Saturday, September 29, 2012

Why Tara Hall should read this blog post

So, as promised, if I was fortunate enough to win the NEO word processor, then I would have a random drawing selected from all my donors. Now, I would like to note that the anonymous donor sent me a message requesting that he or she NOT be included in the drawing. Just one more selfless act by a wonderful human being. So, after gathering the names and throwing them in the hat, I am thrilled to announce that TARA HALL is the winner!

Tara, I need you to contact me via email so I can have an address to ship this wonderful prize. Again, I want to thank each and every single one of you for your support. I have a very strong belief in NaNoWriMo and the importance of the arts in a society that has seen funding of these sorts of programs plummet. I was blessed to attend a high school that had a nationally recognized theater arts program and a top notch English department with courses such as Gothic Lit (where we actually did a comparison of Poe versus the modern day slasher horror of Friday the a days, that teacher would probably be fired...THANK YOU DEAN JOHNSON!) and Fantasy Lit versus Shakespearean. Today, we are fortunate if the student can write a complete sentence without using texting language. (OMG IDK!)

All the support I received during NaNoWriMo brings me to another point: Friends. I have been blessed with some of the best. To say that my past has some smudges is like saying that the Exxon Valdiz had a little accident. I found out over the past decade who my real friends were, and have been blessed to make some great ones recently. It is very easy for people to find reasons to cut and run. However, I have found that those who stick by you no matter what are the ones that are worth a damn. Being a friend means standing through thick and thin. Sure, you may get a little mud on your shoes standing beside somebody, but don't we all want somebody to be there when our times are darkest? WHile taking on the world alone seems like a "Macho" is not ideal. Each of us has had times when we needed the shoulders of others to get us through. How many times have you looked around in times of need or dejection to discover an empty room? So would you willingly inflict that on another? You can call it "paying it forward" or "do unto others" but the bottom line is that we make ourselves better people by being there when those we CALL friends have a time of need. 

To those of you who have stood by and supported me, taken me for who I am now and not what you "think" you know about my past, know that you will have a loyal friend in me for life. To those of you who cut and run, it is your choice...but I have overcome every single obstacle set before me and achieved my goals. My latest goal is to become a best selling author. I will. And I will never forget my friends no matter how big I become (because failure is not an option, for me it is a question of "when" not "if"), but neither will I forget those who turned away. Petty? Perhaps. But at least it is honest.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Vinnie DeSporto has a few words to say to NFL fans.

Yo, Vinnie DeSporto here, so listen up. By now, I imagine the book readin' folks dat normally flutter around this page know better than to check in on Fridays. Why? Because I made arrangements with dis TW Brown person. Or close associates, the Gamoochie brothers have explained to Mister Brown the concepts of juts what it means exactly to be swimmin' wit da fishes. And not the ones in those sissy aquarium things he got sittin' on his desk.

First things first...I have not yet received my thank you cards from youse folks dat have been locking in to Vinnie's Picks. Two-and-OH Boy is it gettin' hot in here! Have I not explained to all of youse dat the Atlanta team will be winning the Big Game dis year? It was almost embarrassing to watch a geriatric Peyton Manning limp around in that orange jersey...but you should get used to it. He's done. This week, I present to you the Motor City Kitties. Yes, it will take more than a measly five point spread to make Minnesota competitive.

Now, on to my new feature...Pus Bag of da Week.

Tasty. Anyways...NFL Fans are Vinnie's Pus Bag of da Week. For three weeks, all I've heard is "Replacement referees dis, and unqualified to ref high school refs dat." Youse people make me sick. Year after year I am forced to listen to the whines and moans of irate callers with lives so miserable dat dey actually think calling in to those sports talk radio shows has any meaning. And every year I have to listen to people cry about how lousy the NFL refs are and dat dey rely on instant replay to do their jobs now. And while dat may have some act like bringing back these doctors and lawyers on Sunday who work the field wearing convict stripes will somehow make everything all better...I gots two words for ya. Puh Leaz!

Ask Raider fans about the Brady rule...or the Immaculate reception. Hell...ask the Raiders anything because if any team in da league knows about penalties...its da Raiders. Face it folks...Refs are bums. And now that this silly strike is'll be glad to see 'em back until they miss the first "obvious" call against your team. And for anybody who thinks da refs cost Green Bay the game? Pull out your Tivo. ALL THREE Green Bay scores came after phantom calls kept their drives alive after those Seachickens shut down the offense on third down...INCLUDING the only Packer touchdown that came as a result of a pass interference call against Seattle that had less contact between the defensive back and receiver then my girlfriend Estelle Scarpelli has with me after chili and pickled egg night. "But Vinnie," you whine through your wilted cheesehead, "what about the penalty against the Packer DB on the Seattle receiver?" Did you not see the handful of blue jersey clutched in the tiny fist of the Packer defensive player ALL THE WAY DOWN THE FIELD?

I rest my case. Anyways...Steppin' on toes from da Rose City, I'm Vinnie DeSporto, in your face.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rick Schiver, no holds barred.

Some of my best friends and I do not see eye-to-eye on a number of things. It is an easy thing to fill my blog with entries from people who I am "in sync" with on ideologies and such. I happen to respect Rick Schiver and his talent a great deal. His novel, Shadows of the Past, actually made me want to see what the fuss about Lovecraft is all about. For those of you who may disagree with some of Mr. Schiver's opinions, you are welcome to do so...respectfully. I do not hold comments for "moderation" because I believe in freedom of expression. All I ask is that it stay civil. Now, please welcome Mr. Rick Schiver.

What led you to writing?

I’ve always had a creative side. Growing up I imagined myself a movie director. Even went so far as to create a short creature feature about an alien space craft crash landing in the woods behind my house. There was no script. The spacecraft was aluminum foil wrapped around a wooden frame, (Don’t tell my mom) and the alien was my brother in some pretty lame make-up chasing me and my sister through the woods. Shot it on my Dad’s 8mm camera and used my allowance to have it developed. The night of the world premier the only audience was my mom and dad. But it was pretty cool to see something I created on the screen. Writing was a natural outgrowth of that desire. Add to that the fact I’ve been a voracious reader since I was seven, it’s only normal that after consuming well over three thousand books I would try my hand at writing.

What are some of the lessons you are learning early on that caught you off guard?

Writing is hard work. When I first started I thought it would be a piece of cake. Sit down, string together some sentences, and voila you have a story. Wrong answer. The most important thing I’ve learned is to write for yourself, but with your reader in mind. Write what you like to write, don’t try to follow the trends, and don’t worry one bit about what anyone thinks of your work.

The “contributor’s copy” anthology has been taking a beating in some of the social media circles lately. Where do you stand on the subject?

It’s a non issue for me as I’m more of a novel writer than a short story writer. For me short stories are few and far between.

I have never been a Lovecraft reader, but after your book Shadows of the Past, I guess I am going to break down and see what all the fuss is about. Give a newbie to that particular genre some pointers and some good titles to check out besides the obvious H.P Lovecraft choices.

First and foremost with reading Lovecraft, be patient. Take your time and slowly consume his work. Don’t rush through it or you’ll miss the goodies. Like Poe, Lovecraft’s words and ideas are to be savored. I’ve read his “At the Mountains of Madness” a number of times and each time I come away with some new understanding. He is a writer of the old tradition using what some would call flowery language, or purple prose.

For a new reader I’d suggest getting his complete works, all of his short stories in one volume from cthulhugirl on Amazon for only .99 cents. This is an amazing deal and she deserves the rewards for all the hard work she put into compiling the collection. With this you can sample a wider range of his work at your leisure.
Poe also wrote a story about ancient gods and a forbidden place at the South Pole titled. “The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym.” I only mention this as many believe that story inspired Lovecraft to write “At the Mountains of Madness.” To take this two steps further, John W Campbell, in the fifties wrote the short story “Who Goes there,” in response to Lovercraft’s work, to, as he said, show how a good horror story should be written. That story served as the inspiration for Hollywood’s fifties classic “The Thing,” that John Carpenter remade in the eighties.
Shadows of the Past takes the story one step further. In each of the above instances the alien artifacts never reach civilization until now.

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

In my opinion I don’t believe there is much traditional publishers can take from self published authors. I’m not a fan of the indie designation for writers who chose to self publish. There is nothing wrong with being a self published author, after all I’m one, but some writers carry that Indie designation as if it were justification, an excuse, to produce sub-par work and rush it to publication.

I know many will disagree with me, claiming that maybe traditional publishers should be a little more open to new writers, more willing to take a chance, quicker in their responses, faster to publication, freer with their money. They are first and foremost a business, and in business the bottom line matters. When a writer approaches a traditional publisher they should do so with the understanding that they are dealing with a business whose sole purpose is to make a profit. The writer is like a manufacturer offering a product to a retailer for sale to the reading public. Would you purchase a sub par product?

The biggest thing a self published author can take from traditional publishers is the amount of editing in grammar, punctuation, spelling, and story structure that goes into a work before it’s released. And before the comments overflow with examples of crappy editing from traditional publishers take a moment and compare the number of known mistakes with the volume of that publisher’s releases. We’re all human and we’re prone to make mistakes.

The goal of any writer should be to make their writing transparent. You want the reader to experience your work with the least amount of roadblocks and interruptions possible. For me as a writer the biggest compliment I can get from a reader is that the words vanished as they were reading. This is only accomplished by polishing your work.

I was in an online discussion with a younger writer who proudly proclaimed that he switched tense from past to present and back again in his work, on purpose, just to keep the readers on their toes. I attempted to explain to him how important it was for the writer to remove those roadblocks from the story but he insisted that his way was the best.

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

The rush to publication, and yes I’m guilty of this. Slow down, take your time, it’s not a race.
Poor editing. Edit edit edit, and edit again.

Freebies. Everywhere you turn there’s someone hawking their book “free for this weekend only,” Or bragging about their free ranking outpacing other well known authors. And again I’m guilty of this too. Lately I’ve taken a step back from freebies. After all why should I give away something I’ve worked so hard on? Unless it’s in exchange for an honest review.

Solutions? Slow down and don’t be so quick to give it away, and this bears repeating. Edit, edit, edit.

The social media is a place to connect with my readers and fans.

Share some information about your work with us:

I currently have my novel Shadows of the Past and two short stories that were published back in the mid-nineties. Bobo, and Music of the Gods, available.

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

Not really a question, but more a look like, you do what? Outside of my wife and a couple of people I know at work, no one else knows I’m a writer. When it comes to my personal life I’m a very private person. I know, not exactly the personality one would expect of a writer whose goal is to hit the bestsellers list. But ours is a solitary endeavor, for in the beginning there is but you,  the blank page, and a head full of ideas that usually refuse to translate properly to the page.

How do you deal with negative reviews?

I don’t worry about it. I understand that everyone is not going to be an instant fan of my work. No matter how brilliant your writing is, there is always going to be someone who doesn’t like what you’ve written for one reason or another. It is not a personal attack against the writer. Just the expression of one person’s opinion. One of my jobs when I got out of the military was selling Kirby vacuum cleaners door to door. Wanna grow a thick skin, go out day after day to have doors slammed in your face, and be verbally abused by potential customers. I supported a family for two years doing this. I’ve already heard the worst anyone can say about me, a bad review is a walk in the park.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I read every day. I should know this writer’s name but it escapes me at the moment, he said. “Never trust a writer who doesn’t read.” You have to be a reader first and always, and a writer second.

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

When you can’t have a conversation with someone without them promoting their latest work by working it into the conversation. Or when someone hijacks a thread about a totally unrelated subject just so they can promote their work.

What projects are you currently working on?

I’ve recently completed a novella “Enter Night,” that’s been submitted to Samhain publishing.
I’m currently fleshing out the sub-plots and editing my next novel tentatively titled, “Reprisal” After I get it back from my editor I’ll submit it to Samhain.
I’m working on the outline for Brethren which will be part two of the Shadows of the Past trilogy. This I will self publish.
Writing the first draft of my novel “The Gathering,” too early to tell what I’m going to do with this once it’s done.
Plotting my literary mainstream novel “A Yellow Ribbon,” about the first gulf war.
Plus a bunch of short stories in various stages of completion. I’m determined to eventually master the short form.

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

I’m a big softy. As I’ve aged I’ve become  more sentimental. A few weeks ago a guy I’ve only worked with for a few months died in a motorcycle accident, he was only twenty four, a good kid. I had to lock myself in my office for a couple of hours because every time I thought about what happened, how much of a waste his death was, and what his parents must be going through, I started crying.

Tell us a secret.

I sometimes play computer games when I’m supposed to be writing. Don’t tell my wife.

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

My Editor, Patricia Russo, she’s an accomplished speculative fiction writer with well over a hundred short stories published around the web and in print. She recently had a collection of her short stories released by Primvera press. The owner requested a collection of her short stories to be compiled into a book because she enjoyed her work.

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

I’m currently reading Blood Orchard by S.D Hintz and Myths of Gods by Leigh M. Lane, and rereading The King in Yellow.
Still in my TBR:
The Midnight Eye 1  William Meikle
All the Dark Places by J.W. Bouchard
Fear and Repulsion by Joshua Scribner
Unidentified by Billie Sue Mossiman
The Heritic by Jospeh Nassise
Shades of Green by Ian Woodhead
Winds of Change by Jason Brannon
Mystery Dance Three novels by Scott Nicholson


Shadows of the Past link:
Music of the Gods link:
Link to Shiny Thing:

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Jerry McKinney returns!

And today is just a bit more  Jerry W. McKinney . I shall return soon.

I am originally from Libertyville, Illinois, but I currently live in Central Florida.  I am married and we have an amazing 13 year old son.  As a “day” job, I am currently a truck driver for a local dairy.   I am proud to say that I have been a member of Mensa for the last 8 years.  I have held different jobs in the past, foreman for a construction crew, lead singer for a local cover band, and assistant manager for Wal-Mart, but nothing compares to seeing my writing in print.

I started my writing career about the beginning of 2010.  It all started with an idea.  I sat down at my computer and wrote a really short story, about 1700 words.  It was full of mistakes and grammatical errors, but it was good!  I posted it on a website and started getting great comments on it.  It was the original of my story, Feed.  Then, one day, while on Facebook, I was chatting on a horror story website and a lady named Laura Ehlers helped take me to the next step and introduced me to Key Publications group.  It was a place where writers help writers.  I met a lot of very talented people there, which to this day, are still very good friends.  They also publish my work for the first time.  I did two anthologies with them, but sadly they have dispersed and the books are now out of print.

I am currently working on my collection of short stories.  I want to get this out before starting my next endeavor.  One of the stories I am working on is a play on words, ICU, where the main character works in a hospital where he sees a serial killer torturing his victims.

At this point, I have written 13 stories and been part of 3 anthologies.  I am always working on my next idea for a story and am going to venture into writing a full length novel. I have decided the novel will be based upon a character from Feed. People seem to want to know more about her, so I’m obliged to make something up!

As for hobbies, I would love to say I engage in some extreme sport or something, but the truth is, I spend as much of my free time writing as I can.  I truly enjoy the process of creating.  My writing is my passion.

Thanks to Jerry for stepping in and spending some time. Tomorrow, I will be welcoming Rick Schiver. I am continually amazed at how fortunate I am to have the acquaintance of so many talented individuals.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

HP Mallory stays on my guilty pleasures list

Something Witchy This Way Comes (Jolie Wilkins, #5)Something Witchy This Way Comes by H.P. Mallory
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Once again, I am weighing in with the "guy's" opinion here. I found this to be the strongest offering of the series. Jolie did something that is, in y opinion, vital to making a series something special: She matured as a character. It can be very easy to simply write the character as a static creation that plows ahead with the same mindset in offering after offering. What makes this work is the same thing that works for Kim Harrison's characters...the character grows from life events just as a "real" person might.

This offering will satisfy most fans of the series with the events that unfold. I offer no spoilers here...that would be unfair to the fans who have invested their time in this wonderful series. What I will say is that H.P. Mallory provides closure while leaving enough here for a continuation.

If you have found this while searching for a quality read in the "paranormal romance" or "urban fantasy" category, then start at book one, Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble. You will be glad you did.

The talented Jerry McKinney in two parts.

Having read some of his stuff, it is my absolute pleasure to have Jerry McKinney step in for a day. Sit up, pay attention...and you...the one in the third row shooting spit balls...yes you Mister the principal's office. Now, please give a warm welcome to Mister Jerry McKinney...

Out There

First of all, I’d like to thank Todd for having me on his blog.  It certainly is an honor.  I was unsure about the topic of “Getting myself out there”.  I can promise you, I am definitely no expert and we all keep learning every day.  But then again, I have been proceeding along with my “career” in writing quite well, taking into consideration I probably spend actually about six hours a week writing.  Yes, I said writing.  With a full-time job working 12-14 hours a day, it really limits your ability to just sit down and pound out a novel; hell, even just a story.  And the rest of the time is divided into sleep and, err…Facebook.

Yes, the ultimate time-waster is also one of the best tools I can think of as an independent writer.  Promoting your work and yourself was never easier, if you get into the right groups.  Some frown upon “pimping” your work in their hallowed halls, but that’s their choice.  And guess what?  You can make your own.  Spend time in the established groups and comment on posts and be positive.  Always positive.  Invite people to your group and they will come.  And why not?  It doesn’t cost them anything.  Be pleasant and thank them for joining and try to keep a good base of people in the group.  Appoint some friends to administrate the group.  And most of all, post about yourself, your works and hell, even your friends’ work.  They always seem to reciprocate.  Spread those posts around, get them seen.  Get yourself seen.

One tale won’t make you rich.  Write, write, and write.  You can have the best reviews on the web on a book.  Then the reader moves on.  You need to try to keep a consistent flow of stories for the market.  Build that fan base, be remembered.  Which brings me to another point: don’t be remembered for poorly edited stories.  Sure, some reviewers will rant on about how they found a misplaced comma in a tale.  These aren’t the ones we are talking about; they read the story looking for errors and couldn’t possibly have enjoyed it to the fullest.  But the average person, who has a hard time finishing it because of the grammatical mistakes.  Proper editing is so important; I cannot stress this enough.

When Amazon started the KDP program last year, I dragged my heels.  I had a hard time removing my work from a market with mediocre sales and making it exclusive to one I was struggling in.  I understand that some authors did well with this program.  By the time I decided to try it, the market was glutted with freebies.  Kindle users were filling their memory card and going to the next.  Like I said, I heard it did well at first.

Nobody said it’s easy.  Every small victory must be followed by another.  I have invested in business cards for my website.  I sign the backs and leave them on bulletin boards and cafĂ© tables.  I send them to my friends around the country and even the world and ask them to do the same.  We must strive for success; it won’t look for us.

I’m going to leave with a short paragraph from my story “Feed”.  Actually, Todd didn’t care for this bit or preaching.  But I feel it does pertain…

“Walking the streets, I found myself looking into the faces of people.  I wondered how many were feeling hunger.  It is more than food; it’s also the need to dream.  Just as important.  You can always die if you choose it.  Others choose by living mundane lives…never dreaming…never reaching…never feeding their hunger.  So many blank faces, tilting back their beers and staring into space.  Perched on their barstools as a television drones out the daily sports scores that will not matter to anyone when they’re dead.  Were they dead already?  Never to taste the nectars of life or feel the sun upon their face?  I see more clearly now through the eyes of a demon the humanity we all should cherish.  Our precious time with each other is often the price we pay for our hunger, our need to…feed.”

And write.

Jerry W. McKinney

Return tomorrow for more from Jerry!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Artie Margrave kicks off my busy week.

Tons to do in preparation for next month. So, I will be stepping aside and asking some people to step in and introduce themselves to you. Play nice.

You have been at this for a little while now, what are some of the best and worst things about being an author?

Being an author has been like a dream come true for me. Though I’ve been writing, almost ceaselessly since before, I never saw myself as an author till January of this year when I published my first book, a novelette titled Hunted: Jake The Ripper. And I haven’t looked back since. Being an author is something I’ve always wanted to be, even though I have the expertise and IQ to be something else. Every letter I pen down, every string of words I make in a sentence, every sentence, paragraph, chapter brings satisfaction to my belly like having chilled soda under a tree in the Sahara. And every completed work brings extreme happiness and fulfilment. I’ve always considered authors sentinels of stories that the world gives limitless. And there’re tons of them waiting to be told. It’s like a privilege when I think of people that have done the world proud in that aspect. Too, the reactions have also been pleasant and encouraging. They make my writing worth it.
I guess the only really bad thing about being an author is that many people don’t take writing as a—vocation to be proud of, at least in my own part of the world. I hope worldwide agrees to this point. But then, football is another vocation that parents would be happy for their wards to be a part of—and what’s football other than people kicking roundly fashioned leather around? The thing is people love it. I love it too. But I find reading and writing more worthwhile and even less stressful.
Due to that, there’s the inadequate supply of support for authors (but thanks to www, I think things have gotten way better).
Also, there’s the tension I get after publishing a book, even though I know it is good enough to be valued. You always hope you’ve written a good book, especially if you’re self-publishing it.

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

First, it was the exposure. When I published my first book, I was swept away by the amount of downloads I received in a week and then the week after that. If you’re a new author, not previously heard of, very few readers are likely to check your books out. It was encouraging though I got my first review a month after, and then some.
Also, I was unprepared for the hunger of readers and I had to be on my hands so that I could satisfy them the best I could. There are so many, virtually about 70-something % of hungry readers out there and not enough authors to accommodate them, satiate them.
If there’s anything I’ve learned, it’s that I have to keep writing, keep writing and to be prepared.

What can you share about your writing process with new or up and coming writers?

Create, plan, take notes, fashion your story, write, write, write. It’s all about creating an idea and developing it to a rich finish. Just like sculpting. Like I said before, the world doesn’t run out of stories, fiction and non-fiction alike. The moment an idea for a book ‘lightbulbs’ in my head, I use whatever I have on hand (pencil, pen, phone’s notepad, a scrap of paper) to put it down so it doesn’t recede from my mind. Then the moment the opportunity presents itself I write and write. That’s the primary focus there—just keep writing. Then I do research where needed and use the knowledge obtained to embellish my book, give it more suitable substance. I also lookup writing tips based on the nature of what I’m working on. When I’m done I read my book over, twice, and I also give a close friend to read before finally publishing it. And after that comes marketing—the most important aspect and believe me, it’s important for every work you do, even the free ones.
Currently, Smashwords does a fantastic job of getting my books to a wide coverage of readers and helps me worry less but if you want something done properly, you have to do it yourself.

If you were to up and change genres, what would be your next choice?

I write horror and if I was to change genres, it most certainly would be fantasy. It’s the only other genre I prefer to read to sf and adventure. I just love the rich imaginations fantasy writers dream up when creating fantastic worlds; the lands, the fascinating creatures, the epic and magic; the character names are just delicious. I always feel enthralled when I hear names as Baggins, Dumbledore, Hogwarts, Galadriel, and so on. It’s just pleasant. Like a golden light to my usually dark and twisted thoughts; the Yin to my Yang. Of course, there has to be balance.

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

Traditional publishing should try and see every written work as special and not attach any more importance to big name written books than to books from up and coming writers. A bestseller can come from any hand and with self-publishing now taking the centre stage of book publishing, they might’ve to step up the game to keep themselves in reckoning and contention. Even now, many indie authors are taking to online publishing to reach a wider range of readers. Of course, the world is becoming more digitalized and they should make use of this avenue effectively.
An advantage of traditional publishing is that there’s an editor who proofreads, edits a work to readable taste for the readers. So far, so bad, I’ve read many self-published books in which the grammar is just unacceptable and the spelling errors are just too pronounced than the wrinkles on the belly of a centenarian. Authors who practice in self-publishing should strive to make their writing more suitable to the public. It’s, to me, the one edge that traditional publishing has over Indie that the reader will feel more inclined to put his money on. Paying for what’s worth.

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

Probably a lot, but at the moment, one takes the whole of my mind. Poor book structure. I’ve read books by indie authors that has left me disappointed and disgusted. Many of them couldn’t even pass as an eBook. They didn’t start with any real titles, was improperly formatted, was riddled with errors aplenty, grammatical, spelling, punctuation and paragraphing, you name. Sometimes it was difficult to decide if they were books or stuff from third graders learning to use the word processor. And we indie authors are all ambassadors to one another, so if a reader finds these irritating mischances within a book written and published by an indie author, I wouldn’t be wrong to put it past them to expect to find the same, at least similar occurrences within other self-published books by other indie authors; which means a defamation on the rest of these other serious, talented and hardworking individuals. This problem is committed usually by up and coming writers. It’s wise to advice that if you’re new in the publishing industry (and this goes to the older ones too) and you’re unsure about your work, have an editor, at least a honest friend that can help to detect these errors and enrich you with more vivid ideas on improving the quality of your book.
And everyone’s going to be happy and satisfied.
Then, yes! Now this one comes to mind. The other day I was looking through a book’s reviews on (all of them were negative reviews too, and some reviews weren’t even followed up with ratings) and took note of the reviewers. If you scroll towards the bottom of the page there’re the reviews given by that author to other works and I stumbled upon the review of a book by an author who’d given a negative review to the former’s work. The former had also given a negative review to the latter’s work in retaliation where the latter’s book was actually quite good and was generating acceptable responses and ratings. There shouldn’t be any beef if a fellow author says our work isn’t good enough. It’s just an advice, one we need to look into, one we need to learn from.

The social media is…

The social media is like ‘a net’ on the ‘net’. It’s a fantastic place to get, not only with family and friends, but the readers as well. It’s also a huge opportunity to advertise your books, market them. And it allows easy feedback from your readers in terms of reviews and ratings.
As a reader, it gives me the opportunity to know the trend, the latest books out there and quality.
As an author, it’s a big marketing tool; as a reader, it’s a big market, for buying and Windows-shopping.

Share some information about your work with us: (feel free to be as in depth as you like)
I write horror. I just love the genre, the extreme dark and grisliness. The slashing and tearing and brain-harvesting. As an author, I’ve published 5 works: a novelette, a novella and short stories. But like I said, I’ve been writing before then a blend of fantasy and horror.

My first work was a novelette titled: Hunted: Jake the Ripper. I was proud of that book, loved it totally. It was about a hunted vampire, the last one of its breed, and the strides it took to achieve redemption. It gave me my first review on Barnes & Noble. You’ll find it on Smashwords and other book retail outlets online, save Amazon.

My second work was a novella: The Curse in the Chest. A rural fisherman, Moses Royston, tired of and disinterested in life, stumbles upon a heavily jewelled chest in a part of the river that he fishes, that just shouldn’t be there and against his psyche’s warnings, he lifts it out of the water and brings it to his home, to the shed in his backyard. He believes it to be the solution to his miserable and misfortunate life and opens it to be subsequently possessed by an ancient demon, devourer of wills. And the demon seeks to make a mother of The Many from his daughter, a pure one. But help also appears on the way when a journeying exorcist is supernaturally directed to stop this menace. It was a good book too.

Probably the best I’ve written is the last I published: Ready... and Action!! A group of individuals decide to carve exploits for themselves by going out of sanctuary zone into the undead world to film a reality movie. Only one returns, the one not overly expected to make it. I got my best review ever from Michelle Callaghan of I’ve written two other good ones too: Body Parts for Hire and The Burnt Refuge.

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

“Are you writing?”
I get this question anytime I’m outside, writing (not advisable, fellow writers) and someone I know comes over and checks what I’m writing, looks at it, interrupts and holds me back, flips a few pages back and forth curiously.
Dumb question, which I usually reply with a dumb answer as well. “No, I’m just painting words on this paper to see if they work.”
But surprisingly, some reply, “God, that’s cool.”

How do you deal with negative reviews?

Nobody is above mistakes. Remember Einstein. For every written work, there’s always an avenue to develop and the writer doesn’t easily see this until a reader points it out to him. I view negative reviews as a platform for me to better my next work, fix what was wrong with my writing and make sure my next work comes off good. I support the motion that the customer (the reader in this case) is always right. They say something is wrong with my writing, so it is. And I’m always grateful for them. I look forward to them as much as I look forward to the positive ones. Positive ones encourage me; negative ones develop me. Putting them in balance and using them to your benefits is the pathway to being an understanding, successful author.
Although, I have to add that some reader reviews are quite abusive. Viewed a couple of them on works by other authors.

How much reading do you get in, and can a writer excel at his or her craft if they do not read?

I read a lot, practically every day, even more than I write. And no, a writer cannot excel at writing if he does not read. I read whenever I get the chance to. When I’m on a novel, I set a target of at least a hundred pages per day everyday until completion, and after I’m on the next in line. It doesn’t only help in improving my knowledge on facts, words, diction and gives me ideas, but it’s also good for the health—a proven fact. It’s refreshing and dismounts pressure.

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

When I do too much, especially for my free works, when I have a filled shelf of unpublished works praying with fervency to be unleashed. If you’re a good writer, if your works are good and easily acceptable, why, your readers will be your automatic marketers; they might spread word of your books even faster than a traditional publishing company’s wide network. (Remember, social networking).

What projects are you currently working on?

A lot. In fact it’s making me look like I’m trying to do too much, accomplishing little. I was working on a novel earlier in the year, an undead novel titled When Demons Bite but I haven’t gotten around to finishing it. And there’s another one, Strangers which is a pentalogy. The first, that I’m also working on, is Genesis.

But at the moment I’m on a novelette titled Unexpected Repercussions which is going to be one of the books in an anthology Tales from the Graveyard: 8 Creepy tales from the dark side of life. I’ve drafted other books in explicit details in this anthology: How to rob a corpse; The easiest way to survive the undead; A grave for the unburied; The darkness within and; Payment of the Field Guard.

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

I’ll be 22 this October, I have polio on my right leg so I’m disabled, for a present lack of a more encouraging word and my house and I appear in any of my books that have houses in them, save Body Parts For Hire.
And I’m yet to read Fifty Shades.

If you could team up with another Indie writer…who would it be and how would you work? (Alternating chapters, total co-op, etc.)
Oh yeah, there’re two actually that I would love, that I’m dying, to be given a glorious opportunity to work with: a male and a female author.
Male: Joshua Scribner. Remove Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Chris Pike from the list. R. L. Stine too and Joshua Scribner would be my favourite, most read author. His writing are always entrancing, his lettering attractive and fast-paced. But I notice I’m not as fast as he is so I would prefer alternating sections and chapters, the type where the story is coming from two faces or from two (or more) unacquainted characters to meet somewhere in the middle and the sort.
Female: Mary Ann Loesch. I got an opportunity to read her novel Bayou Myth and I was impressed with its overall presentation. Her writing’s easy on the eye, fluent. And she’s a budding writer, I think. This means that we can exchange ideas and learn a lot from one another. Co-op would be cool.
There are also Lori R. Lopez and Bruce Clothier too but I would sooner be giving too many dream team-ups next. But their works are a joy to read, that’s for true.
They all write in the horror genre.

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

IRMA WHEELER! She’s usually the first reviewer of any of my works, but she hasn’t been around castigating me yet, which means I’ve been doing very well. And I’m happy having her around. She has been instrumental, really instrumental in making me pleased with my writing and she’s my beacon of encouragement. Sadly, I’m yet to dedicate any of my works to her, but that’s just a matter of time and writing.

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

Umm... how do I go about this? Ok.
eBooks: A couple of Stephen King’s (Under the dome, It, etc), The Death Gate Cycle series by Margaret Weis, Tracy Hickman (a heptalogy. I’m through with the first two—Dragon Wing and Elven Star and I’m currently reading Fire Sea), Blessings of a curse by W. E. Clarke, Chosen by Jolea Harrison, Amanda Ackers and the deep forest elves by Glenn and Sasha Gabriel... it’s going to be a long list if I am to keep listing them.
Paperbacks: A couple of Nora Roberts. I’ve exhausted the Dean Koontz I have as well as Weis and Hickman.

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

A few words about anthologies.

I guess it was bound to happen. When May December Publications started, it was with the release of my own title, Zomblog. Shortly after, we wanted to produce an anthology. It was mostly done out of frustration. After being rejected for a (now defunct) Indie's anthology and then seeing a person post in that "publisher's" forum that she hadn't gotten her story in by the deadline and the "editor" told that person to just send it in and not to worry, she was in, I was "unhappy". (All words in quotes are dripping with sarcasm in case you needed clarification of my tone.)

I have no problem being rejected. Every writer gets told "no" in his or her life. It is part of the business. But to accept a person's story based solely on a personal relationship is a discredit to the reader. You aren't selecting the best. You are filling the pages with your friends. I am not equating that to "invitation" anthologies (a subject I COULD easily place on a tee and shank into the rough, but I will save that for a later date) which usually consist of a publisher placing a call out to "established" (no sarcasm, just a matter of varying opinion) authors to contribute. Those usually work because the authors being invited bring their own reader base to the party. These let people get exposed to names they might not be familiar while still getting a fix from their fave. What I have a problem with is anybody accepting a story sight unseen or accepting a story simply because of "knowing" the author. I have to admit, I have written a few shorts that DO NOT deserve to see the light of day. Now, when I first penned them, I thought they were golden. However, after further review...they were lame.

Recently, MDP has been afforded the luxury of offering more than just a contributor's copy for some of our anthologies. Some give a flat rate, others offer a sales percentage to be divided between the contributors. What many people who do not PRODUCE anthologies fail to realize is that they are not cash cows. More like a dripping faucet. Over time, they can earn their keep, but they are time consuming and expensive for a publisher even if "ALL" they offer in compensation is a contributor's copy. However, with this new development at MDP, I have found that, while our submissions are WAY up...the quality has not changed much. And in some ways, seems to have slid as we get inundated with people who blanket the market with submissions (often while completely IGNORING the submission requirements).

Now, to be fair, I have been blessed to read some exceptional submissions when we were strictly a contributor's copy pub. I will admit that I have some favorites. I have one anthology that I am most proud of, I even have one that I feel was some of my shoddiest work as an editor. (And no, I will not divulge which is which.) What I will say is that now that we have carved out a tiny niche in the market and more people have become aware, I have to wade through four or five stories to find one that I like and am willing to PAY for. This is coming on the heels of my final selections for our second installment of Midnight Movie Creature Feature. The first one was like a perfect storm. In fact the selection process was so difficult that we ended up with 18 stories instead of the planned 13. The writers "got it." The stories were quirky, fun, and so damn unique. Seriously...I defy you to find a better anthology. (Yeah, I may be letting the cat out of the bag about my fave...) Revenge of the Zombie Pussy Eaters. Need I say more. Okay...Spine-Tingling Tale of the Crystal Golem. I am guessing that very few people who submitted to the second edition read the first. Now I realize that taste is subjective, but I will go on record as saying that I almost cancelled MMCF 2. Fortunately, there were some real quality stories in the 11th hour.

This brings me to the real point. I think that there is a certain magic about writers who pen stories for love versus money. I get that nobody wants to work for free. I could go on for hours about the value behind being in a contributor's copy anthology versus one that pays a few bucks. But I look at some of the authors I have had the pleasure of meeting and working with in our anthologies and actually regret offering up money. Say what you will, but the writers sending me stories "just to get exposure" are some of the best work I've ever read. We will continue to do an annual "first timers" anthology each year to give unknowns a shot at being noticed. We will continue to offer up an annual all-for-charity anthology (The Sick and the Dead is this year's and ALL proceeds will go to The V Foundation.) Also, we will produce one or two more each year, but the era of 8-10 a year are done. It is bittersweet.

I will continue to have EVERY story submitted for consideration stripped of all personal information about the author to keep my bias removed from the selection process. I still think that should be a rule. Editor's who make excuses about selecting familiar names as "part of the business" are lazy and should go into something like event planning where a "friends" list has its place.