Zach Sweets's Blog

October 25, 2014

Quick Update

I know the last time I updated my blog was last June with a promising of updating my blog frequently. Well, it's almost over for October already. I wasn't able to keep up with blogging, but I was able to import most of my old blog posts that was on my old blog back in 2012 and 2013. It is all on here now. There are quite a couple of excellent guest posts you should check out. 

I can't exactly promise I'd update a blog post at least once a week but I will try at least once or twice a month. It's the best I can do at the moment. For now, my website is mostly up to dated. 
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Published on October 25, 2014 10:31

June 28, 2014

Blog's Back!!

I'm horrible at blogging. More than I'd expected, though. But that's okay. It's never too late to get back to blogging every once in a while. It's a good way for me to jot down my thoughts about my writing progress and a little taste of my personal life. J I can't promise you I'll post every day or once a week. It depends on how my mind feels. Yes, my mind can feel! Honest! It has its own mood, which sucks at times but awesome at other time. ;D

Anyway, my new site has been up for a few months so far and it has been getting pretty good hits. There is plenty of information you can find on my site for example… ever wonder what is the most recent release from me? You can check it out by clicking "The Latest" in the menu. This is the one I'll update every time I got something new to share, which is normally a new book release or a new book contract with a publisher. In my Works in Progress page, it tells you what I've been working on. I update as often as I can, but you can find out when the last time I'd updated the WIP status on the top left of the page. "Zach Sweets" is all about me. Yes, me! :D "Books" is where you can find more details about my books including buy links and blurbs. There are also a couple of reviews for each book, so you can read and see if it convinces you to grab a copy for yourself. "Contact" is probably very obvious and the best way to get a hold of me.

I'll be writing a next blog post talking about my vacation in Ireland from June 4 to 18 recently. Gorgeous country and I can't wait to share! In additional to that, I'll be adding all old posts I luckily still had it in my Goodreads blog. There are a couple of guest blog posts I didn't want it to be gone for good. 


Zach Sweets

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Published on June 28, 2014 12:29

May 24, 2013

Guest Blog: Vampire Soup by Lou Harper

Picture Vampire Soup

I’m no vampire aficionado but I’ve seen my share of blood suckers, from the Fearless Vampire Slayers to True Blood. I knew when I set out to write my own vamps, I had to make up the rules of my world. Important question had to be answered, like is garlic a major deterrent or just a minor irritant? And do male vampires ejaculate?

Instead of turning to current genre conventions, I researched into East European vampire folklore, and came across a fascinating mélange of beliefs and practices. I learned that the preferred wood for stakes varied by region and ranged widely—ash, oak, aspen, juniper, cherry and apple. Vampires weren’t always staked through the heart either—the mouth and stomach were alternate spots. Originally the stakes were used to secure dead bodies to the ground, so they couldn’t get out of their graves.

While the use of silver knives sound awful romantic, silver is too soft a metal to hold an edge. Romanies (Gypsies) preferred iron and steel. They especially had many fascinating views on vamps. For example, they believed that while vampires were invisible, they could be seen by a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday who both wore their drawers and shirts inside out. Good luck finding people like that in a pinch…

How vampires were made varied a great deal as well. They could rise from the bodies of murderers or suicide victims, or could be the victims of violent and untimely death. Not all were immortal, and some male vampires could even continue marital relations with their widows and have children. Gypsies called the male offspring of such union Dhampir. Dhampirs were destined to become vampire hunters, and so were their male offspring.

Gabe, the narrator of Spirit Sanguine comes from such lineage—born to be a slayer, although he didn’t learn the fact till after his parents’ death, from an uncle he didn’t know existed. He spent the next five years in an educational slaying-spree across Eastern Europe. At the beginning of the book he’s back in Chicago, adrift and aimless until he bumps into a young vampire. Harvey is nothing like the single-minded monsters Gabe is familiar with, and he leaves Gabe bewildered—as the following excerpt demonstrates:

Gabe awoke with a start. The first thing he saw was a pair of brown-green eyes. Harvey sat on the sofa, observing him intently. They glared at each other for a few tense seconds before the vampire lowered his gaze—all the way to Gabe’s crotch. Gabe followed it to see a large wet spot there. Sometime during the night, his grip had loosened on the plastic bag, and the melted ice had soaked into his pants, creating the most embarrassing wet patch ever.

“I have a dryer you can use,” Harvey said, snickering.

“It was ice. You have sharp knees.”

“And you have sharp sticks.”

Gabe didn’t know what he was supposed to say, so he shrugged.

Harvey made a dismissive gesture. “Good thing you’re a lousy shot.”

“You moved.”

“Ah! My bad. Is that how hunters do it? Ask the deer to hold still?”

“Well, I’m pretty sure—” Gabe caught himself. “Are you always this mouthy?”

“Why? Anything wrong with my mouth?”

“Aside from always flapping?”

“Yes, aside.”

Gabe’s gaze was drawn to Harvey’s pursed lips. No, there was nothing wrong with them. They were exceptionally fine. And it wasn’t just those lips. For someone covered in dried blood, Harvey looked…nice. Gabe remembered the stake he’d been holding when he’d fallen asleep—it was gone. He patted his cargo pockets, but they were empty as well.

“I put them away,” Harvey explained. “In case you woke up in a homicidal mood. You seem very impulsive.”

“Where—”

“They’re safe, don’t worry. May I suggest an official ceasefire? No slaying each other for a while. What do you say?”

Gabe screwed up his brows. “It’s highly unorthodox. Why would I trust you?”

“Why would I trust you? I’ve abstained from killing you or even feeding on you twice so far. You, on the other hand, have shown far less self-control. You really don’t have the moral high ground here.”

“But you are—”

“Don’t start with that whole bloodsucker bit. It’s getting old. You could try to be a little less dogmatic.”

“Okay, fine,” Gabe replied gruffly.

He didn’t like being told off on an empty stomach. Having a regular conversation with a vampire—one that didn’t even involve threats of vivisection—was weird enough. Uncle Miklos was probably spinning in his grave.

Lou Harper’s author page: LouHarper.com

Blog: http://louharper.blogspot.com

GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4783513.Lou_Harper

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lou.harper.14
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Published on May 24, 2013 09:53

May 10, 2013

Guest Blog: Where did all the zombies go by K.A. Merikan

Picture Where did all the zombies go

Monsters fall in and out of fashion, but the zombies seem to have their fifteen minutes of fame right now. They appear on clothes, various novelty items, and writers compete to re-create what used to be a corpse reanimated by means of witchcraft. Much like the vampire, the zombie has been transformed by popular culture into a monster very different from the original ghoul, but these two share a variety of common characteristics. They are both animate corpses who feed on humans, but the typical way they are presented in fiction and film is vastly different and surprisingly, it was the zombie that used to be portrayed as less ferocious.

The vampire, a bloodthirsty creature from Slavic folklore became the undead aristocrat Dracula. Forever young, he evolved into a creature struggling with his own inhumanity, which gives him great potential to be the main character of a romantic, or psychological plot. The zombie on the other hand, owes its modern image to George A. Romero, the director of the influential horror movie “The Night of the Living Dead”. This new breed of monster is driven by the mindless desire for human flesh and in many ways, it mirrors our fears of a deadly epidemic science wouldn’t be able to stop. All it takes for the infection to be transferred is one bite and within hours (or minutes), the victim becomes a moving corpse, which starts to rot and fall apart: an image much more gruesome than even the original dried out vampire. Such fears work best for the background, as the zombies themselves are usually devoid of any emotion and dehumanized.

Instead of simply making the still-breathing cast run and hide, many writers opt for a more creative approach. The BBC mini-series  “In the Flesh” plays on the idea of zombiism as an illness. In a world where the undead are being released back into society that fears and hates them, the main character, a sufferer himself, needs to cope with the consequences of the decisions he’d made long ago. For him, rising from the dead is the chance for a new beginning, and using the zombie infection as background for this story is a very interesting move. In the world of “In the Flesh”, popular culture is essentially the same as the one we know, so there are many misconceptions about the character’s condition and to some extent, people’s fears mirror the worries that accompanied the closure of mental hospitals, which is another reference the viewers may recognize.

Picture The loss of humanity is another common theme in zombie movies and fiction. It reflects the fear of what would happen if the laws society lives by crumbled. A zombie apocalypse is an excellent excuse to portray relationships within a group of survivors  who have to make up their own rules. Extreme situations can bring out the best and the worst in people, as shown in the popular tv show “The Walking Dead”. The main character, Rick, progresses from desperately trying to retain the humane rules he used to live by to becoming an absolute leader of his group. He’s still mostly a decent person, but some choices he makes in order to preserve the lives of his party are more than morally questionable. These include leaving a lonely man to die, but also handing over a fresh member of the group as a price for being left in peace by a larger gathering of people.

The very human Rick is contrasted with characters who don’t change their code of conduct after the zombie apocalypse, but also people who use the new situation as a way to gain absolute power, like the sadistic Governor. Of course, themes like these have been explored before, a prominent example being William Golding’s novel, “Lord of the Flies”, but using the zombie apocalypse as background is a clever, modern take on the topic. In a world like that, there is nowhere to run and all the freedom and happiness the characters can get depends on the structure of their group.

Picture With time, such small societies could become vastly diverse which is one of the topics me and my co-writer intend to explore in our series “Gentlemen’s Tales of Love, Lust, and the Undead”. The general idea was that we wanted to create a gritty, low-tech steampunk world as a setting for numerous books that would be only loosely related, so that they could be read as stand-alones. At some point we started discussing the possible consequences of a zombie apocalypse occurring in the second half of the nineteenth century, and we decided it would be the perfect addition to the world we were building.

Most of the stories are set in an overcrowded alternative-Victorian London, a city surrounded by tall walls, plagued by political turmoil and the threat of revolution. Even the higher classes weren’t spared by the Plague, as with the land mostly inaccessible, their resources are melting at an alarming rate. “Scavengers”, a series of three novellas set in the world of “Gentlemen’s Tales of Love, Lust and the Undead” follows James, a man desperate to maintain his family’s status. In order to do that, he has to leave the safety of the London city walls and cross the zombie-swarmed countryside alongside a mercenary he hired for the job.

Picture The zombie background in “Scavengers” delivers the necessary danger factor, but the undead are also used as research subjects at a medical university, a place we returned to in the novella “Off with Their Heads”, which tells the story of a misunderstood artist and his attempt to steal several zombie heads from the university for a moving sculpture he intends to make. The bold endeavor throws him into the arms of a prim and proper medical student, which is at the core of the story, with the zombies adding the element of grotesque and dark humor.

All the storylines I mentioned aren’t focused on the undead, the killing (even when there’s lot of it), or the constant fear. It’s the human characters that count, and it’s their passions, their difficult choices the reader is supposed to engage in. Like any other monster, the zombie is just an excuse to reveal human nature, so why limit its existence to the horror genre? As long as we treat the undead as background, the story itself can be anything: from comedy, through romance, all the way to mystery and melodrama. I’ve talked to some people who think genre crossing is risky business, but on the other hand, there are so many examples that show it can work surprisingly well. I’m all for it.

About the author

K.A. Merikan is a joint project of Kat and Agnes Merikan who jokingly claim to share one mind. They finish each other’s sentences and simultaneously come up with the same ideas. Kat and Agnes enjoy writing various kinds of stories, from light-hearted romance to thrillers. They love creating characters that are not easy to classify as good or evil, and firmly believe that even some villains deserve their happy endings. It is easiest to find them in galleries, good restaurants and historical sites, always with a computer or notebook, because for Kat and Agnes, every day is writing day. Future plans include lots of travel and a villa on the coast of Italy or a flat in Paris where they could retire after yet another crazy venture, only to write more hot m/m romance.

K.A. Merikan’s author page: http://kamerikan.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KAMerikan

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KA_Merikan

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6150530.K_A_Merikan

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Published on May 10, 2013 09:58

April 29, 2013

Guest Blog: Star Minds Genesis by Barbara G.Tarn

Picture Star Minds Genesis
by Barbara G.Tarn

First of all, I’d like to thank Zach for allowing me to ramble on his blog. April is (was – is almost over) Star Minds Month for me, when I even changed my Facebook cover just in case I forgot. Which is of course impossible, as I don’t seem to be able to let go of my first science-fantasy series.

I usually write fantasy (hence I’ll put back the old cover in May, so it won’t confuse my readers) because I’m a technophobe, but sometimes I like to think about space travel and the Star Nations who must be out there even if we’re not aware of them on our petty little planet. Star Minds was born sometimes in 2002, a new way of writing for me: until then, I had written down the stories as they came to me, improvising without much thought or outlining. They were one-draft stories mostly, as I didn’t have any beta-readers back then.

In this case, though, I brewed the characters and the story for a few months before actually starting to write. I did characters sheets for my 3 aliens (which doesn’t mean I stuck to those sheets, but I had never done it before) and then I wrote a first draft of Technological Angel – in my mother tongue (Italian).

I went to a couple of writing workshops, found some betas, and started rewriting. Six or seven drafts later, around 2005, I gave up on it and put it in a drawer. I liked it, but didn’t think any Italian traditional publisher would accept it as it was – GLB characters are not very welcome in this supposedly Catholic country. It wasn’t hard SF either, but some blending of character-oriented space opera that didn’t really fit anywhere.

Then last year I rewrote it in English (it’s a shame the Roman accent of the Italian character was lost, but he’s the reason why I will translate it back into Italian for a Xmas release), revising it completely. The aliens were changed the most, especially the cyborg Maela and were-panther Gaurishankar, not so much the protagonist Kol-ian.

New characters popped out as beta-readers suggested I merged some secondary ones, and I came up with a sequel – not what I originally had in mind (the two Earthlings, Chantal and Daniele, becoming adventurers), but the story kept unfolding under my eyes.

Now Technological Angel ends after the death of Bad Guy #1 and Mind Link starts from the original ending of the novel and expands on Ker-ris, originally a very secondary character who becomes co-protagonist of the whole series – hence he’s on the cover from Book 2!  I’d elaborate on the changes, but it would mean “spoilers ahead”, so I won’t.

And because I had that wonderful couple of telepaths with a strong mind link, I unleashed the Sadist Author that I can be on them and added Book 3, where I recycled characters names that were removed from Book 1 – I kept the name but it’s different characters.

Slave Traders came out this month, hence April is Star Minds Month for me. Also because I’m writing Star Minds Snippets, short stories about the characters before the series starts. So I’m still in full Star Minds mode! 

In June I shall work on the print version which will include the whole trilogy (120K) + Shooting Star, the former prologue of Technological Angel expanded into a short story. I will also do the ebook version of the complete series with bonuses. Star Minds Snippets should be out before the end of the year as well.

Letting go? No way. Next year I’ll work on the next generation… And then the evolution of this universe will lead to the Federation of Humanoid Planets – for which I already have a few stories to be translated and revised. So I guess my future writing is all set between Silvery Earth (adult fantasy) and the Star Nations… And I will always be QUILTBAG friendly! 

Find out more about the series on my blog, or check the drawings I did since 2002 on DeviantART – and thank you for stopping by and reading this far…

Picture About the author

Barbara G.Tarn is a writer, sometimes artist, mostly a world-creator and story-teller.

She’s been building her world of Silvery Earth for a number of years – stories, comprise shorts, novels and graphic novels. Used to multiple projects (a graphic novel is always on the side of the prose), she writes, draws, ignores her day job and blogs at: 
http://creativebarbwire.wordpress.com








Star Minds – Science fantasy series

Watch the book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ajOm8D...

Where to find the books:

Book 1 – Technological Angel out now on SmashwordsKindleB&NKoboDriveThruFiction and XinXii.

Book 2 – Mind Link out now on SmashwordsKindleB&NKoboDriveThruFiction and XinXii.

Book 3 – Slave Traders out now on SmashwordsKindleB&NKoboDriveThruFiction and XinXii.

Look for the print version of the whole saga sometime this summer.

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Published on April 29, 2013 10:05

April 16, 2013

Guest Blog: Casey K Cox

Five Things We Didn’t Know About You

Um, I’m from the West Country, so have a strong farmer’s accent – a bit like Pam Ayres.
I’m a knowledge junkie and am always studying.
I used to have a Great Dane
I have a cat called Dexter – because he terrorizes the local wildlife.
Disney movies can still make me cry.

How long have you been writing?

Very long time. I was about ten or eleven when I first had some poetry published. I wrote all through the teenage years then sporadically in adult life. This recent stint has been going on for about four or five years.

What were your goals and intentions in the books you’ve written, and how well do you feel you achieved them?

The only goal I have is to write books I want to read. So far, I’m pretty happy with the results. I’m a perfectionist, so I can always see where a piece could have done with more tweaking, but sometimes you just have to let go.

What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I’d say I have a very British style in that it is obvious from my work that I’m from the UK. Other than that, I’m not sure. I don’t tend to follow many rules. Of the titles released so far, there is no formula or template, they are all quite different. May be some of my guys are a bit angsty.

Are you a full-time writer? How does that affect your writing?

I’m a part-time writer. It means I don’t always have the time to focus on projects when the muse is chattering, and the muse gets cranky when he’s ignored so sometimes doesn’t talk when I then have time.

What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

I’ve done a bit of everything from waitressing, working in a Chinese Take Away, and bank cashier, to writing training packages for global corporations, lecturing, field and aerial surveying, to being a stay at home Mum. Every single one of them has impacted on my writing in that they have shaped me as a person, from the environments to the people I’ve met.

What process did you go through to get your book published?

Finding King started life as a short story for an open call. The setting came first (The Breaker), then the characters. Once the characters showed up they write their own story. What seems like a million drafts and beta reads later, it was picked up by LT3. It was six months from acceptance to release. LT3 are great to work with so it was a good experience.

What do you like to read in your free time?

The bulk of my reading is non-fiction academic reading and research. Other than that I like to dabble around the MM Romance and Gay Fiction genres. I have the odd dance through other genres but not really for the last few years.

What projects are you working on at the present?

Lots and lots. The second part of The Breaker Trilogy, a sequel to Be My Boy, the 4th Volume of Alec Caldwell, and a few completely new things. There’s a PNF, a psychological thriller, and a contemporary on the block too.

What do your plans for future projects include?

The thriller is stepping things up a notch. Tons of research reading. It’s a psychological thriller first, there is a romantic element but it isn’t the focus of the story. There are some expectations for Alec Vol 4 and I hope to keep Alec’s fans happy. I know Be My Boy 2 is overdue, but Mitchell will have his say.

Anything else you’d like to add or share with our readers?

A huge thank you, the biggest of hugs. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’m still totally jazzed to think there are people out there – real live people – who are reading my stuff, and – how the hell did it happen? – liking it!! THE most AMAZING feeling in the world.

About Casey K Cox

Casey K Cox is an avid reader and author of m/m erotic fiction. Hailing from the West of England she tends to set her stories in the UK, but lately her characters have developed a taste for travel across the globe, the universe, and through time. Casey shares a home with her two grown-up kids and Dexter, the cat, who showed up one day and never left. Casey has written in many genres before settling into m/m romance after taking a trip on the wild side of m/m fanfic (Special Forces and The Administration) and has a free serial read—The Rise of Alec Caldwell—available online. You can follow her work at http://caseykcox.blogspot.com.

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Published on April 16, 2013 10:09

Zach Sweets's Blog

Zach Sweets
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