Wednesday, March 30, 2016

STOPWATCH STORIES by M. Todd Gallowglas

I first met Mr. Gallowglas at an author event, and not only has he been instrumental in motivating my writing, I've learned a great deal from him in a short time. His new flash fiction book, Stopwatch Stories Vol. 1, debuted at the beginning of March, and he will be publishing one a month for the rest of 2016. He also has a few published series that are extremely well-written, and worth checking out.

Brevity is the soul of wit. - Shakespeare

Within this book you will find thirty-one stories written with this quote in mind. For 2016, I decided to challenge myself to create a flash fiction story every day for the whole year. So far I've been on track. You will find these stories brief, and hopefully some of them witty as well. This is a complete collection of the stories I wrote in January. Going forward. I will publish each month's stories as an ebook, and then collect them all in an omnibus edition, available in print and Ebook in early 2017.

You've published multiple series, including books with WordFire Press. What is your method for balancing a wide variety of projects, and how do you decide where to prioritize your focus?

First: What do I have specifically on deadline, because bills have to get paid. After that, really it's whatever I'm having the most fun with. If I'm not having fun writing, the reader probably isn't going to have reading. I know some of my readers would like me to get back to some of the series that I haven't put out in a while, but I think in the long run, they'll be more appreciative of something that's full of the wonder and imagination when I'm having grand time composing.

Retaining the fun is definitely one of the most important things an author can do. In what ways has flash fiction enhanced your craft, and what have you learned from doing it?

Flash fiction forces me to get down to the core of an idea. With a piece that's striving to be a couple hundred words, a thousand at most, I don't have any words to waste. It also allows me to experiment without the commitment of a short story or a novel. It's easier to play around and push my limits and boundaries.

At Silicon Valley Comic Con, you did an excellent job of moderating a writer's panel. What suggestions, if any, do you have for newer authors interested in being on panels?

Contact the event and let them know that you are interested in doing panels. Let them know what subjects you feel qualified to speak on. Don't try to get on any panel that comes up. You do better by speaking well on one panel that you're well acquainted with than you are four panels were you don't have much to say. Remember that at the beginning of your career, you're a small fish in a VERY big pond. Show up. Speak well. Don't try to dominate the conversation. Do that, and you'll gain more notice and pretty soon, events will contact you to come and speak. Putting out quality work helps.

Very useful tips! What are some of your current projects?

Continuing my flash fiction story a day, which I'll be putting out in my Stopwatch Stories collections. Vol. 2 is releasing April 5. I start grad school in April as well. As soon as I finish the rewrite of my first two Tears of Rage books for WordFire press, who picked up the series, I'm going to try and tackle Halloween Jack and the Red Emperor.

Sounds like you have a lot of irons in the fire, and having read the first in the Halloween Jack series, I'm excited for more! Thanks so much for your answers! 

For those interested in some gritty fantasy, Mr. Gallowglas's serialized novel Dead Weight is available on Amazon. Or, feel free to check out some of his other series:

First Chosen Once We Were Like Wolves Arms of the Storm
Tears of Rage (3 books)
3.88 avg rating — 377 ratings

Halloween Jack and the Devi... Halloween Jack and the Curs...
Halloween Jack (2 books)
4.07 avg rating — 129 ratings

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Review of CASH KAT by Linda Joy Singleton

A few months back, I featured THE CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB series by Linda Joy Singleton. She also writes picture books, and I told her I'd be happy to post a review of her latest book, CASH KAT:

Review of CASH KAT:

Kat and Gram Hatter are all set for a day of picking up litter at the park. While there, Kat finds a variety of coins, and Gram helps her measure how much they're worth. Five pennies equal a nickel, five nickels equal a quarter, and so on. The illustrations are very helpful to help children understand the value of money and how it adds up. Kat is also wonderful to watch, especially when she decides what to do with her new-found treasure. Math activities at the end make this book a great choice for libraries, especially those enacting homework programs. The engaging illustrations and digestible text will also appeal to a wide variety of readers. Recommended for ages 6-8.

For more about Linda Joy Singleton and her books, you can visit

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

BOUNDERS by Monica Tesler

When the ARC for BOUNDERS passed my desk, the first thing that drew me in was the cover. That was immediately followed by the story, and I was quick to order copies for the Sacramento Public Library.

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve brought together the first team of cadets, called Bounders, to be trained as high-level astronauts.

Twelve-year-old Jasper is part of this team being sent out into space. After being bullied back on Earth, Jasper is thrilled to have something new and different to do with other kids who are more like him. While learning all about the new technologies and taking classes in mobility—otherwise known as flying with jetpacks—Jasper befriends the four other students in his pod and finally feels like he has found his place in the world.

But then Jasper and his new friends learn that they haven’t been told everything about Earth Force. They weren’t brought to space for astronaut training, but to learn a new, highly classified brain-sync technology that allows them to manipulate matter and quantum bound, or teleport. And it isn’t long before they find out this new technology was actually stolen from an alien society.

When Jasper and his friends discover the truth about why Earth Force needs them, they are faced with a choice: rebel against the academy that brought them together, or fulfill their duty and protect the planet at all costs.

I contacted Monica for an interview to find out more. Here's what she said!

According to your website, you worked as an attorney for more than fifteen years. In what ways, if any, has this influenced your writing, and can you tell us more about your journey toward publication?

Overall, my experience as a practicing attorney has been a great asset in my fiction writing. Legal writing is a core aspect of my job as a lawyer, and I’ve spent years honing my skillset. At this point, the mechanics of writing are very automatic, and that gives me great freedom to relax into a story as I work on a fiction project.

Of course, there were some conventions I had to unlearn when I moved into the realm of fiction writing, like the reluctance to use contractions. The hardest habit for me to break was double spacing after the period at the end of a sentence. For a long time I tried to switch back and forth, employing different writing styles for the two different audiences, but I recently decided to use the fiction writing conventions almost all of the time. I figure I’ve been practicing law long enough that I can get away with a bit of informality.

In terms of my journey to publication, I wrote most of BOUNDERS on the commuter boat, travelling from my suburban coastal community to my job in Boston. In late 2013, I signed with my literary agent, David Dunton of Harvey Klinger, Inc. The book was acquired by Simon and Schuster in 2014.

I love how your creative process involved unlearning and breaking out of boxes. And BOUNDERS has a great premise--I was especially intrigued by aspect of manipulating matter to involve space travel. How did this idea originate, and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished?

I love to read about developments in technology and science. A few years ago I stumbled upon an article about quantum entanglement. The notion of related atoms in two separate locations fascinated me. My imagination stepped in, and I fantasized about quantum entanglement as a basis for space travel, and the idea for the quantum bounding ships took form. As a story started to bloom in my brain, I pushed my imagination even further into the fantastical, wondering what quantum entanglement might look like if mastered by a highly advanced civilization. That’s the origin of the alien biotechnology used by the cadets in BOUNDERS to manipulate matter and bound without a ship.

Speaking of quantum entanglement, I love your website, especially the home page. What recommendations (if any) do you have for authors interested in setting up an online presence? 

Thanks so much! I’m really happy with my website. The vision was mine, but I worked with a very talented designer, Hafsah Faizal of Icey Designs, to bring it together. I’m also on Twitter and Instagram and have an author Facebook page.

My advice to authors interested in setting up or increasing their online presence is to see what the options are and choose what feels comfortable. I’m not extremely active on social media compared to some authors, but I do post and interact on a regular basis. Social media is constantly changing. The platform that’s hot today, may be stale tomorrow. So I’m reminding myself that it’s important to stay flexible and aware of new platforms as they arise.

Having an online presence requires a time commitment, so it’s important not to overextend. For example, when developing my website, I was faced with the question of whether to start a blog. I knew I wouldn’t be able to make the commitment necessary for a successful blog, so I instead included a “News” section. That way, I have the flexibility of posting updates when I want without the pressure of a blog schedule.

Sounds like a great way to maximize your impact. What are some of your current projects? Will BOUNDERS have a sequel, and if so, can you tell us anything about it yet?

BOUNDERS is the first in at least a three book series, so there will be more space adventures to come! The second book, BOUNDERS: THE TUNDRA TRIALS will be released in early 2017. Most of the story is still top secret, but I’ll share one tidbit. A large part of the story takes place on another planet—one not visited by the characters in the first book. Any guesses? You’ll have to read to find out!

I can't wait! Thanks, Monica, for such great answers!

To grab BOUNDERS for yourself (and perhaps unlock some secrets in THE TUNDRA TRIALS), click the links below:

About Monica:

Monica Tesler lives in a coastal community south of Boston with her husband and their two boys. She earned her bachelors and law degree from the University of Michigan, and she has worked as an attorney for more than fifteen years. She writes on the commuter boat, in coffee shops, and at her kitchen table. She tries to meditate every day, but often ends up fantasizing about space, time travel, or strange lands, both real and imagined.
BOUNDERS is the first book in her debut, middle grade science fiction adventure series from Simon & Schuster/Aladdin.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

REAWAKENED by Colleen Houck

I've been a fan of Colleen Houck ever since Tiger's Curse, and if you haven't read her books yet, they offer wonderful examples of effective world-building. I had the fortune of meeting her at the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association (NCIBA) conference last fall, where I saw her newest book, REAWAKENED:

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can't imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

Colleen also answered some interview questions!

According to your website, you've lived in a wide variety of places and have varied interests. In what ways, if any, have these fueled your creative journey, and do you have strategies for when your creative well runs dry? 

I pretty much immerse myself in storytelling. Whether that's through books, plays, television, or movies, I'm always studying the art of the story. Because of this I never really get to sit back and just enjoy myself. I'm always analyzing, looking for cool ideas or phrases, or interesting ways to create havoc for my characters. If, for some reason, that isn't enough, I also use Pinterest a lot. I'm a very visual person and Pinterest just inspires me. It's also a great way to connect with fans who are interested in seeing just how the story develops. I use it in talking with artists and editors as well. It's a very helpful tool for an author.

That's what I've heard! What did you find most fascinating about writing REAWAKENED and what do you want readers to take away when they're finished reading it?

I love Egyptian mythology. The whole idea of pyramids and mummies is thrilling! At the heart of all my books though is a love story. While my characters see and do lots of amazing and sometimes frightening things, the take away I hope they remember is that love drives everything.

It certainly does. Speaking of your characters, I love Lily's voice. Did she come to you fully formed or did she develop as you wrote her?

She was a pretty solid character in my mind when she stepped out of the taxi in the opening scene. The mummies were a bit more difficult to flesh out, no pun intended. The way she does her hair, the kind of clothing she wears, and her home life really spoke to me. We aren't anything alike on the surface but she's really spunky and I like her a lot.

That's what I like about her too. The sequel, RECREATED, comes out this August. In what ways does this build on the world you created in REAWAKENED and what advice, if any, do you have for writers in the throes of creating sequels? 

Both Recreated and Reignited (the novella) come out this summer. For the novella, you'll get to see the origin story of the main bad guy in the series. I'm telling everyone that they really won't understand everything if they miss out on that one. In Recreated, Lily comes into her own. She steps into a new role and really becomes a hero. We'll meet some new characters as well that will be very important in the series. My advice for writing sequels is, always keep them guessing. I love throwing a monkey wrench into the works and turning things upside down. For me it's very important to visualize the end. If you write with the end in mind, sequels are easy, they're just continuations of the one big, epic story you're telling.

I can't wait to find the other monkey wrenches you've thrown in! Thanks, Colleen, for taking the time to answer questions.

To grab REAWAKENED for yourself, click the links below:

Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Or click below to get a hold of her Tiger Saga series:


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound


Buy: ~ Barnes & Noble ~  IndieBound

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

KILL THE BOY BAND by Goldy Moldavsky

I randomly met Goldy Moldavsky at last year's BEA, in an autograph line for Libba Bray. The more she described KILL THE BOY BAND, the more I couldn't wait to read it, and when I saw an ARC at a Scholastic booth at a conference the following year, I grabbed it immediately. It debuted last week, and already has holds at the Sacramento Public Library.

Okay, so just know from the start that it wasn't supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near The Ruperts, our favorite boy band.

We didn't mean to kidnap one of the guys. It kind of, sort of happened that way. But now he's tied up in our hotel room. And the worst part of all, it's Rupert P. All four members of The Ruperts might have the same first name, but they couldn't be more different. And Rupert P. is the biggest flop out of the whole group.

We didn't mean to hold hostage a member of The Ruperts, I swear. At least, I didn't. We are fans. Okay, superfans who spend all of our free time tweeting about the boys and updating our fan tumblrs. But so what, that's what you do when you love a group so much it hurts.

How did it get this far? Who knows. I mean midterms are coming up. I really do not have time to go to hell.

Goldy also answered some interview questions:

Who are your top five favorite authors and in what ways do they ignite your creativity?  

This is a tough question-- there are so many authors that I love. In the YA world I will read anything by Jandy Nelson and Gayle Forman. Nelson writes contemporary but her work still feels like there’s an element of magic to it. When I read her I really feel like the story she’s telling is one that I have never heard before. And I just love what Forman does with the relationships in her novels. I get so attached to her characters. And Libba Bray. I love that she can genre-hop and that her stories always have humor to them. Outside the YA world, I love Junot Diaz and Chuck Palahniuk. I find myself coming back to Palahniuk a lot when I’m trying to think of a new idea. My own work is nothing like his but I love how you can be influenced by someone and still end up doing something totally different. I love how shocking he is and how creative his descriptions are. I can taste his books. But my all-time favorite author is John Irving. Irving made me love books. (That’s six authors for the price of five!)

There's definitely an element of magic of Nelson's fiction--I also heard she wrote I'll Give You the Sun with the curtains drawn. And speaking of great voices, I really admired yours in KILL THE BOY BAND. Did the characters come to you immediately, or did they form while you wrote them? 

Thanks! Characters usually come alive for me as I write. A lot of times the plot informs what the characters will be like, or which characters I’ll need. There were a couple of characters in KTBB that didn’t show up in the novel until a few drafts in just because I thought the book could use a bit more “noise,” and they turned out to be crucial. But I knew from the beginning that I wanted four girls at the center so I started the novel with four girls even though I wasn’t sure what their personalities were at first. They took shape with every new draft.

I love when characters reveal unexpected layers, and yours were so unique I couldn't put them down! Last month, there was a Goodreads giveaway for KILL THE BOY BAND. What other promotional methods have you used, and what have you learned so far from the lead-up toward your book's debut?

I am SO SO fortunate to be with Scholastic, who have been taking such good care of me and KTBB. As a debut author who really doesn’t know what she’s doing at all they’ve really taken me under their wing. We’ve been giving out ARCs and bookplates and I’ve been fortunate enough to end up on some pretty incredible lists with incredible authors. As for what I’ve learned, I guess it’s that it passes really quickly so soak it up, enjoy it, and be open to everything.

Sounds like a plan! What are some of your current projects?

My next book is a comedy but much lighter in tone than KTBB even though it exists in the same universe. It takes place at a summer camp . That’s all I can say!

I'm so glad you're continuing the unique humor from KTBB! Thanks, Goldy, for such great answers!

To grab KILL THE BOY BAND for yourself, click the links below: