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It’s a bird… it’s a plane…

My very first favorite TV show was the George Reeves Superman series.  And my very first story was spun off the 1960s Batman show.  So it makes sense that the latest publication I’m involved in (with my writing group, the League of Original Woolwrights, a/k/a LOOW) is a collection of superhero stories!  It’s up for pre-order now, for only $0.99 — the actual release date is January 2, and a paperback version will be available shortly.  All profits go to charity (details below).  Hope you’ll check it out!  Just click the cover image to go up, up, and way… to the Amazon page.  🙂

10509686_10205387917966560_7626109846516463798_n

They walk among us. They are our friends and family, our neighbors… even our enemies. Individuals with extraordinary abilities.

Some view their powers as a blessing. Others, a curse.

From the marvelous to the mundane, each of the charcters in this anthology must come to grips with the burden that has been placed upon them. Some choose to do good for others; some retreat into more pedestrian pursuits, only to discover they can run from everything but themselves. Some find solace in simple acts; others glory in the grandeur of their exploits. Some want nothing more than to disappear permanently. Yet through it all, hope and humanity prevail in unexpected ways.

Featuring nine super stories by ten amazing authors, this is truly an anthology of the extraordinary.

Proceeds from the sale of this book will benefit the Sickle Cell Clinic at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health. Sickle Cell Disease can cause chronic, lifelong pain. Riley Hospital for Children provides a holistic approach to care for patients affected by Sickle Cell Disease, and also helps family members cope with the impact of the diagnosis.

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Thomas Robins: The pull of family

Another guest post from the members of LOOW (the League of Extraordinary Woolwrights) – this time we’re visiting with Thomas Robins, the author of the popular SF novel Desperate to Escape – and someone who’s well educated on the subject of family!

20215748d8d60ad8986cef_L__V380644920_SX200_Carol Davis, friend and author extraordinaire, asked me to write a few words on the subject of family. I will do my best to contain myself, but I have written tens of thousands of words on the topic. I have two degrees in Family Studies
(bachelors and masters level degrees). I find the topic of family systems endlessly fascinating. When I talk about my area of study, I often hear this comment: “There’s no such thing as a functional family.” I beg to differ. There are a plethora of functional families, only none of them look the same.

5126maGf2SL__AA160_If I’m not careful, I’ll start regurgitating one of the lectures I used to give undergraduates in the intro class I taught years ago. Let me, instead, talk about how I conceptualize families in my writing. The thing I always try to keep in mind when I am developing characters is that we act in ways that sustain the system we are in, while desiring change as little as possible. Usually, a main character will undergo a transformation during the course of a novel, but those in his or her environment (including family) will work to regress the protagonist back to the norm so the friends and family can keep living the life they are used to (thereby avoiding change). The compelling story isn’t a main character who bests the bad guys, but the main character who can escape the pull of friends and family.

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Will Swardstrom – It’s a Swardstrom thing

Another member of LOOW (the League of Original Woolwrights): Will Swardstrom, who’s the author of SF thriller Dead Sleep and a number of short stories, including Ant Apocalypse and Contact Window.  It’s becoming a rule in his family: if you’re a Swardstrom, you write!

46d767c7f20f0a823908a6_L__V340853896_SX200_A casual look through the books and stories I’ve written shows a clear involvement of my family in my writing. I can’t help it. I think it’s the middle child thing.

Lemme back up. My name is Will Swardstrom and I’ve been doing this Indie Author deal for about a year and a half. As I kept writing and publishing, my siblings took notice. My sister Betsy decided to try her hand at writing fiction and my brother Paul picked up a pen for the first time in a long time. Collectively we published a set of short stories we called “Baking With Swords.” (Cuz my last name is Sward-strom and my sister’s married name is Baker…) It was definitely a labor of love. I really wanted 51zPFpWq5GL__AA160_to give my brother and sister a small taste of the publishing business and the fun I’ve had with it, but coordinating three distinctive personalities who each don’t want to hurt the others’ feelings can be difficult. (That’s the middle kid personality – soothing over arguments and hurt feelings.)

My brother continued to write a little and came up with a story he was stumped on. “Come on in. Play in my toy box,” he said. I played and tinkered. It was a lot of fun, being able to stomp around in someone else’s story and see the passion they had for it. In the end, we put both our names on the short story “Hotbox Runner,” and published it this summer.

51QeAV4EUAL__AA160_What’s happened since then? Well my retired dad has taken to writing as well. From what he’s said (I haven’t read any of it yet), it sounds like a massive space epic and I would love to see it come together. My younger brother also now works in publishing (albeit working in a book publisher’s warehouse, but still…).

Ultimately, though, I wouldn’t have even gotten to where I am without the love of reading and education from both of my parents. The bookshelves were never “full” at my house. There was always room for more and that’s what really drew me into reading as a kid. I knew there would never be an end to the adventures I could have in the pages of a book.

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Logan Thomas Snyder: Three Memories

I might not have entered indy publishing at all if it weren’t for the members of LOOW — the League of Original Woolwrights, a group of writers who came together through their love of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series.  We’re each other’s sounding board these days, a great group of very creative folks, and I thought you’d like to meet them.  I chatted with Dave Adams, Fredric Shernoff and Will Swardstrom when I started this blog; now it’s Logan Thomas Snyder’s turn!  Along with his Wool-inspired novel The Disappeared, Logan is the author of the SF epic The Lazarus Particle and the short story Becoming Violet, which he’s turning into a series.

60481049e8c30a9004842c_L__V348212331_SX200_When Carol asked me to write about how my family has influenced my writing, three distinct memories from childhood came to mind…

The first is my parents reading to me. I remember them reading to me constantly while I was growing up, and not just kids’ books, either; I have vivid memories of them reading me Frank Herbert’s “Dune” and Stephen R. Donaldson’s “Thomas Covenant” series when I was 9 or 10 years old.

517TioDVzbL__AA160_The second is a birthday gift my Aunt Judy gave me not long afterward. It was a dictionary. Most preteens probably would have chucked it without a second thought, but I loved it. A book of words! The very best words in the English language, no less! For years, that dictionary was like my bible. What made it even more special was the inscription: “Logan, This family needs an author. I hope this helps you on your journey. Love, Aunt Judy.” (Sadly, Aunt Judy passed last year, but she did live long enough to see me self-publish Part I of The Disappeared, and for that I’m so grateful. Part II is dedicated to her, and remains the only time I’ve dedicated one of my books to a single person.)

41prZAZaSbL__AA160_The third memory is watching my older brother write a story when he was 16. I was 8, and I asked him what he was doing. He explained to me that he was writing a story. At that point in my life, it had never really occurred to me that stories don’t just spring into existence. They’re born from the blood, sweat, and tears of authors, of creators… and my brother was one of them. Long before I discovered my favorite authors or the novels that would change my life forever, my number one influence was my brother the writer.

So, that’s it! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to grab a tissue and thank my family for raising me the way they did.

You can find Logan’s author page at Amazon here.

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Chatting with Will Swardstrom

Back with another author spotlight, featuring the authors of the Silo Saga fanfic – as well as a wide spectrum of original work! This time: Will Swardstrom, whose Ant Apocalypse is climbing the Kindle charts. You can find his author page right here.

ddeb5659574f0ad8986c6c_L__V380005273_SX200_While I’ve been getting my e-publishing career underway, I’ve met people who’ve gotten into writing fairly recently, while others have been at it since they were first able to pick up a pencil.  What’s your background?

Well, I was born at a very early age…

Okay, seriously…I’ve loved writing for a long time and have always had dreams of being an author. After college I worked over six years at the local newspaper. I definitely was able to improve my writing chops during the time, but writing thousands of words each day about school boards, tax laws, high school football, and many other topics really takes it out of you. Coming home in the evening and writing more was really daunting. It wasn’t until after I went back to school to become a teacher that I was even in the position to have time to devote to writing. Once I’d gotten my bearings as a teacher, I was able to spend time each day last year writing a book, my debut novel, Dead Sleep.

Now that we’ve met you… how about introducing us to your favorite character, out of all the fictional people you’ve brought to life?  Did he or she pop into your head, carrying the story along with them, or did you have the story first and create the character to make the story happen?

My favorite character? Wow…to some it may seem a bit of a cop-out because it’s my fan-fiction story, but Mary, the protagonist (antagonist?) from The Veil is probably my favorite. The story may be set in Hugh Howey’s world, but Mary and all her faults are entirely my own. I knew I wanted to write a WOOL story after I’d seen WJ Davies have Hugh’s blessing on The Runner. But, the story stewed in my mind for a while until my novel was done. That really gave Mary a chance to develop before I put her on paper.

Do you have an in-house beta reader?  A spouse, parent, best friend?  Is it tough for you to find people to read and help shape your story?

My first beta readers are some of my fellow teachers, who just so happen to be English teachers. There are three fellow teachers that I really relied on for my first book. In fact, I had tried to go with some other friends of mine that I knew loved books, but when it came down to actually getting feedback from them, it was like pulling teeth, but I work with some great people at my school and they were fantastic. Then, since I’ve gotten into the LOOW (League of Original Woolwriters), I’ve been able to use some of them for beta readers as well. It hasn’t been tough so far, but I may be the exception to the rule.

Stephen King has a lot of writer protagonists, while John Grisham writes about lawyers.  Are many of your characters a reflection of you, or of people you know?  Do you stick “close to home” with your stories, or venture as far out into the universe as you can get?

So far, my main protagonists have been Jackson Ellis (Dead Sleep) who is a newspaper reporter, Rick Waters (Ant Apocalypse) who is a teacher, and Mary Welcher, a resident of the silo. So, yeah…I have followed King’s lead on that. I think once I get more comfortable in my writing, I probably will venture further out.

Do you have a favorite theme, or favorite kind of dilemma to throw your characters into, or would you rather blaze new ground with each new story?

I would really like to explore new ground and new ideas with each of my stories. Some major questions I’ve explored are: What does it really mean to be human? (Dead Sleep), How far would you go to protect your family? (Ant Apocalypse), and Are there mistakes that are unforgivable? (The Veil). Certainly there are more themes and questions I ask and readers may even be more aware of them than I am.

Many of the Silo Saga entries, and much of the original fiction inspired by Hugh Howey’s Wool novels, are multi-part stories, prompting readers to keep buying each new entry.  For the people reading this who are most familiar (and comfortable) with reading a complete work – how would you encourage them to buy a piece at a time, with the promise that more will follow?

Well, my work, The Veil, is a stand-alone piece. But, as I was finishing it, I had some fantastic (I hope) ideas for a sequel. Does the story stand on its own? It sure does and that’s what I intended. But…is there a place I can go in a sequel? Oh yeah.

I think, ultimately, authors need to make sure the story works by itself. Readers can deal with cliffhangers, but tell a story in the process. For me, as I’m writing my two sequels to The Veil, I plan on having a cliffhanger of sorts at the end of Part 2, but the main story I’m telling in that book will be finished at the end, leaving another complete story to be told in Part 3.

Be honest: did you have any clue what fanfiction was before Hugh Howey started talking about it?  If you did, had you read any fanfic, or written any yourself?

OK…I knew very little about fanfiction. I had a high school student a couple of years ago that liked to write Harry Potter and Naruto fanfiction and she took a lot of flak from her classmates for it. Then, when I found out 50 Shades of Gray was originally Twilight fanfic, I really had a bad viewpoint of it. It took reading WJ Davies’ The Runner and then Greatfall by Jason Gurley before I could really embrace it.

A lot of the people who’ll read this are fanfiction writers themselves, but they’ve only been able to publish their work not-for-profit, at Live Journal, AO3, or Fanfiction.net (all of which can be an excellent training ground, and a great way to gather feedback on your stories).  Since you publish at Amazon, what’s the advantage for you as a writer, and how would you encourage other good writers to consider taking the leap to Kindle publication?  (Aside from the money, since none of us has been raking in any serious cash just yet.)

I really am not familiar with a lot of fanfiction sites, but I would say that being able to say, “I’m a published author through Amazon,” goes a long way when I’m talking to family and friends. I have made so many great friends in the process as well. Just like Hugh Howey says, writers don’t need to be antagonistic towards each other, we can cooperate. Luckily, I stumbled into a great group of writers that I can bounce ideas off and gain support along the way. It isn’t just publishing on Kindle, but it is finding other authors that you can trust along the way. If that comes through a fanfiction site, great.

Here’s a typical interview question: what’s your usual “I’m putting on my Writer hat now” scenario?  Early morning or late evening?  A long stretch of uninterrupted time, or a few minutes grabbed here and there?  A quiet room?  Music playing?

Whenever I have time, but it is usually about 9 or 10 p.m. when my daughter has gone to bed and I have a few moments to myself. There are so many distractions that I have a hard time focusing on writing until after my family is in bed.

Actually, my favorite place to write so far is the dining room table at my in-laws’ home. I don’t know why – it just is.

Go ahead: ramble!  About writing, meeting other writers, the publication experience.

Wow. This has been an amazing journey. I published my first short story on Amazon in late May and now have four works in total for sale. I have a lot of things I want to do and finding time to write and read is the biggest thing.

The most important thing I learned was to just keep writing. It wasn’t something anybody told me – you really have to learn for yourself (so why are you listening to me?) but when I was writing Dead Sleep, I took three weeks off to help my wife with something at school. Starting back up was hard, but I knew if I didn’t I’d regret it forever.

Get out there and write!

If you’d like to follow me on my journey, I’m on Twitter — @wswardstrom and my blog is willswardstrom.wordpress.com and my Facebook page is www.facebook.com/wswardstrom.

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Chatting with Fredric Shernoff

Continuing my series of interviews with fellow writers – this time I’m talking with Fredric Shernoff, whose Amazon author page is here.  Like yours truly, he began his writing career with sci fi and Batman… definitely a couple of inspirational subjects!

d9155ab70b2c0a82390bd1_L__V354789563_SX200_As I’ve gotten my e-publishing career underway, I’ve met people who’ve gotten into writing fairly recently, while others have been at it since they were first able to pick up a pencil.  What’s your background?

I wrote my first story (a sci-fi short) in second grade. It became a big deal and was presented at a school board meeting as an example of what children should be encouraged to do. Unfortunately, many teachers didn’t take the hint and my creative writing was discouraged more and more each year after that.

I wrote Batman fan fiction in a notebook while I was away at overnight camp and a short story for an assignment in 11th grade English but that was it. This year, I had some free time and decided to try to write something to satisfy myself and all the family and friends who had been on my case about it for years. That became Atlantic Island. During the writing process I researched self-publishing on Amazon. That’s how I learned about Hugh Howey and Wool and the fan fiction that was starting to pop up around it. I took a brief break from Atlantic Island and wrote a Silo story called Angels of the Earth. At that point I decided I’d found my calling and I was in this for good.

Now that we’ve met you… how about introducing us to your favorite character, out of all the fictional people you’ve brought to life?  Did he or she pop into your head, carrying the story along with them, or did you have the story first and create the character to make the story happen?

I have many favorites for different reasons, but I will say that Sam Lucas, the mayor in Atlantic Island, was my favorite to write. He’s a man who was born in to a challenging life but overcame it in a big way. Through those early struggles and the impossible circumstances of the book, Mayor Lucas remains steady, focused and a good man. Of course, things don’t often go well for genuinely good people in stories.

Do you have an in-house beta reader?  A spouse, parent, best friend?  Is it tough for you to find people to read and help shape your story?

I relied mostly on family and a few fans I picked up through my fan fiction. It’s become easier to get feedback as I’ve become more established.

Stephen King has a lot of writer protagonists, while John Grisham writes about lawyers.  Are many of your characters a reflection of you, or of people you know?  Do you stick “close to home” with your stories, or venture as far out into the universe as you can get?

The characters in my stories are all different types of people from all walks of life, but my protagonists are often extensions of myself. I do believe that it’s challenging for a person to get into the headspace of someone very different than himself (or herself). Theo (Atlantic Island) is the idealized version of me in high school. He’s lost and confused like I was at that time, but events conspired to drag out of him the person he always had the potential to be. On the flipside, Uriel (Angels of the Earth) is the hopeless romantic I was at a point in my life, but seen through the critical lens of someone who looks back on those years and says, “what was I thinking?” I had one “true love” obsession during my teenage years and that provided framework for the story, but I also pined after and dated other girls throughout that time. I also eventually moved on. Uriel has his one girl and that’s never going to change for him.

Do you have a favorite theme, or favorite kind of dilemma to throw your characters into, or would you rather blaze new ground with each new story?

I’d much rather explore new situations. I keep my focus on the characters and I love to figure out how they will get themselves out of a new predicament. My current project is a time travel novel and that provides so much room for unexpected dilemmas. My concept of the time stream is just littered with pitfalls and traps and my protagonist keeps meddling with the past even though he’s constantly trying to avoid doing just that.

Many of the Silo Saga entries, and much of the original fiction inspired by Hugh Howey’s Wool novels, are multi-part stories, prompting readers to keep buying each new entry.  For the people reading this who are most familiar (and comfortable) with reading a complete work – how would you encourage them to buy a piece at a time, with the promise that more will follow?

I’m not the most experienced with multi-part stories, but I think if the pricing makes sense and the first part really hooks the reader, it can be a great way to go.

Be honest: did you have any clue what fanfiction was before Hugh Howey started talking about it?  If you did, had you read any fanfic, or written any yourself?

I knew what it was but I hadn’t read too much. I like alternative takes on famous comic book characters (currently loving DC’s Injustice story) and I enjoyed the Wicked series which was based on Wizard of Oz. I’ve learned since that there are so many different types of fan-fiction and that the Internet is full of some great work just waiting to be discovered.

A lot of the people who’ll read this are fanfiction writers themselves, but they’ve only been able to publish their work not-for-profit, at Live Journal, AO3, or Fanfiction.net (all of which can be an excellent training ground, and a great way to gather feedback on your stories).  Since you publish at Amazon, what’s the advantage for you as a writer, and how would you encourage other good writers to consider taking the leap to Kindle publication?  (Aside from the money, since none of us has been raking in any serious cash just yet.)

I hope that publishing through Amazon gives a little credibility, though the work still has to deliver on its promise or people will demand a refund. The best thing about it (though still a major challenge) is that Amazon’s system rewards success. You have to scratch and claw your way into the spotlight but once that happens Amazon will often help move an author the next rung or two up the ladder.

Here’s a typical interview question: what’s your usual “I’m putting on my Writer hat now” scenario?  Early morning or late evening?  A long stretch of uninterrupted time, or a few minutes grabbed here and there?  A quiet room?  Music playing?

Depends on the book or the scene. I write sad scenes at night, in the dark, with mood music playing. Action or fun scenes I write any time of day and usually I prefer to be in Barnes and Noble or Starbucks, out among the people.

Go ahead: ramble!  About writing, meeting other writers, the publication experience.

I’ve been a published author for about half a year. It’s been one of the most exciting, confusing, educational times of my life. I’ve met great people who do so much to help one another succeed. Fan fiction writing as part of Kindle Worlds connected me with people at Amazon who have been supportive and encouraging. I’ve become a better writer throughout this process and I’m able to write faster than before while still (I hope) preserving quality. The biggest challenge, which probably exists no matter where you publish, is to take a very big, macro view of your success. I have had days where I sold over thirty books with no effort on my part to advertise, and thought that I should probably clear my schedule for the meetings with publishers, agents and interviewers that would surely follow. Then I had days where I sold absolutely nothing and thought, “I’m completely done in this industry.” Those days are outliers and if there’s one thing to remember in this business it’s this: do not base anything on the performance of outliers!

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Chatting with David Adams

One of my goals for this blog is to publish an ongoing series of interviews with fellow writers, introducing you to a group of talented people you might not otherwise have the chance to meet and get to know.  You’re welcome to comment, ask questions, make requests, whatever!

First up: David Adams, whose Amazon author page is right over here.

809_900As I’ve gotten my e-publishing career underway, I’ve met people who’ve gotten into writing fairly recently, while others have been at it since they were first able to pick up a pencil. What’s your background?

Hello, I’m David Adams, author of the Lacuna series, the Insufficient Wool-fanfiction series and the Kobolds series, and I hope that the beginning my answer is identical to the one everyone reading this will eventually give.

I started with fanfiction.

More specifically, with Star Trek fanfiction written as part of Starbase 118’s UFOP group, one of the longest running Star Trek play-by-email groups around. The group, along with its monthly writing challenges, gave me a lot of the feedback, criticism, experience and inspiration to write my own things. I took what I liked about Star Trek, removed what I didn’t like (where are all the Chinese people?), and I wrote Lacuna.

I’ve been writing all kinds of things, though, going back further than that. I’ve been writing stories since I don’t even remember when. As soon as I could. But that’s where it all started, really. Combine that with an adolescence wildly misspent playing Dungeons & Dragons and every video game under the sun, and you have me.

Now that we’ve met you… how about introducing us to your favorite character, out of all the fictional people you’ve brought to life? Did he or she pop into your head, carrying the story along with them, or did you have the story first and create the character to make the story happen?

“So I see you have many beautiful children,” she says, “tell me, which one is your favourite?”

Oh God.

The answer to that question is that, well, my favourite changes depending on my mood, what I’m writing at the moment, what I haven’t touched in a while, and so many other factors and variables that giving a consistent answer is… difficult. But here goes.

At the moment, my favourite character is probably Ren, from Ren of Atikala. Next month it might be Turner from Insufficient, then back to Captain Liao for a spell.

How I make characters, though, is strange. Some come into the world with everything they need; backstories, personalities, favourite colours, etc. Others need time to grow. I find it depends a lot on the perspective used. Third person tends to be more about the world and the things in it, while first person is more about a character’s personal journey. Of course, Insufficient breaks that rule pretty hard, but that’s what rules are there for; to be broken. Assuming, of course, you know the rule exists in the first place and why you’re breaking it.

Do you have an in-house beta reader? A spouse, parent, best friend? Is it tough for you to find people to read and help shape your story?

Yes I do, my long time mate Shane Michael Murray, author of the frankly awesome The Orc of Many Questions. He’s living in Japan now, but that doesn’t stop me throwing books at him non-stop. Somehow he keeps up.

Poor bastard.

Stephen King has a lot of writer protagonists, while John Grisham writes about lawyers. Are many of your characters a reflection of you, or of people you know? Do you stick “close to home” with your stories, or venture as far out into the universe as you can get?

Often characters are the anti-me. I’m male, but I have exactly one male protagonist. Either way, everyone I write tends to be warriors, fighters, military personnel. Strong characters. I’m a civilian. I cry during romance films. Jeez.

Magnet, aka Mike Williams, is probably the closest to me. I wanted to be a fighter pilot when I was a kid, and his goof-ball, self-deprecating, ‘fiction is stranger than life’ attitude is remarkably similar to my own. I’d like to think I’m prettier than he is, but how he looks on the outside is probably indicative of how I see myself, so eh.

Do you have a favorite theme, or favorite kind of dilemma to throw your characters into, or would you rather blaze new ground with each new story?

My modus operandi regarding writing is to try to create likable, relatable, interesting characters and then do horrible things to them.

When I die and go to Hell, I’ll be punished by being a character in one of my own novels.

That said, I’ve noticed with a hint of uncomfortable realisation that I tend to focus on matters of sex and reproduction a fair amount. Magnet debates marrying his girlfriend, Liao gets pregnant, Ren shuns her people’s ruthlessly pragmatic ‘organised reproduction’ and Turner is one of only a dozen or so females inside a Silo. It’s rarely the focus of the story (Turner being an exception), but it’s certainly present.

Not sure what that says about me (probably that I got started in fanfiction… hyuk, hyuk, hyuk) but there you go. Now you all know my dark secret.

Many of the Silo Saga entries, and much of the original fiction inspired by Hugh Howey’s Wool novels, are multi-part stories, prompting readers to keep buying each new entry. For the people reading this who are most familiar (and comfortable) with reading a complete work – how would you encourage them to buy a piece at a time, with the promise that more will follow?

I make an implicit promise at the end of the story that the series is going somewhere.

Liao gets pregnant at the end of Lacuna and James is missing in action. Insufficient ends with Turner and the other females hiding out with their supporters in the depths of their Silo. Ren of Atikala ends with Ren being betrayed and turned over to an evil dragon. These things (I hope!) tell the reader that, no, things are not done yet. We’re just starting. The best is yet to come.

Be honest: did you have any clue what fanfiction was before Hugh Howey started talking about it? If you did, had you read any fanfic, or written any yourself?

As outlined above, yeah. For all my life. Star Trek is the birthplace of fanfiction — and the smutty kind, too. I grew up around slashfic of all kinds, to the point I just kind of consider it normal.

A lot of the people who’ll read this are fanfiction writers themselves, but they’ve only been able to publish their work not-for-profit, at Live Journal, AO3, or Fanfiction.net (all of which can be an excellent training ground, and a great way to gather feedback on your stories). Since you publish at Amazon, what’s the advantage for you as a writer, and how would you encourage other good writers to consider taking the leap to Kindle publication? (Aside from the money, since none of us has been raking in any serious cash just yet.)

Our biggest advantage is our biggest disadvantage. The expectation of quality.

If someone sees a story for sale on Amazon, there’s certain expectations that the story will be good. It’ll be a decent length, relatively free of typos and errors, and will be entertaining. This is good: it reassures people that the couple of bucks they’re going to spent will be worth it, and that they’ll be entertained. If not, there’s Amazon’s no-questions-asked refunds policy and that dreaded, ego-crushing 1-star button.

The only problem with that, of course, is that your story has to be good. It has to be professionally edited and well formatted, it has to be compatible with a wide range of devices and readers, and it has to be priced competitively. It has to have a super professional cover. It should have a print edition available. Etc.

If someone doesn’t like your Fanfiction.net story, they’ll stop reading and that’s it. If someone doesn’t like your paid, Amazon story, well… they’re more likely to leave bad reviews, or seek a refund, which is essentially a “bad review”. There are lots of reasons for returns, but when you see them for yourself, that’s just how they’re seen.

But that desire for quality pushes you. It makes you a better writer. Getting a 1-star hurts, it does, but I read all my negative reviews. I read them far more often and with more care than I do my 5-stars, which I read once, smile, and move on. I learn what people didn’t like. What made them dislike the story, and I fix it; either in a new edition of the same story (rarely), or in a sequel (more commonly). I learn. I adapt. I grow.

When you’re charging for a service you have to make it good. It’s the best motivator for quality I have; making sure that what I write is good enough to sell.

Here’s a typical interview question: what’s your usual “I’m putting on my Writer hat now” scenario? Early morning or late evening? A long stretch of uninterrupted time, or a few minutes grabbed here and there? A quiet room? Music playing?

Long stretches, either in bed with my laptop or in my office on my Mac. I need to be away from distractions and I need to be warm, fed and caffeinated. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. That’s just the nature of it.

Don’t rush if the words aren’t coming out. Let them come at their own pace. A late book will eventually be good, but a rushed book will be bad forever.

Go ahead: ramble! About writing, meeting other writers, the publication experience.

Oh God, what a journey.

I’ve been living off my book royalties for a year now. It’s not quite sustainable; I saved up a bit of cash to do so, and it’s now clear that it’s time I went back and got myself a real job. But what a year.

I met Hugh Howey in person when he was on the Gold Coast earlier this year, and it was a blast. I loved it. If he comes back, I’m definitely getting him pizza like we planned. 😀

The e-publishing scene is just beginning. Just beginning. We’re on the precipice of something really great here, and now’s the time to get publishing.

Technically it was a couple of years ago, but never mind that. Now’s as good a time as any.

Go. Write. Publish. Enjoy. Life’s too short and too awesome to be spent kicking yourself because you never got to tell that story that you always wanted to tell.

You know the one.