Scavenger Hunt with Matthew S. Rotundo

It’s that time again! Matthew S. Rotundo has graciously agreed to do a Scavenger Hunt! If his interview has piqued your interest in his space opera series, then line right up: I’ll tell you how you can win an e-book of either Petra (book one) or Petra Released (book two).

Unlike the Scavenger Hunts that we did for Maria V. Snyder and J.L. Gribble, I’m re-doing the structure in order to 1) encourage more entries and 2) make it reasonable for the author to provide copies. What does that mean?

If I receive 10 entries or less: ONE winner receives an e-copy of either Petra or Petra Released.

If I receive 20 entries: TWO winners receive their choice of either Petra or Petra Released, e-copy.

If I receive 30 or more entries? I’ll talk to Matthew to see if he’s willing to up the number of winners. 😉

So, not only should you ENTER, but it benefits you to signal boost the Scavenger Hunt, because the more people who enter, the more chances you’ll have to win (so long as you provide the right answers, of course).

Ready?

Question #1: (from Taking Off Like a Rocket): Name one convention Matthew has attended this year that’s mentioned in the interview.

Question #2: (from Politics in Fiction): What inspired Matthew to write a science fiction novel that takes place on a prison planet?

Question #3: (from The Heart in Conflict): Besides himself, who does Matthew feel is criminally under-read?

Just click the link below to go to the entry form (at Google Drive) and fill out each question. Each person answering all three questions correctly will be placed on a list for a random drawing.

You have until Tuesday, August 30th to enter, and the winners will be notified by email on Wednesday, August 31st.

One entry per person, no purchase necessary, void where prohibited, all entrants’ information will be deleted once winners have been confirmed, etc. If you’re unsure as to whether or not your entry came through, please comment here to ask.

To enter, please click below and fill out the form. May the odds be ever in your favor!

ENTER: Scavenger Hunt with Matthew S. Rotundo

The Heart in Conflict with Matthew S. Rotundo

Signing at VromansWelcome to third and final installment of Calico In Conversation with Matthew S. Rotundo. If you missed Parts One and Two, click below to catch up:

Part One: Taking Off Like a Rocket
Part Two: Politics in Fiction

Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through July of 2016.

***

What else do you have noodling around in that brain of yours? Petra Released came out the end of July, and Book #3 is inevitable. Once you’re done with this story arc, what else do you hope to dig into? Other science fiction ideas? Fantasy? Noir?

Oh, you want to be careful about looking into my brain.  🙂  But since you asked . . .

Let’s see. Post-Petra, I have a few other projects that will need my attention. I’ve written an urban fantasy novel that’s first part of another series. I’d like to take a crack at the second book. There’s also a near future post-apocalypse novel that probably needs another rewrite. And then there’s this novelette I wrote, a story I dearly love that is — get this — middle grade fantasy . . . and which might be the start of yet another series.

See what happens when you peek inside my mind? It’s a mess in there. I warned you.

You’re writing science fiction, but it’s clear you’ve got lots of other ideas and genres percolating in that brain of yours. Would you talk about your influences as a writer?

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Politics in Fiction with Matthew S. Rotundo

P1060077Welcome to Part Two of Calico In Conversation with Matthew S. Rotundo. If you missed Part One: Taking Off Like a Rocket, feel free to click here to catch up!

Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through July of 2016.

***

Let’s dig into Petra. It was a lot of fun re-reading it after reading the initial draft, what…. nearly ten years ago? I also remember at that time, I was a complete crazy person who read through that sucker TWICE (I don’t do that anymore with novels), so the published version is my third time through, and still, despite remember various details and broad strokes of the story (your ending is specifically memorable), I found it to be an engaging, fast read, and I’m really disappointed there wasn’t more interest when you shopped it around. I mean, I know SF has been a hard sell in the past ten years, but dang. This is one of the most professionally polished self-published books I’ve ever read, and believe me, I’m not saying that because I know you. You mentioned you hired a copy editor and a cover artist. How did you go about finding the right ones for your book?

Wow. Thanks so much for the kind words. Petra is a labor of love, as I’m sure you’ve guessed. In addition to the writing itself, I went to some trouble to teach myself how to format both ebook and print editions of the book. That was an inordinately time-consuming process, but I learned a lot, and am grateful for it.

I do wish the market — i.e., publishers and agents — had shown a bit more interest. Of course, I think it’s brilliant, but then, I would, wouldn’t I? Still, there is a glimmer of a possibility that a traditional publisher might pick it up. In the meantime, though, I’ll just keep plugging along with it.

My copy editor, Tamara Blain of A Closer Look Editing, came recommended to me. She did a sample edit of the opening pages, so we could be sure her style meshed with mine. Did it ever! She really knows her stuff. Beyond that, though, she has a lot of experience with independent publishing, which has been invaluable to me. She pointed out issues I never would have thought of on my own. So a lot of the credit for the polish you admire goes to her.

As for my cover artist, Ryan Malm — he’s my niece’s husband, and a talented graphic artist. It was kind of no-brainer to contact him.

Who knows what the market will bring, and what it will look for? If not Petra and its sequel (sequels?), perhaps something else you write in the future will be published through a traditional house! Then again, maybe you’ll get addicted to being an indy author and eschew the traditional publishing process!

But let’s stop speculating: What advice do you have for authors considering the self-publishing route?

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Winners: J.L. Gribble Scavenger Hunt!

I very nearly forgot about this, but the Scavenger Hunt to win a complete e-book set of J.L. Gribble’s Steel Empires series has come to a close! First of all, thank you to ALL who read the J.L.’s interview. If you’re coming to this late and you’re wondering what the fuss is about, you can start reading part one here.

Secondly, thank you to all the entries. Sadly, despite my best efforts at promotion, we didn’t have many entries at all, but fortunately, those that did answered the questions correctly. I’m forwarding your email addresses to J.L. Gribble so that she can get in touch with you regarding your prize!

Lastly, be sure to check out Calico in Conversation with Matthew S. Rotundo. We just kicked off his interview yesterday, and you can read it here. Yes, he’s interesting in hosting a Scavenger Hunt after his interview wraps up, but we’re going to do things a wee bit differently, so stay tuned, and keep reading!

Taking Off Like A Rocket with Matthew S. Rotundo

Matthew Rotundo
Matthew S. Rotundo

Matthew S. Rotundo wrote his first story, “The Elephant and the Cheese,” when he was eight years old. It was the first time he had ever filled an entire page with writing. To his young mind, that seemed like a major accomplishment. It occurred to him shortly thereafter that writing stories was what he wanted to do with his life.

Matt gravitated to science fiction, fantasy, and horror at an early age, too. He discovered Ray Bradbury’s “The Fog Horn” in a grade school reader, and read it over and over whenever he got bored in class. (Needless to say, he read it a lot.) Other classics soon followed — Dune and Lord of the Rings and Foundation, the usual suspects. As a boy, he often pretended his bicycle was Shadowfax, and that he was Gandalf, riding like mad for Minas Tirith. Yeah, he was that kind of kid. Half the time, his family and friends didn’t know what the hell he was talking about.

Matt’s story “Alan Smithee Lives in Hell” placed second in the 1997 Science Fiction Writers of Earth Contest. In 1998, he attended Odyssey. The workshop led directly to his first sale — “Black Boxes,” in Absolute Magnitude. In 2002, Matt won a Phobos Award for “Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown.” He was a 2008 winner in the Writers of the Future Contest. He has since continued to publish in various magazines and anthologies, and is the author of Petra, the first book in The Prison World Revolt series.

Matt lives in Nebraska. He has husked corn only once in his life, and has never been detasseling, so he insists he is not a hick.

Editor’s Note: this is part one of a three-part interview. Parts two and three will be published August 9th and August 16th, respectively. Also, this interview was originally conducted in March through July of 2016.

***

Now, to get started, I ask all of my interviewees the same starting question, and that’s this: how do we know each other?

We both attended the Odyssey Writing Workshop — I in 1998, and you in 2005. We got to know each other via an email group for alums. You graciously volunteered to read and critique an early draft of my novel Petra. (Thanks again for that, by the way). We’ve kept in touch ever since.

I’m really starting to go into denial regarding how quickly the years are passing. Tell me, since my initial beta read of Petra, can you talk about your process from that stage to the published stage it’s at now?

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Scavenger Hunt with J.L. Gribble

So some of you may be intuiting a pattern: as Maria V. Snyder did after her interview, so J.L. Gribble is doing with hers! That’s right: IT’S SCAVENGER HUNT TIME!!! That means it’s time to see how closely you were REALLY paying attention to the interview!

Below are three questions: each question correlates to one part of my interview with J.L. Gribble. Answer each question correctly, and you’re entered into a random drawing for a prize: an e-book copy (in your preferred format) of both Steel Victory AND Steel Magic!

There will be two winners, but the contest is open internationally. The winners will be contacted by email so that you can collect your prize from J.L. Gribble!

Ready?

Question #1: (from Boosting Confidence): Who is one author J.L. would like to study under (BUT HASN’T), and what specifically would J.L. like to learn from this author?

Question #2: (from Monsters Are People): What would J.L. love to see her Steel Empires series get adapted into?

Question #3: (from Getting My Name Out There): Who does J.L Gribble think is criminally under-read?

Just click the link below to go to the entry form (at Google Drive) and fill out each question. Each person answering all three questions correctly will be placed on a list for a random drawing.

You have until Tuesday, August 2nd to enter, and the winners will be notified by email on Wednesday, August 3rd.

One entry per person, no purchase necessary, void where prohibited, all entrants’ information will be deleted once winners have been confirmed, etc. If you’re unsure as to whether or not your entry came through, please comment here to ask.

To enter, please click below and fill out the form. May the odds be ever in your favor!

ENTER: Scavenger Hunt with J.L. Gribble

Calico in Conversation: Getting My Name Out There with J.L. Gribble

Morgantown Poets SocietyWelcome to third and final installment of Calico In Conversation with J.L. Gribble. If you missed Parts One and Two, click below to catch up:

Part One: Boosting Confidence
Part Two: Monsters Are People

Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through June of 2016.

***

One thing I’ve admired about your writing career, to date, is how well you seem to manage all the things required of you in addition to writing. You go to lots of conventions (well, more than one to me is a LOT, since I’m lucky to manage one convention per year). Can you talk about your experiences as a small press author at conventions?

Going to multiple conventions and events per year depends on a few different variables for me, such as the reasonable traveling distance (where reasonable can refer to time driving and/or cost of plane ticket) and the price I’m willing to pay for lodging and other necessities. Money is a huge factor in both of these, because I always know going in that there’s no way I will sell enough books to cover the entire cost of the trip. Most authors I know, whether small or large press, are in a similar situation, since we are long past the days of book tours paid for by large publishing houses. In my case, I’m fortunate enough to have a day job that covers these types of expenses (again, reasonably), along with a husband who shrugs it off as the cost of what could be any other expensive hobby.

So because I know I’m going to lose money at every convention I attend, I have a pretty specific criterion about whether I will go. I just have to have the chance to get my name out there. That’s it! I’d like to be on a panel, have a reading slot, have a chance to sign books at a scheduled time, and/or participate in a workshop. Pretty simple, especially since I’m not even asking for free registration, much less lodging, meals, or travel assistance. The drawbacks to this are, of course, that I don’t go to all the conventions I could. Ironically, this means I don’t even go to the two of the conventions closest to where I live, because despite my repeated attempts to volunteer, neither have expressed an interest in including me on their schedule. However, I’ve now been a multi-year guest at a few conventions, and I’m excited to add a few more to the list this year!

My schedule for 2016:

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Calico in Conversation: Monsters Are People with J.L. Gribble

Steel Victory Launch 1Welcome to Part Two of Calico In Conversation with J.L. Gribble. If you missed Part One: Boosting Confidence, feel free to click here to catch up!

Editor’s Note: this interview was originally conducted in March through June of 2016.

***

Let’s move on to influences: as writers, we all have them. What do you think influences your writing the most?

There’s never a simple answer to that question! I draw my inspiration from the other media I consume (books, television, movies, graphic novels, role-playing games, etc.), courses I’ve taken in school, and the people I meet around me. But that’s a pretty cliche answer in and of itself, so instead I’ll talk more about the challenges I’ve set for myself in my writing.

My favorite take on the concept of immortality is that presented in the television show Highlander: The Series, where even people who live forever are still people. I wanted to write about paranormal monsters who are also still people first. In addition, my debut novel, the thesis I wrote for graduate school, started out as a reaction to the Twilight craze. I wanted to write about a vampire who can be a romantic creature, but whose story wasn’t necessarily a romance. Thus, the character of Victory, a vampire in a mature, adult relationship, was born. But characters don’t exist in a vacuum, so I gave her a family, friends, and a career. The conflict of the novel was born from taking all of those things away, one by one.

The rest of the Steel Empires series continues along the vein, with other challenges that I decided to set for myself. Steel Magic could be considered a coming of age story for Victory’s daughter, inspired by a class I took in college on the female coming-of-age novel. Book 3, Steel Blood, was deliberately structured around the scenes set by William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. And book 4 is going to be a time travel book…because I freaking love time travel stories.

Interesting…. It’s funny, because you’re reminding me of a Tor.com post written by Alex Bledsoe regarding his Eddie LaCrosse series, wherein each book of the series was written in response to a particular THING the author was inspired by or wanted to explore. I can’t begin to explain HOW MUCH I LOVE THIS APPROACH. While I haven’t read Bledsoe’s series (and I’ve only read your first book), I imagine it gives each book a unique approach, despite the characters and the world tying it together into one series. Thoughts?

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Culture Consumption: June 2016

Happy July! The year is officially half over! June brought the first month of Calico in Conversation, which was SEKRIT PROJECT #1 and seems to be going well so far. And this time next month, you’ll be introduced to SEKRIT PROJECT #2, so please, stay tuned to the blog for any announcements.

In addition to working on said SEKRIT PROJECTS, June brought a lot of great entertainment, so let’s break it down, shall we?

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Winners: Maria V. Snyder Scavenger Hunt!

First of all, I want to thank everyone who 1) sat down to read the interview with Maria V. Snyder, and 2) who participated in last week’s Scavenger Hunt. We had 37 entries, and almost everyone answered correctly (though kudos to the one person who CLEARLY did NOT read the interview, but answered wrongly with confidence!). I’ve contacted the three winners privately by email to confirm your information, so if you haven’t yet responded, please do so I can get you in touch with Maria, and you can collect your prize!

In the meantime, you may be wondering: will there be another Scavenger Hunt? Well, that depends on the author, but I must tell you, J.L. Gribble seems VERY agreeable, so you should encourage her by reading her interview (in three parts) and signal boosting the interviews the best you can. The more, the merrier!

Happy Reading, and thank you again for participating!