Monday, October 29, 2012

Howling At The Moon With Gail Roughton

Happy Halloween, everyone! Boo! Sorry, didn't mean to scare you. But since it's Halloween, the most ghoulishly ghastly night of the year, I've a special treat (no tricks) for you. I'd like to introduce my friend Gail Roughton, paranormal/suspense/spooky stuff writer extraordinaire.

Now, a disclaimer. I was pretty much finished with vampire genre fiction. All those sparkly teen male model vampires pretty much drove a stake through the heart of vampire fiction for me. Couldn't handle it anymore.

Until I read Gail's DARK series. Seriously, these two books (get 'em both, as they form one epic, ginormous time-spanning saga) revived my faith in the fanged ones. It's thrilling, moving, epic, scary, imaginative, and yeah, there's romance in there, too. My highest recommendation. So, let's check in with Ms. Roughton on this scariest of scarifying nights and see what's on her mind. (Dang it, was that a ghost that just flew by here? Where's my ghost repellent?).

*Do YOU believe in the paranormal? Has that influenced your writing?

Oh, you betcha, damn straight and absolute. Wait, maybe I should clarify that a little?

*Your character, Ria, in the Dark series, responds to the supernatural in an unexpected, refreshing manner. If you met a vampire, what would you do?

The exact same thing Ria did.

*Do you control your characters or do they run you through the grinder? Furthermore, if you have a character slated for a sad demise, would you be able to change it? Or are you a slave to writing and fate?

Oh, my characters run all over me. They surprise me all the time. I think readers are most surprised when the writer is most susprised, I don't think that can be faked. If a character's slated for a sad demise, then he'll have a sad demise. If a planned sad demise becomes something else, it's because the characters pulled a switch-hit on me, not because I changed anything. They can change their minds (and do) but that's out of my control.

*In all your books, Southern regionality plays such an important part, it's almost a character in itself. Is this done intentionally? Will you ever stray out of the South and set a tale elsewhere (personally, I hope you don't!)?

No, making the South a "character" isn't really intentional, no mater how deeply it's entwined in most of my work. And I realize it's very deeply entwined in most of my writing. it just happens because it's part of me. Write what you know. I'm southern to the core. So my work is southern to the core. Usually. As to straying out of the South to set a tale elsewhere--and I realize you've read almost all my books--you haven't read Miami Days & Truscan (K)nights. Darlin', I didn't just stray out of the South, I strayed completely out of this world into a parallel one.

*Okay, I gotta' ask this. Without giving anything away, do you see the conclusion to the Dark series as a happy or unhappy ending?

Inevitable. It was an inevitable ending. I don't know that it's happy or unhappy, it was just the only ending.

*I've seen this term pop up in a lot of your writing. Please explain to us non-Southerners what "pure-dee" means.

Pure-dee: (adjective) completely, totally, absolutely, and without doubt. "That girl's just pure-dee beautiful." "That was just pure-dee mean."

*Is this your final word on vampires?

It's my final word on these vampires. The Dark series is done, it's finished. There won't be a third. Now, will other vampires pop up somewhere else? Your guess is as good as mine. Though to be perfectly honest, I really don't foresee another vampire tale, no.

*It's Halloween. What three horror films would you want with you on an island (assuming you have electricity)?

If I'm limited to three and only three, The Shining (the television miniseries version), It, and The Stand. If I could have two more, Wrong Turn and Skeleton Key.

*My last Halloween question, what scares Gail Roughton?

The same thing that scares any parent/grandparent, I think.  The thought of something happening to one of my children or grandchildren.

*So, you ready to introduce Dark?

Sure.  Y’all follow me, why don’t you?  After all, it’s All Hallows E’en.  Samhain.  The night when the veil between the worlds is thinnest, when the dead can cross back into the land of the living. When the living can cross into – Dark.

 No one knows that better than Tamara, Mambo of Stone Creek Swamp.  Tamara follows the Light, the Sweet Spirits of the Rada.  And she’s always on alert.  She watches.  She guards.  She guards against the evil of the Dark, the Bitter Spirits of the Rada.  Because she knows.  She knows “…dis world, son, it be ringed with worlds on worlds…Dey shift, dey overlap. Some of ‘em be real dark, full of evil and danger. Some of ‘em, dey be real bright and beautiful. An’ sometimes, folks whut doan know whut dey doin’, dey can make things happ’n whut wasn’t never ‘sposed to happ’n. An’ things can cross over from dem other worlds to dis one.”

The worlds that ring this world poise for battle.  Because Cain, Bokor of the Dark, the Bitter Spirits of the Rada, is opening the doors between the worlds on worlds that ring this world.  Where he came from, no one knew. He didn’t know himself. Sometimes he thought he’d merely sprung, full-grown, from the depths of the deepest swamps, the darkest bayous, of Louisiana.  Even Tamara doesn’t know why he can call such power. She only knows “…he ain’t a bokor ‘cause he choose to be. Not one whut takes his power and sharpens it on purpose, devotin’ his life to studyin’ de bitter Loa. He do know some of de rituals of power, and he use ‘em, but he doan understan’ ‘em. He use ‘em lik’ a little chile doan know how to read yet still can say his ‘a-b-c’s.”

What happens when a person of power doesn’t understand the power they’re misusing? Dark happens.  Over and over again. Moving from the past into the present  Because the past, like evil, never dies.  It just—waits.

So come.  Follow me.  Into shades and colors you’ve never thought of before.  Like The Color of Seven.  Like The Color of Dusk.  Follow me into Dark.  The Dark Series. 

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Amazon:

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Barnes & Noble:

Quick link to all Gail Roughton Books on Smashwords:

Also Available on  and -- Search for Author Gail Roughton

Okay! We’ve heard from Gail and her character, Tamara. The wind outside’s howling, spirits are restless, and it’s nearing midnight. Put the kids outside, tuck the cat in and you’re just a couple of clicks away from the perfect Halloween read. Happy nightmares (um…dreams)!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Size Matters To Mickey Mouse

So, I recently had dinner with my brother and his daughters. We had a heated discussion about the approximate size of Mickey Mouse. Yes, we both need to get better lives.

He insisted Mickey Mouse is the size of a real mouse. I, defiantly, stood my ground and explained to my brother, Mickey Mouse is about five feet tall.

Let's weigh the evidence. Mickey has a dog named Pluto. Mickey's larger than Pluto, keeps him on a leash and appears to be a relatively good dog-owner. At least he doesn't dress Pluto in Halloween costumes. Plus, I believe I've seen Mickey drive a car. Well, at least in cartoons.

My brother's defense? He said Mickey Mouse on Ice is not indicative of his size. He stared at me disbelievingly and said, "those guys on skates aren't real, right? You KNOW that, don't you?" He said this in the solemn way he told me Santa wasn't real. There's no arguing with my brother. Family.

The only problem with my rock-solid argument does "Goofy" fit into my vision of the Disney world? He's a dog as well. I think. Yet, he walks upright, speaks (unlike Pluto)and appears to be a well-adjusted--yet, slightly stupid--individual. I didn't bring this up. No need to add further fuel to the fire of my brother thinking I'm an idiot.

This argument has thrown everything I thought I knew into a tizzy. I lay awake at night, pondering the size of Mickey Mouse. Surely, a sentient mouse who walks a dog is human size. the back of my mind, I find myself questioning it.

So. I'm reaching out to y'all. What size is Mickey Mouse?

I know this isn't important in the larger spectrum of life (outside of the Disney empire), but I'm due for a good night's sleep, free of worry from large creatures who haunt my dreams.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Where Writers and Authors Meet Interview Blog-fest Thingy

Hey loyal followers (well, all eight of you. And the others who aren't following, but should be? I'm looking at you!)!

Virginia, the wonderful moderator of the "Where Writers and Authors Meet" Facebook page, had a cool idea to toss together a group interview/blog-hop to generate interest. By the luck of some random robot's pick, I'm up first!

Here...this'll explain it better than I can:

Okay, here're my questions and answers...

1. Tell us a little about what you write.

I write genre fiction, both for young adult and, um..."old adult." Why must we put labels on everything? Anyway. Thrillers, murder mysteries, black comedies and horror.

2. I see that you are about to have your first book published. Would you tell us a little about your publisher or how you found them?

Yep. My first book, Tex, The Witch Boy will be published by Muse-It-Up Publishing in January. I'd heard good things about them (all true!) and decided to give them a shot. They likewise gave me a shot. Or they had many "shots" leading to their choosing my book. Never drink and publish.

3. Tell us about what inspires you to write.

You want lofty hoo-hah or truth? Let's go with truth. My inspiration for writing is staying away from Corporate America.

4. If you get stuck in a place in your writing, what do you do to get yourself unstuck and back to writing again?

Call Triple AAA? No. I don't know. I've never been stuck for longer than five minutes. It may not be good but for better or worse, I toss everything on paper and worry about editing later.

5. What describes your typical method of writing?

Planting my ample bottom into the same spot on the sofa and pounding away at the keyboard for hours on end.  My "lucky sofa" saw me through six novels, and it has the indentation to prove it. The sofa wears me like a glove. My wife's kinda' mad at me, though. The sofa's pretty much dead and needs a good furniture burial. I'll miss you, old friend...choke...I'll miss you...

6. Where did you come up with the idea for your book?

My first book has a lot of autobiographical elements to it. It's about high school bullying. The theme is sadly timeless. I'd say it's a mixture of my high school hell days and stories from my daughter's tenure in the line of combat.

7. Describe your best kind of day...

Beer and a bad movie. Talk about nirvana.

8. Do you prefer to outline your story before you write it or do you just freewrite it as it comes to you?

You're talking about "pantsing!" I never knew what that term was until I started chatting to writers (I thought it meant bullies yanking your pants down! Yes, I'm a five year old boy.)! Mostly I fly randomly, letting the characters take charge, but I do like the comfort of having little post-it notes giving brief one-sentence descriptions of what the next scene should be.

9. What is one thing that you would like to be able to do in your lifetime?
Call Hitler a sissy.

10.Where can your fans find you?

Um, in the bathroom, I guess? No...wait.  Right here on my blog or email me at the above addy. You mean I'm gonna' have fans? Shut UP! What about groupies?

Okay, it felt like I was interviewing myself, but that's okay. All writers are sorta' crazy anyway. Right, evil imaginary twin brother Stuart? (The man in my mind nods and glares.)

And speaking of other writers...look who I found! Another midwestern writer of the fantastical nature: Stacey Brewer! She's my neighbor over in Joplin, Missouri (yep, the same town that was devastated recently by the tornado. When y'all stop in at her blog, ask her about her husband. He heroically braved the storm to knock on folk's doors warning them of the impending danger). Here's her website:

And, here are Stacey's questions:

1) I see you write fantasy. Why fantasy?

2) What's the name of your first book? Is it part of a series?

3) What's the book about (and please try and answer this question by writing with a British accent, because British accents make everything 110% more interesting.)?

4) Are you writing for children, young adults or adults? Or all of the above?

5) You're a fellow midwesterner. Does the color and flavor of the midwest factor into your writing? The midwest, after all, is home to the granddaddy of fantasy, The Wizard of Oz (believe me! I've heard all the Toto/Kansas jokes. They're STILL not funny!).

6) What character are you in the book? I know every writer puts themselves into everything they write to a certain extent.

7) What are your favorite fantasy novels? Is it your favorite genre to read?

8) Are you as influenced by cinema as much as writing? If so, what movies come to mind?

9) Will you continue in the fantasy field? Or are you interested in chasing other genres?

10) Quick! Favorite James Bond actor? (Be VERY careful how you answer this. There are two acceptable answers).

Alright, swing on over to Stacey's pad and tell her I sent ya'.  Feel free to stay awhile. She won't mind. She's very nice.

 And remember...don't drink and blog.

Tex, The Witch Boy's Gotta' Cover!

Take a gander. Talented cover artist C.J. Volnek has put a face to my boy, Tex.

Now. I never wanted to envision what my character, Tex, looked like. He was sorta' vague in my mind and I liked him that way. So, it's shocking to see him living and breathing on my cover.

C.J. did a bang-up job at capturing the oddball nature of my first book. An ordinary kid stuck in extraordinary circumstances. She captured the duality perfectly.

What's slyly awesome about C.J.'s stellar work is I believe the cover will appeal to both guys and gals. And that's what I wanted. Thanks, C.J.!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

LegoLand Inferno

Good Gawd, folks! You ever been to "Legoland?"  I think it's the seventh circle of Hell. Or close to it. It's at least circling the perimeter.

Okay. Just spent a tour of duty there yesterday. I truly enjoyed seeing my nephews totally freak over the amazing awesomeness of Legoland. And their father enjoyed seeing his boys have fun. That was priceless.

But, come on. The dang place is a so-called "attraction" built around pieces of molded plastic. Little blocks with nobs. Like pimples or something. Yet, kids were running rampant, thrilled to death to be around more plastic and variations of plastic. We had a very disinterested tour guide, who didn't say a word (cough*serial killer*cough) and were dumped into the "plant" where we couldn't hear a damn thing over the kids pounding on anything they could find. Kids rifled through huge barrels of Legos throughout the place, coughing, wiping their noses, replacing the hunks of blocks back into the community bins. Hey! Don't forget the ten dollar hot dogs awaiting the end of your journey (no doubt made partially of Legos)!

I'm sounding like a crotchety ol' guy, but, hell, as a kid, I had fun with a cardboard box. Of course, I was a weird kid. Doesn't matter. Burns, splinters, knee slashes? A badge of honor.

Now, the badge of honor is some cheap plastic medal they toss at the kids after surviving the hells of Legoland.

Yeah, Legoland sucked. But, you know what? My nephews had a good time. Almost makes it worth it. Almost.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ah, Kansas

Kansas. The land of ahhhhhs. Cornfields. Sunflowers. Norman Rockwellian portraits of small-town living. Tornadoes. Teenage witch boys. Crazed evangelists. Insane farmers. Haunted mining towns. A secret society of serial killers. A ghostly Kansas City suburb. Evil genetic dairy farming scients. A murderous class reunion. Religious zombies.

Wait. What?

Welcome to "Twisted Tales From Tornado Alley." This is my Kansas and I'm going to be writing dark fiction about the secret underbelly of Kansas. I'm going to scratch at those hidden infestations and expose Kansas for what I know it to be. Creepy. Why Kansas? 'Cause I'm stuck here and you're supposed to write about what you know. So, unless people are dying to read about my boring 26 year tour of duty in boring corporate America, looks like you and I are stuck with dark tales set in Kansas.

Now, unless you're a relative (hi, Mom!) or you've stumbled in here by accident, let me introduce myself. I'm Stuart R. West, author. I wasn't always a writer, but that's a tale for another day.

First up's going to be my novel, "Tex, The Witch Boy." It's a young adult book about...well, a teenage witch boy. But it's more than that. It's a murder mystery, a tale of friendship and love, and a supernatural saga. And it's about bullying in high school. Believe it or not, the incidences of bullying found in my book are true, having happened to either myself or a friend. Sadly, things haven't changed since I was in high school.

The book's being published in January by Muse-It-Up Publishing, available for preordering soon. I'll have links and a cover image up later.

Anyway, thanks for visiting! I vow to not try and bore everyone silly with pompous posts about the *sniff* "IMPORTANCE of writing" and what have ya'.