Following the journey of award winning author, Alex Azar, as he travels the publishing world and all things interesting. To reproduce or publish any material found within this blog, please contact me at

Saturday, August 31, 2013

What I'm Reading Now: 8/31

So I just finished a novel called "Feed" by Mira Grant, and my review of it has changed since I first started it.  I'm not sure how the book came onto my radar, but I've had it in my 'to read' pile for a couple of years.  Finally deciding to give it a read, I went into it knowing the bare basics of the plot.  It's a zombie book, and blogging is a big part of it.  While I enjoy zombie movies, and even The Walking Dead TV show, I'm not big on reading zombies.  Other than Max Brooks "World War Z" I can't really name a zombie book I've liked.  I'm sure there's some great ones out there, but the genre isn't at the top of my interests to continue delving into it.  That's why it took me so long to read this one.

Instantly my fears were confirmed.  The year is 2040 or so and the zombie outbreak happened 20 years ago. Children since have often been named George or Georgia in honor of George A. Romero because of his zombie movies.  From the beginning it felt like a shameless plug to show the author 'knows' the genre or the source material.  At some point early in reading the book, I learned it was a trilogy and I wanted to jump ship right then and there because I knew I wasn't finishing this book, let alone picking up the other two...

Then something amazing happened, Mira Grant (real name Seanan McGuire) showed she not only knows what she's talking about, but that she's put a lot of thought into this post zombie outbreak world.  We see how the world continued in a different path after the outbreak, we see the advancement of necessary technology in this infested world where people try to live their lives.  Also two of the things she did exceptionally well was to 1) explain why in the world 'blogging' would be crucial or even relevant in this world (ironic of me to discredit blogging on my own blog, I know), and the reason has to do with equal parts sharing of information and the 'real' news failing to acknowledge the existence of zombies, and 2) explain the origin of the zombies.  Too many times a zombie story sweeps the reason of their existence under the rug with a generic 'virus' answer. Mira took the extra steps to detail their genesis.

The book follows three bloggers who are brought onto the campaign trail of a presidential hopeful, the first candidate to acknowledge and accept bloggers as a crucial part of the media.  Of course, when zombies and/or presidents are involved conspiracies abound.  This, I must admit, is the weakest part of the writing.  Not so much what the conspiracies are, but the who behind them.  The author didn't put the best of efforts to conceal who was behind everything, and in all honesty that may have been her intention.

In any case, I've already picked up the second book to the Newsflesh trilogy "Deadline" and won't wait as long to read this one.

This started out as a "75 Page" read and review, however the author's knowledge and dedication to the genre comes through and makes this an easy...

"Cover to cover"
If the zombie genre interests you at all, this will certainly satisfy your flesh eating needs until The Walking Dead returns in October.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Free Book Giveaway: Reminder

As the title of this post suggests, this is a reminder that I am currently running a contest giveaway.  All you have to do is follow my blog, and once I have fifty (that 5-0) followers, I'll randomly select 5 of you to receive a free book I've been published in.

You may be asking 'How do I follow your awesome blog?', well aside the fact you've disappointed me for not already following me, it's quite easy.  To the left of this post, below the section labeled "Pages" you'll find the section "Followers" click the "Join this site" link and you're good to go.

Now go tell your friends, if you have any, if not thanks for your solitary support.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Intro 6: The Gravedigger's Apprentice

I've briefly spoke about the necessity of a horror author writing something for Halloween every year. That notion was the spark that created "The Gravedigger's Apprentice".

A couple days before Halloween in 2010 I set out to write a dark story fitting of the special time of year all horror authors revel in.  I had finished in time for the big day, and even posted a blurb of it here on the blog.  About six months later, I saw a call for submissions from NorGus Press centered around undertakers, gravediggers, and the like.  A natural fit for the anthology, I sent it in and not only was it accepted, it was published almost exactly a year after I first wrote it in time for Halloween 2011.

Below is the intro to "The Gravedigger's Apprentice" a tale, or yarn as they used to say, about respecting your elders, especially those no longer with us.

 “Forget everything you know about us. We shouldn’t even be called gravediggers no more. More like esscavators, cuz thass what we use. No more diggin wit’ shovels like we used to.”
“Then why do you still carry one around?” John thinks it was an innocent enough question, but Cecil’s reaction proves otherwise.
“Why? This job don’t end juss cuz the body’s inna ground. Lissen Chuck…”
“Name’s John.”
“You’re name’s Chuck till I tell you otherwise.” Cecil’s following statements are more to himself than to anyone, “Damn youngins think they can come n take my job. Hell no! I’ve been doin this too long.” He unzips his pants and rests a hand on a nearby tombstone.
“Whoa, hey old man, what are you goin?”
“Whass it look like Chucky, bout to drain the dragon.” What follows is a sickly laugh hidden behind the cough of a man who’s been smoking longer then John’s been alive.
“You can’t piss on a grave. Don’t you care about the people dead here?” John turns, refusing to look at Cecil.
“Lissen youngin, when I started this I cared, but damn long years taught me but one thing. Dead people is dead, and it don’t matter one bit if they was good, bad, or pissed on graves; we all rot.” Finishing up Cecil zips up and pats the tombstone, “Ingrid here, she died drunk driving, killing her own daughter. You tellin’ me she don’t deserve ta get pissed on?”
“Well, um…” Stammering for the right answer, “Is that even true?”
“Hell if I know, I don’t know bout any o these people ‘cept Old Man Higgins top o that hill.” The two take a few steps closer but don’t actually approach the grave. “He’s the oldest stiff here.”
“What makes him so special?”
“He died in the war of 1812 and is the only survivor…” more laughing/coughing “…of the original cemetery.” Seeing the confused look on John’s face, Cecil explains, “The old cemetery ran out of room, so’s they had to start gettin’ rid o people. Slowly but surely over the years, the original class was gone ‘cept for Old Man Higgins. See that on his tomb stone?”
John takes a couple steps closer and sees a quick glint of light reflecting off of something bronze. “I see it, what is it?”
“Thass his bell. Back in the day people was buried alive all the time. So’s they put these bells with strings on ‘em, so if ya woke up down there you could ring the bell.” Producing a flask from his pocket-less pants, Cecil continues after a quick swig. “’Cept the damned things so rusted over it ain’t rang since ‘fore Eisenhower was in the office.

“Matter a fact, next Friday you gotta clean up his site, cuz he’s a local hero a couple towns west o here. They the ones that keepin’ him round. The Saturday after they’re honoring him or something.”

"The Gravedigger's Apprentice" is published in Undertaker Tales: What They don't Teach you at Mortuary School and can be purchased at Amazon.comBarnes & Noble, or as always at the AzarRising Mobile Bookstore (trunk of my car)

Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn: Strangely Funny Authors: Meet Alex Azar!

Below you can read my first hosted interview with author Ed Ahern (a great read, that made me want to follow him), and now at this link you can read my first author interview, about my entry in the "Strangely Funny" anthology and writing in general. Maybe even figure out why I'm holding an M4 rifle in my profile pic (probably not though)

The Sinister Scribblings of Sarah E. Glenn: Strangely Funny Authors: Meet Alex Azar!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Author Interview: Ed Ahern

Fellow author Ed Ahern, writer of "The Best of Taste" published in Strangely Funny, shared his insights on the anthology and writing in general. Read on...

Q. What was your inspiration for "The Best of Taste"? Please say it wasn't personal experience.
I try and stay one idea ahead of the story I'm currently working on. The process is akin to trapping bubbling swamp gas. I was suffering through a television commercial for an (unnamed) dating service when the bubble burst. What would a service be like for the truly maladjusted and sexually deviant? As a primarily fantasy writer, I added a witch as personal advisor for our misunderstood bad boy. Had I written the story as straight horror, I would probably have had to submit it to one of the erotic publishers, so I also layered in my normally twisted sense of humor. From there it pretty well wrote itself.
I used the chatty e-mail format as what I hoped would be a reasonable substitute for dialogue, and as a vehicle that let me play with the wordings a bit more. I have a weakness for bad puns, hence "The Best of Taste" - a story about terminal bad taste that wound up tasting good.
Q. "Foreign intelligence and international sales" sound like interesting day jobs. Can you reveal anything about them? Did any of them involve online matchmaking sites? 900 numbers?
The classification period is long gone by on my "foreign intelligence" stint, but I'm one of those folk who kept his mouth shut. It involved living for four years in Germany and three years in Japan, and speaking both languages pretty well. As a German contact once told me, "Any American who speaks German that well is a spy." "International sales" was a comfortable living but more mundane. I sold newsprint from a large Canadian company in 73 different countries over a quarter century in four languages. Unfortunately print newspapers were going through their decline and fall during this period, and the really good times went away early on.
Q. What is your current project? Tell us a little about it.
It's a horror short story about father love when the infant son turns out to be unlovable. I'd tell you more about the plot, but I don't want anyone to pinch the idea before I've had a chance to shop the story around. Just finished a horror/mystery novella where the hero is a defrocked priest and his assistant is an aggressively lesbian woman both involved in trying to root out a murderous witch's coven ( yes, back to witches.)
Q. What made you decide to write your own stories?
My undergraduate degree is in journalism, and I worked as a reporter for a year, but had always wanted to tell fiction stories. When I finally retired at 68, I'd already taken a couple writing work shops and discovered how low I was on the learning curve. It's taken three years, but 39 stories have been accepted so far, most of which have also been reprinted.
Q. We know you're an author. What do you enjoy reading?
Hopefully the GIGO principle doesn't apply to my writing, because I dump a lot of garbage in. Okay, not garbage, but pulp fiction. I stay a book ahead of HBO's Game of Thrones with J.R.R. Martin and read a fair number of fantasy and science fiction anthologies. I usually leaven a fiction book with a non-fiction one, and try not to read two books at once, because for me the reading experience for both books suffers. I dip back into David Foster Wallace's essays and fiction periodically, and emerge every time impressed as hell with his writing skills and frustrated with his obtuseness.
Ed Ahern's bio:
Ed Ahern resumed writing after forty odd years in foreign intelligence and international sales. He has his original wife, but after 45 years they are both out of warranty. Ed dissipates his free time fly fishing, shooting and attending French, German and Japanese language groups.