Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Next Big Thing Q&A

I've just been tagged by a very lovely and talented pair of writers, Jaclyn Aurore and Julie Rainey in the Next Big Thing Blog Chain Whatsit. (I believe that's the full name, though I could be mistaken).

Apparently, we each answer the same ten questions or something, and then choose five more people to carry this on, until no one's left standing. It's basically Highlander, I think.

Anyways, here are the ten questions:

1. What is the working title of your book?
Try Not to Burn.

2. Where did the idea for the book come from?
I originally wrote a short story just out of high school, about a man who wakes up in purgatory, and meets up with a group of other people who died before asking forgiveness for their sins. I later took that story and wrote a pair of novels out of it, the first of which has just been published.
I've always loved horror stories, and there aren't too many things that scare people more than death, and what might be awaiting them if they mess up in life and go to the wrong corner of the afterlife. 
3. What genre does it fall under?
It's a mixture of horror, suspense, and sci-fi. It's not exactly a romance (the sequel starts to kick it up a notch, though), but there is a bit of a love triangle aspect thrown into the mix. 
4. What actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Brandon Morales: Edgar Ramirez from Domino.  
Samantha Reiss, a natural beauty with a mean streak and a ponytail: Evangeline Lilly from Lost. 
Jane Calrin: I just saw Dredd last night, and Olivia Thirlby looks quite a bit like what I imagined when I wrote the character, even down to the haircut, although Jane's a redhead. 
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A horror novel set in purgatory, about three lost souls struggling towards redemption. 
6. Will your book be self-published or be represented by an agency?
It was published by Post Mortem Press, a small independent publisher from Cincinnati, Ohio. 
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
Two or three months, I think, though this was a number of years ago. I've done a few other drafts since then, all of which took a ton of time themselves. The first draft was when I was just getting started writing, so it was pretty rough. 
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
The Divine Comedy or Paradise Lost would probably be the closest I could think of, though the Bible--I think it was self-published a while back--is also a pretty big influence. My publisher has called my book “The Hunger Games in Hell,” though that book's still on my “to read” list. And by that, I mean I'll probably catch the movie at some point and tell people I read the book. 
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Depending on what you believe in, it was either me or God. I'm still not quite sure myself, sometimes.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
It's funny, it's heartfelt, and it asks serious questions about life and death. Does everyone deserve forgiveness? Would God condemn a good man to suffer for all eternity, or is there another reason why Brand was sent to this place? And if you're like Sam, and you've given up all hope of redemption and accepted your fate, can you ever start believing again?
Is it too late for some of us, or is there hope for us all?

And now, the next links in the chain:

I'll be honest, I'm not much of a stickler for rules, so this might end up being more of a blog loop than a blog chain.

Friday, January 25, 2013

"Dear Lucky Agent" Contest

I just found out about the "Dear Lucky Agent" contest on the Writer's Digest website, within the Guide to Literary Agents blog. 

It's free to enter, and it seems like you can enter as many books as you wish, with the prize being a critique by a literary agent.  Unfortunately, the only genres they're considering at this time are Young Adult and sci-fi. 

Here's the link, for more information:

The contest is open until the 31st of January, 2013. 

New Book Description for Amazon

It's not live yet, as it's still pending publisher approval, but here's the new book description I wrote up last night for Try Not to Burn's Amazon page:

Officer Brand Morales never even saw the gunshot that killed him. All he saw was the serial killer's grin before the world went black. Awakening in a nightmarish plane of purgatory, replete with demons and desperation, Brand meets a pair of lost souls simply struggling to survive: Samantha Reiss, a tough-as-nails bank robber who died from lethal injection, and Jane Calrin, a teenage girl who ate a bullet to cap off a tear-stained murder-suicide.

With their souls hanging in the balance, and eternal damnation never more than one wrong turn away, these three strangers will need to learn to trust one another as they journey toward salvation. But when the rules of the game begin to change in purgatory's favor, and when lost loves and hidden desires threaten to push the trio apart, they'll need more than faith and determination to pass God's final test.

They'll need a miracle. 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Try Not to Burn

Excerpt from chapter one of Try Not to Burn:

“It's a bittersweet day for San Francisco, ladies and gentlemen. Our long, city-wide nightmare has finally drawn to a close, but it did not come without a heavy cost. News comes out of the San Francisco Police Department that renowned serial killer Victor Gregory Rellik has just been shot dead, mere moments ago, on the corner of Geary and Webster. Two police officers were on the scene at the time of the shooting. Details are still scarce as of this moment, but what we do know is that one of the police officers—his name has not yet been disclosed to the press—has been shot in the head and has been rushed to the hospital in critical condition.

“His partner, reported to be former police Lieutenant Francis Takeda, demoted after his alleged involvement in the Douglas Minton police brutality case, is being lauded as a hero by eyewitnesses at the scene.

“We go now to Carol Daly, live on the corner where Rellik's Reign was brought to its shocking conclusion. Carol, what have you been able to learn?”

“Thanks, Jackie. I have two men standing by who saw the entire grisly event unfold. We'll get their thoughts in just a moment. But first, I have just received word on the condition of Officer Takeda's partner, a twenty-two year old man who, I'm sorry to say, has now became Victor Rellik's thirty-fifth...and final...victim.



Brandon Morales saw only darkness. Frozen, unflinching darkness. A bottomless pit that had swallowed him whole. The blackness existed all around him, choking him, closing in on him, while at the same time extending for as far as the eye could possibly see.

There lurked no light in the blackness, no point where he could see a seam or crack in the wall of endless shadow. No place he could use to regain his bearings, to work out which side was up and which side was down.

He tried to reach out with his hand toward the dark wall. He saw the blackness tremble, like ripples in a stream of water. But he couldn’t see his hand. Couldn’t feel it, either.

He couldn’t feel anything at all. He couldn’t blink. Couldn’t shout out. Couldn’t even feel his breath filling his lungs.

Fear yanked at the corners of his mind, resolute panic endeavoring to seize control of his thoughts.

Had he stopped breathing? Was he dying?

Was this what it felt like to die?

Was it already too late? Is this how he would spend the rest of eternity?

There were so many questions, but no voice to speak them, and the darkness had no answers.

He thought back to the last moment he remembered before the world went black.

He thought back to Geary Boulevard, located a few blocks west of San Francisco's Tenderloin district. The rust-flecked mint-green coupe he and his partner pulled over. He remembered stepping out of the squad car into the still summer air. Walking toward the car alone, the sunlight glancing into his eyes off the coupe's rear window.

Brand started to inform the driver why they pulled him over, that he had a brake light out. Nothing major. Nothing that should have been a problem, just a friendly word of warning. You should look into fixing that. Thanks. See you later.

Then the man’s face tugged at Brand's memory. He’d seen that scowl before. He’d seen the scar on the man’s lower lip before. He’d known him somehow, but he didn’t know why or how.

Then it hit him. The realization. It must have been plastered all over his face. Brand started to reach for his gun, the order to freeze forming in his mouth.

Too slowly, though. Far too slowly. The serial killer was already raising his hand toward the opened window.

He was smiling. The fucker had actually started smiling.

The man held something in his hand, but the object was blurry in Brand’s shattered memory. Not much of a mystery now, though.

Brand never even saw the flash of the gun. Everything just went black.


And that was it.

Brand had never felt this alone in his entire life.