The Wolves Are At The Door by Anthony Schiavino

I’m pleased to welcome Shotglass Memories author Anthony Schiavino to the blog today for a post about how an author works hard to earn readers’ trust…so he can betray it in the name of art.

The Wolves Are At The Door

If David Fincher directed Bogie and Bacall in a Hitchcock romance, you would have Shotglass Memories. It’s a mixed drink explained in different ways, through different genres, but I’ll let you come to realize that I’ve eviscerated you emotionally by the time you get to the coda.

Before that happens, I need to earn your emotional attachment. I need to earn your trust, before I throw it through the plate glass and onto the pavement.

You don’t know Joe Sinclair or Kelsey Halliday. You don’t know Deargood, or Norah, or Gabriel. You’re on the outside looking in. You’re not inside my head, or theirs. From the gate, you don’t know the intimate details of what makes them tick; what keeps them up at night or what arouses their souls. You’re a voyeur who has a condition. An urge. I’m here to feed that urge.

But why should you care what happens to any of them at the start, let alone at all?

When I put them through Hell, or have them fall in love, I want you to feel it. I don’t want to tell you to feel it. I want you to feel the dark embrace of the page.

When I break Joe I want you to feel it at the back of your throat.

I want you to feel the chill off the ocean when Norah stands half-naked, covered in blood, crying out for somebody to open the door. I’ll paint the broad strokes and you fill in the rest. Hitchcock didn’t have to show everything.

Because you, the voyeur, can picture far worse.

Mark Gummere - When The Past Comes Calling

When The Past Comes Calling

“Finding Elizabeth was a wonderful discovery! Her insights into issues of structure, language, and context were equally matched by her professionalism, timeliness, and friendliness. Her suggestions consistently improved my book, and her concern for making the manuscript the best it could be was genuine and heartfelt. I recommend Elizabeth without reservation.” — Mark Gummere

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.

Shotglass Memories by Anthony Schiavino

During the early days of the Cold War, a man battles combat fatigue haunted by a past of murder and romance he doesn’t remember. — Shotglass Memories

I first started reading author Anthony Schiavino through his comic book work and short stories. In fact, in what was a departure for me at the time, I reviewed his comic Sergeant Zero: Reigning Fire back in 2011. And while he has continued to work on various comics and short stories, he’s been working away diligently on longer works as well.

Anthony now has a couple of novels working their way through the traditional publishing route, but decided he wanted to go ahead and release one of the novels he’s been working on, Shotglass Memories, himself.

An excerpt of the first few chapters are available to preview on his website, and the novel itself is now up for preorder on Amazon.

I saw an early draft of Shotglass Memories, and without even having read the final version yet I can certainly recommend you go ahead and get your preorder in. I know I have, and I’m looking forward to seeing how things turned out in the end.

From the halls of Marvel Comics as a mutant editorial intern to the heights of the Flatiron designing book covers and straight on through newsrooms as an art director, Anthony Schiavino has seen action and then some. Pounding away at the keyboard, working well into the night, he mixes his love of old hard-boiled stories, hopeless romance and black and white movie dialogue like a good stiff drink. You can catch up with Anthony on his blog, Pulp Tone, as well as on Twitter
Roderick Vincent - The Cause

The Cause

“Elizabeth helped push my manuscript to the next level. Not only did she find the grammatical and spelling mistakes, but she helped me with the developmental edit as well. It all paid off for me because Roundfire Books picked up my manuscript and published it.” — Roderick Vincent

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.

Where is the President? by Roderick Vincent

I’m pleased to welcome Roderick Vincent to the blog today. I had the pleasure of working with Rick on his debut novel, The Cause, the first in the Minutemen series, which takes place in a dystopian America of 2022, where the country is on the verge of economic and social collapse, the government having made individual freedom its enemy.

Just Whose Story Is It? by Mark de Castrique

Very pleased to welcome Mark de Castrique to the blog. Mark is the author of two series—one featuring funeral director Barry Clayton, the other featuring former Chief Warrant Officer Sam Blackman—both of which draw heavily on their setting in the Appalachian Mountains. Today Mark is here to talk about just whose story an author is really telling. His latest novel, Risky Undertaking, is out now from Poisoned Pen Press.

Mark de CastriqueThanks to Elizabeth for letting me guest blog. I’d like to reflect upon what sounds like a simple question – one I ask myself with every novel: just whose story is it?

When I started my first series, I had a character and setting – Barry Clayton, funeral director in the Appalachian Mountains of North Carolina. Since my father had been a funeral director, I used some of his stories and my own imaginings of what it would be like to be in that profession to blend the “what was” and “what might have been” into a family story.

But as the writing process evolved and fictional events unfolded, the characters’ paths diverged from my original intentions and characters became whom they needed to become, distinct and individual entities. A friend of mine, writer Robert Inman, remarks that he knows he’s in his most productive zone when his characters start talking to him. I need to take it a step farther. I know my story has grown beyond me when my characters start talking to each other. It is no longer my story; it is my characters’ story.

Sometimes a story creates a new cast because the premise isn’t right for the ensemble of characters who have already come into being. My first experience with this change of “ownership” occurred when an elderly friend told me about his journey through the Jim Crow South transporting a body from Asheville to North Georgia. When he was ten, he and his father, both white, aided an African-American funeral director who had only a horse and wagon.

Bullet Gal Graphic Novel Kickstarter Campaign

Andrez BergenIt’s no secret that I love the hell out of anything and everything Andrez Bergen is involved with—his novel Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat (TSMG) is one of my all-time favorite reads. Now, following the smashing success of his Kickstarter campaign for Tobacco-Stained Mountain Goat: The Graphic Novel, the amazingly creative Andrez is back with another killer graphic novel Kickstarter.

This time, Andrez is doing something very cool with his serialized, twelve-part comic, Bullet Gal. I’ll let him explain more:

Doing the Bullet Gal comic book was surprisingly liberating after four back-to-back novels, and it gave me a better chance to really hone in on the hardboiled, crime and film noir influences that shaped my brain as a kid. Being able to tweak these visually as well as through the story arc and rapid-fire dialogue was a joy.

Of course, things never turn out simple. These influences were then folded and shoved into a dirty sock drawer with mischief-makers like sci-fi, slapstick and superhero derring-do.

I didn’t expect the combination to work so well, or for it to get such positive feedback from people outside my own head space. And once I wrapped issue 12, finalizing a story around 280 pages in total length, I felt kind of sad. I’m going to miss this place. A sizable part of me is itching to get back in there! — AB

Sam Hawken - The Drum

The Drum

Over the years I’ve both read and reviewed Sam’s novels, as well as worked with him on his Camaro Espinoza novellas. Camaro made her full-length novel debut in The Night Charter (Mulholland Books), and I was honored to work with Sam on an early draft of its sequel, Walk Away (also from Mulholland).

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.

Dedications by Benjamin Whitmer

Some authors tell made-up stories. Others tell about real life, it just happens to be in the form of a made-up story. Benjamin Whitmer is definitely one of the latter. His first novel, Pike, is one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read; it easily made my Top 10 of 2011. So, it will come as no surprise to anyone who read Pike that Whitmer’s latest offering, Cry Father, not only builds on that first success, but takes it to another level. What many may not know, however, is the powerful, and sad, story behind something as seemingly simple as the book’s dedication.

Benjamin WhitmerI think about the dedications to my books a lot. I probably overthink them. They’re one of those things I can’t stop thinking about once I get started.

I was pretty proud of the original dedication to Cry Father. It was this:

For my children, with all my apologies. And for my parents, with the same.

If Cry Father is about anything, it’s about the failures of fathers and sons. And if I know about anything, it’s failure on those two fronts.

Also, it acknowledged that I have no right to claim any moral superiority over my characters. (Thinking about whether you think you’re better than your own characters is the kind of dipshit thing only somebody seriously prone to overthinking could do.)

But, then, last July, while editing Cry Father, one of my best and oldest friends, Paul Schenck, was killed in his house by a SWAT sniper.

Characters, Violence and Shadows: Why I Write by Brandon Daily

Brandon Daily and his debut novel, A Murder Country, came to my attention via Grant Jerkins (The Ninth Step, At the End of the Road, A Very Simple Crime). Now, given that every book Jerkins has written has made my “Year’s Best” list the year it was published, I really didn’t need anything more than his recommendation to let me know A Murder Country was a book I needed to get my hands on ASAP. But you know what? Jerkins’s enthusiastic endorsement aside, A Murder Country—a story of violence, vengeance and the search for redemption in late nineteenth century Appalachian backwoods and small towns—stands just fine on its own two feet. My review will be forthcoming, but I wanted to go ahead and let Brandon introduce himself and tell you a little about the book and how he came to write it.

Brandon DailyThe other day, a parent of one of my students (I’m a high school English and Literature teacher) came up to me. She smiled and said, “I finished reading your book, and loved it” (this of course made me smile in return, and I thanked her for the kind words). But then her face grew serious and she asked, in the most straightforward tone I could imagine: “What happened in your childhood to make you write this?” I laughed at first, thinking it was a joke, but then stopped myself short when I realized her true concern. “Nothing,” I said. “I had a great childhood.” (And that’s true.) She smiled, said “Good,” and then shook her head. “But the book’s so dark, though. Where’d it come from?” I could only shrug my shoulders at the question.

Since then, I’ve thought a great deal about her question. Where did it come from? She’s right; my first novel, A Murder Country, is incredibly dark and serious. Unrelentingly so. The book is set in late 19th century Appalachia and is full of death and pain, vengeance and sadness marked with only the faintest glimmer of hope (if any). But that is not who I am as a public or even private person.

To meet me, I am kind and polite, fun and goofy—at least I try to be—but my stories (besides A Murder Country, I have had several short stories and plays published online and in print) are all marked with the same dark and serious intensity. Where does that depth of angst come from? The answer is simple, and I think it applies to all narratives (all forms) that carry any kind of purpose. The pain comes from the buried and repressed parts of our psyche. Every person has these questions and thoughts trapped within his/her mind, but there are only a few people who actually look into that psychological darkness and try to understand—or at least explain—it. (Call it bravery or stupidity,

Federales2017x300

Federales

“I’ve had the great pleasure of working with Elizabeth on projects ranging from short stories to a full-length novel. Each time my expectations were surpassed. Elizabeth’s professional critiques not only improved each work, but also my writing in general. She goes beyond the prose, fact checking and providing insightful commentary on plot, character and the like. I highly recommend her editing services.” — Christopher Irvin

Whether your manuscript is in the early stages and you’d like significant developmental input, you’re almost ready to query and are looking for someone to do a final copyedit, or anywhere in-between, I can help. For testimonials from authors with whom I have worked, as well as more detailed information about my editing services, please click here.

Life’s A Blog And Then You Die by Kevin Lynn Helmick

My editing schedule has me behind the eight ball somewhat on reading for pleasure, and subsequent reviews, but one of the books hovering at the top of the stack waiting for review is The Rain King by Kevin Lynn Helmick. I adored Kevin’s novella Driving Alone, and didn’t want him to have to wait for my review in order to give him a platform to help get the word out about his newest release. Hence, Kevin’s very honest guest post today about what blogging can feel like from the perspective of a writer still trying to make their figurative bones.

Kevin Lynn HelmickNot a big blogger. I have one of my own, but I rarely post anything on it. I think for me it’s mostly a place to vent and bitch my frustrations, which is why I avoid it altogether. And self-promotion—that fucking god-awful masturbatory necessity we little-known writers need to gain Google presence and get some attention to our soon to be doomed into nonexistence novels and short stories. Here today, gone tomorrow. Oh well.

Of course you have “the ranters,” the keepers of all that’s right and wrong with writing, publishing, editing, and how to do this, how to do that. Those fuckers love seeing themselves write, and none seem to have a best-selling anything. But every now and then their heads swell with praise from their followers—their 600 sheeple—and their mouths get big enough for a big ol’ boot to fit in…and they do; they choke on it once in awhile. But they’re only blogs, and there’s a safe distance between a fist and black eye there.

I say, what’s so wrong with getting a shiner when your mouth gets out of hand? It’s how we used to learn our social graces. I’ve seen a well-followed blog get too many, ‘Oh, yer so right, couldn’t have said better, once again, yer the greatest,’ and pow, out of nowhere, they decide they can do no wrong and they spew out an opinion so stupid, and so negative, that might involve another—who’s just a little bit better informed on whatever subject, and maybe they have ten times the followers—and, rabid bunch they can be, the fists start flying.

Wait. I kinda feel like I’m doing that now. Actually the only thing that gets flying are words, and that’s too bad. Usually the dumbass who started it shuts right up and publicly reports that they refuse to read their counterpoint rebuttal, their deserved E-shiner. Internet shiners come in the form of insults and attacks on the other’s writing. Which stings a bit, but doesn’t teach us much. Not like a good old fashioned fist in the face. Those are hard to say, ‘No, I won’t lower myself’ to.

But what of it? It passes soon enough, and everyone is on to the next and latest end of the

Tequila Sunset by Sam Hawken

“I can almost stand the bodies, even when they’re in pieces, but when they burn them…” – Matías Segura

Matías Segura, a member of the Policía Federal Ministerial in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, has seen more than his share of dead bodies. From gang members gunned down in the streets in broad daylight to mass graves and scenes of unspeakable torture and brutality, dealing with the carnage that flows from the Mexican drug trade has become a part of Segura’s daily routine.

Just across the border in El Paso, Texas, Detective Cristina Salas is all too aware of the atrocities occurring far to close to home for comfort. When in the course of her work with the El Paso Gang Unit she learns of a possible connection between the notorious Mexico-based Barrio Aztecas and gang activity in her city, she is determined to do whatever it takes to make sure El Paso doesn’t become another Ciudad Juárez-style killing field.

Caught in the middle is Felipe “Flip” Morales, a minor criminal who ended up in prison when one of his crimes took a turn for the unexpectedly serious with devastating results. Unfortunately for Flip, while in prison he became indebted to the Barrio Aztecas, who provided Flip with protection from the other gangs inside. Now free from confinement, Flip is far from free of the hold the Aztecas have on him. Though he has the support of a loving mother and the inspiration of a new girlfriend to fuel his desire to go straight, the Aztecas have other ideas for Flip’s future.

Banned Books Week 2014: Celebrating the Freedom to Read

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to ReadToday is the start of Banned Books Week 2014:

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment. Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted banning of books across the United States.

Intellectual freedom—the freedom to access information and express ideas, even if the information and ideas might be considered unorthodox or unpopular—provides the foundation for Banned Books Week. BBW stresses the importance of ensuring the availability of unorthodox or unpopular viewpoints for all who wish to read and access them.

The books featured during Banned Books Week have been targets of attempted bannings. Fortunately, while some books were banned or restricted, in a majority of cases the books were not banned, all thanks to the efforts of librarians, teachers, booksellers, and members of the community to retain the books in the library collections. Imagine how many more books might be challenged—and possibly banned or restricted—if librarians, teachers, and booksellers across the country did not use Banned Books Week each year to teach the importance of our First Amendment rights and the power of literature, and to draw attention to the danger that exists when restraints are imposed on the availability of information in a free society.

Banned Books Week is sponsored by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, the Association of American Publishers, the American Society of Journalists and Authors, and the National Association of College Stores. Banned Books Week is also endorsed by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.”

For more information on getting involved with Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read, visit their official website.

The Night Visitor by Dianne Emley

Dianne EmleyWe’re part of you, whether you like it or not.

Up-and-coming artist Junior Lara returns home one night to find all the windows open and his loft apartment filled with doves. As he makes his way through the dark rooms shooing the birds out and closing widows behind them, a deep feeling of unease overtakes him as he realizes something very wrong has occurred—all of his canvases are in tatters, ripped to shreds.

When he slips in a patch of something wet, but disturbingly sticky, Junior barely has time to comprehend he’s stepped in the blood of his girlfriend, supermodel Anya Langtry, whose lifeless eyes stare up at him from the floor, before he has a terrible sense of falling…and everything goes black.

And with that wonderfully eerie, atmospheric opening, The Night Visitor, the newest offering from LA Times bestselling author Dianne Emley, is off and running.