Necon Bound, Wrestletown

All packed and ready to head down to Necon this afternoon. To celebrate the ‘original’ launch date for the WRESTLETOWN crowdfunding campaign (you know, before I threw caution to the wind and jumped in with both feet a month ago) I have a little deal for anyone who pre-orders the book at the con. So hit me up! I’ll have copies of Safe Inside the Violence, What Happened Here, Burn Cards, and Charred Kraken as well.

In other thrilling news – I’ve joined LitReactor as a contributor! In addition to the local Grubstreet, LitReactor has been a major boon to my writing over the past several years. It’s a favorite of mine for columns and reviews, and I’m excited to have the opportunity to get a monthly column off and running (more on that next month.)

But until then, please check out Wrestletown, Publishing, and Doing It By Myself – my column on Inkshares, Papercuts J.P., and the decision to crowdfund my debut novel.

Thanks again for all of the support – closing in on halfway to publication at our initial goal of 250 pre-orders!

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Inkshares Interview – Joseph Asphahani & THE ANIMAL IN MAN

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An artifact of immense power puts Maxan in the middle of a secret war between mighty guilds. To overcome the resourceful and sinister masters who would use him, use everyone, as puppets, he must decide which nature defines him. Animal, or man?

Who is Joseph Asphahani and what’s THE ANIMAL IN MAN all about?

Legends say that Asphahani was a high school English teacher [turned corporate stiff], and that he cut his literary teeth by helping his students analyze the techniques of effective rhetoric and then refine their own writing. Nowadays (referring to that jab about being a corporate stiff), he helps a multi-million dollar logistics software corporation with their online marketing. By day, not so creative, perhaps, but it pays the bills. By night, he’s a proud father of two rambunctious daughters, showing them the wisdom of Samurai Jack and Powerpuff Girls, and he’s a sci-fi-fantasy writer into the wee hours of the morn. “The Animal in Man” is a fictional exploration of some questions that have come to bother him for decades. Are we addicted to violence? Is being violent part of our nature? Do we have to be violent to release something worse from our souls, and if so, what? The story of The Animal in Man takes a shot at answering these by following a fox-man named Maxan as he’s pulled into an ancient conflict between two powerful, secretive groups. He gets his paws on a weapon that could turn the tide of that shadow war – a mind-altering device capable of turning everyone around him into ravaging beasts – and must ultimately decide what to do with it. A decision that defines who he truly is. ……The story is so complex and epic, to this day its author struggles with summarizing it. Forgive him.

Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you?

(Switching to first person now…) Almost all the stories I’ve ever conceived or written have focused on just one theme in some form or another. Deception. Lies. Manipulation. Whether we lie to others to gain control over them, or we lie to ourselves to pretend we’re happy… I often wonder what is the deeper reason for telling lies. Why do we want that control? Why do we seek false happiness? For my own part, I was once lied to by someone very dear to me, and it destroyed me utterly. And yet, finding the truth ultimately set me free. It’s very much like the age-old allegory of Plato’s Cave. The idea of “The Animal in Man” was born from this need to explore how lies can control individuals, groups, entire nations. What if their innate desire to harm one another turned out to be part of some malicious plan? Would they keep fighting, since it’s all they’ve ever known? Or would they at least try to lay down their arms and find peace? …………Oh, and the book is also very much about anthropomorphic animals. There’s an important reason for that. Like how – in this world – we may call someone crazy, and we say “he’s an animal!” Is he though? Isn’t he still human? What is a human? And is a human really any better than an animal? These kinds of questions fascinate me, and I believe writing this book is my attempt at answering them.

Why Inkshares?

Just look at this place! The website is clean and user-friendly. My book stands shoulder to shoulder with some other really fascinating books on this platform. Self-publishing on Amazon, to me, is like trying to launch a ship into the ocean, only the ship is made from duct tape and cardboard. Inkshares provides the author/boat-builder with better materials to make it, a better pier to launch it from, and a network of support from other builders to keep you going. Your ship is much more likely to sail (and sail in style!) when it sets out from Inkshares.

What books have captured your attention lately?

I’m following so many books, it can be hard to explore all of them. (That would be like a full time job!) But there are definitely some that rise to the top. Honestly, taking a closer look at YOUR book “Wrestletown” is what got me in touch with you to begin with! I would probably not be here answering these questions if I hadn’t been mesmerized by the amazing cover-art. The synopsis hooked me, and the first couple chapters reeled me in, man. Besides that, Peter Ryan’s novel “Sync City” grabbed my attention and wouldn’t let go. (Like, seriously, I can feel it’s meaty grip pulling my neck around by the ear right now; if you read the first chapter you’ll understand what I mean.) Peter’s a talented author and worth paying attention to. His second book “Destiny Imperfect” is one I’m closely following. Outside of Inkshares……. There’s this one book called “The Buildiers” by Daniel Polansky that was absolutely thrilling. It’s a quick read. You can finish it in 2-3 hours. It comes with my highest recommendation. It’s also about animals killing eachother: A salamander with knives, a badger with a gatling gun, and a stoat (NOT a skunk!) with a French accent. And so much more.

Who are your greatest influences?

Hmmm… Influences on my writing style are constantly shifting. I’d say that right now, it’s Joe Abercrombie. I read “The Blade Itself” a while back, and have just begun the second book in his First Law trilogy, “Before They are Hanged.” If you’re an author who’s heavy on writing an action scene (like me), you can learn A LOT from a scene out of Abercrombie’s work. I also like how he handles weaving a character’s thoughts into a scene – something that’s crucial to how I’m telling the story of “The Animal in Man.” Besides Abercrombie, I’ve carried a copy of Gary Whitta’s “Abomination” in my laptop bag since I first started writing (after publishing via inkshares became a reality). I knew who Whitta was, having been a super-fan of The Book of Eli, and I found his writing style in the novel to be really crisp. I am constantly re-reading scenes from Abomination to study how I can keep moving plot, speaking dialogue, relaying thoughts, and describing action, all on the same page, all as engaging as possible. (Also, I’m a huge fan of Dark Souls – the video game franchise – and I found “Abomination” was hitting all those dark-grotesque-monstrosity notes for me.)

What’s next for you as a writer?

I have about eight projects that are always kicking around in my mind. I wrote a pretty heavy Game Design Document as my Master’s Thesis for Full Sail University – called “The White Shadow.” It’s pretty frikkin’ rad. I’d like very much to shop that around to game development studios and see if a team of creative designers, artists, and programmers would be willing to help me make the damn thing. Other than that, I have an idea for a Y.A. novel in which a young, orphan girl wonders why real life can’t be like the life she sees in movies and games, and soon begins to see the lines between them blur thereafter. Finally, I’d really like to tell a branching narrative story I’m calling “Curses and Mists” in a choose-your-own-adventure format. I grew up on those books! I’d really like to see them make a comeback, and Curses’ particular story of darkness and insanity would really lend itself well to the genre. Stay tuned, I’m always working on something.

You can read a sample & pre-order THE ANIMAL IN MAN on Inkshares.

Inkshares Interview – Matthew Poat & SQUIDS IN

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When the world’s best online gamer turns out to be an octopus, it’s not long before he goes missing…

Who is Matthew Poat and what’s SQUIDS IN all about?

Squids In is an adult oriented story about a guy called Toby and an octopus which gets stolen from a military animal testing lab by activists and dumped into Toby’s pool. It turns out that the octopus is a demon at playing video-games and so Toby creates an online account for the creature, who he calls Hendrix and they take part in an assortment of player versus player death matches for cash prizes, with Toby amassing quite a wealth and becoming an online gaming celebrity. This all comes back to bite him however when Hendrix gets stolen from him AND the military animal testing lab pull him in for intense interrogation over the animal lab break in. The last portion of the book revolves around Toby’s search to get Hendrix back. It’s very much written in a “Pineapple Express” style so if you like that kind of thing, this is definitely the book for you.

From my side, I’m a qualified Motorsport Engineer who currently works as Technical Sales and Marketing Manager at a company called Race-Keeper and is based at Silverstone race circuit in the UK. I write as a means to switch off my race car brain and can generally find solace in the weird and wonderful stories I frequently come up with. Everyone needs a form of stress relief and this is mine.

Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you?

My seven month old son was given a “Hank” cuddly orange octopus that stars in the upcoming Finding Nemo sequel “Finding Dory”. When the topic for the Nerdist June writing competition was announced on Inkshares as being video-game related, I just sat on my sofa looking around for inspiration and Hank caught my eye. It was as simple as that. I drafted my idea really early after the contest was announced and it started gaining traction with people. At this time I began thinking that I had a pretty unique story concept compared to the other entrants and this I believe is the books greatest strength. That and of course the wonderful illustrations and front cover created by Eugene Karasz over on DeviantArt.

Why Inkshares?

I was first introduced to Inkshares via the Geek and Sundry website, when they announced they were running a writing competition for hard sci-fi novels. I don’t write hard sci-fi and rarely read anything that fits into that genre but I followed the link anyway and discovered this wonderful community of writers who were helping each other to achieve their goals, offered support and motivation. I think that was something I needed in order to get on and write and probably the reason I stuck around. There are some truly great people on Inkshares. I may have underestimated the shear amount of time and effort it requires to have a truly successful crowdfunding campaign, but if I finish in the contests top 3, it will all have been worth it. If I don’t, its great experience for next time.

What books have captured your attention lately?

Wow, there are so many but I will list a few from Inkshares that have really captured my attention. First it is my fellow Nerdist contest entrant Regina McMenomy and her book “Mothering: The Game”. Just like Squids In, it is such a different take on the whole “write a book around the theme of video games” and it is all the more awesome for it. Second it would have to be “Monkey Business” by Landon Crutcher, a book that is now in full publication. It’s an absolute riot to read and if you like a book with a good injection of comedy, you should pick up a copy of this one. Finally “Tantalus Depths” by Evan Graham caught my attention enough to place an order, even though it is in the hard sci-fi genre and I mentioned before that this isn’t something I’m all that in to. The thing “Tantalus Depths” has going for it is an extremely engaging tale told by a highly skilled writer.

Who are your greatest influences?

I guess the biggest influences on both my writing style and choice of topics have got to be Hunter S. Thompson, Walter Moers and Ben Aaronovitch, however I must say that I am an extremely avid audiobook fan. Since I do a lot of travelling, for long flights or car journeys, there is nothing better than putting on a good audiobook and listening to a great story. I actually created a list of my favourite Audiobooks and posted it on my LinkedIn profile. Feel free to go check it out – https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/audiobookbook-recommendations-those-long-journeys-we-all-matthew-poat?trk=hp-feed-article-title-publish

What’s next for you as a writer?

My ultimate short-term goal is to finish in the top 3 in the Nerdist video-game contest with Squids In, which would guarantee publication. If the book does not finish that high, I’m not sure if I really want to limp on to quill. That’s something I need to figure out in a few weeks depending on how things go. I would love to publish the book properly however, just so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy this silly story and the wonderful illustrations by Eugene. I have also been toying around with writing something about a guy who comes to consciousness on the floor of a music festival tent. A series of flashbacks would propel the tale forward and explain who he was and why he passed out. Some of the story will be autobiographical, like the bit where he takes magic mushrooms, gets tangled up in the ropes of someone’s tent and then when that person pops out to see what’s going on, he hallucinates a spider coming to eat him after trapping him in its web. That’s something that actually happened to me a number of years ago at the Reading music festival. We will see if that tale ever makes it onto the page. Maybe some things are better left to memory.

You can read a sample & pre-order SQUIDS IN on Inkshares.

Happy Pub Day to Papercuts J.P. + Giveaway!

Happy Pub Day to Papercuts J.P. and The Papercuts Anthology: What Happened Here, Volume 1!

I’m honored to have a piece featured in such a wonderful collection alongside the likes of Randy Susan Meyers, Paul Tremblay, Jennifer Tseng, and more.

AND to celebrate, I’m giving away copies to two lucky WRESTLETOWN supporters. Thought about tagging in but have yet to make the jump? Pre-order by midnight this Friday (7/15) for a chance to win!

Giveaway (2)

Inkshares Interview – G.A. Finocchiaro & THE KNIGHTMARES

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9 geek-culture loving, bantering punk kids are pitted against an evil, sexy succubus from another dimension and her demented plans for revenge. There are ghosts and pirate treasure and alien gods and alchemy and exorcisms and lots of weird stuff too.

Who is G.A. Finocchiaro and what’s THE KNIGHTMARES all about?

G.A. Finocchiaro is a single 37 year old Creative Director and writer living in Philadelphia, PA. Born to be a storyteller and never one to pass up a fun analogy, G writes through the lens of the strange, like Joe Dante and John Landis had a brainchild nine months after they invited Don Coscarelli over for a threesome (yeah, he went there). An oddball lover of all things geek, G hopes to inspire as he was inspired for the next generation of genre fans to come.

THE KNIGHTMARES is about 9 geek-culture loving, bantering punk kids that are pitted against an evil, sexy succubus from another dimension and her demented plans for resurrecting her long lost warlord lover. At its heart, The Knightmares is a story about loyalty and friendship, and the kind of crazy inside jokes that develop within those kinds of close knit circles. There just happens to be this crazy villainess named Nexus who comes in and ruins the party, along with her cloaked acolyte minions, a horde of mercenary werewolves, and a lunatic with a possessed stuffed toy elephant.

Where did you get this idea, and what made it worth developing for you?

I was inspired by my friends back in college, and the crazy things that we experienced together. Each character was loosely based on someone I know. I’ve always felt that writers and artists should create things they themselves would enjoy, and so THE KNIGHTMARES grew from there. I am a huge fan of the supernatural and supernatural fiction, and what better way for me to create and write than to take the things I love and put my own spin on it.

I have always wanted to be published, but to be published and inspire others to do the same is really the full dream. To me, that is what makes it worth developing.

Why Inkshares?

I submitted many queries to traditional literary agents and many times received rejections less than 15 minutes after I submitted. I realized that many of these agents weren’t even reading my pitch, and those that did gave me feedback to keep trying as the industry is very subjective. Inkshares gave me a destination, a benchmark to hit rather than an unending amount of research and hoping that one of those agents will pay attention and appreciate the first paragraph enough to want to read more. Crowdfunding is difficult, but it’s more tangible and you are more in control of your fate by finding potential fans than by emailing agents that may never even respond.

What books have captured your attention lately?

I recently finished The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman, which was excellent. I also finished David Wong’s Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, which was another great novel by someone I hold up as one of my largest influences.

I also recently started Monkey Business, an Inkshares book by Landon Crutcher. I’m about halfway through and thoroughly enjoying it. I’m looking forward to more from him, but also I was pleasantly reassured that Inkshares has some great writers on board. It’s a professional reassurance that we belong on bookshelves.

Who are your greatest influences?

My influences are very wide ranging and not limited to books and authors. I am a huge John Carpenter fan. His work, like Big Trouble in Little China and Prince of Darkness, have really been the backbone of my inspiration.

David Wong has had a huge influence on me. His ability to write comedy and scare at the same time is excellent, and I can’t wait for more work from him. Neil Gaiman and his wide ranging books of fantasy have inspired me more than any other author.

Everything from Doctor Who to Monster Squad, to John Cusack classics like Say Anything and One Crazy Summer, to Joe Hill’s book Horns and Dan Harmon’s TV show Community, all have inspired me greatly. I could go on and on…

What’s next for you as a writer?

Well, first I want to make sure I concentrate on THE KNIGHTMARES and pushing it through crowdfunding to Quill. I am about three-quarters of the way done on my own third round of edits on the manuscript, and will be finishing that up as well.

After that, I want to do my due diligence and continue to promote THE KNIGHTMARES by going on the convention circuit and hitting up as much of the potential fan base as I can, and try to get the word out there.

And while I’m working on that, I have several more books I am either wanting to write or currently writing, including my next book, VEXED, which is currently up on Inkshares as a draft. It still has a ways to go, and lots of editing to be done, but the tone and the subject is vastly different than THE KNIGHTMARES. I think it’ll be a hit in its own right.

 

You can read a sample & pre-order THE KNIGHTMARES on Inkshares.