Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 11 – Who Is Red Tash?

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win :)

Red Tash is the author of This Brilliant Darkness and quite an intriguing woman. From her website:

Red Tash knows that all you really care about is that she writes good stories. She does that. Red’s books make you think, make you wonder, make you laugh, and keep you turning pages. They’ve been known to keep hardened readers up at night, racing to the end of the book.

Visit her at her website for a free sample of her brilliance, dark or not.

Who would you say is the one person who has had the most impact on your life?

I assume you mean to imply positive impact. I honestly don’t want to answer that, because of the super-corniness factor, but I will give you a hint. His birthday is coming up very soon, and it’s kind of a big deal.

Negative impact is a sad story. Not very holly jolly, but I would be lying if it I said it didn’t affect every longform fiction piece I’ve worked on so far.

Who is the one literary character you would date and why? Where do you go and what do you do?

There is no one I’d wish to date again in a million years. I am very happily married, and I’m a newlywed, and at my age, there is nothing appealing about dating whatsoever. I will say, though, that it would be super cool to hang out with Charles Simic, Stephen King, Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, JK Rowling–these are my writing idols. Elizabeth Bishop. Mark Twain. Poe. Stop me! I like people, the stranger the better.

As far as completely fictional characters go, I used to say I didn’t understand why people ran off with the Doctor, on Dr. Who. But now, I think if the Doctor would have asked me when I was much, much younger like he did Amy Pond, I’d probably have gone.

Tell us what your writing process is like. Pantser or plotter?

A little of both. I’m down to the end of Troll or Derby, and I’ve got each of the last few chapters outlined. Scenes keep stretching themselves out, and that’s irritating me, so I’m having to kinda force some of that pantsing to fit my plotting. It’s okay. It’ll work out.

Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your five deepest desires for Christmas.

You really want to know this? You want me to break out into song doing My Grown Up Christmas List? Because I can.

There is truly nothing I desire for Christmas as a human errand. All those desires are on the shoulders of angels.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing writers today?

Deciphering the market. If you want to try and go indie, do you have a strong enough platform to support your sales? How many hours per day are you willing to promote, and will you be satisfied with the resulting sales? If you’re trying to be traditionally published, how long are you willing to let your story sit and bake in the sun, waiting for someone to buy it? Can you stand to watch indies with lesser stories become best-sellers, releasing book after book, while your masterpiece rakes in rejection after rejection?

I wrote to one of my former favorite agents last week. Got a nasty reply in response. Just, really, you know–uncalled for. Rude. I was considering querying for my upcoming novel. It’s so good, and I would really love to have that advance and that pre-release support. The prestige of being chosen, as lame as that sound to many, still exists in the eyes of most book-buyers. So, do I query or not, considering my favorite choice was a total bitch? How much of that do I feel like putting up with? It’s one thing to tell yourself that it doesn’t matter what people say, but the book I just published sat in a drawer for years because of what one unqualified reader decided about it. The power of “no” is huge, and I don’t know if I want to deal with that again.

How has your journalism background impacted your fiction writing?

Very, very much. I see the story unfold in my mind, and I report it expressly as it happens. My non-fiction is much more emotionally charged. All my writing benefits from snappier pacing, a distinct writerly voice, and well-researched background. Geez, let us not forget the virtues of writing in AP style. 😉

Tell us about your upcoming projects. Inquiring minds want to know.

Troll or Derby is a YA fantasy with a heavy dose of sex, drugs, rock & roll, and roller derby. It’s set in rural Indiana, in the realm of the evil troll overlord McJagger and his Fairy Godsmacker roller derby team, home court entertaiment at his illegal casino. Roller Deb, a teenager raised as a human, discovers she’s a fairy, and falls in league with McJagger’s rogue troll nephew, and the two of them create havoc everywhere from the flea market to the feed store. There’s a lot of magic, blood, fire, and a Thunderbird named Biggie Smalls. In other words, it’s a love story.

After that I might do the sequel to This Brilliant Darkness. There is also a line of folks asking for a non-fiction book I promised under my respectable journalism identity and all that. So, we’ll see. I might work on two books at once. Well, three. I already have a memoir half-written, as well.

When you are feeling at your lowest, what book or movie do you read/watch to make you feel better?

There are so many good ones, but my all time fall back is Harry Potter. I love the books and movies, but there is little to compare to the pure escapism of listening to Stephen Fry narrate the British audio versions. The American versions by Jim Dale are also nice, but Stephen Fry + J K Rowling is a home run.

I have also been known to watch Christmas movies year-round. Elf, A Christmas Story, It’s a Wonderful Life, and Love, Actually. If I someday write a Christmas book, it’ll be because of those.

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier :)

Hopalong to the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and plenty of chances to win cool, free swag!

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Creepfest Blog Hop Day 10 – Meet Jack Wallen

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win :)

1. Okay, about this zombie thing. What attracted you to write about the living dead?

I’ve always been a HUGE horror fan. Ever since I was a child. But ultimately the zombie fascination comes down to how the zombie can be used for such a powerful social, political, and emotional metaphor. This is especially true for the upcoming “meh” generation which really seems to have their heads so firmly planted in their smartphones, they are lost to everything around them.

But the impetus to write the I Zombie trilogy hit me hard one day when I asked myself the question: “What would it feel like to become a zombie?” I was so compelled by that question, I had to have an answer. I knew the only way to answer the question was to write the book myself. Thus was born I Zombie I.

2. What one thing scares you enough to wet your monkeypantz?

I’m one of those that isn’t scared by much. That’s a good thing, considering what I write (and that I write at night when the house is dark and quiet). The one thing that scares me enough to make me wet myself is obscurity. The idea that I (and everything I have worked so hard on) would fade away without anyone remembering, is that thing that makes me curl up inside of myself and wonder why someone hasn’t tightened down my straitjacket buckles.

3. Speaking of scary, sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your five fondest wishes for Christmas.

Well, Santa, here are my five wishes for Christmas: 1) I want my book sales to explode and my fans/readers to REALLY enjoy my work. 2) I want Clive Barker to finally get the Hellraiser reboot off the ground. 3) I want to walk into my day job, wearing a Vera Wang ball gown and heels, and hand the owners my letter of resignation. 4) I want my next two series (The Book of Jacob and Klockwerk Kabaret) to be met with wild abandon. 5) I want Rob Zombie to finally contact me to ask permission to film the I Zombie trilogy (Mr. Zombie, a heads up, the answer is an emphatic YES!)

4. Why do you think the horror genre is so popular with readers?

I don’t think the horror genre is popular as a whole. What I firmly believe is that horror has the most loyal fans of any genre. Why? Because for so long there was nothing for readers to sink their teeth into besides the old guard: King, Campell, Straub, Andrews, etc. Readers were desperate for something new and when they found that something new they were willing to cling to that author through thick and thin. And besides, people love to be frightened. They love to read a book, while tucked safely under the covers of their beds, that makes them wonder how or if they could survive. We are voyeurs by nature. We can’t help but look at the train wreck as we pass by. Being able to witness that train wreck, as it happens, knowing no one was hurt, is a huge attraction to human beings.

5. What is your writing process like and how many quarts of blood do you go through?

My writing process goes like this: I hand write my first draft in bed. Once that draft is done, I do the first rewrites as I transfer it to digital format. Once the first rewrites are done, I print that out and re-read, correcting issues and making sure the story is coherent. Once that is done, I send the story to beta readers and then on to editors.

As for blood? Well, let’s just say this: I am currently working on the third book in my Fringe Killer series. I wrote a kill scene and decided I wanted the discovery of the body to be when the reader discovered just what the killer did. But the more I thought about it, I realized I was cheating the reader from experiencing the blood bath from the killer’s perspective. So I went back and let the killer have her way with the victim. It was brutal.

6. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing writers today?

With the advent of the indie author scene, there is now an incredible amount of books out there. This is a GREAT time to be a writer and a reader. Problem is, how to you get your books seen when it sits in a pile that reaches the sky? You have to be clever in your marketing and, as far as I can tell, few of us authors are marketing professionals. We are artists, not business women and men. It’s the single biggest challenge we face and many fail. The most important thing to do is have patience and continue crafting. Eventually, if you do things right, your books will sell. If you lose patience you stand to make a mistake and lose major ground.

7. Not only do you write, but you also design book covers. What made you decide to take on book covers?

I knew what I wanted my covers to look like and no one was doing that kind of work. Yes, you can get some seriously wonderful covers if your books are of the Paranormal or YA genres, but so much of the horror covers were cliché and I didn’t want that. I had the skills and decided to put them to work. I think my horror covers really connect with the story. That’s very important to me, as I take the emotional kernel of a story and make it the core of the design for the cover.

8. You’re throwing a holiday party. What writers, either famous or not, would you invite and what would you serve?

My invite list would be pretty short: Clive Barker, Stephen King, Edward Lee, Max Barry, Neil Stephenson, Shea MacLeod, Heather Marie Adkins, M. Edward McNally, PJ Jones, Talia Jager, Alan Nayes, Lizzy Ford, Julia Crane, and Poppy Z. Brite.

9. Where is the safest place to wait out the Zombie Apocalypse?

With me. But honestly? There is no one safe place to wait it out. You’ll have to be on the move. Food and water could run out. Eventually enough noise will be made and the horde will find you. Moving about is the best option. But, if I did have to pick one singular location to wait it out, it would probably be the Center for Disease Control. Neither zombie or the infection that caused them will be getting into that building any time soon.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have quite a lot in the works. First and foremost is the third book in the Fringe Killer series, Endgame. Following that I will be completing the second Shero book (Shero II: Zombies and Bridesmaids) and then it’s on to some seriously exciting projects. I have a new zombie series planned, called The Book of Jacob. If you’ve read the I Zombie trilogy, the name will be familiar. This series will take place some thirty years after the I Zombie series and will be a much darker, bleaker series.

After “The Book of Jacob, Verse I” is finished, I will embark on what might be my most exciting project to date. I am going to venture into more steamy more punky worlds in a series called “Klockwerk Kabaret”. I can’t tell you how excited I am about starting that series – mostly because it will be a complete departure from my usual fare. But I do promise it will be quite different than the average steampunk novel. It will include my usual dark take on the world as well as plenty of corsets!

For more information on my upcoming works (and other fabulous things), check out my blog on monkeypantz.net.

BIO

Jack Wallen has a goal — to become the Zombie King. He won’t do that by dining on the brains of helpless victims. Instead he will write and write until his fingers and mind are nothing but meat for the beasts. During that time Jack will produce works of zombie fiction that are both enjoyable and cringe-worthy.

Of course, being of the insane writer clan, Jack isn’t just happy with the penning of zombie fiction. Oh no, the nightmare does not end there. Like the late, great Freddy Mercury, Jack wants it all — so, he will continue writing his Fringe Killer series as well as his joyous celebration of all things diverse — Shero.

For his inspiration to begin reading and writing, Jack thanks the ever-incredible Clive Barker for penning in a genre with words of grace and horror.

LINKS

I Zombie I
Amazon
Smashwords
Paperback

My Zombie My
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords

A Blade Away
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Paperback

Gothica
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Paperback

Shero
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Smashwords
Paperback

Get Jack’d
Twitter: jlwallen
Facebook
Zombie Radio

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier :)

Share

Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 7 – Introducing Jessica McHugh

Don’t forget to visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win :)

Jessica McHugh is an author of speculative fiction that spans the genre from horror and alternate history to epic fantasy. A prolific writer, she has devoted herself to novels, short stories, poetry, and playwriting. She has had ten books published in three years, including “Rabbits in the Garden”, “The Sky: The World” and the first three installments in her “Tales of Dominhydor” series. More info on Jessica’s speculations and publications can be found at JessicaMcHughBooks.com.

1. You’re quite a busy lady between working an outside job and penning multiple projects. How do you keep up with it all?

It’s a rough gig, that’s for sure. The most torturous part is being at my full time job when there’s a story I desperately want to write. I can fit in little writing spurts while at work, but it’s definitely not the same as being home.

But this is the life I chose. Dealing with this situation is like getting a tattoo. It hurts and it’s a lengthy process, but I’m not going to cry from the pain. I knew what I was getting into. I also know I always end up with something beautiful, something that makes it all worthwhile.

2. You write across a multitude of genres when many writers specialize in one. Which one is the easiest for you to write and why?

I’d say horror because it’s so much fun for me, but when I really think about it, suspense comes easiest to me. No matter what genre I write, there’s always some suspense, whether I originally intended on it or not. It just slips in, probably because I have so much fun with slow reveal of secrets, the misdirection, and the twists and turns of unraveling the characters’ capabilities.

3. Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your top five Christmas wishes.

1st off, I wish Santa didn’t smell like Doritos and Skoal. 2Nd, I wish I had a house with a patio where I could write during the summer. 3Rd, I wish one (or more) of my books would get super popular so I could ditch the day job. 4Th, I wish racism and homophobia would just disappear (although that might be a taller order than the day job-ditching). 5Th, I wish I didn’t have to exercise to be healthy. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it would be nice to devote that time to writing instead.

4. Out of all the imaginary worlds out there, which one would you chose to live on if you were banished from Earth and why?

I’d love to live in Dictionopolis from “The PhantomTollbooth”. There are lots of reasons, but mostly, I want to eat my words. “Turkey, pumpkin pie cheesecake, and pink champagne.” I’d be so happy right now if that worked.

5. What would you say are the biggest challenges to writers today?

I think there are so many talented self-published authors out there today and I respect so much of their work. However, the majority of the readers don’t understand that there are really remarkable authors available through those avenues. They think of self-published authors as people who CAN’T secure publishers, and that’s why I get frustrated when people just assume I’m self-published. Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’ve sent out the query letters and been accepted and published by several small presses. I’m extremely proud of those accomplishments and it really hurts my feelings when people dismiss my work, thinking I just uploaded it to some website and decided to call myself “published”. If the majority didn’t have such a disparaging attitude toward self-publishing, it wouldn’t be an issue, but unfortunately, being respected as self-published author, is a huge challenge writers face today. And being published by small presses isn’t too different.

6. If you could turn back the hands of time, like Cher, what would you do differently in your life if you could?

Any change I’d make might prevent me from meeting and marrying my husband, and I wouldn’t risk that for anything. His encouragement and support is what pushed me to try getting published in the first place. Plus, he’s pretty damn easy on the eyes.

7. What superhero would you chose to hang with?

I love Ozymandias from “The Watchmen”. Ozymandias (or Adrian Veidt) is the smartest man on the planet, after all. Plus, I love characters who help the world through what others perceive as villainy.

8. You’re at a dinner party and you see Stephen King sitting all alone. What do you do?

I certainly wouldn’t try to drug him, take him to my snowy mountain home, and break his ankles so he couldn’t escape. No, I certainly wouldn’t do that at all…

9. What is your writing process like? Pantser or plotter?

It depends on the story and any obstacles I face after diving in. I suppose I always start as a pantser, but after a bit of writing, I may stop and outline the story’s skeleton.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I’m trying very hard to finish the revision process on three different novels. 1: “Telinhe”, the 4th and final book in my “Tales of Dominhydor” epic fantasy series. 2: “Verses of Villany”, a historical fiction about playwright Christopher Marlowe. 3: “Pins”, a horror novel set in a strip club/bowling alley.

You can find Jessica here:

Homepage
Facebook
Blog
Twitter: theJessMcHugh
Amazon

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and plenty of free swag!

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier :)

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Creepfest Blog Hop – Day 6 – This Is Thea Gregory

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and have fun!

Don’t forget to check at the bottom of this post for some crazy prizes you can win :)

Thea writes zombie stories and science fiction. She was raised in rural Quebec, where her imagination was often her only friend, and this upbringing also engendered a fanatical love of reading and books.

Thea moved to the city at the tender age of 17 to study science, eventually majoring in physics, because physics is awesome. Her first love has always been science (fiction), and she maintains an unquenchable thirst for discovery and the unknown.

Hobbies: Reading, writing, cooking, gardening, yoga, cycling, gaming, anything Star Trek or Dune related, daydreaming, exploring, and trying new things.

Thea has two cats (Pip and Bonk), and one boyfriend (with two cats of his own), a former video game designer who moonlights as a cover artist.

1. Your premise for zombie stories as bedtime stories is very intriguing. What was your inspiration?

My inspiration came out of childhood for the first story. My mom used to tell me stories about people who comatose, but still able to hear/feel the world around them, but unable to interact. One day, I was pacing at home, and the idea that being a zombie could be a similar experience to being in that special kind of coma just clicked. I had other subsequent ideas for zombie stories after that, which I linked together to create the rest of the series. The overarching theme of the Zombie Bedtime Stories is that it’s about normal people in a bad situation—there are no super-prepared shotgun-chainsaw-machete wielding adrenaline junkies—just ordinary, scared people who want to escape with their lives.

2. You recently participated in the NaNo madness in November. How did that go, and what would you do differently?

NaNoWriMo went relatively well for me. I set the goal of finishing my 50000 words on the 25th, and I managed to do just that. The tough part for me was the face that I wasn’t in good health for that month, and the medication took a lot out of me when I needed to be at my most productive. Some days, I would sit at my screen for twelve hours trying to eke out my meager 2000 words, and on better days I would finish in two or three hours.
As for things I’d do differently, I think I’d make sure I was healthy this time, and do more character planning and outlining of the main plot.

3. Sit on Santa’s lap and tell him your five most desired wishes for Christmas.

I’m a Christmas baby, and I think at this point all I want for Christmas is a nice dinner at a steakhouse. Even a pub would be nice. It’s a little scrooge-like, but my dream is to spend Christmas in a country with no Christmas.

A Kindle would be nice, too, if not a touch materialistic. The rest would be miscellaneous kitchen stuff: a pasta machine, a pressure canner and a food processor.

4. Why do you think the horror genre is so popular with people?

I think horror is popular because it appeals to that dark place inside a person that likes being traumatized. The best stories are the ones that stay with you and hide under the bed at night, and horror has a way of working itself inside your mind. Even the most mundane everyday object can become an instrument of terror, and the possibility for near endless stories and unique monsters means that it’s very hard to burn out on.

5. You’re going to dinner with five literary figures who are they and who do you want to sit next to?

I’d say: Frank Herbert, William Shakespeare, George Orwell, Mary Shelley and Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I’d want to sit next to Frank Herbert and George Orwell.

6. What would you say are the biggest challenges in publishing today?

I’d say the biggest challenge is the learning curve. Regardless of how you choose to get your material out into the world, you still need to do a ton of research. Even after you’ve chosen your path, you still have a lot more research and learning to do. I don’t see much of a way to circumvent this, but at least there is a vast online community of helpful writers and their blogs to assist newcomers.

7. If you could live in any fictional world, which one would you choose and why?

Most fictional worlds don’t appear to be great places to be a woman, which makes the decision pretty easy. I’d say the Star Trek universe is probably the friendliest—it’s full of cool technology, humans have “evolved” and you can do whatever you want in a perfect utopia. It’s not going to happen, but it sure would be sweet. Second place would be the Dr. Who universe; it seems dangerous, but cool.

8. What is it about zombies that you find so fascinating?

With zombies, I like that they look like us, but they’re not human. There’s some kind of existential terror when trying to understand what we have that they lack—a mind, empathy, compassion, a pulse—while realizing that they are very, very hungry. Any person can become a zombie, no matter how kind-hearted or otherwise domesticated.

9. What do you think is the biggest misconception about independent artists?

I think it’s the assumption that we are the lowest common denominator. It’s a problem that compounds obscurity with bad experiences and/or prejudice. It’s not an attitude that can be changed overnight, but we exist and we’re not going anywhere.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have a few projects on the horizon.

• I intend to continue with the Zombie Bedtime Stories series, part three just came out, and I have about fifteen total short stories and novellas planned for that series. I’m going to begin writing part 4, Bedlam, next week.
• During NaNoWriMo, I wrote a science fiction novel entitled Sanity Vacuum. I’m in the process of editing it, and I am really happy with how the story turned out. There’s big potential to expand on it, which is something I’m looking to begin planning out in the new year, in parallel to the Zombie Bedtime Stories.
• Once the Zombie Bedtime Stories are finished (I estimate mid-late 2013), I have a few dark epic fantasy books I’d like to write, as well as a very twisted paranormal romance.

Catch up with Thea at her blog, Nerdy Gnome, and you can find part one of the Zombie Bedtime stories here!

Visit the Creepfest Blog Hop page for a complete listing of participating blogs and lots of free stuff!

Prizes!

Here’s the deal: At the end of the Blog Hop, on December 24th, I will give away twelve e-copies of “Athena’s Promise”, one for every day of Creepfest. But that’s not all! I will also give away one autographed print copy. WAIT! One more thing — I’m so excited about Creepfest, I will also give away one Amazon gift card in the amount of $20!

Since this is a sweepstakes and not a contest, entering is easy-peasy, and you can enter as many times as you like. Here’s how:

Leave a comment on any (or all) blog posts here during Creepfest.

Sign up for my Once in a Blue Moon Newsletter. (No spam, I swear.)

Like my Facebook Fan page.

Like “Athena’s Promise” on her Amazon page.

Tweet about this blog or AP and use the hashtag #AthenasPromise so I can track properly.

Mention this blog or AP on YOUR blog.

That’s it. You’ll get one entry apiece for each action – up to 17 entries if you do each of these things! Damn! I will tally the results from all twelve days and choose the winners via Random.org. Make sure you leave a comment that lets me know what you did and include a working email address so I can make an accurate count and contact you if you win.

Spread the word! The more the merrier :)

Share

Fabulous Fiction Friday — Meet Peter Giglio

Before I introduce you to Pete, I just want to give you the head’s up a lot is going to be popping this holiday season here on Word Webbing. You already know about the Creepfest, for which I’m very excited, but I’m also participating in a Debutante Ball for authors which will provide even MORE opportunities for you to fill your Christmas Kindle with lots and lots of free stuff! Very exciting, and I hope you will all pop by to visit and enjoy the work of some very fine writers.

Now, about this Pete guy — I met him through his submission of “A Spark in the Darkness” to Etopia Press. I was lucky enough to be his editor on this project, and I just fell in love with the story. It’s a return to vampires who actually act like vampires, with a very human story at the core. It’s really quite special, and I hope you check it out.

Now, enough rambling by me — you’ll have a lot of that coming in the future. Heh. Check back on Monday for an explanation of Creepfest, why I chose to participate, and what goodies you can expect.

1. What were some of your favorite books growing up? When I was a really young guy, I read mostly movie novelizations. I’ve always been a big movie buff! When I got a little older—again, because of my love of movies—I started working through all the Ian Fleming Bond novels, and I was struck by how different they were from the films. I was about eleven or twelve when I started reading Stephen King and got hooked on horror. My favorite books as a young man were The Fury by John Farris, Firestarter by Stephen King (though it’s not even in my top ten King books now), and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

2. What is it about the horror genre that attracts you? I read all genres, and I see elements of horror in almost everything I read. I like the horror genre—the act of admitting my work is horror—because it gives me a lot of leeway when it comes to articulating notions of fear. Speculative fiction allows me to work in metaphor. Nearly all children, for instance, are afraid of the dark—many adults, too—but I actually get to (in The Dark, the novel I’m writing with Scott Bradley) make the dark a sentient entity, and that’s pretty damn cool! But my work, I hope, aspires to transcend genre. I’m most interested in the human condition, and everything I do is an endeavor to illuminate us. As long as I can keep doing that, I don’t know that I’ll need to write about monsters forever.

3. You are Senior Editor at Evil Jester Press. What are the biggest challenges you’ve faced in this position? Time is the enemy. I have so much on my plate that I occasionally get overwhelmed. I wake up in the morning, make coffee, then sit down and start working. When I look up, it’s almost midnight. I need longer days! But I like to stay busy—keeps me out of trouble.

4. What is your writing process like? It varies from project to project. I outline. I think. I put things away and come back to them later with fresh eyes. But once I get into something, I just go, go, go! I keep chipping away until I’m happy with the outcome. I spend more hours re-writing than writing.

5. What advice would you give to writers who have been at the game for a while? Stay at it. Never give up. Write the thing that screams, write me! Listen to others, but always stay true to yourself. And read when you’re not writing.

6. What do you like about the editing process? Editing is like painting a room. You put up one coat at a time. I like watching things take shape. Editing allows this. You go over a work once—it’s a little better. And so on. It’s very rewarding when you look at a finished product and have that wow moment. Editing is also collaborative. I love working with other authors! Also, editing makes me a better writer.

7. Where, in your opinion, is the safest place during a zombie apocalypse? Dead.

8. What is your favorite horror movie and why do you love it so much? If I have to pick one, I’d go with Kubrick’s The Shining. I love everything about that film—the performances, the music, the directorial choices. What’s not to love?

9. Everyone has one book which has scared the living daylights out of them. Which book is it for you? Pet Sematary, hands down!

10. Tell us about your up and coming projects. I’m wrapping up a novel with Scott Bradley. He and I are also trying to get our feature-length, screen adaptation of Joe R. Lansdale’s “The Night They Missed the Horror Show” made into a film. I have several novels planned for 2012, including a sequel to A Spark in the Darkness.

Synopsis: On the final day of her second life, Edie returns to the family she abandoned five years earlier. Edie is not merely a vampire, she’s a Goddess…one of the vanishing race of beings the vampires need to keep their kind alive. But being dead has taught her much about life, and Edie’s determined to destroy the evil thing she’s become. For something has changed within her, something almost alive in her dead soul. But can a single spark in the darkness be enough to save all she holds dear?

Author bio: Peter Giglio is the author of the horror novel Anon (July, 2011, Hydra Publications) and the co-author of “The Better Half: A Love Story”, appearing in the anthology Werewolves and Shapeshifters: Encounters with the Beast Within, edited by John Skipp. He lives in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife and three cats, but spends a lot of time in Los Angeles, something of a second home, working with his friend and writing partner Scott Bradley. Several of his short stories can be found in anthologies, and two novellas–A Spark in the Darkness and Balance–will soon be published. Editing an anthology, co-writing a screenplay, and working on his next novel, he stays busy, but always has time for readers at www.petergiglio.com.

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Meet The Peerless Eden Baylee

In this business, you meet a lot of different kinds of people, some good and some…challenging. And then you meet the kind of writer who goes above and beyond; who is not only talented in her chosen genre but supports other writers with a genuine desire to help which is very rare.

I met Eden through a Facebook group, and then won a copy of her book, Fall Into Winter. I don’t normally read erotica, but I am really happy to say I didn’t let that stop me from enjoying Eden’s work. Hers is a cut above erotica I’d experienced in the past; solid characters, solid plots with some extremely hawt bits included for spice. And baby, she’s spicy!

Please welcome a dear friend and a lovely person all the way around — Eden Baylee.

How gorgeous is this woman? Inside and out :)

1. Your chosen genre is erotica, and hawt it is! Have you written anything in a different genre?

Thanks Annetta, that’s so sweet of you to say! As a matter of fact, I just completed a story for a holiday anthology that is completely non-erotic, and I’ll be writing outside of the erotica genre for other collaborative projects coming up.

Additionally, I post flash fiction on my blog, and many of my stories have erotic elements, but I wouldn’t necessarily classify them as erotica.

2. Why did you decide to write under a pen name, and how did you come up with it?

I chose to use a pen name because I intend to write in different genres, and it’s a good idea to differentiate identities. It was purely a business decision at the time. Whether I decide to use my real name in the future will depend on the project. Most readers know my writing isn’t just erotic, so I may even stick with Eden Baylee because I’ve built up a following under that name.

Coming up with the name was easy. I’ve always loved Eden and the letter “e,” (that’s quite obvious from my tagline, heh). I also wanted the name to look a certain way on my website, so it came about visually at first. Of course, it had to sound right and roll off the tongue, and I think I accomplished that.

3. What are your favorite genres to read and why?

I read everything—from autobiographies to thrillers to women’s literature. I can’t really say I have a favorite genre as much as a favorite author, and that’d be Charles Bukowski. I tend to be attracted to the crotchety old men, even in real life!

I’ve read almost everything he’s written, including all his poetry. The reason I love his writing is because it kicks me right in the gut. His book Ham on Rye is one I refer to often just to see the simplicity of his writing and how it elicits so much emotion from me. Of course, his poetry is always a great inspiration as well.

4. You decided to self-publish “Fall Into Winter”. What were your reasons?

I didn’t set out to self-publish at first, but it evolved into that as a result of rejections from publishers. That, coupled with my own impatience made me go the self-publish route, and I don’t regret it one bit.

I knew I could write and that I had good stories, so I took the critique of editors to structure my stories better, but I didn’t change the plot. As an example, my second story “Act Three” has a scene that conventional romance/erotica publishers would never buy—it borders on a taboo that is against their submission guidelines. I was told to change it before they’d consider it. That was fair, but in the end, I really didn’t want to change my story, so…

I think most writers have to contend with losing some control if they go the traditional route. By being self-published, I am totally in control, but there’s a lot more I have to do because of it.

I love this cover!

5. What has been the most difficult aspect to self-publishing, in your opinion?

Ha! Great segue—doing it all. I write, promote, design, and develop my own marketing plan. I pay for a professional editor because there’s no way I can edit my own work. I truly believe writers have to pay for this if they want their work to be taken as seriously as those published by traditional houses.

6. Please describe your writing and editing process. Inquiring minds want to know!

Ha! I’m a pantser, bar none. Don’t ask me to explain my process. It will make no sense whatsoever because I don’t know how I do it. It’s akin to me asking my mother how she cooks a particular dish. She can’t explain it to me because she’s never had to think about it. There’s no recipe, and she measures nothing.

I must say I hate talking about the “craft” of writing, and I don’t deconstruct what I do. It’s not to put down those writers who have a plan, who use an outline, etc., but for me, the best way to learn how to write—is to read—a lot.

As for my editing process – I keep doing it until I’m sick of reading my words, and then I give it to a professional editor and pray it doesn’t come back splattered in red ink.

7. You have been incredibly supportive to other writers. How do you find the time?

Firstly, it’s my pleasure to be supportive of other writers, so I make the time to do it. I’d go crazy if all I had to think about were my own stories and thoughts, and just “me, me, me.” Writing is a solitary profession, and the last thing I need is to be wrapped up in my own ego 24/7.

8. What do you think has been the most help in selling books? What would you recommend to other writers?

Write a good book and get it professionally edited. If you don’t start off with this as a foundation, then everything else you do afterward will fail. If a reader cannot get through your book, then you’ve lost that small window of opportunity to win over a fan. The bottom line is nobody wants to buy garbage, regardless if it’s $4.99, $1.99, or free.

Once the book is ready, then do the social media, promoting, networking as much as your time permits, but first and foremost—you need a good product.

9. What is the one myth or inaccuracy about erotica you would like to dispel?

It’s only sex. Some people consider erotica just to be sex scenes strung together by a few commas and periods. That would be as interesting as watching paint dry. Good erotica incorporates plot, characterization, and all the elements required to tell a good story, not unlike any other genre. Sex is an important backdrop, but by no means can it stand alone and still be considered an erotic tale.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

My follow-up anthology called Spring into Summer is scheduled for early 2012. It will have the same formula as Fall into Winter: 4 novellas – two will take place in the spring and two in the summer. I’ll have all the seasons covered (heh), and then I’m moving to full-length novels. I enjoy horror/thrillers with strong erotic elements, and would love to write something à la John Fowles’ The Magus – another of my favorite authors.

I also have stories scheduled for independent publications and will apprise once I know their release dates.
Thanks so much for having me on your fabulous site, Annetta! ‘Twas a pleasure!

Author Bio:

Eden writes erotica incorporating all her favorite things: travel; culture; and sex. She enjoys weaving together stories with edgy themes, and sex is but one way to do it. Her first book, Fall into Winter, a collection of four erotic novellas, is currently available on Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites located on her website.

He second anthology entitled Spring into Summer is due out early 2012.

Connect with her via her Website, blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

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Of Elves And Cons – Tristan J. Tarwater

Her name is beautiful and unusual, much like the writer. I met Tristan through a mutual friend, and as soon as I read her first email I knew we were going to work together great. Why? Because she’s imaginative, open-minded, and has a work ethic of mythic proportions. She’s also a lot of fun and I love her work. I’m not only her editor, I’m a big fan. Read the interview and you’ll see why! Then head on over to Back That Elf Up and check out “Thieves At Heart”.

Just looking at this smile makes me smile!

1. What has your path toward publication been like?

Our path towards publication has been a bit like stumbling through a marathon after thinking, ‘Hell, I think I’ll go for a little walk.’ When I initially started writing The Valley of Ten Crescents it was a lot of brainstorming and back story for Tavera and a bit of Derk for an RPG campaign. It started off as something a bit hyperbolic, and got toned down and fleshed out; it went from ‘Oh, I’m going to make a thief that likes to sleep around a bit and is part of a secret society!’ to over 200,000 words. I really fell in love with Tavi and the other characters and wrote it all and when it was said and done my Admin (husband) and I had to decide what to do with it. I wanted to share Tavi’s story with people, I just wasn’t sure how to go about doing it and through trial, error and a lot of learning about formatting we got it out there. Our unofficial motto of sorts is ‘Just ****ing try.’ It went from back-story to a serial on the web to an e-book and paperback with an actual ISBN.

2. With a Small Boss and a family to care for, how do you structure your writing time?

A vast majority of my creative writing takes place at night. I’m a night person through and through and I pretty much only turn in for the night because the part of my brain that can think about the future says ‘Hey, your child is going to wake up early tomorrow and you need to be able to make coffee without gravely injuring yourself.’ I spend the mornings answering emails and doing any advertising I have to do and basically brainstorm throughout the day, writing things down if I come up with conversations. I’m lucky enough to have this freaky memory so if the plot point is big enough, it generally sticks in my head and then pulsates in my brain, especially when I’m trying to get to sleep to avoid the coffee related injuries. Every once in a while I do have to go on crazy research binges where I spend a combined several hours looking up other lunar goddesses or rabbits or rock formations and how they occur or elemental magic. So basically it’s not very structured! I just try to use my free time to the best of my abilities while watching the clock. Sometimes that means dinner is at 6:30pm instead of 5:30pm. Sometimes it means saying ‘Hey, I need to get some writing done.” Sometimes it means not eating, sad but true. I love to eat and I love food but I have enough interruptions from everything else, I can’t let simple things like organs and biological needs get in the way of me hitting my word count.

3. Who would you say are your biggest literary influences?

I would have to say one of the earliest bits of fantasy that really struck me was ‘The Crystal Cave’ by Mary Stewart. I’m named after a version of Sir Tristan so an interest in the Arthurian saga came really early for me and Merlin is just one of those characters that I think everyone knows about. And to see him broken down as a little kid, to read about him as a real person who climbed trees and felt pain and was awkward around girls and wanted to belong really struck me. Those things happened adjacent to the stuff everyone knows him for, the prophecy of the tower, his aid to Uther Pendragon’s lust for Ygraine, the sword Excalibur. It wasn’t till recently that that book registered as ‘fantasy’ for me, I’ve always thought of it as a fictional biography, heh. Between the extraordinary bits, very human things take place and without them, the emotions and the political stuff and the familial angst, the extraordinary stuff has no foundation.

4. What made you decide to engage a professional editor?

Realizing that I definitely needed one, ha! I had ‘Thieves at Heart’ out in its original incarnation and it was only about 23,000 words long. We were just figuring out how to format and the Admin was learning GIMP and we just wanted to get it out there and do something. I think we rushed to put it out because at the time the Admin was deployed and we wanted something to work on together and to help fill up the space of our separation. There was also the sense of ‘If we don’t do it now, we’ll never do it.’ The series (then a single, giant book) was done so we jumped in. As a result it was not nearly as polished or professional as it should have been. I know part of this resulted because I was scared to look it over too many times. I didn’t want to give myself the chance to doubt myself (‘You wrote ‘their’ instead of ‘there’! You should never write again!). Someone was kind and honest enough to say hey, the story is good but this really needs to be edited (not their exact words) and gave us a name and email for our editor. That was another thing, when we were just starting out in February we didn’t know anyone who was an editor so having a name and a testimonial was kind of like a golden ticket. We had kicked around the idea of having someone else look at it and make corrections at the beginning but for me, the idea of asking a total stranger to potentially tear apart my work and judge me was pretty much terrifying. After it had been out for a spell we had a few people say that they enjoyed the story so I was more confident about my work and ready for a bit of literary flogging, I think. We worked with the tools we had at the time, someone gave us another tool and we thought we’d be stupid to not use this. But we had had enough positive feedback that the first spank wasn’t going to reduce me to tears. To use a really inappropriate analogy.

5. How has working with an editor affected your writing process?

There’s still an aspect of ‘other’ when it comes to the editor. Not the editor herself but by showing this body of text to someone else, I am admitting that this will in fact see the light of day. Therefore it needs to make sense not only to me because they don’t live in my brain, they don’t know what I mean or have the info I have. For me the inclination sometimes is to just get it out as fast as you can (see above issue with having ‘free time’) and sometimes that means gaps in trains of thought or events. In true husband-wife fashion, I do just tend to think the Admin knows exactly what I’m talking about and when he doesn’t I go, ‘WHAAAAAAAAA?’ In addition I can just explain something to him if he wants to know something since he is physically there. With my editor, that’s not the case. So the editor is kind of an intercessor of sorts. In addition I’m more aware of those words that I use too much and my own grammatical shortcomings. I used to use the word ‘had’ as if I was getting paid to use it. And bloody hell, do I love gerunds. Being in the headspace of writing for an audience versus just to write really helps.

6. What surprised you the most about working with a professional editor?

The most? That the first email I got back wasn’t a giant harpoon of ‘THIS SUCKS. DID YOU HAPPEN TO FAIL GRAMMAR IN MIDDLE SCHOOL? ALSO, ELVES AREN’T REAL.’ For the record, I did fail grammar in school. The fact that the initial email was rather quite pleasant and not just scathing commentary on my all too obvious lust for the pluperfect tense was a surprise. While I do have a professional relationship with my editor there is definitely a sense of camaraderie, that we’re working on making this as awesome as we can together. I guess I was expecting an editor to Balrog me (You Shall Not Pass!) when really, the editor is in your Fellowship. But don’t throw your manuscript into Mt. Doom! HA! That’s not the goal, obviously.

7. You recently attended Geek Girl Con. How was that experience and would you go again?

GeekGirlCon 2011 was AMAZING. And we’re already making plans to go next year. I wrote about it on my blog a few days ago but basically, I felt like I was home. Even though I was trying to sell books and network a bit and working, the Con was really well organized and everyone was really excited to be there. It was great talking to other writers and encouraging to hear people wish me luck in my endeavors. So many things there were awesome, from the people running the Con to the other exhibitors to the amazing cosplayers. It was a small Con, as far as Cons go (it had a bit under 2,000 people attending I want to say) but it made for great opportunities to connect with people. I got to talk to a lot of great people about the things they were working on and what they dug.

8. Why did you choose the path of self-publishing?

Probably a little bit because of impatience? HA! But also because our team of two people really does believe in things like DRM free e-books and Creative Commons and Open Source. I write on LibreOffice now and wrote all of the initial manuscript on OpenOffice. We both run Linux on our machines, the Admin made the ads and formatted the cover on GIMP. The e-books are DRM free and always will be. The book and the material is protected under CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 which has provisions for things like remixing and sharing. I love stories and if what I wrote, if Tavi and Derk’s story inspired someone to make a youtube video or write something or make something? I would be totally blown away! Even if it was a silly rap about onions (HA!) I would be floored. I wrote this story because I wanted to but I put it out there to entertain and hopefully make people think about what it means to be yourself. If it spurs people on to be entertaining and do their own things and follow their passions, that’d be great. Hell, if someone reads it and thinks, ‘I write better than this’ then well, get on it! Self-publishing was right for us because we wanted to be able to say ‘Hey, have a bit of fun with this if you like. The fun doesn’t have to end when the book is over.’

9. What would you say is the biggest challenge of being an indie artist?

Advertising/Self-promoting, I want to say. Back That Elf Up is a two person team with a lot of neat people filling in really needed roles but I’m the PR person, the research assistant, the caterer, the CEO, the advertising department, etc. I’m fairly introverted and the fact that I have to be digitally social daily and email strangers is slightly daunting. Trying to think of the best 140 character pitch for ‘Thieves at Heart’ takes more time than you might think. Getting your ads out to the right people who will be interested is another challenge. Thank goodness for the digital age that we live in. It makes a lot of this a bit easier. Through things like Twitter, Kickstarter and G+ we’ve been able to reach people and get out story out to places we wouldn’t have imagined a few years ago.

10. Tell us about your upcoming projects.

Well, there’s still about 180,000+ words of The Valley of Ten Crescents to reveal. ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ is due to come out this coming winter if all goes well and that’s a prequel to ‘Thieves at Heart.’ ‘Self-Made Scoundrel’ goes into Derk’s beginnings as a thief and how he gets to the point he does in the very beginning of ‘Thieves at Heart,’ where he kidnaps Tavi. A few characters from ‘Thieves at Heart’ show up like Old Gam and Hock as well as a few new faces and the first bit of magic as we think about it when it comes to fantasy. The third book is tentatively titled ‘Red Moon Rising’ and picks up with Tavera and what she gets herself into once she’s on her own. Tavera teams up with a few honest type folks and so it goes into the whole private self vs. the public face and what that means when a group of people are trying to pull something off. We’ve also got some ideas for ways for people to show their support via t-shirts. And well, the next two books are started, ha! A lot is upcoming, basically!

Coming soon! w00t!

Tristan J Tarwater is the author of The Valley of Ten Crescentsseries, as well as several other stories that hope to see the light of day. Born and raised in New York City she remembers reading a lot, visiting museums and the aquarium frequently and wanting to be a writer from a very early age. Her love of fantasy and sci-fi spills over into what she reads and watches in her free time as well as the collection of dice, books and small metal figurines that reside in her home. She currently lives in Central California with her Admin, Small Boss, a cat that knows it’s a multipass and Azrael.

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Getting Down With Patti Larsen

When you meet Patti Larsen, you have to squint your eyes, she shines so bright, in person and online. She’s got one of the strongest work ethics of anyone I’ve ever met. She is THE most prolific writer I’ve come across, generous and giving to other writers. That counts for a lot in this business.

Keep your eye on this rising star — and eat your Wheaties, because you’ll need the strength to keep up with her.

She looks like she means business, doesn't she?

1. How has your dream of becoming a published writer differed from the reality?

Oh boy. You don’t pull any punches, do you? In one word, VASTLY. I went from THE DREAM of writing a best seller, finding the perfect agent, nabbing a million dollar advance and sitting back to enjoy the accolades of my adoring fans to, well… none of that. Except writing the best seller part. That will always remain.

I’ve learned so much in the last two and a half years. When I dove into writing full time, I was still under the impression this was going to be so easy! And that lasted quite a while. It’s really only the past year or so I decided to actually open my eyes and pay attention. After all, I’m a businesswoman and have been for many years through two other businesses. But when I leapt into publishing, it was like the smart and savvy part of myself took a vacation in favor of having everything done for me.

Since when? It took some great new friends (yourself, Joseph Paul Haines and others) to help me see how much I’d strayed from what I really wanted. With all the changes in this industry, it makes sense to put my big girl entrepreneur panties back on and treat this like what it is–not a fairy tale or a pipe dream but a business.

Am I ever glad I did.

2. You really pump out a lot of material. What is your writing process like?

I think I suppressed the muse for so many years because of fear and other people’s opinions that she’s been saving everything up until now. Seriously. It’s like this faucet has been turned on and the more I drink from it the faster it flows…

My process. I get an idea, I spend two days developing it, turn it into an outline and sit down and write the thing in about eight or nine days. That’s my process. I wish I had a magic bullet to hand to other writers, had some witty or charming way of explaining where all of this material comes from but I don’t. It’s really just that simple. And while I know it isn’t for everyone, please don’t be jealous.

I have to produce that fast. The voices, you see. It’s write or go nuts.

The first book in Patti's series, "The Hunted". Get ready to Run!

3. What do you think is the most important part of being a self-publisher?

Being in control of my career. NO ONE knows what’s good for me and my books but me. NO ONE. And while I am wide open to information, to learning, I embrace what I discover, absorb it, take what I need from it and discard the rest as I see fit. Everything I do, sink or swim, is up to me. The learning curve is massive but it’s also thrilling–and I no longer have to tolerate someone else’s opinions on how I should run my business.

Every writer, every creator, needs to do this at least once. I love to explore all avenues of everything I get involved in. I need to understand how everything works, from typesetting to cover design, editing and proofing, marketing… all of it. Every piece of the puzzle gives me another insight into doing my job better, smarter and faster.

4. What was your biggest misconception of the editing process with a professional editor?

Oh, that my work was absolutely perfect, naturally, and that the manuscript would come back with giant happy faces and lots of notes proclaiming how I was a literary genius.

And while I know I’m fortunate, I can string words together into a coherent sentence and those sentences into paragraphs and those paragraphs into something that makes sense, the editing process has taught me so much more about how I write. I never see comments as criticisms but as an opportunity to learn something more–to take that knowledge and apply it to my work from then on.

So while it didn’t happen the way I imagined, it’s been so much more than I could ever hope for.

5. How much self-editing did you do before engaging an editor?

Not a whole lot, to be honest. I’m pretty lucky that the copy I write is fairly clean. I still need editing, I know that, but I trust my creative process now. I’m a staunch believer in outlining and do most of my editing during that part of development–so major story changes don’t tend to pop up for me (at least so far…). When I’m finished with the first draft, I basically read through it once, catching as many typos as I can as well as fleshing out anything that needs it then send it off immediately.

While some of your readers may flinch at the idea of not revising fifteen million times, I say this: why are you washing the dishes before you put them in the dishwasher? That’s what your editor is for.

6. What do you like the most about the editing process?

EVERYTHING. Seriously. I know most writers hate it, but I love it. Love it. Did I say I loved it? It’s like taking a diamond and adding facets and angles and sparkle until it glows and shines even without any light on it… it’s fun and informative and I adore every second.

The key to it I think is having an open mind and leaving your ego at the door. And trusting your editor. You have to find someone who understands your work, who sees your vision. Shares it. But is outside it enough they can spot the areas that aren’t sparkly yet. I’m lucky enough to have found that person in you.

I don’t let my logical mind control my editing. Again, I feel your readers all shuddering collectively and that’s okay. I don’t think logic really has much of a place in writing, at least, not in the art part of it. When I go through your notes, Netta, I let my heart tell me: does that serve the story? Of course it does! Or, hmm… no, I like it the way it is. Most of the time I’m bouncing in my seat with excitement that you’ve pegged the very thing I’ve been trying to let out and get to. Tip of my mind stuff. For me, that’s thrilling. Like uncovering treasure.

I love it so much.

7. What do you like the least?

If I had to pick something it would be when I screw up and repeat a mistake. I know better than to tell and not show but sometimes the odd one will slip through. You catch them and I kick myself. I don’t like wasting time, mine or yours, so I see those mistakes as failings.

8. What surprised you the most about it?

I guess how much I love it. I didn’t think I would enjoy it this much. I mean, I was raised to think editing is terrible, horrible, painful, that I’d end up hating my manuscript at the end and never want to see it again. That I wouldn’t even recognize it when it was done.

Um… I call bullshit. I love my books even more. Who would want to work like that?

9. Tell us about any upcoming projects.

So many… you and I just finished the edits on Family Magic, book one of The Hayle Coven Novels. It’s due out on or around the 15th of this month. I love this book. It was the first one I wrote in this current incarnation of my career, the very first young adult I tackled. It’s about Sydlynn Hayle, a sixteen-year-old daughter of a powerful witch and a demon lord, but she just wants to be ordinary. Syd is my soul sister and I adore her. I’m thrilled she’s finally going to meet the rest of the world.

I’m working on next three books in that series as well as outlining the following four. In November, I’m tackling the Blunt House series, Pins and Needles, Them Bones and Blood Lines, about Alice, a quiet loner who finds a voodoo doll in her grandmother’s house and then wonders why horrible things start happening to people who are mean to her.

That will wrap up this year–next year is another story entirely. I have eighteen novels lined up to write in 2012 and books scheduled into 2015. Busy busy!

Wooohooo!

10. Tell us something you’ve never divulged in an online interview.

I don’t like to have strangers tell me their story lines–not because I’ll steal them but because I’m so prolific I know I probably have something similar on the back burner–and if I hear someone else is working on the idea I have to dump mine. I have too strong of a work ethic to ever consider writing something I know is already being developed by someone else.

About the Author: Patti Larsen is a middle grade, young adult and adult author with a passion for the paranormal who writes a great deal of horror for someone who is afraid of the dark. She lives on the East Coast of Canada with her very patient husband Scott and four massive cats.

Where to find Patti:

My website! Shiny!
For the latest news on my work
My writing blog
Because a girl’s got to have a fanpage
I’d love to Tweet you!
My Amazon page!

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Fabulous Fiction Friday – An Interview With MeiLin Miranda

As you can see, I’ve been re-vamping the site due to a server move. It’s still a work in process, and it’s eaten up my time this week like I eat Peanut M&Ms when I’m stressed. Still, I was fortunate enough to catch up with MeiLin and ask her some interesting questions about her experiences as an indie writer and publisher. Take notes, my poppets, because this woman is a dynamo. Not only talented and smart as a whip (heh!), she’s got a handle on this indie publishing monster and you would do very well to study what she’s done and emulate it. Lovers and Beloveds is a ripping good tale, and is not only available in serial form, updated twice a week, but also as an e-book in several formats and hardcopy due mid-October.

1. What was the inspiration for “An Intimate History of the Greater Kingdom” and how did you get started?

It started as a serial daydream I’d tell myself—the story of Warin and Emmae. I read a Neil Gaiman quote to the effect that daydreams were perfectly good story ideas, which astounded me. Foolish writer, I’d never considered such a thought. So I started with that.

Later I gave it to a good friend to read who’s a sociologist, and she started asking me all these questions! What was the society like around them, who were these people, what languages did they speak, what was the relationship between their two countries, and on and on! I found I enjoyed answering her questions, and the next thing I knew, there were Temmin, Teacher and the Greater Kingdom of Tremont and Litta. (She’s still asking pesky questions, by the way, and I’m still enjoying answering them.)

2. What would you say is the most difficult aspect of writing a serial for the web?

There’s the obvious answer: You’re meeting a weekly, or usually more-than-weekly, deadline. At its height I was writing a 2,000 word update three times a week.

But for me, what’s been hardest is figuring out when you’ve got a serial and when you’ve got a novel. Halfway through what I thought was book three of the History I realized I did not have a serial; I could not sustain the story through ten years of this young man’s life at the pace we were going. I had to start over, and I lost a substantial chunk of audience in the process. They’re coming back as the word is spreading that I’m back, but I think a lot of those who aren’t coming back may not realize that this is a very different story; they think it’s a line edit of the original and they’re not going to come back until I get to what they think is the end of book three. By the time I’m on the real book three, we’re going to be years past the end of what I thought was book three. They’ll miss a lot of story.

But I digress.

The other hard thing is that a lot of the time you’re writing first draft/last draft. Right now, the History is serializing in its final form. It’s the best I could do with that story. But my current serial “Scryer’s Gulch,” a work that can be sustained long term and open ended, is first draft/last draft; sometimes it really shows, embarrassingly so. I usually finish it, give it a quick polish, and post it within an hour or less of finishing it. It’s stated at the top that in the grand tradition of the soap opera it’s fd/ld and any plot holes will be explained away—no do-overs. So you gets what you get with the Gulch.

3. What makes your site unique among the other serial webfic sites on the Internet?

Oh gods, I don’t know. Probably the community that’s formed around it. I have amazing readers, really an erudite, funny, charming, wonderful group of people. Very little in the way of flames, supportive of me and each other, but not fawning.

A bunch went to Webcomics Weekend, I think it was last year, as a group and handed out fliers for me; I was told later by some artists that I have an extremely good-looking fan base. So there’s that, too.

4. What is the one thing that has surprised you the most about your audience?

That I have one.

5. Name the most important thing an aspiring writer should invest in regarding their work.

Time with the keyboard and/or pen, and editing. Accept constructive criticism with grace, not defensiveness. Where you’re defensive, you’re very probably wrong. That doesn’t mean the criticism’s always going to be right; I ignored some things my editor said as well as my beta group. I was right and they were wrong on those points. But they were more right than wrong on the whole—far more so.

6. Where do you see the direction of publishing as a whole headed?

I see the Big Six continuing to insist that they’re selling paper, not books. I see them continue to overprice ebooks. This opens up huge opportunities for independent writers, and for midlist authors to take their pulped-and-forgotten back catalog and make some dough. JA Konrath is not that unusual; he’s no more a fluke than any successful traditionally published writer is. This is a tough business, always has been.

7. What is the most valuable writing advice you’ve ever received?

Read, and when you read something you love, pick it to shreds and figure out how the writer did it. That, and write what you love: if you love mysteries, write mysteries. If you love literary fiction, write that. I love fantasy and Victoriana, so that’s what I write.

8. Tells us about your future plans for IHGK and Scryer’s Gulch.

Oh gods. Well, I’ve begun book two of IHGK, which is tentatively titled “Mothers and Fathers.” I have it outlined, and longtime fans will have their little minds blown, I’ll tell you that much. If you think you know what happens, oh boy, you so do not.

Over at the Gulch, my plans are to keep the goings-on good and soapy. I’m working on a piece about genial Deputy and hapless werecritter Rabbit Runnels for an anthology. Just got a handle on it this morning.

9. If there was one thing you could do over again in this process, what would it be and why?

I would have taken myself more seriously earlier. It would have saved me, I think, from conceiving the History as a serial.

10. I know this is like choosing a favorite child, but who is your favorite character of all your written works?

Oh boy. I have to say Temmin. He’s such a goon. He’s handsome, intelligent, and can be quite charming when he feels like it–and he’s a complete dope. Because he’s eighteen and that’s how teenagers roll.

I’m also very fond of Maleen Polls, a madam from IHGK, and the resident Gulch madam, the demon Mamzelle. Apparently I have a thing for madams. But that’s three, not one! I love them all, really, even the super bad guys like Hildin.

Many thanks to MeiLin for answering my nosy questions! The hardcover is available for pre-order here, and if you prefer your books in an ebook format, MeiLin has made options available to you at this link. Of course, you can always visit her site every Monday and Friday for the latest chapter.

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Friday Fiction on Saturday

My apologies, because I meant to have this up on my usual “Fiction Friday”. However, I’ve spent the week sick as a dog, and fell a little behind. Sorry about that. However, things are better now, and I’m very pleased to introduce you to a very intriguing and interesting species — the ezine editor. The species is not endangered, but they are notoriously misunderstood. Ezine editors are a strong, unique breed all their own. That’s a good thing!

Women Like You appeared in the April 2006 edition of Skive Magazine, and that’s how I met editor Matthew Ward. He was great to work with; no nonsense, knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it. No coddling, no bullshit.

As of 2000, Skive Magazine is one of the ten largest literary magazines in Australia, publishing over 400 authors. A great accomplishment, and I wanted to know more about the mysterious, crazy Aussie behind the pages. Dynamic, interesting, and driven, Matt Ward also has a little bit of the romantic in him, as evidenced by the last question and answer. He also clears up the mystery of the vegamite sandwich.

A big thanks to Matt for his participation. Well done, mate!


How did you get started as editor with Skive Magazine, and what made you take on this kind of endeavor?

skive_11_june_2009

Skive was hatched at the beginning of 2003. It was originally going to be an online zine run by myself and my buddy from Newcastle University (Australia), Brian Birkefeld, renowned local muso, playwright and steam aficionado. Brian and I had run an all-male printed fiction magazine called Heist! (originally called Lord – 1998-2002) that was an answer to an all-female uni literary magazine called Lunacy. Newcastle University’s Student Association funded Lunacy. We paid for Heist! ourselves. Heist! was put together using photocopiers, staplers & guillotines. Funny that when I went to shut Heist! down in about 2000, it was female readers who asked me to keep it going. Heist! was modeled on the boys own adventure mags of the 1930s-’50s that lads of our fathers’ generation would have read (think: African safaris, hunting whales in longboats, westerns, bank robberies).

Brian was employed at the university and work became too much that he couldn’t make time to lay out Heist! anymore so we stopped doing it in 2002.

My next plan was an online zine that would take minimal work to maintain. We would accept only electronic submissions. I would create a webpage. It would be a ‘randomly’ as Heist! was (i.e. some years a quarterly, other years, 2 copies or 5 or more). Well, Brian’s workload meant I took over the new ezine as my project. I chose a dozen cool words as maybe titles for the ezine, and the consensus was Skive (pronounced ‘Sk-eye-v’, and meaning ‘getting out of work’ in Australian & British slang), and the new publication was born.

Stepping back to 1998. I created an online ezine called insomAniac (1998-1999), named after a line in the Marx Brothers’ film, At The Circus. insomAniac featured short stories & poetry. That publication lasted two years and it was ceased because I had too much design work on at the time.

Going back two more years to 1996. I created Mockfrog Design. Mockfrog (named after a Monty Python sketch – I was president of a university Python society called Dead Parrot’s Society in the mid-’90s) was created to lay out poetry books for talented poets with no design sense.

In 2003 I harvested writers from Heist! and insomAniac, and spread the word through newsgroups and the university to get submissions for Skive.

Why did I take on this endeavour? Well, I had survived an Arts degree in Classics / Film studies (minors in English & Philosophy), but my love of design came about through the promotion of several socities I was involved with at university. There was the aforementioned Dead Parrot’s Society, The Irish Society (plenty of whiskey and Guinness), Classics, The Republican Society (not Republican as in the American, conservative sense, but as in Australia possibly shaking off the British constitutional monarchy and becoming a nation with a president. I did promotional posters for the above societies and became drunk with desire for design, rather than for university essays that by 3rd year were not inspiring me at all.

I taught myself MS Word, then Pagemaker (had a brief course in it and had the occasional hints from more experienced designer friends), then QuarkXpress. In the middle of this, I taught myself Photoshop.

I finished university in 1996 and then scored a job with the local city council designing a promotional brochure for the region. But the day I got that job I was accepted to do a brief business course in how to run a business, in my case to edit, lay out and publish poetry books. I took the course, and designed a poetry book for a friend that year.

In 1997 I took on a basic knowledge of website design and became the university students association magazine Opus website designer, when websites were in their infancy compared to today. So by then I was getting paid to create books and also websites. By the end of 2002, I had designed many advertisements for Heist! and a few other small mags, so I was confident enough to take on the then new Skive Magazine ezine.

heist

You have accomplished quite a lot in your five years as editor. What do you hope to accomplish in the next five years with Skive Magazine and Skive Magazine Press?


In 5 years Skive has changed. From website ezine (late 2003 – early 2006) to ebook (early 2006) to printed monthly (March – June 2006) to printed quarterly (September 2006 – the present). I’ve published 450 authors, and approx. 750 stories. That’s a lot of reading and proofing mostly on my own. Many late nights.

Where will Skive be in 5 years? Jesus, I’ll be 48! I am hoping I’ll be a famous writer by then and I’d have sold Skive for a lot of money. Who knows… It’s a year to year thing. Skive Press & my other press, Mary Celeste, have been running for a while now and I have published some poets and have novelists and novella-ists in the wings. I like doing both Skive & the presses but I’d love to be able to have other trusted people on tap as well. Would make it a lot easier I think.

Skive in its current incarnation has short stories, also articles & poetry, and photographs. It’s more or less 2003 Skive but printed instead of online. It’s been well received and if I may say it is I believe one of the better produced independent literary magazines in the world in the way of story/poem/article quality and design. My policy with design is: Easy To Read & classic but not dull.


You’re also a writer, you crazy Aussie-man. What projects of your own are you currently working?


I love writing more than anything and spend too much time doing other things that bind my main work (design). I have had 3 books published: a novella (Australia, 2004), short story collection (USA, 2006), poetry collection (USA, 2008). I am currently writing short stories that I submit to magazines, both printed and online. Some are successful, others not. Don’t really care about rejection; I know the process and that some people have to be rejected.

Also, I am working on a more mechanised way of determining characters and plot. In the ’90s I wrote stories with a couple of ideas and then just went with it. Then, a few years ago, after seeing a story on The Dice Man, a guy who went through the US determining direction on a throw of a die; and memories of Stephen King’s book Tommyknockers (the self-writing typewriter); and also, Critters Bar founder and writer Bob Jacobs’ short story Shakespeare (story writing software); plus a photo of writer Henry Miller’s character wall (page after page of character breakdown); I decided to write stories more meticulously and ‘brush away the footsteps’ of the structure of the story instead.

Part I. was taking books from the university shelves, picking random words, then writing a story using these words to inspire me. I now use a dictionary to do the same thing, but also iTunes in its Shuffle mode to choose character aspects / plot.

I have tested this with short stories and it works a treat. Now, when I get brave enough I will write a novel.

Also, I am writing an off-off Broadway play for a NYC buddy. I have never written a play, so this could be a bomb but you never know.


As an editor, what do you look for in a story when considering material for publishing, either for the magazine or the press?


I’ll start with the magazine.

This depends on many factors. Interested writers, take note.

1. If I know the writer and I have published them before they have a better chance. This is not to say I will publish them but I already have a rating in my head. (Ditto if they are a bad writer, that their ranking will already be… well, rank.)

2. If a writer sends me more than one story, I will read the shorter one first. Takes less time. If that story sucks, I go to the next story. If I like a story, I don’t read any more of the stories sent in from that writer. This is just wasted time in my opinion.

3. Bad spelling / grammar irks me. Not the occasional typo, that’s understandable. This includes incorrect linking of sentences with dialogue.

Correct =

“Dialogue,” Jack said, “more dialogue.”

Not

“Dialogue”, Jack said, “More dialogue.”

Overuse of ellipses. The … that follows a sentence and is supposed to create suspense… You know what I mean… Yes, that’s right… But it doesn’t. There are better ways. (Ditto with hyphens.)

4. Go over the word limit by more than 20 words, rejected.

5. Send in after the deadline date, rejected.

6. Pornography, rejected. I’m no prude, and erotica is fine if it is part of the story, but not the WHOLE story. Bump and grind is boring with all it’s oo-ing and ahh-ing and accompanying hot fluids is Sleepsville. Sex is for doing, not writing about. Hinting is sexier than obvious.

7. Mindless violence, same thing, dull, rejected. (Rape stories rarely get through.)

8. I read the first page of every submission. I can tell if the story will be great, pretty good, okay, or awful. The awfuls get rejected right there. I then read the greats, pretty goods and see if I have enough for an issue. If I need extra stories, I’ll go to the okays.

Poetry gets accepted or rejected – poems that need editing get rejected as poets don’t budge and I used to write poetry so know how important each word is.

So, on judging submissions, I take a leaf from the old Heist! / insomAniac days. I read the first sentence and last sentence. That should grab me! I should also be enthused by 1/3 of the first page.

There should be balance. The story should be broken up into 3 parts. Intro / Middle / End.

Intro should introduce characters and situation.

Middle should have a crisis / problem.

End should solve or fail at solving that problem. This is a very old way of telling stories (read about Aristotle’s theory on writing literature) and it still works.

Stories written in the First Person (I am going down a corridor) narrative are put under Third Person (Jane is going down a corridor). Real daring people who send me Second Person (You are going down a corridor) go to the top of the list. Reason I don’t like Third Person? It’s often autobiographical, and that is nearly always dull. Also, writers are loath to remove anything from the story for fear of ‘betraying’ themselves and their loved ones / friends.

If a writer pulls a story at the last moment after I have accepted them, that’s really bad form and I take note of that person and never give them another chance. I also tell my publisher friends and they do the same. There’s a list, you see. If your story is accepted by someone else, that’s cool, just tell me before it gets accepted somewhere else.

Rude / pretentious writers, rejected, also, put in the above file (Whispers: “They’re usually the worst writers”).

I want writers who can work with me. If I say: this story should be written in 3rd person, rewrite it please, and they won’t I say sayonara dude.

I am never rude when I reject writers as I am a writer and know how fragile the ego is. I will say, on this occasion I must decline the opportunity … but encourage them to keep trying, and they usually get through after a few attempts.

With the presses, I want books that are ready to go, or almost ready to go. Add to this most of the above. They have to be realistic, too. I can’t afford to pay huge advances and supply them with a box of books. Small presses sell online through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, not bookshops.

Publishing in general seems to be changing on an almost daily basis. Where do you think the future of publishing lies, and what do you think the industry has to do as a whole to keep up?


Unlike other publishers, I don’t think this ebook revolution is gonna clean up the printed book. This includes Kindle and other ebook readers. Paper books will always be with us until there are no more trees. They are portable, cheap, you can sit on a couch, on the beach, in your car waiting for traffic to move, in class etc… without fearing dropping and breaking / losing your $500 ebook reader, even though you can fit a thousand Pride and Prejudices on it. Print on Demand is still.. in demand. I use Lulu and CreateSpace (part of Amazon) and both send me $ every month when sales are there. We really need a CreateSpace in Australia or something like it. I’ve even sussed out China to get cheap printing done. The big US presses do it so why not me?


When you’re not wrangling the written word, what other activities take up your time?


2 years ago I took up blues harp, then a year ago, acoustic, and then electric guitar. The harp took a bit of practice but I got it eventually. Guitar was harder: calluses, teaching fingers to contort to make chords, remembering chords, starting to pick. Guitar is hard work but wonderful. I recommend it to everyone, especially those of us over the age of 30 (and I’m way over that) to keep senility at bay. Guitar for me is great too because I can play it in the dark, without electricity (the acoustic one anyway) and it is not a computer! When one does websites, books for a living, and writing stories for pleasure, the last thing I want to do is anything with computers, so guitar fits the bill.

Photography. I’ve been taking photos on and off for 22 years. First SLR, developing my own photos. Now digital.

Walking. The best exercise. No fractured ankles like jogging.

Watching DVDs. At the moment, Get Smart Season 1, 1965. Old school, as the kids would say, but really funny stuff. Other recent watchings: Arrested Development, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Six Feet Under. Anything by Woody Allen, Marx Brothers. I still watch a lot of TV (it’s on in the background while I’m on computer)

Photoshop, creating cool-looking mandala / kaleidoscope images. Painting, too, abstract stuff.

Can you explain just exactly what is a vegemite sandwich, and have you ever eaten one?


(Ah, the Men At Work reference.) I can and will. Vegemite is owned by a US company Kraft (it was originally owned by an Australian company). It is a food spread and is made of yeast extract, the end result of the beer making process. It is black, has a consistency like axle grease, smells a bit and it spread on sandwiches, crackers, English muffins, crumpets. Americans are afraid of it as they have heard it is awful, and the way they spread it on is indeed awful. They dollop it on like peanut butter and jelly and that’s just wrong. Because it is strong tasting, Vegemite should be spread on thinly. The best way is on white bread toast, while the toast is hot, and real butter, and then the Vegemite so it melts in with the butter. It’s a savoury taste, a bit bitter, but like beer, enjoyable after a few goes. Vegemite Toast, oh American reader, is a great easer of a hangover, believe me. Vegemite is a cousin of the Brit’s Marmite and Promite (both vegetable extracts) and Bonox (beef extract sipped as a soup). Americans get worried about Vegemite, but Aussies get freaked out by Beef Jerky! :-)

Do you think there are differences between an Australian and American audience when it comes to literature? What are they? Why do you think they’re different?


Good question. Australians are more familiar with Americanisms than Americans are with Australianisms as Americans rule the TV / Movie / Newspaper / Magazine universe. That means we can read American books / watch American TV with no trouble at all. We get the jokes, even the regional references.

On what we read compared with our American cousins, I think it’s the same. Men don’t read novels but rather instructional books and magazines. Women read a lot more than men, and it’s literature, the expected romances but also literary fiction, memoirs are big still. Young guys prefer video games.

Is there one particular story, after all these years, that you still remember and had a special resonance with you? What was it and why?

There is a story, written (title escapes me), by Raymond Carver, that was featured in the film Short Cuts by Robert Altman. The story has a middle aged couple minding an apartment for people across the hall, people they hardly know. They agree, and the result is a fading relationship is ignited again. When I read the story I was in a bus and actually shouted, “No!” when I found out how the tale ended. Carver is perhaps the greatest of short story writers. Then again, maybe Poe, Joyce, Chandler?

One that comes to mind was told to my Year 8 class (grade school, age 14) by our English teacher, John Smythe. John, former Spitfire fighter pilot for Britain, said he’d seen a film when he was young. It was a silent film.

John told us this story to indicate that the passage of time is deceptive and that in that second or so between the lever being pulled and the man dangling at the end of the rope, he created a whole wishful escape scenario. That has stayed with me because it indicates hope and how humans can cope with even the most dire circumstances.

The Mad Aussie
The Mad Aussie

LINKS

Mockfrog Design

Skive Magazine

Books written by Matthew Ward:

Cats Creep the Fire To Art : Collected Pretentious Poems, 1992 – 1996
(NYC: World Audience, 2008)

Her Mouth Looked Like a Cat’s Bum (Short stories)
(NYC: World Audience, 2006)

Jake With a Snarly Smile On His Chops (novella)
(Sydney: Independence Jones, 2004)

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