Words with Matthew Moses, Author of "Proxies of Fate"

Hello Matthew, you're a bit of an enigma. I found a link to your novel "Proxies of Fate" on your Facebook page eventually, but it was kind of well-hidden why all the secrecy?

I’m a total novice when it comes to Facebook. If the link is buried blame it on my being internet illiterate. LOL.

Is the entire novel available on your web page?

Only the first six chapters are available online.

Who is the publisher?

I got the impression that this is a "golden era" of sci-fi type tale. Can you tell us a bit about it?

The story is true pulp. Set in the tumultuous 1930s, as the world seems on the verge of imminent collapse, two god-like heroes appear who alter history in their attempts to save the world, blessed with these powers by two mysterious alien species hovering over the Earth. There is Chris Donner, the Okie Angel, who inspires America through his selfless actions, and there is Li Chen, the Dragon King, who attempts to drive Japan from China and save his people from Imperial oppression. Both men attempt to lead the world out of darkness and nearly lose themselves to it.

The two men are archetypes for the time period and exist at opposite ends of the spectrum allowing the audience a window into this world from varying perspectives. Donner is a disillusioned veteran of WWI who struggles to survive in the Dust Bowl. Li Chen is an idealistic Manchurian peasant boy whose dreams tend to get him in trouble.

The most interesting facet of this story is the motivation and outcome of both men’s stories. There is no true hero or villain. Donner and Li Chen begin, roughly, with the similar intentions. Granted great power by mysterious forces, they use their abilities toward the same end, to help humanity. But their actions have radically different implications and those implications serve to change both men and the world around them. Gradually they meet in the middle, both psychologically and physically, and their story concludes in the ruins of Tokyo for the fate, and soul, of humanity.

I had a great deal of fun weaving their tale into actual history, allowing both men to interact with important figures of their time including Puyi, the last emperor of China, FDR, Howard Hughes, and numerous others.

This story, in radically different forms, has been in my head since I was twelve. Loving comic books, I sketched out this story of an all powerful figure come to save the world. It was really barebones and cliché with costumes (cringe), stilted dialogue, and odd villains.

For some reason, I could never let go of the story. Something about it always drew me back. As I grew up, the character and story changed, both in motivation and approach. The comic book trappings receded and the time period shifted from modern day to the Depression.

Two years ago I finally sat down and wrote a comic script. The original script was much more messianic, which I am happy I lost forcing me to rewrite and alter key elements in the story, including the origin.

Eventually I decided it was simply too big a story for the comic book format and decided to write it as a novel.

The main inspiration for this book is modern times. Proxies of Fate is a story about redemption and hope. That is the main reason I wrote it, to find answers and inspire a little bit of hope in what many believe is a hopeless world. We are seemingly back in the 1930s with the rise of extremism, the collapse of the economy, and an ever present fear of tomorrow. In this day and age, America could use something uplifting to turn their heads to a brighter tomorrow.

What's your background with writing?

I started writing at six, entering numerous contests growing up and winning several competitions. In college, I had a column in the school paper, “The Militant Mormon,” and put together an anthology for campus publication. From there, I wrote four novels of which two have been published, a slew of short stories, and a screenplay.

Anti-Christ was my first novel and a satire on organized religion. It can be quite obscene and crass featuring a vegetative God, a fascist Jesus, and worse, though it still has my fave ending, the final battle being a four way dance between the US Army, angels, demons, and zombies.

And Divergence 1931?  It seems you have a plethora of blogs.

Having a minor in history, loving alternate history, and being thoroughly obsessed with WWII, I decided to write an alternate history of WWII with FDR and Churchill dying prior to Hitler’s rise to power. I had intended to write the timeline all the way up to the present day but by the 1980s I thought the timeline had largely run its course.

Up until now, what's your greatest achievement as a writer?

Having a thesis published in an academic journal. The subject dealt with the difficulties of immigrants assimilating into American culture. It proved a tad controversial with some faculty.

What current shows, artists, writers, do you find yourself following?

I absolutely love Dexter and was blown away by Kick Ass, being the unabashed fanboy that I am. I’m also a fan of Mark Millar, Brian Michael Bendis, and of course the classics, Howard and Lovecraft.

Anything else that we should know about you?

I’m currently working on the final draft of a Lovecraftian horror novel, Drawn to the Abyss. Hopefully I’ll have it finished by the end of the year.

Words with Ryan Miller, Author of "Wizard of the Fiery Crescent"

Ryan Miller is the author of "Wizard of the Fiery Crescent," which will be released in the summer of 2010.

Hello Ryan! It says on your Facebook Group page (Monkey Moon Press) that your book is being self-published. So what is Monkey Moon Press? 

Monkey Moon Press is a self-publishing company I’m developing for my book releases. There is a website in development, where my book(s) can be promoted/purchased. The term “Monkey Moon” is what my kids and I have always called a crescent moon in the night sky; looks like a big banana.

Tell us a little bit about "Wizard of the Fiery Crescent" 

My first book, which is the first of a 3 book series, stands alone as its own complete story/adventure. The book tells the story of how a very well-known wizard from history received his powers, as well as the special circumstances which motivated him. There are a couple of major twists in the story, including a holiday twist.

It says on the cover that this is Book one of the Crossroads of En'dellen Series. Have you already completed the second volume? 

No, I’ve not completed the second volume, yet, which is called “The Goblins Gloom,” but I’m several chapters into it and it is going very smoothly. I’m writing 2 other series at the same time, but I should be done with book 2 in this series by the end of this year.

Are you going with a POD or are you doing a print run? 

I’m publishing through a company called Createspace, which is POD. The price per book is VERY low, which allows me to sell the book at an extremely reasonable price when it’s released (in late may/early June).

Did you hire an editing service? 

Fortunately, I have an editor in the family, who did a fantastic FREE edit for me. The price was right.

What's your background with writing? 

No background in writing whatsoever, to be honest. I was a published cartoonist for several years in daily newspapers, but not a writer. In fact, I was 29 years old before I read my first fiction book! I read only science/philosophy/biology books, prior; non-fiction.

Breaking into the market with a self-published book is pretty difficult, what's your marketing strategy?

Well, that is true, it is difficult, so I’ve had to get creative. For example, I have been contacting superintendents from large school systems and proposing donating $1.50 per book sold within each school system back to the schools. In return, I ask to be allowed to market my book for free, such as ads in football/basketball programs/posters in schools/book marks with orders info handed out through school libraries, etc. So far, 3 school systems look to be on board. I also have a large video rental chain willing to sell my books and several newspapers agreed to do big articles on me, when the book is officially in print… All of that, along with traditional book-signings, etc. AND I’m using Facebook, of course.

I notice that you have the first three chapters available on your Facebook Group page. What have the reactions been like so far? 

I’ve had very good responses, so far. No matter how good you think your writing is, it is still scary to put it out there for the world to see. The feedback has been fantastic and that just motivates me even further!

What made you chose to go the self-publishing route instead of looking for a traditional or small-press publisher? 

Well, I do plan to try to get “traditionally published” in the future, but I haven’t attempted that route yet. I want to see what I can do on my own, then go to publishers with a proven track record. If I can sell a few thousand copies on my own, then maybe lightning will be more willing to strike for me, you know?

Anything else about your book or yourself that we should know? 

Well, without giving too much away, the book has a very unique sub plot, which has surprised and delighted the few people I’ve let read the entire book. This secret sub plot is what has helped me get the schools involved, etc., and what I HOPE will catch the attention of a traditional publisher in the future . Also, I used to keep this hidden, but, I personally battle with severe OCD, stemming from a condition known as Aspergers syndrome, which is high functioning autism. This actually helps me remain extremely focused (obsessively) on task (my interests; my books), but in my personal life is a constant struggle. I Struggle to find a balance with the other things in my life (between my fantasy book life and the real world out there)… Thank God I have a VERY patient/supportive wife! 

Thank you very much and I hope everyone who reads this will have a look at book’s Facebook fan page here (let me know what you think!)

J.E. Taylor Interview

How many books do you currently have in publication or in the process of publication?

Four in the process of publication right now and ironically, the latest one to sell is also the first one to be released. Go figure.

Dark Reckoning, a paranormal suspense novel, will be released on July 5, 2010 which just happens to be my birthday so I’m thinking that’s got to be a good omen. In Dark Reckoning a sadistic killer stalks the secluded college town of Brooksfield, New Hampshire. With bodies piling up and rumors of the murders being part of sacrificial hazing rituals, the FBI plants Special Agent Steve Williams in a fraternity and his investigation takes a ninety degree turn into the bizarre when he’s introduced to Jennifer, a clairvoyant co-ed who swears the killer isn’t human.

Survival Games is scheduled for Release on July 19, 2010 and this is the first in the Games Trilogy, an erotic suspense series that’s sure to take the readers on a wild ride.

Here's a quote from Manic Readers:

"This book had it all, and even though I started off not knowing if I would truly like the content, I was blown away by how honest, true, emotional, and frightening it really was. J.E. Taylor has spun a story that is sure to catch reader’s attention and hold it until the last page. If you are looking for a story that will keep you on the edge, make your toes curl from the eroticism, and make you feel love and sorrow, then I would highly suggest Survival Games. I can’t wait to read the other two books in what is to be a wonderful trilogy. Bravo Ms. Taylor!"

Mind Games, the second in the Games Trilogy is scheduled for release on November 29, 2010, and End Game, the final in the trilogy comes out on Valentine’s Day next year (February 14, 2010).

Book blurbs and the first chapters of these books can be found on my website: www.JETaylor75.com

What can readers expect to get from these books?

The Games trilogy is an epic, erotic love story about fate and redemption intertwined in a paranormal suspense wrapper. The review by Manic Readers hit it on the nail and I was so thrilled with what the reviewer said regarding Survival Games. It’s everything a writer wants to hear about the reader’s experience.

Dark Reckoning is a twist between paranormal suspense and horror. It walks the line and while Ty, my main character in the Games Trilogy is my dark angel, Steve Williams is my white knight. He’s an undercover FBI agent with an acute sense of right and wrong. However, he doesn’t always play by the book and more often than not finds himself at odds with his boss.

Why should they buy your books as opposed to everything else that's out there?

All my books have a strong supernatural aspect that intertwines with the thriller roots, so I believe that gives them a unique twist in relation to the other books on the shelf.

For instance, in Dark Reckoning, Steve is presented with a few situations that test his beliefs and he has to come to terms with the existence of the paranormal, which for him is a giant leap into the unknown. This journey is just as important as the other aspects of the story. Kind of like Criminal Minds meets the X-files. Can you imagine Hotchner facing off with a fiery demon from hell?

What publishing houses did you go through and what was your experience like with them?

Because of the content, Survival Games was a hard sell to the mainstream publishers and it took me a while to find the right fit. Based on the premise and the content, I thought this was a prime candidate for self publishing. Fortunately, I found eXcessica, a publisher that doesn’t shy away from some of the more violent aspects of the book like so many of the e-romance publishers.

My experience with eXcessica has been so positive, that when they announced their spin off into the non-erotic realm with FIDO Publishing, I decided that was the place to go with Dark Reckoning. I recently took on manuscript formatting and content editing with eXcessica in order to learn the ins and outs of the independent publishing business and also have taken on a content editor role at FIDO as well. I’m learning the ropes and it really is a true partnership. While there isn’t the traditional structure of advances with either of these avenues, the payout rate on royalties is much more advantageous. With the e-book climate of late, I think I can do just as well from this platform than I could from the big publishing houses.

On your Facebook page it says that you are a paranormal suspense writer, what drew you to this genre?

I’m an adrenaline junkie. I admit it and anyone that’s ever driven with me can attest to that. ;) Anything that gets my pulse going is golden, so it’s only logical that this is where my writing tends to head. Horror and thrillers have been the pinnacle of my reading for years. If the writing is good enough to elicit emotional responses, fear, sorrow, laughter, I eat it up.

I’m also fascinated with the paranormal and always have been, so having my characters blessed with some unique power makes life more interesting. It doesn’t always answer the questions or give them ultimate advantage because, after all, they’re human and let’s face it; from time to time human emotions tend to override logic and common sense.

What kind of characters/scenarios can we expect to find in your short stories?

It runs the gambit. A lot of the stories were initially crafted through the monthly Backspace short story contests so the focus changes from story to story based on the parameters set forth by the writers there. I’ve got horror, romance, science fiction, fantasy, YA, true crime with a twist and middle grade in all different situations. It depends on the story parameters. Really. I also have three erotic shorts coming up in 2011 and 2012 for eXcessica anthologies, and each one of those is different.

I’ve posted Nightmares and Grayson House, two shorts that fall into the horror realm on my website - both these have been published in online e-zines. As of May 1st, I will be adding Armageddon to that grouping as it will now be in Allegory’s archives.

On May 1st you will be able to read my short story Abyss under the staff submissions at Allegory. It’s about a teenager who gets stuck in a storm off the coast of Maine.

What is your work like as an assistant editor with Allegory Ezine?

I love this part of my writing life. I enjoy reading the submissions and making recommendations of what goes forward and what doesn’t. I read close to a hundred stories every submission period and ascertain which ones go to the editor’s desk for final consideration. I’m one of six assistant and associate editors that review the submissions. Then the editor goes through those we send to him and pares it down to the final eight. The last couple editions, I’ve helped him trim the list down to the final group and that is tough. We look for a balance between the genres and the best in those factions and sometimes have to pass on something phenomenal because we already filled that angle.

When declining a story, I try not to do just a cookie cutter rejection letter. I try to say why, for me, the story didn’t work. That’s hard. And yes, I’ve had situations where the rejection letter is more generic because I just can’t articulate the reason or reasons I’m passing.

My advice to those who want to submit shorts anywhere, make sure you vet it with impartial parties, like a writers group or a creative writing teacher. Not friends and family. They won’t give you an honest critique that can help you improve and then you’ll be hitting a wall with submissions and not really understand why. I’ve seen a lot of stories that weren’t quite ready and would have benefited from an experienced set of eyes.

Do you have any tales of strange submissions?

Nothing that stands out, sorry. Plus, no offense, but if there was a strange situation that I encountered from an editing standpoint or a story I read that didn’t make the grade, I wouldn’t share that in the public forum.

It’s not right. We are talking about people’s dreams and it’s already bad enough that I have to reject folks, which feels a little like dream crushing at times, but to air someone’s faux pas in public, no thank you.

But on the personal front - the strangest situation I ever encountered was being accepted as a client by a dead agent. The entire chronicles of that as well as the subsequent uncovering of the same bogus agent operating under yet another alias is on my blog. It’s also linked to a December 2009 Writer’s Beware Blog Post.

I gave Writer’s Beware the heads up after my first experience and then kept a running dialog with the second experience and shot it to Writer’s Beware. I didn’t catch the third bogus agent - probably because they stayed very, very far away from me. But it was a hoot to find out my blogs were linked with the story.

And I have to say, busting that scam felt wonderful.

Is writing a full time occupation for you or are you paying the bills in some other fashion (like the rest of us)?

I’m a business analyst in a big insurance company. My forte is broker/dealer operations. What exactly does a business analyst do? Breaking it down to the most basic form, we are translators. We take what the business wants and needs and transcribe this so that the technical folks can make it happen.

I work on multi-million dollar projects and most of the time I run around like a chicken with my head cut off. That sucks up 40-50 hours a week. I also have a family and am the primary chauffeur for the kid’s activities. My other half takes the morning shift - getting the kids to school and then heads to his office job and I get out in time to get them off the bus, it’s a nice balance.

I started seriously writing in February of 2007 and to date have hammered out 8 full novels and about 20 short stories. I also have three partial novels in the works as well. So I guess you could say I don’t sleep much. Lately I’ve put my focus less into writing and more into editing and polishing but once I get done with cleaning up the remaining four books in my drawer, I’ll get back to finishing those three partials and onto all the other ideas swarming in my head.

Anything else that we should know about you?

I keep a picture of my dream house on my refrigerator as motivation. It’s in the town of York Maine and it’s only 3.5 million dollars. It hasn’t sold since it was built, almost like it’s waiting for me to buy it.

I’ve got a degree in communications - concentration in television and radio broadcasting and my first job out of college was at the FOX affiliate in Hartford. I used to take the dirty words and scenes out of movies.

I’ve got a healthy sense of humor - although some would better describe it as warped.

And I’m only 4’10” tall. A vertically challenged dynamo. :)

Walter, thank you so much for the opportunity to visit your blog. Happy Writing!

Thank you!  Readers can learn more about J.E. Taylor at her webpage!

An Interview with Fantasy Novelist J.S. Chancellor

J.S. Chancellor's novel "Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One: Son of Ereubus" is set to be released with Rhemalda in November 2010.  The above picture is a concept sketch for the novel by Oliver Wetter of Fantasio Fine Arts.

1. What's your background with writing? What are your inspirations and passions?

Well, I suppose I should start with what I don't have--an English degree. I've been writing for years (I won the Young Georgia Writer's Award when I was 7), but I've never felt drawn to any sort of formal education in literature. I majored in psychology when I was in college and honestly, I wouldn't trade it for the world. Knowing why your characters do what they do is such a pivotal part of good fiction, that for me, it's worth the trade off.

I write mostly fantasy fiction, but there are a myriad of novel types hanging out in my head, so who knows. I don't judge the stories when they come, I just usher them to the waiting room and they go from there. I'm working on a horror novel right now that I'm excited about (Of Blood and Bone). It's really dark fantasy, but we'll call it horror for now.

2. Tell me about your upcoming novel.

Ah, my first born. Guardians of Legend Trilogy, Book One: Son of Ereubus (Coming November 2010). Guardians is at its heart, a love story. It fits the requirements for being High or Epic Fantasy, but there is a part of me that feels like wearing that title is a bit like a little girl wearing her mother's heels. You see, its a very simple story--complex characters--complex plot, but at the end of the day the story itself is classic good versus evil. Book one ends much in the same way Tolkien's Fellowship of the Ring ends, which I suspect will make some readers unhappy, but I didn't have much choice in the matter (that story is one stubborn SOB). The trilogy is, frankly, one really big book that's been split up. There is a blurb for book one on my Facebook fanpage under the info tab, or you can look me up at Rhemalda publishing where you'll see a short snippet from the preface.

3. What is Rhemalda?

Rhemalda Publishing is a brand new publisher. They're located in Washington State. They specialize in Jane Austen adaptations, but Rhett Hoffmeister (president of the company) is a fan of fantasy and therefore I've been granted the privilege of being one of their first authors. As for what Rhemalda is as a title--your guess is as good as mine. I've yet to ask Rhett.

4. How has your experience been with Rhemalda? Did they do a decent job with the editing and did they provide good cover illustrations?

So far my experience has been wonderful. I mean this utterly. If there's any doubt, go read a few of my blog posts and you'll find that I don't accept anything at face value and I have a finely tuned BS detector (sorry to be crass, but I call a spade a spade). Rhemalda is all about producing quality novels and cultivating authors. Some publishers see you as just another author or worse yet, a single work. Rhemalda views its authors as family and treats them as such. They care, plain and simple. After signing the contract, I spoke at length
with Rhett himself about the direction of the project, cover art, etc. They do provide cover art and you can see Emma Hox's novel for an example, but I'm really particular when it comes to art because my mother is a career artist. Therefore, I've personally commissioned Oliver Wetter  to do the cover for book one and I have plans to use him for several more projects down the line. I've briefly been in touch with my assigned editor, Kara Klotz, but we haven't started the edit/revision process yet due to my request for one last author-driven edit.

5. What goes on on your blog? What purpose does it serve in terms of book promotion, etc?

The sole purpose of Welcome to the Asylum is to encourage other authors and explore the deeper levels of what being an author really means. A guided tour through the dredges of the writing life--if you will. I'll probably have a little bit of blatant promotion when we get closer to the launch in November, but as of now I have no plans of changing the current direction of the blog.

I had a hard time finding guidance and advice that was useful when I first started writing; so as I learn, I write it down and share it with the unwitting populace who wanders past my neck of the woods. If I had to pick a word that sums up my ambitions for the blog it would be: relevant. I want what I say to be poignant, meaningful and instigative. I've never cared much for apathy and it usually carries through in my blog posts.

6. Do you write many short stories? If so where do you publish them?

I always get this question. I don't write short stories at all. In fact, I rarely read them. I know, I know, all authors are supposed to have stacks of short stories and a laundry list of publications where their snippets may be found. I always go about doing things the hard way, and as it turns out, being a professional writer is no exception.

7. You mention that your upcoming novel has no elves or orcs, is that due to some sort of aversion to these types of characters or did you just not find a place for them in this book?

I wouldn't call it an aversion, so much as a...okay, no, maybe I do have an aversion. Watch me turn around and write a whole series with elves. Wouldn't that just be typical. The aversion stems from having read Tolkien and his predecessors. They did it right the first time, I see no reason to do it again.

8. What do you think is the main difference between fantasy written today and fantasy from 50 years ago?

Complexity of language aside, I think the biggest difference is that 50 years ago no one gave a damn about political correctness. Now, just about every fantasy author I manage to find will make certain that they aren't (even by accident) hurting someone's feelings, being too oppressive against women or leaving out minorities. This is fantasy for a reason folks. And unless your novel is a Utopia, then there will be the same ugly, unfair and unjust truths in your fictional world as there are in the real one. So why all the theatrics?

9. Anything else you want to share with us (feel free to broach any topic under the sun)?

That's a dangerous thing to ask me. My soapbox (since you did say anything under the sun) is how genre fiction has been labeled as 'less than' in comparison to 'literary fiction'. I think this is ignorant nonsense. You'd think our own would be a little more understanding, in light of how hard it is to get recognition as a fantasist, but no--you'll find the same elitist mentality in most national fantasy-fiction organizations. Once they've been given the golden ball, they forget the well they crawled out of. I can assure you of one thing in my career, if nothing else---I will never do this. I doubt I'll ever make it to that status as an author, but if there is anything in this world that gets under my skin, it's elitism.

A Few Words with Jean Henry-Mead

Biography taken from her web page:

Jean Henry-Mead is a novelist and award-winning photojournalist. She began her writing career as a news reporter and photographer in California. She later worked for the statewide newspaper in Wyoming where she also served as a magazine editor, freelance photojournalist and editor. Her magazine articles have been published domestically as well as abroad and have earned a number of regional and national writing awards. Her novels have been published under the name Jean Henry; her nonfiction books and magazine articles as Jean Mead, S. Jean Mead and Jean Henry-Mead. Her latest release, A Village Shattered, is the first novel in her Logan & Cafferty senior sleuth series. Diary of Murder is the second book in the series.

1. Where did you get your education? Did your studies have anything to do with writing?

I've received my education in various parts of the country, including California, Wyoming and Nevada. I concluded at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. I majored in English/journalism and worked as a cub reporter while editor in chief of my college newspaper. My first job out of college was as a news reporter.

2. I see you've written 12 books. What got you started as a writer?

News reporting is a great way to learn to write. You sit down and write, no matter how noisy your environment, and you usually only have time for one draft before your work goes into print. I've been known to say that I could write in the middle of a
traffic jam. In journalism, there's no such thing as writer's block.

I learned to write fiction by reading and rereading Dean Koontz's novels. I like the way he strings his words together.

3. What are the regional and national writing awards that you have won?

Mainly from California and Wyoming Press Women for newspaper feature stories I've written. Also from Wyoming Writers, Inc. for short stories.

4. Which novel are you the most proud of and why?

Escape, A Wyoming Historical Novel. I spent more than two years researching a prior nonfiction book, Casper Country: Wyoming's Heartland, on microfilm and I used my extensive notes to write the novel.

5. What genres do you prefer?

Mystery/suspense and western historical.

6. Who have you published with and what have your experiences been with editors and publishers?

My first publisher was Pruett Publishing of Boulder, Colorado. I've subsequently been published by Caxton Press of Caldwell, Idaho; Medallion Press of Wyoming, and ePress-Online. I've also been published by a number of magazines, including Empire Magazine of the Denver Post, SAGA Men's Magazine, In Wyoming Magazine (where I served as editor), and a number of foreign western magazines in Germany and Norway.

As for editors and publishers, some have been great to work with, others not. It can be very frustrating when an editor or publisher wants to change the concept of your book. I've asked for my manuscripts back from three different publishers and resold them to other publishers who produced them with only minor edits. I've been fortunate that all my books have sold.

7. Can you tell us a little bit about your latest book, Diary of Murder?

It's the second novel in my Logan & Cafferty series and features two sixty-year-old senior sleuths who travel the country in a motorhome, stumbling over bodies. In Diary, Dana Logan's sister dies mysteriously, her husband claiming it's suicide, but Dana and her friend Sararh set out to prove it's murder. In the process they encounter a vicious Wyoming drug ring and more murders. They nearly lose their own lives before they solve the case.

8. What's your philosophy on authors and writers in the modern, electronic world?

Ebooks are gaining ground in the publishing industry. The last I heard, ebook sales comprise more than ten percent of all book sales and are no longer confined to small presses. Major publishers are getting into electronic publishing and travelers realize that they can take multiple books with them in a handheld devise small enough to fit in a purse or briefcase. I don't think they will ever completely replace books in print but they're definitely gaining in popularity. I look forward to the day when ebook readers are standaridzed.

Join Jean Henry Mead's Facebook fan page here and check out her web page here!

The Best Source for Fiction Markets

Most of you have probably already heard of Ralan.com but for those of you who haven't, this page should become your online bible.  Ralan does a really good job of keeping these markets updated with status reports and he even sometimes leaves a little commentary based on either his experiences with a publisher, or those of his readers.

The best thing about Ralan.com is that it's absolutely free.  There's no ridiculous fee like you get with writer's market, and Ralan.com is very well organized and easy to navigate.  It doesn't have quite the polished look of duotrope.com, but that's another thing that I like about it (once a web page looks too "slick" I start to forget that it was made by a human being...and I HATE robots!).

For those of you who are just starting out, I recommend that you peruse the lists of publications on Ralan and then start following a couple that sound interesting.  Generally, I like to follow the philosophy of sending my stuff out to the highest paying publications first and then sending them off to other markets as they get rejected (your work is always going to get rejected a number of times...unless your uncle is the guy running the web page).

Actually I've found that quite a few of the editors on these pages offer some pretty good criticisms in their rejection slips.  It's always irritating when you get some sort of dot matrix printed form that doesn't look like a human eye ever even glanced at your work (damn robots), but when you get a rejection letter that includes a few details and character's names and says they'll be willing to publish you with a rewrite...heck...you can't do better than that!

Ralan is a lot of fun, so have at it!  Think of this page as your number one resource as an online fiction writer.  The only other piece of advice that I can give you is to FOLLOW THE SUBMISSION GUIDELINES TO THE LETTER!  If they tell you to paste the story into the body of the email, paste it into the body (don't send an attachment).  If they tell you to write the whole story in blue ink...then WRITE it in blue ink!  It's just like talking to the cops don't give them an excuse to write you a ticket (or reject your submission).  And, amazingly, if you follow the submission guidelines, you're already ahead of half the people who are submitting.

Small Presses and Print on Demand

When it comes to writing, everybody knows that the rule of thumb is to not quit your day job.  It's got to be a labor of love (much like getting an immigration visa for your foreign born bride) because it's going to be so much work and hardship your feelings HAVE to be legitimate for you to follow through.

To that end, the latest craze of print on demand publications makes a certain amount of sense.  If you've already taken the time to build your audience and you know that you can move 1000 copies for example, why not produce an attractive POD to offer for sale?

Well, there are a couple problems with the POD model.  First, you, the author has 100% control, and contrary to popular belief, that isn't always a good thing.  Frankly, most works are greatly improved if one or more editors goes through them with the author.

Now, I've always been especially "ornery" when it comes to having people tinker with my works, but when I was working on "Dominvs" with epress-Online I had to grudgingly admit that the suggestions of my editor were right on.  You can probably guess that this caused a bit of consternation for an especially arrogant bastard such as myself, but I decided to use it to my advantage and improve three or four other things that my editor never mentioned along with the one or two things that she did.  That way I was able to absorb my editor's criticisms constructively and burn off my natural irritation for being edited (which everybody feels) in a way that made my book exponentially better.

It's sort of weird how there's plenty in every book that you KNOW needs to be fixed, but when you're in the early stages (submitting it to publishing houses), you just can't see them.  It's not for lack of motivation because you want to send out the best book possible, it's just that somehow certain flaws don't make themselves apparent until it actually becomes a reality that your work is about to go into publication.  The point is that you NEED somebody to take the time to go through the book with you at least once, and most POD places don't offer that (or if they do, they charge you an arm and a leg).

The thing that makes the current publishing industry interesting is that there are so many different ways you can get your stuff out there.  Blogs are a way to develop a huge following, as are ebooks, PODs, etc.  I especially like these small presses like epress-Online that produce an edited POD and market it.  This is really an effective model for creating what is a professional piece of writing, without going through the highly competitive (and highly-conservative) route of traditional publication.

However, I would have to caution against going with the straight POD route.  That might be a good thing to use to generate the necessary motivation for finishing your first book (it can be tough to continue writing if you believe deep in your heart that there will never be a way to "get it OUT there"), but when you've polished your style a little more, sooner or later you'll have to find a way to get an editor to work with you.

Still, as everyone says, the most important thing is to simply write as much as you can as often as you can.

An Interview with Teel James Glenn

Teel James Glenn is a prolific author who has published with Epress-online among others.  He was kind enough to answer a few questions for me--enjoy!

Do you work with an agent or do you represent yourself?

Many years ago I had three different agents—in the pre-E world and they did nothing for me. This time around I have marketed all my own work but after this solid five year, 25 book run I am trying to get an agent again with an eye toward Hollywood adaptation of some of my work.

How many books do you currently have in circulation?

I have 25 books either out or finished and due out from five different publishers.

How have the sales been?

Several of my books have been bestsellers from some of the publishers and I consistently have at least two books in the top ten for two of them publishers.

What are the various publishing houses that you've worked for and what are your impressions of them (both positive and negative)?

I’m published with Epress-Online, Whiskey Creek Press, Gypsy Shadow Publishing, Eternal Press and BooksforaBuck.

I’ve had nothing but good experiences with all of them though sometimes with some of them communication has been an issue-ie. A couple of them take more time than this energizer bunny wants to wait for responses!! lol.

I have had a real problem with many publishers that I decided NOT to publish with because they were terrible with communication—it astounds me that a business can take months to reply to an author they have already told they wanted to publish. I have actually pulled books from those firms when they failed to keep the lines of communications open.

What kind of themes do you deal with in your works?

I’ve written in many genres but the theme of all my work is heroes—I can’t stand making villains into good guys—the anti-hero idea has been carried to the point where serial killers have been turned into ‘good guys’—well-not in my work.

What makes your works unique as compared to other authors?

Action. I have spent thirty plus years with as a fight choreographer and I use all that I’ve learned in that process on the page. In fact even when my stuff as getting rejected I would get a “We loved your action swcenes.” From the rejecting publishers. Later, my editor Joan and publisher Margaret at ePress-Online suggested I create “Them’s Figthin’ Words: a writers guide to writing fight scenes” because of it.

Have you had much success in placing short stories? Where do you send them and what do you use as a resource to find new markets?

I actually sell short stories regularly to a large range of markets. I’ve set myself a goal of finding two new markets a week. I do constant searches and use sites like Ralan.com and Duotrope to find new places to send them.

I am also conscious of ‘re-marketing- finding places that take reprints as a way to ‘sell’ the same story more than once and get it out there—and then often incorporate that story in a collection as a ‘third’ sale. I often take the chance to rewrite or expand the stories so they are not exactly the same, but it keeps it fresh.

What's thewordcave.wordpress.com?

It’s a fiction blog where I ‘try out’ some of my novella length pieces as a way of ‘drumming up’ interest in them and getting feed back. They tend to be some of my more ‘out there’ pieces.

Any closing thoughts?

I’ve been very fortunate to enter the book field full tilt at a point where it is changing in an exciting way with the e explosion. I’ve had great editors, and meet many colleagues in a very short time.

I think there is more space for new voices than at anytime since the pulp explosion of the 1930s so I look forward to seeing so many others out there and all the new things that are coming. It’s a great time to be a wordsmith and I consider myself one of the luckiest guys around….

Heroic Fantasy Facebook Group

I've just started up a Facebook Group called Heroic Fantasy.  As most of you know, you can't hardly get by just writing a book these days, you also have to pound the pavement and grab people by the eyes and MAKE them take a look at it (it's exhausting).  My idea with the Heroic Fantasy Facebook group is to pitch some ideas on how to market your sword and sorcery/fantasy novel.  This will include links as to how to build your own facebook group (which won't be necessary if you participate enough with this one), as well as links to reviews of our writers books, web pages, etc.

I've been writing for close to two decades now (where did the time go?) and I'm finding that the current form of blitzkrieg internet marketing is almost dizzying.  Not only do you have to write about 5-10 100-200 word "articles" just to get noticed, you have to set it up so that these articles publish automatically to all your various social networking accounts (like twitter, facebook, myspace, etc.).  It's crazy.  However there are ways to get your computer to work for you so that all this stuff just happens automatically.
Honestly, I think you have to stick your book in the face of about 1000 people before you can even hope to get even one sale.  Once the thing gets read, hopefully you'll get some word of mouth going, but a lot of these "viral" type of campaigns need a lot of coddling to get going.  You can't do it all by yourself, like anything else you need a community of people behind you and supporting you.

So anyway, just keep checking in here and I'll hopefully have periodic updates for you.