NEWS! Plus weekly tour wrap up

Hey everybody,

 

First up, I want to share some pretty awesome news. The guys over at ProseBeforeHohos.com have invited me to become a contributing editor at the site. That means my blog post will now be somewhat evenly divided between here and there. All the Prose Bros are cool guys and if you’re not familiar with the site, go give it a follow.

Now, on to Beasts of Burdin blog tour news. Here’s a recap of everywhere I’ve been this week.

 

I got to share my favorite PIs with Kayla over at Bibliophilia.

I shared my favorite authors with Laurie’s Paranormal Thoughts and Things.

Lola’s Reviews got a list of my favorite foods.

A list of favorite demon books, tv, and movies went to Musings of a Fantasy Writer’s Life.

And finally, over at the Stabby Pen, Jonathan Lister gave me the most professional interview ever. If you only click one link, click this one. I’m honored.

 

And lastly, I wrote an article for Prose about why writing is a complete waste of time, and that’s not a bad thing.

 

That’s it. Stay tuned for more next week. Monday I’ve got the most intriguing interview of the tour coming up…

Reading, writing, and stealing

I started writing, like, actually writing with the intent of finishing a novel, a little over two years ago. Yeah, I’m kind of a noob, but that’s okay ‘cause it works in my favor sometimes. You see, before I started writing, I didn’t read a whole lot. A topic I’ve already covered. Short story: The shit I had to read in school bored me and I didn’t know people wrote novels I wanted to read until much later.

Things changed when I started writing, though. I like to think of myself as having a bare minimum not-quite-stupid level of intelligence and the sponge residing in my cranial cavity told me something. Before you ask, it’s not an actual sponge. No, it’s more like a coral reef kind of thing. Either way, it’s alive and it talks to me.

So, the sponge said, “Hey, dumbass, if you’re going to write books, don’t you think you should read them too?”

To which I replied, “Why?”

“So you don’t sound on paper like the dumbass you are in real life, dumbass.”

The sponge is very fond of calling me dumbass. It’s like a cute pet name, only slightly less cute and less puke inducing. You know what I mean, Snookums?

The sponge had a valid point. How could I expect to string together words in a coherent way if I never actually read words strung together coherently? To satiate the sponge’s constant nagging as to my semi-illiteracy I started reading while I was also writing.

And now I come to my point. If I had read as much as I have now, I would never have finished my first book or any thereafter. Crippling paranoia of copying someone else’s work would have killed me deader than dead right on the spot. I find when reading it’s natural to compare to things you know, for reference sake, I guess. It’s set in space like Serenity or it’s about people trapped on an island like Gilligan, or it about bloodthirsty investment bankers that do blow off the wombs of maiden hyenas to retain their poster-boy good looks like Wolf on Wall Street. Disclaimer: I’ve never actually seen that last one, I’m just filling in blanks from what I saw in the trailer.

Comparing as a viewer is totally fine. It helps you define what you like. For example, Book F sounds a lot like book R. I really liked Book R so therefore I would also, probably, enjoy Book F. As a creator, comparing wreaks havoc on the fucking process. I start to write a scene and then I get all, “Man, that’s just like that one scene in Book F. Fuck my life.” *Slams delete key with all the anger of a thousand political talk show hosts*

The reason I bring this up is: I started reading a book, Devil You Know, it’s a good book that so far is very enjoyable. It’s about a witty, down-on-his-luck exorcist who has been retired for over a year and takes a job to help out a friend. My debut novel, Beasts of Burdin (Out February 10th, preorder today!) is about a witty, down-on-his-luck demon hunter who has been retired over a year and takes a job to help out his brother.
Sound similar? Yup.

Did I steal anything from Devil You Know? Nope. I hadn’t even heard of it when I started writing Burdin. But, I had heard of it then, instead of now, I can promise Burdin would have been a completely different book.

Now, I have a little more confidence in my creative abilities. I know that there are always going to be similar stories to what anyone writes; there are no new ideas, only new ways of telling them, and all that jazz. I also trust my integrity to never steal a person’s work or ideas. Sure, some things influence me. I see a powerful story and think, “Man, I want to write like that,” and possibly try to incorporate some elements of what I like into my style.

So in a short way, being ignorant of other books has helped my writing. Would I suggest an aspiring writer stop reading? Fuck no. Go read a book. Preferably mine. Not for literary content though. I’m still pretty bad at writing, obviously.

 

Writing & Raising Kids? Same Thing, Pretty Much

The other day I was thinking about all the ways parenting can go wrong. I’m not sure why that day in particular, just call it Parental Paranoia: PP for short. So I get hit with the PP, bad, and I start thinking about how hard it is to figure out what’s right to do with your kid’s upbringing, and shit. At this point the mush on one side of my brain overflowed into the mush on the other side and a theory struck me: There are many similarities between writing and raising a non-asshole child.

Think about it, when the idea first strikes you (I’m gonna make a new human/I’ve got a great idea for a story) you’re all about it. You can’t think of a single fucking thing that could go wrong because your idea is so perfect. So, obviously, you commit to the idea.

In the very beginning there is a lot of research and plotting. For example, you have to find out how to convince the stork to stop at your house on its next flyby. That can be a tough one, those ol’ birds are fickle bitches. Then you have all kinds of required reading: What to Expect While You’re Expecting, and, and…other stuff. Internet articles? Youtube videos? Actually, no, that is a terrible idea. STAY AWAY FROM YOUTUBE!

The writer has research to do too. Namely, how to make your novel not suck. That’s the hard one, I think. After that there’s Elements of Style and What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Best-Selling Novel. Okay, that last one’s probably not a real thing. Maybe it should be.

Now that you’ve got your research done and your story/hellspawn brewing you’re riding high. You’ve got this. How hard could it be? Millions of other people have done this very same thing and millions of other people aren’t like you, they’re morons. If a moron can write a book/make a human, you can too. And you’re well-read on the subject. You can tell me about Chekhov’s gun/proper placenta cooking methods.

Then comes the big day, the day the hellspawn bearing fowl drops off its package/the day you get, oh say, five thousand words in to your first draft. This is the first instance of PP for most people, and it usually requires a change of clothing on both fronts. All of the sudden, every. Single. Bit. Of research. Goes right out the fucking window. You officially know not one damn thing about infant raising/wordsmithing.

After days/months/years of PP (it depends on the length of the work/the difficulty of the hellspawn in question) you find a groove. You’ve read all the reading and taken tips from all those other “professional” parents/authors. All of the information has wormed its way in to your brain. At some point you will have the epiphany that every single word they said is BULLSHIT. It is true that some people raise really good children and some people write really good books, but what worked for them will almost certainly not work for you. The world just isn’t made like that. Especially the ‘no yell’ parenting people. Show me someone who says they haven’t flipped their lid on their kids because they were having a shit day and could only take hearing the same question repeated so many times and I’ll show you a liar, probably.

Back on task. You’ve been in your groove for a while and things are good. You’re children/characters are behaving mostly as they should and things seem to fall in to place. This is when things get dicey. Reviewers. You have put all of your palmflesh and vocal cords in to molding the perfect angel/work of art. Now you are forced to send it out to the world and see what other people think. Children get this in the form of teachers and authors get reviewers. There is nothing better than the feeling of being told your angel/art is really fun to be around, but it’s a very scary process either way.

The last part of the process is being finished. Finished? Yeah, it’s some more bullshit. You are never finished parenting/writing. You will always wish you could go back and change something you did in the beginning, but will have to settle with nudging what you have in the right direction and hoping for the best.

In closing, here is a thought on the matter from expert character-wrangler Danielle Shipley:

The similarities grow more starkly apparent when the characters are having toddler-like meltdowns. Character: Why do I have to suffer this plot?!

Author: Because I said so!

Character: YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MOM!

And then of course the author goes into the whole “I brought you into this world, I can take you right out again!” thing…

 

Well said, Ship, well said.

Interview with author Scott Zachary

Hey guys, today I get to drop in and share a cool interview I did with Scott Zachary about his new historical fiction, The Least of These. I know what you’re thinking, historical fiction? Really? Yeah, really. I’ve read it and there are no explosions, but it’s still a good read. I’ll add a quick review at the end of this post.

Q: All right Scott, tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is the real Scott Zachary?
A: Funny you should ask. I am not really Scott Zachary. My name is Ryan; I inherited the pseudonym from the previous Scott Zachary. The man I inherited the name from is not really Scott Zachary either. His name was Cummerbund. The real Scott Zachary has been retired 15 years and living like a king in Patagonia.
Before inheriting the pen name, I had been building Internet-thing for fun and profit for about fifteen years; currently I am just another cog in a great software-producing machine based out of Redmond, WA. You know the one. I have also dabbled in professional graphic design, acting, soldiering, the lay ministry, and a bunch of other odd gigs. I am interested in everything, and get distracted easily.

Q: What made you decide to pursue your writing?

A: I was an avid writer when I was younger, but frankly I was really, really bad. One day I realized that I was trying to write about things I had no business writing about: I had zero life experience. I was always a bit of a shut-in, reading while the other kids were out playing, and I decided to shelve my crummy stories and get out a bit. So I joined the Army. I was seventeen.
After that, and a bunch of other interesting adventures, I carved out a career, had a family, and I sort of forgot about my writing. Then a couple of years ago I read “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamott and remembered the passion I used to have for writing. So in September of 2012, I fired up szwrites.com and started posting shiny new stories. It has been a slow process, but I am chugging along and loving every minute of it.

Q: The Least of These and your short story collection Gossamer Wings are both self-published. Did you have a hard time choosing to go that route as opposed to traditional publishing?

A: Gossamer Wings was just an experiment to test the waters. I had compiled an eBook of some of the first shorts I wrote in 2012 for friends and family who wanted to read my stories, and then I thought, “Well, since I have already done the formatting, I might as well throw it up on the Kindle Store and play around with marketing and stuff.” It has been a great learning experience, and I have had to do a lot of course-correction, but people seem to like the stories. It was never about money, which is one reason I decided to donate all the royalties from that anthology to charity. I just enjoy hearing from people who like my stories; if I can help out a world-class literacy program in the process, bonus!
My decision to self-publish The Least of These was a lot harder. It is a serious story, and it is something I am really proud of. That’s hard for me to say—that I’m proud—because I’m Canadian, but I think it is the best thing I have written so far. I had two separate offers for publication, but I wasn’t comfortable with the terms of the contracts. I politely declined both of them and decided to release it myself.

Q: So what is this story about?

A: The Least of These is a 10,000-word novelette set in Ireland, during a period of extreme unrest and oppression in the early 18th century, and follows the story of an aging Catholic woman named Molly Gregor and her life-changing encounter with a band of Irish Travelers (often mistakenly referred to as “gypsies”). She is already an outcast in her town, for various sociopolitical reasons, and quickly finds herself in direct opposition with the xenophobic prejudices of her neighbors, which is a risky place to be. Fundamentally, this is a story about questioned faith, restored hope, and the true price of charity. I have been going through a long-drawn crisis of faith over the last several years myself, and I think a lot of that comes out in the story.

Q: I know there are two opposing viewpoints in the story. Do you find it hard to write believable characters opposite of the fence?

A: I was worried about writing Molly, since the story focuses entirely on her and really gets inside her head. I am not a woman, nor late-middle-aged, nor Catholic, so there was a lot of trepidation at first to get her voice right and make her believable. I am somewhat of a “method writer” though, and have a background in acting, so once I got into the character it came surprisingly naturally. Writing the antagonist, on the other hand, was tricky, because it was so easy just to make him a cardboard caricature. If I ever write a novelization of the story, I think I will want to spend some time telling his story and giving a little more context for why he is the way he is. For a novelette though, there’s really only enough space to get into one character’s head without randomizing things too much.

Q: If a gaggle of Cthulus (Yes, there are more than one. Don’t question me, I’ve met at least three, maybe four) ascended from the depths of the Earth and named you the most interesting human being on the planet and as holder of this title they required you to name one movie, two books, and three albums that signify humanity’s awesomeness, what are your choices?

A: Assuming the Elder Gods are staring at me, and I might be a wee bit nervous, and probably soiled myself, I’m just going to rattle off the first titles that come to mind.

Movie: The Princess Bride

Books: Good Omens and A Movable Feast

Albums: Hoodoo Man BluesRattle and Hum, Blue Train

Q: Okay, last one. In 12 syllables or less, tell the world why they should buy your book.

A: It is a promise of hope, in a hopeless world.

There you have it. Now you and Scott-Ryan are best friends, pretty much. As his new bff you should do him the honor of checking out his new book. You can purchase by clicking on his well-crafted cover art here:

TheLeastOfThese_Large

Or you can click here to add it to your Goodreads list.

 

If you’re still hanging around, here are my two cents about the story:

I’m usually the kind of guy who reads books with explosions and gun fights, but Scott has given me a reason to care about a little group of Irish travelers. Scott tells his story with crisp prose that isn’t overly wordy. He gets in, tells his story, and doesn’t drabble on with irrelevant details. This is a solid little story that I would happily recommend to any of my friends or family, even if historical fiction isn’t usually their thing.

Now stop reading about it and go actually read it. That’s an order. Or a very impolitely worded suggestion. Either really.

Welcome to Thursdays with Me

Finally done with the A to Z Challenge. It was fun, but now I’m ready to slide into a slightly less daily blog routine. As it sits right now I think it’s going to be every Thursday unless I  have big news to share. I’m a pretty boring guy and I don’t want to clog up everyone’s inbox with “Well, I didn’t do much today,” posts. I’m off of both of my day jobs on Thursday so Thursday it is.

I plan on keeping this blog updated with my progress on publishing my book Beasts of Burdin as well as writing the sequel, which is yet to be named. I’m thinking Under Burdined, but I don’t know how I feel about it. Any thoughts?

As of right now I have done all I can do with Beasts of Burdin. I sent the final draft to my publisher and I think I’m not due to start line edits for another couple months. This works well because as it sits right now I’m about 20% done with my first draft of the sequel. I hope to be close to the final draft of it before I start line edits, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. I actually don’t know what they say, but I have faith that you, my reader do.

Hopefully this past month of blogging has helped you to get to know me and my style a little better. If your new to my blog you should go back and check out some of my A to Z posts to see just what I’m about. If you just can’t get enough of the mostly random things I have to say you can check me out on Twitter. I post much less important things there much more often.

Now I’m writing this on Wednesday and I really need a day off. Tomorrow (today when you actually read this) I’m turning off my phone and only turning my computer on if the urge to write strikes me, it usually does. So please comment, but it might take me a day to get back to you.

You guys are amazing, keep doing what you do…

U is for Unveil #AtoZChallenge @JTaylorPub

ImageHey everybody, today is the day I’ve been waiting for for over a month now. U is for Unveil, as in J. Taylor Publishing is unveiling me as their newest author.

Here read this:

Alexander Nader Signs With J. Taylor Publishing In Three-Book Deal For His Beasts Of Burdin Comedic Urban Fantasy Series

Demon hunting at it’s best comes April 2014 in the form of Ty Burdin, self-righteous, anti-introspective character created by author Alexander Nader

Apex, NC – April 24, 2013 – For the moment, Alexander Nader will work his two jobs in the hopes that writing will one day be his only job. At the same time, he’s starting down the road to reaching his dreams with Beasts of Burdin, a comedic urban fantasy series set in east Tennessee. 

“Before we read Beasts of Burdin, we hadn’t encountered a character with such a wide ranging set of his own problems. Demons if you will. Ones that are all too common in today’s society,” says J. Taylor Publishing, adding, “except that his profession would never make the government census. With the attitude and constant sarcastic quips, we knew we had to publish the story.”

Beasts of Burdin is Alexander’s third complete novel. “While I was wrapping up my second novel, I had an idea about a demon hunter. The more I thought about the character and his problems, the more I wondered, what if demons were real because we made them real? Because our minds conjured them. And then, what would a demon hunter do?” 

Of course, in a world where demons can’t exist, at least not out in the open, that generally means someone is hunting them. In comes Ty Burdin.
 
“No matter the type of story, to include conflict, there must be an antagonist and a protagonist, of some sort,” says J. Taylor Publishing. “Main Character Ty Burdin is his own worst enemy—yet he’s also a man women will love and men will wish were their best friend. Not to be him, just to befriend.”
 
Demons and laughter aside, in Beasts of Burdin, Alexander showcases the power behind the human mind as well as the weakness. “I have always thought the human brain was capable of far more than we actually use it for. And sometimes, the brain and what the world says you should do just don’t mix,” says Alexander.
 
The connection of the two became the catalyst for Beasts of Burdin. 
 
Working on book two as well as other stories, Alexander is preparing for a world of writing, editing and particularly marketing as he reaches his first, but hopefully of many, publishing goals. 
 
“The idea of having fans who want to read what I have to say is something that makes me want to put my head down and finish six more novels this week,” says Alexander.
 
If they are as funny, concise and unique as Beasts of Burdin, Alexander has a long future ahead of him.
 

Beasts of Burdin is planned for release in April 2014, with book two in November 2014 and the third in 2015.

For more about Alexander Nader, please visit https://alexnaderwrites.wordpress.com

About the Publisher
J. Taylor Publishing is an Independent Publisher who, thanks to the Internet, has a worldwide reach. Our debut authors are in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Canada. The company produces print and electronic books. For more information about J. Taylor Publishing, please visit www.jtaylorpublishing.com.
 
 
I am super excited to be a part of the J. Taylor family. Everyone I’ve met from J. Taylor has been extremely helpful and I have really just gotten started. Thanks to J. Taylor for giving Beasts of Burdin a chance, I can’t wait to share it with you guys.

A is for Atmosphere

Okay, so I hope I’m not too late for this thing. Brief intro: I am a rather new author and I’m going to use this list to show what’s inspired me. Done.

Day one: A is for Atmosphere. No, not all that air and gas and stuff. I’m talking about the hip-hop duo Atmosphere. Hip-hop isn’t for everyone and it’s honestly not even my favorite genre, but the ability they have to put a story into a song amazes me.

On the album “When Life Gives You Lemons You Paint That Shit Gold” every single track is a story of new characters and almost every one of them is heartbreaking. The amount of emotion that they can pack into three minutes is something that I am envious of. I swear they pack more into a song than I do a 70,000 word novel. (I really, probably shouldn’t admit that…)

That’s all till tomorrow.