Author Spotlight: Brent A. Harris

Today I’m crazy excited to present Brent A. Harris, author of A Time of Need: A Dark Eagle Novel. Brent and I met over Twitter (along with the Inklings Press team) close to two years ago and I couldn’t be more happy for him with his recent release.

 

Hi Brent, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks Jason! I appreciate you having me. I’m a writer of alternate history. For those of you not familiar with the genre, it’s when you take a detail from our past and change it to produce a different world than the one we know today. So far, my writings in the genre have earned me a Sidewise Award nomination for my short story Twilight of the Mesozoic Moon. And a pretty amazing review for my novel A Time of Need, from Amazing Stories.

 

How long have you been writing?

My daughter recently uncovered a story I’d written in grade school. She laughed at me.

 

What inspired you to start writing?

Can’t say for sure. I supposed it’s because I buried myself in books. Because I read a lot, I found that I expressed myself better with the written word.

 

A Time of Need Front CoverTell us a little bit about your current project. Is it a novel, short story, or something else? Is it part of a series?

A Time of Need is the first book in the Dark Eagle series. As an alternate history novel, it asks, “What if George Washington had fought for the British?” What we see is an altered path for the young nation. A land where George Washington isn’t the father of our country. In fact, the very idea of the colonists’ winning their independence hangs in the balance. You’ll have to read the book to see if those rebellious Yanks can still win.

 

What genre do you prefer to write in, if any?

I love science fiction and alternate history. But I’ve written steampunk, horror, and fantasy.

 

What authors influenced you?

Too many to list them all. Highlights include: Bradbury, Brackett (most known for penning the first draft of Empire Strikes Back), D.C. Fontana (she wrote some of my favorite Star Trek episodes), Harry Turtledove, Michael Crichton, Hemingway, Joan Didion, and so very many more.

 

What are you currently reading?

I’m reading this one book but we’re not serious. I’m reading a few others too. So long as I don’t shelve them all next to each other, I should be fine.

 

Do you write every day? A few days per week?

I typically write every day. Lately, that hasn’t happened because I had no idea how much work goes into marketing your book. I want it to be successful, I want it to sell, and that means getting out there every day and engaging with people, talking with them and making sure they know who I am. I’ve been told readers don’t read books, they read authors. Maybe the readers of your blog can tell me if that’s true or not. I’d like to think that is. I’m adorable.

 

Do you listen to music when you write? Does it influence how you write?

I MUST listen to music as I write. It affects the story, it affects my mood. It’s inspiration. I listen to Lindsey Stirling. Movie Scores. Classic Rock. 90’s Grunge. It depends on the piece I’m writing. I once wrote a story listening to Oingo Boingo’s Insanity on infinite loop. It hit the perfect chord.

 

How do you think your writing has changed from when you first started?

I’m a Masters student of Creative Writing. I enrolled in order to strengthen my writing and to meet other writers. I think we can always get better. Always improve.

 

Where can we purchase your current book? What about previous books?

A Time of Need is available online wherever books are sold: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Books A Million. Here’s a handy link: www.mybook.to/ATimeofNeed

My other short stories are available through Inklings Press, Rhetoric Askew, and Quantum Soul. My Amazon author page will take you straight to them (be sure to Follow me!): www.Amazon.com/author/BrentAHarris

 

Where can we find you online?

My website: www.brentaharris.com

Facebook: www.Facebook.com/Authorbrentaharris

Twitter: @BrentAHarris1

 

What is your favorite book and why?

Jurassic Park is my favorite book. In an alternate world, I was eaten by a dinosaur, I’m sure.

 

Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

You can read the first few chapters for free through Amazon’s Look Inside feature.

 

Any parting words for writers?

Read. Read. Read some more. Read with an eye for improving your writing. Read for fun. Read for self-enrichment. Always be reading.

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NaNoWriMo 2017

Hey friends, I wanted to formally announce that I’m participating in NaNoWriMo 2017. If you’ve followed me long, you know I’m a huge proponent of this event. If you haven’t and don’t know what I’m talking about, let me give a brief intro.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s every November and the goal is to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1st – Nov. 30th. As far as novel length goes, 50k isn’t really all that much. But for writers who’ve been struggling or needed a boost to get out there and write, NaNo is the perfect way to get at it.

Back when I wanted to pick up writing again, I used NaNo to kick start my work. I failed the first year or two and finally “won” with my book Master of the Drunken Fist. I went on for three more consecutive wins. For me, being able to finish a novel made being a writer a reality.

soul windowsThis year I’m doing a horror novel. For now, I’m titling it “Soul Windows” and have even created a pretty sweet looking cover to give myself an added incentive to finish. I plan on discussing this new novel throughout October as I lead up to Nov. 1st when I actually get to start writing it!

Anyone else interested in jumping on board? Go to the NaNoWriMo site and register. It’s free and they’ve got a ton of useful posts in the forums. If you do, add me as a writing buddy. My name there is Lailoken74. I’ve created a private Facebook group for my writer friends who want to participate in NaNo as a place to share info and encouragement. If you want in, click here.

I can’t wait to get started! I encourage you to try it if you’ve ever had the urge to write. For seasoned writers, it’s the perfect way to jumpstart a current or future project.

PennedCon 2017 Recap

Wow.

PennedCon is a well run machine thanks to the dedication of Rick and Amy Miles and a ton of volunteers.

Oh wait, what is PennedCon you ask? It’s an annual author convention which just celebrated its fourth year. It’s an event that raises money for Action for Autism by bringing together over 160 authors and readers over two days in St. Louis, MO.

Dominated by Romance authors (I think the first year it was almost exclusively for Romance authors) it is now open for all genres. I will say, if I’d gone in with only my dark short story collections, I wouldn’t have sold much. My young adult sci-fi novel “The Selection” really helped with sales over the weekend.

PennedConSwagI got to meet readers who actually read my books beforehand! For me, that’s an amazing experience. I had one twenty-something young lady (man that makes me sound old!) bring by a bound book she had created with pictures of the covers of some of the books she read of the authors there. It wasn’t like taped together or anything, but bound with a metal spiral binding. She opened it up and there was the cover to my book “Moments of Darkness.” We talked about the book and the stories and then I signed the page for her. Just floored me!

I got to meet potential new readers and sold a fair amount of books over the two days of the convention.

They also had workshops, keynote lectures, and more. At one point, Mark Coker, the CEO of Smashwords stopped at my table and I had a nice conversation with him about his service. I have one book I used Smashwords for: (Almost) Average Anthology. I used a different service for my other two books. He asked a bunch of questions as to why I tried the other services and what I thought about them. I’m not gonna lie, it felt slightly awkward telling the CEO of such a well known company why I tried his competitors. It was all good though. Later that day he sat at my table for lunch along with several other authors and we all talked a bit more.

PennedCon does an amazing job of after-hours events for VIP ticket holders and authors. We had a pajama party on Thursday night and there was a party thrown on Friday night featuring a lip synch battle. I didn’t get in on the battle, however as the night wore on, several of the guys decided to do one last song. Somehow I got roped into the group and we did a pretty funny rendition of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me.” And yes, there is video. Lots of them. 🙂 There was a casino night Saturday night, but my wife and I decided to leave after the signing room closed and made it home late that night.

JohnAndMyselfThough I didn’t sell a ton of books, I sold enough to cover my table fee. Beyond that, I got to catch up with a few author friends like Amy Hale, John Smith, Eric Asher, and more. Actually, my wife and I hung out with Amy and her husband for most of the after-hours events. I met new authors to me like John Hartness and Bess Sturgis and meeting potential readers ultimately made the event that much more enjoyable.

I’ve already booked a table for next year. Maybe I’ll see ya there!

 

 

The Dedicated Dead

What are you a fan of? Is there a television series, book series, comic, or something else that excites you like nothing else?

Just the other day, I was discussing this subject with a coworker of mine trying to figure out what I’m a big fan of.

I enjoy some of the suspected franchises. I’m a big fan of Star Wars. I’ve read several of the books, seen all the movies, been to midnight releases, and played some of the video games. I don’t collect memorabilia or create my own costumes though, and I couldn’t have an in-depth discussion on which sith lord is the most powerful and back it up with “facts” from the books or expanded universe.

I used to read comics. Judge Dredd, Batman, and the X-Men were my favorites. Still, I’d lose in any argument that requires more than surface knowledge of these characters. I enjoyed the comics, tv shows, and movies, but my level of interest only goes so far.

My entertainment interests are like a person called a “Jack of all trades, master of none.” I’ve got a great surface knowledge of most of pop culture, but the depth isn’t there. I have enough understanding to appreciate most new ventures, but lack the committed time to the deeper competency in the subjects.

However, through our discussion, I did come to the realization that I did have a pretty good knowledge of and committed interest in one brand or show: The Walking Dead.

I’ve watched the original show from the beginning. I remember when my wife and I eagerly awaited the first episode. I hadn’t read the comics before then (still have only read a few of them since) but the commercials for the show looked amazing. And zombies? Yeah, I was in! We’ve watched every episode since.

File_000 (4)I can tell you a lot about the characters on the show, their back story, their motives for what they do. I’m invested in them. When certain ones die, I’m crushed.

I own several pieces of merchandise from t-shirts to coffee mugs to pop figures. Last year my wife and I went on a trip to Savannah, GA and left a day at the end of our vacation to visit Senoia, GA where they film The Walking Dead. We spent an entire day in that little town, doing a guided walking tour, eating at Nic and Norms (a burger restaurant owned and ran by Norman Reedus, who plays Daryl on the show, and producer Greg Nicotero) and enjoying one of the coolest gift shops with a small Walking Dead museum inside.

So yeah, I guess I do have a pop culture franchise I’m all in on. What about you? What’s your guilty pleasure that you know way more than you should about? It’s ok, all are welcome to share here! Leave yours in the comments below and lets leave the judgement aside. I’m curious to know what else all of you enjoy.

Indie Thoughts

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always held a strong independence about myself. Sometimes to the detriment of others around me.

I recall distinctly when as a young skater punk wearing denim jackets with band patches sewn all over them (think Metallica, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies and more) and I had a girlfriend who had a hard time with it. She was a little embarrassed when she said “everyone’s gonna talk about you.” My reply? “Great! At least they’ll be thinking about me!” I didn’t care what they thought, just that they thought of me. Owning a small slice of space in their minds for free was awesome.

FreeNow, I didn’t go out of my way to be different, I was just being myself. If that meant denim jackets with patches, then that’s what it was. I didn’t care what anyone thought of me. I knew myself. I knew what I liked and didn’t like. I did things my way how I saw fit.

That doesn’t mean I always did the right thing. Just ask my mom or my wife about the crazy haircut I had. (If you go through my posts from August you’ll see a picture of me in a yellow shirt. That’s the haircut I clung to). I wanted to try something different and I let the style linger through my senior year in high school. Not my finest moment but then again, I did things my way. At the time I could care less what anyone thought of it. Looking at it now I can laugh, but you know, I don’t regret it. How many times do we want to try something but don’t because we let fear rule us?

My tendency to do my own thing leads me away from a lot of things too. If some book or movie or band is the newest thing, I purposely stay away from it. Call it my old punk rock spirit. Call it being non-conformist. Call it whatever, but that’s kinda my reaction to things. I still haven’t read the Harry Potter books, mostly because “everyone loved them” and my natural tendency is to steer clear of super-popular things. I’ve never watched Dr. Who because it’s expected of scifi fans. I know, it doesn’t make sense, but it is who I am.

The indie spirit, so prevalent in the music I listened to (and still do!) is alive and well within me. I’m myself. I make no apologies about it.

 

Going Full-On

I’ve written before about moments in my writing “career” where I’ve felt dejected and full of self-doubt. This is not one of those posts.

I have a strong tendency once I get past my initial doubts where I go full-on confident.

man-1902765_960_720You see, there are times when I don’t give a damn what someone else thinks. I know I will succeed. I have no doubt. I believe in myself when no one else will.

I’ve never been given anything. If I wanted it, I had to work hard for it. My family didn’t have money. I started working when i was 13 or 14 as a newspaper carrier for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, OH. I got up every morning before the sun and delivered the daily paper all along my street.

Not having money taught me to work hard, learn from my mistakes, and suck it up. I didn’t always enjoy the jobs I had, but I dealt with it and gained strength from it. Everything I gained is because of determination.

I can’t tell you how many times my stories have been rejected (Well, actually I can. My stories have accumulated 74 rejections since 2014 with only 4 acceptances). Many for good reasons. It’s ok. I know they’re good. I know they belong somewhere. So I continue sending them out.

The thing is, I can’t let those get to me. What’s the saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure?” I feel that way about my stories. They weren’t right for some places but a perfect fit for others. I gotta find that fit.

So for those who reject my stories just know, you’re gonna be part of my success. You will push me to prove you wrong. It might not be the most healthy attitude, but it keeps me focused.