Posts Tagged ‘A. Lee Martinez’

I belong to a great writers’ workshop, and we put on a writers’ conference every year. And this year, DFWcon melted my face off like Dave Grohl rocking during a Foo Fighters’ encore set.

Lemme give you 10 reasons why:

1. I met my agent, Sara Crowe, in person, for the first time ever!!! She’s so phenomenal in eleventy-billion ways, and hanging out with her all weekend just confirmed them all. I had so much fun gabbing and getting into shenanigans. (In-N-Out Burgers! Panel Discussions! Bull-Riding at Billy Bob’s!)

2. I met many other publishing professionals, and it turns out that PR genius Mer Barnes, and super agents Sarah LaPolla and Jennie Goloboy are just as crazy cool as you’d expect. (Psst…they aren’t bad at Texas two-stepping either.) And editor Stacey Barney? When she talks about YA, drop your fork and take notes. Her taste in good books (and dessert) is impeccable.

3. Alec Shane is at Writers’ House. He’s also a former Hollywood STUNTMAN. Dude. Fo Realz. He might not have an official action figure, but hey, google his IMDB page. Then award 1,000,001 street cred points for appearing in a flick called MAXIMUM CAGE FIGHTER. And award another 1,000,001 points for championing boy YA books. (Note to self: Write heartbreaking, edgy YA about a seventeen-year-old mixed martial arts master. Who cage fights. In Post-Apocalyptic Detroit.)

4. There’s a coffee shop in Hurst called ROOTS. They make blackberry green tea Chai lattes. That taste like warm blackberry cobbler. Don’t tell me how many calories are in a Venti. I don’t want to know.

5. Author Rosemary Clement-Moore is a perfect hotel roommate. She doesn’t snore, she doesn’t hog all the hot water, and you can totally pick her brain at 1:00 a.m.

6. Kate Cornell is the world’s best agent wrangler. She gets your agent coffee, packs a mean conference survival kit, tells perfect anecdotes, and absolutely, positively doesn’t hold it against you when you have to drive back to Abuelo’s and kidnap her because you couldn’t figure out the right exit to get to the airport.

7. DFWcon attendees are charming and sweet and 100% inspiring. When you teach a session, they don’t heckle you and they ask great questions. When they practice pitch you, they blow you away with high concept premises (Hey, Sally Hamiltinez!) and well-developed ideas. (Hello, MR. SECULAR APOCALYPSE, I’m talking to YOU.)

You can e-mail Jason at purplebondagelolcats@gmail.com

8. This year’s GONG SHOW–I can’t even, guys. What happens when you listen to agents gong and crit queries/first pages? A scorched earth, DEFCON LEVEL I nuclear blast zone of shock and awe-some. Mildly painful. Seriously instructive.

9. Rosemary, A. Lee Martinez and I taught a ‘Perfect Your Pitch’ class. And Candy Havens critiqued reads with us, too! Our best advice? When querying, your e-mail shouldn’t be purplebondagelolcats@gmail.com. Also, never google ‘purple bondage lolcats.’ EVER.

10. Author Roni Loren knows how to write a scorching hot love scene. She also knows how to teach you how to write a scorching hot love scene. She also, also knows the words one must never use in a love scene. No LOVE SWORDS or SECRET GARDENS, apparently. Can’t imagine why.

So…how was your conference weekend? If you were at DFWcon, I’d love to hear about your experience!

My friend, the inimitable, awesome A. Lee Martinez, has a book coming out March 5th! In honor of Emperor Mollusk Vs. The Sinister Brain, I’m hosting an interview (you gotta check out what he has to say about humor and universal themes, guys.) and an EPIC FOUR BOOK PRIZE PACK GIVEAWAY!

Um, did I mention that each of the books is autographed and each one has a different, original sketch with the signature?! So cool.

All you gotta do to enter is read and leave a comment/additional question. Enter by midnight,  Thursday, March 1st.  Coolest comment/question wins. 

Interview:

1. I’m always glad to get a sneak peek of your pages at DFW Writers’ Workshop. For everyone else, can you share a little bit about your latest, Emperor Mollusk Versus the Sinister Brain?

 It’s a story of a great supervillain (who happens to be a squid from Neptune) and what happens after he decides he’s not so happy being a bad guy anymore.  He’s not exactly seeking redemption, but he’s not interested in doing the villain thing either.  The only problem is that he’s basically too amazing to not be in the center of some sort of grand adventure, and since he lives in a universe where adventure is found in every corner, that means retirement isn’t easy.

Ultimately, it’s a novel in the tradition of pulp sci fi / fantasy.  Emperor lives in a reality where every planet in our solar system is inhabited, where lost civilizations are a dime a dozen, and where everything he does is important.  He’s Doc Savage, John Carter, or any number of larger-than-life protagonists who rule their stories through virtue of being incredible and absurd ideals.  In Mollusk’s case, he’s smarter than you, and he knows it.  If Lex Luthor came from Neptune and had no Superman to stand in his way, he’d be Emperor Mollusk.

So on one level, the story is about mutant dinosaurs and giant robot fights.  And on the other, it’s about the struggle that we all have to deal with, about figuring out our place in this universe, learning to live with our mistakes, and hopefully, not repeating them.  Except Emperor’s mistakes can blow up planets, so there’s extra pressure right from the get go.

2. It’s no secret that I’ve nicknamed you ‘Existential Loki’ because you write books with heft, heart and wit. You’ve mentioned before that humor is underrated in storytelling. Care to elaborate?

Maybe not humor specifically, but just fun in general.  There’s this tendency, probably as old as time, to assume that if a story isn’t Serious Business, then it’s just silly and slight.  We have always seen humor as an escape mechanism, something it often is, but we also tend to think of it as unimportant or easy.  It’s absurd.  I think drama is great, but it doesn’t have to equal melodrama.  A story can make you smile, have weird elements, and still have some emotional heft.

To put it one way:  If a story is about a protagonist’s personal growth as he becomes a better person, that’s generally considered light.  If a story is about a protagonist’s personal growth, but then he gets run over by a car, that’s generally considered deep.  And I’ve just never gotten that.  I don’t need characters to die or tragedy to be invested in something.  It’s an artificial paradigm that I reject.  Of course, I write books about robot detectives and space squids, so my opinion probably doesn’t count.

3. In your books, you explore universal themes in new, thought provoking ways. What core ideas spark your imagination, time and again?

First of all, thanks for that.

I don’t know if it’s intentional or not, but most of my stories revolve around an outsider who is trying to live his or her life the best way they can.  I think that is something we can all relate to.  We all feel like outsiders now and then, strangers in a strange world.  My characters vary, but with rare exception, they are usually good people who end up in odd situations where the rules as they know them no longer apply.  And then they swim upstream, hoping to make sense of it.  If they’re lucky, they sometimes even find a place in the world.  But regardless, it’s all about living our lives without screwing up too badly and hopefully, helping each other along the way.

It’s not a new theme, but I’d like to think I can bring something new to the table now and then.

 4. What inspired you to become a writer and how did you get started?

 I was inspired by my lack of desire to do anything else.  I wasn’t “driven” to write stories like most people who start writing seem to claim.  I wasn’t certain what else to do with my life, and it seemed like a cool job to pursue.  I did consider art, and as technology has made being an artist easier, I might have even gone into that instead.  But at the time, I felt I was a better writer than artist.  I still think that’s true, but then again, who knows how I might have progressed as an artist if I’d put my energy into it?

 I started by writing novels and sending them out.  In the beginning, I had a very specific schedule.  I’d write for two to three hours a day, finish a novel in six to eight months, and submit with wild abandon.  I was fortunate enough to have Mom as a beta reader (and great source of moral and financial support to boot), and it helped me to figure a lot of things out.  And then I found the DFW Writer’s Workshop (completely by accident since the internet was mostly a rumor at that point) and got even more guidance.  It took a long time, but with a lot of help, I managed to get my break.  The rest, as they say, is history.

 5. I know you read a lot of non-fiction. Can you recommend something you’ve read lately?

Reality is Broken by Jane McGonical is a great book about video games versus reality and how reality could learn a few things from video games.  I love games of all sorts, so it has a great appeal to me.

I’m also enjoying That is All by John Hodgman, though I’m not sure that qualifies as non-fiction.  Still, a very funny book.

6. Who is your favorite fictional hero? Why? 

If I have to pick one, I’d probably go with Tarzan.  There is something about him.  He’s an outsider who is always viewing the world from a different perspective, and he’s also intelligent and formidable.  He fights lions and dinosaurs and LOVES to read, which is something that gets overlooked a lot in most media.

 7. Last Question. Finish this sentence: “I wish more people…”

…would buy my books.

 (Ha, I knew you would lead off with that, A. Lee.)

Just kidding.  Actually, no I’m not.  I do wish that.

But if I have to create a non-selfish wish, I’d have to say I wish more people would try harder to accept each other.  I don’t mean “understand” each other.  I mean just relax and stop hassling the other guy.  We don’t need to understand each other.  We just need to accept that people are going to be different, and that’s cool.  I don’t know why anyone wears dresses or watches reality TV.  But I don’t have to get it to respect their rights to do so.  We waste a lot of energy trying to convince people who don’t like us that we are worth liking, and for the most part, it falls on deaf ears.  It’s also exhausting.

 We do love to fight over our weird choices and strange habits, even while wondering why no one gets our own choices and habits.  Just imagine how much we could accomplish if we dropped all that busy work.

We’d have more time to read books about evil geniuses from Neptune, for one.

Shoot me a comment or question to win this AUTOGRAPHED PILE OF GREATNESS! You’ll get a whole library of A. Lee’s books!

 

I have a kid. A rough and tumble, Xbox playing, iTouch texting, nerf shooting tween boy.

And you know what? He loves books.

Year after year, they’re on his Christmas list, alongside the video games, Lego sets, and foam darts. Yes, you heard me right. A boy. Who reads. Want to know my secret? How I created such a budding bookavore?

I’m sneaky. I lurk. I watch and observe. I find out what games and movies he loves and then I fiendishly offer books which complement them. Why fight pop culture, when you can pair up interactive media and a good book like tender steak and a fine Cabernet?

This holiday, why not encourage your own XBox kids to enjoy one of the following picks?

For the tween/teen obsessed with HALO, pick up a copy of ENDER’S GAME by Orson Scott Card (an amazing classic) or Brian Yansky’s riveting new adventure, ALIEN INVASION AND OTHER INCONVENIENCES. Both are guaranteed to please kids (and adults!)  into the whole rocket launching, would-be saviors of earth thing.

So your reluctant reader is more into zombies and ghosts, ala FALLOUT 3 or ALAN WAKE? No problem. Middle grade readers will enjoy Neil Gaiman’s THE GRAVEYARD BOOK, full of the supernatural adventures of a boy named Bod. Olders teens are sure to devour Jonathan Maberry’s smash PATIENT ZERO or his latest, ROT & RUIN.

**NOTE: Not that I’m biased or anything, but it should go without saying that any of A. Lee Martinez’ books (THE AUTOMATIC DETECTIVE, GIL’S ALL FRIGHT DINER)  are home run hits with the monsters vs. aliens crowd, too.**

For hardcore FINAL FANTASY or FABLE aficionados, I suggest Garth Nix’s SABRIEL or MISTER MONDAY. Both begin  fantastic, magical series. Arthur Slade’s steampunk-tastic THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS will satisfy a hunger for epic adventure as well.  Many other great fantasy titles can be found here.

In the comments below, I’d love to hear what terrific books do you recommend this Christmas for the Xbox crowd.

Hungry for more?

Try this recipe for Snarf Worthy Caramel Brownies, one of my fave holiday snacks.

Let’s define, “DIVINE,” shall we?

1. of or pertaining to a god, esp. the Supreme Being.

DIVINE MISFORTUNE follows Teri and Phil a (not so) hapless couple trying to get by. Phil isn’t looking to win the lottery, he’d just like to score a lousy promotion. And Teri would like to catch a break for once.

But in a world where the pantheon of gods is not so mythological, it’s hard to get ahead without a blood sacrifice, an altar, and a little scratch to offer a working class deity.

2. addressed, appropriated, or devoted to God or a god; religious; sacred: divine worship.

So, despite Teri’s initial reluctance, they give the god game a whirl. They choose a deity from a web site and presto change-o, Luka the Raccoon God of Prosperity is ready to favor them.

Just call him “Lucky.” All he wants is to crash at their pad for a while.

And what’s a little immortal mayhem here and there, right?

3. proceeding from God or a god: divine laws.

While the new world order has put a stop to the random smiting of followers and the devouring of homesteads, Lucky and his fellow deities still have the power and muscle to make lives uncomfortable for those unfortunate mortals who fall out of favor.

Teri and Phil quickly figure out how tricky pleasing the gods can be. Soon, they’re hosting parties and taking in Lucky’s pal Quick (Quetzalcoatl), a down on his luck serpent god looking to move out from under his own personal PR nightmare–Conquistador massacre propaganda.

And that’s not the half of it. Lucky and Quick soon become the least of Teri’s and Phil’s worries. Before you can say Holy Valhalla, they’re in the middle of divine love triangle and grudge match.

4. godlike; characteristic of or befitting a deity: divine magnanimity.

In DIVINE MISFORTUNE, it’s hard to judge who’s more sympathetic. Both mortals and gods navigate the pitfalls of existence. Lucky’s just trying to get the girl, and Teri and Phil are just trying to pay the mortgage.

And everybody’s trying to dodge Gorgoz, the bloodthirsty god of chaos. Gorgoz has a score to settle with Lucky, and he doesn’t care who he has to crush to win.

And Gorgoz would really like a decent cable package, too.

Such are the dilemmas faced by gods and men.

5. heavenly; celestial: the divine kingdom. Extremely good; unusually lovely.

The author’s previous works deliver the goods, but DIVINE MISFORTUNE packs an extra special one-two punch of humor and gravitas. Sure, you’ll bust a gut laughing, but this book will pleasantly stimulate the ole cerebellum at the same time.

Like the Greek comic writer Aristophanes, Martinez spins stories which captures the heart and the imagination. With a wink and a smile, the reader is welcomed into worlds both familiar and strange, manifest and surreal.

DIVINE MISFORTUNE is no exception. Pitch perfect, it might well be Martinez’s best yet. At the very least, it is every bit as good as my own favorite of the author’s books, THE AUTOMATIC DETECTIVE.

7. being a god; being God: a divine person.

In short, DIVINE MISFORTUNE is marvelous–an ambrosial, entertaining novel.

8. of superhuman or surpassing excellence.

To paraphrase Aristophanes, “by words the mind is winged.”

So pick up a copy and take flight, already!

Hungry for more?

Try this recipe for Ambrosia Cake. With apples, cream and spices, it sings with flavor.

Binge!

Erm, I don’t really have anything exciting to share about myself this week.

But, I do have some SPECTACULAR NEWS to share about one of  my friends/superheroes/mentors, A. Lee Martinez.

Alex’s bestseller, Gil’s All Fright Diner, is going HOLLYWOOD. Dreamworks has attached director Barry Sonnenfeld and the scribes behind Kung Fu Panda to a movie adaptation of the novel. You can read about it in Variety.

Very cool, indeed, dear ones.

Perhaps you’ve noticed I gush (quite frequently) about DFW Writers’ Workshop. Workshop is a fab organization for writers. Scribblers of all stripes and skill levels meet every Wednesday night. Some of us are newbie novices (me) and some of us are ridiculously talented (um, that would be A. Lee Martinez.)

How many bestselling authors take the time to patiently offer critique and advice to lesser mortals? Alex does. He helps to cultivate our community of writers; he and a cadre of other awesome superfriends contribute to DFWWW in a big way.

As a flunky sidekick in training, I’m honored to be counted among their number.

Congratulations to my superfriend, Alex. His talent and hardwork brought Gil’s to this point. I’d like to think a little karmic payback hasn’t hurt, either.

Here’s a toast to my many superheroes and friends.

Who are you cheering for? Whose advice or guidance has helped you most? Tell me and I’ll pick the most amazing shoutout. I’ll send the winner a copy of Gil’s All Fright Diner. (Hey, I might even be able to grovel enough to get the author to autograph it. ) I’ll announce the winner next week.

Hungry for more? Try my recipe for Peanut Butter Superfudge. I’ve taken this sweet confection and put it on steroids.

Peanut Butter Superfudge

2 cups sugar

1/2 milk

1 1/3 cup peanut butter

1 (reg. size) jar of marshmallow creme

Bring sugar and milk to a boil; boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add peanut butter and marshmallow cream. Pour into buttered 8 inch pan.

Binge!