Friday, April 28, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Liz Long

Liz Long

Tell me about yourself, Liz?

Liz Long is a magazine writer and editor by day. By night, she writes about gifted circuses (Donovan Circus Series), scared superheroes (Heroes of Arcania trilogy), and teen Reapers who want to be alive again (A Reaper Made).

Tell me about your current Book:

When criminal mastermind Fortune murders her little sister, Nova Benson must learn how to use her Unbreakable gift to stop him, or else watch the city of Arcania crumble beneath his lightning-filled hands.

Comic book readers and fans of CW Network smash hits Arrow, and The Flash, and Netflix’s Daredevil will root for Liz Long’s bestselling YA summer series as the HoA’s gifted teen superheroes attempt to save their city from its impending demise.

What are you working on now?

I am currently writing the 5th and final book of the Donovan Circus series, as well as working on a YA dystopian novel that I hope to put out later this year.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My screened-in front porch with my dog Fisher by my side - complete with headphones, notepads and pens, and plenty of Skittles!

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Success doesn't happen overnight. Or even in a year. This business is truly a marathon, not a sprint. It's taken 5 years, 9 books, and a lot of time and energy to finally get where I am now - and I'm just getting started!

What is your favorite Website?

This sounds lame, but probably I love keeping up with all my TV and movie entertainment news!



Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Quotes of the week

We are all of us stars, and we deserve to twinkle.
—Marilyn Monroe

The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
—Arthur Miller

Let me live, love and say it in good sentences.
—Sylvia Plath

The best time for planning a book is while doing the dishes.
—Agatha Christie

Writing is like breathing, it’s possible to learn to do it well, but the point is to do it no matter what.
—Daphne Du Maurier

Read a lot. Reading really helps. Read anything you can get your hands on.
—J.K. Rowling

Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads.
—Erica Jong

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write.
—Ana├»s Nin

Play around. Dive into absurdity and write. Take chances. You will succeed if you are fearless of failure.
—Natalie Goldberg

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Editing

One of the skills an author needs is knowing his limitations.

With me, since I started writing, I have come to realize that I really suck at editing. I admit it. Spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes don't register with me. I think I have figured out why.

When I read I don't see words. I see images in my head. When I read the word "elephant" I don't see the word, I see an elephant in my head. It makes reading faster, more enjoyable, but it skips so much.

I just can't help it.

The errors have to be pretty bad for me to stub my toe on them. I have been trying to slow down and see the words more when I am in the editing phase. Using Gammarly helps.

The main take away for me is that it is really important to have help. A good editor on the team make a world of difference.

--Just as long as they don't laugh and point at me too much...

Monday, April 24, 2017

Book Signing: May 6th

I will be signing books at the Historic Old Town Manassas Reads book festival on May 6th, 2017!

I will be signing books along with several other local authors!

I will be in the Harris Pavilion.

Stop in to point and laugh!

Look for my fancy new banner before the wind sends it flying!

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Leighton Dean

Leighton Dean

Tell me about yourself, Leighton?

Let's see, I'm Welsh. But I can't play rugby, seriously. So what else is there?

I play games, probably too much. I’m currently juggling Civilization 6 with the launch of my book. I love reading & writing, anything really but technology plays a big part in most of my works so it lends itself to Science Fiction.

I'm also a cinephile, recently whittled down my VHS collection to the original Star Wars trilogy and the Omen trilogy. All in favor of DVDs which are now obsolete...

When not doing any of these I love to travel with my wife and work on our all important beer blog.

Tell me about your current Book:

When an undercover agent goes missing, his superior must enter an anarchist London to find the leader of the 'Free London' movement, before England invades it's own city.

In 2038 the Government rules from York after losing control of Southern England to anarchy. Now after 30 years of gangland law; Evan Bell has found an opportunity to unite the Kingdom.

Two days before his undercover agent is set to meet with the leader of the ‘Free London’ movement the agent goes missing, leaving Evan no option but to enter the city himself.

But when a Red Cross Transport is shot down it ignites hostilities between the city's gangs. His mission doomed, Evan finds hope in an unlikely ally; Bo, a 13 year old assassin.

Hidden within these pages is the algorithm for winning a national lottery. Guaranteed within four weeks play. Okay, this last part isn't true. But the book is fantastic.

What are you working on now?

My next book ‘Save Our Souls’, think ‘The Poseidon Adventure’ but in space.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

My study. Pacing between my desk and white board, listening to 65 Days of Static.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Finish what you start.

What is your favorite Website?

Den of Geek. Collider is a close second.



Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If I see an ending, I can work backward.
—Arthur Miller

Appealing workplaces are to be avoided. One wants a room with no view, so imagination can meet memory in the dark.
—Annie Dillard

What has always been at the heart of movie making was the value of the script.
—Douglas Fairbanks

Forget what you think about it and tell what you feel about it.
—Stephen Crane

Write as often as possible, not with the idea of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument.
—J.B. Priestley

The great writers can take us anywhere; but half the time they're taking us where we don't want to go.
—Martin Amis

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.
—Truman Capote

I never reread a text until I have finished the first draft. Otherwise it’s too discouraging.
—Gore Vidal

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Perfection is a Trap

No one will ever accuse me of writing perfect novels.

Today's tip is a caution. 

The pursuit of perfection will stand in the way of your efforts. This issue is one of the big ones that stops some writers from finishing anything. They constantly revise, wanting everything in the first draft to be perfect.

With this mindset, writers cripple themselves. It crippled me for decades. It can be a kind of self-sabotage.

The solution is not difficult:

Give yourself permission to be imperfect. Hammer though your first draft never looking back. Allow yourself to make typos, write a weak paragraph or slow section. Generate the raw materials that will allow you to return and shape what you have made into the best story it can be.

The pursuit of perfection can still cripple you even if you finish your first draft, second draft, third...

There comes a point when you have polished it enough.

Use beta readers and professional editors to take it far enough.

Then let it go.
Finish it.
Publish it.
Move to the next project.

It will never be perfect. And that's OK. Get used to it, because reviewers will let you know.

--Always know, if you got as far as publishing something you are farther ahead that 99%.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Reading: Dead Six

This week I read the book DEAD SIX by Larry Correia and Mike Kupari.

Here is the description from Amazon:

Michael Valentine, veteran and former member of an elite private military company, has been recruited by the government to conduct a secret counter-terror operation in the Persian Gulf nation of Zubara. The unit is called Dead Six. Their mission is to take the fight to the enemy and not get caught.

Lorenzo, assassin and thief extraordinaire, is being blackmailed by the world's most vicious crime lord. His team has to infiltrate the Zubaran terrorist network and pull off an impossible heist or his family will die. When Dead Six compromises his objective, Lorenzo has a new job: Find and kill Valentine.

As allegiances are betrayed and the nation descends into a bloody civil war, Lorenzo and Valentine must face off. Two men. Two missions. Only one will win.

--Great action adventure with excellent characters.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

How to Become a Professional Author

This may be the best, most direct, simple advice. That and, Finish Things!


Friday, April 14, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Heather Elizabeth King

Heather Elizabeth King

Tell me about yourself, Heather Elizabeth King!

I love books and I love scary stories. I inhale Stephen King. I also inhale indie author, Nicholas Sansbury Smith. He writes para-ops zombie books. Not very girly, but the books are fantastic. On TV I watch Supernatural, Stranger Things, and Midsomer Murders (which doesn’t have any monsters at all. Go figure). One of my favorite movies of all time is Poltergeist.

On the writing end of things, I started telling stories when I was a kid, at sleepovers. I’d make up stories and act them out for my friends. Eventually, a graduated to writing my first screenplay. I was about 12. And because I had a lot of time on my hands, I also wrote the soundtrack. I think it’s safe to say I was born to be a creative.

Tell me about your current Book.

Zoe Matthews, the Undead Ghost and the Demon is a supernatural mystery. Zoe is married to a lying, cheating, SOB. In my world, as happens to all lying, cheating, SOBs, he’s murdered. He shows up in Zoe’s bedroom as a ghost, trying to ask for help. When the daughter of a friend is charged with the murder, Zoe investigates.

When a serial philanderer is murdered, a somewhat saddened, estranged wife, Zoe Matthews, must find a killer, or else risk being haunted by the ghost of her cheating husband forever.

What do you do when the ghost of your murdered husband shows up in your house? If you’re Zoe Matthews, you don’t celebrate the fact that the philandering bastard is dead, you set out to find a killer and clear your name.
The list of suspects seems endless. Was it one of the nearly adolescent girls he’d been sleeping with behind Zoe’s back, a sinister friend who dabbles in black magic, a pair of clueless thugs on the hunt for a missing object they think Zoe has, a sexy and all too appealing celebrity artist new to town, or the stuffy town mayor?

Armed with her two best girlfriends, a ghost hunting sister, a meddling spirit who refuses to leave her loft, and plenty of tea, Zoe sets out to get to the bottom of Joe’s death. What she finds out on this journey into the supernatural leaves her changed forever.

What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the follow up to the first Zoe Matthews book. This one has been fun so far. Like in the first book, the reader won’t be able tell if the villain is human or supernatural.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I’m boring. I set up the front room in my house as a study. It has my small library or fiction and reference books, a big comfy chair to sit in, my treadmill, and my musical instruments. I guess it’s more of a creativity space than a study. The best thing is that the room a lot of windows. Lots and lots of windows.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?
To write the story the way it wants to be told. Never force anything to happen. If it doesn’t feel natural, remove it. I have a separate file where I put deleted sections from books. After all, you never know when something may fit a different book.

What is your favorite Website?

Netflix! Scary movies at my fingertips!!



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Quotes of the week.

Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.
—GK Chesterton

Keep a notebook. Travel with it, eat with it, sleep with it.
—Jack London

Create your own visual style... let it be unique to yourself and identifiable to others.
—Orson Welles

As a writer, you should not judge, you should understand.
—Ernest Hemingway

If you only write when inspired, you may be a fairly decent poet, but you'll never be a novelist.
—Neil Gaiman

Nothing teaches you as much about writing dialogue as listening to it.
—Judy Blume

The writing life is essentially one of solitary confinement—if you can't deal with this you needn't apply.
—Will Self

You can’t be a good writer without being a good thinker. This is a depressing thought for a writer.
—Andy Rooney

Just because you’re sick of your script doesn’t mean it’s finished.
—William M. Akers

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Self Promotion

I love the writing part of being an author. As difficult as that is, It's easy compared to the work associated with Self Promotion.

Self Promotion has several facets:

  • Social media (FB, Twitter, Web)
  • Blogging (You are reading my blog!)
  • Email lists (No Spam!)
  • Community (Lit conferences)
  • Book Signings (face to face)

Today I will talk about in person book signings.

They sound easy, show up with books and a pen? Right? It's a lot more than that if you want to be professional. Many of these tips are hard earned lessons that I want to save you from! Many of them are because you will have to sit there for four hours, chained to your table.

There are different kinds. Some are associated with Books Stores. People buy the books from the store then you sign them. Other times you must sell the books yourself. Be prepared for both. Know what it will be in advance.

Here is a list of the things I have learned to make my book signing events easy:
  • Pee before the event. Seriously, DO NOT FORGET.
  • Take some bottles of water. (snack bars too) 
  • $200 in $5s and $1s for change in a small cash box.
  • Be able to accept Credit Cards. I use SQUARE.
  • Get a little VISA/MASTERCARD sign.
  • Be willing to take checks.
  • Make sure you cell phone is fully charged and you have a backup battery.
  • Bring along more books than you think you'll need.
  • Lots of pens. I like sharpies.
  • Business cards with your email address.
  • Book stands. Because you want people to see them.
  • Book marks, ad cards, signage with QR Codes for direct access to Digital Editions.
  • QR Codes specifically for KindleUnlimited
  • Banners and signage. I have an 8 foot table banner. I plan on more because situations vary.
  • Freebies like candy, bookmarks, links to free online content.
  • A tablecloth. Makes everything nicer.
  • A bowl for collecting business cards for a chance at a free, signed, pre-release edition of your next novel.
  • A travel case to pack all of this stuff.

Most of the authors I know are Introverts with a capital "I". The most difficult thing for them to bring is a willingness to shake a lot of hands. Answer a lot of questions and simply chat happily with strangers.

You need to have a memorized one minute plot overview of each story. You will need to think of answers to questions like, "Does it have any romance?" or "Is this suitable for a 14 year old?" or "Is this violent?". I like to answer with the movie rating system. "These books are rated R. If your son likes the movie Terminator he'll love these."

Comparisons are a good thing to think about in advance. "This story is mash-up of The Martian and The Expanse!" You have to be excited about your stories. For real. Never bad-mouth your own books. Talk to the people. Introduce yourself. Find out what they like. Personalize the signatures. Make them fun. 

One last very important thing: Don't ever get discouraged if you don't sell any books.

--Every book signing should result in notes for how to make the next one better!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Read: Shades Children

This week I read Shade's Children by Garth Nix.

Here is the description from Amazon:

In a futuristic urban wasteland, evil Overlords have decreed that no child shall live a day past his fourteenth birthday. On that Sad Birthday, the child is the object of an obscene harvest resulting in the construction of a machinelike creature whose sole purpose is to kill.

The mysterious Shade -- once a man, but now more like the machines he fights -- recruits the few children fortunate enough to escape. With luck, cunning, and skill, four of Shade's children come closer than any to discovering the source of the Overlords' power -- and the key to their downfall. But the closer the children get, the more ruthless Shade seems to become ...

--I got this from my local library. This is the first in a series.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: JD Byrne

JD Byrne

Tell me about yourself?

By day I’m a lawyer. I do quite a bit of writing in that job, but it’s a very disciplined kind of thing. You can be creative with legal arguments (I’ve even won with a few of those), but you can’t massage facts. Particularly on appeal (where I do most of my work), the facts are what they are. You can’t do away with bad facts and you can’t make up good ones.

Somewhere along the line, I decided that I wanted to be able to make up facts. Not just facts, but people and words and worlds. I had always been a fan of science fiction and fantasy, so I decided to start writing it. I wanted to write something completely divorced from my workaday world.

I started with short stories, most of which are collected in The Last Ereph and Other Stories. See? There’s one of those made up words (an ereph is kind of like a priest, except not). My first novel, Moore Hollow, is about zombies (except not) - the remnants of a crooked politician’s reelection scheme deep in the West Virginia coal fields. The Water Road trilogy - which concludes March 22 with The Bay of Sins - is more of a traditional epic fantasy (except not).

I think my legal writing has made me a better writer of fiction, and my fiction writing has made me a better legal writer. Writing is writing and practice (as my clarinet teacher said way way ago) makes better. I plan on getting a lot more practice in over the years to come.

Tell me about your current Book:

The Bay of Sins comes out on March 22. It’s the final part of The Water Road trilogy (the other two parts came out last year). It’s an epic fantasy, but not the standard kind. There’s no magic, although the world is filled with “fantastic” things, like telepathy. There are no humans in it either. Oh, and it’s set in a world that’s roughly equivalent technologically to late 18th/early 19th century Europe, so it’s muskets and cannon instead of swords.

As The Bay of Sins begins the world has settled into an uneasy truce after a war led by Antrey Ranbren, a half-Neldathi half-Altrerian woman who discovered a terrible secret and unified the Neldathi clans in a search for justice. Things got a little out of hand and Antrey went into exile as part of the peace agreement. Now she’s being lured back into the fray, first by the ex-Sentinel Rurek as a means of securing her legacy, second by a group of rogue mind walkers who want their own revolution.

Interwoven with the story of Antrey’s return from exile are stories of assassination and political prosecutions as the world tries to make its way forward. In bombed out Innisport, the Altrerian woman who saw the city through its occupation and initial recovery, Mida, finds herself on trial for treason. Complicated as that is, Mida’s conscience is haunted by a Neldathi locked up with her because he wouldn’t fight against her people. All she wants is for life to get back to normal, but now that might not be possible.

Finally, the newly founded Neldathi city of Albandala has been the sight of a high-profile assassination. Hirrek, once one of Antrey’s closest advisors, has to figure out why a madman turned into a killer and, more importantly, if it was due to some outside influence. What Hirrek finds shows that perhaps the war isn’t as over as some people want it to be.

When a stranger shows up on her exile island, Antrey Ranbren must decide whether to risk the peace she sacrificed so much for, or else risk losing all the Neldathi gained during their bloody uprising.

What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working through a few short story ideas before I launch into my next novel. One story is about a guy who gets caught up in a kind of magical duel between a pair of wizards. Another is about someone who finds a wish granting machine in the oddest of places. I also have a talking animal story I’m going to pull out and polish for the “underground” anthology that was just announced.

As far as the next novel goes - right now I have so many ideas that I’m still sorting through things waiting for one to demand to be written. I’m leaning toward either a standalone sci-fi novel about a woman whose life in exile is turned upside down and she’s forced to confront her past or starting a steampunkish series about a collapsing empire and the chaos its causing to its world.

But then there’s the comic sci-fi about the dullard who gets the galaxy’s worst tattoo . . . and the potential trilogy about discovering the source of magic . . . and the book about an old, cynical champion brought out of retirement to defend one last innocent person. You get the idea!

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

In my studio at home. I have an open square setup, with one side given over to my writing computer and the other two filled up with synthesizers and other noise makers. It’s right by a window, so I can keep track on the neighborhood. It’s not “comfortable” (it’s a stand up desk), but that works to my advantage. It keeps me on task and makes the inevitable distractions easier to avoid.

I blogged about it a while back:

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

I don’t know if this is a “favorite” lesson, but maybe the most important is that producing books - which is not quite the same thing is writing - is a long process that can really be a slog at times. The actual writing, hopefully, will be a more inspired, slave to the muse kind of experience, but everything else can feel an awful lot like work. That’s particularly true for indie authors who have to format books and the like. It’s not always easy to make yourself do that kind of stuff, but the sooner that’s done and the book’s out there the sooner you can move on to the next one.

What is your favorite Website?

Prog Archives ( It’s a vast discography of progressive rock albums, all cataloged into different subgenres (which are debatable, to be honest, but that’s half the fun). Not only is it a great resource if I’m checking out a new band, but it’s the kind of place where I can go to look up one thing and wind up wasting a lot of time clicking around from one album or artist to another (sort of like Wikipedia).



Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Better to write for yourself and have no public, than to write for the public and have no self.
—Cyrill Connolly

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
—George RR Martin

A successful book is not made of what is in it, but what is left out of it.
  —Mark Twain

It is all very well for you to write simply, and the simpler the better.
—Ernest Hemingway

Don’t be dismayed by the opinions of editors, or critics. They are only the traffic cops of the arts.
 —Gene Fowler

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite — getting something down.
—Julia Cameron

Writing a book is like telling a joke and having to wait two years to know whether or not it was funny.
—Alain de Botton

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Short Stories

I love Calvin and Hobbs.

Calvin is so wrong here. If you wait for inspiration you will never publish anything.

The Muse is a lie.

Writing is work. It's about sitting down and doing it if you feel like it or not.

Short stories are a good tool for writers to tell their stories. They will help you polish your craft.

I like how short stories in writers groups help you. They teach authors how to efficiently develop characters and plots. They need to be lean. They are easier to review and analyze and collect feedback.

Anthologies are really popular right now. The way people read is changing. They want sometime short that they can read on a mobile device.

Short stories can be published to Kindle easily. This keeps authors active.

--Join anthologies. Write short pieces. Practice. Finish things. 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Call for Short Stories

Tannhauser Press is planning a new anthology:

      Whispers of the Apoc

This is an open call for a collection of Tales from the Zombie Apocalypse.

We are looking for stories with the following features:

  • 5,000 to 20,000 words
  • Stories about survival
  • Character driven stories
  • Setting in 2017
  • Various setting locations
  • Urban, suburban, rural, desolate
  • No previous experience required
  • $25 to $100 per story
  • More details available
  • Deadline is currently not set

If you are interested, a document with all the foundation additional details are available. 

Email me at and I will send you full info.