Saturday, July 31, 2010

Motorcycle Research

Today was an outstanding day in NE and my husband and I took off early this morning to do some motorcycle research.  For those of you who don't know my husband that means "picking out his next bike."  I have lost count of all the bikes he has owned, some I loved, some I hated, but one thing I know for sure, a motorcycle doesn't stay around too many years in our house.

We did test ride a new Ducati touring bike - ohhhh....very fast and we wanted to test ride a BMW RT, but there weren't any in the showroom.  Oh well, maybe next time.  So today really did end up being a research day.  We came home on the same Triumph we started out on.  I couldn't pass up the opportunity to share with you some of the most spectacular roads in the world for riding a motorcycle.  These are from our European tour when we rode through Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Leichtenstein, and Austria.  Happy Motoring!

These two pictures are from the same day - at the bottom of the mountain, green grass and at the top of the mountain - snow.  Those are the Italian Alps in the distant.

How could you not love that view - absolutely spectacular!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Interview with Sara Elizabeth

Available at Untreed Reads Publishing

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book. 
My first book published is actually a short story.  The journey comes from a very real place, as most of my writing is actually non-fiction.  I’ve found that in writing workshops, people tend to tell stories that are fascinating but never use an interesting mode of doing so.  So, I’ve tried everything – from using an elevator as a container for the story, to writing a fist person narrative in a second person “how-to” voice a la Lorrie Moore.  I try to make new things work!

What genre are your books?  Do you write in more than one genre? 
I write predominantly non-fiction.  I dabble in fiction every now and then, if I become inspired.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  Did you receive an offer of representation or a book contract? 
I’ve been trying to get an agent or a traditional publisher since I completed my first short story as a freshman in college.  It’s so difficult.

What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads? 
I’m part of the diversity line, and I really loved the pitch for the group of stories.  One story a day for the month of June (which is gay pride month) sounded really cool.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover? 
I had nothing to do with the design, but I took a lot of time considering the name on it.  I decided upon my own.

Do you have manuscripts that you will publish directly for Kindle? 
Not yet!

How did you feel when you got your first sale? 
Incredible.  It’s like all my hard work finally paid off!

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)? 
I am a huge advocate of social media networking.  I’m a Facebook and Twitter gal.  I also have a blog called  I sometimes advertise myself through that every once in a while!

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day? 
I have very mixed feelings.  Coming from a writing program, I was constantly surrounded by people who scoffed at me for owning a Kindle.  I am constantly being told that I (and the Kindle) are going to be the death of books and libraries.  I still purchase books, because nothing beats a beautiful, full bookshelf.  However, I live in NYC and have no room for all of my books, and no way to move them all here.  So until I have my ranch in the mountains with a vast amount of space, a Kindle it is.

What’s next for you? 
I’m working on two or three really long projects.  One is a memoir that I started for my thesis project called “Living Medicated.”  It’s about how my generation, as a whole, is over-medicated and over-therapized, especially in the “upper echelon.”  I’d say it’s the antithesis of Prozac Nation.  I also have a children’s book series I’m working on, a series of essays called “Conversations With My Jewish Mother”, and am looking for a job now that I’m done with grad school.  I guess you could say I’m a busy girl these days… 

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Let's All Take a Breather

With everyone hectic's schedules, it's hard to slow down and just appreciate the beauty that surrounds us.  I pulled these pictures from the Hubble Telescope website.  They are truly awe-inspiring.  Enjoy.

Now that I have your attention, I just couldn't resist adding this one at the end.  Aw, isn't she cute?

For those of you who don't care for kittens, maybe this is your cup of tea:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Kindle Author - My Interview

I would like to thank David Wisehart for hosting my latest interview over at Kindle Author.  You can read the full interview here


DAVID WISEHART: How do you research the science in your science fiction?

DEBRA L. MARTIN: My co-author, David W Small, and I like to have the science we use in our books grounded in reality. For example, in our Otharia books, we use crystals to enhance PSI [psychic] power. We wanted these "crystals" to be something that people would recognize easily and so we chose to use diamonds as the model. Anyone who has purchased a diamond knows that diamonds are rated by 4Cs - cut, clarity, color, and carat. We enhanced the 4C rule and had the Otharians discover another intrinsic “C” within the nature of diamond: conductivity, the 5th C. This fifth C is what fuels their PSI abilities and the largest 10K crystals open their portals for interplanetary travel. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Interview with Bryl R. Tyne

Available at Untreed Reads Publishing
Next up in my author interview series is Bryl R. Tyne.  I have read the short story FORSAKEN and absolutely loved it!
Welcome Bryl!

You are releasing a series of short stories, The Zagzagel Diaries. What inspired you to write about your main character?

Without getting philosophical, let's just say I've been fascinated with rebellion for as long as I can remember, maybe four or five years of age. You'd have to ask my mother how many times I got spanked for blatant defiance. (On second thought, don't ask). I also have this crazy drive to understand 'why' about everything.

That said; I ran across a submission call for angel themed short stories and immediately envisioned a too-big-for-his-britches guardian angel—a mix of the character Michael, from the movie Michael, and the character Gabriel, from the movie Constantine, hence, the perfect rebellious attitude, personality, and outlook—my favorite type of character.

Anyway, I had no name for Zagzagel right off, but I knew he would be a guardian angel and that he and Big Papa (Zag's endearing title for God) would be at constant odds. Sadly, seconds later, I also knew who his charge would be. Suffice to say, I poured a very real life experience into FORSAKEN. If only Zagzagel had been there for the young man who I knew all those years ago. That's all I'll say on that.

It was unfortunate the publisher asking for angel stories found mine "didn't quite fit" their call. I wasn't worried and was about to submit to another of my publishers when I saw Untreed Reads' call for submissions. The series didn't spring to mind, however, until after I'd submitted FORSAKEN to Jay Hartman at Untreed Reads. The idea of focusing on various LGBT charges and their problems and having them Zag's responsibility unfolded, as Jay considered my story. 

How many more stories do you have planned?
I have three more—six in total. The next one is titled, LOST. It's about an elderly homeless person of transgender named, Charley. Definitely not the "charge confused about their love interest " as one review accurately describes the series thus far. I'm still working out the details for story number five, but I have the last in the mini-series laid out. That is, unless my readers convince me to continue. To be honest, considering how emotionally drained I am from writing this series of shorts, the collective "you all" would have to be mighty convincing to get me to continue.

Do you write in more than one genre?  Where else are you published?
I write in many genres and will often cross genres. Mostly homoerotic romances, but nearly all of those cross genre with—Western, Sci-fi, Fantasy, Paranormal, I even have a Mystery series in the works. All of my writing is LGBTQI centric, meaning my characters fall within a wide spectrum of gender and sexuality.

Most of my works are published with Noble Romance Publishing. I started with them back in January 2009 because they were open to my ideas. They've been good to me, even helped me improve my craft significantly. So much so, I'm now also an Editor.

I have stories in anthologies from Ravenous Romance and STARbooks Press, and I have more gay erotic romances with Dreamspinner Press and Changeling Press.
What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads?
Besides ambition? Well, Untreed Reads put out a call for stories, short and non erotic. Those two factors encouraged me to submit my angel story to them.

As is obvious from my list of publishers, I write Romance. Though much of my work barely fits the mold of the genre, I continue to hold out for that HEA or HFN endings. I also enjoy writing short as opposed to novel length (which I have yet to do, by the way).

I gave Untreed Reads a shot because Romance writers often get a bad wrap. Personally, I write the stuff because it sells, but the reason I write at all is because I can, and I enjoy bringing my worlds and characters to life and introducing them with others. So, on a quest to prove that this Romance writer is still, first and foremost, a writer, I submitted my first non-erotic story to Untreed Reads. Apparently, even without writing all that smut into my stories, I'm capable of fashioning a quite interesting tale. Imagine that.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover?
Very involved, always—but only because I know myself. To a certain extent, I'm shallow. I admit, I often judge books by their covers, at least at first glance. I often don't change my mind until a blurb or a recommendation can convince me to give the book a chance otherwise. With that in mind, I try to be as involved as the individual publisher allows in choosing the art and even the colors used on each of my covers. Color can set the mood or tone of the story, even represent the theme. I think writing is an art, as any other, and should be represented as such.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
Pardon my language, but I've been called a Promo-Ho, which I think answers the question, but I'll elaborate for those unfamiliar with the term.

I'm on tens of dozens of social media sites, including more than a half-dozen blogs, which I post regularly to most. I also have a bi-monthly column, 'My Way', which becomes active in August at The Pagan and the Pen. You can find me at all the sites you mentioned, along with nearly 100 Yahoo Groups, LinkedIn, Authors Den, LiveJournal, MySpace, a variety of Nings, and many virtual bookshelves such as, Goodreads, GLBT Bookshelf, etc.

One thing I've learned in the two years I've been writing is not to attempt to draw attention only to your books. With the onslaught of social media, readers expect you to interact with them, and many times, on a personal level, even if it's something as base and utterly ridiculous (in my opinion) as Tweeting what you ate for breakfast.

For example, I'm fascinated at the number of responses I receive when I blog about my family. Why any stranger would care, I don't know, but I think it has to do with people's inherent longing for interaction. Perhaps the relentless pursuit of wanting to know about others' lives is tied directly to the evolution of technology allowing us to do more with less. Though we've advanced to the point of never having to interact physically with another person if we choose, I think being human, we'll always long for that personal touch. As technology leads us to isolate ourselves further with each new advance, what we miss physically, we'll compensate for online on a more personal or intimate level.

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day?
I don't know that digital will ever replace print publishing completely. Something inside me hopes that will never happen, at least. Digital will continue to grow, though, and eventually it will consume more than a majority of the market. Some predict in less than five years. The upcoming generation is tech savvy and tech hungry. God only knows how ravenous for new technology the following gen will be. In my idealistic world, I would hope books I can hold, turn the pages, and smell the paper and the ink last forever. Realistically though, the print industry as a whole remains in a steady decline, while readers' wants and needs seem intent on catching up to the speed of the technological evolution.  

What’s next for you?
In August, I have a gay erotic novella, Trey #3, coming to Noble Romance. I'm also venturing into the YA world writing as BJ Holt, sometimes co-writing with up and coming author, Zak Gaap. Our first short story, Not Quite Pizza, will be out later this year.

Also, I'm working up a story for Untreed Reads' holiday anthology. As if I don't have enough works in progress, I'm considering answering Untreed Reads' call for Steampunk too.

Thanks for having me here today. Your questions really made me think.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Reality of Friendship

I'm sure all of you have received those "friendship" emails that are all warm and fuzzy, but I got this one the other day.  This is my idea of friendship-the stone cold truth.

1. When you are sad -- I will help you get drunk and plot revenge against the sorry bastard who made you sad.

2. When you are blue -- I will try to dislodge whatever is choking you.

3. When you smile -- I will know you are thinking of something that I would probably want to be involved in. 

4. When you are scared -- I will rag on you about it every chance I get until you're NOT.

5. When you are worried -- I will tell you horrible stories about how much worse it could be until you quit whining.

6. When you are confused -- I will try to use only little words.

7. When you are sick --Stay the hell away from me until you are well again. I don't want whatever you have.

8. When you fall -- I will laugh at your clumsy ass, but I'll help you up. [For this one I have provided my family and friends with endless amount of laughter.]

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Imogen Rose

Available at Amazon

Next up in my author interview series is Imogen Rose.  PORTAL would have remained in her imagination, to be shared only with her daughter, Lauren, had her eight-year-old not insisted that she wrote it down. In the course of a month, Imogen typed while Lauren waited eagerly by the printer for the pages to appear, and a novel took shape.

The warm reception PORTAL has received has encouraged Imogen to continue with the story and the Portal Chronicles. The sequel, EQUILIBRIUM, has just been published.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I have always been a dreamer. I often dream in sequels, continuing dream lines from night to night. I decided to type this particular dream one morning (it was a lazy Sunday morning) and my nine-year old daughter read it and asked, “What happens next?” So, it began. It was a very fun experience. All my previously published work is in science, so it was a very different kid of writing, I love it.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
I wrote the book for my daughter, and I wanted it in a format she could easily carry about read. So, I tried Createspace (just to get a paperback version made for her) and found out that I could actually publish it and put it up on Amazon…awesome! Once I had done that, I discovered Kindle etc. It’s been a fun journey.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Not actively, however I will certainly consider any offers that come my way.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did! I have always needed a creative outlet. I have dabbled in photography and digital art. The pictures I use, I took myself.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
It was such a thrill!  And it still it, I am blown away at the great reception PORTAL has received.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I have a website (not many people visit it), but my facbook page is fairly active. I try to be as active as I can on the Kindle forums.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, Barnes and Noble, Createspace, my website and a bunch of other online stores.

What’s next for you?
I have just launched Book Two of the Portal Chronicles, EQUILIBRIUM. Next will be Book Three, QUANTUM.

Thanks Imogen.  You’re welcome to come back anytime for another guest spot!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Interview with H.P. Mallory

Available at Amazon

A warm welcome to H.P. Mallory!

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I was living in Cambridge, England two years ago and I’d discovered the works of Laurel K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris. After falling in love with my series, I was overcome with the need to try my hand out at my own version of an urban fantasy/ paranormal romance and Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble was born.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Yes, I sent many queries out and received a great response. I ended up signing with my dream NY agent…more to come on that in the next  question.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
So, after landing the perfect agent and thinking I was on the road to publishing fame and glory, the economy tanked and my agent went MIA (not literally but as far as my career goes). 

After that bad taste in my mouth, I decided to take the bull by the horns and self publish. And I’m thrilled I did. I’ve been really excited about the response to my books and I wish I’d done this earlier. I love the idea that I’m ultimately responsible for the success or failure of my career.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I wouldn’t be opposed to it. If I can prove myself through the ebook market, I’d be open to a hard copy version. I’m not sure about the whole agent route again though.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did do all the design of the covers though I didn’t create the art. I was able to find the drawings and then I altered them in photoshop.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
I was thrilled! It was a really exciting moment. And I’m really pleased with my sales so far. They just keep getting better and better. I’m especially elated when I read good reviews from people. It’s just a cool feeling to think—“wow, they’re talking about my book!”

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I am pretty much everywhere on the web. I have my own website, blog, Twitter account, Facebook and My Space page. Here is that info if anyone is interested:
www.urbanfantasynovels.comH.P. Mallory Website Mallory My Space Page, Mallory Twitter Page,

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes, they are available at smashwords:

If anyone is interested, here is a quick summary of each book:

Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble:
A self-deprecating witch with the unique ability to reanimate the dead. A dangerously handsome warlock torn between being her boss and her would-be lover. A six hundred year old English vampire with his own agenda; one that includes an appetite for witches. The Underworld in a state of chaos. Let the games begin.

Life isn’t bad for psychic Jolie Wilkins. True, she doesn’t have a love life to speak of, but she has a cute house in the suburbs of Los Angeles, a cat and a quirky best friend. 

Enter Rand Balfour, a sinfully attractive warlock who insists she’s a witch and who just might turn her life upside down. Rand hires her to help him solve a mystery regarding the death of his client who also happens to be a ghost. Jolie not only uncovers the cause of the ghost’s demise but, in the process, she brings him back to life!

Word of Jolie’s incredible ability to bring back the dead spreads like wildfire, putting her at the top of the Underworld’s most wanted list. Consequently, she finds herself at the center of a custody battle between a villainous witch, a dangerous but oh-so-sexy vampire, and her warlock boss, Rand. 

To Kill A Warlock:
The murder of a dark arts warlock. A shape-shifting, ravenous creature on the loose. A devilishly handsome stranger sent to investigate. Sometimes working law enforcement for the Netherworld is a real bitch.

Dulcie O’Neil is a fairy. And not the type to frolic in gardens. She’s a Regulator—a law-enforcement agent who monitors the creatures of the Netherworld to keep them from wreaking havoc in the mortal world.  
When a warlock is murdered and Dulcie was the last person to see him alive, she must uncover the truth before she’s either deported back to the Netherworld, or she becomes the next victim. 
Enter Knight Vander, a sinfully attractive investigator sent from the Netherworld to work the case with Dulcie. Between battling her attraction to her self-appointed partner, keeping a sadomasochistic demon in check, and fending off the advances of a sexy and powerful vampire, Dulcie’s got her hands full. As the body count increases, Dulcie finds herself battling dark magic, reconnoitering in S&M clubs and suffering the greatest of all betrayals.

What’s next for you?
Well, I’m in the process of finishing my third urban fantasy book at the same time that I’m working on the two sequels for Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble and To Kill A Warlock.

Here are the Amazon links for each:
Fire Burn and Cauldron Bubble:

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Interview with Victorine Lieske

Available at Amazon

Next up I'd like to welcome Victorine Lieske.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I wrote Not What She Seems because I had injured my back and couldn’t do anything else.  I had read all of the books in my house, and wanted to read a book full of suspense, mystery, and romance.  Since I didn’t have the right book, I wrote my own.  It was such a wonderful experience!

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
Yes, I sent out ten query emails.  The first response I got gave me an unexpected reaction.  I found myself looking at the unopened email and hoping the agent didn’t want to read my manuscript or represent me.  I didn’t have time to promote a book, do book signings or be under contract to write another book.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
I read about how other authors were doing well by publishing their own books on the Kindle.  I decided it wouldn’t hurt to put it out there.  It was just sitting on my hard drive gathering digital dust.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
No, I’m happy being an indie author.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did design my cover art.  I took graphic design classes in college, so I thought I would put it to good use.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
Getting my first sale was amazing.  I hadn’t had the book up for long, and I was floored that someone already had bought it.  I’ve been very pleased with sales ever since.  I’ve sold over 700 books in 3 months.  Each and every sale brings me joy.  To know that people are enjoying my story is even better.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I mostly hang around and chat with people.  I do have a website:, twitter:, facebook:, and a blog:

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I recently went through CreateSpace to make my book available in paperback, and did get the expanded distribution.  The paperback version of my book should show up on other websites soon.

What’s next for you?
Currently I’m working on a novel called The Overtaking.  If you want to read the first chapter, it’s up on my website, at

Thanks Victorine.  Good luck with your next book!  I’d love for you to come back again when it’s published and do another guest spot.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Interview with David Derrico

Available at Amazon

Next up I'd like to welcome David Derrico.  David has 3 books available for sale.

Briefly describe your journey in writing your first book.
I’d have to say the journey started in college, where I majored in philosophy and wrote my thesis on ethical theory. I got hooked into philosophy after taking a course on contemporary moral issues—I really enjoyed discussing and debating right and wrong, moral theories, and “gray area” ethical situations.

Once I graduated, my prior love for writing (I had previously written short stories, articles for the school newspaper, etc.), my ethics background, and the hundreds of science fiction novels I had read all came together to motivate me to try writing something … epic. One day I had a burst of inspiration for the start of a great story, one that would combine action & adventure with exploration of deeper ethical issues. Before I knew it, a few pages grew into a few chapters, along with character sketches and an outline. From there, I could hardly wait to get my ideas down on paper, and I worked on Right Ascension with pretty much every free second I had.

Did you query agents or traditional publishers before publishing on Amazon?
I finished Right Ascension ten years ago, and at the time, e-books were just a tiny speck of what they would eventually become. The independent author movement was yet to gain traction. So, I bought a copy of Writer’s Market and spent hundreds of dollars sending off query letters, sample chapters, and self-addressed stamped envelopes to a couple of hundred publishers and agents. Some even sent back polite form rejection letters. Some ignored me, some wrote “No thanks” in the margin of my own query letter and sent that back, and not one made any indication they read even the first word of what I had sent. Finally, one agent asked for a few more chapters, then the first 100 pages, then the whole manuscript, and then even offered to represent me! I went out and celebrated with my friends, drinking more than was strictly good for me, and then the next morning I actually did some research on this agent. In my hungover state, I learned that the agent had a terrible reputation in the industry, and didn’t have any successful clients to speak of. That was not a happy morning.

What factors influenced your decision to self-publish?
I eventually was contacted by a small e-book publisher who had the poor fortune to get into the e-book game 8–10 years too early. But I sold a few books there, was paid real royalties (with no money flowing from me to the publisher), and even won their first “E-Book of the Year” award. They expanded into POD and my book was on Amazon and in the Baker & Taylor databases. It was fun, and quite a thrill selling my work to strangers.

Sadly, they went out of business, and my novels languished for several years. More recently, I quit my all-consuming job as an attorney and devoted myself to re-working my novels, creating new covers, editing, adding a couple of new scenes, etc. I felt they were very strong, if only I could get them in front of readers. When I learned of self-publishing through Amazon, it was a no-brainer for me: I had two very polished books that I knew people would enjoy, so why not put them out there? I worked on the Amazon formatting and full-wrap cover design (for the POD version), put them up on Amazon, and was thrilled to see a trickle of sales, then sales doubled, then tripled, then tripled again, and I fully embraced self-publishing.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
I’d always listen to any business proposal regarding publishing my books. But right now, I’m earning enough through self-publishing that I would be very hesitant to give up my e-book rights for the tiny advances I understand are customary for many first-time publishing deals. I’m pretty much over the “prestige” of being signed by a large publishing house, so I’d listen to what they could offer in terms of editing, marketing, distribution, and an advance. I’m very wary of tying up e-book rights (that have all indications of earning me a decent supplemental income for many years) indefinitely with large publishers who, for the most part, seem determined to crush e-books to retain their print dominance. On the other hand, I’d love to work with a large publisher on print rights, since that is their strength and where their marketing and distribution prowess comes into play. However, my understanding is that publishers normally want all rights or they aren’t interested.

Did you design your cover art?  If not, would you care to share your graphic designer’s information?
I did my own cover art. Well, to be more specific, I can’t even draw stick figures. So I used billion-dollar images (literally) from the Hubble Space Telescope as the backgrounds, and then used Photoshop to adjust colors and levels, add in the text and text effects, lighting, shadows, embossing, etc., etc. It was a ton of work, but I’m very happy with how the covers came out.

The cover for my latest novel, The Twiller, was a special challenge since I wanted to add a little something extra: a colorful, cartoonish representation of the title character, known as the Twiller. While I could never draw it freehand, through lots of study and trial and error I managed to create some vector graphics using shapes and gradients that I was very pleased with.

How did you feel when you got your first sale?  Are you pleased with sales so far?
Getting those first few sales to random strangers was a total thrill. You start imagining people in different states and various countries finding your book and reading and enjoying it. You start to feel like a “real author,” whatever that means exactly.

Sales so far have exceeded my expectations for indie publishing. I had sold a few hundred back with my old publisher, and was expecting similar numbers. Sales through Amazon started slowly, but steadily built to the point that all three of my novels reached the Top 1,000 in the overall Kindle store. I also just learned that my novels have been selling hundreds of copies over on B&N as well, so that was definitely a pleasant surprise.

I’m now at a point where I’m very thankful that my sales are many, many times what people say to expect for indie published books (and better than some estimates for traditionally-published books!), but they’re not yet enough for me to make a full-time living through my writing, which is my ultimate goal.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I have my own website,, which I recently re-did to make it much more interactive, dynamic, and also to include my “Always Write” Blog on e-books, publishing, and technology. I’ve spent a huge amount of time on my website, and even though I’ve never been a whiz at generating traffic, I get a steady trickle and have started getting followers and comments on my blog, which is always fun.

I also spend a fair amount of time reading (and sometimes posting) on various writing and e-book-related forums. I definitely spend more time reading than posting on forums, since I try to interact with the community and keep the self-promotion to a minimum. I do maintain a Facebook fan page (, where I have giveaways, run contests, host discussion questions, and keep in touch with fans.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
My books are for sale in e-book form at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, Sony, Smashwords, the Apple iBook Store, and my own website.

Paperbacks are available through Amazon, B&N, CreateSpace, and my own website as well.

What’s next for you?
I just finished my third novel, The Twiller, last month. It was a great experience—the writing process was familiar yet fresh since this book was a light-hearted, satirical comedy (instead of a serious space opera with ethical undertones). And even the less enjoyable aspects of creating a self-published novel (cover design, e-book formatting, marketing) were much easier and took less time the third time around.

For the moment, I’m working on promoting that novel, and then I’ll be at a bit of a crossroads. As I said, my sales are very encouraging, yet they’re not enough to support me and my family full-time. So I’ll either need to find a way to expand sales to a level where I can make a living, or go back to my legal career and hopefully have time to continue writing on the side.

Right Ascension

Declination (the sequel to Right Ascension)

The Twiller

Thanks for stopping by David.  I wish you the best of luck in your writing career!

Monday, July 19, 2010

RUN, a thriller by Michaelbrent Collings

Available at Amazon

I'd like to welcome back Michaelbrent Collings, author of Billy: Messenger of Powers.  Michaelbrent has a new thriller out and I'm delighted he's agreed to talk about it today.

You’ve previously written about your experience writing a YA fantasy called Billy: Messenger of Powers.  Your current book, RUN, is quite a shift, isn’t it?
Definitely. Billy, as you pointed out is a YA fantasy. It’s fun, it’s got dragons, mermaids, space scorpions (my heroes know how to get around!). It even has monsters and high school crushes and other challenges for the titular hero. All in all, I would describe Billy as a romp: lots of fun, a good ride. 

RUN is a completely different kind of beastie. In Billy, the central story is about this kid who discovers that Powers – people who can do magic – live among us, and that he may be the key to winning a war between the evil Darksiders and the more beneficent Dawnwalkers. In RUN the central story is much darker: the main character basically wakes up one morning and by the end of the day everyone – friends, neighbors, coworkers, everyone – he knows is trying to kill him. He has to stay alive long enough to figure out why, and how to get out of this situation. So while Billy definitely careens along like a fun amusement ride, RUN is more of a straight drop into a black tunnel with scary things jumping out at you every couple of pages.

Which of the two books did you find more enjoyable?  Which was harder to write?
As to which was more enjoyable, I liked them both equally. Whenever I write it tends to be because I’ve got some kind of story bottled up inside that needs to be set free. Like magma oozing up through the earth’s crust: I have to either let it out in a controlled fashion, or else there will be an explosion. So though they were both very different stories, I enjoyed them both very much.

As to which was harder…I guess I’d have to wimp out on that one, too, and say they were both tough in different respects. Billy was very simple in terms of plotting, and the fact that it operates in a realm of magic (albeit one that overlaps our "real" world) gave me a certain amount of freedom. Stuck somewhere? Call a Pegasus! Can’t remember something? There’s gotta be a spell for that! 

But at the same time, I was always keenly aware that I was writing a YA book. So while I wanted it to be a book that was fun for all age groups, and I knew that it was going to be a book that kicked off a series that is ultimately about a war to rule all humanity, I had to be very careful in how I depicted certain things – fighting and death, for example.

With RUN, because it was a thriller for “adults,” I knew I didn’t have to worry as much about whether or not someone dies (or if they died in a particularly unpleasant way), but the plotting was much harder. RUN is ultimately a mystery, and so I had to begin with the end in mind, and figure out how to get there. It was like traveling from here to Bermuda without more than a beginning and an ending coordinate. 

So, long story short, both Billy and RUN were great fun, and both presented specific challenges.

RUN is a very thrilling book with an apt title.  What do you think it takes to make a good thriller?
With thrillers, the concept is the first key. There has to be something to hook the reader immediately. It can either be some extremely suspenseful action scene, or some kind of mystery. In RUN, there’s a bit of both: it starts out with the assassination of a character in the Old West, and the audience is left (hopefully) having enjoyed the thrills, and also left with a few questions that will make it impossible to put the book down. I’m not going to ruin it, but I WILL say that not everyone who dies in the beginning of RUN dies exactly the way you would expect them to. (Oooooh! The suspense!)

Then, on top of the premise, the “hook,” you also have to have believable and relatable characters. People that you genuinely want to spend time with. This includes both the protagonists and the antagonists – you have to be interested in both the good guys and the bad guys for the story to work. I mean, tell a story about someone who is killing everyone he comes across who is wearing red shoes, and you don’t have much of a story: even if the people wearing the shoes are fascinating, a hatred of colorful footwear just isn’t interesting enough a motivation to care about over several hundred pages of wordplay. 

What about a twist?  Since The Sixth Sense came out, it seems like most thrillers have a mandatory twist at the end.  Does RUN have such a twist?
I actually began writing RUN long before The Sixth Sense came out.  But in spite of that, yes, RUN does have a twist. Actually, it has numerous. That’s one of the fun things about this book, and one of the things I most like to do when writing a thriller. I love taking a situation and turning it on its head every few pages. You have to be careful, because it’s a fine line between revealing something that makes the audience re-think everything that’s gone before…and just confusing people. But if you can do it, it’s totally gratifying to lay the clues for what’s going to happen in such a way that when the twist(s) do(es) occur(s), people whack themselves on the forehead and say “Why didn’t I see that coming????”

One of the most gratifying experiences with RUN actually came when I got a phone call from someone I had sent it to as an early reader. I picked up the phone and this person actually started SCREAMING at me. There was no, “Hi, Michaelbrent, how are you?” or anything like that, just an immediate rant.  I finally got her calmed down enough to figure out what was wrong, and it turned out that the final twist in RUN had caught her so off-guard that she a) was totally floored and b) knew she’d have to go back through the book immediately and re-read it for all the clues to what she now knew was going to happen.

Twists are great when they’re earned. For me, they have to be things that have a carefully-laid foundation throughout the course of the book (or screenplay, or whatever), so that they’re not some kind of dues ex crapina (that’s an ancient Greek practice of trying to tack a crappy “surprise” ending on an otherwise mediocre piece of work). The clues have to be there. They have to be subtle. And you have to time it so that when the final clue is revealed, the clue that pulls it all together, your audience is both in shell shock about how perfect that ending is, and also totally shocked that they missed all those clues in the first place.

What do you prefer?  Thrillers or fantasy?
Gosh, that’s like asking whether I prefer breathing or drinking. I’m not one of those folks who likes to be pigeonholed. I think stories are stories, and they are the key thing. Genre is secondary: the most efficient mode to tell a particular story is cloaked within the rules of some genre or other. But I can’t say which particular type of story is my favorite. Or rather, the closest I can come is to say that whichever kind of story I’m writing now is probably my favorite. 

Where can we get RUN?
RUN is available for kindle at, and for various other e-readers at Likewise for Billy.  Both are doing good sales, so be sure to check them out! And if you like them, be sure to tell your friends.  If not...well...I guess tell your enemies. ;o)

Anything else you want to add?
Two things: 1) anyone interested in my daily goings-on can sign up for my Facebook page at which is where the most up-to-the-minute info about what I’m doing can be found; and 2) thanks so much for having me stop by again! Hopefully it won’t be the last time!

Thanks again Michaelbrent for stopping by and you can be assured, there will be more invitations in the future.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

My Other Artistic Endeavor

I mentioned over on the Kindleboards that I was able to afford my new kindle because I made money from my other business.  I got requests for pics so here are a few.

My craft business is making decorated light boxes.  My business partner Sandy and I sell them at craft shows in the fall.  For 2010 we have shows booked October - December in the MA/NH area.  Last year was our first year so here's hoping we do as well or better than 2009.  I sold over 250 boxes last year.  This year I'm aiming for 400.  I've expanded the selection to include more all-season ones.  There are so many designs - just whatever pops into my head at the moment.  Here's a few samples:

My Garden

Am working on some new posts for next week so in the meantime, enjoy my back garden.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Interview with Frank Zubek

Available at Amazon

Next up is author Frank Zubek.  Welcome Frank!

Briefly describe your journey in writing.
I originally started out as a cartoonist several years ago, which included writing all the punch lines. While I made a few bucks from it, I wanted to see how far I could go with just the writing. I went the usual route, a few children’s books, then some short stories and then novels.

Any luck?
In the past ten years, I’ve had a few short stories published both online and on paper. I also had a New York agent show interest in a novel I had written, but he turned it down eventually. Such is the business. Knowing that I could get that far (attracting the attention of an agent) encouraged me to keep writing.

What genre are your books?
I’m trying a bit of everything from literary to fantasy.

What made you decide to try Amazon?
I saw the Kindle just exploding. Plus the fact that some of my work had already made the traditional rounds and were just sitting on the shelf. This way they have at least one more chance.

Will you try to garner a traditional publishing contract for any future books?
Yes. My next book, a fantasy, will be sent to agents. If, over time, it doesn’t work out, I can always release it on Kindle. I’m confident it will find an audience.

Did you design your cover art?
Yes, I did. I photographed all my book covers myself. There are several factors to consider with each cover. I need room in the image for the title and my name as well as making sure that the image itself is going to be easy to “read” when it’s such a small size on Amazon.

I have a horror story collection coming out soon and I’ve been going to cemeteries for ideas. I’ve been trying to find the right combination of grave markers and surrounding landscape. The challenge is getting the shot that I need without allowing any names on the grave markers being seen so that I avoid any potential problems with estates (on the off chance the book really gets popular).

It may sound morbid to some but if I succeed it’ll be a striking cover. And good covers are an important factor in getting sales.

Are you pleased with sales so far?
The Man In The Background, which is a collection of some of my short stories, has been selling slowly, but I expected that.  It’s just a handful of literary short stories.

My next book, called Empath: Nick Crowell, Paranormal Detective is due out in July and should sell better because it’s horror. It’s a collection of all the original stories that were published in Demonminds, plus a brand new story written exclusively for this collection. The stories feature a cop, Nick Crowell, who almost dies after being shot in a cemetery and from then on, he encounters ghosts and people with paranormal problems. The unique thing about his stories is that he isn’t able to help everyone he meets and this weighs on him through the series.

What kinds of social media (Twitter,  Facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums) are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book?
So far, just the kindleboards and I have a blog.
Plus I’m on a few unrelated forums and I have links in my signature when they allow for that.  Readers can contact me at

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
I’m hoping to release on Smashwords and several others soon.

What are your ultimate hopes?
A movie contract on any one of the stories would be great (grin).  Barring that, just knowing that a few thousand total strangers took the time to read my work and liked it would make all the effort and sacrifice worth it.

What’s next for you?
A fantasy novella. It’s called Lives in Ruen and will focus on the lives of townspeople who are under the control of an evil queen. To keep order in the town, she has a witch turn any lawbreakers into inanimate objects such as candles and tables and doormats and such.

They stay that way for the rest of their natural lives. The book will focus on the friends and families of the Turned Ones and how they get by day to day. The whole thing is a metaphor about the abuse of power and I hope to release it later this year.

Thanks for the interview!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Editor Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads talks about epublishing

Today I'd like to welcome Jay Hartman, Editor-in-Chief, of Untreed Reads Publishing to the blog.  

How long have you been Editor-in-Chief of Untreed Reads?
I partnered with K.D. Sullivan in December of 2009, and we launched Untreed Reads in late January of 2010. Previously, I had been running Untreed Reads as a blog about the ebook world, and had previously been the Content Editor for which had been the Internet's leading site for all things ebook.

What was your inspiration for going into electronic publishing?
Publishing had always been a dream of mine. As the ebook landscape expanded, I found it more and more difficult to find ebooks that I wanted to read. In a business dominated by romance and erotica, I couldn't find enough literature or mystery to interest me. I felt there was a niche there that needed to be filled, and fortunately for me my business partner agreed with me.

What types of books do you represent?
We publish pretty much any genres except romance, erotica and poetry. We don't mind if a story has a romantic element, but that can't be the main focus. We're expanding out now into more non-fiction, children's and foreign-language titles. We hadn't planned originally on being so strong in short stories, but there's a big demand in the market and we're one of very few publisher willing to publish them as stand-alones instead of in anthologies.

How much editorial work do you provide your authors?
Typically, we expect the submissions to be in "ready-to-go" status. That means they've already been looked over by a copyeditor and a proofreader. However, we do provide what we call a "content assessment.”  Ours is really more of a surface polish, indicating sections that we think don't work particularly well for one reason or another. I'll send that back to the author to make changes or defend their manuscript. Except for actual proofreading, we don't do the editing for the author.

The author gets all of my content assessment notes, then has the right to defend any changes they feel shouldn't be made. We'll go back and forth, compromise and compromise, until the final manuscript is good to go. Then, after proofreading, the author gets to look at THOSE changes and give input.

Do you have a graphic artist on staff?
We do have a phenomenal cover artist named Dara England ( to see some of her work) that I work with directly on the ideas I have for the various covers. Sometimes I get stumped and forward the whole work to her to read and give me some ideas. She usually hits them out of the park.

How involved is the author with the cover graphics?
The author is EXTREMELY involved with the process. It is critical to me that no matter how big Untreed gets, I never lose that dialogue with the author. The final decision on cover art is ultimately ours, but we usually bounce three or four mock-ups off the author to consider. I can't think of a single time yet where the author and I weren't on the same page with the cover. Not bad, considering we have 25+ titles out there right now and a lot more in the pipeline.

How long does it take from submission to publication?
Due to high volume, it typically takes us 60-90 days to respond to submissions. Once we've approved a title, it takes on average 3-5 weeks to bring the title to market, depending on what types of editing or proofreading might need to be done.

Where do you distribute your client’s books?
The shorter list might be where DON'T we distribute! We have distribution agreements with Lightning Source, Overdrive and Kobo that take us throughout the world, but we also work with Apple, Baker and Taylor, Amazon, Smashwords and so many more. We are constantly researching new vendors with whom to place our titles. In addition to our site, Untreed Reads titles are currently available at about 50 retailers worldwide and for every reading device.

What is your royalty split with authors?
It's a 50/50 split after vendor fees. I know the industry has gone back and forth on this one, but we've received plenty of support for our model from not only our authors but from several very large New York literary agents as well. Incidentally, authors who have agents usually have to give up 15% of their royalties to their agent. We're very unique in that we actually split those fees with them if we work with their agent directly. We're now partnered with several agents who are bringing us some really great work.

How much publicity do you provide your authors?
Tons. We partner with a LOT of review and interview sites. We're also active on Facebook, Twitter, Kindleboards, Mobileread forums, Yahoo Groups and anywhere and everywhere we possibly can. Every release gets publicity blitz that goes out to approximately 30 different places, and we are always looking for more.

One last question, do you charge the author any up-front fees? 
OUCH! Charge the author fees?????? Are you kidding???

Ahem! REAL publishers don't charge their authors ANYTHING to publish. :) That would be vanity publishing or POD or something. We don't make any money if our authors don't, which is the way it should be. Our authors don't pay for covers, ISBNs...nothing. Just bring us clean manuscripts and we'll take care of the rest.

That's one of those touchy subjects for me. Too many ebook publishers forget that they are in business because of their authors. Authors should be treated like gold, ALWAYS. :) :)

Thanks Jay.  It’s been a pleasure learning about Untreed Reads.  I wish you great success in the e-publishing world.