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.