Monthly Archives: December 2013

Is the grass greener on the other side? Only S.A. Check knows for sure

Thanks for being with us today. I’ve enjoyed reading your snippets and excerpts of this story—glad you could be here!

First, would you tell us a bit about yourself? Hi. I’m S.A. Check and I’m a sci-fi / fantasy author. Thanks for having me!

What area of the country do you live in, do you have a family, pets, etc.? I grew up and write from southwestern PA. I’m a product of a coal mining patch town that filled the days of my youth with adventures exploring abandoned mine shafts, swimming in ponds, and having winter bonfires in deserted coke ovens. My wife is an E.R. nurse and I have a tween daughter whose imagination dwarfs my own.

Are you a coffee fiend, or do you have another “addiction” you must have on your desk at all times? Every few years I think my taste buds may have matured enough that I’ll enjoy a hot cup of java and I’ll give it a shot but it still tastes like crap to me (apologies to all coffee lovers out there). I can’t say there’s any certain flavor that I have a particular bias towards but, in general, not my cup of…yeah you get it. I do love me some milk but my wife and daughter laugh when I order vanilla milk instead of calling it white. What?

What’s your education, if it’s relevant to your writing, and how does that education help you/or do you find that you can write well even without the diploma others might think they must have? I’m a PennState grad and proud of it. My degree is in English / Writing Option and while it may not have been the best suited to help me land a job in the market post-graduation, I’m still glad I travelled that literary road. Do you need a degree like mine to pursue a writing career? Absolutely not, but it forced me to examine a lot more divergent genres than I had before college and I really feel it helped me round out as a writer.

WTG_cover_eBook_mediumTell us about your most recent publication. Welcome to GreenGrass is a straight up science fiction fantasy adventure centered on a murder mystery.  I started writing the novel back in 2008 and have revised and re-touched it more times than I can count. The story is about family, in whatever non-traditional form it may take, and what it means to be a part of the world around you. The main character, John Traveller, is tested and torn but at his center he holds true to some core beliefs. When Dave Barnett from Bedlam Press / Necro Publications decided to pick it up, I was thrilled this would be my debut title. I’ve finished a couple other novels since GreenGrass but it’s always held a special place for me.

What inspired you to write this story? This was the kind of book that I would lose myself in as a reader, a world built all on my own with endless possibilities and countless tales that could spring from within the domed city. I enjoyed every minute of crafting GreenGrass and it really was a novel that I wrote as much for myself than the prospect of publishing but then you come to the point that it’s done and you say, “I wonder if anyone else would like this?”, and here I am.

How would you best describe your books? I try to keep my books fast, fun, and entertaining. I consider myself plot-centric at times and I spend a lot of effort in pulling together tight story arcs. I just want a reader to enjoy themselves and read the last page and be a little disappointed that the ride is over but be glad they bought the ticket.

What is your favorite genre to write? Most of my writing leans towards worlds of the fantastical nature. I think science fiction and fantasy really allow an author to let loose with their imaginations and disregard convention a bit but I’ve done a few realistic fiction shorts that I’m proud of too. Check out Tangled Lines, a short story I contributed to a charity anthology, Hazard Yet Forward, out last year.

To read? I read a lot of scifi and fantasy novels but I always grab something totally out of genre every fourth or fifth book when it catches my eye. I enjoy Jim Butcher’s Dresden series and lately I’ve been reading A. Lee Martinez’s work, and I read Joe Hill’s Horns.  If you keep my entertained, maybe a chuckle or two along the way, I’ll read it, even if it’s the instruction manual to my microwave.

What would you write if you could write anything you wanted to write? Wow…that’s up there with a wood chuck would chuck wood. I think I’m already writing the kind of tales I want. I grew up on comics and they’ve influenced my writing as much as anything else I’ve read. I really put everything I can into one of my novels and try not to hold back. I keep the strong language to a minimum and the violence intrinsic to the story. One of my favorite things about John Traveller in Welcome to GreenGrass is his use of the word thunderin’ in lieu of other curse words. It’s fun and really adds something to his character.

What do you most like about writing? I love the initial phases of creating and developing a project. The idea phase when you’re trying to piece together something and see if the kindle (no pun intended) takes flame. Maybe it’s a thought here or a twist there that I jot down until the novel begins to take focus. I always try to outline my novels to a certain degree and it’s the one point in the process that I let loose with pen to paper and scribble down some mad notes. Outlining by hand feels very organic and I enjoy watching it take shape.

Least like? I should say revisions and it can become tedious after the first few run throughs but as long as I know the story will be better for the effort, than I can’t really say I mind.

Do you belong to any writing groups? I’ve been a member of Pennwriters for several years now and they really are an excellent group. The conferences they hold are top notch for both networking with other writers, classes into the craft of writing, and meeting industry contacts along the way.

Tell us a little about your path to publication. Like a million other writers, I’ve received more than my fair share of rejections from prospective publishers. I’ve kept a rather simple philosophy to the whole process. Every time I received a rejection, it was just a reminder that I’m still in the game and another opportunity to fine tune my pitch. I kept writing and refining. One of my favorite sayings is that you can’t fail if you never quit. When Necro Publications agreed to publish Welcome to GreenGrass under its Bedlam Press imprint, it was a thrill and especially so because you finally find a literary home and someone who appreciates you as a writer. David Barnett, the main man at Necro, has simply been awesome to work with and to have someone with his experience and talent backing you makes the whole process that much more fulfilling.

How many books did you write before selling one? I have three books in the done bin prior to getting the green light for Welcome to GreenGrass and several others in various states of completion. I’m really glad that this one turned out to be my debut novel and has always held a special place for me. GreenGrass touches on so many of literary influences to this point in my career and I literally have an entire notebook of notes and scribbles, circled passages, arrows, and filled margins while I was crafting it. Maybe I can include some of the more busy pages when I release the twentieth anniversary edition? Hey, you never know!

How did you find a publisher? You have to put the time in! Finding a match for where you want to be and be comfortable with who’s handling your work. Necro was looking to expand its sci-fi fantasy imprint with Bedlam Press and I had the right submission at the right time.

How did you receive the Call? David Barnett reached out to me and said he really enjoyed my manuscript and wanted to add it to Necro Publication’s line-up and it didn’t take much for me jump on board. There’s a definite feeling of satisfaction to reaching your goal of publication.

What are you writing now? I have another novel ready to go. It’s another trip through a fantastical world but with a twist that I hope the readers of Welcome to GreenGrass will cross over and enjoy also. It focuses on friendship and family and the characters find out a bit about themselves along the way. Oh yeah, there’s murderous ghosts, virtual worlds, and high tech armored enforcers too!

What’s next for you—will you be making personal appearances anywhere our readers can find you? I plan on making the rounds to several sci-fi and writing conventions throughout the coming year and I’ll be posting specific dates and locations on my blog as the dates approach. I was down at the Virginia Comicon last month and had a great time meeting and talking with so many of the folks who attended.

What would you like to tell readers? That’s easy. Thank you! Sincerely! By reading my work, you give me the privilege of building worlds to capture your imagination and attempt to hold on long enough to leave you with something more than when we started and if it can change a perception or add to a perspective or keep you entertained, then I’ve accomplished something worthwhile.

Here’s a link to the book –

http://necropublications.myshopify.com/products/welcome-to-greengrass-by-s-a-check

and one for the book trailer –

http://youtu.be/pySEgjZ83o

EXCERPT:

There have always been alleys. Whether in a big city, a small town, or the end of the world, the spaces in between, the dark corners of civilization, have always needed a place to breathe. The Mayans had Tikal, Rome raised the bar, and the Big Apple grew into a city that never slept. Too many eyes made secrets difficult to hide. Worlds need those pockets, the urban closets that hide the skeletons of a modern society. Just as sure as the sun rises, even if it’s not the one you’re expecting, there are places that never see the light of day.

Resting against the fire escape grating, John Traveller knew as well as any that even the cast-outs and misfits needed a place to call home. For two nights straight, he watched the same alley from his metal perch and all he had to show was a sore back and numb fingers. The dual red moons overhead stared back at him, a constant reminder this world was not his own. Not that he needed any.

“Another thunderin’ dead end.” Traveller tossed a stone at a garbage can. The clang echoed down the alley. “I guess you can’t surprise anyone if there’s no one here.”

He laid a single barrel shotgun on the grating beside him and pulled a small notebook from his back pocket. The calculations seemed right. Traveller looked over all his data at least ten times. It looked like he missed his mark on this one. He couldn’t wait any longer. They would all be expecting him back at the house. He made it up to one knee when something caught his eye near the ground.

A blue pinhole of light hovered over the quiet cobble stoned street, floating in the evening air, unaware it hadn’t existed moments before. Traveller felt the air in the alley pull towards the floating glow. The tails of his trench coat bustled in the artificial breeze. And then everything stopped, like the moment before someone unleashed a sneeze.

The radiance rushed out into the night, erupting from its center and blowing discarded trash down the passage. A pair of tennis shoes emerged inside the pulsing glow. They hovered in the brisk night air before a figure gushed out of the portal, flowing through like a water slide without the benefit of a pool underneath. The confused rider struck the ground hard, tumbling end over end until skidding to a stop on his stomach. The body remained motionless.

Traveller chuckled. That may have been one of the top five most unglamorous entrances he ever witnessed. The naked guy from a couple months back would still be hard to beat. From his shadowed vantage, Traveller watched the bewildered figure scrambling along the ground. His red jogging pants and t-shirt that read Start Slow Then Back It Down was covered in whatever muck accumulated on alley floors. The man clung to his elbow that took the brunt of the initial impact and blood seeped out between his fingers.

A paranormal Merry Christmas!

Hydra Publications is running a special sale this Christmas season– Starting Christmas Day, Hydra will be running Hydra for the Holidays, using Kindle Countdown.

Starting Christmas morning, select Hydra titles will be .99. The next day 1.99, third day 2.99 and then regular price. The titles involved are: Reality Check, Gnosis, The List, Dearly Departed, The Heart Denied, Heart of the Hunter, Love Me Kiss Me Kill Me, Eternal Patrol, Anon, The Wall Outside, Empyreal Fate, LoveMeKissMeKillMe_Final_small2Bounty Hunter, Ukishima, The Hand of God, Amy the Astronaut, The Know it All Girl, Without a Conscious, and The Parrot Told Me. Here’s an easy Amazon link.

What are people saying about Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me?

“LOVE ME, KISS ME, KILL ME is a riveting suspense thriller with supernatural themes. Fans of the genre will very much enjoy this novel.”

“This was a well written and very unique take on the vampire theme.  It kept me hooked and wondering who was good and who wasn’t up to the very end.”

“Lyndi Alexander’s newest release, “Love Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me,” is heart stopping. The author has skillfully crafted a thriller filled with danger and suspense, which also happens to involve a romance.  When the main character becomes involved with a popular local healing center, she becomes suspicious of its management, as several local young women her age mysteriously die of “natural causes.”  Each of these victims had a connection with the healing center.  As she begins quietly investigating to learn the truth of the deaths, she learns that she is in danger herself, and realizes that she has no one to turn to that she can trust. Read to learn how the mystery is solved, which you won’t know until the very end, for a real surprise. I was still guessing all the way!”

Interested? It’s waiting for you–Merry Christmas!

 

Wake up and smell the coffee–or whatever that is… SFFS for Dec. 14

Greetings from frosty Pennsylvania! With nearly two months of winter weather down, I’d say that we were pretty lucky this year to have mild conditions, but I don’t want to jinx us all! 🙂 Either way, it’s a great day to stay inside and read, SFFSat logoand the Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday team has some great snippets to introduce you to authors around the world this morning. Check them out here.

For my snippet today, I’ve returned to my science fiction romance that came out earlier this year, A SMALL DEGREE OF HOPE.  Our heroine, Kylie Sanderson, is a lead investigator with the elite Scientific and Investigative Research Taskforce team (SIRT, for short), and she’s been assigned to a case where a serial killer is dumping bodies of dead women, each partially mutated into a lizard form. As more of them are found, the heat is on for a solution and arrest of the perpetrator:

***

After the lab techs had analyzed the evidence, Kylie, as the squad deputy supervisor, prepared to give the daily briefing. Wishing she could prop her eyes open with toothpicks, she settled for popping two amp pills, and yawned as the fifteen members of the team gathered.

Her team met in the largest conference room of their digs, which were the best available in town. Boxes of evidence piled onto the table in the center of the room, allowing each team member scant space for their computers. She sat on the windowsill, watching the street six stories down as the team grabbed their morning sustenance.

After the sleepless night she’d spent haunted by the victim’s hideous face, the buzz of male voices, men laughing and joking about the usual crap–sports, spouses or subordinates–got on her nerves. She activated the computer projector, the first picture on the screen a full-on picture of the two bodies in the dumpster. Without the smell to accompany it, the view was nearly tolerable, but all the same, she didn’t look. Been there, done that. No one wanted the T-shirt.

***

asmalldegreeofhope3It’s tough to be a woman in a male-dominated field, but throw in murderous aliens, and life just gets pretty complicated.

“Teach me, Kylie Sanderson. Show me how to make love like a human.”– Griff

Against her wealthy father’s demands, and the usual blockades of a male dominated profession, Kylie Sanderson proves worthy of her position as lead investigator of planet Andan’s Scientific and Investigative Research Taskforce. Someone is killing Andan’s women in an attempt to mutate them into reptiles. Kylie makes it her mission to discover who’s behind the murders and prevent more grotesque deaths.
Shapeshifting lizard Griff comes to Andan to stop his brethren from mutating other planet’s women into mindless breeding stock. Overcoming Kylie’s suspicious and defensive nature proves difficult, but he must in order to help the SIRT team thwart his planet’s scientists.
When Kylie is abducted and becomes the first human to survive the transformation, it’s up to Griff to rescue her so SIRT can restore her human form. On the run and desperate to unravel the mysteries of Kylie’s past to solve the crimes of their present, can she and Griff forge a future for themselves?

The novel is published by Lyrical Press, and is available in ebook for Kindle, Nook and other ebook platforms. Stay warm and enjoy!

The road goes on–SFFS for December 7

MB910216387I’m currently working on the second volume of the YA dystopic Color of Fear series, a follow-up to WINDMILLS, tentatively titled JOURNEYS. Having left San Francisco on their way to points east, Lin Kwan and Xi San, traveling separately, have each met new companions on the way to their destination.

San has linked up with some Nebraska college professors he found outside Yosemite, along with their young black inner-city fellow traveler Teremesha Johnson. One thing they all agree on is that they’re opposed to the racist white cult leader Gabriel, whose stated mission is to rid the country of the minorities now in greater numbers post-terrorist attack. They’re just not sure how they can attack him:

   A mocking tone in his voice, Terry said, “You really believe we’re ready to bust a move, us with our four, five little pieces and stolen jackets and cereal boxes?”

   “We survivors need to desire to live the right way, in harmony with the land and each other, not like that racist Gabriel,” Marie said quietly. “We’ve been spared, even if we don’t yet see why. We’ll have to do what it takes, together—black, white, Asian—it doesn’t matter.”

   Ballard’s glance slid over the others and came back to Marie. “I hope you’re not characterizing me as similar to that fellow by pointing out I’m a white man. Heaven knows the white man has been blamed for enough of what’s wrong with America—what?” he barked as Terry muttered under his breath.

   Marie stifled a smile. “He said you shouldn’t be so uppity about being white. The fact you’re still alive probably demonstrates there’s plenty of color in your family genetic woodpile.”

***

There’s plenty of time to catch up on WINDMILLS before book two gets turned in– here’s the blurb, if you Windmills1haven’t seen it yet:

Bio-terrorists release a plague in the United States that spreads to kill most of the world’s Caucasian population. As the deadly virus mutates, Tzu Shin, a renowned medical doctor and biologist, defects from China to help develop a cure. His only daughter, Lin Kwan, is left behind in Hong Kong with her aunt.

Then Kwan’s father summons her from across the sea to bring him Chinese medicinal herbs he needs to develop a cure. Lonely and missing her parents, she accepts the challenge, traveling with her sensei Li Zhong to the New World.

But a Chinese assassin is on her trail, determined to kill her and Li Zhong, and when Kwan discovers her father has disappeared, she sets out on a journey to find him and deliver her precious cargo, a quest that she may not survive.

Here’s the link to Amazon–http://www.amazon.com/Windmills-Color-Fear-Lyndi-Alexander-ebook/dp/B00E7ADV32/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=1-3&qid=1386388328

It’s available in ebook and paperback, and a great Christmas book for the readers on your list. 🙂

SFFSat logoFor lots of other science fiction and fantasy snippets for your Saturday, check out the SFFS main page here.  Stay warm, everyone!

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