Ravens in the Sky Signed Print Giveaway on Goodreads

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Ravens in the Sky by Will Bly

Ravens in the Sky

by Will Bly

Giveaway ends September 09, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

I’ve signed a print copy of Ravens in the Sky to be delivered by raven to a lucky reader on Goodreads. RITS represents my first foray into writing fiction, and I am happy to say it has been well-received. While I’ve gone on to write other projects, RITS remains my standard-bearer. The manuscript of Raven’s Bane, RITS’s sequel, is finished and now walks the path to publish-town. Stay tuned.

Debut Fantasy-Mystery, Ravens in the Sky

Debut Fantasy-Mystery, Ravens in the Sky

 

 

Posted in General

5 Questions with Fantasy Author Heather Love Fitzgerald

I had a chance to have a chat with Heather Fitzgerald, author of The Tethered World and the upcoming The Flaming Sword. I have always been impressed with her writing and the amount of effort she puts into the outreach to her readers. We talk about Facebook promotion, what it means to be phantasmagorical, and magical mushrooms…

Heather Fitzgerald

Heather Fitzgerald

You threw one heck of a Facebook party for The Tethered World. How’d you pull it off?

Whew! It was a ton of fun but it felt like I was launching the first manned flight to Mars from my dining room. I had an awesome team on Facebook that helped to spread the word and invite the masses before the big day. During the previous year, I snatched up cool book related swag (I mean, who doesn’t want Bigfoot or Gnome gear? No, really.).

Then I made some pretty awesome Memes (if I do say so myself), that would act as questions for each segment of the party. Every 15 minutes I posted a new one, along with a picture of what was up for grabs. Everyone that commented got their name in a cyber hat. My husband and another couple were responsible for keeping up with the flood of comments and writing down names which (in theory) left me free to chat. We used a random number generator to pick the winners.
In the end we had over 200 people at the party and excellent sales (for a nobody, debut author like myself). It was a stressful bundle of fun which left all five us exhausted but happy with how the evening went. More importantly, the partygoers LOVED it and we actually had ongoing conversations for days from the party site on FB. The Tethered World went to #2 and #11 in different categories on Amazon. My publisher was quite pleased and proclaimed the party a success!!!!

An example of a meme that Heather used for her Facebook party.

An example of a meme that Heather used for her Facebook party.

You’ve made the word “Phantasmagorical” your own. What is it about this word that resonates with you?

Ah! You’ve done a little homework I see :) Well, something about the word itself captures my imagination. It’s not a true onomatopoeia, but if you squint your eyes and tilt your head to listen, it kinda works that way. Speaking the word is like taking an adventure with your mouth. It’s lengthy enough that you could fall into a rabbit hole, or walk through a wardrobe, before you finish pronouncing it.

When we talked earlier, I complimented your book and you told me that you had a lot of creative input into how it came out. I must ask, what makes mushrooms so… fantastical?

I believe you’re referring to the *ahem* phantasmagorical book cover? Yes, it was definitely a process. One which included a creative crisis that made me look like an unstable, right-brained idiot, I might add.

My publisher hires a graphic artist to design a cover via stock photos. She’s kind enough to include me in the process. But it’s quite, QUITE difficult to find pictures that reflect a world that only exists in one’s head. Finding graphics that represented my quirky, fantasy world was overwhelming to say the least.

How about one of the cities in the book? Maybe one of the legendary creatures? The main character (teenage, female…waaay overdone)? So we tried this and that and all manner of things in between. It most often looked dark and brooding. I didn’t want readers to have the wrong impression of the story. In frustration, I attempted to scrap it all and sent photos of other fantasy covers on the market that I liked which had a completely different feel (the aforementioned creative crisis). My publisher did not take the bait, thankfully.

Since the obvious searches were coming up void of anything I cared for, I decided to search for more obscure things that still said ‘fantasy’. There is a scene in The Tethered World in which the main character, Sadie, comes across giant, glowing mushrooms. It’s also where she meets her first not-so-mythical creature, a leprechaun. So, you see, this makes mushrooms fantastical, at least to me!

Who would’ve thought I’d actually score a hit searching for ‘magical mushrooms’ but there were quite a few pictures to choose from. Most I didn’t care for. But it only takes ONE. And the one we used turned out perfect. Spot on.

Add to the mushrooms the cool dragon image that my publisher chose and—complicated as that—we had our cover. Book two, The Flaming Sword, took a similar amount of angst with fewer meltdowns on my part.

The Tethered World -- out now!

The Tethered World — out now!

Autism is a subject that is making its way into our literary canon more and more. Tell me about the role of autism in The Tethered World.

The roll of autism in my story begins with the roll of autism in my life. My son is autistic. As a parent, I grapple with how his challenges fit in with this already broken world. Dealing with his uniqueness is part of what constitutes ‘normal’ life for our family for the last twenty-three years. And with with autism numbers swelling like the mercury here in Texas, it touches EVERYONE in some way these days.

I wanted to include autism (as well as homeschooling…something else that is normal to my family) as a regular part of a typical teenage girl’s life. Dealing with her brother’s meltdowns and quirks are part of what makes Sadie, Sadie. Like the fact that she hates roller coasters. That’s just how it is and she deals with it. There was no agenda or soapbox in mind by including either of these elements in the story (autism and homeschooling), they were used as a backdrop that helps to inform the main character’s personality.

Let’s face it, they’re both part of our society in some way. Whether by firsthand experience…or simply because you live in America. These things are on the radar (not the peripheral) and should be included in a matter-of-fact way.

Through the eyes of Heather Fitzgerald, everyone rocks!

Through the eyes of Heather Fitzgerald, everyone rocks!

Your main character, Sadie, slips into another world. What’s her initial reaction like? What was your reaction as a writer exploring this world for the first time?

I’ve heard it said that our main characters are an extension of ourselves as writers. Especially in the first few novels. Guilty as charged here. My reaction and Sadie’s would be pretty similar.

She/we would rather read about such places than be dragged into them in real life. I know it may sound boring and unadventurous, but would you really and truly want to meet a colony of Yetis? Ogres? Okay, maybe Gnomes and Meadow Faeries but only because they’re much smaller than humans (although Gnomes do have stealth and deadly skills).

But, because I love to read such stories, I had to write them as well (logical conclusion right?). As trite as it sounds, I’m in love with Narnia and I owe my desire to write to CS Lewis. I wanted more of his sort of adventure. Tales that seem like they could, quite possibly, be true.
And so…I wrote a tale that—I hope—will transport readers in a similar way. Will make them think, “hey, this it could really happen”. I’m no Clive Staples Lewis, but I desire to write stories that he would enjoy reading, if he were alive today.

I love a good “what if”. What if you could find a magical piece of furniture? Or a ring? What if something extraordinary could happen to us ordinary folks? Though the reality of it would be terrifying, my imagination doesn’t mind it a bit. I certainly didn’t want to leave the pages of Narnia, or the Wood between the Worlds—but I certainly don’t want to travel there in the flesh, either. (Okay, maybe a tiny part of me would like the opportunity to at least present itself).

I like to say Sadie is a reluctant heroine. She’s not tough. Not ready to kick someone’s butt. She’s angry about the secrets her parents have kept from her. She’s sarcastic. She’s scared. But she’s also fiercely loyal and desires to do what’s right, no matter how hard it is. I’d like to believe that’s the grit I would find within myself in a similar situation.

Grit and God. That’s the way to get through a zombie apocalypse (not included in my book) or a tunnel full of dark dwarves (definitely included).

Connect: www.heatherllfitzgerald.com, WriteFitz (twitter), tetheredworld (instagram).
The Tethered World is available on Amazon in paperback and digital formats. Free to read on Kindle Unlimited! Audiobook available on audible.com.
Book two, The Flaming Sword, is available November 1st.

The Flaming Sword due out Nov. 1st, 2016

The Flaming Sword due out Nov. 1st, 2016

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Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Fantasy Reader and Hobbyist Writer John Blenkinsop

I think the real fun thing about this interview is that John writes for children he knows in the same way that Tolkien did. Stories written for specific children tend to resonate with others, and the same can be said about the Worlds of Yifan books.

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Prince Yifan and Princess Yifan are YA books set in Asia. Why does Asia provide the perfect setting for what you wanted to accomplish?

The books started with Princess Yifan, because my step-daughter, Yifan, was at that time very much into princess stories. I’ve written short stories for friends over the years and now I felt I had the stamina to write a children’s length novel. So I did.

And because Yifan was born in China, and has an investment in Chinese culture, parts of the first book – and then half of the second – had to be in an Asian setting. China is fascinating. But like many non-Western cultures they are looking to the West for their ‘new’ culture. This is, I believe, a mistake. But so much of Chinese culture was destroyed and reviled during the so-called Cultural Revolution that there is a void to fill. Thankfully, it is becoming more popular in China to look back to their rich history. I draw from this history – the very early Qin dynasty and the last Qing dynasty – to provide the background for both books. There’s a Korean dimension in book two, because Yifan’s father is half-Korean, and she likes Korean culture.

Taiwan came into it because I needed a long sea voyage!

You are a fan of Philip K. Dick. Why do you think his fiction translates so well to the big screen (Bladerunner, Minority Report, Total Recall and A Scanner Darkly)?

It’s strange that Dick’s fiction should translate so well to the screen, since it is often fragmented and confusing. But there are people out there who can see through the jarring, flicker-book prose to the deeper realities of his work, and they are the ones who can see his visions up there on the screen.

For a long time, I’ve wanted to see a proper film (not an animation) of A Scanner Darkly. I have it in my head, along with the score – mostly the Rolling Stones and Elton John, with the final scene in the drug-field being Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.

Dick was a visionary and visual writer – although he didn’t describe flitters or surroundings or faces or clothing, his works bring images constantly to mind. That can make it difficult for fans to appreciate the films, because we all have our own images. But I have to say, most of the films so far have to my mind been at the acceptable end of the spectrum.

But I would like a film that encompasses the total strangeness of Dick’s mind. Something like Valis, or Ubik. Then we would truly see him on the big screen.

As an adult you still read children’s or YA books from time to time. Admittedly, so do I. What is it about these books that remains appealing? Name a book that you read in childhood that has shaped your life.

There are so many. I started by reading Enid Blyton, and went on to Nesbitt and R M Ballantyne, R L Stephenson, Captain W E Johns – sometimes I wonder if I preferred reading writers with two initials!

I was probably too young to appreciate Valley of the Dolls at 11. But I enjoyed The Carpetbaggers, by Harold Robbins, and horror stories (M R James, another double initial author).

Anyway – Martin Rattler, by R M Ballantyne, has stayed with me for many years. And the narrative form is my preferred form for writing. There’s a vogue for eschewing adverbs, which I ignore; and another for demoting semi-colons; and another for ‘show, don’t tell’. Ballantyne was lucky enough to live at a time when none of those rules applied. I thank him, although my readers might not!

In your Smashwords interview, you list some authors you’ve recently read and recommended:

Authors recently read and recommended – Charlaine Harris (Lily Bard series), Charles Stross, Lee Child, the late Ian M Banks / Ian Banks, Sir Terry Pratchett, Herman Melville (Moby Dick), Neil Gaiman and E Nesbit.

Merge two works by any two of these authors and make a quick synopsis. Pitch it to us.

Five Children and IT, by E Nesbitt and Charles Stross

Bob Howard, erstwhile System Security Officer at The Laundry, could not have been more surprised when a simple summoning (requested on the correct forms, in triplicate) brought up not a third-level Presence, but a collection of children in various states of snottiness. Including a baby.

Getting them out of a secure office they should not have been in in the first place was less of a problem than finding them somewhere to stay, but Bob’s partner took it all in her stride. And while Bob started a surreptitious hunt for Psammeads in the Laundry’s eccentric databases, the children began turning Dulwich into a hotspot for Edwardian high jinks…

What’s coming next? What are you working on?

I am not a professional writer. I’m going to have to work well into my seventies to support my rather younger family, and I can see that I can’t rely on royalties! But I have started the Yifan stories, and I don’t want to stop.

First is book three, in which the Dutch Captain is revealed and the physics of inter-Universe travel is discovered. There are dark themes here, and it’s not recommended for those under 13 (although that would never have stopped me, at 10 or 11).

Then a novel-length version of my adult short story Glassman.

Next would be a novel in the Worlds of Yifan series which follows Shen Teal, the Prince in Prince Yifan, in an adventure in his World – you know he’s engaged to an eleven-year-old murderess, no small thanks to Yifan. I like that World, and there is certainly more there for a fourteen-year-old boy to encounter.

I have some shorts from years ago that I might collect and put on Smashwords – The Knights of the Golden Drain. Please don’t hold your breaths! There’s a wizard – Anadin, the Pandemic of Zubes. But usually I don’t ‘do’ magic. Partly because I don’t believe in it, and partly because I have no ideas for a convincing magical system. if I find one, I might include it in later books. So watch this space…

Posted in Author Interviews, General

Creatures: A Collection of Short Stories has a surprise addition…

Consider the Pot Sweetened!
Last week I announced the pre-order for Creatures, a collection of 5 short stories that serve as an tribute to a word I’m fascinated with.

Creatures, by Will Bly

Creatures, by Will Bly


This week I want to let you know that we’ve added the first chapter  of Raven’s Bane to Creatures.

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Not only will you enjoy my twisted creations, but you’ll be treated to the first view into the sequel to Ravens in the Sky (of which you can get a free e-book version through July). Darker, deeper, more disturbing… but maybe more hopeful?

So please, grab RITS for free, pre-order Creatures for a buck, and let me know what you think about the first chapter of Raven’s Bane!

Thank you for your contributions to the “diaper fund”!

Will B

Baby Bly coming October, 2016

Baby Bly coming October, 2016!

Posted in General

5 Questions with fantasy author J.M. Butler (Jessica B. Fry)

I was recently able to toss a few questions J.M. Butler‘s way. We talk about the influence of her grandfather on her writing, the blessing that is Wattpad, and the headaches she experiences when she doesn’t write.

J.M. Butler hanging out.

J.M. Butler hanging out.

The strongest aspect of your popularity seems to be your presence on Wattpad. How’d you establish yourself there?

In a very long, roundabout and rather unintentional way. When I first signed onto Wattpad, it was more to see if I could find a larger community of writers to engage with (and I did!). I started off posting chapters to a Little Mermaid retelling (Mermaid Bride) as well as a Norse, Egyptian, and Greek mythology mashup (Ragnarok Unravels). I participated in the various forums and eventually began hosting writing competitions. I’ve always loved writing prompt challenges, and so I started hosting those and providing detailed feedback for the competitors whenever I could. I also began uploading other stories and interacting with my readers while also reading and commenting on other people’s books.

It’s rather interesting to look back on my time with Wattpad because initially I thought it was just going to be a fun escape, and I took it one step at a time. I’ve been on the platform for a little over two years now, and I’ve helped establish a few profiles, including the Fantasy_Community. I’ve won a “Watty” for Mermaid Bride, and I became an ambassador. In total, I’ve actually released over 18 full novels and over 20 novellas and short stories on Wattpad. Some have been taken down to allow for full revisions and their eventual publication, but others will remain up.

Your pen name is a tribute to your Grandfather, Jim Butler, who inspired you to keep writing. If he checked in on you today, what do you reckon he would say about your writerly endeavors?

I think he’d probably pick up the latest draft of Identity Revealed and ask, “So when are you gonna actually finish this, sweetheart?”

I was actually working on Identity Revealed (then just The Portal) on the last night I saw him. He read the chapter where my protagonist slips through time, and that was when he smiled and told me he believed in me. I was really quite young then, so it’s not surprising that I had to rewrite so much of it. I cut my teeth on it, and it has been rewritten over 25 times so it bears little similarity to that initial draft. Though the time slip does still happen.

But Grandpa would probably tell me to finish it up and let it go. Then he’d want to know what had changed and what was new and whether I wanted to go pick up a pizza with him. (And I would definitely say yes.)

J.M. Butler having a Leia moment

J.M. Butler having a Leia moment

You are a prolific writer and you keep your readers satiated with new material. How do you keep up the breakneck pace?

If I don’t write, I feel antsy. The longer I go without writing, the worse it gets. Sometimes failure to write even triggers a headache. Each day I set aside time to write, even if it’s just in a notebook or dashed off on a legal pad while waiting for a client to show up. It’s a rather useful addiction to have as an author.

However, Wattpad has exacerbated the addiction. I have a solid group of readers who regularly interact with the stories, asking questions, offering thoughts, and otherwise anticipating the upcoming chapters. Each morning when I wake up, I find new questions and conversations with people who want to know more about these worlds and characters.

I’m not yet at a point where I can write full time. So I have to juggle this between keeping house, running a law firm, and volunteering. The need to write helps me carve out time in between tasks while my readers and the community motivates me to push even harder and encourages me even when I feel like I’m drowning.

In fairness though, my level of productivity varies, and I’ve learned to be flexible. This last week for instance included my sister’s wedding, two jury trials, a cracked windshield, and an allergic reaction to ground bee stings among other things. So I’ve only managed to eke out a couple chapters total. It used to bother me when I couldn’t meet my quota, but now I’ve accepted that that is just how it is sometimes, and that’s all right.

On Wattpad, you curate your own list of good fantasy novels. If you had to suggest one that is similar in some way to your own work which would it be?

Ah, yes, I need to update that list with some more of the treasures I’ve uncovered.

Some of the best that I’ve found are Brittanie Charmintine’s Mermaids and the Vampires Who Love Them (hilarious tongue in cheek spin on teen drama, environmentalism, and coming of age), Amber K. Bryant’s Fold series (hauntingly sweet paranormal about a girl and a boy and other dimensions), Sarah Benson’s Born of Shadow (gripping Egyptian action adventure for teens and adults), and Emily Keys The Dragon’s Throne (high fantasy adventure with a fun spin on dragons and magic).

You stated on your website recently that there is an exciting announcement soon. Any hints?

Yes! I can share some of it now. My story, Why Yes, Bluebeard, I’d Love To, is one of the top 25 finalists in the Target and Simon & Schuster anthology competition, Once Upon Now. The other news I have to sit on a little longer, but hopefully I’ll be able to talk about it soon.

Thank you so much for this opportunity and for being willing to work with my schedule. It was a privilege to be here. I hope you have a wonderful day!

To read more on J.M. Butler please visit her Wattpad Page

Posted in Author Interviews, General

Grab Ravens in the Sky for FREE from Smashwords this Month.

Use code “SFREE” to redeem your free copy.

Posted in General

Q & A with Ghouliana Stories

Ghouliana Stories (Bess Sturgis) writes tales for young readers that are spooky but not too scary. She is one of the hardest working writers I know and also one of the most optimistic. She is a champion of literacy for children, and uses costumes and props to enact her stories. If you live in Indiana and frequent writerly festivals/events chances are you have come across Mrs. Sturgis.

Sturgis as "Ghouliana"

Sturgis as “Ghouliana”

You write “Not Too Scary Tales” for young readers. Where is the line between Not Too Scary and Too Scary?

I’m very old school when it comes to the line between “Not Too Scary” and “Too Scary Tales”.
Because I write for advanced young readers (7+), I refrain from putting my characters in situations of true terror. While they may become lost, frightened or bullied, NEVER are they stolen, unnecessarily terrorized or graphically eaten alive.

How do you walk it?

Very carefully! I use a lot of silliness and humor to keep the tension levels at bay. Grown-ups DO NOT thank you for giving their young readers nightmares.

How important is promoting literacy among the young?

Is this a trick question (insert snarky grin here…)???

The ability to read defines a person’s ability to navigate life.
I believe there is no such thing as “too early” to snuggle a baby and read aloud from a book.
It doesn’t matter what the text says. It’s the warmth, closeness and tone of voice that makes the little one smile and recognize books as something wonderful.

A display in a local library shows off "The Shoe Troll" by Ghouliana Stories

A display in a local library shows off “The Shoe Troll” by Ghouliana Stories

You are perhaps the most active author I know. Between all the public readings, fairs, appearances, and social media, when and how do you actually write?

I write ridiculously early in the morning, usually from 5:00am until whenever, however, some of my most beloved characters have appeared after 3:30 am and before 7:00am.
These characters didn’t shuffle in as yawning and sleepy wisps wearing pajamas and slippers. They arrived without warning; wide awake, fully formed and ready to play.
As to how I write: first drafts are almost always written by hand, in pen, on recycled paper.
I love the freedom of scribbling words across the clean side of a used page. This gives me a feeling of “No Rules-No Fear” and allows me to dance with whoever shows up.
Also, this allows me to write just about any time and anywhere I have a few extra minutes.

How important is “legwork” for new writers?

Legwork is crucial! No one is going to walk up, knock on your door and ask, “Do you have any books in a box under your bed I can buy?”
If you don’t “put your book out there”, who will? Even if you have a traditional publisher, you are still expected to do a lot of self-promotion.

Mrs. Sturgis matches costumes with her characters.

Mrs. Sturgis matches costumes with her characters.

In one sentence, why are libraries important?

“Libraries are equal opportunity information providers.”
(Original Copyright 1992: Bess Sturgis)

Works by Bess Sturgis

 

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Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Author Robert Mullin

I recently had the pleasure of asking Robert Mullin a few questions. Robert is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is also a cryptozoologist who has been featured on the History Channel. A search for a living dinosaur has taken Robert to Africa multiple times.

I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it.

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Your debut fantasy novel, Bid the Gods Arise, has been well received. In February, you released a standalone prequel to the events of BTGA. I assume this was, in part, to satiate your fans. So tell us, when’s the sequel?!

You are correct that the novella (Blood Song) is a hat tip to the fans who have been waiting so long for the second book in The Wells of the Worlds series. It is also a way to develop a popular character’s past, which will be explored in Book 2, and so I want to have that story locked in my head before I proceed further.

I hoped to have the sequel finished by the time my son was born (sometime near the beginning of August). However, as busy as things have gotten lately, the new goal is to finish before the end of the year.

My fans are extremely patient, thank goodness.

BTGA weighs in at a whopping 481 pages. How important is book length to you?

You should have seen it before my editor got to it.

I actually prefer shorter works now that I’m a busy adult, but I love the richness and depth of a well-developed world — so it’s the bigger books that still catch my eye on the bookshelf. Ultimately, though, my philosophy has always been that a well-told story is simply as long as it needs to be. We have all seen examples of those tales that dragged on longer than they should have, or those that simply whetted our appetite for what they could have been.

Describe “Mullinesque” Fantasy/Sci-Fi.

By “Mullinesque,” I’m going to assume that you mean fantasy that reflects my personal tastes or worldview.

There is a trend in modern fantasy to approach the fantastical from a nihilistic perspective. It is no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to hopelessly romantic fantasy stories wherein reality is considered to take a back seat, and good always triumphs over evil. I actually understand where this “grimdark” sensibility comes from, but I fundamentally disagree with it as both a reader and as an author. I was enraptured by the world-building, characterization, and richness of story that George R. R. Martin brought to ASOIAF, but (sadly) ultimately abandoned that author for the same reason I did Stephen King many years ago: I decided that no matter how talented he was at bringing a story to life, I no longer cared to be saturated with such a hopeless viewpoint.

I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it. As a Christian, I can see both dark and light in the world, and want to make sure that they are accurately represented. (This does not mean that I don’t believe in shades of gray or even moral complexity; I simply don’t approach life or writing with an amoral or nihilistic viewpoint, and my books reflect this.)

With fantasy, I tend to prefer “mythic” or “mystical” over “magical.” I’m more interested in spiritual themes than magic-as-technology, so no matter how consistent or in-depth the magical system in any given world, it’s going to be lost on me if that is the primary focus of the book. With science fiction, it’s the same. I’m more interested in Romantic ideas (in the classical sense) than I am in nuts-and-bolts, or clinical storytelling that ultimately neither inspires nor informs. Take me on an adventure. It can be scary, it can be wondrous, it can be sad, but give me a world I’m interested in and characters I can relate to. I’m fond of stories that are not afraid to blend genres somewhat (as mine do), and that focus on character as much as setting. Ultimately people are drawn to the human condition, and I think that is what makes a timeless narrative.

Robert Mullin in Africa

Name two authors that inspired you. Why?

C.S. Lewis for his ability to expand the mind and cause the spirit to reflect. Timothy Zahn for his ability to make one forget that one is reading, and simply absorb the twists and turns as if one were watching a movie. I know of many more authors that are probably more artful, but those are qualities I would wish to emulate in my own writing.

Plug someone else’s work. Not yours, not mine. What author should we know more about?

I’m actually intrigued by several up-and-coming fantasy novelists whose tastes seem to reflect mine, but have not yet had a chance to delve into their works, so I hesitate to recommend them. Rest assured, though, that I shall. (Some of these have been kind enough to read and recommend my own books, so I have gotten introduced to them as readers first, and writers second.)

Probably the most influential author in my recent life has been J.C. Lamont. Her epic, Frank Peretti-meets-Tolkien take on history (Prophecy of the Heir) is probably one of the most ambitious projects one is likely to encounter.  I think that one day, should her novels ever reach public acclaim, she might be considered one of the ground-breakers in the speculative/historical fiction genre.

Robert Mullen, Fantasy-Science Fiction author

Robert Mullen, Fantasy-Science Fiction author

Pick up Robert’s Books

Posted in Author Interviews, General

5 Questions with Fantasy Author John Adcox

“…with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves.”

I interview John Adcox and receive some of the most-detailed answers to date. We explore John’s varied background, relate his marketing background to writing, and ask him to predict the future.

John Adcox

John Adcox

The first impression I have of you is that you are a man who wears many hats – publisher, author, and screenwriter for starters. You also boast a solid background in marketing and communications, and have helped some notable companies develop their brand. As a writerly person how important is it to be flexible in the age of the internet?

Well, with the economics of publishing changing, it’s incredibly important for authors to be able to promote and market themselves. The publishers, even the larger ones, really don’t do that anymore … at all. Even when they did, they never did it well. By and large, publishers have always marketed directly to booksellers, not book readers. That means, out of all the people in the world who might fall in love with your story, publishers are, at best, marketing to the few who happen to wander into bookstores.

In marketing, we call that “white hart” marketing. That’s a term that comes from mythology — the white hart is the object of the quest, a sort of walking Holy Grail. It grants wishes. The point is, they are (at best!) few, and they’re really, really hard to find.

The better way is to concentrate on all the other harts, the plain old brown ones. There’s lots of those, and no one is after them.

In this case, think of white harts as the people who frequent bookstores, and buy two or three books a week … pretty much every week. That sounds like the ideal audience, right?

The thing is, there are hundreds of new books published every week, and this white hart is buying three.

Books like, say, The Da Vinci Code and the Harry Potter series reach way, way beyond the audiences that usually buy books. Those people are hungry for stories, too. They are the brown harts. Go after them. Of course, the publishers will never do that.

So it’s pretty much up to writers. That’s not something we’re necessarily comfortable with, but I think it’s easier if you think in terms of building genuine relationships with audiences, or potential audiences, rather than selling.

Technology gives you amazing tools for communicating, and participating in the kind of communities that develop around stories. When you write, you’re writing for an audience. As much as we all like to think of ourselves as writing for the entire world, we’re actually writing for a smaller, specific audience — at least to start with. You might every well grow beyond that base, but you have to start someone.

The people in this audience share things in common … interests, passions, hobbies. There’s something in most of us, I think, that yearns to meet people “like us,” people who understand. C.S. Lewis put it like this in The Four Loves: “Friendship … is born at the moment when one man says to another “What! You too? I thought that no one but myself . . .” So those people tend to congregate somewhere.

For example, my agent is shopping a book of mine that’s set at a Renaissance fair. At least five million people go to a fair somewhere in the US every year … twice. Now then. Count the ones who go once a year, or every other year, and you have a fairly significant audience. You can use, say, Facebook to find people who love Renaissance fairs and, again for example, fantasy and/or paranormal romance, and you start to have a group that you can start interacting with.

You’ll find that most of them will say, “wow, here’s someone like me!” And they’re eager to help. Treat them with genuine respect and gratitude, and pretty soon you’ll have an audience. Just be sure to give back.

Your bio mentions that you are now focusing on storytelling, how do you bring everything together and streamline your efforts?

Mostly, that was a case of eliminating all the things that weren’t focused on storytelling. Sounds simple, right?

My company, Gramarye Media was lucky enough to be accepted into a business accelerator, Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint program. That program is designed to eliminate years of startup mistakes (and literally millions of dollars of wasted money). As a result, we were able to attract the attention of major investors.

Now, my job is to make books and movies – we’re the world’s first cross-media story incubator (basically taking the Silicon Valley business incubator model and applying it to storytelling and franchise development). So I am always in that creative space. As a result, it’s easier for me to switch gears when it’s time to concentrate on my own stories.

Plus, I’m constantly surrounded by extraordinary individuals who raise the creative bar so high that I can’t help being awed and inspired. I can’t say enough about the idea of creatives working in community.

Which one of your works best represents you? Why?

That’s way hard to answer, because I think on some level, they all do. At the very least, there’s something in all of them that I am passionate about, or even that I love dearly. Otherwise, why on earth would I devote so much time and energy to them? I think writing has to come from passion. It’s the difference between art and artifice.

But if I absolutely had to answer, I guess I’d say The Widening Gyre or The Sword and the Grail

John Adcox getting his pirate on.

John Adcox getting his pirate on.

You are an avid reader with an interest in Arthurian lore. Tell me, what is your favorite Arthurian work to read and way?

That’s just as hard to answer! I borrowed from so many (and I tried to acknowledge as many as I could) in The Widening Gyre. If I had to pick, I’d go with the first ones I fell in love with as a child, the ones that have never quite left me. One was (I think) The Boy’s King Arthur by Sidney Lanier (I was in the second grade at the time, so it might have been Howard Pyle’s.) The other was The Once and Future King. I adored that, and it changed me as the best books do. It’s where I learned philosophy, lovely writing, irony, and the ache of loss.

Tell me, what does the future hold?

Okay. Let’s see.

Sloths will one day rule the world. Seriously. Sloths. Don’t let the apes fool you. This will happen not when mankind dies out, but when we finally perfect the holodeck from Star Trek, because seriously, when we have those, why would anyone ever come out?

Aliens will make contact within the next century, mark my words. However, they will turn out to be the equivalent of intergalactic Amway salesmen, and everyone will be just all kinds of disappointed.

We will be able to buy self-cleaning clothes, but we’ll still find it too much trouble, and they’ll still wind up in piles in the corner.

The flying car will (soon!) become a reality. Alas, the invisible car will become real at about the same time, and it won’t go well. I blame the sloths in their secret, slow-moving labs.

Student essays and government bills will both be limited to 140 characters. They still won’t be read.

Walt Disney, who really IS frozen under Disneyland, will be thawed out to save the dystopian future with the magic of imagination. All of the news channels will use the tagline “Disney on Ice.”

Smart homes will become real. Unfortunately, that means most people will have to live elsewhere.

McDonald’s will exit fast food and go gourmet. The McQuick-seared Salmon with McMint-lime Cream Sauce will be to die for. The kid-sized portion, only available well done, alas, will still come with a Happy Meal toy, but they will all be sloths dressed as Marvel or Disney characters. No one will question this. It is all a part of the plan.

Star Wars Episode XXIII: The New Shadow will have an all-female cast. They still won’t release female action figures.

A frustrated electorate will demand that a third option, “Let’s Just Do Without a President for the Next Four Years” be added to the ballot. It will be a landslide.

The porn industry will collapse and die out when technology makes nurses, flight attendants, and pizza delivery boys obsolete. I mean, without the stories, why would anyone want to watch?

Lost will be remade, and it will still piss people off. [Editor’s note, I still haven’t finished the last season of Lost.]

Jesus will return in glory, and the Westboro Baptist Church will be there to protest.

Shortly after all this has come to pass, Patrick Rothfuss will finish book three.

If you’d like to find out more about Mr. Adcox please visit his website www.johnadcox.com

Posted in Author Interviews, General

Creatures: A Collection of Short Stories, pre-order and release date.

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Creatures make us uneasy because they hold our insecurities and other nasty bits.

Creatures: A Collection of Short Stories will be released for Kindle on July 15th.

This collection is like nothing I’ve written before, very much experimental. I am very happy with the outcome and grateful to the many beta-readers for their feedback.

Get to know a suicidal raccoon, a book goblin, a power-hungry seagull, a woodchuck fed up with the impossibility of life, and a dragon who wages psychological warfare on the human race.

Find out more & Pre-Order here

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Posted in General

New Short Story Collection!

E-book