Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Steel Victory with J.L. Gribble?

? Gribble
Today at the Blog Mansion we have J.L. Gribble, a.k.a Hanna Gribble who’s here to talk about her new book Steel Victory.

Johnny: I understand J.L. is pseudonym. May I call you Trevor?

Hanna: No.

J: Why not.

H: That’s not my real name.

J: What is it?

H: Tricky question. I write under J.L. because my real name is Johanna Lynn. But I go by Hanna because that is my personal name…or at least the name I call myself in my head.

J: Pishaw…. What’s in a name? I mean a name is just a label, a place to pigeonhole someone.

H: You’re going somewhere with this, aren’t you?

J: Why, yes….

H: I will allow it. Proceed.

J: A name is a personal genre—you more than anyone should understand the limitations of being so limited.

H. Ah…but if names exist only in our minds, do not the limitations, as well?

J: Yes, Susan, you begin to see now.

H: Susan, now?

J: Consider your genre-crossing new book, Raoul, Steel Victory. On first blush, I’d have to say it’s an alternate history, urban fantasy, horror. What’d I miss?

H: Less horror, more post-apocalyptic. Which some say is horror, but if the characters in the book don’t actually know their world is post-apocalyptic, is it really?

J: What’s it about exactly, Bill? Tell us about it. Long pitch.

H: In Steel Victory, the independent city-state of Limani is beset from within by human separatists and from without by the territory-hungry Roman Empire. The city’s lone vampire and her adopted warrior-mage daughter must join forces with the other supernatural creatures of Limani to defend their city, their culture, and their very lives.

J: So sequels possible?

H: Absolutely! The first sequel, Steel Magic, is slated for release later in 2016, and I’m just shy of finishing up book 3, Steel Blood. Overall, I’m planning a 7-book arc, with ideas for shorter stories that happen as prequels and in between the novels.

J: What age group, Lana, would you say it’s aimed at?

H: The target age group is adults, but the young adult and new adult markets will find my work easily accessible as well.

J: What was the inspiration for Steel Victory, Maria?

H: Primarily, an urban fantasy world that didn’t look like our own. An urban fantasy world where supernatural creatures have always existed in the open, and how that might affect the course of human history. More specifically, an urban fantasy novel where the vampires have mature, adult relationships and where magic follows logical rules.

J: How long did it take you to write, Chrissy?

H: Two years, over the course of the Seton Hill University (SHU) Writing Popular Fiction graduate program. I spent three semesters cranking out the first draft, and the final semester editing and polishing. I’m getting faster, though! The sequel took about a year, and book 3 is shaping up to be about nine months. I’ve had a full-time job through this entire adventure, as well.

J: Jerry, how did you go from writer to author? What was your journey like to get this into print?

H: After I graduated SHU in 2007, I did all the right things. Submitted to agents, mingled at conventions, started a social media presence. Unfortunately, this little thing known as Twilight was happening at the same time, and mostly people were confused about why someone would write a vampire book without vampire sex in it. (Spoiler alert: There’s no vampire sex in this one.) So I spent a few years focusing on my day job career and playing a lot of video games. Finally, the world was once again ready for urban fantasy that didn’t also double as paranormal romance. There have been a lot of changes in the publishing industry in the past few years, but I’m excited to be getting my start now.

J: Really, why the pseudonym, Horatio? Why not use your real name? Whose idea was that?

H: Because I go by a “Hanna” that rhymes with “Donna” rather than “banana.” Which is really hard to convey through text, and I didn’t want to get introduced as the wrong name for the rest of my professional writing career. “J.L.” is safely androgynous, even though I don’t specifically try to hide my gender as a female writer. I’m happy to answer to both!

J: Okay. Oh, I do love your cover of Steel Victory, Xavier. Did you get much of a say in its design?

H: I gave the amazing artist, Brad Sharp, a bunch of information about how I viewed the characters, what types of clothing they wore and weapons they carried, and general setting descriptions. What he submitted in return absolutely blew me away. I was able to make a few minor suggestions after the first draft stage, and I don’t think the cover could be more perfect. I am 100 percent okay with people judging a book by its cover in this case—I can’t tell you how many people have picked up a copy just to admire it. I’m thrilled to see what Sharp will come up with for Steel Magic. To see more of his artwork, visit him online at or on Instagram @bradsharp_art!

J: Tell me about your publisher, Dog Star Books, Pauline. Good to work with?

H: Dog Star Books, and parent company Raw Dog Screaming Press, are a great crew to work with. They are focused on both publishing quality writing but also working with excellent people. DogCon, their annual roaming convention, ends up being more like a family reunion for both the writers and fans.

J: Can you put in a good word for me? I’d be perfect. I write cross genre too -  literary horror, magical realistic coming of age, comedy, satire detective stuff.

H: Under what name?

J: Just mine, Gregoius IV, I’m too lazy to do all the cross platforming. Where on the interwebs can people find you under your many identities?

H: Here and there! Please feel free to follow me on social media for conversations about writing and editing, the adventures of my Friday-night RPG group, and way too many pictures of my ridiculous Siamese cats.






J: Excellent, Hanna.

H: Ha! That was my real name.

J: Oops. Uhm… where’s my baby name book? Yes, that was just a random answer, Greg. Even a blind clock comes home when there’s shadow.

H: That made no sense.

J: Welcome to the Blog Mansion.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Horror Comes to Utah!


Horror Comes to Utah!

Provo, Utah.

The World Horror Convention, an international gathering of horror writers, artists, editors, filmmakers, and fans, will converge on the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center in Provo, Utah, April 28 to May 1, 2016.  This premiere event has been to Salt Lake City twice.  For the third, and final, appearance in Utah, it will be in Provo.

WHC, a semi-professional conference, will have panels and presentations featuring professionals in the field on subjects as diverse as current literature, true crime, horror poetry, dark fantasy, horror art, Vincent Price, the developmental stages of a serial killer, Cracking the Story Code, Police Procedurals for Writers, and the dark side of Disney.  A special "killer tea" will feature a keynote speaker who will help authors find creative ways to kill people with food.  The event includes an art show, vendors' room, horror film festival, kaffeeklatsches, and book signing by 100 horror authors.  Workshops and pitch sessions will be available for writers and an artist alley will showcase artists at work.  Guests will also have the opportunity to go on a real ghost hunt.

The event will feature some of the top authors in horror fiction, including Darren Shan, Sarah Pinborough, Jack Ketchum, Joe McKinney, Brian Keene, Kevin J. Anderson, Michaelbrent Collings, Michael Arnzen, and Dan Wells.  It will also feature poet Linda Addison, cover and concept artist Keith Thompson, graphic novel and cover artist, Carter Reid and scholar, editor and author, Michael R. Collings.  In addition, Victoria Price, daughter of famed actor Vincent Price, will do a presentation on her father and have some of his work available for sale.  There will also be a number of academic presentations on true crime.

The World Horror Convention, established in 1991, is the premiere event for horror fans and professionals alike.  It is held in a different location every year and celebrates the horror genre.  The 2016 World Horror Convention will showcase a growing community of professional authors and artists in Utah as well as a number of guests from around the world.

Help Utah welcome the world to The ZomBee State!  Go to for more information on the convention and how to become a member.


Media contact:
Charlene Harmon
(801) 252-1413

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Holli Anderson - Five

Holli Anderson, Author and Nurse
Today YA Urban Fantasy Author Holli Anderson joins me at the Blog Mansion.

Holli: This is a big place. Kinda’ chilly, I’m wishing I would have brought a space heater.

Johnny: It’s a pain to heat in the winter. Don’t ask me what I use for fuel in the furnace. I thought we’d talk here. I’m always about making my guests comfortable.

H: That’s not what I’ve heard?

J: Rumors. Anyone who could say otherwise can’t say.

H: This looks like a hospital wing. **sniffing** But smells more like…

J: Yep. Besides being an author, I know you moonlight as a nurse. I thought this would make you feel comfortable.

H: Yes. All nurses love their jobs. Who’re they?

J: Those are the patients I had brought in especially for you. That’s Tim he has a bad MRSA infection.

H: Uhm…

J: Feel at home now?

H: Uhm…

J: That’s Chrissy there, she’s demented with the worse case of Tourette’s Syndrome I could find.


H: Uhm…. No worse than a typical Friday night in the ER.

Chrissy: And you, you <CENSORED> <CENSORED> <CENSORED> and the <CENSORED> you rode in on!

H: Uhm… Okay, maybe a little worse. Geodon anyone?

J: I really enjoyed FIVE, OUT OF THE DARK. A fine read, just the thing for me over the holidays. Where’d the idea for it come from?

H: The idea actually evolved from a dream I had where a group of teenagers was running from something or someone in an underground setting. I wrote it down in the middle of the night so I wouldn’t forget it, then I let it sit for 6 months or so until I was ready to write it. I added the magic, because, well, MAGIC.

J: The setting was unique. I really loved the underground of Seattle. Tell me about that.

H: Well, there are several “undergrounds” in the United States and I was originally going to have them settle in Chicago—that was before I found out that Seattle has an underground. I researched the story of Seattle’s Underground (Seattlites get mad if you don’t capitalize Underground) and was impressed with the uniqueness of how it came to be. I visited Seattle and went on the Underground tour twice. I did add my own artistic license to the story to make it possible for my FIVE to actually live down there.

J: I was particularly taken by how you formed a family unit among the runaway teenagers. It was gentle and realistic. Did you ever run away?

H: No, I was a pretty drama-less teenager. I did start walking to see my friend in the next town over once when I was about ten because my mom wouldn’t give me a ride. I turned around after walking about a block, though.

J: Nice romantic tension too. I won’t ask what you sacrificed for love, but was it crippling?

H: Uhm… No?

J: Oh, hey, I had a guy here for you with a collapsed lung, but thanks to the instructions in FIVE: OUT OF THE DARK I took care of it.

H: Glad I could be of service.

J: Book Two is called, scary enough, FIVE: OUT OF THE PIT. What’s that about?

H: You’ll just have to read it to find out. Okay! Okay! Don’t cry, sheesh. I’ll tell you a little. The FIVE travel to Moab, Utah in hopes of finding some peacefulness where they can train and rest up. Let’s just say that meeting up with an Incubus that sets his sights on Paige, kind of destroys that idea right away. Then there’s the evil warlock bent on destroying the world as we know it. That’s where the “Pit” comes in.

J: Then you get all apocalyptic with FIVE: OUT OF THE ASHES. Pray tell.

H: Apocalyptic is a good way to describe what’s going on. The warlock, Brone, has become immensely more powerful and the FIVE have to figure out how to stop him. All I have to say about this one is—poor, poor Paige. *shudders*

J: Sweet covers by the way. Did you get much say in them?

H: I did! Curiosity Quills (my publisher) is really great about getting author input into the covers. The kids on the covers are actually two of my sons, two of my nieces, and my niece’s husband. A great friend of mine, Todd Ellis, is quite an amazing photographer (you should look at some of his photos, just google him), and he took all of the cover photos for the books. Then the incredible Alexandria Thompson ( did her graphic design magic… and voila! Beautiful, eye-catching covers!

Dr.: That’s not how it’s supposed to be. You incompetent boob!

H: Who’s that?

J: That’s an abusive and disrespectful doctor. He looks over your work and finds fault while taking credit for all the good you do. Feel at home yet?

Dr.: The orders were clear. It’s not my fault you can’t read my scribbly handwriting!

H: The doctors I’ve had the privilege of working with have mostly been amazing. But… I’ve run across a few like this. Thankfully, I’ve been a nurse for over twenty years and doctors like him don’t scare me anymore. I’ve gotten a few of them fired, actually. *smiles and winks at Dr. Bully*

J: When did you start writing?

H: About eight years ago when I was going through some rough things with one of my kids. Reading had always been my go-to when I needed to get away from real life for a while, but it wasn’t doing the job at that time. I decided to try my hand at writing and found it to be an even greater escape from reality for me. Getting totally immersed in a fantasy world you created can be a wonderful thing.

J: How did you get published? What was your break to move from writer to author?

H: I really feel very fortunate with my publishing story. I sent queries to six agents and one publisher at first for FIVE. Two agents asked for the full manuscript, one of them for a revise and resubmit before turning it down. A friend in my writer’s group mentioned that she had queried Curiosity Quills so I decided to give them a try. I did a small revision for the acquisitions editor and then they offered me a contract. The rest is history.

J: How do you like Curiosity Quills?

H: I love them. They started out as a small, hybrid publisher but have steadily grown over the last three years into a mid-sized publisher with over 200 titles. They’re great to work with and very fair with with their authors.

J: Do you have any events coming up?

H: Let’s see… I’m waiting on confirmation, but I should have a signing at the Sugarhouse, Utah Barnes and Noble on January 16th; I’ll be a panelist at LTUE in Provo, Utah February 11-13th; I have a signing in Idaho Falls, ID on February 20th; a possible gig at a really awesome private school in San Francisco in March; and, of course, Salt Lake ComicCon FanX March 24th-26th where I’ll be selling books and participating as a panelist with the Space Balrogs.

J: Where on the interwebs can fans find out more about you?

C: You <CENSORED> Laplander <CENSORED>!

Dr. Nurse, give that MRSA patient mouth to mouth. Stat!

J: Want to see that collapsed lung patient?

H: Sure, where is he?

J: Your instructions weren't that clear. He's in the morgue here. It's right next to the furnace room.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Study in Mystery

Hey guys,

I have a milestone coming up. Among the things I've always wanted to do is teach at a University. The University of Utah, my alma mater, was always my goal. And now at the end of this month, I'm going to be doing just that.

I am now an "Associate Instructor." It a cool title. I'm not a full-blown "professor," or an "adjunct."  I'm more an experienced layman with delusions of Ivory Towers. I'm part of The Lifelong Learning program. Night school. Which is fan-freaking-tastic because those are some motivated folks. I must say. But it's cool and I'm very excited.

Plus get this.

I'm teaching something I love: Writing. Specifically and even better, I'll be teaching Mysteries. Am I the luckiest guy or what? I get to chill for six weeks with a group of eager mystery loving writers! I can't believe they're paying me to do it, but they are. And I could use the money — Christmas spending.... amirite?

Where was I? Oh, yeah. A class. It's up the University of Utah, on Tuesday nights, 6:30-8:30. There'll be fun informative lectures, examples and writing workshops. It runs from January 26 through March 1. Six Weeks. Space is limited if you want to attend. Here's the link.

"Look behind the curtain of the formulaic, but eternally popular genre: the Mystery Story. Learn about the constructions, tropes, types and methods that make the modern whodunit. Designed for both writers and fans of the mystery genre, class will include assignments and activities on plot, character web, record keeping, suspense, tension and conflict. Refine your work as you’re asked the questions: Did you hide the clue well enough? Does the audience care about the victim? Is the suspense tight enough? By the end of the course, if the crime is writing a mystery story, the “Whodunit” will be you!"