Reader’s Retreat: 4 Questions for Jackie Gamber and H.David Blalock Round 3

Gamber and Blalock Blog Tour

Blog Tour Time! Oh wait, was I shouting in my excitement? I can’t help it. Today , I am happy to be a part of a ‘Round Robin’ tour from two authors I have the upmost respect. Yes, that is TWO authors on the guest list today. Author Jackie Gamber and H. David Blalock. Since I am the third stop on this series of questions, you might want to see what questions have already been answered (and I hope you do), please visit these two sites and get up to speed. The first stop was The Rage Circus Vs The Soulless Void and the second was The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies. Don’t worry, we will wait for you…Are you back? Ok, now that you have seen the first eight questions, let’s take a look at our first guest tonight, Jackie Gamber and a synopsis of Redheart.

Jackie Gamber RedheartJackie Gamber’s Redheart Book Synopsis:

Enter the lands of Leland Province, where dragon and human societies have long dwelled side by side. Superstitions rise sharply, as a severe drought strips the land of its bounty, providing fertile ground for the darker ambitions of Fordon Blackclaw, Dragon Council Leader, who seeks to subdue humans or wipe them off the face of the land.

As the shadow of danger creeps across Leland Province, a young dragon named Kallon Redheart, who has turned his back on dragons and humans alike, comes into an unexpected friendship. Riza Diantus is a young woman whose dreams can no longer be contained by the narrow confines of her village, and when she finds herself in peril, Kallon is the only one with the power to save her. Yet to do so means he must confront his past, and embrace a future he stopped believing in.

A tale of friendship, courage, and ultimate destiny, Redheart invites readers to a wondrous journey through the Leland Dragon Series.


TTMMAre you a planner/organizer when you write or a seat-of-your-pants writer?

Jackie Gamber: When it comes to writing, I’m a sort of hybrid. I have a general plan of where I’m going, what I want the ending to be, some plot twists that need to make it happen – then I let ‘er rip. I often surprise myself, and sometimes I follow a conversation or action that, in the end, just doesn’t work and can’t be used (“delete” is a painful process), but I like to follow my storytelling instincts to uncover things I wouldn’t find any other way.

TTMM: Are there specific character traits you find yourself giving your characters and what are they?

JG: I imbue characters with traits that make sense to their own personal journeys. My “bad guy” needs realistic motives and process, just as my protagonist and other characters. If I have patterns in my stories (I think most writers do), I don’t put them in consciously.

TTMMDo your characters speak to you and do you lead them or do they lead you?

JG: My characters often speak to me! Stories, for me, develop with tiny flashes; of a scene, a line of dialogue, a face. When it sticks, it’s because a character begins to surface, with a story to tell. I used to wonder if I had some shadow of schizophrenia–eh, I’ll be honest; I still do wonder. But I care less now about the why of this weird process, and more about how to honor it, and the story that comes from it.

TTMMIf you could sit and have dinner and convo with any writer from any time who would you meet?

JG: Ray Bradbury. I’ve admired the man’s work since I was a teenager; he was one of my biggest inspirations. The more I discovered him as a person, through media interviews and things, the more I admired him. He loved books, he loved libraries, like me. He was a dreamer, and a do-er. I sometimes drafted emails in my mind, introducing myself, assuring him I’m not a psychopath, and inviting him to lunch. I never scraped together the courage to actually do it.

Amazon Links for Redheart, the First Book of Jackie Gamber’s Leland Dragon Series:

Kindle Version:
Print Version:

Now on to our second guest, H. David Blalock as he answers four questions (actually the same four. We have to be consistent here). But, before we get into the questions. Let’s learn a little about Angelkiller.

BlalockBookOne_AngelkillerCoverH. David Blalock’s Angelkiller Book Synopsis:

Why do bad things happen to good people? Simple. In the ancient war between the Angels of Light and Darkness, the Dark won. Now it is the job of an undercover force simply known as The Army to rectify that.

Using every tool available, The Army has worked to liberate our world from The Enemy for thousands of years, slowly and painfully lifting Mankind out of the dark. On the front of the great Conflict are the Angelkillers, veterans of the fight with centuries of experience.

Jonah Mason is an Angelkiller, and his cell is targeted as part of plot to unseat a very powerful Minion of The Enemy. Mason and his troop are drawn into a battle that stretches from real-time to virtual reality and back. The Conflict is about to expand into cyberspace, and if Mason is unable to stop it, The Enemy will have gained dominion over yet another realm

TTMM: Are you a planner/organizer when you write or a seat-of-your-pants writer?

I much prefer to organize and sometimes outline my writing projects. It does wonders in avoiding writer’s block. It also makes it easier to meet deadlines, provide proposals to editors, and generally facilitates the process.

TTMM: Are there specific character traits you find yourself giving your characters and what are they?

The characters get the traits they need for the story. I don’t believe I have any one set of characteristics assigned to multiple characters, although I suppose there has to be a similarity between them since they are all the product of a single mind. I make an effort to give each character something unique depending on their importance to the plot. The main characters need the most development, of course, but secondary characters deserve something to identify them from the furniture in the background.

TTMM: Do your characters speak to you and do you lead them or do they lead you?

Early on, my characters tended to wander away and do their own thing. As I grew as a writer, I learned to herd them in the proper direction. Finally, it became clear that those characters who strayed from the plot too often or too far became very mortal. I haven’t had much trouble since.

TTMM: If you could sit and have dinner and convo with any writer from any time who would you meet?

Undoubtedly, Heinlein. It was his work that first inspired me to write and I never lost my fascination with his writing. Although his later work suffered a bit because of his failing health, I still maintain he was one of the greatest writers ever.

Amazon Links for Angelkiller, the First Book of H. David Blalock’s Angelkiller Triad:

Kindle Version:
Print Version:

Want More? Check out other great sites on the Blog Tour. 

9/8 SpecMusicMuse Review
9/8 The Rage Circus Vs. The Soulless Void Multi-Blogger Interview Part 1
9/8 Horror Tree Guest Post (Blalock)
9/8 Elizabeth Delana Rosa ~Book Lover & Creator of Worlds~  Guest Post (Gamber)
9/9 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (About Gamber)
9/9 I Smell Sheep Interactive Thread with Jackie and Dave
9/9 Armand Rosamilia, Horror Author Guest Post (Blalock)
9/10 The Southern Belle from Hell Art of the Angelkiller Triad (Blalock)
9/10 Bee’s Knees Review Guest Post (Gamber)
9/10 Blog of Sheila Deeth Guest Post (Gamber)
9/10 The Official Writing Blog of Deedee Davies Multi-Blogger Interview Part 2
9/10 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More Jackie Gamber Interviews H. David Blalock
9/11 Seers, Seraphs, Immortals & More H. David Blalock Interviews Jackie Gamber
9/11 Workaday Reads Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Vampires, Witches, & Me, Oh My! Guest Post (Gamber)
9/12 Trip Through My Mind Multi-Blogger Interview Part 3
9/12 Beauty In Ruins Guest Post (Blalock)
9/13 Jess Resides Here Review
9/14 Willow’s Author Love Guest Post (Blalock)
9/14 Fantastical Musings Multi-Blogger Interview Part 4
9/14 Jorie Loves a Story Guest Post (Gamber)

Time to Learn More About Our Guest

JackieGamberBWAbout Jackie Gamber:  As an award winning author, Jackie writes stories ranging from ultra-short to novel-length, varieties of which have appeared in anthologies such as Tales of Fantasy and Dragons Composed, as well as numerous periodical publications, including Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, The Binnacle, Mindflights Magazine, Necrotic Tissue, and Shroud. She is the author of the fantasy novel Redheart and Sela, and writing an alternate history time travel novel. She blogs professionally for English Tea, where she reviews classic science fiction and fantasy novels and pairs them with the ideal tea-sipping companion.

Jackie is a member of the professional organizations Science Fiction Writers of America and Horror Writers Association. She was named honorable mention in L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Award, and received a 2008 Darrell Award for best short story by a Mid-South author. She is the winner of the 2009 Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Award for Imaginative Fiction for her story The Freak Museum, a post-apocalyptic tale that looks closely at perceptions and outward appearances and how they affect the way we see ourselves. Jackie Gamber was co-founder and Executive Editor of Meadowhawk Press, a speculative fiction publisher based in Memphis. One of their novels, Terminal Mind by David Walton, won the Philip K. Dick Memorial Award in 2009. Jackie also edited the award winning benefit anthology, Touched By Wonder. She has been a guest lecturer at Memphis Options High Schools, and is a speaker at writers’ conferences from Michigan to Florida. Jackie is also the visionary behind the MidSouthCon Writers’ Conference, helping writers connect since 2008.



Twitter: @jackiegamber


HDavidBlalockBWAbout H. David Blalock:  Born in San Antonio, Texas, David spent the majority of his formative years in Jacksonville, Florida. At the age of 16, his family moved to the Panama Canal Zone where David finished school and entered employment with the Department of Defense as a Powerhouse Electrician.

Hiring into the FAA, he returned with his wife and two daughters to the States and settled briefly in Gulfport, MS. A few years later, he moved to Memphis, TN, as an Air Traffic Controller for the Memphis ARTCC. There he remained until his retirement.

David’s writing has appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines, webzines, and writer’s sites. His work continues to appear on a regular basis through multiple publishing houses.



Twitter:  @Hdavidblalock

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Posted by on September 12, 2014 in Books, Fiction, Reader's Retreat


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Trip Into Imaginarium: #TeamErotica is Hitting The Imaginarium

Paranormal, erotic and horror—oh my! As we draw closer to Imaginarium in Louisville, KY September 19-21st, the excitement for all things Imaginarium is ratcheted up a few notches.  We have heard from both S.H. Roddy and Stephen Zimmer about Imaginarium—the vision and the planning which have gone into this cool event to bring the writing community and readers together. Now, it is time to hear from one of Imaginarium’s panelist.  An author of romance stories regarding the paranormal and erotic, she has also written horror.  Her credits include novels, novellas, and short stories and she is here to spice some things up. So without further adieu please welcome Alexandra Christian.

#TeamErotica is Hitting The Imaginarium

By Alexandra Christian

That’s right, it’s me, your favorite convention party girl, Alexandra Christian!  I’m taking over Benns’ blog today to tell you about the most fun you can have at The Imaginarium with your clothes on!

The idea for Imaginarium was to bring writers and readers together for pro-tips, education, networking and most —importantly—FUN.  Part of the track this year will be devoted to romance of all types:  paranormal, contemporary, sweet, thriller and yes, erotic.  With that in mind, I wanted to get the word out today about a little panel I like to call “Make Me Scream.”  It’s an after-hours, 18 and up panel that will feature some of the best romance authors in the biz.  We’ll be talking about the best ways to insert a little steam into your love scenes which will leave your readers panting and begging for mercy.  Twice.  We’ll also talk a bit about trends in the genres, why Fifty Shades of Gray is an awful book and how readers can use their favorite books to enhance their own sex lives.

I was approached by the folks running The Imaginarium a while back about doing a really fun, VERY adult panel which would highlight the erotic romance authors who were attending.  So I got together with some of the others who I thought might be on the panel with me and we talked about some of the things we felt were really important to address.  This is only a partial list:

  • Why Fifty Shades is a horrible book.
  • Where can good girls get naughty books?
  • How to write erotica, not pornography.
  • Muses and how to use them effectively.
  • Sex toys.
  • “Erotic Romance Author” does not mean “I want you to send me pictures of your penis on Facebook.”
  • Keeping a sassy/ classy image i.e. –Not sucking on riding crops in public.

Now kids, this is only fun if we have instigators.  So—the object of the game is STANDING ROOM ONLY at the midnight sex panel.  How are we going to accomplish such a lofty goal, you ask?  I’m glad you asked.  #TeamErotica is going to strike again!  If you went to ConCarolinas in Charlotte, NC this summer, then you’re probably familiar with the MASSIVE naughty erotica panel.  Seriously, I think we drained a George R. R. Martin kegger party.  The way this works is—several authors, publishers and artists donate their wares and swag, the gals at #TeamErotica fill in with all sorts of naughty treats (chocolate, coffee, sex toys, smell good stuffs, the largest rainbow penis lollipop I’ve ever seen) and make a couple of nice pretty baskets.  During the week, if you visit our tables or see us on panels, we’ll be giving out raffle tickets for a chance to win the MASSIVE baskets o’ fun.  Here’s the catch:  you MUST be present at the MIDNIGHT “Make Me Scream” erotica panel on Saturday night in order to win.  But I promise, the whole process will be virtually painless.  We give good panel and you may even find a kernel of wisdom buried deep… deep… DEEP within.

About Alexandra

Lexxx ChristianAlexandra has been making trouble in the literary world since 2010 with her debut novel, Hellsong.  She’s an author of mostly paranormal erotic romance and horror. In case you don’t know what that means, she writes about not-so-nice girls getting it on with out-of this-world heroes. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, angels and demons– but no dinosaurs.

Lexxx is a self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell.” She’s a native South Carolinian who lives with an epileptic wiener dog and her pet ghost hunter and author, Tally Johnson. She’s published several novels, novellas and short stories with Ellora’s Cave, Purple Sword Publications, Mocha Memoirs Press and most recently, Seventh Star Press. In fact, her next novel is the kickoff to Seventh Star’s new romance imprint, Seventh Starlight.  Alexandra’s long-term aspirations are to one day be a bestselling authoress and part-time pinup girl. Questions, comments and complaints are most welcome at her website:


Imaginarium Con 2014

September 19-21, 2014
Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky

Imaginarium 2014 is a three-day creative writing convention and book fair suitable for attendees of all ages! With over 140 panels spread across twelve programming tracks, after-hours events, and a full vendor hall, it’s the place where ideas transcend imagination, where authors and readers can come together, and where new writers can learn tricks of the trade from more than 130 of today’s best independent publishing professionals. In addition to the literary programming, Imaginarium also features world-class workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming room, and more.



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Posted by on September 11, 2014 in Adult, Fiction, Trip Into Imagineering, Writing


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Rhyanna’s Read: A Young Reader’s View – Nexus of the Worlds

Rhyanna Reads Book ReviewsSummer is over. School is back in session. Rhyanna’s Reads is back.

Rhyanna is a wonderfully intelligent young reader, who immerses herself in almost anything she can get her hands on to read. She also aspires to become an author herself and is working on many short stories and “chapter” books hoping the stories will be published someday. Nothing really out of the norm, right? Well, I failed to mention that Rhyanna is nine-years-old and has been working her way through libraries, bookstores, and my bookshelves. Yes, this writer-in-the-making is my daughter, who some of you may remember as the focus of quite a few articles here.

Once again, it is time to turn the controls over to Rhyanna for a young reader’s perspective on Christopher Mentzer’s first book in The Askinar Tower series titled Nexus of the Worlds. 

Nexus of the Worlds (The Askinar Towers Book #1)

The book, Nexus of the Worlds, was a book about two sisters. Sara (the older sister) had a friend she called Professor. What Sara did not know was that Professor really was not his name. It was Sara’s birthday and she was upset that Professor had not come to her house yet. Sara loved the present that Professor gave her when he finally arrived. On Saturday, Sara and her sister Erika went over to the Professor’s house to play in the attic. What they discovered you would never imagine. There was so much excitement in the book that I could not put the book down. Each time I turned the page a surprise would pop up in front of my eyes.

My favorite character was Sara because she loves to explore almost anything and everything she can find. Something bad happens when Erika follows the rule to close a door when you leave a room. Where they turn up they may never see home again. I also like Erika because she loves her sister and family. She tries to help Sara get them home.

This will be an interesting book to anyone who loves to read books about adventure and fun with friends. If you think you want to read a book about friends, family, and adventure then stop by a library or a book store and pick up Nexus of the Worlds. I hope you enjoy the book.

Nexus of the Worlds by Christopher MentzerRhyanna had a chance to ask author, Christopher Mentzer about his book Nexus of the Worlds.

Rhyanna Reads: What inspired you to write this book?

Christopher Mentzer: The inspiration for The Askinar Towers came from two sources. First, was the Castle Perilous series by John DeChancie. In it featured a castle with 144,000 rooms and most of the doorways were links the other realms. The other source is from a Doctor Who story called, Paradise Towers. I’ve always loved the idea of towers and people living there and traveling from floor to floor. I put the ideas together and created four towers, each represented by an element (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) and supposedly a Fifth Tower which is consider merely a legend. The girls’ goal is to find that fifth tower.

RR: Why did you put the girls Sara and Ericka in the book?

CM: The main characters, Sara and Erika, are based on my daughters. My original goal was to write a story for each of them, one a year, until they were of the age to appreciate them. By 2004, I hadn’t written a single story so I decided to combine the girls and write one epic story featuring them. I base some of the characteristics of my characters from my daughters and the way they act towards each other and towards other people.

RR: How did you come up with the other names for the other people in the story?

CM: Most of the names of the other characters are either ones I played as characters in Dungeons and Dragons many, many years ago or they were in other stories that didn’t pan out and I held onto them in case I could find a way to use them. When I was growing up as kid, most of the police dramas on TV featured a character with a weapon as a last name; Cannon, Baretta, and Magnum P.I., just to name a few. I went with the name Gatling (Gatling Gun) for a character name and, since the character was female, I chose Mercedes because it sounded classy and unique. Johnny Secret was an idea for a 1930s detective series in which he is a private eye in New York City. It didn’t work out the way I wanted to, but I kept the character and made him a companion of the girls. Sir Talbot The Average was also supposed to be an MC in his own story, but again, it didn’t work out either. I try to save all of the characters I have in hopes that one day I might use them in something else.

RR: Thank you for your answers. We can also visit your website at Christopher Mentzer Website.

I hope you enjoy this review. I will post another one soon. Keep reading!

Made for you by:



Final Note:

Literacy in children and the enjoyment of reading are causes very dear to me as a parent and as a writer. In the age of instant gratification, hundreds of television stations, and video games, the ability for a child to get lost in a story improves creativity, reasoning skills, and comprehension. Take a moment to share a story with the children in your life. Take them to explore the shelves of a local library, browse the books at the neighborhood book story, and unlock their imagination. Literacy is the greatest gift you can share.

If Rhyanna’s review inspired you to read Nexus of the Worlds, you can pick up a copy today. Share the joy of reading with the children in your life.


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Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Books, Fiction, Review, Rhyanna's Reads


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Trip Into Imaginarium: The Secrets Behind the Scenes

It is time. Last week, we heard from Stephen Zimmer, in his interview, on the inspiration as well as some in-and-outs for Imaginarium coming up in September. This week, we hear from Susan H. Roddey, the mover and shaker behind the scenes in today’s guest post. It is time to pull back the curtain and peek at what lies behind…

Pay no attention to that girl behind the curtain…

Whoever said being a creative person is easy was nuts. Seriously. Cray-zee. Off his rocker. The honest, ugly truth is that being creative is extremely difficult. Sometimes it even sucks. You see, we spend entirely too much time in our own heads, tumbling through the labyrinthine halls of our imaginations, becoming burdened down with those annoying little creative clingers – ideas that eventually turn into books, movies, artwork, and music. We are at the mercy of our brains.

That tidbit will be relevant in a minute. I promise. But first, a story.

So last year, Stephen Zimmer and I were in a bar in Louisville along with a dozen or so other people. And we were drinking. I know, I know. Most stories that start with “We were drinking whiskey and…” never end well. Don’t worry, nobody lost their clothes and nobody ended up falling into the Ohio River. What did happen was a spark; a simple idea.

I’m speaking of the night Imaginarium was born. Stephen announced that he wanted to start his own event – an idea I’d been tossing around for months on my own but didn’t have the resources. Everything he said was exactly what I’d been thinking. We needed an event for the artists. We needed a place where people of our ilk, hard-working artists from all walks of life, could be the focus. We wanted to foster friendship and fellowship among the creatives, to build a strong network of people who… well, who get it.

The more we talked, the more excited we became. Now here we are a year later. We’ve chased this crazy dream down the rabbit hole, and it’s more wonderful in reality than we ever thought possible.

“…Stephen is the driving force behind Imaginarium.”

I do need to pause here and tell you that Stephen is the driving force behind Imaginarium. He probably won’t take as much credit for it as he should, but this is his dream. He wanted to make this real, and he’s done it in the most amazing of ways. I’m just the mouthpiece he enlisted to help keep it functioning. I’ve spent half my life in administration and events planning, so it was a natural fit to step in and help with the organization and paperwork.

Sometimes people don’t realize how much work goes into a show of this size. It isn’t easy, but even having taken a few lumps in the process, I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world.

Busy is an understatement. Stephen and I hit the ground running each morning (him more so than me since I tend to stumble along in his wake). We have lists and spreadsheets and grids. There’s also a Facebook chat thread that’s teetering somewhere at the 50,000 messages mark. We chat. We email. We text. We call each other at ungodly hours of the day and night. We’ve done pretty much everything but send up smoke signals.

We’ve also sought out the best in the business and drawn them in to help coordinate various events across the weekend. We’ve networked and schmoozed and emailed until our eyes have crossed. Most mornings Stephen comes online to find random diatribes waiting in his inbox where I’ve gone off in stream of consciousness mode listing off all the things that kept me up the previous night. He gets to see my rants and ravings and the general silliness that comes with being overworked and underpaid (that would be the day job), being a struggling author, and keeping my head on my shoulders while making sure we’ve covered all of our bases. Then he laughs at me, tells me to behave, and go back to work.

“The energy is amazing already. I can’t wait to see it explode when everyone comes together.”

It’s not just about contacting panelists and asking for their favorite topics. That’s the easy part. Right now we’re working on promoting this monster of an event and the guests involved, but I’m also wrangling volunteers while Stephen works with the Crowne Plaza to finalize room details. We’re securing A/V equipment, planning for security, creating t-shirts, printing up badges, building a program, organizing workshops, and still working hard to keep the friendship and camaraderie going among the guests.

Because I’ll tell you, the key to a good event is happy guests. If our panelists are excited, others will want to be excited too. Happiness is infectious, and it’s what keeps us going day after day despite the looming stress of Making Things Work. The energy is amazing already. I can’t wait to see it explode when everyone comes together.

In the last year, we’ve met some of the most wonderful people. It’s part of why I was so eager to jump in and help when Stephen first uttered the word “Imaginarium.” I like to get to know other authors and artists, to see how they work and what makes them tick. I like hearing their stories and seeing how their creativity comes out in their work. (And we won’t discuss the squealing fangirl moment in a message to Stephen when I discovered Jeffrey Reddick is now following me on Twitter, because that would be embarrassing.) My goal over the last month has been to build relationships with our guest and make certain they know we’re always available if they need us.

“Quite simply, Susan is involved with me in all areas of the event. Susan and I complement each other extremely well in our styles. Like me, she also brings to the table an understanding that encompasses both sides of the equation, the artist perspective and the organizational aspects. This balanced outlook, coupled with her keen intelligence, spreadsheet wizardry, and easy to work with personality make for a pleasant and productive environment. She definitely brightens any world that she is involved in, which is why I call her Sunshine Susan. I am deeply appreciative and honored by her involvement with Imaginarium. We are very lucky to have her with us….Stephen Zimmer’s thoughts on Susan H. Roddey

Which brings me back to my first statement about creativity. Yes, Stephen and I are shuffling paperwork and wracking our brains for the perfect balance to the schedule, but we’re doing it for the best causes. We’re doing it for the guests, for the fans, for the indie community, and for the industry. But above all else, we do it for the love of the craft. We’re writers, you see, and in this day and age of flooded markets and stiff competition, we creative types have to stick together.

In the Imaginarium, we welcome everyone with open arms and hope that by doing our part to provide a safe haven and comfortable atmosphere, we can help solidify the artistic community and keep creativity alive.

S.H. Roddey

About S.H. Roddey

Susan H RoddeySouth Carolina native S.H. Roddey has been writing for fun since she was a child and still enjoys building worlds across the speculative fiction spectrum filled with mystery and intrigue. She brings to the literary world a unique blend of humor, emotion, and wild ideas filled with dark themes and strong characters. In addition to writing she is also a voracious reader, wanna-be chef, and video game addict with two full-time jobs: administrative social media professional, and mom to two cats, a teenager, and a precocious toddler with an affinity for computer keyboards.

For more information on Susan, her imagination, and the things she writes:


Imaginarium Con 2014September 19-21, 2014
Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky

Imaginarium 2014 is a three-day creative writing convention and book fair suitable for attendees of all ages! With over 140 panels spread across twelve programming tracks, after-hours events, and a full vendor hall, it’s the place where ideas transcend imagination, where authors and readers can come together, and where new writers can learn tricks of the trade from more than 130 of today’s best independent publishing professionals. In addition to the literary programming, Imaginarium also features world-class workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming room, and more.

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Posted by on July 31, 2014 in Trip Into Imagineering, Writing


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Five Best Zombie Series You Already Know About (And A Bonus One)

Guest Post Time! I reached out to Armand Rosamilia asking him, almost begged which isn’t pretty, to visit Trip Through My Mind for a guest post. After some negotiations, bribes of M&Ms, and my agreement to make a public statement here, “Armand it the greatest guy in the world.” (Now, I have said it so I have paid my dues) he agreed to visit us today.

You have heard the name before on Trip Through My Mind as I have featured an interview (Summer of Zombie Blog Tour: Armand Rosamilia Interview), a guest book review from Margaret Colton for Armand’s Dying Days 4 release (Reader’s Retreat: Dying Days 4), and featured his website as part of the Weekly Spotlight (Weekly Spotlight: Today, I wanted to get his insight– the Five Best Zombie Series according to Armand Rosamilia. I will step aside now and give the podium to Mr. Armand Rosamilia.

Five Best Zombie Series You Already Know About (And A Bonus One)

Armand Rosamilia

First off, I need to thank Jerry Benns for letting me stop by and chat a little bit… I have a new book out, but that’s not important right now. What’s important is to point out a few zombie series I like and you should, too… and this is posted not for the veteran zombie fan out there (who already owns all these books, I’m sure) but for the newbies coming into the zombie book world who are looking for a great jump off starting point.

Five authors who write what I believe are the books you need to read, in no real order (although they are numbered, so technically that is an order):

1. Brian KeeneThe Rising is the book that started it all for me when it came to zombies. All of his zombie books are loosely connected (indeed, all of his books are in one way or another) and with each slightly different change the books get better and better. Highly recommended.

2. Joe McKinney – I saw Dead City on the shelf at the local Barnes & Noble a few years ago, saw it was zombies and the cover looked cool. Why not? From the first page it hooked me and I’ve waited for each and every new zombie book from Joe. He’s another writer that doesn’t technically write it as one series, but they can be read as a broader sense of his amazing zombie stories.

3. Mark Tufo – I’d like to think (and brag) I got Tufo really started in zombie stories when I published his “My Name Is Riley” short story in the Undead Tales anthology, which he launched into a great set of zombie books. Of course, you need to read his Zombie Fallout series. The guy knows how to write a story that is terrifying, funny and realistic all at once.

4. John O’Brien – If you’re into realistic military zombie stories (whatever that really means, I guess), Mr. O’Brien has you covered. A New World series showcases his military background without trying to show how intelligent the author is and what he knows. He presents his situations so the casual reader of zombie fiction can keep along without having to relate or know all of the jargon. And he succeeds in pulling you in and keeping you reading.

5. Shawn Chesser – His Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse series is tightly written and jammed with memorable characters and scenes, and he’s another author (like everyone on the list) with a rabid fan base. It’s been earned, because Mr. Chesser keeps you reading until the end and then wishing you had another book. And the way he writes (and writes well) another zombie book is right around the corner.

Super Bonus Pick…

Armand Rosamilia – Hey, why not? My Dying Days extreme zombie series is easily my biggest seller and readers really respond to the rawness of the characters and the zombies, who sometimes take a backseat to the carnage the survivors, put you through.

I may be partial, but I’m still going to recommend it. Dying Days 4 just came out, too… so hurry and catch up.

Oh, and you have to read the short story “Dead Like Me” from Adam-Troy Castro. An extra bonus pick. It is my favorite zombie short story of all time, and you’ll love it, too…

I’ve given you enough homework to last awhile.

Armand Rosamilia

Armand PicArmand Rosamilia is a New Jersey boy currently living in sunny Florida, where he exacts revenge on his enemies and neighbors alike by writing them into his Dying Days zombie series. And not in good ways. He has over 120 releases to date, with more coming. He is also a radio and internet DJ and runs Arm Cast: Dead Sexy Horror Podcast, with interviews from the best authors, etc. in horror. He loves talking in third person. and if you want to chat.

Check out Armand Rosamilia’s 120+ releases on Amazon and pick up your copy of Dying Days 4.

Meet Armand Rosamilia in person at the Imaginarium Conventions 2014 where he will be a guest panelist, signing books, and hanging out with fans. For more information on Imaginarium, see below.

 Imaginarium Con 2014

September 19-21, 2014
Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky

Imaginarium 2014 is a three-day creative writing convention and book fair suitable for attendees of all ages! With over 140 panels spread across twelve programming tracks, after-hours events, and a full vendor hall, it’s the place where ideas transcend imagination, where authors and readers can come together, and where new writers can learn tricks of the trade from more than 130 of today’s best independent publishing professionals. In addition to the literary programming, Imaginarium also features world-class workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming room, and more.


Posted by on July 28, 2014 in Books, Horror, zombies


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Trip Into Imaginarium: Stephen Zimmer Shares All

Imaginarium Con 2014I will start today by saying I am excited. Yep, pretty excited to introduce a new feature, Trip Into Imagineering. This new feature will be focusing on some of the guests and events happening around the first annual Imaginarium Con 2014. What is an Imaginarium, you ask? Once again, I am so proud of my reader’s inquisitive natures. Imaginarium Con is an epic event which will take place in Louisville, Kentucky September 19-21, 2014. In order to clarify how cool Imaginarium is, I went to the source, Stephen Zimmer. I met Stephen Zimmer earlier this year at another event, MidSouth Con 32. As you may notice by how many times I mention meeting people at a particular Con, they are great places to network and build one of the things I hold dear–community. In September, I will once again seek out like minded individuals at the gathering, Imaginarium Convention 2014. At the end of the interview will be links directing you to the registration and information. Now it is time to learn a little more about the event and meet Stephen Zimmer.

Trip Through My Mind: I would like to welcome, Stephen Zimmer to Trip Through My Mind. This is your first visit to our little venue. I want to start by saying, I cannot wait to attend the Imaginarium Con in September. When I first heard about the con, I marked it on my calendar. Could you give us a little info on what to expect at Imaginarium for both veteran con-goers and newbies?


Stephen Zimmer

Stephen Zimmer the man behind Imaginarium

Stephen Zimmer: All conventions have themes or a focus of some sort and Imaginarium is no different. In a nutshell, Imaginarium is a convention that is centered upon creative writing. I say it like that because I do not refer to books alone, but all forms of creative writing, including screenwriting, writing for games, stage and song, and even poetry. Our programming is extensive, with over 125 panels in twelve categories, featuring over 130 professional panelist guests coming from all across the book industry, and the worlds of gaming, comics, and movies. We also feature a number of dedicated workshops too.

While there is a richness of content, Imaginarium is set in a fun convention environment, with a vendor hall, masquerade, art show, gaming room, film festival and other activities .   I see Imaginarium as a prime place for writers, editors, publishers, cover artists, comic artists, filmmakers, screenwriters, game designers, poets, songwriters, and readers to come together for a great weekend of networking, learning and fun. We have worked hard to make it as affordable and accessible as possible, even offering special group rates to enable student groups to participate. We want Imaginarium to work for everyone at many levels.

TTMM: I cannot wait to be one of those 130 panelists. It will be my first time as a panelist and I am beside myself with excitement. I first heard of it through the podcast you are involved in, The Star Chamber Show. When we met in Memphis, your excitement for Imaginarium was contagious. What I have wanted to ask you is, what inspired the creation of the Imaginarium Con?

SZ: I am around a lot of conventions and literary events, many of which I absolutely love such as MidSouth Con, which you mentioned, but I really wanted to see an event that made the creative writer and storyteller the focus of the entire event. I did not see that as limited to only the short story, novel and novella realms, hence the areas of the event catering to gaming, screenwriting, comics and graphic novels, and more.

At the same time, I did not want it to be overly formal. I wanted an environment that is comfortable for newcomers, those just getting into the industry, unpublished authors and readers too. So, I felt that this should be done in a convention-style environment, with a lot of the things that those who go to mixed media or fandom cons tend to enjoy, such as a masquerade, an art show, or a nice vendors hall.

We are trying to make sure we don’t spread too thin in year one, but I do feel we have all the elements in place to have a really nice event.

TTMM: From your website, I get the feeling you are building a community of writers, publishers, artists, instead of fostering competition. We have had this conversation before, but I think we have very similar ideas on the subject. Could you share with everyone why building up the writing community is important to you?

SZ: Our competition is with ourselves, to push ourselves to produce better and better material with every new release. The competition is not with fellow authors and publishers. This might sound counterintuitive at first, but truly the authors that have noticed who tend to progress the fastest are the ones who have a win-win philosophy. Mainly, they are supportive and willing to help other authors and publishers.

Being mutually supportive really does create a stronger environment which is much more suited to attract a greater number of readers and cross-pollinate among the various authors and publishers. A reader who discovers Seventh Star Press will be exposed to and discover authors with Charon Coin Press, or Blackwyrm Publishing, or Apex Book Company. Same dynamic for individual authors. It really does work like that when you have a cohesive, friendly, mutually supportive community.

This kind of positive-driven environment also has the effect of encouraging everyone to put out quality work. None of us want to be a turnoff that sends a reader running. All of us want to be a beacon and bring more and more readers into a love and embrace of indie books, whether by small presses or self-published authors. We really are in this together. The sooner everyone figures that out the better, in my view, especially with the mounting challenges we continue to face in the industry itself.

TTMM: I remember back a couple of months ago when you were so excited you almost could not wait to make the announcement for the Guest of Honor. We were chatting the day you received the confirmation and you were almost bursting with the news. Could you share a little insight about Rose Pressey, the guest of honor at this year’s Imaginarium?

SZ: Rose is extremely talented and she also happens to be a very gracious and kind-hearted individual. We thought it would be wonderful to have a big success story from the home state for Imaginarium be our guest of honor in year one and I could not be happier with having Rose as our first author given this designation.

She does embody what is possible as an indie author in this day and age. She is a wonderful success story herself and having her at Imaginarium will be an inspiration for the attendees. I am confident that everyone will walk away with the same high esteem that I hold for her, once they have had the pleasure of interacting with her.

TTMM: I am looking forward to sitting in on some of her panels and events. I saw this on the site and I have to ask. What is an Imaginator and what will they be doing at the con?

SZ: An Imaginator is a very special designation. Our policy is to name one Guest of Honor for the event, but the Imaginators are a spotlighted, select type of guest and we aim for having representation of different creative writing areas. They will receive special Q and A sessions and will be placed in some very carefully targeted programming areas. They will also receive special recognition at our awards banquet on the 21st.

This year, we have three, Jeffrey Reddick, Maurice Broaddus and Dan Jolley. Jeffrey Reddick is a fantastic screenwriter who was the creator of the Final Destination franchise. Maurice Broaddus is a truly exceptional author whose Knights of Breton Court series from Angry Robot is well loved by a great many urban fantasy readers. Dan Jolley represents the game-design and comic worlds, in addition to being an author too! Dan provided game-design and dialogue support for Transformers video games and has multiple projects with the renowned Dark Horse Comics.

I feel this trio embodies what our Imaginators are about; individuals who have made a real mark in their fields and who also happen to be wonderful people to work and interact with. To me, the latter aspect is very important too and I think our attendees are going to absolutely love these three great fellows.

TTMM: The programming is very eclectic with everything from blogging, editing, graphic novels, romance, mystery, speculative fiction and even poetry. How hard was it to get experts from all of those different areas to participate in the con?

SZ: It isn’t easy to assemble a group of over 130 professional guests, but over the past few years I’ve built a network and gotten to know quite a few great individuals and for Imaginarium I wanted to bring as many of them together as I could. I think it is important to have this mix, as there are fantasy novels with romance elements, moments for poetry in a mystery novel, and blogging effects all types of writers, for example, so even the things that might seem eclectic on the surface can also be useful to the savvy attendee!

I’ve seen a lot of enthusiasm for the concept too. The event is not a clone of something else, it has its own kind of focus and it fits a niche, I believe. I think a lot of our guests recognize this and want to see something like this take hold.

TTMM: There are several publishers sponsoring Imaginarium: First Page Last Page, Hekate Press, Hydra Publications, Fates Press. Do you feel the con is a good way to bring writers and publishers together?

SZ:  Absolutely. This is going to be a friendly environment for both published and self-published authors, and writers exploring both options. I should also mention that Blackwyrm Publishing just came aboard as a sponsor too. But this group of sponsors and the involvement of Seventh Star Press in the organization of Imaginarium reflects the win-win environment I spoke of earlier. It sets a tone of us coming together in mutual support and camaraderie.

There are also a number of other publishers who will be vendors. I feel that the combination of rich content and a relaxed atmosphere is going to make this a bonanza for writers and publishers to interact and hopefully it will lead to all kinds of new projects, from anthologies, to publishing contracts, to many other things.

TTMM: Are there vendor tables still available? If someone wanted to find out more about being a vendor, where can they go to get information?

SZ: We still have a few tables left and we do have a nice range of hours for the vendor hall. Our price is nice too at just $75 bucks for the weekend and that includes the table and a badge for the vendor.   The link for that is Imaginarium Vendor Restration.

TTMM: I agree with you and can see several projects coming out of the great networking opportunities you have created at Imaginarium. I know the company I am associated with, Charon Coin Press, is really looking forward to not only being a vendor but also sharing ideas with the different groups of people. Putting something this large together requires a large team. I know you are one of the busiest people I know but, not even you can do this all on your own. Are you looking for volunteers for Imaginarium and what would volunteering entail?

Yes, we do need volunteers. We exchange a badge to the event in exchange for 8 hours of volunteering during the Friday to Sunday period, which will be broken up into two four hour blocks. Volunteers will help us watch over the panel rooms and signal moderators on time, others will help people get information and get their badges at the registration counter, and others will watch over events like the awards banquet and masquerade. Nothing will be overly strenuous, pretty straightforward stuff. Definitely visit our site and fill out the volunteer form if interested. Imaginarium Volunteers.

TTMM: I know I am a little over-excited for this event but, what are you most looking forward to at this year’s Imaginarium?

SZ: Seeing this group come together, of attendees and guests. There is a method to the madness of picking the kind of panelists we have and I really think this group is going to gel wonderfully and really get along. Going to be a lot of positive energy in the air and I think people will see what we want to do with this event.

TTMM: What do you hope attendees will take away from Imaginarium this year?

SZ: I hope that they both have fun and find great value in their experience, whether that comes in the form of new contacts, projects, skills learned, or resources accessed. I believe strongly that all of that is there to be had for everyone. I want every person attending to come away on Sunday more empowered than they were when they arrived on Friday (or possibly Thursday night!).

TTMM: I was planning on attending with my family. My youngest daughter, who is an aspiring book reviewer, will be accompanying me. Will there be events for the younger attendees?

SZ: Imaginarium is designed to be family friendly. Most all of the programming is accessible to younger attendees and those few that involve more adult themes such as in the romance/erotica area will have an age restriction. Our Harassment Policy on our site also clearly spells out the kind of environment that will be in place and enforced, if need be. From gaming to the film festival, there definitely will be things that younger attendees will find enjoyable.

TTMM: One of Charon Coin Press’ editors, Margaret Colton, will be attending her first Con. We will be popping her “con cherry” with Imaginarium Con 2014. What could you share with her or someone attending their first con? What tips could you give them to get the most out of their experience and want to come back for more?

SZ: Our full schedule will be available for download online before the event and I advise reading through it and marking down things that are of interest, so you have a few things in mind to attend once you arrive. The atmosphere itself will be a relaxed and non-hostile once, which I think will clear up a lot of worries that some first time con goers might have. Stroll around the vendor hall and meet a few of the attendees early. Go to a few programming sessions and get a sense of some of the panelists. Often that provides a good way to break the ice, when you tell a panelist that you enjoyed their panel and introduce yourself. Also, attend some of the more social activity Friday evening after programming ends. Those are some good ways to ease into things.

I’m sure a few attendees will host room parties later at night and there is no need to be too scared of those! Those are great ways to stop in and introduce yourself to a few fellow attendees without any pressure at all. Just remember that a lot of people at Imaginarium will be newcomers.

TTMM: Thank you, Stephen, for being a guest on the initial issue of Trip Into Imagineering. It is only fitting with the launch to bring you in to give readers an overview of the event. In the weeks leading up to the Imaginarium, we will be working to highlight some of the guests and their craft. For more information on Imaginarium Con and details of all the things mentioned above, follow the links and information below.

Until next time…

jerry b.

© 2014

Imaginarium Con 2014

September 19-21, 2014
Crowne Plaza Airport Hotel
Louisville, Kentucky

Imaginarium 2014 is a three-day creative writing convention and book fair suitable for attendees of all ages! With over 140 panels spread across twelve programming tracks, after-hours events, and a full vendor hall, it’s the place where ideas transcend imagination, where authors and readers can come together, and where new writers can learn tricks of the trade from more than 130 of today’s best independent publishing professionals. In addition to the literary programming, Imaginarium also features world-class workshops, an art show, film festival, gaming room, and more.




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Reader’s Retreat: Interview with Alexander S. Brown

Today on the Reader’s Retreat, it is my great pleasure to share an interview with author and editor, Alexander S. Brown. Many of you know his name and have read the anthology he co-edits entitled Southern Haunts. We will talk about Southern Haunts, The Star Chamber Show, and his new release, Syrenthia Falls. I had the enjoyable opportunity of meeting Brown earlier this year at MidSouth Con 32. His excitement for the craft of writing, as well as the writing community drew me and many others into really interesting conversations. Let’s not waste more time with my ramblings, it is time to get to know our guest, Alexander S. Brown.

Southern Haunts Volume 1TripThroughMyMind: Alexander, it is great having you here at on the Reader’s Retreat feature of Trip Through My Mind. We first met at MidSouth Con 32 in March. After talking with you, I had to purchase a new bag to carry all the books I purchased. You introduced me to the Southern Haunts anthology in which you are a co-editor. Could you tell us a little about Southern Haunts?

Alexander Brown: Southern Haunts is an anthology based in the south and southwest. All stories are loosely inspired by actual places, persons, and events. The goal of Southern Haunts is to consider a nonfictional subject and fictionalize it by your characters interacting with the subject.

TTMM: How many Southern Haunts books are out currently?

AB: Currently, we have vol. 1: Spirits that Walk Among Us and vol. 2: Devils in the Darkness. Vol. 1 is mostly ghost story inspired and vol. 2 is demon inspired.

Southern Haunts Volume 2TTMM: As I go through the process of editing and putting anthologies together, I have been discovering many different areas in the process. Some I like some I do not. What is your favorite part about editing for Southern Haunts?

AB: That moment when I have read all the stories and know which ones are going to make the cut.   It is a feeling of accomplishment and excitement when I realize who I will be working with.

TTMM: Now let’s talk about your big news. You recently had a new book released Syrenthia Falls. Tell us a little about this book.

AB: Syrenthia Falls is a coming of age novel intended for adults. This book is a mixture of action, adventure, drama, romance, suspense, and most of all – horror. In Syrenthia Falls, I take a different approach to the werewolf fandom. I’m not going to release any spoilers; you have to read for yourself.

TTMM: I looked you up on Amazon to see some of the other books you are involved in. You write in many different genres from steampunk to horror and both YA to adult. What audience are you hoping to capture with Syrenthia Falls?

AB: Syrenthia Falls is intended for the adult horror lover. One who enjoys strong characters, complex plots, and splatterpunk.

TTMM: The main character, Syrenthia, seems like the outcast and has trouble finding acceptance. What would you say about the different relationships and the part they play in Syrenthia Falls?

Syrenthia Falls cover artAB: The picture I tried to paint with Syrenthia Falls is how an outcast can be made into a monster by those who bully her. The characters interact the way they do so the reader can see how cliques band together while in high school, regardless of if they are good or bad. I chose high school as the setting because it is a complex time for most young adults, one that I feel needs greater observance for their safety.

TTMM: As a writer, I tend to pull character traits from the people around me as well as internal personality traits. Where do you pull your inspiration?

AB: I am inspired by friends, family, enemies, and strangers. I am a people watcher, not a stalker, but a watcher, who can gain inspiration by observation.

TTMM: I thought I was busy, but from following your social media, it looks like you are all over the place these days. I see your updates on writing, book signings, editing as well as being one of the hosts on the Star Chamber Show. I have been wondering, how did you get involved in the show?

AB: Stephen Zimmer, who is a publisher with Seventh Star Press, invited me to be a co-host on the show. He felt I could offer contributions to the podcast. I hope I haven’t let him down LOL.

TTMM: I am proud to say I was a guest recently on Star Chamber Show and found the experience very enjoyable. We had to be reeled in; otherwise we would have chatted all night. What do you enjoy most about hosting Star Chamber Show?

AB: I enjoy asking complex questions. I try to ask questions that I feel could empower and improve the life of those who are listening.

TTMM: I noticed in 2014 you undertook a project of releasing one short story in eBook format per month. That seems like a tall undertaking. What prompted that project and where can we find these stories?

AB: This project is known as Single Shots and it was presented to me by Pro Se Press, a pulp publisher. When I was asked to participate, I was concerned how much I could actually contribute. Then, Pro Se inquired about my Halloween stories I had yet to publish. I mulled over the idea and thought, Wow, a year’s worth of Halloween stories. How awesome would that be? My Halloween stories can now be found via,, and Just type in Alexander S. Brown and I should come up. The reader will receive a new story monthly.

TTMM: I will have to admit, my first introduction to the steampunk culture was at MidSouth Con. Before then, I saw movies in this vein but did not know it was a whole subculture. Now, I am exploring the genre as often as possible. You have quite a few young adult steampunk stories out there in several anthologies. What is it that draws you to that genre?

AB: The ability to imagine inventions in the Victorian era is my main love for writing steampunk. Although I’m not a sci-fi person and most people write steampunk as Victorian sci-fi, I mostly write steampunk murder mystery, horror, and superheroes.

TTMM: The setting for your stories are in the South and with Southern Haunts focusing on southern states, could you tell us why the South seems to be a good place for scary stories?

AB: I believe it’s the culture and history of the south that provides us with a good scare. Also, southerners have always been known to spin tall tales.

TTMM: Ok, I am always curious on why authors pick and choose certain stories to write. When you are looking for anthologies to write and submit a story for, what do you look for in the anthology? What draws you to a particular anthology collection?

AB: I am driven to an anthology if it provides enough versatility for me to be creative and honor the genres of suspense and horror.

TTMM: As we wrap up, I would like to come back to your book Syrenthia Falls. Characters become real to the author as they write their stories. If Syrenthia was one of your friends what would you like best about her and what do you like least about her?

AB: I can’t say that I dislike anything about her. A few of her actions sadden me. I guess what I like about her the most is her potential.

TTMM: Finally, any parting words for the readers and where can they get your books?

AB: Never stop reading and always support your local bookstore whenever possible. Ebook when there is no other option. Bookstores need our support, we do not need to make them a dying breed. My books can be ordered through any bookstore, or you can contact me personally for a signed copy. For those who may not be able to access local bookstores, you may purchase my work on,, and My Halloween ebooks are available wherever ebook downloads are sold. For signed copies, contact me at Subject head your email, Signed Edition.

Find me on Facebook at: Alexander S. Brown Facebook Page

Meet Alexander S. Brown

5Alexander S. Brown is a Mississippi author who was published in 2008 with his first book Traumatized. Reviews for this short story collection were so favorable that it is being released as a special edition by Pro Se Publishing. Brown is currently one of the co-editors/coordinators with the Southern Haunts Anthologies published by Seventh Star Press. His horror novel Syrenthia Falls is represented by Dark Oak Press.

He is also the author of multiple young adult steampunk stories found in the Dreams of Steam Anthologies and the anthology Clockwork Spells and Magical Bells. His more extreme works can be found in the upcoming anthology Luna’s Children published by Dark Oak Press.

Visit,, and to download his monthly short stories known as Single Shots. These are represented by Pro Se Press and the first available story is The Night the Jack O’ Lantern Went Out.

Imaginarium Con 2014Alexander Brown is one of many guests who will appear at the first annual, Imaginarium Con in Louisville, Kentucky. Imaginarium Con is centered upon creative writing. Imaginarium is the place to be to discuss and learn about all forms of creative writing all forms of creative writing including books, publishing, screenwriting, writing for games, stage and song, and even poetry all wrapped up in one great event. It will include 125 panels in twelve categories, featuring 130 professional panelist guests. Come meet Alexander Brown, and yours truly, on September 19-21. Visit for more details.

Until next time…

jerry b.



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