Friday, January 23, 2015

Things Grak Hates... But His Author Loves

Hello all! I hope you have all had more fabulous weeks than the thought of a saber tooth tiger performing Swan Lake.

A quick reminder, there is a nifty way to help support the efforts of Reading is Fundamental, which is focused on spreading literacy. Two of my short stories were recently published in a collection of paranormal fiction called "Gates of Erebus," all the proceeds of which will be going to Reading is Fundamental!

Well this week I have the great pleasure to have author Peter J. Story as a guest on the blog. Peter has written a rad little book called "Things Grak Hates."

"Things Grak Hates" is a wonderful trip into the mind of history's first ever possible sociopath. This wonderfully bizarre little piece of satire explores the dynamics of human personality in caveman form. And here Peter J. Story is to tell us all about it:  

How long have you been writing? 

I’ve been writing for nearly as long as I can remember, though I’d have to say it really became a passion around the age of ten. My uncle introduced me to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, and I was instantly captivated. My love affair with the written word has only grown since.

What inspired you to write this book? 

I’ve spent years as a student of human nature, so this book was inspired largely by my observations. By setting the story in a prehistoric landscape among a tribe of nomads, I was able to portray actions and their effects on a much more noticeable scale. Things rarely escalate at the pace they do in this story, of course; but I think you’ll spot a clear reflection of modern society.

 Where did the name Grak come from?

I was just looking for something “nomadic” sounding, that was easy to pronounce and easy to remember. Grak fit the bill.

When writing this book, did you hear one of the narrators from National Geographic in your head narrating this book from the bushes?

No, I imagined a voice with a bit more whimsy.

If you had to describe this book in exactly five words, what would those words be?

Human nature at its worst.

If Grak had a modern occupation, what would you surmise it would be?

Grak’s power-grubbing nature (and lack of real marketable skills) could put him squarely in some middle management position. Of course, he could also be a genocidal dictator, an overreaching HOA president, or your posturing co-worker. As some readers have pointed out, there’s a little Grak in each of us…

What was the most difficult part of writing this book?

There were two very challenging elements that I encountered in writing this book. The first was portraying everything through Grak’s eyes. The second was limiting the scope of the story. I tend to run away with a story and its characters; but in this story, I had to keep that tendency in check in order to maintain the slow pace and gradual build up.

Do you, the author, hate olives as much as your character Grak?

No. I love olives.

If you want to find out more about "Things Grak Hates" or the author check out Peter J. Story's Facebook Page!

As always, you can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!  

Friday, January 16, 2015

A Nifty Hyde Out

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been going more fantastically than the thought of a thousand potbelly pigs cannonball diving into a pool!

This past week Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor got another fabulous five star review. Reader A. Reynolds writes, " It is so hard to find a book that makes you laugh out loud as you read the stories, but this book had me laughing non-stop!"

Well, Sunday I had the opportunity to once again have a book signing and reading at Hyde Park Books!

Hooked on Phonics Worked For Me
A mammoth thank you to everyone who came! It was an absolutely rad event.

Also a humongous thank you to Hyde Park Books owner Marti for allowing me to come in, rearrange furniture and yell in her shop (I get a little loud and animated when I read, particularly when the character I'm reading is a bit schnockered.)

If you missed me while I was in Boise, never fear, I will most likely be back during the summer! Of course, I will keep you all posted here.

In other news, I have recently had two short, fictional stories, that were published in a new anthology from Dream Weaver Anthologies called Gates of Erebus!

The proceeds from the book will go to Reading Is Fundamental to support global literacy! So if you're looking for some eerie fiction, check it out!

For more tour dates, information or just because inquisitive minds need to know come find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Government Cheese

Hello all! I hope you had a more fantastic week than the thought of a billion fireflies skywriting the lyrics to ZZ Top's 'Sharp Dressed Man!"

A quick reminder I will be at Hyde Park Books in Boise for a book signing and reading this Sunday, January 11th!

Doesn't This Place Just Look Nifty!
If you happen to be in town come on down for just a peachy-keen time!

For those of you who don't know, I have a very... shall we say interesting job. I am author by night, head of security for a large homeless shelter by day.

This means that, along with telling people not to try to stab others with yogurt, I also get to hear every conspiracy theory that our patrons might wish to impart upon me.

After my third day on the job I started a list, that list is now eight pages long with writing sideways in all the margins. So, just so you all know what is really happening in the world, here are a few things my clients have told me:

The head of the Spokane Police Department is in fact in league with aliens to take over the world.

Apparently the road to world domination goes mid-sized city police chief to sovereign world leader. Who knew?

If you close your eyes and see the color black then you probably have a demon infestation in your brain.

*Closes Eyes* Ah crud-muffins! I see black! You too!? Well, that's it, holy water and exorcisms all around then.

Bill Gates is planning on taking over the world using his X-Boxes to send subliminal messages to people playing video games to eat the wrong kind of yogurt.

This one kind of made sense until we hit yogurt. I mean, who doesn't think that Bill Gates is trying to take over the world at least once in their life? What kind of yogurt is the wrong kind of yogurt? (I actually asked what the 'wrong kind of yogurt' would be, but was told, "Oh, you know.")

Fluoride in the water will start the next zombie apocalypse.

What I found interesting is apparently there was a previous zombie apocalypse. Did I nap through that part of history class?

The police will only take me to jail if I stab the wrong people. 

You're right. If you stab imaginary people then the police will not take you in. If you stab a real person, you might be kind of hosed. 

The FBI and the CIA are creating a massive plan to strip Americans of their cheese rights.

I asked what 'cheese rights' were, and apparently Americans have the rights of life, liberty and cheese. That's right, who knew that Tillamook was actually just defending our basic human rights?

Have you guys heard any fun conspiracies lately?

As always you can find me on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads.

Friday, January 2, 2015

This Past Year in (Book) Review!

Hello! I hope everyone's New Years was more splendid than the thought of a thousand aye-ayes bouncing on pogo sticks.

Thank you to everyone who bought copies of "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" and "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" during November and December! You helped raise over one-hundred dollars for SpokAnimal! Thank you for helping keep animals safe this winter!

So as we look back over 2014 we think of all the new paths we forged, every friend we've made, the books we read...

What? I can't be the only one who enjoys taking a retrospective look at her bookshelf, right?

Well in case you are looking for some great reads to kick off your 2015, here were some of my favorites from 2014:

 Etiquette and Espionage

This delightful book by Gail Carriger takes one on a steampunk adventure through Victorian England's most exclusive boarding school for young, fashionable and deadly young women.

With fantastic names, like Lord Dingleproops, and the casual inclusion of vampires and werewolves, Carriger makes this an easy book to read in a single sitting. If you're looking for a fun, entertaining and easy read, I would highly suggest this book.

Batgirl: The Darkest Reflection

What can I say? I love strong female lead characters.

Rescuing Barbara Gordon from the previous Batgirl series' women in fridge trope was no easy feat, and writer Gail Simone does it with style.

As Barbara Gordon (Batgirl) recovers from a near fatal gunshot from the Joker and starts to fight crime again, we see a she-ro (heroine just sounds so druggy) that is having to prove to her mentors and herself that she is ready to help defend Gotham again.

Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint

This deep introspective look at one woman's journey from down-and-out rebel to opening one of the most inclusive modern churches in America is definitely worth the read.

Whether you consider yourself religious (of any kind of faith or religion) or not, Nadia Bolz-Weber makes some excellent points about our status on this planet as human beings.

Her own journey and insights she discusses provide us with a healthy reminder that we are all nothing more than human, and as such are all still in development. 

How the Scots Invented the Modern World

Anyone interested in Western world history should take a gander at this book.

Not only was Arthur Herman's writing interesting and engaging, but he draws a very clear map of how one of the poorest and most culturally backwards nations became one of the leaders in educated thought, religious theories, modern architecture and city planning.

This was a well researched and thoroughly fascinating read.

 The Wee Free Men

I have always been a fan of Terry Pratchett's writing, but "The Wee Free Men" may be my favorite work of his that I have read so far.

Young Tiffany Aching, armed only with her wits, her superior cheese-making skills and a frying pan, must go after the evil Queen of Elves who has kidnapped her brother and threatens to destroy her home. Luckily, she has help from the Nac Mac Feegle, a group of six-inch-tall crazy men.

This book was a fun adventure and downright hilarious. I haven't laughed so hard while reading a book in a long time. If you need something that is both fun and funny, snag this book.

So what did you all read during 2014? Any good recommendations? I would love to hear them!

As always, I can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Back Off Elf!

Hello all! I hope you all had Merrier Christmases than the thought of Santa and his elves doing a conga line to "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen!"

Just a quick reminder, half of my profits from copies sold of Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus and Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor this month will go to benefit the efforts of SpokAnimal!

So snag a book and help out animals like BoBo here stay safe and warm! Also, if you're looking for a friendly fuzzy to add to your home, BoBo is available for adoption!

And now on to our regularly scheduled broadcast.

I enjoy holiday festivities as much as the next Christmas cookie and wassail consuming person. However, this week, as I was inundated with countless Christmas tunes, I suddenly began to realize just how creepy some of these songs actually are.

The more I listened to the lyrics, the more weirded out I got. Here are just a few of my festive findings:

Santa Baby

To start off, this song is basically a woman attempting to seduce Santa into giving her a car, a diamond ring, a platinum mine... basically she's the biggest coal-digger ever.

Then there's the fact that this song was originally sung by Eartha Kitt. Now, for those of you who don't know Eartha Kitt, she was one of the original actresses that played Catwoman in the Adam West Batman series. She also played the voice of the villain Yzma in The Emperor's New Groove.

This means that Santa is basically either being seduced by Catwoman:

Or Yzma:

I'm honestly not sure which one is a creepier prospect. I'll let you decide.

Baby It's Cold Outside

This song has more rapey innuendo in it than a Robin Thicke music video!

Originally sung by, what sounds like an incredibly sloshed, Dean Martin, the little ditty comes complete with lines like, "Beautiful, what's your hurry?" and, "Baby don't hold out."

The woman's responds with things like, "The answer is no," and, "Say, what's in this drink," which really take away any possibility that this girl isn't being seriously creeped on.

If the conversation that takes place in this song happened in a bar or restaurant, I hope nearby patrons would be looking this guy up on their phones to see if he is a registered sex offender and trying to get the girl a police escort home.

Santa Claus Is Coming To Town

"He sees you when you're sleeping, he knows when you're awake."

Was I the only one who read Orwell's 1984?

Also, "You better not pout, you'd better not cry..."

Just repress your feelings children, bottle them up inside until you explode!

Frosty the Snowman

"Frosty the snowman knew the sun was hot that day, so he said, 'Let's run and we'll have some fun now before I melt away!"

Yay kids! Your magical anthropomorphic snowman just died!

At least in Frozen they figured out  a way to not kill Olaf.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland 

Aside from the creepy snowman propositioning that occurs mid-song ("He'll say 'Are you married' we'll say 'No man, but you can do the job while you're in town..."), the real creep factor in this song is word choice.

"Later on, we'll conspire, as we dream by the fire."

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of the word "conspire" is either, "To secretly plan with someone to do something that is harmful or illegal," or, "To happen in a way that produces bad or unpleasant results."

Apparently the people in this song have much more nefarious post winter exploration plans than I ever did. It seems they got away with whatever they were planning, though, as there was no sequel song title, "Walking Into Cell Block Six."

So what Christmas songs do you find weird or disturbing?

As always, feel free to come find me (in the non-creepiest way possible) on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Let's Get This Show on the Road

Hello all! I hope your weeks have been more fantastic than the thought of a million elves doing the Truffle Shuffle to 'Jingle Bell Rock!'

Just a quick reminder, this month half of my profits from "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" and "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" will be going to help the SpokAnimal!

So buy a book and know you're helping fuzzies like Cinnamon here stay safe this holiday season. By the way, if anyone is looking for a lovable little ball of fluff, Cinnamon is currently up for adoption! So go snag this little eight-month-old guy!

Okay, I'll stop torturing you all with adorable kittens.

So as it turns out, being an author is not nearly as introverted a position as one would think. Good thing I'm only part hermit, because this show is going on the road!

I am excited to announce the first two stops on my winter book tour!

Saturday, December 20th (Yes, tomorrow, super late notice, but if you follow me on Facebook you'd have heard about it!) I will be at Monkeyboy Books, in Spokane, at 6:00 pm for a signing and reading! This is a joint event, as I will be joined by Spokane poet Mark Strutton and his gritty and poignant verses.

Then Sunday, January 11th at 3:00 pm I will be at Hyde Park Books in Boise, Idaho!

So if you're in Boise, come join us for some coffee, conversation and me making an absolute fool out of myself (which is what I tend to do in public).

I will be adding more tour dates here soon, so make sure you check here, Facebook and Twitter (@AllisonHawn) for more updates!

Have a marvelous holiday week everyone! Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Old and Rare Doesn't Mean Obsolete


Hello all! I hope your weeks were more splendid than the thought of a thousand reindeer doing a conga line to "Winter Wonderland."

A quick reminder, for the rest of this month half of my proceeds from "Life is a Circus Run by a Platypus" and "Life is a Pirate Ship Run by a Velociraptor" will be going to benefit SpokAnimal!

So help critters like Grizzley here find homes! By the way, Grizzley is up for adoption! So if anyone would love this little six year old ball of fluff, go get him.

So this week I'm diverging from my normal snarky, yet happy-go-lucky, post but it is for something that I believe is important. 

This past month owner of Spokane independent bookstore, Monkeyboy Books, Marina, announced that she may have to close up shop in the next couple of months.

I find this extremely regretable. Not only is Marina a great supporter of independent authors, but her store offers something unique; A chance to find real literary treasures and turn up wonderful memories in an atmosphere of calm, serene comfort.

Independent bookstores selling rare and old books, like Monkeyboy Books, give us something that no Barnes and Noble can provide; A chance to touch history, find the lost pieces of our own pasts and possibly discover a new adventure bound in a cover that has let others discover that same shared adventure.

We live in a society that has very little value for 'permanent' and 'rare.'

It's like our nation as a whole has a fast food mentality. New phones that will be obsolete in five months, old family recipes that have been reduced, stuffed with preservatives and packaged for four minutes of microwave convenience, even our relationships now can be decided with the swipe of a thumb across a smartphone screen.

What independent bookshops provide us with is a moment to wander through a setting that is both familiar and unexpected and provides us with something tangible, something real, something that will not easily go away.

Let me give you an example. My childhood was not exactly tiptoeing through the tulips (not complaining, just a fact). I faced trouble at school and at home, and one of my few escapes was through the world of books. When I was around four years old I found a book called Robin Hood

I sat for hours reading, and rereading, through the stories of the daring Robin Hood, the bold Little John, the cunning Maid Marion and the conniving Sheriff of Nottingham. The book had few pictures, but I didn't need them as my imagination took me on adventures that would stick with me well into adulthood.

It was while wandering through Monkeyboy Books that I happened to look down at a shelf of old fairy tales and legends, that I found the exact copy of Robin Hood that I had read so much that I literally cracked the spine of it as a child.

It was like running into an old friend and remembering all the wonderful things that you used to do together. Taking that book home and reading it again was a feeling that could not be emulated scrolling through pictures on Instagram or picking up some new cheap gadget from WalMart.

It's not just about supporting local businesses, though that is important too. Being a patron to independent book shops protects your right to have the option to find something unique, treasured and rewarding.

So please, find a local independent bookseller, one that makes you feel welcomed, comfortable, with just a touch of adventure and support them with your business. I promise you won't regret it. 

If you want to find out ways to possibly help save Monkeyboy Books, please visit them on their Facebook page.

As always, I can be found on Facebook, Twitter (@AllisonHawn) and Goodreads!