a secret of her own. Sent to work as housemaid for the brothers of Brisbane, she considers this place a safe haven. No longer will she have to defend her every move. No longer will she have to bear the accusing glares. She is finally away from a mother who cast her out… away from townspeople who ridicule and abuse her. But soon she will discover that what she believed was a gift from God has nothing to do with anything Godly.
Ashford, rich and powerful, one of London’s elite, uses his cunning and dark, handsome looks to manipulate those around him, easily gaining anything he desires… and what he desires, at times, is more deadly then they realize. Harmon, who at one time joined in on Ashford’s evil endeavors, now fights the conflict within. After a horrible accident, he turned against what he is, what Ashford made him. Now, he’s on a quest to protect Brita from meeting the same fate, even if it brings an end to his own existence.
MY FIVE STAR REVIEW —A Vampire Tale With Plenty of Bite!! January 8, 2015 By J.D.Tucker  Format:Kindle Edition

Angels of Death:Succumb is a refreshing Gothic/Contemporary take on the Vampire genre. The book opens in 1683 England and spends a few chapters in 1858 before ending in present day Key West, Florida. The attention to detail in the chapters relegated to the past are remarkable and put you in a spooky old mansion that reeks of evil.

Brita, a servant girl living with a pair of mysterious men named Harm and Ash, finds out her job is more dangerous that she first thought when she discovers the two men are angels of the night. She falls in love with Harm and shortly after being turned, witnesses his death. Afraid of Ash, she lives with him for a hundred or so years before she runs away to contemporary Florida. There, once Ash finds her, begins the battle for what remains of her soul.

Angels of Death:Succumb is a must have for anyone who likes a new take on the vampire genre. Ms. Sherwood weaves a tale that puts you in the middle of Brita’s life and drains every drop of emotion from her story. Five stars !!!

LINKS
Friend Her on her Personal Facebook Page — https://www.facebook.com/amber.sherwoodgruzenski?fref=ts
Follow her on Twitter — @asherwoodforest
Conquer the maze of Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/amber_sherwood
Visit and Follow her Blog: http://ambersherwood.wordpress.com

6 Classic Children’s Books to Avoid

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I know what you’re going to say as you read this post. We grew up with these stories as kids and we’re mentally all right…  These are just harmless tales meant to enrapture children with their fanciful plots and well-written characters. Well, parents, that may not be the case ….

61VD0bvQ3dL._AA160_ WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE

I literally had to fight for this book in the early grades. It was always checked out of the library and was rarely returned on time. Maurice Sendak’s tale of a boy transported to an island with fearsome monsters always entertained me. The hero, Max, is wearing a wolf suit when he’s sent to his room for threatening to devour his mother. From there, his imagination takes him to where the wild things are. He wants to be their lord and master.

While only a small part of the story, Max develops walking amnesia — forgetting about his parents and his old life. As a result, children who read this tale could be subliminally encouraged and inhibited from expressing themselves in the future.

alice in w ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Lewis Carroll’s lushly written story of a girl who falls into a hole and meets a slew of outlandish inhabitants is indeed a classic. In doing so, Alice ingests a magical pill, hallucinates, and pisses off the bitchiest drama queen in modern literature.

Most experts will agree that Alice exhibits an addictive personality with her taking of pills, potions, and drinks – usually with little concerns for her health and well-being. Therefore, it seems easy to assume your own children could be in danger of crazy looking people offering them ‘recreational drugs’ after reading this book as a child. Just say no……

CHARLOTTE’S WEB      char web

WHAT??!! I bet you’re thinking there’s no way this Classic could damage your child’s mental state. I must be crazy…right?

In this story Charlotte the spider saves her pig buddy Wilbur from being barbecued, only to die later after she births 8 long-legged babies. In addition to having your child’s heart ripped out by the ending, this tale could encourage them to avoid long-term commitments down the road of life. I mean, why like/fall in love/marry someone who could be gone in an instant due to death or take off on a whim with a person they’ve known for five minutes. This book is probably why the divorce rate is so frigging high.

cat in hat THE CAT IN THE HAT

Oh, hell no!! Not this Children’s favorite. Dr. Seuss’ rhyming story about a kooky cat can’t be bad for kids??!!   You know the story by heart. Two abandoned kids are visited by a feline babysitter who torments fish, ruins houses, and – oh my God – juggles too.

Most psychologists will tell you the titular cat shows definite antisocial personality disorder. He does whatever he wants and the rest of society can screw off. Do you really want to take the chance of your children reading this book and growing up to be maniacs, rapists, and lawyers? I think/hope not!

CURIOUS GEORGE    cur geo

Yeah, George is just a cartoon monkey adopted by a rich guardian in a slew of stories written by Marget and H.A. Rey. In spite of their disturbing human-ape bond, George torments his master with pranks, stealing objects, and hurling feces for no apparent reason. (Okay, he doesn’t chunk crap in the books — but you know he does at one point or another.)

According to the experts, George’s ‘criminal’ antics tells kids it’s okay to be rebellious and okays their eventual turn to adjustment disorders. Your children will read these books and start acting out without considering the consequences. (Plus, they could kill themselves if they try to fly off into the air with balloons. I tried as a child…bad ending.)

jack and the beanstalk Jack and the Beanstalk

Okay, so Benjamin Tabert wrote this story wayyyyy back in the 1800’s. Jack sells his parent’s cow for some magic beans and climbs a beanstalk to the clouds. There he pisses off and kills a giant who’s only protecting his property, and makes his way back home with a goose who craps golden eggs.

Experts say that in addition to problems with authority, Jack has a Oedipal complex that suggests kids should kill strangers to win their mother’s love. Do you really want your child to love you that bad??!!

Okay, now that I’ve skewered your favorite 6 children’s stories for a few ‘possible’ reasons for you to keep them away from your kids, know I don’t necessarily think young children can perceive and extrapolate on the misdeeds by the books characters. Just keep this in mind — Hitler, Jeffrey Dahmer, and Justin Bieber have read one or more of the stories in this blog post. Do you really want to take that chance….  😀

 

THE WISDOM OF SOLOMON — The Newest Psychological Thriller From John Tucker

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Promo Image The Wisdom of Solomon

 

SYNOPSIS —- Maritza Van Lyle is a broken, alcoholic housewife mired in a bad marriage. Soured on living by her husband’s infidelity and a personal tragedy, the only light in her life is Alexandra, her preteen daughter. When Maritza is taken hostage by a sinister man with a mysterious agenda, she fights to keep her sanity and to stay alive while her captor forces her to admit intimate secrets that should stay buried.

Torn between the bitterness and frustration at her existence, Maritza is determined not to be a docile prisoner. As the man’s lethal games, caustic taunts, and dangerous threats grow more invasive and ruthless as the hours go by, she rebels, adapts, and formulates a desperate plan to escape her tormentor.

The Wisdom of Solomon is not your usual hostage drama. It’s a cat and mouse game where deceptions, revelations, and role reversals will take your breath away – and keep you turning the pages – all the way to a chilling and surprising denouement.

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pizap.com14183331503261

AUTHORS NOTES — The Wisdom of Solomon joins my previous genre themed novels — DIVISIVE, THE FIFTH GAME, and SPLITS IN THE SKIN – as voyages into psychological horror and skin-crawling suspense. Written as a two-person screenplay several years ago, I adapted it into a novel that kept all the menace, thrills, and jaw-dropping moments. If your reading habits make you a connoisseur of the genre, this is the book for you.

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5-STAR AMAZON REVIEW

Incredible! January 1, 2015 By DyannaDunn

Format:Kindle Edition
The Wisdom of Solomon was an amazing book! I kept telling myself I would put it down at the beginning of the next chapter, and ended up reading the entire thing. This book definitely blurs the lines between right and wrong, good and evil. It was full of suspense, and definitely kept me on my toes!
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LINKS

E-Book http://www.amazon.com/Wisdom-Solomon-John-Tucker-ebook/dp/B00R20N2Z6

Paperback http://www.amazon.com/The-Wisdom-Solomon-John-Tucker/dp/1628680865

Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/502141

Book Trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_pkthKFvPTE