Thursday, July 28, 2016

Interview with William Alan Webb and Spotlight on Military Sci-Fi STANDING THE FINAL WATCH

William Alan Webb
Today on the blog, I'm honored to host the awesome William Alan Webb with an interview about his upcoming release, a military sci-fi, STANDING THE FINAL WATCH (The Last Brigade Book 1). It's due out August 17th from Dingbat Publishing, it sounds epic, and I can't wait to read this one!
Photo published for Standing the Final Watch (The Last Brigade Book 1)
You can pre-order it now on Amazon at:

1. Tell us a little about yourself. 

I’m the world’s oldest teenager. My mind tells me I’m still a 17 year old kid, with everything that goes along with that age. My physical self sometimes disagrees with that chronological state of mind, especially after a long day in the hot sun maintaining four acres just east of Memphis, TN. The good news is that I discover muscles I didn’t know I had, the bad news is that’s because they hurt.
I’m from West Tennessee and remember when most of the Memphis area was glorious wilderness. I’ve seen huge tracts of dense old growth forest leveled so we can have another drive-through doughnut shop, and it makes me sad, even though I’m an inveterate capitalist. I’m feeling pretty protective of the natural world today, so forgive me if I sound preachy.

2.  What is your upcoming debut, STANDING THE FINAL WATCH about, and what inspired you to write it?

STFW is my ode to epic thrillers and science fiction. I call it a rocket ride without seat belts. In terms of prose, my biggest influences are writers like John Ringo (especially the raunchy but over-the-top action of his Kildar series, and the non-stop shoot-em-up of his Posleen books), Robert Heinlein, Douglas Niles’ two Fox books (awesome alternate reality WW2 novels!), Clive Cussler, Roger Zelazny, Mark Greaney, Joshua Hood…the list is long, because I borrow (steal) a little bit from every writer I like. And if there is the slightest sense of the Avengers or X-Men in the narrative, I can’t deny growing up devouring comics.

This book is fun to read, I want to make that clear, because the topic of the book seems grim. The world as we know it comes to an end in a slow and agonizing fashion. First something terrible happens, then things unravel and enemies attack…and what makes it more frightening is that our government anticipates much of this could happen in the real world. So when you’ve got something scary to worry about, what should you do? Have fun with it!

If you read the prologue you’ll figure out real quick that my villains are truly evil. It’s a gruesome beginning because I wanted the sensation of what it might be like to get caught up in a terrorist attack. Judging by the early reviews, I succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. What I think makes my villains worse is they have a Hitler complex: they believe what they are doing is right for humanity.
The book is dominated by Nick Angriff. If you like larger-than-life heroes in the mold of Jack Reacher or the real George Patton, you’ll love Angriff. He’s got plenty of flaws, but at the end of the day is true to his motto: loyalty, honor, sacrifice. He’s the kind of guy you want for a friend, or neighbor, because you can always count on him to help, no matter the situation.

As to inspiration… if you mean what inspired me to write it at the moment I wrote it read any news report or newspaper. Events in the world inspired me. Much of this book was written nearly two years ago, yet you would think it’s ripped from the headlines today. Sometimes I hate being right and I hope I’m wrong about a lot of the prophecies I make in the book.

But I don’t want to leave the impression it’s morbid. This is an action packed thriller I wrote for people to enjoy reading, to stay up late reading and tell their friends the next day “I’m exhausted, but I couldn’t put it down. You’ve got to read this book,” or recommend to their friends for a beach read.

3.  Would you like to share an excerpt from the novel?

Sure. I love this part. I remember the day I wrote it, researching convection and trying to see through the eyes of the falcon…

The broken ground of the Sonoran desert soaked up the heat of the midday sun. As the desert floor warmed it began to heat the air close to the surface, which then caused that air to expand and grow lighter. The lighter air rose in bubbles of warmth called atmospheric convection, but better known as thermals, rising higher until the temperatures of the air surrounding the bubbles became cooler, causing them to sink again and create updrafts. On that blazing hot day the cooling effect did not occur until the warm air was high into the atmosphere.

Wheeling on those thermals, a Prairie Falcon sensed the subtle changes in air temperatures and stayed in the updrafts, using the energy of the warm air to provide the lift under its great wings and keeping it where it could see for miles in every direction. An efficient killer, it could detect the tiniest prey on the desert floor from hundreds of feet in the air. Rattlesnakes, lizards, mice, whatever small prey it could find, it could eat. Once spotted, the bird would fold its broad wings inward and contract its wide tail, before diving to snatch its meal in sharp, hooked talons. On that clear day, however, no prey roamed the desert, because the giant animals that walked upright had come back to dig in the ground. The raptor had no concept of what they might be doing, nor did it care, it only wanted food and they were not its prey, so after a fruitless search it banked off south in search of better hunting.
That’s about six hours of writing! I must have re-written that fifty times before I was satisfied. 

4.  Where is your favorite place to write?
In my frighteningly cluttered office, leaning back in my overstuffed chair, with the wireless keyboard in my lap. I cannot write on a laptop…nope, can’t do it. Unless, of course, I plug in the wireless keyboard, then I’m good. And I always have my youtube playlist cranked in the background, up to 411 videos right now, most of them Status Quo (although I’m listening to Slade as I write this.) 
I have to have fast access to research materials to write. My personal library is about 5000 books and I’m really good at ferreting information from the internet, and have a good sense of what’s reliable and what’s not. It sounds romantic to think about writing on a beach, under an umbrella with a blue or pink drink at your elbow, but for me that wouldn’t work. The writing part, that is. The beach, the drinks, those would work just fine.

5.  You'll be published by Dingbat Publishing, correct? Tell us a little about your experience with them and what made you choose to go with Dingbat Publishing for STAND THE FINAL WATCH?

Yes, Dingbat Publishing is my publisher, that’s correct. Another fine publisher also offered me a contract, and it was a very hard decision as to which company to choose. In the end it was a matter of business, but the other publisher remains a friend and I would yet like to work with them on something.

As to my experience, you ask me this as I just finished a rewrite and my editor has promised the final edits will make me bleed. LOL. Like most writers, I hate seeing even one of my words disappear.
For me, Dingbat was a terrific choice. I know that’s what I’m supposed to say, what debut writer is going to say ‘yeah, they bought my book, but they really suck?’ For me, however, it’s the God’s honest truth. It’s run by this fabulous lady who has written a lot of books herself. What’s even better, she wrote the book for writers on ballistics. Literally, it’s titled Ballistic Basics, A Writer’s Primer On Firearms And the Forensics That Track Them. 

I work hard to get the research correct in my writing, but what a backup when it comes to guns and weapons! I’m also thrilled with the cover their creative team came up with, it’s great.

And let me throw this out there, too: a lot of writers on twitter want input on some of the smaller presses they might be discussing deals with. If Dingbat ever offers you a deal, snap it up. They are great to work with.

6.  If you could choose to live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Somewhere in the Caribbean. Maybe Ocho Rios or Negril, Jamaica. 88 degrees every day is perfect weather for me. But if I stayed in the US, then Florida. Beaches and warmth are why.

7.  What or who has most influenced your writing?
I have so many literary influences it’s hard to pick one or two. I’ll say this, the first writer who inspired me to try and write was Robert E. Howard. The Conan stories written by him are masterpieces of fantasy. Thomas Lyon Russell’s brilliantly imaginative Riding With The Magi showed what you can do with a book, and Tom was my creative writing mentor at the University of Memphis. Roger Zelazny has a style I wish I could emulate. Robert Heinlein showed me the way, and of course Tolkien was almost my religion for a decade or two. It was John Ringo who inspired me to try my hand at military SF, both with his over-the-top Ghost series, my character Green Ghost is an homage, and with his Posleen series. Lastly, Douglas Niles’ brilliant two ‘Fox’ books, Fox On The Rhine and Fox At The Front gave a structure I could follow. Lastly, I would say Cornelius Ryan’s ensemble method of constructing a book is a terrific pattern for story-telling.

8.  Tell us about what your next project will be.
Wow, which one?

The sequel to Standing The Final Watch is written and in its third edit. It’s titled Standing In The Storm. Book three, tentatively called Standing At The End, is at about 20K words with plots point mapped out. A prequel, Not Enough Bullets, is about a third done and I entered the first 50 pages in a contest, so we’ll see how that goes.

I still plan to finish the World War Two book I’ve been working on for ten years now. It’s about 100k words long now, called Bloody Roads West: Army Group South and the German defense of Austria, 1945. You can read a short treatment of it on my website.

In my spare time I plan to rewrite a couple of old fantasy pieces, my first novel, The Queen of Death and Darkness, and a novella, A Night At The Quay.

That should get me through 2017 anyway.

Thanks so much, William, for a fantastic interview! It was a blast having you on the blog today! So, people, go pre-order your copy of STANDING THE FINAL WATCH :).

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Spotlight: Death's Fool (2nd book in the Impetus Rising Series) by Sophia Whittemore

Today please give a warm welcome to Author Sophia Whittemore, who joins us today on the blog with her newly released second book in the Impetus Rising Series, DEATH'S FOOL.  Check out the blurb and an exciting excerpt, and connect with Sophia through social media.

TITLE: DEATH’S FOOL- 2nd Book in the Impetus Rising Series
AUTHOR: By Sophia Whittemore

BLURB:         “Isak was love. Isak was bravery. Isak was death.”
            Her lover has been cursed. Her mother has been kidnapped. Her best friend’s soul has been stolen and his body deformed. And Diana is afraid that she too is turning into a bloodthirsty monster, just like her father. Awoken from an enchantment placed on her by her treacherous lover, the half-Impetus god, half mortal Diana is flung into a war between mutant shadows and the Impetus beings. Diana must navigate a world where queens torture their faithful knights, human children play with giants, and magic has darkness within it. Diana knows she has some power within her, some sleeping evil that demands to be set free. But is she truly her father, or is she her own person? Secrets are revealed to her about the cursed Prince Isaakios that she never knew before, secrets like the women he once had in his life, or the havoc he once wreaked upon the Earth. How far will this twisted love go for Diana before she is broken? Or will she break before she even gets the chance to save the world one last time? 
            Suddenly, a scream sounded through the luxurious halls. A candle tipped over and a fire started on one of the curtains. The ice sculpture began to tip, its base melting from the flames. Pride put out the fire with his strong hands, yanking the curtain down and dousing it in buckets of water with the help of some humans. I looked to see who could have ruined this moment and felt the ground quake. The doors slammed open, causing the floor to tremble beneath us. I nearly lost my footing. The dress disappeared and I was back in sensible training clothing and gear. It had all been an enchantment, a beautiful dream for as long as it lasted.
            And now, back to the present, I saw a darkened figure coming toward us. The candles blazed higher upon the figure’s approach. Face hidden beneath a tattered hood, his eyes gleamed, murky brown, his skin, once bronzed, was now a dull, ashier gray. I peered closely at the boy’s black hair and saw Basel’s face hidden beneath it, stubble dotting worn, drawn features. He staggered against a table with party favors. He shoved slices of turkey into his mouth with stubbed, bloody fingernails, eating like a starving animal.
            Appetite filled, he reached for a pitcher of dizzying nectar and drank it by scooping it up with his hands. His eyes were wild, his laser-focus disconcerting, floating everywhere at once. His gaze narrowed when he saw me. “It’s you!” The creature that once was Basel roared, voice nearly hitting the same pitch as an ethereal wail. “I know your face. You’re the one that cursed me to be…to be…”
            He looked down at his body as though seeing it for the very first time. His veins, once swollen with shadow venom, were now empty and a scarily pale blue as the blood had drained haphazardly from them. 
“What am I?” he asked, his voice dropping to the same voice of the confused boy who fell out of his treehouse and wanted to cry for his mommy back when we were little children. “Tell me what I am!”
            I moved to go to him, but Isak held out an arm. “Don’t do that.” His gaze was stern, taking in all of Basel’s appearance in the cool, calm way of a medical professional. “I’ve seen this before.”
            “Yes, but what is this?” I looked at Basel, swinging about like a violent animal. “Shouldn’t we go to help him? Perhaps he escaped from my father’s grasp—”
            “No, he didn’t escape. Your father let him go.”

Sophia Whittemore is a Dartmouth student and multiracial author with an Indonesian mother and a Minnesotan father. She has had book signings at Barnes & Noble for her Impetus Rising Series, available on Amazon and other outlets, the first book published when she was only seventeen. She has been featured as a Standout in the Daily Herald and a Rad Reads author in Girls' Life Magazine. Her love for the English language manifested itself in eighth grade when she went to the Scripps National Spelling Bee and has continued with other languages such as Spanish and Indonesian. Her prior publications include "A Clock's Work" in a Handersen Publishing magazine, “Blind Man’s Bluff” in Parallel Ink, and winning multiple awards in the Best Midwestern Writing competition for high school writers. She currently resides in Chicago, Illinois with her family and food-loving mini schnauzer called Tiger. Drawing on inspiration from her two cultural backgrounds, Sophia lives a life playing tennis, traveling, and writing about her dual life experiences through other characters in her works or on her blog.
Instagram: @authorsophiawhittemore

Release Date: July 21st, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Sunshine Blogger Awards

A huge thank you to Dana Provo for tagging me along with 10 other bloggers in the Sunshine Blogger Awards! So, here are the rules for taking on this challenge:

• Thank the person who nominated you.
• Answer the 11 questions you’ve been asked.
• Nominate 11 other bloggers, making sure to let each one know that they are nominated.
• Ask the nominees 11 questions.

And now, for the questions I was asked:

  • What is your middle name? Jean...and I also kept my maiden name, Reed, as my official middle name when I did my name change stuff after getting married. On July 4th, my husband and I will have our 8th anniversary! :)
  • When did you first learn how to ride a bike? Wow, I'm trying to remember. I must've been about six years old.
  • Are you the kind of person that likes to plan things or go out on a whim? As with my writing, where I'm a mix of a plotter and pantser, I'm the same way with my life. I plan, but I also like the spontaneity of going with the flow and going out and doing something fun on a whim.
  • What is your favorite thing to wear? Anything cute, really, as long as it's comfortable, too. I have a collection of dresses, so I'll go with that as my ultimate favorite thing to wear.
  • Name a country then explain why you named it? I'll go with Paradise, because that's what I'd want it to be. A tropical island paradise that's a beautiful, heavenly place to live. 
  • What is your occupation? I work as a clinician at a residential facility.
  • If you could own only one animal, what would it be? Definitely my cat :)!
  • Which element do you relate to the most? Why? Fire, Water, Earth, Air, Spirit. Well, I'm a Virgo, so I suppose Earth would be one answer, but I do love the ocean, so water as well. Water is so soothing and relaxing.
  • Are you planning any vacations this year? If so, where? I've been on a couple already to visit family and go to the beach.
  • Name your favorite book? Too many to choose just one! But I still love the DarkAngel trilogy, the Harry Potter books (love the time travel element and the Marauders back story in PoA), Beth Revis' ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series, and the Divergent trilogy.
  • Lastly, do you believe that there are aliens in space? Considering that there are likely billions of suns in each galaxy, and billions of galaxies in the universe, it wouldn't surprise me. Even in our own solar system, we have moons with vast oceans that may harbor marine life. We've already found extrasolar planets that may even be similar enough to Earth to support life as we know it. I think it's pretty likely that other worlds in this immense universe have given rise to life. Some of them may be homeworlds to intelligent life who has taken to traveling among the stars, exploring space.

  • Here are the 11 questions I'm passing along:

    1. What's your favorite dessert?
    2. What book, TV, or movie character is most like you and why?
    3. Where in the world would you most want to live?
    4. Like my MC Leah in MIRRORMASTERS, you discover an ability to control mirrors to see what's happening in other places, other times. You can even travel there through the mirror if you want. What would you do with that ability, and where/when would you travel?
    5.  Who is the author you'd most want to meet and why?
    6.  When did you first start blogging?
    7.  What's your favorite blog post of all time from your blog? Take us down memory lane :)
    8.  Tell us a little about your current WIP!
    9.  What fun plans do you have for the summer?
    10. What's at the top of your list of ways to spend a lovely day off work?
    11. How do you celebrate when you finish writing/editing a novel?

    Now for my nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award:

    Deeba Zargarpur 

    Leandra Wallace

    Dana R. Lynn

    Laura Wadsworth Carter

    Carol Riggs

    William Alan Webb

    Michael Abayoni

    Krysten Lindsay Hager

    Suzanne Thomas

    Kadee Carder

    Krista Wagner