S.G. Browne

I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus Giveaway

Cover new‘Tis the season to be zombie…

In honor of the holiday season that has us firmly in its grasp and refuses to let go, I’m offering up a giveaway of I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus, my heartwarming Christmas tale about a little girl and her zombie.

For your chance to enter to win a signed copy, just pop on over to my Twitter Page and retweet any of my tweets for the giveaway, all of which will have the hashtag #ISawZombiesEatingSantaClaus.

You’re free to retweet as often as you like, as multiple entries are allowed, up to three (3) per person.

Not on Twitter? You can also share the contest on Facebook, Google+, or any of the other social networks included on the buttons below. Just be sure to comment on this post and let me know where you shared so you can be entered in the contest. And if you share on Facebook, it always helps to include a link to my Facebook Author Page.

Contest ends Thursday, December 4, at 11:59pm PST. Open to U.S. residents only. Good luck!

“It’s Miracle on 34th Street meets Night of the Living Dead.”
The Washington Post

“A touching and heartfelt conclusion that reluctantly moved us to tears.”
SF Weekly

“Hilarious, horrifying…a must for anyone who can’t get enough of the undead.”
San Jose Mercury News

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Filed under: Contests,Holiday,I Saw Zombies Eating Santa Claus,Zombies — S.G. Browne @ 7:54 am

When Writers Hate Their Words

Let’s talk about hate…

Every person has probably hated something in their lives.

A person. A job. The Los Angeles Dodgers.

But unless you’re a writer, you probably don’t understand the roller coaster ride of self-loathing that occurs during the process of writing a novel.

We hate our novels early on and wonder why we’re even bothering. We hate our novels halfway through and bemoan the time we’ve wasted. We’re filled with animosity when we reach the third act and realize what we’ve written to this point is all crap. And when we’ve finished the novel. we can’t imagine that anyone would want to read it, let alone buy it. During edits, we find ourselves standing over an 80,000-word corpse panting and gasping while holding a blood-stained pen in our hands.

That analogy worked better before computers came along.

At least during edits and copy edits, we understand that there’s still time to fix the steaming heap of fecal matter which we’ve produced and maybe, just maybe, we can turn it into something that doesn’t smell so awful.

But by the time we reach the first-pass pages, or first-pass galleys, that’s when we have to live with what we’ve written.

First-pass pages are the formatted and type-set pages from which the novel will be printed, which means any edits are supposed to be cosmetic: missed typos or inaccurate syntax; maybe a few tweaks here and there to fix wording or clarity. But at this point, we’re not moving chapters or scenes around or adding or removing significant content. At least we’re not supposed to, since any changes to the first-pass pages can lead to extra expense.

So when we realize how much we hate our novel while we’re reading the first-pass galleys, we realize there’s nothing we can do and that we’re stuck with each other. It’s kind of like being in a bad marriage that we can’t get out of.

In any case, you get the idea: Writers, at multiple points during the process of writing and editing their manuscripts, will hate what they’ve written. With a passion.

I remember talking to my editor for the first time about Lucky Bastard (this is after Simon & Schuster purchased the manuscript) and prefacing my conversation with: “Just so you know, I’m at that stage where I hate my novel…” Then I asked her why she bought the novel because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to read it.

Such is the relationship between a writer and his or her words.

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Filed under: The Writing Life — S.G. Browne @ 8:31 am

Beyond the Keyboard: Big Egos

Big EgosSometimes readers want to know a little more about what went into writing a novel. The background and back story. The inspirations and process. How the author came up with the idea and executed said idea.

And by “executed,” I mean “accomplished” or “produced in accordance with a plan or design” rather than “beheaded.” Though I suppose that would be interesting, too.

Previously I’ve written posts in which I’ve shared insights into the creation of Breathers, Fated, and Lucky Bastard. What I’ve called my Beyond the Keyboard series. Up next, my dark comedy about identity: Big Egos.

If I Only Had a Brain

In 1997 I wrote a short story titled “If I Only Had a Brain” about a futuristic product called Designer Brains—a DNA-laced cocktail that allows the user to become a fictional character or dead celebrity.

The story, which clocked in at just under 3,000 words, takes place primarily at a party in the Hollywood Hills with the main character having injected the Designer Brain of James Bond. “If I Only Had A Brain” was published in the anthology Royal Aspirations III in 2001. Big Egos3
The original short story remained virtually intact when it became Chapter 20 of Big Egos.

At the time I wrote “If I Only Had a Brain,” I felt there was something more worth exploring, particularly the concept of identity and sense of self and what happens when you’re constantly pretending to be someone you’re not. This would end up being the main theme of Big Egos.

Insert Chapter HERE

Most of the time when I write a novel I don’t know how it’s going to end. However, with Big Egos, I knew exactly where I was going. I just had no idea how to get there.

In my original drafts, the novel starts at the end. Without giving any spoilers, the narrator of the story is processing his surroundings and trying to figure out how he ended up there. The problem is, his memory isn’t cooperating and he’s having trouble keeping things straight. Each memory leads to another memory to another memory. And so on and so on and so on. Kind of like a Faberge shampoo commercial, only with a lot more blood and confusion.

I envisioned the novel as sort of a trip through the narrator’s memories, piecing together how he ended up in his current situation. To do this, each chapter ended with a phrase or a sound or a thought that would trigger another memory, with the next chapter leading off with the same or similar line that ended the previous chapter.

Big Egos2In order to keep track of the memories, I color-coded the chapters based on the narrator’s memories as they related to certain periods of his life. Rose for the present. Orange for childhood memories. Blue for high school/college memories. Light yellow for more recent memories. Light turquoise for surreal memories. And bright green for the chapters when he was someone else.

It looked something like that on the left.

The fun part was when I had to move a chapter around, as this entailed rewriting the beginning and ending for not only the chapter I moved, but for the chapters on either side of where the chapter used to reside in addition to the chapters on either side of its new location.

All counted, I have over twenty files of revised chapter orders. And although I eventually abandoned my initial premise for the narrative structure, I was still moving chapters around right up until the final copy edits.

Let’s Change Everything!

When my agent read what was approximately the fifth or sixth draft of Big Egos, she indicated that she liked the concept but was having difficulty with the clarity of the narrative. Initially I wanted to crawl into a dark place and hibernate for a few years. Eventually, however, I decided that what I needed to do was create a more linear narrative to hold the story together, while keeping the memories peppered in throughout.

In other words, I took it all apart and put it back together again. Naturally, this meant moving the chapters around and rewriting the beginning and ending of just about each chapter. While it was more of a grind than any of my other novels, it was also singularly gratifying once I managed to get all of the pieces into place. Though, as I mentioned, I was still tinkering and reconfiguring almost right up to the end.

Thanks for the Inspiration

It’s rare that I sit down to write a novel or a short story and have any idea where it’s going or what kind of novel it’s going to be, but I knew from the start that Big Egos would focus on the loss of identity and the culture of celebrity worship.

As I began writing the novel and finding the voice and discovering the characters who would populate the story (as I don’t tend to plot or do character sketches but rather meet the characters when they show up on the page), it also became clear to me that Big Egos was inspired and influenced by two novels: Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut and American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis.

Big Egos4

While Big Egos doesn’t claim to be either of these novels, the narrator is quite unreliable and grows more so as the story progresses. And he most definitely, in his own way, becomes unstuck in time.

Fun Facts

  • I started writing Big Egos in September 2010 and finished in February 2012.
  • The last line from the short story “If I Only Had a Brain” is the last line of Big Egos.
  • Big Egos went through thirteen revisions before it went to my editor, then another three revisions after that before it was published.
  • There are seven chapters in Big Egos written from the perspective of a real or fictional person: Elvis Presley, Philip Marlowe, James Bond, Captain Kirk, Holden Caulfield, Jim Morrison, and Philip K. Dick.
  • In addition to doing research for the seven chapters listed above, during the writing of Big Egos I read up on Carl Jung, Sigmund Freud, Buddhism, 1970s pop culture, DNA replication, Shakespeare, Santa Claus, Greek mythology, silverback gorillas, obsessive-compulsive disorder, Starbucks, the Formosa Cafe, Indiana Jones, Oscar Wilde, blood donation, and countries that don’t have extradition treaties with the United States. Among other things.
  • Chapter 59 was originally written as Stephen King, but when my editor suggested that might create some legal issues, I changed it to Phillip K. Dick, which actually tied into the whole concept of identity and reality. Bonus.
  • While Fated remains my favorite of my novels published to date, Big Egos is a close second. Call them 1A and 1B.
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Filed under: Beyond the Keyboard,Big Egos,The Writing Life — Tags: — S.G. Browne @ 10:51 pm

Meet My Character Blog Tour

Welcome to Meet My Character! – the author blog tour where you get to learn something about a character in one of my latest or upcoming novels, as well as characters in books of other authors. It’s a veritable smorgasbord of characters.

Thanks to Loren Rhoads, co-author of As Above, So Below and multiple other books, for inviting me to play. If you don’t know Loren, you should head on over to her blog to find out what her character is up to HERE. Go ahead. I’ll wait…………You’re back? Okay, then let’s get on with the show!

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What is the name of your character?
Lloyd Prescott is his name and being a professional human guinea pig is his game. He’s the main character in my upcoming novel Less Than Hero.

Is he/she fictional or a historic person?
Lloyd is my fictional creation, though I was inspired to write about him after reading about actual professional guinea pigs who make their living participating in paid clinical research trials. And he’s named after Lloyd Dobler, the character played by John Cusack in Say Anything.

When and where is the story set?
Less Than Hero is set in modern day New York City, primarily Manhattan. However, it’s not 2014. Closer to 2010. It shares the same time frame as my second novel, Fated. Actually it shares more than just the same time frame. (Wink wink.)

What should we know about him/her?
Lloyd, like so many other thirty-year-old men and women, doesn’t’ know what he’s supposed to be doing with his life and lacks any real sense of himself. He’s a victim of his own inertia, having succumbed to the ennui of his existence. But he does live with his vegan girlfriend, Sophie—a living statue in Central Park when she isn’t working at a health food store. And Lloyd is friends with half a dozen other guinea pigs who meet for lunch and play poker and who make up the sum total of Lloyd’s social circle.

What is the main conflict? What messes up his/her life?
Lloyd discovers that all of the pharmaceutical drugs he’s taken over the past five years have created an unusual side effect: they’ve given him the ability to make other people fall asleep. And it turns out most of the other guinea pigs have also developed their own side effects that they’re able to project on to others: vomiting, seizures, rashes, and rapid weight gain. Lloyd keeps this secret from Sophie, which causes problems as he and the other guinea pigs learn to use their newly developed super powers for good. Or for evil.

What is the personal goal of the character?
Ultimately, Lloyd is trying to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing with his life. His reason for being. His destiny. Ultimately he has to decide if being a superhero is worth the personal sacrifices he has to make.

Where can we read more about your novel?
You can read more about Less Than Hero on my Simon & Schuster author page, as well as on the following websites:

When can we expect the book to be published?
Less Than Hero is scheduled for publication on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2015.

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LINKS AND BIOS OF AUTHORS WHO WILL INTRODUCE YOU TO THEIR OWN CHARACTERS ON MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15, 2014:

Stacey Graham is the author of four books and a rag-tag collection of short stories. You can currently find her scaring the pants off of readers with her latest book, Haunted Stuff: Demonic Dolls, Screaming Skulls, and Other Creepy Collectibles. She intends on returning the pants at a later date.

Shannon Giglio writes horror, magic realism, and transgressive fiction. She has worked for CBS, dick clark productions, and Ridley Scott. She currently resides on the Georgia coast with her husband, author Peter Giglio. Her third novel, Short Bus Hero, is scheduled to be released December 16th, 2014.

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Filed under: Fated,Less Than Hero,Novels — S.G. Browne @ 7:14 am

10 Books That Have Affected Me

There’s a meme on Facebook to list 10 books that have affected or stayed with you. You’re not supposed to dwell on your answer but just list the first 10 books that come to mind that have meant something to you for one reason or another. Perhaps they inspired you. Or terrified you. Or resonated with you in some manner that is personal.

I may have done this list previously. I’m sure it varies depending on my mood, or if I’ve read anything recently that became embedded in my DNA, so here is my current list of 10 Books That Have Affected Me (in no particular order):

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1) Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk

2) Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut

3) Lord of the Flies by William Golding

4) St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell

5) Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

6) The Stand by Stephen King

7) Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

8) The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

9) Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

10) American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

*      *      *

That’s my list. Feel free to share yours.

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