Monday, July 6, 2015

Two Great Reviews over the Weekend

Flank Hawk & Blood Sword each earned a great (5 Star) review over the weekend:

A Most Unusual War
"A superb action packed story about an individual who becomes a mercenary during a most unique war. Not only must the hero named Flank Hawk battle an evil army of the dead with a sword and spear, he must face weapons from over two thousand years in the form of German tanks and planes previous seen during World War II. It was so enjoyable to read that I went ahead and bought the next two books in the series!" --Predator51

Even Better than the First Book!
"Once again an outstanding adventure story! They are still at war but battling a different army. Due to the loss of manpower from the previous war to include magic users and dragons, An elite team of warriors to include Flank Hawk must make a long journey to retrieve a most powerful weapon to prevent defeat against an army lead by a so-called god. Plenty of superb action!" --Predator51

If you haven't given them a try, maybe you should?
Link: Where Available 

Friday, July 3, 2015

An Interview with Author Emma Lindhagen


Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Emma. Please, please us a little about yourself and your writing.

First of all, thank you for giving me this opportunity! To tell you a little about myself, I’m 27, born and raised in Stockholm, Sweden, where I live with my boyfriend. I work part time as an administrator and am currently studying towards a BA in Arabic with Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on Arabic Linguistics. I love languages and learning in general, and I consider myself a bit of a geek. Outside of work, school and my writing, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and talking for hours on end, binging on TV shows, taking walks, drinking tea, playing The Sims 2, doing my nails and organizing things! Seriously, give me a bag of mixed beads and some containers and I’ll be happy as Larry.

I’ve liked writing for as long as I’ve known how to hold a pen, and I was 11 when I first decided I wanted to be an author “when I grew up”. During my adolescence I spent countless hours doing text based role playing, primarily in a Harry Potter fan-RP setting, and wrote dozens of first chapters that never got a second chapter. Eventually I started doing NaNoWriMo regularly, which led to finally learning how to write more than a chapter of the same story, but even so it wasn’t until a couple of years ago that I really started taking myself seriously as a writer. Teaching myself that writing is something I’m allowed to put a lot of time and effort into, even when I have assignments to work on, rather than just a hobby was what led me to finally publishing my first book, a novella called Going Home in the winter of 2014. I am currently in the later stages of editing its sequel, which is called Dress Rehearsal Rag and will be available in digital formats in early-mid June. I write in a range of genres but, with some exceptions, my stories tend to fall somewhere under the “speculative fiction” umbrella.

You appear to be a quite busy person, Emma. How do you prioritize so that you manage to find time for writing?

I do tend to be happiest when I have a lot of projects going, though it does get a bit much at times. The two keys to finding time for writing, for me, are permission and planning. The first is mental and emotional. I’ve come to a point where I’ve realized that I’m permitted to prioritize my writing, as long as my bills are paid and nothing in the kitchen is sprouting legs. I’m allowed to put writing before schoolwork, social activities and other projects, when I feel that’s something I need to do. That perspective is becoming easier and easier to maintain, but I still need to remind myself at times.

The planning part is more practical. I use various apps and systems to keep track of my plans on a long term basis (months and years) and a short term basis (weeks and days), and I use to-do lists religiously to schedule all my projects, including writing, into my daily life. On Mondays I post an update on my blog about what I’ve been up to in the week before and what my goals for the coming week are, and usually once I’m done I’ll assign the goals on that list to different days of the week. Planning helps me keep focused and keeps me from losing track of my writing amid everyday activities.

In what languages do you write, and work to have your works published?

Although Swedish is my native language, I mostly write in English. I’ve always been very fond of the language and enjoyed expressing myself in it, so I started writing poetry and some fiction in English when I was about 13. Around that age I started spending time online, making friends in other countries and of course the lingua franca then was English. The people on online messaging boards or websites like deviantArt were my first audience, so it felt natural to produce things in English. I was also very into text-based roleplaying, and through that I was writing interactive (fan)fiction in English, sometimes for hours every day, for several years. I think that’s why at this point writing fiction in English comes more easily to me than writing it in Swedish; those muscles are just more toned.

And then there’s the question of the market and who to sell books to. There’s no escaping that you reach a larger audience with English. That’s not to say I never write in Swedish, but since it’s more practical from a market perspective to write in English and I find it as easy, or perhaps even easier than to write in Swedish, I have decided that I will only write longer works in Swedish if I have a concrete reason (such as a story being set in present-day Sweden). I plan to write a YA fantasy series in Swedish at some point, set in a small Swedish town, but that’s still in the “simmering” stage where the idea isn’t ready to be worked with yet.

Once in a very blue moon, I write something in Arabic, which is a different experience altogether because my level is obviously not as high in that language and my vocabulary is very small. It’s challenging, but a lot of fun.

What is one place in the world that you would like to visit and why?

Oh gosh, that’s a hard question! There are a lot of places I’d like to visit, but I think right now New Zealand is on top of my list. The main reason for that is that most of my closest writing friends happen to be there, the people I consider to be part of my writing “tribe”. These are people who have been very supportive of my writing, and great sources of inspiration and friendship and it would just be so lovely to be able to go on a writing retreat or something with them. I met most of them during Camp NaNo a couple of years ago, when I somehow became the one Sweden in a cabin full of people from NZ and Australia.
Second on my list are the mountains in Lebanon.

That sounds like a great choice, Emma. What works have you had published to date and what are you working on now?

I published my debut novella, Going Home, in December 2014 and my second one, Dress Rehearsal Rag, which is a sequel to the first, was released just a few days. They detail the lives of a group of people, particularly my main character Orryn, who live in a dystopian society where sameness is valued and originality is frowned upon. The books are very relationship-focused, however. So as you can see, I’m quite new at this! I did publish a poetry book in my teens, too, but that’s not currently for sale anywhere.

Everyone has to start somewhere and it appears that you’re on your way.

Final Question: If you could have one individual (famous, infamous, or otherwise) read one of your works who would that be and why?

That’s a tough one! I’d probably wait a few years until I’ve got more works to choose from. But if that’s not an option, I’d send a copy of Going Home to Leonard Cohen. Both books in this series are named after songs by him, after all.

Makes sense, Emma. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and share your thoughts.

If you’d like to learn more about Emma Lindhagen and her works, check out these links:

Twitter: @EmmaLindhagen

Books on Smashwords:

Books on Amazon:

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Revisiting Myles' Pizza Pub in Bowling Green, Ohio

Whenever I or my wife travel through Bowling Green, we try to stop at Myles' Pizza Pub, home of the best pizza anywhere.

I came to learn of the place during my years in college (late 1980s/early 1990s) and it hasn't change--the food. They've remodeled a little while keeping the the same atmosphere.

Anyway, I stopped by the other day after meeting my sister (so my daughter could visit a few days with her cousin in Toledo). Bowling Green, while not meeting in the middle, is a good place for a rendezvous.

To my surprise, Chip Myles was in the back, making pizza. I remembered him from my college days. Sure his hair has gone gray but he looks essentially the same, serious yet smiling. I even got the chance to meet him on the way out, shake hands and exchange a few words.

Yep, I picked up a pizza (with bacon strips and pepperoni of course) for my wife.

Myles Pizza: Left Overs Always Good Cold
 The plan is to meet at Myles' for lunch when I pick my daughter up. Always a wise choice. :)

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Author John Scalzi's Opinion on the Amazon KU Modifications

Here's an opinion by a well known author on the 'tweaks' as to how KDP Select Authors will be paid for their books picked/read by readers in Amazon's Kindle Unlimited program.

Link: John Scalzi-- Amazon Tweaks Its Kindle Unlimited System. It Still Sucks For KDP Select Authors

Two Popular Novels by John Scalzi

I'm not involved in any way, as my publisher (Gryphonwood Press) doesn't restrict any works published by Gryphonwood to have availability only through Amazon. Also, as a reader, I am not part of Kindle Unlimited.

While the article/opinion mainly focuses on the effect on authors, how authors respond (or don't respond) will ultimately affect readers. For what it's worth, I think John Scalzi's views are pretty much on target, and I agree with the choice of my publisher to distribute through as many venues as possible.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Interview with Speculative Fiction Author Ryan A. Span

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Ryan. Could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing?

Thanks, Terry! I’m Ryan, I’m 31, and I’ve been reading and writing SF in English for a little over half my life, despite growing up in a small town in continental Europe. A childhood spent daydreaming about something more than day-to-day life led me to losing myself in fantasy and science-fiction, and I’ve carried on with that ever since!

On top of that, I’ve been playing video games for as long as I can remember, getting exposed to all the wild imagination that was rife on the Commodore 64 and early PCs. Those two things combined led me to fall in love with the English language, and that passion led me to find the words to write down all the stories in my head.

You write more than just novels. What other creative projects are you involved in?

My ‘day job’ is actually in independent video games as a writer and designer. Depending on the needs of the project, I write storylines and dialogue, design whole games from scratch, and oversee production on team projects. I even do a little bit of voice acting here and there, like in my upcoming game Euclidean (website forthcoming) where I perform the voiceovers.
 My most recently released game is FRONTIERS, a large open-world RPG for which I wrote the main storyline and virtually all dialogue. That’s out on Steam Early Access right now.


Your first published novels would be STREET, your SF cyberpunk trilogy. Can you tell us about that and how it came about?

Neuromancer was a huge influence on me when I read it. Most of the science-fiction I’d experienced up until that point was space opera or high-minded Star Trek-type stuff, which I still enjoy, but this was something totally new to my experience. I immediately fell in love with that kind of world, high-tech but earthy. No heroes, no prophecies, no space battles or world-shaking events. Street-level stories with street-level people.

Even so, I didn’t do anything with that feeling for years, until late 2006, when I read Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson and fell in love with cyberpunk all over again. Snow Crash’s different take on things convinced me that this wasn’t just a dead genre from the 80s, that it could be as fresh and amazing now as it ever was. I wanted to write that kind of story. Cyberpunk that was relevant to the modern day. I started working on STREET not a week later, and pretty soon everything else was relegated to the back burner.

I still to this day can’t believe I finished it. It was a real journey!

Your most recent release is The Impostor Prince, a fantasy novel co-written with David Debord. Can you share with us:

a. A little about the novel.

b. How you came to co-author it with David Debord.

c. Any tips or advice for anyone looking to work with a fellow author on a novel or similar project.

a. The Impostor Prince is definitely the book I’m most proud of in my career so far. It’s an action-packed medieval fantasy adventure with a small sprinkling of magic, set in David’s world of Gameryah, a hundred years after the end of his Absent Gods trilogy. The story centres around a young career thief called Joren, who kills a man in the heat of the moment and gets himself involved in events far beyond his station in order to try to put right what he screwed up. Which turns out to involve impersonating royalty, romancing princesses, and staying one step ahead of death in the dangerous halls of political intrigue.

TIP is a standalone story so you don’t need to have read any of the AG books. TIP is also slightly grittier than the original trilogy, with more visceral action and some blow-by-blow swordfights that I’m also quite proud of, letting me put my background in historical European martial arts to good use.

b. David and I have known each other for years, and we’ve always wanted to work on something together. Since I’ve always been an SFF writer, at first he thought I might be able to help him finish the third book in the Absent Gods trilogy, but our writing styles were just too different for me to jump in mid-series. Then Dave remembered something else he’d started a while ago but got stuck on twenty or so pages in. A different, standalone book in the Absent Gods setting. He showed me what he had, and after reading it, I knew it had potential.

c. Communicate! No matter how you’re doing it or how you’re distributing the effort, always make sure you’re both working from the same sheet. And if you do end up clashing over some bit of background or detail, take a step back and really examine the conflict with a critical eye. Don’t get married to anything just because that’s how you wrote it.

Can you share with the readers one of the most interesting experiences you’ve had in your life to date, and what is one thing you hope to do, see or accomplish within the next decade?

Possibly the most interesting and amazing thing I’ve done to date is lie in the snow next to a mountaintop observatory in Greenland, watching the stars in complete darkness as the Northern Lights closed in on the horizon.

This may sound absolutely generic, but I’d really like to see my books on store shelves. I’ve already had a couple of my games turn up in brick and mortar shops and that felt really nice. I want more of that.

What can readers look forward to from you in the near future with respect to writing?

I actually have another fantasy novel completed -- well, the first draft’s completed, anyway. This one is called Written In Blood, a dark and gritty medieval fantasy, much darker than The Impostor Prince. I just need a few months to rewrite it! It should be out in, oh, October or November. After that I’ve got a military steampunk novel in the works which will be out sometime in 2016.

My next video game, Euclidean, will be out in July-August. It’s a fun little game of geometric horror, dodging obstacles and monsters until you can dodge no more. Definitely keep an eye out for that one!

Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions, Ryan.

Not at all, mate, it’s been a pleasure. Thanks to you and to everyone reading!

To keep up with or learn more about Ryan and his works, check out the following links: -- Ryan’s personal website
Ryan A. Span's Amazon Page