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Talking Books with P.I. Alltraine, author of ‘Heartbound’

P.I. AlltraineP.I. Alltraine is an award winning poet and author. She has won several international poetry competitions, and her poems have been published in separate anthologies.

She teaches English Language and Literature in London. She earned her degree in BA English from Queen Mary University of London, a Post Graduate Certificate in Education and Master’s in Teaching at the UCL Institute of Education, University of London.

Before moving to London, she lived in the Philippines where she was ensconced in the rich culture encrusted with dark myths and enchanted tales. She draws inspiration from these in her writing. Although she has lived indifferent places and experienced different cultures, she always enjoyed the constancy of writing in her life. Her favourite authors include John Milton, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce.

Her latest book is the YA fantasy romance, Heartbound.

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About the Book:

Petyr has never found it necessary to consider the humans as anything more than distant, inferior beings–until now. They are the cause of the fatal disease that has plagued his realm, taking the lives of too many of his kind. As a future Heartboundleader of a realm in peril, Petyr must find a way to resist and cure the affliction. He must enter the unfamiliar realm, appear to be an ordinary eighteen-year-old human, observe, and learn.

However, things don’t exactly go according to plan. Instead of embarking single-mindedly on his sober mission, Petyr meets an 18-year-old girl who does things to his emotions that he can’t quite fathom or control. Petyr is falling in love, and he almost forgets the gravity his choices have on his entire world. Despite the risk it poses to his life and hers, he wants to know her, and he wants her to know him–and his world.

For More Information

  • Heartbound is available at Amazon.
  • Watch the trailer at YouTube.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Heartbound teaser 1

Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, P.I. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Heartbound is my first published novel, though I’ve had some published academic essays and poetry.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I chose a small press, Soul Mate Publishing, New York, to publish Heartbound. It was a very quick process for me. First, I did some research on credible agents and publishers that would be interested in my genre. I randomly picked one from the list, just to see how the process worked and what a rejection letter looked like. Two weeks later, I got a request for the full manuscript, and two weeks after that I was offered a contract. I had a difficult decision to make because I hadn’t really tried anything else at that point. However, from what I heard, querying agents could take months for a reply (even a rejection reply), and even if someone took me on, there was no guarantee they could sell it to a publisher—and I already had a publisher interested. In the end, it made sense to seize the opportunity.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

After I’ve signed the contract, the whole took about a year, including the rounds of editing, working with the cover artist, etc.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It felt great that I could officially call myself a writer. I celebrated with family and friends; they have been incredibly supportive.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I signed up for a blog tour. It’s really important to get the word out there!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I learned a lot during the editing process. I’m thankful to my editors for all their invaluable advice. They definitely made me a better writer.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s surprising how little control authors have in the process. I was lucky because, being published by a small press, my voice was heard (including the release date, cover art, etc.), but I know of many authors who had very different experiences and had very little control of what happened in the process.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Being able to share my work to people is incredible, and of course, being able to call myself a novelist whenever I feel like it. J

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Write for yourself and the rest will follow. It doesn’t matter if your style doesn’t fit the current trend or if some circles won’t consider it “good writing.” Write because you want to, and write whatever the hell you want. Writing is not a way to fit in or please others. It’s one of the very few things in the world that allows the liberty to be true to oneself.

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Interview with ‘The Ark’ Laura Liddell Nolen

Laura NolenLaura Liddell Nolen grew up in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, where she spent lots of time playing make-believe with her two younger brothers. They supplemented their own stories with a steady diet of space- and superhero-themed movies, books, and television. The daughter of a comic book collector, she learned how to handle old comics at an early age, a skill she’s inordinately proud of to this day.

Laura began work on her first novel, The Ark, in 2012, following the birth of her daughter Ava, a tiny rebel and a sweetheart on whom the novel’s main character is loosely based. Completion of The Ark was made possible in part due to an SCBWI Work-in-Progress Award.

Laura loves coffee, dogs, and making lists. She has a degree in French and a license to practice law, but both are frozen in carbonite at present. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and two young children, and their dog Miley, who is a very good girl.

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About the Book:

The Ark 2There’s a meteor headed for Earth, and there is only one way to survive.

It’s the final days of earth, and sixteen-year-old Char is right where she belongs: in prison. With her criminal record, she doesn’t qualify for a place on an Ark, one of the five massive bioships designed to protect earth’s survivors during the meteor strike that looks set to destroy the planet. Only a select few will be saved – like her mom, dad, and brother – all of whom have long since turned their backs on Char.

If she ever wants to redeem herself, Char must use all the tricks of the trade to swindle her way into outer space, where she hopes to reunite with her family, regardless of whether they actually ever want to see her again, or not . . .

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Laura. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

It’s my first time! Thanks for having me. It’s great to be here.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’m with Harper Voyager, the global science fiction and fantasy imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. A little while back, they put out a call for unsolicited submissions, and I sent in The Ark. I think Voyager received around 5,000 manuscripts, so it was never something I expected to “win.”

When I got the call, I was so excited. I jumped up and down like a crazy person.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

I signed last summer, and The Ark was published March 26. The paperback is out this fall!

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

It’s fantastic. Like a lot of your readers, I’d been dreaming of getting to that point for a long, long time.

As for celebrating, it was more like a series of smaller celebrations than one big hurrah. Finishing the first draft was a tremendous accomplishment for me, even when I thought nothing might ever come of it. I wasn’t totally sure I had it in me to get that far. So was finishing the second draft! I’ve already mentioned doing my happy dance when I got the call from my editor that I’d been chosen. Signing the contract called for another joyous jig, and of course, there was much rejoicing the day the book finally came out.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Harper Voyager was kind enough to give me an interview and a guest post on their blog. You can find them here and here.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

So far, my time has been spent promoting The Ark. But it’s only been three weeks. Another difference is that although I was always trying my hardest, I am doubly inspired to put out my best work possible. Before, I never knew anyone would read it. Now, I know it’s going to be published! No pressure there.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve said this before, but the single most amazing thing about the publishing industry is the support of my fellow writers. I’ve had a few readers reach out in the past couple of weeks to say that they enjoyed the book, and that’s really special, too. I even heard from a mother who told me her daughter hadn’t been so engaged by a book in awhile, and that was an awesome feeling.

I will admit that most of the people who reached out mainly just wanted to tell me not to end the next one on a cliffhanger, to which I say: THANK YOU for reading my book! And we’ll see…

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Knowing my kids, especially my daughter, will one day get to read the words I wrote. Wanting my children eventually to understand me as a person is a secondary goal in parenting, but it’s important nonetheless.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Keep writing! You can do this. I truly believe that anyone- anyone- can improve with practice. Practice involves reading as much as you can and thinking about the way better authors put their stories together. But, alas, it also involves writing.

So keep writing.

A Conversation with Mathieu Cailler, author of ‘Loss Angeles’

Mathieu CaillerMathieu Cailler is a writer of prose and poetry. His work has been widely published in national and international literary journals. Before becoming a full-time writer, Cailler was an elementary school teacher in inner-city Los Angeles. “I came to writing in a rather circuitous way. I always penned jokes for stand-up comedy appearances but later realized it wasn’t just comedy that applealed to me, but all writing.” A graduate of Vermont College of Fine Arts, Cailler was awarded the Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and a Shakespeare Award for Poetry. His chapbook, Clotheslines, was recently published by Red Bird Press. LOSS ANGELES is Cailler’s first full-length book.

For More Information

  • Visit Mathieu Cailler’s website.
  • Connect with Mathieu on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Find out more about Mathieu at Goodreads.

About the Book:

Set in the glamorous city of Los Angeles, California, LOSS ANGELES skips the shine and celebrity the city is known for and instead dives deeply into the lives of ordinary Angelenos. In each of the fifteen stories in this collection, Loss Angeles 2author Mathieu Cailler examines the private lives of a diverse mix of characters. This collection of stories showcases the rawness of real life, the complexity of navigating personal challenges and internal conflicts, and the ever present possibility of encountering unexpected compassion and empathy.

The stories in LOSS ANGELES uncover the reality that the interiors of people’s lives often have huge holes in them. In the collection, a quiet divorced man, who is still deeply in love with his ex-wife, finally speaks up when his son’s soon-to-be stepfather becomes enraged over a broken birthday gift. A young man visiting his parents for the first time in nine years delays his presence at his family’s Thanksgiving dinner to see an old friend who was influential in his early life. Cailler also goes beyond loss and grief to reveal hidden human kindness in the stories of a widower, who steps out of his melancholy to save the life of a stranger, and an aging bachelor, who becomes a father figure for a wayward young woman.

In “Over the Bridge,” Ella is a teenager learning to manage her grief over the death of her mother and the new life she and her seven-year-old brother have with their father, with whom the children have not lived with since their parents’ divorce. While Ella is receiving weekly counseling at school, she continues to struggle with the changes in her life. When the counselor instructs Ella to write a letter to her father explaining the uncertainty and distance she feels in regard to her relationship with him, Ella complies and writes with the type of honesty that one allows when there is no plan to share what is written. But when Ella finds herself in a frightening situation with a boy at a party after consuming drugs and alcohol, the letter becomes the catalyst for a change in perspective for her father.

“Hit and Stay” is the story of a young married man making the long drive home from an out-of-town business trip. Penn is troubled as he drives his SUV through back roads to avoid the highway traffic. The quiet drive in the warm cocoon of the truck affords Penn the opportunity to reflect on the one-night stand he had with a new employee. As he contemplates how or if he will confess his mistake to his wife, Kimberly, Penn reviews his life with the woman he was once passionately in love with who has grown distant since the death of her mother. During the drive, Penn has an unfortunate accident that breaks the delicate hold he has on his volatile emotional state.

The conflict between familial violence and love is the foundation of “Dark Timber.” Clevie and his older brother, Roy, reluctantly accompany their father on a hunting expedition. Their father, an alcoholic recently released from prison after serving time for beating the boys’ mother, is determined to teach his sons how to hunt for their own food.

The relationship between father and sons is strained. Roy has personal experience with his father’s violent temper, but young Clevie remains hopeful that life with their father will improve. Neither boy is interested in hunting. Clevie is the most reluctant to fire on innocent animals. However, when their father comes face-to-face with a menacing predator, both boys instinctively respond to his pleas for help.

LOSS ANGELES is a throwback to eclectic short story collections of past years and is only bound by the theme of loss in a very general sense,” Cailler says. “The stories are by turns fragile, tender, and always memorable. The characters in this book are as diverse as the city itself… they all have a story to share, and it was my job to do just that. I don’t believe in being predestined while writing; therefore, some of the stories end with a bit of hope while others reach their coda in a disconcerting fashion.”

Exposing emotions was Cailler’s focus when writing the collection. “I want the reader to relate to the feelings and sentiments expressed in the book. I think loss is the greatest bond we possess as humans, and there isn’t a single person around who hasn’t experienced it. We’ve all lost something dear to us, something profound,” the author says. “I think if a reader comes away from LOSS ANGELES feeling more connected to others and/or him or herself, I’ll have done my job. Whenever I write, I think of Plato’s words: ‘Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.’ That’s something that I hope will resonate with the reader.”

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Mathieu. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Thank you, Beyond the Books. My chapbook, Clotheslines, was published last year by Red Bird Press, but Loss Angeles is my first full-length collection. I’ve also been lucky enough to have my work appear in numerous publications, including Epiphany, The Saturday Evening Post, and the Los Angeles Times.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Loss Angeles was published by a small press, Short Story America. It was an easy choice really. “Over the Bride”—the first story in the collection—won the 2012 Short Story America Prize for Short Fiction and through that I was able to get to know Editor-in-Chief Tim Johnston quite well. We maintained a wonderful relationship throughout the years, and I’ve been a huge fan of all the books/anthologies SSA has put out.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

One year, almost to the day.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

To be honest, I’m still trying to process this. I love the characters in these stories very much, and I’m just happy that their struggles and triumphs are light and free with the world. I celebrated quietly with my family and a few friends. In writing, I don’t think one should get too high or too low.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I shared the release on Facebook and did a local reading.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’m still exactly the same really. I have a story that I’m working on right now… that I’m enjoying putting together. Tiffani, the main character, is intriguing to me and I’m savoring getting to know her better.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

I’ve been amazed by the support and kindness I’ve received from fellow presses. Editors and publishers have been quick to send notes and messages, and make me feel welcome.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Seeing the characters that consumed so much of my life… wrapped in the hardcover they deserve.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Control what you can control. Have a routine, stick to it, and block off your writing time with caution tape. Stay in the chair and let it go.

Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me.

A Conversation with Stephen C. Merlino, author of ‘The Jack of Souls’

Stephen C. MerlinoStephen C. Merlino lives in Seattle, WA, where he writes, plays, and teaches high school English. He lives with the world’s most talented and desirable woman, two fabulous children, and three attack chickens.

Growing up in Seattle drove Stephen indoors for eight months of the year. Before the age of video games, that meant he read a lot. At the age of eleven he discovered the stories of J.R.R. Tolkein and fell in love with fantasy.

Summers and rare sunny days he spent with friends in wooded ravines or on the beaches of Puget Sound, building worlds in the sand, and fighting orcs and wizards with driftwood swords.

About the time a fifth reading of The Lord of the Rings failed to deliver the old magic, Stephen attended the University of Washington and fell in love with Chaucer and Shakespeare and all things English. Sadly, the closest he got to England back then was The Unicorn Pub on University Way, which wasn’t even run by an Englishman: it was run by a Scot named Angus. Still, he studied there, and as he sampled Angus’s weird ales, and devoured the Unicorn’s steak & kidney pie (with real offal!), he developed a passion for Scotland, too.

In college, he fell in love with writing, and when a kindly professor said of a story he’d written, “You should get that published!” Stephen took the encouragement literally, and spent the next years trying. The story remains unpublished, but the quest to develop it introduced Stephen to the world of agents (the story ultimately had two), and taught him much of craft and the value of what Jay Lake would call, “psychotic persistence.”

Add to that his abiding love of nerds–those who, as Sarah Vowel defines it, “go too far and care too much about a subject”–and you have Stephen Merlino in a nutshell.

Stephen is the 2014 PNWA winner for Fantasy.

He is also the 2014 SWW winner for Fantasy.

His novel, The Jack of Souls is in its fourth month in the top ten on Amazon’s Children’s Fantasy Sword & Sorcery Best Seller list, and among the top three in Coming-of-Age.

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About the Book:

An outcast rogue named Harric must break a curse laid on his fate or die by his nineteenth birthday.

As his dead-day approaches, nightmares from the spirit world stalk him and tear at his sanity; sorcery eats at his soul.

The Jack of Souls 2To survive, he’ll need more than his usual tricks. He’ll need help—and a lot of it—but on the kingdom’s lawless frontier, his only allies are other outcasts. One of these outcasts is Caris, a mysterious, horse-whispering runaway, intent upon becoming the Queen’s first female knight. The other is Sir Willard—ex-immortal, ex-champion, now addicted to pain-killing herbs and banished from the court.

With their help, Harric might keep his curse at bay. But for how long?

And both companions bring perils and secrets of their own: Caris bears the scars of a troubled past that still hunts her; Willard is at war with the Old Ones, an order of insane immortal knights who once enslaved the kingdom. The Old Ones have returned to murder Willard and seize the throne from his queen. Willard is both on the run from them, and on one final, desperate quest to save her.

Together, Harric and his companions must overcome fanatical armies, murderous sorcerers, and powerful supernatural foes.

Alone, Harric must face the temptation of a forbidden magic that could break his curse, but cost him the only woman he’s ever loved.

***

A tale of magic, mischief, and the triumph of tricksters.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Stephen. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

The Jack of Souls is my first novel, and first in a fantasy series.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

After years of courting agents and editors, with small success, I began entering The Jack of Souls in literary contests. It was finalist in a number of contests, then it placed, and in 2014 it actually won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association award for fantasy (PNWA is a very large competition), and a month later it won the Southwest Writers award for fantasy. Additionally, Wattpad asked if they could make it a Featured novel.

It started to dawn on me that the only people that really matter in determining if a book is any good is the reader, and if readers liked the book enough to buy it and recommend it to others, then maybe I didn’t need an agent’s blessing after all.

So I ran a Kickstarter (a TON of work and a TON of fun—met supportive and generous people from 17 different countries), found a great artist (Jakub Rozalski), hired editors and formatters, and in the space of a few months I had ebook, paperback, and hardback up on Amazon.

I am extremely grateful to report that within a couple months it appeared in the top ten of several Amazon ebook bestseller lists. It kind of floored me, actually. Turns out, fantasy readers like it! Woohoo!

Today, it has a 4.5-star rating with over 50 reviews, and recently it received a 5-star rating from Midwest Book Review. I could not be more humbled and thankful for that. Indie publishing turned out to be a fantastic decision for me. I’m finally reaching readers and hearing back from them.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

It took me maybe three months to publish it. It was a lot of work—don’t get me wrong—but three months isn’t long at all. I understand that the big five corporate publishing houses take upwards of a year to publish a book; if I’m not mistaken, a year is fast for them. They have a lot more people involved at every level, choosing, asking, seeking permissions from higher-ups, making decisions, back-and-forthing, etc., so it isn’t surprising. When it’s just me orchestrating a team of folks I hire, things are bound to move a lot faster.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I felt relieved! Finally, I could move on to the second book in the series, The Knave of Souls. I aim to release it at the end of August 2015. J

To celebrate, my wife and I took the kids out to dinner, rode go-carts, and played laser tag in a fog-lit maze. Awesome.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I bought a copy of The Book Reviewer Yellow Pages and started sending queries to get bloggers to review the book. Turns out, it’s a lot like querying agents, but with (for me) a lot more positive results. Book bloggers are another fun group of people to work with.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I’ve gained weight. No, really. Something had to go, and it was exercise. Publishing and publicizing is a whole other layer of work to be done on top of writing, my teaching job, and family life.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

There is so much creativity and love of the craft in this industry! It feeds the soul. Good people, sharing information, learning together about something we love.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Reaching readers and hearing from them is the best thing about publishing a novel. Hands down. Writing can be such a lonely occupation. To reach a reader and hear an echo coming back from the void, that’s affirmation and connection. In that moment it goes from monologue to dialogue, from solitude to community, from “Sound and fury signifying nothing” to “Hey, that’s pretty good. Let’s talk about that!”

For me that’s where it’s at.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Read a lot. Write a lot. Find a good critique group so you can learn from other writers and readers. Refine. Revise. Repeat. J

Interview with Russ Colchamiro, author of sci-fi comedy ‘Genius De Milo’

Genius De Milo banner
Russ ColchamiroRuss Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure Crossline, the hilarious scifi backpacking comedy Finders Keepers, and the outrageous sequel, Genius de Milo, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in West Orange, NJ, with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ is now at work on the final book in the Finders Keepers trilogy.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.

His latest book is the science fiction novel, Genius De Milo.

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About the Book:

Genius De Milo 2Best pals Jason Medley and Theo Barnes barely survived a backpacking trip through Europe and New Zealand that — thanks to a jar of Cosmic Building Material they found — almost wiped out the galaxy. But just as they envision a future without any more cosmic lunacy:

The Earth has started fluxing in and out of existence, Theo’s twin girls are teleporting, and Jason can’t tell which version of his life is real.

All because of Milo, the Universe’s ultimate gremlin.

Joined by the mysterious Jamie — a down-and-out hotel clerk from Eternity — Jason and Theo reunite on a frantic, cross-country chase across America, praying they can retrieve that jar, circumvent Milo, and save the Earth from irrevocable disaster.

In author Russ Colchamiro’s uproarious sequel to Finders Keepers, he finally confirms what we’ve long suspected — that there’s no galactic Milo quite like a Genius de Milo.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Russ Colchamiro.  Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Russ: I have several books in publication. My novels include the scifi backpacking comedies Finders Keepers and Genius de Milo -– think American Pie/Midnight Run meets Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy — and the scifi mystery adventure, Crossline –- think Flash Gordon meets Escape from New York. I also contributed a short story to the Crazy 8 Press wizards and demons anthology Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

Russ: I was in deep negotiations with three mid- to large-size publishers, who all wanted Finders Keepers, but because of the economic downturn they all cut back on their production. They all said that if the economy had been better they would have signed me on the spot. So I wound up going with a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Russ: Once we agreed, it took about six months to produce Finders Keepers and get it published and ready for sale.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

A: Finders Keepers debuted in October 2010, just two months after my twins were born. So the boring truth is that I didn’t do a whole of extra celebrating. I had my hands full, both figuratively and literally!

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Russ: Let out a deep breath!

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Russ: I’m far more efficient. I have a much better sense of what the story needs and what it doesn’t need, so I’m not wasting nearly as much time with content that will never make the final version. I’m also getting much stronger at pacing, finding the right balance between pushing the plot forward but also taking enough time to develop the characters so that the readers are invested in the outcome.

I tend to write complex, interlocking character arcs and storylines into the overall narrative, so I’ve had to force myself to really focus on what’s most important, and then build around it.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Russ: I published Finders Keepers in October 2010. I didn’t know it then, but it was right before e-books took over the market … and also in the middle of what turned out to be the biggest economic downturn in a century. Not what I’d call ideal timing! As I said above, I originally published (print and e-book) though a small indie publisher, Three Finger Prints, but despite the economy I had success right away.

I was able to land a national distribution contract (uncommon for a first-time author), with Finders Keepers carried by several Barnes & Noble stores throughout the country. Finders Keepers also received very supportive write-ups by Publishers Weekly, and I was one of only a half dozen authors globally to be invited by Wattpad to become one of their featured authors.

And then right after Finders Keepers debuted, e-books revolutionized the way readers digest novels, and for authors it’s been an entirely new and ever-changing world since then. I wound up reprinting Finders Keepers through Crazy 8 Press so that I now have my entire catalogue under one imprint, and control all of the rights, which is nice.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

Russ: I take a certain pride in having brought my ideas to the page in a way that others can enjoy. Or ridicule! Ha. But seeing my books on a shelf, in someone’s home, or in a bookstore, or available online, let’s me know that I set my mind to accomplishing something that was important to me, and that I did it as well as I knew how to do — and was able to do — at the time that I did it.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Russ: Write because you love it, write for yourself, and write every day. And if you can make money at it … all the better.

On a more technical level, work with beta readers and editors who will give you actionable feedback that helps you improve the story you’re working on — and your craft — in very specific ways.

If you’re getting feedback like, “oh, that was good,” or “it wasn’t for me,” then they’re not really helping you.

Be highly selective, choosing people who will tell you what you actually need to hear, not what you want to hear. And keep your world of trusted ‘advisors’ on the small side. Feedback from too many people will distract and confuse you.

Being an author is a lot of work, so try to have as much as you can along the way, and unlike me, celebrate every step along the way. We writers need as much encouragement as we can get!

Interview with M.K. Theodoratus, author of ‘The Ghostcrow’

M.K. TheodoratusHooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she’s not reading about other writer’s worlds, she’s creating her own.

Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.

A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans.

Her latest book is the supernatural fantasy novelette, The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor.

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About the Book:

Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

The Ghostcrow 2Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them.

Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life.

Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies.

Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Kay. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

First, thank you for the opportunity to talk about my writing.

Nothing like stumping me with your first question. Don’t think I fit into any of the molds. I’ve been writing since the sixth grade, and we won’t go into how long that is. I sold my first short stories to the kids’ section of Sunday newspapers. Not often, but often enough to keep me daydreaming in a coherent fashion. I’ve sold both fiction and non-fiction to other publications over the years.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

I’ve enjoyed several writing “careers”. This time around, I sold some fantasy stuff to WolfSinger Press and Spectra, but the short story I wrote for Spectra, Night for the Gargoyles, really lit the fire in my imagination. I expanded it into a novel about the demon/gargoyle battles for the city of Trebridge and was offered a contract when I pitched it at a writer’s conference to a small indie publisher.

Being a responsible citizen, I started building a writer’s platform by self-publishing other short stories and novelettes set in my alternative world of Andor. The publisher folded for a variety of reasons, not all their fault, and I was left with a bunch of self-published stories I enjoy sharing.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

See above.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

The first time? Don’t think I remember. I was a sour pickle-puss as a teen. Not really a loner, but I definitely preferred writing my stories and reading books to people.

Do remember encountering the English lit guys of the college literary magazine, though. Since I thought of myself as a writer, I went to their recruitment meeting where these males strutted and spouted about literature. Turned out I was the only one who had been independently published…though my stuff was beneath their notice. Dylan Thomas or James Joyce I wasn’t. I’m still not and have no ambition to become “great”.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

Ahh, memories of the past. I didn’t promote at all. My story appeared in the paper, and I basked in my nice letter from the editor. Probably put the check in the bank.

To promote my self-published stories now, I do the social media thing: GoodReads, Twitter, Facebook, etc. plus trying out blog tours.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

Think I’m a little too old to grow. I just like to tell my stories and, thanks to the web, it’s easy to share them. Guess my craft skills have improved. I don’t have to eliminate nearly as many passive structures as I used to.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

Nothing has surprised me, even though the industry turned rather strange with the corporate paradigm taking over. But who can say it’s worse than the old paradigm of being a gentleman’s hobby.

The web has made it much easier to get published, if you don’t mind becoming your own publisher. That means not only are you responsible for creating the story, you must get your book content edited, copy edited, put the print book together or format it as an ebook, and market it so people have a chance to notice it.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

*Shrug* I have made any best-seller lists, so I have made my fortune yet. I do get to share my writing if anyone cares to read it. Is that a reward?

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

I’ll join the ranks of Stephen King and a host of others. In one word: write. Even if someone says your stories are junk, write. Then, write some more.

People learn the craft of writing by writing. For some, it’s a natural born talent. For others, it’s a hard row to hoe.

Another little secret, find a writers group. You can learn to improve your writing both by critiquing others and listening to the comments of others about your writing. If you meet a troll along the way, ignore them even if they say hurtful things.

Read the blogs of your favorite writers. You may be surprised to learn they have “trunk novels” which will never see the light of day because they hadn’t yet learned their craft when they wrote them.

 

 

 

A Conversation with Sarah Remy, author of ‘Stonehill Downs’

Stonehill Downs banner 2

Sarah RemyWe’re happy to be hosting Sarah Remy today at Beyond the Books! In 1994 Sarah earned a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from Pomona College in California. Since then she’s been employed as a receptionist at a high-powered brokerage firm, managed a boutique bookstore, read television scripts for a small production company, and, more recently, worked playground duty at the local elementary school.

When she’s not taking the service industry by storm, she’s writing fantasy and science fiction. Sarah likes her fantasy worlds gritty, her characters diverse and fallible, and she doesn’t believe every protagonist deserves a happy ending.

Before joining the Harper Voyager family, she published with EDGE, Reuts, and Madison Place Press.

Sarah lives in Washington State with plenty of animals and people, both. In her limited spare time she rides horses, rehabs her old home, and supervises a chaotic household. She can talk to you endlessly about Sherlock Holmes, World of Warcraft, and backyard chicken husbandry, and she’s been a member of one of Robin Hobb’s longest-running online fan clubs since 2002.

Her latest is the fantasy novel, Stonehill Downs.

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About the Book:

Stonehill Downs 2Stonehill Downs follows Mal, a powerful mage who functions as Lord Vocent, the king’s personal forensic scientist and detective.  Magic and murder are his calling.  Never have the two entangled in quite as terrifying a manner as on Stonehill Downs, where Avani, a Goddess-gifted outsider, has discovered a host of gruesome corpses reeking of supernatural malfeasance.  The investigation is haunted by ghosts of Mal’s past, and the two quickly learn that they must cast aside their secrets if they are to succeed in unearthing the pervading evil—before it’s unleashed from the boundaries of the Downs, straight into the heart of the kingdom.

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Q: Welcome to Beyond the Books, Sarah. Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?

Thank you! Lovely to be here. I’m a multi-published author. I’ve been writing for a long time and sold to various markets.

Q: When you were published for the first time, which route did you go – mainstream, small press, vanity published or self-published and why or how did you choose this route?

The first time I published was through a small publisher. It was a very positive experience but I felt that I could do much of the legwork myself and next time around I self-published. I continue to self-publish years later alongside short stories in small presses and a contract with HarperCollins. I think of myself as a hybrid author.

Q: How long did it take you to get published once you signed the contract?

Regarding my latest book, Stonehill Downs, I signed Harper’s contract in June and the book came out in December. It was a very professional and smooth process.

Q: How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?

I was very excited, of course, and a little shocked. I went out for Indian and champagne, and then started on my next project. I’m a firm believer that it’s important to keep moving forward.

Q: What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?

I hit up all the local bookstores. As an author, you need to personally make sure your book is ordered in and promoted in-store. In general, most brick and mortar stores are eager to support the local talent. Every store I approached set up a signing. If I hadn’t put myself politely in front of the book buyer, however, they would have never known Stonehill Downs existed, and that’s in spite of Harper’s press releases and promo blurbs. Your average author shoulders as much of the marketing work with a mainstream publisher as when self-publishing.

Q: Since you’ve been published, how have you grown as a writer and now a published author?

I think once you’ve got that first book under your belt, you’ve less excuses to waffle on the next one. You’ve done it once, you know you can do it again. You’ve got that little confidence lift.

Q: What has surprised or amazed you about the publishing industry as a whole?

It’s changed a lot over the years. Social media has made it a new animal. Luckily I’m a social media fiend, because these days you really need to be. You have to get out there and promote yourself and your work, but It’s not about sales, it’s about making connections with an audience who might enjoy you as a person and your stories as entertainment.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about being a published author?

I really don’t think the reward is in being published. The reward is in writing a story you’re proud of, and enjoying the writing of it. The thrill is in creating, fiddling, and perfecting. I find escapism in writing almost exactly as I find escapism in reading.

Q: Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?

Always keep moving forward. No regrets, no second-guessing. Write the story you enjoy writing, polish it up, send it out. Move on to the next one. Find joy in the process, because honestly that’s the best part.

 

 

 

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