Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Ian T. Healy and Just Cause Universe Interview

Today I'd like to welcome one of my buddies I first met through the Amazon contest several years ago. Ian is an interesting guy whose novels use a great mix of action and humor. He is a perfect fit for that super-hero realm, especially as his heroes seem to be a bit twisted... and I mean that in the nicest way. Ian has a book release coming, so we decided on an author interview to let all of you know a little more about him... so without further ado... Wecome Ian!

[Tart in Purple, Ian in Blue]

So you'll have to humor me a bit. I am sort of a novice as to Super Heroes and Mutant worlds, so just make fun of me if I ask something stupid...

So I'm curious how much of your world building followed prototypes of comic worlds you grew up with and how much was totally out of your head?

I was out of my head most of the time. No, not really. I grew up reading (and still read) DC Comics, and that's the comic world I'm most familiar with. That being said, the Just Cause Universe doesn't relate to it very much. DC is populated with fictional cities like Gotham and Metropolis, while the JCU has actual places. DC has heroes that can toss planets around like playthings and are generally like gods living among men. Nobody in the JCU is particularly powerful. The strongest man in the world once pulled an aircraft carrier into dry dock by its anchor chain, but that was mostly a publicity stunt thing. Most JCU heroes are just like you and me, only a bit better.

Who were your early favorite super heroes?

The very first comic book I ever owned was Captain Carrot and His Amazing Zoo Crew #15, which was a funny-animals comic like something Disney might produce. Before that, my favorites were the characters of Shapiro and O'Toole, from the book Jacob Two-Two Meets the Hooded Fang, by Mordecai Richler. I wanted to be them sooooo bad!

I love how whimsical your story sounds: the Cockroach God? Rabbit recruits (snark and jumping high as super powers--NICE)? So is that whimsy typical in the genre, or are you adding an element of fun that is a super bonus? And if so, how did you get the idea?

There has always been a place for humor in the superhero genre, whether in movies or comics. Even the really grim movies like the most recent Christopher Nolan Batman films have humorous moments in them. Life is funny, when you really look at it. Some characters respond to the funny bits better than others, and Jackrabbit for me is one of the great snarkmeisters of the JCU. He can find the humor in any situation and when he mouths off, it tends to distract his opponents. I could see him forestalling a fight entirely by causing his opponent to break down into gales of helpless laughter.

So you've written several books in this series. Can you give readers an idea how they all fit together? (and do they stand alone, or should they be read in order?)

All of the JCU novels are stand-alone books that could be read in any order. That being said, I always recommend people read them in this order: Just Cause, The Archmage, Day of the Destroyer, Deep Six, The JCU Omnibus Vol. 1, and finally Jackrabbit. The first two books focus on the core character of Mustang Sally in her place on the core team of Just Cause. The next four books broaden the scope of the setting and history, whether focusing on Mustang Sally's mother as part of the team in the '70s, the prison for convicted superpowered felons, or whatever. This fall, I will be returning to Mustang Sally's story once again in the book Champion.

And if there are Gods of Rabbits and a Cockroach God... that really gets the imagination rolling. What are some of the other gods and what powers can they impart?

Well, the thing is . . . Most gods signed the short form when they became gods, because hey, you're a god, you don't have time for all that paperwork. By signing the short form, they opted out of a lot of the rights and abilities of gods, such as the creation of Heralds. A few notables spent the extra time to go through everything and because of them we had such historical Heralds as Jesus, Mohammed, Shiva, etc. Leporidus, the Rabbit God, spent the extra hundred years to fill out all the forms, as did Cialia the Bluebird Goddess. When Blattodeus the Cockroach God (who is actually a god created by intelligent cockroaches, whereas all other gods were created by humans) invades Gods' Home and Earth, only Leporidus and Cialia have the authority to create Heralds to fight back. I'd also like to make a special mention of Anurus, the Frog God, who happens to be Leporidus' best friend.

How many of these do you have in the hopper? And what are you currently working on?

Champion is done and in the revising stages now. After finishing my two current WIPs (a mainstream YA called The Scene Stealers, which is in final revision now before going to my agent, and a horror western called Ghost Plain), I'll be taking on the next JCU book, which I've begun outlining and has a working title (that will probably change) of Patriotic.

Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific writer who dabbles in many different speculative genres. He's a ten-time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month where he's tackled such diverse subjects as sentient alien farts, competitive forklift racing, a religion-powered rabbit-themed superhero, cyberpunk mercenaries, cowboy elves, and an unlikely combination of vampires with minor league hockey. His popular superhero fiction series, the Just Cause Universe, is ever-expanding, as is his western fantasy epic The Pariah of Verigo. He is also the creator of the Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques workshop, which helps writers to improve their action scenes.

Ian also created the longest-running superhero webcomic done in LEGO, The Adventures of the S-Team, which ran from 2006-2012.

When not writing, which is rare, he enjoys watching hockey, reading comic books (and serious books, too), and living in the great state of Colorado, which he shares with his wife, children, house-pets, and approximately five million other people. Follow him on Twitter as @ianthealy and on Facebook as Author Ian Thomas Healy. Check out his exclusive publishing imprint, Local Hero Press.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

March Madness is COMING!!!

And by March Madness I'm not talking about all that ball-bouncing silliness...

I'm talking about WRITING at great speed!
I'm talking about EDITING MADNESS!
I'm talking about Setting yourself a DEADLINE and pushing yourself hard!

When does it happen?


Erm... did you READ the headline? MARCH.

But unlike NaNoWriMo, BuNoWriMo, or NaNoEdMo YOU get to pick your project. You can pick the size, you can pick the type... But the SAME support system as BuNoWriMo...

In fact BuNoWriMo on Facebook is where we'll be coordinating... (just ask to join—we'll let you in).

So what are my PLANS?

I HAVE to finally finish the first draft of the end of my serial. AND I need to get What Ales Me edited. That is about 30,000 new words and one serious edit...

Monday, February 17, 2014


For anyone clueless at this, there are two repeating themes I will be discussing today:

My FOMS (Fear of Missing Something)


ABNA (The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award)

I seem to be unable to step away from this particular activity... It is still OPEN by the way... will be for a couple weeks for any category that doesn't fill up early...

So what IS the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award?

Every year Amazon has a contest for novels—they let in 10,000 entrants: 2000 each in the categories of Young Adult, General Fiction, Romance, Fantasy/Sci Fi, and my own category this year, Mystery/Thriller.

Every month the list gets narrowed, first, based on the 300 word pitch which cuts the playing field from 2000 per area to 500 per... Second month narrows the 500 to 100 based on the first 3000-5000 words (these are quarterfinals). And then the NEXT narrows it from 100 to 25 (semifinalists)... Then finally, there are the finals.

So see, this stress fest drags all the way out for 5 months... Who WOULDN'T want to be part of it?

But seriously, the WE-ness of it is awesome. It is one of those things like bootcamp or initiation or nursing school—you know—create forever bonds between people who share the experience.

My History with this Contest:

I entered for the first time with Confluence (my first novel) and got knocked out at pitch round.
I entered the next year with Kahlotus Disposal Site (my 6th) and made it to the semifinals.
I entered the third year with Legacy (my 2nd, substantially revised) and made quarterfinals.
Last year I entered Medium Wrong (my 11th?) and got knocked out at pitch...

So this is my 5th year and I am entering the first set of A Shot in the Light.... Here is the pitch.

A beach covered in dead seagulls brings Sidney Knight's quest for quiet to a halt. She's come to the Oregon coast to hammer out a few freelance deadlines but this breaks her concentration. According to her brother, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, the avian flu has reached epidemic classification. His warning not to get the flu shot, contrary to authority recommendations, scares her.

Back in Portland she begins to dig and notices a disturbing trend: the shot, rather than reducing risk, is increasing deaths. Health departments, hospitals, and news sources are silent and care providers have been warned not to “scare people”. Sidney, young and green, doubts she can handle a story this big, but what if she's the only one looking? When the CDC is locked down with her brother inside and one of her closest friends dies from the vaccine, Sidney's mind is made up. Green or not, she has to figure out how this happened, who is responsible, and who can set it right.

A Shot in the Light is a new adult epidemic conspiracy thriller and will appeal to people who like a complex plot, powerful relationships and an emotional roller coaster.

Who else is entering?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Watch and Learn (or, don't make my mistakes)

Halo, fine friends! And welcome to 2nd Wednesday's Indie Life
In which Indie authors share their support and wisdom.

Not feeling very wise at the moment, but I'll give it what I've got.

So I've been releasing a serial since September... 7 episodes are out... I started off promoting each time, but it was for not much, so I've sort of petered off... see... I've heard enough people say for things like that they wait until it's all there, and all will be 12 (pace to finish is about one a month)... nobody is beating down the door. I'm losing money because I am paying editing and cover costs... I made all of $39 last year or some such thing... less expenses... which puts me way in the hole.

Now I have faith. Once they are all out, I will push hard, but I sort of feel right now like it is a lot of effort for naught to do it every book.

So what would I do differently next time? 
I'm glad you asked.

1)  I would NOT have a serial be my first thing out the door. I would have a backlist of three or four books so if someone read the start of the serial and loved it, they could READ ME while WAITING FOR ME. The other advantage to this is you get the practice formatting and publishing without the time crunch of NEXT ONE NOW looming. And you can learn all the OTHER formatting venues, so you aren't stuck with just one—not that Amazon isn't great, but I'd like to be everywhere. I just haven't had time to learn all the other formats because I've been WRITING (and having a full time day job that has exploded since last summer—used to be able to do little things there—no more)

2)  I would write my WHOLE first draft (all the books) before I started publishing. (in fact I'd have the first reader beta job done, too) I think there is time between optimal book release to EDIT, but not to write and edit and polish... because a month apart is too long (which gets to my next)

3)  A month apart is too long. HA! See how I did that? I'd say 2 weeks is good. 3 maybe.

Did I do anything right? Why YES, as a matter of fact I think I did...

1)  I am pleased with the length. A penny a page seems like good value to me I think the sweet spot for these is 60-100 pages. It is long enough for a nice, meaty piece of story with some ups and downs...

2)  Giving away the first FREE is good.

3)  I also think my offer to give the NEXT to my first 10 reviewers is a good idea. Maybe it is 20 reviewers... Though I still only have more than 10 reviews on the first book.

But for a little perspective, I have a TRADITIONAL book (Keeping Mum) coming out March 4 and the work I have had to do for that (post writing) is SO microscopic by comparison. I mean I had my beta readers—always do. But They do all the art, formatting, prepping. I even have a publicist who has arranged a blog tour and giveaway—I wrote a couple posts but ALL that organizational stuff SHE is doing.

I really think for the part time author, traditional is a much EASIER route (not getting in—I know it's very HARD to get in). And I know it isn't the same money once you get going, but I will count those sales in the thousands, not the dozens. If I didn't have the day job, I could do a little of both, but since I DO, I really can't both write and promote at the same time. It just seems SO MUCH EASIER to be carried on the water and obey when they say jump. Now I KNOW that isn't for everybody. In fact it probably isn't for ME eventually... but in conjunction with the full time job? I will keep the traditional in my mix.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Guest Sean McLachlin and Radio Hope

Many of you probably know blog buddy Sean McLachlin... he's the guy who, when I go over to his long standing blog, is immersed in some cave or telling some cool historical story...  He's a nice guy... AND he is dappling in my domain, so many of you who like all that apocalypse stuff (which is a bunch of you) may be very interested in what he is up to... but here, let HIM tell you:

How none of our sins will go away with the fall of civilization (except texting)

It’s a hundred years in the future, and humanity has reverted to its barbaric past. A century of economic and social upheaval, environmental catastrophe, and biological warfare have left the world ravaged. The few survivors live by scavenging the ruins of a once-advanced civilization or cultivating the few remaining patches of fertile land.

Otherwise, people pretty much go on like before.

The apocalypse will change a lot of things, but it’s not radically going to change us. Sure, we’re going to be a bit paranoid, sneaking through the wasteland armed to the teeth, assuming we still have teeth, but we’re going to have all the little frailties we’ve always had. That’s what makes post-apocalyptic fiction, indeed all fiction, so compelling—we get to see ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances and imagine ourselves in their shoes.

People being people, it’s no surprise that my post-apocalyptic novel Radio Hope opens in a bar. I mean, if 90% of the population is dead and the world is a toxic wasteland, wouldn’t you want to get loaded? In New City—really just a town and the only settlement of any size—the biggest business is a bar called $87,953. The name is another story, and involves another sin.

Drinking is big in New City, and since many of the scavengers don’t get to partake on a regular basis, when they come in from the wildlands they booze it up like there’s no tomorrow. They could be right about that. Annette Cruz, one of my protagonists, is the bouncer and has to deal with fights, sexual harassment, and hate speech on a regular basis.

These aren’t the only sins that have survived the apocalypse. Over on the other side of town, Fly Daddy Bradley offers a bevy of girls for company, and the farmers outside town like to grow hemp for cloth and “medicine.” A lot of people seem to need medicine these days.

Nor has tobacco fallen from grace. How could it? Barely a hundred years after tobacco made it to Europe, it was still expensive but people of all social classes spent fortunes for their daily dose of the “foule weede”. When Sir Walter Raleigh was imprisoned from 1603 to 1616 in the Tower of London, he grew tobacco in Tower Green. The fact that the space was also used for hangings and beheadings failed to curb his cravings!

So if you think that “living the simple life away from technology” will free you from the world’s sins, think again. At least it will get rid of people texting or talking loudly on their cell phones on public transport. The problem is, with the destruction of the world’s communication systems, all the Internet trolls will go back to being barroom bores who back you into a corner and won’t let you go until they tell you how much of an evil loser their neighbor is and how he should really just die a horrible and embarrassing death.

Yeah, I think I’ll stick with civilization.

Sean McLachlan is an archaeologist turned writer who is the author of several books of fiction and history. Check him out on his blog Midlist Writer.

Book Blurb: In a world shattered by war, pollution and disease. . .
A gunslinging mother longs to find a safe refuge for her son.
A frustrated revolutionary delivers water to villagers living on a toxic waste dump.
In humanity’s last city, the assistant mayor hopes he will never have to take command.
One thing gives them the promise of a better future--Radio Hope, a mysterious station that broadcasts vital information on surviving in a blighted world. But when a mad prophet and his army of fanatics march out of the wildlands on a crusade to purify the land with blood and fire, all three will find their lives intertwining, and changing forever.

Buy Link 

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

My Writing Life By Genre (An Insecure Post)

Halo, fine Insecure Friends (and guests of the Insecurity movement). As you may have guessed, it is first Wednesday, and therefore Insecure Writer's Support Group. Since I am feeling a it overwhelmed and out of sorts, I thought I would try on my writing life in different genres today and see how it goes...


Girl yearns to write but is forced to toil in advertising. Loses belief in self, so works endlessly at second career. Ironically learns she has writing talent and adds that to what she is working on. And then the second career takes over her life completely, leaving her with no time at all and a broken heart.


Girl kidnapped by evil corporate forces! Rescued, but forced into army of do-gooders. While she believes in the cause and fights real battles, she yearns for home. She is given ONE LAST very large mission, and then she will be free! But can she do it!?


Girl tortured by being misunderstood as a child turns to writing. It begins to blossom, but she is convinced by powerful others that it is irrational and she must pursue something practical. She briefly likes the fast-paced, wild life of advertising, but refuses to give up her soul and so is banished. She Works for YEARS, slaving over a hot stove to pay for a higher education to seek another practical degree, but learns she still loves writing, so for years she lives a double life, always fighting the inner turmoil of what is practical and where her passions lie.


Goofy girl finds herself in advertising office of mean people, so she begins to write funny stories about them and is discovered and courted by a big magazine, but it is so stressful she has to start making things up and it causes great stress with the people she used to work for who start sending her obscene gifts and embarrassing her in public, but she has the last laugh as the most outrageous story of all is entirely true and makes her a fortune.


It was a dark and stormy evening when the body was dumped on my doorstep...

I tried a couple more, but I am not nearly as profound or ironic as I think I am... Pretty sure it is the action genre for me...

But you know... no matter what version of my writing life I follow, probably nobody is going to say anything quite as nice as they have about Alex Cavanaugh's CassaFire (which for a limited time is only 99 cents, so you should really go get it)

“…delivers on the promise of its predecessor, combining military action sequences and political intrigue with strong, memorable characters. Reminiscent of the action-driven stories of Robert A. Heinlein's early fiction…” - Library Journal

Alex J. Cavanaugh’s CassaFire just .99 for a limited time!
Amazon -

Monday, February 3, 2014

Naked World Dominatrix Issues Orders

I hereby order the following:

SUN: Show up EVERY DAY for the next 3 weeks. You've made a very poor showing and you really need to make up for it.

POLAR VORTEX: You are henceforth BANISHED! Nobody likes you. And while that may not be adequate for banishment, the pain and suffering you caused in January are. There IS a young man in the Netherlands willing to host you from time to time, but other than that, you would do well to stay above the 60th parallel.

SNOW: Give it a rest already, will you, you attention hog? We get it. You are pretty and can keep us at home in our jammies all day long. But you know what? Some of us have LIVES to get to, and frankly, it's getting a little old. Especially this collusion with your buddy vortex that has kept us from just throwing you out when we got tired of you. I don't want to see you fall from the sky again for 3 weeks, at which time you may fall on a Friday and Saturday and then say your good-byes for the year. Got it?

FEBRUARY: You are ordered to move along at a normal pace. None of this wibbly wobbly taking three months in spite of having twenty-eight days stuff you normally get up to. And while we're at it, you've posed a very poor role model for March, so by the end you need to clean up your act.

So, erm... Guess you've noticed by now I'm back... I'd like to say I'm all rejuvenated, but that isn't true. Work just keeps getting larger and larger. It is AMAZING, FABULOUS work we have ahead of us. A real difference we can make. But MAN, my brain is frequently fried at the end of the day.

29 Days to Keeping Mum!!! (Seeking Blogs for a Tour)

Since I have a book promotion coming up, I need to get back to it, whatever it takes. Speaking of... I only have a couple blogs on my blog tour scheduled (Alex and Dru Ann at Dru's Book Musings) but if anyone is willing to host me, here is what I propose... CHALLENGE ME! Give me an oddball topic of your choosing and I will do my best to tie it back to my series, characters, mysteries in general... Ought to lead to at least some bendy laughter, eh? You can either leave it in the comments and I will come find you to schedule, or you can email me (so we can surprise people) (

I ALSO am releasing Book 7 from my serial this week (Thursday or Friday, I think) and ideally book 8 before the end of the month so I can concentrate on the Cozies in March.