A Fancy Dinner Party

August 26, 2014 at 3:07 am (Reviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Cover_Kindle_New_largeTitle:A Fancy Dinner Party

Editor: Hilary Comfort

Publisher: Grey Gecko Press

Genre: Thriller/ Horror

Length: 184 pages

For nearly two years now, I have had the joy of being acquainted with a small, local publishing company called Grey Gecko Press.  As a whole, they are fun and spunky, and I enjoy both hosting events for them and attending ones where they are present.

At one of the more recent signings, Jason Kristopher handed me a copy of A Fancy Dinner Party.  I was warned not to read it too late at night – or when I was alone.

I took my time with it, limiting myself to only one or two stories per sitting.  The anthology features ten different authors, a fantastic forward by Jonathan Maberry, all neatly packaged and edited by Hilary Comfort and the folks at Grey Gecko Press.

I did read it at night.  But I did not read it alone!

These stories are a lot like P1000274the group who wrote them, spunky and fun – even when they’re scaring the crap out of you.  I enjoyed the anthology, I love that I have a copy signed by all the contributors and would highly recommend it to short story lovers…

and science fiction lovers… and readers of fantasy, and horror, and thrillers…

As the back jacket says, there’s even a bit of Americana and Japanese folklore.  The book has so much to offer and is a prime example of Grey Gecko Press, yet again, putting their best foot forward.  I especially liked the dedication at the front: “For all the new and still-struggling authors whose stories have yet to be told.”

With the chapters arranged like a menu and a forward urging us to “Sit back, tuck P1000275in your napkin […] and dig into this bizarre feat,” the book keeps the menu theme alive from start to finish. Well done.

As a reviewer of an anthology, I can’t just stop there and fail to mention one crucial point – my favorite course, of course!

Drum roll…

GGP managed to save the best for last: George Wright Padgett

I loved his story The Arrangement and it was truly the cherry on top of a very disturbing dessert!

The ebook of A Fancy Dinner Party is $2.99, well worth the download.  Good luck reading alone.

 

 

 

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Interview with Jason Kristopher

June 14, 2014 at 7:08 pm (Interviews) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

P10200191. Your books (The Dying of the Light) are a series of zombie apocalypse novels. What do you think your stories have that set them apart from the rest of the zombie genre?

First, a realistic and scientifically-vetted reason for zombies, as in it’s not just supernatural or science fiction ‘hand-waving.’ Second, and this is the key difference, the books aren’t about the zombies. Yes, they have zombies in them, and action and blood and guts and gore, but at its core, The Dying of the Light is a story about people. I always tell potential readers that it could’ve been anything that ended the world: aliens, earthquakes, global warming… none of that matters. This series is about the end of these people’s own personal worlds, and how they deal with what happens during and after, and more importantly, with each other. That’s the real story – the rest is just window-dressing.

2. What inspired you to write zombie novels? Did the characters come to you as products of the apocalypse, or did you drop them into that setting after their inception?

The idea for the story was a mash-up of two different dreams, actually. One about a lone zombie survivor on an island, the other about the end of the world (though I didn’t know at the time what had done it). My writer’s brain smashed them together, and suddenly, there was a zombie apocalypse trilogy. It makes me a bit nervous about the other connections my mind makes, actually…

3. Stephen King says people who don’t read don’t have the tools to write. Who are your favorite authors? Who inspires you to write? Who do you read to gain more writing energy?

on-writing-coverWould it be trite to say Stephen King? His book On Writing is the single best treatise on the craft of authorship that I’ve ever read. As for other fun favorites, I have a ton, but a few that come to mind: Isaac Asimov, Terry Brooks, Jim Butcher, Orson Scott Card, Arthur C. Clarke, Donaldson, Jordan, Koontz, Niven, Pratchett… see what I mean? For inspiration, I look at some of my friends, like George Wright Padgett (Spindown), who wrote one of my personal Top 5 sci-fi books. That is inspiring, to me. I like to re-read some books if I’m having trouble with a book I’m writing, too. For example, I’ll revisit The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series if I’m stumbling over dialogue – even though it’s English slang, Douglas Adams was a master of dialogue.

4. Do you have play lists of mood music you write to? If so, which artists/songs generally make the cut?

If I have music on, it’s generally instrumental – tuneful background noise, basically. The soundtrack to Lord of the Rings, or Last of the Mohicans, that sort of thing. If I’m struggling with a particular type of scene, I’ll find some music that fits that ambiance. For example, my “Car Chase” playlist has Guns N’ Roses, Project Pitchfork, Rihanna, and even Motley Crue. But usually, I like it quiet or very low music when I’m writing; it keeps me focused.

grey gecko press5. You are not just an author, but the owner of a publishing company: Grey Gecko Press. Tell me a little about that. What made you decide to open such a venture and what are your goals for the company?

I’ve always been business-minded, and when I published my first book, I knew there would be business expenses involved. Originally, I never planned to publish anyone else’s work, but then a friend (author Wayne Basta) asked if I could help him, and Aristeia: Revolutionary Right became the second book published under the Grey Gecko imprint. I found I really enjoyed working with other authors to share great stories, even if they weren’t mine, and I had the ability to do it… so why not? From the beginning, the company has been about treating authors fairly, publishing great books, and doing things the right way, even if that bucks centuries of tradition.

As far as goals… well, I’ve long said that I’d like for Grey Gecko to be ‘the Google of publishing.’ Most people interpret that to mean I want to be rich, when that’s not at all my goal. I want Grey Gecko Press to be huge because it would mean that every author would have a chance at the same kind of success that only a few get now with traditional publishing. Every struggling writer, pounding away at their keyboard (or typewriter, I’m not judging) would know that at least one company would look at their work when it was done, regardless of their past publishing experience – because, at the end of the day, Grey Gecko isn’t about making money: it’s about publishing great books and putting authors first. As you can tell, I’m quite passionate about this endeavor.

6. You’re quite an entrepreneur. What other projects do you have up your sleeve?

I think it’d be grP1020027eat to have a Grey Gecko bookstore, for one thing. For another, we haven’t been able to focus on as much as I’d like with Grey Gecko is giving back to our community. I’ve got some ideas for creating local resources and ‘maker-spaces’ for writers of all types and kinds. When we’re ready, I’d like to take our business model into other fields, as well, including movies, film, and even music. So yeah, a few projects on the horizon!

7. How would you feel about having your books made into a television show or series of movies? Would you want to write your own screenplays? Who would be your ideal director?

One of the comments I have most about my books are that they’re very visual, very cinematic, and I agree! I think they’d make great movies/TV shows, mainly because that’s what I see in my head when I write them. I’m not sure about writing the screenplays myself, although I’d give it a try. There’s a lot about the behind-the-camera part of the film industry that I don’t know, so I’d at least listen to some experts… though naturally I’d want final say. I’d rather not have it made at all than made badly. I’m not sure of all the director’s names on The Walking Dead, but they do such a masterful job with a show that’s so similar in tone, that I’d likely pick one of them, given the choice.

Jason and rene8. You’ve had booths at Comicpalooza and done numerous book signings with local bookstores. What were those experiences like for you? What are your favorite parts? What are your least favorite parts?

Despite what I may say on Sunday afternoon at a convention, I actually enjoy talking to people about our books. Helping people discover a new book they haven’t heard about, or seeing their excitement at the next volume in a series, or seeing the light of wonder shine in a child’s eyes as I hand them a copy of Greystone Valley is why I do what I do. As far as book signings go, I enjoy them for many of the same reasons; talking to people about my books and getting tP1020015hem excited about reading is a blast. What it really comes down to for me, though, is that I’m a storyteller at heart; however I can tell you a story, I’m going to do it. My least favorite part of all these things would be the setup, teardown, and logistics that go into planning them… mainly because I’m lazy! I’d love to show up with a cup of coffee and find everything set and ready to go, but that’s the price you pay for being your own boss, I guess!

9. What other published work have you been a part of? And what can we expect to see from you in the future?

Aside from The Dying of the Light, I’ve also published several short stories, some of which are based in my zombie series, some not. I also contributed one of my favorite short pieces, The Art of Steaming, to the horror anthology A Fancy Dinner Party, along with 9 other Grey Gecko Press authors, and it was also featured in the collection Penny Dreadfuls: Halloween Special. For future work… boy, have I got some ideas for you!

First, I’m finishing The Dying of the Light with the third book, Beginning, due out this winter. Then there’s Under a Cloud-covered Moon, the first in a series about an irascible, anti-hero detective who works for the Seattle Metahuman Crimes Unit, solving crimes by and against ‘metas’ – non-supernatural mutants who’ve been called ‘vampires’ and ‘werewolves’ for centuries by those who had no idea of their true nature. I’ve also got a middle-grade/YA story in mind about a Teddy Bear (because it’s a job, not a toy) named Freddy McPhane, as well as my epic fantasy series of 30 books (no joke), not to mention the 150+ other ideas I have written down. I’m going to be busy!

10. If there is one thing you would want your readers and fans to know about you, what would it be? If you had one request of your readers and fans, what would it be?

I want all my fans and readers to know that I love hearing from them! Whether it’s a quick note, or a detailed letter, I’m always excited to connect with my readers, which is best done through email at jason@jasonkristopher.com.

For a request, I’d request everyone who enjoys the books they read, especially indie books, to leave a review on Amazon, GoodReads, or elsewhere. Short of buying more books, a review is the best way to support indie authors and small press. That and telling all your friends, of course! To find out why reviews are so important, visit my blog: On the Importance of Reviews, or, It’s Just 21 Words!

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Interview with Wayne Basta

June 13, 2014 at 1:20 am (Interviews) (, , , , )

wayne bastaI had the pleasure of meeting author Wayne Basta awhile back for a book signing at Half Price Books Humble.  He has a three part series published under Grey Gecko Press here in the Houston area.  This week, I finally had the pleasure of interviewing him.

1. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading your series. Can you tell us about it?

Aristeia is a science fiction space opera that follows the characters of Maarkean, Saracasi and Zeric as they accidently set off a rebellion against the powerful Alliance.

2. What moved you to start writing science fiction?

I’ve always been a fan of the genre. My father got me into Star Trek and Star Wars at a young age and then followed it up with classic science fiction books like Asimov and Clarke.

3. An interviewer (Sam Weller, of the Paris Review) asked Ray Bradbury if writing science fiction satisfied something that mainstream fiction did not. I’d like to ask you that same question. Do you find that science fiction satisfies something that mainstream fiction cannot – both in yourself as well as in society?

I don’t believe science fiction isn’t mainstream fiction. Look at the biggest blockbuster movies and books and you’ll find lots examples of science fiction. Science fiction certainly satisfies something other genre’s do not, but so does every different genre.

4. When did you start writing? Have you always wanted to write?

The first things I wrote were when I was 9 and we got our first home computer. I dabbled in writing ever sense then, though I didn’t make a serious effort to write a complete novel length story until just a few years ago.

5. When you write, do you have a specific place or environment you like to go? Do you play music (and if so, what music?) or do you prefer the quiet?

I usually write from my laptop at the kitchen table. The chairs are less comfortable than my desk chair so its easier to stay focused. The laptop also can’t run most of my games so that clearly defines this computer a work place and the desktop for play.

I write in silence a lot but depending on the scene I’m working on I might put on music. I’ll often try and match the music to what’s happening in the book. During a heavy battle scene I might play some epic sound tracks from movie battles or if its more subdued a lighter piece.

6. What is the easiest part of the writing process for you? What is the hardest?

The easiest part is the writing itself. Figuring out what I’m going to write, finding the time when there’s no toddler demanding attention, marketing the books, editing the grammar and everything else is hard. But when I know what is going to happen to my characters, the words just flow out with ease.

basta book7. Who designed your book covers?

I worked with an artist named Oliver Wetter to design the cover. I told him what I had in mind and described the looks of my characters. He then brought them to life. He did an amazing job with each of them.

8. You were recently at a Comicpalooza. What were you doing there? What was that experience like?

I sat on a number of writing panels at Comicpalooza. It’s always great to get to sit down and talk about writing and books with fellow authors and fans of the genre.

9. Do you have any tips or advice on getting published for aspiring authors?

Never give up, never surrender. It’s a hard process to wade through and relies mostly on persistence and dedication to succeeding. Keep trying and keep improving your queries and your writing.

Like Wayne’s page on facebook.

 

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A Look at My Life This Week

October 13, 2013 at 4:38 am (In So Many Words) (, , , , , , , , , )

I’m almost always cycling in my spare time these days. That sounds like I do it way more than I actually do.  I’m a mom, so I live in a limbo of down time that’s not down time.  When I am child free, however, I ride my bike.

And here’s a visual update on how that’s going…

Woodles Family

Photo taken by Elizabeth. Click to see her blog.

I look forward to Thursdays every week. Taking a load off life on my bicycle with friends is so freeing.

Not that life is so hard… I work with books, which really doesn’t seem like work at all.  For instance: today, I met a really cool author named Wayne Basta.

Jason of Grey Gecko Press with Author Wayne Basta.

Jason of Grey Gecko Press with Author Wayne Basta.

But of course, while doing all this, I’m still a reader at heart.  So, during the signing today between photos and customers and whatnot – I read a book.

Totally unrelated to the really cool science fiction that was happening around me, I read a little book called Going Native: Biodiversity in Our Own Backyard.  I’ve been foraging for produce lately, and I found this book really interesting as it featured a section on wild gardens in Texas (Dallas to be more specific) with American BeautyBerry plants.

going native  All about maintaining more natural landscapes with plants native to your area, Going Native encourages the act of relaxing in your garden rather than working in it all the time.  Easier said than done, you say… well, there’s also lists of plants for various regions that are recommended with blueprints of how to set it up on certain properties. It’s a neat little book and I enjoyed reading it for the few hours I was hanging out at Half Price Books today.

I found reading this book especially amusing today, because – allow me to come full circle here – my bike club people in that fabulous photo at the top were giving me all sorts of grief Thursday night about being a hippie.  Playful grief, of course, as I nibbled – you guessed it – BeautyBerries out of a median we were stranded in while a fellow repaired a flat tire.

Welcome to my life… this week anyway.

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October 2013 Events

October 1, 2013 at 5:21 am (Events) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

JoAnn SalmorettiWayne BastaMEB BRYANTOctober 26 HumbleOct 26 NO

ALSO, Don’t forget to check the Good Books in the Woods Event Page… That place has some nifty stuff going on this month too.  http://www.goodbooksinthewoods.com/news/

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