Friday, April 27, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Dave Becker

   Dave Becker is an author and artist living in Pennsylvania, trying desperately to avoid all plagues, curses, and monsters. THE FAUSTIAN HOST is his first novel.

Favorite reads?
My reading tastes vary greatly. I jump from popular thrillers to science journals to children's books to theological/philosophical works to classics to historical nonfiction and then back again. I'm usually always reading something classic and something current.

Inspirations for the book?
THE FAUSTIAN HOST is a blend of dozens of ideas I've had over the past few years. The original catalyst was the approaching of 2012 and all the end-of-the-world craziness. I wanted to create a world that was falling apart and a group of kids that were strong enough to handle it.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
I knew I wanted to be an artist when I was little. As I grew older, I realized that writing was just another form of art. In college, I had a copywriting class that was taught by a local novelist. After reading some of my assignments, she approached me and suggested I become an author. That was the first time I seriously considered it.

What are your top Pet Peeves?
I hate a lot of things: bananas, dogs, shoes, infomercials, plastic packaging, all tobacco products, cats, turtlenecks, fingernails, vegetables, tractor trailers, Twitter, anything on my hands, unalphabetized collections of anything, Libya's flag, three-tined forks, urinal cakes, radioactive decay, and most people. I have a friend who started a Hate List for me after realizing I precede many comments with the words "I hate." Within one week, he had amassed six pages, two columns per page, front and back, very small writing. Maybe I need help.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Chocolate, but if you're throwing in peanut butter, I'll not turn it down.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done?
I ran for president on an anti-penguin platform. You can read all the insanity here:

Is there a soundtrack to the book?
I don't always listen to music while I write, but I really, really like Disturbed, and I could imagine their music fitting nicely with the scrolling credits of THE FAUSTIAN HOST movie.

Do you need anything to write?
My laptop and three hits of acid.

How long do you write on any average day?

My "real" profession is a freelance graphic designer and marketing consultant, so some days I don't write at all. I usually can't write for more than three hours at a stretch without a break.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
"Very strong writing and a fascinating concept that avoids all the usual contemporary paranormal tropes." That's a quote from an editor at a major publishing house (who ultimately felt that they just couldn't justify taking a risk on an unknown author).

Author Info:

   Plymouth Rock is bleeding. Day has turned to night. Hundred-pound hailstones level buildings. The small town of Clement seems cursed, and the residents know who's to blame: the new kid, Tony Marino.
After losing his family and his home, 14-year-old Tony is forced to move from Florida to Massachusetts to attend Kalos Academy, an unconventional school for gifted children. Strange things begin to happen the day he arrives, and soon stories of plagues, monsters, and mystical objects surround him. Refusing to believe superstitions, Tony struggles to explain the occurrences logically, until he comes face to face with a satanic cult determined to bring about the end of the world.

(Ends 5/12)
US Only

   One lucky winner will receive one of only ten existing promotional paperback copies of The Faustian Host!

Become a fan of Dave Becker's Facebook Page.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Interview & Giveaway: Chrisopher Geoffrey McPherson

A big welcome to author Christopher Geoffrey Mcpherson!

   I've spent a lot of my life writing -- daily newspapers, magazines, radio, a couple plays and a little television. "News on the Home Front" is my first novel. Since it came out, I have had another novel published -- "The Life Line" about a big earthquake that levels San Francisco.

Favorite reads?
I read an awful lot of biographies and histories and very little fiction. I guess real-life stories are so much more interesting to me than anything a writer can make up. As far as fiction goes, I'm a big fan of Ayn Rand's novels -- especially "Atlas Shrugged."

Inspirations for the book?
Aside from the fact that I have always had a soft spot for America between the wars (roughly 1918 through 1945) I have long been a fan of the "women's pictures" that Hollywood studios produced in the 1930s and 1940s -- like "Mildred Pierce" (with Joan Crawford), "Rebecca" (Joan Fontaine) and "The Great Lie" (Bette Davis). I thought it would be an interesting challenge to write a novel as if it had been one of those great melodramas.

Did you know you wanted to be an author when you were little?
I always knew I would be a writer, that's for sure. I was noodling around with words as far back as I can remember, creating animal stories and various adventures. I was very sick as a child so I had lots of time to myself to engage my imagination. It was probably one of the best things that could have ever happened to me.

Pet Peeves?
I try very hard to be tolerant of others and not judge them because they do something that I might find annoying. I always try to err on the side of assuming they are not annoying me on purpose. That said, I think my big pet peeve is when people act like they are proud of being uneducated. Knowledge is the most important commodity a person can have, and turning their backs on that is probably the biggest mistake people can make in their lives.

Chocolate or Peanut Butter?
Hard to chose, but I'm afraid chocolate wins. (I guess I just lost the peanut butter audience.)

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done?
It's hard to pick just one, but a few years ago a local college was having a screening of the great Hollywood classic "Sunset Boulevard" about an aging movie queen and the screenwriter who becomes her gigolo. The movie begins with the screenwriter being found dead, face down in a swimming pool. So, I made up this model of a backyard complete with swimming pool and water and put a Ken doll in it face down. I put it outside the box office and cordoned off the area with real police "crime scene" tape. I thought it was the coolest thing.

Is there a soundtrack to the book?
Love big band, swing and jazz. As my book takes place in the 1940s, it would have to have a big band soundtrack.

Do you need anything to write?
I prefer quiet. The writing and editing processes are very involved for me. My mind is constantly working out character traits and plot points. If I have quiet, then I can rock. (And chocolate helps.)

How long do you write on any average day?
It varies a lot. I don't believe in forcing myself to write: if it comes, it comes; if not, I walk away. I have had writing marathons where the story just keeps coming and I type until my fingers get cramped. Usually, it's a couple hours a day.

Give us the number one reason to read your book.
I joke that the best thing about my novel is that there are no vampires or zombies in it. (No offense.) Vampires and zombies are all well and good, but we live in a world of people -- not vampires (probably). My story is about two young women who have been friends all their lives. They are trying really hard to cope with all the hardships and tragedy that war brings and it tests their friendship. In fact, their friendship actually comes apart in my novel, but (spoiler alert!) they do came back together and their friendship is even stronger. Anyone who has had a best friend will understand what they go through. Of course, a lot more happens in the story -- a lot of twists and turns that the reader won't expect.

Set against a worldwide canvas that includes New York, Paris and Germany "News on the Home Front" tells the story of two women who have been friends since their childhood in West Lake, Maryland. The world war has torn apart their lives leaving each trying to find a way to put it back together. It's been a difficult few years with rationing and shortages starting to take their toll. Carole's boyfriend, Philip, is off to fly for the Army; and Irene has taken a job at the nearby aircraft factory. Carole promised Philip that she would wait for his return from the war -- but circumstances begin to conspire against her. She's waited her whole life for him, but can she make it until the end of the war?

(Ends 3/7)
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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Book Review: Moment of Kairos by N. J. Burns

   Because my review earlier this week was for April Fool's day--as hopefully you guessed?--I figured I owed you guys a review as soon as possible.
Cover Blurb:

Four worlds. Four ages. Four struggles through deserts, demons, criminal underworlds and overwhelming odds. Elian searches for answers to the mysterious blackouts, led forward by his only clue: an encoded diary. Ben stalks the streets at night in search of horrific creatures not of this world. Alexander hunts down criminals, always intent on doing the right thing whatever the cost. And Prometheus tries to save his village without dying in the process.
Separate but intertwined, they press on, linked somehow to the mysterious John, who watches and waits - for it seems each of the four is part of something much greater than they could ever have imagined.

   Since it danced through several worlds, there were four sets of characters to keep track of in total, and I found this a bit confusing at first. But soon I fell into the swing of things and found it kept me from getting tired of any one character. Most of the supporting characters blurred together, but the main characters were satisfactorily individual. And though sometimes dry, they were each unique to their circumstances.
Characters: 3.5 Stars
   I really enjoyed the dystopian thread of the plot and found myself sometimes skipping ahead to read those sections. It was unnatural and unnerving if slightly unrealistic. I also enjoyed Prometheus's point of view. Ben's and Alexander's tales were somewhat stereotypical and didn't snag my interest. But the thing that cinched it and kept me reading until the very end was the mysterious John's point of view. He tracked all the characters through their lives and seemed to know everything. The book ended in a cliff-hanger, and I expect things will really pick up in the sequel, Arcanus: The Hidden City.
Plot: 4 Stars
   I didn't enjoy the style so much. The wording was sometimes awkward and there was a lot of unnecessary explanation. Many sentences were in the passive voice when they could have been active. However, I did appreciate that, while information was withheld to keep interest in the story, it wasn't a disappointment when revealed. (Unfortunately I've been burned several times in this regard, and from a few of my favorite authors, too)
Style: 3 Stars

Rating: 3.5 Stars
Source: From Author From Review
Genre: Urban Fantasy/Dystopian/Adventure
YA Fiction

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Book Review: Kenmore Freezer

   This user and care guide is the perfect way to discover the most you can get out of your Kenmore freezer.
Cover Blurb:
This Owner's Guide provides specific operating instructions for your model. Use your freezer only as instructed in this guide. These instructions are not meant to cover every possible condition and situation that may occur. Common sense and caution must be practiced when installing, operating, and maintaining any appliance.

   I must say I was a little apprehensive when I first decided to start reading this manual, but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise.
   The Kenmore freezer featured strongly throughout as a  cold, but preserving character. Later on the plug, (Kenmore's best friend) lent strength to the freezer and was able to keep the manual moving.
Characters: 4.6 Stars
    I was a bit disappointed with the plot, though. There wasn't much in the way of action. But it was very heavy in the descriptive area, and I found it somewhat dull. However, I'm hoping the story will pick up more in the next installment: The Kenmore Dishwasher.
Plot: 2.9 Stars
    The style throughout this manual was very straightforward, sometimes to the point of bluntness. I mentioned the descriptions earlier, and I believe this direct approach was necessary in adding depth to the manual.
Style: 4.8 Stars

Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Downstairs
Genre: Umm . . Not sure on this one