FwF 29 – #Christmas Calamities, Part 1: The Lost Helper

Happy Holidays, Fictioneers!

I start off this episode with a shout-out to some awesome author friends of mine who have been doing dynamite work recently: children’s author (and my illustrator for Hello, Halloween) Donovan Scherer; award-winning horror author Matthew Harrill; and hilarious master parodist Paul Erickson.  Pick up their books for your loved ones this Christmas!

      

Now, on to the meat of the show, where I read you the first story from my book Christmas Calamities.  ‘The Lost Helper’ tells the tale of a poor elf left behind in a family fireplace on Christmas Eve.  Things only get worse when the household children discover him.  Will he be able to get back to Santa in time?

Listen in to find out! 

And while you’re at it, pick up the book!  ‘The Lost Helper’ is only one of several fun holiday yarns therein.  It’s inexpensive, easily transportable, and makes a great stocking stuffer.  Enjoy!

 

FwF 24 – Dark Optimism: An Interview with J. Thorn

 

Dark greetings, Fictioneers!

First off, I apologize for taking so long to get this episode out.  I actually did this interview a while ago, but since then I’ve been in the midst of a move from Chicago to Phoenix, and I only just got my internet hooked up in my new location, so…

Here it is!  [I know, I know, I already broke my New Year’s resolution to publish one episode a week.  (But aren’t such resolutions made to be broken?)  They’ll get more regular from here on out, I promise!]

A few weeks back I had the honor of speaking with J. Thorn.  J. is a best-selling horror author whose name has graced the top of the charts alongside the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  How epic is that?

      

What has rocketed J. to a permanent place in the list of the top 100 (and occasionally the top 5) horror authors on Amazon?

In part, it’s how great his books are.  Just look at how readers and critics rave about the Portal Arcane Series and the Hidden Evil Trilogy.

      

And check out my review of J.’s children’s/YA novel, The Monroeville Monster.  It’s a great read for kids of all ages.  Definitely worth the buy!

In addition to the quality of his work, though, it helps J.’s sales that he is incredibly prolific.  I count over 20 separate (non-overlapping) titles on his Amazon page – many of which are full-length novels.  Not bad for a career that only started in 2011!  J. also has a great head for book marketing, and, being a friendly and cooperative soul, he has joined with other great horror and dark fantasy authors to create bargain book bundles, each of which costs only $0.99, and each of which features 7 or more funtabulously frightening novels.  (Click the pics below for those great bargain buys.)

Last year J. got even more ambitious in his collaborations, and became one of the authors (as well as the compiler/editor) of a 10-author collaborative novel, The Black Fang Betrayal.  It’s a fascinating dark fantasy, blending the imaginations of some great modern authors into a single cohesive story.  (I compare it to George R.R. Martin & friends’ Wild Cards series.)  Grab that one now.  It’s seriously cool.

Speaking of collaborations, if you want to be a good person, why don’t you drop $0.99 to join J. and other great horror-makers as they Scare Cancer to Death?

Now, if you haven’t already, listen in as Mr. Thorn and I discuss the business aspects of being an independent author, the good feelings even the tiniest bit of success can give us, our favorite horror/dark fantasy books and movies, and many other weird topics.

J. lives in Cleveland, where apparently no one but him rocks anymore.   But the man has spent large parts of his life performing heavy metal – so, of course, we talk about our favorite metal bands, and how they may or may not inform our literary tastes.

Along with everything else he’s done, J. was the co-host (with Richard Brown) of the Horror Writers’ Podcast.  That ‘cast is sadly no longer going – and of course I give J. a hard time about that – but I encourage any fiction writers out there to listen to the back episodes!  It certainly informed and inspired me in its brief run, and I someday hope to hear J. once more sharing his wisdom in the podcastsphere.

As I said, J.’s a good dude, and he proves it by looking out for his fellow indie authors.  Check out his thoughts here:

         

So what is the dark Mr. Thorn doing these days?

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!  J.’s a fantastic author, a hell of a businessman, and an all-around cool guy.

Comment below or shoot me an email at luke@funwithfiction.com and let me know what you thought of this episode!  And while you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for the Fun with Fiction Newsletter – your way to keep abreast of all the awesome stuff going on in the made-up world.

‘Til next time, keep on reading!

– Luke

FwF 22 – Donovan Scherer on Comic-Cons and Children’s Horror

 

Happy Holiday shivers, Fictioneer!

My guest for this episode is Donovan Scherer, who does it all.  I mean, like, everything.  This is a guy who’s mastered all the levels of indie publishing, from writing (and illustrating) great stories to designing awesome covers to building wicked cool websites.  Now he’s moving beyond his graphic design background to start his own publishing company, all while packing guitars for Amazon during the day.  He even created a free video game (Zombeans) to promote his books.  How cool is that???

Scherer campfire

I met Donovan online a few months ago, and in person this past weekend at the Mighty-Con Comic Show.  Let me tell you, this guy is a pro.  His display was fantastic, with everything from handmade buttons to books to bookmarks to Zombeans plushies to an actual mounted iPad featuring the Zombeans video game.

zombeans

But he’s not all style and no substance.  I have read the first book of his Fear & Sunshine series (pitch: “It’s like slasher films for kids!”), and let me tell you, it is good.  It’s a kids series, sure, but it’s a lot more complex (and dark) than you’d expect from standard children’s fair.  The mythology is deep, the characters – including Death – feel very real, and the story keeps you turning pages and wanting to know more.  And the illustrations only add to the fun-but-threatening mood of the books.

   

Here – read my Amazon review of Fear & Sunshine: Prelude to see what I mean.  Then pick up the book for FREE!  You have no excuse not to give it a try.

Mr. Scherer and I talk about his formative influences – which were cartoons that both he and I watched growing up in the ’90s.  Shows like the Rescue Rangers and Darkwing Duck.  True classics.  He and I are also fans of some of the big names in modern indie fiction, including Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, and J. Thorn, all of whom have had covers designed by Donovan.

We also discuss comic-cons and other art shows, and the great times we have interacting with our fellow acolytes of awesome there.  Donovan runs an insane show schedule.  He has a booth at nearly every con in the Chicago and southern Wisconsin area, as well as one every weekend throughout the summer at the Harbor Market in Kenosha, WI.  If you’re in the neighborhood, look him up!  He’d love to meet you, nerd out with you, and sign one of his beautiful books for you.

Find Donovan Scherer at:

Don’t forget to pick up Fear and Sunshine, as well as Donovan’s latest book Monsters Around the Campfire – a creepy short story collection reminiscent of my favorite Boy Scout trips, available now for only $0.99!  Totally worthwhile.

Thanks for listening as always, Fictioneer!  I hope to get you at least one more mayhem-filled podcast before the Xmas takes us all.  Stay tuned, and be wary.

And don’t forget to sign up for the Fun with Fiction newsletter!  It’s free, and you get occasional emails from me with fun free fiction and news about what’s going on in the made-up world.  Totally worth it, right?  Exactly.

‘Til next time, my friend…

– Luke

FwF 18 – Fighting and Fantasy: An Interview with Orlando Sanchez (part 1)

 

Today I had the great pleasure of talking to Sensei Orlando Sanchez – a fellow independent fantasy author and martial artist with a lot of insight on what makes fiction fun.

Orlando Sanchez

Seriously, we talked for over two hours, and I (devout professional that I am) decided to simply hit the record button in the middle of our conversation – so the “interview” begins with Sensei Orlando in the middle of a sentence about the need for an editor.  Our talk moves on to a whole range of topics, from our favorite authors (including J.R.R. Tolkien and Jim Butcher) to the horrific despair we writers feel when we’re 30,000 words into a manuscript and we positively HATE our novel.  (I blogged about that just yesterday here.)

I’ve had to split this interview into two pieces due to system constraints – but both halves are well worth the listen!  Entertaining and useful information for readers and writers alike.

If you want to try Orlando’s writing out, click on the pics below to pick up these short stories for $0.99 each.  They’re tons of fun.

                       

If you’re ready to dive into the novels (I know I am!), grab these:

                      

And keep an eye out for the newly-edited 2nd addition of The Spiritual Warriors – coming in early January 2015.  (See his Facebook post about it below)

Read Orlando’s blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Fan him on Goodreads.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Hope you enjoyed this interview!  Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for part 2, where we dig deeper into Orlando’s own work.

– Luke

[P.S. – If you want some great free books, other give-aways, and to hear all the latest stuff going on in the Fun with Fiction world, CLICK HERE.]

FwF 16 – Interview with Matthew Harrill: What if Hell Froze Over?

 

I have a special treat for you Fictioneers!  In this episode I interview Matthew W. Harrill – award-winning author of The ARC Chronicles trilogy: Hellbounce, Hellborne, and the upcoming Hellbeast.

        

In this brilliant horror series (I’ve just started the first book, but I already know it’s brilliant), Matt answers the question we’ve all been pondering:

What if Hell really did freeze over?

The ARC Chronicles is a modern dark fantasy of angels and demons and everyday people, all caught up in a terrible conundrum. It was inspired by a two-hour brainstorming session between Matt and his mentor, David Farland (competition judge for L. Ron Hubbard‘s Writers of the Future contest, teacher of Brandon Sanderson and Stephenie Meyer, and author of the Runelords series).

That mentorship obviously did well for Mr. Harrill, as Hellbounce went on to beat several hundred entries to win runner-up in Horror at this year’s Halloween Book Festival.

Hellbounce award

Matt cites influences as diverse as Robert Jordan (The Wheel of Time) and H.P. Lovecraft (Call of Cthulhu and… c’mon, we all know who he is).  He’s learned a great deal about writing from his friend Juliet E. McKenna (Tales of Einarinn, The Hadrumal Crisis, etc.) and from Hank Moody (David Duchovny’s character in the TV show Californication).

This interview covers a ton of great stuff for fans of horror and fantasy fiction, as well as touching on tips for aspiring authors.  Give it a listen!

Once you do that, don’t forget to:

Lastly: if you love fiction like Matt and I do, sign up for the Fun with Fiction newsletter.  Get two FREE books of some of my all-time favorite short stories, exclusive offers, and be the first to hear about upcoming FwF events and releases.

Thanks as always for listening, Fictioneer!  Enjoy the horror.

– Luke

FwF Podcast 9 with Mo Simpson: The World is the Best Fiction (part 2)

Welcome back, Fictioneers!

Part 2 of my conversation with Mo Simpson starts off on a brilliantly blasphemous note, introducing a neo-pagan interpretation of Biblical scripture and an insane but believable etymology of the word “Hollywood”.  Did you know Hollywood, the right arm of the government, was founded by Druids?

You do now.  Consider yourself edumacated.

Speaking of Hollywood, we can’t resist discussing the tenuous relationship between comic books and the movies.  Just how unfaithful is Hollywood’s recreation of Watchmen?  Is Alan Moore right to condemn the medium of film for corrupting the art of the comic?

From there we transition to a discussion of the various film incarnations of a certain nocturnal superhero (I’ll give you three guesses).  Who was the best Batman?  The best Joker?  The best supervillain in general?  And the controversial topic of the day – Ben Affleck as the Dark Knight:  horrible mistake, or spitting in the face of God?

While we’re on the subject of gods, does anyone else think that superheroes are our modern versions of the ancient Greek deities?  (I mean, heck, some of them are ancient Greek deities!)  I do, and I make my case fantastically, if I do say so myself.

This leads to a discussion of mythology and the necessity of myth in providing meaning to culture.  No one recognized this better than J.R.R. Tolkien, who created his Middle Earth to provide a new mythopic structure that Britain was sorely lacking.  Granted, he did this in a very Catholic way (see my friend Brad Birzer‘s book J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle-earth for a better understanding of that), but it’s hard to deny the brilliance of his symbolism, no matter what your beliefs are.

We talk about varieties of myth throughout the ages, the benefits of reading The Bible and other spiritual texts as literature (whether or not you believe they are literally true), and what makes myth still essential to the modern man.  Calling something a myth, in the traditional sense, is not saying that it is untrue.  Myth was rather a way of stating the truth – that is, telling the truth through a story that people could relate to and understand.

People need myths.  This is why Nietzsche, anti-Christian that he was, lamented the “death” of God.  While Newton’s mechanistic view of the universe might have had the positive result of turning many people away from irrational superstitions, it left a void; it left people with nothing to believe in.  Those of us who no longer hold to religion – or no longer hold it as a dominant force in our lives, whether or not we nominally believe in it – must find a new locus of meaning.

Throughout this discussion, Mo peppers us with historical etymologies of numerous terms, including “Lord of the Rings” (Saturn?), “Luke Skywalker” (Horus, Loki, or Lucifer?), and “The Holy Trinity” (um… you just gotta listen to this one).  I point out the difference between symbolism and allegory, and Mo adds that his favorite fiction is the real world that we face every day.

That last happens to be my least favorite fiction, as media-fed B.S. is more depressing than enlightening.  This is why I read (well, one reason of many).

What do you think?  Does myth have a function in the modern world?  If so, what kind of mythology do you turn to – religion, superheroes, esoteric theories, or some other collection of weird and wonderful concepts?

For more such enlightening and lively conversations, catch Mo on the Eyeteeth podcast.  And don’t forget to check out our books Cthulhu 4 Kids and Tales from the Teeth.

[Yes, Cthulhu 4 Kids II is still in progress.  It’s coming, we swear!  Please be patient.  In the meantime, give us reviews for the current books on Amazon, and for our podcasts (Fun with Fiction and Eyeteeth) on iTunes!  We’ll love you forever.]

Speaking of books, I have a new one out!  It’s Captain Napalm vs. the Grungious Gundabad, based on disturbingly hilarious superhero stories I’ve been telling my son at bedtime.  The Kindle version is available on Amazon for only $0.99, so if you want to support the Fun with Fiction podcast, pick it up today!

Or here’s an even better option: if you’re into superheroes and sophomoric humor, you’re interested in reading Captain Napalm, and you’re willing to write it an honest review on Amazon within the next month (it’s not a long book), send me an email at luke@funwithfiction.com, and I’ll send you a free review copy!  (In the interest of sanity I have to limit this offer to the first 25 people who email me, though – so shoot me a message today.)

Thank you all, Fictioneers!  I hope you’re enjoying my ramblings.  If you have anything to say – what you like, what you hate, what you want more of – let me know.  Comment below, review me on iTunes, or just shoot me an email.  I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time – happy reading, my friends.

FwF Podcast 8 with Mo Simpson: The World is the Best Fiction (part 1)

Guess what, Fictioneers???

That’s right – Mo Simpson is back on the Fun with Fiction podcast, talking to Luke J. Morris (yours truly) about the struggles of artists, the connection between religious texts and ancient mythologies, the shortcomings of the classical “hero’s quest” version of story, the tenuous relationship between books and the movies (or TV shows) they spawn, and the great weirdness that is Chuck Palahniuk.

This is a two-parter, folks, so don’t forget to tune in next time, when things get even crazier!