Crazy 8 Press Author Spotlight: Russ Colchamiro

Here’s a fun Q&A from my pals at Crazy 8 Press, about what I’m up to …

Hi folks. As part of our Author Spotlight, we’ll be spending some time this month with Russ Colchamiro. So far he’s been spending his Crazy 8 Press time squarely in the scifi world, and what a time it’s been. We have a new Q& A with Russ, where he unveils all sorts of goodies. Take a look …

Crazy 8: Let’s jump right in. Your new book is Crossline. Give us the quick rundown. What’s it about?

RussCrossline is a fun scifi adventure — think Firefly meets Back to the Future.

But to flesh out it a bit, Marcus Powell is a modern day space pilot, who through mysterious circumstances is forced through a wormhole and into a parallel Earth, where he ends up in the middle of a war he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back on our Earth, we learn the history of Buddy Rheams Jr, the poor, uneducated gas attendant from nowhere Texas, who stumbled into owning oil wells, became a tycoon, and used his wealth and influence to create the space program and develop the technology that ultimately displaced Marcus Powell in time and space.

Throughout the novel we learn how and why the lives of these two very different men intersect, and what that will mean for both of them.

Crazy 8: Thematically Crossline is about discovering just how far you would go to return to your family, when separated through incredible circumstances. How has that theme affected you personally? Why is that theme important to you?

Russ: As a father of two young children, my worldview has obviously changed. Each day I’m more embedded with my own family, and the notion of being ripped away from them is sobering. WritingCrossline actually helped me gain clarity. It’s one thing to say, “I’d do anything for my family.” But what does that really mean? It sounds big and important and noble to say the words out loud, but if put to the test, ‘anything’ becomes something specific, and that’s when we strip away the clutter. As a husband and father, I’ve come to realize just how unimportant most other endeavors can be. That’s not to say I think other people or activities don’t matter. They do! It’s just that there’s lots of noise out there, and when I’m calm, and let the distractions pass me by, it’s easier to understand and embrace what matters most.

Crazy 8: Did you base any of your characters on real people? If so, how much of the ‘real’ person made it onto the page? Do you have any guilt pangs about revealing their personality for others to read?

Russ: Chill, who is sort of the Obi Wan Kenobi-type character in Crossline, is based on a real person, someone who has had an incredible influence on me. I can say without exaggeration that without this person, my life would have taken a very different turn, and my guess is that I would have struggled for a much longer time to find my way.

In terms of how I wrote the character, Chill is obviously not the same as the real person; I made very distinct changes. But Chill was my way of honoring this man, who I respect immensely, and whose guidance and wisdom has helped shaped my views, both philosophically and how I approach my day to day. He’s a great man. My intention was to have those qualities influence the other characters in Crossline, predominantly Powell.

Crazy 8: What did you edit OUT of this book? Are you saving that material for sequels or another project? Or did the scene/character just not work in the context of this book, or perhaps just not work at all?

Russ: There were a handful of additional scenes with Chandra Powell, the wife of Marcus Powell. I liked the scenes — they built up the character and added more humor — but ultimately they slowed the pace of the novel. Chandra’s a great character. She’s strong and feisty and in a very real way is one of the novel’s true heroes. But I needed to keep the plot moving along. Besides, she gets plenty of ‘screen time’ when it counts most.

Crazy 8: Switching gears a bit … your first book was Finders Keepers Now that you’ve had time to reflect on it, and knowing what you know now about your craft and the audience’s reactions, what would you do differently if you had the chance to start over and write it again fresh?

Russ: Even though Finders Keepers is a flat-out comedy, as with Crossline, there are multiple characters, and we see the story from their distinct points of view. As such, we jump from character to character. I really like this style of storytelling, but if I had to do again, I would have spent longer stretches with each character in Finders Keepers as we’re first introduced to them, so that the reader can really sink in and ‘get’ where they’re coming from. Looking back I can see that maybe I was zipping along a little faster than I intended. The readers can ultimately catch up, but I would have taken a deeper breath to start the novel. It’s still super fun, tho!

Crazy 8: Authors are often also rabid readers. What do you read? Which books/authors best inform your writing style?

Russ: The Stand, by Stephen King, is my fiction bible. Great storytelling, great characters. Vivid imagery. I refer to it often. Also, any number of novels by Christopher Moore, who for my money is the funniest author out there. Lamb, You Suck, and Fool are favorites. I also love the biographies of David McCullough, including Truman, the Great Bridge, and the Jamestown Flood. Though fact-based, they read like mysterious, and have helped me see how to structure my own stories.

Crazy 8: What book — which is relatively unknown to others — do you strongly recommend that others read? Why?

Russ: Body of a Girl, by Leah Stewart. It’s about a young, female crime reporter who gets too close to a story she’s investigating about the murder of another young woman, who she feels was a kindred spirit of sorts. The reporter loses herself in the investigation, and finds herself delving into some murky waters. It’s taught and compelling. One of my favorite books of the last ten years or so.

Crazy 8: Last question. Shameless plug time. Where can we find your new book, and how can we, as readers, most easily interact with you?

Russ: Finders Keepers and Crossline are both available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, as well as through Crazy 8 Press and my Web site.

I’m out there on social media, so for those who want to connect, here’s the best places to find me:

@authorduderuss (Twitter)

www.facebook.com/RussColchamiroAuthor (Facebook)

www.russcolchamiro.com

www.crazy8press.com

@crazy8press (Twitter)

And for extra fun:

Check out the Crossline book trailer.

Enjoy the Finders Keepers book trailer.

 

This blog was originally posted on the Crazy 8 Press web site: http://www.crazy8press.com/2014/04/21/author-spotlight-russ-colchamiro/

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/

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