Blood for Blood

blood for bloodI have another exciting book to share with you, and an interview with the author!

The book is Blood for Blood, written by my amazing boss and dear friend, Ben Wolf. Ben and I first met in 2009 at a writers’ conference. We hit it off immediately and became close friends. Fast forward a couple years, and Ben was telling me this idea he had for a magazine that only published flash fiction. I told him I wanted to be part of his endeavor and help in any way I could. Even then I could see his vision and I knew he’d be successful.

I got to brainstorm with him and throw some ideas around, and a short time later, Splickety was born. I started out as Web Content Editor, and a year later, when Splickety Magazine became Splickety Publishing Group and launched two new imprints, I became editor of Havok Magazine.

I love it. More than you can imagine. I’ve learned so much about writing, editing, the publishing business, working with people–working with Splickety has really improved my abilities, both professionally and personally in more ways than I can count.

And one of the best things about my job is that I have the world’s best boss. Ben Wolf is a visionary and an entrepreneur, but he is also a wise manager. He knows he can’t do everything, so he hires people who can complement him and help him achieve his vision. Best of all, he hires people he trusts to get the job done, and then he lets them do their jobs. He doesn’t micro-manage, and he’s constantly building others up.

There have been so many times when I’ve felt overwhelmed with my job or worried I’d mess it up, and every time, he says, “You’ve got this. I believe in you.” He often tells me how much he appreciates me and what I bring to the company. I cannot imagine working for a better person.

So, naturally, when his first book, Blood for Blood, came out, I was thrilled. I got to be an advanced reader and give some feedback on it, and the final product is fantastic. It’s a suspense-filled ride with relatable characters, high-action, and romance.

So, without further ado, let me introduce you to Ben Wolf, amazing boss and novelist extraordinaire.

Welcome, Ben! Please tell us a bit about you. What do you like to do when you aren’t writing? Any hobbies? Are you a coffee or tea person? Do you have any children or pets?

Thanks so much for having me. I’m a bit nuts, but in a good way. I love watching action/adventure movies and TV shows, and I also take MMA classes at a local gym. I enjoy playing volleyball, sword-fighting, shooting friends with Nerf guns, and hearing myself talk, especially in front of large groups.

I prefer tea to coffee (I don’t like coffee at all), but I don’t drink tea very often either. I’m caffeine-free these days since I get too many withdrawal headaches when I do drink the caffeine and then don’t follow up with more caffeine soon enough.

I’ve got two adorable kids, Liam and Violet. They’re amazing. I also have a furry child named Marco.

What are some of your favorite books?

I’m a fan of basically everything that Robert Liparulo and Frank Peretti have written. I’ve read pretty much every book by both of them that I could get my hands on. I’m a huge fan of Peretti’s The Oath, especially. That’s probably my all-time favorite book. Germ, by Robert Liparulo, is probably number two on that list.

In one sentence, tell us about Blood for Blood.

Blood for Blood is the story of what might happen if a vampire got saved and tried to start living his life for God.

What was the inspiration behind the story?

I’ve always been a fan of vampires and their lore. A friend of mine at a 2009 writers conference was drawing a variety of compelling comparisons between vampirism and Christianity. I loved the idea of a vampire becoming a Christian and being asked to help set up for a big tent revival–and then being handed a mallet and a wooden stake to help secure the tent.

The juxtaposition of the two worldviews (vampirism and Christianity) sharpened for me in that moment, and the idea for Blood for Blood blossomed in my mind like a dark flower. I wrote it a couple of years later, published it a couple years after that, and it just won the 2015 Cascade Award for Best Speculative Fiction Novel.

That’s awesome! I think the thing I love best about this book is that the characters don’t behave like characters in books–they behave much more like real people. They screw up. They make bad choices. Tell us a little bit about your main character, Raven. How do you think people can relate to him? How do YOU relate to him?

I think people will relate to him in his uncertainty. I know I certainly do. Raven is uncertain about his new faith from the very beginning and throughout the entire book until almost the end. The moment he finally decides to really go for broke and surrender EVERYTHING to God is the key moment in his faith development.

I’m like that, only it’s a daily struggle. I am constantly fighting against surrendering to God, even though I should do it and need do it. I think a lot of American Christians are like that as well. We tend to think that we’ve got it under control, and we’ll just call on God when we get into a bind. But that’s not what God wants. He wants an ongoing relationship, not one of convenience. I struggle with this personally, and I definitely can learn from Raven’s story and character in this way.

If you could spend the day with one of the B4B characters, which would it be?

Oooh, tough one. I think I’d benefit the most from hanging out with Luco. My hope would be that he’d rub off on me in a  good way. He could mentor me a bit in my faith.

I liked Luco. I love the depth of his character and what we find out about him. Okay, to wrap up, What are you working on now? What’s next for you?

I’m developing a sci-fi horror novel as we speak. I’ve got most of the basic outline done, and I’m set  to begin working on it in November for NaNoWriMo. I have purposely given myself permission to write during that month, despite a busy freelance editing schedule. I’m hopeful that I can knock out a big chunk of the book, if not finish the first draft entirely.

And finally, because it’s important and the world needs to know, what is your Halloween costume?

It’s highly likely that I’ll be going as Wolverine for Halloween this year. Gotta get some more mileage out of those claws.

Excellent. Thank you so much for being here, Ben!

Now, you have the chance to get Blood for Blood on sale, today only, for $.99 on Kindle! Although it’s well worth full price, I encourage you to save money while you can. Click Here to order now!

 

 

The Hive

The-Hive-Official-Cover

I received a free ebook, The Hive, from the amazing John Otte, author of the Failstate series, in order to review it. I was not disappointed. This book was excellent.

I first met John at a writers’ conference in 2009, and we’ve traveled in many of the same circles since then, so when I got a chance to pre-read his newest novel, I jumped.

Not literally, because let’s be realistic, but I was excited. So, let me tell you a little about The Hive and my thoughts on it.

A pregnant cyborg and a teenage boy fight against intergalactic governments to protect the unborn in this novel from a Christy Award-nominated author. Why is Zain pregnant? She belongs to the Hive, a collective of cyborgs who choose to live apart from the rest of human society. At times, the Hive rent out some of their females to produce tailor-made children for paying couples. But Zain is an engineer, not a breeder. When she finds herself separated from the Hive, she decides to find the person who she thinks ordered the baby. Surely they’ll help her find her way home.

Matthew “Scorn” Nelson has spent the better part of his teenage years cracking computer systems, causing mischief and havoc wherever he can. But the night of his greatest triumph turned into a painful memory, one he wants to erase. But that night was also his first step on a road to faith. When Zain arrives on his doorstep, Scorn is horrified. What’s he supposed to do with a pregnant teenage cyborg?

Unfortunately, he’ll have to answer that question on the run. Zain’s people want to reclaim her and terminate her pregnancy. And both the Ministrix and the Praesidium, two intergalactic governments in a constant state of cold war, want Zain’s baby for their own reasons. Will their enemies run them down? Or will Zain find a new Hive for both her and her child?

Now, I’m not really a hardcore Sci-Fi person. Of course, I love all things spec-fic, but I lean more towards Fantasy than Sci-Fi, so I started reading not really knowing how it would play out.

It was fantastic. The world is complex and intriguing, from the warring governments to the way data and computer systems work to the characters, everything was extremely well-ordered and consistent. There was enough explanation to get the picture of how things worked, but it was never boring.

The characters were also excellent, and their struggle was believable. They got into my head and wandered through my unconscious, making guest appearances in my dreams and beckoning me back when I was doing things other than reading.

The one thing I would’ve liked to see more of character-wise was emotion from Zain, specifically when she decides that her baby is worth keeping and she decides to run rather than submit to the Hive. This is kind of a pivotal moment in the story, and it felt glossed over.

The spiritual element is pretty overt. Personally, I thought some of the spiritual and Christianity aspects were a little preachy, which I’m not a huge fan of, and a couple of the conclusions felt like a bit of a leap based on what the characters had actually said and done, but it was not over-the-top at all. It’s handled well within the story and it’s in no way awkward.

Overall, I really, really enjoyed it. It was a great story with great characters in a great world. I would absolutely recommend it.

In fact, I DO recommend it! Buy it! Buy it now! Buy it here!

No, seriously. Go buy it. It’s awesome.