Friday, January 30, 2015

Interview with author Ashley Knight

Could you tell us a little about yourself & your writing?

I'm a Brit living in America, married to the love of my life with two little girls. We currently live in Idaho. A singer, writer, reader, ex-model, guitarist, professional mermaid, publisher, scuba-diver, gymnast, rodeo queen, horse rider, swimmer, actor, poet, - you could say I've lived a few lives!

My writing:
My writing always tends to have a touch of fantasy in it. I hope that my readers are able to escape their daily lives & become involved with my characters. If I can wrap them up in my world & they've enjoyed it, I have been successful! 

How did your mermaiding come about & how has it influenced your writing?

My first three books (Fins, Fathom, Forever) were a trilogy about mer-folk. I've loved mermaids since I was five when I saw Splash! I wanted to encourage readers to bring their children to my book signings and thought it might be a good idea to have a mermaid there. After the first year of book signings I thought "What better way to live out my dream of being a mermaid then to mermaid on the side and promote my books at the same time?" It grew from there and soon I was working with aquariums and water parks and opened a business as The Mermaid Lady. 

Can you share a little bit with us about your most recently published work?

My latest published book is FALWYN, a contemporary fantasy fiction tale:
When Dad decides to get in touch with his inner hippy and move from the bustling city of LA to the sticks of Northern Idaho, Lara Dupree resigns herself to a fate worse than death. But a freak encounter introduces the mysterious Draven who is anything but normal and Lara is thrust into a dangerous reality where legends are real, omens become fact and nothing is ever what it seems. Pushed beyond anything she has ever experienced, Lara discovers an inner strength far surpassing her expectations and with it, grave consequences. With the balance of several worlds dangling about them, the two are forced to make decisions that will change them forever. Will everything Lara loves be sacrificed, or will her life become the fairytale she so desperately desires?

What inspired you to become a writer, and what is one of the things that surprised you most in the process?

My mother inspired me to write at a very young age. It was her enthusiasm & support that helped me pursue my passions. 

My first book was quickly accepted by the very first publishing company I contacted. I was surprised that anyone thought my writing was good enough to be published! I honestly didn't believe that I would become a published author.  The fact that people still buy those first few books is, of course, fantastic and such a compliment, but I'm still surprised every day! 

What is one of the most challenging or difficult lessons you’ve learned as an author? 

I welcome constructive criticism but when it is blatantly obvious that someone has not read my book and still writes a review, I take it personally. It is very difficult for me to separate myself from that. 

Name one of your novels and list five words that best describe it.

Fins: descriptive, beautiful, exciting, magical & fun! 

What’s one novel that you’ve read and enjoyed, and has stayed with you? Why do you believe it has?

London Macabre by Steven Savile. 
It is beautifully written - sumptuous and dripping with the most descriptive scenes - it completely sucked me in and every time I read it I find myself transported away. It is one of my favorite books. 

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I have just opened a publishing company - Checkmate Press! In addition to re-printing The FINS Trilogy FALWYN, I am publishing a daily devotional titled "Seeking God". 

I am also co-authoring a book with a dear friend of mine. Five - a thriller about a soldier returning from Afghanistan will be next & after that, there are children's books lined up. 
Checkmate Press will be accepting submissions in the Spring. 

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

Thank you for a fun interview!

Below is a list of places you can find out more about Ashley Knight and her works:


Friday, January 23, 2015

Interview with Thriller Author Sean Ellis


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

I love escapist fiction. As far back as I can remember I was drawn to science fiction and fantasy, but when I saw the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark, I was sucked into the gravity well of high adventure—particularly stories involving the search for lost treasure. I devoured everything from King Solomon’s Mines to Michael Crichton’s Congo, and along the way, discovered Clive Cussler’s novels. I think the appeal to me, as a kid, was the possibility that I could be one of those heroes…a Quatermain, Indy, or a Dirk Pitt. I might never be able to pilot a space fighter or slay a dragon, but finding a lost city or a sunken pirate ship? That could happen right?

Writing those daydreams out was always a part of it as well. When the school assignment was to ‘write a story about…’ I was all over that. I definitely always knew that I wanted to write, and by the time I finished high school, I was actively trying to find a way to make it a career.

I’ve had my fair share of missteps and false starts, but I guess that was the path I had to follow to get where I am. I’ve got a ton of student loan debt, and a degree that I would love to use, but I’d rather write stories and there’s only so many hours in the day. That’s the lesson life is trying to teach us. That thing you’ve always dreamed of doing? Stick with it. I wish I had realized that thirty years ago.

In addition to writing novels on your own (so to speak), you’ve collaborated with other authors. As you see it, what are the benefits and the additional challenges to writing as a co-author?

The new reality of mainstream publishing is branding. Bestselling authors are a sure thing, and publishers know that they will make more money putting out, say ten new Patterson novels, than they would releasing ten novels from relative unknowns. The bottom line for aspiring authors, particularly in genre fiction, is that it is now even less likely that a mainstream publisher will take a chance on you. At the same time, there are so many other options that many new authors (and quite a few cast off mid-list veterans) are skipping the traditional route, and doing quite well with independent publishing alternatives. I’m somewhere in between. I have my reservations about traditional publishing, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel on it. I think collaboration is a valid path to success, and I’m not being cynical about that. The process isn’t much different from an apprenticeship, and who wouldn’t want to work with a master of the craft?

I’m in a slightly different category than the guys working with the bestsellers. The books I’m co-authoring aren’t being published by mainstream houses, but the authors I’m working with are hugely successful in indie publishing. Jeremy Robinson, with whom I’ve written several Chess Team/Jack Sigler novels as well as the original stand-alone thriller Flood Rising, is a traditionally published author, but the books I’ve written with him are indie published. What that means is that the books aren’t going to be in brick and mortar stores, but digital sales will be very strong, and as a direct result, I’m getting new readers for many of my own titles because people who read ebooks tend to read A LOT of ebooks, and they’re always looking for a new favorite author.

I’ve been very lucky in that the authors I’ve worked with give me a lot of freedom when it comes to using their characters. I do try to stay faithful to spirit and style of the original works, but sometimes you have to bow to the creator’s expectations as well as the audience’s.

Can you share a little bit with us about your most recently published work?

The timing on that question couldn’t be better. I wrote a total of five novels in 2014, and only one of them was not a collaboration. As luck would have it, the most recent book is that solo project, Descendant, the second book in the Dark Trinity/Mira Raiden adventures. It’s very much in the vein of the Tomb Raider video games or the Rogue Angel novels. The series chronicles the adventures of Mira Raiden, who has precognitive abilities and an on-again/off-again relationship with the CIA. The first book, Ascendant, kicked off with Mira (freshly booted from the CIA) using her unique abilities to locate an outpost of Atlantis, and with it, a dangerous relic called the Trinity. The second book picks up where Ascendant, left off and sees our heroine swept up in a search to find TWO (count ‘em) lost cities of legend—Shambala a.k.a Shangri La, and Lemuria, often called the Atlantis of the Pacific. Lots of crazy action in these books, as well as some crazy history, science and magic.

What inspired you to become a writer, and what is one of the things that has surprised you most in the process?

One of the things that really inspired me early on was on the ‘about the author’ page in one of Clive Cussler’s early novels. It talked about how Cussler spends his spare time looking for shipwrecks and lost gold mines. That sounded perfect to me. If I became a professional adventure novelist, then I could travel and have real adventures, all in the name of research.

I guess the biggest surprise is that I finally made it…sort of. I’m not exactly where I dreamed of being, but the very fact that I’m now able to write full time seems almost too good to be true.

If you had the opportunity to sit down with any three individuals for dinner (living or deceased), who would they be, where would you dine, and what would you hope to discuss?

Let’s go with Marco Polo, Jesus, and Dan “D.B.” Cooper. Marco, because there are people who question whether he even existed at all, and because his Travels hint at stories untold. Jesus for much the same reason. Cooper because then we’d finally know who he was and what happened to him. We’d go to a Mongolian grill place and I’d have Marco write the review for Yelp. Jesus could say grace, and Dan could leave the tip.

Name one of your novels and list five words that best describe it and then name one of your co-authored novels, and list five words that best describe it. What do you think the resulting words indicate?

Gosh, look at the time….

What are you reading now and what motivated you to select that book?

The Forgotten by David Baldacci. I’ve been wanting to check out some other thriller authors and Baldacci was at the top of my list. Of all his work, the books about Army CID agent John Puller sounded the most appealing, so I’ve been working my way through the series. They aren’t my usual cup of tea, but that can sometimes be a rewarding experience.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

More books! I’m continuing my very successful partnerships with David Wood and Jeremy Robinson. David and I are currently working on a new Outrigger series featuring characters from his Dane Maddock novels, and there’s a second Jade Ihara novel—the sequel to Oracle—in the works as well. Jeremy and I are putting the final touches on the next Chess Team/Jack Sigler novel—the eighth title in the series—which will explore the fate of the famed Lost Colony of Roanoke Island. I don’t want to give too much away, but the book is titled Cannibal, so…take a wild guess. That should be out in early February. Jeremy and I are also working on a couple other projects, but those are hush-hush for now. Hopefully, there will be time for me to write the next Mira Raiden adventure in there too.

As this interview is coming to a close, is there anything else you’d like to add or share?

I was just reading a science article about the mind-boggling field of quantum dots. As I stumbled through the information, started wondering what the world would be like if all 7 billion of us—that’s 7,000,000,000 people—understood what the article was about. What might we be able to accomplish in such a world? Now, how do we make that happen?

Thanks you Sean, for taking the time to answer my questions.

You're welcome, Terry, and thank you for the opportunity.
Below is a list of places (links) where you can find out more about Sean Ellis and his works:

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Council President and TV Appearance

Well, the two are not related (see title of this blog post) but both pretty exciting, for different reasons.

This week I was elected President of the St. Paris Village Council.

It's quite an honor that the other members of council have faith in my judgement and leadership. Really, the position doesn't add a lot to my duties and responsibilities. If mayor is unable to attend any council meetings, I step in and run them. The same for other meetings around the county. On the down side, if the mayor should be unable to finish his term, or should resign, I would take his place as mayor. Definitely not something I aspire to do--NOT AT ALL.

I'm also the one designated to sign various ordinances and other legal documents. I guess that will technically 'immortalize' me in the 'Village History Books'.

Also, tonight I'll be taped for a local cable access program, a TV show hosted by Sue Cantrell from Around About Books. You guessed's related to books. More details and information will follow as it becomes available.

Heck, my wife even ironed a shirt for me so I'd look semi-sharp. :)

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Halcón Flanqueador Now Available

Halcón Flanqueador, the Spanish translation of Flank Hawk, is now available!

Currently you can obtain it at:
Amazon US
B&N Nook

Amazon (Spain)
Amazon (Mexico)

laFeltrinelli(.com) , Livaria Cultura, and bol(.com)

More places will follow.

A great thanks to María Victoria Madruga Flores for translating from English into Spanish!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Video Interview – Dark Fantasy, Martial Arts and More (JF Penn interviews Alan Baxter)

Check out the interview with Alan Baxter, Dark Fantasy Author and more, where he discusses his path from small press (Gryhphonwood) and self-published to writing for HarperCollins. Packed with information and advice on writing fight scenes, world creating, keeping balance in life, and more.

Great content for both readers and authors.

Here's a link to a previous interview here on Up Around the Corner with Alan, and a character interview with his Mr. Hood, from the Alex Caine Series:
--Author Interview with Alan Baxter
--Interview with Mr. Hood

To learn more about Alan, visit his website:

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Traveling through Space, based on NASA Images, and Novel Imaginations

I just thought this was pretty neat, created from NASA images:

When the video flashes to Jupiter, I imagine Security Specialist Keesay, from Io's subterranean colony, observing the Crax attack fleet closing in, and the local ships humanity can throw together, backed by def-sats and surface-based defenses, forming for a desperate defense.

Certain they enemy break get through, Keesay prepares what defenses he and the research lab scientists and technicians can muster, knowing the sparse number of Colonial Marines, however skilled, brave and valiant, can't hold back the Crax and Stegmar Mantis soldiers when they land.

A scene from Relic Rescue, the sequel to Relic Tech, my work in progress.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Cover for Halcón Flanqueador (Spanish translation of Flank Hawk)

Here's the cover for the soon to be released Spanish translation of Flank Hawk, the first novel in the First Civilization's Legacy Series:

Monday, January 12, 2015

Trend: Contacted by Self-Published Authors to Review Their Novels...but

Maybe I'm one of the only ones, but I doubt it. The trend started out in late 2013 for me, being contacted by self-published authors with the request to review their novels on Amazon.

It's pretty simple. I do a fair number of reviews, and by clicking back on my reviewer profile, people can find my website. Going there, it's easy to find my contact email address. Maybe it's been suggested in a popular author marketing book or two, or the authors are just being creative on their own in trying to grow their readership.

There's nothing wrong with any of that. Sometimes the authors offer to send me a copy of their novel, or point out that it's free, or only 99 cents, or it's very similar to a novel I enjoyed and reviewed, or whatever.

Not a problem. Gusto for initiative. Usually I'll go check out the Amazon link they provide and take a look at what they've written. I will say that every book has been either fantasy or SF, so they've targeted me properly there. While a few novels have looked pretty interesting, many are just horrible. Bad covers, the first few pages of the 'look inside' feature are rife with typos and horrid grammar, the first ten pages appear to be a prologue giving the history of the world and everything that's gone before in minute name it.

Like I indicated, some of the novels brought to my attention have both attractive covers and an interesting premise, and the first chapter is well written--minimal typos and grammar gaffs, interesting dialogue and description, and the story seems to be going somewhere.

The thing is, my reading time is very limited, especially during the school year, where I spend hours and hours reading essays, grading tests and quizzes, reviewing homework assignments and reading journals. Hey, that's the life of a high school English teacher. Then there's the village council and family and church and pet turtles get the point.

Instead of a polite reply to the contact/request email, indicating that I am unable to read and provide a review of the novel, for those novels that intrigue me, I reply with an offer for the possibility of the author to do an interview for my blog (yes, Up Around the Corner) and provide links to previous interviews to give them an idea what to expect. I also mention that possibly they could do something similar (a similar interview, or to read and, if they enjoyed one of my novels, to post a review, or whatever they think is appropriate) to help me promote one of my works.

Almost invariably, dead silence. No return email in reply. I get far more replies from authors who I decline to review their work, thanking me for taking the time to consider. And then those that were interested in a review, and possibly something mutual in return? I send them the first question, or a list of questions. I never hear back.

Okay, Those that I responded to positively appear to have been looking for something easy, because they're busy like me. Or maybe they just got a whole bunch of people jumping at the chance to do reviews based upon their emailed requests. Actually, I don't believe so as several I've bothered to go back and check on still have their two or three reviews, or maybe moved up from ten to fourteen after a few months.

Honestly, I don't mind helping out fellow authors, whatever their stripe, but it's not a one way street. For things to work, sometimes it takes time and effort from both ends.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

The Local Food Pantry

One of the neat things about a small town is the sense of community. I'm not a big social butterfly and interactive with folks everywhere in town. Maybe it stems from growing up in Toledo, an decent city...but a city.

The Food Pantry, supported by the Federation of Churches is one example. Not only around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but twice a week, all year round the food pantry provides for those in the community that are in need. It's housed in part of the old firehouse attached to the village's admin building, making it central in town and easily accessible to everyone...with a good driveway and parking and easily accessed by the handicapped. It's organized, run and maintained by volunteers.

It's supported by not only members of the various churches, but the scouts, schools, local businesses, individual (unaffiliated) community members--if that make sense, and more.

It's friends and neighbors helping friends and neighbors. What can be better than that?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year and Observing a Not So Postive Future

An update:

The Gross National Debt

At 4:40 pm EST on 7/22/11 the debt totaled:      $14,412,536,802,223
At 9:40 pm EST on 11/20/12 the debt it totaled: $16,290,755,341,268
At 12:58 pm EST on 1/1/15 the debt totaled: $18,050,495,107,615 (the time/date this article was posted)

What this means is that each man, woman and child in the United States owes over $51,000, and growing each and every second that passes.

It's not sustainable...everyone knows this.

I guess this has been weighing on my mind, especially as I'm a member of the Village Council and we're having to take hard looks at the very tight budget. See, the state governor brags about cutting taxes and keeping a balanced state budget (which he, just like St. Paris) has to do by law--unlike the Federal Government.

But, as I see it, from my limited perspective, much of the burden has been passed on down to counties and local municipalities. Continued lessened revenue, although there is some hope with the economy doing a little better. But support from the State, including grants and other assistance has become more of a challenge to obtain, and 'matching funds' rates have become so high and cost prohibitive that they're not an option. (Thus, the State government saves money--yet the spending revenues they have available at the State level to do what needs to be done remains largely the same, or better).

The point is that it all rolls down hill, and the National Debt, the $51,000+ dollars and growing, is going to be borne by the average person. And when the bill finally comes, it's going to hurt. Does anyone really think it's not going to have a devastating effect when it does?

It's come up in my classroom on occasion, usually in November when elections are on their minds. When I point out to them the debt that they're going to inherit, they're incredulous. "I'm not going to pay that!" they invariably reply. "Okay," I usually say. "It's something to think about, and you should remain aware of. Because, as an adult, one way or another, it's going to impact your life and the lives you care about."

Okay, starting the New Year off with a not so cheery point of view.