Archive for the ‘Ted Cross’ Tag

Do You Enjoy Techno Thrillers?   1 comment

Ted Cross announces a one-week-only 99 cent sale of The Immortality Game
Ted Cross's photo.

Ted Cross announces that starting today and for the one week only, The Immortality Game will be .99 on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes, and GooglePlay!

Please share if you have any friends who enjoy this type of technothriller

BHB Announces The Shard   Leave a comment


Interview with Ted Cross   6 comments

Fellow Breadwater Harbor Books author Ted Cross is my guest today. Ted is the author of The Immortality Game, a science-fiction dystopian fantasy, and about to publish a second book The Shard.


Tell us a little bit about yourself.

First of all, thanks so much for doing this, Lela! I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and raised mainly in Tucson. I graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in Russian Studies in 1992, and the next year moved to Moscow, Russia to work in the embassy. I met and married my wife there–we’ve been married nearly twenty years now, and we have two sons, ages 16 and 14. Besides reading and writing, my hobbies are chess, guitar, photography, soccer, basketball, and traveling. I’m allergic to most cats and dogs, so we just have a pet parakeet, named Sheldon after the character on Big Bang Theory.
What was the first story you ever wrote?
An epic fantasy novel called The Shard. I started it while living in Beijing in 2006 and completed it in Iceland in 2009. I’ve never quite been satisfied with it, so I keep tinkering, and I’m hopeful I can publish it next year.
What in life really motivates you?
Other than taking care of my family, I love creativity and I have a desire to do something that people will enjoy. The Immortality Game touches on the theme of immortality, and that has long been a motivation of mine. I’ve long been very aware of how short life is, and I admire those people, from Michelangelo to Mozart to the Beatles, who create something that lasts far beyond their own lifetimes. I dream of doing that.
Ted Cross Creek near Sedona
So, I’m going to strand you in a remote Alaskan cabin for a month (in the summer, so you don’t have to worry about stocking the woodstove, and you have sufficient food, ghiardia-free water and plenty of bug spray). Do you spend the time hiking around or do you bring a collection of books to read? If you’re bringing books, what are they?
I would love to visit Alaska! I got to live in Iceland for two years and it was fantastic, it had no real trees. I’d love to go hiking in those beautiful forests you have. But I’d have to have books with me, of course. There are shelves full of great books that I long to read but haven’t been able to get to yet, so I’d love to bring many of those. Then I also like to re-read old favorites, so I’d bring the Rome series from Colleen McCullough, the Earthsea series from Ursula Le Guin, Tolkien’s various books, the Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin, Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, and Patrick Rothfuss’s Kvothe series.
What are the major writing influences in your life?
Tolkien was the biggest early influence, as he is with so many fantasy writers, but the one who actually got me to sit down and start typing out my first story was George R.R. Martin. I loved his gritty realism as applied to fantasy, and I liked the method he used of rotating chapters between POV characters. I mimicked that in my fantasy novel, but I found that wouldn’t quite work in The Immortality Game. It’s a thriller, so it’s too fast paced for only a single POV per chapter. I had to switch between characters too often to be able to create a satisfying chapter arc.
TIG Cover
Tell us about the Immortality Game.
I got to know Moscow and the terror of the Russian mafia very well while living there for four years in the mid-90’s. I’ve long wanted to convey that in a story but couldn’t figure out how to make it work for a whole novel. Later I had some ideas for some twists on old sci-fi tropes, and I realized I could make the story work by combining these ideas with my old mafia tale. I really wanted to take a couple of normal, innocent people and throw them into absolute hell–sort of a Quentin Tarantino story done in Moscow–and make them either sink or swim. I wanted them to face their horror like we all would, and come very close to giving up, but though of course it doesn’t make for a good story if they don’t find some inner reserve and choose to fight for their lives.
What gave you the idea for this story?
Besides what I already mentioned above, I had a wizard character in my epic fantasy with a fascinating backstory. He had been a Russian scientist from Earth who arrived with the first mission to colonize a planet outside of our solar system. The new planet has a moon made of an element that isn’t present in our solar system, and this element works on the body in a way that can seem much like what we call magic, but it doesn’t work on the natives of the planet, so only those who arrived from Earth end up being ‘wizards’. As I fleshed out this character’s backstory, I used the previously mentioned elements, and his backstory became so intriguing to me that I ended up having to write it.
Given the subject, is there any sort of message in it?
I am not huge on deep messages, so there’s nothing in the book that purposely conveys anything deep. If it’s in there, it’s a byproduct of having a full story with characters that feel real to me. Of course the story touches on many themes, from what technology may be doing to us as humans to wondering if there limitations we should impose on ourselves, if we could. I happen to believe that if we CAN do something (as a race), we will, regardless of the consequences. Wishing we could stop certain things from developing won’t work, because even if we (the USA) decide not to do something, someone somewhere else in the world will still do it.
Oh, so true! How did you develop your stunning cover?
I have long loved two particular living artists, Alan Lee and Stephan Martiniere. I have Martiniere prints on my wall at home. I didn’t even check with him initially, because I assumed it would cost far too much for me to afford. So I checked with other artists, since I really wanted a cover that would follow my vision for it in a high-quality way. In the end I got bold enough to ask Stephan, and he was more reasonable than I expected. He was also a pleasure to work with, and he really nailed what I was after. I did worry that it might have too many elements in it, making the artwork too busy, but it actually turned out great. I don’t know if you’ve pulled it up to larger size, but there is so much to see in there. The Pyramid and twin hotel towers are the mafia base. The air cars in their various lanes are all over in my future. You can see Zoya crouching on the right side, with a nice cathedral behind her. And there are flurries of what look like snow but is actually poplar seeds, a symbol throughout the book and something I wanted in the story since poplar seeds are a big part of each Russian summer.
It’s a great cover, Ted! Well worth the effort. What are some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered as an indie author?
The biggest one is simply getting noticed. The development of indie writing has opened the floodgates, meaning that while there is good work out there, there is far more mediocre to bad work, and this tidal wave has made readers wary. They look to the already famous authors for the most part, and they are very nervous about paying their hard-earned money for someone they have never heard about. That’s part of why I insisted on paying for such a high-quality cover–I needed to demonstrate to readers that I have a commitment to quality, and I hope they will believe that this commitment extends to my writing and not just the cover.
What are your plans for the future?
I have a bunch of stories ready to work on, and while they are all set in the same ‘universe’, they are all meant to be able to stand alone while still contributing to the particular flavor of my universe. I plan on some characters appearing in each novel so there will be some continuity, but I don’t have plans for a traditional trilogy with a long single storyline.
Anything else you would like to add.
I’m truly grateful that Scott Toney and Cara Goldthorpe built Breakwater Harbor Books and allowed me to join! Indie writing is tough enough without doing every last thing on your own. Having a support group is tremendously helpful.
I feel the same way. I was very pleased when Scott invited me in. I think a cooperative imprint is the best of both possible worlds for an indie author.
Ted’s book The Immorality Game was released a few months ago.

Moscow, 2138. With the world only beginning to recover from the complete societal collapse of the late 21st Century, Zoya scrapes by prepping corpses for funerals and dreams of saving enough money to have a child. When her brother forces her to bring him a mysterious package, she witnesses his murder and finds herself on the run from ruthless mobsters. Frantically trying to stay alive and save her loved ones, Zoya opens the package and discovers two unusual data cards, one that allows her to fight back against the mafia and another which may hold the key to everlasting life.

Facebook page: Ted.Cross.Author
Twitter: tedacross

Stay Tuned for Writing Wednesday   Leave a comment

This week’s interview is with Ted Cross, author of The Immortality Game.

Lela Markham Interviewed by Cross Words   1 comment

Author Interview — Lela Markham

Joining the small publisher Breakwater Harbor Books has allowed me to get to know some really awesome writers. I’m happy today to get to interview one of those writers, Lela Markham. I haven’t yet finished reading the entire book, but her Celtic high fantasy novel The Willow Branch is truly fascinating so far. Since reading Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain as a child I have loved Celtic tales, and The Willow Branch is a story all lovers of Celtic myth will enjoy.

Lela, tell us a bit about yourself:

Thanks for having me, Ted. I grew up and still live in Alaska, where my family has lived off-and-on since the 1930s. I’ve traveled, but this is home and an adventure like none other. I live in a small city with all the modern conveniences, but I’m half-an-hour from real wilderness where the wildlife is in charge. And since my husband insists upon going out into that wilderness, I’ve had plenty of adventures and raised two fearless offspring.

I envy you, as I’ve always wanted to visit Alaska. Hopefully I can someday. When did you begin writing?

My mother claims I told stories as soon as I could talk, but a teacher in the 5th grade made me write one of them down. I hated the assignment – it was planned and felt really stilted – but I got the highest grade in the class and the teacher said I had talent. Talent will only get you so far, so I decided to rewrite the story for my own pleasure. I think it was still horrible, but the exercise ignited something in me – a passion for writing that has never gone out. I’ve kept working at it, trying to hone my skills (which is shaped talent) for four decades now. I trained as a journalist, worked as a small-town reporter and then decided I’d rather work for a living wage and write fiction for my own pleasure. I try to learn from others, but also recognize that my voice is unique and sometimes I have to with what it says.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

That I can choose or create where I want to go in my head and populate it with people and settings that I want to explore and that I can take other people with me.

What inspires you to write?

The world provides plenty of inspiration – news, movies, conversations you overhear in the grocery store, my pastor’s sermons, the anarcho-capitalists of Fairbanks …. I used to work in the mental health field and a psychiatrist told me once that the only difference between writers and schizophrenics is that writers (usually) know there’s a difference between what’s going on in their head and actual reality and I think I represent that. Writing flows out of me and demands that I create. Wherever I go and whatever I’m doing, I get inspiration and that translates into stories and I jot them down in a stenographer’s pad for later use in whatever story I end up developing.

What is your writing process?

When stories first start to develop, there’s no plan or even a plot. Usually, a character will start to form in my head while I’m doing something mundane – washing dishes or filing at work. That character will start to tell me his/her story. If that character hangs around for a while (and they don’t all do that), then I’ll write something about them to see what follows. If a world starts to develop around that character, then I will start to outline and bring in other pieces of writing from the “notebook cache.” Eventually, I’ll decide that this story needs a direction and an ending and I’ll begin to fashion the story to flow that way and step up key milestones and determine which characters are willing to do what at any given point. Since my characters really write themselves, often my writing process is about figuring out what they will and will not do, because they have their own personalities and limitations and it is up to me as the writer to find out what those are.

Where do you like to write?

I don’t have a favorite place to write. For many years, we lived in a tiny cabin where my computer was in the main living room, so I grew used to writing with people around and televisions blaring in the background. Now that I have a laptop, I write during my breaks at work, on planes, in the bedroom, by the wood stove, in the kitchen, in coffee shops, on the deck in the sun, sometimes during water breaks on hikes (I use a paper notebook for those last two). I’ll jot down ideas that come to me when I’m watching movies with the family. Some places tend to lend themselves to certain stories and others don’t, but I will literally write anywhere and anytime. Generally, I drink coffee or tea while I’m writing and I don’t usually eat because I hate crumbs in the keyboard. When I’m getting down to the serious parts of writing, it’s usually just me, my laptop, music in the background, a cup of coffee, and the continuity notebook for whatever book I’m working on.

I admire that tenacity. I’m so picky about writing that I have to have silence and I only work in my office at home! What is something you’ve written that will never see the light of day?

In high school, I wrote a lot of fan fictions for my friends based on TV shows we all liked, but were ultimately awful or maybe great because they got canceled. I think maybe I improved on them. My husband found a box of it and stuck it in a binder, but it will never be published because of copyright concerns. It was actually a great exercise, taking so-so episodic writing and making it better, giving minor characters fuller attention, finishing stories that were canceled mid-season. Call it weight-lifting for writers.

What’s the hardest thing about writing for you?

Ending a story. Even when I’ve decided how it will end, I often do not want to say goodbye to the surviving characters. I think I write series for that reason. I know how the Daermad Cycle is going to end, but I have a nice long while before I get there.

How many books have you written and which is your favorite?

I’ve written dozens over the decades, but I’ve officially finished only four and those are in various stages of revision or restructuring, except The Willow Branch. The door is shut on that. Onward to Mirklin Wood. My favorite is probably my dystopian A Well in Emmaus, which will be a series. I get to bring in a lot of threads from political philosophy, history, anarchism, faith, psychology, even economics and I really love that. I think the Daermad Cycle is my second, and again, because it is so intricate.

What are some of your favorite books?

Zenna Henderson’s People collection were my first introduction to fantasy (they called it sci-fi back then, but it isn’t really). I have a soft spot for it still. Madelein L’Engle’s books remain favorites, especially The Young Unicorns. I have a library full of classics – Austen, Dickens, Hemingway. I love the letters of the American Founders. My favorite fantasy authors are Katharine Kerr and Kate Elliott. My favorite sci-fi authors are still Bradbury, Heinlein and Asimov. I re-read Fahrenheit 451 last year and was surprised at how prescient Bradbury was – he described ear buds and wide-screen media rooms 50 years before they existed and his take on the alienation of modern America is stunning.

Since we’re both new to Breakwater Harbor Books imprint, tell me about your experience with them.

I’ve known Scott Toney and Cara Goldthorpe from Authonomy for a long time. I think Scott’s Ark of Humanity might have been the first or second book I read on the site and I backed it to the ED for a year. Scott gave me lots of feedback on The Willow Branch right after I came out with a major rewrite. Then we sort of lost contact until he found me or I found him on Facebook a few months ago. I checked out the BHB website and complimented him and then he asked me if I was interested in joining the imprint. I had already done most of the work on The Willow Branch. Scott Butcher, who is not part of BHB, acted as my editor for it — it was a read-swap that went above and beyond. I literally agreed to join BHB three days before the ebook launch. Since then, it’s been a warm and welcoming atmosphere and I’ve picked up a few author interviews from the relationship (both interviewing me and then my interviewing others, which drives traffic to my blog). Scott was moving houses, so things were quiet for a while, but now I see how being a member of a group of writers will allow me access to alpha and beta readers, critique on cover art, and help with promotion. Ivan appears to be a Twitter warrior, which I am ambivalent about, but I enjoy blogging, so I could support him there. That sort of thing. It’s tough being an indie author, but if we can find ways to work together, to play off of each other’s strengths, then we become better publishers as a group.

Promo Blurb from my press kit —

Lela Markham is the pen name of an Alaskan novelist who was raised in a home built of books. Alaska is a grand adventure like none other with a culture that embraces summer adventure and winter artist pursuits.

Lela has been a journalist, worked in the mental health field and is currently works for the State of Alaska, but her avocation has always been storyteller.

Her first published book The Willow Branch begins an exploration of the world of Daermad where a fractured kingdom leaves two races vulnerable to destruction by a third and opens the opportunity to mend old wounds. Lela drew inspiration from Celtic mythology, Alaskan raven legends and the Bible to craft a tale of war, faith and reconciliation. And, don’t forget … Celtic goddesses, sentient animals and dragons.

Lela shares her life with her adventuresome husband and two fearless offspring and a sentient husky who keeps a yellow Lab as a pet.

Lela in the lovely Alaskan wilderness

Back Cover Pitch:

A healer must mend a fractured kingdom and bring two enemy races together before a greater enemy destroys them both.

Fate took Prince Maryn by surprise, leaving Celdrya to tear itself apart. A century later an army amasses against the warring remains of the kingdom as prophesy sends a half-elven healer on a journey to find the nameless True King. Padraig lacks the power to put the True King on the throne, yet compelled by forces greater than himself, Padraig contends with dark mages, Celtic goddesses, human factions and the ancient animosities of two peoples while seeking a myth. With all that distraction, a man might meet the True King and not recognize him.

The Willow Branch is available on Amazon and Smashwords!

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