Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Spotlight at Examiner.com

Me and my novel Relic Tech are spotlighted in a brief article over at Examiner.com.

Click on over and take a quick look and comment if you're so inclined.

AND Have a great start to 2014!

Link: Indie Book Spotlight: Relic Tech by Terry W. Ervin II

Monday, December 30, 2013

SF Signal: Three Recent References

SF Signal (A Speculative Fiction Fanzine) recently referenced Up Around the Corner twice and one of my novels as a "Book Received" thanks to my publisher, Gryphonwood Press.

1. Interviews with Scott Poe (Indie Book Blog)

2. Relic Tech as a Book Received (Relic Tech)

3. Interview with C. Dean Andersson (BloodSong Hel x 3)

Pretty neat.

If you click on over, SF Signal has a lot of news, reviews, articles and information going on.



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Relic Tech Reaches the Top 100 Rated Military SF Novels

Just checked today on a whim and found that Relic Tech is #94 in Amazon's ranking for the Top 100 Military SF Novels.

I don't know how the algorithm works, but I'm very thankful for those that have read Relic Tech and enjoyed it enough to post a positive review.

Yes, reviews do make a difference!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Author Tag!

I was tagged by the author Angie Lofthouse for this post, so here we go...

What am I working on?
I am working on completing the first draft of Soul Forge, the third novel in my First Civilization's Legacy Series. I've written 114,000 words, so I'm over 90% finished with the first draft. Actually, I just finished revising/editing those 114,000 words to refresh the story in my mind as I'd been away from it for a while with getting Relic Tech ready for publication. So, technically Soul Forge is at the second draft stage...mostly.

In addition, am proofing audiobook chapters of Relic Tech as they're recorded, and hopefully the audiobook version of Blood Sword will be finished and ready for proofing in the next month or so.

Lastly, I am working on an editing project for my publisher (Gryphonwood Press).

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Often my works have a mixture of technology. In the First Civilization's Legacy Series (a post apocalyptic fantasy series) there areinstances of modern and near modern devices and equipment in a world that is largely a medieval setting where magic and creatures of legend exist.

In Relic Tech, the main character is an R-Tech security specialist, which means he uses and relies upon late 20th century technology and equipment in a more advanced, space-faring society.

Why do I write what I do?
I write novels that I'd like to find on the bookshelf if I hadn't written them myself. I write mainly to entertain readers, giving them a good, action-packed story.

How does your writing process work?
For something new (something not in a current series) I take an idea, usually an event or situation, think about it for a while and try to decide if it's really all that interesting and something that can support a short story or a novel, or potentially part of a series. Then, if the idea merits further consideration, I devise the world where the event can take place, and the storyline where it would occur. Then come the characters to bring the story to life. This process can take some time.

For a current series? When I'm outlining that first novel, I will have formulated ideas/plotlines for the series so that there can be smooth transitions from one novel to the next, keeping in mind that each novel has to be a complete, satisfying story--a complete story arc with no 'cliffhangers.'

Thanks for tagging me, Angie!

I am passing this tag onto:

R.S. McCoy and Misha Gericke

And to all the readers and followers of Up Around the Corner, I hope you enjoy a memorable  _Christmas_  with family and friends.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Interview with Fantasy & Horror Writer C. Dean Andersson

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

While I was in the Air Force, I got serious about my writing. I wanted to write “good science fiction like Arthur C. Clarke.” His Childhood’s End, Rendezvous with Rama, and 2001 were favorite SF novels of mine. The cosmic wonder they produced I hoped to create myself.

After my discharge, I went back to school and studied physics-astronomy to get a solid science background for writing serious SF. I wrote short stories and sent them to Analog, my favorite SF magazine. But nothing sold.

It took some good suggestions from Analog’s then editor, Ben Bova, for me to admit the problem was that I was writing from my head. My stories had no heart. So, I tried writing from my heart and, because of an Old Woman in Black from my childhood, “spooky stuff” came out that sold.

I was playing alone, as only children learn to do, outside one day, I guess I was three or four, when I saw a woman in black, dressed fancy as if for church, hat and gloves, but old fashioned, like in photos my grandparents showed. She came toward me hunched over, using a cane. A black veil hid her face. And I got scared.

No one else was in sight there on the outskirts of my small, rural Kansas town. I ran, hid, and listened for her scuffling footsteps to go on by. But instead, they stopped. I waited. The quiet continued. Finally, I looked out. No one was there. 

Next time, she was sitting in a pew at church. I tried to run away but was forced to walk by her. Back home, I asked who she was. No one had seen her but me. Then my grandma remembered a widow who’d dressed that way, in mourning, before she died.

One night, after I’d started school, I dreamed I heard rustling outside my bedroom window and looked out. The Old Woman was there, unveiled and grinning. I woke up in terror. But worse, after that, usually near sunset and always when I was alone, I’d hear the rustling while awake.

I told myself it was “dogs walking in dead leaves.” But the sound came even when no dead leaves were there, and because of the dream, I was afraid to look.

The rustling continued, unpredictably, for a couple more years, until one sunset the sound came and sudden anger overrode my fear. I grabbed a baseball bat and ran outside to confront whatever it was. Nothing was there.

The sound never returned, but one night later on I awoke and saw my mother sitting in the living room, grinning in the dark. In the morning, I knew it had not been my mother. I hoped I’d been dreaming. But it felt like the Old Woman had been inside the house. After that, I never saw her again. I did, however, dedicate my novel, Fiend, to her with these words:

For the Crone of my Childhood Dreams,
At my North Window beneath the Willow,
Grinning in Moonlight with Her Hounds and Nightmares,
Feet of Bone rustling Dead Leaves in Summer
Beneath Her Cold Black Cloak,
My Thanks, and this Book.

Of course I have wondered about those strange childhood experiences. Were they caused by my strong imagination subconsciously playing with Jungian archetypes? And if so, why? Or was one or more unexplained phenomena involved? There are many reports worldwide of people awakening to see an Old Woman or “Hag” in their bedroom. But my encounters while awake  were different from those sleep-related, “Night Fear” experiences.

Whatever my Muse was, wasn’t, or still is, in retrospect I see that the consequences pervade my work, in particular with regard to strong female characters and Witches. Sometimes, I know while writing when my Muse is responsible. In Buried Screams, a rustling sound is associated with a visit from one character’s mother’s corpse. But more often, the “Old Woman” sneaks up on me to be identified later.

For example, the “Witch” themes in most of my novels were ripple effects of research into Witches begun in childhood, because I wondered for a while if the Old Woman was one. Fiend involves the immortal Witch Medea visiting a Dallas comic book convention. And my Medea is still, as in the classic myths, a Priestess of the Goddess Hecate, one of Whose triple aspects is the “Crone” or Old Woman.

Both I Am Dracula and I Am Frankenstein have a Witch who voluntarily becomes a Vampire to initiate Dracula into Vampiredom. Tzigane is a strong, heroic character who becomes Dracula’s lover. When Satan betrays them and transports Tzigane to Hell, so great is Dracula’s love for her that he fights both Satan and God to get her back.

Raw Pain Max came from discovering the historical Blood Countess, Erzebet Bathory, in a book called Witchcraft by William Seabrook when I was a child. Much later, as a horror writer I wondered what would happen if a modern woman who was into fantasies about Bondage and S&M, and wondered why, discovered she was the reincarnation of Erzebet, whose legend says she tortured young women and bathed in their blood.

Torture Tomb’s Witch-theme was driven by research into the Wiccan religion and studying history’s Witchcraft persecutions. In TT, modern Wiccans or “Witches” are the heroes, but reviewers almost always ignore that aspect to focus on the book’s explicit descriptions of the historically accurate tortures of the misogynistic “Holy” Inquisition. Showing in-your-face-so-you-can’t-keep-ignoring-it historical violence against women was, however, the point. The Old Woman in Black hates hypocrisy and takes no prisoners.

The Bloodsong Saga, on the other hand,  grew from my Scandinavian roots. Dad hailed from Sweden. Bloodsong is a kick-ass woman warrior/werebeast fighting to save her daughter and folk from sorcerers, death slaves, and other dark delights. But at the saga’s heart, disguised as Hel, Norse Goddess of the Forgotten Dead, is my Old Woman in Black.

Hel also appears in the short story that sent me to the Bram Stoker Award finals, “The Death Wagon Rolls on By.” And a character with Scandinavian heritage in Buried Screams talks of “Old Hel.”  

That’s an interesting overview and quite a career this far!

Can you tell us a little more about how you came to re-release your Bloodsong Saga and why you originally published it under a pen name?
Tight deadlines hurried the writing of Bloodsong’s saga. Converting the trilogy to the new HEL X 3 eBook gave me a chance to revise and expand the novels, even add chapters. To me, the trilogy was always one story in three parts, so it’s good to have it whole in HEL X 3, which I therefore consider the saga’s definitive edition.  

By the way, I only recently realized that because Bloodsong’s daughter is 6 in Warrior Witch of Hel, 13 in Death Riders of Hel, and 15 in Werebeasts of He, the saga spans 9 years. The number 9 is a sacred number in Norse lore. Writers often write things that mean more than they realized.  

About the pen name—nothing mysterious. Two previous dark fantasy novels had been written under the pen name of “Asa Drake,” Crimson Kisses and The Lair of Ancient Dreams. The publisher of the saga insisted we continue using that name. I changed it to my real name, later, and am, of course, using my own name for HEL X 3.

In your writing career thus far, you must have met some really memorable people (authors, editors, fans, etc.). Could you relate to us one or two of those experiences? Is there anybody today that you’d really enjoy crossing paths with?

Because of Bloodsong, Quorthon, founder of Bathory, the Swedish rock group that invented Viking Metal dedicated a song on Hammerheart to me, “One Rode to Asa Bay.” I was and remain honored. “Asa Bay” turned out to be Bathory’s only music video, because Valhalla needed Quorthon and took him early. But his epic music and video are immortal. Check them out on the Internet, and forever, “Hail the Bathory Hordes!”

My writing also connected me with one of my favorite artists, Boris Vallejo. A trailblazer, he painted my strong warrior woman using a body builder as the model before it was fashionable for women to show muscles. He even called me while painting Bloodsong to get things right. The Boris cover for HEL X 3 shows Bloodsong and Guthrun, her daughter, fighting enemies together. The beauty of strength, that’s Boris.     

And Bloodsong also put me on a World SF Con panel with a childhood writer-hero, Poul Anderson. His Norse Fantasy work, especially The Broken Sword, Hrolf Kraki’s Saga, and to me his masterpiece, War of the Gods, are inspired. What a thrill it was to meet him. Thank you, Bloodsong!
I even managed to correspond with the writer who made me want to write “good science fiction,” Arthur C. Clarke, before he died. Raw Pain Max has characters that listen to the original satellite radio station with an all metal format, Z-ROCK. Since I knew Clarke was credited with “inventing” the concept of communication satellites, I sent a newspaper article to him about the first Satellite Music Network. He responded, saying he’d wondered when satellites would be exploited for entertainment purposes and thanked me for letting him know.

But the person I would still like to meet? Maybe the one I’d most like to meet, face to face, is not even a person. Of course I mean my Old Woman in Black. Or maybe I’ve already met her, by writing the “spooky stories” she inspired.

Do you have any advice for writers trying to break in or early in their career?

Write from the heart, and write because you want to write, not because you want to be seen as having written. And become a merciless self-editor. Elmore Leonard said if your writing sounds like writing, rewrite it. If that sounds mysterious, read some Leonard. He practiced what he preached. The way he handled dialogue and characterization is amazing. Also, if at some point your work is not condemned by a critic whose opinion you are supposed to respect, work harder.

Can you share with us what we might expect to see from you in the near future?

A new Bloodsong novel, Valkyries of Hel, eBooks of my other novels, and the continuing adventures of Dracula and Tzigane, but also, I can feel a new horror novel rustling closer in my subconscious. Maybe I’ll call it, The Rustling. Has that been used? It could start with a writer hearing rustling at his window like that which scared him when he was a kid, but this time he looks and sees his Old Friend in Black, to whom he says, “So! What’re we gonna write next?” And off we go. Always listen to your Muse.

Sounds great, Dean. Thanks for taking the time to participate in this interview!

Where you can find out more about C. Dean Andersson and his works:


HEL X 3 Amazon


amazon author’s page

Bloodsong’s facebook page

Dean Andersson facebook page

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Relic Tech is in Audiobook Production

That's right! Relic Tech will soon be available as an audiobook, and recording is already under way.

The talents of Voice-Over Artist Jim Conlan will bring Kra's story to life as a listening experience--and from what I've heard so far, it's going to be top-notch.

I'll post more about the anticipated release date and more as the information becomes available.


Friday, December 6, 2013

Maker of Angels

Sometimes a book trailer can be an effective way to relate the contents of a novel to a reader. Sometimes not.

Currently I'm reading Maker of Angels by Dean Sault--in between grading and editing and council and everything else. But reading is important to a writer. It's sort of like an engineer who designs cars saying he doesn't have time to take an automobile out on the road to just enjoy.

Anyway, here's an example of what I would say is a well-done book trailer. And for the record, what I've read of Maker of Angels thus far? Well worth my reading time.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Christmas in the Village (St. Paris) / Book Signing Event

I will be participating in the Christmas in the Village event in St. Paris, Ohio on Saturday December 7th, from Noon until 6:00 pm.

I will be one of possibly two authors at the event, but there will be 65 other vendors including crafts, sewing, jewelry and many other items available. We'll be in the Municipal Building on Main Street and in the Evans-Purk Building just behind the Municipal Building (next to the Lutheran Church).

If you're able to make it, I'd love to see you, talk a little about writing and my novels and assist you with any Christmas gifts you might be contemplating.

For more information, follow this link: Christmas in the Village (St. Paris)

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Dungeons and Dragons Humor

Even if you've never played D&D, I think you'll still find this a bit funny.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Ghosts and Wraiths: An Observation in Soul Forge's First Draft

Now that Relic Tech has been published, I am back to working on Soul Forge, the 3rd novel in my First Civilization's Legacy Series.

To get back on track, I re-read the first 115,000 words of Soul Forge's first draft, doing a little editing while re-familiarizing myself with the story. I estimate having about 12,000 words left to complete the novel.

One of my favorite set of lines I came across in the novel's first draft was:

My knowledge of wraiths was minimal. I’d heard it said their touch could decay flesh so that it shriveled and fell away from the bone, all the while freezing their target’s soul. Whether that was true or not, I didn’t know. But I recalled Old Lowell once saying: “People tell ghost stories to scare each other. Ghosts tell wraith stories to scare other ghosts.”

It doesn't have a perfect parallel structure, but then again, Old Lowell wasn't that sort of fellow, so the paragraph might remain largely the same.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Interview with Book Reviewer Scott Poe

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Scott. Could you tell us a little about yourself and what led you to become a book reviewer? 

Thanks for having me here, Terry. There isn’t a whole lot of interesting stuff about me. I’ve been married for 3 years and have a 2 year old daughter. I live in a suburb of Columbus, Ohio and work as the shipping supervisor for a small company that makes and distributes pet treats and toys. I read a ton as a kid and at some point in middle school just kind of lost interest. When my grandfather passed away my grandma told me to take any of his books that looked interesting. 

The first book of his I read was The Sum of All Fears by Tom Clancy. That drew me in to reading his entire series when I was in eighth grade. In high school a buddy of mine introduced me to DragonLance and I have been a huge fantasy geek ever since. 

My interest in doing book reviews started when my wife got me a Kindle for Christmas two years ago. I started a thread on Amazon inviting authors to pitch their books to me and I would pick the ones that got my attention and review them. A couple months into doing that I decided to start a blog and do author featured guest posts and interviews along with reviews in order to help spotlight some of the truly fantastic authors that I discovered. 

Sounds interesting enough to me, Scott. 

What would you list as the best or most enjoyable thing that comes with being a reviewer and what would you list as the worst or least enjoyable thing that comes with being a reviewer of books? 

The most enjoyable thing by far is meeting all the people and reading all the books. I’ve met people all over the world who are brought together by their love of books and found some amazing works. I’d have to say the least enjoyable part is the selfish people. There are a lot of people who ignore review policies and do what they can to circumvent the rules in order to try to get a little publicity. I’ve been very fortunate to not run into any of the truly horrible stories that some reviewers have experienced with unscrupulous authors. 

What type of book and/or pitch is most likely to result in a review on Indie Book Blog? Are there certain types of books that you just don’t enjoy and won’t read, based on genre, point of view or something else? 

I don’t review erotica, poetry, chick-lit, or romance. If you want the best chance of getting reviewed on my blog just fill out the form properly. I created the form to make things easy on the authors and very easy on me, but there are still a lot of people who don’t fill out the boxes properly. 

Also, don’t expect to get a review if you demand the review be done in a certain timeframe. It’s not that uncommon to see people saying they need the review done in two weeks’ time for some event they are doing, but honestly that’s just not realistic. I have a family, full time job, and a huge list of books to read so I’m not going to drop everything to hit an unreasonable deadline. 

I started the blog focusing on fantasy/scifi and I still enjoy those genres the most. I have learned that I really enjoy a good mystery, action, and thriller as well. Having a well-written blurb and an eye catching cover also increases the chance for a review from me. Even an entertaining blog will help out. If the link is provided in my form I will check out the authors blog/website to get a feel for writing style and personality to determine how much it fits with what I like to read. 

Do you have an audience in mind when you write a review? What three people would you say, “Now that’s AWESOME!” if they stopped by, read, and commented on one of your reviews? 

I don’t really keep anyone in mind when I write reviews. Hopefully the people who check my blog out regularly are people who enjoy reading and do it for the entertainment value. Three people that I would make my day to see a comment from…that is a pretty tough question to narrow down. Seeing a comment from Brandon Sanderson would be pretty amazing. Any of the DragonLance authors would be pretty cool as well. Kevin Hearne would be another author I would love to get a comment from. I’m listening to his Iron Druid Chronicles now and I am really enjoying them. 

Yes, Scott, the Iron Druid Chronicles are great books to both listen to and read. 

About how many requests a month do you get from authors and/or publishers to review a novel or series? How long has that left your ‘to be read’ list? 

It’s been a little less than two years since I started using my contact form for review requests and I’m over 900 submissions on that. That doesn’t include the direct contacts that I get from authors/publishers that I have already worked with, so I’d say on average I get about two requests a day. 

My TBR list is pretty intense, my Goodreads list has 423 books on it. Those aren’t all books from my blog though. I’ve started a system of getting a mobi file from people whose books sound interesting, but there is no guarantee that it will get reviewed (I try my best though). I like to have a variety available to me so I don’t have to read the same kind of book all the time. If I request a print book it’s almost a guarantee of a review, though I still won’t leave under a 3 star rating. 

Considering fantasy and science fiction novels, is there one you’ve enjoyed where the world created is one you think would be neat to live in (compared to others)? And is there a novel that sticks out where you’d say, “No way would I ever want to live there!” (compared to other novels)? 

I think one of the coolest worlds to live in would be Lentari from the Bakkian Chronicles by Jeffrey Poole.  Everyone who lives there has an innate magical talent and some of them are pretty awesome. The King is also a good ruler who genuinely cares about his subjects and the people have an alliance with dragons and griffins. 

I recently listened to the audiobook for Steelheart by Branden Sanderson and that is a world where it seems like it would be terribly unpleasant to live. 

For purposes of reviewing, as a reader, do you prefer ebooks or print books, or doesn’t it make a difference to you? 

Even though getting a Kindle is what got me interested in the indie book scene and got me started doing reviews, I still really enjoy print books. I tend to go through phases where I will read primarily one or the other when I’m doing my reviews and when traveling a lot or reading at small stretches nothing beats my Kindle for convenience. 

What do you hope visitors to your blog come away with? 

Ideally people who visit my blog will find a new and interesting book that they wouldn’t have found through the normal channels. Depending on what’s going on they may be able to leave with a free book or some other kind of swag as well. 

Sounds good, Scott. 

As we’re closing in on the end of this interview, is there anything else you’d like to add or say to the readers? 

Thanks for having me on your blog, Terry.  Hopefully this interview can provide some solid info for your readers. 

You’re welcome, Scott. I definitely think it will provide solid info for readers. 

For those interested, here’s the link where you can find The Indie Book Blog: 


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Seven Year-Old Explains Book Genres

I came across this video at Historical Romance Author, Sara M. Eden's blog.

I think it's pretty humorous. See what you think.

Here is a direct link if you have trouble reading it via my blog:
Link: A 7 Year Old Explains Book Genres

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Double Barrel Online Blast: Article (on Signing Events) and Review (of Genre Shotgun)

Today two important items appeared online:
1. A review of Genre Shotgun
2. An article of my posted

If you have a couple of moments, please click on over and see whichever one (or both) you might have an interest in--and don't hesitate to leave a comment.

Link: Review: Genre Shotgun: A Collection Of Short Fiction

Link: What to Bring to a Book Signing Event


Monday, November 18, 2013

Holiday Bazaar at Upper Valley Career Center

I will be talking about writing and signing copies of my novels in the LRC (Library) at Upper Valley Career Center from 2:45 pm until 5:00 pm on November 18th.

There will be several other authors (including Stephen Hines and William Weldy) as well as about a dozen crafts vendors, including the Domestic Devas.

The Upper Valley Career Center is located at:
8811 Career Drive
Piqua, Ohio  45356

There will even be free snacks...who can beat that? Hope to see you there!

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Relic Tech Makes the Top 100 in Military SF

Great news for Relic Tech. It's made the top 100 in Military SF on Amazon.

I'm very appreciative of all the readers who are willing to give my SF novel a try.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Interview at The Five Year Project

If you have a moment, click on over to Misha Gericke's blog, The Five Year Project where she interviewed me.

I talk some about reading (and some great authors), writing, and also about Relic Tech, including where the initial idea for my science fiction novel came from--it was the first novel I ever wrote.

Don't be shy and leave a comment if you feel so inspired.

Link: Interview with Terry W. Ervin II

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Research: Even the Little Things Add Up

If you have a moment, click on over to Notes from the Writing Chair and check out my article posted there.

Link: Research: Even the Little Things Add Up


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Loki vs. Thor, a Kid's View at Comedy Central

Thought you might get a minor laugh out of this. My daughter, who we tease that she likes Loki, including his horned helmet (and she wants one just like his), laughed at this pretty hard.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Over Half a Million Words of My Fiction in Print

With the publication of Relic Tech, I now have over 500,000 words of fiction in print.

Flank Hawk (129,000 words)
Blood Sword (128,000 words)
Genre Shotgun (65,000 words)
Relic Tech (184,000 words)

Total = 506,000 words

Each of the thirteen stories collected in Genre Shogun had been previously published in various magazines, ezines and anthologies.

Besides Soul Forge (my work in progress, currently at 110,000 words) I have outlines in various stages of development (including initial chapters) for six more novels. So, before 2017, I hope to have over a million words in print...or that's the goal.

For that to happen, I need to write, of course. But I also need to write quality words so that publishers, like Gryphonwood Press, will be willing to invest in them and you, the reader, will be willing to read them.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Relic Tech is Released (Ebook Version)

My science fiction novel, Relic Tech has been released by Gryphonwood Press!

Here's what one reader had to say:

"The tech level premise is fascinating, but what really makes the novel special is the spirit of Krakista Keesay. Kra is a hero to root for—often underestimated, adept with brass knuckles, bayonet, shotgun, and all sorts of old style weaponry. He proves that, while technology matters, so do courage, intelligence, and daring."—Tony Daniel, Hugo-finalist, author of Metaplanetary and Guardian of Night

Here's where Relic Tech is currently available:

Link: Amazon Kindle (USA)
Link: Amazon Kindle (UK)

Link: Smashwords

More information and locations will follow as it becomes available.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Ender's Game: From Novella to Novel to Feature Length Film

My wife is a big Orson Scott Card fan. I've read and enjoyed some of his works, but not to the extent my wife has.

My first Orson Scott Card experience was with an audio cassette of Ender's Game, the novella-length version. I really enjoyed it. A few years later I read the novel and enjoyed it too. My wife and I will probably go see the film while it's still in theaters. But I do have a little apprehension.

From the trailer, it just doesn't seem to be the book I remember, the book I envisioned as I read it. Maybe it was the time (the late 1980s/early 1990s), but I envisioned Ender not seeing the ships for what they were, and more like a video game. That probably wouldn't work for today's audience, thus the special effects ships.

The novel also spent a good portion of time focusing on the games and tactics developed by Ender in the zero gravity arena, competing against other youth teams. The stress he was placed under and the bond that developed between those on his team, I hope that's retained in a significant way in the movie, or I suspect I'll be disappointed.

It's not that the movie couldn't be good if it varied greatly, but it annoys me when a book and movie share the same title, but that's about it. Sort of like Starship Troopers. I liked both the novel and the movie, but they didn't have a lot in common--other than the name.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Rain for Halloween: Less Fun For the Kids

As one can see from the shot of the weather radar, tonight is going to be filled with rain and some 20-30 mph winds.

The rain is slowly moving to the north east
Again, this year my younger daughter will have to cover her costume. I remember what a bummer that was the couple times it happened to me as a kid.

This year requiring a rain coat (She's dressing up as The Black Widow from the Avengers). Last year it was damp, drizzly and bitterly cold (She even borrowed my outer jacket I'd brought along). At least this year the temperature be in the mid 50s.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Narn vs. Shadows: An Analogy of Humanity vs. the Crax, in Relic Tech

I am nearing the end of proofing the galley of Relic Tech for my publisher (Gryphonwood Press). As I re-read a portion of the novel where the Crax have invaded human territory and mankind is scrambling to marshal the ships and an effective defense against the more technologically advanced Crax (and their allies), this scene from Babylon 5 came to mind.

Does humanity fare better? Find out when my debut novel in the SF genre is released in November.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Interview with Audiobook Narrator Jeffrey Kafer

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Jeffrey. Please, tell us a little about yourself, your interests, and how you became interested in narrating novels.

I'm an audiobook narrator and general voice over guy living in Seattle with my wife, two kids and two dogs. I first got interested in audiobooks when I was doing the 9 to 5 thing. I would listen to audiobooks voraciously on my commute to Microsoft. You can imagine how many audiobooks I burned through during my ten years of commuting. So, while I was still employed, I did a couple of free books for distribution on Podiobooks.com. Then I got laid off and decided to turn that passion into my main gig. Luckily, Jeremy Robinson hired me to do Kronos as a podiobook and then Beneath. When his other titles, Pulse and Instinct were picked up for production by Audible, he very kindly requested that I narrate them. That was my proverbial foot in the door.

What skills did you have when you began your career as a narrator/voice over guy? What skills have you picked up along the way?

Any good audiobook narrator (or voice over artist in general) needs the ability to act. I grew up in theater starting at the age of 13. And while I still certainly have lots of things to learn, I started my narrator career with a good base of knowledge and instinct. Since I began, I've been learning to take what I know about stage acting and use the skills in a related, but different discipline. For example, where a stage actor needs to play to the whole house, audiobook narration is a much more intimate venue, with a one-to-one relationship between the narrator and the individual listener.

What three individuals would you love to discover have listened to and enjoyed your work—would make you say, “Now that is totally awesome!”

Stephen King, Dan Brown and William Shakespeare. The first two because maybe they'd convince their publisher to let me narrate their next books. The last guy because he died a few hundred years ago and it would prove the existence if time travel.

Didn’t expect time travel in the answer J

What things influence your decision to take on a project and narrate a novel, and what are some things that cause you or to pass on potential projects?

This is where I'm supposed to get artsy fartsy and say something like: "I like to do books with a rich narrative and complex characters that let me stretch as an actor." But in all reality, I'll narrate pretty much anything that comes with a paycheck. I know, I know. Some of your readers just threw up in their mouths a little, but let's be honest: this is a job. I have a wife and two kids who need food and pedicures and an eventual vacation to Hawaii. So while I certainly enjoy books that are fun and let me do actor-y things, I'm not a snob. I do my best to make sure even the most pedestrian of books come out as best they can. After all, I narrated books by David Wood, right?

Hahhahaha. David Wood visits this blog on occasion, but I suspect you know that ;)

Many novels have a variety of characters. How do you determine the voice of each character, including tone dialect variations, mannerisms, cadence, among other things to use when portraying them?
A lot of the time, the author is clear in their description. The other times, it's up to me to come up with something based on how the character feels as I'm doing the initial pre-read. That's when I get to be all actor-y. Really the key is to differentiate the main characters. There's no reason to do a full-on characterization for a character who shows up briefly, a waiter, for example. Those are throwaway characters and we don't focus on them as much. The main and recurring characters are the distinct ones that we focus most on and usually it just comes to us in the reading. What's really fun is when I interpret the character differently than the author intended. I suppose that's the subjective nature of art.

Are there any words or word combinations/phrases that, for some reason, your tongue always stumbles over and you sort of dread seeing in a novel you’re about to narrate?

Yep. "Community" is a tough word, believe it or not. "Clasped hands" is the bane of my existence. Can we just say they shook hands? Is there really that much "clasping" going on? I'm also look at you, "Grasps". On Facebook, I often have an audiobook "Could Not Say" status update in which I post words or phrases that trip me up that day. Like "Isthmus." Seriously? There is no reason for that word to exist.

Do you listen to audiobooks, for example, when driving? If so, has your experience as a narrator affected how you select, listen and enjoy them? Does anyone in your immediate family listen to any of the novels you've narrated? If so, has anything they said about them surprised you?

I don't have time to listen to any books. The last one I listened to was Ready Player One, narrated by Wil Wheaton and that was because we were on a family road trip. Aside from that, in my daily life, I don't have time to listen. As a matter of fact, I haven't even *read* a book for pleasure in several years. Whenever I have time to read, I'm always pre-reading the next book to narrate.

I don't think any of my family has listened to my books. I don't know of any family members that listen to audiobooks. As an unforgivable as that is, I don't want them to provide feedback, because family feedback is never honest or unbiased.

Better hope the local library doesn’t get word of your talent and recruit you for the children’s story hour J

What do you like to do to relax or blow off steam after a long day of recording?

I watch way more TV than anyone should ever admit in public. I was also a film student, so I love movies.

Especially over a long project, how do you keep consistent with character voices, including accents, inflections and pacing? Are there procedures or techniques you've developed?

There's a really simple trick: The first time I give a character a certain way of speaking (accent, nuance, whatever), I save a clip of his/her speech into a file called Bob_Jones.mp3 or whatever the character's name is. That way, I have a file to refer back to if the character hasn't been seen in a long time. But as I get more and more audiobooks under my belt, I'm finding I need to do this less. I guess I've just trained myself to make mental notes. But it's always good to have that character file tucked away, just in case.

Many people think their voice sounds far different recorded as opposed to how they hear it when they speak. When you record and save the clip, did it take time to develop the ear to match the voices and keep them consistent, or is it something that came naturally for you?

The biggest shocked question from people when they first begin is "OMG, is that how I sound?" And the answer is unequivocally, "Yep, sure is." But you get used to the sound of your own voice pretty quickly and learn how to use it as the tool that it is, not how you wish it would be.

As far as being consistent and matching, this comes from two things: 1) experience and 2) The context. A good author will make it so obvious how the character should sound that the clip is only necessary as a reminder. The rest is just the actor instincts of the narrator.

If an editor from a small press, or a self-published author heard some of your work and was interested in you narrating a novel, what would be the best route to take? Through ACX.com? Contact you directly? As already stated, if it comes with a paycheck, there’s a good chance you’d be interested. What would get you to say, “Yes”? A sales threshold (if you were to consider royalty share), or a guaranteed fee? Or something else?

If someone is ready to get started and would like to hire me, ACX is the best way to go. Just head over to my profile (Jeffrey Kafer ACX Profile) and make an offer. I recommend ACX not only for its ease of use, but because it has the most generous royalty going: 50% of the revenue. And it's run by Audible, so your book will be on Audible, Amazon and iTunes. They really are the only game in town.

As for my criteria, I'll narrate darn near anything if it's pay-for-production and meets my base rate. It must be completely done and edited. There is no "hey, I re-worked this chapter, can you do it over?" If there's sexuality in it, it must be consensual between the characters and they must be of legal age. It's sad that I have to say that, but I've gotten some books that.....

Royalty-share is a different story. I'm VERY careful about the titles I do on a royalty-share basis. The reason is that I hire a proofer, so out-the-door, I'm in the hole for a couple hundred bucks. I can't afford to take a huge risk. I'm more inclined to do a royalty share if 1) The book looks fun and not too difficult, 2) If you've got at least 1000+ sale per month (paid SALES, not free downloads), and 3) If you're a prolific author with lots of titles and are continually writing. I also take a look at amazon sales ranking and social media presence.

Seems reasonable.

As we’re closing in on the end of the interview, Jeffrey, is there anything you’d like to add or say to the readers here at Up Around the Corner?
A lot of authors find wading into the audiobook waters daunting. And it should not be tread lightly. There's significant cost and risk involved. But hopefully, I've been able to shed some light on it and clear the muddy waters a bit. I love talking audiobooks and the more the general public becomes aware of them as a viable medium for reading (and yes, it IS reading), then the better for all of us.

Where I can be found online:

Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions and I encourage readers/listeners to check out some of Jeffrey’s works. Top quality.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

John Wayne Quote

I posted this quote about three years ago:

“Life is hard; it's harder if you're stupid.” --John Wayne

This statement is:
a. A bit humorous
b. So true
c. From a far less politically correct time
d. All of the above

I have been and will always remain a John Wayne fan. I'd have to say my favorite John Wayne movie is Big Jake. My dad liked John Wayne movies too and Big Jake was his favorite as well.

As I write this I'm able to conjure in my mind a time many years ago when I was watching it with my dad.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

An Interview with Author Misha Gericke

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

Thanks for having me over, Terry. Well about me… I’ve grown up and still live in South Africa and like to do all sorts of random things when I’m not writing. At the moment, my main activities are fencing, singing, yoga, quilting and horse riding.

My writing interests are about as eclectic. Fantasy (any subgenre goes), sci fi, historicals, romances, mysteries, spy stories…

Quite a variety, indeed. I am guessing your reading selections are similar. Let’s put my prediction to the test: What was your favorite book as a child, what is your favorite novel, and what was the last novel you read?

You’re quite correct! Favorite book as a child was this old hard cover Robin Hood story that was in my grandmother’s house. Can’t remember the author or the title. But it’s one of the few books I’ve ever reread. Deeply regret that the book got lost when my grandmother moved in with us.

My favorite novel tends to be the one I’ve read most recently, although the one I finished last night was an exception.

Last novel I’ve read was The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillipa Gregory.

How do you choose books to read, and how do you balance time for reading and for writing…and for everything else?

I actually take weekends off from writing to read. As for picking books, I choose at random. In other words, I put the many books I still want to read and use a randomizer to pick the ones I’ll read next.

Sometimes, though, I just follow a whim.

You have a book soon to be released. Can you tell us a little about it, and how you came up with the idea for it?

Mmm you can check out the blurb below, but basically, my first novel is book one in a YA Epic Fantasy series. It’s different from other fantasies, though.

As for how I came up with the idea, the story’s a bit long. I’ll try to keep it short and sweet, though. One of my main characters walked into my head while I was re-reading Chronicles of Narnia.

I was actually not writing at the time, because of a book I wrote before that. It was bad for me to write it, so I’d burned the whole thing and stopped writing. The plan was to take a break for a year and clear my head. Darrion showed up in month four and convinced me to give the story a try by inviting his co-stars in as well.

The story itself came out of each character’s motivation. Each one wants something. And some of those desires are mutually exclusive.

Mutually exclusive suggests conflict. If you had to rate your writing, where would you put it along the spectrum of plot-driven vs. character driven?

Right down the center. My plot does come out of certain characters wanting certain things, but it’s one mean-ass plot.

If you could sit down to lunch with any three people, deceased or currently alive and language not being a barrier, who would you pick, where would you eat and what would you hope to discuss?

Mark Twain, Ambrose Bierce and Oscar Wilde. Location and food wouldn’t be so important, I expect, but it would be one rowdy evening.

Okay, so what might be discussed isn’t to be discussed ;)

What is one of the most difficult things you’ve had to overcome as a writer, and how did you manage to overcome it?

Oh that’s easy.  I needed to overcome my own perfectionism while drafting and rewriting. Before I wrote The Vanished Knight and its sequel, I used to edit my stuff to death before the story had a chance to become strong.

I ended up combating it by drafting by hand. If it’s in pen, I can’t erase something, so I have to work with what I have. In the end, what I would have edited out before, ends up being what makes the story great.

Great method to overcome a hitch in your writing process.

Sometimes authors write worlds that they’d love to dwell in, at least for  a while. Others, not so much. Is the world encompassing your upcoming novel one you’d want to live in? If so, why? If not, why not?

To be honest, the answer is yes and no. My world is pretty much as big as earth and Tardith the continent on which the series is set is a bit bigger than Europe. I would love to live in Nordaine, which is this walled off country in the north. Their whole culture revolves around an interesting mixture of honor, loyalty and being a bad-ass.

Maybe I’d live in Ladrien which is a small land-locked country in the middle of Tardith. They’re a scrappy, brave lot too, but my Nordian characters would just roll their eyes and call me a fool.

There are, however, places I know about in Tardith where I wouldn’t live for all the money in the world. You know… where dragons eat humans and that sort of thing.

A lot of people who visit my blog have never visited South Africa. Could you share a few neat things (places, culture, history, neighbors, opportunities, or whatever) about the city or region in which you live?

Mmm… Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, but we’re a pretty young country. The first colony was established in 1652. It was based around a castle by the sea. But over the years, the ocean seems to have receded and the Castle of Good Hope is now surrounded by buildings.

If you’re ever in Cape Town, I suggest you visit Table Mountain, Cape Point and the V&A Waterfront.

But please do drive out of the city. There are some spectacularly beautiful landscapes farther afield.

As we're approaching the end of the interview, is there anything you'd like to add or say to the readers here?

Just thank you for reading and that I hope that those who buy my book enjoys it. And thanks for hosting me, Terry.

You’re welcome, Misha. Thanks for taking the time to share with us.

Below is a blurb for Misha’s novel, brief bio, contact information and links.

Since the death of her parents, Callan Blair has been shunted from one foster family to another, her dangerous secret forcing the move each time. Her latest foster family quickly ships her off to an exclusive boarding school in the Cumbrian countryside. While her foster-brother James makes it his mission to get Callan expelled, a nearby ancient castle holds the secret doorway to another land...

When Callan is forced through the doorway, she finds herself in the magical continent of Tardith, where she’s shocked to learn her schoolmates Gawain and Darrion are respected soldiers in service to the king of Nordaine, one of Tardith's realms. More than that, the two are potential heirs to the Black Knight—Nordaine's crown prince.

But when the Black Knight fails to return from a mysterious trip, the realm teeters on the brink of war. Darrion and Gawain set out to find him, while Callan discovers there is more to her family history than she thought. The elves are claiming she is their princess.

Now with Darrion growing ever more antagonistic and her friendship with Gawain blossoming, Callan must decide whether to stay in Nordaine—where her secret grows ever more threatening—or go to the elves and uncover the truth about her family before war sets the realms afire.

M. Gerrick (AKA Misha Gericke) has basically created stories since before she could write. Many of those stories grew up with her and can be seen in her current projects.

She lives close to Cape Town, with a view over False Bay and Table Mountain.

If you’d like to contact her, feel free to mail her at warofsixcrowns(AT)gmail(DOT)com, Circle her on Google Plus or follow her on Twitter (@MGerrick1). If you'd like to see her writer-side (beware, it's pretty insane), please feel free to check out her blog.

Links: Amazon     Amazon UK     Barnes & Noble