Friday, March 24, 2017

Booklist Review for THE ARGUS DECEIT: "Literary surrealism at its finest..."

Well, this is another first for me...a review from Booklist:




The Argus Deceit
Booklist
Carrie Rasak
March 24, 2017

"Literary surrealism at its finest, Grossart’s latest genre bender explores a life led under many identities. Brody Quail is a 10-year-old boy, a teenager, an embittered twentysomething Vietnam veteran, and a 52-year-old widower, all at the same time, living the same day again and again. Each time the events repeat themselves, there is something slightly different about his interactions with his family and friends. They behave strangely. Brody begins to remember things that he knows never happened to him. He questions his sanity as one world melts into the next. And through it all, a mysterious presence lurks in the shadows. The Argus Deceit is a wild ride as readers become absorbed in Brody’s different realities. Fans of The X-Files and The Twilight Zone will love the subtle reminders that nothing is what it appears to be in Brody’s day-to-day life, and will enjoy feeling a creeping dread as the novel progresses—until the truth of Brody’s fractured reality is revealed."


Monday, March 13, 2017

2016 Silver Falchion Award Winner

I'm happy to announce that yesterday I learned The Gemini Effect won the 2016 Silver Falchion Award for Best Science Fiction Novel.


So...the next obvious question is, "What the heck is a 'Falchion?'" Um, it's a sword, so now that we've taken care of that, we'll continue on to the next obvious question...which is...

"What the heck is a Silver Falchion Award?" Hah! Thanks for asking! This might shed some light:

*
"The Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award™ is committed to discovering new writers, as well as superlative books by established authors and, upon discovery, sharing those writers and their works with new readers.

This year, the awards were announced at the 2016 Silver Falchion Award Ceremony on August 20, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee, as part of the Killer Nashville Writers Conference.

The Conference was founded in 2006 by writer and filmmaker Clay Stafford as a trademarked charitable production of American Blackguard, Inc.  Since then, it has developed a reputation as a leading advocate for writers and readers of all genres.  Media analysis conducted by a third party in the fall of 2012 found that Killer Nashville was the most written about writers conference on the web..."
*
So there you have it! This link shows all the 2016 finalists and award winners.

"But wait," you ask, "if the awards were announced in August, why are you telling us now?" Well, to make a short story long, I'd asked my publisher, 47North, if they'd be willing to enter The Gemini Effect in the competition...and then I promptly forgot about it. I'm 52. It's a common theme these days. For example, I have no idea why I'm writing this right now, and I think I'll go downstairs and--OH YEAH! Now I remember! So, I was Google'ing myself last night (get your mind out of the gutter, Francis), looking to see if there might be any hidden early reviews for The Argus Deceit lurking out there, and I saw an entry for the Silver Falchion Award. "Why the heck would that be coming up?" I wondered, then after I clicked on it, I saw why. "I'll be darned," I said, then promptly forgot about it. Again. Until now.

I was certainly surprised, and happy. I'm honored that my crazy novel won the award, and very honored to join such past winners as Dean Koontz, Lisa Jackson, and John Sanford.

Thank you Killer Nashville, and to all the people who voted for The Gemini Effect. Way friggin' cool.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Publishers Weekly Starred Review for THE ARGUS DECEIT!

Well, this is a first for me...a starred review from Publishers Weekly for my upcoming novel THE ARGUS DECEIT!

"Grossart’s accomplished nonlinear novel is equally entertaining and suspenseful. The tale follows Brody Quail, whose existence is extraordinarily fractured. Slices of his memory have been lost or altered, and portions of his life are on endless repeat. He soon learns there is something sinister behind these gaps in his consciousness. As a man lurking in the shadows begins to hunt him, Brody is guided through his mental hell by Constance, a woman who has been in the background of all of his memories. Grossart’s narrative keeps the reader guessing; he draws back layers of mystery tantalizingly slowly, leaving the reader to piece together the grand puzzle, with an immensely rewarding payoff. His precise attention to detail stabilizes the disjointed narrative. Recalling Rod Serling’s setups in The Twilight Zone, Grossart plays with time and memory in a highly inventive way. He combines thought-provoking questions about memory with nail-biting suspense, creating a unique novel that shows what can be achieved when one pushes the boundaries of speculative fiction. Agent: Mark Gottlieb, Trident Media Group."

Wow. Just, wow.

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 Year in Review

Well, 2016, thank goodness I'm not a celebrity because I might just die before I finish writing this aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhh.... [Insert vision of a fat bald man slumped over his desk *here*]

Better now. Last night's pizza, don't you know. Gas bubble. Huge. I fainted.

Anywhooo, all jesting aside, apart from a very fugly, life-sucking presidential campaign (which went on way, waaay, waaaaay too long IMHO), 2016 was pretty darned cool!

Splits

On 28 Dec 15, I published my first novella-length work, titled Splits--it didn't really start selling until the next month, so I'm counting it as part of 2016. So there. The larger publishing houses aren't too interested in novellas (unless your name is Koontz or King), so hello Kindle Direct Publishing! Over three thousand copies of this little bugger went out the door in Oct during a five-day span, so I was pretty happy about that. Reviews have been decent, too. For those of you who asked for a sequel, well...stay tuned. ;)

The Phoenix Descent

In February, I started seeing some of the early reviews for The Phoenix Descent, and boy was I happy. When the book launched in March, I'll admit it wasn't quite as exciting as when The Gemini Effect first came out (first book and all), but I was still pumped! In the weeks that followed, I watched Phoenix rise (get it?) to #1 on the US and UK Kindle best seller lists for post-apocalyptic science fiction, and even #1 on the Australian Kindle best seller list for dystopian science fiction. G'Day, mates!

The Argus Deceit

In May, I signed the contract for my third book with 47North, titled The Argus Deceit. This book was a BLAST to write, and I hope my readers will like it as well. The first early reviews should be out in January, so keep your eyes peeled. Oh, did I mention you can pre-order a copy right now? No? Well, you can pre-order a copy right now. And one more thing about this book: You can pre-order a copy right now. ;) Official release date is 9 May 17.

Vetust Vex

I had so much fun writing Splits, I decided to drag another story that I'd been working on for a couple of years out into the light of day. I released Vetust Vex on Halloween, and I really like the response so far. It's a horror story, plain and simple, so if you haven't read it yet, be forewarned. And, like the book description says, be careful what you touch. Mwah hah hah.

So, what did I read this year? I read a lot of stuff (mostly when I should've been writing my OWN stuff), but one particular set of books really stood out. I discovered Sam Sisavath's Purge of Babylon series, and BOY was I HOOKED! I highly recommend this series if you're fan of post-apocalyptic science fiction. Start with The Purge of Babylon, and then hold on tight through the next eight books!


Sam's characters are great, his "ghouls" are terrifying, and I couldn't stop reading one book after another! Sam is also a nice guy...I wrote him to tell him how much I liked his books, and he responded immediately. Give his stories a try!

So as 2016 draws to a close, I have to say it's been a great year writing-wise. I'm looking forward to the release of The Argus Deceit in May, and then hopefully a couple of months later we'll [REDACTED-I CAN'T TALK ABOUT IT YET] and that'll be cool! Right now, I'm working on another novel, tentatively titled The Erinyes Wave, that will hopefully find a publisher in 2017. Fingers crossed!

As always, I want to thank YOU, my readers, who make all the hours I spend at my laptop worthwhile. Keep reading, and have a wonderful New Year!

- Chuck

Monday, December 12, 2016

Great Interview with Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group

For everyone out there who is trying to land an agent, listen to what Mark Gottlieb from Trident Media Group has to say. Great advice for writers, and great insights into the differences between self-publishing and the traditional publishing process.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

Loving the response for Vetust Vex!

So far, my novella Vetust Vex has garnered some great reviews! This little sucker has sat in my "to do" pile for a long time, and I'm glad I finally finished it.

If you haven't read it yet (and I hope you do), here's a little "heads-up" info: If you’ve read my short story Release (part of Scattered Bones), you know that story also deals with evil residing within an object. At the end of Release, I added a blurb that surely applies to this story as well: 

My wife and I sometimes like to browse through antique stores. We always end up with itchy, swollen fingers & runny noses from the dust (and God knows what else), but we enjoy it just the same. Personally, I like to look through the stacks of old pictures and wonder about the people staring back at me—surely long-dead and forgotten, but still alive in the form of a photo. What were their lives like? What did they do for a living? Were they good people? Or, maybe not so good? The stories those faces could tell.

I also appreciate the old books, not so much for the stories they contain, but more so for the people who have held them, tuned their pages, and escaped for a time within the printed words.


Pictures & books, all inanimate objects. Old, discarded, and for the most part, destined for the rubbish heap. But . . . are they really all that harmless?


A friend once told me a story about a painting she’d acquired, a somewhat creepy scene of a grizzled sailor and a lighthouse. It was a gift, so what does one do with a gift? One hangs it up, right? She did.


And that’s when the nightmares started.


Strange, upsetting dreams, unlike anything she’d ever experienced.


She got rid of the picture, and the nightmares stopped. Just like that.


Coincidence? It was, after all, just a painting. Oil on canvas, nothing more. But what if there were something more to it?


If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my fifty-plus years, it’s that we don’t know nearly as much as we think we do. Who’s to say the painting didn’t carry with it some of the less desirable qualities of its painter? Or, maybe the painter himself was trapped within the swirls of oil paint, radiating the twisted thoughts and dark intentions that guided his actions in life. Hmmm . . .
 
So again, if you haven't read it yet, I invite you to give it a go . . . but be careful what you touch.

Monday, September 12, 2016

BRODY4 has a new title...THE ARGUS DECEIT!

Well, it took over a month, and over 80 different title possibilities, but we (the 47North team and I) finally settled on a title that captures the novel perfectly. Look for THE ARGUS DECEIT this spring!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

First Draft of BRODY4 is Complete!

It was after 11:00 p.m. last night, but I finally got to type those two little words that every writer strives for . . . THE END.

The first draft for BRODY4 is complete. My delivery date to 47North is 15 September, so I'm a little early. ;) The story really flowed, and was a lot of fun to write. Now, though, the hard work begins; editing. For the next week or so, my wife and I will be going over the manuscript line by line and making any corrections we think it needs before sending it off to Jason Kirk at 47North.


Friday, July 15, 2016

Reddit Author Spotlight THIS SUNDAY, 17 July!

If you have the time this coming Sunday, 17 Jul, I invite you to join me on Reddit.  I'll be hanging out on www.reddit.com/r/books starting at 11:00 a.m. eastern time. Look for an entry of mine titled "Author Spotlight" and come on in!  Ask me anything about my novels, short stories, or writing in general.  See you there!


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Do you want to write a novel? Okay, let’s talk WORD COUNT goals!


You’ve made the decision. You’re ready. You’ve done all your research, outlined, plotted, developed character trait charts, stuck spreadsheets/yellow sitckies/strings-and-tacks all over your plot wall (if you’re one of THOSE writers, which I’m not) and it’s time to sit down at the desk (or kitchen table, or on the couch, or outside if it’s summer, or outside in the winter if you’re a Yeti) or wherever you like to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard, and all you have in front of you is an uncharted expanse of BLANK.

It’s time to write your novel.

So. Are you done yet? No? You mean to tell me it’s been seven months, and you’re still stuck at the beginning? What the heck is wrong with you! Are ya ig’nant!? [That last bit is a conversation I’ve had with myself many times in the past … many, many times.]

Before we talk about word count—and setting a daily goal—let’s talk about novel writing in general. There are tons and tons of resources out there to help you with the basics, so I’m not going to delve into any of those (you can look them up yourself, unless, of course, you ARE ig’nant, or a Raiders fan). The biggest thing to realize is that every writer approaches a project differently—some spend hours and hours “prepping the battlefield” with outlines, plot charts, character bio development, etc., and others don’t. The right way to do it, quite honestly, is what works for YOU.

Personally, my prep work isn’t very extensive compared to other writers I know … I do as much as I need to do get a basic soup-to-nuts story arc in my noggin, figure out my character’s basic traits, and BANG goes the starter’s pistol: Write, write, write, edit, edit, edit, write, write, write, repeat until done. Sounds easy, right? Whatever. What’s that old adage? “If it were easy, it isn’t worth doing?” Or is it, “Anything worth doing isn’t going to be easy?” You get my drift. It’s not easy. It’s a challenge. But it’s definitely worth it.

My first self-published novel, THE COMING, took a couple of years to write; started it in 2001, finished in 2003.  My second self-published novel, THE MENGELE EFFECT, took a couple of years as well. Why so long? Writing wasn’t my “day job” then, and it isn’t my “day job” now either. I write when I can, which is usually late at night for a few hours a day. For those first two novels, I didn’t have a set goal in sight for how long I wanted them to be, or when I wanted to complete them. They were done when I typed THE END. In hindsight, that wasn’t the best way to approach it. So … what is?

Set yourself a goal. Pick a completion date. If you’re lucky, and have a book under contract with a publisher, you’ve got a set delivery date. If you’re self-pubbing, you can set that date for yourself. In any rate, that target date is important (at least it is for me).

Some people I know like to say things like, “I just HAVE to write! I can’t help myself! If I don’t get the words out of my head, I’ll go crazy! I have to write for my SANITY! HAHAHAHAHAhaha!” To which, I usually smile politely, and slowly back away. Not only does that sound like they're a prime candidate for suffering some sort of psychotic break, it’s not a problem I have, let me tell you. The words are in my head, but they can stay there, nice and quiet, behaving themselves, until I let them out … when I have the time set aside to do so. Anyway, the words don’t make me crazy, it’s all those damn voices. Wait, strike that. I’m fine. Really. Don’t tell.

So, you have a target date set. Good for you. Now, meet it.

Done yet? No, again? Well let’s talk word count.

In my chosen genre (and where I am in my writing career), 80K words is the “sweet spot” for novel length, so let’s use that for our discussion. To get to that ~80K final word count, figure out what a comfortable daily word count goal would be … for YOU. Personally, I’ve found 600 words-per-day is a comfortable pace. That’s ~133 days total to hit that 80K goal. 600 words is roughly two double-spaced manuscript pages (Times New Roman, 12pt font); doesn’t sound like much, does it? If you tackle that much, every day, day after day, you’ll be amazed at how quickly it adds up. Now, some people partake in “nanowrimo” (National Novel Writing Month, held in November every year) where they pump-out a min-50K novel in 30 days. That equates to (if my cipherin’ is correct) 1,666 words per day (a Satanic pace, kinda), every single day in November. I’ve never done nanowrimo, and more power to those who do and meet or exceed that goal, but it demonstrates how much you can get accomplished if you set your mind to it. And, quite simply, that’s the key; set your mind to it. Write every day, even if you don’t particularly want to. There’s an 80K-elephant in front of you, and you have to eat the whole thing … one bite at a time. Take some big bites, nibble a little here and there, but never stop eating that friggin’ pachyderm. *burp*

When I wrote THE PHOENIX DESCENT, I set a 600 word-per-day goal. Did I follow it? Uh … nope. We had a trip to Texas which took some writing days away, and an extended trip to Disneyland which took even more days away … and to top it off, I was lazy. There were periods of days at a time when I couldn’t get myself to plop down in front of my laptop and write. With a delivery date staring me in the face, I ended up writing 14K words in one weekend to get that first draft finished. Some authors I know can—and do—write that much as a rule (crazy bastards), but for me, I was exhausted, brain dead, and suffered from acute caffeine/nicotine poisoning (if there is such a thing)! I swore I would NEVER do that again. I’d tried to eat the elephant too quickly, and the elephant kicked my arse. So, when the time came for me to write my next novel (BRODY4), I took the daily word count goal much more seriously.

What I use to track daily progress (shown below) works for me—there are programs out there that’ll do the same thing, or so I hear, but I use Word. I’m in my 50’s, so give me a break. I still don’t know how a cell phone works either.

The screen shot below is my daily word count tracker for BRODY4, current as of Friday, 1 Jul 16. We’ll go over each part of it. If it helps you formulate something similar to help you meet your novel writing goal, great. If you use something better that works for you, that’s great too. The important thing is having something that shows you exactly where you are, day by day, toward meeting your writing goal.




 If you look at the top of the first page, you’ll see I had about 16% of the 80K novel written when I agreed to terms with the publisher for BRODY4. They originally wanted me to deliver the draft by 1 Aug, but I knew for me that was a non-starter; I’d need more time based on how much I felt I could comfortably write every day. We settled on 15 Sep. So, I had ~ 4 ½ months to get the rest of the novel finished. On 12 May, I sat down in front of the elephant and started nibbling. 14K already written, 66K to go to hit the minimum 80K word count. BANG went the starter’s pistol, on went the Keurig, and *pop* went the Copenhagen cans!

First Column
What this shows is the current date (duh) and how many days are left until delivery (counting down to zero). Weekdays are white, and weekends/days off from work are in gray. Any time away from home (and writing) is light yellow.

Second Column
Daily word count goal. It may seem silly to list the same thing over and over again, but to me it’s a daily reminder that I need to hit that 600-word mark before I get up from my desk and have a beer. And I love beer. I brew it myself, but that’s not important right now …

Third Column
Shows how many words I wrote that day, and whether or not I exceeded my goal, or fell short. You can see that on most days, I’ve gone over 1,000 words per day, but some days I wrote way less that 600 (such as on 2 and 9 Jun). I didn’t really want to write on those days (whine whine whine), but I still wrote SOMETHING, which at the end of the day helped my overall motivation, believe it or not.  Falling short now and then, though, is okay, because of what the next column shows …

Fourth Column
This shows how many words I am over my 600 word per day goal. For example, even though I didn’t write much on 18-20 May, I was still 3.6 days ahead of schedule. This column is a biggie, because it adds up pretty quickly if you exceed your daily goal. For example, look at the entry for 21 Jun 16; I was 25 days ahead of schedule at that point. To me, that’s a motivator. It also lets me know how much wiggle room I have, in case life’s normal events take precedence over writing (which they usually do). If you have a family, a day job, and a mortgage, you know exactly what I’m talking about, right? Right.

Fifth Column
In this column, I formulate my plan for infiltrating the highest levels of government with my army of bald-headed minions and taking over when the time is … Oops. Wrong Fifth Column discussion. Forget you read that part. Now.

What THIS fifth column does is show how many words I’ve written, in total. This is also a motivator for me, because I can see how quickly every 10K block of words rolls by. It also shows me how many words I have left until I hit that min-80K goal. For example, as of 1 Jul, I have 56,147 words written so far; that leaves me with 23,853 to go to 80K. What this allows me to do is calculate a “floating target date” for that 80K mark, based on both 600 words-per-day, and 1,000 words-per-day (which I added-in since I’m usually writing over 1K a day anyway). Using 600 as a guide, I’ll hit the 80K mark on 10 Aug; using 1,000, I’ll hit 80K on 25 Jul (the light green lines). I adjust both of these dates after each day of writing. Again, it’s another motivator for me.

So, that’s it. This type of sheet works for me. You might wonder, though, why I wanted 15 Sep as a delivery date when I’ll clearly hit the min-80K mark prior to that date, maybe even more than a month out? Well, this is all based on hitting that contractually-obligated 80K word mark. Will the novel be completed when I hit 80K words? I have no clue. Using THE PHOENIX DESCENT as an example, when I hit 80K words, the novel wasn’t close to being complete; it actually took me ~32K more words until I got to the ending I wanted (first draft was ~112K words). I also didn’t allow myself enough time to re-work the manuscript as much as I should have prior to sending the draft to my editor. Lessons learned, which I incorporated into my completion schedule for BRODY4. I’ll hit 80K prior to 15 Sep with no problem, and I’ll deliver the completed draft to my editor prior to that date as well, but I have a buffer now from the time I first type THE END until the draft is up to snuff and ready to send.

There you have it. Hope this was helpful in some way. If so, let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

Now I have to get to work … I haven’t written my 600 words yet today!
[insert sound of a cracking whip *here*]

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Reddit Books Author Spotlight - July 17, 2016

Mark your calendars! Reddit Books has given me the opportunity to participate in one of their Author Spotlight sessions.

On July 17, 2016, starting at 11:00 a.m. EDT, I'll be hanging out here [https://www.reddit.com/r/books] answering any questions about THE PHOENIX DESCENT, my other books, my upcoming novel BRODY4, and writing in general (or whatever the heck you want to talk about).

Yeah, I know, July 17 is over a month away. SO WHAT! I'm kinda excited about this. I'll send out more reminders before the actual event . . . but I'll probably have to use another picture because as soon as my wife sees this one, she'll just shake her head, sigh, and say, "Charlie, you're weird.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Outstanding Pre-Release Reviews for The Phoenix Descent!

Every author enjoys seeing a work earn 5-star praise from a reader, but when it happens before the book is officially released, it's even more special. The Phoenix Descent, to be released on 15 March 2016, has earned two great reviews on Goodreads from early readers so far. Here's a couple of links; one to Raging Book Reviews (which also appears on Goodreads) and another to a Goodreads review.

I certainly hope other readers find The Phoenix Descent to their liking as much as these two did!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Current WIP - "The Coin"

I'm kind of in a lull right now--I have two novel proposals with my editor at 47North, and I'm waiting to hear what he thinks. In the meantime, I've pulled an unfinished short story out of my personal slush pile and started working on it again. As of today, I figure I'm about 1/3 of the way done with the initial draft, and it looks like it'll end up being my second novella-length work.  It's titled, The Coin, and here's a little taste:

***





Last written word of J. Winstead
Provided by Nebraska State Penitentiary staff, Lincoln, NE

[8/17/96]

8:54 p.m.

I’ll be dead in a few hours.
It’s an odd feeling, counting down the final minutes of one’s life, knowing full well what’s coming & being completely powerless to prevent it. For me, there’s no more legal wrangling to endure, no useless pleas for mercy. All I have left after seven years in this hell hole is a borrowed pen, a yellow legal pad, and my thoughts.
I don’t expect a last-minute call from the Governor to spare my life. If I were in his shoes, I’d let me die at the hands of the Great State of Nebraska, too. If you happen to read this, Mr. Nelson, you’re not killing an innocent man tonight—you can rest easy knowing that—but you are killing.
I often wondered—once I resigned myself to the fact there was no hope of avoiding my sentence—how it would feel when they carried it out. I’ve viewed these things before, in person.  It’s never pretty, even when it goes off without a hitch. When it doesn’t go according to plan, it’s gruesome. I’ve seen that, too.
I’ll admit, I’m scared.
Some would say I’ve “found God” while in prison, and I suppose that’s somewhat true. It’s a common thing for those who spend their days behind bars. You’d be surprised how many long-term convicts develop a passion for reading the Bible. Crappy timing, but better late than never, right?
When the end comes, some will choose to say something about going home, God forgives, Jesus saves, whatever. There’s no final peace waiting for me, though, no matter what I say.
Have I prayed? Of course I have, but I don’t believe it’ll make a difference. There are some wrongs for which a person can ask forgiveness—and receive it—but there are also crimes that are unforgivable. Even by the Big Man. Even if you beg.

***