Q&A: What is your favorite genre?

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Author Q&A: What is your favorite genre?

Science fiction. I’ve loved stories, especially stories about space and other planets, most of my life. This true whether you are talking novels or cinema. Honestly, when I was younger (middle school / high school), I did judge a book by its cover. I would go to the library or the bookstore and often select a book if it had a spaceship on the cover.

As an adult, I do more research into the book and don’t concern myself with the cover as much. 🙂

I write a lot of science fiction (if you’re interested in my works, a great place to start is my novelette Of Stars and Space available exclusive on Kindle ($0.99) and Kindle Unlimited). I also read and write general fiction / literary fiction works. So, I’m not exclusive to SciFi, but it is my favorite and has been for a long time.

How about you? What genre do you love the most? Drop a comment below. Also, if you have a question for a future Q&A about writing or books, I would love to hear it.

Meet Gary Westmorland (a character sketch – Gary and Collin vs. The Interdimensional Aliens)

When you live in a town as small as Smithville, sometimes your last name means people don’t give you much of a chance.

Gary Westmorland is a good kid who tries to avoid trouble (though there was that fire alarm incident). The problem is, everyone knows his dad is Bryce Westmorland, a man who can’t seem to stay out of trouble. When people look at 10-year-old Gary, instead of seeing a boy who tries his best, they see trouble waiting to happen.

Everything is about to change, though, when an alien named Martin shows up and asks Gary the question: “Come on, kid. You want to save the world or not?”

Adventure follows as Gary, his cousin Collin, and their new friend Martin set out to stop Mavis, an evil alien from another dimension, and her hoard of dragons. Gary will soon learn that he is the only one who can wield the weapon that will stop Mavis from taking over our universe, but fear and self-doubt threaten to stop him.

Gary and Collin vs. The Interdimensional Aliens is a story of overcoming fear and finding strength in reliance on others. You can sample the first chapter by clicking here, or purchase the book on Amazon for Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, or Paperback: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08J3TDVX1.

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Q&A: What authors are your favorite?

Author Q&A: Who have been your favorite authors as an adult?

Michael Crichton. When I was a teenager, Crichton was at the height of his popularity. I enjoyed reading many of his books, especially those with more of a SciFi flair. That carried into adulthood. Unfortunately, he passed away a few years ago but the books his estate has released since his death have been fun to read too.

CS Lewis. I didn’t read Narnia until I was in college, but I love the stories Lewis tells in that collection, as well as his Space Trilogy. Till We Have Faces is probably my favorite work among his fiction. I have also benefited greatly in my spiritual life from his non-fiction.

Ray Bradbury. I read Fahrenheit 451 as a high school assignment, and picked up Something Wicked This Way Comes on my own soon after. As an adult, though, I’ve come to enjoy his short story collections such as The Martian Chronicles (which inspired a work of my own called Of Stars and Space) and The Illustrated Man.

Fredrik Backman. I think Beartown may have been the first Backman book I read, then I went back and picked up some of his “older” writings like A Man Called Ove. There is something about his storytelling and style that resonates with me. He is on the short list of authors from whom I will purchase a new book without even reading the description.

How about you? Who have been some of your favorite authors? Drop a comment below. Also, if you have a question for a future Q&A about writing or books, I would love to hear it.

The Supervillain’s Song (Writing Prompt Wednesday)

I found this prompt from a defunct page on Tumbler. There wasn’t a link or attribution, so I don’t know who it originates with. If you know, I’d love to hear to I can give credit! Prompt: Tell the story of why a supervillain sings a song in the shower to get prepared for the day.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep.

“Richard.”

Beep. Beep.

“Richard!”

“Hmm?”

“Your alarm, babe.”

“Oh.” Beep. Beep. Bee… “Thanks.”

I watched from the doorway as my husband sat up on the side of the bed and stretched. For ten years, he and I have been married. For ten years, I have returned to the room to wake him after he slept through the alarm. I’m not sure why he even uses one.

But Richard Barnhart, if nothing else, is a man of habit.

“Coffee’s brewing.”

He cocked his head and grinned, gazing at me through squinty eyes. I blushed. My sister told me before I married Richard and every week since, “You could do better, Janie, you really could.”

Maybe Richard struggled with work and sometimes went days without showering. He could be a bit quirky, but he was also charming. That goofy grin and his sweet words melted my heart. When he made me mad, I couldn’t stay angry long.

And Richard Barnhart, if nothing else, is a man of commitment.

That’s hard to find nowadays, but he loves me, and he loves our son, and not once have I had a doubt about that.

“I’m making muffins,” I said. “Do you want eggs or sausage?”

“Eggs, please.”

I smiled and blew him a kiss. He returned the gesture.

Jonathon, our seven-year-old, sat at the kitchen table. It was Monday. Jonathon, without fail, asked for blueberry muffins on Mondays. They were my favorite breakfast, so I was happy to oblige. He drew on a sheet of paper with colored pencil—a scene with tall buildings, a bright yellow sun, and two men fighting in the street. One wore a brownish-gray guise that resembled an armadillo. The other sported black tights, a matching cape, and a purple mask. He held a laser gun of some kind that fired at the armadillo.

“Who wins?” I asked.

Jonathon glanced up, grinning from ear-to-ear. It was his father’s grin, that same charm. “The Darth Avenger, of course!”

“Of course.” I chuckled and patted his shoulder before I grabbed an egg and a frying pan.

The pipes clanked as Richard showered. It wouldn’t be too long before we heard his voice echoing through the walls. He sang the same song every day.

I love my husband, but Richard Barnhart, if nothing else, is a man who cannot carry a tune.

Still, he belted: “Woah, we’re halfway there! Wo-oah, livin’ on a prayer! Take my hand; we’ll make it, I swear. Wo-oah livin’ on a prayer! Livin’ on a prayer!”

Jonathon used to ask why daddy sang the same song every day. I would smile and tell him that it was our song. We often struggled to pay the bills. It frustrated Richard, but the song reminded us that we had the most important thing already.

He finished his shower. I pulled the muffins from the oven and slid the egg onto his plate. Richard emerged from the bedroom wearing a black Spandex suit with a matching cape. “This looks awesome, hon,” he said as he kissed my cheek and grabbed his plate and coffee. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.” I beamed, but my grin quickly faded. I pointed to the growing stack of bills on the counter. “Several of those are second notices.”

He nodded. “I know. I have a bank job today. That should take care of the pile and the next month’s.”

“What if the Amazing Armadillo shows up?”

“I got that covered.” Richard glanced at Jonathon. “Isn’t that right, son?”

“Yeah!” Jonathon’s eyes grew big. “Dad has a new shrink ray!”

“Is that what you’re drawing?” I asked.

Jonathon nodded.

“Okay.” I placed my hand on Richard’s chest. “Just be careful.”

“Always am.” We kissed. “Love you, hon.” Richard pulled on his purple mask and headed for the door, singing as he walked. “Oh, we’ve got to hold on, ready or not. You live for the fight when it’s all that you got!”

Richard Barnhart, if nothing else, is a man of hope.

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Meet Daniel Wagner (a character sketch – Until Summer)

He loves his son and longs to be a good dad, but he’s afraid he doesn’t know how.

When Daniel first met Meredith, he was an awkward teenager who was abandoned by his mother and raised by an uncle who struggled to show him love. Smoking pot and singing along with The Smashing Pumpkins helped him to drown out his feelings.

Fast-forward twenty years, and Daniel is struggling to raise his teenage son on his own and break free from his drug addiction. When he hits rock bottom, living in a car and digging for meals in dumpsters, he decides that placing his son back into foster care is the only way to give the boy an opportunity for a better life.

With his son placed as a foster child in Meredith’s home, Daniel reconnects with his old flame. But will it set him on a path toward healing and reunification, or will it give him an excuse to disappear into the demons of his addiction forever?

Until Summer is a story of love and hope against the darkness of trauma and addiction. You can find it on Amazon for Kindle and Kindle Unlimited and in paperback. Check out the free three-chapter sample.

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Photo by: unsplash.com/@henmankk

Q&A: What authors influenced you as a child?

Thinking back, there are three who come easily to mind.

Vicki Grove. She is a local author near my hometown. We read some of her books in class. She would also visit our elementary school and talk about life as an author.

Gary Paulsen. Hatchet, of course, is a classic. I also remember reading The River, Canyons, and Dogsong among others. He knew how to capture a boy’s sense of adventure.

Finally, Louis Sachar. His Wayside books have always stuck with me in their quirky humor. In fact, I’ve loved being able to read them with some of the foster kids we’ve had, and even sing along: “I’ve got one sock, looking for the other. One sock, looking for it’s brother…”

The thing that really struck me about Sachar was the interaction he would take with his fans. In the fifth grade, I believe, we had to write a letter to one of our favorite authors and I chose him. He wrote back, a very nice handwritten letter. Sometime later, I sent him another letter and talked about wanting to be an author. Again, he sent back a letter that was quite encouraging.

Those are the three that came quickly to mind.

If you have a question about writing, my books, or me as an author, I’d love to hear it. Please include it in a comment!

The Firefighter and the Cat (Writing Prompt Wednesday)

For Christmas, my wife bought me a Writing Prompts journal. One of the prompts is: Express the thoughts of a firefighter trying to rescue a kitten stuck in a tree. Here’s my response. Share in the comments your 500-word or less response to the prompt.

You’ve gotta be kidding me. Not this again–a cat, another cat!

I’ve been doing this job for thirty years. Do you realize how many cats I’ve rescued? It’s gotta be at least one a week. I’ve never once had to rescue a person from a tree. Well, actually, there was Mrs. Parker that one time, but that was after she climbed into the tree to rescue her dumb cat! That cat actually jumped out.

“His name is Mr. Pickles!” the little girl on the ground calls up.

Mr. Pickles? Give me a break. Why do parents let their kids name living creatures things like Mr. Pickles? At least Darla and Donnie wanted to call our puppy Sadie. I like Sadie. She’s a good dog and has a good name.

And she doesn’t get stuck in trees.

These stupid cats, though…

Sigh. There is one bright side–it’s my last day on the job. Tomorrow, I begin a life of retirement. My coworkers insist that I’m still young. I don’t know about that. Yeah, I’m barely into my fifties, but after thirty-years of lugging equipment around and running into burning buildings? I’m ready to call it quits.

Besides, Donnie is going to be a senior. I really want to make more of his games.

I reach the top of the ladder and the cat looks me in the eyes and meows. Honestly, I see no fear in his face. “Why do you do this?” I ask. He licks his paw.

Curious.

Unless, maybe all these cats I’ve rescued were never really in distress? Maybe they just get themselves in the trees to get away? I mean, have you met their owners?

I grab a branch and pull myself into the tree.

“Hey, Mike! What are you doing?” a voice calls from below.

The cat moves, allowing me to wiggle toward the trunk. I feel safer there. Mr. Pickles then crawls into my lap and curls up. You know, the view’s not bad from here. I think I’ll stay for a little while.

Photo cred: unsplash.com/@berg_photo