Friday, December 20, 2013

Editing sure is fun, isn't it?

It's been a while since I posted an update, so I thought I'd jump back into the blog studio and explain some of what's been going on the last couple weeks. 

It's been something of a whirlwind, between editing manuscripts, working on query letters, crafting pitches, and narrowly avoiding the clutches of a cold, I feel like I'm only just starting to come up for air. 

It's a good problem to have, of course, since I had six agents and editors request sample chapters for my Pitchmas pitch, which was selected as one of the top 75 pitches to be featured on the blog.  I've also had a request for a full manuscript for an old vampire novel I've had kicking around for a while.  I recently did a full overhaul of it, cutting out a couple plot lines that dragged down the pacing, and adding a new chapter that I felt the book was missing.  It's always rather sad when you have to cut out one of your favorite chapters, but when you re-read the book and realize you didn't miss anything by losing the chapter...well, that pretty much says it all, doesn't it?

Other than that, I've been working on some short stories (I've got a deadline I have to hit for a ghost story), and making slow progress on a new paranormal book.  With any luck, I'll manage to scrounge up a bit more time to write in the coming weeks. 




Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Christmas Deal on Vampire Anthology Wrapped in Red

Two versions for the price of one.  More like "Gift-Wrapped in Red", am I right?  Anyone? 

Well, terrible pun aside, from now until Christmas, you can pick up a copy of the Amazon paperback version of Wrapped in Red (featuring 13 vampire stories, including one by yours truly), and get the Kindle version for free. 




Monday, December 2, 2013

My Interview with Author Adam Oster


I'm pleased to bring you my interview with the hilarious and talented Wisconsin-based writer, Adam Oster.  He's the author of the newly released The Agora Files, as well as superhero novel The Legend of Buddy Hero.


Hi, Adam!  I’m so glad you could join us here in the blog studio.   Make yourself comfortable.  Would you like some tea?  Fresh-baked peach cobbler?  Help yourself.  This is a combined interview and game show, where prizes may be awarded for great answers. The grand prize, should you win all the questions, is a signed copy of my upcoming self-help book, “How to Blame Other People And Feel Better About Yourself.”

Awesome!  I’ve been looking for a book like that.  I’m really good at the blaming part, but something about my WASP upbringing just doesn’t allow me to feel better about myself about anything that doesn’t involve a lot of personal pain and suffering.

When did you start writing fiction?  Was there anything in particular that sparked your interest?

Perhaps my start came with my youth as a perpetual liar.  I did spend a lot of time trying to make myself not appear nearly as nerdy and uninformed as I truly was.  However, I think it really came with the territory of how I spent my time as a kid.  I used to read a ton.  When I was a young buck, I was either sitting in front of a computer screen or burying my nose into a paperback.

I would seriously read anything.  I think that’s what initially started my interest in writing because I quickly found that there are a lot of bad books out there.  I thought I could do better.

At that young age, I found I couldn’t, but the idea of telling good stories continued.I didn’t begin any serious attempts at writing fiction until about ten years ago, my first attempt at a novel started around six years ago.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

I certainly can!

The Agora Files is a young adult novel set in the not-too-distant future of the United States.  Except this U.S. never really recovered from the end of World War II.  A little bit of The Hunger Games and a little bit of 1984 puts the novel’s main character, Cyrus, into a world where he’s basically on his own.  Of course…now that I’ve started, I see that I’ll go well beyond the “little” part of the question.  Here’s the jacket info:“Cyrus must run for his life, but can he run from love?

When dying alone on the hot sands of the Mohave Desert, Cyrus has no regrets. He loves a challenge. Being tasked with running from San Francisco to Boston in fifteen days, while the United States government and a host of bounty hunters hunt for him, sounds like fun. Being at death's door only a day into his trip doesn't faze him either. It's when he's joined by fellow runner Eve, bringing new emotions to the surface, his confidence cracks.”

Your previous novel, The Legend of Buddy Hero, is about superheroes.  Who is your favorite superhero of all time? (Besides Buddy, of course)  And for bonus points, do you have a favorite comic book movie?

Superman has always been my favorite.  I loved the character so much that I would read anything I could get my hands on about him.  Something about the fact that he’s not actually from this world, but would do anything to save it, just speaks worlds to me…even if most people write him off as just a boy scout in a flashier uniform.  Unfortunately, I’ve found that many folks who do the writing for the character see him more as the latter than I’d like.

Bonus points!  I probably have to come up with something obscure AND awesome to win this one, huh?

One of the biggest issues I see with comic book movies is that comic books tend to reflect our culture at the time.  The original Chris Reeve Superman film from back in 1978 was this epic sweeping film that is considered to be the template for many of the films to follow…you watch it today and it gets boring fast.  Films like Darkman, Tank Girl, the Tim Burton Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; they’re all a product of their generation and don’t always translate as well today.

I think that’s why I’m such a fan of the comedic superhero flick, Mystery Men, based on some of the most obscure comic book characters you can find.  It tends to be more of a reflection of the human condition in general and, in my opinion, holds up a ton better some of the others. I’ll be interested to see how the original X-Men trilogy looks in a couple decades once we’ve broken down a few more civil rights barriers.

Cliched question time: Being a dad, is it difficult to find time to write?  How do you manage to balance everything?

I don’t know that being a dad affects my ability to write any more than anything else.  I mean, my kids are both asleep by 8pm, meaning I’ve still got around four hours of awake time afterwards.  If anything, being a husband gets in the way more than being a father.  In fact, I wrote the majority of my first book immediately following the birth of my first child.  The second book came about shortly after the birth of my second.I personally find that the trouble with writing isn’t as much about finding the time to write as it is finding the will power to do so.  I spend way more time in front of a keyboard trying to find ways to procrastinate than anything else.The most important thing for me is to just set a daily writing goal.  I may not always reach it because things crop up, because those days are the exception.  Unfortunately, I do have to make that goal a much more reasonable number than I’d like to make it because life does have the tendency of getting in the way.  Right now it’s 1000 words/day.

I sometimes try to sneak in little inside jokes or references into my books which only a few people will actually catch (like the colors or mascot from my high school, or using birthdays in secret codes). Do you do this, too, and is there an in-joke or a secret you'd be willing to share with us about your books?

I find myself putting all sorts of references into my books, although not too many inside jokes that I can think of.  The one that comes to mind immediately is in THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO.  There’s two government agents that appear early on, whom I named Kent and Parker, referencing the two heroes whom I believe are the icons of the two largest comic book companies today.

In THE AGORA FILES, I took it a little bit further, including my home town as one of the many locations the main character visits.  I suppose the scene there could be considered somewhat of an inside joke, as it’s how I believe the city would respond to such a situation, but I don’t know that it’s all that sneaky.

I like to play with names a lot, though, but that’s mainly because I really hate coming up with them.  The main character in The Agora Files is Cyrus Rhodes…Rhodes being all too clear of a homonym to roads, the thing he runs on.

What’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked?  It doesn’t have to be about writing.

Perhaps the dumbest thing is how long I just spent trying to come up with a good answer to this question :).  I guess the dumbest thing I’ve ever been asked goes back a ways to when I used to work tech support.  Retail stores would call us whenever they had issues with their computer systems.  However, we also tended to be the number most likely to answer the phone, so we got calls about a whole host of other things, requiring us to know a lot about these business’s inner operations.

One time I got a call from an employee stating that their toilets had backed up and they were standing knee deep in sewage, who simply asked, “What do I do?”I gave him the only answer that seemed pertinent at the time, “Step out of the sewage.”

Living in Wisconsin, do you feel any pressure from the cheese lobby to promote dairy in any of your books?

If anything, it would be the tavern league that would do the pressuring around here, which is why the THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO series is rife with references to beer. Although I’m not originally from Wisconsin, I do feel that it’s my home, and I find myself wanting to include as much of my home within my writing.  So far it’s been on a rather small level (outside of my home town’s appearance in THE AGORA FILES), but I’m sure there’ll be some cheese appearing soon.

Okay, now what’s the dumbest question you’ve ever been asked?

Sorry…still the sewage one.

And the final question. This one's for one hundred points, and a chance to play for the grand prize. Remember that honesty is the best policy or whatever. On a scale of one to ten, where one is pretty awesome and ten is fully awesome, how awesome is Michael Matula?

I’m going to go with a 9.  Don’t want anyone to give up on improving themselves just because they’ve been rated at the highest awesomeness-level possible.  But seriously, with the sultry voice of a young Hunter S. Thompson, and the writer’s voice to match (you know, outside of the drug usage and whatnot), how can one not give you high marks.  Plus, if it weren’t for you and the rag tag group of independent authors you’ve managed to connect over the past few years, I can honestly admit that I’d still be working on building up the confidence to release my first novel, instead of marketing my second.


And now, please tell the folks at home about when and where they can find your books, and where you'd like them to look on the internet for your stuff.

THE LEGEND OF BUDDY HERO is available now in ebook format on Amazon.com and paperback is almost everywhere.

THE AGORA FILES will be in those exact same places as early as possible on Black Friday 2013, also known as 11/29/2013.

The handy-dandy author page at Amazon should help you get there:
http://www.amazon.com/Adam-Oster/e/B00C5RBJR4/

Also, I rant and ramble on a wide variety of topics almost daily at www.fatmogul.com

Thanks so very much for giving me the time and space!

You're very welcome, Adam!  And thank you very much for playing.  You were an excellent contestant.  Congrats on winning a copy of the book!

Wow.

It's not every day that I see a review which compares me to Stephen King.  I have to admit, I was rendered speechless when I read this review from Top 1000 Amazon reviewer Ursula K. Raphael. 

Not only is the title of the review “Best Non-Zombie Horror of 2013”, but she goes on to give me my most flattering compliment so far.  (I'm not saying I agree with the comparison, as I'm always just happy when people don't tell me I suck, but it was lovely of her to say, nonetheless). Here's a bit of what she wrote in her review:

"Even Stephen King wasn't this good, back when Stephen King WAS good.

The storyline is original: three residents of Hell City band together to try and survive long enough to redeem their souls. The characters are well-written: they are not the typical cliches you might expect, and I loved the way that their pasts are revealed through conversations over time, rather than having everything thrown at the reader as soon as the characters are introduced. The action is quite the mix of drama, horror and suspense, making me feel as if I was fighting through The Gauntlet with them.

Matula's storytelling reminded me of all the reasons I fell in love with the horror genre in the first place." 

As I said...Wow. 

Here's the link to the full review:


Monday, November 25, 2013

My Interview with Angelika Rust, Fantasy Author


Angelika Rust is the author of Ratpaths, a fantasy novel in a mafia setting.

She's currently writing the sequel, the odd short story and a stand-alone novel about the comical effects of depression.
Born in Vienna in 1977, she now lives in Germany, with her husband, two children, a grumpy old cat and a hyperactive dog.






Hi, Angelika! I'm so glad you could join us here in the blog studio. Make yourself comfortable. Would you like some hot chocolate?  Freshly made s'mores?  Help yourself.  And let me know when you're ready. This is a combined interview and game show, where prizes may be awarded for great answers. The grand prize, should you win all of the questions, is a signed copy of my brand new epic literary novel, “Whoops, Maybe I Shouldn't Have Shot That Guy.”

When did you start writing fiction? Was there anything in particular that sparked your interest?

From the moment I discovered fantasy for me, I all but stopped reading anything else. For years, I read all that was available in the fantasy genre, right up to the moment I got heartily sick of almighty wizards and divine intervention. You know, deus-ex-machina solutions. I wanted to read a book with no magic at all, one in which the characters would need to rely on their own wits, luck, friends, whatever, to help them out of whatever they've gotten themselves into. That's when I started writing the story which had occupied parts of my brain for quite some time already. It probably sounds hopelessly arrogant, but I wrote the book I wanted to read.

It doesn't sound arrogant to me.  A lot of people say "Write what you know," but I've always thought "Write what you love" works better.  

For people who haven't checked it out yet, what's your novel about?

My book, Ratpaths, is about a young thief who gets caught between the machinations of the rightful regent of the city and the resident crime lord. It's a story of friendship, loyalty, betrayal, and of how a person's past will shape his character, and thus his future.

Which character of yours is the most fun for you to write? 

Nivvo, my main character, fortunately. People tell me that it's hard to tell whether he's simply very brave, or actually a bit mad. He probably teeters on the edge. After all, it's running in the family. I call him 'one spark short of a bonfire'. He's one of the bad guys, obviously, since he's a thief, but he's good people, too, and willing to sacrifice a lot if he considers it necessary. I especially enjoy it when he's sparring with his best friend, Fedoro.

What's your favorite (or favourite, if you prefer) fantasy book or movie of all time?  

My favorite fantasy book would be The Lies of Locke Lamora, by Scott Lynch. I've read it thrice already. It's one of those rare books you can read again and again without them ever getting boring. Great sense of humor.
My favorite fantasy movie would be Pirates of the Caribbean. Only the first part, mind. The others can't compete.

Cliched question time: Being a mom, is it difficult to find time to write? How do you manage to balance everything?

On the one hand, yes, it is. Especially if you're a working mom. On the other hand, I'm in the lucky position to work only two days a week, so I have three mornings to myself, with relative peace and quiet, until the kids come home at noon. And there's always the evenings. Spare time suffers, of course. I hardly ever just lean back and relax with a book anymore. Any spare time I have, I use for either writing, editing other people's books, or desperately trying to promote my novel (and I really suck at the latter).

If you could be any fantasy character, like a thief, a warrior, or a magician (or even a wood elf), what would you like to be?

That question made me smile. A thief, of course. I am. Not in real life, mind. I do Live Action Role Playing. I used to play healers, but a thief is just more fun.

Is there any advice you would you give to writers who are just starting out?

Don't let anyone stop you. Even if you never sell a single book, the experience alone is worth the effort. You'll meet a whole lot of wonderful people. Amazingly nice things will happen to you. And you'll be forever proud of yourself for the achievement.

Can you tell us a little about your current writing project(s)? 

I'm currently writing the sequel. The bones are there, but I'm not yet pleased with it, so I've put it aside for a few weeks to get a little distance and get back to it with a fresh mind. In the meantime, I'm writing a novella about the more or less amusing side effects of depression.

And the final question. This one's for one hundred points, and a chance to play for the grand prize. Remember that honesty is the best policy or whatever. On a scale of one to ten, where one is pretty awesome and ten is fully awesome, how awesome is Michael Matula?

Abso-friggin'-positively-lutely awesome. Oh, wait, I was supposed to rate you on a scale of one to ten. Then let's make it a nine. You never wear sunglasses on any of your pics, or I'd give you a ten.

And now, please tell the folks at home about when and where they can find your books, and where you'd like them to look on the internet for your stuff.

My novel is on Amazon, both as an e-book and as a paperback edition. If anyone wants to find out more, you can find me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, The Indie View, and my very own blog. I have a book trailer on YouTube, too. Here are the links:


Thanks so much for playing, Angelika.  It was an absolute pleasure to have you in the studio.  And congratulations on winning the interview! 




Friday, November 22, 2013

The Express Aisle (100 Words or less) - One Bullet


It only takes one bullet to end an entire world.  A world full of thought, promise, and wonder. 

A lifetime of experiences and knowledge dribbles away across the weather-scarred pavement, slipping between chewed up bubblegum and castaway cigarettes. 

Long ago, I might have felt sorry for the poor sap.  But as I thumb the safety back on, all I can think is, There are so many worlds left to conquer.



Saturday, November 16, 2013

New Character Interview is up!

Mia Darien just posted an interview with my character Samantha "Sam" Reiss over on her blog.  Here's a link:

http://www.miadarien.com/a-chat-with-michael-matula-sam-from-try-not-to-burn/

What is Sam's opinion about me as an author? (Hint: she has a bit of an axe to grind with yours truly, after all the things I put her through in the book.)  What kind of story would she like to appear in next?  Check out the interview to see what she has to say for herself. 


Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Express Aisle: 100 Words Or Less


 


The wandering eye.

Restless. Reckless. Tilting with curiosity, lingering on a flash of skin and a spark of flame. Lover of the shiny and the slippery, of the horrific and the grim. A ravishing woman and a smoldering wreck. Both will draw your fickle gaze like an insect to a spider's web.


The sweet, the sour, it doesn't matter...It all serves as candy to the wandering eye. 



 Photo Credits: "eyes" by Ahmed Sinan, Aka Scinern on Flickr

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Character Interview with Samantha Reiss

My first Character Interview has just gone live on Laurie's Paranormal Thoughts and Reviews.

The character, Sam, mentions who her favorite author is (it's not me?), tries to figure out what an iPod is (she died in 1993), and talks about the scariest moment of her life.

http://lauriethoughts-reviews.blogspot.com/2013/11/try-not-to-burn-by-michael-matula.html

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Stories of the Week for November 5, 2013

This week, I've been invited to submit a story for Wrapped in White, Sekhmet Press' follow-up to the newly-published Wrapped in Red.  This time, instead of vampires, the anthology will focus on ghost stories. 

The deadline to get the story in is mid-January, so I have plenty of time, but I'm still a bit nervous about living up to the story I did for Wrapped in Red, titled "My Boss is a Vampire."  That one was quite fun and quirky, focusing on a young woman named Cameron Bailor, who gets a job interview for a reclusive Southern gentleman, and starts to realize that this might not be the dream job she'd been hoping for. 

In other news, I've gotten two great new reviews for Try Not to Burn, one from Knightmist's blog, and one from a top 500 reviewer on Amazon

I don't know if I'll ever get used to seeing people say such positive things about my stories, as I'm constantly doubting myself (every time I get stuck in a book for five minutes, I think, "Well, there goes my ability to string two sentences together"), but it's incredibly encouraging to see how much people have been enjoying the book and the characters. 



Photo Credits: "PUPPY!" by _jennieMarie on Flickr. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

River of Bones by Angela J. Townsend - Book Blitz + Giveaway



Title: River of Bones

Author: Angela J. Townsend

Published: October 30th, 2013 by Clean Teen Publishing

Word Count: 50,000

Genre: YA Horror

Recommended Age: 14+

Synopsis:

When 17-year-old Dharma Moore moves to Bayou country so her scam artist mother can work as a Paranormal Investigator, she discovers more than ghosts haunt the abandoned plantation they now call home. Centuries ago, a voodoo curse was placed on the swamp waters surrounding the old plantation by a murdered slave. A terrible curse that snares Dharma. To save herself, she must face the terror of the haunted waters, find the dead woman's skull and convince the slave's soul to release her from its torments. However, there is more to this curse for Dharma personally than anyone else knows as she discovers an ancient secret that links herself to the property—a secret kept from her by her own family. To survive, she must accept the help of locals and to learn to embrace the truth—that magic is not only real, but that it can be very, very deadly!


About the Author:

Angela Townsend was born in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Missoula, Montana. As a child, Angela grew up listening to stories told by her grandparents, ancient tales and legends of faraway places. Influenced by her Irish and Scottish heritage, Angela became an avid research historian, specializing in Celtic mythology. Her gift for storytelling finally led her to a full time career in historical research and writing. A writer in local community circulations, Angela is also a published genealogical and historical resource writer who has taught numerous research seminars. Currently, Angela divides her time between writing, playing Celtic music on her fiddle, and Irish dancing.

Angela's first novel, Amarok, was published through Spencer Hill Press in 2012. Her newest novel, Angus MacBain and The Island of Sleeping Kings, was signed for publication with Clean Teen Publishing and released in September 2013. Her most recent young adult horror novel, River of Bones, is scheduled to release late October 2013.

Angela resides on a ranch, in rural Northwestern Montana, with her two children Levi and Grant.




Clean Teen Publishing Links:




Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • GRAND PRIZE:  eBook copy of River of Bones, bookmark prize pack, $10 Amazon Gift Card.
a Rafflecopter giveaway



EXCERPT FROM RIVER OF BONES:

I shuffled into the living room looking for Wolf. He sat in front of the hearth staring at the skull. He glanced at me when I came in, then leaped to his feet and took my elbow.

“I’m ready for bed,” I said. “Can you help me get up the stairs?”

“Sure,” he said.  “But why don’t you just sleep down here where I can keep an eye on you.”

“Because I have to have the skull under my bed, remember? Down here there’s no bed, only a couch, and I’m not taking any chances. My throat is killing me. I’m getting weaker. Wolf, I’m scared. My whole life, I’ve taken care of myself and Benny. What will happen to my brother if I die?”

Wolf grabbed my shoulders. “Don’t talk like that. We’re gonna beat this thing. Whatever it is.”  He snatched the skull, tucked it under his arm, and bent down. “Get on my back and I’ll give you a ride.”

I hesitated. “What if I'm too heavy?”

Wolf laughed. “You're far from heavy, Dharma. Look, you need to start trusting me. And you have to start trusting yourself. You are stronger than you think you are, and you’re braver than you know. Now hop on.”

I wrapped my arms around his neck, and collapsed against him. “Thanks,” I said, inhaling his woodsy scent.

Wolf labored up the steps, every muscle in his strong back flexing beneath me. At the landing, I slid off and hobbled down the hallway to the master bedroom.

“Good thing I made the bed last night,” Wolf said.

“You did? Wow, thanks.”

“I had to have something to do while you were sleeping.”

He pulled back the blankets and held them up so I could climb into the soft bed. Wolf got on his knees and slid the skull underneath the creaky springs.

“You sure you’re going to be okay up here?”

“I hope so,” I said. “At this point, nothing matters but sleep, even if I don’t wake up.”

“Are you sure about that?” Wolf said. He gazed into my eyes and leaned in close, his lips almost touching my forehead. My heart skipped. For a moment, I thought he was going to kiss me, but instead he placed a hand against my cheek.

“You still feel like you have a fever. No wonder, with everything you've been through.” He pulled away. “I’m going to camp right outside the door. Call me if you need anything.”

“Thanks,” I said. It felt good knowing he would be so close. I couldn’t blame him for not kissing me. My heart sank, I'm sure I looked totally gross. I closed my eyes, listening to his hollow footsteps as he walked away.

Every sound set my nerves on edge—the howling wind, the rattling shutters, the clatter of pipes, a weird scraping outside my window. Then I heard another noise. A different kind of noise. Low. Raspy. I strained to hear against the wind, and held my breath. The eerie sound stuttered in the darkness.

Heavy, mucus-filled breathing.

Coming from under the bed.