Wednesday, January 18, 2017

33 Months Later With Joe Bonadonna

Joe Bonadonna is one the many friends I've made online who I wished I lived closer to so that we could spend the whole day just hanging out and talking about writing, books, movies and pop culture. Which would probably means that neither one of us would get much work done and thereby deprive you guys of a lotta good reading.

But interviewing him is the next best thing and here we are with another one. You can find previous interviews I've done with Joe HERE and HERE. And now, go on and enjoy this one!



Derrick Ferguson: What have you been up to since we last talked?

Joe Bonadonna: Let’s see now, quite a lot has happened in the last two or so years. I tried to get a sword and planet sequel to my space opera, Three Against The Stars completed, as well as a second “Mad Shadows” novel. But other things got in the way. First, in 2014 I wrote “Sinbad and The Golden Fleece,” which appears in SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES, VOL. 4, published by Ron Fortier and our good friends at Airship 27 Productions.



Then I wrote “We the Furious” and “Undertaker’s Holiday” (with author Shebat Legion) for POETS IN HELL, volume 18 in the long-running Heroes in Hell shared-universe series, created by author Janet Morris in 1986, first published by Baen Books and now published by her own Perseid Press. In 2015 I wrote two more novellas for Perseid Press: “Hell on a Technicality,” for DOCTORS IN HELL, volume 19 in the Heroes in Hell series, and “The Dragon’s Horde,” for HEROIKA: DRAGON EATERS, the first volume in Janet Morris’ new Heroic Fantasy anthology. Then I went back to working on my novels. However, I got sidetracked once again. In 2016 I wrote “The Pirates of Penance,” a very long novella for PIRATES IN HELL, volume 20 in the Heroes in Hell saga, which is set to be published sometime in early 2017. Then Shebat Legion and I wrote a quirky little tale called “Samuel Meant Well and the Little Black Cloud of the Apocalypse” for the next volume in author/publisher Michael H. Hanson’s shared-world series, SHA’DAA. Meanwhile, “To Save Hermesia,” a short story I wrote with Dave Smith, was accepted for a new sword and planet shared-universe called THE LOST EMPIRE OF SOL. 2016 also saw the publication of my humorous, modern-day Lovecraftian tale, “Queen of Toads,” which you can read for free at Black Gate Online Magazine. Somehow I managed to write another novella for LOVERS IN HELL, the 2018 volume in the Heroes in Hell series. (Hopefully, that will be accepted next year.) Miraculously, 2016 ended with the completion of two novels: The MechMen of Canis-9, (the sword and planet sequel to my space opera, Three Against The Stars) which has been accepted by Airship 27 Productions and will, hopefully, see the light of day sometime in 2017.




The second novel, Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent was recently published by me, with the help of the incredibly talented artist and author, Erika M Szabo, and her Golden Box Books Publishing Services. Not only did Erika design my cover and the interior look of the book, she turned my original, poorly self-drawn map of Dorgo’s world into a thing of beauty. She set up everything for me: paperback through CreateSpace, and Kindle through both Amazon and Smashwords. So a big shout and thank you to Erika, who came along like a Guardian Angel just when I needed one.

DF: You've published a new Dorgo The Dowser novel. Tell us about it.


JB: As mentioned above, the title is Mad Shadows II: Dorgo the Dowser and The Order of the Serpent. This time around, it’s more of a novel than its predecessor, Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which consisted of 6 novellas. Old friends from the first book return, and we meet a few new friends, as well. This time around, Dorgo falls in love with a witch known as the Girl Who Loves Ghouls, battles creatures from another dimension, and meets one very special cat named Crystal. It’s also the first time he hears about an ancient death cult known as the Order of the Serpent. Then, after a young woman is murdered and a dangerous book of arcane lore is stolen from her, Dorgo comes closer to learning more about this secret Order. But first he must battle both humans and demons in order to find and destroy The Book of Echoes. Finally, Dorgo squares off against a horde of fiends born of dark sorcery when he tries to help a young girl who became trapped inside a powerful spell while attempting to destroy someone calling himself Ophidious Garloo. Racing against time, Dorgo the Dowser uses every trick he knows to uncover the secret identity and learn the True Name of Ophidious Garloo —who may very well be the deathless leader of the Order of the Serpent. The novel has all the magic, murder, mystery, monsters and mayhem you’d expect from a Dorgo the Dowser novel.

DF: Are we going to see more of Dorgo?

JB: I hope so. I have about half of a third novel in first-draft form, and if possible, I’d like to do a fourth book, but return to the type of picaresque novel I wrote first: six or seven separate novellas. Who knows? Only Time will tell.

DF: You've been keeping busy doing some editing work as well, I hear. What are the challenges of editing?

JB: Keeping my eyes open for typos, missing words, and such. I don’t do story editing: I may, on occasion, suggest that a sub-plot or story thread be placed here or played out there, but mostly I just spot-check for typos. I don’t consider myself a “real” editor, and I always suggest that authors find some professional editing service, if they can afford it.

DF: Did you find yourself using a different set of creative muscles editing?

JB: In a way, yes. Since my editing consists mostly of proofing, I have to keep my mind away from thinking: I’d write this scene differently, I’d play out this subplot in a different way, I’d add another character or take away an unnecessary character; I’d go in this or that direction; I’d kill off this character or that character, etc. I try not to think about how I would write the story, and I never suggest anything about plotting unless that is something I’m asked to do. I will give tips on things like giving every character his or her own voice and way of speaking, and I always tell people to watch certain movies by certain directors and screenwriters who were masters of dialog. I hate reading books where every line of dialog sounds like the stilted, all-too-unnatural, Biblical style you hear in many Cecil B. DeMille movies. Writers like James M. Cain, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Paul Cain, Chester Himes, Leigh Brackett, Cornell Woolrich, Elmore Leonard . . . these authors really knew how to write natural-sounding dialog.

DF: Think you'll do more editing in the future?

JB: Perhaps, if I’m not too busy at the time and a friend needs help with a short story. But I am not a professional editor, nor do I play one on TV. I really don’t like editing. Editing is not something I would do on a regular basis . . . not for love or money.

DF: Tell us about AZIERAN ADVENTURES PRESENTS ARTIFACTS AND RELICS: EXTREME SORCERY


JB: This is a shared-theme anthology, available only on Kindle right now, published by Heathen Oracle. The idea behind it was to come up with some “artifact or relic,” write a brief history of it, and then write a story around it. Azieran is the world author and publisher Christopher Heath created for his own stories of his mage-warriors, the Malkan Knights, and this was his brain-child. We were given total freedom to do what we wanted, with only two rules: use an artifact or relic as the story’s McGuffin, and make it pure sword and sorcery. Part two of my new Dorgo novel, “The Book of Echoes,” made its first appearance in this anthology, although for my novel it was greatly changed, revised and expanded. This anthology was published back in 2013, featuring stories by such authors as James Beamon, David J West, John M Whalen, and Christopher Heath, to name a few, and even a reprint of “The Mad Abbott of Puthuum,” by Clark Ashton Smith. It’s a pretty darn good anthology of sword and sorcery tales that needs more recognition.

DF: What keeps you motivated during creative slumps?

JB: Family, friends, old movies, and reading non-fiction books, such as biographies, film studies, and even doing a little research — especially for the Heroes in Hell series. Writing for this series requires a lot of reading up on real, historical characters, as well as characters from legend, mythology and pre-1900 fiction — provided we can find a link to a real personage. While my two main characters in Hell are Victor Frankenstein and Quasimodo, both of which are pre-1900 characters, I found links to real people. At the time Mary and Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron were traveling through Geneva, Switzerland, there lived a doctor and vivisectionist: Doctor Johann Conrad Dippel (August 10, 1673 – April 25, 1734) who was a German pietist theologian, alchemist and physician. Dippel was born at Castle Frankenstein near Mühltal and Darmstadt. He is often credited as being the inspiration for the infamous doctor we all know and love. As for Quasimodo . . . back in 2002 or 2003, workmen at Notre Dame Cathedral broke through a wall and discovered the bones of a hunchback, dating back to Victor Hugo’s time. There are some accounts that there was, at one time, a hunchbacked bell ringer at the cathedral, and that Hugo might have known him.

DF: What do you do with your free time when you're not writing?

JB: Due to health problems that have cropped up over the last few years — especially in 2016, which seems to have been a bad year for so many — I am now fairly limited to what I can physically do: no more helping out friends rehabbing houses and such. I spend a lot of time going to doctors and physical therapy. But I do spend time with family and childhood friends, many of whom I’ve known since around 1960. I do a little reading, but my mind tends to wander to what I’m working on or want to work on. I watch a lot of old movies, too, and by old I mean 1920s through 1950s. In the future I hope to spend as much time as possible in Arizona and Las Vegas during the winter months, going back and forth occasionally, and not officially returning to Chicago until May or June. Mostly, I take it easy, and discuss writing with a lot of young people I’ve met on Facebook.

DF: Tell us about your upcoming projects. Anything you're working on now that you can tell us about?

JB: Other than plotting and working on that third Dorgo novel, and taking notes for a possible horror novel, I may try my hand at something autobiographical. But the big thing planned for next year is to put out a second and revised edition, totally self-published with Erika M Szabo’s help, of Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, which will give me total control of pricing, giveaways and other things over which I currently do not have.


Derrick Ferguson: Drop some Words of Wisdom on all the young aspiring writers out there reading this and thirsting for your knowledge.

Joe Bonadonna: LOL!!! The Old Guy speaks, right? Well, I’m still learning. Every day I learn something new about writing and the publishing business. Some advice I would give is: read and know the genre you write in, but read beyond it, too. Read a bit of everything: true or fictional crime, history, romance, sci-fi, horror, erotica, espionage thrillers, biographies, etc. Read the novels of Bronte, Hugo, Verne, Wells, Austin, Dumas, Stevenson, and Poe. Read the great plays by Clifford Odets, Tennessee Williams and Lillian Hellman. I also suggest that writers read screenplays by the masters: Preston Sturges, Billy Wilder, Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, for example. Watch and study their films, as well as the films by people like Howard Hawks, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, Raoul Walsh, and William Wellman, to name a few. Books like Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and especially The Chicago Manual of Style should be on every writer’s desk; they have helped and taught me a lot.

Lastly, if any of your readers are interested, one of my stories from Mad Shadows: The Weird Tales of Dorgo the Dowser, called “The Moonstones of Sor Lunarum,” has been in the top ten list of fiction on Black Gate Magazine for almost six years now. You can read it for free, right here:

And if anyone would like to read a light-hearted horror story, they can read my “Queen of Toads,” also at Black Gate magazine:

I’d like to, if I may, give a shout-out to Erika M Szabo, in case anyone out there might be interested in her and Golden Box Publishing Services:

Once again, thank you very much, Derrick. I hope to be interviewing you fairly soon, too.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...BARBARA DORAN

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Barbara Doran?

Barbara Doran: I'm a New Pulp writer, currently published by Airship 27. My work includes "Claws of the Golden Dragon" two years ago, a Sinbad short - "Sinbad and the Island of the Puppet Master", "Wings of the Golden Dragon" (due out soon, we hope) and a Sherlock Holmes/Van Dusen crossover that I hope will be appearing someday in Ron's Sherlock Holmes anthology. (Not soon, however; he's got quite a queue there.)



DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

BD: I'm currently living somewhere in the general vicinity of the birthplace of powered flight. (That's Dayton, Ohio, where the Wright Brothers designed and built their aircraft.) As for keeping the bill collectors away, I'm a very lucky writer in that my Long Suffering Husband handles that side of things. I just keep my own personal Tiger and Dragon from immolating themselves. Mostly. Err...back in a moment. Time to put out another fire.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background, if you please.

BD: I was an army brat who moved around a lot as a kid. Chicago, Carbondale, Oklahoma, Colorado, Missouri and finally Ohio. My father is a Western Beast bred and born and my mom was a native born Chinese, born in Nanjing just around the time of the invasion. She came to America for college and met my dad at his mother's cafeteria in Carbondale, IL. (Amusingly, genetic tests show that I have more than 50% Asian ancestry, thanks to my Dad having Northern European ancestors. He always has claimed to have a Chinese stomach.)

I studied as a software engineer at the University of Dayton, but my first love was always writing and I spent most of my spare time with fanfic. It took a while but I finally realized I really preferred writing and that's where I put most of my focus. Truly dedicated readers might be able to find some of my old work still out there. They may even recognize a character or so.

DF: How long have you been writing?

BD: Pretty much from the day I learned to read. Bits and pieces, mostly unfinished, but my brain was constantly creating fanfiction universes based on my comics and TV shows.

DF: What's your philosophy of writing?

BD: The words go on the screen. Keep typing until they're done. Then edit. And edit. And edit. Respect your characters' personalities. Respect your readers' intelligence. Make sure the plot doesn't wander around and get lost in the scenery. Keep things moving, even when there are plot points that need to be talked about.
        
Don't stop. Just. Don't. Stop.

DF: You a plotter or a pantser?

BD: I'd say I'm mostly a pantser, but I use research as my guide. I like to think of writing as creating a clay sculpture. I know the general shape I want, but sometimes I have to add some material here, remove some there. And every so often, take the whole blessed head off and redo it.

DF: Do you enjoy writing?

BD: I love writing. I realized, years back, that it really was the thing I should have been doing with myself. Even when I'm not at my computer and putting words down, they're working their way around inside my head. So one could say that I'm creating stories all the time.

Too, I've discovered that I simply don't know what to do all day if I'm not writing. So, when I'm not persuading my children to do the dishes and/or their homework, I'm tap, tap, tapping away.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

BD: P.C. Hodgell, Diana Wynne Jones, GNU Terry Pratchett, Dick Francis, Walter Gibson, Arthur Conan Doyle, just to name a few. I've also become quite fond of N.K. Jemisin's Broken Earth series. It's amazing and devastating and I'm really looking forward to seeing where she takes it.

DF: Do you write for yourself or for the reader?

BD: Really, both. I try to make sure the work can appeal to more than just a narrow audience, of course. However, if I don't enjoy what I'm writing, I'm not going to be able to do a good job with it. So I write for readers who like the sort of things I like to write and hope that's a wide enough appeal to draw in readers.

DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?

BD: I don't go out of my way looking for them. I do get beta readers, but that's to make sure what I wrote works and doesn't leave questions. I'd be glad to get more reviews, though, to get an idea where I might improve.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? is there an audience for Barbara Doran?

BD: As far as my original pulp work goes, I think the audience would be fans of shows like the Green Hornet. Sinbad and Sherlock Holmes both have a fandom and I'm overjoyed to write for them.

I hope there's an audience for the sort of work I do. I'm not a hard-boiled detective type writer, but I think there's room in New Pulp for the type of over the top, weird science/magic crossover stories I like to write.


DF: Do you crave recognition?

BD: I'd like my work to be known. I'm a fairly shy and retiring person, so I don't mind letting it do the talking for me.

DF: Do you think that New Pulp will ever have respectability?

BD: I think it already does, really. There might never be a big New Pulp publishing house along the lines of DAW or Baen or Tor, but I think it's getting more and more wide spread.

DF: What's the best advice that you can give someone who wants to write New Pulp?

BD: Don't talk about it. Do it. Also, research is always your friend. Even if you never put a word of what you've found directly in the work, it'll act as a foundation for the piece and help your world feel more lived in.

DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?

BD: As a pantser, pretty important. I've learned that when I find myself blocked and uncertain about what I'm doing, it's usually because I'm headed in an unworkable direction. So I trust my subconscious to be looking ahead of me and saying, "Eh, Barbara, what the heck are you doing?"

DF: What is the one book or story you’ve written that you would recommend to somebody to read who doesn’t know anything about you?

BD: Right now I only have the one original New Pulp out, so I'd have to recommend "Claws of the Golden Dragon". However, when it does come out, "Wings" is a much tighter, better written piece. It's set in Shanghai a little before things got bad and features mobsters, spies, monsters, magic and Gods. Oh, yes and a bit of romance, just for spice.



DF: What are you working on now?

BD: A rather large, probably not for Pulp, novel about a colony of humans stuck on a water world and dependent on Artificial Intelligences for survival. They live on floating islands (AI'lands) and are on the run from an insane and homicidal AI named Varos, with only their own AIs to help stop him. It's sort of a space opera, as the SF is quite loose.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know about you?

Barbara Doran: Along with my love of Green Hornet, I'm a big anime and Shaw Brothers' fan. My work is peppered with references and I will gladly award a great big know-it-all-prize to anyone who recognizes where one of my characters got their name, personality and/or appearance.



Friday, September 2, 2016

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I remember when I had to do these back in elementary and junior high school and I absolutely hated them because…well, I did nothing during my summer vacation. Oh, I most likely went down south to visit my grandparents, read some books, goofed around with my friends, did some writing but that was about it.

And that’s kinda how my summer vacation 2016 went as well as an adult. Patricia and I made it down south to Florida and Washington, DC. While I reveled in the heat as it was anywhere from 90 to 100 degrees every day we were down there, Patricia put our jointly owned .45 automatic to my head and said either I take her back to Brooklyn or I could stay in Florida sans brains. We had a much more pleasant time in our two weekend visits to Washington DC. The first was for her family reunion and the second was that I could go see the “Exquisitely Evil: 50 Years of Bond Villains” exhibit at The International Spy Museum. Just in case you haven’t seen them on Facebook, here’s a few pictures:





I saw some movies. Most of which disappointed me. Seriously, I saw better and more entertaining movies on YouTube and Netflix than I did at the theaters this summer. You can bounce on over to The Ferguson Review for some movies I saw such as “War Dogs” “Suicide Squad” “Star Trek Beyond” and “Ghostbusters” among others.

Did I read? Yeah, I managed to read a couple of books. Mike Baron’s “Banshees” (Review soon to come) And two biographies of World War I flying ace Eugene Bullard. I read his bio on Wikipedia and I wondered why this guy wasn’t having movies, television shows and adventure novels written about him. So as it happens so often in my creative life, I figured that if nobody else was going to write books about him, I’d have to do it. So that’s my project for the fall/winter of 2016. You keep me honest and every so often drop me an email and ask me how it’s going, okay?



I did complete a Dillon project but you’ll have to go over to the DILLON blog to see what it is. See what I did there? And there’s another Dillon project I have in the works. If you’re a fan of “The Magnificent Seven” “The Dirty Dozen” and “The Expendables” series then this is one that you’re gonna love. Details will follow at the Dillon blog.


Other than that, everything is cool. How’s thing’s by you? Please feel free to comment on how your summer vacation was. And here’s a picture of Mark Bousquet’s canine companion Darwin for no other reason than I like Mark and Darwin.




Friday, August 5, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...JANA OLIVER

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Jana Oliver?

Jana Oliver: I’m someone who has found that listening to the voices in my head and writing their stories into book form is a pretty nifty job.


DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS you do for a living?

JO: I live near Atlanta, Georgia and my tax returns state “Author”. Yeah, for real. I’m still jazzed about that.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

JO: I have a checkered past, in that I wasn’t always a writer. I started out as a registered nurse, did a gig as a fill-in DJ, wrote advertising copy for major retailers and was a travel agent. All of which actually helps me now that I’m a wordsmith.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

JO: The late Sir Terry Pratchett’s unlimited imagination still stuns me, the depth of Anne Perry’s Victorian mysteries, as well as the world building of urban fantasy authors like Ilona Andrews, Jim Butcher, Chloe Neil, Suzanne Johnson, etc. Most of the time when I read something amazing, I lean back in my chair and go “Wow, I want to write that late someday.”

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Jana Oliver?

JO: Jana has always been eclectic because my stories don’t stick to one genre. Whether it be young adult urban fantasy, paranormal romance, historical/paranormal mysteries or contemporary mysteries, I’ll write the book if the story and characters intrigue me. Most authors try to stick to one genre. I get bored too easily, so my audience is all over the map.

DF: Do you write for yourself or for your readers?

JO: A little of both. Mostly I write for the characters who “use” me as their scribe so their stories are told.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

JO: Its. A. Gift. Doesn’t matter who you believe gave it to you this time around, it’s a gift. The books/stories are important. They reach into peoples’ hearts and their lives. So in my mind ignoring that calling is a bad thing. Sure, we all have times we can’t write because of family, etc., but the bottom line is if you having this calling, you should be doing it.

DF: Are you interested in critics and their opinion of your work?

JO: Luckily I’m a lot more thick-skinned than I used to be. Mostly my spouse watches the reviews and lets me know if there’s a common thread, something I might be able to fix in future books. An example is that when I was first writing, my villains were pretty cardboard. Now I give them full back stories, motivations, the whole works. That change came because of reader comments.

DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?

JO: I’ve learned it’s VERY important. Because if not I hit a wall in the story and waste time trying to fix stuff.

DF: Tell us about THE DEMON TRAPPERS series

JO: The DEMON TRAPPERS series is currently five books (the final one—VALIANT LIGHT—is coming out in November) and it has a worldwide following. Which is pretty cool given it’s the tale of a 17 y/o girl who just wants to follow in her father’s footsteps. How hard can that be? Well, pretty hard since he traps demons for a living and the trappers in Atlanta aren’t fond of a female in their midst. But Riley Blackthorne does have someone rooting for her—Lucifer, in fact. That’s never a good thing.


Riley is a great character to write: Strong, caring and actually learns from her mistakes. And she’s mouthy. (I have no idea where she gets that trait. Ha!) Besides Hell and its demons, Riley has an adversarial relationship with Denver Beck, a young veteran who is her father’s apprentice. Their stories have proven very popular. It’ll be sad to say goodbye to them, but I want the series to end at just the right time and not overstay their welcome.

DF: Tell us about THE TIME ROVERS series

JO: Can you say “Genre Blend”? Because that’s exactly what this series is. Historical mystery, paranormal, a bit of science fiction and romance. I send a time traveler from 2057 back to 1888 London during the time of the Jack the Ripper murders, not to find the killer, but to locate a missing time “tourist.” But Jacynda Lassiter, my Time Rover, realizes that nothing is as it seems because of the Transitives, a group of shapeshifters than can mimic anyone’s appearance. Add in some Fenians, some missing dynamite, a plot to change the future and that’s the Time Rovers’ series in a nutshell.



Because I’m slightly crazy, I spent an incredible amount of time ensuring the Victorian details were as accurate as I could get them. To that end, I’ve attended a number of academic conferences on JtR and Victorian London and numerous trips to the East End to wander around the dark alleys. Sometimes you just have to do your pub research firsthand. (wink)

In the end, the Time Rovers series won eight or nine major writing awards, found me a literary agent who helped me launch my career in NY. All because a small Canadian press (Dragon Moon) took a gamble on me and my very unique trilogy.

DF: You appear to have achieved a good deal of successful in both the Young Adult and Supernatural genres and joined them both successfully. Care to tell us your secret?

JO: I’ve been incredibly lucky. I’m best when I incorporate some paranormal element, even a small one, into my stories. When paired with the young adult genre, that worked very, very well. I think part of the success is that I always try to do something unique rather than following the trends. Which is why my heroine in the Demon Trappers did end up with the Fallen angel as her soul mate.

DF: You were around at the beginning of the independent self-publishing movement on The Internet. How did it begin for you and has it developed into what you thought it would?

JO: I began my career self-pubbing in 2001, back when there weren’t all the tools in place to help make the job a “easier”. Getting the books stocked at Amazon was a pain in the butt (now I work through Createspace so the printing and shipping are automatic) and e-books didn’t exist. At present 80% of my sales worldwide are in electronic form. That rocks. Back then the best way to build my name was going to conventions and hosting a podcast, which is how you and I met. Now there’s all the social media platforms that offer a truly worldwide audience. It still boggles my mind that people in far-flung parts of the world are downloading my indie books.

DF: What have you got in the works?

JO: I just published DEAD EASY, which is a YA/New Adult contemporary murder mystery set in New Orleans. Couldn’t resist messing around with a serial killer and a quartet of amateur detectives. I’m about to start writing VALIANT LIGHT, that final Demon Trappers book.


DF: What is a typical Day In The Life of Jana Oliver like?

JO: I drag myself out of bed about 8, and veg until about 9:30 as I don’t like eating first thing in the morning. Usually I answer e-mails, do social media posts during that time period. And pet the cat, who insists that she curl up next to me on the couch while I sip my coffee.

I’m more of an afternoon person, so I truly don’t really start writing until noon or later, then work through until my nap. A brief snooze allows me to work out scene problems and refreshes me. Then I write until the spouse gets home. If I’m on deadline, I will write after supper and on the weekends. It all depends on the schedule.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?


Jana Oliver: Just wanted to thank you for all the great questions!




More information about Jana Oliver can be found at her website so just bounce on over THERE RIGHT NOW and her Facebook page can be found RIGHT HERE

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...SEVEN STEPS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Seven Steps?

Seven Steps: Seven Steps is a original story teller. She writes Science Fiction, Contemporary and Urban Romance.



DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS you do for a living?

SS: I live in New Haven, Connecticut. According to the government, I am an electronic health record specialist. But in my heart, I've always been a writer.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

SS: I was born and raised in Queens, New York and have two brothers and one sister. New York in the 80's and 90's was an awesome place to grow up. The fashion back then was a trip. There are many photos of me floating around in neon colors, or with fanny packs, or skorts. I had the typical blue collar family. My father worked full time, while my mom stayed home. We went on family vacations every year to Disney. And, like everyone else in the 90's we video recorded everything. That's not always a good thing. There are some VHS tapes out there that I wouldn't mind setting fire to. But it was all fun. I had a pretty good childhood.

DF: What were you like as a child?

SS: I like to call myself a rebel bookworm. I cut school to hang out at the library. I must've read a book a day back then. In addition to being a book worm, I was also a theater geek and starred in several plays in high school. My parents were very involved in my life. My dad took me to Waldenbooks (an old school book store) and we hung out there for hours just reading. My mom was very invested in my education and made sure that I was an A student. In addition to all of this, I was a daydreamer. My head stayed in the clouds.I distinctly remember walking around the streets of New York with no shoes (gross, I know), my jeans on backwards and a flower painted on my face. Looking back, I wish someone would have stopped me, but I was being me, so it's okay. I was, and still am, very into music. My father and younger brother are both bass players and singers, so music was very big in my house. Especially Motown music. I enjoyed that music growing up, but once I hit the teenage years, I was big into rock music. Nine Inch Nails, Metallica, Aerosmith, Linkin Park. I'm sure my parents thought that something was wrong with me, but, again, I was just being myself and finding out who I was. So socially awkward kid + theater geek+ book worm = one weird but interesting child.

DF: Do you feel that the adult you is still in touch with that child? And does that child still influence your writing?

SS: Definitely. I can be a dreamer a times, but fortunately my husband reels me back down to earth. He's very grounded, and I'm always in the clouds, but we compliment each other. Growing up, I kept diaries, which I still refer back to from time to time. I don't want to lose touch with who I was. A big chunk of writing is longing. The main characters long for things. You long to move your readers’ heart. There is a lot of longing involved. As a child, I longed for things. Acceptance, friendship, to be part of the in-crowd. I make sure to tap back into that sense of longing when I write, and I hope that that translates to my readers.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

SS: Octavia Butler's book, “Kindred” really spoke to me. The notion of black people in science fiction was not really something that I saw before I started reading her. I liked that I could see myself in her story, as opposed to someone who didn't look like me. Also, Orson Scott Card's Alvin the Maker series was influential. I love fanciful books, and his work really fulfilled that within me. I read a lot of Shakespeare and a lot of classic books. Doctor Doolittle, The Wizard of Oz series, Goosebumps. Anything that sparked my imagination, I read.

DF: Are you interested in professional and/or amateur criticism of your work?

SS: Yes. I love all criticism of my work. It means that people are reading it.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Seven Steps?

SS: In a perfect world, I would love everyone to read my work. I think that the people that would relate most to it are people who like things a little different. Not your normal stories, that novels that spark something in you. Novels that make you think differently. That's what I write.

DF: In what direction do you think your work is heading?

SS: Onwards and upwards. I would like to make writing my full time career one day.

DF: Tell us about THE SLAVE PLANET.

SS: THE SLAVE PLANET is set on the colonized planet Venus in the distant future. Men have allowed themselves to slip into slavery through centuries of bad decisions. After that, its left to women to take over. The planet really flourishes after that. With men out of the picture, women bring technology, government and education to new levels. The drawback is, women have become more brutal, more heartless. Within all of that is Nadira and Kiln. Kiln is Nadira's slave and, over the years, they've fall in love. Due to the constraints of society, they have to keep their love a secret. Eventually, they are discovered by Nadira's mother, an inter-planetary ambassador. After that, its all down hill. Death, political intrigue, forbidden love, defiance and redemption makes this a book that everyone should check out. THE SLAVE PLANET is the first in a trilogy. The first book is available on all platforms. The second book is due to be released this summer.



DF: Tell us about BEFORE I WAKE.

SS: BEFORE I WAKE was fun to write. It is made up of two short stories. When I got back into writing a few years ago, the first thing that I wrote was “Playthings”. It's based on true life events, believe it or not. One day, me and my husband were in the supermarket, and he went to get produce while I went to get cereal. In that split second when he disappeared around the bend of the aisle, I thought to myself, what if he was never there at all (didn't I tell you that I was prone to flights of fancy?). “Playthings” is the story of, what if he was never really there at all. Its a great story. Very much like The Twilight Zone, Unsolved Mysteries, and The X Files.



“The Cottage” was the second short story that I wrote. I was listening to “Ordinary Day” by Vanessa Carlton and this story just came to me. What if all of these crazy beautiful things happened, and it was all just a dream? “The Cottage” is a beautiful period piece and I am very proud of it.

DF: You’ve got a story in the A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE STORY anthology. Tell us about it.

SS: A DIFFERENT KIND OF LOVE STORY was put together by writer\publisher Riiva Williams. I networked with her on Facebook and was so happy when she put out the call for this anthology. I donated an expanded version of “The Cottage” to this anthology.



DF: Where do you see Seven Steps in five years?

SS: With twenty (20) or more books under her belt and going strong.

DF: Any projects you’re working on that you can tell us about?

SS: Yes. I am working on THE CIVIL WAR, the sequel to THE SLAVE PLANET. That is coming out at the end of the summer. I also have THE LAST ROCK KING releasing this fall. It is a contemporary rock star romance.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Seven Steps like?

SS: I like to joke and tell people that my middle name is struggle. I wake up around 4:30AM and write. Around 6 or so I wake up my daughter and get her to school by 7:30. I then try to do some more writing until 8:30. Then I'm at work at 9:30. After work it's all family stuff, dinner, that kind of stuff. Its definitely a grind. One day, I hope that I will be able to write full time.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else you’d like to tell us?

Seven Steps: I am active on social media. You can find me on Facebook at www.facebook.com\SevenStepsAuthor or on my website at www.sevenstepsauthor.com. I enjoy linking up with new people, so let's connect. The link to my book is: https://www.amazon.com/Slave-Planet-Sci-Fi-Interracial-Romance-ebook/dp/B01DWC4HZ6





Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...JAIME E. RAMOS

Derrick Ferguson: Who Is Jaime E. Ramos?

Jaime E. Ramos: I am a writer who lives in St. Louis MO. I was raised on the bad streets of Gary Indiana and graduated Calumet High School. I am a happily married man with one son, named Thomas. I love dogs and writing and reading and watching football. I am a lifelong Chicago Bears fan.



DF: Where do you live and what do you tell the IRS you do for a living?

JER: I am a Claims Adjuster.

DF: Give us some of your background info, if you please.

JER: Let’s see. I graduated High School and immediately attended Indiana Boys State which is a competition sponsored by the American Legion. I was nominated to be a County Commissioner in the competition. I tried college a couple of times and found it to be not my cup of tea. I have worked blue-collar jobs like factory work and restaurants. I have worked in the insurance claims field for the last fifteen years, proving that a college education isn’t really needed, at least I didn’t need one to become successful. I have a successful marriage to my wife Phyllis. Phyllis is the one person that can handle my many personality flaws and I appreciate that greatly.

DF: How long have you been writing?

JER: I have been writing since the age of six.

DF: Do you enjoy writing?

JER: I enjoy writing now that I have had a small tastes of being published. Lingering in obscurity is not fun and I never write just because I am bored or whatever. I write with a purpose.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

JER: Great question. Roger Zelazny, Ernest Hemmingway, Robert Shea, James Clavell, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the great David Michelinie.

DF: Do you write for yourself or for the readers?

JER: I have never written anything for myself. I’m not really sure exactly what that means. I write with a purpose to tell stories that others can read.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Jaime E. Ramos?

JER: I would like the whole world, the entire planet to read my work.

DF: How did you get involved with New Pulp?
JER: I gravitated to New Pulp while doing research for a prose super-hero story that I had written. I was looking for a publisher and discovered Pro Se Productions. I found my home in this genre and made real sound business and creative connections. New Pulp also kicks my creativity into over-drive.

DF: Do you think that New Pulp has the potential to be The Next Big Thing? (Whatever that means)

JER: I think Pulp being the precursor to comic  book characters and other genre fiction has always been a viable universe for Hollywood and publishing houses.  As New Pulp evolves there is always a chance that new fans and creators discover the genre.

DF: Where do you see New Pulp being five years from now? And do you see yourself as still being an active, vital element of New Pulp?

JER:  I think that many New Pulp publishers will discover new writers with diverse characters and settings.  I think the Movement will gain steam and broaden as a genre.

DF: Tell us about your involvement in LEGENDS OF NEW PULP.

JER: Well I had gotten an email from Tommy Hancock and discovered how ill he was. I wanted to help him in some small way. So I sent out a few messages to other writers (you included) and asked if a benefit anthology with the proceeds going to Tommy or his family would be in line. The answer as a resounding YES. I knew that I wasn’t a “publisher” per say, and I would need help putting the book together. I contacted Ron Fortier at Airship 27 and he loved the idea. Ron really took the lead and put it together, I proofed roughly half of the stories.


DF: How do you feel about the runaway success of that book?

JER: I am ecstatic that the book has been a success.  So far the book has won some awards and I am proud of  the creators.  I am also very proud that Tommy has benefitted from the proceeds.  It’s great to see a community come together.



DF: Tell us about SINGULARITY: RISE OF THE POSTHUMANS.

JER: This book has been in the making for three years. It is a “shared world” setting, in which each author’s characters share the same space and environment. After a technological singularity has plunged the world into war and darkness, a small city is built from the ashes. After a self-appointed monarch rises to control the inhabitants, super heroes are called upon to fight for the citizens. I created this really complex history for the world, but the stories are relatable and the characters are solid.


DF: David Michelinie is one of my favorite comic book writers. I loved his work on “Iron Man” and he created the World War II hero Gravedigger, one of the best African-American characters in comics. How’d you persuade him to join this project?

JER: I became friends with David on Facebook after sending him a fan-message. David graciously answered fan questions from me and we eased into a very cool “internet friendship.” When I came up with the concept of Singularity, David agreed to look at my concept, but didn’t commit until I actually sold the idea to a publisher. I pitched the idea and within a week a publisher committed to the project. David was then forced to service and created an amazing character called the Righteous Red. His story for the project is stellar!

DF: Will there be more books to come?

JER: I think so. I have been in talks with my publisher at Pro Se Productions and we are looking at sales. Sales generates sequels so if the sales are strong, I hope their will be more books. My goal is to create a brand and I have worked hard to put it together. I am ambitious and relentless.

DF: Which is tougher, writing or editing?

JER: I think editing is more difficult. I enjoy reading the stories that people write, but I don’t enjoy being the “heavy.” Editing is really not in my wheel-house, but I have learned to do the best I can and keep it positive. I let the writers know that I am in their corner and they seem to respond to me.

DF: What is a typical Day In The Life of Jamie E. Ramos like?

JER: I get up early and head to work down in the city of St. Louis at 8 AM. My office is just a few blocks from Busch stadium. I work on claim files until 430 PM and then I head home. After getting home, I visit with my wife and son and my dogs Coco and Chewie. After dinner, I try working on Facebook and writing stories that I am committed too. I try to take in either Game of Thrones or Ancient Aliens before turning in for the night.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else you want to add?

Jaime E. Ramos: I appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed by you, sir. I hope that Singularity becomes a great success and watch for announcements for my next solo novel “Cash Rawlins and the Infernal Eye.”