August 1, 2014

When Harry Met Talley: an interview with Brett J. Talley, author of "The Reborn"

About Brett J. Talley: A native of the South, Brett Talley received a philosophy and history degree from the University of Alabama before moving to witch-haunted Massachusetts to attend Harvard
 Law School. When people ask, Brett tells them he writes for fortune and glory. But the truth is the stories in his head simply refuse to stay put. Brett loves every kind of fiction—from horror to literary to historical to sci-fi—as long as there are fantastic characters with a compelling purpose. There’s still magic to be found in fiction, the mysterious and the unknown still beckon there, and the light can always triumph over the darkness, no matter how black the night may be.
Brett writes when he can, though he spends most of his time working as a lawyer so that he can put food on the table. That is, until the air grows cool and crisp and fall descends. For then it is football time in the South, and Brett lives and dies with the Alabama Crimson Tide. Roll Tide. (source: http://brettjtalley.com/)
Earlier this year saw the release of Journalstone's latest DoubleDown, featuring Harry Shannon's Biters and Brett J. Talley's The Reborn. I had the chance to ask Brett a few questions about the book and writing in general. Enjoy!

Gef: Double-novels (or novellas more accurately) were kind of everywhere back in the 80s it seemed. Did you ever have a favorite from back in the day?

Brett: I’m almost embarrassed to admit this, but I never even knew they existed. I just thought my publisher was a genius. But then people told me about the Ace Doubles, and I still thought he was a genius for bringing back such a great idea. It’s such an intriguing and versatile format. Like with our books, I knew that Harry was doing a zombie novel. I thought about doing something similar, but instead went with The Reborn, which is also about people coming back from the dead, but in a very different way. I think it worked out great.

Gef: So how did you get the news you'd be sharing literary real estate with Harry Shannon?

Brett: My publisher called and asked if I’d be interested in doing it. I can tell you, it didn't take long for me to answer. I've only been at this for a few years, and to have the opportunity to pair up with a guy who’s done it all and done it well, just incredible.

Gef: In The Reborn, reincarnation is a natural part of life and leads to people being hunted for crimes committed in past lives. What was the initial lure for you to use reincarnation as part of your world?

Brett: Like all good ideas, it just sort of came to me during a discussion of the implications of reincarnation. People always imagine that they’d be Cleopatra or Marilyn Monroe or Clark Gable if reincarnation is real. But what about the people who are Hitler, or John Wayne Gacy? How would those people be received? If someone killed your son or daughter, and then came back, how would you feel towards the person, even if they couldn't remember it, even if they seemed totally different? And what if there was some correlation between who people were in a past life and how they acted now? How would society react? There are almost limitless questions to be considered, and it was an approach that I had never seen before. People may hate the book, but I don’t think anyone will say it’s not pretty original.

Gef: With reference to The Great War, I think of WW1, but the Great War in The Reborn takes places in the mid-21st century. What's the impetus for this war and how does it serve to shape your protagonist and the home to which he returns?

Brett: Yeah, and I called it the Great War to bring up those very thoughts. As you know, after WWI ended, the allies did everything they could to ensure it never happened again. And of course, by doing so, they put in place some of the conditions necessary to bring about an even worse war. I wanted to have echoes of that in my story.

As for the Great War itself, it resulted from what I think is a not unlikely scenario. If people come back, then all the prophecies of legendary figures returning are, in fact, true. In this case, it is Genghis Khan. Who better to unite the downtrodden people of the world and strike out against the great empires? And of course, that plunges the world into war. Our two protagonists, Marcus Ryder and Dominic Miles, are both shaped by the war. 

They’ve seen the tragedy and the horror of it, and they come to be defined by it. Dominic is committed to doing whatever it takes to ensure that there’s never another war like it. Ryder is sort of a broken man, going through the motions of life, until the Shepherds and Dominic give him an opportunity to do something great. When he learns the implications of that choice, however, that’s when he has to decide who he is and who he will be.

Gef: With such a richly conceived universe, do you see yourself revisiting it for more stories, whether relating to this novella or exploring other new characters?

Brett: Definitely. I have a short story that will be in Dark Discoveries magazine soon, and I may do more in the future. I just need more time in the day!

Gef: What more can folks expect from you in 2014 and beyond? And how can they keep up with your writing?

Brett: Right now, I am working on the sequel to That Which Should Not Be, which should be out early next year (if I finish it on time). People can follow me on twitter, Facebook, or at my website, brettjtalley.com, where they can also sign up for my mailing list.


July 31, 2014

August's $229 Giveaway: Win a Kindle Fire HDX Giveaway, Amazon Gift Card, or Paypal Cash

I Am A Reader is all revved up for another Kindle Fire giveaway for the month of August!

You could win 1 of 2 great prizes, each valued at $229. Take your pick between a Kindle Fire HDX , $229 Amazon Gift Card, or $229 Paypal Cash!

The first prize is available via the rafflecopter below. The 2nd is available only to those share this giveaway. You can find info on how to enter the 2nd giveaway in the rafflecopter.

August Kindle 2014



Win a Kindle Fire HDX, Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash ($229 value)

The winner will have the option of receiving a 7" Kindle Fire HDX (US Only - $229 Value)


Or $229 Amazon.com Gift Card (International)


Or $229 in Paypal Cash (International)


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Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive their choice of a Kindle Fire 7" HDX (US Only - $229 value), $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash (International).

There is a second separate giveaway for bloggers who post this giveaway on their blog. See details in the rafflecopter on how to enter to win the 2nd Kindle Fire HDX 7", $229 Amazon Gift Card or $229 in Paypal Cash.

Ends 8/31/14



Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the participating authors & bloggers. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.


July 30, 2014

Making Up Your Own Creature: a guest post and giveaway by Donna Galanti, author of "A Human Element" and "A Hidden Element"


Making Up Your Own Creature
by Donna Galanti

Creatures are everywhere in books. Vampires. Werewolves. Faeries. Goblins. BigFoot (some argue he is real and I’m leaning towards a yes on that). And then there are made up creatures we encounter with fantastical names. These are fun to create and encounter.

In A Human Element I created a creature-man, X-10, who was part human and part…something else (no spoilers here!). He grows up a science experiment unloved, enraged, and hideous to look at.

Where do you start when looking to develop a creature? Here are some basics to help you get started with ideas. And just for fun take a quiz to find out what kind of mythical creature you are! (I’m a vampire). Here also is a mythical creature guide to use as a reference if using known creatures in your writing.

And here’s a handy starting list to begin developing your creature: Name : Life Span : Weight : Height : Number of Young it can have : Diet : Origin : Enemies : Lives : Appearance : Abilities/Powers : Personality : Weaknesses

Features of my creature, X-10:
6 ft. 5 in. tall
Milky white translucent skin
Yellow eyes
Bulbous limbs
Flattened nose
Neanderthal forehead
Steam shovel mouth
Nail-less with pod like fingers and toes
Since he is only half-human I wanted to give him an unfinished, primitive appearance to him. Even more fun was to create his powers which he used to spread death and pain.

Excerpt of X-10’s features up close:
X-10's nostrils flared, widening his flattened nose further across his face, stretching from ear to ear. He breathed deep with his recent success and felt power surging through his massive, muscled body. His veins pulsed and throbbed pushing up through his milky white skin. The blue veins cut across his naked body, carving ropes across his translucent skin in a clumsy, child's drawing. He flexed his pod hands and feet congratulating himself on his victory.

Powers of X-10:
A seeker, can seek people out with his mind powers
In-human strength
Can kill with his “mind’s eye” from afar
Telepathy and telekinesis

Can a creature with such vile tendencies even be redeemed? That’s a question raised in A Human Element

Excerpt where X-10 uses his powers:
The woman squealed and laughed as Jimmy went back to his work. X-10 stepped toward the tent, standing right outside it. In one fluid movement, he reached his hand in and grabbed Jimmy by the neck. He pulled out the man, shrieking, with his pants dangled around his ankles. The woman screamed.

"Should have finished sooner, Jimmy." X-10 broke his neck in one snap with his hands and threw him in the brush.

The naked woman rushed to the door but X-10 shoved her back in. He bent down inside the tent. The woman stared at him and screamed at his gruesome figure. X-10 grinned at her and snapped her neck as he had done to Jimmy. He never knew her name. Too bad.

He left her there spread out and ripped the tent apart looking for food. He found none inside, but did locate their food bag hanging fifty feet away in a tree. He ripped it down and gorged on nuts, candy bars, crackers, and cheese. He washed it down with their water and looked at the mess he made.

He felt satiated now and full of energy, and so he mustered his powers to dig one deep grave. It needed to be wide enough to fit both of the lovers and their gear. He sat and moved his hands to work logs and rocks to dig. In a short time it was done. He placed the tent and their other belongings in first, and then draped them over it side by side.

"So the lovers can be together in death too." He laughed long and hard.

After dumping the bodies in the grave he covered them up and continued along the trail. It could take the authorities weeks to find their graves, if they ever did, across thousands of acres of national park.

"All in a night's work," X-10 quipped to himself and raced along the trail, a candescent monster dashing under the moon toward its prey.

Do you create your own creatures in your writing, gaming, or art? How do you go about developing a new creature or monster?

About A Human Element:

Evil comes in many forms…
One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next.

Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together.

But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

**Get your evil on with this re-release by Imajin Books! Newly edited, new scenes, new cover! Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element, releases 8/28!**

Praise for A Human Element:
“Be afraid. Be very afraid. And be utterly absorbed by this riveting debut that had me reading till the wee hours of the night. A thriller star is born.” –M.J. Rose, International bestselling author
“An elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.  Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author
“Lyrical and creepy, A Human Element tugs on our heartstrings and plucks the gut-strings of horror. This debut thriller author is a true storyteller, highly reminiscent of Dean Koontz.” –Dakota Banks, Award winning author

Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, A Hidden Element (August 2014), the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer.



Purchase A Human Element here: http://amzn.to/1mNcyCO

Rafflecopter A Human Element Release Giveaway!

July 29, 2014

Ancient Gods: a guest post by Richard Schiver, author of "White Walker"

White Walker is Richard Schiver’s eighth release since his return to writing in 2008 after a computer crash wiped out nearly ten years of work in 2001. A lifelong reader of the Macabre and Supernatural, his goal as a writer is to leave the reader with a story that will stay with them long after they have closed the cover of the book.



Richard lives with his wife in Lavale, MD. Where they share their home with four furry, four legged, children. When he’s not spinning tales of terror he can be found tossing the ball for his yellow lab Max, or making a mess in his woodshop.




Ancient Gods
by Richard Schiver


The next time you’re in a thunderstorm give a thought to how our ancestors must have felt as they huddled in their cave while the thunder rumbled across the land.

We understand thunder is caused by lightning, which is a stream of electrons flowing between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground. The air around this electron stream becomes superheated and as the air cools it creates a partial vacuum around the path of the lightning that becomes a resonating tube. The nearby air rapidly expands and contracts making the column vibrate like a drumhead, and producing a tremendous crack.Source Scientific American

H.P. Lovecraft once said. “The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown”

Our ancient ancestors did not know what caused thunder. To them the lightning with its accompanying thunder was an unknown entity and into that vacuum of the unknown they created gods and superior creatures to account for what they could not readily understand in the natural world around them.

One of the books I use for research is Encyclopedia of Gods by Michael Jordon. It contains listings for over 2,500 Deities from around the world. Under Thunder alone there are 22 listings, and these are just the deities that have survived the passage of time. How many others have become lost as old stories handed down from one generation to the next are forgotten, or twisted to adapt to new realities?

In his introduction Michael states: “one is struck both by the enormous number and variety of deities that occur in different religions around the world, and also by the way patterns repeat themselves – almost every culture has its creator gods, gods concerned with a locally important aspect of the weather, goddesses of fertility, gods whose duty it is to protect the home.”
Encyclopedia of Gods: Michael Jordon

What if these ancient gods still existed to this day, trapped in the limbo of disbelief? What if a local legend had its roots in an ancient belief that found its way to our shores in the minds of the immigrants of the early eighteen hundreds?

It’s a possibility I explore in my latest release, White Walker.

Synopsis:

When she was ten she made a promise to that which inhabits the winter storm. Now she’s twenty-six and pregnant, and the White Walker has returned to collect his due.

For Teddy his first day as shift supervisor could not have come at a worst time. A severe blizzard has shut down the region as old man winter refuses to relinquish his grip. Only ten percent of his team has shown up for work, and he learns upon arriving that one of his first duties that day will be to fire his girlfriend.

He believes it can’t get any worse than it already is. That is until one of his people dies at the hands of a legendary creature that inhabits the blizzard. A prehistoric deity once worshiped by ancient man on the vast Siberian plains. Brought to these shores by Russian immigrants seeking a better life in the deep coalmines that once dotted the hills around the Appalachian Mountain town of Frostburg.

Cut off from the outside world, stalked by a creature from the past, the survivors are forced to abandon the safety of a building that has been stressed to the breaking point.

But how does one escape a winter storm?

July 28, 2014

Horror and Noir Co-Mingling in the Shadows: a review of Charlie Williams' "Your Place is in the Shadows"

Your Place is in the Shadows
by Charlie Williams
Gibbous Moon (2013)
ASIN B00CBMUXRA

I enjoy horror fiction. I enjoy noir fiction. And if you're like me, then chances are you're going to enjoy what Charlie Williams serves up with this collection of six short stories.

I really didn't know what to expect from this British author at the outset, as this was purely an impulse buy on the Kindle Store last year. I saw the name on a recommendation list, the price was right, so I took the plunge. Genre-blending is something I really appreciate when it's done well, and it's done very well in each of these stories.

For me, the standouts would have to be "Some Help from Stanley" about a divorcee receiving some much-needed advice about the trajectory of his life via telephone calls from the late Stanley Kubrick. A great bit of psychological suspense as Kubrick's advice sends the poor bloke down a wayward path. Then there was "Punchbag" and the drunken roughneck who wanders the streets on his usual routine of pub food, pub crawls, pub brawls, only to come face to face with the embodiment of every scrap he's ever been in, a man who calls himself Punchbag.

If you have trouble with vernacular that isn't the Queen's English, you might be out of your depth with a couple stories. You know, like if you have to watch Guy Ritchie movies with sub-titles, that sort of thing. But if your reading level is up to snuff and you like your crime fiction dipped in horror, then you are going to absolutely love this collection. I've got a novella from Williams called Graven Image and I have a hunch I'm going to gobble that one up like a kebab when I get round to it.

July 24, 2014

Getting Graphic: "American Vampire Vol. 3" by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque

American Vampire Vol. 3
written by Scott Snyder
illustrated by Rafael Albuquerque
Vertigo Comics (2012)
ISBN 9781401233334


As I've spent the last few years winnowing through the morass of graphic novels out there, looking for some real gems, American Vampire has stood out from the others as a remarkable piece of writing and artistry. Its third volume, through some damned miracle, might be my favorite so far. I only say miracle because the first two volumes were so bloody good to defy being outdone.


Volume Three offers up two different stories, both set during World War II. The first, collecting issues 12-18 in the series, features Henry Preston and Skinner Sweet lumped together on a secret mission to a coveted island off the coast of Japan that's reportedly infested with vampires. Henry, leaves behind the vampire he fell in love with and ultimately made his wife, Pearl, who upon word that Skinner is on the island too tries to find a way to save the love of her life.


My god, the tension achieved in this story, not to mention the action and everything else about the story, was a sight to behold. Henry's mortality becomes more of an issue for him and Pearl as the years pass on, and it's hard to imagine their love story being anything but tragic, so as you read this book you can't help but wonder if Henry will meet his end by Skinner or the other vampires on the island, or maybe something else. Skinner, to that end, is rapidly becoming one of my favorite villains in literature. Period.


Then there's the mini-series, "Survival of the Fittest," which had a five-issue run. The grown daughter of one of Skinner's victims, Felicia Book, has turned into one of the most effective vampire killing machines at the Allies disposal, and so she and Cash (another supporting player from the series) go behind enemy lines in Germany to meet with a scientist who claims to have the cure for vampirism. You know Nazis, though. Those pesky buggers are everywhere, and Felicia and Cash, wind up leaping from the frying pan into the fire in order to get the intel they need--and thwart the conspiring Nazis and vampires. Some might say F. Paul Wilson's The Keep is the best fusion of vampires and Nazis in a book, but I think Snyder and Albuquerque might have themselves a contender for the crown here.


Look, I could sing this book's praises to the point of nausea. Sufficed to say that the blend of horror, romance, intrigue, action, and a half-dozen other meaty ingredients make American Vampire one of the best reading experiences a fella like me could ask for. If your reading tastes line up with mine, you need to be reading this series, too.

July 23, 2014

My Boyfriend Is a Ghost: a guest post by Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of "Grunge Gods and Graveyards"

About Grunge Gods and Graveyards: Parted by death. Tethered by love.

Lainey Bloom’s high school senior year is a complete disaster. The popular clique, led by mean girl Wynter Woods, bullies her constantly. The principal threatens not to let her graduate with the class of 1997 unless she completes a major research project. And everyone blames her for the death of Wynter’s boyfriend, Danny Obregon.

Danny, a gorgeous musician, stole Lainey’s heart when he stole a kiss at a concert. But a week later, he was run down on a dangerous stretch of road. When he dies in her arms, she fears she’ll never know if he really would have broken up with Wynter to be with her.

Then his ghost shows up, begging her to solve his murder. Horrified by the dismal fate that awaits him if he never crosses over, Lainey seeks the dark truth amidst small town secrets, family strife, and divided loyalties. But every step she takes toward discovering what really happened the night Danny died pulls her further away from the beautiful boy she can never touch again.

Kimberly is the middle of a blog tour right now, promoting the heck out of Grunge Gods and Graveyards, and was kind enough to stop by the blog today with a guest post


My boyfriend is a ghost

What is it about ghosts that makes them such romantic fodder for paranormal reads? In my debut novel, Grunge Gods and Graveyards, my female protagonist falls in love with a ghost. (Well, technically she falls in love with him before he becomes a ghost, but once he’s lost his corporeal form, the sexual tension increases dramatically.)

Grunge Gods was originally inspired by an old film called The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. In the movie, a young widow moves into a haunted seaside cottage and falls in love with the ghost of the man who once owned the house (played by Rex Harrison -- I saw this movie when I was in high school. I think he was a sea captain). Anyway, Mrs. Muir and the ghost have a romantic relationship until the day she dies an old woman. Then they connect in the afterlife. I found this movie to be so romantic and touching that it stayed with me long enough to inspire a novel. So, what is it about ghostly romances that readers, like myself, find so compelling? Well, I’m going to break this down into, what I call, ‘The Three S’s.’

SEXUAL TENSION: There is nothing sexier than a hottie ghost that the main character cannot touch. One of the aspects of Danny and Lainey’s relationship that I tried to play up in Grunge Gods was the fact that there was this heavy romantic undercurrent that they couldn’t act on. They had kissed once before but once Danny became a ghost, their ability to touch each other was pretty much annihilated. They would flirt, get themselves all hot and bothered, but for so much of the story, Lainey could not feel Danny’s touches. It became an itch they couldn’t scratch.

[Side note: In The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, there’s a part where Rex Harrison’s character says something to Mrs. Muir that she need not be ashamed of her figure (It’s set in the early 1900s so it’s supposed to be quite scandalous). Sure, it could come across as a little pervy, but the ghost was checking Mrs. Muir out. Hot!]

SECRECY: There is something incredibly romantic about the secret lover. And nothing could be more secretive than loving a ghost. Lainey can’t possibly tell anyone she is seeing ghosts, let alone lusting after one. So instead, she has this big, special secret that only she and Danny share. Not only does it strengthen their bond, but it takes their relationship into the forbidden zone, which...makes for extra sexual tension. See above.

SADNESS: Dying young evokes incredible sadness. It’s tragic. Painful. Haunting. In Grunge Gods, Lainey feels responsible for Danny’s death. She believes that had her actions been different, Danny would still be alive. So everyday Lainey lives with that pain and guilt. She will not get to be Danny’s prom date or see him off to college. She won’t get to hold his hand at a concert. Danny’s death fundamentally changes both of their lives. If you want an unforgettable romance, there needs to be sadness as well as joy because it haunts the reader well after the story is over.

Well, there you have it -- Kim’s three S’s as to why ghosts make for the best romantic interests. Why do you think ghosts are such hot romantic leads? Please sound off in the comments and thanks to Gef for having me.



Kimberly G. Giarratano, a forever Jersey girl, now lives in the woods of northeastern Pennsylvania with her husband and small children. A former teacher and YA librarian, Kimberly adores Etsy, Jon Stewart, The Afghan Whigs, ’90s nostalgia, and (of course) everything YA. She also speaks Spanish, but is woefully out of practice.

Kimberly always dreamed of being a published author. Her other dream is to live in Key West, Florida where she can write in a small studio, just like Hemingway.

You can visit her blog at kimberlyggiarratano.com or tweet her @KGGiarratano.

Below you'll find a Rafflecopter entry form for a chance to win some swag, but if you can't wait to get your hands on a copy of Kimberly's novel, you can find it at these fine bookstores:


July 22, 2014

Midwestern Monstrosities: an interview with Scott Burtness, author of "Wisconsin Vamp"

About Wisconsin Vamp“Midwestern nice” is hard to pull off when you’re a bloodthirsty monster.

Poor Herb isn’t even sure how he got vamped in the first place. With no one to guide him, Herb fumbles into his newfound abilities, courting disaster with each bumbling step. Sure, there are some perks. The local stripper wants him, he can do this whammy mind-control thing, and he is getting a lot better at bowling. But he can’t drink beer, the bodies are piling up, and his best friend Dallas is getting suspicious. When Herb and Dallas go for the same girl, keeping his dark secret becomes the least of Herb’s concerns.

Booze, billiards, babes, blood, bake sales, bowling, bar fights and karaoke. Who would’ve thought that being undead would make life so interesting?



Gef: Writing horror effectively is challenging, but writing humor effectively may be even more so. So, imagine blending the two. What was the biggest challenge for you in writing Wisconsin Vamp?

Scott: Humor is all about timing and pacing. The set up and delivery of a joke has to flow. When writing a humorous moment, trying to get the timing and pacing right was definitely challenging. Too much description of the moment, and the timing would be too sluggish. Too little description, and the reader wouldn't be able to really 'get' the joke. There were many scenes that I wrote and rewrote countless times, hoping to make the humor of the moment flow for the reader.

To help get the flow of the humorous sections right, I would skim Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett novels, or imagine that what I had written was being read out loud by John Cleese.

Gef: Vampires have been around the block a time or two and yet folks keep finding new little spins on the genre. When you came up with Wisconsin Vamp, were you a bit daunted by all the vampire novels already out there?

Scott: I'm not sure I would've come up with Herb Knudsen if there weren't a gazillion different takes on vampire lore already in existence. I think that all the variations, from Nosferatu to Buffy to Lost Boys to Japan's hopping vampire craze to sparkly Twilight, all help keep vampires relevant and interesting and endlessly enjoyable.

What I really enjoyed about Wisconsin Vamp was writing about a newly-turned vampire that didn't know what he was supposed to be. A significant part of Herb's journey is plain old self-discovery. Turning to the only 'instruction manual' he can think of, Herb watches a stack of vampire movies on VHS. Comparing what he sees in the movies to what he can actually do becomes an adventure for Herb unlike anything he's experienced before.

Gef: After Twilight, the backlash by vampire fans seemed to be to try and make them scary again. You're opting for the comedy route. Heck, it worked for Whedon. What is another monster that could use a laugh or two?

Scott: Personally, I'm writing the classics. The Monsters in the Midwest series will feature a werewolf novel and a zombie novel for sure. Beyond that? Who knows? The Creature from the Black Lagoon, the Loch Ness Monster, Godzilla (and of course, Mothra)... the sky's the limit when it comes to funny monsters.

Gef: Zombie comedies are called zom-coms, so what's a vampire comedy called? And can you trademark that?

Scott: Suck-larious? Fang-sterical? Vamp-camp? I better stop before I hurt myself...

Gef: What was the biggest eye-opener for you when you finally published Wisconsin Vamp?

Scott: Writing a book was relatively easy. Getting people to know about the book... exhausting. I had this na├»ve idea that a catchy title and a fun, unusual cover would drive sales. If my book was on the shelf of the local bookstore, that might have been true. When I finally published Wisconsin Vamp, I was stunned by how many books their are in the world, and how hard it has been to get on people's radar!

Gef: Setting is a great way to set a book apart and you went with Wisconsin. If I may be bold, not exactly an exotic locale. What was the lure to base it there?

Scott: A lot of vampire pop-culture happens in big, exotic cities. It makes a certain degree of sense. If you need to eat people, it's best to be somewhere with a large population so you can 1- never go hungry, and 2- get lost in the crowd, so to speak.

Vampires also seem to, more often than not, have impeccable taste, an endless checking account, and really swank pads.

When I decided to write about Herb, I didn't want him to have any of those things. Having spent a lot of time in rural Wisconsin growing up, I decided a little town in the northwoods would be the perfect spot for a socially awkward vampire of little potential and even less ambition.

Another question that I get asked by friends is, "Your a Minnesotan. Why didn't you set it there?"  The honest answer is... I liked the way 'Wisconsin Vamp' sounded.  It just rolls off the tongue a little better than "Minnesotan Vamp." (IMHO)

Gef: You have a sequel scheduled for later in the year. Any tidbits you can divulge on that one? Is Herb sticking to Wisconsin?

Scott: The core trilogy will stay in (or at least very close to) the fictitious town of Trappersville, WI. The sequel will feature many of the characters introduced in Wisconsin Vamp, and center on a werewolf. As to whether or not Herb will be there... that'd be a spoiler, and no one likes a spoiler!

Gef: Where can folks keep up with you and Herb?

Scott: For folks who want to follow my minute-by-minute ramblings: www.Twitter.com/SWBauthor.

If you'd like to get less frequent brain dumps: www.Facebook.com/SWBauthor.

I'm also on Goodreads, where I intend to start blogging about something, someday: www.Goodreads.com/SWBauthor


Giveaway:
Win one of three autographed copies of Wisconsin Vampire, each will include a Wisconsin themed postcard from the main character, Herb. This giveaway is restricted to USA only, please! Enter through Goodreads.

 
 

    Goodreads Book Giveaway
 

   

        Wisconsin Vamp by Scott Burtness
   
   

     

          Wisconsin Vamp
     

     

          by Scott Burtness
     

     

         

            Giveaway ends July 23, 2014.
         

         

            See the giveaway details
            at Goodreads.
         

     
   
   

      Enter to win



July 21, 2014

Chasing Tale [7/21/14]: Kindle Unlimited and the Temple of Doom

For ten dollars a month, Kindle owners in the U.S. will have the chance to read a f**kload of ebooks thanks to the newly unveiled Kindle Unlimited, and even have the luxury of listening to Audible audiobooks on top of all that. Is this the future of reading? Hmmm.

I'm Canadian, so it's not an option for me, but even if it was I don't really see it as all that enticing. The reason for that is because I have been buying ebooks off the Kindle Store for years. Cheap ebooks, never mind the glut of freebies that have been offered over the years. My Kindle is crammed with ebooks, so I don't really feel incentivized to shell out ten dollars every month to buy even more ebooks from what is actually a relatively limited inventory of titles when you consider ALL that is available on the Kindle Store.

If I was a newcomer to Kindle land, sure, I'd consider it. But even then, I might hold off until I see the major publishers hop on board, because quite frankly those are the guys charging exorbitant prices on ebooks. For instance, Brad Thor's new bestseller, Act of War, is on the Kindle Store for twice the price of signing up for a month of Kindle Unlimited. I don't care who the author is, there is zero chance of me paying $20 for one ebook. But if Simon & Schuster was to suddenly hop on board this new Kindle Unlimited gimmick, well the price really isn't an issue anymore.

It's early yet,  and it's way too early for anti-Amazon folks to declare the sky of falling, and it's definitely too early for pro-Amazon folks to start fellating Jeff Bezos out of gratitude. Let's give this thing to the end of summer and then have a gander at who is signing up and who is reaping the rewards.

As for the ebooks recently thrown onto my to-be-read pile, I am unsure how many of them are available through the new program. All I know is that a great many of them are by authors whose work I have read before and would wholeheartedly recommend. Take a look and leave a comment with what you think about Kindle Unlimited, and what ebooks you've added to your Kindle recently.



Broken Monsters by Lauren Beukes - If Broken Monsters does with Detroit what The Shining Girls did with Chicago, I suspect this thriller will wind up on my faves-of-the-year list.

Pennsylvania Omnibus by Michael Bunker - Amish sci-fi. Go figure. Anyway, I was lucky enough to win this serial novel that has been handily collected into one book, thanks to Tim Ward over at Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing. Thanks, Tim.

Supreme Justice by Max Allan Collins - I had the good fortune to interview Mr. Collins last week (you can read that here) and I have a review copy of his new near-future political thriller, which sounds really promising.




Wide Spot in the Road (Drifter Detective 4) by Wayne D. Dundee - Garnett Elliott penned the first three installments in the Drifter Detective series, but it looks like Dundee is taking the reigns for this one. Fine by me.

A Rope of Thorns by Gemma Files - Chizine Publications had a Canada Day/Independence Day sale on their website, and I finally pulled the trigger and picked up the second book in Files' weird western Hexslinger series. I thought I'd already bought it, but I guess not. Problem solved.

Grunge Gods and Graveyards by Kimberly G. Garratano - Kimberly will be stopping by the blog in a couple days as part of a blog tour, so watch out for that.


The Big Hit by James Neal Harvey - I guess this is Harvey's first novel in fifteen years. That's quite a stretch. This cross-country thriller sounds promising at any rate.

Doubleback and Toxicity by Libby Fischer Hellmann - I received the audiobook edition of Doubleback from Libby. It's the second book in her George Davis series, the first of which I already have on my Kindle. Toxicity is part of the same series, but I think it's actually a prequel. Anyway, I snagged that one free off of the Kindle Store.


The Rats / Lair / Domain by James Herbert - If you ask a horror fan for a classic horror novel to read, they will quite possibly recommend James Herbert's The Rats. I've yet to read it, and I've not been in a hurry to buy it, but then I found this trio of ratty paperbacks at a used-books shop and figured it was time to add it to my shelf.


The Wraith by Joe Hill - There's a new graphic novel coming soon that links in with Joe Hill's NOS4A2. I don't know about you, but that's all I need to know to peak my interest.

You by Caroline Kepnes - A romantic thriller with two lovers who might be in a competition to out obsess each other. So long as it's not written in second-person PoV, I'm happy.

Chasing Ghosts: Texas Style by Brad and Barry Klinge - Honestly, this was a total impulse buy. I saw it on a clearance table for a few bucks, marked down from like $26--really?!--and thought I'd get it because ghosts. Since buying it though, I've read a couple reviews and ... I think I'm setting myself up for buyer's remorse.

Fires Rising by Michael Laimo - Nothing like a little apocalypse to occupy your time. This horror novel has an audiobook release, narrated by Jack de Golia. Basically an ancient evil buried under a derelict church is let loose and it's up to the indigent people living there to save humanity.


Hair Said, Flesh Side by Helen Marshall - Along with A Rope of Thorns, I scooped up this short story collection from the Chizine book sale, as it has certainly been recommended to me enough times since its release.

Hemlock Grove by Brian McGreevy - The second season of Hemlock Grove is out this summer on Netflix, so it must be doing something right. Based on this novel, which I received from FSG Originals, the show looks cool, but I gotta say I'm more interested in reading the book as is the case with most film/TV adaptations.

Dog Days by Joe McKinney - I found myself with a free ebook copy of Joe's award-winning YA novel from Journalstone Publishing. Neat-o. I've already bought more than a couple of Joe's ebooks that I have yet to read, but it's hard to pass up a freebie with his name on it.


Kokomo's Cafe by Armand Rosamilia - I've been reading so much genre stuff over the years, the contemporary fiction tends to take a backseat, and there's a fair bit on my shelf I've been meaning to read. Well, I got the chance to listen to this audiobook recently. Rosamilia is probably better known for his horror fiction, but these quirky short stories were pretty darned good too.

White Walker by Richard Schiver - Richard will stop by the blog next week with a guest post to talk about ancient gods and this new novel. So watch out for that.

The Deep Dark Woods by Ty Schwamberger - Ty's wilderness horror novel is out with a snazzy cover and a cool, high-octane premise. He'll be stopping by the blog soon too, with a guest post of his own.



Doubledown IV (Biters / The Reborn) by Harry Shannon and Brett Talley - Do you remember those old Ace Doubles from back in the day? You read one book, flip it over and--oh look--another book. Well, Journalstone released their fourth Double Down book a few months ago featuring two post-apocalyptic tales by two talented authors. 

And Death Will Seize the Doctor, Too by Jeremiah Swanson - This one involves a guy who can heal people, but not before he takes someone else's life. Interesting premise.


A Hollow Dream of Summer's End / A Hollow Dream: Eternal Autumn by Andrew Van Wey - Back to back novels from Andrew, here. Part of an ongoing series of interconnected books, it starts with a group of friends trapped in a treehouse by an ancient evil, then just goes even darker from there. Neat-o.



Police at the Funeral by Ariel S. Winter - I got caught at the mall waiting for a bus with nothing to read, so I hit up the bookstore across the road--so silly that it's not in the mall anymore--and found this Hard Case Crime title. Unbeknownst to me, however, it's the third in a trilogy. Doh! Looks like I need to hunt down the first two books now.

Legends of Red Sonja by various authors - This series which started up late last year has been collected into a graphic novel set to come out in September. The only thing more impressive than the artwork is the line-up of contributing writers, helmed by Gail Simone.

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