Words with Julie Achterhoff, Author of "Quantum Earth" and "Deadly Lucidity"

Can you tell us a little bit about "Quantum Earth" and "Deadly Lucidity?"
Quantum Earth is my first novel about a group of metaphysical scientists using very alternative means to find out why the Mayan calendar says the end of the Earth is coming in 2012. People have been very interested in this book's take on the subject because it's so unconventional. They even interview the dead through a medium to try to find clues!

Deadly Lucidity is a whole different story. It has a woman named Marie dreaming her life away, literally! She is caught in her own nightmares, but can't seem to find her way out. An evil psychopath is after her, too. Luckily, she has the courageous Murphy with his six shooters to back her up. If only they didn't keep getting separated! Together they must find the place where she can find the exit door. But how can she leave Murphy behind?

What's your background with writing?

I've loved writing and reading since I was a little girl. I kept many a teacher awake at night with my scary tales. Then I had five kids to raise, and only wrote bits and pieces here and there. Finally, I went to college in my late 30s, and took every writing-related class I could find. The first thing I wrote was a final for a women's lit class. It was a play titled "Angel in the House" about three different women writers from three different centuries, and what they faced in that profession. I loved actually finishing such a huge project. Then I wrote a novella titled "Native Vengeance," which was published by Demon Minds Magazine online. I was stoked and ready to writ my first novel, "Quantum Earth." It took a while, but I finally found a publisher, All Things That Matter Press in Maine.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

I know a lot of people adore Stephen King, and I'm no exception. I loved his books as a kid scared out of my wits, not able to sleep with the lights out, and I love him still. His writing, to me, is the epitome of perfection. I could only hope to hold any source of light up to him!

Of course, my kids have always been inspiring and supportive, too. I couldn't have done it without them. Now I have a flame in my life who inspires me, too.

What was it like working with "All Things That Matter Press"?

It's been a wonderful experience. Although they are a small press, they treat their authors like pros. We even have a yahoo group, so we can all stay in touch with one another, sharing ideas for marketing and such. We're a pretty close group of about twenty. Recently we have been brainstorming on ways to create a brand for ourselves. Some of the ideas have been hilariously tongue-in-cheek. One of the authors' book is titled, "Flashing My Shorts." I'll say no more about some of the crazy ideas that have come up for the author of that book!

Deb and Phil Harris are our dynamic duo publishing team. Phil has a great head on his shoulders, and keeps us on track about what works and what doesn't. Deb is the great editor of our books. She's the queen of editing in my opinion. She catches my mistakes like she's wearing a mitt at a baseball field!

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

Deb sends me some ideas, and I pick the one I want.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

More like what haven't I done! I've done loads of interviews like this one with you, I hired APEX to create video trailers for my books and write reviews for them, which they planted all over tarnation, I have a blog on wordpress, which I write on a regular basis and host others, too. Right now I'm hiring a publicist who is going to put me on the radio all over the U.S. I sent free copies of my books to reviewers to post on amazon, goodreads, etc. That's all my memory can recall at the moment, but there's a lot more.

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

It's called Julie Achterhoff's Blog. I host at least one author per week in an interview. The questions are always different, though. I give them a list of about thirty questions, and ask them to answer the ten they like most, or answer their own questions. I also have a regular contributor, Luciano Santini, who is a motivational speaker and author. He writes a blog each week about something interesting and positive.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I'm actually very excited about the book I'm just finishing up titled "Earthwalker." It's about a vampire from another planet of vampires (where they originate from in my world-lol) who crashes to Earth and falls in love with an Earth woman named Willa. He begins to get a craving for human blood after staying on Earth too long and may kill Willa. Then there are the other vampires on Earth who have "turned rogue," and go for humans in a big way. They want Willa, too. There are vampires from his home planet that Paul has to run from. He is a Grand Master on his planet, and they want his power for control. There are also other aliens in the Federation (had to use that word...) who become a part of the story. Basically, I've taken a vampire love story and given it enough twists and turns to make it exceptionally intriguing to me. Because, face it, we're really writing for our own fun and gratification, right?

Is there anything else about you we should know?

I'm a sucker for a great love scene! And there are a few in each of my books that will knock your socks off, especially in "Earthwalker." I'm a bit concerned that I may have gone over the top with that one. Oh, well, I'll find out when Deb looks it over. Hope it doesn't make her blush!

The Auselsen Seven - An interview with Zachary T.M. Schmitz

1- How did you start writing? What does it mean to you?

I started writing when I was in fourth grade. The teacher asked for a written assignment depicting the next chapter of the book we had just finished reading. He was expecting a half page of type from the students (and that was double-spaced). I turned in 20 full pages of single spaced type (typed on a typewriter). My teacher made a point to tell my mother to encourage my writing when he presented her with the paper during parent-teacher conferences.

2- What was your first publication, what was it about, and with whom was it published?

The first thing I ever had published was a patriotic poem I wrote in my senior year of High School entitled "My Baby Country." I don't remember what poetry contest it was anymore, but I was awarded a really nice plaque with the poem written on it as well as $50. I didn't win first place, but I was happy that it made it to the top 5.

3- Could you tell us more about 'Over the seventh Mountain'?

The Auslesen Seven, over the Seven Mountains is actually a sequel to The Auslesen Seven, In the Land of the Unicorn. The main characters are Chris Hailey and James Hoch, two orphans who discovered their magical origins by a chance encounter with a convicted criminal from the Magical Universe.
There is a 3000-year-old war constantly wrecking havoc in the Magical Universe and Chris is chosen by the Dragon gods to bring peace to the Universe.
There is an incredible plot twist that throws the readers off my scent and leaves them wondering what's going on. The Auslesen Seven, Over the Seven Mountains picks up by immediately satiating the readers' needs to have their questions from the first book answered.
I like to mix my favorite topics: Fantasy, Science fiction, as well as satire. Though my humor is subtle, I make fun of everything I think is ridiculous in our actual world by putting my characters in those situations and having them respond to it.
My personal favorite character to write for is the bad guy in the second novel. When you read the book, you will find that Shade is everything a magical bad guy should be and more. Reading the third book (scheduled to come out in October of 2011), you will find that everything you ever thought you knew or understood about the workings of the Magical Universe has just been turned upside down, as an amazing revelation becomes apparent.
I know I sound cryptic, but I don't want to give away anything. Just know that anyone who LIKES fantasy has LOVED my books.

4- What feature of your latest works are you the most proud about?

I am most proud of the way I have been able to bring subtle humor and symbolism into my writing without it taking away from the actual story. If the reader misses my hidden messages, he/she will not miss out on any plot points. The symbolism is merely there to enhance the story, not make it.

5- Who are your inspirations? What authors do you think helped you or motivated you along your path?

My favorite author of all time it Roald Dahl (Matilda, witches). Next would be L. Frank Baum (Wizard of Oz) and lastly Stephen King.

6- How do you plan on promoting your book? What is it like working with your current publisher?

With two descent reviews to back me up--Sacramento Book review calls my first book "intriguing" while Kirkus Book review says "The Words are delightful" -- I plan on getting the book on major bookstore shelves as soon as humanly possible. Then I will be doing small book tours in my local area (Hampton Roads area of Virginia)

7- Who helped you along with the book, and how?

I had a few English majors read the second book and help me out with grammatical errors as well as plot points that I missed. I cannot thank them enough, although I will keep their names to myself as I do not have their permission to say their names within any article I write or any interview questions I answer.

8- What are your future projects? Do you plan on continuing the series? Do you intend to stay with the same publishing company?

I am currently taking a break from fantasy and endeavoring to write a science fiction piece I've been working on off and on for almost 4 years. The third book of the Auslesen Seven series will be out by next October as promised, but I need to take a break from those characters and get this story out of my head.
As for staying with the same publishing company... that depends on how successful the marketing is with them. As much as I want to be an artist, this business does cost money and I need to be with the best people who can get my book out there to the most people.

9- Anything else our readers should know about Zachary Schmitz?

I grew up in a farmer's community, joined the Navy at the age of 18. By the age of 20, I was promoted to Petty Officer Second class (sergeant equivalent) and given my own division of 10 men and women to lead. I was forced to mature very quickly and thusly have a very strange sense of humor for only being 24 years old.
By the age of 21, I was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps achievement medal for superior performance in teaching my entire fleet a new operations system for a top secret operation. In all honesty, I really can't tell you more... or I'd have to kill you. ;)
I left the military to be with my wife and start a family as well as a writing career, having experienced some real life outside the comfortable confines of my small farming community.

10- Where can our readers get your books?

Any and all my books are available through any major online bookstore or at your local bookstore's ordering desk. Just type in the search bar: The Auslesen Seven and it will bring you to both my books, available in eBook, hardcover and paperback.
I'm crazy about eBooks. They're the cheapest way to get a great book and you don't have to overstuff your carryon bag with bulky books when taking a trip. I like that.

Words with Samuel Z Jones Author of "The Star of Silveneir"

Can you tell us a little bit about "The Star of Silveneir?"

"The Star of Silveneir" is the first book in an ongoing saga; "Star" and its first sequel "Far Hrinor" are available on Lulu.com as free downloads; there are currently two further sequels in draft, and three more in progress.

Every Fantasy world has, somewhere, its greatest swordsman; "The Star of Silveneir" deals with the rise of that man, Montesinos DeKellia, and his part in the wars that bring him to prominence in his world.

It's Fantasy, what more can I say? Wizards, warriors, dragons, monsters, magic swords, journeys, quests and battles. There are no elves, no dwarves, no orcs, and definitely no boy wizards playing hockey on broomsticks. I believe that Fantasy should be epic and sexy; that's what I like to read and what I like to write.

What's your background with writing?

I grew up reading Fantasy, and eventually tired of the reliance on Tolkien's work as the default model for a Fantasy world; I was sick of elves, orcs and dwarves, and while Tolkien's prose is masterful, many of those who've followed him are just too bland in their writing. In short, I started writing my own Fantasy because I needed something new to read.

I've been working on "Star" and its sequels for at least five years; probably closer to ten. In that time I've done a range of freelance writing work, from proofreading and editing to B2B and scripts for Indy films and Music Videos (yes, music videos have scripts...). I was also commisioned to write a historical novel about George Washington, which has been through several agents and may eventually be available in the future.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

E.R Eddison; "The Worm Ouroboros" in particular highights just how vivid langage can be and sets the benchmark as far as I am concerned for heorism in Fantasy.

Hugh Cook; "Chronicles of an Age of Darkness" is a brilliant and little-known saga, wherein the plotlines of each novel interweave and characters from one book frequently wander through the others, interlinking the entire series in a broad tapestry which, although not a cohesive as might be hoped, reveals a grand attempt to tie ten seperate novels and hundreds of characters into one epic tale.

CS Lewis: I love the way Lewis combines vivid imagery with brevity of prose; some people who've read my work think I'm too terse, others that I'm too long. I'm aiming for both; to express detail in sparse prose, giving my full meaning but allowing the reader's imagination space to operate.

Stephen King; I've never read anything by King, and I hate all his films. I list him as an influence, however, because he is the most prolific writer on Earth, turning out a massive 1,000,000 words per year; I make that my target, and when life permits I'm able to write 10k-15k words per day consistently. So far, my record is about 500,000 words in a year.

John Boorman: "Excalibur" is my favourite film. The dialogue is the perfect balance of formality and natural conversation, with not a word wasted. The imagery, pacing and music of the film also speak to me strongly as the definitive on-screen version of the Arthurian myths.

What was it like working with Lulu.com?

I am, as yet, entirely self-published; my books are available via Lulu.com, but "working with them" puts the relationship too strongly; Lulu expressly do nothing other than host the site that allows authors to make their work available via PoD.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

That would be me, and rather shabby I think it too. It's a maxim that "What sells fantasy books is a good butt on the cover..." and I'm still looking for an artist or other source of good butts to try and boost my readership.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

Talking to people, on-line and in person; it's not what you write, but who you know. The more people know who I am and what I write, the more people are likely to actually read it.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

No, although I was once approached to write a biography for a Kung Fu teacher in London; initially he offerred £5k, but it became rapidly clear through meetings and discussion that he thought the mere privilege of his company was payment enough. He ran his dojo like a cult, and eventually challenged me to a fight only to back out when I accepted. He was a funny guy.

I've also done a bit of work on scripts and short films for the Indy scene; most of it is available on YouTube, and I periodically post links on my Facebook page.

Do you have a blog?

I don't have a blog, although I have a large number of articles on-line on various topics, and often engage in long discussions on my Facebook page.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I'm currently focusing on editing the third book in the Fantasy series, and finishing the first draft of the fifth book in the series. There are two more sequels in fragments and notes, and another one planned. I'm also putting together a sub for Wizards of the Coast. I'm available for freelance work, but currently have nothing going on in that field.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

Besides writing, I teach martial arts; I've studied multiple styles, both unarmed and using weapons. I do actually know something about sword-fighting, which is very useful in a genre so reliant on fight scenes to resolve conflicts and progress the plot.

I live in a small village on the south coast of England, and I beat writer's block by taking long walks along the cliffs.

Words with Chris Sorrell, Author of "Ghost of Achilles"

Can you tell us a little bit about "Ghost of Achilles?"

My first book, Ghost of Achilles - True Ogre is a fantasy based work of fiction which follows the aftermath of the capture of Achilles by Voldek, the True Ogre.  Achilles is the leader of the human inhabitants of Kelvor but the order of things have been thrown into chaos by a brutal conflict which has resulted in his capture.  The book starts off at the end of the battle and follows the struggles of the main protagonist, Ghost, who is Achilles' son, as he comes to terms with the loss and the realisation at the consequences of Voldek's hateful ambitions.

What's your background with writing?

My background of writing is fairly limited as I have not gone down the route of writing short stories or journo pieces as that's not something that particularly interests me.  Ghost of Achilles is my first work of fiction and is something I started two years ago.  Full length novels is where I see myself staying and hopefully having some success with.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

In terms of influences then I would have to say that the main writers who have inspired me are the likes of Louis Ferdinand Celine, Charles Bukowski and Knut Hamsun.  Celine in particular has held a firm hold over ever since I read his debut work - 'Journey to the end of the night'.  It is quite simply the best book ever written.  The fantasy side of my writing is probably more influenced by the likes of David Gemmell and also the world of music, particularly the norweigan black metal scene.

What was it like working with Troubador?

I worked with Troubador who act as Matador publishing and can be found at www.troubador.co.uk.  All in all they were very responsive and offered an excellent service from the start to finish.  They have an excellent reputation in the industry and I would recommend them to anyone else thinking of going down the self publishing route.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design?

The cover design was done mainly from images I thought conveyed the essence of the story at various non copyrighted image sights.  Troubador publishing then put the design together for me which I'm glad to say came out very well.

What are you doing in terms of marketing/publicity?

I shall be focusing my marketing on article writing, forum entries, selling to online and high street book stores, fantasy subscription sites, and hopefully getting some local newspaper coverage.

Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?

No radio interviews or the like for me yet but it's something I'm trying ot get done so I'll keep you posted.

What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?

www.myspace.com/ghostofachilles Readers can expect to find updates on how the book sales/marketing is going.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

Other writing projects I have planned for the future are a series of semi autobiographical novels entitled 'man around....'.  The first will be titled 'Man around asia' with others to follow.  I would also look to write the second installment of Ghost of Achilles if the current one does well enough.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

I would like to express to any readers of this that I am very unsettled with the prospect of a proper job and so would beg anyone out there to buy my book and big it up on review sites so that I can continue through life without the horrors of employment and land a big publishing deal to tide me over for a while.


Orcs Rock!, Danila Botha, and A Brother's Hate

Writing, writing writing...sometimes it grinds your fingers down into little wads of sweaty pulp. It's been a bit of a crazy month, and what I realized as I started putting this newsletter for all the fine and hearty Heroic Fantasy fans throughout the world is that...I haven't done a lot of articles on my web page recently...(gasp!).

Well, there's a reason for that. J.S. Chancellor and myself are both getting books published by Rhemalda in November, and part of the promotion is that we're supposed to do 100 days of blog posts. When you think about it, that's almost like we're required to write another NOVEL (you can't complain though...not when somebody asks you to write for them)! Here's an interview with J.S.:

In addition to the blogs, my wife also had a BABY (talk about something that throws you out of your routine)! Here's a picture for all those of you who are interested:

In the end, I was ashamed to realize that I'd done only ONE author interview this month, but it's a good one. Danila Botha is an energetic, extremely talented writer and I think you'll be very interested in what she has to say here:

I also published only ONE short story, but again, this is one that I greatly enjoyed (even if it does have a couple little quirks to it). Read it here:

If you like wizards, here's an article about wizard names in fantasy:

And if you like Orcs, here's an article entitled "Orcs Rock!"

For those of you interested in picking up my novel with Rhemalda, here's the link to pre-order. If you pre-order now, you'll also receive a free coaster with the book:

And here's J.S. Chancellor's link to pre-order her book and get her free coaster as well:

If any of you want me to post an interview on my blog, you can find some start-up interview questions on this page:

Send them along with a .jpg of your book cover to walterrhein@gmail.com and I'll do my best to get you as much publicity as I can!

Cheers, and keep writing!