Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mark Everett Stone Shares Some Things to Do In Denver When You're Undead

Gladiator's Pen welcomes Mark Everett Stone to the Ludus. He's here for a chat and to celebrate the release of Things to Do in Denver When You're Undead. So refill your cuppa and enjoy our visit.

What do you think makes a good story?
I don’t believe it’s just one or two things. It’s a combination of all the elements…plot, pacing, dialogue, character development, efficient use of metaphors and similes, etc, etc.  It’s like cooking a great stew, if all the ingredients are there…wow, you’ve had a memorable meal. If one or two ingredients are off, no big deal, you still have a satisfying meal, but if you screw up or miss too many of the important ingredients, well…you have a mess.

Tell us about Things to Do in Denver When You’re Undead
It’s the story of Kal Hakala, a Finnish-American agent with the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation, an ultra-secret government organization that combats Supernatural creatures. The book delves into his past, his obsessions and his hatred, things that make him a great agent, but a very damaged human being. I like damaged people, they’re more…real to me somehow.

How did this story idea come to you?
I was lying in bed trying go to sleep when I began to think about a movie I’d just seen, Things to do in Denver when you’re dead, starring Andy Garcia. Now, I do like a good zombie book, so I idly added the ‘un’ to the ‘dead’ and, viola, the seed was planted. It was all gravy after that. I added the Finnish element to the story because I’m a Finnish-American, and decided on a dark, sarcastic tale.

Tell us about three things on your writing desk
1) The remote control to the tv. I find that the background noise of semi-quality television helps me write and provides inspiration when I need it. Not that I steal from what I’m listening to, even commercials can help jog the creative processes. Well, they do for me, but I’m a little twisted, so there you go.
2) A Christmas pic of my family. I know it sounds cheesy and contrived, but they’re my real inspiration. If I’m feeling down, or blocked, all I have to do is look at my wife and kids and wham! baby, I’m back.
3) My kindle. I read when I need to decompress. I wish I could read more, but I have a very busy life with 2 kids driving me to distraction.

Do you have a writing routine? Do you think it is important to have one?
Damn skippy I have a routine. I think it helps me maintain discipline when writing and discipline is very important for me or I’d never get anything written.

What made you choose writing for a career or did it choose you?
Writing snuck up on me, clubbed me over the head, hog-tied me and has never let me go. Hmmm…there’s an S&M joke in there somewhere.

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
Vote a straight Republican ticket. Then, after I finished the Bar, I’d shoot myself in shame.

Do you have anything new you’re working on? Can you tell us about it?
Sure, I love talking about myself, it’s my favorite subject! The sequel for Things to do in Denver when you’re undead is almost finished. It’s called What happens in Vegas, dies in Vegas. Vegas is more action-oriented than Denver because I have no need for a lot of plot exposition, I can just dive on in and have fun. That was the one thing I wanted when writing the sequel was to have as much fun as possible, really sink my teeth into creating an enjoyable book.

What is the one thing you want readers to get out of reading Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead?
Hey, if the book can make someone forget the outside world for a few hours, be entertaining and fun, then I’ve done my job. I don’t expect it to appeal to everyone, that’s foolish, but I hope there are people who put it down with a smile on their faces.

Where can we find you and your books?
Camel Press,, B&, Smashwords, etc. Hopefully it will catch on enough that it will go mainstream and hit stores across the U.S. I know that’s kind of out there, but a man can dream, right?

Thank you so much Mark for joining us. Looking forward to reading Things to Do in Denver When You're Undead. For more about Mark Everett Stone and his books check out his blog at Mark's Blog  

To purchase you can click one of the buttons below. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fellow Writers Blog Hop : Writer's Flashback

Fellow Writers Blog Hop   This month the Fellow Writer's Blog Hop topic is Writer's Flashback. To take a look at something written maybe several months to years ago and share how our writing has evolved since then. I know my writing has changed a great deal in some ways.

Here is a piece of a short story I had written for a contest about 7 years ago, called The Beast. The Beast is about two firefighters trapped in the middle of a forest fire. One is a full time paid firefighter, the other a volunteer. It's okay if you cringe... I did a bit when I reread the entire story. *shivers at the horrors in her writing* Okay it's not really that bad, but I'm sure like myself you shake your head a few times.

             The fire burned through the under brush. It moved as if it were alive. The two firefighters were cut off from the rest of their crew when the wind changed. Watching the orange glow pulse and breathe they tried to cut a trench around them.  The heat was intense and the air itself felt hot as it flowed in and out of their lungs.
            Jeff looked over at Gabby the young volunteer who was stuck out here with him. He was a career fireman with enough years experience to know their chances were slim to none. Still he watched her work furiously on the fire break.
            Gabby knew the flames could still jump any break they could cut. She had been on enough calls to know they were in serious trouble. The only thing she could do was remember her training. She went over and over the protocols in her head. If this was the end she would have peace of mind knowing she had done all she could to save them. 
            The break was finished a four foot wide, one foot deep trench.  The forest was filled with smoke and the roar of the orange beast coming for them. It wouldn’t be long. Sitting back to back Jeff reached into the yellow Nomax suit and pulled out the picture of his wife and daughter. “Do you have anyone at home?”
            Gabby fought back the fear as she realized he, the twenty year veteran, didn’t think they were going to get out. “Just my mom and my cat.” The smoke was getting thicker and the roar louder. Gabby thought the beast had eaten most of the forest and was still hungry. Or maybe trees and wildlife were not what it craved.
            A fire scene is noisy. Not because of the sirens, yelling, or engines running. The fire its self has a voice. It can whisper or scream.  Sucking the air around it to breathe the beast feeds on what ever gets in its path. Its pallet isn’t picky, metal, wood, glass, plastic, flesh, it’s all food. 
            The fire’s voice was all they could hear sitting in their little circle. It drowned out the shouting of the other firemen trying to find a way for a rescue. The popping of pinecones and crackle of burning tree trunks sounded like cackling laughter. The beast was joyous in its destruction.
            Gabby hugged her shovel and flapper the only weapons she had against her enemy. “What do you do when you’re not putting wet stuff on red stuff?”
            Jeff smiled but he could hear the edge of fright in her voice. “We have a houseboat on the river. We spend a couple of days fishing. The kids love to Jet Ski. What do you do in real life part-timer?”
            “I work in a flower shop but I spend a lot of time with my nose in a book. I love to read. That’s probably why I only have my mom and my cat.” They laughed not because it was funny. Laughing was the only way to dispel some of the fear with out screaming.
            Suddenly a tree fell across the break line. Without a thought or word they jumped to their feet and started to push the chard log back over the line. Gabby grabbed her flapper, a large square piece of rubber on a broom handle, and began to beat at the flames around the line.
            Jeff stood on the other side with a shovel throwing dirt to smother the little smoldering embers falling from the burning tree tops around them. The beast was giving birth to her children, making little clones of flame to join in its feast. It would come and gobble them up too and grow in size and strength. The beast was already huge. He looked back at Gabby as she slapped the flapper on the earth then rubbed kill the little beasts. For the moment they had won the battle.

*Whew... I survived how about you? How has my writing evolved since this literary masterpiece (kidding :)?  My grammar has improved is a big one. I don't use as many useless words such as very, really, and. I believe my ability to describe a scene, to pull my reader into the story has improved. At least I hope :)  

One thing that stands out for me is an issue I still have some problem with, tense switching. I drive myself and my dear Sis up a tree some days catching myself mixing past and present tense. ACK! Even though it still happens, I consider that part of my writing having grown also. Why? Because I recognize it now. I didn't to begin with. Sometimes knowing is half the battle. 

I know a year from now my writing will have evolved even more because of the knowledge I gain along the way. Every story we write we learn something. It's how we grow and become the next Stephen King or Nora Roberts. Every once in a while it's a good thing to take a look into our past. Pull out an old dusty story even if it's unfinished and see what we have learned since that point. 

Your turn! Go dig out something from your early writing days. Has your writing blossomed into something more beautiful than the ugly sapling you first planted? 

Be sure to read more great blogs sharing on this topic by clicking on the Fellow Writers Blog Hop badge at the top of this post :) Happy Scribbles! 


Monday, July 4, 2011

Character Chat with Christine and James from Anna James' Coming Home

Welcome to Christine and James! Very nice to have our first fictional character chat with you in the Ludus. Tell us a little bit about your book Coming Home by Anna James

Thank you for having us and for letting us share our story with your readers.

Coming Home is a story about family deception, family reunions and the kind of love that triumphs over all odds.

Christine, your heart belongs to James Buchanan. What made you fall in love with him?

James is kind and loving and sexy as hell and the way he makes me feel…. Oh!  I get all tingly inside.

What made you run away from him?

I thought that he was having an affair with my sister and that he was the father of her son.

What made you realize you still loved him enough to come home?

I’ve never stopped loving him! I only left because it hurt too much to stay. The reason I finally came back is because I learned some very interested things about my family that lead me to believe, hope really, that Andrea had lied to me about her relationship with James. I knew I had come home and do everything in my power to win James back.

Are you afraid or excited to see him again?

Both! I’m excited because I can’t wait to see him again; I’ve missed him so much. But at the same time I’m afraid. I don’t know what to expect. I know my leaving must have hurt him and I can only imagine what he thinks of me right now. I will have a tough road ahead of me.

James, when did you know Christine was the one for you?

I think I’ve always known somewhere deep inside. Even when Christine was younger there was always something about her. She’s a warm, loving person with a beautiful heart.

What is the most romantic thing you have ever done for Christine?

On our first date I packed a picnic basket and we went to Christine’s favorite place, a little meadow that is located where our families’ properties join together. We went for a long walk then sipped champagne and fed each other chocolate covered strawberries as the sun went down.   

How did you feel when Christine left? Do you still think about her?
I was devastated when Christine left. It felt like I lost a vital part of myself. And to this day I still have no idea why she did it. I’m really angry that our relationship meant so little to her, that I meant so little to her, that she could throw it all away like that.

Do I think about her? Every day! It’s hard not to when my family is so close to hers.

Did you ever think about going after her?

I did but Andrea, Christine’s sister, convinced me at it would be better not to.

Can one of you share a favorite moment or scene in your book with us?

Sure! This is how it all began…

The night security man greeted her warmly as Christine entered the building. She felt a pang of regret for not even acknowledging the man as she rushed past him on her way toward the row of elevators located at the far end of the lobby. She stabbed the call button and waited anxiously for the elevator to arrive. I need to speak to James now. I need him to reassure me that things Andrea said today are not true. James loves you, she told herself fiercely. Andrea is lying. She has to be.
All right, so things aren’t that great between us right now, she acknowledged ruefully. They haven’t been for a while. Not since that horrible argument between us after his trip to California. There’s so much tension when we’re together and James is so distant, downright cold at times. We haven’t made love in weeks, her mind tormented further. It doesn’t mean he’s in love with Andrea, she denied furiously.
The elevator arrived and she stepped in. As it moved upward her mind drifted back to the conversation she’d had with Andrea, her sister, earlier that day. `He loves me now. You had your chance but you were too focused on your career… James is a fabulous lover. He made passionate love to me when we were at that conference in California, hecouldn’t help himself,’ she had delighted in saying. ‘James is the father of my baby’.
No! Her mind screamed again in denial. Until you hear it straight from James you can’t believe anything she says. You know she would do anything to split us up.
The elevator car stopped and the doors opened on the top floor. Christine took a deep breath and stepped out. James’s office was just down the hall to the left.
She could hear muffled sounds coming from his office as she approached and paused just before she reached the door. Who was in there with him at this time of night? It was late; well after ten o’clock.
“Its okay, Andrea. Don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay,” he said.
Christine stepped into the open doorway and froze in horror. Andrea was in James’ arms, sobbing. He was holding her—so close—she acknowledged painfully as tears welled in her eyes.
“I am not going to let you go through this alone. I’ll be there for you every step of the way. You can count on me, Andrea. I promise.”
“What about Christine?” Andrea cried.
“I will deal with Christine,” James said with chilling finality, and then lifted Andrea’s head from where it rested on his chest and gave her a gentle kiss. “I promise, Andrea. I will be there for you. I won’t let you down.”
Christine gasped. James looked up. Their eyes collided and Christine knew the truth. She turned and ran as if all the demons of hell were chasing her.

Where can readers get Coming Home so we can find out how your story unfolds?

Coming Home is available from the following places:


Thank you both for sharing some of your heart-clenching story. Look for Coming Home by author Anna James and find out if Christine and James can get back the love they thought they lost. 

If you're an author and would like to be a guest in the Ludus for an Author Chat or have your Characters stop by for a visit please feel free to send me a message on Facebook, twitter or Email me at with GP Interview Request in the subject line