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Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!


Please welcome Anton Strout to The Qwillery!



Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!




Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!
By Anton Strout

As Frank Herbert wrote in the Litany Against Fear in DUNE, “Fear is the mind killer,” which was clearly meant to be the inner monologue of writers everywhere.

At each stage of a writer’s career, our destructive troglodyte brains love to try and stump us, to keep us from writing. It’s a process that never goes away, really, at whatever level of your career you might be at from first timer to New York Times bestseller.

The details might differ for you as you read this, but this is sort of a fear ladder that authors go through, starting with the smallest:

I want to write.
I wonder if I can write a whole short story?
Okay, great did that. Now can I write something longer, can I do a whole novel?
Whoa, did that… hmm… wonder if can I do it again?
Yep. Okay. Keen. Can I get one of my novels published?
OMG, a publisher wants it… and now they want more of the same, multiple books in a series. Am I even capable of writing a sequel, keeping a series going?

Right about…. HERE is where I am right now as America’s Favorite Lower Midlist Urban Fantasy Author™, climbing the fear ladder rung by rung. I proved I could get down four books in my first series, the Simon Canderous paranormal detective novels. Then I proved to myself I could launch a second series successfully with the three book Spellmason Chronicles.

But that still leaves me hanging somewhere in the middle of that fear ladder as a writer.

Those higher up than me look down with whimsical nostalgia at how easy those fears were to manage when they were on my rung of the ladder, and those below me look up as they shake their fists, shouting, “Shut up, Strout! You don’t know how good you’ve got it!”

Always remember that fear is a relative thing for a writer, again dependent on which run of the ladder they are desperately clinging to. And of course there are the future fears and woes I worry about, should I ever move up the ladder to, say, making the bestseller lists:

Once I’m on, can I make the list again?
What if readers don’t like the next book?
What if I run out of ideas for the series that is working?

But the super fear lurking behind every stage—word by word, book by book—is: How do I get the words down time and time again, especially in the face of all those fears? And worse, what if I write a book that is terrible? Many wannabe writers I know get stuck at the perfectionist fear stage and barely get a paragraph down, let alone a whole book. So how do I sit down and not give in to the fear of producing a crappy book? I have a simple calming mantra: It’s okay to suck.

In fact, I heartily encourage it. Why?

Because when you first finish your book it is absolutely going to suck. It should. It is, literally, the first draft. That name alone implies there will be many more to follow. The trick to writing isn’t to vomit forth pure gold. It’s to get it down so you have something there to fix.

I can see the holes in a plot or what’s missing in a character once I have that initial draft down and a better feel for where the tale is going. Those are things I can add in later, things I can refine as I stitch the Frankenstein’s Monster of my book together until the reader can no longer see the stitches.

Fear does not keep me from attempting to get my book down. I embrace the suck. I encourage the suck. And then? It’s my job as a writer to beat the suck out of it. Through writing, rewriting, beta readers, editors, copyeditors… once I realized I do not have to get perfection down on the page the first time out—that only many passes will make it whole—I realized there was nothing to fear.

But circling back to DUNE for a moment, sit down at your computer, take a deep breath and incant with me the Litany Against Fear used by the Bene Gesserit to clear your mind and calm yourselves before launching yourself at the page:

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Happy writing!

Are you a writer or do you know a writer who would enjoy the gift of…well, Anton Strout, for the holidays? Anton is auctioning off a read and critique session where authors can have him read a piece of their work and hear what this “Simon Cowell of Writing Critique” has to say! There is only a day left to the auction, however, so don’t miss it! https://www.ebay.com/itm/232557450209





Alchemystic
The Spellmason Chronicles 1
Ace, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!
AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…

Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…



Stonecast
The Spellmason Chronicles 2
Ace, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!
NO STONE UNTURNED…

Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.

With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.

But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.



Incarnate
The Spellmason Chronicles 3
Ace, September 30, 2014
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM

When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…





About Anton

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!
Fantasy and science fiction author Anton Strout has given readers equal shares of chills and laughter since the first book of his Simon Canderous paranormal detective series, Dead To Me, came out from Penguin/Ace Books in 2008. He continues his tales of mayhem in Manhattan with his second series, the Spellmason Chronicles, as he treats readers to the story of a girl and her gargoyle, and explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and love with his trademark snarky twist.

The Once & Future Podcast (theonceandfuturepodcast.com) is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors to listener's ear holes one damned episode at a time..
In his scant spare time, his is a writer, a sometimes actor, sometimes musician, occasional RPGer, and the worlds most casual and controller smashing video gamer. He currently works in the exciting world of publishing and yes, it is as glamorous as it sounds.

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @antonstrout  ~ The Once & Future Podcast

Interview with Anton Strout


Please welcome Anton Strout to The Qwillery. Anton has a new Simon Canderous story out in the anthology Shadowed Souls, which was published on November 1st by Roc. I adore Simon Canderous so I'm always very happy to see a new story featuring him!



Interview with Anton Strout




TQWelcome back to The Qwillery. Your most recent Simon Canderous story, "Solus" is found in Shadowed Souls, an anthology that was published on November 1st. What is it like for you to write Simon again?

Anton:  I miss Simon. It's why he keeps coming up in my short stories. Frankly, its one of the few ways I can visit with him. Once Ace pulled the plug after book four, it's hard to find time to write the fifth book, even though I'd like to. Ace immediately took my next series The Spellmason Chronicles, so all my novel length focus and attention had to go into that. Simon may ride again in novel form, but right now too many other ideas are taking up my brainmeat.



TQWhere does "Solus" fit in the Simon Canderous series? Are there additional Simon short stories?

Anton:  Solus is a prequel to the first Canderous book Dead To Me. You're seeing Simon at a very uncertain time in his life... ex-thief, trying to impress his mentor in his new job at the Department of Extraordinary Affairs, and desperately trying to control his powers of psychometry.

There are several other Simon-verse shorts out there in a variety of anthologies, some out of print. I think there are a handful of them. I'm hoping to either Kickstart or find a smaller press to put them all together. The last came out in Blackguards by Ragnarok Publications last year and features the incident that got Simon out of his life of crime and how he came by his now famous retractable bat.



TQWere you nervous, elated, worried (all/none of the above) writing for an anthology being edited by Jim Butcher and Kerrie L. Hughes?

Anton:  I've know Kerrie for years, thanks to Gen Con and some of my earliest short story sales were to her. I know what she likes and doesn't like at this point, so while I have a healthy fear of her editorial self, she knows I can deliver what she's looking for.

When I found out Jim was going to be my editor... well, is fearpooping a word? I knew him from his appearances on my Once & Future Podcast, and I had moderated panels with him on them, but to be under his editorial knife... I mean, the guy is the KING of my genre. I knew I had to really push the envelope on this story. And Jim's a great editor. His feedback really helped pull together what the story was missing, and it thrilled me when he told me how much he ended up enjoying the story and the fact that it's not resolved simply by hitting things.



TQYou've written 2 series - Simon Canderous and the Spellmason Chronicles. How has your writing process changed from when Dead to Me (Simon Canderous 1) was published in 2008?

Anton:  When I sold Dead to Me, book one of Simon and his friends, I knew nothing about writing a series. And no one really teaches you that. It was very trial by fine and seat of my pants at times. Going into the Spellmason Chronicles I knew the things I wanted to happen over the long arc of a series and also how I wanted to avoid writing things that hamstrung me in the first series. I'm a better planner now, both in the within each book phase, and the larger picture of where I want a series to grow to. I could teach a class!



TQIn addition to writing, you are the Curator of Content (host) of your Once & Future Podcast. Please tell us about the Podcast and what is upcoming.

Anton:  I started the show in 2011 because I loved the bar conversations and panels I did with my fellow authors at cons, and I was/am sick of the grousing grumpiness I kept seeing in genre consumption. I wanted a show that celebrated all the cool things that are being created by today's writers while also delving into the craft of writing. We continue to strive to celebrate all things geek. We're ad supported right now with sponsors I think work well with our listenership, but I'd love us to become more and more listener supported. We're working on that over at Patreon under Anton Strout. I'd also like to work on more holiday generated content of authors reading their work.



TQAre you working on any writing projects that you can tell us about?

Anton:   I am in final beta on a YA project that doesn't have a home yet. I'm terribly excited by it. It's got science, battle suits, Dickensian urchins, aeroships... my take on a steampunk world. One final pass, then it's off to my agent to find it a home!

I'm also working on something that's part coloring/activity book that's the sort of hasty training manual a Department of Extraordinary Affairs operative might be forced to learn from.



TQThank you for joining us at The Qwillery! Also please write another Simon novel.

Anton:  To paraphrase (read: mangle) Field of Dreams: If you fund it, I will write. (Kickstarter to come)





Shadowed Souls
Roc, November 1, 2016
Trade Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Interview with Anton Strout
In this dark and gritty collection—featuring short stories from Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Kevin J. Anderson, and Rob Thurman—nothing is as simple as black and white, light and dark, good and evil..

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what makes it so easy to cross the line.


In #1 New York Times bestselling author Jim Butcher’s Cold Case, Molly Carpenter—Harry Dresden’s apprentice-turned-Winter Lady—must collect a tribute from a remote Fae colony and discovers that even if you’re a good girl, sometimes you have to be bad…

New York Times bestselling author Seanan McGuire’s Sleepover finds half-succubus Elsie Harrington kidnapped by a group of desperate teenage boys. Not for anything “weird.” They just need her to rescue a little girl from the boogeyman. No biggie.

In New York Times bestselling Kevin J. Anderson’s Eye of Newt, Zombie P.I. Dan Shamble’s latest client is a panicky lizard missing an eye who thinks someone wants him dead. But the truth is that someone only wants him for a very special dinner…

And New York Times bestselling author Rob Thurman’s infernally heroic Caliban Leandros takes a trip down memory lane as he deals wih some overdue—and nightmarish—vengeance involving some quite nasty Impossible Monsters.

ALSO INCLUDES STORIES BY
Tanya Huff * Kat Richardson * Jim C. Hines * Anton Strout * Lucy A. Snyder * Kristine Kathryn Rusch * Erik Scott de Bie *





About Anton

Interview with Anton Strout
Fantasy and science fiction author Anton Strout has given readers equal shares of chills and laughter since the first book of his Simon Canderous paranormal detective series, Dead To Me, came out from Penguin/Ace Books in 2008. He continues his tales of mayhem in Manhattan with his second series, the Spellmason Chronicles, as he treats readers to the story of a girl and her gargoyle, and explores themes of friendship, loyalty, and love with his trademark snarky twist.

The Once & Future Podcast (theonceandfuturepodcast.com) is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors to listener's ear holes one damned episode at a time..

You can find him at his website antonstrout.com or at his Patreon, patreon.com/antonstrout

Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @antonstrout  ~ The Once & Future Podcast





The Simon Canderous Novels

Interview with Anton Strout
Dead to Me
Simon Canderous 1
Ace, February, 26, 2008
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages

A new urban fantasy featuring a man working on the right side of law-with talents that come from left field.

Psychometry-the power to touch an object and divine information about its history-has meant a life of petty crime for Simon Canderous, but now he’s gone over to the good side. At New York’s underfunded and (mostly) secret Department of Extraordinary Affairs, he’s learning about red tape, office politics, and the basics of paranormal investigation. But it’s not the paperwork that has him breathless.

After Simon spills his coffee on (okay, through) the ghost of a beautiful woman- who doesn’t know she’s dead-he and his mentor plan to find her killers. But Simon’s not prepared for the nefarious plot that unfolds before him, involving politically correct cultists, a large wooden fish, a homicidal bookcase, and the forces of Darkness, which kind of have a crush on him.




Interview with Anton Strout
Deader Still
Simon Canderous 2
Ace, February 24, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages

It’s hard to defeat evil on a budget. Just ask Simon Canderous.

FROM THE AUTHOR OF DEAD TO ME.


It’s been 737 days since the Department of Extraordinary Affairs’ last vampire incursion, but that streak appears to have ended when a boat full of dead lawyers is found in the Hudson River. Using the power of psychometry—the ability to divine the history of an object by touching it—agent Simon Canderous discovers that the booze cruise was crashed by something that sucked all the blood out of the litigators. Now, his workday may never end—until his life does.




Interview with Anton Strout
Dead Matter
Simon Canderous 3
Ace, February 23, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 336 pages

Shaking up the spirits of Manhattan

The spirit populace of Manhattan doesn't appreciate its well-deserved RIP being disturbed, and Department of Extraordinary Affairs Agent Simon Canderous is sent in to do damage control. Meanwhile, his vacationing partner, Connor Christos, is in a sorry state, and he tells Simon that each night he's being haunted by visions of his long-lost brother at his window. Simon is worried that his partner may be going crazy-or worse, maybe he's not...









Interview with Anton Strout
Dead Waters
Simon Canderous 4
Ace, February 22, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 352 pages

Simon Canderous, of the Department of Extraordinary Affairs, is used to fighting vampires and zombies. But the strange murder of a professor has everyone stumped. And it’s making some people crazy. Literally.












Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by Anton Strout



Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by  Anton Strout




Alchemystic
Series:  The Spellmason Chronicles 1
Publisher:  Ace, September 25, 2012
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN9781937007799 (print)

Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by  Anton Strout
AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…

Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…


Stacey's Thoughts

This is a great book! It is original, funny, and full of action. Lexi Belarus has lived in New York City her whole life. Her family has lived there for many generations and has a successful real estate business there. Lexi’s great-great-grandfather, Alexander Belarus, left quite a legacy for his family, but not in real estate…in art. Alexander was a great stone sculptor but he also knew magic. He was a spellmason. He could bring the stones to life. Before his death, he left a protector for the family behind him: Stanis…who happens to be a gargoyle. (Don’t worry…he’s a handsome gargoyle!)

Lexi’s older brother has just been killed in an accident and now it’s up to her to take up the family business of real estate. Sadly, it rips her away from her true passion: art. Up in the study that belonged to Alexander she learns about the true family legacy and how to work spellmasonry. When Lexi is attacked, questions arise. Was her brother’s death really an accident? Who could have wanted to hurt the Belarus family? With Lexi’s friends Rory and Marshall (who delightfully remind me of Clary and Simon from The Mortal Instruments Series) Lexi finds out things she did not want to know about her brother and her great-great-grandfather’s past before he came to America.

Stanis, the stone flying man (who prefers to be called a grotesque…like that somehow is better than gargoyle!), is a pretty awesome character and quickly learns about the fragile humans in his care, emotions, and Lexi. He feels a strong bond with “his maker’s kin” and always knows when she is going to be in trouble. Don’t worry, this book was not about a helpless damsel in distress with a strong man to save her. Lexi and Rory kick some ass themselves but gladly use Stanis as backup. Even though it is dangerous, Lexi makes it her mission to restore four pieces of his soul that were removed, placed in stones, and hidden around New York City.

The ending of this book was totally unexpected…I’m going to start the second one tonight. I’m already chomping at the bit for the third installment. I love it!





Stonecast
Series:  The Spellmason Chronicles 2
Publisher:  Ace, September 24, 2013
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:   9780425256404 (print)

Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by  Anton Strout
NO STONE UNTURNED…

Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.

With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.

But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.


Stacey's Thoughts

The story opens up about six months after Alchemystic wraps up. During this time, Lexi has been studying the spellmason ways, but sadly, without Stanis. We still get Stanis’s point of view in this story, which I think is a really great feature. It really shows off the author’s skills to switch characters like that, especially because they are so different! In Stonecast, a new character is introduced. Is he a friend or foe? Whose side is he on? Can he be trusted? 

Rory and Marshall are still best buds with Lexi, along with the cool little creation, Bricksley. Awww. I love that little guy. With Lexi experimenting in animating stone, especially more life-sized creations, life gets a little dangerous for the fragile humans…including Lexi. A creepy secret society presents itself and demands Lexi help them, which understandably leaves everyone on edge. To make matters worse, the Servants of Ruthenia are still causing trouble and Devon with them! But the biggest problem: the magical binding agent to bring stone to life, called Kimiya is running out. Without that, there can be no more spellmasonry…ever! Despite all of her great-great-grandfather’s works, books, and puzzle boxes, there doesn’t seem to be a recipe for it anywhere. Is this going to be the end of the Lexi’s spellmasonry, even though it just started?

This series makes me smile. I love the witty comebacks, the nerdy references, and the mystery of the grotesques. I’ll have you know that Mr. Strout writes one hell of a woman! I was about halfway through with the first book (Alchemystic) when I flipped to the back of the book and discovered the author was a he! His writing only gets better in Stonecast.





Incarnate
Series:  The Spellmason Chronicles 3
Publisher:  Ace, September 30, 2014
Format:  Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
List Price:  $7.99 (print)
ISBN:  9780425273555 (print)

Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by  Anton Strout
HITTING ROCK BOTTOM

When Alexandra Belarus discovered her family’s secret ability to breathe life into stone, she uncovered an entire world of magic hidden within New York City—a world she has accidentally thrown into chaos. A spell gone awry has set thousands of gargoyles loose upon Manhattan, and it’s up to Lexi and her faithful protector, Stanis, to put things right.

But the stress of saving the city is casting a pall over Lexi and Stanis’s relationship, driving them to work separately to solve the problem. As Stanis struggles to unite the gargoyle population, Lexi forges unlikely alliances with witches, alchemists and New York’s Finest to quell an unsettling uprising led by an ancient and deadly foe long thought vanquished.

To save her city, Lexi must wield more power than ever before with the added hope of recovering a mysterious artifact that could change her world—and bring her closer to Stanis than she ever thought possible…


Stacey's Thoughts

And the bad guys just keep on coming! Alexandra, Rory, Marshall, and Stanis have been trying to gather the new grotesques that have been flying around NYC, and it’s no easy task. The gang is glad to do it since the spell that made the grotesques did save their butts six months ago. Spirits who did not pass on are now inhabiting Alexandra’s great-great-grandfather’s work and not all of them are friendly! A murderer’s spirit is now in a heavenly and nearly indestructible form and he’s picked up right where he left off when he was alive.

Can’t everything just be like it was? Oh, how I long for the good old days! Everyone has messy, busy, crazy lives right now: Alexandra is with Caleb now but once Alexandra finds out about an interesting conversation Caleb and Stanis had, is he even worth it? Marshall is now a budding alchemist with his own tricks but has he been hanging out with the right crowd? Stanis and Emily. Are they meant to be?

I’m very sad that this will be the last we hear from the gang. I will miss them a lot! The bickering, gaming and nerd references, and yes, even the fighting. I sincerely hope Strout will consider continuing this world, even if is just with ebook shorts. Until then, I’m making up my own sequels. Thank you Anton Strout for a wonderful series!



Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013


Please welcome Anton Strout to The Qwillery is the author of The Spellmason Chronicles and the Simon Canderous series as well as numerous short stories. Anton's most recent novel is Stonecast (Spellmason Chronicles 2).  If you happen to have a ticket to New York Comic Con this coming weekend, Anton will be there as a Featured Literary Guest on Friday!




Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013





The Twinsanity of Writing Life
By Anton Strout

The hardest struggle for an author is discovering what does and doesn’t work for them in actually getting words down on the page. For instance, my fellow authors Jeanine Cummins and Carolyn Turgeon were once unpublished slackers but we all got so sick of not writing that we banded together and formed the Dorks of the Round Table. Through our efforts in that writing group—meeting with seven pages a week and showing no mercy—I’m proud to say we are all published now, and Carolyn’s book MERMAID is even being developed into a major motion picture by Nicole Kidman’s production company!

But enough about them, back to my favorite subject—ME!

Now that I am published and (moderately) successful, I’m committed to turning out a book a year. I’m sad to say the Dorks have disbanded, but the onus is still on me to find my tips and tricks to keep writing and keep up with my production schedule. I’ve spent years figuring out and creating my rut. My rut works. I like my rut. I think ruts can be good for some writers because they can be a great way to focus yourself in on the work.

This past year, my wife and I were fortunate enough to welcome a child into the world—scratch that, make that two children. Yep, twins. While they are truly the most amazing things I’ve ever had a hand in creating, the publishing world waits for no one, no matter how cute their chubby little cheeks are. Suddenly I have found myself with a lot of my writing time taken up with diapers, bottles and general cuteness. My ruts, once well work tracks filled with writerly goodness are now filled with stuffies and toys.

Over the past six years as a published fantasist, I hadn’t realized how truly a creature of habit I had become. With dawning realization, I knew that if I was going to make my deadlines with my publisher, I needed to come up with some new routines. Time for a life hack!

Take away all the distraction of life—a day job, book deadlines, a husband or wife, children, socialization—and there is just one true axiom left about how to accomplish any writing. If you’re going to get words down, you need to get your ass in that chair. And I also realized that I needed to do it by any means necessary, which meant any and all chairs had to become my writing chair.

Let me break it down for you: I have an hour commute into Manhattan every day from the wilds of rural New Jersey to my day job with Penguin Random House. Once that time was reserved for more sleep or podcast listening, but now it has become the time I write down whatever scene interests me that morning in a notebook. Lunchtime at work became eating at my desk as I entered my scrawled morning notes into my computer, giving it a rough first edit. The bus ride home became the same as my morning commute with even more writing. After dinner and putting the kids to bed, I had several hours to take a break, watching a little television with some light editorial to my pages for the day. The hours of ten to midnight have become straight word processing as I write, followed by a very sound five hours of sleep a night.

Do I have days I break my routine, where I collapse from exhaustion? Absolutely, but overall sleep is for the weak and I can catch up on it when I’m dead. I have deadlines to keep, and readers I don’t wish to keep waiting. I can’t deny them their gargoyle filled fix now, can I? If you want to get a book down, you have to find the time to commit, by any means necessary. I’ve finally started to feel normal once again, thanks to having a new routine in place around the twins.

Now I wonder how my routines will change when they start to crawl….






The Spellmason Chronicles

Stonecast
The Spellmason Chronicles 2
Ace, September 24, 2013
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013
NO STONE UNTURNED…

Alexandra Belarus was an artist stuck working in her New York family’s business…until she discovered her true legacy—a deep and ancient magic. Lexi became the last practicing Spellmason, with the power to breathe life into stone. And as her powers awoke, so did her family’s most faithful protector: a gargoyle named Stanis. But when a centuries-old evil threatened her family and her city, Stanis sacrificed himself to save everything Lexi held dear.

With Stanis gone, Lexi’s efforts to master Spellmasonry—even with the help of her dedicated friends—are faltering. Hidden forces both watch her and threaten her, and she finds herself suddenly under the mysterious wing of a secret religious society determined to keep magic hidden from the world.

But the question of Stanis’s fate haunts her—and as the storm around her grows, so does the fear that she won’t be able to save him in her turn.



Alchemystic
The Spellmason Chronicles 1
Ace, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013
AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…

Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…





About Anton

Guest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013
Anton is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and the Spellmason Chronicles for Ace Books. Anton is also the author of many short tales published in anthologies by DAW Books. The Once & Future Podcast is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format.





Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter @antonstrout  ~  LiveJournal  ~  The Once & Future Podcast


Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

and the winners are....


Only Superhuman by Christopher L. Bennett - Ended November 10, 2012 - Read the Interview here

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question: Who is one of your favorite superheroes?

Jen B. who said...

I love Ironman. He is a superhero because he is smart (and stupid rich). But, and although he is technically classified as a superhero, I have to go with Dr. Who. I think he is just the ultimate superhero. He's smart, a little crazy, he's devoted and he always comes up with a way to do as little damage as possible.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Enslaved (Eternal Guardians 5) by Elisabeth Naughton - Ended November 9, 2012 - Read the Interview here. US/CANADA ONLY

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  Which Greek God, Goddess, Demi-God or Goddess would you like to meet?

Elizabeth H. who said...

I'd like to meet Persephone.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Blood Riders by Michael P. Spradlin (3 copies) - Ended November 8, 2012 - Read the Interview here. US ONLY

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  What is one of your favorite Western or Horror novels, comics, TV shows, or movies?

Debby who said...

I love the Louis L'Amour westerns. They were great!


AilishsMom who said...

This was one of those books I just didn't want to put down, early morning at work be damned.
The closest things to Western that I love are the original Wild, Wild West and more recently, Firefly.


LadyVampire2u who said...

My favorite Western series was The Rifleman. Favorite movie was Cowboys VS Aliens. Congrats on this new release!



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



The Haunting of Maddy Clare and ARC of An Inquiry into Love and Death by Simone St. James - Ended November 7, 2012 - Read the Guest Blog here. (Two winners each get one of the books.) US/CANADA ONLY

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012
ARC cover will be different.

Question: What is your favorite scary read? What do you recommend I pick up – immediately??

    Winner of The Haunting of Maddy Clare:

Tore who said...

I would suggest Stephen King's It or anything by Stephen King or Dean Koontz. Thanks for the giveaway. I am a follower and email subscriber.


    Winner of the ARC of An Inquiry into Love and Death:

sherry fundin who said...

I don't have a favorite, but anything by King and Koontz is plenty scary for me. lol I follow the blog. Thanks for the giveaway.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Savage Hunger (Jaguar 1) by Terry Spear - Ended November 5, 2012 - Read the Interview here. US/CANADA ONLY

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  What would you do if you found a jungle cat who wasn’t all cat??

Denise Z who said...

In my fantasy world, I would slowly approach, hold out my hand in peace and scratch behind the ears or under the chin. Should this be successful and I retain all my fingers, I would check for fleas and then invite him in our of the cold for a nice side of venison or bowl of mild LOL Thank you for taking the time and effort to share with us to day and for the imagination fun.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Alchemystic (The Spellmason Chronicles 1) by Anton Strout - Ended November 2, 2012 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  A Spellmason can work magic on stone. On what would you like to work magic?

Natalia J who said...

i would love to be able to work on paper. So what ever I write or draw it happens.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Choice of The Shadow Reader (McKenzie Lewis 1) or The Shattered Dark (McKenzie Lewis 2) by Sandy Williams - Ended October 31, 2012 - Read the character Interview here.

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  Which character from novels, comics, movies, orTV shows do you find infuriating?

Texas Book Lover who said...

Bill from the True Blood show and books is one of the most infuriating characters I can think of. The books and shows have really digressed lately. I will tough out the last book but if Sookie ends up with Bill I will probably want to tear the book to pieces and for me that is totally sacrilegious.

I have to agree that Lori from The Walking Dead is really bad too. I'm kinda hoping the baby is a zombie and kills her during childbirth and I am normally not a mean or morbid person. Just love the show but am tired of her.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



A print copy of Crooked Fang by Carrie Clevenger and a beautiful Sasha Bracelet from Synde at Cemetery Cat Designs - Ended October 28, 2012 - Read the Interview here. US ONLY

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012
Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  Xan Marcelles is a bass player. What profession would you like to see a vampire in?

JC Jones who said...

I would like to see a vampire as a money manager. They could control the world that way. I am a GFC follower.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Lady X's Cowboy by Zoë Archer (digital copy) - Ended October 26, 2012 - Read the Guest Blog here.

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  What’s your favorite kind of boot? What sort of boot do you want your heroes to wear?

Sheree who said...

I just want comfortable boots. I have fancier ones with stiletto heels but those hurt after a while and even my sturdier ones really aren't made for walking in (maybe they'd be okay for riding in).

As for heroes, anything they can walk in, I suppose. Nothing too fancy but functionality is a must - kind of how I like my men. ;)



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



The Witch of Babylon (The Mesopotamina Trilogy 1) by D.J. McIntosh - Ended October 24, 2012 - Read the Interview here.

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question:  Do you believe that myths have some truth to them?

Martha Lawson who said...

Absolutely, I think myths are based on truth! Thanks for the chance.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



Winner's Choice on an Immortal Guardians Novel plus swag - Ended October 23, 2012 - Read the Guest Blog here.

Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012

Question: Do you enjoy a little humor in a Paranormal Romance novel?

Annwitch who said...

Everyone loves it when someone has a good sense of humor. In a romance I think it is imperative.



Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012



The winners have been notified and have until 11:59 US Eastern Time on Sunday, November 18, 2012 to respond or The Qwillery will very randomly choose a new winner or winners.

Thank you to everyone who participated.

Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012

Please welcome Anton Strout to The Qwillery. Anton is the author of the Simon Canderous series and Alchemystic (The Spellmason Chronicles 1) which was published on September 25, 2012.


Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012


TQ:  Welcome back to the Qwillery!

Anton:  Thanks for inviting me back, especially after I broke that vase last time I was here. In my defense, though, that think was HIDEOUS!


TQ:  The first novel in your new Spellmason Chronicles, Alchemystic, was recently published. Tell us something about Alchemystic that is not in the book description.

Anton:  While the jacket talks about family secrets, an ancient gargoyle that watches over the Belarus clan, there are what I would call some classic Dungeons & Dragons archetypes at work here. Marshall Blackmoore, a close friend of Lexi and Rory, thinks in terms of games and gaming in his approach to solving modern day dungeon crawling problems. I think people familiar with gaming and RPGs will see the nod to them throughout the Spellmason Chronicles.


TQ:  There aren't many urban fantasy authors writing about gargoyles. Why gargoyles?

Anton:  Watching too many Gargoyles cartoon viewings? No, actually, I’m always fascinated about characters who are makers. I love hearing about the creation of the Rings in The Lord of the Rings, and who made them, and I loved the idea of those type of secrets having been lost in our modern world. There is a magic in the world of Alchemystic, but it is hidden, its secrets lost and I loved the thought of an artist helping to bring it back into the world. I’m a fan of the art and architecture of New York, and the idea of working with these grotesque yet beautiful gargoyles just called out to me.


TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Alchemystic?

Anton:  Well, the Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual came in handy! And I researched a bit about gargoyles and architecture, but I’ve had a good working knowledge of them ever since my 1989 History of Art class. A lot of my research went into reading other books to see how they handled magic in their world. I needed to create something that would fit the modern world, where magic and science might meet to form alchemy. Much as it pains me to admit it, my frenemy Patrick Rothfuss and his Kingkiller Chronicles had a hand in helping me sort out what I wanted for my world, magically speaking. It’s an art, AND a science!


TQ:  In Alchemystic who was the easiest character to write and why? The most difficult and why?

Anton:  I think Marshall Blackmoore is probably the easiest to write. I imagine him as sort of a Jason Segal/ Michael Cera nice guy who loves games and gaming and is unflappable in his pursuit of asking women out despite his nerd trappings. I’m many ways, Marshall is who I’d want to be. He certainly shares a lot of the same interests I do—games, women, who fifty feet of rope while adventuring is ALWAYS important.

I think my main character, Alexandra Belarus, was hardest to write. Creating a believable first person 23-year old female artist took awhile because I wanted to get her right. There’s always the risk that a guy writing a female first person is going to “overgirlify” it, and I didn’t want to do that. I wanted her to be fleshed out and not fall into any sort of stereotypes.


TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Alchemystic?

Anton:  Hmm… I think it’s a tie- first, would when readers are introduced to the character of Bricksley. The other takes place in one of the old subway stations that sits unused under New York. It’s based on a real place, but is far more creepier and fun than the real one.


TQ:  Both the Simon Canderous series and the Spellmason Chronicles are set in New York City. Why have you set both your series there?

Anton:  I moved to New York in 1994 because I thought it was the most exciting city, through and through. Compact, full of life, rich with history and art. I can’t stop writing about it. Even though I live in New Jersey now (insert your own joke here… I’m as surprised as you, believe me!), I’m still in Manhattan five days a week and find something new to love about it all the time. Someday I’ll write about another city, promise!


TQ:  Are there any other genres in which you'd like to write?

Anton:  Writing urban fantasy, I’m already doing it all! I get to write fiction, romance, mystery and fantasy all balled up into one. I suppose I’d like to try my hand at regular ole fiction, but I worry about having to keep it realistic. Reality and I are not quite the closest of friends….


TQ:  What's next?

Anton:  Right now I’m trying to finish up The Spellmason Chronicles 2 by New Year’s Eve, which seems right on track. I’m also trying to find the time to wrap up an as yet unsold young adult Dickensian Voltron Iron Man Street Urchin Steampunk book. Yes, it’s kinda got all that in it. DON’T JUDGE!




About The Spellmason Chronicles

Alchemystic
The Spellmason Chronicles 1
Ace, September 25, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 304 pages

Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012
AN OLD FRIEND OF THE FAMILY…
Alexandra Belarus is a struggling artist living in New York City, even though her family is rich in real estate, including a towering Gothic Gramercy Park building built by her great-great-grandfather. But the truth of her bloodline is revealed when she is attacked on the street and saved by an inhumanly powerful winged figure. A figure who knows the Belarus name…

Lexi’s great-great-grandfather was a Spellmason—an artisan who could work magic on stone. But in his day, dark forces conspired against him and his, so he left a spell of protection on his family. Now that Lexi is in danger, the spell has awoken her ancestor’s most trusted and fearsome creation: a gargoyle named Stanis.

Lexi and Stanis are equally surprised to find themselves bound to each other. But as they learn to work together, they realize that only united can they save the city they both love…



The Simon Canderous Series
Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012




About Anton

Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012
Anton is the author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasy series and the just released Alchemystic, book one of the Spellmason Chronicles for Ace Books. The Once & Future Podcast is his latest project, where he endeavors as Curator of Content to bring authors and readers together through a weekly news show format.

Website
Facebook
Twitter
The Once & Future Podcast




THE GIVEAWAY

What:  One commenter will a copy of Alchemystic (The Spellmason Chronicles 1) from The Qwillery.

How:   Answer the following question:

A Spellmason can work magic on stone. On what would you like to work magic?

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

There are a total of 3 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry) and Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry).  This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook or Twitter mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Friday, November 2, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.


*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012

Sunday, October 14, 2012, was the last day of New York Comic Con 2012. It was a lighter day for me mostly because my small humans joined me for Kids Day. In the past Kids Day has not been so crowded. I think that's a testament to how much bigger New York Comic Con has become that Sunday was as busy as Saturday!

We started off by attending the Geek Geek Revolution: The Sequel featuring Myke Cole, Anton Strout, Beth Revis, and Andrea Cremer. Colleen Lindsay, Geek Queen, asked the authors questions including questions submitted by the audience. Answering the questions correctly resulted in points being awarded. I believe that wrong answers resulted in the subtraction of points. The winner was awarded the title of Top Geek!

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
L to R: Myke Cole, Anton Strout, Beth Revis, Andrea Cremer, 
and Geek Queen Colleen Lindsay
 Myke writes the Shadow Ops series. The first novel, Control Point, was published in January 2012 and Fortress Frontier (Shadow Ops 2) will be out in January 2013.

Anton is the author of the Simon Canderous series and the recently published Alchemystic (The Spellmason Chronicles 1).

Beth writes the YA Across the Universe series. The third book, Shades of Earth, will be published  in January 2013.

Andrea is the author of the YA Nightshade series. Rise (Nightshade Prequel 2) will be published in January 2013.

It came down to a tie between Anton Strout and Andrea Cremer. On the second tie-breaker question Andrea prevailed. She won a Rock'em Sock'em Robot set! Myke Cole came in last and was awarded a cute baby Cthulhu. I hardly see how a cute baby Cthulhu is a booby prize.

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Cthulhu hats may be the new fashion craze!



After Geek Geek Revolution: The Sequel the small humans and I wandered around...  a lot.



I had the pleasure of meeting Evie Manieri whose debut novel, Blood's Pride, will be published in the US on February 19, 2013. It's already out in the UK.

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Evie Manieri



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Steampunk at the Tor booth. It must be fun working for Tor!



Capcom was at NYCC. Nintendo was there with Wii U. We did preorder the Limited Edition of Assassin's Creed III by Ubisoft. Often when you preorder at NYCC some extra goodies are thrown in. In this case there was a gorgeous T-shirt. While you could preorder Assassin's Creed III, there was no gameplay.  I was surprised by the video gaming component this year. Some of the big companies had displays but no games to play.

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012



We found this poor fellow expiring in the hallway (not really, he was cosplaying!)

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012

The kids decided to put him out of his misery (not really, he asked them to pose with him.)

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012

New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
The teen (bottom photo) looked meaner while posing. You can draw your own conclusion!



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Jamal Peppers ad Ian Flynn signing at Archie Comics



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Cosplay - Aperture Laboratories (from Portal)



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Michael Boccacino signing Charlotte Markham and the House of Darkling



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Cosplay - The Power Rangers



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Cosplay - Zena, Warrior Princess, and my daughter



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
 The crowd and long walk to Artist Alley

Artist Alley was way down at the end. to the left and through a large passageway. Once you got to the end you turned left and then saw the sign. If you knew where it was it was easy to find. I think that there should have been a sign in this main area at the end with an arrow pointing to the left. This is the first year that Artist Alley was in its own area. Hopefully signage will be better next year. Having the Artists in a separate area was great though. Plus after the main exhibitor floor closed, you could spend some time at Artist Alley which was open later than the exhibitor floor.



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
More Cosplay



New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012
Peter Steigerwald, who does the colors for Lady Mechanika (my favorite comic!)




We visited a lot of vendors on Sunday as well. The small humans came home with some awesome books and goodies. We can't wait for NYCC 2013!
Guest Blog by Anton Strout - Writers, Embrace your Suckitude!Interview with Anton StroutInterview with Anton Strout, author of The Simon Canderous Novels and The Spellmason Chronicles - May 15, 2015Reviews: Alchemystic, Stonecast and Incarnate (The Spellmason Chronicles 1 -3 ) by  Anton StroutFeature: Incarnate by Anton StroutCover Spotlight - Incarnate by Anton StroutGuest Blog by Anton Strout - The Twinsanity of Writing Life - October 10, 2013Winners x 14 - November 11, 2012Interview with Anton Strout, author of Alchemystic, and Giveaway - October 25, 2012New York Comic Con, Part 3 - October 19, 2012

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