A Particularly Good Walter Rhein Interview

Hello All!

Good news today, I just stumbled across a really fun interview!  This interviewer asked some great questions and I think I had about a half bottle of wine in me when I replied (or maybe not :).  Anyway, check it out and digg it, tweet it, like it, and stumble it please!

Negative Review of "The Bone Sword"

I was just surfing the web today when I came across this negative review of my book "The Bone Sword," and I'm curious to hear some responses to this review.  Naturally, nobody likes to read anything negative about their writing, but by the time you've gotten a book published, you're pretty much used to it.  I've really never heard any fairy tale about a writer who wrote something and submitted it only to have it be accepted by the first publishing house that looked at it, and then had it go on to win every award and gain the respect and admiration of every single reader who picked it up.

That's simply not going to happen folks.

The reason is actually a blessing in disguise.  People are different and diverse (and the world would be VERY boring if they weren't).  The things you write CAN'T please everybody, because EVERYBODY is looking for something totally different.

That being said, I believe everyone is entitled to his/her opinion.  In reading this review, although it makes a big show of being critical of everything from the cover to the opening map, I believe this reviewer secretly enjoyed "The Bone Sword."  Here's a quote from the review:

It’s a bit of a curate’s egg of a book, though; I was never in any danger of not finishing it, and not just because I didn’t want to miss the next nugget of appallingness. The plot is basic and entirely unoriginal, but serviceable and fairly well paced, and the themes the book poses (how much loyalty do you owe to an organization that doesn’t repay it? When do you have to take a stand?) are good ones.

It kind of makes me laugh to read that since the reviewer is so focused on injecting negativity that he can't realize that what he's saying is essentially positive.  But phrases like "I was never in any danger of not finishing it" are encouraging.  Honestly, if I HATE a book, I can't finish it.  Simple as that.  There are books that I have finished and not liked...and there are books that I have devoured and not liked (The Da Vinci Code for example).

In terms of plot, certainly, I wasn't attempting to write a plot-centered book.  I'm more interested in the new themes and characters that I can hang off that plot, and this reviewer writes it's "serviceable and fairly well paced, and the themes the book poses are good ones."

You know, one time I was sitting in a college class and my professor handed back an essay on which I'd received a 28 of 30.  My girlfriend at the time also got her paper back, and she'd received a 30 out of 30.  However, earlier in the class, the professor had made a transparency of an essay to use as an example of how a good essay should look, and for that he had picked my essay.  It struck me as funny that he found enough errors in my essay to drop it to a 28, but some part of him made him pick that essay over the one he had deemed to be a 30/30.

No, I don't think "The Bone Sword" is a perfect book, but I think it is successful at what it is.  First and foremost, people are going to be able to read it from cover to cover (which should be your number one priority because there are TONS of books out there that are impossible to read).  Second, you're going to find that it's a familiar style plot which will provide you with some reference points in the kind of world that I like to create.  I plan on getting a little more radical in terms of plot and character development in the sequels, but you just can't jump out of the gate like that (or nobody's going to accept your work for publication).

Anyway, I'm glad this reviewer shared his thoughts.  I'm going to take a couple of his comments with me and try to improve things.  What do y'all think?

Words with Robert Kroese, Author of "Mercury Falls"

Can you tell us a little bit about "Mercury Falls?"

I’m going to cheat on this question, because the AmazonEncore people came up with a great summary that’s better than anything I’d been able to devise:

While on assignment in Nevada, Christine Temetri isn’t surprised when yet another prophesied Apocalypse fails to occur. After three years of reporting on End Times cults for a religious news magazine, Christine is seriously questioning her career choice. But then she meets Mercury, a cult leader whose knowledge of the impending Apocalypse is decidedly more solid than most: he is an angel, sent from heaven to prepare for the Second Coming but distracted by beer, ping pong, and other earthly delights. After Christine and Mercury inadvertently save Karl Grissom—a film-school dropout and the newly appointed Antichrist—from assassination, she realizes the three of them are all that stand in the way of mankind’s utter annihilation. They are a motley crew compared to the heavenly host bent on earth’s destruction, but Christine figures they’ll just have to do. Full of memorable characters, Mercury Falls is an absurdly funny tale about unlikely heroes on a quest to save the world.

I understand that "Mercury Falls" was originally self-published and then you were picked up by AmazonEncore. Who did you self-publish with and what were the results like?

I published the paperback version through CreateSpace, which is a self-publishing company owned by Amazon. The books are very professional-looking, and their prices are excellent. It’s very easy to make a self-published book available on Amazon. I also created a version for Kindle and a generic electronic version that I uploaded to Smashwords. Kindle was really the key to the success of Mercury Falls, though. The great thing about ebooks is that you can price the book as low as you want, because there are no printing or distribution costs. I sold a couple hundred paperbacks over the first few weeks, but sales really took off when I dropped the price of the Kindle version to $1.99. In conjunction with some great reviews and my promotional efforts, I ended up selling around 4,000 Kindle copies in the first four months.

It's fairly unusual for a self-published book to be picked up by a different publisher. How did that transpire with "Mercury Falls?"

About six months after first publishing Mercury Falls, I got an email from the senior acquisitions editor at AmazonEncore – which I have to admit I hadn’t heard of at that point. If you follow publishing industry news, I’m sure you’re aware that Amazon has had a rocky relationship with publishers lately. Part of Amazon’s solution to that problem is evidently to get into publishing themselves. They created AmazonEncore, which focuses on republishing successful self-published books. In their words, “AmazonEncore is a new program whereby Amazon will use information such as customer reviews on Amazon.com to identify exceptional, overlooked books and authors with more potential than their sales may indicate. Amazon will then partner with the authors to re-introduce their books to readers through marketing support and distribution into multiple channels and formats.” In other words, they cherry-pick the most promising self-published books and re-launch them in an effort to sell a lot more copies. Mercury Falls had sold well and gotten great reviews, so the acquisitions editor, Terry Goodman, checked it out. He loved the book and sent me an email asking if I’d like them to publish Mercury Falls as an AmazonEncore title. I said yes.
"The Force is Middling in this one" is a collection of blog entries published with CreateSpace. It currently seems to be doing pretty well on Amazon. To what do you attribute its success?

TFIMITO has actually sold quite a few more Kindle copies than paperbacks as well. It hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm, but collections of humorous essays are always a tough sell. Only a handful of authors – Sedaris, Hodgman, Dave Barry, and a few others – can actually make money on that sort of book. Still, TFIMITO peaked at #200 on the Kindle bestsellers list, which is pretty impressive for a self-published book. I attribute that success to the fact that (1) it’s a damn funny book, IMHO; (2) I marketed it heavily; and (3) I priced it very cheaply. That’s really all there is to it.

Do you have any good stories from book signings or other promotional events?

I had a book signing last week that went so well that I ended up staying an extra hour, until 7pm. By the time I left, I was starving, so I stopped at the California Pizza Kitchen next door. I ordered a pizza to go, figuring I’d eat it on the way home. At the bar was an attractive woman enjoying a drink and reading something on her Kindle. Flush with confidence from the signing, I walked up and said, “How do you like your Kindle?” She replied, “It’s the best thing ever.” I got out one of my promotional cards and handed it to her, saying “This is your next book.” She downloaded Mercury Falls right there at the bar and asked me to sign the back of the card. That was a pretty great moment. Plus, I got to eat pizza on the way home.

I get the impression that the catalyst for all of your writing is your blog mattresspolice.com. A name like that must have a good story behind it, can you tell us what it is?

You must be too young to remember the awesomeness that is the movie Fletch. “I don’t mean to pull rank on you, but I’m with the mattress police. There are no tags on these mattresses.”

What kind of writing can one expect to find on MattressPolice?

I’ve sort of lost the blogging bug, so I haven’t posted much of interest for a while, but Mattress Police served as an outlet for all the nutty ideas that occur to me on a daily basis. I’ve done posts on spam in the periodic table, testing shampoo on monkeys, my experience staying at the worst motel in the U.S., and lots of other stuff. It’s probably best if you just go there yourself and click on some of the stuff under MOST POPULAR POSTS. Depending on what you click, it may make you think or it may make you angry, but I hope it at least makes you laugh.

I see that you have a degree in philosophy? So tell me, am I even asking you this question?

The question clearly exists as a linguistic/logical construct, but I have no firm basis to believe that you are asking it, or even that you exist. The idea of “you” is a category in my mind into which I’ve inserted a hypothetical entity asking this question in order for my own epistemological convenience. Got it?

Ha ha!  What other projects are you currently working on?

I’m writing a sequel to Mercury Falls, predictably entitled Mercury Rises. I’m trying to pare down the number of projects I’m working on at any given moment, because I have a tendency to take on way too much. That’s another reason I’m not blogging much these days. I still have a day job (as a web developer), and my employer rather unreasonably insists that I occasionally do some work, despite my impending fame as an author.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

I ghost-wrote Justin Bieber’s book. And his hair.

Interview with Walter Rhein's Wife!

Although this one claims to be an interview with me, the writer was actually more interested in talking to my wife, which is awesome!  I guess if there's one interview that was going to give you the REAL inside scoop...this is the one!  Enjoy!!!

Walter Rhein Interview at the Author Exchange Blog

Hello Folks!
Here's yet another interview I just did with Linda Faulkner.  If you've been studiously reading every single interview that I've done so far...rest assured that I do my best to answer things differently each time :)

This is going to be a big week for interviews.  I have another one for tomorrow (they actually interviewed my wife, so that's a bit of a change up for you!), and I should have one on Thursday or Friday!  I'll keep you posted!  Thanks for paying attention!

A Great "Bone Sword" Review at Edi's Book Lighthouse

Hey All!

My publisher just sent me this great review of "The Bone Sword" from Edi's Book Lighthouse.  This is a really positive review and I'm super psyched to read it!  I've been getting a lot of good feedback lately which is awesome!  Let's hope it keeps coming!


Interview with Raven and the Writing Desk

Here's another interview I did recently, this time with Raven and the Writing desk.  Incidentally, I really like the name and look of this blog.  I believe that the name comes from "Alice in Wonderland."  It's kind of a literary joke.  The Mad Hatter asks Alice "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" only to confide later that the riddle has no answer.  That, however, didn't stop thousands of people throughout the years to write Lewis Carroll and ask him what the answer was.  He eventually got so fed up that he had to come up with an answer to the riddle.  His solution: "It's NEVAR put from back to front."  Of course, when he wrote that, some clever editor got the idea that Carroll had misspelled "never" (instead of having written "RAVEN" backwards)...so the word was "corrected" and Carroll's answer made no sense.

Other famous names have come up with answers to this Riddle.  One of my favorites is "They both have inky quills" and "Poe wrote on both."

However, I think these are inherently dissatisfying because the question clearly states "Why is a raven..." and not "How is a raven..."  That leads me to believe that, subconsciously or now, Carroll was seeking out some undeniable metaphysical relationship and not a mere riddle.

Why is a Raven like a Writing desk?

To be any other way simply wouldn't fly!

That's the kind of answer that riddle needs....Anyway, enjoy my interview, digg it, like it, tweet it!

Review: Guardians of Legend: Son of Ereubus by J.S. Chancellor

I've just finished J.S. Chancellor's "Son of Ereubus" and my initial reaction is that this is the type of book that gets you thinking. Although it's a fantasy, there is very little "sword and sorcery." Instead, it is a character driven work that follows the lives of several flawed and interesting individuals. The main narrative hooks are not inevitable showdowns between obvious representations of good and evil, but are instead created by the convoluted secrets and misconceptions that develop out of intimate, long-enduring relationships. It's a different kind of fantasy, but I'm sure that if you give it a chance, this book will grab you.

"Son of Ereubus" takes place in the midst of a raging war between the Ereubinians and the Adorians. Actually it's not so much a "war" as it is a "rout" because the Adorians seem to clearly be winning. The prize they're fighting over is the human race. Let's just say that the Ereubinians have developed a "taste" for humans, especially their souls which they remove at every opportunity. But the torment doesn't end there. Ereubinians are also prone to using the zombie-like, left-over, soulless human remains as servants/slaves/wives/random-objects-of-torture/etc., in short, Ereubinians are not very nice to humans.

The Adorians are more or less the people's champions, but they've affected a kind of disinterested viewpoint of late. As the novel begins, they seem sort of resigned to let the humans fend for themselves. I found this development of particular interest since Chancellor's description of Adorians is very similar to the traditional description of an angel. They have wings, a fair complexion, and some of them are said to be of "archorigen." Add to this the fact that the Adorian leader is Michael son of Gabriel and you'll find there is plenty of religious imagery to go around.

Chancellor uses this Biblical allusion wisely and doesn't really engage the charged imagery that floats throughout her pages directly. Instead, it's just there and it gives the whole novel a kind of regal feel. For some reason I kept imagining scenes like the "reunion of the gods" moments you find in films like "Clash of the Titans" (the older version of "Clash" was better by the way). I'm not 100% that I wasn't supposed to go a little farther with the significance of these images, but I didn't feel the narrative directed me to do so.

In the end, the Adorians take a back seat to the spunky Ariana. Ariana was raised among the humans, but her heritage is a bit murky. Suffice it to say that she ends up serving as a bridge between all three worlds, those of the Ereubinians, Adorians, and humans. Ariana is an interesting figure in that she is sometimes rebellious beyond reason. I can't tell if she actually is reckless, or if I just see her that way because I am getting old (probably the later). At times, she does seem a little bit out of control, but there is little doubt that the Adorians seem to need a good swift kick in the ass and Ariana is only too happy to oblige.

Another character who needs a kick in the ass (but of a more sinister variety) is Garren. Garren is the most powerful of the Ereubinians, and responsible for the greatest portion of pain and suffering that has befallen the humans in recent memory. Still, you know what they say about girls and "bad boys," and before you know it, Ariana's making more head-strong decisions that have the rest of the characters in the novel scratching their heads and pulling their swords (sometimes simultaneously).

In the end, "Son of Ereubus" is a story about heritage, history, romance and redemption (I guess when you put it that way, the religious back-drop makes perfect sense). By the time you reach the end of the book, much is revealed, but very little has been resolved. However, that's kind of the way life is isn't it? I'm not sure resolution is what Chancellor is aiming for in this book, and I would hesitate to suspect that it's going to be the focal point of the subsequent novels in this series. Instead, the purpose of "Ereubus" is to generate a tidal wave of human emotion, and to let the reader know that they can be swept along by it as long as they like. If a raw, wonderful, and convoluted experience is what you're looking for, then "Son of Ereubus" is the book for you!

Words with Michelle Davidson Argyle, Author of "Cinders"

"Cinders" tells the story of Cinderella after she gets her prince. What prompted you to take this approach to an old classic?

It's an interesting story! In a nutshell, my daughter was obsessed with the Disney version of Cinderella and I kept seeing the trailer in front of it about Cinderella II and I thought, hmmm, a continuation of what happens AFTER. From their my imagination went wild!

Any plans to continue the stories of any other fairytale heroes?

Not for continuing stories, no, but I am publishing two more novellas that are fairy-tale themed.

What's your background with writing?

I've been writing since I was ten years old. By the time I was 18 I had written two novels and knew I wanted to be a novelist. I went to college and got my degree in English/Creative Writing and here I am! Okay, so it wasn't that simple, but you get the idea. I've been writing seriously for so long that it is just a part of the way I live.

Who are your inspirations/influences?

Annie Dillard! Her writing is what inspired me to switch my major from Technical Writing to Creative Writing in college. I'm also a huge fan of Flannery O'Conner, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Jhumpa Lahiri.

What was it like working with createspace?

Fantastic, actually! It was easy to use and their quality is pretty good. I didn't have any major hangups at all even though there are a few things I would change if I could - like how they print PROOF on all the proof copies even if there is nothing you're going to change in it. I've liked using them enough that I'll be using them for my other two novellas as well.

Who was responsible for the cover/book design and promotional video?

I did everything for the cover, design, and promotional material myself. This included hiring a seamstress to make the dress since I'm obsessed with details like that. It helps that I'm a photographer. :)

What did you do in terms of marketing/publicity?

My readers have helped a lot by accepting free copies of the book for reviews on their blogs and Amazon and Goodreads. I've held contests and did a blog tour as well. I'm also part of a bookmark exchange where we help promote other works.

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

Sadly, I have not done a radio interview. It's something I'd like to do, but I haven't stretched that far in promoting my work yet. I did have a release party which was a lot of fun, but very small. It was mostly for friends and family to purchase the book without shipping costs.

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

I currently blog at The Innocent Flower. I occasionally hold contest, do book reviews, and talk about writing. My blog is also connected to my Author Site. Come by! I'd love to see you there.

What projects do you have planned for the future?

I'm currently working on Thirds, the next novella in my fairy-tale novella series. Thirds is a retelling of the Grimm's fairy tale One-Eye, Two-Eyes, Three-Eyes. It's about a girl named Issina surrounded by beauty, magic, and love, yet none of it belongs to her. With the help of a goat and spirited elf, she discovers a way to conquer her superior sisters with a force stronger than magic.

I'm also waiting for edits on my novel Monarch, which will be released by Rhemalda Publishing in September 2011.

Is there anything else about you we should know?

You can find out more about me on my Facebook profile or my blog. It's been a pleasure interviewing with you today. Thank you!

Walter Rhein Interview with Rodney Dodig

Hello All,
Here's an interview that I just did with my friend Rodney Dodig.  He's a pretty nice guy who I met while I was working and living in Lima, Peru.  Also, "The Bone Sword" is now available on Kindle, so check that out too!