Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A Guest Post from Michael Bast, author of Death's Academy!

It's Tuesday, which means you're probably partially glad that it's no longer Monday but mainly upset that Friday is still so far away. It's okay, I know exactly how you feel. And, while I can't fast forward the week, I can give you a guest post from an awesome author to ease the pain! So, here you go.

The Death’s Academy entrance exam for Midnight Smith is quickly approaching. There’s just one problem: Midnight is the worst exam taker the academy has ever seen. If Midnight wants to ever step foot inside the school, he’ll have to join forces with the hated Guardian Angels, and together face the deadliest creatures in the world - the dreaded Unicorns. Becoming a Grim Reaper has never been more hilarious!
Find this on: Goodreads / Amazon / BookLikes
The spotlight is on Michael Bast, author of Death's Academy, today! I'm looking forward to sharing my review of this hilarious Middle Grade read with you tomorrow, but in the meantime you should enjoy this equally hilarious guest post. Mike Bast is an author with a sense of humor, and I totally appreciate that. Happy reading!


First, you must know three things about me;

1) I am deathly afraid of the ocean at night. There are creatures lurking, waiting for me. Do I understand the chances of me being attacked by a shark are rarer than getting hit by a bolt of lightning while on a pogo-stick? Yes. What’s your point?

2) There is a possessed doll out there searching for me. One night, when I’m stumbling down my darkened hallway he’ll come around the corner, his twisted doll face smiling, his little doll legs ready to pounce, his stubby doll fingers feeling for my neck. He’s coming, it’s just a matter of time.

3) I enjoy Mexican food.

Now that we’ve got to know each other, let’s get started. I am a storyteller. Death’s Academy is my second novel, but first one published. I’ve also written a half-dozen or so film scripts. In a previous life I was an independent filmmaker.

I would love to share a quick story about writing Death’s Academy.

When I sat down to write "DA" I made the conscious decision to allow the bizarreness that is ping ponging around my brain to hit the page unfiltered. The result? I have dachshund/poodle mixes as hell-hounds, muscle-ripped unicorns as bad guys, grim reapers as my good guys. Was the weirdness too much? It was a question I asked myself over and over again while I was writing.

Then I had an eye-opening experience. Soon after finishing the book, I entered the first chapter of Death's Academy into a "1st Chapter Contest" at the Storymakers conference in Utah. I didn't win. But that wasn't the key reason why I entered it into the competition. Alongside with winning or losing you get written feedback from four judges.

So I get the feedback. I tear open the manila envelope, take a deep breath and read the first judge's critique. I'm not going to bore you with all the details, but your first chapter is graded in overall enjoyment between 1 being the absolute worst to 5 being the best.

My eyes scan the notes in the first judge’s critique, and I come to the final grade… 1. Ouch, I thought. That sucks. So I flipped to the next judge… 1. Ouch, ouch. At this point I begin thinking that perhaps I should find another avenue to seek creative fulfillment. Maybe shadow puppetry or nude miming... maybe mix the two, I was desperate.

I nervously flip to the third critique… 5. What? Wait a second, how can two people want to use my first chapter as a brillo brush to scrub their toilets with, and now someone gives it the highest grade possible? So I flip to the fourth critique… 5.

This discrepancy causes a bit of befuddlement. I love that word, befuddlement, its right up there with "fuzzy" and "mountainous". I love the way they massage your larynx when you say them.

So I'm befuddled. Then like the Red Sea, my clouds of confusion are split and understanding descends upon me like a fuzzy, mountainous blanket. People are either gonna hate Death’s Academy or love it, and that’s OK. I needed to stay true to the story I wanted to tell, and not worry about whether or not it will sell. Either you will like backstroking through the weirdness or you don't, that’s it.

A few months later Death’s Academy was picked up for publication, and a life time goal was met. So when anyone asks me the ‘trick’ to getting published, I say ‘incense and black magic,’ and when that doesn’t work, stay true to the story you want to tell. Here's to a bunch of 1's and 5's!


Many thanks to Mike for the fabulous guest post!

Make sure to add Death's Academy to your reading list, and check back tomorrow for my review if you've got the time :). Happy reading!



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