The Word Count Podcast LIVE from READERCON (Episode 88)

LIVE from ReaderCON 30

My posts from the con will be up later in the month as I knock out this episode of the podcast and prepare for the next con this weekend in Rhode Island.

Between getting the book ready for the Beta readers, two cons, and my upcoming thesis defense, so of COURSE I agreed to do a live show at ReaderCon this year. I mean, why the hell not?

Only two of the Word Count Irregulars were on hand for our second live show, so we amped up the story times to 20ish minutes and had a ball putting on a show in Salon C at the Quincy Marriott on Sunday, 14 July.

Here was the prompt for the episode:

You can listen to  the latest show here:

Before we get on with the show notes, a reminder that we are looking to increase the number of likes on the show’s Facebook Page, so hop on over there and tell your friends about us (use the #WordCountPodcast hashtag).

Second, as always, the WCP is FREE to download and listen via iTunes or Libsyn. This show is brought to you by writers who love the opportunity to share their stories with you. In many ways, the #WordCountPodcast is a hobby for us, as there are no advertisers or revenue streams. It’s just us, a microphone, a four channel mixing board and a passion for sharing our words with you.

We are not asking, nor have ever asked, for monetary compensation. This is our playground, and once a month we invite you to join us around a virtual campfire and listen for a bit.

However, I and my colleagues would very much appreciate it if you shared links for the podcast on social media, and perhaps check out each author’s links and bios (posted below).

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to my talented friends:

Our Guests:

W. B. J. Williams – “Rebirth”

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.

Websites: http://www.wbj-williams.net https://www.facebook.com/wbjwilliams http://wbjwilliams.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @wbjwilliams

R. B. Wood – “Dear Dad”

R. B. Wood is a recent MFA graduate of Emerson College and a writer of speculative and dark fiction. Mr. Wood recently has been published online via SickLit Magazine and HorrorAddicts.net and appeared in the award-winning anthology “Offbeat: Nine Spins on Song” from Wicked ink Books.  Along with his writing passion, R. B. is the host of The Word Count Podcast—a show of original flash fiction.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner Tina, a multitude of cats, and various other critters that visit from time to time.

Around the web:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon’s R.B. Wood page

July 2019:The Month of Shenanigans

Hi Everyone!

I hope the celebrations last week found you all in good form and relaxing with family in friends. I, myself, have been of two-minds for the last couple of years celebrating the 4th of July—so it’s good I had something else to focus on!

My upcoming novel, Bayou Whispers continues to progress. While I was delighted to type “The End” at the bottom of the last page of the manuscript, the end (in this case) is just the beginning of fine-tuning the story.

I currently have over 230 notes from the development editor I’ve been working with. She’s been a huge supporter, friend, and mentor to me during the final push to complete my first book in nearly seven years.

Walt and I will be doing the live show at ReaderCON together…

July is ‘the month of shenanigans” for several reasons this year. First, I have two conventions I’m attending (ReaderCON 30 in Quincy, Massachusetts, July 11-14–where I will be recording a live episode of my podcast The Word Count–and I’ll be at NECON in Rhode Island July 18-21). Second, along with the conventions this month, I’m just coming off a week visit with both my grown children. A fun-filled and hectic week, to be sure! An, of course, Third is the novel which is due to the Emerson Faculty reading committee on the 22nd of this month.

There also may be a series of announcements coming up regarding teaching and new releases–but that’s post-July.

When the current shenanigans are over.

NECON: German for “Shenanigans with Fucking Scotch”

That’s it for now…more in a week or so. Thank you again for being with me on this journey!

Peace, love, and hair grease,

R

The Word Count Podcast: Episode 87

Sculptures by the Sea

A short, but delightful show this time around. I thought I’d have a bit of fun with the photo this month. As you know, the theme is Landscapes.

I took a picture from my archive of the gardens at  The Ogunquit Museum of American Art over-looking the sea, and this particular photo caught my eye:

I wrote a story using this picture for our show about mice who used sculptures to communicate to their homeworld, and…it wasn’t anywhere near short enough for the broadcast. Fast flash fiction. That’s what we are about here!

Perhaps next time.

Now, for those of you who are impatient, you can listen to the latest show here:


 

Before we get on with the show notes, a reminder that we are looking to increase the number of likes on the show’s Facebook Page, so hop on over there and tell your friends about us (use the #WordCountPodcast hashtag).

Second, as always, the WCP is FREE to download and listen via iTunes or Libsyn. This show is brought to you by writers who love the opportunity to share their stories with you. In many ways, the #WordCountPodcast is a hobby for us, as there are no advertisers or revenue streams. It’s just us, a microphone, a four channel mixing board and a passion for sharing our words with you.

We are not asking, nor have ever asked, for monetary compensation. This is our playground, and once a month we invite you to join us around a virtual campfire and listen for a bit.

However, I and my colleagues would very much appreciate it if you shared links for the podcast on social media, and perhaps check out each author’s links and bios (posted below).

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to my talented friends:

Our Guests:

Maria Haskins – “When the Dragons Came”

Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator. She grew up in Sweden, but now lives in Canada, just outside Vancouver, with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog. Her fiction has appeared in various anthologies and publications, and she loves flash fiction with every fiber of her old and shriveled heart.

Website: https://mariahaskins.wordpress.com

Twitter: @mariahaskins


W. B. J. Williams – 
“The Guardian in the Garden”

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.

Websites: http://www.wbj-williams.net https://www.facebook.com/wbjwilliams http://wbjwilliams.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @wbjwilliams

Eden Baylee & Bill Kirton – “Freedom”

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her STRANGER TRILOGY with Dr. Kate Hampton–a psychological mystery/suspense called “Stranger at Sunset.” In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created the LAINEY LEE SERIES about a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! 

Bill Kirton was born in Plymouth, England, studied French at Exeter University and graduated in 1962. While teaching at Hardye’s School, Dorchester, he started his PhD on the theatre of Victor Hugo and was a lecturer at Aberdeen University from 1968 to 1989.

He’s also been a voice-over artist, TV presenter and has extensive experience of acting and directing. His directing credits include many French language plays as well as works by Shakespeare, Orton, Beckett and Ionesco. He spent a sabbatical year at the University of Rhode Island Theater Department, which commissioned translations of 3 Molière plays from him, one of which he directed himself. The script also won third prize in the British Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Translation competition, 1999.

Bill wrote and performed songs and sketches in revues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, stage plays, two of which were commissioned by Aberdeen Children’s Theatre, and radio plays for the BBC, two of which were also broadcast in Australia.

Since the late 1990s, his writing has concentrated on prose fiction. He has written many short stories and ten novels, three of which have won awards, with another being long-listed for the Rubery International Book Award.

Bill has held posts as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews and, since 2015, has been organiser of a Scotland-wide scheme which places professional writers in schools to help students with the transition to writing at university. He still gives workshops in schools from Orkney to Dundee as part of the scheme and he’s written five books in Pearson Educational’s ‘Brilliant’ series on study, writing and workplace skills. Bill also co-authored ‘Just Write’ for Routledge.

Website (and blog): http://www.billkirton.com

Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=620980849 https://www.facebook.com/bill.kirton/

Twitter: @carver22

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY

 

Meet the Irregulars: Rob Edwards

Thirteen Questions with ROB EDWARDS

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

Ah, now that is a complicated question. The glib answer, assuming you mean “What’s the thing that stops the writing process dead for you?” is simply “The Internet”. It’s a wonderful research tool, and I’m delighted to be writing in an age where it’s available, but if I make the mistake of going to the wrong web page at the wrong time and starting to read articles or watching You Tube videos… that’s all chances of writing that day gone.

But there are different types of kryptonite in the comics, and they all have slightly different powers. So Green K is what we’re talking about in this case. Red K can have all sorts of weird and unpredictable effects and—that’s the internet too, isn’t it? And Gold K… hmm. Okay, this wasn’t a complicated question after all. The internet. Just the internet.

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I wouldn’t be writing today if it weren’t for the guys from Inklings Press. Stephen Hunt (writing as Leo McBride), Brent A. Harris and Ricardo Victoria, they critique, beta and improve almost everything I write, though their strongest contribution is probably to kick me when my first instinct is to stick a story in a drawer instead of sending it out. They support every aspect of my writing, and I’m grateful for them.

I have to say, though, that the writing community is a supportive one. I met (in an internet way) Maria Haskins through one of our Inklings books, and she put me on to the Word Count Podcast. And there are writers like E M Swift-Hook, Claire Buss and Erin Grey from the Sci Fi Roundtable Facebook group who have encouraged, beta’ed and supported me at various points of my process.

  • Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

So far almost everything I’ve written is completely unconnected. There are a few exceptions, the story Treeson (from episode 86 of WCP) is something of a companion piece to The Lords of Negative Space, my story in Tales from the Underground. And I have a short story on my podcast which tells some background for one of the supporting cast in a novel I’m in the process of finding a home for. But those are exceptions.

  • What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

It was Shakespeare. I know, I know, but it was. I was 12 and we were studying Julius Caesar in class and Mark Antony’s speech at Caesar’s funeral blew my 12-year-old mind. He got to say all these nice things about Brutus, and the rest, for Brutus is an honourable man, so are they all, all honourable men… but he was actually telling people the opposite of what his words said? Crazy. It’s not a startling insight that will shock the readers of this interview, I know, but for me, then, it was a revelation.

  • What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

There are a few I could pick, some of them by authors who may well be better known in the States than in the UK. Let me choose… Memory Blank by John E Stith. The amnesia plot may be a bit cliché, but I read it at an age when I hadn’t quite clicked that sci fi didn’t always have to be ray guns and space battles. This was a murder mystery, but in a sci-fi setting! Wild. I was easily impressed as a child, obviously. But I love that book, so there.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two. Three if you include my active WIP. I have a sci-fi superhero novel aimed at a YA market that I desperately want to call “So you want to be a space alien superhero?”, but there are several problems with that title (not least being the complex copyright associated with the word “superhero”). That book’s finished and I’m looking for a home for it now. And then I have an Urban Fantasy novel set in London in 1999 about demons on the London Underground. I’ve read 12 chapters of that on my podcast, with the plan to finish it while I was recording the year’s worth of episodes. But I forgot to do the writing bit, so it’s still unfinished. That one’s called “Writ in Blood and Silver”. And I’m currently working on a sci-fi adventure novella called “Improbable Cause”.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

There’s no art to it really. I’ll steal friends’ names for minor characters from time to time, but main characters are usually a fusion of rolling it around my brain, saying it aloud a few times, googling it to make sure it’s not the name of a famous actor. Very occasionally I’ll look up meanings on baby names websites, but since that involves using the internet, there’s always an associated risk.

  • Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them; I don’t know that I really “deal” with them. One thing I’ve learned from being in so many anthologies… different stories will work for different readers. I’ve had stories in some of the books described as a highlight, and the same story in the same book described as the disappointment. You’ve got to let them go. But at the same time, I’m always really grateful when anyone takes the time to comment, even if they didn’t connect with my story.

  • Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Not really. Since moving to Finland most of my stories have a Finland reference tucked away in them, if I can work it in without breaking the fourth wall. There’s a character in that superhero novel who has a Finnish name that sets up a really obscure joke that nobody will notice without reading the author’s notes or using Google Translate.

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

It’s the kitchen sink drama moments, the more real and grounded the tougher it gets. Emotional moments about bonding with your arch-enemy’s girlfriend after he ascended to a higher plane of consciousness? No worries. A relationship ending only because the couple have drifted apart over time? I stuck a manuscript in a drawer for (literally (and I do mean literallyliterally)) years rather than having to write that scene. I did write it in the end, and I’m happy with how it turned out, so it’s not that I can’t write them, just, yeah.

  • What is your favorite childhood book?

Rebecca’s World by Terry Nation (creator of the Daleks for Doctor Who). It’s been out of print forever, alas, but it’s a wonderful goofy absurdist romp about a girl who looks through her father’s telescope and gets transported to the world she’s looking at.

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

Let me turn that question on its head, if I may. I’m a storyteller because my dad’s one. He made up endless bedtime stories for me and my sisters when we were kids, he’s put me on to books and comics that he loved and now I do, and I’ve seen him struggle with his own attempts to be a writer over the years. Once I became a regular contributor to Inklings Press, I badgered him several times to submit a story for one of our books. Eventually he did, and I didn’t read it, I wanted to get him accepted into the book not on my say so, but on the other Inklings guys. The first story he submitted didn’t quite fit in the book we were doing, but next time around he submitted a story for Tales from the Underground. The other Inklings liked it and I was thrilled that as a result that book contains stories from both of us. So, from a certain point of view, it would be more accurate to say I’ve supported my family’s career as a writer. Do give his story in Underground a read, it’s called Grandad’s Bunker and it’s a really atmospheric tale.

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, “Writ in Blood and Silver” isn’t finished yet, and I started that in 1999. My superhero novel started life and a NaNoWriMo project. Somewhere between 30 days and 20+ years? The superhero novel in reality took a year to write, then I hid from it for a year, then another six months to edit it to the point where I had to stop myself editing it more. It’s ready to go now. Basically, I’m far too slow to make this my full time career, yet. But I’m getting faster!


BIO

Rob Edwards is a British born writer and podcaster, currently living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and chapters from his novel Writ in Blood and Silver. His work can also be found in anthologies from Inklings Press, the Sci-fi Roundtable and in the superhero anthology Somebody, Save Me!

Podcast: www.storycastrob.co.uk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StorycastRob/

Amazon page: https://author.to/StorycastRob

Meet the Irregulars: Eden Baylee

Thirteen Questions with EDEN BAYLEE

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Fortunately, I don’t have many. I’m in the process of finishing my STRANGER trilogy. The first book, Stranger at Sunsetreleased nearly five years ago already! The next book, A Fragile Truceis due out shortly. 

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Both. As I often write into the wee hours, I’m sometimes exhausted by the process. Afterward, I can’t fall asleep because I’m so energized by the words I’ve written. It’s a strange dichotomy, like exercise which fatigues the muscles but also gives one energy.

  • What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I like to dive right in to writing, so my research is done as I write. If I were to become an expert on a subject before beginning a book, I might never start! Because I’m a “pantser,” I discover so much in the process of research, and this sometimes moves me in different directions. Firsthand experience is the best way to get the facts straight, so I do this whenever possible—especially when it comes to location for a story. In recent years, trips to Indonesia, Cuba, and parts of the US have enabled me to write stories with more detail and greater accuracy.  Aside from this, the majority of my research is done via the Internet and reading of texts.

  • How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Some authors want to make sure their readers are able to follow their narrative at every juncture. I’m not sure how they manage this, but I’m not one of those authors. By committing to myself to write the best story possible, I fulfill my obligation as an author. Beyond that, readers take care of themselves, and I give them a lot of credit to be able to do so.

  • Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

No, I view writing as my profession. It’s work. Meditation and yoga fulfill my spiritual disciplines.

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Yes, and I still do. When I started writing, my mentor told me it would be best to write under a pseudonym for my genre—erotica. My family and friends already knew what I was writing, so I had no reason to hide from them, which is probably why most people use an alternate name. For me, it was primarily to protect my identity from strangers I’d rather not associate with.

After I started writing in the suspense genre, I considered reverting to my real name but decided against it. I’d always written in multiple genres anyway, particularly for the WordCount Podcast. I published these stories on my blog and introduced many readers of my erotica to them. It helped spread the word about my ability to tell a story, regardless of genre. Aside from this, it had also taken me some time to build a following of readers. I had no desire to spend a lot of time re-branding myself, so marketing the name of Eden Baylee as “author of multiple genres” works.

  • What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I’ve written many male characters in my stories, even some from a male point of view. Often, we form opinions of the sexes from stereotypes—men are successful, insensitive, and aggressive, while women are caring, inclusive, and shopaholics. I’ve included perceived positive and negative traits for both, but they are all trappings. When we use clichéd beliefs in our writing, they dilute the authenticity of our characters and make them one-dimensional. As such, we should not pigeonhole our characters based on sex, since human traits are fluid.

  • How many hours a day do you write?

I usually write between 3-5 hours daily. I use word count as a barometer for daily production. If I meet my 2000 word count for the day in less time, it gives me a bit of breathing room. Somedays I struggle for hours and produce very little; other days, I can hammer out a full chapter in less than thirty minutes.

  • What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)

I relate strongly to the mid 30s-early 40s. This is primarily because the main character of my trilogy, Kate Hampton is in that age range, so getting into her head is important. When I wrote erotica, the characters were about a decade younger because those stories evoked a particular time in my own life.

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

In a word—painstakingly! Names resonate with me in different ways, so I have to be sure I can inhabit a character for the entirety of a book. If I hate the name, it’s not going to be easy to write about that person. I have my own definition for what constitutes “strong” vs. “weak” names and will assign them accordingly. One quirk of mine is the naming of male characters I don’t like. They always begin with the letter “M”.

It’s a lesson not to piss off an author, as they will somehow write you into their stories!

  • What was your hardest scene to write?

Violence against women is difficult for me, especially when I started by writing erotica— stories about love. When I write suspense in my short stories or novels, I purposely seek to tackle vile, violent, and sometimes grotesque scenarios. It’s a challenge, but one that I enjoy as I’m attracted to that darker side of storytelling.

In Stranger at Sunset, I included a scene of implied rape. It was a tough chapter to write, one that required restraint because I didn’t want to narrate a rape scene. Instead, I ratcheted up the tension with dialogue and mood leading up to the incident.

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

Yes. I had a career in banking for twenty years before embarking on writing. In many ways, I became a banker to please my parents. When I turned to writing, I was past the age where I needed my family’s support. Still, it’s good to have it.

  • Do you believe in writer’s block?

YES! I answered this question differently several years back when I was a lot more cocky and publishing regularly. I said something like: You’ve never heard of “plumber’s block” so why do writers have “writer’s block?” The inference was that we don’t.

I’ve since learned that you can’t compare plumbing and writing. A plumber installs and fixes pipes, so if you have the proper tools to do so, you’re in business. As a writer of fiction, one of my biggest tools is imagination. The ability to create thought is not the same as wielding a hammer. When you write, you pluck thoughts and ideas from your brain and translate them as words to mean something.

Add to this, mental and physical health, which are both necessary to stay focused.

If any of these tools are not functioning for whatever reason, it can become impossible to write. I’ve had writer’s block for some time now. It’s crippled me in some ways, but it’s also humbled me. I realized that beating myself up over it only made matters worse. I now know it’s not for lack of dedication and desire that I can’t write, and I’ve been trying different things to get back on track. I’m happy to say it’s moving me in the right direction.


Bio

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her STRANGER TRILOGY with Dr. Kate Hampton–a psychological mystery/suspense called “Stranger at Sunset.” In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created the LAINEY LEE SERIES about a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! 

Submissions Open: The Word Count Podcast Episode 87

Sculptures by the Sea

June is here and Summer and spring are still tussling over dominance. One day is hot and humid, while the next requires a jacket and a hat.

But that’s New England for you.

This month, we have an interesting prompt to continue our season of Landscapes.

I took this picture in Maine on the grounds of The Ogunquit Museum of American Art over-looking the sea. It felt almost as if I were looking at sculptures created in another time. Hauntingly beautiful, isn’t it?

The guidelines for submission to the show are below–and anyone can send in a story for consideration.  I’m always open to new writers and new ideas.

I would love to hear from you, either with a story submission or via social media. I have a Facebook Page that could use a few ‘likes.’ The more listeners and contributors we have, the better the shows can be.

There are over 500 original stories at this point—all free for your listening pleasure, all we ask is for people to help get the word out. Click the link:

The Word Count Podcast Facebook Page

If you want to listen to the past (free) shows, the links below will take you to them:

LIBSYN

or

iTunes

There are eighty-seven shows available right now!

SUBMISSION GUIDELINES

THE WORD COUNT PODCAST – EPISODE 87 “Sculptures by the Sea”

GENRE: Any.

DEADLINE: I must receive your submission by Saturday 22 June 2019 by MIDNIGHT Eastern time.

THE DETAILS: The work must be an original story in English based on the picture theme above.

Do NOT exceed SEVEN minutes.

As this is a podcast, I need to receive a file of YOU, a friend or multiple friends reading (singing or otherwise performing) your work. MP3 FORMAT ONLY, and please attach your MP3 file to an e-mail or contact me for a Dropbox link.

Your submission MUST also contain the following:

• Your pen name
• Your latest bio (DO NOT ASSUME I HAVE YOUR LATEST)
• Links to your website(s) – Include your personal site, Facebook Fan page, etc.
• Your Twitter handle (if you have one)
• A photo of you I can use for the show notes
• At the end of your recording, please add “This is the author of […] and you’re listening to The Word Count Podcast.
• Permission to use your recording in the podcast.
• PLEASE Make sure you have included ALL ARTIFACTS I have asked for. Do not assume I can “Get your picture from the internet” or can “Pull your bio from your web page.”

Send your file to me@rbwood.com (or via the dropbox link I can provide) by 22 June 2019. You can also e-mail me with questions beforehand. I do reserve the right NOT to post your submission, but I will communicate that to you should it be the case. I add the ‘Explicit’ tag to the ‘cast, so if your story uses adult themes or language that’s ok—but it should be necessary for the story.

***NOTE: I will NOT accept stories that are discriminatory in ANY WAY (whether it be by race, sexual orientation, gender, religion, etc.), or that include rape. ***

Peace

Review: Sal & Gabi Break the Universe by Carlos Hernandez

Rubber Chickens for EVERYBODY!!

Review of

SAL & GABI Break the Universe

by Carlos Hernandez

5/5 Stars

First, a few words about the marvelous work the Rick Riordan Presents imprint is doing in bringing to the forefront of young adult literature amazing stories for different cultures, peoples, and perspectives.

While Riordan is known for his mythic tales of gods, demi-gods, and magic, Carlos Hernandez graces us with his own brand of magic filled with Cuban-American culture, cuisine and a delightful smattering of specific slang and flavor of Spanish experienced in the community of which he hails.

I meant it when I wrote ‘magic.’ Sal is an aspiring magician—and I ordered a rubber chicken in Sal and Carlos’ honor!

But what really makes the story soar are the characters and characterizations in the novel. These kids (and these days, anyone under thirty is a kid to this old man) feel extraordinarily real to me. How they speak, how they act, and how they interact felt perfect. They aren’t orphans or “Peanuts kids” (no parents around). Nor is anyone the pure “Christ figure” or the “Devil figure.”

The “bully” at the beginning of the story isn’t a bully at all. Gabi is NOT the brilliant “Hermione-Granger” type she starts off as. No one is all perfect or all flaws.

Just like…real people.

Of course, real people can’t yank things back and forth between Universes, but that sort of whimsical ability plays into the situational adventure Hernandez weaves here. Tension is created by events and we get to watch (me rather gleefully) as these delightful characters react in ways that are unexpected at first but make sense as you close the back cover.

It’s how Hernandez plays with the expected character buckets and tropes of the genre (helped by exquisite prose) that make this story so much fun.

If you aren’t cheering for Sal, Gabi, and Yasmany throughout the story, I don’t know what to say to you.

My only negative is the duration of the wait until we find out how Sal & Gabi Fix the Universe. Oh, book two…I need you now!

But I’ll be on the line at the book store day one of the sequel’s release to get me a copy. Of that, you can be sure.

Carlos at a reading, BOSKONE 2017 and his signature in his book “The Assimilated Cuban’s Guide to Quantum Santeria”

 

Meet the Irregulars: Deanna Rice

Thirteen Questions with DEANNA RICE

  • Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I find that it usually energizes me, especially when the words come easily and quickly; when my characters take over and start making their own decisions and I try to keep up with narrating it all. Occasionally, usually toward the end of NaNoWriMo, when I’ve fallen behind on my writing goals and I’m struggling to catch up while also meeting all of my work, home and social responsibilities, I will write late into the evening. Those late, stressful nights are the only times when writing exhausts me.

  • What is your writing Kryptonite?

I like stories and Netflix has so many to choose from…

  • Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Absolutely! Romance novels sell like hot cakes, as they say, and I’ve considered writing a couple to at least get my name out into the publishing world. The only problem with this plan is that I’m not sure I want anyone I know to read dirty the dirty bits and start looking at me differently. Just imagine if my mom read it!!

  • Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

The book I’ve nearly completed is currently a stand-on-its-own work, however there is the potential for subsequent novels in the same universe. The second novel, which I started last NaNo, was just going to be its own work but it’s now definitely going to be part of a series. I’m already planning plots for the next installments.

  • If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Keep going. Maybe you don’t think your stories are that great but keep writing and you’ll continue to grow. There are people out there who are waiting for your words.

  • What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Two years ago I went to my first writing convention/conference, Readercon. A friend and fellow writer invited me to join her and I’m so glad I said yes. It was amazing to be surrounded by so many people who were working toward the same goals. By the time I was getting into the car to head back to Maine, I had several new novel ideas swirling around in my head and I couldn’t wait to get back home so I could start writing!

  • What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?

There’s this awesome picture of a very young me (maybe 4?), sitting on the floor in our house. I’m beaming up at the camera while I pose beside the crayons I had arranged on the floor to spell out my name. One of the n’s is backwards but my parents were so thrilled and proud of me. I think the memory of their joy stayed with me through the years and influenced my love of words, books and writing.

  • How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Ooh, that’s a good question. I have one that is very near completion, I just need to finish my second round of editing, then get it out to a couple of beta readers for some initial feedback. I have another that’s roughly ¾ written but will need plenty of editing. I have a third which was several chapters in…then I somehow managed to lose two chapters… I was so distraught I just walked away from it. I hope to return to it at some point but the pain is still too fresh. If we count the stories I wrote as a kid, I’m probably at…..5 or 6 unfinished works?

  • How do you select the names of your characters?

I write a lot of fantasy so I’ll often think about the time period in which I’m setting my story. Most recently I started a novel set in Victorian London, so I did a bit of research into what names were popular in that region in the 1800’s. I browse through names until I find a few that I like, then gradually narrow them down until I settle on one. Sometimes this process takes a bit longer than others, haha!

  • Does your family support your career as a writer?

They do, absolutely! My mother also writes so she’s always encouraged me to be creative and work on my stories. My dad doesn’t really get the writing thing but he knows how much I want to make it happen and is supportive of my efforts. My husband is probably my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He will periodically ask me what progress I’ve made in writing/or editing and give me a good, swift (metaphorically speaking) kick in the pants when I need it!

  • How long on average does it take you to write a book?

Well, the book I’ve nearly finished has taken me several years. I stopped and started many times, including starting over a couple of times, even changing the time setting. Once I found the right time period and setting, it took roughly a year to get the story out and start editing. The story for my second novel is nearly out, aside from some editing and a few scenes I want to add in during that process. The shorter time period means I’m getting better at this thing, right?! XD

  • Do you believe in writer’s block?

I think I believe in it, yeah. There have been times when I’ve just felt stuck in a scene; where nothing seems to be going the way I want it to and I just can’t find the words I want. In the past I would just step away from the novel for a while. Unfortunately, this would lead to me not doing any writing for an extended period of time. Nowadays, I tend to just write through the blocked scene. Even if the words are awful when I write them, even if it’s a painstaking task to get them out, eventually I will find my way out of the scene and move on to something that gets my creative juices flowing! I’ll fix that bad section during editing!

  • What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?

I’m friends with Melissa Burkhart and you, Richard! I’ve also met a few others through NaNo who, though I don’t know their names, are an important part of my daily social media routine. All of these people (including you, Richard), are such a huge inspiration for me. Everyday I see updates about what they’re all doing, how much progress they’ve made and how excited they are about their work. They make me want to work harder and do great things! Good luck to all of you! You’re amazing! <3


Bio

Deanna lives in central Maine with her husband, Matt. She just completed her Master’s Degree in English this past December, and has been working on her writing since then! She’s nearly completed editing of her first novel, has completed roughly half of a second and has a second short story in progress. When not writing, she can be found knitting, reading or watching the latest Marvel movie or Game of Thrones episode.

Websites:

https://www.facebook.com/deannariceauthor/

deannanjrice.wordpress.com

Twitter: @t3hdoublehelix

Instagram: deannanjrice

Review: Blood Standard by Laird Barron

Violence Was His Day Job

Review of

Blood Standard

by Laird Barron

 

 

4.5/5 Stars

Blood Standard by Laird Barron Is a violent, noir-esque mystery where the “hardboiled detective” is a mixed race (Maori/Caucasian) ex-mobster/hitter from Alaska.

Isaiah Coleridge’s love of animals gets him in trouble when he attacks a made-man of “the Outfit” who was heading up an illegal Walrus hunt to indulge in the black market ivory trade. Coleridge finds himself exiled to Upstate New York as a result and becomes a farm hand at a small, independent horse ranch. Where trouble is never less than a step behind the former hit man. When a local young woman with a troubled past goes missing, Isaiah quickly finds himself caught between local law enforcement, the Feds, mobsters, and street gangs–Familiar territory for Coleridge.

Barron does his normal Steller job creating deep characters who all walk in the grey areas between light and dark. His horror story background is used well in building tension and in creating a narrative full of twists and violence.

Laird Barron has crafted a terrific new series, and his fans from the horror genre should enjoy this fast-paced yet introspective tale typical of his writing. With the second in the series out now, I look forward to my next adventure with Isaiah and the quirky characters of rural New York.

Personal note: I had a wonderful hour-long conversation with Laird at the Merrimack Valley Halloween Book Festival last October, where we discussed his Coleridge series. He was the one who convinced me to take my upcoming novel Bayou Whispers and change it from a horror novel to a Supernatural Thriller.

 

The Word Count Podcast: Episode 86

Forest of Wonder

Welcome to episode 86 of the #WordCountPodcast!

The weather is getting warmer and the longer days are beginning to conjure thoughts of pools, barbeques and seaside drinks with little umbrellas in them here in Boston.

This month, our intrepid authors–the Word Count Irregulars are continuing the season of Landscapes with this photo of crocuses in a forest:

Pretty, huh?

Now, for those of you who are impatient, you can listen to the latest show here:

 

 

Before we get on with the show notes, a reminder that we are looking to increase the number of likes on the show’s Facebook Page, so hop on over there and tell your friends about us (use the #WordCountPodcast hashtag).

Second, as always, the WCP is FREE to download and listen via iTunes or Libsyn. This show is brought to you by writers who love the opportunity to share their stories with you. In many ways, the #WordCountPodcast is a hobby for us, as there are no advertisers or revenue streams. It’s just us, a microphone, a four channel mixing board and a passion for sharing our words with you.

We are not asking, nor have ever asked, for monetary compensation. This is our playground, and once a month we invite you to join us around a virtual campfire and listen for a bit.

However, I and my colleagues would very much appreciate it if you shared links for the podcast on social media, and perhaps check out each author’s links and bios (posted below).

In the meantime, allow me to introduce you to my talented friends:

Our Guests:

Bill Kirton –  “Flower Power”

Bill Kirton was born in Plymouth, England, studied French at Exeter University and graduated in 1962. While teaching at Hardye’s School, Dorchester, he started his PhD on the theatre of Victor Hugo and was a lecturer at Aberdeen University from 1968 to 1989.

He’s also been a voice-over artist, TV presenter and has extensive experience of acting and directing. His directing credits include many French language plays as well as works by Shakespeare, Orton, Beckett and Ionesco. He spent a sabbatical year at the University of Rhode Island Theater Department, which commissioned translations of 3 Molière plays from him, one of which he directed himself. The script also won third prize in the British Comparative Literature Association’s Annual Translation competition, 1999.

Bill wrote and performed songs and sketches in revues at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, stage plays, two of which were commissioned by Aberdeen Children’s Theatre, and radio plays for the BBC, two of which were also broadcast in Australia.

Since the late 1990s, his writing has concentrated on prose fiction. He has written many short stories and ten novels, three of which have won awards, with another being long-listed for the Rubery International Book Award.

Bill has held posts as a Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at universities in Aberdeen, Dundee and St Andrews and, since 2015, has been organiser of a Scotland-wide scheme which places professional writers in schools to help students with the transition to writing at university. He still gives workshops in schools from Orkney to Dundee as part of the scheme and he’s written five books in Pearson Educational’s ‘Brilliant’ series on study, writing and workplace skills. Bill also co-authored ‘Just Write’ for Routledge.

Website (and blog): http://www.billkirton.com

Facebook pages: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=620980849 https://www.facebook.com/bill.kirton/

Twitter: @carver22

Amazon:https://www.amazon.com/Bill-Kirton/e/B001KDNSLY

Maria Haskins – “After the Fall”

Maria Haskins is a Swedish-Canadian writer and translator. She grew up in Sweden, but now lives in Canada, just outside Vancouver, with a husband, two kids, and a very large black dog. Her fiction has appeared in various anthologies and publications, and she loves flash fiction with every fiber of her old and shrivelled heart.

Website: https://mariahaskins.wordpress.com

Twitter: @mariahaskins

Rob Edwards – “Treeson”

Rob Edwards is a British born writer and podcaster, currently living in Finland. His podcast, StorycastRob, features readings from his short stories and chapters from his novel Writ in Blood and Silver. His work can also be found in anthologies from Inklings Press, the Sci-fi Roundtable and in the superhero anthology Sombody, Save Me!

Podcast: www.storycastrob.co.uk

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/StorycastRob/

Amazon page: https://author.to/StorycastRob

R. B. Wood – “The Crocuses are in Bloom”

R. B. Wood is a recent MFA graduate of Emerson College and a writer of speculative and dark fiction. Mr. Wood recently has been published online via SickLit Magazine and HorrorAddicts.net and appeared in the award-winning anthology “Offbeat: Nine Spins on Song” from Wicked ink Books.  Along with his writing passion, R. B. is the host of The Word Count Podcast—a show of original flash fiction.

R. B. currently lives in Boston with his partner Tina, a multitude of cats, and various other critters that visit from time to time.

Around the web:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Amazon’s R.B. Wood page

Eden Baylee  – “Dream of Fields”

Eden Baylee left a twenty-year banking career to write and is now a full-time author of multiple genres.

She has written three collections of erotic novellas and flash fiction ~ SPRING INTO SUMMER, FALL INTO WINTER, and HOT FLASH.

In 2014, she launched the first novel of her STRANGER TRILOGY with Dr. Kate Hampton–a psychological mystery/suspense called “Stranger at Sunset.” In addition to working on her next novel, Eden created the LAINEY LEE SERIES about a feisty divorcée who finds adventure and romance in Hawaii.

An introvert by nature and an extrovert by design, Eden is most comfortable at home with her laptop surrounded by books. She is an online Scrabble junkie and a social media enthusiast, but she really needs to get out more often! 

W. B. J. Williams – “The Lavander Path”

W. B. J. Williams holds advanced degrees in anthropology and archeology. He is an avid historian, mystic, poet, and author who manages an information security program at a prominent New England firm. He is noted for his bad puns, and willingness to argue from any perspective. He is endured by his beloved wife and two daughters, and lives in Sharon Massachusetts. When he is not at home or at his computer, he can often be found haunting the various used bookstores of Boston.

Websites: http://www.wbj-williams.net https://www.facebook.com/wbjwilliams http://wbjwilliams.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @wbjwilliams

 

Writer of Things. Podcaster.