Guest Post from Jake Bible!

stone-cold-bastards-200x300x72There are endless blog posts and workshops and seminars about character, plot development, voice, cutting passive voice, and all that authory stuff. There are entire websites devoted to spotlighting great covers and mocking the not so great ones. Authors jabber on about their muse and their depressing childhoods and how they had that moment in the shower where their entire novel came to them in a flash and they had to jump out all soaking wet to write it down.

But, you know what?

You don’t hear much about the titles of novels.

Yes, sometimes authors complain on social media about not being able to come up with a title. But the reality is, the title is just as important as everything else, yet it’s almost a throwaway item. An afterthought.

For me, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m all about the title.

The vast majority of the time, I’ve come up with the title before I even have a concept of the novel. I will admit that sometimes the title is the concept. Take Roak: Galactic Bounty Hunter, for example. Can you guess what that one is about? Or a new project I’ll be working on in a couple of months, Mech Corps? Not exactly brain surgery to figure that one out.

Now we come to Stone Cold Bastards.

This title slammed into my brain and I instantly made a note on my phone. I loved the name. Stone Cold Bastards. It brought to mind Lee Marvin and The Dirty Dozen. It conjured images of 1970’s WWII grindhouse action flicks. I knew someone in that book had to be chomping on a cigar. Oh, they had to be.

But, what was it about?

Again, it was right there in the title. Stone and cold.

Gargoyles.

Oh, hell, yes! Gargoyles!

I hadn’t done a gargoyle novel before. I mean, I hadn’t even read a gargoyle novel before, but, damn if I wasn’t going to write one!

So, I channelled all that Lee Marvin cool swagger and set to work creating a world where a ragtag team of misfit gargoyles have to protect the last of humanity from the demon-possessed hordes that have taken over the world. I created a n apocalyptic setting and wrote in a genre that I wasn’t all that familiar with. I brought those bastards to life.

And all because three words popped into my head one night.

Folks can have all their character analysis and plot development and other authory stuff they want. For me, it all begins with a smashing good title.

Stone Cold Bastards is now available from these retailers:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mgq4ua

About the Author:jake_bible-jpg

Jake Bible, Bram Stoker Award nominated-novelist, short story writer, independent screenwriter, podcaster, and inventor of the Drabble Novel, has entertained thousands with his horror, sci/fi, thriller, and adventure tales. He reaches audiences of all ages with his uncanny ability to write a wide range of characters and genres.

Jake is the author of the bestselling Z-Burbia series set in Asheville, NC, the bestselling Salvage Merc One, the Apex Trilogy (DEAD MECH, The Americans, Metal and Ash) and the Mega series for Severed Press, as well as the YA zombie novel, Little Dead Man, the Bram Stoker Award nominated Teen horror novel, Intentional Haunting, the ScareScapes series, and the Reign of Four series for Permuted Press.

Find Jake at jakebible.com. Join him on Twitter @jakebible and find him on Facebook.

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Anthony Francis – Guest Post!

jeremiah_willstone_and_tctm-200x300x72The Philosophy behind Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine

Jeremiah Willstone is a special novel for me, because the smallest of inspirations blossomed into a project that reflects my deepest values. I fell in love with steampunk at Dragon Con 2009, where I saw many amazing steampunk costumes, in particular a young woman with a steam-powered gatling gun. My training as a science fiction writer makes me pick at the loose threads of imagined worlds, so I started to wonder not just what technology could power that gun, but what social changes could have enabled a young woman to become a Victorian soldier.

I’ve been interested in women’s rights since I was a child. Most of the protagonists I write about – Dakota Frost, Cinnamon Frost, Serendipity the Centaur – are female. I once even described myself as “hyper-feminist” until I met some genuine radical feminists with far more militant views, and to whom I gladly donate the term for use in their cause. Still, without trying to crimp the style of men who enjoy being men, women who enjoy being women, and people of all stripes who enjoy their differences, I’ve always been committed to the proposition that everyone in our world should get a fair shake no matter their gender – and always appalled as I learned more and more about the history of oppression of women.

So I decided to make the liberation of women a central feature of the Jeremiah Willstone world. During my research I was surprised to find that the mother of Mary Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a women’s liberation pioneer over a century before modern women’s suffrage; I was also surprised to find that Queen Victoria was a renowned women’s rights opponent. I researched the whole Victorian era, becoming quite appalled at how married women could be forced to work by their husbands – who could then confiscate all those earnings and go drink them away. The Victorians made great progress over the course of their era, mind you, but I wanted to create a society where those problems were already solved.

Thus, in my world, Mary Wollstonecraft survived to pursue women’s rights. Her daughter, Mary Shelley, changed her name to Mark Willstone to make the case for full liberation. Her daughter in turn became the first in a line of female soldiers that eventually produced my protagonist, Jeremiah Willstone. I imagined a world every bit as liberated as ours – perhaps moreso – but with key differences. For example, rather than collapsing male and female pronouns into a generic “they”, the people of Jeremiah’s world always say out “men and women” or “gentlewomen and gentlemen” as a way of writing inclusion into their everyday language.

Writing this world from Jeremiah’s perspective was difficult. After all, I’m a “guy” – technically speaking, a hetero-leaning bisexual male presenting a cis-normative appearance – and no matter how much I try to learn and empathize, I don’t have the experiences that a woman has growing up in an often male-dominated world. So I did research from a variety of perspectives, trying to give voice to real arguments by feminist scholars into the story. I didn’t get everything right. I probably still didn’t, but when depicting the clash of cultures between Jeremiah’s world and our own, I inadvertently made Jeremiah act as the stand-in for her entire world, and made the women she met as a stand-in for our entire world.

But one person is not the whole world. Our world is filled with Queen Victorias and Mary Wollstonecrafts and a whole spectrum of people between. I listened carefully to all the comments of my friends and beta readers, some of whom had strong opinions, which led to long conversations. I shaved off some of Jeremiah’s prickly edges and added nuance, but it wasn’t enough. Finally, in conversation with my editor Debra Dixon, we had a brainflash: to flip many of the arguments that I wanted to make. Instead of having Jeremiah come off as a full-of-herself lecturing crusader, I instead expanded the world, creating new characters and new situations that challenged Jeremiah to respond with respect and nuance.

The world you and I share has made many advances in women’s rights, but it’s still a world where a young woman recently won a Nobel Prize for getting shot in the face for advocating the radical proposition that she should be allowed to go to school. Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine is a novel of derring-do and steam, action and adventure – but one in which issues of women’s rights are first and foremost, even as the novel recognizes and respects the broad spectrum of opinions of people on this fundamentally important topic. I hope your visit with Jeremiah makes you think about the history and progress of women’s rights – but those issues never get in the way of having the fun on her adventures. Enjoy!

Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine is now available at these retailers:

About the Author:author-pic-for-book-color-adjusted

By day Anthony Francis studies human and other minds to design intelligent machines and emotional robots; by night he writes fiction and draws comic books at the collision point of hard science and pure fantasy. He was inspired to study artificial intelligence by Douglas Hofstadter, to become a writer by Isaac Asimov, and to write urban fantasy by Laurell K. Hamilton and Richard P. Feynman. He got his Ph.D in AI and his brown belt in Taido from Georgia Tech; he currently supports his out-of-control reading and writing habits by working at the Search Engine That Starts With a G. Anthony lives in San Jose with his wife and cats but his heart will always belong in Atlanta.

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson

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In the conclusion to the Jenna Fox Chronicles, Locke is returning to Boston in order to make good on his favor. It’s a top secret mission that only Locke can accomplish. To succeed, he must get into the inner circle of a government official and his daughter – Raine. As Locke completes this task, he will meet new friends and enemies, learn new secrets, and fall deeper into the resistance.

This final book of the Jenna Fox Chronicles is well worth the wait. You finally get to see how and where everyone ends up. All of the questions (some stemming from the very first book) are finally answered. Of course, like any good series, it leaves you wishing it wouldn’t end and wanting more. Which is exactly what we look for, right? 😀 It definitely has the most action out of all three novels and it’s got a good bit of romance as well. It did take me a while to read because I was just not ready for it to end. Lol!

The one complaint I have is that there were so many other things I wanted to know about Jenna. Yes, the first book was entirely her, but I just don’t feel like she was around enough for the last bit.

How about you guys? If you read, comment and let me know what questions you had that didn’t get answered. Let’s chat! 🙂

The Fox Inheritance by Mary E. Pearson

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For 260 years, Locke and Kara have been trapped in total darkness. Alone, except for each other, with no one to hear their screams. Now they’ve finally been let out and put into new bodies. Treated as scientific discoveries rather than people, they find a way to escape. They’re searching for answers, and the only one who can help is Jenna. But have they been trapped for too long? Can they handle this new world without the people they knew and loved before? Has the darkness taken over?

I can’t believe I went seven years never knowing there was a second book in the Jenna Fox Chronicles! I didn’t even realize they were chronicles! But boy, am I glad they are! The Fox Inheritance answers a lot of questions about what really went on the night of Jenna, Kara, and Locke’s accident. It also gives the reader insight on what happened to Kara and Locke after. Mary E. Pearson creates an incredible world in The Fox Inheritance. Obviously it’s set (at least if not more than) 260 years into the future. There are new places to discover, robot servants and cab drivers, new ways of communication, and a ton of new (and surprising) characters. Super thrilled with this book in the series. There’s one more and that review will definitely be up next week!

In the meantime, take a look at the short story surrounding Allys’s operation called THE ROTTEN BEAST. Free to read here. 

Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant

Hey everyone! So this week I read Allegiant by Veronica Roth. It’s the third and final book in the Divergent Series. BIG BIG things happened and overall it was a great book. I’m going to attempt to write a spoiler free review, so here we go. 🙂

In Allegiant, Tris and the gang embark to the outside world after watching the video of Edith Prior at the end of Insurgent. They enter a place that is completely different from what they know and are used to. They soon meet with the people responsible for their lifestyles and, once there, find connections to the past as well as loved ones who were believed to be dead. As with the last book in every series, relationships are tested, betrayals are made, the amazing conflict we’ve been waiting for since the first book happens, and – of course – people die. I can’t say too much about the plot without giving things away, but let me tell you….IT GETS GOOD. haha.

I have to say, my feelings are slightly conflicted. I wanted to leave a review as soon as I finished, but I felt that would be irresponsible considering I was slightly upset with the ending. **SPOILER: There are people who die and you absolutely do not see it coming. And honestly I did not realize how attached I was to these characters. Like I said, overall it’s a great book and I understand why the people (person) died and what the author’s intent was, but I feel like it could have been written better. END SPOILER**

If you have read the book and you would like to discuss it with me further, don’t be afraid to email me! That goes for any book I post about. I love talking about books I’ve read and I’ll happily discuss one with you! Just email me at nikiflowers@rocketmail.com and we’ll chat! Talk to you soon, loves!! ❤

DEAD (A LOT) by Howard Odentz

ImageHey guys! Sorry it’s been so long!! I’m six months pregnant and in my fourth semester of college, so things have been pretty busy lately. 🙂

Anyway, I just finished reading Howard Odentz’s debut novel from last summer – DEAD (A LOT) – and it was to die for (no pun intended!)

On a Friday night, twins, Tripp and Trina Light, are enjoying a night like any other Friday night. With their parents away for the weekend, Trina is canoodling with her boyfriend, and Tripp is just trying to find something to munch on. However, everything changes when, after going out to check on a problem with his car, Trina’s boyfriend transforms into a zombie….and he’s not the only one.

All around Tripp and Trina are zombies (or Poxers, as they end up calling them) and as far as they know, they’re the only survivors, that is, until they meet up with a girl from their school, Prianka, her autistic brother, Sanjay, a handicapped radio DJ, Jimmy, and a crow named Andrew.

Together, the team fights their way to get to Tripp and Trina’s parents, but the journey is far from easy. With Poxers trying to eat anything that moves, rogue survivors trying to protect themselves from EVERYTHING (living or dead), and an even more sinister force at work, it’ll be a wonder if Tripp and Trina survive the weekend.

 

I really loved this book. It’s a suspenseful, funny YA novel and even though they’re dealing with zombies (something I’ve never dealt with and *knock on wood* never will), their zombie issues parallel some “normal” issues that everyone deals with – death, relationships, mental/emotional/physical health, survival skills, and just plain crazy people.

I think Trina and Sanjay were my favorite characters. Trina was so kick-ass/won’t take anything from anyone and I love that attitude. She was totally independent and probably could have survived completely on her own. Sanjay is probably the smartest kid in the world. I wish I could just look at a page of text or an internet article and just remember every detail. I gotta say, I am pretty jealous of him.

Howard Odentz does an impeccable job writing about this world turned dead. Not only does he write a fantastic novel, but he enables you to connect with the characters and to care about them as if they’re good friends of yours. Plus, Tripp has some pretty great one-liners.

Overall, great book and I can’t wait to read more of Howard’s work. 😀