Calico in Conversation: Boosting Confidence with J.L. Gribble

gribble-photo-color
J.L. Gribble

By day, J. L. Gribble is a professional medical editor. By night, she does freelance fiction editing in all genres, along with reading, playing video games, and occasionally even writing. She is currently working on the Steel Empires series for Dog Star Books, the science-fiction/adventure imprint of Raw Dog Screaming Press. Previously, she was an editor for the Far Worlds anthology.

Gribble studied English at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She received her Master’s degree in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, where her debut novel Steel Victory was her thesis for the program.

She lives in Ellicott City, Maryland, with her husband and three vocal Siamese cats. Find her online (www.jlgribble.com), on Facebook, and on Twitter and Instagram (@hannaedits).

Editor’s Note: this is part one of a three-part interview. Parts two and three will be published July 12th and July 19th, respectively. Also, this interview was originally conducted in March through June of 2016.

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

Hi, Shara! We both attended Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program. Our terms overlapped by a few years, and I’m so glad that gave us the opportunity to meet. My earliest memory of you is that your first residency was the year we all gave ourselves Battlestar Galactica names. I was Officer Dualla and you were D’Anna Biers. I have equated you with the badass Lucy Lawless ever since.

Badass Lucy Lawless? I’LL TAKE IT. Hell, why don’t I cosplay that more? I’ve totally got the hair and the jawline… just not the muscles.

I’m glad you brought up Seton Hill. Back then, it was a Master of Arts, which has now become a Master of FINE Arts in Writing Popular Fiction. I never went back for the “F” in my MA. Did you do that, and if you haven’t, would you consider doing that, considering this point in your career?

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Scavenger Hunt with Maria V. Snyder

What, you thought Maria was finished with us? Oh, no…. just because the interview is over doesn’t mean there isn’t fun to be had. In fact, we’re going to play a little game, just to see how closely you’ve been paying attention to the past month’s interview.

Below are three questions: each question correlates to one part of my interview with Maria. Answer each question correctly, and you’re entered into a random drawing for a prize: your pick of either 1) a signed copy of Poison Study (for those of you who’ve never read her work), or 2) a signed copy of Night Study (the latest in the series), or 3) a signed copy of the Australian edition of Night Study (for those of you who have ALL the books and want something a little different).

There will be three winners. Two in the United States, and one international.  All winners will be contacted by email and asked to confirm their mailing address so that Maria knows where to send the prizes.

Ready?

Question #1: (from Eye-Candy): Who would Maria cast to play Yelena if Poison Study was made into a television show?

Question #2: (from Getting Goosebumps): What’s one thing Maria would change about her already published books?

Question #3 (from My Readers Brought Me Back): What is Maria working on after the Soulfinder series wraps up?

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, July 5th to enter, and winners will be notified by email on Wednesday, July 6th.

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 Maria V. Snyder

 

Calico in Conversation: My Readers Brought Me Back with Maria V. Snyder

Sunday LNP Photo 2Welcome to third and final installment of Calico In Conversation with Maria V. Snyder. If you missed Parts One and Two, click below to catch up:

Part One: Eye Candy
Part Two: Getting Goosebumps

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

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You started out with the Study trilogy, then the spin-off Glass trilogy, an SF YA duology, then the Healer trilogy, and now you’re back to the Study universe. What brought you back to this world and these characters?

My readers brought me back. They kept asking for more books about Yelena and Valek and I really wanted to write more for them, but I didn’t have an idea that seemed…big enough for another book. Yelena was too powerful and Valek just too skilled a fighter. I thought of writing a prequel about Valek’s life before meeting the Commander up until he meets Yelena, but I think the relationship between the two of them is what really makes the stories. Then I thought of having some hot shot new assassin try for Valek’s job and his interactions with her would be a nice segue for flashbacks into his past…and that was enough to write a new Study book. The plan was to write one, but once I finished Shadow Study, I knew I could write two more. Now, I’m trying to finish Dawn Study before I leave for Australia. [Maria’s Note: which didn’t happen, I’m just wrapping it up and it’s the end of May!]

It’s nice when the ideas come to you! Once this trilogy is done, what’s next? Can you talk about it?

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Calico In Conversation: Getting Goosebumps with Maria V. Snyder

Welcome to Part Two of Calico In Conversation with Maria V. Snyder. If you missed Part One: Eye Candy, feel free to click here to catch up!

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

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Sunday LNP Photo

So I have to say, you are one of the most prolific writers that I know personally. I think you average about a book a year. Can you talk about what your schedule is like and what you have to do to meet those deadlines?

I do average a book a year and try to write short stories in between. I write every night from 10 pm to 3 am from Sunday to Thursday. I set a minimum word count goal for each evening. I can’t go to bed unless I write at least 1000 words. Most nights I exceed that count. I also do a writing retreat twice a year where I go to a cabin at a state park with an author friend and we write all day. When my deadline is looming and I’m falling behind, I’ll write on Friday and Saturday nights and even during the day if I’m desperate. Right now I’m trying to get Dawn Study finished before I jet off to Australia in April and I still have 15,000 words to go! Next week, I believe I’m gonna be desperate! [Maria’s note: Sadly, I didn’t get Dawn Study done before leaving. I’m just finishing it up now and it’s the end of May!]

Your schedule seems surprisingly doable to me. I’m assuming you no longer have to work the “dreaded” day job?

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Calico In Conversation: Eye-Candy with Maria V. Snyder

Maria V. Snyder
Maria V. Snyder

Meteorologist turned novelist, Maria V. Snyder has been writing fantasy and science fiction since she was bored at work and needed something creative to do. Over a dozen novels later, Maria’s been on the New York Times bestseller list, won a half-dozen awards, and has earned her Master’s degree in Writing from Seton Hill University where she’s now part of the MFA faculty. She also enjoys creating new worlds where horses and swords rule, ’cause let’s face it, they’re cool, although she’s been known to trap her poor characters in a giant metal cube and let them figure out how to get out.

Editor’s Note: this is part one of a three-part interview. Parts two and three will be published Tuesday June 14th and June 21st, respectively. Also, this interview was originally conducted in March through May of 2016.

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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 Seton Hill University’s Masters of Arts program for writing popular fiction. I graduated in 2007 (I’m not sure if we were students together? – in my defense that was 9 years ago!). Then in 2008, I returned and am now on the faculty.

1192365I remember some overlap. I got to hear you read from Magic Study as your thesis defense, and I also remember seeing the very early pages in workshop that made up the opening chapter of Inside Out. But my favorite memory is this: attending my very first SHU class when you were handing out bookmarks promoting Poison Study. I saw the cover art and flipped out, because I’d drooled over the hardcover just weeks before in a Barnes & Noble! So tell me: what made you, a published author, apply for the SHU Writing Popular Fiction Masters Degree?

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Introducing Calico in Conversation

I’ve been working on some SEKRIT PROJECTS the past few months, and of the two, one is finally coming to fruition!

Back in February, I put up a side bar: Authors I Know. The purpose of this was to bring some recognition to the writers who labored in the trenches with me and have managed to get out there and get their wonderful words in the hands of the public. This post gave me an idea: why stop there? Why not highlight them individually? And how would I do that?

The result: Calico in Conversation: an organic interview where I would start off each interviewee with the same question, and then see where the conversation takes us.

So it’s with great excitement, and some trepidation, that Calico in Conversation kicks off next Tuesday, June 7th, with part one of my interview with Maria V. Snyder, author of the recently published Night Study, and one of the most prolific authors I know personally.

Yes, you read that right: PART ONE. Maria and I got into chatting so much that the interview has to be broken into THREE parts, so expect additional installments on Tuesday June 14th and Tuesday June 21st! Then in July, I’ll move onto another author. In August, yet another author. And so on and so forth until 1) I get bored and/or 2) I run out of authors to torment.

I won’t claim to be a professional journalist or interviewer, and I suspect my skills will sharpen as time goes on. But it’s great to get back in touch with these friends and colleagues of mine to talk shop, motivations, inspirations, and what life looks like outside of writing! I hope you’ll have as much fun with these interviews as I have, and if you’re wondering who to expect in the future, just take a gander below: if you have any questions for these fine folks, you can either comment here for me to slip them into the interview, or comment when the interviews go live for the authors to answer themselves!

Stay tuned!!!!

Sidebar: Authors I Know

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to put together a Links List of made up of authors I know. Pretentious sounding, right? But knowing, while also half the battle, actually means people I know in real life: people whose work I’ve critiqued, and/or who’ve critiqued my own work. People who’ve published books and/or short fiction and who have websites I can link to.

I’ve met most of them in person. We may have met at Hollins University, where I received my Bachelor of Arts. We may have met at the Odyssey Writing Workshop, where I spent six weeks in deep study of how to write science fiction and fantasy. We may have met at Seton Hill University, where I received my Master of Arts in Writing Popular Fiction.

I have not included authors with whom I’ve developed a camaraderie with online. There’s actually quite a few, thanks to my book blogging days at Calico Reaction. But I felt that would be, if anything, a bit presumptuous, and besides: I want to promote the people I know from the places that shaped me as a writer.

And these authors represent a wide variety of fiction, not simply science fiction and fantasy. I can’t make any guarantees that their work will hit your sweet spot, but I can guarantee their websites are worth checking out, just to see if you might find something that tickles your interest. Who knows? You may discover a new favorite.

So without further adieu, I now have a sidebar to the right listing all of the authors I know. Some of the names you may recognize, because I’ve reviewed their work back at Calico Reaction, or promoted their debuts on this site. Other names you may not recognize at all, because they’re either just getting started or are self-publishing. All names are worth sampling.

To those authors, I say congratulations and happy writing. I also ask that if you’d rather not be listed, or if the link to the website is wrong or I’m not using the correct author name, please let me know so I can make the corrections. Also, if I’ve left you out, accept my apologies for my faulty memory and provide the appropriate information in the comments below.

To my readers, please browse the names, click on links, and look for books that interest you. I know the authors would appreciate it!

 

Culture Consumption: January 2016

2016 is here, and more to the point, it’s already February. Time flies when you’re having fun, and in my case, that fun is books, movies, television, and comics! Here’s what I managed to consume in January.

25340696Books

When it came to novels, I started 2016 with a bang! January brought some great reading, and some not so great. I’ve committed to being more discerning when I’m reading books, which means if a book isn’t grabbing me early on, then it goes to the DNF pile. In January, I had two DNFs, and I would’ve had three, because the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was terrible. I finished it because I’m a glutton for punishment, and because I’m a Star Wars fan. The two books I actually didn’t finish? Were far better written than Foster’s adaptation, but sadly the texts simply did not engage me.

In the win column, Newman’s Planetfall, Bow’s The Scorpion Rules, and Kornher-Stace’s Archivist Wasp were all compelling reads, as was Duncan’s The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter, a book I’m still having trouble believing was written by a guy, given how convincing the heroine’s POV was.

January, in short, was a great reading month.

1) Planetfall by Emma Newman
2) Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster
3) Archivist Wasp by Nicole Kornher-Stace
4) The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow
5) The Bullet-Catcher’s Daughter by Rod Duncan

Did Not Finish:

1) The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins
2) Phoenix Island by John Dixon

Short Fiction

I hadn’t planned on any short fiction in January, but Lee Robins posted a link to a short story of hers published at Daily Science Fiction, and I had to give it a gander. A great read, and I adored the format.

1) “Tin and Mercury, Gilt and Glass” by Lane Robins

26240977Comics

I have a goal of reading one comic book a day in 2016. Now, that’s not always going to work out: I’ll run out of individual issues, or I’ll get sucked into a graphic novel and read more than one chapter, but that’s the goal. January worked out great, as I not only met my goal (for a total of 31 issues), but I read a hardcover collection in addition (Lumberjanes, what an adorable and fun comic!) as well as a giant, over-sized issue collecting Jem and the Holograms covers for the series so far. Well, read is an exaggeration: there was nothing to read there: just lots of pretty covers to look at!

Graphic Novels:

1) Lumberjanes: To the Max Edition: Volume 1 by Shannon Watters

Individual Issues:

Batgirl #46
Clean Room #3
Descender #8
Descender #9
Jacked #1
Jem and the Holograms #10
Jem and the Holograms Covers Treasury Edition
Lucifer #1
Ms. Marvel #2
Orphan Black: Helsinki #2
Red Thorn #2
Sleepy Hollow: Providence #1
Sleepy Hollow: Providence #2
Sleepy Hollow: Providence #3
Sleepy Hollow: Providence #4
Star Wars #12
Star Wars #13
Star Wars #14
Star Wars Annual #1
Star Wars: Chewbacca #4
Star Wars: Chewbacca #5
Star Wars: Darth Vader #12
Star Wars: Darth Vader #13
Star Wars: Darth Vader #14
Star Wars: Darth Vader Annual #1
Star Wars: Death Vader #15
Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1
Star Wars: Vader Down #1
The Sheriff of Babylon #1
The Twilight Children #3
The Walking Dead #149
The Walking Dead #150

Disney-Pixar-Inside-Out-Movie-PosterMovies

Why yes, I did go see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters. Again. I’ve officially seen it twice, which is a woefully small number, but maybe I can correct that before it finishes its theatrical run.

In other news, I finally got to watch Inside Out, which was ADORABLE. The Visit was a nice return to form for M. Night Shyamalan, and the end of Bone Tomahawk freaked me the hell out.

* = repeat viewing

A Perfect Ending
Bone Tomahawk
Cabin in the Woods*
Cop Car
Inside Out
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
Star Wars: The Force Awakens* (in theaters)
The Descent*
The Visit
Tropic Thunder*
What We Do In the Shadows*

galavant_612x816Television Shows

I’m addicted to Cheers, to the point I’m letting on-going comedies like The Big Bang Theory and New Girl simply fall by the wayside. It’s a great show. American Horror Story: Hotel wrapped up, and while there were storylines/characters I liked, I still find that American Horror Story: Asylum is the best. But the most fun to be had in January was the second season of Galavant. It delivered on season one’s cliff-hanger and ended in a wonderful way that allows the story to continue if it gets renewed, but is utterly satisfying if it doesn’t. And the songs…. oh, the songs…..

* = repeat viewing

American Horror Story: Hotel
Cheers Season 2
Cheers Season 3
Galavant Season 2


That’s it from me! Also, feel free to share whatever 2016 stats you’ve got! How many books? How many movies? What were your favorites? Lay them on me!

Cheers!

A Few of My Favorite Things: Books 2015

I think there’s always a part of me that will miss having a book blog. After putting together December’s Culture Consumption, I started wondering… what WERE my favorite books of 2015? To figure that out, I pulled up my Library Thing account and started sorting by date finished, and then I started looking at the ratings. Anything four stars or higher got written down on the appropriate list: a full five stars are listed as favorites, and four and four-and-a-half stars were honorable mentions.

Why Library Thing instead of Goodreads? Because LT allows for half stars, which means when I’m rating on Goodreads, I might round up or down depending on how I want the rating to look on that site. LT is a more accurate reflection of my thoughts.

I also did not include a few of the fun, children’s type books on the list. I’m a sucker for Jeffrey Brown’s Darth Vader series, and Simon Tofield’s Simon’s Cat books are adorable. So they didn’t get counted.

Before I review my favorites and honorable mentions, I did want to make a few points:

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