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Book Buzz – DARK SURF review

The Californian, part of the USA Today network, just posted a book review for the DARK SURF novel! — “It’s an excellent vampire tale!”

Here are a couple snippets from book reviewer Joanna Brauer:

“This is an entertaining vampire yarn, with a unique twist … There is romance, betrayal, secrecy, murder, sun and surf.”

“Audience: Anyone who enjoys a thrilling vampire story, surfing, the Californian lifestyle, lovers of the natural world, and…Hollywood, I see a movie here, folks!”

Thank you, Joanna Brauer, for supporting local authors! And thanks to Features/Off 68 Editor Joe Truskot for stopping by my booth at the 2015 Salinas Valley Comic Con!

Read the full review at: http://www.thecalifornian.com/story/life/2016/01/21/book-review-something-their-blood-zmak-brauer/79064826/

You can find more reviews for DARK SURF, the first book in the DARK SURF series, at: http://www.darksurf.com/books/reviews

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

In November, the 2015 Southern California Book Festival awarded the DARK SURF novel an “Honorable Mention” in the “General Fiction” category of its annual competition. I just received my official badge from the competition and here it is!

SCBF.dig.badge.HM2015

Each year, the Southern California Book Festival considers works in fiction, non-fiction, biography/autobiography, how-to, compilations/anthologies, photography/art, children’s, cookbooks, poetry, spiritual, young adult, business/technology, unpublished manuscripts, wild card, nature/animals and regional lit.

Submitted works are judged by a panel on:

  1. General excellence and the author’s passion for telling a good story.
  2. The potential of the work to reach a wider audience.

This is the DARK SURF novel’s first award!

Pulse – events & entertainment

Calling all COMIC CON fans!

I’ll have a DARK SURF booth at the 2nd annual Salinas Valley Comic Con at the National Steinbeck Center, One Main St., Salinas, CA 93901.

  • 12.19.2015 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
  • 12.20.2015 – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Stop by & see me! Autographed and/or inscribed copies of the DARK SURF novel will be available for $15. It makes a fun & unique gift! Free bookmarks & bumper stickers too!

This year’s Comic Con theme is Imagination and Beyond. For info & tickets, visit http://www.steinbeck.org/pages/salinas-valley-comic-con-2015. #SVCC15

Crave – food & drink

Exploring Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone

I recently spent 2 nights in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone—home to 15+ wineries, a few brewpubs & taprooms, restaurants and more. Located just west of Highway 101, it’s right next to the beach (great for graysuits!) and easily walkable on foot from one end to the other. The Amtrak station is also located there, which makes it convenient for out-of-towners.

Below are a few of the highlights from our trip, which was way too short. I can’t wait to go back!

Funk Zone Wineries:

  • Kunin Wines, 28 Anacapa St. – 2014 Zinfandel (Paso Robles, $30) and Syrah (Santa Ynez Valley, Larner Vineyard, $38)
  • DV8 Cellars, 28 Anacapa St., Suite C – 2012 Overdrive Syrah (Larner Vineyard, Ballard Canyon, $38)
  • Santa Barbara Winery, 202 Anacapa St. – 2013 Reserve Chardonnay (Santa Rita Hills, $25) and 2012 Primitivo (Joughin Vineyard, $28)
  • Lafond Winery, 111 E. Yanonali St. – 2012 Lafond Vineyard Chardonnay ($40) and Syrah ($40).
  • AVA Santa Barbara, 116 E. Yanonali St. – Visit here for the chalk drawing in the tasting room. It’s super-cool! Below is just a fraction of it.
AVA Santa Barbara Tasting Room

AVA Santa Barbara Tasting Room

Funk Zone Brewpubs & Taprooms:

I noticed 2 things right away about the beers in Santa Barbara:

  1. Many of the stouts and porters I tried had a distinct smoky flavor—very different from the coffee and chocolate flavors usually found in these beer styles.
  2. The red ales here are light in color, body and flavor. They lack the roasty, hoppy characteristics that I love in San Diego red ales. (Sorry, SB.)
  • MO’saic Pale Ale – This super-hoppy American Pale Ale is made with Mosaic hops, accented with a small amount of Amarillo hops. 4.8% ABV, 38 IBU
  • Davy Brown Ale – This American Brown Ale blends caramel and chocolate malts with Northern Brewer and Cascade hops. 6.0% ABV, 29 IBU
  • Gimme that Nut Brown Ale – This American Brown has heavy vanilla notes; as it warms up, it tastes like root beer. 6.0% ABV, 32 IBU
  • Stagecoach Stout – This Oatmeal Stout has a midnight-black smoky flavor, with notes of tobacco. 5.6% ABV, 26 IBU
Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company

 

  • Union Ale taproom, 214 State Street – I sampled the Bell’s Porter here—deep, dark, rich and very smoky.

Funk Zone Restaurants:

  • The Brewhouse, 229 W. Montecito Street – There are lots of beers to sample in this brewpub. My favorite taste of the night? The Monday night Prime Rib Special for $20—a carnivore’s delight.
  • Enterprise Fish Co., 225 State St. – The 2-lb. Lobster Special (with 2 side items) for $37.95 is delicious & a great deal (a $22 savings)! It’s available Monday through Thursday, or until they run out.
  • Metro Fine Foods, a.k.a. Metropulos, 216 E. Yanonali St. – The gyros ($9.95) are huge, fresh & meaty with a tangy yogurt dressing.

 

On the drive back up the 101, we also sampled a few brewpubs we’ve never tried before, including 2 in Goleta and 1 in Paso Robles.

Goleta Brewpubs:

  • M.Special Brewery, 6860 Cortona Drive, Suite C, Goleta – Don’t be thrown by the office park location. There’s good beer to be found here! I sampled the Dozer Special American Brown. This is a very tasty & very well-balanced brown! Most brown ales are too sweet and syrupy for my taste, but this has the perfect balance of malt & hops. Refreshing! My beer drinking buddy enjoyed the Session IPA, Greatland Special IPA and Lazy Eye Double IPA.
M.Special Brewery

M.Special Brewery

  • Hollister Brewing Company, 6980 Marketplace Drive, Goleta – Here, my IPA-loving buddy enjoyed The Pope IPA and Hippie Kicker IPA.
Hollister Brewing Company

Hollister Brewing Company

Paso Robles Brewpub:

  • Firestone Walker Brewing Company, 1400 Ramada Drive, Paso Robles – I’ve been to the Buellton location several times but this was my first time here at the newer location. I enjoyed the Velvet Merlin Oatmeal Stout, a full-bodied stout, 5% ABV and 27 IBU. The roasted flavors in this winter seasonal provide a deep, smoky flavor with notes of toffee and fig. It’s just the thing to enjoy by the fire on a cold winter night. The Onion Rings ($6) are thick-cut & double panko breaded, served with a side of ranch and Firestone Walker’s own housemade barbecue sauce. So decadent, so good! And the beers floating along the blue lights above the bar create a mellow ambiance.
Firestone Walker Brewing Company

Firestone Walker Brewing Company

 

Firestone Walker Onion Rings

Firestone Walker Onion Rings

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

BLACK FRIDAY DEAL!!!

Get the DARK SURF ebook for only 99 cents with a special coupon code at Smashwords.com! That’s 67% off the $2.99 retail price.

  • Your coupon code is: LP72D
  • Valid Nov. 24 – Nov. 30, 2015

Visit https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/535860 OR visit Smashwords.com & enter DARK SURF in the Search box.

From there, you can buy the DARK SURF ebook for yourself or give it as a gift to a friend. It’s available in multiple formats, including epub, mobi (Kindle), lrf, and more. Happy shopping!

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

Breaking news from Los Angeles! Today the 2015 Southern California Book Festival awarded the DARK SURF novel an “Honorable Mention” in the “General Fiction” category of its annual competition!

Each year, the Southern California Book Festival considers works in fiction, non-fiction, biography/autobiography, how-to, compilations/anthologies, photography/art, children’s, cookbooks, poetry, spiritual, young adult, business/technology, unpublished manuscripts, wild card, nature/animals and regional lit.

Submitted works are judged by a panel on:

  1. General excellence and the author’s passion for telling a good story.
  2. The potential of the work to reach a wider audience.

This is the DARK SURF novel’s first award!

Dark Surf front cover

Dark Surf front cover

Pulse – entertainment

I saw “Steve Jobs” last night. Great movie! What’s unique is that it’s not a straight-up biopic. Instead, it’s akin to Pointillism—a painting technique in which tiny dots of color are applied in patterns to form an image. Here, screenwriter Aaron Sorkin paints colorful conversations among characters who—word by word, scene by scene—paint a vibrant image of Steve Jobs. The writing is sharp & compelling, and the directing is engaging.

Have YOU seen it yet or do you plan to? And follow-up question, how many Mac devices do YOU own? Let me know at facebook.com/TCZmak.

By the way, I have 3 Mac devices—laptop, iPod Shuffle, iPod Touch. And, of course, my very first computer was a Mac.

Book Buzz – DARK SURF news & goings-on

It’s been a while since I’ve done a DARK SURF update, so let’s go!

The title for book 2 in the DARK SURF series is … (drumroll, please) … RISING.

This summer, I worked with a very talented artist, Christopher Shy, who developed the cover art for RISING. Christopher also created the artwork for the DARK SURF cover, so you know it’s going to be cool! And it is!

This fall, I’ll work with another talented artist, Steve Zmak, on the cover design. And I need to write the back cover copy—a daunting task to summarize a 400-page book into 150 spellbinding words.

I’m heavy into the editing process for RISING. The story has been done for a while and it’s been reviewed by a few test readers. I’m now at the stage where I’m analyzing each and every one of the novel’s 99,000+ words to determine what stays, what goes and what changes. In the last week, I’ve cut 25 pages from the book. I’m sure I’ll be cutting more in the weeks ahead. Then I have one more test reader who will review the story. The editing/polishing process will continue for the next several months.

The tentative release date for RISING is spring 2016!

Pulse – events & entertainment

I love hearing stories about self-published authors who go on to reach millions! One such person is Andy Weir, author of The Martian. His debut novel puts the science back in science fiction—in the most fascinating, engaging way.

Weir, a self-proclaimed “nerd,” funneled his interests in space travel, orbital dynamics, relativistic physics, astronomy and manned spaceflight into this riveting, science-based story. It documents the experiences of astronaut Mark Watney, who finds himself stranded on Mars, with his crew and everyone on Earth thinking he’s dead. His struggle to survive and contact Earth—through his ingenuity, engineering skills and sheer force of will—is entertaining and educational at the same time.

Weir self-published The Martian in 2011. He first released it on his website, where he offered it for free. Then, at the request of a few readers who wanted a Kindle version, he released it as an e-book on Amazon. It sold more and more copies, becoming an online phenomenon. Then came a print publishing deal and movie deal.

The movie, which will be released October 2015, is directed by Ridley Scott and stars Matt Damon. I can’t wait to see how the screenplay portrays Mark Watney’s solitary, desperate, sometimes humorous struggle to survive against impossible odds. If you haven’t yet read this book, you still have a couple months to dive in before the movie hits the theaters.

P.S. Love the reference to “Martian vampires” on p. 33!

Pulse – events & entertainment

Local bookstores provide a huge benefit to the local community. When you buy books in your local bookstore, a large chunk of that money stays in the community. Buying locally means less packing and transportation, and a smaller carbon footprint. It also means more local events, local interest books and local authors.

Take Bookshop Santa Cruz, for example. If you’ve never been to their website before, visit it now, http://www.bookshopsantacruz.com. They have events, book groups, staff recommendations for books, newsletters and much more.

One event I’m really excited to attend is their newly launched Books & Brews Passport Series, which combines a love of literature and a love of craft beer—2 of my favorite things. The next Books & Brews event is a book talk & signing with William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life, 7 p.m., July 28, 2015 at Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing, 402 Ingalls Street in Santa Cruz. Special offer: Buy a copy of Barbarian Days at this event and get a pint for a penny! What a great deal!

You can pick up a Books & Brews Passport at Bookshop Santa Cruz or print one online. Get it stamped at at least 2 events in the series and you’ll be entered to win a $150 Bookshop gift card.

Bookshop Santa Cruz is also a huge supporter of local authors. They have a consignment program and even offer an additional promotional package to help get the word out.

You can find my DARK SURF novel on the Bookshop Santa Cruz website and in the bookstore. Since a couple chapters are set in Santa Cruz (and a major event occurs there in the story), it’s a great fit!

Speaking of the bookstore, it’s a fun place to wander around—for hours. Located at 1520 Pacific Avenue in the heart of downtown Santa Cruz, it fills over 20,000 square feet with a wide selection of new, used and sale books along with magazine, card and gift sections. Be sure to visit (often) and buy a book (or several). It’s up to us to support locally owned, independent bookstores—especially ones like Bookshop Santa Cruz, which do so much to support local readers and writers.

Dark Surf front cover

Dark Surf front cover