Thursday, August 29, 2013

Feature Interview: Author Jay Wilburn


Author Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn is a public school teacher who left his job to care for his younger son and to be a full-time writer. He resides in Conway, South Carolina with his wife and two sons, where he stalks the beaches like some goatee bearded swamp monster waiting for his next victim. Okay, that last part may be a bit of an exaggeration. He was featured in Best Horror of the Year Vol. 5 with editor Ellen Datlow. He was a featured author with Hazardous Press at the 2013 World Horror Convention and a panelist on RULES OF THE GENRE, is a columnist for Dark Eclipse and for Revolt Daily, and his books Loose Ends: A Zombie Novel and Time Eaters are available through Amazon.com.
Karma Girl: Before we begin I have to ask, did you read my last interview with Paul Flewitt?
Jay Wilburn: Yes, but I've read several recently, so it is not fresh in my mind.
KG:  (Steeples fingers with evil intent) Excellent! Okay, let's begin. Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
Jay: My name is Jay Wilburn. I taught public school for sixteen years and then quit. I stay home with my kids and write full time. I also occasionally fly or drive to others cities for conventions and book debuts. I live in the swamps of coastal South Carolina and watch the tourists from the shadows. I have two published novels LOOSE ENDS and TIME EATERS along with several short stories scattered across the globe.
KG: You watch tourists from the shadows? Like Swamp Thing?
Jay: Well, I actually drive down to the beach with my kids and we play in the sand or go to the aquarium. But there are shadows there too.
KG: Fair enough. You said you taught public school for sixteen years. What subject did you teach and how did you escape with your sanity intact?
Jay: I was certified in all four academics, so I was sort of the utility player for my schools. I've taught every subject from grades four through eight at least once. I figured out how to please parents, students, and administration, so I stayed out of trouble and was well respected. When my son became sick, I volunteered to stay home with him. I was done killing my soul one class period at a time.
KG: You left your job to take care of your son? May I ask what happened to him?

Jay: He was having trouble with seizures. This isn't uncommon with babies, but he kept having them. My wife and I burned all our sick days, so we were losing money every time one of us had to stay home. It came down to not wanting to put him on medicine if we could help it. I stayed home to try to help it and I think he may have outgrown them finally.

KG: I think you may have become my new hero. Now that you don't have to take care of public school hell spawn for a living, do you find your writing has become more productive than ever or do you suffer from POD (Procrastinators Obsessive Disorder)? Symptoms include: Taking an interest in housework where there was no interest before; Addiction to computer games and social media (cough, Candy Crush Saga, sputter, facebook); Suddenly remembering your wife's birthday/anniversary/"Damn my woman's hot and I really need a break from all this writing, so let's just make something up, shall we?"

Jay: I'm fairly prolific as a writer. As soon as I complete, edit, and send one short story, I immediately open a word document and type the first lines or paragraphs of the next story. It keeps me moving. Writing is still a "between life" activity whether I was giving up sleep to write on school nights or writing between changing diapers and picking up the older one from school. That's just the nature of it. I still do all those life things and neglect things to write like I did before. Full time writer is a job and you have to drive yourself to make progress even when you do feel passionate about it.

KG: I suddenly feel like the laziest creature on Earth. Thank you for that.

What got you into writing? Has it been a life long interest or did you get your start by writing porn to pay off a debt owed to the Cajun mafia? Not that that's ever happened to anyone I know...

Jay: I started writing when I was really young. I started on notebook paper imitating fantasy and sci-fi stories I had read. I seldom finished and would let no one read them. I played with the art from time to time over the years. I got serious about publishing writing a few years ago mostly writing zombie stuff. From there, I honed the craft the way only publishing can do and it consumed my life from there.

KG: A fellow zombie lover. Nice! Is that your main thing or have you experimented with other genres?

Best Horror of the Year, Vol. 5
Jay: I'm probably a zombie writer at my core. I write everything I can try to build my tool box. In terms of numbers, I've been paid more for sci fi and steampunk stories, but my cumulative mass of my horror writing is starting to catch up in financial measures. I think all of this has made me a better zombie writer. I got a zombie story picked for BEST HORROR OF THE YEAR VOL 5 and a zombie story included in THE BEST OF DARK MOON DIGEST. I'll always be a zombie writer and an advocate for that genre.

KG: Speaking of steampunk, I read your story "Super Dome" in the anthology NEW ORLEANS BY GASLIGHT. It was an excellent read. Was this a little piece of commentary regarding what happened in New Orleans during Katrina?

New Olreans by Gaslight
Jay: Yes, I try to make even my lightest stories mean something. I don't try to preach a political view onto anyone. My goal is for stories to reflect truth without imposing a preset opinion. I think that story is a good example. With it being an alternate world set up by that excellent anthology, it allowed me to superimpose the details of the real life event over the fictional story. I believe the characters' reactions were honest, but the reader is allowed to draw conclusions how they see fit.

KG: I can't speak for other southern Louisianans but I have to admit, I kind of felt Constable Gravette made an excellent observation at the end of the story.

Can you tell us about your current WIP (Work(s) In Progress)?

Time Eaters
Jay: I'm working on the novella CONVINCED for a shared collection with the Dark and Bookish tour and documentary authors. It will be out in a few months as AT THE NEXT EXIT. I'm working on a co-authored YA steampunk novel that is going very well. I'm teamed with Stan Swanson on that one. I'm going to be at WorldCon in San Antonio for the debut of TIME EATERS, so I'm excited about that too.

KG: What do find is the hardest part of writing? Besides beating your muse into submission and stuffing their hogtied bodies in the back of your closet? Again, not that that's happened to anyone I know...(insert sneaky eyes here)

Jay: Trying to be better than I am. The myth I choose to believe about myself is that I am pretty good with moments of greatness. This myth whether true or not allows me to strive for and occasionally achieve greatness. I learn things I'm doing wrong and I struggle to improve those things while trying to keep the raw, risky edge that make my writing great at moments. This is a tough balance for me.

KG: So, not ropes and ball gags? Le sigh.

Jay: Just laptops and post-it notes mostly.

KG: Oh well.

Now we've come to the portion of the interview that I like to call: The Serious Three. I'm going to ask you three incredibly serious questions and I want your honest answer. Are you ready sir?

Jay: Yes ... no, but yes. Go.

KG: Serious Question #1: What are your hopes, your dreams, interesting nightmares that don't involve clowns, spiders, or Ben Affleck morphing into a nipple suit wearing Batman?

Jay: I have a shortened lifespan due to my own health issues. I want to make something that outlasts me with words and stories. I'm haunted by this drive to create.

KG: That's one dream I certainly hope you achieve.

Jay: I appreciate it.

KG: Serious Question #2: Do you have any tips for other writers besides telling them to look both ways before crossing the street and not accepting wooden nickels?

Jay: Write what you love, but also try things outside your comfort zone. Write other genres with the intent of submitting the stories so you know you are serious. It will make the genres you love better and different than everyone else doing them.

KG: Serious Question #3: Where can readers stalk you online or otherwise?

Jay: @AmongTheZombies on Twitter. www.JayWilburn.com

KG: I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for you. Especially when the zombie apocalypse goes down. I think we'll all be needing your expertise.

Jay: You'll find me hiding in the swampy shadows. Thanks. This was fun.

KG: No, thank you!

Interested in an interview? Need more exposure for your book/art/business? Just want to have wacky fun with the Karma Girl? Send me an email at karmagrl31276@gmail.com to make all your dreams come true...not the dirty ones, you pervy bastards.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Insomnia, Wizard Vans, and Why Modern Women Read “50 Shades of Grey”


Re-blogged from Kristen Lamb's site
I’ve learned the hard way never to put down a book before I’ve at least read the first chapter. That said, I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey and have no intention of doing so in the foreseeable future. Kristen Lamb, author of the #1 best-selling books We Are Not AloneThe Writer’s Guide to Social Media and Are You There, Blog? It’s Me, Writer, has an interesting—and humorous—take on why these books are so popular with modern women.

Read the article here.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Never Leave Your Date Waiting...Unless You're Mad at Him and Your Aunt Owns a Shotgun

Here's another sneak peek of Mercy 2. Proof positive that, yes, I haven't totally been goofing off on facebook:


I was halfway down the stairway when Adam came for me. He wasn't calling me, but I knew it was him before Aunt Lottie answered the door. I could sense my Woogie's arrival like a dumb dog senses its idiot master has come home. He was standing on the front porch, tugging at the bow tie of his tux, and looking as nervous as a delinquent teenaged prom date. I was surprised that he would show up to pick me up personally, but not half as surprised as he was when Lolita opened the door, aimed her shotgun at his chest, and let him have it with both barrels. I cringed as Adam was propelled backward into the front yard. He was lying on the ground, his cummerbund ripped to bloody shreds. Too bad really. He had looked down right delicious in that tux.

"Good evening Mrs. Warren. Nice to see you again Mrs. Warren," Adam groaned.

"Good evening to you too Mr. Worth! How are you finding yourself this fine night?"

Aunt Lottie gave him the smile she reserved for politicians and Jehovah's Witnesses while reloading the shotgun. Adam spat out a mixture of blood and buckshot. I rolled my eyes.

"You know that won't kill him right?" I said padding over to her.

She looked me up and down, frowning. "What happened to your gown?"

I glanced down at my ugly green thrift store coat, grey Sonic Youth t-shirt, and black denim skirt. After a few moments of intense internal debate, I had decided to nix the gown and scrub off the makeup. If I was being forced to attend a party full of evil dead, I was going as myself. If Horatio didn't like it, he'd just have to suck it up. Hopefully not literally.

"The shoes pinched and the dress didn't go with my Doc Martins," I said shrugging. I smiled when she raised an eyebrow at that. "I'm wearing a skirt though. That's progress, right?"

Aunt Lottie shook her head and sighed.

Keeping a wary eye on the shotgun, Adam slowly got to his feet. He was rubbing his chest like he had a bad case of indigestion.

"I've been shot by one of those before and it never hurt like this," he said, spitting up more bloody buckshot. "Why does it burn so much?"

"Do you have any idea how long it takes to scratch spell runes into every single pellet in a shotgun shell?"

Adam shook his head mutely.

"It damn near took me all day to do the entire box!"

"You have more?"

Aunt Lottie nodded.

"I'm sorry?"

"Not half as sorry as you're going to be if anything untoward happens to my niece tonight," she said, the smile hardening on her lips. "And if you ever force my girl here to come to you naked in the pouring rain again, my aim will be lower. Do we understand each other?"

"In my defense, ma'am, she wasn't entirely naked. All the important bits were cov-"

Aunt Lottie pumped the shotgun, aiming the barrel at his crotch. Adam took a step back, utilizing that universal gesture men use when their manhood is in critical danger of being separated from the rest of their body.

"Point taken, ma'am. Hear ya loud and clear."

She lowered the weapon and smiled sweetly. "I knew we'd see eye to eye on this."

When she turned to me, her expression went deadly serious.

"Take care of yourself out there. You find yourself in trouble, you be sure to call me, you hear?"

I nodded and gave her a fierce hug before joining Adam.

"What the hell are you wearing that for? We talked about this Mercy. You look ridiculous," he said as we made our way to the Limo.
This was proceeded by the sound of the shotgun being pumped once again causing Adam to sprint to the waiting car and putting an end to any further discussion regarding my unconventional fashion choices.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Feature Author: Paul Flewitt


Author, Paul Flewitt
Thought I'd give author interviewing a try. If I get through this without causing emotional trauma or getting sued, I might make this a monthly thing. If you are an author, illustrator, or just do something extremely cool (like moonlighting as a ninja) and you're looking for a blog interview, please PM me through my Facebook page here and we'll work something out.

Paul Flewitt is a writer and author of the upcoming novel Poor Jeffrey and contributing author of the newly released horror anthology All That Remains, published by J Ellington Ashton Press, edited by Catt Dahman. The anthology is available through Amazon.com. Paul has graciously agreed to be my first victim...I mean, interviewee.

Karma Girl: Before we start, let me inform you of your rights: You have the right to remain silent, though this would be counterintuitive for our interviewing purposes. I suppose you have a right to a lawyer too, but I don't plan to libel you in any
way and even if I did, I have no money. Suing is not much of an option. You have the right to be as serious as you want as long as you realize I'm a bit of a silly pants when it comes to this kind of stuff. Do you understand each of these rights as they have been told to you?

Paul: Yeah... but can I consult the demon on my shoulder before replying to your questions?

KG: Sure. Why not? He's probably acquainted with mine anyway. So, first question: Can you tell my readers a little about yourself and your background? Where did you study? Did you focus in writing or something else? And did you annoy your teachers as much as I annoyed mine?

Paul: Well...my name is Paul Flewitt, I'm a horror writer from Sheffield, UK. I'm a family man and write when I can between the kids and other life stuff. I didn't do the college/uni thing. I went out to work and wrote in my spare time. I gave up on school when I was 14. A teacher told me it wasn't doing me any good so I left. Did I annoy my teachers? A report which always sticks with me was from a form tutor who said "Paul is an enigma around school"...I liked that.

KG: Enigma as in "He's a super genius plotting to take over the world," type thing or "odd and mildly disturbing" or both?

Paul: Probably/possibly a bit of both if I think back to the kind of kid I probably was.

All That Remains
KG: Cool. So, what have you written and where can we buy your work? Will ID or parental approval be required? That last question is a lot more serious than you think. I had no idea Smashwords had an adult filter until I published through them.

Paul: No ID required. Currently I have a short story in JEA's All That Remains anthology and that will be followed very soon by my first novella, Poor Jeffrey, which is coming soon to Amazon.

KG: Can you tell us what they're about?

Paul: My short story is called "Paradise Park" and centers around a girl called Casey... she goes on a normal, family holiday to a place advertised as some kind of heaven. But it harbours a dark secret. Poor Jeffrey is a coming of age zombie horror with a twist, in that the zombie isn't the bad guy. It answers the question "What can go wrong with magic?"
Poor Jeffrey

KG: Sounds interesting. I'm a fan of the zombie genre myself. Is horror your main thing or have you ever considered branching out into other genres? If so what kind?

Paul: I always consider myself a dark fantasy writer, horror is a genre that I enjoy a lot. Most of the writers I look up to are pretty dark, so I suppose it's no real surprise that my writing is pretty dark too. I do like to experiment, though. So soon you may see an erotic horror story with my name alongside that of Scarlett Metal, a good friend of mine and writer of erotica.

KG: Are you two planning a collaboration of some kind?

Paul: Yes we are...in our spare time.

KG: Well, I know I'll be looking out for that. What made you decide to sit down and put words to paper? Why did you become a writer and what themes if any do you like to relay to your readers?

Paul: I suppose I started writing because of my Dad. He used to write poetry when I was young and always encouraged reading. There were always books around the house. The first time I consciously remember writing was one night he was trying to compose a poem, I kept bugging him so he gave me a pen and some paper to write my own. So I did. Again and again. From poetry to story writing isn't a great leap, I guess. I decided to put my stories out this year because I wasn't working and was struggling to find a job. I had the time to write properly for the first time since school and so I did. People thought my stories were good and so here I am. Themes I like are pretty much anything that I might find creepy or interesting...that's the foundation. Other than that I don't go into a project with a preconceived idea as to a particular message. I just would like to be known as writing a nice tale.

KG: Interesting. Now on to the more serious questions. You're British so maybe you can help me out with this one: Hugh Laurie's accent. What's up with that? I heard his real accent for the first time in a TV interview and I was all freaked out.

Paul: Hugh Laurie is the most amazing actor, isn't he? I would advise you try and catch Jeeves and Wooster, based on PG Wodehouse. Its classic comedy.

KG: Oh, I will British guy. I will. Next serious question: Have you ever met Terry Pratchett and was he as awesome as I know he must be? Also what is your favorite spoon? If you've never read his Discworld series, disregard that last question.

Paul: You know, I haven't met Terry Pratchett, and I've never read his books either. It's strange because I always go into a bookstore with the intention of buying something of his, and walk out with something totally different. I've seen The Hogfather and Going Postal on TV and they were amazing! Note to self...seek out Mr. Pratchett.

KG: I'll try not to hold that against you, Paul. (insert suspicious glower here) Last question: Where can my readers find out more about you and your work? Facebook, twitter, blog links, etc.?

Paul: My facebook author page is here...https://wwwfacebook.com/pages/My-Storytrees-Leaves/352745188170046. My twitter is @PaulFlewittJEA...I run both myself...so it is really me behind the pixels.

KG: Cool! Good luck with your writing and thank you for not only taking the time to take part in this interview, but also for putting up with my silly questions with that stiff upper lip mentality you wonderful Brits are known and loved for!

Paul: I've smiled through all of it...the clich├ęs really don't count in my case. :) Thanks for having me, its been fun!


Indeed Paul. Indeed. (Insert monocle here)

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Pink Slips and Caffeine Withdrawal


Have you ever had a day where the bad just kept piling up until it made you wonder if you were born to be some cosmic toilet for a being with diarrhea because the universe just kept crapping on you and wouldn't stop? Yes, that was the day I just had. I realize I'm being overdramatic, but really I could use a drink. Only I can't. Because that would be too damn easy, wouldn't it?

I woke up with a bladder infection. I had felt it coming on the day before, had rushed to Walgreens to buy as much Azo, cranberry juice, and water I could carry, and had convinced a relative to spot me some Amoxicillin. Yes, I should have gone to the doctor to get a prescription. Yes, I know it is "wrong" and possibly "dangerous" to bum medication not prescribed to me. Unfortunately, I don't have this thing called "medical insurance" so don't judge.

This relative (who, just in case one of my readers is a no good narc, I shall call...Shammy) told me I could pick up the goods...I mean, Amoxicillin...at her house in the morning, on my way to work. Which is to say that I was working on a day my bladder felt like it was apt to explode every five seconds. Because we only had one other massage therapist working on a Saturday. Because I'm nice like that...(i.e., stupid). The first thing Shammy does when I walk in the door is offer me coffee. Do you want to know what my all time favorite drink in the world is? Guess. Yeah, it's coffee. Do you know the worst possible thing to drink when you have a bladder infection? If you said caffeine, you're correct once again. Do you know what happens when you give up coffee when you drink a pot a day every day for most of your life? It's a little thing called caffeine withdrawal. The most common symptoms are headache, drowsiness, fatigue, and the attitude of a overgrown grizzly on its menstrual cycle.

Don't worry. I didn't decapitated her. She's my pusher. And I love her.

We got to talking about both of my jobs. My boss at the New Orleans spa wants me full time, but I had been trying to hold off on that until I could find a replacement at the other spa I worked at on the Westbank. They were already down to one full time massage therapist and were having financial difficulties. I didn't want to leave them in a bind. Because I'm nice like that (i.e., really, really stupid). Imagine my surprise when I get a call from my boss later in the morning telling me this would be my last day. No, I hadn't been fired...exactly. The spa was closing. The owners were going to try to convince the building superintendents to allow them to stay open until the end of next week since we still had clients on the books, but chances were good this would be my last day. She would mail my last check to me. Did I mention she lives in Georgia? One of the many reasons the spa was failing in the first place was that the one owner that actually gave a crap about the business could no longer afford to live in Louisiana, had moved to be closer to her family, but had still kept an eye on things and even took care of payroll. She thanked me for sticking it out this far, and hung up, probably to go off somewhere to sob or something.

I was planning to leave anyway, and really, I had seen this coming. But the fact that the other owner wasn't there to tell me himself, had left it to a woman that doesn't even live in the state anymore, had decided to go on VACATION while this was going down without giving us any notice at all when I was biting my nails worrying how I was going to find a replacement to get my other boss off my back...it was galling. It was a slap in the face. It made me want to go out a drink away my sorrows, cry in my Abita Strawberry flavored beer while sad country music played on jukebox somewhere. Only I couldn't. Because I had a bladder infection.

And yes, I did work the rest of the day. Because I'm stupid.

*Author's Note: It turned out, my anger was misplaced. The partner who was on vacation hadn't been told about the closing until he had already left, and the landlord had contacted the partner in Georgia first. The guy got into some trouble over some online gift certificates, which also turned out not to be his fault since the things were stuck in online limbo. Still a suck day, but I had no right to rant at the guy, especially since I had another job to fall back on and not a ton of debt and a bankruptcy in my future. I'm totally sorry, Randal, and I hope things work out for you.