THE REAL SCOOP ON SELF-PUBLISHING (no BS. Talking to my successful indie author friends.)


If you read books then you know that things they are a changing in the publishing world. A lot of folks are up in arms over the advent of independent publishing, or as it is know more commonly, self publishing. Now I have dipped my toe in that water. I have a self-pubbed little crime collection out. It’s full of these tiny crime stories that I love and think are kick-ass. They are too short for anyone to pay me for publishing them traditionally so I did it myself. It sells well and I had fun.

But I’m not a self-published author. It’s a ton of work and I do love my publisher. Kensington has been very good to me. So I am not an expert on what it’s like to really be a self-publisher. However, I am lucky enough to have many wonderful friends who self-pub. I chose three of them to interview for you today. Now I picked these three folks because of a few reasons.

1) They are all very talented. These are folks who are self publishing because they CHOOSE to, not because they suck.

2) They are actually making a livable wage (and then some) by self-publishing.

So without further adieu:

Q: Tell the readers a bit about yourselves.

Annabel Joseph: My name is Annabel Joseph and I’ve been writing for publication since about 2007. I started out at the two largest e-romance publishers and moved to self publishing after my 5th book. I have fourteen books out now with two more on the way, and I’d classify myself as a successful self-published author since I make a good living at it. I’m so thankful for my readers, because a lot of my success has come through word of mouth.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I write mostly paranormal fiction, you know…the kind with vampires and people who have special powers. My book that sells the best is The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter. I may delve into other genres, but for the most part they will always have a paranormal twist.

John Hartness: I’m John G. Hartness, author of The Black Knight Chronicles urban fantasy series from Bell Bridge Books, and the creator of Bubba the Monster Hunter and his series of short stories. I’m a professional writer, lighting designer, theatre director, writing instructor, poet, drunkard and knight-errant. Some people call me Maurice, ‘cause I speak of the pompatus of love.

Q: Why did you choose to self-publish?

Jennifer Malone Wright: The Decision to self publish was a huge decision and it was not made lightly. Seriously, I was researching publishing, agents, query letters and also the process of self publishing for years before I finished my first book. I finally chose self publishing because of the ebook boom and wanted to see what I could do with it before I pursued an agent.

Annabel Joseph:  It was a convergence of several things. First, I got a terrible cover for one of my traditionally published books. And when I say terrible, I mean, people went out of their way to write to me and say, “I did not buy your book because the cover was THAT bad.” When I complained to the publisher I was basically told to shut up, which smarts. I mean, that’s my book I labored over, and their cover sunk it. I’ll never get over it.

Around that same time, a friend convinced me to self publish one of my edgier books on Amazon. It started to sell–really SELL. By the second month it climbed to number one on the erotica bestseller list and stayed there for over a week. I had priced it at $2.99 and I sold thousands of copies at that price. I’m not saying that’s normal, but for whatever reason, the book generated word of mouth, and I made $12,000 on it that month. Meanwhile, my traditionally published book with the awful cover was priced at 11.90 and sold, I don’t know, maybe 30 copies.

I did the math in my head…hmmm…do I want to sell 30 copies a month and make $30 in royalties, or sell 6000 copies a month and get $12,000 in royalties? I was actually in contract negotiations with my next book and pulled out. The publisher got mad and it was a bad scene, but I’ve never looked back and I don’t regret it. For me, it was a matter of making a living at what I was doing, or not making a living, and I wanted to make a living.

John Hartness: I got impatient with the traditional publishing process. Not understanding the sheer volume of submissions agents and publishers receive, I waited a month after sending out my first few query letters and pulled the trigger on self-publishing.

Q: Do you love self-publishing or do you wish you were with a traditional publisher?

John Hartness: Even now that I am with a traditional publisher, I can’t foresee ever selling all my properties to traditional publishers. I love the editorial support I get from my publisher, but I love the control of self-publishing. And I write so much faster than any publisher could keep up with, so I will always keep at least one foot in the self-publishing waters. I look at all of it as stops on the journey. I learned a ton self-publishing that I’m now able to apply to my traditionally published works. Then I’m learning a ton through working with a traditional press that I can apply to my self-pub work. So it all flows back and forth.

Jennifer Malone Wright: There are some days I would disagree with the statement I’m going to make, but for the most part I totally love self publishing. I love being able to keep track of all my sales and know what works and what doesn’t. I love the creative process of picking covers and stuff like that. I actually like marketing so doing that doesn’t bother me either. The only thing I really don’t like is the accounting part of it.

Annabel Joseph: I only miss one thing about traditional publishing, and that’s the “prestige” factor. It doesn’t matter how many books you’re selling or how much money you’re making…a self-published author still appears “lesser” than a traditionally published author. There’s a stigma attached to it, the assumption that you’re self publishing because your work’s not publishable, and that’s not always the case.

I should mention here that I do believe it’s beneficial to put out at least a book or two the traditional way– if you can–because you learn a lot about what and what not to do. You learn a lot of things about writing and editing. If you’re determined to begin your career as a self publisher, do yourself a favor and hire an experienced editor to help you through your first few books. You need it. It’s costly, but I can’t stress this enough…everyone needs editors. Everyone. Every. One. Pay the money.

Q: I know each of you spend money on your covers. How important is a good cover to the sellability of the book?

Annabel Joseph: I know from experience they have a massive effect on book sales. My best covers have my best sales. My worst covers have my worst sales. Publishers will tell you–when you don’t like your cover–that covers don’t matter. It’s such a lie. When I talk to readers, they tell me they judge the cover before the blurb. You can have the best blurb in the world, but if that cover pic doesn’t compel them to click, they aren’t going to get to the blurb. Books live and die by the Amazon thumbnail, so not only do you need a great cover…it needs to be compelling in itty-bitty thumbnail form.

John Hartness:  I think a good cover is critical, particularly in paperback. I know I lost sales before I re-did all the covers to my books last year. I spend less money and time on my ebook short stories, but I can almost get away with that. But when I’m asking someone to shell out money for my novels, they need to get a professionally presented product.

Jennifer Malone Wright: Oh my goodness. A good cover is sooo important. I have seen several of my friends change their covers to something better and see their sales jump dramatically. I never did my own covers, The Vampire Hunter’s Daughter sells really well and the covers are great. My other novel, The Birth of Jaiden, doesn’t sell so well so we are going to try and come up with a new cover when we do the re release after it has been re edited. Think about how many books are out there, if yours doesn’t have an eye catching cover people will scan right on past it.

Q: What’s the best thing about self-publishing?

Jennifer Malone Wright: The best thing about self publishing is that I am in control of all my own work and I get a pretty good royalty compared to what traditionally published authors get.

Annabel Joseph: Control of your work is the number one best thing. A self publishing author controls the cover, the subject matter, the release date, the price, the formats, everything. Until you get a bad cover, or have an ebook out there priced at $11 totally tanking, you don’t understand how important that control is, or how powerless you are at a traditional publisher. Basically, you have NO power and no rights to your work, even though you’ve written the book. It’s difficult. With self publishing, you never have to surrender your rights or your power.

Self-publishing also allows you to bend genres and tiptoe around the outside of various genres, because you can put out things publishers don’t want to take a chance on. I’ve come to realize there are a lot of things readers want that publishers won’t touch. Self publishing allows authors to fill that niche. I had a historical called Lily Mine that a publisher kicked out a week before the release date because they said the ending was too implausible. It was a Cinderella-type story, and I believed readers would love it, so I published it myself. It climbed to number 12 on the erotica bestseller list and has continued to sell well for over a year now. Publishers aren’t always right about what people want to read.

John Hartness: The control.

Q: What’s the worst thing?

John Hartness: Having to do it all myself. I’m a team of one on my self-pub stuff, and with my traditionally pubbed work I’ve got a group working with me.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I said it before up there, the accounting. I freaking hate the whole save this for your taxes and make sure to claim this and blah blah blah… I hate it!

Annabel Joseph: Lack of respect, lack of opportunity. I have to kiss a lot of butt and do a lot of networking to get a spot at conferences or author panels, or to get reviewed on the bigger blogs. I’m not welcome at big romance conventions like RWA or RT, even though I imagine my sales match or exceed their published authors. It’s a constant struggle to be taken seriously, to prove yourself.

Q: Do you still get flack for being self-published, or has that day passed us by?

Annabel Joseph: No, it hasn’t passed us by. I do feel like the red-headed stepchild of the publishing industry. A lot of doors are closed to me because of the choices I’ve made, but I remind myself that I’m making a living at writing because I’m self publishing. The checks I get from my publishers are about 1/10 of the checks I get from my self-published work, and I don’t want to go back to those slave wages over an issue of pride. I have to remember it’s about the success, not the prestige. It’s about reaching readers and being able to stay home and do this as a full-time job. It’s worth a few people looking down their noses at me.

John Hartness: We’re not quite past that day, but we’re close. I still get a few snubs from cons and book festivals that won’t look at self-pubbed authors, and some agents and editors still look down their nose, but more and more people are travelling the hybrid author road, so it’s starting to look less like a decision people are forced into and more like a viable career path.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I do think, to an extent that that day has passed us by, but not completely. When I was first published I did get flack. You know, like when someone says “Oh, your published! With who?” then you tell them you are self published and you can see their whole facial expression change and they say “Oh.” Yeah, that has passed us by. We still have a long way to go to overcome the stigmas and stereotypes of self publishing over the years.

Q: Any predictions about the future? What will happen with traditional publishing? What will happen with self-publishing?

John Hartness: I think the picture of the author of the future will be different from the author of today. I think with a hybrid career (some trad pub, some self pub) we’ll see more midlist authors able to actually make a living off their writing, and writing will become a viable profession once again. I think the mass market paperback is dead within five years unless you’re a top 20 bestseller, and it will be replaced by ebooks and trade paperbacks. And I think we’re in the midst of a renaissance for small press and micro-press publishers.

Jennifer Malone Wright: I think we are always going to have traditional publishing, I don’t really have a prediction about them. For independent publishing, I think it will keep rising up and eventually a lot of these independent authors will be very, very well known. However, independent publishers must realize that we must have our product be equal or better than the traditional publishers or the self publishing industry will fall again.

Annabel Joseph: I think publishers will have to become more service-oriented to keep authors in the fold. The exodus to self-publishing has already begun, and to retain authors, publishers will have to cough up some perks to offset the low royalties they pay, like more author control. They’ll have to cater more to their authors and maybe even offer to do the promo legwork that has traditionally fallen into the author’s lap.

Otherwise I don’t see how they survive, how they remain relevant. Once the digital market overtakes the paper book market, and mass distribution of paper books loses importance, all publishers really have to offer is prestige and whatever perks they can think up to convince authors to share their royalties with them.

All I know is things are changing like crazy. It will be interesting to see where they end up.

***********

WOW! Thank you all for being so open and up front. I appreciate it.

See, dear reader, this is what you DON’T get from other blogs. I bring you the straight dope from folks who are LIVING this. Now do your part. These are all PHENOMENAL authors. You like to read so go buy one of their books. Follow them on twitter, like them on faceybook, repost their stuff. These fine folks are worthy of your support. Love them like you love me and buy their shit. 🙂

Here are your links:

ANNABEL JOSEPH

Website: www.annabeljoseph.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/annabeljosephnovels

Twitter: @annabeljoseph

Fetlife: Annabel_Joseph

Latest release: BURN FOR YOU

JOHN HARTNESS

Facebook : facebook.com/johnghartness.

  Website: www.johnhartness.com

Twitter:  @johnhartness.

Latest Release: SIXTEEN TONS A Bubba the Monster Hunter short

JENNIFER MALONE WRIGHT

Website: www.jenniferwrightauthor.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thevampirehuntersdaughter

Twitter:https://twitter.com/Jennichad217

Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4824985.Jennifer_Malone_Wright

Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Jennifer-Malone-Wright/e/B00508KU4I/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1

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WHAT HAS BEEN GOING ON? (The Happy-haps)


Okay gang. I have a LOT happening right now.

First of all BLOOD AND SILVER is about to drop and roundhouse kick the urban fantasy world in the neck. It’s available this Tuesday (Aug. 7th) and here are some early reviews:

“This is urban fantasy as men’s fiction—Sookie Stackhouse meets the Dresden Files by way of Maxim.” -Publisher’s Weekly

“Not only was Blood and Bullets not a fluke, but it seems as if it was nothing more than Tuck merely flexing his muscles, cracking his knuckles as he tossed off a quick “warming-up” novel before he really got down to business and started writing.” –Blogcritics.org

“I think Blood and Silver was even more exciting than Blood and Bullets, although I hate to say it because that one is in my top favorite books EVER and I don’t want to hurt its feelings.” –Literary Escapism

To celebrate I am having a book release on the 7th at 7pm.
If you are in the Atlanta area then come out to Foxtale Books in Downtown Woodstock. It’s gonna be a blast. I am having friends join me, awesome authors like:

Kalayna Price – USA Today Bestselling author of The Alex Craft and Haven novels.

Janice Hardy – Author of the Healing Wars trilogy.

Delilah S. Dawson – Author of the Sang series.

Annabel Joseph – Bestselling author of many erotica novels.

Alex Hughes – Author of Clean.

And we are doing a series of short readings, then Q&A, then signings, then a second Q&A geared toward authors, all moderated by the chief moderator of the Horror and Dark Fantasy track at Dragoncon, and book blogger for Bitten By Books, Carol Malcolm.  You will have access to not just me, but SIX incredibly talented authors. If you love the genre or write the genre THIS is the best opportunity you are ever going to have. Come out, bring a friend!

Speaking of Dragoncon I have my initial schedule of appearances. It is pretty action packed and I am loving it. Nine official panels, one more that I have been asked to sit in on (more on that closer to the time), and they hopefully will schedule a signing or a reading for me.  PLUS this year I am a member of the Author’s Lair booth in one of the big dealer rooms where my books will be sold and I will be there when I can to meet, greet and sign. Here is where I will be.

——————-
Title: The Good, the Bad and the Undead
Description: The never-ending appeal of vampires
Time: Fri 11:30 am Location: Centennial I – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Vampocalypse Now!
Description: Life in a world conquered by vampires
Time: Fri 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

——————-
Title: Remake It!
Description: A discussion of horror remakes, good and bad. What movies could stand to be remade?
Time: Fri 07:00 pm Location: Embassy C – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Our Monsters, Ourselves
Description: What each generation’s choice of monsters says about the world we live in
Time: Fri 08:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Pulp History
Description: From western penny mags to early sci-fi digests, great literature has come on cheap paper. Past, present & future collide in serialized dime fiction.
Time: Sat 11:30 am Location: International BC – Westin (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: Zombies: Beyond Armageddon
Description: Zombies in non-apocalyptic scenarios
Time: Sat 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
Moderator / MC for panel

——————-
Title: Urban Fantasy – What exactly is it?
Description: What makes urban fantasy different than other kinds of fantasy?
Time: Sat 04:00 pm Location: Centennial I – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: You Are What You Fight
Description: How heroes identify (or not) with their monstrous foes
Time: Sat 07:00 pm Location: Embassy C – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)

——————-
Title: This Is My Boomstick!
Description: Fans of the Evil Dead, unite!
Time: Sun 02:30 pm Location: Embassy A-B – Hyatt (Length: 1 Hour)
And last but in no way least I am excited to announce that I am teaming with Seventh Star Press to bring you a terrific Sword and Sorcery anthology called THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD. It will be a tremendous collection of new stories in the same vein as Robert E. Howard’s Conan, Michael Moorcock’s Elric, and Fritz Leiber’s Fafnir and Grey Mouser. Lots of action, lots of blood splashed steel, lots of face rocking awesome.

Seventh Star is a wonderful publisher and I am pleased as hell to be working with them.
Read about it here:
SEVENTH STAR PRESS ANNOUNCES THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD

and if you are a writer read the actual submission call here:
THUNDER ON THE BATTLEFIELD SUBMISSION CALL

Oh, and I am currently working on not one but TWO new, non-Deaconverse, manuscripts. 🙂

HEAD DOWN, MAKE WORDS (or how JA Konrath and Barry Eisler convinced me to write more)


Hello, hello.

This is not a blog about Amazon, Konrath, or self-publishing.  That blog is coming, but it is not todays.

Today I here to contemplate productivity.

Basically I have found myself, after book one of the Deacon Chalk series hit the bookstores, under the gun as far as deadline. Book 3 and e-novella 3 are due at the end of April.  I have been working diligently, making words, which is why we have had a few guests round these parts lately.  I have been plugging away.  I am now on track to finish in the allotted time which means that I will have written, and revised, roughly 100,000 words in about 2 months.

I have been able to accomplish this because I have a fairly clear idea where the story is going and coffee.

But this makes me realize that I need to be doing close to this level of production regularly. It’s not been a strain or a real struggle.

At close to that pace I could write 3+ novels a year.

Or have 5 novellas in 2 months.

I could build a nice sized catalog of stories in a short time.

Regardless of what I decide to do with pursuing publisher or indie publishing there is no question that the more material you have in the marketplace, the more money you make.

So I must write more because, by God I can. It’s not like I don’t have a list of story ideas as long as my gorilla style, freakishly long arm.

Maybe I will invest in Caf’e Bustello, the best damn coffee in the world….or at Walmart anyways.

EYEBALLS, NEEDLES, BURLESQUE GIRLS, AND INK (or an interview with Author/Tattoo Artist Julia Madeleine)


Loyals and True Believers HARK!

Today I bring you an awesome interview with a strange and unique person. She is one of the rare folks who are both a writer AND a tattoo artist like yours truly.

Julia Madeleine is Canadian and one helluva interesting Dame. Tune in and pay attention and at the end there will be FREE stuff.

Q&A with Julia Madeline

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Let’s start off with the good stuff, tell us about your newest book. It’s a prequel right?

There is a prequel called Scarlet Sins, which is a novella about a burlesque queen in the 1960s, her troubled marriage, and what she chooses to do to save it. Then there is my novel, The Truth About Scarlet Rose, about the subsequent murder of her husband and her grown daughter who has to help in the investigation.

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So why do you write such dark stuff? I mean you are a girl! Shouldn’t you be writing about love and stuff?

That’s funny James. Love is good. I write about love, but it’s usually love gone wrong, where someone is going to end up dead. Much more interesting that way, wouldn’t you say?

Now why did you choose to go the way of Amazon exclusivity? Would you recommend it to others?

I’m currently selling exclusively through Amazon because Kindle Direct Publishing allows for some great marketing tools like making your book free for a limited time which is a great way for new readers to find your work. I might eventually list my books with other eBook retailers like Kobo and Sony for example (never say never) but the market share for them is pretty small and they have a habit of discounting their books which affects the price on Amazon . The new king of the jungle is Amazon and they very author friendly.

 

What books or authors do you think influenced you as a writer? And what are you reading now?

I’ve read a lot of literary fiction since college and I think it influenced my writing considerably. Mary Gaitskill, Evelyn Lau, Joyce Carol Oates, Janet Fitch, Margaret Laurence. These days I’m pretty much reading just in the thriller genre. Currently I’m reading Hillary Davidson’s debut The Damage Done and Tumblin’ Dice by John McFetridge.

Okay, let’s switch gears to your other career. Like me, you are a professional tattoo artist. Your pinup work is super nice. Is that your favorite style?

 

Definitely. I love the classic pin-ups and I enjoy doing them in colour especially. They make for great tattoos. Gil Elvgren and George Petty are two of my favourite pin-up artists.

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Tell me how you got started in tattooing? Did you serve an apprenticeship or just sell your soul at the crossroads for the ability to tattoo?

 

I blackmailed my tattoo artist. Ha, ha. No, I just married him. When I lost my job as a match maker at a dating service, I started hanging around my husband’s shop answering the phones. I’ve always had an art background but never thought of doing anything professionally with it. Then I started to work on custom designs for clients and eventually that led to my husband teaching me to tattoo. He made that decision after the first time he had to cough up for my car payment. So basically tattooing found me, I wasn’t looking to be an artist at all.

How is the tattoo scene in your town? How is the author scene?

The tattoo scene is awesome. My husband Fabien, has had the shop, Malefic Tattoos, on the west side of Toronto for about 18 years so we’re well established and have worked at building a good reputation and a loyal clientele. I’ve been a tattooer myself for about 12 years. We’re in a big city, about 700,000 so no shortage of flesh. It’s cool to go through generations of families; the kids of parents we’ve been tattooing for years starting to come in now. Love seeing that. We’re doing the NIX tattoo show in Toronto this summer for the first time. So that’s going to be lots of fun.

The crime writing scene here is pretty good as well. We have an annual convention in Toronto called Bloody Words. It’s like a mini Thrillerfest. Lots of great Canadian writers.

Do you have any other creative outlets like painting or photography? Or do you stick with only the two of tattooing and writing?

I do but I’ve had to give them all up to feed my writing obsession. I used to paint and was into photography as well. I also used to design clothing and sew, garden, bake, make jewellery. All visual arts; I don’t sing, dance, or play music. But alas, writing is all consuming and in order to have the time for it, I’ve had to sacrifice all other creative mediums. Except for tattooing of course because that’s my career. It sucks sometimes because I still want to do all those other things, especially when I see things that inspire me. I really need to be more than one person.

 

Any advice to a person wanting to get into the writing gig?

Devour all the books on the craft of writing that you can get your hot little hands on. They will take your writing light years ahead. I’ve got Stein On Writing in audio book on my iphone and listen to it over and over. And I’ve got books with highlighted passages that I refer to regularly. You can never stop growing and learning, especially when it comes to writing. The same goes for tattooing. There’s always more to learn.

Thank you so much for coming by and sharing all your awesome with us!

Now, here’s the free stuff.

First, go check out Julia’s website.

http://www.juliamadeleine.com/

and then go pick up one of her books for FREE. Hell yes, you read that right, FREE on AMAZON but only March1-March3 2012. CLICK HERE TO GET IT..

STICK A NEEDLE IN MY EYE is a collection of 17 short stories of mayhem that are not for the faint of heart. These stories, one of which was nominated for a Derringer Award in 2011, have been featured in a number of crime fiction magazines. Buckets of blood are spilt between these pages, and some nice (and some not so nice) people die horrible deaths. Here you will meet a pedophile who picks the wrong little girl to try and molest; a clown who gets bullied by his wife one time too many, a serial killer who likes to take postmortem photographs of his victims, more than one angry wife/girlfriend seeking revenge on the other woman, and more than one escaped mental patient with murder in her heart.

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SPIDERS, GUNS, AND FIRE OH, HELLS YES! (or new cover art reveal)


Loyals and True Believers,

Let me talk to you about covers. Now when an author gets signed and a book is going live it needs a cover. Cover art is very important. It is the first thing a reader sees and it is the thing, oftentimes, that determines whether someone even buys the book in the first place.  It should hook the reader, informing them about the nuances of the story inside. A picture is worth a thousand words? Hell, put that picture on a cover and it becomes worth 80,000 words.

An authors get no say in the cover at all.

Generally, the author will see the cover before you, but we don’t get to speak to it at all or to make any changes.  I got lucky. I was sent model pictures for Deacon to choose from and was allowed to give a description of what I might like for cover one. Then the absolutely kick ass Gene Mollica (click here to see his site!) went and crafted the awesome cover to BLOOD AND BULLETS. I was real happy.

Then came the cover for e-novella 1 THAT THING AT THE ZOO. This one was put together by Lou Malcangi and the art department at Kensington.  I REALLY like the cover tot he e-novella and think it is super stellar considering there is ZERO budget on e-novella covers.

It came time to do the cover for SPIDER’S LULLABY (e-novella 2 out July 2012) and Lou and the boys delivered again! Here is the cover in all it’s glory.

C’mon, admit it. You are a bit creeped out right now. lol.

This story follows Deacon, Tiff, and Charlotte in a battle to save something held precious by Charlotte from the hands of an ex-yakuza assassin with a demon on his back. Mayhem, gunplay, and Were-spiders!

So now fast forward. I was given the chance to pop over another cover description/idea sheet and became friends through social media with Gene himself. We chatted and he began work on the cover for BLOOD AND SILVER (book 2 out in August of 2012). A while later Gene dropped me a line and told me he had finished the cover and was really happy with it. I contacted John and he was going to send it over for me to see.

Then the mail came.

In it was a package of cover flats for book 2. The Missus opened it and called me. She described it and I got excited. Then I came home and saw it for myself.

HOLY SHIZNACKIE BATMAN!

I love this cover. I cannot stop staring at it. I mean damn, I love cover one, but this one really resonates with me.  So enough with the yapping, here it is:

See? It. Is. AWESOME!

And Gene said I could use it however I want to promo so you will be seeing wallpapers for your computer and other items. I’m going to hang it on my wall.

 

WRITER FUEL (or my illicit love of coffee)


Alright. I will come clean.

I love coffee.

Not all coffee. You have to come at me with some flavor besides beans in water. I want a dark roast, the blacker the better (didn’t Malcolm X say the same thing?). I also want you to flavor it. I don’t care too much how. Peppermint mocha hazelnut cinnamon fudge unicorn pecan leprechaun blood, whatever. The more candy it is the better.

I add a spoonful of sugar because it really does help the medicine go down.

Then I need some creamer. Real liquid creamer preferably. And just like my coffee, don’t come at me with plain old cream flavored creamer. What are you kidding me?  Hazelnut, mint, almond, whatever, but you can take your plain old half and half and shove it where the sun don’t shine man.

And do not get me started on the Salted Caramel Frappachino from Starbucks…..that is crack and I am addicted.  Seriously, I am joining SCFA (Salted Caramel Frappachino Anonymous in case you didn’t follow because you haven’t had YOUR coffee yet.)

And coffee gets the writing mojo working. I make coffee and then somehow the magic elixir turns into making words. I love making words. Making words is what makes unicorns mate thus making baby rainbows.

You want more rainbows don’t you?

I thought so. Now give me my coffee.

THE MODERN VAMPIRE’S GUIDE TO EATING WELL (or a guest blog from Matt R. Jones of The Hollywood Vampires fame)


Alrighty Loyals and True Believers, listen up!

Let me introduce you to one of my good friends Matt R. Jones. He writes the Hollywood Vampire series which is a fun-filled bunch of mayhem loaded with a wacky, dark humor. It’s vampire fun for the whole family kiddos! Seriously, you should zip over when this is done and read more of his stuff.

Here is his take on something a modern vamp can do to not only get by in the world, but actually come out ahead on the whole blood game. So take notes and check his WEBSITE for more!

So now Matt, Take it away!

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Sex Offender Registries – A Vampire’s Best Friend!

Before we start discussing the where’s and how’s of getting a near-limitless supply of blood, I want to immediately get rid of a notion the media and popular vampire fiction has likely placed in your head.  Namely the one about how hard it is for a vampire to feed well.  Hogwash.

Getting blood is EASY.

Seriously.  There’s no real trick to it whatsoever, even for fledgling vampires.  It was more complicated in centuries past – and some older vampires cling to the more traditional methods and mindsets – but you’re a 21st century vampire.  You’ve got it made!

Now, let’s talk turkey.  Or blood, rather.

Most vampires I know prefer to feed from the schmucks of society – rapists, domestic abusers, child molesters – because not only do these people deserve to be exploited, but if they go missing or turn up hurt, nobody cares.

Also…

While typical vampire fiction wants you to believe that feeding on “innocent” blood – usually virgins – is a better experience, it really isn’t.  It’s a psychological fetish perpetuated by screwballs who get off on exploiting young girls, and I’d advise you against it.  Down that path lies ruin, misery, and villagers with pitchforks.

Blood is blood, and flavor variations come from personal habits and internal chemistry, NOT temperament.  In fact, some vampires I’ve spoken with have tried virgin blood and found it severely lacking in character, likely because said virgins have yet to go out and do anything interesting that might affect their blood chemistry.

“Gimme a cougar with a pint of Guinness in her and some seriously bad habits over Sweet Sally Purebread any day,” says Hank from Indiana.

So if you’re worried that feeding off of undesirables means you’re doomed to the vampire equivalent of TV dinners, cast your fears aside.  Amongst modern vampires, the common sentiment…

Smart vampires feed off society’s scum and live long, happy lives knowing they’re making their community a better place – pervert vampires chase after underage girls, upset the townspeople, and get burned alive in their houses.  Don’t be a pervert vampire.

So, where do you find the scum of society?  Why, the internet of course!

Today, I want to specifically talk to you about Sex Offender Registries – I can’t say enough good things about them.  These things are a godsend to newly-coined vampires everywhere, and I know some vampires who dine exclusively from these, to the point they’re able to stock up on blood for months in advance.

No fooling.  Sex offender registries rule.

What are they?

Simply put, there are a lot of sickos out there who prey on kids and teenagers, and society has deemed that once these jerks have been convicted, they have to register their whereabouts with local law enforcement and firmly stay “on the grid.”  Society doesn’t want sex offenders running around unaccounted for, and rightfully so.

The beauty of this system is that the locations of these sex offenders are made public knowledge, so everybody will know if a creep moves into their neighborhood.  This means the names, locations, and even the crimes of these sex offenders are kept in easy-to-use online registries, which are usually found with a simple Google search.  Most of the registries have pictures to make things even easier for you!

All you need to do is enter in “______ sex offender registry” into Google or other search engine, replacing the blank with your town or general area.  Take your pick, and start browsing.  Most registries will even provide you with a MAP showing exactly where your local perverts hang their hats… this is the vampire equivalent of taking candy from a baby.  A comatose baby.

Simply select one of these fine schmucks, go to their house, and take a pint or two.  Wash, rinse, repeat.

Speaking of which, there’s an aesthetic note about this process you should be aware of.  Namely, most sex offenders are quite ugly, and many of them are unwashed.  For your first feeding – where you’ll be establishing a powerful psychological advantage over them and letting them know that without a doubt you ARE a vampire – you’re going to have to drink straight “from the tap.”

So bring a washcloth and some anti-microbial soap.

Afterwards, bring a mug with you and make them drain their wrist into it for you – another effective psychological technique.  Of course, once you’ve established a working arrangement with a sex-offender, you’ll be able to force a positive influence on their hygiene, but even then…

Do you REALLY want to have regular intimate contact with some creep who diddles kids?

No sir.  Bring your mug.

Now, the thing with feeding from sex offenders is that – as a vampire – you hold a considerable amount of power over these jerks.  Sex offenders are the lowest rung on society’s ladder – they occupy a lower standing than even Nazis.  You don’t have to be very discreet with them… at all.

After all, if a guy convicted of diddling his eight-year-old cousin goes to the police and says he’s being menaced by a local vampire, what do you think is going to happen?  At best, he’ll get laughed at and sent on his way, at worst, Officer Friendly will take him out behind the dumpster and have an animated “discussion” with him.

This is why sex offender registries are such a boon to modern vampires!  Not only are you provided with a rich menu AND a map leading you straight to it, but you’ve got instant access to the most hated niche of society, who nobody’s going to bother defending.

There was one case in Pasadena, California where a vampire I’m friends with – Shelley, we’ll call her – had been feeding upon a former child-pornographer named Dale.  Dale got tired of Shelley coming by his house a couple of times a week, taking a pint, and making him pay a regular “convenience” fee of a hundred bucks.

So Dale went on the internet and found himself a vampire hunter.  When Shelley showed up the following Tuesday, the vampire hunter was there waiting for her.  Quick-thinking Shelley convinced the hunter to give her five minutes, and she proceeded to pull up Dale’s information on her cell phone.

After reading this, the vampire hunter beat the hell out of Dale, and told Shelley she got a free pass on this one.  Shelley fed heavily from Dale and took his TV as a “fine” for being an asshole.  The next time she showed up, she’d found Dale hung himself in the basement.  No great loss.

Long story short, even vampire hunters hate sex offenders more than they do vampires!  So on the chance one of your sex offenders finds somebody who DOES believe in vampires, you’re going to be viewed as the lesser of two evils.

It’s easy to establish a regular stable of sex offenders you can feed from a few times every week, and as previously mentioned, you don’t even have to be sneaky about it.

Most of the time, they’ll be so scared of you, they’ll fall into line.  Sex offenders are inherently weak, preying on those even weaker than themselves – as a vampire, you’re top of the food chain.  Present yourself as a strong, confident individual and you’ll be able to push around every sex offender you encounter.

This is excellent – fear of your wrath will ensure these creeps don’t step out of line and bother other kids.  Tell them you’re watching them at all times, and if they screw around, they’re dead meat.  If you’ve made friends with some local goths, have them swing by the creep’s house on random occasions, saying they’re there to “make sure he’s staying on the straight and narrow.”  Goths usually love scaring scumbags!

And if your sex offender DOES get out line or attempts to pull a fast one on you, you’re free to either report them to the police or kill them.  Trust me, when a child-molester turns up dead, nobody looks very deeply into it.

This is an ideal situation for new vampires still coming to terms with the morality of feeding on the blood of the living.  While you may understandably feel uncomfortable feeding on a librarian, cop, teacher, or somebody else who makes a positive contribution to your community – or just some regular schlub trying to make an honest living – you won’t feel such qualms about exploiting a diddler.

You’re terrorizing these cretins in a way the cops aren’t allowed to, you’re keeping them in line, you’re keeping kids safe, AND you’re getting a steady supply of blood.  Many vampires also extort money from sex offenders, and a vampire with a nice stable of sex offenders could be looking at an easy $1000 a week.

One word of advice, however.

If at all possible, spread out your sex offender stable in your local area.  Work on three or so in your hometown, grab another few in the next town over, and then some more in the town down the road. Plus, don’t let them know you’re preying on other sex offenders… ensure they feel isolated and vulnerable, as though you’re an instrument of retribution sent specifically to screw with THEM.

In fact, you may consider simply telling them you’re there to punish them for their deeds.  If they’re at all religious, grab a Bible and quote some appropriate verses to them… there’s plenty of stuff in the Bible about wrath, retribution, and getting your ass kicked by divine means.  A vampire quoting Bible verses at someone while throwing them around their living room scares the shit out of most people.

The idea behind spreading out your stable and nurturing feelings of isolation is simple.

If you’ve got a dozen or more sex offenders in your hometown, it may be VERY tempting to stay local and get all your blood in one place.  But since sex offenders can’t go to the cops, they MAY try to work together with other sex offenders in the same situation… work together towards taking you out.

It’s happened before when young vampires got cocky.  Sex offenders are weak, pathetic people, but if pushed hard enough, they also get desperate… and if they think there are others they can reach out to for help, they will.  While most of these uprisings are clumsy and taken care of without too much trouble, more than a few careless vampires have met their ends at the hands of vengeful diddlers.

At the very least, it sucks to be heading out for a quick pint or two, showing up at a diddler’s house, and having several wild-eyed sex offenders coming at you with crosses, wooden stakes, and anything stabby they can lay their hands on.  So be firm with these creeps AND pragmatic.

This also means you NEVER let them know where you live.  If they ask, don’t even answer – just slug them.  You’re the vampire, you’re in charge, and you don’t take guff off of anybody.  The same goes for your name – tell them to call you “master” or “mistress,” which will immediately establish a psychological advantage over them.  If somebody’s molested a kid, they don’t deserve decency from you.

Eventually we’ll discuss techniques where you lure troublemakers to your house, but save those for when you’re a little more advanced and assured in your skills.  All in due time!

If your stomach’s gurgling for blood right now, hop on to Google, start searching, and head out tonight in search of fresh, tasty, sex-offender blood.  Remember to take your washcloth and soap, your most firm and confident attitude, and possibly a few Bible verses.

Once you’ve got several diddlers in line, you’ll never go hungry again… and quite possibly may have all your financial concerns taken care of, as well.  Plus, you’ll be helping your community!

Being a 21st century vampire is simply fantastic, and I look forward to helping you find your footing in future installments!

SHAMBLING, SHUFFLING, AND MOANING THE BLUES (or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Zed word)


Well kids, it’s that time of the year again. That’s right, it is creeping up on Halloween time. All Hallow’s Eve, Samhain, Dia De Los Muertos… whatever you are celebrating it is all about the dead. This year, round here it’s all about the undead.

Specifically, zombies.

Ah, zombies. Whether they shuffle, shamble, run, or crawl everybody loves zombies. There is a lot of zombie fever around the Casa De La Tuck lately too.

First of all, my twisted zombie love story called “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is now out in ONE BUCK ZOMBIES. You can buy it everywhere e-books are sold in whatever format you need and all for ONE BUCK! (that’s right folks, it’s not just a clever title.) Not only do you get my chunk of undead deliciousness (which I am extremely proud of BTW) you also get four more stories full of zombies.

And look at this gorgeous zombie cover.

Here is what the first review says about this:

-“One Buck Horror has done it again. Five squirmy, creative, scary, bloody horror tales, these featuring the monster du jour, zombies!  . . . particularly “He Stopped Loving Her Today”  . . . . certainly deliver enough chills and lip-chewing fear to make this collection more than worth the cost. ” –
MaryAnnReads (Amazon.com)

Here are the links:

Amazon  and Barnes and Noble

Then, for my own personal enjoyment I am reading PATIENT ZERO by Jonathan Maberry.

Oh man this is a good book! And such a cool concept that I am still pissed that I didn’t come up with it first!  It’s like 24 mixed with zombies. It is truly off-the-chain.

And I just finished MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL by Larry Correia, which doesn’t have zombies in it, but it does have a ton of other undead and still kicks ass.

Plus I have been watching DEATH VALLEY on MTV. Listen, if you haven’t been tuning in then you are really missing out. This show is GOLD I am telling you. It’s COPS mixed with zombies, werewolves, and vampires. It’s also funny, just a dash of RENO 911 to break the monotony. It is truly an awesome show.

And on Sunday we have the return of one of the best zombie shows EVER MADE IN THE WORLD EVER! What else could I be talking about but THE WALKING DEAD on AMC. I mean really, the Tuck house is so freaking excited for Sunday night it is insane. Yes the show veered away from the comic book at the end, but I am fine with that because what they gave us was high quality.  And Me, The Missus, and The Son had the chance to see a WALKING DEAD panel at Dragoncon and it was one of the best panels. All the adults from the show ditched since it was first thing Monday morning, leaving all the kids from the show to handle the panel all by themselves. Let me tell you something, those kids rocked it. They were funny, charming, and highly entertaining.

AND to top it off Hornady, one of my favorite ammo companies has announced a new line of ammo ZOMBIEMAX! Check it out.

 

All this zombie fever has me in the mood to write some more zombie stuff. I now have 2 pages of notes on a new series about a Zombie Response Tactical Unit…so when I finish Book 3 of Deacon Chalk (titled BLOOD AND MAGICK) as well as the other two e-novellas in the series I just may be writing some brain splattering fun for you!

YOU’LL TURN A GIRLS HEAD WITH TALK LIKE THAT


Wow, so many incredible authors have given me the honor of blurbing BLOOD AND BULLETS.  I am stunned. And absolutely thrilled. I thought I would share them, unedited, with you today.

(Blubs get edited down dramatically to the literary equivilant of a soundbite!)

“A dark, damaged, lonely man takes on the undead underworld and the monsters who live in it. Deacon Chalk kicks monster ass!” –
Faith Hunter -author of the Jane Yellowrock series and the Rogue Mage series

“BLOOD AND BULLETS certainly lives up to its name. Sort of a cross between Kill Bill and From Dusk Till Dawn, James R. Tuck’s debut novel delivers a fast-paced, action-filled story that kicks off his new series with a bang. Literally. This is not your daughter’s vampire book! There are no brooding, star-crossed lovers (sparkly or otherwise), no sexy vampires searching for their soul mates. Tuck gets back to basics in a world where monsters are evil and someone has to kill them. Enter the hero: a tattooed and tortured gun-slinging, vampire-slaying bad ass. If Dirty Harry and Anita Blake had a love child, he would be Deacon Chalk. I was hooked from the beginning to the end! Ladies, if Dark Urban Fantasy is not your cup of tea, then buy it for the man in your life. It’s an action movie in print and the guys will love it!”
Jenna Maclaine– Author of the Cin Craven series of books

“BLOOD AND BULLETS is bursting at the seams with picture-painting language and satisfying surprises. Deacon Chalk is so vividly drawn you can almost reach out and stroke his goatee. Rapid fire action never stops, and Deacon’s irresistible voice propels you along for the ride. When I finished this book I was out of breath!”
Annabel Joseph– Bestselling author of Club Mephisto and many other fine titles.

“Blood & Bullets is a straight-up meat ‘n potatoes testosterone ass-kicker that delivers you thrills, chills, and kills with a rock-steady hand, unblinking eye, and no mercy for the things that go bump in the night. If you’re hungry for supernatural adventure free of trembling romance or are SICK of sad vampires, mainline this book RIGHT NOW – Deacon Chalk is the Charles Bronson of urban fantasy, guaranteed 100% BS-free.
Relentless, vicious, and yet with a core of genuine humanity the monsters can’t touch – Deacon’s a man pushed to the edge by the forces of darkness, and instead of falling in, he’s chosen to PUSH BACK in spectacular fashion…
If you’ve got a vampire bothering your daughter, call in Mr. Chalk – within fifteen minutes, you’ll be sweeping the vampire out the door with a broom.”
Matt R. Jones– Author of the Hollywood Vampires series.

“Excellent book, fast pace, brutal, a roller coaster adrenaline ride and you don’t even have to get off the sofa to experience it.
Deacon Chalk is who the monsters are afraid of!”
Adrienne Wilder – Author of the City Of Dragons series and the Darwin’s Theory series

Go, click links, buy books.  I’ll be over here swooning. 🙂

DRAGONCON SCHEDULE!


Okay Loyals and True Believers this year’s Dragoncon is the first official author appearance by yours truly. I have a busy weekend ahead and I AM GOING TO HAVE A BLAST!

Here is where I will be and I would LOVE for you to come to one of these panels if you are at Dragoncon too!

Friday, September 2 · 7:00pm – 8:30pm
Guesting on DARKSIDE DETECTIVES Panel Cairo/Hyatt
Speakers: Larry Correia, Carole Nelson Douglas, Laura Anne Gilman, Rob Thurman, James R. Tuck
Moderator: Carol Malcolm
Join this kick ass panel of authors as we discuss Occult Detective fiction for a new millennium.
We will be covering all the greats and our own! This will be your first chance to see me talk about the upcoming book BLOOD AND BULLETS and the main character Deacon Chalk!
This is a great group of authors and you should definitely make it to see us all.
Saturday, September 3  1:00pm-2:00pm
Moderating the VAMPIRE DIARIES panel featuring Sara Canning  Montreal/Vancouver
Ask all your questions about The Vampire Diaries to a star of the show!
I love the Vampire Diaries so this should be a blast!
Saturday, September 3 7:00pm-8:00pm
Moderating the STATE OF FEAR panel Cairo/Hyatt
Speakers: Elizabeth Donald, Nancy L. Holder, Jonathan Maberry, Anya Martin, Philip Nutman
Moderator: James Ray Tuck
The current state of horror fiction and speculation as to what will be next.
This is another spectacular group of authors. Come hear what they have to say about the trends of HORROR!
Saturday, September 3 8:30-9:30
Guesting on the THE ADVENTURE CONTINUES panel Cairo/Hyatt
Speakers: David B. Coe, Faith Hunter, Stacia Kane, J F Lewis, Jeanne C. Stein, James Ray Tuck
Moderator: Carol Malcolm
Creating and sustaining dark and urban fantasy series.
Wow, the level of these writers stuns me. I am anticipating this panel to rock your face off. If you are a reader or a writer of a series, come to this one!
Sunday September4 7:00pm-8:00pm
Guesting on the SHADOWED STREETS panel Monteal/Vancouver Hyatt
Speakers: Carole Nelson Douglas, Stacia Kane, J F Lewis,
Jeanne C. Stein, James R. Tuck,
Moderator: Carol Malcolm
Grit and grime in urban fantasy fiction.
Another star-packed panel. Wow, these folks are awesome and I am honored to be in their company. Come see me for the last shebang of the con for me!
Come out. Say hello. Get free bookmarks! Meet and greet some awesome authors and have a thoroughly good time!
And if you see me just walking around the con please say hello! I would love to see you if I know you and I would love to meet you if I don’t!