Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Blog Tour: When Water Was Everywhere

Where Writers Write is a series that features authors as they showcase their writing spaces using short form essay, photos, and/or video. As a lover of books and all of the hard work that goes into creating them, I thought it would be fun to see where the authors roll up their sleeves and make the magic happen. 

This particular installment is part of the When Water Was Everywhere blog tour, which runs the entire month of February. If you like what you see here, be sure to check out the other stops!


Today, we've invited author Barbara Crane to snap some shots of her writing space. 

Her most recent novel, When Water Was Everywhere, won a Beverly Hills Book Award. She lives in Long Beach, CA near Rancho Los Cerritos and other sites she used in her novel.

Where Barbara Crane Writes

Virginia Woolf, the early 20th century novelist, famously writes about a writer’s need for a room of her own. While she was speaking about women—men already had society’s permission to pursue a career in the arts—the same is true for all creative souls. We all need a space where we can shut ourselves away, free to let our imaginations wander and follow the muse.

My office clearly says to me, “A writer writes here.” The space is good sized, about 10’x12’, with desk and bookcases along three walls.  I like the clear space in the middle. Usually, it’s cluttered with papers, because I spread writing projects on the floor. Sometimes I’m working on two or three projects at one time. It gets pretty messy, but I don’t see the papers as clutter. I think it’s an efficient way to put the pieces together and make sure I don’t forget anything.


I also like the window in front of my computer. I can look out and see the trees. I read a study recently which said that people who can see trees from their office windows experience less stress. It works for me!

  On my desk, I keep a drawing that inspires me: the high country in Denali National Park in Alaska, where I hiked a few years ago. The park’s wildness and beauty inspires me.

  I have a fair amount of space for books. Here’s one partial wall of my office bookcases. I keep research materials for writing projects I’m currently working on here as well as fiction and nonfiction that I want to read.

My husband established his office upstairs in the loft. He’s made it into a pleasant space. Sometimes, I use his office, for example, when I need better resolution on a photograph (he has better software than I do), or when my computer is down, or when I want to order a book on Amazon (our Amazon Prime account is in his name).

The loft isn’t all his, though. I keep a drawing table there with my drawing and painting supplies ready to use. Sometimes I fool around with pastels or watercolors to get ideas when I’m stuck.

I like a lot of things about my office. First, it has a door. I usually keep the door open, but if I really need to concentrate or make sure I’m not disturbed, I close the door. Second, it’s mine. I can put things where I like. No one will disturb the order—or disorder. And finally—and maybe this is more important than anything else—my office means work to me. Work can be something I have to produce for someone else. Or it can mean creative work. In any case, my imagination is free to roam in my room of my own.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Audio Series: The Secret of Ventriloquism

Our audio series "The Authors Read. We Listen."  was hatched in a NYC club during BEA back in 2012. It's a fun little series, where authors record themselves reading an excerpt from their own novels, in their own voices, the way their stories were meant to be heard.

Jon Padgett  reads an excerpt from his debut short story collection, The Secret of Ventriloquism, which was published by Dunhams Manor Press in late 2016. He lives in New Orleans with his spouse, their daughter, and two cats. He has work out or forthcoming in Pseudopod, The Lovecraft eZine, Antenna::Signals, Xnoybis and The Junk Merchants: A Literary Salute to William S. Burroughs

Click here to listen to Jon reading the short story "The Indoor Swamp" 

The word on The Secret of Ventriloquism:

With themes reminiscent of Shirley Jackson, Thomas Ligotti, and Bruno Shulz, but with a strikingly unique vision, Jon Padgett's The Secret of Ventriloquism heralds the arrival of a significant new literary talent. Padgett’s work explores the mystery of human suffering, the agony of personal existence, and the ghastly means by which someone might achieve salvation from both. A bullied child who seeks vengeance within a bed’s hollow box spring; a lucid dreamer haunted by an impossible house; a dummy that reveals its own anatomy in 20 simple steps; a stuttering librarian who holds the key to a mill town's unspeakable secrets; a commuter whose worldview is shattered by two words printed on a cardboard sign; an aspiring ventriloquist who spends a little too much time looking at himself in a mirror. And the presence that speaks through them all.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Book Giveaway: Under the Poppy

Since July 2010, TNBBC has been bringing authors and readers together every month to get behind the book! This unique experience wouldn't be possible without the generous donations of the authors and publishers involved.

It's the beginning of a new month and you know what that means..
Time to give away our February Author/Reader Discussion novel!

We will be reading and discussing Under the Poppy 
with author Kathe Koja

Kathe has made 10 signed trade paperbacks available for this giveaway. 

(Sorry my friend, because the author is shipping them, 
we are limiting these to US Residents only!)

What it's about: 

From a wartime brothel to the intricate high society of 1870s Brussels, Under the Poppy is a breakout novel of childhood friends, a love triangle, puppetmasters, and reluctant spies.

Under the Poppy is a brothel owned by Decca and Rupert. Decca is in love with Rupert, but he in turn is in love with her brother, Istvan. When Istvan comes to town, louche puppet troupe in tow, the lines of their age-old desires intersect against a backdrop of approaching war. Hearts are broken when old betrayals and new alliances - not just their own - take shape, as the townsmen seek refuge from the onslaught of history by watching the girls of the Poppy cavort onstage with Istvan's naughty puppets . . .

Under the Poppy is a vivid, sexy, historical novel that zips along like the best guilty pleasure. 

This giveaway will run through February 9th . 
Winners will be announced here and via email on February 10th.

Here's how to enter:

1 - Leave a comment here or in the giveaway thread over at TNBBC on goodreads. Remember, you must be a resident of the US to enter.

2 - State that you agree to participate in the group read book discussion that will run from March 20th through March 26th. Kathe has agreed to participate in the discussion and will be available to answer any questions you may have for her. 

 3 - Your comment must have a way to contact you (email is preferred).


 *If you are chosen as a winner, by accepting the copy you are agreeing to read the book and join the group discussion at TNBBC on Goodreads (the thread for the discussion will be emailed to you before the discussion begins). 


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Page 69: Escape From Dinosauria

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

we put  Vincenzo Bilof and Max Booth III's Escape From Dinosauria to the test!

Set up page 69 for us. What are we about to read?

Jamie Rock, a professional mixed-martial artist, is having dinner with the owner of Dinosauria Resorts, and her boyfriend, Jordan. They are in an upper floor suite in the high-rise, when a pterodactyl crashes through the room. The dinosaurs on this island were supposed to be safe…

What’s Escape From Dinosauria about?

When cage fighting champion, Jamie Rock, visits the infamous Dinosauria Resorts with her boyfriend, she's expecting an annoying weekend filled with autographs and raptor rides. What she doesn't expect, however, is for a group of terrorists to attack as soon as she lands on the island. Apparently not everybody is too happy with the way Dinosauria is being managed, and some will do whatever it takes to destroy it from the inside out. And Jamie's reluctantly stuck in the middle of it all, kicking as much dino-ass as she can. She doesn't want to be a hero. She just wants a cold beer. Unfortunately, she'll have to go through an entire army of genetically mutated dinosaurs to get one.

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the book is about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme?

Jamie is reluctant to be any kind of hero or role model; she shuns the spotlight and just wants to live a normal life, despite her ability to dominate a fight. This page thrusts Jamie against the rather unreal, violent contest that threatens to take everything that she once believed to be normal away from her; in addition, Jamie has always been able to find her own solutions to everything that challenges her, which includes walking away from the idea of romance. In this scene she is helpless, challenged by a force that will change how she thinks about herself and what she truly wants out of life. As Jamie, from this point on, must find a way to escape from an island overrun by genetically-engineered dinosaurs, she must also escape from any false perceptions of herself (the top of page 69 is actually the middle of a paragraph).


What the hell happened? She had to stand. The fight wasn’t over. She was still in this.

Jamie rose to her feet, steadying herself against the door. The huge dinner table was gone, replaced by a monstrously large bird. She had been hit pretty hard by the glass chunk. The room spun. She had to get back to her corner. The bell needed to ring. She needed one more round. Just needed a moment to get her shit together.

She let go of the wall and stumbled forward while the room shook violently. The massive bird was not a bird at all, but a leathery lizard with wings. She knew what she was looking at but she couldn’t admit it to herself. Its body broken and bleeding, the creature groaned and its beak opened to reveal rows of sharp, curved teeth. Its crested head lifted a couple inches and dropped weakly. She thought about baby dragons.

One black eye closed on the side of its head. A thick red tongue full of blood rolled out of its toothy jaw. Glass shards were embedded in its scaly flesh and blood seeped from hundreds of wounds, pooling over the carpet of shattered window beneath it.

Yeah, she knew what it was called. Every kid in America who had the privilege of going to school knew what a pterodactyl looked like. And here it was. A dying pterodactyl.

“Jamie,” a voice groaned.

Jordan’s hand stretched out from beneath a leathery, bat-like wing. She bent down and nearly fell flat on her face. Her strength hadn’t returned and she had to wipe blood out of her eyes. The room was still shaking and the wounded dinosaur moaned louder.

Gripping his hand tightly, Jamie tried to lift the heavy wing and became light-headed again. She lost her grip on Jordan’s hand and stumbled backward. She couldn’t fall again. She had to keep standing. Jordan needed her.

The room tilted again and Jamie slipped on a glass shard, its edges cutting into the pads of her foot. The sharp pain was easy to ignore, but falling to her knees again was something she cursed herself for. Her hands were cut by more glass, and maybe her knees, and maybe her ankles; she was bloody but she wasn’t beat. She had to stand again.



From Detroit, Michigan, Vincenzo Bilof has been called “The Metallica of Poetry” and “The Shakespeare of Gore”. With a body of work that includes gritty, apocalyptic horror (The Zombie Ascension Series), surrealist prose (The Horror Show), and visceral genre satire (Vampire Strippers from Saturn), Bilof’s fiction remains as divisive and controversial as it is original. He likes to think Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot, and Charles Baudelaire would be proud of his work. More likely, Ed Wood would have been his biggest fan. 

During the day, Bilof repairs arcade machines in semi-operational billiards clubs, or he chases his children around the house in between episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 
You can check out his blog here:

Max Booth III is the author of four novels. His mom has read at least one of them. He's the Editor-in-Chief of Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing and an ongoing columnist at He works as a hotel night auditor in a small town outside San Antonio, TX. Follow him on Twitter @GiveMeYourTeeth and visit him at

Monday, January 30, 2017

Buried in Books - My New Precioussssess

Because I can't possibly read every single book that finds its way into my home IMMEDIATELY, though I fully intend to die trying, allow me to show off our most recently acquired precioussssess...

For Review

JD Wilkes
March 2017
Two Dollar Radio

In a forgotten corner of western Kentucky lies a haunted forest referred to locally as "The Deadening," where vampire cults roam wild and time is immaterial. Our protagonist and his accomplice—the one and only, Carver Canute—set out down the Old Spur Line in search of the legendary Kudzu House, where an old couple is purported to have been swallowed whole by a hungry vine. Their quest leads them face to face with albino panthers, Great Dane-riding girls, protective property owners, and just about every American folk-demon ever, while forcing the protagonist to finally take stock of his relationship with his father and the man's mysterious disappearance. 

Gerald M O'Connor
February 2017
Down & Out Books

All families have secrets. Most go untold…

In the summer of ’96, Benjamin Hackett has come of age, technically. And in the midst of the celebratory hangover, his world is whipped out from under his feet. His parents have finally shared their lifelong secret with him; he’s adopted.

At the age of eighteen, the boy still has some growing up to do, and with the help of JJ, his loquacious consigliore and bodyguard, he embarks on an adventure that’ll put to bed a lifetime of lies. Over the course of five days, they find themselves caught up in the darker side of Cork. But when they sweep through the misfits blocking their way and finally discover the truth of it…now that’s the greatest shock of all.

The Origins of Benjamin Hackett is a tender tale of heartache and displacement told through a wry and courageous voice. Set in Ireland, it’s a timely reminder that the world hasn’t moved on just as fast as we fancy. Now, in this emotionally charged story, Gerald O’Connor explores conditioned guilt and its consequences in a country still hiding from the sins of its past.

Sam Shepard
Narration by Bill Pullham
February 2017
Knopf Publishing

This searing, extraordinarily evocative narrative opens with a man in his house at dawn, surrounded by aspens, coyotes cackling in the distance as he quietly navigates the distance between present and past. More and more, memory is overtaking him: in his mind he sees himself in a movie-set trailer, his young face staring back at him in a mirror surrounded by light bulbs. In his dreams and in visions he sees his late father sometimes in miniature, sometimes flying planes, sometimes at war. By turns, he sees the bygone America of his childhood: the farmland and the feedlots, the railyards and the diners and, most hauntingly, his father's young girlfriend, with whom he also became involved, setting into motion a tragedy that has stayed with him. His complex interiority is filtered through views of mountains and deserts as he drives across the country, propelled by jazz, benzedrine, rock and roll, and a restlessness born out of exile. The rhythms of theater, the language of poetry, and a flinty humor combine in this stunning meditation on the nature of experience, at once celebratory, surreal, poignant, and unforgettable.

David S Atkinson
January 2017
Literary Wanderlust

Doesn’t it seem as if someone issues a new apocalypse prediction every week? Y2K? The Mayan apocalypse? The Rapture? Doesn’t it seem endless? As opposed to the traditional trend of post-apocalyptic literature, Apocalypse All the Time is post-post-apocalypticism.

Marshall is sick of the apocalypse happening on a weekly (if not daily) basis. Life is constantly in peril, continually disrupted, but nothing significant ever happens. The emergency is always handled. Always. Marshall wants out; he wants it all to stop…one way or another. Apocalypse All the Time explores humanity’s fascination with the end times and what impact such a fascination has on the way we live our lives.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Page 69: Before

Disclaimer: The Page 69 Test is not mine. It has been around since 2007, asking authors to compare page 69 against the meat of the actual story it is a part of. I loved the whole idea of it and so I'm stealing it specifically to showcase small press titles - novels, novellas, short story collections, the works! So until the founder of The Page 69 Test calls a cease and desist, let's do this thing....

In this installment of Page 69, 

we put Carmen Boullosa's Before to the test.

What is Before about? 

I published Antes (translated now as Before) in 1989. I remember with precision where and how I (hand)wrote every line. Some at the theater bar we ran then, at the small space where we stored our provisions, a mini-attic; the ceiling was so slow that it was impossible to stand up; I set the wine boxes to be used as my desk and chair (movable both, for we had full house almost daily), and wrote while the play or the show was on stage, and ran down the ladder the minute the applause began, ran up after I closed the cashier, while the last customers were still sitting around their drinks and having fun. Other lines I wrote when we closed the place (at 2am) and arrived at home; I stayed awake working till my children woke up (at 6 or 7). I had it clear it was a ghost story told by the ghost herself, written by a poet (me) in the voice of a female of my generation but whose life had stopped short two decades before, a girl who would have been a poet, for she cared most of all about words. Now, for me today, Before is still a ghost story, and it is my remembrances of the years I wrote it. It is my children when they were very small, my then compaƱero who rests in peace, my friends, the artists that worked with us, the plays I wrote, the packed place, the smell of it all (a mix of tobacco, alcohol, fried Mexican goodies that Chabela the cook, who also rests in peace, prepared for the customers)... And because the ghost’s my generation, it is also my city’s childhood. Too much, I guess.

Please set up Page 69 for us. What are we about to read? 

In the first couple of lines, a ghost, who is the main character and the narrator of the book, ends talking about a treasured memory she has, makes a break and starts presenting to our eyes what dreams are, and were, for her. We learn something interesting: ghosts sleep and dream. Lucky her: I sleep so badly, insomnia is my thing...

Do you think this page gives our readers an accurate sense of what the books is all about? Does it align itself with the book’s overall theme? 

Yes, and no. The "theme" might be "fear." And here we don’t have fear but a bit of oxygen. It’s a breath inside the book, a breath of words, words give her the only way to be alive.



Carmen Boullosa is one of Mexico's leading novelists, poets, and playwrights. The translation of her novel Texas: The Great Theft (Deep Vellum, 2014) was shortlisted for the PEN Translation Prize, nominated for the International Dublin Literary Award, and won Typographical Era's Translation Award. She lives in Brooklyn and Mexico City.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Steph Post's Guide to Books & Booze

Time to grab a book and get tipsy!

Books & Booze challenges participating authors to make up their own drinks, name and all, or create a drink list for their characters and/or readers using drinks that already exist. 

Today, Steph Post is throwing all the booze at her upcoming novel Lightwood


By the second scene of Lightwood, we see our protagonist, Judah Cannon, fresh out of prison and getting lit at The Ace in the Hole. His hometown bar will serve as the backdrop for several key moments in the story, including being reacquainted with the love of his life, Ramey, and getting a Cannon family beat-down in the parking lot. As with my first novel A Tree Born Crooked, bars are an integral part of Lightwood. The only other watering hole in the rural north Florida town of Silas, Limey’s, also serves as a backdrop to the Cannon family saga, and with devastating consequences. Needless to say, my characters, for the most part, are drinkers. They like their beer by the case and their whiskey straight. They don’t have time for fruity cocktails or neon shots that will make you puke rainbows.

But if they did…

If the characters of Lightwood walked into a bar and the only thing on the board was a shots list… here’s what they’d be ordering.

Judah Cannon- Snake Bite (Yukon Jack, Lime). He’d grumble about it, but he’d take it, because hey, it’s alcohol. It’s almost like drinking straight whiskey, if you ignore the pucker of lime. And the name is quietly badass, just like Judah. Not flashy, but definitely still dangerous. And although Judah himself won’t be the recipient of a rattlesnake attack (that’s saved for another character) he does have his sights set on Sister Tulah: the wiliest snake of them all.  

Ramey Barrow- Kamikaze (Vodka, Triple Sec, Lime). Ramey would not bitch about having to order a crazy shot. She’d smile, wink at Judah and throw the shot back. Ramey is kamikaze herself: wild, unpredictable and yet still firmly in control. She knows what she wants and isn’t afraid to go after it, even if the outcome could mean staring into the face of death itself. Ramey may be fun, but more importantly, she is fearless.

Sherwood Cannon- Black Russian (Vodka, Kahlua). Like his son Judah, Sherwood would choose one of the more unaltered shots, but he’d go straight for the darkest one. In age and appearance, Sherwood might be unassuming, but he’s got the temperament of a Russian mob boss and a criminal track record to back it up.

Benji Cannon- Jolly Rancher (Amaretto, Melon Liquor, Grenadine). The youngest Cannon son wouldn’t just take his hot pink shot, he’d order a round for the entire bar. Benji is the life of the party, the only uncorrupted Cannon, and he probably ordered this shot to impress some blonde sitting three stools down.

Jack O’ Lantern Austin- Red-headed Slut (Jager, Cranberry, Peach Schnapps). Though not necessarily a slut, the leader of the Scorpions outlaw motorcycle gang is definitely a red-head. He didn’t earn the nickname “Jack O’ Lantern” for nothing.

Brother Felton- Oatmeal Cookie (Baileys, Goldschlager, Butterscotch Schnapps). Poor Brother Felton. He’s spent his entire life under the domineering thumb of his Pentecostal preacher aunt and the guilt of letting a drop of alcohol pass his lips would be killing him. Still, one of his few secret vices is junk food and sweets, so he’d manage to take a few tiny sips of his Oatmeal Cookie, but only when he thinks Sister Tulah isn’t looking.

Sister Tulah- Four Horsemen (Jack, Jim, Johnny, Jose). Sister Tulah is more than a little obsessed with the apocalypse, when she isn’t busy trying to make money and control her myriad business interests, so she’d naturally gravitate towards the Four Horseman shot. She might even order a double. There would be no furtive sipping for Sister Tulah, however. She’d most likely raise the shot glass and then let it smash to the floor to prove her point about alcohol being a sin. And then she’d trample over the broken glass and exit the bar without looking back.


Lightwood- Polis Books- January 10th, 2017

Steph Post is the author of the novels Lightwood and A Tree Born Crooked. She was a bartender for years and hated making shots. She currently lives in St. Petersburg, Florida and teaches at a performing arts high school, which is a lot like bartending, except for the fun alcohol part. 

Visit her at or look her up sometime and buy her a drink.