Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Sam Morton!


1.. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I'm a South Carolina native, born and bred, and a graduate of The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina. I have both bachelor's and master's degrees in English. I used to be a homicide detective and also a professional wrestler (yep, the fake TV kind!). Now I write full time and live in Columbia, Sc with my wife and two children, who are both from Siberia.

2. Your new YA book is part of a series called The Austin Files. How did you choose that name?

The book and the series are named in memory of Austin Whetsell, the son of a friend. Two years ago, when Austin was 15, he went to Mexico on a mission trip with his church. One afternoon, he and his friends went swimming in the ocean. Tragically, Austin got caught in a rip current. He was pulled out to sea and drowned. Just before he went swimming, he called his grandfather, who asked him how he was enjoying his trip. His last words to his grandfather were, "What if God intends me to do this the rest of my life?" That still sends chills up my spine.

3. Could you now tell us a little bit about the premise of Betrayed?

Austin's finds out his best friend, Rico, is in the U.S. illegally. Rico and his family go back to Mexico to apply for citizenship just as the school year ends. Austin visits and finds out two things: one, Rico's cousin Veronica, who he immediately develops a crush on, helps people cross the border illegally; and, two, that a rogue Mexican general and a U.S. senator up for re-election appear linked in a deadly scheme to kidnap people trying to cross. Austin faces a decision: does he help his friends or fight the general? Either path could lead to danger or even death for him and his friends.

4. Since we just learned how Austin was based of a person, were any of the other characters based off anyone?

Absolutely. One of my minor, but pivotal characters--a man named Konstantine--is based on a friend from the Ukraine--whose name is Konstantin (without the "E" but pronounced the same. Everyone who has read Betrayed loves Konstantine, so I've drafted the real person to sign books with me at events. He tells everyone the book is about him! It's great and he's a good sport.

5. Do you have any plans for future Austin Files books?

Yes. I'm planning two more titles in the Austin Files series. I'm in the outlining phase for book two right now.

6. How about your adult books? You already have one book, Disavowed, out now. Do you have any plans for new books there?

I do, and I didn't originally intend for the next adult book to be a follow up to Disavowed, but everyone seems to like the characters and want to know what the next chapter in their lives will be. While I haven't nailed down the exact details, the next book will be about a couple who adopt two children from Russia (sound familiar?), but these two happen to be the illegitimate children of a Russian mob boss, and he wants them back. The book begins with their kidnapping. It will involved plenty of action and the characters Mike Max Chandler, (the main characters from Disavowed) but I've yet to determine what their exact roles will be.

7. How did you become involved in writing?

My mother was quite creative, so I came by the imaginative part pretty early on--elementary school. I decided I really wanted to be a writer when I was about 10 and worked toward it, studying it, and just writing for my own enjoyment. My teachers encouraged me and when I was in middle and high school, I worked on the school newspaper. Even though I majored in English, my writing needed some polish before I began making any money at it. I sold my first article in 1994 and have been writing professionally ever since. I've had some great mentors, Tom Poland (also an author), James Rembert (my college advisor and English professor), and the greatest writer of all (with the possible exception of Shakespeare), Pat Conroy.

8. Do you find that your everyday life greatly influences your writing?

Most definitely. I was vacationing in the North Carolina mountains this past weekend and the whole time kept wondering how I might work the scenery, location, plants, the Cherokee Indian Nation, even the train I was on, into the next Austin Files book. Everyone is a potential character and the stories, jokes, and anecdotes they tell me may end up as a plot device.

9. What is your proudest moment and your proudest achievement in writing?

The proudest moment was receiving my author's copy of Disavowed, seeing my name on it, holding it in my hand, and realizing that it, like John Grisham's books, Nora Roberts', Pat Conroy's, etc., was on a bookshelf for sale.

I would have to say my proudest achievement is publishing Betrayed and donating 100 percent of the proceeds to Austin Whetsell's memorial fund that continues to provide money for mission trips not only to Mexico, but to other parts of the world as well.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

First and foremost read, read, read. You have to be a devoted reader in order to master the craft. Second, if you wake up in the morning and all you can think about is writing--whether it's articles, books, or blogs--then you're already a writer; your heart is in it. From that moment on, just concentrate on getting better. Develop your characters. Make you dialogue as realistic as possible. Study plot development. Just like an athlete perfects the basics before moving onto more complex skills, so should you.

11. Lastly, where can readers find your books?

Both books are available at or directly from the publisher at Any bookstore can order them for you as well.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Nick Valentino!


1. Tell us a little something about yourself.

I played music for a long time. Being that I was born and raised in Nashville Tennessee one would think that we are all given guitars before baby rattles. It's true everyone in Nashville is a musician, but I didn't play country music. Quite the opposite. I started by writing lyrics. I have a huge three inch binder full of them. From there I thought it would be cool to get in some poetry contests. Let's just say that wasn't my bag. I continued to play music, tour, and record until I started writing a book. It was something I'd been craving. I loved the team environment of a band, but that same team can really let you down at times. So I concentrated on writing more and more. It was a totally self reliant thing and it was wonderful. There was nothing to get in my way but me. In a nutshell, that's how I became a writer.

2. Before we touch on Thomas Riley, can you define what steampunk is for us?

Sure there are a lot of different ways to explain steampunk. It's such a different genre but here's a good way to look at it:

The setting: Victorian times (mostly in London or in this case Europe).
The culture: Inventions, science and alchemy dominate the popular culture of the day.
The style: Corsets, vests, overcoats, wire framed spectacles, bowler hats, goggles and cloves.
The twist: The world has experienced a huge boom in technology based on steam, clockwork mechanics and alchemy.

So the difference between Steampunk history and history as we know it is that steam powered inventions dominate the world. Hence dirigibles, steam weaponry, and everything as we know it is now powered by steam. So anything imaginable existed in the Victorian period, just with steam power and gears instead of fossil fuels and electricity. So take the pioneering and explorative spirit of the era and multiply it by the ability to fly great distances with heavy weaponry. Watch out though, the world is at war and dangerous sky pirates could be lurking in great airships just beyond the horizon.

3. Now, on to Thomas Riley, your new release. What is it about?

Thomas Riley is about two alchemists/weapons designers/scientists, Thomas Riley and Cynthia Basset. Their country has been at war for two decades and for the last ten years Thomas and Cynthia have been creating the brilliant weapons to keep their country safe, well as safe as possible anyway. Thomas is forced to do some risky alchemy on a wounded woman which backfires and imbeds her soul in Cynthia. The only way to undo the botched alchemy is to go into enemy territory, kidnap their Chief Alchemist and also their arch nemesis. But the journey isn't that easy. They encounter hostile troops, enemy contraptions and are forced into an alliance with cut throat sky pirates. With only their wits and their scientific know-how will they possibly get through this adventure.

4. How did you come up with the idea for Thomas Riley?

I go to several of the bigger cons around the country. I love pop culture of all kinds, so going to cons (Especially the San Diego Comic Con and Dragon Con in Atlanta.) is a really big thing for me. It's at these places where you see all the newest stuff coming out. Movies, TV, art, books, comics, you name it and it's probably there. For a few years I noticed these people dressed up in the most fancy yet original costumes. The guys wore top hats, vests, while the ladies wore corsets, Bustle dresses and long gloves. But that's not what got me. They all had these wonderfully crazy gadgets ranging from ornate hand made clockwork back packs to full blown steam powered rifles. (Of course they were just a costume.) The more I saw them the more they impressed me. At Dragon Con, I was floored that there were thousands of these people, dressed to the nines and with gadgetry that was really impressive. I thought, "I have to write a story about this." I did a little research and boom I just started writing by the seat of my pants. Everything appealed to me. Everything from the Victorian setting with a more modern feel to the dialogue and high flying adventure made it a blast to write. The hardest part was the research I did to get at least some of the hard science correct. Technically steampunk is Science Fiction, so you can fudge some of the facts in the name of story telling.

5. Are there sequels looming in Thomas Riley's future?

Absolutely. I see Thomas Riley as a story that could go on and on. I feel like it could go three to four books. Not that this story was a cake walk for Thomas and Cynthia, but the stakes will be significantly raised in the next book.

6. Now, on to yourself. How did you become interested in writing?

I started writing lyrics and poetry when I was about thirteen for my band. I have books and books of lyrics. As cheesy as this sounds, I even joined one of those International Poetry Societies about ten years ago. Needless to say I was sorely disappointed with the whole thing. I digress. I literally said to myself, I want to write a book and from there I wrote a horror novel which is done but yet to see the light.

7. How long have you been an author?

Really I've only been writing in this form for about four years.

8. Is there a certain author that you find has influenced you the most?

Hands down Clive Barker. I love just about everything he's done. I can't explain it, but he speaks to me. I also really love the fact that he dabbles in such different mediums and genres. Sure he has a ton of horror novels, but for a while he wrote some really great fantasy and creepy YA stories as well. Weaveworld, The Thief of Always, Coldheart Canyon and Imajica are some of my favorites. On top of that, he's a painter, director, producer, and video game producer... What doesn't he do?

9. What is your proudest achievement to date?

It's absolutely this book. It's my first published novel and I really think it hasn't hit me that it's completely real. Sure I've actually held it, but it honestly felt like a really amazing dream. Everything is in my hands now. The success of this book rides on my shoulders so I'm going to give this all I've got and then some when it comes to promotion and marketing the book. This is really the first time in my life that I'm able to put all the chips on the table and not have any reservations about it. It's funny, when I first saw the book I just flipped through it, not really realizing what I was looking at. I spent the weekend in Myrtle Beach selling it at the South Carolina Writers Workshop and I finally got the chance to look at it in detail on the plane home. It was such a rush reading what I had been working on for the last year in tangible form.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

For me going to writer's conferences was the best thing I ever did. I had been writing for a few years and I never really had the guts to just get up and go. I literally surfed the internet looking for writer's cons and I found the one in San Diego. I booked it and went by myself. The entire experience was amazing. I can be really shy but for some reason, I felt so open around everyone. I met the best people there and at my first critique ever for Thomas Riley I met Karen Syed. How huge is that? So my advice, get out, meet other authors, publishers, and agents. I promise you'll not only have a great time, but you'll meet some really influential and inspiring people. You can't leave a writer's con without feeling completely inspired.

11. Lastly, where can readers find their very own copy of Thomas Riley?

Find out more at:

You can purchase signed copies at:


And for the really daring types, sign up to be a Sky Pirate here:

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Anne Carter!


1. Tell us about yourself.

I am a writer. I am also a mother, a wife, a sister, a mother-in-law and a grandpigma. I am a bookkeeper, a reader, a photographer, a lighthouse nut. I am a fan of chocolate, LOST, Rob Thomas and sunshine. I despise small minds, prejudice, being cold and licorice. I enjoy classic rock, cosmo martinis, big epic films and concerts at the Greek Theater. I am a lover of books containing romance, mystery, adventure and heartache. I’m a traveler who’s been to London, Singapore, Barcelona and Edinburgh. I’m also a traveler who would visit New England, Provence, the Black Forest and Alaska. But most of all, I am a writer.

2. I heard that when you wrote Point Surrender, you spent time in a lighthouse. Is this true?

Absolutely true! Dimick Lighthouse in Port Townsend, Washington, is where I met my muse while finishing the last four chapters. There is no better inspiration that a real lighthouse!

3. What was your inspiration behind Point Surrender?

Only that I’ve been a lighthouse fanatic for many years, and have been writing for many years, and it was bound to happen eventually that I’d set a story in one. The cover art is a photo of Heceta Head Lighthouse in Oregon, which was the physical inspiration for the lighthouse in the story. Lighthouses are mysterious, romantic, have auras about them. They affect people in many different ways. Lonely, possibly haunted, or maybe they are protectors, guardians, sign posts. All good fodder for mystery & romance—with a ghost or two for good measure.

4. Do we have the pleasure of reading about Case and Amy in future books?

Case and Amy do appear in the second book in the “lighthouse trilogy” (see below), especially Case who is one of the hero’s BFF’s. :)

5. Now, I understand you have a new lighthouse book coming out soon called Cape Seduction. What is that about?

Here’s the blurbo: “In 1949, up-and-coming starlet Darla Foster goes missing after the release of Cape Seduction, a tragic romance filmed in a California lighthouse. Now, sixty years later, the long abandoned lighthouse is causing trouble for its present-day owners. Has the sexy, eccentric actress returned to avenge her stolen life?”

The story bounces back and forth between 1948 and 2008 in alternating chapters. Of course, both storylines converge in the end...

6. So when did you actually begin writing?

You mean, today? It was this morning. Oh, before? It was in 8th grade. I took a creative writing course and just never stopped. Short stories mostly, but today I have seven completed full-length novels (and an 8th nearly done).

7. When were you first published?

In 1996, my first short story appeared in THEMA Literary Journal. I was paid, too! My first full-length work was IN TOO DEEP, published in 1998, in ebook. First paper book was STARCROSSED HEARTS, September, 2001.

8. What is your proudest achievement in writing?

Tough question. I am proud of everything I do. That may sound a bit cheeky but those who write know what a tremendous accomplishment it is to get to “THE END.” I believe CAPE SEDUCTION is my best work yet.

9. Are you working on anything right now?

Yes. A bizarre and out-of-the-box romance that takes place in the world of 1980’s glam rock n’ roll. Subject matter may be too intense for children and the narrow minded.

10. Any advice for aspiring authors?

Read lots, write more, and familiarize yourself with the aspects of marketing. Because when you get your contract, that’s when the real work starts.

11. Where can readers buy Point Surrender? When and where can they find Cape Seduction?

POINT SURRENDER is available at Amazon,, various online booksellers and may be ordered from your favorite brick and mortar store. All of my books are available as electronic versions for your Kindle or other ebook reader at Fictionwise.

CAPE SEDUCTION will release later this month from Echelon Press in “e” format, trade paperback due out in May, 2010. Watch my website for the news! Visit me at

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Writer's Wednesday - Norm Cowie!


It is my pleasure to introduce my first author for Writer's Wednesday... Norm Cowie!

1. Tell us a litte something about yourself.

Tell you a little something, huh? Okay, let’s see, after the economic disaster my 401 K retirement plan is little … the number of hairs on my head are little … my ego is little … no, wait, my ego is big. More like a super ego. Or that’s my Id … can’t tell them apart, ask anyone.

2. So I understand you have a book, Fang Face, that was just released by Echelon Press. What's it about?

Fang Face is my first immature, er, young adult book, published by Quake, an imprint of Echelon. It’s about time I wrote for an audience I can relate with. My wife swears she’s raising three kids, not just my two daughters. Anyway, Fang Face is the story of a teenaged girl who is bitten by a vampire that somehow got into the house. Then she’s bitten again. She learns that a third bite will turn her into one of the Undead, so she and her family have a choice …let her become fully vampire, or… fight the evil vampires. So the family whips out crosses, garlic and SuperSoakers and prepares to do battle with the biters. Oh, and there’s funny stuff, too.

3. What inspired you to write a comedy about vampires?

I didn’t really plan on writing about vampires. I planned on writing about teens. So I started a book about this ugly guy named Trug and some friends, and I decided I needed some girls in the story. Earlier on, I’d written a short story about a girl who was turning vampire and how her family got involved in stopping it and I really liked the interaction between the girl and her sister and parents. I just combined the two stories, and it went off from there. As far as making it humor, most stories about vampires are horror and romance nowadays. Not many authors approach it from the funny aspect of vampires, like you never see fat vampires since they’re all on the Atkins diet, do vampires get razor rash if they bite a guy who hasn’t shaven, what tastes better, type A or type O blood? What will you do if you’re a vegetarian and you get ‘changed’ into a carnivore?

4. Do you have any plans for a sequel to Fang Face?

Plans? Bwah-ha-ha. I have more than plans. I’m busy working on its sequel WereWoof. Yep, I’m getting into the ‘were’ world. There are funny things about werewolves that need to be explored, like what if you get turned into a werewolf, but you’re allergic to dogs?

5. Now. The Adventures of Guy. What's that about?

The Adventures of Guy was my first series, and won Preditors and Editors award for best Sci-Fi fantasy. Reviewers compare them to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. They are humor mixed with fantasy mixed with Betty Crocker’s cake mix. So not only are they a lot of fun, but they taste good, too.

6. I noticed you were also involved in both the Missing and the Heat of the Moment anthologies. Can you tell us about those and your stories in each?

Both of these books were written to benefit charities. “Missing” for the National Center for Exploited and Missing 401K’s, er, I mean Children. And the Heat of the Moment was written to benefit families who suffered losses in the California wild fires. Karen Syed, publisher of Echelon, has a big heart, and it’s wonderful she devoted time and resources to this project, not to mention trying to round up a bunch of authors which is kind of like trying to herd cats. My stories are short stories using the same characters from my Adventures of Guy series. Buy the books, people, they go to benefit worthy causes.

7. So, now that we know about your books, let's move back to the basics. How'd you get into writing?

One word: laptops. Or would that be two words, lap tops? Anyway, I’m a natural reader, storyteller and typist, and once they created cutting and pasting, I was off to the races.

8. Judging by your previous works, is comedy your genre of choice?

Actually, humor is my genre of necessity. I don’t have the patience to craft mystery, and whenever I try horror, the humor keeps popping out. You can forget romance, too (I’m a guy, we don’t get romance). Plus I find I do my best writing while sitting on a Whoopie-cushion.

9. What is your proudest achievement so far in writing?

Writing believable women characters. I get a lot of positive feedback about my female characters from females (Males generally just complain I don’t use the word ‘fart’ enough). Considering I don’t get women at all, I’m really proud women identify with characters in my stories. I’m still waiting for some feedback from vampires to let me know if I nailed them too.

10. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Yes, stop aspiring and start doing. If you’re writing your first book, finish it. And don’t bore your readers. Like Leonard Elmore says, ‘leave out the parts people skip.” Or something like that.

You can find Norm on and

Monday, November 2, 2009

Writer's Wednesday!

Just thought I'd stop by to let everyone know that I'm starting a new segment on my blog called Writer's Wednesday!

Each Wednesday I'm going to be posting an interview with a new author!

(Cue exciting clapping)

This Wednesday, I'm interviewing Norm Cowie, author of the new young adult novel, Fang Face! So make sure to stop by and listen to all that he has to say!