S.G. Browne

Less Than Hero Giveaway

B82pUXECAAAKNl3To celebrate the upcoming release of my new novel, Less Than Hero ( my dark comedy and social satire about superheroes and pharmaceutical drugs), I’m holding a giveaway.

Several lucky winners will walk away with a signed copy of Less Than Hero. Well, I guess technically you won’t walk away with it because I’ll mail it to you, and even personalize or inscribe the novel if you’d like. The point is, you get something free. And who doesn’t like free?

How do you enter for your chance to win? You have several options.

  1. Share the link to this giveaway on your Facebook page or on your Twitter stream by using the links at the bottom of this post. (You can also do Google+ or Pinterest, whatever floats your boat.)
  2. OR you can copy and paste the Less Than Hero blurb below and share it with your Facebook friends and Twitter followers:

LESS THAN HERO: Defending your right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of antidepressants. http://tinyurl.com/mzygcp8

(If you choose either one of the options above, please make sure to leave a comment on this post to let me know where you’ve shared; otherwise I won’t be able to enter your name in the contest.)

You can also enter the giveaway by doing one of the following:

  1. Share my Facebook posts about the giveaway, which you can find on my Facebook Author Page
  2. RT my tweets about the giveaway that I post on my Twitter Profile

Any questions? Good. Further details on the contest are below:

  • Multiple entries are allowed
  • Contest runs until Monday, March 16, 2015, at 11:59pm PST
  • Winners will be drawn randomly from the pool of entrants
  • Contest open only to residents of the United States (Sorry)

Thanks and good luck!

**WINNERS ANNOUNCED!**
And the winners of the Less Than Hero giveaway, chosen by the mysterious Random Number Generator, are:

J. Kramin
C. Rickman
J. Roberts

Thank you to everyone who participated in the giveaway and who Tweeted and shared on Facebook. You guys are all awesome.

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Filed under: Contests,Less Than Hero,Novels — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 6:45 am

Portland and Seattle Area Signings

I’ve added a couple of Pacific Northwest signings for Less Than Hero in the Portland and Seattle areas. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop on by for punch and pie.

May 14 – Beaverton, OR
7:00pm
Book Signing and Reading
Powell’s Books – Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR

May 16 – Seattle, WA
6:30pm
Book Signing and Reading
Third Place Books – Ravenna
6504 20th Ave NE
Seattle, WA

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Filed under: Less Than Hero,Signings — S.G. Browne @ 5:05 pm

Beyond the Keyboard: Less Than Hero

B82pUXECAAAKNl3This is the next installment of my Beyond the Keyboard series, where I pull back the curtain, so to speak, on the ideas that inspired my novels and provide a peek into the creative process behind them. (You can find my previous posts for Breathers, Fated, Lucky Bastard, and Big Egos by clicking on the titles.

Up next, my new dark comedy and social satire about superheroes and our country’s love affair with prescription drugs: Less Than Hero.

The Pharmaceutical Seed is Planted

Back on October 4, 2003, I was sitting in a hotel room in Ventura watching TV at 10pm when a commercial came on for some kind of prescription drug that promised to help cure abdominal cramping with one of the side effects being that it might cause abdominal cramping. I found this both asinine and amusing and wrote it down in my journal, although I wouldn’t come back to it for nearly five years.

It’s relevant to mention here that in 1997, the FDA approved Direct-to-Consumer marketing of pharmaceutical products in the United States. Prior to that, there were no TV commercials for prescription drugs. And the proliferation of ads for prescription drugs continued on cable and network television so that by 2008, you couldn’t watch the boob tube for twenty minutes without being told that you might be really sick and need the latest miracle drug.

Guinea Pig, Guinea Pig, Let Me In!

Sometime in 2008, I came across several articles about professional guinea pigs: people who make a living on the margins of society by volunteering for paid clinical trials where they beta test pharmaceutical drugs being developed for consumers. These Phase I clinical trials test the efficacy and side effects of a drug on more or less healthy subjects, paying anywhere from $200 to $10,000 depending on the length and requirements of the clinical trial.

The idea for doing something centered around prescription drugs had been percolating and when I read about this fringe culture of professional pharmaceutical drug volunteers, I knew I had to do something with it. The question was: What?

The Superhero Connection

For a number of years I’d toyed with the idea of writing some kind of superhero story, but none of the ideas resonated or seemed original. While I was (and am) a fan of the superhero genre (specifically films and TV shows rather than comic books) and enjoyed the standard superhero films (Superman, Batman, Spider-Man), none of them resonated with me on a creative level.

Instead, I was more inspired by films like Mystery Men, with its humor and heroes who were ordinary people with odd talents who just wanted to make a difference; X-Men, whichappealed to me with the concept of mutants and its social commentary on prejudice and discrimination; and Unbreakable, because it was about an ordinary man discovering his extraordinary abilities and, eventually, a purpose that gave his life meaning.

So at some point in the creative process, I realized that these guinea pigs, at least the fictional ones gestating in my head,  would be my superheroes. They would develop mutated abilities from all of the prescription drugs they’d tested. And I would use them to make social commentary on the pharmaceutical industry and the over-medication of our society. So in a way, the three films that inspired me helped to shape Less Than Hero, which, to an extent, encompasses aspects of all three films.

Fun Facts

  • The genesis/inspiration for both Fated and for Less Than Hero occurred at 10pm exactly 30 days apart, which is relevant because…
  • Less Than Hero, which takes place in New York and deals with issues of fate and destiny, shares the same time and universe as Fated
  • So for those who have read Fated, you might notice cameos by Fabio, Destiny, Karma, and others, as well as several shared scenes
  • All of the superhero names given to the characters in the novel share the same first letter as their regular names
  • While the novel is narrated in first-person POV by Lloyd, there are six interludes in the novel narrated in third-person POV
  • All of the possible side effects of drugs mentioned in the novel were taken from pharmaceutical company websites and from Drugs.com
  • The only two countries that allow Direct-to-Consumer marketing of pharmaceutical drugs are New Zealand and the United States
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Less Than Hero: Signings and Events

My new novel, Less Than Hero, officially publishes on March 17 (aka St. Guinness Day).

I’ll be appearing at a couple of local San Francisco bookstores for California Bookstore Day, as well as doing signings on other days in Los Gatos, San Diego, and Petaluma. I’ll also be appearing at WonderCon in Anaheim and heading up to the Portland and Seattle areas in May.

Details of my events and appearances are below. Hope to see you at one of them!

April 3 – San Diego, CA
6:00pm
Book Signing and Reading
Mysterious Galaxy
5943 Balboa Ave., Suite #100
San Diego, CA

April 5 – Anaheim, CA
11:30am – 12:30pm (Panel – Room 210)
1:00pm – 2:00pm (Signing – Booth 908)
WonderCon
Anaheim Convention Center
Anaheim, CA

April 11 – Petaluma, CA
7:00pm
Book Signing and Reading
Copperfield’s Books
140 Kentucky St.
Petaluma, CA

April 19 – Los Gatos, CA
1:00pm – 3:00pm
Book Signing / Meet & Greet
Village House of Books
21 West Main St.
Los Gatos, CA

May 2 – San Francisco, CA
California Bookstore Day
12:00pm – 2:00pm
The Booksmith
1644 Haight St.
San Francisco, CA
******************
3:00pm – 5:00pm
BookShop West Portal
80 West Portal Ave.
San Francisco, CA

May 14 – Beaverton, OR
7:00pm
Book Signing and Reading
Powell’s Books – Cedar Hills Crossing
3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.
Beaverton, OR

May 16 – Seattle, WA
6:30pm
Book Signing and Reading
Third Place Books – Ravenna
6504 20th Ave NE
Seattle, WA

 

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Filed under: Less Than Hero,Signings — S.G. Browne @ 7:43 am

The Writing Life: You Are Not Alone

“The mind of a writer can be a truly terrifying thing: isolated, neurotic, caffeine-addled, crippled by procrastination and consumed by feelings of panic, self-loathing, and soul-crushing inadequacy. And that’s on a good day.”

The above quote was taken from Robert De Niro’s presentation for the Best Screenwriting category at the 2014 Academy Awards. I don’t know who was responsible for writing the words spoken by De Niro, but whoever wrote them perfectly captured the mindset of a writer.

Writers are a unique animal. We sit for hours alone in front of a computer, making up imaginary worlds populated with imaginary people, often spending more time with our fictional creations than with real human beings. You can make the argument that when it comes to certain people, this isn’t always a bad thing.

The problem is that we spend so much time alone in our own heads that we often feel isolated—not just physically but emotionally. Most of our closest friends and family, even our spouses or partners, no matter how much they love us and care about us, they can’t always relate to how we feel when something isn’t working. They don’t know what it’s like to be lost or stuck creatively. They don’t understand how the 500 words we managed to squeeze out of our heads and fingers one bloody letter at a time during four frustrating hours feels like utter failure compared to all of the writers on Facebook and Twitter pumping out 5,000 words. Before lunch.

And so, many of us sit there in front of our computers, alone and struggling, thinking that all of these other writers who are more prolific or successful than we are have it all figured out and know what they’re doing and we believe that no one else is going through what we’re going through.

The truth is, we are not alone.

Every writer experiences self-doubt. Sometimes it just couch surfs for a couple of nights, while other times it buys a timeshare and stays in your guest room for a month, but it’s there. Trust me. It’s there.

Self-loathing is another house guest who shows up in the mind of a writer, causing us to compare our writing to that of other writers and making us feel like we’re garbage and leaving us wondering why anyone would ever want to read a single pathetic word we’ve ever written.

Procrastination only adds to the self-loathing, as we feel like losers for wasting our time playing video games or binge-watching Netflix or spending hours on Facebook and Twitter instead of doing what we’re supposed to be doing: writing.

We get moody when we’re not channeling our inner Fitzgerald or Vonnegut or Austen. We get depressed. We get anxious. We get frustrated. We allow a single negative one-star review from some moron on Amazon to completely ruin the thirty-two five-star reviews that sing our praises. And we experience envy and jealousy when other writers earn the success that we think we deserve.

It’s okay to feel these things. While you don’t want the envy and jealousy to control you, or allow the self-doubt to take up permanent residence, all of this is normal. It’s part of being a writer. Understand this and embrace this and know that this path you’ve chosen matters. You’re creating. You’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. And that’s more important than word counts or five-star reviews.

You are a writer. And you are not alone.

*This post appeared originally April 15, 2014, on SFSignal.com.

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Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 12:54 pm