A Mile Wide and an Inch Deep: Review of Michael Crichton’s Next

Next, by Michael Crichton.

Next, by Michael Crichton.

In Next, Michael Crichton delivers another fun, intellectually stimulating read as he explores the topic of today’s completely unregulated world of genetic science and genetic engineering. The story takes the reader from the wilds of Borneo to the NIH’s primate research campus to corporate labs and boardrooms, where careless researchers and financially-driven biotech CEOs play Russian roulette with the human genome and our collective future. Well researched, with a vaguely drawn line between what is and isn’t real, Next tantalizes as it terrifies us with the unimaginable consequences that can, and probably do, occur regularly, when reckless hubris, unbridled greed, out-of-step courts, absentee legislators and human frailties collide. The book’s depth, however, does not match its breadth. In his effort to keep the pace of the book galloping forward, Chrichton misses an opportunity to create more multidimensional characters and a far richer reader experience. Still, a fascinating and intriguing read.


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Take my short tour of the “Endless Dese

Take my short tour of the “Endless Desert of the Mind.” And let me know if you agree. At: http://wp.me/1z7F0

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Behold, The Endless Desert of the Mind!

Television in the desertWhen I was just a boy (really showing my age here) our television brought three channels into our home:  CBS, NBC and ABC. (I’m not going to comment on whether any of those shows were in color!)
Today, we literally have hundreds of channels to choose from. Cable television’s potential is enormous; the reality, however, is something else again.
Fire up your TV and what do you get? You can shop for tchotchkes from the comfort of your living room; watch fat people compete at growing thin; snicker as beautiful, shallow women throw themselves at equally handsome, equally shallow men. You can catch yet another History2 pseudo-history, pseudo-science exploration of  “ancient aliens,” or watch Harry Reid impersonate a mortician on C-SPAN. With 24 of Kippling’s “waking hours” to fill each day, what do cable news channels do? They run recasts, repeats and retreads of the same people reporting on the same stories, over and over again; then, on Sundays the talking heads take over to discuss modern political minutiae: who made a fool out of himself this week?; who’s not playing ball?; whose negative campaign ad deserves a raspberry? We may as well be listening to medieval pundits theorizing about how many angels they can squeeze onto the head of a pin!
With all the problems America faces: Runaway debt, depression-era unemployment levels, Wallstreet Banksters roaming free … and gambling away billions more on casino-banking bets; the first spooky signs of global warming; mounting poverty and inequality, the rise of the American police state, and much, much more — what won’t you find on television? Shockingly, you won’t find a single program, in a single time slot, that’s devoted to honestly, seriously and creatively examining — or even acknowledging — the real challenges we face as a nation. And you won’t find anyone bringing informed intelligent people together to brainstorm fresh, new solutions!
In this endless desert of the mind that we have created, no one is bathing in an oasis of fresh ideas. No one is doing the hard work, and the creative thinking, that could lead to progress. Instead, we are expected to trudge along through this oppressively hot, dry expanse as those responsible for creating Cable’s content line up to throw fistfuls of sand at us!
The problem is, we take it. No one complains about the enormous waste of intellectual resources. No one reaches for the phone to complain when network anchors continuously under report our real unemployment rate (now hovering at about 22 percent, rather than 8.2 percent), or when our policy leaders (Dems and Reps alike) keep dragging out the same old, debunked, thread-bare ideas of trickle-down riches (really?!) and “quantitative easing,” when what we really need are bold, dynamic “take no prisoners” ideas — like an enforced, maximum 32-hour work week that would instantly create new job openings for many in our idled workforce; or changes to our tax codes that would allow individuals to depreciate their intellectual capital (education investments) the way businesses currently depreciate job-killing investments in equipment; or a call to restore the Glass-Steagall Act, the Depression-era law that wisely excluded commercial banks from all the high-risk activities that caused economic ruin in 1929 — and our latest global economic crisis. Glass-Steagall kept Wall Street — and Main Street — safe for 60 years until the Banking Lobby convinced Congress and President Clinton to overturn it in 1994. Now, look where we are!
If we want television programmers to start focusing on creating shows that help solve our problems rather than mindlessly supporting our leaders’ efforts to hide the facts, we must to act. Pick up your phone and call CNN, MSNBC, FOX, ABC, CBS, etc., etc. and demand that they up their games.

Remember, that mirage we see glistening on the desert horizon is as bone-dry as the scorching hot sands under our feet. If we continue to live a lie and bury our heads in the sand, thinking our problems will somehow fix themselves, while we settle for cheap cable tv diversions, we will be in for a sobering surprise.

Get real … and make them get real, too. Then, happier days could be ahead.  Your thoughts?

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Today We Remember the Nameless, Faceless Dead

A View of the Hall of Remembrance

A view of the Yad Vashem Hall of Remembrance

After Israeli agents captured Adolf Eichmann, in 1960, and charged him with crimes against humanity for his role in implementing Hitler’s Final Solution, the unrepentant former Nazi head of Jewish deportations shared several revealing anecdotes with his captors concerning events from those dark days.

One story eventually found its way into CIA files, only to resurface, after declassification, in a 2009 National Archives report about Nazi War Criminals, U.S. intelligence agencies and the Cold War. The story has special significance for all of us who pause today, on Yom Hashoah, to remember victims of The Holocaust. It also further refutes the efforts of the stubborn, hateful few, who despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, continue to insist that The Holocaust never happened.

Eichmann told his captors that while he was in Budapest “sometime” in the fall of 1944, Heinrich Himmler, head of the Gestapo, ordered him to prepare a report about the exact number of Jews the Nazis had killed since taking power in 1933. Because he did not run the death camps or command the death squads in the field, a point Eichmann, no doubt, wished to impress upon his interrogators, he said he had to rely on estimates previously reported by concentration camp commandants and death-squad unit heads in order to prepare a proper report.

The number of murdered Jews Eichmann eventually reported to Himmler was six million. Of these, he said, two-thirds (or 4 million) had died in the camps while the remaining 2 million perished during special killing actions conducted near their homes in Poland and Russia.

Eichmann submitted his report and waited. Eventually, Himmler’s assistant, Hoettl, informed him that his boss was dissatisfied, claiming that the numbers had to be higher. Himmler then ordered Eichmann to forward a copy of the report to the head of his statistical office (apparently, so that he could review and revise it.)

Himmler, who had been closely involved in implementing the Final Solution, believed Eichmann had grossly underestimated the efficiency of the Nazi killing machine. Six million murdered Jews? The number, he insisted, was not even close.

The six-million dead included one million Jewish children, two million Jewish women and three million Jewish men, two-thirds of the estimated nine million Jews living in Europe prior to the war. They represented civilian deaths — unarmed people who the Nazis had singled out for slaughter, slavery and endless brutality strictly because of their familial and religious heritage.

The estimated number of dead may not have been sufficient to satisfy Himmler’s blood lust, but 6 million already is so large an amount that it is truly hard to fathom. How do we put it into perspective? If it took just three seconds to repeat each victim’s name aloud, a single person, reading the names of the dead non-stop, 24 hours a day, seven days a week in a memorial service would need 208 and a third days — or nearly seven sleepless months — in which to complete the task. Of course, no single person’s voice or body could for long withstand the strain such a task would impose, so hundreds, perhaps thousands of individuals would, in actuality, be required to work, in tandem, to complete the vigil.

With each passing generation, The Holocaust’s profound loss of life compounds itself through the conspicuous absence of millions of victim descendants. The six-million Jews who perished under the Nazis represent unspeakable tragedy and pain, horrifying in its scope and impossible, even for the living, to comprehend fully.

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“Fresh Flesh” Author, Todd Russell, Gets to the Meat of Fantasy/Horror. (Please Pass the Giblets!)

If ‘Revenge’ is a dish best served up cold, then the recipe for great horror  is to make sure you deliver up your entrees when they are still alive! That’s what Todd Russell does in Fresh Flesh, his novel about a beautiful, shipwrecked woman who washes ashore on a mysterious desert island and is saved by a man who is not what he seems.” It’s with great pleasure that I now welcome today’s author-interview subject: Todd Russell.

Todd Russell, author of the horror, psycho-thriller novel, Fresh Flesh.

Todd Russell, Horror Author

Todd, what got you started writing?
I don’t remember specifically what got me started, but I’ve been writing since a very young age. In the fourth grade when I helped the teacher create story starters. They were like writing prompts on steroids.

How would you define your genre, and what do you find most compelling and challenging about writing in it?
I’m a cross-genre writer. Horror is my base, but I also love stories that would fit in with the old Twilight Zone and Night Gallery shows. I’ve been told by some readers that I write psychological thrillers, so I’ve used that to describe some of my work. I enjoy reading and writing stories with characters readers can connect with, care about, root for and against. I also like a good dose of action, rather than stories that take too long to get to the good stuff.

It can be challenging at times working with a pesky first novel draft because I often have many concurrent story lines that intersect with a central theme. Sometimes the connections aren’t clear even to me until I’ve gone through several drafts. I suppose if I used outlines more often, I’d save myself some rewriting effort, but I love experiencing the organic evolution of a story.

Where does your inspiration come from? And what’s your writing process?
A lot of things in life inspire me. Anything that creates a strong emotion in me—positive or negative—could inspire a current, future or past story.

My workflow these days is I get up and write a short story. After that’s done, I’ll do some general housekeeping and then, if there’s time, move onto my novel work-in-progress until lunch time. If I can get in 1,000 or more words, great, but I don’t have a specific word count goal. After that, I will often shift gears and do rewriting and polishing of future works, write blog posts, hit the various online groups and boards. If I feel like I’m not getting anywhere productive, I will go read. I try to spend almost as much time reading as writing new material every day.

Cover image for Fresh Flesh

Fresh Flesh Cover.

In August 2011 I started writing a short story every day (minimum 250 words). As of this writing I’ve written 101 stories over 100 consecutive days. In November, I wrote over 50,000 words in the first draft of my second Fresh series book. Although I won’t know how much of that first draft is good until after it’s done, settled awhile, and I come back to it, November was a productive month. It would be awesome if I could get into that sort of rhythm at least six months out of each year, but my 2012 goal is to have at least three months like that.

When did you know you were going to be a writer? Was there a specific incident or triggering incident? And if so, what was it?
See #1.

Balzac had a simple method for staying focused and churning out copy: He chained himself to his desk and consumed endless cups of coffee? What’s your technique?
I drink tea. I use the same teabag for each full workday and refill as needed.

How long does it normally take you to write a book? Tell us about your books in print and any current projects. What are they about and where did the inspiration come from?
I log the times and dates for the first drafts of my novels. The first draft of Fresh Flesh took about three months which has been about the average for all my novels to date. Then, throw in a month of settle time and a month or two of rewrites and back and forth with the editor. I’d say the whole process takes around six months of actual time. I could probably squeeze that into four months in a pinch. Someday it would be cool to try and complete a novel in 30 days. Write the first draft in a week, let it settle for a few days and start rewriting, get it to an editor week #3 and back to polish week #4 and have it proofed, formatted and published before the end of the month. It sounds like a crazy, fun challenge.

My first book is Mental Shrillness, a collection of ten short stories. Nine of the ten are flash fiction and the last “The Illusion” is 7,200+ words. The stories all deal with some type of mental condition and come with author’s notes. They were written and posted to writing contests at keyword: novel at AOL in the mid to late 1990s.

My second book is a psychological thriller, horror novel entitled Fresh Flesh about a woman who shipwrecks on a mysterious island with a man who is not what he seems. It is the first book in the Fresh series. I have titles for several more books in the series and have the first draft of Fresh #2 about two thirds done.

Third came Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories, a young adult short story ebook-only release, which contains fourteen Halloween-oriented flash fiction stories all written and posted to online writing contests after August 2011 as part of an ongoing story streak. All of the stories in the collection were first-place winners. There is a code in the book that leads to two other stories on my website also written during the same era.

What is the biggest challenge you faced, in writing Fresh Flesh?
I don’t remember any challenge writing the first draft. During rewriting some scenes needed more detailed research, but I enjoy that part of writing.

Do you have a favorite passage from your book? If so, would you share it with us here and tell us what is it about it that has such special significance for you?
I have several favorite passages. Rather than trying to pick a single one, let me encourage readers to follow me on Kindle.Amazon.com. I highlight and make notes on all my books there.

What writers have influenced you the most in your writing career and in developing your writing style? What, specifically was it about them that captured your attention and imagination?
Poe, Lovecraft, King, Robert McCammon, Bradbury, Serling and a bunch of other writers. Serling, who is best known for his Twilight Zone work was a master of the character portrait. He was able to draw poignant character using few words. Ray Bradbury’s description powers are matched by only a small few. King? What can’t King do? Robert McCammon instills hope in even his darkest fiction, which is a delightful ingredient for any writer. Lovecraft? He made you fear the things you couldn’t see. I dig that kind of horror. The kind that lurks around the corner, under the bed, inside the wall, closet and darkness outside. Poe would take you on a guided tour of horrors, often with breathless! dialogue! skills! I will never tire of reading great stories like The Tell-Tale Heart.

Why did you choose to take the Indie route in publishing your books? How satisfying has it been so far? And what lessons have you learned about indie publishing that you’d like to share with others?
I don’t feel like I’ve chosen one path over another. Assuming the deal is right, I’m open to all forms of publishing, including republishing my existing work with a small press or traditional publisher someday. I still have a literary agent and interested in traditional publishing alongside other forms of publishing, so I will continue to pursue that option with some future novels.

I’m still learning about indie publishing. It has been very satisfying learning process. If I could go back and start over in March 2011, I’d spend more time working on new material. I wasted several months figuring out technical publishing stuff when I should have been writing new material. I’m fortunate to have a few already written novels I can put out and I would like to stay a couple novels ahead. This way I’m always working on a new first draft, have another book being rewritten and another that is ready to be released and making the rounds with advanced review copies. Since August I’ve been more focused on writing new material and feel like this will benefit me in 2012 and beyond. The hopper is being filled 🙂

What book-marketing efforts have you found to be most effective?
I agree with those saying the single best marketing you can do is write the next book. With each new book, I’m seeing an overall improvement. So work on getting more good books out there. That’s my #1 marketing plan: write and publish more good books.

One of the best things I’ve done so far has been a local, in-person book signing. I paid $10 for a booth at a bazaar and sold autographed books for two days to complete strangers passing through. I had a screensaver on my laptop setup with my book covers and answered questions about the books. I gave away these cool mini-bookmarks with Fresh Flesh to those who bought books in person. I’m going to do a limited run of those bookmarks with each new novel in paperback. I am looking for other opportunities to get out there and press the flesh, pardon the pun.

I have tried and enjoyed a book tour (lots of work, good exposure), Twitter (better results if you follow people interested in your genre). I’ve had some success with targeted messageboards and related genre communities.

What valuable lessons have you learned about self-publishing that you’d care to share with other writers?
Make sure your books are edited and clean. Use multiple third parties to proofread your work after you’ve formatted because no single person can catch all the errors. Mercilessly weed out errors that will throw readers out of your story. Work hard to have the cleanest book possible. This way readers and reviewers will focus on the story, not on misspellings, grammar, punctuation and irritating formatting. If you find mistakes in the ebook version, by all means fix them ASAP, yes, even after it’s already published. This will prevent future readers from seeing them. Respect readers by giving them the most polished reading experience possible.

What is it that you want most readers to get out of reading your books? What do they tell you about their experience?
I’d like them to get embroiled in the story, feel the emotions of the characters and be surprised by the plot twists. At the end, I want the story to resonate in their minds and for them to look back and think, “That was fun, engaging and creative, let’s do it again.” And then seek out another book by me and recommend the book they just read to everybody they know as an entertaining read.

What’s the next major project you have coming down the pike?”
My next novel will be announced in December. It is a standalone novel. I have some more work to do on it before a publishing date can be determined. I’m curious to see what others think of the cover art and description. In April I’m considering trying my first Script Frenzy. I’ve been thinking about adapting one of my novels as a screenplay.

Thank you very much for the interview, Jon.

Thank you, Todd! Great interview.

Here are links to connect with Todd online and to purchase an ebook version of Fresh Flesh.

Amazon Kindle

Barnes & Noble Nook


Todd’s Website

Todd’s RSS Blog Feed

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Look Here for Fantasy/Horror Author Interview Tomorrow

December 2, 2011 — Fantasy/Horror readers, get ready for tomorrow’s interview with author Todd Russell. You’ll find it right here at http://www.writeatyou.wordpress.com

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Review: Gather ‘Round The Campfire for a Howling Good Time … of Horror, Fear & Fantasy

Review: Gather ‘Round The Campfire for a Howling Good Time … of Horror, Fear & Fantasy.

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Review: Gather ‘Round The Campfire for a Howling Good Time … of Horror, Fear & Fantasy

Flash O'Lantern: 13+ Stories
Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories by Todd Russell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you loved sitting around a campfire, as a kid, and spinning quick yarns to scare the ‘bejeezus’ out of your friends, then you’ll really enjoy Flash O’Lantern: 13+ Stories, a collection of flash fiction tales by horror writer/novelist Todd Russell.

Flash O’Lantern presents 13 Flash horror stories interspersed with Russell’s own thematically-related commentaries about memorable October events and trivia. The stories deliver quick, light, entertaining reads, and the commentaries provide plenty of great water-cooler conversational grist. Together they make Flash O’Lantern particularly good reading for people on the go. Here are my four favorite flash fiction offerings from the book:

Brush is the creepy story of a homeless guy who, let’s say, bites off more than he can chew, when he hijacks a kid’s Halloween goody bag. ( I think the National Dental Associationshould purchase reprint rights to this one and distribute them in dental offices nationwide.)


Graveyard Crazies offers a fun, yet spooky, take on working the mid-night (graveyard) shift in a supermarket. (Great atmospherics, and some well-done tension-relieving humor.)
Remdee Gate won me over immediately with the imaginative concept of the gate itself – an altogether new idea that I’ve never come across before in sci-fi/horror fantasy writing.
And finally, I found Rachel’s Number to be a quick, but haunting, story.

Todd is currently offering Flash O’Lanterns: 13+ Stories for FREE at Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/98723 . I’d quickly grab a copy before his mercenary tendencies take over!

Other Important Todd Russell Links:


Mental Shrillness – An earlier collection of Todd’s short stories


Fresh Flesh – Todd’s debut psychological thriller, horror novel



Connect with Todd Russell Online

Official Website








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Everything Old is New Again … For Memoirist Susan Ricci

“Fasten your seat belts – it’s going to be a bumpy night.” When Bette Davis uttered those now famous words as the movie character, Margo Channing, in the 1950 release, All About Eve, who knew she was anticipating the story line for Susan Ricci’s new memoir, Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems? But she was.

Ricci’s book, now under development, tells the story of the once again “happily married” author‘s initial reentry into the modern dating scene. Like many of us, Ricci experienced an unexpected mid-life reboot, only to immediately plunge back into the fray.  Her tongue-in-cheek, play-by-play account of her personal journey back from solitude to couplehood ranges from the hilarious, to the pathetic to the altogether unimaginable, as Ricci bumps along, crashing, burning, laughing and crying each unscripted step … on a ride that witnessed far more than a single dawn.

It is with great pleasure that I now introduce you to author Susan Ricci, our guest interviewee.

Susan Ricci

Susan Ricci, author of Dynosaurs and Cherry Stems

Sue, welcome to Write@You! Let’s start at the beginning: What got you started writing?

I began writing a newspaper called The Hill Weekly, a neighborhood gossip rag, which sold for a dime an issue, when I was ten. Never in my wildest dreams did I think the National Enquirer would steal my idea!

How would you define your genre, and what do you find most compelling and challenging about writing in it?

I guess you can say my current book is a nonfiction narrative, although a great author friend of mine told me she sees it as more of a memoir. So based on those opinions, Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems has limits. Sadly, it can’t be a series and there won’t be a sequel, but I accept that. And the challenges I’ve faced writing this piece lie not only in expressing myself, but getting to know my voice as the main character, and wording it the way I’m feeling. Does that make sense?

Absolutely! So, tell us, where does your inspiration come from? And what’s your writing process?

The inspirational challenge, for any writer, is hooking the reader, and keeping that reader compelled to finish reading your work. I’ve written for newspapers and been published in several magazines, and the high I experienced each time a nonfiction piece was printed was like no other, because the subject contents were real. I love writing fiction, too, because I also thrive on character development; it’s so neat to shape an unknown into a ‘person’ with a real identity, and give them a problem to solve.

When did you know you were going to be a writer? Was there a specific incident or triggering incident? And how did that knowledge make you feel?

I rewrote Hamlet in modern-day slang, for my high school senior term paper. My English teacher gave me an A+ for the year and told me never to stop writing; I may have taken a few breaks along the way, but I never quit.

Balzac had a simple method for staying focused and churning out copy: He chained himself to his desk and consumed endless cups of coffee. What’s your technique?

Self-imposed deadlines and goals help me stay grounded during my writing sessions. I’m kind of distractible, so I absolutely need a quiet place to compose, a hot cup of tea or Gatorade within reach, and food in my belly to get in my zone.

How long have you been working on Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems? What’s the story about, and where did the inspiration come from?

I’m the happiest of married women, but it hasn’t always been that way for me. I began Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems, a humorous, self-help narrative regarding mid-life relationships about a year ago as kind of a journal. I decided maybe some of my baby steps into dating and relationships might be helpful to others, who may not have the courage to reach out, so I’m working it. Like everything else, it’s all a matter of perspective: Make your baggage work for you, instead of souring your outlook on life. That’s it. And I was just dying to share these little vignettes, because life isn’t over until it’s over, you know?

What are the biggest challenges you faced, so far, in writing the book?

I’ve been writing in first person about people and events I’m passionate about for twenty years, but I’ve never written as myself, or how it feels to be me, in any certain situation. I find it’s easier to write a made-up character’s thoughts/feelings via third person, but very difficult to say what needs to be conveyed about me and the lessons I’ve learned guaranteeing my future. Fortunately, early on, I discovered I have a certain ‘sense of humor‘ to share with readers that provides a hardy topping of meringue to go along with the difficult task of resuming life when you’re down.

Do you have a favorite passage from your book? If so, would you share it with us here and tell us what is it about it that has such special significance for you?

Here’s an excerpt from Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems; nothing earth shattering, but the beginning of how I managed to see the silliness in life and embrace it, without taking myself too seriously…

All Aboard the Space Shuttle…

Chapter Three: Mr. Feet and The Lumberjack

Although the grocery store is stocked with produce, the bachelors wandering the market resembles zombies as they vacantly push their carriages, and my writer’s club and church are sparse of men near my age.
The truth is, I’m lonely. I don’t want much; a companion to maybe see a movie or go dancing with, no strings attached, easy peasy.
So, how does a girl go about getting one?
My girlfriend, Julie, recently married a man she’d met though a popular Internet dating site and suggested I give it a try.
“Oh, join one, it’ll be fun,” she’d said. “You just have to weed out the freaks to get to the decent guys, and don’t take things too seriously.”
Huh. Since my experience in the garden of relationship hadn’t proved fruitful thus far, I was dubious I possessed the correct weeding skills for such a venture.
“Nah,” I reply. “I don’t know much about these sites, and even if I did, I don’t think I’m up for approaching strangers on the Internet. Remember what happened with Charley Chooch?”
However, after another evening of reruns, the bolder side of my nature was unearthed in the form of Julie, armed with a bottle of Chardonnay, and promises that this venture would be entertaining, if nothing else.
That night, when we Googled Internet dating sites, we found some very interesting scenarios which generated really good belly laughs:
Internet dating sites were available for every race, color, and religious preference. There were Internet dating for singles with Herpes, HIV, STD’s, Gay affiliated preferences, Singles in every age category; Internet dating sites for Ménage Trois, swinger types, and last, but not least, several popular sites that appeared rather normal, much to my naivety.
With a belly full of Chardonnay and a tap on the enter button, I joined a seemingly benign, popular dating service. I viewed myself as the savvy woman who just had a makeover, instead of the middle aged hag duped by her second husband. My photos were uploaded, my interests and goals displayed in cyberspace for eligible men to drool over.
I’m also what my kids call a Slow Catch.
When I told them I’d decided to try online dating, they warned me I’d be associating myself with slobs, weirdoes, or scammers.
They weren’t wrong…

What writers have influenced you the most in your writing career and in developing your writing style? What, specifically was it about them that captured your attention and imagination?

I’m most respectful regarding any other authors’ voices and styles, since I love all kinds of books and genre’s, but I’d have to say I’ve been far more influenced by visiting my peers’ websites, doing and hosting interviews, and attending writer’s conferences, than by any of our literary giants—there’s so many out there, no?

How are you planning to publish your book? Are you going the traditional or indie route? What factors have influenced your decision? What have you learned about publishing in this day and age, that you’d like to share with others?

I plan on sending Dinosaurs and Cherry Stems to an editor soon after the holidays. I’m revising right now, but every time I think I’m finished with the story, something else crops up, begging to be included.

What other books do you currently have “in development?” Tell us about them.

I’m revising a contemporary fiction novel, Slick Trespass, which focuses on the similarities of physical sicknesses and mental illness, and how these two issues affect a married couple who’re totally committed to each other, that is, before the amputation and all that follows.
Two rough-draft manuscripts await me on the back burner as well, so I will have a lot to do going forward.

What do you like most about being a writer? What, in your opinion, are the perks?

Just for kicks, and because I can, I started writing another story yesterday, and I have no idea where it’s leading me…that, to me, is the biggest perk of being a writer: You never know where you may end up!

Is there anything I didn’t ask you about that you’d like to share?

No, just,  thanks, Jon, for hosting me today!

Thank you, Sue, and best luck with all your writing projects!

Want to learn more about Susan Ricci? Then, visit her at:


or follow her on Twitter at:


You can also leave her a comment below.


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Lost Souls, Byzantium and the Anti-Christ: Meet Author Athanasios Galanis

Athanasios Galanis

Athanasios Galanis, author of the Mad-Gods series.

If you believe there’s more to the world than meets the eye, and if you have a fondness for the occult, history, fantasy and horror, then the Mad-Gods series, by Athanasios Galanis, may be just what the doctor ordered. Athanasios is a Canadian born graphic designer/writer and perpetual student of life whose imagination occupies a multidimensional world that serves as a crossroads for ancient spirits and modern men. It’s a place where current and past events interact forming a living background for the ongoing struggle between the agents of good and evil, of prophecy, treachery, intrigue and divinity. I’m pleased to introduce you to the subject of today’s author interview: Athanasios Galanis.

1.       Athanasios, what got you started writing what I’m going to call historical/fantasy novels?

I haven’t written anything else.  So the singular would apply here and to be specific what I write is what I would read. The Predatory Ethics story that begins with Mad Gods is not intentionally cross genre but it is Occult/Thriller/Historical/Fantasy/Horror because those are the subjects that interest me.

2.       How would you define your genre, and what do you find most compelling and challenging about writing in it?

I define it as Occult/Thriller/Historical/Fantasy/Horror and the most compelling thing about writing it is seeing how the themes and subjects I explore really do affect my thinking in the same way as the separate subjects have affected me in the past. To me the best examples of those genres explain and illustrate life and reality as nothing else can. I try and do that with Predatory Ethics.  Hopefully it comes through.

Amazon link. Click to buy.

Amazon link. Click to buy.

My inspiration comes from everywhere.  Mostly from documentaries and books about religion, history, myths, psychology, and the subjects I stated earlier. My writing process is sitting down and writing out in a steno pad whatever comes into my head. It’s mostly stream of consciousness but I always have a rough outline to follow but not adhere to. That is my first draft that I end up typing into my computer as the second draft. Once that’s finished I print it out double-spaced and edit and revise what ends up being my third draft. I then update the computer version from the revised printed copy and that’s my process.

4.       When did you know you were going to be a writer? Was there a specific incident or triggering incident? And how did that knowledge make you feel?

I want to tell this story, I didn’t think about being a writer or not, the idea never entered my head.  I thought this was a really captivating idea. I want to transcend and make readers feel and think as I did, and still do when I read a great story.

5.       Balzac had a simple method for staying focused and churning out copy: He chained himself to his desk and consumed endless cups of coffee? What’s your technique?

No great technique, I “just do it,” with respect to Nike.  I’ve worked as a graphic artist for most of my adult life so I know that you’ve got to keep plugging and knowing that if you’re dedicated to something you keep doing it when you’re not inspired.  Inspiration makes the process easy, it’s doing it when it’s just not coming out and it feels like you’re fighting yourself that shows dedication to what you want to say.

6.       How long did it take you to write Mad-Gods? Is the book cycle (5 books) complete yet? If not, how many more volumes do you plan to write?

It took nearly 20 years from the first germs of the ideas inherent in the wider story arc. I don’t know if the book cycle is more or less than 5 books.

7.       What were the biggest challenges you faced in writing the Mad-Gods books?

The biggest challenges were and still are doing it in my spare time. I so hope and wish to be doing this as a full time endeavor that will keep me comfortable and happy.

8.       Since the books are set — at least in the beginning — in Constantinople/Istanbul — how did you research the area: it’s streets, there appearance, the traditions, history and language, etc.?

Some of it came from the myths and background stories I grew up with. My family was always talking about how we Greeks used to have a great empire called Byzantium and the golden capital of Kostadinoupoli.  Whatever I didn’t know I researched online. Thank the gods for Google.

9.       How much time, if any, did you actually spend there?


10.     Do you have a favorite passage from your book? If so, would you share it with us here and tell us what is it about it that has such special significance for you?

Yes. It’s short and encapsulates my day to day, hour to hour, minute to minute thoughts that I finally wrote down and still shake my head at how on the mark it was about me. “Endurance is overrated. I wish I were weaker and able to endure far less.”

11.     What writers have influenced you the most in your writing career and in developing your writing style? What, specifically was it about them that captured your attention and imagination?

I don’t know if they’ve influenced my style but they did influence my desire to affect people the way they did me.  The first was Michael Moorcock and his Eternal Champion series.  It showed me how expansive imagination could be with the wonder and fantasy that was on every page. The next was Mary Renault who showed me that our own world, whether it was history or our own time could be and was as full of wonder, fantasy, danger and transcendence as in any fiction.

12.     Why did you choose to take the Indie route in publishing your books? How satisfying has it been so far? And what lessons have you learned about indie publishing that you’d like to share with others?

I chose indie because there was no other avenue. I’ve gotten nothing but rejections from agents and publishers. It’s been critically satisfying but little else. The only lesson I’ve learned was learned a long time before my indie publishing, keep trying and do anything and everything to make your work reach paying readers.

13.     What book marketing efforts have you found to be most effective?

Do whatever crosses your path. Everything.  Plenty of time to be discriminating once you’ve gotten SOME recognition.

14.     What valuable lessons have you learned about self-publishing that you’d care to share with other writers?

Fake it till you make it.

15.     What is it that you want most readers to get out of reading your books? What do they tell you about their experience?

I would like readers to think about reality and what life is. Lofty goals I know but that’s not my specific intent, I just hope that the story will do that.

16.     What other books have you currently got “in development?”

I just finished Commitment, the second part of Predatory Ethics.  It’s being edited and I hope to have it up by Halloween. I’ve started In Who To Trust, the third part. I don’t know where that will lead me, but I’m excited to find out.

Thanks, Athanasios, for giving our readers a deeper insight into your books, your character and your thoughts!

Links to:

Website: www.mad-gods.com

Blog: www.mad-gods.com/blog

Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pu2O4StE8DQ

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