Tag: Christina McMullen.

Write On! Indie Book Review #6: These Books Have Cooties. By Christina McMullen

The other day I realized it has been a long time since I’ve written a Write On! Review post, even though I’ve read a whole lot of books recently. Well, part of that has to do with the fact that I’m actually woefully behind in posting reviews to both Amazon and Goodreads and part of that has to do with the fact that I’ve spent the last month in social media limbo after my tablet blew up. (For more on that, read my guest post about techno-dependency on S.K. Thomas’ blog)

So… To make up for this, I’ve decided to do a super-sized Write On! and yes, as the title suggests, these books are written by men. For those just tuning in, Write On! has traditionally been reserved for reviews of science fiction and fantasy books by female authors. Every so often I’ve allowed a dude to sneak in under the radar, but this time, I’ve opened the gates. Of course, because every once in a while I let a male author sit at the girl’s table, I’ve also put female author on this list as well. What follows is a list of super authors that I’ve recently enjoyed that you should definitely check out.

D. E. Morris, author of Aliens in the Gift Shop
Looking for fun, lighthearted and quirky science fiction that reads easily yet still packs in the science? Then this is the book for you! Aliens in the Gift Shop tells of two alien scientists on an exploratory mission to earth that goes slightly awry, as well as the human woman (and owner of said gift shop) who gets caught up in their shenanigans. Once you read, you’ll definitely want to see more of Marcy, Quigbat, and Zort, so lucky for you, the sequel, Aliens and the Race to Earth is coming out on July 20th!

Dwayne Fry, author of Ladybug Boy and a whole mess of other stories.
Okay, picking just one of Mr. Fry’s stories out of the nearly two dozen he’s published is incredibly difficult. Like so many of us, Fry decided to indie publish because he didn’t want to be shoehorned into a single genre. While I would say the majority of his stories are satire, there’s also quite a few horror, general lit, and now he has paranormal as well. Ladybug Boy falls into the category of general lit and I picked this one because I’ve just recently finished and have yet to write a review. The tale takes place in the mid eighties and made me incredibly embarrassed as I realized that my awkward junior high period was probably even more awkward than poor Lola’s, but that’s exactly what I loved about it. This particular story is part of a series that will eventually lead to a full length novel and I’m looking forward to reading soon.

Ryan Guy, author of Atomic Aardvark
Still looking for quirky? The last two authors not quirky enough for you? Well, how about the story of an epic battle between a skunk and an aardvark, each of whom acquires super powers from a combination of a meteor shower and toxic waste? Oh, and there’s also a pair of star crossed internet dating app users who may or may not be able to get their heads out of their own butts long enough to figure their love life out, but really, this story is all about Aardy, the Atomic Aardvark.

Riley Amos Westbrook, author of Breath of Titans: Little Black Stormcloud
There’s something about epic fantasy that I simply don’t like and it has everything to do with the snooze fest that is Tolkien. It’s pretty obvious that Westbrook loves Tolkien and was heavily influenced by his work. Lucky for us, he’s not a giant bore and writes fun characters who are not full of themselves (mostly because they are full of intoxicating spirits) and are interesting enough that we care what happens to them. In a world of orcs and fairies, a half-dragon half-elf named Lov must quest to find out what happened to his mother and find the one who killed his father. Lov is easy to… Well… Love. He’s young and wet behind the ears. He’s also impulsive and given to fits as most teens (and I suspect most dragons) are, but that is all part of his charm. That, and there are fairies. Fairies who seem to exist for no other reason than to annoy Lov’s uncle Nord, who is also a fun character. Seriously, even if you aren’t a fantasy fan, check this one out.

Charles Hash, author of Nascent Decay
Are you a fan of space horror? Did you love the film Alien? No? What’s wrong with you? Nascent Decay has all of the elements of classic horror, but tells a unique tale of what happens when the human mind is pushed beyond its limits. The heroes are flawed and the antagonists are utterly merciless, as is the author in lulling the audience into a false sense of security before gutting us once again. A sequel is currently in the works. Until then, I recommend checking out Mr. Hash’s short stories as well.

David M. Kelly, author of Dead Reckoning and Other Stories
Looking for sci-fi of a more classic variety? How about tales that would be at home in the Twilight Zone? Then this is the collection you’ll want to read. There’s everything from the chilling title story of karma coming ’round to bite you in the butt, to the heart wrenching How Much is that Doggy, to one incredibly groan worthy pun. Sadly, it isn’t out until July 28th, but before then, you can check out Mr. Kelly’s other short works, some of which will be featured in the collection.

V. M. Sawh, author of Cinders
This is not the Cinderella story of your childhood. Here you will find no Disney princess. Instead, what you’ll find is a gothic tale that in many ways is much closer to the original and mostly morbid original Aschenputtel. What you’ll also find is a darkly beautiful tale and expert storytelling. Cinders is part of the Good Tales for Bad Dreams series, which puts a very different spin on these well known stories.

Kat Caffee, author of Out of the Darkness
As I said, to keep things fair, I had to put a female author in with this group of fellas. Sorry Kat, hope you’re immune to cooties.
In all seriousness, this series is one to watch. On a very basic level it it the tale of a gladiator, born into slavery, who fights his way to freedom and must learn to adapt to a whole new set of rules as a free man. But really, it’s so much more than that. The storytelling is superb. Despite the heavy subject matter, there’s some lighthearted elements that crop up at the right times. As of right now, there are two books in the series available with a third coming  soon. I’ve actually had the pleasure of beta reading the third, so I can say that the story just keeps getting more interesting.

Keep watching for more Write On! book recommendations! Next time, we’re bringing the ladies back for some good old fashioned fantasy fairytales!

This weeks author interview is with the most talented and funny Christina McMullen. Christina has always dreamed of being a writer. Except for a short time in the late eighties :). She has nine books to date! I know I’ll be adding many of them to my reading list.

McMullenHS

Looking at your website http://mcmullenwrites.blogspot.ca/p/the-books-i.html, I see that you’ve written eight books? Wow, how long have you been writing?

 Actually, as of right now, there are nine. 😉

While I’ve always written for fun and had hopes and dreams of becoming the next great American novelist, it was 2012 before I finally dragged out my notes, dusted off the computer, and actually finished an entire novel. Once I made it past the first book hurdle, the rest were much easier.

Of the books you have published so far, which is your favorite? And why?

 This is a very tough question, but I would have to say, Kind of Like Life, which is my only young adult novel at the moment. Why? Because it’s something of an homage to my own young adult days and how I would spend far too much time day dreaming and coming up with crazy adventures. Also, despite some very heavy and serious subject matter, it was fun to write.KindofLikeLifeMKLow

Tell us a bit about that story and what inspired you to write it?

I read a lot of YA and noticed that because there seems to be a formula, I had come up with some standard scenery in my mind. I recognized this scenery as being my ‘ideal world’ from my own youthful daydreams. From there I came up with the concept of a young girl with an overactive imagination who moves to a place that matches her ideal world perfectly. Her life goes from boring to the ideal ‘YA perfect’ practically overnight. Of course, I couldn’t let her enjoy it for too long because that wouldn’t make for an interesting story.

What happens next, also known as the spoiler that makes it impossible to talk about the remaining 80% of the book, was inspired by shows like The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone, where things aren’t always what they seem.

 What the most important thing you’ve learned about self-publishing?

To have patience. I really had no idea what I was doing when I first submitted my first book back in 2012. As such, I hadn’t edited nearly as much as I should have and ended up going back and uploading several revisions. That first book is still far from perfect, but it taught me to take my time and put out the best product I can.

In your experience, where do you find the greatest support for indie authors?

Amongst other indie authors. Through social media, especially the groups on Goodreads like Support Indie Authors, I’ve met some fantastic people and became part of something positive. It may seem cliché, but we really are stronger when we stick together. I think indies know this better than most. We don’t see each other as competition. We see allies.

Are you reading anything right now? Tell us a bit about it.

I just started reading Atomic Aardvark by Ryan Guy as part of the Indie Book Club on Goodreads. It’s a quirky, light fantasy that seems to center around a strange celestial event and an aardvark who had been a mascot for an Italian restaurant.

Who is your favorite author or favorite book?

There are so many. I have many influences of the famous or infamous variety, but I’ve really been digging on indie books for the last few years. If I had to pick, the closest I could come to naming a favorite would be to name all of the amazing women who write science fiction and fantasy, breaking the stereotype that these are men’s genres. Since I can’t name them all, here’s a few that I adore: G. G. Atcheson, Ann Livi Andrews, Chess Desalls, S. Usher Evans, and BB Wynter.

What draws you to the genre you write in?

I’ve been a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy (with a little horror and romance thrown in) since junior high at least. While I do like to stretch the boundaries as much as I can, I can’t imagine writing anything that I don’t love reading.

Did you always want to be a writer?

 Well, other than that awkward time in the late eighties when I wanted to be a hair metal rock goddess, yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.

I always want to know this question… If one of your books is made in to a TV show or movie, who would you choose to play the main cast?

This is a very tough question because I live under a rock! Seriously, the last movie I watched was The Lego Movie and I didn’t recognize half the voice actors despite them being the hot actors of the day!

But…

I have actually thought about this for my first series, The Eyes of The Sun. For Lucy, I would want an unknown actor. Hopefully, this would be the project that kick starts her career. Andre would have to be whoever the swooniest (that’s a word, I promise) young man of the day happens to be. The internet tells me this is Matthew Lewis. You go Neville Longbottom!

The older characters are a bit easier, even if casting this makes me feel old. For the ‘holy trinity’ of Evan, Dara, and Abe, I would go with the ‘holy trinity’ of nineties actors and get Brad Pitt, Selma Hayek, and George Clooney. And since we have Brad, we’ll have to give one of the diabolically sexy vampire roles to Angelina Jolie.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Blog: http://mcmullenwrites.blogspot.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/mcmullenwrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcmullenwrites
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Christina-McMullen/e/B00AM3R1MK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/cmcmullen

Tell us a bit about the cover art of your books. Who designed them? Why did you choose those images? (Pick your two favourite covers)

I am my own cover artist. I don’t have a lot of talent for visual art, but I really enjoy dabbling and think what I’ve done so far is at least passable. I prefer to use my own images and art mainly because it’s so much easier than searching out and carefully reading the licensing agreements on stock photos. Also because the pics are mine, I know that my covers will be unique.

PastLifeStrifeMKLowSplitsvilleMKLowYouWishMKLow

My favorites would be Past Life Strife and Going Green. The painting I used for Past Life Strife was only meant as a placeholder until I figured out what I wanted, but it turned out nicely. Unfortunately, it set the bar pretty high for that series and I’m not sure I can keep that up. Going Green was serendipitous in that my husband and I found the remains of an abandoned theme park in the Adirondacks and I was able to snap a shot of him wandering about with no other people.

GoingGreenMKLow

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Thank you very much for the interview opportunity. I’ve had a great time answering these questions.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photography-writing-s-wall-sticky-note-saying-obvious-message-clu-words-notes-to-illustrate-communicate-apparent-clues-image51053807

Walk Away, Cliché

By Christina McMullen

  We’ve all heard them, silly catchphrases, metaphors and old wives’ tales that are meant to make us stop and think. The early bird catches the worm. A penny saved is a penny earned. A stitch in time saves nine.
Okay, funny story about that last one. I never was very good at sewing, so I had no earthly idea what it meant. I thought a stitch in time literally meant a stitch in the fabric of space and time. What nine was it saving? Astronauts, of course. Nine astronauts were lost in space and about to fall into  a black hole,  but some benevolent being stitched it up. Seriously, I am sometimes literal to a fault.
And sometimes I stray off topic. The point is, these phrases are quick ways to convey a point without having to say much. But I think it is time to retire some. Mainly, the ones I hear over and over when I dare complain about writing. And complain I do. Ask my husband. Every book I write is ‘killing me’ or is the ‘absolute worst!’ Fortunately for me, he is a musician and understands where I am coming from. He would never say, for example…

Slow and steady wins the race
I hear this one occasionally when I get bogged down by the fact that I am a slow writer. Let me tell you something. Back in November, I did a 5k. It took me something like 43 minutes to complete. I was slow. I was steady. I did not win the race. In fact, I might have been dead last if it hadn’t been for the fact that there were young children in this race as well. The winner had a time of something obscene like, 17 minutes. As I was plodding along, thinking about the cupcakes* at the finish line, several of these winners ran past, screaming at us slowpokes to get the heck out of their way. By the way, this was, as many 5ks are, a charity event, which was supposed to be fun. Do you know what isn’t fun? Being knocked off course by someone who takes running too seriously.
So no, slow and steady does not win the race. Neither does the promise of cupcakes*. Months of training and a competitive spirit wins the race. I guess, in a way, this is a better phrase. Not for book writing, but marketing for sure. Not that I’m going to win that race either. But hey, cupcakes* are cheap enough that I don’t have to win. Speaking of races…

Life isn’t a race
Wait, what? You just gave me bad advice on how to win the race! As my father (and later Kurt Cobain) used to say, “take your time and hurry up!” Well, which is it? A race or not a race? Here’s the thing: we’re using this one all wrong. Death isn’t the finish line in the race of life. Early retirement? Now were getting a little bit closer. We are all racing toward success. The faster you get there, the faster you get to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Or cupcakes*, in my case.

Rome wasn’t built in a day
This irks me to no end. Aside from the ‘duh’ factor that any civilization built in a day is probably a cult and a poorly managed one at that, Rome was built by conquering other states and enslaving their people. Again, this one pertains to the speed of my writing, but also to the highs and lows of the book selling process. I realize that you can’t build a city in one day. And you can’t write a novel in one day. Well, I’m sure you could, but you shouldn’t. Not if you want it to be any good. And I certainly am not going to be a success in one day. But Rome wasn’t built by one person either, now was it? Books, especially indie books, are. I didn’t build the world I am writing in one day, but I built it. It is my world and I would like others to see my world and enjoy it. It’s okay to be a little impatient. Just don’t let it overtake you.

All work and no play make Jack a dull boy
Okay, show of hands: How many of you just saw Jack Nicholson doing what Jack Nicholson does best?
Actually, there is nothing wrong with this proverb. Everyone needs to realize that sometimes it’s better to punch out and leave the project unfinished instead of wasting countless hours slamming your head against an immovable roadblock. Go home or go to happy hour, just don’t stay in the office, drooling on your keyboard as your brain turns to mush. Go win the race that isn’t life. There may even be cupcakes*.

*Why yes, I am starting my fall doctor’s visit diet. Why do you ask?