The Next Big Thing

Being an indie author isn’t the easiest prospect. There are long, grueling hours of writing topped with longer, more grueling hours of marketing, promotion, creative design, editing, contact and platform building. The list is endless.

Promotion seems to be one of the hardest aspects. Independent authors rarely have the means to advertise like the major publishers, so we must be super selective on our choice of avenues. Sometimes this means we have to use our best instinct on what ones will be the most productive. Occasionally we’re correct; other times, we’re not so lucky.

But one aspect of writing has always been easy – the reliance on community support (namely other authors) to help showcase, spotlight, and promote their fellow brothers-in-arms a.k.a. writers. Because, while we are all competition for one another, we are also all in the same foxhole, braving out the blustery storm of “I’m not really much of a reader, you know” together.

Last week (and yes, I am a day late on posting this article) my old friend J. Travis Grundon (click his name for a link to the article and his website) tagged me in his post regarding his writing and published works. This week, I am going to pay it forward to a couple other writers I know. Each post is supposed to contain five tagged authors to carry on the tradition but, the loser that I am, I’m coming into this particular blog tag a little late and most people I know have already played. Also I simply don’t know that many people; I’m selective about my friends, and even more selective about my writers.

Now that I’ve gotten that long-winded explanation out of me. On with The Nest Big Thing blog chain!


1) What is the working title of your newest book?
A Touch of Madness

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
While writing A Touch of Darkness, I came up with the idea for a loosely-based sequel. It started off with a random bit of scientific information that wouldn’t fit (no matter how hard I pushed) into Darkness, so I opted to create an entire second story for the characters to utilize that data. That and writing in Abbey’s world is just plain fun.

3) What genre does your book fall under?
It depends on who you ask. I classify it as Paranormal Mystery; others are Paranormal Romantic Suspense. Amazon likes to group it under Urban Fantasy.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
While I use models to help build general appearances for my characters, and to quick reference when writing and keeping continuity in check, I don’t have specific actors in mind most of the time. But, for Abbey, I know I’d probably need to look internationally. She needs to have an indelible African beauty that is often difficult to find in America. 

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Psychics, serial killers, and sex.

6) Is your book be self-published or represented by an agency? My books are published by Insomnious Press. IP has no particular focus but has published works in urban and traditional fantasy to date. It is the home of James Bowers and myself. Their brother company, Glorious Bastards Press, is the home of J.Travis Grundon and Joe Schwartz. GB focuses on general and transgressive fiction. 

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
The first draft took longer than I would have liked. However, I was also finishing A Touch of Darkness at the time and collaborating on a short story anthology with fellow authors J. Travis Grundon and James Bowers called Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. All-in-all I’d say A Touch of Madness took me a little over one year to finish the first manuscript. Then there was the editing – oy vey!

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
While I’ve heard it compared to the sass of Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake series and Charlene Harris’s Sookie Stackhouse series, I like to think that Abbey and her world are unique. First, I don’t write about the traditional urban fantasy staples – vampires, werewolves, witches, or angels and demons; second, because no two writers are ever the same. And, while books might be similar, no two books by different authors are the same.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Self preservation from cranial explosion. Or, my head would explode. When I’m inspired to write, there is little that will keep me from doing it. I write half in the sense of writing for me, but also with the knowledge that many people enjoy reading the types of stories I’m writing.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
A Touch of Darkness and A Touch of Madness aren’t your happily ever after sort of books. While there are cozy aspects to them, Abbey as a heroine is a train wreck. The story might wrap up neat in each book, but Abbey’s personal life will always have a mess left to be cleaned up.

I have tagged a few authors I think everyone should know about. Kenzie Michaels is a good friend and stalwart supporter. She writes in the avenue of adult smut. Benjamin Martinson is also a good friend (and worked with me on the cover photo for A Touch of Madness). You want epic fantasy, Benjamin is your man. And Stephen Hines is a recently-acquired writing friend. I had the honor of sitting beside him and his wife at a convention this summer and a good time and conversation was had by all. He writes satirical humor.


As you can plainly see, I do not have five fellow authors to support. Nor have I supported anyone within my specific genre. I didn’t do this for the obvious competition factor but because these are three writers whom I enjoy and think my readers will also enjoy. I hope my readers will give them a chance.


Kenzie Michaels is the alter-ego of milder-mannered Molly Daniels, who resides in southern Indiana. She writes about the wilder side of romance, and wants readers to join her for the ride. Personally, I believe Kenzie is the personality I karaoke with on a semi-regular basis but Molly often tags along as well. 


You can find Kenzie’s work on her blog You can also follow her on Twitter @KenzieMichaels


Benjamin Martinson studied journalism at Indiana University, is a photographer, devilish dancer, and all around nice guy. His real passion is writing stories; fantasy, fiction, or whatever inspires him. Benjamin’s favorite authors are R. A. Salvatore and Robert Jordan. He has penned Nature of the Beast, a short story, and is in the process of publishing his full-length fantasy novel.


Find Benjamin online on Google+


Stephen Hines was born a poor white boy in a little hick town up north (Willard: where the men are men & the sheep are nervous) in Ohio & moved to southwestern OH in 1998. Now he’s an older, pasty white boy who works too much (he teaches, therefore he is insane). Stephen specializes in satirical humor and comics/graphic novels and is all around fun to hold a conversation with.

 Find Stephen on Facebook 



A special thanks to J.Travis Grundon for tagging me and making me a part of this series of questioning.

J.Travis Grundon  is a father, writer, published author, and screen writer, amongst many more feathers in his hat. I just call him my best friend. J. Travis Grundon has served as an editor and contributor on Forrest J Ackerman’s Anthology of the Living Dead. His books Eclectic Collection and Happy Hour Blues are a feast of fiction, that illustrates his love, and craft of short stories.


His other work can found in the Silven Trumpeter, the Tecumseh Review, Scars, Paracinema, Twisted Dreams and The Monsters Next Door magazine. Other works include stories for Help – An Anthology To Benefit Preditors and Editors, Concrete Blood: Dark Tales of the City, Toe Tags 2 and Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction.
What People Say About Him…
“J. Travis Grundon is a visionary. You better watch out!” – Nicholas Grabowsky, Red Wet Dirt/ Black Bed Sheet Books
What I Say About Him…
“J. Travis Grundon ‘s stories are as familiar as sitting down to afternoon tea, but his ideas are as exotic and intoxicating as a good stiff shot added to the mix.” – B.C. Brown
Find J. Travis online at www.jtravisgrundon.blogspot.com or on Amazon or Twitter

You can find my work and J. Travis Grundon’s in our book Fracas: A Collection of Short Friction. You can also find links to our Amazon author pages from this book listing. Check it out if you are a fan of unforgettable short fiction! You can also find some of Benjamin Martinson’s photography on the cover of my latest work, A Touch of Madness.

Random Rant 87: Condescending Pricks

Condescending pricks.

These are the people who say idiotic things like:

  • That’s not a word. You’re an author; shouldn’t you know that’s not a word?

Yes, I am an author. Which means I know it’s not a word in the dictionary, as defined by today’s standards. However, as a writer (of fiction), this means I reserve the creative license to make up any muthafuckin’ word I please to get my point across.

  • I won’t watch the movie because the book was perfect. I couldn’t stand it if they changed the book.

Congratulations, you read a book. Did you really feel it necessary to announce to the whole world how literate you are? One) A book and a movie are different animals. There is no possible way a book can ever completely translate to the silver screen – things will be edited, added, or ix-nayed entirely. B) Unless the director is also the author of the book, there is no possible way two people can have the exact same vision of the same story. Finally) You’re a blowhard.

  • What are they wearing?!

Then you turn around and sausage yourself into some hideous garment you think is the epitome of high fashion whilst looking down your nose at anyone else who wants to express their own creativity or quirky style. Who made you TLC’s What Not to Wear? (And even they are jerks sometimes – sacrificing personality for cookie-cutter mannequins.)

  • I can’t stand drama, and that is all that (fill in the blank) does!

Really? You think we’re going to believe how much you dislike drama after, in your opening argument, you’ve laid it on thicker than a porn star’s Ooooh-ing? 

And that’s all. A necessary vent on my part. Don’t’cha just love it when I do that?

Queen of the Waves

Let’s go surfin’ now; everybody surfin’ now; come on a surf-ari with me!!!

Some of you might remember that, last week, I was on t.v. for an interview about my writing. (Watch it here.) It was debuted on a local channel called Hometown Daily News on Channel 21, and also streamed live at their online broadcast. This was the first time I’d ever done such an event, and it went (I think) extremely well. I wasn’t too much of a gibbering eejit nor did I look like a three-week-old corpse found in the Hudson.

Today I am pleased to announce that I’ll be doing a live radio interview on the California station Chatting with Sherri at BlogTalk Radio. 

Link here to follow the show.

Sherri, I am pleased to say, is an award-winning author herself, and enjoys presenting writers, actors, and other creative sorts on her site. Basically, she provides a relaxed and inviting atmosphere to kick back and discuss recently released and upcoming projects.

The show will be live, Tuesday, November 13th at 130 (eastern standard time). We’ll discuss my most recent releases as well as upcoming projects, and talk a little about Sherri’s future guests.

I highly recommend you tune in. Sherri is a funny, entertaining, and well spoken host. I hope to match her as a guest.

P.S. In airwave-related news, author and friend Molly Daniels, will be live on Hometown Daily News discussing her nine (Yep, 9; the wench.) books. You can catch her live on Channel 21 in Knox County Indiana at 10a.m. (or online streaming live at www.mcbroadcast.com/watch-htn-live/).

Matzo Ball Sucker Remedy 1

Writers who don’t read… Suck big ol’ Matzo balls. 

This past year I’ve noticed a trend in my writing; it’s dying a slow, painful death. I’m constantly finding an excuse not to write, and my writing schedule? Ha! It’s turned into “How long can I stare at the screen and pretend I’m writing when people ask how it’s going?” It’s pathetic.

 Then I eureka’ed. It’s my word and I’ll use it if I fucking feel like it. In the last year I’d read (outside of a few reviews I’ve given to people who chose understandably not to have them published) maybe 8 books. 8 books?! Can you believe it? It reminded me that in my opinion – refer to first line of post – I was a matzo ball sucker.

While delicious, it was time to remedy this situation – pronto. Below is the first book I grabbed after this realization.

**

First, I am a big fan of mysteries – especially cozies. My grandmother a.k.a Goodwill provided me with a copy of Just Desserts by Mary Daheim, and I plowed right in. There are multiple reasons I enjoyed and crinkled my nose in disgust at disliked this novel. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The novel breakdown:

Judith, widow and first-time entrepreneur is trying to get her B&B off the ground, while managing an ornery elderly mother and irascible feline. When the rich and rude book a last minute weekend at her establishment, Judith’s anything-but-sedate life is further exacerbated by a theatrical fortune teller and a blatant murder in a crowded room.

The onset of this story seemed like it would be nothing more than the typical cozy mystery to settle down with. Judith, her mother, and her feline had a family dynamic often found in real life – love that borders on irritability-justified homicide. The addition of a cousin more focused on her belly than helping her family was a cute touch. The writing was fairly fluid, minus a few hiccup-y parts along the way, and the set up complete without being overdone. The addition of the Brodie clan was a frickin’ disaster little disappointing. These characters seemed flatter than an Asian hooker a bit flat, and not once could I conjure any manner of empathy with any of them. Once the mystery began the author overwhelmed the reader with a lot of the same facts and data over and over again, making the story stagnate for too long, as she tried to instill a tiny bit of romance between Judith’s former lover, now homicide detective, Joe Flynn and the entrepreneur. While I enjoyed the character of Joe, I found it a bit ludicrous implausible that he’d rely so heavily on the instinct and gumshoeing of a woman he hasn’t seen or heard from in more than twenty years. Also the author’s heavy-handed attempt to make every single person in the house a potential suspect was eye-rolling a bit extreme. Two or three suspects would have more than sufficed.

Only the banter-y well-written dialogue, very true to how people speak to each other in real life, saved me from the onslaught of possible motives and fragments of background information pertaining to each suspect. I can often overlook much in a story by loving the manner in which the author presents dialogue. But even it did not lessen the predictable nature and set up of the killer’s reveal and subsequent confrontation scene with the heroine, Judith.

My rating system is as follows: 0=hated it, 1=disliked it, 2=okay but not for me, 3=enjoyed it, 4=really liked it, 5=loved it. I gave this particular read 2 1/2 Stars because, while there were aspects I liked about it, there were others that pulled me away from truly becoming immersed in what could have been a great cozy mystery. 

**

No more matzo balls! 
On to the next book; hope the Muse is baited; start frickin’ writing again.

T.V. Stardom, Baby!

Exposure. (Mind out of the gutter, perv!) In the marketing world, exposure is what everyone is seeking. Often getting the right kind of exposure is debatable. But the fact that we need for people to know we, and our writing, exist is imperative. As writers, what do we do to achieve this? We blog; we chat; we do radio spots; we litter the sidewalks with fliers; we grab face-time at conventions; we talk about our books incessantly to anyone willing, and sometimes not willing, to listen; we Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ our little brains out. Most of these things are free to inexpensive to utilize. But television is one avenue that has never been inexpensive, is elusive, and seems downright impossible to get into.

Unless, apparently, you act in a local community theater with someone in the industry. Like me.


I was lucky enough to co-share the stage with local radio and television personality Darby O’Flannery at Mess C Desk Productions  in our theater group’s production of Dracula this Halloween season. First, Darby is immensely talented and a joy to co-act with, even when I’m supposed to pretend I loathe and despise him (lol). Two, it gave me an opportunity to learn more about him and his marketing production company. And, C, he has a wicked Irish accent. What girl doesn’t love an Irish brogue? Oh, wait, the topic here today is exposure (Say it with me class: [ik-spoh-zher]. Good.) So 4) Darby hosts a t.v. show too!

See a Youtube video about Mess C Desk Productions here.



When Darby asked me to come on his show for an interview as an author, I was thrilled. Then the lead-winged butterflies hit. Me? Talk about my book? Live? *gulp*


Anyone who knows me knows I’m not a particularly shy person. But, still, playing a part on stage (real-deal theater or bad karaoke either one) is easy. Putting words in my own mouth of my own devising? Mondo-harder. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to give it my best shot! So, see me here Hometown Daily News today, November 8th, 2012, at 10 a.m. (Eastern Standard Time) and watch me, probably, crash and burn. *wink*

Book Review: Shadows in the Dark by L.D. Hutchinson

It’s NaNoWriMo, baby! Which means I’m an in full-on Terminator-mode for word count. However duty as a writer keeps me reading. Also the fact that I have promised several fellow authors in months past to review their work keeps me reading. Last but not least is the fact that if, as a writer, I don’t read… well, I just suck. I mean, you can’t truly be a writer if you aren’t also a reader. This doesn’t have to be prolific. The cosmos knows that, between our day/night jobs, school families, and our secret identities as authors, we don’t have a lot of time. BUT we still must read to be worth our salt as writers. This is just my opinion, not always shared by others, but a supreme belief held by moi.

That spiel out of the way, I’m posting a quick review of the book I finished just prior to this month of hell joy and delight. Enjoy!
***
Review: 4 November 2012
Title: Shadows in the Dark
Author: LD Hutchinson
Length: 139 pages

Genre: Paranormal/Urban Fantasy


Shadows in the Dark by LD Hutchinson is a tale about Avangeline, a woman who is out of place in this world. Phoenix is the vampire sent to protect her, against his will.

I will state that this is the first story I’ve read by this author, and the initial prologue led to confusion for me. On a whole, there was so much information provided, names and vague dates to follow, that the information would have been better suited to being woven into the story as smaller bits of exposition. Another item that was complex was the prologue’s apparent presentation of a letter to someone. Nearly half the prologue had passed before I realized this was the author’s intention and adjusted my reading to fit. A salutation of some sort would have been pleasant from the reader’s standpoint. Despite the difficulties, the blurb had caught my attention so I continued.

Avangeline as a character was enjoyable and I felt I could readily identify with her. She had an easy train of thought, well displayed reactions to people and situations, and was likeable. The flaws that she did have were implemented in just the right way to make the reader believe she was a real person being written about, even if she was a little eager to dismiss bad things happening to her. Phoenix, on the other hand, was less personable for me. Often I found him less interesting and flat from a characterization point of view. A cliched appearance might have led to my initial dislike. One expects blue-black hair, impossibly tall, and striking eyes from a vampire, but dull dialogue and predictability cinched it.

I don’t want it to be misconstrued that I didn’t like the story. As a reader, I enjoyed it. That is why I’m giving it 2 1/2 stars. (My rating system is as follows: 0=hated it, 1=disliked it, 2=okay but not for me, 3=liked it, 4=really liked it, and 5=loved it.) As a fellow writer, I have to say the Ms. Hutchinson has talent. She has a seamless way of blending action and scenes that is not easy to develop – brava! As an editor however, I pulled out my red pen because there are several places where editing tripped me up and pulled me from the story. I also think this should be priced more at $0.99 since it is not a full novel. A full-sized e-book is generally priced at $1.99 or $2.99.
Despite the somewhat steep pricing for a novella and the editing troubles I ran across, I did find the concept of the story interesting. Many authors attempt to combine witches and vampires, without success; Ms. Hutchinson however did a good job of it. My overall estimation of this tale is a good one. I will look forward to future installments in the series. (I understand there are to be several more.) I will also look to see how Ms. Hutchinson progresses as a writer and how her stories are impacted.

Rating: 2 ½ Stars