CT Phipps and Dropout Nerds in Space

If you’ve read Johnny Lycan, you know that I”m a sucker for genre stuff that understands it’s genre stuff. I first came across Charles Phipps’ work through his Supervillainy Saga. It’s a hilarious but affectionate look at all the Superhero tropes we love, and also know are just damned silly. With his new series, Space Academy Dropouts, he does the same to Science Fiction. Here’s my interview with him.

So who are you and why do we care?

When the churning black ooze of the primordial soup created the enzymes that would evolve life on Earth, I was already old. Eventually, I became trapped in a human host when my cult failed the proper summoning ritual. So I am pretending to be a chubby geek from Ashland, Ky in the meantime. I own two dogs, am married, and am the world’s biggest fan of both Star Wars and Star Trek. I have multiple science fiction and fantasy series. I also review books at Booknest.EU, Grimdark Magazine, The United Federation of Charles, and the Before We Go Blog. Whoo!

What’s the book about?

Space Academy Dropouts is a delightful homage to all the sci-fi influences of my life from Star Trek to Star Wars to Mass Effect and Halo with a side order of Mel Brooks on the side. Vance Turbo, HERO OF SPACE is initially kicked out of Space Academy when he’s dragooned into a secret mission for the Interstellar Community’s security service. Unfortunately, it’s to serve as a decoy along with the worst crew in the galaxy. Events conspire to force poor Vance into doing what needs to be done even if he has to be dragged kicking and screaming to do it.

What is it about Vance that appealed to you?

Vance Turbo is my attempt to do Captain Kirk if he had the personality of William Shatner. No, just kidding. No, that’s Zapp Brannigan Poor Vance is a genius at what he does but what he does isn’t very smart. No, that’s Wolverine. Well, he’s a guy who would be a massive science fiction nerd in our world but lives in a science fiction universe so he has some advantage over his fellow cadets even though he really shouldn’t. He’s a snarky wiseass of the Harry Dresden vein but also a lot more idealistic than he lets on (or even admits to himself).

All books like this start with loving the genre, I know mine did. What are the roots of this particular story?

As mentioned, I’m a huge science fiction nerd and I feel like it’s always fun to take something familiar and put your own spin on it. In this case, I really enjoy the idea of a Deep Space Nine-esque take on a utopian scifi future. Yes, the Community is a great place to be and a massive improvement over the current world. However, you have to wonder what sort of challenges a place like the United Federation of Planets faces as well as what needs to be done to maintain such a place. Getting into that while doing all my comedy and twists was a lot of fun.

You are really active in the Urban Fantasy and Sci-fi communities. Who did this to you? Who are the authors you really enjoy?

I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, Kim Harrison, and other urban fantasy authors. For my space opera fandom, I’m a huge Jack Campbell fan and David Weber. I’m also a reader of both the Star Trek and Star Wars Expanded Universes. If I was going to recommend any indie authors, I’d recommend M.L. Spencer, Glynn Stewart, Rick Gualtieri, and Drew Hayes.

Where can we learn more about you and your work?

Goodreads:

My Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @CT_Phipps

Facebook Fan Club:

Website: https://ctphipps.com/

The Second Book in the Werewolf PI series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker is out December 8. Preorder now from my publisher, Black Rose Writing, and save 15% with the code PREORDER22.

You can also join my new Facebook Author Page for constant updates and chances to win prizes.

Of course if you haven’t yet read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, what’s keeping you. You can get it in Kindle or Paperback.

I Finally Caved and Have a Separate Facebook Page for My Writing

Ever since I started writing fiction and nonsense, I’ve been told I needed a separate Facebook page for that purpose. Until now I’ve resisted because keeping up with Social Media is freaking exhausting. Between the grind of the day job and my fiction addiction, I spend too much time tweetfacelinkblogging as it is.

But, with Johnny Lycan 2 coming out soon (December 8 to be specific, but who’s counting?) it is time to make sure I can promote my work without annoying the people on my personal Facebook page. For purely mercenary reasons, mostly so I can advertise my work, I needed to bite the bullet.

So (trumpets blare) I introduce you to my Facebook Author Page with the very clever and inventive name, Wayne Turmel Author. If you’re inclined, please like it and follow me. Over the next few months, there will be special posts, contests, and a chance to win signed copies of Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker.

Stop by, like the page, and tell your friends. If you care about my personal life, yeah, you can still follow me on my regular page, but this is my big-boy author page. Enjoy and welcome to my orbit.

An Update on Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker

Hey all. Just an update on the second book in my “Werewolf PI” series.

Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will be out on December 8. We are mere weeks from a sneak peek at the cover, but I was editing it for publication today and came across one of my favorite bits:

“Yeah, sorry. But what is that thing?”

She looked and shrugged. “It’s a Chupacabra.”

“But aren’t they-” I swallowed the sentence. I was a werewolf standing in a room ninety miles from his body, holding hands with a witch. The “those-aren’t-real” ship had sailed.…

Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker

Yup, our boy is off to Las Vegas. You’ll find more laughs, gasps, and urban fantasy adventure coming December 8 from Black Rose Writing.

Our Newest Addition to The Long- Distance Worklife Series is off to the Publisher

If you’re paying attention, you know that one reason it’s so long between novels is that my employer/co-author Kevin Eikenberry and I also write business books. In fact, today we sent the final draft of The Long-Distance Team: Designing Your Team for the Modern Workplace to our publishers at Berrett-Koehler.

Here’s the cover:

The Long-Distance Team is off to the publisher and will be out on February 28, 2023

Expect it to be available on February 28, 2023.

A Fun Interview Before I Disappear

I am going to go radio silent for a couple of weeks. The Duchess and I are fulfilling a bucket list item and going to London and Paris for our 30th Wedding Anniversary. Try to get along without me.

Before I go, I wanted to share one of the more fun interviews I’ve done lately. Who would I want cast in the Johnny Lycan movie? What books corrupted me? You can learn all about it here. Thank you James Quinlan Meservy

When I return I hope I’ll have an interview or two to post, and maybe even a sneak preview of the cover for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker. Be good to each other, read something, buy a book and leave a review.

See ya.

I Made Someone Cry on Zoom. Hooray.

Normally if you make someone cry, it’s because you’re a terrible human being and have done something awful to that person. Last week I made a couple of people tear up and got a couple of audible sobs. It felt great. Like really good. Yay me.

Okay, this probably requires some explanation.

As a writer, we hope to elicit emotional responses from our readers. We want them to laugh, gasp, get excited, or otherwise go on the emotional journey our characters are on. Is Lucca going to survive? Will Johnny beat the bear-shifter and make it out of Las Vegas (plug for book 2 there. Pay attention.) The problem is that the very fact they are reading means we aren’t with them when they consume our product.

Most of you know, and are tired of me saying, that I spent over 15 years as a standup comedian. For anyone who has ever stood on a stage, you understand the addicting nature of that art form. You write something, perform it in front of a live audience, and get an immediate response. Hopefully, they laugh. Maybe they chuckle, but not the roar you expected, so you need to tinker with that joke in the future. Maybe they get up and slap you on national television. Either way, there’s instant feedback on if that piece was any good or not.

Me in my glory days. You can actually watch this performance on “Evening at the Improv.” It’s on Amazon but it’ll cost you 99 cents.

I would give credit if I knew who said it, but somebody once wrote that “writing novels is like telling a joke and waiting a year for the laugh.” It’s true. While I hope my audience responds to what I create, you seldom really know. Maybe you get a good review. Once in a blue moon, I get an email or Twitter message from someone who enjoyed my work. (I can’t suggest doing this strongly enough. On any given day a writer may need validation. Trust me.) Mostly, I topple the tree in the forest and hope someone hears it fall.

So what happened the other day? How did I make someone cry and enjoy it?

This year’s issue contains “A Simple Purse.”

A few months ago, I channeled one of the saddest moments of my life into a Flash Fiction Piece called, “A Simple Purse.” It meant a lot to me. In the interest of transparency, it captures a moment more than 35 years ago when my mother passed away. I watched my father have to clean out her handbag for the last time. It’s the only time during that ordeal I ever saw him lose it. I’ve waited all this time for a way to tell that story and do it justice.

The piece got rejection after rejection, and I thought I was the only one who was moved by it. Finally, it was picked up by 300 Days of Sun, a litmag at Nevada State College. (Go Scorpions) Okay, not the Paris Review, but maybe someone actually liked my sad little tale. That brings us to Tuesday night.

To launch the 2022 edition of the publication, I was invited to read on a Zoom call with over a dozen talented writers (mostly poets, which is intimdating as hell. Anything more complex than a dirty limerick is outside my wheelhouse.)

The reading was in alphabetical order. When your first name is a “W” and last name is a “T” you’re used to waiting your turn. I was blessed to hear some very moving, creative, and angst-ridden work. Then it was my turn.

It was a Zoom call, not a typical literary event. I was looking at a bunch of tiny boxes with faces in them. I ignored them and began reading my story from a piece of paper in front of me. Out my voice went into the void, and it was met with silence, as expected. Then I heard something unexpected.

Everyone was supposed to have their microphones muted, but I heard a distinctly audible sniff. Then another one. I looked at the screen and saw two people wiping their eyes, and they weren’t the sniffers. There was a long pause.

Then Heather, the Editor and Faculty Advisor (blessings upon all who take that job on, especially in schools) thanked me. She also told me a little about how the staff reacted when reading my submission, and how they’d hoped my story wouldn’t get picked up anywhere else so they could publish it.

My little flash story, which I doubted anyone else would understand, made grown-ass people cry. 565 of my words moved them.

This may sound ridiculous, but this was one of the most validating moments of my writing career. I have published a lot of work in my time, and most of it just goes out into the void. An unpaid piece in an obscure literary magazine I only found through Submittable reminded me my words matter. They can move people. They are important to someone besides me.

Support your local lit mags and the writers who contribute to them. Let people know you like their work. Just saying.

Blurb Begging and Advance Word for Johnny Lycan & the Vegas Berserker

One of the more humbling parts of the publishing process is where I find myself today: seeking those illusive “blurbs” for the cover. You know what I’m talking about: “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Wicked…” some author slightly better known than the author of the book you’re looking at.

Basically you’re creating the illusion of brilliance by association.

For the uninitiated, this is how it works. You think of someone who meets your criteria: They have to be someone you think will like the book. They have to be willing to read your imperfect baby even though it’s not formatted or finally proofed yet. Ideally, they are a known quantity so that the audience will say, “Hey, I’m a fan of John Wing, (or Sarah Tasz or Gemma Clatworthy or whoever) and if he/she liked it, I will too.”

I have been blessed to have an ever-expanding network of writers whose work I enjoy and have shared with you here. That’s where I went first.

Well, as I wait for the cover of the latest book, I have been sending out copies of Johnny Lycan & the Vegas Berserker and holding my breath. The results are trickling in and I’m happy to report people really enjoy it.

The first book in the Johnny Lycan, Werewolf PI series. Book 2 is out December 8, 2022

“Compelling characters, fast-paced action, magic crystals, and a berserker. It’s Johnny Lupul in Vegas baby!  As always, Wayne Turmel has created a compulsively readable action-packed story with a unique take on the werewolf mythos. An enjoyable read and I can’t wait for the next installment!” G Clatworthy, author of the Rise of the Dragons series

“Johnny Lycan and the Las Vegas Berserker is a riveting Sin City romp like I’ve never seen before. Aliens, covens, and magic of all stripes rocket across every page, with the reader (and sometimes Johnny too) holding on for dear life. Harry Dresden better watch his back–Johnny Lycan is the snarky, shapeshifting badass you’ve been waiting for.”S.G. Tasz, author of the Dead Mall series

“Get a flashlight, because you’ll be reading The Vegas Berserker well into the night. Johnny’s world is full of mischief, mayhem, and magic—excuse me, magick—and I can’t wait to read more.” —Luke Swanson, author of Spectators of War and The Other Hamlet Brother

“The stakes are high — life and death high — as werewolf private detective Johnny Lupul goes to Las Vegas to take custody of a mysterious ancient artifact. It’s a full moon, and the fur is about to fly!”  Jill Hand, author of the Trapnell Thrillers, White Oaks and Black Willows

“I loved this book. A rollicking, clever ride with a story so good you forget it’s a genre novel. If Jack Reacher was a werewolf, he’d be Johnny Lycan.”John Wing Jr, Comedian and author of A Car to Die For.

Can’t wait to see how these look on a cover. Hell, can’t wait to see the cover. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, what the #@$%@#$% are you waiting for?

The Chapter Goddess- Madilynn Dale

One of the advantages of trying to schlep your own work, is you run into other authors. In this case, I had the honor of being interviewed by Madilynn Dale for her ChapterGoddess site. We had a blast, but I thought it was only fair that I give you all a chance to meet this prolific author. YOU CAN WATCH MY VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH HER HERE

Okay, lady. Tell us about you.

Hello, I’m Madilynn Dale. It’s a pleasure to chat with you all. I’m a mom first and foremost and a creative second. I tend to dabble in a various number of things from writing, painting, to drawing, but my stories are my strongest point. Sometimes I think my 4-year-old son does a better job drawing than I do but at least I tried right?

When I write I don’t stick with one genre but span many. I like things more on the steamy side, but I create work in the genres of paranormal, fantasy, romance, and adventure. On top of all the creative stuff I’m also a Physical Therapy Assistant here in my home state of Oklahoma. I’ve kind of put that career on pause though to focus on my writing and being a mom. We live in quite a crazy time after all.

I’m also a huge reader and coffee addict. I love wine too but that’s only for the evenings. I read a wide range of books I am a mood reader though so if I’m in the middle of something and it loses my attention because of a sour mood, I put it aside and come back to it.

Tell us about your latest book, Black Flames.

I have several books published which you can find on my website www.thechaptergoddess.com but I want to really focus on my latest release Black Flames. This is the first novel in the Ember trilogy which I plan to release all this year, 2022. It’s an empowering story following young Ember as she discovers herself, breaks free of her shackles, and embraces herself. She finds love along the way and must escape hell. Literally. Her life is basically turned upside down after she discovered her mother’s one night stand with the devil.  

Here is the actual synopsis for those who are curious. 😉

Ember believes she’s a latent wolf until she finds herself facing a demon using hellfire. The black flames trigger something within her and the world as she knows it is dumped on its head. Has her entire life been nothing but a lie?

Tied to the future Alpha via contract, she seeks an escape to find her true mate. Confused by the emotions surrounding her discovery, she sacrifices herself to save her pack and is taken to hell. With a false engagement and memories erased, she finds herself part of a larger plan. Can she fulfill her role and manage to return home without her secret being discovered?

I know you’re prolific, and right now you’re in the middle of a shifter series (and why don’t shifters in urban fantasy ever have chest hair, but that’s a different story.) What are the roots of your series?

In creating Ember, I found that I channeled a lot of my younger self. Her drive and determination to be a badass without falling apart is something I struggled with at a younger age in college. Of course, I obviously can’t fight like she can, nor do I have any of her powers, but she must find a way to overcome the oppressive requests placed on her by her parents and other authorities to find herself and live the life she wants. I feel like I had to go through a version of that myself and really a lot of us do. I loved creating situations where she had to deal with her emotions and take the higher road. It’s something even at my age I struggle with. I hope she inspires others.

Now her magic, which is the ability to change into a certain animal of hell and use fire, was something of a darker twist on my favorite type of beings. Shifters are something I’ve always found myself drawn to. They are a bit different from were animals in that they turn into bigger versions of the actual animal. At least that is how I portray it in my work. The fire is something I feel like if I had a power, it would be to use fire. Something about the way flames dance in the hearth during the winter calms me and usually puts me to sleep but fire can also be extremely destructive.

Indie publishing has so many successful writers that those who don’t read ebooks, particularly, never heard of. Who do you read?

There are so many authors that I have enjoyed reading over the years. Only a few really stick out though and several of them helped inspire my writing. Ivy Asher, Sarah J Maas, Deborah Harkness, C. L. Schneider, Jaymin Eve, P.C. Cast, Kaylana Price, Tarriona Tank Ball, Cassandra Claire, Jennifer L Armentrout, Ivy Smoak and Andrzej Sapkowski. These authors all write in romance, fantasy, adventure, urban fantasy, paranormal, poetry, and more. I love how unique their work is and how easy it is to escape into their work.

Your social media game is strong, and I”m jealous (but I would stroke out trying to do everything you do.)

  • twitter, Facebook author page, website etc.

I am a bit all over the place really. The easiest place to find links to my books is on my website. The majority of my stuff is published wide so you can pick your favorite book site there.

Website: www.thechaptergoddess.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Madi_Dale_Write

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/madilynndalewrites/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MadilynnDaleAuthor

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/mratdegraff91/_created/

TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@mdwriter?lang=en

BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/madilynn-dale

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20150515.Madilynn_Dale

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Madilynn-Dale/e/B0868CGSLC?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2&qid=1616000125&sr=8-2

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCG8uZRvQC4o_dqwkqJy9Wgg

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/madilynn-dale-5a810a223/

The second book in the Johnny Lycan series is coming out on December 8. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, will be coming from Black Rose Writing. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.



Witches and Villains with Isra Sravenheart

I believe one of the most important concepts in writing fiction is that the success of a story depends on the villain. Johnny Lycan would be a weird little adventure story without Kozlov. But good antagonists have a reason for being all villain-y. Some writers dig deep into that.

Enter Isra Sravenheart. Her books are full of witches, demons, warlocks, and others who have perfectly good reasons for doing what they do. I recently met her in the Fantasy/Sci-Fi Focus Facebook group. We also appeared on the same YouTube interview with Opus Knight recently.

Isra, tell us about yourself.

Hi. I am Isra Sravenheart, a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author. I first found success with my book Her Dark Soul in 2017 which is book 1 in my Dark Spell series. Of which I am currently promoting the boxed set of 1-4 in the series. I am very much an introvert at heart living with my four cats who are sassy as they deem themselves to be. I’m also an avid binge-watcher of fantasy and paranormal shows such as Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Buffy Angel. I also am releasing my first PNR book this May “Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil” an interesting tale about young lone witch Sabine who has faced a break-up and now founds herself entangled with two vampires.

There’s a lot going on there. Tell me about your series.

Dark Spell series is a dark fantasy series featuring witches and warlocks. It’s an epic vivid world that I created with angels, demons, unicorns, dragons, light-bringers and I mainly focus on the aspect of villains and their POV. It spans eight books and mainly follows Isra and Astrid in their journey however things are not as clear cut as they seem. Don’t judge someone because nothing is what it seems. The good guys might look cute on the outset but they have their own tale of darkness to tell.

It has been compared to Grimms and Disney by many of its readers however it has a dark tone and focuses on aspects such as betrayal, forbidden love, unrequited love and dealing with one’s own personal demons (darkness.)

What are the roots of the story? Where does all this come from?

I love exploring a villain’s POV and while we’re not justifying what they did and we know it’s bad, we can understand the root of the character so at least their actions become understandable, Not everyone is born bad. There has to be a good reason. What makes people tick? I look at the ins and outs of the whole emotionally dragged-out mess, whilst not condemning them for it because everyone has their own reasons for being a certain way. It’s been a fun series to write and I love how there has been such a wide range of characters and eccentric personalities. My fave characters to write are Astrid and Samuel the light-bringer. He is off his rocker, to quote my editor Jody Freeman. 

Who hurt you like this? Who are the authors who influenced you?

Neil Gaiman. Gregory Maguire, L Frank Baum, Phillip Pullman. lots of dark fantasy vibes here. That;s kinda my jam and read most of these when I was young especially the oz and Wicked series. 

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Goodreads, Amazon links, twitter, Facebook author page, website etc. Everything is nicely situated on my linktree including the boxed set review copies pinned to top, boxed set 1-4 buy page and my reader magnet for dark spell series https://linktr.ee/israsravenheart

The second book in the Johnny Lycan series is coming out on December 8. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, will be coming from Black Rose Writing. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.

A Cop, a Chase, and an Earthquake- Luke Swanson

One thing about being with a publisher like Black Rose Writing, rather than publishing myself, is that you become a community and get introduced to plenty of other writers. One such person is Oklahoma author Luke Swanson. I got a chance to read his new thriller, Epicenter, and thought it would be great for you all to meet him as well.

Luke, what’s your deal?

My name is Luke Swanson, and I’m a fledgling author from Oklahoma City. I currently have three books published—a mystery, an action thriller, and a tragi-comedy—with a fourth coming in July. If I had an agent, they would tell me, “Write a consistent genre, you dolt!” But I don’t, so I do what I want.

I feel you. Moving from historical fiction to urban fantasy was hardly a career move. What’s your latest novel, Epicenter, about?

Epicenter is a standalone sequel to my first book, The Ten, which is a murder mystery. Epicenter shifts into full-on action mode—I’ve had a reviewer describe it as a Die Hard movie, which is high praise (as long as they’re talking about 1, 3, or 4). On a hot day in Los Angeles, Detective Jason Flynn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He needs to keep a witness and a hostage safe as a brutal cartel is gunning for them all. And on top of that…the “Big One” hits. The worst earthquake in US history rocks the city, and Jason and his reluctant allies need to survive.

As someone whose life got upended by the Northridge quake, I thought that was a great twist, and you caught some of the chaos that would naturally follow while just trying to do your darned job. Where did the idea come from?

I love Jason Flynn, who I created as a lead in The Ten. I could have made a continuing crime series with Jason solving a murder every week, but I didn’t feel I would do very well in that space. Michael Connelly and others have already mastered that genre. Thus, I took Jason and tossed him into an action movie. Epicenter specifically came from a few daydreams. For one, I wanted to put Jason through the wringer. In this story, he has the worst day imaginable, and his character arc reflects that. Also, I was inspired by the breakneck pace of Mad Max: Fury Road, as odd as that might sound. There’s no stopping for a breath, there’s only survival. I loved that idea. Being from OKC, I also am constantly toying with the idea of a mystery set during a tornado…and since Jason lives in LA, I transposed that obstacle onto him, with an earthquake.

What inspired you to be a writer?

 I’ve always been a huge reader, and the idea that someone somewhere someday might be inspired by a book I’ve written is what motivated me to put words onto a dauntingly blank page. I love stories, and I hope to share that love with my readers.

Who did you read as a kid that inspired (or corrupted) you?

As a young reader, my bread and butter was the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz…and as a modern reader too, since I still keep up with that series. I love Steven James’s thrillers too.

How can people contact you or learn more about your work?

You can follow or reach out to me on Instagram! I’m fairly reachable, and I’d love to chat with readers. You can also follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and Letterboxd to see what I’m watching—after all, the media one consumes tells you a lot about them.

Speaking of Black Rose, the second in the Johnny Lycan series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, is coming out on December 8. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.