Thursday, April 28, 2016

Reader Appreciation Raffle

Reader Appreciation Time! Want To Win A Kindle Fire???

Hi Reader People!
Thanks to you, Blackbird Summer is doing great! So great, in fact, that I have decided to do a thank you give-away raffle for the people who have helped the most--you guys, the readers!
During May, you can enter to win a Kindle Fire
There are three ways to enter.

*Everyone on my email list is entered one time.
So you can click RIGHT HERE and sign up for my newsletter! 

*Leave a Review.
After reading Blackbird Summer- leave an honest review on Amazon. Then- screen shot your review and either email it to me (you can send it to blackbirdsummerbook @ gmail. com---without the spaces), or message me on Facebook with the pic! AND JUST TO BE CLEAR- I am not buying reviews. A one or two star review that enters has the same chance at winning as a five star. If you leave your honest review and send me proof--then you are entered to win the Kindle. If you haven't left a review yet- no worries! The drawing isn't until May 30th
And if you haven't read it yet? Well- CLICK RIGHT HERE to get your copy.

*Come to an Event.
There will be a chance to enter at every event where I am hosting or signing. Keep an eye on the events tab on my website (or follow me on twitter) to see if I will be signing somewhere near you--then pop in and say hi! 

RECAP: 3 ways to enter!
*Join the newsletter
*Leave a review (& send me the screen shot)
*Come to an event!

You can do ONE or triple your chances by doing ALL THREE!

As always thanks for your continued support! I hope to have the sequel to you soon!
Find me on Twitter or Facebook and say hello. :-)
HAPPY READING! & May the odds be ever in your favor... (sorry. I just HAD to say it!) 

The fine print:
Drawing held on May 30th. Many will enter and one will win (I feel like there is a good highlander pun I should be using right here). 
The Kindle Fire is the kindle fire 7 inch tablet. I am not responsible for defects or damage during shipping. I will try for one week to contact the winner via social media and email- after a week if the winner doesn't respond they forfeit and  I will draw again. 
This is not an attempt to bribe reviewers. Your honest review is appreciated and what you say in said review does not affect your chances of winning. It is all random via an online tool.

Friday, April 15, 2016

#RT16: Come See Me on Saturday & Sunday

Come Say Hi!

RT16 has been an absolute BLAST! Not only have I attended some amazing workshops and seminars, but I have met several of my awesome Twitter friends in person for the first time. Monica Hoffman seriously saved my day on the very first morning of the convention, when I was having flashbacks to the first day of a new school. Who says writers are supposed to be introverts? Not only is Monica a super talented writer, but she puts the "fly" in social butterfly (ya see what I did there???).  I was standing in a line to get food (which, ya know, that's kinda what I spend most of my life doing. I like to eat, okay?) and Amanda Heger recognized my Blackbird Summer button. It was super awesome because we follow each other on Instagram. (Her book WITHOUT BORDERS looks amazing, btw. You should order it.)
AND THEN
I was walking with my tray of  food (double order of potstickers, thank you very much. Vegas gives you an appetite) when I heard someone call out, "EM? Em Shotwell?" It was the wonderful Meredith Tate! Meredith was featured in my LOVE LETTER CHALLENGE and her book, MISSING PIECES, is pretty high on my TBR list. So the totally sweet Meredith invited me to sit with her group of RT friends, which is where I met L.H. Nicole who writes YA King Author retellings. (Definitely adding them to my list of must reads...)

I also tried Indian food for the first time with fellow southern-gothic writer Ashley Hearn, Monica Hoffman (yep. I stuck to her like glue that first day, lol. #LifeSaver) and the amazingly talented L.L. McKinney (read about her books here). It was so great talking shop with these ladies. <3 <3

If you have the opportunity to attend RT next year- I can't say this enough: DO IT.

AND IF YOU ARE HERE NOW
then say hello! I will be signing BLACKBIRD SUMMER tomorrow at the Giant Book Fair and on Sunday at the Reader-Writer-Roundup! I'd love to meet you! :-)


Monday, April 4, 2016

The Six Friends Every Writer Needs

Someone once said that writing a short story is a love affair, but writing a book is a marriage. I agree, but what they didn’t say, is that the marriage is completely dysfunctional.

A novel is a greedy spouse, demanding your free time and to always be put first. You become obsessive, thinking about the novel and how you can make it better. You blow off exercise and drink an obscene amount of caffeine, just to stay focused on your book. You fear the rejection that is inevitable (hello query letters), and before you know it, you are a crazy person, babbling to yourself about characters and plot holes. You have no idea who is president or about the newest dance craze, or even when you last showered.

Okay. Maybe that is a little dramatic. Maybe.
Creating people who kill each other in a fake world with its own rules, can be draining. (Not to say it isn’t also very rewarding and kind of fun…but definitely draining).

But fear not! You don’t have to be destined to end up in a sadistic marriage with the written word. With the support of like-minded (and sometimes opposite-minded) friends, you can marry your book and hold on to your sanity. Surrounding yourself with these six friends will keep you happy and healthy…at least for now.

The Mentor
The mentor is the friend who gives you hope. They are often your rock, offering advice and suggestions. This friend is a few (or more) steps ahead of you in their writing career. They are a fount of knowledge, and their brain is yours for the picking. Learn from their mistakes, and ask them all the questions you’d feel dumb asking anyone else.

They won’t mind, because they have been there. They understand.

The Comrade
If you were running a 5k, this is the friend who would be trudging along, keeping pace next to you. This doesn’t mean that you are necessarily in the exact same boat all of the time (You may be revising, while they may be querying, etc.), only that you began your writing journey about the same time. You and the comrade celebrate each other’s accomplishments, and commiserate over form rejections.

This person UNDERSTANDS, because they are there, too.

The Spaz
The spaz may or may not also be a writer. They are that friend who is seriously super excited for you. They share your Facebook posts, comment on your blog entries, and retweet your pitch party tweets. They offer a great boost of confidence because they truly want you to succeed.

The “Rule of Spaz” states “to have a spaz, you must also be someone else’s spaz.” See? It’s a rule. I didn’t make it up. So go be happy for someone and spaz out a little.

The Pleasure Reader
I know what you are thinking—if you have writer friends then, DUH, they read.
But this friend, the pleasure-reader, is different. They have no desire to be a writer. They love a good story and often have their nose in a book, not reading critically, but instead for pure joy.
The pleasure-reader—unlike the comrade—doesn’t want to talk about plot devices or tropes. They may not can tell you how to fix that problem in Chapter 9, but rest assured they read enough to know that there definitely IS a problem.
The pleasure-reader has most in common with your audience, and is a valuable resource—especially if they are open to perusing your pages.
Just don’t get mad when they tell you they hated Chapter 9…but aren’t exactly sure why.

The Non-Reader
A writer with a friend who doesn’t read? Is it possible?
Yes. Not only is it possible, but it is important for your sanity. The non-reader will force you get your head out of your story and think about something else.

The non-reader doesn’t care about your word count. Their eyes glaze over when you gush over your characters, and they couldn’t care less about comp titles. The non-reader doesn’t get your dorky literary jokes and will call you out when you sound like a douche. (Example-Hey, we are all glad you came to this party—but nobody wants to hear about who is going to assassinate good King Brickadeer or if you should give him blond hair or black hair. Drink this glass of wine and shut up.)

Your Non-Reader friend will drag you into the land of the living for yoga, or lunch, or anything, ANYTHING but your WIP. They aren’t rude—they are happy you are doing what you love—but one thing is for certain: They aren’t reading what you’re writing.
And that’s more than okay.

The Mentee
Cue that Elton John song and someone hold up a baby lion, because we have come full circle. (You know, like the circle of life? Yeah. It’s a stretch, I know.)
While it is important to have a mentor, it is also important to BE a mentor.
Befriend a Newb. (You remember how intimidated you were by everyone who seemed to know what they were doing?) Once you start talking to someone just starting out on this crazy writing-dream, you will realize how much info you have collected in the back of that big ole brain of yours.
You shouldn’t have a mentee-friend only because it is the nice thing to do (but you should and it is) but also because you will get better by helping them get better. Sure, reading your mentee’s first attempt at a query letter will remind you how far you’ve come, but helping them to tighten their writing will also make you aware of your own wordiness.

Plus- you know you are dying to explain the finer points of pitching, (something your own mentor taught you).

*********************************************

Em Shotwell is the author of Blackbird Summer (City Owl Press, 2016). She lives in South Louisiana with a husband who spoils her and two mini-superheroes who call her mom. Em thinks the most interesting characters are the ones who live on the sidelines, and that small towns often hide the biggest secrets. She is inspired by tall tales and local legends.
When she’s not writing about misfits and oddballs, Em enjoys spending time outdoors hiking, or hanging out inside, daydreaming and wishing she could play the banjo. 

Buy your copy of Blackbird Summer right here!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cover Reveal: Bite Somebody by: Sara Dobie Bauer

I am so excited to bring you the cover for author Sara Dobie Bauer's novel, BITE SOMEBODY. Ms. Bauer participated in the Love Letter Challenge on this blog in February,  and we got to see a sneak peak of her MC. Just to jog your memory--she was hilarious! I loved the snarky humor. It was a fresh take on the vampire-romance genre.  To celebrate her cover reveal, Sara Dobie Bauer is hosting a give-away over on Goodreads. You should go join. Now. Right now. Go ahead. I'll wait here.

Okay. You back? Did you join the give away? Good! Now, I also have to say- I LOVE THIS COVER.

Wanna see? Sure you do!


Wanna know more about this lovely book? Yes. Yes, you do.Check out the official blurb below and then add this book to your TBR list pronto! 


“Do you want to be perfect?” 
That’s what Danny asked Celia the night he turned her into a vampire. Three months have passed since, and immortality didn’t transform her into the glamorous, sexy vamp she was expecting, but left her awkward, lonely, and working at a Florida gas station. On top of that, she’s a giant screw-up of an immortal, because the only blood she consumes is from illegally obtained hospital blood bags. What she needs to do—according to her moody vampire friend Imogene—is just … bite somebody. But Celia wants her first bite to be special, and she has yet to meet Mr. Right Bite. 

Then, Ian moves in next door. His scent creeps through her kitchen wall and makes her nose tingle, but insecure Celia can’t bring herself to meet the guy face-to-face. When she finally gets a look at Ian’s cyclist physique, curly black hair, and sun-kissed skin, other parts of Celia tingle, as well. Could he be the first bite she’s been waiting for to complete her vampire transformation? His kisses certainly have a way of making her fangs throb. Just when Celia starts to believe Ian may be the fairy tale ending she always wanted, her jerk of a creator returns to town, which spells nothing but trouble for everyone involved. 

Bite Somebody will be available in trade paperback and ebook via Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, World Weaver Press, and other online retailers, and for wholesale through Ingram.

********************************************
Sara Dobie Bauer is a writer, model, and mental health advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She spends most days at home in her pajamas as a book nerd and sex-pert for SheKnows.com. Her short story, “Don’t Ball the Boss,” was nominated for the 2015 Pushcart Prize, inspired by her shameless crush on Benedict Cumberbatch. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she would really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is also the author of Wolf Among Sheep, Life without Harry, and Forever Dead. 

Read more at SaraDobieBauer.com or find her on Twitter @SaraDobie.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Book Spotlight: THE DETECTIVE'S BROTHER

Today on the blog, I am spotlighting a book from a genre that I have never spotlighted before: WESTERN. More specifically: Western Romance!
Check out this amazing debut from author Rebecca Lovell!

The Detective's Brother By: Rebecca Lovell


When tragedy befalls the only female detective in the Blackthorn Agency, it falls to Simon Creed to fulfill her dying wish of finding her half-brother, Quinn Donahue. Upon learning his whereabouts in the mountains of Colorado, Creed invites him to Texas to claim his sister's estate.

Quinn Donahue isn't a man at all, much to Simon's chagrin. But, she is able to convince him to let her fill her sister’s shoes at the agency.

It doesn’t take long for Creed to discover Quinn's secret, but she has a long way to go before she discovers his. Taking a bullet to save Creed's life makes the two acknowledge the feelings each has for the other, but can they solve the mystery of who is trying to kill Creed before they are torn apart forever?


Get your copy today:


About Rebecca Lovell
Rebecca Lovell was born and raised in Fort Worth Texas, and has loved learning about its history since she first visited the Stockyards. She has been writing since she was a teenager, and is living proof of the fact that anyone’s writing can improve if they practice hard enough. Historical fiction is one of her favorite genres to read as well as write because she loves learning about new culture and eras, especially ones that she hasn’t read before.

Though she traveled the country extensively, she currently lives in Texas with her high school sweetheart husband and a number of vocal and pushy cats.
Rebecca is currently hard at work on her next historical Western novel, Framed, and a short contemporary romance whose title eludes her.

Visit Rebecca Lovell online:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Book: LEAVE A MARK by: Stephanie Fournet

Leave a Mark by Stephanie Fournet | Excerpt Blitz | JenHalliganPR.com
Hi guys! 
There isn't much that I like more than supporting other authors. Bonus points if they are local! I am proud to bring you an excerpt and release day info on Lafayette Louisiana native, Stephanie Fournet's newest Contemporary Romance, LEAVE A MARK. Enjoy the excerpt and teaser photos, & don't forget to check out the give-away at the bottom of the page!  





Leave a Mark by Stephanie Fournet | JenHalliganPR.com 

LEAVE A MARK by Stephanie Fournet 
Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing 
Release Date: April 28, 2016
Dyed, pierced, and covered in tattoos, Wren Blanchard is the exact opposite of everything Dr. Lee Hawthorne thought he wanted. His residency is almost finished. With the perfect job, the beautiful house, and the polished girlfriend, he knows he should be happy, yet he isn't. But once Wren lands in his ER with her sharp tongue and artist’s soul, she leaves a mark on him that just won’t fade. Wren knows the good doctor is way out of her league. To people like him, she's a circus freak. Besides, she's not the type to get hung up on guys, especially ones with midnight blue eyes—ones who know all about antiques, crack bad jokes, and love Joss Whedon. No. She doesn't need that. After all, she has friends, a psychotic cat, and a promising career as one of the best tattoo artists in town. And it’s enough. Really, it is. Or it would be if Lee weren’t there every time she turned around. One kiss seals their fate. Their attraction is undeniable--but Wren’s past is full of ghosts. Is their bond strong enough for a solid future? Or will their new relationship crumble beneath the weight of all she carries? Goodreads

Excerpt from Leave a Mark

She studied him for a moment. “Are you still in your residency?” The question surprised him. “Yes. Is it that obvious?” Her startled laughter was the only answer he needed. And Lee wanted to hear it again — even if she laughed at him. “I mean, I’m licensed. It’s not like I just have my learner’s permit or anything.” It was a bad joke. An awful joke, but it worked because she kept laughing. Her laughter was a mix of high and low notes, like a handbell choir. And like music, he could feel it in his chest. “That’s not what I meant,” she said, her smile untamed. “You just look really young, and I’ve heard that residents have — like — negative time.” He gave her a helpless grin. “Negative time. That’s about right. Who told you that?” Her smile demurred. “One of my clients.” “One of your clients is a resident?” His curiosity pounced. Did he know someone who was secretly covered in Wren’s work? “Who?” She shook her head, but her smile never failed. “I don’t tat and tell. Tattooing is very personal. If someone wants you to see their work, you’ll see it. But I don’t talk about my clients.” Even though he was the one asking, Lee liked that she wouldn’t answer. “You don’t talk about them at all?” Wren raised and dropped her right shoulder in a half shrug, but she still smiled at him. “Well, I don’t identify them.” Her voice softened, but Lee thought he heard a touch of pride. “I’ll talk about the artwork, or I’ll retell a funny story someone told me while I worked on them, but I don’t go around talking about who was in my parlor.” “That’s cool,” he managed, even though it was more than cool. After seeing her artwork on the walls of her apartment, he already respected her as a professional, but she clearly had integrity on top of talent. He wanted to know more, but more than anything, Lee wanted her to keep talking. “What kind of tats did you do today?” Her smile grew, and again her cheeks colored. He found his eye drawn to the translucent skin below her cheekbones. Wren’s fair complexion was an alluring contrast to her black and blue hair, but when she blushed, Lee found it impossible to look away. “Well, let’s see…” Her green eyes swiveled to the ceiling as she recounted. “I did a fleur-de-lis for this girl who turned eighteen today. I inked a Captain America shield on this guy’s bicep—” Lee laughed, not so much about the tattoo choice, but at the look of amusement in her eyes. “Yeah, he was definitely an Avengers fan... Um…” She paused to tally on her fingers. “…I touched up a Celtic knot for a lady, and I worked on a larger piece for one of my regulars.” “What was it?” Lee asked, intrigued with the way her face softened when she thought about her work. “Oh, it’s a dragon. Pretty big.” Wren drew a serpentine shape across her chest. “A piece like that needs to be worked on in stages, so we did some of the shading today.” He had more questions. He could have stood there listening to her all night, but the rational part of his brain told him to give it a rest. They were in the middle of the grocery store. If he wanted to talk to her more, he should ask her out for coffee. But you can’t ask her out. You’re seeing someone. “You’re really talented. I’m sure you stay pretty busy. You seem…” He couldn’t find the words for what he wanted to say. He wanted to tell her that she seemed like the kind of person he could talk to — listen to — for hours. And that he would’ve liked the chance. That she was special, and he knew it. “…you seem perfect — I mean... you are unique.” He didn’t question why she stared at him with unblinking eyes. What the hell had he just said? She was perfect? Who talked like that? But in the seconds after he’d blurted out the words, he watched her eyes light with a smile — a surprised and genuine smile, and he realized he didn’t regret the words at all. “Um... thank you?” What had been pink on her cheeks was now scarlet, and Lee thought he might have turned a little pink, too. “I should let you get back to your shopping,” he said, clearing his throat. He didn’t want to walk away. Maybe if he just stood there, she’d leave first, and he’d be able to watch her go. “Yeah…” She didn’t move. Neither of them moved. “…yeah, I should go.” “It was great running into you,” he said in a rush. “I’m glad you are feeling better.” “It was nice running into you, too, Dr.—” “Lee,” he interjected. She bit her lip and smiled. “Lee,” she said with a nod. “It was so nice, Lee.” It was selfish. He’d made her say his name and, again, as he knew he would, he felt a stirring — like fingers running down his sternum. He’d never liked the sound of his name so much. “Wren,” he said with a nod, liking the feel of her name on his tongue even more. “Goodnight.” She turned and left him.
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About the Author
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
Stephanie Fournet | JenHalliganPR.comStephanie Fournet, author of Fall Semester, Legacy, and Butterfly Ginger, lives in Lafayette, Louisiana—not far from the Saint Streets where her novels are set. She shares her home with her husband John and her daughter Hannah, their needy dogs Gladys and Mabel, and an immortal blue finch named Baby Blue. When she isn’t writing romance novels, she is usually helping students get into college or running. She loves hearing from fans, so look for her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and stephaniefournet.com.




Giveaway


Monday, March 21, 2016

Surprise Surprise Surprise: Blackbird Summer Is Available in Paperback!

Don't you just love it when
stumble across good news? That is what happened to me today. My publisher was expecting for the paperback version of Blackbird Summer to be available on Tuesday (tomorrow), but when doing a little clicking over on Amazon (ya know---also known as procrastinating) I happened to find out that the paperback is out TODAY! A day earlier than anticipated! The ebook will still be released on the scheduled day of April 5th--but if you are wanting to hold the book in your hand and see it on your shelf- you can order your copy today. Just click right HERE.


Stay tuned and check back- I hope to do a pretty awesome give-away soon. In the meantime- here is the blurb to Blackbird Summer:


 When the world fears you, being Gifted is a curse. 

In the cornerstone of the rural south, Brooklyn, Mississippi, no one dares make eye contact with the strange Caibre family. Until the rewards are worth the cost. The townsfolk come, cash in hand, always at night, to pay for services only a Gifted can provide. 
No matter the Gifts prevalent in her family, at twenty-one, Tallulah is expected to follow the path laid out for her: marriage, babies, and helping her mama teach the family home school program. She’s resigned to live the quiet life and stay out of trouble…until she meets Logan. 
An outsider and all around rebel, Logan doesn’t care about her family’s reputation. Yet after a tragic loss wreaks havoc on the crumbling relationship between the Caibres and the townsfolk, Tallulah must decide if love and freedom are worth risking everything.

Here is one of the songs from the playlist that I wore out while writing Blackbird Summer:



Want to find out more about Blackbird Summer? Check out these awesome blogs!




OR- you can read a little "extra" from my valentine's day blog post. It features characters from Blackbird Summer:
http://www.emshotwell.com/2016/02/love-letter-challenge-author-em-shotwell.html








Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Brooklyn, MS

OUR TOWN? 

Why I chose the name "Brooklyn"

I have had a surprising number of people ask me why I chose to name the town in my debut novel, BLACKBIRD SUMMER, Brooklyn, MS.  Usually (okay...always) the person asking me this is from "back home" in Mississippi where I spent a good part of my childhood. I think what is being asked, indirectly, is "Is this our town?"

I can certainly see why they'd ask, although while writing the book it honestly never crossed my mind. I am from a town called Bogue Chitto. If you pronounce it correctly, then chances are you have family there. Bogue Chitto is a dot on the map left over from a time when railroads were king. What I understand from my two Grandmas is that it used to be a happening place, once upon a time. 

Now, it's a sleepy little village whose night life centers around high school sports and church services. The kids in Bogue Chitto grow up "going to town" either in Mccomb, which is ten minutes in one direction (and where you go to sneak beer), or Brookhaven, which is ten minutes in the other direction (and where you go to see a movie). 

NOW you see the question? BROOKHAVEN? BROOKLYN?

While some of the best and worst of every town I have lived in (and there have been many) has surely seeped into the story, Brooklyn Mississippi is NOT modeled after Brookhaven or Bogue Chitto or anywhere else. It is its own little town with its own cast of characters,

In fact, Logan, the love interest (hubba hubba) actually mentions teaching "over at the arts highschool in Brookhaven." 

I chose the name Brooklyn because I liked the contrast of a well known city, sharing a name with a drive-through town. There already is a Philadelphia, Mississippi, and a Hollywood, Mississippi. Manhattan didn't roll off the tongue like I wanted--so Brooklyn it was. Brooklyn makes me think "tough" and "strong" and maybe "hard-headed." The people in my fictional town are all of those things and more.

However, if you pay attention, Mississippi family, there is an Easter Egg dedicated to the town I first called home.

I exaggerated some of the features, sure, but Myrtle's Diner which is described as
"...a squat building with a flat roof and bricks the color of peanut butter. The few windows had been painted over during its stint as the Brooklyn Masonic Lodge, and it was a testament to Myrtle's cooking that people flocked to her business despite such an ugly building and busy-body owner."  Another time it is referred to as "the world's ugliest lego block."  In the book it sets in a dusty parking lot instead of a manicured lawn, and there are less windows than in real life. But....

Do any of my Mississippi peeps know where  I am talking about yet?

Wanna read BLACKBIRD SUMMER? Pre order your copy today from Amazon  /  Barnes & Noble /  Kobo

& ask for it at your favorite local book shop! 


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Release Day Interview With Author Larry Hodges

Happy book birthday to Larry Hodges & his latest sci-fi release

CAMPAIGN 2100: GAME OF SCORPIONS


“Larry Hodges is an insightful political commentator and a kick-ass science-fiction writer. A dynamite novel full of twists and turns; this futuristic House of Cards is both entertaining and thought-provoking." — Robert J. Sawyer, Hugo Award-winning author of Quantum Night

Platt ran the successful 2095 campaign of the Frenchman Corbin Dubois for president of Earth. Toby soon realizes it was a horrible mistake.
   
An alien ambassador lands outside the United Nations, sparking a crisis. Inspired by the ambassador, Toby resigns from the campaign in protest of Dubois's corrupt politics—but his daughter Lara takes over. Toby decides to challenge the two major parties—one conservative, one liberal—and run for president himself with a third-party moderate challenge. He vows to put his daughter out of a job.

The alien ambassador tags along on the campaign trail as she learns the violent history and eye-opening politics of 2100 Earth. The campaign for president of Earth takes us to every continent as father and daughter battle for electoral votes and clash over the ideas and issues facing the world of 2100 in this bareknuckle, fight-to-the-finish political campaign. 

Buy your copy of CAMPAIGN 2100 GAME OF SCORPIONS today!
Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo / World Weaver Press / & everywhere online books are sold! 

Lets get to know Larry...

Did you have a favorite character to write? And what was your favorite part of creating that character?

There are four main characters in the novel: Toby, Bruce, Twenty-Two, and Feodora. And I have a confession to make: all four of them are me. Toby is my pragmatic idealistic side. Bruce is my sarcastic idealistic side. Twenty-Two is my naively idealistic side. And Feodora is my super-hero side. Note that three of them are truly idealistic in their own way – that’s why I so wanted to write this novel. They’re basically idealistic moderates, which to some would seem a contradiction.

I probably had the most fun writing for Bruce since I could really let myself go and say things I could never otherwise say – I was unleashed! I knew in advance I’d be doing this, and wrote pages and pages of dialog for him before I even started the novel. But after I began the novel, a strange thing happened – a side character that I had no plans for showed up and began stealing the show, and next thing I know I’m having a blast writing for Feodora, the VP candidate who’s practically a super-hero, and a match for Bruce in sarcasm – but while he’s loudly sarcastic, hers is understated. Those who read the book say she’s the breakout character.

Do you prefer your heroes or villains? 

In most of my writing, I have more fun with villains, but in this novel, I had more fun with the good guys. They are all idealistic, but each has their problems and idiosyncrasies, with great chemistry together. Bruce might be considered an anti-hero, even though he’s always doing the “right” thing, but since he looks down on almost everyone – he calls the masses “chimpanzees” – he has a dark side that was fun to write.

If you could go to lunch with one of your characters in real life- who'd you pick and why?

That’s a tough call between Feodora and Twenty-Two. Feodora would be more entertaining, but I’d have to go with Twenty-Two – I could spend hours asking her about life on Grod, her home planet that circles Tau Ceti. If I had lunch with Bruce I’d probably slug him, he thinks he’s so smart. (He is.)


Do you have a favorite quote from your book?


There are so many it’s tough to pick one. So I’m going to cheat and give my Top Twelve! In no particular order…

1.       "They say liberals have no head, and conservatives no heart. Well, I can't stomach either of them, so moderates must have no stomach." -Toby

2.       "Lara, I love you, but if I have to go to hell and back, I'm going to put you out of a job." -Toby, to his daughter.

3.       "Who's worse, a bad king or the kingmaker?" -Toby

4.       "Honest politicians get funding from those who support their policies; dishonest ones 
change their policies to get funding." -Bruce

5.       "Politics is like table tennis. You're deceptive, you go for the kill, and you always put a spin on things." -Bruce

6.       "We're not going to lose our soul, just lease it out for a while." -Bruce

7.       "Extremism in the pursuit of moderation is no vice." –Bruce

8.       “You’d rather lose because a 16-year-old named after a cartoon character mindlessly voted for the guy his ignorant parents told him to vote for?” -Bruce

9.       “We’ve got a president running for re-election who’s perfected the art of ignorance for the masses; we’ve got a far-left zealot who’s a political carcass in a suit running against him; and we’ve got a galactic civilization out there, watching to see what we do. What do you want to do, Toby?” –Bruce

10.    “Ah, the mark of leadership, following the people to stay in front.” –Feodora

11.   “In Russia, everyone is politician.” -Feodora

12.   “Let me tell you history of your country. Before your Civil War, people would say, ‘The United States are.’ After Civil War, people say, ‘The United States is.’ It switch from plural to singular, and that’s when your country stopped being a collection of states and became one country. Is Russian Federation a country or a collection of countries? Nobody say, ‘Russian Federation are.’ They say, ‘Russian Federation is.’ Singular. Because we are one country. Like your Lincoln, we will keep this union together.” –Feodora


I ask everyone this- but if you were trapped on a deserted island and could have one book for entertainment- what book would you pick?
Once again I’m going to cheat and go for a series instead of a single book. The problem here is not just choosing the novel I most enjoyed, but one that I would enjoy rereading. Plus, I want something long! The finalists are Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, The Name of the Wind, and the WWW series. Harry Potter might have won for initial reading, but once read, I’m not as interested in rereading it. Lord of the Rings is up there, but I’ve already read it four times so I think that’s enough. The WWW series (three books) isn’t long enough (sorry Robert!), and The Name of the Wind is only two (very long) books, so I want more before I commit - and so the winner is . . . Game of Thrones!



Larry Hodges, from Germantown, MD, was going to be a math professor (bachelor's in math), but science fiction writing and table tennis (yes, ping-pong) sidetracked him, and now he writes (and coaches the latter) for a living. He is an active member of Science Fiction Writers of America with over 70 short story sales. Campaign 2100: Game of Scorpions is his third novel, and combines three of his favorite things: science fiction, politics, and table tennis. He's a graduate of the six-week 2006 Odyssey Writers Workshop and the 2008 Taos Toolbox Writers Workshop, and is a member of Codexwriters.com. His story "The Awakening" was the unanimous grand prize winner at the 2010 Garden State Horror Writers Short Story Competition. He's a full-time writer with eleven books and over 1600 published articles in over 150 different publications. He also writes about and coaches the Olympic Sport of Table Tennis, is a member of the USA Table Tennis Hall of Fame (Google it!), and once beat someone using an ice cube as a racket. Visit him at larryhodges.org.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Blackbird Summer Available for Pre-Order

Blackbird Summer is now available for pre-order (in ebook form) from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo

“Em’s writing is stunning. She has a unique voice while also reminding me of some of my longtime favorite established authors. This book is full of passion, heart, mystery and wonder. I loved it hard!”- Laura, Book Blogger and Goodreads reviewer. (Link)

It seems crazy...surreal... that my book, Blackbird Summer, releases in exactly one month! This has been a long journey made up of lots of hard work and now that everything is coming to fruition, I am a box of mixed emotions. (I know I still owe a post about my experience writing and finding a publisher--and I promise it is coming.) 

I am including links to everywhere the book will be available. Some of these links will redirect you to my publisher's website until release day. But the Amazon and Barnes & Noble link will take you to their sites where you can preorder the ebook, if you wish.

“Em had me hooked right from the start. I loved Tallulah and her, stubbornly independent sister, Delia. All her characters jumped off the page. They had great depth, each with their own personality and I could relate to them.”- Elesha Teskey, Author, Book blogger and Goodreads reviewer (Link)