Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The best Afterlife party pack ever

The lovely folks over at the I Smell Sheep blog (Katie and Amber) posted an interview with Yours Truly [I know, I can't believe it either]. But maybe, even cooler than learning why I chose New Orleans for the location in Afterlife or what I think about writing from a male POV, is the awesome Afterlife Party Pack they are giving away.

Here's what they've got in their giveaway treasure chest:
Mardi Gras mask and beads
Zatarians red bean and rice
A jar of Liquid Light
An adorable, plush German shepherd puppy

Now that's what I call a party pack!

And all you have to do is post a comment on their blog to enter. So mosey on over to their fab blog. This contest ends on November 1.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Funny stuff for Freaky Friday

Just thought I'd post a few funny, yet weird things for Friday.

Here goes:

Who loves zombies? Apparently, Sears loves zombies!

And the funniest, yet somehow creepiest, video of a dog that you will see today:

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Afterlife Evolution

I wish I was one of those people who could slam out a book in three months, whose first draft was pretty near perfect. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. The truth of the matter is, I drive my writing group nuts. What book is this, they’ll ask after I start reading a few pages for critique. Oh, it’s the same book, I’ll tell them, just completely different.

I have a tendency to write and rewrite and then write some more, changing names and moving characters around and slashing plot lines. While it might seem like I’m having a great time, throwing away thousands of words at a time, I’m not.

I’m driving everyone I know, me included, nuts. They probably all wish that I would take up something meaningful to do in my spare instead of write. Something like playing miniature golf. Or raising bonsai trees. Or studying organic chemistry.

Just in case you don’t believe me, listen to the genesis of Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles.

In the first draft—under the title, White Burn—this story took place on Mars. (Do I hear snickers already?) It was a detective story, where the main character was tracking down a cult leader who had stolen a serum that could raise the dead. Besides falling into the hands of a dangerous cult leader, this serum also happened to be stolen by a gang leader, which led to one grisly gang war—a little bit like The Night of the Living Dead. Only on Mars.

Needless to say, that book didn’t garner much attention from agents or editors.

In the second draft—under the title, Once to Die—the story was moved to Los Angeles. Here, I had a homicide detective, a woman named Addy, chasing a serial killer who could raise the dead. This story must have been tighter and better written, because at least a few editors talked to me at this point. They even smiled. Right before they told me, no way were they going to publish this book. One of them was even kind enough to give me a few pointers. He said something like, try setting it in the future and throw out everything except the resurrection drug.

I confess, I’m the brooding sort, so I mulled and groused over his well-meaning rejection. I thought about it for so long that I actually came up with a story idea based on that simple one-line suggestion.

In Afterlife, I built a future where the technology for resurrection has been around for awhile, long enough for it to have a serious impact on our culture, our major world religions, our family system, our judicial system, you name it. After working on the story for a month or so, I realized that if I removed this one small element—death—from our culture, it changed everything.

Writing the actual book took me about a year and a half, with the prerequisite three-to-four month period of writer’s block tossed in the mix. Once I found my agent, Kimberley Cameron, she sold my book in a relatively short time period to Diana Gill of Eos/HarperCollins. I think we sold the book in August, 2009, and the book came out in September, 2010.

Afterlife is a Hydra of sorts: one part urban fantasy, one part romance, one part science fiction, one part mystery. It’s a tale about a man who watches over people during that fragile first week after resurrection, when memories from previous lives are still sifting to the surface. And it’s a story about the woman who has just resurrected, who holds a secret in her subconscious that could change the world.

But for me, it’s a story that tells me that my wild and disorganized writing process somehow manages to work. Even though I drive a lot of people nutty along the way.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Getting in touch with your inner monster

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love monsters. I fell in love with them when I was just a kid. Vincent Price ruled the cinema in the ‘60s, and nearly every movie had some sort of creepy villain in it. So I was thrilled when artist, Jack Ruttan, offered to turn me into a vampire. I mean, isn’t that every woman’s secret desire? Immortality, eternal youth, an interesting dental plan.

Believe it or not, he didn’t stop there. He made me a zombie too. Now I’ve got two new monster avatars. Look out, world. Monster Merrie is here.

Anyway, I’m not the kind to keep all the cool toys for myself. I like to share. So I asked Jack to tell us a little about himself. I wanted you to find out how you can get your own scary avatar.

Jack's interview is below:

MERRIE: What is your background as an artist?
JACK: I'm self-taught. My mom was a watercolorist.

MERRIE: Well, you are definitely talented. If anybody wants to take a peek at what Jack does when he’s not drawing monsters, here’s a link to his website. Jack, why did you decide to start drawing monster portraits?

JACK: I thought it would be fun for Halloween. Actually, twittering with you, hearing about your book, How to Draw Zombies, gave me the idea. Then I had the brainstorm of thinking wouldn't it be cool if a lot of people zombiefied or monster-ized themselves just for Halloween, and sensed a business opportunity.

MERRIE: I think it’s a great idea! Everyone should get zombiefied. What’s the next step for you?

JACK: I'm going to set up an online web store, and zombify people for a fee (see below). It's a little late, and I wish I had the idea earlier, but I wanted to do this eventually to try and sell my usual watercolors, and this was a good push to get me started.

Monsters are a challenge, because I normally try to draw cute and charming things. But I love monsters, even though my parents would take me to the student counselor when I drew them. So, I've censored myself a bit. It's fun to get back into them, because I love horror movies and comics, not to mention "Rat Fink," Topps Bubblegum cards, and those bizarre cartoons from the 1960s. I'm getting in touch with my inner monster.

But it's actually a bit of a challenge, cause I want it to look like the person, and be fun and scary at the same time. Also make sense when shrunk to a tiny twitter icon.

MERRIE: I’ve always loved monsters too. What type of monsters do you like to draw best?

JACK: Some of the ones I mentioned above. I like Orcs and alien beings. Also dinosaurs and cryptids. Godzilla and his friends. Almost anything really, because I'm really just getting into it.

MERRIE: Well, I’m glad you are! Where can people find out more about your art?

JACK: At my website, also my sketch blog, and now my tumblr, which is sort of like my giant version of twitter. I like the web obviously. See my webcomic done in collaboration with R. Gagnon: The Skinny Nameless Punk.

MERRIE: If someone wanted to get their own monster portrait, approximately how much would it cost and how long would it take?

JACK: I'm thinking $20, and give me a day or two. For $35.00 plus $3.00 postage and packing, I'll send them the watercolor original, which will measure 9 x 9 cm, and be prettily matted (that will take a little more time). I've also got a Paypal account. Not sure how that works!

Send me a shot you want zombified or vampirized. Pets, even. $30 if it's more than one person in the picture. Three or four, we'll talk. Also other commissions!

MERRIE: If someone wanted to get their own monster portrait, how should they contact you?

JACK: You can e-mail at: jack [dot] ruttan090 [at] sympatico [dot] ca. And you can visit my Twitter profile here.

Thanks SO much for stopping by today, Jack. These profile avatars are creepy and cool and beyond awesome! I hope I start seeing them all over the place soon. The world needs more monsters.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Freaky Friday Contest Winners

Thank you to everyone who participated in my Freaky Friday contest. I enjoyed all of your answers. (I love monsters!)

I ran the contest through a random number generator to determine the winners, and here are the winners:



Winners, please contact me via e-mail by the end of the day on Monday. My e-mail is: merrie [dot] destefano [at] yahoo [dot] com.

Thanks again!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Freaky Friday Giveaway

The wind is blowing and leaves are falling off the trees. October is here and that means that Halloween will upon us soon. (Insert spooky music here.)

In honor of Halloween and all things that go bump in the night, I'm going to give away two spooky, yet inspiring, books: HOW TO DRAW ZOMBIES and HOW TO DRAW VAMPIRES. Both of these books were co-authored by Mike Butkis and me.

How can you win one of these books? Glad you asked!

Here are the rules:

I will give away one signed copy of How To Draw Zombies and one signed copy of How To Draw Vampires today, each to a different person.

To enter, you must:
1. Follow this blog
2. Post a comment, telling us about your favorite monster.
3. Mention this post on either Twitter or Facebook

Contest will run for 24 hours and will end tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 9) at noon. Winners will be announced tomorrow. Winners must contact me at: merrie [dot] destefano [at] yahoo [dot] com by Monday, Oct. 11, or their prize will be forfeited.

Thanks for playing!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

SFRevu Review & SciFiGuy guest blog post

It's Thursday and we have another episode of Where's Merrie and What's Going On With Afterlife?

This is what's been going on in the past several days:

AFTERLIFE: THE RESURRECTION CHRONICLES just got an awesome review over at SFRevu. You can check it out here.

Also, I'm guest blogging over at SciFiGuy today. We're discussing the intersection between faith, science, and the supernatural. Stop by and comment for a chance to win a signed copy of AFTERLIFE!

There's another cool review of AFTERLIFE over at the Whispers of Dawn blog, by fellow writer, Sally Apokedak. Sally writes for the YA audience and I was glad to hear that she gave AFTERLIFE a thumbs up for YA readers. Yay!

Another really fun review of AFTERLIFE was posted at the ismellsheep blog. I also have an interview coming up there on October 26, so be sure to stop back then.

Also, the folks over at Nocturne Romance Reads did a really great interview with me last week. [I LOVED their questions!] You might need to scroll down to the middle of the page to find my Q & A.

I just wanted to let you all know that I'm currently working on a reader's guide for AFTERLIFE. Also, if you're considering choosing AFTERLIFE for your book club, please let me know. I'll send you a pack of signed book plates. Just post your e-mail address in the comment section and let me know.

And thank you again to everyone who's been reading AFTERLIFE! You all rock!