Crossroad Reviews #ReadOn on Feb. 21 features Curiosity Quills YA authors

Stop by Jessica Porter’s Crossroad Reviews #ReadOn on Feb. 21 4pm ET to chat with Curiosity Quills YA authors! Ryan Hill , Eliza Tilton , Elsie Elmore , Krystal Wade , Vicki Leigh , Heather Lynn ,  Jori Mierek , Mara ValderranJamie Ayres , B.C. Johnson , Chris Francis , Sharron Riddle Houdek

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Giveaways include books and prizes!



Writer and movie critic Ryan Hill releases new zombie tale, Dead New World

Ryan Hill was here just months ago for a brief interview when his debut book, The Book of Bart, was released. Well, since that first visit, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Ryan and getting to know him better. We manned booths together in both Winston-Salem, North Carolina and Baltimore, Maryland.

When I learned that Ryan was a movie critic, I thought that was both awesome and challenging at the same time. Do you ever sit back and just watch the films? How did you get started? So when he was scheduled to appear on my blog to celebrate the release of his new book, DEAD NEW WORLD, I asked if he would talk about his movie critic gig.

RyanAbout Ryan:

I started writing about movies as a freshman at NC State University. My second or third week on campus, I saw an advertisement to write forTechnician, the school paper. I joined, and began my crazy journey as a film critic. Fun fact: the first film I ever reviewed was the Ryan Phillippe dud54. That continued for my four years of undergrad at State. After two more years of graduate school, I even moved out to Los Angeles in the hopes of making it as a screenwriter. That hope lasted about six months, when I moved back home to North Carolina. Hint: Los Angeles is a fun place to visit, but without a lot of disposable income, it’s not the best place to live.

In 2009, I found myself living in Charlotte. A friend of mine worked for a weekly paper there, and they needed critics. I was asked to apply, and I got the job. I’ve been writing as a film critic ever since, for a variety of outlets. Currently, I write for Screen Invasion (
The best part about being a critic is the free movies. On top of being free, critics also see most films before they’re released to the public. It’sawesome. Sadly, most critics (myself included) don’t get paid, so the free screening is considered our payment. Though, it would be nice to make some actual money. But, we do what we do for the movies, not a paycheck.
A lot of people think critics hate every movie that comes out, unless it’s an obscure French film, or some independent film that’s an unwatchable mess. Those critics do exist (Armond White). They live to tear down any film they deem not worthy of their time. When I write about movies, it comes from a place of love. I love movies. Love them. I want every movie I see to be fantastic. Sadly, that’s usually not the case.
When I’m reviewing a film, I try to figure out what the filmmaker was aiming to create. Did they want it to be some kind of rumination on love, or a subtle dig at the current state of security hidden within a massive blockbuster? I then figure out how close they came to hitting the mark. But that’s only part of it. My brain works in funny ways. Having seen so many movies in my life, few things bother me more than hearing stock dialogue, like “Come on! Let’s finish this!” How hard is it to come up with something different? I also try to figure out if the story made sense, if it didn’t go off on some silly tangent that added nothing to the bigger story, and things like that. However, I also do another thing when I watch a film. I study.
More than anything, I’m a story guy. Nothing is more important in a book or movie than the plot. If the plot stinks, chances are I’m not going to care about the characters. Sometimes, there’s a convergence of the two, where a fantastic plot collides with amazing characters. Off the top of my head, the best example of this is The Big Lebowski. When I read a book or watch a film, I try to pay close attention to the story’s structure. I take mental notes. I learn from those who came before me, so I can teach myself how far I should delve into a sub-plot, or how much time should be spent with secondary characters before it takes away from the overall story. With novels, I also study the prose. Does the author go so far into detail that it slows down the story, or is it so light the book could easily float away, because there’s nothing to it? For me, too much detail reeks of an author too in love with their own voice, and too little is something wretched, like The DaVinci Code. I’m always striving for that happy medium, where there’s just enough detail to keep the story humming along, without leaving anything out.
None of this is to say I don’t read books or watch movies for entertainment. I immerse myself in so many books and movies because I love them. I just also try to learn from stories, so I can help myself become a better writer in the process. After all, isn’t learning and improving the most important thing for a writer?
and please check out Ryan’s new release YA zombie tale Dead New World.
Dead New World, by Ryan Hill

About Dead New World

Zombies aren’t mindless anymore.

Before the world fell into chaos, zombies existed only in the imagination. Now, there’re more dead walking the earth than living. Zombies move about freely, while humans are forced behind concrete barricades to stay alive.

A man known only as the Reverend has become a threat to the rebuilding United States. The leader of a powerful cult, the Reverend somehow controls the zombies, bending them to his will. He believes zombies are God’s latest creation, making humanity obsolete, and he wants to give every man, woman, and child the chance to become one. With the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, his army composed of both humans and zombies, he may well get his wish.

Best friends Holt and Ambrose went up against the Reverend once. Holt lost a foot and a zombie bit Ambrose… though he didn’t completely turn. He survived the virus, only to become a human-zombie hybrid, reviled by the living and unwelcome among the dead. When the Reverend kidnaps the woman Holt loves, the race is on to save her from a fate worse than death.

Holt and Ambrose must sacrifice everything to take down the Reverend and survive in this dead new world. But will they lose their souls in the process?

Available at Amazon

Bookmarks Festival of Books and Authors, Oh My!



On Saturday, September 6th, I attended my first “event” as an author. The bookmarks festival held in Winston-Salem, NC, kicked off with a few events early in August and a special speaking event on Friday, September 5th, featuring James Patterson.

The following day, the festival celebrated books and authors with panel discussions, book signings, open mics, and more.  Spruce Street was renamed BookMarks Festival Boulevard and from Marshall Street to Poplar Street the block was filled with tents, booths, and even a stage. Readers of all ages, authors and poets visited the area.


CQ book signing Winston 050

Photo Credit: Mike Sayre

In addition to myself, Curiosity Quills was represented by: Ryan Hill, author of The Book of Bart and soon-to-be-released Dead New World, and Krystal Wade, author of The Wilde’s Fire Trilogy, Shattered Secrets, and the soon-to-be-released Charming.


Elsie book signing Winston 037

Photo Credit: Mike Sayre

Once we set up the booth, panic struck as we waited for the attendees to start filtering in. I didn’t have a lot of experience talking to people about my book, (you know, actual people not on the web).  A few deep breaths and an internal pep talk were especially needed once folks started stopping by. But once my nerves calmed, the experience was so much fun. Readers and other authors alike were both kind and supportive. And thanks to Ryan and Krystal’s help, I crafted a one line synopsis for my book:

“Sixteen-year-old Lyla thinks surviving high school is tough until she discovers she can raise the dead.”

I have another festival lined up in Baltimore, Maryland in two weeks and am looking forward to do it all over again. (plus, I get to meet more CQ authors.)

If you haven’t picked up your copy of my book and would like to, the ebook of  The Undead: Playing for Keeps is on sale for .99 (just until Sunday.) (Paper back links: Amazon US, B&N  and Amazon UK links for both.)

And please don’t forget to leave a review on Goodreads or Amazon.



My interview with Book of Bart author, Ryan Hill

10366167_10203044375446824_6638557809442124877_nRyan Hill released his debut novel, a YA paranormal, satirical story called The Book of Bart, on May 22. 

Life is hectic around a new release, but Ryan was gracious enough to take time from his busy schedule and answer a few questions about writing. I hope you find his answers as honest and helpful as I did.
Are you a panster or a plotter? How do you approach a new idea?
I’m both, actually. When I have an idea, I try to flesh it out and see if I can come up with enough ideas to make it a novel. Once that happens, I’ll map out conflicts, a few ideas for scenes, but most importantly, where the story will end. I like the organic feel of pantsing, but without a clear destination, I feel a writer just ends up ambling along like a tumbleweed, with no idea where to go.
Do you have the same critique partners for all your work or do you have different sets? And why?
I have the same critique partners. I’m always on the lookout for other partners, but at the moment I have a couple of CP’s and a professional editor I hire to help clean up my MS.
What is the most difficult aspect about being a writer?
There’s so many to choose from! Probably making yourself finish that first draft. It’s so hard not to give up 1/3 of the way in when you’re stuck, you feel like you’re a terrible writer, and you just wasted a few weeks of your life on something that isn’t good. Pushing through the insecurity is so difficult, and that even counts for when you’re shopping your MS around. As satisfying as writing is, it will knock you down every step of the way, and then some. You have to get up and keep moving forward. All of this to say that the most difficult aspect about being a writer is, to quote Jim Valvano, “Never give up. Don’t ever give up!”
What are your top three nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with unpublished writers?
Hmm. Obviously, just keep writing, Matthew McConaughey style. Learn how to take criticism. And learn the business of books. You can’t just write a book and expect to get a big payday. Not gonna happen.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
All of it, even the difficult parts. It’s way better than a 8-5 job.
Do you have any suggestions for editing drafts?
Finishing that first draft is the hardest part of writing. Editing takes longer, but the hard part is done! You’ve got a book in hand, you’re just making it better. Especially if you’re new to writing, hire a professional editor to polish your MS. You’ll not only get a rude awakening to how little you actually know about editing, but that will teach you a ton. Doing this will also teach you to cope with criticism, otherwise you’ll end up lying on the floor in the fetal position crying. In the end, after you’ve made the 2,000 or so changes the editor wants, read what you’ve done. You’ll realize that all edits, even the harshest ones, only help.
What do you think is the most important element a story should have?
The obvious answer is a story, LOLZER. No, a story needs conflict. Momentum. Direction. Once you know how to tell a story, the rest just falls into place.
Do you have other stories in the works?
I do! My zombie opus, DEAD NEW WORLD, is coming Oct. 13 from Curiosity Quills. After that, I’m putting the final touches on a MS called THE CONCH SHELL OF DOOM, which is every bit as silly as it sounds. A sequel to THE BOOK OF BART is also upcoming.
I wrote a blog about self-doubt being a new demon I encountered. Do you have any writing demons?
Oh, gosh. Self doubt is a biggie. Insecurity, fear of failure, worrying that my story stinks, that nobody will like it, that I’m not doing enough outside of writing to help promote my work, that I’ll never finish this manuscript, this was all a big mistake…yeah. Self-doubt.
If someone wrote a book about your life, who would star as you?
Joel McHale. He’s my celebrity doppleganger.



Here’s the synopsis:

Working for the man upstairs stinks, but working with Samantha, an angel in training? Offensive!

Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.

With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bartholomew, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the Devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.

If Bart wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.

The Book of Bart is racking up some great reviews. (I grabbed a copy on release day.)

You can get your copy here:

Author Bio

RyanGrowing up, Ryan Hill used to spend his time reading and writing instead of doing homework. This resulted in an obsession with becoming a writer, but also a gross incompetence in the fields of science and mathematics. A graduate of North Carolina State University, Ryan has been a film critic for over five years. He lives in Raleigh, NC, with his dog/shadow Maggie. Ryan also feels strange about referring to himself in the third person.
Here’s where you can find Ryan on the web: