Saturday, December 7, 2013

Interview with Yours Truly

Know me?  Love me?  ...not yet?  Well, you lucky ducks, Neve Maslakovic was generous enough to open up her blog to me and let me spout off my wisdom on acting vs. writing and the joys of self-publication.  Head on over!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Spirit of Krampus

Last year, I participated in a lovely little anthology called Holiday Wishes.  My short story from that anthology is now available as a stand-alone.  Ladies and gentlemen, The Spirit of Krampus!

So, what is "Krampus" you may be asking yourself?  Krampus is a character from European mythology.  He was Santa Claus's partner.  As good Saint Nicholas rewarded the children of the world for good behavior, Krampus was responsible for punishing the wicked.  If you were bad, he'd put you in a sack and beat you with sticks.  And if you were REALLY bad, he'd take you home and eat you for dinner.  Happy Christmas, indeed.

In this short story, I posed the question, "What would happen if the spirit of Krampus, instead of the spirit of Christmas, filled the hearts of grown-ups across the globe?"  It's a dark, scary day.  Fortunately, we have our young hero, Skip, ready to set things right.

As you threaten your kids with coal this holiday season, tell them they should be thankful that Krampus is not around.  May you not be thrown in a bag at any office party!  You know.  Unless that's your thing.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Interview with Neve Maslakovic

In the continuing monthly series of author interviews, today my guest is fellow 47North author Neve Maslakovic, author of The Incident series and all around great gal.

Why did you write The Incident series? What is it about this project that makes you happy or proud?
I’ve always been intrigued by the idea of being able to go back in time to see what life was like, not for kings and queens, but for ordinary people. Since I can’t actually step into a spacetime warper myself, this series is my way of doing so vicariously. I get to go to a different place and time in each book along with my characters, from the ancient Roman world to medieval Americas.

What was one of the first books to inspire your interest in this genre?
My writing contains elements of both science fiction and mystery. As a child, I read and re-read everything by Jules Verne and Agatha Christie, so I’d say my interest has a lot to do with the works of those two authors.

Who influenced your voice as a writer?
That’s hard to answer, because I feel like I learn something from every book I read!

How did you learn how to write?  How did you develop your style?
Apart from a handful of writing classes, I’m self-taught. In general, I think the only way to develop – or rather, find – your writing style is by, well, writing. And then writing some more. And more, until you discover what works for you.

 What is your process when you begin a new project?
While writing the current book, I’m always mulling over the next one in my head. So when I finally sit down to work on it, I already have a good idea of the main characters and of some of the story. I never have a full outline, though – I liked to be a bit surprised as I write. It keeps me interested!

What are some writing tips or tricks that work for you?
One that comes to mind is to jot down a page-full of quick notes on the scene you plan to write that day. That only works if you know what’s going to happen in the scene. If you don’t, then the opposite approach often works for me, and that’s to just sit down and start typing and see where your characters take you.

What advice do you have for people who want to become writers?
Find a support network of other aspiring writers. I can’t emphasize this enough.

What upcoming projects are you working on?
We’ve just wrapped up the editing for Book 2 in the Incident series -- The Runestone Incident is slated for release in February 2014. I am now hard at work on Book 3 in the series!

For fun:

You're in heaven (so anything is possible) and you own your own television network.  What shows are on your channel?
Since anything is possible, I’d be watching never-filmed episodes of the TV series Firefly, which was canceled after only one season.

What is your favorite pen to write with?
I do all my writing on the computer, except for the occasional jotted down note or sketch. For that I use a gel pen, blue or red.

Favorite beverage while writing?
Dark chocolate mocha from Caribou Coffee, in a mug, not a paper cup.

Name five books you love.
How about I do five authors instead, since that’s somewhat easier. Besides the aforementioned Jules Verne and Agatha Christie, I’d add Jasper Fforde, Connie Willis, and Isaac Asimov. And Douglas Adams. OK, that’s six authors.

Beautifully embossed leather bound editions or paperbacks with great pulp fiction covers?
Hmm, leather bound would look nicer on the shelf, but paperbacks would be lighter to carry around in shoulder bags, so I’ll go with paperbacks.

What is your favorite quote about writing?
I have many of them, but the one that comes to mind is from Annie Proulx. I had to go look it up, but here it is in full:

“What I find to be very bad advice is the snappy little sentence, 'Write what you know.' It is the most tiresome and stupid advice that could possibly be given. If we write simply about what we know we never grow. We don't develop any facility for languages, or an interest in others, or a desire to travel and explore and face experience head-on. We just coil tighter and tighter into our boring little selves. What one should write about is what interests one.”


Neve Maslakovic is the author of the Incident series, as well as a stand-alone novel, Regarding Ducks andUniverses. Before turning her hand to writing fiction, Neve earned her PhD in electrical engineering at Stanford University's STAR Lab (Space, Telecommunications, and Radioscience Laboratory). Born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (now Serbia), Neve currently lives with her husband and son near Minneapolis/St. Paul, where she admits to enjoying the winters. Her next book, The Runestone Incident, is due out in February 2014.

Twitter: @NeveMaslakovic

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Officially a USA TODAY Bestselling Author!

So, as you know, I recently participated in a boxed set called Magic After Dark...

The response has been ASTONISHING!  Thank you, ALL of you, who have picked up a copy!  Not two weeks out and we have hit #33 on Amazon's Top 100, #22 on Barnes & Noble's Top 100, #27 on, and I just found out I'm ranked the #9 most popular fantasy author on Amazon right now.  For real.

But that's not even the best news!  On Wednesday, the USA Today Bestseller list came out and we squeaked in at #150!  The last available slot, but WE MADE IT!

This was for our weakest week of sales, so my brain can't even comprehend what might be coming down the pike.  

Thank you, again, for all of your support of the Magic After Dark boxed set!  This would not have happened without you!  You are AWESOME!  Please continue to tell your friends and share the love!  This party is your party!  And I am eternally grateful.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Podcast with Self Publishing Review

Can't make it to Comikaze and desperately missing the dulcet tones of my melodious voice?  Well desperately miss no more!  I had the privilege of being interviewed by the fabulous Cate Baum on the SPR Podcast and you, YES YOU! my friend, can listen to it here for zero dollars!  Enjoy!

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Put that Halloween costume to good use and come on out to Stan Lee's Comikaze this weekend!  I'll be signing books with the FAAAAHBULOUS Elizabeth Watasin at booth AA-1311.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Magic After Dark

Do you love Maggie for Hire?  Do you say that you do, but guiltily don't know if you love Maggie for Hire or not because you haven't picked up a copy yet?

It is your lucky day!

Dive into six different worlds of vampires, demons, fae, fairy godmothers, mages, and all things magic.  Prepare for a wild ride, whether you’re looking for nail-biting drama, mystery, intense action, humor, new breeds of paranormals, or passionate romance.  Induldge in this amazing boxed set from six bestselling urban fantasy authors:

SM Reine - Sacrificed in Shadow
Marie Hall - Crimson Night
Deanna Chase - Influential Magic
Danielle Monsch - Fairy Tales and Ever Afters
Kate Danley - Maggie for Hire
Dannika Dark - Sterling

Available on: 

Interview with JD Horn

As part of the 47North Author Blog Swap, this month I'll be interviewing JD Horn, author of the upcoming book The Line (Witching Savannah). Know him. Love him. Follow him on his blog (, Facebook (, and The Line's official Facebook page

Why did you write The Line?
My first novel, The Essence of Things Hoped For, found me my agent. Essence is a very personal and hopefully literary work into which I poured my heart. We shopped Essence around for about a year, but no bites. It seemed that everyone who read it loved it, but… (There were a lot of buts.) Rejection left me with the choice of giving up or taking another run at a “first” novel.

The question for me became whether I could write something with commercial appeal that also embodied my “essence,” the aspects of my soul that compel me to write. I got lucky, I fell in love with a character, Mercy Taylor, and with a place, Savannah. I cannot attest as yet to the true commercial appeal of The Line (it doesn’t go on sale until February 1 of next year), but the dark and twisted bits of my Southern Gothic psyche have found a new place to play. 

What is it about this project that makes you happy or proud?
The good folk at 47North,publisher of The Line, liked Mercy enough to allow me to use it as the basis of a new series—the Witching Savannah series. It has been wonderful returning to Mercy’s world, learning more about her and her deeply-flawed but loving family.

What was one of the first books to inspire your interest in this genre?
Wow. This is tough. Peter Straub’s Ghost Story, Dracula, a whole slew of stories where the supernatural infiltrates everyday life. Lovecraft’s wonderful mythos. Most importantly, though, Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita.

Who influenced your voice as a writer?
 Armistead Maupin, Charlaine Harris, Alice Hoffman and a bunch of dead Russian guys. 

How did you learn how to write?  How did you develop your style?
My undergraduate degree was in Comparative World Literature. Rather than inspiring my writing career, comparing my early efforts to the completed works of the greats nearly crippled me. It was only after I began reading the easy and natural style of Maupin’s Tales of the City series that I realized there was a place for me in the literary world. 

What is your process when you begin a new project?
I turn on my computer, turn off everything else, close my eyes and listen to the voices. I ignore the ones that tell me I am not a real writer, that tell me I won’t succeed or that I need a pint of ice cream.  I listen and keep listening until I hear the voice who wants to tell me a story. Then I start typing what it says. No inner editor allowed.

What are some writing tips or tricks that work for you?
Learn to use the delete key. Learn to love the delete key.

What is one of the happiest moments in your writing career?
Having readers take me to task for the events that happen to Ellen Taylor Weber (Mercy’s aunt) and realizing that my characters were becoming real to these readers, that the readers were falling in love with them just as I had.  Signing the ARCs of The Line at NY Comic Con. Meeting my agent and getting a yes from 47North.

What advice do you have for people who want to become writers?
Focus on the creative process, not on the end result. Be willing to start over. Never, ever, ever read Rita Mae Brown’s writing guide Starting from Scratch. Read everything else she has written, but not that. Oh, and take advice from other writers with a grain of salt. 

What upcoming projects are you working on?
Getting ready to work on the copy edits of The Source (second in the Witching Savannah series) and continuing work on The Void (Witching Savannah). On the back burner is a novella, Shivaree, about vampires in post-Korean War rural Georgia. Also, I am planning on revisiting The Essence of Things Hoped For to see if new life can be breathed into the manuscript.

For fun:

You're in heaven (so anything is possible) and you own your own television network.  What shows are on your channel?
Sadly I am a sucker for soap opera. In my heaven, As the World Turns and Edge of Night would still be in production. Oooh, and Dark Shadows, too. That and British murder mysteries.

What is your favorite pen to write with?
Do crayons count?

Favorite beverage while writing?
Coffee, black.

Name five books you love.
The Master and Margarita
The Brothers Karamazov (seriously, not just saying it)
Doctor Zhivago
American Gods
And now I cheat, everything by Douglas Adams

Leather bound editions or paperbacks with a great pulp fiction covers?
I want books I can live with, not books that are too precious to handle. Give me paperback, or better yet, give me Kindle.

What is your favorite quote about writing?
“Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them. There's many a best-seller that could have been prevented by a good teacher.” Flannery O’Connor (a good Savannahian, but probably not a witch…)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Spirit of Denial

For all of you fans of A Spirited Manor  today is your lucky day my friends!  Announcing Book II in the O'Hare House Mysteries.... drumroll... SPIRIT OF DENIAL.  It's about a mummy.  Now say the title out loud.  Yes.

In this sequel to A Spirited Manor, Clara O'Hare and Wesley Lowenherz learn that the phantasm set free at Lord Oroberg's seance is just the beginning. An ancient Egyptian curse has been unleashed by feuding archaeologists and everyone will be digging an early grave unless they contain this spirit of the Nile.

Mysterious Galaxy 10/26 at 3PM

Head on out to Mysterious Galaxy Redondo Beach for the Halloween event Nine Novel Nightmares featuring readings by nine 47North authors (including yours truly), prizes, and other assorted awesomeness!  Plus, come on.  It's Mysterious Galaxy!  Do you need any more reason to show up?

2810 Artesia Blvd.
Redondo Beach, CA 90278

Friday, October 11, 2013

Big Orange Book Festival

In the SoCal area this weekend?  I'll be signing books at Booth #3 at the Big Orange Book Festival on the campus of Chapman University.  Come out and say hello!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013


My old sketch and improv buddy Travis Richey made this great little video that yours truly just happens to be in.  Yay!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Mystery and Imagination Bookstore TONIGHT!

If you're reading my blog, you probably already know my story.  But juuust in case, here's a recap.  November 2010, I self-published my first title, The Woodcutter.  That first month, I sold 22 copies.  The second month I sold eight.

Flash forward to today and I am a full time writer, have close to 80,000+ sales globally, am traditionally published, won a bunch of awards, and one of my series is under option for a movie and television consideration.

So how did that all happen?  And more importantly, how can something like this happen for you.

Tonight, Wyatt Doyle, myself, and Andrew Bisconti will be doing a free, hour long panel at Mystery & Imagination Bookshop in Glendale about the business of publishing.  I will brain dump all of the knowledge I have learned over the past three years straight into your ears.  People helped me out getting me here and this is just a way to pay back the kindness.  So come out!  I will have presents for people who bring good questions!
Mystery & Imagination Bookshop
238 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, California

Wednesday, October 2, 2013


Artistic resistance is a funny thing.  It is that fear which begins to grip you, that tells you what you really want to be doing is watching Netflix instead of working on that THING.   That project.  That one little corner of the universe that is so uniquely yours that no other person on the planet can fill it.

I have been acting since 1989.  A French class was full, and I got moved into drama class.  A girl failed in the whole No Pass/No Play era and I was her replacement in the play. Cue a decade of magnet schools, college majors, and shows in NYC.

But then I moved to Los Angeles and I got this thing Bruce Campbell refers to as "The Spores".  That thing I've only found in Los Angeles where you are told over and over and over again that things start happening when you finally decide you don't want them anymore, so you better not want that film career quickly so that you can finally start getting cast.  So you spend a lot of time trying to convince yourself you don't want to be an actor.  Going to the beach and checking out new restaurants and shops and clubs.  And it works.  You start getting auditions and you meet them with an eye roll instead of a cheer.  You get cast, and you hate being on set.

Earlier this year, I realized that I hate film and television acting.  I mean, with a PASSION.  I'd get parts and despise every minute of it… because I didn't know, in my bones, what I was doing.  Acting on film is basically just doing a cold reading.  You spend all year trying to get a gig, they put you in front of the camera and you get to say, "Would you like wine with dinner?"  It sucks.  So, I decided not to do it anymore.

But then, a few months later, I remembered the only reason why I wanted to do film and television was to have enough of a stable income that I could act on stage.  And suddenly, with this whole writing thing, I realized I have the stable income… I could act on stage as much as I want…

And it is terrifying. 

The theater in Los Angeles is like community theater.  No one does it because they love it.  They do it in the hope an agent will see their work, or a film director will fall in love with them.  Tennessee Williams is a CD showcase.  But as I traveled the world this year, I remembered that everywhere else on the globe, being on stage is the end game, not the consolation prize.

So this summer, I spent nine hours a day, three days a week, for five weeks out in the middle of this forest studying Shakespeare and Alexandar Technique and Laban and scansion and Elizabethan rhetoric.  And I realized I'm really good at acting on stage when I stop apologizing for the fact I'm not any good on film.
Taking this shift, this leap, and only doing theater for theater's sake… I have been reminded of its transformative power, of the way we actors can touch lives and change people's perceptions of the world, even better than a newspaper article or pie chart of statistics or some guy yelling at you on talk radio.  I did a reading the other day and a little old woman got up from her walker to stop me on my rush out to squeeze my hands and tell me I was wonderful.  And knowing the effort it took for her to come down to the theater, how we were her biggest source of entertainment that day, what it took for her to support the arts and she was there… it just reminded me that theater for theater's sake is important.  The creative cesspool of Los Angeles is not the world.  There are people who are searching for this artistic "more" and it is alive and powerful.

And I haven't felt this alive or powerful on stage in years.  I was talking to a friend about it and he said, "It is nice to do theater that you don't have to apologize for afterwards."

I feel like have been apologizing for a long time.  My feet were in two different worlds and neither was getting what it needed.  So, now my feet are firmly planted and it is terrifying to step out boldly again.  But I feel like a loggerhead turtle who knows how to find that beach where she was born.  This is my beach.  It is where I am called.  And, yes, the resistance is still there.   I have a class tonight with an amazing group of artists who are sitting down to tear apart Henry VI just for fun, and the resistance says, "Maybe you should stay at home and… work… clean your house… watching some Netflix… who needs people..."

But I'm not listening anymore.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Me! An interview with me!

While we're talking interviews, Charlie Holmberg was kind enough to return the favor and you can find her interview with me over on her blog by clicking!  Go give her some love!

Author Interview - Charlie Holmberg

Happy October!  It finally feels like the start of fall!  To welcome in this new month, I'm interviewing fellow 47North author Charlie Holmberg, who will be releasing her debut book, The Paper Magician, from 47North next year.  In the meantime, you can check out her awesome blog at Myself as Written or on Twitter @CNHolmberg.

Why did you write The Paper Magician? 
I was getting close to finishing up my current project, so my mind had already put out feelers for what my next story would be about. And then I went on a road trip, and road trips tend to spur thinking.

I had always liked the idea of having a character do paper-based magic, but I’d always considered them as a quirky side character. I’d tried once before to invent a magic system big enough that would have paper manipulation as a branch, but I never came up with anything. Then, whilst on the long road between Moscow, ID and Salt Lake City, I thought, Why make it a side? Why not have the book be about paper-based magic? And it bloomed from there.

What is it about this project that makes you happy or proud?
I felt like I had created an interesting and truly succinct plot for perhaps the first time ever, ha. I felt the idea, or at least its execution was fairly original, and I really liked my character. After writing The Paper Magician, I thought, this is it. This is the book that gets me an agent. Turned out I was right. :)

What was one of the first books to inspire your interest in this genre? 
Oh gosh, I really don’t know book-wise. Lame as is sounds, it was actually an anime I watched when I was thirteen (I had no idea what anime was at the time) that made me want to write fantastical books. And though I’m not much in Japanese cartoons anymore, I recommend Tenkou no Escaflowne to anyone. Great storyline, no silliness.

Who influenced your voice as a writer? 
As far as The Paper Magician and its sequels are concerned, the wondrous workings of Diana Wynne Jones, specifically Howl’s Moving Castle, really influenced my voice. I think The Paper Magician sounds just a little bit different from all my previous works.

How did you learn how to write?  How did you develop your style?
Well, for a long time I just wrote. I started writing at thirteen and wrote a lot of (unfinished) crappy books and a lot of fanfiction that still haunts the Internet.

I took my first real writing classes in high school and had a great teacher. Then I started reading books (I believe my first was Orson Scott Card’s How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy). Then I started attending conventions and taking writing courses in college. And I read, a lot. In my genre and out.

I think my style more or less developed on its own. I feel I owe a great debt to Brandon Sanderson, whose writing course at Brigham Young University I attended for two semesters. Best writing class I’ve ever taken. He was my mentor.

What is your process when you begin a new project? 
I usually have an idea that brews in my mind for a long time—months to years. When it finally clicks in my head and flips the passion switch, I bust out one of my handy-dandy mini notebooks and start writing notes, generally in the order ideas come to my mind. Character sketches, maps, scenes, setting, whatever. When the notebook fills up to the point where I have the bones of a story, I make an outline. When the outline is sound, I start writing.

What are some writing tips or tricks that work for you? 
I think carrying around a notebook in your pocket or purse is great for writing down ideas—they can strike you anywhere.

Making a daily word count goal helped me immensely. It made me get serious about the profession and made me actually finish books.

With writing fantasy, I often come up with the magic system first. My entire story will circulate around how the magic works.

Something interesting David Farland once told me was to treat my manuscript like a movie, and interview different people to play my characters. It helps to get a good idea of what personalities will work best with the tale you want to tell.

Alpha and beta readers. I have two sets of critique partners—writers and non-writers. The writers, or the “alpha” readers, get my first draft. Once I fix everything and make draft two, my non-writers, or the “beta” readers, get the book. They give me readerly feedback that helps me fix the smaller things. Having two sets of readers makes for more drafting, but I think my books turn out stronger that way.

What advice do you have for people who want to become writers? 
Write. I know that sounds stupid, but once you actually finish a book, you’re already above 95% of aspiring writers.

Take criticism. Take all you can, and don’t take it personally. Good news is great for the ego, but bad news is better for the craft. However, take it with a grain of salt. Brandon Sanderson once told me you’ll only use about 1/3 of the criticism you receive, and I find that to be true. Unless more than one person (assuming you use multiple readers) has a problem with an issue you’re not sure about changing, don’t change it. It’s your story.

What upcoming projects are you working on? 
I’m finishing up The Glass Magician right now, which is the sequel to The Paper Magician. On the horizon is the final book to the trilogy, as well as an epic fantasy titled Horizon Drop that’s more or less about seamonsters. I’m excited to dip my toes back into the epic subgenre (it’s been a while).

Meanwhile I’m working on selling two other novels that I wrote before getting my agent, and dabbling in some short fiction as well. :)

You're in heaven (so anything is possible) and you own your own television network.  What shows are on your channel? 
30 Rock, Seinfeld, every single Star Trek series, a whole bunch of NEW Star Trek series, various cooking shows, and America’s Next Top Model (I know, I’m a horrible person).

What is your favorite pen to write with? 
Whichever one happens to be working…

Favorite beverage while writing?
Just water. :)

Name five books you love. 
Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan (uh… that’s technically like, 16 books. I’d take the first one. Or the ninth. Or the 14th.) Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier, Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, and… how about Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt.

Leather bound editions or paperbacks with a great pulp fiction covers? 
I’m pleading the 5th on this one… ;)

Tell us about your favorite teacher and how he or she influenced you. 
Writing teacher is Brandon Sanderson. He had the most knowledge and was willing to just throw it at us. He let people audit his class for free. He told me how the industry itself works, not just how to string together a sentence. He made being published achievable.

What is your favorite quote about writing? 
“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

Friday, September 27, 2013

Announcing... *drumroll*... QUEEN MAB

"Oh then I see Queen Mab hath been with you…"

Everyone knows Romeo & Juliet, but what if it isn’t the whole story?  What if Queen Mab, who is mentioned in only one speech in the entire play, is actually responsible for all the tragedy about to strike the Houses of Montague and Capulet? And her love for Mercutio the key to everything…

Weaving Shakespeare’s original text into a new story, fans of The Woodcutter will love this latest retelling by award-winning author Kate Danley.  Experience the romance of Romeo & Juliet from a different point of view - through the eyes of the bringer of dreams… Queen Mab.
Now Available:

Thursday, September 26, 2013



Appearance Schedule

In case you're around the SoCal locale this October, I have a bucket load of appearances scheduled.  Come out and say hi!

9/29 at 5:30PM
Play Reading of Word of the Day

10/3 at 7:00PM
Doyle, Danley & Biscontini Writers' Panel at Mystery and Imagination

10/4 at 12:00 - 5:00PM
Signing at the #NewTexture booth at San Diego Comic Fest

10/5 at 10:00AM - 4:00PM
Duarte Festival of Authors with Elizabeth Watasin

10/6 at 11:15AM
One-on-One Panel with interviewer Wyatt Doyle at San Diego Comic Fest, followed by a signing at the #NewTexture booth

10/12 - 10/13 at 10:00AM
Big Orange Book Festival

10/25 at 6:00PM
Queen Mab release party at Burbank Ladies Night Out

10/26 at 3:00PM
Spook Halloween Reading with SoCal 47North Authors at Mysterious Galaxy Redondo

Monday, September 16, 2013

Interview with Brian Olsen

Brian Olsen is a very dear friend of mine (in real life, too!  It's true!).  We met in NYC in 1998 and would spend most Saturday nights dancing to the 80s hits at various dive bars in the city and doing terrible theater in awful little spaces whose productions were one step of from a high school forensics Dramatic Interpretation competition.

His debut novel Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom is going like gangbusters.  His book sports a perfect 5.0 stars on Amazon and features a fantastic cast of characters.  If you've ever lived in New York or endured the joys of temping in corporate culture, you'll find yourself identifying with so much of the world he creates in this sci-fi slice-of-life thriller. Sci-fi slice-of-life thriller?!? Yes, my friends.  Yes.

Why did you write Alan Lennox?
I’ve worked in theater my entire adult life, first as an actor and then as a director. My day job has me working evenings and weekends, and that time commitment has kept me from doing much theater of my own. My creative urge was going unfulfilled, and that’s a pretty terrible feeling. You, Kate, had been an inspiration to me with your own books, and writing seemed to have brought you so much happiness, I thought I would give it a try. And I’m so happy – and grateful to you! – that I did.

But that’s really why I started writing in general. As for why I wrote Alan Lennox and the Temp Job of Doom specifically – years ago I used to write plays, sketches and monologues for the stage. Never all that seriously; I wrote to give myself projects to act in or direct. I had an idea for a serialized karaoke musical comedy – yes, really – that had been kicking around in my head for a few years. When I sat down to write a book, that idea transformed itself into Alan Lennox. It’s very different from what was in my head – Alan and Dakota are the only characters who survived the transition, and the thrust of the plot is almost entirely changed – but that was the seed of the idea.

What is it about this project that makes you happy or proud?
So many things. I’m happy, and surprised by, how well writing this book satisfied that urge to make art, in a way I always thought only theater could. I’m proud of the final piece, I think it’s a very good book (although I may be biased). And I’m both happy and proud that readers seem to be enjoying it so much.

What was one of the first books to inspire your interest in this genre?
I’ve been reading science fiction as long as I can remember. Robert Heinlein was the first author I really fell for. Time Enough for Love changed my life. Heinlein wrote hard science fiction, which isn’t exactly my niche, but he got me started.

Who influenced your voice as a writer?
Douglas Adams was a big influence. He mastered a mixture of humor, science fiction and character development with the Hitchhiker’s Guide series that I can only dream of. And Neil Simon, strangely enough – he influenced a lot of my early playwriting when I was a kid, and I think a thread has carried through.

How did you learn how to write?  How did you develop your style?
I’ve spent years directing for the theater, and in fact have my MFA in Directing. When you direct a show you have to understand it backwards and forwards, you have to know precisely what story you’re telling the audience and how every part of that story – every actor, every costume, every prop, every lighting cue – contributes to it. So I learned storytelling from the theater, I think. Beyond that, I learn by doing. I’m definitely still learning.

What is your process when you begin a new project?
When I have the initial idea, I get it down. I sit and write without thinking, just setting down everything and anything that comes to me. No structure, just ideas. I may play with that initial document for a while, filling it out, seeing where it might be going, determining what the story is and what exactly I’m trying to say. Then I outline. I break down, chapter by chapter, exactly what’s going to happen. I usually know exactly where I’m starting and where I want to end up, and most of the work goes to connecting the two. I’ll spend days doing nothing but outlining, until I have a pretty good idea of the structure of every chapter. Only then do I actually start writing.

What are some writing tips or tricks that work for you?
My biggest problem when I started was finding the time to just sit down and write. I would get home from my super-stressful day job and didn’t know how to fit writing into all the things I needed to get done in the short amount of time before bed. I felt like there was no point in starting if I wasn’t going to have time to accomplish anything significant. A friend suggested I set a timer for fifteen minutes every single day, and at the end of fifteen minutes I could stop. The important part was, if I stopped after fifteen I wasn’t allowed to feel guilty about it. So I tried it. Often I found I had done more than fifteen minutes, but even on days when I didn’t, I still got something accomplished and was satisfied. I started writing every single day and haven’t stopped.

What is one of the happiest moments in your writing career?
The first positive review I got from a complete stranger. Somebody who had no reason to say anything good about my book, but liked it enough to do so anyway.

What advice do you have for people who want to become writers?
Write. Self-publishing has changed everything. There are no barriers to you becoming a writer now except for those you put up yourself. If you want to be a writer, start writing. I say that knowing it’s nowhere near as easy as it sounds, but it’s true.

What upcoming projects are you working on?
Right now I’m working on Caitlin Ross and the Commute from Hell, the sequel to Alan Lennox. I’m sort of simultaneously working on the last two books in the series as well – they’re in outline form, and I’m revising them as I work on Caitlin Ross. I’m also digging out some of my comedy sketches to see if they merit revival. Most of them are around twenty years old, so they need some serious revising!

For fun:

You're in heaven (so anything is possible) and you own your own television network.  What shows are on your channel?
It’s twenty-four/seven Doctor Who. The classic show, the new show, the spin-offs, the behind-the-scenes documentaries, even the movies with Peter Cushing. Nothing else. There is no need for any other television, ever, because Doctor Who covers all genres. (And since anything is possible, all of the missing episodes from the sixties have been found. And I get to watch them first.)

What is your favorite pen to write with?
It’s a cheap Bic black pen, I don’t even know the specific name of it. They’re actually terrible pens, they fall apart easily, but I stock up on them. No reason, except that I’ve gotten used to them. I’ve never been one for fancy pens.

Favorite beverage while writing?
Water. I don’t drink much besides water. Isn’t that boring? After the writing is over for the day, vodka tonic.

Name five books you love.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams.
Time Enough for Love by Robert Heinlein.
To Your Scattered Bodies Go (and the rest of the Riverworld series) by Philip José Farmer.
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster.
Another Fine Myth (and the rest of the Myth Adventures series) by Robert Asprin.

Leather bound editions or paperbacks with a great pulp fiction covers?
I can’t have both? I’ll go with the paperbacks. I love those old sci-fi and fantasy paperbacks with the gorgeous painted covers.

Tell us about your favorite teacher and how he or she influenced you.
I’ve had a lot of great teachers, but as far as writing goes, and theater as well, I have to talk about my high school French teacher, Mister Lepage. I had him in my junior year, and he used to make us break up into groups and write “dialogues,” little scenes in French which we would then memorize and perform. I always ended up doing all the writing for my group, and the scenes were funny and ridiculous. (Teenage boy funny – the only one I remember was about the administration turning into zombies and eating the faculty. It wasn’t exactly sophisticated fare.) Mister Lepage also helped with the school theater program, and at the end of the year I submitted a proposal to him to direct the play The Mouse That Roared in my senior year. He suggested I spend the summer writing a play to direct instead. I was a pretty insecure kid, and I was astounded that he actually thought I was a good enough to attempt something like that. I ended up writing and directing my first play, Grave Matters. It went very well, and I eventually choose theater, and now writing, as a career because of the confidence that experience gave me.

What is your favorite quote about writing?
I’ve got two. I’m indecisive.

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” – Stephen King. I’ve done the first my whole life, and I’m now discovering the joy of the second.

“Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.” – Virginia Woolf. I’d better not say which of these I’ve done.

Queen Mab Cover Reveal

Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present... *drumroll*....  the cover of QUEEN MAB!  Tada!  Isn't it gorgeous?  I started writing Queen Mab over a year ago.  One day, while googling some research, I came across the artwork of Howard David Johnson and his painting "Mab the Bringer of Dreams".  I printed out a copy of it and hung it over my desk to act as the touchstone as I wrote.  A few months ago, I contacted Howard David and he graciously granted me the rights to use this gorgeous piece of artwork.  If you're an author looking for AMAZING cover art, I cannot recommend him highly enough.  I mean, just go look at his work.  

Queen Mab will be released later this week, and October is shaping up to be a whirlwind of signings and appearances to launch this lovely lady right.  

October 4 & 6 - San Diego Comic Fest (at the New Texture Booth)
October 26 - Mysterious Galaxy (spooky Halloween readings with 47North authors)

More details to come!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Mystery and Imagination Panel

Join me, Andrew Biscontini, and Wyatt Doyle at the Mystery and Imagination Bookshop on Thursday, October 3rd at 7PM for a discussion on indie publishing and getting that dream book out of your head and into the world.  

As most of you know, I started indie publishing in November 2010.  In this three year journey, I have gone from selling eight books a month to several thousand, have gotten a publication deal, a film option for my Maggie books, and now support myself fully upon my writing.  I am happy to share with you all of the things I've learned so that your journey can be a little less bumpy. 

Mystery and Imagination Bookshop
238 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Author Interview with Jason Sheehan

Happy September, loyal readers!  Today marks the start of a really fun new blog exchange.  As you know, I am a proud author with 47North and once a month I'll be interviewing other 47North authors for your reading pleasure.  This month, I'm host to Jason Sheehan, brain father of A Private Little War.

Why did you write A Private Little War?
I wish I had some great answer to this—like because I wanted to make the world a better place or because I was instructed to by the flowers on my wallpaper. But the true answer is simply that I couldn’t stop. I probably start ten times as many stories as I finish. Sometimes they last a paragraph. Sometimes they last a hundred pages. Some never make it past a fragment of a line. But every now and then I get into one that I just can’t let go of, and A Private Little War was one of those.

What is it about this project that makes you happy or proud?
That I wrote exactly the story I wanted to write. The decisions I made during its construction—from choosing to write about such broken and often loathsome human beings to an authorial insistence that even the worst men deserve to have their stories told to the story’s crashing, bloody and, ultimately, unavoidable ending—might not have been wise or, you know, marketable, but they were mine. I’m sure that more people might like the book if I’d thrown in a few pretty vampires or car chases, but I’m proud that I stuck by my guns and happy that a fair number of people seem to be appreciating a war story that’s not all gung-ho and shiny.

On a lighter and less author-y note, the story has biplanes in it. And because I’m a total geek for weird hi-tech/lo-tech mash-ups, I’m insanely proud of the fact that I managed to write a story that has biplanes and spaceships existing side-by-side in a rational and not-completely-bonkers universe.

What was one of the first books to inspire your interest in this genre?
It wasn’t one book, but all science fiction books written from about 1960 through 1989. My father was a huge science fiction fan. He read just about anything that had spaceships or ray guns or big, slobbery aliens on the cover and always had a big stack of paperbacks on his nightstand that I spent most of my formative years raiding. Through him, I was exposed to some of the best and all of the worst scifi ever written, and every single one of them had something to do with me eventually becoming the writer I am.

Who influenced your voice as a writer?
Oh, man… There were so many. But in no particular order, I’ll say Hunter Thompson for the wildness. Faulkner for the richness. Hemingway for the terseness of a plain-spoken thought. William Gibson for the poetry of colliding histories. And Hubert Selby Jr. for finding the beauty in ugly things. Michael Herr taught me to tell the truth even when I’m making things up. And Ray Bradbury told me it was okay to sometimes just write stories about dinosaurs. 

How did you learn how to write? How did you develop your style?
I thought I knew how to write when I was doing it as a hobby. I really learned how to write when I had to do it to pay the rent. So much of what I do now comes from the night after I talked my way into my first serious newspaper job—the moment when I had to sit down and actually write something that I knew people were going to be reading a few days later and the feeling of abject terror that this realization inspired in me.

What is your process when you begin a new project?
Just write, baby. Just sit down and do it and hope like hell that it’s going somewhere useful or interesting. The beginnings of things are my favorite parts—the point at which the stakes are lowest and the potential for awesomeness most untarnished.

What are some writing tips or tricks that work for you?
I dunno. Does drinking count as a trick?
Oh, and also: Edit as you go. I read somewhere once that William Gibson edits the entire novel every day. Every time he sits down to add some fresh words, he first goes back and edits everything that he’s already done. Now that is just plain batshit crazy, but I am a big proponent of backing up a few pages every day and taking a fresh look at the ground most recently covered. It gives me a bit of a running start, and most days I need that.

What is one of the happiest moments in your writing career?
When Hugh Howey, author of the Wool series, bonafide super-genius DIY author person and one of my favorite modern scifi writers, wrote that he liked A Private Little War. He said, among other things, “You'll want to wear boots and a flak jacket when you read this book. It's everything I love about hard science fiction and war stories, all wrapped up in one.”

And no, I didn’t even have to look that up. I’ve memorized it, and have seriously considered getting it tattooed on my chest. Or maybe taking my agent out, getting him drunk and making him tattoo it on his chest, which might be a lot funnier the next morning.

What advice do you have for people who want to become writers?
Never listen to writers offering advice on writing. Except for maybe Chuck Wendig. Look him up and thank me later.

What upcoming projects are you working on?
I’m currently in the middle of a serialized novel for 47North called Tales From The Radiation Age which is just all full of giant robots and blimps and gooey biotechnology and spies and weirdness and dinosaurs—because when I said I learned that from Ray Bradbury, I wasn’t lying.

Now just for fun:

You're in heaven (so anything is possible) and you own your own television network. What shows are on your channel?
Doctor Who, Night Court, Futurama, Barney Miller, episodes from the missing 7th season of Lost, Twilight Zone, episodes from the missing 2nd (and 3rd and 4th…) season of Firefly. And that’s just night one.

What is your favorite pen to write with?
A black, fine point Uniball or a plain blue Bic. I’ve always found the fancy pens too heavy or too…fraught.

Favorite beverage while writing?
Green tea and Bulleit bourbon. Not together, though.

Name five books you love.
The Chronicles of Amber (Roger Zelazny), Dispatches (Michael Herr), Neuromancer (William Gibson), Dead Girls (Richard Calder), the Aubrey/Maturin novels (Patrick O’Brien). Though ask me again in five minutes and the list would likely change.

Leather bound editions or paperbacks with a great pulp fiction covers?
Paperbacks. Books are meant to be read and loved and carried around and thrown in backpacks and loaned and borrowed and read again. They die a little when you put them on a shelf—which is the natural habitat of the leather bound edition.

Tell us about your favorite teacher and how he or she influenced you.
I had a teacher when I was maybe a sophomore in high school who saw me reading On The Road, took it away from me, gave me a copy of Last Exit To Brooklyn and told me not to tell my parents about it. I can’t remember his name, but I would like to buy that man a beer.

What is your favorite quote about writing?
“Fiction is a bridge to the truth that journalism can’t reach.” --Hunter Thompson. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Scavenger's Daughters

Every Monday, I check in with two incredible writers.  We cheer each other on.  We read each other's manuscripts.  We form our own little circle of support and admiration.  Many months ago, one of those women asked if I would take a look at one of her new manuscripts and see if I had any ideas or suggestions.

What followed was an amazing story so infused with love.  It was called The Scavenger's Daughters and it was written by Kay Bratt.  Kay lived in China for five years, working at an orphanage, and is now a child advocate.  The Scavenger's Daughters is inspired by a true story.

I grew up in San Francisco, and the sounds and flavors of Chinese culture are as comforting as macaroni and cheese out of the blue box or fried chicken.  What I loved so much about this book was that she somehow captured the musicality of the language, the turns of phrase, and the beauty of China and its people.

If you're looking for a lovely read, The Scavenger's Daughters is now available on Amazon.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Introducing Maggie on the Bounty

Ladies and Gentlemen, the long awaited day has finally arrived!  May I present Book III in the Maggie MacKay: Magical Tracker series... drumroll... MAGGIE ON THE BOUNTY!  WOOO!  *cue confetti canons* *marching bands* *fireworks*

This book was written as part of National Novel Writing Month, which is a really cool process.  You commit to typing 50,000 words in a month, which equals about five pages a day.  If you don't outline (like me), you then spend the rest of the year untangling the mess of the first draft, which is why this hasn't come out until July.

But what's cool is that you, my gentle readers, sent me to The Night of Writing Dangerously last year - a seven hour write-a-thon in San Francisco where I sat with writers from around the globe, typing furiously to raise money for the Young Writers Program, which supports free in-classroom creative writing classes for kids.  So, you helped kids and you helped me write a huge chunk of this book that night.  This book literally happened because of you.  Thank you.

So where can you get it?  Here you go!

Amazon Paperback
And coming soon to iTunes!  (they take about two weeks to list things, so... we wait...)

Are you new to the Maggie world?  Maggie for Hire, Book I, is now only 99-cents on Kindle and Nook, and FREE on iTunes!  This series is pure entertainment.  Empty calories and fun!  Think of it as the Twizzlers of the book world. It has about as much meaning as a summer blockbuster.  Whenever I get frustrated with the world, Maggie is where I turn.  I should do a PSA:  "Punch vampires, not people."

Love Maggie and need MORE?  Stay tuned!  Maggie will be BACK this fall with M&K Tracking!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Maggie on the Bounty

Put on your safety vests, readers!  High adventure on the seas ahead!  I am thrilled to be able to announce that Maggie and Killian are returning for their next adventure this July 2013!  You want more specific?  Somewhere around July 15th.

Above is the ebook cover art created by the FANTASTIC LFD Designs for Authors.  Paperback cover art reveal coming soon!  The title of this book was chosen from suggestions on my Facebook page and we have Ray Stilwell to thank!  Thank you, Ray!

Come back for more details.  I'll post them as they come.  Also, if you are a Nook, iTunes, or Kobo person, the Maggie series is currently available on all of those platforms, in addition to Kindle.  Happy reading!