Meet the Author: Russ Colchamiro at Twisted World Villains and Vixens Con

Hey folks … I’ll be attending the Twisted World Villains and Vixens con Friday – Sunday in Philly. In addition to sharing a table with Sawney Hatton, selling books, and doing signings, I’ll be doing a reading and speaking on panels. Here’s my schedule:

http://thetwistedworld.com/

Friday, March 28
7:45 pm – 845 pm
Summit 6
How to write good villains & Killing your characters

Saturday, March 29
3 pm – 4 pm
Summit 1
Mythological Villains

Saturday, March 29
5 pm – 530 pm
Summit 11
Reading from Finders Keepers, Crossline

Author Talk: Q&A with Sawney Hatton

Howdy folks. I will be appearing at the Twisted World Villains & Vixens convention in Philadelphia the weekend of March 28-30, and will be sharing a table with author Sawney Hatton. So we figured it was an opportune time to check in and see what that crazy sonuva gun is up to:

Q: So… Sawney Hatton–if that’s your real name–you’ve primarily been a screenwriter for the last decade. What motivated you to write your first novel, DEAD SIZE?

Sawney_Hatton

SH: At the height of my obscurity working as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (credited under my other real name, which, frankly, is also suspect), I penned several spec scripts that went unproduced. Of these, DEAD SIZE was an original story I had been quite fond of. When I decided to take the plunge into novel writing (me being a ravenous reader of novels), I selected the script to be the blueprint for my debut opus, as it features all the elements I love most in a narrative: dark comedy, mystery, horror, fantastical creatures, artistic pretensions, and weird sex.

Q: Given your switch in mediums, what was the biggest challenge for you as a writer to pen a novel… other than your obvious talent impairment?

SH: A screenplay is pretty much bare-bones storytelling–you’re concerned with plot structure, action descriptions, character development, and dialogue. But a screenplay doesn’t read like a novel. It doesn’t have the same breadth of detail, the same immersive emotional impact. When writing a novel, you’re putting flesh and blood and guts and hair onto the bones of a story. You can say so much more in a novel, and for me that’s what makes writing one so challenging. You have to determine how much is too much, how little is not enough. You have to figure out what makes your story flow best. Every word–or omission of them–counts.  Dead Size 400x533_rev

Q: We see that you’re sharing a table at the Twisted World Villains & Vixens convention in Philadelphia the weekend of March 28-30 with author Russ Colchamiro, he of FINDERS KEEPERS and CROSSLINE fame. Why would you even consider pairing up with such a devious bastard, much less do it?

SH: He paid me, up front, in champagne wishes and caviar dreams.

Q: We understand the two of you collaborated years ago on a short film that won some kind of twerky award for Best Movie or something equally meaningless. How did you two boneheads pull that off? I mean… seriously?

A: It is true Russ and I teamed up to produce a Twilight Zone-inspired video short called “Light Chasm” that went on to garner major acclaim at some performing arts high school in New Hampshire, I think. The work beat out 3, maybe 4 other submissions. We pulled it off the old-fashioned way: we used free equipment and paid nobody. We did have our creative differences; namely, Russ couldn’t act and I couldn’t direct. It was obviously a winning combination.

Q: Last question (two parts): Why on Earth should anyone spend their time and money on anything you’ve written? And, especially, what sort of serious mental or emotional problems would motivate someone to actually stop by your table and say hello at Twisted World?

SH: People should spend their time and money on my work because I am really tight with Ammit, the Egyptian devourer of souls. You snub my books, your soul is screwed for eternity. I’m not playing here, people.

I encourage all those with any serious mental and/or emotional problems to stop by my table and enlist. I am building an army of the imbalanced, which I expect will be advantageous when I declare war on ourselves.

About the Author: Sawney Hatton

Sawney Hatton is an author, an arsehole, and famed hunter of the Giant Beaver. Other incarnations of Sawney have written screenplays, produced corporate videos, and played the banjo and sousaphone (not at the same time). He laughs at death, which has made for some very awkward funeral services.

You can follow Sawney Hatton on Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads. His debut novel, DEAD SIZE, is available online most everywhere in eBook and paperback. His short collection of short fiction, WHITE SPACE & OTHER STORIES, can be found exclusively on Amazon (eBook only). Visit his website at www.sawneyhatton.com

 

 

In The Writer’s Chair: Big Ideas Using Few Words

As an author, when you start out with an idea, you think that writing the novel is the hard part. But then you do it, you have your novel, and then … it’s time to sell. To market.

When I first started talking to people about Finders Keepers, my ‘elevator pitch’, such that it was, lasted about half an hour. Okay, maybe not a half hour, but it took me so long to explain what it was about that I exhausted myself.

Why? Because I was trying to tell it all. And that never works.

For those of you who have read it, and for those who haven’t, Finders Keepers is a raunchy scifi backpacking comedy with a lot characters, told from various points of view, wherein various story lines slowly but surely come together into a pretty crazy – and satisfying – conclusion.

So there I was, fumbling my way through the description, until it became clear that I really had to figure this out.

In total I probably spent the better part of three months scripting, and revising, and re-writing myself until finally I could recite the essence of the novel that both hooks a potential reader, and stays true to the content.

Here’s how I talk about it now:

Finders Keepers is loosely based on a series of backpacking trips that I took through Europe and New Zealand, set against the quest for a jar that contains the Universe’s DNA. It’s like American Pie/Superbad meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Those two sentences have helped me connect with a lot of new readers, and sell a whole bunch of books.

Just two sentences.

But coming up with those two sentences? It took a ton of work, and an endeavor I’m proud of.

Is it my personal best?

Not sure.

But I’ll take it.

 

* This post originally appeared on the Crazy 8 Press Web site at http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/03/11/personal-best-the-finders-keepers-elevator-pitch/

 

 

The Writer’s Tale: A Love Story

So far my novelist career has been comprised of outrageous science fiction adventures, a mix of screwball comedies and multi-dimensional chaos.

But within those pages … are love stories.

In my scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, Donald and Danielle are newlyweds in Eternity, who, through bizarre machinations, accidentally knock a jar of the Universe’s DNA into the still for  ming Earth.

As these two characters fret about the disaster they’ve caused, they individually go to great lengths to protect the other. As Donald says at one point of Danielle, “She’s not just wife, she’s my girl.” But when he says those things … that’s really me talking about my own wife, Liz.

We’ve been together now for more than 13 years, and have two children together. Yes, she’s the mother of my children and indeed she is my wife. And she’s my girl.

Switching gears to my scifi adventure Crossline, our hero, space pilot Marcus Powell, is displaced into a modern-day, parallel Earth, desperately trying to get back home to his wife and daughter. When he laments his predicament — that he is responsible, at least in part, for his own misfortune — he’s expressing his innate desire to be reunited with his girls. Nothing else to him matters.

When I wrote Crossline, it was always me — as a husband and father — thinking about how I’d feel and act if I was ever separated from my family, and what I’d be willing to do to be reunited with them.

My novels have been described in many ways, but no matter what adjectives one might use, I know that in my writer’s heart, there are love stories within those pages.

 

*Note – this blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/02/17/the-writers-tale-a-love-story/

Meet the Author: Russ Colchamiro at Farpoint SciFi Convention

Howdy folks!

If you’re planning to be in the Baltimore area next weekend — February 14-16 — you can find me there at the annual Farpoint science fiction convention. I’ll be mixing and mingling all weekend, signing copies of Finders Keepers and Crossline.

And — if you fancy such an endeavor — you can come hear me chat about writing and such on the following panels:

Farpoint Book Fair          Fri 2/14/14    10 pm     Dulaney Valley 1

Crazy 8 Press                   Sat 2/15/14     1 pm       Chesapeake 1

Crazy 8 Press
Authograph Table           Sat 2/15/15     2 pm     Atrium Front

Orphan Black:
Send in the Clones         Sun 2/16/14     Noon    Ridgely 1

Writing Humor               Sun 2/16/14     3 pm    Chesapeak

Hope to see you there!

Mark of a New Trilogy … or Aperitif? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’

Some movie trilogies peak in the middle, such as The Empire Strikes Back, the second installment of the Star Wars saga. And others really nail it in the final outing, as with The Return of the King, the third movie in The Lord of the Rings epic.

ESB2

The same principle can hold true in music.

Chris Daughtry burst on the scene in ‘06 with the solid, self-titled rock album Daughtry, after he rose to fame with his run on American Idol. The band’s follow-up album, Leave this Town, was an overall improvement, although very similar in feel and tone to the first.

But much like with The Lord of the Rings, Chris and the boys really brought it all together with his third — and IMHO, best album — the vastly underrated and underappreciated Break the Spell. A combination of soaring guitars, falsetto choruses, sing-alongs, and rolling thunder. return of king

So how does this tie back to the movies?

Intentional or not, Daughtry’s first three albums form a trilogy  — an evolution of musical creativity, telling one, longer epic story with a beginning, middle, and end. The first song on Daughtry? The ironically titled It’s Not Over. The final song on Break the Spell? Spaceship. That’s quite an evolution.

And now the boys are back with their fourth album, Baptized.

The title is no accident. Chris has re-emerged with a completely different kind of album. Gone (for the most part) is the growling rocker, replaced instead with a pop storyteller, as if Chris called upon his inner Rhianna, Fun!, and Katy Perry, and comingled them with his matured Hall of Fame voice, more engaging and emotionally resonant than ever.

baptizedClick here for my album review.

But with this bold new sound, a question comes to mind: Is Baptized now the beginning of a new trilogy of albums? Is this the new mojo we can expect from him? Or is Baptized an aperitif? A palate cleanser? A way for Chris to internalize the first trilogy of albums, take a (mostly) fun-filled getaway, and move on from them as an artist, so that he can emerge with an even more fully realized writing style?

Only time will tell.

But regardless of whether we’re experiencing the first installment of a new trilogy, or just a one-off album … I’m strapped in, like a Renegade, along for the ride.

It is said that even the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Where will Chris’ travels take us next? Have we really been Baptized?

Let’s find out.

Traitor? Hater? Or Bold New Sound? Chris Daughtry’s ‘Baptized’

Sure I played drums in a high school rock band, and though I had some ability, I wasn’t a big time talent like Chris Daughtry. And yet I find myself relating to his experience with his new album, Baptized. I’ll explain:

baptized

Last year I launched my newest science fiction adventure novel, Crossline. To date the reviews have been mostly excellent.

Mostly.

A few months ago, while doing promotion, one reader absolutely ripped me to pieces — I mean scorched me — saying that I had betrayed him, that I stole his money, having deceived him into buying such a terrible book, and that I should be ashamed of myself as an author for writing such drivel.

Why was he so angry? Why did he feel swindled? Crossline full cover.psd

Because the novel I delivered wasn’t the novel he was expecting. For those of you new to my work, my first novel Finders Keepers is a raunchy, science fiction backpacking comedy — think American Pie/Superbad meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s an all-out comedy that even drew some interest from Hollywood. This reader was drawn to my catalog based on Finders Keepers.

But while Crossline is filled with humorous moments — it might even make you laugh out loud in places; I hope it does — unlike Finders Keepers, it’s a science fiction adventure set, at least in part, during a civil war. And though the novel is absolutely loads of fun — with a host of female characters who are forces to be reckoned with, and are in many ways the true heroes of the story — during war, bad things happen, and sometimes to characters you like, or even love.

Which brings me back to Baptized.

Daughtry’s first three albums are rock albums. They kick ass, to different degrees. So … like many of his fans, when Baptized came out with a bold new sound, I was … shocked. I admit it. I didn’t quite know what I was listening to.

But as I had been through this experience myself, with my own work, and trusted that Chris would once again deliver the goods, I listened to the album, a song at a time, and then the entire playlist, over and over.

What’s my verdict now that I’ve gotten over my initial expectations, that I’ve accepted what Daughtry actually gave us, rather than what I thought I would get?

Thumbs up. cd boys

Chris and the boys have delivered a fun, radio-friendly pop album that shares some karmic DNA with Rhianna, Katy Perry, Fun! and others, with a mostly angst-less set list. I think this review here is pretty close to my own views, so I’ll pass it along for a more thorough song by song analysis.

With that, for me a few standouts on Baptized include the catchy, destined-to-be-a-hit “I’ll Fight”, about always being there for your kids (Chris I and both have young twins, so I relate), as well as “Cinderella”, a (mandolin?) based ditty with some snappy vocal hooks that could easily fit into Jack Johnson’s play list. “Long Live Rock and Roll” is an acoustic, thumping ode, and jest, about the joys of rock n’ roll, while “The World We Knew” and “High Above the Ground” are joyful reminders to embrace your moments while you have them.

chrisD

I’ll also call attention to “Traitor”, the album’s one true rage against the machine. A sound I would have expected to come from Nine Inch Nails, it’s actually not quite in sync with the overall tenor of the album … but wow. I’ve rarely ever heard a song that conveys so much seething ire over feeling betrayed, combined with a ‘don’t f**k with me’ attitude. When Chris sings, “Are you sure you want to play this game?”, there’s a lilting in his voice like he’s just daring you to come at him. You know he means business.

And if I had one ‘wish’ for any song on the album? It’s that Chris and the boys go all out on “Undefeated”. It’s a good, rousing tune as is, about staying on your feet no matter what life throws at you. But I submit that if re-recorded in a concert hall and accompanied by a 50-piece orchestra and an equally sized choir, it would have the scope and gravitas — the soaring power — to become EPIC. chrisd2

So where does that leave me?

Baptized may not be the rocker Chris has typically delivered in the past — it wasn’t what I expected — but it’s a damn good entry in the Daughtry catalog. You can dance a little, groove a little, and, when the album really hits its stride, clap your hands and smile.

And as for the reader who initially tore into me because he felt betrayed? In time, I won him over, too.

🙂

 

My New Year’s Resolution – Listen to Hank

When I think back to a year ago — one year ago exactly — I was in a similar, but distinctly different place in the world.

I was geared up, feeling good, had lots of positive mojo going, and beyond work and the family, I knew that 2013 was going to be a huge year for me on the writing front. I knew it in my bones.

I was about to finalize Crossline, my first original novel with Crazy 8 Press, and I was working on the re-launch of my debut novel, Finders Keepers, also with Crazy 8 Press.

And then ……. I got bronchitis. I typically don’t get more than one or two colds a year, but I managed to pick up some super strain from my kids, and I was really sick.

For four. Straight. Months.

Not fun.

Then, the day I finally stopped coughing, and felt good … I got nailed with some wicked stomach virus that wiped me out for three days. Grrrrr.

I ultimately got my health back, and I did, in fact, release both books through Crazy 8 Press, to critical praise. But I was also in the process of selling my apartment in Queens, and buying a house in New Jersey, which also meant packing, and moving, and lawyers, accountants, realtors, plumbers, electricians, painters, and so much more.

By the time 2013 ended, I was simply exhausted.

So what’s my New Year’s Resolution for 2014?

To remain as healthy as I can, to enjoy my new home, and continue to watch my children grow and thrive.

And while I’m at it, keep building the buzz on Crossline and Finders Keepers, do as many signings, and appear at as many cons as I can, and debut the Finders Keepers sequel, which, if all goes well, will be showing up this fall.

Ambitious? Maybe.

But you know what? If all my authordude endeavors weren’t just a little bit, well … crazy, and at least kinda BIG … then it just wouldn’t be any fun, now would it?

Because as my Finders Keepers giver-of-wisdom Hank would say, “If it comes too easy, Kid, it probably ain’t worth doing in the first place. So stop yer belly achin’ and go get it done.”

Thanks for the advice, Hank. I’m doing just that.

My New Year’s Resolution is now officially under way.

 

* Note: This blog originally appeared on the Crazy 8 Press web site at: http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/01/13/my-new-year-resolution-listen-to-hank/

Review: Orphan Black – Accept No Subtitute

Although I’m a little behind this season I’ve really been enjoying Arrow, and based on how it’s developed so far I’m confident it will keep getting better and better. Agents of SHIELD is, well, let’s just walk on by and leave that to others to pick on.

But if we’re talking about genre shows that I love, where I just can’t get enough, the conversation begins and ends with Orphan Black, on BBC America.

Orphan Black

Orphan Black is a dark, twisty, fast-paced conspiracy thriller with maybe the best performance … ever? … by an actress in any show, and I would argue the best of any genre show for sure. Tatiana Maslany is nothing short of brilliant playing nine — yep, nine — totally unique versions of the same character. I have no idea how they pulled it off, but man oh man they did.

But it’s not a one-woman show. It’s got a full cast of characters you either root for, or against — a shout out to Jordan Gavaris as Felix – and whereas they could have dragged out this 10 episode season into multiple seasons, just to milk it, they went full throttle and brought us so far so fast, without ever leaving us behind, that you just have to hang on try to catch your breath.

If there’s a problem with Orphan Black, it’s that they actually did pack so much story into season 1, it will be difficult to replicate the quality over season 2. But if there’s any show that might just pull it off, I’m putting my money on Orphan Black.

Tatiana Maslany?

Oh. Yes, please. Just tell me when and where Orphan Black is airing next, and I’m showing up.

* Note: This blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press Web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2013/12/16/orphan-black-accept-no-substitute/

Author’s Inspiration: Taking a Stand for Stephen King

I’ll just come right out and say it.

I rarely read Stephen King. Not because he isn’t good. It’s that I don’t like horror.  So me and his stories … not so much. And therein lays the irony. Here’s why:

As part of our Crazy 8 Press theme this month, we challenged one another to blog about a piece of writing that inspires us as authors ourselves. The_Stand_Uncut

In my previous life I received a degree in Secondary English Education from Buffalo State College. My plan — as man much younger than I am today — was to become a full-time high school English teacher. But after graduation I switched gears and went into journalism instead, and now I write novels.

Anyhoo, as part of my teacher’s course load at the time I was required to take a class in teaching writing. Enter said mad author scientist Stephen King. For my final paper — which counted for half of my semester’s grade — I wrote about (and gave a presentation on) the inherent value in teaching The Stand.

In particular I noted the epic novel’s modeling of dialogue, setting, tension, and character development. Granted, I found the book’s ending a bit weak, but the first 850 pages — eight hundred and fifty! — are absolutely mesmerizing. Trashcan Man. Fran. The Walking Dude, a.k.a. Randall Flagg. Whoa. I’ll never forget them.

The opening scene at the military site. The cough in the movie theater. And that heart-thumping trek through the Midtown Tunnel? Yikes. Talk about feeling like you’re in a moment — a moment so vivid and intense I could barely breathe — or wait to see what happened next.

But let’s return to Buffalo State College. I remember the scene vividly. It was the fall of 1993, in the English Department. The corner classroom was large, so there were many windows, and though the day was overcast, a beam of light shone on the floor, at my feet. I took it as a sign.

Because back then, the ‘Stephen King is a literary doofus-horror-hack-loser-disgrace-to-all-writers and writing’ campaign among the literati was in full effect, and as an emerging English teacher, not overtly championing classic ‘literature’ was equally popular.

So … yeah… I had a little edge to me that day.

But if you’re going to stand up among your peers and profess the writing of Stephen King as a viable English teaching tool … you gotta just go for it. Can’t hold back.

So as I stood before my classmates, and announced my topic, I endured the expected gaggle of snickers, eye rolls, and thought balloons casting all sorts of clever insults my way: Stephen King? I think Colchamrio will be pumping gas before teaching class! Ha!

But you know what? I didn’t care.

To this day, any time I get hit with writer’s block, I stop what I’m doing, reach up to my bookshelf, open to any random page from my hardbound copy of The Stand, and within moments I’m inspired. I must have done this a dozen times as I wrote Finders Keepers, and another handful as I wrote Crossline.

If I have an author’s inspiration bible … The Stand is it. It has served me well, and continues to do so.

As for my Stephen King presentation? I endured.

And I got an A.

 

* Note: This blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press Web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2013/10/21/authors-inspiration-taking-a-stand-for-stephen-king/

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