Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BRoP Interview with Jason Jack Miller

This week Jason Jack Miller the Blog Ring of Power's guest author.  Today he is going to discuss his current work.

For the other parts of Jason's interview here is the schedule...

Part 1 @ Teresa - Thursday, November 22nd
Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, November 23rd
Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, November 26th
Part 4 @ Dean - Tuesday, November 27th
Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, November 28th

Jason Jack Miller hails from Fayette County, Pennsylvania, as in, "Circus freaks, temptation and the Fayette County Fair," made famous by The Clarks in the song, "Cigarette." He is a writer, photographer and musician. An outdoor travel guide he co-authored with his wife in 2006 jumpstarted his freelancing career; his work has since appeared in newspapers, magazines, literary journals, online, as part of a travel guide app for mobile phones, and in a regular column for Inveterate Media Junkies. He wrote the novels Hellbender and All Saints during his graduate studies at Seton Hill University, where he is now adjunct creative writing faculty. In 2011, he signed a multi-book deal with Raw Dog Screaming Press. When he isn't writing he's on his mountain bike or looking for his next favorite guitar. He is currently writing and recording the soundtracks to his novel, The Devil and Preston Black, and writing his next novel, The Revelations of Preston Black.

Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?  

The Devil and Preston Black is about a man at a crossroads. Anybody who has ever had to choose between growing up and pursuing a dream knows how it plays out. You can gamble with fate and win big, making that impossible dream come true. Or you can lose it all. Preston Black doesn't have anything to lose. Despite money problems, family problems, and creative problems, Preston lives life with the best of intentions. But Preston's road to hell starts in the record shop where he meets the mysterious stranger who makes him believe in love at first sight, and finds the vinyl he believes will lead him to his old man.

His trip to total self-destruction is a slow burn. Even with his brother, his boss, and the ghosts of John Lennon and Joe Strummer throwing up warnings, his early demise seems all but inevitable. The only thing keeping him from imploding is the unlikely beauty who shares his passion for music. Like Preston, she longs for something greater. She sees Preston as being more than the sum of his many flaws. 

The trade paperback will be available in early December from Raw Dog Screaming Press: and The eBook is available now on  

Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?  

This book sits at a nexus of genres, so it is finding readers from a variety of reading backgrounds. I describe it as urban fantasy/horror with a love story at its core. But a recent review riffed on several literary elements that really looked at the book from a much deeper perspective. This is the kind of thing a writer hopes for, but can't come right out and ask a reviewer to comment on. I knew as I was writing the book that it worked on several levels, and am happy to see that it succeeded, for at least one reader. 
For years, people told me I shouldn't try to compare writing to music, especially when I was working on my master's thesis. But musical themes run rampant through the book. Music fans will be able to pick up things on several different layers, maybe even an inside joke or two in addition to the changes in tempo, the shifts from adagio to presto. After all, this book, in a way, was a love letter to all of the bands and artists I grew up with. 
What was the hardest part of writing this book?

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?  

The last one, of course! Sometimes I still get goose bumps when I reread it.
Without giving too much away, I wrote a chapter as if it were a concert, building and manipulating energy like a band does on a stage. Using 'tempo' and 'volume' to generate excitement was a lot of fun. I put myself on that stage and listened to the same few songs over and over as loud as my eardrums could handle. And in the end, it really worked. In my opinion, it's the only way the book could've ended. 

Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?  

Awesome question!
I learned to trust myself as a writer. Hellbender was written when I was working on my Master's degree at Seton Hill, so it had passed through the hands of eight or nine critique partners and two mentors. It goes without saying that I learned a great deal from that experience. I learned what to look for in my own work, and I learned what kind of passages worked best for readers. But the only person to read Preston before I sent it off to Raw Dog Screaming Press was my wife. I didn't have anybody looking over my shoulder or any voices in my head besides my own (plural.) 
This book made me feel like a writer instead of just a kid with a keyboard. My confidence skyrocketed because, unlike earlier projects, I chased an idea in my head and actually caught it instead of veering off course. The end result of Preston was a book with the feel and flow I'd hoped for when I typed 'Chapter One' in that brand new Word file. For me, I put my ideas on paper instead of compromising because I didn't have the skill set to approach such lofty concepts. It felt like a real victory. And on top of all that, it was probably the most fun I'd ever had while writing. 
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?  

The Devil and Preston Black came into this world as a self-published novel. The cover needed to have a concert poster feel because of the book's content. I spent hours weeks working with images and fonts but the end result inevitably disappointed me.

When I scoured the internets looking for printers who specialized in concert posters, the same name popped up over and over—Nashville, Tennessee's Hatch Show Print. They are a traditional print shop—no computer-aided design. They still take orders on a rotary phone and utilize hand carved plates and wood type from as far back as the 1880s. They've dealt with some of the biggest names in music—Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, The White Stripes, Bruce Springsteen, Wilco, Bob Dylan, Hank Williams, B. B. King, Pearl Jam…. I figured I could trust them with my little book cover.

After a few phone calls to Hatch's Jim Sherraden to nail down specifics, I was handed over to artist/designer Brad Vetter who spent a great deal of time listening to my suggestions and walking me through the process. The end result, in my opinion, was a thing of beauty. When I finished Hellbender I called Hatch again even though the book wasn't as 'musical.' And instead of the long list of suggestions I'd given Brad with Preston, I had just one—make it green. 
Hatch Show Print

Facebook page:
Goodreads author page:

What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?
Paperback and eBook

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

Best wishes to you and your family for Thanksgiving.  Here are some quotes I’ve picked up here and there around the internet for thanksgiving.  Have a great day.  Next week I’ll have something else for my Thursday post.

"Forever on Thanksgiving Day the heart will find the pathway home."
Wilbur D. Nesbit

"If you made a list of all the things you could be thankful for, the list would undoubtedly be longer than your misfortunes." Catherine Pulsifer from Many Blessings

"Not what we say about our blessings, but how we use them, is the true measure of our thanksgiving."
W.T. Purkiser

"When asked if my cup is half-full or half-empty my only response is that I am thankful I have a cup." Sam Lefkowitz

"Thanksgiving, after all, is a word of action."
W. J. Cameron

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Blog Ring of Power Interview with Lynda Williams

This week Lynda Williams is the Blog Ring of Power's guest. Lynda Williams is the author of the ten-novel Okal Rel Saga (Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing) and the editor of the Okal Rel Legacies series (Absolute Xpress). She hosts the Writer’s Craft on the Clarion Blog with David Lott. On Reality Skimming (, she works with David Juniper, Tegan Lott and Michelle Carraway to celebrate the Okal Rel Universe in particular and the joy of writing and reading in general. See for how to take part on Reality Skimming to promote your work or share your love of words and ideas.
Here is Lynda's BRoP Schedule:

Part 1 @ Teresa - Thursday, November 15
Part 2 @ Emily - Friday, November 16
Part 3 @ Sandra - Monday, November 19
Part 4 @ Dean - Tuesday, November 20
Part 5 @ Terri - Wednesday, November 21

So yea, I am excited to have Lynda as a guest here on The Write Time.  Today she is talking about her current work.
About Your Current Work
  1. Tell us about your new book and when it is out? Where can people purchase it?
My next installment in the saga will be Part 8: Gathering Storm, forthcoming from Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy by the end of 2012. It will be available in book stores like Chapters for a short while. However, as trade paperbacks from a small but splendid Canadian publisher, my books are typically available a long time by special order but rarely stocked from book 1 forward. So you’ll probably find only the latest on the shelf without making a special request. If you do spot ORU books “in the wild” we are always excited to have a photo and report it on Reality Skimming. Send sightings or anything else you feel like sharing to Lynda(at) and michelle(at) and okalrel(at) for the fastest response. Okal Rel Legacies titles are available at cons where Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy appears, as are the Saga titles. All can be ordered through Amazon, of course, and are in kindle format for reading on your favorite handheld device. Forthcoming titles in the legacies series included novellas by authors Craig Bowlsby and Hal Friesen and the Opus 6 anthology of short stories set in the Okal Rel Universe, published by Absolute Xpress, an imprint of Hades Publications.
  1. Is there anything new, unusual, or interesting about your book? How is it different from other books on the same subject?
I love this question! Typically, people ask you to tell them which book it is like of the ones that they already know. I really like writer Ashley Tia’s response on the topic, shared with me on Reality Skimming (see )
My books teem with bold characters so real they talk to you in your head for days after you finish reading about them. I’m proud to hear people tell me so. My books explore sexual politics and power dynamics in fully-realized cultures based on divergent paths taken by mankind 1,000 years earlier. My books are about how we cope with technology and the right and wrong way to behave if you are one of the lucky few who gain mastery of it before everyone else. They are about how cultures regulate themselves, cultural relativity, and whether there are ultimate answers to what is right and what is wrong in a competitive universe. But mostly I love the people in them and the people in the real world my characters connect me with who keep me hoping it is all worthwhile.
  1. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Getting back into the head space. My life took an unexpectedly rocky turn that forced me to reverse engines on the creative front and shove all the ideas into a box until I had time for them. I took myself to Starbucks on Saturdays and re-read earlier work until I got in the groove. Then I wrote until I was too tired to stay away or Starbucks closed. It sort of saved my soul to discover I could still transport myself into the story and write out what was planned like it was happening, once I got “there”. I had days when I was afraid it was gone for good. And if it wasn’t, it ought to be. I will be forever grateful to my daughter, Angela Lott, in particular for helping me to keep believing in dreams through the months concerned. You can see some of her work on youtube if you search for Okal Rel there. She also wrote me a fabulous tribute to one of her favorite characters and gave it to me as a gift. I plan to use a suitable excerpt in Opus 6.
  1. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
Samanda O’Pearl is a girly-girl preoccupied by gaining social status via marriage. I grew up rejecting this kind of heroine (despite loving Austen’s Pride and Prejudice), so it surprised me to find I had so much fun writing Sam’s triumphant homecoming to her middle-class family on Clara’s World. I think, in part, I was reminiscing about the spirit of my own childhood, with its mundane, loving and stable family life enlivened by vigorous make-believing and a love of literature. Or maybe the contrast with the dire events in progress elsewhere in the story made it pleasurable. Sam does some growing up in books 8 and 9. Amel’s got most of his growing up done by then, and it’s always rewarding to write a character who evolves, emotionally, in the scope of a work. 
  1. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Yes. I learned the Demish characters were interesting and deserved to have their story told, as well. Let me explain. In the Okal Rel universe the Demish are the stodgy conservatives. Think of Victorian England. Vrellish characters are more fun because they are over-sexed and hyperactive. Lorels have a predilection for making long-term plans on behalf of all mankind and being science geniuses. Characters from all empire racial groups (or sub-species of Sevolite might be more accurate) figure in all the books. The ten novel saga chronicles the start of big changes in a system that’s been more or less stable for nearly 1,000 years. But the Demish only start to feel the heat around Book 7: Healer’s Sword. And react by digging in their heels, like good conservatives. The trope of stodgy conservatives clinging to power in the face of brave new ideas is one I grew up with in Science Fiction. And I follow it to some extent. But nothing is ever simple in the Okal Rel Universe and Part 8: Gathering Storm deals with the shocks starting to shake the equilibrium, often from the perspective of the Demish instead of that of the clever trouble-makers. 
  1. If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?
Fix the typos! There always seem to be typos. I hate them.
  1. Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Oh yes! There always is. But I’ve learned to make my case in what I write and how I present it, and let people conclude what they will. I believe I’ve put plenty of meat into the sandwich to chew on. And I never come down 100% on one side of any argument, myself. Well, hardly ever. I really, really meant people to feel Ev’rel was a bad, bad person for what she does to Amel in Part 4: Throne Price, but some people think otherwise. I’ve decided I’m okay with it so long as I’ve portrayed my argument as clearly and honestly as I could including what those who disagree with me use for ammunition. I think I failed to anticipate how strongly Ev’rel being female would cloud the issue of power dynamics I intended to portray in a reverse-gender-dynamics way, to make my point. But the Amel/Ev’rel business is just a detail in the larger scope of the Okal Rel Saga. I suppose if there’s an overall message it is this: we don’t live in a video game, our actions count. People get hurt. People succeed or fail. We are part of a greater, interacting whole, and no one can act in isolation from the consequences of their behavior. We are no angels but if we don’t acknowledge the universality of social mechanisms for controlling destructive behavior, we will certainly end our days as a species as profound fools.
  1. Tell us about your book’s cover – where did the design come from and what was the design process like?
I am blessed in my cover artist Michelle Milburn. She has read the books and shares a lot of the vision with me. She and I and the publisher discuss ideas, she drafts a cover, and then the publisher has to approve it. We usually have a bit of back and forth there. But so far so good. And I am keeping my fingers crossed that Michelle will keep doing the covers through to the end of Part 10: Unholy Science.

Please let us know where your readers can stalk you:

Goodreads author page:

Twitter:  @okalrelsrv


What format is your book(s) available in (print, e-book, audio book, etc.)?

·         Trade paperback (the Saga)
·         Print on demand (Legacies)
·         Kindle (all)