Sunday, June 30, 2013

Flash Fiction Competition Results Just In

Well what do you know? My flash fiction piece 'HEAD' was just named as a winning entry in the IBD Flash Fiction Competition in the Mystery/Thriller Category. A small celebration might be in order.

The competition requirement was for a story of no more than 35 words (yes, read that again - "no more than 35 words"), so it's not too taxing for me to type it out again below.


The psychiatrists are gathering. They huddle, talking to me. But words won't get inside my head. Only one thing really gets inside a head; something heavy and sharp. Well, I know all about that.

For details of the other winners, here's the link

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Talk to the Hat: Angella Graff

JD           My Galericulate guest today is Angella Graff, author of ‘The Judas Curse’ series. Welcome, Angella.

AG          Wow! I hadn’t expected this, John. Being interviewed in a rooftop restaurant in Dubai! It must have cost you a fortune to fly me business class all the way here. It’s extraordinarily generous of you.

JD           Generous, hmmn. Yes, well I need to talk to you about that later.

AG          You’re not thinking of charging me the air fare, are you?

JD           Not at all. Anyway, forget about that for now. Let’s talk about your books.

AG          Yes, please.

JD           I love it when writers salivate. Speaking of which the champagne is chilled enough, I hope?

AG          It’s perfect.

JD           Good. Now then, I’d describe your series as a re-writing of the Jesus story but with additional immortal beings and a trajectory over hundreds of years. Is that a fair summary?

AG          Fair summary, yes, I’d say so.  I think the hardest part of these ‘Judas Curse’ books is coming up with a way to sum them up and not sound like a hysterical two-year old.  Jesus exists as a small character in the book, and I’ve actually expanded on a theory that he was educated as a Buddhist, returning to Jerusalem, and actually managed to escape crucifixion and spent his remaining years teaching in Kashmir, India.  In fact, there’s a tomb there with the remains of a man called Isa, and the tomb is placed in the traditional Hebrew fashion, and on the top are carvings of his feet which contain crucifixion scars.

Still the books revolve more around Ben Stanford, a detective who started out as an Atheist, and quickly had to change his tune when he was forced to realize that not only were characters from Western Theology still alive, but also from the Greek and Norse Pantheon of Gods.  Mark and Judas, who have been walking the earth now for nearly two-thousand years are actually some of the youngest ‘immortals’ to make an appearance in the books.

JD           So what made you want to take a religious theme – particularly a Christian one – and produce a new story? Weren’t you worried you might offend a lot of people?

AG          Truthfully, I was totally aware that the book was going to be offensive.  Before I wrote ‘The Judas Curse’ into a series, I had composed it into one novel which was very similar to ‘The Judas Kiss’.  I was in University at the time and we had an agent pay a visit to our creative writing class who said that my book, while good, was a little too controversial for an American Market.  Go figure.

But it was always something I wanted to write.  I have a degree in Medieval Theology, my focus was on the compilation of the Canon, but I spent about three years studying the history of Christianity and Judaism.  A lot of that stuff was definitely fiction-inspiring for sure.  A lot of people find it interesting since I am not a Christian, nor am I very religious in any sense, but honestly, I love the topic.

JD           Being an awkward type, I started your series by reading Book #2 (‘The Judas Kiss’), but found it easy to pick up the storyline. I will go back and read Book #1 however, because I’d like to see how you deal with the details of life in Judea at the time of Christ. Tell me where the story goes with Book #3 (‘Cry Nike!’), but without giving any spoilers, of course.

AG          ‘Cry, Nike!’ picks up almost directly after ‘The Judas Kiss’ ends.  There’s about a two week gap, but the gang (and by gang I mean Stella, Ben, Mark, Jude, Andrew and occasionally Alex) are together in a safe-house, trying to plot their next move against Nike.  It’s in this book we meet some of the new characters and understand the nature of the gods, and the nature of some gods, like Hades, a little better.  There is a climactic ending, but more of the meta-plot is being revealed as there is a general goal in these books which will conclude with either book six or book twelve—depending on how ambitious I actually feel with the series.

I feel like I should mention, too, that Book #1 doesn’t have life of Judea in it.  Book #2 is the only one that deals with that part of history.  I will, however, be writing three side-novels.  One will include Mark and his relationship with Hypatia at the Library of Alexandria (and ultimately its destruction).  One will include Judas and his time with DaVinci, and the third will actually deal with Mark and Judas in Judea, and I’m excited about that one because I’m including Paul in it.  He’s one of my most favorite people in all of theology, I was actually going to do my Thesis on him for my Master’s (until I realized the cost of a Master’s and decided I’d rather not live off of freeze-dried noodles for the next three years).

JD           Do you want some more champagne?

AG          Are you trying to get me drunk, Mr Dolan?

JD           Would that be worth my while?

AG          No.

JD           OK, we won’t have another bottle in that case.

AG          Men are SOOOO predictable.

JD           I can’t disagree. Now then, moving on, tell me about your current project.

AG          You mean in my garden?

JD           Do I look like somebody who’d be interested in talking about gardening?

AG          Actually you look like somebody who might be on the run from Interpol.

JD           Hey, I do the jokes. Tell me about ‘Alexandra Fry, Private Eye’.

AG          Ah well ‘Alexandra Fry, Private Eye’ is a project I thought I would never take on.  As you can see from my alcoholic, bitter, foul-mouthed main character Ben, I’m not very used to writing something from the perspective of a twelve-year-old girl.  But my daughter begged me to do something for her grade, so I decided to take it on.

Alexandra Fry is a girl who can see ghosts;  history’s most famous, and she has to solve crimes for them.  In the first book, ‘The Curse of the Lion’s Heart’, Alexandra deals with the ghost of Queen Elizabeth the First, and attempts to find her cursed locket, returning it to the rightful owners. 

I like to think that Alexandra is your typical, slightly awkward, nerdy-but-cool middle school girl.  She has a small group of friends, and deals with a lot of the problems kids are faced with in school like bullying, crushes etc.  This series is going to span about six books, one book per school year until she finishes High School.  Or at least, that’s the plan.

Fifty percent of the proceeds for this book is actually going to the Tucson Alliance for Autism, which is a local organization here where I live.  My oldest son is Autistic and the Autism Alliance seriously saved my sanity, and I really want to give back.  Luckily my son is very high functioning, so I don’t have to deal with a lot of the trials and struggles other parents do, but the organization is really wonderful for kids and parents all along the spectrum.

JD           That sounds like a really worthwhile cause. Readers take note! OK, I think we’re done. Coffee?

AG          (Whispers) Actually, I just wanted to mention there’s a guy over at that table by the window who keeps looking at me and winking.

JD           (Looking) Ah, yes, that’s Bernard.

AG          Bernard?

JD           Well, you know it was very expensive to get you over here to Dubai and Galericulate only has a limited budget.

AG          So?

JD           So I thought one way to recoup the air ticket would be to sell you to Bernard for the night.

AG          You’re not serious.

JD           Angella, we both know being an Indie author is a tough business. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. Think of it as a learning experience.

AG          I think I’d like to kill you.

JD           Yeah, I get a lot of that.


Found out more about Angella Graff by clicking on the links below. Go on, you know you want to!

Links for Angella’s books (available on Amazon sites worldwide)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pst! Want an Agent to Look at Your Manuscript?

Come join Seth Fishman, Literary Agent representing Alex Grecian, our Book of the Month author of THE YARD, and the sequel, BLACK COUNTRY.

THE YARD, now--June 14th

BLACK COUNTRY June 12th--14th

ASK THE AGENT:  Seth and Alex have graciously agreed to answer questions from Modern Good Reads members related to traditional publishing, an agent’s role in publishing, and all those myriad things we all want to know about working with agents and New York publishers.

Seth Fishman’s bio:

Seth Fishman (me) was born and raised in Midland, Texas (think Friday Night Lights) and received his MFA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England (think cold and rainy and millions of castles). His YA thriller, The Well's End, is the first in a series and the protagonist, Mia Kish, is roughly inspired by a hometown drama that (when I was young) really blew him away:(  When not writing, Seth is a literary agent at The Gernert Company (, and thinks writing and agenting are the two very best jobs in the world.

Agent/Publications & Experience:

I've been a literary agent for over eight years, beginning at Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. ( and now, for the past three years, at The Gernert Company (  My list is deliberately wide-reaching, as I'm fervently of the mind that good writing and strong stories can be found in any genre.  For sake of ease, however, a few published examples in varying categories I rep:

Literary Fiction: NYTimes Bestseller and Orange Prize winner Tea Obreht's The Tiger's Wife, Liz Moore's Heft, Alex Gilvarry's From the Memoirs of a Non-Enemy Combatant
Hugo winner Will McIntosh's Love Minus Eighty, Ted Kosmatka's Locus finalist The Games.
Thriller: Alex Grecian's Bestselling The Yard and The Black Country, Ted Kosmatka's Prophet of Bones.

NonFiction: NY Times Bestseller Maria Konnikova's Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, BoingBoing Science Editor Maggie Koerth-Baker's Before The Lights Go Out.
Graphic/comic/illustrated: #1 NYTimes Bestseller Kate Beaton's Hark! A Vagrant, Matt Kish's Moby Dick In Pictures

Young Adult: Nora Price's Zoe Letting Go, Shawn Goodman's Something Like Hope
Picture Book: Matthew Olshan's The Mighty Lalouche (This is just out, his future books I rep).
Forthcoming publications (in the next 3/4 months): The Thousand Names by Django Wexler, What The F Should I Drink by Zach Golden, and The Age of Ice by J.M. Sidorova.

Seth Fishman’s debut novel:

The Well's End, a YA thriller, due out from Putnam YA February 2014.  COVER REVEAL June 11th 2013:

A childhood accident, a bizarre outbreak, and an impossible discovery…

Mia Kish is afraid of the dark. And for good reason. When she was a toddler she fell deep into her backyard well only to be rescued to great fanfare and celebrity.  In fact, she is small-town Fenton, Colorado’s walking claim to fame. Not like that helps her status at Westbrook Academy, the nearby uber-ritzy boarding school she attends. A townie is a townie. Being nationally ranked as a swimmer doesn’t matter a lick. But even the rarefied world of Westbrook is threated when emergency sirens start blaring and the school is put on lockdown, quarantined and surrounded by soldiers who seem to shoot first and ask questions later.  Only when confronted by a frightening virus that ages its victims to death in a manner of hours does Mia realize she may only just be beginning to discover what makes Fenton special.

The answer is behind the walls of the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia’s dad, the director of Fenton Electronics, has always been secretive about his work. But unless Mia is willing to let her classmates succumb to the strange illness, she and her friends have got to break quarantine, escape the school grounds, and outsmart armed soldiers to uncover the truth about where the virus comes from and what happened down that well.  The answers they find just might be more impossible than the virus they are fleeing.



Alex Grecian:

▼JOIN SETH FISHMAN & ALEX GRECIAN June 12th through June 14th▼

▼Giveaway Rafflecopters below (Win Signed Copies)▼ 
Exclusively for MODERN GOOD READS members.
If you are not a member, you must join MODERN GOOD READS to qualify.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Breaking News: Another Giveaway on Modern Good Reads



The Yard by Alex Grecian
June 5th--JUNE 14th

Historical Mystery Thriller:

Victorian London is a cesspool of crime, and Scotland Yard has only twelve detectives—known as “The Murder Squad”—to investigate countless murders every month. Created after the Metropolitan Police’s spectacular failure to capture Jack the Ripper, The Murder Squad suffers rampant public contempt. They have failed their citizens. But no one can anticipate the brutal murder of one of their own . . . one of the twelve . . .When Walter Day, the squad’s newest hire, is assigned the case of the murdered detective, he finds a strange ally in the Yard’s first forensic pathologist, Dr. Bernard Kingsley. Together they track the killer, who clearly is not finished with The Murder Squad . . . but why?

Filled with fascinating period detail, and real historical figures, this spectacular debut in a new series showcases the depravity of late Victorian London, the advent of criminology, and introduces a stunning new cast of characters sure to appeal to fans of The Sherlockian and The Alienist.

Alex Grecian:

▼Giveaway Rafflecopter below (Win 1 of 2 Signed Copies)▼ 
Exclusively for MODERN GOOD READS members.
If you are not a member, you must join MODERN GOOD READS to qualify.