Friday, June 30, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Damon Alan

Damon Alan

Tell me about yourself, Damon?

I think it's funny when people ask about the author, but I always try to comply with the request. I used to be, in another life, an air traffic controller. That's a world of chaos, frantic efforts, and desperate solutions at times. When I retired from that, I wanted something “easier”. I thought, “Hell, I’m scientifically literate, well spoken, how about author?”

I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Conferences, classes, university courses... and that was just to get my writing up to par. On top of that there is a rather brutal on the job education for marketing, public relations, graphic design, networking, etc. I’ll be honest, I’m still learning.

I just completed my 6th novel, the 5th book in my space opera series, Dark Seas. I’m proud to say I followed rule #1 of being an author, which is write what you love. I love good sci-fi, space opera, and I love the characters I’ve created. I’m the father of three stunningly beautiful and intelligent daughters, so it was a no brainer for me that many of my main characters would be women. It’s even sort of the rule in my house, my wife is a hospital administrator, so she brings home the bacon now that I’m retired from ATC, and I write books. I also am a far better cook than she is, so I make her great dinners.

Honestly, I’m just some guy who loves science, technology, gadgets, and playing video games. I also happen to tell stories with complex and in-depth topics, which people seem to like. That makes me happy, because it’s the closest I’ve come to being the popular kid.

Last year I had a short story published in the American Mensa Annual Fiction Issue, which was amazing. The editor of the magazine wrote me after I submitted, telling me how much he loved the idea. As someone who normally is an indie author, that was a taste of validation. Thanks to that experience, I dove into my novels with renewed vigor. I really think indie publishing is the way to go, but it was nice to have proof that my writing was up to snuff for the traditional system.

I plan on being an author until I die, sort of like I’m a father, a husband... it’s just part of the fabric of Damon Alan.

Tell me about your current Book:

The first four books of the Dark Seas Series were about Sarah Dayson developing to become the woman who could save our species. In book 5, that process begins. For two centuries humanity has been fighting a losing battle against the Hive, an alien nanite based intelligence that inhabits and coopts human bodies for their own purposes. In the first four books she masters the skills of a star fleet commander. She learns that in war there are often terrible prices to pay, and sometimes it’s the innocent that pay. She’s learned that evil isn’t always just a monster you can shoot, sometimes it’s within the people you love the most.

In book 5 Sarah has befriended the unpredictable and powerful adepts of Nula Armana. They are the next evolutionary step of humanity, but as dangerous as they are they’re a fine alternative the Hive. With adept allies in tow, she begins the process of rebuilding her shattered fleet to fighting status. What she doesn’t count on is the ability of humanity to stand in our own way. In order to fight the Hive, she must first subdue the opportunistic evil of humanity itself and either convince the Komi Syndicate to work with her or take what she needs from them by force.
But for the first time Sarah has a plan to not only to save humanity, but to destroy our enemy. With the nexus of adept power by her side, she begins her campaign to save us all.

What are you working on now?

I tend to work on novels more than one at a time, so that as ideas arise they make their way to the book and are not forgotten. I’m working on book 6 in the Dark Seas series, and The Fall of Liberty, a sequel to a thriller I have on Amazon now called Serum. In Serum a pharmacology professor invents a cure for cancer and a mad few in our government try to kill him for it to protect their financial interests. In the sequel most of the heroes from book 1 are living in Israel and the USA goes after them in a big way.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

The only place I can seem to write is my office, my computer, my keyboard. I often get ideas in random places, but I text them to myself so I don’t forget them and wait until I get home. My office is a mess, my computer is starting to show wear from all the keystrokes... but it’s mine. And I love it.

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

That nothing is as simple as it seems. When I decided to write books, I thought I’d just sit down, hammer them out, and suddenly I’d be chauffeured around in a limousine. That, needless to say, is not how it works. The process of learning to write a book was several times harder than I expected, and the process of getting that book in the hands of readers is even harder. So now, as I prepare to release book 5, I’m already thinking of how I want to do it. It has to be in a way that puts the opportunity to buy it in front of the most people.

What is your favorite Website?

Wikipedia. I actually donate to them, because I use the site so much. It’s the default go-to when researching, whether for sci-fi or a thriller. While not a scholarly source, I have found Wikipedia to be a lot more accurate than the evening news, and we listen to those people. Plus if Wikipedia doesn’t have it, there probably is a wiki out there for the topic you want to research. Just go get it.



Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Quotes of the Week

Ideas are like rabbits. You get a couple and learn how to handle them, and pretty soon you have a dozen.
—John Steinbeck

Work every day. No matter what has happened the day or night before, get up and bite on the nail.
—Ernest Hemingway

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts.
—Anne Lamott

The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean.
—Robert Louis Stevenson

There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.
—J.K. Rowling

Anything that gets your blood raging is probably worth writing.
—Hunter Thompson

Maybe all one can do is hope to end up with the right regrets.
—Arthur Miller

Monday, June 26, 2017

Reading: In Ashes Born

Last week I continued my binge with In Ashes Born by Nathan Lowell.

Here is the description from Amazon:

An old friend. A new course
A deadly ship with a secret cargo.

Ishmael Wang returns to Port Newmar but ghosts from his past have followed him. His old shipmate, Phillip Carstairs, offers him the opportunity to track down the man who killed his lover. The catch? He must take command of the Chernyakova, a ship that still stinks of death and haunts Ishmael's nightmares.

Together, Phillip and Ismael begin a journey into unknown reaches of the Deep Dark to bring back the man who killed Greta.

--This is a great story I never want to end!

Friday, June 23, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Charles Freedom Long

Charles Freedom Long

Tell me about yourself?

I write because I cannot imagine not writing.
I write to challenge readers’ fixed ideas in a way that will make them consider other possibilities, particularly about sentience, free will, and life after death.

And much of what I write is about things that are not what they seem, but might be. Psionics, multi-sensory human beings, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, clairsentience, energy medicine, awareness and ongoing communication between the living and the dead as a fact of daily life, and how that might affect life and philosophy of a world.

I began writing poetry in grammar school. By the time I left college, I managed to see two poems published. Clearly, this was not an easy way to make a living. I did manage to support myself by working as a Technical Editor on the Apollo Project, and then, as a Research Assistant at NYU Medical Center’s Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine.

That led me back into school, graduate school, and into a series of cross-country, cross-border, overseas, and third world expatriate work and living adventures in Canada, England, West Africa, four states and two regions in the U.S.

I learned how much of what we assume is reality, and “the way things are,” is very different from what others assume. After all this travelling and living in foreign cultures, particularly the third world, I find science fiction is a natural place for me to write, since its boundaries of imagination are limitless. A recurrent theme in my writing is “It ain’t necessarily so.” This may be the part where I say I have one piece of paper that says I’m a psychologist, and another that says I’m a medium. I talk with dead people all the time. So writing about worlds where they participate is not so difficult for me.

Tell me about your current Book:

When the sentient moon-world, Alvar, tells Gar she is about to commit suicide by hurling herself into the gas giant she orbits, because a mutant conspiracy is about to turn her (the planet)into a fetid swamp and enslave her people, the Antal hive, Gar—a hybrid—must become Alvar’s Spear, the planetary savior. To make this meta-change, He must go off into the vild, where the feared Snow Wolves rule, and to the Forbidden Mountains from which no one has ever returned. If successful, he will save Alvar.

With only a small faction of Antal behind him, Gar must confront assassins, a traitor, the ruthless and power-hungry Noksun, who sees him as his only real obstruction to ruling the world. Gar enlists the help of the most brilliant geneticist in two galaxies, Mbali, a beautiful Terran who seems to oppose him at every turn.

But sentience may be more widespread than we think, the worlds of the living and the dead may interweave more than we know. Gar finds help in the absolute most unexpected quarter—but will it be enough to overcome Noksun’s organized military might?

What will Gar choose to do? The danger of creating a savior is he will be his own man. He will do what he will, and whether his acts are judged good or bad are of little consequence to him. Time is running out. What time reveals may not be to everyone’s liking.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on the prequel to the Seven Worlds Series. Where the characters in Dancing With The Dead and Alvar’s Spear have their origins, And the tales have their beginnings.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I have a red armchair in a room full of books, where I sit with a laptop pc, my three Maltese dogs, lots of coffee, and invite my friends from the other side of the veil called death to work with me as I write.

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

Hemingway’s statement: “There’s nothing to writing. You just sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” If you can’t say what you really mean, if you can’t tell the truth as you see it, even while you’re writing fiction that you hope will entertain your readers, then you’re bleeding for no damn good reason.

What is your favorite Website?

Probably NASA Images. I get ideas of where I might place a solar system, what kind of beings might live there, what they might think and feel and do from letting the images penetrate my inner consciousness.



Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Quotes of the Week

I don't try to guess what a million people will like. It's hard enough to know what I like.
—John Houston

Your intuition knows what to write, so get out of the way.
—Ray Bradbury

It's harder to write in the third person but the advantage is you move around better.
—Ernest Hemingway

The worst crime you can commit is telling the audience something they already know.
—Aaron Sorkin

I shall live badly if I do not write, and I shall write badly if I do not live.
Françoise Sagan

Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write 'very;' your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.
—Mark Twain

Writing is an occupation in which you have to keep proving your talent to those who have none.
—Jules Renard

It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer.
—Gerald Brenan

If history was taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.
—Rudyard Kipling

Monday, June 19, 2017

Reading: Trader's Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper

Ever have one of those weeks where you devour a series? Last week was one of those weeks for me. I was on a writing break as my next novel gets it's final polish.

I read five books in the Trader's Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series by Nathan Lowell. I love these books.

--I highly recommend these books. Great stuff.

Friday, June 16, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Dana King.

Dana King

Tell me about yourself, Dana?

I’m one of those guys you hear about who took twenty years to become an overnight success, except apparently night’s not quite over for me. I do have a couple of Shamus Award nominations for my Nick Forte private detective stories. (No wins, though. They’re only willing to bend their standards so much.) I’m lucky in that my day job pays well. This frees me up to write exactly what I want. I’m doubly lucky to find there is a (small) cadre of people who like that sort of thing, so here I am, still typing away.

Tell me about your current Book:

Fill in the blanks:  When five drug dealers are shotgunned to death, a small town cop must find out who and why, or else a drug war could erupt in a town that can barely get along as it is.

RESURRECTION MALL is the story of the efforts of a televangelist to start up a religious-themed shopping center in Penns River PA. Funds are hard to come by and dry up altogether after the execution of five local drug dealers in the mall’s food court. Detective Ben “Doc” Dougherty wants to clear this up before a full-blown war erupts, but no one steps up. Now he has to not only solve the crime but figure out why there’s an apparent vacuum left behind.

What are you working on now?

The working title is SMALL TOWN CRIME. It’s another in the series that includes RESURRECTION MALL. An escaped convict who plans to just pass through Penns River decides to stay when a mass shooting occurs in a local department store and he realizes the cops are too busy dealing with that to worry about a few armed robberies.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I do virtually all my writing in an extra bedroom I converted into an office at the back of my house. It looks out onto a woodsy area I find relaxing and frees up my mind.

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

Not to kid yourself: it IS a business, first, last, and always. That doesn’t mean it’s not also a lot of fun. The trick is to set your own definition of success, with reasonable expectations.

What is your favorite Website?

It’s either DKPittsburgh Sports—which covers all the Pittsburgh sports teams and is a critical resource for expatriates of The Burgh like me—or the Bill James Online site, which features articles and discussions on baseball. I’m a seamhead from way back.



Thursday, June 15, 2017

Signing Books!

Meet the Author!

On Saturday June 17, I will me signing books at McKay's in Manassas!

Where: McKay's Books.
8345 Sudley Road,
Manassas, VA 20109

When: Saturday June 17,
1pm to 4pm

Who: You and people like you!

Why: Because you need your summer vacation reading!

--See you there

Images that Inspire

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Quotes of the Week

I'm not a very good writer, but I'm an excellent rewriter.
—James Michener

I'm a writer and, therefore, automatically a suspicious character.
—Alfred Hitchcock

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever derived for sins committed in previous lives.
—James Joyce

Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
—Harper Lee

If you quit, then quit. If you can't quit, then you're a writer.
—R.A. Salvatore

You cannot swim for new horizons until you have courage to lose sight of the shore.
—William Faulkner

With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?
—Jules Verne

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Worlds Enough

Three of the authors in the Worlds Enough anthology were interviewed on the Three Horseman podcast!

We talked about the anthology, the creation of Tannhauser Press and other shenanigans!

--Give it a listen!

Monday, June 12, 2017

Reading: Quarter Share

This week I read Quarter Share by Nathan Lowell 

Series: Trader's Tales From The Golden Age Of The Solar Clipper - Volume 1

Here is the description from Amazon:

What if we sent freighters instead of frigates?
In a universe run by corporations, where profit matters more than life, how can an orphan with no skills, no money, and no prospects survive?When Ishmael Wang's mother dies in a senseless accident, he's given a choice. Leave the planet on his own or the company will remove him. To avoid deportation, Ishmael finds work as a mess deck attendant on an interstellar freighter.

Find out what Ishmael must do to earn his Quarter Share.

My friend Chris recommended this series to me last summer while we were camping. This year I even met Nathan Lowell at a Science fiction conference. He is a great guy, a gentleman and a scholar!

--Great series. Buy them now!

Friday, June 9, 2017

The Fast Friday Indie Interviews: David A. Tatum

David A. Tatum

Tell me about yourself, David?

I always struggle to answer questions like this.    I often try to make my bios on the funnier side, framing some of the real-life things about me in a more humorous context.  For example:  I was the president of a chapter of what was then called the Explorer Post, a co-ed young-adult "high adventure" organization under the auspices of the Boy Scouts.  We had an annual spelunking trip, some camping trips, etc.  In the bio you find on my Amazon page, I referred to this as "By the time (I) was in high school, (I) had joined a national organization dedicated to adventure and exploration... with the goal of using it to identify a route into the center of the Earth.  Unfortunately, the Suffolk, Virginia caves (I) explored were all dead ends." The truth, framed as humor.  But I figure I should take this one seriously.

I'm the son of a librarian father and a fashion designer mother.  My father was, at the time, a bibliographer who helped build and maintain the humanitarian book collection for Cornell University Libraries in Ithaca, New York.  My mother was making a name for herself by designing and overseeing the costumes for the Ithaca Opera Company's production of The Marriage of Figaro, Didos and Aeneas, and a few other productions), designing a suit and ball gown for a Nobel Prize laureate and his wife, and customizing special needs clothing for both men and women, in addition to designing more 'ordinary' clothing such as wedding and prom dresses.  She was just starting to build up her business, earning a small profit (but not enough for us to live on, alone), when a new administration at the Cornell library re-organized the department and my father's position was eliminated.  He received a tentative job offer from the Library of Congress, but that necessitated us moving down to DC.

After getting to DC, however, my father's job offer fell through.  My mother had to give up her fashion design business to take on a government job, then with the (now-defunct) Office of Technology Assessment.  She would continue to work for the government, with stints at the State Department and even the Central Intelligence Agency, until her retirement.  When she retired, my mother resumed working full time in fabric, but then as a fabric artist specializing in competition art quilts instead of fashion design.  She has since won several awards for her quilts, and still puts her quilts in competitions and shows today (an exhibit of her quilts is currently on display at G Street Fabrics in Rockville, Maryland).  Pepper Cory, a noted authority on quilting and quilt history, once said of her: "This is what happens when an original brain meets computer-interfaced quilting".  My mother (indeed my whole family) has always been very supportive of my career as a writer, and, in time, I'll be helping her publish several books of her own on art quilting.

My father would go on to work for NASA, taking a contractor's job that placed him in the Goddard Space Flight Center.  He also would team up with a native-speaking Croat to translate Croatian poetry for the Journal of Croation Studies through much of the 80s, resulting in several publications but little sustained income.  In a sense, this was my first exposure to the world of publishing, though a very specialized part of it.

My father was, in his time, a notable rare book collector.  When we left Ithaca, we lugged (and found places for) over ten thousand books down to Maryland with us.  This was AFTER making sizeable donations to several institutions.  Dad already had a sizeable collection at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville focusing on the history of the American Small Press, which was added to during the move.  By the time he died (in 2003), nearly five thousand items were in the George Marvin Tatum Collection in the Special Collections section of the University of Virginia in Charlottesville Library.  These donations never seemed to make a dent in our home collection, however, so I grew up literally surrounded by books.  We had an in-home research library that was superior to anything else I had access to before college.  I always found my school libraries and public libraries lacking, because they never seemed to match up to the resources we had at home.

Later in my father’s life, after some more contracting work and a period at George Mason University (as an acquisitions librarian), he took a part-time job working as an escort at the Central Intelligence Agency.  He would end his workdays volunteering to shelve books in the CIA library (in the Historical Intelligence Collection; as far as I know there was nothing classified in any part of the collection, but it was an impressive library). One of the CIA librarians recognized who he was, went to her boss, and pointed out "You have one of the most knowledgeable book men in the country shelving books.  Maybe we should offer him a job?"  He was, in fact, offered a job, where he would work until his death in 2003.
His job there gave me an opportunity for a summer clerical position at the CIA, myself, while I was in college.  Of course, I can't talk much about it, but... honestly, I wasn't that impressed.  It felt like any ordinary office job, except we weren't supposed to talk about certain things.  One of these days, I want to write a spy novel about some poor young office schlup working for the CIA who, because of the expectations set in movies, winds up involved in some sort of James Bond\Jason Bourne\Etc.-style adventure (similar in basic concept, I suppose, to The Man with One Red Shoe, but somewhat more informed).

My father died in my final year of college, just months before his retirement.  I was asked by the family to handle my father's massive book collection.  This included taking inventory, deciding on what books to keep, moving those to our new home, and organizing the proper sale and disposal of the remaining books.  The collection, at the time, was probably about fifteen to twenty thousand books in size.  I organized them for sale, and invited local booksellers to our old home so they could see the collection.  Some of them came by just because they knew my father and wanted to see the collection he had amassed over the years even though they had no intent on buying them.  A few hundred books (and other items) went to join the rest of the Marvin Tatum Collection in UVa-Charlotteville, another few hundred of particularly valuable rare books were auctioned off, and another six thousand (by their estimate; I think it was more, and they admitted they weren't counting some of the sets of reference books they believed were too outdated to sell) were purchased by a local bookseller.  Once that was done, I had to organize the family's remaining library (I'd estimate it came in a little under eight thousand books, total) in our new home -- a full time job that lasted several months.

For this period, I was effectively being supported by my father's estate.  As this project was drawing to a close, however, my mother came to me with a proposal:  She knew I had long wanted to write for a living, something my father always supported (and, though in a much different genre, wanted to do himself), and she was willing to support me while I tried to make that happen.

It was a much longer journey than either of us expected, however, with several fits and starts.  There were years lost due to medical reasons (a cancer scare for my mother; a congenital dental condition that could have been life-threatening for myself), and the attempts to go through traditional publishing were demoralizingly slow (I had a manuscript in one publisher's slush pile for over four years; it wasn't rejected, I just withdrew it), but then the self-publishing revolution happened.  I was a little reluctant, at first, but now I'm a strong advocate for self-publishing, and I've have had several successes with my novels.

Tell me about your current Book:

My most recent release, In Forgery Divided, is about a year old now.  It was the sequel to In Treachery Forged, my debut novel and part of (judging from the sales) my flagship series, the Law of Swords series.  I will warn you that it has Elves and Dwarves and Dragons; some people think those are played out, so I have another series (my novel, The Kitsune Stratagem, is the first and still the only one of that series) featuring Kitsune, Wulvers, and Bunyips instead.

The first book of the Law of Swords introduced us to the land of Svieda, where a former ally assassinated the king and begins an invasion.  Sword Prince Maelgyn, a powerful but inexperienced young man who is only half-trained in both swordsmanship and magic, travels across Svieda (ostensibly in secret) to reach his armies and prepare a counterstrike.  Along the way he accidentally gets married, forges unexpected alliances, and learns better the limits of his abilities.

The thing is, that first book was mostly about introducing the heroes, the rules of magic, and the basic situation our heroes find themselves in.  My magical system was complex (derived, partly, from a discussion of whether the "ki attacks" of martial arts legend might have been produced through the conscious manipulation of a persons natural bioelectromagnetic fields), and I had a large cast of heroes needing introductions.  And the war being fought is in its infancy.

But the villains… ah, everyone loves a good villain, and In Forgery Divided was written to introduce the villains.  A couple of the villains had brief introductions in In Treachery Forged, but here was where they were developed.

When Maelgyn brings his army back to the front lines, he uses his newfound power to stop the enemy advance… but his wife is captured, his cousin now on the throne has been behaving erratically, and a centuries-old intrigue led by the Elves might bring about the fall of his kingdom from within.

What are you working on now?

Well, I've got two ongoing projects at the moment (as well as several others sort of waiting in the wings).  The third book in the Law of Swords series is one of them; it's about half finished, based on the outline, but it's been idling for the last several months as I've pursued other projects.

I have another novel that would have been out a month ago; the first novel in a series of science fiction books (I'd judge it military sci-fi, but I might call it space opera just to be safe), The Merrimack Event, Book I of the Shieldclads series.  This book has been in the self-publishing equivalent of development hell for over two years, now, and the recent delay is only the latest in a long series of problems I've had with it.  I've had editors who vanished off the face of the Earth (or at least the internet), cover artists who never replied to my queries, sections of old drafts accidentally substituted in for new drafts, science fiction technology overtaken by real life technology, etc., etc.  The edits are FINALLY complete, though, and I had cover art commissioned… but the cover art came in, and it was unsatisfactory.  After a few attempts to correct the issues with the art, I ultimately rejected it and now need to start over on the cover art search.  *sigh*  I usually start marketing my books once I get the cover art, so the cover art coming in last is going to have me going through my process backwards for this one.

Oh, and there's my story coming out in the Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders anthology… but at this point that one is out of my hands.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

At home, I have an office set up in my bedroom.  I also have a laptop, which allows me to work on the back deck in good weather.  When I've got "writers block," however, I often find myself going to a little Japanese restaurant I know of for lunch.  I can set up my laptop and have a nice meal, and usually the atmosphere allows me to work through the block.  The waitresses know I'm a writer, and even that I've published a few books, and sometimes will offer encouragement.  There's a problem, however:  That restaurant is currently closed for expansion, and I'm not sure if I'll still be able to get the same effect from it when it re-opens.  Crossing my fingers!

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

"Favorite" is such a subjective term.  I mean, I'm a bit amused at certain concepts, like the idea that I'm too boring for social media marketing; I don't want to talk about politics, sports, or family life, and no-one is interested if you talk about writing all the time, so what's left?  Lately, because I try to keep a politically neutral public face, I got really fed up with all the political posts crossing my feed in Facebook.  I don't mind the occasional political post, but all the things I was interested in were being buried by political hysteria (on both sides, to be clear).  I started highlighting (from my Facebook feed) one post, per day, that has NOTHING to do with politics -- usually a cat video (or, well, not that many cats.  Usually otters, or hippos, or owls, or foxes...), though sometimes something a little more serious.  Sadly, there are days where I literally have NOTHING in my newsfeed (outside of those "boring" posts about writing) but politics, so I've been saving up posts from earlier in the week, just in case.  These have become some of my most popular posts, to my surprise.  Who knew all I had to do to get an audience was share silly animal videos?

But lessons about the business of writing?  I'd say the most shocking thing is how ignorant some other writers can be about the business of writing.   Perhaps because of my family background, I knew more about the business of writing when I was in elementary school, it seems, than a number of writers seem to understand today (I mean, ISBNs have nothing to do with copyrights, something which I've known for decades, but I was in the audience at a convention where a self-publishing "expert" was proudly explaining that using another company's free ISBN number gave them your copyright.  And no-one in the audience challenged him on this).  It's sadly easy to see how so many writers fall into scams.  You would think people who do the sort of research needed to write a good book would be able to research the business of writing well enough to avoid these pit falls, but sadly they don't even think to try.

What is your favorite Website?

Just one?  Yikes!  I've got plenty of favorites.  I have a love-hate feeling towards Wikipedia (it can be great if you want, say, a list of names of the mythological creatures of Serbia or something like that, but there are certain subjects that it just gets wrong or which are horribly "sanitized" to the point of uselessness. For example, any effort to explain the, ahem, controversial nature of Author Solutions Inc. gets immediately censored out).  I used to be a regular (lurker) on Baen's Bar, but then a few years ago they changed the web forum software and I was never able to log back in.  I may still have an account there, I don't know, but I gave up trying to access it a while back, and I understand I'm not the only one who left the Bar because of that software "upgrade." I used to really like the Writing Excuses podcast, but I feel it's gotten a little old and tired in recent seasons; the archives are still fascinating, however.  Before I started trying to write for publication, I invested a lot of both my reading and writing time in (you have to mine through a lot of dross to find the good stories, but there ARE good stories on there).  I like TV Tropes, but tend to avoid it because it keeps sucking me in and not letting me go.  Some websites I think of fondly are too specialized for everyday use -- Font Squirrel comes to mind, there.  Oh, and while I don't use it every day, I will say that -- as a writer of high fantasy, where I occasionally need to figure out how to handle medicine in a world without modern technology -- the guides to herbal and alternative medicine found on the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center website are astoundingly good reference material.

I could continue this all day.  I suppose, if I restricted it to the writing-related websites I visit daily, or near enough, I would mention the Passive Voice blog (for industry information from a self-publisher's perspective), Atlas Obscura (for research and brainstorming), and numerous webcomics (okay, these are more for entertainment than writing, but it could be interesting to examine the kind of writing you need to do to keep a long-running webcomic interesting.  Plus, you could consider it an audition or portfolio, in the right circumstances; I found my first cover artist from a web comic -- Alex Kolesar, of No Need For Bushido).

And that's it.  (Well, hardly... but I think those are the highlights of my writing-related favorites.  I'm certainly not going to go into websites I follow on cooking, or sports, or (eek! Stay away!) politics)


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Thursday, June 8, 2017

Images that Inspire

This image inspired my short story in the Whisper of the Apoc. Fun Stuff.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Quotes of the Week

I would advise anyone who aspires to a writing career that before developing his talent he would be wise to develop a thick hide
—Harper Lee

Respect your characters, even the minor ones. In art, as in life, everyone is the hero of their own particular story.
—Sarah Waters

I don't believe in writer's block or waiting for inspiration. If you're a writer, you sit down and write.
—Elmore Leonard

Never use a long word where a short one will do.
—George Orwell

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple,that's creativity.
—Charles Mingus

Starting a novel is opening a door on a misty landscape; u can see very little but u can smell the earth and feel the wind blowing

A story happens when two equally appealing forces, or characters, or ideas try to occupy the same place at the same time.
—Amy Hempel

Give me two hours a day of activity, and I'll take the other twenty-two in dreams.
—Salvador DalĂ­

Always get to the dialogue as soon as possible….Nothing puts the reader off more than a great slab of prose at the start.
—P.G. Wodehouse

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Branding

I will be releasing another novel is a couple weeks. In the last couple years I have learned a lot about writing and about marketing.

I discovered there is a thing called "Branding".

I was interested to learn that the term was in fact related to the age old practice of burning your logo, your brand, into the flesh of your books. Leaving a mark that was clearly your own. Now that I am a big old professional writer and such, I guess I need to step up my game.

Compare them to the old covers on the right. While you can at least. They will be updated as well when the new novel is released!

Signed copies of the new editions will be available at special prices.

--Coming soon to a novel near you.

Virtues of the Vicious

The final draft of my next novel was sent off to my editor on Sunday night. Finally.

After taking a day off I will be starting new projects! My favorite time!

I think I will knock out a couple short stories before diving into my next novel. A Zombie Apoc story first, then a Science Fiction crime story!

I also plan on doing updates on the Solstice 31 Saga. A new edition of each volume with new covers and small updates inside.

Lots to do.

Plus there are more anthologies that will be publishing more of my new short fiction.

--Good times!

Friday, June 2, 2017

Fast Friday Indie Interviews: Jo Zebedee

Tell me about yourself, Jo?

Jo Zebedee
I'm from Northern Ireland, near the notorious Belfast. I run after kids, work etc, and then, when no one is looking, I unleash my inner (very hidden) geek and write both science fiction and fantasy, generally quite dark. I doubt it's what people expect when they meet me at the school gates! I also cook, grow veg. Hell, I even make jam from time to time. But I don't clean. In fact, essentially eradicating cleaning time is how I manage to write (hygiene is overrated)

Tell me about your current Book:

Amy was five when she vanished during a family trip, only to be found hours later, clutching a golden acorn and claiming to have visited faeries. Now she’s eighteen, and the fairies are calling her back. While attending a wedding deep in the Antrim glens, the voices grow darker and their song takes hold. Not sure if she's mad or if the fairies are real, she flees, drawing well-meaning Simon into her fairy-fuelled road trip.

In it, the fairies are not the gentle variety, but the Irish sidhe, dark and malevolent. I had a lot of fun, drawing on mythology and making it feel very real and close to our world.

What are you working on now?
I'm working on another book about Ireland and mythology, this time set in Donegal and focusing on the Wild Hunt, when the fairy horde ride out. I've also written a sf based in Northern Ireland, Inish Carraig, so having a third book set in Ulster feels right. After that, I have plans for a much-promised sequel to Inish Carraig and, possibly, a fantasy duology. Oh and a sf novella and collection of short stories.

Clone me. Please.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I like plotting out in my cottage garden. I can't type out there but I love free writing. Other than that, I’ll write anywhere. Since I normally have kids running around (my daughter’s mate is currently cleaning out the gerbils beside me as I write this) and dogs, and fish, and work, I have to be pretty flexible and not too precious.

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

Learn the business. No one else is going to look after you as well as you will. Know your options, your rates, your expectations. Sure, learn to write, but learn what to do with it after you've written it.

What is your favorite Website? 

I hang around the a lot and found it a great support and help when I started out. And they have writing competitions. And I'm competitive...



Thursday, June 1, 2017

Call for Submissions: Whispers of the Apoc

Tannhauser Press is looking for the short stories for the WHISPERS of the APOC anthology.

Here is a set of common items all the submissions must include:

  • The stories will be set after the Zombie Apocalypse has occurred. It could be the day it hit or a year later. The stories are from various locations around the country.
  • No one knows why or how it happened. None of the stories will solve that mystery.
  • Anyone that dies for any reason will become a zombie. The dead will turn Two to Ten minutes after they die, even if they were not bit.
  • Zombies can only be killed with the destruction of the brain.
  • The zombies dry out and mummify the older they get.
  • Zombies hear and see and smell to find prey. It’s all they do. 
  • They will eat any mammal they can catch. Cats, dogs, rats, cows, horses, deer.
  • Zombies get slower the older they get. Fresh ones can run and fight hard. Old zombies are shamblers.
  • Zombie bites will not kill you outright. You die in 24 to 48 hours. Symptoms include sweating, extreme thirst, eventually fear of water (like rabies: Hydrophobia).
  • These stories should be character driven and about survival. 
  • Stories will take place in a variety of places: Urban, suburban and rural. Even desolate places. The focus is on survival.
  • Stories should be 5,000 to 20,000 words. 
  • Authors will be paid between $25 and $100 per story if accepted, with signed agreement.
  • All submissions are to be delivered in MSWord format. Basic Italics and Bold are the only additional formatting used. Garamond 12 will be used. Scene changes will be separated by “ *** ”.
  • WHISPERS of the APOC will be Rated R.
  • The target soft deadline for this is sometime in September 2017.
  • The amount of interest has already ensured they will be a Volume 2! So screw the deadline. Keep them coming!

UPDATE: We are doing a Volume 2! Keep Submitting!

--Please direct any questions to Martin Wilsey,

Images that Inspire