Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Interview with Author Dr. Ephraim Bates

Dr. Ephraim Bates
Chattanooga, TN, USA

Good morning, Dr. Bates.  Welcome to Vision and Verse, the Place for Art and Authors.  It is a pleasure to have you here with us.  Let's get to it.
Q. What have you written?
A. Songs…and a ton of them. My buddy and I are getting ready to put out our fourth album next month.
Oh, and “Boom!!...Killers.” my first foray into the novel writing field (and probably the reason we’re doing this interview right now).

Q. Yes, probably.  What is your favorite genre to write?
A. It’s hard to say. I have so many stories that I have worked on in my days as a younger man. Love action, love conspiracy stories, and I really like books that are funny. I guess I love the three so much that I wrapped them all up into one genre: the comedic action thriller.
And that’s what “Boom!!...Killers.” is…funny, full of intense thrill rides, and action by the buckets.  And it’s funny.  Did I say that already??

Q. Favorite food?
A. Whatever you’re makin’, baby.     

Q. That is one of the characteristics of the ideal man in my book.  Tea or coffee?
A. Tea…no sugar.

Q. Pizza or ice cream?
A. I have found this new frozen pizza from California Pizza Kitchen, and they – in my opinion – blow all other frozen pizza out of the water…and the freezer.

Q. Where would you like to visit?
A. The minds of my ex-girlfriends just so I can see what it was that they were thinking. But, yeah, just for a visit. Much more than that and I would probably be visiting the psych ward.

Q. I was really going for an actual place, like Italy or Scotland.  Apparantly, you like scary stuff. Favorite musical artist?
A. The Outfield.

Q. Do you listen to music when you write?
A. I do.

Q. What?
A. I actually have a soundtrack to “Boom!!...Killers.” Every time I would write, I would listen to that soundtrack…over and over and over again. I have a new one for the sequel, “Bang!!...Assassins.” that I put together, too.
And I listen to it over and over and over…

Q. What makes you laugh?
A. Great one-liners that are both absurd and yet fitting at the same time.

Q. Favorite work of art or sculpture?
A. I used to teach 4th grade so I love those works of “art” that hang at home on the refrigerator. Beautiful, innocent, and pure.

Q. I taught first grade, and in our home I have artwork that my student's gave me, framed and matted and amazingly beautiful.  How old were you when you started writing?
A. Overall…I was six. Intelligibly? Probably around 9th grade

Q. Describe your perfect evening?
A. Snowed in and safe with a particular set of friends, and we would sit around the fire place talking about music, politics, movies, life, and faith.

Q. Snow?  Where do you get your inspiration?
A. Music, dreams, and the lack of good story telling in other books that I read.

Q. What do you do when you get a writer's block?
A. I put it with all my other writer’s blocks in hopes that one day I can build a writer’s castle.

Q. That would be a useful thing to do with them.  I'll keep that in mind.  Who is your favorite author?
A. Ed McBain, Solomon.                   

Q. Last book you read?
A. Mica Rossi’s “Once In A Blue Moon”.

Q. I have that one on my To-Be-Read List!  What would you do for a living if you weren’t a writer?
A. Well, I do so many other things: musician, teacher, tutor, etc.
I guess if I had to pick something that would be my dream job besides everything else I do is… Disc Jockey.

Q. Who is the one person who has influenced your personal life the most and why?
A. There is no one person. My life as I know it now has been influenced by a collective of people. To single out just one would be doing a disservice to everyone else that has been just as important.

Q. If you could sit down and have a conversation with ONE person, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why?
A. Noah. I would love to know how the whole ark thing worked/was made, and the two of every creature being on it, and how pro-creation went after the waters alleviated after the worldwide flood was over.

Q. What advice would you give someone who aspired to be a writer?
A. Have a ton of story ideas in your head before you write your first story. Don’t just go with whatever you come up with first. You will need to follow up with something else pretty quick, and you will need to make it good so that people don’t:
1: Think you are one and done.

2: Think you are a one hit wonder.

That was the same advice Stephen King gave.  He said after you finish your first book, start your second one.  Well, Dr. Ephraim Bates, you are a real character.  I think we'll be hearing a lot more about you! Thank you for stopping by Vision and Verse this morning.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Cover Reveal of STARGAZER by Sunniva Dee

Title: Stargazer(Halo's #2)
Author: Sunniva Dee
Genre: PNR/New Adult
Release Date: October 31, 2014
Goodrerads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21798222-stargazer?ac=1

I’m Luna, and I’ve been in the Twilight Zone since I moved in with my sister and her boyfriend.
I sense their secrets in every corner of the house.

Gabriel is eerily beautiful, and his personality disturbingly perfect, while Gaia’s inexplicable PTSD and mood swings bounce her between bliss and despair.
Until Gabriel’s brothers pay a visit.

He’s the night to his brother’s day. He’s sex personified and the devil in one hell of a stunning package. It’s been years since I last saw him, but this man makes me burn. He hooks me with his touch. Enthralls me with those oddly simmering eyes. He pierces my soul with his knowing smirks, and I am losing myself in him.

With pearlescent hair and spring green eyes, he crashes into my world. I thought this crazy, beautiful man could mend my bleeding heart. Make things recognizable again—normal. Instead he pulls me from the embers and feeds me to the open fire.
College life. Is this what everyone goes through?

About The Author

Originally from Norway, I moved to the United States twelve years ago. I hold a Master's degree in languages and taught Spanish at college level before settling in at the Savannah College of Art and Design as an adviser.
I write New Adult fiction, sometimes with a paranormal twist—like in “Shattering Halos,” published by The Wild Rose Press in February 24th 2014 and in “Stargazer,” estimated release date, November 2014. The first book I’m self-publishing is the New Adult Contemporary novel “Pandora Wild Child,” which will make me a proud indie author in October 28th 2014!
I specialize in impulsive heroines, bad-boys, and good-boys running amok. Then, there’s the intense love, physical and emotional attraction beyond reason—sensory overload for the reader as well as for the characters. Like in real life, I hope you’re unable to predict what comes next in my stories.
Yes, so I write what I love to read, and depending on the reader, you'll find my books to be a fast-paced emotional rollercoaster—or disturbing because the struggles of love aren’t your thing. Here’s to hoping you have the same reading vice as me! ;-)

What the hell happened back there? She was one measly Earthling. A single goddamn daughter of Eve out of thousands, millions—billions! I was pitiful.
I went home after she slipped out of my arms. Now, I drew in a deep, cleansing breath and reached for the glass of champagne on the nightstand.
Empty already?
I untangled from the last chick and got up. In her stupor, a blissful smile still curled her lips. It’d never made me impatient before.
A chilled bottle waited at the wet bar. I snapped it open and poured icy fizz over the strawberry I’d squeezed too hard. The fruity mass resembled bloody entrails, which suited me fine.
Lingerie. My gaze trailed over the second girl. An arm and a leg strained limp toward the floor, soft skin reflecting from the wall-wide mirror. The curve of her ass, the sheer thigh-highs I’d rolled down a fraction. All details that simply made my existence.
This trio would be out my door soon with their minds erased.
“You want another glass?” I grumbled to Perky-Boobs. Not that I couldn’t remember names—some just bored me.
“I—I…” she gasped out.
I hadn’t taken her yet. To attain the hint of a thrill, I’d skipped the dazzling on this one. She sat rigid against the headboard, chest heaving with desire and anticipation. So fucking predictable.
She pinned her knees together, and they tipped demurely to one side. Now she flicked a wide-eyed glance at her friends.
Luna went to Ka again.
I did enjoy how Perky Boobs’ negligee slid open to reveal puffy areolas as she shifted.
“Never mind,” I said. “Your drink can wait.”
And to hell with the Samuelle girl.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Guest Blogger Nathan Barra

The Truth in Fiction
by Nathan Barra

For many, college is the first opportunity for true independence in a young adult’s life. You see, up until that point, I had focused on preparing myself for a highly technical education and career. However, now that I was in one of the best engineering schools in the country, I decided that I wanted to do something completely different, just for the joy of the activity and not for any personal gain. To this end, I spent three and a half years on stage performing live improvised comedy. Improv practices and shows were bastions of silliness and joy in an otherwise demanding curriculum, but they also taught me more about how to tell stories than anything that has come before or since. Despite going to an engineering school with a small liberal arts program, university was when I learned the most about my writer’s craft.
"You see Nathan,” one of my mentors in the troupe once told me, “there is a truth in comedy. People laugh because a joke makes them uncomfortable, makes them look at something in a new way, or because they appreciate the irony of a situation. In all these cases, the line you're delivering must ring true in order to get the best laugh." Though he was trying to improve my stagecraft, I have found that the validity of the maxim extends beyond the stage and onto the page. We find meaning in stories because they ring true to our lives and experience. We put our reader in impossible situations and rely on suspension of disbelief to carry the day. Yet, despite the killer robots, wizard battles, and intergalactic warfare, our readers will believe in our words and world if and only if the characters, their motivations, and decisions ring with a truth they can recognize.
When I was invited to submit to the One Horn to Rule Them All anthology, I struggled with several story concepts. They were all interesting and technically sound, but none felt true to me. However, several weeks before the anthology’s deadline, I attended Phoenix ComicCon. One of my favorite parts of conventions, especially ComicCons, is the cosplay. I am very passionate about stories, after all. To see characters from my favorite works step off the page and walk into the real world is thrilling.
During the long drive home from Phoenix, Arizona to West Texas, I had plenty of time to think about the convention and realized that I could take the idea of cosplay one step further. What would it take to make a cosplay so real that it crossed into reality? What if some magic existed that would bring the imagination to life? How would this power be used and abused? For me, it seemed pretty obvious that at some point, someone would make themselves into a superhero. That was the central truth, the catalyst I needed to make the rest of the story ideas I had brewing come together and fall into balance to become The Girl with the Artist’s Eyes.
From that initial concept, I started looking for other truths. For a cosplay to standout to a veteran ComicCon attendee, it had to be either fantastic or horrible. In this truth, I found the comedy I used to infuse Walter Sams’ heroic costume. Also, from my observations at conventions, cosplayers are just as fond of villains as they of are of heroes. From this truth, I found conflict and one of the dramatic twists my beta readers loved best. Finally, I needed to balance the fantastic ideality and antics of Walter Sams with a second main character. I turned to another truth; Life is hard, and it is our struggles that not only bring value to our experiences, but also reveal to us what it is that we value most. From this seed, I created the character that eventually became Catalina.
Mixing these pieces together and balancing their elements against each other, I created the main themes of my piece: good versus evil, the discrepancy between intent and reality, and the necessity of the choices we make to shape our world and the obligation they incur. Looking at these central concepts, you can see that they are based in solid truth, as almost any theme is. By grounding my story in truth, I allow my reader to accept the fantastic as a matter of course.
In the end, I'm very proud of the work I did with the story. It has taken its place in the One Horn to Rule Them All anthology next to professional and semi-pro authors I respect and admire. What makes this anthology even more special is the story behind the herd of purple unicorns. You see, I have been blessed enough in my career to be able to afford conventions like the Superstars Writing Seminar. It has been one of the most professionally rewarding experiences I have had, and has given me the opportunity to build a fiercely loyal and supportive tribe of fellow writers. However, because the seminar attracts big name writers and editors to teach, though fairly priced, the cost of attendance is out of the reach of some writers. Recognizing this, what started as a tongue-in-cheek example at last year’s seminar has turned into a charity project with the full support of the 19 authors and the publisher of the anthology. Early on in the project, the writers and publishers of the One Horn to Rule Them All anthology decided to channel all the profits from the sale of the anthology to a scholarship fund set aside for writers who would benefit from the seminar but cannot afford to go.
Most people don't expect highly technical types like myself to have hobbies like improv or writing novels. However, I find it perfectly suiting. You see, engineers are trained to take large complex situations, situations where the overwhelming quantity of details obscure the truth of a matter, and break everything down into simpler, more manageable parts. When constructing a story, there is so much more involved than just punctuation and grammar. Dozens of details need to be carefully orchestrated in order for a story to come together with the elegant precision needed to achieve maximum emotional effect. It’s like engineering in reverse; instead of deconstructing situations, I put them together and ensure that everything is balanced. At the core of this balance is an essential maxim: storytellers tell lies to our readers to reveal important truths. Without that core of meaning, the story falls flat, but with it, something truly magical can happen.

The Girl with the Artists Eyes is a story about a man who finds an ancient artifact which he uses to turn himself into a superhero in order to save Stan Lee from a crowd sourced ransom scheme, and the lengths to which Catalina, an innocent con staffer, must go to manage his incompetence and truly save the day. For more details on this story and other stories in the anthology, see www.NathanBarra.com/books.

Though Nathan Barra is an engineer by profession, training and temperament, he is a storyteller by nature and at heart. Fascinated with the byplay of magic and technology, Nathan is drawn to urban fantasy and soft science fiction in both his reading and writing. He has been known, however, to wander off into other genres for “funzies.” He is an active blogger, not only on his own site, NathanBarra.com, but also with a group blog called the Fictorians (www.Fictorians.com). Nathan is always up for a good conversation, so please drop him a line through his contact page, or write on his Facebook wall (www.facebook.com/WriterNathanBarra).