Interview With Science Fiction Author, Joe Prosit.

I had the wonderful opportunity this month to interview Author Joe Prosit about his new book “Machines Monsters and Maniacs.” Joe is an independent author living in Brainerd, Minnesota with his wife and family. Well known for his writing of short stories, he has won many awards for his writing. Science Fiction, Horror, and Psycho Fiction are not usually in my wheel house of readings. However, I enjoyed every short story in this book. Though it is important to note, I read them in the afternoons and not at night.

What inspired you to start writing?

I don’t know if there was a time in my life when I wasn’t writing. Playing with Star Wars and GIJoe toys turned into drawing comics which turned into writing books and I never really stopped. When I was a kid, writing was a way to funnel my hyperactivity into something cool and exciting during the long boring hours of school. Now that I’m a little more grown up, I still channel my angst and emotion into fiction. But instead of just superheroes, monsters, and laser beams, now it’s fear, grief, remorse, existential dread… and heroes, monsters, and lasers. 

What comes first plot or character?

Long before I get to work on the plot or character specifics, I come up with a general setting and vibe of a story. Right now there’s a proto-story swimming around in my head about this land full of meandering silent giants and two governments who are vying for the population’s faith and loyalty. There’s this girl who drives a fast car and smuggles magic drained from the giants across the borders, but I don’t know what she’s like yet other than she’s a nihilist. Do I have a character yet? Not really. Do I have a plot yet? Not at all. But soon, they’ll blend together into something that complements each other. It’s always a dance between character and plot. Without one, the other is nothing. 

Tell us about your new book, “Machines Monsters and Maniacs.”

Machines Monsters and Maniacs is a collection of sixteen short stories that have been published in various websites, anthologies, podcasts, and magazines over the past five years. Equal parts science fiction, horror, and what I call “psycho fiction,” if you enjoy the strange, the scary, the odd, the sinful or the mind-bending, there’s something in this collection for you.

Physical, digital, and audio copies are available at my website www.JoeProsit.com. If you already have a copy, let others know you enjoyed it by leaving a review on Amazon.

What advice would you give a new writer starting out?

The devil says the worst vice is advice, but I’ll try to come up with something.

First, have fun. Write what you want to write. Keep yourself excited about your characters, your plot, your setting, and your style. After you’ve had some practice, don’t be afraid to get your work out into the world where you can get some honest feedback from other writers, editors, agents, and the like. Don’t expect immediate success. Always work on your craft. Always try to get better. Keep writing. Put your butt in the chair and your fingers on the keyboard and write. 

Tell us what you are working on now and when we can expect to see it.

My current work in progress is titled, “The Shadows Between the Trees.” Right now it’s in its second draft and needs plenty of polishing. A long way to go before it’s ready to be published, but here’s goes my first draft of the elevator pitch:

The Shadows Between the Trees is an adult cosmic horror novel set in small-town Northern Minnesota. When Conrad, an out-of-work businessman, hears his abusive father died, he returns home after twenty-seven years for the funeral only to find he’s inherited his dad’s dilapidated barbeque joint and a half a million dollar debt. But his problems really only begin when he’s stalked by towering sentinel monsters who inject false memories into his mind to lure him away from reality and into the void so they can take humanity’s place on Earth. In order to stop them, Conrad must discern friend from foe, reality from lies, and come to terms with his own past.

Hopefully that’s enough to excite your curiosity while I finish it, edit it, and get it in print. As always, watch for updates on my website, or follow me on Twitter @JoeProsit. Thanks!

What Are You Researching?

Who has spent entirely too many hours researching their newest novel? I know I have. Sometimes to the point I can spend an entire day watching how to build a pipe bomb video. Yes, I do believe one day the FBI will show up at my front door at which time I will award them with free books of my mystery and thriller crime novels. Note to self: keep fresh cookies and coffee on standby.

I have found self-discipline seems to be the key. I often found I was getting sidetracked by minor research as I was writing. Which ended up in my loss of consistency in writing. My advice to new writers is, keep your inner perfectionist under control, be practical in your research. I am a Virgo. Therefore, I am a perfectionist.

I have finally developed a plan for researching each new book I write. I break my research down into two categories. The first category being, before writing research and the second category, after the first draft research. I keep my research organized, using Evernote. It is a magnificent tool for research.

My before writing research consists of researching the locations I am using as a reference. Right down to location, culture, history, plant life, etc. I try to visit that location if my checkbook allows. If not, the internet allows you to travel to that destination and research key points.

From that point, I am developing my major character arcs. For example, one of my characters in my new upcoming series, The Cold Case Chronicles, is a Traiteur. A healer. I researched everything I could find on Traiteur’s, building it in to her character arc.

Once I finished my character development, my story outline, and scene progression. I then start to write my current book. Which brings me to step two in my research development. Researching after the first draft. This is the simple part. When writing, when I come to a part in which I need more research to make my story more interesting, I insert (Research) and highlight it in yellow. It is as easy as that.

After the first draft, I go back and make notes on what added research needs completion, and why. I then conduct my next step research and start my second draft.

Remember, always put your story first. Often authors feel a lack of research and feel they need more and more research. That can often be nothing other than a lack of confidence. Be Bold! Self-discipline is the key. Many hours of research can cause authors to become sidetracked by minor research while writing. Some writers spend so much time researching, they never quite get around to writing that next best seller. So go forth, be bold and write your next best seller!

What are your tips for researching? Leave a comment below.

Giant By Nature: A Short Story. Part Three.

The final part of Giant by Nature. I hope you have enjoyed the story.

I pulled my head into my shell just as the truck came to an abrupt stop, pushing me hard enough into the box surrounding to break the front of the box apart. Tommy’s father opened the back of the truck and putting a ramp against the back of the truck for me to walk down. I heard Tommy say, ‘Come on Fernando, we need to hurry.’ Then I heard Tommy’s father yell, ‘Julie, get Tommy on the boat.’ I didn’t know who Julie was, but I watched as a woman grabbed Tommy and ran. I moved as fast as I could down that ramp. That woman had Tommy. I had to save him. I followed the woman as fast as I could, hearing Tommy’s dad saying, ‘Hurry Fernando!’

When I got to the boat, I could barely breathe. I may swim at twenty miles an hour in an ocean; on land is another story. My stubby legs and arthritis only let me go so fast, but I made it. As the boat was pulling away into the ocean, everyone on the boat including me, I saw and heard a lot of noise and saw many lights. I figured unless they were going to swim, they were not going to catch me.

I looked around, and the woman was holding Tommy. She was holding him, rocking him back and forth. I walked over to Tommy and stretched my neck for a scratch hearing him say, ‘Mom this is my friend Fernando.’ I was relieved, I didn’t have to worry, that woman was Tommy’s mother.

It was a long trip. I was glad I had the time to spend those days with Tommy. We sat in the sun, and I gave Tommy rides around the boat. That woman, his mother, she fed me watermelon every day. I thought earthworms were good. I could spend all day eating watermelon. I don’t think they realized I could go a year with without eating or drinking anything, but I wasn’t going to turn down the snacks they were giving me.

One morning I was sitting in the sun napping, Tommy was lying on my back and I heard Tommy’s father say, ‘There is the Island!” I looked out the back of the boat and indeed I was home. I was excited and sad at the same time. Tommy climbed down from my back, and said, ‘Fernando, you are home!’ I honked in response to him.

I watched Tommy begin to cry, and I rubbed my head on his red shirt. I knew it was time to say goodbye. I listened as Tommy’s father and the Captain talked about how they could push me off the boat so I could swim to shore. I think they were wondering if I would know what to do.

Tommy’s father said, ‘It is time Tommy Fernando is home and we need to let him go now.’ I rubbed my head on Tommy’s leg and stretched my neck one last time for a scratch. Tommy scratched my neck. He wrapped his arms around my neck and said, ‘I love you, Fernando. Don’t ever forget me. I don’t want you to worry, I will be okay now that I know you will be safe.’

Tommy’s father and the captain opened the door on the back of the boat. I looked at Tommy one last time and dove into the water and swam to shore. I walked to join the others sunning on the rocks and raised my flipper to wave goodbye to Tommy as I watched the boat begin to sail back to San Diego.

I looked at Mateo, and he was smiling. ‘Great story Dad, I am glad you came back home.” “I am too son, now go on back up the hill to the women, I bet they have a treat ready for you. I am proud of you Mateo. Remember this story and tell the others.’ ‘I will dad!’ I watched Mateo move back up the hill. As I looked out across the calm deep blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, I wondered if Tommy was at peace. It was time to find out. Time to look for that next neck scratch from Tommy. I am one hundred and fifty-one years old. I looked at the Island one last time knowing that Mateo and the other sixteen hundred offspring I have produced would carry on my legacy. All I must do is jump in the ocean one last time, and Tommy and I will be together again. Raising my arthritic body, I jumped into the ocean. Hitting the cool water, I am at peace.

Giant By Nature: A Short Story – Part Two

Welcome to part two of my Giant By Nature Short Story. Enjoy! Watch for the last part of the Story next Saturday.

The next Saturday morning, I was at the fence waiting for Tommy to arrive. I saw his father waiting in line with his friend, one of the zookeepers. I didn’t see Tommy. I was worried. Why would Tommy’s father be there without Tommy? I waited for their turn to come. Tommy’s father said, ‘Hello Fernando, I have your carrots.’ I stretched my neck, looking around him, trying to find Tommy. I reluctantly took the piece of carrot; Tommy’s father gave me.

I heard Tommy’s father say to his zookeeper friend, ‘He is looking for Tommy. I was at the hospital this morning, and the doctors told us that Tommy only has a few months left, that the seizures in his brain are getting worse. I don’t know what to do. Tommy’s only wish in life is for Fernando to be safe once he is gone.’ I watched Tommy’s father’s eyes fill with tears. I honked, trying to let him know I understood. I listened closely as his friend said, ‘Then that is what we will do. Tomorrow night we will take Fernando. I have a friend who owns a boat. Fernando originally came here from the Galapagos Islands to bring his species back from extinction. He has done his job. What do you say we take him back home?’

I got excited. These two men wanted to take me home. I started honking loudly, shaking my head back and forth. I needed them to realize that I understood them. Tommy’s father said, ‘I think he can understand us.’ Then he gave me a fat earthworm and said, ‘I will be back tomorrow night with Tommy, Fernando. We are taking you home.’

I ambled up to my favorite rock wondering how to say goodbye to the girls. The next morning, the girls and I went for a swim and sunned ourselves on the rocks. It was time to say goodbye. I said to the girls, ‘Della, Corrine and Fancy, I have news. I am leaving tonight. Tommy’s dad and that zookeeper, Bert, are coming to get me tonight to take me home to the Island. I want you to know I will miss all of you. It is time to say goodbye. Soon another turtle will come to take my place.’

Poor Della, she couldn’t breathe. She said, ‘I don’t care who they bring, I will have no part of him. None of us will, right, girls? There will no longer be any eggs laid at this zoo. I will miss you Fernando, but I am glad you are going home to live out the rest of your life in peace. If a distraction is needed when they come for you tonight, we have that covered.’

Never have I felt such love. I spent the rest of the day sunning and wondering what life would be like on the Island. Darkness fell, and I heard a truck and I knew Tommy’s father had come. They had a gigantic box and had laid carrots out. I believe they thought they needed to entice me into the box. I was ready. I was going home. I went willingly into the box, picking up a few carrots on the way.

We were off! I could hear Tommy in the front of the truck say, ‘Thank you Dad. Fernando will be happy on his Island.’ I was happy to hear Tommy was with us and not in the hospital. I didn’t mind the bumpy ride at all.

Suddenly, I heard loud noises. I had heard them before, coming from the road in front of the zoo. My box filled up with blue and red lights. The truck started to slow. I could hear Tommy’s father say, ‘It’s okay Tommy, we will get Fernando to his Island.’ I shuddered. I knew something was wrong. I listened carefully to the men talk outside saying, ‘Bert, what do you have in the box?’  Bert laughed, and said, ‘It’s Fernando, the missing sea turtle. Looks like the old guy went for a walk. Found him five miles from the zoo, just strolling down the boulevard.’ I saw a face looking through the slats in the box. I smiled at him and started to sing, letting him know I was fine.

I heard the man say, ‘You are not headed back to the zoo, Bert. Where are you going?’ Bert laughed and said, ‘I was having dinner and thought Tommy here would like to go help search for Fernando, I am just dropping them off at home and heading back to the zoo.’ Listening, I heard the other man say, ‘Sounds good. I will let the zoo know you found Fernando and are on your way back.’

The lights moved away, and I heard Bert say to Tommy and his father, ‘We have to move fast. The boat is waiting.’ It felt like the truck I was in was moving fast. I was having a hard time keeping my balance and for a seven-hundred-pound turtle that is not easy.

It wasn’t long after that I could smell the saltwater. Wouldn’t you know it? I could hear those noises and see the blue and red lights again. It seemed like the truck was going even faster. Then the truck turned to the left, and I almost tipped over. I didn’t know if I was going to make it. I didn’t know what Tommy would do if I had to go back to the zoo.

Giant By Nature: A Short Story

Excited to share a new short-story I wrote recently. I will share the story in three parts over the next three weeks. I hope you enjoy it! Please leave a comment, telling me what you think of the story.

Part One

I am a Giant of Nature. When you are a sea turtle as old as I am, one hundred and fifty years old. All you want to do is lie on a rock and take in the sun. My son, Mateo, five years old, seemed determined not to let me spend my afternoon napping. “Dad, how did you come to be on our Island?” He asked. I stretched my long leathery neck to look back up the hill to see what the others were doing. They were all resting. Stretching my arthritic body, I smiled at Mateo. He was always interested in everything. Mateo always had a story to tell.

I smiled at Mateo, looked out at the calm sea off the Galapagos Islands and began my story, knowing that Mateo would tell the story again and again.

I was one hundred years old and living at the San Diego Zoo. One Saturday morning, I slept in late, and went out to the yard that overlooked the pool where I often swam. I found the girls, Della, Corrine, and Fancy already enjoying the sun of the day.  Della said to me, ‘Good Morning Fernando, it is Saturday and your sleeping in. Won’t be long and the children will arrive for their visit.’ Then Corrine said, ‘I hope they bring good snacks this week.’ Fancy laughed as she said, ‘Corrine, is that all you think about is the snacks?’

Moving towards the pool for a dip in the cool water, Della said to me, ‘I am worried about your little boy, Tommy. I think he is getting sicker, Fernando. He is now in that chair that rolls around. His dad pushes him everywhere.’  I nodded my head in agreement, thinking Della was right. It had only been the last few months that Tommy would not or could not walk anymore, but I didn’t know what was wrong with him.

Glancing in the pool, I saw my reflection. My face was an old yellow color. After four decades in this breeding pen, I should have expected it. My shell was looking like a house that could use a fresh coat of paint. My excitement in life was my Saturday visits with Tommy. He always brought the best carrots and that red shirt he wore every week was for me. As I jumped in the pool, I thought of the nice neck scratches Tommy gave.

A short time later, seeing the children arriving, I lunged off the rock in the middle of the pool and swam to the bank. Tommy should come soon. I watched as the girls moved to the opening in the pen, letting the other children pet them and feed them snacks. Looking around, I saw Tommy sitting in that chair, alone while he waited in line. Where is his dad? The two zookeepers were standing with him. Tommy looked upset as I ambled towards the fence where Tommy was sitting.

As I got there, Tommy was crying, and his dad was trying to console him. I may not have ears, like Tommy had, but I could hear him speak. Tommy said, ‘But Dad they said Fernando is too old now. They will take him away and bring another boy turtle in to replace him.’ Shocked, my beady eyes widened. The Zoo planned on taking me somewhere? I watched Tommy wipe his nose on his shirt, and heard him say, ‘Where is this place, euthanized Dad? Can we go there?’ ‘Where did you hear that word Tommy?’ Tommy’s father asked. ‘The zookeepers said that he is too old and needs to go to euthanized. Where is that dad?’

I couldn’t move, Euthanized? I knew what that meant. They were planning on killing me. I heard Tommy choke, not being able to catch his breath. It scared me. I moved closer to the fence and stretched my long neck so Tommy would see me. As his father was giving Tommy a drink from that bottle, I pulled my body onto the rock next to him and started singing. Tommy saw me, and I watched as he laughed.

‘Fernando, you are here! I promise I won’t let them take you away to euthanized, I will save you. I love you.’  I sang higher, and as Tommy moved up in the line, I followed him, staying close to the fence. ‘My dad and I cut your carrots last night Fernando, and I even brought some earthworms I had dad dig up last night for me.’

I smiled at Tommy, honking even louder in response. Earthworms, my favorite! When Tommy got to the opening, the girls moved aside. They could see Tommy had been crying and needed to spend time with me. Tommy scratched my neck lovingly, giving me first a piece of carrot and then an earth worm. Though I enjoyed the snacks, I could tell Tommy’s head hurt, and it worried his father. I looked at his father, while I stretched my neck further for Tommy. I saw the tears in Tommy’s father’s eyes and my heart broke. There was something wrong with Tommy. As he stroked my neck, he seemed weaker.

I heard the bell ring; it was time for the next group of children to have their turn. I looked at Tommy as he whispered, ‘I will save you Fernando, I can’t die knowing they will send you away.

Die? Tommy would die. He’s just a kid. I was 100 years old. Why was he going to die? I watched as his father patted Tommy’s shoulder and started moving him away, back to their car. I felt sick. I ambled back to the rock I sat on most of the day, not interested in the other children.

As I climbed up on the rock, I heard Fancy say, ‘Something is wrong with Fernando girls, let’s go.’ The girls moved away from the waiting children, to sit with me in the sun. I watched the disappointed children that had been patiently waiting their turn, as the girls came toward me, taking their places in the sun. Della asked, ‘What’s wrong, Fernando?’

I lovingly looked at the girls, who had been part of my life the last seventy years at the Zoo and said, ‘I have outlived my purpose. They are planning to kill me and bring in a younger male.  Worse, my friend Tommy is dying. I am not sure why, but there is nothing I can do.’ It had been a long morning. I pulled my head into my shell to reflect on my life and what was to come. Unless a miracle happened, my life was soon ending. If my life ended, what would become of Tommy?

Watch for Part Two, Next Saturday!