Interview with Author Nikolas Robinson

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m no good at talking about myself…I always hate this part of anything…filling out a profile on a social network site or anything else. I can’t help but wonder why anyone would care to hear about me…I find myself to be really quite boring. If I have direction, I can manage to talk about myself, so I think I’d prefer to just answer direct questions and see where those lead me…good lord, I hope that I don’t end up making a total ass of myself.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I don’t know…I’ve been reading since I knew the alphabet…and I actually started writing little illustrated stories back in 1st or 2nd grade…I actually recently rediscovered some of those insipid stories not altogether that long ago in a box of photographs and newspaper clippings that my mother passed my way. If I’m being totally honest, I feel like it was always what I was meant to be doing…the only thing that ever really made me feel complete…and somewhere along the way, in my 20’s, I lost sight of that…and lost my drive…my motivation…my mojo…whatever the hell you want to call it.

Thankfully I extracted my cranium from my anus and started writing again…and with greater focus than I had before.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Honestly, I think the biggest hurdle would be in obtaining representation of a literary agent. I made half-assed attempts to query agents with my first novel as I was approaching what I (stupidly, mind you) considered to be the final draft…and though I even happened to receive some rejections that included small amounts of praise for the sample material that was submitted along with the query letter, I did only meet with rejection.

The problem is in saturation, I think…literary agents and publishers receive so many queries and manuscripts on a daily basis that they simply can’t take the time necessary to really fall in love with someone’s material. And some of us aren’t altogether too good when it actually comes to hooking someone or adequately promoting the work. It’s hopelessly naïve, and I’m aware of that fact, to believe that the work should speak for itself (in writing and in everything else)…but I can’t get past that childish perspective for myself. I’m not equipped to shamelessly promote myself…I can’t properly cobble together treatments and summaries of what I’ve written…I already wrote the whole damn novel.

It’s that whole process between completion and sale that I think, at least personally, has to be the worst struggle…well, that and the fact that literacy isn’t exactly a high priority these days.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Well, since self-publishing was decided upon as my outlet for my first novel, I decided to cobble together a collection of various poetry and the like that I had accumulated over a handful of years and use that as a way to test out the process of formatting and assembling a work for digital publication through Amazon’s Kindle store. Thus we end up with A Wreck In Progress: Assorted Poetry.

A few months later I felt like I had adequately formatted and self-edited my first complete novel, Unspoken. Of course, it isn’t perfect, being without the benefit of having a real editor and whatnot. I do believe that it turned out fairly well, all things considered, especially for a first novel. As imperfect as it might be, the final product is still something that I am proud of.

At present those are my only two completed works, but I do have plenty of additional material that is working its way through the ridiculous, convoluted pipe that is my creative process.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I actually have entertained the thought of revisiting the protagonist from Unspoken in short fiction at some point, seeing where he is and how his situation might have changed for the worse (since I sincerely can’t even conceive of how his situation might have improved).

Bec: Rain drops or snowflakes?

Rain drops are preferable…snowflakes are what I get.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I have a couple of short stories that I’m polishing up for submission to a couple of different anthologies.

There’s a particular short story that I’m in the process of expanding to somewhere between novella and novel-length because it feels too skeletal to me in the current state.

In addition to the smaller scale material, there are four novels that I have in progress (in varying states of completion), and I’d like to pretend that I know which will be finished first, but there is a lot of fluctuation involved and I literally have no idea.

Of those four novels in progress, two are horror (zombie-related, though totally unrelated and coming at the theme from totally different directions), one is a sort of postmodern urban fantasy, and the other is a sort of horror/science fiction oriented project.

I would more than likely be finished with one or more of these projects were it not for having my children to take care of as well as needing to continue working a full-time job in healthcare (though said job does provide me with adequate downtime with which I am frequently able to get more writing out of the way).

The kids are some of my biggest supporters though, and I couldn’t be luckier, I don’t think…and I’m just glad that I can provide them with at least a half-assed example of someone who refuses to quit and continues to pursue their dreams…even when failure is a real possibility.

On top of the actual writing, I occasionally entertain the thought of working on music again, though that rarely ever grows beyond an embryonic state, which is too bad, because I have matured as a musician a great deal since my previous project was dismantled. Maybe someday I will actually begin recording again, who knows?

I’m including a link to the artist profile for my old material on last.fm though, just in case anyone is interested in seeing just how much of a goth kid I was back in the day.

(http://www.last.fm/music/Alter%20Noctvm…Alter%20Idem?ac=Alter Noctvm)

Bec: If you could create a planet for the human race to live on, what would it be like?

I don’t know…but I would want to name it Bob, like in Titan A.E. I suppose, if I am being honest, I would make it a nightmare of an environment, something terribly inhospitable where human survival is concerned…I think that the best we’re capable of being tends to arise from that sort of thing…what was it that Hitler said about privation being our strength? Wait…paraphrasing Hitler probably isn’t the best thing…well, it’s said already, and even a total nutcase like that man could say things that make sense. I hope that I haven’t offended anyone.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

I don’t know…I like rich, deep shades of blue, green, red, and purple…how’s that for a specific answer? I guess that I have a problem committing.

Bec: What’s your favorite animal? Why?

I want a lemur…I don’t know if that makes it my favorite animal, but I want one…almost desperately. I also want a wallaby. I think that I just want something that jumps and hops around absurdly…I have no idea.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

There is no binary, yes/no answer to this question for me, and it seems like a larger issue than just music. There are a number of times when I need the television on or music playing simply for the purpose of providing background noise. Occasionally I can only seem to write if I happen to go so far as to remove myself to a location where ample background noise exists independent of my producing it.

With respect to music itself though, there is one particular thing that I have in progress for which I have put together a playlist on my iPod and within iTunes so as to listen to specific tracks that seem to set the right tone for what I’m working on…songs with a particular theme, sound, or more nebulous quality to them which suits the material in question…maybe sort of a soundtrack to the movie taking place in my mind.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I have what qualifies as almost an obsession with hard-science fiction, which is probably what I read more than any other genre. Beyond that I happen to very much love horror, fantasy (urban and epic), postmodern literature, and (strange as it might seem) westerns.

Bec: If you could make up a game show for television, what would it be like?

I would like to see something incorporating masturbation…violence…and viscous fluids of an unknown nature…not separately, but used in conjunction with one another. There would be questions, obscure questions without any right/wrong answers…and the host would arbitrarily determine whether the provided answers were valid based upon whatever biases they happen to exhibit…maybe they happen to find the particular contestant attractive in some way or they dislike the sound of their voice? That seems like a fun game show to me…where there’s really no way of knowing whether you have won or lost until you are informed of the outcome. I’d like an atmosphere of tension that borders on terror…maybe go so far as to have the contestants pulled off the street after signing a waiver for something else entirely…but with small print that allows for them to be pulled into the game show without any warning…draw from that pool of people who are so desperate to experience their 15 minutes that they will sign anything if they think it might get them onto television somehow?

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

My initial impulse is to be a smartass and claim that any profession that I participate in would be a lonely one by default…but not really, not writing…I have plenty of company all the time (fictional or not). There are always my children and other loved ones in the picture as well, even when I desperately strive to find isolation.

Bec: If you could have any super power you wanted for a week, what would it be?

I don’t want a super power per se…but, if you’ve seen the movie Limitless, well…that is what I want…I want that drug more than I’ve probably ever wanted anything…what I wouldn’t give to have even a year of my life with that sort of preternatural clarity and focus.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Being essentially a beginning writer myself, at least as far as making a career of it is concerned, I really don’t feel like I am in much of a position to offer advice or anything of the sort. I can say, without any hesitation, that they shouldn’t do what I did, which is to essentially cut off that aspect of my life and stop writing altogether for a number of years. I regret that more than damn near anything…and I have plenty to regret.

Bec: Giraffe or elephant?

Elephants never forget…but I am 6’ 4”, so maybe giraffe is more appropriate? Hell, I don’t know…you decide!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

I wish that someone had told me that I was more than likely wasting my time and setting myself up for almost inevitable failure…not for any real reason, just because.

Bec: Reptile or fuzzy critter?

Since all I happen to have are fuzzy critters, I’ll have to go with that option.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

I don’t know how much it aids in growth as a writer…but it is nice to be able to discuss the topic with other people who have been where I am (even if they were there a long time ago and have long since established something more of themselves)…to just talk with people with the same passion is actually quite nice, even if the nuts and bolts of writing isn’t part of the dialogue.

Bec: Pen or pencil?

Pen

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Dune by Frank Herbert would have to be my favorite book for a number of reasons…the exploration of human potential to a totally fantastic degree…the assumption that humanity would still be around so far down the road, spread out through the galaxy and thriving while still suffering from the same ludicrous and petty power struggles that we presently experience…there’s a sort of optimism in Herbert’s work that I always loved.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Alastair Reynolds, a physicist and hard-science fiction writer. The man has a skill when it comes to extrapolation and speculation that is unparalleled in my opinion, and the scope of his writing is almost awe inspiring to me.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

I could probably manage to get my hands(?) on a VD that I could share? I don’t imagine that you, or anyone else reading this, would be even remotely interested in something like that though.

Seriously though, I just want to thank you for the opportunity to be put on the spot and forced to think about these questions in such a way as to force me to put answers together…as incoherent and ridiculous as some of those answers might actually have been.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Nikolas Robinson, 2012. All rights reserved.

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Small Presses – Warning Signs

I’ve been disgusted lately with how some small presses are conducting themselves — basically tricking people who they’ve pissed off in the past into submitting to them under a different imprint. So, I’ve decided to talk about some things you should watch for when you’re considering submitting to a small press you aren’t familiar with or that seems suspicious.

Things to check and/or watch for:

1) If a press doesn’t have a website or forum, or somewhere else that’s established for you to learn what they’re about and openly provides a way to contact them, then they’re probably not real. A real business should want to be recognized as one. (Presses that are LLCs, etc, are good presses because they’re a registered business. Nothing is a 100% guarantee, though, so don’t go by that alone.)

2) The press has multiple imprints that are publishing the same types of books.

NOTE: Having various imprints is okay, especially if they’re for different types of books or genres, but if they’re all exactly the same, that means someone is having trouble somewhere and trying to salvage themselves by pretending to be someone/something else.

3) You hear bad things from other writers you know.

NOTE: If you hear something minor from one or two people, you shouldn’t worry. Not everyone is going to have a good experience with every press they sub to. But, if you hear there have been issues from a lot of people, or there are any websites dedicated to hating the press or the owner, beware!

4) Check the Preditors & Editors site, and others like it to see if there have been reported problems.

5) Check online retailers to see if the books the press has put out have any reviews. If there are low numbers (or no) reviews for books that have been out for a long time, they aren’t marketing them, and they won’t market you. Also, the quality of the reviews should be taken into account. If you have five people giving bad reviews for poor editing, etc, then you’ll probably want to steer clear of them.

6) If their are a lot of canceled projects, or if there is a big, fast turnover in projects.

If they’re cancelling projects all the time, then you don’t want to waste your time with them because you never know when something might be dropped.

Also, if there is a big turn over in projects, then they’re not giving each one the time it deserves. It takes time to edit and format, and make sure that everything is the best quality it can be.

NOTE: Project delays are to be expected once in a while. Editors and press owners are human beings and have families and lives too, so sometimes things might get delayed for a couple weeks to a month if there are minor issues. This is not something to panic over, especially if the press has a good track record.

7) Editors being snotty or not responding to submission with acceptances or rejections. Unless it’s stated in the press’ submission guidelines that no response within a certain time period is a ‘no’, then they should get back to you. If they haven’t, it’s okay to query and see if they’ve received your submission (Email submissions sometimes don’t make it through, and even paper ones can get lost.). This is usually best done when they’ve announced that they’ve made a TOC or accepted all stories they will be using, or before. Don’t bug an editor — I can even get snippy with people that do that. I don’t mind an occasional email asking about the project though, if it has been a while since I’ve contacted everyone.

These are just a few things to look for before you submit. Keep in mind you might have success with presses others didn’t, and that you’re eventually going to have a bad experience with a press; it’s inevitable. How you choose to deal with that when it happens is up to you.

When I get disappointed or have a break with a press that I’ve previously worked well with, I move on and warn people I know privately if I know they’re thinking of submitting there. It looks very unprofessional when you’re on Facebook or Twitter ranting about things. Mostly, I think it makes the people reading the comments think: “If they acted like that with the publisher, that explains why they had issues.” In essence, you’re often times drawing more negative attention to yourself than you are to the press that you’re pissed at.

Personally, I choose not to give things more importance than they have. It’s like with writing… You don’t drag someone’s attention to something unless it’s important and will play a part in the later parts of the tale. Otherwise it’s worthless info that makes you look bad.

Besides, they say all publicity is good publicity. Don’t give them your time when you can spend it wisely elsewhere, and don’t be their angry billboard!

Find out some things for yourself before you submit your work anywhere. Ultimately it’s up to you what you do with your writing and where you want it to be published. Just watch for warning signs and go in with your eyes open so you have less of a chance of getting burned in the long run.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Jeffrey Kosh

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Jeff: Hi, Rebecca, first thing first let me say it’s a great honor being interviewed by one of my favorite authors, and a pretty lady, too.
Me? I’m nobody; I’m the guy you notice seating alone in a corner at the great party. He’s sharp dressed, reserved, and alone. Come closer and you find a different guy. He never shuts up, is full of weird stories to tell, likes to share everything he knows, and has a good sense of humor.
Have you figured that guy? Come on there’s one at every event.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

Jeff: I was blessed and cursed with a bright imagination from birth. I’m a creative person; my studies were in the Arts, and I practiced drawing, painting, and writing. I wrote many stories, but was too afraid to publish them. Some were good, some … well, they were just awful, but the ugly truth is that I grew up in a family which didn’t believe in me. I was never encouraged in anything which I cared for. So, ended doing an odd job or the other, before finding my own way, and finally find some peace. However, five years ago there was a steer of direction in my life and I decided to believe in myself, by applying for everything I loved. Writing was one of those things.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Jeff: First: lack of patience. Hurrying up, creating stories on the fads of the moment because that will surely bring attainment in the earnest, leads to nothing. Success, if it ever shows up, is something you achieve only with dedication and love for what you are writing.
Write a story because you want to read it; do not write it because it will be the next Harry Potter or Twilight, but you don’t like either.
Second: Marketing. Today’s writers need good marketing skills or someone else who can do that for them. Self-promotion sells more than potential best-sellers, sadly.
And editing, editing, editing. Never underestimate editing.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Jeff: ‘Feeding the Urge’ is a complex story. The main character, Axel J. Hyde, is a weird individual, a big boy with the soul of a ten-year-old kid. Pacific in appearance, Axel hides a second personality; that of an impulsive serial murderer. Yet, it’s easy to sympathize with him once you discover he slices and dices only pedophiles, rapists, and stalkers. Apparently, he has an obsession for wiping out those he feels responsible for his traumatized infancy. Nonetheless he’s not Batman, he kills people because he feels an urge to do it. In fact, he believes that a spirit of murder and revenge rides him as Voodoo’s Loas do with their hosts, feeding from the ‘Essence’ of their pain. To better understand this concept I should reveal many parts of my novel, so better leave the rest for the reader to discover.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Jeff: Not now. It took seven months to pen down ‘Feeding’, with a lot of revision and changes in the middle.
A 90,000 words novel can be tiresome. From start I decided that it would be a self-contained story with no possibility for a sequel, but the thing had its own plans in the final draft, so with this new ending I devised there’s clearly space for eventual sequels. The fate of Axel hangs in the hands of the readers; if there will be enough enthusiasm over this character I’ll surely extend his life.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

Jeff: I just finished and submitted to a publisher a short story set in the Golden Age of Piracy. It is a zombie story in an alternate timeline, yet I can’t disclose more. Can just say it is based on the legend of the Black Freighter. One year ago I novelized a graphic novel to test my writing skills. Obviously, to avoid any copyright infringement I offered it for free to my Facebook fans and friends. I called it a serial chiller, because I released it one chapter a week as a parting gift before leaving for Thailand. It was very successful, but it even resulted in one of my followers to delete friendship as she judged my writing too graphic and ‘ghoulish’.
I’m also working on an anthology of tales set in my fictional town of Prosperity Glades and another one based on Urban Legends from Thailand.

Bec: Shower or bath?

Jeff: Bath, absolutely! Pleasure is something which is best achieved slowly.

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Jeff: Black. I love dark nights, bats, panthers, and black clothes. Besides, in my teen years I was a headbanging Heavy Metal fan, and later went into Goth culture.

Bec: Dance or sing?

Jeff: None of the above. Yet, would you believe I was selected at 8 to sing in a kid’s chorus. I hated it and did all my best to be thrown out. As for dancing … I have two concrete shoes at my feet.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

Jeff: I’d love to have complete silence, but here in Ao Nang it’s almost impossible. There’s no privacy, and Thai are active 24/24. Add to that the hundred of tourists who come here to enjoy a good time, and you get the picture. Excuse me a minute … I have to get out and chainsaw that darn German who keeps talking loudly at his cell phone under my porch.

Bec: What’s your favorite food?

Jeff: You should ask the contrary. There’s only one thing I can’t stand and that’s melon. The rest goes into my stomach.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Jeff: Horror for writing. As for reading, anything I find interesting, paying special attention to science fiction.

Bec: What time of day do you like to write?

Jeff: Night. My wife sleeps, that German guy SHOULD sleep, and those pesky Thai are out jumping from bar to bar.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Jeff: No. It depends by your character. I know writers who are quite extroverted, and others who are shy. In itself, the act of writing is, and must be, an inner working; however once you close your laptop you can share your experience with other people for suggestions and criticism.

Bec: Clowns or mimes?

Jeff: Do not even mention them. Clowns are scary to me and mimes … I do not want to offend anyone, so let’s just say I do not have sympathy for both, as you can see in the first chapter of my novel. Kamp Koko is a clown-themed summer camp.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Jeff: Anything. I have no secrets. I strongly believe in sharing, that’s one of the things which make our life worth living. My best suggestion is to believe in what you do. Perseverance and faith.

Bec: Loud or quiet?

Jeff: Usually quiet. Yet surrounded by LOUD people.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Jeff: Four words: I believe in you.

Bec: Chocolate or strawberry?

Jeff: What about strawberries covered by hot chocolate while having a hot bath?

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Jeff: Absolutely. I like to get criticism from fellow writers, and their praises, too.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Jeff: ‘Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus’. I’ve felt like Frankenstein’s monster for much of my life. Lately, during the creation of ‘Feeding the Urge’ I’ve felt some sympathy for Victor, too.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Jeff: Mary Shelly. She wrote that unreachable book and was a courageous woman. Next come Michael Slade, even if that is just a collective pen name of various Canadian writers. I was heavily influenced by their writing style: lot of details, passion for history and some morbid stuff.
Also, loved Michael Crichton and Stephen King.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Jeff: Yes. I host a blog where I try to post interesting issues on Horror and writing by me, other authors, editors, and readers. I even interviewed an Esperanto aficionado once, nothing to do with horror, but I felt it was a fascinating topic. I like offering space to people who want to share something.
Here goes the link, if you care: http://jeffreykosh.blogspot.com/
You can also follow my tweets at: twitter.com/#!/JeffreyKosh or add me to your circles on Google + and visit my novel’s fan page at: http://www.facebook.com/feeding.the.urge
If you want to know more about Prosperity Glades, Dr. Axel Hyde will be your host at: http://www.facebook.com/axel.j.hyde

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Jeff: Thanks Rebecca, and keep on writing. We need to know what’s going on in California.

 

©Rebecca Besser & Jeffrey Kosh, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Charles Day and his alter ego, The Evil Jester

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

Hey everyone, I’m Charles Day. Father, husband, Adult Home Coordinator with my day job, publisher of non-fiction and fiction — writer by night and early AM!

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I just love to create imaginary worlds from the voices that dictate what they’ve experienced. I’m also an avid reader, I watch a ton of movies, and I’ve always wanted to be a movie director and do screenplays. I guess by writing fiction, it helps me to achieve some of these desires; I feel I’m making movies out of my writing.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

For me, first and foremost, I have to be sure I’ve done my best to tell a story that will entertain. Then it’s building up a readership, writing stories that are different from everything else that’s out there, and being able to accept the fact that you really have to be a shameless self-promoter. But, if you truly have a story you believe in, and know for sure many people are going to like it, it helps boost confidence in promoting.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

Okay, I’ll try. My newest release, “Legend of The Pumpkin Thief,” with Noble YA Publishers LLC,  is a story that revolves around, Nick, a seventeen-year-old who wants to go on to college and eventually sit for the police exam. His ultimate goal is to be a detective someday. As the story develops, he becomes involved in doing some early detective work when some pumpkins suddenly disappear in his small town of Chesterville.

An urban legend foretells of a Pumpkin Thief who chooses a town each Halloween, stealing the pumpkins so his ghosts, goblins, and other Halloween creatures can have their right to free passage into this chosen town. Without the pumpkins to keep them away, they have free sovereignty to wreak terror and mayhem. Is Nick’s town the chosen one this year?

Although this is a young adult novel, my first actually, it’s fun for all ages. I had a blast writing this, and I’m excited to be working on my next YA novel for them. I really enjoy writing for this genre.

My novella, “Lockdown,” with Wicked East Press included in Hannibal’s Manor is about a young guy with a mental illness who lives with his mother. He’s a huge kid for twenty — think of Micheal Meyers in the Halloween remake — and he also has something supernatural going on. Well, he winds up on a secured psych unit and the staff are about to find out that mental illness and the supernatural just do not mix.

“The Plan: A Mystery,” with Naked Snake Press is about this guy, Frankie who comes into a large amount of cash, but in order to retrieve it, he’s taking along a few of his friends. Little do they all know they are being set up — a conspiracy is about to go down, and Frankie and his boys are in for trouble.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

Not yet. I would love to do a sequel for the Pumpkin Thief, but I want to see how well received it is first. And if I do, I’m in contract with Noble Publishers to send it to them first, which I would do anyway, contract or not. They are a great publisher to work with. But, yeah, that would be the one.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

My horror novel, “Deep Within,” with Twisted Library Press will be out later this year, and I’ve been working on edits for a while. It’s an 80,000 word novel, and it’s taking some time to make it the best it can be before we release it.

My YA western trilogy was just accepted on the 29th of January, one of a few projects that were still under consideration from 2011. Kyle McGertt, Destroyer of the Indian Curses, Book 1, Hunt for The Ghoulish Bartender will be out Nov/Dec 2012.

Deadly Workout, a novella is slated to be released later this year by Dopomalvi Books. Another mystery I wrote in 2011.

And then there is, “Redemption,” still under consideration with a publisher. A collaborative novella about two guys who accidentally kill a young girl in a hit and run. Problem is, they should never have left her to die. I tell the story from Al Fudrucker’s POV, and Mark Taylor tells his story from Benny Fairwether’s. Two separate stories, but the reader will see how they closely interrelate. Evil is coming and it just became furry!!

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Blue, and black!!

Bec: If you were walking down the road and you saw a zombie walking along the opposite side of the road, what would you do?

Hell, I’d turn and run my ass off. I’m not ‘bout to let him start munching on my small brains! Hehehe!

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

I do both, whatever mood I’m in when I go to the table to begin writing.

Bec: What is the Evil Jester’s favorite thing to eat for supper?

Whatever small animals he can find when he leaves my house late at night, on the prowl for dinner.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

Horror, fantasy, thrillers, graphic novels, comics, mystery, and YA. I’ve noticed I’ve been genre jumping lately with my published works. I wrote two mysteries, adult horror, YA horror, and have some other ideas in the future. I go with the best story from the voices in my head, and I do my best to bring it to fruition.

Bec: How long does it take the Evil Jester to do his hair/make-up in the morning? Does he carry a small purse with him so he can fix his evil make-up, should it smudge while he’s goring it up?

Hehehehe. I’ll let him answer that. Hold on. Charlie, Bec has a question for you.

*The evil little jester opens his lid, pops out of his box using his galvanized slinky spring and leans over my shoulder to answer Bec’s question.*

“Ah, my dear, dear Rebecca, one of my first writer buds. I must admit it takes some time to do up my evil face in the AM. I do not carry a small purse, because as you know, I live in a dingy old box. Which by the way, I’d love to have you come on down one day and break some bread with me at the dinner table. We have so, so much to converse about.”

Okay, Charlie, thank you my evil little friend.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

Hell no!! Between the voices, my characters that come alive to play with me in their fictitious world, and the evil little muse of mine who lives in a jester box, I’m never truly alone.

Bec: Has the Evil Jester ever run away and started mayhem in a crowded place?

I think we all know the answer to that one, the little devil.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

When you go to do your first draft, remember no one is going to see it but you. Take your time, but do not keep stopping and going back to redo this and that. Just get the story down on paper. You have many more edits to do from there anyway. And when you feel it’s polished, give it to a fresh set of eyes. And then, go find a publisher.

Bec:  Has the Evil Jester ever bitten a cat?

Nope. He has bitten me on many occasions though; I can show you the bite marks. He hates when I reach down into his jester box! I know what many are thinking right now…dirty minds! Heheehehe!

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

Don’t do it! Heehehe!! Actually I think if someone told me: “Charles, you’re an extremist, a go getter, you have an addictive personality. If you start writing and find you love it, you’re going to be doing it for a very long time.” I would heed there advice and think about what I was getting into. Now…I can’t stop.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

Oh, yes, absolutely. I love my writer friends. They are so supportive. I also have three that are my mentors, Gregory L. Norris, Peter Giglio, and Hollie Snider. And then there is someone I’ve looked up to for a few years now, Vince Liaguno, Author, Publisher and Board Member for the HWA. He had many conversations with me when I first started and I’ll never forget those. And Gregory was there when I was ready to quit, getting rejection after rejection. Oh, yeah, you have to have writer friends and mentors to survive in this publishing industry.

Bec: Do you have any story ideas you think are too messed up to write?

Nope!!

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

Right now, my favorite book was The Heart Shaped Box by Joe Hill. My all time favorite book was Lord of The Rings when I was a kid. I had so much fun being in that world. I know I have others and I may have mentioned those in other interviews. I just love to read and have enjoyed so many.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Stephen King. I’m in awe of everything he writes.

Bec: If you were going to take the Evil Jester on vacation, where would he want to go and what would he want to do there?

To a remote location up in the mountains, in a log cabin!!

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

You didn’t ask me do I wear boxers or briefs. Hehehehe!!  Someone asked me that on an interview. Nope, I think you covered everything.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

Thank you, Bec, I had a great time!!!

 

©Rebecca Besser & Charles Day, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Rusty Fischer

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –
Russ: I’m a freelance writer who decided to quit waiting for the zombies to show up at his door and write about them instead. So I wrote a little book called Zombies Don’t Cry, and decided to stick with zombies for awhile. (Okay, with the occasional vampire thrown in for good measure.)
Bec: What first got you interested in writing?
Russ: Judy Blume, in particular. Being a dork, in general.
 
Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing or marketing?
Russ: Though it’s far from easy, I am much more comfortable with the writing than the marketing. I think because I can at least control the writing, while marketing is more out of my control. I think that’s why most of my marketing is writing-centered, i.e. I wrote a lot of FREE zombie and vampire stories and poems to help market my book-length stuff, because rather than a simple banner ad or something, I could at least control the content.
 
Bec: Tell us about your book/s –
Russ: I write about dorks, who just happen to be zombies and vampires – or hunting zombies and vampires, or zombies hunting vampires, whatevs. I write about zombies when I want to start from scratch with a new mythology, and I write about vamps when I want to take existing mythology and tweak it a smidge. I think both genres appeal to me because they’re about immortality, and I like to play with that, especially for a YA audience because I think life and death are so real to them. But mostly, it’s about the dorks.
Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?
Russ: I am (hush, hush) working on a sequel to Zombies Don’t Cry!
Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?
Russ: Right now I’m pretty busy marketing my new book, Vamplayers, which surprisingly ISN’T about zombies but is hopefully fun anyway. So I’m writing a lot of guest posts for that, talking to lots of bloggers and reviewers, working on some new FREE vampire short stories and poems. It’s kind of nice to work on different stuff than a book for a change, but I can already feel that “itch” and am keeping my eyes open for the next book idea.
Bec: What’s your favorite color?
Russ: Tan. (I don’t get out much.)
Bec: Chocolate chip cookies or brownies?
Russ: Sorry, I’m a pop tart man!
Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?
Russ: I listen to light jazz Christmas music while I write, which is as close as you can come to complete silence.
Bec: If you could walk on the ceiling once where would you want to do it at?
Russ: I’m a big West Wing fan, so I’d have to say the White House. Either that, or George Clooney’s place on Lake Cuomo or whatever; that could be fun. Yeah, sorry Barack; let’s go with that one.
Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?
Russ: If I’m reaching for a book to read for pleasure, it’s either a straight forward, hardboiled crime/detective novel ala Michael Connelly or Jonathan Kellerman or a quirky YA supernatural like Fat Vampire.
Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?
Russ: Yeah, but I’m a loner anyway. I honestly don’t mind it and, frankly, can’t really write in public or jointly or even pretty much in the same room with another human.
Bec: If you were trapped in your car with a wild boar, what would you do?
Russ: Die, slowly and miserably. Zombie writer or no, I have zero survival skills; zero.
Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?
Russ: Just keep writing, period. Don’t let rejection stop you, the odds stop you, more rejection stop you, the advice of friends or family or even professionals. Writers write; it’s what we do.
Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?
Russ: See above answer, seriously. I finally confessed to the head of my English department that I wanted to be a writer and he told me, no joke, to “get a job.” I understand now what he meant; writing is hard to make a living at but, still. That’s what everybody says and if you can’t tell someone to follow their dream in college, when can you tell them?
Bec: What would you be willing to do to the leprachan to get his pot of gold?
Russ: What “do”? I thought you just found the end of the rainbow and that’s that; that I’ll do, nothing more! (I’m more of a silver man myself, anyway…)
 
Bec: Do you think having other writers as friend is a good thing for your growth as a writer?
Russ: I honestly haven’t had a ton of other writer friends until I got on Facebook and Twitter, but now I can definitely say that interacting with writers – authors, bloggers, reviewers, whatever – is totally essential for a working writer. Yes, writing is solitary and I’m fine with all that, but when you get a bad review or have a publishing question or just want to vent or laugh at one of those demotivational posters on Facebook, it really helps to have support. I’ve learned and shared so much this past year simply because of the connections I’ve made through social media.
Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?
Russ: My favorite book is Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt. There’s a scene in it where he writes about eating fish and chips rolled in newspaper that literally made me taste the salt and grease and I’ve never forgotten it. It’s more than just that once scene, of course; all the scenes are like that. Plus he didn’t publish until he was in his later years and, at this pace, that’s a real inspiration to me.
Bec: Where is your favorite place to hide?
Russ: Back row, left corner, feet up in the movie theater; always, every time.
Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?
Russ: Stephen King, period. I may not read every book he’s written over the years, but I’ll never forget his impact on me as a young writer, what I felt like – the epic excitement I felt – when I read the Stand and every time I *do* pick up a new book by the King, I’m sucked in easily and quickly.
Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?
Russ: I’m a Capricorn; that explains a lot.
Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!
Russ: Thank you for having me!
©Rebecca Besser & Rusty Fischer, 2012. All rights reserved.

The Truth — Editing IS Important

After reading this article:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/01/30/indie-authors-struggle_n_1242935.html

I find that there’s a lot of truth in what it said. As many of you may or may not know, I’m not only a writer, but an editor as well. I’ve mostly edited anthologies for various small presses. I can tell you, straight up, that yes writers need to learn to edit better. Maybe that’s why I cringe so much over self-publishing, because I know that most all authors have no idea how to use basic grammar and punctuation! The biggest area where most writers are lacking is punc in dialogue, and this is something you can learn from reading and paying attention.

Being an editor can in itself be a nightmare because of the authors who resist even the slightest change.

I’m going to share two of my recent editing experiences with you, but I’m not going to name names.

I was asked by a small press to edit a single author collection recently. It was okay, but overall I wasn’t impressed with the author’s collection. I did my best to make it better — something that can be done by simple editing — but the author fought me the entire way, as did the press. Apparently things like consistency, pacing, and accurate research didn’t matter to either of them. Still, I barreled on, letting them have their way. Hell, as long as they were happy, right? I finished the project, sent it in and thought we were done. Then they went behind my back and reedited the book without telling me. I was really mad at first, but now, looking back a couple months later, I’m glad my name isn’t on it.

Flip side.

At the same time I was editing the collection, I was editing a novel for someone who gave me permission to change anything I wanted. I had fun with this project, and once I sent it back to the author, they were told (when they submitted it) that it was the best edited manuscripts they’d ever had submitted. Needless to say, this author wants me to work with them on future projects.

Granted, no, I’m not perfect. No editor is and you will find mistakes in every book you read; it’s just a matter of you knowing they’re mistakes. Most basic readers won’t notice some of the smaller mistakes in punctuation, because they themselves don’t know the rules, but the stronger readers do know, and they’re the ones giving the reviews. They’re the ones willing to spend money to buy your book.

I think that one of the reasons the ‘free ebooks’ are good for self-published writers in that the consumer won’t really complain about it not being perfect, because, after all, they’re not out anything other than reading time and they might think your story was cute. This leaves the door wide open for anyone — who can string words into something that looks like a sentence — a place in the publishing world. It’s not a grand place, but they feel good because they can tell everyone they have a book out. I can promise you though, they aren’t going to be raving about your book to their friends or anything. You aren’t going to get a fan base or a following unless you put some effort into it.

If you want to actually do something with your writing, you have to take it serious before anyone else will. You have to learn plot, characterization, pacing, consistency, punctuation:EDITING. Or, you’re going to have to get someone to do it for you, and let them do it. You’re going to have to shell out some cash to get your book professionally edited.

Warning, though, this can be a trap too. Some editors aren’t that much better at editing than the self-publishing grammar slobs (not all of them are, some do know what they’re doing, but it’s a select few). You should read something edited by the person you want to have edit your stuff, or at least ask for a sample or references.

With me also being a writer, most people who ask me to edit for them have read my stuff. But, if possible, I still give them a reference.

A sample can be very simple. Ask them to edit a paragraph up to a page of your manuscript — I mean, if you’re going to shell out up to $800 for a professional edit (yes, it could be that much), you want to know you’re going to be happy with the product you’re getting back, right?

Another quick editing experience I had once… A press I was working with asked me to proof read a book one of their authors had paid someone to edit for them. OMG, it was a mess. Their run on sentences were out of control and I had to insert commas everywhere, and spelling inconsistencies, wrong words, plot holes, etc, were rampant. I could not believe this book had ever been edited. Shouldn’t an editor know the difference between isle and aisle? *groan*

It’s not easy editing, and that’s why all of us hate it so much. But if it’s done right, editing can make your book shine and make you look good!

So, either take the time to learn what you need to know to make your work better, or find someone who can help you. Because if you want to be taken serious as an author, you have to first take your work serious and put your best manuscript forward.

 

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©Rebecca Besser, 2012. All rights reserved.

Interview with Author Adam Millard

Bec: Welcome to my blog, please start out by sharing a little bit about yourself –

I’m an author of mainly horror and dark fantasy.  I currently have nine novels available, and my short stories can be found in anthologies across the world.  I’m father to a nine month-old son, which is a lot more difficult than anything else I’ve tried my hand at.  I’m currently working on a device that can mute nine month-old babies without causing lasting damage to their motor-functions.

Bec: What first got you interested in writing?

I started writing at a very early age.  I was really into Richard Laymon and Shaun Hutson, and by thirteen I had read everything my local library had to offer by both authors.  Stephen King was a massive influence; I read The Stand, which I think was the book that made me want to start writing.  I was hooked on books by Whitley Strieber and James Herbert when I decided to sit down and give it a go, myself.  I had an old typewriter and would just clack away for hours, creating these mini space-operas.  I wish I still had those, now.  It would be interesting, to say the least.

Bec: What are the worst struggles you think writers face, writing and marketing?

Certainly the Kindle has made a massive difference to the publishing industry; things are a lot easier, now.  I think the main struggle is selling a book once it’s released.  You’ve done all of the hard work, you’ve spent six months, a year, whatever, getting your manuscript up to scratch, and you’ve formatted and released it as an eBook.  Why isn’t anybody reading it?  It’s magnificent, better than half of the shit on the NYT Bestseller list, and yet it has ended up at propping up the charts.  The main struggle, I think, is getting people to initially take a chance on an unknown author.  Marketing is hard work, harder than writing the book in the first place.

Bec: Tell us about your book/s –

The books I am probably best known for are my zombie series.  Dead West, Dead Cells, and the soon-to-be-released Dead Frost, are post-apocalyptic zombie novels, each with their own twist.  I have a collection of macabre stories, Chasing Nightmares, a brutal re-imagining of a Charles Dickens classic – Olly, and a YA comedy-horror called Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie.  My first book to be published, Only In Whispers, is getting a re-release later on this year, and my comedy-fantasy books, The Ballad Of Dax and Yendyll and Grimwald The Great, are being released as an hardcover omnibus.

Bec: Are you working on a sequel/s?

I’m working on the fourth and fifth books in my Dead series, and a sequel to Peter Crombie, Teenage Zombie is also on the cards.

Bec: What other projects are you working on or involved with?

I have a lot of stuff coming out this year through various publishers.  I’m currently working with Chris Taggart, my illustrator, on a one-shot comic of Dead Cells, which should be out in time for Christmas.

Bec: If you were the last man on Earth and there were twenty women, how would you handle the situation?

Not well.  I think I’ve had this dream, and if I recall it ended very badly.  Twenty women?  That’s a lot for any man to have to try to deal with.  Do I have a weapon?

Bec: What’s your favorite color?

Purple, or black.  No purple…erm, I don’t have one.  Anything darker than my soul.

Bec: Do you like to listen to music while you write or have complete silence?

I sometimes write in complete silence, and other times I have to listen to the most ear-grinding death-metal I can get my hands on.  If I’m writing a particularly nasty scene, I think the music helps.

Bec: If you had to wear bright pink spandex or blazen orange polyester short suit to go on TV, which would you wear?

Pink Spandex, every time.  I think a certain element of eccentricity can be expected from an author.  I’d probably wear a top-hat with it, and carry an umbrella.

Bec: What genres do you most like to read/write?

I read everything I can get my hands on.  Horror, Sci-fi, Fantasy, anything except romance.  I can’t be doing with all that nonsense.  I’m rereading the classics at the moment: Jeckyll And Hyde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1984, The Martian Chronicles.  I haven’t read The Stand yet this year, which is very strange, indeed.

Bec: Do you find writing a lonely profession?

I think that it has to be.  In order to tell your story – and that’s what it is; your story – you have to fully submerse yourself in it.  There is no other way to do it.  Often, my wife doesn’t even know what I’m working on.  I’ll tell her a few months down the line that a story has been picked up, and she’ll say something like, “That sounds like a great story. Why didn’t you tell me about it?”  The fact is, we work alone, we think too much, and we’re brooding.  I’m just glad I quit drinking when I did.

Bec: Gum or breath mint?

Gum.  Breath mints are dangerous if you don’t approach them with the caution they deserve.  Always read the instructions, and never attempt more than one at a time.

Bec: What would you share with a beginning writer?

Learn to deal with rejection.  If you cry at the sight of negative feedback, then choose another profession.

Bec: What do you wish someone would have told you when you first started your writing journey?

See above.  I cry a lot, but I’m stubborn.

Bec: Fuzzy critter or feathered friend?

Fuzzy critter.  I have two rabbits and a cat.  I inherited the cat, and can’t say I’m a massive fan as it is a minion of Satan, but I love the rabbits.  I’m hugely into owls, though.  I’d love an owl, just sitting in the corner watching me work.  My wife won’t let me get one, though, because you have to feed them mice, and she’s against all forms of animal cruelty, even if they are frozen.

Bec: Do you think having other writers as friends is a good thing for your growth as a writer?

It is massively important to surround yourself with like-minded people.  Writers are apt to go crazy if left alone for too long.  There comes a point where you have to stop writing and network, and the best way to do that is through social sites such as Facebook or Twitter.  You will find critics, editors, reviewers and readers all through networking, so I would say get to know as many writers as possible.  If nothing else, at least you’ll have somebody to cry with when the rejections start to roll in.

Bec: Take out the trash or do the dishes?

Trash.  It takes twenty seconds, maybe less.  I’m all about the maths.  By the time you get back into the house, the sink would still be filling up.  Though, I do both.  My wife thinks that being a writer means that I don’t actually work, not in the conventional sense, and so I do everything around the house, including nappies, bottles, baking, and occasionally a bit of writing.

Bec: What’s your favorite book? Why?

For me, it has to be The Stand.  It’s just magnificent; a tale of Good Vs Evil.  I find myself drawn to both sides every time I read it, which is why I urge everyone to pick it up.

Bec: Who’s your favorite author? Why?

Stephen King, purely because I wouldn’t be a writer today if I hadn’t read everything he’s ever put out.  It’s a close call, though, as Terry Pratchett is also a major influence.

Bec: Is there anything you would like to share that I haven’t asked you about?

Yeah.  My wife likes Twilight.  That is all.

Bec: Thank you for stopping by and sharing! Best of luck with your book and future project!

 

©Rebecca Besser & Adam Millard, 2012. All rights reserved.

Author Rebecca Besser's Blog