Tag Archives: Imagine Dragons

An Interview with Angela Ackerman

Woot! I have awesome luck. Not too long ago, I managed to score an interview with the awesome Becca Puglisi. I’m happy to announce that now, I have managed to score an interview with her partner, the amazing Angela Ackerman. As you all know, I’ve recieved a ton of help with improving my writing thanks to their Emotion Thesaurus. I’ll go into greater detail about it another day (I can’t believe I’ve not written about it before), but in the meantime, here’s my interview with Angela. Hope you like it.

R.w.Foster: Please introduce yourself to my readers.

Angela Ackerman: Instructions like this always make me feel like I’m attending an A.A. meeting….my name is Angela, I live in Canada, I write books, it has been three weeks since my last confession meeting interview… Angela Ackerman

The “official” stuff is that I am one of the co-authors of The Emotion Thesaurus and a few others, I run Writers Helping Writers with the fabulous Becca Puglisi, who is basically my twin (the better one) and when I do get around to writing fiction, I tend to pen the dark side of middle grade rather than the fluffy, fun side. I also like teaching writing, dreaming up tools that writers need, and then creating them. Oh, and I believe in kindness. Trite I know, but true. My attitude is if you can do some good, then do.

R.w.F: Would you tell us about your latest (or an upcoming) release?

A.A.: Not a book release in the traditional sense, but then I’m not really someone who colors in the lines. Becca, myself and the creator of Scrivener for Windows, Lee Powell are collaborating on something called One Stop For Writers, which is basically a cool online brainstorming library that takes all our work (writing books and online thesaurus content) and puts it together in one place. Beautifully searchable and cross-linked, it provides a wealth of information writers can access as they create, so they write more efficiently and describe more effectively. There are a few other things on the site as well, including new tools we’ve built and a one-of-a-kind generator. One Stop will evolve over time as Becca and I conjure up more useful tools, and Lee works his techno-voodoo to bring it all together in an innovative, intuitive way. One Stop launches on October 7th and we are pretty excited (translation: as excited as preschoolers swimming through a vat of sugar.)

R.w.F: Are you traditionally published, self-published, an independent, or a some combination?

A.A.: I guess a combo best describes me? All three of our books are self-published, but we have traditional translation deals with publishers in Korea, Romania, and we’re waiting for the paperwork for Japan.

R.w.F: What made you chose to go this route with publishing?

A.A.: A few things. First of all, we had an odd project, a book that was, more than anything else, a set of lists. The traditional market (especially in 2012) liked things, well, traditional. We knew it would take a long time to find a publisher willing to take a project like ours on. We were also seeing copycats of our work cropping up and knew if we didn’t get our book out there, someone else would take the idea and run with it. Self-publishing was a terrific option for us, and I am so happy we went this route. We’ve turned down more than a few traditional offers since, simply because publishers as of yet have anything to bring forward that makes fiscal sense. Besides, Becca and I like that we are in control of the end product. It would be hard for us to give that up.

R.w.F: Are you exclusive to one platform?

A.A.: No. We publish across all platforms, print and ebook, and offer PDFs to those who wish using a service called Gumroad.

R.w.F: Do you write by the seat of your pants, outline, or a combination?

 

A.A.: For fiction, I am a “plantser,” meaning I plan some, pants some. For NF, I am a strict planner.

R.w.F: What does the standard advice of “Write what you know” mean to you?

A.A.: This is “safe” advice that should only be loosely adhered to: write in genres you read voraciously, unless that genre doesn’t exist: then experiment and create your own by blending the genre elements you enjoy best. A better rendition of this advice might be: write what you are passionate about, and care enough to get the details right for your readers.

R.w.F: Now for the more unusual questions. None are X-rated.

R.w.F:  What is your current desktop picture? (would you share it with us?)

Angela's desktop

R.w.F: The last song you listened to?

Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

R.w.F: You can only have one kind of sandwich. Every sandwich ingredient known to humankind is at your disposal. What kind do you make?

A.A.: Easy–toasted peanut butter and bacon. Try it and you’ll know why.

Thanks for these fun questions Rob. As I said, I like people who don’t always color inside the lines. J

Angela

And thank you, Angela for agreeing to do this with me.

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Into the Realm: The Chronicles of Carter Blake, Book I (C1,S1)

Chapter 1

 

Subchapter 1

Let me tell you a story. My name is Carter Blake. I live in southwest Baltimore in a row house smack in the center of a shitty neighborhood. I’m sixteen and a junior at Johns-Hopkins University. I had skipped grades a few times. Not the easiest way to live, but my options were limited. I’d either be pummeled daily for being a total geek in high school or I’d be a pariah in college. I chose the latter. Funny thing: what used to get me beat up almost every day – intelligence – got me a lot of respect in the university. I arrived home after a series of lectures on Renormalization.

The professor, Dr. Kevin Rosenthal, had interesting ideas on their applications in cold fission. I got some amusement out of seeing most of my older classmates staring slack-jawed after each of Professor Rosenthal’s more abstract lectures. They had stunned looks on their faces when he delved into his own hypotheses regarding Perturbation theory. The non-befuddled ones would struggle to stay awake due to their all night cram sessions. The Prof frowns on sleeping in class and will use a slumbering student as target practice with his chalk-laden eraser. Unlike my other professors, he preferred chalk boards to dry erase ones. For those three of us still tuned in, his lectures were as stimulating to the mind as a Penthouse centerfold is to the body.
I threw my jacket over the banister, just inside the back door, and trudged up the stairs to my bedroom. I dropped the load of books from my back to the floor with a satisfying thud and a sigh of relief. I collapsed in front of my computer, flicked it on, grabbed a soda from a mini-fridge nearby and waited for the system to start. Afternoons were when I indulged in my favorite role-playing game, BattleHammer. It’s a swords and sorcery, hack-and-slash, dungeon crawler type RPG. I played the tabletop version on the weekends, but this was my fix between those sessions. As the computer came on, I hit a button on the stereo remote. Seconds later, the first notes from an Imagine Dragons album wafted from the speakers. I cranked up the volume to window vibrating and spun back to the monitor.
I loaded my current favorite BattleHammer avatar, a dark dwarf fighter named Drago the Clanless. He was Clanless because Mordecai, the Rakshasha wizard, had wiped them out. Drago vowed on his dead clans’ souls he’d wear the mage’s guts for garters and his skull for a cap. While I waited for him to load, I received a message from another gamer with the screen name of “Gandalf.” I rolled my eyes at that, and clicked to check his profile. I laughed when I realized the character he was controlling was one of a race called “treebeard” named “Pippin.”
After I played for a few hours, I spun in my chair, and flipped open the mini-fridge.  I scowled at its bare shelves. ‘I’ve got to remember to restock.’
            I clicked off the stereo, trotted downstairs to get another soda and considered making dinner. Mom wasn’t due home for an hour. Father disappeared around the time I turned three. I didn’t have many memories of him, only a vague short mental film of a shadowy person who seemed to be powerful. I wasn’t too fond of him for what he did, though I harbored a secret desire to meet him.
I grabbed steaks from the refrigerator and tossed them on the counter. Stepping out the back door, I walked over to ignite the charcoal in my grill. I wanted it warming up while I marinated the beef in a glass baking pan. I walked back in and over to the counter. I poured vodka over the beautiful meat (I am an avowed steak lover), adding spices and some extra virgin olive oil. I stuck the pan of steaks in the fridge and stood there; debating what else to make. My cell rang and I answered without looking at the id.
“This is Carter.”
“It’s Daphne,” was the melodious reply.
Daphne Sinclaire is 24, and the most gorgeous lab partner a guy would want. She stands at 167.6 cm, and weighs in at 83.9 kilos of firm athleticism. She has coppery red hair, sea-foam green eyes and an awesome 34D-32-38 body. How do I know her measurements? Simple: I asked.

At the start of the semester I won a bet with her. We’d been paired by chance for a science expo which had a cash prize of $5,000 each and, better yet, a write-up in Scientific American. Daphne wasn’t too pleased, in particular when she learned that not only could she not trade partners, but this project would also affect our final marks. She made it crystal clear that she didn’t want her grade to depend on, as she put it, “A little kid.” To attempt to placate her, I declared we’d win. She scoffed. I challenged her to place a wager. The terms were simple: if she won (by our losing), I’d be her personal servant for three years, no task refused. If I won (by being right – as usual –  about the outcome), I would be able to ask her five questions that she had to answer. Confident that we’d lose, she agreed.
Not only did our exhibition of sustainable cold fission win, we were invited to demonstrate it to all sorts of government officials. Once we’d won, my first question was what her measurements were. So far, it was the only one after two years. Since then, she had become a lot friendlier.
“What can I do for you?” I asked.
“I’m hoping you’d be willing to assist me with my psych assignment,” she replied.
“Certainement. Have you had dinner?”
“Nope. Why?”
“You’re welcome join Mom and me. We’re having steak and…Something.”
She laughed, causing a rush of heat to the pit of my stomach. “Alright. What time should I arrive?”
“How about…,” I paused.
“Well?” she prompted.
“ASAP.”
Daphne laughed again, “Roger. Wilco,” then disconnected.

I enjoyed hearing the military jargon from her. She’d picked it up from her dad, an Army sergeant.
My heart flipped. A female was about to be a guest of mine for the first time! To ask if I was excited would be like asking if a bear shit in the woods. A major understatement. On a typical day, I went over to her apartment on campus.

I grabbed three hefty potatoes from the bin, washed them, wrapped them in foil with a dash of salt and olive oil and slung them in the oven. I raced upstairs to shower. I arrived in my room before I remembered I had left the blasted thing off. Slapping my forehead in frustration, I hurried down and set it for 350 degrees. I ran back up, stripped and jumped into the shower.
While tying my sneakers, I heard a knock at the front door. I scampered downstairs and swung it open. The sight of her took my breath away. Daphne wore a light green tank top that accentuated her red hair. Emerald eyes were highlighted by purple eye shadow and a black denim mini-skirt that drew my interest. On her left wrist, she had on a gold hoop bracelet and an antique Mickey Mouse wristwatch. Her feet were in black flats. ‘You are so gorgeous.’  I didn’t have the courage to say it aloud.
I stood back and waved her in. She smiled and entered, turning with her right hand positioned so I couldn’t tell what she was carrying. After a few moments, she presented a bottle of Pinot Noir with a flourish. I chuckled at the expression on her face which seemed to say, “Look at what I did.”
“Why are you staring?” she asked with a smile.
“You’re cute.”
“Carter,” she said with a rise in inflection at the end. “Don’t.”
I raised my hands in surrender. “Relax. I’m not making another pass. The last attempt and subsequent shooting down was enough of a lesson.”
I took the wine from her, opened the bottle so it could breathe, and placed it on the counter. “Can you think of anything else we should have? Potatoes are baking in the oven.”  I gestured at the refrigerator.
Daphne shrugged and opened the doors of the fridge. As she searched, I pulled the steaks out and took them over to the grill. They were just beginning to sizzle when my mom’s car rolled up in the alley. She strolled through the back gate and waved. Mom was wearing her usual office uniform: blue jeans, a half-tucked white blouse and black tennis shoes. Her auburn hair pulled into a messy bun. An ink pen stuck out of it. Her laptop was slung over her right shoulder as always. Mom is one of the few women I know who didn’t carry a purse. Her brown eyes seemed tired. She walked over and pulled me down for a forehead kiss. She had to stand on tiptoes to do so; she’s 165.1 centimeters, and I’m 185.42. Yeah, I’m an overachiever in everything.
“Hey, baby,” she said. “How was school?”
“Informative,” I replied, “as always.”
Mom chuckled. “Daphne’s car is parked out front. Will she be staying for dinner?”
“Yes’m. She brought red wine for the two of you. Sounds like she’s making a salad.”
“I wish you wouldn’t ask our guests to assist with meals,” Mom complained, tucking her blouse the rest of the way into her jeans.
“On any other day, I would not. However, since she has asked for homework assistance, don’t you think it’s fair I be compensated for my time?”
Mom shook her head with a laugh and went into the house after readjusting her bun. I saw her greet my study partner through the back window. Twenty minutes after I started, the steaks were done.

 

Continues here.