Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The "voice" of the apocalypse.

I have been telling you all that the audiobook version of Zomblog was coming. Well...it has landed (just click on the link)! I am blessed to have found not just a person to narrate my work, but a team that went in and made the story come to life. The wonderful and talented folks at Puretalon have brought my story to life. So, meet Erik Bryon, the voice behind Sam...and return tomorrow for Emily Dane who takes on the role of the controversial Meredith Gainey. (And yes...you will all meet Snoe VERY soon...so just keep coming back!)
Meet Samuel Todd...he sees dead people.

The indie community (writing, music, acting) can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?

EB: I have dove into the world of self-publishing writers over the last year and have seen some really great works, I have also seen some weekend novelists who crank out pages of unedited text and call themselves the next great thing. Similar to indie music, this is the difference of a truly outstanding band producing an album and a guy peddling burned "demo cds" in a grocery store parking lot.


The social media is…
  
EB: Social Media is like a children's story book. There are trolls who eat spam, robots who attack, and angry, bitter people locked away in towers. However, with a true adventuring spirit, we brave the jungle of text and filth and try to find the most powerful tool to achieve fame and wealth.

Share some information about your production company with us: 

EB: Puretalon Productions is a company I founded last December. I hope to expand to a wide range of audio productions services, but initially we are focusing on audiobook recording and editing. We specialize in working with independent authors bridging the gap between text and multimedia.
  
What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you are in the entertainment industry?

EB: "You work on a radio/tv show? What channel are you on?" Trying to explain that you work "online" to somebody not familiar with that world usually devolves to pointing at a computer and saying, "YES" and then pointing at the TV/Stereo and saying, "NO." Then I will eventually just tell my grandma not to worry about it.

So, let’s talk a little about Zomblog. What are your thoughts on the project, and do you or any of your crew have an interest in the zombie genre?

EB: I put the Puretalon Productions name online and almost exactly three days later I received an email for a title called "Zomblog." I was ecstatic. I am a huge zombie genre fan. I have a top secret "Zombocalypse Escape Plan" which a select few have been briefed on in event of a disaster. I am very glad that the first official series with Puretalon's name is a Zombie tale.
  
What led you to audio book narration?

 EB:  I had been involved in podcasting since 2005. It started as a hobby and eventually I had one of those "light-bulb" moments and realized that this weekend hobby could very easily become a full-time career.
 
Zomblog for the commute? Sure just get it here!

How would you describe Zomblog to friends?

EB: Not just a zombie book, but a first-person description of humanity's descent into the Zombocalypse.


What other projects are you currently working on?

EB: As my time in the Zomblog universe has ended, I am pleased to move right into the DEAD series. I am working on re-launching an entertainment site: "Original Media for Geeks" or OMfG. The website http://omfggeeks.com has a lot of history coming from the original WoW Radio (World of Warcraft) Gaming Podcast network and the various spin-offs from that network. OMfG plans on offering original content as well as news and convention coverage from around the world. Puretalon Productions is also gearing up to create original audio dramatizations which will hopefully debut Q4 2013.
(Blogger's note to Erik: If you are looking for writers...I know a few!)
  
What is one thing about you that would surprise individuals who do not know you personally?

EB: I am an ordained minister and a registered Jedi Knight. No joke.

What do you look for when choosing to narrate an audio book? Or are they simply acting jobs that you simply take as they come along?

EB: I really enjoy reading sci-fi and fantasy novels. I really enjoy narrating the books that I would most likely read anyway. That's why this job is great, you get paid to read. Who wouldn't love that?

One of the biggest criticisms regarding Zomblog is that it paints humanity in a negative light? Did you get that vibe? How did you see it?

EB: I can see where it would be criticized for this. However, I praise it for that. Humanity is a terrible group of primal beings at our core. There are those "heroes" that rise to the top and save the universe, but the majority of us live our lives in a moral grey area of regretful choices and terrible deeds of necessity. But I guess I am a bit of an optmist, sooo...

How do you see humanity dealing with a scenario such as this? (Removing the idea of how unlikely it is, of course.)

EB: We are going to fail. Mother Nature has a way of compensating for an upset in the food chain. I'm not saying she's going to unleash a wave of zombies at us, but as we scientifically adapt beyond sickness and death, nature will find new ways to kill us off.

Did anything stand out for you?

EB: The passing of the "Zomblog" journal from Sam to Meredith was a very unique idea. I don't feel switching the narrators mid-book is something that happens very often. It gives us a broader outlook of what's happening as Sam and Meredith are very night and day on their personal views on what decisions must be made.

Links:

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday...a good time to talk about my 30 year high school reunion.

So, this weekend, Denise went to Houston. She comes home tonight! I will be there at the airport with a rose and a kiss to welcome her home.

This weekend, I spent my time working to pass the time. However, I did go to my thirty year high school reunion. It was actually a pretty anxiety riddled day leading up to the event. For obvious reasons, I missed the 20 year...so I was going because I have some very supportive friends who agreed to be my security blanket.


My friends, Doug and Jamie Smith (she was Jamie Coatney in school, and I still call her that when I am not thinking about it) were there to be close in case I got too wound up and had to go. So, here is the thing...Doug and Jamie have been together since high school. They are happily married all these years later and have three amazing kids who have yet to hear the stories of their mom that she keeps locked away. (Wait until they turn 21! That is when she said it would be okay to tell them...it is gonna be fun!) Doug is what I would call, Mr. America. Not the super hero type...the REAL type. He is that hard working, middle class guy who does not shirk duty or responsibility.; always has a list of chores to do around the house on weekends, and stands as guardian over his family. But how to describe Jamie...okay, if pressed to give her a label as unique as she is...I would say Conservative Hippie, (I would have used "right-wing" but that has become such a loaded word.) Jamie and Doug are proof that people can make young love turn into lasting love.


One of my highlights from high school was when I was cast as Heathcliff in our production of Wuthering Heights. Our director/teacher, Carol Coburn cast the roles without auditions. This was the first time I had to share a kiss on stage. My Catherine was my friend Tricia Maio. Tricia and I had worked on The World According to Snoopy. She was given her shot at stage choreography during Snoopy...I was Snoopy and so Tricia and I, who had always gotten along fine, became better acquainted as friends during that production   (Ms. Coburn ran one of the best drama departments ever.) The first time I had to kiss her was the first and only time I ever experienced anything close to stage fright.


I was a bit of a party boy back then, but I had one friend who was about as sweet and innocent as they came. She was never in trouble, and there was more than one occasion when she would steer me clear of the administration if the lingering scent of alcohol could be detected on my person. She was that kind of friend where people from the outside were probably confused. The only time she ever got in trouble was when some horseplay got out of hand and I put her in a garbage can. She was called to the principal's office. As soon as I heard, I dropped everything and ran down there, busted in and said, "Beth didn't do anything...I put her there." The principal looked up at me, glanced at my pal Beth Maffitt, and said, "Oh...I should have known. You are free to go, Miss Maffitt." 


Lance Harris was the guy in school that NOBODY screwed with...ever. He sort of towered over everybody and said very little. He was not a bully...but could have been the greatest terror of the school had he chosen to go that route. But the thing about Lance was that, if he walked past and you said 'hello' to him, he would say "hi" in return and knew your name. Most of the time, Lance and I crossed paths at the various concerts that came through town.

Ian Jennings was one of my fellow KISS fans. Our music tastes were parallel...Priest, Scorpions, KISS, Iron Maiden. When he heard what I do for a living, he was not in the least bit surprised. Ian and I shared a lot of memories and alcohol in those few years.

I crossed paths with a few others, but I noticed that the old cliques formed up fast and the room became pockets--large and small--of the same people who hung together back then. Being totally sober, it was an interesting thing to observe. One of the most entertaining moments came at one point when I was just standing with Lance and talking. One of the former cheerleaders sort of stumbled up to us. She tried to read our name tags, but lance had taken his off and mine did not have my picture since I did not have one in the yearbook my senior year. It went something like this:

Her: Do you know me?
Me: I remember you, but we were not in the same circles.
Lance: {silence}
Her: But maybe I knew you?
Me: I doubt it. You didn't hang out down by the theater and choir wing much.
Lance: {silence}
Her: I might have gone down there! (heavy slurring of words)
Me: Nope...you didn't. Trust me.
Lance: {chuckle}
And away she staggered.
Lance: ...so anyways, yeah, I don't play computer games. I spend all day working on them and just have no interest.
Me: Excellent. Hey, have you seen Coatney?
Lance: No. Is she here?
Me: Yeah. C'mon, her and Doug are over here.

There were a few people I was hoping to see but didn't. Maybe the 40th...who knows.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A chance to gripe, hang out, and...other stuff

This weekend, my wife will be in Houston tending to family matters. Please, if you know her, wish her well. I never had any sort of close relationship with my parents, but I can imagine that it is a painful ordeal to see them ill if you do. So, I will be home...just me and the doggies and a stack of scary movies...and my PS3, XBox 360, guitars that are begging to be played...and work. I have editing on two different projects that are not mine as well as the final sprint to finish the 7th book in the DEAD series. So, no...I won't be bored.

But, I might be just a teensy bit lonely. I am one of those guys who likes his "alone" time. I like peace and quiet (since I had very little in the past decade...this is some catch up). However, I will be checking my blog and email more often than usual. SO today seems like a good day to pose a question that will get people talking (I hope).

As an author and an editor, I have a few pet peeves. Now, while I hardly think that my stuff is perfect, I do take pride in how well edited it is when it hits the world. So, here is the chance for you readers--and even other authors and editors--to share. What are some of those groan-worthy things that you see far too often on the page. 

Here is mine. And I have to be honest...I was a HUGE offender until I had a writing teacher point it out. Now, it is like that annoying person who chain smoked four packs a day and then quit. Yay for them for quitting, but they can be the worst anti-smoking zealots EVER. (And no...I was not ever a smoker...blech!) I cringe at the "thought to myself" line. Ummm, who else would you think to? That is wasted wordage. 

In other stuff, the best commercial on television is the one for +Dollar Shave Club. (The longer version can be seen here Dollar Shave Club if you have missed this little gem.) Now I am a naturally skeptical when it comes to ad claims. This one was no different, but I finally went to check them out. The two-bladed razor is a buck as advertised. But they have the four- and six-bladed for a bit more. For nine bucks a month, I get a six-blade pack that arrives in the mail each month. I keep my head smooth (and my face). So I put it through the paces. I skipped a couple of days to let my stuff get thick. It went through it like buttah! And the blades last just as long as those expensive ones! Also, nothing used to irk me more than for a blade to be useless after one shave. Guys, (and maybe the ladies, too, I don't know) you know what I mean, right. You shave once, then the next time it feels like the razor is plucking each individual hair from your face. And even worse, the shave is such that you are scruffy again in just a few hours...and itchy. So, dudes, if you have been wondering...yes, it is as good as Mike says.

Anyways, have a great weekend. Share some literary peevishness...and wish Denise well on her trip.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Dream with Dan O'Brien


Welcome to the last day of the Cerulean Dreams blog tour. It will run until July 24th and will feature excerpts, new author interviews each day, and a video blog by the author. But first, here is the obligatory blurb about the novel to settle you into this dystopian world:

Orion, the last city of men. Deep within the desert, a secret lay waiting. Young women found dead in the street. A corporation that controls the sleep of a populace that never sees the light of day. Alexander Marlowe seeks to unravel the mysteries of Orion as he helps a young girl, Dana, flee the city. The closer they come to the truth, the greater the danger that hunts them. Follow them as they search beyond the boundaries of everything they have ever known for answers. 



A video from the author:


video



Here be an excerpt for your enjoyment:






Bio: A psychologist, author, editor, philosopher, martial artist, and skeptic, he has published several novels and currently has many in print, including: The End of the World Playlist, Bitten, The Journey, The Ocean and the Hourglass, The Path of the Fallen, The Portent, and Cerulean Dreams. Follow him on Twitter (@AuthorDanOBrien) or visit his blog http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com. He recently started a consultation business. You can find more information about it here: http://www.amalgamconsulting.com/.





Would you like to win a copy of Cerulean Dreams?

All you have to do is comment on a post during the tour. Two randomly drawn commenters will be awarded either a physical or digital copy of Cerulean Dreams.

Visit http://thedanobrienproject.blogspot.com/ and follow the blog for a chance to win a Kindle Fire!


Short Attention Span Theater...A DOUBLE FEATURE!



















So, I am rolling a double-bill today. Today you get my take on thirty minutes with James N. Cook's, No Easy Hope: Surviving The Dead (Book 1) and...The Booked.Anthology. I openly admit that I have a story, Faces on the Milk Carton in the Booked offering (where the proceeds go to literary charities,,,so grab one!). And My 30 minutes with that anthology will not be in the TOC order, so grab some popcorn and let's dive in together.


I will start off and just get this out of the way...No Easy Hope needs a little bit of editing. It is not terrible or too distracting, but it has some things that could use fixing.

Okay, with that out of the way, I am really enjoying this book. It wastes no time drawing you in with action in the opening scene. Eric gets some real quick character development so that you get to feel like you actually met the guy and are now getting more acquainted as things unfold. I will say that Gabe almost outshines him as a character and had become my favorite so far.

You get to hang with "normal" folks in the worst of situations. Cook does a good job at what I think is dropping some hints of what we can look forward to as the back story is revealed. It is early, but I would say this is a title you should pick up. If the series holds up, this will be fun. Sure, it's early, but Cook has a way with setting mood and sharing just enough description so that you can let your mind paint the picture.

Now, as for The Booked. Anthology...

 Anthologies are sometimes hard to review. You will always find stories you love and others that you don't. This review will be in installments as I pick through the tales included and write something about each one. The reviews will not be in the order of the TOC. I will not give away spoilers, just observations...so here it goes:

One Shot (Only God Knows) by Michael Paul Gonzalez: This is Soylent Green meets Twilight Zone. The tone is dark and puts you in a very "what if" state of mind. There is a lot to be said about the possible meanings the writer could be shooting for, but most people guess and only the author really knows. But here is a question...what if you knew the manner and date of your death? Can pre-destiny be defeated?

Two Dollar Beer Nights by Sean P Ferguson: Every guy who reads this will cringe, nod, and then wince. Perhaps in a different order, but still...very nasty.

The Removal Kind by Caleb J Ross: Cue the voice of the guy who does the heavy duty movie trailer intros... Every so often, you read a story and go, "Huh?" THIS is that story. Go ahead and read the end and then you tell me that was not straight out of Bizzaro-Land.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

More Booked...

If you don't have yours yet...why the hell not!
Thanks for coming back. And now I will return you to the not cryogenically frozen Livius and Robb.


The social media is…

Livius: a huge platform from which people can show their inner selves to the world. I’m pretty sure it was easier for dysfunctional people to keep it to themselves when the audience was much smaller.

Robb: Game changing. I hate myself a bit for admitting this, but social media is the reason that my podcast exists. It’s the reason that this book exists. It’s the reason I’m answering these questions.

It’s frighteningly efficient. You take a platform that has hundreds of millions of users, and you make a group about a book or genre or whatever. Add some friends. Those friends add friends, and so on. Now you’ve got a dedicated vehicle to deliver information to literally anyone, that they’re already familiar with. You can make a post. Tag people. Upload photos. Invite people to events. Share files. This information is automatically delivered to the users of the group whenever they check their computer, phone, tablet.

Now take that group “secret” so only members can see it. You’ve just created a free, comprehensive, mobile platform for collaboration that’s integrated into the experience that everyone is familiar with. You can now work on projects with people all over the world, on a silly free social network. It’s astonishing, and a little scary, how useful social networking really is.
  
These two claim they have NOTHING to do with the bankrupting of Detroit.
Share some information about what makes you choose a book to read:

Livius: Any number of things can cause that urge. If the author has impressed me in the past, either with their story-telling or prose, I’m likely to go that particular well again.

As far as someone I haven’t read, it has to be different. In the days of bookstores (pre-Amazon), nothing drove away from a book quicker that the feeling that you’ve read that same inlay card or back cover hundreds of times already. Retired cop faces copycat serial killer comes to mind. An author’s book is limited only by his or her imagination. Why write the same thing dozens of other already have? I imagine that that’s what it takes to attract the big publishers, a safe bet. And I’m glad that those writers have done well for themselves, but that kind of story-telling just isn’t for me.

One book that comes to mind is Winkie by Clifford Chase. Long before the movie Ted, Chase wrote about a teddy bear that comes to life and is subsequently imprisoned for terrorism. That’s the kind of imagination that won’t ever hit the top of the New York Times Bestseller List, but it’ll definitely get close to the top of mine.

Robb: Before the podcast, I would just continue reading books by people whose books I already enjoyed. It was great, but tough to discover new authors.

Now we do a hybrid of considering books submitted to us for review, and looking at new releases from the big publishers. Sometimes the books are personally significant, so we want to read them anyway. Sometimes they’re significant to the writing community, so we think it’s important to have a conversation about it. Other times, a book falls in our lap at the right time and we decide to go for it.


What is one question you are sick of being asked—not in interviews, but by individuals who know you do a podcast?

Livius: What is a podcast, is that on the radio? It’s 2013 for goodness’ sake.

Robb: I’m actually very careful about who I tell about the podcast. I don’t know if you know this about writers, but they crave validation. I’m not saying this as a slight. It’s objective truth. So saying that I do a book review podcast can be dangerous. But of the people that do know I do the podcast, my least favorite question probably is:  “Have you read ___?”

Because I most likely haven’t. I don’t think people realize how many books exist. Even at the speed I read, there’s literally millions of books I’ll never ever read.

A close second would be: “Can I be on your podcast?”


Any strange “crazed fan” stories?

Livius- No. I kind of wish there was though. Now that I’ve said that, we’re likely to wind up in some real life remake of the movie Penn and Teller Get Killed.

The fans have been terrific. The best part of doing this podcast has been the connections we’ve made with writers and listeners. I now feel that I have friends all over the world and that never would’ve happened if it weren’t for Booked.

Robb: I think it’s crazy that we have ‘fans’. Not really, though. The nice thing about podcasts is that it’s not a very exposed medium. People only get from us what we choose to give, and when. I’ve had a few people approach me and tell me they listen to the podcast, and I have no idea who they are. So that’s weird in an awesome way.


Can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

Livius: I’m not sure if there are writers who don’t read. I’m not a writer, but I imagine it would be really hard to pull off successfully if I didn’t read. If there are and they’re successful, more power to them. I just think it would be an impressive feat to pull off.

Robb: Probably. I like to imagine writing talent as being a spectrum. So there’s probably people that can be excellent writers because they’re just very naturally talented. But that’s going to be on a far end of the spectrum. A larger concentration of excellent writers are going to exist somewhere closer to the middle, where it takes lots of study, practice, and inspiration to create something truly great. And again, pairing with the right editing team can make something with the potential to be excellent actually become what it is capable of being.

So sure, a writer can excel if they do not read, but it’s either going to happen or it isn’t. People shouldn’t just be hoping greatness will bless them. You have to work for it.


When does self-promotion cross the line and become a nuisance?

Livius: Up until I had a product to sell, I would have said the second time I have to see it.

The problem with social media and self-promotion is redundancy. So an author (or podcaster) has their own personal Facebook page, an official page, a Twitter account, Google +, maybe MySpace (I think this is still a thing). All of those are okay because I chose to see that person’s posts. I mean, it still sucks to see the same thing 6 times, but that’s what friends do, right? But then there’s spam. That comes into play when you belong to say a Facebook group. Our podcast has a Facebook Listener Group which was a genius idea from listener Laramore Black. It’s a closed group and people can ask to join. Our selection process goes like this. You ask, we add you. Of late, we’ve seen people join and then immediately promote their wares. Forget the fact that that’s just shitty marketing that won’t sell one book, it just makes you look like a turd. Writers (or promoters of any kind) would do well to learn that marketing yourself not only doesn’t work for your product, it gives people an immediate negative vibe about you and what you’re about.

Robb: Almost always.


Favorite book of all time?

Livius- The Booked. Anthology. If that’s not an eligible pick, Kiss Me Judas by Will Christopher Baer. Sometimes I think it’s just so I can say that a guy gets his kidney stolen by a hooker, tracks her down and falls in love with her. I’m pretty sure that I started looking at books differently after reading it. Not that I don’t still go for some lowest common denominator fiction from time to time, but it really set the bar higher for other writers. There’s a feel to it that I can’t quite put into words.

Robb: I’ll take the out that I did on my Goodreads profile. Any book I’m reading has the potential to become my favorite book. So I’m not so worried about keeping track.

That being said, I suppose the obvious answer is The Booked. Anthology. Because my heart is in there.


What is one thing about you that would surprise the listeners who do not know you personally?

Livius: Probably that I’m as bitter and spiteful in real life as I make out to be on the podcast.

Robb: It’s not an act. I’m always this handsome, charming and smart.


Is there anyone you’d like to give a mention?

Livius: Pela Via. If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think this book would be what it is.

Robb: Pela Via, who is an incredibly talented editor and writer, and a great friend. We wouldn’t be the podcast we are if she hadn’t introduced us to the 36 authors of her anthology Warmed and Bound, and our book wouldn’t be what it is without the time and hard work she put into it.


What is in your “to be read” pile right now?

Livius: Reading for the podcast has put me behind on the works of Andrew Vachss, so there’s a couple there. I’ve also had an itch to reread some Clive Barker favorites, ImajicaThe Great and Secret Show and Everville. When Craig Clevenger’s (as yet unnamed) third novel comes out, I’ll likely drop everything, call in sick to work and just go through it twice. I’ve also heard about this great zombie writer, Todd Something-or-Another…

Robb: The Summer Is Ended and We Are Not Yet Saved by Joey Comeau is what I’m reading right now. Not much more right now. I’m sure there’s a pile of books I’ve acquired, but I try not to stress about when I’ll have a chance to get to them.

Links:


Thanks to Robb and Livius for stopping in...now...buy the book.

Monday, July 22, 2013

The STARS of the World Famous, Award Winning Booked Podcast!

Absolute Literary Hoodlums

Almost two years ago, I discovered the Booked Podcast. They were talking about a story that was soon to be released in one of the early MDP anthologies, Midnight Movie Creature Feature. The story is titled Revenge of the Zombie Pussy Eaters. To be honest, the story almost did not make the anthology based on title alone...and then I read it. It is brilliant! There is some supreme humor couched in that tale along with a very well thought out story that fit the motif of the anthology to a 'T'.

Since then, I tune in at totally random times just to hear what these guys talk about in the world of books. When they mentioned that they were going to produce an "invitation only" anthology and that the proceeds were going to be slated for literacy based charities...I waited and hoped. When my invitation came, I was thrilled. When my story, Faces on a Milk Carton, got accepted, I was honored. 

This interview is a short story in itself, so I have decided to divide it up into two parts. So come back tomorrow for the rest. Also, over the coming weeks, I will be inviting several of my fellow contributors to stop in and yammer about what ever random stuff comes to mind.

Without further delay...the award winning (seriously, these two yahoos actually won an award!) hosts of the only podcast you ever need. Robb Olson and Livius Nedin.


 So, you are better known for talking about books. How did putting together your first anthology feel?

Livius: Daunting. There are so many elements you can’t anticipate until you’ve gone through it. To be honest, at one point I thought there would just be a lot of copying and pasting. There, book = done. It turns out that what publishers do is a lot of work. It’s like working on one of those 1,000 piece puzzles. Not the one that’s a nice scene of people in a park, more like those weird patternless ones masochistic puzzle people do. The reward, though, that part is pretty awesome. Getting to touch that bad boy for the first time and to realize that there’s a physical product that was born of the work that you put in, that’s pretty awesome.

Robb: Exciting. I’ve always had a publishing bug, so I’ve been wanting to do something at this level for years. It also feels like a lot of work, and I’m very thankful Pela Via agreed to work with us. I don’t know if we could have found a better fit. Our styles are very similar, and she is an editing genius. She never ceases to amaze me.


What are some of the lessons you have learned that caught you off guard?

Livius: The stuff I expected to be difficult wasn’t and vice-versa. There are a lot of small things that require great consideration and those things can hold up the project more than the selection process, more than the editing, more than the things you’d expect.

Oh, and the fact that between Lightening Source and Amazon, your book can go up 12 days early and that you’ll only find out about it when someone sends you a Facebook message. I’m not sure how big publishers can make sure their books go out on Tuesday and we can barely get it narrowed down to under 14 days.

Robb: 1) No matter how polished someone thinks their story is, there are always problems. Lots of them. 2) Deadlines are universally meaningless. Nobody respects them, and most don’t even acknowledge their existence. 3) It’s possible to be in love with a book.


What can you share about your selection process?

Livius not on the set of Twilight

Livius: In some ways I think this part was easier than what many go through because we were working through an invitation process and no genre structure. There was no slush pile of submissions, no real “does this fit” issues. We sent out invites to talented folks and they responded with great stories. I can’t imagine having open submissions and having to go through the process of selecting that way.

Robb not on the set of Cocktail

Robb: Our submission criteria took care of most of the screening. We only accepted submissions from authors that have been guests on the podcast, so we knew we were going to feel pretty good about the stories we were receiving. We also required the stories to not be previously published, which I think helped as well. That removed an entire conversation about how many new vs. previously published stories we could take, etc. So most of the hard work was done well before we started actually reading stories.


Any ambitions to write your own?

Livius: There’s a story that’s been kicking around in my head for almost two years now. The idea presented itself during a road trip we took with Richard Thomas and Chris Deal. Working through this anthology did nothing to enhance my desire to get it written. This writing stuff is hard work and not all of us are cut out for it. I do continue to say that I’ll write it one day, but that’s mostly so Richard Thomas can’t lay claim to it.

Robb: I’ve got a handful of short stories under my belt. One you may see sooner than you may have guessed. But really I use the podcast and all the work that goes into it as an excuse to not have time for writing. So far, it’s the most successful excuse of my life.


What could traditional publishing learn from the Indies? And how about the other way around?

Livius: I think that they don’t take enough chances. Most of them seem to play it pretty straight. Sometimes I’m convinced that they would pass on the greatest story ever written if there wasn’t a specific audience to mark it to. I’ve read plenty of books that if put on enough shelves and promoted properly would be best-sellers, but there was no specific demographic to market to. The Big Six should spend more time with story and prose and not how likely an 18-34-year-old female is to pick this up from the shelf at Walmart.

Indies, well, they need to figure out how to usurp one of The Big Six. It would be interesting to see what would happen if a small press published one great novel and put all of their efforts behind marketing that for a significant period of time, say one year. I say novel specifically because it’s a rarity to see a collection on the best-seller list. Short story readers are a very devoted, but rather small demographic. I’m going to feel terrible if any one takes that advice and has to close down shop.

Robb: In a broad sense, I see the big six (ahem, five) as risk averse and formulaic. Because that’s how they make tons of money. The indies, on the other hand, often do the exact opposite in order to make money - they’re experimental and eager to strike new ground. Sadly, the big five don’t really need to learn from indies because they can just find a method that works from an indie source and either ape it or buy it outright. I can’t imagine that business practice will change much.

We’re living in a time where success is measured by when your startup can sell to a major corporation for a hundred million dollars. So any indie press that is worth a damn will eventually become an imprint of one of the big five. What I think could cause a shift in the power dynamic between the bigs and the indies is when the indies focus on quality editing, production and marketing and fair compensation of their authors and remain a small (or become a medium), independent press. Is it viable? I’d love to see it. You don’t hear much about medium-sized publishing companies, right?


The writing community can be its own worst enemy at times. What are some of the issues you see cropping up? Solutions?

Livius: The writing community for the most part seems to be very supportive of its members and I have to say that they’ve been terrific to our podcast. I have seen some pettiness and ugly fights, but the thing that’s the most disturbing is how fragile some writers can be. I know this is true of all types of people, but it seems worse when it happens to someone who has an art form to share with others. Facebook didn’t teach people how to show their asses to the world, it just gave them a bigger stage.

Robb: I think Authors themselves can be their own worst enemies at times. Making The Booked. Anthology has taught me that publishing should not be a one person operation. We had four main staff, and a dozen other people on call to proofread and do minor edit work. It took us ten months to come out with a finished product because we wanted the fewest possible mistakes to slip past us. It’s hard work.

So when I see people have written and published their own work, I’m happy that they’re getting themselves out there, but I worry that they are doing themselves a disservice. Editing isn’t a luxury - it’s a necessity.

As far as the community goes, I see some inspirational collaboration happening. But writers are people of very large and very delicate egos. So there are the occasional petty squabbles. But to be completely honest, I see far more good coming from the writing community than bad.

Come back tomorrow for the rest...and until then, grab a copy of the eclectic Booked. Anthology!  



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