Sunday, April 28, 2013

Silverville Saga, Book I - now available!

Start the Silverville Saga at the beginning with Book One,
Little Greed Men, just released in late April.

(and coming as an e-book in early May)

What happens when a town's local resident spots a UFO?

Silverville sees nothing but dollar signs.

First an amusement park and museum, then a celestial motif for the whole town. Con artists and embezzlers, tourists and kooks, all get caught up in the frenzy, some hoping to make a quick buck, others seeking a spiritual message from beyond the stars.

Ride along on this irreverent adventure that reveals Colorado mountain culture at its most outrageous, and where just about everybody shares in the madness of money, murder, and mayhem.

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The book originally came out through Ghost Road Press and became a One Book/One Valley reading, a  Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Fiction Award nominee, and a recommended reading at the Library of Congress by the Washington Center for the Book.

We're very excited the book has now moved to its new home at Raspberry Creek Books, which reissued the story as Little Greed Men: Book One of the Silverville Saga in a new (and once again more affordable) trade paperback..

We've also revised this new edition and, although it can be read as a standalone (all the Silverville books can), we've inserted foreshadowing for the three books in the series that follow.

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and a widening circle of independent bookstores.

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Praise for Little Greed Men

I loved this book. It's trite to say I couldn't put it down, but that's the truth. Even more, I'm looking forward to the next book by the Todds. Great plot development, and they nailed the characters and the setting. It's hard to believe this is a first novel. This is a thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining book filled with humor, intrigue, and likeable, memorable characters. It starts at an attention-snagging pace and grows throughout. A delicious romp through a tight adventure.
 W.C. Jameson, History Channel commentator and author of eighty books about the West, more recently the novel Beating the Devil and the biography Billy the Kid: Beyond the Grave
Any reader in the West will recognize Silverville with a knowing grin – and often enough, a knowing shudder. The Todds have written a funny book about a townful of people we’d just as soon know from a literary distance but suspect we might live next door to – or maybe even closer…. This book about close encounters of every kind is further evidence that any search for intelligent life in the universe might not stop very long at our planet.
– George Sibley, New York Times best-selling author of Part of a Winter,  Dragons in Paradise and, most recently, the historical nonfiction Water Wranglers
How far will a mountain town go to get more tourists? Clear to Arcturus, maybe, and along the way to the stars, there are con men, scam artists, hustlers, perhaps even a few honest citizens -- a howling funny ride all the way.
– Ed Quillen, syndicated columnist for The Denver Post and former co-publisher of Colorado Central magazine.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

An interview with fictioneer Teresa Milbrodt

[This is part of our monthly series of guest posters.]

We wanted to talk directly to Teresa Milbrodt about her stories and books. She’s writes magical realism, fantasy, and just plain weird fiction. She has three large mailbags full of rejection letters she’s collected over the past 10 years, but that’s okay. It gives her a bit of a vantage point – a throne, if you will – to gloat over the fact she now publishes four to six stories in major lit journals every year.

And with two books under her belt and two more forthcoming next year, she’s a force unto herself!

But we’re concerned all these fantastic plots and characters may be unhinging her a bit, and so we decided to get to the source:

An interview with “Cyclops,”
one of Teresa Milbrodt’s fictional characters

Kym-n-Mark: We want to thank you for agreeing to talk to us secretly.

Cyclops: Yeah, whatever.

Kym-n-Mark:  Uh, okay. Well, if this intervention for Teresa is going to work, we need to understand why she’s teetering on the edge of so much … weirdness. There’s just no other way to put it.

Cyclops: Tell me about it.

Kym-n-Mark:  And we know you are major character in her new novel, The Patron Saint of Unattractive People. We think you may be essential in helping her reconnect with reality. So, Cyclops, tell us why you think she spends so much time in your head. Or is it the other way around?

Cyclops: Talk about needing to reconnect with reality!  I mean, she’s an okay writer and all, but she couldn’t make a decent espresso to save her life.  What business does she have writing about coffee shops
and baristas if she’s never made a double-shot mocha? You can’t write about working in the trenches if you’ve never been in them, I say. And she gave me absolutely no love life for the better part of thirty-seven years.  I mean really, doesn’t she think I’d like to get out from time to time and have a little fun?  Just because she’s a crazy workaholic doesn’t mean I have to be one, too.  At least she didn’t make me a vegetarian.  God, that would have been awful...

Kym-n-Mark: Okay, okay, we get it. But back on topic, how would you suggest –

Cyclops: She also let my mom take up smoking again, and I don’t know if I can forgive her for that one.  Have you seen those lung tissue samples that they have on display in science museums, you know, in those exhibits about the dangers of tobacco?  Disgusting, but then my mom has to go back to her half-pack-a-day habit thanks to my dad stressing her out.  Why couldn’t she send them to a good marriage counselor rather than letting my mom get back to old habits?  She’s tried to tell me a bunch of B.S. about the cigarettes being good for plot and tension because it pissed Dad off as much as it pissed me off, but
really, this is my mom’s life we’re talking about.  I’m sure she wouldn’t like it if I made her mom take up smoking.

Kym-n-Mark: Er, Cyclops, we really wanted to talk about Teresa and her problems with reality.

Cyclops: She didn’t even let me have a proper name.  I’m just the cyclops woman throughout the entire book, and what’s up with that?  But I guess she gave me a cool record collection.  That’s one nice thing I can say about her.  Get back to me in a while, and I might have come up with something else.

Kym-n-Mark:  Uh, yeah, maybe we will. And we’ll let you know how the intervention works out.

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The Patron Saint of Unattractive People is forthcoming in September, 2013, from Boxfire Press.

In the meantime, check out her backstory at her Website, where you can read some of her selected published and unpublished stories, excerpts from forthcoming works, and deleted scenes from various projects.

 Be sure to check out these video clips of Teresa reading from her "Larissa" alter-ego series (the short story collection is forthcoming next year!)

(Thanks, Teresa, for playing along!)

All gestes aside, we invite you to comment or visit with Teresa. She – or one of her fictional alter-egos – are bound to answer!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Backing into the YA Market

We always figured our writing was for our own amusement. Sure, we hoped to see our novels in print, but the real purpose of the projects was about writing together, having fun, and putting characters into impossible situations.

Plus we never fail to become amused at ourselves when we write. If anyone else thinks our stories are entertaining, that’s pure gravy (hm, maybe even groovy).

What we never expected was how popular our first Silverville Saga story, The Silverville Swindle, would become among young adults. That wasn’t the market we targeted, and the novel certainly didn’t fit any of the standard tropes for the genre. Our main characters were all thirtysomethings, and the situation hardly concerned coming-of-age themes.

But before we knew it, one courageous school librarian had suggested the book to her students, and it soon
found its way into a several school libraries based on the logline (“What if a small town tried to cash in on a local UFO sighting?”) In six month’s time, students across the state had nominated it for the Colorado Blue Spruce Award for Young Adult Fiction. Other librarians took notice, and the book went into a slew of public libraries in the region. When we later started shopping around the sequel, editors and agents scratched their heads and told us the success in that market was a fluke. The story just didn’t fit the model.

But when Raspberry Creek Books took a chance on us, the second novel in the series, All Plucked Up, received a nomination for the Colorado Book Award in YA Fiction. And we still thought we were writing for adults. Maybe our humor is juvenile – or maybe it’s universal (we hope).

We’re finally learning to embrace the market’s found us, and the forthcoming third book in the series, The Magicke Outhouse (no potty humor intended – well, perhaps just a little), features a couple of characters that fit YA genre expectations. But the story’s still not about capturing younger readers.

That first novel in the series were through several editions, even landing on the Washington Center for the Book’s recommended reading list at the Library of Congress. Now, as we see Silverville Saga, Book One reincarnated into Little Greed Men, we hope it finds a new audience – one that likes to laugh.

Still, most of all we’re just trying to have fun, amusing ourselves along the way. Of course, we hope others find our humor entertaining – even adults.

And having an audience find us is still just gravy.

Which is also groovy.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Countdown for Little Greed Men's release is on!

Our new publisher for the Silverville Saga series, Raspberry Creek Books, has sent Little Greed Men to the printers, so the countdown is on for street release at the end of April.

Stay tuned for sneak-peeks about the book in coming days.

In the meantime, be sure to sign up for the Goodreads Giveaway.

And check our Goodreads author pages and Amazon author pages for upcoming readings and other promos to celebrate Books One and Two of this paranormal comedy-adventure. (Book Three on the way at the end of the year or early next year!)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Death by (over)outlining

Picture this: You, sitting at your keyboard. It’s day 100 of writing your first book. You’ve drained the coffeepot once again, considered breaking into the brandy, and now you’ve discovered a little bald spot where you’ve torn your hair out. Where’s the book going?

Maybe nowhere, unless you have a plan, a roadmap, an outline.

We’ve talked to writers who actually avoid this detail. They have a vague notion of their yarn and they’re anxious to start writing, not spin their wheels on this organizational modus operandi. But for some writers (and we’re probably not the only ones) drafting an outline is the most efficient way to advance the story without the show-stopper of “what comes next.”

For us, it makes sense. Once we have an overall notion of our book’s beginning, middle and end, we fill in the gaps with chapter road signs that move the story forward. But we didn’t figure it out right away. After multiple attempts at outlining techniques (more on one of those fiascos in a minute), we finally discovered the “less is more” approach gives us wiggle room for changes.

Chapter Six of The Magic Outhouse: Buford decides to turn his time machine into a business.

Okay, not much to go on for an entire chapter. But if you’re already at chapter six, you know your novel has the capacity to take on a life of its own. The evolution of story starts the moment you develop your first characters, and they may have better ideas than you about where the tale should go. By not getting too specific on your roadmap, you’re free to take as many detours as you want.

So Buford decides to start the business. But maybe by chapter five he’s picked up a new partner, or he’s wound up in jail and can’t find the financing.

Each chapter nugget (if it still even fits) of the outline will need a few bullet points. If Buford isn’t in jail, he might look for a business location, interview new employees and implement everything else involved in starting a new venture. Now you’re in the driver’s seat and can start collaborating with your characters without sacrificing additional hair.

One of our earlier fiascos (as promised) involved drafting an outline for a historical fiction novel on ancient Egypt. We spent months researching the topic – years actually, if you count the time we spent trying to learn hieroglyphs. Once we felt pretty good about our expertise, we jumped into the outline. And what a thorough outline it was. Each of the twenty chapters turned into a page or more of precise details. When we finally began the book, we slogged through about three or four scenes before we became utterly bored with the story. We’d left no wiggle room to invent or improvise, no opportunity for our characters to evolve and no chance to discover fresh turning points in the story. The outline had so shackled us to its rigid constraints, we decided to ditch the project altogether.

For us, the bare-bones outline works. We write chapter "loglines" for where the story might go, but we only flesh out the immediate chapter ahead with a paragraph to focus our attention on the next five to ten pages. That way, we avoid planning out in detail where we may – or may not – be headed.

You be the judge of how intricate your roadmap should be, and how you embark on your initial journey. Otherwise, you might as well start shopping for a jaunty hairpiece.

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So much for our strategy. We’d love to hear how other folks approach their projects.